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Friday, November 12, 2004


VATICAN CITY, NOV 12, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Fr. Wilhelmus de Bekker, diocesan administrator and pastor of the ecclesiastical circumscription of Paramaribo, Suriname, as bishop of the same diocese (area 163,820, population 459,281, Catholics 105,635, priests 23, religious 15).  The bishop-elect was born in 1939 in Helmond, Holland and was ordained a priest in 1985.
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VATICAN CITY, NOV 12, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

- Francesco Storace, president of the Region of Lazio, Italy.

- Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, president of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
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VATICAN CITY, NOV 12, 2004 (VIS) - The Council of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops for the Special Assembly for America held its ninth meeting in the Vatican on November 5, under the presidency of Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, secretary general, according to a communique released today. Joining the archbishop were eight members of the council and six staff members of the Synod of Bishops.

  After a review of the secretariat general's work since the eighth meeting of the council, the discussion turned to the activities with which the post-synodal apostolic exhortation has been applied in the various churches in America, with special reference to the current situation of society and of the Church in the individual countries and on the continent. There was also an examination of the current principal pastoral problems with the aim of finding solutions in a spirit of communion between the particular Churches in America and in the Catholic Church.


VATICAN CITY, NOV 12, 2004 (VIS) - Made public today was a message from the Pope to the president of the Association of Italian Catholic Doctors, Domenico Di Virgilio, on the occasion of the organization's 23rd national congress.

  In the Message, dated November 9, the Holy Father reaffirms the ethical principles on which the Hippocratic Oath are based: "There are no lives that are not worth living; there is no suffering, no matter how grave, that can justify killing a life; there are no reasons, no matter how noble, that make plausible the creation of human beings, destined to be used and destroyed."

  "May the conviction that life must be promoted and defended from conception till natural death always inspire you in your decisions: what will distinguish you as Catholic doctors is precisely the defense of the inviolable dignity of every human being.  May you never neglect the spiritual dimension of the human being in your work of safeguarding and promoting health."

  After emphasizing that while scientific progress is "a formidable instrument for improving the conditions of life and well-being, it can also be enslaved to the will of abuse and dominion.  Scientific research, by its very nature oriented to the good of man, runs the risk of losing its original vocation. No type of research can ignore the intangibility of every human being: to violate this barrier means to open up the doors to a new form of barbarity."
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VATICAN CITY, NOV 12, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father today welcomed 600 participants in the international conference on palliative cures, sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry and currently underway in the Vatican, and thanked them for their "scientific and human commitment in favor of those who are in a state of suffering."

  "Medicine," said the Pope, "always places itself at the service of life. Even when it knows it cannot defeat a serious pathology, it dedicates its own capabilities to alleviating suffering. To work with passion to help the patient in every situation means to be aware of the inalienable dignity of every human being, even those in the extreme conditions of a terminal state."

  He pointed out how faith can help a person in pain to help others who are also suffering. "In fact, there is a directly proportional relationship between the capacity to suffer and the capacity to help those who are suffering." Persons sensitive to the pain of others and to helping them "are also more disposed, with the help of God, to accepting their own suffering,"

  The Holy Father addressed the topic of euthanasia, calling it one of those "dramas caused by an ethic which seeks to establish who can live and who must die. ... Even when motivated by sentiments of a poorly understood compassion, ... euthanasia, instead of redeeming the person from suffering, suppresses them." He stated that compassion, when wrongly understood, "leads to snuffing out life in order to alleviate pain, thus overturning the ethical statute of medical science. ... true compassion, on the contrary,  promotes every reasonable effort to favor the patient's healing."

  On the question of intense therapy, the Pope affirmed that "the eventual decision to not undertake or to interrupt therapy will be considered ethically correct when (such therapy) is inefficacious or clearly disproportionate to the ends of supporting life or recovering health. Refusal of intense therapy, thus, is an expression of the respect that is owed to the patient in every instance."

  He underscored the importance of being by a patient's side right up to the end, lovingly and with every care taken to alleviate their suffering, and with special attention to preparing the patient's "soul to meet the heavenly Father."

  He noted that palliative cures aim to alleviate symptoms of physical and mental pain in the final stages of an illness and therefore require specialized personnel. Administering pain killers, said the Pope, "must be proportional to the intensity and cure of pain, avoiding every form of euthanasia" by giving a quantity of medicine that would cause death.

  In closing remarks, John Paul II said that "science and technology, in any case, can never give a satisfactory answer to the basic questions of the human heart. Only faith can answer these questions. The Church intends to offer her specific contribution by the human and spiritual accompaniment of the ill."
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VATICAN CITY, NOV 12, 2004 (VIS) - This morning the Holy Father received the president of Portugal, Jorge Sampaio, recalling his visit to Fatima in 2000 to beatify "the two great Portuguese little ones: Francisco and Jacinta Marto."

  "The special light that shone in their lives," he said, "wants to illuminate the world.  The world continues to look to Portugal with hope, especially in terms of becoming aware of the grave crisis of values in modern society, ever more insecure in the face of fundamental ethical decisions for the future path of humanity."

  John Paul II said that "the formation of a critical conscience in order to discern the meaning of life and of history is the greatest cultural challenge of our times, something which the Church in Portugal wants to confront through its collaboration, as the new Concordat that will go into effect in a few days demonstrates."

  A concordat is an agreement signed between the Holy See and the secular government of a State which regulates relations between the two in a number of areas such as education, the teaching of religion, and assigning Catholic chaplains to prisoners and the military.
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