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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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Tuesday, September 30, 2003


VATICAN CITY, SEP 30, 2003 (VIS) - This afternoon in the Holy See Press Office, a new electronic system was presented that
offers Vatican journalists the option of receiving the Bulletin of the Holy See Press Office and the Vatican Information Service daily in real time through handheld devices. These services will be provided through TIM (the acronym for Italian Mobile Telephones) and Blackberry.

Mauro Sentinelli, general director of TIM, and Roberto Pellegrini, director of the company's business division, presented the service and demonstrated its use. Blackberry is an instrument which allows for the consultation and administration of e-mail anywhere. It is slightly larger than a mobile phone and is triband which means it can be used in the United States and Canada, without being connected to a company server.

In January of 2003, an agreement was signed between TIM and the Holy See Press Office in order to offer brief messages (SMS) on the Pope's words or the saint of the day. The accord includes this new service.

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VATICAN CITY, SEP 30, 2003 (VIS) - On Sunday, October 5, at 10 a.m. in St. Peter's Square Pope John Paul will celebrate the Eucharist during which he will canonize Blesseds Daniele Comboni, Arnold Janssen and Josef Freinademetz.

Blessed Comboni (1831-1881), bishop, founded the Congregation of Combonian Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus and the Combonian Missionary Sisters Pious Mothers of Nigrizia. Blessed Janssen (1837-1909), a priest, was the founder of the Society of the Divine Word, the Congregation of Missionary Sisters Servants of the Spirit and the Congregation of Sisters Servants of the Holy Spirit of Perpetual Adoration. Blessed Freinademetz (1852-1908) was a priest of the Society of the Divine Word.

"In proximity to World Mission Day," says a note from the Office of the Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff, "the Church gives the faithful three new Saints who dedicated their lives to proclaiming the Gospel of salvation to the four corners of the globe."

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

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

- Archbishop Leonardo Z. Legaspi, O.P., of Caceres.
- Bishop Manolo de los Santos of Virac.

- Bishop Joel Z. Baylon of Masbate.

- Bishop Filomeno G. Bactol of Naval.

- Archbishop Felix del Blanco Prieto, apostolic nuncio in Malta and in Libya.

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Monday, September 29, 2003


VATICAN CITY, SEP 27, 2003 (VIS) - Made public today was a Message from Pope John Paul to Cardinal Giovanni Cheli on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of his episcopal ordination on September 17. The Message was written in Latin and dated August 27. Cardinal Cheli will be 85 years old on October 4.

Born in Turin, Italy, he was ordained a priest in 1942 for the diocese of Asti. He has served the Church in many capacities, including being a chaplain to youth in Catholic Action. He served in the Holy See's diplomatic corps in nunciatures in Guatemala, Spain and Italy and in 1973 was appointed to the Holy See's Observer Mission at the United Nations. He became the first apostolic nuncio to the U.N. in September 1978, the year of his episcopal ordination.

The president emeritus of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, he was created a cardinal by Pope John Paul on February 21, 1998. His titular Church is Sts. Cosmas and Damian whose feast was celebrated yesterday.



VATICAN CITY, SEP 27, 2003 (VIS) - This afternoon in the Vatican Basilica the Pope presided at a Mass in memory of Popes Paul VI and John Paul I on the 25th anniversary of their deaths. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, dean of the College of Cardinals, celebrated the Mass.

Speaking about Paul VI and John Paul I who died respectively on August 6 and September 28, 1978, the Pope said: "We like to think that they have already entered into 'God's time'; on that 'eighth day' that 'the Lord made', the purpose and fulfillment of our earthly days."

Referring to "Paul VI's frequent invitation to Christian joy," the Holy Father emphasized that "despite many difficulties, it was born of the awareness of adhering constantly to the divine will. I also think about the serene smile of Pope Luciani, who in the brief period of one month conquered the world."

"In both pontificates," he continued, "the peaceful joy of the Church is reflected. Even when she is tried by so much suffering, the Church is not afraid; she does not close herself off but she trusts in the Lord. She knows how to be guided by the Holy Spirit, and therefore she rejoices at the signs of God's mercy, she admires the marvels that the Almighty performs for the little ones, the poor and those who fear Him."

While commenting on the first reading of the Mass, which presents Moses with an outlook of deep interior freedom inspired by faith in God, John Paul II said: "We can find this same attitude in Paul VI and John Paul I, as they did not give in to judgements of the moment or to visions linked to contingent interests. Firmly rooted in the Truth, they did not hesitate to dialogue with all men of good will."

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VATICAN CITY, SEP 27, 2003 (VIS) - Made public today was a Message from the Holy Father to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, on the occasion of the symposium organized by the same dicastery on the theme "The anthropology of moral theology according to the Encyclical 'Veritatis splendor'."

"Ten years since its publication," writes the Pope in the Message dated September 24, "the doctrinal value of the encyclical is more current than ever."

John Paul II says that "the teachings that 'Veritatis splendor' continues to propose to us are: begin again with Christ, contemplate His face, persevere in following Him. Beyond all the ephemeral cultural changes, there are basic realities that do not change, but find their ultimate foundation in Christ who is the same, yesterday, today and always."

"Certainly, today it seems even harder for the pastors of the Church, for scholars and teachers of Christian morality, to guide the faithful in formulating judgements according to the truth in a climate of challenging the saving truth and of widespread relativism in the face of moral law. Therefore, I urge all participants in the symposium to explore the essential link between truth, good and freedom. Such a relationship, in addition to being in the nature of the human being, has its ontological foundation in the Incarnation and is renewed and put into light in the historical-salvation event of Our Redeemer's cross."



VATICAN CITY, SEP 29, 2003 (VIS) - The theme chosen by Pope John Paul II for the 2004 World Communications Day was announced today: "The Media in the Family: A Risk and a Richness." The Pope's full Message for this day is traditionally published on the January 24 feast of St. Francis de Sales, patron of writers. In 2004, World Communications Day falls on May 23.

A note today from the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, the office that customarily communicates both the annual theme and papal Message, stated that "for the first time, the announcement of the theme was made on September 29, the feast of the Archangels Michael, Raphael and Gabriel, the last of whom has been designated the patron saint of radio."

Archbishop John Foley, council president, said in the communique that the theme chosen "reflects the Holy Father's concern that the media should enrich family life and not damage it. ... He is aware of the many periodicals and programs of excellence which help to educate and inspire families, but he is also concerned about the negative influences of the media on family life through materialism and even the depiction of pornography and violence."



VATICAN CITY, SEP 29, 2003 (VIS) - Made public today was a Message from the Pope to participants in the International Thomist Congress, organized by the Pontifical Academy of St. Thomas and the International Thomas Aquinas Society. The meeting took place in Rome last week.

After recalling the theme of the congress, "Christian Humanism in the Third Millennium," the Holy Father writes that "the humanism of St. Thomas revolves around this essential intuition: Man comes from God and to Him he must return. Time is the sphere within which he will carry out this noble mission of his, taking advantage of the opportunities that are offered to him on the level of nature and grace."

In the face of dangers such as "the loss of faith in reason and in its capacity to find the truth, nihilism, relativism, the rejection of transcendence. ... I have indicated how St. Thomas' thought, with its strong faith in reason and the clear explanation of the articulation of nature and grace, can offer us the basic elements for a valid response. Christian humanism, as illustrated by St. Thomas, has the capability of preserving the meaning of man and his dignity. This is the exalting task entrusted to his disciples!"

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VATICAN CITY, SEP 28, 2003 (VIS) - Today, the 45th anniversary of his episcopal ordination, Pope John Paul II, in the ninth such consistory of his papacy, named 31 new cardinals, one of whom is "in pectore" or "in the breast." The College of Cardinals will now have 194 members (not including the "in pectore"), of whom 135 are cardinal electors, exceeding by 15 the maximum number of electors established by Pope Paul VI.

The consistory to create the cardinals will be held October 21, less than the traditional month that passes between a Pope making an announcement and creating new cardinals.

Following is the Holy Father's announcement made today just prior to reciting the Angelus with the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.

"The month of October, the month of the Holy Rosary, is approaching. I entrust to Our Lady in a special way the consistory that I intend to hold on October 21, on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of my pontificate. Putting aside once again the established numerical limit, I will create new cardinals.

"Among them are some of my collaborators in the Roman Curia:

Archbishop Jean-Louis Tauran: Secretary for Relations with States.

Archbishop Renato Raffaele Martino: President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

Archbishop Francesco Marchisano: Archpriest of the Vatican Basilica.

Archbishop Julian Herranz: President of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts.

Archbishop Javier Lozano Barragan: President of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers.

Archbishop Stephen Fumio Hamao: President of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People.

Archbishop Attilio Nicora: President of APSA (Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See.

"Then there are 19 pastors of as many local Churches. They are:

Archbishop Angelo Scola, patriarch of Venice, Italy.

Archbishop Anthony Olubunmi Okogie of Lagos, Nigeria.

Archbishop Bernard Panafieu of Marseille, France.

Archbishop Gabriel Zubeir Wako of Khartoum, Sudan.

Archbishop Carlos Amigo Vallejo, O.F.M., of Seville, Spain.

Archbishop Justin Francis Rigali of Philadelphia, U.S.A.

