October 25, 2010

Vatican Information Service Bulletin

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




VATICAN CITY, 23 OCT 2010 (VIS) - During yesterday's Thirteenth General Congregation of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops, the Synod Father's approved their Final Message.

  Extracts from the English-language version of the Message are given below:


  "The first Christian community was born in the Middle East. From there, the Apostles after Pentecost went out to evangelise the whole world. ... We are now at a turning point in our history: The God Who gave us the faith in our Eastern lands 2000 years ago, calls us today to persevere with courage, strength and steadfastness in bearing the message of Christ and witnessing to His Gospel, the Gospel of love and peace".

  "Today we face many challenges. ... What Christ asks from our Churches is to strengthen communion within every 'sui iuris' Church, and between the Catholic Churches of different traditions, and to exert every effort in prayer and charitable acts in order to attain the full unity of all Christians".

  "We have evaluated the social situation and the public security in all our countries in the Middle East. We have taken account of the impact of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the whole region, especially on the Palestinians who are suffering the consequences of the Israeli occupation: the lack of freedom of movement, the wall of separation and the military checkpoints, the political prisoners, the demolition of homes, the disturbance of socio-economic life and the thousands of refugees. We have reflected on the suffering and insecurity in which Israelis live. We have meditated on the situation of the holy city of Jerusalem. We are anxious about the unilateral initiatives that threaten its composition and risk changing its demographic balance. With all this in mind, we see that a just and lasting peace is the only salvation for everyone and for the good of the region and its peoples.

  "In our meetings and our prayers we reflected on the keen sufferings of the Iraqi people. We recalled the Christians killed in Iraq, the continued suffering of the Church in Iraq, and her children who have been displaced and dispersed throughout the world, taking their concerns for their country and their homeland with them.

  "The Synod Fathers expressed their solidarity with the people and the Churches in Iraq expressing the hope that the emigrants, forced to leave their own country, might find in their host countries the support necessary to be able to return to their homeland and live in security".

  "Our mission, based on our faith and our duty towards our homeland, obliges us to contribute to the construction of our countries together with all citizens, Muslims, Jews and Christians alike".


  "We wish to greet you, Christians of the Middle East, and thank you for all you have achieved in your families and societies, in your Churches and nations. We commend you for your perseverance in times of adversity, suffering and anguish".

  "Those of you who suffer in body, in soul and spirit, the oppressed, those forced from your homes, the persecuted, prisoners and detainees, we carry you all in our prayers. Unite your sufferings to those of Christ the Redeemer and seek patience and strength in His cross. By the merit of your sufferings, you gain God's merciful love".

  "We now wish to address the women of our Churches. To you we express our appreciation for what you are in the various states of your life: girls, mothers, educators, consecrated women and those engaged in public life. We honour you because you harbour human life within you from its very beginnings. ... God has given you particular sensibility for everything pertaining to education, humanitarian work and apostolic life. We give thanks to God for your activities and we hope that you will be able to exercise greater responsibility in public life".

  "Young women and men, ... plan your life under the loving gaze of Christ. Be responsible citizens and sincere believers. The Church joins you in your desire to find work commensurate with your talents. ... Overcome the temptation of materialism and consumerism. Be strong in your Christian values".

  "We appreciate the role of the communications media, both printed and audio-visual. ... With regard to the Middle East, 'Tele Lumiere-Noursat' merits a special mention. We hope it will be able to continue its service of providing information and education in the faith, working for Christian unity, consolidating the Christian presence in the Middle East, strengthening inter-religious dialogue and the communion of all peoples of Middle Eastern origin all over the world".

  "To our faithful in the diaspora, ... you the children of our Churches and our countries who have been forced to emigrate, we accompany you with our prayers. ... Look to the future with confidence and joy. Hold fast to your spiritual values, to your cultural traditions and to your national heritage, in order to give your host countries the best of yourselves and the best of what you have. We thank the Churches of the countries of the diaspora which have received our faithful and unceasingly collaborate with us to ensure they receive the necessary pastoral care".

  "We send our greetings to all immigrants of various nationalities, who have come to our countries seeking employment. ... We ask our Churches to pay special attention to these brothers and sisters and their difficulties, whatever their religion, especially when their rights and dignity are subject to abuse. ... This is why we call upon the governments of host countries to respect and defend their rights".


