October 11, 2010

Vatican Information Service Bulletin

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




VATICAN CITY, 10 OCT 2010 (VIS) - At 9.30 a.m. today, the Holy Father Benedict XVI presided at a concelebration of the Eucharist with Synod Fathers for the solemn opening of the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East, which is to be held in the Vatican's Synod Hall until 24 October. The theme of the synodal assembly is: "The Catholic Church in the Middle East. Communion and Witness. Now the company of those who believed were of one heart and soul".

  The Pope concelebrated with 177 Synod Fathers and 69 collaborators. Participating in the Eucharistic prayer were His Beatitude Cardinal Nasrallah Pierre Sfeir, Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites, Lebanon; His Beatitude Cardinal Emmanuel III Delly, Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans, Iraq; Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches; His Beatitude Ignace Youssif III Younan, Patriarch of Antioch of the Syrians, Lebanon; His Beatitude Antonios Naguib, Patriarch of Alexandria of the Copts, Egypt, and Archbishop Joseph Soueif of Cyprus of the Maronites, Cyprus.

  "The Eucharistic celebration, the highest rendering of thanks to God, is marked for us today, gathered around the tomb of St. Peter, by an extraordinary event: the grace of seeing gathered together for the first time at a Synod, around the Bishop of Rome and the Universal Pastor, the bishops of the Middle Eastern region. Such a singular event demonstrates the interest of the whole Church for that precious and beloved part of God's people who live in the Holy Land and the whole of the Middle East", said the Pope at the beginning of his homily.

  "In those lands, the one Church of Christ is expressed in the variety of liturgical, spiritual, cultural and teaching traditions of the six venerable "sui iuris" Eastern Catholic Churches, as well as in the Latin tradition. This fraternal greeting which I address with great affection to the patriarchs of each of these Churches is, at the same time, extended to all the faithful entrusted to their pastoral care, in their respective countries as well as in the diaspora".

  Quoting today's readings from the Gospel - St. Luke's account of the healing of the ten lepers, and the story from the Second Book of Kings of the healing of Naaman, head of the Aramaean army - the Pope noted how they "offers a theme for meditation which brings us closer in a meaningful way to the event of the Synod".

  This theme is "that salvation is universal, but it passes through a specific historical mediation: the mediation of the people of Israel, which goes on to become that of Jesus Christ and the Church. The door of life is open for everyone, but this is the point, it is a 'door', that is a definite and necessary passage".

  "God is love and wants all men to be part of His life. To carry out this plan He, who is One and Triune, creates in the world a mystery of a communion that is human and divine, historical and transcendent: He creates it with the 'method' - so to speak - of the covenant, tying Himself to men with faithful and inexhaustible love, forming a holy people, that becomes a blessing for all the families of the earth. Thus He reveals Himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Who wants to lead His people to the 'land' of freedom and peace. This 'land' is not of this world; the whole of the divine plan goes beyond history, but the Lord wants to build it with men, for men and in men, beginning in the co-ordinates of space and time in which they live and which He Himself gave them.

  "In its own specific way, what we call the 'Middle East' is part of those co-ordinates", the Holy Father added. "God also sees this region of the world from a different perspective, one might say, 'from on high': it is the land of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; the land of the Exodus and the return from exile; the land of the Temple and of the Prophets, the land in which the Only Begotten Son of Mary was born, lived, died and rose from the dead; the cradle of the Church, established in order to carry Christ's Gospel to the ends of the earth. And we too, as believers, look to the Middle East in this way, from the perspective of the history of salvation".

  "Looking at that part of the world from God's perspective means recognising therein the 'cradle' of a universal design of salvation in love, a mystery of communion which becomes true in freedom and thus requires a response from man. Abraham, the prophets and the Virgin Mary are the protagonists of this response which, however, has its completion in Jesus Christ, Son of that same land yet descended from Heaven. From Him, from His Heart and His Spirit was born the Church, which is a pilgrim in this world yet belongs to Him. The Church was established to be a sign and an instrument of the unique and universal saving project of God among men. She fulfils this mission simply by being herself, that is, 'Communion and witness', as it says in the theme of this Synodal Assembly which opens today".

