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Friday, October 17, 2003


VATICAN CITY, OCT 16, 2003 (VIS) - Late this afternoon, during a solemn Mass attended by 50,000 faithful and concelebrated by members of the College of Cardinals, archbishops and bishops, and pastors of Roman parishes, John Paul II relived with emotion the moment of his election 25 years ago today. Among the prominent personalities in attendance were Carlo Azeglio Ciampi and Aleksander Kwasniewski, respectively presidents of Italy and Poland, and members of official delegations from 17 countries.

In St. Peter's Square, decorated with flowers and plants from Holland, the Pope confessed that 25 years ago he had "experienced divine mercy in a special way." Recalling the moment in which the cardinals elected him to succeed Peter, he said: "How could I not tremble, humanly speaking? How could such a big responsibility not weigh on me? It was necessary to rely on divine mercy so that when asked, do you accept?, I could answer ...: I accept."

"Today, dear brothers and sisters, I am happy to share with you an experience that has extended to a quarter of a century. Every day the same dialogue between Jesus and Peter takes place within my heart. ... God, even though He is aware of my human fragility, encourages me to respond with faith like Peter: 'Lord, you know all things, you know that I love you'. He then invites me to assume responsibilities that He has entrusted to me."

The Holy Father emphasized that since the beginning of his pontificate, his "thoughts, prayers and actions have been inspired by one desire: to bear witness that Christ, the Good Shepherd, is present and operates in His Church." The Pope reiterated the call of 25 years ago: "Do not be afraid to welcome Christ and to accept His authority! Today I repeat with vigor: Open, open wide the doors to Christ! Let yourselves be guided by Him! Trust in His love!"

After giving thanks to God for these 25 years, John Paul II said he also wanted to thank the faithful from around the world for their prayers in response to his petition to help and sustain him from the beginning of the pastoral ministry, and he urged them not to "interrupt this great work of love by the Successor of Peter. I ask you once again: help the Pope, and all those who want to serve Christ, to serve man and all of humanity!"

In conclusion, he invoked the Lord, saying: "Forgive the evil committed and multiply the good: everything is Your work and only to You is glory due. ... I renew, through the hands of Mary, Beloved Mother, the gift of myself, of the present and of the future: may everything be done according to Your will. Supreme Pastor, stay with us, so that we may proceed safely with You to the house of the Father."

At the beginning of the Eucharistic celebration, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, dean of the College of Cardinals, congratulated the Pope on everyone's behalf. "As the apostle Paul," he said, "you can say that you have never sought to praise with words, nor have you sought honor from men, rather you have taken care of your sons and daughters like a mother. ... You have endured criticism and insults, provoking nevertheless gratitude and love, and breaking down the walls of hate and distrust. We can say today how you have put yourself wholeheartedly at the service of the Gospel. ... Like Paul, you bear suffering in order to complete in your earthly life, through the body of Christ which is the Church, what is lacking in Christ's afflictions."

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VATICAN CITY, OCT 17, 2003 (VIS) - On Sunday, October 19, World Mission Day, Pope John Paul II will celebrate the Eucharist in St. Peter's Square at 10 a.m. during which he will beatify Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Mother Teresa died in Calcutta on September 5, 1997. The Office of Liturgical Celebrations for the Supreme Pontiff prepared the following biography of the future Blessed.

"By blood, I am Albanian. By citizenship, an Indian. By faith, I am a Catholic nun. As to my calling, I belong to the world. As to my heart, I belong entirely to the Heart of Jesus." Small of
stature, rocklike in faith, Mother Teresa of Calcutta was entrusted with the mission of proclaiming God's thirsting love for humanity, especially for the poorest of the poor. "God still loves the world and He sends you and me to be His love and His compassion to the poor.' She was a soul filled with the light of Christ, on fire with love for Him and burning with one desire: 'to quench His thirst for love and for souls."

