Vatican City, Oct 16, 2003 (CNA) - On the anniversary of his pontificate, Pope John Paul II signed a new document on the ministry of bishops and encouraged the bishops to "face the challenges of the day."
"The bishop must be frank in teaching the Christian faith, proposing it in an authentic manner," he said in his address to the cardinals and bishops after the signing at 11 a.m. "The bishop must also promote the participation of all of the faithful for the edification of the Church."
The Apostolic Exhortation "Pastores gregis" is the result of the 10th Synod of Bishops that was held in 2001, from Sept. 27 to Oct. 30. The document, under the theme "The Bishop: Minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the Hope of the World", recalls the great importance of the ministry of bishops in the lives of the people of God, said the pope.
"Attentive to the needs of the Church, the bishop will face the challenges of the day," said the pope. "He will be a prophet of peace, a defender of rights for the young and the marginalized. He will proclaim to all the Gospel of life, of truth and of love. He will have a predilection toward the multitudes of the poor who populate this world. … He will sustain ecumenical dialogue so that the Church will once again shine among the nations as a vessel of unity and harmony. In the multiethnic society of this third millennium, he will also promote interreligious dialogue.
"The bishops are called to be fathers, teachers, friends and brothers of every person based on the example of Christ. Seeking faithfully this life, he can attain holiness, a holiness that should not grow alongside the ministry but through the ministry itself," he added.
"The pope shares in the anxiety, suffering, hope and joy of your ministry. I am sprirtually beside each one of you," he concluded.
Vatican City, Oct 16, 2003 (CNA) - The evening vespers are a prayer, which expresses the trust that we have in God and which reminds us to place our existence in His hands, Pope John Paul II told a general audience at St. Peter’s Square today.
The pope took the occasion today to expound on his catechism of the evening vespers, which he had begun last week.
“Vespers, or evening prayer, evokes the evening sacrifice of incense offered in the Temple of Jerusalem, and the hour when Christ lay in the tomb, having offered himself to the Father for the salvation of the world,” said the pontiff.
As part of his instruction, the pope spoke about the different parts of the evening prayer and explained their significance.
The prayer begins with the invocation Deus in adiutorium, the second verse of Psalm 69, prescribed by St. Benedict, which reminds the faithful that only God can give us the grace to praise Him well, said the pope. The Gloria follows the invocation, because “the glorification of the Trinity expresses the essential orientation of all Christian prayer,” he said. The Alleluia that follows is a joyful expression of the trust we place in God for his protection, he continued.
The pope also explained the numerous themes of the Psalms that make up the evening prayer. One theme is light. Another theme is trust in God. A third theme is thanks. A fourth theme expresses the “eschatological sense evoked by the end of the day”, yet other psalms express wisdom or have penitential intonations.
The purpose of the brief reading from the New Testament, which is followed by silence to facilitate the internalization of its message, is to “propose a biblical phrase with strength and incisiveness and to imprint it on hearts so that it can be truly lived,” explained the pope.
“The moving sequence of Psalms, scriptural canticles, readings and intercessions concludes with the Lord's Prayer, the perfect expression of the Church's praise of God, and a final prayer which invokes the fruits of Christ's saving sacrifice upon the whole world,” he concluded.
At the end of the general audience, the pope made a call for peace in Bolivia. He also greeted the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Chambéry, the delegation of Paramount Chiefs from Sierra Leone and the members of the Euro-American Urological Association.
Rome, Italy, Oct 16, 2003 (CNA) - In an unprecedented gesture of appreciation, the President of Italy, Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, will congratulate Pope John Paul II on the 25th anniversary of his Pontificate in an address to the nation that will be broadcast on the country's three public television channels.
According the Italian press reports, the Head of State traditionally addresses the Italian nation only at the end of the year on December 31, making this address a unique event.
Messages of congratulations have poured into the Vatican from all five continents through the various official delegations that will participate in the anniversary Mass.
Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski and former President of Poland Lech Walesa will also be in Rome for the celebrations.
Vatican City, Oct 16, 2003 (CNA) - Condom packages should carry a health warning similar to that printed on cigarette packets, Alfonso Cardinal Trujillo told the AFP in an interview about a BBC television program in which he said condoms are not guaranteed to prevent the transmission of HIV/AIDS.
“I propose that the ministries of health require the inclusion in condom packages and advertisements, and in the apparatus or shelves where they are displayed, a warning, that the condom is not safe,” the president of the Vatican’s Council for the Family told the news service, comparing the warning signs to those printed on cigarette packages.
The Colombian cardinal said that in his one-hour interview with the BBC, only one question was dedicated to the theme of “safe sex.” In response to that question, he affirmed that “one cannot really speak of 'safe sex', leading people to believe that the use of condoms is the formula to avoid the risk of HIV and thus to overcome the AIDS pandemic. Nor should people be led to believe that condoms provide absolute safety.
“I simply wished to remind the public, sustaining the opinion of a good number of experts, that when the condom is employed as a contraceptive, it is not totally dependable, and that the cases of pregnancy is not rare," Trujillo told the AFP.
"In the case of the AIDS virus, which is around 450 times smaller than the sperm cell, the condom's latex material obviously gives much less security. Some studies reveal permeability of condoms in 15 percent or even up to 20 percent of cases."
