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Wednesday, March 30, 2005


VATICAN CITY, MAR 30, 2005 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Appointed Bishop Jose Francisco Rezende Dias, auxiliary of Pouso Alegre, Brazil, as bishop of Duque de Caxias (area 499, population 1,235,626, Catholics 976,000, priests 34, permanent deacons 3, religious 92), Brazil. He succeeds Bishop Mauro Morelli whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, in accordance with Canon 401, para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law.

 - Appointed Bishop Daniel J. Bohan, auxiliary of Toronto, Canada, as metropolitan archbishop of Regina (area 151,375, population 448,000, Catholics 126,000, priests 100, permanent deacons 3, religious 145), Canada. He succeeds Archbishop Peter Joseph Mallon whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

- Appointed Bishop Gabriel Charles Palmer-Buckle of Koforidua, Ghana, as metropolitan archbishop of Accra (area 3,255, population 3,112,500, Catholics 139,000, priests 105, religious 147), Ghana. He succeeds Archbishop Dominic Kodwo Andoh whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, archivist and librarian of Holy Roman Church, as his special envoy to the central celebrations of the extraordinary Jubilee Year of the diocese of Le Puy-en-Velay, France, which are due to take place on May 29, 2005 in the basilica cathedral of 'Notre Dame du Puy.'

  On Tuesday, March 29, it was made public that he accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Nice, France, presented by Bishop Jean Bonfils S.M.A., upon having reached the age limit. He is succeeded by Coadjutor Bishop Louis Sankale.

  On Thursday, March 24, it was made public that he:

 - Appointed Msgr. Domenico Sigalini of the clergy of the diocese of Brescia, Italy, ecclesiastic vice-assistant general of Italian Catholic Action, as bishop of the suburbicarian diocese of Palestrina (area 418, population 88,000, Catholics 87,000, priests 82, religious 221), Italy. The bishop-elect was born in Dello, Italy, in 1942 and ordained a priest in 1966. He succeeds Bishop Eduardo Davino whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese was accepted by the Holy Father, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Fr. Joaquim Justino Carreira of the clergy of the diocese of Jundiai, vicar general of the diocese and episcopal vicar for the area of the city of Itu, as auxiliary of the archdiocese of Sao Paulo (area 1,645, population 8,950,800, Catholics 6,713,100, priests 838, permanent deacons 3, religious 3,240), Brazil. The bishop-elect was born in Leiria-Fatima, Portugal, in 1950 and ordained a priest in 1977.
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 30, 2005 (VIS) - The following declaration concerning the Holy Father's health was made early this afternoon by Holy See Press Office Director Joaquin Navarro-Valls:

  "The Holy Father continues his slow and progressive convalescence.

  "The Pope spends many hours each day in an armchair, celebrates Mass in his private chapel and is in working contact with his collaborators, directly following the activity of the Holy See and the life of the Church.

  "In order to improve the caloric intake and to favor a valid recuperation of strength, enteral nutrition has been started by placing a nasal-gastric probe (tube).

  "All public audiences remain suspended.

  "Health assistance is assured by the personnel of the Health and Hygiene Services of Vatican City under the direction of Dr. Renato Buzzonetti, the Holy Father's personal physician."
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 30, 2005 (VIS) - Thousands of pilgrims who had gathered in St. Peter's Square this morning saw Pope John Paul as he appeared at the window of his study shortly after 11 a.m. for about 4 minutes. Though he did not speak, the Holy Father was enthusiastically greeted by the faithful, many of whom were in Rome hoping to catch a glimpse of the Pope on the day that his weekly general audience is  traditionally held. An aide read brief remarks in Italian, German and Polish for the Pope, who blessed everyone at the end of the greetings.

  "I greet the Italian language pilgrims," said John Paul's message, "especially the boys and girls from the diocese of Milan who came to the tomb of Peter to express their faith in Christ who died and rose from the dead. Dear ones, may friendship with Jesus, our Redeemer, always illuminate your lives! Stay close to Him, through listening to His word and in active participation in the Eucharistic meal. Be His faithful witnesses, especially among your peers. I repeat to everyone with affection my Easter greetings."

