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Friday, September 28, 2012


Vatican City,  (VIS) - The plenary assembly of the Council of European Episcopal Conferences (CCEE) is meeting in Sankt-Gallen, Switzerland, from 27 to 30 September, in an event which coincides with the 1400th anniversary of the arrival there of St. Gallus, a disciple and compatriot of St. Columbanus. For the occasion Cardinal Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. has, in the Holy Father's name, sent a message to Cardinal Peter Erdo, president of the CCEE, in which he notes that this anniversary "invites us to reflect on the perennial task of evangelisation, and on its current and renewed importance".

"The experience of St. Gallus, like that of so many other protagonists of the evangelisation of Europe and the entire world, teaches us that the Christian message is sowed and takes root where it is put into authentic and eloquent effect by a community, in such a way that preaching is supported by the witness of fraternal charity and animated by joint prayer", the cardinal writes.

"Thus the memory of St. Gallus and his work, on the eve of the Synod on the New Evangelisation, will be a stimulus to the plenary of the CCEE to look with faith and hope - with the gaze of Christ the Lord - to the 'great harvest' of the European peoples, following the path of Vatican Council II and the teachings of the Supreme Pontiffs who have put it into effect. In particular, we should recall the magisterial lesson of Servant of God Paul VI in his 'Evangelii nuntiandi', and the bequest of Blessed John Paul II in 'Novo millennio ineunte', naturally in the light of Magisterium of the Holy Father Benedict XVI and with a view to the forthcoming Year of Faith".


Vatican City,  (VIS) - At midday today in the Holy See Press Office, a press conference was held to present the "Ratzinger Prize", which was established by the "Vatican Foundation: Joseph Ratzinger - Benedict XVI" and is due to be conferred on 20 October.

At the press conference Cardinal Camillo Ruini, president of the Foundation's academic committee, announced the names of the prize winners: the French historian Remi Brague and the American scholar of patrology and theology Fr. Brian Edward Daley S.J.

From 1990 to 2010 Remi Brague was professor at La Sorbonne University in Paris, France. He currently holds the "Romano Guardini" chair at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Germany, while continuing to work as visiting professor at a number of American, Spanish and Italian universities. He is a member of the "Institut de France, Academie des sciences morales et politiques", and holds the "Grand Prix de Philosophie de l'Academie Francaise". His many works include: "Europe, la voie romaine", "La sagesse du monde. Histoire de l'experience humaine de l'univers", "Du Dieu des chretiens et d’un ou deux autres" and "Les Ancres dans le Ciel".

Cardinal Ruini described Professor Brague as "a true philosopher and, at the same time, a great historian of cultural thought who unites a profound and unequivocal Christian and Catholic faith to his speculative ability and historical vision".

From 1978 to 1996 Fr. Brian Edward Daley taught theology and the history of theology at the Weston School of Theology in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Currently he is a professor at the University of Notre Dame. He is active in the field of ecumenism, particularly as regards relations between Catholics and Orthodox, and is the Catholic secretary of the North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation. Among other works, he is author of "The Hope of the Early Church: A Handbook of Patristic Eschatology". He has also edited an anthology of texts of Jesuit spirituality entitled "Companions in the Mission of Jesus", and contributed to the "Handbuch der Dogmengeschichte".

Fr. Daley, said Cardinal Ruini, "is a great historian of patristic theology, but also a man entirely committed to the life and mission of the Church, an exemplary model of the fusion of academic rigour with passion for the Gospel".

Benedict XVI ordered the creation of the "Vatican Foundation: Joseph Ratzinger - Benedict XVI" on 1 March 2010, in order to respond to a desire expressed by many scholars over the course of the years. One of the tasks of the academic committee is to establish criteria of excellence for the creation and conferral of prizes to scholars who have distinguished themselves in academic publications and/or research.

"The aim of the Foundation", explained Msgr. Giuseppe Scotti, president of that institution who was also present at today's press conference, "is to place the issue of God at the core of philosophical reflection. ... The conferral of the Ratzinger Prize, which seeks to place the question of God before the eyes of the public, is just one of the Foundation's three regular activities. The other two, perhaps less well know but equally important, ... are the granting of bursaries to doctorate students of theology, and organising high-level academic conferences".


Vatican City,  (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience:

- Zion Evrony, the new Israeli ambassador to the Holy See, for the presentation of his Letters of Credence.

- Cardinal Antonio Maria Veglio, president of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Itinerant Peoples.

- Cardinal Zygmunt Zimowski, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care.

Thursday, September 27, 2012


Vatican City,  (VIS) - The International Federation of Sports Medicine (FIMS) is, for the first time in its history, holding its world congress in Rome. For the occasion participants were received in audience by the Pope this morning, at the Apostolic Palace in Castelgandolfo.

This, the thirty-second FIMS world congress, is being attended by people from 117 countries on the five continents, "a significant indication", the Holy Father said, "of the capacity for sports and athletic endeavours to unite persons and peoples in the common pursuit of peaceful competitive excellence".

"Just as sport is more than just competition, each sportsman and woman is more than a mere competitor: they are possessed of a moral and spiritual capacity which ought to be enriched and deepened by sports and sports medicine. Sometimes, however, success, fame, medals and the pursuit of money become the primary, or even sole, motive for those involved. It has even happened from time to time that winning at all costs has replaced the true spirit of sport and has led to the abuse and misuse of the means at the disposal of modern medicine".

This, the Holy Father noted continuing his English-language address, is one of the questions being discussed at the congress. "This", he said, "is surely because you too appreciate that those whom you care for are unique and gifted individuals, regardless of athletic capabilities, and that they are called to moral and spiritual perfection prior to the call to any physical achievement. Indeed, St. Paul notes in his First Letter to the Corinthians that spiritual and athletic excellence are closely related, and he exhorts believers to train themselves in the spiritual life".

"As the Lord Himself took human flesh and became man, so each human person is called to reflect perfectly the image and likeness of God. I therefore pray for you and for those whom your work benefits, that your efforts will lead to an ever more profound appreciation of the beauty, the mystery and the potential of each human person, athletic or otherwise, able-bodied or physically challenged".


Vatican City,  (VIS) - Yesterday evening at the Apostolic Palace in Castelgandolfo, the German diocese of Wurzburg offered a concert in honour of the Holy Father. The performance - entitled "Augustinus, a mosaic of sound" - was intended as part of an international symposium on St. Augustine which is currently taking place at the "Augustiniaum" in Rome. The piece was composed by Winfried Bohm and Wilfried Hiller, and performed by the choir of the cathedral of Wurzburg.

"The modernity of this Great Father of the Latin Church is unchanged, as is evident in the music we have just heard", said the Holy Father referring to St. Augustine in his remarks at the end of the concert. "Augustine is present and 'timeless'. Man's struggle, his search for the most intimate part of himself, for truth, for God, remains valid for all times. It does not concern only a master of rhetoric and grammar who lived in the disturbed times of late antiquity, but all human beings of all times".

"May your symposium on the relationship between cultures in Augustine's 'City of God' be a fruitful contribution to deepening your reflections on the bishop of Hippo, and to reconsigning his validity for the questions and challenges we are facing today".


Vatican City,  (VIS) - "On the afternoon of 26 September 2012, before the Secretary General of the United Nations, Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States, deposited the instrument of adherence to the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes against Internationally Protected Persons, including Diplomatic Agents (the 'Protection of Diplomats Convention')", according to a communique released today by the Holy See.

"In taking this step the Holy See has declared, in both its own name and that of Vatican City State, that its intention is to make a further concrete contribution to the global commitment to combating crimes against diplomats.

"The instrument of adherence also recalls how promoting the values of fraternity, justice and peace between individuals and peoples is something particularly close to the heart of the Holy See, and that these objectives require observance of the rule of law and respect for human rights. In this perspective, adherence to the Convention confirms the Apostolic See's interest in international instruments of judicial cooperation in criminal law, the which, like this Convention, constitute an effective guarantee against criminal activities deleterious to the peace and dignity of man.

"Therefore this decision not only expresses the Holy See's desire to collaborate in further protecting diplomatic personnel (in primis, its own and those accredited to it), but also helps the international community to guard against the risks of terrorism.

"Finally, the initiative is itself part of the process which, as is well known, began some time ago and aims to adapt the Vatican judicial system to the highest international standards combating this serious problem".


Vatican City,  (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience:

- Six prelates of the Conference of Bishops of France on their "ad limina" visit:

- Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard, archbishop of Bordeaux, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Laurent Dognin.

- Bishop Hubert Herbreteau of Agen.

- Bishop Herve Gaschignard of Aire et Dax.

- Bishop Marc Aillet of Bayonne.

- Bishop Michel Mouisse of Perigueux.

- Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity.


Vatican City,  (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Fr. Kestutis Kevalas of the clergy of the archdiocese of Kaunas, Lithuania, national director of Radio Maria, as auxiliary of the same archdiocese (area 8,750, population 678,000, Catholics 543,000, priests 135, religious 232). The bishop-elect was born in Kaunas in 1972 and ordained a priest in 1997. He studied in Lithuania and the United States and has worked in education and the pastoral care of young people.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


Vatican City,  (VIS) - The liturgy as a school of prayer, as a "special place in which God addresses each one of us ... and awaits our response", was the theme of Benedict XVI's catechesis during his general audience, held this morning in St. Peter's Square.

The Pope explained how, in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, "we read that the word 'liturgy' originally meant a 'service in the name of/on behalf of the people'. If Christian theology took this word from the Greek, clearly it did so thinking of the new People of God, born of Christ Who opened His arms on the Cross to unite mankind in the one peace of God; 'service in the name of the people', a people which exists not of itself but which has come into being thanks to the Paschal Mystery of Jesus Christ".

"The Catechism also states that in Christian tradition, the word 'liturgy' means the participation of the People of God in the work of God". In this context Pope Benedict recalled how the document on the liturgy had been the first fruit of Vatican Council II. "By beginning with the issue of liturgy, light was very clearly thrown on the primacy of God, on His absolute precedence. ... Where the gaze on God is not decisive, everything becomes disoriented. The fundamental criterion for the liturgy is that it should be oriented towards God, in order to ensure we participate in His work.

