HOLY FATHER MEETS LEBANESE PRIME MINISTER
(IMAGE RADIO VATICANA)
VIS REPORTS- The Holy See Press Office released the following communique at midday today:
"This morning the Holy Father Benedict XVI received in audience Najib Mikati, prime minister of Lebanon. The prime minister 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 served to highlight the role Lebanon plays in the region and in the entire world, and its vocation to offer a message of freedom and respectful coexistence among the various Christian and Muslim communities who live there.
"The parties expressed a hope for greater political stability and more fruitful collaboration and dialogue between the various leaders of social and institutional life, also in order to meet the challenges the country faces, both internally and internationally.
"Attention then turned to the Middle East, also with reference to the delicate situation in Syria. On this subject, emphasis was given to the vital need for all parties to commit themselves to peaceful coexistence founded on justice, reconciliation, and respect for the dignity of human beings and their inalienable rights. Finally, mention was made of the fundamental contribution that can be made in this field by Christians, who are called to be builders of harmony and peace, and whose presence is essential for the good of the region".
VATICAN CITY, 28 NOV 2011 (VIS) - This morning in the Paul VI Hall, the Holy Father received 7,000 students who are participating in a meeting promoted by the Italian Association "Sorella natura". Extracts from his address to them are given below.
"Dear young people, it is for your sake that I wished this meeting to take place, and I want to tell you how much I appreciate your decision to become 'guardians of the creation'".
"We must first remember that your Foundation, indeed this meeting itself, have a deep Franciscan inspiration. Even the date has been chosen to recall the proclamation of St. Francis of Assisi as patron of the environment by my beloved predecessor John Paul II in 1979".
"St. Francis, faithful to Holy Scripture, invites us to recognise that nature is like a marvellous book speaking to us of God, of His beauty and goodness. Francis used to ask the friar who tended the convent garden ... to leave space for a rich flowerbed so that passers-by would raise their thoughts to God, Creator of such beauty".
"Dear friends the Church, while appreciating the most important scientific research and discoveries, has never ceased to remind people that by respecting the mark of the Creator in all creation, we achieve a better understanding of our true and profound human identity. ... If, in fact, human activity forgets to collaborate with God, it can do violence to the creation and cause damage which always has negative consequences, also for mankind. ... Today more than ever it is clear that respect for the environment cannot overlook recognition for the importance and inviolability of human beings, at every stage of life and in every condition. Respect for the human being and respect for nature are the same thing, they grow and find their just measure if we respect the Creator and His creation, both in the human creature and in nature".
"I would now like to address teachers and representatives from the public authorities, ... highlighting the great importance education has in environmental questions. ... It is now clear that humankind has no productive future on earth if we do not educate everyone to be responsible for the creation, This is first learnt in the family and in school, and for this reason I encourage parents and teachers to continue educating people to that end. Furthermore it is indispensable that the efforts made by families and schools find support in the relevant institutions".
"May St. Francis teach us to sing, with all creation, a hymn of praise and thanksgiving to our heavenly Father, giver of all gifts".
VATICAN CITY, 28 NOV 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience:
- Cardinal Marc Ouellet P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
- Cardinal Justin Francis Rigali, archbishop emeritus of Philadelphia, U.S.A.
VATICAN CITY, 28 NOV 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed:
- Fr. Fidelis Lionel Emmanuel Fernando, episcopal vicar for Tamil faithful in the archdiocese of Colombo, Sri Lanka, and Fr. Sampathawaduge Maxwell Grenville Silva, headmaster of the St. Thomas College at Kotte, as auxiliaries of the archdiocese of Colombo (area 3,838, population 5,891,000, Catholics 634,202, priests 588, religious 1,502). Bishop-elect Fernando was born in Jaffna, Sri Lanka in 1948 and ordained a priest in 1973. He studied in Rome and the U.S.A., and has worked as pastor, and as a professor and later rector of the National Seminary of Kandy. Bishop-elect Silva was born in Willorawatte, Sri Lanka in 1953 and ordained a priest in 1981. He has worked as pastor and as a school teacher.
