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Monday, March 22, 2004


VATICAN CITY, MAR 20, 2004 (VIS) - Pope John Paul celebrated Mass this evening in the Paul VI Hall for the faithful of four Roman parishes - St. Maximilian Kolbe, St. Patrick, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque and Mary, Help of Christians - thus bringing to 314 the number of parishes that he has encountered during his more than 25 years as Pope and bishop of Rome.

He began his homily by noting that "we have reached the fourth Sunday of Lent, traditionally known as Laetare Sunday, and we have a foretaste, in a certain way, of the spiritual joy of Easter."

Turning to the parishes, which are on the eastern periphery of Rome, the Pope highlighted their "constant effort at evangelization. I congratulate all those who, notwithstanding the precarious nature of the structures, assiduously follow the itineraries of Christian formation and catechesis, dedicate themselves to the liturgy and to charity towards our needy brothers, and prepare young people for matrimony and family life."

He pointed out that Tor Vergata, which hosted the "unforgettable" World Youth Day in August of the Jubilee Year 2000, is part of the same area as St. Margaret Mary Alacoque parish. "At the center of that memorable event was the Cross of the Holy Year of the Redemption. Dear young people, make the Cross your basic point of reference. Draw from the crucified and risen Christ the courage to evangelize our world, so overwhelmed by divisions, hatred, wars and terrorism, but rich in so many human and spiritual resources. I look forward to seeing many of you in St. Peter's Square on Thursday, April 1" and "on Palm Sunday for World Youth Day."

The Holy Father remarked on how "open and welcoming" the parishes are. "Among you there are many Polish and Latin American faithful. These brothers and sister of ours feel loved as Christ loved and served every man and every woman right up to the sacrifice of Himself, And this is the concrete witness of faith that touches the hearts of those who are distant."


VATICAN CITY, MAR 20, 2004 (VIS) - Today in the Clementine Hall John Paul II received 400 participants in an international congress promoted by the World Federation of Catholic Medical Associations (FIAMC) and by the Pontifical Academy for Life.

After recalling that conference members focussed on the theme of the clinical condition known as the "vegetative state," the Pope affirmed that "the intrinsic value and the personal dignity of every human being do not change, no matter what the specific circumstances of their life. Human beings, even if they are seriously ill and impaired in the exercise of their highest functions, are and always will be human beings and will never become 'vegetables' or 'animals'. Our sisters and brothers who are in a 'vegetative state' fully preserve their dignity."

"Physicians and health workers, society and the Church have a moral duty toward these persons which they cannot shirk, without neglecting the requirements of professional deontology as well as Christian and human solidarity. Sick people in a vegetative state, waiting to recover or for a natural end, have the right to basic health care (nutrition, hydration, hygiene, warmth, etc)."

The Holy Father emphasized that water and food, even when administered artificially, are "a natural means of preserving life, not a medical procedure. Therefore, their use must be considered ordinary and appropriate and as such, morally obligatory."

The probability that there is little hope for recovery, "when the vegetative state lasts longer than a year, cannot ethically justify abandoning or interrupting basic care, including food and hydration, of a patient." Death by starvation or dehydration carried out "consciously or deliberately is truly euthanasia by omission."

The Pope recalled the "moral principal according to which even the slightest doubt of being in the presence of a person who is alive requires full respect and prohibits any action that would anticipate his or her death. . The value of the life of a man cannot be subjected to the judgement of quality expressed by other men; it is necessary to promote positive activities to counteract pressure for the suspension of food and hydration, as a means to putting an end to the life of these patients."

"Above all," he added, "we must support the families" that have a patient in the vegetative state. "We cannot leave them alone with the heavy human, economic and psychological weight." Society must promote "specific programs of assistance and rehabilitation; economic support and help at home for the family; . and support structures when there are no family members able to address the problem." In addition, he said, volunteers provide "fundamental support to help the family to escape isolation and to help them to feel a valuable part of society and not abandoned by social institutions."

John Paul II ended by emphasizing that "in these situations spiritual and pastoral help is especially important in order to understand the deeper meaning of a seemingly desperate situation."


VATICAN CITY, MAR 21, 2004 (VIS) - This morning in St. Peter's Square, the Holy Father celebrated the Eucharist and beatified four Servants of God: Luigi Talamoni (1848-1926); Matilde del Sagrado Corazon Tellez Robles (1841-1902); Piedad de la Cruz Ortiz Real (1842-1916) and Maria Candida dell'Eucharistia (1884-1949). Before praying the Angelus, the Pope encouraged Spaniards to keep up their "hope, courage and generosity," after the March 11 attacks in Madrid.

Speaking about the new Blesseds, John Paul II said that the Italian priest Luigi Talamoni, who taught the future Pope Pius XI in the seminary, "was committed to the ministry of confession and to the service of the poor, those in prison and especially the poor who are sick. What a brilliant example he is for everyone! I urge you all, especially the priests and the Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy of St. Gerard which he founded, to follow his example."

The Pope said that Spanish Blessed Matilde Tellez Robles, virgin and foundress of the Congregation of the Daughters of Mary, Mother of the Church, "consecrated herself through an intense prayer life to transforming the society of her time by taking care of orphan girls, making home visits to the sick, promoting women workers and by collaborating in ecclesial activities. Profoundly devoted to the Eucharist, . her luminous witness is a call to live in adoration of God and in service to our brothers and sisters, two fundamental pillars of the Christian commitment."

