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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...[]

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Friday, May 30, 2003


VATICAN CITY, MAY 30, 2003 (VIS) - Holy See Press Office Director Joaquin Navarro-Valls made the following statement this afternoon on the European Constitution:

"It has been noted with satisfaction that, with the current project of Article 51, the European Convention has included in the constitutional treaty the content of Declaration 11 annexed to the Treaty of Amsterdam and has envisioned a constant dialogue with Churches and with religious communities, recognizing their identity and specific contribution.

"In what pertains to the first project of the Preamble, the mention of the various and important components that have acted together to form the European patrimony was noted, but the absence of an explicit mention of Christianity was noted with surprise.

"As a consequence, we share the opinion of those authoritative members of the Convention who have already proposed the inclusion of this element in the successive version of the Preamble, out of respect for historical truth and for a more balanced text."



VATICAN CITY, MAY 30, 2003 (VIS) - The Pope this morning welcomed Gunkatsu Kano, Japan's new ambassador to the Holy See, as he presented his Letters of Credence, and extended his greetings to the Imperial family, government leaders and the Japanese people, mentioning in particular those who were wounded in the recent earthquake.

The Holy Father noted how attached Japan is "to serving the cause of peace. The current international situation, marked by a renewal of tensions in diverse places of the earth and by the rebirth of terrorist actions, remains worrisome. However, this conjuncture must not dampen the determination of those engaged in the search for peaceful solutions to these conflicts."

He went on to say that "efforts concerning notably the progressive, balanced and controlled elimination of weapons of mass destruction, as well as nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, must be pursued." The Pope stated that "it is up to the international community to be permanently mobilized so that, on both regional and world levels, appropriate measures be taken to prevent potential aggressions, without these measures harming the fundamental needs of the civilian populations involved, leading them on occasion to misery and despair."

John Paul II highlighted Japan's "rich religious and philosophical traditions, which contain spiritual resources capable of stimulating in an efficacious manner this ardent desire to work for peace and reconciliation among human communities and persons." He noted that "the painful vision of Hiroshima and Nagasaki" reminds us of the words of Pope Paul VI: 'Never again war!'"

He then underscored the role of Japan in economic cooperation with other countries in Asia and their active role in the "promotion of peoples." Turning to the country's interest in the environment, he pointed out that Japan will host an international exhibition in 2005 that "will allow the many nations participating to serenely debate the concrete solutions to be applied to the problems connected with, among others, the protection of the environment and caring for natural resources."

The Holy Father dedicated closing remarks to the small but active Catholic community in Japan, remarking that the Church wishes to propose to young generations, "especially through the integral education given in schools and universities, an efficacious contribution to their human, spiritual, moral and civic growth that prepares them to take an active part in the life of the nation."

He also commented on the Church's role in assisting the many immigrants who come to Japan seeking "working, dignity and hope. With all men of good will, she intends to fight against the phenomena of discrimination and exclusion which marginalize the weakest and undermine relations among men."

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 30, 2003 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Bishop Guillermo Rodriguez Melgarejo, auxiliary of Buenos Aires, Argentina, as bishop of San Martin (area 102, population 740,700, Catholics 592,560, priests 91, permanent deacons 8, religious 265), Argentina.

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 30, 2003 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

- Seven prelates from the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India on their "ad limina" visit:

- Archbishop Abraham Viruthakulangara of Nagpur, accompanied by Archbishop Emeritus Leobard D'Souza.

- Archbishop Daniel Acharuparambil, O.C.D., of Verapoly.

- Bishop Godfrey de Rozario, S.J., of Baroda.

- Bishop Thomas Ignatius Macwan of Ahmedabad.

- Bishop Edwin Colaco of Amravati.

- Bishop Mathias Kappil of Punalur.

- Archbishop Jozef Nowacki, apostolic nuncio in Slovakia.

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Wednesday, May 28, 2003


VATICAN CITY, MAY 28, 2003 (VIS) - Psalm 107, "Song of Praise to God and plea for help", was the theme of the catechesis during today's general audience which took place in St. Peter's Square and in which 18,000 people participated.

John Paul II explained that Psalm 107 is the product of the fusion of two sections of Psalms 56 and 59, "that demonstrates how Israel already in the Old Testament was acting out the Word of God that had been revealed."

"Psalm 107, the result of this combination," he said, "is therefore something more than the simple union and juxtaposition of two lines. Hope and fear unite and become the substance of a new prayer in order to plant the seed of faith in difficult times, experienced by the whole community."

The Holy Father recalled that the psalm begins with "a joyous hymn of praise." Because of "the Lord's loving fidelity, the people are sure they will never be abandoned by God in the abyss of nothingness and desperation."

In the second part of the psalm, he continued, "in the midst of the distress of Israel, which feels as if God is absent and distant, the voice of the oracle of the Lord that resounds in the temple is raised. In this revelation, God presents himself as arbiter and Lord of the whole earth. ... If the Lord reigns there is nothing to fear: we will not be shaken by the dark forces of destiny or chaos. There is also a greater plan which governs history even in dismal moments."

"This faith," he concluded, "sparks hope. ... This means that despite the trial and the silence, God will reveal Himself to us once again, to sustain and guide His people. Decisive help can come only from Him, not from external military alliances, that is, from armed force. And only with Him can freedom be obtained and 'great things' be accomplished."

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 28, 2003 (VIS) - Archbishop Paul Josef Cordes, president of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum" is being sent by the Holy Father to Iraq in order to ordinate humanitarian aid efforts by the Catholic Church in the country. He begins his trip today.

According to a communique made public today by "Cor Unum", John Paul II asked Archbishop Cordes to convey his spiritual closeness to the entire Iraqi population."

The prelate's task will be "to verify personally the needs and conditions that permit the Catholic Church to operate in territories afflicted by war. In particular, together with the Bishops and Catholic NGOs, he will have to carry out a reasonable and coordinated plan of aid which responds to the health and food emergencies in addition to those of reconstruction."

"The Church, through its capillary presence," continues the communique, "is willing to help, as in other similar situations, in the equal distribution of humanitarian aid and in fostering social and political reconstruction."

During his stay in Iraq Archbishop Cordes, who will be accompanied by experts in the sector of humanitarian aid, will meet with the apostolic nuncio, bishops, Catholic organizations and civil authorities. On Sunday June 1, he will celebrate Mass in the cathedral of Baghdad and the following day he will go to Mosul."

The document concludes: "Even though the embargo has been lifted, which opens up new possibilities of relations with the Iraqi community, this trip of the Pope's envoy takes place in a particularly delicate moment for the future of peaceful co-existence in that region."

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 28, 2003 (VIS) - Archbishop John P. Foley, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, is in the United States to speak in a series of events organized by the Catholic News Service (CNS) and to participate in the Congress of the Catholic Press Association (CPA) in Atlanta.
On Thursday May 29, the archbishop will give a brief speech during the inauguration of the Congress. On Friday May 30 he will preside at a Mass of commemoration for the deceased members of the CPA and on Saturday May 31 he will deliver the homily at a Mass in Atlanta's cathedral.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2003


VATICAN CITY, MAY 27, 2003 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

- Five prelates from the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India on their "ad limina" visit:

- Archbishop Raul Nicolau Gonsalves of Goa and Damao, accompanied by auxiliary Bishops Filipe Neri Antonio Sebastiao do Rosario Ferrao.

- Bishop Thomas Bhalerao, S.J., of Nashik.

- Bishop Thomas Dabre of Vasai.

- Archbishop Stanislaus Fernandes, S.J., of Gandhinagar.

- Angela Merkel, head of the Christian Democratic Union and the Christian-Social Union of Germany, and an entourage.

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 27, 2003 (VIS) - On the occasion of John Paul II's apostolic trip to Croatia on June 5 - 9, his 100th trip outside of Italy during which he will visit Rijeka, Dubrovnik, Osijek and Zadar, we offer some statistics on the Catholic Church in this country.

Croatia, which the Pope visited in 1994 and 1998, has a population of 4,660,000, of which 3,772,000 are Catholic, approximately 80.9% of the total population. There are currently 27 bishops, 2,260 priests, 3,520 religious and 689 seminarians in the country.

The Catholic Church in this Balkan nation runs 26 primary, middle and secondary schools, and eight superior schools and universities in which more than 4,000 students are enrolled. In addition, there are 33 homes for the elderly, disabled and handicapped, 57 orphanages and 21 family counseling and Pro-life centers and 18 centers for education and social rehabilitation.

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 27, 2003 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Bishop Miklos Beer, auxiliary of the archdiocese of Esztergom-Budapest, Hungary, as bishop of the diocese of Vac (area 8,805, population 1,067,000, Catholics 705,000, priests 224, permanent deacons 6, religious 233), Hungary.

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Monday, May 26, 2003


VATICAN CITY, MAY 24, 2003 (VIS) - Today at midday the Holy Father received participants in the plenary assembly of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples during which they are reflecting upon "Formation in mission territories."

The Pope affirmed that "thorough formation is necessary, capable of preparing competent and holy evangelizers who are up to the level of their mission. This implies a long and painstaking process in which every biblical, theological, philosophical and pastoral examination finds its strength in one's personal relationship with Christ "the Way, the Truth and the Life."

"The Church, especially in mission countries," he continued, "needs people who are prepared to serve the Gospel freely and generously, ready for this reason to promote the values of justice and peace, breaking every cultural, racial, tribal and ethnic barrier, able to read the 'signs of the times' and to discover 'seeds of the Word', without indulging in curtailment or relativism."