"Yet, we might ask ourselves", the Holy Father added, "what is this work of God in which we are called to participate? ... And what makes the Mystery of the death and resurrection of Christ, Who brought salvation, real for me today? The answer is this: the action of Christ through the Church and the liturgy; in particular the Sacrament of the Eucharist which causes the sacrificial offer of the Son of God Who redeemed us to be present; the Sacrament of Penance in which we pass from the death induced by sin to new life; and the other Sacraments which sanctify us".

Quoting again from the Catechism of the Catholic Church the Pope affirmed that "a sacramental celebration is a meeting of God's children with their Father, in Christ and the Holy Spirit; this meeting takes the form of a dialogue, through actions and words'. Thus", he explained, "the first requirement for a good liturgical celebration is that it be prayer and dialogue with God, first listening then responding. ... Sacred liturgy offers us the words, it is up to us to enter into their meaning, absorb them, harmonise ourselves with them. ... One fundamental and primordial element of dialogue with God in the liturgy is concordance between what we say with our mouths and what we carry in our hearts", he said.

The Pope then referred to a particular moment in which the liturgy calls upon us and helps us to find such concordance: the celebrant's invitation before the Eucharistic prayer: "sursum corda", meaning "let us lift up our hearts"; lift them up, that is, "out of the mire of our concerns and desires, our worries and our distraction. Our hearts, the most intimate part of us, must open meekly to the Word of God and join the prayer of the Church, in order to be oriented towards God by the very words we hear and pronounce".

"We celebrate and experience the liturgy well", the Pope concluded, "only if we maintain an attitude of prayer, uniting ourselves to the mystery of Christ and to His dialogue of a Son with His Father. God Himself teaches us to pray. ... He has given us the right words with which to address Him, words we find in the Psalter, in the great prayers of sacred liturgy and in the Eucharistic celebration itself. Let us pray to the Lord that we may become increasingly aware of the fact that the liturgy is the action of God and of man; a prayer that arises from the Holy Spirit and from us; entirely addressed to the Father in union with the Son of God made man".

Following the catechesis the Holy Father addressed greetings to, among others, faithful from Latin America, including a group of Chilean parliamentarians whom he reminded of Catholic politicians' duty "generously to seek the common good of all citizens, in a manner coherent with the convictions held by the children of the Church".


Vatican City,  (VIS) - In New York on 24 September, Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States, addressed the United Nations High-level Meeting on the Rule of Law at the National and International Levels.

Archbishop Mamberti spoke in his capacity as Holy See delegate to the sixty-seventh Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations. Brief extracts from his English-language remarks are given below.

"Faced as we are by challenges old and new, the calling of the High-Level Meeting on the Rule of Law is an important opportunity to reaffirm the will to find political solutions applicable at the global level with the aid of a juridical order solidly based upon the dignity and nature of humanity, in other words, upon the natural law.

"This is the best path to follow if we wish to realise the grand designs and purpose of the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which remain relevant by means of various treaties on human rights, disarmament, and the codification of the great principles of international law and in the gathering and progress made in the norms of humanitarian law.

"It will be possible to advance if, as well as working through ever more specialised organs, including in economic and financial matters, the United Nations remains a central point of reference for the creation of a true family of nations, where the unilateral interest of the most powerful ones does not trump the needs of the weaker ones. Such will be possible if legislation at the international level is marked by respect for the dignity of the human person, beginning with the centrality of the right to life and to freedom of religion".


Vatican City,  (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed:

- Bishop Tome Ferreira da Silva, auxiliary of Sao Paulo, Brazil, as bishop of the diocese of Jose do Rio Preto (area 14,423, population 934,000, Catholics 701,000, priests 136, permanent deacons 17, religious 175), Brazil.

- Appointed Fr. Joao Francisco Salm of the clergy of the archdiocese of Florianopolis, Brazil, archdiocesan bursar, as bishop of Tubarao (area 4,531, population 363,000, Catholics 316,000, priests 52, permanent deacons 1, religious 102), Brazil. The bishop-elect was born in Sao Pedro de Alcantara, Brazil in 1952 and ordained a priest in 1979. Among other roles, he has worked as formator and later rector of the Seminary of Azambuja, and as a coordinator for pastoral care.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Vatican City,  (VIS) - "God, the unknown" is to be the theme of the "Atrium of St. Francis", an initiative organised by the Pontifical Council for Culture, the Holy Convent of Assisi and the "Oicos Riflessioni" Association. A press conference presenting the event was held this morning in the Holy See Press Office.

The meeting is due to take place in the Italian town of Assisi on 5 and 6 October and is part of the "Courtyard of the Gentiles" project, a structure for permanent dialogue between believers and non believers created by the Pontifical Council for Culture under the presidency of Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi. The Courtyard of the Gentiles has already organised events in several European capitals.

The Assisi meeting, in which more than forty speakers are due to participate, will be opened by Giorgio Napolitano, president of the Republic of Italy. The programme, which involves nine meetings in nine "atria" at different locations around the city of St. Francis, will cover the following themes: "Work, business and responsibility", "Contemplation and meditation", "Inter-cultural and inter-religious dialogue for peace", "Young people, between faith and nihilism", "The cry of the earth", "Art and faith", "The cry of the poor, the world economic crisis and sustainable development". Among the participants will be figures from the worlds of culture, science, art and economics, such as film-maker Ermanno Olmi, architect Massimiliano Fuksas, and trade union leader Susanna Camusso.

"In a second edition of his letter to the faithful St. Francis addressed himself to 'all Christians, religious, clergy and laity, to men and women, to all inhabitants of the world entire'", notes Fr. Giuseppe Piemontese, custodian of the Holy Convent of Assisi. "We are opening the 'Atrium of St. Francis' with great humility, and under the sign of that evangelical openness to others. Our hope is that the Courtyard of the Gentiles, in its call at Assisi, will be able to demonstrate the 'pure heart' and 'pure mind' to which St. Francis called us".


Vatican City,  (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience Cardinal Marc Ouellet P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.

Monday, September 24, 2012


Vatican City, 23 September 2012 (VIS) - At midday today the Holy Father appeared on the balcony overlooking the internal courtyard of the Apostolic Palace at Castelgandolfo to pray the Angelus with faithful gathered there.

The Pope commented on today's Gospel reading from St. Mark in which "Jesus began to speak openly about what would happen to Him at the end. ... It is clear that a great interior distance separates Jesus and His disciples. They are, so to speak, on two different wavelengths, and so the words of the Master are either not understood, or understood only superficially".

For example, the Holy Father went on, "the Apostle Peter, after having shown his faith in Jesus, reproved Him because He predicted that He would be rejected and killed". In their turn the disciples, following the second announcement of the Passion, "began discussing which of them was greatest". Finally, following the third announcement "James and John asked Jesus to be allowed to sit at His right and left hand when He was in glory.

"But there are several other signs of this distance", Benedict XVI added, "for example, the disciples were unable to heal an epileptic boy, whom Jesus later healed with the power of prayer. Moreover, certain children were presented to Jesus, the disciples reproved them but Jesus was indignant and insisted they stay, affirming that only those like unto children can enter the Kingdom of God".

All this, the Holy Father explained, "reminds us that God's logic is always “other” with respect to our own. ... For this reason, following the Lord always requires a profound conversion on the part of man, a change in his or her way of thinking and living. It requires an openness of heart, in order to listen and allow oneself to be enlightened and transformed from within. A key point in which God and man are different is pride: God has no pride, because He is absolute fullness, and is completely given to love and the giving of life. In us, on the other hand, pride is deeply rooted and requires constant vigilance and purification. We, who are small, desire to appear great, to be the first, while God does not fear to humble Himself and make Himself the last".


Vatican City, 23 September 2012 (VIS) - In his greetings following the Angelus prayer today, the Holy Father addressed some remarks to French-speaking pilgrims, whom he thanked for their prayers for his recent apostolic trip to Lebanon and, by extension, to the entire Middle East. "Continue to pray for Christians of the Middle East, for peace and for serene dialogue between religions", he said.

"Yesterday", the Pope went on, "I was spiritually united to the joy of faithful in the French diocese of Troyes, who were gathered together for the beatification of Fr. Louis Brisson, founder of the Oblates of St. Francis of Sales. May the example of this new blessed bring light to your lives. He was wont to say: 'I need God, it is a hunger which devours me'. Learn to have that same hunger for God, and to appeal to Him constantly and trustingly".

Turning then to address Polish pilgrims, Benedict XVI quoted Jesus words: "Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me". Let us, he said, "ask God that these words may inspire all those responsible for the gift of life, for a dignified education, and for the safe and serene development of children. May all children enjoy the love and warmth of the family".


Vatican City,  (VIS) - This morning at Castelgandolfo Benedict XVI received participants in a meeting being promoted by the Christian Democrat International, the president of which is the Italian politician Pier Ferdinando Casini.

"The involvement of Christians in society", the Holy Father said, "must not lessen or decrease; rather, it must be proffered with renewed vitality, in view of the persistence and, in some cases, the worsening of the problems we are facing".

Among these problems the Pope mentioned the economic crisis, the "complexity and gravity" of which "rightly arouse concern. Yet, in the face of this situation, Christians are called to act and express themselves with a prophetic spirit - that is, a spirit capable of seeing in these transformations the incessant and mysterious presence of God in history - and thus to shoulder their newly emerging responsibilities with realism, faith and hope".

"Your political and institutional commitment must not", he told his listeners, "be limited to responding to the requirements of market logic. Rather, its central and indispensable goal must remain the search for the common good, correctly understood, and the promotion and protection of the inalienable dignity of the human person. The teaching of Vatican Council II that 'the order of things must be subordinate to the order of persons, and not the other way around' is today more valid than ever. This order of persons 'is founded on truth, built up in justice, and animated by love', and it cannot be discerned without constant attention to the Word of God and the Magisterium of the Church".

