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Thursday, March 31, 2005


VATICAN CITY, MAR 31, 2005 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Bishop Thomas J. Tobin of Youngstown, U.S.A., as bishop of Providence (area 3,143, population 1,063,200, Catholics 649,188, priests 407, permanent deacons 107, religious 895), U.S.A. He succeeds Bishop Robert E. Mulvee whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese was accepted by the Holy Father, upon having reached the age limit.
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 31, 2005 (VIS) - The Philatelic and Numismatic Office of the Governorate of Vatican City on April 5 will issue 300,000 sets of four stamps, each stamp featuring a detail from the painting, "Resurrection of Christ" by Perugino, and 120,000 copies of a leaflet featuring the Risen Christ, the central part of the painting. The series of four stamps costs 3.02 Euro and the leaflet is 2.80 Euro.

    Pietro Vannucci, known as Perugino, painted the altarpiece of the Resurrection of Christ during a period of only two months in 1499 as a decoration for a noble family's chapel in the Church of San Francesco al Prato in Perugia. It remained in its original position until 1797 when Napoleon moved it to Paris. In 1815 it was returned to what was then the Papal State based on the Congress of Vienna agreements.

  The painting was exhibited in different locations in the new Vatican Picture Gallery, which was founded by Pope Pius VII in 1816. It remained there until 1964 when Pope Paul VI wanted it to adorn the back wall of the library of the papal apartments in the Apostolic Palace. Since then, Perugino's "Resurrection of Christ" has served as the solemn and significant backdrop to many audiences of pontiffs, especially visiting heads of state or government and new ambassadors who present their Letters of Credence to the Holy Father, thereby becoming one of the best-known paintings in the extensive artistic patrimony of the Church.

  On April 28, the Vatican's Euro coins marking the 27th year of the Pontificate of His Holiness John Paul II will go on sale. The BU series of 8 coins costs 23 Euro whereas the proof version, which also includes a medal of this pontificate, costs 125 Euro.
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 31, 2005 (VIS) - The Pontifical Biblical Commission will hold its annual plenary assembly from April 4 to 8 at the Domus Sanctae Marthae (St. Martha residence) in Vatican City under the presidency of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, according to a communique published today by the commission. Fr. Klemens Stock, S.J., secretary general, will lead the work sessions.

  During the course of the meetings, participants will continue to study more deeply the theme of the relation between the Bible and morality. Each member of the commission has prepared a specific contribution which will serve as the basis for the assembly's discussions.
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Wednesday, March 30, 2005


VATICAN CITY, MAR 30, 2005 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Appointed Bishop Jose Francisco Rezende Dias, auxiliary of Pouso Alegre, Brazil, as bishop of Duque de Caxias (area 499, population 1,235,626, Catholics 976,000, priests 34, permanent deacons 3, religious 92), Brazil. He succeeds Bishop Mauro Morelli whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, in accordance with Canon 401, para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law.

 - Appointed Bishop Daniel J. Bohan, auxiliary of Toronto, Canada, as metropolitan archbishop of Regina (area 151,375, population 448,000, Catholics 126,000, priests 100, permanent deacons 3, religious 145), Canada. He succeeds Archbishop Peter Joseph Mallon whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

- Appointed Bishop Gabriel Charles Palmer-Buckle of Koforidua, Ghana, as metropolitan archbishop of Accra (area 3,255, population 3,112,500, Catholics 139,000, priests 105, religious 147), Ghana. He succeeds Archbishop Dominic Kodwo Andoh whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, archivist and librarian of Holy Roman Church, as his special envoy to the central celebrations of the extraordinary Jubilee Year of the diocese of Le Puy-en-Velay, France, which are due to take place on May 29, 2005 in the basilica cathedral of 'Notre Dame du Puy.'

  On Tuesday, March 29, it was made public that he accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Nice, France, presented by Bishop Jean Bonfils S.M.A., upon having reached the age limit. He is succeeded by Coadjutor Bishop Louis Sankale.

  On Thursday, March 24, it was made public that he:

 - Appointed Msgr. Domenico Sigalini of the clergy of the diocese of Brescia, Italy, ecclesiastic vice-assistant general of Italian Catholic Action, as bishop of the suburbicarian diocese of Palestrina (area 418, population 88,000, Catholics 87,000, priests 82, religious 221), Italy. The bishop-elect was born in Dello, Italy, in 1942 and ordained a priest in 1966. He succeeds Bishop Eduardo Davino whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese was accepted by the Holy Father, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Fr. Joaquim Justino Carreira of the clergy of the diocese of Jundiai, vicar general of the diocese and episcopal vicar for the area of the city of Itu, as auxiliary of the archdiocese of Sao Paulo (area 1,645, population 8,950,800, Catholics 6,713,100, priests 838, permanent deacons 3, religious 3,240), Brazil. The bishop-elect was born in Leiria-Fatima, Portugal, in 1950 and ordained a priest in 1977.
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 30, 2005 (VIS) - The following declaration concerning the Holy Father's health was made early this afternoon by Holy See Press Office Director Joaquin Navarro-Valls:

  "The Holy Father continues his slow and progressive convalescence.

  "The Pope spends many hours each day in an armchair, celebrates Mass in his private chapel and is in working contact with his collaborators, directly following the activity of the Holy See and the life of the Church.

  "In order to improve the caloric intake and to favor a valid recuperation of strength, enteral nutrition has been started by placing a nasal-gastric probe (tube).

  "All public audiences remain suspended.

  "Health assistance is assured by the personnel of the Health and Hygiene Services of Vatican City under the direction of Dr. Renato Buzzonetti, the Holy Father's personal physician."
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 30, 2005 (VIS) - Thousands of pilgrims who had gathered in St. Peter's Square this morning saw Pope John Paul as he appeared at the window of his study shortly after 11 a.m. for about 4 minutes. Though he did not speak, the Holy Father was enthusiastically greeted by the faithful, many of whom were in Rome hoping to catch a glimpse of the Pope on the day that his weekly general audience is  traditionally held. An aide read brief remarks in Italian, German and Polish for the Pope, who blessed everyone at the end of the greetings.

  "I greet the Italian language pilgrims," said John Paul's message, "especially the boys and girls from the diocese of Milan who came to the tomb of Peter to express their faith in Christ who died and rose from the dead. Dear ones, may friendship with Jesus, our Redeemer, always illuminate your lives! Stay close to Him, through listening to His word and in active participation in the Eucharistic meal. Be His faithful witnesses, especially among your peers. I repeat to everyone with affection my Easter greetings."

  In greetings to German-speaking faithful, he said. "May the peace of the Risen One be always with you!"

  The Pope, through an aide, thanked his fellow Poles "for your presence, for your expressions of benevolence and for accompanying me in prayer. With gratitude I am thinking of all Poles, at home and abroad. I bless you from my heart."
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 27, 2005 (VIS) - Pope John Paul II appeared at the window of his study shortly after noon today for the traditional "Urbi et orbi" message and blessing, but he did not speak, as hoped for by the estimated 80,000 faithful who filled St. Peter's Square, Via della Conciliazione, the broad avenue leading up to it, and adjacent streets. He waved several times and blessed the pilgrims as they applauded enthusiastically, cheered him and called out his name on a day marked by gray skies, intermittent rain and a splash of sun as the Pope came to his window.

  Also for the first time in his 26-year papacy, the Pope, who is still recovering from his February 24 tracheotomy, did not preside at the Easter Mass of the Resurrection of the Lord in St. Peter's Square, designating instead Cardinal Angelo Sodano, secretary of State, as the principal celebrant at the 10:30 a.m. liturgy in a square which was beautified, as has become traditional, by tens of thousands of multi-colored flowers, shrubs and flowering plants from Holland. The cardinal also read the Pope's Urbi et orbi (to the city and the world) message as John Paul II followed it, seated at the window.

   The theme of the Holy Father's Easter message was taken from the words "Mane nobiscum, Domine" (Stay with us, Lord), the title of his apostolic letter which was published on October 8, 2004 for the start of the Year of the Eucharist. Just as the two disciples on the road to Emmaus asked the "mysterious Wayfarer," whom they did not immediately recognize as the Lord, to stay with them, the Pope today said: "On this Easter day, together with all Christians throughout the world, we too repeat these words: Jesus, Crucified and Risen, stay with us! Stay with us, faithful friend and sure support for humanity on its journey through history!... Bread of eternal life, nourish those who hunger for truth, freedom, justice and peace."

