November 7, 2006

Vatican Information Service Bulletin

The following, in it's entirety, is a copyrighted transcript of the Vatican Information Service.

SUMMARY:


HOLY FATHER MEETS WITH SWISS BISHOPS

 VATICAN CITY, NOV 7, 2006 (VIS) - Early this morning, Benedict XVI presided at a Eucharistic concelebration in the Vatican's "Redemptoris Mater" Chapel, with prelates from the Conference of Swiss Bishops.

   Later, the Pope held a meeting with the Swiss prelates, which was also attended by heads of dicasteries of the Roman Curia and had the aim of "considering certain aspects of the current situation of the Church in Switzerland, identifying those elements worthy of being intensified and promoted, and those in need of correction and purification."

   The Holy Father told the Swiss bishops that this meeting was, in some way, "the conclusion of their 'ad limina' visit of February 2005, because on that occasion it had not been possible to accomplish one of the essential parts of the process, the meeting with John Paul II."

   "The advance of secularization and of relativism means not only that the Sacraments, especially participation in Sunday Mass, are reduced in frequency, but also that the moral values proposed by the Church are put in doubt," said the Pope. In this context, he referred to the crisis of marriage and the family, the increase in divorce and abortions, and unions between people of the same sex, all of which, he said, "are evident signs of de-Christianization."

   After highlighting the fact that many people live "as if God does not exist," the Pope called upon the prelates "to ensure that the Word of God and the Christian message are understood," and insisted they should adopt unanimous positions on theological and moral questions. "The fundamental duty of the bishop, pastor, and master of faith," he recalled, "is to invite the faithful to a full acceptance of Church teaching."

   On the subject of the liturgy, Benedict XVI affirmed that "it is a right and duty of everyone to ensure it be celebrated in accordance with the rules laid down by the Church." As for Sunday Mass, he stressed the need "to avoid its being substituted, if there are no important reasons to do so, by a celebration of the Word," and "to ensure the homily remains an important moment of doctrinal and spiritual formation, ... reserved to the priest or the deacon."

   In the face of "the crisis being suffered by the Sacrament of Penance," as the bishops had highlighted in their five-yearly reports, Pope Benedict identified the need "for dioceses to relaunch pastoral activity aimed at encouraging the faithful to individual confession. ... Call upon priests to be assiduous confessors, generously offering the faithful appropriate times for individual confession; encourage the priests to avail themselves frequently of this Sacrament". Moreover, he continued, "priests must rigorously observe Church norms concerning collective absolution, ... which can only take place under truly exceptional circumstances."

   Turning to consider the collaboration of lay people in priestly ministry, Benedict XVI explained that "care must be taken to ensure, ... in parishes and pastoral centers, that the priest remains the pastor and that lay people help the priest, collaborating with him in the various sectors of pastoral life. ... The importance of the laity's role must not bring us to underestimate the ministry of priests, so indispensable for the life of the Church." In this context, the Pope called for "an intensification in the formation of lay people to increase their faith and doctrinal knowledge, and grant them spiritual energies."

   The Pope then considered the question of priestly and religious vocations, "a constant concern for the Church in your country," he said. "For the future of the Church in Switzerland, it is important to oversee the organization and orientation of seminaries and of the various faculties and schools of theology, ... with a view to discernment and to the profound human, spiritual, cultural and pastoral formation of candidates to the priesthood. Be equally attentive," he told the bishops, "to the initial and permanent formation of future priests, deacons and pastoral lay workers. A sure and faithful teaching of the tradition and Magisterium of the Church will ensure that everyone discovers the richness of Catholic faith."

   "Ecumenism," he concluded, "is a sector in which the Catholic Church is irrevocably committed. The religious history of your country and your later experiences give you a special responsibility and mission in this field. Encourage your communities to commit themselves to an ecumenical journey based on the principles expressed in the Conciliar Decree 'Unitatis redintegratio' and in the 'Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms on Ecumenism'."

