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The Vatican Information Service is a news service, founded in the Holy See Press Office, that provides information about the Magisterium and the pastoral activities of the Holy Father and the Roman Curia...[]

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Friday, January 30, 2004


VATICAN CITY, JAN 30, 2004 (VIS) - The Pope today welcomed the prelates from the ecclesiastical provinces of Dijon and Tours and of the prelature of the Mission de France. He focused his talk to them on the vocation and mission of the laity, noting that their numbers, as those of priests, have diminished in recent years in France but that the bishops hold out hope because of the philosophical, theological and spiritual preparation of the lay faithful who are assisting pastors.

The laity in France, he observed, in seeking to better serve the Church, "are looking for a greater coherence between faith and its expression in daily life, .. .have rediscovered enthusiasm for studying Scripture and mediating on the Word, and have a growing sense of responsibility for and commitment to justice and works of solidarity in the face of new situations of precariousness." Pastoral structures have diminished in size as have the number of people serving them but "there are many who have generously accepted to dedicated themselves to parish life, under the pastor and in respect for the ordained ministry."

The Holy Father highlighted the need for communion among priests and bishops and the faithful, through which they can all more effectively "evangelize cultures, by making the strength of the Bible penetrate the realities of the family, the workplace, the media, sports and free time, and, in a Christian way, to animate the social order and public, national and international life." He remarked that he was thankful for the work the bishops have done to help young people discover - or rediscover - faith as they ask themselves about faith and the meaning of life.

Turning to the question of Sunday Mass," he underscored that "it does not have the place that it should. Pastors thus must take care to remind the faithful in a forceful and clear way ... of the meaning of the Sunday obligation and of participation in the Sunday Eucharist, which can never be just a simple option in the midst of many activities."

John Paul II highlighted the need for ongoing formation, for pastors as well as for the faithful helping out in parish activities such as catechesis. "In particular," he said, "it would be good to permanently form philosophers and theologians who can give Christians the intellectual foundations they need."

The Pope told the prelates that "the family must be at the center of your concerns. The family is not just a model of relationships among many others, it is a type of relationship that is indispensable for the future of society." Great care, he added, must be given to preparing young people as they look to marriage, "proposing to them a positive vision of affective relations and of sexuality." He went on to say that "we cannot be a witness, powerless, to the phenomenon of the disintegration of the family." The Church hopes to help "change behavior so that the positive values connected to conjugal and family life, will triumph, ... in the face of the often destructive messages of today's society which allow people to think that all affective behaviors are good, thus denying any moral qualification of human acts."


VATICAN CITY, JAN 30, 2004 (VSI) - The Holy Father this morning received the Letters of Credence of the new ambassador of the Republic of China, Chou-seng Tou, and remarked in his talk in English that "the religious and cultural traditions of the Republic of China bear witness to the fact that human development should not be limited to economic or material success.

"Many of the ascetical and mystical elements of Asian religions teach that it is not the acquirement of material wealth which defines the progress of individuals and societies, but rather a civilization's ability to foster the interior dimension and transcendent vocation of men and women."

John Paul II affirmed that "the good of society entails that the right to religious freedom be enshrined in law and be given effective protection. The Republic of China has shown its respect for the various religious traditions found therein and recognizes the right of all to practice their religion. Religions are a component in the life and culture of a nation and bring a great sense of well-being to a community by offering a certain level of social order, tranquillity, harmony and assistance to the weak and the outcast."

He underlined the "significant contribution" of the Catholic Church "to your Nation's social and cultural development, especially by its dedication to education, health care and assistance to the less fortunate. Through these and other activities, the Church continues to help foster the peace and unity of all peoples. In this way she pursues her spiritual and humanitarian mission, and contributes to building a society of justice, trust and cooperation.

"Also," added the Pope, "governments at all times should strive to maintain contact with the marginalized of their own countries as well as with the poor and outcast of the world at large. ... In this regard, I appreciate the Republic of China's many works of charity in the international arena and most especially in the developing world. It is my hope that the people of Taiwan will continue to promote charitable activities and thus contribute to the building of an enduring peace in the world."


VATICAN CITY, JAN 30, 2004 (VIS) - In a Message made public today, Pope John Paul told the participants in a meeting in Rome on the theme "Natural Fertility Regulation and the Culture of Life" that they are studying "very current matters, very interesting for the development of the relationship between science and faith." He noted that the Church has always promoted "the culture of responsible procreation and has promoted the awareness and diffusion of the so-called 'natural' methods of fertility regulation."

There is a mentality today, said the Pope, that "on the one hand appears intimidated in the face of responsible procreation and, on the other hand, would like to dominate and manipulate life," the latter as the result of "a certain propaganda." What must be developed, he said, is "a capillary educational and formative work with regards to married couples, engaged couples, young people in general, and social and pastoral workers to adequately illustrate all the aspects of natural fertility regulation."

"It is clear," he stated, "that when one speaks of 'natural' regulation, we are not referring only to respecting biological rhythms. It is a question of ... responding to the truth about the human person in their intimate unity of spirit, psyche and body, a unity that can never be merely reduced to an overall question of biological mechanisms. Only in the context of the spouses' reciprocal love, total and without reserve, can the moment of generating life, to which the future of mankind is tied, be lived in all its dignity."


VATICAN CITY, JAN 30, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father received the following in separate audiences today:

- Archbishop Celestino Migliore, Holy See permanent observer to the United Nations.

- Three prelates of the Episcopal Conference of France:

- Bishop Francis Deniau of Nevers.

- Bishop Georges Edmond Robert Gilson of Sens, prelate of the Mission of France.

-Rev. Luc Lalire, vicar general of Dijon.

- Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
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Thursday, January 29, 2004

VATICAN CITY, JAN 29, 2004 (VIS) - This morning, the dean, judges, promoters of justice, defenders of the bond, officials and attorneys of the Roman Rota, were received by the Pope on the occasion of the inauguration of the judicial year.

In his speech this year, the Holy Father addressed the topic of "'favor iuris' enjoyed by marriage and the subsequent presumption of validity in the case of doubts, declared by Canon 1060 of the Code of Canon Law and Canon 779 of the Code of the Canons of the Eastern Churches."

John Paul II said that the "'favor iuris' of marriage implies the presumption of validity until the contrary is demonstrated." Such a presumption, he added, "cannot be interpreted as a mere protection of appearances or of the status quo, since there is the possibility of refuting the act within reasonable limits."

"What can we say then of the theory that the failure itself of married life presumes the invalidity of the marriage?" he asked. "The declaration of true nullity should lead rather to ascertaining with greater seriousness, at the moment of marriage, the necessary requisites for marrying, especially those concerning the consent and the authentic dispositions of the couple. Pastors and those who collaborate with them in this realm have the serious duty not to give in to a merely bureaucratic vision of premarital investigation (see Canon 1067)."

The Pope emphasized that "often the real problem is not so much the presumption in words as much as the overall vision of marriage itself and, therefore, the process of ascertaining the validity of its celebration. Such a process is essentially inconceivable outside of the horizon of ascertaining the truth."

"The tendency to increase the number of annulments through manipulation, forgetting the perspective of objective truth, implies a structural distortion of the entire process. ... The fundamental dimension of the justice of marriage which bases its existence on a intrinsically juridical reality, is substituted by empirical theories which are sociological, psychological in nature, etc, as well as by different ways of juridical positivism. ... We cannot forget that an authentic juridical consideration of marriage requires a metaphysical vision of the human person and of the relationship between husbands and wives. Without this ontological foundation, the institution of marriage becomes a mere external superstructure, fruit of the law and social conditioning which limits a person in his free realization."

The Holy Father concluded by underscoring that "it is necessary to rediscover the truth, the goodness and beauty of the institution of marriage which, as a work of God Himself through human nature and the free consent of couples, continues to be a indissoluble personal reality, like the bond of justice and peace, united from the beginning to the design of salvation and elevated in the fullness of the times to the dignity of the Christian sacrament. This is the reality that the Church and the world must promote! This the true 'favor matrimonii!'"


VATICAN CITY, JAN 29, 2004 (VIS) - Pope John Paul's Lenten Message for 2004, dated December 8, 2003, was made public today in English, Spanish, Italian, German, French, Portuguese and Polish. Following are selections:

"This year's theme - 'Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me' - invites us to reflect on the condition of children. ... Jesus' words call upon us to see how children are treated in our families, in civil society, and in the Church."

"Jesus had a particular love for children because of 'their simplicity, their joy of life, their spontaneity, and their faith filled with wonder'. For this reason He wishes the community to open its arms and its heart to them, even as He did: 'Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me'. Alongside children Jesus sets the 'very least of the brethren': the suffering, the needy, the hungry and thirsty, strangers, the naked, the sick, and the imprisoned. In welcoming them and loving them, or in treating them with indifference and contempt, we show our attitude towards him, for it is in them that He is particularly present."

"In the years of his public life Jesus often insisted that only those who become like children will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. ...'Whoever humbles himself like this child, he is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven'.

"'To become' one of the least and 'to receive' the little ones: these are two aspects of a single teaching which the Lord repeats to His disciples in our time. Only the one who makes himself one of the "least" is able to receive with love the "least" of our brothers and sisters.

