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Thursday, December 9, 2004


VATICAN CITY, DEC 9, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

- Appointed Bishop Wilton Daniel Gregory of Belleville, U.S.A., as metropolitan archbishop of Atlanta (area 55,521, population 5,752,854, Catholics 367,472, priests 237, permanent deacons 50, religious 179), U.S.A. The archbishop-elect was born in Chicago, U.S.A., in 1947 and was ordained a priest in 1973. He succeeds Archbishop John Francis Donoghue whose resignation the Holy Father accepted upon having reached the age limit.

- Appointed Msgr. Michael J. Bransfield, rector of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington D.C., as bishop of Wheeling-Charleston (area 62,866, population 1,801,916, Catholics 83,325, priests 170, permanent deacons 32, religious 334), U.S.A. The bishop-elect was born in 1943 in Philadelphia, U.S.A. and was ordained a priest in 1971. He succeeds Bishop Bernard William Schmidt whose resignation the Holy Father accepted upon having reached the age limit.

- Appointed Fr. Demetrio Fernandez Gonzalez, parish priest in the archdiocese of Toledo, Spain, as bishop of Tarazona (area 4,514, population 80,582, Catholics 78,208, priests 74, religious 215), Spain. The bishop-elect was born in 1950 in Puente, Spain and was ordained a priest in 1974.
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 9, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father received in separate audiences:

- Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto, apostolic nuncio in Ireland.

- Five prelates from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop John Clayton Nienstedt of New Ulm.

    - Bishop Blase J. Cupich of Rapid City.

    - Bishop John Francis Kinney of St. Cloud.

- Bishop Robert James Carlson of Sioux Falls.

- Bishop Bernard Joseph Harrington of Winona.

- Archbishop Agostino Vallini, emeritus of Albano, Italy and prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, with Bishop Velasio De Paolis, C.S., secretary of the same tribunal.
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 9, 2004 (VIS) - The Message of the Holy Father John Paul II for the 91st World Day of Migrants and Refugees 2005 was made public today in English, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and German. Dated November 24, 2004, it focuses on the theme "Intercultural Integration."

  The Pope begins by quoting the Instruction "Erga migrantes caritas Christi" (The love of Christ towards migrants) which notes that "integration ... is a lengthy process that aims to shape societies and cultures, making them more and more a reflection of the multi-faceted gifts of God to human beings. In this process the migrant is intent on taking the necessary steps towards social inclusion, such as learning the national language and complying with the laws and requirements at work, so as to avoid the occurrence of exasperated differentiation."

  In the Message, which focuses on implications of the intercultural dimension of integration, the Pope writes: "By introducing themselves into a new environment, immigrants often become more aware of who they are, especially when they miss the persons and values that are important to them. In our society, characterized by the global phenomenon of migration, individuals must seek the proper balance between respect for their own identity and recognition of that of others. Indeed, it is necessary to recognize the legitimate plurality of cultures present in a country, in harmony with the preservation of law and order, on which depend social peace and the freedom of citizens."

  He emphasizes that "it is essential to exclude on the one hand assimilationist models that tend to transform those who are different into their own copy, and on the other, models of marginalization of immigrants, with attitudes that can even arrive at the choice of apartheid." There is need for "dialogue between people of different cultures in a context of pluralism that goes beyond mere tolerance and reaches sympathy. ... We should encourage instead a mutual fecundation of cultures."

  Turning to the duties of Christians in this context, the Holy Father writes that they "can also recognize in the various cultures the presence of 'precious elements of religion and humanity'. ... It will, of course, be necessary to combine the principle of respect for cultural differences with the protection of values that are in common and inalienable, because they are founded on universal human rights."

  Christians must continue to proclaim the Gospel of Christ, "in respect for the conscience of others," he states. "They must above all listen to the cry for help that comes from a multitude of migrants and refugees, but they must then foster, with active commitment, prospects of hope that will herald the dawn of a more open and supportive society. It is up to them in the first place to make out God's presence in history, even when everything still seems to be enveloped in darkness."
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 9, 2004 (VIS) - This morning in the Holy See Press Office, Cardinal Stephen Fumio Hamao, president of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples, presented the Holy Father's Message for the World Day of the Migrant and Refugee in 2005. Its theme this year is "Intercultural Integration."

