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Monday, September 15, 2003


VATICAN CITY, SEP 13, 2003 (VIS) - Pope John Paul left Bratislava this morning at 9 for the 400 kilometer, one hour flight to Kosice, in eastern Slovakia. He then travelled 65 kilometers to Roznava by car, arriving at approximately 11 a.m. at Podrakos Field, a vast area capable of holding 500,000 people, where he celebrated Mass in honor of St. John Chrysostom, a much-venerated Doctor of the Church often considered a bridge between East and West.

Today's Mass was celebrated in the presence of religious and civil authorities, including the president of Slovakia, and countless faithful from neighboring countries. In particular, the Pope greeted the pilgrims from Hungary in their language.

Then, speaking Slovak, the Holy Father stated that every believer must "be both disciple and apostle: disciple, by humbly listening to the word that saves; apostle by giving passionate witness of a life formed by the Gospel. A Slovak proverb says: 'Words admonish, examples move'. Yes, dear Brothers and Sisters, you too, with the 'style' of your Christian life, can make a great contribution to the evangelisation of today's world and to the construction of a more just and more fraternal society."

"My journey from Bratislava and from Kosice," he remarked, "gave me the opportunity to admire vast cultivated areas, which are a witness to your work and effort. My thoughts go with great sympathy to all who are dedicated to agriculture. ... In the Gospel parable which we have just heard proclaimed, Jesus compares himself to the sower, who sows the seed of His word confidently in the soil of human hearts."
"Let us listen to the explanation of the parable that Jesus himself has given. The seed eaten up by the birds calls to mind the intervention of the Evil One who brings to the heart misunderstanding of God's way which is always the way of the Cross. The seed without roots describes that situation in which the Word is only externally received, without that deep allegiance to Christ and personal love for him, which alone would allow it to be retained. The choked seed symbolizes the worries of the present life, the attraction of power, affluence, pride."

John Paul II pointed out that "the word does not bear fruit automatically, even though it is divine ' and therefore all-powerful ' ; it adapts to the conditions of the soil, or better, it accepts the response that the soil gives, which can also be negative. ... We, Dear Brothers and Sisters, are the soil in which the Lord tirelessly plants the seed of His word and His love. With what attitude do we receive it? How much fruit do we allow it to bring forth?"

The Holy Father closed his homily by saying he entrusted to everyone "the treasure of this word; just like a confident sower who plants in the secret of each heart the 'good news' of the Kingdom. Be the good and fruitful soil which, with the abundance of its produce, comforts the expectations of the Church and of the world."



VATICAN CITY, SEP 12, 2003 (VIS) - Late this afternoon, before leaving the seminary of Banska Bystrica for his return flight to Bratislava, Pope John Paul welcomed the representatives of other Christian Churches and denominations in Slovakia.

"Your presence," he told them, "is an eloquent demonstration of the cordial cooperation and understanding that is a characteristic of the life of Christ's disciples in this land of Slovakia. This friendly meeting takes on particular importance and significance. In fact, it is an occasion to let our Divine Master's heartfelt prayer resound in the depths of our hearts: 'That they may all be one ... so that the world may believe that you have sent me'."

"Together with you," he concluded his brief address in Slovakian, "I ask Almighty God to strengthen us in our common task of proclaiming and bearing witness to the Gospel for the men and women of our day. May He hasten the arrival of the day when we shall be able to praise His name together in full communion of faith and charity."

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VATICAN CITY, SEP 14, 2003 (VIS) - Today, at the end of Mass, during which he beatified Bishop Vasil' Hopko and Sister Zdenka Cecilia Schelingova, Pope John Paul recited the Angelus with the estimated 250,000 faithful gathered at the Petrzalka esplanade of Bratislava.

In remarks made before the angelus, the Pope referred to today's feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, and said: "At the conclusion of the celebration we wish once again to place ourselves spiritually at the foot of the Cross of Christ and receive from Him the sublime gift of His Mother, who from that moment also became the Mother of the Church. Like the Apostle John, we too welcome her into our home, to learn from her the interior disposition of listening and that attitude of humble generosity in service, which characterize her as the first disciple of the Lord."