"For this," John Paul II continued, "these persons must be in the first place 'experts' and they must be 'in love' with God. ... Along with personal intimacy with Christ, it is necessary to foster constant growth in love and service of the Church." For this reason, he added, a priest, "in his spiritual life, is called to relive the love of Christ, Spouse of the Church which is His bride."

The Holy Father thanked those who "are dedicated to the task of education in missionary territories." He concluded by recalling the numerous "seminarians, priests, nuns, religious and lay people from missionary territories who are completing their plan of formatiion here in Rome in colleges and centers, many of whom depend on your dicastery."

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 25, 2003 (VIS) - This afternoon in the Basilica of St. Mary Major Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, president of the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei", celebrated Mass according to the St. Pius V rite. Faithful from several countries participated in the Eucharistic celebration. Prior to the Eucharistic celebration, they prayed the Glorious mysteries of the Rosary.

In the homily, Cardinal Castrillon spoke about "three figures that attract our attention as believers: Mary, the Peter of today and St. Pius V.

"We turn to her, the Mother of God, happy to be welcomed in her house in the context of this Year of the Rosary, proclaimed by the Holy Father." In this temple, "the entire life of Holy Mary is introduced into the prayerful contemplation of the believer. It is the mystery of our whole life."

Later referring to the Holy Father, he affirmed: "Our thoughts, prayer and our profound and affectionate sense of ecclesial communion are directed to our beloved Pope John Paul II. In these 25 years his life and his supreme apostolic ministry have been characterized by the tireless defense of the Truth, total dedication to the cause of unity in the Church and prophetic and brave pastoral work for the promotion of an authentic and just peace among nations and all human beings."

The president of "Ecclesia Dei" stressed that it was a "providential coincidence" to celebrate the Eucharist according to the Rite of St. Pius V in the place where "his mortal remains rest."

"The Rite of St. Pius V," he emphasized, "cannot be considered defunct and the authority of the Holy Father has shown his warm welcome to the faithful who continue to be united to the previous rite and who find in it valid spiritual nourishment on their path to sanctification, while recognizing the legitimacy of the Roman rite renewed according to the indications of the Vatican Council II. ... Therefore, the ancient Roman rite," he concluded, "preserves in the Church their right to citizenship in the variety of Catholic rites, Latin or Eastern."

In a letter addressed to Cardinal Castrillon, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, secretary of State, conveyed to the participants in the Eucharistic celebration the Pope's gratitude for their "cordial loyalty to the Successor of Peter and prayers for the 25th anniversary of his pontificate." Cardinal Sodano writes: "His Holiness is spiritually united to the devoted homage to Holy Mary, asking her to intercede before her Son Jesus so that all Christians may be leaven of sanctity and of spiritual renewal in today's world."

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 24, 2003 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed:

- Appointed Murphy Nicholas Xavier Pakiam, auxiliary of the archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur, as archbishop of the same diocese (area 63,763, population 7,944,600, Catholics 91,951, priests 52, permanent deacons 1, religious 154), Malaysia. He succeeds Archbishop Antony Soter Fernandez whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father received in accordance with Canon 401, para. 2, of the Code of Canon Law.

- Bishop Charles Maung Bo, S.D.B, of Pathein, Myanmar as metropolitan archbishop of Yangon (area 66,535, population 14,700,000, Catholics 85,000, priests 80, religious 270), Myanmar.

- Appointed Bishop Paul Grawng of Myitkyina, Myanmar as metropolitan archbishop of Mandalay (area 212,407, population 15,000,000, Catholics 22,809, priests 31, religious 174), Myanmar.
- Appointed of Bishop John Hsane Hgyi, auxiliary of diocese of Pathein, Myanmar, as bishop of the same diocese (area 25,328, population 4,745,378, Catholics 69,588, priests 59, religious 168).

- Appointed Bishop Ricardo Valenzuela Rios, auxiliary of Asuncion, Paraguay, as military ordinary bishop for Paraguay.

- Appointed the following people as members of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples: Fr. Joseph Gyetin of the archdiocese of Koupela, Burkina Faso, national director of the Pontifical Missionary Works for Burkina Faso and Niger; Fr. Jan Piotrowski of the diocese of Tarnow, Poland, national director of the Pontifical Missionary Works for Poland and Fr. Ignace Siluvai of the diocese of Tuticorin, India, national director for the Pontifical Missionary Works for India.

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 25, 2003 (VIS) - Today at noon, John Paul II appeared at his study window to recite the Regina Coeli with the faithful gathered below in St. Peter's Square.

John Paul II recalled that the month of May, which in the northern hemisphere marks the full bloom of nature, is also a "time of the paschal 'alleluia' that resounds in the entire Church, a very propitious time to offer new generations the gifts of the Risen Christ: Baptism, First Communion and Confirmation."

He then noted that during the upcoming week, the Novena of Pentecost begins with the feast of the Ascension. "Christian communities," he said, "will be able to re-live the original experience of the Cenacle where the disciples gathered ... in prayer with Jesus' Mother. The maternal presence of Mary among the Apostles was for them the memory of Christ ... she watched over the mysteries of the Annunciation, Resurrection and Ascension, throughout Jesus' public life, passion and death. In this sense, it can be said that in the Cenacle the prayer of the Rosary was born because the first Christians began to contemplate Christ's face with Mary, remembering the various moments of His earthly life."

"I would like to indicate," concluded the Holy Father, "two prayer intentions for this year which is dedicated to the Rosary: the family, whose fundamental principles and values are being seriously threatened unfortunately, and peace in the world, especially in the Holy Land. Despite the fierce violence which continues to rage, and which offends God and man, may the Lord reinforce the search for fair, negotiated solutions in order to ensure serenity and peace for all peoples."

ANG;ROSARY; FAMILY; PEACE;...;...;VIS;20030526;Word: 290;


VATICAN CITY, MAY 26, 2003 (VIS) - Today John Paul II received a delegation of the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church of Bulgaria, headed by Metropolitan Kalinik. Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and several bishops were also present.

The Pope asked members of the delegation to convey to His Beatitude Maxim, patriarch of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, his "spiritual closeness, in the hope that full unity between Catholic and Orthodox Christians is achieved as soon as possible."

"While Bulgaria opens up to change, on its way to an expanded Europe," he said, "it is necessary to revive the rich patrimony of faith and culture that the Church and the Bulgarian nation share, and which constitutes the miracle of the work of evangelization carried out by the two brother saints from Thessalonica, Cyril and Methodius, whose legacy stills exists and continues to be for the Slavs deeper and stronger than any other division, after eleven centuries of Christianity among them."

After recalling St. Cyril's words before his death, which were an appeal for unity in the Church, the Holy Father affirmed: "This message of faith, so rooted in your culture and in your Church community, is and continues to be the goal which we must reach in order that Eastern and Western Christians can fully unite and together make the 'plenitude' of the universality of the Church shine better."

John Paul II noted that the Bulgarian delegation came to Rome to commemorate the first anniversary of his apostolic trip to Sofia and "the unforgettable encounter with His Beatitude Maxim" as well as to inaugurate the liturgical use of Sts. Vincent and Anastatius Church near the Trevi Fountain in Rome.

"This experience of fraternal sharing and of reciprocal respect for our legitimate differences," he concluded, "can serve as encouragement to get to know each other better and to collaborate also in other contexts and circumstances, every time that we have the opportunity. May this be a good sign for the future of our relations! I thank the Lord and I ask him to bless our steps on the path which we are on."

AC;SYNOD BULGARIAN ORTHODOX;...;...;VIS;20030526;Word: 370;


VATICAN CITY, MAY 26, 2003 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

- Five prelates from the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India on their "ad limina" visit:

- Cardinal Ivan Dias, archbishop of Bombay, accompanied by auxiliary Bishops Bosco Penha, Percival Joseph Fernandez, Agnelo Rufino Gracias.

- Bishop Ferdinand Joseph Fonseca, former auxiliary of Bombay.

- Bishop Valerian D'Souza of Poona.

- Archbishop Juliusz Janusz, apostolic nuncio in Hungary.

On Saturday May 24, the Holy Father received in separate audiences:

- Simeon Saxe Coburg-Gotha, prime minister of the Republic of Bulgaria, and an entourage.

- Grzegorz W. Kolodko, vice prime minister and minister of Finance of the Republic of Poland.

- Hyun-seop Seo, ambassador of Korea, accompanied by his wife, on his farewell visit.

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

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Friday, May 23, 2003


VATICAN CITY, MAY 23, 2003 (VIS) - Today John Paul II received in audience a delegation from the Republic of Macedonia, headed by Prime Minister Branko Crvenkovski, that has come to Rome to visit the relics of St. Cyril, which are preserved in St. Clement Church, on the occasion of the feast of Sts. Cyril and Methodius, co-patrons of Europe.

"It is my fervent prayer," said the Pope, "that your country will be ever strengthened in its commitment to unity and solidarity, ideals which the Holy Brothers of Salonika so effectively embodied in their lives, dedicated to preaching the Christian faith". They were "bridges linking East and West. By the values they taught and the example they gave, they brought different cultures and traditions together into one rich heritage for the entire human family."

