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Friday, April 16, 2004


VATICAN CITY, APR 16, 2004 (VIS) - The Pontifical Biblical Commission will hold its annual Plenary Assembly from April 19 to 23 in Vatican City's Domus Sanctae Marthae under the presidency of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. Fr. Klemens Stock, S.J. secretary general of this commission, will lead the work sessions. The theme of the plenary  is the relationship between the Bible and morals. Each member has been asked to prepare a contribution which will serve as a basis for the assembly's discussion.


VATICAN CITY, APR 16, 2004 (VIS) - The Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences, which was founded in 1954 by Pope Pius XII to "promote historical research through international collaboration," marked its 50th anniversary on April 7 and has organized three major events to commemorate this golden jubilee.

   In the first of the three events, Cardinal Secretary of State Angelo Sodano will celebrate Mass today at 5:30 p.m. in the basilica of San Lorenzo in Damaso at Rome's Piazza della Cancelleria. Following Mass, the cardinal will preside at a solemn official act in the Room of the Hundred Days in the Palazzo della Cancelleria, during which Msgr. Walter Brandmueller and Fr. Cosimo Semeraro, respectively president and secretary of the PCSS, will speak.

  The second commemorative service will take place later this year with the solemn presentation of two books linked to the life and times of the pontifical committee as well as a round table discussion. The third anniversary event, a study seminar on the theme of  the Historiography of Christianity in the last 50 years, will take place at the end of the jubilee year.

  When Pius XII instituted this committee 50 years ago, says a communique from the PCSS,  it was at the invitation of the then-president of the International Committee for Historical Sciences, asking the Holy See to become part of this organization. In welcoming this invitation, the PCSS was born, following in the footsteps of the earlier Cardinals' Commission for Historical Studies, which had been instituted by Pope Leo XIII following the opening of the Vatican Secret Archives.

  The tradition established in 1954 by Pius XII, who called upon eminent scholars from various countries representing the different disciplines of historical sciences, continues today.

  The communique adds that, "since historical sciences must face the ever growing problem of ignorance of the classical languages that is starting to threaten their very existence, the PCSS is taking upon itself the duty of stopping this unfortunate void; a historical science that, instead of basing itself directly on the Latin and Greek sources, trusts only more or less reliable traditions, can not be considered serious and this would involved, at the same time, the end of western culture and learning itself."


VATICAN CITY, APR 16, 2004 (VIS) - Pope John Paul, after the strenuous liturgical ceremonies of Holy Week and Easter, took a welcome breather from a heavy schedule yesterday afternoon when he left the Vatican for an unannounced excursion of several hours to Altipiani di Arcinazzo, a fir tree-covered area of plains and mountains 60 kilometers east of Rome.

  Located in the Italian region of Lazio, Altipiani di Arcinazzo is known for its two peaks, Mount Altuino and Mount Scalambra and for its archeological ruins, including the vast and imposing ruins, now undergoing restoration, of the villa of Roman Emperor Trajan. The nearby town of Arcinazzo Romano is home to about 1,500 people.
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