"Many believers strive faithfully to follow these teachings of the Lord. Here I would mention those parents who willingly take on the responsibility of a large family, mothers and fathers who, rather than considering success in their profession and career as the highest value, make every effort to pass on to their children those human and religious values that give true meaning to life.

"With great admiration I also think of all those committed to caring for underprivileged children and those who alleviate the sufferings of children and their families resulting from war and violence, inadequate food and water, forced immigration and the many forms of injustice present in the world.

"Together with such great generosity, however, a word must be said about the selfishness of those who do not 'receive' children. There are young people who have been profoundly hurt by the violence of adults: sexual abuse, forced prostitution, involvement in the sale and use of drugs; children forced to work or enlisted for combat; young children scarred forever by the breakup of the family; little ones caught up in the obscene trafficking of organs and persons."

"What evil have these children done to merit such suffering? From a human standpoint it is not easy, indeed it may be impossible, to answer this disturbing question. Only faith can make us begin to understand so profound an abyss of suffering."

"Dear Brothers and Sisters, let us set out with trust on our Lenten journey, sustained by fervent prayer, penance and concern for those in need. In particular, may this Lent be a time of ever greater concern for the needs of children, in our own families and in society as a whole: for they are the future of humanity."
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 29, 2004 (VIS) - This morning Archbishop Paul Josef Cordes, president of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum," presented the Holy Father's Lenten Message for 2004. The theme of this year's message is: "Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me." Msgr. Karel Kasteel, secretary of the same dicastery, and Fr. Angelo D'Agostino, S.J., founder and medical director of "Nyumbani," The Children of God Relief Institute in Nairobi, Kenya were also present.

Archbishop Cordes affirmed that in this year's message, the Pope wants to awaken consciences to the condition of children who were Jesus' favorites. "Treating them with indifference and rejecting them," he said, "means rejecting the Lord because He is present in them and He waits for us in them."

"Children are the 'smallest,' the neediest of all," he continued, "infants depend completely on the love of others; they are alive thanks to what those who are responsible for them give them."

Referring to the tragedy of AIDS, which John Paul II talks about in the Message, the president of "Cor Unum" indicated that children affected by the disease "prompt the greatest question that man asks himself about the goodness of the Heavenly Father: What evil have these children done to merit such suffering? From a human standpoint, there is no response to such a question. The Pope responds in this way in the Message: 'Only faith can make us begin to understand so profound an abyss of suffering'."

Citing the Pope's words that Lent is a "call for a radical conversion," Archbishop Cordes underlined that "this conversion will be the fruit of our getting close to God, of a reflection of His light and the grace of the sacrament of confession." Jesus accepted suffering "freely to save us from our sins. The perspective of faith gives us the courage to open our heart to our brothers and sisters in need, to children who are suffering."

At the end of his speech, the president of the dicastery announced two initiatives: the production by the Vatican Post Office of a series of special stamps on the Lenten message as well as a development project for orphan children with AIDS in the diocese of Nairobi, Kenya. Donations from outside Italy can be sent to the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum," Vatican City State, 00120, indicating that the sum is for Fr. D'Agostino's project in Nairobi.

Jesuit Father Angelo D'Agostino, founder and medical director of "Nyumbani" the Children of God Relief Institute of Nairobi, Kenya, noted that "with Ignatian insight, finding God in all things has served to find life in apparent death, healing in sickness, knowledge in ignorance. In the past the Church brought solace to lepers and the plague victim; today, HIV/AIDS cries out for relief. As a physician/priest I have tried to answer that cry."

He spoke of his many years of experience in Nairobi with HIV+ children, an overwhelming number of whom are orphans, pointing out that "in the early days we averaged 2 or 3 deaths a month, but since the advent of Anti-Retro Virus medications that has dropped drastically so that for all of 2003 we had not a single fatality. The ARV drugs are partly donated by the Brazilian government gratis but some have to be bought on the open market." In the community-based program serving 1,000 HIV+ orphans, "we suffer 7 or 8 deaths each month because we do not have the funds to pay the unaffordable prices demanded by the big international drug companies. Today at least 400 people die every day in Kenya because of AIDS."

Fr. D'Agostino underscored that the fact that AIDS is a killer in Africa and a chronic disease in Europe and North America is due to "the genocidal action of the drug cartels who refuse to make the drugs affordable in Africa even after they reported a $517 billion profit in 2002. This is a moral issue that shows the lack of social conscience by these capitalistic enterprises, which could easily save the lives of the 25 million sub-Saharan Africans who are HIV+ and otherwise doomed. How will we as Christians explain this silence on our part some 50 years from now?"


VATICAN CITY, JAN 29, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

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

- Bishop Andre Fort of Orleans, France.

- Bishop Raymond Seguy of Autun, France.

- Bishop Raffaello Funghini, dean of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota.

- College of Prelate Auditors of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota.
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 29, 2004 (VIS) - Msgr. Piero Monni, Holy See permanent observer to the World Tourism Organization, spoke today at the First World Conference on Communication in the Domain of Tourism, a two-day meeting which began today in Madrid, Spain that is being sponsored by the WTO, with the support of the Spanish government, the city of Madrid and FITUR, The International Tourism Fair.

Msgr. Monni, in his address, noted that "quality and professionalism are fundamental elements in the tourism industry. These elements also regard the communications sector, which must be transparent and honest when promoting tourism." He remarked on the great growth of the "on line" tourist market and "virtual travel," adding that "dynamism and specializations are the future for communications in tourism."

When it respects its clients through quality and transparency, the Internet is a positive communications tool. However "there is a type of on-line information for tourists that increases the diffusion of the disgraceful pedophile market and the so-called sexual tourism." He said that telematics can sometimes "favor the sexual exploitation of children because it makes it difficult to identify the authors of such crimes," adding that "the role of communications and communicators cannot evade the consideration of an ethical responsibility."

"At the moment, it seems like technology is not at man's service anymore, but that it is governing man. Today reflecting on the famous phrase of (Marshall) McLuhan, 'the medium is the message', it is finally clear what he wanted to say: the means become the aim of communications, while concepts and ideas take on a secondary role."

Wednesday, January 28, 2004


VATICAN CITY, JAN 28, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience Cardinal Camillo Ruini, vicar general for the diocese of Rome and president of the Italian Episcopal Conference.
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 28, 2004 (VIS) - Pope John Paul's Lenten Message for 2004 on the theme "Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me," will be presented in the Holy See Press Office at 11:30 a.m. tomorrow by Archbishop Paul Josef Cordes, president of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum." Joining him will be Msgr. Karel Kasteel, council secretary and Fr. Angelo D'Agostino, S.J., founder and medical director of "Nyumbani," The Children of God Relief Institute of Nairobi, Kenya.


VATICAN CITY, JAN 28, 2004 (VIS) - Archbishop Celestino Migliore, Holy See permanent observer to the United Nations, spoke yesterday in Stockholm, Sweden as head of the Holy See delegation to the Fourth Stockholm International Forum, "Preventing Genocide: Threats and Responsibilities." The conference began January 26 and ends today. The previous meetings were on the Holocaust, on Combating Intolerance, and on Truth, Justice and Reconciliation.

He began by noting that "humanity has seen world wars, genocides, mass murders, and ethnic cleansings. However, among all forms of large-scale violence, genocide sets itself apart by the evil motivation behind it, namely, its specific intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a nation, a race, an ethnic or religious group, a defenseless or vulnerable group of human beings, simply for being such. Indeed, genocide literally means to kill a race or a tribe. "

"My delegation," he stated, "wishes to highlight three specific points: first, the need to implement existing legal instruments against genocide; second, the central role of the international, regional and sub-regional Organizations; third, the commitment to education and vigilance against genocide."

The nuncio emphasized that the instruments and structures against genocide "have not prevented new genocides from happening. ... The international community is duty-bound to examine why they failed; have (they) become wanting in the face of evolving criminal strategies, or due to a lack of political will to implement them or due to interests overriding the survival of a nation or a group, or due to all these factors combined."

International organizations, he underscored, "have the task to muster international resolve to implement ... the juridical instruments and structures" for "they are the privileged fora . ... In this regard, the United Nations remains the central forum for global international rule making. ... However, not all member States, in particular developing countries, have the technical capacity to cope with all the international obligations."

Archbishop Migliore closed by stating that "educating individuals and communities ... on the horrors of genocide ... is a perennial and ever-timely duty incumbent upon us all. Genocide remains, unfortunately, a constant menace in some regions of the world" and "is latent in places where eliminating the other is considered a 'fast solution' to drawn-out rivalries and unresolved conflicts."


VATICAN CITY, JAN 28, 2004 (VIS) - In today's general audience celebrated in the Paul VI Hall, the Pope continued the Wednesday catechesis with commentary on the psalms, and spoke about Psalm 10, "The faith of the just is in the Lord."

"The spiritual tone of the entire hymn," said the Pope, "is expressed well by the concluding verse: 'The Lord is righteous, He loves righteous deeds.' This is the root of all faith and the source of every hope in the day of darkness and trial. God is not indifferent to good and evil. He is a good God and not a dark power, indecipherable and mysterious."

