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Monday, January 3, 2005


VATICAN CITY, JAN 1, 2005 (VIS) - At 10 a.m. in the Vatican Basilica, the Holy Father presided at the celebration of Mass for the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God, on the occasion of the 38th World Day of Peace. The principal celebrant was Cardinal Secretary of State Angelo Sodano.

  In his homily, the Pope said that the World Day of Peace "constitutes an invitation to Christians and to all people of good will to renew their decisive commitment to build peace. This means accepting a fundamental moral requirement, well expressed in the words of St Paul: 'Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good'," which is the theme of World Peace Day this year.

  The Holy Father went on: "In the face of the multiple expressions of evil, which unfortunately afflict the human family, the main requirement is to promote peace, using consistent means, giving importance to dialogue and works of justice, and educating for forgiveness".

  John Paul II highlighted the fact that "each individual can contribute to the peace of everyone. This is the path along which Christians and believers of other religions are called to walk, together with all those who recognize a universal moral law. Beloved brothers and sisters, promoting peace in the world is our shared mission! May the Virgin Mary help us to carry out the words of the Lord, 'blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God'."

  At midday, the Pope appeared at the window of his private study in order to pray the angelus with thousands of people crowding St Peter's Square.

  "The Most Holy Virgin offered the world the Messiah, who is God's blessing for each man and woman, and for the whole world", the Holy Father affirmed. "This blessing is the foundation for the greetings we exchange this year: greetings of goodness because in Christ, God has filled us with all goodness; greetings of peace, because 'He is our peace'."

  After recalling the words from his message for the World Day of Peace that evil "is the result of human freedom", the Pope underlined the fact that evil "is defeated when freedom, under the influence of grace, is firmly oriented towards good, in other words definitively towards God".

  "Mary, Queen of Peace, help us all to build together this fundamental good of human coexistence, Only in this way will the world be able to progress down the paths of justice and fraternal solidarity".

  Following the angelus, and before wishing those present a Happy New Year in various languages, John Paul II reiterated his prayers "for the victims of the catastrophe (in Asia) and for their families. I note with favor the contest of solidarity growing throughout the world. Upon this sense of human solidarity, as well as upon God's help, is founded the hope for better times in the course of this year that begins today".
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 31, 2005 (VIS) - This evening in the Vatican Basilica, the Pope presided at the first vespers for the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God and the singing of the Te Deum of thanksgiving for the end of the year.

  "We thank you, Lord Jesus our Redeemer. ... In this Year of the Eucharist, we want to thank you more fervently for the gift of your Body and your Blood in the Sacrament of the altar. We praise and thank you, Holy Spirit Paraclete, because you make us aware of our condition of sonship, and you teach us to turn to God, calling Him Father, Abba".

  The Holy Father went on: "Let us praise God together for the expressions of goodness and mercy with which, over these months, he has accompanied our City. May He bring to fruition all apostolic plans and all initiatives for good".

  "Holy Mother of the Redeemer", the Pope concluded, "accompany us in this passage to a new year. Obtain the gift of peace for Rome and for the whole world. Mother of God, pray for us!"

  Holy See Press Office Director Joaquin Navarro-Valls announced that "the Pope will celebrate Mass in his private chapel for all the victims of the tidal wave in southeast Asia. The Pope will also remember the families of the victims and all those who are suffering over these days as a consequence of that disaster, as well as those who strive to alleviate the enormous suffering of the people stricken".
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 31, 2005 (VIS) - Cardinal Secretary of State Angelo Sodano has sent a telegram of condolence in the Holy Father's name to Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina, for the victims of the fire that destroyed a discotheque in that city in the early hours of this morning.

"His Holiness John Paul II, deeply saddened on learning the painful news of the many dead, among them so many young people, resulting from the fire that broke out in a Buenos Aires discotheque and that has filled many families of the beloved Argentinian people with mourning, offers his prayers for the eternal repose of the deceased and raises an appeal to the Lord that He may give comfort and serenity to those who weep the loss of their loved ones. I ask Your Eminence to pass on the Holy Father's deepest condolences to the families of the victims and to express his paternal solicitude and closeness to all the injured, at the same time as he imparts a heartfelt apostolic blessing".


VATICAN CITY, JAN 3, 2005 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed:

- Bishop Elio Sgreccia, vice president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, as president of the same pontifical academy.

- Msgr. Ignacio Carrasco de Paula of the Personal Prelature of Opus Dei, professor of bioethics in the faculty of medicine and surgery at the Catholic University of Rome, as a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life.

  On Friday, December 31, it was made public that the Holy Father accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of Sens and of the territorial prelature of "Mission de France" or Pontigny, France, presented by Archbishop Georges Gilson upon having reached the age limit. He is succeeded by Coadjutor Bishop Yves Patenotre.
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 2, 2005 (VIS) - Before praying the angelus at midday today, the Holy Father affirmed that on this first Sunday of the new year "the liturgy again resounds with the Gospel of Christmas Day: 'the Word became flesh and dwelt among us'. The Word of God is eternal Wisdom, which works in the universe and in history, a Wisdom that was fully revealed in the mystery of the Incarnation to establish a kingdom of life, of love and of peace".

  "Faith teaches us", the Holy Father continued, "that even in the most difficult and painful trials - such as in the calamity that recently struck southeast Asia - God never abandons us: in the mystery of Christmas, He came to share our existence".

  John Paul II highlighted that "the Child of Bethlehem is He who, on the eve of His redeeming death, would leave us the commandment to love one another as He loved us. ... This evangelical message provides a foundation for hope in a better world, so long as we walk in 'His' love.  At the beginning of a new year, may the Mother of God help us make this programme of life our own".
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 1, 2005 (VIS) - Pope John Paul's general prayer intention for the month of January is: "That all those working in the Middle East may intensify their efforts for peace".

  His mission intention is: "That in mission lands holy and generous apostles may be raised up, eager to proclaim the Gospel of Christ to everyone".
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