May 29, 2008

Vatican Information Service Bulletin

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

SUMMARY:


LETTERS OF CREDENCE OF NINE NEW AMBASSADORS

VATICAN CITY, 29 MAY 2008 (VIS) - Today in the Vatican, the Holy Father received the Letters of Credence of nine new ambassadors to the Holy See: Ahmada Rweyemamu Ngemera of Tanzania; Nyine S. Bitahwa of Uganda; Wesley Momo Johnson of Liberia, Hissein Brahim Taha of Chad; Debapriya Bhattacharya of Bangladesh; Sergei F. Aleinik of Belarus; Alexandre Cece Loua of Guinea, Tikiri Bandara Maduwegedera of Sri Lanka, and Obed Wadzani of Nigeria.

  Addressing the diplomats as a group, the Pope expressed the view that "the primordial gauge in political matters is the search for justice, so as to ensure that the dignity and rights of human beings are always respected and that all the inhabitants of a country may share in the wealth of their nation. The same holds true for the international sphere".

  "The international community", he continued, "is also called to act - over and above simple justice - by showing its solidarity with the poorest and ensuring a better distribution of wealth, enabling especially those countries whose wealth resides in the soil or under the soil to be the primary beneficiaries thereof. Rich countries cannot appropriate what comes from other lands".

  "Justice and solidarity must mean that the international community oversees the distribution of resources", said the Holy Father, highlighting how "it is also necessary to develop ... fraternal relations in order to create well-balanced societies where harmony and peace can reign, and to regulate any problems that may arise through dialogue and negotiation, without using any form of violence which always affects the weakest and poorest people".

  Benedict XVI explained how "solidarity and fraternity are a definitive expression of the fundamental love which we must show our brothers and sisters, because all people with responsibility in public life are primarily called to make their mission one of service to their compatriots and, in a broader sense, to all the inhabitants of the planet".

  The Holy Father concluded his remarks by indicating that, "for their part, the local Churches will not fail to do everything possible to make their contribution to the wellbeing of their compatriots, sometimes in difficult situations. Their desire is tirelessly to continue serving human beings, all human beings, without discrimination of any kind".

  In his speech, delivered in written form, to the ambassador of Tanzania, the Pope recalls how the country, "is also held in esteem for the important role undertaken by its political leaders in the process of pacification of the Great Lakes Region" and for its "generous hospitality to refugees fleeing from hostilities in neighbouring countries". The Holy Father also notes certain negative trends such as "an increase in the regional traffic of arms and interruptions in important initiatives of dialogue and reconciliation", and affirms that the Holy See "continues to exhort all who hold responsibility in the region not to loose confidence in the value of dialogue, but to explore with an open mind and follow all possibilities that may lead to the conclusion of a lasting peace".

  In his discourse to the Ugandan representative, the Pope notes the country's achievements "in the fields of education, development and health care, especially in the struggle against HIV/AIDS with dedicated attention to those affected and a successful policy of prevention based on continence and the promotion of faithfulness in marriage". He also praises "the culmination of efforts to formalise peace agreements and to bring to a conclusion the long years of warfare marked by cruel and senseless violence", expressing the hope that all displaced people may "return to their homes and resume a peaceful and productive existence".

  Benedict XVI informs the ambassador of Liberia of his satisfaction over "the decision by the International Monetary Fund ... to take steps towards cancelling Liberia's debt". He also underlines the importance of the "educational apostolate", noting how "many of your children and young people have been traumatised by the experience of war, some of them forced to become soldiers and to abandon their education, resulting in low levels of literacy across the population. The Church in such circumstances seeks to offer the people hope, to give them faith in the future".

  The Pope tells the ambassador of Chad that "the quality of relations between religious communities living in Chad, especially between Christians and Muslims, is an important element on the country's path to reconciliation".

  "I am confident that your country's active participation in bodies such as the United Nations Organisation will contribute to the 'culture of peace' which Bangladesh desires to build at home and abroad", writes the Pope in his speech to the Bangladeshi ambassador.

