March 10, 2008

Vatican Information Service Bulletin

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



VATICAN CITY, 8 MAR 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received participants in the plenary session of the Pontifical Council for Culture who have been meeting to study the question of "the Church and the challenge of secularisation".

  "Today more than ever", the Holy Father told them, "reciprocal openness between cultures is an important field for dialogue between men and women committed to seeking authentic humanism, over and above the differences that separate them".

  Secularisation, he said, "invades all aspects of daily life and causes the development of a mentality in which God is effectively absent, entirely or in part, from human life and conscience". This "is not just an external threat to believers, but has for some time been evident in the bosom of the Church herself".

  Benedict XVI expressed the view that believers are being conditioned by a "culture of images which imposes contradictory models and impulses, with the effective negation of God". Hence people come to believe "there is no longer any need for God, to think of Him or to return to Him", said the Pope. "Furthermore, the predominant hedonistic and consumer mentality favours, in the faithful as in pastors, a drift towards superficiality and selfishness which damages ecclesial life".

  The Holy Father warned of "the risk of falling into spiritual atrophy and emptiness of heart", and highlighted the need to react to such a situation by re-appropriating "the exalted values of existence which give meaning to life and can satisfy the disquiet of the human heart in its search for happiness". These include "the dignity and freedom of the person, the equality of all mankind, and the sense of life and death and of what awaits us at the end of earthly existence".

  "The phrase 'etsi Deus non daretur' [as if there were no God] is becoming a way of life which has its roots in a kind of 'arrogance' of reason", he said. Reason "was actually created and loved by God" but is now "held to be sufficient unto itself and closes itself off from contemplating and seeking a Truth that lies beyond it".

  Benedict XVI indicated that the Pontifical Council for Culture must remain committed to "fruitful dialogue between science and faith", respecting the ambit and methodology of each of them, in order "to serve man and humanity, favouring the integral development and growth of each and of all.

  "Above all", he added in conclusion, "I exhort pastors of the flock of God to a tireless and generous mission to counteract - in the field of dialogue and meeting between cultures, of announcement and testimony of the Gospel - the worrying phenomenon of secularisation which weakens man and hinders his innate longing for the entire Truth".



VATICAN CITY, 8 MAR 2008 (VIS) - The Pope has sent a telegram of condolence to Archbishop Gregory Ebo Kpiebaya of Tamale, Ghana, for the death of Cardinal Peter Poreku Dery, archbishop emeritus of the same archdiocese. He also sent a telegram to the late cardinal's brother. Cardinal Dery died on 6 March at the age of 89.

  "This devoted pastor", writes the Pope, "has left behind a shining legacy of prayer, humble obedience to the will of God and love of neighbour. He gave himself with generous heart to his priestly and episcopal ministry at the service of the faithful of the diocese of Wa and the archdiocese of Tamale for many years, preaching the Gospel in difficult conditions with the love of a father, great zeal and simplicity of heart, constantly attentive to the needs of the poor".



VATICAN CITY, 8 MAR 2008 (VIS) - Made public today was a statement given by Msgr. Renato Volante, Holy See permanent observer to the United Nations Organisation for Food and Agriculture (FAO), during the 29th FAO Regional Conference for the Near East held in Cairo, Egypt from 1 to 5 March.

  In his English-language address, which was entitled "Promoting food security with particular attention for the situation of smallholders", Msgr. Volante indicated that the Holy See "pays a particular attention to those initiatives that are carried out at international level trying to solve situations of hunger, food deficiencies, malnutrition, especially when in some areas of the earth an increase of needs occur".

  "The situation of food security in the Near East is not without preoccupation even in presence of a general development also on account of food availability destined to people nutrition. Water shortage, besides conditioning the agricultural production, involves the standards of living, with an evident opposition between the real potentialities and the will to take those measures that grant not only nutritional standard and food consumptions but, in a broad sense, social conditions, people health, especially in those areas which are naturally risking desertification.

