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Monday, December 6, 2004


VATICAN CITY, DEC 6, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

- Six prelates from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (Region VIII) on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Archbishop Harry Joseph Flynn of St. Paul and Minneapolis, with Auxiliary Bishop Richard Edmund Pates.

    - Bishop Paul Albert Zipfel of Bismarck.

    - Bishop Victor Herman Balke of Crookston.

    - Bishop Dennis Marion Schnurr of Duluth.

    - Bishop Samuel J. Aquila of Fargo.

- Birger Dan Nielsen, ambassador of Denmark, accompanied by his wife on their farewell visit.

  On Saturday December 4, the Holy Father received in separate audiences:

- Archbishop Luigi Gatti, apostolic nuncio in Lebanon.

- Archbishop Thomas E. Gullickson, apostolic nuncio in Trinidad, Tobago, Bahamas, Dominica, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and Grenadine.

- Three prelates from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (Region V) on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop Joseph Latino, with Bishop Emeritus William Russel Houck.

    - Msgr. David R. Choby of Nashville.

- Archbishop Francisco Javier Lozano, apostolic nuncio in Croatia.

- Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 6, 2004 (VIS) - Algirdas Saudargas, the new ambassador to the Holy See from Lithuania, presented his Letters of Credence today to Pope John Paul who, addressing the ambassador in his native tongue, recalled his 1993 visit to Lithuania, and said he prayed daily for Lithuanians "to whom I am linked by cultural and spiritual ties."

  "It is part of the mission of the Successor of Peter," said the Pope, "to sustain believers in every part of the world and, at the same time, to constantly remind them of those universal values on which it is possible to build a just and solidary society. Supported by the centuries-old conviction that the universal moral law is a sure path for civil coexistence, the Holy See never tires of defending the rights of peoples to present themselves on the stage of history with their own characteristics, in respect for the legitimate freedom of each one."

  Underscoring the Christian roots that have inspired Lithuanians for centuries, the Holy Father said he hoped that "the representatives of Lithuanian citizens, continuing to draw upon the noble legacy of human and Gospel ideals that mark Lithuania's history, will commit themselves with a sincere spirit to building a free society on solid ethical and moral foundations." He exhorted Catholics "to  collaborate with all persons of good will to see that Lithuanian society avoids being strongly influenced by the secular hedonistic model of life with its fallacious seductions."

  He said he hoped believers would "walk side by side with all those ... who promote the defense of the family and of life, from its conception to its natural end."

  In closing remarks, John Paul expressed pleasure that Lithuania has been inserted "into the assembly of Nations of a united Europe. ... May the continent know how to find the ways and means to build peace and prosperity in a climate of fruitful collaboration, respecting cultures and the legitimate rights of everyone and pursuing the objective of the good of the person and of all of Europe, from the Atlantic to the Urals."


 CONCEPTIONVATICAN CITY, DEC 5, 2004 (VIS) - Pope John Paul dedicated today's Angelus reflections entirely to the upcoming feast of the Immaculate Conception, as this year marks the 150th anniversary of the proclamation of this dogma by Pope Pius IX.

  "We prepare to celebrate with intimate joy," he said, "the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary which this year takes on special meaning. We will commemorate, in fact, the 150 years since the proclamation of this important Marian doctrine.

  "We will remember this anniversary on December 8 with a solemn Eucharistic celebration in St. Peter's Basilica where, in 1854 my venerated predecessor, Blessed Pius IX, proclaimed the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, together with many bishops from every part of the world. Thus we will honor 'Tota pulchra', she whom God chose as the Mother of His only begotten Son."

  The Holy Father closed by reminding everyone that in the afternoon, as he does every year, he will go to Rome's famed Piazza di Spagna for the traditional homage to Mary Immaculate. "I invite all of you, dear Romans and pilgrims, to join me in this act of filial veneration to our heavenly Mother."
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 4, 2004 (VIS) -  Today the Holy Father appointed Bishop James Liu Tankuei, auxiliary of Taipei, Taiwan, as bishop of Hsinchu (area 4,750, population 3,184,845, Catholics 52,923, priests 86, religious 217), Taiwan.  He accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese presented by Bishop Lucas Liu Hsien-tang upon having reached the age limit.
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 4, 2004 (VIS) - The council of the general secretariat of the Synod of Bishops for the Special Assembly for Asia celebrated its eighth meeting in the Vatican on November 18 and 19. Joining Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, the secretary general, were two cardinals and twelve archbishops and bishops.

