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Monday, April 28, 2003


VATICAN CITY, APR 26, 2003 (VIS) - The Holy Father this morning welcomed three groups to the Paul VI Hall, addressing each in their own language. He spoke to 300 members of the Association of Italian Catholic Scouts, 800 executives from a Spanish banking group, and 1,250 members of Polish Catholic Action.

He told the scouting leaders that he had "always admired the youthful enthusiasm that marked them as well as the ardent desire to faithfully follow the Gospel. Scouting was born as an educational path with its own method that fascinates children, adolescents, and young people and gives adults concrete opportunities to become educators." He added that the Church looks at this association with hope "because it is necessary to offer the new generations the opportunity to have personal experiences of Christ (in their lives)."

The Pope urged the leaders to create "dynamic and constructive relationships with the many lay groups that enrich the ecclesial community. You can actively cooperate with them to build a new society founded on justice, freedom, truth and love." He counselled them "to never fail to give the fascinating activity of scouting its daily nourishment of listening to the Word of God, prayer and an intense sacramental life."

John Paul II then addressed executives of the Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria, who had come to Rome from Spain and Latin America on a pilgrimage. He told them that their work of collaborating in economic development "when well oriented, favors peaceful coexistence with citizens and allows for a life that is in accord with human dignity." Man should always, he added, be "the author, center and goal of all economic and social life."
"I wish to remind you," the Pope went on, "that interest in money, while legitimate, cannot be the principal motive or even the exclusive one of entrepreneurial or commercial activity, because such activity must take into account human factors and is subordinate to the moral exigencies proper to all human action."

He concluded by urging them to bring "the Christian commitment into the sphere of your activities, witnessing with words and deeds to the teachings of the ecclesial Magisterium on social matters."

Greeting his fellow countrymen in Polish, the Pope spoke of the long history of Catholic Action in the world, noting that it was re-born only ten years ago in Poland when he asked the Polish bishops to restore in the Church this form of lay apostolate. He added that Catholic Action, in the 20th century "became a school of formation for the laity who were preparing to courageously face secularization which was becoming ever more widespread." This is true today as well, he said.

He encouraged the members of Catholic action to face "the challenges brought on by secularization in various sectors of social life. As witnesses to the Gospel, welcome this challenge in all milieux: in families, the work place, in schools or universities. Welcome it, aware that 'the laity derive the duty and the right to this apostolate by their very union with Christ, the Head. ... Duty and Right. Precisely like this: you have the duty and the right to convey the Gospel, to witness to its actuality for modern man and to light up the faith in those who are far from God. If the Church recognizes your right, if she sustains you in it, she also reminds you that this is your duty."

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VATICAN CITY, APR 26, 2003 (VIS) - Pope John Paul sent a Message to Giuliana Cavallini who, on the occasion of the European symposium on St. Catherine of Siena, was accorded a Plaque of Honor by the Academic Senate of the St. Thomas Pontifical University for "the merits you have acquired during your long life, spent for the most part in studying and spreading the thought of the saint from Siena, a patroness of Europe."

The award, noted the Pope, was conferred upon the request of the Council of the Theological Faculty of the university, also known as the Angelicum.

"As a devoted spiritual daughter of St. Catherine," the Holy Father wrote, "you have illustrated her doctrinal richness, thanks also to the support of the Congregation of the School Missionaries ... of which you are an active member. ... Your untiring cultural and scientific activity has gone beyond the confines of Italy and has aroused a wide echo and growing appreciation in the various countries where you are recognized as an internationally famous expert on St. Catherine."



VATICAN CITY, APR 27, 2003 (VIS) - Today, Divine Mercy Sunday, at the end of the Mass celebrated in St. Peter's Square, during which he beatified six Servants of God, the Holy Father greeted the pilgrims who had come for the beatifications, following which everyone prayed the Regina Coeli, the prayer that substitutes the Angelus during the Easter Season.

The Pope welcomed "the priests, religious and faithful who animate the Divine Mercy Spirituality Center, active for the last ten years here in Rome in the church of the Holy Spirit in Sassia."

"The Risen Jesus," stated John Paul II, "encounters the disciples in the Cenacle and to them he offers the Easter gift of peace and mercy. How well we understand, meditating on today's pages from Scripture, that true peace comes from a heart that is reconciled, that has felt the joy of pardon and is therefore ready to pardon. The Church, gathered today spiritually in prayer in the Cenacle, presents her Lord with the joys and hopes, the pains and anguish of the entire world. And it also offers, as an efficacious remedy, 'divine mercy', asking her ministers to become its generous and faithful servants."

He concluded by entrusting to Mary in a special way the Churches of the East that today celebrate the Easter of the Resurrection.

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VATICAN CITY, APR 27, 2003 (VIS) - Today, the Second Sunday of Easter, also known as Divine Mercy Sunday, John Paul II beatified six Italian Servants of God, saying that in each of them "the loving and surprising mercy of God was manifested in a different way."

