WEDNESDAY     April 19, 2000    vol. 11, no. 78    SECTION TWO

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    WORLDWIDE NEWS & VIEWS with a Catholic slant:

  • Record breaking crowds flooding Vatican City this week
  • Apostolic Administrator of Kazakhstan gets green light from government
  • Church effective in getting 3,000 prisoners released in Madagascar for Jubilee Year
  • Gonzaga University stands strong against culture of death in adhering to Ex corde Ecclesiae
  • Cuba condemned for treatment of its citizens by UN
  • Historic document signing will preserve countless documents for all posterity
  • Latest ShipLogs of visitors sailing on the DailyCATHOLIC


       Today's liturgy is the last before we head into the climactic Easter Triduum beginning with Holy Thursday tomorrow during this most intense and sacred week of the liturgical year. The theme of the Gospel today centers around the betrayal of Judas and brings clearly to mind Our Lord's words in Mark 36: "For what does it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, but suffer the loss of his own soul?" When we say "no" to God and insist on doing our own will and striving for worldly pleasures, we are no better than the Iscariot as you'll see in the meditation today. For the readings, liturgies, and special meditation for Wednesday in Holy Week, see DAILY LITURGY.

    Wednesday, April 19, 2000

        First Reading: Isaiah 50: 4-9
        Psalms: Psalm 69: 8-10, 14, 21-22, 33-34
        Gospel Reading: Matthew 26: 14-25


    What price is it worth to jeopardize Eternal Life?

         Would we chance failing to gain Eternal Life for a million dollars? How about a billion dollars? After all Judas Iscariot forfeited his opportunity to experience everlasting bliss for a mere thirty pieces of silver. We might say 'no way would we ever do anything like that...there's no earthly price we could be paid to betray Jesus.' Yet do we realize we do everyday when we opt for worldly pleasures over the rigorous but rewarding task of daily prayer, sacrifice, fasting and daily Mass. When we choose to see this movie or that television show which we know in our heart offends Jesus and His Immaculate Pure Mother Mary do we realize we are contributing to our own demise and growing closer to being Judas-like than Christ-like? When we speak against others or rudely to others do we realize we are pawns for satan? When we put our own interests before God's do we realize we are heading down the primrose path toward hell?

          Unfortunately, the politically correct thing today is to downplay hell and the devil, to play up that God is all merciful and will allow anything. Wrong. True He is all merciful and will forgive anything, but He will not allow anything. This is where we have to be on our guard. Too many are advocating that this is okay, or that is okay. Turn the clock back thirty years. What would we have said if we heard there was nudity and illicet sex in the movies, even on TV? Would our stomachs be turned with all the violence on the tube or on the Hollywood celluloid today? What would our reaction be to the idea of advocating abortion and condoms, of embracing homosexuality as normal...even to accepting same-sex unions which they brazenly call "marriage?" We would be indignant and in shock. Then why aren't we reacting the same way today? Because it's not politically correct to correct others. We can't rock the boat...just let bygones be bygones and all that garbage psychobabble that is definitely taking our society into a Sodom and Gomorrah-like culture...the culture of death as Pope John Paul II calls it. The Holy Father is one pillar who is not afraid to go against the wave and rock boats the world over. And we need to follow his example and join him for his way is Christ's way...the only way! True that way leads straight to the Way of the Cross but that's what being Catholic is all about. It's not the rewards and adulation of this life that counts, but the acceptance and pleasing of God that highlights our itinerary as we map out our Heavenly destination.

          But this rendezvous with Christ and His Church Triumphant can only be achieved if we take seriously our role as the Church Militant and speak out against atrocities and apathy toward God's Laws and His Holy Church which has become the prime target for bashing in the late 90's. We must ask ourselves when confronted with this movie or that song, this person or that situation, would Jesus and Mary approve? Would they sit and watch it with us? If not, what are we doing there? When we give in to the world's ways, when we blame everyone but ourselves we are contributing to the purse that betrayed Christ. We make ourselves no better than the Iscariot. Let us not be the ones whom like Judas said "Surely it is not I, Rabbi" and then hear the fateful words of Jesus confirming our worst fear: "It is you who have said it" (Matthew 26: 25).

