12/08/2004, 00.00
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Pope commends Iraq and the world to the Immaculate's protection

Celebrating the 150th anniversary of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, the Pope spoke about the attacks in Mosul calling for 'reconciliation and peace' in Iraq. In the morning, he presided over the Eucharistic celebration in St Peter's.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – John Paul II has called for the intercession of the Immaculate Virgin for the "dear people of Iraq". In the Marian prayer of the Angelus, he expressed his "spiritual closeness" to the Christian faithful when he spoke about yesterday's attacks against an Armenian Catholic church and the Chaldean Bishop's Palace in Mosul.

Before the Angelus, the Pope referred to the 150th anniversary of the proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, a Marian feast day celebrated today.

Here are the Pope's remarks ahead of the Marian prayer:

"Tota pulchra es, Maria!

"One hundred and fifty years ago, on December 8, 1854, Blessed Pius IX proclaimed the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin.

"The privilege of being preserved from original sin means that She was the first one to be redeemed by her Son. Her sublime beauty, a reflection of that of Christ, is a sign for all believers that Divine Grace shall win over sin and death.

"The Immaculate Conception is like a beacon of light that has guided humanity in every age. At the beginning of the third millennium, this beacon will guide us to believe and hope in God, in His salvation and in eternal life. It lights the way of a Church committed to a new evangelisation.

This afternoon, in the traditional ceremony of paying homage to the statue of the Virgin in Piazza di Spagna, I shall commend the city of Rome and the world to Her, Immaculate Mother of the Word made Man. To her powerful intercession we now turn to recite the Angelus with filial confidence."

After the Angelus Giovanni Paolo II said:

"Yesterday evening an Armenian Catholic church and the Chaldean Bishop's Palace were destroyed in Mosul, Iraq. I feel 'spiritually close' to the faithful distressed by such attacks and beg the Lord through the intercession of the Immaculate Virgin to finally bring reconciliation and peace to the dear people of Iraq."

The mass in St Peter's Basilica

At 9:30 am, John Paul II presided over the solemn celebration of the Eucharist before the entire College of Cardinals. In his homily, the Pope underlined the meaning of the feast and dogma of the Immaculate Conception proclaimed 150 years ago:

"The Immaculate Conception of the Mother of the Redeemer," he said, "is a sublime deed of the Most Holy Trinity. In the bull Ineffabilis Deus, Pius IX said that the Almighty decided 'in a one stroke Mary's origins and the incarnation of Divine Knowledge' (Pii IX Pontificis Maximi Acta, Pars prima, p. 559)."

"The Virgin's 'Yes' to the Angel's announcement is rooted in our earthly condition as a humble act of compliance with Divine Will to save humanity, not from but in History. Preserved from original sin, the 'New Eve' was rewarded in a unique way by Christ the intermediary and redeemer."

"The first to be redeemed by Her Son, fully sharing in his Holiness, She is all the Church wants and hopes to be. She is the eschatological icon of the Church."

This morning as in others, the Pope commended the fate of the world to the protection of the Virgin Mary:

"To You, the Immaculate Virgin," John Paul II said, "predestined by God above all other beings to be the advocate and model of Grace for His people, today I commend the whole Church. May You guide His children on the pilgrimage of faith and make them more obedient and faithful to the Word of God!"

"May You accompany every Christian on the journey towards conversion and holiness, in the struggle against sin and in the search for true beauty, which is a reflection of Divine Beauty!"

"May You also achieve peace and salvation for all peoples!"

"May the Eternal Father, who wanted You to be the Immaculate Mother of the Redeemer, renew in our times the portents of His merciful love through You. Amen!"

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