DAILY CATHOLIC     WEDNESDAY     May 19, 1999     vol. 10, no. 97

from a CATHOLIC perspective

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German Chancellor Visit highlights Birthday Greetings From the World Over

          VATICAN CITY, MAY 18 (ZENIT).- The Pontiff began the day with a mass of thanksgiving which he celebrated in his private chapel, accompanied by his closest aides and the presidents of Italy's regional Episcopal Conferences, whose ad limina visit brought them to Rome at an opportune moment. All the Church's bishops meet and discuss Church affairs with the Pope and the Holy See once every five years in this ad limina visit.

          During the Eucharistic Celebration, the Pope stressed the fact that a bishop's mission is to serve, and also commented on St. Paul's words in Acts, "I don't consider my life worthy of esteem, provided that when I finish my race I've carried out the mission the Lord Jesus gave me -- and that was to bear witness to the Good News of God's grace."

          Many chiefs of state and other public figures from all parts of the globe sent their birthday wishes to the Pope throughout the day.

          L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican's daily paper, greeted the Pope with a front page wish: "May the Lord of history fulfill the future you have opened in your visit to Romania," referring, of course, to the Holy Father's long desire to be the first Roman pontiff to visit Russia, the seat of the largest Orthodox church in the world.

          On his 79th birthday, John Paul II received congratulations from German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, who was visiting the Vatican for the first time as head of state. According to Joaquin Navarro-Valls, Director of the Vatican Press Office, the discussion concerned "a panorama of the principal current issues, paying particular attention of the dramatic situation in the Balkans and the possibility to obtain a just and honorable solution to the problems in this region as soon as possible."

          After his 25-minute meeting with the Pope and the traditional photo session, Schröder met with Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican Secretary of State. The German Chancellor presented the Pope with a Dutch painting of the Cathedral of Krakow, and the Holy Father gave him a plaque with medallions from his pontificate.

          The German Chancellor came to Rome after his meeting in Bari, Italy, with the President of the Italian Council of Ministers, Massimo D'Alema. As expected, the Kosovo crisis was also the central topic of their conversation. In the closing press conference, D'Alema and Schröder admitted that they had been unable to prepare a common document to serve as a proposal for a rapid solution. This decision was made, in part, to avoid "confusions" and the multiplication of documents. The two leaders indicated their preference to work for a consensus on the recently drafted G8 document, which calls for U.N. involvement. ZE99051806

Articles provided through Catholic World News and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales and International Dossiers, Daily Dispatches and Features at ZENIT International News Agency. CWN, NE and ZENIT are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provide this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

May 19, 1999       volume 10, no. 97


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