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Monday, May 15, 2000


VATICAN CITY, MAY 12, 2000 (VIS) - Pope John Paul arrived at Lisbon Airport at 6 this evening, where he was greeted by religious and civil authorities, including Archbishop Jose da Cruz Policarpo, patriarch of Lisbon, and Portugal's President Jorge Fernando Branco de Sampaio.

"God has allowed me to return to Portugal and I give Him thanks and bless Him for this," the Pope told those who gathered for the welcome ceremony. "In answer to the insistent call by the bishops of Portugal, I have come to Cova da Iria to celebrate, together with the Catholic community, the beatification of the shepherd children, Francesco and Jacinta Marto, in the same place which was a cradle for them and has now become an altar. I know that your Motherland sings the praises of her heroes and the glories of her saints; The Pope willingly joins in Portugal's joy.

"At the start of my visit, I wish to express my great esteem and affection for all Portuguese, to whom I wish a future of peace, well-being and prosperity, following in their most authentic traditions and the genuine values particular to your country, which are rooted in Christianity."

Following a private encounter with Portugal's president, the Holy Father flew to Fatima, 120 kilometers north of Portugal's capital, Lisbon. Immediately upon his arrival he went by car to the Chapel of Apparitions at the shrine of Our Lady of the Rosary of Fatima, which is visited annually by an estimated four million pilgrims.

The chapel, located on the left side of the esplanade as a visitor looks towards the basilica, marks the site of five of the six apparitions of Mary to Lucia, Francesco and Jacinta. On August 19, 1917, she appeared to them in Dos Valinhos because the mayor of the district to which Fatima belonged, Villa Nova de Ourem, had barred their entrance to the Cova da Iria on August 13, threatening them and demanding that they say they had lied about the apparitions.

The precise site where Our Lady appeared to the three children - an oak tree, long since gone - is indicated by a marble column in the chapel on which is the statue of Mary, carved in Brazilian cedar, which was placed there in 1920. This statue has been moved from the site only seven times since then. It is scheduled, however, to be brought to Rome in October for the Jubilee Year.

The shrine, built on the site of the apparitions, the "Cova da Iria," consists of an esplanade, 540 meters long and 160 meters wide, the basilica, built in 1928, at the northern end of the open space and the Chapel of the Apparitions, built in 1919. Near this chapel is a slight hill, surrounded by a fence, from which the three children saw the apparitions. There are also several buildings which serve as retreat houses or guest centers for the ill who come on pilgrimage, the rector's office and administrative offices.
In the center of the square is a giant monument to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, built over a well, whose water has allegedly been the source of many graces. At the entrance to the shrine there is a piece of the Berlin Wall, 3.6 meters high and 1.2 meters long, weighing 2,600 kilos. This was offered to the shrine by a Portuguese immigrant in Germany to express his gratitude for the fall of communism. Not far from the shrine, in Aljustrel and Valinhos, are the homes of Jacinta and Francisco, and Lucia, which have remained almost unchanged over the years.

When Lucia was a religious of St. Dorothy, before becoming a Discalzed Carmelite, the Virgin appeared to her three more times in Spain: December 10, 1925 and February 15, 1926 at the convent of Pontevedra and on the night of June 13-14 at the convent of Tuy. Lucia was asked to start the devotion of the First Five Saturdays (to pray the rosary and meditate its mysteries, go to confession and receive communion, all in reparation for sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary) and to consecrate Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The latter request was also part of the July 13, 1917 apparition.



VATICAN CITY, MAY 14, 2000 - In St. Peter's Square at 9:30 a.m. today, the Pope presided at a Eucharistic celebration during which he conferred priestly ordination on 26 deacons of the diocese of Rome. The newly ordained priests are from Italy, Spain, Northern Ireland, Guatemala, India, Nicaragua, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Ivory Coast.

"On this Sunday, commonly called the 'Sunday of the Good Shepherd'," said the Pope in his homily, "the Church celebrates the World Day of Prayer for Vocations."