"The areas in which this decisive discernment is to be exercised are those touching the most vital and delicate interests of the person, the place where the fundamental choices regarding the meaning of life and the search for happiness are made. These areas are not separate from one another but profoundly interconnected; they possess a manifest continuum which is constituted by respect for the transcendent dignity of human beings, rooted in the fact that they were made in the image of the Creator and are the ultimate goal of any authentically human social justice.

"The commitment to respecting life in all its phases from conception to natural end - and the consequent rejection of abortion, euthanasia and any form of eugenics - is, in fact, interwoven with respecting marriage as an indissoluble union between a man and a woman and, in its turn, as the foundation for the community of family life. ... Thus the family, the basic cell of society, is the root which nourishes not only the individual human being, but the very foundations of social coexistence".

The Holy Father went on: "The authentic progress of human society cannot forgo policies aimed at protecting and promoting marriage, and the community that derives therefrom. Adopting such policies is the duty not only of States but of the International Community as a whole, in order to invert the tendency towards the growing isolation of the person, which is a source of suffering and corrosion for both individuals and for society.

"If it is true that the defence and promotion of human dignity 'have been entrusted to us by the Creator, and to whom the men and women at every moment of history are strictly and responsibly in debt', it is equally true that this responsibility particularly concerns people called to positions of responsibility. They, especially if animated by Christian faith, must be 'strong enough to provide coming generations with reasons for living and hoping'".


Vatican City,  (VIS) - Made public today was the letter, written in Latin and dated 21 August, in which the Holy Father appoints Cardinal Santos Abril y Castello, archpriest of the papal basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome, as his special envoy to celebrations marking the 950th anniversary of the diocese of Sape, Albania, due to take place on 29 September.

The mission accompanying the cardinal will be made up of Fr. Mark Shtjefni, professor at the major interdiocesan seminary of Shkodre (Scutari), and Fr. Gjovalin Sukaj, pastor of the cathedral of St. Stephen in Shkodre (Scutari).


Vatican City,  (VIS) - The Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops has, with the approval of the Supreme Pontiff and in accordance with the provisions of "Ordo Synodi Episcoprum", appointed the following individuals as "Adiutores Secretarii Specialis" (or Experts) for the forthcoming Thirteenth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, due to be held in the Vatican from 7 to 28 October on the theme: "The new evangelisation for the transmission of the Christian faith".

- Sr. Beatriz Acosta Mesa O.D.N. (Colombia), superior general of the Company of Our Lady Mary.
- Mauro Agosto, professor of Latin at Rome's Pontifical Lateran University.
- Fr. Anthony Alaba Akinwale O.P., rector of the Dominican Institute of Ibadan (Nigeria).
- Fr. Luiz Alves de Lima S.D.B., member of the administrative office of the Society of Latin American Catechists (Brazil).
- Fr. Antonio Aranda Lomena, professor of dogmatic theology at the University of Navarre (Spain).
- Fr. George Augustin S.A.C., professor of fundamental and dogmatic at the "Philosophisch-Theologischen Hochschule Vallendar" (Germany).
- Fr. Paul Bere S.J., professor of the Old Testament and biblical languages at the Catholic University of West Africa (Burkina Faso).
- Br. Enzo Bianchi, prior of the monastic community of Bose (Italy).
- Br. Enzo Biemmi F.S.F., president of the European Team of Catechists (Italy).
- Fr. Luca Bressan, episcopal vicar for culture, charity, the mission and social work of the archdiocese of Milan (Italy).
- Sr. Sara Butler M.S.B.T. (U.S.A.), professor at the Ecclesiastical Faculty of St. Mary of the Lake University in Mundelein, and member of the International Theological Commission.
- Jessica Joy Candelario, coordinator for the pastoral care of young people at "Bukal Ng Tipan Pastoral Centre" (Philippines).
- Anna Kai-Yung Chan, professor at the Holy Spirit Seminary College of Theology and Philosophy, Hong Kong (China).
- Sr. Luisa Ciupa S.A.M.I., vice president of the Commission for Catechesis of the Greek-Catholic Ukrainain Church (Ukraine).
- Fr. Eamonn Conway, head of the Theology and Religious Studies Department at Mary Immaculate College of the University of Limerick (Ireland).
- Fr. Jeremy Driscoll O.S.B. (U.S.A.), professor at the Theological Faculty of Rome's St. Anselm Pontifical Athenaeum, and professor of liturgy at the Mount Angel Seminary in St. Benedict, Oregon.
- Caroline Farey, professor at the Maryvale Institute, Birmingham (England).
- Fr. Juan Javier Flores Arcas O.S.B. (Spain), rector of Rome's St. Anselm Pontifical Athenaeum.
- Sr. Gill Goulding C.J., associate professor of systematic theology and spirituality at Regis College University of Toronto (Canada).
- Msgr. Rafiq Hanna Khoury, professor of liturgy at the major seminary of Beit Jala (Palestinian Territories).
- Sr. Anna Emmanuela Klich O.S.U., director of the Inter-Congregational Institute for Catechesis in Krakow (Poland).
- Fr. Jaime Alberto Mancera Casas, episcopal vicar for pastoral care in the archdiocese of Bogota (Colombia).
- Msgr. Ermenegildo Manicardi, rector of Rome's "Almo Collegio Capranica", and professor at the Pontifical Biblical Institute (Italy).
- Fr. Thomas Manjaly, professor of Sacred Scripture at Oriens Theological College and at the Inter-Diocesan Theologate for North East India in Shillong (India).
- Ralph Martin, director of graduate theological programs in the new evangelisation at the Sacred Heart Seminary of Detroit (U.S.A.).
- Fr. Paolo Martinelli O.F.M. Cap. (Italy), president of the Franciscan Institute of Spirituality at the "Antonianum" Pontifical Athenaeum in Rome, and professor of fundamental theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.
- Fr. Krzysztof Mielnicki, director of the office for catechesis of the diocese of Drohiczyn (Poland).
- Sr. Paula Jean Miller F.S.E., professor at the Department of Theology of the University of St. Thomas in Huston (U.S.A.).
- Fr. Joseph-Marie Ndi-Okalla, vice rector of the "Universite Catholique D'Afrique Centrale" in Yaounde (Cameroon).
- Fr. Godfrey Igwebuike Onah (Nigeria), vice rector of the Pontifical Urban University in Rome.
- Rodolfo Papa, professor of art history and aesthetics at the Pontifical Urban University in Rome.
- Fr. Cleto Pavanetto S.D.B., professor emeritus of the Faculty of Christian and Classical Literature at the Pontifical Salesian University of Rome.
- Edward Peters, professor of canon law and holder of the Edmund Cardinal Szoka Chair at the Sacred Heart Major Seminary of Detroit (U.S.A.).
- Fr. Salvador Pie-Ninot (Spain), professor of fundamental theology and ecclesiology at the "Facoltat de Teologia de Catalunya", and professor of fundamental theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.
- Msgr. Antonio Pitta, professor at the Faculty of Theology of Rome's Pontifical Lateran University.
- Sr. Enrica Rosanna F.M.A, former under secretary of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life (Italy).
- Fr. Marko Ivan Rupnik S.J. (Slovenia), director of the "Ezio Aletti" Study Centre in Rome.
- Fr. Samir Khalil Samir S.J. (Lebanon), professor of Arab-Christian theology at the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome, and professor of the history of Arabic culture and Islamology at the University of "St. Joseph de Beyrouth".
- Fr. Kinkupu Leonard Santedi, professor at the Catholic University of Congo, president of the "Evangelii Nuntiandi" Foundation in Africa, and member of the International Theological Commission (Democratic Republic of Congo).
- Msgr. Pierangelo Sequeri (Italy), president of the Faculty of Theology of Northern Italy, and member of the International Theological Commission.
- Thomas Soding, professor of biblical theology at the "Bergische" University of Wuppertal (Germany).
- Fr. Virginio Spicacci S.J., active in pastoral care and evangelisation in the archdiocese of Naples (Italy).
- Fr. Mihaly Szentmártoni S.J. (Serbia), president of the Institute of Spirituality of the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.
- Fr. Giuseppe Tanzella-Nitti, professor of fundamental theology at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome.
- Petroc Willey, dean of graduate research at the Maryvale Institute of Birmingham (England).

The Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops has, likewise with the approval of the Supreme Pontiff, appointed the following individuals as "Auditores" (or Auditros) for the forthcoming Synodal Assembly.

