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Thursday, January 8, 2004


VATICAN CITY, JAN 8, 2003 (VIS) - Today john paul ii received representatives from the academic communities of wroclaw and opole, poland, accompanied by cardinal henryk roman gulbinowicz, archbishop of wroclaw. during the encounter, they bestowed on the pontiff the academic golden laurel for the 50th anniversary of the defense of his thesis in order to become a professor in the faculty of theology at the jagiellonian university.

The pope thanked them for the honor and recalled that he was the last professor to join the faculty of theology before the communist authorities shut it down. "it was an act," he said, "meant to divide the institutions, as well as to pit reason and faith against each other. i am not speaking about that distinction that was born in the late medieval age on the basis of the autonomy of the sciences, but of the separation that was imposed with violence on the spiritual heritage of the nation."

"Never the less," continued the holy father, "i never abandoned the conviction that those efforts would not achieve their goal. this conviction grow strong in me thanks to personal interaction with men of science, professors from different disciplines who bore witness to the profound desire for dialogue and the common search for truth." the pope then referred to his encyclical, "faith and reason," in which he affirms: "faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth."

"Your presence here," he concluded, "inspires in me the hope that this lively dialogue will last and that none of the current ideologies will be able to interrupt it. with this hope, i direct my gaze toward all universities, academies and high schools."
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 8 2004 (VIS) - The holy father today received in separate audiences:

- Ivo sanader, prime minister of the republic of croatia, accompanied by his wife and an entourage.

- Archbishop hans-josef becker of paderborn, germany.

- Raymond r.m. tai, ambassador of china on his farewell visit.

- Bishop josef clemens, secretary of the pontifical council for the laity, accompanied by family members.

- Cardinal henryk roman gulbinowicz, archbishop of wroclaw, poland and an entourage.
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 8, 2004 (VIS) - Today a message by the pope to participants in an international symposium on the "dignity and rights of the mentally handicapped" was made public. the meeting, which is taking place from january 7 to 9 in the vatican and is organized by the congregation for the doctrine of the faith, coincides with the end of the year of handicapped people in europe.

"Handicapped people," reads the message, "even when they have mental limitations or sensorial and intellectual handicaps, are completely human subjects with the sacred and inalienable rights due to every human creature. ... only when the rights of the weakest members of a society are recognized can a society say that it is founded on law and justice."

The holy father emphasizes that "a society that only gives space to its fully functioning members who are totally autonomous and independent, is not a society worthy of man. discrimination based on efficiency is no less condemnable than discrimination based on race, sex or religion."

"In addition to any other consideration or specific interest or group," he continues, "it is necessary to try to promote the integral good of these people, without denying them the help and protection necessary even when it may mean a greater social and economic burden. perhaps even more than other sick people, the mentally retarded need attention, affection, understanding and love: we cannot leave them alone, unarmed and defenseless, in the difficult duty of confronting life."

John paul ii writes in this sense that "care for the affective and sexual dimensions of handicapped people is also worthy of attention. ... they also need to love and be loved, they need affection, closeness and intimacy. unfortunately, handicapped people must live these legitimate and natural needs in a disadvantaged situation which becomes ever-more evident with the passage from childhood to adulthood. ... they seek authentic relationships in which they can be appreciated and recognized as persons."

"Without a doubt," he adds, "handicapped people, revealing the radical fragility of the human condition, are an expression of the drama of sorrow and in this world of ours, so eager for hedonism and fascinated by ephemeral and false beauty, and their difficulties are frequently perceived as a scandal and a provocation, their problems as a weight that must be gotten rid off or resolved as soon as possible."

The pope concludes the message by highlighting that these persons "can teach everyone what is love and how to be promoters of a new world, not dominated by force, violence and aggressiveness any more, but by love, solidarity, acceptance, a new world transformed by the light of christ, the son of god incarnate, who was crucified and rose from the dead."
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 8, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

- Appointed archbishop edoardo menichelli of chieti-vasto, italy, metropolitan archbishop of ancona-osimo (area 500, population 207,220, catholics 205,682, priests 190, religious 289, permanent deacons 15), italy. he succeeds archbishop franco festorazzi whose resignation from the pastoral care of the archdiocese was accepted upon having reached the age limit.

- Appointed fr. michel meranville, pastor of the cathedral of fort-de-france, france as archbishop of saint-pierre et fort-de-france (area 1,080, population 400,000, catholics 298,000, priests 62, religious 183), france. the archbishop-elect was born in 1936 in vauclin, france was ordained a priest in 1959. he succeeds archbishop maurice marie-sainte whose resignation from the same archdiocese was accepted upon having reached the age limit.
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