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Tuesday, February 3, 2004


VATICAN CITY, FEB 3, 2004 (VIS) - This morning, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, secretary of State, and Archbishop Leonardi Sandri, substitute for General Affairs presented the first copy of the 2004 edition of the "Annuario Pontificio," or pontifical yearbook, to John Paul II, in the presence of those involved in its compilation and printing.

Among significant data is the creation of 30 new cardinals and 19 new episcopal sees, 1 apostolic exarchate, 1 military ordinariate and 1 apostolic prefecture. In addition, 4 metropolitan sees and 2 episcopal sees were elevated and 175 new bishops were appointed.

The statistics, based on data from 2002, indicate that there are 1,071,000,000 baptized Catholics in the world who make up 17.2% of the world population (6,212,000,000). Their distribution by continent is the following: 50% in America, 26.1% in Europe, 12.8% in Africa, 10.3% in Asia and 0.8% in Oceania. With respect to the population, the percentage of Catholics is: 62.4% in America, 40.5% in Europe, 26.8% in Oceania, 16.5% in Africa and 3% in Asia.

The number of people who dedicate themselves to pastoral activity is 4,217,572, distributed as following: 4,605 bishops, 405,058 priests (of which 267,334 are diocesan), 30,097 permanent deacons, 54,828 professed, non-priest religious, 782,932 professed female religious (of which 51,371 are contemplative), 28,766 members of secular institutes, 143,745 lay missionaries and 2,767,451 catechists.

Compared to 2001, the total number of priests remained the same (405,067 in 2001). However, upon analyzing the number of religious and diocesan priests, an increase in the number of diocesan priests is noted (from 266,448 in 2001 to 267,334 in 2002) as well as a decrease in the number of religious priests (from 138,619 to 137,724). There is an increase in the number of permanent deacons and lay missionaries (3.1% and 3.4% respectively).

The number of major seminarians is 112,982 (in 2001 there were 112,244), signaling an increase of 0.7%. There was an increase in the candidates to the priesthood in Africa (more than 5.8%) and America (more than 1.4%), while in Europe and Asia there was a slight decrease.
./PONTIFICAL YEARBOOK 2004/. VIS 20040203 (770)


VATICAN CITY, FEB 3, 2004 (VIS) - Yesterday evening thousands of members of institutes of consecrated life and societies of apostolic life participated in a Eucharistic celebration presided by the Pope in the Vatican Basilica for the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord.

The Pope blessed the candles, participated in the initial procession and, after pronouncing the homily, led the thanksgiving to God for the gift of consecrated life. Following the Mass, which was celebrated by Cardinal Eduardo Martinez Somalo, prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, the Holy Father imparted his apostolic blessing.

John Paul II said that on this eighth day of Consecrated Life, "those who have forever offered their lives to Christ for the coming of the Kingdom of God are called to renew their 'yes' to the special vocation they have received. At the same time, the entire ecclesial community also rediscovers the richness of the prophetic witness of consecrated life, in the variety of its charisms and apostolic commitments."

Addressing himself to those present, the Pope highlighted the fact that Christ called them "to model themselves ever more on Him, who for love was obedient, poor and chaste. Continue to dedicate yourselves with passion to announcing and promoting his kingdom, which is necessary today as it was in the past!"

John Paul II invited the religious to renew their faithfulness to God "with the same enthusiasm and generosity as when you first pronounced your vows. Every day repeat with joy and conviction your 'yes' to the God of Love. In the intimacy of the monastery or alongside the poor and the marginalized, among the young or within ecclesial structures, in various apostolic activities or in mission lands, God wants you to remain faithful to his love and dedicated to the good of your brothers. This is the precious contribution you can offer the Church so that the Gospel of hope may reach all the men and women of our time."

At the end of his homily, the Pope called them to imitate the Virgin who "unconditionally accepted the will of God". Mary "is the primary and most exalted model for all consecrated people. Let yourselves be guided by her. Trust in her assistance with humble confidence, especially in moments of trial."


VATICAN CITY, FEB 3, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father received in separate audiences:

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

- Cardinal Philippe Babarin, archbishop of Lyon, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishops Herve Giraud and Thierry Brac de la Perriere.

- Bishop Louis Dufaux, from Grenoble, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Michel Mouisse.

- Cardinal Christoph Sch"nborn, archbishop of Vienna, Austria, with a group of seminarians.
AL:AP/./. VIS 20040203 (70)


VATICAN CITY, FEB 3, 2004 (VIS) - The Vatican's web site has become the most-used medium for the diffusion of information from the Press Office on the activity of the Holy Father and the Holy See.

According to the data provided by the Holy See Internet Office, in 2003 there were almost 22 million hits to the Press Office's web site, with an average of 59,667 searches performed every day. The month with the greatest amount of traffic was March, with 3,598,183 requests answered and an average of 116,072 hits each day.

The hits and requests came from North and South America, Europe, and Asia, in this order: United States, Italy, Germany, United Kingdom, Canada, Spain, Brazil, France.

The words most often searched for were: Vatican, News, Information, Press service. The days with greatest activity are Thursday and Friday; the time with the greatest amount of traffic is between 7 and 9 p.m., Rome time.

In 2003, the Vatican Information Service reached the highest number of subscribers to date: 15,916. More than 54% of subscribers receive the service in English, while 28,34% receive it in Spanish, 8.46% in French and 8.54% in Italian.
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VATICAN CITY, FEB 3, 2004 (VIS) - On Thursday, February 5 at 11:30 a.m. in the Holy See Press Office, there will be a presentation of the World Day of the Sick which will be celebrated in the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes from February 9-11 on the theme: "The Immaculate Conception and Health Care in the Christian roots of Europe."

Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, Bishop Jose Luis Redrado, O.H., and Fr. Felice Ruffini, M.I., respectively president, secretary and undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for Health Care, will speak at the press conference. In addition, Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, metropolitan archbishop of Lyon and president of the French Episcopal Conference, and Bishop Jacques Perrier of Tarbes and Lourdes will intervene.
.../WORLD DAY SICK/LOZANO VIS 20040203 (130)
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