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    WORLDWIDE NEWS & VIEWS with a Catholic slant:

      Record number of Pilgrims pouring into Rome treated to special Passion play in St. Peter's Square

         This Jubilee Year Holy Week in Rome has set all time attendance records, affording over a half million pilgrims the opportunity of individual confession and absolution as priests around the world are hearing confessions around the clock. On Tuesday evening the overswelling pilgrim crowd witnessed a performance of Christ's Passion through the efforts of the "Sezze Process" which uses over 700 actors to enact 43 Old and New Testament religious themes. What wonders to behold this Jubilee Year with such a marvelous performance and the Holy See serving as the ideal backdrop. continued inside

    700 Actors Perform 43 Biblical Scenes

        VATICAN CITY, APR 18 ( Rome has experienced a very moving Holy Tuesday. Dozens of priests have heard confessions in all the major Basilicas: St. Peter's in the Vatican, St. John Lateran, St. Mary Major, and St. Paul Outside the Walls, giving pilgrims from around the world, who have come to Rome for Holy Week, the possibility of receiving individual absolution. A total of 500,000 pilgrims are expected this week in the Eternal City.

        The pilgrims' Jubilee evening prayer at 7:30 p.m. broke all records in terms of attendance, perhaps because immediately afterwards, the "Sezze Process" took place in St. Peter's Square. The Procession is one of the oldest in Italy representing Christ's Passion. According to tradition, it was first organized by St. Charles of Sezze in the 17th century. Sezze is an Italian town located about one and a half hours by car from Rome.

        On Good Friday every year, the town's "Passion of Christ" association brings together 700 actors and extras dressed in period costumes to perform scenes of profound religious meaning. The procession recreates 43 Old and New Testament scenes, which are transformed into veritable "religious theater" on the streets. The Sezze Procession was last seen in Rome during the 1950 Jubilee. On that occasion it performed in the Imperial Fora. ZE00041807

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      Kazakhstan Government gives Church further freedom to minister to its flock

         The Apostolic Administrator of Atyrau in Kazakhstan Father Janusz Kaleta has revealed that he has received government approval which will make his apostolic work much easier. There are about 330,000 Catholics among 15 million residents of the country which is descended from Poles, Lithuanians and Germans deported by Josef Stalin. Religious freedom was granted between Kazakhstan and the Vatican in 1998 and this recent agreement furthers the work of the Church to its hungry flock in this area of the former Soviet Union. continued inside


        MUNICH, APR 18 ( The Apostolic Administration of Atyraü, Kazakhstan, has just received government approval, according to its Polish apostolic administrator, Fr. Janusz Kaleta. He explained to "Aid to the Church in Need" that this change will make his apostolic work much easier.

        The Vatican erected the Administration (the precursor of a diocese) in August of last year. Fr. Kaleta has been in Kazakhstan since the end of September. He has already started construction of a chapel and parish center in Atyraü. Before now, in the area of the Apostolic Administration (about the same area as all of Germany), there was exactly one parish, in the city of Aqtöbe (Aktyubinsk).

        About half of Kazakhstan's residents are ethnic Kazakhs, who are mostly Sunni Muslims. The rest of the population, mostly Russians, generally belongs to the Russian Orthodox Church. There are about 330,000 Catholics among the 15 million residents of the country, most of whom are descendants of Poles, Lithuanians, and Germans deported by Stalin. A 1998 agreement between Kazakhstan and the Vatican guarantees Catholics relative freedom in practicing their religion. ZE00041821

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      3,000 prisoners released in Madagascar for Jubilee Year through efforts of the Church in spirit of reconciliation

         The banner of "Apostle of Peace" which the Holy Father John Paul II wears, has won the freedom of 3,000 Madagascar prisoners following a plea by local Catholic leaders who proposed that the Jubilee Year should also be applied to prisons. The effort of the Holy See, and the appointment of Trinitarian Father Angelo Buccarello working with Cardinal Armand Razafindratandra has led to the release of many of these prisoners, mainly women and minors. Each movement toward reconciliation and peace may seem microscopic on a worldwide scale, but it can never be a "minor" occasion in the eyes of God Who cares about each of His sheep. continued inside.


