POPE'S VIDEO MESSAGE TO THE "COURTYARD OF THE GENTILES"
VATICAN CITY, 26 MAR 2011 (VIS) - Given below is the complete text of the Holy Father's video message to participants in the "Courtyard of the Gentiles", a meeting between believers and non-believers promoted by the Pontifical Council for Culture and dedicated to the theme "Enlightenment, religion, shared reason". The event closed yesterday in Paris on the forecourt of the cathedral of Notre-Dame where the Pope's message was broadcast on giant screens. (IMAGE SOURCE RADIO VATICANA)
"Dear young people, dear friends!
"I know that - at the invitation of Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois, archbishop of Paris, and of Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture - you have gathered in large numbers on the forecourt of Notre-Dame de Paris. I greet you all, not forgetting our brothers and friends of the Taize Community. I am grateful to the pontifical council for having taken up and extended my invitation to open a 'Courtyard of the Gentiles' in the Church. The image of the courtyard evokes that vast open space near the Temple of Jerusalem where everyone who did not share the faith of Israel could approach the Temple and pose questions about that religion. There they could meet the scribes, discuss the faith and even pray to the God they did not know. And if, at that time, the Courtyard was also a place of exclusion because Gentiles did not have the right to enter the consecrated area, Jesus Christ came to 'break down the dividing wall' between Jews and Gentiles, so as to 'reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it. So he came and proclaimed peace...', as St. Paul tells us.
"At the heart of the 'City of Light', in front of that magnificent masterpiece of French religious culture which is Notre-Dame, a great space has been opened to give fresh impetus to respectful and friendly encounter among people of differing convictions. You young people, believers and non-believers, have chosen to come together, this evening as in your everyday lives, to meet and to discuss the great questions of human existence. Many people today affirm that they do not belong to any religion, but wish for a new and freer world, more just and more united, more peaceful and happier. As I address you today, I consider everything you have to say to one another. You non-believers call on believers, in particular, to offer the witness of a life coherent with the faith they profess, and you reject any deviation from religion which renders it inhuman. You believers wish to tell your friends that the treasure that is within you merits sharing, it needs to be announced, it requires reflection. The question of God is not a danger to society, it does not imperil human life! The question of God must not be absent from the great questions of our time.
"Dear friends, you must build bridges between one another. You must seize the opportunity that has been given you to seek, in the depths of your consciences and through solid and well-reasoned reflection, the ways to a profound dialogue. You have so much to say to one another. Do not close your consciences before the challenges and problems facing you.
"I deeply believe that the encounter between faith and reason enables man to discover himself. But all too often reason is warped by the pressure of interests and the lure of profit, which it is forced to recognise as the ultimate criterion. The search for truth is not easy. And if each of us is called to make a courageous decision in favour of truth, this is because there are no shortcuts to the happiness and beauty of a perfect life. Jesus says as much in the Gospel: 'The truth will make you free'.
"Dear young people, it is up to you to ensure that in your own countries and in Europe as a whole, believers and non-believers rediscover the path of dialogue. Religions cannot be afraid of a just secularism, a secularism that is open and allows individuals to live according to what they believe in their own consciences. If we are to build a world of freedom, equality and fraternity, believers and non-believers should feel themselves to be free, with equal rights to live their individual and community lives in accordance with their own convictions; and they must be brothers to one another.
"One of the reasons behind this Courtyard of the Gentiles is to foster such feelings of fraternity, over and above individual beliefs but without denying differences and, even more profoundly, recognising that only God, in Christ, gives us inner freedom and the possibility of truly coming together as brothers.
"Our primary attitude, the first action we must undertake together, is that of respecting, assisting and loving all human beings, because they are creatures of God and, in a certain way, embody the path that leads to Him. By continuing the experience you are having this evening you will help to break down the barriers of fear of the other, of foreigners, of those who are not like you; a fear that often arises from mutual ignorance, from scepticism or from indifference. Be sure to strengthen your bonds with all young people without distinction, not forgetting those who live in poverty and solitude, those who suffer through unemployment or sickness, or who feel they are on the margins of society.
"Dear young people, you can share not only your life experience but also your approach to prayer. You believers and non-believers, present here in this Courtyard of the Unknown, are also invited to enter the consecrated area, to pass the magnificent portal of Notre-Dame and enter the cathedral for a moment of prayer. For some of you this will be a prayer to a God you know through the faith, but for others it may be a prayer to an unknown God. Dear young non-believers, joining those who are praying inside Notre-Dame on this day of the Annunciation of the Lord, open your hearts to the Sacred Scriptures, allow yourselves to be drawn by the beauty of the music and, if you truly desire it, allow the feelings closed within you to rise towards the unknown God.
"I am happy to have had the chance to address you this evening for the inauguration of the Courtyard of the Gentiles. And I hope you will be able to respond to other invitations I have made, especially that of this summer's World Youth Day in Madrid. The God Whom believers learn to know invites you to discover Him and to live in Him. Do not be afraid! On your journey together towards a new world, seek the Absolute, seek God, even those of you for whom He is an unknown God.
