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Monday, March 8, 2004


VATICAN CITY, MAR 6, 2004 (VIS) - Upon the conclusion of the spiritual exercises that took place this week in the "Redemptor Mater" Chapel in the Vatican, the Holy Father, on behalf of all the participants, thanked Msgr. Bruno Forte, professor of the theology faculty of the University of Southern Italy and member of the International Theological Commission, who preached the spiritual exercises.

John Paul II affirmed that during the spiritual retreat, Msgr. Forte guided him, along with his collaborators in the Roman Curia, "in contemplating the mystery of Christ, as he proposed to us meditations on the theme: 'Following You, light of life'."

"Thank you," he continued, addressing Msgr. Forte, "because, with the style that characterizes your theological research and pastoral care, you offered precious stimulus to our minds and our hearts in order to follow with greater determination the One Who is the light of the world." The Pope also expressed his appreciation "for the colloquial tone" of his preaching, "which helped us to elevate our spirit to God in a contemplative manner, full of faith and love, to which I always invite the People of God, urging Christian communities to stand out in the middle of the world above all for their 'art of prayer'."

The Pope assured Msgr. Forte that "for all of this the Lord, Who entrusted you with the ecclesial service which you carry out with zeal and faithfulness, will reward you. May Our Lady, who helped us to meditate in the context of our earthly pilgrimage toward the celestial homeland, watch over you and your apostolic activity."


VATICAN CITY, MAR 6, 2004 (VIS) - The following statement was given this morning by the vice director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Ciro Benedettini, C.P., on the visit today to Pope John Paul by German President Johannes Rau:

"This morning the Holy Father received Johannes Rau, president of the Federal Republic of Germany, accompanied by his wife and an entourage. After his conversation with the Holy Father, the president was received by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, secretary of State. Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, secretary for Relations with States, and Gerhard Friedrich Karl Westdickenberg, German ambassador to the Holy See, were also present.

"In the course of the conversation, there was an exchange of opinions on the relations between Church and State in Germany and on the importance of religious values in the life of peoples, with particular reference to the desire of Catholics in Europe - who make up almost 80% of the total population - to see the historic presence of Christianity in the life of the continent recognized.

"During the encounter, the Cardinal Secretary of State gave President Rau the Grand Collar of the Order of Pius IX, reformed by Pius XII, in recognition of his contribution to the good relations between Church and State in Germany."


VATICAN CITY, MAR 6, 2004 (VIS) - Pope John Paul this morning welcomed German President Johannes Rau to the Vatican, telling him "your visit is an expression of the cordial relations between the Federal Republic of Germany and the Holy See," adding that he "hoped these relations will not only continue but will intensify."

"Germany is present in Europe," said the Pope, "with the riches of its 'lander,' its states. Germany's federal structure, which allows for a harmonious development of the cultural variety of your regions, in a certain way can become a model for European unity. Christianity without a doubt is part of the cultural legacy of the continent. Germany is rich in signs of the Christian faith, which still today permeates the lives of many people. Certainly, politicians have the responsibility of making this precious legacy in European and German society even more fruitful."

The Holy Father noted that "Germany today enjoys a good reputation. It is willing in a generous way to help in the development of the poorest countries, which it achieves thanks to the assistance from Christian organizations that finance development projects. Many people have been able to see and feel that Germans do not think only about themselves and their problems but they are also concerned with justice, solidarity and education, not just at home, but throughout the world.."


VATICAN CITY, MAR 8, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

- Appointed Archbishop Giovanni Battista Morandini, apostolic nuncio in Korea and Mongolia, as apostolic nuncio in Syria.

- Appointed as members of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity: Cardinal Theodore Edgar McCarrick, archbishop of Washington, U.S.A, and Bishops Theotonius Gomes, auxiliary of Dhaka, Bangladesh and Michael Ernest Putney of Townsville, Australia.

The Holy Father appointed some new members of the International Theological Commission and renewed the mandate of other members who have served for the last five years. The commission is now composed of the following members:

- Archbishop Roland Minnerath of Dijon, France.

- Fr. Peter Damian Akpunonu, Nigeria, docent of Sacred Scripture at St. Mary of the Lake University in Mundelein, Chicago, U.S.A.

- Fr. Serge Thomas Bonino, O.P., docent of Dominican Studies in the Faculty of Philosophy at the "Institut Catholique de Toulouse," France.

