BENEDICT XVI VISITS SICK CHILDREN IN ROME'S GEMELLI HOSPITAL
VATICAN CITY, 5 JAN 2011 (VIS REPORTS) - This afternoon, to mark tomorrow's Solemnity of the Epiphany, the Holy Father travelled to the Agostino Gemelli hospital in Rome where he visited the department for children afflicted with spina bifida.
Having greeted the young patients, he went on to visit the post-natal intensive care unit and the Paul VI International Scientific Institute for research, diagnosis and therapy of marital sterility.
Addressing the medical staff, the sick children and their parents the Holy Father explained that he had cone to the Gemelli hospital to tell the young ones "that I love you and remain at your side with my prayers and affection, also to give you the strength to face your sickness. ... I bless the personnel, their commitment and these places in which they give concrete expression of love for the weakest and those most in need", he said.
"Dear children and young people, one reason I wanted to come here to visit you was to be like the Magi, whom we celebrate on this Feast of the Epiphany. They brought Jesus gifts of gold frankincense and myrrh as an expression of their adoration and affection. Today I too have brought you some gifts so that, through this small sign, you may feel the closeness and affection of the Pope. Yet I would like everyone, adults and children alike, at this Christmastime, to recall the greatest gift which God gave to each one of us".
In conclusion Benedict XVI encouraged "the various charitable and voluntary initiatives, as well as those institutions which bring their expertise to the service of life. In this context I am thinking in particular of the Paul VI International Scientific Institute, which aims to promote responsible procreation. Once again, thank you all! The Pope loves you!"
VATICAN CITY, 6 JAN 2011 (VIS) - In the Vatican Basilica at 10 a.m. today, the Pope presided at Mass for the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord.
In his homily Benedict XVI explained that the Magi "were probably wise men who studied the skies, but not in an attempt to read the future in the stars; ... rather, they were men who sought something greater, who sought the true light, the light capable of indicating the path to follow in life. They were individuals who were certain that the creation contains what we could describe as God's signature, a signature that man can and must seek to discover and decipher".
Referring to King Herod, the Pope described him as a "a man of power", to whom "even God appeared as a rival; indeed, a particularly dangerous rival Who sought to deprive men of their living space, of their autonomy, of their power. ... Herod is a unsympathetic figure to us, one we instinctively judge negatively because of his brutality. Yet we should ask ourselves whether there is not perhaps something of Herod in us too. Perhaps we too, at times, see God as a kind of rival. Perhaps we too are blind to His signs, deaf to His words, because we believe that He puts limitations on our lives and does not allow us to dispose of our existence as we wish".
"When we see God in this way", the Holy Father continued, "we end up feeling dissatisfied and discontented, because we do not allow ourselves to be guided by the One Who is the foundation of all things, We must remove all idea of rivalry from our minds and hearts, the idea that giving space to God is a limit to the self. We must open ourselves to the certainty that God is omnipotent love which takes away nothing, which threatens nothing. Quite the contrary, He is the only One capable of offering us the chance to live a full life and to experience true joy".
The Magi, the Pope went on, "being wise men, also knew that it is not with a mere telescope but with the eyes of profound reason which searches for the ultimate meaning of reality, with the desire for God moved by the faith, that it is possible to meet Him. Or rather, this is what makes it possible for God to approach us. The universe is not the result of chance, as some people would have us believe, and contemplating it we are called to read something more profound therein: the wisdom of the Creator, God's endless imagination, His infinite love for us.
"We must not", Benedict XVI added, "allow our minds to be constrained by theories which are always limited and which - if we study them well - are not in any way in competition with the faith as they cannot explain the ultimate meaning of reality. In the beauty of the world, in its mystery, its greatness and its rationality we cannot fail to read the eternal rationality. And we cannot but allow ourselves to be guided by the world to the One God, Creator of heaven and earth. If we see things in this way, we will see that the One Who created the world, and the One Who was born in a grotto in Bethlehem and continues to live among us in the Eucharist, are the same living God Who calls us, Who invites us, Who wants to lead us to eternal life".
For the Magi "it seemed logical to seek the new king in the royal palace". Yet "the star guided them to Bethlehem, a small town; it guided them among the poor, among the humble, to find the King of the world. God's criteria are different to those of mankind. God does not show Himself among the powerful of this world, but in the humility of His love, the love which asks us to welcome it in our freedom, in order to transform us and enable us to reach the One Who is Love".
"In the end, for the Magi, it was vital to listen to the voice of Holy Scripture; only that could show them the way. The Word of God is the true star which, in the uncertainty of human discourse, offers us the immense splendour of divine truth", said the Pope.
And he concluded: "Let us allow ourselves to be guided by the star, which is the Word of God, let us follow it in our lives, walking with the Church where the Word has pitched its tent. Our path will always be illuminated by a light which no other sign can give us. And we too will be able to act as stars for other people, a reflection of that light which Christ caused to shine upon us".
VATICAN CITY, 6 JAN 2011 (VIS) - Following this morning's Mass in the Vatican Basilica, at midday the Pope appeared at the window of his study overlooking St. Peter's Square to pray the Angelus with thousands of faithful gathered below.
On the subject of today's feast, the Holy Father explained how "Epiphany means the manifestation of Jesus to all people, today represented by the Magi who came to Bethlehem from the East to pay homage to the King of the Jews, of Whose birth they had learned by the appearance of a star in the sky".
"Epiphany", he went on, "announced the universal openness of the Church, her call to evangelise all people. But the Epiphany also tells us how the Church accomplishes this mission: by reflecting the light of Christ and announcing His Word. Christians are called to imitate the service the star offered to the Magi. We must shine like children of light to attract everyone to the beauty of the Kingdom of God".
After the Angelus Benedict XVI expressed his congratulations "to our brothers and sisters of the Eastern Churches who will celebrate Christmas tomorrow. May the goodness of God, Who appeared in Jesus Christ, the Word incarnate, strengthen everyone in faith, hope and charity, and bring comfort to communities suffering trials".
The Pope also recalled how "the Epiphany is the Day of Missionary Children, promulgated by the Pontifical Work of the Holy Childhood. Children and young people, organised in their parishes and schools, form a network of spirituality and solidarity to help their peers in difficulties. It is very beautiful and important that children should grow up with their minds open to the world, with feelings of love and fraternity, overcoming selfishness and consumerism, Dear children and young people, with your prayers and your commitment you help in the Church's mission. For this I thank you and bless you!"
VATICAN CITY, 7 JAN 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father:
- Appointed Msgr. Leonardo Bonanno of the clergy of the archdiocese of Cosenza-Bisignano, Italy, vicar general, moderator of the archdiocesan Curia and judge of the regional ecclesiastical tribunal, as bishop of San Marco Argentano-Scalea (area 1,142, population 113,672, Catholics 111,000, priests 88, permanent deacons 3, religious 91), Italy. The bishop-elect was born in San Giovanni in Fiore, Italy in 1947 and ordained a priest in 1971. He succeeds Bishop Domenico Crusco, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.
- Appointed Bishop Hector Luis Morales Sanchez, prelate of Huautla, Mexico, as bishop of Netzahualcoyotl (area 513, population 3,637,000, Catholics 3,314,000, priests 136, religious 133), Mexico.