This luminous messenger of God's love was born on August 26, 1910 in Skopje, Albania, a city situated at the crossroads of Balkan history. The youngest of the children born to Nikola and Drane Bojaxhiu, she was baptised Gonxha Agnes, received her First Communion at the age of five and a half and was confirmed in November 1916. From the day of her First Holy Communion, a love for souls was within her. Her father's sudden death when Gonxha was about eight years old left the family in financial straits. Drane raised her children firmly and lovingly, greatly influencing her daughter's character and vocation. Gonxha's religious formation was further assisted by the vibrant Jesuit parish of the Sacred Heart in which she was much involved.

At the age of eighteen, moved by a desire to become a missionary, Gonxha left her home in September 1928 to join the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary, known as the Sisters of Loreto, in Ireland. There she received the name Sister Mary Teresa after St. Therese of Lisieux. In December, she departed for India, arriving in Calcutta on January 6, 1929. After making her First Profession of Vows in May 1931, Sister Teresa was assigned to the Loreto Entally community in Calcutta and taught at St. Mary's School for girls. On May 24, 1937, Sister Teresa made her Final Profession of Vows, becoming, as she said, the "spouse of Jesus" for "all eternity." From that time on she was called Mother Teresa. She continued teaching at St. Mary's and in 1944 became the school's principal. A person of profound prayer and deep love for her religious sisters and her students, Mother Teresa's twenty years in Loreto were filled with profound happiness. Noted for her charity, unselfishness and courage, her capacity for hard work and a natural talent for organization, she lived out her consecration to Jesus, in the midst of her companions, with fidelity and joy.

On September 10, 1946 during the train ride from Calcutta to Darjeeling for her annual retreat, Mother Teresa received her "inspiration," her "call within a call." On that day, in a way she would never explain, Jesus' thirst for love and for souls took hold of her heart and the desire to satiate His thirst became the driving force of her life. Over the course of the next weeks and months, by means of interior locutions and visions, Jesus revealed to her the desire of His heart for "victims of love" who would "radiate His love on souls." "Come be My light," He begged her. "I cannot go alone."

He revealed His pain at the neglect of the poor, His sorrow at their ignorance of Him and His longing for their love. He asked Mother Teresa to establish a religious community, Missionaries of Charity, dedicated to the service of the poorest of the poor. Nearly two years of testing and discernment passed before Mother Teresa received permission to begin. On August 17, 1948, she dressed for the first time in a white, blue-bordered sari and passed through the gates of her beloved Loreto convent to enter the world of the poor.

After a short course with the Medical Mission Sisters in Patna, Mother Teresa returned to Calcutta and found temporary lodging with the Little Sisters of the Poor. On December 21 she went for the first time to the slums. She visited families, washed the sores of some children, cared for an old man lying sick on the road and nursed a woman dying of hunger and TB. She started each day in communion with Jesus in the Eucharist and then went out, rosary in her hand, to find and serve Him in "the unwanted, the unloved, the uncared for." After some months, she was joined, one by one, by her former students.

On October 7, 1950 the new congregation of the Missionaries of Charity was officially established in the Archdiocese of Calcutta. By the early 1960s, Mother Teresa began to send her Sisters to other parts of India. The Decree of Praise granted to the Congregation by Pope Paul VI in February 1965 encouraged her to open a house in Venezuela. It was soon followed by foundations in Rome and Tanzania and, eventually, on every continent. Starting in 1980 and continuing through the 1990s,
Mother Teresa opened houses in almost all of the communist countries, including the former Soviet Union, Albania and Cuba.

In order to respond better to both the physical and spiritual needs of the poor, Mother Teresa founded the Missionaries of Charity Brothers in 1963, in 1976 the contemplative branch of the Sisters, in 1979 the Contemplative Brothers, and in 1984 the Missionaries of Charity Fathers. Yet her inspiration was not limited to those with religious vocations. She formed the Co-Workers of Mother Teresa and the Sick and Suffering Co-Workers, people of many faiths and nationalities with whom she shared her spirit of prayer, simplicity, sacrifice and her apostolate of humble works of love. This spirit later inspired the Lay Missionaries of Charity. In answer to the requests of many priests, in 1981 Mother Teresa also began the Corpus Christi Movement for Priests as a "little way of holiness" for those who desire to share in her charism and spirit.

