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Friday, October 22, 2004


VATICAN CITY, OCT 22, 2004 (VIS) - Today, the 26th anniversary of the beginning of his ministry as supreme pastor of the Church, John Paul II received bishops from Angola and San Tome who just completed their "ad limina" visit.

  The Pope said that it was important that among the members of the episcopal conference there is "a fraternal exchange of ideas and collaboration that facilitates the distribution of resources, both material and spiritual, among the dioceses that are most in need. … In this way, you will be able to rebuild the communities destroyed by war, to console wounded hearts and help the people entrusted to you so that they may make progress on the path of the Gospel." 

  "Today more than ever," he continued, "Angola needs peace with justice; specifically reconciliation, rejecting every temptation to resort to violence. … It is time for a deep national reconciliation; we must work ceaselessly in order to offer future generations a country where all members of society coexist and work together fraternally. … I urge you to work tirelessly for reconciliation and to bear authentic witness through acts of solidarity and aid for victims of the decades of violence."

  John Paul II also spoke about the need to defend the family and to proclaim "the liberating message of authentic Christian love," urging educational programs to emphasize that "true love is chaste love, and that chastity offers us solid hope to overcome the forces that threaten the institution of the family, and at the same time, to free humanity of the devastating scourge of AIDS."

  Referring to young people, the Holy Father underlined that "through a life of prayer and a solid sacramental life, they will remain united to Christ in order to pass on the values of the Gospel in their environments and they will generously assume their role in transforming society."

  After emphasizing that Catholic schools are "an especially effective means to ensure" the formation of young people, the Pope said that the bishops must "promote religious and moral teaching, also in public schools, in order to create a consensus in public opinion on the importance of this type of formation. This service, which could come from closer collaboration with the government, is an important form of active Catholic participation in the society of your country."

  John Paul II urged the prelates not to neglect the formation of catechists and agents of the evangelization. In addition, he added, "candidates for the priesthood must be carefully selected and formed," as well as their professors, "with clear human and priestly maturity." Priests, he continued, "are called to give up material goods and consecrate themselves to the service of their brothers and sisters through the complete personal gift of self of celibacy. Scandalous behaviour must always be analyzed, investigated and corrected."

  In concluding, the Holy Father said the "flourishing number of vocations to consecrated life, especially to female religious life, is a magnificent gift from heaven to the Church of Sao Tome and Angola."
AL/…/ANGOLA                                VIS 20041022 (520) 

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