"The so-called 'third age' is above all a value in itself, by the very fact that life continues, and life is a gift from God. It is also the transmitter of special talents, thanks to the heritage of experience, knowledge, and teachings of which the elderly person is custodian," John Paul II emphasized. "In all cultures, old age is a synonym for wisdom and balance. By their very presence, elderly persons remind everyone, especially youths, that life on earth is a parable with a beginning and an end. In order to reach its fullness it needs to refer to values that are not transient and superficial, but solid and profound."
John Paul II explained that "as they are marginalized from technological society, which in the name of profit tends to ignore non-productive bands, the elderly have an increasingly important role in the family, especially in the care and education of grandchildren. Without grandparents, young couples would often be at a loss."
Given this appreciation, the Pope stressed a correct understanding of the human person and, especially, of the elderly. "Old age is regarded with veneration in Sacred Scripture. The elderly person does not ask to be released from old age and its weight but, on the contrary, prays thus: 'You are my hope, O Lord, from my youth; in You have I placed all my trust. O God, do not abandon me now in my old age and white hair, so that I may proclaim your greatness and marvels to all generations.' "
In New Testament times, it is precisely Joachim and Anne who prepare the coming of the Messiah by welcoming Mary as a gift from God and the Ark of Salvation. In turn, They are welcomed and venerated by the Nazareth family, which becomes a model of attentive help to them. "I pray to Ss. Joachim and Anne, and especially to their celebrated daughter and Mother of the Savior, for intelligent love of the elderly, so that every family and all its members in our society will safeguard, reflect, and communicate love."
This was John Paul II's first Sunday in Castelgandolfo, following his holiday in the Valley of Aosta. Therefore, he cordially greeted the mayor and beloved citizens of the city, among whom he will reside until the end of the summer.
Coinciding with his arrival, the annual open-air peach fair was being held. The Pope greeted all those involved in harvesting this fruit, especially appreciated from this zone of the "Roman castles."
The Pope greeted various groups in different languages. When he addressed the Spanish, he mentioned the day's feast of St. James the Apostle, patron of Spain, a celebration of special solemnity in this Jubilee year in Compostela. ZE99072509
In related papal activities, John Paul II emphasized the role of the deceased Moroccan King Hassan II as a "man of dialogue." In his telegram of condolence for the Moroccan sovereign's death, sent to Mohammed VI, the new King, John Paul II referred to the historic meeting at Casablanca and Hassan II's role in the Middle East peace process.
"I remember the great figure of the deceased sovereign, who guided the destiny of his country with dignity along the way of spiritual and material progress," the Pope wrote.
The Holy Father referred to other meetings during his visit to Casablanca over the question of Jerusalem, stating that he carries "the picture of a man who was anxious to develop the dialogue among believers and to contribute to the establishment of peace among nations, above all in the Middle East." The Pontiff concluded: "I pray that the Merciful God will enfold Hassan in his light and peace, and help you to continue building the kingdom of concord and solidarity you so desire."
Hassan of Morocco was the first Arab head of State to invite the Pontiff to his country, and John Paul II was the first Pope in history to visit an Islamic country. The Holy Father addressed a meeting of youths in Casablanca in August, 1985. He spoke to them about two important topics: the elements that Catholicism and Islam share in common, and the future the youths "want to build." King Hassan was received at the Vatican in November, 1991. He described John Paul II as an "educator and defender of the values that the Islamic faith and the Christian faith share in common."
Cardinal Gantin will represent the Pope in Rabat this afternoon, at Hassan II's funeral. The ceremony will begin with respects paid to the casket in the royal palace. The funeral party will then proceed across the city to the royal family's mausoleum where prayers will be recited. Among those attending the funeral are President Bill Clinton and his wife, Hillary; Juan Carlos I and Sophia, the King and Queen of Spain; French President Jacques Chirac; Italian President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi; the Israeli President and Prime Minister; and the Algerian President. ZE99072507
In addition to the above, the Holy Father sent a warm congratulatory message to Cardinal Edward Idris Cassidy, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, on the occasion of his 50th anniversary in the priesthood. The Cardinal, who is a native of Sydney, Australia, celebrated his 75th birthday on July 5.
In his message, which was written in Latin, John Paul II told Cardinal Cassidy, "In so many places, whether at home in your native land or in the posts for the Apostolic See throughout the world, you have fruitfully completed sacred offices; for more than ten years now, you have confirmed so many believers in the faith of Christ and have strengthened those inflamed with excitement for the unity of Christians."
The Pope closed his letter praying that the Cardinal might "exercise his priestly and episcopal apostolate even more fruitfully into the future until it comes to completion and enjoy successive days and years in that chosen vineyard of Jesus of Nazareth." ZE99072506
Thousands of people attended the first session at St. Mary's Church in Calcutta where the archbishop said the inquiry could take about a year. "The Church must be sure that someone who is to be declared a saint is truly such." Apart from testimony that Mother Teresa lived a life of heroic virtue, canonization also requires proof of two miracles attributed to her intercession.
Pope John Paul II accelerated the canonization process for the woman who was almost universally declared a living saint during the latter part of her 87 years by waiving the customary five-year waiting period. In addition to founding the Missionaries of Charity religious order, Mother Teresa also received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 and numerous recognitions for her work among the poor, indigent, and marginalized of society.
Father Brian Kolodiejchuk, a Canadian priest who will prepare the case for beatification, said several miracles have already been attributed to Mother Teresa. "In the time following Mother Teresa's death, her reputation of sanctity has continued and even increased in extent and intensity," he said. Archbishop D'Souza said a patient in Raiganj in the eastern Indian state of West Bengal claimed that a tumor disappeared after receiving blessings from Mother Teresa. The archbishop said the case has been authenticated by a doctor.
In the meeting on Monday, the inquiry team was sworn in and asked to take a vow of secrecy. About 100 witnesses are expected to testify about their experiences with Mother Teresa.
Bishop Patrick Ziemann resigned from his office last Wednesday after Father Jorge Hume Salas filed a lawsuit accusing the bishop of coercion and sexual abuse. A lawyer for the bishop has admitted that the bishop and Salas had engaged in an inappropriate sexual relationship, but said it was completely consensual and denied the charges.
Sister Jane Kelly, who worked at St. Mary of the Angels Church in Ukiah where Salas was assigned, said she originally oversaw Salas who began working there as a lay youth minister in 1992. Salas, who was recruited from South America by Bishop Ziemann, was ordained by the bishop in 1996. Kelly told the Chronicle that the circumstances of Salas' ordination were suspicious, saying repeated requests of the diocese for proof that Salas attended seminary were rebuffed.
In 1996, Bishop Ziemann removed Salas as pastor of St. Mary's after he admitted stealing $1,200, after which Salas claimed the bishop forced him to engage in sex or face prosecution.
Sisters Eva Maria Silva and Luz Adelia Barragan have admitted they fatally shot a man who broke into the El Topo convent in Tunja, 80 miles northeast of Bogota, last week. Their lawyer, Gilberto Rondon, said the nuns tried to shoot their gun in the air but accidentally hit Severo Mendez. Investigating noises in a dark cloister, Barragan fired three shots into the shadows before Silva grabbed the revolver and fired again.
The nuns bought the gun in 1981, following a series of attempted robberies, Rondon said, and recently started nightly patrols after six break-ins this year. The convent houses a valuable collection of art, including a 16th century portrait of the Virgin of the Miracles, decorated with a gold crown and scepter.