On Saturday 26 November it was made public that he appointed:
- Msgr. Charles John Brown, official of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, as apostolic nuncio to Ireland, at the same time elevating him to the dignity of archbishop. The archbishop-elect was born in New York, U.S.A. in 1959 and ordained a priest in 1989. Before coming to Rome he worked as parochial vicar in the parish of St. Brendan in the Bronx. In September 2009 he was appointed as adjunct secretary of the International Theological Commission.
- Msgr. Marek Solczynski, nunciature counsellor, as apostolic nuncio to Georgia, at the same time elevating him to the dignity of archbishop. The archbishop-elect was born in Stawiszyn, Poland in 1961 and ordained a priest in 1987. He entered the diplomatic service of the Holy See in 1993, since when he has served in Paraguay, Russia, U.S.A., Turkey, Czech Republic and Spain.
- Fr. Antonio De Luca C.SS.R., pro episcopal vicar for consecrated life in the archdiocese of Naples, Italy, as bishop of Teggiano-Policastro (area 1,986, population 117,200, Catholics 116,400, priests 81, permanent deacons 3, religious 107), Italy. The bishop-elect was born in Torre del Greco, Italy in 1956 and ordained a priest in 1981. He has worked in various offices for his order including provincial secretary for formation and provincial superior for the Italian Region of Campania, and has been active in missionary work in Madagascar and Argentina.
- Bishop Johannes Wihelmus Maria Liesen, auxiliary of 's-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands, as bishop of Breda (area 3,368, population 1,114,000, Catholics 491,323, priests 251, permanent deacons 25, religious 974), Netherlands.
VATICAN CITY, 27 NOV 2011 (VIS) - In his remarks before praying the Angelus this morning, Benedict XVI reflected on the period of Advent, which begins the liturgical year. In Advent "people's hearts are reawakened to the expectation of Christ's return, and to the memory of His first coming, when He divested Himself of His divine glory to assume our mortal flesh", he said.
He then went on to quote from today's Gospel reading in which Jesus tells His disciples to "keep awake". That was, said the Holy Father, "a timely reminder to us that life has not only an earthly dimension, but is projected 'beyond'".
"Isaiah, the prophet of Advent, also makes us think today with his heartfelt prayer addressed to God. ... He dwells on the shortcomings of his people and at a certain point says: 'There is no one who calls on your name, or attempts to take hold of you; you have hidden your face from us, and have delivered us into the hands of iniquity'. How can we not be struck by this description? It seems to reflect certain aspects of the post-modern world: cities where life has become anonymous and horizontal, where God seems to be absent and only man is master, as if he were the universal architect. Building, work, economy, transport, science, technology, everything seems to depend only upon man. And at times, in this apparently perfect world, terrible things happen, either in nature or society, which make us think that God has withdrawn and has, so to say, left us to our own devices.
"The real 'master' of the world is not man but God", the Pope added. "The Gospel says: 'keep awake for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly'. Advent comes every year to remind us of this fact, that our lives might find their just orientation towards the face of God. The face not of a 'master', but of a Father and a Friend".
Following the Marian prayer, the Pope recalled that a United Nations conference on climate change and the Kyoto Protocol is beginning tomorrow in Durban, South Africa. "My hope", he said, "is that all the members of the international community will agree on a responsible, credible and joint response to this worrying and complex phenomenon, while taking account of the needs of the poorest people and of future generations".
VATICAN CITY, 26 NOV 2011 (VIS) - This evening in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall, the government of the Principality of Asturias, Spain, offered a concert in honour of the Holy Father. The Orchestra of the Principality played works by Falla, Albeniz, Rueda, Strauss and Rimsky-Korsakov. At the end of the performance Benedict XVI arose to address some words to musicians and public.
