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Monday, September 6, 2004


VATICAN CITY, SEP 6, 2004 (VIS) - Today the Holy Father received in separate audiences at the Apostolic Palace in Castelgandolfo:

- Cardinal Jozef Tomko, president of the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses, and committee secretary, Fr. Ferdinand Pratzner, S.S.S.

- Archbishop Luigi Bonazzi, apostolic nuncio in Cuba.

- Four prelates from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on their "ad limina" visit:
    - Bishop Edward Peter Cullen of Allentown.

    - Bishop Joseph Victor Adamec of Altoona-Johnstown.

    - Bishop Donald Walter Trautman of Erie.

    - Bishop Lawrence E. Brandt of Greensburg.

  On Saturday, September 4, the Holy Father received in separate audiences:

- Oto Agripino Maia, ambassador of Brazil, on his farewell visit.

- Kelebert Nkomani, ambassador of Zimbabwe, on his farewell visit.
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VATICAN CITY, SEP 6, 2004 (VIS) - Made public today was a Message from the Holy Father to Bishop Pier Giorgio Micchiardi of Acqui, Italy, on the millennium anniversary of the birth of their patron St. Guido, bishop.

  In the Message, dated July 30, the Pope recalls the commitment of the saint "to institute and consolidate the rural parishes, spread out throughout the territory, making them points of reference for the religious and sacramental life of the faithful, in a time of difficulties and precarious conditions for the diocese due to invasions, wars and famines."

  "In addition to his work to increase the number of rural parishes, St. Guido zealously cared for the spiritual and cultural formation of the clergy." In this sense, John Paul II indicates that in the face of discrimination against priests "renewed pastoral care" is necessary, as well as "careful preparation of those who aspire to the priesthood which assures human, spiritual and intellectual formation in response to the complex demands of today's world."
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VATICAN CITY, SEP 5, 2004 (VIS) - At noon today, the Holy Father prayed the Angelus with a crowd estimated at 250,000 faithful, mostly members of Catholic Action, who had come for the papal Mass at Montorso di Loreto during which the Pope beatified three of their members: Fr. Pedro (Pere) Tarres y Claret,  a doctor and priest from Barcelona, Spain, and Alberto Marvelli and Pina Suriano of Italian Catholic Action. Catholic Action had been meeting in Loreto since September 1.

  After the Angelus, John Paul II told the members of Catholic Action he wished to entrust them with three "assignments." "The first, he said, "is 'contemplation': commit yourselves to walking on the path of holiness with your eyes fixed on Jesus, the one Master and Savior of the World.

  "The second is 'communion': seek to promote the spirituality of unity with the pastors of the Church, with all your brothers in the faith and with other ecclesial groups. Be leaven of dialogue with all men and women of good will. The third assignment is 'mission': As lay people, bring the leaven of the Gospel into homes and schools, into places of work and of recreation. The Gospel is the word of hope for the world."

  Following lunch, Pope John Paul greeted the Spanish and Italian delegations from Catholic Action, leaders and young people of Italian Catholic Action, members of Civil Protection and the cooks who prepared his lunch. The Pope departed just after 4 p.m. by helicopter for Castelgandolfo.
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VATICAN CITY, SEP 5, 2004 (VIS) - The Pope today left Castelgandolfo at 8:30 a.m. by helicopter for Loreto where he arrived one hour later. After being greeted by civil and religious authorities in the John Paul II Youth Center, he proceeded in the popemobile to the square in Montorso where at 10 a.m. he celebrated Mass and beatified the Servants of God and members of Catholic Action Fr. Pedro (Pere) Tarres i Claret (1905-1950), Alberto Marvelli (1918-1946), and Pina Surian (1915-1950), lay persons.

  Commenting on today's gospel, the Pope told the crowd of 250,000 that "to adhere to Christ is a 'demanding choice.'  It is not by chance that Jesus speaks of the 'cross.'  He immediately clarifies himself: 'follow me.'  This is the great message: we are not alone in carrying the cross.  He walks in front of us, opening up the way with the light of His example and with the strength of His love."
  Archbishop Leonardo Sandri, substitute for General Affairs of the Secretariat of State, read part of the homily about the new blesseds. "The three new blesseds," he said in Spanish, "became humble disciples and heroic witnesses through Jesus' cross. Pedro Tarres i Claret, first a doctor and then a priest, dedicated himself to the lay apostolate of the young people of Catholic Action in Barcelona. In exercising the medical profession, he gave himself with special solicitude to the poorest of the sick. … He accepted with faith and heroic patience a horrible illness which lead to his death at the young age of 45.  Despite his suffering, he used to repeat frequently: 'How good the Lord is to me! I am truly happy'."