  "Stay with us, Living Word of the Father, and teach us words and deeds of peace: peace for our world consecrated by your blood and drenched in the blood of so many innocent victims: peace for the countries of the Middle East and Africa, where so much blood continues to be shed; peace for all of humanity, still threatened by fratricidal wars. Stay with us, Bread of eternal life, broken and distributed to those at table: give also to us the strength to show generous solidarity towards the multitudes who are even today suffering and dying from poverty and hunger, decimated by fatal epidemics or devastated by immense natural disasters."

  "We, the men and women of the third millennium, we too need you, Risen Lord! Stay with us now, and until the end of time. Grant that the material progress of peoples may never obscure the spiritual values which are the soul of their civilization. Sustain us, we pray, on our journey. In you do we believe, in you do we hope, for you alone have the words of eternal life. Mane nobiscum, Domine! Alleluia!"

  At the end of Mass, a deacon announced that Pope John Paul granted his apostolic blessing and a plenary indulgence to all participants in today's liturgy, given that the usual conditions for such an indulgence are fulfilled. "May the Lord preserve the Pope for a long time as guide for the Church," prayed the deacon, "and grant peace and unity to the Church throughout the world."
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 26, 2005 (VIS) - At 8 this evening, in St. Peter's Basilica, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, joined by 24 cardinals, presided the Easter vigil Mass in the name of Pope John Paul. Five catechumens from Italy, Japan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Peru, received the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist during the vigil Mass.

  The celebration started in the darkened atrium of St. Peter's with the blessing of the fire and lighting of the Easter candle, followed by a procession into the basilica, also dark, where participants, one by one, lit the candles they were carrying. Prior to the start of Mass, Cardinal Ratzinger, dean of the College of Cardinals, read a Message from the Holy Father who noted that, "thanks to television, I can follow the evocative Easter vigil in my apartment." He greeted everyone present and had "special thoughts" for the catechumens about to receive the sacraments.

  "This night is truly extraordinary," said the Pope, "a night in which the blazing light of the Risen Christ conquers in a definitive way the power of the darkness of evil and death, and rekindles hope and joy in believers' hearts. Dear ones, guided by the liturgy, let us pray to the Lord Jesus that the world will see and recognize that, thanks to His passion, death and resurrection, what was destroyed was rebuilt, what was old became new and everything returned, more beautiful than before, to its original integrity."

  Cardinal Ratzinger, in his homily, noted that the Easter vigil procession, behind the candle and towards light, symbolizes "the path of humanity who, in the nights of history, seeks light, seeks paradise, seeks true life, reconciliation among peoples, ... and universal peace."

  Referring to the light of the Easter candle, he said "Christ is light; Christ is the way, the truth and the life; following Christ ... we find the just path. ... Following Christ means above all being attentive to His word. ... Man does not live by bread alone or by money or by career, he lives by the word of God, which corrects us, renews us, shows us the true sustaining values of the world and of society. The word of God is the true manna, the bread from heaven which teaches us life, how to be men and women."

   "Following Christ," the cardinal affirmed, "means having compassion for the suffering, a heart for the poor; it means having the courage to defend our faith against ideologies; having trust in the Church and her interpretation and enactment of the divine Word for our current circumstances, Following Christ means loving His Church, His Mystical Body. Going forth in this manner we become little lights in the world, we destroy the darkness of history."


VATICAN CITY, MAR 25, 2005 (VIS) - Cardinal James F. Stafford, major penitentiary, presided in the Pope's name at Good Friday celebrations in St Peter's Basilica. As is customary, the preacher of the Pontifical Household, Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa O.F.M. Cap., pronounced the homily. The ceremony continued with the universal prayer and veneration of the Cross, and concluded with Holy Communion.

  The Eucharist, said Fr. Cantalamessa, "is the way Jesus invented to remain forever 'Emmanuel,' God-with-us. This presence is a guarantee, not only for the Church, but for the entire world." The expression "God is with us" is devoid of exclusiveness, he said, because "since Christ has come, there is no longer any exclusiveness, everything has become universal. 'God in Christ was reconciling the world to Himself'."

  The Eucharist, he said, prolongs the presence of "sweet and gentle" Jesus in history, but "Christ's meekness is no justification for the violence that is done today to His person, and in fact renders it all the more strange and odious."

  "Perhaps," he continued, "we ought simply to imitate our Master and say, 'Father, forgive them; they do not know what they are doing.' Forgive them and forgive us, for certainly our own sins, past and present, are also to blame when the name of Christ is held in contempt among the nations."

  After expressing thanks to the Pope for "the gift of the year of the Eucharist," and wishing him a prompt recovery, Fr. Cantalamessa concluded: "Come back soon, Holy Father! Easter is not the same without you!"

   At 9.15 p.m., the Way of the Cross took place at the Colosseum. For the first time in his pontificate, the Pope was unable to preside at the ceremony, which he followed on television in his private chapel. In images transmitted by the Vatican Television Center, the Holy Father was shown from the back looking towards the altar, before which was a television on which he watched the events.

  Cardinal Camillo Ruini, vicar general for the diocese of Rome, carried the cross for the first two stations and the last one. For the other stations it was carried by two Franciscans of the Custos of the Holy Land; a religious of the diocese of Dibrugarh, India; a lay woman of the diocese of Chonju, South Korea; a family from Rome; a lay woman of the archdiocese of Colombo, Sri Lanka; an Albanian immigrant family resident in Italy, and a young man from the archdiocese of Khartoum, Sudan.

  In a brief message read out by Cardinal Ruini at the start of the Way of the Cross, John Paul II wrote: "I join you in the richly significant invocation: 'Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi, quia per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum.' Yes, we adore and bless the mystery of the Cross of the Son of God, because from that death came forth new hope for humanity."

  The Holy Father continued: "The adoration of the Cross calls us to a commitment which we cannot avoid: the mission that St. Paul expressed in the words: 'I complete what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of His body, that is, the Church.' I too offer my sufferings so God's design will be accomplished and His Word will walk among the people. In turn, I am close to those who are suffering at this time. I pray for each of them."

  "On this day, the memorial of the crucified Christ, I look to and adore the Cross with you, and with you I repeat the words of the liturgy: 'O crux, ave spes unica!' Hail, oh Cross, only hope, give us patience and courage and bring peace to the world!"

  The central theme of this year's Way of the Cross - written by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith - came from the words Jesus pronounced on Palm Sunday, immediately prior to His entry into Jerusalem, responding to a request from certain Greeks who desired to see Him: "'Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.' The Lord interprets His entire earthly journey as the story of the grain of wheat, which only though death produces fruit. He interprets His earthly life, death and resurrection in the perspective of the Most Holy Eucharist in which all His mystery comes together."
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 24, 2005 (VIS) - Today, Holy Thursday, at 9.30 a.m. in the Vatican Basilica, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, presided in the Pope's name at the Chrism Mass, which is celebrated on this day in all the cathedral churches of the world. Concelebrants included cardinals, bishops and priests who are in Rome for Easter.

  At the beginning of Mass, the cardinal read out a message from John Paul II in which he assures the faithful that "from my apartment, by means of television, I am spiritually among you. Together with you and the entire family of believers, I pray that the Church may never lack numerous saintly priests."

  In the homily, Cardinal Re highlighted how on Holy Thursday priests and bishops "renew the promises with which we bound ourselves to Christ, Priest, on the day of our ordination." This calls for "commitment and, I would say, a taste for fully living the beauty of our ministry, following Christ and joyously dedicated to the service of others."

  The cardinal continued: "In this year of the Eucharist - which helps us to discover the beauty, power and centrality of the Eucharist - the words of the Encyclical 'Ecclesia De Eucharistia' resound with particular eloquence in our minds and our hearts: 'the Church draws her life from the Eucharist;' the Eucharist is 'the heart of the mystery of the Church;' it must also be ' the heart of the mystery of priestly ministry'."

  After emphasizing that John Paul II wrote these words two years ago, the prefect of the Congregation for Bishops went on: "In his absence, he is more than ever present at this Chrism Mass, and we want to thank him for the witness that he continues to give us with his example of serene abandonment to God that associates him with the mystery of the Cross."

  Following the homily, there was the renewal of priestly vows and the blessing of the oil used for catechumens, the sick and those being confirmed.

  At 5:30 p.m., Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, presided in the Pope's name at the Mass of the Lord's Supper. During the Eucharistic celebration the feet of 12 priests were washed.

