Tuesday, November 30, 2010

VATICAN: POPE MESSAGE TO BARTHOLOMEW I AND OTHER NEWS

MESSAGE TO BARTHOLOMEW I FOR THE FEAST OF ST. ANDREW


VATICAN CITY, 30 NOV 2010 (VIS REPORT) - As is traditional for the Feast of St. Andrew, a Holy See delegation, led by Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, has travelled to Istanbul to participate in the celebrations for the saint, patron of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. Every year the patriarchate sends a delegation to Rome for the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul Apostles, on 29 June.

This morning the Holy See delegation attended a divine liturgy presided by His Holiness Bartholomew I, at the Church of St. George at Fanar. At the end of the ceremony Cardinal Koch delivered a special Message to the patriarch from Benedict XVI.

"In a world characterised by increasing interdependence and solidarity", the Pope writes, "we are called to proclaim the truth of the Gospel with renewed conviction, and to present the risen Lord as the response to the most profound spiritual questions and aspirations of the men and women of today.

"In order to carry out this great enterprise", he adds, "we must continue along the path towards full communion, showing that we have already united our strengths for a shared witness of the Gospel before the people of our time. For this reason I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Your Holiness and to the Ecumenical Patriarchate for the generous hospitality you offered to delegates of the European Episcopal Conferences who - on the island of Rhodes in October - met with representatives of the Orthodox Churches of Europe for the Catholic-Orthodox Forum on the theme: 'Relations between Church and State: theological and historical perspectives'".

Benedict XVI concludes his Message by assuring the patriarch of the interest with which he follows "your wise efforts for the good of Orthodoxy and for the promotion of Christian values in many international contexts".

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PAPAL MESSAGE FOR THE DEATH OF MANUELA CAMPAGNI

VATICAN CITY, 30 NOV 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father has sent a message to participants in the funeral of Manuela Campagni, one of the "Memores Domini" who serve in his Vatican apartments, who died in a traffic accident on Wednesday 24 November. The funeral was held yesterday at San Piero in Bagno, Italy, home town of the deceased.

"Such an abrupt separation, and the way in which she was taken from us, have caused us great suffering which only the faith can console", the Pope writes. "I find much support in thinking of the words which form the name of her community: 'Memores Domini'. Meditating upon these words, upon their significance, I find a sense of peace, because they evoke a profound relationship which is stronger than death. 'Memores Domini' means 'those who remember the Lord'; in other words, people who live in the recollection of God and of Jesus. In this daily recollection, full of faith and love, they find a meaning for all things, for little actions and for great decisions, for work, study and fraternity. ... This is why I find peace in thinking that Manuela is a 'Memor Domini', a person who lives in the recollection of the Lord. This relationship with Him is more profound than the abyss of death. It is a link that nothing can break".

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BENEDICT XVI'S PRAYER INTENTIONS FOR DECEMBER

VATICAN CITY, 30 NOV 2010 (VIS) - Benedict XVI's general prayer intention for December is: "That our personal experience of suffering may be an occasion for better understanding the situation of unease and pain which is the lot of many people who are alone, sick or aged, and stir us all to give them generous help".

His mission intention is: "That the peoples of the earth may open their doors to Christ and to His Gospel of peace, brotherhood and justice".

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CARDINAL TARCISIO BERTONE VISITS KAZAKHSTAN

VATICAN CITY, 30 NOV 2010 (VIS) - Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. is currently heading the Holy See delegation to the summit 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. The cardinal is being accompanied by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States; Archbishop Miguel Maury Buendia, apostolic nuncio to Kazakhstan, and Msgr. Michael W. Banach, Holy See permanent representative to the OSCE.

On 3 and 4 December Cardinal Bertone, in the company of Archbishop Mamberti, will make a pastoral visit to Kazakhstan during which he will meet with the governmental and religious authorities of the country.

This morning, during a liturgical celebration in Astana's Orthodox cathedral of the Assumption to mark today's Feast of St. Andrew, the secretary of State pronounced a homily during which he expressed his joy "at being able to carry out the important task entrusted to me by the Holy Father Benedict XVI of giving you a fragment of the relics of the Apostle St. Andrew, which are venerated in the Italian city of Amalfi.

"The gift, which I am honoured to be able to place in the hands of His Eminence Metropolitan Alexander, comes in response to the devout request that his predecessor Metropolitan Mefodji and Archbishop Tomash Peta, Catholic metropolitan, jointly made to the Pope. The Pontiff, gladly welcoming this ardent desire, has decided to give their respective Churches two fragments of the precious relics. This is a profoundly significant decision, in that it underlines our shared veneration for the Apostles".

