January 23, 2008

Vatican Information Service Bulletin

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

SUMMARY:


PRAYER IS AT THE HEART OF THE ECUMENICAL JOURNEY

 VATICAN CITY, 23 JAN 2008 (VIS) - Benedict XVI dedicated his catechesis during today's general audience to the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity which began on 18 January and will come to an end on Friday, 25 January, Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul.

   Addressing the thousands of faithful gathered in the Paul VI Hall, the Pope explained that during the Week "Christians from various Churches and ecclesial communities will come together ... in a choral entreaty to ask the Lord Jesus to re-establish full unity among all His disciples, ... undertaking to work so that all humanity accepts and recognises Him as their only Pastor and Lord".

   The Holy Father gave his listeners a broad historical overview of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, the theme of which this year is "pray without ceasing": More than 100 years ago Fr. Paul Wattson, an Anglican priest from the U.S.A. who later entered into the communion of the Catholic Church, launched "the prophetic idea of an Octave of prayer for the unity of Christians". In 1916 Pope Benedict XV extended the invitation to pray for unity to the entire Catholic Church and later, during Vatican Council II, "the need for unity was felt with even greater urgency". 

  Vatican Council II promulgated the Decree on Ecumenism "Unitatis Redintegratio" which, the Pope said, "lays great emphasis on the role and the importance of prayer for unity. Prayer", he added, "is at the very heart of the ecumenical journey".

   "It is thanks to this spiritual ecumenism, founded on prayer and sincere conversion, ... that the joint search for unity has undergone considerable development over the last few decades, diversifying into many different initiatives: from mutual knowledge to fraternal contact between members of different Churches and ecclesial communities, from ever more friendly dialogue to collaboration in various fields, from theological dialogue to the search for tangible forms of communion".

   Vatican Council II "also highlighted prayer in common", said Pope Benedict, "because in joint prayer Christian communities come together before the Lord and, aware of the contradictions caused by their divisions, manifest their desire to obey His will". ... Joint prayer is not, then a form of volunteer work or sociology, but an expression of the faith that unites all Christ's disciples".

   "It is the awareness of our human limitations that encourages us to abandon ourselves faithfully in the hands of the Lord. ... The profound significance of the Week of Prayer lies precisely in the fact that it is firmly founded on the prayer of Christ ... 'that they may all be one, ... so that the world may believe'".

   "So that the world may believe!" the Pope concluded. "We particularly feel the realism of those words today. The world is suffering from the absence of God, ... it wishes to know the face of God. But how can men and women today know the face of God in the face of Christ if we Christians are divided? Only in unity can we truly show the face of God, the face of Christ, to a world which has such need to see it".

 

LETTER FROM THE POPE ON VITAL IMPORTANCE OF EDUCATION

 VATICAN CITY, 23 JAN 2008 (VIS) - Made public today was a Letter from the Pope to the diocese and the city of Rome on the vital importance of education.

   During last Sunday's Angelus, for the occasion of the Day of Catholic Schools which the diocese of Rome was celebrating that day, the Holy Father had encouraged administrators, teachers, parents and pupils of Catholic schools, despite the difficulties they face, to continue their work "which has the Gospel as its focus, following an educational syllabus that aims at the integral formation of the human person".

   In his Letter, which is dated 21 January, Benedict XVI notes that education today "seems to be becoming ever more difficult. ... Hence there is talk of an 'educational emergency', confirmed by the failures which too often crown our efforts to form well-rounded individuals, capable of collaborating with others and of giving meaning to their lives". There is also talk of a 'break between the generations', which certainly exists and is a burden, but is the effect rather than the cause of the failure to transmit certainties and values".

   The Holy Father notes that parents and teachers may feel the "temptation to give up" on education, and even run the risk "of not understanding what their role is", and he identifies "a mentality and a form of culture that lead people to doubt the value of the human person, the meaning of truth and of good and, in the final analysis, the goodness of life itself".

   Faced with such difficulties, "which are not insurmountable", the Pope says: "Do not be afraid! ... Event the greatest values of the past cannot simply be inherited, we must make them our own and renew them through often-difficult personal choices.

   "However", he adds, "when the foundations are shaken and essential certainties disappear, the need for those values returns to make itself imposingly felt. Thus we see today an increasing demand for real education". It is demanded by parents, by teachers, "by society as a whole, ... and by the young people themselves who do not want to be left to face the challenges of life alone".

   The Holy Father writes of the need "to identify certain common requirements for authentic education", noting that "it requires, above all, the nearness and trust that are born of love".

   "It would, then, be a poor education that limited itself to imparting notions and information while ignoring the great question of truth, above all of that truth which can be a guide to life".

   The Pope identifies "the most delicate aspect of education" as that of "finding the right balance between freedom and discipline". However, he affirms, "the educational relationship is above all an encounter between two freedoms, and successful education is formation in the correct use of freedom. ...We must, then, accept the risk of freedom, remaining ever attentive to helping it and to correcting mistaken ideas and choices".

   "Education cannot forgo that authoritative prestige which makes the exercise of authority credible" writes the Holy Father, adding that this is "acquired above all by the coherence of one's own life". He also highlights the decisive importance of a sense of responsibility. "Responsibility is first of all personal but there also exists a responsibility we share together", he says.

   In this context, Benedict XVI observes that "the overall trends of the society in which we live, and the image it gives of itself through the communications media, exercise a great influence on the formation of new generations, for good but also often for evil. Society", he adds, "is not an abstract concept, in the final analysis it is we ourselves".

   In closing, the Holy Father refers to hope, the subject of his last Encyclical, as the "soul of education", indicating that "our hope today is threatened from many sides and we too, like the ancient pagans, risk becoming men without 'hope and without God in the world'".

   "At the root of the crisis of education lies a crisis of trust in life," he concludes. "Hope directed towards God is never hope for me alone, it is always also hope for others. it does not isolate us but unites us in goodness, stimulating us to educate one another in truth and in love".

 

AUDIENCES

 VATICAN CITY, 23 JAN 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father yesterday received in audience Cardinal Paul Josef Cordes, president of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum".

 

OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS

 VATICAN CITY, 23 JAN 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Fr. Tarcisio Scaramussa S.D.B., general counsellor of the Salesians in Rome, as auxiliary of Sao Paulo (area 1,645, population 7,060,750, Catholics 5,215,000, priests 941, permanent deacons 30, religious 2,825), Brazil. The bishop-elect was born in Prosperidade, Brazil in 1950 and ordained a priest in 1977

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