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Monday, November 15, 2004


VATICAN CITY, NOV 13, 2004 (VIS) - Pope John Paul today welcomed 50 members of the Christian Office of the Handicapped, founded in 1963 in France by Marie-Helene Mathieu and several families with handicapped members  Noting that their work is inspired by Christian values, he said, "you remind people that the person is not reduced to his aptitudes and place in economic life, but rather is a creature of God, loved by Him for himself, not for what he does."

   The Pope said he knows the sacrifices made by families with a handicapped member, but also the joys they experience "and the affection the (handicapped) have for those who care for them. Your action is both a service and a true mission for the promotion of the human person and the defense of their dignity. ... You accomplish in the heart of  the Church the remarkable service of charity, tenderness and compassion for the handicapped and their families." He told the group and their foundress that they are "one of the signs of the solidarity of the entire Christian community with regard to those wounded in their body and in their spirit."

  "Your presence," stated the Holy Father, "invites me to appeal once again in an urgent manner to all people of good will, especially government leaders and legislators, to have a elevated awareness and humanity so that all human life is protected, especially that of the weakest, the smallest and the poorest, and to stop all actions aimed at eliminating conceived and unborn children, who are defenseless, with man thus making himself the master of life."
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VATICAN CITY, NOV 13, 2004 (VIS) - Made public yesterday afternoon was a Message from the Pope to Cardinal Camillo Ruini, president of the Italian Episcopal Conference, and to the participants in the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Italian Association of Radio Listeners and Television Viewers.

  John Paul II writes in the Message dated November 10 that the purpose of this association, started by Catholic Action, is "to promote the dignity of the person, the family, schools and to safeguard the rights and cultural, spiritual and moral interests of citizens."

  "It is necessary," writes the Holy Father, "to help television viewers, especially families, to make mature use of the medium of television in order to know how to discern with balance and wisdom the transmissions that are in line with the Christian vision of the world and of man."

  The Pope says that "the legitimate needs of the worlds of communication and entertainment must be harmonized with the rights of individuals and families, without ever giving in to the illusions of those who want to confuse truth with opinion, and while avoiding exposing the most sacred and intimate aspects of family life to becoming spectacles and being banally vulgarized."

  After expressing his appreciation to the association for having created a system of codes to protect minors, the Pope concludes with the hope that "a constructive dialogue between families and the world of television can be cultivated, promoting serious ethical reflection which is so necessary to those who work in the field of social communication because they carry out a task that important formative aspects."
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VATICAN CITY, NOV 15, 2004 (VIS) - Today the Holy Father received in separate audiences:

- Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, major archbishop of Lviv of the Ukrainians, Ukraine.

- Archbishop Brendan Michael O'Brian of Saint John Newfoundland, Canada, president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, accompanied by Archbishop Andre Gaumond, of Sherbrooke  and by Msgr. Mario Paquete, respectively vice-president and secretary of the same conference.

- Bishop Cyryl Klimowicz of St. Joseph in Irkutsk, Russia.

- Stanislaw Wilk, new rector of the Catholic University in Lublin, Poland.
  On Saturday, November 13, he received in separate audiences:

- Dermot Ahern, minister of Foreign Affairs for Ireland, with his wife and an entourage.

- Archbishop Vsevolod of Skopelos of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine in the United States.
- Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.
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VATICAN CITY, NOV 15, 2004 (VIS) - This morning the Holy Father received participants in the general chapter of the Congregation of St. Elizabeth, along with the new superior general, Mother Samuela Werbinska.

  John Paul told the religious that their founders, Clara Wolf, Matilde and Maria Merkert and Francesca Werner, inspired by the example of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, patroness of the congregation, "were completely dedicated to the poor and needy, while contemplating the Redeemer's face. Since then, the mid-1800s, your institute has grown notably and today it looks to the future confidently, as you expand to different regions of the world."

  After recalling the general chapter's theme, "Duc in altum," the Pope said: "Your apostolate will be much more effective if you stay close to your charismatic roots. … While cultivating an intense prayer life and listening to God, it will be easier for you to ensure not only material help but also spiritual consolation to your brothers and sisters in need."

  In order "to respond with 'creative fidelity' to the challenges of modern society," he concluded, "we must start again from Christ and bear witness, in a simple and concrete way, to His merciful love for everyone, especially those on the margins of society, who are 'defeated' by life."    
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VATICAN CITY, NOV 15, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father this morning received the Letters of Credence of Albert Edward Ismail Yelda, the ambassador from the Republic of Iraq to the Holy See: He told him he had been following events in Iraq through the presence of the apostolic nuncio and he asked the ambassador to assure the Iraqi people "of my ongoing concern for the many victims of terrorism and violence."

