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The Vatican Information Service is a news service, founded in the Holy See Press Office, that provides information about the Magisterium and the pastoral activities of the Holy Father and the Roman Curia...[]

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Monday, September 13, 2004


VATICAN CITY, SEP 13, 2004 (VIS) - Today the Holy Father received in separate audiences:

- Seven prelates from the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Cardinal Thomas Stafford Williams, archbishop of Wellington, accompanied by Coadjutor Bishop John Atcherley Dew.

    - Bishop Patrick James Dunn of Auckland.

    - Bishop John Jerome Cunneen of Christchurch.

    - Bishop Colin David Campbell of Dunedin.

    - Bishop Denis George Browne of Hamilton in New Zealand.

    - Bishop Peter James Cullinane of Palmerston North.

- Professor Aurelian Bondrea, rector of Spiru Haret University in Bucharest, Romania.

- Archbishop Stanislaw Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for Laity, with Bishop Josef Clemens, secretary of the same council.

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

- Five prelates from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Archbishop Stefan Soroka of Philadelphia of the Ukrainians, accompanied by Bishop Wolodymyr Walter Paska, auxiliary emeritus.

    - Bishop John M. Kudrick of Parma of the Ruthenians.

    - Bishop Andrew Pataki of Passaic of the Ruthenians.

    - Archbishop Basil Myron Schott of Pittsburgh of the Byzantines.

- Cardinal Camillo Ruini, vicar general for the diocese of Rome and president of the Italian Episcopal Conference.
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VATICAN CITY, SEP 13, 2004 (VIS) - Pope John Paul II sent the following telegram to the Holy Synod of the Greek orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria and all Africa upon the death of Patriarch Petros VII of Alexandria in a plane crash:

  "I was deeply saddened to learn of the tragic death of His Beatitude Petros VII, patriarch of the illustrious See of Alexandria, whom the Lord has called to Himself together with Their Excellencies Metropolitans Irinaios of Pelusium and Chrysostomos of Karthagena, Bishop Nektarios of Madagascar, the patriarchal vicars of Athens and Cyprus, and several associates and family members. The tragic death of Patriarch Petros VII during a journey to the Holy Mountain is a source of great sorrow and grief for the Orthodox sister Churches of the Patriarchate of Alexandria, for the Bishop of Rome and in the Catholic Church and for all those who esteemed the late patriarch's ministry to the Church in Africa and his commitment to Christian unity. I myself recall with gratitude our fraternal exchanges of letters, our spiritual closeness, the participation of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria in significant events like the 'World Day of Prayer for World Peace' in Assisi in 2002, and his constructive contribution to theological dialogue in the Orthodox Churches as a whole and with the international mixed commission. I pray that the Lord will grant 'grace upon grace' to His faithful servant and will welcome him and his earthly traveling companions into the eternal light and peace reserved for God's righteous ones. At the same time I beseech the spirit of wisdom to guide and sustain the Patriarchate of Alexandria at this time of sadness."


VATICAN CITY, SEP 13, 2004 (VIS) - The bishops of New Zealand concluded their "ad limina" visit today with an audience at Castelgandolfo with the Holy Father who told them that their visit "from an island nation so distant ... 'safeguards legitimate differences and yet is vigilant to ensure that particularity not only does not harm unity but serves it'."

   He said that "New Zealand enjoys a proud heritage, steeped in rich cultural diversity, yet like many other countries is today suffering the effects of unrestrained secularism. ... Your own reports indeed unequivocally indicate the pressing need for Christ's liberating message in a society experiencing the tragic consequences of the eclipse of the sense of God: the drift away from the Church; the undermining of family life; the facilitation of abortion and prostitution; a misguided vision of life which seeks pleasure and 'success' rather than goodness and wisdom."

  "Faced with such disquieting developments," the Pope affirmed, "New Zealanders look to you to be men of hope, preaching and teaching with passion the splendor of Christ's truth which dispels the darkness and illuminates the true path of life."

  He said that all the faithful "are called to share in your witness," especially "through joyful participation in worship." However, said the Pope, "the weakening in Sunday Mass observance, of which each of you has spoken with profound concern, dims the light of witness to Christ's presence in your country. When Sunday becomes subordinate to a popular concept of 'weekend' and is unduly dominated by entertainment and sport, rather than being truly sanctified and revitalized, people remain trapped in a relentless and often meaningless pursuit of novelty and fail to experience the freshness of Christ's 'living water'

  "From her sacred liturgy," continued the Holy Father, "the Church draws strength and inspiration for her mission to evangelize. … It is a duty that no single believer can ignore.  Sent by the Lord himself into the vineyard - the home, schools, the workplace, civic organizations - Christ's disciples find no time for 'standing idle in the marketplace' nor can they be so absorbed by the internal aspects of parish life that they are distracted from the command to evangelize others actively."

