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Wednesday, May 21, 2003


VATICAN CITY, MAY 21, 2003 (VIS) - An academic symposium on the Petrine Ministry, organized by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, will take place in Rome from May 21 to 24.

According to a communique made public yesterday afternoon, this initiative responds to what the Pope wrote in the Encyclical "Ut Unum sint" about the need to "find a way of exercising the primacy which, while in no way renouncing what is essential to its mission, is nonetheless open to a new situation" and to "seek ... the forms in which this ministry may accomplish a service of love recognized by all concerned."

In the years following the publication of this encyclical different studies and contributions have been sent to the dicastery by other Churches and ecclesiastical communities in response to the desire expressed by the Holy Father.
Participating in the symposium are eight speakers (four Catholics and four Orthodox), seven Catholic specialists and eleven delegates who represent Orthodox Churches. The topics that will be discussed are: The biblical foundation of the primate; The primate of the Fathers; The role of the Bishop of Rome in ecumenical councils; recent debates on the primate in relationship to Vatican Council II; recent debates on the primate among Orthodox theologians.

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 21, 2003 (VIS) - In today's general audience which took place in St. Peter's Square, John Paul II dedicated his catechesis to Psalm 143: A king's prayer for victory and peace. Twenty-thousand people were in attendance.

The psalm, said the Pope, "has the attributes of a royal hymn ... King David speaks in the first person and recognizes the divine origin of his victories. The Lord, according to ancient custom, is presented to us with warlike images: ... stalwart fortress, a protective shield, a victor. God's personality is exalted in this way as He combats evil in history; His is not a dark power, a sort of destiny, nor is He a sovereign who is impassive and indifferent to human events."

"In the face of divine power," the Holy Father explained, "the Jewish king realizes that he is fragile and weak as all human creatures are ... Only with divine assistance can we overcome the dangers and difficulties that mark every day of our life. Only by counting on the help of heaven can we ... walk toward freedom from oppression."

"Divine intervention is depicted with traditional universal and historical images that illustrate divine reign over the universe and human events. This is a concrete, Eastern way of representing evil, perversions, oppression and injustice, tremendous realities which the Lord frees us from while we advance in the world."

Referring later to the end of the psalm, which concludes with a hymn of thanksgiving because the Lord grants victory to those who have "consecrated" themselves to Him, John Paul II recalled that this word in Hebrew is 'Messiah' and he emphasized that as Christians we repeat this hymn with "our gaze fixed on Christ who frees us from every evil and sustains us in the battle against hidden, perverse powers."

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 21, 2003 (VIS) - This afternoon the Holy Father will receive in audience four prelates from the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India on their "ad limina" visit:

- Archbishop Thomas Menamparampil, S.D.B., of Guwahati.

- Bishop Robert Kerketta, S.D.B., of Tezpur.

- Bishop John Thomas Kattrukudiyil of Diphu.

- Bishop Joseph Aind, S.D.B., of Dibrugarh.

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 21, 2003 (VIS) - On May 24, the liturgical use of the church of Sts. Vincent and Anastasius, near the Trevi Fountain in Rome, will be inaugurated, as the Pope offered last year during his apostolic trip to Bulgaria to His Beatitude Maxim, patriarch of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, for the Orthodox community in the capital.

In a communique made public today the date of May 24, the feast day of Sts. Cyril and Methodius in Bulgaria, is confirmed for the inauguration. This date was chosen because of the devotion of the Bulgarian Orthodox community in Rome to these two Slavic saints and in order to commemorate the first anniversary of the Holy Father's visit to Bulgaria in May of 2002.

The delegation of the Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, composed of nine members, will visit Rome from May 22 to 27. Their visit will coincide with the official visit to the Italian government by Simeon Saxe Coburg-Gotha, prime minister of Bulgaria. The Bulgarian prime minister is scheduled to attend the inaugural celebration on May 24 as are representatives from the diplomatic corps to the Holy See and members of the Roman Curia.

A mobile iconostasis, which permits the Eastern liturgy to be celebrated, has been installed in the Church. Construction has also been done in order to facilitate the development of catechesis activities for the Bulgarian Orthodox faithful. All of this, the communique concludes, has been possible thanks to a donation by the Holy Father and to a benefactor's contribution.

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