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VATICAN CITY---(November 23, 1998 - Radio Australia)---A three week meeting between Pope John Paul II and Catholic bishops from the South-Pacific region began Sunday in Rome.

The Pope has met synod representatives from around the world during the past two years to prepare Christians for the new millennium.

As Radio Australia correspondent Barbara McCarthy reports, the Pontiff is reminding all people that healing and reconciliation is the message for peace.

"Organizers say it's the first meeting of its kind.

"Thirty-eight Australian Bishops joined bishops from the Cook Islands Fiji New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and the Solomon Islands.

"The Synod of Bishops-Oceania will speak about their regions and the concerns they have in the lead up to the year 2000.

"Social and cultural issues are high on the agenda.

"The Pope has already met with synods from Europe, America, Africa and Asia.

"The gatherings in Rome are in preparation for the anniversary of 2,000 years since the birth of Christ."

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