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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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