 

POPE PURCHASES FIRST BOND OF FUND FOR IMMUNIZATION

 VATICAN CITY, NOV 7, 2006 (VIS) - Today in London, England, Cardinal Renato Raffale Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, purchased, in the Holy Father's name, the first bond for the eradication of poverty issued by the International Financing Facility for Immunization (IFFIm).

   The IFFIm came into being in the wake of a project presented by Gordon Brown, British Chancellor of the Exchequer, at an international seminar on "Poverty and Globalization: Financing for Development," organized by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace in 2004. The money raised will go directly to those most in need, especially children. Purchase of the bonds - which are guaranteed by various governments who will pay the interest and reimburse them on the expiry date - is open to anyone: institutions, organizations and private citizens.

   "Benedict XVI's gesture, at once real and symbolic, expresses the Holy See's full support for an initiative which, with broad international guarantees, will produce immediate and direct advantages in the field of aid and development, producing new financing with specific and urgent aims," says a communique made public today. For example, thanks to the IFFIm, "by 2015, in 72 countries the lives of 10 million people will have been saved, 5 million of them children."

   In a brief address delivered in English at the moment of purchasing the first bond, Cardinal Martino said: "People living in poverty are looking forward to the time when corruption at the various levels of government or in the social sector will no longer hinder opportunities for development from reaching all members of society. A government that is truly responsive to the needs of its people is not only a necessity for development, it should also be seen as a right.

   "Pope Benedict XVI believes that this is the time," he added. "This is why he has decided that the Holy See would participate in the International Finance Facility bond program. His Holiness recognizes the need to quickly provide the funds in order to respond to poverty, hunger, the lack of educational and literacy opportunities and the ongoing fight against the scourge of malaria and the spread of HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis."

 

CHURCH SUPPORTS PROMOTERS OF INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY

 VATICAN CITY, NOV 7, 2006 (VIS) - Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States, delivered a talk at the Rome headquarters of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), during the 23rd session of the intergovernmental committee for Food Security, which was held from October 30 to November 4.

   In the course of this meeting, on October 30 and 31, the Special Forum for a World Free of Hunger took place to study the progress made in achieving the goals of the 1996 World Food Summit.

   Archbishop Mamberti, having communicated the Pope's greetings to participants, and his interest in their activities, said: "Beating hunger in the world is a task that needs time to achieve. ... Despite the efforts of the FAO, ... of intergovernmental organizations and of various other associations, we note a persistence, even an increase in the impediments and imbalances that prevent millions of men and women from obtaining adequate nourishment."

   "The plight of the multitudes whose right to life is in danger must continue to concern us and touch our consciences so that our behavior, wherever we may be, does not contribute to aggravating the inequalities between rich countries and poor ones. Hunger and malnutrition are unacceptable in a world that has levels of production, of resources and of know-how capable of putting an end to this scourge and its dramatic consequences."

   "It is not the Church's vocation," the archbishop concluded, "to propose political, economic or technical solutions to meet the problems of society. However, in her mission to announce the Good News to all nations, she feels particularly close to those who live in conditions of poverty, suffering and malnutrition, and wishes to help them with the means at her disposal. She is always ready to support those who work to strengthen international solidarity and promote justice among people, especially those who live in direct contact with people undergoing harsh trials."

 

IN MEMORIAM

 VATICAN CITY, NOV 7, 2006 (VIS) - The following prelates died in recent weeks:

  - Cardinal Mario Francesco Pompedda, prefect emeritus of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, on October 18 at the age of 77.

  - Archbishop Teodoro Cardenal Fernandez, emeritus of Burgos, Spain, on October 17 at the age of 89.

  - Bishop Jose Elias Chaves Junior C.M., prelate emeritus of Cameta, Brazil, on October 31, at the age of 80.

  - Archbishop Cecil deSa, emeritus of Agra, India, October 27, at the age of 83.

  - Bishop Henrique Ruth C.S.Sp., emeritus of Cruzeiro do Sul, Brazil, on October 23 at the age of 93.

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