The Holy Father went on to explain that the Third Millennium needs to rediscover two values which were characteristic of Cyril and Methodius' life: charity and justice. These values become "tangible realities when people of good will in every part of the globe ... are uncompromisingly committed to the 'cause of reconciliation, friendly coexistence, human development and respect for the intrinsic dignity of every nation'."

"This annual pilgrimage to Rome is not just a tribute to St. Cyril but is also a testimony to the bonds of friendship existing between your nation and the Catholic Church. I encourage you to see that these bonds grow ever stronger, especially within your local communities, thus producing fruits ... of greater cooperation towards the Catholic Church in your country."



VATICAN CITY, MAY 23, 2003 (VIS) - This morning the Pope received pastors from the Ecclesiastical Provinces of Calcutta, Guwahati, Impahl and Shillong who just completed their "ad limina" visit.

In his speech, John Paul recalled that "for centuries Catholics in India have been carrying on the essential work of evangelization, especially in the fields of education and social services, freely offered to Christians and non-Christians alike. ... It is most disconcerting that some who wish to become Christians are required to receive the permission of local authorities, while others have lost their right to social assistance and family support. Still others have been ostracized or driven out of their villages. Unfortunately, certain fundamentalist movements are creating confusion among some Catholics and even directly challenging any attempt at evangelization. It is my hope," he continued, "that as leaders in the faith you will not be discouraged by these injustices but rather continue to engage society in such a way that these alarming trends can be reversed."

After noting that "obstacles to conversion are not always external but may occur within your own communities," he said, "This can happen when those of other religions see disagreement, scandal and disunity within our Catholic institutions. For this reason it is important that priests, religious, and lay people should all work together and especially cooperate with their Bishop, who is the sign and source of unity."

The Pope affirmed that "fundamental to sustained efforts of evangelization is the development of a local Church which is itself poised to become missionary. ... The commitment to follow Christ as a priest requires the best training possible." In this sense, he praised the bishops' initiatives to ensure that their institutes of priestly formation "reach the high standards of education and training necessary for today's clergy."

Speaking about the formation of lay people, the Holy Father underscored the necessity to prepare them to receive the sacraments, especially marriage, to form catechists and to provide "the spiritual and moral support necessary."

"India," he continued, "is fortunate to have a direct reminder of the Church's vocation to love the weakest in the witness and example of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, soon to be beatified." "Like Mother Teresa," he said to the prelates, "you too are called to be outstanding examples of simplicity, humility and charity for those entrusted to your care. ... You will use the example of Mother Teresa as a model for the works of charity in your communities."

John Paul II indicated that "in a world in which so many people have so many questions, it is only through Christ that they can hope to find sure answers. He concluded by stressing that "only an active and engaged participation in the mystery of reconciliation can bring true peace and a genuine response to the burdens which weigh on the soul. I am pleased to hear that in many of your dioceses the faithful frequently avail themselves of the grace of the sacrament of Reconciliation, and I encourage you to continue to stress the importance of this sacrament."

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 23, 2003 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience:

- Four prelates from the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India on their "ad limina" visit:

- Archbishop Dominic Jala, S.D.B., of Shillong.

- Bishop George Mamlasserry of Tura.

- Bishop Lumen Monteiro, C.S.C., of Agartala.

- Bishop Stephen Rotluanga, C.S.C., of Aizawl.

This afternoon he is scheduled to receive Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 23, 2003 (VIS) - Archbishop Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, gave a speech during an international congress that is taking place at the Pontifical Gregorian University on May 23 and 24 in Rome. Its theme is "The Church and International Order."

According to a communique made public today by the dicastery, "after having emphasized that the social doctrine of the Church bases international order on ethical and juridical values that foster co-existence and collaboration among different political communities, the archbishop underlines that the objective principle of this teaching is to bind relations among States to a concept of international justice as an essential ingredient of the common good."

Referring specifically to the current situation, the archbishop recalls that "freedom and the restoration of law have never been achieved by force or war" and he reaffirms that "the tools of law as an alternative to armed force, which already exist in international law, must be reconsidered in such a way that makes them correspond to the real needs of the international community, reinforcing above all their observance and the accuracy of their application."



VATICAN CITY, MAY 23, 2003 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

- Appointed Bishop Robert C. Morlino of Helena, U.S.A., as bishop of Madison (area 20,893, population 917,645, Catholics 266,396, priests 159, religious 351), U.S.A. He accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese presented by Bishop William H. Bullock upon having reached the age limit.

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Thursday, May 22, 2003


VATICAN CITY, MAY 22, 2003 (VIS) - This morning the Holy Father received in audience a group of representatives from the World Jewish Congress and the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations.

John Paul II affirmed that "even if today's world is often marked by violence, repression and exploitation, these realities do not represent the last word about our human destiny. God promises a New Heaven and a New Earth. We know that God will wipe away all tears, and that mourning and pain will be no more. Jews and Christians believe that our lives are a journey towards the fulfillment of God's promises."

"In light of the rich common religious heritage that we share, we can consider the present as a challenging opportunity for joint endeavors of peace and justice in our world. The defense of the dignity of every human being made in the image and likeness of God is a cause which must engage all believers. This sort of practical cooperation between Christians and Jews requires courage and vision, as well as trust that it is God who brings forth good from our efforts."

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 22, 2003 (VIS) - The following text is a telegram sent by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, secretary of State, in the Pope's name, to Archbishop Augustine Kasujja, apostolic nuncio in Algeria, for the earthquake which occurred in the country last night:

"In the face of the terrible earthquake which just struck the region of Argel, the Pope asks God Almighty to accept in His mercy all those who perished in this tragedy. He prays also for those who have been injured, as well as for the labor of the rescue team and for all the families affected by this drama, hoping that they find the consolation that they need and especially solidarity. The Holy Father offers his most sincere condolences to the Head of State, the government and to the family members of the victims, and he assures the Algerian people of his closeness in this new trial."

TGR;ALGERIA;...;SODANO; KASUJJA;VIS;20030522;Word: 160;


VATICAN CITY, MAY 22, 2003 (VIS) - Today at midday in the Clementine Hall, John Paul II received members of the Italian Movement for Life which, for 25 years "since May 22, 1978 when abortion was made legal in Italy, has never ceased to work in the defense of human life, one of the central values of the civilization of love."

"May God help you to work incessantly," he said, "so that all people, believers and non-believers, understand that the protection of human life, starting at conception, is a necessary condition to build a future worthy of man."

After recalling the words of the venerable Mother Teresa of Calcutta, "Abortion is a practice that endangers peace in the world", the Pope emphasized that "there can be no authentic peace without respect for life, especially for the innocent and defenseless, as are the unborn. Basic coherence requires that those who seek peace defend life. No action for peace can be effective if attacks on life at every stage are not opposed with the same effort."

The Holy Father recalled that the Movement for Life is presently working so that Italian Parliament approves a law that respects the rights of unborn children "even if they are conceived with artificial methods which are not morally acceptable." In this sense, he expressed the desire that "the legislative process in course conclude quickly and take into account the principle that, between the desires of adults and the rights of children, all decisions must benefit the interests of the latter."
"Do not get discouraged and do not get tired of proclaiming and bearing witness to the Gospel of life; be close to families and mothers that find themselves in difficulty." Addressing women especially, the Pope renewed his invitation to "defend the alliance between women and life and to become promoters 'of a new feminism which rejects the temptation of imitating models of male domination in order to acknowledge and affirm the true genius of women in every aspect of the life of society, and overcome all discrimination, violence and exploitation'."

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 22, 2003 (VIS) - Archbishop Javier Lozano Barragan, president of the Pontifical Council of Health Care Ministry, spoke in Geneva, Switzerland during the 66th Plenary Assembly of the World Health Organization.

In his speech, which was made public yesterday afternoon, Archbishop Lozano indicated that "in the past decade more than 2 million children have been killed in armed conflicts, 6 million have become invalids, and thousands have been mutilated by land mines; in 2002, 300,000 children were recruited as soldiers; more than 4,300,000 children died from AIDS, every day in Africa alone 7,000 children become infected by AIDS and, as a result of the disease, 14 million children became orphans. Poverty is still the principal cause of disease in children. ... Even in the richest countries, one out of every 6 children lives below poverty level. The gap between rich and poor is widening; 30% of children under age five go hungry or are mal-nourished, and 50% of the entire Sub-Saharan African population lack potable water."

The president of the council recalled also that "250 million children under age 15 work, and of these children 50 to 60 million do so in dangerous conditions. According to the World Organization of Labor, 120 million children between age 5 and 14 work full time, many of them work six days a week and some seven. They are forced to do so, and often are enclosed in places without ventilation, that are poorly lit and with armed guards who prevent them from escaping."

"Today, many children and adolescents are abandoned and left to themselves," he continued. In addition, "many families have neglected the duty to educate their children."

Archbishop Lozano affirmed that "priority must be given to maternal and pediatric health, ... especially concerning water, hygiene and health care, ... and to attention to children especially in high risk situations."

"We insist," he added, "on two urgent points in order to create an appropriate environment for the child: we must fight against poverty with proper means within the present globalized economy. ... Existing inequality among developed countries and those that are developing is absolutely unacceptable. No less important is the conduct and psychological development of children" who "must know who they are, what they want, that they can build and destroy it; and in this complexity, they need clear and firm direction."

The president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry concluded by highlighting that "the main atmosphere for self-comprehension of the child is affection and love and stable direction starting with their parents and their whole family. ... The school within the educational community that truly forms the child must be an environment that sustains the family and extends it."



