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Friday, May 30, 2003


VATICAN CITY, MAY 30, 2003 (VIS) - Holy See Press Office Director Joaquin Navarro-Valls made the following statement this afternoon on the European Constitution:

"It has been noted with satisfaction that, with the current project of Article 51, the European Convention has included in the constitutional treaty the content of Declaration 11 annexed to the Treaty of Amsterdam and has envisioned a constant dialogue with Churches and with religious communities, recognizing their identity and specific contribution.

"In what pertains to the first project of the Preamble, the mention of the various and important components that have acted together to form the European patrimony was noted, but the absence of an explicit mention of Christianity was noted with surprise.

"As a consequence, we share the opinion of those authoritative members of the Convention who have already proposed the inclusion of this element in the successive version of the Preamble, out of respect for historical truth and for a more balanced text."



VATICAN CITY, MAY 30, 2003 (VIS) - The Pope this morning welcomed Gunkatsu Kano, Japan's new ambassador to the Holy See, as he presented his Letters of Credence, and extended his greetings to the Imperial family, government leaders and the Japanese people, mentioning in particular those who were wounded in the recent earthquake.

The Holy Father noted how attached Japan is "to serving the cause of peace. The current international situation, marked by a renewal of tensions in diverse places of the earth and by the rebirth of terrorist actions, remains worrisome. However, this conjuncture must not dampen the determination of those engaged in the search for peaceful solutions to these conflicts."

He went on to say that "efforts concerning notably the progressive, balanced and controlled elimination of weapons of mass destruction, as well as nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, must be pursued." The Pope stated that "it is up to the international community to be permanently mobilized so that, on both regional and world levels, appropriate measures be taken to prevent potential aggressions, without these measures harming the fundamental needs of the civilian populations involved, leading them on occasion to misery and despair."

John Paul II highlighted Japan's "rich religious and philosophical traditions, which contain spiritual resources capable of stimulating in an efficacious manner this ardent desire to work for peace and reconciliation among human communities and persons." He noted that "the painful vision of Hiroshima and Nagasaki" reminds us of the words of Pope Paul VI: 'Never again war!'"

He then underscored the role of Japan in economic cooperation with other countries in Asia and their active role in the "promotion of peoples." Turning to the country's interest in the environment, he pointed out that Japan will host an international exhibition in 2005 that "will allow the many nations participating to serenely debate the concrete solutions to be applied to the problems connected with, among others, the protection of the environment and caring for natural resources."

The Holy Father dedicated closing remarks to the small but active Catholic community in Japan, remarking that the Church wishes to propose to young generations, "especially through the integral education given in schools and universities, an efficacious contribution to their human, spiritual, moral and civic growth that prepares them to take an active part in the life of the nation."

He also commented on the Church's role in assisting the many immigrants who come to Japan seeking "working, dignity and hope. With all men of good will, she intends to fight against the phenomena of discrimination and exclusion which marginalize the weakest and undermine relations among men."

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 30, 2003 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Bishop Guillermo Rodriguez Melgarejo, auxiliary of Buenos Aires, Argentina, as bishop of San Martin (area 102, population 740,700, Catholics 592,560, priests 91, permanent deacons 8, religious 265), Argentina.

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 30, 2003 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

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

- Archbishop Abraham Viruthakulangara of Nagpur, accompanied by Archbishop Emeritus Leobard D'Souza.

- Archbishop Daniel Acharuparambil, O.C.D., of Verapoly.

- Bishop Godfrey de Rozario, S.J., of Baroda.

- Bishop Thomas Ignatius Macwan of Ahmedabad.

- Bishop Edwin Colaco of Amravati.

- Bishop Mathias Kappil of Punalur.

- Archbishop Jozef Nowacki, apostolic nuncio in Slovakia.

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