VIS REPORTS: MAN FORGETS BUT GOD REMAINS FAITHFUL
VATICAN CITY, 19 OCT 2011 (VIS) - Some 20,000 pilgrims attended Benedict XVI's general audience, which was held this morning in St. Peter's Square. Continuing a series of catecheses dedicated to the Psalms, the Holy Father focused his attention on Psalm 136, "a great hymn of praise which celebrates the Lord in the many and repeated manifestations of His goodness down human history". (IMAGE SOURCE: RADIO VATICANA)
The Pope explained how, in Jewish tradition, this Psalm is sung at the end of the Passover supper, and therefore it was probably also pronounced by Jesus at the last Passover He celebrated with His disciples. The text enumerates God's many interventions in favour of His people "and each proclamation of a salvific action by the Lord is answered by an antiphon reiterating the main cause for praise: God's eternal love, a love which, according to the Hebrew term used, implies faithfulness, mercy, goodness, grace and tenderness".
God is first presented as "He Who 'does great wonders', first among them that of the creation: heaven, earth and stars. ... With the creation the Lord shows Himself in all His goodness and beauty. He commits Himself to life, revealing a desire for good whence all other salvific actions arise".
The Psalm goes on to consider God's manifestations in history, evoking the great moment when the Israelites were freed from slavery in Egypt. The forty years of wandering in the desert were "a decisive period for Israel which, allowing itself to be guided by the Lord, learned to live on faith, obedient and docile to the laws of God. Those were difficult years, marked by the harshness of life in the desert, but also a happy time of confidence and filial trust in the Lord".
"The history of Israel has known exhilarating moments of joy, of fullness of life, of awareness of the presence of God and His salvation", said the Pope. "But it has also been marked by episodes of sin, painful periods of darkness and profound affliction. Many were the adversaries from whom the Lord liberated His people". The Psalm speaks of these events, in particular the Babylonian exile and the destruction of Jerusalem, "when it seemed that Israel had lost everything, even its own identity, even its trust in the Lord. However, God remembers, and frees. The salvation of Israel and of all mankind is bound to the Lord's faithfulness, to His memory. While man forgets easily, God remains faithful: His memory is a precious casket containing that 'love which endures forever' about which our Psalm speaks".
The Psalm concludes by reminding us that God feeds His creatures, "caring for life and giving bread. ... In the fullness of time the Son of God became man to give life, for the salvation of each one of us; and He continues to gives Himself as bread in the mystery of the Eucharist, so as to draw us into His covenant, which makes us children. So great is God's merciful goodness, the sublimity of His 'love which endures forever'". In conclusion the Pope read a quote from the First Letter of St. John, advising the faithful to bear it in mind in their prayers: "See what love the Father has given us, that that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are".
VATICAN CITY, 19 OCT 2011 (VIS) - "Migrations and New Evangelisation" is the theme chosen by Benedict XVI for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees 2012, which will be celebrated on 15 January 2012. Extracts from the English-language edition of the text are given below:
"Proclaiming Jesus Christ the one Saviour of the world 'constitutes the essential mission of the Church. It is a task and mission which the vast and profound changes of present-day society make all the more urgent'. Indeed, today we feel the urgent need to give a fresh impetus and new approaches to the work of evangelisation in a world in which the breaking down of frontiers and the new processes of globalisation are bringing people and peoples even closer. This is both because of the development of the means of social communication and because of the frequency and ease with which individuals and groups can move about today".
"'Migrations and New Evangelisation' is the theme I have chosen this year for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees. It originates from the aforesaid situation. The present time, in fact, calls upon the Church to embark on a new evangelisation also in the vast and complex phenomenon of human mobility. This calls for an intensification of her missionary activity both in the regions where the Gospel is proclaimed for the first time and in countries with a Christian tradition".
"Internal or international migration, in fact, as an opening in search of better living conditions or to flee from the threat of persecution, war, violence, hunger or natural disasters, has led to an unprecedented mingling of persons and peoples, with new problems not only from the human standpoint but also from the ethical, religious and spiritual viewpoints. The current and obvious consequences of secularisation, the emergence of new sectarian movements, widespread insensitivity to the Christian faith and a marked tendency to fragmentation are obstacles to focusing on a unifying reference that would encourage the formation of 'one family of brothers and sisters in societies that are becoming ever more multiethnic and intercultural, where also people of various religions are urged to take part in dialogue, so that a serene and fruitful coexistence with respect for legitimate differences may be found'. ... Our time is marked by endeavours to efface God and the Church's teaching from the horizon of life, while doubt, scepticism and indifference are creeping in, seeking to eliminate all the social and symbolic visibility of the Christian faith.
