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Monday, January 10, 2005


VATICAN CITY, JAN 10, 2005 (VIS) - The Holy Father accepted the resignation presented by Bishop Angelo Mascheroni to the office of auxiliary of the archdiocese of Milan upon having reached the age limit.

  On Saturday, January 8, it was made public that he appointed:
 - Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, archbishop of Paris, as his special envoy to the 60th anniversary celebrations for the liberation of the concentration camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau, Poland, scheduled to take place on January 27, 2005.

 - Maurizio Trombetta as director of the Pension Fund Office.

 - Fr. Sebastiano Paciolla, O. Cist., as promoter of justice at the Tribunal of the Roman Rota.
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 10, 2005 (VIS) - This morning at 11 in the Regia Hall, John Paul II met with the members of the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See for an exchange of New Year's greetings and for his annual "state of the world" address. Given in French, the Pope's speech was also made available in English, Spanish and Italian. His talk followed greetings by Ambassador Giovanni Galassi of San Marino, dean of the diplomatic corps.

  In his welcome, the Pope had special words for the 37 new ambassadors who presented their Letters of Credence during the past year.

  He added that his sentiments of joy at today's meeting "are overshadowed, unfortunately, by the enormous catastrophe which on December 26 struck different countries of Southeast Asia and as far as the coasts of East Africa.  It made for a painful ending of the year just past: a year troubled also by other natural calamities, such as the devastating cyclones in the Indian Ocean and the Antilles, and the plague of locusts which desolated vast regions of Northwest Africa.  Other tragedies also cast a shadow on 2004, like the acts of barbarous terrorism which caused bloodshed in Iraq and other countries of the world, the savage attack in Madrid, the terrorist massacre in Beslan, the inhuman acts of violence inflicted on the people of Darfur, the atrocities perpetrated in the Great Lakes region of Africa."

  The Holy Father told the diplomats that their presence "immediately sets before our eyes the great tableau of humanity with its grave and troubling problems and its great and undampened hopes. The Catholic Church, because of her universal nature, is always directly engaged in the great causes for which the men and women of our age struggle and hope."

  He then quoted his Message for World Day of Peace 2005, saying its theme - "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil by good" - was the message he wished to leave them today because it "has a specific application to international relations, and it can be a guide to all in meeting the great challenges facing humanity today," principally the challenge of life, the challenge of food, the challenge of peace and that of freedom.

  Regarding the challenge of life, Pope John Paul said: "The Church is called to proclaim 'the Gospel of Life'. And the State has as its primary task precisely the safeguarding and promotion of human life. ... Conflicting views have been put forward regarding abortion, assisted procreation, the use of human embryonic stem cells for scientific research, and cloning. The Church's position, supported by reason and science, is clear: the human embryo is a subject identical to the human being which will be born at the term of its development. Consequently whatever violates the integrity and the dignity of the embryo is ethically inadmissible. Similarly, any form of scientific research which treats the embryo merely as a laboratory specimen is unworthy of man."

  There is also a challenge to the family, he said, noting that today "the family is often threatened by social and cultural pressures which tend to undermine its stability; but in some countries the family is also threatened by legislation which - at times directly - challenge its natural structure, which is and must necessarily be that of a union between a man and a woman founded on marriage." 

  On the challenge of food, the Pope stated: "This world, made wondrously fruitful by its Creator, possesses a sufficient quantity and variety of food for all its inhabitants, now and in the future. Yet the statistics on world hunger are dramatic:  hundreds of millions of human beings are suffering from grave malnutrition, and each year millions of children die of hunger or its effects." Much has been done, he added, "yet all this is not enough. An adequate response to this need, which is growing in scale and urgency, calls for a vast moral mobilization of public opinion; the same applies all the more to political leaders, especially in those countries enjoying a sufficient or even prosperous standard of living."   

  Turning to the challenge of peace, the Holy Father pointed out that "peace is the dream of every generation. Yet how many wars and armed conflicts continue to take place - between States, ethnic groups, peoples and groups living in the same territory.  From one end of the world to the other, they are claiming countless innocent victims and spawning so many other evils! ... In addition to these tragic evils there is the brutal, inhuman phenomenon of terrorism, a scourge which has taken on a global dimension unknown to previous generations.

  "Like my venerable predecessors," he affirmed, "I have spoken out countless times, in public statements - especially in my annual Message for the World Day of Peace - and through the Holy See's diplomatic activity, and I shall continue to do so, pointing out the paths to peace and urging that they be followed with courage and patience. The arrogance of power must be countered with reason, force with dialogue, pointed weapons with outstretched hands, evil with good."

