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Wednesday, May 28, 2003


VATICAN CITY, MAY 28, 2003 (VIS) - Psalm 107, "Song of Praise to God and plea for help", was the theme of the catechesis during today's general audience which took place in St. Peter's Square and in which 18,000 people participated.

John Paul II explained that Psalm 107 is the product of the fusion of two sections of Psalms 56 and 59, "that demonstrates how Israel already in the Old Testament was acting out the Word of God that had been revealed."

"Psalm 107, the result of this combination," he said, "is therefore something more than the simple union and juxtaposition of two lines. Hope and fear unite and become the substance of a new prayer in order to plant the seed of faith in difficult times, experienced by the whole community."

The Holy Father recalled that the psalm begins with "a joyous hymn of praise." Because of "the Lord's loving fidelity, the people are sure they will never be abandoned by God in the abyss of nothingness and desperation."

In the second part of the psalm, he continued, "in the midst of the distress of Israel, which feels as if God is absent and distant, the voice of the oracle of the Lord that resounds in the temple is raised. In this revelation, God presents himself as arbiter and Lord of the whole earth. ... If the Lord reigns there is nothing to fear: we will not be shaken by the dark forces of destiny or chaos. There is also a greater plan which governs history even in dismal moments."

"This faith," he concluded, "sparks hope. ... This means that despite the trial and the silence, God will reveal Himself to us once again, to sustain and guide His people. Decisive help can come only from Him, not from external military alliances, that is, from armed force. And only with Him can freedom be obtained and 'great things' be accomplished."

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 28, 2003 (VIS) - Archbishop Paul Josef Cordes, president of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum" is being sent by the Holy Father to Iraq in order to ordinate humanitarian aid efforts by the Catholic Church in the country. He begins his trip today.

According to a communique made public today by "Cor Unum", John Paul II asked Archbishop Cordes to convey his spiritual closeness to the entire Iraqi population."

The prelate's task will be "to verify personally the needs and conditions that permit the Catholic Church to operate in territories afflicted by war. In particular, together with the Bishops and Catholic NGOs, he will have to carry out a reasonable and coordinated plan of aid which responds to the health and food emergencies in addition to those of reconstruction."

"The Church, through its capillary presence," continues the communique, "is willing to help, as in other similar situations, in the equal distribution of humanitarian aid and in fostering social and political reconstruction."

During his stay in Iraq Archbishop Cordes, who will be accompanied by experts in the sector of humanitarian aid, will meet with the apostolic nuncio, bishops, Catholic organizations and civil authorities. On Sunday June 1, he will celebrate Mass in the cathedral of Baghdad and the following day he will go to Mosul."

The document concludes: "Even though the embargo has been lifted, which opens up new possibilities of relations with the Iraqi community, this trip of the Pope's envoy takes place in a particularly delicate moment for the future of peaceful co-existence in that region."

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 28, 2003 (VIS) - Archbishop John P. Foley, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, is in the United States to speak in a series of events organized by the Catholic News Service (CNS) and to participate in the Congress of the Catholic Press Association (CPA) in Atlanta.
On Thursday May 29, the archbishop will give a brief speech during the inauguration of the Congress. On Friday May 30 he will preside at a Mass of commemoration for the deceased members of the CPA and on Saturday May 31 he will deliver the homily at a Mass in Atlanta's cathedral.

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