April 19, 2010

Vatican Information Service Bulletin

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

SUMMARY OF POPE'S APOSTOLIC TRIP TO MALTA: 18 APRIL

OTHER NEWS:


HOLY FATHER TELLS ABUSE VICTIMS OF HIS SHAME AND SORROW

VATICAN CITY, 18 APR 2010 (VIS) - Today in the apostolic nunciature to Malta, following this morning's Mass at the Floriana Granaries, the Holy Father held a meeting with a small group of people who suffered sex abuse at the hands of the clergy.

  According to an English-language communique concerning the meeting, released by the Holy See Press Office, Benedict XVI "was deeply moved by their stories and expressed his shame and sorrow over what victims and their families have suffered. He prayed with them and assured them that the Church is doing, and will continue to do, all in its power to investigate allegations, to bring to justice those responsible for abuse and to implement effective measures designed to safeguard young people in the future.

  "In the spirit of his recent Letter to the Catholics of Ireland, he prayed that all the victims of abuse would experience healing and reconciliation, enabling them to move forward with renewed hope".

 

YOUNG PEOPLE: GOD CHALLENGES US ALL TO BE BETTER

VATICAN CITY, 18 APR 2010 (VIS) - After leaving the apostolic nunciature in Rabat, the Holy Father travelled fifteen kilometres by popemobile to the port of Kalkara. There he boarded a boat that took him the three nautical miles separating Kalkara from the port of Valetta. The Pope's craft, a catamaran, was followed by a flotilla of small boats of kinds typical to the Maltese islands.

  The Pope disembarked in Valetta, and went directly to a stage that had been erected in the port for his meeting with young Maltese, to whom he pronounced an address.

  "I appreciate your desire to seek and find the truth, and to know what you must do to attain the fullness of life", said the Pope, going on to recall how it was as a young man that St. Paul met with Jesus on the road to Damascus.

  "Every personal encounter with Jesus is an overwhelming experience of love", he said. "For the rest of his life, Paul had a burning desire to carry the news of that love to the ends of the earth".

  The Holy Father went on: "Maybe some of you will say to me, St. Paul is often severe in his writings. How can I say that he was spreading a message of love? My answer is this. God loves every one of us with a depth and intensity that we can hardly begin to imagine. And He knows us intimately, He knows all our strengths and all our faults. Because He loves us so much, He wants to purify us of our faults and build up our virtues so that we can have life in abundance. When He challenges us because something in our lives is displeasing to Him, He is not rejecting us, but He is asking us to change and become more perfect. That is what He asked of St. Paul on the road to Damascus. God rejects no-one. And the Church rejects no one. Yet in His great love, God challenges all of us to change and to become more perfect.

  "St. John tells us that perfect love casts out fear", the Holy Father added, and he called on the young people who wish to bring the Gospel to the world not to be afraid. "You may well encounter opposition to the Gospel message. Today's culture, like every culture, promotes ideas and values that are sometimes at variance with those lived and preached by our Lord Jesus Christ. Often they are presented with great persuasive power, reinforced by the media and by social pressure from groups hostile to the Christian faith.

  "It is easy, when we are young and impressionable, to be swayed by our peers to accept ideas and values that we know are not what the Lord truly wants for us. That is why I say to you: do not be afraid, but rejoice in His love for you; trust Him, answer His call to discipleship, and find nourishment and spiritual healing in the Sacraments of the Church".

  Pope Benedict continued: "Here in Malta, you live in a society that is steeped in Christian faith and values. You should be proud that your country both defends the unborn and promotes stable family life ... for a healthy society. ... In the context of European society, Gospel values are once again becoming counter-cultural, just as they were at the time of St. Paul".

  "As Christians", he concluded, "we are called to manifest God's all-inclusive love; ... we should have a special care for those who are in distress, ... we should be attentive to the needs of immigrants and asylum seekers in our midst; we should extend the hand of friendship to members of all faiths and none. That is the noble vocation of love and service that we have all received. Let it inspire you to dedicate your lives to following Christ".

