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Monday, December 29, 2003


VATICAN CITY, DEC 27, 2003 (VIS) - Following is the text of the telegram of condolence sent by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, secretary of State, in the Holy Father's name, to Archbishop Angelo Mottola, apostolic nuncio in Iran, for the earthquake on December 26 in the region of Bam, Iran which claimed countless victims:

'Upon receiving the news of the earthquake in Iran, in the region of Bam, which caused many deaths, the Holy Father expresses his spiritual closeness to the individuals affected by this terrible tragedy. He entrusts those who died to the mercy of the Almighty and assures the survivors and their families of his solidarity. The Pope conveys his sincere condolences to the authorities of the country and the Iranian people, and invites the international communities to show their support and solidarity concretely to the people who have undergone this trial. His Holiness does not forget the people who courageously take part in the rescue efforts and implores the consolation of divine blessing for all those who have been affected by this dramatic event.'

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VATICAN CITY, DEC 27, 2003 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed:

- Bishop Jose Luis Dibildox Martinez of Tarahumara, Mexico as bishop of Tampico (area 22, 671, population 1,183, 640, Catholics 1,110,620, priests 111, religious 178), Mexico. He succeeds Bishop Rafael Gallardo Garcia O.S.A. whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted upon having reached the age limit.

- Bishop Francisco Javier Chavolla Ramos of Matamoros, Mexico as bishop of Toluca (area 7,917, population 3,234,580, Catholics 2,878,775, priests 287, religious 483), Mexico.

- Bishop Jesus Murgui Soriano, auxiliary of Valencia, Spain, as bishop of Mallorca (area 3,604, population 702,122, Catholics 557,122, priests 403, religious 1,276, permanent deacons 7), Spain.

On Tuesday, December 24 it was made public that the Holy Father appointed:

- Fr. Pavel Posad, spiritual director of the Seminary of Olomouc, Czech Republic, as bishop of the diocese of Litomerice (area 9,380, population 1,310,476, Catholic 189,200, priests 119, religious 105, permanent deacons 13), Czech Republic. The bishop-elect was born in 1953 in Budkov, Czech Republic and was ordained a priest in 1977. He succeeds Bishop Josef Koukl whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted upon having reached the age limit.

- Fr. Paul Ponen Kubi, C.S.C., vice-provincial of the Congregation of the Holy Cross, as auxiliary bishop of Mymensing (area 16,448, population 14,009,701, Catholics 65,220, priests 26, religious 121), Bangladesh. The bishop-elect was born in 1956 in Dewachala, Bangladesh and was ordained a priest in 1986.

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VATICAN CITY, DEC 28, 2003 (VIS) - Today, Feast of the Holy Family, before thousands of people gathered in St. Peter's Square for the Angelus, the Pope said that 'all families learn to be a center of love, unity and openness to life in the school of Nazareth.'

'In our times,' he affirmed, 'a misunderstood sense of our rights sometimes obscures the nature of the institution of the family and the conjugal bond. It is necessary for all those who believe in the importance of the family based on marriage to unite at all levels. It is a human and divine reality that should be defended and promoted as a fundamental good of society.'

John Paul II indicated that Christians, according to Vatican Council II, 'attentive to the signs of the times, must do everything possible 'to promote diligently the good of marriage and the family.' ' It is necessary to proclaim the Gospel of the family with joy and courage. Let us raise our common prayer for this to Jesus, Mary and Joseph for all families, in particular for those who have material or spiritual difficulties.'

Before concluding, the Pope asked for prayers for the victims of the earthquake in Iran and invited 'international organizations, and especially Catholic charitable institutions to generously help our Iranian brothers and sisters who have been affected by this serious catastrophe. May the solidarity of the entire world, especially felt during the Christmas season, help to improve this dramatic situation.'

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