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Thursday, December 30, 2004


VATICAN CITY, DEC 30, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Bishop Freddy Jesus Fuenmayor Suarez of Cabimas, Venezuela, as bishop of Los Teques (area 2,295, population 1,261,000, Catholics 1,061,000, priests 61, permanent deacons 15, religious 245), Venezuela.  He succeeds Bishop Ramon Ovidio Perez Morales whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese was accepted in accordance with Canon 401, para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law.
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 30, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience Fr. Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, superior general of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits).
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 30, 2004 (VIS) - The Catholic Bishops Conference in Sri Lanka published a communiqué today in which the prelates express their "sincere condolences" to those affected by the tsunami that devastated South East Asia on December 26.

  The bishops assured the people of their prayers "for all those bereaved by the loss of loved ones, like parents and children, and to those who have suffered from injuries or loss of property." The communiqué continues: "We are however consoled by the Holy Scriptures (Psalm 145-146) that we are not abandoned to ourselves and that the vicissitudes of our day are not dominated by chaos or fate and so we call on our people to take courage and face the situation bravely. We ask all our people, and Catholics in particular to help those affected regardless of differences in ethnicity or religion."

  In the declaration, dated December 27, the president and secretary general of the episcopal conference, respectively Bishops Joseph Vianney Fernando and Marius Peirus appeal "to all the people in the affected areas to be calm and law-abiding, and to those inclined to prey on others, to restrain themselves and not seek to profit from the misfortunes of others." They also ask those who were not affected by the disaster "to provide material or financial help as well as psychological support to all those who are victims." They urge Catholic associations "to gather in prayer to ask the Lord to give our people the courage and determination to tide-over calamity."

  "This grave moment calls us together to rally round ... those who have been affected by this terrible natural disaster."

Wednesday, December 29, 2004


VATICAN CITY, DEC 29, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

- Appointed Bishop Jose Horacio Gomez, auxiliary of Denver, U.S.A., as metropolitan archbishop of the archdiocese of San Antonio (area 60,013, population 1,959,950, Catholics 644,357, priests 351, permanent deacons 312, religious 1090), U.S.A. The archbishop-elect was born in Monterrey, Mexico in 1951 and was ordained a priest in 1978. He succeeds Archbishop Patrick F. Flores whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese was accepted upon having reached the age limit.

- Erected the new ecclesiastical province of Galveston-Houston, U.S.A., elevating the see to metropolitan archdiocese and making the following dioceses suffragans: Austin, Beaumont, Brownsville, Corpus Christi, Tyler and Victoria in Texas, formerly part of the ecclesiastical province of San Antonio, U.S.A.

- Appointed Bishop Joseph Anthony Fiorenza of Galveston-Houston, U.S.A., as first metropolitan archbishop of the same archdiocese (area 23,257, population 4,704,532, Catholics 1,006,425, priests 438, permanent deacons 250, religious 726).

- Elevated Bishop Daniel Nicholas Dinardo, coadjutor of Galveston-Houston, U.S.A., to the dignity of archbishop.

- Erected the diocese of Castanhal, Brazil, with territory taken from the archdiocese of Belem do Para, Brazil and the diocese of Braganca do Para, making it a suffragan of the metropolitan Church of Belem do Para.

- Appointed Bishop Carlos Verzeletti, auxiliary of Belem do Para, Brazil, as first bishop of the diocese of Castanhal (area 14,338, population 688,306, Catholics 405,000, priests 40, religious 136), Brazil.

- Appointed Bishop Jerome E. Listecki, auxiliary of the archdiocese of Chicago, U.S.A., as bishop of La Crosse (area 39,037, population 848,455, Catholics 203,341, priests 212, permanent deacons 25, religious 508), U.S.A.

- Appointed Bishop Pedro Jose Conti of Santissima Conceicao do Araguaia, Brazil, as bishop of Macapa (area 148,000, population 339,000, Catholics 279,000, priests 33, permanent deacons 13,  religious 62), Brazil.

- Appointed Bishop Robert James Carlson of Sioux Falls, U.S.A., as bishop of the diocese of Saginaw (area 18,006, population 724,142, Catholics 139,824, priests 114, permanent deacons 14, religious 138), U.S.A.
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 29, 2004 (VIS) - At the end of today's audience, John Paul II remembered the victims of the earthquake that struck Southeast Asia on December 26  and called for solidarity with the people affected by the disaster.

  "The news coming from Asia," he said, "shows us ever more the extent of the catastrophe which particularly struck India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Thailand."

  "The international community and many humanitarian organizations," he continued, "have come together quickly to lend help.  Numerous charitable institutions of the Church are doing the same.  In the Christmas spirit of these days, I invite all believers of good will to generously contribute to this great work of solidarity with the peoples, subject to such a harsh trial and exposed to the danger of disease.  I am by their side through my prayer and affection, especially those who are injured and homeless, while I entrust the innumerable victims who lost their life to the divine mercy."
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 29, 2004 (VIS) - In the last general audience of this year, celebrated in the Paul VI Hall, the Holy Father spoke about contemplating the birth of Jesus in the manger.

  Before a crowd of 6,500 people, John Paul II said that "on that holy night, God spoke his definitive Word of salvation to humanity in every age and place. ... The liturgy in this period is a meditation on the mystery of the Incarnation."

  "Let us linger before the nativity scene! In this traditional representation of the nativity 'the Eternal and Omnipotent Creator' speaks to us through His Son, Lord of the universe, who became a child living among us.  Mary, his mother, is the first to receive Him and present Him to the world.  Near her, we see St. Joseph, called to act as the father and guardian of our Redeemer."

  The Pope said that the scene is completed by the angels who "proclaim glory to God and peace to mankind, and the shepherds, who represent the humble and poor.  The Magi will soon arrive from afar to adore the King of the universe."

  "The liturgy of Christmastime invites us to go joyfully to the manger in Bethlehem to meet Jesus, our Savior.  Come all ye faithful! Come and let us adore Jesus the Lord!  Let us open the doors of our hearts so that He may accompany us now and during the new year which is about to begin."

  Throughout the 26 years of his pontificate, John Paul II has met with 17.5 million people in 1,160 general audiences.  In 2004, more than 2,200,000 faithful participated in public gatherings with the Holy Father.
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Tuesday, December 28, 2004


VATICAN CITY, DEC 25, 2004 (VIS) - In his traditional Christmas Message, which he read at midday today in St. Peter's Square, the Pope called for an end to all forms of violence and encouraged dialogue and reconciliation.

John Paul II said, "Let there be an end to the spread of violence in its many forms, the source of untold suffering; let there be an end to the numerous situations of unrest which risk degenerating into open conflict; let there arise a firm will to seek peaceful solutions, respectful of the legitimate aspirations of individuals and peoples."