- Fr. Geraldo Luis Borges Hackmann, docent of Dogmatic Theology and director of the Department of Theology at the Pontifical Catholic University in Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, Brazil.

- Sr. Sara Butler, M.S.B.T., docent of Systematic Theology at St. Mary of the Lake University, Mundelein, Chicago, U.S.A.

- Fr. Antonio Castellano, S.D.B., docent of Patrology and Sacramental Theology at the Catholic University in Chile, Santiago, and at the Pontifical Salesian University in Rome.

- Fr. Basil Cho Kyu-Man, docent of Dogmatic Theology at the Catholic University of Korea (South Korea).

- Fr. Adelbert Denaux, docent in the Faculty of Dogmatic Theology in Louvain, Belgium.

- Fr. Santiago Del Cura Elena, docent of Dogmatic Theology in the North of Spain Faculty of Theology, Burgos, Spain.

- Fr. Gilles Emery, O.P., docent on Dogmatic Theology in the Faculty of Theology at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland.

- Msgr. Ricardo Antonio Ferrara, docent of Dogmatic Theology in the Faculty of Theology at St. Mary of Buenos Aires Pontifical Catholic University in Argentina.

- Msgr. Bruno Forte, docent of Dogmatic Theology in the Faculty of Theology of Southern Italy in Naples.

- Fr. Pierre Gaudette, docent of theology at Laval University in Quebec, and secretary general of the Assembly of Bishops in Quebec, Canada.

- Barbara Hallensleben (Germany), docent of theology in the Faculty of Theology at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland.

- Fr. Savio Hon Tai-Fai, S.D.B., docent of Dogmatic Theology at Sacred Heart College, Hong Kong, China.

- Fr. Tomislav Ivancic, docent of Fundamental Theology in the Faculty of Theology in Zagreb, Croatia.

- Fr. Istvan Ivancso, docent of Byzantine liturgy at St. Athanasius Higher Institute and rector of the Theological Institute in Nyiregyhaza, Hungary.

- Fr. Tony Kelly, C.S.S.R., docent of Theology in the Faculty of Philosophy and Theology at the Australian Catholic University in Australia.

- Fr. Luis Ladaria, S.J., (Spain), docent of Dogmatic Theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.

- Fr. Jan W. M. Liesen, lecturer of Exegesis and Biblical Theology at the Seminary of Rolduc, Netherlands.

- Fr. John Michael McDermott, S.J., docent of Dogmatic Theology at the Pontifical Josephinum College in Columbus, U.S.A.

- Fr. Paul McPartlan, docent of Dogmatic Theology at the University of London, Great Britain.

- Fr. Thomas Norris, docent of theology at Saint Patrick's College in Maynooth, Ireland.

- Johannes Reiter, docent of Moral Theology in the Faculty of Theology in Mainz, Germany.

- Fr. Paul Rouhana, docent of Theology at the Higher Institute of Religious Sciences in Beirut, Lebanon.

- Msgr. Ignazio Sanna, docent of Dogmatic Theology and pro-rector of the Pontifical Lateran University, Rome.

- Fr. Leonard Santedi Kinkupu, docent of Dogmatic Theology in the Faculty of Theology in Kinshasa and rector of the John Paul I University Seminary, Democratic Republic of the Congo.

- Thomas Soeding, docent of Biblical Theology at the Bergische Universitat Gesamthochschule in Wuppertal, Germany.

- Fr. Jerzy Szymik, docent of Dogmatic Theology at the Catholic University in Lublin, Poland.

- Fr. Dominic Veliath, S.D.B., docent of Systematic Theology at the Kristu Jyoti College in Bangalore, India.

- Appointed Fr. Luis Ladaria, S.J., docent of Dogmatic Theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, as secretary general of the
International Theological Commission.

- Appointed Fr. Alberto Ricardo da Silva, rector of the major interdiocesan seminary in Dili, East Timor, as bishop of the same diocese (area 7,767, population 558,610, Catholics 514,089, priests 78, religious 203). The bishop-elect was born in 1943 in Aileu, East Timor and was ordained a priest in 1972.

- Appointed Bishop Basilio do Nascimento, apostolic administrator "sede vacante et ad nutum Sanctae Sedes" of Dili as bishop of Baucau (area 6,842, population 265,389, Catholics 253,120, priests 35, religious 132), East Timor.