John Paul II told the new priests that "the mystery of divine, creative and redeeming love, revealed in the Incarnation of the Word and fulfilled in His Paschal sacrifice, is so great as to fill to overflowing every day and every moment of your ministry. From this mystery, especially in the celebration of Holy Mass, draw the spiritual energy (necessary) to faithfully carry out your mission. Through your hands, the Good Shepherd will continue to offer His life sacramentally for the salvation of the world, drawing everyone to Him and inviting everyone to accept the embrace of the one Father. Be ever aware of and grateful for this gift that Providence concedes you today."
"I wish to thank those who have accompanied and guided you on the path that has brought you here. ... For everyone, the joy of seeing you priests, ever faithful to your mission, will be the greatest recompense. Furthermore, may your example encourage other young men to follow Christ with the same readiness."

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 13, 2000 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed:

- Bishop Domenico Caliandro of Ugento-Santa Maria di Leuca, Italy, as bishop of Nardo-Gallipoli (area 587, population 211,596, Catholics 210,376, priests 146, religious 139), Italy.

- Msgr. Vito De Grisantis of the clergy of the archdiocese of Lecce, Italy, episcopal vicar for the laity and pastor of the parish of Santa Maria delle Grazie, as bishop of Ugento-Santa Maria di Leuca (area 475, population 124,000, Catholics 122,800, priests 76, religious 124), Italy. The bishop-elect was born in Lecce in 1941 and ordained a priest in 1965.
- Msgr. Jonas Kauneckas, spiritual father of the major seminary at Telsiai (area 13,373, population 731,044, Catholics 600,000, priests 144, religious 94), Lithuania, as auxiliary bishop of the same diocese. The bishop-elect was born in Krincinas, Lithuania, in 1938 and ordained a priest in 1977.

- Fr. Anton Stres C.M., dean of the theological faculty of Ljubljana, Slovenia, as auxiliary of the diocese of Maribor (area 7,398, population 839,814, Catholics 711,898, priests 393, permanent deacons 3, religious 257), Slovenia. The bishop-elect was born in Donacka gora, Slovenia, in 1942 and ordained a priest in 1968.

- Msgr. Andrej Glavan of the clergy of Ljubljana (area 8,544, population 883,175, Catholics 703,450, priests 541, permanent deacons 5, religious 804), Slovenia, pastor of the parish of Stara Loka, as auxiliary of the same archdiocese. The bishop-elect was born in Soteska, Slovenia, in 1943 and ordained a priest in 1972.

- Msgr. Jurij Bizjak of the clergy of the diocese of Koper, Slovenia, spiritual director of major seminary of Ljubljana, as auxiliary of Koper (area 4,306, population 263,499, Catholics 206,898, priests 182, religious 119). The bishop-elect was born in Col, Slovenia, in 1947 and ordained a priest in 1971.

- Cardinal Rosalio Jose Castillo Lara S.D.B., president emeritus of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State,as his special envoy at celebrations for the Argentine National Eucharistic Congress, due to take place at Cordoba from September 8 to 10.

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 13, 2000 (VIS) - This morning on the esplanade of the Shrine of Our Lady of the Rosary (Fatima) in the presence of more than half a million people, the Pope beatified Jacinta and Francisco Marto, two of the three little shepherds of Fatima to whom Mary appeared. Their feast will be celebrated on February 20. Cardinals and bishops, present for the occasion, concelebrated Mass with the Pope.

Prior to the Eucharistic celebration, the Pope visited the tombs of Jacinta and Francisco which are inside the basilica, and he had a brief conversation with Sr. Lucia, the only one of the three who saw Mary who is still alive. The basilica was consecrated in 1953. Its 15 side altars are dedicated to the 15 mysteries of the Rosary. The painting over the main altar represents the Virgin's message to the seers.

"By this rite," said the Holy Father in his homily, "the Church wishes to adorn the lamp with these two flames that God lit to illuminate humanity in its hours of darkness and worry."