"May He Who loves each and every one of you bless and protect you. He relies on you to show concern for others and for the future, and you can always rely on Him!"
VATICAN CITY, 26 MAR 2011 (VIS) - This morning Benedict XVI received in audience participants in a pilgrimage from the Italian diocese of Terni-Narni-Amelia, organised to mark the thirtieth anniversary of John Paul II's visit to the steel factories of Terni.
"Today we particularly wish to recall John Paul II for the love he showed towards the world of work", said Pope Benedict, going on to comment on the difficult situation the diocese is facing due to the crisis in the steel industry which is affecting the lives of thousands of people. "I know that the diocesan Church shares your concerns", he told his audience, "and feels her responsibility to remain at your side to communicate the hope of the Gospel and the strength to build a society that is more just and more worthy of man. She does this from the source, from the Eucharist", he said.
"Indeed it is from the Eucharist, in which Christ makes Himself present in His supreme act of love for us all, that we learn to live as Christians in society, so as to make it more welcoming, more united, richer in love, and more attentive to everyone's needs especially those of the weakest".
"The subject of work also comes into this context, a subject which concerns you today with its problems, especially that of unemployment. It is important always to bear in mind that work is a fundamental element for both human beings and society. Difficult or precarious working conditions make the conditions of society itself difficult and precarious, the conditions for ordered living in accordance with the needs of the common good", said the Holy Father. He also turned his attention to workplace safety, noting that "every effort must be made to interrupt the sequence of deaths and accidents. And what can we say about the precariousness of work, especially as concerns the young? This is a factor which does not fail to create anguish in many families!"
"Work", Pope Benedict explained, "helps us to come closer to God and to other people. Jesus Himself was a worker; indeed He spent a large part of His earthly life in Nazareth, in Joseph's workshop. ... His work, which was real physical effort, occupied most of His life on this earth and thus became part of the redemption of man and of the world.
"This fact", he added, "speaks to us of the dignity of work, indeed of the specific dignity of human work which becomes part of the mystery of redemption itself. It is important to see work in this Christian perspective. Often, however, it is seen merely as a means of earning money and even, in some situations in the world, as a means of exploitation and therefore of offence to the very dignity of the person. I would also like to mention the problem of working on Sundays. Unfortunately in our societies the rhythm of consumption risks stealing even the significance of the Sunday feast as a day for the Lord and the community".
Benedict XVI concluded his remarks by reiterating how the Church "supports, comforts and encourages all efforts that seek to guarantee safe, dignified and stable work for everyone", and expressed his closeness to the families of the diocese of Terni-Narni-Amelia.
VATICAN CITY, 27 MAR 2011 (VIS) - This morning Benedict XVI visited Rome's "Fosse Ardeatine" to commemorate the 335 victims executed there in 1944 by German occupying forces in Rome, in reprisal for a bomb attack which had left thirty-three Germans dead.
The Pope, who had been invited to make the visit by the National Association of Italian Families of Martyrs who Fell for the Freedom of the Homeland (ANFIM), was accompanied by Riccardo Di Segni, chief rabbi of Rome, and by Cardinal Andrea Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo whose father was one of the victims of the massacre.
The Holy Father laid a roses at the foot of the monument to the victims and paused for a moment of prayer. Rabbi Di Segni then read out Psalm 129 in Hebrew, while the Pope read Psalm 123 in Italian, and pronounced a prayer for the dead.
Benedict XVI then entered the mausoleum where he signed the visitors' book then delivered an address to the families of the victims and to others present at the ceremony.
"What happened here on 24 March 1944 was a grave offence to God, because it was deliberate violence of man against man. It was the most deplorable effect of war, of any war; while God is life, peace and communion", said the Pontiff.
"Like my predecessors [Paul VI and John Paul II] I have come here to prayer and to renew the memory. I have come to invoke divine Mercy, which alone can fill the void, the abysses opened by men when, impelled by blind violence, they renounce their dignity as children of God and brothers of one another".
"Yes", the Holy Father cried, "wherever man is, on all continents, to whatever people he belongs, he is the child of that Father Who is in heaven; he is brother to everyone in humanity. But the status of son and brother cannot be taken for granted as, unfortunately the Fosse Ardeatine show. We must seek it, we must say yes to good and no to evil. We must believe in the God of love and life, rejecting any other false image of the divine which betrays His Holy Name and, consequently, betrays man, made in His image.
"For this reason", the Pope added concluding his address, "in this place, sorrowful memorial of the most horrendous of evils, the most authentic response is to take one another by the hand, as brothers, and say: Our Father, we believe in You, and with the strength of Your love we wish to walk together in peace, in Rome, in Italy, in Europe in the whole world".
VATICAN CITY, 27 MAR 2011 (VIS) - At midday today, returning from his visit to Rome's "Fosse Ardeatine", the Holy Father appeared at the window of his study to pray the Angelus with faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.