"Babe of Bethlehem, Prophet of peace, encourage attempts to promote dialogue and reconciliation, sustain the efforts to build peace, which hesitantly, yet not without hope, are being made to bring about a more tranquil present and future for so many of our brothers and sisters in the world."

Referring to the continent of Africa, the Holy Father recalled the "tragedy of Darfur in Sudan, of the Ivory Coast and of the Great Lakes Region. With great apprehension I follow the situation in Iraq. And how can I fail to look with anxious concern, but also invincible confidence, towards that Land of which you are a son?"

"Everywhere peace is needed!" the Pope exclaimed. "You, Prince of true peace, help us to understand that the only way to build peace is to flee in horror from evil, and to pursue goodness with courage and perseverance. Men and women of good will, of every people on the earth, come confidently to the crib of the Savior! 'He who bestows the Kingdom of heaven does not take away human kingdoms'. Hasten to meet him; he comes to teach us the way of truth, peace and love."

After reading the message, the Pope, making a notable effort, wished the faithful present in St. Peter's Square and people all over the world tuned in via radio or television in 62 languages. Later he imparted the "Urbi et Orbi" (to the city and the world) blessing.
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 28, 2004 (VIS) - This afternoon, the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum" published a communique stating that the Holy Father "has approved a first installment of aid to the populations of the countries struck by the earthquake and tsunami that violently hit Southeast Asia as well as some parts of Africa."  Following is the rest of communique:
  "On behalf of the Holy Father, the dicastery has sent emergency aid to Sri Lanka, India, Thailand, Indonesia and Somalia through the respective pontifical representatives.

  "In the Church, as in other parts of the world, a unanimous chorus of fraternal solidarity has risen up with concrete responses to the appeals made by the afflicted populations: the Italian Episcopal Conference has donated 3,000,000 Euro, the Caritas network has already collected the sum of more than 2,000,000 USD.  Some branches of Caritas (Austria, Netherlands, United States) have already sent experts to the region to help the various national branches of Caritas.  In addition, the Jesuit Refugee Services is helping local Churches.

  "Cor Unum, which in the Pope's name is closely following the evolution of events and the work of different Church organizations, appeals to the faithful to generously support, individually and collectively, the efforts of the respective local Churches and charitable organizations so that a rehabilitation program for the people, so harshly affected by this devastating calamity, can start up.

  "Those who would like to contribute to the Holy Father's efforts with a gesture of solidarity toward our unfortunate Asian brothers and sisters can do so by making a donation to bank account n. 603035, made out to the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, 00120, Vatican City, indicating that it is for the 'Asian emergency'."
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 26, 2004 (VIS) - After praying the Angelus, John Paul II made an appeal for aid to the populations of Southeast Asia, struck by tsunamis early this morning.

  "The Christmas holiday has been saddened by the news that comes from Southeast Asia about the powerful tsunamis which struck Indonesia, with consequences in other countries, including Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia and the Maldives."

  "Let us pray for the victims of this tremendous tragedy.  We assure those who are suffering of our solidarity, and we hope that the international community acts to bring relief to the stricken populations," concluded the Pope.
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 26, 2004 (VIS) - John Paul II reflected on the feast of the Holy Family, celebrated today, before praying the Angelus with thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square.

  "The Son of God," he explained, "prepares himself to fulfill his mission as redeemer, living and working hard in the holy house in Nazareth.  In this way, He, united to every man through the Incarnation, sanctified the human family."

  "May the Holy Family, who had to overcome many painful trials, watch over all the families in the world, especially those who are experiencing difficult situations," he said.  "May the Holy Family also help men and women of culture and political leaders so that they may defend the institution of the family, based on marriage, and so that they may sustain the family as it confronts the grave challenges of the modern age!"

  "During this Year of the Eucharist," he concluded, "may Christian families find the light and strength to be united and to grow as the 'domestic church' especially in their diligent participation in the celebration of the Eucharist on Sunday."
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 25, 2004 (VIS) - At midnight the Holy Father celebrated Mass in the Vatican Basilica for the Solemnity of the Birth of Our  Lord.  Thirty cardinals concelebrated with the Pope. During the Gloria, children from Peru, Guatemala, Poland, Italy, Korea, Australia and the Democratic Republic of Congo laid flowers before the image of the Child Jesus.

  In this year specially dedicated to the Eucharist, John Paul II spoke about the link between the birth of Jesus and the Eucharist in his homily. 

  The Pope said that in "the Son of the Virgin, 'wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger,' we acknowledge and adore 'the Bread which came down from heaven,' the Redeemer who came among us in order to bring life to the world."

  After recalling that Bethlehem means "house of bread" in Hebrew, the Holy Father indicated that it was there that the "One, who under the sign of broken bread, would leave us the memorial of his Pasch. On this Holy Night, adoration of the Child Jesus becomes Eucharistic adoration."

  "We adore you, Lord, truly present in the Sacrament of the Altar, the living Bread which gives life to humanity.  We acknowledge you as our one God, a little Child lying helpless in the manger!  In the fullness of time, you became a man among men, to unite the end to the beginning , that is, man to God."

  "You are born on this Night, our divine Redeemer, and, in our journey along the paths of time, you become for us the food of eternal life," he said. "All humanity, with its burden of trials and troubles, stands in need of you."  The Holy Father concluded by saying, "Stay with us, living Bread which came down from heaven for our salvation! Stay with us forever!"

  Included in the prayers of the faithful were petitions for leaders of nations and heads of international organizations so that they may do all they can to establish peace.  The faithful also prayed that the Holy Land may live "times of prosperity and peaceful coexistence in mutual respect of its inhabitants" and with respect for human life, street children, the sick and those marginalized in society.
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Thursday, December 23, 2004


VATICAN CITY, DEC 23, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

- Appointed Msgr. Mario Ceccobelli, vicar general of the archdiocese of Perugia-Citta della Pieve, Italy, as bishop of Gubbio (area 900, population 48,000, Catholics 47,200, priests 51, permanent deacons 7, religious 107).  The bishop-elect was born in Marsciano, Italy in 1941 and was ordained a priest in 1966.  He succeeds Bishop Pietro Bottaccioli whose resignation was accepted upon having reached the age limit.

- Appointed Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry, as his special envoy for the celebrations of the 13th World Day of the Sick which will take place in Yaounde, Cameroon on February 9-11, 2005.
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 23, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

- His Beatitude Cardinal Ignace Moussa I Daoud, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches.

- Hansrudolf Hoffmann, ambassador of Switzerland on his farewell visit.
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Wednesday, December 22, 2004


VATICAN CITY, DEC 22, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Fr. Sebastiao Bandeira Coelho, rector of the major seminary of the diocese of Balsas, as auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese of Manaus (area 64,079, population 1,405,835, Catholics 1,200,000, priests 122, religious 266), Brazil.  The bishop-elect was born in Riacao, Brazil in 1959 and was ordained a priest in 1984.
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 22, 2004 (VIS) -  In today's general audience, celebrated in the Paul VI Hall, the Holy Father spoke about the mystery of Christmas.

