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Friday, January 2, 2004


VATICAN CITY, DEC 31, 2003 (VIS) - Today at 6 p.m. in the Vatican Basilica, John Paul II presided at first vespers of the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God and the "Te Deum" of thanksgiving for the end of the year.

In the homily, the Pope invited everyone to give thanks to God for the "countless blessings that He has bestowed on us throughout the year."

Addressing in particular the faithful of the diocese of Rome, the Holy Father said: "The icon of Our Lady of Divine Love, a precious gift from the community or Rome to the Pope, is here with us today. I am very grateful to you for it. In Our Lady's crown there are embedded jewels which correspond to the twenty mysteries of the Holy Rosary, as I asked for the five luminous mysteries to be added to the traditional fifteen mysteries. I hope that this icon will be venerated in the new Shrine of Our Lady of Divine Love. I especially entrust to Our Lady the pastoral activity that the diocese has carried out throughout the years for the family, young people and for vocations of special consecration."

He then recalled what he wrote in the apostolic exhortation, "Familiaris consortio": "The future of humanity passes by way of the family." The Pope then said, "I entrust my prayer to Jesus through the Mother of God and St. Joseph, her spouse, so that He inspire in the diocese of Rome pastoral activity appropriate for our times, directed to all the families in the city and to young couples that are preparing for marriage. May families always correspond ever more fully to God's plan for them!"
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 2, 2004 - The Holy Father:

- Appointed Msgr. Lawrence E. Brandt, chancellor of the Curia of the diocese of Erie, Pennsylvania and pastor of St. Hedwig Parish, as bishop of Greensburg (area 8,632, population 680,152, Catholics 188,301, priests 212, religious 410), U.S.A. The bishop-elect was born in 1939 in Charleston, West Virginia and was ordained a priest in 1969. He succeeds Bishop Anthony G. Bosco whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted upon having reached the age limit.

- Appointed Msgrs. Franco Piva and Francois Duthel, officials in the Secretariat of State, as bureau chiefs of the Section for General Affairs of the Secretariat of State.

- Appointed Msgr. Vincenzo Di Mauro, pastor of Santa Maria di Caravaggio in Milan, Italy as delegate of the ordinary section of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See.

On Saturday December 31, it was made public that the Holy Father:

- Elevated the apostolic vicariate of Bauchi, Nigeria to the level of diocese, making it a suffragen of the metropolitan Church of Jos, Nigeria.

- Appointed Bishop John Moore, S.M.A., apostolic vicar of Bauchi, Nigeria, as bishop of the Bauchi (area 64,605, population 5,550,000, Catholics 68,000, priests 23, religious 6), Nigeria.
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 2, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience Cardinal Camillo Ruini, vicar general for the diocese of Rome and president of the Italian Episcopal Conference.
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 1, 2004 (VIS) - At 10 a.m. in St. Peter's Basilica, John Paul II presided at a Eucharistic celebration on the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, and on the occasion of the 37th World Day of Peace. This year's theme is: "An Ever timely Commitment: Teaching Peace." Cardinal Angelo Sodano, secretary of State, celebrated the Mass.

The Pope said that this year's message for the World Day of Peace "is connected to what I proposed at the beginning of my pontificate, emphasizing the urgency and necessity of forming consciences in the culture of peace. Since peace is possible - I wanted to repeat - it is a duty of ours."

John Paul II remembered Archbishop Michael Aidan Courtney, apostolic nuncio in Burundi, "who was tragically killed a few days ago while carrying out the mission of promoting dialogue and reconciliation. We pray for him with the hope that his example and his sacrifice bring fruits of peace to Burundi and to the world."

After inviting all "to return ideally to Bethlehem in order to adore the Child in the manger," the Pope emphasized that the land where Jesus was born, "continues to live in dramatic conditions" and in other parts of the world "the fires of violence and conflict continue to burn. However, we must persevere without giving into the temptation of discouragement. Everyone must make an effort so that the fundamental rights of persons through a constant education in lawfulness is respected."

"The need for a new international order is ever more necessary," he continued, "one that takes advantage of the experience and results achieved over the years by the United Nations; an order that is capable of finding adequate solutions to problems, solutions based on the dignity of the human person, the integral development of society and solidarity among rich and poor nations, the sharing of resources and the results of scientific and technological progress."

Later on at midday, the Holy Father appeared at the window of his private study. Before thousands of people who came to St. Peter's Square to participate in the praying of the Angelus, the Pope stressed that "peace is above all a gift from God, but it is also a project which each and every person must contribute to."

After asking Our Lady to "help us to be witnesses and builders of this peace, heavenly gift and daily conquest of human beings who are concerned about the common good," John Paul II expressed his "wishes for prosperity and for peace at the beginning of this new year."
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