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Monday, January 26, 2004


VATICAN CITY, JAN 25, 2004 (VIS) - Pope John Paul, addressing the thousands of faithful assembled in St. Peter's Square to pray the Angelus, reflected on the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity and the World Day of Leprosy and greeted the young people of Italian Catholic Action who, in the New Year, traditionally come to St. Peter's Square on their "Caravan of Peace" to conclude the Month of Peace.

Before the Angelus, the Pope noted that "today, feast of the conversion of the Apostle Paul, concludes the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity during which, in every corner of the world, Christians prayed together for the full realization of their unity according to the will of the Lord, 'Ut unum sint, that they may be one'. Christ's ardent invocation in the Cenacle continues to remind Christian communities that unity is a gift to welcome and develop in an ever deeper way." He underscored that "Christian unity has been a constant concern of my pontificate and continues to be a demanding priority of my ministry." Christ's wish "is an imperative that obliges us, the strength that sustains us, a salutary rebuke for our lethargy and narrow-mindedness."

After reciting the Angelus, the Holy Father pointed out that "this afternoon, in the basilica of St. Paul's-Outside-the-Walls there will be the traditional ecumenical celebration for the closing of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. I invite everyone to unite themselves spiritually to this event."

He also underscored that today is the World Day of Leprosy and invited the faithful to pray for those with Hansen's disease.

John Paul II was then joined at his study window by two young people from Catholic Action of Rome who represented the thousands of ACR members gathered in St. Peter's Square. They read a message of affection to the Pope, thanking him for his commitment to world peace and then, joined by the Holy Father, they released two white doves, one of whom refused to fly away and sat calmly on the window sill. In off-the cuff-remarks, a visibly delighted Pope thanked the young people for their words and told them he too loved them.


VATICAN CITY, JAN 24, 2004 (VIS) - The Islamic-Catholic Liaison Committee, which held its ninth meeting in the Vatican January 19-20 on the theme "Human Dignity and Humanitarian Rights in Armed Conflicts," issued a press release today in which the members appealed "for continuous prayer for peace" and affirmed "that justice and peace are the basis of relations and of interaction among human persons."

Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue and head of the Vatican delegation, and Prof. Hamid bin Ahmad AL-Rifaie, president of the International Islamic Forum for Dialogue in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia head of the Islamic delegation, signed the communique.

The document stated that the theme of the meeting "was treated from a religious point of view according to the teaching of our two religious traditions." In addition to an appeal for prayer for peace, the press release appealed for "an immediate end to all conflicts, including all forms of armed conflict, as well as forms of aggression against the security and stability of peoples. We affirm the rights of peoples to self-determination, so that human life be spared, especially that of innocent people, children, women, the elderly and the disabled.

"We appeal for the full respect for humanitarian law and for the rights of civilians ... and prisoners during armed conflict, ... for the preservation of infrastructures, ... for respect for the sacred character of places of worship and for their protection in time of war and in peace. We affirm the right to religious freedom and the practice of our religions according to their peculiarities."

"We are convinced," concludes the document, "that violence generates violence, and that this vicious circle should end. We declare that dialogue is the best way for treating conflicts and wars and for realizing justice and peace among human beings and societies."


VATICAN CITY, JAN 25, 2004 (VIS) - On the occasion of the Fifty-first World Day of Leprosy, which takes place today, Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry, sent a message to bishops who have been entrusted by their episcopal conferences with this pastoral ministry and to all those who are involved in the fight against leprosy.

Cardinal Lozano recalls that "according to data published at the beginning of 2003 by the World Health Organization and referring to 2002, 620,000 new cases of leprosy were reported: 48,248 in Africa; 39,939 in the Americas; 4,665 in the East Mediterranean; 520,632 in South East Asia (of which 78% were in India); 7,154 in the Western Pacific, and 34 in Europe."

Notwithstanding this data, "the successes obtained in recent times in the treatment of Hansen's disease have provided grounds for satisfaction and have generated hope that a definitive solution will be achieved over the next five years, and at the same time have led international and national health care institutions to launch a new approach to the effects of this pandemic."

The president of the council for health care ministry affirms that "scientific research, pharmacological forms of treatment, improvements in conditions of hygiene and community medicine, acting together can finally foster the uprooting of this disease, which has accompanied the history of mankind for many years. This is a praiseworthy action that can certainly be supported."

