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Friday, May 16, 2003


VATICAN CITY, MAY 16, 2003 (VIS) - Cardinal Angelo Sodano, secretary of State, left today for a four-day visit to Kazakhstan following an invitation by Nursultan Nazarbayev, president of the Republic, and other officials. The purpose of the trip is to commemorate the apostolic pilgrimage that the Holy Father made to Astana, the country's capital, in 2001.

Tomorrow, Saturday May 17, the cardinal secretary of State will make an official visit to the president, celebrate Mass in the Cathedral of Astana and will meet with priests, religious and other members of the capital's Catholic community. In addition, he is scheduled to visit an Orthodox church and a mosque.

On Sunday May 18 in the city of Karaganda, Cardinal Sodano will preside at a solemn Eucharistic celebration. He will also bless the first stone of the new Cathedral and will visit a seminary dedicated to "Mary Queen of the Church."

The cardinal secretary of State is scheduled to celebrate Mass in Karaganda on Monday May 19 and to meet with priests and religious who work in the diocese. Before his departure for Rome, he will visit a Greek Catholic Church and a monastery of Discalced Carmelites.

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 16, 2003 (VIS) - Pope John Paul this morning welcomed 150 participants in the general assembly of the Superior Council of National Directors of the Pontifical Missionary Works, including Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, the congregation to which the Missionary Works are entrusted.

In his talk to the directors, the Pope highlighted their mission of "showing the Pope's concern for all Churches" and of "promoting and sustaining missionary ardor in all the People of God," with special efforts to help the Churches most in need. He added that "one of the principal scopes of the Missionary Works is to kindle vocations 'ad gentes' and to life, in both the ancient Churches as well as the young ones."

The four Missionary Works are: the Pontifical Work of the Propagation of the Faith, the Pontifical Work of St. Peter the Apostle for the Indigenous Clergy, the Pontifical Work of the Holy Childhood and the Pontifical Missionary Union, known as PUM, its Italian acronym. In 1922 Pope Pius XI published the Motu proprio "Romanorum Pontificum" with which he bestowed the title of "pontifical" on these works.

John Paul II pointed out that this year marks the 160th anniversary of the Pontifical Work of the Holy Childhood, saying he wished "to underscore the great commitment of energizing and sensitizing that this Work does, 'from childhood on', to promote the missionary cause. The message I wrote on the solemnity of the Epiphany to the members of the Work expresses all my appreciation to these 'missionary boys and girls'. It will therefore be a joy for me to receive very soon a numerous and vivacious delegation of children from throughout the world who will come to Rome to celebrate this significant anniversary of their praiseworthy Work." The Pope's meeting with the Work of the Holy Childhood is scheduled for June 14.

Noting that May is the month of Mary and of the Rosary, he spoke of the "highly evocative missionary rosary," where each decade is a different color, calling to mind a different continent: "white for old Europe, that it may be capable of reappropriating the evangelizing strength which generated so many Churches; yellow for Asia, exploding with life and youth; green for Africa, tried by suffering, ... red for America, a greenhouse of new missionary strength and the blue decade for the continent of Oceania, which awaits a capillary spreading of the Gospel."

The Pontifical Work of the Propagation of the Faith is the oldest of these Works. It was founded in 1822 by a lay woman, the Venerable Marie-Pauline Jaricot to, as John Paul II mentioned in a 1998 talk, "foster a renewed missionary ardor in the Christian community." Subsidies given in recent years to mission lands have been used to build churches and chapels, convents, rectories, parish and multi-use centers and centers for catechesis and to train catechists.
The Pontifical Work of St. Peter the Apostle for the Indigenous Clergy was founded by Jeanne and Stephanie Bigard, mother and daughter who, as the Pope has said, with their "feminine genius" and "spiritual intuition" founded this work, "placing it at the service of the universal ministry of Peter." Monies are allocated by this pontifical work to build seminaries, to enlarge existing ones and to help in the education and training of seminarians.

The Pontifical Work of the Holy Childhood, founded in 1843, "supports the rights of children to grow in their dignity as men and women." One of its main activities is the creation of schools of missionary animation which offer professional training for two years in missiology, spirituality and methodology.

The Pontifical Missionary Union was created in 1916 to promote awareness of missionary activity among clergy, religious, candidates to the priesthood and religious life and others involved in the Church's pastoral ministry. PUM has offices in various parts of the world to help spread this awareness which it does in a number of ways, including the publication of a magazine in diverse languages and a correspondence course in missiology that was established in the 1980s.



VATICAN CITY, MAY 16, 2003 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

- Four prelates from the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India on their "ad limina" visit:

- Archbishop Lucas Sirkar, S.D.B., of Calcutta.

- Bishop James Anthony Toppo of Jalpaiguri.

- Bishop Cyprian Monis of Asansol.

- Bishop Thomas D'Souza of Bagdogra.

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

Yesterday afternoon, the Holy Father received Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 16, 2003 (VISSS) - The entire staff of the Vatican Information Service wishes to extend its prayerful best wishes to Pope John Paul for a very happy 83rd birthday on Sunday, May 18. Ad multos annos, Holy Father!

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