  In a brief message read out at the beginning of the Eucharistic celebration, the Holy Father wrote "I am close to you with my mind and my heart," and he recalled that on that night two thousand years ago Jesus "first washed the feet of the Apostles, wanting to give them the example of a love that becomes humble and concrete service. He then consecrated the bread and wine as a sacrament of His Body and His Blood, given in sacrifice for our salvation."

  In the homily, Cardinal Lopez Trujillo affirmed that the "washing of the feet is proof of total, decisive and definitive love, 'to the extreme.' Without losing the lordship due to His condition as the Son of God, the Lord became a servant, and this giving of Himself was sealed on the Cross where the Lamb of God saved humanity."

  After highlighting how, "in a widespread culture of pleasure that feels great fear of suffering, the Master calls on the disciples to take up the cross," the cardinal said: "We are called to a profound conversion to God and to true values, without which there will be no future worthy of man, the image of God, who through redemption attains the highest dignity of an image: being the child of God."

  Cardinal Trujillo indicated that the Eucharist "opens the heart of the entire human family to the poor and needy who have the right to a 'globalization of solidarity,' and to recognition and respect for the rights of man and the rights of the family, which are fundamental. The weakest, the innocent, the defenseless and the sick are often considered to be a heavy burden. Man is not the arbiter of life and cannot deny this precious gift. We cannot hate that which God loves.

  "Immersed in the mystery of Easter," he concluded, "our fervent prayers are for the Holy Father, strenuous defender and witness of the true quality of life, which we must proclaim and defend, grateful to the Lord of life for his most generous service to the Church and to humanity."

  After the homily, the traditional rite of the washing of the feet of 12 priests took place. At the Pope's request, the offering of the Mass will be given to the people of Venezuela, hit by devastating floods in the month of February.
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Wednesday, March 23, 2005


VATICAN CITY, MAR 23, 2005 (VIS) -  Due to the Easter holy days and holidays in the Vatican, no further VIS transmissions are scheduled until Wednesday, March 30, 2005.
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 23, 2005 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the archdiocese of Tangiers, Morocco, presented by Archbishop Jose Antonio Peteiro Freire O.F.M. in accordance with Canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law.

 - Appointed as members of the administrative council of the Pontifical Academy for Life: Bishop Willem Jacobus Eijk of Groningen, Netherlands; Msgr. Jean-Marie Musivi Mpendawatu of the Democratic Republic of the Congo; Angelo Fiori of Italy; Alicja Grzeoekowiak of Poland; Manfred Lutz of Germany, and Patricio Ventura Junca del Tobar of Chile.
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 23, 2005 (VIS) - Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, Holy See permanent observer to the United Nations at Geneva, spoke yesterday at the 61st session of the Commission on Human Rights, focusing on what has been accomplished and what remains to be done in implementing the 1986 Declaration on the Right to Development.

  He began his intervention by noting that "almost 20 years since the Declaration on the Right to Development, large segments of the human populations are still cut off from a right that is so clearly proclaimed in this important document: 'The right to development is an inalienable human right by virtue of which every human person and all peoples are entitled to participate in, contribute to, and enjoy economic, social, cultural and political development, in which all human rights and fundamental freedoms can be fully realized'."

  While much has been done, said Archbishop Tomasi, "a renewed mobilization of efforts is called for since the achievement of the Millennium Goals appears at this point a very elusive target for the least developed countries." There is still great poverty in the world, he said, as well as worsening health conditions in many regions, illiteracy and a lack of access for many to food and drinking water.

  He underscored that "experience shows that the implementation of the right to development is successful if centered on the human person and on human communities, as the Declaration on the Right to Development states, and these should be the active participants and beneficiaries of this right. The network of educational and health-care institutions and the relief agencies, for instance, conducted by faith-based organizations  mainly for the poorest people of the world prove to be motors of change and empowerment rightly because they focus directly on the human person and on an understanding of sustainable development that keeps a balanced relationship between the needs of individual persons and the communities they belong to and between people and the environment."

  The nuncio also emphasized that there must be "collaboration across political and geographical lines," and this should include "opening the markets of developed countries to the agricultural products of the South and lowering entry taxes for these products." Most importantly, said Archbishop Tomasi, local communities must be listened to, or "development projects can end up as cathedrals in the desert."


VATICAN CITY, MAR 23, 2005 (VIS) - This morning, the Holy Father appeared at the window of his study in the Vatican's Apostolic Palace and blessed the faithful gathered in St Peter's Square below.

  Despite the fact that the Pope's general audience, traditionally held on Wednesdays, was not scheduled to take place, hundreds of people, including a large group from Poland, had gathered in the St Peter's Square prior to the Pope's 11 a.m. appearance so as to receive his blessing.

  Images of John Paul II were relayed on giant screens located in the square.
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Tuesday, March 22, 2005


VATICAN CITY, MAR 22, 2005 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Appointed Bishop Maurice Konan Kouassi of Odienne, Ivory Coast, as bishop of Daloa (area 25,000, population 1,200,000, Catholics 38,000, priests 49, permanent deacons 1, religious 60), Ivory Coast. He succeeds Bishop Pierre-Marie Coty whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Fr. Cecilio Raul Berzosa Martinez of the clergy of Burgos, Spain, professor of dogmatic theology at the Faculty of Theology of North Spain, as auxiliary of the archdiocese of Oviedo (area 10,565, population 1,062,198, Catholics 1,003,777, priests 624, religious 1,257), Spain. The bishop-elect was born in Aranda de Duero, Spain, in 1957 and ordained a priest in 1982.
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 22, 2005 (VIS) - The Congregation for Oriental Churches has sent a letter to bishops throughout the world inviting them to support the Christian community in the Holy Land by means of the annual Good Friday collection. The letter bears the signature of Cardinal Ignace Moussa I Daoud and Archbishop Antonio Maria Veglio, respectively prefect and secretary of the congregation.

  "This dicastery," the letter reads, "remains attentive to the plight of the Christian community, a community which continually diminishes because of the absence of peace and of stability. Given the ongoing needs of this community, it must appeal again and again for help from each of our dioceses and from all of our ecclesiastical institutions."

  The Good Friday collection, the letter explains, "aims to promote among the Christian faithful a love for the Land of the Lord. For the Church to survive there it must rely upon a loving and nurturing solidarity on the part of each Christian; a solidarity which bears witness to faith in Him Who was born in that land, Who preached the Gospel there and Who also died and was resurrected there."

  After highlighting how the Holy Father "continually manifests his paternal closeness to the Christians of the Holy Land," Cardinal Daoud writes that "peace in the world passes through Jerusalem, the City of Peace, that Holy City and Capital of Monotheism, as Pope Paul VI referred to it in his message of March 25, 1974, 'Nobis in animo.' With this in mind, what is anticipated is that each Christian strive on behalf of this desired peace, the special gift of God which must imbue our prayer, our efforts and our solidarity."

   Paul V was the first Pope to formally state his wish that the Universal Church observe Good Friday as a day of prayer and almsgiving on behalf of the Catholic community in the Holy Land and for the maintenance of the sacred sites linked to the Redemption. With the Apostolic Breve "Coelestis Regis" on January 22, 1618, Pope Paul V specifically set forth this objective, also known as the "pro terra sancta" collection, for Good Friday. Benedict XIV confirmed this in 1746. The most recent papal document on this annual appeal for the Holy Land was Paul VI's Apostolic Exhortation "Nobis in animo" of March 25, 1974.
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Monday, March 21, 2005


VATICAN CITY, MAR 21, 2005 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the archdiocese of Wellington, New Zealand, presented by Cardinal Thomas Stafford Williams, upon having reached the age limit. Cardinal Williams is succeeded by Coadjutor Archbishop John Atcherley Dew.

 - Appointed Bishop Paul Hinder O.F.M. Cap., auxiliary of the apostolic vicariate of Arabia (area 3,143,669, population 47,760,000 Catholics 1,300,000 priests 42, permanent deacons 2, religious 98), Arabian Peninsula, as apostolic vicar of the same apostolic vicariate. He succeeds Bishop Giovanni Bernardo Gremoli O.F.M. Cap., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same apostolic vicariate the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

  On Saturday, March 19, it was made public that the Holy Father appointed Bishop Stefan Cichy, auxiliary of Katowice, Poland, as bishop of Legnica (area 8,500, population 1,051,984, Catholics 983,840, priests 574, religious 370), Poland. He succeeds Bishop Tadeusz Rybak whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 21, 2005 (VIS) - At midday today, Archbishop Leonardo Sandri, substitute for the Secretariat of State, read a message from John Paul II to participants in the 38th University Congress UNIV, whose theme this year is: "Projecting Culture: the language of music." Also present at the meeting, which was held in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall, was Bishop Javier Echevarria Rodriguez, prelate of the personal prelature of Opus Dei.

