THURSDAY     April 27, 2000    vol. 11, no. 83    SECTION THREE

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SECTION THREE Contents: Go immediately to the article:
  • New Zealand Bishops shock world by backing gay unions!
  • Scouts prepared for Supreme Court case over rights to ban gays
  • Cardinal Sodano in Brazil for 500th Anniversary
  • Ecuador to host Jubilee Eucharistic Congress in June
  • Bishops of Venezuela seek to sit down with president and his administration to stop attacks on Church
  • Catholic and Muslim leaders unite to solve crisis in Philippines
  • Pope to convene global summit on Third World Debt in Assisi in September
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  • WORLDWIDE NEWS & VIEWS with a CATHOLIC slant:


    NEW ZEALAND BISHOPS BACK PLANS FOR HOMOSEXUAL MARRIAGE

        WELLINGTON, New Zealand (CWNews.com) - The New Zealand bishops' conference this week added its approval of a government plan to grant same-sex couples the same legal rights enjoyed by married couples, in apparent contradiction to current teaching from the Vatican.

        The bishops said in a report to the Ministry of Justice they will support the registration system which will grant legal rights, including tax allowances, legal aid, and property entitlements, that married couples have, but opposed adoption by same-sex couples or access to "reproductive technology" to allow them to become parents.

        Opponents of the plan, including the Christian Heritage Party, were stunned by the bishops' acquiescence to the plan. The Rev. Graham Capill, leader of the party, said same-sex unions should be recognized in any form. "We are playing with semantics. To treat homosexual couples to a form of registration but not call them married is to give them the same status but not the same title," he said.

        In January, Pope John Paul II told European legislators that elevating homosexual relationships to a level with marriage was morally unacceptable. "I ask authorities to avoid any initiative which could favor or guarantee legal equality between the family and other forms of living together," he said.

        Last year, the Holy Father told the Pontifical Council for the Family, "In some countries it is sought to impose so-called 'de facto' unions upon society. 'De facto' unions between homosexuals represent a deplorable distortion of what should be the communion of love and life between man and woman in a reciprocal giving (which is) open to life," he said.

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      "Be prepared!" That's what the Boy Scout case is as it goes before U.S. Supreme Court in decision to ban gays

         While the New Zealand Bishops have caved to political correctness, the Boy Scouts of America steadfastly are resisting. Now it is before the United States Supreme Court in a case that would permit the Scouts to ban homosexuals from its organization. The issue is being taken seriously by several justices, agreeing with the Boy Scouts' attorney that they are a private non-profit organization, and to allow entry to everyone would be unconstitutional. The Scouts often put many more august organizations to shame because they strive to uphold God's Laws and proudly proclaim them. It will be an interesting and landmark decision considering that the word "freedom of religion" has lost much of its meaning in this growing culture of death society. continued inside.

    SUPREME COURT CONSIDERS BOY SCOUTS HOMOSEXUAL BAN

        WASHINGTON, DC (CWNews.com) - The US Supreme Court on Wednesday heard arguments in case determining whether the Boy Scouts of America can exclude homosexuals from volunteer leadership positions under the US Constitutions free speech and free assembly provisions.

        "This case is about the freedom of a voluntary organization to choose its own members," Boy Scout attorney George A. Davidson told the justices. He said scouting is "closely identified with traditional moral values." A volunteer assistant scoutmaster, James Dale, was dismissed from the BSA in 1990 after he revealed his homosexuality and joined a gay activist group.

        The New Jersey Supreme Court, citing state law banning discrimination in public accommodations based on sexual orientation, ruled last year the BSA's ban on homosexuals was illegal. But Davidson told the US Supreme Court today the state law violated the US Constitution.

        Several justices appeared to agree with Davidson. Must a Catholic organization admit Jews, Justice Stephen Breyer asked. "That seems odd," he said.

        The Boy Scouts contend that as a private, noncommercial organization, it has a constitutional right to select its own membership. The group says homosexuality is at odds with its oath and law, which require scouts and their adult leaders to be "morally straight" and "clean." The New Jersey court had rejected the argument saying it would allow "the expulsion of an individual solely because of his status as a homosexual -- an act of discrimination unprotected by the First Amendment freedom of speech."

        The federal court is expected to issue a ruling at the end of June.

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      Cardinal Sodano celebrates Brazil's Quintennial at site where Christianity was first brought to South America's shores 500 years ago

         Bringing with him a special Papal Message to the Brazilian Bishops, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano celebrated an outdoor Holy Mass on the beach in Porto Seguro, Brazil with 50,000 worshippers. He was in South America's largest country to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Portuguese explorer Pedro Alvares Cabral bringing Christianity to Brazil. In attendance were many ethnic groups including ancestors from the original Indian tribes first evangelized. Just prior to the Mass, Bishop Jayme Chemello offered a statement in the spirit of reconciliation and in the name of the Church asking forgiveness from Indians and Afro-Brazilians. A Matalaue native came forward and embraced the bishop in a sign of true reconciliation witnessed by all. continued inside.