  John Paul II said that "during these days of preparation for Christmas we pray continually in the liturgy 'Come Lord Jesus'."

  "On Christmas," he continued, "we contemplate the great mystery of God becoming man in the Virgin's womb.  He is born in Bethlehem to share our fragile human condition! He comes among us and brings salvation to the whole world.  His mission will be to reunite all human beings and peoples in the one family of the children of God.  We can say that in the mystery of Christmas, we contemplate the 'leap forward' in the history of salvation."

  The Pope emphasized that "in Christ we are offered the gift of a new and fuller communion with Him.  Hope springs up in our hearts, and the gates of heaven are opened for us."

  The Holy Father concluded by expressing his desire that "the celebration of Christmas may be a propitious occasion to truly live the value and meaning of the great event of Jesus' birth."
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Tuesday, December 21, 2004


VATICAN CITY, DEC 21, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

- Appointed Fr. Maurice Gardes, episcopal vicar and archdeacon of Roannais, France, as archbishop of Auch (area 6,261, population 172,335, Catholics 152,500, priests 107, permanent deacons 7, religious 187), France. The archbishop-elect was born in 1945 in Lyon, France and was ordained a priest in 1975. He succeeds Archbishop Maurice Frechard whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese was accepted upon having reached the age limit.

- Appointed Bishop Manuel da Rocha Felicio, auxiliary of Lisbon, Portugal, as coadjutor bishop of Guarda (area 6,758, population 265,000, Catholics 250,000, priests 186, religious 50), Portugal.

- Appointed Msgr. Antonio Francisco dos Santos, pro-vicar general of the diocese of Lamego, Portugal, as auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese of Braga, Portugal. The bishop-elect was born in 1948 in Tendasi, Portugal and was ordained a priest in 1972.
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 21, 2004 (VIS) - This morning at 11 in the Clementine Hall, the Holy Father welcomed the cardinals, archbishops, bishops and all who head the various offices of the Roman Curia for the annual exchange of Christmas greetings. Following a speech by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, dean of the College of Cardinals, the Pope addressed everyone present.

  He thanked his collaborators in the Curia for their "presence and the affection you show me. The passing of time makes one feel even more the need for God's help and the help of people. Thank you for the constant 'syntony' with which you work with me to serve the Universal Church."

  "The Divine Child whom we will worship in the nativity scene is Emmanuel, the God with us Who is really present in the Sacrament of the Altar. ... We are speechless before such a great gift and mystery. .... From the Son of God made man, 'Lumen Gentium', the Church has received the high mission of being 'the sign and the instrument of intimate communion with God and of the unity of all of mankind'. We become always more aware that communion with God and unity among all men, starting with believers, is our priority commitment."

  The Holy Father stated that "the celebration of the Year of the Eucharist aims at, among other things, making us thirst even more for unity, drawing upon the one and unending source; Christ Himself."

  John Paul II remarked that "the ecumenical efforts at various levels are being intensified, thanks to constant contacts, encounters and initiatives," such as "the visit of the ecumenical delegation from Finland and above all that of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I" last June and again, "less than a month ago, for the handing over of the relics of Saints Gregory Nazianzus and John Chrysostom." He said he hoped that the return of the icon of the Mother of God of Kazan in Russia will contribute to accelerating the unity of all of Christ's disciples."

  The Pope said he "reads this desire for unity on the faces of pilgrims of every age," and especially young people.

  The responsibility of believers to achieve unity is great, he exclaimed, adding that he "never failed to encourage European Catholics to remain faithful to Christ. In fact, it is in the heart that these Christian roots of Europe are nourished, roots on which depend, in no small way, the just and solidary future of the continent and of the entire world."

  The Pope concluded his Christmas greetings to the Curia by repeating the theme of his Message for the January 1 World Day of Peace: "Do not let yourself be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."
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Monday, December 20, 2004


VATICAN CITY, DEC 20, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Archbishop Thomas E. Gullickson, apostolic nuncio in Trinidad and Tobago, Bahamas, Dominica, Sts. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and Grenadine, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Jamaica, Guyana, Suriname and apostolic delegate in the Antilles, as apostolic nuncio in Grenada.

  It was made public on Saturday, December 18 that the Holy Father:

- Appointed Archbishop Salvatore Nunnari of Sant'Angelo dei Lombardi-Conza-Nusco-Bisaccia, Italy, as metropolitan archbishop of Cosenza-Bisignano (area 2,537, population 382,000, Catholics 374,000, priests 254, permanent deacons 26, religious 703), Italy. He succeeds Archbishop Giuseppe Agostino whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese was accepted upon having reached the age limit.

- Erected the diocese of Alindao (area 18,457, population 160,000, Catholics 38,000, priests 15, religious 12), Central African Republic, with territory take from the diocese of Bangassou, making it a suffragan of the metropolitan see of Bangui.

- Appointed Fr. Peter Marzinkowski, C.S.Sp., provincial superior of Germany, as bishop of Alindao, Central African Republic. The bishop-elect was born in 1939 in Leipzig, Poland and was ordained a priest in 1966.

- Appointed Msgr. Luigi Ernesto Palletti, chancellor general of the archdiocese of Genoa, Italy as auxiliary bishop of the same archdiocese (area 966, population 726,093, Catholics 690,133, priests 582, permanent deacons 23, religious 1,917). The bishop-elect was born in 1956 in Genoa and was ordained a priest in 1983.

- Appointed Archbishop Ambrose B. De Paoli, apostolic nuncio in Japan, as apostolic nuncio in Australia.

- Appointed Archbishop Luis Robles Diaz, vice president of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, as a member of the Congregation for Bishops.

- Appointed Cardinal Josip Bozanic, archbishop of Zagreb, Croatia, as his special envoy to the solemn celebration of the 17th centenary of the martyrdom of St. Anastasia, patron of the archdiocese of Zadar, which will take place on January 15 in 2005 in Zadar, Croatia.

- Appointed Cardinal Joachim Meisner, archbishop of Cologne, Germany, as his special envoy to the solemn celebration of the 850th anniversary of the arrival of St. Henry, bishop, in Finland and the 50th anniversary of the erection of the diocese of Helsinki, Finland, which will take place on February 27, 2005 in Helsinki.

- Appointed Msgr. Kazimierz Gurda, of the clergy of the diocese of Kielce, Poland and rector of the diocesan seminary, as auxiliary bishop of the same diocese (area 8,319, population 788,824, Catholics 768,525, priests 696, religious 507), Poland. The bishop-elect was born in 1953 in Ksiaznice Wielke, Poland and was ordained a priest in 1978.
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 20, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father received today in separate audiences:

- Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

- Marcelo Fernandez de Cordoba Ponce, ambassador of Ecuador on his farewell visit.