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OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS

VATICAN CITY, 30 NOV 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

- Appointed Bishop Stephen Reichert O.F.M. Cap. of Mendi, Papua New Guinea, as archbishop of Madang (area 27,792, population 412,000, Catholics 153,000, priests 39, religious 81), Papua New Guinea. The archbishop-elect was born in Leoville, U.S.A. in 1943, he was ordained a priest in 1969 and consecrated a bishop in 1995. He succeeds Archbishop William Joseph Kurtz S.V.D., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

- Appointed Cardinal Paolo Sardi as patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta.

ASIA: INDIA: HINDU EXTREMISTS ATTACK CATHOLIC GATHERING

The radicals of the VHP launch false allegations of forced conversions and block access to the school of St. Paul. The Bishop of Udaipur: "We're not doing anything against the Constitution of India or against freedom of conscience, and yet Christians are increasingly attacked and targeted by the far-right Hinduvata groups.

AsiaNews REPORT - The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) said that " on November 26th, Rajasthan VHP activists protested over alleged conversion activities, and shouted slogans and made baseless and fabricated allegations of conversions taking place at a Charismatic Convention being held in St Paul's School in Udaipur. The activists of the VHP (Vishva Hindu Parishad, a group of Hindu extremists) also prevented the participants at the convention from leaving the school and denied entry to others who wanted to participate”. The convention was attended by about 1,250 Catholics from nearby villages. One hundred Hindu activists rallied outside the school, and began shouting slogans against alleged conversions. The crowd grew in number, blocking entry. The people in the school were scared, but they could not leave. The protest and the blockade continued for over an hour.

"We're not doing anything against the Constitution of India or against freedom of conscience, and yet Christians are increasingly targeted and attacked by right-wing Hindutva groups," said Joseph Pathalil bishop of the Diocese of Udaipur. "Every time we meet, according to them, is only for one reason: conversions. This is their constant accusation and it is completely contrived and baseless. "

The bishop also said: "The authorities have responded promptly and came to the rescue. A meeting was arranged between us and the leaders of Hindutva. I assured them that no conversions were taking place. The police then asked some questions from organizers and participants of the charismatic meeting who resolutely and categorically stated that their grandparents were Christians, they were Christians for generations and not new converts. Only then was the crowd of extremists dispersed by".

http://www.asianews.it/news-en/Rajasthan,-Hindu-extremists-attack-a-gathering-of-Charismatic-Catholics-20129.html

AMERICA: USA: CHRISTMAS BILLBOARD BY CATHOLIC LEAGUE

Catholic.org report: The New Jersey side of the Lincoln Tunnel may show an anti-Christmas billboard sponsored by the American Atheists, but on the New York City side of the tunnel, drivers are greeted by a Christmas message from the Catholic League.

The Catholic League Billboard
WASHINGTON, DC (Catholic Online) - Catholic League president Bill Donohue was contacted by a donor soon after the anti-Christmas billboard from American Atheists showed up on the New Jersey side of the Lincoln Tunnel, offering to underwrite a challenge.

Now, on the New York side of the tunnel, drivers are met by a full color image of the Holy Family with the words, "You Know It's Real: This Season Celebrate Jesus. Merry Christmas from the Catholic League."

The battle of the billboards began when an outdoor sign was installed on New Jersey's I-495 near the Lincoln Tunnel. The sign, a traditional nativity scene and the three wise men on their journey in silhouette against a blue starry sky, featured the message, "You KNOW it's a Myth - This Season, Celebrate REASON!"

When asked why they decided to put up a billboard in response, League president Bill Donohue stated, "We decided to counterpunch after a donor came forward seeking to challenge the anti-Christmas statement by American Atheists. Our approach is positive, and services the common good. Theirs is negative, and is designed to sow division. It's what they do.

"So after Christian motorists have had their sensibilities assaulted as they exit New Jersey, they will experience a sense of joy, and satisfaction, as they enter New York City. It's what we do. "Atheists believe "'tis the season" to advertise. This billboard is only a part of what we may be seeing this year. The American Humanist Association and the Stiefel Freethought Foundation are intending to challenge the credibility of Christianity through a $200,000 media blitz using national television, newspaper and magazine advertising.

Jim Goodness, spokesman for the Archdiocese of Newark, put things in perspective when contacted by NewJersey.com for a comment. He had seen the billboard as he returned from a Thanksgiving meal last Thursday and said he wasn't impressed.

Goodness told NewJersey.com that the Archdiocese was not planning a billboard of their own and that the message of Christmas was too resilient to be threatened by a sign.

"We're looking at well over 2,000 years of this message being part of humanity," Goodness stated. "One message on a billboard that's going to be there for a month isn't going to change that."