  Cardinal Hamao indicated that "when we speak about intercultural issues we tend to concentrate on the topic of different cultures and we forget about the condition of migrants who suffer social inequality." He underscored the need "to eliminate obstacles to social equality for migrants, while valuing the differences of people coming from different cultural contexts."

  "Cultural diversity," he continued, "is above all an exchange among people of different cultural backgrounds and with legitimate, different points of view on society. ... It is a movement of reciprocity, a path taken with others towards others."

  Referring to intercultural dialogue, the president of the dicastery said that its purpose "is not only to educate people about culture and getting to know other people, but especially to educate people about how others have learned how to do things, methods that they have adopted to understand the world, God, life, love and suffering."

  Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, secretary of the pontifical council, commented on the instruction "Erga migrantes caritas Christi" (The love of Christ toward migrants), published on May 14 of this year which referred to multiculturalism. 

  The document, he recalled, emphasizes that we find ourselves before "cultural and religious pluralism which has never been experienced before in such a conscious way."  In addition, he said "we Christians are called to bear witness to the Gospel of charity and peace with respect and attention for the traditions and cultures of immigrants," as the text says.

  Speaking about migration, ethnic and cultural pluralism and the unity of the Church, Archbishop Marchetto, citing the instruction, indicated that "migration brings to each local Church the opportunity to verify its catholicity which consists not only in accepting different ethnicities but also in making a community of these ethnicities.  Ethnic and cultural pluralism in the Church is not a situation that should be tolerated as a temporary one but rather it should be seen as a structural dimension."

  "One of the most difficult challenges in the third millennium," he concluded, "is to learn how to live united in diversity and multiplicity of cultures, ethnicities and religions. Respect and recognition of the different cultural identities must not be an obstacle but a basic condition to build up humanity, united in diversity."

  Father Michael Blume, S.V.D., council under-secretary, spoke on the general vision of integration, and started by citing statistics on the 175 million people in the world who, as migrants, find themselves outside their native land. He noted that an estimated 56 million are in Europe, 50 million in Asia, 41 million in North America, 16  million in Africa and 6 million in both Latin American countries and the Caribbean and in Oceania.

  He pointed out that the United States, as a country, has the highest number of migrants with 35 million people coming from an estimated 40 countries. Migrants in Germany come from 18 nations and Japan hosts people from at least 10 countries. Father Blume said that "these statistics tell us that today societies are comprised of people from various nations, therefore, from diverse cultures, traditions, languages, customs, religions, values, etc. ... Host countries cannot ignore the fact that they no longer have homogenous populations."

  The under-secretary explained that "integration" is a complex phenomenon that involves both the host country and the arriving guests. Migrants must integrate themselves into the host culture by learning the language and  customs and by adapting to social life, yet they must not lose sight of their own specific and valuable cultural legacy. If migrants "do not succeed in slowly opening themselves to the vaster reality of the society they now live in, they run the danger of forming a ghetto with subsequent marginalization."

  He closed his remarks by noting how Christian communities can help in welcoming migrants and assisting in the true process of integration which "implies mutual esteem and sympathy, reciprocal appreciation .... in a climate of 'authentic understanding and good will'."
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 8, 2004 (VIS) - This afternoon, for the 27th time as Roman Pontiff, John Paul II went to Piazza di Spagna to place the traditional floral wreath at the foot of the statue of Mary in celebration of the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. Before arriving in the square, the Pope stopped briefly in front of the Church of the Most Holy Trinity to greet members of the Via Condotti Storeowners Association.

