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Monday, February 23, 2004


VATICAN CITY, FEB 21, 2004 (VIS) - This morning the Holy Father received participants in the 10th General Assembly of the Pontifical Academy for Life which has just dedicated two days to studying the problem of artificial procreation.

After emphasizing that the theme that they are addressing "is rife with problems and implications that deserve careful examination," the Pope said: "Basic values are at stake, values not only for faithful Christians but also
for mankind."

John Paul II emphasized that the conjugal act in which husband and wife become father and mother "through total reciprocal gift of self makes them cooperators of the Creator while bringing a new human being into the world who is called to eternal life. This beautiful act which transcends the life of the parents cannot be substituted by a mere technological procedure which is devoid of human value and subject to the dictates of science and technology."

"The duty of scientists is that of researching the causes of male and female infertility. . Precisely for this reason, I want to encourage scientific research in order to naturally overcome sterility in married couples and I also want to urge specialists to rely on procedures which are effective for that purpose. My wish is that on the road to true prevention and authentic therapy the scientific community - this appeal goes out particularly to scientists who are believers - may be able to obtain comforting progress."

After affirming that the Pontifical Academy should do everything possible to promote initiatives that avoid "dangerous manipulations in the processes of artificial procreation," the Holy Father concluded by asking all faithful "to commit themselves to facilitating authentic ways of research, resisting in decisive moments suggestions of a technology that wants to substitute true paternity and maternity and therefore that does harm to the dignity of parents and children alike."
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VATICAN CITY, FEB 21, 2004 (VIS) - Osman Durak, the new ambassador from Turkey to the Holy See, today presented his Letters of Credence to the Holy Father who, in his talk to the diplomat in English, recalled that the fourth trip of his pontificate was to Turkey in November, 1979, adding that "the memories of that historic trip are indelibly etched in my mind."

The Pope underscored "Turkey's status as a democratic State governed by the rule of law and in which all citizens enjoy equal rights. Indeed, the rule of law and equality of rights are essential traits for any modern society that truly seeks to safeguard and promote the common good. In fulfilling this task, the clear distinction between the civil and religious spheres allows each of these sectors to exercise its proper responsibilities effectively, with mutual respect and in complete freedom of conscience."

"As Turkey prepares to establish new relations with Europe," he added, "I join the Catholic population in looking forward to recognition on the part of the Turkish authorities and institutions of the Church's juridical status in your country." He stressed that "the Church and the State are not rivals but partners. . I would express my hope that the Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights of the Turkish National Assembly will see fit to respond in an adequate manner to the petition presented to it last September concerning the common religious and pastoral needs of the Christian and non-Muslim minorities living in Turkey."

Quoting Blessed John XXIII, the Holy Father said that "the question of peace cannot be separated from that of human dignity and human rights. In other words, the far-reaching problems of order in world affairs cannot be properly addressed without dealing with issues of morality and ethical behavior. . Pope John called for a nobler vision of public authority and 'boldly challenged the world to think beyond its present state of disorder to new forms of international order commensurate with human dignity'."

"One of the primary means for securing this world order, and hence for pursuing peace, is international law, which today is called more and more to

become a law of peace in justice and solidarity. . The Catholic Church lends her full support to activities aimed at restoring peace and bringing about reconciliation. For this reason I welcome the news of the progress being made in moving towards a just settlement of the Cyprus question. I heartily encourage the parties involved to spare no effort in hastening the re-unification and pacification of the island."

John Paul II then noted that "within the wider international community, the United Nations has a particular role to play" and "still represents the most suitable agency for confronting the grave challenges facing the human family of the twenty-first century" including "the deadly scourge of terrorism (which) represents an especially pernicious problem" and "a heinous crime." He reiterated his "prayerful solidarity with the nation in the wake of recent terrorist attacks in your country."
CD/./TURKEY VIS 20040223 (500)


VATICAN CITY, FEB 21, 2004 (VIS) - The following communique was released today by Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, who has been in Russia since February 16:

"On February 19, 2004 in Moscow, a meeting took place between the Chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Patriarchate of Moscow, Metropolitan of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, Kirill, and the President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, Cardinal Walter Kasper. In the course of their conversations, the parties considered the matters at issue in relations between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church, especially in Russia and in Ukraine. In particular, Cardinal Kasper confirmed that the Holy See had received the written response of the Russian Orthodox Church on the possible establishment of a Greek-Catholic Patriarchate in Ukraine, as well as the responses of all the local Orthodox Churches on this question.

"Cardinal Kasper indicated that the unanimous position of all the Orthodox Churches is being given serious consideration by the authorities of the Catholic Church. The Catholic party assured the Orthodox party that it is the wish of the Holy See to maintain and further strengthen positive relations with the Orthodox Churches. Both sides agreed that for the solution of specific issues in relations between the Russian Orthodox and the Roman Catholic Churches a joint working group should be set up, composed of representatives of both Churches who will examine these questions and make proposals for their solution.

"Participating in the meeting were Archbishop Antonio Mennini, representative of the Holy See to the Russian Federation, Bishop Brian Farrell, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Reverend Father Jozef M. Maj, official of the same council, the Vice-Chairmen of the Department for External Church Relations of the Patriarchate of Moscow, Bishop Mark Egoryevsk and Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, and Reverend Father Igor Vyzhanov, acting secretary for Inter-Christian Affairs.


VATICAN CITY, FEB 21, 2004 (VIS) - Today at 6 p.m. in the Paul VI Hall, the Pope met with members of the community of the Pontifical Major Seminary of Rome on the occasion of the feast of their patroness, Our Lady of Trust. Also present were students from the Capranica, Redemptoris Mater and Divine Love Seminaries. The choir and orchestra of the diocese of Rome played an oratorio inspired by "Roman Triptych," John Paul II's book of poetry which was published last year.

