January 30, 2008

Vatican Information Service Bulletin

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

SUMMARY:


ENCOUNTERING CHRIST CHANGED ST. AUGUSTINE'S LIFE

 VATICAN CITY, 30 JAN 2008 (VIS) - In today's general audience, held this morning in the Paul VI Hall, the Pope again dedicated his catechesis (for the third time) to the figure of St. Augustine.

   The Holy Father recalled how in 1986, for the sixteenth centenary of the conversion of this Doctor of the Church, John Paul II wrote the Apostolic Letter "Augustinum Hipponensem" as a form of "thanksgiving to God for the gift that He has made to the Church, and through her to the whole human race, with this wonderful conversion".

   After announcing that Augustine's conversion - "a fundamental theme not only for the saint's life but also for our own" - will be the subject of his next and final catechesis on the saint, the Pope indicated that he would dedicate his remarks today to the question of faith and reason, "a vital aspect of St. Augustine's biography".

   St. Augustine's "intellectual and spiritual journey still represents a valid model for the relationship between faith and reason today, a theme that concerns not only believers but everyone who seeks the truth, and that is central to the equilibrium and the destiny of all human beings. These two dimensions - faith and reason - must not be separated or brought into conflict with one another, rather they must be harmonised".

   In this context, Benedict XVI recalled two Augustinian maxims "which express this coherent blend of faith and reason: 'crede ut intelligas' (believe in order to understand), believing opens the way to entering the gates of truth" and, "inseparable from this, 'intellige ut credas' (scrutinise truth in order to encounter God and believe)".

   "This harmony between faith and reason means, above all, that God is not far away from our reason and our lives. He is close to each human being, close to our heart and close to our reason".

   The Pope went on to indicate that "God's presence in man is profound and, at the same time, mysterious, but it can be recognised and discovered in our inmost selves. ... As the saint himself highlights in his famous phrase at the beginning of his 'Confessions', the spiritual autobiography he wrote in praise of God: 'You have formed us for yourself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in you'".

   "Human beings, the saint writes, are 'a great enigma' and 'a great abyss', an enigma and abyss that only Christ can illuminate and save. This is important. Those who are far from God are far from themselves, they are alienated from themselves and can only encounter themselves if they encounter God and thus ... attain their true identity".

   In his "City of God" St. Augustine highlights how "human beings are social by nature and antisocial by corruption, and can only be saved by Christ, the sole mediator between God and humanity, and the universal way to freedom and salvation", said the Holy Father. "As the sole mediator of salvation, Christ is the Head of the Church and mystically united to her".

   Turning his attention back to the Apostolic Letter "Augustinum Hipponensem", Benedict XVI indicated that "John Paul II had wished to ask the saint what he had to say to modern man, and he responds with the words Augustine used in a letter written shortly after his conversion: 'It seems to me that men should be brought back to the hope of discovering the truth', the truth that is Christ Himself".

   "Augustine", the Pope concluded, "encountered God and throughout his life experienced His presence in such a way that this reality - which is above all an encounter with a Person, Jesus - changed his life, as it changes the lives of those people, men and women, who in all ages have had the grace of meeting Him. Let us pray to the Lord that He may give us this grace and thus bring us to discover His peace".

 

OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS

 VATICAN CITY, 30 JAN 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

  - Appointed Bishop John Tong Hon, auxiliary of Hong Kong, China, as coadjutor of the same diocese (area 1,102, population 6,882,600, Catholics 344,166, priests 283, permanent deacons 8, religious 811).

  - Reorganised the Greek-Catholic Slovak Church, making in a "sui iuris" Metropolitan Church and adopting the following provisions:

     - Elevating the eparchy of Presov for Catholics of Byzantine rite (Catholics 137,203, priests 259, permanent deacons 1, religious 111) to the status of metropolitan see and promoting Bishop Jan Babjak S.J. of Presov to the office of metropolitan archbishop. The archbishop-elect was born in Hazin nad Chirochou, Slovakia in 1953, he was ordained a priest in 1978 and consecrated a bishop in 2003.

     - Elevating the apostolic exarchate of Kosice for Catholics of Byzantine rite (Catholics 81,132, priests 161, permanent deacons 3, religious 65) to the status of eparchy, making it a suffragan of the metropolitan church of Presov, and appointing the current exarch, Bishop Milan Chautur C.SS.R., to the office of eparchal bishop.

     - Erecting the eparchy of Bratislava for Catholics of Byzantine rite, making it a suffragan of the metropolitan church of Presov, and appointing Fr. Peter Rusnak, pastor of the Greek-Catholic parish of the Exaltation of the Cross in Bratislava and proto-preist of the proto-presbyterate of the same name, as first bishop of the new eparchy. The bishop-elect was born in Humenne, Slovakia in 1950, and ordained a priest in 1987.

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