Referring to Mother Piedad de la Cruz Ortiz Real, Spanish virgin and founder of the Congregation of the Salesian Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Holy Father said that "she united different groups of young people who wanted to show the love of the provident Father, manifested in the heart of Jesus, to

the poor, giving life in this way to a new religious family. A model of Christian and religious virtue and in love with Christ, Our Lady and the poor, she leaves us the example of austerity, prayer, and charity to those in need."

Blessed Maria Candida dell'Eucharistia of Italy, virgin and nun of the Order of the Decalced Carmelites, "was an authentic mystic of the Eucharist which she made the unifying center of her entire existence, following the Carmelite tradition, especially St. Teresa of Jesus and St. John of the Cross. She was so in love with Jesus that she was aware of a constant and ardent desire to be a tireless apostle of the Eucharist. I am sure that from heaven Maria Candida continues to help the Church so that it may grow in stupor and love for this great mystery of our faith."

Before praying the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted the authorities and pilgrims present in the ceremony and addressed Spaniards in a special way, saying: "I encourage you to keep up your hope, courage and generosity in the face of the pain of so many families, the people of Madrid and all of Spain upon the recent terrorist attack. Love is stronger than hated and death!"


VATICAN CITY, MAR 20, 2004 (VIS) - On Tuesday March 23 at 11:30 a.m. in the Holy See Press Office, there will be a presentation of the book "Faith and Martyrdom: The Eastern Churches in Twentieth Century Europe" (Proceedings of the meeting on contemporary Church history, Vatican City, October 22-24, 1998), published by the Vatican Publishing House 2003.

Among those who will present the book are Cardinal Ignace Moussa I Daoud, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, Andrea Riccardi, founder of the Community of Sant'Egidio, Bishop Pavlo Vasylyk of the eparchy of Kolomyia-Chernivtsi, Ukraine and Msgr. Tertulian Ioan Langa of the eparchy of Cluj-Gherla, Romania.


VATICAN CITY, MAR 22, 2004 (VIS) - Holy See Press Office Director Joaquin Navarro-Valls, in answer to journalists who asked about the killing this morning of Sheik Ahmed Yassin, co-founder and spiritual leader of Hamas, replied with the following declaration:

"The Holy See joins the international community in deploring this act of violence which is unjustifiable in any State of law.

"The position and the sentiments of the Holy See are clearly expressed in the Holy Father's words to the diplomatic corps last January 12 when he repeated 'to the leaders of these two peoples (Israelis and Palestinians): the choice of arms, the recourse on the one hand to terrorism and on the other to vendettas, humiliating one's adversary, and rancorous propaganda, lead nowhere. Only respect for the legitimate aspirations of each other, a return to the negotiating table and a concrete commitment by the international community can lead to the start of a solution'.

"Authentic and lasting peace can never be the fruit of a mere show of strength: 'above all it is the fruit of moral and juridical action'-"

Yassin was killed in a missile attack by an Israeli helicopter early Monday as he left a mosque following morning prayers.


VATICAN CITY, MAR 22, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

- Six prelates from the Australian Catholic Bishops' Conference on their "ad limina" visit:

- Bishop Joseph Angelo Grech of Sandhurst.

- Archbishop Barry James Hickey of Perth, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Donald George Sproxton.

- Bishop Christopher Alan Saunders of Broome.

- Bishop Gerard Holohan of Bunbury.

- Bishop Justin Joseph Bianchini of Geraldton.

- Cardinal Nasrallah Pierre Sfeir, patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites.

On Saturday March 20 the Holy Father received in separate audiences:

- Six prelates from the Australian Catholic Bishops' Conference on their "ad limina" visit:

- Archbishop Denis James Hart of Melbourne, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishops Hilton Forrest Deakin, Mark Benedict Coleridge and Christopher Charles Prowse.

- Bishop Peter Joseph Connors of Ballarat.

- Bishop Jeremiah Joseph Coffey of Sale.

- Brother Roger, superior of the Taize Community.

- Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.

On Friday March 19, he received in separate audiences:

- Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela, archbishop of Madrid, Spain.

- Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 22, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the office of auxiliary of the diocese of Regensburg, Germany, presented by Bishop Vinzenz Guggenberger upon having reached the age limit.

On Saturday, March 20, it was made public that the Holy Father:

- Appointed Bishop Alberto Maria Careggio of Chiavari, Italy, as bishop of Ventimiglia-San Remo (area 714, population 155,450, Catholics 150,000, priests 130, religious 378), Italy. He succeeds Bishop Giacomo Barabino whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Pope accepted upon having reached the age limit.

- Appointed Bishop Salvatore Ligorio of Tricarico, Italy, as archbishop of Matera-Irsina (area 2,020, population 140,899, Catholics 140,000, priests 92, permanent deacons 1, religious 84), Italy.

- Appointed Msgr. Vincenzo Carmine Orofino, vicar general of the diocese of Tricarico, as bishop of the same diocese (area 1,237, population 45,000, Catholics 44,000, priests 32, religious 49), Italy. The bishop-elect was born in 1953 in San Severino Lucano, Italy and was ordained a priest in 1980.

- Bishop Alberto Tanasini, auxiliary of Genoa, Italy, as bishop of Chiavari (area 559, population 142,000, Catholics 14,600, priests 175, permanent deacons 4, religious 354), Italy.

- Cardinal Angelo Sodano, secretary of State, as pontifical legate for the closing of the meeting of Catholics in Central Europe - Mitteleuropaischer Katholikentag 2003/2004 - which will take place at the shrine of Mariazell in Austria on May 22-23, 2004.
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