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Monday, January 31, 2005


VATICAN CITY, JAN 31, 2005 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Msgr. Giovanni Francesco Brugnaro, bureau chief at the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, as Holy See permanent observer to the World Tourism Organization. He succeeds Msgr. Piero Monni, whose resignation from the same office was accepted by the Holy Father.

  On Saturday, January 29, it was made public that the Holy Father appointed as consultors to the Congregation for Catholic Education: Bishops Allen Henry Vigneron of Oakland, U.S.A.; Stanislaw Wojciech Wielgus, of Plock, Poland; Jean Louis Brugues of Angers, France; Diego Coletti of Livorno, Italy; Rainer Woelki, auxiliary of Cologne, Germany, and Fabio Duque Jaramillo of Armenia, Colombia; Frs. Carlo Bresciani, professor at the diocesan seminary of Brescia, Italy, and Lawrence B. Terrien, P.S.S., superior general of the Suplician Fathers, France; Msgr. Krzysztof Pawlina, rector of the major seminary of Warsaw, Poland; Fr. Francisco Mateos Gil, L.C., professor at the "Regina Apostolorum" Pontifical University, Rome; Sister Lydia M. Allen, R.S.M., expert in psychology from Mainz, Germany; Frs. Hubertus Blaumeiser, professor at the faculty of theology of the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome; Bernhard Korner, professor at the faculty of theology in Graz, Austria, and Javier Canosa Rodríguez, professor in the faculty of canon law at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, Rome; Msgr. Guy Real Thivierge, secretary general of the F.I.U.C., France; Fr. James Conn, S.J., professor in the faculty of canon law at the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome; Msgr. Alfredo Horacio Zecca, rector of the Pontifical Catholic University of Buenos Aires, Argentina; Frs. David M. O'Connell, C.M., president of the Catholic University of America, Washington, U.S.A.; Franco Imoda, S.J., rector emeritus of the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, and Antonio Maria Perrone, Sch.P., president of the F.I.D.A.E., Rome; Sister Ausilia Chang Hiang Chu, F.M.A., head of the "Auxilium" Pontifical Faculty for the Educational Sciences, Rome. Frs. Kevin Doran, national coordinator for diocesan vocations of the Irish Episcopal Conference, Dublin, Ireland, Antonio Fiorenza, R.C.I., vicar general of the Rogationist Fathers, Rome, and Jesus Arriero Pulido, of the Brotherhood of Worker Priests, Rome; Msgr. Paolo Selvadagi, rector of the Minor Pontifical Seminary, Rome; Fr. Ludovico Caputo, S.D.V., superior general of the Vocationist Fathers; Sister Maria De Luca, director of the young people's educational magazine "Se Vuoi," Italy; Manuel António Garcia Braga Da Cruz, rector of the Portuguese Catholic University, Lisbon, Portugal, and Etienne Verhack, secretary general of the C.E.E.C., Brussels, Belgium.
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 31, 2005 (VIS) - This morning the Holy Father was presented with the "Annuario Pontificio" or Pontifical Yearbook for 2005.

  A note published today highlights some of the updated information included in the new edition. In 2004, the Pope erected ten new episcopal sees and one apostolic vicariate. Six metropolitan sees were created, and a total of 171 bishops appointed.

  The number of baptized faithful rose from 1,071 million in 2002, to 1,086 million in 2003. As for the geographical distribution of Catholics, the note highlights the fact that 49.8 percent of them live in the Americas, 25.8 percent in Europe, 13.2 percent in Africa, 10.4 percent in Asia and 0.8 percent in Oceania.

  According to the communique, there are 405,450 priests (268,041 diocesan and 137,409 religious), and the total number of priests in 2003 increased with respect to the year before. The number of priestly ordinations also went up from 9,247 in 2002 to 9,317 in 2003. However, the number of seminarians in philosophical and theological seminaries fell from 112,643 in 2002 to 112,373 in 2003. The numbers of seminarians divided by continent are as follows: the Americas 37,191, Asia 27,931, Europe 24,387, Africa 21,909, and Oceania 955.
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 31, 2005 (VIS) - Holy See Press Office Director Joaquin Navarro-Valls stated this morning that "the Holy Father, due to flu-like symptoms which began yesterday, has been advised to suspend the audiences scheduled for today. However, the 2005 Pontifical Yearbook was presented to him."
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 30, 2005 (VIS) - Prior to praying the Angelus, the Pope greeted numerous children and young people from Italian Catholic Action present in St Peter's Square, who are concluding their "month of peace."

  John Paul II recalled how, "in today's Gospel, Jesus says 'blessed are the peacemakers.' Even the young can be peacemakers! They too must be educated in dialogue and learn to 'overcome evil with good,' as I reminded everyone in the recent Message for the World Day of Peace. Injustice must be overcome with justice, lies with truth, vengeance with forgiveness, hatred with love."

  The Pope continued: "This lifestyle cannot be improvised, but calls for education from infancy. An education made up of wise teachings and, above all, of appropriate family models, in school and in all areas of society. Parishes, oratories, associations, movements and ecclesial groups must become ever more privileged places for this education of peace and love, places to learn and grow together."

  The Holy Father called on "Mary, Queen of Peace, to help the young, who desire peace so much, to become its courageous and tenacious constructors."

  After praying the Angelus, the Pope recalled that today is the World Day of Leprosy. "In the poorest areas of the world this illness, though curable, continues to strike millions of people, including many children. I send special greetings to all these brothers and sisters, which I also extend to all those who, in various ways, assist them.  I hope that the commitment of the international community will manage to eliminate this social scourge completely."

  Prior to concluding, the Pope listened to a message of peace read by a boy and a girl from Catholic Action. The children then released two white doves in a symbol of peace. One of the doves flew back into the Holy Father's study and the Pope himself sought to make it leave, but it came back in. In the end, one of the Holy Father's assistants managed to make it fly away.
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 29, 2005 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Msgr. Antoni Stankiewicz, dean of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota, and the College of  Prelate Auditors of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota.

 - Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 29, 2005 (VIS) - This morning, Holy See Press Office Director Joaquin Navarro-Valls made the following declaration:

  "As anticipated, the mixed commission for the examination of norms in cases of accusations of sexual abuse against minors will meet in the Vatican on January 31 and February 1.

  "The commission is made up of delegates from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and representatives from dicasteries of the Roman Curia.

  "The aim of the commission is to study the application of norms, approved on December 8, 2002, 'ad experimentum' for two years, and to evaluate guidelines for the future in the context of the universal law of the Church."


VATICAN CITY, JAN 29, 2005 (VIS) - Published today was a Message, dated January 22, from the Holy Father to Archbishop Paul Josef Cordes, president of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum," and the Pope's envoy to Southeast Asia, asking him "to convey the assurance of my concern and my closeness in prayer to all affected by the (tsunami) tragedy and its aftermath." The archbishop is visiting Indonesia from January 29 to February 1 and will be in Sri Lanka from February 2 to 4.

  In his Message, John Paul II noted that "the enormous devastation and loss of life associated with the recent earthquake and tidal wave in Southeast Asia has been followed by a remarkable outpouring of sympathy throughout the world, together with a massive mobilization of humanitarian aid.  I am deeply grateful for the efforts of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum and numerous international Catholic charitable agencies to contribute to the relief of the peoples struck by this immense natural disaster."
  "I pray," he wrote, "that the solidarity shown by our brothers and sisters throughout the world will prove a source of encouragement, perseverance and hope to everyone in the great work of rebuilding that lies ahead. I likewise urge the followers of the different religions to work together in offering comfort and assistance to those in need.  May this catastrophe lead, by God's grace, to a future of greater generosity, cooperation and unity in the service of the common good on the part of individuals, peoples and nations."
  "I hope," he closed, "the Christian community will be led to a deepened trust in God's mysterious providence and an ever closer union to the Lord Jesus in the mystery of His suffering and resurrection. Upon the civil authorities and all engaged in the relief efforts I invoke the divine gifts of wisdom and strength."

  A communique from Cor Unum notes that the aim of the trip to Asia by Archbishop Cordes, who will bring the Pope's Message to the devastated populations, "is to witness in person to the closeness and solidarity of the Pope and the Church to all those suffering from the tsunami and, at the same time, to contribute to coordinating the multiple initiatives of Catholic agencies working in the territory since that dramatic December 26."

  The archbishop, who is accompanied by council under-secretary, Msgr. Giovanni Dal Toso, will also meet with religious and civil authorities, as well as with Caritas and the Catholic NGOs (non-governmental organizations) present in these countries. He will celebrate several Masses for the repose of the souls of the deceased victims.