   "Your ancient culture has been described as the 'cradle of civilization' and has boasted the presence of Christians since the beginning of Christianity itself," said the Pope in English. "Indeed, it has been a fine example of the many ways in which the adherents of different religions can live in peace and harmony."
  He told the ambassador - who speaks Arabic, English, Assyrian, Aramaic and Hebrew - that essential to protecting the dignity of every human person, to which the diplomat had referred in his address, "is the rule of law as an integral element of government. Preserving this fundamental principle is basic for any modern society that truly seeks to safeguard and promote the common good. … It is my hope that the Iraqi people will continue to promote their long tradition of tolerance, always recognizing the right to freedom of worship and religious instruction. Once these fundamental rights are protected by ordinary legislation and become an enduring part of the living fabric of society, they will enable all citizens, regardless of religious belief or affiliation, to make their proper contribution to the building up of Iraq."

  John Paul II assured the ambassador that "the entire Catholic Church, and in a special way the Chaldean Christians present in your country since the time of the Apostles, is committed to assisting your people in constructing a more peaceful and stable nation." 

  "Iraq is currently in the throes of the difficult process of transition from a totalitarian regime to the formation of a democratic State in which the dignity of each person is respected and all citizens enjoy equal rights," noted the Pope. "As you prepare your people to undertake the task of freely electing the men and women who will lead the Iraq of tomorrow, I encourage the current government in its efforts to make certain that these elections are fair and transparent giving all eligible citizens an equal opportunity in this democratic right which they are encouraged to exercise."

  The Holy Father, noting "the struggle to overcome the challenges brought about by poverty, unemployment and violence currently faced by Iraq, said: "May your government work untiringly to settle disputes and conflicts through dialogue and negotiation, having recourse to military force only as a last resort." 

  "Accordingly," he concluded, "it is essential that the State, with the assistance of the international community, promote mutual understanding and tolerance among its various ethnic and religious groups" to "create an environment … committed to justice and peace" and "capable of sustaining the necessary economic growth and development integral for the well-being of your citizens and the country itself."

  Diplomatic relations were established between the Holy See and Iraq on August 27, 1966. The apostolic nunziature was opened on October 14 that same year.
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VATICAN CITY, NOV 14, 2004 (VIS) - Thanksgiving was the focus of reflections made today by Pope John Paul prior to praying the Angelus with the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square below his study window.

  He noted that Italy "is celebrating a Day of Thanksgiving to God for the fruits of the earth harvested during the year. The principal celebration is taking place in Genoa which was chosen this year as 'the European capital of culture'. I gladly join the prayers of the Genoa ecclesial community and of all who work in various ways in the agricultural sector."

  "For us Christians," said the Holy Father, "thanksgiving is fully expressed in the Eucharist. In every holy Mass, we bless the Lord, God of the universe, presenting Him with bread and wine, 'fruits of the earth and the work of human hands'. To these simple foods Christ bound His sacrificial oblation. United to Him, believers also are called to offer God their lives and their daily work."

  The Pope closed by asking "Mary, Mother of Divine Providence, to teach us to be grateful to the Lord for all that nature and human labor produce for our sustenance, to make us ready to share our resources with those in need."
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VATICAN CITY, NOV 13, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

- Appointed Msgr. Francesco Marino, of the clergy of the diocese of Aversa, diocesan assistant of Italian Catholic Action and pastor and vicar of St. Michael the Archangel in Trentola Ducenta, as bishop of Avellino (area 394, population 145,000, Catholics 143,500, priests 99, permanent deacons 10, religious 200), Italy. The bishop-elect was born in Cesa, Italy in 1955 and was ordained a priest in 1979.  He succeeds Bishop Antonio Forte, whose resignation to the pastoral care of this diocese was accepted upon having reached the age limit.

- Accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Orlando, presented by Bishop Norbert M. Dorsey, upon having reached the age limit. Coadjutor Bishop Thomas G. Wenski succeeds him.

- Appointed Cardinals Paul Poupard, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, Camillo Ruini, vicar general of His Holiness for the diocese of Rome, Angelo Scola, patriarch of Venice, and Julian Herranz, president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, as members of the Committee of the Presidency of the Pontifical Council for Laity.

- Appointed Archbishops Gaudencio B. Rosales of Manila, the Philippines and Diarmuid Martin of Dublin, Ireland, as members of the Pontifical Council of the Social Communications.
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VATICAN CITY, NOV 13, 2004 (VIS) - This afternoon in the Vatican Basilica,  the Pope presided at a celebration of Vespers on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the promulgation of the Vatican Council II decree "Unitatis redintegratio." Among those who participated were cardinals, bishops, and delegates from other Churches and ecclesial communities, as well as faithful from the diocese of Rome.

  After emphasizing that putting the decree into practice "has been, from the beginning, one of the priorities" of his pontificate, and that ecumenical unity "corresponds to the will of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Who wanted one Church," John Paul II underscored that "all are called to pray and work for the unity of the disciples of Christ."

