October 18, 2010

Vatican Information Service Bulletin

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

SUMMARY OF SYNOD OF BISHOPS: 15 - 18 OCTOBER

OTHER NEWS: 16 - 18 OCTOBER


NINTH GENERAL CONGREGATION

VATICAN CITY, 15 OCT 2010 (VIS) - The Ninth General Congregation of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops took place this afternoon in the Synod Hall of the Vatican. The president delegate on duty was Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches. The Holy Father was present for the period of free discussion at the end of the session.

  Extracts from some of the Synod Father's speeches are given below:

CARDINAL WILLIAM JOSEPH LEVADA, PREFECT OF THE CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH. "My intervention will focus on the notion of the living Tradition of the Church as taught in the Vatican Council II Constitution on Divine Revelation 'Dei Verbum', and on the understanding of the role of the Pope in Apostolic Tradition. ... Cardinal Newman, through his study of the Fathers of the Patristic age and of the first Ecumenical Councils, found precisely the living Tradition that led him to embrace the fullness of faith in the Catholic Church. ... I would envision a useful study and exchange of views about how the ministry of the Successor of Peter, with its essential doctrinal characteristics, could be exercised in different ways, according to the diverse needs of times and places. This remains a chapter of ecclesiology to be further explored and completed. Such theological reflection, however, does not supplant the vital testimony of the Catholics of the Middle East to their Orthodox and Muslim brethren about how Church doctrine develops in the living Apostolic Tradition, guided by Christ's gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church's Magisterium in every age. This Magisterium necessarily includes the role of the Pope as head of the Apostolic College of Bishops, together with Christ's commission to confirm His brethren in the unity of faith so that 'all may be one'".

MSGR. MIKAEL ANTOINE MOURADIAN, PATRIARCHAL VICAR OF THE INSTITUTE FOR THE PATRIARCHAL CLERGY OF BZOMMAR, LEBANON. "It is true that the Middle East is the Holy Land and the land of saints. This has been demonstrated by the canonisations and beatifications that have taken place in recent years: Mar Charbel, Naamat Allah al-Hardini, Rafka, Abouna Yaacoub, Ignace Maolyan, Al Akh Stephan. However, this should not cloud our vision to the truth about the Middle East, where there is also a crisis of vocations. ... What are the causes for the decrease in religious vocations, what are the short-, mid- and long-term consequences, and the possible solutions? ... (1) Primary causes: The decline in the birth rate in Christian families. Material and moral problems which families must face. A crisis of values. Difficulty in committing to the long term. The emancipation of women. Crisis of faith. Counter-witness by consecrated persons. (2) Possible solutions: Support the family. Educate them in true values. Consecrated persons witness sincerely to their faithfulness to Christ and to their consecration. Ensure a proper discernment of vocations. Oversee proper spiritual guidance in vocations. Obtain appropriate initial and permanent formation. ... It is also in the believing and practicing family that vocations are born".

ARCHBISHOP CYRIL VASIL S.J., SECRETARY OF THE CONGREGATION FOR THE ORIENTAL CHURCHES. "Synodality has a special bond with the mechanism for choosing candidates to the episcopacy. Checks on the suitability of the candidates should be carried out by the bishops and the Synod in a more appropriate manner than sometimes happens at present, in order to facilitate and speed up the process of pontifical assent. ... First and foremost, formative and academic institutions must be constantly evaluated as regards the level of cultural and spiritual formation they offer. The difficulties students encounter in their higher studies outside the Eastern context, for example in Rome, cannot be ignored and there is no point in hiding them. We have to ask ourselves if the time has finally come to open a first cycle of Eastern theological studies here in Rome, in an Eastern Theological Faculty. ... As regards the faithful who move from the Middle East, claims are sometimes made for a 'planetary' extension of Patriarchs' jurisdiction, as if this were a right and a universal solution to the problem of the pastoral care of migrants. It should be remembered that there is a great difference between the claimed universal right and the detailed, justified request".

ARCHBISHOP MICHEL ABRASS B.A., AUXILIARY OF ANTIOCH OF THE GREEK-MELKITES, SYRIA. "The question of choice of 'regime', as applicable to Lebanon, is a serious problem affecting the laity today. Many lay persons ask themselves what will become of them if they declare themselves as Christians, ... something which depends on the degree of emancipation of their non-Christian interlocutor, who in the Middle East is often a Muslim. These Christians need some kind of 'positive secularism'. Where do they go to find it? Presently, our 'lay faithful' are in self-denial. They must be given legitimacy, and the only people with the power to provide it are ecclesiastics, provided that it has been authorised by their statutes. We think that Christians who so desire should be authorised to adopt a lay statute, so long as it does not undermine the dogmas or the teachings of the Churches, bearing in mind that we are in a land that is not solely Christian".

