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Friday, May 9, 2003


VATICAN CITY, MAY 9, 2003 (VIS) - This morning in the Paul VI Hall the Pope received 800 participants in the international congress promoted by the Pontifical Lateran University to commemorate the 25 years of his pontificate.

He recalled the three visits he has made as Pope to the Lateran University as well as his years as a professor at the universities of Krakow and Lublin: "The knowledge acquired then has been very useful for the pastoral ministries that I performed, first in Krakow and then, as Successor of Peter, in the service I continue to undertake for all the People of God. In every phase and stage of university life and of pastoral ministry, one of the basic reference points for me has been attention to the person, placed at the center of every philosophical and theological study."

"Thus," he continued, "I appreciate the fact that, to commemorate the 25 years of my pontificate, you wished to promote this meeting on the ever more current theme: 'The Church in the Service of Man', asking for the qualified and representative participation of members of the Roman Curia and the world of culture."

The Holy Father underscored that "perennial service to the 'truth' about man inspires all who are concerned that he know himself ever better and perceive, with growing awareness, the longing to meet Christ, the full realization of man. Here is a vast field of action for you who intend to contribute with missionary dynamism to selecting new paths for the evangelization of culture."

"Christ," he declared, "is the truth that makes free all who seek Him with sincerity and perseverance. He is the truth that the Church proclaims tirelessly in different ways, spreading the one Gospel of salvation to the ends of the earth and inculturating it into the various regions of the world."

The Pope concluded by asking all who work in and teach at the Lateran University to do so in such a manner that their "theological, philosophical and scientific research will help contemporary man to better perceive the nostalgia for God hidden in the innermost part of every soul."



VATICAN CITY, MAY 9, 2003 (VIS) - The itinerary for Pope John Paul's June 5-9 visit to Croatia, his 100th foreign apostolic trip, was published today.

On Thursday, June 5 at 3:30 p.m. the Holy Father will leave Rome for Rijeka, Croatia where he will arrive at 4:45. After the welcome ceremony at the airport on the island of Krk, he is scheduled to meet the president of the Republic in the archdiocesan seminary. The following day he will travel to Dubrovnik where he will celebrate Mass and beatify Sr. Marija Petkovic.

On Saturday, June 7, the Pope is scheduled to travel to Osijek where he will celebrate Mass, followed by a private visit to the cathedral of Djakovo. On Sunday, June 8, after presiding at a Eucharistic celebration and reciting the Angelus in the Rijeka Delta, he will meet with the bishops of Croatia and, later in the afternoon, with the prime minister.

On Monday, June 9, John Paul II will say Mass in private in the archdiocesan seminary of Rijeka after which he will travel by plane to Zadar where he will preside at a Liturgy of the Word. Following this he will go to the airport where there will be a farewell ceremony before he departs for Rome at 1:15 p.m.

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 9, 2003 (VIS) - Cardinal Secretary of State Angelo Sodano, in a speech yesterday to inaugurate an international congress at the Pontifical Lateran University, announced that the entire College of Cardinals has been called to Rome to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Pope John Paul's election to the papacy on October 16. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has already sent a letter to the world's cardinals, inviting them to Rome for the October 16 anniversary.

Cardinal Sodano was speaking at the congress "John Paul II: 25 Years of Pontificate. The Church in the Service of the world." The three-day meeting which began yesterday is one of three meetings organized by the Great Events Office of the Lateran University to celebrate the Holy Father's silver anniversary as Roman Pontiff.

He stated that "all the cardinals will come to Rome next October because it is a historic date, a date in which we all take great joy." He then added: "I am happy that the university chose the pontificate at the service of man as a central theme. This is one of the Pope's great missions: the defense of liberty, of man, of human rights and of the rights of women."

A second commemorative meeting at the Lateran University will be held from October 9 to 11 on the theme, "The Desire to Know the Truth. Theology and Philosophy Five Years after 'Fides et Ratio'." The third congress will take place November 20 to 22 and is entitled "Walking in Light. Perspectives in Moral Theology Ten Years after 'Veritatis splendor'." On October 14 the university will hold a solemn academic event during which the "Karol Wojtyla" Chair will be inaugurated at the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family.



VATICAN CITY, MAY 9, 2003 (VIS) - Made public today was a Message from Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue, to the world's Buddhists on the occasion of their annual feast of Vesakh.

Followers of the Theravada Buddhist tradition in Sri Lanka, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar will celebrate Vesakh, a moveable feast which marks important events in the life of Gautama Buddha, on May 14. On other countries where the Mahayana Buddhist tradition is followed (China, Japan and Korea), the events in his life are celebrated on different days.

This year's Message for Vesakh, released in English, Italian and French, is entitled "Buddhists and Christians: Praying for Peace in the World." Archbishop Fitzgerald noted that "this gesture of friendship, initiated in 1995 by my predecessor Cardinal Francis Arinze, has almost become a tradition." Following are excerpts from the 2003 Message:

"In this message, I would like to invite you, my dear Buddhist friends, to join in prayer for the cause of peace in the world. Observing the current international situation, we cannot but be aware of the acuteness of the question of peace in our world. Since the beginning of this new Millennium, marked by the dramatic events of 11 September 2001, we witness every day fresh scenes of bloodshed, violence, confrontation and crisis in almost all parts of the world. In the midst of this grave situation, we cannot lead our lives without committing ourselves to advancing the cause of peace in the world.

"We Christians and Buddhists are convinced that the origin of all conflict is ultimately located in human hearts characterized by selfish desire, specifically by desire for power, domination and wealth often at the expense of others. ... For us, therefore, the most fundamental and efficient way to advance peace is to do our best to see that the deep-rooted selfishness of human hearts is overcome, so that people may be transformed into true artisans of peace.

"Pope John Paul II has proclaimed the year from October 2002 to October 2003 the Year of the Rosary of the Virgin Mary. He has earnestly encouraged the frequent recitation of the Rosary in order to pray for peace in the world."

"My Buddhists friends, is it not a wonderful coincidence that you also have a lengthy tradition of using the Mala for prayer? The Rosary for Catholics and the Mala for Buddhists are simple yet profound and meaningful prayer, despite essential differences in their form and content, based on our distinct doctrines and practices. ... For Buddhists, the Mala is used to overcome the 108 sinful desires in order to reach the state of Nirvana. By virtue of their meditative character, these two prayers have in common a calming effect on those who pray them; they lead them to experience and to work for peace, and they produce fruits of love."

"I am convinced that by persevering in prayer we will contribute to advancing peace in the world both now and in the future."



VATICAN CITY, MAY 9, 2003 (VIS) - The Holy Father received the following today in separate audiences:

- Four prelates of the Syro-Malabar rite of India, in their "ad limina" visit:

- Bishop Jacob Manathodath of Palghat.

- Bishop Simon Stock Palathara, C.M.I. of Jagdalpur.

- Bishop Thomas Elavanal, M.C.B.S. of Kalyan.

- Bishop George Alencherry of Thuckalay.

- Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and pontifical legate for the celebrations of St. Stanislaw in Krakow, Poland, with Archbishop Angelo Amato, congregation secretary.

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