VATICAN CITY, JAN 29, 2005 (VIS) - The Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry has just published the Message of its president, Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, for the celebration tomorrow, January 30, of the 52nd World Day of Leprosy.

  The Message begins with the Apostle Paul's exhortation, in a Letter to the Church in Rome, "to cry with those who are crying," because "if one member suffers, then all members suffer together." The cardinal notes that while we can celebrate man's dominion over leprosy, or Hansen's disease, "it is still lethal in at least nine countries." Often worse than the disease itself, he writes, is the shame and "absurd discrimination" suffered by lepers. There will be no victory over leprosy until "the concept of the indelible 'mark of infamy' is eliminated."

  Cardinal Lozano underscores the Holy Father's remarks on January 21 to members of the council as they celebrated their plenary that Church leaders must pay special attention "to those (health) structures where the patient suffers forms of marginalization and a lack of social support," especially "in those parts of the world where the ill, notwithstanding medical progress, lack medicines and adequate assistance."

  Noting that "there is no lack of medicines," and that there are various world organisms that specialize in treating leprosy, the council president emphasizes, however, the need for more adequate health structures and competent, well-trained personnel. Quoting statistics from national episcopal conferences for the year 2003, he pointed out that, worldwide, the Church runs 656 leprosariums (Africa 254, Americas 69, Asia 327, Europe 4, Oceania 2).

  Referring to the Year of the Eucharist, Cardinal Lozano quotes Pope John Paul's "Mane nobiscum Domine": "The Eucharist is not only an expression of communion in the life of the Church; it is also a project of solidarity for all of mankind."

  He had special thanks for those "missionaries who care for these brothers of ours, fulfilling the specific pastoral ministry of 'the Gospel of Hope'. They are living and teaching the entire world that taking care of a body so afflicted is fraternal sharing and at the same time a communication of faith in Christ Who died and arose. A 'sign' of hope and the total victory of life."

  "In the mystery of the 'Mystical Body of the Church'," says the Message, "in union with the suffering Christ, the leper will feel at the center of the project of cooperation in the salvation of mankind,"  especially with the help of those missionaries who care for them.
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 29, 2005 (VIS) - Made public today was a Letter from Pope John Paul, written in Latin and dated January 11, 2005, to Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry, who is the Pope's special envoy to the celebrations of the 13th World Day of the Sick which will take place in Yaounde, Cameroon, February 9-11. The cardinal's nomination as envoy was published on December 23, 2004.

  Also made public today were the names of the members of the pontifical mission who will accompany Cardinal Lozano: Fathers Theodore Toko, adjunct secretary general of the National Episcopal Conference of Cameroon and Paul-Marie Philemon Mbida, head of the Health Care Ministry for the archdiocese of Yaounde.


VATICAN CITY, JAN 29, 2005 (VIS) - As is traditional in late January, the Pope today received the dean, prelate auditors, officials, and lawyers of the tribunal of the Roman Rota, for the inauguration of the judicial year.

  The Holy Father's reflections this year concerned the moral dimension of the activity of judges in ecclesiastical tribunals, "especially regarding their duty to abide by the truth about marriage, as it is taught by the Church."

  "Individual and collective interests," said the Pope, "can, indeed, induce the parties to resort to various kinds of falsehood and even corruption with the aim of obtaining a favorable sentence. There is no immunity from this risk, even for canonical hearings which seek the truth concerning the existence or non-existence of matrimony."

  John Paul II highlighted the fact that, "in the name of supposed pastoral requirements, some voices have been raised to propose declaring the annulment of unions that have failed completely. To obtain this outcome, it has been suggested using expedients to maintain outward procedural appearances, and hide the absence of a true judicial process. In this way, there is a temptation to impose and find proof for a decree of annulment in contrast with the most elementary principles of the Church's norms and Magisterium."

  The Holy Father went on: "The objective juridical and moral danger of such behavior is clear, and it certainly does not constitute a pastorally valid solution to the problems raised by matrimonial crises."

  The Pope recalled how in various addresses to the Roman Rota he had referred to the "essential relationship that its proceedings have with the search for objective truth. Responsibility for this falls, in the first place, on bishops, who by divine law are the judges of their communities." Bishops must also "consider the suitability of members of the tribunals ... and assess whether the sentences are in conformity with right doctrine."

  The Pope stressed that a judge must be "convinced that the truth exists," he must "resist fear of the truth," and not allow himself to be "conditioned by feelings of false compassion, or by false trends of thought, though they be widespread. He knows that unjust sentences never constitute a true pastoral solution, and that the judgment of God on his own actions is what counts over eternity."

  John Paul II pointed out that a judge must "keep to canonical laws, correctly interpreted," without "separating the laws of the Church from magisterial teachings, as if they belonged to two different spheres of which the first is the only one to have juridically binding force, while the second is merely for guidance and encouragement. Such an approach reveals a positivist mentality."

  "One important moment in the search for truth is that of the preliminary investigation and hearing." On this subject, the Pope added that, although prompt judicial proceedings are "a person's right, nonetheless a false rapidity, at the expense of truth, is even more seriously unjust."
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Friday, January 28, 2005


VATICAN CITY, JAN 28, 2005 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed:

 - Msgr. Michael Owen Jackels of the clergy of Lincoln, U.S.A., official of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, as bishop of Wichita (area 51,835, population 949,385, Catholics 115,482, priests 130, permanent deacons 3, religious 333), U.S.A. The bishop-elect was born in Rapid City, U.S.A., in 1954, and ordained a priest in 1981.

 - Msgr. Jean Laffitte of the diocese of Autun, France, professor at the John Paul II Pontifical Institute for the Study of Marriage and the Family, as under-secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Family.
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 28, 2005 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience Bishop Jose Sanchez Gonzalez of Siguenza-Guadalajara, Spain, on his "ad limina" visit.

  Yesterday the Holy Father received Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 28, 2005 (VIS) - Twenty-seven members of the International Commission for Theological Dialogue between representatives of the Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodox Churches were received in the Concistory Hall this morning by the Holy Father, who thanked His Grace Anba Bishoy for "his kind words" and extended "fraternal best wishes to my venerable brothers, the heads of your Churches."

  "I join you," said John Paul II, "in praying that the real bonds of communion between us may be further strengthened through a spirituality of communion which contemplates 'the mystery of the Trinity dwelling in us', and sees 'what is positive in others, to welcome it and prize it as a gift from God'. With these sentiments, I encourage your efforts to foster mutual understanding and communion between Christians of East and West, and I invoke the blessings of Almighty God upon your deliberations."
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 28, 2005 (VIS) - This morning John Paul II received the president of the Republic of Armenia, Robert Kocharian, recalling other meetings they had held, in the Vatican in 1999 and later in Yerevan in 2001, during the Pope's apostolic visit to Armenia.

  The Pope told the president of his "sincere appreciation for the good relations between  the Holy See and the government of your country. I know that the Catholic community is welcomed and respected, and that its various activities contribute to the wellbeing of the entire nation."

  He went on: "Everyone earnestly hopes that the collaboration between the Holy See and the Armenian government will continue to grow and, where the situation calls for it, that eventual  improvements  to the status of the Catholic Church will be made."

  The Holy Father also gave assurances of the "friendly and respectful relations between the Catholic Church and the Armenian Apostolic Church. This understanding, which is even more active thanks to the initiative of the Catholicos Karekin II, will certainly have positive repercussions for the peaceful coexistence of the entire Armenian people, who are called to face no small number of social and economic challenges."

  "I also hope," said the Pope., "that true and lasting peace comes to the region of Nagorno-Karabagh where you, President Kocharian, come from. This will come about by a decisive refusal of violence and a patient dialogue between the parties, thanks also to active international mediation."

  The Pope concluded by recalling that the Holy See, "which over the centuries has not failed to denounce violence and defend the rights of the weak, will continue to support all efforts aimed at building a solid and lasting peace."
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Thursday, January 27, 2005


VATICAN CITY, JAN 27, 2005 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Msgr. Peter Neher, president of the 'Deutscher Caritasverband' in Germany, and Jean-Pierre Richer, president of 'Secours Catholique' in France, as members of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum."
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 27, 2005 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences six prelates from the Spanish Episcopal Conference on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop Julian Lopez Martin of Leon.

    - Bishop Jose Vilaplana Blasco of Santander.

    - Archbishop Antonio Canizares Llovera of Toledo.

