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Monday, November 29, 2004


THE POPE WROTE A MESSAGE TO PARTICIPANTS in the International Congress on consecrated life which took place on November 23-27 with the theme "Passion for Christ, passion for humanity."  The Holy Father writes that "in a society in which often love does not find space to be gratuitously expressed, consecrated men and women are called to bear witness to the logic of disinterested generosity. ... Ardor for Christ and for souls, the insatiable thirst for divine love and the desire to bring this love to all human beings must constantly nourish your commitment to personal conversion, sanctity and evangelization."

MADE PUBLIC TODAY WAS A LETTER FROM THE POPE to Cardinal Eugenio Araujo Sales, archbishop emeritus of Sao Sebastiao do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in which he appoints him as his special envoy to the celebrations of the centenary of the image "Nossa Senhora do Sameiro" and on the 150th anniversary of the definition of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception which will take place in Braga, Portugal on December 8.  The mission which will accompany the cardinal is composed of Msgrs. Eduardo de Melo Peixoto and Domingos Soutinho da Silva from the archdiocese of Braga, Msgrs. Manuel Moreira Vieira and Jose Roberto Rodrigues Devellard of the archdiocese of Sao Sebastiao do Rio de Janeiro and Msgr. Jean-Francois Lantheaume, secretary of the nunciature in Lisbon.

IN ANOTHER LETTER ADDRESSED TO CARDINAL JAN PIETER SCHOTTE, C.I.C.M., president of the Office of Labor of the Apostolic See, the Pope appoints him as special envoy to the closing celebrations of the year dedicated to the 150th anniversary of the definition of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception which will take place in Washington D.C. on December 8.  Accompanying the cardinal will be Msgr. Michael J. Bransfield, rector of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington D.C., and Fr. David M. O'Connell, C.M., of the Catholic University of America.
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DOHA, NOV 29, 2004 (VIS) - The Doha International Conference on the Family opened today in the capital of Qatar in the presence of 1,500 guests including Skeikha Moza Bint Nasser Al-Missned, wife of the emir of Qatar and foundress and president of Qatar's Supreme Council for Family Affairs which is sponsoring the conference.

  Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, accompanied by several members of the council, is representing the Holy See. He will address the assembly tomorrow on "The Complementarity of Men and Women: Building on the Strengths of Mothers and Fathers."

   Other guests include Richard Wilkins, director of the World Family Policy Center at Brigham Young University in Utah, which was asked to organize the two-day event,  Dr. Gary Becker, Nobel prize-winning economist from the University of Chicago, members of governmental and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), scholars, academicians and civil and religious leaders, including Pope Shenouda III of the Coptic Church in Egypt.

The Doha Conference, which is celebrating the 10th anniversary of the First International Year of the Family, intends to both examine the statement in Article 16, no. 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that "The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the state," and to review worldwide policies on the family. The conference hopes to show that focusing on the family is a sure guide to sustainable social health and the good of society.

  Regional conferences have preceded the Doha meeting: the World Congress of Families in Mexico City in March; International Family Day in Sweden in May, the European Family Dialogue in Geneva in August and the Pacific and Asian Family Dialogue in Kuala Lumpur last month. There was also a preparatory conference in the Philippines.

  Among the topics on the conference agenda: The Family in the Third Millennium vis-a-vis development, globalization and international policies to protect the family; Religious and Juridic Cases of the Third Millennium Family; The Family and Education, and The Family and the Culture of Dialogue, with a look at the role of the media and its influence on the family. Speakers will discuss the dignity and worth of human life, the benefits of marriage, motherhood and fatherhood, faith and modern families, the role of values on society, ageing and the family and government policy and the family.

   A communiqué on the conference stated that '' the meeting will conclude its events by adopting the Doha Declaration which will carry a message to the states of the world emphasizing the importance of restating the family and will call upon governments to be committed to promoting the role of the family and its protection as a fundamental unit of society.''


VATICAN CITY, NOV 29, 2004 (VIS) - Today the Holy Father received 3,000 members of the Pope John XXXIII Community, with its founder and head, Fr. Oreste Benzi, on the 30th anniversary of its foundation.

  After recalling that a few months ago the community was recognized as a private international association of faithful of pontifical law and that it is active in Italy and twenty other countries, the Pope said that since Fr. Oreste "opened the first family house, this community ... has been known for its unique service to the needy and for its style of authentic generosity with the objective of providing love and affection to those who have no family for different reasons."

