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Wednesday, December 3, 2003


VATICAN CITY, DEC 3, 2003 (VIS) - Made public today was a message by the Holy Father for the World Day of the Sick which will take place on February 11 at the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes where the Virgin appeared on the same day in 1858.

'This shrine was chosen,' writes the Pope in the message dated December 1st, 'because in 2004 the 150(th) anniversary of the proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception will be celebrated.'

The Pope emphasizes that with the Immaculate Conception of Mary 'began the great work of redemption, carried out with the precious blood of Christ. ' If Jesus is the font of life that conquers death, Mary is the careful mother who strives to meet the needs of her children, obtaining for them health in body and soul. This is the message that the Shrine of Lourdes constantly proposes to pilgrims and those who are devoted. This is also the meaning of the spiritual and bodily miracles that are registered in the grotto of Massabielle.'

'The miracle of the Immaculate Conception,' he continues, 'reminds believers of a fundamental truth: it is possible to be saved only by participating docilely in the plan of the Father who wanted to redeem the world through the death and resurrection of His only son. ' Although present in earthly life, illness and death, nevertheless, lose their negative sense. In the light of faith, the death of the body, overcome by Christ's death, becomes the necessary passage to the fullness of immortal life.'

After emphasizing that life 'must be accepted, respected and defended from its beginning to its natural end,' John Paul II says: 'Nowadays we talk about 'genetic engineering' when referring to the extraordinary possibilities that science today offers to intervene in the sources of life. All authentic progress in this field must be encouraged as long as the rights and dignity of the person from conception are respected. No one has the right to destroy or indiscriminately manipulate human life.'

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VATICAN CITY, DEC 3, 2003 (VIS) - In today's general audience, celebrated in the Paul VI Hall, the Pope spoke about Psalm 113 A, 'Miracles of the Exodus from Egypt,' which celebrates the 'liberation of Israel from the oppression of the Egyptian Pharaoh' which is a 'symbol of another more radical and universal liberation.'

In the psalm, the Holy Father said, the exodus of Israel is described up to 'the entrance into the promised land which is God's 'sanctuary', or the place where He is present in the midst of the people.'

'At the beginning of the psalm, during the exodus, the Red Sea parts so that the people of Israel may pass, and, at the end of the journey in the desert, the Jordan takes its course again, leaving its bed dry in order to allow the sons and daughters of Israel to cross. In the middle, the experience of Mt. Sinai is evoked: now even the mountains participate in the great divine revelation which is fulfilled on their peaks, similar to living creatures. ' The upheaval of the mountains and of hills was therefore an expression of adoration for the Lord, God of Israel, an act of glorious exaltation of God, transcendent savior.'

John Paul II indicated that 'God transforms the rock into a pool of water which then becomes a lake: at the root of this miracle is His paternal concern for the people. The gesture takes on a symbolic meaning: it is the sign of the Lord's saving love that sustains and regenerates the people while they go forward in the desert of history.'

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VATICAN CITY, DEC 3, 2003 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

- Appointed Bishop Sergio Aparecido Colombo, auxiliary of San Carlos, Brazil, as bishop of Paranava¡ (area 8,699, population 237,071, Catholics 201,500, priests 40, religious 100), Brazil. He succeeds Bishop Rubens Augusto de Souza Espinola whose resignation from the same diocese the Holy Father accepted upon having reached the age limit.

- Erected the ecclesiastical province of Toliara, Madagascar, taking territory from Fianarantsoa, making the dioceses of Morombe, Morondava and Tolagnore suffragens of the province. He appointed Bishop Fulgence Rabeony, S.I., as metropolitan archbishop of Toliara (area 43,570, population 750,000, Catholics 86,000, priests 38, religious 240), Madagascar.
- Appointed Bishop Andrea Bruno Mazzocato, of Adria-Rovigo, Italy, as bishop of Treviso (area 2,194, population 800,161, Catholics 770,050, priests 667, permanent deacons 17, religious 1,285), Italy. He succeeds Bishop Paolo Magnani whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted upon having reached the age limit.

- Appointed Msgr. Giuseppe Zenti, vicar general of the diocese of Verona, Italy, as bishop of Vittorio Veneto (area 1,420, population 327,000, Catholics 319,400, priests 341, permanent deacons 11, religious 668), Italy. The bishop-elect was born in 1947 in San Martino Buon Albergo, Italy and was ordained a priest in 1971. He succeeds Alfredo Magarotto whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted upon having reached the age limit.

- Appointed Msgr. Antonio Lanfranchi, vicar general of the diocese of Piacenza-Bobbio, Italy, as bishop of Cesena-Sarsina (area 1,530, population 160,000, Catholics 157,970, priests 182, permanent deacons 17, religious 158), Italy. The bishop-elect was born in 1946 in Grondone di Ferriere, Italy and was ordained a priest in 1971. He succeeds Bishop Lino Esterino Garavaglia, O.F.M.Cap., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted upon having reached the age limit.

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VATICAN CITY, DEC 3, 2003 - Msgr. Renato Volante, head of the Holy See Delegation, spoke today on the occasion of the 32(rd) session of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Conference which is taking place from November 29 to December 10 in Rome.

In his speech, Msgr. Volante reaffirmed the Holy See's appreciation for 'the valuable action that FAO devotes in favor of the agricultural and food development' and recalled that as an observer his delegation wants 'to encourage the stakeholders' commitment ' governments, organizations of civil society and individuals ' and to support the efforts made to date for an 'appropriate and sustainable' management of the natural resources of Creation, in view of that auspicious food security, which should be made up to the dignity of human beings, in every part of our planet.'

Later on, referring to the World Food Summit which took place in 1996 and in which member states of the FAO committed to reduce the figure of 800 million hungry people in half by the year 2015, he said: 'Hunger and malnutrition not only prevent people from full development, but also constitute an evident denial of their fundamental rights, those rights stated and asserted in various international instruments and declarations. ... And only authentic solidarity, achieved through proportional contributions to budget resources, will make it possible to look ahead confidently.'

After recalling that food and agricultural resources mainly determine the productive capacity of countries and generate jobs and development, he underscored that the Holy See 'heartily wishes, because of the global vision of attention that the Church pays to the poorest and the weakest, that it would be possible to provide, in adequate form, assistance to all artisanal and practices which are in fact the basic economic reality for most developing countries.'

Msgr. Volante concluded by reminding those present of the 'Final Declaration: International Alliance against Hunger,' adopted in 2002 at the of the 'World Food Summit ' Five Years Later,' and affirmed that the issue depends on willingness and political responsibility. He then went on to say: 'The concept of responsibility ' is present in the different aspects of the sectors of agriculture, forestry and fisheries, keeping particularly in mind questions connected with environment and management of resources.'

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