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Thursday, September 30, 2004


VATICAN CITY, SEP 30, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

- Appointed Fr. Dominique Nguyen Chu Trinh, pastor of the cathedral and vicar general of the diocese of Xuan Loc, as bishop of Xuan Loc (area 8,414, population 3,034,920, Catholics 954,368, priests 329, religious 2,103), Vietnam.  The bishop-elect was born in 1940 in Phu Nhai, Vietnam and was ordained a priest in 1966. He succeeds Bishop Paul Marie Nguyen Minh Nhat whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese was accepted upon having reached the age limit.

- Accepted the resignation form the office of coadjutor of the diocese of Palmerston North, New Zealand, presented by Bishop Owen John Dolan upon having reached the age limit.
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VATICAN CITY, SEP 29, 2004 (VIS) - On Wednesday afternoon, September 29, the Holy Father received six prelates from the Episcopal Conference of Colombia on their "ad limina" visit:

- Archbishop Flavio Calle Zapata of Ibague.

- Bishop Carlos Prada Sanmiguel of Duitama-Sogamoso.

- Bishop Jose Vicente Huertas Vargas of Garagoa.

- Bishop Jose Alberto Rozo Gutierrez, S.M.M. apostolic vicar of Puerto Gaitan.

- Bishop Jose de Jesus Quintero Diaz, apostolic vicar of Leticia.

- Bishop Jose Gustavio Angel Ramirez,  M.X.Y, apostolic vicar of Mitu.
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VATICAN CITY, SEP 30, 2004 (VIS) - Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, secretary for the Holy See's Relations with States, yesterday spoke at the general debate of the 59th session of the United Nations General Assembly, noting this is the first time the Holy See has done so "since the Resolution of last July 1 which formalized and specified the rights and prerogatives of its status as a Permanent Observer, a status which the Holy See has enjoyed since 1964."

  He focussed his talk on the Holy See position on several of the themes on the agenda of the General Assembly.

  On the topic of poverty and development, he remarked that this "affects the right to subsistence of hundreds of millions of human beings, surviving - as best they can - below the threshold of what is necessary, as well as tens of millions of undernourished children unjustly deprived of the right to live." He added that the world "must find a lasting solution to these inhumane conditions, … progressing, under the aegis of the U.N. towards a more flexible and more just international trade system."

  For peace to occur in the world, continued the archbishop, there must be total and general disarmament. "The problem of weapons of mass destruction is clearly to be distinguished from that of conventional weapons; but the latter have a terrible and unending contemporary relevance in the numerous armed conflicts that stain the world with blood, and also in terrorism."

  On the theme of regional armed conflicts, Archbishop Lajolo highlighted the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Iraq conflict and various African countries.

   "The Catholic Church," he said of the Middle East, "present in Palestine for 2,000 years, invites everyone to turn their backs on any action likely to destroy confidence, and to utter generous words of peace and make bold gestures of peace.  And if peace is the fruit of justice, let it not be forgotten … that there can be no justice without forgiveness. Indeed, without mutual forgiveness. This clearly requires greater moral courage than the use of arms."

   On Iraq, the archbishop affirmed that "the Holy See believes it is now imperative to support the present Government in its efforts to bring the country to normality and to a political system that is substantially democratic and in harmony with the values of its historic traditions."

  He underscored how the African countries of Sudan, Somalia, those in the Great Lakes region and the Ivory coast are "scarred by bloodshed arising from mutual conflicts and even more from internal strife. They need active international solidarity, … and the African Union needs to intervene authoritatively so as to bring all legitimate interested parties around a negotiating table."

  "I have mentioned," said the archbishop, "the theme of terrorism, an aberrant phenomenon, utterly unworthy of man, which has already assumed global dimensions: today no State can presume to be safe from it.  Hence, without prejudice to the right and duty of each State to implement just measures to protect its citizens and its institutions, it seems obvious that terrorism can only be effectively challenged through a concerted multilateral approach, respecting the 'ius gentium', and not through the politics of unilateralism."

  Concluding remarks were dedicated to the theme of fundamental human rights, foremost among which is the right to life and that of freedom of religion. Archbishop Lajolo said that "in reality, such fundamental human rights stand or fall together. And man stands or falls with them.  For this reason - in the view of the Holy See - every effort has to be made to defend them in all fields. For this to happen, one particular danger must be avoided, which is found today in various countries and social settings. It is the idea that these fundamental human rights, as sanctioned by the (1948) Universal Declaration (of Human Rights), are expressions of a particular culture and are therefore highly relative."
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VATICAN CITY, SEP 30, 2004 (VIS) - Made public today was Pope John Paul's Letter, written in Latin and dated August 6, to Cardinal Jozef Tomko, president of the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses, who is the pontifical legate to the concluding celebrations of the 48th International Eucharistic Congress which will take place in Guadalajara, Mexico from October 10 to 17.   

  Joining Cardinal Tomko as members of the pontifical mission will be: Msgrs. Leopoldo Gonzalez Gonzalez of the archdiocese of Guadalajara, a member of the Board of Directors of Valle de Atemajac University in Zapopan, Jalisco, and Luis Miguel Munoz Cardaba, secretary at the apostolic nunciature in Mexico; Father Victor Antonio Garcia, M.Sp.S, rector of St. Philip's Church in Mexico City, and Dr. Jesus Carlos Camarena Martinez of the archdiocese of Guadalajara.

  Cardinal Tomko, who was appointed as legate on July 3, 2004, will be in Mexico as of October 5. He will participate in the October 6-8 theological symposium on the Eucharist that precedes the International Eucharistic Congress.


VATICAN CITY, SEP 30, 2004 (VIS) - This morning the Pope received Ion Iliescu, president of Romania, on the occasion of his visit to Rome to inaugurate an exhibit this afternoon in the Vatican Museums, "Stephen the Great, Bridge between East and West."

  John Paul II said that the meeting with the president allowed him to recall his visit to Romania in 1999 "with emotion and gratitude. As a pilgrim of faith and hope, I was welcomed enthusiastically by you and the authorities of the state, His Beatitude, Patriarch Teoctist and by the entire people of the venerable Romanian Orthodox Church. I received an especially fraternal embrace from the bishops and the beloved Catholic communities, of both the Byzantine and Latin rites."

  The Holy Father expressed "an affectionate wish for prosperity and peace" to the president, his associates and to the entire nation of Romania.
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VATICAN CITY, SEP 30, 2004 (VIS) - "With pleasure I greet you, and those accompanying you, as you come to the Vatican, and I thank you for the kind sentiments you have expressed on behalf of the people of your nation," John Paul II told Pervez Musharraf, the president of Pakistan, during an audience this morning.

  "In these times of turmoil and violence," the Pope added, "I encourage you and your fellow citizens to continue to foster a spirit of dialogue and tolerance in your region. It is only by acknowledging the need for mutual understanding among peoples, through a frank and open exchange of ideas, that the world can obtain authentic justice and peace. Upon you and all the people of Pakistan I cordially invoke the abundant blessings of Almighty God."
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VATICAN CITY, SEP 30, 2004 (VIS) - This morning John Paul II received prelates from the ecclesiastic provinces of Bogota, Bucaramanga, Ibague, Nueva Pamplona, Tunja and the recently-erected province of Villavicencio, at the end of their "ad limina" visit. 

