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Thursday, November 18, 2004


VATICAN CITY, NOV 18, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

- Cardinal Bernard Agre, archbishop of Abidjan, Ivory Coast.

- Archbishop Alfio Rapisarda, apostolic nuncio in Portugal.

- Rev. Canon John Peterson, secretary general of the Anglican Communion in London and director of the Anglican Communion Office.

- Kazys Lozoraistis, ambassador of Lithuania, on his farewell visit.
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VATICAN CITY, NOV 18, 2004 (VIS) - The 16th Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for the Family began this morning in the Vatican in the New Synod Hall on the theme "The Mission of Mature, Experienced Couples with Engaged and Young Married Couples." Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, council president, gave the opening address, followed by talks by the secretary and under-secretary.

  A communique released by the council notes that the theme was chosen "in order to promote a deeper study of the current situation of families, with special reference to the contribution that so many domestic hearths, who fully live the reality of marriage according to the Word of God and the teachings of the Church, can offer engaged and young married couples, to accompany them on the path of preparation for marriage and then in the first years of married and family life."

  Those working in the pastoral ministry for families, and members of families themselves who "have at heart a successful marriage," says the communique, can be close to newlyweds, "offering discreet, wise and valid help not only to their married children but also to their grandchildren. Grandparents, with their wisdom and affection, can be resources in the inevitable difficulties in the lives of young families. These mature couples, who are rich in human and Christian experience, are precious because they can witness with their own lives and apostolate to the beauty and happiness of family life, when lived according to God's plan."

  According to the program released by the council, some of the topics that will be discussed include: Tenderness in Marriage (young couples); The Couple's Stability, Problems Due to Lack of Understanding; Family and Procreation; Sex Education and Challenges for Young Families, Presentation of the Fifth World Meeting of Families, in Valencia, Spain 2006; Juridical Problems Regarding Life and the Family, and Panorama of Problems Regarding the Family and Life in the U.N. and International Policies.
  An audience with Pope John Paul II is scheduled for Saturday, November 20.
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VATICAN CTIY, NOV 18, 2004 (VIS) - This morning the Pope received religious leaders from Azerbaijan and, speaking Russian, told them their visit reminded him of "the trip that God allowed me to make" to their country in 2002.

  "Welcome, Jeque-Ul-Islam, head of the presidency of the Muslims of the Caucasus Region, which constantly makes an effort to build up peace in an area where, unfortunately, violent conflicts continue. Welcome, Bishop Aleksandr of Baku in the region of the Caspian Sea, part of the Russian Orthodox Church, to which I am united  through affection and esteem. Welcome to the head of the Jewish Community of the Mountain, an old community that offers an example of coexistence and fraternal collaboration in a context which is Islamic in majority."

  After speaking about the late president of the republic, Heydar Aliev and his son, Ilham Aliev, who succeeded him, John Paul II said: "I hope with all my heart that peace returns to Azerbaijan, and that the conflict in Nagorno-Karabaj is resolved soon. This challenge, as well as others, should be addressed with good will in the mutual search for reciprocal openness and understanding and with a true spirit of reconciliation."

  The Holy Father asked God to help the religious representatives "to build up peaceful coexistence, one that is ever more positive," between them and the Catholic community in the country. "To the Catholics in the country and dear Fr. Jan Capla (head of the 'missione sui iuris'), I send affectionate greetings, while I ask Our Lord to help him to continue the evangelical mission in the Caucasus region."

  "May this visit to Rome," he said, "be a symbol for the world: may it show that tolerance is possible and is a value of civilization which builds a foundation for more complete and united human, civil and social development. No one has the right to present or use religions as instruments of intolerance, as means of aggression, violence or death. On the contrary, the friendship and reciprocal esteem among different religions is a rich resource of authentic progress and peace, if also supported by leaders' commitment to tolerance."

  John Paul II concluded by saying, "Muslims, Jews and Christians, in the name of God and civilization, together we wish to appeal for an end to violence and for everyone to set out on the path of love and justice. This is the path of religions. May God help us to take up this path with perseverance and patience!"
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