  On Saturday, December 18, the Holy Father received in separate audiences:

- Ferenc Gyurcsany, prime minister of Hungary, and an entourage.

- Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 20, 2004 (VIS) - This morning in the Clementine Hall in the presence of the Holy Father, members of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and the postulators of the respective causes, 22 new decrees were promulgated. Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, prefect of the congregation, read a discourse about the lives of the Servants of God and Blesseds.


- Blessed Joseph Bilczewski, archbishop of Leopoli of the Latins, Ukrainian (1860-1923).

- Blessed Zygmunt Gorazdowski, diocesan priest and founder of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph, Ukrainian (1845-1923).

- Blessed Gaetano Catanoso, diocesan priest and founder Congregation of the Daughters of Saint Veronica, Missionaries of the Holy Face, Italian (1879-1963).

 For Venerable Servants and Servants of God:

- Clemens August von Galen, cardinal, German, bishop of Munster (1878-1946).

- Luigi Biraghi, Italian, diocesan priest, founder of the Institute of the Religious of St. Marcelina (1801-1879).

- Bronislaw Markiewicz, priest and founder of the Congregations of St. Michael the Archangel, Polish (1842-1912).

- Charles de Foucauld, ne Charles of Jesus, diocesan priest, French (1858-1916).

- Mother Rita Amata di Gesu, nee Rita Lopez de Almeida, religious and foundress of the Institute of the Sisters of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, Portuguese (1848-1913).

- Maria Crocifissa Curcio, nee Rosa, religious and foundress of the Congregation of the Carmelite Missionaries of St. Teresa of the Child Jesus, Italian (1877-1957).

- Mother Ascencion del Corazon de Jesus, nee Fiorentina Nicol Goñi,  religious of the Dominicans of the Third Order, co-foundress and first superior general of the Dominicans of the Holy Rosary, Spanish (1868-1940).

- Mother Maria Anna Cope, nee Barbara, religious of the Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis in Syracuse, U.S.A., German (1838-1918).


- Fr. Ladislaw Findysz, diocesan priest, Polish (1907-1964).


- Servant of God Luigi Maria Olivares, of the archdiocese of Milan and former bishop of Sutri and Nepi, Italy, religious of the Salesian Society of St. John Bosco, Italian (1873-1943).

- Servant of God Bolewslaw Sloskans, Latvian, bishop and apostolic administrator of Mohilev and Minsk (1893-1981).

- Servant of God Virgilio Angioni, diocesan priest and founder of the Congregation of the Daughters of Our Lady of Divine Providence and of the Good Shepherd, Italian (1878-1947).

- Servant of God Ignatius Klopotowski, Polish, diocesan priest and founder of the Sisters of Blessed Virgin Mary of Loreto (1866-1931).

- Servant of God Michael Spocko, priest, Polish (1888-1975).

- Servant of God Titus Horten, priest of the Order of the Friars Preachers, German (1882-1936).

- Servant of God Mariano de la Mata Aparicio, priest and religious of the Order of St. Augustin in Spain, Spanish (1905-1983).

- Servant of God Mary Colomba Bialecka, nee Rosa Filippina, religious and foundress of the Congregation for the Sisters of the Third Order of St. Dominic, Polish (1838-1887).

- Servant of God Mother Mary Merkert, religious and co-foundress and first superior general of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Elizabeth, Polish (1817-1872).

- Servant of God Marta Wiecka, of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, Polish (1874-1904).
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 20, 2004 (VIS) - This morning, John Paul II received 50 boys and girls from Italian Catholic Action, along with the general assistant, Msgr. Francesco Lambiasi, and the national president, Paola Bignardi, who come every to wish the Pope  a Merry Christmas.

  "I was happy to learn," said the Pope, "of your annual initiative to develop a plan of formation centered on the theme of 'company' or fellowship. Carry out this project with joy and generosity! It is important that each one of you grow in conscience and friendship with Jesus. You can do it fully in that 'company' which is the Church, so loved by Christ as house and school of communion and solidarity."

  The Holy Father told the young people of Catholic Action that he hoped that Christmas, "with its spiritual allure, might arouse in you the desire to get to know Jesus Who came to the world to save us."
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 19, 2004 (VIS) - Pope John Paul, addressing the faithful in St. Peter's Square who came to pray the Angelus with him, said that "Christmas, the celebration that is perhaps dearest to popular tradition, is rich in symbols linked to different cultures. The most important is certainly the nativity scene, as I underscored last week."

  "Next to the nativity scene, such as we find here in St. Peter's Square," the Pope continued, "we find the traditional Christmas tree. This is also an ancient custom that exalts the value of life because during winter, the evergreen fir becomes a sign of life that does not die. Christmas gifts are usually placed under the Christmas tree. The symbol thus becomes eloquent even in a typically Christian sense: it reminds us of the 'tree of life', a figure of Christ, God's supreme gift to all of mankind."

  John Paul II pointed out that "the message of the Christmas tree is thus that life is 'evergreen' if one makes a gift, not of material things, but of oneself: in friendship and sincere affection, in fraternal help and in pardon, in time shared and in reciprocal listening."

  After the Angelus, the Pope, speaking Russian, welcomed some children from Beslan, North Ossetia who are guests with some of their relatives of the Discalzed Carmelites of Trento. "Dear ones, may the good that you are receiving from so many friends help you overcome the wounds caused by the terrible experience in the past." The Pope was referring to the September assault by terrorists on a school in Beslan where more than 300 people, mostly school children, died.


VATICAN CITY, DEC 18, 2004 (VIS) - This morning in Lisbon, in Portugal's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, secretary for Relations with States, and Antonio Victor Monteiro Martins, the minister of Foreign Affairs and of the Portuguese Communities, exchanged documents of ratification of the Concordat between the Holy See and the Portuguese Republic, signed in the Vatican on May 18, 2004. The agreement regulates matters of common interest between the Church and State.

  "The Accord," says a communique, "which renews the original concordat signed on May 7, 1940, regulates the juridical position of the Catholic Church and its institutions. The State guarantees the Church the public and free exercise of its activities, especially with regard to worship, Magisterium and ministry, as well as jurisdiction in ecclesiastical matters. It also recognizes religious freedom, especially with regard to personal beliefs, the right to assemble, public expression, teaching and charitable activity."

  In a declaration following the exchange of the documents of ratification, Archbishop Lajolo underscored the "great principles that inspire the Concordat: the Church's freedom" and "cooperation which allows the Church, with respect for the State's competence, to be associated with other private and public institutions in the service of society, for the good of man; and it does this above all through its educational and charitable works in line with two foundations of its activity: truth and love."