- Appointed Fr. Francisco Domingo Barbosa Da Silveira, vicar general and pastoral vicar of the diocese of Salto, Uruguay, as bishop of Minas (area 16,200, population 71,100, Catholics 57,000, priests 14, religious 28), Uruguay. The bishop-elect was born in 1944 in Tambores, Uruguay and was ordained a priest in 1972.

- Appointed Msgr. Fausto Tardelli, pro-vicar general of the archdiocese of Lucca, Italy, as bishop of San Miniato (area 691, population 154,937, Catholics 151,419, priests 71, permanent deacons 4, religious 151), Italy. The bishop-elect was born in 1951 in Lucca and was ordained a priest in 1974. He succeeds Bishop Edoardo Ricci whose resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese the Holy Father accepted upon having reached the age limit.

- Appointed Fr. Juan Tomas Oliver Climent, O.F.M., provincial minister of Valencia, Aragon and the Balearic Islands, Spain, as coadjutor bishop of the apostolic vicariate of Requena (area 80,000, population 127,000, Catholics 111,000, priests 8, religious 21), Peru. The bishop-elect was born in 1951 in Carcaixent, Spain and was ordained a priest in 1975.

- Appointed Martin Pablo Perez Scremini, pastor of "Nuestra Se¤ora del Carmen de la Aguada" in Uruguay, as auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese of Montevideo (area 540, population 1,350,000, Catholics 850,000, priests 249, permanent deacons 27, religious 916), Uruguay. The bishop-elect was born in 1949 in Montevideo, Uruguay and was ordained a priest in 1985.
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 6, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father celebrated Mass this afternoon in the Paul VI Hall for the faithful of the Roman parishes of Saints Bridget, Hilary and Maximus.

Commenting on the Gospel of the second Sunday in Lent which recounts the Transfiguration of the Lord on Mount Tabor, the Pope recalled that "Christ reveals His glory as the son of God in the presence of Peter, James and John. . In Him, blazing in glory, we recognize the chosen one, the Messiah, 'the light of the world,' who gives meaning to our life. A mysterious voice from on high invites us to follow Him docilely: 'He is my Son, listen to him!"

"Listen to and follow Christ! Twenty-five years ago, at the beginning of Lent, I felt the need to urge the entire Christian people toward this
fundamental experience. 'Jesus is the chief way of the Church,' I wrote in my first encyclical 'Redemptor hominis' which I would like to symbolically present to you again this afternoon, dear parishioners."

John Paul II affirmed that in the area served by these three parishes, "the phenomenon of 'sects' is unfortunately widespread. These sects try especially to attract those who are lonely or experiencing difficulty. It is necessary in this context to make a strong and courageous evangelizing effort. It is necessary for Jesus, center of the world and of history, to encounter every human being because in the mystery of Redemption 'the question of man is inscribed with a special vigor of truth and love'. Announcing Christ means allowing others, especially those who suffer from spiritual or material poverty, to experience divine tenderness and mercy."

After urging "every community, under the generous and illuminated guidance of their respective pastors, to become a place of warm acceptance and solidarity," the Holy Father emphasized that the Eucharist should be the "center of every pastoral project." He invited families in a special way to make the Eucharist central to their lives as they are "called to accompany your children in their preparation for the sacraments of Christian initiation and to follow them in adolescence and beyond so that they may carry out faithfully the mission that God has for them."


VATICAN CITY, MAR 8, 2004 (VIS) - Prior to reciting the Angelus today, the Holy Father told the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square that "during the week of spiritual exercises in the Vatican, I did not forget the painful situations existing in several African countries, in the Middle East, and above all in the Holy Land and Iraq."

"These are our brothers and sisters who are suffering from deplorable acts of violence and terrorism that can only worsen the living conditions of those dear populations. While I pray for them, and ask you for prayers, I would like once again to ask everyone to undertake the path of pardon and reconciliation."


VATICAN CITY, MAR 7, 2004 (VIS) - During his Angelus reflections, the Pope focussed on today's Gospel narration of the Transfiguration, noting that "the evangelist Luke underlines that Jesus was transfigured 'while praying' on a high mountain, immersed in intimate and deep dialogue with God the Father. A dazzling light came from His person, in anticipation of the glory of the resurrection."

"Every year in preparation for Easter," said the Pope, "Lent invites us to follow Christ in the mystery of His prayer, a source of light and strength in the hour of trial. Praying, in fact, means emerging oneself with the spirit of God in an attitude of humble adherence to His will. From this confident abandonment to God comes the inner light that transfigures man, making him a witness of the Resurrection. This only happens in listening to and following Christ up to the passion and the cross. To Him therefore we must turn 'because only in Him, the Son of God, is there salvation."