  In greetings to German-speaking faithful, he said. "May the peace of the Risen One be always with you!"

  The Pope, through an aide, thanked his fellow Poles "for your presence, for your expressions of benevolence and for accompanying me in prayer. With gratitude I am thinking of all Poles, at home and abroad. I bless you from my heart."
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 27, 2005 (VIS) - Pope John Paul II appeared at the window of his study shortly after noon today for the traditional "Urbi et orbi" message and blessing, but he did not speak, as hoped for by the estimated 80,000 faithful who filled St. Peter's Square, Via della Conciliazione, the broad avenue leading up to it, and adjacent streets. He waved several times and blessed the pilgrims as they applauded enthusiastically, cheered him and called out his name on a day marked by gray skies, intermittent rain and a splash of sun as the Pope came to his window.

  Also for the first time in his 26-year papacy, the Pope, who is still recovering from his February 24 tracheotomy, did not preside at the Easter Mass of the Resurrection of the Lord in St. Peter's Square, designating instead Cardinal Angelo Sodano, secretary of State, as the principal celebrant at the 10:30 a.m. liturgy in a square which was beautified, as has become traditional, by tens of thousands of multi-colored flowers, shrubs and flowering plants from Holland. The cardinal also read the Pope's Urbi et orbi (to the city and the world) message as John Paul II followed it, seated at the window.

   The theme of the Holy Father's Easter message was taken from the words "Mane nobiscum, Domine" (Stay with us, Lord), the title of his apostolic letter which was published on October 8, 2004 for the start of the Year of the Eucharist. Just as the two disciples on the road to Emmaus asked the "mysterious Wayfarer," whom they did not immediately recognize as the Lord, to stay with them, the Pope today said: "On this Easter day, together with all Christians throughout the world, we too repeat these words: Jesus, Crucified and Risen, stay with us! Stay with us, faithful friend and sure support for humanity on its journey through history!... Bread of eternal life, nourish those who hunger for truth, freedom, justice and peace."

  "Stay with us, Living Word of the Father, and teach us words and deeds of peace: peace for our world consecrated by your blood and drenched in the blood of so many innocent victims: peace for the countries of the Middle East and Africa, where so much blood continues to be shed; peace for all of humanity, still threatened by fratricidal wars. Stay with us, Bread of eternal life, broken and distributed to those at table: give also to us the strength to show generous solidarity towards the multitudes who are even today suffering and dying from poverty and hunger, decimated by fatal epidemics or devastated by immense natural disasters."

  "We, the men and women of the third millennium, we too need you, Risen Lord! Stay with us now, and until the end of time. Grant that the material progress of peoples may never obscure the spiritual values which are the soul of their civilization. Sustain us, we pray, on our journey. In you do we believe, in you do we hope, for you alone have the words of eternal life. Mane nobiscum, Domine! Alleluia!"

  At the end of Mass, a deacon announced that Pope John Paul granted his apostolic blessing and a plenary indulgence to all participants in today's liturgy, given that the usual conditions for such an indulgence are fulfilled. "May the Lord preserve the Pope for a long time as guide for the Church," prayed the deacon, "and grant peace and unity to the Church throughout the world."
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 26, 2005 (VIS) - At 8 this evening, in St. Peter's Basilica, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, joined by 24 cardinals, presided the Easter vigil Mass in the name of Pope John Paul. Five catechumens from Italy, Japan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Peru, received the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist during the vigil Mass.

  The celebration started in the darkened atrium of St. Peter's with the blessing of the fire and lighting of the Easter candle, followed by a procession into the basilica, also dark, where participants, one by one, lit the candles they were carrying. Prior to the start of Mass, Cardinal Ratzinger, dean of the College of Cardinals, read a Message from the Holy Father who noted that, "thanks to television, I can follow the evocative Easter vigil in my apartment." He greeted everyone present and had "special thoughts" for the catechumens about to receive the sacraments.

