May 28, 2008

Vatican Information Service Bulletin

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

SUMMARY:


GREGORY THE GREAT: A MAN OF GOD AT THE SERVICE OF OTHERS

 VATICAN CITY, 28 MAY 2008 (VIS) - In his general audience today, held in St. Peter's Square, the Pope turned his attention to St. Gregory the Great, who was Bishop of Rome from 590 to 604 and whom "tradition deemed worthy of the title of 'Magnus', the Great".

   Gregory, said the Holy Father, "truly was a great Pope and a great Doctor of the Church". He was born in Rome in 540 to a rich and noble family, which stood out "for its attachment to the Christian faith and for its service to the Apostolic See".

   Benedict XVI recalled how Gregory first entered upon an administrative career, becoming prefect of Rome in 572. "However such a life cannot have satisfied him for shortly afterwards he decided to abandon all public office and withdraw to his house on the 'Clivius Scauri', beginning life as a monk". In this way "he acquired a profound knowledge of Holy Scripture and of the Fathers of the Church, which he later used in his own works".

   Gregory's skills and experience caused Pope Pelagius II to appoint him as deacon and send him as ambassador to Constantinople "to help surmount the last vestiges of the Monophysite controversy and, above all, to obtain the emperor's support in the struggle to counteract the pressure of the Lombards". A few years later, "he was called back to Rome by the Pope who made him his secretary". When Pelagius II died, Gregory succeeded him in the See of St. Peter. It was the year 590.

   A large number of documents have been conserved from Gregory's pontificate, said the Pope, "thanks to the 'Registro' which includes around 800 of his letters. ... Among the problems afflicting Italy and Rome at that time, was one of particular weight in both civil and ecclesial life: the question of the Lombards". Gregory established "fraternal relations with them, with a view to a future peace founded on mutual respect and the serene coexistence of Italians, Greeks and Lombards".

   Negotiations with the Lombard king, Agilulf "led to a truce which lasted for nearly three years (598-601), after which it proved possible to stipulate a more stable armistice in 603", said the Holy Father. "This positive result was possible also thanks to the contacts which the Pope had, in the meantime, established with Queen Theodelinda, a Bavarian and a Catholic. ... Little by little Theodelinda managed to lead the king to Catholicism, thus preparing the way for peace". The "beautiful" story of this queen, said the Pope, "demonstrates the importance of women in the history of the Church".

   "Pope Gregory was also active in the field of social work. With the income of the considerable patrimony which the See of Rome possessed in Italy, especially in Sicily, he bought and distributed grain, helped those in need, assisted poverty-stricken priests, monks and nuns, paid the ransom of citizens who had fallen prisoner to the Lombards, and bought armistices and truces".

   "Gregory", the Pope explained, "undertook these intense activities despite poor health which often forced him to keep his bed for days on end. ... Notwithstanding the difficult conditions in which he had to work, he managed, thanks to the holiness of his life and his abundant humanity, to conquer the trust of the faithful, achieving what, for his own time and for the future, were truly grand results".

   "He was a man immersed in God. The desire for God was perpetually alive in the depths of his soul and precisely for this reason he always remained close to others, to the needs of the people of his time. At a time of disaster - a desperate time - he managed to create peace and bring hope. This man of God shows us", Benedict XVI concluded, "where the true sources of peace are, where true hope comes from, and thus he is also a guide for us today".

 

SERVICE OF AUTHORITY AND OBEDIENCE

 VATICAN CITY, 28 MAY 2008 (VIS) - The Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life today published an Instruction entitled: "The Service of Authority and Obedience", presented this morning at an assembly of male and female superiors general being held at the Salesianum in Rome.

   "In the first place, the text examines the theme of religious obedience", says a communique released by the congregation, "the root of which is seen in that search for God and for His will which is particular to believers. ... Christian and religious obedience does not, then, appear simply as the implementation of ecclesiastical or religious laws and rulings, but as the momentum of a journey in search of God which involves listening to His Word and becoming aware of His design of love - the fundamental experience of Christ Who, out of love, was obedient unto His death on the cross.

   "Authority in religious life", the communique adds, "must be understood in this light, in other words, as a way to help the community (or institute) to seek and achieve the will of God. Obedience, then, is not justified on the basis of religious authority, because everyone in a religious community (first and foremost the authorities themselves) are called to obedience, Authority places itself at the service on the community so that God's will may be sought and achieved together".

   "The question of religious authority must be placed in the context of the great shared commitment to obedience, ... the theme that opens and closes this document", says the communique. The Instruction also considers "the delicate matter of 'difficult obedience', that in which what is requested of the religious is particularly hard to carry out, or in which the subject feels he sees 'things which are better and more useful for his soul than those which the superior orders him to do'. ... Drawing from a still-relevant text of Paul VI, the document also dwells upon the possibility of 'objections of conscience' in the subject who must obey".

   "The Instruction seeks to recall, above all, that obedience in religious life can give rise to difficult moments, to situations of suffering in which it is necessary to refer back to the Obedient One par excellence, Christ. ... It must, moreover, be borne in mind that authority too can be 'difficult', experiencing moments of discouragement and fatigue which can lead to resignation or inattention in exercising an appropriate guidance ... of the community".

   "The reference to conscience helps people to consider obedience not just as a passive and irresponsible execution of orders, but as a conscious shouldering of commitments ... which are a real actuation of the will of God".

   "If the document contains a serene and faith-motivated exhortation to obedience, it also offers a vast and coherent set of guidelines for the exercise of authority", such as "inviting people to listen, favouring dialogue, sharing, co-responsibility, ... and the merciful treatment of the people" entrusted to authority.

   The Instruction, the communique concludes, "gives particular resonance to the religious community as a place in which, under the guidance of the superior, a form of 'community discernment' must be exercised in decision-making. This practice, for the implementation of which important suggestions are offered, does not however eliminate the role of authority ... And it must not be forgotten that, by ancient tradition, the highest authority within religious institutes resides in the general chapter (or similar institution), which is a collegial body".

 

OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS

 VATICAN CITY, 28 MAY 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed:

  - Fr. Francisco de Assis Dantas de Lucena, of the clergy of the diocese of Caico, Brazil, pastor of the parish of "Sao Francisco de Assis", as bishop of Gurarabira (area 4,553, population 420,000, Catholics 357,000, priests 38, permanent deacons 5, religious 69), Brazil. The bishop-elect was born in Jardim do Serido, Brazil in 1963 and ordained a priest in 1991.

  - Fr. Irineu Gassen O.F.M., pastor of the parish of "Sao Joao Batista" in the diocese of Caxias do Sul, Brazil, as bishop of Vacaria (area 15,932, population 206,900, Catholics 187,600, priests 52, permanent deacons 1, religious 223), Brazil. The bishop-elect was born in Santa Cruz do Sul, Brazil in 1942 and ordained a priest in 1968.

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