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My People

Vol. 19, Issue 5, May 2006

"If my people, who are called by My name, humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their evil ways, I will hear them from heaven and pardon their sins and revive their land." — 2 Chronicles 7:14


Communications Day Is May 28
Migration Challenges Society
IN DEFENSE OF LIFE: True Compassion
The Military Tells Their Side
Pope John Paul II – A "Rock" Of Faith
Pope John Paul II: Fidelity And Dedication
Light to the Nations: A Christian Perspective on World News
Pray the News


Communications Day Is May 28

The 40th World Communications Day will be observed on Sunday, May 28. Pope Benedict XVI's message for this day was issued January 24, the feast of St. Francis de Sales, patron of the Catholic press. The Pope's message follows:

"In the wake of the fortieth-anniversary of the closing of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, I am happy to recall its Decree on the Means of Social Communication, Inter Mirifica, which in particular recognized the power of the media to influence the whole of human society. The need to harness that power for the benefit of all mankind has prompted me, in this my first message for World Communications Day, to reflect briefly on the idea of the media as a network facilitating communication, communion, and cooperation.

"Saint Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, vividly depicts our human vocation to be 'sharers in the divine nature' (Dei Verbum, 2): through Christ we have access in one Spirit to the Father; so we are no longer strangers and aliens but citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, growing into a holy temple, a dwelling place for God (cf. Eph 2:18-22). This sublime portrayal of a life of communion engages all aspects of our lives as Christians. The call to be true to the self-communication of God in Christ is in fact a call to recognize His dynamic force within us, which then seeks to spread outwards to others, so that His love can truly become the prevalent measure of the world (cf. Homily for World Youth Day, Cologne, August 21, 2005).

"Technological advances in the media have in certain respects conquered time and space, making communication between people, even when separated by vast distances, both instantaneous and direct. This development presents an enormous potential for service of the common good and 'constitutes a patrimony to safeguard and promote' (Rapid Development, 10). Yet, as we all know, our world is far from perfect. Daily we are reminded that immediacy of communication does not necessarily translate into the building of cooperation and communion in society.

"To inform the consciences of individuals and help shape their thinking is never a neutral task. Authentic communication demands principled courage and resolve. It requires a determination of those working in the media not to wilt under the weight of so much information nor even to be content with partial or provisional truths. Instead it necessitates both seeking and transmitting what is the ultimate foundation and meaning of human, personal, and social existence (cf. Fides et Ratio, 5). In this way the media can contribute constructively to the propagation of all that is good and true.

"The call for today's media to be responsible – to be the protagonist of truth and promoter of the peace that ensues – carries with it a number of challenges. While the various instruments of social communication facilitate the exchange of information, ideas, and mutual understanding among groups, they are also tainted by ambiguity. Alongside the provision of a 'great round table' for dialogue, certain tendencies within the media engender a kind of monoculture that dims creative genius, deflates the subtlety of complex thought, and undervalues the specificity of cultural practices and the particularity of religious belief. These are distortions that occur when the media industry becomes self-serving or solely profit-driven, losing the sense of accountability to the common good.

"Accurate reporting of events, full explanation of matters of public concern, and fair representation of diverse points of view must, then, always be fostered. The need to uphold and support marriage and family life is of particular importance, precisely because it pertains to the foundation of every culture and society (cf. Apostolicam Actuositatem, 11). In cooperation with parents, the social communications and entertainment industries can assist in the difficult but sublimely satisfying vocation of bringing up children, through presenting edifying models of human life and love (cf. Inter Mirifica, 11). How disheartening and destructive it is to us all when the opposite occurs. Do not our hearts cry out, most especially, when our young people are subjected to debased or false expressions of love which ridicule the God-given dignity of every human person and undermine family interests?

"To encourage both a constructive presence and a positive perception of the media in society, I wish to reiterate the importance of three steps, identified by my venerable predecessor Pope John Paul II, necessary for their service of the common good: formation, participation, and dialogue (cf. Rapid Development, 11).

"Formation in the responsible and critical use of the media helps people to use them intelligently and appropriately. The profound impact upon the mind of new vocabulary and of images, which the electronic media in particular so easily introduce into society, cannot be overestimated. Precisely because contemporary media shape popular culture, they themselves must overcome any temptation to manipulate, especially the young, and instead pursue the desire to form and serve. In this way they protect rather than erode the fabric of a civil society worthy of the human person.