        ANTANANARIVO, Madagascar ( - President Didier Ratsiraka of Madagascar has ordered the release of 3,000 prisoners following a plea made by local Catholic leaders that the Jubilee should also to be applied to prisons.

        The gesture was a response to Pope John Paul II's call in the Apostolic Letter Tertio Millennio Adveniente that Christians should give special attention to the situation of prison inmates. Those released include women and minors. At the central Antanimora-Tana jail in Antananarivo alone, 500 were granted amnesty.

        The release was the result of efforts by the Catholic Organization for Spiritual Assistance in Prisons, led by Trinitarian Father Angelo Buccarello appointed by the bishops' conference. The missionary himself went with Cardinal Armand Razafindratandra of Antananarivo to ask the president to grant the bishops' requests.

        "This is a wonderful result," Father Buccarello said, "but we could have obtained more. The problem is that in Madagascar two out of three prisoners are awaiting trial, some have been waiting as long as twelve years." Father Buccarello, 58, born in Italy, has worked in Madagascar for thirty years. "The bishops had asked for more in their document, but this is already a significant gesture of reconciliation for the Holy Year," he said.

        The bishops had issued a letter for the Holy Year entitled "Forgiveness and Reconciliation" calling for the release of minors, for those who have already completed half their sentence, and for men over 60 and women over 65. They asked for a reduction of life imprisonment, death sentences to be commuted to prison terms, and the reduction of sentences for pregnant women and women with young children.

        The document also denounced inhumane living conditions in overcrowded jails: 20,000 are detained in spaces for half the number. "Food is lacking in both quality and quantity and prison staffs have little or no training," the bishops said.

        The bishops' conference also said prison inmates live in situations of "degrading promiscuity": First offenders are detained with recidivists, minors with adults, making the prisons into a "novitiate for violence and recidivists." The bishops also denounced cases of death due to starvation of persons "considered innocent" and violence on the part of prison police: "Guards treat prisoners like wild beasts."

        The bishops also addressed prisoners in their letter: "We want to open for you the door of charity and hope and those among you who will be released should prepare for the event. Be grateful for the gesture, show yourselves worthy. May this forgiveness be a source of ongoing strength to guide you in a new life."

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      Gonzaga digs in like a bulldog to oppose Planned Parenthood appearance

        Three cheers for Gonzaga University! While other Jesuit institutions have courted pro-aborts Father Robert J. Spitzer, the president of the Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington - the alma mater of Bing Crosby - has taken steps to curtail the visit of a guest speaker from Planned Parenthood and his actions have provoked careless remarks by some uninformed students who had better study their faith rather than complaining that their academic freedom was undermined. Fr. Spitzer is rightly following the Holy Father's decree in his Apostolic Constitution Ex corde Ecclesiae and placing the students' spiritual education before any political correctness. While PP and their puppets whimper and whine about being denied access, all Catholis should applaud Fr. Spitzer and Gonzaga for standing up to one of the foremost organizations promoting the culture of death and directly opposed to Catholicism. continued inside.

    President Cites Actions Contrary to Catholic and Jesuit Identity

        SPOKANE, WASHINGTON, APR 18 ( Fr. Robert J. Spitzer moved to protect the Catholic identity of Gonzaga University by cancelling a scheduled speech by a representative of Planned Parenthood to the women's studies club. The student group had invited Laurel Kelley to speak on reproductive freedom, clinic bombings, and the presidential election.

        The President's action has raised up strong reactions on both sides. Some students and faculty feel that by preventing this talk, Fr. Spitzer has compromised their academic freedom.

        For Fr. Spitzer, however, the decision has nothing to do with academic freedom, but rather with the school's Catholic and Jesuit character. In a statement on the Gonzaga web page, he explains, "Our Guest Speakers Policy states, 'The President reserves the right to deny usage of Gonzaga's facilities to any person or groups of persons whose values are blatantly contrary to those of the University or whose presence would, for some reason, seriously embarrass or compromise the University.' In as much as Gonzaga is a Catholic and Jesuit University, and Planned Parenthood's actions are blatantly contrary to this Catholic and Jesuit identity, I exercised my right as President to deny usage of Gonzaga's facilities to them."

