Exhortation "Church in Oceania" Published on Internet

Includes Conclusions of 1998 Synod

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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 22, 2001 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II made cyberhistory today when he published an official document on Internet, speeding it along to the communities it was addressed to — on the other side of the world.

The document, the apostolic exhortation «Ecclesia in Oceania» («The Church in Oceania»), includes the conclusions of that continent´s Synod of Bishops, held in Rome in 1998.

After signing the document, the Holy Father, with obvious satisfaction, went to a computer containing the e-mail addresses of the dioceses of Oceania. At the click of a button, the document was sent to its recipients.

The applause of several hundred cardinals, bishops, religious, priests and faithful of Oceania resounded in Clementine Hall. Roman Curia officials were also on hand.

John Paul II said he would have preferred to visit Oceania, to physically hand out the document.

«But it was not to be!» he said. «Therefore, the Pacific comes to the Bishop of Rome.»

The Holy Father then recalled the weeks during which the bishops of Oceania met to analyze the task of evangelization undertaken by missionaries of the not-so-distant past.

John Paul II said that the synod confirmed that the peoples of Oceania, its natives and immigrants, are the real wealth of the continent of scattered islands. Catholics make up 27% of the continent´s 30 million inhabitants.

In the face of the political and economic problems of Oceania´s peoples, the bishops were not discouraged, the Holy Father continued. Instead, they understood more clearly that the Holy Spirit is calling the Church to a new evangelization, he said.

«A new missionary adventure that is rooted in the contemplation of the face of Christ, the rich legacy of the Great Jubilee,» the Pope explained.

«May there be among all the baptized and in every corner of Oceania a great and new impetus of contemplation!» he said.

John Paul II told the Christians of Oceania that, despite the distance and their minority situation, they are not alone.

«That ´immense multitude of witnesses,´ which makes up the Communion of Saints, surrounds you,» he said, and at their heart is Mary, to whom he entrusted the new apostolic exhortation.

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