    - Bishop Francisco Cases Andreu of Albacete.

    - Bishop Antonio Angel Algora Hernando of Ciudad Real.

    - Bishop Ramon del Hoyo Lopez of Cuenca.
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 27, 2005 (VIS) - At midday today, Holy See Press Office Director Joaquin Navarro-Valls made the following declaration concerning a communique released yesterday by the Spanish Foreign Ministry on the Holy Father's address to Spanish prelates during their "ad limina" visit on January 24, 2005.

  "We have studied the communique released by the Administrative Office for External Communications of the Foreign Ministry of Madrid. For our part, we suggest an attentive reading of the entire papal address, which clearly illustrates the position of the Church. We note with satisfaction the will of the Spanish government to maintain a fruitful understanding with the Church  by means of a permanent dialogue animated by mutual respect, as the communique itself says. This has been and always will be the policy of the Holy See."


VATICAN CITY, JAN 27, 2005 (VIS) - Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, archbishop of Paris, read a Message from Pope John Paul today at a gathering of more than 30 world leaders to mark the 60th anniversary of the liberation of prisoners from the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in Poland. The cardinal is the Pope's special envoy to these commemorative ceremonies. The Message was dated January 15.

  The Holy Father called what happened in Auschwitz "the tragic fruit of programmed hatred," and said we must remember the millions "who, through no fault of their own, bore inhuman sufferings and were annihilated in the gas chambers and crematoriums."

  He recalled his 1979 trip, as Pope,  to Auschwitz, where he "paused before memorial stones with dedications to the victims in many languages, ... stopping the longest before those written in Hebrew. I said: ... This people has its origins in Abraham, who is also our father in faith, as Paul of Tarsus said. This very people, who received from God the commandment 'Thou shall not kill', itself experienced in a special measure what it means to kill.. No one can stop in front of these memorials with indifference.

  "I repeat those words today. No one may overlook the tragedy of the Shoah. That attempt at a systematic destruction of an entire people falls like a shadow over Europe and the entire world; it is a crime that forever darkens the history of mankind. May this serve as a warning, today and for the future: there can never be a yielding to ideologies which justify trampling on human dignity on the basis of differences in race, skin color, language or religion. I appeal to everyone, and especially to those who, in the name of religion, would resort to acts of oppression and terror."

  The Holy Father said these reflections "accompanied" him at the penitential liturgy in St. Peter's during the Jubilee Year 2000 and on his pilgrimage to the Holy Land when he visited the Yad Vashem holocaust monument in Jerusalem.

  Continuing with memories of his 1979 trip to Auschwitz, John Paul II recalled the many memorials there written in Russian, noting that "the Russians had the highest number of people who so tragically lost their lives (in the war). The Roma were also destined to total extermination in Hitler's plan."

  Referring to the memorials inscribed in his native Polish, the Holy Father quoted his words from 1979, when he said that Auschwitz represented "yet another stage in the centuries-old struggle of this nation, my nation, for its fundamental rights among the peoples of Europe. Yet another loud cry for the right to have a place of its own on the map of Europe. Yet another painful reckoning with the conscience of humanity. The affirmation of this truth was a call for historical justice for this nation, which had made such great sacrifices in the cause of Europe's liberation from the infamous Nazi ideology, and which had been sold into slavery to another destructive ideology: that of Soviet communism."

  Pope John Paul said that, on that 1979 visit, and unceasingly since then, he has prayed for world peace, for respect for human dignity, for the rights of everyone "to seek the truth in freedom, and to follow the moral law."

  He underscored that, in the midst of unspeakable suffering, there were also great heroes, prisoners who "showed love not only for their fellow prisoners, but also for their tormentors. Many did so out of love for God and for man; others in the name of the highest spiritual values." He said such behavior demonstrated what the Bible often speaks of: "Even though man is capable of evil, and at times boundless evil, evil itself will never have the last word."

  In conclusion, the  Holy Father said that today's ceremonies were principally "to honor the dead, to acknowledge historical reality and above all to ensure that those terrible events will serve as a summons for the men and women of today to ever greater responsibility for our common history. Never again, in any part of the world, must others experience what was experienced by these men and women whom we have mourned for sixty years!"


VATICAN CITY, JAN 27, 2005 (VIS) - Pope John Paul's Message for Lent 2005, dated September 8, 2004, was published today in English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Portuguese and Polish. The theme, taken from Deuteronomy 30:20 is "Loving the Lord ... means life to you, and length of days." The Pope says these are "the words of Moses, inviting the people "to embrace the Covenant with Yahweh in the country of Moab 'that you and your descendants may live, loving the Lord, your God, obeying His voice, and cleaving to Him'."

  Following are excerpts from the Message:

  "It is upon this theme that I would like to ask you to reflect during this Lent, in order to deepen the awareness of the role that the elderly are called to play in society and in the Church, and thus to prepare your hearts for the loving welcome that should always be reserved for them. Thanks to the contribution of science and medicine, one sees in society today a lengthening of the human life span and a subsequent increase in the number of elderly. This demands a more specific attention to the world of so-called 'old' age, in order to help its members to live their full potential by placing them at the service of the entire community. The care of the elderly, above all when they pass through difficult moments, must be of great concern to all the faithful, especially in the ecclesial communities of Western societies, where the problem is particularly present.

  "Human life is a precious gift to be loved and defended in each of its stages. The Commandment, 'You shall not kill!', always requires respecting and promoting human life, from its beginning to its natural end. It is a command that applies even in the presence of illness and when physical weakness reduces the person's ability to be self-reliant."
  "The elderly need to be understood and helped in this perspective.  I wish, here, to express my appreciation to those who dedicate themselves to fulfilling these needs, and I also call upon other people of good will to take advantage of Lent for making their own personal contribution."

  "It is necessary to raise the awareness in public opinion that the elderly represent, in any case, a resource to be valued. For this reason, economic support and legislative initiatives, which allow them not to be excluded from social life, must be strengthened.  In truth, during the last decade, society has become more attentive to their needs, and medicine has developed palliative cures that, along with an integral approach to the sick person, are particularly beneficial for long-term patients."

    "Knowledge of the nearness of the final goal leads the elderly person to focus on that which is essential, giving importance to those things that the passing of years do not destroy.

  "Precisely because of this condition, the elderly person can carry out his or her role in society.  If it is true that man lives upon the heritage of those who preceded him, and that his future depends definitively on how the cultural values of his own people are transmitted to him, then the wisdom and experience of the elderly can illuminate his path on the way of progress toward an ever more complete form of civilisation."

  "What would happen if the People of God yielded to a certain current mentality that considers these people, our brothers and sisters, as almost useless when they are reduced in their capacities due to the difficulties of age or sickness? Instead, how different the community would be, if, beginning with the family, it tries always to remain open and welcoming towards them."
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 27, 2005 (VIS) - This morning in the Holy See Press Office, Archbishop Paul Josef Cordes, president of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum", and Bishop Andre-Mutien Leonard of Namur, Belgium, an expert in questions relating to euthanasia, presented John Paul II's Message for Lent, whose theme is "Loving the Lord ... means life to you and length of days" (Deut 30:20).

  Archbishop Cordes affirmed that "the current relevance of the Message is clear when the Pope writes: 'Thanks to the contribution of science and medicine, one sees in society today a lengthening of the human life span and a subsequent increase in the number of elderly'." The archbishop pointed out how "the number of elderly people has increased rapidly over recent years, while at the same time the number of young people has diminished," consequently "a small percentage of young people must bear the burden of the large number of elderly."

  "It is clear that, with these new imbalances, the social cost of caring for the elderly constitutes a danger for the younger working population. This, in turn, may generate tension between the two groups or - as has already been written - a 'war of generations.' ... Also evident is the fear arising in young people, when they find themselves dependent, as a minority, on elderly people whose security, health and support they must at the same time guarantee."

  The president of "Cor Unum" indicated that "young people are becoming ever more aware that the elderly are an onus with various implications. They cost too much, they occupy living and housing space, they limit free time and amusement, they remind the young of their own future, they touch our feelings when they suffer and when they thus indicate our own future suffering. Why, then, not remove them from sight? Why not exile them behind high walls? Why not offer them an agreeable death, and so get rid of them for good?

  "There are associations that promote the 'right' - as they call it - to a 'dignified death.' The world of science offers concrete means to this end, cinema seeks to incite emotional attacks against existing laws, and politicians look to a new culture - the culture of death."

