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Tuesday, September 23, 2003


VATICAN CITY, SEP 23, 2003 (VIS) - Cardinal Jozef Tomko, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, heads the Holy See delegation to an inter-religious congress being held today and tomorrow in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan.

Joining Cardinal Tomko are: Archbishops Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace; Pier Luigi Celata, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue; Jozef Wesolowski, apostolic nuncio in Kazakhstan, Tomasz Peta, archbishop of Astana; Msgr. Julio Murat of the Secretariat of State and Fr. Jozef Maj, S.J., of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

A declaration released previously on this meeting by Joaquin Navarro-Valls, director of the Holy See Press Office, stated: "It is well known to everyone that the Catholic Church favors inter-religious dialogue and, as Vatican Council II's Declaration 'Nostra Aetate' teaches, 'urges her sons to enter with prudence and charity into discussion and collaboration with members of other religions. Let Christians, while witnessing to their own faith and way of life, acknowledge, preserve and encourage the spiritual and moral truths found among non-Christians, also their social life and culture'(n.2).

"In such a spirit, His Holiness John Paul II, in his 25 years of pontificate, has met numerous religious leaders with the aim of promoting in the world spiritual and moral values, thus favoring reconciliation and peace among peoples. Last year, in calling the representatives of the world's religions to Assisi, His Holiness repeated that 'it is a duty for religious persons and communities to repudiate, in the clearest and most emphatic fashion, violence, all violence, starting with that which pretends to cloak itself in piety, even to calling on the holy name of God to offend man. Offending man is, after all, an offense against God. There is no religious finality that can justify the practice of violence by man on man'.

"For this reason the Holy See expresses fervent hopes for the success of the Astana meeting, and hopes that it can contribute to promoting the peace and harmony of the human family, in respecting the rights of every person."



VATICAN CITY, SEP 23, 2003 (VIS) - The following telegram was sent by Pope John Paul to Cardinal Jozef Tomko, head of the Holy See delegation to the Inter-religious Congress being held today and tomorrow in Astana, Kazakhstan:

"On the occasion of the Inter-religious Congress taking place at Astana on the role of religions in the present global context, filled with dangers for world peace, I am pleased to send cordial greetings to the president of the congress, His Excellency Mr. Nursultan Nazarbayev, and to all the participants, to whom I wish every success in their deliberations. In the spirit of Assisi, this new initiative of the Kazakhstan authorities will help to promote respect for human dignity, the defense of religious freedom and the growth of mutual understanding among peoples, convinced as we are that religion, properly understood, shows itself to be a solid instrument for the promotion of peace. For this purpose, the Catholic Church, on the basis of the revealed teaching living within Her, is committed to support every sincere effort in favor of a genuine peace based on truth, justice, love and freedom."



VATICAN CITY, SEP 23, 2003 (VIS) - On Tuesday, October 7 Pope John Paul will depart Vatican City at 9 a.m. by helicopter for a visit of several hours to the Shrine of Our Lady of the Rosary of Pompeii, near Naples, Italy. The one-hour flight will bring the Pope to a heliport set up near the archeological ruins of the ancient city, from where he will travel by car to Bartolo Longo Square in Pompeii.

Following his arrival at 10:30 at the basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary of Pompeii, the Holy Father will recite the rosary for peace in the world with the faithful gathered outside the church, and will deliver a homily. He will then recite the supplication to Our Lady as is traditionally done every year on May 8 and in October when thousands of faithful gather at the shrine for the Feast of the Supplication to petition favors and to offer thanksgiving for favors received.

After greeting the civil and religious authorities present at the shrine, the Pope will return to the heliport and is scheduled to leave at 12:30 for Vatican City, arriving one hour later.

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VATICAN CITY, SEP 23, 2003 (VIS) - On Saturday September 27 at 6 p.m. on the Altar of the Confession in the Vatican Basilica, the Pope will preside at Mass on the 25th anniversary of the death of Popes Paul VI and John Paul I.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, dean of the College of Cardinals, will celebrate the Mass along with the other cardinals. The Pope will give the homily, lead the prayers of the faithful, and impart his apostolic blessing.



VATICAN CITY, SEP 23, 2003 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

- Eight prelates from the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines:

- Bishop Guillermo V. Afable of Digos, with Bishop emeritus Generoso C. Camina, P.M.E.

- Bishop Patricio H. Alo of Mati.

- Bishop Wilfredo D. Manlapaz of Tagum.

- Archbishop Gaudencio B. Rosales of Manila, diocesan administrator of Lipa, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Jose Paala Salazar, O.P.

- Bishop Jose F. Oliveros.

- Bishop Antonio Palang, S.V.D., apostolic vicar of San Jose in Mindoro.

- Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.

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VATICAN CITY, SEP 23, 2003 (VIS) - This year on September 26-28 the Holy See will participate in the "European Heritage Days," an initiative promoted by the European Council which is made up of more than 40 countries. This year's theme is: "The Monastic heritage - symbiosis of spirituality and artistic creativity as a principle channel for the birth of the European identity."
On the occasion of these celebrations, a musical meditation, performed by the Benedictine monks from St. Anselm's Pontifical Athenaeum, is scheduled to take place in St. Peter's Basilica on Friday September 26 at 6 p.m.

On Saturday September 27, World Tourism Day will be celebrated. Its theme is: "Tourism: driving element in the fight against poverty for the creation of employment and social harmony." On this day, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., there will be guided visits to the archives of the Vatican Basilica which are normally closed to the public.

As part of World Tourism Day celebrations, on Sunday September 28, entrance to the Vatican Museums and the catacombs of Rome will be free. In addition, in the catacombs of St. Callistus a special didactic exhibition entitled "Monasticism and the Catacombs" will be inaugurated and will remain open until October 28. An exhibition in the Vatican Museums, "Monastic Cultural Heritage - From The Manuscripts of the Vatican Apostolic Library to the Christian Roots of Europe" will be unveiled and open to the public until November 8.

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