VIS REPORTS: CHRISTIANS ARE CALLED TO BE WITNESSES OF PRAYER
VATICAN CITY, 30 NOV 2011 (VIS) - This morning's general audience was celebrated in the Paul VI Hall in the presence of 5,500 faithful. Having recently completed a series of catecheses dedicated to prayer in the Old Testament, the Pope today began a new cycle on the subject of the prayer of Christ which, he said, was "like a hidden canal irrigating His life, relationships and actions, and guiding Him with increasing firmness to the total gift of self, in keeping with the loving plan of God the Father". (IMAGE SOURCE: RADIO VATICANA)
One particularly significant moment of prayer followed the Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan. This, the Pope noted, poses a query as to why Jesus, Who was without sin, should have chosen to submit Himself to John's Baptism of penance and conversion. John the Baptist himself raised the question, saying "I need to be baptised by you, and do you come to me?". The Holy Father explained how "by emerging Himself in the Jordan River, Jesus ... expressed His solidarity with people who recognise their sins, who chose to repent and change their lives. He helps us to understand that being part of the people of God means entering into a new life, a life in conformity with God. By this gesture Jesus anticipated the cross, beginning His active life by taking the place of sinners, bearing the weight of the sin of all humankind on His shoulders".
By praying after His Baptism, Jesus demonstrates His intimate bond with the Father, "experiencing His paternity and apprehending the demanding beauty of His love. Speaking to God, Jesus receives confirmation of His mission", with the words that resound from on high: "This is my son, the Beloved" and with the descent of the Holy Spirit upon Him. "Through prayer", the Pope said, "Jesus lives in uninterrupted contact with the Father in order to achieve His project of love for mankind". It is in this profound union with the Father that Jesus made the move for the hidden life of Nazareth to His public ministry.
Jesus' prayer had its roots in His family, deeply attached to the religious tradition of the People of Israel, but its "most profound and essential origin is in the fact that He is the Son of God, in a unique relationship with God the Father". In the Gospel narratives "the setting for Jesus' prayers always stands at the crossroads between the traditions of His people and the novelty of a personal and unique rapport with God. The 'deserted place' to which He often retired, the 'mountain' He ascended to pray and the 'night' which gave Him solitude, all recall phases of God's revelation in the Old Testament and indicate the continuity of His plan of salvation".
"Jesus' prayer enters into all stages of His ministry and into every day of His life. It is not interrupted by fatigue. Quite the contrary, the Gospels make it clear that Jesus was wont to spend part of the night in prayer, ... and when the decisions to be taken become more urgent and complex, His prayer becomes longer and more intense".
"Contemplating Jesus' prayer, we should ask ourselves how we pray", said Benedict XVI, "and how much time we dedicate to our relationship with God". In this context he highlighted "the importance of the prayerful reading of Holy Scripture. ... Listening, meditating and remaining in silence before the Lord is an art we learn through constant practice", he said.
Christians are today called "to be witnesses of prayer, because our world often remains closed to the divine, to the hope which leads to the encounter with God. Through profound friendship with Jesus, by living in Him and with Him as children of the Father, through faithful and constant prayer, we can open ourselves to heaven and God. Indeed, by following the paths of prayer, ... we can also help others to follow them".
In conclusion, the Holy Father exhorted the faithful "to maintain an intense relationship with God, to pray, not intermittently but constantly and faithfully, so as to illuminate our lives as Jesus taught us. And let us ask Him to help us communicate with those around us, with those whom we meet on our journey, transmitting to them the joy of meeting the Lord, light of life".
VATICAN CITY, 30 NOV 2011 (VIS) - Following his catechesis this morning, the Holy Father delivered greetings in various languages to groups attending his general audience.
Speaking English to delegations from a number of countries participating in a meeting being promoted by the Sant'Egidio Community on the theme "No Justice without Life", he said: "I express my hope that your deliberations will encourage the political and legislative initiatives being promoted in a growing number of countries to eliminate the death penalty and to continue the substantive progress made in conforming penal law both to the human dignity of prisoners and the effective maintenance of public order".
He then turned to greet students of the Pontifical French Seminary in Rome, and a delegation from the French diocese of Belley-Ars accompanied by Bishop Guy Bagnard, who have come to Rome with a portrait of St. John Mary Vianney for the Vatican Basilica in commemoration of the Year for Priests. "Following the example of St. John Mary Vianney", he told them, "let us rediscover the importance of prayer in our lives".
The Holy Father also welcomed nuns of the Congregation of Daughters of Divine Charity who, accompanied by Cardinal Vinko Puljic, archbishop of Vrhbosna, Bosnia Herzegovina, have come to Rome on a pilgrimage of thanksgiving for the recent beatification in Sarajevo of five members of their order martyred during World War II. "Grateful for their witness, let us pray to God to give us the courage to persevere in our service", the Pope said.
Finally, he thanked representatives of the Italian Federation of Bakers for their gift of a number of "panttoni" which will be used for the Pope's charity.
