Home - VIS Vatican - Receive VIS - Contact us - Calendar

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...[]

Last 5 news

VISnews in Twitter Go to YouTube

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


VATICAN CITY, JAN 25, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Bishop Anthony Ireri Mukobo I.M.C., auxiliary of the archdiocese of Nairobi, Kenya, as apostolic vicar of Isiolo (area 25,605, population 116,900, Catholics 27,300, priests 21, religious 38), Kenya.
NER/.../MUKOBO                                VIS 20060125 (50)


VATICAN CITY, JAN 25, 2006 (VIS) - Holy See Press Office Director Joaquin Navarro-Valls today released a declaration to journalists to the effect that "the Holy Father Benedict XVI has designated Archbishop Pier Luigi Celata, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, as head of the Holy See delegation to the funeral of Ibrahim Rugova, president of Kosovo." The funeral is due to be held tomorrow Thursday, January 26.
OP/FUNERAL RUGOVA/CELATA                        VIS 20060125 (80)


VATICAN CITY, JAN 25, 2006 (VIS) - In the general audience, held this morning in the Paul VI Hall in the presence of 8,000 people, Benedict XVI recalled that today is the concluding day of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. He then turned to his catechesis, which was dedicated to the second part of Psalm 143: "The king's prayer."

  The psalm, said the Pope, "sings of the final goal of history, when the voice of evil will finally be silent." It also makes mentions "of evildoers, seen as oppressors of the people of God and of their faith. But this negative aspect is followed by the positive, to which far greater space is dedicated, that of the new and joyful world that is about to come into being. This is the true 'shalom,' the messianic 'peace,' a luminous horizon expressed in a series of images drawn from daily life: for us too, these can become an expression of hope for a more just society."

  Among these images is that of "the family based on the vitality of the generations," and that of "economic life, the countryside and crops," and finally "the city, in other words the entire civil community finally enjoying the precious gift of peace and of public order."

  "This picture of a different but possible world is entrusted to the work of the Messiah and of His people. All together we can put this project of peace and harmony into effect, bringing an end to the destructive action of hatred, violence and war. However, it is necessary to make a choice, taking the side of God, of love and of justice." The reference here, the Holy Father concluded, is "to the new covenant announced by the prophets and consummated in Christ, to the new man, to the hallelujah of a life renewed and redeemed, to the novelty of Christ and His Gospel."
AG/PSALM 143/...                                VIS 20060125 (330)


VATICAN CITY, JAN 25, 2006 (VIS) - Given below is a summary of Benedict XVI's first Encyclical, entitled "Deus caritas est" (God is love). Dated December 25, Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord, it considers the question of Christian love.

  The Encyclical is divided into two long parts. The first, entitled, "The Unity of Love in Creation and in Salvation History," presents a theological-philosophical reflection on "love" in its various dimensions - "eros," "philia," and "agape" - highlighting certain vital aspects of God's love for man and the inherent links that such love has with human love. The second part, entitled "The Practice of Love by the Church as a 'Community of Love'," concerns the concrete implementation of the commandment to love others.


  The term "love" - one of the most used, and abused, words in today's world - has a vast field of meaning. In this multiplicity of meanings, however, the archetype of love par excellence that emerges is that between man and woman, which in ancient Greece was given the name of "eros." In the Bible, and above all in the New Testament, the concept of "love" is rendered more profound, a development expressed by the rejection of the word "eros" in favor of the term "agape" to express oblate love.

  This new view of love, an essential novelty of Christianity, has not infrequently been considered in a completely negative sense as the refusal of "eros" and of all things corporeal. Although there have been tendencies of this nature, the meaning of this development is quite different. "Eros," placed in the nature of man by his Creator, needs discipline, purification and maturity in order not to lose its original dignity, and not be degraded to the level of being pure "sex," becoming a mere commodity.

  The Christian faith has always considered man as a being in whom spirit and matter are mutually intertwined, drawing from this a new nobility. The challenge of "eros" may be said to have been overcome when man's body and soul are in perfect harmony. Then love truly becomes "ecstasy," but not ecstasy in the sense of a passing moment of euphoria, but as a permanent departure from the "I" closed within itself towards freedom in the giving of self and, precisely in this way, towards the rediscovery of self, or rather, towards the discovery of God. In this way, "eros" can raise the human being "in ecstasy" towards the Divine.

  Ultimately what is necessary is that "eros" and "agape" never be completely separated from one another; indeed, the greater the extent to which the two - though in different dimensions - find their right equilibrium, the more the true nature of love is realized. Although initially "eros" is, above all, desire, in approaching the other person it will ask ever fewer questions about itself and seek ever more happiness in the other, it will give itself and desire to "be there" for the other. Thus the one becomes part of the other and the moment of "agape" is achieved.

