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Wednesday, December 10, 2003


VATICAN CITY, DEC 10, 2003 (VIS) - In today's general audience celebrated in the Paul VI Hall, the Pope continued with his catechesis on the psalms and canticles which are part of the ecclesial prayer of vespers, and spoke of a hymn in chapter 19 of the Apocalypse, composed of alleluias and acclamations.

The Holy Father noted that in this hymn various personalities from the heavenly liturgy speak: 'An 'immense crowd,' made up of the assembly of the angels and the saints. The voice of the 'twenty four elders' stands out as well as that of the 'four living beings,' symbolic figures that seem to be the priests of this heavenly liturgy of praise and thanksgiving. At the end, a single voice rises up which involves the 'immense crowd' in the hymn.'

'At the heart of this joyful invocation is the representation of the decisive intervention of God in history: the Lord is not indifferent to human events, like an isolated and authoritarian ruler. ' On the contrary, His gaze is the source of action because He intervenes and destroys arrogant and oppressive rulers, He rebukes the proud who challenge Him, and judges all those who commit evil.'

John Paul II emphasized that 'our prayer must invoke and praise divine action, the Lord's effective justice, and His glory obtained through the triumph of evil. God becomes present in history, siding with the just and with victims, as the short and concise acclamation of the Apocalypse declares and as is often repeated in the Psalms.'

Following the audience and upon returning to his private apartments, the Pope appeared at the window of his study overlooking St. Peter's Square to greet the members of the Italian Air Force, headed by the Military Ordinate and the head of the Major State of the Armed Forces, on the feast today of their patroness, Our Lady of Loreto.

'The feast of your heavenly patroness,' said the Holy Father, 'gives me the opportunity to invite you to always direct your gaze on Our Lady of Loreto. May she be a model to refer to constantly and a safe guide of your life. Invoke her with confidence in every situation: she will be your aid, consolation and hope. I take this occasion to wish you and your families a Happy and Holy Christmas.'

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VATICAN CITY, DEC 10, 2003 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Fr. Valdomiro Koubetch, O.S.B.M., professor of Theological Studies of the Claretian Fathers in Curitiba, Brazil, as coadjutor bishop of the eparchy of Sao Joao Batista em Curitiba of the Ukraines (Catholics 161,500, priests 67, permanent deacons 2, religious 547), Brazil. The bishop-elect was born in 1953 in Mandaguacu, Brazil and was ordained a priest in 1981.

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VATICAN CITY, DEC 10, 2003 (VIS) - Made public today was the speech given by Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, Holy See permanent observer to the United Nations Office and Other International Organizations in Geneva during the 28(th) International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent held in that Swiss city from December 2 to 6.

The nuncio noted that this conference 'takes place at a moment marked by rumbles of war and by an explosion of terrorism of such a magnitude unknown before today. Civilian victims of well reported and of forgotten wars and of their destructive consequences run in the millions. In fact, some States and non'State actors try to exploit the desperation of endemic poverty and of extreme social inequality by promoting their private objectives through violent actions.'

On the question of humanitarian law, Archbishop Tomasi said that 'some governments are reticent in accepting effective control mechanisms while public opinion seems to have become accustomed to violations of humanitarian law as if the painful spectacle of so many victims were leading to resignation instead of prompting a reaction capable of influencing wrong political and military choices.' He stressed that 'the Holy See looks at international humanitarian law as an important, invaluable, non-negotiable and still relevant instrument' and 'will continue to promote appropriate initiatives of inter-religious character to defend human dignity during armed conflicts and to increase respect for international humanitarian law, especially through the vast network of Catholic education institutions.'

The archbishop pointed out that 'a sadly eloquent sign among others of disregard towards humanitarian law is given by the attacks purposely directed against humanitarian personnel who generously serve in the midst of conflicts, in particular by the recent deadly attacks against the International Committee of the Red Cross.'

He closed by affirming that 'the Movement of the Red Cross and the Red Crescent can count on the partnership and support of the Catholic Church. Collaboration with religious institutions and faith communities will make for a more effective humanitarian action.'

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