He spoke about the Gospel reading of this third Sunday of Lent, which describes Christ's meeting with the Samaritan woman "who daily went to draw water from the ancient well that dated back to the Patriarch Jacob. That day she found Jesus there, 'tired out by his journey'", the Pope said. "Jesus' tiredness, a sign of His authentic humanity, can be seen as a prelude to the Passion in which He fulfilled the work of our redemption. What particularly emerges from His meeting with the Samaritan woman at the well is the theme of Christ's thirst, which culminates with His cry on the cross: 'I am thirsty'.
"His thirst, like His tiredness, certainly had a physical basis", Benedict XVI added, but as St. Augustine says, Jesus was also "'thirsting for the faith of the woman', as He thirsts for the faith of each one of us. God the Father sent Him to satisfy our thirst for eternal life, giving us His love; but to make us this gift Jesus asks for our faith. The omnipotence of Love always respects man's freedom; it knocks at the door of his heart and patiently awaits an answer.
"The meeting with the Samaritan woman highlights the symbol of water, a clear allusion to the Sacrament of Baptism, font of new life for the faith in the Grace of God", the Holy Father concluded. "This water represents the Holy Spirit, the 'gift' par excellence which Jesus came to bring us from God the Father. ... Thanks to the meeting with Jesus Christ and to the gift of the Holy Spirit, the faith of each individual attains fulfilment in response to the fullness of God's revelation".
VATICAN CITY, 27 MAR 2011 (VIS) - "Faced with the increasingly dramatic news coming out of Libya, I am becoming progressively more concerned about the wellbeing and safety of civilians, and apprehensive over the developments in the situation, which is currently characterised by the use of arms", said the Pope following today's Angelus.
"At times of greater tension it is even more essential to make use of all means at the disposal of diplomacy, and to support even the faintest sign of openness and of desire for reconciliation between the parties involved, in the search for peaceful and lasting solutions.
"In this perspective, as I raise my prayers to the Lord for a return to harmony in Libya and in the entire region of North Africa, I make a heartfelt appeal to international organisations and to political and military leaders for the immediate launch of a dialogue that will halt the use of arms.
"My thoughts also go to the authorities and the citizens of the Middle East where various episodes of violence have taken place over recent days. There too, may the path of dialogue and reconciliation be favoured, in the search for just and fraternal coexistence".
VATICAN CITY, 28 MAR 2011 (VIS) - The Holy See Press Office released the following communique at midday today:
"This morning Benedict XVI received in audience His Beatitude Chrysostomos II, archbishop of New Justiniana and All Cyprus, primate of the Orthodox Church of Cyprus. His Beatitude was accompanied by Fr. Demosthenis Demosthenous and by Ioannis Charilaou.
"The discussions served to examine, among other things, the situation of Christians in the Middle East, and the question of religious freedom on the island of Cyprus. Subsequently, His Beatitude also went on to meet with Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B".
VATICAN CITY, 28 MAR 2011 (VIS) - The Holy See is to participate as an observer at an international conference on Libya scheduled to take place tomorrow, 29 March, in London, England. According to a declaration by Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J., the Holy See will be represented by Archbishop Antonio Mennini, apostolic nuncio to Great Britain.
VATICAN CITY, 28 MAR 2011 (VIS) - A note published today by the Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff announces details of forthcoming ceremonies in which cardinals will take possession of their titular or diaconate churches:
At 4.30 p.m. on Saturday 2 April, Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, will take possession of the diaconate of St. Paul at the Three Fountains, Via Laurentina 473, Rome.
At midday on Sunday 3 April, Cardinal Raymundo Damasceno Assis, archbishop of Aparecida, Brazil, will take possession of the title of Our Lady Immaculate al Tiburtino, Via del Mortaro 24, Rome.
VATICAN CITY, 28 MAR 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:
- Archbishop Joseph Perumthottam of Changanacherry of the Syro-Malabars, India, on his "ad limina" visit, accompanied by Archbishop emeritus Joseph Powathil.
- Bishop Matthew Moolakkatt, O.S.B., auxiliary of Kottayam of the Syro-Malabars, India, on his "ad limina" visit, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Pandarasseril O.S.B.
- Archbishop George Valiamattam of Tellicherry of the Syro-Malabars, India, on his "ad limina" visit.
- Archbishop Andrews Thazhath of Trichur of the Syro-Malabars, India, on his "ad limina" visit, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Raphael Thattil.
On Saturday 26 March he received in separate audiences:
- Cardinal Ivan Dias, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples.
- Bishop Abraham Julios Kackanatt of Muvattupuzha of the Syro-Malankars, India, on his "ad limina" visit.
- Bishop Geevarghese Divannasios Ottathengil of Puthur of the Syro-Malankars, India, on his "ad limina" visit.
- Bishop Joseph Thomas Konnath of Battery of the Syro-Malankars, India, on his "ad limina" visit.
- Bishop Jacob Barnabas Aerath O.I.C., apostolic visitor for Syro-Malankar faithful living outside their "territorium proprium", on his "ad limina" visit.
On Friday 25 March he received in audience Bishop Gerhard Ludwig Muller of Regensburg, Germany.