  Before listening to the Pope's message, 4,000 students and teachers from more than 200 universities throughout the world who participate in the formative activities promoted by the prelature of Opus Dei, watched a film of the meeting of the Holy Father with UNIV participants in 1985, the International Year of Youth.

  "Music, like all artistic languages," writes the Holy Father in his message, "brings man closer to God. ... Yet at the same time, art can on occasion transmit a conception of man, of love and of happiness that does not correspond to the truth of God's design. For this reason it is necessary to discern clearly."

  The Pope also affirms that young people must "renew the languages of art and of culture," and have the courage "not to accept forms of behavior and entertainment marked by noise and excess."

  After recalling that "the vocation of the lay faithful is holiness, animating temporal reality in a Christian way," John Paul II writes: "Dear university students and teachers, as St. Josemaria liked to repeat, work and study must be 'a constant prayer for you. It has the same loveable words, but a different tune each day. It is very much our mission to transform the prose of this life into poetry, into heroic verse'."

  "May Mary Most Holy help you to encounter her Son Jesus Christ in the liturgy of this Holy Week and in the Sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist."
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 20, 2005 (VIS) - At the end of Palm Sunday Mass in St. Peter's Square, presided over by Cardinal Camillo Ruini, vicar for the diocese of Rome, Pope John Paul appeared at the window of his study overlooking the square and, to the enthusiastic cheers of the estimated 50,000 faithful gathered there, including many young people for World Youth Day, he blessed the crowd with an olive branch. The Pope did not speak, and Archbishop Leonardo Sandri read the reflections that preceded the Angelus prayer.

  "Twenty years ago," said the papal message, "right here in St. Peter's Square, World Youth Days began. Thus, today I am addressing young people in a special way. You, dear ones, gathered here in the square, and the youth throughout the world.

  "My dear young people! This coming August World Youth Day will take place in Cologne, in the heart of Germany and of Europe. In the stupendous cathedral of that city the relics of the Three Magi are venerated and they have become in a certain sense your guides towards that appointment. They came from the East to pay homage to Jesus and they said: 'We have come to adore Him'. These words, so rich in meaning, constitute the theme of your spiritual and catechetical itinerary towards World Youth Day.

  "Today, you adore the Cross of Christ that you carry throughout the world, because you believed in God's Love, fully revealed in the crucified Christ."

  Asking young people to be tireless "witnesses to the glorious Cross of Christ," the Holy Father's reflections concluded: "I become more and more aware how providential and prophetic it is that this day, Palm Sunday and the Passion of the Lord, has become your day. This feast contains a special grace, that of joy united to the Cross which epitomizes the Christian mystery."
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 20, 2005 (VIS) - Cardinal Camillo Ruini, vicar general for the diocese of Rome, presided in the Pope's name at the Eucharistic celebration for Palm Sunday in St Peter's Square. Prior to the Mass, the cardinal blessed palms and olive branches.

  During the ceremony, the window of John Paul II's private apartment was open, and a palm was affixed to one side.

  Some 50,000 faithful participated in the event, most of them young people who today celebrate diocesan World Youth Day, a prelude to the international World Youth Day which will be held in August in Cologne, Germany.

  In the homily, Cardinal Ruini spoke on the Lord's Passion as recounted in today's Gospel reading: "If we consider the large amount of human suffering, especially guiltless suffering, we feel lost and are impelled to ask ourselves if God truly loves us and if He takes care of us, or whether there is not, perhaps, some evil destiny that not even God can change."

  "Yet in the cross of Christ," the cardinal continued, "we come into contact with the true face of God. ... Indeed, in the cross of Christ, the face of God does not lose its greatness and its mystery, yet it becomes extraordinarily close and friendly, because it is the face of the One Who, in His own Son, fully shared even the darkest side of the human condition."

  The Holy Father's vicar for the diocese of Rome went on to emphasize: "Thus, from the cross of Christ arises a strength and a hope of redemption for all human suffering. In this way, the drama and the mystery of suffering - which in the final analysis are the drama and mystery of our lives - are not eliminated, but they no longer appear as something dark and meaningless."

  Addressing himself especially to the young people present, the cardinal encouraged them to follow Christ's invitation: "'If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.' These words understandably give rise to fear, even more so for us, men and women of our time who tend to see suffering only as something useless and harmful. Yet, precisely this is our mistake, preventing us from understanding not only the meaning of suffering, but also the meaning of life."

  "The cross of Christ neither depresses nor weakens. On the contrary, from it comes ever new energy, energy that shines forth in the deeds of saints and that has made the history of the Church fruitful, energy that stands out particularly clearly today in the tired face of the Holy Father."
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 19, 2005 (VIS) - In response to a question about news from Argentina concerning a dispute with the government over declarations made by the military ordinary of that country, Bishop Antonio Juan Baseotto, C.SS.R., Holy See Press Office Director Joaquin Navarro-Valls replied:

  "I do not usually comment on news appearing in the press.

  "Concerning what was announced by news agencies on measures taken by the president of Argentina regarding Bishop Antonio Juan Baseotto, we are awaiting an official communique from the Argentinean side to the Supreme Pontiff, who appointed him as military ordinary.

  "Clearly, if a bishop legally appointed by the Holy See in keeping with canon law and current agreements were to be impeded from carrying out his pastoral ministry, we would be facing a violation of religious liberty and of those same agreements."


VATICAN CITY, MAR 19, 2005 (VIS) - Yesterday afternoon, Holy See Press Office Director Joaquin Navarro-Valls released the following declaration concerning the visit by Dragan Covic, a member of the collegial presidency of Bosnia-Herzegovina, to Cardinal Secretary of State Angelo Sodano:

  "During the meeting, a valuable exchange of opinions on the current situation in the country took place. The president also gave the cardinal secretary of State his heartfelt best wishes for the Holy Father's speedy recovery.

  "For his part, the secretary of State promised to pass on those best wishes to His Holiness, who nourishes deep interest and affection for all the people of Bosnia Herzegovina.

  "The cardinal secretary of State then gave assurances that the Holy See well understands the current difficulties of the country, expressing the hope that all citizens respect the law and that everyone's rights are respected.

  "In closing, His Eminence expressed the Holy Father's ardent best wishes to all the people of Bosnia Herzegovina, together with his hopes for peace and harmony among them.

  "Finally the cardinal secretary of State presented a special greeting from the Holy Father to Cardinal Vinko Puljic, to the entire episcopate, to the clergy and to all the Catholic faithful of the country."

Friday, March 18, 2005


VATICAN CITY, MAR 18, 2005 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed:

 - Fr. Fulgence Muteba Mugalu of the clergy of Kongolo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, secretary general of the National Episcopal Conference of the Congo, as bishop of Kilwa-Kasenga (area 54,000, population 441,716, Catholics 130,200, priests 26, religious 38), Democratic Republic of the Congo. The bishop-elect was born in Kongolo in 1962 and ordained a priest in 1990.

 - Fr. Vincent De Paul Kwanga Njubu of the clergy of Kongolo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, national director of the Pontifical Missionary Works in that country, as bishop of Manono (area 45,000, population 296,850, Catholics 152,158, priests 44, religious 1), Democratic Republic of the Congo. The bishop-elect was born in Budi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, in 1956 and ordained a priest in 1985.

 - Fr. John Bosco Panya Kritcharoen, pastor of Chombung and director of the evangelization center, as bishop of Ratchaburi (area 31,362, population 2,237,381, Catholics 15,730, priests 71, religious 88), Thailand. The bishop-elect was born in Bangtan-Banpong, Thailand, in 1949 and ordained a priest in 1976.

 - Fr. Marco Antonio Cortez Lara of the clergy of Chiclayo, Peru, pastor of the parish of Santa Lucia in Ferrenafe, as coadjutor bishop of Tacna y Moquegua (area 30,539, population 914,300, Catholics 804,854, priests 68, permanent deacons 4, religious 121), Peru. The bishop-elect was born in Chiclayo in 1957 and ordained a priest in 1985.