  "This could mean to give better attention to the small farmers, often neglected by the institutions and by the co-operation activities. In the same way, some environmental conditions, human-induced factors and animal disease compel nomadic populations to eradicate themselves from their habitat thus forcing them to food production and livelihoods different from their traditions".

  "That of the Holy See delegation is an invitation to focus the results obtained during this conference in a perspective that involves the human being as a whole, recalling those fundamental values of history, different cultures, religious experiences and social life in the Near East Region. These aspects easily express concepts of justice and solidarity to be put into practice in politics, rules and actions to fight poverty in all its material and spiritual dimensions".



VATICAN CITY, 8 MAR 2008 (VIS) - At midday today, the Holy See Press Office released the following communique:

  "The commission established by Pope Benedict XVI to study the most important questions concerning the life of the Church in China will meet in the Vatican from 10 to 12 March. The commission is composed of superiors of dicasteries of the Roman Curia who have responsibilities in this field, and of certain members of the Chinese episcopate and religious congregations.

  "This first meeting will examine the reactions to the Letter which the Holy Father sent to Chinese Catholics on 27 May 2007. The rich contents of the pontifical document will be analysed in-depth and, in the light thereof, the principal aspects of the life of the Church in China will be considered".



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

 - As members of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches: Cardinals Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops; Ivan Dias, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples; and William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

 - Cardinal Godfried Danneels, archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels, Belgium, as his special envoy to celebrations marking the 1350th anniversary of the birth of St. Willibrord, due to be held in Luxembourg from 11 to 13 May.



VATICAN CITY, 9 MAR 2008 (VIS) - This morning the Pope celebrated the Eucharist in the Roman church of San Lorenzo in Piscibus, which is part of the San Lorenzo International Youth Centre located very near St. Peter's Square. The centre is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.

  Mass was attended by around 200 young people from various continents who collaborate in the activities of the youth centre.

  The Holy Father read out only the beginning of his prepared homily, then continued with improvised remarks on the meaning of life and death in the light of the Gospel reading of this fifth Sunday of Lent, on the raising of Lazarus.

  "Human beings, though part of this cosmos, transcend it", he said. "Of course man always remains man in all his dignity, even if in a coma or in the embryonic state, yet if he lives only biologically he does not realise and develop all the potential of his being. Man is called to open himself to new dimensions".

  The first dimension, said the Pope, is that of knowledge. In this context he noted how, unlike the animals, "man wishes to know everything, all of reality. ... He thirsts for knowledge of the infinite, he wishes to arrive at the font of life and to drink therefrom, to find life itself".

  This, he continued, leads to the second dimension: "Man is not just a being who knows, he also lives in relationships of friendship and of love. Beyond the dimension of knowledge of truth and of being, there also exists, inseparable from it, the dimension of relationships, of love. And it is here that man comes close to the source of life from which he wishes to drink in order to have life in abundance, to have life itself".

  Science, and medicine in particular, he went on, "are a great struggle for life", yet even if medicine were to find "the prescription against death, the prescription of immortality" it would still "be confined within this biosphere.

  "It is easy to imagine what would happen if man's biological life were endless, if he were immortal", the Holy Father added. "We would find ourselves in an aged world, a world full of old people, a world that would leave no space for the young, for the renewal of life. Thus we understand that this cannot be the kind of immortality to which we aspire. ... Drinking from the font of life is to enter into communion with this infinite love which is the source of life".

  After recalling how the Fathers of the Church called the Eucharist "medicine of immortality", Benedict XVI explained that in this Sacrament "we enter into communion with the body [of Christ] which is animated by immortal life and thus we enter, now and always, into the space of life itself".



VATICAN CITY, 9 MAR 2008 (VIS) - At midday today, the Holy Father appeared at the window of his study to pray the Angelus with faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square below.

