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Monday, January 12, 2004


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

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

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

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

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

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


VATICAN CITY, JAN 10, 2004 (VIS) - The Pope today received the Letters of Credence of Kouame Benjamin Konan, the new ambassador from the Ivory Coast to the Holy See.

Recalling the "serious crisis" that the Ivory Coast has been going through since September 2002, the Pope said he "greatly hopes that the process of national reconciliation will be pursued and intensified and that the dialogue of arms gives way to the arms of dialogue."

He emphasized that "the will to bring to term the disarmament of the various parties engaged in conflict is an important step on the path to peace as it shows the noble desire to say yes to harmony and no to violence. ... I do not doubt that this disarmament will concern all arms held by the populations, thus contributing to the inner stability of the country. The prospect of the free circulation of persons and goods must also allow the authorities to restore confidence to the populations and give them the possibility of possessing the most fundamental goods." The Holy Father noted that institutions and administrations "must be re-established without delay as we know that such infrastructures ... are essential to the dynamism of the country."

"Consolidating relations of trust between human and religious communities which comprise your country," the Pope went on, "is a major stake and a necessary condition for making reciprocal fear disappear and for rediscovering the joy of living together. I call on religious leaders and the members of all communities to commit all their energy to this task so essential to the stability ... of the nation. Likewise, mutual trust ... is rooted in the promotion of universal moral values, such as respect for human rights and the sense of the dignity of each person."

The Pope said he was "pleased" at the ambassador's positive comments on the role and actions of the Catholic Church in the Ivory Coast "in participating in a specific way ... in the peaceful resolution of the conflict in your country" and "in the active part that the Catholic Church is taking to assure, in relation with international organizations, the material, medical, psychological and spiritual aid for displaced persons and victims traumatized by war."

"The love of Christ, to which the Church witnesses to all of mankind," concluded John Paul II, "invites her to be concerned with all men, paying particular heed to those who are the weakest and those who suffer. Refusing all divisions, which place in peril the common good, ... the Church knows she is called to the integral growth of persons and peoples, in conformity with their vocation."


VATICAN CITY, JAN 10, 2004 (VIS) - The Prefecture of the Papal Household announced today that on February 25, Ash Wednesday, the Holy Father will preside at the celebration of the Word and imposition of ashes at 10:30 a.m. in the Paul VI Hall. This ceremony will take the place of the Wednesday general audience and all those who have requested to participate in the audience may participate in this event. There will be no traditional Ash Wednesday service in the afternoon at Santa Sabina's Basilica.
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 10, 2004 (VIS) - The Pope this morning received the participants in the plenary assembly of the Congregation for the Clergy, which began January 8 and ended today in the Vatican. The themes this year were "Consultative Organisms, Diocesan and Parish Councils" and "The Pastoral Ministry of Shrines."

After noting the distinction between the priestly ministry and the common priesthood of the faithful, the Holy Father underscored how "pastors have the duty to form, support and sanctify the People of God, while the lay faithful, together with them, take an active part in the mission of the Church, in a constant synergy of forces and in respect for vocations and specific charisms."

"This useful collaboration on the part of the laity," he continued, "is expressed in the diverse councils foreseen by canon law at the diocesan and parish levels. ... It is necessary to preserve a balanced relationship between the role of the laity and that which belongs properly to the diocesan ordinary or to the pastor."

John Paul II stated that "legitimate pastors" are not "simple executors of decisions deriving from a majority opinion coming from an ecclesial assemblies. The Church structure cannot be conceived on simply human political models. Its hierarchical constitution is founded on the will of Christ and, as such, is part of the 'depositum fidei' which must be preserved and integrally transmitted over the centuries."

Then, referring to the theme of the pastoral ministry of shrines, the Pope underlined how in these places there must be "priests with a notable pastoral sensitivity" and "an adequate doctrinal and pastoral formation." Likewise, he said, at the center of every pilgrimage are the liturgical celebrations and, in the first place, Mass. They must always be prepared with care and animated by great devotion, encouraging the active participation of the faithful. Your dicastery," he concluded, "will not fail to prepare opportune suggestions to assist the pastoral ministry of shrines to be ever more renewed and responding to the demands of the times."


VATICAN CITY, JAN 10, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father received in audience:

- Archbishop Luis Robles Diaz, vice president of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America.