John Paul II indicated that in the first of the two episodes of the psalm "the godless one is described in his apparent triumph," as the one who wants "to violently strike his victim, the faithful" and the faithful "feels alone and powerless before the eruption of evil." He went on to say that in the second episode, "the Lord, seated on his celestial throne, embraces with His penetrating gaze the entire human world. From that transcendent position, sign of omniscience and divine omnipotence, God can examine and evaluate each person, distinguishing good from evil and condemning injustice with force."

"The Lord," he added, "is not a remote sovereign, closed in His golden world, but rather He is a vigilant Presence that is on the side of good and justice. He sees and provides, intervening with His word and action." The godless one, "rained down upon with coals fire and brimstone, symbols of God's judgement," experiences first hand that "there is a God Who judges on the earth."

The Pope emphasized that "the last verse opens up the horizon to the light and peace destined to the just man who will contemplate his Lord, a just judge, but overall a merciful liberator: 'The upright will behold His face.' It is an experience of common joy and of serene faith in God Who frees man from evil."

"Many just men throughout history have had a similar experience," he concluded. "Many stories describe the faith of the Christian martyrs in the face of tempests and their firmness in not shunning the trial."
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 28, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

- Appointed Bishop Raymundo Damasceno Assis, auxiliary of Brasilia, Brazil, as metropolitan archbishop of Aparecida (area 1,300, population 220,000, Catholics 198,000, priests 94, permanent deacons 2, religious 301), Brazil. The archbishop-elect was born in Capela Nova, Brazil in 1937 and was ordained a priest in 1968. He succeeds Cardinal Aloisio Lorscheider, O.F.M., whose resignation from the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted upon having reached the age limit.

- Appointed Bishop Walmor Oliveira de Azevedo, auxiliary of Sao Salvador da Bahia, Brazil, as metropolitan archbishop of Belo Horizonte (area 7,420, population 4,325,642, Catholics 3,244,231, priests 548, religious 2,303), Brazil. The archbishop-elect was born in 1954 and was ordained a priest in 1977. He succeeds Cardinal Serafim Fernandes de Araujo whose resignation from the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted upon having reached the age limit.

- Appointed Archbishop Joao Braz de Aviz of Maringa, Brazil, as metropolitan archbishop of Brasilia (area 5,814, population 2,043,169, Catholics 1,573,240, priests 209, permanent deacons 22, religious 668), Brazil. He succeeds Cardinal Jose Freire Falcao whose resignation from the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted upon having reached the age limit.
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Tuesday, January 27, 2004


VATICAN CITY, JAN 27, 2004 (VIS) - United States Vice President Dick Cheney, his wife and an entourage were welcomed to the Vatican at 11 this morning by Pope John Paul II. A subsequent meeting with Cardinal Secretary of State Angelo Sodano also took place.

"I am pleased to welcome you and your family to the Vatican and to receive the cordial greetings which you bring from President Bush," said the Holy Father. "The American people have always cherished the fundamental values of freedom, justice and equality. In a world marked by conflict, injustice and division, the human family needs to foster these values in its search for unity, peace and respect for the dignity of all. I encourage you and your fellow citizens to work, at home and abroad, for the growth of international cooperation and solidarity in the service of that peace which is the deepest aspiration of all men and women. Upon you and all the American people I cordially invoke the abundant blessings of Almighty God."

Following the encounter, Holy See Press Office Director Joaquin Navarro-Valls made the following statement:

"This morning the Vice President of the United States of America, Richard Cheney, paid a visit to His Holiness John Paul II after which he met with Cardinal Angelo Sodano, secretary of State, and Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, secretary for Relations with States.

"During the course of the conversations there was an exchange of opinions on the international situation, with special attention to the peace process in the Middle East and to developments in the situation in Iraq. There was also an examination of the moral and religious problems that touch upon the life of States, especially relative to the defense and promotion of life, the family, solidarity and religious freedom."


VATICAN CITY, JAN 27, 2004 (VIS) - John Paul II will preside at a Mass on the feast of the Presentation of the Lord on Monday, February 2, the Eighth Day of Consecrated Life, at 5:30 p.m. in St. Peter's Basilica, according to a communique from the Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff.

The Pope will preside at the liturgy of the Word: he will bless the candles and participate in the initial procession and, after delivering the homily, will lead prayers of thanksgiving to God for the gift of consecrated life. At the end of the Mass, he will impart the apostolic blessing.

Cardinal Eduardo Martinez Somalo, prefect of the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic life, will celebrate the Eucharist. The secretary, undersecretary and bureau chiefs of the congregation, as well as the priest members of the Board of Directors of the Union of Superior Generals, will concelebrate.


VATICAN CITY, JAN 27, 2004 (VIS) - James T. Morris, executive director of the World Food Program, was received in audience by the Holy Father this morning who said "I am pleased to greet you and to express once more my deep appreciation of all that the World Food Program does to assist those who suffer from hunger and malnutrition throughout the world."

"The complexities of our modern era," the Pope added, speaking English, "are such that the joint commitment and efforts of many different organizations are necessary if the nutritional needs of millions of men, women and children are to be adequately met. This is no easy task. But I am confident that, with the help and support of countless people of good will, the World Food Program will continue to be an important instrument of solidarity and assistance in the ongoing battle against undernourishment and starvation. I gladly assure you and all involved in this essential undertaking of my prayers. May Almighty God bless your work with success."

Headquartered in Rome, this agency of the United Nations was set up in 1963 and is the primary U.N. office in fighting world hunger. The WFP uses food to meet emergency needs throughout the world and provides the logistical support for getting food to people in emergencies. It also uses food to support economic and social development. The WFO is governed by an Executive Board consisting of 36 member States. The executive director is appointed by the U.N. secretary general and the director general of FAO for a five-year term.


VATICAN CITY, JAN 27, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed:

- Archbishop Renzo Fratini, apostolic nuncio in Indonesia and East Timor, as apostolic nuncio in Nigeria.

- Msgr. Vito Rallo, nunciature counsellor, as special envoy and permanent observer of the Holy See to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, France.
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 27, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience Vicente Espeche Gil, ambassador of Argentina, accompanied by his wife, on his farewell visit.
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 27, 2004 (VIS) - This morning the Holy Father received Archbishop Zygmunt Kaminski of Szczecin-Kamien, Poland with a delegation, headed by the rector, from the academic senate from the University of Szczecin.

"You have come," said the Pope, "on the occasion of a special event. The senate of the university decided that the university will embrace within its walls the Faculty of Theology that until now has carried out its scientific and educational activity independently."

John Paul II emphasized that a theological faculty "comes about due to the need for dialogue between reason and faith. ... This type of dialogue is necessary so that the fruits of scientific research in different disciplines serve the full development of human beings. Just as reason cannot be separated from the soul, science cannot be fully transmitted without keeping in mind the needs of the human soul which is open to the infinite. In addition, development in the sciences entails many ethical questions that should be resolved while respecting the autonomy of the sciences and the spirit of truth."

"The collegial tendency toward the knowledge of truth about man, the dignity of the human person, the value of life and, at the same time, the greatness of scientific results in all disciplines, will surely serve in the deeper study of transmitted knowledge."

Monday, January 26, 2004


VATICAN CITY, JAN 25, 2004 (VIS) - Pope John Paul, addressing the thousands of faithful assembled in St. Peter's Square to pray the Angelus, reflected on the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity and the World Day of Leprosy and greeted the young people of Italian Catholic Action who, in the New Year, traditionally come to St. Peter's Square on their "Caravan of Peace" to conclude the Month of Peace.

Before the Angelus, the Pope noted that "today, feast of the conversion of the Apostle Paul, concludes the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity during which, in every corner of the world, Christians prayed together for the full realization of their unity according to the will of the Lord, 'Ut unum sint, that they may be one'. Christ's ardent invocation in the Cenacle continues to remind Christian communities that unity is a gift to welcome and develop in an ever deeper way." He underscored that "Christian unity has been a constant concern of my pontificate and continues to be a demanding priority of my ministry." Christ's wish "is an imperative that obliges us, the strength that sustains us, a salutary rebuke for our lethargy and narrow-mindedness."

After reciting the Angelus, the Holy Father pointed out that "this afternoon, in the basilica of St. Paul's-Outside-the-Walls there will be the traditional ecumenical celebration for the closing of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. I invite everyone to unite themselves spiritually to this event."

He also underscored that today is the World Day of Leprosy and invited the faithful to pray for those with Hansen's disease.

John Paul II was then joined at his study window by two young people from Catholic Action of Rome who represented the thousands of ACR members gathered in St. Peter's Square. They read a message of affection to the Pope, thanking him for his commitment to world peace and then, joined by the Holy Father, they released two white doves, one of whom refused to fly away and sat calmly on the window sill. In off-the cuff-remarks, a visibly delighted Pope thanked the young people for their words and told them he too loved them.


VATICAN CITY, JAN 24, 2004 (VIS) - The Islamic-Catholic Liaison Committee, which held its ninth meeting in the Vatican January 19-20 on the theme "Human Dignity and Humanitarian Rights in Armed Conflicts," issued a press release today in which the members appealed "for continuous prayer for peace" and affirmed "that justice and peace are the basis of relations and of interaction among human persons."

Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue and head of the Vatican delegation, and Prof. Hamid bin Ahmad AL-Rifaie, president of the International Islamic Forum for Dialogue in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia head of the Islamic delegation, signed the communique.