  The Pope said that the bishops rely on "certain decisive factors in order to carry out the work of evangelization, such as the growing number of vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life, the widespread presence of religious institutions, and the existence of many centers of study and formation. All of this shows the depth of the Christian faith in the country and the dynamism of the apostolic commitment."

  Referring to "the increase in moral deterioration," as the Colombian prelates had highlighted in their talks, the Holy Father said this is "present in many different forms and affects the most varied areas of personal, family and social life, thereby undermining the intrinsic importance of moral conduct and putting the authenticity of faith in serious danger. … It is a phenomenon which is a result, in part, of ideologies that deny human beings the capacity to clearly know what is right and to put it into practice. … It is a challenge of great importance that implies distinct lines of pastoral action with Jesus a role model."

  "Proclaiming justice, truth, fidelity and love of one's neighbor, in all their specific implications," he assured them, "is inherent to announcing the Gospel in its entirety. … This teaching, complete and in full agreement with the moral doctrine of the Church, will be much more fruitful if it is united with personal example, constant unity with the faithful  and tireless courage."

  "Assuming one's own obligations is a necessary requirement for affirming the true dignity of the person, which generates interior peace and then extends to one's surroundings, especially to institutions, when they are founded on an authentic spirit of service for the common good, and when they are administered with the criteria of equality, justice, honesty and truth."

  John Paul II went on: "The need for organized Christian initiation, tailored to the cultural conditions of our times and to each place, … is a priority, especially where the social climate does not promote the faith or where the channels of transmission or development - such as the family, school and the Christian community itself - break down."

  Before concluding, the Holy Father encouraged the bishops in the face of the "difficult situation that Colombia is facing," due to the continuous "attacks on life, freedom and the dignity of persons," as well as an increase in the number of kidnappings that "shows, once again, the perversion which human baseness can reach when the moral perspective is lost in the interests of evil and when the most fundamental rights of man are not respected.  In Colombia, many of these evils find their origin in drug trafficking, with ramifications in many sectors and which has afflicted the nation for years and had numerous negative consequences in all spheres of society."

  "In light of these facts," he concluded, "I share your pain and I appreciate all your efforts to stop violence, eliminate the causes and minimize its effects, while paying attention to the victims and tirelessly encouraging those who want to abandon the language of arms in order to take up the path of peaceful dialogue."
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Wednesday, September 29, 2004


VATICAN CITY, SEP 29, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed:

- Bishop Anuar Battisti of Toledo, Brazil, as metropolitan archbishop of Maringa (area 6,325, population 582,191, Catholics 403,369, priests 59, permanent deacons 13, religious 158), Brazil. Archbishop-elect Battisti was born in Lajeado, Brazil in 1953 and was ordained a priest in 1980.

- Bishop Vincent Barwa of Purnea, India as auxiliary of the archdiocese of Ranchi (area 5,299, population 2,796,892, Catholics 115,201, priests 183, religious 945), India.
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VATICAN CITY, SEP 29, 2004 (VIS) - It was announced today by Archbishop John Foley, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, that the theme chosen by Pope John Paul II for the 2005 World Communications Day is: "The Communications Media: At the Service of Understanding between Peoples."

  The announcement of the theme is traditionally made on September 29, the Feast of the Archangels Michael, Raphael and Gabriel, the latter having been designated as the patron of those who work in radio.

  Archbishop Foley said in a communique that this theme "reflects the Pope's desire that the media contribute to an authentic dialogue and mutual comprehension among peoples, leading to understanding, to justice and to an enduring peace." Among the responsibilities of this council is the preparation of study materials on the theme for distribution to bishops' conferences.

  "World Communications Day," underscored Archbishop Foley, "is the only worldwide celebration called for by the Second Vatican Council" as outlined in the document "Inter Mirifica" of 1963. "It is celebrated in most countries, on the recommendation of the bishops of the world, on the Sunday before Pentecost" which next year is May 8.

  He notes that "the Holy Father's message for World Communications Day is published every year on January 24, the memorial of St. Francis de Sales, patron of writers, to allow bishops' conferences and diocesan offices sufficient lime to prepare audiovisual and other materials for national and local celebrations."


VATICAN CITY, SEP 29, 2004 (VIS) - Made public today was the Pope's Message  for the World Day of the Sick which will take place on February 11, 2005 and whose theme is, "Christ, hope for Africa."  The main celebration will take place at the Shrine of Our Lady, Queen of Apostles in Yaounde, Cameroon.

  In the message, dated September 8, the Pope says that the conflicts and wars in many parts of Africa "make intervention to prevent and cure the diseases that devastate the continent very difficult."

  "I encourage those who are able to dedicate themselves to stopping these tragedies. I remind those responsible for selling arms of what I have written: 'Those who perpetuate the wars in Africa through arms trafficking are accomplices to hateful crimes against humanity'."

  Referring to the specific problem of AIDS, John Paul II recalls that "in order to fight  it in a responsible way, prevention must be increased through education on life issues and the proper view of sexuality." In this way, he emphasizes, sexually-transmitted infections can be avoided "especially through responsible behavior and the observance of the virtue of chastity."

  The Pope focuses on the duty of the government and civil authorities to provide accurate information about AIDS and to invest in the education of young people and health care. After praising the "pharmaceutical industries that are committed to keeping the cost of drugs low," the Holy Father recalls "with admiration the numerous health care workers, religious helpers and volunteers, who, like good Samaritans, spend their lives caring for AIDS victims and their families."

  "The celebration of the World Day of the Sick," he writes, "offers us all the possibility to understand better the importance of pastoral health care. … It is precisely in the moment of illness that one urgently needs to find appropriate answers to the deepest questions regarding man's life: questions on the meaning of pain, suffering and death, considered not only as a mystery which must be confronted with strength but as a mystery in which Christ incorporates our life to Him."
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VATICAN CITY, SEP 29, 2004 (VIS) - In today's general audience, which took place in St. Peter's Square, the Pope spoke about Psalm 44, "The king's wedding feast," which is a poem in honor of the Jewish sovereign, composed by a scribe.

  John Paul II explained that according to Jewish tradition this text "is a hymn to the Messiah-King. Christian tradition, however, reads the passage in a Christological light, and, with the queen's presence, also in a mariological perspective."

  "The profile of the royal bridegroom," he continued, "is introduced to us in a solemn way," highlighting his "beauty, a sign of interior splendor and divine blessing: 'You are the fairest of the sons of men.' Based on this verse, Christian tradition represented Christ in the form of a perfect and fascinating man. In a world marked frequently by the ugliness of sin, this image is an invitation to renew the 'via pulchritudinis' in the faith, in theology and in society and to begin our ascent towards divine perfection."

  The Holy Father indicated that in the text the "relationship between beauty and justice is highlighted. … Beauty must be joined with goodness and holiness of life so that the face of God who is good, admirable and just, may shine brightly."

  "The Letter to the Hebrews," he concluded, "applying the psalm to Christ, does not hesitate to recognize the divine plenitude, which is not merely symbolic, of the Son of God who enters into His glory."

  Addressing his fellow Poles at the end of the audience, the Pope greeted in a special way the participants in a pilgrimage of the Solidarity movement. "This movement, born in Poland, opened up the doors to freedom in many countries in Europe. I am happy because the spirit of 'Solidarity' continues to unite so many people in our country.  I hope that this healthy spirit may also penetrate a united Europe."
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VATICAN CITY, SEP 29, 2004 (VIS) - Joaquin Navarro-Valls, director of the Holy See Press Office, said in a statement to journalists last evening, following the release in Iraq of  the two Italian women who had been kidnapped on September 7 as they worked as volunteers in that country: "The Pope learned with great joy the news of the release of the two Italian women volunteers. His thoughts also went to their families and, together with them and with all other people of good will, thanks God for this humane gesture."