  "Without communion there can be no witness: the life of communion is truly the great witness. ... This communion is the same life of God which is communicated in the Holy Spirit, through Jesus Christ. It is thus a gift, not something which we ourselves must build through our own efforts. And it is precisely because of this that it calls upon our freedom and waits for our response: communion always requires conversion, just as a gift is better if it is welcomed and utilised. In Jerusalem the first Christians were few. Nobody could have imagined what was going to take place. And the Church continues to live on that same strength which enabled it to begin and to grow. Pentecost is the original event but also a permanent dynamism, and the Synod of Bishops is a privileged moment in which the grace of Pentecost may be renewed in the Church's journey, so that the Good News may be announced openly and heard by all peoples".

  The Pope continued his homily: "Therefore, the reason for this synodal assembly is mainly pastoral. While not being able to ignore the delicate and at times dramatic social and political situation of some countries, the pastors of the Middle Eastern Churches wish to concentrate on the aspects of their own mission. ... Ecclesial life, corroborated in this way, will see the development of very positive fruits in the ecumenical path with other Churches and ecclesial communities present in the Middle East.

  "This occasion is also propitious for a constructive continuation of dialogue with Jews, to whom we are tied by the indissoluble bond of the long history of the Covenant, as we are with Muslims. Moreover, the workings of the synodal assembly are oriented to the witness of Christians on a personal, family and social level. This requires the reinforcing of their Christian identity through the Word of God and the Sacraments. We all hope that the faithful feel the joy in living in the Holy Land, a land blessed by the presence and by the Paschal Mystery of the Lord Jesus Christ.

  "Over the centuries those places have attracted multitudes of pilgrims, as well as men and women in religious communities who have considered it a great privilege to be able to live and bear witness in the land of Jesus. Despite the difficulties, Christians in the Holy Land are called to enliven their consciousness of being the living stones of the Church in the Middle East, in the holy places of our salvation.

  "However, living in a dignified manner in one's own country is above all a fundamental human right: therefore, the conditions of peace and justice, which are necessary for the harmonious development of all those living in the region, should be promoted. Thus, everyone is called to make their personal contribution: the international community, by supporting a stable and constructive path towards peace; the main religions in the region, by promoting the spiritual and cultural values that unite men and exclude any expression of violence.

  "Christians", the Holy Father concluded, "will continue to contribute not only with work of social promotion, such as education and healthcare, but above all with the spirit of the evangelical Beatitudes which enliven the practice of forgiveness and reconciliation. In this commitment, they will always have the support of the entire Church, as is solemnly attested by the presence here of the delegates of the episcopacies of other continents".



VATICAN CITY, 10 OCT 2010 (VIS) - At midday today, after having concelebrated Mass with the Synod Fathers to inaugurate the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East, the Holy Father appeared at the window of his private study to pray the Angelus with thousands of faithful gathered below in St. Peter's Square.

  In the Middle East, the Pope remarked, "the one Church of Christ expresses herself in all the richness of her ancient traditions". In the countries of that region, "unfortunately marked by profound divisions and lacerated by years-long conflicts, the Church is called to be a sign and instrument of unity and reconciliation", he said.

  "This is an arduous task, because the Christians of the Middle East often find themselves having to support difficult living conditions at a personal, family and community level. But this must not be a discouragement; it is precisely in such a context that the perennial message of Christ to 'believe in the Good News' becomes more necessary and urgent".

  In the month of October, which is dedicated to the Rosary, Benedict XVI entrusted the work of the Synod to the Virgin Mary, who is "so loved and venerated by our brothers and sisters in the Middle East and, ... as the Star of Hope, is close to all forms of suffering.

  "To her intercession", the Holy Father added in conclusion, "we entrust the synodal assembly, ... that the Christians of the region may be strengthened in communion and bear witness to the Gospel of love and peace".