The document stated that the theme of the meeting "was treated from a religious point of view according to the teaching of our two religious traditions." In addition to an appeal for prayer for peace, the press release appealed for "an immediate end to all conflicts, including all forms of armed conflict, as well as forms of aggression against the security and stability of peoples. We affirm the rights of peoples to self-determination, so that human life be spared, especially that of innocent people, children, women, the elderly and the disabled.

"We appeal for the full respect for humanitarian law and for the rights of civilians ... and prisoners during armed conflict, ... for the preservation of infrastructures, ... for respect for the sacred character of places of worship and for their protection in time of war and in peace. We affirm the right to religious freedom and the practice of our religions according to their peculiarities."

"We are convinced," concludes the document, "that violence generates violence, and that this vicious circle should end. We declare that dialogue is the best way for treating conflicts and wars and for realizing justice and peace among human beings and societies."


VATICAN CITY, JAN 25, 2004 (VIS) - On the occasion of the Fifty-first World Day of Leprosy, which takes place today, Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry, sent a message to bishops who have been entrusted by their episcopal conferences with this pastoral ministry and to all those who are involved in the fight against leprosy.

Cardinal Lozano recalls that "according to data published at the beginning of 2003 by the World Health Organization and referring to 2002, 620,000 new cases of leprosy were reported: 48,248 in Africa; 39,939 in the Americas; 4,665 in the East Mediterranean; 520,632 in South East Asia (of which 78% were in India); 7,154 in the Western Pacific, and 34 in Europe."

Notwithstanding this data, "the successes obtained in recent times in the treatment of Hansen's disease have provided grounds for satisfaction and have generated hope that a definitive solution will be achieved over the next five years, and at the same time have led international and national health care institutions to launch a new approach to the effects of this pandemic."

The president of the council for health care ministry affirms that "scientific research, pharmacological forms of treatment, improvements in conditions of hygiene and community medicine, acting together can finally foster the uprooting of this disease, which has accompanied the history of mankind for many years. This is a praiseworthy action that can certainly be supported."

In terms of practical conclusions, as regards doctrine, "we should encourage and accompany scientific research by pointing out to specialists the contents, at the level of values, that must be respected in every individual aspect of epidemiological, biological and pharmacological research so that the unity and the dignity of the person is not lost from sight, above all in experimentation. The ethical criteria that guide good clinical practice constitute moral principles that must be respected always and everywhere so that no person, above all if he or she is gravely ill, can be used a mere instrument of research."


VATICAN CITY, JAN 25, 2004 (VIS) - After praying the Angelus today, John Paul II received in the Clementine Hall a group from the Artistic and Cultural Formation Center from Poland whose purpose is to "promote creativity in life, especially among young people" and to help poor and underprivileged youths.

The Pope attended a brief break-dancing performance and then made some remarks. After recalling that "in man, the artist, the image of the Creator is reflected," the Holy Father affirmed: "I say this also so that all artists present here are conscious that this reflection of God implies a great responsibility."

"Above all," he continued, "responsibility for one's self and for one's own talent," received by God, must "not be wasted but developed" in order "to serve one's neighbor and society with it. ... This is the second dimension of the responsibility of artists - the commitment to shape the spirit of societies and peoples. In this perspective," he affirmed, "the third dimension of responsibility is discovered. ... Artists are responsible not only for the aesthetic dimension of the world and of life but also of the moral dimension. If artists are not guided by good in creativity, or even worse , are lead toward evil, they are not worthy of the title of artist."


VATICAN CITY, JAN 26, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Fr. Edgar Hernando Tirado Mazo, M.X.Y., former superior general of the Institute for Foreign Missions of Yarumal and currently pastor of St. John the Baptist of Vitichi in Bolivia, as apostolic vicar of Tierradentro (area 2,087, population 57,000, Catholics 53,000, priests 22, religious 29), Colombia, elevating him at the same time to the dignity of bishop. The bishop-elect was born in Medellin, Colombia in 1939 and was ordained a priest in 1970.

On Saturday January 24, it was made public that the Holy Father:

- Appointed Bishop Joseph Cheng Tsai-fa of Tainan, Taiwan as metropolitan archbishop of Taipei (area 4,590, population 7,100,819, Catholics 82,903, priests 302, religious 708) , Taiwan and apostolic administrator of the Kinmen Islands, Quemoy and Matzu. He succeeds Archbishop Joseph Ti-kang whose resignation from the same archdiocese and as apostolic administrator of the Kinmen Islands, Quemoy and Matzu the Holy Father accepted upon having reached the age limit.

- Appointed Bishop Bosco Lin Chi-Nan, auxiliary of the diocese of Kaohsiung, as bishop of Tainan (area 2,780, population 1,927,836, Catholics 16,473, priests 66, religious 129), Taiwan.

- Appointed Msgr. Luigi Cantafora, pastor of the parish of St. Dominic in Crotone, Italy, as bishop of Lamenzia Terme (area 915, population 139,750, Catholics 139,300, priests 70, permanent deacons 21, religious 110), Italy. The bishop-elect was born in Scandale, Italy in 1943 and was ordained a priest in 1969. The Holy Father accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese presented by Bishop Vincenzo Rimedio upon having reached the age limit.

- Appointed the following prelates as members of the Pontifical Council for Culture:
Cardinals Frederic Etsou-Nzabi-Bamungwabi, archbishop of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Dionigi Tettamanzi, archbishop of Milan, Italy, Polycarp Pengo, archbishop of Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, Francis Eugene George, archbishop of Chicago, U.S.A., Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa, archbishop of Santiago de Chile, Chile, Lubomyr Husar, major archbishop of Lviv of the Ukraines; Archbishop Michael Louis Fitzgerald, president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, Bishop Mark Benedict Coleridge, auxiliary of Melbourne, Australia and Bishop Fabio Duque Jaramillo of Armenia, Colombia.

- Appointed the following as consultants to the Pontifical Council for Culture: Msgr. Peter D. Fleetwood, secretary general of the Council of Episcopal Conferences of Europe (C.C.E.E.); Professor Pedro Morande of the Pontifical Catholic University of Santiago de Chile, Chile; Professor Nurukyor Claude Somda of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso; Alfredo Augusto Garcia Quesada, Peru; Leon Zeches, director of the Catholic daily newspaper "Luxemburger Wort," of Luxemburg; Manuelita Nunez, Culture director for the Episcopal Conferences of Panama; Maria Eugenia Diaz de Pfennich, international president of the World Union of Catholic Womens Organizations - UMOFC, Mexico; Agnes Adjaho Avognon, Cotonou, Benin; Annie Lam Shun-Wai, president of the Association of the Catholic Press in Asia, Hong Kong.

- Appointed Archbishop Angelo Amato, secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, as consultant of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

- Appointed Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry, as his special envoy to the celebrations of the XII World Day of the Sick which will take place in Lourdes, France on February 11, 2004.

- Appointed Msgrs. Laszlo Kiss-Rigo, director of the Superior Council of Catholic Schools in Hungary, and Gyorgy Udvardy, vicar general and pastor in Szent Ersebt, Hungary, as auxiliary bishops of the archdiocese of Esztergom-Budapest (area 1,543, population 2,930,000, Catholics 1,258,000, priests 358, religious 872, permanent deacons 17), Hungary. Bishop-elect Kiss-Rigo was born in 1955 in Budapest, Hungary and was ordained a priest in 1981. Bishop-elect Udvardy was born in 1960 in Balassagyarmat, Hungary and was ordained a priest in 1985.
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 26, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

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

- Archbishop Andre Vingt-Trois of Tours.

- Bishop Maurice Le Begue de Germiny of Blois.

- Bishop Hubert Barbier of Bourges.

- Bishop Bernard Nicolas Aubertin, O. Cist., of Chartres.

- Bishop Renato Boccardo, secretary of the Pontifical Council of Social Communications, accompanied by family members.

- Archbishop Antonio Mennini, apostolic nuncio, Holy See representative in the Russian Federation.

On Saturday January 24, the Holy Father received in separate audiences:

- Archbishop Alfio Rapisarda, apostolic nuncio in Portugal.

- Two prelates from the Episcopal Conference of France on their "ad limina" visit:

- Bishop Jacques Perrier of Tarbes and Lourdes .

- Fr. Jean-Paul Soulet, diocesan administrator of Perpignan-Elne.

- Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 24, 2004 (VIS) - Pope John Paul met with French bishops this morning from the provinces of Toulouse and Montpellier as they conclude their "ad limina" visit, and focused his talk to them on their concerns for the future of the clergy in France "and the especially alarming situation your country is going through" with the low number of priests and priestly vocations.

He told the prelates that he "easily understands how you can feel demoralized in the face of this situation, ... but I invite you to hope and to an ever more resolute commitment in favor of the priesthood." He noted that "the crisis the Church is going through is in large part due to the repercussions ... of social changes, new forms of behavior, the loss of moral and religious values and a widespread consumeristic attitude."

The Pope urged the bishops to clarify and then communicate the image of a priest as a man whose sees the priesthood as "great and beautiful" and demonstrates "enthusiasm for the mission of the Church." A priest's calling is to serve his fellow man and it is here that he will find "joy and equilibrium."