He then greeted the pilgrims present for today's beatifications in Hungarian, German, Ukrainian, Czech, Polish, Italian and Slovakian.

Following the Angelus prayer, John Paul II said: "Before departing from you I wish to renew to all of you my heartfelt gratitude: to the Christian community of Slovakia and to its pastors, to the president of the Republic and to the civil and military authorities, to the security personnel and to the press corps. To all those who in various ways have contributed to the success of my apostolic journey, I say with all my heart: thank you! I carry with me beautiful images of the Eucharistic celebrations and the different encounters of these days. They are memories that evoke in my spirit profound and comforting emotions."

"I wish to send from this esplanade," he concluded, "a special greeting, full of affection, to the young people of Slovakia. Dear young friends, you are the hope of the Church and of society; you are the hope of the Pope! Do not be afraid to become true friends of Jesus. Learn from Him how to love this world properly and you will build with His help the civilization of love."



VATICAN CITY, SEP 14, 2003 (VIS) - This morning John Paul II celebrated Mass on the Petrzalka esplanade in Bratislava and beatified Bishop Vasil' Hokpo (1904-1976) and Sister Zdenka Cecilia Schelingova (1915-1955), witnesses of the faith in the 20th century. Attending the Eucharistic celebration were the president of the republic, numerous civil and military authorities, as well as thousands of faithful not only from Slovakia but also from other bordering countries.

In his homily today, the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, the Pope invited everyone "to look upon the Cross, a 'privileged place' where the love of God is revealed and shown to us. Bishop Vasil' Hopko and Sister Zdenka Schelingova, whom I have had the joy of enrolling today among the Blessed, looked at the Cross with unshakeable faith."

"On the Cross human misery and divine mercy meet. The adoration of this unlimited mercy is for man the only way to open himself to the mystery which the Cross reveals. ... By means of the Cross of Christ, the Evil One has been defeated, death is overcome, life is given to us, hope is restored, light is imparted. O Crux, ave spes unica!"

The Pope emphasized that "it was meditation on this great and wonderful mystery that sustained" the new blesseds "in their choice of the consecrated life and especially in the sufferings endured during their terrible imprisonment."

"Both shine before us," he added, "as radiant examples of faithfulness in times of harsh and ruthless religious persecution. Bishop Vasil' never repudiated his attachment to the Catholic Church and to the Pope. Sister Zdenka did not hesitate to risk her life so as to assist God's ministers. Both faced up to an unjust trial and an ignoble condemnation, to torture, humiliation, solitude, death. And so the Cross became for them the way that led them to life, a source of fortitude and hope, a proof of love for God and man."

In concluding the Holy Father indicated that in this way, as "in the Garden of Eden, at the foot of the tree, there was a woman, Eve ... On Calvary, at the foot of the tree of the cross, there was another woman, Mary. ... It is the Virgin Most Sorrowful, whom we will remember tomorrow in the liturgy and whom you, with tender devotion, venerate as your patroness. To her I entrust the present and the future of the Church and nation of Slovakia, so that they will grow at the foot of the Cross of Christ, and will always know how to seek out and accept its message of love and salvation."



VATICAN CITY, SEP 14, 2003 (VIS) - The following telegram was sent by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, secretary of State, in the Holy Father's name to Archbishop Andreas Choi Chang-mou of Kwangju, president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea, on the occasion of the typhoon that hit South Korea, killing an estimated 87 persons and wounding scores more:

"Deeply saddened by the news of the great loss of life caused by the typhoon that struck South Korea, the Holy Father prays for the victims and their families. His Holiness asks that you convey the assurance of his solidarity to the civil authorities and all those involved in the task of relief and reconstruction. And he invokes Almighty God's blessing of strength and comfort upon all the afflicted."



VATICAN CITY, SEP 13, 2003 (VIS) - A delegation from the Holy See, led by Msgr. Frank Dewane, under-secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, attended the Fifth Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization which met in Cancun, Mexico from September 10 to 14. The Holy See has observer status at the WTO.