The Pope said in his homily that Blessed Giacomo Alberione, priest and founder of the Pauline Family, "felt the need to make Jesus Christ, the way, truth and life, known 'to the men of our time with the means of our time', as he liked to say. ... May his spiritual sons and daughters maintain intact the spirit of their origins in order to correspond appropriately to the demands of evangelization in the world today."

Speaking about the priest of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin, Blessed Marco d'Aviano, the Holy Father emphasized that "this itinerant contemplative carried out a vast spiritual renewal on the streets of Europe thanks to courageous preaching as well as several miracles." The new blessed, he added, reminds the European continent "that its unity will more stable if it is based on its common Christian roots."

"It is surprising," he continued, "what God accomplished through Maria Cristina Brando", virgin and foundress of the Congregation of Expiatory Victims of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. "Her spirituality was an expiatory and eucharistic spirituality that is articulated ... as 'two branches that come from the same trunk': love for God and for neighbor."

John Paul II said that Blessed Eugenia Ravasco, virgin and foundress of the Congregation of the Daughters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, "dedicated herself entirely to spreading the love of the hearts of Jesus and Mary. Contemplating these two hearts, she was passionate about service to her neighbor and lived life with joy for the young and the poor."

When referring to Blessed Maria Domenica Mantovani, virgin and co-foundress of the Institute of the Little Sisters of the Holy Family, he said, "her way of always being faithful to the will of God, by whom she felt loved and called, until her last breath was extraordinary. What a beautiful example of holiness for every believer!"

The Holy Father concluded by saying that Blessed Guilia Salzano, virgin and foundress of the Catechist Sisters of the Sacred Heart, "was an apostle of the new evangelization, in which apostolic activity was united to prayer, offered continuously in a special way for the conversion of people who were 'indifferent'. This new blessed encourages us to persevere in the faith and never to lose confidence in God."

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VATICAN CITY, APR 26, 2003 (VIS) - The Holy Father appealed to Fidel Castro, president of the Council of State and of the Government of the Republic of Cuba, through a letter written by Cardinal Secretary of State Angelo Sodano, asking clemency for penalties inflicted on a number of Cuban dissidents.

That letter and an introductory text, which follow in their entirety, were released today by the Holy See Press Office.

"Having learned the news of the heavy penalties inflicted on a sizeable group of Cuban dissidents, including three condemned to die, the Holy Father has charged Cardinal Angelo Sodano, secretary of State, to express to the president of the Republic of Cuba, Fidel Castro, his deep pain for such a harsh sentence.

"In the letter, which we publish here, the secretary of State expresses the profound pain of Pope John Paul II for the three death penalties and the 'deep sorrow' of the Supreme Pontiff for the 'penalties imposed on many Cuban citizens', asking, in the end, the president of the Republic of Cuba for 'a significant gesture of clemency for those condemned'."
Cardinal Sodano's letter reads:

"Distinguished President,

"With the approaching Easter season, I am happy, in the first place, to express my best wishes to you and the entire Cuban nation.

"In addition, I am carrying out the important duty of communicating to you that the Holy Father felt deeply afflicted when he was informed of the harsh penalties imposed recently on numerous Cuban citizens and also for several who received the death penalty.

"In the face of these facts, His Holiness has charged me with asking Your Excellency to fully consider a meaningful gesture of clemency for those condemned to die, with the certainty that such an act will contribute to creating a climate of greater distension for the benefit of the beloved Cuban people.

"I am sure that you share with me the conviction that only a sincere and constructive encounter between citizens and civil authorities can guarantee the promotion of a modern and democratic State in a Cuba ever more united and fraternal.

"I welcome this occasion to assure you, Mr. President, of sentiments of my highest and most distinguished consideration."



VATICAN CITY, APR 28, 2003 (VIS) - Today the Holy Father received in separate audiences:
- Archbishop Angelo Comastri, prelate of Loreto and pontifical delegate for the Shrine of Loreto, and an entourage.

- Bishop Wilton Daniel Gregory of Belleville, U.S.A., president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, accompanied by Bishop William Stephen Skylstad of Spokane, U.S.A., Msgr. William P. Fay, and Sister Lourdes Sheehan, R.S.M, respectively vice-president, secretary general and associate secretary general of the same conference.

On Saturday April 26, the Holy Father received in audience:

- Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza, apostolic nuncio in Bulgaria.

- Nina Kovalska, ambassador of the Ukraine, on her farewell visit.

- Blanca Elida Zuccolillo de Rodriguez Alcala, ambassador of Paraguay, on her farewell visit.

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

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VATICAN CITY, APR 27, 2003 (VIS) - Today at noon in the Paul VI Hall, the Holy Father received in audience the pilgrims who participated yesterday in the beatifications of the Servants of God Giacomo Alberione, Marco D'Aviano, Maria Christina Brando, Eugenia Ravasco, Maria Domenica Mantovani and Guilia Salzano.

