Before the Marian prayer the Pope announced that on 7 October, at the start of the Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, he will proclaim St. John of Avila and St. Hildegard of Bingen as Doctors of the Universal Church. "These two great witnesses of the faith lived in very different historical periods and cultural environments", he said. "Hildegard was a Benedictine nun during the height of the German Middle Ages, a true master of theology and a great scholar of the natural sciences and of music. John was a young diocesan priest of the Spanish Renaissance, who participated in the travails of the cultural and spiritual renewal of the Church and society at the dawn of the Modern Age".
The sanctity of their lives and the profundity of their doctrine mean that these two saints "retain all their importance. The grace of the Holy Spirit enabled them to experience profound understanding of divine revelation and intelligent dialogue with the world, two factors which represent the perennial goal of the life and activity of the Church".
St. John and St. Hildegard are particularly significant on the eve of the forthcoming Year of Faith, and in light of the new evangelisation to which the Synod of Bishops will be dedicating its attention. "Also in our own day, and through their teaching, the Spirit of the risen Lord continues to make His voice heard and to illuminate the path which leads to the Truth, which is the only thing that can make us free and give full meaning to our lives", the Pope said.
After praying the Regina Coeli he recalled that Mother Saint Louis (nee Marie-Louise Elisabeth de Lamoignon, widow of Mole de Champlatreux), foundress of the Sisters of Charity of St. Louis who lived between the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, was today proclaimed a blessed in France. She was "an exemplary witness of love for God and for neighbour", the Holy Father said. He also recalled the fact that he is due to travel to Milan on Friday to participate in the seventh World Meeting of Families, and he asked the faithful to pray for the success of that event.
HOLY FATHER RECEIVES PRESIDENT OF COSTA RICA
Vatican City, 28 May 2012 (VIS) - The Holy See Press Office released the following communique at midday today:
"This morning the Holy Father Benedict XVI received in audience Laura Chinchilla Miranda, president of Costa Rica. 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.
"During their cordial discussions the parties highlighted the good relations that exist between the Holy See, the local Church and the State, expressing the hope that they may be strengthened by an Agreement respectful of the identity of the country and of the healthy autonomy and collaboration between civil and ecclesiastical authorities. Mention was then made of the special contribution the Church makes through her educational, social and charitable institutions. Finally attention turned to the importance of continuing to protect the fundamental dignity of human beings, from the moment of conception".
THE POPE: "WE MUST RENEW THE SOUL OF OUR INSTITUTIONS"
Vatican City, 26 May 2012 (VIS) - "We must form people's consciences in the light of the Word of God, whence all plans of the Church and of men draw meaning and strength, also as regards the construction of the earthly city. We must renew the soul of our institutions and make history fertile with the seeds of new life". Benedict XVI pronounced these words this morning in St. Peter's Square where he received thousands of members of the Renewal in the Holy Spirit Association,which is celebrating the fortieth anniversary of its foundation in Italy.
The Pope expressed the view that "in modern society we are experiencing a situation which is in some ways precarious, characterised by insecurity and the fragmentary nature of decisions. Often there is a lack of points of reference from which to draw inspiration for our lives. It is, then, increasingly important to construct the edifice of life and social relationships on the stable rock of the Word of God".
Today, the Holy Father said, believers are called to show a "convincing, sincere and credible witness of faith, one closely united to charitable commitment, It is, in fact, through charity, that people far removed from and indifferent to the the message of the Gospel are able to approach the truth and to become converted to the merciful love of the heavenly Father".
Pope Benedict also dedicated his attention to the work of the Renewal in the Holy Spirit Association over recent decades. "Your apostolic efforts have contributed to the development of spiritual life in the Italian ecclesial and social fabric through paths of conversion which have helped many people to be profoundly healed by the love of God, and many families to overcome moments of crisis", he said. "Your groups have not been lacking in young people ready to respond generously to the vocation of special consecration to God in the priesthood and in the religious life". The Holy Father also underlined the movement’s support for people in situations of need and marginalisation, especially in the field of the spiritual and material rebirth of prisoners.
The Pope concluded by exhorting those present: "Never cease to look to heaven; the world has need of prayer. We need men and women who feel the draw of heaven in their lives, who make praising the Lord the basis of a new lifestyle. Be joyous Christians! I entrust you all to Mary Most Holy, who was present in the Upper Room at the moment of Pentecost".
POPE DONATES 100,000 EURO TO VICTIMS OF ITALIAN EARTHQUAKE
Vatican City, 26 May 2012 (VIS) - The Pontifical Council "Cor Unum" today released a communique announcing that, "following the earthquake of recent days, which wrought destruction particularly in the territory of the ecclesiastical circumscriptions of Carpi, Mantua, Modena-Nonantola and Ferrara-Comacchio, the Holy Father, through the Pontifical Council 'Cor Unum', has decided to send a special contribution of 100,000 euro, to be shared among the dioceses affected by the calamity, to aid the Catholic Church's assistance activities in favour of the victims. That sum is intended to be a concrete expression of the Supreme Pontiff's sentiments of spiritual closeness and paternal solicitude towards the people affected by the earthquake".
MESSAGE TO CATHOLICOS PATRIARCH OF THE ASSYRIAN CHURCH OF THE EAST
Vatican City, 27 May 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father has sent a message to His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV, Catholicos Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East, for the fiftieth anniversary of his consecration as bishop. In the letter, written in English, Benedict XVI recalls the patriarch’s visit to Rome in 1994 for the signing of a Common Declaration on Christology, his presence at the funeral of John Paul II, and his visit to Rome in 2007 during which the Pope had expressed his hope that they would continue their "common journey towards the re-establishment of full communion".
