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Tuesday, May 13, 2003


VATICAN CITY, MAY 13, 2003 (VIS) - This Sunday, May 18, the fifth Sunday of Easter, John Paul II will celebrate Mass in St. Peter's Square at 10 a.m. and will canonize four Blesseds.

The future saints are: Jozef Sebastian Pelczar, bishop and founder of the Congregation of the Servants of the Sacred Heart of Jesus; Urszula Ledochowska, virgin and foundress of the Ursuline Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Agony; Maria de Mattias, virgin and foundress of the Congregation of the Sisters, Adorers of the Blood of Christ; Virginia Centurione Bracelli, lay person and foundress of the Sisters of Our Lady of Refuge on Calvary and of the Religious Daughters of Our Lady on Calvary.

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 13, 2003 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received eight bishops of the Syro-Malankara Church, who are in Rome on their "ad limina" visit and, in his talk to them in English, recalled that Pope Pius XI received their forefathers into full communion just over seventy years ago.

"You have become one of the fastest growing Catholic communities in the world," the Pope noted, "boasting large numbers of vocations to the priesthood and religious life, and your 'pusillus grex' is home to many educational and welfare institutions. The new Law of Christ which compels us to go beyond the boundaries of family, race, tribe or nation is concretely manifested in your generosity to others."

He affirmed that "the people of India rightly take pride in their rich cultural and spiritual heritage, expressed in the innate characteristics of 'contemplation, simplicity, harmony, detachment, non-violence, discipline, frugal living, the thirst for learning and philosophical enquiry' which distinguish those living on the subcontinent. These same traits permeate the Syro-Malankara community, allowing the Church to 'communicate the Gospel in a way which is faithful both to her own traditions and to the Asian soul'."

"At a moment of growing secularism and, at times, of blatant disregard for the sanctity of human life," underlined the Holy Father, "bishops are called to remind the people by their preaching and teaching of the need for an ever deeper reflection on moral and social issues. The Syro-Malankara presence in the fields of education and social services places you in an excellent position to prepare all men and women of good will to face these issues in a truly human manner."

He went on to say that "responding to this challenge in a proper fashion necessitates an inculturation of Christian ethics at all levels of human society; this is a difficult and delicate task. ... Your long experience as a small community of Christians in a predominately non-Christian land has prepared you to become ... 'leaven', a fitting instrument of transformation, ... that requires an intimate change of cultural values through integration into Christianity and subsequent insertion into the various human cultures."

John Paul II then highlighted the need for well-formed and spiritually vibrant priests and religious, stating that "properly trained ambassadors of Christ are necessary for this ministry of 'building up the Church'. For this reason bishops must work unceasingly to identify and encourage young people to answer the call to the priesthood and the religious life. ... Your strong leadership will do much to encourage religious communities to persevere in their edifying example as witnesses to Christ's joy."



VATICAN CITY, MAY 13, 2003 (VIS) - The bishops of the Syro- Malabar Church of India were welcomed today by the Pope as they concluded their "ad limina" visit. In his talk to them in English the Pope noted that "the origins of your Church are directly linked with the dawn of Christianity and the missionary efforts of the Apostles," and added: "The Liturgy of the Syro-Malabar Church, for centuries a part of India's rich and varied culture, is the most vivid expression of your peoples' identity."

He underscored that "since 'the Eucharist ... is the most precious possession which the Church can have in her journey through history', I exhort you to guard and renew this treasure with great care, never allowing it to be used as a source of division. ... As the primary custodians of the liturgy, you are called at all times to be vigilant to protect against unwarranted experimentation by individual priests which violates the integrity of the liturgy itself and can also cause great harm to the faithful."

Turning to the issue of the pastoral care of Oriental Catholics in India and abroad, the Holy Father said this "continues to be of concern to the Catholic Bishops Conference of India and to the Syro-Malabar Synod. Here, I wish to emphasize the 'urgent need to overcome the fears and misunderstandings which appear at times between the Eastern Churches and the Latin Church ... especially with regard to the pastoral care of their people also outside their own territory'," he said, quoting "Ecclesia in Asia." "I am certain that you will continue to work closely with your Brother Bishops of the Latin Rite and the Holy See to ensure that Syro-Malabars throughout India and the world receive the spiritual support they deserve in strict respect for canonical dispositions which are, as we know, appropriate means for the preservation of ecclesial communion."

