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Monday, November 17, 2003


VATICAN CITY, NOV 15, 2003 (VIS) - Following is the text of a telegram sent by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, secretary of State, in the Holy Father's name, for the terrorist attacks this morning near two synagogues in Istanbul, Turkey which resulted in 23 deaths:

'Upon learning of the attacks which took place in downtown Istanbul, the Holy Father has asked me to convey his deepest condolences to the entire nation and all the people who were affected. He asks God Almighty to welcome those who died into His kingdom and to sustain the wounded, and the families who are undergoing such a hard trial, as well as the faithful affected by this new drama which touches all men of good will. He asks God to aid volunteers and all who are comforting those grieving. The Pope makes an appeal once again to all men and women around the world to move in favor of peace and against terrorism with respect for freedom of beliefs and personal convictions, so that religion may never be the source of conflicts that bloody and disfigure humanity.'

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VATICAN CITY, NOV 15, 2003 (VIS) - This morning in the Paul VI Hall, the Holy Father received 8,500 participants in a pilgrimage organized by UNITALSI, which is commemorating 100 years of activity. The Italian ecclesiastical association of volunteers assists the sick during pilgrimages to international Marian shrines.

John Paul urged all the members of UNITALSI, the sick and handicapped, as well as volunteers, doctors and priests to 'keep alive the charism of your ecclesiastical association. Nourish your personal experience and work in UNITALSI by listening to the Word and prayer, with an intense sacramental life and an incessant search for the divine will. This is how one offers 'spiritual worship' pleasing to God.'

After recalling that the beginnings of the association are linked to the Marian shrine at Lourdes, the Pope affirmed: 'In an attempt to imitate Our Lady, who after accepting the 'Word made flesh' in her womb went to visit Elizabeth, make yourselves available for humble and simple service. She will always help you and in every situation she will be your sustenance.'

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VATICAN CITY, NOV 16, 2003 (VIS) - Before praying the Angelus today at noon with the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square, the Pope spoke about the terrorist attacks which took place on Wednesday and Saturday in Iraq and Turkey, condemning once again this type of activity:

'Once again, in recent days, terrorism has carried out its evil work, particularly devastating in Iraq and Turkey. As I continue to pray for the victims, I renew the expression of my spiritual closeness to all the families who mourn their dead. I express at the same time my heartfelt solidarity to all those who are involved in taking care of the wounded and repairing the damage caused. No one can give into the temptation of discouragement or vengeance: respect for life, international solidarity, observance of the law must prevail over hate and violence.'

The Holy Father also renewed his 'firm condemnation of all terrorist activity carried out recently in the Holy Land. I must also say that unfortunately in those places the dynamism of peace seems to be at a standstill. The construction of a wall between the Israeli and Palestinian people is seen by many as a new obstacle on the road toward peaceful coexistence. In reality, the Holy Land does not need walls but bridges! Without the reconciliation of souls, there can be no peace.'

'Let us entrust the people in that part of the world to the God of mercy and peace through the intercession of Our Lady. May leaders,' he concluded, 'have the courage to return to dialogue and negotiation, thus opening up the way toward a Middle East that is reconciled in justice and peace.'

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

- Appointed Fr. Anthony Muheria of the Prelature of Opus Dei as bishop of Embu (area 2,822,489, population 489,737, Catholics 167,983, priests 45, religious 92), Kenya. The bishop-elect was born in 1963 in Kaburugi, Kenya and was ordained a priest in 1993.

- Appointed Msgr. Jose Romeo Orquejo Lazo, member of the Committee for the 'Assist' program of the Episcopal Conference, as bishop of the diocese of Kalibo (area 1,817, population 472,782, Catholics 414,671, priests 52, religious 65), Philippines. The bishop-elect was born in San Jose de Buenavista, Philippines and was ordained a priest in 1975.

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VATICAN CITY, NOV 17, 2003 (VIS) - The Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff communicated today that on November 23 at 6 p.m., Cardinal Jean-Baptiste Pham Minh Man, metropolitan archbishop of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, will take possession of the title of St. Justin on Viale Alessandrino, 144, Rome.



