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Monday, February 9, 2004


VATICAN CITY, FEB 7, 2004 (VIS) - This morning John Paul II addressed prelates from the ecclesiastical provinces of Lyon and Clermont in France who have just completed their "ad limina" visit. During the meeting, he focussed his talk on the life of the diocesan Church.

The Pope recalled that after their last "ad limina" visit in 1997 many dioceses had "embarked upon an important reflection on the life and role of parishes which was necessary due to demographic evolution and growing urbanization but also due to the decrease in the number of priests."

"Far from limiting yourselves to simple administrative reform," he said, this pastoral reflection "has carried out the authentic work of permanent formation and catechesis with the faithful, allowing them to adapt themselves in an ever more aware fashion to the riches of parish life, and to know the three great missions of the Church": the prophetic, priestly and royal missions.

The Holy Father emphasized that "the whole ecclesial community, and especially the parish, which is the basic cell of the life of the diocesan Church, must proclaim the Gospel, give God the praise due to Him, and serve as Christ did. It is equally important to be careful that the parish community express the diversity of the members who comprise it and the variety of their charisms, and that it be open to the life of associations and movements. In this way, it will be a living expression of ecclesial communion."

"The rediscovery of the sacramental nature of the Church," he affirmed, "which is also 'missionary communion', must therefore be expressed in new dynamics directed toward evangelization."

The Pope expressed his joy at the diocesan gatherings for young people that the bishops have promoted and which, he said, "allow the meaning of Church-communion to be better understood, because they are people that come from different groups, place and sensibilities."

"In order to be faithful to the meaning of the mission, . we must be open to other dimensions," he continued, "paying greater attention to new social phenomena and to all 'modern areopagi.' To better achieve this, some dioceses have decided to unite their apostolic efforts, placing at the service of the most understaffed dioceses priests who are available for the mission."

John Paul II emphasized that "to serve as Christ did is the royal mission of every baptized person and of the whole ecclesial community and this must be manifested in a concrete way in the diocese. In a certain sense, the ministry of permanent deacons honors this commitment." Lay people, he added, "are the first players in this ecclesial mission of service," through their daily testimony to the Gospel and by their work. In political, social, economic and cultural life they promote "relations between people that respect and honor the dignity of every person in all their dimensions. They also show their sense of justice and solidarity with the neediest. . Catholics in France also have a long missionary tradition."

At the end of his speech, the Holy Father thanked the bishops' collaborators, "those who work in the diocesan institutions and who provide an ecclesial service whose missionary dimension is evident."
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VATICAN CITY, FEB 7, 2004 (VIS) - Made public today was a telegram sent by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, secretary of State, in the Pope's name, to Archbishop Antonio Mennini, apostolic nuncio and representative of the Russian Federation, for the attack in Moscow:

"Profoundly saddened by the tragic news of the attack in the subway in Moscow, the Supreme Pontiff asks Your Excellency to convey his deepest condolences to the family members of the victims. While entrusting the souls of the deceased as well as all victims of violence to the mercy of the Lord, His Holiness bestows his comforting apostolic blessing upon all who have been affected by this dramatic event."


VATICAN CITY, FEB 7, 2004 (VIS) - Made public today was a Message from Pope John Paul to Bishop Vincenzo Paglia of Terni-Narni-Amelia and through him, to the participants in the Sixth International Meeting of Bishops and Priests, Friends of the Sant'Egidio Community as they gather in Rome from numerous countries "to live together moments of reflection and prayer in a climate of fraternity, enriched by the presence of leaders of other Churches and ecclesial communities."

The Pope recalls that what unites the participants is their "tie to the Sant'Egidio Community, an association that for 36 years has undertaken a much-appreciated service of evangelization and charity in the city of Rome and in other places in Europe, Africa, Latin America and Asia." He pointed to the theme of the meeting, "The Gospel of Charity," noting that "Blessed John XXIII loved to say that the Church is in everyone, but in a special way in the poor. . The Kingdom of God belongs to the poor who, according to several Fathers of the Church, can be our advocates to God."