In terms of practical conclusions, as regards doctrine, "we should encourage and accompany scientific research by pointing out to specialists the contents, at the level of values, that must be respected in every individual aspect of epidemiological, biological and pharmacological research so that the unity and the dignity of the person is not lost from sight, above all in experimentation. The ethical criteria that guide good clinical practice constitute moral principles that must be respected always and everywhere so that no person, above all if he or she is gravely ill, can be used a mere instrument of research."


VATICAN CITY, JAN 25, 2004 (VIS) - After praying the Angelus today, John Paul II received in the Clementine Hall a group from the Artistic and Cultural Formation Center from Poland whose purpose is to "promote creativity in life, especially among young people" and to help poor and underprivileged youths.

The Pope attended a brief break-dancing performance and then made some remarks. After recalling that "in man, the artist, the image of the Creator is reflected," the Holy Father affirmed: "I say this also so that all artists present here are conscious that this reflection of God implies a great responsibility."

"Above all," he continued, "responsibility for one's self and for one's own talent," received by God, must "not be wasted but developed" in order "to serve one's neighbor and society with it. ... This is the second dimension of the responsibility of artists - the commitment to shape the spirit of societies and peoples. In this perspective," he affirmed, "the third dimension of responsibility is discovered. ... Artists are responsible not only for the aesthetic dimension of the world and of life but also of the moral dimension. If artists are not guided by good in creativity, or even worse , are lead toward evil, they are not worthy of the title of artist."


VATICAN CITY, JAN 26, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Fr. Edgar Hernando Tirado Mazo, M.X.Y., former superior general of the Institute for Foreign Missions of Yarumal and currently pastor of St. John the Baptist of Vitichi in Bolivia, as apostolic vicar of Tierradentro (area 2,087, population 57,000, Catholics 53,000, priests 22, religious 29), Colombia, elevating him at the same time to the dignity of bishop. The bishop-elect was born in Medellin, Colombia in 1939 and was ordained a priest in 1970.

On Saturday January 24, it was made public that the Holy Father:

- Appointed Bishop Joseph Cheng Tsai-fa of Tainan, Taiwan as metropolitan archbishop of Taipei (area 4,590, population 7,100,819, Catholics 82,903, priests 302, religious 708) , Taiwan and apostolic administrator of the Kinmen Islands, Quemoy and Matzu. He succeeds Archbishop Joseph Ti-kang whose resignation from the same archdiocese and as apostolic administrator of the Kinmen Islands, Quemoy and Matzu the Holy Father accepted upon having reached the age limit.

- Appointed Bishop Bosco Lin Chi-Nan, auxiliary of the diocese of Kaohsiung, as bishop of Tainan (area 2,780, population 1,927,836, Catholics 16,473, priests 66, religious 129), Taiwan.

- Appointed Msgr. Luigi Cantafora, pastor of the parish of St. Dominic in Crotone, Italy, as bishop of Lamenzia Terme (area 915, population 139,750, Catholics 139,300, priests 70, permanent deacons 21, religious 110), Italy. The bishop-elect was born in Scandale, Italy in 1943 and was ordained a priest in 1969. The Holy Father accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese presented by Bishop Vincenzo Rimedio upon having reached the age limit.

- Appointed the following prelates as members of the Pontifical Council for Culture:
Cardinals Frederic Etsou-Nzabi-Bamungwabi, archbishop of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Dionigi Tettamanzi, archbishop of Milan, Italy, Polycarp Pengo, archbishop of Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, Francis Eugene George, archbishop of Chicago, U.S.A., Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa, archbishop of Santiago de Chile, Chile, Lubomyr Husar, major archbishop of Lviv of the Ukraines; Archbishop Michael Louis Fitzgerald, president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, Bishop Mark Benedict Coleridge, auxiliary of Melbourne, Australia and Bishop Fabio Duque Jaramillo of Armenia, Colombia.