"In this context migrants who have known and welcomed Christ are not infrequently constrained to consider Him no longer relevant to their lives, to lose the meaning of their faith, no longer to recognise themselves as members of the Church, and often lead a life no longer marked by Christ and His Gospel. Having grown up among peoples characterised by their Christian faith they often emigrate to countries in which Christians are a minority or where the ancient tradition of faith, no longer a personal conviction or a community religion, has been reduced to a cultural fact. Here the Church is faced with the challenge of helping migrants keep their faith firm even when they are deprived of the cultural support that existed in their country of origin, and of identifying new pastoral approaches, as well as methods and expressions, for an ever vital reception of the Word of God".
"Today's migration phenomenon is also a providential opportunity for the proclamation of the Gospel in the contemporary world. Men and women from various regions of the earth who have not yet encountered Jesus Christ or know Him only partially, ask to be received in countries with an ancient Christian tradition. It is necessary to find adequate ways for them to meet and to become acquainted with Jesus Christ and to experience the invaluable gift of salvation which, for everyone, is a source of 'life in abundance'".
"Pastoral workers - priests, religious and lay people - play a crucial role in the demanding itinerary of the new evangelisation in the context of migration. They work increasingly in a pluralist context: in communion with their ordinaries, drawing on the Church's Magisterium. I invite them to seek ways of fraternal sharing and respectful proclamation, overcoming opposition and nationalism. For their part, the Churches of origin, of transit and those that welcome the migration flows should find ways to increase their cooperation for the benefit both of those who depart and those who arrive, and, in any case, of those who, on their journey, stand in need of encountering the merciful face of Christ in the welcome given to the neighbour".
"Asylum seekers, who fled from persecution, violence and situations that put their life at risk, stand in need of our understanding and welcome, of respect for their human dignity and rights, as well as awareness of their duties. Their suffering pleads with individual States and the international community to adopt attitudes of reciprocal acceptance, overcoming fears and avoiding forms of discrimination, and to make provisions for concrete solidarity also through appropriate structures for hospitality and resettlement programmes. All this entails mutual help between the suffering regions and those which, already for years, have accepted a large number of fleeing people, as well as a greater sharing of responsibilities among States.
"The press and the other media have an important role in making known, correctly, objectively and honestly, the situation of those who have been forced to leave their homeland and their loved ones and want to start building a new life.
"Christian communities are to pay special attention to migrant workers and their families by accompanying them with prayer, solidarity and Christian charity, by enhancing what is reciprocally enriching, as well as by fostering new political, economic and social planning that promotes respect for the dignity of every human person, the safeguard of the family, access to dignified housing, to work and to welfare".
"Lastly, I would like to call to mind the situation of numerous international students who are facing problems of integration, bureaucratic difficulties, hardship in the search for housing and welcome structures. Christian communities are to be especially sensitive to the many young men and women who, precisely because of their youth, need reference points in addition to cultural growth, and have in their hearts a profound thirst for truth and the desire to encounter God. Universities of Christian inspiration are to be, in a special way, places of witness and of diffusion of the new evangelisation, seriously committed to contributing to social, cultural and human progress in the academic milieu. They are also to promote inter-cultural dialogue and enhance the contribution that international students can give".
VATICAN CITY, 19 OCT 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father:
- Appointed Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, secretary general of the Governorate of Vatican City State, as apostolic nuncio to the United States of America.
- Appointed Msgr. David D. Kagan of the clergy of the diocese of Rockford, U.S.A., vicar general and moderator of the diocesan Curia, as bishop of Bismarck (area 88,720, population 270,000, Catholics 65,284, priests 98, permanent deacons 77, religious 147), U.S.A. The bishop-elect was born in Spring Grove,U.S.A. in 1949 and ordained a priest in 1975. He has served as parish administrator and pastor in several parishes, and has worked as a teacher of religion, an official of the diocesan tribunal and editor of the diocesan newspaper. He succeeds Bishop Paul A. Zipfel, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.