VATICAN CITY, SEP 29, 2004 (VIS) - Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, dean of the College of Cardinals, presided at Mass last evening in St. Peter's Basilica at the Altar of the Chair for the deceased pontiffs, Paul VI and John Paul I. He focused his homily on love and truth, calling them "the two poles of the mission entrusted to the successors of Peter."

  "Guiding the flock of Christ and loving the Lord are the same thing," he said. "It is love of Christ that guides the sheep on the straight path and builds the Church." He said this was at the center of Pope Paul's vision of Vatican Council II and of the primacy of the Pope: "All of us at the feet of Christ, to serve Christ, to serve the Gospel: The essence of Christianity is Christ - not a doctrine, but a person, and evangelizing is leading in friendship with Christ - to communion with the Lord Who is the true light of our lives."

  Cardinal Ratzinger said that papal primacy "in its most intimate essence is not the exercise of power but is 'carrying the weight of others', it is the responsibility of love. And love is precisely the opposite of indifference with respect to others. ... The love of Christ is love for the poor, the suffering. We know well that our Popes have been committed strongly against injustice, and for the rights of the oppressed, the powerless."

  "Love would be blind without truth," the cardinal stated. He noted that "the prayer after communion asks the Lord to allow the Supreme Pontiffs, His servants, 'to enter into full possession of the truth, in which, with apostolic courage, they confirm their brothers'.  ... Paul VI and John Paul I confirmed, 'with apostolic courage', their brothers. At a time where we see Satan 'sift through' the disciples of Christ 'like a grain, the imperturbable faith of the Popes was the visible rock on which the Church sits."
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Tuesday, September 28, 2004


VATICAN CITY, SEP 28,  2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father received today in separate audiences four prelates from the Episcopal Conference of Colombia on their "ad limina" visit:

     - Bishop Abraham Escudero Montoya of Espinal.

     - Bishop Fabio Sueschn Mutis, military ordinary.

    - Bishop Antonio Bayter Abud, apostolic vicar of Inirida.

    - Bishop Eulises Gonzalez Sanchez, apostolic vicar  of San Andres and Providencia.

  Yesterday afternoon the Holy Father received four prelates from the Episcopal Conference of Colombia on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop Misael Vacca Ramirez of Yopal.

    - Bishop Luis Felipe Sanchez Aponte of Chiquinquira.

    - Bishop Francisco Javier Munera Correa, apostolic vicar of San Vicente-Puerto Leguizamo.

    - Bishop Hector Javier Pizarro Acevedo, apostolic vicar of Trinidad.
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VATICAN CITY, SEP 28, 2004 (VIS) - The following communique was released by the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum" yesterday afternoon announcing that $100,000 has been sent by Cor Unum in the name of the Holy Father to the people of Haiti who were struck by hurricane Jeanne:

   "As is well known, Haiti has been struck by the disastrous hurricane Jeanne, which till now has claimed over 2,000 victims in the region of Artibonite, and the regional capital of Gonaives and causing irreparable agricultural damage. There were also victims and damage in the northwest area of Port-de-Paix. The numbers are still approximate: some areas are only reachable by helicopter. In Gonaives, the water did not even spare a dispensary for AIDS patients, killing a missionary as well as his patients; 80% of all houses were destroyed and 250,000 people have been left homeless.

  "Exactly four months ago, the tremendous flood of Rio Soleil devastated Haiti and the Dominican Republic. In Haiti alone the disaster caused more than 1,500 deaths. For this reason, the Pope sent Archbishop Paul Josef Cordes, president of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum" to the site on June 22-25 in order to bring a message of hope and an economic contribution for rebuilding.

  "Today, the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, in contact with the Haitian Episcopal Conference, and in response to the needs expressed by the local Caritas office, is sending $100,000 in the Holy Father's name in order to buy basic necessities: potable water, food and medicine."
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VATICAN CITY, SEP 28, 2004 (VIS) - According to a communique from the Office of the Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff, on Sunday, October 3, at 10 a.m. in St. Peter's Square, Pope John Paul will preside at a Eucharistic celebration during which he will proclaim as Blesseds the following Servants of God:

Pierre Vigne, priest, founder of the Congregation of Sisters of the Most Holy Sacrament;

Joseph-Marie Cassant, priest, monk of the Reformed Cistercian Order;

Anna Katharina Emmerick, virgin of the order of Regular Canonesses of St. Augustine;

Maria Ludovica De Angelis, virgin, of the Congregation of the Daughters of Our Lady of Mercy of Savona;

Charles of Austria, Emperor and King.

   "In the life of the five new Blesseds," adds the communique, "the centrality of the Eucharistic mystery is seen as a source of charity and of the Church's mission. Their witness is an invitation for all the faithful to start the Year of the Eucharist with joy and commitment."
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VATICAN CITY, SEP 28, 2004 (VIS) - Published today was the theme of the Holy Father's Message for the 38th World Day of Peace which will take place on January 1, 2005: "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil by good."

  According to a communique, the theme "seeks to solicit awareness of evil as the cause and source of conflicts and wars, and at the same time, of the inseparable link between moral good and peace. Peace is, in fact, a good that comes as the fruit of inspired choices for good and oriented toward good." The message emphasizes "behavior which leads to the exercise of personal and collective responsibility which has the special characteristic of looking for good."

  "The will to seek out good and avoid evil must take into account the numerous social and economic problems that weigh on the lives of peoples - inequality, poverty, wide-spread injustice, insecurity - in order to find a solution inspired by justice and solidarity."
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VATICAN CITY, SEP 28, 2004 (VIS) - As is tradition before leaving his summer residence in Castelgandolfo and returning to the Vatican, this morning the Pope thanked the mayor and officials of the city, as well as the security staff for their service throughout his stay.

  The Holy Father said that after having spent some "peaceful and restful" days, he was now returning to the Vatican, "comforted by your spiritual closeness and prayer. For this, I sincerely thank you, also on behalf of my collaborators."

  Later, when addressing the police officers and carabineri, John Paul II expressed his "esteem and appreciation for the generous and faithful service in keeping order and security. I thank you for having contributed to my serene and peaceful stay in this beautiful town. I hope you will always be witnesses to the values of justice, loyalty and a spirit of sacrifice which find their deepest source in love for God and for one's neighbor."

  The Pope is scheduled to return to Rome tomorrow morning at 9 a.m.
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Monday, September 27, 2004


VATICAN CITY, SEP 27, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Fr. Jean-Pierre Grallet, O.F.M., superior of the Convent of Franciscan Friars Minor of Strasbourg, France, as auxiliary of the same archdiocese (area 8,280, population 1,713,416, Catholics 1,300,000, priests 907, permanent deacons 50, religious 2,146).  The bishop-elect was born in Rozelieures in Lorena, France in 1941 and was ordained a priest in 1969.

