THURSDAY     February 10, 2000    vol. 11, no. 29    SECTION THREE

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SECTION THREE Contents: Go immediately to the article:
  • Holy Father continues catechesis on Holy Trinity
  • Cardinal O'Connor in Rome for farewell tour
  • Health Care Seminar coincides with Jubilee events for Day of the Sick
  • First Synod held by Church in Holy Land
  • McBrien up to his old tricks again in fighting Ex Corde Ecclesia
  • Bishop offers to oversee IRA weapons to further peace
  • Liberation Theology dying in Mexico
  • Latest ShipLogs documenting number of visitors sailing on the DailyCATHOLIC

  • WORLDWIDE NEWS & VIEWS with a Catholic slant continued

    John Paul II at the Wednesday General Audience

        VATICAN CITY, FEB 9 (ZENIT).- The Jubilee aims to help all men and women to discover the "secret and effective presence" of God in history, so that all will be able to hope for a "new, more authentically Christian and human world," explained the Holy Father in this week's catechesis.

        Some 13 thousand faithful from fifteen countries gathered in St. Peter's Square today to hear the Pope's traditional Wednesday Audience. Among those present was a group of American Baptists from Wisconsin, representatives of Tamil Indians, and numerous Pentecostal African American Bishops who traveled to Rome with the explicit desire to better understand the role and work of the Holy See.

        The Pope delved into the most beautiful passages of the Old and New Testament that reveal the tenderness and affection of God for humanity, concluding that "by the light of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit, history ceases to be a succession of events dissolved in the chasm of the dead, but becomes fertile ground for the seeds of eternity, a path that brings us to that sublime destination in which 'God may be all in all.' "

        The theme of the Pope's meeting with the faithful, "The Glory of the Trinity in History," constituted another chapter in a series of meditations about the Mystery of Christian mysteries, the Triune God, which the Holy Father has chosen for this Jubilee year 2000.

    The Unsettling Presence of the Father

        The Pope began by looking at how the Father makes himself present in our lives. Thus, he chose texts that leave us baffled witnessing God's paternal affection, such as the text of the prophet Hosea: "When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son... it was I who taught Ephraim to walk, I took them up in my arms; but they did not know that I healed them. I led them with cords of human kindness, with bands of love. I was to them like those who lift infants to their cheeks. I bent down to them and fed them... My heart recoils within me; my compassion grows warm and tender."

    The Zenith of Love: the Son

        The presence of God the Father in history reaches its peak when Christ becomes man. "The son is inserted into time and space as living and life-giving center that gives definitive sense to the flow of history, saving it from dispersion and banality," affirmed the Pontiff, adding that "all of humanity converges with its joys and tears, with its troubled succession of good and evil, on Christ's cross, the wellspring of salvation and of eternal life."

    The Presence of the Spirit

        However, John Paul II made clear, "in order to discover beneath the ebb and flow of events this secret and effective presence" of God, "it is necessary to go beyond the superficialities of dates and of historical occurrences. Here, the Holy Spirit goes into action."

        And so, the Holy Spirit "not only unveils the sense of history, but imparts the strength to collaborate in the divine project that is accomplished in it," according to the Pope.

        Also in St. Peter's Square today were numerous sick people, who have come to Rome to participate in their Jubilee, which will begin tomorrow and end on Sunday. The Pope implored for them the "consolation and hope" of our Lady of Lourdes. Given the large numbers of pilgrims participating in the Audiences during the Holy Year 2000, they are being held outside, and not in the Audience Hall of Paul VI. Today the skies were gray, but the temperature was quite pleasant for a Roman winter morning. ZE00020908

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        VATICAN ( - Cardinal John O'Connor of New York came to the Vatican today for a "farewell tour" according to a report in The Associated Press.

        The cardinal turned 80 last month and is recovering from brain surgery last August to remove a tumor. He has already served five years past the mandatory retirement age of 75 and is preparing to leave his office permanently, pending appointment of a successor by Pope John Paul II.

        "It's a personal trip to say thanks and goodbye," his secretary, Monsignor Gregory Mustaciuolo, told The Associated Press. He said the cardinal wanted to thank the Holy Father "for all he has done for him" and bid farewell to other Vatican officials. He said the cardinal will return to New York either Friday or Saturday.

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      Health Care Workers descend on Rome for special seminars and festivities for World Weekend for the Sick

         A special Jubilee convention for Health Care Workers from around the world opened yesterday at the Vatican, tying in with the Jubilee observation this weekend of World Weekend for the Sick in conjunction with the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes on Friday. The emphasis is in placing Jesus in the center of all medical care in treating His children. The special two-day seminar leading up to this weekend's events is being sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Care of Health Care Workers. continued inside.

