Benedict XVI expressed his deep respect for the Muslim community

Amman, Jordan, May 08, 2009 - Pope Benedict XVI arrived in Jordan on the first leg of a Holy Land pilgrimage and praised the country's efforts to oppose conflict and violence between the West and the Islamic world.At an airport welcoming ceremony in Amman May 8, the pope expressed his "deep respect for the Muslim community" and paid tribute to interfaith dialogue initiatives launched by Jordanian leaders."We can say that these worthy initiatives have achieved much good in furthering an alliance of civilizations between the West and the Muslim world, confounding the predictions of those who consider violence and conflict inevitable," he said in a speech.He commended Jordan for curbing extremism and protecting the religious freedom of the country's Christian minority and said its leaders had promoted "a better understanding of the virtues proclaimed by Islam."The 82-year-old pontiff appeared energetic, quickly descending from the plane on the first stop on ...Read More

Holy Father Benedict XVI appointed seven Cardinals as his Special Envoys

Vatican City, April 29, 2009 – On the occasion of the close of the Year dedicated to the Apostle Saint Paul, which will take place simultaneously on June 29, 2009 in various “Pauline sites,” the Holy Father Benedict XVI appointed seven Cardinal s as his Special Envoys, for each of the celebrations. In the Holy Land, Cardinal Walter Kasper, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity; in Malta, Cardinal Ennio Antonelli, President of the Pontifical Council for the Family; in Cyprus, Cardinal Renato R. Martino, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue; in Greece, Cardinal Jozef Tomko, Emeritus Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples; in Syria, Cardinal Antonio M. Rouco Varela, Archbishop of Madrid; in Lebanon, Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois, Archbishop of Paris.-Agenzia Fides ...Read More

Pope Benedict XVI canonized five new saints

Pope Benedict XVI canonized five new saints and said their dedication to the Eucharist, the poor and the world of work made them models for today's Christians in an era of economic crisis.By orienting their lives to Christ, the five men and women showed that "it is possible to lay the foundations for construction of a society open to justice and solidarity, overcoming that economic and cultural imbalance that continues to exist in a great part of our planet," the pope said.The pope celebrated the canonization Mass in St. Peter's Square April 26, joined by tens of thousands of pilgrims who held up photos or drawings of the saints. Four of the new saints were Italian and one was Portuguese.Dressed in bright gold vestments, the 82-year-old pontiff listened as biographies of the five were read aloud, and then pronounced the canonization formula, drawing applause from the crowd. Afterward, relics of the new saints were brought to the altar.In his homily, the p ...Read More

Memorandum of Understanding signed at the Vatican Apostolic Palace

Vatican City, April 26, 2009 - According to a communique published yesterday, April 23, the Memorandum of Understanding between the Secretariat of State and the League of Arab States was signed at the Vatican Apostolic Palace. It was signed for the Secretariat of State by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States, and for the League of Arab States by Amr Moussa, secretary general of that organisation.Among those present at the signing ceremony were Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. And Monsignors Fortunatus Nwachukwu, Alberto Ortega, Christophe El-Kassis, Nicolas Thevenin, Lech Piechota, and from the League of Arab States: Walid Al Gargani, Head of the Arab League mission to the Holy See, El Fateh El Naciry, Head of the European Department and Euro-Arabian Affairs, and Dina Douay, Desk Officer for Europe in the Cabinet of the General Secretariat. Also present were Ambassadors from several member-countries of the League of Arab States ...Read More

Doctrina Christiana first book written in Taglog

Manila, Philippines, April 26, 2009 - "Doctrina Christiana, en lengua española y tagala" Is the first book written in the local language to be printed in the Philippines. Published in 1593, it is the first example of the country's distinctive alphabet. Today the precious volume is available online, in the catalogue of the World Digital Library.The Tagalog Doctrina Christiana went to the presses in 1593, and was based on the teachings of Cardinal Robert Bellarmine, an illustrious theologian and doctor of the Church. The volume was intended to spread Christianity among the population, using the local language, of which it became the text of reference. The work came a few months after the first book ever printed in the country, the Chinese language version of the same "Doctrina."The only existing copy of the "Doctrina Christiana" in Tagalog is held at the Library of Congress in the United States, in Washington; internet users can read a copy of it by clicking on the cover ...Read More

