May 16, 2008

Vatican Information Service Bulletin

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

SUMMARY:


THAI BISHOPS: EDUCATION AND INTER-RELIGIOUS CO-OPERATION

 VATICAN CITY, 16 MAY 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received prelates from the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Thailand, who have just completed their "ad limina" visit.

   Speaking to them in English, the Pope pointed out that the mission of their country's small Catholic community "is undertaken within a context of relationships, most especially with Buddhists. In fact, you have readily expressed to me your great respect for the Buddhist monasteries and the esteem you have for the contribution they make to the social and cultural life of the Thai people.

   "The coexistence of different religious communities today unfolds against the backdrop of globalisation", he added, noting how "on the one hand there is the growing multitude of economic and cultural bonds which usually enhance a sense of global solidarity and shared responsibility for the well-being of humanity, on the other there are disturbing signs of a fragmentation and a certain individualism, ... pushing the transcendent and the sense of the sacred to the margins and eclipsing the very source of harmony and unity within the universe.

   "The negative aspects of this cultural phenomenon, which cause dismay to yourselves and other religious leaders in your country, ... point to the importance of inter-religious co-operation", In this context, the Pope called on the prelates to promote, "in concordance with Buddhists, ... mutual understanding concerning the transmission of traditions to succeeding generations, the articulation of ethical values discernible to reason, reverence for the transcendent, prayer and contemplation".

   "The outpouring of the Spirit is both a gift and a task, ... the presentation of Christ and His love to the world", said Pope Benedict, indicating that, "in Thailand, that gift is encountered particularly through the Church's medical clinics and social works as well as through her schools".

   "Catholic schools and colleges make a remarkable contribution to the intellectual formation of numerous young Thais. They should also make an outstanding contribution to the spiritual and moral education of the young," Benedict XVI told the bishops. He also appealed "to the many men and women religious who diligently serve in Catholic institutions of learning in your dioceses. Theirs should not primarily be a role of administration but of mission. ... It is of the utmost importance, therefore, that religious remain close to the students and their families, most especially through their classroom teaching of the catechism for Catholics and others interested, and through moral formation and care for the spiritual needs of all in the school community". He also called on religious congregations to ensure that schools "become increasingly accessible to the poor who so often long for the faithful embrace of Christ".

   The Holy Father pointed out that the task of spreading the Word of God cannot be left to catechists alone. "It is the ministry of your priests", he told the prelates, "to 'announce the divine word to all' and to 'labour in preaching and teaching'".

   The Pope expressed his appreciation "for the efforts of the entire Catholic community of Thailand to uphold the dignity of every human life, especially the most vulnerable. Of particular concern to you is the scourge of the trafficking of women and children, and prostitution. Undoubtedly poverty is a factor underlying these phenomena, and in this regard I know much is being achieved through the Church's development programmes.

   "But there is a further aspect which must be acknowledged and collectively addressed if this abhorrent human exploitation is to be effectively confronted. I am speaking", the Holy Father concluded, "of the trivialisation of sexuality in the media and entertainment industries which fuels a decline in moral values and leads to the degradation of women, the weakening of fidelity in marriage and even the abuse of children".

 

A COMMON COMMITMENT TO SUPPORT FAMILIES

 VATICAN CITY, 16 MAY 2008 (VIS) - Today in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received representatives from the Forum of Family Associations and from the European Federation of Catholic Family Associations, who are in Rome to participate in a conference entitled: "Alliance for the Family in Europe, associations in the leading role".

   In his comments, the Pope recalled how the conference aims "to compare the experiences of various types of family association, and has the objective of raising the awareness of political leaders and public opinion on the central and irreplaceable role that the family plays in our society".

   The Holy Father recalled the fact that this year marks the 40th anniversary of Paul VI's Encyclical "Humanae vitae", and the 25th anniversary of the promulgation of the "Charter of the Rights of the Family", presented by the Holy See in 1983.

   "The Charter of the Rights of the Family is principally addressed to political leaders", said the Pope, and it "offers those invested with responsibility for the common good a model and a point of reference upon which to base appropriate political legislation for the family. At the same time, it is addressed to all families, encouraging them to come together in the defence and promotion of their rights".

   Benedict XVI then quoted John Paul II, "the Pope of the family", who used to say that "the future of humanity passes by way of the family" and he added: "Biblical revelation is above all an expression of a story of love, a story of alliance with God and with mankind. This is why the story of love and union between a man and a woman in the alliance of marriage was taken up by God as a symbol of the history of salvation".

