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Monday, March 1, 2004


VATICAN CITY, FEB 28, 2004 (VIS) - This morning the Holy Father received the Letters of Credence of the new ambassador of the Republic of Argentina, Carlos Luis Custer, and recalled that this year marks the centenary "of the inauguration of the monument of Christ the Redeemer in the Andes, on the border with Chile."

"If then," he said, "it was an expression of confidence in divine help in order to resolve serious problems for the life of the country," now this solemnity "is again a great reason for hope, for it revives that joyful faith and anticipates the future commitment to continue to promote values that are inspired by the Gospel and that contribute decisively to building a more peaceful, unified and reconciled society which strives to improve the conditions of life of all citizens without exception."

John Paul II underscored that Argentina "is a unique witness to the fruits that the cordial relations and spirit of collaboration between the Church and nations have in different milieux." In some cases, he affirmed, such relations facilitate finding solutions "to critical questions that endanger the inestimable value of peace on the path of dialogue and understanding." In other cases, he said, good relations help to "minimize external factors which influence serious economic trends, while never ceasing to encourage those who suffer these consequences so that they may develop their great capacity to work and be creative in order to overcome them."

The Holy Father highlighted the Church's effort "to invite all men and women of good will to build a society based on fundamental values that cannot be compromised in order to achieve a national and international order worthy of man. One value is certainly that of human life" which must be "carefully guarded, immediately putting a stop to the many attempts to subtly degrade the primordial good of life, turning it into a mere instrument for other ends."

"Another pillar of society," he continued, "is marriage, the union between man and woman, open to life, which gives a place to the natural institution of the family." Laws, he added, "must scrupulously guarantee these rights of the family and help them with their duties when they are unable to fulfill them on their own." In this context, he recalled that the "lawmaker, and the Catholic lawmaker in particular, cannot contribute to formulating or approving laws contrary to the 'primary and essential norms that regulate moral life'."

"It is necessary to remember this," he concluded, "in a moment in which there is no lack of attempts to reduce marriage to a mere individual contract, in a moment of values which are very different from those that pertain to marriage and the family, and which end up degrading it as if it were a gratuitous association within a social body. Therefore, perhaps more than ever, public officials must protect and promote the family which is the fundamental nucleus of society in all its aspects, knowing that in this way they are promoting a stable and promising social justice." The Pope concluded by expressing his appreciation to Argentines "for their efforts in favor of marriage and the family during international meetings, and I invite you, at the same time, to continue doing so."


VATICAN CITY, FEB 28, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

- His Beatitude Cardinal Ignace Moussa I Daoud, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches.

- Archbishop Bruno Musaro, apostolic nuncio in Guatemala.

- Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregations for Bishops.
AP/./. VIS 20040301 (50)


VATICAN CITY, FEB 28, 2004 (VIS) - This afternoon the Holy Father celebrated Mass in the Paul VI Hall for the faithful of the Roman parishes of St. Anselm, St. Charles Borromeo, St. John the Baptist de la Salle and St. Mary, Star of Evangelization.

Commenting on the Gospel of the first Sunday in Lent which narrates Jesus' temptations in the desert, the Pope said: "we look at Christ who fasts and fights against the devil. . We too, like Christ, are called to a decisive and hard fight against the devil. Only in this way, with renewed adhesion to the will of God, can we stay faithful to our Christian vocation: to be heralds and witnesses of the Gospel."

After expressing his joy at being able "to continue the beautiful tradition of parish visits, although in a different way," he affirmed: "These encounters allow me to show the affection that unites me more intensely to you, dear faithful of the diocese of Rome. Never forget it: you are always close to my heart! You are the part of the Christian population entrusted to my pastoral care in a special way."

John Paul II asked the parishioners to "welcome families in a cordial and open way" and to include parents "in the preparation of children and young people in the sacraments and Christian life. Taking into account the schedule and demands of family life, organize gatherings of spirituality and formation. . Keep in mind that the first place for the Christian education of children is precisely in the family. Be close to families experiencing difficulty or in precarious situations, helping them to understand how to carry out the authentic design of God in marriage and the family."

"I know that at the moment you have temporary structures for liturgical life and pastoral service. I hope that as soon as possible you will be able to enjoy proper facilities. In the mean time, however, try to make your parishes authentic spiritual structures that rest on the corner stone which is Christ!"
HML/./ROMAN PARISHES VIS 20040301 (350)


VATICAN CITY, FEB 29, 2004 (VIS) - After praying the Angelus with the pilgrims assembled in St. Peter's Square this morning, Pope John Paul remarked on "the worrisome and painful news that is coming to us from Haiti. In the face of such a situation I feel the duty to invite all Haitians to have the courage and humility to make those decisions that are necessary for the good of the country.