"Venerable brother," says the Pope, "for the Sant'Egidio Community and all those who intend to share its spirit, love for the poor continues to be its distinctive mark. May each one know how to be 'close' to those in need and to thus feel the truth of the Bible's words: 'There is greater joy in giving than in receiving'."


VATICAN CITY, FEB 7, 2004 (VIS) - Julian Robert Hunte, president of the 58th General Assembly of the United Nations, was welcomed to the Vatican this morning by Pope John Paul.

"As you know," the Pope told him in remarks in English, "the Holy See considers the United Nations Organization a significant means for promoting the universal common good. You have undertaken a restructuring aimed at making the Organization function more efficiently. This will not only ensure an effective superior instance for the just resolution of international problems, but also enable the United Nations to become an ever more highly respected moral authority for the international community."

Quoting from his Message for the 2004 World Day of Peace, the Holy Father said it "is my hope that the Member States will consider such a reform 'a clear moral and political obligation which calls for prudence and determination' and a necessary prerequisite for the growth of an international order at the service of the whole human family. I offer prayerful good wishes for your own efforts on behalf of this goal and I willingly invoke upon you and your associates the divine blessings of wisdom, strength and peace."


VATICAN CITY, FEB 7, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Torit, Sudan presented by Bishop Paride Taban in accordance with Canon 401, para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law.
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VATICAN CITY, FEB 7, 2004 (VIS) - The 10th General Assembly of the Pontifical Academy for Life will be held on February 19-22, 2004 in the Vatican's New Synod Hall, according to a communique published today by the academy.

This year's meeting coincides with the tenth anniversary of the foundation of the Academy. February 19 will be entirely dedicated to the celebration of this anniversary. Three themes will be developed on that day: the activities of the Pontifical Academy for Life during its first ten years; a commemoration of the late Prof. Jerome Lejeune, first President of the Academy and a well-known geneticist; and the teachings of Pope John Paul II on human life. The day will conclude with a concert in the Paul VI Hall for choir and orchestra, directed by Maestro Marco Frisina.

Pope John Paul II instituted this academy and intends to participate in its anniversary celebrations, either by welcoming the participants in a private audience or through a Message written specifically for this occasion that he will deliver to them.

February 20 through 22 will be dedicated to the work of the General Assembly, whose theme this year is very current: "The Dignity of human procreation and reproductive technologies: anthropological and ethical aspects". This theme will be studied from an interdisciplinary viewpoint: the assisted reproductive technologies will be therefore considered in their scientific, anthropological, theological, ethical and legal aspects.

The Assembly will conclude with the release of a final communiqu‚, which will serve as a summary of the debate and of the conclusions of the meeting. The Proceedings of the meeting will be published in Italian and in English, over the following months.
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VATICAN CITY, FEB 7, 2004 (VIS) - Archbishop Celestino Migliore, Holy See permanent observer to the United Nations, spoke yesterday on the 10th anniversary of the International Year of the Family during the 42nd session of the Social Development Committee. He underscored the "primordial role" of the family in society, saying it is "the first place for social integration as it constitutes the primary cell of society and its foundation."

"For the Holy See," stated the apostolic nuncio, "the family is a natural institution based on marriage - the intimate and complementary union of a man and woman - that, as such, possesses its own inalienable rights. More than just a simple juridical, sociological or economic unity, the family is a community of love and solidarity. It is for that reason that it is especially suited to realizing the integration of all its members, be they young, old or handicapped. On can therefore easily affirm that a family seen in this way could serve as a model of social integration on a broader scale."

However, noted the archbishop, today's world poses many threats to the family, in particular those situations of "the young who live in dysfunctional families, marked by conflict, inadequate parental control," drug abuse, to name but a few. "My delegation insists on the urgency of adopting family policies to meet with the current needs. In fact, my delegation is convinced that these policies constitute the ethical and concrete manner of solving crises in societies and guaranteeing a better future for democracy."

Society should help families, archbishop Migliore said. However, he added, quoting "Familiaris consortio", "society should not take from families the functions that they can just as well perform on their own or in free associations; instead it must positively favor and encourage as far as possible responsible initiative by families. . States have a responsibility to defend the 'sovereignty' of the family. . Defending the sovereignty of the family contributes to the sovereignty of nations."