 - Fr Luis Sole Fa C.M., pastor and episcopal vicar of Mosquitia, Honduras, as bishop of Trujillo (area 25,500, population 280,000, priests 17, religious 23), Honduras. The bishop-elect was born in Tarragona, Spain, in 1946 and ordained a priest in 1973.
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 18, 2005 (VIS) - Made public today was a communique from the Synod of Bishops on the March 7, 2005, meeting in Rome of the council of the General  Secretariat for the Second Special Assembly for Europe under the presidency of Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, secretary general. This was the fifth such post-synod meeting.

  The meeting included a report on the secretariat's activity since the fourth post-synodal meeting, a summary of the results of the consultation on the application of the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation "Ecclesia in Europa" and a discussion on the Christian roots and spiritual vocation of Europe according to the doctrine laid out in the exhortation.

  The debate on the post-synodal exhortation underscored the fact that several European episcopal conferences have used this document in planning pastoral programs and ministries, often using single chapters as a plan for single years of pastoral activities. The document has been the focus of congresses, conferences, studies, books and articles.

  Participants also discussed Pope John Paul's Book, "Memory and Identity," with special focus on the passages where he speaks about the "convincing theme of the Christian roots of Europe" where the Pope talks of the baptism of the inhabitants of his native Poland in 966, how Christianity spread to central European countries and how, "in a like fashion, Christianity contributed in a decisive way to the formation of countries in western Europe. Notwithstanding the omission in the Constitutional Treaty of the European Union, the idea of Christian roots in Europe has been imposed on public opinion, gathering great consensus among Christians, Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants."

  The communique noted how "ecumenical relations are making progress but the efforts of the Catholic Church do not always find fruit, nor are they corresponded to in the diverse Churches. Following the Holy Father's example, Catholics continue to pray and to work in the ecumenical spirit."
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 18, 2005 (VIS) - In the Holy See Press Office this morning, Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, presented the Pope's Letter to Priests for Holy Thursday 2005. Also present at the press conference were Archbishop Csaba Ternyak and Msgr. Giovanni Carru, respectively secretary and under-secretary of the congregation.

  The eleven-page document, dated March 13, has been published in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and Polish.

  Cardinal Castrillon affirmed that this year's Letter has a special resonance because it was signed in "a place marked by the Cross of Christ," Rome's Gemelli Hospital.

  "In the silence of his suffering," said the cardinal, "the Pope, with the example of a life given 'to the end', repeats the Pauline affirmation: 'we preach Christ crucified, ... the power of God and the wisdom of God,' loving all men with Christ's charity and completing in his own body what is lacking in the passion of the one Savior and Redeemer," these last words a reference to Colossians 1, 24.

  The cardinal went on: "From his own cross, the Pope indicates to each priest the unfathomable dignity, conferred upon him by ordination, of being able to pronounce, 'in persona Christi,' the words that instituted the Eucharistic mystery, and of receiving the capacity to transform his own priestly existence into a radical gift for the Church and for humanity."

  "Conformed to Christ, we priests are called by the Pope to transform ourselves into Eucharistic bread, giving thanks to God with our own lives, for the work of salvation achieved by His only begotten Son."

  The prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy indicated that the Holy Father "reminds us of 'the obedience of love,' that grateful obligation with which we have been entrusted, to give ourselves entirely to the People of God, an obligation that we assumed on the day of our priestly ordination and that finds expression, as an example for all the faithful, in following the authoritative discernment of bishops, imitating Christ Who at the last Supper entrusted Himself to the Church. What we are giving is our autonomy, even our legitimate autonomy, a giving against which modern culture rebels as it seeks self-realization in reason unfettered by any limitation."

  "Once more, in this year of the Eucharist, the Holy Father introduces us with love to the 'mysterium Paschae' which is the great mystery of faith. ... With the gentleness of faith, we are invited by the Pope to reverently safeguard the liturgical norms that not only protect the sacredness of the Rite but give it luster. We priests will accept his words in order to be custodians of the Eucharist, in a continuous vigil and in all corners of the earth, and on our knees before the Tabernacle we will place all our solitude."

  Cardinal Castrillon concluded by highlighting the fact that "despite the passing of the years, strengthened by the Pope's words, we will spread the youthfulness of God Who is in us and irradiate it to those we meet on our way. ... The Holy Father assures us that from priestly sanctity will grow new life for the Church, with vocations that will guarantee the ardor of new evangelization, nourished by the bread of eternal life."

  To read the full text of the Pope's Letter, click here.
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 18, 2005 (VIS) - Thousands of young people gathered last evening at St. John Lateran Basilica in Rome for a prayer encounter and Eucharistic adoration in preparation for the 20th World Youth Day to be held in Cologne, Germany in August. They were welcomed by Cardinal Camillo Ruini who read a message to them from Pope John Paul who, through a video linkup with his private study, greeted the young people in silence and blessed them. The youth reciprocated with long and enthusiastic applause.

  "I wish to spiritually join you," said the Pope in his message, "and to express all my affection for you: I know that you are always close to me and you never tire of praying for me. I greet you and thank you from the bottom of my heart."

  The Pope then prayed: "We raise together our eyes to Jesus the Eucharist. ... Jesus, we adore You hidden in the host! In a time marked by hatred, egoism, the desire for false happiness, decadent behavior, the absence of paternal and maternal figures, instability in so many young families and the fragility and uneasiness of which young people are victims, we look to You, Jesus Eucharist with renewed hope. Notwithstanding our sins, we trust in Your Divine Mercy. ... The heavenly Father created us in His image and likeness; from Him we have received the gift of life that, the more we recognize it as precious from the moment of its beginning to death, the more threatened and manipulated it becomes."

  The message continued: "We adore You, Jesus Eucharist. We adore Your body and blood given for us and for all in the remission of sins. ... As we adore You, how can we not think about the many things we should do to give You glory? ... Help us, Jesus, to understand that 'to do' in Your Church, .... it is important above all 'to be', that is, to stay with You in adoration, in Your gentle company."

  John Paul II prayed that each young person present place Jesus at the center of their lives, commit to building "a civilization of love, and participate in Sunday, and even daily, Mass." He said he hoped that many vocations to the consecrated life and to the priesthood would be born as well as "generous vocations to holiness, which is the high measure of ordinary Christian life, especially in families: It is this which the Church and society most needs today."

Thursday, March 17, 2005


VATICAN CITY, MAR 17, 2005 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed:

 - Msgr. Luigi Negri of the clergy of the archdiocese of Milan, Italy, professor of the history of philosophy and introduction to theology at the Sacred Heart Catholic University, as bishop of San Marino-Montefeltro (area 800, population 65,725, Catholics 63,130, priests 76, permanent deacons 1, religious 99), Italy. The bishop-elect was born in Milan in 1941 and was ordained a priest in 1972.

 - Cardinals Antonio Maria Rouco Varela, archbishop of Madrid, Spain, and Angelo Scola, patriarch of Venice, Italy, as members of the Prefecture for Economic Affairs of the Holy See.
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 17, 2005 (VIS) - Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, librarian of Holy Roman Church, arrived in Jerusalem on March 15 to attend, as the Holy Father's representative, the inauguration of the new Holocaust History Museum at Yad Vashem Mausoleum. His speech, given yesterday morning, was published today.

  He assured the audience of "the spiritual closeness of Pope John Paul II, as well as the solidarity of the Catholic Church." The Pope visited Yad Vashem on March 23, 2000 during his pilgrimage to the Holy Land. It is a monument to the memory of victims of the Holocaust and contains, among other things, several urns of ashes of victims from various concentration camps.

  "The building that we have just inaugurated," added Cardinal Tauran, "is, for the whole world, a warning, a witness and an appeal. In acknowledging the immensity of Jewish suffering, we come face to face with the obligation to be vigilant, with the need to reject indifference and with the terrifying void of a world without God."

  Quoting from the Pope's Message of January 15, 2005, for the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, he stated that "Pope John Paul II repeats once again this morning to all those who are willing to listen that when we remember the 'horrible crime committed against the Jewish nation' that was the Holocaust, we do so because 'these terrible events are for contemporary men and women a summons to responsibility, in order to build our history'."

  "The Catholic Church," affirmed Cardinal Tauran, "respecting the uniqueness of Judaism and remaining linked in faith to its heritage, teaches that there is no place or reason for the hatred of Jews. This would be a sin against God and humanity."


VATICAN CITY, MAR 17, 2005 (VIS) - Today at midday, Cardinal Secretary of State Angelo Sodano received, in the Pope's name, the Letters of Credence of the new ambassador from Panama to the Holy See, Lawrence Edward Chewning Fabrega.