  John Paul II said that charitable activity "assumes its full value when it is based on the primate of love of God.  In order to truly love our brothers and sisters it is necessary to love God.  Therefore, you dedicate your time opportunely to prayer, listening to the Word of God and you base your whole life on Christ."

  "Continue to care for your spiritual formation and tireless recourse to the sacraments.  In particular, make the Eucharist the center of your family houses and of all your social and educational activities.  In this Year dedicated to the Sacrament of the Altar, revive the contemplative ardor and love for the divine Redeemer who in the Eucharist becomes food of eternal life for us.  Get your spiritual energy from Him in order to be tireless workers of His Gospel, bearing witness to compassion for all those who live in conditions of discomfort or abandonment."
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VATICAN CITY, NOV 28, 2004 (VIS) - Today John Paul II spoke about the beginning of Advent and preparation for the Italian National Eucharistic Congress before praying the Angelus with pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square.

  "Today a new liturgical year begins during which we will contemplate with particular fervor the face of Christ present in the Eucharist.  Jesus, Incarnate Word, who died and rose from the dead, is the center of history. The Church adores Him and discovers in Him the ultimate and unifying meaning of all the mysteries of faith: the love of God that gives life."

  "Precisely in these days in Italy," he continued, "preparation has begun for the 24th National Eucharistic Congress that will take place in Bari, Italy from May 21-29, 2005. "Without Sunday, We Cannot Live" is the them of this important ecclesiastical meeting which, by providential coincidence, will highlight the Year of the Eucharist.  I invite the whole ecclesial community in Italy to carefully prepare itself for this spiritual appointment by rediscovering 'with new strength the meaning of Sunday: its 'mystery,' the value of its celebration, its significance for the Christian and human life."

  After praying the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted a group of members of the Italian Red Cross to whom he expressed his appreciation "for the initiatives they promote in so many situations of need" and he hoped for "the complete success of the humanitarian activity that they carry out in Italy and abroad."

  Lastly, John Paul II addressed Ukrainian pilgrims present in the square, assuring them of his prayer for peace in their country.
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VATICAN CITY, NOV 27, 2004 (VIS) - Joaquin Navarro-Valls, director of the Holy See Press Office, made the following declaration this morning:

  "On the occasion of the visit of the Ecumenical Patriarch, His Holiness Bartholomew I to His Holiness John Paul II on November 26 and 27, for the solemn return to the Patriarch of some of the relics of Sts. Gregory Nazianzus and John Chrysostom, theologians, bishops and doctors of the Church, kept and venerated over the centuries in the patriarchal Vatican Basilica, some media have reported that Pope John Paul II's gesture, of great ecclesiastic importance and expression of the 'comunicato in sacris' existing between Eastern and Western Christians, is a 'reparation' and a way for the Pope to ask for forgiveness on behalf of the Catholic Church for taking the relics from the ecumenical Patriarch during the crusades of the 8th century.

   "Such an interpretation is historically inaccurate since the mortal remains of St. Gregory Nazianzus reached Rome in the 8th century during the iconoclastic persecution in order to be saved. 

  "Without denying that the tragic events of the 8th century, the return - not restitution - to Constantinople of the relics of the two saints, venerated equally in the West and the East, important examples of the search for unity and peace of the Church of Christ, intends in the third millennium, going beyond the controversies and difficulties of the past, to propose once again such an edifying example and to give rise to a choral prayer of Catholics and Orthodox for their full communion." 
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VATICAN CITY, NOV 27, 2004 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican Basilica, John Paul II presided at an ecumenical celebration during which he returned some relics of Sts. Gregory Nazianzus and John Chrysostom, bishops of Constantinople and Doctors of the Church, to Bartholomew I, ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople.

  The Pope and the Patriarch entered the basilica together while the choir sang "Ubi caritas est vera." After greeting the assembly, the Holy Father spoke about the ecumenical significance of the celebration.

  During the Liturgy of the Word texts from the Bible and the two saint-doctors of the Church were read.  The universal prayer was begun by the Pope and concluded by the Patriarch. 

  Before handing over the relics, Archbishop Leonardo Sandri, substitute for General Affairs of the Secretariat of State, read a letter from the Holy Father to Patriarch Bartholomew in which he recalled their meeting in the basilica on June 29, solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul.

