THE HOLY SEE AND LIBYA AFTER THE DEATH OF COLONEL GADAFFI
VATICAN CITY, 21 OCT 2011 (VIS) - Given below is the text of an English-language note published yesterday afternoon by the Holy See Press Office on the subject of the Holy See and Libya following the death of Colonel Gadaffi. (IMAGE: RADIO VATICANA)
"The news of the death of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi marks the end of a much too long and tragic phase of a brutal struggle to bring down a harsh and oppressive regime.
"This dramatic event obliges us yet again to reflect on the immense toll of human suffering which accompanies the affirmation and collapse of any system which is not based on the respect and dignity of the human person, but rather on the prevailing affirmation of power.
"It is hoped now that the Libyan people might be spared further violence due to a spirit of revenge, and that the new leaders can undertake as soon possible efforts necessary for bringing peace and rebuilding in a spirit of solidarity, based on justice and the rule of law. May the international community also be committed to generously helping in the rebuilding of the nation.
"For its own part, the small Catholic community will continue to offer its own witness and service to all people, especially in the charitable and health fields. The Holy See will assist the Libyan people with the instruments available to it in the field of international relations with a spirit of promoting justice and peace.
"In this regard, it is necessary to keep in mind that it is a constant practice that when the Holy See establishes diplomatic relations, it recognises States and not governments. For this reason the Holy See has not proceeded in establishing a formal recognition of the National Transitional Council (CNT) as the government ofLibya. Given that the CNT is now acting effectively as the government in Tripoli, the Holy See considers it the legitimate representative of the Libyan people, in conformity with international law.
"The Holy See has already had contacts with the new Libyan authorities. Firstly, the Secretariat of State, which has the responsibility for the diplomatic relations of the Holy See, has been in contact with the Libyan Embassy to the Holy See following the political changes in Tripoli. During his recent participation at the General Assembly of the United Nations, Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States, had the opportunity to speak to Abdurrahman M. Shalgham, permanent representative of Libya to the United Nations. More recently, Archbishop Tommaso Caputo, apostolic nuncio to Libya, who is based inMalta, travelled to Tripoli for a three-day visit (from 2-4 October) in which he met Mahmoud Jibril, prime minister of the CNT. Archbishop Caputo was also received by the minister for foreign affairs.
"During these various meetings the importance of diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Libya was affirmed by both sides. The Holy See renewed its support for the Libyan people and for the transition. The Holy See wished the new authorities every success in their rebuilding the country. On their own behalf, the leaders of the new Libya expressed their appreciation for the Holy Father's humanitarian appeals and the efforts of the Church in Libya through its services in hospitals and help centres run by thirteen religious communities (six in Tripolitania and seven in Cirenaica)".
VATICAN CITY, 21 OCT 2011 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican the Holy Father received the Letters of Credence of Joseph Weterings, the new ambassador of the Netherlands to the Holy See. In his address to the diplomat the Pope recalled how the Holy See's contribution to international diplomacy "consists largely in articulating the ethical principles that ought to underpin the social and political order, and in drawing attention to the need for action to remedy violations of such principles.
"It does so, evidently, from the standpoint of the Christian faith", he added. "Christianity has always pointed to reason and nature as the sources of the norms on which a state of law should be built. Hence the diplomatic dialogue in which the Holy See engages is conducted neither on confessional nor on pragmatic grounds but on the basis of universally applicable principles that are as real as the physical elements of the natural environment".
Benedict XVI continued his English-language remarks: "In acting as a voice for the voiceless and defending the rights of the defenceless, including the poor, the sick, the unborn, the elderly, and the members of minority groups who suffer unjust discrimination, the Church seeks always to promote natural justice as it is her right and duty to do. While recognising with humility that her own members do not always live up to the high moral standards that she proposes, the Church cannot do other than continue to urge all people, her own members included, to seek to do whatever is in accordance with justice and right reason and to oppose whatever is contrary".
He then went on to enumerate a number of areas of shared concern for the Holy See and the Netherlands, including the need to promote global peace through just resolution of conflicts, opposing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, promoting self-reliance in emerging countries, and defending human dignity. He also recognised the "generous humanitarian response of the Dutch people when emergency aid is needed around the world".