  "Considered as an integral part of the life and destiny of Belarus", Pope Benedict says to that country's representative, "the Catholic Church looks forward to continuing to exercise her role in society through her various structures and institutions", which "seek only to serve men and women and all of society through the transmission of universal values inspired by the Gospel. In this regard the Catholic Church in Belarus, from both the Latin and Byzantine traditions, does not ask for special privileges but only to contribute to the growth and development of the country. All she requests is the freedom to be able to fulfil serenely the mandate received from the divine Founder in service of His creation. In this same spirit and with the same sense of mutual responsibility, the Catholics of Belarus are committed to moving forward in the area of ecumenical dialogue, especially with the Orthodox Church in your country".

  To the ambassador of Guinea, the Pope expresses the hope that "following the painful trials the nation has been through, active co-operation may consolidate stability and encourage fraternity among the people". He also makes clear his hope that the international community may support such efforts.

  To the diplomat from Sri Lanka, Benedict XVI notes how "Catholics in Sri Lanka, together with other Christians, are united with many Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims in the ardent longing for lasting peace in the country and a definitive end to long-standing grievances. Sadly, violence continues to take its toll on the populace, causing grave concern to the Holy See and the international community". He also mentions the government's decision to set up a commission of inquiry to investigate cases of human rights violations, making particular reference to "Fr. Jim Brown and his assistant, whose whereabouts are still unknown, almost two years after their disappearance".

  Finally, the Holy Father praises Nigeria for the dynamism it "has introduced into the struggle against corruption and crime and the strengthening of the rule of law. ... I pray that politicians and social workers, professional people in the fields of economy, medicine and law, police officers and judges, and all involved in combating crime and corruption will work together diligently for the protection of life and property, supported by the loyal co-operation of all citizens. The Church will not fail to make her specific contribution by offering an integral education based on honesty, integrity and love of God and neighbour".

 

EVANGELISATION AND EDUCATION OF THE NEW GENERATIONS

VATICAN CITY, 29 MAY 2008 (VIS) - At midday today, the Pope met with members of the Italian Episcopal Conference, who are currently holding their general assembly in the Vatican's Synod Hall. The central theme of their deliberations has been evangelisation and education among the new generations.

  The Pope opened his address to them by affirming that the "educational emergency" he has referred to on a number of previous occasions "assumes a very specific form: that of the transmission of the faith to the new generations". In this field "we must negotiate the obstacles placed in our way by relativism, by a culture that puts God within parenthesis and discourages all truly committed choices, and in particular definitive choices, rather privileging ... self-affirmation and immediate satisfaction".

  To face these difficulties, said the Pope, bishops have at their disposal "many charisms and forms of evangelising energy" which they must "accept with joy". Particularly important, he went on, "are personal relationships, especially sacramental confession and spiritual guidance. Each of these moments represents an opportunity given to us to help our young people see the face of the God Who is the true friend of mankind".

  "The current educational emergency raises the question of an education that is truly educational", an education that "re-establishes full and integral formation of the person as the centre of its focus. ... It is, in fact, fair to ask whether the quality of teaching would not be improved by a simulating comparison between educational centres established - while respecting universally valid teaching programmes - by popular groups concerned with interpreting the educational choices of individual families".

  Benedict XVI indicated that Italy "needs to overcome a difficult period in which economic and social dynamism seemed to weaken, faith in the future diminished, and the poverty of many families led to a growing sense of insecurity". In this context, he also noted "signs of a new climate" due to "a more serene relationship between political forces and the institutions" which has been inspired by "a more acute sense of a shared responsibility for the future of the nation. ... There exists, in fact, a widespread desire to resume the journey, to face and resolve at least the most urgent and pressing problems, to open a new season of economic (but also civic and moral) growth".