  Commenting on today's Gospel reading of the raising of Lazarus, the Pope affirmed that "this was the last great 'sign' accomplished by Jesus, after which the chief priests summoned the Sanhedrin and planned to kill Him; and they also decided to kill Lazarus, who was the living proof of the divinity of Jesus, Lord of life and death".

  In this Gospel passage, Christ describes Lazarus as having "fallen asleep" thus using the metaphor of sleep to express "God's point of view on physical death: ... a sleep from which it is possible to awake. Jesus showed an absolute power over such death" said Benedict XVI. Yet "this lordship over death did not prevent Jesus feeling sincere compassion for the pain of separation" for, seeing Lazarus' sisters and friends weeping, He too 'was greatly disturbed' and 'began to weep'".

  The Holy Father continued: "Christ's heart is divine-human. In Him God and man came together perfectly, without separation and without confusion. He is the image, indeed the incarnation, of God Who is love, mercy, paternal and maternal tenderness, of God Who is Life".

  Jesus asks Lazarus' sister Marta is she believes that He is the resurrection and the life, "a question that Jesus addresses to each one of us - a question that is certainly beyond us, that is beyond our capacity to understand - asking us to entrust ourselves to Him as He entrusted Himself to the Father".

  Marta's answer is "exemplary" said the Pope: "'I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world'. ... We too believe despite out doubts", he concluded, "we believe in You because You have words of eternal life; we wish to believe in You Who give us a dependable hope of life after life, of authentic and full life in Your Kingdom of light and peace".



VATICAN CITY, 9 MAR 2008 (VIS) - After praying the Angelus today, the Pope again launched an appeal for peace in the Middle East.

  "Over the last few days, violence and horror have once again bloodied the Holy Land, nourishing the spiral of destruction and death which seems to have no end. While inviting you to ask the Almighty Lord insistently for the gift of peace in that region, I wish to entrust the many innocent victims to His mercy, and to express my solidarity with the families and the injured.

  "I also encourage the Israeli and Palestinian authorities in their intention to continue building, through negotiation, a peaceful and just future for their peoples. And I ask everyone, in God's name, to abandon the tortuous paths of hatred and revenge, and responsibly to follow the ways of dialogue and trust.

  "This is also my hope for Iraq", he added, "while our uneasiness persists over the fate of Archbishop Rahho, and of so many Iraqis who continue to be subject to blind and meaningless violence which is certainly contrary to the wishes of God".

  Finally, the Pope recalled that in St. Peter's Basilica at 5.30 p.m. on Thursday 13 March he will preside at a penitential liturgy for young people of the diocese of Rome in preparation for 23rd World Youth Day, which will be held in Sydney, Australia in July. "Dear young people", said Benedict XVI, "I invite you all to this appointment with the mercy of God".



VATICAN CITY, 10 MAR 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.

 - Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski, apostolic nuncio to the Dominican Republic and apostolic delegate to Puerto Rico.

 - Frere Alois, prior of the community of Taize.

 - Archbishop Louis Kebreau S.D.B. of Cap-Haiten, Haiti on his "ad limina" visit, accompanied by Archbishop emeritus Hubert Constant O.M.I.

 - Archbishop Robert Zollitsch of Freiburg in Breisgau, Germany, president of the German Episcopal Conference.

  On Saturday 8 March he received in separate audiences:

 - Archbishop Ivo Scapolo, apostolic nuncio to Rwanda.

 - Five prelates from the Episcopal Conference of Guatemala, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop Mario Alberto Molina Palma O.A.R. of Quiche.

    - Bishop Gonzalo de Villa y Vasquez S.J. of Solola-Chimaltenango.

    - Bishop Pablo Vizcaino Prado of Suchitequepez-Retalhuleu.

    - Bishop Gabriel Penate Rodriguez, apostolic vicar of Izabal.

    - Fr. Octavio Sassu O.P., pro-vicar of the apostolic vicariate of El Peten.

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