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Monday, June 7, 2004


VATICAN CITY, JUN 5, 2004 (VIS) -  The Holy Father:

- Accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Riohacha, Colombia, presented by Bishop Armando Larios Jimenez in accordance with Canon 401, para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law.

- Appointed Fr. Giovanni D'Alise of the diocese of Acerra, Italy and pastor of St. Alfonso di Cancello Scalo, as bishop of Ariano Irpino-Lacedonia (area 781, population 71,942, Catholics 71,329, priests 50, religious 82), Italy. The bishop-elect was born in 1948 in Naples, Italy and was ordained a priest in 1972.
RE:NER/.../LARIOS:D'ALISE                            VIS 20040607 (100)


MADE PUBLIC TODAY WAS A LETTER FROM THE HOLY FATHER to Bishop Heinz Josef Algermissen of Fulda, Germany on the occasion of the 1250th anniversary of the martyrdom of St. Boniface, "Apostle of Germany."  The feast day of the bishop and martyr is June 5.

ON THE OCCASION OF THE 34th General Assembly of the Organization of American States which takes place on June 6-8 in Quito, Ecuador, Cardinal Angelo Sodano sent a letter in the Holy Father's name to the assembly's president, Ambassador Patricio Zuquilanda, minister of Foreign Relations for Ecuador and the ministers of the American States and the Caribbean who are participating in the meeting. The cardinal secretary of State recalls the Pope's visit twenty five years ago to the OAS headquarters in Washington where, among other things, he affirmed "durable peace is not obtained by accumulating arms." The cardinal invites countries with more resources to finance development projects "that constitute the foundation for durable peace."
.../IN BRIEF/...                       VIS 20040607 (170)


VATICAN CITY, JUN 6, 2004 (VIS) - This morning John Paul II left the Viktoriaheim Residence for Allmend Square in Bern, located in front of the Ice Palace, where he met with young people yesterday afternoon.  At 10:30 a.m., the Pope presided at a Mass in which Swiss bishops, bishops from others parts of the world and other priests concelebrated.  Joseph Deiss, president of Switzerland, was also present.

  In his homily, the Holy Father said that the "celebration of the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity constitutes for Christians every year an energetic call to our commitment to unity. It is a call that concerns us all, pastors and faithful, and it drives us to a renewed awareness of our own responsibility in the Church, Christ's bride. How can we not talk about our concern for ecumenism in light of these words of Christ? I reaffirm also on this occasion the will to go forward on the path, full of joy, to the full communion of believers."

  "It is certain, however," he continued, "that a great contribution to the ecumenical cause comes from the commitment of Catholics to live unity amongst themselves. ... A local Church in which the spirituality of communion flourishes will know how to completely purify itself of all the 'toxins' of selfishness which create jealousy, distrust, desires for auto-affirmation, and deleterious conflicts."

  The Pope indicated that "evoking these risks requires spontaneous prayer to the Holy Spirit whom Jesus has promised to send us: 'When the Spirit of truth comes, it will guide you into all the truth.'  What is the truth? Jesus said one day: 'I am the way, the truth and the life.' Therefore, the proper way to phrase the question is not 'what is the truth,' but rather 'who is the truth?' This is the question that men of the third millennium ask themselves. ... We cannot suppress the response because we know what it is! The truth is Jesus Christ, ... and we are called to bear witness to this truth with the words and especially with our life."

  After emphasizing that the Church "is mission," John Paul II said that the moment had arrived "to prepare young generations of apostles who are not afraid to proclaim the Gospel. All baptized persons must move on from a faith of convenience to a mature faith which is expressed in clear personal choices that are decisive and courageous.  Only this kind of faith, celebrated and shared in the liturgy and in fraternal charity can nourish and strengthen the community of disciples of the Lord and build up a missionary Church free of false fears because it is sure of the Father's love."

  The Holy Father said that "we do not deserve God's love, but it is a gratuitous gift.  Despite our sins, God has called us and has redeemed us, through Christ's blood. His grace has profoundly cured us. ... How great is the Lord's love for me, for others and for every human being!" he exclaimed. "This is the true source of man's greatness, the root of his indestructible dignity. The image of God is reflected in all human beings. Here is the deepest 'truth' of man which must not be denied or violated in any case. Any outrage perpetrated against man is an outrage against His creator Who loves him with the love of a father."

  "Switzerland," he concluded, "has a great tradition of respect for man. It is a tradition which is behind the sign of the Cross: the red cross! Christians of this noble country, always be equal to your glorious past! Know how to recognize and to honor God's image in every human being!  In man, created by God, the glory of the Most Holy Trinity is reflected."

  Upon concluding the Mass and before praying the Angelus, the Pope entrusted the Swiss people to Our Lady. "May Mary watch over families, preserving their conjugal love and sustaining their mission as parents! May she comfort the elderly and help them to make a precious contribution to society! May she nourish in young people a sense of values and a commitment to live them! May she obtain for the national community the constant and harmonious will to build together a peaceful and prosperous country, with great attention and profound solidarity with those in difficulty."

   He continued: "I wanted to entrust the youth of Switzerland, for whom the Pope feels affection and gratitude, in a special way to Mary.  For five centuries, the young people of this country have assured the Successor of Peter and the Holy See the precious and esteemed service of the Pontifical Swiss Guard.  Everyone can admire the spirit of faith and love for the Church of many Swiss Catholics in the generous fidelity of the Swiss Guards."

  John Paul II concluded by asking Our Lady to help Switzerland "to maintain harmony and unity among the different liturgical and ethnic groups that compose it, valuing the contribution of each one."

