Home - VIS Vatican - Receive VIS - Contact us - Calendar

The Vatican Information Service is a news service, founded in the Holy See Press Office, that provides information about the Magisterium and the pastoral activities of the Holy Father and the Roman Curia...[]

Last 5 news

VISnews in Twitter Go to YouTube

Thursday, January 27, 2005


VATICAN CITY, JAN 27, 2005 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Msgr. Peter Neher, president of the 'Deutscher Caritasverband' in Germany, and Jean-Pierre Richer, president of 'Secours Catholique' in France, as members of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum."
NA/.../NEHER:RICHER                            VIS 20050127 (40)


VATICAN CITY, JAN 27, 2005 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences six prelates from the Spanish Episcopal Conference on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop Julian Lopez Martin of Leon.

    - Bishop Jose Vilaplana Blasco of Santander.

    - Archbishop Antonio Canizares Llovera of Toledo.

    - Bishop Francisco Cases Andreu of Albacete.

    - Bishop Antonio Angel Algora Hernando of Ciudad Real.

    - Bishop Ramon del Hoyo Lopez of Cuenca.
AL/.../...                                        VIS 20050127 (80)


VATICAN CITY, JAN 27, 2005 (VIS) - At midday today, Holy See Press Office Director Joaquin Navarro-Valls made the following declaration concerning a communique released yesterday by the Spanish Foreign Ministry on the Holy Father's address to Spanish prelates during their "ad limina" visit on January 24, 2005.

  "We have studied the communique released by the Administrative Office for External Communications of the Foreign Ministry of Madrid. For our part, we suggest an attentive reading of the entire papal address, which clearly illustrates the position of the Church. We note with satisfaction the will of the Spanish government to maintain a fruitful understanding with the Church  by means of a permanent dialogue animated by mutual respect, as the communique itself says. This has been and always will be the policy of the Holy See."


VATICAN CITY, JAN 27, 2005 (VIS) - Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, archbishop of Paris, read a Message from Pope John Paul today at a gathering of more than 30 world leaders to mark the 60th anniversary of the liberation of prisoners from the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in Poland. The cardinal is the Pope's special envoy to these commemorative ceremonies. The Message was dated January 15.

  The Holy Father called what happened in Auschwitz "the tragic fruit of programmed hatred," and said we must remember the millions "who, through no fault of their own, bore inhuman sufferings and were annihilated in the gas chambers and crematoriums."

  He recalled his 1979 trip, as Pope,  to Auschwitz, where he "paused before memorial stones with dedications to the victims in many languages, ... stopping the longest before those written in Hebrew. I said: ... This people has its origins in Abraham, who is also our father in faith, as Paul of Tarsus said. This very people, who received from God the commandment 'Thou shall not kill', itself experienced in a special measure what it means to kill.. No one can stop in front of these memorials with indifference.

  "I repeat those words today. No one may overlook the tragedy of the Shoah. That attempt at a systematic destruction of an entire people falls like a shadow over Europe and the entire world; it is a crime that forever darkens the history of mankind. May this serve as a warning, today and for the future: there can never be a yielding to ideologies which justify trampling on human dignity on the basis of differences in race, skin color, language or religion. I appeal to everyone, and especially to those who, in the name of religion, would resort to acts of oppression and terror."

  The Holy Father said these reflections "accompanied" him at the penitential liturgy in St. Peter's during the Jubilee Year 2000 and on his pilgrimage to the Holy Land when he visited the Yad Vashem holocaust monument in Jerusalem.

  Continuing with memories of his 1979 trip to Auschwitz, John Paul II recalled the many memorials there written in Russian, noting that "the Russians had the highest number of people who so tragically lost their lives (in the war). The Roma were also destined to total extermination in Hitler's plan."

  Referring to the memorials inscribed in his native Polish, the Holy Father quoted his words from 1979, when he said that Auschwitz represented "yet another stage in the centuries-old struggle of this nation, my nation, for its fundamental rights among the peoples of Europe. Yet another loud cry for the right to have a place of its own on the map of Europe. Yet another painful reckoning with the conscience of humanity. The affirmation of this truth was a call for historical justice for this nation, which had made such great sacrifices in the cause of Europe's liberation from the infamous Nazi ideology, and which had been sold into slavery to another destructive ideology: that of Soviet communism."

  Pope John Paul said that, on that 1979 visit, and unceasingly since then, he has prayed for world peace, for respect for human dignity, for the rights of everyone "to seek the truth in freedom, and to follow the moral law."

  He underscored that, in the midst of unspeakable suffering, there were also great heroes, prisoners who "showed love not only for their fellow prisoners, but also for their tormentors. Many did so out of love for God and for man; others in the name of the highest spiritual values." He said such behavior demonstrated what the Bible often speaks of: "Even though man is capable of evil, and at times boundless evil, evil itself will never have the last word."

  In conclusion, the  Holy Father said that today's ceremonies were principally "to honor the dead, to acknowledge historical reality and above all to ensure that those terrible events will serve as a summons for the men and women of today to ever greater responsibility for our common history. Never again, in any part of the world, must others experience what was experienced by these men and women whom we have mourned for sixty years!"


VATICAN CITY, JAN 27, 2005 (VIS) - Pope John Paul's Message for Lent 2005, dated September 8, 2004, was published today in English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Portuguese and Polish. The theme, taken from Deuteronomy 30:20 is "Loving the Lord ... means life to you, and length of days." The Pope says these are "the words of Moses, inviting the people "to embrace the Covenant with Yahweh in the country of Moab 'that you and your descendants may live, loving the Lord, your God, obeying His voice, and cleaving to Him'."