  "We share the same journey. Our challenges are the same and our future is the same. We wish to bear witness together as disciples of Christ. Only through our unity can we accomplish the mission that God has entrusted to us, despite the differences among our Churches. ... We acknowledge and encourage all initiatives for ecumenical dialogue in each of our countries".


  "The same Sacred Scriptures unite us: the Old Testament, which is the Word of God for both you and us. ... Vatican Council II published the document 'Nostra aetate' which concerns inter-religious dialogue with Judaism, Islam and the other religions. ... Ongoing dialogue is taking place between the Church and representatives of Judaism. We hope that this dialogue can bring us to work together to press those in authority to put an end to the political conflict which continues to divide us and to disrupt daily life in our countries".


  "We are united by faith in the one God and by the commandment that says: do good and avoid evil. ... Together we will construct our civil societies on the basis of citizenship, religious freedom and freedom of conscience. Together we will work for the promotion of justice, peace, the rights of persons and the values of life and of the family. The construction of our countries is our shared responsibility. ... Our duty, then, is to educate believers in inter-religious dialogue, in the acceptance of pluralism and mutual esteem".


  "We address you concerning the importance of equality among all citizens. Christians are original and authentic citizens, loyal to their homeland and to their national duties and obligations. It is natural that they should enjoy all the rights of citizenship, freedom of conscience, freedom of worship, freedom of education and teaching, and access to the communications media. We appeal to you to redouble your efforts to establish a just and lasting peace throughout the region and to stop the arms race. This will lead to security and economic prosperity and stop the haemorrhage of emigration which empties our countries of its living resources".


  "The citizens of the countries of the Middle East call upon the international community, particularly the United Nations, to work conscientiously to find a peaceful, just and definitive solution in the region, by applying Security Council resolutions and taking the necessary legal steps to put an end to the occupation of various Arab territories.

  "The Palestinian people will thus have an independent and sovereign homeland where they can live with dignity and security. The State of Israel will be able to enjoy peace and security within internationally recognised borders. The Holy City of Jerusalem will be able to acquire its proper status, which respects its particular character, its holiness and the religious heritage of the three religions: Jewish, Christian and Muslim. We hope that the two-State-solution will become a reality and not just a dream.

  "Iraq will be able to put an end to the consequences of a deadly war and re-establish security, something which will protect all its citizens with all their social, religious and national structures.

  "Lebanon will be able to enjoy sovereignty over its entire territory, strengthen its national unity and continue its vocation as a model of coexistence between Christians and Muslims, through dialogue between different cultures and religions, and the promotion of basic public freedoms.

  "We condemn violence and terrorism from wherever it may proceed as well as all religious extremism. We condemn all forms of racism, anti-Semitism, anti-Christianism and Islamophobia and we call upon religions to assume their responsibility to promote dialogue between cultures and civilisations in our region and in the entire world".


  "Brothers and sisters, in closing, we say with St. John the Apostle: ... 'This life was revealed, and we have seen it and testify to it, and declare to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us - we declare to you what we have seen and heard so that you also may have fellowship with us'. ... This Divine Life ... will always remain the life of our Churches in the Middle East and the object of our witness, sustained by the promise of the Lord: 'Remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age'. Together we proceed on our journey with hope".

  "We confess that thus far we have not done everything in our power to experience better communion in our communities. We have not done everything possible to confirm you in your faith and to give you the spiritual nourishment you need in your difficulties. The Lord invites us to conversion as individuals and communities. Today we return to you full of hope, strength and resolution, bringing the message of the Synod and its recommendations, that we might study them together and put them into practice in our Churches, each according to its state. We hope also that this new effort may be an ecumenical effort".



VATICAN CITY, 23 OCT 2010 (VIS) - During today's Fourteenth General Congregation of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops, held this morning in the presence of the Pope and 162 Synod Fathers, the final list of propositions was presented and voted upon.