    CARDINAL SODANO IN BRAZIL FOR 500TH ANNIVERSARY

        VATICAN (CWNews.com) -- Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Vatican Secretary of State, is in Brazil for celebrations of the 500th anniversary of the evangelization of that South American country.

        On April 26, Cardinal Sodano presided at ceremonies in Coroa Vermelha, near the spot where the first Mass was celebrated in Brazil on April 26, 1500. As the cardinal celebrated Mass, behind the altar was a 10-foot cross, erected on the site where the first cross was planted on Brazilian soil by the Franciscan missionary Henrique de Coimbra. An estimated 200,000 people participated in the services, despite a steady rainfall.

        In his homily, Cardinal Sodano said that today's Brazilians "owe much to the work of missionaries." While he conceded that some missionaries had been guilty of "disfiguring the face of Christ," the cardinal pointed out that the Church had also firmly opposed slavery, and protected the dignity of the indigenous tribes in Brazil.

        The celebration of the 500 years of Christian civilization was a major event in the public life of Brazil. April 26 was declared a national holiday, and President Marco Maciel attended the celebrations. However, some Indian leaders protested the events; a spokesman for the Matalaue tribe said that the holiday pointed toward "500 years of suffering, massacres, and devastation" that followed the Christian "invasion" of the land.

        Minutes before the Mass started, the president of the Brazilian Episcopate, Bishop Jayme Chemello, read a statement publicly requesting forgiveness from Indians and Afro-Brazilians. "In this Eucharist in which we remember the suffering, the massacres, the slavery of our black and Indian brothers and sisters; To the Indians and to all those taken from Africa as slaves, we do not cease to ask for forgiveness," the statement said.

        After the bishop finished his statement, a Matalaue native read a highly critical statement denouncing "500 years of suffering, massacre, devastation." After his statement, he embraced Bishop Chemello, symbolizing forgiveness.

        At the end of the Mass, Bishop Jose de Santana, of Eunapolis -- the diocese in which the Mass was held -- erected an image of Our Lady of Aparecida, Patroness of Brazil, for a brief time of prayer. At noon, the bells of all Catholic Churches in Brazil rang to celebrate the 500 years of evangelization.

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      Jubilee Eucharistic Congress in Ecuador on Feast of Corpus Christi to center on Jesus and Mary

         While Brazilians celebrate now, in Quito, Ecuador a Eucharistic Congress will be held from June 18-25 during which time the Solemnity of Corpus Christi will be celebrated. At this Congress, the theme will be "Jesus Christ, Through Mary, Bread of Life for the World." It will be a celebratory time for ordinations, First Communions, and of apostolates bestowed on priests and laity alike as well as vows of religious congregations being received by the presiding Auxiliary Bishop Julio Teran Dutari of Quito.continued inside.

    ECUADOR PREPARES GREAT JUBILEE FESTIVAL
    Eucharistic Congress Announced for Corpus Christi

        QUITO, ECUADOR, (ZENIT.org).- A Marian Eucharistic Congress is being organized in Quito, Ecuador, to coincide with the International Eucharistic Congress being held in Rome from June 18-25, the week that includes the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi).

        The event will have a decided liturgical dimension, given the large-scale Mass that will be celebrated on Sunday, June 18. The closing Mass will be held in the AUCAS Sports Club Stadium, in the south of the city, at 10 a.m. on Sunday, June 25, followed by a solemn procession with the image of the Blessed Virgin of Quinche.

        The theme of the Congress is "Jesus Christ, Through Mary, Bread of Life for the World." One of the objectives of the Congress is to promote theological reflection, by means of a Symposium that will be held in the Pontifical Catholic University of Ecuador. Other theological meetings, which are not strictly academic, are also being planned for high school and university students, as is catechesis among parishes.

        During the Congress, many children will make their First Communion, a priest will be ordained, ministries will be assigned to future priests and lay persons, and a group of religious will take their vows.

        The coordinator of the Congress, a great Jubilee festival of faith, is Auxiliary Bishop Julio Teran Dutari of Quito. Youth will be responsible for energizing the meeting and will celebrate their own Congress simultaneously. Several artistic and cultural events are included in the program. ZE00041803

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    VENEZUELA BISHOPS ASK PRESIDENT TO STOP ATTACKS ON CHURCH

        CARACAS (CWNews.com) - Venezuela's bishops today asked President Hugo Chavez to stop his verbal attacks on the Catholic Church and join them in building a climate of respect and dialogue in advance of next month's elections.