- Bishop prelate-elect Carlo Liberati, pontifical delegate for the Shrine of the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Holy Rosary of Pompeii, with family members.

- Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 11, 2004 (VIS) - Appearing at his study window at noon for the Angelus prayer, Pope John Paul spoke to the faithful in St. Peter's Square of today's celebration of the Baptism of the Lord, saying that "the Gospels tell us that Jesus went to John the Baptist in the Jordan River, wishing to receive from him the baptism of Penance."

"This is the first public manifestation of the messianic identity of Jesus after the adoration by the Magi." said the Pope. "For this reason the liturgy links the Baptism to the Epiphany, with a chronological leap of about 30 years: the child Whom the Magi adored as the messianic king, we see today consecrated by the Father in the Holy Spirit."

He noted that "in the Baptism in the Jordan, we can already clearly see the messianic 'style' of Jesus: He comes as 'the Lamb of God' to take upon Himself and to take away the sin of the world. Thus the Baptist indicates Him to the disciples. We too, who celebrated the great event of the Incarnation in Christmas, are invited to keep our eyes on Jesus, the human face of God and the divine face of man."

The Holy Father concluding by noting that "Mary is an insuperable teacher of contemplation. ... The Baptism of Christ is the first mystery of light for Mary and for the entire Church. May it illuminate the path of every Christian."
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 10, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

- Appointed Archbishop Diego Causero, apostolic nuncio in Syria, as apostolic nuncio in the Czech Republic.

- Appointed Chorbishop Gregory John Mansour as bishop of the eparchy of Saint Maron of Brooklyn of the Maronites (Catholics 30,000, priests 55, religious 16, permanent deacons 12), U.S.A. The bishop-elect was born in 1955 in Flint, U.S.A., was ordained a priest in 1982 and up to now has been vicar general of the eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon of Los Angeles, U.S.A. He succeeds Bishop Hector Stephen Y. Doueihi whose resignation to the pastoral care of the eparchy of Brooklyn the Pope accepted in conformity with Canon 210, para 2 of the Code of Canons of the Oriental Churches.

- Erected the diocese of Timika, Indonesia, with territory taken from the diocese of Jayapura, making it suffragen of the metropolitan see of Merauke.

- Appointed Fr. John Philip Saklil, of the clergy of Jayapura and episcopal vicar of the same diocese, as the first bishop of Timika (area 81,810, population 518,884, Catholics 72,072, priests 21, religious 27), Indonesia. The bishop-elect was born in 1960 in Kokonao, Indonesia and was ordained a priest in 1988.

- Appointed Bishop Gennaro Pascarella of Ariano Irpino-Lacedonia, Italy as coadjutor of Pozzuoli (area 105, population 508,500, Catholics 499,500, priests 139, religious 218, permanent deacons 19), Italy.

- Appointed Bishop Raymond Roussin, S.M. of Victoria, Canada, as archbishop metropolitan of Vancouver (area 119,430, population 2,032,024, Catholics 376.511, priests 185, religious 234, permanent deacons 1), Canada. Archbishop-elect Roussin was born in 1939 in Saint-Vital, Canada, was ordained a priest in 1970 and a bishop in 1995. He succeeds Archbishop Adam Joseph Exner, O.M.I., whose resignation to the pastoral care of the archdiocese the Pope accepted upon having reached the age limit.
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 12, 2004 (VIS) - As he does traditionally at the start of a new year, Pope John Paul, this morning in the Regia Hall, welcomed members of the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See for an exchange of New Year's Greetings. Prior to the Pope's address in French, the dean of the corps, Ambassador Giovanni Galassi from the Republic of San Marino, spoke to the Pope on behalf of all the ambassadors. The Holy See has diplomatic ties with 174 nations, the European Union and the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, and has special relations with the Russian Federation and the Palestinian Liberation Organization.

The Holy Father began his talk, which customarily looks at the lights and shadows of the world scene, by saying that "the celebration of Christmas has just reminded us of God's tenderness for mankind, shown in Jesus, and has echoed once again the ever new message from Bethlehem: 'Peace on earth to the People whom God loves'. This message reaches us this year while yet many peoples experience the consequences of armed struggles, suffer poverty, are victims of glaring injustices and pandemics difficult to overcome."