  He said that "there are some encouraging signs that the great challenge of building peace can be met," especially in Africa and the Middle East, adding that "certainly an outstanding example of the possibility of peace can be seen in Europe: nations which were once fierce enemies locked in deadly wars are now members of the European Union."

  "God loves mankind, and he wants peace for all men and women.  We are asked to be active instruments of that peace, and to overcome evil with good." 

  Pope John Paul then turned to the challenge of freedom, telling the diplomats: "All of you know how important this is to me, especially because of the history of my native people, yet it is also important to each of you. ... Yet freedom is first and foremost a right of each individual.  As the Universal Declaration of Human Rights fittingly states in Article 1 - 'all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights'.  Article 3 goes on to state that 'everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person'.  Certainly the freedom of States is also sacred; they need to be free, above all so that they can carry out adequately their fundamental duty of safeguarding both the life and the freedom of their citizens in all their legitimate manifestations."

  "At the very heart of human freedom is the right to religious freedom, since it deals with man's most fundamental relationship: his relationship with God. ... In many States, freedom of religion is a right which is not yet sufficiently or adequately recognized. ... Consequently I repeat today an appeal which the Church has already made on numerous occasions: 'It is necessary that religious freedom be everywhere provided with an effective constitutional guarantee, and that respect be shown for the high duty and right of man freely to lead his religious life in society'.

    "There need be no fear that legitimate religious freedom would limit other freedoms or be injurious to the life of civil society. On the contrary: together with religious freedom, all other freedoms develop and thrive. ... Neither should there be a fear that religious freedom, once granted to the Catholic Church, would intrude upon the realm of political freedom and the competencies proper to the State: the Church is able carefully to distinguish, as she must, what belongs to Caesar from what belongs to God."
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VATICAN CITY,  JAN 9, 2005 (VIS) - The Pope's Angelus reflections today, the feast of the Baptism of Jesus, highlighted this sacrament which he said the Evangelists considered as the start of Jesus' messianic ministry. "Christ's mission, thus begun, was fulfilled in the paschal mystery in which, having died and risen, He took away the sin of the world."

  "The mission of every Christian also begins with Baptism," said the Holy Father. "The rediscovery of Baptism, through appropriate itineraries of adult catechesis, is thus an important aspect of the new evangelization. Renewing in a more mature fashion one's own adherence to the faith is the condition for a true and full participation in the Eucharistic celebration that is the summit of ecclesial life."

  After praying the Angelus with the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square, the Pope said "my thoughts turn this Sunday of the Lord's Baptism to all the children who were baptized in the course of the year. I embrace and bless them. I also bless their godfathers and godmothers and, in a special way, the parents of the newly baptized, asking everyone to cultivate in them, through word and example, the seeds of divine life born in the sacrament of Baptism."
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 8, 2005 (VIS) - The Holy Father received in separate audiences:

 - Archbishop Giovanni Tonucci, apostolic nuncio to Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Sweden and Norway.

 - Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 8, 2005 (VIS) - Made public today was a Letter from Pope John Paul to Cardinal Josip Bozanic, archbishop of Zagreb, naming him as Special Envoy to the celebrations in Zadar, Croatia on January 15 for the 17th centenary of the martyrdom of St. Anastasia. The Letter was written in Latin and dated December 18, 2004.

 Also published were the names of the members of the pontifical mission that will accompany Cardinal Bozanic: Msgr. Pavao Kero, of the archdiocese of Zadar, vicar for culture and president of the cathedral chapter, and Fr. Josip Baloban of the archdiocese of Zagreb, canon of the cathedral and dean of the theology faculty.


VATICAN CITY, JAN 8, 2005 (VIS) - Made public today was the Holy Father's message for the 42nd World Day of Prayer for Vocations, to be held on April 17, fourth Sunday of Easter, on the theme: "Called to put out into the deep." The text of the Message has been published in English, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and German.

  In the Message, dated August 11, 2004, the Pope recollects Jesus' call to His disciples: "To let down their nets for a catch, which turned out to be a marvelous one. Jesus says to Peter: 'Duc in altum - Put out into the deep' ... The command of Christ is particularly relevant in our time, when there is a widespread mentality which, in the face of difficulties, favors personal non-commitment. The first condition for 'putting out into the deep' is to cultivate a deep spirit of prayer nourished by a daily listening to the Word of God."

  "Whoever opens his heart to Christ will not only understand the mystery of his own existence, but also that of his own vocation; he will bear the abundant fruit of grace. ... Living the Gospel without adding to it, the Christian becomes always increasingly capable of loving in the way that Christ loved."

