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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, February 27, 2004


VATICAN CITY, FEB 27, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father sent a telegram of condolence to the authorities of Macedonia through the apostolic nunciature in Bosnia-Herzegovina upon the death of Boris Trajkovski, president of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, in a plane crash in which other passengers and crew members lost their lives as well.

In the telegram, the Pope conveys his condolences to the government and to the people of Macedonia and prays that "President Trajkovski's resolute commitment to peace will inspire the nation to continue steadfastly upon the path of dialogue, mutual respect and reconciliation."


VATICAN CITY, FEB 27, 2004 (VIS) - Pastors from the province of Besancon and the archbishop and auxiliary bishop of Strasbourg were welcomed this morning by Pope John Paul as they conclude their "ad limina" visit. He noted in his talk that his visits with the different provinces of France are drawing to a close and he thanked the bishops and faithful for their "courageous commitment in proclaiming the Gospel."

The Pope paid homage to the late nuncio in Burundi, Archbishop Michael Courtney, assassinated last December, who had been posted in Strasbourg as the Holy See permanent observer to the Council of Europe. "He was a convinced artisan of cooperation among States on the European continent. Today I invite the local Churches to commit themselves ever more firmly in favor of European integration. To achieve this result, it is important to re-read history and recall that, throughout the centuries, the Christian anthropological, moral and spiritual values largely contributed to fashioning the different European nations and to weaving their deep bonds. .Union cannot be achieved to the detriment of these values nor in opposition to them."

John Paul II stressed that it is not economic or political interests, or alliances of convenience, that forge bonds among peoples. Rather, what must be placed as the building blocks of a unified Europe are the values common to all. "Thus, a Europe will be born whose identity rests on a community of values, a Europe of fraternity and solidarity" that seeks "the promotion of man, respect for his inalienable rights and the common good."

He highlighted "the centuries-old presence of the Church in different countries of the continent through its participation in unity between peoples and cultures and in social life, notably in the educational, charitable, health care and social domains." The Pope also noted that, during their last assembly, the French episcopal conference had discussed the question of the place of the Church in society.

He then turned his attention to the "integral formation of young people, notably those who will be the nation's leaders tomorrow. . The Church hopes to enlighten them with the Gospel and the Magisterium. Here Catholic universities have a specific mission, . to help youth to analyze particular situations and to envisage how to always place man at the center of their decisions."

Pointing to the role of Christians in social life in all its forms, John Paul II said: "In political life, in the economy, in the workplace and in the family, it is up to the faithful to make Christ ever present and to make the Gospel values shine forth," and to highlight man's dignity, central place in the universe and primacy over individual interests.

"The participation of Christians in public life, the visible presence of the Catholic Church and other religious denominations takes nothing away from the principle of secularity nor from the State's prerogatives. . A well understood secularity must not be confused with secularism; it cannot erase personal and community beliefs. . Religion cannot merely be placed to one side in the private sphere."

The Holy Father stressed the importance of knowing one's own religion and being aware of the traditions of other religions, pointing out the strong Muslim presence in France "with whom you try to maintain good relations and to promote inter-religious dialogue which is, as I've said before, a dialogue of life. Such a dialogue should also revive in Christians an awareness of their faith and their attachment to the Church."

In concluding, the Pope told the prelates it was up to them "to intensify relations with civil authorities and other categories of elected people in your country, in national and European parliaments, especially Catholic parliamentarians, and with international institutions."
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VATICAN CITY, FEB 27, 2004 (VIS) - This morning the Holy Father received the Letters of Credence of the new ambassador of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Miroslav Palameta. In his speech in Croatian, he focused on finding solutions to the problems that affect local populations and emphasized "it is the challenge of a multiethnic and multicultural society like Bosnia-Herzegovina" to find solutions that are beneficial to all.

The Pope referred to "the unresolved question of the refugees and exiles of Banja Luka, Bosanska Posavina and other areas in Bosnia. . The more time that passes, the more urgent the duty becomes to respond to their legitimate aspirations: their suffering requires our solidarity."

"We must address and resolve," he continued, "eventual situations of injustice and exclusion, guaranteeing each group of people in Bosnia-Herzegovina their respective rights and duties, assuring them equal opportunities in social life through democratic structures that are able to resist the temptation to subject some groups to others. Democracy must be built with patient tenacity one day at a time, always using means and methods worthy and respectful of a civil society."

After urging citizens to take up "the path of peace and justice," the Holy Father asked them to create "conditions for sincere forgiveness and authentic reconciliation, freeing the memory of rancor and hatred derived from injustices suffered and from artificially constructed prejudices. This great task requires the active collaboration and serious commitment of all components of society, including political leaders."

The Pope underscored that "we must not ignore our differences, we must respect them," and said that those who "have responsibility at various levels are called to make a greater effort in order to resolve the problems that affect local populations."

"Bosnia-Herzegovina wants to join the other European countries in building a common house. May this desire be fulfilled as soon as possible." He concluded: "The Holy See supports this path to unification and hopes that a great family of peoples and culture will be built in Europe as a result of everyone's contribution. The European Union is not only an extension of it borders, but it means growing together in respect for every cultural tradition and in a commitment to justice and peace on the continent and in the world."


VATICAN CITY, FEB 27, 2004 (VIS) - The seventh meeting of the Council for the Special Assembly for Oceania of the Synod of Bishops was held in Rome on February 18 and 19, under the presidency of Cardinal Jan Schotte, C.I.C.M, secretary general of the Synod of Bishops, according to a communique released today by the secretariat.

In attendance were four cardinals, five archbishops and four staff members of the Synod of Bishops.

After an opening speech by the secretary general on the activities of the secretariat between the sixth and seventh meetings, reports were read, and then debated, on the diverse initiatives that have been undertaken up to now on this continent aimed at spreading the application of the Post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation "Ecclesia in Oceania."

The eighth meeting of this council will be held in Suva, Fiji in 2006 during the Plenary Assembly of the Federation of Catholic Bishops' Conferences of Oceania.


VATICAN CITY, FEB 27, 2004 (VIS) - As is customary at the beginning of Lent, the Pope sent a Message for the Campaign for Brotherhood, an initiative promoted for 40 years by the National Conference of Brazilian Bishops. This campaign's theme this year is: "Water, source of life."

In the just-released Message, dated January 7 and addressed to Cardinal Geraldo Majella Agnelo, archbishop of San Salvador and primate of Brazil, the Holy Father writes that water, in addition to being important for the earth, is used to wash and purify, but "it is in Christian baptism where it acquires its full spiritual meaning as the source of supernatural life."

"As a gift from God, water is a vital instrument, necessary for survival, and therefore, a right for all. It is necessary to pay careful attention to problems that come from its evident scarcity in many parts of the world, not only in Brazil."


VATICAN CITY, FEB 27, (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Archbishop Pablo Lizama Riquelme, military ordinary for Chile, as coadjutor archbishop of Antofagasta (area 84,506, population 347,939, Catholics 243,558, priests 43, permanent deacons 17, religious 118), Chile. Archbishop Lizama will keep his office as military ordinary for Chile.


VATICAN CITY, FEB 27, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

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

- Bishop Francois Maupu of Verdun.

- Archbishop Joseph Dore, P.S.S., of Strasbourg, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Christian Kratz.

- Msgr. Bernard Clement, vicar general of Metz.

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

Early this evening the Pope is scheduled to receive Archbishop Angelo Amato, secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
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Thursday, February 26, 2004


VATICAN CITY, FEB 26, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience Cardinal Camillo Ruini, vicar general of the diocese of Rome and Bishop Vincenzo Apicella, auxilary of the same diocese for the Western pastoral section, accompanied by the following pastors: Fr. Jean Jacques Boeglin, pastor of St. Bridget Parish with parochial vicars, Fr. Romano Matrone, pastor of St. Hilary Parish with parochial vicars, and Fr. Romano Deb, pastor of St. Maximus.
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VATICAN CITY, FEB 26, 2004 (VIS) - Following a tradition at the beginning of Lent, this morning John Paul II met with parish priests from the diocese of Rome to whom he announced that, starting this Saturday in the Vatican, he will renew his gatherings with the parish communities which he has not yet visited.

After remarks made by Cardinal Camillo Ruini, vicar of Rome, as well as some of the priests, which were focused on different aspects of the pastoral program for the family, the Pope addressed those present.

Pope John Paul's talk to Cardinal Ruini and the Roman clergy consisted entirely of off-the cuff remarks. A summary of his prepared speech, which he did not read but which was released, appears below.

"'Est tempus concludendi', he said, "especially when I look at our brothers who have been standing all this time because they did not have a chair, because there were not enough chairs as we are so numerous today." He thanked Cardinal Ruini and the other priests, adding "And now I want to summarize a bit."

"In the first place, Rome: what does Rome mean? A petrine city. And every parish is petrine. There are 340 parishes in Rome and I have visited 300. There are 40 left to go. But this Saturday we will resume these visits. Let's hope that all goes well."

"Our theme is the family. Family means: 'And He created them man and woman'. It means: love and responsibility. From these words come all the consequences. These consequences have been much talked about in regard to marriage, the family, parents, children, schools.

"I am very grateful to you because you have illustrated these consequences, this reality. Certainly this concern belongs to every parish. I learned some time ago, when I was in Krakow, to live close to couples, to families. I also closely followed the path that led two persons, a man and a woman, to create a family and, with marriage, to become spouses and parents, with all the consequences we know so well."