VATICAN CITY, 11 OCT 2010 (VIS) - The first General Congregation of the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East was held this morning in the Synod Hall. The meeting was presided by the Pope.

  Benedict XVI made some brief opening remarks in which he recalled how on this day, 11 October, in the year 1962, Pope John XXIII officially opened Vatican Council II.

  Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches and president delegate on duty, also pronounced some brief words at the beginning of this morning's session.

  Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, secretary general of the Synod of Bishops, then arose to address the assembly, explaining the preparations for this special assembly, which Benedict XVI announced on 19 September 2009 during his meeting with Catholic patriarchs and major archbishops from the Oriental Churches.

  His Beatitude Antonios Naguib, Patriarch of Alexandria of the Copts, Egypt, relator general of the synod then read out the "Relatio ante disceptationem", (report before the discussion) extracts of the English translation of which are given below:


  The twofold aim of the Synod was well received and appreciated in our Catholic Churches, namely:

  1) To confirm and strengthen the Church's members in their Christian identity, through the Word of God and the Sacraments.

  2) To foster ecclesial communion between the "sui iuris" Churches, so that they may offer an authentic and effective witness. Essential elements in this witness are ecumenism, inter-religious dialogue and the missionary effort.



  Knowledge of the history of Christianity in the Middle East is important for us, as it is for the rest of the Christian world. ... Our Churches, blessed by the presence of Christ and the Apostles, were the cradle of Christianity and the home of the first generations of Christians. For this reason, our Churches are called to keep alive the memory of the Church's beginnings, to strengthen the faith of their members and to renew in them the spirit of the Gospel, so that God's Word might guide their lives and relations with others, both Christians and non-Christians alike.

  Christians are "native citizens" in their countries, members with full rights in their civic communities. They consider themselves "at home", and have oftentimes lived in countries for a considerable length of time. Their presence and participation in the life of a country are a valuable treasure to be protected and maintained. A positive secularism would permit an effective and fruitful contribution of the Church and help strengthen the idea of citizenship, founded on the principles of equality and democracy.

  Through the presentation of the social doctrine of the Church, our communities offer a valuable contribution to building society. Promotion of the family and the defence of life need to be central in our Church's teaching and mission programmes. Education is a privileged part of our activity and a major investment.


  The socio-political situations of our countries directly affect Christians, who more deeply feel their negative aspects. In the Palestinian Territories life is very difficult and often unsustainable. The position of Christian Arabs is a very delicate one. While condemning violence whatever its origin and calling for a just and lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we express our solidarity with the Palestinian people, whose situation today is particularly conducive to the rise of fundamentalism. Listening to the voice of local Christians could help in better understanding the situation. Consideration should be given to the important status of the city of Jerusalem for the three religions: Christianity, Islam and Judaism.

  It is regrettable that world politics does not sufficiently take into account the plight of Christians in Iraq, who are the primary victims of the war and its consequences. In Lebanon, greater unity between Christians would help ensure greater stability in the country. In Egypt, the Churches would greatly benefit from co-ordinating their efforts in strengthening the faith of the faithful and collaborating in works for the good of the country. According to the means available in each country, Christians should foster democracy, justice, peace and a "positive secularism" which distinguishes between the State and religion and respects all religions. Both the Church and society need to respond positively and dutifully.

  The promotion of human rights requires peace, justice and stability.

  Religious freedom is an essential component of human rights. Freedom of worship is but one aspect of freedom of religion. In most of our countries, freedom of worship is guaranteed by the constitution. But even in this case, certain laws or practices in some countries limit its application. Another aspect is freedom of conscience, based on a person's free will. Its absence impedes freedom of choice in those who wish to follow the Gospel, yet fear various acts of harassment to themselves and their families.

  Freedom of conscience can develop and exist only in relation to the growth of respect for human rights in their completeness and entirety.