"This evening", he said, "a 'piece' of Spain has been transferred into this hall. We have heard music written by some of the most famous composers of that land, ... as well as by the German Richard Strauss and the Russian Rimsky-Korsakov who were fascinated with what ... has been defined as 'more hispano'; that is, the 'Hispanic' way of being, and of composing and playing music. This is the element which the various pieces we have heard have in common, they share the fundamental characteristic of using music to communicate feelings and emotions, almost I would say the fabric of daily life. This is because composers who follow 'more hispano' are almost naturally led to a harmonious fusion of elements of folklore and popular song, which come from everyday life, with what we call 'classical music'".
"However", the Holy Father went on, "another constantly recurring theme of 'more hispano' compositions is the element of religion, with which the Spanish people are so deeply imbued. Rimsky-Korsakov understood this well mixing, in his splendid 'Capriccio Espagnol', songs and dances of Spanish folklore with popular religious melodies. ... This is the magic worked by music, the universal language which can overcome all barriers and allow us to enter the world of others, of a nation or a culture, at the same time enabling us to turn our mind and hearts ... to the world of God".
VATICAN CITY, 26 NOV 2011 (VIS) - From 21 to 26 November a series of meetings took place between members of the Council of Europe Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism (MONEYVAL) and the Vatican authorities responsible for the prevention and countering of money laundering and the financing of terrorism, according to a communique released today by the Holy See Press Office.
"The 'in loco' visit of the inspectors is a further step in the MONEYVAL assessment procedures, promoted by request of the Holy See following the issue of Law No. 127 of 30 December 2010. Those procedures began on 14 September 2011 with the delivery of a preliminary explanatory document concerning both the juridical system of the Holy See and Vatican City State, and the implementation of initiatives to adapt to international standards in this field (40+9 Recommendations of FATF/GAFI (Financial Action Task Force) and the methodology of assessment agreed with the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank).
"The group of legal, financial and law enforcement experts from various countries (Russian Federation, United Kingdom, Belgium, Netherlands, Liechtenstein), coordinated by the MONEYVAL Secretariat, met with representatives from the Secretariat of State, the Governorate, the Juridical Offices, the Gendarmerie, the Prefecture for Economic Affairs, the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR), the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA), and the newly-founded Financial Information Authority.
"The outcome of this procedure will be the final assessment report, to be discussed at the MONEYVAL plenary assembly which is expected to take place around the middle of 2012".
VATICAN CITY, 26 NOV 2011 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican the Holy Father received 500 participants in an international conference on the theme: "Health Pastoral Care, Serving Life in the Light of the Magisterium of Blessed John Paul II", organised by the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care. It was John Paul II who established the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care, as well as the World Day of the Sick, and the Good Samaritan Foundation which offers health care services to poor people in a number of countries.
Extracts from Benedict XVI's remarks to the group are given below:
"Over the long and intense years of his pontificate, Blessed John Paul II proclaimed that serving the sick in body and spirit must be a constant part of the ecclesial community's commitment to evangelisation, in accordance with Jesus command to the Twelve to go forth and heal", he said.
"The mystery of suffering seems to obscure the face of God, almost making Him a stranger, or even identifying Him as the person responsible for human suffering; however the eyes of faith can see into the depths of this mystery. God became incarnate, He came close to man, even in the most difficult situations. He did not eliminate suffering, but in the risen Christ, in the Son of God Who suffered unto death, and death on a cross, He showed us that His love descends even into man's deepest abyss and brings him hope. ... In the Son, Who was 'given' for the salvation of humankind, the truth of love is, in some way, proven through the truth of suffering, and the Church, born from the mystery of Redemption upon the Cross of Christ, must meet man on the long path of his suffering".
