CHRISTIANITY, AN ESSENTIAL FACTOR OF DEVELOPMENT IN AFRICA
VATICAN CITY, 29 OCT 2011 (VIS REPORTS) - This morning in the Vatican, the Holy Father received a group of prelates from the Episcopal Conference of Angola and Sao Tome, who have just completed their "ad limina" visit. (IMAGE SOURCE: RADIO VATICANA)
Benedict XVI began his address by referring to the visit he had made to Luandain March 2009 during which, he said, "I had the chance to meet you and celebrate Jesus Christ in the midst of a people who never cease to seek, love and serve Him, generously and joyfully".
The Holy Father also made mention of the fact that he is due to return to Africa in November, when he will travel to Benin to sign the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops. Quoting from the final message of that synodal meeting, he said: "As Church, the first and most specific contribution we must make to the people of Africa is the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, because announcing Christ is the primary and most important factor of development. Development arises from transformation of heart and transformation of heart comes from conversion to the Gospel".
The Pope then turned his attention to three of the most important difficulties currently facing Angolan Christians, "who undergo the pressure of the customs of the societies in which they live. Yet, by the grace of Baptism, they are called to renounce harmful practices, and to swim against the tide guided by the spirit of the Beatitudes".
The first problem the Pope identified was that of concubinage, "which goes against God's plan for procreation and the human family. The low number of Catholic marriages in your communities is the sign of a grave burden on families which, we well know, are vitally important for the stability of society. ... Help married couples to acquire the human and spiritual maturity they need to accept their mission as Christian spouses and parents with responsibility, reminding them that their spousal love must be unique and indissoluble like the bond between Christ and His Church".
Another difficulty lies in the fact that "the hearts of the baptised are torn between Christianity and traditional African religions. Faced with life's problems, they do not hesitate to turn to practices that are incompatible with adherence to Christ. One particularly abominable consequence is the marginalisation and even murder of children and elderly people, condemned by the false diktats of witchcraft. Dear bishops, continue to raise your voice in support of the victims, in the certainty that human life is sacred at all moments and in all situations". Ecclesial communities must strive, together with governments and civil society, to "find a way that leads to the definitive eradication" of this scourge.
The third problem facing Angolan Christians lies in "the remnants of ethnic tribalism, evident in the attitude of communities that tend to close in on themselves, rejecting people from other parts of the country. ... In the Church, the new family of all who believe in Christ, there is no space for division of any kind", the Pope said. "Men and women of different tribes, languages and nations gather round the altar where, sharing the one Body and Blood of Jesus in the Eucharist, they become true brothers and sisters. This bond of fraternity is stronger than that our earthly families or tribes".
In conclusion, the Pope reiterated a phrase he had pronounced during his 2009 visit to Luanda: "God has enabled human beings to fly, over and above their natural tendencies, on the wings of reason and faith. If you let these wings bear you aloft, you will easily recognise your neighbour as a brother or sister, born with the same fundamental human rights".
VATICAN CITY, 30 OCT 2011 (VIS) - At midday today Benedict XVI appeared at the window of his study to pray the Angelus with faithful gathered below in St. Peter's Square.
The Pope commented on today's reading from the First Letter of St. Paul to the Thessalonians, in which the Apostle invites us to accept the Gospel "not as a human word but as what it really is, God's word". By doing so "we can faithfully accept the admonitions Jesus addresses to our conscience, and behave accordingly. In today's reading He reproaches the scribes and Pharisees, who had the role of leaders in the community, because their behaviour was in open contrast with the teachings they rigorously sought to impose upon others. ... Good doctrine must be welcomed, but it risks being invalidated by incoherent behaviour. ... Jesus' approach is the exact opposite: He is the first to practise the commandment of love, which He teaches to everyone. And His is but a light burden because He helps us to carry it with Him.
