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Wednesday, February 4, 2004


VATICAN CITY, FEB 4, 2004 (VIS) - On January 27-30, 2004 in Cairo, Egypt, the first meeting of the International Joint Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Coptic Orthodox Churches took place.

The meeting, hosted by His Holiness Shenouda III, Coptic Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria and the See of St. Mark, was presided by Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and His Eminence Metropolitan Amba Bishoy of Damiette, General Secretary of the Holy Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Church, as delegates from their respective Churches.

In their opening speeches, both Cardinal Kasper and Metropolitan Bishoy underscored the importance of the meeting which marks the beginning of new official theological dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches as a family.

In the first part of the meeting the many studies and activities carried out over the past thirty years were examined. Later, discussion was opened up on the following topics: unofficial consultations held between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches; official dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Coptic Orthodox Church; official dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church; the declarations made by the Catholic Church and any Orthodox Church. A paper was presented which was jointly sponsored by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Standing Conference of Oriental Orthodox Churches in the U.S.A. on various aspects of their dialogue. The topics and discussion have demonstrated that considerable work has been done which may be useful for the future dialogue of the commission.

The 'work plan' and agenda for dialogue comprised the second part of the meeting which was dedicated to the topic of the next meeting, "Church as communion," scheduled to take place on January 25-30, 2005. Cardinal Kasper extended an invitation to have the meeting in Rome.


VATICAN CITY, FEB 4, 2004 (VIS) - In this Wednesday's general audience, celebrated in the Paul VI Hall, the Pope spoke about Psalm 14, "Who is worthy to be before the Lord?"

The Holy Father affirmed that while meditating upon this Psalm "we can envision a throng of faithful who press against the doors of the temple of Zion in order to worship. . To cross the threshold that leads to the 'tent,' or temple, on the 'sacred mount' of Zion eleven qualities are necessary." . They "constitute an ideal synthesis of the basic moral duties present in biblical law."

As opposed to other religious cultures which require "an exterior ritual pureness that includes ablutions, gestures and special clothing" in order to be received by God, the psalmist emphasizes "the purification of the conscience so that ever decision is inspired in love of justice and one's neighbor" and invites us to "combine faith and love, prayer and existential commitment, adoration and social justice."

Referring to the eleven duties that "can be the basis of a personal examination of conscience every time we prepare to confess our sins and to be admitted in communion with the Lord in the liturgical celebration," John Paul II enumerated those that "express an ethical choice: to follow the path of moral integrity, the practice of justice and perfect sincerity in speaking."

In reference to our neighbor, he said, "there are three duties: to eliminate calumny in our language, to avoid any action that could hurt our brother, to do away with insults against those who are beside us on a daily basis. Then there is the need for a clear position in the social setting: to despise evil, honor those who fear God. Finally, the last three precepts are listed which should be part of our examination of conscience: to be faithful to our word upon swearing, even when there are negative consequences for us; not to practice usury, a scourge that even in our times is an infamous reality capable of strangling the life of many people, and lastly to avoid any type of corruption in public life, another duty which we should know how to practice with vigor in our time."

John Paul II emphasized that "to follow this way of authentic moral choices means being prepared to encounter the Lord. . Those who react in the way indicated by the psalmist - concludes our prayer - 'will never vacillate'."
AG/PSALM 14/. VIS 20040204 (420)


VATICAN CITY, FEB 4, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

- Accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Cahors, France presented by Bishop Maurice Gaidon upon having reached the age limit.

- Appointed Bishop Angel Francisco Simon Piorno of Cajamarca, Peru as bishop of Chimbote (area 23,500, population 655,000, Catholics 570,000, priests 47, religious 114), Peru. He accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese presented by Bishop Luis Armando Bambaren Gastelumendi, S.J. upon having reached the age limit.

- Appointed Bishop Ivo Baldi Gaburri of Huaraz, Peru as bishop prelate of Huari (area 23, 000, population 300,000, Catholics 294,000, priests 41, religious 30), Peru.

- Appointed Bishop Antonio Santarsiero, O.S.G., prelate of Huari, Peru, as bishop of Huacho (area 14,227, population 495,000, Catholics 412,000, priests 31, religious 54), Peru.

- Appointed Bishop Jose Eduardo Velasquez Tarazona, coadjutor bishop of Tacna and Moquegua and apostolic administrator of Huacho, Peru, as bishop of Huaraz (area 13,818, population 350,200, Catholics 300,100, priests 60, religious 62) Peru.
RE:NER/./. VIS 20040204 (180)
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