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Tuesday, March 2, 2004


VATICAN CITY, MAR 2, 2004 (VIS) - As is customary at the beginning of Lent, the prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches has sent a letter to all bishops in which he requests assistance for Christians in the Holy Land in light of the "delicate social, political and economic situation in this region."

"There are many Christians in the Holy Land who have left their country to look elsewhere for another home where they can live in peace and dignity," writes Cardinal Ignace I Daoud. "This situation makes necessary and urgent the intervention of the whole Catholic Church in order to preserve their presence in the birthplace of Christianity."

The cardinal affirms that his dicastery "remains close to our brothers and sisters in the Holy Land and works to make sure that they may concretely feel the solidarity, the concern and the support of the universal Church."

In the message, he recalls the Holy Father's recent remarks to the members of ROACO, an assembly of aid agencies providing assistance to the Oriental Churches: "A special collection is designated for this land, and my venerable predecessors beginning with Leo XIII have strongly encouraged all Catholic communities to contribute generously. Alas, the Holy Land continues to be an arena of conflicts and violence and Catholic communities present there suffer and need support and assistance in their many necessities."

"Therefore, in recognition of the duty of ecclesial communion with the Christians in the Holy Land I wish to address with great confidence a call to all the local Churches and Christian communities around the world asking them to fulfill their responsibility of prayer and concrete solidarity."

Cardinal Daoud emphasizes that this assistance "is an expression of our response to the words of the Lord: 'Whatever you do for the least of these, you do unto me'."

At the end of the letter, the cardinal conveys "the deepest gratitude of the Apostolic See to all those who contribute with commitment and generosity to sustain the presence of the Christian community in the Holy Land."
CEO/HOLY LAND/DAOUD VIS 20040302 (350)


VATICAN CITY, MAR 2, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Fr. Victor Sanchez Espinosa of the archdiocese of Puebla de los Angeles, Mexico as auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese of Mexico City (area 1,479, population 7,380,687, Catholics 6,999,402, priests 1,735, permanent deacons 76, religious 6,891), Mexico. The bishop-elect was born in 1950 in Puebla de los Angeles and was ordained a priest in 1976.
NEA/./SANCHEZ VIS 20040302 (60)


VATICAN CITY, MAR 2, 2004 (VIS) - The pontificate of Pope John Paul II, who was elected as Successor of Peter on October 16, 1978 and who solemnly began his petrine ministry six days later, becomes the third longest in the history of the Church on March 14th. On that day he overtakes Pope Leo XIII who reigned for 25 years and 5 months.

John Paul II will follow St. Peter, whose precise dates are unknown and Pope Pius IX, whose pontificate lasted over 31 years, from his election on June 16, 1846 to his death on February 7, 1878.

Starting from the date of his election, March 14 marks the 9,281st day of the Holy Father's pontificate. Calculating the length of pontificates took into account leap years.
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