VATICAN CITY, MAY 22, 2003 (VIS) - Archbishop Celestino Migliore, permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, participated yesterday in the Second Session of the U.N. Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues underway in New York.

The archbishop recalled that the United Nations is celebrating the International Decade of the World's Indigenous People and that the Holy See welcomes the decision to dedicate a session to "Indigenous Children and Youth". "The Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which the Holy See is party," he said, "is the first international human rights treaty to recognize indigenous children as a group of rights-holders, and specifically identifies indigenous people as a group which suffers from discrimination in relations to most of the rights enshrined within the document."

"The Convention reaffirms," he continued, "that an indigenous child 'shall not be denied the right, in community with other members of his or her group, to enjoy his or her own culture, to profess and practice his or her own religion, or to use his or her own language. Despite various international commitments, children remain especially vulnerable to violations of the right to education, and for indigenous children and youth this challenge is compounded by racism, xenophobia and related intolerance that continue to affect them on the basis of their own cultural specificities and uniqueness."

"The right to education concerns not only matters of access, but also of ensuring content which can empower indigenous children for their future. ... In seeking to protect the right to education of indigenous children and youth, the international community can effectively provide support for the efforts of indigenous communities to defend their heritage and identity. ... The challenge facing individuals and organizations ... is to ensure that indigenous children and youth are not robbed of their present and future."



VATICAN CITY, MAY 22, 2003 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed:

- Fr. Guy Harpigny, deacon of Mons, Belgium, as bishop of Tournai (area 3,796, population 1,284,761, Catholics 900,000, priests 593, permanent deacons 39, religious 1,212), Belgium. The bishop-elect was born in 1948 in Luttre, Belgium and was ordained a priest in 1973.

- Fr. Claude-Joseph Azema, vicar general of the archdiocese of Montpellier, France as auxiliary bishop of the same archdiocese (area 6,101, population 900,000, Catholics 670,000, priests 272, permanent deacons 19, religious 614), France. The bishop-elect was born in 1943 Vailhauques, France and was ordained a priest in 1969.

- Archbishop Luigi De Magistris, major pro-penitenciary, as member of the Pontifical Council "Ecclesia Dei".



VATICAN CITY, MAY 22, 2003 (VIS) - Today the Holy Father received in audience:

- Four prelates from the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India on their "ad limina" visit:

- Archbishop Joseph Mittathany of Imphal, accompanied by coadjutor Bishop Dominic Lumon.

- Bishop Thomas Pulloppillil of Bongaigaon.

- Bishop Jose Mukala of Kohima.

- Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, archbishop of Paris, France.

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Wednesday, May 21, 2003


VATICAN CITY, MAY 21, 2003 (VIS) - An academic symposium on the Petrine Ministry, organized by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, will take place in Rome from May 21 to 24.

According to a communique made public yesterday afternoon, this initiative responds to what the Pope wrote in the Encyclical "Ut Unum sint" about the need to "find a way of exercising the primacy which, while in no way renouncing what is essential to its mission, is nonetheless open to a new situation" and to "seek ... the forms in which this ministry may accomplish a service of love recognized by all concerned."

In the years following the publication of this encyclical different studies and contributions have been sent to the dicastery by other Churches and ecclesiastical communities in response to the desire expressed by the Holy Father.
Participating in the symposium are eight speakers (four Catholics and four Orthodox), seven Catholic specialists and eleven delegates who represent Orthodox Churches. The topics that will be discussed are: The biblical foundation of the primate; The primate of the Fathers; The role of the Bishop of Rome in ecumenical councils; recent debates on the primate in relationship to Vatican Council II; recent debates on the primate among Orthodox theologians.

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 21, 2003 (VIS) - In today's general audience which took place in St. Peter's Square, John Paul II dedicated his catechesis to Psalm 143: A king's prayer for victory and peace. Twenty-thousand people were in attendance.

The psalm, said the Pope, "has the attributes of a royal hymn ... King David speaks in the first person and recognizes the divine origin of his victories. The Lord, according to ancient custom, is presented to us with warlike images: ... stalwart fortress, a protective shield, a victor. God's personality is exalted in this way as He combats evil in history; His is not a dark power, a sort of destiny, nor is He a sovereign who is impassive and indifferent to human events."

"In the face of divine power," the Holy Father explained, "the Jewish king realizes that he is fragile and weak as all human creatures are ... Only with divine assistance can we overcome the dangers and difficulties that mark every day of our life. Only by counting on the help of heaven can we ... walk toward freedom from oppression."

"Divine intervention is depicted with traditional universal and historical images that illustrate divine reign over the universe and human events. This is a concrete, Eastern way of representing evil, perversions, oppression and injustice, tremendous realities which the Lord frees us from while we advance in the world."

Referring later to the end of the psalm, which concludes with a hymn of thanksgiving because the Lord grants victory to those who have "consecrated" themselves to Him, John Paul II recalled that this word in Hebrew is 'Messiah' and he emphasized that as Christians we repeat this hymn with "our gaze fixed on Christ who frees us from every evil and sustains us in the battle against hidden, perverse powers."

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 21, 2003 (VIS) - This afternoon the Holy Father will receive in audience four prelates from the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India on their "ad limina" visit:

- Archbishop Thomas Menamparampil, S.D.B., of Guwahati.

- Bishop Robert Kerketta, S.D.B., of Tezpur.

- Bishop John Thomas Kattrukudiyil of Diphu.

- Bishop Joseph Aind, S.D.B., of Dibrugarh.

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 21, 2003 (VIS) - On May 24, the liturgical use of the church of Sts. Vincent and Anastasius, near the Trevi Fountain in Rome, will be inaugurated, as the Pope offered last year during his apostolic trip to Bulgaria to His Beatitude Maxim, patriarch of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, for the Orthodox community in the capital.

In a communique made public today the date of May 24, the feast day of Sts. Cyril and Methodius in Bulgaria, is confirmed for the inauguration. This date was chosen because of the devotion of the Bulgarian Orthodox community in Rome to these two Slavic saints and in order to commemorate the first anniversary of the Holy Father's visit to Bulgaria in May of 2002.

The delegation of the Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, composed of nine members, will visit Rome from May 22 to 27. Their visit will coincide with the official visit to the Italian government by Simeon Saxe Coburg-Gotha, prime minister of Bulgaria. The Bulgarian prime minister is scheduled to attend the inaugural celebration on May 24 as are representatives from the diplomatic corps to the Holy See and members of the Roman Curia.

A mobile iconostasis, which permits the Eastern liturgy to be celebrated, has been installed in the Church. Construction has also been done in order to facilitate the development of catechesis activities for the Bulgarian Orthodox faithful. All of this, the communique concludes, has been possible thanks to a donation by the Holy Father and to a benefactor's contribution.


Tuesday, May 20, 2003


VATICAN CITY, MAY 20, 2003 (VIS) - This morning in the Paul VI the Holy Father received participants in the 51st general assembly of the Italian Episcopal Conference whose central theme this year is Christian initiation.

John Paul II said that the choice of this theme "is very appropriate because Christian formation and the transmission of the faith to new generations have great importance, made even more significant by the present social and cultural context in which many factors make the commitment to be authentic disciples of the Lord more difficult, while the rapid rate and degree of change increase the distance and sometimes even the inability to communicate among generations."

"In addition," he continued, "it is very important to begin the Christian education of children as soon as possible in such a way that it may be vitally incorporated in their first years: families must be conscious of this noble mission and must help to carry it out." Moreover, priests, catechists and those who give formation must speak personally with children, adolescents and young people "without hiding the grandeur of God's call and the exigent commitment of one's response."

The Holy Father then referred to other themes that will be discussed at the assembly such as "school system reform in Italy and new perspectives that are opening up for the teaching of the Catholic religion." Later, he urged "religion teachers and Catholic schools, who continue to hope that their role and educational contribution be properly recognized, to participate fully in the educational and formative function of schools in a context of effective equality."

The Pope expressed his "special closeness" to all the people and families who are unemployed. In addition to improvements, he concluded, "there are still places, especially in certain southern regions, in which young people, women and sometimes even fathers of families are without work, which causes grave damage to them as well as to the country. Italy needs more faith and initiatives in order to offer better prospectives and more encouragement to everyone."



VATICAN CITY, MAY 20, 2003 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience four prelates from the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India on their "ad limina" visit:

- Bishop Stephen Lepcha of Darjeeling.

- Bishop Salvadore Lobo of Baruipur.

- Bishop Joseph Suren Gomes, S.D.B., of Krishnagar.

- Bishop Alphonsus Flavian D'Souza, S.J., of Raigang.

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 20, 2003 (VIS) - The Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff made public today the following calendar of the celebrations that will be presided by the Holy Father in June:

- Thursday 5 - Monday 9: Apostolic trip to Croatia.

- Thursday 19, Solemnity of Corpus Christi: At 7 p.m. in the Basilica of St. John Lateran, Mass; Procession to St. Mary Major; Eucharistic Benediction.
- Sunday 22: Twelfth Sunday in ordinary time. Apostolic Trip to Bosnia-Herzegovina.

- Saturday 28: In the Vatican Basilica at 6 p.m., Vespers for the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles. Promulgation of the post-syndol exhortation "Ecclesia in Europa."

- Sunday 29, Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles. At 6 p.m. in St. Peter's Square, Mass and imposition of the palliums.