  On Saturday, September 25, it was announced that the Holy Father appointed Msgrs. Kenneth E. Boccafola and Josef Huber and Fr. Giuseppe Urru, O.P., as judges for the Court of Appeals of  Vatican City State.
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VATICAN CITY, SEP 27, 2004 (VIS) - Today the Holy Father received in separate audiences two prelates of the Episcopal Conference of Colombia on their "ad limina" visit:

 - Archbishop Luis Augusto Castro Quiroga of Tunga.

 - Bishop Jorge Enrique Jimenez Carvajal of Cartagena.

  On Saturday September 25, the Holy Father received in audience six prelates from the Episcopal Conference of Colombia on their "ad limina" visit:

 - Archbishop Victor Manuel Lopez Forero of Bucaramanga, accompanied by Bishop Juan Vicente Cordoba Villota.

- Bishop Jaime Prieto Amaya of Barrancabermeja.

- Bishop Dario de Jesus Monsalve Mejia of Malaga-Soata.

- Bishop Ismael Rueda Sierra of Socorro y San Gil.

- Bishop Luis Albero Cortes Rendon of Velez.
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CARDINAL JEAN-LOUIS TAURAN, LIBRARAN and Archivist of Holy Roman Church, delivered the homily at a solemn Mass in St. Stephen's Cathedral In Vienna, Austria on September 17 on the occasion of the 48th International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) General Conference. In that homily, published today, the cardinal told the representatives and members of the specialized agencies of the United Nations Organization in Vienna, that they "have a special vocation - namely, to proclaim that peace is possible! ... As Christians and by vocation we witness to peace by condemning all types of violence; by disavowing the ideologies that sustain it and the political systems that promote it; by eliminating violence from all walks of life. Violence is the imposition of one's own judgment, not tempering one's own right with charity. Violence is the exclusion of the weakest and the least gifted, as well as the promotion of a vindictive spirit. ... In the merciless world we have constructed, Christians are called to exercise what I dare to call 'the power of the heart'. ... In this enormous task, Christians can count on the help of believers of other religions. More than ever, especially in today's international context, it is extremely urgent to give witness, through concrete gestures, that the great religions are factors of and for peace, and not war."

MSGR. LEO BOCCARDI, RESIDENT REPRESENTATIVE AT THE 48TH IAEA General Conference, which took place in Vienna September 20 to 24, addressed the assembly on September 22. In his address in English, published today, the Holy See representative said "the acts of violence recently perpetrated in Russia and in other parts of the world gravely offend all humanity. The continued violations of human dignity and the innocent victims of terrorism draw the attention of all to the need to face the causes which underlie such a modern form of barbarism and to deal with them effectively. We must also continue to believe in dialogue as essential to establishing peace and security." He underscored the "continued threats to peace and stability due to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction," or WMD. He also noted the warnings that nuclear proliferation is on the rise, that there are countries interested in the illicit acquisition of WMD and the "risk that terrorists will gain access to such materials and technology." Highlighting the rising insecurity in the Middle East, especially in the Holy Land and Iraq, he stressed the need to promote "the peaceful applications of nuclear technologies" as they "can make a significant contribution to responding to the most urgent concerns" such as managing drinking water supplies, crops, fighting malnutrition, treating disease and giving a greater salt tolerance in arid climates.
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VATICAN CITY, SEP 27, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received officials of the Department of Prison Administration, the inspector general of chaplains and a number of female police officers assigned to women's prisons who have just concluded a year of formation.

  "I have learned with delight," he told the new agents, "that during the course you demonstrated a laudable commitment, achieving encouraging results. I congratulate you and take this occasion to make a suggestion: Always take care of your spiritual life. In fact, your work calls for a solid human maturity that allows you to wed firmness with attention to the individual. To this end, being women certainly helps you, as you have those qualities proper to women that have such a positive effect on interpersonal relations."

  John Paul II noted that "by a happy coincidence today, September 27 is the liturgical memory of St. Vincent de Paul, the great saint of charity. He personally suffered the harshness of prison, and he taught the 'Dames' and then the Daughters of Charity to pay special attention to that category of poor people called 'convicts'. He asked them to show understanding and to demand human treatment for prisoners."

  "The primary value of the human person," concluded the Pope, "must be the basis for all civil and professional ethics and of all relative formation. I am therefore happy to place your work under the protection of St. Vincent de Paul."
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VATICAN CITY, SEP 27, 2004 (VIS) - This morning the Holy Father gave the "Fidei testis" Award to Cardinal Kazimierz Swiatek, archbishop of Minsk-Mohilev, Belarus, upon whom, several days earlier the Paul VI Institute in Brescia, Italy had conferred the prize during a symposium held on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of its founding.

  The Pope said that this prize "is the most suitable for a Christian; and even more so for a pastor who is a cardinal, and one who gave faithful and brave testimony to Christ and His Gospel during the difficult years of the persecution of the Catholic Church in Eastern Europe."

  Shortly after your priestly ordination, continued the Pope, "Providence called you to take up the 'via crucis' of persecution, united to the passion of the Christian people entrusted to you, personally carrying the cross of prison, unjust condemnation and work camps with their burden of fatigue, cold and hunger." 

  Recalling the cardinal's words "I could only survive with the faith," John Paul II said, "The Lord gave you a strong and courageous faith in order to overcome that long and harsh trial, after which you returned to the ecclesiastic community as an even more credible witness of the Gospel: 'Fidei testis'."

  "With word and example," the Pope concluded, "you have announced to everybody, believers and non-believers alike, the truth of Christ, the light which illuminates every man."
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VATICAN CITY, SEP 26, 2004 (VIS) - Before returning to the Vatican on Wednesday, September 29, the Pope today expressed his gratitude to the director and employees of the pontifical villas at Castelgandolfo for their "commitment and fidelity" in carrying out their tasks.

  "As I return to the Vatican," he said, "I will take with me the memory of the peaceful and restful days which I spent at the villa, thanks to your help. I count on your prayers and, on my part, I assure you that I will always pray that the Lord may always accompany you with His help."
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VATICAN CITY, SEP 26, 2004 (VIS) - In remarks made today before praying the Angelus, the Pope decried the imbalance between the rich and poor of the world, and pointed to the Gospel of "the rich man who lived in opulence and did not care for the beggar lying outside his door and starving. But after death, the situation was reversed. Lazarus was welcomed into paradise whereas the rich men lived in torment."

  Addressing the faithful gathered in the courtyard of the apostolic palace at Castelgandolfo, the Holy Father said that "the lesson learned from this parable is clear: every person must make use of their own goods in an unselfish way, showing solidarity." He said this Gospel was appropriate because "in recent days there was an important meeting in New York of heads of State and government for a more efficacious and united action against hunger and poverty. Cardinal Angelo Sodano, secretary of State, spoke at the meeting, expressing the Holy See's adherence to this initiative."

  "The Catholic Church," the Pope stated, "assures everyone of its commitment to uproot from the world the scourge of hunger and the other consequences of this miserable state. In this context, I am pleased to remind you of the meeting in recent days in the Vatican of the apostolic nuncios in Africa."

  "Let us pray that the Lord sustains such efforts of the international community for justice and solidarity in development. This is, in fact, the path that will guarantee the world a future of peace."