John Paul II then remarked that he made this very same exhortation to the whole world 25 years ago, at the start of Lent with his first Encyclical "Redemptoris hominis." He added that finding salvation only in Christ "is a truth that is still current today."


VATICAN CITY, MAR 8, 2004 (VIS) - Made public today was a speech made on March 4 by Professor Marilyn Ann Mortone, member of the Holy See delegation to the 48th Commission on the Status of Women which is taking place March 1-12 at the United Nations in New York.

She said that "in the context of their essential role in the maintenance of peace and security of the world, women have demonstrated time after time their substantial contributions that are based on untiring concern for achieving solidarity and the common good for all humanity."

After emphasizing the indispensable role of women in all spheres of life, she indicated that "through feminine insight, women enrich the world's understanding and help to make human relations between and amongst people more honest and authentic."

When speaking about the prevention and solution of conflicts, Professor Martone affirmed that "too many women today are victims of violence and war." She recalled "the tragedy of domestic violence" and the "suffering endured by women in national and international conflicts; this includes the problem of refugee and internally displaced women who have to cope not only with their personal suffering but also with the fatigue and responsibility of taking care in such desperate situations of the children and elder members of the family."

"The time has come to condemn and sanction vigorously all sexual brutalities perpetrated against women. In this regard, the involvement of women in the management of material help and medical and psychological assistance to the victims of such violence could be of significant importance," she exclaimed.

The representative of the Holy See concluded by highlighting another form of conflict, "the widespread hedonistic and commercial culture which encourages the systematic exploitation of girls and women. The trafficking in women and children must cease. The contribution of women in the decision-making process to combat this shameful trafficking can be decisive, because they are the first victims of such crimes."


VATICAN CITY, MAR 8, 2004 (VIS) - The Joint Committee of the Permanent Committee of al-Azhar for Dialogue with the Monotheistic Religions and the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, which held its annual meeting this year in the Vatican on February 24-25, 2004, issued a common declaration today, signed by Sheikh Fawzi al-Zafzaf, president of the Permament Committee of al-Azhar and by Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, president of the pontifical council.

It noted that "two papers were presented during the meeting on the theme 'The rejection of generalizations and the importance of self-criticism': from the Christian side by Dr Youssef Kamal El-Hage, professor at Notre Dame University of Louaizeh, Lebanon, and from the Muslim side by Sheikh Fawzi al-Zafzaf."

"The members of the committee considered and discussed the contents of the two papers. They noticed that there is agreement in the two religions, Christianity and Islam, in refusing generalization in judging people and that where sin is committed, whether by an individual or by a community, only that individual or community is to be held accountable and not others. Both religions advocate self-criticism at the individual and community level and the examination of conscience and asking pardon, a way of behaviour that may be an example to others."

The Committee appealed "to all to avoid generalizations in judging people and to allocate responsibility only to those who have committed transgressions and not to blame innocent people for the misdeeds of others. It also appealed to all to practise examination of conscience and to admit guilt whenever applicable as a way of returning to right conduct."

The declaration concluded by stating that "the aim of the Joint Committee is to universalize justice, peace and love among all."


VATICAN CITY, MAR 8, 2004 (VIS) - Today the Holy Father received in separate audiences:

- Six prelates from the Episcopal Conference of the Netherlands on their "ad limina" visit:

- Cardinal Adrianus Johannes Simonis, archbishop of Utrecht, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Gerard Johannes Nicolaus de Korte.

- Bishop Martinus Petrus Maria Muskens of Breda.

- Bishop Willem Jacobus Eijk of Groningen.

- Bishop Joseph Maria Punt of Haarlem, apostolic administrator "ad nutum Sanctae Sedis" of the Military Ordinariate for the Netherlands, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Johannes Gerardus Maria van Bursteden.

- Archbishop Jean-Claude Perisset, apostolic nuncio in Romania and Moldova.

- Archbishop Anselmo Guido Pecorari, apostolic nuncio in Rwanda, accompanied by family members.

On Saturday March 6, the Holy Father received in separate audiences:

- Johannes Rau, president of the Federal Republic of Germany, accompanied by his wife and an entourage.

- Archbishop Juliusz Janusz, apostolic nuncio in Hungary.

- Msgr. Bruno Forte, preacher of the Spiritual Exercises.
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