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Thursday, November 27, 2003


VATICAN CITY, NOV 27, 2003 (VIS) - The Pope wrote a message to bishops, friends of the Focolare Movement, who are participating in the twenty-second Ecumenical Congress which is taking place in Rocca di Papa, Italy. The meeting is not taking place in Istanbul, Turkey, due to the 'tragic events in recent days,' writes the Pope.

After recalling the congress' theme, 'You are one in Jesus Christ,' taken from St. Paul's Letter to the Galatians, John Paul II writes: 'It is a theme that is more current than ever: it can offer a valid response to the serious lesions that afflict today's world.'

He concludes by saying: 'May this congress strengthen you in your ecumenical commitment and speed up the process toward full unity which Jesus asked of the Father and for which He offered His life! You know well how important Christian unity is to me and that I have dedicated constant attention to it from the beginning of my pontificate.'

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VATICAN CITY, NOV 27, 2003 (VIS) - This morning the Holy Father received Georgi Parvanov, president of the Republic of Bulgaria. Recalling his apostolic trip in May of 2002, he said, 'I noted the firm goal of building up the country with new-found serenity and faith in the future, from within the great European house.'

'The cordial meeting with civil authorities of every order and rank convinced me of everyone's determination to continue courageously to peacefully build up the whole society, without being afraid of confronting the day to day challenges.'

John Paul II then spoke about the 'venerated patriarch Maxim, head of the Orthodox Church in Bulgaria, who, he recalled, 'during my visit welcomed me into his home with fraternal affection. It was a further step of progressive growth in ecclesial communion. In this way, I was able to verify that Europe expects the common commitment of Catholics and Orthodox in defense of human rights and the culture of life.'

'I saw the same sentiments of openness to dialogue and collaboration in the small but fervent Catholic community that is actively committed to bearing witness to Christ in Bulgaria in constant cooperation with other religious communities in the country. It is my fervent hope that this climate of understanding may grow for the sake of reciprocal understanding and the good of society.'

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VATICAN CITY, NOV 26, 2003 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed:

- Bishop Matias Patricio de Macedo, of Campina Grande, Brazil, metropolitan archbishop of Natal (area 25,153, population 2,520,300, Catholics 1,965,834, priests 100, permanent deacons 19, religious 247), Brazil. He succeeds Archbishop Heitor de Ara£jo Sales whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted upon having reached the age limit.

- Bishop Plinio Jose Luz da Silva, auxiliary of Fortaleza, Brazil, as bishop of Picos (area 23,121, population 325,086, Catholics 305,581, priests 21, religious 34), Brazil.

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VATICAN CITY, NOV 27, 2003 (VIS) - In reference to the Pope's meeting today with the Dalai Lama, Joaquin Navarro-Valls, director of the Holy See Press Office, made the following statement: 'It was a brief courtesy visit in which religious topics were discussed exclusively.'



VATICAN CITY, NOV 27, 2003 (VIS) - On November 26 in the Embassy of Argentina to the Holy See, Archbishop John P. Foley, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, was decorated with the Order of General San Martin. During the ceremony, the prelate gave a speech to express his gratitude.

Today, on the feast of Thanksgiving, the archbishop delivered the homily during a Mass at St. Susanna Church in Rome which is the North American parish in the capital city.

On Friday, November 28 the president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications will speak during a press conference on the presentation of the seventh edition of the Congress of Studies on Spiritual Film, organized by the Pontifical Council for Culture which will take place in the Vatican.

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VATICAN CITY, NOV 27, 2003 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

- Georgi Parvanov, president of the Republic of Bulgaria, accompanied by his wife and an entourage.

- Bishop Jean-Luc Bouilleret of Amiens, France on his 'ad limina' visit.

- Bishop Jean-Paul James of Beauvais, France on his 'ad limina' visit.

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