"Thank you for your pastoral solicitude for families and also because you seek to resolve all the problems that being a family can involve. I wish you well as you continue in this very important field, because the future of the Church and the world passes through families. I hope you prepare this good future for Rome, for your homeland, Italy, and for the world. Many best wishes!

"Here is the text that I had prepared, but I skipped it! You can read it in L'Osservatore Romano!

"Here they have written several phrases in Roman dialect. Let's get going! Let's love each other! We are Romans! I never learned the Roman dialect: does this mean I am not a good Bishop of Rome?"

In his prepared speech, the Holy Father affirmed that "recognizing the centrality of the family in God's plan for man and therefore, for the life of the Church and of society, is a task, that can never be relinquished, which has energized these twenty-five years of my pontificate, and, before that, my ministry as priest and bishop, as well as my commitment as student and university professor."

When creating man and woman in His image, he continued, God inscribed in them a vocation, "and therefore, the capacity and responsibility for love and communion. This vocation can be carried out in two specific ways: marriage and virginity."

"Marriage and family cannot, therefore, be considered a simple product of historical circumstances, or a superstructure imposed on human love from the outside. On the contrary, they are an interior demand of this love so that it may be carried out in the truth and fullness of self-giving." Unity, indissolubility, and openness to life, characteristics of the conjugal union, "which today," he said, "are frequently misunderstood and rejected, are necessary so that it may be an authentic pact of love. Precisely in this way, the bond that unites man and woman becomes an image and symbol of the alliance between God and His people. Therefore, marriage between baptized persons is a sacrament, effective sign of grace and salvation."

The Holy Father asked the priests to never tire of "proposing, announcing and bearing witness to the great truth of love and Christian marriage." After emphasizing the "fundamental and irreplaceable role of the family in the life of the Church and of civil society," he indicated that "the pastoral care of priests is necessary" in order to sustain Christian families.

"Do not be afraid," he added, "to make efforts for families, to dedicate to them your time and energy, the spiritual talents that the Lord gave you. Be for them caring and trustworthy friends in addition to pastors and teachers. Accompany and sustain them in prayer, propose the Gospel of marriage and the family to them with truth and love, without reservations or arbitrary interpretations. Be close to them spiritually in the trials that life often holds, helping them to understand that the Church is always their mother as well as their teacher. And teach young people to understand and appreciate the real meaning of love and to prepare themselves to form authentic Christian families."

John Paul II said that "the misguided and often aberrant behavior that is publicly proposed, and also endorsed and exalted, and daily contact with the difficulties and crises of many families can cause us to be tempted to distrust and resignation. We must overcome this temptation with God's help. Today the Holy Spirit's action is not weaker. Therefore, the greater the difficulties, the stronger our hope must be in the present and future of the family, and the more generous and passionate our priestly service to families must be."

Click here to retrieve the Pope's complete speech in Italian.


VATICAN CITY, FEB 26, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed:

- Fr. Pablo Varela Server, rector of Santa Maria La Antigua University, as auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese of Panama (area 13,275, population 704,117, Catholics 633,705, priests 203, permanent deacons 52, religious 350), Panama. The bishop-elect was born in Denia, Spain in 1942 and was ordained a priest in 1970.

- Fr. Jose Domingo Ulloa Mendieta, O.S.A., provincial vicar of the Order of St. Augustine in Panama, Panama and pastor of St. John the Baptist Cathedral in Chitre, as auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese of Panama. The bishop-elect was born in Chitre in 1956 and was ordained a priest in 1983.

- Msgr. Stanislav Stolarik of the clergy of the archdiocese of Kosice, Slovakia, pastor of St. Nicholas parish in Presov, as auxiliary of the same archdiocese (area 10,403, population 1,120,136, Catholics 678,174, priests 403, religious 469, permanent deacons 2). The bishop-elect was born in Roznava in 1955 and was ordained a priest in 1978.
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Wednesday, February 25, 2004


VATICAN CITY, FEB 25, 2004 (VIS) - The following telegram of condolences was sent on behalf of Pope John Paul by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, secretary of State, to Archbishop Antonio Sozzo, apostolic nuncio in Morocco, for the victims of the earthquake in the northern part of that country which has killed an estimated 600 people:

"Having learned of the tragic earthquake which has struck northern Morocco, the Holy Father has asked me to transmit to the families and to all Moroccans touched by this drama that he is close to them in their sorrow through prayer, asking the Almighty to welcome into His Kingdom the victims and to bring comfort and courage to the wounded, to those close to them and to persons participating in rescue operations, in the hope that gestures of solidarity will be shown to lighten the pain of our brothers and sister in mankind."


VATICAN CITY, FEB 25, 2004 (VIS) - Today, Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent, at 10:30 a.m. in the Vatican Basilica the Holy Father presided at a celebration of the Word during which ashes were blessed and distributed.

After the rite of introduction and the liturgy of the Word, the Holy Father gave the homily.

The Pope said that Lent, "a journey of prayer, penitence and authentic Christian asceticism," begins with the imposition of ashes, "an austere, penitential act that is highly esteemed in Christian tradition. It emphasizes the awareness of man who is a sinner before the majesty and sanctity of God. At the same time, it shows man's willingness to embrace and translate adhesion to the Gospel into specific choices."

"External gestures of penitence," he affirmed, "have value if they express an interior attitude, if they express the firm will to avoid evil and to take up the just path. It is here that the profound meaning of Christian asceticism lies. 'Asceticism': the word itself evokes an image of rising up toward higher goals. This necessarily involves sacrifice and self-denial. . In order to become authentic disciples of Christ, it is necessary to deny oneself, take up the cross every day and follow Him. It is the arduous path of holiness which every baptized person is called to take."

John Paul II recalled that the Church indicates many ways of embarking on this path: "Above all, it is the humble and docile adhesion to the will of God, accompanied by incessant prayer; these ways are the typical penitential customs of Christian tradition, such as abstinence, fasting, mortification and giving up goods that are in and of themselves legitimate; there are the specific gestures of embracing our neighbor which today's Gospel evokes with the word 'alms.' All of this is proposed again with greater intensity during the period of Lent which represents an 'intense time' of spiritual training and generous service to our brothers and sisters."

Referring to this year's Lenten message which speaks of "the difficult conditions in which so many children live in the world," the Holy Father concluded: "The problems that afflict children in the world are many and complex. I hope that we, as a result of our solidarity, will dedicate necessary care to our smallest brothers and sisters who are frequently left to themselves. This is a specific way to channel our Lenten effort."

After the homily, the ashes were blessed and distributed. The Pope received ashes from Cardinal Angelo Sodano, secretary of State, while the faithful present received them from a number of priests. After the prayers of the faithful and of the Lord, the liturgy concluded.

Click here to retrieve the Pope's entire homily in Italian.
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VATICAN CITY, FEB 25, 2004 (VIS) - Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, spoke yesterday afternoon at a congress that opened earlier that morning at the Catholic University of East Africa in Nairobi, Kenya on the theme "Contemporary Problems for an Integral and Sustainable Development." The meeting was an initiative of the university's Social Services Institute, according to a communique released by the pontifical council.

In his talk he made an appeal for those countries in Africa that have been hammered by bloody conflicts, devastating epidemics and a suffocating foreign debt. He underscored the question of arms trafficking, saying it was "deplorable" that some countries profit from this while others are living enormous human tragedies because of poverty as well as ecological disasters.

Cardinal Martino termed "unacceptable the pretext of terrorist groups, who intend to reestablish peace and justice through blind violence, not hesitating to destroy innocent human lives." He also denounced the "scandal" of States who enlist children as soldiers. Turning to AIDS he called this "the scourge of the century or the millennium with its disastrous demographic, health, economic and social consequences." He also called for a reduction, if not the elimination, of the foreign debt of Africa's poorest countries.

During his talk, says the communique, Cardinal Martino, who for 16 years was the Holy See permanent observer to the United Nations, "did not exclude that in a near future the Holy See could go from observer status to that of member of the U.N." and he "repeated the urgency of a reform of the United Nations that would allow for this institution to fully undertake its role on the international scene."
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VATICAN CITY, FEB 25, 2004 (VIS) - The Vatican has published a volume produced by the Pontifical Academy for Life entitled "Sexual Abuse and the Catholic Church: Scientific and Legal Perspectives." It contains the findings of the symposium organized by the academy in collaboration with other offices of the Holy See that was held in the Vatican April 2-5, 2003 on "Abuse of Children and Young People by Catholic Priests and Religious."

The book has been sent to the world's episcopal conferences and will be made public at the end of March. A copy was made available to journalists for consultation.

The scope of the April 2003 conference and of this book, says a communique by the pontifical academy, "was exclusively to present the phase reached by scientific research on this theme. Obviously, it was not possible to invite all experts in this sector, however several of them, of the highest scientific stature, were available to come to Rome and to publish their contributions, even if none of the eight experts is Catholic."

Bishop Elio Sgreccia, vice president of the Academy for Life, notes in an introduction to the volume, that the 2003 symposium touched upon "a terrible phenomenon which, in recent years, has increasingly created unease in the Church and in the media. Pope John Paul II has clearly and emphatically drawn attention to the grave injustice done to the victims. He called upon the Church to do everything in its power to assuage the resultant pain and to prevent future incidents. Many men and women in the Church have already dedicated themselves to this important task, bishops' conferences have produced guidelines and the Holy See has devoted itself intensely to this issue through various dicasteries. Sexual abuse presents a huge challenge. To formulate responsible solutions requires the consideration of psychological, medical, ethical, anthropological, theological, pastoral, juridical, and many other perspectives. Obviously all this goes beyond the scope of what one can achieve in one single symposium."

