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Wednesday, February 23, 2005


VATICAN CITY, FEB 23, 2005 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Bishop Gerhard Feige, auxiliary of Magdeburg (area 23,000, population 2,750,000, Catholics 167,500, priests 185, permanent deacons 25, religious 218), Germany, as bishop of the same diocese.
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VATICAN CITY, FEB 23, 2005 (VIS) - Yesterday evening, John Paul II's latest book, "Memory and Identity," was presented at a press conference in Rome's Palazzo Colonna. Those present included Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Joaquin Navarro-Valls, director of the Holy See Press Office, and Paolo Mieli, editor of the Italian newspaper "Corriere della Sera," which is published by the Rizzoli group which also produced the Italian edition of the Pope's book.

  The book, said Navarro-Valls, is a result of conversations the Pope had with two Polish philosophers, Josef Tishner and Krystof Michalski, in his summer residence at Castelgandolfo in 1993. The conversations were recorded and later transcribed. The manuscript was saved for some years until the Pope read it and decided to make it into a book after having made some corrections.

  "In his book, John Paul II does not reflect on cosmic evil, that is, on catastrophes and tragedies, but on the evil that derives from human behavior," said the press office director. "It could be said that this is a book about the theology of history. The Pope does not wish to guess at or define the place that events occupy in the divine plan, or to decipher the ways of Providence. When he writes about the ideologies of evil, national socialism and communism, he explores their roots and the regimes that resulted. He also undertakes a theological and philosophical reflection about how the presence of evil often ends up being an invitation to good."

  The closing pages, in which he describes the attempt on his life of May 13, 1981 are, says Navarro-Valls, "not a mere addendum, although the style is different from the rest of the book; they have the tone of one speaking about a directly lived experience. The Pope opens his heart and explains how he experienced - and experiences - that evil." In a dialogue with his private secretary, Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, the Pope recalls each moment from when he was shot, to his arrival at Rome's Gemelli Polyclinic, his recovery, his pardon of would-be assassin Ali Agca and his visit to him in prison.

  Cardinal Ratzinger indicated how the Pope speaks of Agca as the "victim of a logic that is, from every point of view, flawed. He is a Muslim, and perhaps also for this reason he fell into a spiral of fear from which he has never recovered because he continues to believe he is a part of some premonition contained in the third secret of Fatima. But over and above these considerations, Agca has never asked himself about what he did, the plain fact of the attempt on the Pope's life has never distressed him. His only real concern is that he missed his target." The prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said the would-be assassin had written to him frequently to ask if the mystery of Fatima contains an answer. "But as is well-known, Agca's only link with Fatima is the date of May 13, and his reflections are limited to this level."

  In his book, the Holy Father also recalls the attack of September 11, 2001 on the Twin Towers in New York, that of May 11, 2004 in Madrid, and the massacre of Beslan, Russia, in September 2004. "Rereading the transcripts of the conversations (of 1993)," he writes, "I note that expressions of violence have reduced considerably" since the 1970s, "yet so-called 'networks of terror' have spread throughout the world, and constitute a constant threat to the lives of millions of innocents." He asks: "Where will these new eruptions of violence lead us?"

  "Memory and Identity" is 200 pages long and has been published in 11 languages. It is John Paul II's fifth book. In 1994 he published "Crossing the Threshold of Hope," in 1996 "Gift and Mystery," in 2003 a book of poetry entitled "Roman Triptych" and in 2004 "Arise, Let us be Going."
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VATICAN CITY, FEB 23, 2005 (VIS) - This morning, as previously announced, John Paul II addressed a few words to participants in today's general audience.

  Because of bad weather in Rome, the Pope, who was scheduled to greet pilgrims in the square from his study window, spoke to them instead via a television link from the library of his private apartments to the Paul VI Hall: "I greet you with affection and I thank you for your attendance."

  "We are following a Lenten journey," he went on, "assisted and stimulated by the liturgy which calls us to a special commitment to prayer, fasting and penitence, and to greater solidarity towards our fellow man, especially towards the poor and needy.

  "Let us open our hearts to the inner suggestions of grace. May selfishness give way to love, that we may have the chance to experience the joy of forgiveness and of intimate reconciliation with God and with our brothers and sisters."

  In closing, the Pope greeted the participants in several languages, expressing the hope that their stay in Rome may help them deepen their "love of the Universal Church."
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