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Pope backs Australian bishops on refugees, social justice

Pope John Paul II has used his ad limina address to the Australian Bishops to acknowledge the leadership of the Catholic Church in Australia in defence of asylum seekers and indigenous peoples, while urging strength in the face of growing secularism.

The Holy Father's address was the culmination of a two week visit to Rome by the Australian Bishops in which they delivered their five-yearly reports on their dioceses, visited various Vatican congregations and undertook spiritual pilgrimages.

He urged the Bishops to be fearless in their efforts to combat secularism in Australia and he particularly called for a renewed emphasis on inspiring Catholics to attend Mass on Sundays.

The Pope expressed appreciation for the work of priests and religious in Australia and said he was sure the Bishops' initiatives to "promote a culture of vocation" would bear fruit.

The Pope stressed the importance of family life and noted a particular concern at "the growing trend to equate marriage with other forms of cohabitation".

"I am pleased to acknowledge your steadfast efforts to uphold the uniqueness of marriage as a life-long covenant based on generous mutual giving and unconditional love," he told the Bishops.

"It is the Bishop's particular task to ensure that within civil society - including the media and entertainment industry sectors - the values of marriage and family life are supported and defended."

The Pope acknowledged "the noble contribution the Church in Australia makes to the attainment of social justice and solidarity".

"Your leadership in the defence of the fundamental rights of refugees, migrants and asylum seekers, and the developmental support offered to indigenous Australians, are shining examples of the 'commitment to practical and concrete love for every human being' to which I have called the whole Church."

The Pope concluded his message by bestowing his Apostolic Blessing on the Bishops and the priests, deacons, Religious and lay faithful of their dioceses.

Friday, the last day of the ad limina visit, also included individual audiences for three bishops from the southern half of New South Wales - Peter Ingham of Wollongong, Chris Toohey of Wilcannia-Forbes, and Gerard Hanna of Wagga Wagga.

Pope commends Australian bishops on social justice and urges strength against secularism (Australian Catholic Bishops Conference 27/3/04)
AUDIENCES (Vatican Information Service 26/3/04)

Pope John Paul II's Address to the Australian Bishops on their Ad Limina Visit (Australian Catholic Bishops Conference 29/3/04)
Letter of Australian Catholic Bishops Conference President Archbishop Francis Carroll to Pope John Paul II on occasion of Ad Limina Visit (Australian Catholic Bishops Conference 29/3/04)
John Paul II's Address to Australian Bishops: Pernicious Ideology of Secularism Has Found Fertile Ground
Pope blasts Aussie bishops (Sunday Mail 28/3/04)
Sunday Mass Is Key Witness for a Secular World, Says Pope (Zenit 26/3/04)
Pope tells Australian bishops to face challenges of secularism (Catholic News Service 26/3/04)
Heaven can wait until full-time (The Australian 29/3/04)
Sunday for Mass, not sport: Pope (Sydney Morning Herald/AAP 28/3/04)
A papal boot to football (The Age/AAP 28/3/04)
Put Mass before sport: Pope (The Australian 27/3/04)
Pray before play: Pope (The Age/AAP 27/3/04)
More praying, less playing on Sunday: Pope (Sydney Morning Herald/AAP 27/3/04)
Put Mass before sport: Pope (Daily Telegraph 27/3/04)
Sunday not for sport: Pope (The Age/AAP 27/3/04)
Pope reminds Australians of Sunday obligation (Catholic World News 26/3/04)
Papst: Sonntag ist 'Tag der christlichen Hoffnung' ( 28/3/04)
Pope says Sundays for God, not sports (Reuters/Yahoo 26/3/04)
Monson: Papal criticism for the typical sports fan (Salt Lake Tribune 28/3/04)
Pope's plan does Sundays service (Boston Herald 28/3/04)

Australian bishops honour Cardinal Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan (CathNews 26/3/04)
Papal audience for archbishop (Catholic Leader 28/3/04)
Australian Catholic Bishops Conference: ad limina 2004
Irish College reception follows Bishops' John Lateran Mass (CathNews 25/3/04)
Pope receives NSW bishops (CathNews 24/3/04)
Bishops host reception for Curial officials (CathNews 23/3/04)
Bishops take pilgrimage to Assisi">Bishops take pilgrimage to Assisi (CathNews 22/3/04)
Cardinal Pell takes possession of his Roman Church (CathNews 22/3/04)
Archbishop Carroll signals 'interesting' election campaign (CathNews 19/3/04)
Vatican Radio 105 Live | Audio of Archbishop Carroll interview (requires Real Player)
Archdiocese of Sydney: Maria Domenica Mazzarello
Australian Bishops concelebrate Mass before St Peter's tomb (CathNews 17/3/04)
Australian Bishops Begin Visit to Rome (Zenit 15/3/04)
John Paul II Sees Hope for Church in Netherlands (Zenit 15/3/04)
Bishops gather for spiritual pilgrimage (Southern Cross Mar 04)
Pope raises refugee question with Hobart archbishop (CathNews 16/3/04)
Audiences (Vatican Information Service 15/3/04)
Ad limina visit underway with Italian TV appearance (CathNews 16/3/04)
Australian bishops set for ad limina visit to Rome (CathNews 8/3/04)
Australian Catholic Bishops Conference

29 Mar 2004