He added that the scientists present at the symposium "were able to present the theme in its complexity and . also presented different opinions current in the scientific world." He noted that "international ecclesial personalities who are actively involved in the treatment of priests and religious" were at the symposium, though "they did not participate in the role of experts to be consulted. . Instead they were the listeners and questioners. . The criterion for inviting them was that the institutions they represent are de facto used by bishops' conferences for the treatment of priests and religious."

Calling the book "a first step," Bishop Sgreccia said "important aspects of the theme have yet to be dealt with. May this publication prove to be a support and stimulus for all who deal with this troubling and complex issue."

Tuesday, February 24, 2004


VATICAN CITY, FEB 24, 2004 (VIS) - Today the Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff published the calendar of celebrations that are scheduled to be presided over by the Holy Father in February, March and April:


- Wednesday, 25. In the Vatican Basilica at 10:30 a.m., Celebration of the Word, blessing and distribution of ashes.

- Saturday, 28. Mass at 6 p.m. in Paul VI Hall with the following Roman parishes: St. Anselm, St. Mary, Star of Evangelization, St. Charles Borromeo, St. John the Baptist de la Salle.

- Sunday, 29: First Sunday in Lent. Beginning of spiritual exercises for the Roman Curia in the Redemptoris Mater Chapel in the Apostolic Palace at 6 p.m.


- Saturday, 6. Conclusion of spiritual exercises in the Redemptoris Mater Chapel at 9 a.m. At 6 p.m. in the Paul VI Hall, Mass with the following Roman parishes: St. Bridget, St. Hilary, St. Maximus.

- Saturday, 13. At 6:30 p.m. in the Paul VI Hall, Rosary with university students.

- Saturday, 20. In the Paul VI Hall at 6 p.m., Mass with the following Roman parishes: St. Maximilian Kolbe, St. Patrick, St. Mary Mediatrix and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque.

- Sunday, 21: Fourth Sunday in Lent. At 9:30 a.m. in the Vatican Basilica, Beatification of Servants of God Luigi Talamoni, Matilde del Sagrado Corazon Tellez Robles, Piedad de la Cruz Ortiz Real, Maria Candida dell'Eucaristia.

- Saturday, 27. At 6 p.m. in the Paul VI Hall, Mass with the following Roman parishes: St. John of the Cross, St. Felicity and Sts. Chrysanthus and Daria.


- Sunday, 4: Palm Sunday, 19th World Youth Day in St. Peter's Square at 10 a.m. Blessing of palms, procession and Mass.

- Thursday, 8: Holy Thursday. Chrism Mass in the Vatican Basilica at 9:30 a.m. At 5:30 p.m., also in the Vatican Basilica, the beginning of the Easter Tridium with the Mass of the Last Supper.

- Friday, 9: Good Friday. In the Vatican Basilica at 5 p.m., Celebration of the Lord's Passion. At 9:15 p.m. in the Colosseum, Way of the Cross.

- Saturday, 10: Holy Saturday. In the Vatican Basilica at 7 p.m., Easter Vigil.

- Sunday, 11: Easter Sunday. In St. Peter's Square at 10:30 a.m., Mass and "Urbi et Orbi" blessing.

- Sunday, 25: Third Sunday of Easter. In St. Peter's Square at 10 a.m., Beatification of Servants of God Augusto Czartoryski, Laura Montoya, Maria Guadalupe Garcia Zavala, Julia Nemesia Valle, Eusebia Palomino Yenes and Alexandrina Maria da Costa.


VATICAN CITY, FEB 24, 2004 (VIS) - Javier Moctezuma Barragan, the new ambassador from Mexico to the Holy See, today presented his Letters of Credence to the Holy Father who recalled that the first foreign apostolic trip of his pontificate was to Mexico 25 years ago. He also noted that in October 2004 the 48th International Eucharistic Congress will be held in Guadalajara.

The Pope underscored the re-establishing of diplomatic relations between Mexico and the Holy See in September 1992, saying that "over the years, marked by rapid and deep changes in the political, social and economic spheres of the country, the Catholic Church, faithful to her own pastoral mission, has continued promoting the common good of the Mexican people, seeking dialogue and understanding with diverse public institutions and defending her right to participate in national life."

"It is to be hoped," the Holy Father continued, "that the Church in Mexico will be able to enjoy full freedom in all areas where she develops her pastoral and social mission. The Church does not seek privileges nor does she wish to be in spheres not proper to her, but rather desires to fulfill her mission in favor of the spiritual and human good of the Mexican people without barriers or impediments. Thus, it is necessary that State institutions guarantee the right to religious freedom of persons and groups, avoiding all forms of intolerance or discrimination. In this sense, it is to be hoped that in a not too distant future, . steps will be taken to advance in areas such as religious education in diverse milieux, spiritual assistance in health care, social and welfare centers in the public sector, as well as a presence in the media.

"One must never give in," stressed the Pope, "to the pretences of those who, having an erroneous concept of the principle of Church-State-separation and of the lay character of the State, aim to reduce religion to a merely private sphere for the individual, not recognizing the Church's right to teach her doctrine and to give moral judgments about matters that affect the social

Turning to the question of "building a democratic culture and consolidating the State of law," John Paul II noted that "recently the Mexican bishops made a pressing appeal for national unity and dialogue among the leaders of social life."

He highlighted "the sad and vast problem of poverty," calling it "an urgent challenge for politicians and leaders in the public sector. Its eradication requires means of both a technical and political nature" but "one must never forget that these means will be insufficient if not animated by authentic ethical values. . A model of development that does not decisively confront social imbalances cannot prosper in the future."

The Holy Father dedicated closing remarks to the many indigenous peoples in Mexico, asking that special attention be devoted to them "for they are often relegated to the realm of the forgotten." He also expressed concern for the "growing phenomenon of migration of Mexicans to other countries, especially the United States," noting how negatively this affects families. The causes of emigration "must be found and remedied," he said, and "Mexicans residing abroad must never feel forgotten by the nation's leaders."
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VATICAN CITY, FEB 24, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

- Archbishop Franc Rode, prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.

- Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski, apostolic nuncio in Kazakhstan, Tadjikistan, Krygyzstan and Uzbekistan.

- Bishop Paul-Marie Guillaume of Saint-Die, France on his "ad limina" visit.
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VATICAN CITY, FEB 24, 2004 (VIS) - The Joint Committee between the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue and the Permanent Committee of al-Ahzar for Dialogue with Monotheistic Religions, established in Rome on May 28, 1998, will be meeting in Rome today and tomorrow on the topic "Avoiding Generalization in Speaking of the other's Religion or Community, The Ability to be Self-Critical." A public session will be held this afternoon at 4 at the Pontifical Institute of Arabic and Islamic Studies.

A special Agreement, built on already-existing contacts, was made in 1998 with the al-Azhar Institute because of this institution's millennia-old history and its outreach to Muslims throughout the world.

The purpose of the Joint Committee, according to Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, president of the council for inter-religious dialogue, "is to foster research into common values, work for the promotion of justice and peace, and for the promotion of respect for religions. It provides a forum for exchanges on matters of mutual interests, such as the defense of human dignity and of human rights, and the promotion of mutual knowledge and respect among Catholics and Muslims. The Committee pays special attention to the role of religious leaders in promoting these values."

Archbishop Fitzgerald and Sheikh Fawzy al-Zafzaf, president of the Permanent Committee of al-Azhar for Dialogue with Monotheistic Religions, are co-presidents of this Joint Committee. Other members include a co-secretary and a maximum of three members on each side. Experts are invited to meetings as necessary.

The Committee meets at least once a year, alternately in Cairo and in Rome. The meeting usually take place on or near February 24, in commemoration of Pope John Paul II's historic visit to al-Azhar on that date in 2000.


VATICAN CITY, FEB 24, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

- Erected the ecclesiastical province of Lodz, Poland elevating the same diocese to metropolitan Church and assigning the diocese of Lowicz as its suffragan. At the same time, he raised Bishop Wladyslaw Ziolek of Lodz to the dignity of metropolitan archbishop.

- Erected the diocese of Bydgoscz, Poland with territory taken from the archdiocese of Gniezno and from the dioceses of Koszalin-Kolobrzeg and Pelplin, making it a suffragan of the metropolitan Church of Gniezno.

- Appointed Bishop Jan Tyrawa, auxiliary of Wroclaw, Poland, as bishop of Bydgoszcz (area 4,000, population 596,202, priests 377, religious 4), Poland.

- Erected the diocese of Swidnica, Poland, with territory taken from the archdiocese of Wroclaw and the diocese of Legnica, making it a suffragan of the metropolitan Church of Wroclaw.

- Appointed Msgr. Ignacy Dec, rector of the Pontifical Faculty of Theology in Wroclaw, Poland as the first bishop of Swidnica (area 4,500, population 687,514, Catholics approximately 653,138, priests 366, religious 508), Poland. The bishop-elect was born in Hucisko, Poland in 1944 and was ordained a priest in 1969.

- Appointed Msgr. Stanislaw Budzik, rector of the Diocesan Seminary of Tarnow, Poland as auxiliary bishop of same diocese (area 7,566 population 1,126,920, Catholics 1,121,252, priests 1,301, religious 1.328). The bishop-elect was born in 1952 in Lekawica, Poland and was ordained a priest in 1977.

