|5th International Day of Prayer, Amsterdam 2003|
After the Bishop of the Haarlem-Amsterdam Diocese, His Excellency Jozef Marianus Punt, made a spontaneous welcoming address in four different languages to all those present, he read with visible joy the greetings from bishops all over the world which had arrived in the preceding days by mail, fax, and e-mail. Yes, the Lady of All Nations is really a worldwide issue!
Once again, we received letters of salutation from all continents and many countries from cardinals and bishops who said they would be united with us spiritually for this Day of Prayer.
From the archdiocese of Newark and Kansas City in the USA, Archbishop John J. Myers and Archbishop James Patrick Keleher sent their regards. Archbishop Keleher expressed his conviction that NOW the time has come in which the Lady of All Nations must lead the nations together.
From South America, the Archbishop of the Greek-Melchite Church in Sao Paolo, Brazil, His Excellency Fares Maakaroun, sent his special blessings. He shared with us a nice experience he had here at the Second International Day of Prayer. We will hear about it later.
Honduras in Central America is represented through a lovely address from His Excellency Geraldo Scarpone, the Bishop of Comayagua. He would like to pray with all of us for the grace that the Lady of All Nations may once again be the ONE who preserves us from a world catastrophe.
From the other side of the world, Australia, the Archbishop of Perth, His Excellency James Barry Hickey, sent heart-felt greetings with an expression of special joy about the recognition of the authenticity of the messages of Amsterdam which I issued last year.
From the huge continent Asia, we received a greeting from the hearts of two bishops in Sri Lanka. Bishop Raymond Peiris and Bishop Joseph Kingsley asked for prayers for their land which, full of hope, has begun the path to peace. We received several letters from Indonesia as well. The Bishop of Bandar Lampung guaranteed his special solidarity because in his country a large sanctuary has been consecrated to the Lady of All Nations where in May and October thousands of people come to visit.
From the Ivory Coast, His Eminence Bernard Cardinal Agré wrote a salutation to me for all of us. To his joy, the two National Days of Prayer which were held there have produced great fruits. The stream of pilgrims to the Lady of All Nations is constantly growing. He joyfully shared that this June he celebrates the 50th anniversary of his priesthood. He asks us to pray, therefore, in thanksgiving for all of the graces received. His greeting included other bishops from the Ivory Coast, from Burundi, Ghana, Rwanda and Zimbabwe.
China has drawn attention in the last weeks because of the dangerous lung disease SARS. There is a reason why the bishops there cannot be here with us. However, His Excellency Andrew Tsien from the Taiwan Diocese, whom we know from previous visits, sends his deepest regards. He is having the messages translated into Chinese; and he expresses his great trust in the Mother of All Nations especially when it has to do with healing the wounds of China. The Auxiliary Bishop of Hong Kong, His Excellency John Tong, also sends his blessing.
We are especially happy about the greetings sent from the Orient, conveyed in the name Maronite Synod of Bishops, by His Excellency Roland Aboujaoudé, the secretary of Cardinal Sfeir who is the Patriarch of Antioch and the Whole Orient.
Christoph Cardinal Schonborn, Archbishop of Vienna, called on the telephone and said he rejoiced over the fruits the Day of Prayer and spreading the prayer card have brought. He extended a special greeting to you, Your Beatitude Ignace Moussa Cardinal Daoud.
At the last minute, we also received a greeting from His Excellency Virgil Bercea. He is the Bishop of the Greek Catholic Church of Oradea in Romania and he promised to be with us spiritually today in honoring Our Lady as the Mother of All Nations.