Pope's upcoming Middle East visit can build hope among Arabs

Amman, Jordan, April 26, 2009 - Pope Benedict XVI's upcoming visit to the Middle East can serve as an opportunity to build hope among Arabs while broadening interreligious understanding, said Jordan's Prince El Hassan bin Talal.Speaking with Catholic News Service, the prince said the May 8-11 papal visit "should not be seen as a passing, calming serene visit that is transient or just another visit to the region, but should rather focus in our minds that we can revive the heritage of trust and good faith" that Catholics and Muslims share.In an extensive interview in advance of Pope Benedict 's visit, Prince Hassan said he has high hopes for the trip."There is a sort of combination of hope, expectation and nostalgia for a golden age -- for a Camelot, if you will -- which I think invites Arabs to hope for a better future when such a visit takes place, as with many other visits the pope has made to other parts of the world," the prince told CNS.Pope Benedict 's ...Read More

Benedict XVI at the General Audience, speaking on Ambrose Autpert

Vatican City, April 23, 2009 – In his Wednesday Audiences, the Holy Father Benedict XVI has been for some time now reflecting on “people from whom we can learn what the Church is.” On April 22, he reflected on Ambrose Autpert, a relatively unknown author of whom little definite information is known, although “careful reading of the works that critics gradually recognized as his authorship allows for the discovery in his teaching of a theological and spiritual treasure precious also for our times.”Born in Provence, Ambrose Autpert entered the court of the King of the Franks, Pepin the Short, where he was also given the role of tutor of the future emperor Charlemagne. Traveling to Italy, he visited the famous Benedict ine abbey of St. Vincent, located at the source of the Volturno, in the Duchy of Benevento, and not long afterwards, he decided to take up religious life and entered the monastery, where he could train in an appropriate manner, especially in matters of theology and ...Read More

Archbishop of Chennai calls for international pressure on the government of Colombo

Chennai, India, April 23, 2009 - "It has become a mass graveyard - the bloody war in Sri Lanka has led to a mass massacre, and nothing can justify this military option." Malayappan Chinnappa, archbishop of Chennai, comments to AsiaNews on the reports from Sri Lanka, where the army has launched a military operation to wipe out the resistance of the Tamil Tigers.All over the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, there are demonstrations against the war that is making hundreds of thousands of refugees, and a growing number of victims among civilians. A general strike called by Tamil associations and groups in the state is receiving support from some local political groups, including the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, an ally of the Congress Party, but as India goes through the second of five rounds in the national elections, many parties prefer to steer clear.The archbishop of Chennai calls for international pressure on the government of Colombo, and says: "World leaders should utilize ...Read More

Pope Benedict XVI is scheduled to celebrate Mass in a new amphitheater in Nazareth

NAZARETH, Israel, April 21, 2009 - With just over three weeks to go before Pope Benedict XVI is scheduled to celebrate Mass in a new municipal amphitheater in Nazareth, bulldozers were working around the clock.Nizar Muammar, a Catholic and one of the project architects, said April 20 that the site will be ready: It will include a stage, 7,000 permanent seats and more than 30,000 temporary chairs set up on what is becoming a terraced hillside.The covered stage, which will serve as the platform for the altar with seating for 500 cardinals, bishops and priests, was still a hole with concrete forms and reinforced beams sticking up.The only Mass Pope Benedict is scheduled to celebrate in northern Israel during his May 8-15 pilgrimage to the Holy Land is the May 14 Mass in the amphitheater on Mount Precipice in Nazareth.Muammar said there are three access roads to the site; there will be two big parking lots for pilgrim buses and seating for more than 40,000 pe ...Read More

Pope Benedict XVI underlined the importance of the conference on racism

Italy, April 20, 2009 - Pope Benedict XVI underlined the importance of a U.N.-sponsored international conference on racism and urged participants to take concrete steps to combat discrimination and intolerance around the world.The conference, which opened in Geneva April 20, was being boycotted by the United States and several other Western countries because of fears that it would provide a platform to critics of Israel.The pope, speaking at a noon blessing at his villa outside Rome April 19, said the conference was important because, despite the lessons of history, racist attitudes and actions are still present in contemporary society.He encouraged participants to take "firm and concrete action, at the national and international levels, to prevent and eliminate every form of racism and intolerance." Above all, he said, a vast educational effort is needed so that human dignity and fundamental human rights are better understood and respected."For its part, ...Read More