"While I encourage the diplomatic work of the international community and I ask for a generous commitment on the part of humanitarian organizations, I send a special blessing for the beloved Haitian people."
ANG/HAITI/. VIS 20040301 (110)


VATICAN CITY, FEB 29, 2004 (VIS) - In reflections that traditionally precede the Sunday Angelus prayer with the faithful in St. Peter's Square, the Holy Father spoke of today's Gospel on the temptations of Jesus, of his Lenten Message centered on children and of the spiritual exercises that he and other members of the Roman Curia will start this evening.

The Pope said that in the Gospel of this first Sunday of Lent, Christ, "sustained by the Holy Spirit, withdrew to the desert where he remained for forty days. The Gospel account tells us of the three well-known temptations which are an echo of the old deception that Satan used to make our ancestors fall. But Christ, the new Adam, overcame them, rejecting decisively His tempter: 'It has been said; You shall not tempt the Lord your God'. Jesus' victory over evil assures us that we will not yield at the moment of trial if we remain united to the Spirit."

The Holy Father then spoke of his Message for Lent 2004 "in which I wished to recall, in a special way, children, who are often the innocent victims of man's evil deeds." Noting that children were special for Christ, he said: "May this time of the liturgical year be transformed into a generous match of solidarity towards these little ones, especially those in the most grave danger and difficulties."

"Dear brothers and sisters, "said the Pope in conclusion, "I ask you to pray for this intention. I also ask you to accompany me spiritually in the retreat that will start, as they do every year, this evening" in the Vatican.
ANG/./. VIS 20040301 (280)


VATICAN CITY, FEB 28, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

- Accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Lebanon-Honda, Colombia, presented by Bishop Rafael Arcadio Bernal Supelano, C.SS.R., in accordance with Canon 401, para. 2, of the Code of Canon Law.

- Accepted the resignation from the office of auxiliary presented by Bishop Riccardo Ruotolo of the archdiocese of Manfredonia-Vieste-San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy upon having reached the age limit.

- Appointed Fr. Pietro Coccia, director of the Institute of Religious Sciences in the diocese of Ascoli Piceno, Italy, as metropolitan archbishop of Pesaro (area 287, population 119,890, Catholics 117,200, priests 107, permanent deacons 8, religious 145), Italy. The bishop-elect was born in 1945 in Ascoli Piceno and was ordained a priest in 1972.

- Appointed Archbishop Michael Miller, secretary of the Congregation for Catholic Education, as consultant of the Congregation of Bishops.


VATICAN CITY, MAR 1, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father's general prayer intention for the month of March is: "That the land, culture and all the rights of the indigenous populations of the world may be respected, so that true harmony between them and those among whom they live may be attained."

His mission intention is: "That, in Africa, cooperation between missionary Institutes and local Churches may grow, with respect for the variety of gifts."


VATICAN CITY, MAR 1, 2004 (VIS) - Made public today was the Pope's Message for the 19th World Youth Day on the theme chosen by the Holy Father, "We want to see Jesus," the request of some Greeks to the Apostles in the Gospel of John.

In the Message dated February 22, Feast of the Chair of Peter, the Holy Father writes: "The desire to see God lives in the heart of every man and woman. Dear young people, let yourselves look into Jesus' eyes, so that the desire to see the light, to enjoy the splendor of Truth may grow in you."

"Do you, dear young people, want to contemplate the beauty of this face? This is the question that I ask you on this World Youth Day, 2004" which will be celebrated on April 4, Palm Sunday. "Do not answer in a hurry," he continues. "Before anything, think about it in silence. Let this ardent desire to see God, a desire sometimes suffocated by the noise of the world and the seductions of pleasure, emerge from the depths of your heart. Allow this desire to emerge and you will have the marvelous experience of encountering Jesus."

John Paul II reminds young people that "only encountering Jesus will give full meaning to your life. . Do not let yourselves be distracted in this search. Persevere in it because your full realization and happiness are at stake."

"If you learn how to discover Jesus in the Eucharist, you will know how to discover Him also in your brothers and sisters, especially in the poor. The Eucharist, received with love and adored with fervor, becomes a school of freedom and charity to carry out the commandment of love."

After recalling that at the end of the Holy Year of the Redemption in 1984 he presented young people with a large wooden cross that "has traveled to different countries since then in preparation for World Youth Days," the Pope affirmed that "this year, on the 20th anniversary of this event, the cross will be solemnly welcomed in Berlin, and from there it will make a pilgrimage all over Germany, reaching Cologne next year" where World Youth Day will be celebrated.

"Your peers expect you to be witnesses to the One Whom you have found and who gives you life. In the reality of daily life, become fearless witnesses to a love that is stronger than death. It is up to you to accept this challenge! Put your talents and your youthful ardor at the service of announcing the Good News. Be enthusiastic friends of Jesus who present the Lord to everyone who wants to see Him, especially to those who are far from Him. . You should feel responsible for evangelizing your friends and all your peers."
MESS/WORLD YOUTH DAY/. VIS 20040301 (480)
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