   Turning to consider the difficulties facing families in the modern world, the Pope said: "From so many families, in a worryingly precarious state, we hear a cry for help, often an unconscious one, which clamours for a response from civil authorities, from ecclesial communities and from the various educational agencies. Accordingly, there is an increasingly urgent need for a common commitment to support families by every means available, from the social and economic point of view".

   Among the proposals to emerge from the conference, the Holy Father praised that of "the laudable commitment to mobilise citizens in support of the initiative for 'family-friendly fiscal policy'", which aims to urge "governments to promote family-related policies that give parents a real possibility of having children and bringing them up in the family".

   "For believers, the family (cell of communion at the very foundations of society) is like a 'small domestic church' called to reveal God's love to the world. ... Help families to be a visible sign of this truth, to defend the values which are written in human nature itself and which are therefore common to all humanity: life, the family and education. These are not principles deriving from a [particular] confession of faith but from the application of a justice respectful of the rights of each human being. This", he concluded, "is your mission, dear Christian families".

 

PRAYER OF THE POPE TO OUR LADY OF SHESHAN

 VATICAN CITY, 16 MAY 2008 (VIS) - Benedict XVI has composed a prayer to Our Lady of Sheshan to mark the Day of Prayer for the Church in China, which is due to be celebrated on 24 May.

   In a Letter written to the faithful of the Catholic Church in China in May 2007, the Holy Father expressed the hope that 24 May, liturgical memorial of Our Lady Help of Christians who is venerated with such devotion at the Marian shrine of Sheshan in Shanghai, would become a day of prayer for the Church in China.

  The full text of the English-language version of the Holy Father's prayer is given below:

  "Virgin Most Holy, Mother of the Incarnate Word and our Mother,

venerated in the Shrine of Sheshan under the title 'Help of Christians',

the entire Church in China looks to you with devout affection.

We come before you today to implore your protection.

Look upon the People of God and, with a mother's care, guide them

along the paths of truth and love, so that they may always be

a leaven of harmonious coexistence among all citizens.

 

  "When you obediently said 'yes' in the house of Nazareth,

you allowed God's eternal Son to take flesh in your virginal womb

and thus to begin in history the work of our redemption.

You willingly and generously co-operated in that work,

allowing the sword of pain to pierce your soul,

until the supreme hour of the Cross, when you kept watch on Calvary,

standing beside your Son, Who died that we might live.

 

  "From that moment, you became, in a new way,

the Mother of all those who receive your Son Jesus in faith

and choose to follow in His footsteps by taking up His Cross.

Mother of hope, in the darkness of Holy Saturday you journeyed

with unfailing trust towards the dawn of Easter.

Grant that your children may discern at all times,

even those that are darkest, the signs of God's loving presence.

 

  "Our Lady of Sheshan, sustain all those in China,

who, amid their daily trails, continue to believe, to hope, to love.

May they never be afraid to speak of Jesus to the world,

and of the world to Jesus.

In the statue overlooking the Shrine you lift your Son on high,

offering him to the world with open arms in a gesture of love.

Help Catholics always to be credible witnesses to this love,

ever clinging to the rock of Peter on which the Church is built.

Mother of China and all Asia, pray for us, now and for ever. Amen!"

 

AUDIENCES

 VATICAN CITY, 16 MAY 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

  - Four prelates from the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Thailand, on their "ad limina" visit:

     - Archbishop Louis Chamniern Santisukniran of Thare and Nonseng.

     - Bishop Joseph Chusak Sirisut of Nakhon Ratchasima.

     - Bishop Philip Banchong Chaiyara C.SS.R. of Ubon Ratchathani, accompanied by Bishop emeritus of Michael Bunluen Mansap.

   This evening he is scheduled to receive in separate audiences:

  - Archbishop Mario Giordana, apostolic nuncio to Slovakia.

 - Two prelates from the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Thailand, on their "ad limina" visit:

     - Bishop George Yod Phimphisan C.SS.R. of Udon Thani.

     - Msgr. Joseph Haelom Wutthilert, vicar general of Chiang Mai.

 

OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS

 VATICAN CITY, 16 MAY 2008 (VIS) - Yesterday it was made public that the Holy Father accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Basse-Terre and Pointe-a-Pitre, Guadeloupe, presented by Bishop Ernest Mesmin Lucien Cabo, upon having reached the age limit.

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