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Monday, January 5, 2004


VATICAN CITY, JAN 3, 2004 (VIS) - Today the Holy Father received in separate audiences:

- Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri, apostolic nuncio in Brazil.

- Archbishop Alain Paul Lebeaupin, apostolic nuncio in Ecuador.

- Msgr. Lucas Van Looy, bishop-elect of Ghent, Belgium.

- Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation of Bishops.
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 3, 2004 (VIS)- On January 8 at 5 p.m. at the altar of the Cathedra in the Vatican Basilica, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, secretary of State, will celebrate a Mass for the repose of the soul of Archbishop Michael Courtney, apostolic nuncio in Burundi, slain on December 29, 2003.


VATICAN CITY, JAN 3, 2004 (VIS) - Cardinal Angelo Sodano, secretary of State, sent a telegram in the Holy Father's name to Archbishop Fortunato Baldelli, apostolic nuncio in France, upon news of the Egyptian plane that crashed into the Red Sea shortly after taking off from Sharm el-Sheik Airport. All passengers aboard, the majority of whom were French, died.

"The Holy Father," reads the telegram, "expresses his heartfelt condolences to the families affected and assures all those hit by this catastrophe of his solidarity and spiritual closeness. He entrusts those who died to the mercy of God and asks God Almighty to embrace them in His peace and light. He asks God to sustain and console all the persons who are so harshly tried by this drama, with the hope that they may be able to find the help that they need in these sorrowful hours."


VATICAN CITY, JAN 5, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Bishop Evarist Pinto, auxiliary of Karachi, Pakistan, as metropolitan archbishop of the same archdiocese (area 180,000, population 11,000,000, Catholics 150,263, priests 63, religious 188).

On Saturday January 3, it was made public that the Holy Father:

- Erected the diocese of Irapuato, Mexico, with territory taken from the archdiocese of Morelia and of the diocese Leon, making it a suffragen of the Metropolitan Church of San Luis Potosi.

- Appointed Bishop Jose de Jesus Martinez Zepeda, auxiliary of Mexico, as bishop of Irapuato (area 4,775, population 1,077,660, Catholics 1,030,000, priests 150, religious 204), Mexico.

- Appointed Bishop Anicetus Sinaga, O.F.M.Cap., archbishop coadjutor of the archdiocese of Medan (area 102,738, population 14,598,544, Catholics 491,272, priests 141, religious 1,087), Indonesia, transferring him from the episcopal see of Sibolga.
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 4, 2003 (VIS) - Before praying the Angelus this morning with thousands of people gathered in St. Peter's Square, John Paul II recalled that on the first Sunday of the new year "the liturgy proposes once again to our meditation the wonderful page of the prologue of the Gospel of John."

The Holy Father said that upon affirming that the "Word was made flesh and dwelt among us," St. John "emphatically confirms the reality of the Incarnation. He uses two seemingly incompatible words: 'word' and 'flesh'. Yes! Jesus is true God and true man. He is the only Son of God that John and the other apostles have 'seen, heard, and touched.' In His humanity, He lives the fullness of divinity."

"Guided by the evangelist John," he concluded, "let us get closer to the mystery of the Child of Bethlehem in whom God fully revealed His face. Let us be silent with Our Lady before the eternal Word that for us is a little baby. He gives the 'ability to become children of God' to all those who believe in His name. And this is the mystery and gift of Christmas!"
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