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Monday, June 9, 2003


VATICAN CITY, JUN 7, 2003 (VIS) - Pope John Paul flew this morning from Rijeka to Osijek, which is situated on the right bank of the Drava river, 25 kilometers from its confluence with the Danube and is the administrative and economic center of the eastern Croatia region known as Slavonia. He celebrated Mass at the Osijek Airport in the presence of civil and religious authorities, pilgrims from neighboring countries, representatives of the Serbian Orthodox Church and the Churches of the Reform, members of the Jewish community and followers of Islam.

Not far from Osijek is the city of Vukovar, which was destroyed during the war in 1991. A crucifix, badly damaged during the war, was near the papal altar as a witness to the people's sufferings and hopes, to reconciliation and a new life. At the end of today's Mass, as a sign of ecclesial renewal, the Pope crowned the statue of Our Lady of Aljmas and the image of Our Lady of Vocin, whose shrines, destroyed during the war, have since been rebuilt and are flourishing.

At the start of his homily, the Pope remarked that today's Eucharist marked the conclusion of the five-year long synod of the diocese of Djakovo and Srijem and the 150th anniversary of the establishment of the ecclesiastical province of Zagreb.

"At the beginning of the third millennium," stated the Holy Father, "God is calling believers, and the laity in particular, to a renewed missionary outreach. Mission is not 'something added on' to the Christian vocation. Indeed, the Council states that the Christian vocation is by its very nature a vocation to the apostolate."

"Dear brothers and sisters," he continued, "the Church in Slavonia and Srijem needs you! After the trying times of the war, which has left the people of this region with deep wounds not yet completely healed, a commitment to reconciliation, solidarity and social justice calls for courage on the part of individuals inspired by faith, open to brotherly love and concerned for defending the dignity of the human person made in the image of God."

He told the laity that they are "called to assume generously your own share of responsibility for the life of the ecclesial communities to which you belong. The image which parishes present, as places of welcome and of mission, also depends upon you. As sharers in the priestly, prophetic and royal office of Christ, enriched by the gifts of the Holy Spirit, you can make your contribution in the areas of liturgy and catechesis, and in the promotion of missionary and charitable initiatives of various kinds. No baptized person can remain idle!

Pope John Paul pointed out that on his flight to Osijek, he "was able to admire the beauty of the plain of Slavonia ' known as 'the granary of Croatia' ' and my thoughts naturally turned to the field workers, so numerous in this region. I greet them with particular affection.
"Dear brothers and sisters, I know that your life is a hard one and that the yield of the earth's fruits does not at times match the hard work which is demanded of you. I also know that farm work has its own serious difficulties: it has lost a part of its value and young people were already choosing urban life even before the last war, which left many villages with scarcely any inhabitants."

In closing remarks, the Holy Father invited these workers "not to lose confidence and to bear in mind that by your manual work ' which eloquently recalls the Biblical duty entrusted to man of 'subduing' the earth and of 'having dominion over the visible world' ' you are daily 'cooperators' of God the Creator. Know that the Pope and the Church are close to you and, with great esteem for the importance and dignity of your daily toil, they pray that agricultural and field workers, both men and women, will receive the due recognition within the overall development of the community."

Following Mass the Holy Father went to the bishop's residence in Djakovo where he had lunch with the ordinaries of the diocese and the members of the papal entourage. In late afternoon he visited the cathedral of Djakovo, built between 1866 and 1882 in the neo-romantic style. The crypt contains the tombs of all the bishops of Djakovo and the most sumptuous is that of Josip Juraj Strossmayer, bishop from 1849 to 1905, who ordered the building of the cathedral.

After his private visit to the cathedral, Pope John Paul flew from Osijek to Rijeka and went directly to the archdiocesan seminary.

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VATICAN CITY, JUN 8, 2003 (VIS) - At the end of Mass in Rijeka's Delta Square, which takes its name from the delta of the Rifecina River, Pope John Paul recited the Regina Coeli with the faithful who had gathered there for the Eucharistic celebration of Pentecost Sunday.

"At the conclusion of this solemn celebration," the Pope said, "I particularly wish to greet the young people of Croatia. Dear friends, you already know one thing: the Pope looks to you with confidence and hope, and he asks you once more to be sentinels of the dawn and people of the Beatitudes, as I called you at the recent World Youth Day."