VATICAN CITY, FEB 9, 2004 (VIS) - Today John Paul II received participants in the ninth General Chapter of the Order of the Holy Savior of St. Bridget, headed by Mother Tekla Famiglietti who was just confirmed as general abbess for another six-year term.

After recalling the theme of the assembly, "Going back to our roots.for a renewal of religious life," the Pope said that "all authentic renewal requires a wise recovery of the spirit of our roots in order to turn the fundamental charism into apostolic choices appropriate for the times. For this reason, faithful to the special monastic vocation that distinguishes the Brigittine family, you are concerned with emphasizing the absolute primacy that God must occupy in the life of every one of you and your communities. Above all you are called to be 'specialists of the spirit,' contemplative souls full of the fire of divine love, and constantly dedicated to prayer."

"Only if you are 'specialists of the spirit' like St. Bridget will you be able to faithfully instill in this age the charism of evangelical firmness and unity, inherited from Blessed Elizabeth Hesselblad. Through the hospitality and warm welcome that you offer in your houses, you will be able to bear witness to the merciful love of God toward human beings and the desire for unity that Christ left his disciples."

The Holy Father asked the nuns to be "tireless builders everywhere of 'the great ecumenism of holiness'. Your ecumenical activity," he concluded, "is especially appreciated because it is carried out in Northern Europe where there are few Catholics and it is important to promote dialogue with our brothers and sisters of other Christian confession."


VATICAN CITY, FEB 8, 2004 (VIS) - Addressing the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square for the Angelus today, Pope John Paul focussed on the February 11th celebration of the World Day of the Sick and the 150th anniversary this year of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception.

"This Wednesday, February 11, liturgical memory of Our Lady of Lourdes, we will celebrate the World Day of the Sick," said the Pope, who instituted this celebration, the first one of which took place in Lourdes on February 11, 1993. He added that "the principal events this year will take place in Lourdes where Mary appeared to St. Bernadette Soubirous, calling herself 'the Immaculate Conception'. This year marks the 150th anniversary of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception proclaimed by my venerated predecessor, Blessed Pius IX, whose feast day we celebrated yesterday.

"The link between Our Lady of Lourdes and the world of suffering and illness is very well known. At the shrine which grew from the grotto of Massabielle, sick people are always the protagonists and Lourdes has become, over the years, an authentic city of life and hope. How could it be otherwise? The Immaculate Conception of Mary is, in fact, the first fruit of the redemption fulfilled by Christ and the pledge of His victory over evil. That spring of water rising from the earth, from which the Virgin Mary asked Bernadette to drink, reminds us of the power of the Spirit of Christ Who completely heals man and gives him eternal life."

The Holy Father said he had named Cardinal Lozano Barragan, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry, as his special envoy to the celebrations on Lourdes.

After reciting the Angelus, John Paul II greeted steel workers from Terni, Italy who, he said, "have come on a pilgrimage to call attention to the crisis in this great industrial sector. I cannot forget that it was precisely there, on March 19, 1981, that I paid my first visit to an Italian factory. Dear workers, as I said then, I appreciate your firm desire to 'defend your work and its dignity'. I am close to you in your present difficulties and I hope that an equitable solution can be found for you and your families."
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VATICAN CITY, FEB 9, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience five prelates from the French Episcopal Conference on their "ad limina" visit:

- Archbishop Jean-Pierre Ricard of Bordeaux, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Jean-Claude Hertzog.

- Bishop Jean-Charles Descubes of Agen.

- Bishop Philippe Breton of Aire et Dax.

- Bishop Pierre Moleres of Bayonne.

On Saturday February 7, the Holy Father received in separate audiences:

- Archbishop Carlo Caffarra of Bologna, Italy.

- Wilfrid-Guy Licari, ambassador of Canada, on his farewell visit.

- Francisco A. Alba, ambassador of the Philippines, on his farewell visit.

- Archbishop Stanislaw Rylko, Bishop Josef Clemens and Guzman Carriquiry, respectively president, secretary and under-secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Laity.
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