December 11, 2006

Vatican Information Service Bulletin

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

SUMMARY: DECEMBER 7 - 11


EXHIBITION ON PONTIFICAL ELECTIONS

VATICAN CITY, DEC 7, 2006 (VIS) - In the Lateran Apostolic Palace this evening, Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. inaugurated an exhibition entitled: "Habemus Papam. Pontifical elections from St. Peter to Benedict XVI."

  The exhibition includes a broad selection of works of art from collections in the Vatican and in Rome and, as the cardinal pointed out, "has been conceived in such a manner as, on the one hand, to offer as complete a vision as possible of the historical development of conclaves while, on the other, not failing to highlight the mysterious action of God Who, through His Providence, guides the journey of the Church, which is founded upon Peter and his legitimate successors."

  "The outstanding value of this exhibition, which falls on the 500th anniversary of St. Peter's Basilica and the foundation of the Vatican Museums," said the cardinal, "is that it helps us understand how, though through circumstances at times marked by human frailty and political interest, the choice of Supreme Pontiffs is always guided by Him, the Lord. Christ, with the strength of His Spirit, leads the Church, entrusting her to His vicar on earth, the Pope, 'servant of the servants.' And the Pope - even when intrigue, subterfuge and conflict seemed to prevail - has never failed in his mission."

  "Despite its shadows, then, the history of the Church is a history of faith, love and zeal" said the secretary of State. Such events as papal funerals and conclaves, he added, make us aware of "how great a contribution to the life of the Church so many ecclesiastics have made," and of "the participation, charged with strong spiritual emotion, of Christian people."

  Cardinal Bertone then went on to consider changes to the structure of conclaves over the centuries, affirming that "from the Constitution 'Ubi periculum' of 1274 to today the concern has always been to prevent external influence in the election of the one whom God chooses to guide His people. ... Ceremonies and practices reflecting cultures and customs of yesterday have now disappeared. What remains unchanged is the essential part of the ministry of Peter's Successor and, in this sense, the conclave represents a moment of great importance."

 

LIKE MARY, WELCOME CHRIST INTO OUR LIVES WITH FAITH

VATICAN CITY, DEC 8, 2006 (VIS) - At midday today, Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Benedict XVI appeared at the window of his study to pray the Angelus with pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square below.

  The Immaculate Conception, said the Pope, "is one of the most beautiful and popular feasts of the Blessed Virgin. ... Mary not only committed no sin, but was even spared that shared heritage of humankind which is original sin. And this was because of the mission for which God had always destined her: that of being the Mother of the Redeemer."

  Pope Benedict went on to explain how the biblical foundation for the dogma of the Immaculate Conception is to be found in the words the angel directed to the young girl from Nazareth: "'Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you.' Full of grace," the Pope added, "is Mary's most beautiful name, a name God Himself gave her in order to indicate that she was always, and will always be, the beloved, the elect, the one chosen to accept the most precious gift: Jesus, 'the incarnate love of God'."

  The Holy Father emphasized how Mary's humility was a reason for her being chosen. "God," he said, "was attracted by Mary's humility," and the Virgin "thus became the Mother of God, image and model of the Church, chosen from among peoples to receive the blessing of the Lord and transmit it to the entire human family."

  "This 'blessing'," the Pope added, "is none other than Jesus Christ. He is the source of the grace with which Mary was filled from the very first instant of her existence. She welcomed Jesus with faith, and with love she gave Him to the world. This is also our vocation and our mission, the vocation and the mission of the Church: to welcome Christ into our lives and to give Him to the world, 'that the world may be saved through Him'."

 

EUROPE MUST DRAW NEW ENERGY FROM ITS CHRISTIAN ROOTS

VATICAN CITY, DEC 8, 2006 (VIS) - Early this afternoon, the Pope travelled in an open-top car to Rome's Piazza di Spagna to pay his traditional homage before the statue of Mary Immaculate. The Holy Father made the journey standing in order to greet the thousands of people who lined the streets to see him.