ARCHBISHOP ATHANASE MATTI SHABA MATOKA OF BAGHDAD OF THE SYRIANS, IRAQ. "Iraq is still in a situation of instability, suffering and war, the most recent being the American occupation. Christians have always shared in the sacrifices and tribulations, having lost martyrs in the wars and suffered many different hardships. Since 2003, Christians have been victims of a deadly situation which has caused mass emigration from Iraq. Although there are no definite statistics, indications are that half the Christians have abandoned Iraq and that there are only about 400,000 Christians left of the 800,000 who once lived there. The invasion of Iraq by America and its allies brought to Iraq in general, and especially to its Christians, destruction and ruin on all levels. ... Seven years have passed and Christianity is still bleeding. Where is the world's conscience? All the world stands and watches what is happening in Iraq, especially with regard to Christians. We want to sound the alarm. We ask this question of the great powers: is it true that there is a plan to empty the Middle East of Christians and that Iraq is one of the victims? I think this Synod should study this subject carefully and should see what can be put down in writing in order to reach a solution for the situation existing in the Middle East".

ARCHBISHOP DENYS ANTOINE CHAHDA OF ALEP, BEROEA, HALAB OF THE SYRIANS, SYRIA. "Christ asks all the baptised to be united, just as He and His Father are One. ... He wanted their unity to be a sign for the nations and 'Signum inter Gentes', a light attracting mankind to His Father and inviting them to believe in Him. Indeed, the division in the Church is an act of unfaithfulness to her founder and a scandal for those who do not believe in Jesus. I feel that what separates us from our Orthodox brothers is the understanding of the Primacy of Peter. It is up to the theologians to find a new interpretation. Why not achieve unity in faith, but in diversity? The Synod of Jerusalem in the year 49 could be the key to finding a solution to the division of the Churches".

 

TENTH GENERAL CONGREGATION

VATICAN CITY, 16 OCT 2010 (VIS) - The Tenth General Congregation of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops was held this morning in the Vatican's Synod Hall. During the session, the draft of the final message was presented and discussed, and a first round of voting took place for members of the Special Council for the Middle East of the General Secretariat of the Synod. The president delegate on duty was His Beatitude Ignace Youssif III Younan, Patriarch of Antioch of the Syrians, Lebanon.

 

ELEVENTH GENERAL CONGREGATION

VATICAN CITY, 18 OCT 2010 (VIS) - The Eleventh General Congregation of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops was held this morning in the Synod Hall in the presence of the Holy Father. The sitting was dedicated to the presentation of the "Relatio post disceptationem" (report after the discussion), and the president delegate on duty was Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches.

  The "Relatio post disceptationem" was delivered by His Beatitude Antonios Naguib, Patriarch of Alexandria of the Copts, Egypt. Extracts from the document are given below:

THE SITUATION OF CHRISTIANS IN THE MIDDLE EAST

  "The proclamation of the Gospel and the proclamation of Christ to all peoples is the supreme duty of our Churches and all Churches. Our Churches need to reawaken our missionary zeal and to renew in us the meaning, significance, ardour, enthusiasm and dynamism of our being missionary. ... Missionary formation is necessary for our faithful, especially those in leadership positions in the life of the Church".

  "Religion must not be politicised nor the State take precedence over religion. ... Modern media (texts, website, internet, television, radio) have an important place in this field. They provide a powerful and valuable means for spreading the Christian message, for meeting the challenges it faces, and for communicating with the faithful of the diaspora. People in key positions need formation to achieve these ends. Eastern Christians must commit themselves to working for the common good, in all its aspects, as they have always done".

  "The socio-political situations in our countries have a direct impact on Christians, who feel their negative consequences more strongly. While condemning the 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 current situation encourages fundamentalism. We also call upon the political world to pay sufficient attention to the tragic situation of Christians in Iraq who are the main victims of the war and its effects".

  "Religious freedom is an essential component of human rights. The lack of religious freedom is most often associated with deprivation of fundamental rights. Freedom of worship is an aspect of religious freedom. In most of our countries freedom of worship is guaranteed by the constitution. But even then, in some countries, certain acts or practices limit its application. ... Religious freedom is not a relativism that treats all faiths equally. Rather it is the result of the duty of every person to adhere to the truth by a firm choice of conscience, while respecting the dignity of each person. ... Religious freedom also includes the right to confess one's faith, which is a right and duty for every religion".