- Appointed the following as consultants to the Pontifical Council for Culture: Msgr. Peter D. Fleetwood, secretary general of the Council of Episcopal Conferences of Europe (C.C.E.E.); Professor Pedro Morande of the Pontifical Catholic University of Santiago de Chile, Chile; Professor Nurukyor Claude Somda of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso; Alfredo Augusto Garcia Quesada, Peru; Leon Zeches, director of the Catholic daily newspaper "Luxemburger Wort," of Luxemburg; Manuelita Nunez, Culture director for the Episcopal Conferences of Panama; Maria Eugenia Diaz de Pfennich, international president of the World Union of Catholic Womens Organizations - UMOFC, Mexico; Agnes Adjaho Avognon, Cotonou, Benin; Annie Lam Shun-Wai, president of the Association of the Catholic Press in Asia, Hong Kong.

- Appointed Archbishop Angelo Amato, secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, as consultant of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

- Appointed Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry, as his special envoy to the celebrations of the XII World Day of the Sick which will take place in Lourdes, France on February 11, 2004.

- Appointed Msgrs. Laszlo Kiss-Rigo, director of the Superior Council of Catholic Schools in Hungary, and Gyorgy Udvardy, vicar general and pastor in Szent Ersebt, Hungary, as auxiliary bishops of the archdiocese of Esztergom-Budapest (area 1,543, population 2,930,000, Catholics 1,258,000, priests 358, religious 872, permanent deacons 17), Hungary. Bishop-elect Kiss-Rigo was born in 1955 in Budapest, Hungary and was ordained a priest in 1981. Bishop-elect Udvardy was born in 1960 in Balassagyarmat, Hungary and was ordained a priest in 1985.
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 26, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

- Four prelates from the Episcopal Conference of France on their "ad limina" visit:

- Archbishop Andre Vingt-Trois of Tours.

- Bishop Maurice Le Begue de Germiny of Blois.

- Bishop Hubert Barbier of Bourges.

- Bishop Bernard Nicolas Aubertin, O. Cist., of Chartres.

- Bishop Renato Boccardo, secretary of the Pontifical Council of Social Communications, accompanied by family members.

- Archbishop Antonio Mennini, apostolic nuncio, Holy See representative in the Russian Federation.

On Saturday January 24, the Holy Father received in separate audiences:

- Archbishop Alfio Rapisarda, apostolic nuncio in Portugal.

- Two prelates from the Episcopal Conference of France on their "ad limina" visit:

- Bishop Jacques Perrier of Tarbes and Lourdes .

- Fr. Jean-Paul Soulet, diocesan administrator of Perpignan-Elne.

- Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 24, 2004 (VIS) - Pope John Paul met with French bishops this morning from the provinces of Toulouse and Montpellier as they conclude their "ad limina" visit, and focused his talk to them on their concerns for the future of the clergy in France "and the especially alarming situation your country is going through" with the low number of priests and priestly vocations.

He told the prelates that he "easily understands how you can feel demoralized in the face of this situation, ... but I invite you to hope and to an ever more resolute commitment in favor of the priesthood." He noted that "the crisis the Church is going through is in large part due to the repercussions ... of social changes, new forms of behavior, the loss of moral and religious values and a widespread consumeristic attitude."

The Pope urged the bishops to clarify and then communicate the image of a priest as a man whose sees the priesthood as "great and beautiful" and demonstrates "enthusiasm for the mission of the Church." A priest's calling is to serve his fellow man and it is here that he will find "joy and equilibrium."

A risk for priests in modern society, said the Holy Father, is that "of neglecting their spiritual life or allowing it to become weak. ... The heavier the burden, the more important it is to be close to the Lord in order to find in Him the grace necessary for their pastoral service and their welcome by the faithful."

He asked the bishops to be close to their priests and priests to be close to each other "in order to develop their priestly fraternity and pastoral collaborations." Priests must have a healthy, active community life in order to sustain each other in their ministry and in problem solving. "Participation in a priestly association is a precious aid" in this regard.

John Paul II then spoke of the "essential dimension" of priestly life, "celibacy and chastity," saying this is a much misunderstood concept and too often is seen as an "impediment" to service. "I invite priests to be diligent in the face of worldly seductions and to regularly make an examination of conscience in order to live ever more deeply in fidelity to their commitment which conforms them to Christ, chaste and totally dedicated to the Father." Young priests must be accompanied, he said, and suggested having them accompanied by older, wiser priests and perhaps even "appropriate psychological and spiritual aids."

