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Wednesday, November 10, 2004


VATICAN CITY, NOV 10, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience Archbishop Henryk Jozef Nowacki, apostolic nuncio in Slovakia.
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VATICAN CITY, NOV 10, 2004 (VIS) - The first symposium organized by the Council of European Episcopal Conferences (CCEE) and Symposium of the Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) starts this afternoon in Rome at the Salesianum on the theme "Communion and Solidarity between Africa and Europe." Under the patronage of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, the conference will end November 13.

  An estimated 150 bishops and representatives of international bodies, and delegates from 62 countries on the two continents are scheduled to participate, as are representatives from seven Vatican offices and delegates from Church organizations in Asia, Latin America and North America.

  Each day offers a theme for the meetings: November 11: Ecclesia in Africa and Ecclesia in Europe: The Situation - The Challenges - The Expectations; November 12: Cooperation between Africa and Europe: Theological Foundations - Prospects - Commitment to a more just and integral society; November 13: Co-responsibility for a renewed Church serving the world: Rise up and let us go.

  A communique on the conference notes that "In the wake of the signing of the European Union Constitution Treaty and while the new Commission is being put together the European Bishops hope that the building of the new Europe will be an experience of communion and solidarity where there will be no room for xenophobia, marginalization and hopelessness."

   "From the other side of the Mediterranean," says the press release, "the African Bishops are concerned by a situation where almost half the population lives below the poverty threshold and more than 140 million people live on incomes that do not allow them to respond constantly to the needs of their own families. Every day thousands of young Africans in despair try to enter Europe, risking their lives. The brain drain of the young continent shows no sign of abating; conflict situations impede lasting development."

  The concluding day will feature Mass at 9:30 a.m. in St. Peter's Basilica and an audience with the Holy Father at 11:30 a.m.


VATICAN CITY, NOV 10, 2004 (VIS) - Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, presided this morning at a press conference in the Holy See Press Office for the presentation of a three-day encounter organized by the council in Rocca di Papa near Rome to celebrate the 40th anniversary, on November 21, of the Vatican Council II Decree on Ecumenism "Unitatis redintegratio."

  "What was the message and aim of that document?" asked the cardinal. "What effect has it had over the years. At what point are we today with ecumenism? What is the path we have yet to follow? What does the future hold in store for us?" Trying to answer these questions, he said, is the objective of the forthcoming conference.

  Cardinal Kasper pointed to the first line of this Council document: "The restoration of unity among all Christians is one of the principal concerns of the Second Vatican Council. Christ the Lord founded one Church and one Church only." "Division," he said, "is opposed to the will of the Lord" and re-establishing unity is not a "secondary matter" but rather a priority for the entire Church, as it has been for the entire pontificate of Pope John Paul.

  Since 1964, he said, "reception and ecumenical awareness in the Church has grown." And he listed events that have taken place over the years that would have been "unimaginable before the Council," such as Pope Paul VI's historic meeting with Patriarch Athenagoras, the 1999 joint Catholic-Lutheran Declaration on the doctrine of  justification and the recent return to Moscow of the icon of the Mother of God of Kazan.

  The cardinal admitted that "there are problems and delusions" and "new challenges as well: on the one hand a relativism and qualitative post modern pluralism" and "on the other, an aggressive fundamentalism exercised by both old and new sects with whom it is impossible to establish .. a marked and respectful dialogue. ... In several ecclesial communities we have noted a sort of doctrinal - and above all ethical - liberalism."

  Questions still remain, said Cardinal Kasper, about the future path of ecumenism. "Uniform answers are impossible because the situation is so varied in the various parts of the world." He announced that "at the last plenary session of the pontifical council, it was suggested that a guide of spiritual ecumenism be prepared. The first draft will be presented and discussed in the upcoming congress."

