BENEDICT XVI HAS LUNCH WITH CARDINALS
At 1 p.m. today in the Sala Ducale of the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father had lunch with members of the College of Cardinals, as a sign of his thanks to them for their felicitations for his eighty-fifth birthday, on 16 April, and for the seventh anniversary of his election to the pontificate, on 19 April.
THE ASCENSION: THE LAST ACT OF LIBERATION FROM THE YOKE OF SIN
Benedict XVI dedicated his remarks before praying the Regina Coeli this morning to the Ascension of the Lord, which in many countries is celebrated today, the Sunday following the feast.
“The Ascension of the Lord,” the Pope explained to faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square, “marks the fullfilment of the salvation which began with the Incarnation. Having instructed His disciples for the last time, Jesus ascended into heaven. Nevertheless, He ‘did not separate Himself from our condition’ because, in His humanity, he drew mankind into intimacy with the Father and thus revealed the final destination of our earthly pilgrimage. Just as, for us, He descended from heaven and suffered death on the cross, so too, for us, He arose and returned to God, Who is thus no longer distant, but is ‘our God,’ ‘our Father.’ The Ascension is the last act of our liberation from the yoke of sin.”
The Holy Father recalled St. Leo the Great’s explanation that “this mystery proclaims not only the immortality of the soul, but also that of the flesh. . . . For this reason, when the disciples saw the Master arise from the earth and ascend towards heaven, they were not discouraged but experienced great joy and felt impelled to proclaim Christ’s victory over death.”
“The Ascension,” the Holy Father concluded, “tells us that in Christ our humanity is raised to the heights of God and so, each time we pray, earth unites with heaven.”
THE POPE RECALLS ATTACK AT AN ITALIAN SCHOOL AND EARTHQUAKE IN EMILIA ROMAGNA
After praying the Regina Coeli this morning, the Pope expressed his outrage at the “cowardly attack” against a school in the Italian town of Brindisi on Saturday morning, which killed a sixteen-year-old girl and wounded six others.
“Let us pray together for the wounded, some very seriously, and especially for young Melissa, an innocent victim of brutal violence and for her family, who are suffering,” he said.
The Holy Father then turned his attention to the earthquake which struck the Italian region of Emilia Romagna early this morning leaving seven dead, around fifty injured and more than 4,000 people homeless. “I am spiritually close to those who are suffering from this calamity. We implore God’s mercy for those who are dead and relief from suffering for the wounded.”
The Pope also mentioned the World Day of Social Communications, which is being celebrated today on the theme of “Silence and Word: Path of Evangelization.” He said: “Silence is an integral part of communication, it is a privileged place of encounter with the Word of God and our brothers and sisters. I invite everyone to pray that communications, in all its forms, may always serve to establish a genuine dialogue with others, founded on mutual respect, listening and sharing.”
Benedict XVI went on: “Thursday 24 May is a day dedicated to the liturgical memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary Help of Christians, venerated with great devotion at the Shrine of Sheshan in Shanghai. We join in prayer with all Catholics who are in China, that they may announce with humility and joy the Risen Christ, remain faithful to His Church and the Successor of Peter, and live their daily lives in a manner consistent with the faith we profess. May Mary, Virgin most faithful, support the path of Chinese Catholics, render their prayer ever more intense and precious in the eyes of the Lord, and advance the affection and the participation of the universal Church in the journey of the Church in China.”
The Pope also had greetings for members of the Italian Movement for Life who are meeting today in the Paul VI Hall. “Your movement,” he told them, “has always been committed to defending human life according to the teachings of the Church. In this context you have announced a new initiative entitled “One of us,” to uphold the dignity and rights of every human being from conception. I encourage and urge you always to be witnesses and builders of a culture of life.”
THERE CAN BE NO JUSTICE TODAY WITHOUT SOLIDARITY
“‘Solidarity is first and foremost a sense of responsibility on the part of everyone with regard to everyone, and it cannot therefore be merely delegated to the State. While in the past it was possible to argue that justice had to come first and gratuitousness could follow afterwards, as a complement, today it is clear that without gratuitousness, there can be no justice in the first place.’ Gratuitousness cannot be bought on the market, or established by law. Nonetheless, both economics and politics need gratuitousness and individuals who are open to reciprocal giving.” With these words, taken from his Encyclical “Caritas in veritate,” Benedict XVI addressed more than 8,000 members of three Catholic associations whom he received this morning in the Paul VI Hall.
The associations present were the Federation of Christian Organizations for International Volunteer Service (FOCSIV) which brings together sixty-five Italian groups; the Ecclesial Movement for Cultural Commitment which operates in the world of Italian culture, and the Christian Workers Movement, a social organization dedicated to solidarity and volunteer work which promotes Christian principles in life, culture and legislation.
“Culture, volunteering and work are three inseparable elements of the daily commitment of Catholic lay people,” said the Pope in his address. “The lay faithful become involved when they touch one or more of these aspects and, through cultural service, solidarity with those in need and work, strive to promote human dignity. These three aspects are linked by a common denominator: the giving of self. . . . Your activity must be animated by charity. This means learning to see with the eyes of Christ and giving others much more than what is externally necessary; giving them . . . the gesture of love they need. This arises from the love that comes from God, Who first loved us; it arises from intimate contact with Him.”
