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Wednesday, September 8, 2004


VATICAN CITY, SEP 8, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed:

- Archbishop Francesco Canalini, apostolic nuncio in Australia, as apostolic nuncio in Switzerland and Liechtenstein. He succeeds Archbishop Pier Giacomo De Nicolo whose resignation was accepted upon having reached the age limit.

- Archbishop Mario Roberto Cassari, apostolic nuncio in Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso, as, apostolic nuncio in Niger.
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VATICAN CITY, SEP 8, 2004 (VIS) - Made public today was a Message from Pope John Paul to Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, asking him to greet the representatives of Churches, ecclesial communities and the great religions of the world who met in Milan from September 5 to 7 on the theme "Religions and Cultures: The Courage of a New Humanism." The Pope also saluted the organizers of this meeting, including Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi, archbishop of Milan and the community of Sant'Egidio.

  He writes of his "joy" in knowing that the 1986 encounter for peace of world religious leaders in Assisi "continues to grow in the number of participants" and that "the spirit of Assisi" lives on in meetings such as this one in Milan.

  The Pope recalls that in their 1993 meeting in Milan, religious leaders made an appeal to the world: "No hatred, no conflict, no war should find its incentive in religion. War cannot be motivated by religions. May words from religions always be words of peace!" He said that over the years many people have been inspired by this call, but added that "unfortunately new conflicts have arisen, in fact, there is a widespread mentality for which conflicts among religious worlds and civilizations are considered almost an inevitable outcome of history."

  "This is not the case! Peace is always possible!" But there must always be cooperation to uproot from cultures and lives the seeds of bitterness and misunderstanding, the will to prevail over one's neighbor, the arrogance of self interest and disdain for the other's identity. ... Conflict is never inevitable! And religions have a special duty to remind all men and women of this awareness. ... This is what I would call 'the spirit of Assisi'. Our world needs this spirit."

  "The world needs peace. Every day we hear news of violence, terrorist attacks, military operations. Is the world abandoning the hope of achieving peace?"

  John Paul II asks everyone "not to give in to the logic of violence, vendettas and hatred, but rather to persevere in dialogue. The mortal chain that imprisons and bloodies so much of the world must be broken. Believers of all religions can do much to put an end to this."

  "In a few days we will remember that terrible September 11, 2001 that brought death to the heart of the United States. Three years have passed since that day but unfortunately, terrorism seems to increase its threats of destruction. There is no doubt that this calls for firmness and decision in fighting the workers of death. At the same time everything possible must be done to uproot the causes of terror: especially misery, desperation and the emptiness in hearts."

  "Violence begets violence," the Pope concludes. "War must always be considered a defeat: a defeat of reason and of humanity. May men soon make a spiritual and cultural leap forward to outlaw war! Yes, never again war!"
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VATICAN CITY, SEP 8, 2004 (VIS) - In today's general audience, feast of the Nativity of Our Lady, the Pope invited everyone to look to the child Mary and to remember "the many children in Beslan, North Ossetia, victims of a barbaric siege who were tragically massacred." At the end, he prayed for justice, peace and solidarity in the world, as well as for the people held hostage in Iraq, particularly the two young Italian volunteers kidnapped yesterday.

  Before a crowd of 7,500 in the Paul VI Hall, the Holy Father recalled that the children in Beslan were at school, "a place where values are taught, which give meaning to the history, culture and civilizations of peoples: mutual respect, solidarity, justice and peace. Inside those walls, however, they experienced abuse, hatred and death, the evil consequences of a cruel fanaticism and a disordered contempt of the human person."

  He went on to say that "in these moments our thoughts go to the innocent children who are victims of the violence of adults all over the world. Children forced to take up arms and taught to hate and to kill; children constrained to beg on the streets, exploited in order to make easy money, children mistreated and humiliated by the power and abuses of adults; children left on their own, deprived of the warmth of family life and a perspective of the future; children who die of hunger, children killed in so many conflicts in various parts of the world."

  "It is a great cry of sorrow for childhood, offended in its dignity. This cannot, must not leave anyone indifferent. … At the cradle of the child Mary let us remember once again the duty we all have to support and defend these fragile creatures and to build a  peaceful future for all. Let us pray together," he concluded, "so that we may achieve the conditions for a serene and safe existence."

  At the end of the catechesis, those gathered prayed for the children in Beslan, for the parents and friends killed with them in the school,  "that God may embrace them in His mercy." They also prayed for all those held hostage in Iraq, in particular for the two young Italian volunteers, taken captive yesterday in Baghdad, "so that they are treated with respect and returned unharmed to their loved ones as soon as possible."

  The faithful present during the audience were also invited to pray for justice and peace in the world, "so that the Lord may illuminate the minds of those who are subject to the evil temptation of violence and that He may open the hearts of all people to dialogue and reconciliation in order to build a future of hope and peace."
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