  This famous square in the heart of Rome is named for the Palazzo di Spagna, a magnificent building on the piazza that has housed the Spanish embassy to the Holy See since 1647. Early in the morning, Roman firemen had placed a garland atop the statue of Mary and by day's end, thousands of Romans followed in their footsteps, offering floral homages to Mary. Single flowers as well as bouquets were placed on a table at the foot of the column bearing the statue where Conventual Franciscan Friars and Minim Friars arranged them in an orderly fashion, often creating elegant wreaths.

  The ancient Roman column of cipolin marble was found in 1777 in the monastery of Our Lady of the Conception in central Rome and brought to Piazza di Spagna in 1856 to celebrate the proclamation of the dogma two years earlier.

  Upon his arrival shortly after 4 p.m., the Holy Father blessed an immense basket of white roses which was placed at the foot of the column bearing Mary's statue. He then prayed with the faithful to Mary, recalling the proclamation 150 years ago by Pope Pius IX of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception.

  "Virgin Immaculate! Your intact spiritual beauty is for us a living source of trust and hope. Having you as our Mother, Holy Virgin, reassures us on the path of life as a pledge of eternal salvation. For this, to you, O Mary, do we turn. Help us to build a better world, where the life of man is always loved and defended, every form of violence is prohibited and peace is tenaciously sought by everyone.

  "Virgin Immaculate! In this year of the Eucharist help us to celebrate and adore with renewed faith and ardent love the holy mystery of the Body and Blood of Christ."


VATICAN CITY, DEC 8, 2004 (VIS) - At 9:30 a.m. today, solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary and the 150th anniversary of the dogmatic definition, the Pope presided at a Eucharistic concelebration with members of the College of Cardinals in the Vatican Basilica. The principal celebrant was Cardinal Camillo Ruini, vicar general of the Holy Father for the diocese of Rome, who celebrated the 50th anniversary of his priestly ordination today.

  After recalling that Blessed Pius IX proclaimed "this admirable dogma of the Catholic faith" on December 8, 1854 in St. Peter's Basilica, John Paul II greeted representatives of the National Mariological Societies who have been participating in an International Marian Mariological Congress organized by the Pontifical Marian Academy. He congratulated Cardinal Ruini for his priestly jubilee, and expressed his gratitude for "the service that he has rendered and continues to render with generous dedication to the Church as my vicar general for the Diocese of Rome and as president of the Italian Episcopal Conference."

  "With what a special blessing God referred to Mary from the beginning of time!" he exclaimed. "Truly blessed, Mary, among all women! The Father chose her in Christ before the creation of the world, so that she would be holy and immaculate before him in love, predestining her as the first fruit to filial adoption through Jesus Christ."

  The Holy Father affirmed that Our Lady's "yes to the Angel's annunciation is situated in the concreteness of our earthly condition, in humble gift to the divine will of saving humanity not from history, but in history. In fact, immune from every stain of original sin, the 'new Eve' benefited in a singular way from the work of Christ as most perfect Mediator and Redeemer."

  Addressing Mary, the Pope today renewed in a special way "the entrustment of the whole Church" to her and asked her to "guide your children on the pilgrimage of faith, making them ever more obedient and faithful to the Word of God. May you accompany every Christian on the path of conversion and holiness, in the struggle against sin and in the search for true beauty, which is always the sign and reflection of divine Beauty.  May it be you, again, to obtain peace and salvation for all peoples."

  At noon, the Pope appeared at the window of his study to pray the Angelus with the thousands of people in St. Peter's Square. The Holy Father emphasized that the Immaculate Conception "is like a beacon of light for humanity for all times. At the beginning of the third millennium, she leads us to believe and hope in God, in His salvation, and in eternal life. She illuminates particularly the path of the Church committed to the New Evangelization."

  After the Marian prayer, John Paul II referred to violence in Mosul, Iraq and to the destruction of both an Armenian-Apostolic Church and the Chaldean archbishopric. "I express my spiritual closeness to the faithful, shaken by the attack, and implore the Lord, through the intercession of the Immaculate Virgin, that the beloved Iraqi people may at last know a time of reconciliation and peace."
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