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Thursday, February 26, 2004


VATICAN CITY, FEB 26, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience Cardinal Camillo Ruini, vicar general of the diocese of Rome and Bishop Vincenzo Apicella, auxilary of the same diocese for the Western pastoral section, accompanied by the following pastors: Fr. Jean Jacques Boeglin, pastor of St. Bridget Parish with parochial vicars, Fr. Romano Matrone, pastor of St. Hilary Parish with parochial vicars, and Fr. Romano Deb, pastor of St. Maximus.
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VATICAN CITY, FEB 26, 2004 (VIS) - Following a tradition at the beginning of Lent, this morning John Paul II met with parish priests from the diocese of Rome to whom he announced that, starting this Saturday in the Vatican, he will renew his gatherings with the parish communities which he has not yet visited.

After remarks made by Cardinal Camillo Ruini, vicar of Rome, as well as some of the priests, which were focused on different aspects of the pastoral program for the family, the Pope addressed those present.

Pope John Paul's talk to Cardinal Ruini and the Roman clergy consisted entirely of off-the cuff remarks. A summary of his prepared speech, which he did not read but which was released, appears below.

"'Est tempus concludendi', he said, "especially when I look at our brothers who have been standing all this time because they did not have a chair, because there were not enough chairs as we are so numerous today." He thanked Cardinal Ruini and the other priests, adding "And now I want to summarize a bit."

"In the first place, Rome: what does Rome mean? A petrine city. And every parish is petrine. There are 340 parishes in Rome and I have visited 300. There are 40 left to go. But this Saturday we will resume these visits. Let's hope that all goes well."

"Our theme is the family. Family means: 'And He created them man and woman'. It means: love and responsibility. From these words come all the consequences. These consequences have been much talked about in regard to marriage, the family, parents, children, schools.

"I am very grateful to you because you have illustrated these consequences, this reality. Certainly this concern belongs to every parish. I learned some time ago, when I was in Krakow, to live close to couples, to families. I also closely followed the path that led two persons, a man and a woman, to create a family and, with marriage, to become spouses and parents, with all the consequences we know so well."

"Thank you for your pastoral solicitude for families and also because you seek to resolve all the problems that being a family can involve. I wish you well as you continue in this very important field, because the future of the Church and the world passes through families. I hope you prepare this good future for Rome, for your homeland, Italy, and for the world. Many best wishes!

"Here is the text that I had prepared, but I skipped it! You can read it in L'Osservatore Romano!

"Here they have written several phrases in Roman dialect. Let's get going! Let's love each other! We are Romans! I never learned the Roman dialect: does this mean I am not a good Bishop of Rome?"

In his prepared speech, the Holy Father affirmed that "recognizing the centrality of the family in God's plan for man and therefore, for the life of the Church and of society, is a task, that can never be relinquished, which has energized these twenty-five years of my pontificate, and, before that, my ministry as priest and bishop, as well as my commitment as student and university professor."

When creating man and woman in His image, he continued, God inscribed in them a vocation, "and therefore, the capacity and responsibility for love and communion. This vocation can be carried out in two specific ways: marriage and virginity."

"Marriage and family cannot, therefore, be considered a simple product of historical circumstances, or a superstructure imposed on human love from the outside. On the contrary, they are an interior demand of this love so that it may be carried out in the truth and fullness of self-giving." Unity, indissolubility, and openness to life, characteristics of the conjugal union, "which today," he said, "are frequently misunderstood and rejected, are necessary so that it may be an authentic pact of love. Precisely in this way, the bond that unites man and woman becomes an image and symbol of the alliance between God and His people. Therefore, marriage between baptized persons is a sacrament, effective sign of grace and salvation."

The Holy Father asked the priests to never tire of "proposing, announcing and bearing witness to the great truth of love and Christian marriage." After emphasizing the "fundamental and irreplaceable role of the family in the life of the Church and of civil society," he indicated that "the pastoral care of priests is necessary" in order to sustain Christian families.

"Do not be afraid," he added, "to make efforts for families, to dedicate to them your time and energy, the spiritual talents that the Lord gave you. Be for them caring and trustworthy friends in addition to pastors and teachers. Accompany and sustain them in prayer, propose the Gospel of marriage and the family to them with truth and love, without reservations or arbitrary interpretations. Be close to them spiritually in the trials that life often holds, helping them to understand that the Church is always their mother as well as their teacher. And teach young people to understand and appreciate the real meaning of love and to prepare themselves to form authentic Christian families."

John Paul II said that "the misguided and often aberrant behavior that is publicly proposed, and also endorsed and exalted, and daily contact with the difficulties and crises of many families can cause us to be tempted to distrust and resignation. We must overcome this temptation with God's help. Today the Holy Spirit's action is not weaker. Therefore, the greater the difficulties, the stronger our hope must be in the present and future of the family, and the more generous and passionate our priestly service to families must be."

Click here to retrieve the Pope's complete speech in Italian.


VATICAN CITY, FEB 26, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed:

- Fr. Pablo Varela Server, rector of Santa Maria La Antigua University, as auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese of Panama (area 13,275, population 704,117, Catholics 633,705, priests 203, permanent deacons 52, religious 350), Panama. The bishop-elect was born in Denia, Spain in 1942 and was ordained a priest in 1970.

- Fr. Jose Domingo Ulloa Mendieta, O.S.A., provincial vicar of the Order of St. Augustine in Panama, Panama and pastor of St. John the Baptist Cathedral in Chitre, as auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese of Panama. The bishop-elect was born in Chitre in 1956 and was ordained a priest in 1983.

- Msgr. Stanislav Stolarik of the clergy of the archdiocese of Kosice, Slovakia, pastor of St. Nicholas parish in Presov, as auxiliary of the same archdiocese (area 10,403, population 1,120,136, Catholics 678,174, priests 403, religious 469, permanent deacons 2). The bishop-elect was born in Roznava in 1955 and was ordained a priest in 1978.
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