  In his speech, a copy of which was given to the diplomat, the Pope expresses his happiness at the continuing "good understanding and close collaboration between the public authorities and the Church in Panama."

  "I am aware," the Pope writes, "of your government's concern to fight the poverty in which a part of the population still lives, establishing more favorable conditions for the creation of jobs and combating the blight of corruption. For her part, the Church has contributed, and will continue to contribute, to the true progress of people by proclaiming the Good News."

  After recalling that Panama "has already celebrated the first hundred years of republican life," John Paul II goes on to say that "the road traveled to affirm this historical and geographical identity offers reasons for hope. Solidly rooted in this identity, your country can continue to make an important contribution, favoring communication and good relations between the other peoples of the world."

  The Holy Father affirms that "now, the goals attained must be consolidated by firm commitments in order to face up to the phenomena that could endanger them. On this matter it is necessary to: Orient the investment of available resources in projects that aim to eradicate poverty and remedy the huge differences in the distribution of wealth; form the different generations in respect for the dignity of each ethnic group; improve the educational system; streamline the implementation of judicial power, and make the situation of prisoners more humane and just in order to facilitate their reinsertion into society; and finally, find the means necessary for the overall development of the men and women of Panama."

  The Holy Father concludes by expressing the desire to encourage "the government of a people with such deep Christian roots as the Panamanians, a people so welcoming and open to dialogue, to put all its efforts in achieving better conditions for the true development of the family, safeguarding the role of women in the various areas of society and generating greater opportunities for young people."


VATICAN CITY, MAR 17, 2005 (VIS) - Yesterday afternoon, Cardinal Secretary of State Angelo Sodano read a message from the Pope addressed to Cardinal Renato R. Martino and to participants in the conference for the 40th anniversary of the Vatican Council II Pastoral Constitution "Gaudium et Spes." The meeting, which is being held in the Vatican from March 16 to 18, has been promoted by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, of which Cardinal Martino is president.

  After recalling the theme of the conference, "The Call to Justice," the Holy Father writes that "at times, the huge advances in science and technology can result in the fundamental questions of justice being forgotten, despite a shared aspiration for greater solidarity between peoples and for a more human structuring of social relationships."

  John Paul II highlights the fact that "the sad persistence of armed conflict and recurring displays of violence in many parts of the world constitute a further proof of the inseparable relationship between justice and peace, in keeping with the fundamental teaching proposed with courageous clarity in Gaudium et Spes. On this subject, I wish to reaffirm once again that peace is the work of justice; indeed it is born from that order upon which the Divine Founder Himself wanted human society to be built."

  "How, then," the Pope asks, "can we not approve and encourage those men and women of good will who make such efforts to create conditions of greater justice in the world? Indeed, true peace on earth means the firm determination to respect others in their dignity, both individuals and peoples, and the constant will to increase fraternity among the members of the human family."

  The Pope concludes his message by referring to the need "never to forget the virtue of love that leads to forgiveness and reconciliation, and that animates Christian commitment in favor of justice. In any case, it remains unquestionable that the theme of justice is the foundation for the correct regulation of the social order."
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Wednesday, March 16, 2005


VATICAN CITY, MAR 16, 2005 (VIS) - The following prelates died in recent weeks:

 - Archbishop Roman Arrieta Villalobos, emeritus of San Jose de Costa Rica, Costa Rica, on March 8 at the age of 80.

 - Bishop Joseph Matthew Breitenbeck of Grand Rapids, U.S.A., on March 12 at the age of 90.

 - Bishop Abele Conigli, emeritus of Teramo-Atri, Italy, on March 14 at the age of 92.

 - Archbishop Jose Gottardi Cristelli, emeritus of Montevideo, Uruguay, on March 7 at the age of 81.

 - Bishop Armand Francois M. Le Bourgeois C.I.M., emeritus of Autun, France, on March 2 at the age of 94.

 - Bishop Luciano Nervi S.M.M., of Mangochi, Malawi, on March 8 at the age of 66.

 - Bishop Eugenio Santiago Peyrou S.D.B., emeritus of Comodoro Rivadavia, Argentina, on March 2 at the age of 91.

 - Bishop Giuseppe Torti, emeritus of Lugano, Switzerland, on March 14 at the age of 77.
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 16, 2005 (VIS) - The Holy Father accepted the resignation as counsellor general of Vatican City State presented for reasons of health by Giulio Sacchetti, entrusting that office to Cesare Mirabelli. At the same time, he designated Msgr. Bruno Bertagna, Carlo Balestrero and Massimo Vari as counsellors of Vatican City State.
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 16, 2005 (VIS) - The Holy Father's Letter to Priests for Holy Thursday 2005 will be presented in the Holy See Press Office at 11.30 a.m. on Friday March 18. The conference will be attended by Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, Archbishop Csaba Ternyak, and Msgr. Giovanni Carru, respectively prefect, secretary and under-secretary of the Congregation for Clergy.
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 16, 2005 (VIS) - At 5 p.m. tomorrow, 15,000 young people from the diocese of Rome are scheduled to participate in a traditional annual meeting of reflection and prayer on the Pope's Message for the 20th World Youth Day (WYD) on the theme: "We Have Come to Adore Him." The celebration will be held in the basilica of St. John Lateran and will be presided by Cardinal Camillo Ruini, vicar general for the diocese of Rome.

  Tomorrow's program includes teaching on the Eucharist delivered by Daniel Ange, a French monk and founder of the "Jeunesse lumiere" movement. There will also be songs and witnesses, as well as a moment of Eucharistic adoration during which the central points of the Message for World Youth Day will be considered. In closing, a message from the Holy Father will be read out. The 20th WYD will be held in Cologne, Germany in August.
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 16, 2005 (VIS) - A three-day meeting promoted by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace starts this afternoon in the New Synod Hall in the Vatican on the theme "A Call to Justice. The Legacy of  'Gaudium et Spes' 40 Years Later." Cardinal Renato Martino, council president, is scheduled to make welcome remarks and Cardinal Secretary of State Angelo Sodano, will give the opening address.

  The meetings will be divided into plenary sessions and seminar sessions. Five main speakers will address five different dimensions of "Gaudium et Spes": Cardinal Claudio Hummes, archbishop of Sao Paulo, Brazil, will address the theological and ecclesial foundations; Andrea Riccardi, founder of the Sant'Egidio Community, will give a historical perspective; Rubens Ricupero, former director general of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, will speak on "The Call to Justice in the Political Order"; Guy Pognon of Benin will address "A Call to Justice in the Economic Order"; Helen Alvare, a docent at the Catholic University of America, will talk on the role of the family in the social order.

  Conference participants intend to examine the scope of the social Magisterium of Vatican Council II through a triple reflection on the philosophical and theological foundations of Catholic social tradition, on the mission of the Church in the social sphere and on her answer to the signs of the times and analysis of great contemporary questions of an economic, political and social nature (globalization, poverty, consumerism, international peace, immigration, terrorism). Analysis of these questions will be accompanied by presentations of concrete models of effective action against poverty, social sin, and suffering in its various forms.


VATICAN CITY, MAR 16, 2005 (VIS) - Shortly before 11.30 this morning the Pope appeared at the window of his apartment in the Vatican's Apostolic Palace and blessed several times the people gathered below in St Peter's Square.

  The large numbers of faithful in the square - mostly Polish pilgrims who applauded the Pope as soon as he appeared - was due to the fact that today is traditionally the day of the Pope's weekly general audience in the Vatican.

  The images of John Paul II were relayed on two giant screens placed in St Peter's Square.
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Tuesday, March 15, 2005


VATICAN CITY, MAR 15, 2005 (VIS) - Archbishop John P. Foley, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, is in Kiev, Ukraine, where he has delivered a series of talks in recent days.

  On March 10 and 11 he attended and spoke at the Seventh European Ministerial Conference on Mass Media Policy. Yesterday he spoke on "Communication as a Way of Life" at the Kievan Mohyla Academy and today he addressed a meeting for the presentation of the Ukrainian translation of Church documents on communication at the Institute of Journalists in the presence of Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, major archbishop of Lviv of the Ukrainians.

  On March 17, Archbishop Foley will speak on "Religion and Church in the Information Society" at the conference of religious and government leaders in the Round Hall of the President Hotel in Moscow, Russia.
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 15, 2005 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Bishop Edward K. Braxton of Lake Charles, U.S.A., as bishop of Belleville (area 30,224, population 845,906, Catholics 107,041, priests 155, permanent deacons 29, religious 270), U.S.A.
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Monday, March 14, 2005


VATICAN CITY, MAR 14, 2005 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Archbishop Andre Vingt-Trois of Paris, France, as ordinary for Catholics of Oriental rite resident in France and without an ordinary of their own. He succeeds Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, archbishop emeritus of Paris, whose resignation from the same office was accepted by the Holy Father.