        In an open letter to Chavez, the bishops suggested the president sit down with them to end the attacks and recriminations. On a recent trip to Cuba, Chavez accused the Church of being an accomplice in the corruption of past governments. Meanwhile, the bishops have expressed concerns over the fairness of next month's elections, because the majority of election officials are hand-picked members of Chavez' own political party.

        Venezuelans will go to the polls May 28 as called for by a new constitution pushed through last year by Chavez. The constitution requires elections to "re-legitimize" most public offices including the presidency, governorships, and most local posts.

        Church leaders insist they aren't taking a political position but rather asking "the president to stop dividing the church into those who are with him or those who are against him, and therefore who are the devil," said Archbishop Ignacio Velasco of Caracas.

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      Religious leaders from both the Catholic Church and the Islam faith urge Philippine government to use caution in standoff with mountain terrorists in Basilan

         The sad saga continues as Catholic and Muslim religious leaders try desperately to seek an immediate cease-fire between government troops and Abu Sayyaf rebels in the Island of Basilan in the southern Philippines where they hold 27 Catholic hostages, a result of demands that all Christians get out of the area leaving it solely to the Muslims. Two Catholic men have already been beheaded and the terrorists have threatened more if the Filipino government doesn't give in to demands, one of which is to seek more representation in government affairs. Dialogue, accompanied by prayer and sacrifice, seem to be the only way to allow God to intervene in this crisis, but present efforts and the stubbornness on the part of both the rebels and government make the situation perilous. continued inside.

    CATHOLIC, MUSLIM LEADERS ASK FOR END TO FIGHTING IN PHILIPPINES

        MANILA (CWNews.com/Fides) - The Bishops-Ulama Forum, headed by Archbishop Fernando Capalla of Davao and Dr. Mahid Mutilan, president of the Muslim Ulama League of the Philippines, on Wednesday asked for an immediate cease-fire in fighting between government troops and extremist Muslim rebel groups in the southern Mindanao region.

        The religious leaders said in a joint statement, "Many evacuees are suffering from the present hostilities. (There are presently about 60,000 displaced evacuees.) We are asking for assistance for all displaced communities - Muslim, Christian, and Lumad (indigenous peoples)."

        The Bishops-Ulama Forum (BUF), organized in 1996, is a dialogue forum consisting of the Catholic bishops of Mindanao, Ulama (Muslim religious leaders), and Protestant National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) bishops who affirmed their common commitment to the peace process on the island.

        The leaders made a distinction between the hostage issue in Basilan and the conflict in Central Mindanao. "The conflict in Basilan involves the Abu Sayyaf, a group whose tactics are condemned even by Islam and concerned Muslim leaders," they said. "The situation in Central Mindanao, particularly in Lanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur, involves the Muslim Independent Liberation Front (MILF) which represents the aspirations of the Muslim community for a genuine participation in the running of their own political and economic affairs." The rebel groups are fighting to establish an independent Muslim homeland in the area.

        They reiterated that this is not a religious war between Christian and Muslim communities, but an armed confrontation between the Philippine military and the MILF. They strongly "condemn the formation of any extremist vigilante groups, which will only polarize cultural communities."

        "We ask for the peace process to continue. Peace talks should resume and be given more time. We support the initiative of women leaders who have recently talked to the leadership of both the MILF and the Philippine government," the religious leaders said.

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      Holy Father to invite world leaders of major industrial nations to global summit in Assisi this Fall

         Though a specific date in September has yet to be released, the Holy Father will convene a meeting of the world's major industrial nations to secure promises for the reduction of the Third World Debts. He will do so in Assisi, noted for Saint Francis, the epitome of charity and the true spirit of poverty. Such a global meeting could have no better setting and no one who is more in character with the holy founder of the Order of Friars Minor than Pope John Paul II. continued inside.

    POPE PLANS JUBILEE DEBT FORGIVENESS SUMMIT

        LONDON (CWNews.com) - Pope John Paul II plans to call a meeting of world's major industrial nations in Assisi, Italy, later this year to secure promises for the reduction of Third World debt, one of his major Jubilee Year aims, said the British newspaper The Telegraph last week.

        The newspaper quoted Archbishop Crescenzio Sepe, president of the Vatican Committee for the Jubilee Year 2000, who said the Holy Father and Vatican had been working "for months" to plan the summit planned for September. The meeting would include the so-called G7 countries and Russia.

        Archbishop Sepe said Assisi was chosen because it is where St. Francis renounced his attachment to worldly goods. He added that the Pope is expected to ask for a "significant reduction" of the international debt of poor countries, which several of the Western powers, including the US and Britain, have already pledged. The Holy Father first proposed the debt forgiveness in his 1994 apostolic letter Tertio Millennio Adveniente which declared the Jubilee Year.

         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 27, 2000     volume 11, no. 83
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