"Growing de-Christianization is the major challenge at the moment," the Holy Father said in concluding remarks, "and I ask you to underscore this, mobilizing all the priests of your diocese in this regard." What is urgent is "the evangelization of a world that not only does not know the basic aspects of Christian dogma, ... but has in great part lost even the memory of the cultural elements of Christianity."


VATICAN CITY, JAN 24, 2004 (VIS) - Yesterday afternoon Holy See Press Office Director Joaquin Navarro-Valls announced that "the city of Aquisgrana has conferred on His Holiness John Paul II, in an extraordinary and single fashion, the Charlemagne International Prize as a recognition of his personal commitment and that of the Holy See in favor of unity among the peoples of Europe on the basis of the values rooted in the common human nature and efficaciously promoted by Christianity. The Holy Father feels honored to accept this prize which will be conferred on him on March 25 in the Vatican."


VATICAN CITY, JAN 24, 2004 (VIS) - Pope John Paul's Message for the 38th World Communications Day, which will be celebrated on May 23, 2004 on the theme "The Media and the Family: A Risk and a Richness," was made public today, the feast of St. Francis de Sales, patron of journalists.

Following are exceprts from this annual Message which was published in English, French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish and German:
"The extraordinary growth of the communications media and their increased availability has brought exceptional opportunities for enriching the lives not only of individuals, but also of families. At the same time, families today face new challenges arising from the varied and often contradictory messages presented by the mass media. The theme chosen for the 2004 World Communications Day - "The Media and the Family: A Risk and a Richness" - is a timely one, for it invites sober reflection on the use which families make of the media and, in turn, on the way that families and family concerns are treated by the media.

"This year's theme is also a reminder to everyone, both communicators and those whom they address, that all communication has a moral dimension. ... People grow or diminish in moral stature by the words which they speak and the messages which they choose to hear."
"Thanks to the unprecedented expansion of the communications market in recent decades, many families throughout the world, even those of quite modest means, now have access in their own homes to immense and varied media resources."

"Yet these same media also have the capacity to do grave harm to families by presenting an inadequate or even deformed outlook on life, on the family, on religion and on morality. This power either to reinforce or override traditional values like religion, culture, and family was clearly seen by the Second Vatican Council. ... Communication in any form must always be inspired by the ethical criterion of respect for the truth and for the dignity of the human person.
"These considerations apply in particular to the treatment of the family in the media. On the one hand, marriage and family life are frequently depicted in a sensitive manner, realistic but also sympathetic, that celebrates virtues like love, fidelity, forgiveness, and generous self-giving for others, .... yet at the same time make an effort to separate right from wrong, to distinguish true love from its counterfeits, and to show the irreplaceable importance of the family as the fundamental unit of society.

"On the other hand, the family and family life are all too often inadequately portrayed in the media. Infidelity, sexual activity outside of marriage, and the absence of a moral and spiritual vision of the marriage covenant are depicted uncritically, while positive support is at times given to divorce, contraception, abortion and homosexuality."
"Conscientious reflection on the ethical dimension of communications should ... ensure that these powerful instruments of communication will remain genuine sources of enrichment."

"It is not so easy to resist commercial pressures or the demands of conformity to secular ideologies, but that is what responsible communicators must do."

"Public authorities themselves have a serious duty to uphold marriage and the family. ... Instead many now accept and act upon the unsound libertarian arguments which advocate practices which contribute to the grave phenomenon of family crisis and the weakening of the very concept of the family. Without resorting to censorship, it is imperative that public authorities set in place regulatory policies and procedures to ensure that the media do not act against the good of the family. Family representatives should be part of this policy-making."

"The media should not appear to have an agenda hostile to the sound family values of traditional cultures or the goal of replacing those values, as part of a process of globalization, with the secularized values of consumer society.
"Parents, as the primary and most important educators of their children, are also the first to teach them about the media. They are called to train their offspring in the "moderate, critical, watchful and prudent use of the media" in the home. When parents do that consistently and well, family life is greatly enriched."

"In view of their great power to shape ideas and influence behaviour, professional communicators should recognize that they have a moral responsibility not only to give families all possible encouragement, assistance, and support to that end, but also to exercise wisdom, good judgement and fairness in their presentation of issues involving sexuality, marriage and family life.

"The media are welcomed daily as a familiar guest in many homes and families. On this World Communications Day I encourage professional communicators and families alike to acknowledge this unique privilege and the accountability which it entails."
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