AFRICA: CAMEROON: BIBLICAL SEMINAR

Agenzia Fides REPORT – The Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) has organised a Continental workshop in Yaoundé, Cameroon, which opens on 1 December, 2010 and ends on 5 December, 2010. The workshop has the theme: “Verbum Domini and Biblical Apostolate in Africa – assessment and way forward”.
According to a statement sent to Fides, the director of the Biblical Apostolate of SECAM, Father Moise A. Adekambi said that the workshop is designed to assess the Biblical Apostolate in Africa, in the light of Post-synodal Exhortation of Pope Benedict XVI of the 2008 Synod on “the Word of God in the life and mission of the Church”.
The 50 promoters and coordinators of the Biblical Apostolate will discuss strategies and actions to put the Exhortation into practice. Among the topics to be addressed are included: biblical insights, Church documents, pastoral care opportunities in the regions of SECAM, methods and strategies for the Biblical Apostolate.

EUROPE: UNITED KINGDOM: DOCUMENTARY ON NUNS WINS GRAND PRIZE

CNA REPORT: A “breathtaking” film recording the life of Carmelite nuns at a London monastery took the grand prize at the International Festival of Cinema and Religion in Italy.

Director Michael Whyte’s documentary “No Greater Love” examines the cloistered nuns of the monastery of the Most Holy Trinity in Notting Hill. Though centered upon Holy Week, the film covers a year in the life of the monastery and its daily rhythms of Divine Office and work.

The nuns are members of the Discalced Order of Carmelites and live without television, radio or newspapers. They maintain silence throughout the day except for two periods of recreation.

The film follows a year in which one woman professes as a novice and one of the senior nuns dies. The movie is primarily observational but interviews several nuns about their life, their faith, their moments of doubt and their belief in the power of prayer.

Writer Kazuo Ishiguro has said the film “looks breathtaking, like various Dutch Masters come to life.”

The International Jury of the International Festival of Cinema and Religion called the film “beautifully crafted” and “a powerful message for those of us who inhabit fast societies that militate against the possibility of wisdom.”

“No Greater Love” was released in the U.K. on April 9, 2010 and was scheduled to be released in Holland, Belgium and Luxembourg in November. It will be released in France on Dec. 29.

The film’s website is http://www.nogreaterlove.co.uk/.

http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/new-breathtaking-documentary-examines-londons-carmelite-nuns/

AUSTRALIA: BISHOP TRIES TO BRING PEOPLE TO CHURCH


CATH NEWS REPORT:

The Catholic weekly's image of Bishop Anthony Fisher meeting the young people at a youth Mass

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The Bishop of Parramatta, Anthony Fisher OP, who coordinated the World Youth Day in Sydney two years ago, wants to bring young people back and closer to the Church in western Sydney, reports The Catholic Weekly."The Church today is called to a New Evangelisation, that is, to proclaim the Gospel anew in cultures, families and to individuals who were formerly Christian whose attachment to Christ and his Church," he said.

"We must renew our energy in bringing people to Christ and sharing his message of faith, hope and compassion with them. There is no more urgent need for our world."

Bishop Fisher said a national study of spirituality among Australians in their teens and twenties - conducted by researchers from Australian Catholic University, Monash University and the Christian Research Association - had found that "most young people believe in God but that only one in six is regularly engaged with any church".

"Another 35 percent are still unsure whether God exists," The Spirit of Generation Y project revealed, he said.

"Young people are searching for meaning in life, asking the big questions about the mysteries of God, of creation and of themselves. We have to be there for them."

He hopes to encourage about 500 young people (aged 16-35), including students and teachers in Catholic schools, to join Pope Benedict XVI at World Youth Day in Spain in August 2011http://www.cathnews.com/article.aspx?aeid=2435
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TODAY'S SAINT: NOV. 30: ST. ANDREW THE APOSTLE

St. Andrew the Apostle

APOSTLE

Feast: November 30



Information:

Feast Day:November 30
Born:

early 1st Century, Bethsaida

Died:mid-late 1st Century, Patras
Major Shrine:Church of St. Andreas at Patras
Patron of:Scotland, Russia, Sicily, Greece, Romania, Amalfi, Luqa (Malta) and Prussia; Army Rangers, mariners, fishermen, fishmongers, rope-makers, singers and performers

St Andrew was a native of Bethsaida, a town in Galilee, upon the banks of the lake of Genesareth. He was the son of Jonas, or John, a fisherman of that town, and brother to Simon Peter, but whether elder or younger the Holy Scriptures have not acquainted us. They had afterwards a house at Capharnaum, where Jesus lodged when he preached in that city. It is no small proof of the piety and good inclinations of St. Andrew, that when St. John Baptist began to preach penance in the desert, he was not content with going to hear him as others did, but became his disciple, passed much of his time in hearing his instructions, and studied punctually to practice all his lessons and copy his example; but he often returned home to his fishing trade. He was with his master when St. John Baptist, seeing Jesus pass by the day after he had been baptized by him, said, "Behold the Lamb of God." Andrew, by the ardour and purity of his desires and his fidelity in every religious practice, deserved to be so far enlightened as to comprehend this mysterious saying, and without delay he and another disciple of the Baptist went after Jesus, who drew them secretly by the invisible bands of his grace, and saw them with the eyes of his spirit before he beheld them with his corporal eyes. Turning back as he walked and seeing them follow him, he said, "What seek ye?" They said they desired to know where he dwelt; and he bade them come and see. There remained but two hours of that day, which they spent with him, and, according to several fathers, the whole night following. "O how happy a day, how happy a night did they pass I " cries out St. Austin. "Who will tell us what things they then learned from the mouth of their Saviour!"