  On Saturday, March 12, it was made public that he appointed Msgr. Joseph Kariyil, vicar general of the diocese of Cochin, India, as bishop of Punalur (area 5,052, population 2,482,100, Catholics 46,708, priests 50, religious 237), India. The bishop-elect was born in Arthiunkal, India, in 1949 and ordained a priest in 1973. He succeeds Bishop Mathias Kappil whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese was accepted by the Holy Father, upon having reached the age limit.
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 14, 2005 (VIS) - At midday today, Holy See Press Office Director Joaquin Navarro-Valls made the following declaration:

  "Tomorrow, March 15, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, archivist and librarian of Holy Roman Church, will participate as the Holy Father's representative at the inauguration of the new Holocaust History Museum at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem."


VATICAN CITY, MAR 14, 2005 (VIS) - Made public today was the speech given on March 10 by Msgr. Fortunatus Nwachukwu, nunciature counsellor at the Holy See Permanent Observer Mission to the United Nations at Geneva, at the 32nd meeting of the Standing Committee of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The four-day meeting began March 8.

  "The refugee situation in Africa," he said in his talk which focused on the displaced population crisis in Darfur, Sudan, "remains a deep scar on the human family everywhere. The precarious and tragic condition of these millions of persons forcibly uprooted from their villages and their lands calls for concrete and prompt decisions to alleviate their suffering and to protect their rights."
  Msgr. Nwachukwu noted the "positive signs given in the past year when voluntary and organized repatriation of refugees had started to normalize life for tens of thousands." However, there has been "insufficient funding" and a "worsening of violence and ill-treatment of the displaced population of Darfur where the humanitarian situation is critical. Systematic attacks on the civil populations, the destruction of infrastructures and entire villages and the elimination of livestock and crops lead to a widespread displacement of the civilian population."

  "If  a person is lucky," added the delegate, "he or she becomes a refugee by crossing the border and ends up in a refugee camp in Chad, where protection and some relative safety may be provided. ... The African Union military monitors are insufficient in number and lack the necessary logistical support."
  In conclusion, he said that, notwithstanding "the courageous presence and assistance of the UNHCR, of other U.N. agencies and many NGOs, ... a strong U.N. leadership and an overall coordination by one agency of external assistance and protection to IDP (internally displaced persons) camps and other places of their concentration appear urgent. ... As international community we should develop a reliable system which effectively protects those staying in their own country, but displaced from their homes."


VATICAN CITY, MAR 13, 2005 (VIS) - Just hours before returning to the Vatican this evening, Pope John Paul appeared at his hospital window for the noon Angelus to greet and bless the faithful gathered in the courtyard of Gemelli Polyclinic. Archbishop Leonardo Sandri, substitute of the Secretariat of State, led the Marian prayer in St. Peter's Square and read the Pope's reflections while images of the Holy Father were projected on large screens.

  The media was the focus of the Holy Father's Angelus reflections. "In these days I have been in Gemelli hospital," said the message, "I felt in a special way the presence and attention of many who work in the mass media. Today I wish to extend to them a word of gratitude because I know that it is not without sacrifice that they undertake their appreciated service, thanks to which the faithful, in every part of the world, can feel I am closer and can accompany me with their affection and prayers."

  "In our era of global communications the role of the mass media is very important. Also important is the responsibility of all who work in this field, called to always give prompt information, respectful of the dignity of the human person and attentive to the common good."

  "During Lent, which invites us to be nourished more abundantly by the Word of God, I like to think that it is possible to nourish one's own spirit even through radio, television and Internet. I am grateful to all who work in these new forms of evangelization by using the mass media."

  The Pope concluded by saying he hoped to see many young people in St. Peter's Square next Sunday, Palm Sunday and the celebration of World Youth Day on a diocesan level, as a prelude to the international World Youth Day this summer in Cologne, Germany.

  Pope John Paul left Gemelli Hospital, where he had been admitted on February 24 for the second time that month, just before 6:30 p.m. Travelling in a silver van, and seated in the front next to the driver, he arrived in Vatican City shortly afterwards, greeted by small crowds that lined the nearby streets as well as St. Peter's Square. According to Holy See Press Office Director Joaquin Navarro Valls, the Pope will continue his therapy and convalescence in the Vatican.
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 12, 2005 (VIS) - The Holy Father has named the presidents delegate, relator general and special secretary of the 11th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops which will take place in the Vatican from October 2 to 29, 2005 on the theme, "The Eucharist: Source and Summit of the Life and Mission of the Church."

  The presidents delegate are: Cardinals Francis Arinze, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of Sacraments, Juan Sandoval Iniguez, archbishop of Guadalajara, Mexico and Telesphore Placidus Toppo, archbishop of Ranchi, India. The relator general is Cardinal Angelo Scola, patriarch of Venice, Italy and the special secretary is Archbishop Roland Minnerath of Dijon, France.
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 12, 2005 (VIS) - Made public today was a Message from the Pope addressed to Cardinal James F. Stafford, major penitentiary of the Apostolic Penitentiary, to his collaborators, to father confessors of Roman basilicas, and to all priests participating in the annual course on the internal forum, organized by the Tribunal of the Apostolic Penitentiary.

  "We live in a society that often seems to have lost a sense of God and of sin," writes the Holy Father in his Message, which is dated March 8 from Gemelli Polyclinic. "In this context, Christ's call to conversion becomes ever more urgent, a call that presupposes confession of one's own sins and the consequent request for forgiveness and salvation."

  John Paul II recalls that "in the tradition of the Church, sacramental reconciliation has always been considered in close connection with the sacrificial banquet of the Eucharist, a remembrance of our redemption. In this year specially dedicated to the Eucharistic mystery, I consider it more than ever worthwhile to again call your attention to the vital relationship that exists between these two Sacraments."

  "In the rite of Mass, many elements underline this need for purification and conversion: from the opening act of penance, to the prayers for forgiveness; from the sign of peace, to the prayers that priests and faithful recite prior to communion. Only people with a sincere awareness of not having committed mortal sin may receive the body of Christ."

  After making a call for the Eucharistic mystery to be celebrated "with pureness of heart and sincere love," the Holy Father concludes: "Clearly and simply preach the true doctrine concerning the need of the Sacrament of reconciliation for receiving communion, when one is aware of not being in God's grace. At the same time, encourage the faithful to receive the body and blood of Christ in order to be purified of venial sins and imperfections, so that Eucharistic celebrations are pleasing to God and associate us with the offer of the holy and immaculate Victim with a heart that is contrite and humbled, confident and reconciled. Be assiduous ministers for all the faithful, willing and competent in the Sacrament of reconciliation, true images of the holy and merciful Christ."


VATICAN CITY, MAR 12, 2005 (VIS) - Pope John Paul has written a Message to members of the Congregation of Marians of the Immaculate Conception, known as the Marian Fathers, as they celebrate their General Chapter. Made public today, the Message is dated March 10 from Gemelli Hospital.

  The Marians were founded in Poland in 1673 by Servant of God Stanislaus of Jesus Mary Papczynski who, says the Pope, "knew how to spread and courageously defend the truth of the Immaculate Conception even before it was proclaimed as a dogma of faith. Faithfully follow his example and propagate Marian devotion all around you."

  "In this year especially dedicated to the mystery of the Eucharist," writes the Holy Father, "make this wonderful Sacrament even more the center of your personal and community life, placing yourselves docilely at the school of the Blessed Virgin, 'Eucharistic woman'. ... If your heart burns with fervent love for the Eucharist and for Our Lady, the shrines you run in various parts of the world will be even more genuine 'cenacles' of prayer and welcome."

  Noting the many "exemplary religious" who have been Marians, "often in difficult and risky situations," even to the point of giving their lives, the Pope asks the congregation "to intensify your apostolic drive, committing yourselves with renewed enthusiasm to the promotion of priestly and religious vocations and satisfactorily preparing those aspiring to your institute to be generous workers in the Lord's vineyard. May your pastoral collaboration with lay faithful grow, dedicating special attention to the young and to the needy, to the marginalized and the elderly. Be apostles and witnesses of Divine Mercy for everyone."