        Since Planned Parenthood is one of the largest abortion providers in the world, their mission is simply irreconcilable with a Catholic University.

        Others have criticized the President for acting without first consulting other faculty members. However, Fr. Spitzer pointed out that the event was only publicized by means of handwritten announcements on the chalkboards, which did not identify the sponsoring group. "It took Student Life the better part of a day to identify who was inviting Planned Parenthood to use Gonzaga's facilities."

        Because of this, the cancellation could not be publicized ahead of time, and the Associate Dean of Students had to tell the students and reporters gathered for the talk of the University's decision in the matter. Fr. Spitzer explained, "When the Student Life representative arrived at the room where the talk was to be held, he was confronted by the press and had no options except to respond that the speech had been canceled. It is difficult for me to see how I could have discussed my position with the group extending the invitation when they seemed to have taken every step possible to avoid detection." ZE00041820

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      Cuba condemned by UN over human rights and religious issues

         The UN Commission on Human Rights on Tuesday approved a resolution condeming Cuba for their affronts against human rights, repressing political speech and oppressing religious groups despite promises to the Holy Father during his historic trip two years ago to the communist island in the Caribbean. Many have protested that Elian Gonzalez should not be returned to Cuba until Cuba complies. Naturally, many Cubans on Castro's cue protested in front of the Czech Republic Embassy in Havana where the vote was rendered. continued inside.


        GENEVA ( - The UN Commission on Human Rights on Tuesday approved a resolution condemning Cuba for trampling human rights, repressing political speech, and oppressing religious groups.

        About 100,000 Cubans marched in a government organized protest outside the Czech Republic Embassy in Havana following the vote.

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      Historic document signed between Italy and Vatican that will preserve tons of archived materials for all posterity

         On Tuesday a historic document was signed in Rome between the Italian Minister for Cultural Patrimony and Cardinal Camillo Ruini, President of the Italian Episcopal Conference, which collectively protects over 100,000 archives and 4,600 libraries of incalculable historic importance. This signing insures that the Italian government will work cohesively with the Vatican in preserving and making available over 27 million volumes, 112,000 manuscripts, 2,500 illuminated codices and 200,000 rare books. Our question: Who would ever have time to read it all!?! continued inside.

    Will Offer Unique Cultural Patrimony to World

        ROME, APR 18 ( This morning Cardinal Camillo Ruini, president of the Italian Episcopal Conference; and Giovanna Melandri, Italian Minister for Cultural Patrimony, signed an important agreement for conservation and consultation in regard to archives of historical interests and libraries belonging to ecclesiastical institutions. The agreement covers some 100,000 archives and 4,600 libraries of incalculable historic and artistic value.

        Archbishop Giancarlo Santi, director of the Italian Office for Ecclesiastical Cultural Goods, explained that the agreement between the government and the Episcopal Conference "defines some general principles and assumes some commitments by the State on one hand, and by the Church on the other, to make possible the preservation and effective use of ecclesiastical archives and libraries, in keeping with rules that are valid for the whole of Italy."

        The government commits itself to train personnel to guarantee better organization and consultation The Church, in turn, will open the consultation to the public and establish appropriate hours.

        The patrimony includes not only artistic and religious treasures, but also riches of great social, economic, and political utility. According to a 1995 count, these archives and libraries contain 27 million volumes, 112,000 manuscripts, 2,500 illuminated codices, and 200,000 rare books.

        This agreement has also led the Italian government to allocate additional funds for the maintenance not just of ecclesiastic archives and libraries but also those of the State and private institutions. ZE00041808

         For more headlines and articles, we suggest you go to the Catholic World News site at the CWN home page and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales and the Dossiers, features and Daily Dispatches from ZENIT International News Agency CWN, NE and ZENIT are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC, but provide this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

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    April 19, 2000     volume 11, no. 78
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