In his address today, Msgr. Dewane said this conference "represents a time of hope" but for this to be realized "all here present must remain faithful to the promises and commitments made to the poor in Doha (in 2001). There has been unsatisfactory progress in the areas of trade for the poorest countries, Bold and decisive action is needed that will have positive implications for development."

He noted that the Holy See's participation in such meetings "springs from its characteristic and constant concern for humanity" and its interest in "all issues that affect the dignity of the human person." He added that "trade should benefit people and not just markets and economies. Trade rules ... have a political and social nature, with deep and lasting consequences in the life of humanity. ... They must conform to the demands of social justice while enabling and fostering human development."

Msgr. Dewane referred to several of the Agreements signed in Doha which are under review in Mexico. He spoke in particular of the Agreement on Agriculture, saying that "agriculture products that are staple foods and on which low-income and poor farmers are dependent should be given special consideration in the context of tariff reductions. These reductions in poor countries, along with the effects of export subsidies and domestic supports in and dumping from developed countries, are particularly harmful for small farmers, Still, any temptation by developing countries towards a crude protectionist path should be avoided."

Msgr. Dewane concluded by stating that "the Holy See wishes to associate itself with those who support consideration for the particular needs of the African continent to experience the development that trade can provide. Africa today remains a continent at risk, fragile in terms of trade relations and the corresponding benefits."

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VATICAN CITY, SEP 12, 2003 (VIS) - Made public this afternoon was a Message by the Holy Father to participants in the special assembly of Italian Catholic Action on the theme: "History becomes prophecy."

The main objective of the assembly, which is taking place in Rome, is to revise the association's Statute "in order to update it according to the changing needs of the times and the apostolic perspectives of the new millennium," according to the Message dated September 8.

"The Church," it continues, "needs you, needs the lay people of Catholic Action who have found a 'school of sanctity' where they have learned to live the Gospel fully in everyday life."

John Paul II assures the youths and adults of Catholic Action that their association "will be renewed if every one of its members rediscovers the promises of Baptism, choosing consciously and freely Christian sanctity as 'the high measure of ordinary Christian life', in the daily conditions of life. It is therefore necessary to allow oneself to be molded by the liturgy of the Church, to cultivate the art of meditation and interior life, to practice spiritual exercises every year. My dear brothers and sisters, make every one of your groups be a true school of prayer and may every member be assured the help for discernment and fidelity to his or her vocation."

"I urge you," says the Pope, "to put all your energy at the service of communion in close unity to the bishop, collaborating with him and with priests. ... Help your parish to rediscover the passion for proclaiming the Gospel and to cultivate pastoral concern for all in order to help them to experience the joy of encountering the Lord."

The Holy Father ends by encouraging them "to give value to a solid formation, suitable for the urgency of the new evangelization. Always take care of every person and help everyone to defend the treasure of the faith, defending it in every environment of life. May Catholic Action become once again a great school of lay spirituality and an apostolate for a growing number of people and communities!"

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VATICAN CITY, SEP 15, 2003 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

- Appointed Archbishop Gaudencio B. Rosales of Lipa, the Philippines, as metropolitan archbishop of Manila (area 549, population 9,379,474, Catholics 8,699,253, priests 1,188, permanent deacons 7, religious 3,811), the Philippines. He accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese presented by Cardinal Jaime L. Sin upon having reached the age limit.

- Accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Calahorra y La Calzada-Logrono, Spain presented by Bishop Ramon Bua Otero in accordance with Canon 401, para. 2, of the Code of Canan Law.

On Saturday September 13 it was made public that the Holy Father:

- Accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Lucena, the Philippines presented by Bishop Ruben T. Profugo in accordance with Canon 401, para. 2, of the Code of Canan Law. Coadjutor Bishop Emilio Z. Marquez succeeds him.

- Appointed Bishop Camilo D. Gregorio, emeritus of Bacolod, the Philippines as bishop of the Prelature of Batanes (area 784, population 31,474, Catholics 14,384, priests 8, religious 10), the Philippines.

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