  After eating lunch in the residence of the Sisters of Charity of the Holy Cross, the Pope bid the nuns, the elderly and the staff farewell. At 5:15 p.m., he participated in a brief gathering with 300 members of the Association of former Swiss Guards, accompanied by their family members in the square in front of the residence where he is staying.

  "The Successor of Peter," said the Pope, "has a special debt of recognition with the Catholic community of this country because of the Swiss Guards" who lend a "singular service" to the papacy. The Pope thanked the members of the association, which consists of 800 people, "for what you have done and what you continue to do and I encourage you to continue in your commitment as witnesses of Christ and of fidelity to the Church in an ever-changing world."

  Later, the Pope went to the military airport of Payerne where he said goodbye to President Deiss. After a flight of under two hours he arrived in Rome.


VATICAN CITY, JUN 5, 2004 (VIS) - Pope John Paul flew to Switzerland this morning, the third apostolic trip of his pontificate to this country, arriving at 11:30 a.m. at the military airport of Payerne, about 50 miles from the capital city of Bern, where he was welcomed by President Joseph Deiss of the Swiss Confederation. Numerous civil and religious authorities, including Archbishop Giacomo De Nicolo, apostolic nuncio and Bishop Grab of Chur, president of the Episcopal conference, were also present.

  President Deiss, in his welcome speech, announced that Switzerland, which broke off diplomatic ties with the Holy See in 1873 and only set up a lower-level mission in 1991, would normalize its relations with the Holy See and send a full ambassador-level representative to Rome. Hansrudolf Hoffman, who has special emissary duties and currently resides in Prague, will be the ambassador to the Holy See. The 2004 Pontifical Yearbook lists Hoffman, appointed in December 2001, as "ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary on special mission to the Holy See." Normally, in the list of ambassadors accredited to the Holy See, the words "special mission" do not appear after their title.

  The Holy See does have an apostolic nuncio in Switzerland, even though diplomatic ties have been an anomaly over the years. The first Church representative was sent to Lucerne in 1597 and was accredited for many centuries only to the Catholic cantons of Switzerland.

  The Pope, in his speech at the airport, called Switzerland "a crossroads of languages and cultures," noting that the Swiss "preserve old traditions and yet are open to modern ideas." He said that "the purpose of my trip is to meet young Swiss Catholics on the occasion of their national gathering. I will be with them tonight at the Bern Expo Center and it will be an evening of celebration for them and also for me."

  "It is the duty to proclaim the Gospel of Christ which leads me to travel the world, to propose it again to the men and women of the third millennium, especially the younger generations. Christ is the Redeemer of mankind! Whoever believes in Him and follows him becomes a builder of the civilization of love and peace." He asked the Swiss people to allow him to enter their hearts and homes in his thoughts, "proposing again the joyous Gospel proclamation of Christ the Savior, addressing to each of you His wish for peace!"

  Following the welcome ceremony, the Pope traveled in a special van to the Viktoriaheim Residence in Bern where lunch was served. This residence is home to the Sisters of Charity of the Holy Cross and houses about 75 religious and 80 elderly people.

  At 6 p.m. John Paul II, prior to leaving the residence for the meeting with young people, was greeted by the mayor of Bern and six city council members. The building at the Expo Center where the Pope and young people met is used for sports and normally houses 16,000 people but, with the papal altar, seated about 10,000 at tonight's event. For the young people this was the culmination of their day which began when they started arriving in the capital from around Switzerland at 11 in the morning.

  Bishop Amedee Grab welcomed the Holy Father and his speech was followed by a dance choreographed to Psalm 8, and a witness to their faith given by three young people who spoke in German, French and Italian. Following the Pope's talk to them, the young people sang "Levons-nous" (Let us arise), the hymn of the national encounter of Swiss Youth, recited the Our Father and then the Pope imparted a blessing.

  The Holy Father noted that the words "leve-toi" referred to words in the Gospel of Luke spoken by Jesus in Nain to a young man, an only child, who had died and whose bier was being accompanied by his mother. He said he was in Switzerland to say these same words to young people, to ask them to arise and follow Christ as His disciples.

  He told the young people they could be part of "that sad procession in Nain" if they "give in to desperation, are seduced by the mirages of consumer societies and distracted from true joy by enjoying passing pleasures, if you become wrapped up in indifference and superficiality, if, in the face of evil and suffering you doubt God's presence and His love for every person, if you seek in a disordered affection the answer to your inner thirst for true and pure love."

  "It is in such moments that Christ comes close to you  ... and says 'arise'. 'Welcome my invitation to get back up!'"

  "Christianity," added the Pope, "is not a simple book of culture or an ideology; nor is it a system of values or principles, even lofty ones. Christianity is a person, a presence, a face: Jesus, Who gives meaning and fullness to man's life."

 "Do not be afraid of  meeting Christ," he told his young listeners. "I too, like you, once was 20 years old. I loved sports, skiing, acting. I studied and I worked, I had desires and concerns. In those years, now in the distant past, in times when my native country was wounded by war and then by the totalitarian regime, I sought meaning for my life. I found it in following Christ!"

  "My second invitation to you is 'Listen!' Never tire of the difficult discipline of listening. Listen to the Lord's voice as He speaks to you in the events of everyday life, the joys and sufferings that accompany you, the persons near you, the voice of your conscience thirsty for the truth, for happiness, goodness and beauty." If you listen carefully, he said, you will be able to discern  your vocation, be it for family life or a call to the priesthood and religious life.

  He asked the young people, with their energies enthusiasm and ideals, "to make the Gospel permeate the fabric of society and produce a civilization of authentic justice and love without discrimination."

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