A risk for priests in modern society, said the Holy Father, is that "of neglecting their spiritual life or allowing it to become weak. ... The heavier the burden, the more important it is to be close to the Lord in order to find in Him the grace necessary for their pastoral service and their welcome by the faithful."

He asked the bishops to be close to their priests and priests to be close to each other "in order to develop their priestly fraternity and pastoral collaborations." Priests must have a healthy, active community life in order to sustain each other in their ministry and in problem solving. "Participation in a priestly association is a precious aid" in this regard.

John Paul II then spoke of the "essential dimension" of priestly life, "celibacy and chastity," saying this is a much misunderstood concept and too often is seen as an "impediment" to service. "I invite priests to be diligent in the face of worldly seductions and to regularly make an examination of conscience in order to live ever more deeply in fidelity to their commitment which conforms them to Christ, chaste and totally dedicated to the Father." Young priests must be accompanied, he said, and suggested having them accompanied by older, wiser priests and perhaps even "appropriate psychological and spiritual aids."

"Growing de-Christianization is the major challenge at the moment," the Holy Father said in concluding remarks, "and I ask you to underscore this, mobilizing all the priests of your diocese in this regard." What is urgent is "the evangelization of a world that not only does not know the basic aspects of Christian dogma, ... but has in great part lost even the memory of the cultural elements of Christianity."


VATICAN CITY, JAN 24, 2004 (VIS) - Yesterday afternoon Holy See Press Office Director Joaquin Navarro-Valls announced that "the city of Aquisgrana has conferred on His Holiness John Paul II, in an extraordinary and single fashion, the Charlemagne International Prize as a recognition of his personal commitment and that of the Holy See in favor of unity among the peoples of Europe on the basis of the values rooted in the common human nature and efficaciously promoted by Christianity. The Holy Father feels honored to accept this prize which will be conferred on him on March 25 in the Vatican."


VATICAN CITY, JAN 24, 2004 (VIS) - Pope John Paul's Message for the 38th World Communications Day, which will be celebrated on May 23, 2004 on the theme "The Media and the Family: A Risk and a Richness," was made public today, the feast of St. Francis de Sales, patron of journalists.

Following are exceprts from this annual Message which was published in English, French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish and German:
"The extraordinary growth of the communications media and their increased availability has brought exceptional opportunities for enriching the lives not only of individuals, but also of families. At the same time, families today face new challenges arising from the varied and often contradictory messages presented by the mass media. The theme chosen for the 2004 World Communications Day - "The Media and the Family: A Risk and a Richness" - is a timely one, for it invites sober reflection on the use which families make of the media and, in turn, on the way that families and family concerns are treated by the media.

"This year's theme is also a reminder to everyone, both communicators and those whom they address, that all communication has a moral dimension. ... People grow or diminish in moral stature by the words which they speak and the messages which they choose to hear."
"Thanks to the unprecedented expansion of the communications market in recent decades, many families throughout the world, even those of quite modest means, now have access in their own homes to immense and varied media resources."

"Yet these same media also have the capacity to do grave harm to families by presenting an inadequate or even deformed outlook on life, on the family, on religion and on morality. This power either to reinforce or override traditional values like religion, culture, and family was clearly seen by the Second Vatican Council. ... Communication in any form must always be inspired by the ethical criterion of respect for the truth and for the dignity of the human person.
"These considerations apply in particular to the treatment of the family in the media. On the one hand, marriage and family life are frequently depicted in a sensitive manner, realistic but also sympathetic, that celebrates virtues like love, fidelity, forgiveness, and generous self-giving for others, .... yet at the same time make an effort to separate right from wrong, to distinguish true love from its counterfeits, and to show the irreplaceable importance of the family as the fundamental unit of society.

"On the other hand, the family and family life are all too often inadequately portrayed in the media. Infidelity, sexual activity outside of marriage, and the absence of a moral and spiritual vision of the marriage covenant are depicted uncritically, while positive support is at times given to divorce, contraception, abortion and homosexuality."
"Conscientious reflection on the ethical dimension of communications should ... ensure that these powerful instruments of communication will remain genuine sources of enrichment."

"It is not so easy to resist commercial pressures or the demands of conformity to secular ideologies, but that is what responsible communicators must do."

"Public authorities themselves have a serious duty to uphold marriage and the family. ... Instead many now accept and act upon the unsound libertarian arguments which advocate practices which contribute to the grave phenomenon of family crisis and the weakening of the very concept of the family. Without resorting to censorship, it is imperative that public authorities set in place regulatory policies and procedures to ensure that the media do not act against the good of the family. Family representatives should be part of this policy-making."

"The media should not appear to have an agenda hostile to the sound family values of traditional cultures or the goal of replacing those values, as part of a process of globalization, with the secularized values of consumer society.
"Parents, as the primary and most important educators of their children, are also the first to teach them about the media. They are called to train their offspring in the "moderate, critical, watchful and prudent use of the media" in the home. When parents do that consistently and well, family life is greatly enriched."

"In view of their great power to shape ideas and influence behaviour, professional communicators should recognize that they have a moral responsibility not only to give families all possible encouragement, assistance, and support to that end, but also to exercise wisdom, good judgement and fairness in their presentation of issues involving sexuality, marriage and family life.

"The media are welcomed daily as a familiar guest in many homes and families. On this World Communications Day I encourage professional communicators and families alike to acknowledge this unique privilege and the accountability which it entails."

Friday, January 23, 2004


VATICAN CITY, JAN 23, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

- Jose Maria Aznar, president of the Government of Spain, accompanied by his wife and an entourage.

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

- Bishop Maurice Gaidon of Cahors.

- Bishop Bernard Housset of Montauban.

- Bishop Marcel Perrier of Pamiers.

- Bishop Bellino Ghirard of Rodez.

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

- Archbishop Jozef Kowalczyk, apostolic nuncio in Poland.

Later this afternoon, the Holy Father is scheduled to receive Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 23, 2004 (VIS) - This morning the Holy Father received in audience Jose Maria Aznar, president of the Spanish government, accompanied by his wife and an entourage.

During his brief remarks to Aznar, the Pope expressed his joy at having received him along with his family, as this is his last visit to the pontiff as the president of government after eight years in office. "During this period," he said, "we have had the opportunity to meet on diverse occasions, the last of which was during my apostolic trip to Spain last May. On that memorable occasion, I was able to recognize the deep Christian roots of the Spanish people and the dynamism of the Church in your noble country. These two qualities have marked the most brilliant moments of your history, and with them the new generations will be able to embark upon an ever-more promising future."

"While I am pleased with the sincere and loyal collaboration between the Church and the authorities at the service of the Spanish people, from respect to independence, I thank you for your visit, and I renew my encouragement for the spiritual and material progress of the Spanish people, for their peaceful coexistence in harmony and liberty, and at the same time I invoke the Almighty's every blessing for His beloved sons and daughters in Spain."

In a declaration released in the late morning, Joaquin Navarro-Valls, director of the Holy See Press Office, indicated that after the audience with John Paul II, President Aznar was received by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, secretary of State.

"In a very cordial conversation, the Pope and President Aznar spoke about Europe. The Holy Father expressed appreciation for the position of the president of the Spanish government particularly on the question of the recognition of the historical Christian roots of Europe.

"The conversation extended to the topics of the current situations in the world, especially in the Middle East.

"The Holy Father then received President Aznar's wife and children and an entourage.

"During the encounter with the secretary of State, Cardinal Angelo Sodano bestowed the title of Dame of the Order of Pius IX ("Ordine Piano") upon President Aznar's wife, Ana Botella, in recognition of her social and charitable initiatives."

Thursday, January 22, 2004


VATICAN CITY, JAN 22, 2004 (VIS) - Joaquin Navarro-Valls, Holy See Press Office director, in a statement released this afternoon, said that "Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, welcoming the invitation of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of the Russian Federation, will go to Moscow on February 16.

"During his visit, which will end February 20, Cardinal Kasper will meet with the Catholic bishops present in the Russian Federation and the Catholic community in Moscow. During this visit, motivated by feelings of esteem for the Russian Orthodox Church, Cardinal Kasper will be received in audience by His Holiness Alexei II, patriarch of Moscow and all the Russias, and will have talks with Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, and with the president of the department for foreign ecclesiastical relations of the Patriarchate of Moscow, in view of the ecumenical dialogue between the two Churches.

"Cardinal Kasper will be accompanied by Bishop Brian Farrell, secretary of the pontifical council, and by Fr. Jozef M. Maj, an official in this council's Oriental Section."


VATICAN CITY, JAN 22, 2004 (VIS) - Guido De Marco, the president of Malta, was welcomed to the Vatican this morning by Pope John Paul who, in an address in English, told him he was "pleased to welcome you and your family to the Vatican. Your visit brings back vivid memories of my journey to Malta three years ago and the very warm welcome which I received."

The Pope added that his "Jubilee pilgrimage in the footsteps of St. Paul was an occasion for me to appreciate once more your country's ancient Christian heritage, and to encourage your fellow citizens in their efforts to build a society worthy of its noble cultural traditions. Malta's strength has always been its families, which have not only enriched the social fabric but also contributed significantly to the Church's universal mission, not least through their abundant harvest of priestly and religious vocations. May families always find encouragement and support in their work of educating the young who are the future of Malta."


