February 1, 2008

Vatican Information Service Bulletin

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

SUMMARY:


GREEK-CATHOLIC UKRAINIANS, FIRST AD LIMINA VISIT IN 70 YEARS

VATICAN CITY, 1 FEB 2008 (VIS) - Today in the Vatican Benedict XVI received bishops of the Greek-Catholic Church of Ukraine, at the end of their first "ad limina" visit in 70 years.

   The Pope expressed his joy at having the opportunity to welcome the bishops, who had thus far been prevented by "serious and objective reasons" from making this joint pilgrimage to the Holy See. "Now that your Churches have rediscovered their complete freedom", he said, "you are here to represent your communities, reborn and vibrant in the faith, which have never ceased to feel their full communion with Peter's Successor. You are welcome, dear brothers, in this house in which intense and incessant prayers have always been said for the beloved Greek-Catholic Church of Ukraine".

   Referring to the bishops' reports on the situation in their country, the Holy Father indicated how he had noted with interest their commitment "to constantly promote, consolidate and verify unity and collaboration within your communities, so as to be able to meet the challenges that face you as pastors and that are the focus of your concerns and your pastoral programmes".

   Benedict XVI praised the prelates' "generous efforts and tireless testimony" in their dealings "with your people and the Church", reminding them that in their missionary and pastoral duties "priests are of indispensable assistance". Hence, the Pope invited the bishops to ensure that priests, "in the various initiatives of 'aggiornamento', do not follow the novelties of the world but present society with the responses that only Christ can give to the hopes for justice and peace in the human heart".

   The Holy Father also stressed the importance of making increased efforts to provide priests with courses of spiritual exercises, formation and theological and pastoral renewal, "if possible also in collaboration with the Latin episcopate, each respecting its own traditions. It cannot be denied that such collaboration between the two rites would lead to greater harmony of heart among those who serve the one Church.

   "I am certain that, with such an inward attitude, any misunderstandings will be more easily resolved, in the awareness that both rites belong to the one Catholic community and that both have full and equal citizenship in the one Ukrainian people", he added. In this context, the Pope recommended that the Greek-rite prelates "meet regularly, for example one a year, with the Latin bishops".

   The Holy Father then went on to consider the difficulties faced by Ukrainian bishops "as regards the responsible obedience of male and female religious, and their co-operation in the needs of the Church. With the magnanimity of pastors and the patience of fathers, exhort these brothers and sisters tirelessly to defend the 'non-secular' nature of their vocation" and "faithfully to observe their vows ... so they can provide the Church with the particular testimony that is asked of them".

   On the subject of ecumenism, the Pope recognised that "real and objective obstacles persist. However", he said, "it is important not to lose heart in the face of the difficulties, but to continue along the journey that began with prayer and patient charity". He also noted how, "for centuries in Ukraine, Orthodox and Catholics have sought to create a daily, humble and serene dialogue that embraces many aspects of life".

   "Before anything else, what must be promoted is the ecumenism of love" which, "accompanied by coherent actions, creates trust and causes hearts and eyes to open. By its nature, charity promotes and illuminates the dialogue of truth".

   Benedict XVI concluded his talk by giving thanks to God "for the rebirth of Your Church after the dramatic period of persecution. On this occasion I feel the need to assure you (bishops) that the Pope carries you all in his heart, he accompanies you affectionately and supports you in your difficult mission".

 

BENEDICT XVI'S PRAYER INTENTIONS FOR FEBRUARY

 VATICAN CITY, 1 FEB 2008 (VIS) - Pope Benedict's general prayer intention for February is: "That the mentally handicapped may not be marginalised, but respected and lovingly helped to live in a way worthy of their physical and social condition".

   His mission intention is: "That the institutes of consecrated life, which are so flourishing in mission countries, may rediscover the missionary dimension and, faithful to the radical choice of evangelical counsels, be generous in bearing witness to and announcing Christ to the ends of the earth"

 

CONGRESS FOR TWENTIETH ANNIVERSARY "MULIERIS DIGNITATEM"

 VATICAN CITY, 1 FEB 2008 (VIS) - For the occasion of the twentieth anniversary of John Paul II's Apostolic Letter on the dignity and vocation of women "Mulieris dignitatem", the Pontifical Council for the Laity has organised an international congress, to be held in Rome from 7 to 9 February, on the theme: "Woman and man, the 'humanum' in its entirety".

   According to a communique released by the council, the congress will be attended by more than 260 people from 49 countries on five continents, including delegations from 40 episcopal conferences, representatives from 28 movements and new communities, 16 Catholic women's associations, nine female religious institutes and leading women in various fields of culture.

   Over its three days the congress will examine such questions as: maternity, paternity and the importance of these two dimensions within the family and in the various areas of social life; the balance between family life and work; and the need for a greater presence of women in public life and in the assumption of ecclesial and civil responsibilities.

   The main objectives of the congress are to review the progress made over the past 20 years in the field of the advancement of women and the recognition of their dignity; to open up a reflection in the light of revelation on the new cultural paradigms and on the difficulties faced by Catholic women in living according to their identity and in collaborating in fruitful reciprocity with men in building up the Church and society; to remind women of the beauty of the vocation to holiness, encouraging them to respond to it with increasing awareness and, as players in the mission of the Church, to place at the service of the apostolate, family, workplace and culture, all the richness of the feminine "genius".

 

AUDIENCES

 VATICAN CITY, 1 FEB 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

  - Cardinal Ivan Dias, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples.

  - Three prelates of the Greek-Catholic Church of Ukraine, on their "ad limina" visit:

     - Bishop Volodymyr Viytyshyn of Ivano-Frankivsk of the Ukrainians.

     - Bishop Stepan Meniok C.SS.R., archiepiscopal exarch of Donetsk-Kharkiv.

     - Vasyl Ivasyuk, archiepiscopal exarch of Odessa-Krym.

 

OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS

 VATICAN CITY, 1 FEB 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

  - Appointed Archbishop Laurent Ulrich, archbishop of Chambery and bishop of Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne et Tarentaise, France, as archbishop-bishop of Lille (area 2,288, population 1,560,000, Catholics 1,060,000, priests 601, permanent deacons 62, religious 965), France. He succeeds Bishop Gerard Defois, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

  - Fr. Fernando Vergez Alzaga L.C., bureau chief in the Ordinary Section of the Administration of the Apostolic Patrimony of the Holy See, as director of the Administration of Telecommunications of Vatican City State.

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