  Addressing himself to adolescents and young people, John Paul II writes: "You find yourselves having to make important decisions for your future." After recalling his numerous meetings with young people over the years he reiterates how he has "come to recognize more and more how strong is the attraction in young people to the values of the spirit, and how sincere is their desire for holiness. Young people need Christ, but they also know that Christ chose to be in need of them."

  "Dear young men and women! Trust Christ; listen attentively to His teachings, fix your eyes on His face, persevere in listening to His Word. Allow Him to focus your search and your aspirations, all your ideals and the desires of your heart."

  The Holy Father then turns to parents, Christian educators, priests, consecrated people and catechists: "Be an example to (the young) of generous fidelity to Christ. ... Help them to discern their path, and to become true friends of Christ and His true disciples. ... Do not forget that today too there is need of holy priests, of persons wholly consecrated to the service of God!"

  "May an ardent prayer sustained by the motherly intercession of Mary, rise from every corner of the earth, to the heavenly Father to obtain 'laborers for His harvest'. May He give zealous and holy priests to every part of his flock." The Message concludes with a prayer to Christ, High Priest, in which the Pope calls with renewed trust for young people to discover the full truth of their own vocation.
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 8, 2005 (VIS) - The Holy Father this morning received 100 members of the 31st squadron of the Italian Air Force, who are responsible for air transportation of the Pope within Italy. Saying "I welcome you with joy and greet you with affection," he thanked the Air Force for "the generous and unique cooperation that you offer to my pastoral ministry."

  Focusing on "the mystery of the Eucharist," John Paul II said "this bread of eternal life is Christ, the source of our hope, a font of love from whom constantly flow on the world gifts of justice, pardon and peace. Dear ones, we feel the richness of this spiritual mystery above all  by participating in Sunday Mass, which for Christians is the center and high point of the week!"
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 8, 2005 (VIS) - This morning, the Pope received the Letters of Credence of the new ambassador from the Republic of Cuba, Raul Roa Kouri, to whom he gave assurances of his interest in efforts by Cuban authorities to further develop their achievements in the fields of health, education and culture in their different forms.

  The Pope affirmed that "the Holy See considers that assuring these conditions of human existence means erecting some of the pillars of the house of peace. This does not mean just the absence of war, but the possibility of all members of society benefiting from integral human promotion, in health and the harmonic growth of the body and the spirit."

  John Paul II expressed the hope that "the obstacles preventing free communication and exchange between Cuba and a part of the international community" would soon be overcome, and that this would strengthen, "by means of open and respectful dialogue with everyone, the conditions necessary for true peace."

  After highlighting the Cuban nation's spirit of solidarity in the face of natural catastrophes, conflicts and poverty, the Holy Father stressed that "in order for the Church's activity among the Cuban people to become more effective in promoting the common good, it would be appropriate for her - in an environment of true religious freedom - to maintain and increase the bonds of solidarity that already exist with other sister Churches who do not hesitate to give their generous support in various ways. In particular by making priests and religious available to favor the work of the Catholic Church in Cuba, whose members are part of the Cuban people, living together in communion and harmony with the Apostolic See."

  The Pope affirmed that divergences concerning the guidance and proposals of the Church, between those who profess the faith and those who do not, "must not give rise to any form of social conflict, but favor a broad-ranging and constructive dialogue." On this subject, he recalled the areas in which the Church in Cuba "wishes to illuminate social reality, such as for example the extensive problems raised by the promotion of human dignity; consideration for the family situation and the education of young generations in a culture of peace, of life and of hope; the complex relationship between the economy and the values of the spirit; comprehensive attention to the human individual - aspects in which it is necessary to establish a dialogue with all groups that make up the Cuban people."
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 8, 2005 (VIS) - The following telegram was sent yesterday afternoon by Cardinal Angelo Sodano in the Holy Father's name to Archbishop Carlo Caffarra of Bologna and Bishop Flavio Carraro of Verona upon hearing of the train crash that occurred in the early afternoon on a line between the two northern Italian cities:

  "Deeply saddened by the terrible rail accident in Crevalcore that caused the tragic death of numerous people and injured many others, the Holy Father expresses his spiritual closeness to all those affected by the sorrowful event, and to the entire Italian nation in these hours of anguish. And as he raises fervent prayers to the Lord of Life for the eternal repose of the departed souls, he invokes consolation from heaven for those weeping the loss of their loved ones. The Supreme Pontiff expresses his intense hopes for the speedy recovery of the passengers involved in the dramatic consequences of the incident, and sends his heartfelt condolences to the relatives of the victims to whom he imparts, as a sign of his participation in their pain, the comfort of his apostolic blessing."
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