  Having reached the monument, a tall column bearing a statue of the Virgin in front of the Spanish embassy to the Holy See, Benedict laid a basket of roses at the base of the monument and read a prayer.

  "You are full of grace, Mary, full of divine love from the first instant of your life, providentially predestined to be the Mother of the Redeemer and intimately associated with Him in the mystery of salvation. ... In you shines the dignity of all human beings, who are always precious in the eyes of the Creator. Those who turn their gaze to you, All Holy Mother, never lose their serenity, however hard the trials of life may be. Although the experience of sin, that disfigures the dignity of the children of God, is sad, those who turn to you renew the beauty of truth and of love, and rediscover the path that leads to the house of the Father."

  The Pope called on the Virgin to help us pronounce, as she did, "our 'yes' to the Lord's will," and to give us the "courage to say 'no' to the snares of power, money, pleasure and dishonest gain, corruption and hypocrisy, selfishness and violence. 'No' to the Evil One, deceitful prince of this world. 'Yes' to Christ, Who destroys the power of evil with the omnipotence of His love. We know that only hearts converted to Love - that is, God - can build a better future for everyone."

  "You are 'full of grace,' Mary! ... To the fount of your immaculate heart, we come once again as faithful pilgrims to draw faith and consolation, joy and love, security and peace."

  Benedict XVI also called upon the Virgin to be "a Mother and a watchful guardian over Italy and Europe, so that from their ancient Christian roots people may know how to draw new lifeblood to build their present and their future. Show yourself a prudent and merciful Mother to the world entire, so that, with respect for human dignity and rejecting all forms of violence and exploitation, solid foundations may be laid for the civilization of love."

  "Show yourself as Mother especially to those in particular need: the defenseless, the marginalized and the excluded, victims of a society that all too often sacrifices man to other ends and interests. Show yourself, O Mary, as Mother to everyone, and give us Christ, the Hope of the world! 'Monstra Te esse Matrem,' Immaculate Virgin full of grace, Amen!"

  Following the act of homage, and before returning to the Vatican, the Holy Father travelled to the basilica of St. Mary Major where he prayed before the image of the Mother of God, "Salus Populi Romani."

 

STATE MUST RECOGNIZE PUBLIC RELEVANCE OF RELIGION

VATICAN CITY, DEC 9, 2006 (VIS) - The Pope today received participants in the 56th national study congress, promoted by the Union of Italian Catholic Jurists, which is being held in Rome on the theme: "Secularity and secularities."

  The concept of secularity, said the Holy Father in his address to the group, originally referred to "the condition of simple faithful Christian, not belonging to the clergy or the religious state. During the Middle Ages it acquired the meaning of opposition between civil authorities and ecclesial hierarchies, and in modern times it has assumed the significance of the exclusion of religion and its symbols from public life by confining them to the private sphere and the individual conscience. In this way, the term secularity has acquired an ideological meaning quite opposite to the one it originally held."

  Secularity today, then, "is understood as a total separation between State and Church, the latter not having any right to intervene in questions concerning the life and behavior of citizens. And such secularity even involves the exclusion of religious symbols from public places." In accordance with this definition, the Pope continued, "today we hear talk of secular thought, secular morals, secular science, secular politics. In fact, at the root of such a concept, is an a-religious view of life, thought and morals; that is, a view in which there is no place for God, for a Mystery that transcends pure reason, for a moral law of absolute value that is valid in all times and situations."

  The Holy Father underlined the need "to create a concept of secularity that, on the one hand, grants God and His moral law, Christ and His Church, their just place in human life at both an individual and a social level, and on the other hand affirms and respects the 'legitimate autonomy of earthly affairs'."

