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Friday, December 3, 2004


VATICAN CITY, DEC 3, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Bishop Francis Daw Tang, auxiliary of the diocese of Myitkyina, Myanmar as bishop of the same diocese (area 78,000, population 2,000,000, Catholics 92,676, priests 46, religious 123).
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 3, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience five prelates from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (Region V) on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop  James Terry Steib, S.V.D., of Memphis.

    - Bishop John Jeremiah McRaith of Owensboro.

- Archbishop Oscar Hugh Lipscomb of Mobile.

- Bishop Thomas John Rodi of Biloxi.

- Bishop David Edward Foley of Birmingham.

- Cardinal Paul Poupard, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture.
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 2, 2004 (VIS) - The 21st International Marian Mariological Congress will be held December 4-8 in the Pontifical Lateran University on the theme "Mary of Nazareth Welcomes the Son of God in History." Cardinal Paul Poupard, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, will preside at the congress on behalf of the Holy Father.

  The International Pontifical Marian Academy, which organized the conference, is made up of experts, including Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants, on mariology from all over the world.

  The congress will be inaugurated tomorrow at 10 a.m. in St. Mary Major Basilica with a liturgy presided by Cardinal Bernard Francis Law, archpriest. At 3:30 p.m. in the Lateran University, Bishop Rino Fisichella, the rector, and Cardinal Poupard will address participants in an opening ceremony.

  During the morning sessions, nine presentations are scheduled. Each afternoon, the participants, who are divided into 12 sections by language and geographic region (African, Asian, Croatian, French, English, Spanish, Italian, Latin American, Polish Portuguese, Slovenian and German), will listen to talks by various members of the National Mariological Societies.

  The congress will close on Wednesday December 8 in the Vatican Basilica with a Eucharistic Celebration presided over by John Paul II on the 150th anniversary of the proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception.


VATICAN CITY, DEC 3, 2004 (VIS) - Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, secretary for Relations with States, addressed a conference this morning at Rome's Gregorian University on the topic of "The Holy See and Contemporary Challenges to Religious Freedom." He spoke in the framework of a series of celebrations, organized by U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See, Jim Nicholson, on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the Holy See and the United States.

  Noting that the conference is "dedicated to the topic of religious freedom as the cornerstone of human dignity," he offered some considerations from the point of view of diplomatic activity of the Holy See, starting with "the contribution offered by the Holy See to ensure that this right is recognized by individual States and, above all, by the international community."

  The archbishop said that "considering the importance of religious freedom for the very life of the Church and her faithful, it is obvious that Vatican diplomacy must actively concern itself with this right. The diplomacy of the Holy See, in fact, does not determine its priorities based on economic or political interest, not does it have geopolitical ambitions; its 'strategic' priorities are, above all, to insure and to promote favorable conditions not only for the exercise of the proper mission of the Church as such, but also for the life of faith of believers."

  In further remarks, Archbishop Lajolo spoke of the Holy See's "concordat" diplomacy, that is, agreements with other countries with "a specific content" and "inspired by certain fundamental criteria" such as ensuring "freedom of cult, jurisdiction and of association of the Catholic Church" and opening "areas of cooperation between the Catholic Church and the civil authorities," especially regarding charitable activity and education. He said that at least 115 such concordats have been concluded since 1965.

  He also spoke of religious freedom in the Holy See diplomacy at the United Nations and in the framework of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). He closed with thoughts on contemporary challenges to religious freedom.

  Archbishop Lajolo concluded by emphasizing that "even in States in which the right to religious freedom is taken very seriously and in which the Church can say that she is reasonably satisfied, there is always something which does not adequately respond to her needs.  In one country, for example, the specific nature of some of her fundamental institutions is not recognized (for example, regarding her hierarchical structure); in another there is no due recognition of canonical marriage; in another the educational system does not sufficiently respect the right of parents and even less of the Church; in yet another the economic system does not take into account the properly social ends of the institutions of the Church.  In these countries, notwithstanding this or that particular limitation, the Church nevertheless can say that she enjoys almost always sufficient freedom, equal to that of other confessions."
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 3, 2004 (VIS) -The Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff announced today that on Wednesday, December 8, Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary and the 150th anniversary of the dogmatic
definition, the Holy Father will preside at 9:30 a.m. in the Vatican Basilica at a Eucharistic concelebration with other members of the College of Cardinals.
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 3, 2004 (VIS) - Two-hundred participants in a meeting promoted by the Italian Federation of Catholic Weeklies, representing about 150 diocesan newspapers, were welcomed today by the Holy Father who thanked them "for the service you render to building a civilization of love" which, "in the era of global communications is an ever-more difficult mission."

    "Italy, thank God, has a rich tradition of Catholic weeklies," said the Pope. "The contribution of Catholic journalists is all the more precious today, on the pastoral level as well as the cultural and social levels. Above all, they offer an information service on the life of the Church, together with supplements of documentation and a deeper look at ecclesial issues and their contents."

  These weeklies, he noted, permeate "families, parishes and cities with the Christian values that form great part of the spiritual patrimony of the Italian people. I am thinking in particular of the safeguarding of human life in its entirety; I am also thinking of marriage and the family, whose nature a poorly understood culture of 'personal rights' tends to distort; And lastly, I am thinking of the values of truth, justice and solidarity."

  John Paul II encouraged his guests in their work: "Pursue with commitment the announcement of the Gospel of truth and hope from the singular 'pulpits' that diocesan weeklies are, remaining always open to the broader perspectives of the universal Church." He urged them to nourish their spiritual life with prayer and the sacraments and "to enrich your ethical and cultural formation."
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