- Accepted the resignation from the office of auxiliary of the diocese of Warmia, Poland presented by Bishop Julian Wojtkowski upon having reached the age limit.
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Monday, February 23, 2004


VATICAN CITY, FEB 21, 2004 (VIS) - This morning the Holy Father received participants in the 10th General Assembly of the Pontifical Academy for Life which has just dedicated two days to studying the problem of artificial procreation.

After emphasizing that the theme that they are addressing "is rife with problems and implications that deserve careful examination," the Pope said: "Basic values are at stake, values not only for faithful Christians but also
for mankind."

John Paul II emphasized that the conjugal act in which husband and wife become father and mother "through total reciprocal gift of self makes them cooperators of the Creator while bringing a new human being into the world who is called to eternal life. This beautiful act which transcends the life of the parents cannot be substituted by a mere technological procedure which is devoid of human value and subject to the dictates of science and technology."

"The duty of scientists is that of researching the causes of male and female infertility. . Precisely for this reason, I want to encourage scientific research in order to naturally overcome sterility in married couples and I also want to urge specialists to rely on procedures which are effective for that purpose. My wish is that on the road to true prevention and authentic therapy the scientific community - this appeal goes out particularly to scientists who are believers - may be able to obtain comforting progress."

After affirming that the Pontifical Academy should do everything possible to promote initiatives that avoid "dangerous manipulations in the processes of artificial procreation," the Holy Father concluded by asking all faithful "to commit themselves to facilitating authentic ways of research, resisting in decisive moments suggestions of a technology that wants to substitute true paternity and maternity and therefore that does harm to the dignity of parents and children alike."
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VATICAN CITY, FEB 21, 2004 (VIS) - Osman Durak, the new ambassador from Turkey to the Holy See, today presented his Letters of Credence to the Holy Father who, in his talk to the diplomat in English, recalled that the fourth trip of his pontificate was to Turkey in November, 1979, adding that "the memories of that historic trip are indelibly etched in my mind."

The Pope underscored "Turkey's status as a democratic State governed by the rule of law and in which all citizens enjoy equal rights. Indeed, the rule of law and equality of rights are essential traits for any modern society that truly seeks to safeguard and promote the common good. In fulfilling this task, the clear distinction between the civil and religious spheres allows each of these sectors to exercise its proper responsibilities effectively, with mutual respect and in complete freedom of conscience."

"As Turkey prepares to establish new relations with Europe," he added, "I join the Catholic population in looking forward to recognition on the part of the Turkish authorities and institutions of the Church's juridical status in your country." He stressed that "the Church and the State are not rivals but partners. . I would express my hope that the Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights of the Turkish National Assembly will see fit to respond in an adequate manner to the petition presented to it last September concerning the common religious and pastoral needs of the Christian and non-Muslim minorities living in Turkey."

Quoting Blessed John XXIII, the Holy Father said that "the question of peace cannot be separated from that of human dignity and human rights. In other words, the far-reaching problems of order in world affairs cannot be properly addressed without dealing with issues of morality and ethical behavior. . Pope John called for a nobler vision of public authority and 'boldly challenged the world to think beyond its present state of disorder to new forms of international order commensurate with human dignity'."

"One of the primary means for securing this world order, and hence for pursuing peace, is international law, which today is called more and more to

become a law of peace in justice and solidarity. . The Catholic Church lends her full support to activities aimed at restoring peace and bringing about reconciliation. For this reason I welcome the news of the progress being made in moving towards a just settlement of the Cyprus question. I heartily encourage the parties involved to spare no effort in hastening the re-unification and pacification of the island."

John Paul II then noted that "within the wider international community, the United Nations has a particular role to play" and "still represents the most suitable agency for confronting the grave challenges facing the human family of the twenty-first century" including "the deadly scourge of terrorism (which) represents an especially pernicious problem" and "a heinous crime." He reiterated his "prayerful solidarity with the nation in the wake of recent terrorist attacks in your country."
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VATICAN CITY, FEB 21, 2004 (VIS) - The following communique was released today by Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, who has been in Russia since February 16:

"On February 19, 2004 in Moscow, a meeting took place between the Chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Patriarchate of Moscow, Metropolitan of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, Kirill, and the President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, Cardinal Walter Kasper. In the course of their conversations, the parties considered the matters at issue in relations between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church, especially in Russia and in Ukraine. In particular, Cardinal Kasper confirmed that the Holy See had received the written response of the Russian Orthodox Church on the possible establishment of a Greek-Catholic Patriarchate in Ukraine, as well as the responses of all the local Orthodox Churches on this question.

"Cardinal Kasper indicated that the unanimous position of all the Orthodox Churches is being given serious consideration by the authorities of the Catholic Church. The Catholic party assured the Orthodox party that it is the wish of the Holy See to maintain and further strengthen positive relations with the Orthodox Churches. Both sides agreed that for the solution of specific issues in relations between the Russian Orthodox and the Roman Catholic Churches a joint working group should be set up, composed of representatives of both Churches who will examine these questions and make proposals for their solution.

"Participating in the meeting were Archbishop Antonio Mennini, representative of the Holy See to the Russian Federation, Bishop Brian Farrell, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Reverend Father Jozef M. Maj, official of the same council, the Vice-Chairmen of the Department for External Church Relations of the Patriarchate of Moscow, Bishop Mark Egoryevsk and Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, and Reverend Father Igor Vyzhanov, acting secretary for Inter-Christian Affairs.


VATICAN CITY, FEB 21, 2004 (VIS) - Today at 6 p.m. in the Paul VI Hall, the Pope met with members of the community of the Pontifical Major Seminary of Rome on the occasion of the feast of their patroness, Our Lady of Trust. Also present were students from the Capranica, Redemptoris Mater and Divine Love Seminaries. The choir and orchestra of the diocese of Rome played an oratorio inspired by "Roman Triptych," John Paul II's book of poetry which was published last year.

Following the musical presentation, the Holy Father, in off-the-cuff remarks, thanked the young seminarians for the music: "Debitor factus sum," he said. "I am indebted to the Seminary of Rome for the beautiful interpretation that you have offered us of the oratorio inspired by "Roman Triptych," a work of poetry which many have written about. But this is perhaps the first time that I have heard this musical interpretation."

"I would like to tell you," he continued, "that this morning I celebrated Mass for the intentions of the Pontifical Major Seminary of Rome." In conclusion, he repeated: "'Debitor factus sum'. I am indebted and I must pay . perhaps a just, rather, that is, a fitting price. I will try to do so."

In his prepared speech, John Paul II affirmed that seminarians "are in a special way the future and hope of the Church; their presence in the seminary attests to the strength of attraction that Christ exercises on the heart of young people. A strength that does not take away from liberty, on the contrary, it allows it to fully flourish by choosing the greatest good: God to whose service we dedicate ourselves forever."

"Forever!" he exclaimed. "In this age, there is the impression of a certain reluctance on the part of young people in the face of definitive and total commitments. It is as if they were afraid of making decisions that last an entire life. Thank God, in the diocese of Rome that there are many young people who are willing to consecrate their lives to God and to their brothers in the priestly ministry. Nevertheless, we must pray incessantly to the Master of the harvest so that He may send new workers for His harvest, and so that He may sustain them in their commitment to a coherent adhesion to the demands of the Gospel."

The Pope ended by citing the example of Our Lady: "Without humble abandonment to God's will, which made the most beautiful 'yes' flourish in the heart of Mary, who could assume the responsibility of the priesthood? This is also important for young people who are preparing for Christian marriage."


VATICAN CITY, FEB 22, 2004 (VIS) - The following telegram of condolences was sent in Pope John Paul's name by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, secretary of State, to Archbishop Pietro Sambi, apostolic delegate in Jerusalem and Palestine, for the victims of this morning's suicide bomber in Jerusalem:

"The Supreme Pontiff expresses his firm condemnation of the latest brutal attack carried out in Jerusalem and, while assuring the family members of the victims of his spiritual closeness, he urges the authorities and citizens not to allow themselves to be carried away by the absurd dynamics of violence but to intensify their commitment to hasten the much desired hour of peace."


VATICAN CITY, FEB 22, 2004 (VIS) - In his traditional Sunday address to the faithful who came to St. Peter's Square to pray the Angelus with him, Pope John Paul spoke of today's feast of the Chair of Peter, the start of Lent this coming Ash Wednesday and the study of Latin.

He remarked that "the liturgical feast of the Chair of Peter underscores the singular mystery, entrusted by the Lord to the leader of the Apostles, of confirming and guiding the Church in the unity of faith. This is what the 'ministerium petrinum' is, that particular service that the Bishop of Rome is called to render to all Christians. An indispensable mission that is not based on human prerogatives but on Christ Himself as the cornerstone of the ecclesial community. Let us pray that the Church, in the variety of cultures, languages and traditions, will be unanimous in believing and professing the truth of faith and morals transmitted by the Apostles."

The Holy Father then noted that "Lent, which will start next Wednesday with the austere and significant rite of the imposition of ashes, is a privileged time to intensify this commitment of conversion to Christ. The Lenten itinerary will thus become a propitious time to examine ourselves with sincerity and truth and to return order to our own lives and to our relations with others and with God."

