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Wednesday, June 25, 2003


VATICAN CITY, JUN 25, 2003 (VIS) - In today's general audience, celebrated in St. Peter's Square, the Pope spoke about his predecessor, Servant of God Paul VI, who was elected forty years ago to the See of St. Peter on June 21, 1963.

After recalling that his petrine ministry lasted 15 years (1963-1978) "and was characterized especially by Vatican Council II and by a great openness to the demands of the modern age," the Holy Father said: "I too had the grace to take part in the work of the Council and to live through the post-conciliar period. I was able to personally appreciate Paul VI's constant commitment to the necessary 'aggiornamento' or renewal of the Church according to the demands of the new evangelization. As his successor to the See of Peter, it has been my concern to continue the pastoral care that he began, inspired by him like a 'father' or a 'teacher'."

"A strong and humble apostle, Paul VI loved the Church and worked for its unity and to intensify its missionary activity. In this way, the innovative initiative of apostolic trips that today constitutes an integral part of the ministry of the Successor of Peter is fully understood."

The Holy Father emphasized that Paul VI "wanted the ecclesial community to open up to the world, without giving in to the spirit of the world. With prudent wisdom, he knew how to resist the temptation of 'conforming' to the modern mentality, sustaining difficulties and misunderstandings, and sometimes even hostility, with evangelical strength. Even in the most difficult moments he did not cease to bring God's illuminating word to His People."

"Let us give thanks to God," concluded John Paul II, "for the gift of his pontificate, a solid and sage guide for the Church. ... In the light of our eternal goal we understand better how urgent it is to love Christ and to serve His Church with joy. May Mary, whom Paul VI wanted to proclaim Mother of the Church with filial love, obtain this grace for us. And may she be the one to embrace in her arms this devoted son in the eternal happiness that is reserved for those who faithfully serve the Gospel."

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VATICAN CITY, JUN 25, 2003 (VIS) - The Post-synodal Council of the General Secretariat for the Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops met for the 11th time in the secretariat's office in Rome. For the first time all members of the council were present, according to the communique published this morning.

Joining Secretary General, Cardinal Jan Schotte, C.I.C.M., were 4 cardinals, 6 archbishops, 2 bishops and 4 members of the staff of the Synod of Bishops.

Following the opening prayer, Cardinal Schotte reviewed the activity of the General Secretariat since the council's last meeting in June of 2002. Members then gave both oral and written reports, notes the communique, "on matters in their individual countries or in entire regions, underscoring the political, civil, economic, and health emergencies that are weighing on the presence of the Church, as she brings her message and witnesses to respect for human dignity in the spirit of the new evangelization."

Council members also highlighted the continual application of the Post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation "Ecclesia in Africa" and its promotion by both national and regional episcopal conferences.

This post-synodal council will meet again in June 2004.

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VATICAN CITY, JUN 25, 2003 (VIS) - At the end of the catechesis of today's general audience in St. Peter's Square, Pope John Paul briefly reflected on his one-day trip last Sunday to Bosnia-Herzegovina, where he beatified a native layman, Ivan Merz.

"Divine Providence," said the Pope, "allowed me to undertake a new apostolic trip to Bosnia-Herzegovina, six years after my pastoral trip to Sarajevo. It was a brief trip, but intense and filled with hope for that country which has been so tried by recent conflicts." He said he "sensed in everyone the will to overcome the painful experiences of the past in order to build, in truth and reciprocal pardon, a society worthy of man and acceptable to God."

The Holy Father remarked that "the high point of this pilgrimage was the solemn Eucharistic liturgy with the beatification of Ivan Merz, whom I proposed as a model for the Catholics, especially young people, of that land."

"I ask God," he said in closing, "to help the peoples of that land, supported by the international community, to be able to resolve the complex issues that are still open and to realize the legitimate aspiration to live in peace and to be part of a united Europe."

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VATICAN CITY, JUN 25, 2003 (VIS) - Today the Holy Father received in audience Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

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VATICAN CITY, JUN 25, 2003 (VIS) - The Holy Father accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Jaboticabal, Brazil, presented by Bishop Luiz Eugenio Perez upon having reached the age limit. Coadjutor Bishop Antonio Fernando Brochini, C.S.S., succeeds him.

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