Christian group organised by CSM visited war refugees in Vavuniya

Colombo April 18, 2009 - Giving a concrete sign of solidarity, and knocking down the wall of hostility between Sinhalese and Tamils built up over 25 years of civil war. This is the meaning of the initiative organized by the Christian Solidarity Movement (CSM) of Colombo: to make a weekly visit to the population of Vavuniya, and of the other cities in the northern part of the island.In an interview with AsiaNews, Sarath Iddamalgod, one of the coordinators of the CSM, explains that the idea of making regular visits to the inhabitants in the war zone "was born from a simple question: What can we do for them?""From our earlier visits," Fr. Iddamalgod says, "we sensed that the Tamil community is deeply hurt about the way that they are being treated by the Sinhala government. They also feel that the Sinhala Christians are not sensitive to their grievances and doing anything to support their just struggle. So we realized that we needed to do as much as possible to awaken the ...Read More

Dialogues in Cathedral focus on issue of when life ends

Vatican City, April 18, 2009 - On Monday 20 April, the series of discussions known as the "Dialogues in the Cathedral" will resume in the Roman basilica of St. John Lateran. On this occasion the reflections will focus on the question: "When does life end?"The event will be presented by Cardinal Agostino Vallini, prefect emeritus of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, His Holiness' vicar general for the diocese of Rome and archpriest of the basilica of St. John Lateran.Participating in Monday's meeting, which is due to begin at 7.30 p.m., will be Professor Maria Luisa Di Pietro, an expert on bioethics and co-president of the Science and Life Foundation, and Professor Francesco D'Agostino, a jurist and president of the Union of Italian Catholic Jurists. The meeting will be moderated by Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Academy for Life. ...Read More

Bishops of Sri Lanka pray for Cease Fire

Colombo, April 15, 2009 - Easter recalls the victory of Jesus Christ, the living God, over the forces of darkness and destruction. Looking at Christ, humanity can rise again to a new life by overcoming the logic of death, war, and division. This is the message issued on the occasion of the Easter celebrations by Oswald Gomis, the archbishop of Colombo, Anglican bishop Duleep de Chickera, and Fr. Sebastian Maria Anthony, superior general of the Jesuits of Sri Lanka, who asks for "peace in the country, and the end of the suffering for the civil population."Today, the Tamil rebel militias announced that they want to negotiate a ceasefire with the government forces, and resume the peace talks, to put an end to the decades of bloody conflict on the island. The Tamil Tigers are asking for a long term ceasefire, under the supervision of the international community. The Sinhalese government has rejected the request, saying that the rebels must lay down their weapons before any negoti ...Read More

Jerusalem city was more packed for religious celebration

Jerusalem, April 15, 2009 - The Old City of Jerusalem was more packed than it had been in many years as the Catholic Easter coincided with the Orthodox Palm Sunday and the Jewish priestly blessing at the Western Wall for Passover.People jammed the alleyways of the outdoor market as pilgrims made their way to Easter Mass at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Taking the same path, members of the Orthodox churches headed toward their Palm Sunday services while Jews rushed to the Western Wall for the traditional blessing by the cohanim, priests who are descendants of the priests who served in the biblical Jewish Temple before it was destroyed.Inside the Church of the Holy Sepulcher it was impossible to reach the tomb of Jesus as hundreds of worshippers from around the world and local Catholics participated in an Easter Mass celebrated by Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal of Jerusalem.Local Christians of the Orthodox Coptic Church as well as Egyptian Coptic pilgrims -- many ...Read More

Full Text of Benedict XVI's reflection at the end of Via Crucis

At the end of his dramatic Passion narrative, the Evangelist Saint Mark tells us: "The centurion, who stood facing him, saw that he thus breathed his last, and said: ‘Truly this man was the Son of God!’" (Mk 15:39). We cannot fail to be surprised by the profession of faith of this Roman soldier, who had been present throughout the various phases of the Crucifixion. When the darkness of night was falling on that Friday so unlike any other in history, when the sacrifice of the Cross was already consummated and the bystanders were making haste to celebrate the Jewish Passover in the usual way, these few words, wrung from the lips of a nameless commander in the Roman army, resounded through the silence that surrounded that most singular death. This Roman army officer, having witnessed the execution of one of countless condemned prisoners, was able to recognize in this crucified man the Son of God, who had perished in the most humiliating abandonment. His shameful end ought to have marke ...Read More

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