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Monday, February 14, 2005


VATICAN CITY, FEB 13, 2005 (VIS) - At midday today, the Pope appeared at the window of his private study to pray the Angelus with thousands of people gathered below in St Peter's Square.

  Prior to the Marian prayer, Archbishop Leonardo Sandri, substitute of the Secretariat of State, read a text prepared by the Holy Father.

  "I would like to thank you all," the Holy Father writes, "including those who are following us on radio and television, for your closeness, affection and, above all, your prayers during the days I spent in the Gemelli Polyclinic. I always feel the need for your help before the Lord, in order to carry out the mission that Jesus has entrusted to me."

  After recalling that Lent began last Wednesday with the imposition of ashes, John Paul II affirms that this liturgical time "reminds us of a fundamental truth: we do not enter eternal life without carrying our cross together with Christ. We do not achieve happiness and peace without courageously facing the interior struggle. This struggle is won with the arms of penitence: prayer, fasting and works of mercy. And all must be done secretly, without hypocrisy, in a spirit of sincere love towards God and our brothers and sisters."

  Before closing, the Pope asks the faithful to pray for him and his collaborators in the Roman Curia during their week of spiritual exercises which begins this evening. "In silence and meditation I will pray to the Lord for all the needs of the Church and of the world."

  Following the Angelus, Archbishop Sandri added in the Pope's name: "As I continue to pray for peace in the Middle East, I make a heartfelt appeal for the liberation of the Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena, and of all those kidnapped in Iraq."

  The Holy Father pronounced the blessing and added before leaving: "I wish everyone a happy Sunday. Thank you."
ANG/LENT:SPIRITUAL RETREAT/...                    VIS 20050214 (330)

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