He added: "Thus, to talk of condom as 'safe sex' is a form of Russian roulette! And this is even without considering other possible reasons for condom failure, such as degradation of latex due to exposure to sunlight and heat, rupture and breakdown."
The World Health Organisation said the Church's claims are wrong and condoms are 90 per cent effective in preventing the transmission of HIV. In the remaining cases, the condom was used improperly, broke, slipped or had expired.
Bogotá, Colombia, Oct 16, 2003 (CNA) - Bishop Ugo Puccini of the Diocese of Santa Marta in Columbia and one of a three-member commission created at the request of the National Liberation Army (ELN) to negotiate the release of seven tourists kidnapped in the Nevada Mountains, expressed dismay at the lack of response from guerrilla forces to enter into negotiations.
Bishop Puccini and the other members of the commission, who have been in Santa Marta two days, said, “Right now we can’t do anything else except wait for a response.”
“We have had no contact with them. We are in Santa Marta waiting to go to wherever they tell us in the Nevada Mountains and immediately begin negotiations,” the Bishop explained.
He also lamented that they know nothing “of the people who are supposed to be our intermediaries.” “Today I met with the rest of the commission and we will try to use all of our external contacts to find out why these people have not gotten in touch with us,” he added.
The other members of the commission include Bishop Héctor Fabio Henao and Father Darío Echeverry.
According to Bishop Puccini, “We’ve only reached the half-way point. We have been unable to achieve much so far in this good-will effort, and therefore we call upon the spokesmen of this group to indicate the next steps that need to be taken.”
In addition to negotiating the release of the hostages, the commission also intends to look for evidence of survival and verify the humanitarian crisis facing the population of the Nevada Mountains, in response to requests made by the ELN when it claimed responsibility for the kidnapping on September 29.
The tourists were kidnapped last September 12 by the ELN as they were visiting the archeological ruins of the Lost City, in the Nevada Mountains.
La Paz, Bolivia, Oct 16, 2003 (CNA) - The Bishop of El Alto, Bolivia, Jesús Juárez, has called on authorities and citizens involved in the unrest that has paralyzed his city and the capital, La Paz, since last weekend to look for a solution to the conflict based on dialogue.
In three days more than 50 people were killed and hundreds injured as protestors clashed with military forces over demands that President Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada resign from office.
Speaking to international reporters, Bishop Juárez exclaimed, “In the name of God, stop the violence,” urging that a “negotiated political solution be found that will guarantee the preservation of democracy.”
“We ask everyone to stop this violence. The Church will continue to insist that there is no social peace without true justice for all Bolivians,” he said, adding that “the right to life is the first right that must be guaranteed.”
He called the situation “extremely worrisome and increasingly tense.” The unrest began more than three weeks ago when opposition leaders began protesting the sale of natural gas and a new law concerning hydrocarbons.
Vatican City, Oct 16, 2003 (CNA) - Close to 200 Cardinals from around are gathering in Rome this week to take part in a Congress on the Pontificate of Pope John Paul II. The meeting, which is taking place in the Synod Hall of the Vatican, will continue until Saturday.
In his opening remarks, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Dean of the College of Cardinals and Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, told the prelates the Holy Father has taught us to follow Jesus in a world that resists His call.
Cardinal Ratzinger gave thanks to God "for giving us this shepherd who confirms us, his brothers, in the faith in a time filled with confusion and danger."
"At a time when so many no longer wish to follow the Lord" because His words seem to hard, the Pope, echoing the words of Peter, tells us, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You alone have the words of eternal life."
"The Holy Father's entire Pontificate seems to be one great action whose purpose is to make these words and this decision present and operative in us," he added.
Cardinal Ratzinger invited his brother Cardinals and the entire Catholic world to give thanks to God for this Pontificate. "Our first expression of thanks should be prayer, thanksgiving to God in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass."
He also said that this thanksgiving "should be accompanied by attentiveness to the Pope's message and commitment to following Christ."
"For this reason a renewed reflection on the visionary thought of the Holy Father could be an adequate form of thanksgiving," he added, recalling the 14 encyclicals "that began with a three-part consideration on the Holy Trinity and then developed major themes on the Church, the missions, Mariology, social issues, dialogue with the modern world, and faith and reason."
"These days can be an invitation to re-read the important writings of this Pontificate and with renewed vigor, transform them into pastoral action."
Vatican City, Oct 16, 2003 (CNA) - At the conclusion of his general audience yesterday, Pope John Paul called for "civil dialogue" and "reasonable solutions" to resolve the crisis in Bolivia, where dozens of people have been killed and hundreds injured in clashes with the military.
The Pope told the crowd of 16,000 thousand gathered in St. Peter's square that "the news from Bolivia, where a serious crisis has resulted in death and injury, is cause for great concern." "I wish to express my spiritual solidarity with those who are suffering, and I invite everyone to pray that the Lord will inspire
those involved to engage in civil dialogue and to work for reasonable solutions to the country's problems based upon the rule of law," the Pope said.
For more than three weeks the government of President Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada has faced increasing protests by opposition groups against a proposal to export natural gas.