Archbishop Keith Michael Patrick O'Brien of Saint Andrews and Edinburgh, Scotland.

Archbishop Eusebio Oscar Scheid, S.C.I., of Sao Sebastiao do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Archbishop Ennio Antonelli of Florence, Italy.

Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone, S.D.B., of Genoa, Italy.

Archbishop Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson of Cape Coast, Ghana.

Archbishop Telesphore Placidus Toppo of Ranchi, India.

Archbishop George Pell of Sydney, Australia.

Archbishop Josip Bozanic of Zagreb, Croatia.
Archbishop Jean-Baptiste Pham Minh Man of Hochiminhville, Vietnam.

Archbishop Rodolfo Quezada Toruno of Guatemala, Guatemala.

Archbishop Philippe Barbarin of Lyon, France.

Archbishop Peter Erdo of Esztergom-Budapest, Hungary.

Archbishop Marc Ouellet, P.S.S., of Quebec, Canada.

"Among the new cardinals, there are also four priests who are particularly worthy for their commitment to the service of the Church. They are:

Fr. Georges Marie Martin Cottier, O.P., theologian of the Pontifical Household, from Switzerland.

Msgr. Gustaaf Joos of the diocese of Ghent, Belgium.

Fr. Tomas Spidlik, S.J., of the Czech Republic.

Fr. Stanislas Nagy of the Priests of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, (Dehonians), Poland.

"Finally I communicate to you that I have appointed another worthy prelate as cardinal, reserving his name "in pectore."

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VATICAN CITY, SEP 29, 2003 (VIS) - Today the Holy Father received in separate audiences:

- Archbishop Pedro R. Dean of Palo, the Philippines on his "ad limina" visit.

- Bishop Benjamin J. Almoneda of Daet, the Philippines on his "ad limina" visit.

On Saturday September 27 the Holy Father received in separate audiences:

- Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, president of the Philippines, accompanied by her husband and an entourage.

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

- Bishop Angelito R. Lampon, O.M.I., apostolic vicar of Jolo.

- Bishop Edgardo Sarabia Juanich, apostolic vicar of Taytay.

- Widodo Sutiyo, ambassador of Indonesia, accompanied by his wife, on his farewell visit.

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VATICAN CITY, SEP 29, 2003 (VIS) - Sixty participants in the General Chapter of the Canons Regular of Premontre (Premonstratensians), were welcomed by the Holy Father this morning who, in his talked to them in English, highlighted the role of consecrated life in shaping Europe's identity.

"The Canons Regular of Premontre, in their long and illustrious history, have contributed significantly to the growth and life of the Church, especially in Europe," he said. "Consecrated life and its witness to the saving message of Jesus Christ has played a fundamental role in the evangelization of Europe and in the shaping of its Christian identity."

"In more recent years," the Pope remarked, "your Order has extended its presence to various parts of the world and has sought to serve the Church through new forms of the apostolate. ... This witness to 'koinonia' will be a powerful sign and source of hope for a world confronted by exaggerated forms of individualism and social fragmentation. In light of this I urge you to continue to foster a spirit of fraternal charity, lived in the name of Jesus and His love."

John Paul II noted that the Premonstratensians, "spiritual sons of St. Norbert," are experiencing, like other institutes, some difficulty in attracting vocations, and he encouraged them "to persevere in your efforts to make known to the world, especially to the young, the beauty and joy of a religious vocation."

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VATICAN CITY, SEP 29, 2003 (VIS) - The Holy Father conferred the dignity of archbishop upon Bishops James Michael Harvey, prefect of the Pontifical Household; Stanislaw Dziwisz, adjunct prefect of the Pontifical Household and Piero Marini, master of Pontifical Liturgical Celebrations. They retain the titular sees assigned to them.

On Saturday September 27 it was made public that the Holy Father:

- Gave his consent to the canonical election by the Synod of Bishops of the Chaldean Catholic Church, who met in Baghdad, Iraq October 16-24, 2002, of Fr. Louis Sako, pastor of the Parish of Perpetual Help at Mossul, to the archieparchy of Kerkuk of the Chaldeans (Catholics 5,095, priests 3, religious 2), Iraq.

- Appointed Cardinal Edward Idris Cassidy, president emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, as his special envoy to the re-opening ceremony of St. Patrick's Cathedral in Parramatta, Australia on November 29, 2003.

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Friday, September 26, 2003


VATICAN CITY, SEP 26, 2003 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received four prelates from the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines on their "ad limina" visit:

- Archbishop Fernando R. Capalla of Davao.

- Bishop Antonio Ledesma, prelate of Ipil.

- Bishop Martin S. Jumoad, prelate of Isabela.

- Bishop Warlito I. Cajandig, apostolic vicar of Calapan.

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Thursday, September 25, 2003


VATICAN CITY, SEP 25, 2003 (VIS) - Today at Castelgandolfo, Pope John Paul welcomed Filipino bishops from the provinces of Cagayan de Oro, Cotabato, Davao, Lipa, Ozamis and Zamboanga, who are in Rome for their "ad limina" visit.

He framed his reflections this morning in the context of a plenary council held in the Philippines 12 years ago and on "the three key pastoral priorities (that) emerged: the need to be a Church of the poor, the pledge to become a true community of the Lord's disciples, and the commitment to engage in renewed integral evangelization. Since the Filipino Bishops will be making their ad limina visits to Rome in three groups, I shall use each of these points as a broad backdrop for my comments to each group. For you, I shall start with the first priority: the Church of the poor."

Being a Church of the poor, the Pope stated, "echoes the first Beatitude ' 'Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven'. ... A Church of the poor "seeks to share time and resources in order to alleviate suffering, ... (and it) works with all sectors of society, including the poor themselves, in search of solutions to the problems of poverty. ... The Church of the poor is a Church in which the poor are welcomed, listened to and actively involved."

"In a very real way, then," the Holy Father continued, "a true Church of the poor contributes much to the needed transformation of society, to social renewal based on the vision and values of the Gospel. This renewal is an undertaking that has the lay faithful as its principal and essential agents: therefore, the laity must be given the necessary tools to carry out this role successfully. This entails a thorough formation in the Church's social doctrine, and constant dialogue with clergy and religious concerning social and cultural issues."

He emphasized that "we must not lose sight of the fact that the immediate and perhaps most important arena of lay witness to Christian faith is marriage and the family. When family life is healthy and flourishing, there is likewise a strong sense of community and solidarity ' two essential elements for the Church of the poor. Not only is the family an object of the Church's pastoral care but it is also one of the most effective agents of evangelization."

John Paul II remarked that "without ignoring the deleterious effects of secularism or of legislation that corrupts the meaning of family, marriage and even human life itself, we may note that poverty is certainly among the major factors exposing Filipino families to the risk of instability and fragmentation. ... A Church of the poor can do much to strengthen the family and to combat human exploitation."

He then mentioned "the unsettling presence of terrorist activity in the Philippines and the abhorrent episodes of violence erupting there. ... With you, I cannot condemn such acts strongly enough. I call on the parties involved to lay down the weapons of death and destruction, rejecting the despair and hatred which these entail, and to take up the arms of mutual understanding, commitment and hope."

In concluding remarks, the Pope said that "in the campaign against terrorism and violence, religious leaders have a vital role to play." He cited his Message for the 2002 World Day of Peace: "The various Christian confessions, as well as the world's great religions, need to work together to eliminate the social and cultural causes of terrorism. They can do this by teaching the greatness and dignity of the human person, and by spreading a clearer sense of the oneness of the human family."

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VATICAN CITY, SEP 25, 2003 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

- Accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the archdiocese of Korhogo, Ivory Coast, presented by Archbishop Auguste Nobou, upon having reached the age limit.

- Gave his consent to the canonical election by the Synod of Bishops of the Church of Antioch of the Maronites, who met in Bkerke on June 9-14, of Chorbishop Nabil Hage, protosincellus (vicar general) of the archeparchy of Tyr of the Maronites, to the archbishopric see of Tyr of the Maronites (Catholics 41,000, priests 25, religious 49), Lebanon. The archbishop-elect succeeds Archbishop Maroun Khoury Sader whose resignation the Holy Father accepted in accordance with Canon 210, para. 2, of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches.

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VATICAN CITY, SEP 25, 2003 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience six prelates from the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines on their "ad limina" visit:

- Bishop Emilio Z. Marquez of Lucena.

- Bishop Rolando J. Tirona, prelate of Infanta.

- Archbishop Jesus A. Dosado, C.M., of Ozamis.

- Bishop Emilio L. Bataclan of Iligan.

- Bishop Edwin A. de la Pena, of the Missionary Society of the Philippines, of Marawi.

- Archbishop Carmelo Dominador F. Morelos of Zamboanga.

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VATICAN CITY, SEP 25, 2003 (VIS) - As is customary every year before leaving his summer residence at Castelgandolfo and returning to Rome, this morning the Pope thanked the town's mayor, councilmen and law enforcement officials for their service throughout his stay. He also bid farewell to priests and the different religious communities.

The Holy Father assured law enforcement officials that he would continue to pray for them and their work. "In addition," he said, "I ask you to pray for me and my daily service to the Church. Pray in particular for my upcoming pilgrimage to Pompeii so that it may mark the start of a new phase of spiritual renovation and more intense Marian devotion for the Church."