  After praying the Angelus, John Paul II greeted the pilgrims present in five languages, reminding everyone that tomorrow the Church celebrates the liturgical memory of St. Vincent de Paul. He also noted the celebration on September 30 of World Maritime Day, organized by the United Nations, saying his "thoughts go to all who work at sea and I pray they may be able to live with dignity and security."
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VATICAN CITY, SEP 27, 2004 (VIS) - Made public today was a letter from the Holy Father, written in Latin and dated August 6, 2004, in which he appointed Cardinal Silvano Piovanelli, archbishop emeritus of Florence, Italy, as his special envoy to the celebration of the 17th centenary of the martyrdom of St. Benedict in San Benedetto del Tronto, Italy on October 3.

  Msgrs. Romualdo Scarponi, prelate of honor of His Holiness, vicar general of the diocese of San Benedetto del Tronto and pastor of St. Benedict the Martyr, and Giovanni Anelli, chaplain of His Holiness and penitentiary canonist of the Cathedral of San Benedetto del Tronto, will accompany the cardinal.


VATICAN CITY, SEP 25, 2004 (VIS) - Made public today was a message from the Pope to Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, special envoy to the Social Weeks of France, which were held from September 23 to 26 in Lille on the theme, "Europe, participating in building up a society to be invented."

  John Paul II writes that the centenary of the Social Weeks "is an occasion to discover once again the great tradition of the social Magisterium of the Church and the many saints that have characterized the European continent from the first centuries, saints such as Benedict, Cyril and Methodius, Boniface, Thomas More, the martyrs of Pontons de Rochefort, Edith Stein, Maximillian Kolbe, Brigid of Sweden; they all gave testimony that the Gospel and Christian values are a fertile terrain for the life of persons and peoples, as well as for building up society."

  After recalling that this year marks the 60th anniversary of the liberation of France, the Holy Father says that this date "brings us back to the scandal that wars represent."  These years, he continues, "have been characterized by many gestures of reconciliation and by the desire to make the continent a Europe of brothers and sisters."

  Referring to Europe, the Pope indicates that true integration, "in order to preserve all its richness, must preserves national cultures and identities, which are part of the common heritage and contribute to the growth of the entire continent."

  The Pope emphasizes that an opening between Eastern and Western Europe "invites Europeans to intensify the relation of cooperation between north and south, to block the scourges of misery, epidemics, all types of conflicts. In the face of these urgent matters, we are called to participate in a truly lasting development which goes through the channel of international cooperation founded on partnership and solidarity, and which is concerned with preserving the riches of the land and with making all peoples beneficiaries of the resources of the planet through just and equal distribution."

  "In this spirit," he concludes, "the presence of Christians in society constitutes a true testimony. … The commitment of Christians in politics is important.  I invite them not to flee from their mission in this field, always seeking coherence between the Gospel, divine and apostolic tradition, the Magisterium of the Church, and the options they choose and decisions they are called to make."
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VATICAN CITY, SEP 25, 2004 (VIS) - The pontifical representatives from Africa and Madagascar, who have been meeting in the Vatican for three days with officials from the secretariat of State and various congregations of the Roman Curia, were welcomed today to Castelgandolfo by the Holy Father. Cardinal Angelo Sodano, secretary of State, organized this meeting to mark the 10th anniversary of the Synod for Africa and the sixth anniversary of the post-synodal document "Ecclesia in Africa."

  The Pope began his talk to the diplomats by recalling Archbishop Michael Courtney,  apostolic nuncio in Burundi who was assassinated last December. "May his heroic witness infuse renewed vigor in everyone working for peace in Burundi and on the entire continent of Africa."

  "I know," said John Paul II, "that you undertake your service with zeal and fidelity, in the midst of difficult situations, sharing the sufferings and dramas of the Churches and peoples to whom you were sent." Expressing his gratitude for their work, he added: "Know that the Pope and the Roman Curia are close to you, as witnessed by this meeting of ours."

  He underscored that "the Church in Africa must deal with old and new problems but it is also open to great hopes." Your work, he added, "is to accompany the development of ecclesial communities, favoring the integral progress of society and, above all, of sustaining the 'encounter of cultures with Christ and His gospel'."

  "In all of your commitments, "concluded the Holy Father, "continue to be witnesses to communion, helping to overcome tensions and misunderstandings, to defeat the temptation to particularisms, to strengthen the sense of belonging to the one and undivided People of God."
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Friday, September 24, 2004


VATICAN CITY, SEP 24, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

- Five prelates from the Episcopal Conference of Colombia on their "ad limina" visit:

   - Archbishop Gustavo Martinez Frias of New Pamplona.

   - Bishop Carlos German Mesa Ruiz of Arauca.

    - Bishop Oscar Urbina Ortega of Cucuta.

    - Bishop Jorge Enrique Lozano Zafra of Ocana.

    - Bishop Camilo Fernando Castrellon Pizano of Tibu.

- Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
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VATICAN CITY, SEP 24, 2004 (VIS) - "Sports and Tourism: Two Living Forces for Mutual Understanding, Culture and the Development of Societies" is the theme of the 25th World Tourism Day, which is held annually on September 27 and is sponsored by the World Tourism Organization (WTO).

  A communique from the office of the Holy See Permanent Observer to the WTO, Msgr. Piero Monni, notes that "this year World Tourism Day falls during a particular time of international tension, due to the well-known events that interest several countries involved in warlike or semi-war activities.

  "Annual interest by governments and institutions in this growing world phenomenon," continues the note, "registered, in this current tourist period, a notable decrease of presences which can be attributed to the limited purchase power of the Euro and the widespread fear of possible terrorist acts. Notwithstanding these contingencies, man's desire for tourism has re-emerged in a significant way and people have not always allowed themselves to be intimidated by the above-mentioned negative factors and they have traveled to new countries, even if in smaller numbers and for less time."

  Entrance to the Vatican Museums and to the Vatican Historical Museum at St. John Lateran, concludes the communique, will be free on World Tourism Day, as will be some museums in other countries.
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VATICAN CITY, SEP 24, 2004 (VIS) - This morning the Holy Father received the participants in the General Chapter of the Institute of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate.

  After recalling the theme of the meeting, "Witness to hope," the Pope said that the presence of the Oblates, "driven by authentic religious and missionary fervor, must be a sign and seed of hope for those who meet you, in secular environments as well as places where the first announcement of the Gospel has not yet arrived."

  "I encourage you," he continued, "to persevere in the objectives that you have proposed, especially the objective of renewed fraternal union, according to the will of your holy founder, Eugene de Mazenod, who thought of the Institute as a family whose members form one heart and one soul." John Paul II indicated that "today you are present with more than 1000 communities in 67 countries, and this unity is a demanding challenge but an important one for humanity, called to proceed on the path of solidarity and diversity."

  The Pope expressed his appreciation for their reflection on "the profound changes that are characterizing the congregation, whose center of gravity is moving toward the poorest regions of the world. This significant fact leads you to update your formation, the distribution of persons, the forms of government and the communion of goods."

  "Make clear choices based on the priorities of your mission. Among the more important needs," he concluded, "is the permanent care of the spiritual life in order to constantly renew your fidelity to your original charism. Through the action of the Holy Spirit, God allows religious families to respond adequately to new challenges, using the specific gift which has been given to them."
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Thursday, September 23, 2004


VATICAN CITY, SEP 23, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience four prelates from the Episcopal Conference of Colombia on their "ad limina" visit:

- Bishop Jorge Alberto Ossa Soto of Florencia.

- Bishop Rigoberto Corredor Bermudez of Garzon.

- Bishop Ramon Dario Molina Jaramillo, O.F.M., of Neiva.