  Bishop Brian Farrell, secretary of the pontifical council, indicated that 260 people will attend the conference, including representatives from 28 episcopal conferences in Africa, 21 from America, 28 from Asia, 25 from Europe and 2 from Oceania, as well as representatives from the Eastern Catholic patriarchates. The presence of 27 fraternal delegates from the Orthodox Churches, the Ancient Church in the East, various other Churches and Christian communities in the West and international Christian organizations is also expected.

  After an opening talk by Cardinal Kasper on "The Permanent and Urgent Significance of 'Unitatis redintegratio'," Metropolitan Johannis Zizioulas of Pergamo, of the ecumenical patriarchate of Constantinople, will speak about the Orthodox perspective of the decree, and Professor Geoffrey Wainwright of the World Methodist Council will give a lecture on the document from the point of view of the Churches of the Reformation.

  On the second day of the conference, Bishop Farrell will share the results of a questionnaire sent by the dicastery to the Episcopal conferences with up-to-date data on the ecumenical commitment in different local contexts. Msgr. Eleuterio F. Fortino, under-secretary of the council, will present a document whose title is "The Activity of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity from the promulgation of 'Unitatis redintegratio' till today."

  On November 13, Cardinals Ivan Dias, archbishop of Bombay, India, and Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, archbishop of Westminster, Great Britain, Chiara Lubich, president of the Focolare Movement, and Fr. Enzo Bianchi, prior of the Monastic Community of Bose, Italy will speak about future perspectives of the decree.

  On the same day at 5:30 p.m., the Pope is scheduled to preside at a celebration of Vespers in the Vatican Basilica, to which representatives of Churches and ecclesial communities, parishes and faithful of the diocese of Rome, movements and associations that work and pray for Christian unity have been invited.


VATICAN CITY, NOV 10, 2004 (VIS) - In multi-language greetings to pilgrims after today's general audience, which took place in both St. Peter's Basilica and the Paul VI Hall, the Holy Father welcomed pilgrims from Slovakia, including "the deacons from St. Charles Borromeo Major Seminary of Kosice which is celebrating the tenth anniversary of its re-birth."

  He had special words for his fellow Poles, noting that "tomorrow we will celebrate Poland's Independence Day. Let us thank the Lord for our country's freedom. May this particular gift, paid for by the blood of our fathers and our mothers, be fruitful in the country with the diligent fulfilling of duties by each and every person, with mutual understanding and with dedication to the common good. May the Lord in His providence bless our  country."
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VATICAN CITY, NOV 10, 2004 (VIS) - Today's general audience was celebrated in two parts. The first took place in St. Peter's Basilica where the Holy Father addressed  the faithful in German and English, following which he went to the Paul VI Hall to meet with other pilgrims.

  The Pope spoke about Psalm 61 in which "two types of trust are contrasted. They are two fundamental choices, one good and one perverse, which entail two types of moral conduct. There is above all trust in God…'God is my rock and my salvation; my fortress, I shall  not be shaken'."

  "There also exists," he continued, "another type of trust, of an idolatrous nature, which the psalmist focuses on with critical attention.  It is a trust that moves one to seek safety and stability in violence, covetousness and riches."

  John Paul II referred to "the first false god, the violence which humanity unfortunately continues to resort to even in these bloody days. Accompanying this idol is an immense procession of wars, oppression, perversions, torture and killing, inflicted without any trace of remorse."

  "The second false god is robbery which is expressed in extortion, social injustice, usury, political and economic corruption. Too many people cultivate the 'illusion' of satisfying in this way their own greed. Finally, riches is the third idol to which 'man's heart attaches itself' in the false hope of being saved from death and being assured of gaining power and prestige."

  The Pope indicated that "if we were conscious of our mortality and of the limits of man, we would not choose to trust in idols, nor would we organize our life on a series of fragile and inconsistent pseudo-values. We would aim rather for another type of trust, one whose center is in the Lord, source of eternity and peace."

  "The Second Vatican Council applied to priests the invitation of this psalm 'to keep our heart detached from riches'. … However, this call to reject perverse trust and to choose trust that brings us to God is valid for all and must become a guiding star in our daily behaviour, moral decisions, in our choice of lifestyle."
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