Yesterday afternoon, John Paul II greeted Saverio Petrillo, general director of the Pontifical Villas, and staff members as well as their family members. "Upon returning to the Vatican," he said, "I ask the Giver of every good to reward you with an abundance of grace."

The Pope will return by car to Vatican at 6:30 p.m.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2003


VATICAN CITY, SEP 24, 2003 (VIS) - Joaquin Navarro-Valls, Holy See Press Office Director, made the following declaration early this morning:

"Due to intestinal trouble which began yesterday afternoon, the Holy Father will not preside at today's general audience which will take place in the Paul VI Hall.

"Cardinal Secretary of State Angelo Soldano will read the catechesis and will greet and bless the pilgrims in the Pope's name."



VATICAN CITY, SEP 24, 2003 (VIS) - On Tuesday, September 30, in the Holy See Press Office, a conference will be held to present the latest electronic method to receive the daily Holy See Press office bulletin and the news provided by the Vatican Information Service. These services will be provided through TIM (the acronym for Italian Mobile Telephones) and Blackberry, an instrument which allows for the consultation and administration of e-mail wherever the client is.

Mauro Sentinelli and Roberto Pellegrini of TIM will present this new system and offer a demonstration on the uses of Blackberry.

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VATICAN CITY, SEP 24, 2003 (VIS) - On September 22 in New York, Cardinal Claudio Hummes, O.F.M., archbishop of Sao Paulo, Brazil, addressed a United Nations meeting on HIV/AIDS. He heads the Holy See delegation to the high level plenary meeting of the U.N. General Assembly devoted to the follow-up of the outcome of the 26th special session: Implementation of the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS.

In his speech, made public yesterday afternoon, the cardinal stated that "HIV/AIDS has been and remains one of the major tragedies of our time. It is not only a health problem of enormous magnitude; it is a social, economic and political concern as well. ... It is also a moral question, as the causes of the epidemic clearly reflects a serious crisis of values, .... sparing no geographic segment of the human family."

He drew the assembly's attention "to one of the most vulnerable groups of HIV/AIDS victims, namely our children. So many of them have been and continue to be victims of this epidemic, either because they have been infected by the virus passed on to them by birth, or because they have become orphans due to AIDS-related premature death of their parents. ... According to one estimate, by 2010 in Africa alone there will be 40 million AIDS orphans, 95 percent of whom carrying the virus."

"Treatment for these young patients can be met by the advances in medical science," the head of delegation affirmed. He noted the very high cost of medical treatment, "compounded by legal issues," but said the Holy See is "heartened by the World Trade Organization agreement reached August 30, 2003 which will make it easier for poorer States to import cheaper generic pharmaceuticals made under compulsory licensing."

Cardinal Hummes remarked that "the Holy See and Catholic institutions have not shrunk from the global fight against HIV/AIDS," pointing out that "12 percent of care providers for HIV/AIDS patients are agencies of the Catholic Church and 13 percent of the global relief for those affected by the epidemic comes from Catholic non-governmental organizations. The Holy See, thanks to its institutions worldwide, provides 25 percent of the total care given to HIV/AIDS victims."

He said, in closing, that "in order to coordinate better its activities, the Holy See has established an Ad Hoc Committee on the fight against HIV/AIDS ... (which) intends to express particular solicitude for sub-Saharan Africa" and "to pay special attention to the problems of stigma and discrimination accompanying the disease, to access to treatment and care, to education on responsible sexual behavior ' including abstinence and marital fidelity ' and to the care of HIV/AIDS orphans."


VATICAN CITY, SEP 24, 2003 (VIS) - During this Wednesday's general audience, celebrated in the Paul VI Hall, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, secretary of State, read the catechesis prepared by the Pope who was unable to come from Castelgandolfo due to an intestinal problem.

Before reading the text, Cardinal Sodano told the pilgrims present: "Due to being ill, the Holy Father will not be able to be present during this general audience. Together we will pray for him, trusting that he may quickly recover. His Holiness would like you to know that he is following us via television and, at the end of this gathering, he will speak to us."

Today's commentary on Psalm 8, "The Greatness of God and the Dignity of Man," concludes the cycle of meditations started by the Pope on the psalms and canticles "which are the center of the Liturgy of the Lauds."

In Psalm 8, the Holy Father writes, "a double experience emerges. On one hand, man feels almost crushed by the grandeur of creation" and yet "God watches over man and crowns him as his viceroy. ... God even entrusts the whole universe to this creature, so fragile, so that he may know Him and be sustained by Him."

"The Psalm," he continues, "makes us aware of our grandeur, but also of our responsibility in relation to creation."

In conclusion, John Paul II affirms that "God weaves for us a 'crown of justice' that will reward our fidelity to Him, sustained even during the storms that agitate our heart and mind. He is always attentive to His creatures and would like the divine 'image' to always shine in them, so that they know how to be a sign of harmony, light and peace in the world."

After Cardinal Sodano read greetings in different languages, the Pope, via an audio linkup from Castelgandolfo, greeted and then blessed the pilgrims: "I regret not being able to be with you for this weekly gathering. I hold you all in my heart and bless you with affection."

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VATICAN CITY, SEP 24, 2003 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Bishop Alano Maria Pena, O.P., of Nova Friburgo, Brazil as metropolitan archbishop of Niteroi (area 4,722, population 2,094,288, Catholics 1,798,175, priests 109, permanent deacons 17, religiosos 263), Brazil. The archbishop-elect was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1935 and was ordained a priest in 1961 and a bishop in 1975.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2003


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

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

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

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

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



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

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



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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

- Bishop Patricio H. Alo of Mati.

- Bishop Wilfredo D. Manlapaz of Tagum.

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

- Bishop Jose F. Oliveros.

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

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

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

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

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

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Monday, September 22, 2003


VATICAN CITY, SEP 20, 2003 (VIS) - Today at Castelgandolfo, the Pope welcomed the bishops of Uganda who have been in Rome since September 10 on their quinquennial "ad limina" visit. "The last time the Ugandan Bishops were here as a body," he remarked, "there was but one ecclesiastical province in your country; now there are four metropolitan sees counting a total of 19 dioceses. This is a very positive sign of the work being done for Christ, the building up of His Church in your country."

The Pope then noted that "sadly, parts of your country are currently embroiled in situations of armed conflict and anarchy. In the north especially, the bane of warfare is bringing untold misery, suffering and death, striking out even at the Church and targeting her ministers and her children. In the west and the northeast too, episodes of violence and hostility afflict the land, draining the life and energies of your people. Assuring you and your people of my spiritual closeness in these dire circumstances, I join you in condemning every act of bloodshed and destruction."

"As Bishops," John Paul II continued, "you have a serious duty to address issues of particular importance for the social, economic, political and cultural life of your country, to make the Church ever more effectively present in those areas. Working out the implications of the Gospel for Christian life in the world and applying it to new situations is crucial to your ecclesial leadership."

He encouraged their work in health care, education, and development, saying "these serve to show clearly the Church's commitment to the integral well-being of her sons and daughters and of all Ugandans regardless of religious creed. Worthy of particular mention are the various HIV/AIDS initiatives that, in complete harmony with the Church's teaching, seek to assist those affected by this disease and to keep the public duly informed about it."

The Pope underscored that "if the Church is to assume her proper place in Ugandan society, suitable formation of the laity must be a priority in your mission as preachers and teachers," particularly their involvement "in the life of the parish and diocese, in pastoral and administrative structures. ... Especially important in this same context are efforts aimed at overcoming tribal conflicts and ethnic tensions; for such rivalries have no place in the Church of Christ and serve only to weaken the overall fabric of society."

The Holy Father encouraged "a renewal of the Christian community and of society that passes by way of the family," because a strong "communion of persons in the family is the great antidote to the self-indulgence and sense of isolation so prevalent today."

He added that "in seeking to meet the challenges of the future, attention to young people remains of paramount importance. ... A strong commitment to Catholic schools is a particularly effective way of ensuring the proper formation of Ugandan youth. ... It is important also to continue to seek ways to bring sound moral and religious teaching to the public schools as well, and to promote in public opinion a consensus regarding the importance of such training."

"We cannot fail," said Pope John Paul, "to give thanks for the vocations with which you are blessed." He commented on the work done by priests, the bishops' "closest co-workers. ... With regard to the loneliness that can sometimes accompany the pastoral ministry, your priests should be encouraged, as much as the local situation permits, to live in common and direct their efforts entirely towards the sacred ministry." He also had praise for the communities of men and women religious in Uganda, as well as the numerous catechists.

"Walk always," the Holy Father concluded, "with those entrusted to your pastoral care, showing them a father's love, especially those suffering the scourge of violence, the pain of AIDS, the affliction of any other of a host of situations bringing hardship and difficulty."

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VATICAN CITY, SEP 20, 2003 (VIS) - Msgr. Leo Boccardi, permanent observer to the Office of the United Nations and Specialized Institutions in Vienna, participated in the 47th Session of the General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) which took place in the Austrian capital from September 15-19.

