February 8, 2008

Vatican Information Service Bulletin

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

SUMMARY:


POPE REPLIES TO QUESTIONS FROM PRIESTS OF HIS DIOCESE

VATICAN CITY, 8 FEB 2008 (VIS) - During a meeting held yesterday morning in the Vatican's Hall of Blessings with priests of the diocese of Rome, the Holy Father answered a number of queries put to him on such matters as youth, evangelisation and the challenge of education.

   Replying to a question about young people, the Holy Father noted the difficulty they can encounter in trying to live a Christian life, in the face of prevailing lifestyles. For this reason, he said, it is important for priests to bear witness to the fact that we really can know God, that we can be His friends and walk with Him. In this context he also highlighted the importance of the presence of God in the field of education and, referring to a Letter he had recently written on this subject to the diocese of Rome, he indicated that professional formation must be accompanied by formation of the heart, by the presence of God. One aspect of cultural formation, he added, is to know the Gospel.

   On the subject of Lent, the Pope indicated that "it should also be a time to abstain from words and images, because we have need of a little silence. We need to create a space free from the constant bombardment of images, ... a silent space for ourselves, without images, in order to open our hearts to the true image, the true Word".

   In replying to a question posed by an Indian priest who has lived in Rome for a number of years, Benedict XVI turned his attention to the theme of evangelisation, recalling the Note on that subject recently approved by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Dialogue, he said, means respecting others. Yet, he explained, this dimension of dialogue does not exclude the announcement of the Gospel, which is a gift of Truth that we cannot keep for ourselves but must also offer to others.

   Mission is not imposition, rather it means offering the gift of God and allowing His goodness to illuminate us. To do otherwise, said the Pope, would be to neglect a duty. We too would be unfaithful if we did not present our own faith while respecting the freedom of others, he added, highlighting the importance of missionary work. Dialogue and mission do not exclude one another, but need one another.

   The Holy Father also dwelt on the importance of the Final Judgement, recognising that in the Church today there is perhaps too little reference to sin, Paradise and Hell. "Also for this reason", he said, "I chose to mention the Last Judgement in my Encyclical 'Spe Salvi'". Anyone who does not recognise the Final Judgement, he added, does not recognise the possibility of failure and the need for redemption. Anyone who does not labour for heaven does not work for the good of mankind on earth. In this context he noted that Nazism and Communism, which were concerned only with this world, ended up by destroying it.

   Finally, the Pope turned to consider the increasingly important role of permanent deacons, of whom there are more than 100 in Rome. We must thank the Fathers of Vatican Council II, he said, for revitalising this ministry which, he concluded, is a link between the world of the laity and the priestly ministry.

 

REVITALISING THE PROFOUND CHRISTIAN ROOTS OF COSTA RICA

 VATICAN CITY, 8 FEB 2008 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received prelates from the Episcopal Conference of Costa Rica, who have just completed their "ad limina" visit. This is the Puerto Rican bishops' first meeting with the current Pontiff.

   "You have before you the task of seeking new ways to announce Christ in situations of rapid and often profound transformation, and of emphasising the missionary character of all pastoral activity", the Pope told the prelates. "In this perspective, the recent Conference of the Episcopate of Latin America and the Caribbean held in Aparecida, Brazil, highlighted how welcoming and absorbing the message of the Gospel is something incumbent upon each individual and each generation, in the various circumstances and stages of their lives".

   "The people of Costa Rica", he said, "must constantly revitalise their ancient and deep Christian roots, their vigorous popular religiosity, and the Marian piety they hold so dear, that these things may bring the fruits of a life worthy of the disciples of Jesus".

   The Pope then went on to talk of Costa Rica's numerous priests "who are the bishop's main collaborators in his pastoral ministry", he said. For this reason they need "clear guidelines and criteria, constant formation, and support in the exercise of their ministry".

   "You well know", he went on, "the risks of lethargic and superficial faith when it has to face such snares as the proselytism of sects and pseudo-religious groups, the multiple promises of easy and immediate wellbeing, ... or the spread of ideologies which, while claiming to exalt human beings, actually debase them. In a situation such as this, it becomes ever more important to announce that 'man's great, true hope which holds firm in spite of all disappointments can only be God - God Who has loved us and Who continues to love us'".

   "Male and female religious, and consecrated persons, have the duty of bearing a particularly active witness to this hope" said the Holy Father. "By their vocation, they are called to be a sign of the 'the mystery of the Kingdom of God already at work in history'".

   The Holy Father indicated that the laity must "also must participate in this mission, following their specific vocation". He also invited the bishops to express their gratitude to the laity "and to give them encouragement and constant attention" because "they are called to carry Christian values into the various areas of society: the world of work, of civil society and of politics".

   "You are right to be concerned at the increasing deterioration of the institution of the family, which has such grave repercussions on the fabric of society and on ecclesial life", Pope Benedict told the bishops. Consequently "it is necessary to promote the good of the family and to defend its rights, ... showing it your pastoral attention, and directly protecting and helping it in its difficulties".

   "Adequate pre-matrimonial catechesis is also of vital importance, as is an everyday presence to bring support into each home", said the Pope. He concluded by encouraging the prelates not to forget "those groups of couples and families who help one another to achieve their exalted and indispensable vocation", nor to overlook "the specific services that alleviate situations resulting from family break-ups, economic instability and domestic violence, of which women in particular are victims".

 

HOLY FATHER TO MAKE APOSTOLIC TRIP TO U.S.A. IN APRIL

 VATICAN CITY, 8 FEB 2008 (VIS) - The Holy See Press Office today released a communique announcing that from 15 to 21 April, the Holy Father will make an apostolic trip to the United States of America and to the headquarters of the United Nations Organisation. The visit will take him to the cities of Washington and New York.

 

AUDIENCES

 VATICAN CITY, 8 FEB 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

  - Three prelates from the Episcopal Conference of Costa Rica, on their "ad limina" visit:

     - Bishop Guillermo Loria Garita of San Isidro de El General.

     - Bishop Jose Francisco Ulloa Rojas of Cartago.

     - Bishop Vittorinio Girardi Stellin M.C.C.I. of Tilaran.

  - Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

 

OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS

 VATICAN CITY, 8 FEB 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

  - Appointed Fr. Sithembele Anton Sipuka of the clergy of the diocese of Queenstown, South Africa, rector of the major seminary of St. John Vianney in Pretoria, as bishop of Umtata (area 22,500, population 1,737,000, Catholics 70,300, priests 37, religious 76), South Africa. The bishop-elect was born in Idutywa, South Africa in 1960 and ordained a priest in 1988. He succeeds Bishop Oswald Georg Hirmer, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

  - Appointed Fr. Pawel Malecha, notary of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, as head of the chancellery of the same tribunal.

  - Appointed as members of the Pontifical Council for Culture: Cardinals Marc Ouellet P.S.S., archbishop of Quebec, Canada, and Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue.

  - Appointed Fr. Anthony Poola of the clergy of the diocese of Cuddapah, India, director of the Christian Foundation for Children and Ageing, as bishop of Kurnool (area 43,000, population 8,547,032, Catholics 78,557, priests 103, religious 398), India. The bishop-elect was born in Poluru, India in 1961 and ordained a priest in 1992.

 

NOTICE

 VATICAN CITY, 8 FEB 2008 (VIS) - As previously advised, no VIS bulletin will be transmitted on Monday, 11 February, the 79th anniversary of the signing of the Lateran Pacts and of the institution of Vatican City State. Service will resume on Tuesday, February 12.

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