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POPE, BISHOPS PRAY FOR MARY'S PROTECTION

VATICAN, Oct. 9, 00 (CWNews.com) -- The largest meeting of Catholic bishops since Vatican II concluded on Sunday, October 8, when Pope John Paul II-- surrounded by 80 cardinals and more than 1,500 bishops-- solemnly prayed for the protection of the Virgin Mary over the entire world.  
With a large congregation also present in St. Peter's Square, the Holy Father directed attention to the famous statue of Our Lady of Fatima, which had been brought to Rome specifically for the event.
"Today we wish to confide the future that awaits us to you," the Pope said in his prayer to the Virgin; "we ask you to accompany us along the way." 
In his prayer for Mary's protection, Pope John Paul observed that mankind today has acquired "extraordinary powers of intervention" over the physical world, and even over "the very sources of life." These powers, he observed, could be used to "make the world a garden, or reduce it to a pile of ashes." The choice, he said, is between acceptance of moral law, or "science that accepts no limits," and therefore threatens human dignity.  
With humanity facing this important crossroads, the Pope affirms, "O Holy Virgin, our hope for salvation is entirely and solely in your Son Jesus." He prayed that "all men will discover Christ, the light of the world and its only Savior."
 In his prayer, the Pope implored the Virgin's intercession on behalf "of all men, beginning with the weakest." He specifically called upon Mary to help the poor, the weak, and the sick, and to rally broken families.  
Prior to this ceremony, the Pope led the assembled bishops in praying the Rosary, again making their prayer before the Fatima statue. Each decade of the rosary was led by a cardinal, accompanied by a family from one of the five continents. For the last part of the Rosary, a radio link allowed the faithful in Rome to pray along with the Carmelite nuns of Coimbra, Portugal, a convent near Fatima, where Sister Lucia-- the sole surviving Fatima seer-- now lives.

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