In his speech in English, delivered on September 17, Msgr. Boccardi said that "the present moment in history brings about new challenges and new opportunities for the IAEA which has been dedicated since its foundation to the realization and promotion of a vision of 'Atoms for Peace' with the aim to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons, their eventual elimination, and to share safe and secure nuclear weapons technologies, in peaceful applications for the benefit of humankind."

"In this decisive moment of history, the spirit of legitimacy must be recuperated on the international scene. The return to the value of the law and to the institutions which should be in the position to secure its validity is the best way for preventing conflicts."

Msgr. Boccardi emphasized that "the past year has been very challenging for the Agency in the field of verification. ... It is important that verification is done through impartial, international inspections, because only such activities can generate credibility and bring about good results. However, to make the world more secure, verifying the actual situation in the nuclear weapons area is not enough: we need to reinvigorate the nuclear disarmament process including real progress in nuclear weapons dismantlement."

It has been a tradition since 1957 that, during the IAEA general conference, the permanent mission of the Holy See in Vienna invite ambassadors and accredited delegates to the international organizations with headquarters in the city, and top IAEA officials to a Mass. This year the ceremony was especially solemn as it commemorated the 25th anniversary of John Paul II's pontificate.



VATICAN CITY, SEP 20, 2003 - Archbishop Jean-Louis Tauran, secretary for Relations with States, made the following declaration today:

"As I leave Georgia, I would like to express the gratitude of the Holy See delegation for the hospitality shown to us during these two days.

"I regret, however, that the objective of my visit - the signing of a bilateral accord between Georgia and the Holy See - was not able to be realized, due to the Georgian authorities having second thoughts at the last moment.

"It is mainly the Catholic community in this country that will suffer this failed pledge, a community which continues to be deprived of every juridical guarantee and to whom we express our solidarity.

"In addition, the Holy See delegation felt gravely hurt by the conduct of the Georgian Orthodox Church which has spread news that does not correspond to the truth, notwithstanding the fact that it has been shown many times (our) willingness to provide information about how the talks were going.

"These events will undoubtedly be the cause of great suffering for His Holiness John Paul II who, on the occasion of his visit in November of 1999, invited all citizens of this country, and in particular Christians, to collaborate together in the moral rebuilding of this great nation.

"The Holy See hopes that Georgia, which takes part in important international conventions on human rights, will know how to remedy such a regrettable situation."

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VATICAN CITY, SEP 21, 2003 (VIS) - Pope John Paul, on his last scheduled Sunday at Castelgandolfo, recited the Angelus with the pilgrims who had come to the summer papal residence. He continued his spiritual pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of the Rosary of Pompeii which he will visit on October 7, saying that today he wished to meditate on the five Mysteries of Light, which he added to the Rosary last October 16.
These mysteries, he said, highlight the "public life" of Jesus, "the time in which Jesus, through the power of words and works, reveals in a completed way the 'face' of our heavenly Father, inaugurating His reign of love, justice and peace. His baptism in the Jordan, the wedding feast at Cana, the proclamation of the Kingdom, the Transfiguration on Mount Tabor and the institution of the Eucharist: these are all moments of revelation, 'luminous' mysteries which allow the splendor of the divine nature of God in Jesus Christ to shine through."

The Holy Father underscored that "Mary's presence in these mysteries is for the most part in the background. Except in one: the wedding feast of Cana where the role of 'the Mother of God' is determining. It is she who tells her Son that there is no more wine; and when He answers that 'His hour' has not yet come, she entreats Him with maternal urgency, telling the servants: 'Do what He tells you'.

Mary thus shows, affirmed the Pope, "that she has understood better than anyone else the inmost intentions of Jesus. Her heart knows His heart because from the beginning she has borne within her and meditated on His every gesture and every word. She is thus the very first and the principal teacher of Christian prayer."

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VATICAN CITY, SEP 20, 2003 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio, apostolic nuncio in Rwanda, as apostolic nuncio in Thailand, Singapore and Cambodia and apostolic delegate in Myanmar, Laos, Malaysia and Brunei.

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VATICAN CITY, SEP 20, 2003 (VIS) - The program of events scheduled in the Vatican to mark the 25th anniversary of Pope John Paul II's election to the papacy was made public today. It includes a four-day meeting of the 164 members of the College of Cardinals, Mass on the day of the anniversary and a concert in the Pope's honor.

At 5 p.m. on Wednesday, October 15, the College of Cardinals will gather in the New Synod Hall for a four-day meeting, during which six cardinals will reflect on themes of great importance to the Church. Cardinal Bernardin Gantin, former dean of the College, will speak on "The Petrine Ministry and Communion in the Episcopacy"; Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger on "Priests, the Consecrated Life and Vocations"; Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo on the family; Cardinal Nasrallah Pierre Sfeir on ecumenism; Cardinal Ivan Dias on missions and Cardinal Angelo Sodano on "The 25 years of Pontificate in Service to Peace."

The cardinals, who where invited by the Holy Father to Rome for this anniversary, will be joined by the presidents of episcopal conferences, the heads of dicastery of the Roman Curia and by patriarchs.

Pope John Paul will not be present at the opening session but he will attend on the morning of October 16, the 25th anniversary of his election in 1978, during which he will sign the post-synodal apostolic exhortation for the 2001 synod held on the theme of the episcopal ministry. He will do so in the Clementine Hall. At 6 p.m. that same day there will be a Mass in St. Peter's Square to commemorate this jubilee.

On Friday, October 17, the College of Cardinals will meet again. At 6 p.m. in honor of John Paul II, there will be a concert in the Paul VI Hall offered by the choir and orchestra of Leipzig who will perform Beethoven's Ninth Symphony and Bruckner's "Ecce Sacerdos Magnus."

The Pope will address the meeting of the cardinals during their final session on Saturday, October 18. His talk will follow the presentation of a Message to him from the entire College of Cardinals. At 1 p.m. The Holy Father has invited the cardinals, heads of dicastery, episcopal conference presidents and patriarchs to lunch. At 5:30 there will be a missionary vigil in the Paul VI Hall, though the Poe is not scheduled to be present.

At 10 a.m. in St. Peter's Square on Sunday, October 19, World Mission Sunday, Pope John Paul will preside at Mass during which he will beatify Mother Teresa of Calcutta.



VATICAN CITY, SEP 21, 2003 (VIS) - Made public today was a Message from the Holy Father to Bishop Gastone Simoni of Prati, Italy on the 350th anniversary of the institution of the same diocese on September 22, 1653 by Pope Innocent X.

In the Message, dated September 8, feast of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, the Pope recalls that this year also marks the 500th anniversary of the founding of the monastery of the Dominican Sisters of Sts. Vincent and Catherine of Ricci. May the memory of this "great mystic of the 16th century," St. Catherine, in addition to that of other saints and blesseds "who have enriched the Church in Prato, continue to be an example for the entire diocesan community and a stimulus for those who are looking for truth and also for those, too worried about worldly matters, who do not know how to raise their gaze to the heavens."

"In the current social and cultural context," he continues, "the affluence of material goods, the exasperated care of self, and the needs created by a consumeristic society risk obscuring the interior voice of God Who constantly invites us to keep strong our personal alliance with Him. Today there is the danger of reducing the faith to a religious sentiment lived out only in private, and forgetting that being Christian means accepting the commitment to be apostles of Christ in the world."

John Paul II concludes by expressing the desire that this anniversary be "a providential occasion to understand better that the vocation to sanctity is for everyone and that we must propose it with courage and patience to the younger generations."
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VATICAN CITY, SEP 22, 2003 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

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

- Bishop Juan de Dios M. Pueblos of Butuan.

- Bishop Honesto Pacana, S.J., of Malaybalay.

- Bishop Antonieto D. Cabajob of Surigao.

- Bishop Nereo P. Odchimar of Tandag.

- Archbishop Orlando B. Quevedo, O.M.I., of Cotabato.

- Bishop Romulo G. Valles of Kidapawan.

- Bishop Dinualdo D. Gutierrez of Marbel.

- Archbishop Francesco Pio Tamburrino of Foggia, Italy, with family members.

On Saturday September 20, the Holy Father received in audience 15 prelates from the Uganda Episcopal Conference on their "ad limina" visit:

- Archbishop Paul K. Bakyenga of Mbarara, accompanied by Bishop Emeritus John Baptist Kakubi.

- Bishop Egidio Nkaijanabwo of Kasese.

- Bishop Deogratias Muganwa Byabazaire of Hoima, accompanied by Bishop Emeritus Albert Edward Baharagate.

- Bishop Robert Muhiirwa of Fort Portal, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop John Magenyi Sabiiti and Bishop Emeritus Paul L. Kalanda.

- Bishop Callistus Rubaramira of Kabale, accompanied by Bishops Emeritus Robery Gay, M.Afr., and Barnabas R. Halem 'Imana.

- Archbishop John Baptist Odama of Gulu.

- Bishop Frederick Drandua of Arua.

- Bishop Martin Lulunga of Nebbi.

- Bishop Joseph Oyanga of Lira.

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Friday, September 19, 2003


VATICAN CITY, SEP 19, 2003 (VIS) - The Holy Father today welcomed to Castelgandolfo 180 participants in a course of formation for English-speaking bishops in mission lands that was organized by the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. He greeted the congregation's prefect, Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, as well as all priests, religious, catechists and lay people of the dioceses entrusted to these bishops.

