January 24, 2008

Vatican Information Service Bulletin

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

SUMMARY:


SECULARISM: MAIN CHALLENGE FACING CHURCH IN SLOVENIA

 VATICAN CITY, 24 JAN 2008 (VIS) - Today in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received prelates from the Slovenian Episcopal Conference who have just completed their five-yearly "ad limina" visit.

   In his address to them, the Holy Father dwelt on the great changes the country has seen over the last five years, from its entry into the European Union (2004) to its adoption of the euro (2007) and its adherence to the Schengen Agreement. These changes "are not of an ecclesiastical nature but they nonetheless concern the Church because they touch people's lives, and in particular the question of values in Europe", he said.

   Recalling the pastoral letter written by Slovenian bishops in 2004, the Pope noted that it remains valid because, "if Europe wishes to remain - and ever more to become - a land of peace, maintaining the dignity of the human person as one of its fundamental values, it cannot relinquish the principle spiritual and ethical component of its foundation: Christianity.

   "Not all forms of humanism are the same", Pope Benedict added, "nor are they equivalent in moral terms. I am not referring here to religious aspects, but limit myself to ethical and social questions. The various visions of man that can be adopted have consequences for civil coexistence. If, for example, man is conceived - following a widespread modern tendency - in individualistic terms how can we justify efforts for the construction of a more just and united community?"

   In this context, the Holy Father quoted from the bishops' pastoral letter: "'Christianity is the religion of hope: hope in life, in endless happiness, in the attainment of fraternity among all mankind'. This is true for all continents, including Europe where many intellectuals still struggle to accept the fact that 'reason and faith need one another in order to fulfil their true nature and their mission'".

   The Pope then went on to consider the "main challenge" facing the Church in Slovenia: "Western-style secularism, which is different and perhaps more underhand than Marxist secularism". It results in "the unbridled pursuit of material goods, the drop in nativity and the reduction in religious practice with a notable diminution in vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life".

   "Each generation is called to renew the choice between life and goodness and death and evil. We as pastors have the duty to show Christians the path of life, that they in their turn may become the salt and light of society. I encourage the Church in Slovenia, then, to respond to materialist and selfish culture with a coherent evangelising activity that begins in parishes".

   Finally, referring to the National Eucharistic Congress which will be held in Slovenia in 2009, Benedict XVI stated that the Eucharist and the Word of God "constitute the true treasure of the Church. Faithful to the teaching of Christ, each community must use earthly goods simply, in the service of the Gospel".

   He concluded: "On this subject, the New Testament is rich in teachings and in normative examples so that at all times pastors may correctly approach the delicate problem of worldly good and their appropriate use. In all periods of the Church, witness to evangelical poverty has been an essential element of evangelisation, as it was in the life of Christ".

 

COMMUNICATIONS MEDIA: SPREADING AND DEFENDING TRUTH

 VATICAN CITY, 24 JAN 2008 (VIS) - This morning in the Holy See Press Office Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli and Msgr. Paul Tighe, respectively president and secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, presented the Pope's Message for the 42nd World Day of Social Communications.

   Noting how the communications media "can be instruments of our hope", Archbishop Celli stressed that "they can and must also be instruments at the service a more just and united world.

   "It is no coincidence", he added, "that the Pope mentions, though briefly, the 'decisive' role the media have had and continue to have". The Holy Father also recalls those sectors of human life in which the media "are a real resource, a blessing for everyone: literacy, socialisation, the development of democracy and dialogue among peoples", he added.

   The president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications dwelt on "the Pope's clear awareness and knowledge of the fact that unfortunately the media 'risk being transformed into systems aimed at subjecting humanity to agendas dictated by the dominant interests of the day'. This is the challenge facing the media, the challenge we must all face in our daily lives in order to become men and women who show solidarity to all mankind".

  Benedict XVI notes the fact that "the media can be used to 'create' events", Archbishop Celli observed before going on to ask: "If the media, rather than recounting events, 'create' them what happens to mankind?" In this context, he noted, the Pope suggests that "many people now think there is a need, in this sphere, for 'info-ethics', just as we have bioethics in the field of medicine and in scientific research linked to life".

   These words of the Pope, the archbishop concluded, "make us even more aware of how much the social communications media are profoundly linked to mankind, and invite us to protect human beings jealously in all their environments and in everything that mankind is and is called to be".

   For his part, Msgr. Tighe, speaking English, noted how the "true measure of progress is not to be found in the technical or logistical efficiency of the new means of communications alone, but in the purposes which the serve". In using new technologies, he continued, the media can place them "at the service of individuals and communities in their search for the truth or they can allow them to be used to promote their own interests and/or the interests of those they represent in ways that manipulate communities and individuals".

   This Message, said Msgr. Tighe, encourages those who work in the media "to be vigilant in their efforts to make known the truth and to defend it 'against those who tend to deny or destroy it'. Media professionals are invited to defend the ethical underpinnings of their profession and to ensure that the 'centrality and the inviolable dignity of the human person' are always vindicated".

   Finally, Msgr. Tighe recalled the numerous journalists throughout the world who "have suffered persecution, imprisonment and even death because of this commitment and because of their unwillingness to be silent in the face of injustice and corruption".