  Subsequently the names of the members of the Special Council for the Middle East of the Secretariat General of the Synod of Bishops were announced. They are:

 - Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue.
 - Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches.
 - His Beatitude Antonios Naguib, Patriarch of Alexandria of the Copts, Egypt.
 - His Beatitude Ignace Youssif III Younan, Patriarch of Antioch of the Syrians, Lebanon.
 - His Beatitude Michel Sabbah, patriarch emeritus of Jerusalem of the Latins.
 - Archbishop Cyrille Salim Bustros M.S.S.P. of Newton of the Greek-Melkites, U.S.A.
 - Archbishop Boutros Marayati of Aleppo of the Armenians, Syria.
 - Archbishop Joseph Soueif of Cyprus of the Maronites, Cyprus.
 - Bishop Bechara Rai O.M.M. of Jbeil, Byblos of the Maronites, Lebanon.
 - Bishop Antoine Audo S.J. of Aleppo of the Chaldeans, Syria.
 - Bishop Shlemon Warduni, auxiliary of Babylonia of the Chaldeans, Iraq.



VATICAN CITY, 23 OCT 2010 (VIS) - The working sessions of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops concluded this morning with the approval of forty-four propositions which the Synod Fathers have presented to Benedict XVI.

  By order of the Pope, a provisional and unofficial version of the propositions has been made public by the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops. The propositions are given to the Holy Father for him to consider while preparing the Apostolic Exhortation, the official closing document of a Synod.

  The propositions are divided into three sections: The Christian Presence in the Middle East, Ecclesial Communion, and Christian Witnesses of the Resurrection and Love.

  The Synod Fathers recall how "in a world marked by division and extreme positions, we are called to live communion in the Church, remaining open to everyone and avoiding the trap of confessionalism". They also note that "the attention of the whole world should be focused on the tragic situation of certain Christian communities in the Middle East which suffer all manner of trials sometimes even to the point of martyrdom".

  On the subject of migration, they suggest creating "an office or commission entrusted with the study of the phenomenon ... and the factors behind it, so as to find ways of stopping it", and doing everything possible "to boost the presence of Christians in their own countries of origin".

  "To better welcome and guide immigrants to the Middle East", reads another proposition, "their Churches of origin are asked to maintain regular contact with the host Churches, assisting them to set up the structures the immigrants need".

  The section dedicated to the subject of ecclesial communion speaks of communion in the bosom of the Church and calls for greater pastoral care of vocations. It is also suggested that greater use be made "of the Arabic language in the major institutions of the Holy See and official meetings, so that Christians of Arab culture have access to information from the Holy See in their mother tongue".

  "With a view to the pastoral service of our faithful, wherever they are to be found, and to respect the traditions of the Eastern Churches", reads another proposition "it would be desirable to study the possibility of having married priests outside the patriarchal territory".

  The proposition dedicated to the question of ecumenism suggests "working for a common date for the celebrations of Christmas and Easter", and expresses the desire "to inaugurate an annual feast in common for all the martyrs of the Churches of the Middle East".

  In the section dedicated to Christian Witness, the Synod Fathers suggest "the creation of catechetical centres where they are lacking" and highlight the vital importance of "ongoing formation and collaboration between the different Churches at the level of the laity, seminaries and universities".

  Reiterating the importance of the communications media "for Christian formation in the Middle East, as well as for the proclamation of the faith", the Synod Fathers advocate "the aid and maintenance of the existing structures in this area".

  On the question of the family, they stress the need "to make better provisions in centres for marriage preparation, counselling and guidance centres, and in the spiritual and human guidance of young families. ... Child bearing and the good education of children should be encouraged. The practice of home visiting by pastors should be revived", they write.

  The Synod Fathers "commit themselves to ensure young people have the spiritual and theological formation they need" and "to build with them bridges of dialogue so as to bring down the walls of division and separation in societies".

  Inter-religious dialogue must be strengthened so as "to strive for the purification of memory through forgiveness for the events of the past, and to seek a better future together".

  "Initiatives of dialogue and co-operation with Jews are to be encouraged so as to foster human and religious values, freedom, justice, peace and fraternity. Reading the Old Testament and getting to know Jewish traditions lead to a better understanding of the Jewish religion. We reject anti-Semitism and anti-Judaism, while distinguishing between religion and politics", the Synod Fathers say.

  On the subject of relations with Muslims, the Synod Fathers highlight the importance of promoting "the notion of citizenship, the dignity of the human person, equal rights and duties and religious freedom, including both freedom of worship and freedom of conscience". They note how "Christians in the Middle East are called to pursue a fruitful dialogue of life with Muslims, ... leaving every negative prejudice aside, ... and together combating every sort of fundamentalism and violence in the name of religion".