  "One of the major challenges threatening the presence of Christians in some countries in the Middle East is emigration. ... The main causes of this troubling phenomenon are economic and political situations, the rise of fundamentalism, and the restriction of freedoms and equality, strongly exacerbated by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the war in Iraq. ... Emigration is a natural right which falls to the free choice of individuals and families, especially those living in harsh conditions. But the Church has the duty to encourage her faithful to remain as witnesses, apostles and builders of peace and wellbeing in their countries".

  "The danger threatening Christians in the Middle East comes not only from their minority status, or external threats, but above all from their being distanced from the truth of the Gospel, from their faith and their mission. This divided life is more dangerous to Christianity than any other threat. The true tragedy of man is not when he suffers because of his mission, but when he no longer has a mission and thereby loses the meaning and purpose of his life".

ECCLESIAL COMMUNION

  "We need a better appreciation, understanding and experience of the unity of the Church. It is essential that we teach the Church as a 'communion' in catechesis, homilies, and in the formation of clergy, religious and laity. Communion must first be affective before becoming effective. It is important for us to cultivate a deep sense of spiritual communion, of belonging to one and the same Church".

  "'Communion' among Churches is the first goal and first task of this Synod. ... Pastors must help the faithful to know, appreciate, love and live the beautiful variety of the Church in unity. ... Inter-ecclesial relations must be encouraged, not only among the 'sui iuris' Churches in the Middle East, but also with the Eastern Churches and with the Latin Church in the diaspora, in close unity with the Holy Father, the Holy See and pontifical representatives".

  "It is of vital importance to appreciate the role of lay men and women and their participation in the life and mission of the Church. In order for this Synod to become, for them and for the entire Church, a true spiritual, pastoral and social springtime, we need to reinforce the commitment of the laity to the joint pastoral work of the Church. Women, both consecrated and lay, need to find their proper place and mission in this field".

  "Mission and ecumenism are closely linked. The Catholic and Orthodox Churches have much in common. ... A sincere effort is necessary to overcome prejudices, to better understand one another, and to aim for the fullness of communion in the faith, the Sacraments and hierarchical service. This Synod should help towards further communion and unity with our sister Orthodox Churches and the ecclesial communities".

  "It has been pointed out that ecumenism is going through a crisis today. ... It is vital to make ecumenism a primary goal in episcopal meetings and conferences. The creation of an ecumenical commission in the Council of Eastern Catholic Patriarchs has been proposed. The media should be used to reinforce and vivify ecumenism".

CHRISTIAN WITNESS. WITNESSES OF RESURRECTION AND LOVE

"We must encourage all the faithful, but especially priests, religious, consecrated persons and those responsible for pastoral activity and the apostolate to follow the Church's teachings and to study the documents of the Magisterium".

  "Special attention must be given to the family, which risks being torn apart and undermined by Western relativism and the predominantly non-Christian outlook in our region. Families of mixed religions must be the subject of special pastoral care. The catechetical manuals must make up for shortcomings and correct errors which are to be found elsewhere".

  "It was suggested that a commission be formed for the vitalisation and co-ordination of the communications media in the Middle East. ... The media and communication are a powerful means to consolidate communion".

  "In our Eastern Churches, the divine liturgy is the centre of religious life. It has an important role in safeguarding Christian identity, in strengthening membership of the Church and in animating the life of faith. We must preserve and cultivate the sense of the sacred, of symbols and of popular religiosity, which needs to be purified and deepened".

  "The Israeli-Palestinian conflict affects relations between Christians and Jews. The Holy See has clearly and repeatedly expressed its position, appealing for both peoples to be able to live in peace, each in its own homeland, with secure and internationally recognised borders. ... Our Churches reject anti-Semitism and anti-Judaism".

  "For a fruitful dialogue, Christians and Muslims must know one another better. ... Numerous initiatives prove that it is possible to come together and work on the basis of shared values (peace, solidarity, non-violence). ... The Eastern Churches are the most qualified to promote inter-religious dialogue with Islam. This duty is theirs because of their history, their presence and their mission. ... It is necessary to avoid any provocative, offensive, humiliating action and any anti-Islamic attitude. To be authentic, dialogue must take place in truth".