VATICAN CITY, 30 NOV 2011 (VIS) - Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, is leading a delegation sent by the Holy See to Istanbul to participate in celebrations marking the Feast of St. Andrew, patron of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. The Holy See and the Patriarchate exchange regular annual visits for the feast days of their respective patrons.
The Holy See delegation to this year's celebration - which coincides with the twentieth anniversary of the election of His Holiness Bartholomew I as Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople - is made up of Cardinal Koch; Bishop Brian Farrell, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity; Fr. Andrea Palmieri, an official of the same dicastery, and Archbishop Antonio Lucibello, apostolic nuncio to Turkey. The group attended a divine liturgy celebrated by Bartholomew I in the patriarchal church of Fanar, then met with the Patriarch and the synodal commission which oversees relations with the Catholic Church.
Cardinal Koch gave Bartholomew I a gift and a message from the Holy Father. In the message, which was read out at the end of the divine liturgy, Benedict XVI recalls his most recent meeting with the Patriarch during last month's Day of Prayer for Peace in the Italian town of Assisi. "I give thanks to the Lord for having allowed me to strengthen the bonds of sincere friendship and true brotherhood which unite us, and to bear witness before the entire world to the broad vision we share".
The message continues: "The present cultural, social, economic, political and religious circumstances place exactly the same challenges before Catholics and Orthodox. Announcing the mystery of salvation through the death and resurrection of Christ needs to undergo deep renewal in many regions which once accepted the light but are now suffering the effects of secularisation which impoverishes man in his deepest dimension. Faced with this emergency we must show all mankind that we have achieved a maturity in the faith, that we are capable of coming together despite human tensions, thanks to our joint search for truth and with the awareness that the future of evangelisation depends upon the witness of unity and the level of charity the Church can show".
The Pope concludes by asking the Lord that, through the intercession of Sts. Andrew, Peter and Paul, both Church may receive "the gift of unity which comes from on high".
VATICAN CITY, 30 NOV 2011 (VIS) - Benedict's general prayer intention for December is: "That all peoples may grow in harmony and peace through mutual understanding and respect".
His mission intention is: "That children and young people may be messengers of the Gospel and that they may be respected and preserved from all violence and exploitation".
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VATICAN CITY, 30 NOV 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father:
- Appointed Bishop Jose Francisco Rezende Dias of Duque de Caxias, Brazil, as metropolitan archbishop of Niteroi (area 4,722, population 2,206,000, Catholics 1,185,959, priests 139, permanent deacons 59, religious 269), Brazil. He succeeds Archbishop Alano Maria Pena O.P., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.
- Appointed Bishop Esmeraldo Barreto de Farias of Santarem, Brazil, as archbishop of Porto Velho (area 84,696, population 664,958, Catholics 598,000, priests 29, permanent deacons 1, religious 128), Brazil. He succeeds Archbishop Moacyr Grechi O.S.M., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.
- Appointed Bishop Nicholas Mang Thang of Hakha, Myanmar, as coadjutor archbishop of Mandalay (area 212,407, population 9,078,000, Catholics 23,617, priests 57, religious 173), Myanmar, and as apostolic administrator "sede vacante et ad nutum Sanctae Sedis" of Hakha.
- Erected the new diocese of Gaoua (area 10,411, population 260,550, Catholics 19,074, priests 14, religious 24) Burkina Faso, with territory taken from the diocese of Diebougou, making it a suffragan of the metropolitan church of Bobo-Dioulasso. He appointed Fr. Modeste Kambou, vicar general of the diocese of Diebougou, as first bishop of the new diocese. The bishop-elect was born in Bouti, Burkina Faso in 1963 and ordained a priest in 1991. He has worked as parochial vicar, and as professor and later director of the minor seminary of St. Tarcisius of Kakapele.
- Accepted the resignation from the office of auxiliary of the diocese of Osnabruck, Germany, presented by Bishop Theodor Kettmann, in accordance with canons 411 and 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law.
VATICAN CITY, 30 NOV 2011 (VIS) - The following prelates died in recent weeks:
- Bishop Luigi Belloli, emeritus of Anagni-Alatri, Italy, on 5 November at the age of 88.
- Archbishop Oscar Rolando Cantuarias Pastor, emeritus of Piura, Peru, on 7 November at the age of 80.
- Bishop Domenico Tarcisio Cortese, emeritus of Mileto-Nicotera-Tropea, Italy, on 11 November at the age of 80.
- Bishop Justo Oscar Laguna, emeritus of Moron, Argentina, on 3 November at the age of 82.
- Bishop Jean-Paul Randriamanana, auxiliary of Antananarivo, Madagascar, on 9 November at the age of 61.
- Bishop Crescenzio Rinaldini, emeritus of Aracuai, Brazil, on 24 October at the age of 85.
- Archbishop Hector Rueda Hernandez, emeritus of Medellin, Colombia, on 1 November at the age of 90.
- Bishop Ricardo Watty Urquidi M.Sp.S. of Tepic, Mexico, on 1 November at the age of 73.
- Bishop Dieudonne Yougbare of Koupela, Burkina Faso, on 4 November at the age of 94.