After recalling Blessed Francisco's desire to console Jesus, saddened by sin, he said: "His life was marked by a transformation that may be called radical, a transformation most certainly not common in children of his age. He committed himself to an intense spiritual life, through prayer so assiduous and fervent as to become a true form of mystical union with the Lord. ... Francisco bore without complaint the great suffering caused by the illness from which he later died. Everything seemed trivial to him in (his desire to) to console Jesus, he died with a smile on his lips."

"In her maternal solicitude, the Most Holy Virgin came here to Fatima in order to ask men 'to never again offend God, Our Lord, as He has already been much offended.' It is her pain as a mother that obliges her to speak, the fate of her children is at stake. For this reason she asks the little shepherds: 'Pray, pray a lot and sacrifice yourselves for sinners; so many souls end up in hell because there is no one to pray and make sacrifices for them'."

John Paul II indicated that "little Jacinta shared and lived the same pain as the Madonna, heroically offering herself as a victim for sinners. ... She was so impressed by the vision of hell during the July apparition, that all mortification and penance seemed slight to her in order to save sinners."

"Here in Fatima, where these times of tribulation were foretold and the Virgin requested prayer and penance in order to shorten them, I wish today to give thanks to heaven for the strength of witness that was shown in (those times). Once more I wish to celebrate the Lord's mercy towards me when, gravely injured on May 13 1981, I was saved from death. I also express my recognition to Blessed Jacinta for her sacrifice and prayers for the Holy Father, whom she saw suffer so much."

Prior to the conclusion of the ceremony, there was adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. The Pope then greeted the sick present: "Have faith (in the Lord)! Surrender yourselves into His secure hands, just as the little shepherds Francisco and Jacinta did. They tell you that you are not alone,.. The heavenly Father loves you."

Following the beatification, Cardinal Secretary of State Angelo Sodano read a text in Portuguese concerning the third secret of Fatima. This text was published by VIS in its special edition of Saturday, May 13.


VATICAN CITY, MAY 15, 2000 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

- Cardinal Miguel Obando Bravo S.D.B., archbishop of Managua, Nicaragua.
- Archbishop Donato Squicciarini, apostolic nuncio in Austria.
- Archbishop Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga S.D.B., of Tegucigalpa, Honduras.
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VATICAN CITY, MAY 15, 2000 (VIS) - At midday today, the Pope received 300 athletes with hearing difficulties accompanied by their attendants, sign language interpreters and members of the organizing committee of the "Silent" World Games, which will be held in Rome in 2001.

"The 'silence' that marks your existence, young athletes," said John Paul II, "although it undoubtedly creates difficulties in your dealings with the surrounding world, must not represent solitude or isolation for anyone. On the contrary, finding strength in the interior values and capacities you possess, put all your energies to work in order to offer a precious contribution; certainly different but no less meaningful in ensuring respect and social integration for all people."

After indicating that the association brings together athletes from 80 countries on all continents, the Holy Father affirmed that "attention to people who live in conditions of reduced physical and personal efficiency helps society itself to create more respectful relationships between all its members.
"May your work reach the goals it has set itself of paying greater attention to the problems of those who have difficulties in communicating and in integrating in the wider context."

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 14, 2000 (VIS) - "The emotion is still very great which I felt yesterday in my heart in Fatima, as I proclaimed as Blesseds the shepherd children Jacinta and Francisco who, together with Lucia, who is still living, had the privilege of seeing Our Lady and speaking to her."

Prior to reciting the noon Regina Coeli prayer, with the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square, the Pope re-lived his brief journey to Fatima, adding that he had "entrusted Our Lady with all the needs and intentions of the Church, including praying for vocations. Today in fact, we celebrate The World Day of Prayer for Vocations."

The Holy Father then pointed out that, "according to a meaningful custom, the Fourth Sunday of Easter, known as 'Good Shepherd' Sunday, I was happy to have been able to ordain new priests for the diocese of Rome." He asked the faithful to pray for these priests.

"In this month of May, traditionally dedicated to Mary," he observed, "(and) welcoming the invitation that the Virgin extended in Fatima to believers, let us pray and do penance for the Church, for the holiness of priests, for the conversion of all who live in sin and for peace in the world."

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