  "The West tends to be identified with Christianity and the choices of States are often attributed to the Church. In reality, however, the governments of the West are secular and increasingly opposed to the Christian faith. It is important to explain this reality as well as the positive significance of the secular State, which distinguishes politics from religion. Within this context Christians have an obligation and a mission to live out Gospel values. ... It is by our lives that we must testify constantly, without syncretism or relativism, but with humility, respect, sincerity, and love".

CONCLUSION

  "What does the future hold for Christians in the Middle East? 'Do not be afraid, O little flock!'".

  "Together we must work to prepare a new dawn for the Middle East. We are strengthened by the prayers, understanding and love of our brothers and sisters around the world. We are not alone. This Synod has made that very clear".

 

HOLY FATHER MEETS WITH POLISH PRESIDENT

VATICAN CITY, 16 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 Bronislaw Komorowski, president of the Republic of Poland. The President 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 began by recalling the felicitous coincidence of the president's visit with the thirty-second anniversary of the election to the papacy of Servant of God Pope John Paul II. Attention then turned to the importance of dialogue between Church and State, each according to its own competencies, for the promotion of the common good. The parties expressed their mutual desire to continue effective co-operation in areas of joint interest - for example, in education and in promoting the fundamental values of society - and emphasis was given to the importance of defending human life in all its stages. The meeting closed with an exchange of opinions on the current situation in Europe".

 

CONCERT BY ENOCH ZU GUTTENBERG IN HONOUR OF THE POPE

VATICAN CITY, 16 OCT 2010 (VIS) - This evening in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall, Benedict XVI and the Synod Fathers attended a concert given in the Pope's honour by the composer Enoch zu Guttenberg. He conducted the Klang Verwaltung orchestra and the Neubeuern choir in Giuseppe Verdi's Requiem Mass.

  At the end of the concert the Holy Father arose to address some remarks to those present.

  "Giuseppe Verdi", he said, "spent his life scrutinising the heart of man, and in his works he highlighted the drama of the human condition. ... His theatre is full of unhappy souls, of the persecuted, of victims. This tragic vision of human destiny is echoed in many parts of his Requiem Mass, where we touch the inescapable reality of death and the fundamental question of the transcendent world".

  Verdi, "who in a famous letter to the publisher Ricordi, defined himself as being 'a bit atheist', wrote this Mass which seems to like a great appeal to the Eternal Father, an attempt to overcome the cry of desperation in the face of death, to rediscover the breath of life which becomes the silent and heartfelt prayer: 'Libera me, Domine'".

  "This 'musical cathedral'", the Pope concluded, "thus appears as a description of the spiritual drama of man before Almighty God, of man who cannot escape the eternal question concerning his own existence".

 

BENEDICT XVI CANONISES SIX BLESSEDS

VATICAN CITY, 17 OCT 2010 (VIS) - At 10 a.m. today Benedict XVI celebrated the Eucharist in the atrium of the Vatican Basilica, and canonised the following six blesseds: Stanislao Soltys, called Kazimierczyk, Polish professed religious of the Order of Canons Regular Lateranense (1433-1489); Andre Bessette (ne Alfred), Canadian professed religious of the Congregation of the Holy Cross (1845-1937); Candida Maria de Jesus Cipitria y Barriola (nee Juana Josefa), Spanish founder of the Congregation of the Daughters of Jesus (1845-1912); Mary of the Cross MacKillop (nee Mary Helen), Australian founder of the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart (1842-1909); Giulia Salzano, Italian founder of the Congregation of Sisters Catechists of the Sacred Heart (1846-1929), and Battista da Varano (nee Camilla), professed nun of the Order of Poor Clares (1458-1524).

  At the beginning of his homily the Pope explained how "this Sunday's liturgy offers us a fundamental teaching: the importance of ceaseless prayer. Sometimes we get tired of praying, we have the impression that prayer is not very useful in life, that it is not terribly effective. So we are tempted to dedicate ourselves to activity, to using human means to achieve our aims, without turning to God. However, Jesus affirms that we must always pray".

  "Faith is essential as the basis for prayerful behaviour", said the Holy Father, noting that "this was the approach of the six new saints who today are being proposed for veneration by the Universal Church".

  On the subject of the Polish Stanislao Kazimierczyk, recalled how "his entire life was tied to the Eucharist", particularly "through his ardent love for Christ present in the species of bread and wine" and "through love for others, of which Communion is the source and the sign".

  Andre Bessette from the Canadian city of Quebec was "doorman at the Notre Dame College in Montreal, where he showed boundless charity and did everything possible to soothe the despair of those who confided in him", said the Pope. "He was witness to many healings and conversions. ... For him, everything spoke of God and His presence. May we, following his example, search for God with simplicity to discover Him always present at the centre of our lives".

