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Wednesday, May 19, 2004


VATICAN CITY, MAY 19, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Bishop Moacyr Jose Vitti of Piracicaba, Brazil, as metropolitan archbishop of Curitiba (area 12,923, population 2,771,731, Catholics 2,000,000, priests 439, permanent deacons 61, religious 1,871), Brazil. The archbishop-elect was born in Piracicaba in 1940 and was ordained a priest in 1967. The Holy Father accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese presented by Archbishop Pedro Antonio Marchetti Fedalto upon having reached the age limit.
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VATICAN CITY, MAY 19, 2004 (VIS) - In multi-language greetings to the 15,000 pilgrims in St. Peter's Square for the Wednesday general audience, Pope John Paul had special words for his fellow Poles, reminding them that their presence today is linked to the 60th anniversary of the battle of Monte Cassino when Polish troops paved the way for the Allies to enter Rome.

  "This was an event that subsequent generations of Poles referred to with pride," said the Pope. "It became the symbol of the most noble values of the Polish spirit, and above all of the courage and willingness to give one's life for 'your freedom and ours'. How great must have been the love for country in the hearts of the young people who, in a foreign land shed their blood in hope of its liberation."

  John Paul II said that "after the war we had to wait a long time for this hope to be achieved. Today however we can thank God for this great grace which is the freedom of the Polish people. This is both a gift and a duty for today's generations."
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VATICAN CITY, MAY 19, 2004 (VIS) - One day after his 84th birthday, Pope John Paul presided at the weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square and spoke to the 15,000 faithful present about  Psalm 31, "Thanksgiving for the forgiveness of sins."

  The Holy Father said that in Psalm 31 we find the "personal testimony of a convert" who has committed "serious sins and does not have the courage to confess his sins to God. It is a terrible interior torment, described with strong images. ... The convert feels the weight of the hand of God on him, conscious that God is not indifferent to the evil perpetrated by man, because He is the guardian of justice and truth."

  "Unable to go on in this way, the sinner decides to confess his sins with a courageous declaration which seems to foreshadow that of the prodigal son in Jesus' parable."  God "responds right away with generous forgiveness. ... For the faithful who repent and are forgiven, despite life's trials, a new horizon of safety, faith and peace" is opened up.

  The Lord, said the Holy Father, "promises to help the converted sinner. It is not enough to be purified; we must walk on the just path. ... True justice," he added, "entails conversion, leaving vice and its dark power of attraction behind.  But above all it leads to the enjoyment of that peace which comes from being freed and forgiven."

  "We can apply this psalm," he concluded, "to the sacrament of confession. In reconciliation, one experiences the recognition of sin, often suppressed in our times, and at the same time, the joy of being forgiven.  The strict logic of 'sin-punishment' has been replaced by the joyful reality of 'sin-forgiveness' because the Lord is a God who forgives faults, offences and sin."
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VATICAN CITY, MAY 19, 2004 (VIS) - Last evening, on his 84th birthday, Pope John Paul received Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski, his wife and an entourage of fellow Poles.

  He noted that their meeting marks "the 60th anniversary of the battle of Monte Cassino. Every Pole recalls with pride that battle which, thanks to the heroism of the army commanded by General Anders, opened the path to liberation for the allies and for the defeat of the nazi invaders. At Monte Cassino's military cemetery there are tombs with Christian and Greek crosses as well as stones marked with the Star of David. Fallen heroes rest there, joined together by the ideal of fighting for 'our and your freedom', that includes not only love for one's homeland, but also concern for the political and spiritual independence of other  nations. Everyone feels the duty to oppose at all costs the physical overpowering of individuals and nations, but also attempts to annihilate their traditions, their culture and their spiritual identity."

  "I speak of this," said the Holy Father, "to remind everyone that, through the centuries, Europe's spiritual and cultural patrimony was formed and defended even at the cost of the lives of those who believe in Christ and those who in their religious belief go back to Abraham. It seems necessary to remember this in the context of the formation of the constitutional basis of the European Union, of which Poland recently became a member." He underscored that "Poland cannot forget this and must remind those who, in the name of the secular nature of democratic societies, seem to forget the contribution of Christianity in building their own identity."

  In closing remarks, Pope John Paul told the president that he has been "informed about the current political difficulties in Poland. I hope they can be overcome quickly. I am confident that this will happen in such a way that everyone, especially the poorest, the large families, the unemployed, the sick and the elderly can feel secure in their homeland. It is a difficult task."

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