  He continued: "Also very important are the clauses on the teaching of religion and Catholic morality in public schools, the possibility to build new Catholic schools and the official recognition of the Portuguese Catholic University. How can we not see the importance of an accord in the field of the formation of young people who represent the future of the Church and society?"

  The secretary for Relations with States also cited, "as one of the typical dispositions of modern concordats, the stipulation to safeguard cultural heritage, which is extremely rich in Portugal and which has been greatly shaped by the religious values that make up the foundation on which the noble traditions of the Portuguese people have developed.  Putting aside space for religious purposes ... indicates the desire to continue to make these spiritual values a point of reference also for the future."
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 18, 2004 (VIS) - Ferenc Gyurcsany, prime minister of Hungary, was received today by the Pope who, noting Hungary's entrance this year into the European Union, told him he was "confident that your country will make a specific contribution to the future of this Continent by drawing on the rich patrimony of cultural and spiritual values which, from the time of St. Stephen, have formed the soul of the Hungarian people."

  "In this regard," the Holy Father continued, "I think especially of the young people of your nation, and the importance of their training in sound moral and civic values. This is an area of particular concern to the Church as she seeks to contribute to the common good in the fulfillment of her religious and educational mission. I am therefore most appreciative of the series of juridical agreements entered into by Hungary and the Holy See in recent years, particularly the 'Agreement on Financing the Activities of Public Service and other Religious Activities undertaken in Hungary by the Catholic Church'."

  John Paul II said that that Agreement "defines in a juridically binding way the role of the Church in an important area of Hungarian society, with due respect for the human rights to religious freedom and to education." He said he hoped that "a spirit of constructive cooperation" would continue to mark the working relationship between the two.
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 18, 2004 (VIS) - Delegates from the Forum of Family Associations, in Rome for their Program Conference, were received today by the Pope who thanked them for their 10 years of work in favor of families and for "being a voice for those who have none, for being spokesmen for family rights."

  "The family is not only at the heart of Christian life," he said, "it is the foundation of social and civil life, and thus constitutes a central chapter in Christian social teaching." He urged deeper studies of "that union between a man and a woman which takes place in marriage and gives rise to the family community. Whoever destroys this basic fabric of human coexistence causes a deep wound to society and often causes irreparable damage."

  John Paul II outlined the attacks taking place on marriage and the family, saying "they grow stronger and more radical every day. ... The attempt to reduce the family to a private affective experience, socially irrelevant; to confuse individual rights with those proper to the family nucleus constituted by a bond of matrimony; to make cohabitation equal to marriage; to accept, and in some cases promote, the suppression of innocent human lives with voluntary abortion; to distort the natural processes of generating children by introducing artificial forms of procreation, these are some of the areas in which subversion is underway in society."

  Devaluating marriage and losing respect for human dignity, said the Pope, is not progress. "What is presented as progress of civilization or scientific conquest, in many cases is, in fact, a defeat for human dignity and for society. ... The truth about man ... cannot be sacrificed to technological dominion or the prevarication of desires over authentic rights."

  In concluding, the Holy Father encouraged Catholic associations "and all who believe in the values of family and life, not to give in to pressures of a culture which threatens the very foundations of respect for life and promotion of the family."
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Friday, December 17, 2004


VATICAN CITY, DEC 17, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

- Cardinal James Francis Stafford, Major Penitentiary.

- Archbishop Pier Giacomo De Nicolo, apostolic nuncio.

- Archbishop Angelo Amato, secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 17, 2004 (VIS) - Today in the Holy See Press Office, Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry, presented the Vatican's Good Samaritan Foundation which will financially support the infirm, especially AIDS patients.

  Joining the cardinal were Bishop Jose Luis Redrado Marchite, O.H., and Fr. Felice Ruffini, M.I., respectively secretary and under-secretary of the council, and Dr. Raffaele Perrone, extraordinary commissioner of the Lazzaro Spallanzani National Institute for Infectious Diseases.

  Cardinal Lozano explained that in an audience granted to Cardinal Angelo Sodano, secretary of State, on September 12, the Holy Father instituted the foundation with a civil, canonical and public juridical nature, based in the Vatican.

  "The Holy Father," he said, "invites all men and women of good will, especially those in more economically advanced countries, to contribute to the goals of this foundation."  The foundation has been entrusted to the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry, headed by Cardinal Lozano.

  After emphasizing that AIDS "is one of the most devastating epidemics of our time," he recalled that since the disease appeared in the 1980's, more than 22 million people have died and 37,800,000 suffer from it.  He also said that between 2001 and 2003 the number of children, mostly in Africa, that have been left orphans due to the epidemic has risen from 11.5 million to 15 million.

  The council president indicated that the Catholic Church "has always contributed to  attempts to prevent the virus and to help the sick and their families through medical, social, spiritual and pastoral assistance. Currently, 26.7 % of AIDS medical centers in the world are Catholic." However, he added, "they do not have resources for necessary medicine, and the medicine they have is insufficient for covering the urgent need."

  "In order to build the foundation," he continued, "the Holy Father has donated 100,000 euro, offering an example of charity that we ask that all Catholics to follow."

  Cardinal Lozano said that this call "is directed above all to all bishops and their dioceses, to priests, religious institutes and foundations that carry out charity work and all men and women of good will."

  Contributions can be made by bank transfer or draft in dollars or euros and send to the Institute for Religious Works (IOR), Vatican City 00120. International checks can be made out to "Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, President of the Good Samaritan Foundation, Palazzo S. Paolo, Vatican City, 00120."


VATICAN CITY, DEC 17, 2004 (VIS) - Ninety performers of the Christmas in the Vatican Concert were received by the Holy Father this morning, who told them how significant this annual event is for Rome and for Romans because "it helps support the building of new churches, especially on the periphery of our diocese." He said he hoped that tomorrow's concert would "once again attain its noble goal."

  "Various song and concert initiatives, such as yours," added John Paul II, "are promoted during the Christmas season in parishes, schools and other milieux. I hope that they, together with other traditional and evocative signs, such as the nativity scenes and the Christmas tree, will contribute to facilitating people's encounter with the Savior Who, born in Bethlehem, offered men of all times His message of truth and love."

  He closed with "fervent Christmas wishes for the promoters, organizers and artists of the concert and all who watch it on television."
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 17, 2004 (VIS) - John Paul II this morning welcomed 18 members of the Anti-Defamation League who are on a visit to the Vatican.