VATICAN CITY, JAN 22, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

- Guido de Marco, president of Malta, accompanied by his wife and an entourage.

- Three prelates from the Episcopal Conference of France on their "ad limina" visit:

- Archbishop Emile Marcus, P.S.S., of Toulouse.

- Archbishop Pierre-Marie Carre of Albi.

- Archbishop Maurice Frechard, C.S.Sp., of Auch.

- Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, with Bishop Karl Josef Romer and Msgr. Francesco Di Felice, secretary and undersecretary respectively of the same council.
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 22, 2004 (VIS) - The following statement was released this morning by Holy See Press Office Director Joaquin Navarro-Valls:

"After consultation with the Holy Father's personal secretary, Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, I can confirm that the Pope has had the opportunity to see the film, 'The Passion of the Christ'. The film is the cinematographic recounting of the historical fact of the passion of Jesus Christ according to the Gospel accounts.

"It is the Holy Father's custom not to express public judgments on artistic works, judgments which are always open to diverse evaluations of an aesthetic nature."


VATICAN CITY, JAN 22, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Msgr. Paul Richard Gallagher, special envoy and permanent observer to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, France, as apostolic nuncio in Burundi, elevating him at the same time to the dignity of archbishop. The archbishop-elect was born in 1954 in Liverpool, England and was ordained a priest in 1977.
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Wednesday, January 21, 2004


VATICAN CITY, JAN 21, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Fr. Armando Bucciol, "fidei donum" priest in Brazil serving the diocese of Caetite, as bishop of Livramento de Nossa Senhora (area 24,890, population 304,102, Catholics 243,281, priests 14, religious 18), Brazil. The bishop-elect was born in Motta di Livenza, Italy in 1946 and was ordained a priest in 1971. He succeeds Bishop Helio Paschoal, C.S.S., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted having reached the age limit.
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 21, 2004 (VIS) - During this Wednesday's general audience, celebrated in the Paul VI Hall, the Pope recalled that this week is dedicated to prayer and reflection for Christian unity on the theme, "I leave you my peace," taken from Jesus' words at the Last Supper. "In a certain way," he said, "it is a spiritual testament."

John Paul II said that "the world yearns for peace, needs peace - today like yesterday - but it often seeks it with improper means, even to the point of resorting to force or by the balance of opposing powers. In these situations man lives with a troubled heart in fear and uncertainty. Christ's peace, however, reconciles souls, purifies hearts and brings about conversion."

"The theme of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity was proposed this year by a ecumenical group from the city of Aleppo, Syria," he said, adding: "This brings to mind the pilgrimage that I had the joy of making to Damascus. ... That encounter still represents a sign of hope for the ecumenical path."

"Deep spirituality is ever more necessary," he continued, "not only for those who are directly involved in ecumenical work but for all Christians. The cause of unity concerns all believers, called to form part of the one people of those redeemed by the blood of Christ on the Cross."

"It is heartening that the search for unity among Christians is expanding more and more thanks to opportune initiatives that interest different aspects of ecumenical commitment." Among the "signs of hope," he mentioned the "increase in fraternal charity and the progress made in theological dialogue with various Churches and ecclesial communities," which have brought about "important accords on topics which were very controversial in the past. Keeping in mind these positive signs, we should not be discouraged in the face of the old and new difficulties that we encounter, but we must confront them with patience and understanding, always counting on divine help."

The Pope concluded by assuring those present that "peace and unity among Christians, who can offer a decisive contribution so that humanity will overcome the reasons for division and conflict, comes from reciprocal charity and love. Together with prayer, dear brothers and sisters, let us feel strongly stimulated to make an effort to be authentic 'peace workers' in the environments in which we live."

After the audience, a brief liturgical celebration took place during which prayers were recited for Christ's Church in the East and West, for the Pope and pastors of all Christian communities, for peace and the leaders of nations and international organizations so that their actions would be guided in solidarity, justice and respect for creation, and for those who suffer due to war, injustice and oppression.

On the occasion of the memorial liturgy of St. Agnes, the Pope blessed two lambs whose wool will be used to make the palliums which will be imposed on the metropolitan archbishops on the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles on June 29.
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Tuesday, January 20, 2004


VATICAN CITY, JAN 20, 2004 (VIS) - This morning the Pope received members of the General Inspectorate for Public Security at the Vatican as is tradition at the beginning of the New Year. He thanked them for their service, "which for more than twenty-five years I follow attentively."

"Your job has become more complicated in the last few years because episodes of terrorist violence have greatly upset the security of our cities. While our vigilance has been intensified with every method, every day the commitment to teach peace appears more urgent."

The Holy Father said that "in the face of the many dramatic situations of our time, there is the risk of giving in to fatalism as if peace were an objective that is impossible to achieve. We must not succumb to this temptation! Teaching peace, with its specific demands, must continue to be the object of everyone's incessant commitment."


VATICAN CITY, JAN 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

- Archbishop Giovanni Battista Morandini, apostolic nuncio in Korea and Mongolia.

- Maestro Gilbert Levine, accompanied by his wife and children.
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 20, 2004 (VIS) - "Peace be with you!" were Pope John Paul's opening words this morning in the Concistory Hall as he welcomed participants, including Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, in the just-concluded Ninth Congress of the Islamic-Catholic Liaison Committee.

"Your committee," said the Pope in English, "which facilitates communication between Christians and Muslims, was established during a time of great expectation for world peace. Unfortunately, this hope has not yet been fulfilled. In the face of the tragedies which continue to afflict humanity, it is all the more necessary to convince people that peace is possible. Indeed, it is a duty," he said, citing his Message for World Day of Peace 2004. "I encourage you, and all leaders of religions, to promote a culture of dialogue, mutual understanding and respect. Upon you all, I invoke the abundant blessings of Almighty God!"

This committee, created in 1998, is comprised of representatives of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue and of the Al-Azhar Permanent Committee for Dialogue with Monotheist Religions.


VATICAN CITY, JAN 20, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father accepted the resignation from the office of Shkodre (Scutari), Albania, presented by Bishop Zef Simoni, upon having reached the age limit.
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Monday, January 19, 2004


VATICAN CITY, JAN 17, 2004 (VIS) - Made public today was Pope John Paul's Message, dated January 6, 2004 to His Beatitude Michel Sabbah, Latin patriarch of Jerusalem on the occasion of the January 11 dedication of the Chapel of the "Domus Galilaeae" on the Mount of Beatitudes in Korazim, 135 kilometers north of Jerusalem.

The Pope recalled his apostolic pilgrimage to the Mount of the Beatitudes on March 24, 2000 when he visited and blessed the Shrine of the Word and the Domus Galilaeae, a center for formation, study and retreats for seminarians and priests from around the world built by the Neocatechumenal Way on land offered to them by the Custos of the Holy Land. At that time he celebrated Mass for nearly 100,000 faithful, including 45,000 young people from Middle Eastern countries and from abroad, many from the Neocatechumenal Way. The project, whose construction began in 1999 and is not yet finished, is situated above the Shrine of the Beatitudes, towards the top of the mount of the same name, and overlooks Lake Tiberias.

In his Message to the patriarch, the Holy Father wrote that "the chapel, to be solemnly dedicated, offers the possibility of contemplating the supreme mystery of Christ in the Sacrament of the Eucharist and the fresco of the Last Judgement, which enriches its apse, invites us to turn our eyes to those last realities of the faith which illuminate our daily pilgrimage on earth."

"I join you," wrote the Pope to the prelates, clergy and religious present, as well to members of movements and in particular of the Neocatechumenal Way, "in this intense spiritual moment that this Christian community is preparing to live and I send an affectionate greeting. ... I hope this important event will be an encouragement for everyone to renew their own adherence to Christ, Redeemer of the world."


VATICAN CITY, JAN 17, 2004 (VIS) - Today the Holy Father received superiors and students of the "Almo Capranica" College where candidates for the priesthood from the diocese of Rome, as well as from other dioceses in Italy and around world, receive formation. Today is the feast of their patron, St. Agnes.

"Your college," said the Pope, "is characterized by special attention to 'family life' ... based on solid human, theological and spiritual points of reference. I know how much you foster this spirit of fraternal communion, so that it prepares you for the future pastoral ministry assigned to you."

"As you well know," John Paul II told the students, "this spirit must be nourished above all by intense and incessant prayer, since God is the source of our unity. In addition, it is necessary that you share the same objectives and ideals, being unified in mind and heart. The cement of unity should never be lacking, that is charity, true 'vis unitiva', in addition to other virtues, especially obedience and humility, while striving always for evangelic perfection."

"The Lord Who has chosen you as his ministers," concluded the Pope, "wants you to be saints, totally consecrated to Him and to His Church. May this be your main duty, to which the daily commitment of receiving solid human and doctrinal formation should be added."


VATICAN CITY, JAN 17, 2004 (VIS) - This afternoon in the Paul VI Hall, the Pope attended a concert dedicated to reconciliation among Jews, Christians and Muslims that was organized by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, the Commissions for Religious Relations with Judaism, and for Religious Relations with Muslims, and the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue. Among the participants were representatives from various international Jewish organizations, Churches and ecclesial communities, and Islamic groups.

