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Friday, March 26, 2004


VATICAN CITY, MAR 26, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Rev. Canon Kevin John Dunn of the clergy of the archdiocese of Birmingham, episcopal vicar for the religious of this archdiocese, as bishop of Hexham and Newcastle (area 7,700, population 2,515,442, Catholics 223,060,  priests 223, religious 230, permanent deacons 2), England. He succeeds Bishop Michael Ambrose Griffiths O.S.B., whose resignation was accepted by the Pope upon having reached the age limit. Bishop-elect Dunn was born in Stoke-on-Trent in 1950 and was ordained a priest in 1976.
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 26, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father received today in separate audiences:

- Three prelates of the Australian Catholic Bishops' Conference:

    - Bishop Peter William Ingham of Wollongong.

    - Bishop Christopher Henry Toohey of Wilcannia-Forbes.

    - Bishop Gerard Hanna of Wagga Wagga.

- Rev. Dr. William Chris Hobgood, general minister of the Disciples of Christ, with his wife, and Rev. Dr. Robert L. Welsh, president of the Council on Christian Unity, with his wife.

- Archbishop Raffaelo Funghini, president of the Court of Appeals of Vatican City, with family members.

- Archbishop Angelo Amato, secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 26, 2004 (VIS) - The Eighth International Youth Forum will take place at  the Centro Mondo Migliore (Center for a Better World) in Rocca di Papa near Rome from Wednesday, March 31 to Sunday, April 4. The Forum is organized by the Youth Section of the Pontifical Council for the Laity and each bishops' conference is asked to send two young delegates, as are other ecclesial movements, associations and Catholic groups involved in the university world.

  The theme this year is "Youth and University: Witnessing to Christ in the University World." Four days of work sessions, with guest speakers from every continent, will precede the participation of the young people in the Palm Sunday 19th World Youth Day celebrations in St. Peter's Square with Pope John Paul. The theme of this world day is "We Wish to See Jesus."

  On Thursday April 1, in their first encounter with the Pope, the estimated 300 Forum participants will join other young people from the diocese of Rome as they meet with the Holy Father in St. Peter's Square.

  Previous International Youth Forums were held in Buenos Aires (1987), Santiago di Compostela (1989), Czestochowa (1991), Denver (1993), Manila (1995), Paris (1997) and Rome (2000).
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 26, 2004 (VIS) - Archbishop John Foley, president of he Pontifical Council for Social Communications spoke today at noon at the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum at a meeting that studied Consecrated Life and the Culture of Communications and the Magisterium of the Church in the field of communications.

  In his talk, which focussed on a brief history of the Church in the field of communications, the archbishop listed six phases in this history: 1. the Bible, which "with Gutenberg, became the first book printed with movable type"; 2. printing, which made possible the multiplication of books; 3. the birth of periodicals, including religious ones,  among which is the Vatican's newspaper L'Osservatore Romano; 4. the advent of the cinema in the 1890s; 5. the founding of Vatican Radio and 6: the establishment of the Vatican Television Center in 1983 by Pope John Paul II.

  The Archbishop said "we should pay attention not only to the Holy Father's words about communications, but also to his example as a communicator. He is effective and credible because he is authentic."


VATICAN CITY, MAR 26, 2004 (VIS) - Cardinal Angelo Sodano, secretary of State, presided at a Mass this morning in St. Mary Major Basilica - of which the king of Spain is an honorary canon - for the victims of the attack on March 11 in Madrid. A number of cardinals, bishops and priests concelebrated with him. Among the faithful present were the ambassadors of Spain to Italy, to the Holy See and to the Sovereign Military order of Malta, as well as representatives of the diplomatic corps and members of the Italian government.

  In his homily Cardinal Sodano affirmed that "in the hour of pain, the Christian community felt the need to gather in prayer in this stupendous Roman basilica, to witness to their faith, to revive their own hope and to entrust into the merciful hands of the Father Who is in heaven, our brothers and sisters of Madrid, victims of the horrendous massacre that was perpetrated by murderous hands on March 11. Once again Cain has killed Abel! Once again man's hatred has brought death to innocent persons!"