The activity of Catholic volunteers bears witness to “the logic of giving,” the Holy Father explained, “the giving of one’s time, abilities, knowledge, and professionalism; in a word, attention to others without expecting a return in this world. By doing so, not only do people do good for others, but they also discover profound happiness, according the the logic of Christ Who gave all of Himself.”
Our first experience of this gratuitous love is in the family and, when this does not happen, the family enters into crisis. “Everything we experience in the family, the unreserved giving of self for the good of others, is a fundamental educational experience for us to live as Christians in our relationship with culture, volunteering and work,” Benedict XVI said.
At this point in his address he referred to his Encyclical “Caritas in veritate” in which he argues for an extension of the family model of gratuitousness to a universal dimension, because “justice alone is insufficient. In order for there to be true justice we need that ‘extra’ which only gratuitousness and solidarity can bring.”
Concluding his remarks, the Holy Father encouraged the volunteers “to continue in their commitment towards their brother and sisters. Part of this is the task of highlighting injustices and bearing witness to the values which underpin human dignity, promoting forms of solidarity which favor the common good.”
PUBLICATION OF RESERVED HOLY SEE AND PAPAL DOCUMENTS IS CRIMINAL
“The fresh publication of Holy See documents and of private documents of the Holy Father no longer appears as a questionable — though obviously defamatory — journalistic initiative, but clearly assumes the characteristics of a criminal act,” reads a communique released today by the Holy See Press Office.
“The Holy Father and a number of his collaborators, as well as the senders of messages addressed to him, have had their individual rights to privacy and freedom of correspondence violated.
“The Holy See will continue to investigate the various aspects of these violations of the privacy and dignity of the Holy Father — both as an individual an as the supreme authority of the Church and of Vatican City State — and will take the steps necessary to ensure that those responsible for the theft, handling and release of secret information, and the commercial use of private documentation, illegitimately acquired and held, answer to justice for their acts. To this end it will, if necessary, request international collaboration.”
The Holy Father today received in audience:
• Fifteen prelates of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (Eastern Rite), on their “ad limina” visit:
• Bishop Nicholas James Samra of Newton of the Greek-Melkites.
• Bishop Barnaba Yousif Habash of Our Lady of Deliverance of Newark of the Syrians.
• Bishop Mikael Mouradian of Our Lady of Nareg in New York of the Armenians.
• Bishop John Michael Botean of St. George’s in Canton of the Romanians.
• Bishop Gregory John Mansour of Saint Maron of Brooklyn of the Maronites.
• Bishop Bishop Paul Patrick Chomnycky, O.S.B.M. of Stamford of the Ukrainians.
• Bishop Ibrahim Namo Ibrahim of Saint Thomas the Apostle of Detroit of the Chaldeans.
• Archbishop William Charles Skurla of Pittsburgh of the Byzantines
• Bishop Richard Stephen Seminack of Saint Nicholas of Chicago of the Ukrainians.
• Bishop Gerald Nicholas Dino of Holy Protection of Mary Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Phoenix.
• Bishop John M. Kudrick of Parma of the Ruthenians.
• Archbishop Stefan Soroka of Philadelphia of the Ukrainians, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop John Bura, apostolic administrator “sede vacante” of Saint Josephat in Parma of the Ruthenians.
• Bishop Sarhad Yawsip Jammo of Saint Peter the Apostle of San Diego of the Chaldeans.
• Fr. Edward G. Cimbala, apostolic administrator of Passiac of the Ruthenians.
• Cardinal Marc Ouellet P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS
The Holy Father:
• Appointed Archbishop Alessandro D’Errico, apostolic nuncio to Bosnia and Herzegovina and to Montenegro, also as apostolic nuncio to Croatia.
• Removed Bishop Francesco Micciche from the pastoral care of the diocese of Trapani, Italy, and appointed Archbishop emeritus Alessandro Plotti of Pisa, Italy, as apostolic administrator “ad nutum Sanctae Sedis” of that diocese.
On Saturday 19 May it was made public that he:
• Appointed Fr. Zeferino Zeca Martins S.V.D., provincial superior of the Divine Word Missionaries and professor of law at the Catholic University of Luanda, Angola, as auxiliary of the archdiocese of Luanda (area 342, population 3,486,000, Catholics 2,573,000, priests 120, religious 517). The bishop-elect was born in Cacolo, Angola in 1966 and ordained a priest in 1995. He studied in Angola and in Spain and has worked in pastoral care in Madrid and as rector of the central house of his congregation in Angola.
• Appointed Bishop Benedito Roberto C.S.Sp. of Sumbe, Angola, as archbishop of Malanje (area 107,000, population 1,187,000, Catholics 543,000, priests 36, religious 186), Angola. He succeeds Archbishop Luis Maria Perez de Onraita Aguirre, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.