- Emile Amin Henein, Director of the "Truth" Centre for Political and Strategic Studies, (Egypt).
- Chiara Amirante, founder and president of the New Horizons Community (Italy).
- Carl Albert Anderson (U.S.A.), supreme knight of the Knights of Columbus.
- Fr. Camilo Bernal Hadad C.I.M. (Colombia), superior general of the Congregation of Jesus and Mary.
- Sr. Maria Antonieta Bruscato F.S.P. (Brazil), superior general of the Daughters of St. Paul.
- Guzman Carriquiry (Uruguay), secretary of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America.
- Jose Maria Simon Castellví (Spain), president of the International Federation of the Association of Catholic Media F.I.A.M.C.
- Sr. Rekha (Mary Joseph) Chennattu R.A., professor of the New Testament at the Pontifical Institute of Philosophy and Religion in Pune (India).
- Fr. Renato de Guzman S.D.B., chief assistant for pastoral care of the Grade School and High School Departments, Don Bosco Technical Institute in Makati City (Philippines).
- Florence De Leyritz, member of the Alpha France Association (France).
- Marc De Leyritz, president of the Alpha France Association (France).
- Fr. Ari Luis do Valle Ribeiro, professor at the seminar of the diocese of Santo Amaro, and diocesan coordinator for catechesis (Brazil).
- Mikhail Fateev, director of production at the "United Television" channel of St. Petersburg (Russian Federation).
- Sr. Inmaculada Fukasawa A.C.I. (Japan), superior general of the Handmaidens of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
- Msgr. Enrique Glennie Graue, vicar general of the archdiocese of Mexico (Mexico).
- Francisco Jose Gomez Arguello Wirtz (Spain), co-founder of the Neo-Catechumenal Way.
- Fr. Jesus Higueras Esteban, pastor of S. Maria de Cana, Madrid (Spain).
- Marco Impagliazzo (Italy), president of the Sant'Egidio Community.
- Lydia Jimenez Gonzalez (Spain), director general of the "Cruzadas de Santa Maria" Secular Institute.
- Ernestine Sikujua Kinyabuuma, professor at the University Institute of Maria Malkia in Lubumbashi, and member of the "Focolari" Movement (Democratic Republic of Congo).
- Joakim Kipyego Koech, head of the Communion and Liberation Movement in Kenya.
- Zoltan Kunszabo, permanent deacon of the archdiocese of Esztergom-Budapest (Hungary).
- Ewa Kusz (Poland), former president of the World Conference of Secular Institutes, C.M.I.S.
- Chantal Le Ricque, lay woman of the archdiocese of Paris (France).
- Fr. Vinko Mamic O.C.D., president of the Union of Superiors Major in Croatia (Croatia).
- Curtis A. Martin, founder and president of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students - Focus (U.S.A.).
- Salvatore Martinez, president for Italy of the Renewal in the Holy Spirit Movement (Italy).
- Sr. Nzenzili Lucie Mboma F.M.M. (Democratic Republic of Congo), executive director of the Service of Documentation and Study on Global Mission, S.E.D.O.S.
- Marylee J. Meehan (U.S.A.), president of the International Catholic Committee of Nurses and Medico-Social Assistants, C.I.C.I.A.M.S.
- Franco Miano, president of Italian Catholic Action.
- Gisele Muchati, regional director of the New Families Movement (Syria).
- Peter Murphy, executive director of the Secretariat for Evangelisation and Catechesis of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (U.S.A.).
- Patricia Ngozi Nwachukwu K.S.M., member of the Knights of St. Mulumba (Nigeria).
- Yong Suk Francis Xavier Oh, secretary general of the Catholic Lay Apostolate Council of Korea (Korea).
- Fr. Piergiorgio Perini, president of the International Service Organisation for the "Cellule Parrocchiali di Evangelizzazione" (Italy).
- Rita María Petrirena Hernandez, head of the department for pastoral coordination of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Cuba (Cuba).
- Sr. Suzanne Louise Phillips F.M.M. (Australia), superior general of the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of Mary.
- Sr. Mary Prema Pierick M.C. (India), superior general of the Missionaries of Charity.
- Jose Prado Flores, founder and international director of the St. Andrew Schools of Evangelisation (Mexico).
- Sr. Yvonne Reungoat F.M.A. (France), superior general of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, Salesian Sisters of St John Bosco.
 - Br. Alvaro Antonio Rodriguez Echeverria F.S.C. (Costa Rica), superior general of the Brothers of Christian Schools.
- Michel Roy (France), secretary general of "Caritas Internationalis".
- Raid Sargi, president of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in Damascus (Syria).
- Tommaso Spinelli, catechist of the youth group of the parish of Santa Melania Juniore in Rome.
- Manoj Sunny, director and journalist, founding member of the Jesus Youth Movement (India).
 - Br. Emili Turu Rofes F.M.S. (Spain), superior general of the Marist Brothers (Little Brothers of Mary).
- Fr. Emmanuel Typamm C.M. (Cameroon), secretary general of the "Confederation des Conferences des Superieurs Majeurs D'Afrique et de Madagascar", Co.S.M.A.M.
- Maria Voce (Italy), president of the Focolari Movement.
- Sr. Mary Lou Wirtz F.C.J.M. (U.S.A.), president of the International Union of Superiors General, U.I.S.G.


Vatican City,  (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience:

- Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, archbishop of Genoa, Italy and president of the Italian Episcopal Conference.

- Five prelates of the Conference of Bishops of France on their "ad limina" visit:

- Bishop Bernard-Nicolas Aubertin O. Cist. of Tours.

- Bishop Maurice Le Begue de Germiny of Blois.

- Archbishop Armand Maillard of Borges.

- Bishop Michel Pansard of Chartres.

- Bishop Jacques Blaquart of Orleans.

On Saturday 22 September, the Holy Father received in audience five prelates of the Conference of Bishops of France on their "ad limina" visit:

- Archbishop Pascal Wintzer of Poitiers.

- Bishop Claude Dagens of Anouleme.

- Bishop Bernard Housset of La Rochelle.

- Bishop Francois Kalist of Limoges.

- Bishop Bernard Charrier of Tulle.


Vatican City,  (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed:

- Cardinal Carlos Amigo Vellejo O.F.M., archbishop emeritus of Seville, Spain, as his special envoy to concluding celebrations for the fifth centenary of the arrival of the first bishop of Puerto Rico, Don Alonso Manso. The event is due to take place in the city of San Juan, Puerto Rico, on 19 November.

- Cardinal George Pell, archbishop of Sydney, Australia, as a member of the Congregation for Bishops.

- Msgr. Pio Vito Pinto, prelate auditor of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota, as dean of the same tribunal.

Friday, September 21, 2012


Vatican City,  (VIS) - This morning, Benedict XVI received prelates of the Conference of Bishops of France, recalling that their country “has a long spiritual and missionary tradition, such that John Paul II called it the ‘educator of peoples’. The challenges of a widely secularised society now call us courageously and optimistically to seek a bold and creative response, by presenting the permanent newness of the Gospel”.

“With this perspective and in order to encourage the faithful of the entire world,” he continued, “I have called this Year of Faith … inviting an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord, the only Saviour of the world”. The Pontiff then went on to enumerate the duties of the bishop who must be a “good shepherd” toward his faithful and priests, and he called upon them to maintain a “special care for their priests, particularly those who have been recently ordained and those who are elderly or in need”. The Pope praised the initiatives of the French prelates in spiritually, intellectually, and materially assisting their closest collaborators. He also recalled the scarcity of “workers for the Gospel in our days. This is why,” he said, “it is necessary to pray, and to ensure others pray, for this intention, while I encourage you to follow the formation of seminarians attentively”.

“The solution to diocesan pastoral problems that arise should not be limited to organisational matters, important though they are, because there is a danger of emphasising a search for efficiency with a sort of ‘bureaucratisation of pastoral work’, focusing on organisations and programmes that can become self-referential, for the exclusive use of the members of such organisations. … Instead, evangelisation must start from an encounter with the Lord in a dialogue established in prayer, and then concentrate on witness in order to help our contemporaries rediscover the signs of God’s presence”.

The Holy Father thanked the laity for their generosity in responding to the call to participate in Church activities, noting at the same time that it is necessary, on one hand, to remember that, “the specific mission of the laity is Christian action in the public sphere, where they act on their own initiative and in an independent manner, in the light of faith and the Church’s teaching. It is therefore necessary to safeguard the difference between the common priesthood of all the faithful and the ministerial priesthood of those ordained to serve the community: a difference that is not only of degree but of nature. On the other hand, full fidelity to the deposit of faith taught by the true Magisterium and professed by the entire Church must be maintained”.

Later the Pope spoke of one of France’s patron saints, Joan of Arc. This year the Church celebrates the sixth centenary of her birth. He noted that “one of the most original features of her holiness is precisely the link between mystical experience and political mission”, and he urged the bishops to promote her as a “model of secular sanctity in the service of the common good”.

“I would also like to emphasise the interdependence between the development of the person and the development of society itself and the fact that the family, which is the foundation of social life, is threatened in many places by a faulty conception of human nature. Defending life and the family in society is not at all backward-looking but prophetic, since it entails the promotion of values that allow the full development of the human person created in the image and likeness of God”.

Another of the tasks of a diocesan bishop is “to defend the unity of the entire Church within the portion of God’s people which has been entrusted to him, even if his heart expresses legitimately different sensitivities that merit equal pastoral concern”. In this area the Pope referred to “the specific expectations of younger generations who require proper catechesis so that they might find their place within the community of believers”. He recalled the many French youths, accompanied by their pastors, who participated in World Youth Day in Madrid, as a sign of the “new dynamism of the faith that opens the doors to hope”.

Lastly, Benedict XVI expressed his support for the programme "Diaconia 2013", which calls on diocesan and local communities as well as all believers to “put the service of all our brothers and sisters, especially the most fragile, at the heart of ecclesial outreach. May that service of our brothers and sisters, rooted in God’s love, arouse in all your faithful the desire to contribute, each to the extent of their own strengths, to making humanity a single, fraternal, and communal family in Christ”, he concluded.


Vatican City,  (VIS) - The Holy Father sent a telegram to Pietro Baldelli for the death of his brother, Cardinal Fortunato Baldelli, penitentiary major emeritus of the Apostolic Penitentiary. The cardinal died yesterday at the age of 77. In the text the Pope recalls his "exemplary witness of Christian and priestly life", and his "dedicated and faithful service to the Holy See, especially in various diplomatic posts, always arousing appreciation for his fervent apostolic zeal and his faithfulness to the Gospel".


Vatican City,  (VIS) - A national meeting of indigenous priests, religious and catechists of Colombia came to an end yesterday in Bogota, Colombia. During the event participants reflected on certain key themes affecting pastoral workers in indigenous communities. The meeting was organised by the Commission for Missionary Animation of the Colombian Episcopal Conference's Pastoral Centre for the Evangelisation of the Faith, and coincides with the centenary of St. Pius X's Encyclical "Lacrimabili statu".

For the occasion the Holy Father sent a message to Archbishop Ruben Salazar Gomez of Bogota, president of the Colombian Episcopal Conference, in which he notes that St. Pius X's Encyclical, "in continuity with Benedict XIV's Encyclical 'Inmensa pastorum', highlighted the need to work more diligently for the evangelisation of indigenous people, and for the constant promotion of their dignity and progress".

The Pope describes the current situation as "ripe so that - with right intention and configured to Jesus Christ Who is the Way, the Truth and the Life for all humankind - pastors and faithful may experience a growing desire to protect the dignity and rights of indigenous peoples, while these, in their turn, may feel a greater desire to do their duty in accordance with their ancestral traditions. I pray to the Almighty that, first and foremost, the sacredness of their life may be protected. They must not for any reason be coerced because God wishes no one's death and orders us to love one another as brothers. May their lands by duly protected. May no one for any reason manipulate indigenous peoples, and may they not be attracted by harmful ideologies".


