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Friday, December 19, 2003


VATICAN CITY, DEC 19, 2003 (VIS) - Pope John Paul this morning welcomed a group of young boys and girls from Italian Catholic Action, who came to wish him a Merry Christmas, and he thanked them for their "very welcome visit."

"There are only a few more days until Christmas," he said, "that great feast which commemorates the birth of Jesus. Two thousand years ago He came into the world to save all of mankind and He constantly comes to visit us. Our Lady, who gave birth to Him in Bethlehem, helps us to welcome him with generosity. Christ's gift to us is peace. I ask you, dear boys and girls, to be messengers of His peace in your families and with your peers."

"As you return home bring my very best Christmas wishes to your dear ones and don't forget to pray for the Pope."

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VATICAN CITY, DEC 19, 2003 (VIS) - Today the Holy Father received a group of lawyers who, on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of his pontificate, presented him with a book of reflections and observations inspired by papal teachings. More than 420 lawyers from all over the world, including experts in Judaism and Islam, contributed to the volume, entitled "John Paul II: Paths of Justice."

The Pope said that he joined them in their "conviction that, in order to promote man and his dignity, and to pursue the common good and understanding among peoples, the only road to take is that of making the 'force' of the law prevail, with due respect for people of every culture, language and religion."

"This is what I wanted to emphasize in the Message for the upcoming World Day of Peace, recalling at the same time the importance and urgency of educating to peace. I hope very much," he concluded, "that this work may contribute to better demonstrate the fundamental duty to safeguard human rights, merits and also the limits of globalization and the value of European integration and peace."

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VATICAN CITY, DEC 19, 2003 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

- Appointed Bishop Rigoberto Corredor Bermudez of Buenaventura, Colombia as bishop of Garzon (area 9,667, population 461,000, Catholics 447,000, priests 81, religious 191), Colombia.

- Appointed Fr. Lucas Van Looy, S.D.B., vicar general of the Salesian Society of St. John Bosco, as bishop of Ghent (area 2,995, population 1,400,000. Catholics 174,000, priests 821, permanent 64, religious 2,891), Belgium. The bishop-elect was born in 1941 in Tielen, Belgium and was ordained a priest in 1970. The Holy Father accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese presented by Bishop Arthur Luysterman in accordance with Canon 401, para. 2, of the Code of Canon Law.

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VATICAN CITY, DEC 19, 2003 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

- Four prelates from the French Episcopal Conference on their "ad limina" visit:

- Archbishop Bernard Barsi of Monaco.

- Bishop Jean Bonfils of Nice, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Guy de Kerimel.

- Msgr. Gaston Pietri, diocesan administrator of Ajaccio.

- Fernando Estrada Samano, ambassador of Mexico, on his farewell visit.

- Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

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