"I thank the Lord for the many blessings he has bestowed on the Assyrian Church of the East through your ministry, and I am grateful for your commitment to promoting constructive dialogue, fruitful cooperation and growing friendship between our Churches".
"I wish also to reiterate my solidarity with the Christian communities in Iraq and throughout the Middle East, praying that effective forms of common witness to the Gospel and pastoral collaboration in the service of peace, reconciliation and unity may be deepened between the Catholic and Assyrian faithful".
The Holy Father concludes his letter by invoking the blessings of the Blessed Trinity upon the Patriarch.
SPECIAL ENVOY TO THE EUCHARISTIC CONGRESS OF UKRAINE
Vatican City, 26 May 2012 (VIS) - Made public today was a letter, written in Latin and dated 17 April, in which the Holy Father appoints Cardinal Angelo Comastri, vicar general of His Holiness for Vatican City, as his special envoy to the closing celebrations of the National Eucharistic Congress of Ukraine, due to be held in Lviv on 3 June, sixth centenary of the establishment of the archiepiscopal and metropolitan see of Lviv of the Latins.
INVESTIGATION INTO LEAKING OF RESERVED DOCUMENTS
Vatican City, 26 May 2012 (VIS) - Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. today made the following declaration concerning investigations taking place in the Vatican on the leaking of reserved documents.
"I can confirm that the individual arrested on Wednesday evening for illegal possession of reserved documents, which were found in his domicile located within Vatican territory, is Mr. Paolo Gabriele, who is still being held in detention.
"The first phase of the 'summary investigation' under the direction of Nicola Picardi, promoter of justice, has come to an end and given way to the phase of 'formal investigation', which is being conducted by Piero Antonio Bonnet, investigating magistrate.
"The accused has appointed two lawyers to represent him who are authorised to act before the Vatican Tribunal, and he has had the opportunity to meet with them. They will be able to help him in successive stages of the proceedings. He benefits from all the juridical guarantees laid down by the Criminal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure in force in Vatican City State.
"The investigatory phase will continue until an adequate picture of the situation being investigated has emerged, after which the investigating magistrate will either acquit the suspect or send him for trial".
Vatican City, 28 May 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience:
- Archbishop Paul Cremona O.P. of Malta, Malta, accompanied by Archbishop emeritus Joseph Mercieca, on their "ad limina" visit.
- Bishop Mario Grech of Gozo, Malta, on his "ad limina" visit.
- Bishop Ralph Heskett C.SS.R. of Gibraltar, Gibraltar, on his "ad limina" visit.
On Saturday 26 May he received in audience Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education.
OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS
Vatican City, 28 May 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed:
- Fr. Leopold Ouedraogo, vicar general of the archdiocese of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, as auxiliary of the same archdiocese (area 9,600, population 2,337,000, Catholics 810,310, priests 188, religious 905). The bishop-elect was born in Ouagadougou in 1958 and ordained a priest in 1979. He has worked as a pastor and as professor then rector of the major seminary of "Saint Pierre et Paul".
- Fr. Elkin Fernando Alvarez Botero of the clergy of Sonson - Rionegro, Colombia, director of the Department for Hierarchical Ministries of the Colombian Episcopal Conference, as auxiliary of the archdiocese of Medellin (area 687, population 3,456,000, Catholics 3,004,000, priests 1,027, permanent deacons 50, religious 3,664), Colombia. The bishop-elect was born in El Retiro, Colombia in 1968 and ordained a priest in 1993. He studied in Colombia and in Rome and has worked in pastoral care, education and as a local collaborator of the apostolic nunciature to Colombia.
- Bishop Philippe Rukamba of Butare, Rwanda, as apostolic administrator "sede vacante et ad nutum Sanctae Sedis" of the diocese of Gikongoro, Rwanda.
On Saturday 26 May it was made public that the Holy Father
- Appointed Fr. Dieudonne Espoir Atangana of the clergy of Obala, Cameroon, former rector of the the major seminaries of "Notre Dame de l'Immaculee Conception" of Yaounde and "Notre Dame de l'Esperance" of Bertoua, as bishop of Nkongsamba (area 10,952, population 751,000, Catholics 350,000, priests 131, religious 74), Cameroon. The bishop-elect was born in Ngongo, Cameroon in 1958 and ordained a priest in 1986. He studied in Rome and has worked in the field of education in a number of seminaries. He is currently on a sabbatical year, during which he is serving in various parishes in the diocese of Obala.
- Erected the new diocese of Bafang (area 7,229, population 252,284, Catholics 131,475, priests 31, religious 11) Cameroon, with territory taken from the diocese of Nkongsamba, making it a suffragan of the metropolitan church of Douala. He appointed Fr. Abraham Kome, apostolic administrator of Nkongsamba, as first bishop of the new diocese. The bishop-elect was born in Loum-ville, Cameroon in 1969 and ordained a priest in 1999. Among other roles, he has worked as vicar of the diocesan cathedral, master of ceremonies and pastor of the parish of St. Francis Xavier in Kekem.
- Appointed Bishop Jurij Bizjak, auxiliary of Koper, Slovenia, as bishop of the same diocese (area 4,306, population 267,300, Catholics 194,800, priests 161, religious 91). He succeeds Bishop Metod Pirih, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.