  In Jesus Christ, Who is the incarnate love of God, "eros-agape" achieves its most radical form. In His death on the cross, Jesus, giving Himself to raise and save mankind, expressed love in its most sublime form. Jesus ensured a lasting presence for this act of giving through the institution of the Eucharist, in which, under the species of bread and wine, He gives Himself as a new manna uniting us to Him. By participating in the Eucharist, we too become involved in the dynamics of His act of giving. We unite ourselves to Him, and at the same time unite ourselves with everyone else to whom He gives Himself. Thus we all become "a single body." In this way, love for God and love for others are truly fused together. The dual commandment, thanks to this encounter with the "agape" of God, is no longer just a requirement: love can be "commanded," because first it was given.


  Love for others rooted in the love of God, in addition to being the duty of each individual faithful, is also the duty of the entire ecclesial community, which in its charitable activities must reflect Trinitarian love. An awareness of this duty has been of fundamental importance in the Church ever since her beginnings; and very soon the need became clear for a certain degree of organization as a basis for a more effective realization of those activities.

  Thus, within the fundamental structure of the Church, the "deaconry" emerged as a service of love towards others, a love exercised collectively and in an ordered fashion: a concrete service, but at the same time a spiritual one. With the progressive growth of the Church, the practice of charity was confirmed as being one of her essential aspects. The Church's intimate nature is thus expressed in a triple duty: announcing the Word of God ("kerygma-martyria"), celebrating the Sacraments ("leiturgia"), and the service of charity ("diakonia"). These duties are inherent to one another and cannot be separated.

  Beginning in the nineteenth century, a fundamental objection was raised against the Church's charitable activity. Such activity, it was said, runs counter to justice and ends up by preserving the status quo. By carrying out individual acts of charity, the reasoning went, the Church favors the preservation of the existing unjust system, making it in some way bearable and thus hindering rebellion and potential transformation to a better world.

  In this way, Marxism sought to indicate in world revolution, and in the preparations for such revolution, a panacea for social ills; a dream that has since been shattered. Pontifical Magisterium - beginning with Leo XIII's Encyclical "Rerum novarum" (1891), and later with John Paul II's three social Encyclicals: "Laborem exercens" (1981), "Sollicitudo rei socialis" (1987), and "Centesimus annus" (1991) - has considered the social question with growing attention and, in facing ever new problems, has developed a highly complex social doctrine, proposing guidelines that are valid well beyond the confines of the Church.

  The creation of a just order in society and the State is the primary duty of politics, and therefore cannot be the immediate task of the Church. Catholic social doctrine does not want to give the Church power over the State, but simply to purify and illuminate reason, offering its own contribution to the formation of consciences so that the true requirements of justice may be perceived, recognized and put into effect. Nonetheless, there is no State legislation, however just it may be, that can make the service of love superfluous. The State that wishes to provide for everything becomes a bureaucratic machine, incapable of ensuring that essential contribution of which suffering man - all mankind - has need: loving personal dedication. Whoever wants to dispose of love, seeks to dispose of man.

  In our own time, one positive collateral effect of globalization appears in the fact that concern for others, overcoming the confines of national communities, tends to broaden the horizons of the whole world. Structures of State and humanitarian associations both support, in various ways, the solidarity expressed by civil society; thus, many charitable and philanthropic organizations have come into being. In the Catholic Church too, as in other ecclesial communities, new forms of charitable activity have arisen. It is to be hoped that fruitful collaboration may be established between these various elements. Of course, it is important that the Church's charitable work does not lose its own identity, lost against the background of widespread organized charity of which it is simply another alternative. Rather it must maintain all the splendor of the essence of Christian and ecclesial charity. Therefore:

  Christian charitable activity, apart from its professional competence, must be based on the experience of a personal encounter with Christ, Whose love touched believers' hearts, generating within them love for others.

  Christian charitable activity must be independent of parties and ideologies. The program of Christians - the program of the Good Samaritan, the program of Jesus - is a "heart that sees." This heart sees where there is need of love and acts accordingly.

  Christian charitable activity, furthermore, must not be a function of that which today is called proselytism. Love is gratuitous, it is not exercised in order to achieve other goals. However, this does not mean that charitable activity must, so to say, leave God and Christ on one side. Christians know when the time is right to speak of God, and when it is right to be silent and let love alone speak. St. Paul's hymn of charity must be the "Magna Charta" for the entire ecclesial service, protecting it from the risk of degrading into mere activism.

  In this context, and faced with the impending secularism that also risks conditioning many Christians committed to charitable work, we must reaffirm the importance of prayer. Living contact with Christ ensures that the immensity of need coupled with the limits of individual activity do not, on the one hand, push charity workers into ideologies that seek to do now that which God, apparently, does not manage to do or, on the other, serve as a temptation to surrender to inertia and resignation. Those who pray do not waste their time, although a situation may seem to call only for action, nor do they seek to change and correct God's plan. Rather they aim - following the example of Mary and the saints - to draw from God the light and the strength of love that defeats all the darkness and selfishness present in the world.

  To read the full text of the Encyclical, click here
ENC/DEUS CARITAS EST/...                            VIS 20060125 (1620)


VATICAN CITY, JAN 25, 2006 (VIS) - At midday today in the Holy See Press Office, the presentation took place of Benedict XVI's first Encyclical "Deus caritas est." Participating in the press conference were Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Archbishop William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and Archbishop Paul Josef Cordes, president of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum."