    Study on the Identity and Challenges of the Catholic Health Care Worker

        VATICAN CITY, FEB 9 (ZENIT). - The celebrations for the Jubilee of the Sick, which officially begin tomorrow and will end next Sunday, were preceded by with a convention of prayer and reflection for Catholic Health care workers from all over the world. The purpose was to help these professionals rediscover their own "identity" in their field as Christians and also to help them understand the "challenges" that the medical profession puts for them at the beginning of the Third Millennium.

        Archbishop Javier Lozano, President of the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Assistance to Health Care Workers, in his opening remarks, stressed the necessity that exists for the doctor, nurse, or pharmacist that calls himself a Christian, "to put Christ at the center of medicine, with all its meanings."

        Faced by the "globalizing" tendency in health care to treat its problems only under the economic viewpoint, "we propose," affirmed Archbishop Barragan, "a new model for practicing medicine, that has Christ as its goal, as its end, as its only horizon." In front of a world, he added, that often sees it harmony destroyed, the response cannot but be fundamental Christian solidarity.

        Later, those participating in the convention were divided into four groups (Bishops in health care ministries, doctors, nurses, and pharmacists) in order to discuss their identity and the challenges created by the reality of today's world. Today in the afternoon, they began to share their reflections with the whole group.

        Professor Di Virgilio, alluding to the many advances in bioengineering, reminded the audience of an old saying, "Not all that can be done, should be done." "Faith and the Church are not an obstacle to technological and scientific advances. The Holy Father repeats this continually. But it means that scientific progress cannot be like a river that overflows its banks. It needs a guide. Any progress directed to the good and to the excellence of man's life is welcome."

        Sister Bertilla Lavacone, director of the professional nursing school of St. John's Hospital in Rome, said, "We see that suffering is the most dominating aspect in a hospital. People speaks of their own suffering, of their own disease. Some speak of their own misery. I have learned that people do not ask for anything, but expect much, especially from us who care for him. We religious, offer professionalism, but most of all that spirit of sacrifice that allows us to be with them. A smile is a good thing, but what is important is to put yourself in their place, to understand their loneliness. Often they are abandoned to their luck, at that point we must intervene, here is where suffering is most painful."

        Sister Anabel Mamon, a Philippine student of Sister Bertilla, added, "We are specifically trained in order to assist the ailing, and on the sickbed we see Christ crucified. The sick person does not need lots of words or discourses. Treatments and technology are a good thing, but if the ailing person is left alone, even having the technologies, he remains a lonely patient. What does this person seek? He looks for somone that will understand him, to be at his side, to help him at that moment. We also receive much in offering our help -- we learn to give ourselves." ZE00020909

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      First Synod since the Council of Jerusalem held in the Holy Land

        A truly universal presence was made evident in Bethlehem yesterday when the first synod every held by the Catholic Church in the Holy Land opened with representation from all the eastern rites in union with Rome and the western rite as well. The five day event, hosted by Latin Patriarch Michael Sabbah of Jerusalem is intended to delve into apostolic options for Catholics in the Holy Land, greater communication between the various churches and pave the way for the Holy Father's visit in about six weeks. continued inside.


        BETHLEHEM, 9 (NE) The first synod ever held by the Catholic Church in the Holy Land began yesterday in Bethlehem, gathering representatives from the different Catholic rites from Israel, the Palestinian areas, Jordan and Cyprus. More than 300 bishops, priests, religious and lay people inaugurated this important Church event in the city where the Lord Jesus was born 2000 years ago. Those gathered will reflect on the different apostolic plans to encourage the life of Catholics in the Holy Land, a minority often subject to pressures and attacks.

        The Synod will last five days. "It is the first time that we have this synod since the beginning of our existence as Christians in this land," emphasized the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Michel Sabbah, before the opening ceremony. Representatives of the Latin, Greek, Maronite, Syrian, Armenian and Chaldean rites were present in the event. The gathering of Catholics in the Holy Land is expected to be an important moment to decide several action guidelines for the next years.

        Patriarch Sabbah informed as well that Pope John Paul II will present during his visit to the Holy Land the final document for the pastoral plan that will be elaborated to encourage the life of the Church in this region. The meeting will also be a good moment to reflect on the preparation for the future pilgrimage of the Holy Father to the Holy Land.

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        SOUTH BEND, Indiana ( - A prominent theologian at the University of Notre Dame said this week that he expects most of his American colleagues at Catholic colleges to refuse to ask for teaching mandates from local bishops as required by new rules.

        The US bishops approved new guidelines for implementing the papal document on Catholic higher education, "Ex Corde Ecclesia," at their biennial meeting last November. They were forwarded on to the Vatican which will approve them.