  The Church, the Pope reiterated, cannot intervene in politics, because that would "constitute undue interference." However, "'healthy secularity' means that the State does not consider religion merely as an individual sentiment that can be confined to the private sphere." Rather, it must be "recognized as a ... public presence. This means that all religious confessions (so long as they do not contrast the moral order and are not dangerous to public order) are guaranteed free exercise of their acts of worship."

  Hostility against "any form of political or cultural relevance of religion," and in particular against "any kind of religious symbol in public institutions" is a degenerated form of secularity, said the Holy Father, as is "refusing the Christian community, and those who legitimately represent it, the right to pronounce on the moral problems that today appeal to the conscience of all human beings, particularly of legislators.

  "This," he added, "does not constitute undue interference of the Church in legislative activity, which is the exclusive competence of the State, but the affirmation and the defense of those great values that give meaning to people's lives and safeguard their dignity. These values, even before being Christian, are human, and therefore cannot leave the Church silent and indifferent, when she has the duty firmly to proclaim the truth about man and his destiny."

  The Pope concluded by highlighting the need "to bring people to understand that the moral law God gave us - and that expresses itself in us through the voice of conscience - has the aim not of oppressing us but of freeing us from evil and of making us happy. We must show that without God man is lost, and that the exclusion of religion from social life, and in particular the marginalization of Christianity, undermines the very foundations of human coexistence. Such foundations, indeed, before being of the social and political order, belong to the moral order."

 

THE PARISH, A BEACON RADIATING THE LIGHT OF FAITH

VATICAN CITY, DEC 10, 2006 (VIS) - At 9 a.m. today, the second Sunday of Advent, the Pope made a pastoral visit to the Roman parish of St. Mary Star of Evangelization, where he celebrated Mass and consecrated the new parish church.

  In his homily, Benedict XVI, noted how the inauguration was taking place "in the period of Advent which, for the last 16 years, the diocese of Rome has dedicated to awareness raising and fund collection for building new churches on the city outskirts." Thus, this new church "joins the more than 50 parish structures already built over these years thanks to the Vicariate of Rome's economic efforts, the contributions of so many faithful, and the concern of the civil authorities.

  "I ask all faithful, and all citizens of good will to continue their generous commitment, so that neighborhoods that are still deprived may, as soon as possible, have a home for their parish.

  "The parish is a beacon that radiates the light of faith," the Pope added, "above all in our largely secularized world. Thus it meets the most profound and authentic desires of the human heart, giving meaning and hope to the lives of individuals and families."

  St. Mary Star of Evangelization is a young parish, said the Pope, both because it was founded in 1989 and because most of its families are young. "Your community," he went on, "has the arduous but fascinating task of educating its children in the life and the joy of the faith. I trust that together, in a spirit of sincere communion, you will prepare the Sacraments of Christian initiation, and help your boys and girls ... to grow in love and faithfulness to the Lord."

  A sacred building, the Holy Father explained, "exists so that the Word of God may be heard, explained and understood. ... It exists so that the Word of God can work among us as a power that creates justice and love."

  "The church exists so we can meet Christ there, Son of the living God. God has a face. God has a name. In Christ, God became flesh and gives Himself to us in the mystery of the Blessed Eucharist."

  "We humans," the Pope added, "live from Truth. This Truth is a Person, it speaks to us and we speak to it. The church is the place we meet the Son of the living God and thus it is also the place we meet one another. This is the joy God gives us: that He became one of us, that we can almost touch Him, and that He lives with us. Truly, the joy of God is our strength."

  The Virgin Mary, said the Pope at the conclusion of his homily, "tells us why church buildings exist. They exist so that within each of us a space may be created for the Word of God, so that within us and through us the Word can become flesh today."

  Benedict XVI had previously visited two Roman parishes. On December 18, 2005 he visited the parish of Santa Maria Consolatrice which was his titular church from 1977 to 1993, and on March 26, 2006 he visited the parish of God the Merciful Father.