  "This night is truly extraordinary," said the Pope, "a night in which the blazing light of the Risen Christ conquers in a definitive way the power of the darkness of evil and death, and rekindles hope and joy in believers' hearts. Dear ones, guided by the liturgy, let us pray to the Lord Jesus that the world will see and recognize that, thanks to His passion, death and resurrection, what was destroyed was rebuilt, what was old became new and everything returned, more beautiful than before, to its original integrity."

  Cardinal Ratzinger, in his homily, noted that the Easter vigil procession, behind the candle and towards light, symbolizes "the path of humanity who, in the nights of history, seeks light, seeks paradise, seeks true life, reconciliation among peoples, ... and universal peace."

  Referring to the light of the Easter candle, he said "Christ is light; Christ is the way, the truth and the life; following Christ ... we find the just path. ... Following Christ means above all being attentive to His word. ... Man does not live by bread alone or by money or by career, he lives by the word of God, which corrects us, renews us, shows us the true sustaining values of the world and of society. The word of God is the true manna, the bread from heaven which teaches us life, how to be men and women."

   "Following Christ," the cardinal affirmed, "means having compassion for the suffering, a heart for the poor; it means having the courage to defend our faith against ideologies; having trust in the Church and her interpretation and enactment of the divine Word for our current circumstances, Following Christ means loving His Church, His Mystical Body. Going forth in this manner we become little lights in the world, we destroy the darkness of history."


VATICAN CITY, MAR 25, 2005 (VIS) - Cardinal James F. Stafford, major penitentiary, presided in the Pope's name at Good Friday celebrations in St Peter's Basilica. As is customary, the preacher of the Pontifical Household, Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa O.F.M. Cap., pronounced the homily. The ceremony continued with the universal prayer and veneration of the Cross, and concluded with Holy Communion.

  The Eucharist, said Fr. Cantalamessa, "is the way Jesus invented to remain forever 'Emmanuel,' God-with-us. This presence is a guarantee, not only for the Church, but for the entire world." The expression "God is with us" is devoid of exclusiveness, he said, because "since Christ has come, there is no longer any exclusiveness, everything has become universal. 'God in Christ was reconciling the world to Himself'."

  The Eucharist, he said, prolongs the presence of "sweet and gentle" Jesus in history, but "Christ's meekness is no justification for the violence that is done today to His person, and in fact renders it all the more strange and odious."

  "Perhaps," he continued, "we ought simply to imitate our Master and say, 'Father, forgive them; they do not know what they are doing.' Forgive them and forgive us, for certainly our own sins, past and present, are also to blame when the name of Christ is held in contempt among the nations."

  After expressing thanks to the Pope for "the gift of the year of the Eucharist," and wishing him a prompt recovery, Fr. Cantalamessa concluded: "Come back soon, Holy Father! Easter is not the same without you!"

   At 9.15 p.m., the Way of the Cross took place at the Colosseum. For the first time in his pontificate, the Pope was unable to preside at the ceremony, which he followed on television in his private chapel. In images transmitted by the Vatican Television Center, the Holy Father was shown from the back looking towards the altar, before which was a television on which he watched the events.

  Cardinal Camillo Ruini, vicar general for the diocese of Rome, carried the cross for the first two stations and the last one. For the other stations it was carried by two Franciscans of the Custos of the Holy Land; a religious of the diocese of Dibrugarh, India; a lay woman of the diocese of Chonju, South Korea; a family from Rome; a lay woman of the archdiocese of Colombo, Sri Lanka; an Albanian immigrant family resident in Italy, and a young man from the archdiocese of Khartoum, Sudan.

  In a brief message read out by Cardinal Ruini at the start of the Way of the Cross, John Paul II wrote: "I join you in the richly significant invocation: 'Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi, quia per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum.' Yes, we adore and bless the mystery of the Cross of the Son of God, because from that death came forth new hope for humanity."

  The Holy Father continued: "The adoration of the Cross calls us to a commitment which we cannot avoid: the mission that St. Paul expressed in the words: 'I complete what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of His body, that is, the Church.' I too offer my sufferings so God's design will be accomplished and His Word will walk among the people. In turn, I am close to those who are suffering at this time. I pray for each of them."