  On the subject of the Spanish Candida Maria de Jesus Cipitria y Barriola, Benedict XVI highlighted how "she lived for God and for what He most loves: to reach all people and bring them the hope that does not waver, especially those who need Him most. ... Though possessing few resources, she managed to inspire other sisters to follow Jesus and dedicate themselves to teaching and to the promotion of women. This is how the Congregation of the Daughters of Jesus was founded, which today sees in its founder a model of sublime life to be imitated, and a mission to be continued in the many countries already reached by the spirit and apostolic zeal of Mother Candida".

  Mother Mary MackKillop, the first Australian saint, "dedicated herself as a young woman to the education of the poor in the difficult and demanding terrain of rural Australia. ... She attended to the needs of each young person entrusted to her, without regard for social position or wealth, providing both intellectual and spiritual formation. Despite many challenges, her prayers to St. Joseph and her unflagging devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, to whom she dedicated her new congregation, gave this holy woman the graces she needed to remain faithful to God and the Church. Through her intercession, may her followers today continue to serve God and the Church with faith and humility".

  Giulia Salzano "well understood the importance of catechesis in the Church and, uniting educational skill to spiritual zeal, she dedicated herself to this with generosity and intelligence, contributing to the formation of people of every age and social class. She repeated to her fellow sisters that she wanted to teach catechism until the last hour of her life, showing with her whole being that if 'God created us to know, love and serve Him in this life', nothing should take precedence over that task. May the example and intercession of St. Giulia Salzano sustain the Church in her perennial task of proclaiming Christ and forming authentic Christian consciences".

  The Pope concluded his homily by referring to Battista Camilla da Varano, who "bore profound witness to the evangelical significance of life, especially by her perseverance in prayer. ... Completely immersed in the depths of the divine, hers was a constant ascent along the path of perfection, demonstrating heroic love for God and neighbour. Her journey was marked by great sufferings and mystical consolations, for she had in fact decided, as she herself wrote, 'to enter into the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus and to drown in the ocean of His most bitter sufferings'. In an age in which the Church was experiencing a relaxation of customs, she decisively followed the way of penitence and prayer, animated by the ardent desire for renewal of the Mystical Body of Christ".

 

ANGELUS: SAINTS ARE THE LIVING IMAGE OF GOD'S LOVE

VATICAN CITY, 17 OCT 2010 (VIS) - Following Mass this morning, during which he canonised Stanislao Soltys, Andre Bessette, Candida Maria de Jesus Cipitria y Barriola, Mary of the Cross MacKillop, Giulia Salzano and Battista da Varano, the Holy Father prayed the Angelus with thousands of faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.

  Addressing French-speaking pilgrims, the Pope encouraged them to follow in the footsteps of St. Andre Bessette, "in order to accept freely and lovingly the will of God in your lives", and to show the same charity that the new saint showed "towards your brothers and sisters who are suffering hardship".

  Speaking English he then called for the example of St. Andre Bessette and St. Mary MacKillop to inspire people "by the example of their holy lives". Saints, he said to German faithful, "are the living image of God's love, ... models to follow and advocates for our lives as Christians".

  Speaking Spanish he entrusted the Congregation of the Daughters of Jesus to the intercession of their founder, St. Candida Maria de Jesus Cipitria y Barriola, and expressed the hope that young people "may increasingly welcome the Lord's call and commit their lives entirely to proclaiming the greatness of His love".

  "From Stanislao Soltys (called Kazimierczyk)", said the Pope in Polish, "we learn the spirit of prayer, of contemplation and of sacrifice for others. May he always maintain the Church in Poland in the presence of the Lord".

  Finally, the Holy Father greeted Italian pilgrims celebrating the canonisation of Sts. Battista da Varano and Giulia Salzano. He reminded them that today marks the closure of the forty-sixth Social Week of Italian Catholics, and expressed the hope that "the search for the common good may always be the firm foundation for the commitment of Catholics in social and political activities".

 

THE CATHOLIC CHURCH HAS LEFT INDELIBLE TRACES IN COLOMBIA

VATICAN CITY, 18 OCT 2010 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican, the Holy Father received the Letters of Credence of Cesar Mauricio Velasquez Ossa, the new ambassador of Colombia to the Holy See.

