Vatican City, 13 May 2012 (VIS) - Benedict XVI today made a pastoral visit to Arezzo in the Italian region of Tuscany, where he was greeted on arrival by Mario Monti, prime minister of Italy, and by the local religious and civil authorities. The Holy Father then went on to celebrate Mass at the "Il Prato" park behind the cathedral of Arezzo. (IMAGE SOURCE: RADIO VATICANA)
"The first reading presented us with an important moment which expresses the universality of Christ and the Church’s message: St. Peter, in the house of Cornelius, baptised the first pagans. In the Old Testament God had wanted the blessing of the Jewish people not to remain exclusive, but to extend to all nations". Thus "Peter’s gesture becomes a symbol of the Church’s openness to all humanity. Following the great tradition of your Church and your community, be authentic witnesses of God’s love for all", said the Holy Father.
He then mentioned some of the outstanding figures of the local Church, such as San Donato and Blessed Gregory X who is buried in the cathedral. In this context he exhorted the modern-day faithful to be "ferment in society, ... active and coherent. With its centuries-old history, the city of Arezzo brings together significant expressions of culture and values", he said. "This land was the birthplace of great Renaissance personalities, from Petrarch to Vasari, and played an active role in affirming that concept of man which left its mark on the history of Europe, drawing strength from Christian values. ... Within the context of the Church in Italy, which has dedicated this decade to the theme of education, we must ask - especially in this region where the Renaissance was born - what vision of man we are proposing to the new generations. The Word of God we have heard is a powerful invitation to live God’s love towards all; and indeed, among its distinctive values, the culture of this land includes solidarity, attention to the weak and respect for the dignity of all. ... Showing solidarity with the poor, means recognising the plan of God the Creator, Who made us all one family".
Benedict XVI then turned to consider the current economic crisis. "The complexity of the problems makes it difficult to find quick and effective solutions to emerge from the present situation, which particularly affects the weakest elements of society and is of special concern to young people. Since earliest times, attention to others has moved the Church to show concrete signs of solidarity with those in need, sharing resources, promoting simpler lifestyles, going against an ephemeral culture which has disappointed many and determined a profound spiritual crisis. May this diocesan Church, enriched by the shining witness of St. Francis of Assisi, continue to be caring and attentive towards those in need, and may it teach people to go beyond the purely materialistic ideologies that often mark our age and end up clouding our sense of solidarity and charity.
"Bearing witness to the love of God by caring for the weakest is tied to the defence of human life, from beginning to natural end", the Pope added. "In your region, ensuring everyone dignity, health and fundamental rights, is justly considered an indispensable good. The defence of the family, through laws that are just and protect the weakest, is always an important point that keeps the fabric of society strong and offers hope for the future. Just as in the Middle Ages, the statutes of your city became instruments that ensured inalienable rights to many, may they continue that task today, promoting a city with an ever more human face. The Church offers her contribution to this task so that the love of God may always be accompanied love for neighbour".
REGINA COELI: RESIST THE TEMPTATION TO BECOME DISCOURAGED
Vatican City, 13 May 2012 (VIS) - "As Mother of the Church, Our Lady always wants to comfort her children at the time of their greatest difficulty and suffering", said the Pope today before praying the Regina Coeli with thousands of faithful who had attended his Mass at the "Il Prato" park in the Italian city of Arezzo.
"Through Mary, we invoke moral consolation from God, so that this community and the whole of Italy may resist the temptation to become discouraged and, strengthened by their great humanist tradition, may set out again on the road to spiritual and moral renewal which is the only thing that can bring authentic improvement in social and civil life".
After praying the Regina Coeli, Benedict XVI made a private visit to the cathedral of San Donato where he paused before the Chapel of Our Lady of Good Comfort to adore the Blessed Sacrament and venerate the image of the Virgin. From there, he travelled to the bishop's palace where he had lunch with bishops from the Tuscan region.
HONESTY AND DISINTERESTED ALTRUISM MUST GIVE NEW FLAVOUR TO CIVIL SOCIETY
Vatican City, 13 May 2012 (VIS) - At 6 p.m. today the Holy Father arrived by helicopter at the town of Sansepolcro which is currently celebrating the thousandth year of its foundation. Before going there he had been due to travel to the shrine of La Verna but because of bad weather and in particular fog, he was unable to do so and his visit to Sansepolcro was brought forward. There he met with local citizens in the Piazza Torre di Berta which for the occasion had been decorated with more than 300 standards.
Before meeting the locals, Benedict XVI visited the cathedral of St. John the Baptist where he paused in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament and venerated a famous crucifix known as the "Santo Volto" (Holy Face), considered to be one of the oldest images of the the clothed and crucified Christ.
