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Friday, December 17, 2004


VATICAN CITY, DEC 17, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

- Cardinal James Francis Stafford, Major Penitentiary.

- Archbishop Pier Giacomo De Nicolo, apostolic nuncio.

- Archbishop Angelo Amato, secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 17, 2004 (VIS) - Today in the Holy See Press Office, Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry, presented the Vatican's Good Samaritan Foundation which will financially support the infirm, especially AIDS patients.

  Joining the cardinal were Bishop Jose Luis Redrado Marchite, O.H., and Fr. Felice Ruffini, M.I., respectively secretary and under-secretary of the council, and Dr. Raffaele Perrone, extraordinary commissioner of the Lazzaro Spallanzani National Institute for Infectious Diseases.

  Cardinal Lozano explained that in an audience granted to Cardinal Angelo Sodano, secretary of State, on September 12, the Holy Father instituted the foundation with a civil, canonical and public juridical nature, based in the Vatican.

  "The Holy Father," he said, "invites all men and women of good will, especially those in more economically advanced countries, to contribute to the goals of this foundation."  The foundation has been entrusted to the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry, headed by Cardinal Lozano.

  After emphasizing that AIDS "is one of the most devastating epidemics of our time," he recalled that since the disease appeared in the 1980's, more than 22 million people have died and 37,800,000 suffer from it.  He also said that between 2001 and 2003 the number of children, mostly in Africa, that have been left orphans due to the epidemic has risen from 11.5 million to 15 million.

  The council president indicated that the Catholic Church "has always contributed to  attempts to prevent the virus and to help the sick and their families through medical, social, spiritual and pastoral assistance. Currently, 26.7 % of AIDS medical centers in the world are Catholic." However, he added, "they do not have resources for necessary medicine, and the medicine they have is insufficient for covering the urgent need."

  "In order to build the foundation," he continued, "the Holy Father has donated 100,000 euro, offering an example of charity that we ask that all Catholics to follow."

  Cardinal Lozano said that this call "is directed above all to all bishops and their dioceses, to priests, religious institutes and foundations that carry out charity work and all men and women of good will."

  Contributions can be made by bank transfer or draft in dollars or euros and send to the Institute for Religious Works (IOR), Vatican City 00120. International checks can be made out to "Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, President of the Good Samaritan Foundation, Palazzo S. Paolo, Vatican City, 00120."


VATICAN CITY, DEC 17, 2004 (VIS) - Ninety performers of the Christmas in the Vatican Concert were received by the Holy Father this morning, who told them how significant this annual event is for Rome and for Romans because "it helps support the building of new churches, especially on the periphery of our diocese." He said he hoped that tomorrow's concert would "once again attain its noble goal."

  "Various song and concert initiatives, such as yours," added John Paul II, "are promoted during the Christmas season in parishes, schools and other milieux. I hope that they, together with other traditional and evocative signs, such as the nativity scenes and the Christmas tree, will contribute to facilitating people's encounter with the Savior Who, born in Bethlehem, offered men of all times His message of truth and love."

  He closed with "fervent Christmas wishes for the promoters, organizers and artists of the concert and all who watch it on television."
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 17, 2004 (VIS) - John Paul II this morning welcomed 18 members of the Anti-Defamation League who are on a visit to the Vatican.

  "The Church and the Jewish people," he said, "continue to enjoy close bonds of friendship. It is my fervent prayer that men and women will work together to eradicate all forms of racism in order to build a society that promotes truth, justice, love and peace. Upon all of you I invoke the divine gifts of strength and joy. Shalom!"
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