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Sunday, April 3, 2005


VATICAN CITY, APR 3, 2005 (VIS) - At the end of the Mass this morning in St. Peter's Square for the repose of the soul of Pope John Paul II, presided over by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the substitute of the Secretariat of State, Archbishop Leonardo Sandri, before reciting the Easter time prayer, the Regina Coeli, read a text that the Holy Father had previously prepared for the occasion of the solemnity of Divine Mercy which is celebrated on the Second Sunday of Easter.

  In that text, John Paul II highlighted today's celebration of Divine Mercy Sunday, underlining the Gospel story where the Risen Christ appeared to the Apostles "'and showed them His hands and His side', that is, the signs of the painful passion impressed in an indelible way on His body even after the Resurrection. Those glorious wounds, that He made an incredulous Thomas touch eight days later, reveal God's mercy Who 'so loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son'."

  "To all of mankind," continued the text, "who so often seems lost and dominated by the power of evil, egoism and fear, the Risen Lord offers as a gift His love which pardons, reconciles and opens the soul again to hope. It is a love that converts hearts and gives peace. How the world  needs to understand and welcome Divine Mercy!

  "Lord, Who with Your death and Resurrection revealed the Father's love, we believe in You and with trust we repeat today: Jesus, I trust in You, have mercy on us and on the entire world."

  "May the liturgical solemnity of the Annunciation, which we will celebrate tomorrow," the Holy Father's reflections concluded, "encourage us to contemplate with the eyes of Mary the immense mystery of this merciful love that bursts forth from the heart of Christ."
ANG/DIVINE MERCY/SANDRI                    VIS 20050403 (280)


VATICAN CITY, APR 3, 2005 (VIS) - At 10.30 today, Divine Mercy Sunday, before hundreds of thousands of people who filled St Peter's Square, Via della Conciliazione and adjacent streets, Cardinal Angelo Sodano presided at a Eucharistic concelebration for the repose of the soul of John Paul II, who died yesterday evening at 9.37.

  In his homily, Cardinal Sodano spoke of the pain over the loss of "our father and pastor, John Paul II," but emphasized that for 26 years he had "always called us to look to Christ, the only reason for our hope."

  "For more than a quarter of a century he has taken the Gospel of Christian hope to all the squares of the world, teaching everyone that our death is nothing more than a passage to our homeland in heaven. There our eternal destiny lies, where God our Father awaits us."

  The cardinal indicated how "this is our faith, this is the faith of Christians. Our pain is immediately transformed into an attitude of profound serenity. I too was a witness to such serenity, standing in prayer before the Holy Father's bed in his final moments, the serenity of the saints, the serenity that comes from God."

  "As today we weep for the death of the Pope who has left us, we open our hearts to the vision of our eternal destiny. ... We know that, though we are sinners, we are accompanied by the mercy of God the Father who awaits us. This is the sense of today's Feast of Divine Mercy, established by the dear departed Pope John Paul II himself, as one of the legacies of his pontificate, to underline this most consoling aspect of the Christian mystery."

  "This Sunday, it would be moving to re-read one of the most beautiful Encyclicals, 'Dives in misericordia', written in 1980, the third year of his pontificate." In that document, said the cardinal, John Paul II "invites us to look to the Father Who is 'merciful and is God of all comfort, who consoles us in all our afflictions'," and to "Mary, Mother of Mercy."

  Cardinal Sodano highlighted the many times the Pope has repeated over the years "that mutual relations between men and between peoples cannot be based only on justice, but must be perfected by merciful love which is typical of the Christian message. For this reason John Paul II led the Church of the third Christian millennium to be a new Good Samaritan on the paths of the world, on the roads of a world still shaken by fratricidal wars. In this way, the Pope became the cantor of the civilization of love, seeing in that term one of the most beautiful definitions of 'Christian civilization.' Yes, Christian civilization is the civilization of love, radically different from those civilizations of hatred which, in the 20th century, were the consequence of so many ideologies."

  May the Pope, "from heaven, watch over us always and help us to 'cross that threshold of hope' about which he spoke to us so much. May this his message always remain engraved in the hearts of the men and women of today. John Paul II repeats once more the words of Christ: 'the Son of Man came into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him'."

  Cardinal Sodano recalled that John Paul II "spread this Gospel of hope in the world, calling all the Church to embrace the men and women of today, to raise them up with redeeming love. Let it be our task to take up the message of he who has left us and bring it to fruit for the salvation of the world."

  "And to our unforgettable Father," he concluded, "we say with the words of the liturgy: 'May the angels lead you to Paradise! In Paradisum deducant te Angeli!' May a joyous chorus welcome you and lead you to the Holy City, the heavenly Jerusalem, that you may find eternal rest. Amen!"
.../MASS REPOSE SOUL POPE/SODANO                    VIS 20050403 (690)


VATICAN CITY, APR 3, 2005 (VIS) - The following statement was released yesterday by Joaquin Navarro-Valls, Holy See Press Office  Director, on the arrest and detention of Catholic clergy in China:

  "News is arriving that on Wednesday March 30, 2005, Fr. Thomas Zhao Kexiun of the diocese of Xuanhua in the province of Hebei, China, was detained by the police as he returned from a funeral. His whereabouts are not known, nor is the reason for his detention.

  "The bishop of the same diocese, the 85-year-old Philip Peter Zhao Zhendong was arrested on January 3, 2005, and is being held in the city of Jiangjiakou.

  "On Palm Sunday March 20, 2005, the national security forces took the 86-year-old Bishop Giacomo Lin Xili of Wenzhou in the province of Zhejiang. The reason for his arrest is unknown.

  "Also in the diocese of Wenzhou, two days later, Mr. Gao Xinyou, a collaborator in the pastoral care of the laity in the area of Longgang, was arrested."


VATICAN CITY, APR 3, 2005 (VIS) - This morning Holy See Press Office Director Joaquin Navarro-Valls released the following statement to journalists:

  "The procedures foreseen by the Apostolic Constitution "Universi Dominici gregis" by John Paul II on the occasion of the death of a Supreme Pontiff, are underway in the Vatican.

  "Ascertainment of Death. This morning at 9.30, the rite of ascertainment of the death of John Paul II (Universi Dominici gregis, 17) took place. Cardinal Eduardo Martinez Somalo, Cardinal Camerlengo and Archbishop Paolo Sardi, vice Camerlengo, Archbishop Piero Marini, master of Papal Liturgical Celebrations, and the Cleric Prelates of the Apostolic Camera went into the apartment of the deceased pontiff with Dr. Renato Buzzonetti, the Pope's personal physician, to proceed with the ascertainment of death, according to the rite of  "Ordo Exsequiarum Romani Pontifici."

  "The Chancellor Secretary of the Apostolic Camera, Enrico Serafini, then prepared the official death certificate, attached to the medical certificate of Dr. Renato Buzzonetti.

  "Exposition of the Body in the Apostolic Palace. At 12:30 the Cardinal Camerlengo will preside at a celebration to start the visits to the body of John Paul laid out in the Clementine Hall for the homage and prayers of members of the Roman Curia, civil and religious authorities and members of the Diplomatic Corps. Visits will end at 4 p.m.

  "Transfer of the body to the Vatican Basilica for homage by all the faithful. The hour of the transfer of the body will be decided by the first congregation of Cardinals which will be held tomorrow morning at 10:30 in the Bologna Hall. As previously announced, it is expected that the transfer will take place about 5 p.m."

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