THE RENEWAL OF FAITH MUST BE A PRIORITY FOR CHURCH TODAY
VATICAN CITY, 27 JAN 2012 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican the Holy Father received participants in the plenary session of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, whom he thanked for their service to the Church, particularly in view of the forthcoming Year of Faith. "As we know", he said in his remarks to them, "in vast areas of the earth the faith risks being extinguished, like a flame without fuel. We are facing a profound crisis of faith, a loss of a religious sense which represents one of the greatest challenges for the Church today. The renewal of faith must, then, be a priority for the entire Church in our time. I hope that the 'Year of Faith' may contribute ... to restoring God's presence in this world, and to giving man access to the faith, enabling him to entrust himself to the God Who, in Jesus Christ, loved us to the end". (IMAGE SOURCE: RADIO VATICANA)
All this, Benedict XVI explained, is closely associated with the question of Christian unity, and he turned to consider certain doctrinal issues related to the Church's ecumenical journey. "Today", he said, "we see the many good fruits that have emerged from ecumenical dialogue. Yet we must also recognise that the risks of indifference and of false Irenicism, completely alien to the mindset of Vatican Council II, require us to be vigilant. Such indifference is caused by the increasingly widespread opinion that truth is not accessible to man and that, therefore, we must limit ourselves to finding rules to improve this world. In this scenario, faith comes to be replaced by a shallow-rooted moralism. By contrast, the core of true ecumenism is faith, in which man encounters the truth revealed in the Word of God. Without faith the entire ecumenical movement would be reduced to a kind of 'social contract' to which we adhere out of shared interests. The logic of Vatican Council II was quite different", holding that "the sincere search for the full unity of all Christians is a dynamic process animated by the Word of God".
The Holy Father went on to highlight a "crucial problem running through all ecumenical dialogue: ... the question of the structure of revelation; that is, the relationship between Holy Scripture, the living tradition of Holy Church and the ministry of the successors of the Apostles as witness of the true faith. It is vital to discern between Tradition and traditions", he said. One important step in this direction has been the recent implementation of measures concerning groups of Anglican faithful who wish to enter into communion with the Catholic Church while maintaining their own traditions. "There exists, in fact, a spiritual richness in the carious Christian confessions, which is an expression of the one faith and a gift to be shared", the Pope said.
The methodology followed in the various forms of ecumenical dialogue must also reflect the priority of the faith. "Even controversial issues must be faced courageously, while always maintaining a spirit of fraternity and mutual respect. Moreover, it is important to offer a correct interpretation of that 'hierarchy of truths' in Catholic doctrine, as defined in the Decree 'Unitatis redintegratio'".
On the subject of the documents that have emerged from various ecumenical dialogues, the Pope explained that "they are the important, though provisional, fruits of shared reflections". But he also pointed out that "they must be given their correct status as contributions presented to the competent authorities of the Church, which alone is called to pass definitive judgement on them".
Benedict XVI also referred to the moral issue, saying: "In our dialogues we cannot overlook the great moral questions about human life, the family, sexuality, bioethics, freedom, justice and peace. It is important to speak on these issues with a single voice, drawing on the fundamentals contained in Scripture and in living tradition. ... By defending the fundamental values of the great tradition of the Church, we defend man and we defend the creation".
In conclusion, the Holy Father reaffirmed that unity is "a means towards, almost a precondition for, the increasingly credible announcement of the faith to people who do not yet know the Saviour".
AC/ VIS 20120127 (710)
MESSAGE FOR WORLD LEPROSY DAY
VATICAN CITY, 27 JAN 2012 (VIS) - Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care, has written a message for the fifty-ninth World Leprosy Day, which falls on Sunday 29 January. The message is entitled: "In the Fight Against Hansen's Disease the Commitment of All Men of Good Will in Required".
Extracts from the English-language version of the message are given below:
"Mycobacterium Leprae has not as yet been eradicated, even though the official number of new cases of the infection continues to decrease and at the present time are about 200,000, according to the estimates of the World Health Organisation for the years 2010-2011. In addition to supporting the free distribution of those drugs and medicines that are required, one should, therefore, further promote speedy diagnosis and perseverance in receiving therapies. It is of fundamental importance, furthermore, that the work directed towards sensitising and training communities and families that run the risk of contagion be strengthened.