  At the conclusion of the meeting, the Pope travelled to Luqa airport for his return flight to Rome.

 

TO MALTESE: CULTIVATE A DEEP AWARENESS OF YOUR IDENTITY

VATICAN CITY, 18 APR 2010 (VIS) - Following his meeting with young people, Benedict XVI went to Luqa international airport, where the departure ceremony took place at the end of his visit to Malta, the fourteenth apostolic trip of his pontificate.

  Following a speech from George Abela, president of the Republic of Malta, the Holy Father pronounced his own address.

  "My journey", he said, "has given me a deeper appreciation of how the Gospel preached by St. Paul has shaped the spiritual identity of the Maltese people. As I leave you, let me encourage you once more to cultivate a deep awareness of your identity and to embrace the responsibilities that flow from it, especially by promoting the Gospel values that will grant you a clear vision of human dignity and the common origin and destiny of mankind.

  "On account of its geographical position in the heart of the Mediterranean", the Pope went on, "many immigrants arrive on Malta's shores, some fleeing from situations of violence and persecution, others in search of better conditions of life. I am aware of the difficulties that welcoming a large number of people may cause, difficulties which cannot be solved by any country of first arrival on its own. At the same time, I am also confident that, on the strength of its Christian roots and its long and proud history of welcoming strangers, Malta will endeavour, with the support of other States and international organisations, to come to the aid of those who arrive here and to ensure that their rights be respected".

  "Unity, solidarity and mutual respect stand at the basis of your social and political life. Inspired by your Catholic faith, they are the compass that will guide you in the search for authentic and integral development. The treasure of the Church's social teaching will inspire and guide these efforts. Never allow your true identity to be compromised by indifferentism or relativism. May you always remain faithful to the teaching of St. Paul".

  The departure ceremony concluded, Benedict XVI boarded his return flight to Rome, arriving at Rome's Ciampino airport at 9.40 p.m., whence he travelled by helicopter to the Vatican.

 

BENEDICT XVI CELEBRATES FIFTH ANNIVERSARY OF PONTIFICATE

VATICAN CITY, 19 APR 2010 (VIS) - Benedict XVI today celebrates the fifth anniversary of his election as Pope. On 19 April 2005 Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, succeeding Pope John Paul II, became the 264th successor of St. Peter.

  The conclave that led to the election of Benedict XVI began on Monday 18 April 2005 in the Sistine Chapel of the Vatican Apostolic Palace, with the "extra omnes" pronounced at 5.25 p.m. by Archbishop Piero Marini, master of the Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff, following the taking of the oath by the 115 cardinal electors. The first black smoke appeared at 8.04 p.m. on the same day. Black smoke again appeared at 11.52 a.m. on Tuesday 19 April, while the white smoke arose on Tuesday 19 April at 5.50 p.m.

  At 6.48 p.m., the Holy Father Benedict XVI, preceded by the Cross, appeared on the external loggia to greet the people and to impart the Apostolic Blessing "Urbi et Orbi" (to the city and to the world).

  Prior to the blessing, the new Pontiff addressed the faithful with the following words:

  "Dear brothers and sisters, after the great Pope John Paul II, the Lord Cardinals have elected me, a simple and humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord. I am consoled by the fact that the Lord knows how to act, even with inadequate instruments and above all I entrust myself to your prayers. In the joy of the Risen Lord, trusting in His permanent help, as we go forward the Lord will help us, and His Mother, Mary Most Holy, is on our side Thank you."

  On 24 April 2005 in St. Peter's Square, Benedict XVI celebrated his first Mass as Pontiff in the presence of half a million people. One hundred and fifty cardinals concelebrated with the Pope.

  In his first homily, the Pope said: "One of the basic characteristics of a shepherd must be to love the people entrusted to him, even as he loves Christ Whom he serves. 'Feed my sheep', says Christ to Peter, and now, at this moment, He says it to me as well. Feeding means loving, and loving also means being ready to suffer. Loving means giving the sheep what is truly good, the nourishment of God's truth, of God's word, the nourishment of His presence, which He gives us in the Blessed Sacrament.