Andrew, who loved affectionately his brother Simon, called afterwards Peter, could not rest till he had imparted to him the infinite treasure which he had discovered, and brought him to Christ that he might also know him. Simon was no sooner come to Jesus than the Saviour of the world admitted him as a disciple and gave him the name of Peter. The brothers tarried one day with him to hear his divine doctrine, and the next day returned home again. From this time they became Jesus’ disciples, not constantly attending upon him, as they afterwards did, but hearing him frequently, as their business would permit, and returning to their trade and family affairs again. Jesus, in order to prove the truth of his divine doctrine by his works, wrought his first miracle at the marriage at Cana in Galilee, and was pleased that these two brothers should be present at it with his holy mother. Jesus, going up to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover, stayed some days in Judea, and baptized in the Jordan. Peter and Andrew also baptized by his authority and in his name. Our Saviour being come back into Lower Galilee in autumn, and meeting one day Peter and Andrew fishing in the lake, before the end of the same year, he called them to a constant attendance upon the ministry of the gospel, saying that he would make them fishers of men. Whereupon they immediately left their nets to follow him, and never went from him again. The year following, the Son of God formed the college of his apostles, in which our two brothers are named by the evangelists at the head of the rest. Not long after Jesus went down to Capharnaum and lodged at the house of Peter and Andrew and, at the request of them both, cured Peter's wife's mother of a fever, by taking her by the hand and rebuking the fever, by which it left her When Christ would not send away the multitude of five thousand persons who had followed him into the desert till they were refreshed with some food, St. Philip said two hundred pennyworth of bread would not suffice. But Andrew seemed to express a stronger faith, saying there was a boy who had five barley loaves and two small fishes—which, indeed, were nothing among so many—but Christ could, if he pleased to exert his power, seeing he was greater than Eliseus who, with twenty loaves, fed a hundred men. When Christ was at Bethania, at the house of Lazarus, a little before his Sacred Passion, certain Greeks who came to worship God at the festival, addressed themselves to Philip, begging him to introduce them to Jesus. Philip did not undertake to do it alone; but spoke to St. Andrew, and they both together spoke to their divine master and procured these strangers that happiness. This shows the great credit St. Andrew had with Christ; on which account St. Bede calls him the Introductor to Christ, and says he had this honour because he brought St. Peter to him. Christ having foretold the destruction of the temple, Peter, John, James, and Andrew asked him privately when that should come to pass, that they might forewarn their brethren to escape the danger.

After Christ's resurrection and the descent of the Holy Ghost, St. Andrew preached the gospel in Scythia, as Origen testifies. Sophronius, who wrote soon after St. Jerome and translated his catalogue of illustrious men and some other works into Greek, adds Sogdiana and Colchis. Theodoret tells us that he passed into Greece; St. Gregory Nazianzen mentions particularly Epirus and St. Jerom Achaia. St. Paulinus says this divine fisherman, preaching at Argos, put all the philosophers there to silence. St. Philastrius tells us, that he came out of Pontus into Greece, and that in his time people at Sinope were persuaded that they had his true picture, and the pulpit in which he had preached in that city. The Muscovites have long gloried that St. Andrew carried the gospel into their country as far as the mouth of the Borysthenes, and to the mountains where the city of Kiou now stands, and to the frontiers of Poland. If the ancients mean European Scythia, when they speak of the theatre of his labours, this authority is favourable to the pretensions of the Muscovites. The Greeks understand it of Scythia, beyond Sebastopolis in Colchis, and perhaps also of the European; for they say he planted the faith in Thrace, and particularly at Byzantium, afterwards called Constantinople. But of this we meet with no traces in antiquity. Several Calendars commemorate the feast of the chair of St. Andrew at Patrae, in Achaia It is agreed that he laid down his life there for Christ. St. Paulinus says, that having taken many people in the nets of Christ he confirmed the faith which he had preached by his blood at Patrae. St. Sophronius, St. Gaudentius, and St. Austin assure us that he was crucified; St. Peter Chrysologus says, on a tree; Pseudo-Hippolytus adds, on an olive-tree. In the hymn of Pope Damasus it is barely mentioned that he was crucified. When the apostle saw his cross at a distance, he is said to have cried out, "Hail, precious cross, that hast been consecrated by the body of my Lord, and adorned with his limbs as with rich jewels. I come to thee exulting and glad: receive me with joy into thy arms. O good cross, that hast received beauty from our Lord's limbs; I have ardently loved thee; long have I desired and sought thee: now thou art found by me, and art made ready for my longing soul; receive me into thy arms, taking me from among men, and present me to my master; that he who redeemed me on thee, may receive me by thee." The body of St. Andrew was translated from Patrae to Constantinople in 357, together with those of St. Luke and St. Timothy, and deposited in the Church of the Apostles, which Constantine the Great had built a little before. St. Paulinus and St. Jerome mention miracles wrought on that occasion. The churches of Milan, Nola, Brescia, and some other places, were at the same time enriched with small portions of these relics, as we are informed by St. Ambrose, St. Gaudentius, St. Paulinus, &c.