        Father Richard McBrien said in the current issue of the Jesuit magazine America that he believes most Catholic theologians will follow his lead in refusing to request a teaching mandate. "I'm simply the first one to come out," he said. He added that the plan will be unworkable if tenured professors refuse to seek a mandate. Father McBrien is an outspoken critic of Pope John Paul II and his pastoral initiatives.

        Some Catholic academics support the plan. Father Michael Scanlan of Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio, has said the Ex Corde guidelines allow the nation's 235-Catholic colleges and universities to more clearly project their Catholic identity.

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        BELFAST ( - Bishop Seamus Hegarty of Derry has offered to personally accept arms from the Irish Republican Army in an attempt to end the deadlock over the decommissioning of weapons which has created a stumbling block in Northern Ireland's peace process.

        In a statement published in the Belfast-based Irish News newspaper, the bishop has said that he was ready to act as a guarantor and supervisor for the safekeeping of a quantity of weapons. Bishop Hegarty, 60, said he has taken the initiative "to allow time and space for the political process to develop."

        Acting with the agreement of the Primate of All-Ireland, Archbishop Sean Brady, Bishop Hegarty said he is willing to act as guarantor for the safekeeping of a quantity of weapons for a 12-month period, on the clear understanding that they would be put beyond use by the international decommissioning body headed by General de Chastelain. But he stresses he will not enter into political negotiations on the details or substance of the initiative.

        "I am prepared to act as guarantor and supervisor for the safekeeping of a quantity of weapons of war on the clear understanding that, under the auspices of General de Chastelain, they will put beyond use," he said. "I would do this for a 12-month period starting immediately."

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    Faithful Awaiting "New Springtime" in San Cristóbal

        SAN CRISTÓBAL, MEXICO, FEB 9 (ZENIT).- Recent changes in the leadership of Mexican dioceses have put the future of "liberation theology" in question. The movement, largely fueled by European intellectuals, is faltering throughout the Americas, but some enclaves hang onto its doctrines.

        The local Church in San Cristóbal de las Casas, in Chiapas, has been one of the strongest proponents of this theory, which is characterized by a radical option for the poor, often to the point of encouraging violent uprisings. However, with the retirement of Bishop Samuel Ruiz García, the Holy Father has chosen not to permit his Coadjutor Bishop to succeed him, instead transferring Bishop Raúl Vera López to the diocese of Saltillo. Some see this as a sign that this local Church will now move closer to John Paul II's advocacy for the poor, without rhetoric of class struggle and armed revolution.

    Failing Policies

        According to the National Catholic Register, Catholics in the diocese of San Cristóbal have been leaving the faith at an alarming rate. One businessman reported that "in some of those towns, about 50% of the population have become Adventists or Jehovah's Witnesses because they feel abandoned by the priests."

        Instead of tending to their flock, stated a Catholic doctor on condition of anonymity, "most of the priests and catechists in the diocese teach the people about the revolution and that they can take from the rich what they themselves don't have, even by violent means."

        The diocese has been so firmly entrenched in its policies that the new movements have not been permitted to enter. Bernardo Cantu of the Cursillos movement stated, "We were not allowed to enter the Diocese of San Cristóbal, because the bishops said that the only thing that works there is their own base communities."

        The Vicar General of the diocese, Fr. Felipe Toussaint, however, claimed that movements are only denied entrance if they refuse to work in "close coordination" with the diocese and the parishes. He added that many of the new movements want to create a "parallel Church."

    Tight Control

        Fr. Andrew Lockett, a 76-year-old American priest, reported that Bishop Ruiz suspended his faculties because he did not share the Bishop's doctrinal position. "He just said my faculties would not be returned because I was not willing to change what he called my 'line,' which is that of the Pope and the Church," he stated. He was finally forced to move to a neighboring diocese.

        Another priest, Fr. Luis Beltran Mijangos, said he was suspended "for not supporting the Zapatista guerillas and for providing the sacraments to those humble peasants who oppose the highly ideological pastoral approach of the diocese."

    Reaction to New Assignment

        When the news of Bishop Vera's transfer came, many officials within the diocese reacted in anger. Bishop Ruiz asserted, "I will obey, but I am upset and frustrated." He later made a joint statement with Bishop Vera indicating that the Vatican had made its decision based on "serious information gaps."

        The National Catholic Register's article notes, however, that many of the faithful are pleased by the Vatican's decision. "We were absolutely discouraged with the idea of waiting for another 20 years," said Ana María Rivera. "But now we realize that the Holy Father has not forgotten us... We are now expecting a new springtime for the Church in San Cristóbal." ZE00020920

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    February 10, 2000     volume 11, no. 29
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