  The Pope writes that today, on the occasion of the return of the relics of Sts. Gregory Nazianzus and John Chrysostom, "The Lord...gives us the possibility to have here near the tomb of the apostle Peter another fraternal encounter of love, prayer and good will in order to walk together toward the full and visible unity that Christ wants for his disciples."

  The letter says that "in returning these holy relics we see a blessed opportunity to purify our wounded memories, to reinforce our path of reconciliation, to confirm the faith of the doctors of the Church and the faith of the Eastern and Western Churches.  We also see an auspicious moment to show with today's words and gestures the immense riches that our Churches conserve in their traditions."

  "This is a 'propitious moment,'" he exclaimed, " to pray that God will hasten the hour in which we will be able to live together, in the celebration of the holy Eucharist, full communion, and thus contribute in a more effective way to make the world believe that Jesus Christ is the Lord."

  "Beloved brother," concludes the Holy Father, "I will never cease to seek firmly and determinedly this communion among the disciples of Christ, as my desire, in response to the will of the Lord, consists in being servant of communion 'in truth and in love so that the ship - beautiful symbol chosen by the Ecumenical Council of the Churches as an emblem - may not be sunk by the storms and so that it may one day arrive in the port'."

  After the readings, the deacons approached the altar of confession and gave the relics to the Holy Father who kissed them and handed them to the Patriarch.  Bartholomew then thanked the pope.

  "This blessed gift," he said, "takes place due to a gesture of good will ... which deserves honor and thanks to His beloved Holiness.  You follow the example of St. Basil the Great who restored the relics of St. Dionysus, bishop of Milan, who died in exile."

  "A sacred act is celebrated today, which repairs an ecclesiastical anomaly and injustice. This fraternal gesture of the Church of ancient Rome confirms that insurmountable problems do not exist in the Church of Christ, when love, justice and peace meet in the sacred 'diaconia' of reconciliation and unity. ... Any act that heals old wounds and prevents new ones contributes to the creation of necessary proposals in order to continue the dialogue of truth in the love of our Churches."

  The relics of St. Gregory Nazianzus, who died in 390, arrived in Rome from Constantinople with a group of Byzantine nuns in the 8th century during the iconoclast persecutions of Emperors Emperor Leo III the Isaurian, and Constantine who denied the cult sacred images. Those who venerated these images were persecuted.  The relics were kept in the Roman Church of St. Mary in Campus Martius until Pope Gregory VIII asked the nuns to bring them to the Vatican Basilica in 1580 and they were placed in the altar of the Gregorian Chapel.  However, the pontiff wanted the nuns to preserve a relic from the saint's arm.

  The relics of St. John Chrysostom, who died in exile in 407, were moved to Constantinople on the orders of the Emperor Theodosius.  They remained there until the Latin empire of Constantinople, which lasted from 1204 to 1258, when they were transported to Rome.  In 1990, they were moved to the altar of the Chapel of the Choir in St. Peter's after its restoration.

  At the end of the ceremony, the Holy Father and the Patriarch blessed those present and processed to the Chapel of the Pieta, preceded by the deacons who were carrying the relics of the Doctors of the Church.


VATICAN CITY, NOV 29, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Fr. James Kazuo Koda, director of the pastoral care of the archdiocese of Tokyo, Japan, as auxiliary bishop of the same archdiocese (area 7,316, population 18,290,000, Catholics 89,300, priests 397, permanent deacons 1, religious 1,494).  The bishop-elect was born in 1955 and was ordained a priest in 1985.

  On Saturday November 27, it was made public that the Holy Father accepted the resignation from the office of Auxiliary of the diocese of Erfurt, Germany, presented by Bishop Hans-Reinhard Koch upon having reached the age limit.
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VATICAN CITY, NOV 29, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father received today in separate audiences:

- Three prelates from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (Region IX) on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop Robert William Muench of Baton Rouge.

    - Bishop Sam Gallip Jacobs of Houma-Thibodaux.

    - Bishop Charles Michael Jarrell of Lafayette.

- Archbishop Ambrose B. De Paoli, apostolic nuncio in Japan.

  On Saturday November 27, the Holy Father received in audience His Holiness Bartholomew I, ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople and an entourage.
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