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Wednesday, February 9, 2005


VATICAN CITY, FEB 9, 2005 (VIS) - The 13th World Day of the Sick will be celebrated on February 11 at the Shrine of Mary Queen of the Apostles in Mvolye, Cameroon on the theme "Jesus Christ, Hope for Africa. Youth, Health and AIDS." This morning the Holy Father's special envoy to those celebrations, Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry, opened the  meeting which traditionally precedes the world day.

  Archbishop Victor Tonye Bakot of Yaounde, Cameroon, president of the Cameroon Episcopal Conference, and President Paul Biya of Cameroon also addressed the assembly. Each day of the three-day meeting will look at the theme from a different perspective: pastoral, scientific-doctrinal and liturgical. Cardinal Lozano's talk was entitled "The Pastoral Ministry of Health. What Must Be." Tomorrow, February 10, participants will examine the AIDS problem from both spiritual and scientific angles, and will trace the programs laid out by the Universal Church to accompany those who have AIDS.

  Friday, February 11, liturgical feast of Our Lady of Lourdes and the World Day of the Sick, the participants, after a visit to Catholic hospitals in the area, will gather at the shrine in the afternoon for the Eucharistic celebration which will include the rite of the anointing of the sick.
.../WORLD DAY SICK/CAMEROON:LOZANO            VIS 20050209 (230)


VATICAN CITY, FEB 9, 2005 (VIS) - This afternoon Holy See Press Office Director Joaquin Navarro-Valls, released the following declaration to journalists: "This morning the Holy Father presided at the concelebration of Ash Wednesday Mass in his hospital room. Ashes blessed by the Holy Father were placed on him by the first of the concelebrants. John Paul II invited his personal physician, Dr. Renato Buzzonetti and the other doctors caring for him to the rite."


VATICAN CITY, FEB 9, 2005 (VIS) - At 10:30 today, Ash Wednesday, in St. Peter's Basilica, Cardinal James Francis Stafford, major penitentiary of the Apostolic Penitentiary, presided at the celebration of the Word in the name of Pope John Paul II.  This celebration, which took the place of the traditional Wednesday general audience, included a rite of introduction, the liturgy of the Word and homily, the blessing and distribution of ashes, the Lord's prayer and concluding rites.

  Cardinal Stafford, in his homily, spoke of "the joy and honor of presiding this ceremony in the Holy Father's name. We feel his spiritual presence among us and we think of him with affection and ask the Lord to give him the graces necessary for the charism of his primacy in confirming our brothers in the unity of the faith."

  Quoting today's first reading, he said that everyone is called "to the duty of conversion. Conversion is not an experience we can live alone: it is born principally ... from gathering for the liturgy." In the Gospel of Matthew, he continued, "Jesus indicates three ways to live conversion: almsgiving, that is, sharing; prayer, entrusting oneself to the Lord; and fasting, that is, the capacity to impose limits on oneself. For both fasting and prayer, Jesus insists on the interior aspect.. True prayer ... must arise from a heart that has decided to convert."

  Cardinal Stafford pointed out that the Apostle Paul "exhorted the Christians of Corinth to reconcile with God. Conversion is, in fact, reconciliation, vertical reconciliation with God ... to which must correspond horizontal conversion with one's brothers." He said that, "as major penitentiary I experience every day the beauty of the Sacrament of Penance, a gift of grace, a gift of life."

  "It is the book of our lives," added the cardinal, "that must give witness to the world that reconciliation, that is, peace, is possible. But there will be no peace without the indispensable attention to the poor" and the responsibility for this "lies principally in our consumer societies."

  "Lent this year," said the cardinal, "according to the Holy Father's invitation, emphasizes our essential rapport with the Eucharist. ... I would like to summarize in three points our Lenten commitment: 1. The liturgy of the Church ... is the first instrument of authentic evangelization; 2. On Sundays we rediscover the Eucharist;  and 3. With the Eucharist we rediscover the rapport between liturgy and life" which demands "resolute witnessing to true values: the family, personal honesty, commitments deriving from marriage, priestly celibacy and religious life ... without which there is no true spirit of poverty."
.../ASH WEDNESDAY/STAFFORD                VIS 20050209 (430)

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