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Monday, December 13, 2004


VATICAN CITY, DEC 11, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

- Accepted the resignation from Archbishop Pablo Puente as apostolic nuncio in Great Britain and named Archbishop Faustino Sainz Munoz, apostolic nuncio to the European Communities, to succeed him.

- Appointed Fr. Reynaldo Gonda Evangelista, pastor of St. Guillermo Parish in Talisay, Batangas, the Philippines, as bishop of Boac (area 959, population 216,815, Catholics 193,585, priests 22, religious 29), the Philippines. The bishop-elect was born in Mabini, Philippines in 1960 and was ordained a priest in 1986.

- Appointed the following people as members of the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life: Fr. Wolf Notker, abbot primate of the Confederate Benedictine Monks, Fr. Jose Rodriguez Carballo, general minister of the Franciscan Order of the Friars Minor, Fr. Pascual Chavez Villanueva, major rector of the Salesian Society of St. John Bosco, Fr. Teresino Serra, superior general of the Combonian Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus, Fr. Sean Dominic Sammon, superior general of the Marist Brothers of the Schools, Fr. Jacques Hazebroucq, head of the Priestly secular institute, Notre Dame de Vie.
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 11, 2004 (VIS) - One-hundred pilgrims from the diocese of Tarbes et Lourdes, including Bishop Jacques Perrier, were received in the Vatican this morning by Pope John Paul who thanked them for their "warm welcome" during his pilgrimage to the shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes in August to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception.

  "I thank everyone who contributed to the fruitful realization of my trip. My thoughts go to those who are ill and to all the benefactors of shrines. I also unite myself to all pilgrims who come to entrust their intentions to Mary, Mother of the Church and our Mother, asking each one to place themselves as her disciple. Entrusting you to Our Lady and to St. Bernadette, I extend my apostolic blessing to you, to everyone in the diocese and to all who work at shrines."
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 11, 2004 (VIS) - This morning the Holy Father received the Letters of Credence of the new ambassador of the Republic of Croatia, Emilio Marin.  Recalling his three trips to the country, the Pope said that on the last one, made in 2003, which was his 100th trip abroad, he was able to see the "signs of Christianity incarnate in the life of the people." 

  The Pope said that, taking advantage of their religious heritage, "Croatians will continue to build up their own history in the future and, strengthened by their spiritual identity, they will bring their experience to the people of Europe. For this reason, I hope that your efforts to become part of a united Europe bear fruit and I share the concern expressed by some that Croatia's delayed entrance into the European Union could harm the process of implementing the democratic reforms not only in your country, but also in the other nations of that part of the continent which are headed with fervent hope toward European integration."

  Referring to the ambassador's remarks about the "commitment of the Croatian people to promote dialogue, reconciliation and peace in the country and in the far broader society of Euro-Atlantic countries," John Paul II said: "It is also true that the country that you represent needs reconciliation and peace. I am also thinking of the ongoing problem of refugees and exiles, especially in Bosnia-Herzegovina, who hope to go home." He indicated that the recent agreement between Croatia and Serbia "is a positive and important contribution to ensure the full and reciprocal recognition of the rights of the Croatian minority in Serbia and Montenegro and of the Serbian minority in Croatia."

  The Pope emphasized that after the period of totalitarian regimes and the last war ended, the country is looking "for peaceful progress, patiently, generously and optimistically, while trying hard to create a better future for all of its citizens."

  "On various occasions," he concluded, "I have encouraged bishops not to spare any efforts to promote an evangelization that appreciates the valid elements of popular religiosity, and to cooperate actively with the State for the true good of Croatia society.  In this context, the agreements between the Holy See and Croatia are positive, even if they have not yet been put into effect."
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 13, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

- Hoshyar Zebari, minister of foreign affairs of Iraq.

- Archbishop Martin Vidovic, apostolic nuncio in Belarus.

- Archbishop Julian Barrio Barrio of Santiago de Compostela, Spain.

  On Saturday December 11, the Holy Father received in separate audiences:

- Cardinal Vinko Puljic of Vrhbosna, Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina.

- Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 13, 2004 (VIS) - On Thursday, December 16 at 11 a.m. in the Holy See Press Office, the Holy Father's Message for the World Day of Peace 2005 will be presented by Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino, Bishop Giampaolo Crepaldi and Msgr. Frank J. Dewane, respectively president and undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

  On Friday, December 17 at 11:30 a.m. in the Holy See Press Office, there will be the presentation of the "Good Samaritan Foundation," an initiative promoted by the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry. The foundation, whose purpose is to financially support needy sick people, especially AIDS patients, is based in the Vatican.  Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, Bishop Jose Luis Redrado Marchite, O.H., and Fr. Felice Ruffini, M.I., respectively president, secretary and undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry, and Dr. Raffaele Perrone, extraordinary commissary of the Lazzaro Spallanzani National Institute for Infectious Diseases, will participate in the press conference.
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 13, 2004 (VIS) - This morning John Paul II received the members of the Fraternity of the Sons and Daughters of the Cross, accompanied by Cardinal Andrzej Maria Deskur.

  After emphasizing that this gathering was of "singular value" because it takes place a few days after the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, the Holy Father recalled that the spirituality of the members of the institute was "filled with devotion and love for the Virgin Mother of God."

  "Love Our Lady," he continued, "to whom you have completely consecrated yourselves and be like her, faithful disciples of Christ. Serve the Church with enthusiasm, cultivating unity and full harmony with the pastors of the Christian communities to whom you offer your pastoral care. In this way, you will be effective witnesses of the One Who, from the Cross, entrusted all of us as children to His sweet Mother."

  The Pope concluded by asking Our Lady to continue to guide the steps of the Daughters and Sons of the Cross and to help them to become "ever more like Jesus Who, in a few days, we will contemplate as a child in the mystery of Christmas."
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 12, 2004 (VIS) - Pope John Paul, in Angelus reflections today, Gaudete Sunday, said that "as Christmas approaches, many places are setting up nativity scenes, such as here in St. Peter's Square. Large or small, simple or elaborate, the crib is a familiar and very expressive representation of Christmas. It is part of our culture and art, but above all it is a sign of faith in God, Who in Bethlehem came 'to live in our midst'."

   As he does traditionally on the third Sunday of Advent, the Pope blessed statues of Baby Jesus, brought to St. Peter's Square by children and young people, who will later place them in nativity scenes in their homes, schools and parishes. This year there are campaigns in several parts of Italy to eliminate, in schools or other public venues, traditional Christian symbols of Christmas.

  As he blessed the statues, John Paul noted they will be placed in nativity scenes "where we can already find Joseph and Mary, silent witnesses of a sublime mystery. With their look of love they invite us to be vigilant and to pray to receive the divine Saviour, who comes to bring the joy of Christmas to the world."

  After the Angelus, the Pope pointed out that the diocese of Rome today celebrates the day for building new churches in periphery. "In recent years 54 communities have been able to have a new church, but at least 20 more are waiting. I therefore encourage people to be generous so that everyone can have a place in which to grow in faith and in Christian life."

  He concluded his remarks by inviting everyone to join him Tuesday at 5:30 in St. Peter's Basilica when he will preside at a Mass for students of Rome's universities.
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