  " My dear friends, at this moment I can only say: pray for me, that I may learn to love the Lord more and more. Pray for me, that I may learn to love His flock more and more, in other words, you, the holy Church, each one of you and all of you together. Pray for me, that I may not flee for fear of the wolves. Let us pray for one another, that the Lord will carry us and that we will learn to carry one another".

  In the five years of his pontificate, Benedict XVI has published three Encyclicals: "Deus caritas est" of 25 December 2005, "Spe salvi" of 27 November 2007, and "Caritas in veritate" of 30 June 2009; one Apostolic Exhortation on the Eucharist; the Apostolic Constitution "Anglicanorum coetibus"; nine "Motu Proprio"; the book "Jesus of Nazareth", and hundreds of addresses, homilies, letters and messages. He has made fourteen apostolic trips abroad and sixteen pastoral visits within Italy. Among the more important events of his pontificate were his visit to Auschwitz in 2006 and to the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, also in 2006, his 2008 address before the United Nations, and his 2010 visit to the synagogue of Rome. He has called two Synods, the first in 2008 on the Word of God and the second on Africa in 2009. A third Synod, on the Middle East, is due to take place later this year.

  To mark today's occasion, the cardinals will offer a luncheon in the Pope's honour in the Sala Ducale of the Vatican Apostolic Palace.

 

POPE INVITES CLERGY TO ROME FOR END OF YEAR FOR PRIESTS

VATICAN CITY, 19 APR 2010 (VIS) - Cardinal Claudio Hummes O.F.M., prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, has written a letter to all the priests of the world for the end of the Year for Priests, which is due to conclude on 11 June, Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

  Extracts from the English-language version of the letter, dated 12 April, are given below.

  "The Year for Priests brings great joy to the Church and she thanks the Lord for having inspired the Holy Father to announce it".

  "It is true that, albeit proportionately small in number, some priests have committed horrible and most serious crimes of sexual abuse upon minors, deeds that we must condemn and rebuke in an absolute and uncompromising manner. Those individuals must answer for their actions before God and before tribunals, including the civil courts. Nevertheless, we also pray that they might achieve spiritual conversion and receive pardon from God. The Church, for her part, is determined neither to hide nor to minimise such crimes. Above all we are on the side of the victims and want to support their recovery and their offended rights.

  "On the other hand, it is absolutely unacceptable to use the crimes of the few in order to sully the entire ecclesial body of priests. Those who do so commit a profound injustice. In the course the Year for Priests, the Church seeks to say this to human society. Anyone possessed of common sense and good will knows it to be the truth".

  "Dear priests, ... the Church loves you, admires you and respects you. You are, moreover, a joy for Catholic people throughout the world who welcome you and support you, especially in these times of suffering".

  "The Pope, dear priests, invites you from the heart to come to Rome from every part of the world for the conclusion of the Year for Priests, on the 9, 10 and 11 June next. ... The Pope wants to confirm the priests of the Church. Their presence in large numbers in St. Peter's Square will be a proactive and responsible way for priests to show themselves ready and un-intimidated for the service of the humanity entrusted to them by Jesus Christ".

  "This means offering our beloved Pope Benedict XVI all our solidarity, support, trust, and unconditional communion, in the face of the frequent attacks currently being directed at him with regard to decisions he made concerning clerics involved in crimes of the sexual abuse of minors. The accusations directed at aim are clearly unjust, and it has been shown that no-one has done as much as Benedict XVI to condemn and combat such crimes. Thus, large numbers of priests in the square with him will be a strong signal of our rejection of the unjust attacks of which he is victim. Come, then, to show public support for the Holy Father.

"The end of the Year for Priests will not be, properly speaking, a conclusion, but a new beginning. We, the People of God and its shepherds, want to thank the Lord for this privileged period of prayer and reflection on the priesthood. At the same time we want to be alert to what the Holy Spirit wants to say to us. Meanwhile we will return to the exercise of our mission in the Church and in the world with renewed joy and with the conviction that God, the Lord of history, remains with us, both in crises and in new times".

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