During the years of rapid growth the world began to turn its eyes towards Mother Teresa and the work she had started. Numerous awards, beginning with the Indian Padmashri Award in 1962 and notably the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, honored her work, while an increasingly interested media began to follow her activities. She received both prizes and attention "for the glory of God and in the name of the poor."

The whole of Mother Teresa's life and labor bore witness to the joy of loving, the greatness and dignity of every human person, the value of little things done faithfully and with love, and the surpassing worth of friendship with God. But there was another heroic side of this great woman that was revealed only after her death. Hidden from all eyes, hidden even from those closest to her, was her interior life marked by an experience of a deep, painful and abiding feeling of being separated from God, even rejected by Him, along with an ever-increasing longing for His love. She called her inner experience, "the darkness." The "painful night" of her soul, which began around the time she started her work for the poor and continued to the end of her life, led Mother Teresa to an ever more profound union with God. Through the darkness she mystically participated in the thirst of Jesus, in His painful and burning longing for love, and she shared in the interior desolation of the poor.

During the last years of her life, despite increasingly severe health problems, Mother Teresa continued to govern her Society and respond to the needs of the poor and the Church. By 1997, Mother Teresa's Sisters numbered nearly 4,000 members and were established in 610 foundations in 123 countries of the world. In March 1997 she blessed her newly-elected successor as Superior General of the Missionaries of Charity and then made one more trip abroad. After meeting Pope John Paul II for the last time, she returned to Calcutta and spent her final weeks receiving visitors and instructing her Sisters. On September 5 Mother Teresa's earthly life came to an end. She was given the honor of a state funeral by the government of India and her body was buried in the Mother House of the Missionaries of Charity. Her tomb quickly became a place of pilgrimage and prayer for people of all faiths, rich and poor alike. Mother Teresa left a testament of unshakable faith, invincible hope and extraordinary charity. Her response to Jesus' plea, "Come be My light," made her a Missionary of Charity, a "mother to the poor", a symbol of compassion to the world, and a living witness to the thirsting love of God.

Less than two years after her death, in view of Mother Teresa's widespread reputation of holiness and the favors being reported, Pope John Paul II permitted the opening of her Cause of
Canonization. On 20 December 2002 he approved the decrees of her heroic virtues and miracles.

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VATICAN CITY, OCT 17, 2003 (VIS) - Archbishop Celestino Migliore, Holy See permanent observer to the United Nations, spoke yesterday at the plenary of the U.N.'s 58th General Assembly on Agenda Item 40a: New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), Progress in Implementation and International Support.

The archbishop affirmed that "in the present world order, the African nations seem to be among the most disadvantaged. In the face of the current marginalization of Africa, we have a duty in solidarity to maintain the commitments we have collectively made to move forward with a new pattern of solidarity and cooperation between the wealthier nations and the peoples of Africa. This requires a rapid and definitive solution to the external debt overhang of African countries."

"The sum total of African external debt is small by global standards," he underscored. "Hence, not only in terms of justice, but also of effective economic possibilities, the burden of external debt necessitates a comprehensive and expeditious solution. ... This relief process should not drag on long under the yoke of technical and bureaucratic requirements."

Archbishop Migliore noted that "for external trade to become an essential factor of African development, the international community should uphold and apply aptly the true values of trade by eliminating all types of unfair competition against African countries." In addition, he said, "Africa needs to develop a family-based diversified agrarian economy, capable of responding to multiple challenges, such as excessive urban migration, lack of food security, welfare of the family and rural communities, protection of the environment, and greater economic growth."

In concluding remarks, the nuncio affirmed that "without peace in Africa, it is impossible to think of just structures of economic and social development."

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VATICAN CITY, OCT 17, 2003 (VIS) - Made public yesterday afternoon was Pope John Paul's Message to Jacques Diouf, director general of FAO, the Food and Agricultural Organization, on the occasion of World Food Day 2003. The theme this year is "International Alliance Against Hunger."