In his talk to them in English, the Pope stressed that "missionary activity throughout the earth ... is still an urgent apostolic undertaking in our day, and you are called to be its courageous and tireless supporters in the midst of daily difficulties and trials."

He noted that in his Encyclical Letter "Redemptoris Missio", he wrote that the Church must be committed "to a new evangelization and to the mission 'ad gentes'. No believer in Christ, no institution of the Church, can avoid this supreme duty: to proclaim Christ to all peoples."

"Among your duties," added the Pope, "is that of transmitting the gift of faith and encouraging your communities to be evangelizers. There is room for everyone in the Lord's vineyard. No one is so poor that he has nothing to give. No one is so rich that he has nothing to receive.

"May your soul every day hear the echo of the Redeemer's exhortation: 'Duc in altum'! This is an invitation to cast 'spiritual nets' into the sea of the world. In turn, those who trust in the Divine Master experience the wonder of the miraculous catch of fish."

The Holy Father urged the bishops to "be holy. On different occasions I have noted that holiness is the urgent pastoral need of our times."

"No activity, no matter how important, should distract you from this spiritual priority that sets the tone for the apostolic mandate received with episcopal ordination. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, makes you His associates in serving the Cristian people as fathers, teachers and pastors."

Pope John Paul concluded by inviting the prelates to imitate the memories of saints, martyrs, confessors of the faith of their communities. "Follow in their footsteps! Be pastors who, by their example more than by their words, honor the Gospel and inspire in those around them the desire to know it better and to put it into practice."

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VATICAN CITY, SEP 19, 2003 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences two prelates from the Uganda Episcopal Conference on their "ad limina" vist:

- Bishop Henry Apaloryamam Ssentongo of Moroto.

- Bishop Denis Kiwanuka Lote of Kotido.
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VATICAN CITY, SEP 19, 2003 (VIS) - Today at Castelgandolfo the Pope received a group of priests of the Greek Orthodox Church and recalled his visit with His Beatitude Christodoulos, archbishop of Athens and all Greece, and the Greek Orthodox Church during the Jubilee Year.

"We must continue to build on solid foundations the fraternal and evangelical ties that we experienced on that occasion. Your visit to Rome is a valid initiative in that sense in order to get to know and appreciate each other better and to advance relations that facilitate communion."

John Paul II assured them that he asked the Lord "constantly to prepare us to open our hearts to His prayer that 'all may be one', and to make us capable of genuine obedience to His will in order to look together for ways for closer collaboration and an ever-deeper communion."

He concluded by saying: "I hope that your visit to the holy sites of Rome, with gatherings, conversations, occasions of dialogue, may be a positive and useful experience for your priestly life. May the Holy Spirit always accompany your ministry and strengthen the testimony that each one of you gives to the Gospel of our common Lord."

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Thursday, September 18, 2003


VATICAN CITY, SEP 18, 2003 (VIS) - Today the Holy Father received in separate audiences:

- Kjell Magne Bondevik, prime minister of Norway, accompanied by his wife and an entourage.

- Nabih Berri, president of the Parliament of Lebanon, accompanied by his wife and an entourage.

- Jean Wagner, ambassador of Luxembourg, accompanied by his wife, on his farewell visit.

- Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo, apostolic nuncio in the United States of America and permanent observer to the Organization of American States.

- Archbishop Giuseppe Pinto, apostolic nuncio in Senegal, Mali, Capo Verde, Guinea-Bissau, and apostolic delegate in Mauritania.

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VATICAN CITY, SEP 18, 2003 (VIS) - A twelve-day meeting of an estimated 1,000 leaders of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal Movement started today at the Mariapoli Center in Castelgandolfo on the theme "Twelve Days of Blessings." Leaders of other ecclesial movements, such as Chiara Lubich of the Focolare, and of other Christian Churches are also expected to attend.
Cardinal James Francis Stafford and Bishop Stanislaw Rylko, respectively president and secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, will preside at the meeting's main celebrations. The participants will reflect on the current situation of the movement and look at some of the challenges facing it in the future.

The twelve-day encounter has three distinct phases: the meeting of leaders, a four-day spiritual retreat led by Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, O.F.M.Cap., preacher of the papal household, on the theme "Holiness, a Challenge for the Third Millennium," and a trip of several days to a number of shrines in south central Italy, including that of St. Padre Pio in San Giovanni Rotondo.

The Catholic Charismatic Renewal Movement was born on university campuses in 1967 in the United States. It spread rapidly and is now present in 70 countries on five continents through a "strong rediscovery of the faith and the action of the Holy Spirit in the lives of Christians," according to a communique published about the meeting.



VATICAN CITY, SEP 18, 2003 (VIS) - This morning at Castelgandolfo John Paul II received participants in the traditional course of study and formation organized by the Congregation for Bishops for bishops who were recently appointed.

The Pope told the prelates who come from different countries that the pastoral mission that has been entrusted to them "is exalting but today it is also particularly arduous and difficult," due to problems and uncertainties and the fact that many Christians seem to be "disoriented and without hope." For this reason, he added, "we pastors are called to proclaim the Gospel and to be witnesses of hope, with our gaze turned to the Cross, to the mystery of the triumph and fecundity of Christ crucified."

After recalling that the episcopal ministry, in light of theological hope, was the theme of the last Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, celebrated in 2001, the Holy Father announced that on October 16, on the 25th anniversary of his pontificate, he will sign the post-synodal apostolic exhortation.

John Paul II emphasized that the episcopal ministry "calls us to lead a holy life. May you be the live and visible image of the Good Shepherd. Be vigilant over your flock. ... Love the Church more than yourselves! Live in it and for it, giving yourselves entirely to pastoral service."

"Our apostolate," he continued, "must be an overflow of our interior life. ... Be men of prayer! With your example, you will show the primacy of spiritual life, that is, the primacy of grace which is the soul of every apostolate."

The Pope urged the prelates to take care of their "first collaborators, priests" and he spoke about the urgency of "adequate pastoral ministry for vocations at the beginning of the third millennium."

"Vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life are a gift from God that needs to be asked for insistently in prayer. But," he concluded, "they are also the fruit of strong and healthy families and ecclesial communities where the figure of the priest is highly regarded and valued. May the choice of educators in the seminaries be made with the greatest care because only the personal testimony of a joyful and generous life is capable of leading the souls of young people today."



VATICAN CITY, SEP 18, 2003 (VIS) - The following prelates died in recent weeks:

- Cardinal Maurice Michael Otunga, archbishop emeritus of Nairobi, Kenya, on September 6 at age 80.

- Bishop Vittorio Maria Costantini, O.F.M. Conv., emeritus of Sessa Aurunca (Caserta), Italy, on September 3 at age 97.

- Archbishop Elie Farah, emeritus of Cyprus of the Maronites, Cyprus, on July 22 at age 93.
- Bishop James Edward Fitzgerald, former auxiliary of Joliet in Illinois, U.S.A., on September 11 at age 64.

- Bishop Henry Joseph Kennedy, emeritus of Armidale, Australia, on September 2 at age 88.

- Bishop Ivan Marchitych, auxiliary emeritus of Mukacheve, Ukraine, on September 7 at age 82.

- Bishop Geoffrey Francis Mayne, ordinary military emeritus of Australia, on September 14 at age 75.

- Bishop Kenneth Joseph Povish, emeritus of Lansing, U.S.A., on September 6 at age 79.

- Bishop Joao Risatti, P.I.M.E., of Macapa, Brazil on September 9 at age 60.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2003


VATICAN CITY, SEP 17, 2003 (VIS) - The Holy Father accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Aracatuba, Brazil presented by Bishop Jose Carlos Castanho de Almeida in accordance with Canon 401, para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law.

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VATICAN CITY, SEP 17, 2003 (VIS) - Today the Holy Father received in audience Archbishop George Kocherry, apostolic nuncio in Ghana.

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VATICAN CITY, SEP 17, 2003 (VIS) - Pope John Paul, who arrived by car from Castelgandolfo for today's general audience at 10:30 in St. Peter's Square, focussed the weekly catechesis on his just-completed trip to Slovakia. He was welcomed to the sun-drenched square by 11,000 pilgrims from throughout the world, and told them that last week's apostolic trip was his third "to this noble country" where he was greeted "with great cordiality."

"Faithful to Christ and to the Church," the Pope began. "This is how Slovakia presents herself in her history. By going there in person I was able to confirm the country in its fidelity as it moves, with confidence, towards the future. With pleasure I was able to admire the economic and social development that has been realized in these years. I am certain that, when they enter the European Union, the Slovak people will know how to offer to the building of Europe their valid contribution, also on the level of values."

The Holy Father stressed that Slovakia "has a rich spiritual patrimony that, notwithstanding the harsh persecution it underwent in the past, it knew how to steadfastly preserve. An eloquent witness of this is the promising flowering of Christian life and vocations to the priesthood and religious life that can be noted today."

John Paul II then re-lived the single stages of his four-day trip to Slovakia, highlighting his visits to the cathedral of Trnava, the "beautiful and evocative Eucharistic celebrations" and, in a special way, the Mass last Sunday in Bratislava during which he beatified Bishops Vasil' Hopko and Sister Zdenka Cecilia Schelingova, "the victims of atrocious persecutions by the communist regime in the 1950s."