  "As bishops we cannot fail to make our own specific contribution, so that Italy may see a period of progress and harmony", he said. "To this end we must first of all bear frank witness to the fact that ... the fundamental problem of mankind today remains the problem of God. No other human and social problem can truly be solved if God does not return to the centre of our lives".

  "Within the framework of a healthy and well-understood laicism, it is important to resist all tendencies to consider religion, and in particular Christianity, as a purely private matter", said the Holy Father.

  He laid particular emphasis on the prelates' concern for "the family founded on marriage, ... in order to encourage a culture favourable, and not hostile, to the family and to life, and to ask public institutions for coherent policies that recognise the central role families play in society, especially in generating and educating children". Furthermore, he added, "our commitment to the dignity and protection of human life in all moments and conditions must remain strong and constant".

  "We cannot close our eyes and remain silent in the face of the poverty, discomfort and social injustice that afflict such a large part of humankind, and that require generous commitment from everyone. ... Of course, our readiness to help must come about while respecting the laws which undertake to ensure the well-ordered progress of social life, both within a State and towards those who come from outside".

 

PLENARY OF WORKING COMMISSION BETWEEN HOLY SEE, ISRAEL

VATICAN CITY, 29 MAY 2008 (VIS) - Yesterday in the Vatican, the Permanent Bilateral Working Commission between the Holy See and the State of Israel held its plenary meeting for the purpose of advancing negotiations concerning article 10 para. 2 of the Fundamental Agreement between the Holy See and the State of Israel of 30 December 1993.

  According to a communique released yesterday afternoon, the Holy See delegation was headed by Msgr. Pietro Parolin, under-secretary for Relations with States, and the Israeli delegation by Aaron Abramovich, director general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

  The work of the plenary meeting of the commission "took place in a climate of great cordiality and good will, and accomplished significant progress towards the shared goal, both substantially and in terms of putting in place procedures to improve desired effectiveness and on-going negotiations", says the communique.

  The next meeting of the plenary will be held in Israel in the first half of December this year, "in the meantime the commission will continue upon its task at the 'working level'".

 

VATICAN MUSEUMS PRESENT EXHIBITION ON MATILDA OF CANOSSA

VATICAN CITY, 29 MAY 2008 (VIS) - Matilda of Canossa, the Papacy and the Empire (history, art and culture at the origins of the Romanesque) is the title of a forthcoming exhibition, which was presented this morning in the Vatican Museums.

  The exhibition will be inaugurated on 31 August and run until 11 January 2009, and will have two separate sites: the Casa di Mantegna in Mantua and the abbey of San Benedetto Po. It focuses on the biographical and political events of Matilda's life as a starting point to examine and interpret a period of confrontation between Popes and Emperors which led to the demarcation and separation of the two powers (religious and secular) and thus laid the foundations of the modern conception of power in the West.

  Countess Matilda of Canossa (1046-1115), a powerful feudal landowner and ardent supporter of the Papacy in the controversy over investitures, dominated the area of Italy immediately north of the Papal States.

  The exhibition - using works of art, documents and artefacts from various museums in Italy and Europe - reveals a world undergoing a profound transformation. Matilda's fame and the need to make her a symbol of support for the Papacy created a myth that has lasted down until our own time, and over history has inspired such figures as Dante, Giulio Romano and Gianlorenzo Bernini who recreated her figure in masterpieces of literature, painting and sculpture.

 

AUDIENCES

VATICAN CITY, 29 MAY 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences two prelates from the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Myanmar, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop Francis Daw Tang of Myitkyina.

    - Archbishop Matthias U Shwe of Taunggyi.

 

OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS

 VATICAN CITY, 29 MAY 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Fr. Gerardo Alimane Alminaza of the clergy of the diocese of Bacolod, Philippines, rector of the Sacred Heart Seminary, as auxiliary of the archdiocese of Jaro (area 5,303, population 2,333,141, Catholics 2,125,446, priests 228, religious 710), Philippines. The bishop-elect was born in San Jose, Philippines in 1959 and ordained a priest in 1986.

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