The Pope opens the Message by noting that "the celebration of World Food Day invites us to reflect on the fact that hunger and malnutrition threaten the survival of many of our brothers and sisters daily. This harsh reality is a cause of division between individuals, social groups, communities and countries: indeed, it epitomizes the gap existing between levels of development and life-expectancy in different regions of the world."

"People are becoming increasingly aware," he writes, "of the need to unify aims and actions, as is the Church, which shares the hopes and sufferings of humanity. She is anxious to make her contribution to a solution that meets the expectations of each person. This prompts me, on the occasion of this World Food Day, to make a new appeal on behalf of the 'Alliance Against Hunger', an 'alliance' that must draw strength from a renewed understanding of multilateralism, ... founded on the idea of the international community as a 'family of nations' committed to pursuing the universal common good."

The Holy Father remarks that some of the elements at the basis of "the distressing phenomenon of poverty" include a "lack of management (and) the expansion of ideological and political systems far removed from the concept of solidarity. ... My thoughts go especially to Africa, where the situation continues to be quite alarming" with food shortages, conflicts, epidemics and constant displacements.

John Paul II states that "the Church, with her various institutions and organizations, wishes to play her role in this world 'Alliance Against Hunger' ... through her commitment to promote solidarity." He asks "the Christian communities, believers and all men and women of good will to live and work increasingly in the service of the poor and hungry, so that true reconciliation among individuals and peoples may come about."

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VATICAN CITY, OCT 17, 2003 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

- Aleksander Kwasniewski, president of the Republic of Poland, accompanied by his wife and an entourage.

- Seven prelates from the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales on their "ad limina" visit:

- Archbishop Vincent Gerard Nichols of Birmingham, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Philip Pargeter.

- Bishop Declan Ronan Lang of Clifton.

- Bishop Brian Michael Noble of Shrewsbury.

- Archbishop Peter Smith of Cardiff.

- Bishop Mark Jabale, O.S.B., of Menevia.

- Bishop Edwin Regan of Wrexham.

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VATICAN CITY, OCT 17, 2003 (VIS) - Following are excerpts from a statement released today by the Bishop's Conference of England and Wales, which is meeting in Rome:

"During this week the BBC, mainly through its Religious Affairs Department, is giving good coverage to the celebations of the twenty-five years of the Pontificate of John Paul II and to the life of Mother Teresa of Calcutta. This is much appreciated.

"In this same week, however, BBC News and Current Affairs, have broadcast two programmes which have been biased against and hostile to the Catholic Church. In doing so they have given offence to many Catholics.

"The first was a BBC Panorama programme, on Sunday 12 October, entitled 'Sex and the Holy City'" which maintained that "while the Pope preaches peace and life, his teachings and the actions of the Catholic Church (in opposing abortion and contraception) bring about widespread poverty and death."

The statement says the second programme "Kenyon Confronts" on October 15 "focussed on past cases of the abuse of children involving two priests over twenty years ago" and, while it contained "significant disclosures, ... they were set alongside contentious and biased reporting of the Church's actions, both past and present."

"For many decades the BBC has deserved and enjoyed a world-wide reputation for fairness and objectivity, especially in its News and Current Affairs. This reputation is increasingly tarnished. In England and Wales there is considerable concern that elements within the BBC are simply hostile to religious belief and to any traditional sense of the sacred.

"Furthermore, the decision to broadcast both of these programmes in the week when Catholic people throughout the world are celebrating the Silver Jubilee of the Pope and the life of Mother Teresa is a distressing sign of this insensitivity."

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VATICAN CITY, OCT 17, 2003 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed:

- Bishop Joseph Mitsuaki Takami, P.S.S., auxiliary of the archdiocese of Nagasaki, Japan, as metropolitan archbishop of the same archdiocese (area 4,192, population 1,511,890, Catholics 68,551, priests 152, permanent deacons 1, religious 948).

- Msgr. Luigi Moretti, secretary prelate of the vicariate of Rome, as vice-gerent of the diocese of Rome, elevating him to the dignity of archbishop.

- Msgr. Mauro Parmeggiani, director of the service for the youth ministry in the diocese of Rome, as prelate secretary of the vicariate of Rome.

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