In greetings following the Angelus, the Pope, speaking Latin, addressed a group of professors and students from the Pontifical Superior Institute of Latin, created forty years ago today by Pope Paul VI with his Motu Proprio "Studia Latinitatis," as part of the Pontifical Salesian Athenaeum.
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VATICAN CITY, FEB 23, 2004 (VIS) - Today the Holy Father received in separate audiences:

- Archbishop Adolfo Tito Yllana, apostolic nuncio in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.

- Three prelates from the French Episcopal Conference on their "ad limina" visit.

- Archbishop Andre Lacrampe of Besancon.

- Bishop Claude Schockert of Belfort-Montbeliard.

- Bishop Jean-Louis Papin of Nancy.

- Bishop Yves Patenotre of Saint-Claude.

- Cardinal Camillo Ruini, vicar general for the diocese of Rome and president of the Italian Episcopal Conference with Bishop Paolo Schiavon, auxiliary of the diocese of Rome for the Southern Pastoral Sector; Fr. Mario Sanfilippo, pastor of St. Anselmo alla Cecchignola Parish, with the parochial vicar; Fr. Fernando Altieri, pastor of St. Charles Borromeo Parish, with the parochial vicar; Fr. Ilija Perleta, pastor of St. John the Baptist de la Salle Parish and Fr. Francesco De Franco, pastor of St. Mary, Star of Evangelization Parish, with the parochial vicar.

On Saturday February 21, the Holy Father received in audience Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
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VATICAN CITY, FEB 23, 2004 (VIS) - As Wednesday, February 25 marks the beginning of Lent, we would like to advise our readers that the Pope's Message for Lent is available in its entirety as of today on the Vatican web site. Click here to retrieve the complete text.
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VATICAN CITY, FEB 23, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father confirmed Bishop Francesco Lambiasi, emeritus of Anagni-Alatri, Italy, as general ecclesiastical assistant of Italian Catholic Action for the next three years.

On Saturday February 21, it was made public that the Holy Father appointed Bishop Hector Sabatino Cardelli of Concordia, Argentina as bishop of San Nicolas de los Arroyos (area 14,500, population 427,000, Catholics 390,000, priests 114, permanent deacons 6, religious 95), Argentina.

Friday, February 20, 2004


VATICAN CITY, FEB 20, 2004 (VIS) - Made public today was a Message from the Pope to participants in the Day of Commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the foundation of the Pontifical Academy for Life. The text, dated February 17, was read yesterday afternoon by Bishop Elio Sgreccia, vice-president of the Academy, to those who are attending the 10th General Assembly.

John Paul II writes that "with the passing of the years, the importance of the Pontifical Academy for Life is ever more evident. The progress of biomedical sciences, while providing promising prospects for the good of humanity and the cure of serious and painful infirmities, often presents serious problems in relation to respect for human life and the dignity of the person."

"The growing domination of medical technology over the processes of human procreation, discoveries in the field of genetics and molecular biology, changes in the therapy management of seriously-ill patients, together with the spread of currents of thought of utilitarian and hedonistic inspiration, are factors that can lead to aberrant behavior as well as to the creation of unjust laws in relation to the dignity of the person and the respect demanded by the inviolability of innocent life."

After stressing that the contribution of academicians "is fundamental for intellectuals, especially Catholic intellectuals," the Holy Father referred to the responsibility that they have in the field of bioethics. "I thank you for your commitment in examining specific questions of great interest and also in promoting dialogue between scientific research and theological and philosophical reflection guided by the Magisterium. It is necessary to sensitize researchers ever more, especially in the biomedical field, to the beneficial enrichment that can comes from combining scientific rigor with the demands of anthropology and Christian ethics."


VATICAN CITY, FEB 20, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father this morning received French bishops from the province of Paris and from the military ordinariate as they end their quinquennial "ad limina" visit. In his talk to them he echoed their concern for the secularization of French society and highlighted the need not only for a renewed evangelization in many areas but, in some cases, a "first proclamation of the Gospel."

He remarked that secularization "is often understood as a refusal, in social life, of the anthropological, religious and moral values which have profoundly marked it." Thus, he said, the need for both a first time proclamation of the Gospel, and an ongoing announcement. Noting that catechesis among children was decreasing, but was on the increase among young people, he said "it is important to offer both children and youth a quality education, giving them clear and solid elements of the faith which lead to an intense spiritual life."

The Pope added that "catechetical formation must be accompanied by regular religious practice. How can proposals made to children truly take root in them and how can Christ transform their inner being and actions if they do not encounter Him regularly?" Religious formation must be both personal and in the community of believers, "remembering that this dimension of life has a positive influence on social bonds and on the lives of people."

Faith, he said, must be profound, transmitted in solid teachings, faithful to the Magisterium and above all, it must be lived daily, especially in our relationships with others. "Pastors and catechists," said the Holy Father, "must remember that children and young people are especially sensitive to coherence between a person's word and their concrete life. Indeed, how can young people become aware of the need for participation in the Sunday Eucharist or the practice of the sacrament of penance if their parents or teachers do not themselves live such a religious and ecclesial life?

In forming young people, John Paul II exhorted the bishops to seek "forms of teaching that, bearing in mind their desire for a warm, human experience, and propose that they get to know Christ and to encounter Him on a path of strong and structured personal and community prayer."

Teaching the faith also involves enabling the faithful "to harmonize their religious knowledge with their human knowledge, so that they may realize an ever more solid synthesis between their scientific and technical learning, and the religious experience." He congratulated the Cathedral School of Paris whose work "invites each person to tirelessly deepen the mystery of faith, transmitting it in a suitable language, without however transforming its substance."

The Holy Father dedicated concluding remarks to "the catechetical and evangelizing nature of liturgy, which must be understood as a path to holiness, the inner strength of the apostolic dynamism and missionary nature of the Church. . Pastors must take ever greater care, with the collaboration of the laity, in the preparation of Sunday liturgy, paying special attention to the rite and beauty of the celebration. . In their homilies, priests must take care to teach the faithful about the doctrinal and scriptural foundations of the faith. I again strongly ask all the faithful to base their spiritual experience and their mission in the Eucharist, around the bishop, minister and guarantor of communion in the diocesan Church, for 'where the bishop is, there is the Church'."


VATICAN CITY, FEB 20, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate

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

- Bishop Jean-Yves Riocreux of Pontoise.

- Bishop Olivier de Berranger of Saint-Denis.

- Bishop Eric Aumonier of Versailles.

- Archbishop Patrick Le Gal, military ordinary.

- Bishop Francesco Lambiasi, emeritus of Anagni-Alatri, Italy and general ecclesiastical assistant of Italian Catholic Action, and Paola Bignardi, national president of the same association.
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Thursday, February 19, 2004


VATICAN CITY, FEB 19, 2004 (VIS) - The Pontifical Academy for Life opened its Tenth General Assembly this morning in the Vatican with a Mass to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the academy's founding by Pope John Paul II. The assembly, which will end on February 22, has scheduled morning and afternoon sessions during which 26 Roman Curia officials, doctors and experts in genetics, bioethics, medical ethics, human reproduction, moral theology and psychology will make presentations. An audience with the Holy Father is also scheduled.

The theme of this year's meeting is "The Dignity of Human Procreation and Reproductive Technologies: Anthropological and Ethical Aspects."

Each work day will start with Mass in the chapel of the St. Martha Residence in the Vatican. Today's morning session focussed on the spiritual and moral figure of the academy's first president, Prof. Jerome LeJeune, who died shortly after being named to this position, and on the teachings of Pope John Paul II on human life. A concert is scheduled for the afternoon.

Friday, February 20, participants will study the biblical and theological meaning of human procreation, artifical procreation in all its implications and fatherhood and motherhood faced with the technologies of artificial procreation: anthropological considerations.

Saturday morning, February 21, will be dedicated to the psychological and spiritual repercussions of artificial procreation for women and families and alternative anthropological approaches, and to the juridical aspects in the making of right-to-life laws in a pluralistic society. Six round table discussions are scheduled for the afternoon.

The final day of the plenary assembly, Sunday, February 22, will feature communications by the academy's president, Prof. Juan de Dios Vial Correa, and vice president, Bishop Elio Sgreccia, a general discussion on and proposals for the theme for the 2005 meeting and the presentation of the draft of the Final Document.


VATICAN CITY, FEB 19, 2004 (VIS) - An Ordinary Public Consistory presided over by the Holy Father took place this morning in the Clementine Hall in the Apostolic Palace, during which it was decided that the following Blesseds will be canonized on May 16:

- Blessed Luigi Orione, priest and founder of the Little Work of Divine Providence and of the Congregation of the Little Sisters, Missionaries of Charity.

- Blessed Annibale Maria di Francia, priest and founder of the Congregation of the Rogationist Fathers of the Heart of Jesus and of the Religious Daughters of Divine Generosity.

- Blessed Jose Manyanet y Vives, priest and founder of the Congregation of the Sons of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph and the Missionary Daughters of the Holy Family of Nazareth.

- Blessed Nimatullah Al Hardini, priest of the Lebanese Maronite Order.

- Blessed Paola Elisabetta, nee Costanza Cerioli, widow Busecchi-Tassis, foundress of the Institute of Religious of the Holy Family.

- Blessed Gianna Beretta Molla, mother.


VATICAN CITY, FEB 19, 2004 (VIS) - The following telegram was sent by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, secretary of State, in the Holy Father's name, to government authorities in Iran following yesterday's train disaster in this country which claimed hundreds of victims:

"Having been informed of the tragic accident that took place in Iran, the Holy Father expresses his deepest sympathy to the authorities and to the Iranian people, once again in mourning for this railroad disaster. He entrusts the many victims to the mercy of the All Powerful and hopes that the families which have been so tried by this drama may benefit from the comfort of the solidarity of the authorities and those around them. The Pope invokes on all persons touched by this terrible accident, especially the wounded and those who saved them, blessings from on high."