Vatican City,  (VIS) - Today in the Vatican, the Vatican Publishing House and the Italian publishers Rizzoli signed an agreement concerning the publication of Benedict XVI's latest book about the infancy of Jesus in the Gospels.

The Vatican Publishing House gives Rizzoli the mandate to to sell the rights to the work throughout the world. In Italy the book is due to appear at Christmas and will be published as a joint edition of the Vatican Publishing House and Rizzoli. The German edition is to be published by Herder which has previously published the books of Joseph Ratzinger. Work is continuing on translations into the major languages. The definitive title has not yet been made public.

Joseph Ratzinger - Benedict XVI has focused his research and his work on making known the "person and the message of Jesus".

This new and much awaited volume on the figure of Jesus in the Gospel narratives of His infancy completes the two previous volumes and is of great theological and academic importance. The earlier works are entitled "Jesus of Nazareth" and "Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week".


Vatican City,  (VIS) - The Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff today published the calendar of celebrations to be presided by the Holy Father in the months of October and November:


- Thursday 4: Pastoral visit to Loreto, Italy.

- Sunday 7: Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time. At 9.30 a.m. Mass in St. Peter's Square for the opening of the Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, and the proclamation of St. John of Avila and St. Hildegard of Bingen as Doctors of the Universal Church.

- Thursday 11: At 9.30 a.m. Mass in St. Peter's Square for the opening of the Year of Faith.

- Sunday 21. Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time. At 9.30 a.m. in St. Peter's Square, canonisation of the following Blesseds: Jacques Berthieu, Pedro Calungsod, Giovanni Battista Piamarta, Maria del Carmen (nee Maria Salles y Barangueras), Maria Anna Cope (nee Barbara), Kateri Tekakwitha and Anna Schaffer.

- Sunday 28: At 9.30 a.m. Mass in the Vatican Basilica for the conclusion of the Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops.


- Friday 2: All Souls Day. At 6 p.m. in the Vatican Grottoes, a moment of prayer for deceased Pontiffs.

- Saturday 3: At 11.30 a.m. Mass at the altar of the Cathedra in the Vatican Basilica for cardinals and bishops who died during the course of the year.


Vatican City,  (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience:

- Archbishop Henryk Jozef Nowacki, apostolic nuncio to Sweden and Iceland.

- Ten prelates of the Conference of Bishops of France on their "ad limina" visit:

- Archbishop Pierre d'Ornellas of Rennes, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Nicolas Souchu.

- Bishop Emmanuel Delmas of Angers.

- Bishop Thierry Scherrer of Laval.

- Bishop Yves Le Saux of Le Mans.

- Bishop Alain Castet of Lucon.

- Bishop Jean-Paul James of Nantes.

- Bishop Jean-Marie Le Vert of Quimper, Cornouailles.

- Bishop Denis Moutel of Saint-Brieuc.

- Bishop Raymond Centene of Vannes.

- Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Muller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.


Vatican City,  (VIS) - The Holy Father:

- Appointed as consultors of the Commission for Religious Relations with Muslims within the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue: Fr. Cornelius Afebu Omonokhua, director of the Department for Inter-religious Dialogue of the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria; Fr. Amir Jaje O.P., secretary of the Episcopal Commission for Inter-religious Dialogue of the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Iraq; Fr. Felix Korner S.J., professor of the theology of religions at the Pontifical Gregorian University; Rotraud Wielandt, professor of Islamic studies at the University of Bamberg, Germany; Ian Netton, vice director of Arab and Islamic studies at the University of Exeter and professor of Islamic studies at Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, and Romana Bashir, head of the Christian Study Centre in Rawalpindi, Pakistan.

- Appointed Bishop Kevin W. Vann of Fort Worth, U.S.A., as bishop of Orange in California (area 2,025, population 3,037,000, Catholics 1,291,000, priests 269, permanent deacons 96, religious 412), U.S.A. He succeeds Bishop Tod D. Brown, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

- Accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Rochester, U.S.A., presented by Bishop Matthew H. Clark, upon having reached the age limit.

Thursday, September 20, 2012


Vatican City,  (VIS) - "As members of the college of bishops, you must always have particular care for the universal Church, especially by promoting and defending the unity of the faith. ... This is a particularly important in our own times, which call on you courageously to invite mankind of all degrees to meet Christ and to strengthen the faith". These words were addressed by the Pope to bishops participating in a congress currently being promoted by the Congregation for Bishops and the Congregation for the Oriental Churches.

The bishops' pilgrimage to the Tomb of St. Peter is or particular importance this year, the Holy Father noted, in light of the forthcoming Year of Faith marking the fiftieth anniversary of Vatican Council II and the Thirteenth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the theme: "The New Evangelisation for the Transmission of the Christian Faith".

The bishops' first concern, then, must be "to promote and support 'stronger ecclesial commitment to new evangelisation in order to rediscover the joy of believing and the enthusiasm for communicating the faith'. You are called", the Pope told his audience, "to support and nourish communion and collaboration between all parts of you dioceses. Evangelisation is not the work of a small number of specialists but of the entire People of God under the guidance of their pastors. Each member of the faithful, with and within ecclesial communion, must feel the responsibility to announce and bear witness to the Gospel".

Benedict XVI then went on to recall how, during the opening of Vatican Council II, Blessed John XXIII had affirmed the need for "'this certain and unchanging doctrine, which must be faithfully respected, to be developed and presented in a way that responds to the necessities of our time'. We could say that new evangelisation began with the Council, which Blessed John XXIII saw as a new Pentecost that would make the Church flourish in her interior richness and here maternal outreach towards all areas of human activity. The effects of that new Pentecost, despite the difficulties, have extended to every expression of Church life: from the institutional to the spiritual, from the participation of the lay faithful, to the growth of charisms and sanctity".

This heritage has been entrusted to the pastoral care of bishops, the Pope explained, and he encouraged his hearers "to draw from this patrimony of doctrine, spirituality and sanctity in order to educate your flock in the faith, that their witness may become increasingly credible. At the same time your episcopal office requires you 'to give reasons for the hope that is in you' to everyone seeking the faith or the ultimate meaning of life. In them too 'grace works in an unseen way, for Christ died for all men, and the ultimate vocation of man is one, and divine'. I encourage you, then, to work to ensure that everyone, in keeping with their age and condition, be presented with the central contents of the faith, systematically and completely, in order to respond to the questions raised by our technological and globalised world. ... The Catechism of the Catholic Church is vital to this end, a sure norm for teaching faith and communion in the one Creed. The world in which we live requires Christians to have a solid formation".

The faith calls for "credible witnesses, people who trust in the Lord and entrust themselves to Him 'to become a living sign of the presence of the Risen Lord in the world'. The bishop, who is the first witness to the faith, accompanies believers on their journey offering them the example of a life lived in faithful abandonment to God. ... It is not, in fact, possible to serve mankind without first being servants of God", the Holy Father said.

He concluded by reminding the prelates that "your personal commitment to sanctity must involve daily assimilation of the Word of God in Prayer and in the Eucharist. ... Charity must impel you to remain close to your priests. ... They are your first and most important collaborators in bringing God to mankind and mankind to God. The charity of the Good Shepherd will also make you attentive to the poor and suffering, bringing them consolation and support, and guiding those who have lost touch with the meaning of life. Remain particularly close to families, ... that they may build their lives on the solid rock of friendship with Christ. And have particular care for seminarians, ... so the community may continue to have mature and joyful pastors, sure guides in the faith".


Vatican City,  (VIS) - Given below is the text of a telegram sent by the Holy Father to Riccardo Di Segni, chief rabbi of Rome, for the Jewish festivities of Rosh Hashanah (New Year), Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) and Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles), which all fall in this period.

The Pope expresses his best wishes for "peace and goodness to you and to the entire Jewish community of Rome, asking the Almighty for copious blessings for the New Year and hoping that Jews and Christians, as they grow in mutual respect and friendship, many bear witness in the world to the values that arise from adoration of the One God".


Vatican City,  (VIS) - The Holy Father is to make a pastoral visit to Loreto, Italy, on 4 October, marking the fiftieth anniversary of Blessed Pope John XXIII's visit to that Marian shrine.

Benedict XVI will depart from the Vatican by helicopter at 9 a.m., arriving at the John Paul II Centre at Montorso an hour later. At 10.20 a.m. he is due to visit the Holy House contained inside the shrine, where he will adore the Blessed Sacrament and pray to Our Lady of Loreto. At 10.30 a.m. he will celebrate Mass and pronounce a homily on the Piazza della Madonna di Loreto. Having had lunch at the John Paul II Centre, we is due to depart at 5 p.m. and to arrive back in the Vatican at 6 p.m.


Vatican City,  (VIS) - Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States and head of the Holy See delegation to the fifty-sixth General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), yesterday addressed that gathering, which is meeting in the Austrian capital Vienna from 17 to 21 September.

"Global security must not rely on nuclear weapons", the archbishop said in his English-language remarks. "The Holy See considers the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) an important tool to achieve this aim, without mentioning its potential civil and scientific application through its International Monitoring System. ... The Holy See is convinced that, in working together, the signature, ratification and entry into force of the Treaty will represent a great leap forward for the future of humanity, as well as for the protection of the earth and environment entrusted to our care by the Creator.

"Also in this regard", he added, "the ratification on the part of all States, in particular nuclear-weapon States, of the respective Protocols to the Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones Treaties is of paramount importance. The Holy See restates its strong support for the efforts to establish such a zone in the Middle East and remains hopeful for the discussions that will take place on this topic in Finland. Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones are the best example of trust, confidence and affirmation that peace and security are possible without possessing nuclear weapons".

"An important issue affecting not only the IAEA family, but the human family at large, is the topic of nuclear safety. ... What transpired at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station quickly revealed that a local nuclear crisis is indeed a global problem. It also revealed that the world is exposed to real and systemic risks, and not just hypothetical ones, with incalculable costs, and the necessity of developing international political coordination the likes of which have never been seen, thus raising many questions".

