March 20, 2007

Vatican Information Service Bulletin

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

SUMMARY: MARCH 17 - 20


CHURCH NEEDS THE CONTRIBUTION OF THE BLIND

 VATICAN CITY, MAR 17, 2007 (VIS) - In the Vatican Basilica at midday today, the Pope received participants in a pilgrimage promoted by OFTAL (Federated Work for the Transportation of the Sick to Lourdes) and by MAC (Apostolic Movement for the Blind).

   Both OFTAL, officially founded in 1932, and MAC, the origins of which date back to 1928, "represent experiences of fraternal unity, based on the Gospel and capable of making people in difficulty (in this case the sick and the blind) full participants in the life of the ecclesial community, and builders of a civilization of love."

   Benedict XVI recalled how Fr. Alessandro Rastelli, founder of OFTAL, had travelled to Lourdes after suffering an accident. "The experience of his illness made him particularly sensitive to the message of Mary Immaculate, who called him to return to the Grotto of Massabielle, initially in the company of just one sick person - and this is highly significant - and subsequently at the head of a diocesan pilgrimage with more than 300 people, 30 of them sick."

   Maria Motta, blind since birth, founder of MAC, "was an apostle of the sightless," said the Pope. "From the spiritual 'network' she formed there grew an association, made up of diocesan groups from all over Italy and approved by Blessed John XXIII with the name of the Apostolic Movement for the Blind."

   The members of OFTAL, with "their experience of pilgrimage with the sick," show "a strong sign of faith and solidarity between people" said Pope Benedict, "ignoring their own cares and problems to start out towards a shared goal, a place of the spirit: Lourdes, the Holy Land, Fatima and other shrines."

   He described the members of MAC as "bearers of your own special experience, that of walking together, side by side, the sightless and the sighted. This is a testimony of how Christian love enables handicaps to be overcome, and of how to live diversity in a positive way as an opportunity to open up to others, attentive to their problems but above all to their gifts."

   "The Church," the Pope concluded, "also needs your contribution in order to be able to respond fully and faithfully to the will of the Lord. And the same can be said of civil society: humanity needs your gifts, which are a prophecy of the Kingdom of God. Do not be frightened by the limits and scarcity of resources, God loves to achieve His work with poor means.

 

FIFTY YEARS AS A PRIEST FOR CARDINAL SARAIVA MARTINS

 VATICAN CITY, MAR 17, 2007 (VIS) - Benedict XVI has written a Letter to Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins C.M.F., prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, for the 50th anniversary of his ordination as a priest, which fell on March 16.

   In the text, written in Latin and dated February 16, the Pope praises the cardinal's work in the service of the Holy See over these 50 years.

 

AUDIENCES

 VATICAN CITY, MAR 17, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

  - Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, president of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State and of the Governorate of Vatican City State.

  - Cardinal Bernard Francis Law, archpriest of the papal basilica of St. Mary Major.

 

POPE VISITS A YOUTH DETENTION CENTER

 VATICAN CITY, MAR 18, 2007 (VIS) - Today at 9 a.m., the Holy Father visited the "Casal del Marmo" youth detention center in Rome where he celebrated the Eucharist before going on to meet the fifty young people detained there.

   In his homily, the Holy Father commented on the Gospel episode of the prodigal son, in which the younger of two brothers goes out "to seek a life free from the discipline and norms of the commandments of God," and having received his inheritance leaves home for a distant land in search of "a completely different life."

   The prodigal son, he went on, does not wish to remain "in the prison of the discipline of his home," but to do as he pleases. And although he is initially happy, he becomes weighed down by tedium and "in the end all that remains is a disquieting emptiness."

   In this situation, the son begins "to reflect and ask himself if this is really his path in life, ... and whether it would not be better to live for others, to contribute to the construction of the world, to the growth of the human community. Thus he begins a new journey, an interior journey," and comes to believe "that he was much freer at home, ... discovering the project God had for him."

   This process of maturation, the Pope said, also includes "an exterior journey:" the son returns home to restart his life, and his father - "who had left him free in order to give him the chance to understand what life is and is not" - welcomes him with open arms.

   "The prodigal son understands that it is precisely the work, humility and discipline of every day that creates true joy and true freedom. So he returns home internally mature and purified. He has understood what it means to live, ... and now he is fully aware that a life without God does not work, because it lacks an essential quality, it lacks light, it lacks reason. It lacks the great sense of what it means to be a human being."

   The younger of the two brothers understands that "God's commandments are not obstacles to freedom and to a happy life, but indicate the path to follow in order to find life."

   "The errors we make," the Pope said, "even when they are big, do not affect the faithfulness of His love. In the Sacrament of Confession we can always begin life again. God welcomes us, He restores our dignity as His children."

   The parable of the prodigal son also helps us to understand that man "is not an isolated unit," but was created "together with others, and only in being with others, in giving ourselves to others, do we find life."

