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Thursday, January 31, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 31 JAN 2008 (VIS) - In the Holy See Press Office this morning, the First World Apostolic Congress on Mercy was presented. The congress is due to be held in Rome from 2 to 6 April.

  Participating in the press conference were Cardinal Christoph Schonborn O.P., archbishop of Vienna, Austria and president of the congress, Fr. Patrice Chocholski, co-ordinater general, and Mauro Parmeggiani, secretary general of the vicariate of Rome.

  It is a good sign, said Cardinal Schonborn, that the first world congress on mercy should open on 2 April, third anniversary of the death of John Paul II, because "that great and unforgettable Pope, from his boyhood on, remained fascinated by the secret of divine mercy. In the year 2002, at the inauguration of a magnificent shrine to divine mercy at Krakow-Lagiewniki, Poland, he said: 'There is no source of hope for human beings, save the mercy of God'".

  Hence "the congress in Rome must clearly show that mercy is the central core of the Christian message", the cardinal said. "This message promotes peace in the world, between peoples and religions. It helps people to discover the true face of God, but also the true face of man and of the Church.

  "Many believers", he added, "consider it a special sign that John Paul II died on the eve of Divine Mercy Sunday, which he himself had introduced during the Holy Year 2000, ... and which is closely associated with the figure of Faustina Kowalska, whom John Paul II proclaimed as a saint on 30 April of that same year".

  The archbishop of Vienna recalled how during the saint's life (1905-1938) the message of divine mercy was "a special support and an inexhaustible source of hope ... for all the Polish people. This message is more necessary than ever in our own times, as the daily news constantly confirms".

  "In 2004 John Paul II appealed to the entire Church to be 'witness to mercy'", said the cardinal. "While at the Regina Coeli prayer on 3 April 2005 he would have said: 'Love changes hearts and brings peace. How great is the need for mercy in the world'. Death prevented that great Pope from pronouncing those words, but the message has lost none of its validity or relevance".

  Cardinal Schonborn concluded: "The message of John Paul II and of Faustina Kowalska is not some abstract principle, it has a name and a face: Jesus. ... "Looking to Christ', that is the heritage of John Paul II, it was also the theme of Benedict XVI's visit to Austria last year, and will be the nucleus of the First World Apostolic Congress on Mercy".
OP/CONGRESS:MERCY/SCHONBORN                VIS 20080131 (460)

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