Following are excerpts from the Pope's address which focuses on four points:


"These last months, peace has been severely beaten by the events that have taken place in the Middle East."

"The many steps taken by the Holy See to avoid the painful conflict that took place in Iraq are well known. What matters today is that the international community help the Iraqis, freed from a regime which oppressed them, so that they might be in shape to take up the reins of their country, to consolidate its sovereignty, to democratically determine a political and economic system in conformity with their aspirations and that Iraq will become a credible partner in the international community.

"The non-resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian problem continues to be a factor of permanent destabilization for the entire region. ... The choice of arms, recourse on the one hand to terrorism and on the other to reprisals, humiliating one's adversary, and hateful propaganda, all of these lead nowhere. Only respect for the legitimate aspirations of both sides, a return to the negotiating table and the concrete commitment of the international community are capable of leading to the start of a solution."

"Other tensions and conflicts, especially in Africa, can be mentioned. Their impact on the populations is dramatic. To the effects of violence can be added the impoverishment and deterioration of the social fabric, plunging entire peoples into despair."

"I wish to pay very special homage this morning to Msgr. Michael Courtney, apostolic nuncio in Burundi, who was recently assassinated. As all nuncios and all diplomats he wished above all to serve the cause of peace and dialogue, I salute his courage and his concern for supporting the Burundian people in their march towards peace. ... I also wish to honor the memory of Sergio Veira de Mello, the U.N.'s special representative in Iraq, killed during the course of his mission."

"And how can we not speak of international terrorism which, in sowing fear, hatred and fanaticism, dishonors all the causes it pretends to serve? Here I simply wish to say that every civilization worthy of this name presupposes the categorical refusal of relations of violence."

"More than ever, it is urgent to return to a more effective collective security that gives the United Nations Organization the place and the role that belongs to it. ... One thing is certain: war never resolves conflicts among peoples!"


"Even if I speak here in the name of the Catholic Church, I know that the different Christian denominations and the faithful of other religions consider themselves as witnesses of a God of justice and peace.

"When one believes that every human person has received from the Creator a unique dignity, that each of us is the subject of inalienable rights and freedoms, that to serve the other person is to make humanity greater, ... one can easily understand that capital that the communities of believers represent in the building of a more peaceful and peace-loving world."

"Everywhere where peace is in doubt, there are Christians to attest in words and deeds that peace is possible. And this is, as you well know, the meaning of the Holy See's interventions in international debates."


"Communities of believers are present in all societies, ... waiting thus legitimately to be able to participate in the public dialogue. Unfortunately we can see that it is not always like this. ... Often the principle of secularity is invoked, in itself legitimate, if it is understood as the distinction between the political community and religions. But distinction does not mean ignorance! Secularity is not laicism! ... Church-State relations can and must make room for, on the contrary, a respectful dialogue, the bearer of experiences and fruitful values for the future of a nation. A healthy dialogue between the State and Churches - who are not competitors but partners - can without doubt favor the integral development of the human person and harmony in society.

"Difficulty in accepting religion in public spaces is demonstrated in an emblematic way by the recent debate on the Christian roots of Europe. ...Without underestimating other religious traditions, it remains that Europe was affirmed at the same time she was evangelized. And one must in all justice recall that not too long ago Christians, in promoting the freedom and rights of man, contributed to the peaceful resolution of authoritarian regimes as well as to the restoration of democracy in central and eastern Europe.


"As you know the ecumenical commitment is one of the focuses of my pontificate. In fact, I am convinced that if Christians were capable of overcoming their divisions the world would have more solidarity."

"All together we can contribute efficaciously to respect for life, to safeguarding the dignity of the human person and his inalienable rights, social justice and the preservation of the environment. ... One cannot measure enough the pacifying influence that Christians united can have in the midst of their own community as well at the heart of civil society.

"If I say this, it is not only to remind all those who claim Christ of the commanding need to resolutely pursue the path that leads to the unity that Christ wishes, but also to indicate to the leaders of society the resources that they can draw from in the Christian patrimony as well as from those who live it. ... In this domain a concrete example can be cited: educating to peace. ... In the light of reason and faith, the Church proposes a pedagogy of peace so as to prepare for better times."
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