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Pope asks for prayers before start of annual retreat

Pope John Paul II appealed to the faithful worldwide to join him in prayer this week as he cancels all public meetings and audiences and joins his aides in the Roman curia for his annual retreat.

"May the attentive Virgin render fruitful for us all these days of silence, meditation and intense communion with Christ," he said on Sunday before bidding farewell to the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square to pray the Angelus.

This year, the meditations for the Spiritual Exercises have been entrusted to Monsignor Bruno Forte, a member of the International Theological Commission. He was the principal writer of the document Memory and Reconciliation: The Church and the Faults of the Past, and is president of the School of Theology of Southern Italy, in Naples.

The retreat will end next Saturday. Pope Pius XI introduced the tradition of Spiritual Exercises in the Roman Curia in 1929. With few exceptions, they were held every first week of Advent. Paul VI transferred them to the first week of Lent.

John Paul II Asks for Prayers Before Start of Annual Retreat (Zenit 29/2/04)

Pope Wants Lent to Be a "Contest of Solidarity" With Children (Zenit 29/2/04)
Haitians Urged to Do What They Must (Zenit 29/2/04)
Catholics Can't Back Laws Contrary to Life, Insists Pope (Zenit 29/2/04)
Pope, Curia begin annual Lenten Retreat (Catholic World News 1/3/04)
Build a peaceful, unified and reconciled society (Vatican Information Service 28/2/04)
Holy Father resumes tradition of visiting Roman parishes (Vatican Information Service 28/2/04)
Attack on Church causes Italian political furor (Catholic World News 1/3/04)

2 Mar 2004