On 9 March, the Holy Father Benedict XVI paid a visit to the Mayor of Rome and then stopped at the nearby Convent of the Oblate Sisters of Saint Francesca Romana, who were celebrating the 4th centenary of the Saint's canonisation. On 16 March, addressing participants at the plenary of the Congregation for the Clergy, Benedict XVI announced the indiction of a 'Year for Priests'' from 19 June 2009 to 19 June 2010, on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the death of St Jean Marie Vianney, known as the Cure d’Ars. From the 17th to the 23rd he made an Apostolic Journey Africa, visiting Cameroon and Angola, and consigning to the Bishop presidents of national and regional Catholic Bishops' Conference the Instrumentum laboris for the 2nd Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops.
Among the special audiences granted by the Holy Father this month we mention: 12 March, to the delegation of the Grand Rabbinate of Israel; 13 March, to the plenary of the Congregation for Divine Worship; 16 March to the plenary of the Congregation for the Clergy; 28 to young volunteers of the Italian Civil Service. The Holy Father also received in audience on the occasion of the ad limina Visit to Rome the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Argentina.
The Pope sent a particularly important Letter dated 10 March, made public March 12, to the Bishops of the Catholic Church concerning the remission of the excommunication of the four bishops consecrated by Archbishop Lefebvre; the Pope also sent Messages on March 12 to Cardinal Stafford and participants in a Course offered by the Apostolic Penitentiary Corso; and his annual Message for World Day of Prayer for Vocations was made public on March 31.
The Holy Father made two appeals: one on the 11th for the difficult situation in Northern Ireland following the assassination of two British soldiers and an Irish policeman; and on the 31 a Holy See statement calling for the release of three Red Cross workers taken hostage in the Philippines on the Island of Jolo.