  "Politicians must not be allowed to sacrifice man's dignity to populist or economic interests," the archbishop concluded. "The dignity of man is untouchable, because it is a gift of God. Yet we must exercise our influence not only on the state and society: Even in our private life - in the family and the neighborhood - we must be guided by these words of the Pope."

  Bishop Leonard, recalling a phrase from the Pope's Lenten Message - "human life is a precious gift to be loved and defended in each of its stages" - then spoke about euthanasia, which he defined as "an explicit act or omission which, of itself or in its intention, brings death with the aim of ending the suffering of a terminally ill person."

  "Euthanasia in its true sense is not to be confused with the perfectly legal use of prescribed analgesic products that aim to suppress or alleviate pain, even though they may result in a shortening of life."

  The bishop of Namur made reference to paragraph nine of Recommendation 1418, approved by the Council of Europe in 1999, which "categorically excludes recourse to euthanasia for the terminally ill or dying, highlighting that the terminally ill or dying person's wish to die cannot of itself constitute a legal justification to carry out actions intended to bring about death."

  The bishop concluded by saying that in his Message, the Holy Father promotes a humanist approach. "Let us hope that this positive attitude, in keeping not only with the Catholic faith but also with philosophical humanism, prevails over the terrible temptation of euthanasia."
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Wednesday, January 26, 2005


VATICAN CITY, JAN 26, 2005 (VIS) - In today's general audience, which was held in the Paul VI Hall, the Pope spoke on Psalm 114, and the subject of "thanksgiving."

  The psalmist, John Paul II affirmed, "expresses loving recognition to the Lord, after his intense supplications were answered: 'I love the Lord because He has heard my voice and my supplications. Because He inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on Him as long as I live.' This declaration of love is immediately followed by a vivid description of the mortal danger that had been menacing the psalmist's life."

  "From that tragic abyss," continued the Pope, "a cry arose towards the only One who can extend a hand and lift the anguished psalmist from that inextricable turmoil: 'O Lord. I beseech you, save my life!'"

  "The call for help addressed to the Lord that we have just heard in the psalm," said the Holy Father, "reminds us of the great value of prayer. The believer clings to the Lord as his only hope of salvation and expresses his grateful love for the protection he receives."

  The Holy Father highlighted the fact that "authentic faith always sees God as love, even if at times we find it difficult to understand His actions fully. It always remains certain that 'the Lord preserves the simple', and so in misery and solitude you can always rely upon Him."

  "Prayer helps us to rediscover the loving face of God. He never abandons his people but guarantees that, notwithstanding trials and suffering, good triumphs in the end."
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 26, 2005 (VIS) - Last evening, feast of the conversion of St. Paul, Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, presided in the name of the Holy Father at the celebration of Vespers at the basilica of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls to conclude the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

  In his homily, which focused on "Jesus Christ, Our Common Foundation," the cardinal quoted St. Paul's words to the Corinthians - "No one may lay a foundation different from that already laid, which is Jesus Christ" - and told the religious leaders assembled that "this is the reason for our ecumenical commitment."

  "Today," said the council president, "at the start of the new year, we do not wish to look to the past but rather to the future, the future of ecumenism. From its very beginnings, at the start of the 20th century, the ecumenical movement has known great changes in the world and in our Churches. The ecumenical situation itself is quite different. At times, the initial impulse seems to run the risk of falling into a lethargic state and of losing its credibility. On one side signs of reticence and resistance emerge and, on the other, signs of resignation and frustration. Therefore, we cannot continue to repeat: 'business as usual'. What must we do? What can we do?"

  We must reflect, said Cardinal Kasper, on Jesus Christ, our foundation, on "faith in Jesus Christ, true God and true man, Who is the foundation of our baptism, which makes us Christians, incorporating us into the Church. ... Jesus Christ is not only the foundation but also the goal of our ecumenical commitment: in Him we will be one. ...  Precisely today, in post-modern society when everything becomes relative and arbitrary, and everyone creates his or her own religion a la carte, we need a solid foundation and a trustworthy common reference point for our personal life and our ecumenical work."

  The cardinal asked: "What does this mean concretely? I will mention only three consequences. In the first place, it is over the Bible that we are divided and it is only through reading, studying and meditating on the Bible that we can rediscover unity. ... Secondly, through Baptism we are incorporated into Jesus Christ. In our ecumenical commitment, we don't start from zero. Through Baptism we are already in a fundamental communion that unites us to Christ and unites us one to the other. ... Thirdly, Jesus Christ is present in the Church through His Word and His sacraments. He is the Head of the Church and the Church is His Body."

  In concluding remarks, Cardinal Kasper said: "We can and must distinguish Christ from the Church, but we cannot separate one from the other. St. Augustine taught us the formula 'Christus totus', the fullness of Christ as Head and Body. And this is the deepest point of divergence between the Churches and the ecclesial communities of the West, which impedes us from fully being signs and instruments of Christ."
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Tuesday, January 25, 2005


VATICAN CITY, JAN 25, 2005 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Accepted the resignation from the office of apostolic nuncio to Greece presented by Archbishop Paul Fouad Tabet upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Archbishop Patrick Coveney, apostolic nuncio to New Zealand, Fiji Islands, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Samoa, Vanuatu, Tonga, Nauru, Kiribati, Palau, Cook Islands and apostolic delegate to the Pacific Ocean, as apostolic nuncio to Greece.

 - Accepted the resignation from the office of auxiliary of the diocese of Worcester, USA, presented by Bishop George E. Rueger, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Msgr. Oscar Cantoni, episcopal vicar for the clergy in the diocese of Como, Italy, as bishop of Crema (area 276, population 92,000, Catholics 89,100, priests 116, religious 119), Italy. The bishop-elect was born in Lenno, Italy, in 1950 and ordained a priest in 1975.

 - Elevated the archdiocese of Durres-Tirane, Albania, to the status of metropolitan see, inverting its current name to Tirane-Durres and assigning it as suffragans the diocese of Rreshen and the apostolic administration of Southern Albania.

 - United the diocese of Pult, Albania, to the metropolitan archdiocese of Shkodre, Albania, which now assumes the name of Shkodre-Pult and maintains as suffragans the dioceses of Lezhe and Sape.
RE:NA:NER/.../...                                VIS 20050125 (220)


VATICAN CITY, JAN 25, 2005 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences five prelates from the Spanish Episcopal Conference, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Archbishop Santiago Garcia Aracil of Merida-Badajoz.

    - Bishop Ciriaco Benavente Mateos of Coria-Caceres.

    - Bishop Amadeo Rodriguez Magro of Plasencia.

    - Archbishop Carlos Osoro Sierra of Oviedo.

    - Bishop Camilo Lorenzo Iglesias of Astorga.
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WEDNESDAY FEBRUARY 2, FEAST OF THE PRESENTATION OF THE LORD, and 9th Day of Consecrated Life, the Pope will preside at the Liturgy of the Word, at 5.30 p.m. in St Peter's Basilica. He will bless the candles, participate in the opening procession and, following the homily, lead thanksgiving to God for the gift of consecrated life. At the end of the Mass he will impart his apostolic blessing. The Eucharist will be celebrated by Archbishop Franc Rode, C.M., prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.

ON THURSDAY JANUARY 27, IN THE HOLY SEE PRESS OFFICE at 11.30 a.m., the presentation will take place of John Paul II's message for Lent 2005, the theme of which is: "He is your life and the length of your days" (Deut 30: 20). Participating in the press conference will be Archbishop Paul Josef Cordes, president of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum" and Bishop Andre-Mutien Leonard of Namur, Belgium, an expert on questions regarding euthanasia.
.../IN BRIEF/...                                    VIS 20050125 (180)


VATICAN CITY, JAN 25, 2005 (VIS) - Yesterday, Archbishop Celestino Migliore, Holy See permanent observer to the United Nations, participated in the UN General Assembly commemorating the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Nazi concentration camps by allied troops.

  "My delegation," said Archbishop Migliore, "welcomes this chance to remember the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps, so that humanity not forget the terror of which man is capable; the evils of arrogant political extremism and social engineering."

  "Today we contemplate the consequences of intolerance, as we recall all those ... considered unfit for society - the Jews, the Slavonic peoples, the Roma people, the disabled, homosexuals, among others - (who) were marked for extermination."

  The death camps, he went on, "are also witnesses to an unprecedented plan for the deliberate, systematic extermination of a whole people, the Jewish people. ... During his visit to Auschwitz in 1979, Pope John Paul the Second stated that we must let the cry of the people martyred there change the world for the better."