- Bishop Alvaro Efren Rincon Rojas, C.S.S.R., apostolic vicar of Puerto Carreño.
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VATICAN CITY, SEP 23, 2004 (VIS) - Pontifical representatives of Africa and Madagascar start a three-day meeting today in the Domus Sanctae Martha in the Vatican. The gathering was convened by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, secretary of State, six years after the first such meeting in March 1998 and ten years after the Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops.

  Archbishop Michael Courtney, apostolic nuncio in Burundi who was assassinated in December 2003, will be remembered during the meetings. According to a communique that was issued today, the assembly intends to express the spiritual closeness of John Paul II and the solidarity of the universal Church to the peoples and local Churches in Africa. It will respond to the urgent need - continuously mentioned by the Holy Father - not to abandon this continent so that, by using its many and abundant natural and human resources, it can overcome the serious evils that afflict it and become the protagonist of its own integral development.

  Joining the nuncios will be the cardinal secretary of State, the substitute for General Affairs, the secretary for Relations with States, and the heads of various dicasteries of the Roman Curia most directly interested in this area. There will be an exchange of information and participants will reflect on the political, social, economic, religious and ecclesial situation of the African continent and on the best ways to fulfill the delicate mission entrusted to them, a mission often marked by hardships and sacrifices.

  This morning Jacques Diouf, director general of the Food and Agricultural Organization, addressed the gathering. Participants will be welcomed by the Holy Father on September 25 in Castelgandolfo.
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VATICAN CITY, SEP 23, 2004 (VIS) - A communique from the Office of Liturgical Ceremonies of the Supreme Pontiff states that on Tuesday, September 28 at 6 p.m. there will be a Mass at the Altar of the Chair in St. Peter's Basilica for the repose of the souls of the deceased Popes, Paul VI and John Paul I. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, dean of the College of Cardinals, will preside at the Eucharistic celebration in the name of the Holy Father.
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VATICAN CITY, SEP 23, 2004 (VIS) - This morning at Castelgandolfo John Paul II received participants in the Congress of the Abbots and Priors of the Benedictine Confederation and the meeting of "Communio Internationalis Benedictarum."

  The Pope urged those present not to be discouraged "by the problems of our time" and he told them, "Stay faithful to your history. Our secularized world is in debt to you for the witness of your communities which put God at the center. Many bishops ask to have these vital spaces for encountering Our Lord in their dioceses. Through the liturgy, study and work, may you always be an example of Christian life, fully oriented toward God, respectful of man and creation."

  "I know," he said, "that you maintain contact with monks and nuns of every religion: these relations are very important and could be fruitful. I urge you to deepen ecumenical relations with our brothers and sisters in Eastern Europe. Monasticism is a natural platform for mutual understanding. This is extremely important at this moment in history for Europe to preserve its Christian roots."

  The Holy Father expressed his joy that "as a large Benedictine family, you are always discovering your common heritage. Follow in the footsteps of St. Benedict and St. Scholastica. 'Do not put anything before Christ.' Faithful to this rule of life, you will have a future full of God's blessings."
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Wednesday, September 22, 2004


VATICAN CITY, SEP 22, 2004 - Today the Holy Father received in audience Archbishop Mario Roberto Cassari, apostolic nuncio in the Ivory Coast, Niger, Burkina Faso.
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VATICAN CITY, SEP 22, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy See will once again participate in the celebrations of the European Patrimony Days, an initiative of the Council of Europe in which more than 40 countries on the continent take part. The celebrations this year will take place on Sunday, September 26 on the theme "Patrimonies from Afar. Patrimonies from Others."

  The Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Patrimony of the Church, the Vatican Museums and the Pontifical Commission of Sacred Archeology will collaborate in this event. On September 26, entrance to the Vatican Museums is free. A small exhibit in the Asian section of the Missionary-Ethnological Museum, currently closed for restoration, will be opened for one day only. It is entitled "The Missionary-Ethnological Museum Open for Restoration: A look at the gates of Asia."

 All catacombs in Rome that are normally open to the public will also be free of charge. The San Callisto Catacombs on the  Old Appian Way will inaugurate an exhibit entitled "At the origins of the Eucharist: Images and Signs between East and West."
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VATICAN CITY, SEP 22, 2004 (VIS) - The Commission for Migration and the European Directors for the Pastoral Care of Migrants of the Council of European Episcopal Conferences (CCEE) held their annual meeting at the diocesan pastoral center in Mechelen (Malines), Belgium, from September 17-19. Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, represented the Holy See.

  Also present were representatives from 24 bishops' conferences, the Commission of Bishops' Conferences of the European Community (COMECE), Caritas, the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC) and the Churches' Commission for Migrants in Europe (CCME). The theme of the meeting was the consequences of the enlargement of the European Union for the Church's pastoral care for migrants in Europe.

  On the first day, Archbishop Marchetto presented the Council's recent document on the Catholic Church's pastoral care for migrants, 'Erga Migrantes Caritas Christi', which was then discussed by participants in two language-groups.

  On September 18 there was an analysis of the policy of the European Union on asylum and refugees, where it emerged just how closely the Church can and does co-operate with civil society in this area. That same day, Father Beniamino Rossi, regional superior of the Scalabrini Fathers, offered a theological reflection on the issue of European Union migration policy and its consequences, and provided questions to guide the discussion that followed in language-groups.

  Sunday, September 19, participants approved a concluding statement which included recommendations that would be offered to the bishops of Europe.
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VATICAN CITY, SEP 22, 2004 (VIS) - The hymn of the second chapter of the first letter of St. Peter, "The voluntary passion of Christ, Servant of God," was the theme of the Pope's catechesis today during the general audience held in St. Peter's Square.

  John Paul II told the crowd of 13,000 people that this canticle "presents the face of the suffering Christ to us" and recalls the prayer of the early Church. "He bore our sins in His body…so that we would live for justice, not for sin. Through His wounds, we have been healed."

  "'He' is the patient Christ," the Pope continued, "He who committed no sin, He who was reviled, did not ask vendetta. ... It is He, Christ, who starts on the bitter path of the passion, without opposing injustice and violence, without recriminations or complaint, but giving Himself and His painful situation to 'the One Who judges with justice'. ... It is not, therefore, a blind and passive resignation but a courageous faith, destined to be an example for all his disciples who will go down the dark path of trial and persecution."

  The Holy Father highlighted that Christ "is presented as the Savior, uniting himself to us in His human 'body'. … He is and always will be the Son of God and His solidarity with us is radically transforming, liberating, purifying and saving."

  "In this way," he concluded, "our poor humanity, wounded by the twisted and perverse ways of evil, is guided toward 'justice,' the beautiful plan of God. The last sentence of the hymn is particularly moving: 'By His wounds we have been healed.'  We see here the great price Christ paid for our salvation."
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Tuesday, September 21, 2004


VATICAN CITY, SEP 21, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

- Appointed Msgr. Robert Anthony Daniels, vicar general of the diocese of London, Canada, as auxiliary bishop of the same diocese (area 21,349, population 1,507,230, Catholics 482,3131, priests 286, permanent deacons 3, religious 497). Bishop-elect Daniels was born in 1957 in Windsor, Ontario, Canada and was ordained a priest in 1983 for the diocese of London.