"Participation in the mass media arises from their nature as a good destined for all people. As a public service, social communication requires a spirit of cooperation and co-responsibility with vigorous accountability of the use of public resources and the performance of roles of public trust (cf. Ethics in Communications, 20), including recourse to regulatory standards and other measures or structures designed to effect this goal.

"Finally, the promotion of dialogue through the exchange of learning, the expression of solidarity, and the espousal of peace presents a great opportunity for the mass media which must be recognized and exercised. In this way they become influential and appreciated resources for building the civilization of love for which all peoples yearn.

"I am confident that serious efforts to promote these three steps will assist the media to develop soundly as a network of communication, communion, and cooperation, helping men, women, and children, to become more aware of the dignity of the human person, more responsible, and more open to others especially the neediest and the weakest members of society (cf. Redemptor Hominis, 15; Ethics in Communications, 4).

"In conclusion, I return to the encouraging words of Saint Paul: Christ is our peace. In Him we are one (cf. Eph 2:14). Let us together break down the dividing walls of hostility and build up the communion of love according to the designs of the Creator made known through His Son!"


Migration Challenges Society

One of the most challenging issues facing the world is that of migration. There are issues facing sending and receiving countries, migrants, legal and illegal, and businesses and social service agencies. Christians face the challenge of addressing such issues with the love of Christ and an emphasis on respect for human dignity.

Mons. Celestino Migliore addressed some of these issues in an April 5 address is New York. He represented the Vatican at the 39th session of the commission on population and migration. The text of his address follows:

". . .Perhaps it is worth recalling how the mandate of this Commission has developed with the passage of time. In years gone by, dire predictions as to the future composition and sustainability of the projected human global population led to radical population policies which have in turn been responsible for different but equally grave dilemmas such as the serious problems brought about by falling birth rates, and the creation of imbalances between men and women in the population, with its own social consequences. If the development of the world's peoples is to be both sustainable and sane, such flawed policies will have to be replaced by truly people-centered ones.

"Today, the work of the Commission includes the examination of trends and impacts upon population and development like HIV, unknown 60 years ago, and the migration of peoples, with their respective consequences. As the population generally grows older in the developed world, the phenomenon of migration is being examined in a different light. Although it is an historic and ubiquitous phenomenon, efforts to shape it and control it by political and legal means have not always led to happy results. For this reason, my delegation welcomes the preparation of robust information and figures to be placed at the disposal of member states, so that they may judge more wisely and more humanely how to address any true problems arising from migration.

"Due to the present shape of nation states, the inevitable – and we could even say unstoppable – phenomenon of migration tout court is occasionally looked upon as a problem to be solved. Sometimes it is painted as a threat and is manipulated for short term political gain, at the expense of the most natural rights of all human beings – the right to life, to citizenship, to work, and to development. For this reason, the upcoming High Level Dialogue on the subject is very welcome; indeed it is a long overdue discussion on a perennial social question with consequences for people far beyond the 191 million or so presently considered migrants.

"For receiving countries, the net economic impact of international migration is said to be generally positive. Although the presence of international migrants may have a small adverse effect on the wages of non-migrants or may raise unemployment when wages are rigid, such effects are usually small at the national level. Over the medium and long term, migration can even generate employment and produce net fiscal gains. Studies in rapidly aging populations indicate that migrants can contribute substantially to relieving the fiscal burden on future generations.

"On the other hand, the emigration of skilled personnel can be detrimental to the development prospects of countries of origin, especially small developing countries losing high proportions of skilled citizens. However, skilled migrants who maintain ties with their countries of origin may stimulate the transfer of technology and capital.

"Due to low fertility, net migration counts for three quarters of the population growth in developed countries and, by 2030, migration may account for all population growth in those countries. Therefore, migration is no longer an economic question or one to be examined just from the point of view of its consequences for sending countries. The question on the other side of the equation, the social impact of migration on receiving countries with shrinking birth rates, now needs to be better understood as well. Demographic shifts in populations on such a scale will surely have radical consequences for the entire composition of nations, and so a balance has to be struck between the evident benefits of migration on the one hand and a consideration of the social impact of large numbers of migrants in receiving countries, especially when they are not yet integrated, on the other. Furthermore, there seems to be a growing awareness that immigration cannot be the single solution to demographic and labor problems of receiving countries.

