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Wednesday, May 14, 2003


VATICAN CITY, MAY 14, 2003 (VIS) - The following telegram, published yesterday afternoon, was sent by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, secretary of state, in the name of the Holy Father, to Bishop Leonard Dhejju of Bunia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, upon the killing of two priests in that country:

"Very upset by the dramatic events that caused the deaths of Fathers Francois Xavier Cateso and Aime Ndjabu of the parish of Nyakasanza, the Holy Father entrusts the deceased, as well as all persons who have been killed in the same circumstances, to the infinite mercy of the God of love and peace. He wishes to express his great sympathy to you and he asks you to assure the families of the victims, as well as the Christians of the parish in Nyakasanza, of his prayers. The Pope invites everyone to commit themselves each day to following Christ by refusing violence, which is a path without a future, and to build a lasting peace founded on justice and respect for persons. As a sign of his comfort, His Holiness imparts his apostolic blessing to all persons touched by this mourning."



VATICAN CITY, MAY 14, 2003 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

- Erected the new diocese of Velez (area 4,957.60, population 190,000, Catholics 171,000, priests 39, religious 51), Colombia, with territory taken from the diocese of Socorro y San Gil, making it a suffragan of the metropolitan Church of Bucaramanga.

- Appointed Fr. Luis Albeiro Cortes Rendon, rector of the Major Seminary of Pereira, Colombia, as the first bishop of Velez, Colombia. The bishop-elect was born in 1952 in Quimbaya, Colombia and was ordained a priest in 1978.

- Appointed Bishop Decio Zandonade, S.D.B., auxiliary of Belo Horizonte, Brazil, as bishop of Colatina (area 12,362, population 483,938, Catholics 387,312, priests 30, religious 76), Brazil.

- Appointed Fr. Daniel Bohan, episcopal vicar for the English-speaking faithful of the archdiocese of Moncton, Canada, as auxiliary bishop of Toronto (area 13,000, population 4,147,680, Catholics 1,420,395, priests 862, permanent deacons 129, religious 1,340), Canada. The bishop-elect was born in 1941 in Yarmouth, Canada and was ordained a priest in 1967.

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 14, 2003 (VIS) - Continuing with his catechesis on the psalms, in today's general audience, celebrated in St. Peter's Square, the Pope spoke about the Canticle of the Book of Daniel, "The Prayer of Azariah in the Furnace."

The canticle, said John Paul II before 25,000 persons, "is a prayer raised to the Lord with fervor and sincerity. It's the voice of Israel that is experiencing the hard trial of exile and diaspora among its peoples." Azariah, he continued, is condemned to death, along with two other faithful Jews, for not having renounced his faith.

"In this canticle, persecution is considered a just punishment with which God purifies sinful people. ... God is faithful and will fulfill His promises. Although justice requires Israel to be punished for its sins, there is certainty that the last word will be one of mercy and pardon."

The Holy Father went on to say that "the supplicant approaches the Lord, offering him the most precious and welcome sacrifice: 'a contrite heart' and a 'humble spirit'. It is precisely the center of our existence, the soul renewed by the sacrifice offered to the Lord so that He accepts it as a sign of conversion and consecration to good. With this interior disposition, there is no longer any fear, confusion and shame disappear and the spirit opens up to faith in a better future when the promises made to the fathers will be fulfilled."

"The final phrase of Azariah's prayer ... has a strong emotional impact and deep spiritual intensity: 'Now we follow you with all our heart, we fear you and we seek your face'. ... The moment has now come in which we abandon our evil and perverse ways, torturous paths and devious courses. We set out to follow the Lord moved by a desire to see His face."

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