March 26, 2007

Vatican Information Service Bulletin

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

SUMMARY: MARCH 24 - 26


EUROPE MUST NOT FORGET THE IDENTITY OF ITS PEOPLE

 VATICAN CITY, MAR 24, 2007 (VIS) - Benedict XVI today received cardinals, bishops, parliamentarians and other participants in a congress promoted by the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Community (COMECE). The event is being held to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome on March 25, 1957.

   The Pope recalled how over these fifty years the continent has travelled a long journey leading "to the reconciliation of the two 'lungs,' East and West, joined by a shared history and arbitrarily separated by a curtain of injustice." And he referred to the search, "still painstakingly underway, for an adequate institutional structure for the European Union, which ... aspires to be a global player."

   Benedict XVI noted how Europe has sought to conciliate "the economic and social dimensions through policies aimed at producing wealth, ... yet without overlooking the legitimate expectations of the poor and marginalized. However, in demographic terms, it must unfortunately be noted that Europe seems set on a path that could lead to its exit from history."

   "It could almost be imagined that the European continent is actually losing faith in its own future," said the Holy Father, and he recalled how in some fields such as "respect for the environment" or "access to energy resources and investments, solidarity finds scant incentives, in both the international and the national fields." Moreover, "the process of European unification is clearly not shared by everyone," because "various 'chapters' of the European project were 'written' without taking adequate account of the wishes of citizens.

   "What emerges from all this," he added, "is that it is unthinkable to create an authentic 'common European home' while ignoring the identity of the people of our continent. ... An identity that is historical, cultural and moral, more even than geographical, economic or political; an identity made up of a collection of universal values which Christianity contributed to creating, thus acquiring a role that is not only historical but foundational for the continent of Europe."

   "If, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, the governments of the EU wish to 'get closer' to their citizens, how can they exclude such an essential element of European identity as Christianity, in which a vast majority of that people continue to identify themselves? Is it not surprising that modern Europe, while seeking to present itself as a community of values, seems ever more frequently to question the very existence of universal and absolute values? And does this singular form of 'apostasy' - from oneself even more than from God - not perhaps induce Europe to doubt its own identity?

   "In this way," he added, "we end up by spreading the conviction that the 'balance of interests' is the only way to moral discernment, and that the common good is a synonym of compromise. In reality, although compromise can be a legitimate balance between varying individual interests," it is bad "whenever it leads to agreements that harm the nature of man."

   "For this reason it is becoming ever more indispensable for Europe to avoid the pragmatic approach, so widespread today, that systematically justifies compromise on essential human values, as if the acceptance of a supposedly lesser evil were inevitable. ... When such pragmatism involves laical and relativist trends and tendencies, Christians end up being denied the right to participate as Christians in public debate or, at the least, their contribution is disqualified with the accusation of seeking to protect unjustified privileges."

   Benedict XVI went on to affirm that at this moment in history the European Union, "in order to be a valid guarantor of the State of law and an effective promoter of universal values, must clearly recognize the definite existence of a stable and permanent human nature." This nature is "the source of rights shared by all individuals, including the very people who seek to deny them. In such a context protection must be afforded to conscientious objection" in cases where "fundamental human rights are violated."

   "I know how difficult it is for Christians to defend this truth. ... But do not tire and do not be discouraged! You know your task is to contribute to building, with God's help, a new Europe, realistic but not cynical, rich in ideals and free of naive illusions, inspired by the perennial and life-giving truth of the Gospel."

 

TO MEMBERS OF CL: BRING TRUTH AND PEACE TO THE WORLD

 VATICAN CITY, MAR 24, 2007 (VIS) - At midday today in St. Peter's Square, the Pope met with more than 80,000 people from 50 countries who are taking part in a pilgrimage organized by the Communion and Liberation association (CL). The event is being held to mark the 35th anniversary of pontifical recognition for the association.

   The Holy Father began his address to them by recalling how two years ago in the cathedral of Milan he had presided, in the name of John Paul II, at the funeral of Msgr. Luigi Guissani, the founder of CL. "Through him the Holy Spirit inspired in the Church a movement that testifies to the beauty of being Christian, in an age marked by the ever more widespread opinion that Christianity is something oppressive and difficult to practice." Don Giussani used to repeat that only the Lord "is the way towards realizing the desires of the human heart."

   Pope Benedict recalled that in one of John Paul II's meetings with members of CL, the late pontiff had highlighted how "the original educational contribution of Communion and Liberation lies in the way it re-proposes - in a fascinating way that harmonizes with contemporary culture - the Christian message, considered as a source of new values, ... capable of orienting an entire existence."