Recalling some aspects of the life of the blesseds, the Pope said that Fr. Giacomo Alberione, founder of the Pauline Family, "not only opened up the modern 'pulpits' of social communication to evangelization, but also conceived his work as an organic activity inside the Church and at its service."

The Holy Father asked Blessed Marco d'Aviano, priest of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin, "to protect Europe so that it may be able to build up its unity without neglecting its common Christian roots."

Addressing the spiritual daughters of Blessed Maria Cristina Brando, the Pope asked them to unite themselves to "Christ who sacrifices Himself for humanity in the Eucharist" and to spread "their love toward God in humble and daily service to needy brothers and sisters" while following the example of the foundress of the Congregation of the Expiatory Victims of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.

The Pope said that Blessed Eugenia Ravasco, foundress of the Congregation of the Daughters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, "became an ardent and untiring apostle, a zealous educator of youths, in particular of young girls, to whom she was not afraid to propose the high aims of Christian life."

Speaking about Blessed Maria Domenica Mantovani, co-foundress of the Institute of the Little Sisters of the Holy Family, John Paul II urged them to learn from her "how to respond promptly to the voice of God who calls every baptized person to aim for sanctity in the ordinary circumstances of every day life."

The Pope concluded by expressing the desire that the spiritual sons and daughters of Blessed Guilia Salzano, foundress of the Congregation of the Catechist Sisters of the Sacred Heart, follow "with joy the footsteps traced by their foundress, ready to face every sacrifice necessary to carry out the mission that God entrusts you."

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VATICAN CITY, APR 28, 2003 (VIS) - The pope today welcomed to the Vatican the new ambassador from the Czech Republic, Pavel Jajtner, as he presented his Letters of Credence.

The Pope, speaking English, noted that "the Church's diplomatic relations form a part of her mission of service to the human family. While that mission is eminently spiritual and therefore distinct from the political order, her heartfelt desire to foster fruitful relations with civil society stems from her long experience of seeking to apply the universal values pertaining to truth and love to the vast array of cultures and nations that constitute our world. Indeed, it is precisely the task of promoting an understanding of the dignity of the human person and fostering peace among peoples ' essential conditions for the authentic development of individuals and nations ' that motivates the Holy See's diplomatic activity."

Pointing to "the political freedom that the Czech people now enjoy," he added: "History teaches us that the journey from oppression to liberty is arduous, often marked by the lure of false forms of freedom and hollow promises of hope. While economic development and the accompanying social transformation have benefitted many in your country, the weaker members of society, particularly the poor, the marginalized, and the sick and elderly, must be protected.

"Authentic development can never be attained solely through economic means," John Paul II went on. "In fact what has become known as the 'idolatry of the market' ' a consequence of the so-called 'civilization of consumption' ' tends to reduce persons to things and to subordinate being to having. This seriously detracts from the dignity of the human person and makes promotion of human solidarity difficult at best. Instead, recognition of the spiritual nature of the human person and a renewed appreciation of the moral character of social and economic development must be acknowledged as prerequisites for the transformation of society into a true civilization of love."

The Holy Father remarked that, as the world enters the third millennium, countries, individuals and groups in Europe are reflecting on "the fundamental and defining role of Christianity in their particular cultures. Indeed, you yourself noted that the truths and values of Christianity have long been the foundation of the very fabric of European society, giving form to its civic and political institutions." He underscored the importance of Christian teaching that "vigorously affirms and defends the source of the human person's dignity and his place in God's design."

"In this context," Pope John Paul affirmed, "we cannot fail to be concerned that an eclipse of the sense of God has resulted in an eclipse of the sense of man and of the sublime wonder of life to which he is called. While the tragic calamities of war and dictatorship continue to disfigure violently God's loving plan for humanity, so too the more subtle encroachments of increasing materialism, utilitarianism, and marginalization of faith gradually undermine the true nature of life as a gift from God. As the nations of Europe move towards a new configuration, the desire to respond to the challenges of a changing world order must be informed by the Church's perennial proclamation of the truth which sets people free and which enables cultural and civic institutions to make genuine progress."



VATICAN CITY, APR 28, 2003 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Cardinal Julius Riyadi Darmaatmadja, archbishop of Jakarta, Indonesia, and Archbishop Juan Sandoval Iniguez of Guadalajara, Mexico, as members of the Pontifical Council for Culture.

On Saturday April 26 it was made public that the Holy Father:

- Appointed Cardinal Jozef Tomko, president of the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses, as his special envoy to the ceremony in which the relics of Blessed Teodor Rornzha will be relocated. This ceremony will take place in the Ukraine on June 28, 2003.

- Appointed Archbishop Adriano Bernardini, apostolic nuncio in Thailand, Singapore and Cambodia, as apostolic delegate in Myanmar, Laos, Malaysia and Brunei.

- Appointed Bishop Joseph Ngo Quang Kiet of Lang Son et Cao Bang, Vietnam as apostolic administrator "sede plena" of the archdiocese of Hanoi (area 7,000, population 6,000,000, Catholics 305,000, priests 49, religious 325), Vietnam.

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