  The Pope recalled that the new ambassador is beginning his mission to the Holy See "at a time of particular significance for Colombia: the commemoration of the bicentennial of the beginning of the process that led to independence and the constitution of the republic". He stated that, "not only during these last two centuries but from the dawn of the arrival of Spanish in America, the Catholic Church has been present in each of the stages of the historical destiny of your country, always playing a major and decisive role". This "selfless work ... has left indelible traces in various areas of your country, such as culture, art, healthcare, social cohesion, and peace-building".

  "The Church in Colombia does not demand any special privileges in this rewarding task," the Holy Father stressed. "She yearns only to serve the faithful and all those who open their hearts to her, ... ever ready to support anything that promotes education of new generations, care of the sick and elderly, respect for indigenous peoples and their legitimate traditions, eradication of poverty, drug trafficking, and corruption, care of prisoners, displaced persons, and migrant workers, as well as assistance to needy families. In effect, this means continuing to co-operate faithfully for the integral growth of the communities in which pastors, religious, and faithful carry out their service, motivated only by the demands that stem from their priestly ordination, their religious consecration, or their Christian vocation".

  "In this context of mutual co-operation and friendly relations between the Holy See and the Republic of Colombia, ... once again I wish to express the Church's interest in protecting and fostering the inviolable dignity of human beings, to which end it is essential that the legal system should respect natural law in such essential areas as safeguarding human life from conception to natural end, the right to be born and to live in a family founded on marriage between a man and a woman, or the right of parents to give their children an education consistent with their own moral criteria and beliefs. All of these are irreplaceable pillars in building a society that is truly worthy of humanity and our fundamental values".

  "In this solemn meeting", the Pope concluded, "I would also like to express my spiritual closeness and the assurance of my prayers for those in Colombia who have been unjustly and cruelly deprived of their freedom. I also pray for their families and, in general, for the victims of violence in all its forms, asking God that so much suffering be ended and that all Colombians may live in reconciliation and peace in that blessed land, so filled with natural resources, ... which must be preserved as a magnificent gift from the Creator".

 

EL SALVADOR: EVANGELISATION, AN INCENTIVE AGAINST VIOLENCE

VATICAN CITY, 18 OCT 2010 (VIS) - "The ties binding the faithful people of El Salvador to the Chair of the Prince of the Apostles are proof of a noble tradition and cannot be separated from the history and customs of that blessed land", the Holy Father said this morning to Manuel Roberto Lopez Becerra, El Salvador's new ambassador to the Holy See.

  "Within her own specific field of competence and with independence and freedom, the Church in El Salvador seeks to promote the public good in all dimensions, and to foster the conditions that enable men and women to develop fully. ... Evangelising and bearing witness to love for God and for all persons without exception becomes an effective element in eradicating poverty and is a vigorous incentive to fight against violence, impunity, and drug trafficking, which are wreaking such havoc, especially among youth. ... The ecclesial community also finds itself continuously called upon when so many people are in need of adequate housing and employment, ... and are being force to emigrate from the country. Similarly, it would be strange if the disciples of Christ remained neutral to the aggressive presence of sects, which seem to offer an easy and convenient religious response, but which are actually undermining the culture and customs that have shaped the Salvadoran identity for centuries, obscuring the beauty of the Gospel message and tearing apart the unity of the faithful".

  "It is consoling", the Pope noted, "to behold your country's efforts to construct an increasingly harmonious and supportive society as it advances along the path opened by the 1992 agreements, which put an end to the long and destructive internal conflict suffered by El Salvador - a land of great natural riches that speak eloquently of God and that must be earnestly preserved and protected in order to bequeath them in all their vitality to new generations. The Salvadoran people, with their spirit of sacrifice and hear work, will find great joy if the peace process is seen to be daily confirmed".

  "In this regard, I ask the Almighty ... that your compatriots be given whatever aid necessary to renounce the causes of conflict definitively, replacing enmity with mutual understanding and ensuring protection for people and their belongings. In order to achieve these goal, people must be convinced that nothing is to be gained by violence, indeed that everything is worsened because violence is a dead end. ... By contrast, peace is the yearning of every human being who takes pride in that name. As a gift of the Divine Saviour, it is also a task in which everyone should co-operate unhesitatingly, finding strong support in the State through legal, economic, and social provisions as well as proper police and security forces to ensure people's welfare in accordance with the law".

  "In this struggle", Benedict XVI concluded, "they will always find the outstretched hand of the children of the Church, whom I exhort that, with their witness as disciples and missionaries of Christ, they may increasingly identify with Him, asking Him to make every Salvadoran an architect of reconciliation".

