December 18, 2009

Vatican Information Service Bulletin

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

SUMMARY:


DEEPEN KNOWLEDGE WHILE MAINTAINING SIMPLICITY OF SPIRIT

VATICAN CITY, 18 DEC 2009 (VIS) - In St. Peter's Basilica at 5.30 p.m. yesterday, in keeping with a regular pre-Christmas tradition, the Holy Father presided at the celebration of Vespers with students of Roman universities. For the occasion, the Pope dedicated his homily to the subject of Wisdom.

  "What was born in Bethlehem was the Wisdom of God", said the Holy Father. "In the fullness of time this Wisdom assumed a human face, the face of Jesus. ... The Christian paradox consists precisely in identifying divine Wisdom - that is, the eternal 'Logos' - with Jesus of Nazareth the man, and with His history. ... Thus, the Wisdom we invoke this evening is the Son of God, the second person of the Blessed Trinity. It is the Word".

  "Christian teachers and young Christian students carry within themselves an impassioned love for this Wisdom. They read everything in its light. ... Without such Wisdom not one thing came into being, and thus its reflection is to be seen in all created reality. ... Everything perceived by human intelligence, ... in some way or to some extent, participates in creative Wisdom. And here, in the final analysis, lies the very possibility of study, research, and academic dialogue in any field of knowledge.

  "At this point", the Pope added, "let us ask ourselves: who was there on that Christmas night in the grotto of Bethlehem? Who welcomed newborn Wisdom? ... Not the doctors of law, the scribes or the wise men. Mary and Joseph were there, so were the shepherds. What does this mean? ... Does it mean that study serves no purpose? Even that it is harmful, counterproductive to a knowledge of the truth?"

  The Holy Father proceeded: "The history of two thousand years of Christianity excludes this hypothesis, and suggests the right answer. We must study, deepen our knowledge, yet while maintaining a 'little' soul, a humble and simple spirit like that of Mary, 'Seat of Wisdom'. ... In that grotto each of us can discover the truth about God and about man. In that Child, born of the Virgin, these two truths came together. Man's longing for eternal life softened the heart of God, Who deigned to assume the human condition".

  Benedict XVI reminded the students that "helping others to discover the true face of God is the first form of charity which, for you, takes the form of intellectual charity". Going on then to mention the focus of diocesan pastoral care in universities for the coming year - "the Eucharist and intellectual charity" - he described it as "a demanding but appropriate choice. The truth is that in all Eucharist celebrations God enters into history in Jesus Christ, in His Word and in His Body, granting us the charity that enables us to serve man in his everyday life".

  The Pontiff continued his homily by suggesting that universities "become places of formation for true workers of intellectual charity. The future of society largely depends upon them", he said, "especially as regards the preparation of a new 'humanistic synthesis' and a renewed capacity to shape a vision of the future".

  At the end of the ceremony, a delegation of Australian youth consigned the image of "Maria Sedes Sapientiae" to an African student delegation and the Pope entrusted all the university students of the African continent to the Blessed Virgin. He also expressed his pleasure at the co-operation which, following the Synod for Africa, has been established between Roman and African universities.

 

MONETARY CONVENTION: VATICAN CITY STATE - EUROPEAN UNION

VATICAN CITY, 18 DEC 2009 (VIS) - Late yesterday afternoon the Holy See Press Office announced that on the morning of 17 December a monetary convention was signed in Brussels, Belgium, between Vatican City State and the European Union.

  The document was signed in the name of the Holy See, as representative of Vatican City State, by Archbishop Andre Dupuy, apostolic nuncio to the European Union, while Joaquin Almunia, European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, signed for the European Union.

  The provisions of the new convention, which replaces the monetary convention of 29 December 2000 that introduced the euro as the official currency of Vatican City State, will come into effect from 1 January 2010.

 

FIR TREE FROM THE ARDENNES DECORATES ST. PETER'S SQUARE

VATICAN CITY, 18 DEC 2009 (VIS) - Benedict XVI this morning received a delegation from Wallonia, the Belgian region which has this year donated the Christmas tree that traditionally decorates St. Peter's Square during this period.

  The tree, the lights of which will be switched on this evening, is a fir from the Ardennes, one of the most wooded areas in Europe. It is thirty metres high, its trunk has a diameter of seven metres, it weighs fourteen tons and its lower branches reach a length of ten metres. The main tree is accompanied by forty-five smaller trees which will be positioned in various sites around the Vatican.

  "The role of this tree", said the Pope in his address thanking the delegation from Wallonia, "is similar to that of the shepherds who, watching through the shades of night, saw how the darkness was illuminated with the message of the angels. ... Standing next to the nativity scene the tree indicates, in its own particular way, the great mystery present in the poor and simple grotto. It proclaims the arrival of the Son of God to the inhabitants of Rome, to pilgrims and to everyone who sees St. Peter's Square on television. Though this tree your land, and the faith of the Christian communities in your region, greet the Christ Child".

 

HOLY SEE EFFORTS TO TAKE A LEAD IN PROTECTING ENVIRONMENT

VATICAN CITY, 18 DEC 2009 (VIS) - Made public today was the text of the speech to the United Nations Climate Change Conference currently being held in Copenhagen, Denmark, made by Archbishop Celestino Migliore, apostolic nuncio and head of the Holy See delegation to that meeting.

  In his English-language talk the nuncio pointed out that the Holy See, "in the albeit small state of Vatican City, is making significant efforts to take a lead in environmental protection by promoting and implementing energy diversification projects targeted at the development of renewable energy, with the objective of reducing emissions of CO2 and its consumption of fossil fuels.

  "In addition, the Holy See is giving substance to the necessity to disseminate an education in environmental responsibility, which also seeks to safeguard the moral conditions for an authentic human ecology", he added. "Many Catholic educational institutions are engaged in promoting such a model of education, both in schools and in universities. Moreover, episcopal conferences, dioceses, parishes and faith-based NGOs have been devoted to advocacy and management of ecological programs for a number of years".

  The archbishop concluded: "These efforts are about working on lifestyles, as the current dominant models of consumption and production are often unsustainable from the point of view of social, environmental, economic and even moral analysis. We must safeguard creation - soil, water and air - as a gift entrusted to everyone, but we must also and above all prevent mankind from destroying itself. The degradation of nature is directly connected to the culture that shapes human coexistence: when human ecology is respected within society, environmental ecology will benefit. The way humanity treats the environment influences the way it treats itself".

 

AUDIENCES

VATICAN CITY, 18 DEC 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches.

 - Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun S.D.B., bishop emeritus of Hong Kong, China.

 

OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS

VATICAN CITY, 18 DEC 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Appointed Bishop Stephen Brislin of Kroonstad, as archbishop of Cape Town (area 30,372, population 2,740,000, Catholics 217,000, priests 115, permanent deacons 57, religious 271), South Africa. The archbishop-elect was born in Welkom, South Africa in 1956, he was ordained a priest in 1983 and consecrated a bishop in 2007. He succeeds Archbishop Lawrence Patrick Henry, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Archbishop Gianfranco Agostino Gardin O.F.M. Conv., secretary of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, as archbishop-bishop of the diocese of Treviso (area 2,194, population 36,900, Catholics 35,556, priests 36, religious 58), Italy, with the title of archbishop "ad personam".

 - Appointed Msgr. Arnaud Berard as bureau chief at the Congregation for the Oriental Churches.

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