  Following are excerpts from the Message:

  "It is upon this theme that I would like to ask you to reflect during this Lent, in order to deepen the awareness of the role that the elderly are called to play in society and in the Church, and thus to prepare your hearts for the loving welcome that should always be reserved for them. Thanks to the contribution of science and medicine, one sees in society today a lengthening of the human life span and a subsequent increase in the number of elderly. This demands a more specific attention to the world of so-called 'old' age, in order to help its members to live their full potential by placing them at the service of the entire community. The care of the elderly, above all when they pass through difficult moments, must be of great concern to all the faithful, especially in the ecclesial communities of Western societies, where the problem is particularly present.

  "Human life is a precious gift to be loved and defended in each of its stages. The Commandment, 'You shall not kill!', always requires respecting and promoting human life, from its beginning to its natural end. It is a command that applies even in the presence of illness and when physical weakness reduces the person's ability to be self-reliant."
  "The elderly need to be understood and helped in this perspective.  I wish, here, to express my appreciation to those who dedicate themselves to fulfilling these needs, and I also call upon other people of good will to take advantage of Lent for making their own personal contribution."

  "It is necessary to raise the awareness in public opinion that the elderly represent, in any case, a resource to be valued. For this reason, economic support and legislative initiatives, which allow them not to be excluded from social life, must be strengthened.  In truth, during the last decade, society has become more attentive to their needs, and medicine has developed palliative cures that, along with an integral approach to the sick person, are particularly beneficial for long-term patients."

    "Knowledge of the nearness of the final goal leads the elderly person to focus on that which is essential, giving importance to those things that the passing of years do not destroy.

  "Precisely because of this condition, the elderly person can carry out his or her role in society.  If it is true that man lives upon the heritage of those who preceded him, and that his future depends definitively on how the cultural values of his own people are transmitted to him, then the wisdom and experience of the elderly can illuminate his path on the way of progress toward an ever more complete form of civilisation."

  "What would happen if the People of God yielded to a certain current mentality that considers these people, our brothers and sisters, as almost useless when they are reduced in their capacities due to the difficulties of age or sickness? Instead, how different the community would be, if, beginning with the family, it tries always to remain open and welcoming towards them."
MESS/LENT 2005/...                            VIS 20050127 (600)


VATICAN CITY, JAN 27, 2005 (VIS) - This morning in the Holy See Press Office, Archbishop Paul Josef Cordes, president of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum", and Bishop Andre-Mutien Leonard of Namur, Belgium, an expert in questions relating to euthanasia, presented John Paul II's Message for Lent, whose theme is "Loving the Lord ... means life to you and length of days" (Deut 30:20).

  Archbishop Cordes affirmed that "the current relevance of the Message is clear when the Pope writes: 'Thanks to the contribution of science and medicine, one sees in society today a lengthening of the human life span and a subsequent increase in the number of elderly'." The archbishop pointed out how "the number of elderly people has increased rapidly over recent years, while at the same time the number of young people has diminished," consequently "a small percentage of young people must bear the burden of the large number of elderly."

  "It is clear that, with these new imbalances, the social cost of caring for the elderly constitutes a danger for the younger working population. This, in turn, may generate tension between the two groups or - as has already been written - a 'war of generations.' ... Also evident is the fear arising in young people, when they find themselves dependent, as a minority, on elderly people whose security, health and support they must at the same time guarantee."

  The president of "Cor Unum" indicated that "young people are becoming ever more aware that the elderly are an onus with various implications. They cost too much, they occupy living and housing space, they limit free time and amusement, they remind the young of their own future, they touch our feelings when they suffer and when they thus indicate our own future suffering. Why, then, not remove them from sight? Why not exile them behind high walls? Why not offer them an agreeable death, and so get rid of them for good?

  "There are associations that promote the 'right' - as they call it - to a 'dignified death.' The world of science offers concrete means to this end, cinema seeks to incite emotional attacks against existing laws, and politicians look to a new culture - the culture of death."

  "Politicians must not be allowed to sacrifice man's dignity to populist or economic interests," the archbishop concluded. "The dignity of man is untouchable, because it is a gift of God. Yet we must exercise our influence not only on the state and society: Even in our private life - in the family and the neighborhood - we must be guided by these words of the Pope."

  Bishop Leonard, recalling a phrase from the Pope's Lenten Message - "human life is a precious gift to be loved and defended in each of its stages" - then spoke about euthanasia, which he defined as "an explicit act or omission which, of itself or in its intention, brings death with the aim of ending the suffering of a terminally ill person."

  "Euthanasia in its true sense is not to be confused with the perfectly legal use of prescribed analgesic products that aim to suppress or alleviate pain, even though they may result in a shortening of life."

  The bishop of Namur made reference to paragraph nine of Recommendation 1418, approved by the Council of Europe in 1999, which "categorically excludes recourse to euthanasia for the terminally ill or dying, highlighting that the terminally ill or dying person's wish to die cannot of itself constitute a legal justification to carry out actions intended to bring about death."

  The bishop concluded by saying that in his Message, the Holy Father promotes a humanist approach. "Let us hope that this positive attitude, in keeping not only with the Catholic faith but also with philosophical humanism, prevails over the terrible temptation of euthanasia."
OP/LENT MESSAGE/CORDES:LEONARD                    VIS 20050127 (670)

Copyright © VIS - Vatican Information Service