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Friday, June 4, 2004


VATICAN CITY, JUN 4, 2004 (VIS) - The following prelates died in recent weeks:

- Cardinal Hyacinthe Thiandoum, archbishop emeritus of Dakar, Senegal on May 18 at age 83.

- Bishop Kevin Michael Britt of Grand Rapids, U.S.A., on May 14 at age 59.

- Bishop Jose Dias Apparecido, S.V.D., of Roraima, on May 29 at age 72.

- Bishop Rafael Gonzalez Moralejo, emeritus of Huelva, Spain, on May 28 at age 86.

- Archbishop Hubert Michon, emeritus of Rabat, Morocco on May 14 at age 76.

- Archbishop Geraldo Majela Reis, emeritus of Diamantina, Brazil on May 27 at age 79.

- Bishop Ciriaco Scanzillo, former auxiliary of Naples, Italy on May 31 at age 84.

- Bishop Jose P. Salazar, O.P., auxiliary of Lipa, the Philippines on May 30 at age 67.
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VATICAN CITY, JUN 4, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Evandro Vercelli,  head of information technology in the Extraordinary Section of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See, as bureau chief in the ordinary section of the same administration.
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VATICAN CITY, JUN 4, 2004 (VIS) - Today the Holy Father received in audience Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
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VATICAN CITY, JUN 4, 2004 (VIS) - Pope John Paul welcomed United States President George W. Bush to the Vatican this morning for the third time. Their previous encounters took place at Castelgandolfo on July 23, 2001 following the G8 summit in Genoa, Italy, and on May 28, 2002 in Rome.

  In his address to the American president, his wife and the delegation accompanying them,  the Holy Father thanked him "for wishing to meet with me again, in spite of the difficulties presented by your own many commitments during this present visit to Europe and Italy, and by my own departure tomorrow morning for a meeting with young people in Switzerland."

  The Pope noted that the president's trip is "to commemorate the sixtieth anniversary of the end of the Second World War and to honor the memory of the many American soldiers who gave their lives for their country and for the freedom of the peoples of Europe.  I join you in recalling the sacrifice of those valiant dead and in asking the Lord that the mistakes of the past, which gave rise to appalling tragedies, may never again be repeated. Today I too think back with great emotion on the many Polish soldiers who died for the freedom of Europe."

  John Paul II also noted that this year marks the 20th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the Holy See and the United States under President Reagan. "I send my regards to President Reagan and to Mrs. Reagan, who is so attentive to him in his illness."
 "Your visit to Rome," said the Pope, "takes place at a moment of great concern for the continuing situation of grave unrest in the Middle East, both in Iraq and in the Holy Land. You are very familiar with the unequivocal position of the Holy See in this regard, expressed in numerous documents, through direct and indirect contacts, and in the many diplomatic efforts which have been made since you visited me" in 2001.

 "It is the evident desire of everyone that this situation now be normalized as quickly as possible with the active participation of the international community and, in particular, the United Nations Organization, in order to ensure a speedy return of Iraq's sovereignty, in conditions of security for all its people.  The recent appointment of a Head of State in Iraq and the formation of an interim Iraqi government are an encouraging step towards the attainment of this goal.  May a similar hope for peace also be rekindled in the Holy Land and lead to new negotiations, dictated by a sincere and determined commitment to dialogue, between the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority."

  John Paul II stated that "the threat of international terrorism remains a source of constant concern. It has seriously affected normal and peaceful relations between States and peoples since the tragic date of 11 September 2001, which I have not hesitated to call  'a dark day in the history of humanity'. In the past few weeks other deplorable events have come to light which have troubled the civic and religious conscience of all, and made more difficult a serene and resolute commitment to shared human values: in the absence of such a commitment neither war nor terrorism will ever be overcome. May God grant strength and success to all those who do not cease to hope and work for understanding between peoples, in respect for the security and rights of all nations and of every man and woman."

  He told the president he appreciated his "commitment to the promotion of moral values in American society, particularly with regard to respect for life and the family." And he urged "a fuller and deeper understanding between the United States of America and Europe will surely play a decisive role in resolving the great problems which I have mentioned."

  President Bush presented the Pope with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civil honor that is bestowed in America, saying that Pope John Paul "has championed the cause of the poor, the weak, the hungry and the outcast. He has defended the unique dignity of every life and the goodness of all life. Through his faith and moral conviction, he has given courage to others to 'be not afraid' in overcoming injustice and oppression. His principled stand for peace and freedom has inspired millions and helped to topple communism and tyranny. The United States honors this son of Poland who became the Bishop of Rome and a hero of our time."
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VATICAN CITY, JUN 4, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father today welcomed the Bishops of the Church in Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico and western Texas on the occasion of their "ad limina" visit and told them he wished to reflect "on the pressing task you face of the evangelization of culture."
  "The observation of my predecessor, Pope Paul VI, that 'the split between the Gospel and culture is undoubtedly the drama of our time', is manifest today as a 'crisis of meaning' . Ambiguous moral positions, the distortion of reason by particular interest groups, and the absolutizing of the subjective, are just some examples of a perspective of life which fails to seek truth itself and abandons the search for the ultimate goal and meaning of human existence."
  The Holy Father underscored that "some today view Christianity as weighed down by structures and failing to respond to people's spiritual needs. Yet, far from being something merely institutional, the living center of your preaching of the Gospel is the encounter with our Lord himself."

  "It is clear then that all your activities must be directed towards the proclamation of Christ. Indeed, your duty of personal integrity renders contradictory any separation between mission and life. ... I urge you therefore to be close to your priests and people. ... Inspired by the great Pastors who have gone before us, like Saint Charles Borromeo, your visiting and careful listening to your brother priests and the faithful, and your direct contact with the marginalized, will be 'quasi anima episcopalis regiminis'."
  John Paul II noted that "in the wake of increasing secularism and fragmentation of knowledge, 'new forms of poverty' have arisen, particularly in cultures which enjoy material well-being, that reflect a 'despair at the lack of meaning in life'. Distrust of the human being's great capacity for knowledge, the acceptance of 'partial and provisional truths', and the senseless pursuit of novelty, all point to the ever more difficult task of conveying to people - especially the young - an understanding of the very foundation and purpose of human life."

  Highlighting "the wondrous array of charisms" proper to Religious Institutes, he said that their commitment to "the apostolate of 'intellectual charity," that is, "promotion of excellence in schools, commitment to scholarship, and articulation of the relationship between faith and culture" is "particularly important in cultures undermined by secularism."

  On the "prophetic mission of the laity," the Pope said that "over the last forty or so years, while political attention to human subjectivity has focused on individual rights, in the public domain there has been a growing reluctance to acknowledge that all men and women receive their essential and common dignity from God and with it the capacity to move towards truth and goodness. Detached from this vision of the fundamental unity and purpose of the whole human family, rights are at times reduced to self-centered demands: the growth of prostitution and pornography in the name of adult choice, the acceptance of abortion in the name of women's rights, the approval of same sex unions in the name of homosexual rights.

  "In the face of such erroneous yet pervasive thinking" he concluded, "you must do everything possible to encourage the laity in their 'special responsibility' for 'evangelizing culture  ... and promoting Christian values in society and public life'."
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