VATICAN CITY, FEB 19, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Archbishop Dominique Francois Joseph Mamberti, apostolic nuncio in Sudan, as apostolic nuncio in Eritrea.
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VATICAN CITY, FEB 19, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
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VATICAN CITY, FEB 19, 2004 (VIS) - In recent weeks the following prelates died:

- Cardinal Opilio Rossi on February 9 at age 93.

- Bishop Guido Maria Casullo, emeritus of Candido Mendes, Brazil on January 10 at age 94.

- Bishop Noel Desmond Daly, emeritus of Sandhurst, Australia on January 14 at age 74.

- Bishop Walter Jansen, former auxiliary of Cologne, Germany on January 29 at age 80.

- Archbishop Denis Eugene Hurley, O.M.I., emeritus of Durban, South Africa on February 13 at age 88.

- Bishop Paul Mukanga Mambe of Kindu, Democratic Republic of Congo on January 26 at age 74.

- Bishop Gabriel Marie Joseph Matagrin, emeritus of Grenoble, France on February 2, 2004 at 85.

- Bishop Francis Xavier Mugadzi of Gweru, Zimbabwe on February 6, 2004 at age 72.

- Bishop Timothee Pirigisha Mukombe, emeritus of Kasongo, Democratic Republic of Congo on February 12 at age 83.

- Bishop Angel Adolfo Polachini Rodr¡guez, emeritus of Guanare, Venezuela on January 10 at age 84.

- Bishop Maurice J.A. Pourchet, emeritus of Saint-Flour, France on January 2 at age 97.

- Archbishop Candido Genaro Rubiolo, emeritus of Mendoza, Argentina on February 9 at age 83.

- Bishop George Henry Speltz, emeritus of Saint Cloud, U.S.A. on February 1 at age 91.

- Bishop Leonce Albert Van Peteghem, emeritus of Gent, Belgium on January 7 at age 87.

- Bishop Franz Zak, emeritus of Sankt Polten, Austria on January 28 at age 86.
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Wednesday, February 18, 2004


VATICAN CITY, FEB 18, 2004 (VIS) - During this Wednesday's general audience which took place in the Paul VI Hall, the Pope spoke about the canticle, "God the Savior," which opens the Letter to the Ephesians and is recited on Mondays in the liturgy of the Vespers.

John Paul II said that this text exalts "the marvelous work of God, carried out for us through Christ. . In this transcendent plan which includes creation and redemption, the world and human history, God pre-established 'in his benevolence that we should summarize all things in Christ'."

"The supremacy of Christ extends, therefore, to the world as well as to that more specific horizon which is the Church. Christ fulfills the function of 'fullness'." And the Pope continued, quoting Ephesians 1, 9: "For He has made known to us in all wisdom and insight the mystery of His will, according to his purpose which He set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in Him, things in heaven and things on earth."

The Holy Father affirmed that the hymn emphasizes "the exaltation of the 'redemption through the blood' of the cross, the 'forgiveness of sins,' the abundant effusion 'of the riches of His grace'." It also highlights the divine filiation of every Christian and "the 'knowledge of the mystery of God's will' through which one enters into the intimacy of the same trinitarian life."


VATICAN CITY, FEB 18, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Fr. Carlo Ellena, "fidei donum" priest of the archdiocese of Turin, Italy and executive secretary of the "Northeast 5" of the Episcopal Conference of Brazil, as bishop of Ze Doca (area 40,000, population 300,000, Catholics 260,000, priests 20, religious 31), Brazil. The bishop-elect was born in Valperga, Italy in 1938 and was ordained a priest in 1962.
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VATICAN CITY, FEB 18, 2004 (VIS) - During today's general audience, in the Paul VI Hall in the presence of 9,000 faithful and of a group of bishops, friends of the Focolare movement who are meeting in Rome, the Holy Father greeted the bishops and presented them with a Message for their annual meeting. The foundress of the Focolare Movement, Chiara Lubich, was also present at today's audience.

Noting that their encounter is centered on the theme of holiness, the Pope told the bishops that "Vatican Council II reminded us that holiness is the vocation of every baptized person. . In fact, only a Christian community shining with holiness can efficaciously fulfill the mission entrusted to it by Christ, that is, to spread the Gospel to the far ends of the earth."

"The universal character of the Church's vocation to holiness," he went on, "is a truth that represents one of the pillars of the conciliar constitution

'Lumen Gentium'. Two general aspects should be underlined here. Above all the fact that the Church is intimately holy and is called to live and to manifest that holiness in every one of its members. In the second place, the expression 'holiness of people', makes us think of ordinariness, that is of the need for the baptized to know how to live the Gospel coherently in every day life: in the family, in one's work, in every relation and occupation. It is precisely in the ordinary that one must live the extraordinary."

Tuesday, February 17, 2004


VATICAN CITY, FEB 17, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

- Bishop Gerard Daucourt of Nanterre on his "ad limina" visit.

- Fouad Aoun, ambassador of Lebanon, on his farewell visit.

- Archbishop Alfons Nossol of Opole, Poland, with a delegation from the University of Opole.
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VATICAN CITY, FEB 17, 2004 (VIS) - On February 25, Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent and a day of fasting, the Holy Father will preside at 10:30 a.m. in the Vatican Basilica at the celebration of the Word, during which he will bless and distribute ashes, according to the Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff.

The celebration will include the rite of introduction, the liturgy of the Word and a homily by the Holy Father, the blessing and imposition of ashes, the prayers of the faithful, the prayer of the Lord, and the concluding rite.
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VATICAN CITY, FEB 17, 2004 (VIS) - Twenty representatives of the University of Opole, Poland, who are in Rome to celebrate the tenth anniversary of its founding, were welcomed by the Pope today upon whom they conferred an honoris causa doctorate. The Pope recalled that ten years ago he consented to the institution of the Theology Faculty within the structure of a state university, knowing that "the birth of this athenaeum was very important for Opole."

"I thank God," he said, "for the fact that the University cooperates with the Church in the work of integration of society in Opole. . If we speak of integration of society, we do not mean this in the sense of the canceling of differences, of the unification of the way of thinking, of forgetting history - often marked by events that created divisions - but rather as a continuing search for those values that are common among men, that have different roots, a different story and, as a result, their own vision of the world and references to the societies they are living in."

"Today," the Holy Father stressed, "we speak of the Christian roots of Europe. If one sign of these are the cathedrals, the works of art, music and literature, they in a certain sense speak in silence. Universities, however, can speak out loud. . Yes, this voice might not be received by those who have been deafened by the ideology of the secularism of our continent but this does not release men of science . from the duty of giving witness . to that science and knowledge which grew in the fertile terrain of Christianity."
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VATICAN CITY, FEB 17, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

- Appointed Archbishop Lawrence Burke, S.J., of Nassau, Bahamas, as metropolitan archbishop of Kingston in Jamaica (area 3,267, population 1,407,000, Catholics 92,000, priests 51, permanent deacons 21, religious 209), Jamaica. He succeeds Archbishop Edgerton Roland Clarke whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted upon having reached the age limit.

- Appointed Bishop Patrick Pinder, auxiliary of the archdiocese of Nassau, Bahamas, as metropolitan archbishop of the same archdiocese (area 13,872, population 310.000, Catholics 47,688, priests 28, permanent deacons 14, religious 43).

Monday, February 16, 2004


VATICAN CITY, FEB 14, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

- Appointed Bishop Carlos Anibal Altamirano Arguello, auxiliary of Quito, Ecuador, as bishop of Azogues (area 4,515, population 206,953, Catholics 196,605, priests 37, religious 77), Ecuador. He succeeds Bishop Climaco Jacinto Zarauz Carrillo whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese was accepted by the Holy Father upon having reached the age limit.

- Appointed Bishop Julio Cesar Teran Dutari S.J., auxiliary of Quito, Ecuador, as bishop of Ibarra (area 4,986, population 345,781, Catholics 335,000, priests 91, permanent deacons 4, religious 140), Ecuador.

- Appointed Bishop Baldomero Carlos Martini of San Francisco, Argentina, as bishop of San Justo (area 130, population 800,000, Catholics 720,000, priests 66, permanent deacons 26, religious 184), Argentina.

- Appointed Bishop Miguel Angel Aguilar Miranda of Guaranda, Ecuador, as bishop military ordinary of Peru.
VATICAN CITY, FEB 14, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

- Appointed Bishop Carlos Anibal Altamirano Arguello, auxiliary of Quito, Ecuador, as bishop of Azogues (area 4,515, population 206,953, Catholics 196,605, priests 37, religious 77), Ecuador. He succeeds Bishop Climaco Jacinto Zarauz Carrillo whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese was accepted by the Holy Father upon having reached the age limit.

- Appointed Bishop Julio Cesar Teran Dutari S.J., auxiliary of Quito, Ecuador, as bishop of Ibarra (area 4,986, population 345,781, Catholics 335,000, priests 91, permanent deacons 4, religious 140), Ecuador.

- Appointed Bishop Baldomero Carlos Martini of San Francisco, Argentina, as bishop of San Justo (area 130, population 800,000, Catholics 720,000, priests 66, permanent deacons 26, religious 184), Argentina.