 

LETTER TO SEMINARIANS OF BENEDICT XVI

VATICAN CITY, 18 OCT 2010 (VIS) - Given below are ample extracts from the English-language version of a Letter to Seminarians, written by the Pope to mark the end of the Year for Priests and dated 18 October.

  "When in December 1944 I was drafted for military service, the company commander asked each of us what we planned to do in the future. I answered that I wanted to become a Catholic priest. The lieutenant replied: 'Then you ought to look for something else. In the new Germany priests are no longer needed'. I knew that this 'new Germany' was already coming to an end, and that, after the enormous devastation which that madness had brought upon the country, priests would be needed more than ever. Today the situation is completely changed. In different ways, though, many people nowadays also think that the Catholic priesthood is not a 'job' for the future, but one that belongs more to the past. You, dear friends, have decided to enter the seminary and to prepare for priestly ministry in the Catholic Church in spite of such opinions and objections. You have done a good thing. Because people will always have need of God, even in an age marked by technical mastery of the world and globalisation: they will always need the God Who has revealed Himself in Jesus Christ, the God Who gathers us together in the universal Church in order to learn with Him and through Him life's true meaning and in order to uphold and apply the standards of true humanity. Where people no longer perceive God, life grows empty; nothing is ever enough".

  "In this letter I would like to point out - thinking back to my own time in the seminary - several elements which I consider important for these years of your journeying.

  "(1) Anyone who wishes to become a priest must be first and foremost a 'man of God', to use the expression of St. Paul. For us God is not some abstract hypothesis. ... God has revealed Himself in Jesus Christ. ... It follows that the most important thing in our path towards priesthood and during the whole of our priestly lives is our personal relationship with God in Jesus Christ. The priest is not the leader of a sort of association whose membership he tries to maintain and expand. He is God's messenger to His people. He wants to lead them to God and in this way to foster authentic communion between all men and women. That is why it is so important, dear friends, that you learn to live in constant intimacy with God. When the Lord tells us to 'pray constantly', He is obviously not asking us to recite endless prayers, but urging us never to lose our inner closeness to God".

  "(2) For us God is not simply Word. In the Sacraments He gives Himself to us in person, through physical realities. At the heart of our relationship with God and our way of life is the Eucharist. Celebrating it devoutly, and thus encountering Christ personally, should be the centre of all our days. ... In the liturgy we pray with the faithful of every age - the past, the present and the future are joined in one great chorus of prayer. As I can state from personal experience, it is inspiring to learn how it all developed, what a great experience of faith is reflected in the structure of the Mass, and how it has been shaped by the prayer of many generations.

  (3) "The Sacrament of Penance is also important. It teaches me to see myself as God sees me, and it forces me to be honest with myself. ... Even when we have to struggle continually with the same failings, it is important to resist the coarsening of our souls and the indifference which would simply accept that this is the way we are. ... Moreover, by letting myself be forgiven, I learn to forgive others. In recognising my own weakness, I grow more tolerant and understanding of the failings of my neighbour.

  "(4) I urge you to retain an appreciation for popular piety, which is different in every culture yet always remains very similar, for the human heart is ultimately one and the same. Certainly, popular piety tends towards the irrational, and can at times be somewhat superficial. Yet it would be quite wrong to dismiss it. Through that piety, the faith has entered human hearts and become part of the common patrimony of sentiments and customs, shaping the life and emotions of the community".

  "(5) Above all, your time in the seminary is also a time of study. The Christian faith has an essentially rational and intellectual dimension. Were it to lack that dimension, it would not be itself. ... I can only plead with you: Be committed to your studies! ... The point is not simply to learn evidently useful things, but to understand and appreciate the internal structure of the faith as a whole, so that it can become a response to people's questions, which on the surface change from one generation to another yet ultimately remain the same. For this reason it is important to move beyond the changing questions of the moment in order to grasp the real questions, and so to understand how the answers are real answers. It is important to have a thorough knowledge of Sacred Scripture as a whole, in its unity as the Old and the New Testaments. ... It is important to be familiar with the Fathers and the great Councils in which the Church appropriated, through faith-filled reflection, the essential statements of Scripture. ... I do not need to point out the importance of knowing the essential issues of moral theology and Catholic social teaching. The importance nowadays of ecumenical theology, and of a knowledge of the different Christian communities, is obvious. ... But you should also learn to understand and - dare I say it - to love canon law, appreciating how necessary it is and valuing its practical applications. ... I will not go on with this list, but I simply say once more: love the study of theology and carry it out in the clear realisation that theology is anchored in the living community of the Church, which, with her authority, is not the antithesis of theological science but its presupposition. Cut off from the believing Church, theology would cease to be itself and instead it would become a medley of different disciplines lacking inner unity.

