The Vatican Information Service is a news service, founded in the Holy See Press Office, that provides information about the Magisterium and the pastoral activities of the Holy Father and the Roman Curia...[+]
VATICAN CITY, SEP 6, 2007 (VIS) - Late this morning, the Holy See Press Office released the following communique:
"This morning, in the Apostolic Palace of Castelgandolfo, the Holy Father Benedict XVI received in audience Shimon Peres, president of the State of Israel. The president subsequently went on to meet Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. Also present at the meeting were Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States, and Oded Ben Hur, Israeli ambassador to the Holy See.
"The cordial discussions enabled information to be exchanged concerning the recent renewal of contact between Israelis and Palestinians to restore peace the Holy Land, while respecting United Nations Resolutions and agreements signed to date. The hope was expressed that in the current international context, which seems particularly favorable with an international conference scheduled for next November, each of the parties involved will make every effort to respond to the expectations of their peoples, sorely tried by a crisis that has lasted for 60 years and that continues to inflict mourning and destruction.
"Attention also tuned to relations between the State of Israel and the Holy See, and the hope was expressed for a rapid conclusion to the important negotiations currently underway, and for the creation of constant dialogue between the Israeli authorities and the local Christian communities with a view to the full participation of those communities in constructing the common good. President Peres also renewed the invitation to the Holy Father to visit the Holy Land." OP/.../ISRAEL:PERES VIS 20070906 (260)
VATICAN CITY, SEP 6, 2007 (VIS) - In Castelgandolfo at midday today, the Pope received participants in the Twelfth World Congress of the International Commission of Catholic Prison Pastoral Care, which is currently being held in Rome on the theme: "Discovering the Face of Christ in Every Prisoner."
Addressing the group in English, the Holy Father acknowledged that the work of prison chaplains "requires much patience and perseverance. Not infrequently there are disappointments and frustrations," but "this ministry within the local Christian community will encourage others to join you in performing corporal works of mercy, thus enriching the ecclesial life of the diocese. Likewise, it will help to draw those whom you serve into the heart of the universal Church, especially through their regular participation in the celebration of the Sacraments of Penance and the Holy Eucharist.
"Chaplains and their collaborators are called to be heralds of God's infinite compassion and forgiveness. In cooperation with civil authorities, they are entrusted with the weighty task of helping the incarcerated rediscover a sense of purpose so that, with God's grace, they can reform their lives, be reconciled with their families and friends, and, insofar as possible, assume the responsibilities and duties which will enable them to conduct upright and honest lives within society."
Judicial and penal institutions, the Pope went on, "must contribute to the rehabilitation of offenders, facilitating their transition from despair to hope and from unreliability to dependability. When conditions within jails and prisons are not conducive to the process of regaining a sense of a worth and accepting its related duties, these institutions fail to achieve one of their essential ends.
"Public authorities must be ever vigilant in this task, eschewing any means of punishment or correction that either undermine or debase the human dignity of prisoners. In this regard," he concluded, "I reiterate that the prohibition against torture 'cannot be contravened under any circumstances'." AC/PASTORAL CARE PRISONS/... VIS 20070906 (330)
VATICAN CITY, SEP 6, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience prelates from the Episcopal Conference of Laos and Cambodia, who have just completed their "ad limina" visit.
"You carry out your ministry at the service of the Church," the Pope told the prelates, "in often-difficult conditions and in a great variety of situations. Be sure that you have my fraternal support and the support of the Universal Church in your service to the people of God."
"The aid you receive in various fields from older Churches, especially as regards pastoral care workers and formation," he continued, "is also an eloquent sign of the solidarity that Christ's disciples should show to one another."
The Holy Father then went on to identify one of the most vital aspects of the pastoral ministry of the bishops of Laos and Cambodia: "the announcement of the Christian faith within a particular culture." In this context he recalled how "the recent celebration of the 450th anniversary of the presence of the Church in Cambodia was an occasion for the faithful to gain a deeper awareness of the long history of Christians in the region."
"In truth, the Christian faith is not foreign to your peoples. 'Jesus is the Good News for the men and women of every time and place in their search for the meaning of existence and for the truth of their own humanity,' and in her announcement to all peoples the Church does not wish to impose herself but to bear witness to her respect for human beings and for the society in which she lives.
"In the social and religious context of your region," Benedict XVI added, "it is vitally important that Catholics express their own identity, while always respecting other religious traditions and cultures. ... This identity must be expressed, primarily, through an authentic spiritual experience based on accepting the Word of God and on the Sacraments of the Church."
One priority for the episcopate in the region, said the Pope, "is the formation of the faithful, above all that of religious and of catechists" whose "role in vitalizing Christian communities is of great importance." Moreover, "with a solidly-founded Christian faith, they can establish authentic dialogue with members of other religions so as to cooperate in developing your countries and in promoting the common good."
Another question addressed by the Holy Father was that of the education of young people. "Appropriate preparation for Christian marriage is particularly important," he said, and called on the prelates to teach young people "family values like filial respect, love and care for the aged and the sick, love of children and harmony, [which] are held in high esteem in all Asian cultures and religious traditions."
Finally, Pope Benedict emphasized how "the resolute commitment of the Christian community in favor of the least privileged is also a specific sign of the authenticity of its faith. The Church's social activities ... enjoy the appreciation of the population and of the authorities" because "they eloquently highlight God's love for all human beings with distinction."
"Therefore," he concluded, "it is very important that the Church's charitable work maintains all of its splendor and does not become just another form of social assistance." AL/.../LAOS:CAMBODIA VIS 20070906 (550)