It is the common opinion that the cross of St. Andrew was in the form of the letter X, styled a cross decussate, composed of two pieces of timber crossing each other obliquely in the middle. That such crosses were sometimes used is certain; yet no clear proofs are produced as to the form of St. Andrew's cross. It is mentioned in the records of the duchy of Burgundy, that the cross of St. Andrew was brought out of Achaia and placed in the nunnery of Weaune, near Marseilles. It was thence removed into the abbey of St. Victor, in Marseilles, before the year 1250, and is still shown there. A part thereof, enclosed in a silver case gilt, was carried to Brussels by Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy and Brabant, who, in honour of it, instituted the Knights of the Golden Fleece, who for the badge of their Order, wear a figure of this cross, called St. Andrew's cross, or the cross of Burgundy. The Scots honour St. Andrew as principal patron of their country, and their historians tell us that a certain abbot, called Regulus, brought thither from Patrae in 369, or rather from Constantinople some years later, certain relics of this apostle, which he deposited in a church which he built in his honour with a monastery called Abernethy, where now the city of St. Andrews stands. Usher proves that many pilgrims resorted to this church from foreign countries, and that the Scottish monks of that place were the first who were called Culdees. Hungus, King of the Picts, soon after the year 800, in thanksgiving for a great victory which he had gained over the Northumbrians, gave to this church the tenth part of all the land of his dominions. Kenneth II, King of the Scots, having overcome the Picts, and entirely extinguished their kingdom in North Britain, in 845, repaired and richly endowed the Church of St. Regulus, or Rueil, in which the arm of St. Andrew was reverently kept. The Muscovites say he preached the faith among them, and honour him as the principal titular saint of their empire. Peter the Great instituted under his name the first and most noble order of knighthood, or of the blue ribbon; leaving the project of a second Order of St. Alexander Newski, or of the red ribbon, to be carried into execution by his widow. SOURCE

http://www.ewtn.com/saintsHoly/saints/A/standrew.asp

TODAY'S GOSPEL: NOV. 30: Matthew 4: 18 - 22

Matthew 4: 18 - 22
18As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen.
19And he said to them, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men."
20Immediately they left their nets and followed him.
21And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zeb'edee and John his brother, in the boat with Zeb'edee their father, mending their nets, and he called them.
22Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.

Monday, November 29, 2010

VATICAN: POPE: HOMILY ON LIFE AND OTHER NEWS

PROMOTING A CULTURE RESPECTFUL OF LIFE

VATICAN CITY, 27 NOV 2010 (VIS) - In the Vatican Basilica this evening, the Holy Father presided at first Vespers for the first Sunday of Advent. This year's ceremony included a "vigil for unborn life", promoted by the Pontifical Council for the Family, which was also celebrated in dioceses all over the world.

Benedict XVI began his homily by noting that "with this celebration of Vespers the Lord gives us the grace and joy to begin the new liturgical year", in which "we will feel that the Church takes us by the hand and, in the image of Most Holy Mary, expresses her maternity by enabling us to experience the joyful expectation of the coming of the Lord, Who embraces us all in His salvific and consoling love".

Highlighting the fact that this evening's celebration "is being enriched" with the solemn prayer vigil for unborn life, the Pope thanked "everyone who has taken up this invitation, and those who specifically dedicate themselves to protecting human life in various situations of fragility, especially at its beginnings and in its first stages".

"The Incarnation reveals to us - with intense light and in a surprising way - that each human life has exalted and incomparable dignity. Man has an unmistakeable originality with respect to all other living things which inhabit the earth. He is a unique and distinctive being, gifted with intelligence and free will, as well as being composed of material reality. He simultaneously and inseparably lives in the spiritual and the corporeal dimensions".

"God loves us deeply, completely, without distinction", the Pope explained. "He calls us to be His friends. He brings us to share in a reality which is beyond all imagination, all thoughts or words: His divine life. Moved and grateful, we become aware of the value and incomparable dignity of each human being, and of the great responsibility we have towards others".

