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Thursday, May 22, 2003


VATICAN CITY, MAY 22, 2003 (VIS) - This morning the Holy Father received in audience a group of representatives from the World Jewish Congress and the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations.

John Paul II affirmed that "even if today's world is often marked by violence, repression and exploitation, these realities do not represent the last word about our human destiny. God promises a New Heaven and a New Earth. We know that God will wipe away all tears, and that mourning and pain will be no more. Jews and Christians believe that our lives are a journey towards the fulfillment of God's promises."

"In light of the rich common religious heritage that we share, we can consider the present as a challenging opportunity for joint endeavors of peace and justice in our world. The defense of the dignity of every human being made in the image and likeness of God is a cause which must engage all believers. This sort of practical cooperation between Christians and Jews requires courage and vision, as well as trust that it is God who brings forth good from our efforts."

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 22, 2003 (VIS) - The following text is a telegram sent by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, secretary of State, in the Pope's name, to Archbishop Augustine Kasujja, apostolic nuncio in Algeria, for the earthquake which occurred in the country last night:

"In the face of the terrible earthquake which just struck the region of Argel, the Pope asks God Almighty to accept in His mercy all those who perished in this tragedy. He prays also for those who have been injured, as well as for the labor of the rescue team and for all the families affected by this drama, hoping that they find the consolation that they need and especially solidarity. The Holy Father offers his most sincere condolences to the Head of State, the government and to the family members of the victims, and he assures the Algerian people of his closeness in this new trial."

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 22, 2003 (VIS) - Today at midday in the Clementine Hall, John Paul II received members of the Italian Movement for Life which, for 25 years "since May 22, 1978 when abortion was made legal in Italy, has never ceased to work in the defense of human life, one of the central values of the civilization of love."

"May God help you to work incessantly," he said, "so that all people, believers and non-believers, understand that the protection of human life, starting at conception, is a necessary condition to build a future worthy of man."

After recalling the words of the venerable Mother Teresa of Calcutta, "Abortion is a practice that endangers peace in the world", the Pope emphasized that "there can be no authentic peace without respect for life, especially for the innocent and defenseless, as are the unborn. Basic coherence requires that those who seek peace defend life. No action for peace can be effective if attacks on life at every stage are not opposed with the same effort."

The Holy Father recalled that the Movement for Life is presently working so that Italian Parliament approves a law that respects the rights of unborn children "even if they are conceived with artificial methods which are not morally acceptable." In this sense, he expressed the desire that "the legislative process in course conclude quickly and take into account the principle that, between the desires of adults and the rights of children, all decisions must benefit the interests of the latter."
"Do not get discouraged and do not get tired of proclaiming and bearing witness to the Gospel of life; be close to families and mothers that find themselves in difficulty." Addressing women especially, the Pope renewed his invitation to "defend the alliance between women and life and to become promoters 'of a new feminism which rejects the temptation of imitating models of male domination in order to acknowledge and affirm the true genius of women in every aspect of the life of society, and overcome all discrimination, violence and exploitation'."

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 22, 2003 (VIS) - Archbishop Javier Lozano Barragan, president of the Pontifical Council of Health Care Ministry, spoke in Geneva, Switzerland during the 66th Plenary Assembly of the World Health Organization.

In his speech, which was made public yesterday afternoon, Archbishop Lozano indicated that "in the past decade more than 2 million children have been killed in armed conflicts, 6 million have become invalids, and thousands have been mutilated by land mines; in 2002, 300,000 children were recruited as soldiers; more than 4,300,000 children died from AIDS, every day in Africa alone 7,000 children become infected by AIDS and, as a result of the disease, 14 million children became orphans. Poverty is still the principal cause of disease in children. ... Even in the richest countries, one out of every 6 children lives below poverty level. The gap between rich and poor is widening; 30% of children under age five go hungry or are mal-nourished, and 50% of the entire Sub-Saharan African population lack potable water."

The president of the council recalled also that "250 million children under age 15 work, and of these children 50 to 60 million do so in dangerous conditions. According to the World Organization of Labor, 120 million children between age 5 and 14 work full time, many of them work six days a week and some seven. They are forced to do so, and often are enclosed in places without ventilation, that are poorly lit and with armed guards who prevent them from escaping."

"Today, many children and adolescents are abandoned and left to themselves," he continued. In addition, "many families have neglected the duty to educate their children."

Archbishop Lozano affirmed that "priority must be given to maternal and pediatric health, ... especially concerning water, hygiene and health care, ... and to attention to children especially in high risk situations."

"We insist," he added, "on two urgent points in order to create an appropriate environment for the child: we must fight against poverty with proper means within the present globalized economy. ... Existing inequality among developed countries and those that are developing is absolutely unacceptable. No less important is the conduct and psychological development of children" who "must know who they are, what they want, that they can build and destroy it; and in this complexity, they need clear and firm direction."

The president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry concluded by highlighting that "the main atmosphere for self-comprehension of the child is affection and love and stable direction starting with their parents and their whole family. ... The school within the educational community that truly forms the child must be an environment that sustains the family and extends it."



VATICAN CITY, MAY 22, 2003 (VIS) - Archbishop Celestino Migliore, permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, participated yesterday in the Second Session of the U.N. Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues underway in New York.

The archbishop recalled that the United Nations is celebrating the International Decade of the World's Indigenous People and that the Holy See welcomes the decision to dedicate a session to "Indigenous Children and Youth". "The Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which the Holy See is party," he said, "is the first international human rights treaty to recognize indigenous children as a group of rights-holders, and specifically identifies indigenous people as a group which suffers from discrimination in relations to most of the rights enshrined within the document."

"The Convention reaffirms," he continued, "that an indigenous child 'shall not be denied the right, in community with other members of his or her group, to enjoy his or her own culture, to profess and practice his or her own religion, or to use his or her own language. Despite various international commitments, children remain especially vulnerable to violations of the right to education, and for indigenous children and youth this challenge is compounded by racism, xenophobia and related intolerance that continue to affect them on the basis of their own cultural specificities and uniqueness."

"The right to education concerns not only matters of access, but also of ensuring content which can empower indigenous children for their future. ... In seeking to protect the right to education of indigenous children and youth, the international community can effectively provide support for the efforts of indigenous communities to defend their heritage and identity. ... The challenge facing individuals and organizations ... is to ensure that indigenous children and youth are not robbed of their present and future."



VATICAN CITY, MAY 22, 2003 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed:

- Fr. Guy Harpigny, deacon of Mons, Belgium, as bishop of Tournai (area 3,796, population 1,284,761, Catholics 900,000, priests 593, permanent deacons 39, religious 1,212), Belgium. The bishop-elect was born in 1948 in Luttre, Belgium and was ordained a priest in 1973.

- Fr. Claude-Joseph Azema, vicar general of the archdiocese of Montpellier, France as auxiliary bishop of the same archdiocese (area 6,101, population 900,000, Catholics 670,000, priests 272, permanent deacons 19, religious 614), France. The bishop-elect was born in 1943 Vailhauques, France and was ordained a priest in 1969.

- Archbishop Luigi De Magistris, major pro-penitenciary, as member of the Pontifical Council "Ecclesia Dei".



VATICAN CITY, MAY 22, 2003 (VIS) - Today the Holy Father received in audience:

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

- Archbishop Joseph Mittathany of Imphal, accompanied by coadjutor Bishop Dominic Lumon.

- Bishop Thomas Pulloppillil of Bongaigaon.

- Bishop Jose Mukala of Kohima.

- Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, archbishop of Paris, France.

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