VATICAN CITY, 24 OCT 2010 (VIS) - At 9.30 a.m. today in St. Peter's Basilica, Benedict XVI presided at the celebration of the Eucharist to mark the closure of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops, which has been held in the Vatican for the past fortnight on the theme: "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 Mass with 177 Synod Fathers (nineteen cardinals, nine patriarchs, seventy-two archbishops, sixty-seven bishops and ten priests) and sixty-nine collaborators.

  Participating in the Eucharistic prayer were His Beatitude Cardinal Nasrallah Pierre Sfeir, Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites, Lebanon, president delegate "ad honorem"; His Beatitude Cardinal Emmanuel III Delly, Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans, Iraq, president delegate "ad honorem"; Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, president delegate; His Beatitude Ignace Youssif III Younan, Patriarch of Antioch of the Syrians, Lebanon, president delegate; His Beatitude Antonios Naguib, Patriarch of Alexandria of the Copts, Egypt, relator general; Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, secretary general of the Synod of Bishops, and Archbishop Joseph Soueif of Cyprus of the Maronites, Cyprus, special secretary.

  In his homily, the Holy Father noted how today's first reading and responsorial psalm "stress the theme of prayer, emphasising that it is much more powerful in God's heart when those who pray suffer want and affliction. ... Our thoughts go to our many brothers and sisters who live in the region of the Middle East and who find themselves in trying situations, at times very burdensome, both because of material poverty and because of discouragement, tension and, sometimes, fear.

  "Today", Benedict XVI added, "the Word of God also offers us a light of consoling hope where it presents prayer, personified, that 'will not desist until the Most High responds and does justice for the righteous, and executes judgement'. This link between prayer and justice makes us think of many situations in the world, particularly in the Middle East. The cry of the poor and the oppressed finds an immediate echo in God, Who desires to intervene to create a way out, to restore a future of freedom, a horizon of hope".

  "The synodal assembly which concludes today always kept in mind the icon of the first Christian community described in the Acts of the Apostles: 'The whole group of believers was united, heart and soul'. This is a reality we experienced over these days, in which we shared the joys and pains, the concerns and hopes of Christians in the Middle East. We experienced the unity of the Church in the variety of Churches present in that region. ... Thus have we enhanced the liturgical, spiritual and theological wealth of the Eastern Catholic Churches, as well as of the Latin Church. ... We hope that this positive experience may be repeated in the various communities of the Middle East, encouraging the participation of the faithful in liturgical celebrations of other Catholic rites, thus opening themselves to the dimensions of the universal Church.

  "Joint prayer also helped us to face the challenges of the Catholic Church in the Middle East. One of these challenges is communion within each 'sui iuris' Church, as well as the relationships between the various Catholic Churches of different traditions. As today's Gospel reminded us, we need humility in order to recognise our limitations, our errors and omissions, in order to be able to be truly 'united, heart and soul' Fuller communion within the Catholic Church also favours ecumenical dialogue with other Churches and ecclesial communities. During this synodal assembly the Catholic Church has reiterated its profound desire to pursue such dialogue".

  "The words of the Lord Jesus may be applied to Christians in the Middle East: 'There is no need to be afraid, little flock, for it has pleased your Father to give you the kingdom'. Indeed, even if they are few, they are bearers of the Good News of the love of God for man, love which revealed itself in the Holy Land in the person of Jesus Christ. This Word of salvation, strengthened with the grace of the Sacraments, resounds with particular strength in the places where, by Divine Providence, it was written. It is the only Word able to break the vicious circle of vengeance, hate, and violence. From a purified heart, at peace with God and neighbour, arise intentions and initiatives for peace at the local, national, and international level. In these actions, to whose accomplishment the whole international community is called, Christians as full-fledged citizens can and must do their part in the spirit of the Beatitudes, becoming builders of peace and apostles of reconciliation for the benefit of all society".

  The Pope continued: "Conflicts, wars, violence and terrorism have gone on for too long in the Middle East. Peace, which is a gift of God, is also the result of the efforts of men of goodwill, of national and international institutions, in particular of the States most involved in the search for a solution to conflicts. We must never resign ourselves to the absence of peace. Peace is possible. Peace is urgent. Peace is the indispensable condition for a life of dignity for individuals and society. Peace is also the best remedy to avoid emigration from the Middle East".