  "The Church and the Jewish people," he said, "continue to enjoy close bonds of friendship. It is my fervent prayer that men and women will work together to eradicate all forms of racism in order to build a society that promotes truth, justice, love and peace. Upon all of you I invoke the divine gifts of strength and joy. Shalom!"
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Thursday, December 16, 2004


VATICAN CITY, DEC 16, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed:

- Fr. Jaime Rodriguez Salazar, M.C.C.I., diocesan administrator of the diocese of Huanuco, Peru and pastor of St. Peter Parish, as bishop of the same diocese (area 44,000, population 800,453, Catholics 720,407, priests 49, permanent deacons 8, religious 102). The bishop-elect was born in Michoacan, Mexico in 1939 and was ordained a priest in 1966.

- Fr. Paul J. Bradley, vicar general and moderator of the Curia of Pittsburgh, U.S.A., as auxiliary bishop of the same diocese (area 10,594, population 1,967,494, Catholics 812,078, priests 576, permanent deacons 50, religious 1,616), U.S.A. The bishop-elect was born in 1945 in McKeesport, U.S.A. and was ordained a priest in 1971.

- The following as members of the Council of Cardinals for the Study of the Organizational and Economic Problems of the Holy See: Cardinals Antonio Maria Rouco Varela, archbishop of Madrid, Spain, Aloysius Matthew Ambrozic, archbishop  of Toronto, Canada and Claudio Hummes, archbishop of Sao Paulo, Brazil.
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 16, 2004 (VIS) - Today the Holy Father received in separate audiences:

- Bishop Luigi Padovese, apostolic vicar of Anatolia.

- Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

- Aaron Valency, mayor of Upper Galilee and his wife.
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 16, 2004 (VIS) -  The Office of the Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff has announced the Holy Father's schedule for December 24, 25 and 31 and January 1, 2005:

- Friday, 24: Solemnity of Our Lord's Birth.  Midnight Mass in the Vatican Basilica.

- Saturday, 25: Solemnity of Our Lord's Birth.  "Urbi et Orbi" blessing at midday in St. Peter's Square.

- Friday, 31: Vespers and "Te Deum" of thanksgiving in the Vatican Basilica at 6 p.m.

- Saturday, January 1, 2005: Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God and World Day of Peace. Eucharistic liturgy presided over by Pope John Paul at 10 a.m. in St. Peter's Basilica. Cardinal Angelo Sodano will celebrate the liturgy.
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 16, 2004 (VIS) -  Pope John Paul's Message for World Day of Peace, January 1, 2005 was published today in English, French, Spanish, Italian, German and Portuguese. As the Pope himself wrote in the Message, dated December 8, 2004: "For the theme of this 2005 World Day of Peace I have chosen Saint Paul's words in the Letter to the Romans: 'Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good' (12:21)."

  Following are excerpts from the 13-page document:

  "The great Apostle brings out a fundamental truth: peace is the outcome of a long and demanding battle which is only won when evil is defeated by good. If we consider the tragic scenario of violent fratricidal conflicts in different parts of the world, and the untold sufferings and injustices to which they have given rise, the only truly constructive choice is, as Saint Paul proposes, to 'flee what is evil and hold fast to what is good' (cf. Rom 12:9).

  "Peace is a good to be promoted with good: it is a good for individuals, for families, for nations and for all humanity."

"Evil, good and love
  "From the beginning, humanity has known the tragedy of evil and has struggled to grasp its roots and to explain its causes. Evil is not some impersonal, deterministic force at work in the world. It is the result of human freedom. ... Evil always has a name and a face: the name and face of those men and women who freely choose it. ... Each of these choices has an intrinsic moral dimension."
  "At its deepest level, evil is a tragic rejection of the demands of love. Moral good, on the other hand, is born of love, shows itself as love and is directed towards love."
"The 'grammar' of the universal moral law
  "If we look to the present state of the world, we cannot help but note the disturbing spread of various social and political manifestations of evil: from social disorders to anarchy and war, from injustice to acts of violence and killing. To steer a path between the conflicting claims of good and evil, the human family urgently needs to preserve and esteem that common patrimony of moral values bestowed by God himself."
  "This common grammar of the moral law requires ever greater commitment and responsibility in ensuring that the life of individuals and of peoples is respected and advanced. In this light, the evils of a social and political nature which afflict the world, particularly those provoked by outbreaks of violence, are to be vigorously condemned. I think immediately of the beloved continent of Africa, ... or the dangerous situation of Palestine, the Land of Jesus, ...  the troubling phenomenon of terrorist violence, which appears to be driving the whole world towards a future of fear and anguish, ... the drama unfolding in Iraq, which has given rise to tragic situations of uncertainty and insecurity for all."
"The good of peace and the common good
  "When the common good is promoted at every level, peace is promoted. ... Each person, in some way, is called to work for the common good, constantly looking out for the good of others as if it were his own. This responsibility belongs in a particular way to political authorities at every level."
  "The common good therefore demands respect for and the integral promotion of the person and his fundamental rights, as well as respect for and the promotion of the rights of nations on the universal plane."
  "Certain reductive visions of humanity tend to present the common good as a purely socio-economic state of well-being lacking any transcendent purpose, thus emptying it of its deepest meaning. Yet the common good has a transcendent dimension, for God is the ultimate end of all His creatures."
"The good of peace and the use of the world's goods
  "Since the good of peace is closely linked to the development of all peoples, the ethical requirements for the use of the earth's goods must always be taken into account."
  "As a member of the human family, each person becomes as it were a citizen of the world, with consequent duties and rights. ... By the mere fact of being conceived, a child is entitled to rights and deserving of care and attention; and someone has the duty to provide these. The condemnation of racism, the protection of minors, the provision of aid to displaced persons and refugees, and the mobilization of international solidarity towards all the needy are nothing other than consistent applications of the principle of world citizenship."
  "The good of peace will be better ensured if the international community takes on greater responsibility for what are commonly called public goods" such as "the judiciary system, the defense system and the network of highways and railways."
  "The principle of the universal destination of goods can also make possible a more effective approach to the challenge of poverty."
  "The tragedy of poverty remains closely linked to the issue of the foreign debt of poor countries."
  "What is urgently needed is a moral and economic mobilization. ... New impulse should be given to Public Aid for Development, and new forms of financing for development should be explored, whatever the difficulties entailed."
  "In my Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte, I spoke of the urgent need for a new creativity in charity. ... This need is clearly seen when we consider the many difficult problems standing in the way of development in Africa: numerous armed conflicts, pandemic diseases aggravated by extreme poverty, and political instability leading to widespread insecurity."
  "May the peoples of Africa become the protagonists of their own future. ... May Africa cease to be a mere recipient of aid, and become a responsible agent of convinced and productive sharing!"
"The universality of evil and Christian hope"
  "Based on the certainty that evil will not prevail, Christians nourish an invincible hope which sustains their efforts to promote justice and peace."
  "No man or woman of good will can renounce the struggle to overcome evil with good. This fight can be fought effectively only with the weapons of love. When good overcomes evil, love prevails and where love prevails, there peace prevails."
  "Christians ... should show by their lives that love is the only force capable of bringing fulfillment to persons and societies, the only force capable of directing the course of history in the way of goodness and peace."
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 16, 2004 (VIS) - This morning in the Holy See Press Office, Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, presented Pope John Paul II's Message for the 38th World Day of Peace which will be celebrated on January 1, 2005.