"Charity urges every Christian to go forth proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth," affirmed John Paul II. "Authentic evangelization is sensitive to local culture and custom, always respecting the 'inalienable right' of each and every person to religious freedom. Here the principle remains valid: 'The Church proposes, she imposes nothing'." He told the bishops that openness to their brothers and sisters of other religions "can never diminish the obligation to proclaim Jesus Christ as the way, and the truth and the life'."

The Pope said he joined the bishops "in giving thanks that your Eparchies have been blessed with so many priests and religious. ... The burden of your pastoral mission could not be fulfilled without the clergy, your co-workers in the sacred ministry. ... Your necessary reliance on your priests compels you to foster a strong bond with them. They are your sons and friends. ... Likewise, the Religious in your care are members of your family. The witness borne by so many men and women consecrated to lives of chastity, poverty and obedience stands as a true sign of contradiction in a nation which is becoming increasingly secularized."

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 13, 2003 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience five prelates of the Syro-Malankara rite from India on their "ad limina" visit:

- Bishop Geevarghese Divannasios Ottathengil of Battery.

- Bishop Yoohanon Chrysostom Kalloor of Marthandom.
- Bishop Thomas Koorilos Chakkalapadickal, eparch of Muvattapuzha.

- Bishop Geevarghese Timotheos Chundevalel, emeritus of Tiruvalla, accompanied by Msgr. Stephen Thottathil, diocesan administrator.

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 13, 2003 (VIS) - Archbishop Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, is in Cotonou, Benin where he spoke this morning at the opening of a conference entitled "Political Stability and Development: The Contribution of the Social Doctrine of the Church." His talk focussed on "The Catholic Church's Concern for Development, Justice and Peace." The three-day meeting was organized by the Adenauer Foundation and by the Institute of Artisans of Justice and Peace of Cotonou.

According to a communique published by the council, Archbishop Martino noted that "development cannot be built on conflicts, discrimination, rancor, exclusion, nor on the force of arms. It calls for agreement, solidarity, the joining of efforts, attention to one's neighbor, justice amd respect for the dignity of the person and of his rights."

He also spoke of the serious problem of the causes of the conflicts which have covered the African continent with blood, stating that one of these causes lies in the greed for the resources that are so abundant in the African soil and subsoil. "Such riches are coveted by interest groups that exploit the breadth and the permanent nature of the conflicts for dirty commerce, paying bribes to the leaders of producing countries. There is need for greater solidarity, greater justice, greater participation in the administration of these resources." Another cause, he said, is exclusion which takes the form of ethnic discrimination and racial hatred.

The archbishop also pointed to the question of international debt, saying that there is a need for the sums that have been freed up by the remission of debt to be invested in priority sectors such as health, education and other social services.



VATICAN CITY, MAY 13, 2003 (VIS) - A delegation of representatives from the episcopal conferences of Italy, Spain, France, Austria, Switzerland and the United States of America, headed by Archbishop Paul J. Cordes, president of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum," is visiting Colombia from May 12 to 19 to deliver a message from the Holy Father.

During their stay, according to a communique made public today, the delegation will meet with representatives from the Episcopal Conference of Colombia as well as with Alvaro Uribe Velez, president of the republic, Michael Fruling, the United Nations representative for human rights in Colombia and representatives of the U. N. High Commissioner for Refugees. On Saturday May 17 there will be a special Eucharistic celebration in Bojaya in memory of the victims of the massacre in the Church of Bella Vista which occurred one year ago.

"The indications of the Holy Father on the building of a civilization of love and above all cooperation among institutions of the State and Church in order to combat injustice, poverty, violence, will comprise," the communique concludes, "the two main themes that the bishops will address in the different meetings."

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 13, 2003 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed:

- Msgr. Francesco Di Muzio, of the personal prelature of Opus Dei, as bureau chief of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

- Fr. Volodymyr Viytyshyn, dean of Tlumach, bursar and judicial vicar of the eparchy of Kolomyia-Chernivtsi (area, 14,095, population 1,384,500, Catholics 240,960, priests 188, religious 2) Ukraine, as coadjutor bishop of the same ecclesial circumscription. The bishop-elect was born in Demydivka, Ukraine in 1959, studied clandestinely for the priesthood and was ordained clandestinely in 1982.

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