Human beings, said the Pope, "have the right not to be treated as objects to be possessed, or things to be manipulated at will; not to be reduced to the status of a mere tool for the benefit of others and their interests. Human beings are a good per se, and it is necessary always to seek their integral development. Love for everyone, if sincere, spontaneously turns into preferential attention for the weakest and poorest. This is the context of the Church's concern for nascent life, which is the most fragile, the most threatened by the selfishness of adults and the clouding of conscience. The Church continually repeats Vatican Council II's declarations against abortion and all other violations of unborn life: 'from the moment of its conception life must be guarded with the greatest care'".

The Holy Father went on: "There are cultural tendencies which seek to anaesthetise people's consciences by using pretexts" Yet, "as concerns the embryo in the womb, science itself highlights its autonomy and capacity for interaction with the mother, the co-ordination of its biological processes, the continuity of its development, the increasing complexity of the organism. It is not simply an accumulation of biological matter, but a new living being, ... a new individual of the human race. This is how Jesus was in Mary's womb; this is how it is for each one of us in our mother's womb".

Benedict XVI lamented the fact that "even after birth the life of children continues to be exposed to abandonment, to hunger and misery, to sickness, abuse, violence and exploitation. The multiple violations of children's rights committed in the world are a painful wound on the conscience of all men and women of good will. Faced with the sad spectacle of the injustices committed against the life of man, both before and after birth, I reiterate John Paul II's impassioned appeal for responsibility: 'respect, protect, love and serve life, every human life! Only in this direction will you find justice, development, true freedom, peace and happiness!'"

In this context, the Pope also exhorted "political, economic and media leaders to do everything they can to promote a culture that is ever more respectful of human life, in order to create favourable conditions and support-networks that welcome life and ensure its development".

At the end of the celebration of Vespers the Holy Father read a "Prayer for Life" specially composed for this occasion.

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JAPAN: SEEKING SOLUTIONS TO AVOID NUCLEAR PROLIFERATION

VATICAN CITY, 27 NOV 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received the Letters of Credence of Hidekazu Yamaguchi, the new Japanese ambassador to the Holy See.

In his address to the diplomat the Pope highlighted Japan's important contribution "to the spread of peace, democracy and human rights in the Far East and beyond, especially in developing countries". He likewise expressed the Holy See's satisfaction at the "financing of development and other forms of assistance" practiced by Japan.

"Efforts to construct the unity of the human family through international co-operation will help build a global economy in which all the world comes to occupy its rightful place and can enjoy, as never before, the earth's resources", said the Pope. In this context, he encouraged the Japanese government "to continue its policies of co-operation and development, particularly in areas that most affect the poorest and weakest".

Going on then to recall that this year marks the sixty-fifth anniversary of "the tragic atomic bombardment of Hiroshima and Nagasaki", Benedict XVI said "this tragedy is an insistent reminder to us of the need to persevere in efforts to promote disarmament and the non-proliferation of nuclear arms. Nuclear arms continue to be an important concern; their possession and the risk of their possible use increase tension and mistrust in many parts of the world. Your country", he told the ambassador, "should be cited as an example because of its constant support for political solutions to avoid the proliferation of nuclear arms, and for efforts to ensure that war is not considered a way of resolving conflicts between nations and peoples".

"The Holy See", he concluded, "encourages all nations to work patiently to weave a political and economic fabric of peace, in order to promote integral human development and peoples' authentic aspirations. Part of the finances allocated for armaments could be devolved to projects of economic and social development, of education and healthcare. Without doubt this would contribute to internal stability within countries and among peoples. In these unstable times for markets and employment, the need to ensure the financing of development continues to be a constant concern".

The Pope laid emphasis on the important position Japan occupies in the world economy, noting that "the decisions of its government will continue to have an impact far beyond its frontiers".

"May all men and women of good will see in the current economic crisis an opportunity for discernment and for preparing projects characterised by charity in truth, by solidarity and commitment in an ethically-oriented economy", he said.

The Holy Father then went on to refer to the freedom of conscience and worship which exist in Japan, and the opportunity the Catholic Church has "to live in peace and fraternity with everyone in the country".

"The members of the Catholic Church in Japan", he said, "have long been committed to open and respectful dialogue with other religions. ... The Church has always promoted respect for human beings in their integrity and their spiritual dimension, being an essential element common to all cultures which finds expression in the personal search for the sacred through the practice of religion. ... I wish to ensure the Japanese people", Pope Benedict concluded, "of the great respect with which the Catholic Church undertakes inter-religious dialogue, while remaining firmly committed to fostering mutual trust, understanding and friendship, for the benefit of the entire human family".

CD/ VIS 20101129 (570)

HOPES AND CONCERNS OF THE AMERICAN CONTINENT

VATICAN CITY, 27 NOV 2010 (VIS) - The Special Assembly for America of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops held its fifteenth meeting on 16 and 17 November. The work focused on the question of "New evangelisation for the transmission of the Christian faith" which was one of the key themes of the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation "Ecclesia in America".