 

BUILD THE HOUSE OF GOD AMONG MANKIND

VATICAN CITY, DEC 10, 2006 (VIS) - At midday today, the Holy Father appeared at the window of his study, to pray the Angelus with pilgrims gathered below in St. Peter's Square.

  The Pope recalled how a few hours previously he had inaugurated the new church of the Roman parish of St. Mary Star of Evangelization, an event that "assumes symbolic significance within the liturgical period of Advent as we prepare to celebrate the Nativity of the Lord. In these days the liturgy constantly reminds us that 'God is coming' to visit His people."

  "The church-building is a concrete sign of the Church-community, made up of the 'living stones' that are the believers," said the Pope. "St. Peter and St. Paul both highlight how the 'cornerstone' of this spiritual temple is Christ and that, united to Him, ... we too are called to participate in the construction of this living temple. If, then, it is true that it is God who takes the initiative to come and live among men, and that He is the principal architect of this project, it is also true that He does not want to accomplish it without our active collaboration. Therefore, preparing for Christmas means commitment to building the 'house of God with men.' ... At the end of time it will be complete, and it will be the 'heavenly Jerusalem'."

  "Advent invites us to turn our gaze towards the 'heavenly Jerusalem,' which is the final goal of our earthly pilgrimage. At the same time, it exhorts us to commit ourselves with prayer, conversion and good works, to welcoming Jesus into our lives, to constructing together with him that spiritual building in which each of us - our families and our communities - is a precious stone."

  After praying the Angelus, the Holy Father spoke of his concern for the situation in the Middle East, "where glimmers of hope for resolving the crises that afflict the region alternate with tensions and difficulties that cause us to fear fresh violence."

  In this context, he made special mention of Lebanon. There, he said quoting John Paul II's 1997 post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation A New Hope for Lebanon, "yesterday as today, 'men from different cultures and religions are called to live together, to build a nation of dialogue and coexistence and to work together for the common good.' Hence, in the face of recent developments, I share the great concern expressed by the patriarch, His Beatitude Cardinal Nasrallah Pierre Sfeir, and by Maronite bishops in a communique made public last Wednesday.

  "Together with them, I ask the Lebanese and their political leaders to have as their exclusive concern the good of the country and the harmony of its communities," in order to achieve "the unity which is the responsibility of all and of each, and which requires patient and persevering efforts and a trusting and permanent dialogue.

  "I also hope," the Pope concluded, "that the international community will help to find ... the peaceful and balanced solutions so necessary for Lebanon and for the entire Middle East, and I invite everyone to prayer at this difficult moment."

 

TELEGRAM FOR THE DEATH OF CARDINAL PAPPALARDO

VATICAN CITY, DEC 11, 2006 (VIS) - The Pope sent the following telegram of condolence to Cardinal Salvatore De Giorgi, archbishop of Palermo, Italy for the death yesterday at the age of 88 of Cardinal Salvatore Pappalardo, emeritus of the same archdiocese:

  "With great sorrow I learned the sad news of the death of Cardinal Salvatore Pappalardo, archbishop emeritus of Palermo. As I raise fervent prayers to the Lord that He may grant eternal repose to this zealous and generous pastor, I unite myself spiritually to the diocesan community where he conscientiously exercised his episcopal ministry. With admiration, I recall his many and fruitful apostolic activities, animated by the desire to announce Christ and to accompany with his illuminated teaching the moral and cultural growth of society in Palermo. As I express my deepest condolences to the relatives of the beloved cardinal, I impart upon you, upon the clergy, upon the religious communities and upon all the faithful of that dear archdiocese a heartfelt and comforting apostolic blessing as a sign of faith and of Christian hope in the Risen Lord."

 

END OF EXCAVATIONS AT ST. PAUL'S OUTSIDE-THE-WALLS

VATICAN CITY, DEC 11, 2006 (VIS) - In the Holy See Press Office this morning, a press conference was held to present recent excavations that brought to light the sarcophagus of St. Paul in the Roman basilica of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls.