"The World Summit Outcome document rightly acknowledged the nexus between international migration and development and the need to deal with the challenges and opportunities that migration presents to countries of origin, destination, and transit. It is to be hoped that the resolve expressed by all the world's leaders to take measures to ensure respect for and protection of the human rights of migrants, migrant workers, and members of their families will be built upon, to the benefit of all peoples without distinction. . ."



True Compassion

Fred H. Summe
Fred H. Summe, vice president of Northern Kentucky Right to Life
by Fred H. Summe

"No virtue is more misunderstood than compassion. The truly compassionate person loves so selflessly that he willingly takes on the pain of the sufferer. The person who confuses compassion with pity is repulsed by suffering and distances himself, emotionally and physically, from the sufferer. Today people kill in the name of 'compassion,' as the only remedy they can think of is to put the sufferer out of his misery," explains Dr. Donald DeMarco, Professor of Philosophy at the University of St. Jerome's College in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.

Pope John Paul II, in Evangelium Vitae, offers the identical insight: "True 'compassion' leads to sharing another's pain; it does not kill the person whose suffering we cannot bear."


A year has passed since the death of Terri Schiavo. Terri died by starvation a slow and painful death, when her husband, Michael, with the "blessing" of the courts, authorized him to withdraw food and hydration, which caused her death. Terri was not terminally ill, nor was there any prognosis of her dying soon. Although her parents and family heroically fought for Terri in the courts and in the news media, their efforts failed to stop the husband, who was then living with another woman, with whom he had fathered two children.

The news media, including many Catholic news sources, supported the acts of Mr. Schiavo, while every pro-life organization urged their members to pray that the court would stop the killing of this disabled woman. Most bishops across the country remained silent, including Bishop Lynch, Terri's bishop, refraining from even publishing the clear teachings of the Catholic Church in this matter.

Sadly, a bioethicist at Loyola University in Chicago, Fr. Kevin O'Rourke, proclaimed that when a person no longer has the "cognitive-affective function," "the moral imperative to help the person toward health and existence is no longer present."

However, Pope John Paul II clearly taught the opposite. In a March 20, 2004, address, Pope John Paul II reiterates the clear teaching of the Catholic Church, first stating that a person, no matter how seriously ill or disabled he or she may be, is always a human person and never becomes a vegetable or an animal. The Pope then teaches:

"I should like particularly to underline how the administration of water and food, even when provided by artificial means, always represents a natural means of preserving life, not a medical act. Its use, furthermore, should be considered, . . .morally obligatory, insofar as and until it is seen to have attained its proper finality, which in the present case consists in providing nourishment to the patient and alleviation of his suffering. . . .Death by starvation or dehydration is, in fact, the only possible outcome as a result of their withdrawal. In this sense it ends up becoming, if done knowingly and willingly, true and proper euthanasia by omission."

Fr. O'Rourke found this statement of the Pope as being "irresponsible." The Pope, in Evangelium Vitae, reminded people such as Fr. O'Rourke, and others who profess to hold the Catholic faith, that "In the case of an intrinsically unjust law, such as a law permitting abortion or euthanasia, it is therefore never licit to obey it, or to take part in a propaganda campaign in favor of such a law, or vote for it."

The Disabled

The final decision upheld in the courts to allow the withdrawal of food and hydration from Terri Schiavo, praised in the secular media, and morally justified by many so-called Catholics, and ignored by most of the U.S. bishops, now brings fear to those who are disabled.

With the courts now referring to food and hydration as "life-prolonging treatment," and with the feeding tube viewed as life support, those who depend on others, and on medical equipment, drugs, or other devices, now wonder if they too can be withdrawn.

Writing in Celebrate Life, Renée Wood states: "Hence the disabled fear that our adaptive devices can be declared 'life support' at any time, for any reason, and if we are admitted to the hospital, our adaptive devices will be taken from us. Another reason we are vulnerable and want to portray ourselves as less disabled is because the public sees very little difference between terminal illness and a significant disability."

True Compassion

What does a person who is disabled, suffering from a sickness, terminally ill, or in a coma, desire most?

If one reflects on this question only for a few minutes, the answer is obvious. He would want the same thing we all want.

