THE PEDAGOGICAL VALUE OF CONFESSION
VATICAN CITY, 25 MAR 2011 (VIS) - This morning Benedict XVI received participants in an annual course on the "internal forum" organised by the Apostolic Penitentiary. The penitentiary is presided by Cardinal Fortunato Baldelli and its regent is Bishop Gianfranco Girotti O.F.M. Conv. (IMAGE SOURCE: RADIO VATICANA)
In his address to the participants the Holy Father spoke of the "pedagogical value of sacramental Confession" for both priests and for the penitents themselves.
On the subject of priests he said: "The priestly mission represents a unique observation point from which we are daily granted the privilege of contemplating the splendour of divine mercy. ... By administering the Sacrament of Penance we can receive profound lessons of humility and faith. For each priest, this is a powerful call to an awareness of his own identity. Never could we hear the confessions of our brothers and sisters merely on the strength of our own humanity. If they come to us it is only because we are priests, configured to Christ, the Supreme and Eternal Priest, and granted the capacity of acting in His Name and Person, so as to make present the God Who forgives, renews and transforms.
"The celebration of the Sacrament of Penance has a pedagogical value for the priest, which concerns his faith, the truth and poverty of his person; and it nourishes in him an awareness of his sacramental identity", the Pope added.
"Sacramental reconciliation is certainly one of the moments in which individual freedom and self-awareness are called to express themselves particularly clearly", he went on. "It is perhaps for this reason too that, in an age of relativism and of the consequent reduced awareness of self, the practice of this Sacrament should also have diminished. The examination of conscience has an important educational value. it teaches us to look sincerely at our own lives, to compare them with the truth of the Gospel and to evaluate them with parameters that are not only human but drawn from divine Revelation. Comparison with the Commandments, with the Beatitudes, and above all with the Precept to love, represents the first great 'school of penance'", he said.
"Dear priests", the Holy Father concluded, "do not fail to give appropriate space to exercising the ministry of Penance in the confessional. To be welcomed and heard is also a human sign of God's welcome and goodness towards His children. Integral confession of sin also helps penitents to be humble, to recognise their own fragility and, at the same time, to achieve an awareness of the need for God's forgiveness and the belief that divine Grace can transform life".
HOLY FATHER RECEIVES PRELATES OF SYRO-MALANKAR CHURCH
VATICAN CITY, 25 MAR 2011 (VIS REPORTS) - This morning in the Vatican the Holy Father received prelates of the Syro-Malankar Church, who have just completed their five-yearly "ad limina" visit.
"The apostolic traditions which you maintain enjoy their full spiritual fruitfulness when they are lived in union with the Church universal", said the Pope in his English-language remarks. "In this sense, you rightly follow in the footsteps of the Servant of God Mar Ivanios, who led your predecessors and their faithful into full communion with the Catholic Church. Like your forefathers, you too are called, within the one household of God, to continue in firm fidelity to that which has been passed down to you".
"The deposit of faith handed down from the Apostles and faithfully transmitted to our times is a precious gift from the Lord", said the Holy Father, noting that "due to its ancient roots and distinguished history, Christianity in India has long made its proper contribution to culture and society, and to its religious and spiritual expressions. It is through a determination to live the Gospel ... that those whom you serve will make a more effective contribution to the entire body of Christ and to Indian society, to the benefit of all. May your people continue to flourish by the preaching of God's word and by the promotion of a fellowship based on the love of God".
Benedict then turned to consider the challenges facing the prelates in their work, especially the shortage of parish priests. In this context he encouraged them not to lose heart because "small Christian communities have often, as you know, given outstanding witness in the history of the Church. ... It is this divine presence which must remain at the centre of your people's life, faith and witness, and which you their pastors are called to watch over so that, even if they must live far from their community, they will not live far from Christ".
"One of the ways in which you exercise your role as teachers of the faith to the Christian community", the Pope concluded his remarks to the bishops, "is through catechetical and faith formation programmes. ... Since 'instruction should be based on Holy Scripture, Tradition, liturgy, and on the teaching authority and life of the Church', I am pleased to note the variety and number of programmes that you currently employ. Along with the celebration of the Sacraments, such programmes will help ensure that those in your care will always be able to give an account of the hope which is theirs in Christ".
VATICAN CITY, 25 MAR 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father has granted the "Ecclesiastica Communio" requested of him in accordance with canon 76 para. 2 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches by His Beatitude Bechara Rai, canonically elected as Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites by the Synod of Bishops of the Maronite Church meeting in Bkerke, Lebanon, on 15 March.
For the occasion, Benedict XVI has also written a Letter to the new patriarch in which he says: "May the Blessed Mother of God, Our Lady of Lebanon, the Virgin of the Annunciation whose name you bear make you a messenger of unity, so that the Lebanese nation (thanks also to all the religious communities present in your country and to their ecumenical and inter-religious dynamism) may accomplish her mission of solidarity and peace, in the East and in the entire world".
VATICAN CITY, 25 MAR 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:
- Bishop Vincent Paulos Kulapuravilai of Marthandom of the Syro-Malankars, India, on his "ad limina" visit.
- Bishop Joshua Ignathios Kizhakkeveettil of Mavelikara of the Syro-Malankars, India, on his "ad limina" visit.
- Bishop Yoohanon Chrysostom Kalloor of Pathanamthitta of the Syro-Malankars, India, on his "ad limina" visit.
- Bishop Thomas Naickamparampil, apostolic exarch of the apostolic exarchate for Syro-Malankar faithful in the United States of America, and apostolic visitor for Syro-Malankar faithful in Canada and Europe.
This evening he is scheduled to receive in audience Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
VATICAN CITY, 25 MAR 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father:
- Appointed Bishop Valter Dario Maggi, auxiliary of Guayaquil, Ecuador, as bishop of Ibarra (area 4,986, population 347,000, Catholics 332,800, priests 101, permanent deacons 1, religious 263), Ecuador. He succeeds Bishop Julio Cesar Teran Datari, S.J., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.
- Appointed Bishop Vincenzo Bertolone, S.d.P. of Cassano allo Jonio, Italy, as metropolitan archbishop of Catanzaro-Squillace (area 1,806, population 248,000, Catholics 244,300, priests 182, permanent deacons 17, religious 212), Italy. The archbishop-elect was born in San Biagio Platani, Italy in 1946, he was ordained a priest in 1975 and consecrated a bishop in 2007. He succeeds Archbishop Antonio Ciliberti, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.
- Appointed Fr. Paul Sueo Hamaguchi, pastor of the cathedral church of Takamatsu, Japan, as bishop of Oita (area 14,071, population 2,376,414, Catholics 6,288, priests 50, religious 228), Japan. The bishop-elect was born in Higashi Shutsu, Japan in 1948 and ordained a priest in 1975.
- Appointed John Eijro Suwa of the clergy of Osaka, Japan, moderator and pastor of the pastoral zone of Kochi Takamatsu, as bishop of Takamatsu (area 18,903, population 4,031,481, Catholics 5,100, priests 46, religious 84), Japan. The bishop-elect was born in Kobe, Japan in 1947 and ordained a priest in 1976. He succeeds Bishop Francis Xavier Osamu Mizobe, S.D.B., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.
- Granted the confirmation requested of him in accordance with canon 153 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches by Archbishop Sviatoslav Schevchuk, canonically elected as major archbishop of Kyiv-Halyc, Ukraine, by the Synod of Bishops of the Greek-Catholic Ukrainian Church meeting in Lviv, Ukraine, on 23 March.