- Appointed Bishop Ndumbukuti Nashenda, O.M.I., auxiliary of the diocese of Windhoek, Namibia, as archbishop of the same archdiocese (area 560,158, population 1,700,000, Catholics 239,702, priests 46, permanent deacons 24, religious 271).
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VATICAN CITY, SEP 21, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

- Five prelates from the Colombian Episcopal Conference on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Archbishop Jose Octavio Ruiz Arenas of Villavicencio.

    - Bishop Jose Figueroa Gomez of Granada in Colombia.

    - Bishop Belarmino Correa Yepes, M.X.Y., of San Jose del Guaviare.

    - Bishop Daniel Caro Borda of Soacha.

    - Bishop Hector Cubillos Peña of Zipaquira.

- Archbishop Jozef Kowalczyk, apostolic nuncio in Poland.
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VATICAN CITY, SEP 21, 2004 (VIS) - Cardinal Angelo Sodano, secretary of State, is in New York where yesterday he addressed a meeting at the United Nations that is examining an initiative to fight hunger and poverty that has been promoted by the president of Brazil, with the support of many U.N. member nations. He expressed the support of the Holy See and "the personal adherence of Pope John Paul II to this important initiative."

  The cardinal noted the "vast humanitarian action of the many Catholic institutions in the world, especially in missions and in the poorest countries," saying that "the Holy See has always supported the many personal and collective initiatives that have been proposed to solve the drama" of hunger in the world. It has also supported, he added, initiatives proposed by U.N. bodies such as FAO, IFAD and the WFP.

  Highlighting the commitments made by governments to alleviate hunger and poverty in the 1996 Report of the World Food Summit and in the 2000 U.N. Millennium Declaration, Cardinal Sodano said that in his speech on this subject in 1996, he outlined the principles that inspire Holy See action: human dignity, solidarity, the universal destination of the goods of the earth and the promotion of peace.

  Notwithstanding a world alliance against hunger and poverty, he stated, "it was discovered bit by bit that there were not sufficient funds to finance a program of world food security." He recognized that there have been emergencies - wars and natural disasters - but added "the problem is far greater. The fight against hunger, and I would also say against thirst, goes beyond mere emergencies; this fight must face a series of complex factors such as, for example, the need to invest in the human capital of the local populations (in the fields of health and education) and to ask for the transfer of appropriate technologies and the guarantee of equality in international trade."

  Cardinal Sodano welcomed this new initiative and reminded "donor countries of their commitment to underwrite public aid for development equal to 0.7 percent of the GNP of each State."
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VATICAN CITY, SEP 21, 2004 (VIS) - This morning the Pope received the Letters of Credence of the new ambassador of Portugal to the Holy See, Joao Alberto Bacelar da Rocha Paris.

  In his speech to the diplomat, the Holy Father emphasized that the "intensification of regional, cultural and economic differences, the desire to safeguard peace," natural disasters as well as "the disproportion between rich and poor with the consequent lack of respect human rights, are, among other things, a reason for great concern for every leader."

  John Paul II expressed his appreciation to the Portuguese government for "highlighting the Christian identity of Europe" in the new constitution and he expressed the desire that "the convictions that come from this identity can be affirmed in every national and international sphere."

  "In this sense," he continued: "the signing of the new Concordat between the Holy See and Portugal is the great expression of a mature consensus to reinforce the presence of this Christian 'soul' founded on the 'deep historical relations between the Catholic Church and Portugal, according to mutual responsibilities that bind the parties, in the sphere of religious freedom in order to continue with its service to the common good and to collaborate in building up a society that promotes the dignity of the human person, justice and peace."

  The Holy Father expressed his hope that Portugal will be a country that is "always open to the new challenges of our society and one that knows that the Almighty will not leave those who trust in His ways with empty hands."

  Referring to challenges in modern society, the Pope indicated that they can be better presented to the public "if they are part of a project of development in which the vital forces in local society make up a substantial, unified effort. Associating citizens with projects in society and giving them confidence in government leaders and in their nation is the foundation for peaceful coexistence in societies."

Monday, September 20, 2004


VATICNA CITY, SEP 18, 2004 (VIS) - Joaquin Navarro-Valls, director of the Holy See Press Office, made the following declaration today:

  "Cardinal Angelo Sodano, secretary of State, left today for New York to participate in a meeting at the United Nations to examine new ways to fight hunger and poverty in the world. It is a new initiative spearheaded by the President of Brazil, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, and U.N. Secretary General, Kofi Annan, as well as various other heads of State, governments and international organizations. During his stay in the United States, Cardinal Sodano will also receive an award from the Path to Peace Foundation, which recognizes those who have worked for peace and he will give a conference at St. John University in Brooklyn on the theme, "The leaven of the Gospel in modern society."
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VATICAN CITY, SEP 18, 2004 (VIS) - Made public today was a Letter by the Holy Father, written in Latin and dated July 21, in which he appoints Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, president emeritus of the Pontifical Councils for Justice and Peace and Cor Unum, as his special envoy to the centenary celebrations of the "Social Weeks in France," which will take place in Lille, France on September 24-26.


VATICAN CITY, SEP 18, 2004 (VIS) - This morning at Castelgandolfo the Pope addressed bishops of the Episcopal Conference of the Pacific who just completed their "ad limina" visit.

  In his speech in English and French, the Holy Father reminded the prelates that Jesus Christ "continues to turn His loving attention to the peoples of Oceania, drawing them to a still deeper faith and life in Him. … Even where the life of the Church is filled with signs of growth, no effort can be spared in taking effective pastoral initiatives to make the Lord better known and loved."

  "The vibrant pastoral life of your dioceses, which your reports clearly describe, is an uplifting sign for all. The joyful liturgical celebrations, the keen participation of the young in the mission of the Church, the flowering of vocations, and the palpable presence of faith in the civic life of your nations, all attest to God's infinite goodness to his Church."

  John Paul II referred to the concerns expressed by the bishops: "The encroachment of secularism, particularly in the form of consumerism, and the long reach of the most insidious aspects of the media, which convey a deformed outlook on life, the family, religion and morality, unsettle the very foundations of traditional cultural values.  In the face of such challenges, the peoples of Oceania … look to you, with great expectation, to be steadfast ministers of truth and audacious witnesses to Christ.  They wish for you to be vigilant in seeking new ways to teach faith."

  The Pope indicated that "meeting with and listening to your closest collaborators - priests, religious and catechists - and direct contact with the poor, sick and elderly, will unite your people and enrich your teaching thanks to the concrete example that you offer of humble faith and service."  After highlighting that the bishops are "the primary formators of priests," the Holy Father asked them to carefully supervise seminaries and to propose programs of permanent formation "so that students may build their priestly identity and personality." In addition, he praised priests who left their parish ministry to serve in seminaries and he urged those who have abandoned their ministry for other reasons to return to God "Who is rich in mercy."

  After recalling the evangelizing work of men and women religious in the region, the Pope said that "apostolic fruitfulness, generosity in love of the poor, and the ability to inspire vocations among the young depend upon this priority in the spiritual life."

  After speaking about catechesis, in which many lay people participate, the Holy Father concluded by saying: "As general educational standards among your communities rise, it is imperative that your people grow in their understanding of the faith and their ability to express its liberating truth.  In this regard, I am confident that you will give special consideration to the development of the chaplaincy at the University of the South Pacific where so many of your fine young men and women are being trained as future leaders of your communities."
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VATICAN CITY, SEP 18, 2004  (VIS) - The creation of a culture of peace, the role of religion in this field and inter-religious dialogue were the main themes of John Paul II's talk to the new ambassador of Egypt to the Holy See, Nevine Simaika Halim Abadia, who presented her Letters of Credence this morning.