   Human beings are "fragile creatures exposed to evil," said the Holy Father, "but they are also capable of doing good."

   "In the final instance," he concluded, "man is free. ... Freedom, we may say, is a springboard from which to dive into the infinite sea of divine goodness, but it can also be a slippery slope down which we slide towards the abyss of sin and evil, thus also losing our freedom and our dignity."

   Following the Mass, Benedict XVI went to the prison gymnasium where he met with the young inmates, who are between 17 and 23 years old and 85 percent of whom are non-Italian, in the company of their families, and of administrators and volunteers of the detention center.

   The Pope thanked them for their best wishes for his name day, which falls tomorrow, and gave assurances to the young people of his concern and affection for them.

   "Today," he said, "is a day of celebration for you ... because the Pope has come to visit. ... But how is it possible to be joyful when one suffers, when one is deprived of freedom, when one feels abandoned?"

   "God loves us, this is the source of true joy," he explained. "Even when we have everything we desire sometimes we are unhappy; yet it is possible to be deprived of everything, even of freedom and health, and yet to live in peace and joy, if in our hearts there is God. Here, then, lies the secret: God must occupy the primary place in our lives."

 

THE EUCHARIST, THE SOURCE OF CHRISTIAN JOY

 VATICAN CITY, MAR 18, 2007 (VIS) - Having returned from his visit to the "Casal del Marmo" youth detention center in Rome, the Holy Father appeared at the window of his study overlooking St. Peter's Square to pray the Angelus with the thousands of pilgrims gathered there.

   "Today," said the Pope, "the liturgy invites is to be joyful because Easter is approaching, the day of Christ's victory over sin and death. ... The source of Christian joy" is in the Eucharist which "nourishes in believers of all times that profound happiness which is one and the same as love and peace, and which has its roots in communion with God and with our brothers."

   Benedict XVI then referred to last Tuesday's presentation of the post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation "Sacramentum caritatis," dedicated to the subject of the Eucharist, and he emphasized how in this Sacrament "Christ wished to give us His love," the love that "brought Him to offer His life on the cross for us. At the Last Supper, washing the feet of his disciples, Jesus left us the commandment of love: 'Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.' But since this is possible only by remaining united to Him like branches to the vine, He chose to remain among us in the Eucharist, so that we could abide in Him.

   "For this reason," the Holy Father added, "when we faithfully nourish ourselves of His Body and His Blood, His love passes into us and makes us, in our turn, capable of giving our life for our brothers and sisters. This is the source of Christian joy, the joy of love."

   Pope Benedict concluded by recalling the figure of St. Joseph, whose solemn liturgical feast falls tomorrow, and he called for the intercession of the saint "so that, believing, celebrating and living the Eucharistic mystery with faith, the People of God may be pervaded with the love of Christ and spread the fruits of joy and peace to all humanity."

 

YOUTH FORUM, WITNESSING TO CHRIST IN THE WORLD OF WORK

 VATICAN CITY, MAR 20, 2007 (VIS) - In a communique published today, the Pontifical Council for the Laity announced the forthcoming celebration of the ninth International Youth Forum, due to be held at Rocca di Papa near Rome from March 28 to April 1 on the theme: "Bearing witness to Christ in the world of work."

   The forum will be attended by around 300 people between the ages of 20 and 35, all with a solid background of commitment in the Church and in the world of work. They come from around 100 different countries and have various work and ecclesiastical experiences. Also participating will be around 30 guests, including speakers and participants in round table discussions.

   The characteristics of young people entering the world of work in the various countries ("young people and the world of work today") will be the theme of the first day of the meeting. Particular attention will be given to the sociological, economic and institutional transformations brought about by globalization, and the sometimes dramatic consequences thereof (human mobility, unemployment, frustration). Attention will also turn to creative and innovative capacities and potential, and the emergence of new professions.

   The second day will be dedicated to a pilgrimage in the footsteps of the Apostles Peter and Paul, and to the discovery of the city of Rome which many of the delegates will be visiting for the first time.

   "The significance of work for human life," especially in the light of the Church's social doctrine, is to be the theme of the third day. On the basis of John Paul II's Encyclical "Laborem exercens," attention will be given to the world of work in its entirety, considered as a world made up of human relationships where individuals have the right to self-realization in the exercise of their profession and where people learn to structure and unify their lives, rather than a machine to generate profit, regulated by competition and competitiveness and nourished by a consumer society."

   "Announcing the 'Gospel of work' today" is to be the theme of the last day of the forum. Attention will focus on the spirituality of work, the state of pastoral care in the workplace, and the role of Catholic associations in achieving what St. Benedict called 'ora et labora,' the unity of an individual's professional and Christian life.

 

OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS

 VATICAN CITY, MAR 20, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Bishop Josip Mrzljak, auxiliary of the archdiocese of Zagreb, Croatia, as bishop of Varazdin (area 3,100, population 391,890, Catholics 372,395, priests 153, religious 169), Croatia.

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