In his address to the citizenry the Pope recalled how a thousand years ago the pilgrim saints Arcano and Egidio, "in the midst of the great transformations of their time, set out for the Holy Land to discover truth and the meaning of life. On their return, not only did they bring stones they had gathered on Mount Sion, but also an idea they had matured in the Land of Jesus: constructing in the upper reaches of the Tiber valley a 'civitas hominis' in the image of Jerusalem which, in its very name, evokes justice and peace". Arcano and Egidio "imagined a complex model city full of hope for the future, in which Christ's disciples were called to be a motor of society, promoting peace through the practice of justice". Their idea became reality "thanks to the support first of the Benedictine then of the Camaldolese charism, and continued for generations. Great commitment was needed to found a monastic community and later, around their church, your town", the Holy Father said.
That church, he went on, is "a point of reference which everyone can use as guidance for their journey, and especially for their lives. It is a powerful invitation to look to heaven, to rise above daily life ... in a constant striving towards spiritual vales and communion with God, which do not alienate us from daily life but orient it and enable us to experience it more intensely. This also holds true today, helping us to rediscover the search for 'truth', to perceive life as a journey which brings us towards the 'true' and the 'right'".
"Today it is particularly important for the Church’s service to the world to be expressed through illuminated lay men and women, who are able to work inside the city of man, moved by a desire to serve which goes beyond private interests and partisan concerns. The common good is more important than the good of the individual, and Christians too must contribute to the growth of a new public ethic. ... Christians, and especially the young, are called to counterpoise widespread misgivings about political and social activism with commitment and love for responsibility, animated by evangelical charity which requires us not to remain closed in ourselves but to take responsibility for others. I invite young people to think big: Have the courage to dare. Be ready to give new flavour to civil society, with the salt of honesty and disinterested altruism".
One of the main challenges facing the ancient town of Sansepolcro is "harmonising a rediscovery of its own centuries-old identity with welcoming and incorporating other cultures and sensibilities", the Pope observed. "St. Paul teaches us that the Church and the whole of society are like a human body in which each part is different from the others, but all work together for the good of the organism".
Finally Benedict XVI recalled that the basilica "is the seat of rediscovered harmony between worship and civic life, the point of reference for the pacification of souls. Just as your forefathers were able to build a splendid church of stone as a sign of communion of life, so it is up to you to make the meaning of this sacred building visible and credible, living in peace in the ecclesial and civil communities. ... Look to your rich cultural heritage and be a living Church at the service of the Gospel. A hospitable and generous Church which with her witness brings the love of God to all human beings, especially those who suffer and are in need".
Following his address and after greeting the local authorities, the Holy Father began his return journey to Rome.
SACRED MUSIC IS AN EXPRESSION OF THE FAITH OF THE CHURCH
Vatican City, 12 May 2012 (VIS) - Giorgio Napolitano, president of the Republic of Italy, yesterday offered a concert to Benedict XVI to mark the seventh anniversary of his election to the pontificate. The performance was held in the Paul VI Hall where the Orchestra and Choir of the Roman Opera House, conducted by Riccardo Muti and Roberto Gabbiani, played Antonio Vivaldi's "Magnificat RV611", and the "Stabat Mater" and "Te Deum" from Giuseppe Verdi's "Quattro pezzi sacri".
At the end of the concert, the Pope thanked those who had participated in the preparation and performance of the event, expressing his appreciation for Riccardo Muti's sensitivity for sacred music and his efforts to disseminate awareness of "this rich repertory which expresses the faith of the Church in music. ... The 'Magnificat' we have heard is a hymn of praise to Mary and to all the humble of heart who joyfully and gratefully recognise and celebrate God's action in their lives and in history. God's 'style' is different from that of man, because He stands alongside the poorest and weakest to give them hope. With extraordinary depth of feeling, Vivaldi's music expresses praise, exultation, thanksgiving, and wonder before the works of God".
The Holy Father continued his remarks by nothing that, "with the two pieces of sacred music by Giuseppe Verdi, ... there was a change of register. We found ourselves in the presence of Mary's suffering at the foot of the cross. ... Just as he explored and expressed the drama of so many characters in his operas, here Verdi outlines the drama of the Virgin as she contemplates her Son on the cross. The music is reduced to the essential, almost 'seizing' the words to express their significance as intensely as possible, ... enabling us to participate in her maternal suffering and allowing the love of Christ to burn in our hearts, until the last passage which is an intensely powerful supplication to God that the soul be given the glory of heaven, the ultimate aspiration of humankind.
"The 'Te Deum' is also replete with contrasts", the Pope added. "Verdi is scrupulously attentive to the holy text but his reading thereof diverges from that of tradition. He does not concentrate on the song of victory or coronation but, as he himself wrote, on the successive situations: initial exultation, ... contemplation of Christ incarnate Who frees and opens the Kingdom of Heaven, ... invocation ... for Him to have mercy and, in the end, the cry repeated by soprano and the choir: 'In te, Domine, speravi', with which the piece closes, almost a request on Verdi's part for hope and light in the last stage of his life".