  Bishop Giampaolo Crepaldi and Msgr. Frank J. Dewane, secretary and under-secretary of the same dicastery, also participated in the presentation.

  Cardinal Martino explained that this year the Pope has chosen a verse from the Letter of St. Paul to the Romans as a theme for reflection: "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." The apostle, he said, "invites us to a discernment, both personal and communal, on the crucial questions of evil and its dramatic influence on human lives and admonishes us to take up, with mature responsibility, the good and its diffusion."

  The Message is composed of three parts. In the first section, the cardinal said that "peace is considered in its rapport with moral good. In the second, peace is seen in its rapport with a classic principle of the social doctrine of the Church, the principle of the common good. In the third, peace is treated in its close connection with the use of the goods of the earth and with a very pertinent reference to another great principle of the social doctrine, the universal destination of goods."

  "At the center of the drama of evil there is a protagonist: the human person with his liberty and his sin." In this sense, the Pope indicates that "in order to face the multiple social and political manifestations of evil, modern humanity must treasure the common patrimony of moral values received as a gift from God." John Paul II recalls the appeal he made in 1995 before the General Assembly of the United Nations referring to the "grammar of the universal moral law, the only capable way to unite people among themselves in their diversity of cultures."

  In the Message, the Holy Father condemns the violence that is so rampant in our age and he highlights the "conflicts in Africa, the dangerous situation of Palestine, terrorism which seems to push the whole world towards a future of fear and anxiety, and the Iraqi drama which multiplies uncertainly and insecurity."

  "After calling for everyone's commitment to the common good and, above all, the commitment of public authorities, the Holy Father binds the promotion of the common good to respect for the person and his fundamental rights, as well as to respect for the rights of Nations in a universal perspective, asking for the commencement of real international cooperation." The Pope urges everyone not "to reduce the common good to mere socio-economic well-being. This is possible if the common good remains open to the transcendental dimension."

  Cardinal Martino indicated that the third part of the Message is dedicated to the use of the goods of the earth which the Holy Father considers in the context of the social doctrine of the universal destination of these same goods. The principles of the universal destination of the goods of the earth and world citizenship "constitute two beacons capable of illuminating political choices of the international community for the promotion of the development of peoples from an ethical and cultural perspective cast towards an integral and solidary development of humanity."

  In this ethical-cultural context, Cardinal Martino continued, the Pope confronts some very urgent questions. Their "solution is generally bound to the affirmation of the right to peace and the right to development," he said.  The first question regards "the use and destination of those new goods which are the fruit of scientific knowledge and technological progress."  The second one, he added, refers to the "public goods, goods which all citizens enjoy automatically without having made precise choices and which are however expressions of common interests."  The third question is "the fight against poverty, which remains the principle objective of the action of the International Community at the outset of this Millennium."

  In order to deal with poverty, John Paul II indicates that the first priority is to resolve the issue of the foreign debt of poor countries. In addition, he adds, "a renewed international commitment in financing for development" is necessary through "a new impulse" to public aid development.

  Cardinal Martino said that, at the center of the fight against poverty, the Holy Father places the African continent, which is "blocked in its development by many difficult problems; armed conflicts, pandemic diseases, conditions of misery, political instability and social insecurity." The solution to these problems lies in "respect for the promises related to official development assistance, a substantial alleviating of the weight of international debt, the opening of markets and an increase in commercial exchange."

  The cardinal concluded by saying: "In the face of terrible scenarios drawn from the presence of evil, the Holy Father invites everyone to raise their eyes to God who, in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, has rendered possible for all the victory of good over evil."
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 16, 2004 (VIS) - This morning the Holy Father received participants in the Seventh International Congress of the Pastoral Care for Circus and Fair Workers. The meeting, which is taking place in Rome from December 12 to 16, was organized by the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples.

  After recalling the theme of the congress, "Welcoming Circus and Fair Workers: from diversity to the coexistence of differences," the Pope said that their work, "which is difficult and very special, can be a privileged occasion to proclaim the authentically human values in the world's fora. In a time when it seems as if the frenzy of producing and getting rich is the only thing that matters, spreading joy and cheer is true testimony to those non-material values that are necessary to live fraternity and gratitude."

  "Your world, that of the circus and amusement parks," concluded the Pope, "can be turned into a new field of the great themes of pastoral care, ecumenism and the encounter of members of other religions, and the common commitment to building a universal brotherhood."
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 16, 2004 (VIS) - John Paul II welcomed five new ambassadors to the Holy See this morning and, after accepting their Letters of Credence, he addressed them as a group in French. At the end of his speech the Pope greeted each one individually and gave them a personal written message of welcome that made reference to the specific situations in their countries.

  The new ambassadors are: Gilton Bazilio Chiwaula of Malawi, Pradap Pibulsonggram of Thailand, Georges Santer of Luxembourg, Raychelle Awour Omamo of Kenya and Lars Petter Forberg of Norway.

  "Our world today," said the Pope, "has been marked by the scourge of war. In the face of humanitarian dramas, the international community is called to initiate inventive actions on the levels of charity, the economy and politics. It is important that diplomacy, for its part, does all that it can to make peace triumph. I appeal once again to all men and women of good will to definitively lay down arms and to commit themselves to the path of a trusting and fraternal dialogue. Violence never serves the cause of peoples, nor their development."

  John Paul II expressed the wish that "our contemporaries, especially those who guide the destinies of peoples, will always have at heart concern for serving man and the common good."

  He asked each ambassador to transmit his greetings to the citizens and civil and religious authorities in their respective countries, "with a special thought for the Catholic communities" and offered his "best wishes for your new mission."
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Wednesday, December 15, 2004


VATICAN CITY, DEC 15, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father:
- Appointed Archbishop Thomas E. Gullickson, apostolic nuncio in Trinidad and Tobago, Bahamas, Dominica, Sts. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and Grenadine and apostolic delegate in the Antilles, as apostolic nuncio in Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Jamaica, Guyana and Suriname.

- Accepted the resignation from the office of auxiliary of the archdiocese of Belo Horizonte, Brazil, presented by Bishop Sebastiao Roque Rabelo Mendes upon having reached the age limit.
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 15, 2004 (VIS) - Archbishop John P. Foley, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, delivered a homily this morning at a Mass for the meeting of SIGNIS International at the Paul VI International House in Rome.