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 20, 2003 (VIS) - In recent weeks, the following prelates died:

- Bishop Carlo Aliprandi, emeritus of Cuneo, Italy on May 8 at age 78.

- Bishop Jozef Ferranec, emeritus of Banska Bystrica, Slovakia on May 3 at age 93.

- Arzobispo Louis Ferrand, emeritus of Tours, France on May 9 at age 97.

- Bishop Francis Paul McHugh, S.F.M., former prelate of Itacoatiara, Brazil, on May 6 at age 78.

- Bishop Giovanni Pisanu, emeritus of Ozieri, Italy on July 1, 2000, at age 79.

- Archbishop Adolfo Rodriguez Herrera, emeritus of Camaguey, Cuba on May 9 at age 79.

- Bishop Jose Calasanz Rosenhammer, O.F.M., former apostolic vicar of Chiquitos, Bolivia on April 26 at age 103.

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Monday, May 19, 2003


VATICAN CITY, MAY 17, 2003 (VIS) - Following is the text of a telegram sent by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, secretary of state, in the Holy Father's name, to Archbishop Domenico De Luca, apostolic nuncio in Morocco, for the victims of a terrorist attack yesterday in Casablanca:

"Having learned with emotion of the attacks last night in Casablanca, the Holy Father prays for the numerous victims and for their families in this trial. Denouncing once again the blind violence that strikes innocents, he asks the Almighty to enlighten consciences and to aid men in their efforts for peace. On this sorrowful occasion the Pope assures the people and the leaders of Morocco of his deepest sympathy."



VATICAN CITY, MAY 17, 2003 (VIS) - During a solemn academic ceremony which took place this morning in the Paul VI Hall on the occasion of the 700th anniversary of the founding of Rome's La Sapienza University, Giuseppe D'Ascenzo, rector of the university, conferred a doctorate "honoris causa" in Jurisprudence upon the Pope. Among those in attendance were Silvio Berlusconi, president of the Council of Ministries, various ministers, academic authorities and thousands of students. The inter-university chorus of Rome, joined by 21 other choruses from different Italian cities, performed several pieces.

The Council of the Faculty of Law agreed to confer the doctorate "honoris causa" on John Paul II because "the work carried out by the Pontiff throughout his entire pontificate is universally recognized through his affirmation of the law and his defense of human rights in all of their historical forms regarding the person and his individual rights as well as relations among peoples and international law."

At the beginning of today's ceremony, the rector spoke briefly, followed by Carlo Angelici, dean of the Faculty of Law, and Pietro Rescigno, professor of Civil Law.

The Pope then recited the 'lectio magistralis' which focused on the defense and the "broad space" that he has dedicated since the beginning of his pastoral ministry "to the affirmation of human rights, due to the close connection that they have with two fundamental points of Christian morality: the dignity of the person and peace." ... In this regard, the Pope said: "Being conscious of this, I have tried to serve these values with all my strength. But I could not carry out this mission with turning to the law."

"The principle that has guided me is that the human person, exactly as he was created by God, is the foundation and purpose of social life which the law must serve. ... Departing from this conviction, the Church has developed its doctrine on 'human rights' that derive neither from the State nor from any other human authority, but from the person. Therefore, public powers must 'recognize, respect, compose, protect and promote' them; they are 'universal, inviolable and inalienable' rights'."

The Pope emphasized that the Catholic Church "proclaims that in the transcendental dimension of the person there lies the font of one's dignity and one's inviolable rights. ... The Church is convinced that recognizing this anthropological and ethical foundation of human rights is the most valid protection against their violation or abuse."

"During my service as Successor of Peter," he continued, "I have felt the duty to insist with force on some of these rights that, theoretically affirmed, are often misunderstood in the law and in specific behavior. For this reason, I have returned many times to the first and most basic human right which is the right to life. ... In particular, I have insisted that the embryo is a human individual and as such, is entitled to the inviolable rights of the human being. The juridic norm, therefore, is called to define the juridic statute of the embryo."

John Paul II then made reference to another fundamental right, that of religious freedom, which he said "is not simply one among many human rights, but the most fundamental, because the dignity of the human person has its first source it its essential relationship with God."

"Asking that they are expressed in obligatory juridical norms, he continued, "I have also tried to bring light to many other rights such as the right to not be discriminated against", the right to private property, freedom of association, expression and information, the right to housing, "which is closely related to the right to have a family and to have an adequately paid job"; minority rights "to exist, preserve and develop one's own culture; the right to work and workers' rights."

"Finally, I have taken particular care in proclaiming and defending 'openly and strongly the rights of the family from intolerable usurpations of society and the State." Through the family, "the future of the world and the Church is passed on."

As he was concluding, the Holy Father urged that "in this new century which opened a new millennium there may be an ever-more conscious respect for human rights, the rights of every man, and of the entire human person."

Today's doctorate is the tenth doctorate "honoris causa" that the Holy Father has received. He received the first one a year before being elected Pope from the Johannes Gutemberg University in Maguncia, Germany and the last one in 2001 from Cardinal Wyszynski University in Warsaw, Poland.

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 18, 2003 (VIS) - Today in St. Peter's Square, John Paul II celebrated Mass in the presence of 50,000 people during which he canonized the Polish Blesseds Jozef Sebastian Pelczar and Urszula Ledochowska and the Italian Blesseds Maria De Mattias and Virginia Centurione Bracelli. Half of the pilgrims present came from Poland for the canonization.

At the beginning of the Mass, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, dean of the College of Cardinals, wished the Holy Father for his 83rd birthday. "I would like to express from the bottom of my heart," he said, "our gratitude for all that you do and to assure you of our prayers and to ask that God's benevolence accompany you every day and be a light on your way."

In his homily, speaking about the new saints, the Pope said that St. Jozef, bishop and founder of the Congregation of the Servants of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, "expressed his own faith in the universal call to holiness. ... The motto of his life was 'Everything for the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus through the immaculate hands of the Virgin Mary. ... He intended his gift to Christ above all as a response to His love, contained and revealed in the sacrament of the Eucharist."

Speaking about St. Urszula, virgin and foundress of the Ursuline Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Agony, the Holy Father recalled that "in her times she was an apostle of the new evangelization, and with her life and her activity she gave proof of a constant authenticity, creativity and effectiveness of the love of the Gospel. ... From her we can all learn how, with Christ, to construct a more human world, a world in which values such as justice, freedom, solidarity and peace are practiced more and more."

The Pope then spoke about St. Maria De Mattias, virgin and foundress of the Congregation of the Sisters, Adorers of the Blood of Christ: "She was overcome interiorly by the mystery of the Cross. ... Love for Jesus crucified turned into passion for souls and humble abandonment to her brothers and sisters, to her 'beloved neighbor', as she liked to say."

St. Virginia, lay person and foundress of the Sisters of Our Lady of Refuge on Calvary and the Religious Daughters of Our Lady on Calvary, "dedicated herself to helping the needy with extraordinary apostolic zeal, putting aside her noble origins. The efficacy of her apostolate derived from an unconditional adherence to the divine will which she nourished with incessant contemplation and obedient attention to the Lord's Word."

Upon concluding the ceremony and before praying the Regina Coeli, the Holy Father expressed his gratitude for the birthday wishes he received from all over the world. "I ask everyone," he said, "to continue to pray that God helps me to faithfully fulfill the mission He has entrusted to me." Addressing his fellow countrymen at the end, he thanked Aleksander Kwasniewski, president of the Republic of Poland, and the civil and religious authorities for their participation in this canonization.

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 17, 2003 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

- Appointed Fr. Corepiscopo Louis Awad, pastor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, as apostolic exarch for the Syro-Catholic faithful resident in Venezuela. The bishop-elect was born in Zaidal, Syria in 1934 and was ordained a priest in 1957.

- Elevated the apostolic administration of Astana, Kazakhstan to archdiocese with the name "Archdiocese of the Mary Most Holy in Astana" (area 576,400, population 3,985,000, Catholics 90,000, priests 31, permanent deacons 2, religious 59).

- Appointed Bishop Tomasz Peta, apostolic administrator of Astana, Kazakhstan, as first archbishop of Astana, Kazakhstan.

- Elevated the apostolic administration of Almaty, Kazakhstan to diocese with the name "Diocese of the Most Holy Trinity in Almaty" (area 711,600, population 6,267,000, Catholics 59,000, priests 15, religious 13).

- Appointed Bishop Henry Theophilus Howaniec, O.F.M., apostolic administrator of Almaty as first bishop of Almaty, Kazakhstan.

- Established the dioceses of the Most Holy Trinity in Almaty and Karaganda and the apostolic administration of Atyrau, Kazakhstan as suffragens of the archdiocese of Mary Most Holy in Astana, Kazakhstan.

- Conferred the title of archbishop "ad personam" on Bishop Jan Pawel Lenga, M.I.C., of Karaganda, Kazakhstan.

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 19, 2003 (VIS) - The following communique was released this morning by the "Ecclesia Dei" Pontifical Commission concerning the celebration of Mass on May 24 in St. Mary Major Basilica:

"Many faithful from diverse countries, who take advantage of the 'Ecclesia Dei' indult for the celebration of Mass according to the so-called St. Pius V rite, wish to honor the Holy Father on the approaching 25th anniversary of his election as Supreme Pontiff, and within the context of the Year of the Rosary.

"These faithful wish to express an act of devotion to His Holiness on Saturday, May 24, in the Liberian Basilica of St. Mary Major by reciting the Rosary and by celebrating Mass according to the ancient liturgical rite to which they feel strong bonds.