  "(6) Your years in the seminary should also be a time of growth towards human maturity. It is important for the priest, who is called to accompany others through the journey of life up to the threshold of death, to have the right balance of heart and mind, reason and feeling, body and soul, and to be humanly integrated. ... This also involves the integration of sexuality into the whole personality. Sexuality is a gift of the Creator yet it is also a task which relates to a person's growth towards human maturity. When it is not integrated within the person, sexuality becomes banal and destructive. Today we can see many examples of this in our society. Recently we have seen with great dismay that some priests disfigured their ministry by sexually abusing children and young people. Instead of guiding people to greater human maturity and setting them an example, their abusive behaviour caused great damage for which we feel profound shame and regret. As a result of all this, many people, perhaps even some of you, might ask whether it is good to become a priest; whether the choice of celibacy makes any sense as a truly human way of life. Yet even the most reprehensible abuse cannot discredit the priestly mission, which remains great and pure. Thank God, all of us know exemplary priests, men shaped by their faith, who bear witness that one can attain to an authentic, pure and mature humanity in this state and specifically in the life of celibacy. Admittedly, what has happened should make us all the more watchful and attentive, precisely in order to examine ourselves earnestly, before God, as we make our way towards priesthood, so as to understand whether this is his will for me. It is the responsibility of your confessor and your superiors to accompany you and help you along this path of discernment".

  "(7) The origins of a priestly vocation are nowadays more varied and disparate than in the past. Today the decision to become a priest often takes shape after one has already entered upon a secular profession. Often it grows within the communities, particularly within the movements, which favour a communal encounter with Christ and His Church, spiritual experiences and joy in the service of the faith. It also matures in very personal encounters with the nobility and the wretchedness of human existence. ... The movements are a magnificent thing. You know how much I esteem them and love them as a gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church. Yet they must be evaluated by their openness to what is truly Catholic, to the life of the whole Church of Christ, which for all her variety still remains one. The seminary is a time when you learn with one another and from one another. In community life, which can at times be difficult, you should learn generosity and tolerance, not only bearing with, but also enriching one another. .. This school of tolerance, indeed, of mutual acceptance and mutual understanding in the unity of Christ's Body, is an important part of your years in the seminary.

  "Dear seminarians, with these few lines I have wanted to let you know how often I think of you, especially in these difficult times, and how close I am to you in prayer. Please pray for me, that I may exercise my ministry well, as long as the Lord may wish".

 

AUDIENCES

VATICAN CITY, 18 OCT 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, archbishop of Genoa, Italy and president of the Italian Episcopal Conference.

  On Saturday 16 October he received in separate audiences:

 - Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, archbishop of Krakow, Poland, accompanied by Jozef Michalik of Przemysl of the Latins, president of the Polish Episcopal Conference; Bishop Stanislaw Budzik, auxiliary of Tarnow and secretary general of the Polish Episcopal Conference, and Archbishop Kazimierz Nycz of Warsaw.

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

 

OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS

VATICAN CITY, 18 OCT 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Accepted the resignation from the office of auxiliary of the archdiocese of Milwaukee, U.S.A., presented by Bishop Richard J. Sklba, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Dom Diego Gualtiero Rosa O.S.B., abbot of the monastery of S. Maria del Pilastrello in Lendinara, Italy, as abbot of the territorial abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore (area 49, population 495, Catholics 495, priests 15, religious 30), Italy. He succeeds Dom Michelangelo Riccardo Tiribilli, O.S.B., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same territorial abbey the Holy Father accepted, in accordance with the statues of the Benedictine Olivetan Congregation.

  On Saturday 16 October it was made public that he appointed:

 - Fr. Jaime Rafael Fuentes, teacher at the "Mons. Mariano Soler" Faculty of Theology of Uruguay, as bishop of Minas (area 17,776, population 76,100, Catholics 69,900, priests 17, permanent deacons 1, religious 12), Uruguay. The bishop-elect was born in Montevideo, Uruguay in 1945 and ordained a priest in 1973.

 - As members of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace; Cardinal Marc Ouellet P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops; Archbishop Angelo Amato S.D.B., perfect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, and Archbishop Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

 - Fr. Massimo Palombella S.D.B., professor at Rome's Pontifical Salesian University and founder and director of the Inter-University Choir of Rome, as director of the Pontifical Choir.

Local site Links: