May 20, 2009

Vatican Information Service Bulletin

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

SUMMARY:


BENEDICT XVI RECALLS HIS TRIP TO THE HOLY LAND

VATICAN CITY, 20 MAY 2009 (VIS) - Benedict XVI dedicated his remarks during his general audience, held this morning in St. Peter's Square, to a review of his recent apostolic trip to the Holy Land from 8 to 15 May, describing it as a "pilgrimage par excellence to the sources of the faith, and at the same time a pastoral visit to the Church that lives" there.

  Addressing the 20,000 faithful gathered in the square, the Holy Father recalled the first stage of his trip, which took him to Jordan where he visited Mount Nebo whence Moses saw the Promised Land but died without reaching it, and Bethany Beyond the Jordan where Jesus was baptised by John. The Memorial of Moses on Mount Nebo "speaks to us of our status as pilgrims", he said, "suspended between an 'already' and a 'not yet', between a promise so great and beautiful as to support us on our journey, and a realisation that surpasses us, and even surpasses this world. The Church experiences this eschatological and pilgrim 'disposition' in her own being".

  The Pontiff also referred to his blessing of the cornerstones of two new churches being built at Bethany, affirming that this was "a sign of the Hashemite Kingdom's openness and respect for religious freedom and for Christian tradition. This fact merits great admiration. ... How important it is for Christians and Muslims to co-exist peacefully and in mutual respect!" he exclaimed. "I therefore prayed that this should also become a reality elsewhere, thinking particularly of Christians who live in the difficult situation of neighbouring Iraq.

  "Jordan", he added, "has a large Christian community, which has grown with the influx of Palestinian and Iraqi refugees. Their presence in society is significant and appreciated, also because of their educational and charity work focused on human beings independent of their beliefs or their ethnic or religious background".

  "As a sign of the Church's commitment to the field of culture, I also blessed the cornerstone of the University of Madaba, of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem. I felt great joy in launching this new academic and cultural institution, because it is a tangible expression of the fact that the Church promotes the search for truth and the common good, offering a suitable open space for all those who wish to dedicate themselves to such research, a vital premise for genuine and fruitful dialogue between civilisations".

  The Holy Father then went on to speak of his visit to Israel where, "from my arrival, I presented myself as a pilgrim of faith in the Land where Jesus was born, lived, died and rose again, and, at the same time, as a pilgrim of peace, imploring God that there, where He became man, all people may live as His children, that is, as brothers and sisters".

  "In that Land blessed by God at times its seems impossible to escape the spiral of violence. But nothing is impossible for God and for those who trust in Him! For this reason, faith in the one God, just and merciful, which is the most precious resource those people have, must have the power to release all its potential of respect, reconciliation and collaboration". The Pope went on to explain how he had expressed this hope to the Grand Mufti and the heads of the Muslim community of Jerusalem, to the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and to organisations dedicated to inter-religious dialogue.

  Pope Benedict went on: "Jerusalem is the crossroads of the three great monotheistic religions, and its very name - 'city of peace' - is an expression of God's plan for humankind: to make it one large family. ... This is what Jews, Christians and Muslims are called to bear witness to, so as to honour with their acts the God to Whom they pray with their mouths. This is what I had in my heart, in prayer, as I visited Jerusalem's ... Wailing Wall and Dome of the Rock, symbolic places of Judaism and Islam respectively".

  The Pope also recalled his visit to the Yad Vashem Memorial, dedicated to the victims of the Holocaust. "Each human being is scared" he said, "and his name is written in the heart of the eternal God. The great tragedy of the Shoah must never be forgotten! May it, indeed, always be in our memories as a universal reminder of the sacred respect due to human life, which always possesses infinite value".

  The primary goal of the apostolic trip "was to visit the Catholic communities in the Holy Land, and this happened on various occasions in Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Nazareth", said Benedict XVI, recalling how in the Cenacle he had met the Custos of the Holy Land "to meditate together upon our vocation of being one, of forming one body and one spirit, and transforming the world with the mild power of love".

  Yet "the culminating moments of communion with the Catholic faithful were, above all, the Eucharistic celebrations", such as the one in the Valley of Josaphat where the Pope spoke of Christ's resurrection "as a power of hope and peace for that city and for the whole world", and the one in Bethlehem, in the Palestinian Territories, "also attended by faithful from Gaza whom I had the joy of comforting in person, assuring them of my special closeness".

  "Bethlehem, the place where the heavenly song of peace sounded out for all mankind", the Holy Father added, "is a symbol of the distance that still separates us from achieving that promise: insecurity, isolation, uncertainty, poverty. All this has caused many Christians to move away, but the Church continues her journey, supported by the faith and bearing witness to love with tangible works of service to our brothers and sisters, such as, for example, the Caritas Baby Hospital in Bethlehem ... and humanitarian work in the refugee camps".