  Remarking that the bishops' "pastoral letters are a fine example of the way in which you earnestly seek to present the truth of Christ in the public arena," he encouraged them "to continue to ensure that your statements clearly convey the whole of the Church's magisterial teaching," especially in "defending the sanctity and uniqueness of marriage. ... The institution of marriage necessarily entails the complementarity of husbands and wives who participate in God's creative activity through the bearing and raising of children. ... Any attempt to equate marriage with other forms of cohabitation violates its unique role in God's plan for humanity."

  John Paul II acknowledged "the outstanding contribution of your Catholic schools" saying "they must be active agents of evangelization at the heart of parish life!" He noted that "catechesis and religious education today is a taxing apostolate" and asked the prelates "to ensure that your tertiary education chaplaincies are vibrant sources of sound catechesis."
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VATICAN CITY, SEP 12, 2004 (VIS) - Addressing the pilgrims who had come to Castelgandolfo to pray the Angelus with him, Pope John Paul, in remarks made before the Marian prayer, noted that "according to an ancient tradition, today is the feast of the name of Mary."  He said that her name is "indissolubly linked that that of Jesus" and it "was to her that the dying Jesus entrusted everyone as children."

  "May Mary watch over mankind in this hour marked by shocking explosions of violence," said the Pope. "May she especially watch over the new generations who are so anxious to build a future of hope for everyone. I felt this great hope for a world of justice and peace in the children, young people and adults of Italian Catholic Action whom I met last Sunday in Loreto on the occasion of their national pilgrimage."

  "As I think of their witness, I wish here to recall the three instructions I entrusted to Catholic Action in Loreto: 'contemplation' to walk on the path of holiness; 'communion' to promote the spirituality of unity; and 'mission' to be evangelical leaven in every place. May Our Lady help Catholic Action to enthusiastically pursue their commitment to apostolic witness, always working in close contact with the hierarchy, and participating in a responsible way for parish and diocesan action."
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VATICAN CITY, SEP 11, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed:

 - Bishop Rogelio Cabrera Lopez of Tapachula, Mexico, as bishop of Tuxtla Gutierrez (area 22,629, population 1,197,500, Catholics 924,000, priests 110, religious 255), Mexico.

- Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, as his special envoy for the closing ceremonies of the 10th centenary of the martyrdom of St. Benito of Benevento and his companions, evangelizers of Poland, which will take place in Benevento, Italy on September 13-14, 2004.
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VATICAN CITY, SEP 11, 2004 (VIS) - This evening Cardinal Paul Poupard, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, participated in the Second Day of Interdependence, organized by the city of Rome in Capitoline Square. The theme of the event was "In Memory of September 11 - Dialogue for Peace."

  Cardinal Poupard said that he was "deeply moved" to participate in an event that "brings us together in the name of dialogue for peace … in memory of September 11, a date that tragically marked our memory and continues to mark our memory and our common history."

  "September 11," he said, "represents the beginning of a new phase of cruelty and lack of humanity, characterized by the killing of innocent people. We were all horrified by the images of the children in Beslan. … It seems that humanity has regressed by centuries or millennia in recent months and days."

  After recalling the kidnapping of two young Italian volunteers in Baghdad, which "like that of so many other civilians, has no justification," he said: "We cannot accept this regression of humanity on the part of these cruel and heartless people, for whom men and women do not exist but are only objects to use and to kill without any respect for the sacred nature of human life. We cannot become accustomed to this way of living, to this loss of the meaning of human life, of its sacredness and intangible nature."

  "This evening," he concluded, "we want to reaffirm that cooperation among peoples, religions and cultures is not just a secondary decision but a pressing urgency, a true necessity: we are all called to work together as a human family to achieve world peace."
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VATICAN CITY, SEP 11, 2004 (VIS) - Holy See Press Office Director Joaquin Navarro-Valls made the following statement today:

  "The Holy See has learned that in August some Catholic priests and faithful were arrested in China.

  "1. During the first week of August, Fr. Paul Huo Junlong, vicar general of the diocese of Baoding, province of Hebei, was arrested by the police, along with seven other priests and two seminarians. Frs. Paul An Jianzhao and John the Baptist Zhang Zhenquan were sentenced to a period of rehabilitation through forced labor. The others are still being held in Quyang, Baoding, with the exception of three who do not belong to the same diocese. According to information which arrived on September 6, 23 members of the clergy of the diocese of Baoding have been detained or denied their freedom. Among them were Bishop James Su Zhimin and Auxiliary Bishop Francis An Shuxin, who disappeared, respectively, in September of 1997 and March of 1996 and are being held without trial in a secret place.