Following the musical presentation, the Holy Father, in off-the-cuff remarks, thanked the young seminarians for the music: "Debitor factus sum," he said. "I am indebted to the Seminary of Rome for the beautiful interpretation that you have offered us of the oratorio inspired by "Roman Triptych," a work of poetry which many have written about. But this is perhaps the first time that I have heard this musical interpretation."

"I would like to tell you," he continued, "that this morning I celebrated Mass for the intentions of the Pontifical Major Seminary of Rome." In conclusion, he repeated: "'Debitor factus sum'. I am indebted and I must pay . perhaps a just, rather, that is, a fitting price. I will try to do so."

In his prepared speech, John Paul II affirmed that seminarians "are in a special way the future and hope of the Church; their presence in the seminary attests to the strength of attraction that Christ exercises on the heart of young people. A strength that does not take away from liberty, on the contrary, it allows it to fully flourish by choosing the greatest good: God to whose service we dedicate ourselves forever."

"Forever!" he exclaimed. "In this age, there is the impression of a certain reluctance on the part of young people in the face of definitive and total commitments. It is as if they were afraid of making decisions that last an entire life. Thank God, in the diocese of Rome that there are many young people who are willing to consecrate their lives to God and to their brothers in the priestly ministry. Nevertheless, we must pray incessantly to the Master of the harvest so that He may send new workers for His harvest, and so that He may sustain them in their commitment to a coherent adhesion to the demands of the Gospel."

The Pope ended by citing the example of Our Lady: "Without humble abandonment to God's will, which made the most beautiful 'yes' flourish in the heart of Mary, who could assume the responsibility of the priesthood? This is also important for young people who are preparing for Christian marriage."


VATICAN CITY, FEB 22, 2004 (VIS) - The following telegram of condolences was sent in Pope John Paul's name by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, secretary of State, to Archbishop Pietro Sambi, apostolic delegate in Jerusalem and Palestine, for the victims of this morning's suicide bomber in Jerusalem:

"The Supreme Pontiff expresses his firm condemnation of the latest brutal attack carried out in Jerusalem and, while assuring the family members of the victims of his spiritual closeness, he urges the authorities and citizens not to allow themselves to be carried away by the absurd dynamics of violence but to intensify their commitment to hasten the much desired hour of peace."


VATICAN CITY, FEB 22, 2004 (VIS) - In his traditional Sunday address to the faithful who came to St. Peter's Square to pray the Angelus with him, Pope John Paul spoke of today's feast of the Chair of Peter, the start of Lent this coming Ash Wednesday and the study of Latin.

He remarked that "the liturgical feast of the Chair of Peter underscores the singular mystery, entrusted by the Lord to the leader of the Apostles, of confirming and guiding the Church in the unity of faith. This is what the 'ministerium petrinum' is, that particular service that the Bishop of Rome is called to render to all Christians. An indispensable mission that is not based on human prerogatives but on Christ Himself as the cornerstone of the ecclesial community. Let us pray that the Church, in the variety of cultures, languages and traditions, will be unanimous in believing and professing the truth of faith and morals transmitted by the Apostles."

The Holy Father then noted that "Lent, which will start next Wednesday with the austere and significant rite of the imposition of ashes, is a privileged time to intensify this commitment of conversion to Christ. The Lenten itinerary will thus become a propitious time to examine ourselves with sincerity and truth and to return order to our own lives and to our relations with others and with God."

In greetings following the Angelus, the Pope, speaking Latin, addressed a group of professors and students from the Pontifical Superior Institute of Latin, created forty years ago today by Pope Paul VI with his Motu Proprio "Studia Latinitatis," as part of the Pontifical Salesian Athenaeum.
ANG/CHAIR PETER:LENT/. VIS 20040223 (290)


VATICAN CITY, FEB 23, 2004 (VIS) - Today the Holy Father received in separate audiences:

- Archbishop Adolfo Tito Yllana, apostolic nuncio in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.

- Three prelates from the French Episcopal Conference on their "ad limina" visit.

- Archbishop Andre Lacrampe of Besancon.

- Bishop Claude Schockert of Belfort-Montbeliard.

- Bishop Jean-Louis Papin of Nancy.

- Bishop Yves Patenotre of Saint-Claude.

- Cardinal Camillo Ruini, vicar general for the diocese of Rome and president of the Italian Episcopal Conference with Bishop Paolo Schiavon, auxiliary of the diocese of Rome for the Southern Pastoral Sector; Fr. Mario Sanfilippo, pastor of St. Anselmo alla Cecchignola Parish, with the parochial vicar; Fr. Fernando Altieri, pastor of St. Charles Borromeo Parish, with the parochial vicar; Fr. Ilija Perleta, pastor of St. John the Baptist de la Salle Parish and Fr. Francesco De Franco, pastor of St. Mary, Star of Evangelization Parish, with the parochial vicar.

On Saturday February 21, the Holy Father received in audience Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
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VATICAN CITY, FEB 23, 2004 (VIS) - As Wednesday, February 25 marks the beginning of Lent, we would like to advise our readers that the Pope's Message for Lent is available in its entirety as of today on the Vatican web site. Click here to retrieve the complete text.
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VATICAN CITY, FEB 23, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father confirmed Bishop Francesco Lambiasi, emeritus of Anagni-Alatri, Italy, as general ecclesiastical assistant of Italian Catholic Action for the next three years.

On Saturday February 21, it was made public that the Holy Father appointed Bishop Hector Sabatino Cardelli of Concordia, Argentina as bishop of San Nicolas de los Arroyos (area 14,500, population 427,000, Catholics 390,000, priests 114, permanent deacons 6, religious 95), Argentina.
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