  Participating in the conference were Cardinal Andrea Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo, archpriest of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls, Giorgio Filippi, archeologist, and Pier Carlo Visconti, an official from the administration of the basilica.

  In his talk, Cardinal Cordero Lanza de Montezemolo mentioned the new name to be given to the four great basilicas of Rome, which from now on will be referred to as papal rather than patriarchal basilicas. He also touched on a plan to completely reorganize the basilica of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls, part of which involves the creation of walking route for pilgrims and visitors including, among other things, a new museum area centered on the cloister. The cardinal also dwelt on the work taking place around the tomb of St. Paul and mentioned a new transparent floor which will make it possible to see the remains of the basilica's Constantinian apse.

  For his part, Giorgio Filippi pointed out that "although it is an incontrovertible historical fact that the basilica of St. Paul was built over the tomb of the Apostle, the location of the original tomb remains an open question.

  "The chronicles of the monastery," he added, "speaks of a great marble sarcophagus found during reconstruction work on the basilica following the great fire of 1823, in the area of the Confession, under the two stones with the inscription PAULO APOSTOLO MART[YRI]. However, there is no trace of it in the excavation documents, unlike the other sarcophagi unearthed on that occasion."

  "Archeological investigations in the area traditionally believed to be the Apostle's resting place, which began in 2002 and came to an end on November 22, 2006, brought to light an important area of stratification, formed by the apse of the Constantinian basilica enclosed within the transept of the building of the Three Emperors. On the floor of this building, under the papal altar, we found that great sarcophagus of which all trace had been lost, considered since the time of Theodosius to be the tomb of St. Paul."

 

AUDIENCES

VATICAN CITY, DEC 11, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences seven prelates from the Italian Episcopal Conference on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Archbishop Vittorio Luigi Mondello of Reggio Calabria-Bova.

    - Archbishop Antonio Ciliberti of Catanzaro-Squillace.

    - Archbishop Salvatore Nunnari of Cosenza-Bisignano.

    - Bishop Domenico Tarcisio Cortese O.F.M., of Mileto-Nicotera-Tropea.

    - Bishop Luciano Bux of Oppido Mamertina-Palmi.

    - Archbishop Santo Marciano of Rossano-Cariati.

    - Msgr. Francesco Frandina, apostolic administrator of Crotone-Santa Severina.

  On Saturday, December 9, he received in separate audiences:

 - Six prelates from the Italian Episcopal Conference on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop Delio Lucarelli of Rieti.

    - Bishop Luca Brandolini C.M., of Sora-Aquino-Pontecorvo.

    - Bishop Giovanni Paolo Benotto of Tivoli.

    - Bishop Lorenzo Chiarinelli of Viterbo.

    - Bishop Fabio Bernardo D'Onorio O.S.B., ordinary abbot of Montecassino.

    - Fr. Emiliano Fabbricatore O.S.B.I., archimandrite of St. Mary's abbey at Grottaferrata.

 - Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.

 

OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS

VATICAN CITY, DEC 11, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Accepted the resignation from the office of auxiliary of the archdiocese of Melbourne, Australia, presented by Bishop Joseph Peter O'Connell, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Bishop Gabriel Mbilingi C.S.Sp., of Lwena, Angola, as coadjutor archbishop of Lubango (area 118,000, population 3,085,651, Catholics 1,604,539, priests 83, religious 255), Angola. The archbishop-elect was born in Bandua, Angola, in 1958, he was ordained a priest in 1984 and consecrated a bishop in 2000.

  On Saturday, December 9, it was made public that he appointed Bishop Marcel Madila Basanguka, auxiliary of Kananga, Democratic Republic of the Congo, as archbishop of the same archdiocese (area 33,000, population 2,264,000, Catholics 1,363,000, priests 123, religious 345). The archbishop-elect was born in Demba, Democratic Republic of the Congo, in 1955 he was ordained a priest in 1981 and consecrated a bishop in 2004.

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