The Holy Father spoke of his pleasure at "the steps that the Dutch government has taken to discourage drug abuse and prostitution", and concluded by expressing his appreciation at the promotion of freedom of religion in theNetherlands which, he said, "is a matter of particular concern to the Holy See at the present time".
Religious freedom, the Pope explained, "is threatened not only by legal constraints in some parts of the world, but by an anti-religious mentality within many societies, even those where freedom of religion enjoys the protection of law. It is therefore greatly to be hoped that your government will be vigilant, so that the freedom of religion and freedom of worship will continue to be protected and promoted, both at home and abroad".
VATICAN CITY, 21 OCT 2011 (VIS) - This morning in the Holy See Press Office, a press conference was held to present an international congress dedicated to St. Catherine, Doctor of the Church and co-patron of Europe. The congress will be held in Rome and Siena from 27 to 29 October.
The congress has as its title "'Virgo digna Coelo'. Catherine and her heritage on the 550th anniversary of her canonisation" and has been organised by the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences in collaboration with the Dominican Order, the archdiocese of Siena and the St. Catherine International Study Centre. Today's press conference was presented by Fr. Bernard Ardura O. Praem., president of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences; Umberto Utro, curator of the Christian antiquities section of the Vatican Museums, and Fr. Bernardino Prella O.P., assistant for Malta and Italy of the Master of the Order of Friars Preachers.
Fr. Ardura pointed out that "the figure of St. Catherine extends far beyond her own earthly existence and takes on a powerful symbolic value which, as we approach the Year of Faith, serves to remind us of the unshakeable faith which she possessed and which made her spiritual mother to so many Christians". He went on to explain that the forthcoming congress will be divided into four sessions "to facilitate a more profound examination of the life and influence of the saint" who, he said, "also enjoyed great recognition among theologians, to the point that on 4 October 1970 Paul VI declared her a Doctor of the Church, for her exalted theology and her influence in the renewal of that discipline".
The first session of the congress will see a contribution from Cardinal Angelo Amato S.D.B, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. The second session will be dedicated to the cause of canonisation of St. Catherine, including an examination of its documents and a review of models of female sanctity between 1300 and 1400. The third session will focus on the relationship between St. Catherine and the religious orders of her day. "In the fourth session", Fr. Ardura continued, "we will see how it is possible to study and celebrate St. Catherine today, because her memory has remained alive among Christians and her influence has never ceased to enrich the Church, mainly though hagiographies and literary culture, and in particular thanks to her magnificent Letters".
On its last day the congress will move to Siena for the inauguration of an exhibition entitled "Catherine of Siena and the process of canonisation". It will also hold its last session there, dedicated to "St. Catherine in art". Professor Utro explained that the session will take place in the chapter house of the convent of St. Dominic in Siena, and will be presided by Paolo Nardi, prior general of the International St. Catherine Association and curator of the exhibition. Other art historians will also participate, including Diega Giunta, the leading specialist on artistic representations of St. Catherine.
In his remarks Fr. Prella explained how, "in her writings, ... St. Catherine uses lively and audacious images to communicate the Truth that is Jesus Christ, freely addressing herself to everyone, to the humble and the great of the earth and of the Church. She firmly denounced the sins of the laity - and even more so those of monks, clergy and prelates - yet always offering everyone the hope of infinite divine mercy".
VATICAN CITY, 21 OCT 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences seven prelates from the Australian Catholic Bishops' Conference, on their "ad limina" visit:
- Bishop Peter Joseph Connors of Ballarat.
- Bishop William Wright of Maitland-Newcastle.
- Bishop Anthony Colin Fisher O.P. of Parramatta.
- Bishop Gerard Joseph Hanna bishop of Wagga Wagga.
- Bishop Kevin Michael Manning, apostolic administrator "ad nutum Sanctae Sedis" of Wilcannia-Forbes.
- Bishop Peter William Ingham of Wollongong.
- Bishop Max Leroy Davis, military ordinary.
This evening he is scheduled to received in audience Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.