  In this regard, education towards greater justice and equality under the law is a precious contribution to the cultural progress of a country. The Catholic Church firmly condemns all proselytism. Perhaps some profit can result from calmly considering these questions, and ... from finding occasions for dialogue in each country. The Church's many educational institutions are an important instrument in this field. Health centres and social services are also an eloquent witness of love for one's neighbour, without distinction or discrimination. Promoting days, events and celebrations dedicated to these topics, at the local and international level, helps spread and reinforce the positive aspects of culture, which should also be propagated by the mass media.

  Today, emigration in our countries has increased primarily as a result of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the war in Iraq, adverse political and economic situations, the rise of Muslim fundamentalism and the restriction of freedom and equality. Young people, educated persons and affluent people form the majority of those leaving, thus depriving the Church and the country of valuable resources.

  At the same time, emigration brings notable support to the Middle Eastern countries and the Churches. The Church in the country of origin must seek to maintain strong ties with the emigrating faithful and ensure their spiritual assistance. It is essential to provide the liturgy, in their respective rites, to the faithful of the Eastern Churches who find themselves in Latin territories. ... The communities of the diaspora have the task of promoting and consolidating the Christian presence in the Middle East by strengthening Christian witness and supporting causes for the good of the country or the region. Appropriate pastoral activity should take into account emigration within the country.



  Diversity in the Catholic Church, far from a detriment, is a source of enhancement.


  The principal signs expressing communion in the Catholic Church are: Baptism, the Eucharist and communion with the Bishop of Rome, Coryphaeus of the Apostles ("hamat ar-Rusul"). The Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches regulates the canonical aspects of this communion, accompanied and assisted by the Congregation for the Eastern Churches and the various Roman dicasteries.

  Among the Catholic Churches in the Middle East, communion is expressed by the Council of Catholic Patriarchs of the Middle East (CCPO).



  Today, catechetical activity cannot be limited to oral communication only; actions are necessary. ... The new media are very effective in proclaiming and bearing witness to the Gospel. Our Churches need people specialised in these areas. ... Catechesis must take account of the situation of conflict in the countries of the Middle East and seek to strengthen the faithful in their faith and form them so that they can live the commandment of love and be builders of peace, justice and forgiveness. Commitment in public life is a duty which requires witness and a mission to build the Kingdom of God. This work demands a formation that goes beyond confessionalism, sectarianism and internal quarrels and sees God's face in each individual, and collaborates with others in building a future of peace, stability and wellbeing.


  In our Eastern Churches, the divine liturgy is at the centre of religious life. It plays an important role in maintaining Christian identity, strengthening a sense of belonging to the Church and animating a life of faith. The celebration of the divine liturgy is also a source of attraction to those who may be far from the faith or even disbelievers. Consequently, the liturgy is an important part of the proclamation and witness of a Church which not only prays, but acts.


  Proper actions are required in the work of ecumenism: prayer, conversion, sanctification and the mutual exchange of gifts, all in a spirit of respect, friendship, mutual charity, solidarity and collaboration. These actions and attitudes should be cultivated and encouraged through teaching and in the various media outlets. An essential part of ecumenism is dialogue, which requires a positive approach to understanding, listening and openness to others. This leads to overcoming mistrust, working together to develop religious values, joining in socially useful projects and facing shared problems together.


  The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has affected relations between Christians and Jews. Several times, the Holy See has expressed its position clearly, especially during the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the Holy Land in 2009.

  While our Churches denounce every form of anti-Semitism and anti-Judaism, they acknowledge that the difficulties in relations between the Arab and Jewish peoples are due to conflicting political situations, which necessitates a distinction between the religious and political reality. ... Reading the Old Testament and becoming more acquainted with Judaic traditions lead to a better understanding of the Jewish religion, thereby offering common ground for serious studies and assistance in a better understanding of the New Testament and Eastern traditions. Other possibilities for collaboration are also available today.


The reasons to foster relations between Christians and Muslims include: their status as fellow citizens and their sharing the same language and the same culture, not to mention the same joys and sufferings. Furthermore, Christians are called to live as witnesses of Jesus Christ in society. From its beginnings, Islam has found common roots with Christianity and Judaism, as the Holy Father has mentioned. Arab-Christian literature should also be given greater consideration and better valued.