  In his remarks, Cardinal Martino made reference to that part of the Encyclical in which the Pope considers the relationship between justice and charity, and indicates certain points concerning the field of jurisdiction of the Church and her social doctrine, and the jurisdiction of the State, in achieving a just social order.

  After highlighting how the building of social and State order is not immediately incumbent upon the Church but rather upon the political sphere, the Pope points out that "the Church is duty-bound to offer, through the purification of reason and through ethical formation, her own specific contribution towards understanding the requirements of justice and achieving them politically."

  The Holy Father, Cardinal Martino went on, "affirms that, in building a just social order, the duty of the Church with her social doctrine is that of reawakening spiritual and moral forces." In this context, he continued, "lay people, as citizens of the State, are called to participate directly in public life." Their mission "is to mould social life appropriately, respecting its legitimate autonomy and cooperating with other citizens, according to their respective areas of jurisdiction, each under their own responsibility."

  "The presence of lay people in the social field," the cardinal continued, "is here conceived in terms of service, a sign and expression of charity which is made manifest in family, cultural, working, economic and political life."

  For his part, Archbishop Levada affirmed that the Encyclical, is "a powerful text on the 'nucleus of Christian faith,' understood as the Christian image of God and the image of man that derives from it. A powerful text that seeks to counter the erroneous use of the name of God, and the ambiguity concerning the word 'love' that is so evident in the world today."

  "In order to explain the novelty of Christian love, the Holy Father seeks first to illustrate the difference and unity between two concepts inherent to the phenomenon of love from the times of the ancient Greeks: 'eros' and 'agape'." These two concepts "do not oppose one another, but come harmoniously together to offer a realistic concept of human love, a love that involves the entirety - body and soul - of the human being. 'Agape' prevents 'eros' from abandoning itself to instinct, while 'eros' offers 'agape' the fundamental and vital relationships of human existence."

  The prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith then went on to point out how "in the indissoluble marriage between man and woman this human love takes a form that is rooted in creation itself."

  "Love for others, rooted in the love of God, is the duty, not only of each individual faithful, but also - and here we come to the second part of the Encyclical - of the entire community of believers, in other words the Church. From the historical development of the ecclesial aspect of love, which dates back to the very origins of the Church, we may draw two conclusions: firstly that the service of charity is part of the essence of the Church, secondly that no one must lack what they need, either within or outside the Church."

  In his Encyclical the Pope, Archbishop Levada added, "offers some illuminating comments on certain aspects of the Church's service of charity - 'diakonia' - in modern times. He responds to the objection according to which charity towards the poor is an obstacle to the fair distribution of the wealth of the earth to all mankind."

  At the same time the Pope "praises new forms of fruitful collaboration between State and Church bodies, making reference to the phenomenon of voluntary work."

  In summing up the Encyclical, Archbishop Levada pointed out how it "offers us a vision of love for others, and of the ecclesial duty to practice charity, as being a way to implement the commandment of love, one that finds its roots in the essence of God Himself, Who is Love." The document, he concluded, "invites the Church to a renewed commitment to the service of charity ('diakonia') as an essential part of her existence and her mission."

  The last to speak was Archbishop Paul Josef Cordes, who highlighted how "today's text is the first ever Encyclical on the subject of charity." Perhaps, he suggested, the presentation had also been entrusted to him as president of "Cor Unum" because his dicastery "puts into effect the Pope's personal initiatives as a sign of his compassion in the face of certain situations of misery."

  "The Church's charity is made up of concrete initiatives," said the archbishop. "It includes political initiatives, such as those for the elimination of debt of the poorest countries. We wish to promote an awareness of justice in society." However, he went on, "Pope Benedict XVI [also] wished to illuminate charitable commitment with a theological foundation. ... He is convinced that faith has consequences on the individual who acts, and therefore on the manner and intensity of his acts of charity."

  "The social doctrine of the Church and the theology of charity are, without doubt, inter-linked," the prelate said, "but they are not exactly the same. Indeed, the former expresses ethical principles associated with the search for the common good and moves, therefore, more at a political and community level. On the other hand, caring - both individually and together - for the suffering of others does not call for a systematic doctrine. Rather, it arises from the word of faith."

  "In our society there exists, fortunately, a widespread feeling of philanthropy, ... but this can give the faithful the idea that charity is not an essential part of the ecclesial mission. Without a solid theological foundation, the great ecclesial agencies could become ... disassociated from the Church, [and] ... prefer to identify themselves as non-governmental organizations. In such cases, their 'philosophy' and their projects would be indistinguishable from the Red Cross and the U.N. agencies. This, however, contrasts with the two-thousand-year history of the Church, and does not take into account the intimate rapport between ecclesial action on behalf of man and credibility in the announcement of the Gospel."

  "We must go further," Archbishop Cordes concluded, "the present sensibility of so many people, especially the young, also contains a 'kairos apostolico.' This opens notable pastoral prospects. There are innumerable volunteers, and many of them discover the love of God in the giving of themselves to others with disinterested love."
ENC/DEUS CARITAS EST/...                            VIS 20060125 (1150)

Copyright © VIS - Vatican Information Service