Do not we all long for someone to truly love and care for us, to be surrounded by people whom God has placed in our lives, especially those about whom for years we cared? Don't we want others to make sacrifices for us, spending whatever time and energy they have meeting our needs?

A visit, conversation, gentle touch, or simple gift goes a long way. Although we may not be able to move the crosses that God has placed in other people's lives, we can at least try to comfort and encourage those, who through their sufferings, bring much grace into the world, for the benefit of all of us.

The culture of death teaches to rid the world of suffering by getting rid of those who suffer. On the other hand, the culture of life calls us to share in the sufferings of others by making those who suffer part of our lives.

In A Declaration on Euthanasia, thirteen Jewish and Christian scholars, from the wisdom of the Judeo-Christian principle of the sanctity of all innocent human life, states:

"Deeply embedded in our moral and medical traditions is the distinction…between allowing to die, on the one hand, and killing, on the other…It is never permitted, it is always prohibited, to take any action that is aimed at the death of ourselves or others… we must learn again the wisdom that teaches us always to care, never to kill."


"For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in; naked, and ye clothed me; I was sick, and ye visited me; I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? Or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? Or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." (Matthew 25:35-40)


The Military Tells Their Side

by Michael Halm

The website describes itself as "the world's largest index of military blogs." It currently has links to 1,290 blogs or web logs by 1,354 registered members. Many are just men and women in the military and their families trying to tell each other how much they miss each other. Technically it is much faster, much better than previous wars' letters, but it is still hard. The following are a few which were called up by a search for the word "God."

Sgt. Chancy Humphries writes, "I have been a soldier in the National Guard for eight years. I never thought I would be in Iraq, but here I am. God knew what He was doing when He put me here. For more reasons than one. I am a proud soldier and a proud man. I miss my family and wife, and will be home soon."

Sgt. David Francis of the Iowa National Guard in his blog, "Freedom Was Never Free," writes, "I am among the most fortunate men of all time. If you disagree, you are wrong. I know because I have been chosen as a son of God Most High." He also tells of "Hank," Shiite Gulf War veteran who went AWOL and survived to become a translator. "I've read the Bible five times," Hank told Francis proudly, and he said, "Wow! That's five times more than most Christians."

He got quite angry, however, right there in mess hall once when he shouted out, "There are weapons of mass destruction here! I know! I've seen them!"

"He got choked up and his lip quivered as he continued, I just don't know what they did with them. I'm afraid the people who know are already dead," Sgt. Francis writes. "This is a big desert. Not even America has enough time or money to look everywhere."

Francis added that he knows for a fact that a number of MiG 29's – which would be classified as WMD's – were buried, because some of these have been dug up and are now on display at Al Taqqadum Air Base.

Navy Seaman Yem Sophat, a hospital corpsman from Pomona, Calif., says, "Besides combat, we help a lot of unfortunate people in this country. I wish we could do more." With Marines from his company he delivered a brand new pediatric wheelchair to the family of a disabled little girl in the town of Al Hasa. She had her back broken in a traffic accident.

Rob Meehl's blog is mostly photographic. "These pictures," he explains, "are of regular soldiers interacting with regular kids. These kinds of scenes happen a thousand times a day around here. We are here to help give these kids a future."

Millman, on the other hand, is concerned about the children back home and not just his own. "I want the Governor of N.D. to run for President. This is what he said. 'In the history of the world, the true test of a civilization is how well people treat the most vulnerable and most helpless in their society. The sponsors and supporters of this bill believe that abortion is wrong because unborn children are the most vulnerable and most helpless persons in our society. I agree with them."

On another one called simply "Greg's blog," SFC Greg writes of the Iraqis, "They see that they CAN make changes and have a say in the government. I believe that the overall process will take up to three generations to be where it should be, but it is such a huge start. I have said in the past, that I am not here for the adults, but it is the children which will make the mindset change. After evaluating the last year, I recant that statement. Yes, it will still take three generations; however, the adults are changing. I have seen it."

He expresses the opinion of perhaps everyone in the military when he writes, "As I reflect on my life and I look around me, I realize what we as Americans have, yet we take so much for granted. The peoples we are aiding know nothing of the changes which are happening. They have nothing to compare it to. They have lived in total fear and oppression for over 35 years of hard rule. This makes the average Iraqi who has memories of pre-Saddam, at least 50 years old."

"Yes, we are the world police," he continues, "I am so proud to be one. I swore an oath of allegiance when I joined the military. I was not drafted, but joined on my own accord. The following words have become my life and are forever etched into who I am: 'I will support and defend the constitution of the United States, I will guard against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and will bear true faith and allegiance to the same so help me god!!'" (his emphasis).


Pope John Paul II – A "Rock" Of Faith

At a Mass April 3, celebrating the first anniversary of Pope John Paul II's death, Pope Benedict XVI recalled his predecessor's strong faith and tireless discipleship of Jesus. The Pope gave the following homily at the Mass in Vatican City:

"In these days, on the first anniversary of his death, the memory of the Servant of God John Paul II is particularly vivid throughout the Church and the world.

"With the Marian Vigil yesterday evening, we relived the precise moment of his devout passing one year ago, whereas today we are here in this same St. Peter's Square to offer the Eucharistic Sacrifice in suffrage for his chosen soul.

"Together with the cardinals, bishops, priests and religious, I greet with affection, the numerous pilgrims who have arrived from very many places, especially from Poland, to bear witness to their esteem, affection and deep gratitude. Let us pray for this beloved Pontiff, allowing ourselves to be illuminated by the Word of God we have just heard.

"In the First Reading from the Book of Wisdom, we were reminded of the eternal destiny that awaits the righteous: a destiny of superabundant happiness, an incomparable reward for the sufferings and trials they faced during their lives. 'God tested them and found them worthy of Himself; like gold in the furnace He tried them, and like a sacrificial burnt offering He accepted them' (Wis 3:5-6).

"The term 'burnt offering' refers to the sacrifice in which the victim was entirely burned, consumed by the flames; consequently, it was a sign of total offering to God. This biblical expression reminds us of the mission of John Paul II, who made his life a gift to God and to the Church and, especially in the celebration of the Eucharist, lived out the sacrificial dimension of his priesthood.

"Among the invocations dear to him was one that comes from the 'Litanie di Gesù Cristo Sacerdote e Vittima' that he chose to place at the end of his book, Gift and Mystery, published on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of his ordination to the Priesthood. (cf. pp. 113-116): 'Iesu, Pontifex qui tradidisti temetipsum Deo oblationem et hostiam – Jesus, High Priest Who gave Yourself to God as offering and victim, have mercy on us.'

"How frequently did he repeat this invocation! It expresses clearly the profoundly priestly character of his whole life. He never made a mystery of his desire to become increasingly one with Christ the Priest through the Eucharistic Sacrifice, a source of tireless apostolic dedication.

"It was faith, of course, that was at the root of this total offering of himself. In the Second Reading that we have just heard, St. Peter too uses the image of the gold tested by fire and applies it to faith (cf. I Pt 1:7). In fact, in life's difficulties it is especially the quality of the faith of each one of us that is tried and tested: its firmness, its purity, its consistency with life. Well, the late Pontiff, whom God had endowed with multiple human and spiritual gifts, in passing through the crucible of apostolic labors and sickness, appeared more and more as a 'rock' of faith.

"To those who had the opportunity to be close to him, that firm and forthright faith was almost tangible. If it impressed the circle of his collaborators, it did not fail during his long Pontificate to spread its beneficial influence throughout the Church in a crescendo that reached its highest point in the last months and days of his life.

"It was a convinced, strong and authentic faith – free of the fears and compromises that have infected the hearts of so many people – thanks partly to his many Apostolic Pilgrimages in every part of the world, and especially thanks to that last 'journey,' his agony and his death.

"The Gospel passage that has just been proclaimed helps us to understand another aspect of his human and religious personality. We might say that among the Apostles, he, the Successor of Peter, supremely imitated John the 'beloved disciple,' who stood under the Cross with Mary at the moment of the Redeemer's abandonment and death.

"The evangelist relates that Jesus, when He saw them standing near, entrusted the one to the other: 'Woman, behold, your son!'. . . 'Behold, your mother!' (Jn 19:26-27). The dying Lord's words were particularly dear to John Paul II. Like the Apostle and Evangelist, he too wanted to take Mary into his home: 'et ex illa hora accepit eam discipulus in sua' (Jn 19:27).

"The expression 'accepit eam in sua' is singularly compact. It indicates John's decision to make Mary share in his own life, so as to experience that whoever opens his heart to Mary is actually accepted by her and becomes her own. The motto that stands out in the coat of arms of the Pontificate of Pope John Paul II, Totus tuus, sums up this spiritual and mystical experience well, in a life completely oriented to Christ through Mary: 'ad Iesum per Mariam.'

"Dear brothers and sisters, this evening our thoughts turn with emotion to the moment of the beloved Pontiff's death, but at the same time our hearts are, as it were, impelled to look ahead. We feel reverberating within them his repeated invitations to advance without fear on the path of fidelity to the Gospel, to be heralds and witnesses of Christ in the third millennium.

"We cannot but recall his ceaseless exhortations to cooperate generously in creating a more just humanity with greater solidarity, to be peacemakers and builders of hope.

"May our gaze always remain fixed on Christ, 'the same yesterday and today and for ever' (Heb 13:8), Who firmly guides His Church. We believed in His love and it is the encounter with Him that 'gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction' (cf. Deus Caritas Est, n. 1).

"May the power of Jesus' Spirit be for you all a source of peace and joy, dear brothers and sisters, as it was for Pope John Paul II. And may the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, help us to be in all circumstances, as he was, tireless apostles of his divine Son and prophets of his merciful love. Amen!"


Pope John Paul II: Fidelity And Dedication

On Sunday, April 2, at 9:37 p.m., Pope Benedict XVI and the faithful throughout the world, and especially in Vatican City and in Poland, marked the time of Pope John Paul II's transit to eternal life with special prayers and ceremonies. In Vatican City, the Rosary was recited. Pope Benedict XVI gave the following reflection:

"We are meeting this evening, on the first anniversary of the departure of beloved Pope John Paul II, for this Marian Vigil organized by the Diocese of Rome. I greet with affection all of you present here in St. Peter's Square, starting with the Cardinal Vicar Camillo Ruini and the Auxiliary Bishops, with a special thought for the cardinals, bishops, priests and religious, and for the lay faithful, especially the youth.

"Truly, the entire city of Rome is symbolically gathered for this emotional moment of prayer and reflection. I address a special greeting to Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, Metropolitan Archbishop of Krakow, who is linked to us by television and who was for many years a faithful collaborator of the late Pontiff.

"A year has already passed since the death of the Servant of God John Paul II at this very moment – it was 9: 37 p.m. – but his memory lives on, more alive than ever, as is testified to by the many events scheduled to take place in these days throughout the world.

"He continues to be present in our minds and hearts; he continues to communicate to us his love for God and his love for man; he continues to inspire in one and all, and especially in the young, enthusiasm for good and the courage to follow Jesus and His teachings.

"How can we sum up the life and evangelical witness of this great Pontiff? I will attempt to do so by using two words: 'fidelity' and 'dedication,' total fidelity to God and unreserved dedication to his mission as Pastor of the universal Church.

"Fidelity and dedication appeared even more convincing and moving in his final months, when he embodied in himself what he wrote in 1984 in the Apostolic Letter Salvifici Doloris: 'Suffering is present in the world in order to release love, in order to give birth to works of love towards neighbor, in order to transform the whole of human civilization into a "civilization of love"' (n. 30).

"His courageously-faced illness made everyone more attentive to human suffering, to all physical and spiritual pain; he gave dignity and value to suffering, witnessing that the human being's value does not depend on his efficiency or appearance but on himself, because he was created and loved by God.

"With his words and gestures, the dear John Paul II never tired of pointing out to the world that if a person allows himself to be embraced by Christ, he does not repress the riches of his humanity; if he adheres to Christ with all his heart, he will never lack anything. On the contrary, the encounter with Christ makes our lives more impassioned.

"Precisely because he drew ever closer to God in prayer, contemplation, and love for Truth and Beauty, our beloved Pope was able to become the travelling companion of each one of us and even to speak authoritatively to those who had nothing to do with the Christian faith.

"This evening, the first anniversary of his return to the Father's House, we are invited to accept anew the spiritual legacy he has bequeathed to us; we are urged, among other things, to live by seeking tirelessly the Truth that alone brings relief to our hearts. We are encouraged not to be afraid to follow Christ in order to bring everyone the Gospel proclamation which is the leaven of a more fraternal and supportive humanity.