  SIGNIS is a non-governmental organization with members from 140 countries and, as the World Catholic Association for Communication, includes professionals in radio, television, cinema, video, media education and the Internet. Two Catholic organizations - UNDA for radio and television, and OCIC, for cinema and audiovisual - merged in 2001 to form SIGNIS.
  "We are privileged to work in the field of communications." said the archbishop, "to have as our work of daily life the responsibility of making Christ known to others through the media. It is a privilege, but it is also a responsibility. It is the work on which we shall be judged. How well do we do it?"

  He suggested how to be good communicators: "First, we should reaffirm our own faith in the word made flesh, Jesus Christ. Second, we should strive to live in our own lives the example of Jesus Christ - not only for our own salvation and sanctification, but so that the message we transmit might be received more readily because the messenger is more credible. Third, while we work in general for better programs in the media, for a higher moral tone in the media, for better media legislation to guarantee access to the media of messages of a religious and spiritual nature, the most important work we do in media is to transmit the message of the Word made flesh."
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 15, 2004 (VIS) - In today's general audience, celebrated in the Paul VI Hall, the Holy Father spoke about the second part of Psalm 71, "Reign of a Righteous King."

  John Paul II said that "the decisive element which identifies the figure of the Messianic King is above all his justice and love for the poor who consider him a point of reference and a source of hope since he is the visible representative of their only defender and patron, God."

  "The Lord," he continued, "is the 'savior-redeemer' Who works visibly through the Messiah-king, safeguarding 'the life and blood' of the poor, His protected ones. Now 'life' and 'blood' are the basic reality of the person and the representation of the rights and dignity of every human being, rights that are often violated by those in power in this world."

  The Pope indicated that "humanity, putting aside and eliminating all divisions, will set out toward this sovereign of justice, fulfilling in this way the great promise made by the Lord to Abraham: 'And in him, shall every tribe of the earth be blessed'."

  "The Christian tradition," he concluded, "has seen in this image of the Messiah and King a foreshadowing of Jesus Christ, the Son of the Virgin Mary, the long-awaited Savior."

  Among the faithful present, the Holy Father greeted a group of people from the autonomous Italian province of Trento, accompanied by Archbishop Luigi Bressan and civil authorities who have come to Rome to present him the Christmas tree placed in St. Peter's Square. They also gave the Pope other trees which have been placed in the Paul VI Hall, in the Apostolic Palace and in other places around the Vatican.

  "It is a gift," he said, "of your autonomous province. Thank you! Thank you especially to those who made possible this Christmas gift which will remind visitors and pilgrims of the birth of Christ, light of the world."

  Before the audience, John Paul II greeted 3,000 Italian young people and students in St. Peter's Basilica. "During Advent, a prayerful time of waiting which prepares us for Christmas," he said, "Mary, the Virgin of Hope, is especially present. I entrust you to her so that you prepare yourselves to receive Christ who comes to establish His kingdom of love, justice and peace."
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 15, 2004 (VIS) - Thousands of students and faculty members from Roman universities, delegates from other European universities and civil and religious authorities were in St. Peter's Basilica last evening for their annual Mass with the Holy Father. The Pope thanked them for their presence saying, "as 'sentinels of the morning', you wish to be vigilant - today, during these weeks of Advent, and throughout life - to be ready to welcome the Lord Who comes."

  "Dear university students," he said, "we are in the year of the Eucharist and, in preparation for World Youth Day, you have been reflecting on the theme 'Eucharist and the Truth about Man'. This is a demanding theme. In fact, before the Eucharistic mystery, we are moved to verify the truth about our faith, our hope and our love. We cannot remain indifferent when Christ says: 'I am the living bread, come down from heaven'. Into our minds comes the question He asked: 'Do you believe it is I? Do you really believe?' In light of His words: 'Whoever eats this bread will have eternal life', we cannot not ask ourselves about the meaning and value of our daily lives."

  Noting that the greatest love was that of Christ "Who sacrificed Himself for the life of the world", the Holy Father said we must ask ourselves if we live our lives for others. "Is my humanity, my existence filled with the love of God and love for my neighbor? Or is it rather imprisoned in the oppressive cycle of selfishness?"

  The Pope said that the search for "truth about man is not reached only by the means that science offers us," but also "thanks to Christ's gaze filled with love. It is He, the Lord, Who comes to us in the mystery of the Eucharist. Never stop looking for Him and you will discover in His eyes an attractive reflection of the goodness and beauty that He Himself has placed in our hearts with the gift of His Spirit."
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Tuesday, December 14, 2004


VATICAN CITY, DEC 14, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

- Appointed Fr. Guido Plante, P.M.E., national director of the Pontifical Missionary Works and Director of the Superior Formation of the Pastoral Agents of the diocese of Choluteca, Honduras, as coadjutor bishop of the same diocese (area 5,775, population 595,500, Catholics 522,000, priests 27, religious 75). The bishop-elect was born in Montreal, Canada in 1936 and was ordained a priest in 1961.

- Appointed Bishop Antoni Dziemianko, auxiliary of Grodno, Belarus, as auxiliary of the archdiocese of Minsk-Mohilev, Belarus.
NER/.../...                                VIS 20041214 (100)


VATICAN CITY, DEC 14, 2004 (VIS) - Today the Holy Father received in audience Joaquin Navarro-Valls, the director of the Holy See Press Office, together with the personnel of the press office and the Vatican Information Service on the occasion of the 20th  anniversary of Navarro-Valls' appointment as director.
AP/.../...                                        VIS 20041214 (50)


VATICAN CITY, DEC 14, 2004 (VIS) - Joaquin Navarro-Valls, director of the Holy See Press Office, made the following declaration yesterday afternoon after the meeting of Hoshyar Zebari, minister of Foreign Affairs of Iraq, with Pope John Paul and then Cardinal Angelo Sodano, secretary of State.

  "In the course of the conversations the situation in Iraq and the Middle East in general was examined.

  "The minister thanked His Holiness and his aides for the help they have always demonstrated toward Iraq and he confirmed his government's commitment to promote religious freedom and, in particular, to defend Christian communities.

  "In the discussions the painful scourge of terrorism was deplored once again, in the hopes for a speedy return to respecting for moral values which are the basis of all civilizations."
OP/.../IRAQ:ZEBARI                        VIS 20041214 (140)

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.
RE:NER:NA/.../...                           VIS 20041213 (190)


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."
AC/PILGRIMS LOURDES/PERRIER                VIS 041213 (160)


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."
CD/CREDENTIALS/CROATIA:MARIN                    VIS 20041213 (390)


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.
AP/.../...                                VIS 20041213 (80)


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.
OP/MESSAGE PEACE:AIDS/...                    VIS 20041213 (180)


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."
AC/.../SONS:DAUGHTERS CROSS                        VIS 20041213 (210)


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.
ANG/NATIVITY SCENES/...                    VIS 20041213 (300)

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