DAILY CATHOLIC    FRI-SAT-SUN     May 15, 1998     vol. 9, no. 95

from a CATHOLIC perspective

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          VATICAN (CWNews.com) -- On Wednesday, May 13, which marked the anniversary of the 1981 attempt on his life, Pope John Paul II again told a Vatican audience that he owed his survival to the intercession of Our Lady of Fatima. Meanwhile his would-be assassin, Mehmet Ali Agca, issued a statement from his prison cell, saying, "the most important thing is my freedom." And Sara-- the baby whom the Pope was reaching out to embrace when the bullets struck-- said the event had "shaped my life."

          At his regular weekly public audience, the Holy Father-- who is approaching his 78th birthday-- offered his thanks to all the faithful who had prayed for him on the day of the attack, and mentioned his special filial devotion to the Virgin of Fatima. He repeated the aspiration which he had used to begin his pontificate: "Totus tuus, Maria!"

          Agca, who is serving a life sentence, has reasoned that since in fact he did not kill anyone, who should now be released. His jailers report that he has been a "model prisoner."

          Sara-- whose name has not been made public, but who is now a young woman of 18-- told an Italian television audience that it was "an honor" to have been partially responsible for the Pope's survival. John Paul had leaned over to hand her back to her mother when Agca, partially spoiling the aim of his attacker.

          At a liturgy also on Wednesday, the Holy Father voiced his regrets that bishops from mainland China had been barred by the Beijing government from attending the sessions, and expressed his hope that the Church in China would be "authorized to have more contacts with the universal Church." The Pope also pointed out that Asia has a special place in the Church, as the place where Jesus walked on earth, and emphasized that the salvation won by Christ is offered equally to all of the world's peoples.

          The Holy Father presided today-- the feast of St. Matthew-- at a Eucharistic liturgy which marked the formal closing of the synod assembly. The Asian synod had opened in Rome on April 19.

          In his homily, as he discussed the challenges that face the Church in Asia, the Pope explained, "I cannot fail to mention the Chinese nation, which is the most numerous." But he thanked the Catholics of that country who-- despite oppression-- have remained loyal to the Holy See.

          The Pope thanked all of the Asian bishops for their contributions to the synod, and observed that it was in Asia that Jesus had wrought the work of "salvation for all peoples."

          The closing liturgy of the synod included a variety of Asian elements. The Prayers of the Faithful were read by Chinese, Hindi, Thai, Filipino, and Japanese Catholics; the music was predominantly Asia, including a Tamil chorale at the entry procession and a Gloria from the Philippines. The Gospel was read according to the Syro-Malabar rite, which is found mainly in southern India.

          The Pope, alluding to the role of Asia in the development of the early Church, commented that the Asian synod could be viewed as "a sort of appendix to the Acts of the Apostles."

Articles provided through Catholic World News Service.
CWN is not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provides this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

May 15, 1998       volume 9, no. 95


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