Vatican City, 12 May 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience:
- Cardinal Fernando Filoni, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples.
- Cardinal Agostino Vallini, vicar general of His Holiness for the diocese of Rome.
OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS
Vatican City, 14 May 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father:
- Appointed Fr. Dieudonne Nzapalainga C.S.Sp., apostolic administrator of the archdiocese of Bangui, Central African Republic, as metropolitan archbishop of the same archdiocese (area 38,342, population 1.043,000, Catholics 246,657, priests 104, religious 124). The archbishop-elect was born in Mbomou, Central African Republic in 1967 and ordained a priest in 1998. He studied in the Central African Republic, Cameroon, Gabon and France, and has worked in pastoral care in France and in the Central African Republic.
- Appointed Fr. Dennis Kofi Agbenyadzi S.M.A., regional superior of the Society of African Missions for the Central African Republic, as bishop of Berberati (area 45,000, population 450,000, Catholics 110,000, priests 33, religious 30), Central African Republic. The bishop-elect was born in Kadjebi-Akan, Ghana in 1964 and ordained a priest in 1997. He studied in Ghana, Benin and Cote d'Ivoire and has worked as a pastor and in administrative positions.
- Appointed Fr. Nestor-Desire Nongo-Aziagbia S.M.A., superior of the Haguenau Community in Strasbourg, France and superior of the same district for the Society of African Missions, as bishop of Bossangoa (area 62,420, population 612,000, Catholics 281,000, priests 38, religious 22), Central African Republic. The bishop-elect was born in M'Baiki, Central African Republic in 1970 and ordained a priest in 1998. He studied in the Central African Republic, Nigeria and France. He worked in pastoral care and administration in Nigeria before moving to France.
- Appointed Fr. Cyr-Nestor Yapaupa, vicar general of Alindao, Central African Republic, as coadjutor of the same diocese (area 18,475, population 171,600, Catholics 63,000, priests 13, religious 13). The bishop-elect was born in Bangassou, Central African Republic in 1970 and ordained a priest in 2001. He has held various roles in the diocese of Alindao including parochial vicar, head of the diocesan liturgical commission and pastor of the cathedral.
- Appointed Bishop Alvaro Leonel Ramazzini Imeri of San Marcos, Guatemala, as bishop of Huehuetenango (area 7,400, population 917,713, Catholics 706,449, priests 27, religious 57), Guatemala. He succeeds Bishop Rodolfo Francesco Bobadilla Mata C.M., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.
- Appointed Msgr. Robert McGuckin as bishop of Toowoomba (area 487,000, population 276,700, Catholics 77,400, priests 48, religious 57), Australia. The bishop-elect was born in Sydney, Australia in 1944 and ordained a priest in 1973. Among other roles, he has worked in pastoral care in numerous parishes, as professor of canon law and as judge of the appeals tribunal of Australia and New Zealand.
- Appointed as consultors of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation: Fr. Marco Frisina, president of the Commission for Sacred Art of the diocese of Rome, and professor at the Pontifical Lateran University and the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross; Fr. Jeremy Driscoll O.S.B., professor at the Mount Angel Seminary in St. Benedict, Oregon, U.S.A., and at the Theological Faculty of Rome's St. Anselm Pontifical Athenaeum; Fr. Marko Ivan Rupnik S.J., director of the Aletti Centre, and professor at the Pontifical Oriental Institute, the Pontifical Gregorian University and the Pontifical Liturgical Institute of Rome's St. Anselm Pontifical Athenaeum, and Salvatore Martinez, president of the Renewal in the Holy Spirit Association, Italy.
On Saturday 12 May it was made public that the Holy Father appointed:
- Bishop Andrzej Jez, auxiliary of Tarnow, Poland, as bishop of the same diocese (area 7,566, population 1,124,000, Catholics 1,117,000, priests 1,423, religious 1,243).
- Fr. Archimandrite Donato Oliverio, delegate "ad omnia" of the eparchy of Lungro of the Italo-Albanians, Italy, as bishop of the same eparchy (area 493, population 33,400, Catholics 32,300, priests 39, permanent deacons 1, religious 28). The bishop-elect was born in Cosenza, Italy in 1956 and ordained a priest in 1982. Among other roles he has served as a pastor, director of the eparchial office for catechesis, bursar and secretary of Lungro's Institute for Religious Sciences.
- Fr. Orlando Roa Barboasa of the clergy of the archdiocese of Ibague, Colombia, rector of the "Maria Inmaculada" major archdiocesan seminary, as auxiliary of the archdiocese of Ibague (area 6,044, population 591,000, Catholics 531,000, priests 105, permanent deacons 12, religious 184). The bishop-elect was born in Cali, Colombia in 1958 and ordained a priest in 1984. He studied in Colombia and in Rome and has worked as a pastor and in the field of pastoral care of young people.