"The Technical Cooperation Programme of the Agency is one of the principal instruments for transferring nuclear science and technology to member States in order to promote social, economic and integral development. Its initiatives, when tailored to the needs of the recipient States and their partners in the context of national priorities, help to combat poverty and can thus contribute to a more peaceful solution of the serious problems facing humanity". In this context Archbishop Mamberti mentioned the role of radiation therapy in cancer treatment, at the same time noting that "in the developing world, more than half of the number of patients suffering from cancer will not have access to radiotherapy due to the lack of appropriate equipment and sufficiently trained staff. ... The Holy See appreciates the work and efforts of the IAEA and its partners in the planning and furthering of cancer-control programmes and encourages the IAEA to continue to pursue and strengthen these eminently important activities".


Vatican City,  (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience six prelates of the Conference of Bishops of France on their "ad limina" visit:

- Archbishop Jean-Charles Descubes of Rouen.

- Bishop Jean-Claude Boulanger of Bayeux.

- Bishop Stanislas Lalanne of Coutances.

- Bishop Christian Nourrichard of Evreux.

- Bishop Jean-Luc Brunin of Le Havre.

- Bishop Jacques Habert of Sees.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


Vatican City,  (VIS) - Benedict XVI dedicated his general audience today to a review of his recent apostolic trip to Lebanon. "It was", he said, "a journey I was very keen to make despite the difficult circumstances, because a father must always remain alongside his children when they face serious problems. I was moved by the desire to announce the peace which the risen Lord left to His disciples in the words: 'My peace I give to you'".

"It was a poignant ecclesial event and, at the same time, an opportunity for dialogue in a country which is complex but emblematic for the region, thanks to the tradition of cohabitation and diligent collaboration between its various religious and social components. In the face of the suffering and drama which persist in that area of the Middle East, I expressed my heartfelt participation in the legitimate aspirations of those dear peoples, bringing them a message of encouragement and peace. I think in particular of the terrible conflict which is ravaging Syria and which causes, apart from thousands of deaths, a flow of refugees who move around the region desperately seeking security and a future. Nor do I forget the difficult situation in Iraq. During my visit, the people of Lebanon and the Middle East (Catholics, representatives of other Churches and ecclesial communities and the various Muslim communities), in a serene and constructive atmosphere, were able to enjoy an important experience of mutual respect, understanding and fraternity, which constitutes a powerful sign of hope for all humankind. Yet it was above all the meeting with the Catholic faithful of Lebanon and the Middle East, who were present in their thousands, that aroused a feeling of profound gratitude in my heart for the ardour of their faith and witness".

"I was able to see directly how the Lebanese Catholic communities, thanks to their two-thousand year presence and their hope-filled commitment, offer an important and highly appreciated contribution to the daily life of all the country’s inhabitants", the Pope said. He also expressed his thanks to the country's authorities for "their cordial welcome", a fine expression of "the famous Lebanese hospitality". And he went on: "The Muslims welcomed me with great respect and sincere consideration. Their constant affable presence gave me the opportunity to launch a message of dialogue and collaboration between Christianity and Islam. I believe the time has come to bear sincere and definitive witness together against division, violence and war".

The Holy Father then turned his attention to the events of his apostolic trip, beginning with the signing of the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation "Ecclesia in Medio Oriente" in the Greek-Melkite Basilica of St. Paul in Harissa. "On that occasion", he said, "I invited Middle Eastern Catholics to fix their gaze on the crucified Christ in order to find, even at times of difficulty and suffering, the strength to celebrate the victory of love over hatred, of forgiveness over revenge, of unity over division. I assured everyone that the universal Church is closer than ever ... to the Churches in the Middle East. Despite being a 'little flock', they must not fear, in the certainty that the Lord is always with them".

During the meeting with representatives of State institutions and the world of culture, the diplomatic corps and religious leaders, "I indicated", the Pope recalled, "the path to follow to ensure a future of peace and solidarity. This involves working to ensure that cultural, social and religious differences are resolved in sincere dialogue: a new fraternity where what unites us is a shared sense of the greatness and dignity of each person, whose life must always be safeguarded and protected. On that same day", he went on, "I met with the heads of Muslim communities, an event which took place in a spirit of dialogue and mutual benevolence. I thank God for that meeting, The world today needs clear unequivocal signs of dialogue and collaboration, something of which Lebanon has been and must continue to be an example, for the Arab States and for the rest of the world".

Benedict XVI then mentioned the "irrepressible enthusiasm of the thousands of young people from Lebanon and neighbouring countries", who greeted him at the residence of the Maronite Patriarch. "I emphasised their good fortune to live in that part of the world where Jesus was crucified and rose for our salvation, and where Christianity developed, exhorting them to fidelity and love for their land, despite the difficulties caused by lack of stability and security. ... Seeing young Christians and Muslims celebrate in great harmony, I encouraged them to build the future of Lebanon and the Middle East together, and to oppose violence and war. Harmony and reconciliation must be stronger than the forces of death".

During Sunday Mass at the City Centre Waterfront in Beirut, the Pope had encouraged everyone "to live and bear witness to their faith without fear, knowing that the vocation of Christians and of the Church is to bring the Gospel to all without distinction, following the example of Jesus. In a context marked by bitter conflicts, I drew attention to the need to serve peace and justice by becoming instruments of reconciliation and builders of communion. At the end of the Eucharistic celebration, I had the joy of consigning the Apostolic Exhortation which brings together the conclusions of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops. ... This document reaches out to all the faithful of that dear region, to support them in their faith and communion, and to encourage them on the path of the ... new evangelisation. In the afternoon, at the headquarters of the Syrian Catholic Patriarchate, I then had the joy of a fraternal ecumenical meeting with the Orthodox and Eastern Orthodox Patriarchs, as well as representatives of those Churches and of other ecclesial communities".

"The days spent in Lebanon", the Pope concluded, "were a wonderful manifestation of faith and religious feeling and a prophetic sign of peace. The multitude of believers from the entire Middle East had the opportunity to reflect, to talk and especially to pray together, renewing their commitment to root their lives in Christ. I am sure that the people of Lebanon, in its varied but well blended religious and social make-up, will know how to witness with renewed impetus to the true peace that comes from faith in God. I hope that the messages of peace and respect that I sought to give, will help the governments of the region to take decisive steps towards peace and a better understanding of the relationship between Christians and Muslims. For my part, I continue to accompany those beloved people in prayer, that they may remain faithful to their commitments".


Vatican City,  (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed:

- Bishop Pedro Luiz Stinghini of Franca, Brazil, as bishop of Mogi des Cruces (area 2,521, population 1,546,000, Catholics 1,145,000, priests 80, permanent deacons 8, religious 219), Brazil.

- Bishop Flavio Giovenale S.D.B. of Abaetetuba, Brazil as bishop of Santarem (area 171,906, population 422,767, Catholics 311,679, priests 46, permanent deacons 2, religious 80), Brazil.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Vatican City,  (VIS) - The Holy Father has appointed the following prelates as Synod Fathers for the forthcoming Thirteenth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, due to take place from 7 to 28 October on the theme: "The New Evangelisation for the Transmission of the Christian Faith".

- Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals.

- Cardinal Joachim Meisner, archbishop of Cologne, Germany.

- Cardinal Vinko Puljic, archbishop of Vrhbosna-Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

- Cardinal Polycarp Pengo, archbishop of Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania and president of SECAM/SCEAM (Symposium of the Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar).

- Cardinal Christoph Schonborn O.P., archbishop of Vienna, Austria.

- Cardinal George Pell, archbishop of Sydney, Australia.

- Cardinal Josip Bozanic, archbishop of Zagreb, Croatia.

- Cardinal Peter Erdo, archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest, Hungary and president of CCEE (Council of European Episcopal Conferences).

- Cardinal Agostino Vallini, His Holiness' vicar general for the diocese of Rome.

- Cardinal Lluis Martinez Sistach, archbishop of Barcelona, Spain.

- Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois, archbishop of Paris, France.

- Cardinal Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Bombay, India and secretary general of FABC (Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences).

- Patriarch Francesco Moraglia of Venice, Italy.

- Archbishop John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan of Abuja, Nigeria.

- Archbishop Hector Ruben Aguer of La Plata, Argentina.

- Archbishop Antonio Arregui Yarza of Guayaquil, Ecuador, president of the Ecuadorian Episcopal Conference.

- Archbishop John Atcherley Dew of Wellington, New Zealand, president of FCBCO (Federation of Catholic Bishops' Conferences of Oceania).

- Archbishop Jose Octavio Ruiz Arenas, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation.

- Archbishop Jose Horacio Gomez of Los Angeles, U.S.A.

- Archbishop Carlos Aguiar Retes of Tlalnepantla, president of CELAM (Latin American Episcopal Council).

- Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham, England.

- Archbishop Ricardo Antonio Tobon Restrepo of Medellin, Colombia.

- Archbishop Luis Antonio G. Tagle of Manila, Philippines.

- Archbishop Filippo Santoro of Taranto, Italy.

- Bishop Javier Echevarria Rodriguez, prelate of the Personal Prelature of Opus Dei.

- Bishop Dominique Rey of Frejus-Toulon, France.

- Bishop Menghisteab Tesfamariam M.C.C.J., eparch of Asmara, Eritrea.

- Bishop Benedito Beni dos Santos of Lorena, Brazil.

- Bishop Santiago Jaime Silva Retamales, auxiliary of Valparaiso, Chile and secretary general of CELAM.

- Bishop Luigi Negri of San Marino-Montefeltro, Italy.

- Bishop Alberto Francisco Sanguinetti Montero of Canelones, Uruguay.

- Bishop Enrico Dal Covolo S.D.B., rector of the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome.

- Fr. Julian Carron, president of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation.

- Fr. Renato Salvatore M.I., superior general of the Clerks Regular Ministers to the Sick (Camillians).

- Fr. Heinrich Walter, superior general of the Schoenstatt Fathers.

- Fr. Jose Panthaplamthottiyil C.M.I., prior general of the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate.