"They also wish to thank the Holy Father John Paul II for the Motu proprio 'Ecclesia Dei' (July 2, 1988) in which, among otherthings, he affirmed that "respect must be shown for the feelings of all those who are attached to the Latin liturgical tradition, by a wide and generous application of the directives already issued some time ago by the Apostolic See for the use of the Roman Missal according to the typical edition of 1962'.

"The program for May 24 has scheduled the recitation of the Rosary at 3:30 p.m. after which Mass will be celebrated, in the above-mentioned rite, by Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, president of the Pontifical Commission 'Ecclesia Dei'.

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 19, 2003 (VIS) - Msgr. Piero Monni, Holy See permanent observer to the World Tourism Organization, will attend the 40th meeting of the Commission for Europe and a seminar on the theme "European Integration in the Era of the European Union's Expansion and the Development of Tourism" in Malta from May 21 to 23. He will address the seminar on Thursday, May 22.

In addition to the main theme, participants will prepare the agenda for their next plenary assembly, scheduled to take place in Beijing in October. They will take an in-depth look at the nature and effects of the expansion of the European Union, as well as the role that new countries will be expected to play in the new Union.

According to a press release from Msgr. Monni's office, he will speak on the socio-economic development of the tourism industry as well as the priority that must be given to the cultural, social and religious aspects of tourism, and the values that must inspire and constitute the project of "a Common European House."



VATICAN CITY, MAY 19, 2003 (VIS) - This morning the Pope received pilgrims who participated in the canonizations of the Polish Blesseds Jozef Sebastian Pelczar and Urszula Ledochowska and Italian Blesseds Maria De Mattias and Virginia Centurione Bracelli which took place yesterday.

Addressing the spiritual daughters and devotees of St. Maria De Mattias, foundress of the Congregation of the Sisters, Adorers of the Blood of Christ in the Paul VI Hall, the Pope said that "during her life she spread the Christian commandment of love, reconciling separations and healing difficult situations and the contradictions of society in her day. It is easy to confirm the reality of her message."

The Holy Father asked the Sisters of Our Lady of Refuge on Calvary, who also participated in the audience, to follow the example of their foundress, Virginia Centurione Bracelli in order "to live today the Gospel, precept of love, as complete adherence to the divine will and as concrete service to one's neighbor, especially those most in need."

The Pope then proceeded to St. Peter's Square where thousands of Polish pilgrims, who had participated in a Mass celebrated there this morning, were waiting for him. In his speech in Polish, John Paul II spoke about the unforgettable encounters with his fellow countrymen since the beginning of his pontificate and emphasized that St. Jozef Sebastian Pelczar, bishop and founder of the Congregation of the Servants of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and St. Urszula Ledochowska, foundress of the Ursuline Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Agony, were "witnesses of mercy."

Speaking about the process of European integration, the Holy Father recalled what he said in 1997 in Gniezno, Poland: "There will be no unity in Europe unless it is based on the unity of the spirit. ... European history, in fact, is a great river in which many currents flow, and the variety of traditions and cultures that form it are its great wealth."

After recalling that Poland and other former Eastern block countries are entering the European Union, he said: "I know that there are many in opposition to integration. I appreciate their concern about maintaining the cultural and religious identity of our nation. However, I must emphasize that Poland has always been an important part of Europe. ... Europe needs Poland. ... Poland needs Europe."

After delivering his speech, the Pope added: "Yesterday I turned 83, entering into my 84th year of life. I know that the day is getting close in which I will have to present myself before God in order to account for my life, from the years in Wadowice to Krakow, and then Rome. I put myself in the hands of Divine Mercy and the Mother of God."

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 19, 2003 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience Aleksander Kwasniewski, president of the Republic of Poland, accompanied by his wife and an entourage.

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Friday, May 16, 2003


VATICAN CITY, MAY 16, 2003 (VIS) - Cardinal Angelo Sodano, secretary of State, left today for a four-day visit to Kazakhstan following an invitation by Nursultan Nazarbayev, president of the Republic, and other officials. The purpose of the trip is to commemorate the apostolic pilgrimage that the Holy Father made to Astana, the country's capital, in 2001.

Tomorrow, Saturday May 17, the cardinal secretary of State will make an official visit to the president, celebrate Mass in the Cathedral of Astana and will meet with priests, religious and other members of the capital's Catholic community. In addition, he is scheduled to visit an Orthodox church and a mosque.

On Sunday May 18 in the city of Karaganda, Cardinal Sodano will preside at a solemn Eucharistic celebration. He will also bless the first stone of the new Cathedral and will visit a seminary dedicated to "Mary Queen of the Church."

The cardinal secretary of State is scheduled to celebrate Mass in Karaganda on Monday May 19 and to meet with priests and religious who work in the diocese. Before his departure for Rome, he will visit a Greek Catholic Church and a monastery of Discalced Carmelites.

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 16, 2003 (VIS) - Pope John Paul this morning welcomed 150 participants in the general assembly of the Superior Council of National Directors of the Pontifical Missionary Works, including Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, the congregation to which the Missionary Works are entrusted.

In his talk to the directors, the Pope highlighted their mission of "showing the Pope's concern for all Churches" and of "promoting and sustaining missionary ardor in all the People of God," with special efforts to help the Churches most in need. He added that "one of the principal scopes of the Missionary Works is to kindle vocations 'ad gentes' and to life, in both the ancient Churches as well as the young ones."

The four Missionary Works are: the Pontifical Work of the Propagation of the Faith, the Pontifical Work of St. Peter the Apostle for the Indigenous Clergy, the Pontifical Work of the Holy Childhood and the Pontifical Missionary Union, known as PUM, its Italian acronym. In 1922 Pope Pius XI published the Motu proprio "Romanorum Pontificum" with which he bestowed the title of "pontifical" on these works.

John Paul II pointed out that this year marks the 160th anniversary of the Pontifical Work of the Holy Childhood, saying he wished "to underscore the great commitment of energizing and sensitizing that this Work does, 'from childhood on', to promote the missionary cause. The message I wrote on the solemnity of the Epiphany to the members of the Work expresses all my appreciation to these 'missionary boys and girls'. It will therefore be a joy for me to receive very soon a numerous and vivacious delegation of children from throughout the world who will come to Rome to celebrate this significant anniversary of their praiseworthy Work." The Pope's meeting with the Work of the Holy Childhood is scheduled for June 14.

Noting that May is the month of Mary and of the Rosary, he spoke of the "highly evocative missionary rosary," where each decade is a different color, calling to mind a different continent: "white for old Europe, that it may be capable of reappropriating the evangelizing strength which generated so many Churches; yellow for Asia, exploding with life and youth; green for Africa, tried by suffering, ... red for America, a greenhouse of new missionary strength and the blue decade for the continent of Oceania, which awaits a capillary spreading of the Gospel."

The Pontifical Work of the Propagation of the Faith is the oldest of these Works. It was founded in 1822 by a lay woman, the Venerable Marie-Pauline Jaricot to, as John Paul II mentioned in a 1998 talk, "foster a renewed missionary ardor in the Christian community." Subsidies given in recent years to mission lands have been used to build churches and chapels, convents, rectories, parish and multi-use centers and centers for catechesis and to train catechists.
The Pontifical Work of St. Peter the Apostle for the Indigenous Clergy was founded by Jeanne and Stephanie Bigard, mother and daughter who, as the Pope has said, with their "feminine genius" and "spiritual intuition" founded this work, "placing it at the service of the universal ministry of Peter." Monies are allocated by this pontifical work to build seminaries, to enlarge existing ones and to help in the education and training of seminarians.

The Pontifical Work of the Holy Childhood, founded in 1843, "supports the rights of children to grow in their dignity as men and women." One of its main activities is the creation of schools of missionary animation which offer professional training for two years in missiology, spirituality and methodology.

The Pontifical Missionary Union was created in 1916 to promote awareness of missionary activity among clergy, religious, candidates to the priesthood and religious life and others involved in the Church's pastoral ministry. PUM has offices in various parts of the world to help spread this awareness which it does in a number of ways, including the publication of a magazine in diverse languages and a correspondence course in missiology that was established in the 1980s.



VATICAN CITY, MAY 16, 2003 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

- Four prelates from the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India on their "ad limina" visit:

- Archbishop Lucas Sirkar, S.D.B., of Calcutta.

- Bishop James Anthony Toppo of Jalpaiguri.

- Bishop Cyprian Monis of Asansol.

- Bishop Thomas D'Souza of Bagdogra.

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

Yesterday afternoon, the Holy Father received Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 16, 2003 (VISSS) - The entire staff of the Vatican Information Service wishes to extend its prayerful best wishes to Pope John Paul for a very happy 83rd birthday on Sunday, May 18. Ad multos annos, Holy Father!

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Thursday, May 15, 2003


VATICAN CITY, MAY 15, 2003 (VIS) - Archbishop John P. Foley will participate in a conference this afternoon at the Second International Congress on the Church and the Media which takes place from May 15 to 17 at St. Anthony Catholic University of Murcia, Spain.

The president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications will offer some reflections and suggestions inspired by documents published by his dicastery on ethics in the media.

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 15, 2003 (VIS) - Today at noon John Paul II received Archbishop Justo Mullor Garcia, president of the Pontifical Ecclesiastic Academy, who was accompanied by student priests who are preparing to enter the diplomatic service of the Holy See.