- Appointed Bishop Miguel Angel Aguilar Miranda of Guaranda, Ecuador, as bishop military ordinary of Peru.
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VATICAN CITY, FEB 16, 2004 (VIS) - Today the Holy Father received in audience six prelates from the French Episcopal Conference on their "ad limina" visit:

- Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, archbishop of Paris, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishops Michel Pollien and Pierre d'Ornellas.

- Bishop Daniel Labille of Creteil.

- Bishop Michel Dubost of Evry-Corbeil-Essonnes.

- Bishop Albert-Marie de Monleon of Meaux.

On Saturday February 14 the Holy Father received in separate audiences:

- Rudolf Schuster, president of the Slovak Republic, accompanied by his wife.

- Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
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VATICAN CITY, FEB 16, 2004 (VIS) - A note published today by the Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff announced that Cardinal Angelo Scola, patriarch of Venice, will take possession of the title of the Most Holy Twelve Apostles on Pza. Most Holy Apostles on Saturday, February 21 at 6:30 p.m.

On Sunday, February 22 at 11:30 a.m.., Cardinal Gustaaf Joos will take possession of the diaconate of St. Peter Damian ai Monti di San Paolo on Via Guido Biagi.


VATICAN CITY, FEB 15, 2004 (VIS) - In remarks made to the faithful who had assembled in St. Peter's Square to pray the Angelus today, Pope John Paul once again highlighted the process of European integration, and the expansion in May of the European Union, and stressed the undeniable presence and influence of Christianity throughout Europe's history.

"Yesterday, February 14," he noted, "we celebrated the feast of Sts. Cyril and Methodius, apostles of the Slav peoples and patrons of Europe together with St. Benedict, abbot. Evangelizing the central-eastern region of the continent they contributed in a decisive way to allow Christian Europe to breathe with two lungs: that of the West and that of the East. Indeed, it would be impossible to think of European civilization without the work and legacy of St. Benedict, just as one cannot fail to mention the evangelizing and social work of the two brothers from Salonika."

"In recent months," continued the Holy Father, "several countries from Eastern Europe, where Sts. Cyril and Methodius worked, have been involved in the process of political integration of the continent. These are nations that bear a specific cultural and spiritual richness: in them Christianity exercised an extraordinary cohesive force, with respect for their particular characteristics." He underscored, by way of example, how Sts. Cyril and Methodius adapted the Slav language to liturgical texts.

The Pope stated that "the encounter between the Gospel and culture allowed Europe to become a 'laboratory' where, over the centuries, significant and lasting values have been consolidated. Let us pray that, in our days, the universal message of Christ, entrusted to the Church, will be the light of truth and a source of justice and peace for the peoples of the continent and of the entire world."

Saturday, February 14, 2004


VATICAN CITY, FEB 14, 2004 (VIS) - Last evening Pope John Paul welcomed the bishops from the ecclesiastical provinces of Bordeaux and Poitiers in France as they conclude their "ad limina" visit. He centered his talk to them in the pastoral ministry for young people, highlighting the need for a solid human and spiritual formation at all age levels, especially given "the complex and difficult framework in which young people live today."

"Their cultural universe," said the Pope, "is marked by new communications technologies which often create difficulties for their relations with the world, the times and with others, and which shape their behavior. That creates a culture of the immediate and the ephemeral, which is not always favorable to careful study nor to an inner growth or moral discernment. However, (use of) the new media" also offers interesting possibilities "that one cannot deny." He noted, for example, that dioceses use internet sites, many directed to the young, to inform and to form them.

The Holy Father underscored "the many ruptures in society today that make young people fragile: family separations, . breaks in social bonds, . the disintegration of the family unit," and other precarious situations. He emphasized the evolution of "disquieting mentalities," including "exacerbated subjectivity, excessive freedom from habits that let young people think that all behavior, just because it can be done, is good, a serious lessening of a moral sense." Young people at times "give the impression of having entered adulthood too soon because of their acquaintances and their behavior, and of not having had the time to mature physically, intellectually, emotionally and morally."

"As pastors you are attentive to these realities, knowing the generosity of the young who are ready to work for just causes and are anxious to find happiness." He said that education was key in forming young people, be it at the level of the family, the parish or schools. France has a history of great educators, he pointed out. "I invite you, despite few means, not to be sparing in your efforts in the educational field."

John Paul II stressed that "young people aspire to live in groups where they are known and loved," first and foremost the family, then friends and, not least of all, he said, the diocesan community, remarking that "the presence of adults other than relatives is often beneficial." He encouraged Catholic schools to be communities that always impart Christian values and transmit the Magisterium to young people.

"The pastoral ministry for the young," the Pope went on, "calls for those who accompany them to be perseverant, attentive and inventive. Never hesitate to use quality priests for this who have a good formation and a spiritual and moral life beyond reproach." He underscored that living the faith and the sacramental life is far more "than just one activity among many others in one's life."

Pope John Paul then turned to the question of young people who are preparing for marriage, noting that many have known suffering in their own family situations. "In society, many various models of relationships exist without

any anthropological or qualification. . The Church repeats that marriage between a man and woman, and a family are built above all on a strong bond between the persons and on a definitive commitment, not on the purely emotional aspect which cannot be the only basis for married life. May pastors and Christian couples be not afraid to help young people to reflect on this delicate and essential questions."
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VATICAN CITY, FEB 14, 2004 (VIS) - A group of pilgrims from Slovakia, accompanied by Cardinals Jan Korec and Jozef Tomko and by President Rudolf Schuster, was welcomed to the Vatican today by John Paul II who recalled the three times he visited their country: in 1990 after the fall of the communist regime, in 1995 and again in 2003.

Noting that their visit coincides with the feast today of Cyril and Methodius, the Slav brothers and saints who are patrons of Slovakia and co-patrons of Europe, the Pope said that "the witness of these two great apostles of the Slavs is a strong reminder to rediscover the roots of the European identity of your people, roots that you share with other nations on the continent." Your faith, he told the Slovak pilgrims, represents the richest and most solid patrimony of your people. Safeguard and nourish it, he said: "It must not be hidden, but proclaimed and witness to with courage."

The Holy Father pointed out that Jesus taught the disciples to be "'the salt of the earth, .and the light of the world'. Being 'salt' and 'light' means making the Gospel truth shine in your daily personal and community choices. It means keeping unchanged the spiritual legacy of Saints Cyril and Methodius by opposing the widespread tendency to conform to homologous and standardized models.

"Slovakia and Europe of the Third Millennium," he underscored, "have become enriched by many cultural contributions but it would be deleterious to forget that Christianity contributed in a decisive manner to the formation of the continent. You, dear Slovaks, offer your significant contribution to the hoped-for building of European unity, making yourselves the voice of those human and spiritual values which have given meaning to your history. It is indispensable for these ideals that you have lived with coherence to continue to guide a free Europe that offers solidarity, capable of harmonizing its diverse cultural and religious traditions."


VATICAN CITY, FEB 14, 2004 (VIS) - Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, permanent observer to the Office of the United Nations and Specialized Institutions, spoke on February 10 in Geneva at the first meeting of the permanent Committee of experts on the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-personnel Mines and on their Destruction.

In his talk, published today, Archbishop Tomasi said that "when there has been the lack of knowledge, of ability or of will to take political decisions or practical measures to prevent production and dissemination of anti-personnel mines, national authorities and the international community have no right to avoid their respective responsibility for a comprehensive treatment of the tragic consequences mines cause."

After emphasizing that victims of anti-personnel mines "are innocent witnesses of a wrong approach to security," the permanent observer added: "In most cases the citizens of the country that employs this arm are those who suffer most its disastrous consequences." For this reason, he urged that in the First Review Conference which will take place in Nairobi, Kenya "the plight and a program of assistance to victims of anti-personnel mines should take a prominent place in the reflection."

"Healing entire populations of the consequences of war and armed conflicts, especially the people that have been most affected and victimized, is the best investment in building up true security and a durable peace."

Friday, February 13, 2004


VATICAN CITY, FEB 13, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience Cardinal Julian Herranz, president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, accompanied by Bishop Bruno Bertagna and Msgr. Bernard A. Hebda, respectively secretary and undersecretary of this pontifical council.

This afternoon the Holy Father is scheduled to receive in separate audiences:

- Archbishop Luigi Bonazzi, apostolic nuncio in Haiti.

- Mario Baccini, Italian undersecretary for Foreign Affairs, with his family.

- Bishop Bernard Charrier of Tulle, France on his "ad limina" visit.

- A group of prelates from the French Episcopal Conference on their "ad limina" visit.
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VATICAN CITY, FEB 13, 2004 (VIS) - Pope John Paul delivered the homily at the funeral this morning in St. Peter's Basilica of Cardinal Opilio Rossi, 93, who died four days ago in Rome after a life dedicated to service in the Roman Curia and in the Vatican's diplomatic corps.

The Pope underscored that it was "faith which animated the long and fecund priestly ministry of Cardinal Opilio Rossi. How many times did he celebrate the divine Sacrifice, drawing from the Eucharist the light and inner strength needed for his daily choices and for his apostolate!"

Noting that his episcopal motto was "Omnia in Christo" ("All in Christ"), the Pope said: "We can say that, even within the limits of human fragility, this total tension towards Christ was behind the tireless service he gave to the Holy See in the pontifical representations in diverse countries in America and Europe, and again within the milieu of the Roman Curia.