Vatican City,  (VIS) - The Holy See will once again take part in the celebration of European Heritage Days, an initiative of the Council of Europe in which more than fifty countries on the continent participate. The celebrations this year will take place on Sunday 30 September and have as their theme: "The Image of the Faith in European Heritage". The Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Patrimony of the Church and the Vatican Museums are both collaborating in the event and, on 30 September, entrance to the Vatican Museums will be free of charge.


Vatican City,  (VIS) - The following prelates died in recent weeks:

- Bishop Joseph Banchong Aribarg, emeritus of Nakhon Sawan, Thailand, on 1 September at the age of 85.

- Bishop Xavier Baronnet S.J., emeritus of Port Victoria, Seychelles, on 8 September at the age of 85.

- Bishop Luis D'Andrea O.F.M. Conv., emeritus of Caxias do Maranhao, Brazil, on 8 September at the age of 78.

- Bishop Lucas Luis Donnelly O. de M., prelate emeritus of Dean Funes, Argentina, on 31 August at the age of 91.

- Bishop Jose Foralosso S.D.B., emeritus of Maraba, Brazil, on 22 August at the age of 74.

- Bishop Helio Goncalves Heleno, emeritus of Caratinga, Brazil, on 4 September at the age of 77.

Monday, September 17, 2012


Vatican City,  (VIS) - Yesterday evening the Holy Father met with Orthodox Patriarchs, representatives of Protestant communities and Catholic Patriarchs of Lebanon. The encounter took place at the Syrian Catholic Patriarchate in Charfet, Beirut, famous for its library which contains more than 3,000 manuscripts in Syriac and Arabic.

Having listened to some welcome remarks addressed to him by His Beatitude Ignace Youssif III Younan, Patriarch of Antioch of the Syrians, the Holy Father expressed his thanks to those present who, he said, "represent the diversity of the Church in the East. ... My thoughts also go to the Coptic Orthodox Church of Egypt and to the Ethiopian Orthodox who have had the recent sadness of losing their respective Patriarchs. I wish to assure them of my fraternal closeness and of my prayers".

Benedict XVI continued: "Allow me to acknowledge here the testimony of faith shown by the Syrian Antiochene Church in the course of its glorious history, a testimony to an ardent love for Christ, which has caused it to write some heroic pages of this history, right up to the present, by remaining committed to the faith even to the point of martyrdom. I encourage this Church to be for the peoples of the region a sign of the peace that comes from God as well as a light that keeps their hope alive. I extend this encouragement to all the Churches and ecclesial communities present in the region".

"Our encounter this evening", he went on, "is an eloquent sign of our profound desire to respond to the call of Christ, 'that all may be one'. In these unstable times, so inclined to the violence which your region knows so well, it is even more necessary that Christ’s disciples give an authentic witness to their unity, so that the world may believe in their message of love, peace and reconciliation. This is a message that all Christians, and we in particular, have been commissioned to hand on to the world, a message of inestimable value in the present context of the Middle East.

"Let us work without ceasing so that the love of Christ may lead us little by little into full communion with each other", the Pope added. "In this regard, by means of common prayer and mutual commitment, we must constantly return to our one Lord and Saviour. For, as I wrote in the Apostolic Exhortation 'Ecclesia in Medio Oriente' which I have the pleasure of consigning to you, 'Jesus draws into unity those who believe in and love Him; He gives them the Spirit of His Father as well as Mary, His mother'".

The Holy Father concluded his remarks by entrusting the members of the various Churches and communities to the Blessed Virgin. "May she intercede with her Son for us, so that we may be delivered from every evil and from all forms of violence, and so that the Middle East may at last know a time of reconciliation and peace. May the words of Jesus that I have so often cited during this journey - My peace I give to you - be for all of us the common sign that we will give in the name of Christ to the peoples of this beloved region, which longs to see those words fulfilled!"


Vatican City,  (VIS) - The Holy Father's apostolic trip to Lebanon came to an end yesterday afternoon with the departure ceremony at the international airport of Beirut. Among those present to bid him farewell were Michel Sleiman, president of Lebanon, the country's four Catholic Patriarchs, various Lebanese bishops and representatives of the civil and religious authorities.

In his address, the Pope expressed his thanks "to the entire Lebanese people who form a beautiful and rich mosaic and who have shown the Successor of Peter their enthusiasm by the efforts, both general and specific, of each community. I cordially thank our venerable sister Churches and the Protestant communities. I thank in particular representatives of the Muslim communities. Through my stay here, I have noticed how much your presence has contributed to the success of my journey. In these troubled times, the Arab world and indeed the entire world will have seen Christians and Muslims united in celebrating peace.

"It is a tradition in the Middle East to receive a guest with consideration and respect as you have done", he added. "I thank you all. But, to that consideration and respect, you added something else, which can be compared to one of those renowned oriental spices which enriches the taste of food: your warmth and your affection, which make me wish to return. I thank you for that especially".

"In his wisdom, Solomon asked Hiram of Tyre to build a house for the name of God, a sanctuary for all eternity. And Hiram ... sent wood taken from the cedars of Lebanon. ... Lebanon was present in the sanctuary of God. May the Lebanon of today, and her inhabitants, also dwell in the sanctuary of God! May Lebanon continue to be a place where men and women can live in harmony and peace with each other, in order to give the world not only a witness to the presence of God, ... but also a witness to the communion between people, ... whatever their political, social, or religious standpoint".

The Pope continued: "I pray to God for Lebanon, that she may live in peace and courageously resist all that could destroy or undermine that peace. I hope that Lebanon will continue to permit the plurality of religious traditions and not listen to the voices of those who wish to prevent it. I hope that Lebanon will fortify the communion among all her inhabitants, whatever their community or religion, that she will resolutely reject all that could lead to disunity, and with determination choose brotherhood".

"The Virgin Mary, venerated with devotion and tenderness by the faithful of the religious confessions here present, is a sure model for going forward in hope along the path of a lived and authentic brotherhood. Lebanon understood this well when, some time ago, she proclaimed 25 March as a holiday, thus allowing everyone to live more deeply their unity in serenity. May the Virgin Mary, whose ancient shrines are so numerous in your country, continue to accompany and inspire you!

"May God bless Lebanon and all the Lebanese! May He never cease to draw them to Himself so as to offer them a share in His eternal life! May he fill them with His joy, His peace and His light! May God bless all the Middle East!"

Having completed his farewell address, the Pope boarded his flight for Rome, landing at 9.40 p.m. at Ciampino airport whence he travelled to the Apostolic Palace at Castelgandolfo.


Vatican City,  (VIS) - The Holy See Press Office today released the following communique.

"Giuseppe della Torre, president of the Tribunal of Vatican City State, today issued a decree ruling that the first hearing of the trial of Paolo Gabriele and Claudio Sciarpelletti, will take place at 9.30 a.m. on 29 September. The two accused were sent for trial by the examining magistrate on 13 August. The hearing will take place in the audience hall of the Tribunal of Vatican City State. The parties concerned have been notified of the decree".

Sunday, September 16, 2012


Vatican City,  (VIS) - At midday yesterday, before having lunch with patriarchs and bishops of Lebanon, and the members of the Special Council for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops, in the headquarters of the Armenian Catholic Patriarchate at Bzommar, the Pope expressed his thanks for the invitation to His Beatitude Nerses Bedros XIX Tarmouni, patriarch of Cilicia of the Armenians, and to the superior of the Institute of the Patriarchal Clergy.

"Divine Providence has allowed our meeting to take place here in this convent of Bzommar, which is so emblematic for the Armenian Catholic Church. Its founder, the monk Hagop, more commonly known as Meghabarde - the sinner - is an example for us of prayer, of detachment from material things and of faithfulness to Christ the Redeemer. Five hundred years ago, he promoted the printing of the Friday Book, thus establishing a bridge between Christians of East and West. From his example, we can learn the meaning of mission, the courage of truth and the value of fraternity in unity. As we prepare to replenish our strength with this meal which has been lovingly prepared and generously offered, the monk Hagop also reminds us that the spiritual thirst and the quest for higher things must remain always alive in our hearts, for “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God'".

"Dear friends", the Pope added, "through the intercession of the Apostles Bartholomew and Thaddeus, and of St. Gregory the Illuminator, let us ask the Lord to bless the Armenian community, so sorely tried down through the ages, and to send to its harvest numerous saintly workers who, because of Christ, are enabled to change the face of our societies, to heal hearts that are broken and to offer courage, strength and hope to those who despair. Thank you!"


Vatican City,  (VIS) - Yesterday evening the Holy Father paid a visit to the Maronite Patriarchate at Bkerke. Since 1832, Bkerke has been the winter residence of the Maronite Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, while his summer residence is located at Dimane in northern Lebanon, The current Patriarch is His Beatitude Bechara Boutros Rai, O.M.M.

At Bkerke, which stands on the hillside of Harissa and is dominated by the Shrine of Our Lady of Lebanon, the Holy Father met with young people of the Middle East.

"You are living today in this part of the world which witnessed the birth of Jesus and the growth of Christianity", the Holy Father told his youthful audience. "It is a great honour! It is also a summons to fidelity, to love of this region and, above all, to your calling to be witnesses and messengers of the joy of Christ. ... Many of the Apostles and saints lived in troubled times and their faith was the source of their courage and their witness. Find in their example and intercession the inspiration and support that you need!

"I am aware of the difficulties which you face daily on account of instability and lack of security, your difficulties in finding employment and your sense of being alone and on the margins. In a constantly changing world you are faced with many serious challenges. But not even unemployment and uncertainty should lead you to taste the bitter sweetness of emigration, which involves an uprooting and a separation for the sake of an uncertain future. You are meant to be protagonists of your country’s future and to take your place in society and in the Church.

"You have a special place in my heart and in the whole Church, because the Church is always young! The Church trusts you, ... (she) needs your enthusiasm and your creativity! Youth is the time when we aspire to great ideals, when we study and train for our future work. ... Seek beauty and strive for goodness! ... Open the doors of your minds and hearts to Christ! ... Christ says to you: My peace I give to you! This is the true revolution brought by Christ: that of love.