"Referring to leaders who oppress the freedom of others in the name of their own authority, St. Bonaventure identified the true leader, saying that 'no one can teach or even practise, nor arrive at knowledge of the truth unless the Son of God is present'. ... We are, then, called to follow the Son of God, the Word incarnate, Who expressed the truth of His teachings through His own faithfulness to the will of the Father, through His gift of self. ... Jesus also firmly condemned vanity, noting that those who act 'to be seen by others' place themselves at the mercy of human approval, undermining the values that support the authenticity of the individual".
The Holy Father called for the intercession of the Blessed Virgin, particularly for "those in the Christian community who are called to the ministry of teaching, that through their actions they may always bear witness to the truth they transmit in words".
Following the Marian prayer, the Holy Father expressed his closeness "to the people of Thailand who have suffered serious floods, and for the people of the Italian regions of Liguria and Tuscany, which have also been badly affected by torrential rain. I give them assurances of my prayers".
VATICAN CITY, 31 OCT 2011 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received the Letters of Credence of Almir Franco de Sa Barbuda, the new ambassador of Brazil to the Holy See. The Pope began his remarks to the diplomat by expressing his gratitude for the readiness of the Brazilian authorities to host the next World Youth Day, due to take place in Rio de Janeiro in 2013.
He then went on to consider the long history of diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Brazil, which were established shortly after the country's independence, also highlighting the fruitful influence of the Catholic Church which dates back to the first Mass celebrated there on 26 April 1500. Proof of this is to be found, the Holy Father said, in "the many cities named after saints, and the numerous religious monuments, some of which symbolise the country throughout the world, such as the statue of the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro".
One important chapter of this "shared fertile history" was the agreement the Holy See and the Brazilian government signed in 2008, which "officially and juridically sealed the independence and collaboration of the two parties". In this context, the Pope also expressed the hope that the State would recognise that "healthy secularism must not consider religion as a mere individual sentiment, relegated to the private sphere, but as a reality which, being organised into visible structures, requires public recognition of its presence".
"It is therefore up to the State to ensure that all religious confessions enjoy freedom of worship, and the right to practice their cultural, educational and charitable activities, when these do not contrast with morality or public order", he said. "The Church does not limit her own contribution to concrete humanitarian or educational assistance; rather, she pursues above all the ethical development of society. Encouraged by the numerous expressions of openness to transcendence, she seeks to form consciences and to show solidarity".
Benedict XVI identified a number of fields of mutual cooperation, including that of education in which the Church has "many institutions which enjoy prestigious recognition in society. The role of education cannot, in fact, be reduced to the mere transmission of knowledge and abilities for professional formation", he explained. "Rather it must comprehend all facets of the individual, from social factors to the longing for transcendence. We must, therefore, reiterate that the teaching of a particular religion in State schools, ... far from indicating that the State assumes or imposes a certain religious belief, is recognition of the fact that religion is an important value in the formation of the individual. ... Not only does this not prejudice the secularism of the State, it guarantees parents' rights to chose the education of their children, thus helping to promote the common good".
Finally, on the subject of social justice, the Pope concluded by saying that "the Brazilian government knows that it can rely on the Church as a partner in all initiatives aimed at eradicating hunger and want, ... and helping those most in need to escape poverty ... and marginalisation".
VATICAN CITY, 31 OCT 2011 (VIS) - Pope Benedict's general prayer intention for November is: "That the terminally ill may be supported by their faith in God and the love of their brothers and sisters".
His mission intention is: "That the celebration of World Mission Day may foster in the People of God a passion for evangelisation with the willingness to support the missions with prayer and economic aid for the poorest Churches".
VATICAN CITY, 31 OCT 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:
- Archbishop Ubaldo Ramon Santana Sequera F.M.I. of Maracaibo, Venezuela, president of the Venezuelan Episcopal Conference, accompanied by Archbishop Baltazar Enrique Porras Cardozo of Merida, first vice president; Bishop Jesus Gonzalez de Zarate Salas, auxiliary of Caracas, secretary general, and Cardinal Jorge Liberato Urosa Savino, archbishop of Caracas, president "ad honorem".