  "'For Christ and the Church': May this continue to be the program of your religious family to whom I wish an abundant harvest of apostolic fruits."
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Friday, March 11, 2005


VATICAN CITY, MAR 11, 2005 (VIS) - At midday today in the Holy See Press Office, there was a presentation of the second phase of the STOQ Project (Science, Theology and the Ontological Quest), one of the world's most prestigious current research programs on the relationship between science, philosophy and theology.

  In his talk, Cardinal Paul Poupard indicated that the project is being coordinated by the Pontifical Council for Culture, of which he is president, and involves the Pontifical Lateran and Gregorian Universities, as well as the Pontifical Athenaeum "Regina Apostolorum." Other pontifical universities also have some degree of involvement in the project, which is financially supported by the John Templeton Foundation and other sponsors in various countries.

  The cardinal explained that the project "consists of a series of organically-coordinated initiatives at three different levels: the first and fundamental level is that of teaching, with the object of forming specialists in the field of dialogue between science and faith. This will take place by means of graduate studies programs in each university with a view to attaining a degree (bachelors or masters), and with the possibility of exchanging academic credits between the various universities involved in the project."

  The president of the pontifical council affirmed that the project also includes: "the definition of joint programs with other public and private universities, with the possibility of attaining a form of double recognition; scholarships for doctoral theses; and the organization of an international congress in November 2005 on the theme 'Infinity in Science, Philosophy and Theology,' in which scientists, theologians and philosophers from all over the world will participate."

  As for the final aim of the project, the cardinal said that it sought "to contribute to dialogue between areas of research and study that, in the modern age, have slowly become separated." To this end, its is necessary "to build firm bridges and create fruitful exchanges between science, philosophy and theology through dialogue among their respective practitioners."

  Professor Vincenzo Cappelletti, president of the Italian Society of the History of Science, indicated that the project offers a chance to create "unity between the two elements that in modern times constitute (the university institution): the philosophical-humanistic element, and the scientific-experimental element."

  Professor Gianfranco Basti, director of the STOQ Project, explained the results of the first year of activity, during which more than 300 students have followed the 12 academic courses and four seminars of the project in the universities involved: Gregorian, Lateran and Regina Apostolorum.

  "The method we follow in implementing the study program of the STOQ Project," he said, "is to give our philosophy and theology students the possibility of following scientific courses within our humanistic faculties. ... This means renewing the old tradition of teaching mathematics and natural sciences in the pontifical Roman universities, as an organic part of the curricula of philosophy and theology students."

  "Each of the universities is developing a specific theme: while the Gregorian University is concentrating on the problems of the foundation of the philosophy of science and nature, the Lateran University is devoting itself to the systematic formalization of the relationship between science and humanism, also using the new discipline of 'formal ontology,' paying particular attention to an 'anthropology for the third millennium.' For its part, the Regina Apostolorum Athenaeum is dedicating itself to a deeper study of the relationships between theology, philosophy and sciences of life (biology), with particular reference to ethical nuances (bioethics)."
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 11, 2005 (VIS) - Made public this afternoon was a Message from Pope John Paul to Cardinal Polycarp Pengo, archbishop of Dal-es-Salaam and Bishop Severine Niwemugizi of Rulenge, Tanzania, who is also the president of the Episcopal Conference of Tanzania, who were welcomed by the Pope at 12:30 p.m. today in Gemelli Hospital. The prelates are in Rome for their "ad limina" visit.

  "I greet you from Gemelli Hospital," writes the Holy Father, "where I offer my prayers and my sufferings for you: in these days I feel especially close to you." He says he wishes, in his Message, to underscore "three integral parts of your pastoral ministry; care of the family; care of the clergy and care for the common good of society in your region."

  "The world can learn much," the Pope writes, "from the high value that is placed upon the family as a building block of African society." The Church must give "special priority to the pastoral care of the family, because of the great cultural changes taking place in the modern world. ... For example, the unjust practice of linking programs of economic assistance to the promotion of sterilization and contraception must be strenuously resisted" as they are "affronts to the dignity of the person and the family."

  The Pope says marriage is "sacred, ... one and indissoluble by nature" and "has to remain open to the generation of new life. ... The promotion of genuine family values is all the more urgent on account of the terrible scourge of AIDS afflicting your country and so much of the African continent. Fidelity within marriage and abstinence outside it are the only sure ways to limit the further spread of infection. ... It especially grieves me to consider the many thousands of children left as orphans in the wake of the merciless virus."

  Turning to care for the clergy, John Paul II indicates that a bishop must be "a father, brother and a friend" to his closest collaborators. He urges prelates to help priests "grow in holiness and in single-hearted commitment to discipleship" and "to enkindle within them a genuine longing for the Kingdom of God. Continue to encourage them in their gifts, sustain them in their difficulties and form them to meet the demands of priestly life today. I know that you appreciate the importance of seminary formation and the need to assign your best priests to this task."

  On the question of the Church's care for the common good, the Holy Father underlines the steps taken by the episcopal conference "to combat the material deprivation afflicting so many of your people" and says that "cooperation between Church and State on such matters of great social concern deserves to be commended." He also notes Tanzania's contributions "to building peace and stability in East Africa" and its generosity "in providing a home for thousands of refugees fleeing persecution in their own countries."

  He closes his remarks by stressing the challenge "to maintain and strengthen respectful relations with the Muslim community" and the "serious commitment to inter-religious dialogue."
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Thursday, March 10, 2005


VATICAN CITY, MAR 10, 2005 (VIS) - The Holy Father accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Catarman, the Philippines, presented by Bishop Angel T. Hobayan upon having reached the age limit. He is succeeded by Coadjutor Bishop Emmanuel Celeste Trance.
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 10, 2005 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican, Cardinal Secretary of State Angelo Sodano received, in the Pope's name, the Letters of Credence of the new ambassador from Senegal to the Holy See, Felix Oudiane.

  The cardinal gave the diplomat a copy of the Pope's welcome speech, in which the Holy Father recalls how Senegal "has a long tradition of coexistence among all the communities of which the nation is composed. I am pleased with the promising results of efforts made in your country to fortify civil peace, and to eliminate all those elements which can give rise to dissention and violent confrontation. It is essential that all inhabitants are able to live in security and harmony."

  John Paul II highlights that peace is "fundamental in order to realize people's just aspiration to live a dignified and solidary life. Furthermore, it is more necessary than ever to educate the new generations in the ideals of fraternity, justice and solidarity."

  "Senegal's commitment to seeking and consolidating peace in Africa is well-known and appreciated by the international community," the Pope writes, adding that the continent "has an urgent need for peace and stability. Violence will never be a satisfactory solution for resolving disagreements between human groups. Courage and perseverance are the most effective ways to achieve true reconciliation."

  After recognizing that Senegal "is particularly sensitive to the importance of different religions being able to experience diversity within the unity of a nation," the Pope writes: "This is one of the conditions for the full development of society. Despite the inevitable difficulties inherent in coexistence between different human communities, dialogue enables the richness of their diversity to be recognized."

  The Pope highlights the fact that dialogue needs to "find concrete expression in true coexistence among communities, in order to serve the common good of the one human family. There is still a long road to travel together, that of mutual knowledge, forgiveness and reconciliation, through regular collaboration that contributes to building a pacified and fraternal society."

  In closing, the Holy Father addresses the Catholic community of Senegal, calling it to "always remain united to its bishops, so that the love of Christ may shine ever more brightly, and to share with everyone the joy and happiness that it never ceases to receive from God. The Gospel calls all Christ's disciples to work tirelessly with all men and women of good will to build the unity of the human family, the source of which is in God."


VATICAN CITY, MAR 10, 2005 (VIS) - This morning, Holy See Press Office Director Joaquin Navarro-Valls made the following declaration to journalists, concerning the Pope's health:

  "The Holy Father, accepting the advice of his doctors, will extend his stay in Gemelli' Polyclinic by a few more days, in order to complete his convalescence which is progressing regularly.

  "I do not expect to issue another communique before Monday, March 14."

  In reply to questions from journalists, Navarro-Valls confirmed that "the Pope will spend Holy Week in the Vatican." He indicated that the Angelus this coming Sunday would "follow the same model as the two previous Sundays." Lastly, the press office director recalled that the Pope continues to receive his collaborators, "with whom he follows the activity of the Holy See and the life of the Church. Yesterday, for example, he received Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, and Archbishop Leonardo Sandri, substitute for General Affairs of the Secretariat of State. Thus, he has resumed the meetings he customarily holds when working in the Vatican."
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