  "In our day," he said, "we are witnesses to a growth in an erroneous humanism devoid of God and we see with great sorrow the many conflicts that afflict the world.  In this situation, the Church is called even more to be a sign and an instrument of unity and reconciliation with God and among men."

  The Holy Father stated that "our age longs for peace. The Church, a credible sign and instrument of Christ's peace, must be committed to overcome the divisions among Christians and must be ever-more a witness of the peace that Christ offers the world."

  After highlighting the steps that have been made toward Christian unity in the past 40 years, the Pope affirmed that "with God's help, many differences and misunderstandings have been overcome, but there are still many obstacles along the path. Sometimes prejudices and misunderstandings continue to exist, as well as deplorable slowness and closed-heartedness, and above all, differences in faith which mostly have to do with the Church, its nature and its ministers." In addition, he continued, "there are new divisions forming in the field of ethics."

  The Pope said that despite the fact that the path "is still long and tedious," we must not lose hope. "Doing what is possible starting right now makes us grow in unity and gives us the enthusiasm to overcome difficulties.  … The unity of one Church, which already exists in the Catholic Church and which can never be lost, guarantees us that one day the unity of all Christians will become a reality."

  "There is no true ecumenism," he concluded, "without interior conversion and purification of memory, without holiness of life in accordance with the Gospel, and especially without intense and assiduous prayer that echoes Jesus' prayer that all may be one."
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VATICAN CITY, NOV 13, 2004 (VIS) - In a Chirograph dated September 16, 2004 and published today, Pope John Paul II wrote to Archbishop Youhanna Fouad El-Hage, president of Caritas Internationalis and, "confirming the ecclesial role undertaken by this worthy Confederation and welcoming the explicit request made in this regard," bestowed on Caritas the status of canonical public juridic person, according to Canons 116-123 of the Code of Canon Law:

  He also confirmed its "Statutes and Regulation, which must be interpreted in the light of what has been set forth in this Chirograph. Every change in them must be confirmed by me, as must the eventual transfer of the main office, which currently is in Rome." He added that a list of candidates to the offices of president and secretary general must be submitted for approval by the Pope, before being voted on by the General Assembly. The Holy See will name the ecclesiastical assistant.

  "I entrust to the Pontifical Council 'Cor Unum' the duty of following and accompanying the activity of Caritas Internationalis, both in the international sphere as well as in the regional groups. The council will be duly informed of initiatives by the Confederation at different levels and will participate by right in meetings. ... Caritas Internationalis will submit to the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, before their publication, the texts that it wishes to set forth ."

  "In addition," states the Holy Father, "Caritas Internationalis, due to its activity at the international level, above all  to international organizations and in those areas of special difficulties in the world, will refer to the Secretariat of State."

  Caritas Internationalis describes itself as "a confederation of 162 Catholic relief, development and social services organizations working to build a better world, especially for the poor and oppressed, in over 200 countries and territories." The inspiration for its founding as a confederation goes back to 1950 and Pope Pius XII. In 1957 the confederation changed its name to Caritas Internationalis.


VATICAN CITY, NOV 13, 2004 (VIS) - Today John Paul II received participants in the Symposium of Bishops from Africa and Europe promoted by the Council of Episcopal Conferences of Europe (CCEE) and the Symposium of the Episcopal Conference of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM). The theme of the meeting, which began November 10 and ends today, is "Communion and Solidarity between Europe and Africa."

 "I am glad," he said, "that you have considered your desire to explore the bonds of sacramental fraternity which inspire your pastoral commitment to the service of God and your brothers and sisters." He added that the pastors in Europe and Africa are called to bear witness to fraternal love "in order to face the great challenges that question the Christian faith in our globalized society." 

  "Your symposium has facilitated encounter and dialogue between the culture and mentality of Europe and that of Africa," he said: "We must value the different cultural traditions in a complementary way in order to allow the various ecclesial communities to address together existential topics like the conception of man or society, and working environments of pastoral care, like evangelization and ecumenical and inter-religious relations."

  The Holy Father underscored that in order to carry out "urgent missionary activity we must cultivate in the first place our prayer life and personal contact with Christ." He then recalled that during the days of the meeting, participants had asked for prayers from their respective ecclesial communities. "I join them in prayer," he assured them, "invoking upon you the protection of Our Lady, Star of Evangelization, as well as the special intercession of St. Augustine of Hippo, whose figure is a bridge between Africa and Europe. Today is the 1650th anniversary of his birth and during these days his relics are in Rome."

  "Considering the wishes of the post-synodal council which express the desires of the African pastors, I take advantage of this occasion to announce that I have the intention of calling a second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops.  I entrust this project to your prayer," he concluded, "as I invite all to ask Our Lord for the great gift of community and of peace for the beloved land of Africa."
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