  The Islamic religion is not a uniformity; rather, the profession of Islam has confessional, cultural and ideological differences. In fact, difficulties in the relations between Christians and Muslims generally arise when Muslims do not distinguish between religion and politics. On this basis, Christians sense an uneasiness at being considered non-citizens, despite the fact that they called these countries "home" long before Islam. Christians deserve full recognition, passing from being merely tolerated to a just and equal status which is based on common citizenship, religious freedom and human rights.

  All prejudices concerning others and any offensive talk or argumentation needs to be eliminated from textbooks in schools. Instead, we should try to understand the other's point of view, while respecting differences in beliefs and practices.


  All citizens in our countries have to face two common challenges: peace and violence. The situation of war and conflict we are experiencing spawn further violence and are being exploited by world terrorist groups. Generally speaking, the West is identified with Christianity, and thus the choices made by western countries are wrongly taken as those of the Church, despite the fact that today these governments are secular and increasingly opposed to the principles of the Christian faith. This situation needs to be better understood and further explanation given to the meaning of "positive secularism" which makes a distinction between politics and religion.

  The influence of modernisation, globalisation and secularisation in our societies has an effect on the members of our Churches. ... Every national constitution of the countries in the Middle East affirms the equality of all citizens. However in States with a Muslim majority, apart from some exceptions, Islam is the State religion and the "sharia" is the main source of legislation. In some countries, or parts of them, it is applied to all citizens. ... Freedom of worship is recognised but not freedom of conscience. With the increasing growth of fundamentalism, attacks against Christians are on the rise.


  The specific contribution of Christians in the society in which they live is irreplaceable. Through their witness and actions, they enrich society with the values Christ brought to humanity. Since many of these values are shared in common with Muslims, the interest and possibility exist to promote them together. Catechesis must form believers to be active citizens. Commitment to social programmes and civic life without reference to Gospel-values, is a counter-witness.

  Service on behalf of others is a specific characteristic of our identity as Christians and not to our belonging to a particular confession. Our primary task is to live the faith and allow our actions to speak; to live the truth and proclaim it with charity and courage; and to practice solidarity in our institutions. We must live a mature faith - not a superficial one - supported and animated by prayer. Our credibility requires harmony within the Church, the promotion of unity among Christians and a convinced religious life which is translated into real life. This eloquent witness demands education and ongoing guidance for children, young people and adults.



  Present-day situations give rise to difficulties and concerns. However, empowered by the Holy Spirit and guided by the Gospel, we can face them with hope and filial trust in Divine Providence. Today, though we are not numerically significant in the region, our actions and witness can make us a considerable presence. ... Faced with the temptation of discouragement, we need to remind ourselves that we are disciples of the Risen Christ, the Conqueror of sin and death.


  Our Churches need believers-witnesses among the pastors as well as among the rest of the Church's members. The proclamation of the Good News can only be fruitful, if bishops, priests, consecrated men and women and the laity are aflame with the love of Christ and zealously seek to make Him known and loved. We are confident that this Synod will not simply be a passing event, but one which will truly allow the Spirit to move our Churches.



VATICAN CITY, 9 OCT 2010 (VIS) - The Holy See Press Office released the following communique at midday today:

  "This morning the Holy Father Benedict XVI received in audience Ivo Josipovic, president of the Republic of Croatia. President Josipovic subsequently went on to meet with Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. who was accompanied by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.

  "The cordial discussions provided an occasion for a fruitful exchange of opinions on questions concerning the current situation in the region, with particular reference to the position of Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

  "Attention then turned to certain aspects of the situation in Croatia itself, to the Church's contribution to cultural and spiritual development, to the country's path to full integration into the European Union, and to the importance of it maintaining its specific Christian identity".



VATICAN CITY, 9 OCT 2010 (VIS) - At midday today the Pope received participants in a congress called to mark the twentieth anniversary of the publication of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches.