  "In a century marked by man-made catastrophes, the Nazi death camps are a particularly sobering reminder of 'man's inhumanity to man' and of his capacity for evil. Nevertheless, we should remember that humankind is also capable of great good, of self-sacrifice and altruism," said the archbishop. "In the context of today's commemoration, we need only think of those courageous people from all walks of society, ... recognized as 'Righteous among the Nations'" he added, in a reference to those who helped the Jewish people during the Second World War.

  "May all men and women of good will seize this solemn occasion to say "Never again" to such crimes, no matter their political inspiration, so that all nations, as well as this Organization, truly respect the life, liberty and dignity of every human being."


VATICAN CITY, JAN 25, 2005 (VIS) - Yesterday evening in the Vatican Basilica Cardinal Secretary of State Angelo Sodano celebrated a Mass in the Pope's name for victims of the Asian tidal wave of December 26.

  Referring in his homily to the catastrophe of the tsunami and its consequences, Cardinal Sodano affirmed that "once again, man felt his insignificance with respect to the complexity of the planet on which we live. And so a natural interior impulse arose within us to look to the heavens, seeking a response to the many questions that arise in moments of confusion."

  He went on: "Some people have even asked themselves how is it possible for man - who has managed to reach the moon, who has sent a probe to Titan more than a billion kilometers from earth - to be so impotent in the face of such disasters. And many others have asked whether Christian faith has a clear response to the enigma of pain. The response of the believer was immediate: Yes. God always loves men and women, and He is always close to them with a Father's love!"

  The Secretary of State recalled that God "became man to share our existence, in the joyful and the sad moments of life."

  Closing his homily, the Cardinal gave assurances that "in this moment of prayer, the Pope is near us, and with us he confides the souls of all those who died in the terrible tidal wave of Southeast Asia to the hands of God. ... The Vicar of Christ continues to call us to solidarity with our brothers and sisters" of the populations stricken by the tragedy.
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Monday, January 24, 2005


VATICAN CITY, JAN 24, 2005 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Accepted the resignation from the office of auxiliary of the archdiocese of Gdansk, Poland, presented by Bishop Zygmunt Pawlowicz upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Msgr. Ryszard Kasyna of the clergy of the archdiocese of Gdansk, Poland, judicial vicar of the same archdiocese, as auxiliary of the archdiocese of Gdansk (area 2,500, population 977,552, Catholics 917,695, priests 728, religious 844). The bishop-elect was born in Nowy Staw in 1957 and ordained a priest in 1982.

  On Saturday, January 22, It was made public that he:

 - Accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of Lucca, Italy, presented by Archbishop Bruno Tommasi upon having reached the age limit. He is succeeded by Archbishop Benvenuto Italo Castellani, coadjutor of the same archdiocese.

 - Appointed Fr. Henryk Hoser, S.A.C., rector of the Pallotine Fathers' missionary center in Brussels, Belgium, as adjunct secretary to the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and president of the Pontifical Missionary Works, at the same time elevating him to the dignity of archbishop. The archbishop-elect was born in Warsaw, Poland, in 1942 and ordained a priest in 1974.

 - Appointed Msgr. Vicente Juan Segura of the clergy of the archdiocese of Valencia, Spain, head of the Spanish section of the Secretariat of State, as bishop of Ibiza (area 872, population 108,000, Catholics 93,000, priests 37, religious 64), Spain. The bishop-elect was born in Tabernes de Valldigna, Spain, in 1955, and ordained a priest in 1981.
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 24, 2005 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences seven prelates from the Spanish Episcopal Conference, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela, archbishop of Madrid, accompanied by his Auxiliary Bishops: Fidel Herraez Vegas, Cesar Augusto Franco Martinez, and Eugenio Romero Pose.

    - Archbishop Francisco Perez Gonzalez, military ordinary.

    - Jesus Esteban Catala Ibanez of Alcala de Henares.

    - Joaquin Maria Lopez de Andujar y Canovas del Castillo of Getafe.

  On Saturday, January 22, he received in separate audiences:

 - Bishop Jose Manuel Lorca Planes of Teruel y Albarracin, Spain, on his "ad limina" visit.

 - Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.

 - Archbishop Jozef Kowalczyk, apostolic nuncio to Poland.
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 24, 2005 (VIS) - Made public today, feast of St Francis of Sales patron saint of journalists, was John Paul II's message for the 39th Day of Social Communications which is due to be held on May 8, 2005, on the theme: "The Communications Media: at the service of understanding among peoples."

 Extracts from the message - which was published in Italian, English, French, German, Spanish and Portuguese - are given below:

 "The theme chosen for the 2005 World Communications Day - "The Communications Media: at the service of understanding among peoples" - addresses an urgent need: to promote the unity of the human family."

 "One important way of achieving this end is through education. The media can teach billions of people about other parts of the world and other cultures. ... Accurate knowledge promotes understanding, dispels prejudice, and awakens the desire to learn more. ... When others are portrayed in hostile terms, seeds of conflict are sown. ... Instead of building unity and understanding, the media can be used to demonize other social, ethnic and religious groups, fomenting fear and hatred. Those responsible for the style and content of what is communicated have a grave duty to ensure that this does not happen. Indeed, the media have enormous potential for promoting peace and building bridges between peoples."

 "If such a contribution to peace-making is one of the significant ways the media can bring people together, its influence in favor of the swift mobilization of aid in response to natural disasters is another. It was heartening to see how quickly the international community responded to the recent tsunami that claimed countless victims."

 "The Second Vatican Council reminded us: 'If the media are to be correctly employed, it is essential that all who use them know the principles of the moral order and apply them faithfully.'

 "The fundamental ethical principle is this: 'The human person and the human community are the end and measure of the use of the media of social communication; communication should be by persons to persons for the integral development of persons.' In the first place, then, the communicators themselves need to put into practice in their own lives the values and attitudes they are called to instill in others. Above all, this must include a genuine commitment to the common good - a good that is not confined by the narrow interests of a particular group or nation but embraces the needs and interests of all."

  "My prayer on this year's World Communications Day is that the men and women of the media will play their part in breaking down the dividing walls of hostility in our world, walls that separate peoples and nations from one another, feeding misunderstanding and mistrust."
MESS/WORLD COMMUNICATIONS DAY/...             VIS 20050124 (470)


VATICAN CITY, JAN 24, 2005 (VIS) - This morning, the Pope received the first group of Spanish prelates who have just completed their "ad limina" visit.

  In his address, the Pope highlighted that Spain "is a country of profound Christian roots. ... The Church in your nation has a glorious history of generosity and sacrifice, of robust spirituality and altruism, and has offered the universal Church numerous sons and daughters outstanding for their practice of heroic virtues or for their witness as martyrs. I myself have had the joy of canonizing and beatifying numerous sons and daughters of Spain. ... The living Christian roots of Spain, as I highlighted in my last pastoral visit in May 2003, cannot be pulled up, rather they must continue to nourish the harmonious development of society."

  John Paul II noted that in their five-yearly reports the bishops had highlighted their concern for the vitality of the Church as well as the challenges and difficulties they have to face. Over the last few years, he said, "many things have changed in the social, economic and religious field, at times giving rise to religious indifference and a kind of moral relativism; these influence Christian practice and consequently affect social structures themselves."

  Referring to the social sphere, the Holy Father noted that "a lay-inspired mentality is also spreading, an ideology that leads - with a greater or lesser degree of awareness - to the restriction of religious liberty, even promoting scorn or ignorance of religious matters, relegating faith to the private sphere and opposing its public expression. This does not form part of the most noble Spanish tradition, because the mark left by the Catholic faith in the life and culture of the Spanish is too deep for them to fall prey to the temptation to silence it."

  Furthermore, he went on, "young people have the right, from the very beginning of the formative process, to be educated in the faith. The integral education of the youngest cannot ignore religious education, even in schools, when the parents ask for it, with an academic evaluation in keeping with its importance. For their part, the public authorities have the duty to guarantee this right to parents and to ensure the actual conditions for its effective practice, as laid down in the 1979 Partial Accords between Spain and the Holy See, which are currently in force."

  The Pope went on to talk about the religious situation, in which, according to the bishops' reports, there is "serious concern for the vitality of the Church in Spain, while at the same time various challenges and difficulties arise. Attentive to the problems and the expectations of the faithful faced with this new situation, you as pastors feel called to remain united in order to make the presence of the Lord more palpable among men and women, using the pastoral initiatives most appropriate to the new realities."

