March 2, 2009

Vatican Information Service Bulletin

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

SUMMARY: 28 FEBRUARY - 2 MARCH


PRESENTATION OF PONTIFICAL YEARBOOK 2009

VATICAN CITY, 28 FEB 2009 (VIS) - This morning, Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. and Archbishop Fernando Filoni, substitute for General Affairs, presented the Holy Father with the 2009 edition of the "Annuario Pontificio" or pontifical yearbook. Also present were the officials responsible for compiling and printing the volume.

  A communique regarding the presentation highlights some of the salient facts contained in the new yearbook. In 2008, the Pope erected one metropolitan see and eleven new episcopal sees. Furthermore, four metropolitan sees, two episcopal sees and one apostolic vicariate were elevated. A total of 169 new bishops were appointed.

  The number of Catholics in the world increased from around 1,131 million in 2006 to slightly under 1,147 million in 2007. The number of bishops also grew from 4,898 in 2006 to 4,946 in 2007.

  The note also indicates that the number of priests has increased over the last eight years, from 405,178 in 2000 to 408,024 in 2007, although their distribution differs from continent to continent. Indeed, while numbers of priestly vocations are growing in Africa and Asia (by 27.6 percent and 21.2 percent respectively), in America they remain more or less stationary, and have fallen in Europe and Oceania (by 6.8 percent and 5.5 percent respectively).

  The number of candidates to the priesthood has also grown slightly, from 115,480 in 2006 to 115,919 in 2007. Here too the different continents show a different evolution, with notable increases in Africa and Asia while Europe and America show a drop of 2.1 percent and 1 percent respectively.

 

AUDIENCES

VATICAN CITY, 28 FEB 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - His Beatitude Kristof, metropolitan of the Czech Lands and Slovakia.

 - Makram Obeid, ambassador of Syria, on his farewell visit.

 - Carlos Rafael Conrado Marion-Landais Castillo, ambassador of the Dominican Republic, on his farewell visit.

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

 - Cardinal Ivan Dias, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples.

 

ANGELS: LARGE PART OF THE GOSPEL AND SIGN OF GOD'S PRESENCE

VATICAN CITY, 1 MAR 2009 (VIS) - Today, the first Sunday of Lent, Benedict XVI presided at the praying of the Angelus with faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.

  Before the Marian prayer the Pope reflected upon the passage from the Gospel of St. Mark which describes how Satan tempted Jesus in the desert. "In the desert - a place of trial, as evinced by the experience of the People of Israel - the truth of the 'kenosis' becomes dramatically evident: that is, the 'emptying' of Christ Who divested Himself of divine form. He, Who did not sin and could not sin, subjected Himself to trial and so was able to share our weakness".

  "Against this dark and shadowy figure who dared tempt the Lord, stand the angels, luminous and mysterious beings" who are "counterpoints to Satan. 'Angel' means 'messenger'. Throughout the Old Testament we find these figures who, in the name of God, help and guide mankind. ... At the beginning of the New Testament Gabriel is sent to announce ... the joyful events that begin our salvation. ... A choir of angels brings the shepherds the good news of the birth of the Saviour, and it is angels who announce to the women the joyous news of His resurrection".

  "If we were to disregard these beings sent by God we would remove a considerable portion of the Gospel", said Pope Benedict. "They announce His presence among us and are a sign thereof. Let us, then, call upon them often that they may support us in the task of following Jesus and identifying ourselves with Him".

  The Holy Father concluded his remarks by calling upon the angels to watch over him and his collaborators in the Roman Curia as they perform their annual Lenten spiritual exercises, which are due to begin this evening.

 

POPE REMAINS CLOSE TO WORKERS AND THEIR FAMILIES

VATICAN CITY, 1 MAR 2009 (VIS) - Following today's Angelus, the Pope addressed greetings in various languages to pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square, among them a group of workers from the factory of the Italian car-maker Fiat located at Pomigliano d'Arco near Naples.

  The Holy Father indicated that the workers had come "to express their concern for the future of the factory and of the thousands of people who, directly or indirectly, depend upon it for their work.

  "My thoughts also go", he added, "to other equally difficult situations, such as those affecting the area of Sulcis-Iglesiente in Sardinia, Prato in Tuscany and other localities in Italy and elsewhere.

  "I join bishops and the various local Churches in expressing my closeness to families affected by this problem, and I entrust them in my prayers to the protection of Mary Most Holy and St. Joseph, patron of workers".

  The Pope concluded by encouraging "both political and civil authorities, as well as business people, to collaborate to face this delicate moment. There is, in fact, a need for solid and united commitment, while recalling that priority must be given to workers and their families".

 

MESSAGE FROM POPE FOR RETURN OF CHURCH OF ST. NICHOLAS

VATICAN CITY, 1 MAR 2009 (VIS) - The Russian Orthodox church of St. Nicholas in the Italian city of Bari was returned to the custody of the Patriarchate of Moscow during a ceremony held in Bari today. During the celebration, Cardinal Salvatore De Giorgi, archbishop emeritus of Palermo, Italy, read out a Message from the Holy Father.

  "The Russian people", says the Pope in his Message, "have never faltered in their love for this great saint who has always supported them through moments of joy and of difficulty. Evidence of this is also to be found in this Russian Orthodox church of St. Nicholas, built at the beginning of last century to house pilgrims who, often on their way to the Holy Land, stopped at Bari, a meeting point between East and West, to venerate the relics of the saint.

  "And how can we not recognise", the Holy Father adds, "that this beautiful church reawakens within us a nostalgia for full unity, and upholds our commitment to work for full union among all Christ's disciples?"

  In his Message, Benedict XVI also reiterates his best wishes to Kirill, recently-elected as Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, and calls upon the Holy Spirit to illuminate his ministry.

  During the ceremony - which was originally due to have taken place on 6 December 2008, Feast of St. Nicholas of Bari, but was postponed due to the death of Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexis II - Giorgio Napolitano, president of the Italian Republic, consigned the keys of the Orthodox church of St. Nicholas to Dimitry Medvedev, president of the Russian Federation.

 

OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS

 VATICAN CITY, 2 MAR 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

  - Appointed Bishop Roger Paul Morin, auxiliary of New Orleans, U.S.A., as bishop of Biloxi (area 24,992, population 822,000, Catholics 67,800, priests 79, permanent deacons 26, religious 63), U.S.A.

  - Dispensed Msgr. Gerhard Wagner from accepting the office of auxiliary of the diocese of Linz, Austria.

   On Saturday 28 February it was made public that he appointed Archbishop Antonio Maria Veglio, secretary of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, as president of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples. He succeeds Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same office the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

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