"In order to carry out faithfully the tasks that will be entrusted to you in the future," the Pope said to the students, "it is essential that, starting in these years of formation, your objective be to achieve sanctity. ... Make a daily effort to aspire to Gospel perfection, nourishing an uninterrupted loving relationship with God in prayer, by listening to the Word and, especially, by participating with devotion in the Eucharistic sacrifice. This is where the secret of the efficacy of all ministry and service to the Church lies."

The Holy Father emphasized that community life in the Academy opens up to them "the universal dimension of the Church, offering the opportunity to better understand the complex human realities of our day. This will be of great help when you carry out your activity among populations with different customs, cultures, languages and religious traditions. Your service will be that much more effective the more you commit yourselves, with an authentically priestly soul, to promoting the growth of local Churches, connecting them with the See of Peter, and for the good of peoples."



VATICAN CITY, MAY 15, 2003 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican's Clementine Hall, Pope John Paul welcomed 12 new ambassadors to the Holy See and, in his address to them in French, highlighted some of the Church's concerns as she seeks "to be involved in international life, in relations between people and in humanitarian concerns, which are the expression of her primordial mission: expressing God's closeness to each and every person."

The ambassadors who presented their Letters of Credence are: Joseph Herron of Australia; Kelebert Nkomani from Zimbabwe; Siba Nasser of Syria; Leari Edgar Rousseau from Trinidad and Tobago; Negash Kebret of Ethiopia; Alberts Sarkanis of Latvia; Emitai Lausiki Boladuadua from the Fiji Islands; Terence Nsanze of Burundi; Alexander Chikvaidze from Georgia; Michel Rittie of Vanuatu; Mihail Laur from Moldova and Fauzia Abbas of Pakistan.

The Pope spoke to the diplomats collectively, although he consigned to each of them a speech tailored to their country's special concerns, and he accepted a written copy of each ambassador's talk to him.

"Our world is living through a difficult moment, marked by many conflicts, of which you are attentive observers," began the Holy Father. "This disturbs many people and I ask the leaders of nations to commit themselves ever more in favor of peace. In this perspective, it is important for diplomacy to rediscover its noble purpose. In fact, attention to persons and peoples, as well as concern for dialogue, fraternity and solidarity, are at the foundation of diplomatic activity and of the institutions charged with promoting, above all, peace, which is one of the most precious goods for individuals, peoples and for States themselves, whose lasting development can only rest on security and harmony."

Highlighting the 40th anniversary of Blessed John XXIII's "Pacem in terris," the Pope noted that his predecessor was also a diplomat, in service to the Holy See. Blessed John invited leaders to build society "on 'four pillars': truth, justice, love and liberty. Peace cannot be realized by disdaining persons and peoples; it is built when everyone becomes partners and protagonists of the building of a national society."

The Pope noted that the international community now has organisms and legislation aimed at avoiding wars, the death of innocents and devastation. He added that "the United Nations are called to be more than ever the central place for decisions concerning the rebuilding of countries, and humanitarian organizations are invited to become involved in a renewed fashion." People can thus take charge of their destinies, he said and "go from fear to hope, from disorder to the commitment to build their own future."

"Lastly," said Pope John Paul, "I call on all persons who profess a religion, that the spiritual and religious may be a source of unity and peace, and that they never cause men to pit themselves one against the other."

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 15, 2003 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Fr. Fabio Bernardo D'Onorio, abbot of the territorial abbey of Montecassino, Italy, as a consultant of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of Sacraments.

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 15, 2003 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz, foreign minister of the Republic of Poland, and an entourage.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2003


VATICAN CITY, MAY 14, 2003 (VIS) - The following telegram, published yesterday afternoon, was sent by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, secretary of state, in the name of the Holy Father, to Bishop Leonard Dhejju of Bunia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, upon the killing of two priests in that country:

"Very upset by the dramatic events that caused the deaths of Fathers Francois Xavier Cateso and Aime Ndjabu of the parish of Nyakasanza, the Holy Father entrusts the deceased, as well as all persons who have been killed in the same circumstances, to the infinite mercy of the God of love and peace. He wishes to express his great sympathy to you and he asks you to assure the families of the victims, as well as the Christians of the parish in Nyakasanza, of his prayers. The Pope invites everyone to commit themselves each day to following Christ by refusing violence, which is a path without a future, and to build a lasting peace founded on justice and respect for persons. As a sign of his comfort, His Holiness imparts his apostolic blessing to all persons touched by this mourning."



VATICAN CITY, MAY 14, 2003 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

- Erected the new diocese of Velez (area 4,957.60, population 190,000, Catholics 171,000, priests 39, religious 51), Colombia, with territory taken from the diocese of Socorro y San Gil, making it a suffragan of the metropolitan Church of Bucaramanga.

- Appointed Fr. Luis Albeiro Cortes Rendon, rector of the Major Seminary of Pereira, Colombia, as the first bishop of Velez, Colombia. The bishop-elect was born in 1952 in Quimbaya, Colombia and was ordained a priest in 1978.

- Appointed Bishop Decio Zandonade, S.D.B., auxiliary of Belo Horizonte, Brazil, as bishop of Colatina (area 12,362, population 483,938, Catholics 387,312, priests 30, religious 76), Brazil.

- Appointed Fr. Daniel Bohan, episcopal vicar for the English-speaking faithful of the archdiocese of Moncton, Canada, as auxiliary bishop of Toronto (area 13,000, population 4,147,680, Catholics 1,420,395, priests 862, permanent deacons 129, religious 1,340), Canada. The bishop-elect was born in 1941 in Yarmouth, Canada and was ordained a priest in 1967.

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 14, 2003 (VIS) - Continuing with his catechesis on the psalms, in today's general audience, celebrated in St. Peter's Square, the Pope spoke about the Canticle of the Book of Daniel, "The Prayer of Azariah in the Furnace."

The canticle, said John Paul II before 25,000 persons, "is a prayer raised to the Lord with fervor and sincerity. It's the voice of Israel that is experiencing the hard trial of exile and diaspora among its peoples." Azariah, he continued, is condemned to death, along with two other faithful Jews, for not having renounced his faith.

"In this canticle, persecution is considered a just punishment with which God purifies sinful people. ... God is faithful and will fulfill His promises. Although justice requires Israel to be punished for its sins, there is certainty that the last word will be one of mercy and pardon."

The Holy Father went on to say that "the supplicant approaches the Lord, offering him the most precious and welcome sacrifice: 'a contrite heart' and a 'humble spirit'. It is precisely the center of our existence, the soul renewed by the sacrifice offered to the Lord so that He accepts it as a sign of conversion and consecration to good. With this interior disposition, there is no longer any fear, confusion and shame disappear and the spirit opens up to faith in a better future when the promises made to the fathers will be fulfilled."

"The final phrase of Azariah's prayer ... has a strong emotional impact and deep spiritual intensity: 'Now we follow you with all our heart, we fear you and we seek your face'. ... The moment has now come in which we abandon our evil and perverse ways, torturous paths and devious courses. We set out to follow the Lord moved by a desire to see His face."

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Tuesday, May 13, 2003


VATICAN CITY, MAY 13, 2003 (VIS) - This Sunday, May 18, the fifth Sunday of Easter, John Paul II will celebrate Mass in St. Peter's Square at 10 a.m. and will canonize four Blesseds.

The future saints are: Jozef Sebastian Pelczar, bishop and founder of the Congregation of the Servants of the Sacred Heart of Jesus; Urszula Ledochowska, virgin and foundress of the Ursuline Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Agony; Maria de Mattias, virgin and foundress of the Congregation of the Sisters, Adorers of the Blood of Christ; Virginia Centurione Bracelli, lay person and foundress of the Sisters of Our Lady of Refuge on Calvary and of the Religious Daughters of Our Lady on Calvary.

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 13, 2003 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received eight bishops of the Syro-Malankara Church, who are in Rome on their "ad limina" visit and, in his talk to them in English, recalled that Pope Pius XI received their forefathers into full communion just over seventy years ago.

"You have become one of the fastest growing Catholic communities in the world," the Pope noted, "boasting large numbers of vocations to the priesthood and religious life, and your 'pusillus grex' is home to many educational and welfare institutions. The new Law of Christ which compels us to go beyond the boundaries of family, race, tribe or nation is concretely manifested in your generosity to others."

He affirmed that "the people of India rightly take pride in their rich cultural and spiritual heritage, expressed in the innate characteristics of 'contemplation, simplicity, harmony, detachment, non-violence, discipline, frugal living, the thirst for learning and philosophical enquiry' which distinguish those living on the subcontinent. These same traits permeate the Syro-Malankara community, allowing the Church to 'communicate the Gospel in a way which is faithful both to her own traditions and to the Asian soul'."

"At a moment of growing secularism and, at times, of blatant disregard for the sanctity of human life," underlined the Holy Father, "bishops are called to remind the people by their preaching and teaching of the need for an ever deeper reflection on moral and social issues. The Syro-Malankara presence in the fields of education and social services places you in an excellent position to prepare all men and women of good will to face these issues in a truly human manner."

He went on to say that "responding to this challenge in a proper fashion necessitates an inculturation of Christian ethics at all levels of human society; this is a difficult and delicate task. ... Your long experience as a small community of Christians in a predominately non-Christian land has prepared you to become ... 'leaven', a fitting instrument of transformation, ... that requires an intimate change of cultural values through integration into Christianity and subsequent insertion into the various human cultures."

