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Thursday, January 29, 2004

VATICAN CITY, JAN 29, 2004 (VIS) - This morning, the dean, judges, promoters of justice, defenders of the bond, officials and attorneys of the Roman Rota, were received by the Pope on the occasion of the inauguration of the judicial year.

In his speech this year, the Holy Father addressed the topic of "'favor iuris' enjoyed by marriage and the subsequent presumption of validity in the case of doubts, declared by Canon 1060 of the Code of Canon Law and Canon 779 of the Code of the Canons of the Eastern Churches."

John Paul II said that the "'favor iuris' of marriage implies the presumption of validity until the contrary is demonstrated." Such a presumption, he added, "cannot be interpreted as a mere protection of appearances or of the status quo, since there is the possibility of refuting the act within reasonable limits."

"What can we say then of the theory that the failure itself of married life presumes the invalidity of the marriage?" he asked. "The declaration of true nullity should lead rather to ascertaining with greater seriousness, at the moment of marriage, the necessary requisites for marrying, especially those concerning the consent and the authentic dispositions of the couple. Pastors and those who collaborate with them in this realm have the serious duty not to give in to a merely bureaucratic vision of premarital investigation (see Canon 1067)."

The Pope emphasized that "often the real problem is not so much the presumption in words as much as the overall vision of marriage itself and, therefore, the process of ascertaining the validity of its celebration. Such a process is essentially inconceivable outside of the horizon of ascertaining the truth."

"The tendency to increase the number of annulments through manipulation, forgetting the perspective of objective truth, implies a structural distortion of the entire process. ... The fundamental dimension of the justice of marriage which bases its existence on a intrinsically juridical reality, is substituted by empirical theories which are sociological, psychological in nature, etc, as well as by different ways of juridical positivism. ... We cannot forget that an authentic juridical consideration of marriage requires a metaphysical vision of the human person and of the relationship between husbands and wives. Without this ontological foundation, the institution of marriage becomes a mere external superstructure, fruit of the law and social conditioning which limits a person in his free realization."

The Holy Father concluded by underscoring that "it is necessary to rediscover the truth, the goodness and beauty of the institution of marriage which, as a work of God Himself through human nature and the free consent of couples, continues to be a indissoluble personal reality, like the bond of justice and peace, united from the beginning to the design of salvation and elevated in the fullness of the times to the dignity of the Christian sacrament. This is the reality that the Church and the world must promote! This the true 'favor matrimonii!'"


VATICAN CITY, JAN 29, 2004 (VIS) - Pope John Paul's Lenten Message for 2004, dated December 8, 2003, was made public today in English, Spanish, Italian, German, French, Portuguese and Polish. Following are selections:

"This year's theme - 'Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me' - invites us to reflect on the condition of children. ... Jesus' words call upon us to see how children are treated in our families, in civil society, and in the Church."

"Jesus had a particular love for children because of 'their simplicity, their joy of life, their spontaneity, and their faith filled with wonder'. For this reason He wishes the community to open its arms and its heart to them, even as He did: 'Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me'. Alongside children Jesus sets the 'very least of the brethren': the suffering, the needy, the hungry and thirsty, strangers, the naked, the sick, and the imprisoned. In welcoming them and loving them, or in treating them with indifference and contempt, we show our attitude towards him, for it is in them that He is particularly present."

"In the years of his public life Jesus often insisted that only those who become like children will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. ...'Whoever humbles himself like this child, he is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven'.

"'To become' one of the least and 'to receive' the little ones: these are two aspects of a single teaching which the Lord repeats to His disciples in our time. Only the one who makes himself one of the "least" is able to receive with love the "least" of our brothers and sisters.

"Many believers strive faithfully to follow these teachings of the Lord. Here I would mention those parents who willingly take on the responsibility of a large family, mothers and fathers who, rather than considering success in their profession and career as the highest value, make every effort to pass on to their children those human and religious values that give true meaning to life.

"With great admiration I also think of all those committed to caring for underprivileged children and those who alleviate the sufferings of children and their families resulting from war and violence, inadequate food and water, forced immigration and the many forms of injustice present in the world.

"Together with such great generosity, however, a word must be said about the selfishness of those who do not 'receive' children. There are young people who have been profoundly hurt by the violence of adults: sexual abuse, forced prostitution, involvement in the sale and use of drugs; children forced to work or enlisted for combat; young children scarred forever by the breakup of the family; little ones caught up in the obscene trafficking of organs and persons."

"What evil have these children done to merit such suffering? From a human standpoint it is not easy, indeed it may be impossible, to answer this disturbing question. Only faith can make us begin to understand so profound an abyss of suffering."