Under the presidency of Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, secretary general of the Synod of Bishops, a number of questions concerning the social and ecclesial situation in various countries of the continent were discussed.

According to a communique released after the meeting, America shows "many signs of hope but also some causes for concern. The positive economic development of certain countries was noted with satisfaction, although the more equal distribution of wealth and natural resources should be encouraged". People are showing "growing ecological awareness" and there are "efforts towards greater continental integration ... which seek to recover the unity of the entire continent". Among the reasons for concern, the communique mentions "the alarming social situation in Haiti" where "the concrete solidarity shown by foreign governments and ecclesial organisations would being better fruits if the local bodies were able to make more organic use of the aid received.

"Migration is one of the aspects to arouse most concern", the text adds. Illegal immigrants have to face serious difficulties and are often forcibly repatriated to their countries of origin. The Church remains dedicated to promoting programmes of social and religious assistance to immigrants, in order to favour cultural integration and social peace.

"Other sources of concern include the production and trafficking of drugs, the trafficking of arms, violence and political corruption. ... Particular attention must be given to the promotion of a series of laws that run counter to ethical norms (laws on abortion, euthanasia, and marriage between persons of the same sex), and the diffusion of a spirit that does not conform with Christian values in the fields of education and of communications".

From a social perspective "it must be noted with satisfaction that electoral processes regularly take place in various countries. ... Nonetheless, there is no lack of ideological attempts to alter constitutional and legislative norms, provoking internal tensions even with local Churches. ... In this context the tendency is to ignore the Catholic Church, excluding her as a partner in social dialogue despite the high credibility she enjoys among the people.

"In the ecclesial field, one cause for consolation is the increase in vocations to the priesthood, though this varies greatly between different countries and between different dioceses. ... One particularly important aspect is the awareness that all the Church on the continent must be in a state of mission".

"The impact of the Twelfth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the Word of God in the life and the mission of the Church was judged to be very positive, as was that of its respective Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation 'Verbum Domini'".

"The other point of order", the communique reads, "concerned the expectations of the Church in America about the Thirteenth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, due to be held from 7 to 28 October 2012 on the theme 'The new evangelisation for the transmission of the Christian faith'".

The next meeting of the Special Assembly for America of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops will be held from 27 to 28 October 2011.

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OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS

VATICAN CITY, 27 NOV 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

- Erected the new diocese of Bunda (area 5,530, population 1,023,390, Catholics 335,000, priests 2, religious 2) Tanzania, with territory taken from the archdiocese of Mwanza and from the diocese of Musoma, making it a suffragan of the metropolitan church of Mwanza. He appointed Fr. Renatus Leonard Nkwande, diocesan administrator of Mwanza, as first bishop of the new diocese. The bishop-elect was born in Mantare, Tanzania in 1965 and ordained a priest in 1995.

- Appointed Fr. Santo Loku Pio Doggale of the clergy of the archdiocese of Juba, Sudan, vice pastor of the cathedral, as auxiliary of the same archdiocese (area 25,137, population 875,199, Catholics 679,916, priests 45, religious 56). The bishop-elect was born in Katire, Kenya in 1969 and ordained a priest in 2001.

- Appointed Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, as his special envoy to celebrations marking the fourth centenary of the foundation of the "Santo Tomas" Pontifical University at Manila, Philippines, due to take place on 28 January 2011.

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ADVENT, A TIME OF EXPECTATION

VATICAN CITY, 28 NOV 2010 (VIS) - At midday today, the first Sunday of Advent and beginning of the liturgical year, the Holy Father appeared at the window of his study to pray the Angelus with faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.

The Pope remarked on the dual nature of the period of Advent, which "looks both to the first coming of the Son of God, when He was born of the Virgin Mary, and to His glorious return, when He will come 'to judge the living and the dead'". He described this "expectation" as a "profoundly human aspect in which the faith becomes, so to say, a single thing with our flesh and our heart.

"Expectation and awaiting represent a dimension that touches our entire individual, family and social existence", he added. "Expectation is present in many situations, from the smallest and most insignificant to the most important". These include "a couple expecting a child; awaiting a relative or friend who comes to visit us from far way; ... the expectation of the result of some decisive examination; ... in personal relations the expectation of meeting the loved one. ... We could say that man is alive so long as he expects, so long as hope remains alive his heart. And man can be recognised by his expectations: our moral and spiritual 'stature' may be measured by what our hopes are".

Thus, "in this time of preparation for Christmas each of us may ask ourselves: what do I expect? ... And this same question can be posed at the level of the family, the community, the nation. What do we expect together? What unites our aspirations, what brings us together?" In this context, Benedict XVI recalled how "in Israel in the period prior to Jesus' birth there was a very strong expectation of the Messiah, ... who would free the people from all moral and political slavery and establish the Kingdom of God.

