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Friday, September 19, 2003


VATICAN CITY, SEP 19, 2003 (VIS) - The Holy Father today welcomed to Castelgandolfo 180 participants in a course of formation for English-speaking bishops in mission lands that was organized by the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. He greeted the congregation's prefect, Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, as well as all priests, religious, catechists and lay people of the dioceses entrusted to these bishops.

In his talk to them in English, the Pope stressed that "missionary activity throughout the earth ... is still an urgent apostolic undertaking in our day, and you are called to be its courageous and tireless supporters in the midst of daily difficulties and trials."

He noted that in his Encyclical Letter "Redemptoris Missio", he wrote that the Church must be committed "to a new evangelization and to the mission 'ad gentes'. No believer in Christ, no institution of the Church, can avoid this supreme duty: to proclaim Christ to all peoples."

"Among your duties," added the Pope, "is that of transmitting the gift of faith and encouraging your communities to be evangelizers. There is room for everyone in the Lord's vineyard. No one is so poor that he has nothing to give. No one is so rich that he has nothing to receive.

"May your soul every day hear the echo of the Redeemer's exhortation: 'Duc in altum'! This is an invitation to cast 'spiritual nets' into the sea of the world. In turn, those who trust in the Divine Master experience the wonder of the miraculous catch of fish."

The Holy Father urged the bishops to "be holy. On different occasions I have noted that holiness is the urgent pastoral need of our times."

"No activity, no matter how important, should distract you from this spiritual priority that sets the tone for the apostolic mandate received with episcopal ordination. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, makes you His associates in serving the Cristian people as fathers, teachers and pastors."

Pope John Paul concluded by inviting the prelates to imitate the memories of saints, martyrs, confessors of the faith of their communities. "Follow in their footsteps! Be pastors who, by their example more than by their words, honor the Gospel and inspire in those around them the desire to know it better and to put it into practice."

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VATICAN CITY, SEP 19, 2003 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences two prelates from the Uganda Episcopal Conference on their "ad limina" vist:

- Bishop Henry Apaloryamam Ssentongo of Moroto.

- Bishop Denis Kiwanuka Lote of Kotido.
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VATICAN CITY, SEP 19, 2003 (VIS) - Today at Castelgandolfo the Pope received a group of priests of the Greek Orthodox Church and recalled his visit with His Beatitude Christodoulos, archbishop of Athens and all Greece, and the Greek Orthodox Church during the Jubilee Year.

"We must continue to build on solid foundations the fraternal and evangelical ties that we experienced on that occasion. Your visit to Rome is a valid initiative in that sense in order to get to know and appreciate each other better and to advance relations that facilitate communion."

John Paul II assured them that he asked the Lord "constantly to prepare us to open our hearts to His prayer that 'all may be one', and to make us capable of genuine obedience to His will in order to look together for ways for closer collaboration and an ever-deeper communion."

He concluded by saying: "I hope that your visit to the holy sites of Rome, with gatherings, conversations, occasions of dialogue, may be a positive and useful experience for your priestly life. May the Holy Spirit always accompany your ministry and strengthen the testimony that each one of you gives to the Gospel of our common Lord."

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