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Wednesday, September 10, 2003


VATICAN CITY, SEP 10, 2003 (VIS) - The Holy Father received today in audience Archbishop Francisco Javier Lozano, apostolic nuncio in Croatia.

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VATICAN CITY, SEP 10, 2003 (VIS) - This morning the Pope came from Castelgandolfo by car to the Vatican where at 10:30 a.m. the general audience took place in St. Peter's Square. The theme of this Wednesday's catechesis was the Canticle of Ezekiel, "God will renew His people."

Commenting on this hymn, John Paul II said that the prophet Ezekiel "was a witness of one of the most tragic periods experienced by the Jewish people: the collapse of the reign of Judah and the capital Jerusalem, followed by the bitter event of the Babylonian exile."

"The context of this page," he said, "transformed into a hymn from the liturgy, demonstrates the profound meaning of the tragedy which the people underwent in those years. ... But God is not indifferent to good and evil; He enters mysteriously on the scene of humanity's history with His judgement which, sooner or later, discovers evil, defends victims and indicates the path of justice."

The Holy Father indicated that "the aim of God's action is never ruin, pure and simple condemnation, destruction of the sinner. ... In fact, humanity is destined to be born into a new life. ... Our 'heart of stone', cold and insensitive, a sign of the obstinacy of evil, will be torn from our chest. God will give us instead a 'heart of flesh', font of life and love. In this way," he concluded, "a 'new life' will emerge ... of new creatures, transformed by the Spirit of the Risen Christ."

After greeting pilgrims in different languages at the end of the audience the Pope noted that tomorrow he begins "with great hope" his third apostolic trip to Slovakia, "a land enriched by the testimony of the heroic disciples of Christ who left eloquent footprints of sanctity in the history of the Nation. I invite you to join me in prayer. I entrust this apostolic trip to the Mother of the Redeemer, so venerated in Slovakia. May she guide my steps and obtain for the Slovakian people a renewed springtime of faith and civil progress."

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