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Wednesday, June 4, 2003


VATICAN CITY, JUN 4, 2003 (VIS) - At the start of the catechesis of this week's general audience in St. Peter's Square, in the presence of 20,000 faithful, the Holy Father said he "wished to pay tribute to Pope John XXIII who died 40 years ago and whom I myself had the joy of proclaiming Blessed."

He recalled the evening of June 3, 1963, when thousands of faithful had come to St. Peter's Square to pray for Pope John and "to be as close as possible to their beloved father and pastor who, after a long and painful illness, was leaving this earth. At 7 p.m., in the square, the pro-vicar of Rome, Cardinal Luigi Traglia began Mass while (the Pope) from his bed which had become an altar, consummated his spiritual sacrifice, the sacrifice of his entire life." He underscored that "the end of mass coincided with the death of the good Pope."

"This bed is an altar," the Holy Father quoted from John XXIII's writings, "the altar needs a victim: Here I am, ready. I offer my life for the Church, the continuation of the Ecumenical Council, peace in the world, the unity of Christians."

John Paul II said that, even as he was dying, his predecessor "was looking towards the future and the longings of the People of God and the world. With emotion, he affirmed that the secret of his priesthood was in the Crucifix, always kept with great care opposite his bed. ... His priestly ministry was entirely dedicated to making known and loved 'what has the greatest value in life: blessed Jesus Christ, His holy Church, His Gospel."

He then remarked that "on April 11, less than two months before his death, John XXIII published the most celebrated document of his magisterium; the Encyclical 'Pacem in terris', which I have had many occasions this year to recall. The entire life of this unforgettable pontiff was a testimony to peace," and this encyclical was "almost a public and universal last will and testament."

"Every believer," wrote Pope John XXIII, "must be a spark of light, a center of love, a living yeast of the masses." The Holy Father added, in concluding, that "to be a spark of light we must live in permanent contact with God. My venerated predecessor, who left a mark in history, reminds men of the third millennium that the secret of peace and joy lies in deep and constant communion with God."

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VATICAN CITY, JUN 4, 2003 (VIS) - Made public today was a Message from the Pope to Fr. Giacomo Bini, general minister of the Order of Friars Minor, and to participants in the Order's ordinary general chapter celebrated in Assisi, Italy.

In the Message, dated May 10, the Holy Father urges the religious to follow the example of the teachers and models of sanctity through "greater knowledge of their lives, invoking them with devotion and commemorating them on their liturgical feasts."

In addition, John Paul II writes, "it is important that the Order preserve its own missionary style characterized by poverty and community life, animated by a spirit of contemplation and an authentic search for justice, peace and respect for creation. Furthermore, it is indispensable that every one of your members and all the fraternities work together to build a single Church of Christ, in accordance and full communion with the pastors of local Christian communities."

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VATICAN CITY, JUN 4, 2003 (VIS) - In his multi-language greetings to the 20,000 pilgrims assembled in St. Peter's Square for today's general audience, Pope John Paul spoke of Blessed Pope John XXIII, who had been the focus of his weekly catechesis. He also highlighted his trip to Croatia that starts tomorrow and is the 100th foreign trip of his almost 25-year papacy, addressing Croatians present in their own language.
Noting that yesterday was the 40th anniversary of the death of his predecessor, whom he beatified on September 3, 2000, the Holy Father reminded pilgrims that John XXIII initiated Vatican Council II, saying "this work was born of his deep pastoral concern for Church affairs, which marked his entire life. His motto was: 'Ecce adsum!' Here I am, ready. Precisely in this spirit of total dedication to Christ and the Church, he built his own holiness and brought holiness to others. May his protection and intercession accompany you always."

"Tomorrow," the Pope then stated, "I undertake with great hope my third trip to Croatia, a land marked by the testimony of intrepid disciples of the Gospel. My aim is to confirm in the faith my brothers and sisters of the Catholic community who, at the time of religious persecution, remained faithful to Christ and did not fear facing the challenges of the present moment to continue to announce Him with courage."

He added that "in these 13 years of reacquired independence (Croatians) have consolidated ecclesial structures and now are dedicating themselves ever more to an incisive evangelizing action. Dear brothers and sisters, I invite you to accompany me in prayer. I entrust this 100th apostolic trip of mine to the Virgin Mary, so venerated in Croatia, that she may guide my steps and obtain for the Croatian people a renewed springtime of faith and civil progress."

Pope John Paul also greeted, "with special affection the handicapped persons who have gathered in Rome in the context of the European Year of the Handicapped, especially the participants in the Summer Special Olympics and the large group from the Don Orione Work from diverse regions."

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VATICAN CITY, JUN 4, 2003 (VIS) - Today at 1 p.m. Msgr. Piero Monni, Holy See permanent observer to the World Tourism Organization, gave a speech during the 70th Session of the Executive Committee of the WTO which is taking place from June 3-4 in Madrid, Spain.

Msgr. Monni affirmed that "today development in the tourism sector requires more institutional and programmatic transparency. This is necessary so as to match long term policies to the relative base infrastructures. On the other hand, an increase in the quality of services and accommodations by private investors is desirable."

"This is because," he continued, "it seems impossible that globalization only takes into consideration the economic aspect of tourism and is not accompanied by a globalization of solidarity. It is also for this reason that the transformation of the World Tourism Organization into a United Nations Specialized Institution is desirable."

The permanent observer to the WTO indicated that "the means to confer continuity and harmonious development in the field of tourism is by planning specific and targeted policies; together with paying constant attention to 'quality' and 'excellence' in this field. In this way, the growing need for professional tour operators and managers becomes apparent. The educational sector in tourism should represent an essential and fundamental step in all of the mentioned operative programs."

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VATICAN CITY, JUN 4, 2003 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

- Appointed Fr. Jose Geraldo da Cruz, A.A., provincial superior of the Augustinian Fathers of the Assumption, as bishop of Juazeiro (area 56,649, population 419,674, Catholics 350,000, priests 18, religious 29), Brazil. The bishop-elect was born in 1941 in Muriae, Brazil and was ordained a priest in 1969. The Holy Father accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese presented by Bishop Jose Rodrigues de Souza, C.S.S.R., upon having reached the age limit.

- Appointed Fr. Oscar Fernandez Guillen, of the clergy of the archdiocese of San Jose, Costa Rica, as bishop of Puntarenas (area 3,910, population 180,380, Catholics 161,200, priests 26, religious 24), Costa Rica. The bishop-elect was born in San Rafael de Oreamuno, Costa Rica in 1949 and was ordained a priest in 1977.

- Appointed Bishop Milton Antonio dos Santos, S.D.B., of Corumba, Brazil, as coadjutor bishop of Cuiaba (area 24,542, population 800,000, Catholics 700,000, priests 61, religious 193), Brazil.

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