POPE RECEIVES MEMBERS OF THE ISRAELI RELIGIOUS COUNCIL
VATICAN CITY, 10 NOV 2011 (VIS) - "In our troubled times, dialogue between different religions is becoming ever more important in the generation of an atmosphere of mutual understanding and respect that can lead to friendship and solid trust in each other. This is pressing for the religious leaders of the Holy Land who, while living in a place full of memories sacred to our traditions, are tested daily by the difficulties of living together in harmony". (RADIO VATICANA IMAGE)
With these words Benedict XVI greeted members of the Israeli Religious Council, whom he received in audience this morning in the Vatican. The Council brings together leaders of the main religious communities in Israel, as well as representatives from other institutions and organisations. This was the first meeting of its kind in the history of relations between the Israel and the Holy See.
"As I remarked in my recent meeting with religious leaders at Assisi", said the Pope continuing his English-language remarks, "today we find ourselves confronted by two kinds of violence: on the one hand, the use of violence in the name of religion and, on the other, the violence that is the consequence of the denial of God which often characterises life in modern society. In this situation, as religious leaders we are called to reaffirm that the rightly lived relationship of man to God is a force for peace. This is a truth that must become ever more visible in the way in which we live with each other on a daily basis. Hence, I wish to encourage you to foster a climate of trust and dialogue among the leaders and members of all the religious traditions present in the Holy Land.
"We share a grave responsibility to educate the members of our respective religious communities", he added, "with a view to nurturing a deeper understanding of each other and developing an openness towards cooperation with people of religious traditions other than our own. ... Justice, together with truth, love and freedom, is a fundamental requirement for lasting and secure peace in the world. Movement towards reconciliation requires courage and vision, as well as the trust that it is God Himself Who will show us the way. We cannot achieve our goals if God does not give us the strength to do so.
"When I visited Jerusalem in May 2009, I stood in front of the Western Wall and, in my written prayer placed between the stones of the Wall, I asked God for peace in the Holy Land. I wrote: 'God of all ages, on my visit to Jerusalem, the City of Peace, spiritual home to Jews, Christians and Muslims alike, I bring before You the joys, the hopes and the inspirations, the trials, the suffering and the pain of all Your people throughout the world. God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, hear the cry of the afflicted, the fearful, the bereft; send Your peace upon this Holy Land, upon theMiddle East, upon the entire human family; stir the hearts of all who call upon Your name to walk humbly in the path of justice and compassion. 'The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul that seeks Him!'
"May the Lord hear my prayer for Jerusalem today and fill your hearts with joy during your visit to Rome. May He hear the prayer of all men and women who ask him for the peace of Jerusalem. Indeed, let us never cease praying for the peace of the Holy Land, with confidence in God Who Himself is our peace and consolation".
VATICAN CITY, 10 NOV 2011 (VIS) - Made public this morning was a Message from the Holy Father to Archbishop Antonio Arregui Yarza of Guayaquil and president of the Ecuadorian Episcopal Conference, for the second Ecuadorian National Family Congress, which began yesterday and is due to close on 12 November. The congress, which has as its theme "The Ecuadorian Family on Mission: work and rest at the service of the individual and of the common good" is taking place in the context of the Continental Mission promoted by the Episcopate of Latin America and the Caribbean, and in preparation for the seventh World Meeting of Families, due to be held in Milan, Italy, in June 2012.
"The family", writes Benedict XVI, "born of a covenant of love and of complete and sincere commitment between a man and woman in marriage, is not a private entity enclosed in itself. By its vocation it makes a wonderful and decisive contribution to the common good of society and the mission of the Church. Society is not a mere aggregation of individuals, but the outcome of relationships between people - husband and wife, parents and children, siblings - the foundation of which is to be found in family life and in the bonds of affection deriving therefrom. Each family, through its children, gives society its own experience of human richness. We can well say that the health and value of relationships within a society depend upon the health and value of relationships within families".
"Work and rest are particularly associated with the life of families: they affect the choices families make, influence relations between spouses and among parents and children, and affect the ties of families with society and with the Church".