He recalled his visit to the agricultural region of Roznava where, he said, he told farmers "how important their contribution is in building the nation. It is necessary, however, that they remain firmly rooted in their centuries-old Christian tradition. In Roznava I was also able to greet a large community of Hungarian-speaking faithful."

"God bless you, dear Slovakia!" the Pope concluded the catechesis. "Thank you for your love for the Church and the Successor of Peter!"

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Tuesday, September 16, 2003


VATICAN CITY, SEP 16, 2003 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience ten prelates from the Uganda Episcopal Conference on their "ad limina" visit:

- Cardinal Emmanuel Wamala of Kampala, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Christopher Kakooza.

- Bishop Matthias Ssekamaanya of Lugazi.

- Bishop John Baptist Kaggwa of Masaka, accompanied by Emeritus Bishop Adrian Kivumbi Ddungu.

- Bishop Cyprian Kizito Lwanga of Kasana-Luweero.

- Bishop Joseph Anthony Zziwa, coadjutor of Kiyinda-Mityana.

- Archbishop James Odongo of Tororo, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Charles Martin Wamika.

- Bishop Joseph B. Willigers, M.H.M., of Jinja.

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VATICAN CITY, SEP 16, 2003 (VIS) - Cardinal Paul Poupard, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, is participating this week in the meeting of leaders of Catholic Cultural Centers of the Southern hemisphere in the Pontifical Catholic University of Valparaiso, Chile which celebrates the 75th anniversary of its founding.

On September 15 the cardinal participated in the Fourth National Meeting of Catholic Academicians of Chile, an initiative born in the Jubilee Year 2000. Today he will join a colloquium with the Board of Directors of the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, during which he will celebrate Mass.

According to a communique made public today, Cardinal Poupard will speak at the opening conference on September 17 on "The mission of Catholic Cultural Centers as a service to the Gospel that reinforces the Catholic identity." He will develop "four basic concepts - fervor, tolerance, profit, religious indifference - which illustrate the changes in modern society, characterized by the phenomenon of sects, the growth of agnosticism and religious indifference, resistance and distrust of institutions, social inequalities." The talks by cultural leaders conclude September 19.

Cardinals Francisco Javier Errazuriz of Santiago de Chile and Claudio Hummes of Sao Paulo, Brazil are participating in the gathering, as well as the presidents of the episcopal commissions for Culture of Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Paraguay. In addition, leaders of 30 Catholic cultural centers in the region are present.



VATICAN CITY, SEP 16, 2003 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

- Accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Richmond, U.S.A., presented by Bishop Walter Francis Sullivan upon having reached the age limit.

- Appointed Fr. Jose Refugio Mercado Diaz, episcopal vicar and pastor in the archdiocese of Guadalajara, Mexico, as auxiliary bishop of the diocese of Tehauntepec (area 25,500, population 1,452,000, Catholics 1,145,000, priests 61, religious 131), Mexico. The bishop-elect was born in Ixtlahuacan del Rio, Mexico in 1942 and was ordained priest in 1972.

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Monday, September 15, 2003


VATICAN CITY, SEP 13, 2003 (VIS) - Pope John Paul left Bratislava this morning at 9 for the 400 kilometer, one hour flight to Kosice, in eastern Slovakia. He then travelled 65 kilometers to Roznava by car, arriving at approximately 11 a.m. at Podrakos Field, a vast area capable of holding 500,000 people, where he celebrated Mass in honor of St. John Chrysostom, a much-venerated Doctor of the Church often considered a bridge between East and West.

Today's Mass was celebrated in the presence of religious and civil authorities, including the president of Slovakia, and countless faithful from neighboring countries. In particular, the Pope greeted the pilgrims from Hungary in their language.

Then, speaking Slovak, the Holy Father stated that every believer must "be both disciple and apostle: disciple, by humbly listening to the word that saves; apostle by giving passionate witness of a life formed by the Gospel. A Slovak proverb says: 'Words admonish, examples move'. Yes, dear Brothers and Sisters, you too, with the 'style' of your Christian life, can make a great contribution to the evangelisation of today's world and to the construction of a more just and more fraternal society."

"My journey from Bratislava and from Kosice," he remarked, "gave me the opportunity to admire vast cultivated areas, which are a witness to your work and effort. My thoughts go with great sympathy to all who are dedicated to agriculture. ... In the Gospel parable which we have just heard proclaimed, Jesus compares himself to the sower, who sows the seed of His word confidently in the soil of human hearts."
"Let us listen to the explanation of the parable that Jesus himself has given. The seed eaten up by the birds calls to mind the intervention of the Evil One who brings to the heart misunderstanding of God's way which is always the way of the Cross. The seed without roots describes that situation in which the Word is only externally received, without that deep allegiance to Christ and personal love for him, which alone would allow it to be retained. The choked seed symbolizes the worries of the present life, the attraction of power, affluence, pride."

John Paul II pointed out that "the word does not bear fruit automatically, even though it is divine ' and therefore all-powerful ' ; it adapts to the conditions of the soil, or better, it accepts the response that the soil gives, which can also be negative. ... We, Dear Brothers and Sisters, are the soil in which the Lord tirelessly plants the seed of His word and His love. With what attitude do we receive it? How much fruit do we allow it to bring forth?"

The Holy Father closed his homily by saying he entrusted to everyone "the treasure of this word; just like a confident sower who plants in the secret of each heart the 'good news' of the Kingdom. Be the good and fruitful soil which, with the abundance of its produce, comforts the expectations of the Church and of the world."



VATICAN CITY, SEP 12, 2003 (VIS) - Late this afternoon, before leaving the seminary of Banska Bystrica for his return flight to Bratislava, Pope John Paul welcomed the representatives of other Christian Churches and denominations in Slovakia.

"Your presence," he told them, "is an eloquent demonstration of the cordial cooperation and understanding that is a characteristic of the life of Christ's disciples in this land of Slovakia. This friendly meeting takes on particular importance and significance. In fact, it is an occasion to let our Divine Master's heartfelt prayer resound in the depths of our hearts: 'That they may all be one ... so that the world may believe that you have sent me'."

"Together with you," he concluded his brief address in Slovakian, "I ask Almighty God to strengthen us in our common task of proclaiming and bearing witness to the Gospel for the men and women of our day. May He hasten the arrival of the day when we shall be able to praise His name together in full communion of faith and charity."

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VATICAN CITY, SEP 14, 2003 (VIS) - Today, at the end of Mass, during which he beatified Bishop Vasil' Hopko and Sister Zdenka Cecilia Schelingova, Pope John Paul recited the Angelus with the estimated 250,000 faithful gathered at the Petrzalka esplanade of Bratislava.

In remarks made before the angelus, the Pope referred to today's feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, and said: "At the conclusion of the celebration we wish once again to place ourselves spiritually at the foot of the Cross of Christ and receive from Him the sublime gift of His Mother, who from that moment also became the Mother of the Church. Like the Apostle John, we too welcome her into our home, to learn from her the interior disposition of listening and that attitude of humble generosity in service, which characterize her as the first disciple of the Lord."

He then greeted the pilgrims present for today's beatifications in Hungarian, German, Ukrainian, Czech, Polish, Italian and Slovakian.

Following the Angelus prayer, John Paul II said: "Before departing from you I wish to renew to all of you my heartfelt gratitude: to the Christian community of Slovakia and to its pastors, to the president of the Republic and to the civil and military authorities, to the security personnel and to the press corps. To all those who in various ways have contributed to the success of my apostolic journey, I say with all my heart: thank you! I carry with me beautiful images of the Eucharistic celebrations and the different encounters of these days. They are memories that evoke in my spirit profound and comforting emotions."

"I wish to send from this esplanade," he concluded, "a special greeting, full of affection, to the young people of Slovakia. Dear young friends, you are the hope of the Church and of society; you are the hope of the Pope! Do not be afraid to become true friends of Jesus. Learn from Him how to love this world properly and you will build with His help the civilization of love."



VATICAN CITY, SEP 14, 2003 (VIS) - This morning John Paul II celebrated Mass on the Petrzalka esplanade in Bratislava and beatified Bishop Vasil' Hokpo (1904-1976) and Sister Zdenka Cecilia Schelingova (1915-1955), witnesses of the faith in the 20th century. Attending the Eucharistic celebration were the president of the republic, numerous civil and military authorities, as well as thousands of faithful not only from Slovakia but also from other bordering countries.

In his homily today, the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, the Pope invited everyone "to look upon the Cross, a 'privileged place' where the love of God is revealed and shown to us. Bishop Vasil' Hopko and Sister Zdenka Schelingova, whom I have had the joy of enrolling today among the Blessed, looked at the Cross with unshakeable faith."

"On the Cross human misery and divine mercy meet. The adoration of this unlimited mercy is for man the only way to open himself to the mystery which the Cross reveals. ... By means of the Cross of Christ, the Evil One has been defeated, death is overcome, life is given to us, hope is restored, light is imparted. O Crux, ave spes unica!"

The Pope emphasized that "it was meditation on this great and wonderful mystery that sustained" the new blesseds "in their choice of the consecrated life and especially in the sufferings endured during their terrible imprisonment."

