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Monday, September 15, 2003


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."


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