"Through work man comes to see himself as a participant in God's plan of creation. This is why unemployment or precarious work undermine man's dignity, creating not just situations of injustice and poverty which frequently degenerate into desperation, criminality and violence, but also crises of identity. It is, then, vital that serious, effective and judicious measures be taken on all sides, accompanied by an indissoluble and forthright will to find ways to ensure that everyone has access to dignified, stable and well paid employment, through which they may seek sanctity and participate actively in the development of society, combining intense and responsible labour with adequate time for a rich, fruitful and harmonious family life".
"A serene and constructive home environment, with its duties and its affections, is the first school of work and the best place in which a person may discover his potential, nurture his ambitions, and foster his most noble aspirations. Moreover, family life teaches us to overcome selfishness, to nourish solidarity, not to disdain sacrifice for another's happiness, to value what is good and true, and to apply ourselves with conviction and generosity in the name of our joint wellbeing and reciprocal good, showing responsibility towards ourselves, others and the environment".
"Rest makes our time more human, opening it to the encounter with God, with others and with nature. For this reason families need to rediscover the genuine significance of rest, and especially of Sunday, the Day of God and man. In the Sunday celebration of the Eucharist, families experience the real presence of the Risen Lord in the here and now, they receive new life, welcome the gift of the Spirit, increase their love for the Church, listen to the Divine Word, share the Eucharistic bread and open to fraternal love".
VATICAN CITY, 10 NOV 2011 (VIS) - Replying to questions raised by journalists, Holy See Press Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. has announced that Benedict XVI is studying the possibility of travelling to Cuba and Mexico in the spring of 2012. "In recent days", Fr. Lombardi said, "the nuncios in Mexico and Cuba have been instructed to inform the highest civil and religious authorities that the Pope is examining concrete plans to visit those States, in response to invitations he has received".
The plans will be finalised over coming weeks, when "the Pope will take his final decision, which he will communicate in the way and time he sees most fit". The trip is due to take place in spring 2012, therefore "the times for a final decision on the programme and for the preparations are rather short".
"It is well known that expectations among people in Mexico are high", said Fr. Lombardi, explaining the reasons for the trip. "The Pope is aware of this and is happy to be able to respond. He has been to Brazil but the Spanish speaking countries of Latin America, of which Mexico has the largest population, wished for a visit of their own".
"Cuba also has great desire to see the Pope, having never forgotten the historic visit of John Paul II. The Church and the people are experiencing a particularly important moment in their history, and the Pope's visit will be a great encouragement, particularly in view of the fourth centenary of the discovery of the image of 'Nuestra Senora de la Caridad del Cobre'".
"It is sufficient to glance at a map to see that Mexico and Cuba lie in the same direction with respect to Rome, therefore it would seem more logical to visit these two countries in a single, though necessarily long, journey. Any trip would not have many stages, but just a few of great symbolic and pastoral importance. Another factor to be taken into account is that of the altitude, which would make it unadvisable for the Holy Father to visit Mexico City. One of the questions to be examined immediately, then, is that of better alternatives.
"Following the Aparecida Conference which the Pope attended four years ago,Latin America is committed to a great continental mission of evangelisation. The Pope will have the opportunity to encourage the entire Church in this great task, also in view of preparations for the celebration of the Year of Faith".
VATICAN CITY, 10 NOV 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience:
- Cardinal Agostino Vallini, vicar general of His Holiness for the diocese of Rome.
- Cardinal Raymundo Damasceno Assis, archbishop of Aparecida, Brazil, president of the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil; Archbishop Jose Belisario da Silva O.F.M. of Sao Luis do Maranhao, vice president, and Bishop Leonardo Ulrich Steiner O.F.M., prelate of Sao Felix, secretary general.
VATICAN CITY, 10 NOV 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed:
- Archbishop Francisco Montecillo Padilla, apostolic nuncio to Papua New Guineaand the Solomon Islands, as apostolic nuncio to Tanzania.
- As members of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See: Cardinal Attilio Nicora, president of the Financial Information Authority, and Cardinal Velasio De Paolis C.S., president emeritus of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See.