"Both shine before us," he added, "as radiant examples of faithfulness in times of harsh and ruthless religious persecution. Bishop Vasil' never repudiated his attachment to the Catholic Church and to the Pope. Sister Zdenka did not hesitate to risk her life so as to assist God's ministers. Both faced up to an unjust trial and an ignoble condemnation, to torture, humiliation, solitude, death. And so the Cross became for them the way that led them to life, a source of fortitude and hope, a proof of love for God and man."

In concluding the Holy Father indicated that in this way, as "in the Garden of Eden, at the foot of the tree, there was a woman, Eve ... On Calvary, at the foot of the tree of the cross, there was another woman, Mary. ... It is the Virgin Most Sorrowful, whom we will remember tomorrow in the liturgy and whom you, with tender devotion, venerate as your patroness. To her I entrust the present and the future of the Church and nation of Slovakia, so that they will grow at the foot of the Cross of Christ, and will always know how to seek out and accept its message of love and salvation."



VATICAN CITY, SEP 14, 2003 (VIS) - The following telegram was sent by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, secretary of State, in the Holy Father's name to Archbishop Andreas Choi Chang-mou of Kwangju, president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea, on the occasion of the typhoon that hit South Korea, killing an estimated 87 persons and wounding scores more:

"Deeply saddened by the news of the great loss of life caused by the typhoon that struck South Korea, the Holy Father prays for the victims and their families. His Holiness asks that you convey the assurance of his solidarity to the civil authorities and all those involved in the task of relief and reconstruction. And he invokes Almighty God's blessing of strength and comfort upon all the afflicted."



VATICAN CITY, SEP 13, 2003 (VIS) - A delegation from the Holy See, led by Msgr. Frank Dewane, under-secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, attended the Fifth Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization which met in Cancun, Mexico from September 10 to 14. The Holy See has observer status at the WTO.

In his address today, Msgr. Dewane said this conference "represents a time of hope" but for this to be realized "all here present must remain faithful to the promises and commitments made to the poor in Doha (in 2001). There has been unsatisfactory progress in the areas of trade for the poorest countries, Bold and decisive action is needed that will have positive implications for development."

He noted that the Holy See's participation in such meetings "springs from its characteristic and constant concern for humanity" and its interest in "all issues that affect the dignity of the human person." He added that "trade should benefit people and not just markets and economies. Trade rules ... have a political and social nature, with deep and lasting consequences in the life of humanity. ... They must conform to the demands of social justice while enabling and fostering human development."

Msgr. Dewane referred to several of the Agreements signed in Doha which are under review in Mexico. He spoke in particular of the Agreement on Agriculture, saying that "agriculture products that are staple foods and on which low-income and poor farmers are dependent should be given special consideration in the context of tariff reductions. These reductions in poor countries, along with the effects of export subsidies and domestic supports in and dumping from developed countries, are particularly harmful for small farmers, Still, any temptation by developing countries towards a crude protectionist path should be avoided."

Msgr. Dewane concluded by stating that "the Holy See wishes to associate itself with those who support consideration for the particular needs of the African continent to experience the development that trade can provide. Africa today remains a continent at risk, fragile in terms of trade relations and the corresponding benefits."

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VATICAN CITY, SEP 12, 2003 (VIS) - Made public this afternoon was a Message by the Holy Father to participants in the special assembly of Italian Catholic Action on the theme: "History becomes prophecy."

The main objective of the assembly, which is taking place in Rome, is to revise the association's Statute "in order to update it according to the changing needs of the times and the apostolic perspectives of the new millennium," according to the Message dated September 8.

"The Church," it continues, "needs you, needs the lay people of Catholic Action who have found a 'school of sanctity' where they have learned to live the Gospel fully in everyday life."

John Paul II assures the youths and adults of Catholic Action that their association "will be renewed if every one of its members rediscovers the promises of Baptism, choosing consciously and freely Christian sanctity as 'the high measure of ordinary Christian life', in the daily conditions of life. It is therefore necessary to allow oneself to be molded by the liturgy of the Church, to cultivate the art of meditation and interior life, to practice spiritual exercises every year. My dear brothers and sisters, make every one of your groups be a true school of prayer and may every member be assured the help for discernment and fidelity to his or her vocation."

"I urge you," says the Pope, "to put all your energy at the service of communion in close unity to the bishop, collaborating with him and with priests. ... Help your parish to rediscover the passion for proclaiming the Gospel and to cultivate pastoral concern for all in order to help them to experience the joy of encountering the Lord."

The Holy Father ends by encouraging them "to give value to a solid formation, suitable for the urgency of the new evangelization. Always take care of every person and help everyone to defend the treasure of the faith, defending it in every environment of life. May Catholic Action become once again a great school of lay spirituality and an apostolate for a growing number of people and communities!"

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VATICAN CITY, SEP 15, 2003 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

- Appointed Archbishop Gaudencio B. Rosales of Lipa, the Philippines, as metropolitan archbishop of Manila (area 549, population 9,379,474, Catholics 8,699,253, priests 1,188, permanent deacons 7, religious 3,811), the Philippines. He accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese presented by Cardinal Jaime L. Sin upon having reached the age limit.

- Accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Calahorra y La Calzada-Logrono, Spain presented by Bishop Ramon Bua Otero in accordance with Canon 401, para. 2, of the Code of Canan Law.

On Saturday September 13 it was made public that the Holy Father:

- Accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Lucena, the Philippines presented by Bishop Ruben T. Profugo in accordance with Canon 401, para. 2, of the Code of Canan Law. Coadjutor Bishop Emilio Z. Marquez succeeds him.

- Appointed Bishop Camilo D. Gregorio, emeritus of Bacolod, the Philippines as bishop of the Prelature of Batanes (area 784, population 31,474, Catholics 14,384, priests 8, religious 10), the Philippines.

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Friday, September 12, 2003


VATICAN CITY, SEP 11, 2003 (VIS) - This afternoon at 5 p.m. the Holy Father travelled 60 kilometers in the popemobile from the apostolic nunciature in Bratislava to the Cathedral of Trnava, dedicated to St. John the Baptist. The first sacred monument of the Baroque style in the country, it has been a metropolitan cathedral since 1977 and can accommodate approximately 400 people.

Trnava is one of the oldest Slovak cities and has had an important role in the country's history. It was born as a center of commerce on the crossroads between European commercial routes that join the Czech regions with Hungary and the Balkans, and the Mediterranean countries with the Baltic Sea. It has been the regional capital since the last administrative reformation in 1996 and has more than 70,000 inhabitants.

After arriving at the cathedral, John Paul II prayed for a few minutes. He then said: "From this church, mother of all the churches in the diocese, I extend my affectionate greetings to all the people of this territory and upon all of you I invoke the Lord's grace and blessing."

Speaking about St. John the Baptist, the Pope said that he is "the man who lives in a solitude full of God's presence. ... I encourage you dear Brothers and Sisters to nourish within yourselves the sense of God's presence by listening to His Word, by prayer, by the celebration of the Sacraments, by service to your brothers and sisters. In this way you will become in your everyday life, like John the Baptist, heralds and witnesses to the loving and saving presence of God in today's world."

After the visit, the Holy Father returned to the apostolic nunciature in Bratislava to spend the night.



VATICAN CITY, SEP 12, 2003 (VIS) - The following telegram was sent to Prime Minister Goran Persson of Sweden by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, secretary of State, in the Holy Father's name upon learning of the killing of the country's foreign minister:

"His Holiness Pope John Paul II was saddened to learn of the violent death of Anna Lindh, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and he sends heartfelt condolences to the Government, Ms. Lindh's family and the entire nation. Commending the Minister's soul to the benevolent mercy of Almighty God His Holiness invokes the divine gifts of consolation and strength upon all who mourn her passing.
"I add the expression of my own personal sympathy on this sad occasion and assure you of my prayers."



VATICAN CITY, SEP 12, 2003 (VIS) - Today at 1:45 p.m. the Holy Father ate lunch in the seminary of Banska Bystrica with bishops from the Slovak Episcopal Conference - which commemorates the 10th anniversary of its constitution on September 15 - and with cardinals and bishops from his entourage. At present there are 19 Slovak bishops: 9 ordinary, 7 auxiliary, 1 coadjutor and 2 emeritus. There are two cardinals: Jan Chryzostom Korec, S.J., bishop of Nitra and Jozef Tomko, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

In a message that he gave them at the end of the gathering, the Pope writes: "The Church of God in Slovakia, after the dark days of persecution and silence, during which it offered a shining witness of faithfulness to the Gospel, has been able in these last years to take up again its activities and to provide itself with those structures that are necessary for the free exercise of its mission."

"You are committed overall," he continues, "to the renewal of Christian life at different levels. The results we are seeing are comforting. Many people have rediscovered the evangelic courage to declare openly their Catholic faith. ... The apostolic work ' carried out under your guidance by so many zealous priests, religious men and women, and committed lay people ' is bearing fruits."

"I exhort you to continue courageously along the path you have begun. Human and spiritual formation, together with an adequate cultural preparation, must be the object of special concern in seminaries and religious houses so as to offer to the Church and to the world priests and consecrated persons who can be humble and ardent apostles of the Gospel. ... The urgent task of promoting a new flowering of priestly and religious vocations is to be undertaken. In fact, the future of the Church in Slovakia depends on this."