  This anniversary, said the Holy Father, provides an occasion "to examine to what extent the Code has had effective force of law for all 'sui iuris' Eastern Catholic Churches, and how it has been translated into their daily lives". Moreover, it is an opportunity to consider "the extent to which the legislative authority of each 'sui iuris' Church has undertaken to promulgate its own particular law, while bearing in mind the traditions of its own rite and the dispositions of Vatican Council II.

  "The themes of your congress (divided into three sections: historical, legislative and ecumenical) are", he added, "an important indication of the course to be followed in this matter".

  Benedict XVI then highlighted how "the 'sacri canones' of the ancient Church, which are the inspiration for the current Eastern Code, stimulate all the Eastern Churches to preserve their own identity, which is Oriental and Catholic at one and the same time. In maintaining Catholic communion the Eastern Catholic Churches had no intention of renouncing faithfulness to their own tradition", he said. "As has been noted on several occasions, the union they have already achieved with the Church of Rome must not cause the Eastern Catholic Churches to lose an awareness of their own authenticity and originality. Therefore, the task of all the Eastern Catholic Churches is that of preserving their legal heritage and nourishing their traditions, which are a treasure for the whole Church".

  The Holy Father went on: "To a large extent, those same 'sacri canones' of the early centuries of the Church also constitute the fundamental and identical heritage of Canon Law that regulate the Orthodox Churches. Thus, the Eastern Catholic Churches can make a specific and important contribution to the progress of ecumenism".

  The Pope concluded his remarks by noting how, "in the context of the Church's current commitment to the new evangelisation, Canon Law, as the specific and indispensable regulation of ecclesial unity, will not fail to make an effective contribution to the life and mission of the Church in the world, if all members of the People of God interpret it wisely and apply it faithfully".



VATICAN CITY, 11 OCT 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Archbishop Joseph William Tobin C.SS.R., secretary of the Congregation for Institutes of Apostolic Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.

 - Archbishop Giorgio Lingua, apostolic nuncio to Jordan and Iraq, accompanied by members of his family.

 - Bishop Ignacio Carrasco de Paula, president of the Pontifical Academy for Life.

 - Bishop Enrico Dal Covolo S.D.B., rector of the Pontifical Lateran University, accompanied by members of his family.

  On Saturday 9 October the Holy Father received in separate audiences:

 - Cardinal Francis Eugene George O.M.I., archbishop of Chicago, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, accompanied by Bishop Gerald Frederic Kicanas of Tucson, vice president; Msgr. David John Malloy, secretary general, and Msgr. Ronny Jenkins, adjunct secretary general.

 - Cardinal Marc Ouellet P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.



VATICAN CITY, OCT 11, 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Appointed Archbishop-Bishop Cesare Nosiglia of Vicenza, Italy, as metropolitan archbishop of Turin (area 3,350, population 2,098,713, Catholics 1,941,913, priests 1,157, permanent deacons 135, religious 4,368), Italy. He succeeds Cardinal Severino Poletto, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Fr. Emidio Cipollone of the clergy of the diocese of Avezzano, Italy, spiritual director of the St. Pius X Regional Seminary at Chieti, as archbishop of Lanciano-Ortona (area 305, population 93,764, Catholics 91,890, priests 60, permanent deacons 8, religious 120), Italy. The archbishop-elect was born in Cese di Avezzano, Italy in 1960 and ordained a priest in 1984. He succeeds Archbishop Carlo Ghidelli, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Fr. Odelir Jose Magri M.C.C.I., vicar general of the Combonian Fathers in Rome, as bishop of Sobral (area 18,920, population 908,000, Catholics 769,000, priests 57, religious 128), Brazil. The bishop-elect was born in Campo Ere, Brazil in 1963 and ordained a priest in 1988.

- Appointed Christoph Graf, captain of the Pontifical Swiss Guard, as vice commander of the same corps, with the rank of lieutenant colonel.

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