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Tuesday, June 10, 2003


VATICAN CITY, JUN 10, 2003 (VIS) - On the occasionm of the 33rd General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS), which will take from June 8-10 in Santiago, Chile, Cardinal Angelo Sodano sent a letter to Maria Soledad Alvear Valenzuela, president of the assembly and foreign affairs minister of the Chilean Republic.

In the letter, dated June 7 and published today, Cardinal Sodano conveys the Holy Father's recognition of OAS' "intense diplomatic activity in the field of the consolidation of democracy and the solution of conflicts."

He continued: "The members of the OAS, however, ... are conscious that the promotion and consolidation of democracy occurs through the elimination of poverty and everything that is a cause or consequence of it: illiteracy, violence, crime, terrorism, corruption, arms and drug trafficking, while not forgetting other social problems such as discrimation, racism, intolerance, lack of respect for human rights."

The cardinal secretary of State underscores that "dialogue, which is the strength of democracy, must be the credo of politicians. Through dialogue, the riches of some become the patrimony of everyone and mistakes can be corrected before it is too late. With dialogue, the foundations of a better and truly democratic society are laid."

Referring to the family, Cardinal Sodano recalls that OAS "has always defended it as the basic cell of society and continues to believe in it, despite the difficulties that it is experiencing. ... Concern for the stability of the institution of the family is the State's duty, also through legislation that promotes families and does not penalize them."

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VATICAN CITY, JUN 10, 2003 (VIS) - This morning in the Clementine Hall, the Pope welcomed 130 participants in the General Chapter of the Priests of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, also known as the Dohenian Fathers, as they celebrate the 125th anniversary of the beginning of their congregation, founded by Venerable Fr. Leo Dehon in St. Quentin, France.

The Pope highlighted the Dohenian charism, noting it is "marked by a constant contemplation of the Heart of Jesus, a conscious participation in His reparatory oblation and by a zealous dedication to spreading the Kingdom of the Lord in souls and in societies, because the refusal of God's love is the deepest cause of the world's evils."

"As the theme of your Chapter suggests," he said, "you are 'Dohenians in mission; with open hearts and in solidarity', ready to face the needs of our times and to re-qualify your apostolate in the spheres of spirituality, of the mission 'ad gentes', of the presence in society and a singular attention to culture."

"Your activity in the field of information and religious documentation is also well known," the Holy Father added. "Attentive to watching the 'signs of the times', never allow your fidelity to Catholic doctrine and the Magisterium of the Church to weaken, so that you might render, even with your publications, an indispensable service of truth, the first form of charity."

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VATICAN CITY, JUN 10, 2003 (VIS) - Pope John Paul returned to the Vatican from his milestone 100th foreign trip at 3:30 yesterday afternoon, having completed a five-day journey in Croatia, and looking forward to his one-day trip on June 22 to Banja Luka, Bosnia-Herzegovina, where he will beatify Servant of God Ivan Merz.

The staff of the Holy See Press Office and Vatican Information Service were present in the San Damaso courtyard of the Apostolic Palace to welcome the Holy Father back to the Vatican. To thank them for their tireless work in providing information on his apostolic trips, the Pope personally greeted each member of the staff.

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VATICAN CITY, JUN 10, 2003 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

- Appointed Fr. Oscar Jose Velez Isaza, C.M.F., provincial superior of the Claretians of Western Colombia, as bishop of Valledupar (area 28,780, population 640,000, Catholics 530,000, priests 51, religious 101), Colombia. The bishop-elect was born in Pensilvania, Colombia in 1951 and was ordained a priest in 1975. The Holy Father accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese presented by Bishop Jose Agustin Valbuena Jauregui upon having reached the age limit.

- Appointed Archbishop Silvano Maria Tomasi, apostolic nuncio in Ethiopia, Eritrea and Djibouti, as permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations and Specialized Institutions in Geneva and the World Trade Organization (WTO).

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