"But no-one could have imagined that the Messiah would be born of a humble girl like Mary, who had been promised in marriage to the good Joseph. Neither could she have imagined it; yet in her heart the expectation of the Saviour was so great, her faith and hope so ardent, that in her He could find a worthy mother. ... There is a mysterious correspondence between the expectation of God and that of Mary, the creature 'full of grace', completely transparent before the Almighty's plan of love. Let us learn from her, the woman of Advent, to live daily life with a new spirit, with feelings of profound expectation which only the coming of God can satisfy".

In his greetings following the Marian prayer, Benedict XVI made various references to respect for unborn life. Addressing Polish pilgrims he said: "With Mary, who lovingly awaited the birth of the Divine Child, let us persevere in our prayers, thanking God for the gift of life and asking Him to protect all human existence. May the future of the world become the civilisation of love and of life".

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CHURCH IN PHILIPPINES: CONTINUE TO BE A LEAVEN IN SOCIETY

VATICAN CITY, 29 NOV 2010 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican, the Holy Father received prelates from the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines, who have just completed their "ad limina" visit. Addressing them in English, the Pope referred to the close ties that for four centuries have united the Philippines and the See of Peter, highlighting the benefits the leaven of faith has brought to the Filipino people and their culture.

"To be such a leaven, the Church must always seek to find her proper voice, because it is by proclamation that the Gospel brings about its life-changing fruits", he said. "Thanks to the Gospel's clear presentation of the truth about God and man, generations of zealous Filipino clergymen, religious and laity have promoted an ever more just social order. At times, this task of proclamation touches upon issues relevant to the political sphere. This is not surprising, since the political community and the Church, while rightly distinct, are nevertheless both at the service of the integral development of every human being and of society as a whole".

"At the same time, the Church's prophetic office demands that she be free 'to preach the faith, to teach her social doctrine ... and also to pass moral judgments in those matters which regard public order whenever the fundamental human rights of a person or the salvation of souls requires it'. In the light of this prophetic task, I commend the Church in the Philippines for seeking to play its part in support of human life from conception until natural death, and in defence of the integrity of marriage and the family. In these areas you are promoting truths about the human person and about society which arise not only from divine revelation but also from natural law, an order which is accessible to human reason and thus provides a basis for dialogue and deeper discernment on the part of all people of good will. I also note with appreciation the Church's work to abolish the death penalty in your country.

"A specific area in which the Church must always find her proper voice comes in the field of social communications and the media", Pope Benedict added. "It is important that the Catholic laity proficient in social communications take their proper place in proposing the Christian message in a convincing and attractive way. If the Gospel of Christ is to be a leaven in Filipino society, then the entire Catholic community must be attentive to the force of the truth proclaimed with love".

Finally the Holy Father turned his attention to "a third aspect of the Church's mission of proclaiming the life-giving word of God: ... her commitment to economic and social concerns, in particular with respect to the poorest and the weakest in society". The Church in the Philippines, he said, takes "a special interest in devoting herself more fully to care for the poor. It is heartening to see that this undertaking has borne fruit, with Catholic charitable institutions actively engaged throughout the country. Many of your fellow citizens, however, remain without employment, adequate education or basic services, and so your prophetic statements and your charitable action on behalf of the poor continue to be greatly appreciated. In addition to this effort", he concluded, "you are rightly concerned that there be an ongoing commitment to the struggle against corruption, since the growth of a just and sustainable economy will only come about when there is a clear and consistent application of the rule of law throughout the land".

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AUDIENCES

VATICAN CITY, 29 NOV 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

- Cardinal Marc Ouellet P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.

- Eight prelates of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines, on their "ad limina" visit:

- Bishop Leopoldo C. Jaucian S.V.D. of Bangued.

- Bishop Sergio L. Utleg of Laoag.

- Bishop Camilo D. Gergorio, prelate of Batanes.

- Bishop Ramon B. Villena of Bayombong.

- Bishop Joseph A. Nacua O.F.M. Cap. of Ilagan.

- Bishop Riodolfo F. Beltran, apostolic vicar of Bontoc-Lagawe.

- Bishop Marlo M. Peralta of Alaminos.

- Bishop Sofronio A. Bancud S.S.S. of Cabanatuan.

On Saturday 27 November he received in separate audiences:

- Eight prelates of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines, on their "ad limina" visit:

- Archbishop Ernesto A. Salgado of Nueva Segovia.

- Archbishop Diosdado A. Talamayan of Tuguegarao, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Ricardo L. Baccay.

- Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Renato P. Mayugba.

- Archbishop Paciano B. Aniceto of San Fernando, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishops Roberto C. Mallari and Pablo Virgilio S. David.

- Justino Maria Aparicio Guterres, ambassador of the Democratic Republic of East Timor, on his farewell visit.