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Friday, April 11, 2003


VATICAN CITY, APR 10, 2003 (VIS) - This afternoon, in a rain-soaked St. Peter's Square, thousands of young people from the diocese of Rome participated in a get-together with the Pope which included prayer and celebration in preparation for the 18th World Youth Day which will take place this Sunday.

Before the Pope's arrival, several youths offered testimony and sang.

Throughout his speech, John Paul II was interrupted many times by applause as he joked with the young people especially about the inclement weather. Referring to the theme of this year's World Youth Day, "Behold your Mother", the Holy Father said that "to welcome Mary in one's home, in one's life, is the privilege of every one of the faithful. Especially in difficult moments, which at times you young people experience in this period of your life."

"Today, for these reasons," he went on, "I entrust you to Mary. Dear young people, I tell you from experience, open the doors of your life to her! And do not be afraid to throw open the doors of your heart to Christ."

"I entrust you to Mary while you are already on your way to World Youth Day in Cologne" which will be celebrated in 2005. "I also would like for this World Youth Day to be prepared, starting today, with constant prayer which should be offered by the whole Church and, in particular, in Italy from four significant places: the Marian shrines of Loreto and Our Lady of the Rosary of Pompeii; here in Rome at the St. Lawrence Youth Center, ... and at the Church of St. Agnes in Agony."

The Pope indicated that "in this difficult moment in history, while terrorism and wars threaten harmony among men and religions, I wish to consecrate you to Mary so that you may be promoters of the culture of peace which today is more necessary than ever."

He then underscored that "tomorrow, April 11, is the 40th anniversary of the publication of Blessed John XXIII's Encyclical 'Pacem in terris'. By committing ourselves to building peace on the four pillars of truth, justice, love and freedom - as he taught us in 'Pacem in terris' - it will be possible to re-establish cooperation among nations and to harmonize the diverse and contrasting interests of cultures and institutions."

"In order to implore God for the gift of peace through prayer, I would like to give you a rosary this afternoon. ... Carry it with you at all times! The rosary, prayed with intelligent devotion, will help you to absorb the mystery of Christ in order to learn from Him the secret of peace and how to make it a life-long project." Each young person received a rosary as they entered St. Peters Square this afternoon.

In conclusion, the Holy Father performed a solemn act of consecration of the young people to Mary, during which the youth raised their rosaries in unison. He then blessed and handed out 18 rosaries to a group of young people from the 18 dioceses of the Italian region of Lazio, which includes the Pope's diocese of Rome.

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VATICAN CITY, APR 11, 2003 (VIS) - Today the program of the Pope's apostolic trip to Spain, scheduled for May 3 - 4, was made public.

After a two and a half hour plane ride from Rome's Fiuimicino Airport, the Holy Father will land at Barajas International Airport in Madrid at noon where he will speak during a welcome ceremony. At 5:30 p.m., he is scheduled to meet with the president of the government at the apostolic nunciature and at 6:45 p.m. to participate in a gathering with young people at the 'Cuatro Vientos' Air Base.

On Sunday May 4 at 10 a.m., he will celebrate Mass in the Plaza de Colon (Columbus Square) and will canonize Blesseds Pedro Poveda Castroverde, Jose Maria Rubio y Peralta, Genoveva Torres Morales, Angela de la Cruz and Maria Maravillas de Jesus. At 1:45 p.m. the Pope will have lunch with the cardinals and members of the Spanish Episcopal Conference, as well as cardinals and bishops from his entourage. At 5 p.m. he is scheduled to meet with the king and queen in the nunciature and at 6:15 p.m. a farewell ceremony will take place. The papal plane will leave Madrid at 6:45 p.m. and it is scheduled to arrive in Rome at 8:15 p.m.

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VATICAN CITY, APR 11, 2003 (VIS) - The International Conference for World Youth Day, which has brought together over 280 youth leaders from around the world, representing dioceses, and ecclesial movements and associations, began its second day of meetings this morning in Rome's Domus Mariae residence and conference center. Last evening the youth leaders joined Rome's young people in pre-World Youth Day festivities with Pope John Paul in St. Peter's Square. The 18th World Youth Day (WYD) is this coming Palm Sunday.