  After underlining the need for the Sacraments "in the development of Christian life" and the importance of pastors celebrating them "with dignity and decorum," John Paul II called for "pastoral activity that promotes a more assiduous participation of the faithful in the Sunday Eucharist, which must be experienced not just as a precept, but rather as a requirement profoundly inscribed in each Christian's life."

  Referring to the bishops' concern for priests and seminarians, the Pope affirmed that priests "are in the front line of evangelization," that they have special need of "your care and pastoral closeness," and that "they must recall that, in the first instance, they are men of God and, for that reason, cannot disregard their spiritual life and permanent formation. ... Among the many activities that fill the day of each priest, the most important is the celebration of the Eucharist."

  The Pope said that "one living hope is the increase of priestly vocations" and that "no fear must be felt in proposing this to young people, then accompanying them at a human and spiritual level in order for them to discern their vocational option."

  "The Catholic faithful - who are called to seek the Kingdom of God by concerning themselves with worldly reality, ordering it according to divine will - are called to be valiant witnesses of their faith in the various fields of public life. ... The young, future of the Church and of society, must be the special object of your pastoral concerns."
AL/.../SPAIN                                    VIS 20050124 (750)


VATICAN CITY, JAN 24, 2005 (VIS) - At midday today, before praying the Angelus, the Pope reminded the thousands of faithful gathered in St Peter's Square that "the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is being held over these days and will end, as it usually does in Rome, with the celebration of Vespers, on January 25 in the Basilica of St Paul's Outside-the-Walls. I will be spiritually present at that liturgy in which representatives from other Churches and Christian confessions will also participate, and which will be presided by Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity."

  John Paul II invited Christian communities "to experience with intensity this annual spiritual appointment which, in a certain way, gives us a pre-taste of the joy of full communion, at least in the aspiration and the choral invocation. Indeed, there is an ever growing awareness that unity is in the first place a gift of God, to be tirelessly implored with humility and truth."

  "May Mary Most Holy, Mother of the Church, help us to overcome all obstacles and obtain this gift as soon as possible. I make a heartfelt plea to all the faithful, especially the young, to extend their ecumenical commitment throughout the year and everywhere to become instruments and witnesses of the full communion invoked by Christ at the Last Supper."

  After the Marian prayer, the Holy Father recalled that today in Rome is the Day for Catholic Schools, which has as its theme "Church, family and school: together for education." He said: "In order to renew this commitment directors, teachers, parents and students of the Catholic schools of Rome are present in St Peter's Square, together with pastoral leaders of the diocese. I greet them with affection and gratitude, and in the hope that the precious service offered by Catholic schools may always be appreciated and supported by the ecclesial and civil communities."
ANG/CHRISTIAN UNITY/...                            VIS 20050124 (330)


VATICAN CITY, JAN 24, 2005 (VIS) - Given below is the text of the telegram of condolence sent by Cardinal Secretary of State Angelo Sodano, in the Pope's name, to Bishop Salvatore Boccaccio of Frosinone-Veroli-Ferentino, Italy, following the news of the death of the Italian warrant officer Simone Cola in Nasiriya, Iraq.

  "Having learned the tragic news of the death of warrant officer Simone Cola, killed in Nasiriya, the Supreme Pontiff wishes to express, to the parents and relatives all, his heartfelt condolences for such a grievous loss to the community and the entire country.

  "While giving assurances of his fervent prayers for the young victim, who fell while on a mission of peace, His Holiness invokes heavenly consolation upon all those weeping such a dramatic death, especially his wife Alessandra, and daughter Giorgia, and imparts the comfort of an apostolic blessing."


VATICAN CITY, JAN 22, 2005 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received the rector, students, former students and superiors of the diocesan seminary of Rome, the "Almo Collegio Capranica," on the occasion of the feast day of their patroness, St Agnes. The "Almo Collegio" forms students to the priesthood for Rome, other Italian dioceses and the rest of the world.

  "In order to achieve correct discernment," the Pope said, "it is essential to hold an intense and trusting dialogue at various levels, with superiors and fellow students. Constant attention to the expectations of the Church and of the world, and especially of the poor, are also necessary."

  The Holy Father asked the seminarians to combine their theological studies with meditation on the Word of God and to maintain "an intense personal dialogue with Jesus, our divine Master. May the Eucharist be, above all, the point of reference for your lives. ... May it become in everyday life the source of grace from which your actions derive, and the apex of perfection to which you constantly tend."

  After recalling that he visited the "Almo Collegio" 25 years ago, John Paul II indicated that in order to commemorate that date the seminary had recently organized a congress on the theology of the priesthood and on the "historical forms that, from the beginning, have characterized the formative itinerary of your institute. May this important anniversary," the Holy Father concluded, "be a further stimulus for you to grow in communion with Peter's Successor and in love for the Church."


VATICAN CITY, JAN 22, 2005 (VIS) - John Paul II today received the Letters of Credence of Monique Patricia Antoinette Frank, the new ambassador to the Holy See from the Netherlands.

  Addressing her in French, the Pope underscored how the world needs "to build a future of peace among men" and "to consolidate a stable international order, guaranteed by a better sharing of resources at an international level and policies actively aimed at development." There must also be "dialogue among the different peoples that comprise a nation" which is aimed at reciprocal respect.

  The Pope pointed out that, as part of the Church's contribution to this process, "I once again took the initiative, almost three years ago, of gathering together in Assisi the leaders of the great religions of the world so as to show together our common will for peace; I called them to a deeper dialogue among all religions, and I asked them in particular absolutely to renounce any legitimization of recourse to violence for religious motives and, even more, to explicitly condemn this. Since then, the Holy See has worked to promote, at all levels, an authentic inter-religious dialogue, inviting all Christians, in all societies where they live, to act in this same spirit, as artisans of peace and dialogue, notably among the faithful of other religions with whom they live."

  The Holy Father echoed the ambassador's words about "the important part your country plays in the fight against hunger and poverty in the world and its commitment in favor of development and health assistance to populations especially exposed to the drama of pandemics such as AIDS." He also recalled the position of the Holy See on this question, which "considers it necessary ... to combat this illness in a responsible way, increasing prevention especially through education with regard to the sacred value of life, and formation in the correct practice of sexuality, which involves chastity and fidelity."

  Noting that "the Netherlands has just assumed the presidency of the European Union, at a time when it is welcoming new countries," he said "the Holy See has always followed and encouraged the European project as a constructive contribution to peace on the continent itself, but also beyond."

  "For several years now," affirmed John Paul II, "Dutch society, marked by the phenomenon of secularization, has been engaged in new policies in legislative matters concerning the beginning and the end of human life. The Holy See has never failed to make its clear position known and to invite the Catholics of the Netherlands always to bear witness to their attachment to absolute respect for the human person, from conception to natural death."

  He dedicated closing remarks to young people, saying they need "to receive a solid education which develops and integrates their personality ... and opens them most especially to meeting others, in a society which is more and more cosmopolitan and multicultural." The Church, he said, will do her part in giving an integral education to young people.

Friday, January 21, 2005


VATICAN CITY, JAN 21, 2005 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience Bishop Demetrio Fernandez Gonzalez of Tarazona, Spain, on his "ad limina" visit.
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POPE JOHN PAUL, in liturgical memory of the virgin-martyr St. Agnes, whose feast is today and for whom the traditional symbol is a lamb, blessed some baby lambs in the library of his apartment. The wool of these lambs will be used to make the palliums given every year to new metropolitan archbishops as signs of their office. The blessing of lambs, who are under one year of age, is traditionally celebrated on the January 21 feast of St. Agnes, who died about 350 and who is buried in the basilica named for her on Rome's Via Nomentana. The lambs are raised by Trappist Fathers of the Abbey of the Three Fountains in Rome and the palliums are made from the newly-shorn wool by the sisters of St. Cecilia.

ARCHBISHOP JOHN FOLEY, PRESIDENT of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications yesterday inaugurated the Cardinal Deskur Room located in the council offices in the Palazzo San Carlo in the Vatican. Cardinal Deskur is the president emeritus of the social communications council. Archbishop Foley noted that the newly restored room, which is the projection room of the Vatican Film Library, "has hosted many film premieres for a select audience and the Holy Father also has been a guest several times, showing his interest in the world of cinema." Three short films were projected yesterday: "Leo XIII" in the Vatican Gardens, from 1896, "The Inferno" and "The View of Michelangelo."
.../IN BRIEF/...                            VIS 20050121 (240)


VATICAN CITY, JAN 21, 2005 (VIS) - Sixty members of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry, meeting in the Vatican for their plenary session, were welcomed by the Pope this morning, who noted that 2005 marks the 20th anniversary of the founding of the council whose aim is "to spread the Gospel of Christian hope in the vast world of those who suffer and those called to care for them."