"Dear Brothers and Sisters, let us set out with trust on our Lenten journey, sustained by fervent prayer, penance and concern for those in need. In particular, may this Lent be a time of ever greater concern for the needs of children, in our own families and in society as a whole: for they are the future of humanity."
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 29, 2004 (VIS) - This morning Archbishop Paul Josef Cordes, president of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum," presented the Holy Father's Lenten Message for 2004. The theme of this year's message is: "Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me." Msgr. Karel Kasteel, secretary of the same dicastery, and Fr. Angelo D'Agostino, S.J., founder and medical director of "Nyumbani," The Children of God Relief Institute in Nairobi, Kenya were also present.

Archbishop Cordes affirmed that in this year's message, the Pope wants to awaken consciences to the condition of children who were Jesus' favorites. "Treating them with indifference and rejecting them," he said, "means rejecting the Lord because He is present in them and He waits for us in them."

"Children are the 'smallest,' the neediest of all," he continued, "infants depend completely on the love of others; they are alive thanks to what those who are responsible for them give them."

Referring to the tragedy of AIDS, which John Paul II talks about in the Message, the president of "Cor Unum" indicated that children affected by the disease "prompt the greatest question that man asks himself about the goodness of the Heavenly Father: What evil have these children done to merit such suffering? From a human standpoint, there is no response to such a question. The Pope responds in this way in the Message: 'Only faith can make us begin to understand so profound an abyss of suffering'."

Citing the Pope's words that Lent is a "call for a radical conversion," Archbishop Cordes underlined that "this conversion will be the fruit of our getting close to God, of a reflection of His light and the grace of the sacrament of confession." Jesus accepted suffering "freely to save us from our sins. The perspective of faith gives us the courage to open our heart to our brothers and sisters in need, to children who are suffering."

At the end of his speech, the president of the dicastery announced two initiatives: the production by the Vatican Post Office of a series of special stamps on the Lenten message as well as a development project for orphan children with AIDS in the diocese of Nairobi, Kenya. Donations from outside Italy can be sent to the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum," Vatican City State, 00120, indicating that the sum is for Fr. D'Agostino's project in Nairobi.

Jesuit Father Angelo D'Agostino, founder and medical director of "Nyumbani" the Children of God Relief Institute of Nairobi, Kenya, noted that "with Ignatian insight, finding God in all things has served to find life in apparent death, healing in sickness, knowledge in ignorance. In the past the Church brought solace to lepers and the plague victim; today, HIV/AIDS cries out for relief. As a physician/priest I have tried to answer that cry."

He spoke of his many years of experience in Nairobi with HIV+ children, an overwhelming number of whom are orphans, pointing out that "in the early days we averaged 2 or 3 deaths a month, but since the advent of Anti-Retro Virus medications that has dropped drastically so that for all of 2003 we had not a single fatality. The ARV drugs are partly donated by the Brazilian government gratis but some have to be bought on the open market." In the community-based program serving 1,000 HIV+ orphans, "we suffer 7 or 8 deaths each month because we do not have the funds to pay the unaffordable prices demanded by the big international drug companies. Today at least 400 people die every day in Kenya because of AIDS."

Fr. D'Agostino underscored that the fact that AIDS is a killer in Africa and a chronic disease in Europe and North America is due to "the genocidal action of the drug cartels who refuse to make the drugs affordable in Africa even after they reported a $517 billion profit in 2002. This is a moral issue that shows the lack of social conscience by these capitalistic enterprises, which could easily save the lives of the 25 million sub-Saharan Africans who are HIV+ and otherwise doomed. How will we as Christians explain this silence on our part some 50 years from now?"


VATICAN CITY, JAN 29, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

- Two prelates from the French Episcopal Conference on their "ad limina" visit:

- Bishop Andre Fort of Orleans, France.

- Bishop Raymond Seguy of Autun, France.

- Bishop Raffaello Funghini, dean of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota.

- College of Prelate Auditors of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota.
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 29, 2004 (VIS) - Msgr. Piero Monni, Holy See permanent observer to the World Tourism Organization, spoke today at the First World Conference on Communication in the Domain of Tourism, a two-day meeting which began today in Madrid, Spain that is being sponsored by the WTO, with the support of the Spanish government, the city of Madrid and FITUR, The International Tourism Fair.

Msgr. Monni, in his address, noted that "quality and professionalism are fundamental elements in the tourism industry. These elements also regard the communications sector, which must be transparent and honest when promoting tourism." He remarked on the great growth of the "on line" tourist market and "virtual travel," adding that "dynamism and specializations are the future for communications in tourism."

When it respects its clients through quality and transparency, the Internet is a positive communications tool. However "there is a type of on-line information for tourists that increases the diffusion of the disgraceful pedophile market and the so-called sexual tourism." He said that telematics can sometimes "favor the sexual exploitation of children because it makes it difficult to identify the authors of such crimes," adding that "the role of communications and communicators cannot evade the consideration of an ethical responsibility."

"At the moment, it seems like technology is not at man's service anymore, but that it is governing man. Today reflecting on the famous phrase of (Marshall) McLuhan, 'the medium is the message', it is finally clear what he wanted to say: the means become the aim of communications, while concepts and ideas take on a secondary role."
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