"The frustrations of the present moment must not lead you to take refuge in parallel worlds like those, for example, of the various narcotics or the bleak world of pornography. As for social networks, they are interesting but they can quite easily lead to addiction and confusion between the real and the virtual. Look for relationships of genuine, uplifting friendship. Find ways to give meaning and depth to your lives; fight superficiality and mindless consumption! ... Seek out good teachers, spiritual masters, who will be able to guide you along the path to maturity, leaving behind all that is illusory, garish and deceptive".

"Meditate on God’s word! Discover how relevant and real the Gospel can be. Pray! Prayer and the Sacraments are the sure and effective means to be a Christian and to live rooted and built up in Christ. ... In Him, all men and women are our brothers and sisters. The universal brotherhood which He inaugurated on the cross lights up in a resplendent and challenging way the revolution of love. “Love one another as I have loved you”. This is the legacy of Jesus and the sign of the Christian".

"Christ asks you, then, to do as He did: to be completely open to others, even if they belong to a different cultural, religious or national group. Making space for them, respecting them, being good to them, making them ever more rich in humanity and firm in the peace of the Lord. ... Experiencing together moments of friendship and joy enables us to resist the onset of division, which must always be rejected! ... Be heralds of the Gospel of life and life’s authentic values. Courageously resist everything opposed to life: abortion, violence, rejection of and contempt for others, injustice and war. In this way you will spread peace all around you. Are not “peacemakers” those whom in the end we admire the most? Is it not a world of peace that, deep down, we want for ourselves and for others? ... Truly discovering God’s forgiveness and mercy always enables us to begin a new life. It is not easy to forgive. But God’s forgiveness grants the power of conversion, and the joy of being able to forgive in turn. Forgiveness and reconciliation are the paths of peace; they open up a future".

"Young people of Lebanon, you are the hope and the future of your country. You are Lebanon, a land of welcome, of openness, with a remarkable power of adaptation. At this moment, we cannot forget those millions of individuals who make up the Lebanese diaspora and maintain solid bonds with their land of origin. Young people of Lebanon, be welcoming and open, as Christ asks you and as your country teaches you.

"I should like now to greet the young Muslims who are with us this evening. I thank you for your presence, which is so important. Together with the young Christians, you are the future of this fine country and of the Middle East in general. Seek to build it up together! And when you are older, continue to live in unity and harmony with Christians. For the beauty of Lebanon is found in this fine symbiosis.

It is vital that the Middle East in general, looking at you, should understand that Muslims and Christians, Islam and Christianity, can live side by side without hatred, with respect for the beliefs of each person, so as to build together a free and humane society.

"I understand, too, that present among us there are some young people from Syria. I want to say how much I admire your courage. Tell your families and friends back home that the Pope has not forgotten you. Tell those around you that the Pope is saddened by your sufferings and your griefs. He does not forget Syria in his prayers and concerns, he does not forget those in the Middle East who are suffering. It is time for Muslims and Christians to come together so as to put an end to violence and war".

At the conclusion of his meeting with the young people, the Pope greeted Catholic patriarchs of Lebanon in chapel of the Assumption inside the Patriarchal Palace.


Vatican City,  (VIS) - This morning in Beirut, Lebanon, Benedict XVI celebrated Mass at the City Centre Waterfront, a coastal area reclaimed from the sea using the debris of buildings in the old centre of Beirut, which were demolished at the end of the Civil War prior to the reconstruction.

The Holy Father travelled by car from the apostolic nunciature in Harissa, then covered the final stretch along the seafront from Jounieh in popemobile. He was greeted on arrival by the mayor of Beirut who presented him with the keys to the city. The Mass was attended by many thousands of faithful, the Lebanese authorities and 300 bishops from all over the Middle East. The liturgy was celebrated in Arabic, French and Latin.

In his homily the Pope commented on today's reading from the Gospel of St. Mark in which the true identity of Jesus is revealed. In Mark's narrative, Jesus is walking with His disciples along the road leading to the villages in the region of Caesarea Philippi when He asks them: "Who do people say that I am?"

"The moment He chose to ask this question is not insignificant", the Holy Father explained. "Jesus was facing a decisive turning-point in His life. He was going up to Jerusalem, to the place where the central events of our salvation would take place: His crucifixion and resurrection. In Jerusalem too, following these events, the Church would be born".

In the episode, after Peter has proclaimed Jesus as the Messiah, Christ tells the disciples that He must suffer and be put to death before rising again. "He realises that people could use this answer to advance agendas which are not His, to raise false temporal hopes in His regard. He does not let Himself be confined to the attributes of the human saviour which many were expecting", the Pope said.

"Jesus wants to make them understand His true identity. He is a Messiah Who suffers, a Messiah Who serves, and not some triumphant political saviour. He is the Servant Who obeys His Father’s will, even to giving up His life. ... Jesus thus contradicts the expectations of many. What He says is shocking and disturbing. We can understand the reaction of Peter who rebukes Him, refusing to accept that his Master should suffer and die! Jesus is stern with Peter; He makes him realise that anyone who would be His disciple must become a servant, just as He became Servant".

Therefore, the Pope went on, "following Jesus means taking up one’s cross and walking in His footsteps, along a difficult path which leads not to earthly power or glory but, if necessary, to self-abandonment, to losing one’s life for Christ and the Gospel in order to save it. We are assured that this is the way to the resurrection, to true and definitive life with God". In this context, Benedict pointed out that the Year of Faith, due to begin on 11 October is an invitation to "each member of the faithful to renew his or her commitment to undertaking this path of sincere conversion. Throughout this Year, then, I strongly encourage you to reflect more deeply on the faith, to appropriate it ever more consciously and to grow in fidelity to Christ Jesus and His Gospel.

"Brothers and sisters, the path on which Jesus wishes to guide us is a path of hope for all. Jesus’ glory was revealed at the very time when, in His humanity, He seemed weakest, particularly through the incarnation and on the cross. This is how God shows His love; He becomes our servant and gives Himself to us".

Benedict XVI then turned his attention to the second reading, in which St. James states that, if our adherence to Jesus is to be authentic, it requires "concrete actions. ... It is an imperative task of the Church to serve and of Christians to be true servants in the image of Jesus", he said. "Consequently, in a world where violence constantly leaves behind its grim trail of death and destruction, to serve justice and peace is urgently necessary for building a fraternal society, for building fellowship! ... I pray in particular that the Lord will grant to this region of the Middle East servants of peace and reconciliation, so that all people can live in peace and with dignity. This is an essential testimony which Christians must render here, in cooperation with all people of good will. I appeal to all of you to be peacemakers, wherever you find yourselves".

Likewise, the Pope went on, "service must also be at the heart of the life of the Christian community itself. Every ministry, every position of responsibility in the Church, is first and foremost a service to God and to our brothers and sisters. This is the spirit which should guide the baptised among themselves, and find particular expression in an effective commitment to serving the poor, the outcast and the suffering, so that the inalienable dignity of each person may be safeguarded.

"Dear brothers and sisters who are suffering physically or spiritually", the Holy Father added concluding his homily, "your sufferings are not in vain! Christ the Servant wished to be close to the suffering. ... Along your own path, may you always find brothers and sisters who are concrete signs of His loving presence which will never forsake you! Remain ever hopeful because of Christ!".

"May God bless Lebanon; may He bless all the peoples of this beloved region of the Middle East, and may He grant them the gift of His peace".


Vatican City,  (VIS) - At the end of today's Eucharistic celebration, Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, secretary general of the Synod of Bishops, arose and invited the Holy Father to consign the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation "Ecclesia in Medio Oriente" to Catholic patriarchs of the Middle East, presidents of the episcopal conferences of Turkey and Iran, and a number of lay faithful. The Exhortation is the final document of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops, which was held in October 2010 on the theme: "The Catholic Church in the Middle East: Communion and witness. 'The company of those who believed were of one heart and soul'".

Benedict XVI expressed his hope that the Exhortation would be "be a guide to follow the various and complex paths where Christ goes before you. May communion in faith, hope and charity be strengthened in your countries and in every community so as to make credible your witness to the Triune God, Who has drawn close to each one of us", he said.

"Dear Church in the Middle East, draw from the source of salvation which became a reality in this unique and beloved land! Follow in the footsteps of your fathers in faith, who by tenacity and fidelity opened up the way for humanity to respond to the revelation of God! Among the wonderful diversity of saints who flourished in your land, look for examples and intercessors who will inspire your response to the Lord's call to walk towards the heavenly Jerusalem, where God will wipe away every one of our tears! May fraternal communion be a support for you in your daily life and the sign of the universal brotherhood which Jesus, the first born of many, came to bring! Thus, in this region which saw His actions and heard His words, may the Gospel continue to resonate as it did 2000 years ago, and may it be lived today and forever!"


Vatican City,  (VIS) - Having consigned the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, and before praying the Angelus, the Holy Father pronounced some words in which he called on "Mary, Our Lady of Lebanon, around whom both Christians and Muslims gather", to intercede "for the people of Syria and the neighbouring countries, imploring the gift of peace".

Benedict XVI went on: "You know all too well the tragedy of the conflicts and the violence which generates so much suffering. Sadly, the din of weapons continues to make itself heard, along with the cry of the widow and the orphan. Violence and hatred invade people’s lives, and the first victims are women and children. Why so much horror? Why so many dead? I appeal to the international community! I appeal to the Arab countries that, as brothers, they might propose workable solutions respecting the dignity, the rights and the religion of every human person! Those who wish to build peace must cease to see in the other an evil to be eliminated. It is not easy to see in the other a person to be respected and loved, and yet this is necessary if peace is to be built, if fraternity is desired.

"May God grant to your country, to Syria and to the Middle East the gift of peaceful hearts, the silencing of weapons and the cessation of all violence! May men understand that they are all brothers! Mary, our Mother, understands our concern and our needs. Together with the patriarchs and bishops present, I place the Middle East under her maternal protection. May we, with God’s help, be converted so as to work ardently to establish the peace that is necessary for harmonious coexistence among brothers, whatever their origins and religious convictions".

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