John Paul II asks the bishops to take special care of the family, "the temple of love and life. Proclaim and defend the unity and indissolubility of marriage. Look with love on young people who are the present and future of the Church and society. Cultivate an open dialogue with the world of culture."

"Take care of the weak and the poor. ... With pastoral solicitude, be close to the unemployed. Take upon yourselves their difficult situation and encourage all areas of society to seek possible ways to create new jobs."

The Holy Father concludes: "The Pope knows that the Episcopal ministry brings with it thorns and crosses that often remain hidden in the secret of the heart. But he also knows, as do you, that in the mysterious design of Providence, these sufferings are the guarantee of fruitfulness of an apostolate that, with God's help, will produce abundant results. Do not become discouraged! Do not let yourselves be overcome by difficulties and fatigue. Rely always on the support of God's grace."

The Pope is scheduled to leave the seminary in late afternoon, before which he will greet some seminarians as well as a group of representatives from other Churches and Christian confessions in the country and seminarians. Later he will return to Bratislava by plane to spend the night in the apostolic nunciature.



VATICAN CITY, SEP 12, 2003 (VIS) - The Holy Father flew this morning from Bratislava to Banska Bystrica, 190 kilometers northeast of the capital and then travelled by car to National Risorgimento Square where he concelebrated Mass at 10:30 a.m. Catholics were joined in the celebration for the memorial of the Holy Name of Mary by Christians of other Protestant ecclesial communities.

The Pope remarked that "the place where we are assembled is especially meaningful in the history of your city. It calls to mind the respect and devotion of your ancestors towards Almighty God and the Blessed Virgin Mary. At the same time it recalls the attempt to profane this precious inheritance, perpetrated by a bleak regime of not so many years ago. To all of this the column of the Blessed Virgin Mary is a silent witness."

He then referred to the Gospel passage where Mary "speaks to the Angel Gabriel who communicates to her God's call to become the mother of His Son. The Incarnation of the Word is the decisive moment in that 'project' made known by God from the beginning of human history, after the first sin. His will is to communicate to mankind His very life, by calling men and women to become his children. This call awaits the response of each person. God does not impose salvation; he proposes it as an initiative of love, to which one must reply by free choice, prompted by love."

What is the lesson for us in Mary's immediate willingness to obey the Lord, asked the Pope. "Mary shows us the path towards a mature freedom. In our days, many baptized Christians have not yet made the faith their own in an adult and conscious way. They call themselves Christians and yet they do not respond in a fully responsible way to the grace they have received; they still do not know what they want and why they want it."

"This is the lesson to be learned today: an education to freedom is urgently needed. Especially in the family, parents must educate their children to a correct freedom, so as to prepare them to respond properly to God's call. The family is the nursery where the little plants, the new generations, are nurtured. In the family the future of the Nation is forged."

"Mary believes and therefore she says 'yes'. Her faith becomes life; it becomes a commitment to God, Who fills her with Himself through her divine motherhood. It becomes a commitment to her neighbour, who awaits her help in the person of her cousin Elizabeth."

"My dear Brothers and Sisters," John Paul II concluded, "let us make room for God! In the variety and richness of diverse vocations, each one is called, like Mary, to accept God into one's own life and to travel along the paths of the world with Him, proclaiming His Gospel and bearing witness to His love."


Thursday, September 11, 2003


VATICAN CITY, SEP 11, 2003 (VIS) - Pope John Paul departed Rome at 9:30 this morning on his 102nd foreign apostolic trip, a four-day pastoral visit to the Slovak Republic. After a flight of 1 hour, 40 minutes, he landed in Bratislava, a city of 428,672 inhabitants situated on the Danube River. Bratislava became the capital of the newly independent Slovakia in 1993.

The Holy Father was welcomed at Bratislava's airport by civil, religious and military officials whom he greeted, as well as "all the sons and daughters of Slovakia, together with the representatives of national minorities and of other religions." He said he "would like to meet and speak with each and every one of you, to call on every family, to visit your beautiful land, and to meet all the ecclesial communities of this beloved Nation."

"The civil and religious history of Slovakia," he noted, "has been written with the contribution of heroic and dynamic witnesses of the Gospel. My wish is to pay grateful tribute to them all. I am thinking of course of the glorious brothers from Thessalonika, Saints Cyril and Methodius, the Apostles of the Slavic peoples. I also remember all who generously served God and their fellow men and women, who have distinguished these regions with their virtues. To these we now add Bishop Vasil' Hopko and Sister Zdenka Schelingova. Next Sunday I will have the joy of enrolling them among the Blessed."

Pope John Paul pointed out that "in the near future your country will become a full member of the European Community. Dearly beloved, bring to the construction of Europe's new identity the contribution of your rich Christian tradition! Do not be satisfied with the sole quest for economic advantages. Great affluence in fact can also generate great poverty. Only by building up, not without sacrifices and difficulties, a society respectful of human life in all its expressions, that promotes the family as a place of reciprocal love and growth of persons, that seeks the common good and is attentive to the needs of the weakest, will there be a guarantee of a future based on solid foundations and rich in goods for all."

The Pope read the first and last parts of his address in Slovak, whereas a priest read the rest. Holy See Press Office Director Joaquin Navarro-Valls, speaking with journalists, said: "Notwithstanding the fact that the Pope wanted to continue reading his speech, it seems logical to me that if the effort involved in this trip can be somewhat alleviated, that should be done." He also noted that this is not the first time the Holy Father has not completed a speech, adding that it is, however, probably the first time it has occurred during a welcome ceremony.

Following the ceremony, the Pope went to the apostolic nunciature in Bratislava where, at 12:30, he met with the country's president, Rudolf Schuster. Afterwards he welcomed, in separate audiences, the president of the Slovak National Council, Pavol Hrusovsky, and Prime Minister Mikulas Zurinda.

Pope John Paul had previously visited Bratislava in 1990 when it was part of Czechoslovakia. On January 1, 1993, in a peaceful change, Czechoslovakia became two independent nations, the Czech and the Slovak Republics. The Holy Father once again visited Slovakia June 30 to July 3, 1995. On this present pilgrimage he will travel to the dioceses he has not yet visited.

The Holy Father's pastoral action for the Church in Slovakia since its independence has been noteworthy. He has appointed the two cardinals and all of the country's bishops; in 1995 he elevated the diocese of Kosice to archdiocese; in 1997 he erected the apostolic exarchate of Kosice for Catholic faithful of the Byzantine rite, and he has elevated many churches to the status of basilica. In 1980 the Pope created in Canada the Slovak diocese of the Byzantine rite of Sts. Cyril and Methodius, and in 1997 in Rome he founded the Pontifical Slovak College of Sts. Cyril and Methodius.



VATICAN CITY, SEP 11, 2003 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

- Accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Oruro, Bolivia presented by Bishop Braulio Saez Garcia, O.C.D., in conformity with canon 401, para 2 of the Code of Canon Law.

- Appointed Bishop Braulio Saez Garcia, O.C.D., of Oruro, Bolivia as auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia.

- Appointed Bishop Isaac Mar Cleemis Thottunkal, auxiliary of Trivandrum, India, as bishop of Tiruvalla of the Syro-Malankars (area 31,500, population 13,145,970, Catholics 56,176, priests 185, religious 393), India.

Wednesday, September 10, 2003


VATICAN CITY, SEP 10, 2003 (VIS) - The Holy Father received today in audience Archbishop Francisco Javier Lozano, apostolic nuncio in Croatia.

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VATICAN CITY, SEP 10, 2003 (VIS) - This morning the Pope came from Castelgandolfo by car to the Vatican where at 10:30 a.m. the general audience took place in St. Peter's Square. The theme of this Wednesday's catechesis was the Canticle of Ezekiel, "God will renew His people."

Commenting on this hymn, John Paul II said that the prophet Ezekiel "was a witness of one of the most tragic periods experienced by the Jewish people: the collapse of the reign of Judah and the capital Jerusalem, followed by the bitter event of the Babylonian exile."

"The context of this page," he said, "transformed into a hymn from the liturgy, demonstrates the profound meaning of the tragedy which the people underwent in those years. ... But God is not indifferent to good and evil; He enters mysteriously on the scene of humanity's history with His judgement which, sooner or later, discovers evil, defends victims and indicates the path of justice."

The Holy Father indicated that "the aim of God's action is never ruin, pure and simple condemnation, destruction of the sinner. ... In fact, humanity is destined to be born into a new life. ... Our 'heart of stone', cold and insensitive, a sign of the obstinacy of evil, will be torn from our chest. God will give us instead a 'heart of flesh', font of life and love. In this way," he concluded, "a 'new life' will emerge ... of new creatures, transformed by the Spirit of the Risen Christ."

After greeting pilgrims in different languages at the end of the audience the Pope noted that tomorrow he begins "with great hope" his third apostolic trip to Slovakia, "a land enriched by the testimony of the heroic disciples of Christ who left eloquent footprints of sanctity in the history of the Nation. I invite you to join me in prayer. I entrust this apostolic trip to the Mother of the Redeemer, so venerated in Slovakia. May she guide my steps and obtain for the Slovakian people a renewed springtime of faith and civil progress."

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