   "Communion and Liberation is a community experience of faith born within the Church, not through an organizational initiative of the hierarchy but originating from a renewed encounter with Christ and thus, we may say, from an impulse that derives in the final instance from the Holy Spirit. Even today it offers the possibility of living Christian faith in a profound and modern way, on the one hand in complete fidelity and communion with Peter's Successor and the pastors who ensure the governance of the Church, and on the other with a spontaneity and freedom that give rise to new and prophetic apostolic and missionary achievements."

   After reiterating that ecclesial movements "are a sign of the fecundity of the Spirit of the Lord," the Holy Father recalled the words he had used during a recent meeting with pastors of the city of Rome, referring to St. Paul's call "not to extinguish charisms. If the Lord gives us new gifts, we must be grateful even if they are difficult."

   The Holy Father also recalled John Paul II's parting message to CL members on the occasion of an earlier meeting: "'Go throughout the world to bring the truth, beauty and peace of Christ the Redeemer.' Don Giussani made those words the program of the entire movement, and for Communion and Liberation this was the beginning of a missionary journey that has taken you to 80 countries. Today," he concluded, "I invite you to continue along this path, with profound faith ... solidly rooted in the living Body of Christ, the Church, which guarantees Christ's daily presence among us."

 

DIVINE FORGIVENESS GIVES US THE STRENGTH TO RESIST EVIL

 VATICAN CITY, MAR 25, 2007 (VIS) - This morning, Benedict XVI visited the parish of St. Felicitas and children, martyrs, in the northern sector of the diocese of Rome, where he celebrated Mass.

 

  In his homily, the Holy Father explained how today's Gospel text on the adulteress "helps us to understand that only God can change man's life, and hence society, from within, because only His infinite love frees man from sin which is the root of all evil."

   God is, "above all, love," he went on. "If He hates sin it is because He has an infinite love for all human beings. He loves each one of us and His faithfulness is such that it is not discouraged even by our refusal. Today particularly, Jesus calls us to interior conversion: He explains why He forgives us, and He teaches us to make forgiveness received and given to others the 'daily bread' of our lives."

   In the Gospel episode as recounted by St. John, "man's misery and divine mercy come face to face: a woman accused of a grave sin and He Who, though without sin, took on the sins of the world entire." Jesus "asks for no explanations, He does not seek excuses. He is not being ironic when He asks her: ... 'Has no one condemned you?' And His reply is astounding: 'Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again'."

   The Lord's aim was "to save a soul and to reveal that salvation is only to be found in the love of God. For this reason He came into the world, for this reason He would die on the Cross and the Father would raise Him on the third day. Jesus came to tell us that He wants us all in heaven and that hell - of which so little is said in our time - exists and is eternal for those who close their hearts to His love."

   "What is being highlighted here is the fact that only God's forgiveness and His love received with an open and sincere heart give us the strength to resist evil and to sin no more. Jesus' attitude thus becomes a model to be followed by all communities, called to make love and forgiveness the pulsating heart of their lives."

   Benedict XVI concluded by calling upon his listeners, through the intercession of St. Felicitas and her children, martyrs, "to discover Christ ever more profoundly and to follow Him with docile trust. ... May the example and intercession of these saints be a constant encouragement for you to follow the path of the Gospel without hesitation or compromise."

 

LOVE OF CHRIST IS STRONGER THAN VIOLENCE AND HATRED

 VATICAN CITY, MAR 25, 2007 (VIS) - The Solemnity of the Annunciation (which falls every year on March 25, but this year is being celebrated tomorrow because today is a Sunday of Lent), and the Day of Prayer and Fasting for Missionary Martyrs, which falls on March 24, were the central theme of Benedict XVI's remarks before praying the Angelus today.

   Addressing the thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square, the Pope spoke of the "extraordinary mystery of faith" of the Annunciation, "a humble and unseen event ... that was nonetheless decisive for the history of humanity."

   "Mary's 'yes'," he explained, "was the perfect reflection Christ's own 'yes' when He entered the world. ... And through the meeting of these two 'yeses,' God was able to assume a human face. ... Mary's reply to the angel is prolonged in the Church, which is called to make Christ present in history, offering her own readiness that God may continue to visit humanity with His mercy."

   Jesus' 'yes' and Mary's 'yes' are renewed, the Holy Father explained, in the 'yes' of the saints, and especially of martyrs who died for the Gospel. He also recalled that yesterday, March 24 and the anniversary of the death of Archbishop Oscar Romero of San Salvador, was the Day of Prayer and Fasting for Missionary Martyrs, "bishops, priests, religious and lay people killed in the course of their mission of evangelization and human promotion.