  "Alberto Marvelli, strong and free-spirited young person, generous son of the Church of Rimini and of Catholic Action, thought of his short life of 28 years as a gift of love to Jesus for the good of his brothers and sisters.  … He made the daily Eucharist the center of his life. In prayer he sought inspiration for his political commitment, as he was convinced of the need to fully live as children of God in history, to make history a history of salvation."

  As a girl, Blessed Pina Suriano of the diocese of Monreale, "was close to the Young Women of Catholic Action which she later served as parish leader, finding in the association an important stimulus for human and cultural growth in an intense climate of fraternal friendship.  Little by little, she matured the simple and firm will of giving her young life to God as an offering of love, especially for the sanctification and perseverance of priests."

  Addressing all the members of Catholic Action, the Holy Father assured them that through the beatification of these three Servants of God, the Lord "says to you that holiness is the greatest gift you can give to the Church and to the world. May the Church's concern be your concern as well: that many men and women of our time may be overcome by Christ's attraction; that His Gospel may shine once again like a light of hope for the poor, sick and those who hunger for justice; may Christian communities be ever-more lively, open and attractive; may our cities be hospitable and liveable for all; may humanity be able to follow the ways of peace and fraternity."

  "It is the responsibility of you, lay people, to bear witness to the faith through the virtues which are more specific to your state in life: fidelity and tenderness in family, competence in work, tenacity in serving the common good, solidarity in social relations, creativity in undertaking works that are useful to evangelization and human promotion.  It is up to you also to show, in close communion with pastors, that the Gospel is timely, and that faith does not remove the believer from history, but submerges him more profoundly in it."

  During the prayers of the faithful, those present prayed for the innocent victims of the school siege in Beslan and for the people of Russia, affected by the tragedy.
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VATICAN CITY, SEP 4, 2004 (VIS) - More than 15,000 young people participated this evening in a gathering of prayer and celebration in Loreto, Italy in which Italian artists sang and young people from Sudan, Iraq, Spain and Sarajevo gave testimony.

  The celebration and pilgrimage, promoted by Italian Catholic Action, began on September 1 and will end tomorrow with Mass during which the Pope will beatify three members of Catholic Action: Alberto Marvelli, Pina Suriano and  Fr. Pedro Tarres i Claret.

  The program also included a recorded greeting from the Pope to a group of young people who presented "The Letter of the Christian Youth of Europe" to him two days ago in Castelgandolfo, an idea born during the August 5 to 8 European youth pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, Spain on the occasion of the Holy Year of St. James.

  "Be witnesses of Christ in order to build a Europe of hope. This is the message that you want to present to your peers and to the entire European community of today.  The dream that you carry in your heart is that of a Europe which is proud of its rich cultural and religious heritage and attentive at the same time to the values of humanity and life, solidarity and acceptance, justice and peace."

  "You are not embarrassed of the Gospel," continues the Holy Father, "and you are conscious that the civilization of love is not built by separating the Gospel and culture, but by looking for an ever-new synthesis between the two."

  "In order to carry out your mission," he concludes, "fidelity to Christ and to His Church, coherence and courage to the point of the heroism of sanctity is necessary.  It is the path that the saints of Europe took in centuries past. May their witness be a stimulus for each one of you, beloved young people who are following me by radio and television."

  The evening ended with a silent pilgrimage to the Holy House of Loreto.
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VATICAN CITY, SEP 4, 2004 (VIS) - This morning the Pope welcomed the Pueri Cantores International Federation and the Italian Association of St. Cecilia, who is the patron saint of music.

  Speaking French, he told the Pueri Cantores he was happy that, "thanks to your association, thousands of children and young people throughout the world take part in the beauty of the liturgy, thus contributing to 'expressing in an adequate fashion the Mystery received in the plenitude of the faith of the Church and according to suitable pastoral indications given by competent authorities." May young people, he added, "through song, be active members of the Church and true witnesses of the Gospel of Christ.

  The Pope noted that the St. Cecilia Association had gathered in Rome "for a meeting on Gregorian chant in the liturgy, on the occasion of the 14th centenary of the death of St. Gregory the Great." He expressed his "appreciation for the commitment you make to the field of sacred music, ever attentive to the teachings of the Magisterium. In so doing, you offer a valid contribution to the realization of the liturgical reform of Vatican Council II."
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VATICAN CITY, SEP 4, 2004 (VIS) - Cardinal Angelo Sodano, secretary of State, sent a telegram of condolences in the Holy Father's name to Archbishop Antonio Mennini, representative of the Holy See in the Russian Federation, for the victims, the majority of whom were children, of an attack on a school in Beslan, North Ossetia, Russia, after the rescue operation carried out yesterday:

  "Upon receiving the news of the bloody epilogue after the ferocious hostage situation in North Ossetia, with vile and merciless aggression against defenseless children and families, the Supreme Pontiff asks Your Excellency to convey his affection to the Russian people in this hour of dismay and sorrow. While expressing his spiritual closeness especially to the families of the dead and wounded the Holy Father entrusts the innocent victims of this tragedy to the mercy of the Almighty, and prays for their eternal repose. Once again His Holiness condemns every form of terrorism and hopes the spiral of hatred and violence does not prevail and at the same time he implores Our Lady, so venerated by Christians in Russia, to inspire in the hearts of everyone thoughts of wisdom and resolutions for peace and reconciliation.  He invokes on all those who have been tried by this savage attack, the comforting blessing of God almighty."
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VATICAN CITY, SEP 4, 2004 (VIS) - Philip McDonagh, the new ambassador of Ireland to the Holy See, was welcomed to Castelgandolfo this morning by the Holy Father who accepted his Letters of Credence.

  The Pope, in his talk in English, highlighted Ireland's "ancient heritage of warm hospitality and generous assistance to those in need. ... In this spirit of assistance to those in need Ireland has done much within the international community to alleviate suffering by providing financial assistance, educational opportunities and professional guidance, and by sending emergency relief funds and peace-keeping troops when requested. "

  He noted the "unwritten story of so many Irish men and women who have dedicated their lives to serve others," and pointed to "the late Archbishop Michael Courtney, who offered the supreme sacrifice of his life to bring peace and well-being to the suffering people of Burundi" as apostolic nuncio in that nation.

  "The experience of generations of Irish emigrants," he continued, "has made your people aware of the serious difficulties and precarious conditions often encountered by individuals and families seeking a new beginning in a foreign land. … The plight of refugees and those displaced by poverty, war or persecution is particularly dramatic and calls for special consideration and generosity. The Holy See hopes that the steps taken during the Irish presidency of the European Union in favour of policies of openness to other peoples will continue to inspire the community's attitude to immigrants from other continents and cultures."

  Speaking of Ireland's "remarkable economic growth, he said that "a more prosperous society has greater possibilities of becoming a more just and open society, but it is also faced with new challenges, including the danger of a certain spiritual impoverishment and indifference to the deeper moral and religious dimensions of life." He said that "aspirations to become a profoundly modern society" must include "reaffirming above all the incomparable dignity and the right to life of each human person."

   Citing the ambassador's words on "Ireland's hopes for the peace process," the Pope said he prays "that every effort is being made to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the Good Friday Agreement, which has given new impulse and new hope to the people of Northern Ireland. … May the initiatives of all those who seek peace and reconciliation be blessed by God's grace and bear fruit for the children of tomorrow."
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VATICAN CITY, SEP 4, 2004 (VIS) - This morning at Castelgandolfo, Pope John Paul received the Letters of Credence of Donald Smith, Canada's new ambassador to the Holy See. In his speech in English to the diplomat, he recalled his visits to Canada, "especially the joyous occasion of World Youth Day 2002 in Toronto."
  He stated that "Canada's generous and practical contributions to the building of a world of peace, justice and prosperity are widely recognized by the international community. Indeed, solidarity with developing nations is a well-known and laudable trait of your people, evidenced, among other things, by your nation's notable involvement in peace-keeping missions and the production of low-cost medicines for poorer nations." And he noted that "during thirty-five years of diplomatic relations the Holy See has worked together with Canada on a number of projects for the betterment of disadvantaged people and communities, including the promotion and application of the Ottawa Convention on landmines and the WTO agreement on intellectual property and public health."

  "Such gestures of solidarity," said the Holy Father, "spring from values and convictions which have shaped Canadian society throughout its history and upon which all authentic social progress depends."

  He went on to say that "Canada's openness to migration has brought increasing diversity and a great richness to your culture, fostering mutual accommodation and respect between ethnic groups. ... The successful integration of the multiple ethnic communities ... also illustrate for other nations that the respect due to every person is rooted in the common origin of all men and women, rather than in the fact of differences between peoples. It is this sublime and fundamental truth concerning the human person - created male and female in the image and likeness of God - which constitutes the immutable basis for all other anthropological truths."

   John Paul II then underscored that "for generations Canadians have recognized and celebrated the place of marriage at the heart of your society. ... The institution of marriage necessarily entails the complementarity of husbands and wives who participate in God's creative activity through the raising of children. Spouses thereby ensure the survival of society and culture, and rightly deserve specific and categorical legal recognition by the State. Any attempts to change the meaning of the word "spouse" contradict right reason: legal guarantees, analogous to those granted to marriage, cannot be applied to unions between persons of the same sex without creating a false understanding of the nature of marriage."

  The Pope closed by expressing confidence that "the splendid vision of supportive and stable family life, so dear to the people of Canada, will continue to offer to society the foundation upon which the aspirations of your nation can be built." He highlighted the Catholic Church's role in assisting "in upholding the essential social foundations of civic life" and in forming youth, "especially through her schools, and her social apostolate."
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