  "On this day, the memorial of the crucified Christ, I look to and adore the Cross with you, and with you I repeat the words of the liturgy: 'O crux, ave spes unica!' Hail, oh Cross, only hope, give us patience and courage and bring peace to the world!"

  The central theme of this year's Way of the Cross - written by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith - came from the words Jesus pronounced on Palm Sunday, immediately prior to His entry into Jerusalem, responding to a request from certain Greeks who desired to see Him: "'Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.' The Lord interprets His entire earthly journey as the story of the grain of wheat, which only though death produces fruit. He interprets His earthly life, death and resurrection in the perspective of the Most Holy Eucharist in which all His mystery comes together."
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 24, 2005 (VIS) - Today, Holy Thursday, at 9.30 a.m. in the Vatican Basilica, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, presided in the Pope's name at the Chrism Mass, which is celebrated on this day in all the cathedral churches of the world. Concelebrants included cardinals, bishops and priests who are in Rome for Easter.

  At the beginning of Mass, the cardinal read out a message from John Paul II in which he assures the faithful that "from my apartment, by means of television, I am spiritually among you. Together with you and the entire family of believers, I pray that the Church may never lack numerous saintly priests."

  In the homily, Cardinal Re highlighted how on Holy Thursday priests and bishops "renew the promises with which we bound ourselves to Christ, Priest, on the day of our ordination." This calls for "commitment and, I would say, a taste for fully living the beauty of our ministry, following Christ and joyously dedicated to the service of others."

  The cardinal continued: "In this year of the Eucharist - which helps us to discover the beauty, power and centrality of the Eucharist - the words of the Encyclical 'Ecclesia De Eucharistia' resound with particular eloquence in our minds and our hearts: 'the Church draws her life from the Eucharist;' the Eucharist is 'the heart of the mystery of the Church;' it must also be ' the heart of the mystery of priestly ministry'."

  After emphasizing that John Paul II wrote these words two years ago, the prefect of the Congregation for Bishops went on: "In his absence, he is more than ever present at this Chrism Mass, and we want to thank him for the witness that he continues to give us with his example of serene abandonment to God that associates him with the mystery of the Cross."

  Following the homily, there was the renewal of priestly vows and the blessing of the oil used for catechumens, the sick and those being confirmed.

  At 5:30 p.m., Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, presided in the Pope's name at the Mass of the Lord's Supper. During the Eucharistic celebration the feet of 12 priests were washed.

  In a brief message read out at the beginning of the Eucharistic celebration, the Holy Father wrote "I am close to you with my mind and my heart," and he recalled that on that night two thousand years ago Jesus "first washed the feet of the Apostles, wanting to give them the example of a love that becomes humble and concrete service. He then consecrated the bread and wine as a sacrament of His Body and His Blood, given in sacrifice for our salvation."

  In the homily, Cardinal Lopez Trujillo affirmed that the "washing of the feet is proof of total, decisive and definitive love, 'to the extreme.' Without losing the lordship due to His condition as the Son of God, the Lord became a servant, and this giving of Himself was sealed on the Cross where the Lamb of God saved humanity."

  After highlighting how, "in a widespread culture of pleasure that feels great fear of suffering, the Master calls on the disciples to take up the cross," the cardinal said: "We are called to a profound conversion to God and to true values, without which there will be no future worthy of man, the image of God, who through redemption attains the highest dignity of an image: being the child of God."

  Cardinal Trujillo indicated that the Eucharist "opens the heart of the entire human family to the poor and needy who have the right to a 'globalization of solidarity,' and to recognition and respect for the rights of man and the rights of the family, which are fundamental. The weakest, the innocent, the defenseless and the sick are often considered to be a heavy burden. Man is not the arbiter of life and cannot deny this precious gift. We cannot hate that which God loves.

  "Immersed in the mystery of Easter," he concluded, "our fervent prayers are for the Holy Father, strenuous defender and witness of the true quality of life, which we must proclaim and defend, grateful to the Lord of life for his most generous service to the Church and to humanity."

  After the homily, the traditional rite of the washing of the feet of 12 priests took place. At the Pope's request, the offering of the Mass will be given to the people of Venezuela, hit by devastating floods in the month of February.
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