Before the concert, Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Council for Promoting Christian Unity, greeted the Holy Father on behalf of everyone present and thanked him for "his courageous example in the face of contempt, hatred and violence; thank you for your message which urges reciprocal respect among all human beings and all religions; thank you for your contribution to peace in the world."

At the end of the concert, John Paul II greeted in a special way Maestro Gilbert Levine who directed the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and the members of the choirs from Ankara, Krakow, London and Pittsburgh.

After referring to the two musical themes of the concert, "the veneration of the Patriarch Abraham and the Resurrection of the Dead," the Holy Father said: "The history of relations among Jews, Christians and Muslims is marked by lights and shadows, and, unfortunately, has known painful moments. Today the pressing need is felt for a sincere reconciliation among all believers in one God. This evening, we are gathered here to give a concrete expression to this commitment to reconciliation, entrusting ourselves to the universal message of music."

"Our common desire is that all human beings be purified from the hatred and evil that continually threaten peace, and that they may know how to extend hands that have never known violence but which are ready to offer help and comfort to those in need."

The Pope emphasized that the followers of the three world religions "must find within ourselves the courage for peace. We must implore the Almighty for the gift of peace. And this peace will spread like oil that soothes, if we unceasingly pursue the path of reconciliation. Then the dessert will become a garden where justice will reign, and the effect of justice will be peace. 'Omnia vincit amor (Love conquers all)!'"


VATICAN CITY, JAN 17, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

- Appointed Fr. Thomas Msusa, S.M.M, regional superior of the Montfortan delegation in Kenya, Malawi, Congo and Uganda, as bishop of Zomba (area 3,232, population 672,114, Catholics 220,000, priests 40, religious 69), Malawi. The bishop-elect was born in 1962 in Iba, Malawi and was ordained a priest in 1996. He succeeds Bishop Allan Chamgwera, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted upon having reached the age limit.

- Appointed Archbishop Ramiro Moliner Ingles, apostolic nuncio in Guatemala, as apostolic nuncio in Ethiopia and Djibouti, and as apostolic delegate in Somalia.


VATICAN CITY, JAN 19, 2004 (VIS) - An ecumenical delegation from Finland was welcomed to the Vatican this morning by Pope John Paul who told them that "once again this year I am pleased to welcome your ecumenical delegation on its visit to Rome for the feast of Saint Henrik, Patron of Finland."

"In this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity," the Pope added, "I wish to express my gratitude for the ecumenical progress made between Catholics and Lutherans in the five years since the signing of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification. A promising sign of this progress on our path to full and visible unity has been the establishment of a new dialogue group between Lutherans and Catholics in Finland and Sweden. It is my hope that Lutherans and Catholics will increasingly practise a spirituality of communion, which draws on those elements of ecclesial life which they already share and which will strengthen their fellowship in prayer and in witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Upon all of you I cordially invoke God's abundant blessings."


VATICAN CITY, JAN 18, 2004 (VIS) - Before praying the noon Angelus today with the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square, Pope John Paul reflected on the traditional Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which begins today and ends January 25, and on the need for peace in the world.

He noted that the words of Jesus, "'I leave you my peace' are the theme of the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. It is significant that this theme was proposed by the Churches of the Middle East where unity and peace are the most heartfelt priorities. Over the next eight days, in every part of the world, Christians of diverse denominations and traditions will gather together to pray intensely to the Lord that He will strengthen the common commitment for their full unity."

"In promising His peace, Christ assured the disciples of His support in trials. And is not the lasting division between Christians a very painful trial? This is why they feel the great need to turn to their One and Only Lord, asking that He help them overcome the temptation of discouragement along the difficult path which leads to full communion. In a world thirsting for peace, it is in fact urgent for Christian communities to announce the Gospel in a unified way. It is indispensable that they witness to the divine Love that unites them, that they be bearers of joy, hope and peace, becoming leaven for all of mankind." The Holy Father said he hoped that this week of prayer "will bear copious fruits for the cause of Christian unity."

After praying the Angelus, John Paul II expressed his wishes for "serenity and prosperity" for the "great peoples of the East" as they celebrate in coming days the lunar New Year. He also noted that today Rome is marking the Day of Catholic Schools, whose celebration is part of the diocesan pastoral ministry on the theme "Together with families, let us build a better society." And lastly, he greeted the Minim Sisters of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ as they mark the 75th anniversary of the founding of their institute.


VATICAN CITY, JAN 19, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience five prelates from the Episcopal Conference of France on their "ad limina" visit:

- Archbishop Guy Thomazeau of Montpellier, with Auxiliary Bishop Claude-Joseph Azema.

- Bishop Jacques Despierre of Carcassonne.

- Bishop Robert Le Gall of Mende.

- Bishop Robert Wattebled of Nimes.

On Saturday, January 17, it was made public that the Holy Father received in separate audiences:

- Filiz Dincmen, ambassador of Turkey, accompanied by her husband, on her farewell visit.

- Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 19, 2004 (VIS) - The Office of Liturgical Celebration of the Supreme Pontiff announced today that on Sunday, January 25 Cardinals Stanislas Nagy, S.C.I., and Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, will respectively take possession of the diaconates of St. Mary of the Steps at 11:30 a.m. and of St. Francis of Paula in the Mountains at 5 p.m.

Friday, January 16, 2004


VATICAN CITY, JAN 16, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received Cardinal Walter Kasper and Bishop Brian Farrell, L.C., respectively president and secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 16, 2004 (VIS) - This morning the Holy Father received the participants in the national congress of the Italian Women's Center as they reflect on the theme "Women as They Face the Expectations of the World."

He recalled that this Center, "inspired by Christian principles, makes every effort to help women in undertaking in an ever more responsible way their own role in society. Mankind today feels with increasing intensity the need to offer a sense and a scope to the world in which new problems which generate insecurity and confusion present themselves every day."

"The current era," he continued, "marked by the rapid succession of events, has seen the growing participation of women in every sector of civil, economic and religious life, starting with the family, the first and most vital cell of human society. This calls for, on your part, a constant attention to emerging problems and a generous farsightedness in facing them."

"It is important," the Pope told them, "for women to keep alive the awareness of this fundamental vocation: they fulfill themselves only in giving love. ... Their moral and spiritual strength comes from the awareness that 'God entrusts to women in a special way man, human beings'."

John Paul II underscored that "it is this which above all is the mission of every women, even in the Third Millennium. Live it fully and do not allow yourselves to be discouraged by difficulties and obstacles that you might meet along the way. On the contrary, always trusting in divine help, bring it to fulfillment with joy, expressing the female 'genius' that marks you."
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 16, 2004 (VIS) - Pope John Paul II today welcomed to the Vatican Jona Metzgher and Shlomo Amar, chief rabbis of Israel and Oded Wiener, director general of the Chief Rabbinate, who are in Rome to attend the Concert of Reconciliation that will be performed by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra tomorrow evening in the Paul VI Hall.

The Pope noted that "in the twenty-five years of my Pontificate I have striven to promote Jewish-Catholic dialogue and to foster ever greater understanding, respect and cooperation between us. Indeed, one of the highlights of my Pontificate will always remain my Jubilee Pilgrimage to the Holy Land, which included intense moments of remembrance, reflection and prayer at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial and at the Wailing Wall."

He added that "the official dialogue established between the Catholic Church and the Chief Rabbinate of Israel is a sign of great hope. We must spare no effort in working together to build a world of justice, peace and reconciliation for all peoples. May Divine Providence bless our work and crown it with success!"

The concert tomorrow evening is dedicated to reconciliation between Jews, Christians and Muslims and was organized by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, the Commission for Religious Relations with Jews and the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue, with support from the Knights of Columbus. Maestro Gilbert Levine will direct the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in presenting John Harbison's "Abraham" and Gustav Mahler's Symphony N. 2, "Resurrection," movements I, IV and V. Also performing will be the Ankara State Polyphonic Choir, the Krakow Philharmonic Choir, the London Philharmonic Choir and members of the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh.
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 16, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

- Appointed Bishop Filipe Neri Antonio Sebtastiao do Rosario Ferrao, auxiliary of Goa e Damao, India as archbishop of the same archdiocese (area 4,194, population 1,502,057, Catholics 450,130, priests 619, religious 1,391) in India, with the title of Patriarch "ad honorem" of the West Indies. The archbishop-elect succeeds Archbishop Raul Nicolau Gonsalves, whose resignation to the pastoral care of this archdiocese was accepted by the Holy Father for having reached the age limit.

- Appointed Bishop Daniel DiNardo of Sioux City as coadjutor bishop of the diocese of Galveston-Houston (area 23,257, population 4,704,532, Catholics 974,312, priests 443, religious 760, permanent deacons 300), U.S.A.

Thursday, January 15, 2004


VATICAN CITY, JAN 15, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Msgr. Jose Manuel Lorca Planes, vicar general of the diocese of Cartagena, Spain and pastor of the same circumscription, as bishop of Teruel y Albarracin (area 11,867, population 90,625, Catholics 89,631, priests 148, religious 221), Spain. The bishop-elect was born in Espinardo, Spain in 1949 and was ordained a priest in 1975.
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 15, 2004 (VIS) - The administrators of the Italian region of Lazio, and the city and province of Rome were welcomed by the Pope this morning to the Vatican for the traditional exchange of New Year's greetings.