- Ten prelates from the Episcopal Conference of Angola and Sao Tome, on their "ad limina" visit:
- Bishop Almeida Kanda of Ndalatando.
- Archbishop Jose Manuel Imbamba of Saurimo.
- Bishop Benedito Roberto C.S.Sp. of Sumbe.
- Bishop Emilio Sumbelelo of Uije, accompanied by Bishop emeritus Jose Francisco Moreira dos Santos O.F.M. Cap.
- Bishop Joaquim Ferreira Lopes O.F.M. Cap. of Viana.
- Bishop Mario Lukunde of Menongwe.
- Bishop Dionisio Hisiilenapo of Namibe.
- Bishop Fernando Guimarães Kevanu of Ondjiva.
- Bishop Manuel Antonio Mendes dos Santos C.M.F. of Sao Tome and Principe.
On Saturday 29 October he received in separate audiences:
- Cardinal Raffaele Farina S.D.B., archivist and librarian of Holy Roman Church.
- Nine prelates from the Episcopal Conference of Angola and Sao Tome, on their "ad limina" visit:
- Bishop Eugenio Dal Corso P.S.D.P. of Benguela, accompanied by Bishop emeritus Oscar Lino Lopes Fernandes Braga.
- Bishop Jose Nambi of Kwito-Bie.
- Bishop Jesus Tirso Blanco S.D.B. of Lwena.
- Bishop Filomeno do Nascimento Vieira Dias of Cabinda.
- Bishop Antonio Francisco Jaca S.V.D. of Caxito.
- Msgr. Colm Reidy, diocesan administrator of Dundo.
- Bishop Luis Maria Perez de Onraita Aguirre of Malanje.
- Bishop Vicente Carlos Kiaziku, O.F.M. Cap. of Mbanza Congo.
- Cardinal Marc Ouellet P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
VATICAN CITY, 31 OCT 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father accepted the resignation from the office of auxiliary of the diocese of Kalisz, Poland, presented by Bishop Teofil Wilski, upon having reached the age limit.
On Saturday 29 October it was made public that he:
- Appointed Bishop Wiktor Pawel Skworc of Tarnow, Poland, as metropolitan archbishop of Katowice (area 2,400, population 1,498,123, Catholics 1,454,328, priests 1,085, religious 1,093), Poland. He succeeds Archbishop Damian Zimon, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.
- Appointed Fr. Sebastain Tudu of the clergy of Dinajpur, Bangladesh, vice rector of the major seminary of the Holy Spirit in Dhaka and diocesan director of the Pontifical Missionary Works, as bishop of Dinajpur (area 17,500, population 16,529,090, Catholics 46,578, priests 56, religious 148). The bishop-elect was born in Changura, Bangladesh in 1967 and ordained a priest in 1999. He has worked as parochial vicar in a number of parishes in Bangladesh and attained a doctorate in missiology from the Pontifical Urban University.
- Erected the new diocese of Kabwe (area 63,574, population 1,078,334, Catholics 138,810, priests 43, religious 95) Zambia, with territory taken from the diocese of Mpika and the archdiocese of Lusaka, making it a suffragan of the metropolitan church of Lusaka. He appointed Fr. Clement Mulenga S.D.B, director of the office for the pastoral care of young people in the archdiocese of Lusaka, as first bishop of the new diocese. The bishop-elect was born in Dimashi, in 1965 and ordained a priest in 1998. He studied at the Pontifical Salesian University and has worked in Salesian communities in Zambia and Tanzania.
- Appointed Archbishop Nicola Girasoli, apostolic nuncio to Zambia and Malawi, as apostolic nuncio to Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Dominica, Jamaica,Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and Grenadines,Suriname, Guyana, and apostolic delegate in the Antilles.