JULIAN OF NORWICH: PRIMACY OF DIVINE LOVE
VATICAN CITY, 1 DEC 2010 (VIS) - During today's general audience Benedict XVI spoke about Julian of Norwich, a great English mystic who lived approximately between 1342 and 1430, "difficult years", the Holy Father remarked, "both for the Church, lacerated by the schism that followed the Pope's return from Avignon to Rome, and for people's everyday lives which were suffering the consequences of a long war between the kingdoms of England and France".
In 1373, during a period of serious illness, Julian received sixteen revelations on the love of God. "Inspired by divine love, Julian made a radical choice. Like an ancient anchoress, she chose to live in a cell located near the church of St. Julian in the city of Norwich".
"Anchoresses, or 'recluses', dedicated themselves to prayer, meditation and study within their cells. In this way they came to acquire a very delicate human and religious sensibility which led to their being venerated by the people; and men and women of all ages and conditions, in need of counsel and comfort, devotedly sought them out".
Benedict XVI went on: "Women and men who chose to withdraw and live in the company of God acquire, precisely because of this choice, a great sense of compassion for the suffering and weakness of others. Friends of God, they enjoy a wisdom which the world they have left does not possess, and they willingly share this with those who knock at their door. Thus I think with admiration and gratitude of the monasteries of cloistered women and men which, today more than ever, are oases of peace and hope, a precious treasure for the entire Church, especially inasmuch as they recall the primacy of God and the importance that intense and constant prayer has for the journey of faith".
Julian's book "Revelations of Divine Love", contains "an optimistic message based on the certainty that we are loved by God and protected by His Providence". She "compares divine love with maternal love. This is one of the most characteristic messages of her mystical theology. The tenderness, solicitude and sweetness of God's goodness towards us are so great that to us, pilgrims on the earth, they seem as the love of a mother for her children".
"Julian of Norwich understood the central message of spiritual life: that God is love. Only when we open ourselves totally to this love, only when we allow it to become the one guide to our existence, does everything become transfigured and do we find true peace and joy which we can pass on to others".
"The Catechism of the Catholic Church", the Holy Father explained, "contains words of Julian of Norwich, expounding the point of view of the Catholic faith on a subject that never ceases to arouse the concern of believers. If God is supremely good and wise, why does evil exist, why do the innocent suffer? ... Yet in the mysterious designs of Providence, even from evil God can draw a greater good. As Julian of Norwich wrote: 'I was taught by the grace of God that I should steadfastly keep me in the faith, and that at the same time I should ... earnestly believe that all manner of thing shall be well'".
"God's promises are always greater that our expectations. If we commend the purest and deepest desires of our heart to God and to His immense love, we will never be disappointed, and 'all manner of thing shall be well'. This is the final message", the Pope concluded, "which Julian of Norwich transmits to us and which I too propose to you today".
VATICAN CITY, 1 DEC 2010 (VIS) - Following his catechesis in today's general audience, Benedict XVI made some remarks concerning the situation of the Church in China.
"To your prayers", he told the faithful gathered in the Paul VI Hall, "and to those of Catholics all over the world, I entrust the Church in China which, as you know, is experiencing particularly difficult moments. Let us ask the Blessed Virgin Mary, Help of Christians, to support all Chinese bishops, who are so dear to me, that they may bear courageous witness to their faith, placing all their hope in the Saviour Whom we await. Let us also entrust to the Virgin all the Catholics of that beloved country so that, through her intercession, they may live a truly Christian existence in communion with the universal Church, thus also contributing to the harmony and common good of their noble people".
VATICAN CITY, 1 DEC 2010 (VIS) - Made public today was the address delivered by Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. before the summit meeting of heads of State and government of the fifty-six members of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), being held in Astana, Kazakhstan, on 1 and 2 December.
Cardinal Bertone affirmed that the Holy See "does not cease to reiterate that the aim of States should be to protect and respect that human dignity which unites the entire human family. This unity is rooted in four fundamental principles: the centrality of the human person, of solidarity, of subsidiarity and of the common good. These principles harmonise well with the overall concept of security, which is the foundation of our organisation, and are a constant reminder which the political community must bear in mind".
"The CSCE and the OSCE have always had the promotion and protection of human rights in their respective agendas", said Cardinal Bertone. "These fundamental freedoms include the right to religious freedom. ... Developments of recent years and the progress made in drafting the various texts adopted by the OSCE show, with increasingly clarity, that religious freedom can exist in different social systems".
"Closely related to the denial of religious freedom is religiously-motivated intolerance and discrimination, especially against Christians. It is well documented that Christians are the most discriminated and persecuted religious group. Over 200 million of them, belonging to different denominations, live in difficult conditions because of legal and cultural structures".
Referring then to the subject of human trafficking, the cardinal secretary of State pointed out that "the Holy See has always been aware of the seriousness of this crime, a modern form of slavery. ... To prevent trafficking in human beings today, use is often made of stricter immigration policies, increased border controls and combating organised crime. However as long as its victims, once repatriated, find themselves in the same conditions from which they sought to escape, the traffic will not be easy to stop. Thus, anti-trafficking initiatives must also aim to develop and offer effective opportunities to break the cycle of poverty-abuse-exploitation".
Finally the cardinal underlined the ongoing validity of the "ten principles" of the Helsinki Conference, stressing that "the commitments agreed by the OSCE are strong and noble. They are supported by a robust mandate and by the principle of consent. The Holy See reaffirms these commitments and encourages the organisation to stand firm on them".
VATICAN CITY, 1 DEC 2010 (VIS) - Given below is the English-language text of a declaration made by Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. in response to questions about the final declaration of a study week sponsored by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences on the subject: "Transgenic Plants for Food Security in the Context of Development":
"The study week took place at the headquarters of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences from 15 to 19 May 2009, with the participation of forty scholars, seven of whom are Pontifical Academicians (out of a total of eighty), including the late president, Professor Nicola Cabibbo. The other participants were outside experts.
"The final statement, now published by Elsevier in the Acts of the Study Week, was signed by the participants and thus has the value of their academic authority.
"However, the statement must not be considered as a statement of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, which has eighty members, because the academy, as such, has never been consulted about it nor is such a consultation planned.
"Furthermore, the statement cannot be considered as an official position of the Holy See or of the Magisterium of the Church on the topic".
VATICAN CITY, 1 DEC 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father:
- Accepted the resignation from the pastoral carte of the archdiocese of Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of Congo, presented by Archbishop Floribert Songasonga Mwitwa, in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law. He is succeeded by Coadjutor Archbishop Jean-Pierre Tafunga Mbayo S.D.B.
- Accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Trenton, U.S.A., presented by Bishop John Mortimer Smith, upon having reached the age limit. He is succeeded by Coadjutor Bishop David M. O'Connell C.M.
- Accepted the resignation from the office of auxiliary of the archdiocese of Saint Louis, U.S.A., presented by Bishop Robert J. Hermann, upon having reached the age limit.
- Appointed Msgr. Edward M. Rice of the clergy of the archdiocese of Saint Louis, U.S.A., director of vocations to the priesthood, as auxiliary of the same archdiocese (area 15,451, population 2,211,707, Catholics 572,000, priests 716, permanent deacons 262, religious 1,983). The bishop-elect was born in Saint Louis in 1960 and ordained a priest in 1987.
VATICAN CITY, 1 DEC 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, president of Equatorial Guinea.