"The Gospel phrase 'Stand and go; your faith has saved you', chosen by the Holy Father Benedict XVI as the theme for the twentieth World Day of the Sick which will be held on 11 February of this year throughout the world, constitutes an exploration and a call that touches in a particular way those who have been afflicted by this infection; in this passage from St. Luke, indeed, we are told about ten lepers who were healed by Jesus, readmitted to the community and reintegrated into the social and occupational fabric.
"As is emphasised by the Holy Father in his Message for this year, 'help us to become aware of the importance of faith for those who, burdened by suffering and illness, draw near to the Lord. In their encounter with him they can truly experience that he who believes is never alone! God, indeed, in his Son, does not abandon us to our anguish and sufferings, but is close to us, helps us to bear them, and wishes to heal us in the depths of our hearts".
"This love, which is also expressed through individual action and through Church institutions and volunteer organisations, amongst which the Raoul Follereau Foundation and the Sovereign Order of the Knights of Malta, as well as the successes that have been obtained hitherto in terms of a strong reduction in the number of people infected by this disease, certainly do not exempt governments and international organisations from increasing the attention they pay to, and their work to combat, the spread of leprosy, or from their responsibilities as regards prevention, in educational and hygiene/health-care terms, and the 'readmission' of people who have been cured, as well as support for all the victims of infection".
"Those who have attained a cure can ... communicate all their interior riches and experience and at the same time, in helping their neighbour, all their dignity and profundity as people touched by suffering and involved in working for the health of the community to which they belong.
"This will amount to a further and relevant contribution to progress in the fight against Hansen's disease which for millennia has constituted a terrible scourge and involved automatic exclusion from society. Indeed, only the involvement of everyone - and at all levels - will allow the transformation of leprosy from being a threat and a scourge into being a memory, however frightening, of the past".
CON-AVA/ VIS 20120127 (570)
MEETING OF THE HOLY SEE - ISRAEL WORKING COMMISSION
VATICAN CITY, 27 JAN 2012 (VIS) - A note released today announces that the Bilateral Permanent Working Commission between the Holy See and the State of Israel held its plenary session at the Israeli ministry of foreign affairs yesterday, to carry on negotiations pursuant to the Fundamental Agreement, article 10 paragraph 2, dealing with economic and fiscal matters.
The meeting was presided by Msgr. Ettore Balestrero, under secretary for Relations with States, and by Daniel Ayalon, Israeli deputy minister for foreign affairs. Today's communique states that "the negotiations took place in an open, friendly and constructive atmosphere. Substantive progress was made on issues of significance".
The parties agreed on the next steps towards the conclusion of the Agreement, and to hold their next plenary meeting on 11 June in the Vatican.
OP/ VIS 20120127 (140)
VATICAN CITY, 27 JAN 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience:
- Cardinal Marc Ouellet P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
- Bishop Francesco Cavina of Carpi, Italy, accompanied by members of his family.
AP/ VIS 20120127 (40)
OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS
VATICAN CITY, 27 JAN 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed:
- Msgr. Julio Murat, nunciature counsellor, as apostolic nuncio to Zambia, at the same time elevating him to the dignity of archbishop. The archbishop-elect was born in Karsiyaka, Turkey in 1961 and ordained a priest in 1986. He entered the Holy See diplomatic service in 1994 and has served in Indonesia, Pakistan, Belarus and Austria.
- Msgr. Santo Gangemi, nunciature counsellor, as apostolic nuncio to the Solomon Islands, at the same time elevating him to the dignity of archbishop. The archbishop-elect was born in Messina, Italy in 1961 and ordained a priest in 1986. He entered the Holy See diplomatic service in 1991 and has served in Morocco, Italy, Romania, Cuba, Chile, France, Spain and Egypt.
- Msgr. Luciano Russo, nunciature counsellor, as apostolic nuncio, at the same time elevating him to the dignity of archbishop. The archbishop-elect was born in Lusciano, Italy in 1963 and ordained a priest in 1988. He entered the Holy See diplomatic service in 1993 and has served in Papua New Guinea, Honduras, Syria, Brazil, Netherlands, U.S.A. and Bulgaria.