"During the dramatic moments of World War II," he continued, "Fr. Opilio Rossi, then an auditor in the pontifical representative in Berlin, gave everything he had, along with the late apostolic nuncio, Msgr. Orsenigo, to assist many suffering brothers and sisters, giving them courage and nourishing in them faith and Christian hope. It was an enriching experience of humanity and solidarity towards the weakest. He then sought, over the course of his life, to transmit this experience to new generations. He was in fact convinced that young people must draw from the history of the 20th century an important lesson: that is, that hatred, disdain for others, violence, and exasperated nationalism bring forth only tears and blood."

John Paul II then recalled that Cardinal Rossi returned to the Roman Curia where he became the first president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity and that he himself called the cardinal to preside over the Permanent Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses.

"Wherever he undertook his pastoral and diplomatic ministry," concluded the Pope, Cardinal Rossi "knew how to become close to everyone."
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VATICAN CITY, FEB 13, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Msgr. Roland Minnerath, professor of Church History in the Faculty of Theology at the State University of Strasbourg, France, as metropolitan archbishop of Dijon (area 8,760, population 506,783, Catholics 408,973, priests 222, permanent deacons 28, religious 398), France. The archbishop-elect was born in 1946 in Sarreguemines, France and was ordained a priest in 1978. He succeeds Archbishop Michel Coloni whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted upon having reached the age limit.

Thursday, February 12, 2004


VATICAN CITY, FEB 11, 2004 (VIS) - Today, liturgical memory of Our Lady of Lourdes and 12th World Day of the Sick, Cardinal Camillo Ruini, vicar general for the diocese of Rome, celebrated Mass at 4:30 p.m. in St. Peter's Basilica for the ill and for the pilgrims of Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi and UNITALSI. At the end of the Eucharistic celebration, Pope John Paul came to the basilica to bless the sick and speak to them and those who care for them.

"With great affection I greet you," said the Pope. "Since this morning my prayers have been dedicated in a special way to you and now I am delighted to meet with you." He noted that "20 years ago, on the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, I published the Apostolic Letter 'Salvifici doloris' on the Christian meaning of human suffering. I chose that date thinking of the special message that the Virgin imparted from Lourdes to the sick and suffering."

He pointed out that today especially we think of Mary and the Lourdes grotto, "where the words 'I am the Immaculate Conception' are written' . because in this basilica, 150 years ago Blessed Pope Pius XI solemnly proclaimed the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, . a truth which introduces us to the heart of the mystery of creation and the Redemption."

"Looking at Mary," added the Holy Father, "our hearts are open to hope because we see the great things that God realizes when, with humility, we open ourselves to fulfilling His will. Mary Immaculate is a stupendous sign of the victory of life over death, of love over sin, of salvation over every type of sickness of body and spirit. . May contemplating this ineffable mystery fill you with comfort, dear sick people; may it illuminate your work, dear doctors, nurses and health care workers; and may it sustain your precious activity, dear volunteers, as you are called to recognize and serve Jesus in every needy person."


VATICAN CITY, FEB 11, 2004 (VIS) - Pope John Paul focussed the catechesis of today's general audience on the liturgical memory of Our Lady of Lourdes and on the celebration of the 12th World Day of the Sick. He noted that the shrine at Lourdes "continues to attract crowds of pilgrims from every part of the world, including many people who are sick" and, over the years, "an intense relationship has developed which binds it to the world of illness and those who work in health care services."

He added that the principal celebration of the World Day of the Sick is taking place this year in Lourdes because "in 2004 we will celebrate the 150th anniversary of the proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception which took place on December 8, 1854. Four years later in Lourdes, in 1858 the Virgin Mary, appearing to Bernadette Soubirous in the grotto of Massabielle, called herself 'the Immaculate Conception'."

"The World Day of the Sick," remarked the Holy Father, "is a strong call to rediscover the important presence in the Christian community of those who suffer and to evaluate ever more their precious contribution. Pain and sickness can seem absurd if we look at them in strictly human terms: when, however, we allow ourselves to be illuminated by the light of the Gospel, we can see the deeply salvific meaning."

Turning to those who "suffer in body and spirit," the Pope expressed his "affection and spiritual closeness. At the same time I would like to remind everyone that human life is always a gift of God, even when it is marked by physical pain of every kind; a 'gift' to be used for the Church and the world. Certainly anyone who suffers must not be left alone. In this regard I wish to express a word of heartfelt appreciation for all those who, with simplicity and spirit of service, are close to those who are sick, seeking to alleviate their suffering and, as much as possible, to free them from infirmities thanks to progress in the world of medicine."

Following a summary of the catechesis and his greetings in different languages to the pilgrims present, John Paul II noted that "today marks the 75th anniversary of the Treaty and Concordat between the Holy See and the Italian State. The Lateran Pacts marked a positive turning point, of historical dimensions, in the relationship between Church and State in Italy, opening the path to a broader collaboration in service to and for the benefit of the entire population."
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VATICAN CITY, FEB 12, 2004 (VIS) - In welcoming Colombian President Alvaro Uribe Velez to the Vatican today, Pope John Paul told him in remarks in Spanish that he was "pleased at the collaboration that exists between the Church and leaders in your country."

"Colombia is very present in my thoughts and my prayers," the Pope told him, "as I pray that its people might walk without losing heart towards an authentic social peace, rejecting any form of violence, generating new forms of coexistence for a sure and firm path of justice, and promoting in a capillary fashion from every corner of the nation unity, fraternity and respect for each other. It is time to establish firm foundations for the moral and material rebuilding of your national community in order to reestablish a society that is just, responsible, peaceful and marked by solidarity."

"I thank you for your visit," said the Holy Father, "and I renew my wishes for the spiritual and material progress of Colombians, for their coexistence in harmony and freedom." He asked for God's blessings "on the beloved sons and daughters of Colombia, on families, ecclesial communities and the diverse public institutions and those who administer them."


VATICAN CITY, FEB 11, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

- Appointed Archbishop Franc Rode, archbishop of Ljubljana, Slovenia, as prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. He accepted the resignation from the same position presented by Cardinal Eduardo Martinez Somalo in accordance with Canon 354 of the Code of Canon Law.

- Accepted the resignation from the position of secretary general of the Synod of Bishops presented by Cardinal Jan Pieter Schotte, C.I.C.M., in accordance with Canon 354 of the Code of Canon Law. The Pope appointed Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, apostolic nuncio in Ukraine to succeed him.

- Accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Springfield in Massachusetts, U.S.A., presented by Bishop Thomas L. Dupre in accordance with Canon 401, para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law.

- Appointed Fr. Luis Felipe Sanchez Aponte, vicar general of the diocese of Chiquinquira, Colombia and director of the Diocesan Institute of Pastoral Ministry, as bishop of the same diocese (area 4,019, population 310,000, Catholics 309,000, priests 83, religious 180). The bishop-elect was born in Samaca, Colombia in 1947 and was ordained a priest in 1973.

- Appointed Fr. Antonio Ortega Franco, C.O., moderator of the Secretariat for the Laity and pastor in the archdiocese of Mexico, Mexico, as auxiliary bishop of the same archdiocese (area 1,479, population 7,738,307, Catholics 6,999,402, priests 1,333, permanent deacons 81, religious 6,387). The bishop-elect was born in Empalme Escobedo, Mexico in 1941 and was ordained a priest in 1968.

- Appointed Dr. Patricio Ventura-Junca Tobar, professor of pediatrics of the Faculty of Medicine at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile and director of the Center for Bioethics at the same university, as ordinary member of the Pontifical Academy for Life.
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VATICAN CITY, FEB 12, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father has announced that the Eleventh Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops will take place in the Vatican from October 2 to 29, 2005 on the theme. "The Eucharist: Source and Summit of the Life and Mission of the Church."
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VATICAN CITY, FEB 12, 2004 (VIS) - John Paul II today received Kamal Kharrazi, foreign minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran, along with an entourage. "Your presence here," said the Pope in English, "is a sign of the cooperation that, for more than fifty years now, has marked the official relations between the Holy See and your country. I am confident that this spirit of collaboration will continue to grow ever stronger as we address issues of mutual concern to us."

"Not least in this regard," added the Holy Father, "is the ongoing commitment to safeguard the inalienable rights and dignity of the human person, especially in efforts aimed at promoting greater understanding among peoples of different religious, cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Mr. Minister, I assure you of my good wishes for your stay in Rome and I invoke upon you the blessings of Almighty God."

The last Iranian government official to be welcomed to the Vatican by Pope John Paul was Iranian President Seyyed Mohammad Khatami on March 11, 1999.


VATICAN CITY, FEB 12, 2004 (VIS) - Ahmed Qurei, prime minister of the Palestinian National Authority, was welcomed this morning by Pope John Paul on his first ever visit to the Vatican. The Pope told him that his "presence brings back vivid memories of my pilgrimage to the Holy Land, during which I prayed fervently for peace and justice in the region."

He went on to say, in brief remarks in English, that "while signs of hope have not been altogether absent, unfortunately the sad situation in the Holy Land is a cause of suffering for all. No one must yield to the temptation of discouragement, let alone to hatred or retaliation. It is reconciliation that the Holy Land needs: forgiveness not revenge, bridges not walls. This demands that all leaders of the region follow, with the help of the international community, the path of dialogue and negotiation which leads to lasting peace. Upon you and your people I cordially invoke an abundance of divine blessings."

Ahmed Qurei was named to his post on September 7, 2003. He is the second prime minister of the Palestinian Authority since April 2003.
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