"Through the family and professional life for which you are now preparing," the Holy Father went on, "you will take on great responsibilities for the good of society and the Church. I ask you to remember that human beings are of value for what they are more than what they do or what they possess; that superficial goals will never satisfy the thirst for happiness and fulfillment deep within your hearts; that the mission which Providence has assigned to each of you cannot be carried out by anyone else. Listen to Lord Jesus, follow him as the Teacher of life, make him your Companion along the way."

John Paul II followed this by greetings to the faithful in Italian, Slovenian, German, Albanian and Polish.

Following Mass and the recitation of the Regina Coeli, he returned to the archdiocesan seminary where he had lunch with Croatia's 24 bishops (15 ordinaries, 4 auxiliaries and 5 emeritus). At 5:30 in the afternoon he received Prime Minister Ivica Racan.

At 7 p.m. John Paul II visited the shrine of Our Lady of Trsat, Queen of the Adriatic, also known as the "Croatian Nazareth." Administered by the Order of Friars Minor, the shrine was erected in the 15th century on the site where, according to tradition, the Holy House of Nazareth arrived miraculously in 1291 and remained until 1294 when it was transported to Loreto, Italy.

Prince Nikola I of Krk had had a chapel erected on the spot on Trsat, 135 meters above sea level, where the Holy House had been for three years, and this soon became the focal point of pilgrimages. In 1367, as compensation to Croatian pilgrims for the shrine's transfer to Loreto, Pope Urban V donated to them the miraculous effigy of the Mother of God, also known as Mother of Mercy, protector of seamen. The shrine, rebuilt many times over the years, is reached via a flight of 561 steps. Two of the shrine's focal points are the chapel of votive gifts built in 1966 and, in the monastery cloister, a series of 32 paintings depicting the life of Mary.

During his visit the Pope, in off-the-cuff remarks, announced that he had donated a gold rosary to the shrine and said: "As a vow to Our Lady of Trsat, in the name of the communion lived during (the recitation of) the Rosary, pray for me during my life and after my death."



VATICAN CITY, JUN 8, 2003 (VIS) - This morning the Holy Father travelled in the popemobile from the archdiocesan seminary to Delta Square in Rijeka, where he celebrated Mass in the presence of 100,000 people. The theme of the Pentecost Sunday Eucharistic celebration was the family.

"The Church of Christ is always, so to speak, in a situation of Pentecost," said the Pope in his homily. "The Church is kept ever young and alive, one, holy, catholic and apostolic, because the Spirit constantly descends upon her in order to remind her of all that the Lord has said to her and to guide her into the fullness of truth."

John Paul II recalled that they were gathered "at the foot of this hill, beneath the Shrine of Trsat, where, according to a devout tradition, the house of the Virgin Mary sojourned and was cared for. Recalling the life of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph at Nazareth reminds us of the austere beauty and simplicity, and the sacredness and inviolability of the Christian family."

"Nowadays the family, also in Croatia," he continued, "requires special consideration and concrete policies aimed at promoting and protecting its essential nature, its development and its stability. Among other things, I am thinking of the serious problems associated with housing and employment. It must not be forgotten that in helping the family we also help to resolve other important problems, such as providing assistance to the sick and the elderly, stopping the spread of crime, and finding a remedy to drug use."

The Pope exhorted Christian families "not to be afraid to present to others, first and foremost by the witness of your lives, God's authentic plan for the family as a community of life founded on marriage, in other words, on the stable and faithful union of a man and a woman, bound to each other by a bond which is publicly manifested and recognized. It is your responsibility to provide for the human and Christian education of your children, trusting also in the expert assistance of committed and well-trained educators and catechists."

"Society today," he emphasized, "is tragically fragmented and divided. This is the reason why it is so desperately unfulfilled. But Christians do not become resigned to weariness or paralyzed by inertia. May you be a people of hope! May you be a people who prays!"

The Holy Father assured the faithful that "Christ's desire is that all people should be one in him, so that all may experience the fullness of his joy. ... For this reason He, together with the Father, has sent us the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is tirelessly at work, overcoming every division and healing every wound."