  "2. The diocesan administrator of the archdiocese of Fuzhou was subsequently arrested along with two other priests and one seminarian. There are no indications that they have been freed.

  "3. The Holy See does not know the motives for such repressive measures. If this news is true, it would once again be a grave violation of freedom of religion which is a fundamental right of man.

  "The Holy See calls for this right to be respected, a right that is ratified by the universal Human Rights Declaration, and it trusts that the above-mentioned people will be freed as soon as possible, in accord with justice, freedom and their pastoral commitment in the service of their respective communities.

  "4.  In addition, we received news that at the end of August, Bishop John Gao Kexian of Yantai, province of Shandong, died in prison at age 76. The prelate's body was handed over by the police to his family members. Bishop Gao had been in prison since the late 1990's and there has been  no news about him for some time."


VATICAN CITY, SEP 11, 2004 (VIS) - Made public today was a message from the Holy Father to Bishop Lucio Soravito de Franceschi from Adria-Rovigo, Italy, on the occasion of the 17th International Meeting on Mariology which is taking place in Rovigo September 10 to 12.

  The meeting, promoted by the Congregation of the Reparation Servants of Mary commemorates the 50 anniversary of the coronation of the image of Our Lady of Sorrows in Rovigo. "The theme, 'Our Lady's gaze on the modern world,' invites us to consider the happy and distressing events of our age through the Virgin's eyes," writes the Pope in the message dated September 8, feast of the Nativity of Our Lady.
  "Mary, with a heart pierced by a sword of sorrow," says John Paul II, "encourages us to liven our faith in the One Who saved us, shedding His precious blood for all of mankind. … Her maternal love inspires us to open our hearts to the suffering of others, especially those who are searching for valid answers to the profound questions of life."
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VATICAN CITY, SEP 11, 2004 (VIS) - Thirty-three bishops from the ecclesiastical region of Pennsylvania and New Jersey in the United States, including eight from Eastern Churches, were welcomed by the Pope today at Castelgandolfo on the occasion of  their quinquennial visit to the Vatican.

  "Cardinal Justin Rigali," said the Holy Father,  naming the archbishop of Philadelphia, "has mentioned that today marks the third anniversary of the terrorist attacks in the United States. I assure you of my closeness to the American people and I join you in praying for an end to the scourge of terrorism and the growth of the civilization of love."
  "Our thoughts today," he continued, "are centered on the bishop's exercise of sacred power, which must always be rooted in the moral authority of a life shaped by his sharing in Christ's consecration and mission. This demands of us a pastoral style inspired by the example of Christ, the Good Shepherd, and aimed at fostering holiness, communion and mission in the ecclesial community."

   "As the Church's constant Tradition attests, this apostolic authority is a form of service to the Body of Christ," the Pope noted. "History amply demonstrates that the firm and sage exercise of this apostolic authority, particularly in moments of crisis, has enabled the Church to preserve her integrity, independence and fidelity to the Gospel in the face of threats from within and without."

  He affirmed that "the bishop is above all a witness, a teacher and model of holiness, as well as a prudent administrator of the Church's goods. The sacred power which he legitimately exercises should be rooted in the moral authority of a life completely shaped by his sacramental sharing in Christ's consecration and mission." He added that "bishops need to be esteemed as successors of the Apostles not only in authority and sacred power, but above all by their apostolic life and witness."

  "In our meetings," said John Paul II, "many of you have expressed your concern about the crisis of confidence in the Church's leadership provoked by the recent sexual abuse scandals, the general call for accountability in the Church's governance on every level and the relations between bishops, clergy and the lay faithful. I am convinced that today, as at every critical moment in her history, the Church will find the resources for an authentic self-renewal in the wisdom, vision and zeal of Bishops outstanding for their holiness."

  He spoke of "the need today for each bishop to develop 'a pastoral style which is ever more open to collaboration with all'." He added that "a sound ecclesiology of communion ... should not be misunderstood as a concession to a secular 'democratic' model of governance, but as an intrinsic requirement of the exercise of episcopal authority and a necessary means of strengthening that authority."

  "Every act of ecclesiastical governance, consequently, must be aimed at fostering communion and mission. ...The three 'munera' of teaching, sanctifying and ruling are clearly inseparable and interpenetrating. ... Experience shows that when priority is mainly given to outward stability, the impetus to personal conversion, ecclesial renewal and missionary zeal can be lost and a false sense of security can ensue. The painful period of self-examination provoked by the events of the past two years will bear spiritual fruit only if it leads the whole Catholic community in America to a deeper understanding of the Church's authentic nature and mission, and a more intense commitment to making the Church in your country reflect, in every aspect of her life, the light of Christ's grace and truth."
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