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Friday, May 23, 2003


VATICAN CITY, MAY 23, 2003 (VIS) - Today John Paul II received in audience a delegation from the Republic of Macedonia, headed by Prime Minister Branko Crvenkovski, that has come to Rome to visit the relics of St. Cyril, which are preserved in St. Clement Church, on the occasion of the feast of Sts. Cyril and Methodius, co-patrons of Europe.

"It is my fervent prayer," said the Pope, "that your country will be ever strengthened in its commitment to unity and solidarity, ideals which the Holy Brothers of Salonika so effectively embodied in their lives, dedicated to preaching the Christian faith". They were "bridges linking East and West. By the values they taught and the example they gave, they brought different cultures and traditions together into one rich heritage for the entire human family."

The Holy Father went on to explain that the Third Millennium needs to rediscover two values which were characteristic of Cyril and Methodius' life: charity and justice. These values become "tangible realities when people of good will in every part of the globe ... are uncompromisingly committed to the 'cause of reconciliation, friendly coexistence, human development and respect for the intrinsic dignity of every nation'."

"This annual pilgrimage to Rome is not just a tribute to St. Cyril but is also a testimony to the bonds of friendship existing between your nation and the Catholic Church. I encourage you to see that these bonds grow ever stronger, especially within your local communities, thus producing fruits ... of greater cooperation towards the Catholic Church in your country."



VATICAN CITY, MAY 23, 2003 (VIS) - This morning the Pope received pastors from the Ecclesiastical Provinces of Calcutta, Guwahati, Impahl and Shillong who just completed their "ad limina" visit.

In his speech, John Paul recalled that "for centuries Catholics in India have been carrying on the essential work of evangelization, especially in the fields of education and social services, freely offered to Christians and non-Christians alike. ... It is most disconcerting that some who wish to become Christians are required to receive the permission of local authorities, while others have lost their right to social assistance and family support. Still others have been ostracized or driven out of their villages. Unfortunately, certain fundamentalist movements are creating confusion among some Catholics and even directly challenging any attempt at evangelization. It is my hope," he continued, "that as leaders in the faith you will not be discouraged by these injustices but rather continue to engage society in such a way that these alarming trends can be reversed."

After noting that "obstacles to conversion are not always external but may occur within your own communities," he said, "This can happen when those of other religions see disagreement, scandal and disunity within our Catholic institutions. For this reason it is important that priests, religious, and lay people should all work together and especially cooperate with their Bishop, who is the sign and source of unity."

The Pope affirmed that "fundamental to sustained efforts of evangelization is the development of a local Church which is itself poised to become missionary. ... The commitment to follow Christ as a priest requires the best training possible." In this sense, he praised the bishops' initiatives to ensure that their institutes of priestly formation "reach the high standards of education and training necessary for today's clergy."

Speaking about the formation of lay people, the Holy Father underscored the necessity to prepare them to receive the sacraments, especially marriage, to form catechists and to provide "the spiritual and moral support necessary."

"India," he continued, "is fortunate to have a direct reminder of the Church's vocation to love the weakest in the witness and example of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, soon to be beatified." "Like Mother Teresa," he said to the prelates, "you too are called to be outstanding examples of simplicity, humility and charity for those entrusted to your care. ... You will use the example of Mother Teresa as a model for the works of charity in your communities."

John Paul II indicated that "in a world in which so many people have so many questions, it is only through Christ that they can hope to find sure answers. He concluded by stressing that "only an active and engaged participation in the mystery of reconciliation can bring true peace and a genuine response to the burdens which weigh on the soul. I am pleased to hear that in many of your dioceses the faithful frequently avail themselves of the grace of the sacrament of Reconciliation, and I encourage you to continue to stress the importance of this sacrament."

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 23, 2003 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience:

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

- Archbishop Dominic Jala, S.D.B., of Shillong.

- Bishop George Mamlasserry of Tura.

- Bishop Lumen Monteiro, C.S.C., of Agartala.

- Bishop Stephen Rotluanga, C.S.C., of Aizawl.

This afternoon he is scheduled to receive Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 23, 2003 (VIS) - Archbishop Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, gave a speech during an international congress that is taking place at the Pontifical Gregorian University on May 23 and 24 in Rome. Its theme is "The Church and International Order."

According to a communique made public today by the dicastery, "after having emphasized that the social doctrine of the Church bases international order on ethical and juridical values that foster co-existence and collaboration among different political communities, the archbishop underlines that the objective principle of this teaching is to bind relations among States to a concept of international justice as an essential ingredient of the common good."

Referring specifically to the current situation, the archbishop recalls that "freedom and the restoration of law have never been achieved by force or war" and he reaffirms that "the tools of law as an alternative to armed force, which already exist in international law, must be reconsidered in such a way that makes them correspond to the real needs of the international community, reinforcing above all their observance and the accuracy of their application."



VATICAN CITY, MAY 23, 2003 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

- Appointed Bishop Robert C. Morlino of Helena, U.S.A., as bishop of Madison (area 20,893, population 917,645, Catholics 266,396, priests 159, religious 351), U.S.A. He accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese presented by Bishop William H. Bullock upon having reached the age limit.

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