The Pope invoked the gifts of the Holy Spirit "on all Christian spouses of Croatia, that by their mutual gift of self, in fidelity to the duties of marriage and in service to the cause of the Gospel, they may be in the world a sign of God's love for humanity."

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VATICAN CITY, JUN 7, 2003 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

- Appointed Cardinal Theodore Edgar McCarrick, archbishop of Washington, U.S.A., as a member of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples.

- Appointed as consultors of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples the following: Archbishop Roberto Espenilla of Manila, the Philippines; Fr. Arij Athanasius Roest Crollius, S.J., dean of the Faculty of Missiology of the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome; Fr. Cyril Vasil, S.J., dean of the Faculty of Eastern Canon Law of the Pontifical Oriental Institute, Rome; Fr. Patrick Adeso, of the diocese of Kumbo, Cameroon, lecturer at the Catholic Institute of Yaounde, Cameroon; Fr. Anthony Rogers, F.S.C., director of the National Office for the Human Development of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

- Accepted the resignation from the office of auxiliary of the archdiocese of Miami, U.S.A., presented by Bishop Augustin Alejo Roman upon having reached the age limit.

- Appointed Bishop Juan Alberto Puiggari, auxiliary of Parana, Argentina, as bishop of Mar del Plata (area 22,805, population 732,000, Catholics 593,000, priests 86, permanent deacons 5, religious 178), Argentina.

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VATICAN CITY, JUN 9, 2003 (VIS) - The Pope celebrated Mass in private at 7:30 a.m. at the archdiocesan seminary in Rijeka and later went to the airport where at 10 a.m. his plane left for Zadar, the last destination on his apostolic trip to Croatia.

Zadar has a population of 80,000, and is located on a small bay. A series of three islands buffers it from the sea. The city is considered the commercial, cultural and educational center of northern Dalmatian and contains Croatia's oldest university.

Upon landing, the Holy Father travelled in the popemobile to the Forum of Zadar, a large square that contains Roman ruins and is located on the seashore close to the Cathedral of Saint Anastasia. The square can hold up to 50,000 people. Stiepan Mesic, president of the republic, attended the ceremony, as well as other civil and military authorities, Archbishop Ivan Prendja of Zadar, along with Croatian bishops and Bishop Fotije, the Serbian-Orthodox bishop of Dalmatia.

John Paul II presided at the Liturgy of the Word, "the day after the Solemnity of Pentecost, the day on which Croats celebrate the feast of Mary, Mother of the Church. ... As on the day of Pentecost, the Blessed Virgin has remained spiritually in the midst of the Christian faithful down the centuries, invoking the constant outpouring of the Spirit's gifts upon the Church as she faces the challenges which arise in different periods of her history. In this way Mary carries out in its fullness her mission as Mother."

"The Virgin Mary," he continued, "gathering around herself the Apostles and the disciples who were tempted to disperse, commended them to the 'fire' of the Spirit who would launch them on the adventure of mission. ... As a witness to the origins of the Church and the guarantor of the fidelity of Christians in every generation, Mary repeats in every age the words she spoke at the wedding feast of Cana: 'Do whatever he tells you'."

The Holy Father indicated that "Mary's words and example represent a sublime school of life, at which apostles are formed. Apostles in the past and apostles today. ... It pleases me to know that this archdiocese has witnessed in recent years the growth and expansion of different forms of lay engagement and apostolate. Dear brothers and sisters, learn from Mary how to be credible witnesses and generous apostles, as you make your own contribution to the great enterprise of the new evangelization. And never forget that a genuine apostolate demands as a prior condition a personal encounter with Jesus, the Living One, the Lord."

"Mary Most Holy remains a model for all who hear the word of God and put it into practice." He concluded: "Let us too draw near to her, and learn to imitate her docility and openness to God. Let us too, the pilgrims of the third millennium, commend ourselves to her intercession, so that by her prayers she may sustain our faith, nourish our hope and make fruitful our charity."

After the liturgy of the Word, the Pope went in the popemobile to the airport, where he said goodbye to the president of the republic, the civil and political authorities and the Croatian bishops before returning to Rome. His airplane departed at 1:30 p.m. and was scheduled to land in Rome's Ciampiano Airport an hour later.

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