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Suffering pope relies on God and collaborators

At the end of a year marked by increasing physical suffering, Pope John Paul II said he relies more and more on the help of God and on his collaborators to fulfill his mission in the church and the world.

"The passing of the years makes one feel ever more strongly the need for the help of God and the help of others," the pope said yesterday during his annual pre-Christmas meeting with members of the Roman Curia, the church's central administrative offices, as well as cardinals living in Rome and members of the papal household.

Catholic News Service reports the pope thanked them "for the constant harmony with which you work with me in serving the universal church, each one fulfilling the task entrusted to him."

Pope John Paul, having difficulty pronouncing the words, read the beginning and end of his message, while an aide read the rest.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and dean of the College of Cardinals, thanked the pope and offered Christmas greetings to him on behalf of the others.

"We thank Your Holiness for your unshakable faith, for your fidelity to your mission of confirming your brothers and sisters in the faith, for your generosity and courage in following Christ day by day, for your patience in carrying the yoke of Christ, completing in your flesh that which is lacking in the suffering of Christ on behalf of his body, the church," Cardinal Ratzinger said.

The pope's pre-Christmas speech to the Curia usually is a review of the past year. Although he did mention his trips to Bern in Switzerland and Lourdes in France and major ecumenical meetings, he focused on the meaning of Christmas and on the Year of the Eucharist.

"Each year the approaching Christmas festivities give us feelings of serenity and peace," he said. "The birth of Jesus is an event that touches the heart."

The pope told his closest collaborators that "the divine baby we adore in the Nativity scene is Emmanuel, the God with us and really present in the sacrament of the altar," the Eucharist.

The amazing action of God who became flesh in Bethlehem "is renewed constantly in the eucharistic sacrament, which, for this reason, is the source of the life and holiness of the church," the pope said.

Pope John Paul said that as Christmas approaches he is particularly aware of "the expectations and hopes of the church and of humanity."

"Our hearts do not fear in the face of difficulties because they have faith in you, Baby of Bethlehem, who came into our midst out of love. Help everyone recognize you and welcome you as the Redeemer of humanity and the Prince of Peace," the pope prayed.

Suffering pope tells collaborators he relies on them, God for help (Catholic News Service 21/12/04)
Ailing Pope seeks help ( 21/12/04)
Pope offers Christmas greetings to Curia (Catholic World News 21/12/04)

The Holy Father
The Roman Curia

Cardinal Danneels says Pope's health "seriously weakened" (CathNews 17/8/04)
Stronger Pope thanks God for Lourdes pilgrimage (CathNews 19/8/04)
Pope Turns 84 (CathNews 19/5/04)

21 Dec 2004