  This period, he added, "will also be for you a stimulus to a renewed commitment in translating into action your programs for 'spreading, explaining and defending the teachings of the Church in matters of health and favoring their dissemination into health care practices', according to the Motu Proprio 'Dolentium hominum' which established the council."

  The Holy Father said that "the Church, in her pastoral action, is called to face the most delicate and inescapable questions that arise in the human soul in the face of suffering, sickness and death. It is from faith in Christ, Who died and rose from the dead, that those questions can find the comfort of hope that does not delude. The world today, which often does not have the light of this hope, suggests solutions of death. Thus, the urgency to promote a new evangelization and a strong witness of  active faith in these many secularized areas."

  "The Pontifical Council," he continued, "does well, therefore, to focus its reflections and programs on the sanctification of the period of sickness and on the special role that sick people play in the Church and in the family by virtue of the living presence of Christ in every suffering person."

  Church leaders, said John Paul II, also have a responsibility to pay attention "to the structures where the sick person suffers some form of marginalization and lack of social support. This attention must also be extended to those areas of the world where the neediest sick people, notwithstanding medical progress, lack medicines and adequate assistance. The Church must have a special concern for those areas of the world where AIDS patients have no assistance. For this reason the 'Good Samaritan' Foundation was  created with the aim of contributing to help the most vulnerable populations with the necessary therapeutic support."
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 21, 2005 (VIS) - This morning, the Pope received members and counselors of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, who are participating in their plenary session on the theme: "Sunday Mass, center of Christian life in Latin America."

  The Pope expressed his joy that, during the Year of the Eucharist, they had chosen to reflect on "various initiatives to rediscover and fully 'experience Sunday as the day of the Lord and the day of the Church'," as proposed in the Apostolic Letter "Mane nobiscum Domine."

  "Participation in Sunday Mass," said the Pope, "is not only an important obligation, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church (no. 1389) makes quite clear, but above all a profound need of each individual faithful. It is not possible to experience faith without participating regularly in Sunday Mass: the sacrifice of redemption, the shared banquet of the Word of God and of the Bread of the Eucharist, heart of Christian life."

  John Paul II underlined the "renewed efforts" by pastors of the Church to "raise awareness of the centrality of Sunday in the ecclesial and social life of the men and women of today. ... To this end it is necessary to concentrate efforts on a better and more careful education and catechesis of the faithful about the Eucharist, and to ensure that the celebration is dignified and decorous, so that it inspires true respect and authentic piety in the face of the greatness of the Eucharistic mystery."

  "Sunday Mass," he went on, "must be correctly prepared by the celebrant, with a spiritual disposition which is then revealed in his words and gestures, just as the homily must be prepared in an appropriate way." On this subject, the Pope referred to the importance of choosing and preparing "the hymns, symbols and other elements that enrich the liturgy, always showing due respect for established norms, taking advantage of all the spiritual and pastoral richness of the Roman Missal and the directives proposed by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments."

  The Holy Father concluded by asking the bishops, in collaboration with priests, religious and faithful, to give "the maximum commitment to reflecting on and deepening this essential dimension of the sacramental life of the Church," and to work "to awaken an ever greater love for the Mystery of the Eucharist in their dioceses."
AC/SUNDAY MASS/COM-AL                        VIS 20050121 (400)


VATICAN CITY, JAN 20, 2005 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed:

 - Cardinal Camillo Ruini, vicar general for the diocese of Rome and president of the Italian Episcopal Conference, as his special envoy to the 24th Italian Eucharistic Congress which will be held in Bari, Italy, from May 21 to 29, 2005.

 - Msgr. Ercole Boggio-Bozzo, adjunct defender of the bond of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota, as defender of the bond of the same tribunal.
NA/.../RUINI:BOGGIO-BOZZO                        VIS 20050120 (80)

Thursday, January 20, 2005


VATICAN CITY, JAN 20, 2005 (VIS) - This morning, John Paul II received participants in the General Chapter of the International Union of Families of Schoenstatt.

  After recalling what he wrote in the Apostolic Exhortation "Familiaris consortio," namely, that "the future of humanity passes by way of the family," the Pope asked those present to deepen "their understanding of marriage and the family in the light of faith. It is good that the family represents the charism of your union. The family is a 'school of love.' Transmit your enthusiasm for marriage and the family to your people."

  "Society currently needs more than ever healthy families who are capable of defending the common good," the Pope said. "If we strengthen the sacred institution of marriage and the family in keeping with the divine plan, love and solidarity between people will grow."

  The Holy Father stressed that the year of the Eucharist represents "an urgent invitation to find 'the source of all communion in the supreme Sacrament of love'. Discover anew the immense gift of the Eucharist 'in order to experience fully the beauty and the mission of the family'."
AC/MARRIAGE:FAMILY/SCHOENSTATT                    VIS 20050120 (200)


VATICAN CITY, JAN 20, 2005 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences five prelates from the Spanish Episcopal Conference, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Archbishop Braulio Rodriguez Plata of Valladolid.

    - Bishop Jesus Garcia Burillo of Avila.

    - Bishop Atilano Rodriguez Martinez of Ciudad Rodrigo.

    - Bishop Carlos Lopez Hernandez of Salamanca.

    - Bishop Luis Gutierrez Martin. C.M.F., of Segovia.

  On the evening of Wednesday, January 19, he received in separate audiences three prelates from the Spanish Episcopal Conference, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Archbishop Elias Yanes Alvarez of Zaragoza.

    - Bishop Casimiro Lopez Llorente of Zamora.

    - Bishop Alfonso Milian Sorribas of Barbastro-Monzon.
AL/.../...                                        VIS 20050120 (110)


VATICAN CITY, JAN 20, 2005 (VIS) - Published today was the speech given in New York on January 18 by Archbishop Celestino Migliore, Holy See permanent observer to the United Nations, before the plenary of the General Assembly on Item 39, Strengthening the Coordination of Humanitarian and Disaster Relief Assistance of the United Nations, Including Special Economic Assistance: Draft Resolution.

  The archbishop, referring to the December 26 tsunami disaster, expressed "deepest condolences to the concerned countries," and noted that "since the very start of the emergency, His Holiness Pope John Paul the Second has expressed his deepest sympathy.  He has committed the agencies of the Catholic Church to act in a genuine gesture of solidarity to all people without exception in each nation touched by this enormous tragedy."

  He added that the Catholic Church's "institutions and the Papal Representatives present in the affected countries went into action immediately. Firstly, they gave out food and clothes as well as sheltering the affected populations. Tragically, it has become clear that the most affected group has been young children, of whom at least fifty thousand were swept away, but there are also tens of thousands left orphaned.  For this reason we are placing special emphasis upon ways to bring help to surviving children in the zones worst affected."

  "In cooperation with the Pontifical Council Cor Unum," stated Archbishop Migliore, "a very long list of Catholic agencies is already using funds from throughout the world, amounting to nearly five hundred million dollars, some of which is going into emergency aid and the rest into longer term projects through our local networks." He underscored that "the extraordinary impact of the power of nature ... elicited an equally extraordinary response from the peoples and governments of the whole world. ... Such a swift and practical expression of global solidarity is surely a sign of the fundamental decency of the peoples of the world."

  The nuncio remarked that "the world's nations should seize this opportunity and the good will generated by the world's peoples so as to further important humanitarian goals on the broader agenda at this time. ... My delegation earnestly hopes, therefore, that this year will be one in which solidarity will be the hallmark of the political agenda."
DELSS/TSUNAMI AID/UN:MIGLIORE                 VIS 20050120 (380)

Wednesday, January 19, 2005


VATICAN CITY, JAN 19, 2005 (VIS) - At the end of today's general audience in the Paul VI Hall, the Holy Father greeted the pilgrims present in various languages. "I have special thoughts," he began, "for the patriarch of Cilicia of the Armenians, His Beatitude Nerses Bedros XIX, and the other bishops who accompany him."

  The patriarch is in Rome for today's blessing by the Pope of a statue of St. Gregory the Illuminator, the apostle of Armenia who is also called "the Enlightener," who brought Christianity to the Armenians and who died in 332. The statue will be in a courtyard of St. Peter's Basilica.

