VATICAN CITY, OCT. 8, 2004 ( John Paul II hopes the Year of the Eucharist serves to promote the "culture of the Eucharist" in Catholic communities, in order to witness to God's presence in the world.

The Pope articulates this objective in a new 30-page apostolic letter, "Mane Nobiscum Domine" (Stay with Us, Lord), in which he reinforces the importance of this sacrament for the life of Catholics.

The Holy Father suggests that the celebration of Sunday Mass be intensified, as well as Eucharistic adoration outside of Mass, the rosary and Eucharistic processions, especially on the feast of Corpus Christi.

John Paul II believes that the above are ways of "witnessing with greater force the presence of God in the world." Therefore, he asks Catholics not to "be afraid to speak of God and to be proud to manifest "the signs of the faith."

Cardinal Francis Arinze, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, presented the document to journalists today.

He explained that in those dioceses where a procession might cause problems, in particular where Catholics are a minority, it's up to the bishops to decide the most appropriate ways to practice these manifestations of faith.

"Anyway, we have nothing to hide," the Nigerian cardinal said. "In my Church, we feel proud to block the traffic with our processions."

This culture of the Eucharist implies a public presence of the faith, the Pope states: "It is a mistake to think that a public reference to the faith can affect the just autonomy of the state and of civil institutions, or that it might even encourage attitudes of intolerance."

John Paul II emphasizes the etymological value of the word Eucharist ("to give thanks") and says that "whoever learns to give thanks may be a martyr like Christ crucified, but never an executioner."

It is urgent, he adds, that this "thanksgiving" take place especially "in our secularized culture, which breathes the forgetfulness of God and cultivates the self-sufficiency of man."