Jesus' Birth Brings Joy, Pope Tells Roman Parish

Faithful Visit Their Bishop at the Vatican

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 15, 2002 ( John Paul II presented Jesus’ birth as a «joyful announcement» in the face of «the difficulties of life, the uncertainties and fears for the future.»

The Pope made that observation when he met today at the Vatican with the faithful of a parish from the outskirts of Rome. In a simple ceremony in Paul VI Hall, some 2,000 members of St. John Nepomucene Neumann Parish gathered for a Mass celebrated by the Holy Father.

This was the second time that a parish of Rome came to the Vatican to visit its Bishop. St. Pudentiana Parish began the practice on Dec. 1.

John Paul II had visited more than 300 parishes before a knee ailment forced him to curtail his walking. The faithful of his diocese now come to him.

«Rejoice always in the Lord,» the Pope said to the parishioners during the homily. «Before the unavoidable difficulties of life, the uncertainties and the fears for the future, before the temptation to discouragement and disappointment, the Word of God always proposes again the ‘joyful announcement’ of salvation.»

«May this joy, a pre-announcement of the joy of Christmas that is already near, be able to inundate the heart of each one of you and all the realms of our existence,» the Holy Father added.

The 2-year-old parish, named after the Bohemian-born Redemptorist (1811-1860) who became bishop of Philadelphia, still does not have its own church. Located in Montespaccato, a poor and densely populated neighborhood, the parish is home to many immigrants from the Third World and Eastern Europe.

«Do not be discouraged,» the Holy Father told the parishioners. «Above all, take care of the children and adolescents so that they are not left without attention, friendship and trust. Support families, especially young ones, the poor, and those in difficulty.»

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