Malta, Portugal, Romania

Malta: the programme of the papal visit “Like Paul, Benedict XVI shall come among us in order to fulfill and fortify us in the faith which the Apostle Paul instilled within us. May we as a nation welcome him warmly, much in the same way that our ancestors paid homage to Paul and his friends. May his visit instill in us the blessings which we require so that we may continue to live according to God’s will for his Church, in order that through our Christian beliefs and way of life, we may give witness to God’s love”. With these words Archbishop Paul Cremona of Malta and Bishop Mario Grech of Gozo gave on 10 February, the solemn announcement of Benedict XVI’s visit to Malta (17-18 April) on the occasion of the 1950th anniversary of St. Paul’s shipwreck on the island. According to the programme released by the Holy See Press Office today – Feast of St. Paul’s shipwreck in Malta -, the Pope will depart for Malta from Rome’s Fiumicino Airport at 3.25 pm on 17 April. At 5 pm, a welcome ceremony will be held at the Malta International Airport, Luqa, where the Pope will deliver his first speech before paying a courtesy visit to the President of the Republic in Valletta. At 7.15 pm, the Pope will visit Saint Paul’s grotto in Rabat. On Sunday 18 April, the Pope is due to celebrate a Mass and recite the Regina Coeli on the Granaries in Floriana before having lunch with the bishops of Malta. After a boat trip from Kalkara to the Valletta Grand Harbour, Benedict XVI will meet the youth at 4.45 pm. This will be the Pope’s last appointment before the farewell celebration at the Malta International Airport and his return to Italy scheduled for 8.45 pm.Portugal: waiting for Benedict XVI’s visitA website and a pastoral note dedicated to Benedict XVI’s next visit to Portugal, from 11 to 14 May. They were made known to the press by the secretary of Portuguese bishops, Father Manuel Morujão, while speaking about the works of the Permanent Council of the Portuguese Bishops’ Conference (Cep), taking place in Fatima on 9 February. “The Church hopes the Portuguese society will welcome Benedict XVI next May, independently of religious faiths or ideologies, giving signs of solidarity, harmony and internal communion, to everyone and to the Pope himself”, said Father Morujão, who also announced that “Portuguese bishops decided to publish a pastoral note on the visit of the Pontiff, on the occasion of the next Permanent Council taking place on 1 March, with the title: ‘We are walking in hope together with you. Christianity, Knowledge and Mission'”. The note is meant “to oppose the pessimistic trend connected with the current situation of crisis”. Moreover, now the official address of the Papal visit is also operating:, where one can find information, documents, multimedia material and data relating to several events in the programme. where one can find information, documents, multimedia material and data relating to several events in the programme.Romania: the pope to the seminarians of Iasi”I grant a warm welcome to the theology students of the Major Seminary of Iasi, accompanied by their tutors. Dear friends, rediscover the gift of being in the sequel of Christ and always manifest your adhesion towards his will! Be prepared at spiritual, theological and pastoral level to fulfill your ministry in the context of contemporary society, mostly secularized. I accompany you with my prayers and I bless you with all my heart”. Benedict XVI greeted in Romanian 130 seminarians from the Roman-Catholic Theological Institute of Iasi during the general audience of February 10. The Theological Institute of Iasi was founded in 1886 by bishop Nicolae Iosif Camilli. It is the most ancient and largest seminary of the diocese of Iasi, which counts some 240 thousand Catholics. “We have taken part in a historical event. Never before in the history of our Romanian dioceses were all the seminarians present in Rome, in audience with the Holy Father”, said Ioan Robu, archbishop of Bucharest, commenting on the event. “For our seminarians the audience with the Holy Father was and will remain an unceasing encouragement in the path of their service”, added Msgr. Petru Gherghel, bishop of Iasi. On February 8-11, the Theological Institute of Iasi held a meeting on “Discovering Vocation as the Mystery of Mercy”, attended by some 100 Catholic priests of Latin and Byzantine rite from all of Romania’s dioceses and parishes. Msgr. Domenico Cancian, Bishop of Città di Castello (Italy), was one of the speakers. In his address he underlined that “the priest is called to bear witness of the mercy of God to contemporary men, who need it dearly”.

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