   "They," he added, "are the 'hope of the world' because they testify that love of Christ is stronger than violence and hatred. They did not seek martyrdom, but were ready to give their lives to remain faithful to the Gospel. Christian martyrdom is justified only as a supreme act of love to God and to one's fellow men and women."

   After praying the Angelus, Benedict XVI recalled that next Sunday, Palm Sunday, marks 22nd World Youth Day, the theme of which this year is Christ's commandment: "Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another."

   The Pope invited young Romans to the penitential celebration he is due to preside on March 29 in the Vatican Basilica. "Those who wish," he said, "will have the opportunity to access the Sacrament of Confession, a true encounter with the love of God, which all mankind needs in order to live in joy and peace."

 

IN BRIEF

 DURING A BRIEF MEETING WITH A GROUP OF PROFESSORS from the faculty of theology of Tubingen, Germany on March 21, the Pope affirmed that: "University and society, humanity indeed, need questions, but they also need answers. And, in this context, I feel that theology - and not only theology - has need of a dialectic between rigid scientific principles and the greater question that transcends them and repeatedly emerges within them: the question of truth." Theology, said the Pope, "needs, apart from the courage to ask, also the humility to listen to the answers that Christian faith gives us."

 THE POPE HAS SENT A TELEGRAM OF CONDOLENCE to Archbishop Francisco Chimoio of Maputo, Mozambique, for the explosion at a weapons depot near the city's international airport on March 22 that left dozens of people dead. The Pope gives assurances of his prayers for the victims whom he "entrusts to the mercy of God, and for the injured, for their families and for all the inhabitants of the region, that they may find the necessary assistance and support at this moment of trial."

 IN A MESSAGE WRITTEN FOR WORLD WATER DAY, which was celebrated on March 22 on the theme "Coping with Water Scarcity," the Pope highlights how water is "a universal and inalienable right" that must be "promoted and safeguarded." In his Message - which was read in his name by Msgr. Renato Volante , Holy See permanent observer to the United Nations Organization for Food and Agriculture (FAO) - Benedict XVI indicates the need "to re-examine models of consumption and production which are often unsustainable in terms of the use of water resources. This is ... a moral and political imperative in a world with levels of knowledge and technology capable of putting an end to situations of water scarcity and their dramatic consequences."

 MSGR. PIETRO PAROLIN, UNDER-SECRETARY FOR RELATIONS with States of the Secretariat of State, delivered a speech on March 22 in the course of an international conference called by the United Nations Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, held in the Rome headquarters of the United Nations Organization for Food and Agriculture on March 22 and 23. Speaking English, Msgr. Parolin expressed his "firm conviction that the different religious confessions present in the Holy Land can make a decisive contribution to the re-launching of peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians."

 

AUDIENCES

 VATICAN CITY, MAR 26, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

  - Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, archbishop of Naples, Italy.

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

     - Bishop Sotir Ferrara of Piana degli Albanesi.

    - Archbishop Carmelo Ferraro of Agrigento.

    - Bishop Mario Russotto of Caltanissetta.

    - Bishop Michele Pennisi of Piazza Armerina.

 - Frere Alois, prior of the community of Taize, France.

   On Saturday, march 24, he received in separate audiences:

  - Bishop Sebastiano Sanguinetti of Tempio-Ampurias, Italy, on his "ad limina" visit.

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

 

OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS

 VATICAN CITY, MAR 26, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Fr. Philibert Tembo Nlandu C.I.C.M. provincial superior of the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Kinshasa, as coadjutor bishop of Budjala (area 50,000, population 1,070,000, Catholics 525,000, priests 41), Democratic Republic of the Congo. The bishop-elect was born in Nganda Kikamba, Democratic Republic of the Congo, in 1962 and ordained a priest in 1991.

   Major Archbishop Baselios Mar Cleemis of Trivandrum of the Syro-Malankars, India, with the consent of the Synod of Bishops of the Syro-Malankar Church and in accordance with canon 85, para. 2.2, of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, promoted Bishop Thomas Koorilos Chakkalapadickal of Muvattapuzha of the Syro-Malankars, to the office of metropolitan archbishop of Tiruvalla of the Syro-Malankars (area 11,120, population 5.335.000, Catholics 37.284, priests 126, religious 315), India. The archbishop-elect was born in Kadapramannar, India, in 1958, he was ordained a priest in 1985 and consecrated a bishop in 1997.

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