VATICAN CITY, NOV 17, 2003 (VIS) - This morning John Paul II received bishops from the ecclesiastical provinces of Madras-Maylapore, Madurai and Pondicherry-Cuddalore at the end of a series of 'ad limina' visits made by bishops from India. In his speech, the Holy Father underscored the importance of a 'true spirit of solidarity in the Church and in society.'

'Like so many places in the world,' said the Pope, 'India is beset by numerous social problems. In some ways, these challenges are exacerbated because of the unjust system of caste division which denies the human dignity of entire groups of people. In this regard, I repeat what I said during my first pastoral visit to your country: 'Ignorance and prejudice must be replaced by tolerance and understanding. Indifference and class struggle must be turned into brotherhood and committed service. Discrimination based on race, color, creed, sex or ethnic origin must be rejected as totally incompatible with human dignity'.'

Afterward, John Paul II praised the many initiatives implemented by the Bishops' Conference and individual Churches 'to fight this injustice' and encouraged the bishops to 'continue to make certain that special attention is given to those belonging to the lowest casts. ' Any semblance of a caste-based prejudice in relations between Christians is a countersign to authentic human solidarity ' and a serious hindrance to the Church's mission of evangelization. Therefore, customs or traditions that perpetuate or reinforce cast division should be sensitively reformed so that they may become an expression of the solidarity reformed.'

The Holy Father then went on to speak about the new evangelization, emphasizing that it is of 'special importance in modern societies, in which large portions of the population find themselves in desperate situations often leading them to seek quick and easy solutions to complicated problems. This sense of hopelessness may explain, in part, why so many people ' are attracted by fundamentalist sects offering short-lived emotional fervor and an assurance of wealth and worldly achievement.'

'Our response to this must be one of 're-evangelization',' he continued, ' ' to show people the emptiness of such promises, while convincing them that Christ and his Body share their sufferings.' Referring specifically to the clergy, the Holy Father said that 'as men of faith, priests must not let the temptation of power or material gain distract them from their vocations, nor can they permit ethnic or cast difference to detract from their fundamental charge to spread the Gospel. ' Bishops are to love and respect their priests. Likewise, priests should love and honor their Bishops. ' Personal differences or accidents of birth must never under undermine this essential role.'

At the end, John Paul II recalled that 'a firm commitment to mutual support ensures our unity in mission which is founded on Christ himself and enables us to approach all cultures, all ideological concepts, all people of good will. ' The Church also urges the faithful to enter with prudence and charity into discussion and collaboration with members of other religions. ' The Catholic Church in India has consistently promoted the dignity of every person and fostered the corresponding right of all peoples to religious freedom. Her encouragement of tolerance and respect of other religions is demonstrated by the many programs of inter-religious exchange which you have developed on both national and local levels. I encourage you to continue these frank and helpful discussions with those of other religions. Such discussions will help us to cultivate this mutual search for truth, harmony and peace.'

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VATICAN CITY, NOV 17, 2003 (VIS) - Today the Holy Father received in separate audiences eight prelates from the Belgian Episcopal Conference:

- Cardinal Godfried Daneels, archbishop Mechelen-Brussel, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishops Remy Victor Vancottem, Jan De Bie, and Jozef De Kesel.

- Bishop Paul Schruers of Hasselt, accompanied by Coadjutor Bishop Patrick Hoogmartens.

- Bishop Paul Van den Berghe of Antwerpen.

- Bishop Roger Joseph Vangheluwe of Brugge.

On Saturday November 15, the Holy Father received in separate audiences:

- Three prelates from the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India on their 'ad limina' visit:

- Bishop Joseph Anthony Irudayaraj, S.D.B. of Dharmapuri.

- Bishop Devadass Ambrose Mariadoss of Tanjore.

- Bishop Singaboyan Sebastianappan of Salem.

- Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for the Bishops.

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