May 21, 2008

Vatican Information Service Bulletin

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

SUMMARY:


ROMANUS THE MELODIST: FAITH CREATES BEAUTY

 VATICAN CITY, 21 MAY 2008 (VIS) - During this morning's general audience, Benedict XVI dedicated his catechesis to Romanus the Melodist, a Syrian "theologian, poet, composer and permanent deacon who resided in a monastery on the outskirts of Constantinople in the sixth century". Before delivering his catechesis in the Paul VI Hall, the Holy Father visited the Vatican Basilica to greet faithful gathered there.

   Romanus, the Pope explained, belongs to "that sizeable group of theologians who transformed theology into poetry" and whose numbers include "St. Ephrem the Syrian, ... St. Ambrose, ... St. Thomas Aquinas, ... and St. John of the Cross. Faith is love and so creates poetry and music. Faith is joy and so creates beauty".

   The Melodist "has gone down in history as one of the most characteristic authors of liturgical hymns" at a time in which "homilies were practically the only occasion for the faithful to receive catechistic guidance". His was "a lively and original way of presenting the catechesis. ... Through his compositions we get an idea of the creativity ... the theology, the aesthetics and the sacred hymns of that time".

   In his musical homilies, known as "kontakia", Romanus "did not use the solemn Byzantine Greek of the court, but a simple Greek closer to the language of the people. ... The power of conviction of his preaching was founded on the great coherence between his words and his life".

   Benedict XVI then went on to examine some of the focal points of the poet-theologian's teaching: "the unity of God's actions in history, ... the unity between creation and the history of salvation, the unity between the Old and New Testaments".

   Another aspect the Pope highlighted was Romanus' "doctrine on the Holy Spirit". On the subject of the Pentecost, he said, the poet "underlined the continuity that exists between the ascended Christ and His Apostles, in other words the Church, and he exalted missionary activity in the world". In the Christological field, "he did not enter into the conceptual problem ... which so lacerated the unity not only of theologians but also of the Church". Instead, he preached "the Christology of the great Councils, remaining close to popular piety. ... The concepts of the Councils arose from popular piety, from the knowledge of the Christian heart. Hence he underlined the fact that Christ is true God and true man, ... a single person".

   Romanus' moral teachings, the Holy Father observed, "were particularly concerned with the Final Judgement. He led us to that moment of truth of our lives - the meeting with the righteous Judge - and so advised conversion through penance, fasting and charity, which for him was the most important of all the virtues".

   "Vibrant humanity, ardent faith and profound humility impregnate the music of Romanus the Melodist", said Pope Benedict. "This great poet and composer reminds us of all the wealth of Christian culture which was born of faith, born of hearts that encountered Christ. From this contact with the Truth that is love ... all great Christian culture came into being".

   "If faith remains alive, this cultural heritage does not die, ... it remains. Icons also speak today to hearts that believe. They are not just things of the past. Cathedrals are not medieval monuments, but places where we can meet God and one another. Great music, Gregorian chants, Bach, Mozart, are not things of the past. They exist with the vitality of our liturgy and our faith. If faith is alive, Christian culture does not become a thing of the past".

   "And if faith remains alive", the Holy Father concluded, "we too can respond to the constantly-repeated imperative: ... 'Sing to the Lord a new song!' Creativity, innovation, new song, new culture and the presence of all cultural heritage", he concluded, "are not things that exclude one another but a single reality. They are the presence of God's beauty, the joy of being His children".

 

INVESTING IN SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE PROGRAMMES

 VATICAN CITY, 21 MAY 2008 (VIS) - On 16 May, Archbishop Celestino Migliore, Holy See permanent observer to the United Nations in New York, pronounced a discourse during the 16th session of the Commission on Sustainable Development of the U.N. Economic and Social Council.

   "Investing in long-term and sustainable agriculture programmes at the local and international levels remains central to the development prospects of so many", he said in his English-language remarks. "This investment must be done in a way that addresses the prices of food commodities as well as the distribution and production of food around the world, in particular in Africa".

   Noting the fact that "seventy percent of the world's poor live in the same rural areas where widespread chronic malnourishment continues to persist" archbishop Migliore explained that this "illustrates that in addressing sustainable development we must continue to focus not merely upon those who consume food commodities but also upon those who produce it.

   "Greater investment in small-holder farmers which enables them to increase production in a sustainable manner would provide an important element to addressing the continued presence of chronic hunger and malnourishment in certain regions", he concluded.

 

OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS

 VATICAN CITY, 21 MAY 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed:

  - Fr. Jorge Alves Bezerra S.S.S., vice-provincial and master of novices in the diocese of Tres Lagoas, Brazil, as bishop of Jardim (area 69,972, population 370,000, Catholics 254,000, priests 17, permanent deacons 1, religious 37), Brazil. The bishop-elect was born in Sao Joao de Meriti, Brazil in 1955 and ordained a priest in 1985.

  - Fr. Philip Dickmans of the clergy of the diocese of Hasselt, Belgium, fidei donum priest in the archdiocese of Palmas, Brazil, as bishop of Miracema do Tocantins (area 45,985, population 193,194, Catholics 140,350, priests 16, religious 26), Brazil. The bishop-elect was born in Herk-de-Stad, Belgium in 1963 and ordained a priest in 1990.

  - Fr. Theirry Scherrer of the clergy of the archdiocese of Aix, France, pastor of the Saint-Sauveur cathedral in Aix-en-Provence, as bishop of Laval (area 5,175, population 285,338, Catholics 270,000, priests 195, permanent deacons 12, religious 564), France. The bishop-elect was born in Versailles, France in 1959 and ordained a priest in 1988.

  - Fr. Eric de Moulins-Beaufort of the clergy of the archdiocese of Paris, France, private secretary to the cardinal archbishop of Paris and professor at the "Faculte Notre-Dame"; and Fr. Renauld de Dinechin, also of the clergy of Paris, pastor of the "Bl. Frederic Ozanam" parish in Cergy, as auxiliaries of Paris (area 105, population 2,144,700, Catholics 1,286,820, priests 1,206, permanent deacons 91, religious 3,195). Bishop-elect Moulins-Beaufort was born in Landau, Germany in 1962 and ordained a priest in 1991. Bishop-elect Dinechin was born in Lille, France in 1958 and ordained a priest in 1988.

 

NOTICE

 VATICAN CITY, 21 MAY 2008 (VIS) - As previously advised, tomorrow, Solemnity of Corpus Christi and a holiday in the Vatican, no VIS bulletin will be transmitted. Service will resume on Friday 23 May.

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