Vatican City, Jan 13, 2004 (CNA) - Pope John Paul II spoke about peace this morning, just a day after his powerful speech about the world situation. The Holy Father received officials of the 31st division of the Italian Air Force, who accompany the Pope on his trips outside Rome.
"In recent days," he said, "the liturgy has invited us to contemplate Jesus Who became man and came among us. He is the light that illuminates and gives meaning to our existence; He is the Redeemer who brings peace to the world.”
“Let us welcome Him with trust and joy! The Blessed Virgin Mary who, as a thoughtful mother, presents Him to us, also watches over us. I invite you to turn to her at every moment and to entrust the just-begun year of 2004 to her,” he added.
John Paul II wished the officials a happy New Year and thanked them for "the dedication and commitment with which you have for years facilitated the ministry of the Successor of Peter."
Vatican City, Jan 13, 2004 (CNA) - Pope John Paul II marked the 160th anniversary of the publication of "True devotion to Our Lady" by St. Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort, the book he said inspired his Mariology.
The Holy Father wrote a letter to the religious men and women of the Montfort families on the Marian doctrine of their founder.
In the letter dated December 8, Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, the Pope recalls that despite the fact that St. Louis-Marie wrote the treatise at the beginning of 1700, the manuscript was "virtually unknown for more than a century," until it was "discovered by chance in 1842 and published in 1843."
"I myself, in the years of my youth, received great help from the letter in this book in which I 'found the response to my questions' due to fear that devotion to Mary 'would end up compromising the supremacy of worship due to Christ'.
My motto, 'Totus tuus,' is inspired by the doctrine of St. Louis-Marie Grignion de Monfort. These two words express total abandonment to Jesus through Mary."
St. Louis-Marie, he affirms, "contemplates all the mysteries starting with the Incarnation, which occurred at the moment of the Annunciation." The Holy Father indicates that "in the Monfort spirituality the dynamism of charity is expressed in a special way through the symbol of the 'slavery of love for Jesus,' following the example and maternal aid of Mary."
"Like St. John of the Cross, St. Louis Marie insists especially on the purity of faith and on its fundamental and often painful obscurity."
Referring then to Our Lady as a sign of hope, John Paul concludes: "The Church awaits the glorious coming of Jesus at the end of the world. Like Mary and with Mary, the saints are in the Church in order to make its holiness radiate and to extend the work of Christ, one and only Savior, to the ends of the earth and till the end of the world."
Caracas, Venezuela, Jan 13, 2004 (CNA) - Venezuelan Cardinal Rosalío Castillo Lara is calling on his fellow countrymen to build a country upon “true freedom and democracy,” under the guidance of the Blessed Mother.
The Cardinal denounced “the out-dated and absurd political system which has been imposed through tyranny, deception, and force and which has only brought about ruin, destruction and slavery. Hatred and deceit have been sown in Venezuela and violence has become the natural offspring of this sowing.”
The problems have been compounded by “the profanation of venerated images of the Blessed Virgin, which deeply hurts the feelings of the Venezuelan people and their love for the Blessed Virgin,” he added.
“Let us ask [Our Lady] to grant us a government based on freedom and democracy, that all might participate in the building of the country, but above all, that she might bring a longed-for peace back to Venezuela, that we might all live united as the brothers and sisters that we are, that there might be peace and justice, that hatred might cease, that we might learn to overcome evil with good, that our hope will not grow dim,” the Cardinal said.
Cardinal Castillo celebrated Mass in the Shrine of Our Lady of Coromoto, the country’s patroness, together with the President of the Venezuelan Bishops Conference, Archbishop Baltazar Porras, Archbishop André Dupuy, the Apostolic Nuncio, who read a message from Pope John Paul II, and 40 other bishops from the country.
Bogotá, Colombia, Jan 13, 2004 (CNA) - Bishop Luis Madrid Merlano of Cartago, Colombia, is denouncing the dropping of leaflets in his diocese which include threats to local residents by drug traffickers.
Bishop Madrid said “this diocese is being intimidated,” and he pointed out that in recent weeks 10 murders have been associated with violence between drug trafficking groups.
Mexico City, Mexico, Jan 13, 2004 (CNA) - Reacting to the announcement of new immigration policy for the United States by President George Bush, Bishop José Guadalupe Martín Rábago, President of the Mexican Bishops Conference, said the proposal “needs to be reviewed.”
The Mexican bishop said, “Although I need to think about it a little bit more, the only thing I can say is that the reform presented by President Bush needs to be reviewed in order to be sure it truly responds to the interests of Mexicans.”
“I think that at this time, in general, Mexicans are analyzing the idea to see just what the real impact will be. As far as I’m concerned it would be premature to make any judgments before having the chance to review it closely and study it to see what the pros and cons are,” he added.
“As a nation that values immigration and depends on immigration we should have immigration laws that work and that make us proud. We still do not have them.”