 

THE COMMUNICATIONS MEDIA NEED "INFO-ETHICS"

 VATICAN CITY, 24 JAN 2008 (VIS) - Made public today, Feast of St. Francis de Sales, patron saint of journalists, was Benedict XVI's Message for the World Day of Social Communications, which this year is due to be celebrated on 4 May, and has as its theme: "The Media: At the Crossroads between Self-Promotion and Service. Searching for the Truth in order to Share it with Others".

   The Holy Father's Message has been published in Italian, English, Spanish, German, French and Portuguese. Extracts from the English language version are given below:

   "The theme of this year's World Communications Day ... sheds light on the important role of the media in the life of individuals and society. Truly, there is no area of human experience, especially given the vast phenomenon of globalisation, in which the media have not become an integral part of interpersonal relations and of social, economic, political and religious development".

   "In view of their meteoric technological evolution, the media have acquired extraordinary potential, while raising new and hitherto unimaginable questions and problems. There is no denying the contribution they can make to the diffusion of news, to knowledge of facts and to the dissemination of information: they have played a decisive part, ... in the spread of literacy and in socialisation, as well as the development of democracy and dialogue among peoples".

   "Indeed, the media, taken overall, are not only vehicles for spreading ideas: they can and should also be instruments at the service of a world of greater justice and solidarity. Unfortunately, though, they risk being transformed into systems aimed at subjecting humanity to agendas dictated by the dominant interests of the day. This is what happens when communication is used for ideological purposes or for the aggressive advertising of consumer products. While claiming to represent reality, it can tend to legitimise or impose distorted models of personal, family or social life. Moreover, in order to attract listeners and increase the size of audiences, it does not hesitate at times to have recourse to vulgarity and violence, and to overstep the mark. The media can also present and support models of development which serve to increase rather than reduce the technological divide between rich and poor countries.

   "Humanity today is at a crossroads. ... We must ask, therefore, whether it is wise to allow the instruments of social communication to be exploited for indiscriminate 'self-promotion' or to end up in the hands of those who use them to manipulate consciences. ... Their extraordinary impact on the lives of individuals and on society is widely acknowledged, yet today it is necessary to stress the radical shift, one might even say the complete change of role, that they are currently undergoing. Today, communication seems increasingly to claim not simply to represent reality, but to determine it, owing to the power and the force of suggestion that it possesses. It is clear, for example, that in certain situations the media are used not for the proper purpose of disseminating information, but to 'create' events".

   "The role that the means of social communication have acquired in society must now be considered an integral part of the 'anthropological' question that is emerging as the key challenge of the third millennium. Just as we see happening in areas such as human life, marriage and the family, and in the great contemporary issues of peace, justice and protection of creation, so too in the sector of social communications there are essential dimensions of the human person and the truth concerning the human person coming into play. ... For this reason it is essential that social communications should assiduously defend the person and fully respect human dignity. Many people now think there is a need, in this sphere, for 'info-ethics', just as we have bioethics in the field of medicine and in scientific research linked to life.

   "The media must avoid becoming spokesmen for economic materialism and ethical relativism, true scourges of our time. Instead, they can and must contribute to making known the truth about humanity, and defending it against those who tend to deny or destroy it. ... Utilising for this purpose the many refined and engaging techniques that the media have at their disposal is an exciting task, entrusted in the first place to managers and operators in the sector.

   "Yet it is a task which to some degree concerns us all, because we are all consumers and operators of social communications in this era of globalisation. The new media - telecommunications and internet in particular - are changing the very face of communication; perhaps this is a valuable opportunity to reshape it, to make more visible, as my venerable predecessor Pope John Paul II said, the essential and indispensable elements of the truth about the human person".

 

AUDIENCES

 VATICAN CITY, 24 JAN 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences seven prelates from the Slovenian Episcopal Conference on their "ad limina" visit:

     - Archbishop Alojzij Uran of Ljubljana.

     - Bishop Metod Pirih of Koper, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Jurij Bizjak.

     - Bishop Andrej Glavan of Novo Mesto.

     - Archbishop Franc Kramberger of Maribor, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishops Jozef Smej and Peter Stumpf S.D.B.

   Yesterday evening, the Holy Father received in audience Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, archbishop of Krakow, Poland.

 

OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS

 VATICAN CITY, 24 JAN 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

  - Appointed Bishop Thomas Chung An-zu, auxiliary of the archdiocese of Taipei, Taiwan, as bishop of Kiayi (area 3,244, population 1,582,934, Catholics 17,820, priests 41, religious 81), Taiwan.

  - Appointed Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski, apostolic nuncio to Kazakhstan, Tadjikistan, Krygyzstan and Uzbekistan, as apostolic nuncio to the Dominican Republic.

  - Appointed Msgr. James Vann Johnston of the clergy of Knoxville, U.S.A., chancellor and moderator of the diocesan curia, as bishop of Springfield - Cape Girardeau (area 66,586, population 1,248,000, Catholics 64,900, priests 128, permanent deacons 13, religious 222), U.S.A. The bishop-elect was born in Knoxville in 1959 and ordained a priest in 1990. He succeeds Bishop John J. Leibrecht, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

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