In his talk to the elected officials the Pope noted that "the difficulties that mark the current world situation are also felt in this land of ours. Difficult moments are, however, those in which the positive energies of a population and its representatives can and must more clearly emerge." He added that "the contribution of each person is indispensable in building a more just and fraternal society. Conflicts and tensions must be overcome together: It is necessary to fight together against terrorism which, sadly, also concerns this beloved city of ours."

Overcoming violence, stated John Paul II, can be done by building "a civilization of love. ... And how can we not think of the family as the most important place to realize this civilization of love. The family represents the human space in which the person, from the very start of his existence, can feel the warmth of affection and grow in a harmonious way. Precisely for this reason we must salute political and administrative choices aimed at supporting the family nucleus, seen as a 'natural society based on marriage', according to the Italian Constitution."

The Holy Father directed their attention to the "concrete interventions" needed in many sectors of society, especially for those people "in situations of acute need, the elderly who live alone, young people who have been abandoned, the weaker parts of society such as immigrants, and young people." He assured them that "parishes, religious communities, Catholic institutions and volunteers will continue to offer ... their capillary contribution."

Wednesday, January 14, 2004


VATICAN CITY, JAN 14, 2004 (VIS) - In today's general audience, celebrated in the Paul VI Hall, the Pope resumed his catechesis on the liturgy of Vespers. Today's theme was the canticle of the first letter of St. Peter which "focuses on Christ's glorious passion, as foreseen at His baptism in the Jordan."

Jesus, said the Pope, is revealed as "the 'chosen Son' in Whom God is well-pleased and the true 'Servant of Yahweh' Who frees men from sin through His passion and death on the cross."

John Paul II indicated that Christ "is a model for us which we must contemplate and imitate, the 'program' ... which we must carry out, the example we must follow without hesitation, while conforming ourselves to His will. The petrine hymn is a wonderful synthesis of Christ's passion, following the words and images of Isaiah on the figure of the suffering servant, the key to understanding the ancient Christian concept of the Messiah."

"The Lord's patient silence," he continued, "is not only an act of courage and generosity. It is also a gesture of faith in Peter. ... He has complete and perfect confidence in divine justice which guides history toward the triumph of the innocent."

The Pope affirmed that "at the height of the narration of the Passion the saving value of the supreme act of Christ's donation is emphasized: 'He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree that we might die to sin and live to righteousness'."

"Through this path," he concluded, "freed from the former man, with his evil and misery, we too can live for justice which is in essence holiness."
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Tuesday, January 13, 2004


VATICAN CITY, JAN 13, 2003 (VIS) - Officials of the 31st division of the Italian Air Force, who accompany the Pope on his trips outside Rome, were welcomed to the Vatican this morning by John Paul II who wished them a Happy New Year and thanked them for "the dedication and commitment with which you have for years facilitated the ministry of the Successor of Peter."

"In recent days," he said, "the liturgy has invited us to contemplate Jesus Who became man and came among us. He is the light that illuminates and gives meaning to our existence; He is the Redeemer who brings peace to the world. Let us welcome Him with trust and joy! The Blessed Virgin Mary who, as a thoughtful mother, presents Him to us, also watches over us. I invite you to turn to her at every moment and to entrust the just-begun year of 2004 to her."
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 13, 2004 (VIS) - Pope John Paul today welcomed Archbishop Michael Miller, together with his Basilian brothers, family members and other friends who accompanied him to Rome for his episcopal ordination last evening in St. Peter's Basilica.

The Pope noted that Archbishop Miller's episcopal motto, Veritati Servire, "to serve the truth," is an eloquent summary of the commitment that has marked his priestly life, both at the University of Saint Thomas in Houston, Texas, and during his five years of service at the Vatican. I am certain that this same dedication will continue to inspire and strengthen him as he now returns to Rome and takes up his duties as Secretary of the Congregation for Catholic Education. With prayerful good wishes for his new ministry, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing to him and to all here present."
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 13, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

- Archbishop Paul Fouad Tabet, apostolic nuncio in Greece.

- Archbishop Luigi Travaglino, apostolic nuncio.
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 13, 2003 (VIS) - Friday, January 16, marks the inauguration of the 75th judicial year of the tribunal of Vatican City State, according to a communique published today by the tribunal.

Following a 9 a.m. Mass in the chapel of the Governorate officiated by Cardinal Edmund Szoka, president of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State and president of the Governorate, in the presence of Cardinal Angelo Sodano, secretary of State, there will be a ceremony in the Audience Hall of the Tribunal that will include a report by the Promoter of Justice, Prof. Nicola Picardi, on the activity of several judicial bodies.

Top officials and magistrates of Vatican City and representatives of the Italian magistrature will be present.


VATICAN CITY, JAN 13, 2004 (VIS) - On the 160th anniversary of the publication of the "Treatise of true devotion to Our Lady" by St. Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort, John Paul II wrote a letter to the religious men and women of the Montfort families on the Marian doctrine of their founder.

In the letter dated December 8, Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, the Pope says that he wants to share with the saint's families a meditation "which consists of a few lines of the writings of St. Louis Marie that will help us to nourish our faith in the maternal mediation of the Mother of the Lord in these difficult moments."

The Holy Father recalls that 160 years ago "the work which was destined to become a classic of Marian spirituality was published." Despite the fact that St. Louis-Marie wrote the treatise at the beginning of 1700, the manuscript was "virtually unknown for more than a century," until it was "discovered by chance in 1842 and published in 1843."

"I myself, in the years of my youth, received great help from the letter in this book in which I 'found the response to my questions' due to fear that devotion to Mary 'would end up compromising the supremacy of worship due to Christ'." My motto, 'Totus tuus,' is inspired by the doctrine of St. Louis-Marie Grignion de Monfort. These two words express total abandonment to Jesus through Mary."

St. Louis-Marie, he affirms, "contemplates all the mysteries starting with the Incarnation which occurred at the moment of the Annunciation." The Holy Father indicates that "in the Monfort spirituality the dynamism of charity is expressed in a special way through the symbol of the 'slavery of love for Jesus,' following the example and maternal aid of Mary."

"Like St. John of the Cross, St. Louis Marie insists especially on the purity of faith and on its fundamental and often painful obscurity." Referring then to Our Lady as a sign of hope, John Paul concludes: "The Church awaits the glorious coming of Jesus at the end of the world. Like Mary and with Mary, the saints are in the Church in order to make its holiness radiate and to extend the work of Christ, one and only Savior, to the ends of the earth and till the end of the world."


VATICAN CITY, JAN 13, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Fr. Andre Marceau, pastor and episcopal vicar of Bazas et de la Cote, France, as bishop of Perpignan-Elne (area 4,143, population 392,803, Catholics 302,500, priests 107, permanent deacons 12, religious 161), France. The bishop-elect was born in Cerons, France in 1946 and was ordained a priest in 1972.
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Monday, January 12, 2004


VATICAN CITY, JAN 10, 2004 (VIS) - Bambang Prayitno, the new ambassador from Indonesia to the Holy See, presented his Letters of Credence to Pope John Paul this morning who, in his speech of welcome in English, recalled his 1989 trip to that country where he experienced "the hospitality, warmth and rich cultural traditions of the Indonesian people."

The Pope highlighted the "mutual commitment to working for the peace and well-being of all peoples at every level of society. This is an undertaking that involves all men and women of good will and is today a task of unprecedented importance as the entire human family seeks effective means to counteract international terrorism. There is no question that this baneful scourge has grown more virulent in recent years, generating brutal massacres that serve only to exacerbate difficult situations, increase tensions and erode possibilities for peace among peoples and nations." He recalled Indonesia's firsthand experience with terrorism when a bomb exploded in Bali 15 months ago.

"Despite the contempt for human life that such terrorist attacks represent," underscored the Holy Father, "our response must never be one of hatred or revenge. Nor are measures that are merely punitive or repressive sufficient. Political mobilization is needed to eliminate the underlying causes of injustice that can drive people to actions of desperation and violence."

Highlighting the role of the "great religions of the world" in this regard, he said that "interreligious understanding and cooperation will in fact do much to promote a clearer sense of oneness of all mankind, helping to eradicate the social and cultural causes of terrorism. I am convinced moreover that Islamic, Christian and Jewish religious leaders must be at the forefront in condemning terrorism and in denying terrorists any form of religious or moral legitimacy."

"I am please to note," affirmed the Pope, "your government's active commitment to maintaining harmony among the followers of the different religions present in Indonesia. Indeed, the motto displayed on your national coat-of arms - 'Bihneka Tungal Ika', 'unity in diversity', - expresses an important guiding principle as your country strives to build and strengthen a society based on the democratic principles of freedom and equality, regardless of language, ethnic background, cultural heritage or religion."

In concluding remarks, the Holy Father noted that "for her part, the Catholic Church is an active partner in the continuing national program of developing structures capable of satisfying the hopes and aspirations of all the peoples of the archipelago. Her role in the area of education is of particular importance: although Catholics account for only a very small part of the total population, they have developed an extensive and effective school system. The commitment to religious intolerance and to the fundamental principle of religious freedom allows the Church to make a priceless contribution to the life of the country."
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