TO INDONESIAN BISHOPS: PATIENTLY UPHOLD RELIGIOUS FREEDOM
VATICAN CITY, 7 OCT 2011 (VIS) - "Christ's message of salvation, forgiveness and love has been preached in your country for centuries. Indeed, the missionary impulse remains essential to the Church's life, and finds expression not only in the preaching of the Gospel, but also in the witness of Christian charity", said the Pope today to prelates from the Indonesian Episcopal Conference at the end of their "ad limina" visit. (IMAGE SOURCE: RADIO VATICANA)
Continuing his English-language remarks, the Holy Father said: "This is the hallmark of every movement, action and expression of the Church, in all of her sacramental, charitable, educational and social endeavours, so that in everything her members may strive to make the Triune God known and loved through Jesus Christ.
"This", he added, "will not only contribute to the spiritual vitality of the Church as she grows in confidence through humble yet courageous witness; it will also strengthen Indonesian society by promoting those values that your fellow citizens hold dear: tolerance, unity and justice for all. Appropriately, Indonesia's Constitution guarantees the fundamental human right of freedom to practice one's religion. The freedom to live and preach the Gospel can never be taken for granted and must always be justly and patiently upheld. Nor is religious freedom merely a right to be free from outside constraints. It is also a right to be authentically and fully Catholic, to practice the faith, to build up the Church and to contribute to the common good, proclaiming the Gospel as Good News for all, and inviting everyone to intimacy with the God of mercy and compassion made manifest in Jesus Christ".
Pope Benedict encouraged the bishops to promote and support inter-religious dialogue in Indonesia. "Your country, so rich in its cultural diversity and possessed of a large population, is home to significant numbers of followers of various religious traditions", he told them. Thus, Indonesians "are well-placed to make important contributions to the quest for peace and understanding among the peoples of the world. Your participation in this great enterprise is decisive, and so I urge you .. to ensure that those whom you shepherd know that they, as Christians, are to be agents of peace, perseverance and charity".
"Believers in Christ, rooted in charity, ought to be committed to dialogue with other religions, respecting mutual differences. Common endeavours for the building up of society will be of great value when they strengthen friendships and overcome misunderstanding or distrust".
The Holy Father concluded: "I have confidence that you and the priests, religious and laity of your dioceses will continue to bear witness to the image and likeness of God in each man, woman and child, regardless of their faith, by encouraging everyone to be open to dialogue in the service of peace and harmony. By doing everything possible to ensure that the rights of minorities in your country are respected, you further the cause of tolerance and mutual harmony in your country and beyond".
VATICAN CITY, 7 OCT 2011 (VIS) - "The Catholic Church will continue to do her part and to seek collaboration with other Christian communities in order to play an active role in resolving the current humanitarian emergency in the Horn of Africa". These words were pronounced by Cardinal Robert Sarah, president of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum", during the course of a press conference held this morning in the Holy See Press Office. The cardinal went on to explain that today's meeting "is a response to the Pope's desire to bear witness to the charity of Christ and of the Church towards those who suffer. Wherever man suffers, God is close by", he said.
The press conference served to present a number of initiatives being implemented by the Catholic Church to alleviate the catastrophic consequences of drought, hunger and armed conflict in the Horn of Africa. Cardinal Sarah recalled how the situation is one of the main concerns of Benedict XVI who has made various appeals to the international community to help suffering people, most recently during his general audience on Wednesday. Moreover, the Holy Father is supporting efforts made by local Churches in Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia andDjibouti, donating 400,000 dollars for preliminary assistance to victims, while special collections have been made at parishes in Italy, Germany, Switzerland,France and Ireland.
The Catholic Church is also collaborating with the Anglican Church to face the emergency. This, said the president of "Cor Unum", is "significant testimony of the charity which unites us. ... Our efforts speak of the vitality which the faith can produce and which finds expression in these fruits of sharing, love, compassion, concern for others, and help and promotion of human beings of whatever race or religion. These actions are a consequence of our faith which becomes operative in love".
Cardinal Sarah reiterated the Holy Father's appeal to the international community. "Unfortunately", he said, "it is often clear that the mechanisms governing international activities are dictated by pursuit of the interests of individual nations. Selfish considerations prevail even in international politics. We must allow ourselves to be inspired, implementing policies which are truly aimed at the common good. Only the search for the common good can ensure that there are no winners or losers, murderers or victims, exploiters or exploited. What must prevail is a vision of man and society in which economic value is granted the recognition it deserves, but not given the final word on good and evil".
A school in each village
Cardinal Sarah explained that in the current crisis "the millions of displaced persons who are currently wandering in an attempt to survive, will become tomorrow's refugees, illegal migrants, stateless persons, people without a home, job or community. An entire generation risks being lost". For this reason, he said, "once this emergency has passed we must seek to provide formation" because education is the motor of development. "Where there is a school, where there is education, there is the possibility of a future where tomorrow there will be work, and families can be created. ... I would like to make an appeal for a school in each village".
Sharing the podium with Cardinal Sarah at today's press conference were Bishop Giorgio Bertin O.F.M., apostolic administrator "ad nutum Sanctae Sedis" of Mogadishu, Somalia; Michel Roy, secretary general of Caritas Internationalis; Kenneth Hackett, executive director of Catholic Relief Services; David Pain, director of Christian Aid's Africa Division, and representatives of Catholic Charity organisations.
David Pain, as envoy of the Archbishop of Canterbury, read out a message from the primate of the Anglican Communion. "In the face of those who hunger and thirst we discover the face of Christ", the text reads. "It must be with renewed passion and commitment that we seek effective and enduring responses to end the intolerable scandal of recurring famine in our world". The Archbishop of Canterbury likewise expresses the hope that the meeting will serve to create new opportunities for ecumenical collaboration.
VATICAN CITY, 7 OCT 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:
- Archbishop Alberto Bottari de Castello, apostolic nuncio to Hungary.
- Archbishop Carlos Aguiar Retes of Tlalnepantla, Mexico, president of the Latin American Episcopal Council (CELAM), accompanied by Archbishop Ruben Salazar Gomez of Bogota, Colombia, first vice president; Archbishop Dimas Lara Barbosa of Campo Grande Brazil, second vice president; Bishop Santiago Jaime Silva Retamales, auxiliary of Valparaiso, Chile, secretary general; Bishop CarlosMaria Collazzi Irazabal S.D.B. of Mercedes, Uruguay, president of the economic council, and Fr. Leonidas Ortiz Losada, adjunct secretary general.
- Walter Jurgen Schmid, ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany, accompanied by his wife, on a farewell visit.
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, 7 OCT 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father accepted the resignation from the office of auxiliary of the diocese of Porto, Portugal, presented by Bishop Joao Miranda Teixeira, upon having reached the age limit.