"May John Paul II help us from Heaven to continue on our way, remaining docile disciples of Jesus in order to be, as he himself loved to repeat to young people, 'dawn watchmen' at the beginning of this third Christian millennium. For this, let us call on Mary, Mother of the Redeemer, for whom he always felt a tender devotion.

"I now address the faithful in Poland who are linked up with us.

"Let us join in spirit the Poles who have gathered in Krakow, Warsaw, and other places for the Vigil. The memory of John Paul II is alive within us; the sense of his spiritual presence has not faded. May the memory of the special love he felt for his fellow countrymen always be for you the light on your way towards Christ. 'Stay strong in the faith.' I bless you with all my heart.

"I now impart my Blessing to you all."


Light to the Nations: A Christian Perspective on World News

Remembering Pope John Paul II

VATICAN CITY – During the Sunday Angelus on April 2, the first anniversary of the death of Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI recalled his precedecessor with these words:

"On April 2, last year, just as today, in these very hours and here in this very apartment, beloved Pope John Paul II was living the last stage of his earthly pilgrimage, a pilgrimage of faith, love, and hope which left a profound mark on the history of the Church and of humanity. His agony and death constitute, as it were, an extension of the Easter Triduum.

"We all remember the images of his last Way of the Cross on Good Friday: being unable to go to the Colosseum, he followed it in his Private Chapel, a cross in his hands. Then, on Easter morning he imparted the Urbi et Orbi Blessing, unable to speak, solely with the gesture of his hand. Let us never forget that Blessing. It was the most heartfelt and moving Blessing which he left us as the last testimony of his desire to carry out his ministry to the very end.

"John Paul II died as he had always lived, inspired by the indomitable courage of faith, abandoning himself to God and entrusting himself to Mary Most Holy. This evening we will commemorate him with a Marian Prayer Vigil in St. Peter's Square, where tomorrow afternoon we will celebrate Mass for him.

"A year after his departure from this earth to the Father's house, we can ask ourselves: what did this great Pope who led the Church into the third millennium leave us?

"His legacy is immense but the message of his very long Pontificate can be summed up well in the words he chose to inaugurate it, here in St. Peter's Square on October 22, 1978: 'Open wide the doors to Christ!' (Inauguration Homily; L'Osservatore Romano English edition, November 2, 1978, p. 12).

"John Paul II incarnated this unforgettable appeal, which I feel resounding within me as if it were yesterday, in the whole of himself and in the whole of his mission as Successor of Peter, especially with his extraordinary program of Apostolic Journeys. In visiting the countries of the entire world, meeting the crowds, the Ecclesial Communities, the Heads of Government, Religious Leaders and various social realities, he was making, as it were, a great gesture to confirm his initial words. He always proclaimed Christ, presenting Him to everyone, as did the Second Vatican Council, as an answer to man's expectations, expectations of freedom, justice, and peace. Christ is the Redeemer of man, he was fond of repeating, the one genuine Saviour of every person and the entire human race.

"In his last years, the Lord gradually stripped him of everything, to make him fully resemble him. And when henceforth he could no longer travel or even walk, or finally even speak, his gesture, his proclamation, was reduced to the essential: to the gift of himself to the very end. His death was the fulfillment of a consistent witness of faith that moved the hearts of so many people of good will.

"John Paul II departed from us on a Saturday dedicated especially to Mary, for whom he had always had a filial devotion. Let us now ask the heavenly Mother of God to help us treasure what this great Pope gave and taught us. . ." (Source: L'Osservatore Romano English edition)

Pray the News

Because we are sons and daughters of God, saved by Jesus and empowered by the Holy Spirit, we do not merely read the news but make the news. We direct the course of world events by faith expressed in action and intercession. Please pray for the stories covered in this paper. Clip out this intercessory list and make it part of your daily prayer.

  • We pray for all to come closer to the risen Jesus during this Easter season.
  • We pray for all mothers during this month when we especially remember them.
  • We pray for all to grow in relationship with Mary, the Mother of God and our mother.
  • We pray for a great respect for life to develop and that many will be converted from anti-life attitudes and life-styles.
  • We pray for an end to war and violence.
  • We pray for all those in military service.
  • We pray in thanksgiving for the life of Pope John Paul II and ask his intercession for the Church.


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