John Paul II then highlighted the need for well-formed and spiritually vibrant priests and religious, stating that "properly trained ambassadors of Christ are necessary for this ministry of 'building up the Church'. For this reason bishops must work unceasingly to identify and encourage young people to answer the call to the priesthood and the religious life. ... Your strong leadership will do much to encourage religious communities to persevere in their edifying example as witnesses to Christ's joy."



VATICAN CITY, MAY 13, 2003 (VIS) - The bishops of the Syro- Malabar Church of India were welcomed today by the Pope as they concluded their "ad limina" visit. In his talk to them in English the Pope noted that "the origins of your Church are directly linked with the dawn of Christianity and the missionary efforts of the Apostles," and added: "The Liturgy of the Syro-Malabar Church, for centuries a part of India's rich and varied culture, is the most vivid expression of your peoples' identity."

He underscored that "since 'the Eucharist ... is the most precious possession which the Church can have in her journey through history', I exhort you to guard and renew this treasure with great care, never allowing it to be used as a source of division. ... As the primary custodians of the liturgy, you are called at all times to be vigilant to protect against unwarranted experimentation by individual priests which violates the integrity of the liturgy itself and can also cause great harm to the faithful."

Turning to the issue of the pastoral care of Oriental Catholics in India and abroad, the Holy Father said this "continues to be of concern to the Catholic Bishops Conference of India and to the Syro-Malabar Synod. Here, I wish to emphasize the 'urgent need to overcome the fears and misunderstandings which appear at times between the Eastern Churches and the Latin Church ... especially with regard to the pastoral care of their people also outside their own territory'," he said, quoting "Ecclesia in Asia." "I am certain that you will continue to work closely with your Brother Bishops of the Latin Rite and the Holy See to ensure that Syro-Malabars throughout India and the world receive the spiritual support they deserve in strict respect for canonical dispositions which are, as we know, appropriate means for the preservation of ecclesial communion."

"Charity urges every Christian to go forth proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth," affirmed John Paul II. "Authentic evangelization is sensitive to local culture and custom, always respecting the 'inalienable right' of each and every person to religious freedom. Here the principle remains valid: 'The Church proposes, she imposes nothing'." He told the bishops that openness to their brothers and sisters of other religions "can never diminish the obligation to proclaim Jesus Christ as the way, and the truth and the life'."

The Pope said he joined the bishops "in giving thanks that your Eparchies have been blessed with so many priests and religious. ... The burden of your pastoral mission could not be fulfilled without the clergy, your co-workers in the sacred ministry. ... Your necessary reliance on your priests compels you to foster a strong bond with them. They are your sons and friends. ... Likewise, the Religious in your care are members of your family. The witness borne by so many men and women consecrated to lives of chastity, poverty and obedience stands as a true sign of contradiction in a nation which is becoming increasingly secularized."

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 13, 2003 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience five prelates of the Syro-Malankara rite from India on their "ad limina" visit:

- Bishop Geevarghese Divannasios Ottathengil of Battery.

- Bishop Yoohanon Chrysostom Kalloor of Marthandom.
- Bishop Thomas Koorilos Chakkalapadickal, eparch of Muvattapuzha.

- Bishop Geevarghese Timotheos Chundevalel, emeritus of Tiruvalla, accompanied by Msgr. Stephen Thottathil, diocesan administrator.

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 13, 2003 (VIS) - Archbishop Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, is in Cotonou, Benin where he spoke this morning at the opening of a conference entitled "Political Stability and Development: The Contribution of the Social Doctrine of the Church." His talk focussed on "The Catholic Church's Concern for Development, Justice and Peace." The three-day meeting was organized by the Adenauer Foundation and by the Institute of Artisans of Justice and Peace of Cotonou.

According to a communique published by the council, Archbishop Martino noted that "development cannot be built on conflicts, discrimination, rancor, exclusion, nor on the force of arms. It calls for agreement, solidarity, the joining of efforts, attention to one's neighbor, justice amd respect for the dignity of the person and of his rights."

He also spoke of the serious problem of the causes of the conflicts which have covered the African continent with blood, stating that one of these causes lies in the greed for the resources that are so abundant in the African soil and subsoil. "Such riches are coveted by interest groups that exploit the breadth and the permanent nature of the conflicts for dirty commerce, paying bribes to the leaders of producing countries. There is need for greater solidarity, greater justice, greater participation in the administration of these resources." Another cause, he said, is exclusion which takes the form of ethnic discrimination and racial hatred.

The archbishop also pointed to the question of international debt, saying that there is a need for the sums that have been freed up by the remission of debt to be invested in priority sectors such as health, education and other social services.



VATICAN CITY, MAY 13, 2003 (VIS) - A delegation of representatives from the episcopal conferences of Italy, Spain, France, Austria, Switzerland and the United States of America, headed by Archbishop Paul J. Cordes, president of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum," is visiting Colombia from May 12 to 19 to deliver a message from the Holy Father.

During their stay, according to a communique made public today, the delegation will meet with representatives from the Episcopal Conference of Colombia as well as with Alvaro Uribe Velez, president of the republic, Michael Fruling, the United Nations representative for human rights in Colombia and representatives of the U. N. High Commissioner for Refugees. On Saturday May 17 there will be a special Eucharistic celebration in Bojaya in memory of the victims of the massacre in the Church of Bella Vista which occurred one year ago.

"The indications of the Holy Father on the building of a civilization of love and above all cooperation among institutions of the State and Church in order to combat injustice, poverty, violence, will comprise," the communique concludes, "the two main themes that the bishops will address in the different meetings."

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 13, 2003 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed:

- Msgr. Francesco Di Muzio, of the personal prelature of Opus Dei, as bureau chief of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

- Fr. Volodymyr Viytyshyn, dean of Tlumach, bursar and judicial vicar of the eparchy of Kolomyia-Chernivtsi (area, 14,095, population 1,384,500, Catholics 240,960, priests 188, religious 2) Ukraine, as coadjutor bishop of the same ecclesial circumscription. The bishop-elect was born in Demydivka, Ukraine in 1959, studied clandestinely for the priesthood and was ordained clandestinely in 1982.

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Monday, May 12, 2003


VATICAN CITY, MAY 10, 2003 (VIS) - The Holy Father this morning welcomed Bishop Rene Sejour of Saint-Flour, France and a delegation of diocesan pilgrims who are in Rome to celebrate the millennium of the death of Pope Sylvester II, who died on May 12, 1003.

Calling Sylvester II "the Pope of the Year 1000" and "the most cultured man of his time," John Paul II underscored that "Gerbert d'Aurillac dominated his century in a singular way by his knowledge and his erudition, his moral uprightness and his spiritual sense. He was at one and the same time an intellectual and a man of action, a diplomat and a man of the Church. If today's questions are different from those he had to face, his spiritual and intellectual attitude remains a call to seek human truth, which is never opposed to the truths of faith. 'Always unite,' he used to say, 'science and faith'."

The Pope noted that Sylvester II belonged to the Benedictine Order "whose different houses contributed to fashioning Europe. Archbishop of Reims, then of Ravenna, in 999 he became the first Pope of French origin. ... In the year 1000 he created in Gniezno the first metropolitan Church in Poland, among whose suffragans was the diocese of Krakow where I was pastor."

"Gerbert contributed to the intellectual renaissance and vitality of the continent," noted the Holy Father. "His example helps us to understand that Europe can only be built if it assumes, with lucidity, its Christian roots, ... an essential dimension of its identity, having left their imprint on the cultural, artistic, juridical and philosophical production of the continent."

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 11, 2003 (VIS) - At 9 a.m. today, the fourth Sunday of Easter, the Pope celebrated Mass in the Vatican Basilica and conferred priestly ordination on 31 deacons from the diocese of Rome.

Commenting on today's Gospel in which "Jesus defines himself as the Good Shepherd who offers his life for his flock," John Paul II said: "A sublime example of loving abandonment, Jesus invites His disciples, in particular priests, to follow in His footsteps. He calls each priest to be a good shepherd of the flock which Providence entrusts to him."

"Priests," he affirmed, "are men of the Word who have the duty to spread the Gospel message to the men and women of their time. They must do so with a great sense of responsibility, committing themselves to always be in full agreement with the Magisterium of the Church. They are also men of the Eucharist through which they penetrate the heart of the paschal mystery. Especially in the Mass they realize the urgency of forming themselves with ever-more intimacy to Jesus the Good Shepherd, supreme and eternal Priest."

"Nourish yourself therefore," he went on, "with the Word of God; engage yourselves every day with Christ, truly present in the sacrament of the altar. Let yourselves be touched by the infinite love of His Heart, spend more time in Eucharistic adoration in the most important moments of your life, when making difficult personal and pastoral decisions, at the beginning and at the end of your days. I can assure you that 'I have had this experience and from it I have gained strength, consolation and support!'"

John Paul II reminded the newly-ordained priests that from now on they will be "ministers of divine mercy. Administer the sacrament of reconciliation. ... You will be witnesses of so many miracles and marvels carried out through the mercy of God in the confessional!"
"But in order to worthily carry out your mission that today has been entrusted to you, you will have to be in constant union with God in prayer, and you yourselves must have an experience of His merciful love through the regular practice of Confession, allowing yourselves to be guided by expert spiritual counsellors, especially in those moments when you encounter difficulties."

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