  "I also wish to greet," he added, "the priests, seminarians and lay people of the Neocatechumenal Way. Dear ones, I thank you for your generous commitment to the new evangelization. I hope that your reflections in recent days will help you to deepen, with a docile spirit, the communion both with the pastors of the local Churches and the appropriate offices of the Holy See. You can thus offer an ever more effective contribution to the cause of the Gospel."
AG/GREETINGS/BEDROS                        VIS 20050119 (150)


VATICAN CITY, JAN 19, 2005 (VIS) - In today's general audience held in the Paul VI Hall, the Pope recalled the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity which began yesterday, saying "these are days of reflection and prayer, fittingly reminding Christians that the re-establishment of full unity among them, according to Jesus' will, involves all the baptized, both pastors and faithful."

  John Paul II affirmed that the Week of Prayer "is taking place a few months after the 40th anniversary of the promulgation of the Decree 'Unitatis redintegratio' of Vatican Council II, a key text that firmly and irrevocably placed the Catholic Church within the ecumenical movement."

  "This year," he went on, "the theme faces us with a truth basic to all ecumenical commitment: that Christ is the foundation of the Church. The Council strongly recommended prayer for unity as the soul of the entire ecumenical movement. ... But prayer must be accompanied by purification of mind, feelings and memory. Thus it becomes an expression of that 'interior conversion' without which there is no ecumenism. In the end, unity is a gift of God, a gift to be tirelessly implored with humility and truth."

  After highlighting how the longing for unity is spreading, the Holy Father pointed out that "the Lord has recently allowed his disciples to form important contacts of dialogue and collaboration. The pain of separation makes itself felt ever more intensely, in the face of the challenges of a world that awaits clear and unanimous evangelical witness from all believers in Christ."

  The Pope concluded by recalling that on January 25 he will be spiritually present at the celebration of Vespers to close the Week of Prayer, which will be presided in his name by Cardinal Walter Kasper. The ceremony is due to take place in the basilica of St Paul's Outside-the-Walls and will be attended by representatives from other Churches and Christian confessions. "I also ask you to pray so that, as soon as possible, the entire family of the faithful may achieve the full communion desired by Christ."

  Prior to the audience, John Paul II blessed a statue of St Gregory the Illuminator, the apostle of the Armenians, which has been placed behind the Vatican Basilica. The brief ceremony was attended by the patriarch of Cilicia of the Armenians, His Beatitude Nerses Bedros XIX, together with the bishops of his entourage.
AG/CHRISTIAN UNITY/...                            VIS 20050119 (410)

Tuesday, January 18, 2005


VATICAN CITY, JAN 18, 2005 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences four prelates from the Spanish Episcopal Conference on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop Miguel Jose Asurmendi Aramendia, S.D.B., of Vitoria.

    - Bishop Juan Jose Omella Omella of Calahorra y La Calzada-Logrono.

    - Bishop Jesus Sanz Montes, O.F.M., of Jaca and of Huesca.

    - Bishop Juan Maria Uriarte Goiricelaya of San Sebastian.
AL/.../...                                        VIS 20050118 (70)


VATICAN CITY, JAN 18, 2005 (VIS) - At noon today, Holy See Press Office Director Joaquin Navarro-Valls made the following declaration:

  "Today Tuesday, January 18, Gianfranco Fini in his capacity as foreign minister of the Italian Republic, came to the Vatican where he paid visits to Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, secretary for Relations with States, and to Cardinal Secretary of State Angelo Sodano.

  "The visit falls within the framework of contacts that Minister Fini is strengthening with various governments, in order to reinforce international collaboration.

  "In the course of the talks in the Vatican, opinions were exchanged on current affairs, especially the situation in Europe and in the Middle East. There was also agreement on the need to reform the United Nations in order to respond better to the challenges of the third millennium."
OP/MEETING FINI:SODANO/NAVARRO-VALLS                VIS 20050118 (140)


VATICAN CITY, JAN 18, 2005 (VIS) - This morning, in the largest private audience ever given by a Pope to Jewish leaders, John Paul II received 160 Jewish rabbis and cantors from Israel, the United States and Europe.

  The Holy Father pointed out that "this year we will be celebrating the fortieth anniversary of the Second Vatican Council's Declaration 'Nostra aetate', which has significantly contributed to the strengthening of Jewish-Catholic dialogue.

  "May this be an occasion for renewed commitment to increased understanding and cooperation in the service of building a world ever more firmly based on respect for the divine image in every human being."

  The rabbis, who all belong to the Pave the Way Foundation, thanked the Holy Father for "all the efforts he has sustained over 26 years of pontificate to reconcile the two faiths and demolish the wall of hatred," according to a communique from the Foundation published last evening. During the audience, they recited a prayer in honor of John Paul II.

  Gary Krupp, founder and president of the Pave the Way Foundation, affirmed that the aim of his group is "to unite men and women of good faith, beyond any religious belief and without prejudice, and to remove with determination all obstacles in the way of this objective. The Pope has done this for decades. The least we can do is to thank him humbly for all he has done for the Jewish people in the world; and in our turn we undertake to make serious efforts for peace on Earth," he said.

  Rabbi Jack Bemporad, director of the Center for Inter-religious Understanding, said "since Vatican Council II, and under the guidance of Pope John Paul II, the Church has made many extremely significant steps to create new bonds with Jews on a foundation of sincere affection and reciprocity."

  "No Pope before John Paul II has ever done as much, or been so concerned to create fraternal relations between Catholics and Jews. ... I am convinced that Pope John Paul II will be considered a great healer of relations between Catholics and Jews. ... Coming to the Vatican from all over the world, we rabbis say thank you!"
AC/JEWS:CATHOLICS/RABBIS                        VIS 20050118 (380)


VATICAN CITY, JAN 18, 2005 (VIS) - Joaquin Navarro-Valls, director of the Holy See Press Office, made the following declaration today upon learning of the release in Iraq of the kidnapped Syrian Catholic archbishop: "With great satisfaction we learned of the release of Archbishop Basile Georges Casmoussa of Mosul who had been kidnapped yesterday afternoon.

  "The Holy Father was immediately informed and he thanked God for the happy outcome of this affair.

  "No ransom was paid.

  "The kidnapping caused great surprise because the archbishop was well loved by both Christians and Muslims."

  Last evening Navarro-Valls, made the following statement to journalists: "The news has reached us of the kidnapping of Syrian Catholic Archbishop Basile Georges Casmoussa of Mosul, Iraq, The Holy See deplores in the firmest possible manner this despicable terrorist act and asks that this worthy pastor be released immediately to his ministry."

  Archbishop Casmoussa was born in Karakoche in northern Iraq in 1938. He was ordained a priest in 1962 and consecrated a bishop in December 1999.

  The Iraqi population is estimated at 25 million. Approximately 750,000 are Christians, 70% of whom belong to the Chaldean Catholic Church. There are 60,000 Syrian Catholics in Iraq.

Monday, January 17, 2005


VATICAN CITY, JAN 17, 2005 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed:

 - Fr. Hubert Herbreteau of the clergy of the diocese of Lucon, France, episcopal vicar for the "Cote et Marais Breton," as bishop of Agen (area 5,384, population 317,945, Catholics 246,000, priests 135, permanent deacons 14, religious 154), France. The bishop-elect was born in Vendrenness, France, in 1948, and ordained a priest in 1975.

 - Fr. Warnakulasurya Wadumestrige Devasritha Valence Mendis of the clergy of Chilaw, rector of the national seminary of Kandy, as coadjutor bishop of Chilaw (area 2,976, population 679,575, Catholics 233,187, priests 76, religious 250), Sri Lanka. The bishop-elect was born in Koralawella, Sri Lanka, in 1958, and ordained a priest in 1985.

  On Saturday, January 15, it was made public that he:

 - Accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of Kansas City in Kansas, USA, presented by Archbishop James Patrick Keleher, in accordance with Canon 401, paragraph 2 of the Code of Canon Law. He is succeeded by Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, coadjutor of the same archdiocese,

 - Appointed Bishop Juda Thaddaeus Ruwa'ichi. O.F.M. Cap., of Mbulu, Tanzania, as bishop of Dodoma (area 41,311, population 1,698,996, Catholics 318,807, priests 104, religious 543), Tanzania. He succeeds Bishop Matthias Joseph Isuja, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Bishop Leopoldo S. Tumulak of Tagbilaran, Philippines, as military ordinary for the Philippines.
NER:NEC:RE:NA/.../...                                VIS 20050117 (250)

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