  The Pontiff's Holy Land trip also took him to the Aida refugee camp where, he said, "I assured the families there of the closeness and support of the universal Church, inviting everyone to seek peace through non-violent methods, following the example of St. Francis of Assisi". Benedict XVI also spoke of the closing Mass of the Year of the Family he had presided in Nazareth, where he "prayed for all families and for a rediscovery of the beauty of marriage and family life", and mentioned his meeting in the Basilica of the Annunciation with pastors, priests, religious and laity of Galilee, where "we sang our faith in the creative and transforming power of God".

  The Holy Father's trip concluded on 15 May with a visit to the Holy Sepulchre and with "two important ecumenical meetings in Jerusalem: at the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate and ... at the Armenian Patriarchal Apostolic Church".

  He concluded: "I am happy to be able to recapitulate the entire itinerary I was able to make in the sign of Christ's resurrection. Despite the vicissitudes that over the centuries have affected the Holy Places, despite the wars, the destruction and, alas, the conflicts among Christians, the Church has continued her mission, moved by the Spirit of the Risen Lord, She is on a journey to full unity, that the world may believe in the love of God and experience the joy of His peace".

 

BEARING WITNESS TO THE FAITH THROUGH THE DIGITAL WORLD

VATICAN CITY, 20 MAY 2009 (VIS) - At the end of his general audience, celebrated this morning in St. Peter's Square, the Pope made a brief appeal for World Communications Day, due to be held on Sunday 24 May.

  Speaking English, the Holy Father recalled how in his Message for the Day this year "I am inviting all those who make use of the new technologies of communication, especially the young, to utilise them in a positive way and to realise the great potential of these means to build up bonds of friendship and solidarity that can contribute to a better world.

  "The new technologies", he added, "have brought about fundamental shifts in the ways in which news and information are disseminated and in how people communicate and relate to each other. I wish to encourage all those who access cyberspace to be careful to maintain and promote a culture of respect, dialogue and authentic friendship where the values of truth, harmony and understanding can flourish.

  "Young people in particular, I appeal to you: bear witness to your faith through the digital world! Employ these new technologies to make the Gospel known, so that the Good News of God's infinite love for all people, will resound in new ways across our increasingly technological world!"

 

RELIGIONS CAN HELP TO STRENGTHEN SOCIAL COHESION

VATICAN CITY, 20 MAY 2009 (VIS) - The Jordanian Royal Institute for Inter-Faith Studies (R.I.I.F.S.) and the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, held their first meeting in Amman, Jordan, from 18 to 20 May. The theme of the event was "Religion and Civil Society".

  According to an English-language communique published at midday today, the R.I.I.F.S. delegation was led by Ambassador Hasan Abu Numah, director of the institute, and the Vatican delegation by Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue.

  At the end of this their first meeting the participants agreed upon "the importance of civil society for a sound and integral development of individuals and communities, recognising the particular and indispensable contribution that civil society can provide as a valuable forum for dialogue in the context of the responsible exercise of freedom.

  "The participants", the communique adds, "stressed the importance of educating youth in the values of mutual respect and in the culture of dialogue, rejecting violence, so as to promote peaceful coexistence on the basis of full citizenship.

  "They highlighted the relevance of democracy and the rule of law in a State that respects ethnic, cultural and religious diversities and implements equality among citizens, on the basis of the respect of human dignity and the ensuing fundamental human rights, particularly freedom and justice.

  "Religions", the participants note, "have a specific role to play in civil society, offering motivations for the citizen's contributions to the common good that are based on faith in God and which transcend political expediency and search of power".

  The communique concludes by indicating how "the participants stressed the role that religions can play in strengthening social participation and cohesion, thereby giving their specific support to the building of a stable and prosperous State, based on the principle of subsidiarity".

  The next meeting is due to take place in Rome within two years and will be "preceded by a preparatory meeting where the theme and modalities will be defined".

 

OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS

VATICAN CITY, 20 MAY 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed:

 - Bishop Joseph R. Cistone, auxiliary of the archdiocese of Philadelphia, U.S.A., as bishop of Saginaw (area 18,006, population 751,000, Catholics 144,000, priests 100, permanent deacons 15, religious 111), U.S.A.

 - Piero Antonio Bonnet as sole judge of Vatican City State while also maintaining him in his position as judge of the Tribunal.

 - Paolo Papanti-Pelletier, adjunct judge of the Tribunal, as judge of the Tribunal.

 

NOTICE

VATICAN CITY, 20 MAY 2009 (VIS) - Tomorrow May 21, Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord and a holiday in the Vatican, no VIS bulletin will be transmitted. Service will resume on Friday, May 22.

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