"Your proximity and the care you show to our sick brothers and sisters, often alone and suffering not only physically, but also spiritually and morally, places you in a privileged position to bear witness to the salvific action of God, His love for mankind and the world which embraces even the most painful and terrible situations. The Face of the Saviour, dying upon the cross, ... teaches us to defend and promote life, whatever its state and condition, recognising the dignity and value of each individual human being, who was created in the image and likeness of God, and is called to eternal life.
"The slow Calvary of the final years of life of Blessed John Paul II bore witness to this vision of pain and suffering illuminated by the death and resurrection of Christ", Pope Benedict added. "His profound humility, rooted in his intimate bond with Christ, enabled him to continue to guide the Church, and to address an even more eloquent message to the world, even when his physical strength was failing".
"Dear friends", the Holy Father concluded, "in the service you provide in the various fields of health pastoral care, may you too experience that 'only if I serve my neighbour can my eyes be opened to what God does for me and how much He loves me'".
VATICAN CITY, 26 NOV 2011 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received a group of prelates from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, at the end of their "ad limina" visit. Today's meeting was the first between the Pope and American bishops since the Holy Father's 2008 visit to the U.S. which, he said, "was intended to encourage the Catholics of America in the wake of the scandal and disorientation caused by the sexual abuse crisis of recent decades".
"I wished to acknowledge personally the suffering inflicted on the victims and the honest efforts made both to ensure the safety of our children and to deal appropriately and transparently with allegations as they arise", he added. "It is my hope that the Church's conscientious efforts to confront this reality will help the broader community to recognise the causes, true extent and devastating consequences of sexual abuse, and to respond effectively to this scourge which affects every level of society. By the same token, just as the Church is rightly held to exacting standards in this regard, all other institutions, without exception, should be held to the same standards".
The Holy Father then turned to consider another purpose of his 2008 trip, that of summoning "the Church in America to recognise, in the light of a dramatically changing social and religious landscape, the urgency and demands of a new evangelisation. ... Many of you have shared with me your concern about the grave challenges to a consistent Christian witness presented by an increasingly secularised society", he said. "I consider it significant, however, that there is also an increased sense of concern on the part of many men and women, whatever their religious or political views, for the future of our democratic societies. They see a troubling breakdown in the intellectual, cultural and moral foundations of social life, and a growing sense of dislocation and insecurity, especially among the young, in the face of wide-ranging societal changes.
"Despite attempts to still the Church's voice in the public square, many people of good will continue to look to her for wisdom, insight and sound guidance in meeting this far-reaching crisis. The present moment can thus be seen, in positive terms, as a summons to exercise the prophetic dimension of your episcopal ministry by speaking out, humbly yet insistently, in defence of moral truth, and offering a word of hope, capable of opening hearts and minds to the truth that sets us free".
"The obstacles to Christian faith and practice raised by a secularised culture also affect the lives of believers, leading at times to that 'quiet attrition' from the Church. ... Immersed in this culture, believers are daily beset by the objections, the troubling questions and the cynicism of a society which seems to have lost its roots, by a world in which the love of God has grown cold in so many hearts. Evangelisation thus appears not simply a task to be undertaken ad extra; we ourselves are the first to need re-evangelisation".
The Holy Father expressed his appreciation at the progress made by the American episcopate in responding to these issues, and cited the examples of recent documents on faithful citizenship and the institution of marriage. He also thanked them for their efforts in implementing the revised translation of the Roman Missal, and their efforts "to ensure that this new translation will inspire an ongoing catechesis which emphasises the true nature of the liturgy and, above all, the unique value of Christ's saving sacrifice for the redemption of the world".
Pope Benedict concluded: "A weakened sense of the meaning and importance of Christian worship can only lead to a weakened sense of the specific and essential vocation of the laity to imbue the temporal order with the spirit of the Gospel. America has a proud tradition of respect for the Sabbath; this legacy needs to be consolidated as a summons to the service of God's Kingdom and the renewal of the social fabric in accordance with its unchanging truth".