  A communiqué made public today notes that the council members exchanged information and observations on the situation of the Church in the different political, social and civil sectors in the Asian nations, especially in terms of the acceptance and application of the Post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation "Ecclesia in Asia." 

  It also highlighted "the growth of the Catholic Church on the continent despite  conditions that are often difficult, especially the lack of religious freedom. Those present spoke about inter-religious dialogue and they pointed out that, despite difficulties caused mostly by radical groups, there are encouraging examples of collaboration between representatives of various religions in society and in promoting ethical and moral values as much as possible."

 The next meeting will be November 18-19, 2005.
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 4, 2004 (VIS) - This morning the Holy Father received participants in a conference of the Vatican's "Centesiumus Annus-Pro Pontifice" Foundation which has been reflecting on the recently-published Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church.

  After recalling that the foundation's objective is to combine concrete aid for the activities of the Pope and the Holy See and the transmission of the doctrine of the Church on major social issues, John Paul II said: "There is still much to do so that the rich contribution of Church doctrine may be a coherent criterion of wisdom and an inspiring and convincing force of the social action of Catholics."

  "For this reason it is very important," he continued, "to make the social doctrine of the Church known in a precise, clear and complete way in order to avoid that only one aspect or another is emphasized, according to one's sensitivity and preconceived ideas so that one ends up by losing the unitary consideration and using it in a manipulative fashion. In addition, it is necessary to educate people to use this doctrine as a stimulating point of reference for family, professional and civil responsibilities, assuming it as a shared criterion of personal and communitarian choices and activities in continuity with the beautiful witness ... of humble and great Christians who have passionately lived for the cause of man in light of the Gospel."

  The Pope underscored that the great questions that afflict humanity "in an ever-more 'global' and 'interdependent' context, must be confronted with a clear vision of man and his personal and social vocation on the common foundation of natural law."

  "The social doctrine of the Church," he concluded, "highlights the basic values of an ordered and solidary human coexistence with the light of the Revelation, freeing these values from obscurities and ambiguities. Lay Christians, open to the action of God's grace, are the lively instruments so that values effectively permeate history."
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 4, 2004 (VIS) - Completing their "ad limina" visit, 22 prelates from the ecclesiastical provinces of Louisville, Mobile and New Orleans in the United States were received today by Pope John Paul, who spoke to them about "some aspects of your relationship with the lay faithful."

  Quoting "Christifideles Laici," he said that "each bishop is called to acknowledge the 'essential and irreplaceable role of the laity in the Church's mission' and to enable them to carry out their proper apostolate. ... A clear pastoral priority" of each bishop is to help the lay faithful "in understanding and embracing the 'munus regale', the kingly office, they received by their baptism incorporation into Christ."

  "Lay men and women," said the Holy Father, "must be encouraged, through sound catechesis and continuing formation, to recognize the distinctive dignity and mission which they have received in Baptism and to embody in all their daily activities an integrated approach to life which finds its inspiration and strength from the Gospel. This means that the laity must be trained to distinguish clearly between their rights and duties as members of the Church and those which they have as members of human society, and encouraged to combine the two harmoniously, recognizing (as stated in "Lumen Gentium) that 'in every temporal affair they are to be guided by their Christian conscience, since there is no human activity - even of the temporal order - that can be withdrawn from God's dominion'."

  The Pope underscored that "a clear and authoritative reaffirmation of these fundamental principles of the lay apostolate will help to overcome the serious pastoral problems created by a growing failure to understand the Church's binding obligation to remind the faithful of their duty in conscience to act in accordance with her authoritative teaching. There is urgent need for a comprehensive catechesis on the lay apostolate which will necessarily highlight the importance of a properly formed conscience, the intrinsic relationship between freedom and moral truth, and the grave duty incumbent upon each Christian to work to renew and perfect the temporal order in accordance with the values of God's Kingdom. While fully respecting the legitimate separation of Church and State in American life, such a catechesis must also make clear that for the faithful Christian there can be no separation between the faith which is to be believed and put into practice and a commitment to full and responsible participation in professional, political and cultural life."

  He encouraged the bishops "to foster among the laity a shared sense of responsibility for the life and mission of the Church" which, when "rooted in the principles of a sound ecclesiology," will ensure genuine collaboration "without the danger of distorting this relationship by the uncritical importation of categories and structures drawn from secular life."

   John Paul II closed with special words of appreciation and gratitude for young people, married couples and "the countless men and women who strive each day to bring the light of the Gospel to their homes, workplaces and to the whole of society."
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