  "As the Holy See continues to repeat in this turbulent age," said the Pope, "there can only be lasting peace in international relations when the desire for dialogue prevails over the logic of confrontation. Whether this is in Iraq, where a return to civil peace seems so difficult to establish, or the Holy Land, unfortunately marred by an endless conflict that is fuelled by hatred and a reciprocal desire for vengeance or in other countries where terrorism has so cruelly struck the innocent, everywhere violence reveals its horror and its incapacity to resolve conflicts. … Once again I remind the international community of its responsibilities to promote a return to reason and negotiation, the only possible solution for conflicts among human beings."

  The Holy Father then spoke about "the specific role in relations among nations" that Egypt occupies due to its culture, political tradition and strategic geographic position.  Citing the new ambassador's speech about the responsibilities of the State toward its citizens, the Pope recalled that one of them was "to guarantee equality of all before the law, as you said, referring to the role of women in Egyptian society, and to promote mutual respect and understanding among the different components of the Nations."

  In building up peace, continued the Pope, religions play an important role. "They promote teachings that honor life as a sacred gift from God that man must respect and cherish. … For this reason, they are called to denounce and reject violence as something contrary to its purpose which is to reconcile human beings with each other and with God. Since the education of children and young people often falls within their jurisdiction, religions have an important responsibility to assume in the content of their teaching so that sectarian approaches are fought and rejected and, on the contrary, everything that allows for deeper discovery and respect for others is developed and  encouraged."

  John Paul II also recalled that the presence in Egypt of the Al-Azhar University "which plays an essential role in the Muslim world, is an opportunity for the continuation and the intensification of inter-religious dialogue, especially among Christians and Muslims." In this regard, the Pope affirmed that in addition to meetings of religious leaders it "is equally useful to stimulate respect for and desire of mutual knowledge on the level of people and communities of believers in cities and towns."

  Lastly, the Holy Father greeted "the pastors and faithful of different rites that make up the Catholic community in Egypt. I would like all the faithful to be concerned with developing fraternal and constructive relations, putting together their specific richness and rendering homage to Catholic unity."
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VATICAN CITY, SEP 20, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

- Archbishop Ivan Jurkovic, apostolic nuncio in Ukraine.

- Eight prelates from the Colombian Episcopal Conference on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Cardinal Pedro Rubiano Saenz of Bogota, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishops Fernando Sabogal Viana, Olavio Lopez Duque, O.A.R. and Jose Roberto Ospina Leongomez.

    - Bishop Hector Luis Gutierrez Pabon of Engativa.

    - Bishop Luis Gabriel Romero Franco of Facatativa.

    - Bishop Enrique Sarmiento Angulo of Fontibon.

    - Bishop Hector Julio Lopez Hurtado, S.D.B. of Girardot.

- Bishop Fabian Marulanda Lopez, emeritus of Florencia, secretary general of the Episcopal Conference of Colombia.    

  On Saturday, September 18, the Holy Father received in separate audiences:

- Archbishop Patrick Coveney, apostolic nuncio in New Zealand, the Fiji Islands, Marshal Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Samoa, Vanuatu, Tonga, Nauru, Kiribati, Palau and the Cook Islands and apostolic delegate in the Pacific Ocean.
- Six prelates from the Episcopal Conference of the Pacific on their "ad limina" visit:
    - Archbishop Petero Mataca of Suva, Fiji Islands.
    - Bishop Stuart France O'Conneel, S.M. of Rarotonga, Cook Islands.
    - Bishop Paul Eusebius Mea Kaiuea of Tarawa and Nauru, Kiribati and Nauru.
    - Bishop Soane Lilo Foliaki of Tonga, Tonga and Niue.
    - Msgr. Patrick Edward O'Connor, superior of the "sui iuris" mission of Tokelau, Tokelau.
    - Fr. Camille DesRosiers, S.M., superior of the "sui iuris" mission of Funafuti, Tuvalu.

- Bishop Jose Guadalupe Martin Rabago of Leon, Mexico, president of the Episcopal Conference of Mexico, with Archbishop Alberto Suarez Inda of Moralia and Bishop Carlos Aguilar Retes, respectively vice-president and secretary general of the same conference.
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VATICAN CITY, SEP 20, 2004 (VIS) - The Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff made public today the calendar of celebrations to be presided over by the Holy Father from September 28 to December 31, 2004.


- Tuesday, 28: At 6 p.m. at the main altar in St. Peter's Basilica, Mass for the repose of the souls of the deceased Supreme Pontiffs Paul VI and John Paul I.


- Sunday, 3: 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time. At 10 a.m. in St. Peter's Square, beatification of the Servants of God Pierre Vigne, Joseph-Marie Cassant, Anna Katharina Emmerick, Maria Ludovica De Angelis and Charles of Austria.

- Sunday, 17:  29th Sunday in Ordinary Time.  At 5:30 p.m. in the Vatican Basilica, beginning of the Year of the Eucharist.  Mass, Eucharistic adoration and benediction.

- Friday, 22: At 5:30 p.m., Mass for the beginning of the academic year of the ecclesiastic universities.


- Thursday, 11: At 11 a.m. in the Vatican Basilica, Mass for the repose of the souls of the cardinals and bishops who died throughout the year.


- Wednesday, 8: Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady.  At 4 p.m. in Piazza di Spagna, homage to Our Lady on the 150th anniversary of the dogmatic definition of the Immaculate Conception.

- Tuesday, 14: At 5:30 p.m. in St. Peter's Basilica, Mass for university students at the Roman Athenaeums.

- Friday, 24: Vigil of the Solemnity of the Birth of Our Lord. Midnight Mass in St. Peter's Basilica.

- Saturday, 25: Solemnity of the Birth of Our Lord.  "Urbi et Orbi" blessing at noon in St. Peter's Square.

- Friday, 31: At 6 p.m. in St. Peter's Basilica, Vespers and "Te Deum" of thanksgiving.
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VATICAN CITY, SEP 19, 2004 (VIS) - At noon today, in the inner courtyard of the apostolic palace at Castelgandolfo, in reflections made before praying the Angelus with the thousands of faithful gathered there, Pope John Paul focused on the presence of evil in the world.

  "In the face of evil, which shows itself in many forms in the world," he said, "man, afflicted and disconcerted, asks himself 'Why?' At this dawn of the third millennium, blessed by the Great Jubilee and rich in so many possibilities, mankind is marked by the disturbing spread of terrorism. The succession of atrocious attacks on human life upsets and worries consciences and provokes in believers the tormented question that occurs in the Psalms: 'Why, Lord? Up to what point?"

  The Holy Father said that "God answered this anguishing question which comes from the scandal of evil, not with an explanation of principle, almost as if to justify it, but with the sacrifice of His own Son on the Cross. In the death of Jesus the apparent triumph of evil and the definitive victory of good come together; the darkest moment in history and the revelation of divine glory; the breaking point and the center of attraction and re-composition of the universe. 'I', said Jesus, 'when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself'."

  The Pope concluded by stating that "the Cross of Christ is an icon of hope for all believers, because on it the saving plan of God's love was fulfilled. For this reason the liturgy several days ago invited us to celebrate the exaltation of the holy Cross, a feast from which every believer draws comfort and courage."
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