Following a Eucharistic celebration this morning, the plenary session was held which focussed in World Youth Day 2005 which will be held in Germany. Bishop Stanislaw Rylko, secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, the conference organizer, gave an introduction to Germany. He spoke on the Catholic Church in Germany, the archdiocese of Cologne, and the significance of WYD for Germany.

At 11:15 there were various workshops according to language groups. Participants exchanged ideas and made suggestions about the pastoral and spiritual preparation for the 2005 WYD.

This afternoon the first plenary session will be dedicated to presentations by the work groups. During a second plenary, the German organizing committee will be introduced and information and plans for the 2005 WYD, as they have been developed so far, will be presented. Tonight at 7, a reception is planned at the German Embassy to the Holy See.

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VATICAN CITY, APR 11, 2003 (VIS) - Archbishop Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, this morning welcomed Poupeh Mahdvinader to the Rome offices of the council. Mahdvinader is a 29-year old Muslim social worker from Iran, who is travelling around the world, via bicycle and on foot, to bring to the people of the nations she visits a message of peace and friendship among peoples. She is also collecting funds to use for orphans.
A communique from the council notes that the Iranian cyclist hopes to leave St. Peter's Square next week and to travel by bicycle through Italy, France and England. She intends to fly to the United States, cross it on a bike, fly to Japan, where she will travel on foot and then, via plane and ship, travel to New Zealand, China, India, and Oman. She will conclude her pilgrimage in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

The council communique adds that Mahdvinader, whose work in Iran is dedicated to assisting orphans, is undertaking this "humanitarian adventure," expected to last one year, as a personal and private initiative. Her motto is "Love, friendship and global peace."

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VATICAN CITY, APR 11, 2003 (VIS) - The Holy Father this morning received the Sisters of the Poor of St. Catherine of Siena, who are meeting in their General Chapter on the theme "A Gift to Give, the Charismatic Face of the Sister of the Poor."

The Pope said that "the rich charismatic legacy that Blessed Savina Petrilli left you represents a providential 'talent' to be made fruitful in the Church and the world. Your foundress, whom the Lord allowed me to beatify 15 years ago, consecrated herself to God and to the neediest of our brothers, having been inspired by the four great loves of St. Catherine of Siena: the Eucharist, the Crucifix, the Church and the poor. Always ready to answer the needs of our brothers, she did not hesitate, 100 years ago, to go to Latin America. Following in her luminous wake, her spiritual daughters have extended their presence to include Asia."

The Holy Father remarked that their theme "underlines the urgency of pursuing this spiritual and missionary action, without ever losing sight of the charismatic intuition of Blessed Savina Petrilli. Being sisters of the poor - she observed - involved the commitment to never abandon 'the poor whom God gave us as brothers'."

"Seeing Christ in the face of every needy person: this is the teaching that your Foundress repeats to you today, recalling, as she often did with the first Sisters, that 'everything is too little for Jesus'.

The Pope urged the Sisters of the Poor to educate hearts to love, to be heroic in charity, and to be "available to welcome every person, whatever poverty they represent. Joining 'contemplation to action', pursue, dear Sisters, your ecclesial service, which flourishes in prayer as "the flower from the root'. In our time it is more than ever necessary to reaffirm the primacy of listening to God and of contemplation."

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VATICAN CITY, APR 11, 2003 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Msgr. Antonio Marino, spiritual director of the Major Seminary in Buenos Aires, Argentina, as auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese of La Plata (area 4,652, population 763,115, Catholics 648,647, priests 142, permanent deacons 5, religious 476), Argentina. The bishop-elect was born in Buenos Aires in 1942 and was ordained a priest in 1971.

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VATICAN CITY, APR 10, 2003 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

- Rev. Christian Krause, bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Germany and president of the World Lutheran Federation, accompanied by his wife and an entourage.

- Bishop Elio Sgreccia, vice-president of the Pontifical Academy for Life.

- Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

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VATICAN CITY, APR 11, 2003 (VIS) - Joaquin Navarro-Valls, director of the Holy See Press Office, stated today at noon that "The Holy Father John Paul II will make an apostolic trip to Croatia from June 5 to 9 and will visit the cities of Rijeka, Dubrovnik, Osijek and Djakovo, and Zadar."

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