  The cardinal secretary of State said that faith in the Resurrection "brings us here today to look at the power of Christ. ... He can move even the hearts of the most rebellious of men, can open the eyes of who is blind. For this, today we wish to invoke God Almighty and All Merciful to help us in this hour of trial, helping even the most hardened of hearts to understand what is the only path to follow for those who see themselves as sons of the Father Who is in heaven."

  After underscoring the general concern in the face of  "the inhuman and anti-Christian phenomenon of terrorism," the cardinal exhorted those presented to reflect on "the explosive mixture of hatred, which can close itself within the heart of man and can explode when one least thinks. Our duty will be, therefore, to continue to remind the men and women of our times of those great moral values that alone can give a secure foundation to human society. It will be our duty to remind everyone of the primacy of God in our lives, of that God Who created us and Who one day will judge us."

  Cardinal Sodano invited everyone to that hope "which makes us strong even in the harshest of trials during our earthly pilgrimage. The Providence of God always watches over us, in fact." And he added that "trust in God does not release us from our personal commitment to work to make those evils disappear which afflict our society."

  With the certainty that God is Almighty, "we will look serenely to the future, continuing to pray and to work for a better world. Certainly, there are in the world those who speak of violence and death. But with the Pope today we wish to cry out to the world: ' Love is stronger than death! Love will triumph!'"


VATICAN CITY, MAR 26, 2004 (VIS) - Bishops from Australia, in Rome for their "ad limina" visit, were welcomed by the Holy Father this morning.

  "The joy and hope of Christian discipleship mark the lives of countless Australian priests, Religious, and faithful men and women who together strive to respond to Christ's call," said the Pope. "Yet it is also true that the pernicious ideology of secularism has found fertile ground in Australia. At the root of this disturbing development is the attempt to promote a vision of humanity without God. ... Your own reports unequivocally describe some of the destructive consequences of this eclipse of the sense of God: the undermining of family life and a drift away from the Church."

  "In the face of such challenges," he stated, "Bishops must stand out as fearless prophets, witnesses and servants of the hope of Christ" and proclaim hope "which springs from the Cross, ... leading men and women from the shadows of moral confusion and ambiguous thinking into the radiance of Christ's truth and love."

  Turning to the Church's witness through worship, the Holy Father emphasized that "Sunday is the 'supreme day of faith', 'an indispensable day', 'the day of Christian hope!' Any weakening in the Sunday observance of Holy Mass weakens Christian discipleship. ... When Sunday loses its fundamental meaning and becomes subordinate to a secular concept of 'weekend' dominated by such things as entertainment and sport, people stay locked within a horizon so narrow that they can no longer see the heavens."
  "Intimately linked to the liturgy is the Church's mission to evangelize," he continued. "Sent by the Lord himself into the vineyard - the home, the workplace, schools, civic organizations - disciples of Christ find no room for 'standing idle in the marketplace', nor can they be so deeply immersed in the internal organization of parish life, that they are distracted from the command to evangelize others actively."

  John Paul II then remarked on "the 'communio' that exists between a Bishop and his priests," saying this demands "that the well-being of the presbyterate be close to every Bishop's heart. ...I encourage you always to listen to your priests, as a father would listen to a son." He added that "the contribution of consecrated men and women to the mission of the Church and the building up of civil society has been of immeasurable worth to your nation," yet noted that "this deep appreciation of consecrated life is rightly accompanied by your concern for the decline in Religious vocations in your country."
  He acknowledged the bishops' "steadfast efforts to uphold the uniqueness of marriage as a life-long covenant based on generous mutual giving and unconditional love. ... Incisive and faithful explanation of Christian doctrine regarding marriage and the family is of utmost importance in order to counter the secular, pragmatic and individualistic outlook which has gained ground in the area of legislation and even a certain acceptance in the realm of public opinion. Of particular concern is the growing trend to equate marriage with other forms of cohabitation. This obfuscates the very nature of marriage and violates its sacred purpose in God's plan for humanity. ... It is the Bishop's particular task to ensure that within civil society - including the media and entertainment industry sectors - the values of marriage and family life are supported and defended."
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