  Another contribution Christians can make to society is to promote "authentic freedom of religion and conscience, one of the fundamental human rights that each State should always respect. In numerous countries of the Middle East there exists freedom of belief, while the space given to the freedom of religious practice is often quite limited. Increasing this space of freedom is essential in order to guarantee that all members of the various religious communities may enjoy the true freedom to live and profess their faith. This topic could become the subject of dialogue between Christians and Muslims, a dialogue whose urgency and usefulness was reiterated by the Synod Fathers".

  At the end of his homily, the Holy Father recalled how the synodal assembly "often underlined the need to present the Gospel anew to people who do not know it well or who have even moved away from the Church. Frequent mention was made of the need for a new evangelisation in the Middle East. ... For this reason, having consulted with the episcopacy of the whole world and listened to the Ordinary Council of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops, I have decided to dedicate the next Ordinary General Assembly, in 2012, to the following theme: 'Nova evangelizatio ad christianam fidem tradendam - The new evangelisation for the transmission of the Christian faith'".

  And the Pope concluded: "Dear brothers and sisters of the Middle East! May the experience of these days assure you that you are never alone, that you are always accompanied by the Holy See and the whole Church, which, having been born in Jerusalem, spread through the Middle East and then the rest of the world".



VATICAN CITY, 24 OCT 2010 (VIS) - Following this morning's concelebration of the Eucharist to mark the end of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops, Benedict XVI appeared at the window of his study to pray the Angelus with thousands of faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.

  Referring once again to the theme of the synodal assembly - "The Catholic Church in the Middle East. Communion and Witness" - the Pope noted how today also marks World Mission Day, which has as its theme: "Building Ecclesial Communion is the Key to the Mission".

  "There is", he explained, "a surprising similarity between the themes of these two ecclesial events. Both invite us to see the Church as a mystery of communion which, by her nature, is destined for all of man and for all mankind. ... For this reason the next Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, due to be held in 2012, will be dedicated to the theme: 'The new evangelisation for the transmission of the Christian faith'. At any time and in any place - also in the Middle East today - the Church is present and works to welcome each human being and offer him Christ, the fullness of life".

  "In today's liturgy", the Pope went on, "we read St. Paul's testimony concerning the final reward the Lord will give 'to all who have longed for his appearance'. This is not a passive or solitary period of waiting; quite the contrary, the apostle lived in communion with the risen Christ, so that 'the message might be fully proclaimed' and that 'all the Gentiles might hear it'. The missionary task is not to revolutionise the world but to transfigure it, drawing strength from Jesus Christ".

  "Christians today, as the Epistle to Diognetus says, also 'show that life is wonderful, and that their shared life is extraordinary. They spend their time on earth, but their citizenship is in heaven. They obey established laws, but with their lives they surpass those laws. They are killed and thereby they are given life. Even when they do good they are persecuted and every day their numbers grow'.

  "To the Virgin Mary, who from the crucified Christ received the new mission of being Mother to all those who wish to believe in Him and follow Him, we entrust the Christian communities of the Middle East and all missionaries of the Gospel".



VATICAN CITY, 23 OCT 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Appointed as members of the Council of Cardinals for the Study of the Organisational and Economic Problems of the Holy See, Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera, archbishop of Mexico, Mexico, and Cardinal Francis Eugene George O.M.I., archbishop of Chicago, U.S.A.

 - Accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the territorial abbey of Santissima Trinita di Cava de' Tirreni, Italy, presented by Dom Benedetto Maria Chianetta O.S.B., in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law.

 - Appointed Bishop John G. Noonan, auxiliary of the archdiocese of Miami, U.S.A., as bishop of Orlando (area 28,814, population 4,002,000, Catholics 400,923, priests 253, permanent deacons 172, religious 181), U.S.A.



VATICAN CITY, 25 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 James Alix Michel, president of the Republic of the Seychelles. 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.

  "Having expressed their contentment at the cordiality of bilateral relations, the two parties exchanged opinions on questions of mutual interest. In this context, attention focused particularly on commitment and collaboration for the promotion of human dignity, especially in fields of great social importance such as the family, education of the young and protection of the environment".



VATICAN CITY, 25 OCT 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Archbishop Robert Zollitsch of Freiberg im Breisgau, Germany, president of the German Episcopal Conference.

 - Participants in an international symposium on Erik Peterson.

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