WEDNESDAY     February 16, 2000    vol. 11, no. 33    SECTION THREE

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SECTION THREE Contents: Go immediately to the article:
  • Colombian rebels try to barter with Vatican in Rome as Bishops struggle with growing refugee problems
  • Cardinal Rivera warns faithful of the dangers of liberation theology
  • Taiwan skeptical Vatican and Beijing will ever form formal diplomatic relations
  • Latest ShipLogs of visitors sailing on the DailyCATHOLIC


  • WORLDWIDE NEWS & VIEWS with a Catholic slant continued


    COLOMBIAN REBELS, OFFICIALS MEET VATICAN OFFICIALS WHILE IN BOGOTA THE CHURCH IN COLOMBIA WARNS OF INCREASING PROBLEM OF REFUGEES

        VATICAN (CWNews.com) - Colombian rebels, accompanied by government officials, visited the Vatican on Monday to meet with Vatican officials and seek their help in mediating an end to the country's 36-year civil war.

        The rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and Colombia's peace commissioner met with a representative of Pope John Paul II, but are unlikely to gain an audience with Holy Father during their visit. The rebels and government officials are on a European tour to gain support for the peace process in the South American country.

        The six Marxist FARC rebel commanders are all wanted on murder, kidnapping, and terrorism charges in Colombia. But arrest warrants pending against them have been suspended for the duration of slow-moving talks, now a year old, to end the civil war that has claimed more than 35,000 lives in the last decade.

        Archbishop Pedro Rubiano of Bogota said that while talk with the FARC is important, it is also important to make demands of the rebels. "You have to make these people see that it's not by destroying towns, killing children and women that peace is made," he said. FARC has been ceded virtual control of a large portion of Colombia, ruling it in totalitarian fashion with harsh "war taxes," involuntary drafts of young men, and a profitable trade in illegal drugs to North America.

        Meanwhile, back in Bogota, the Colombian Bishops' Conference this week issued a document showing the increasing number of refugees and displaced as a consequence of rebel violence in the country.

        The document is dated December 1999, but was made public last weekend, on the occasion of the visit of the Deputy High Commissioner for the Refugees of the United Nations, Soren Jesse-Petersen. Jesse-Petersen said during his visit the Catholic Church has been "one of the few organizations with reliable figures" on the number of those displaced by the violence.

        The bishops' conference started tracking the displaced population in 1995, when the problem became a nation-wide drama. According to the last report, between 1995 and last year, 726,000 Colombians fled their towns to seek safety in main cities such as Bogota, Cali and Medellin. Thirty-three percent were displaced because of "uncontrolled violence," 29 percent as a consequence of activities from the left-wing rebels, while 14 percent escaped because of activities of the right-wing paramilitaries.

        The Church's report said 65 percent of the people left their homes because of direct death threats, while 14 percent did so because of massive killings in the region. Moreover, 55 percent of the refugees are teenagers or children, most of whom have become beggars or a cheap and unstable labor force in the cities.

        The report also says that the large majority of the refugees want to go back to their places of origin, "but they require a minimum of safety and guarantees from the government."

        The report ends warning that "the problem of the displaced and refugees in Colombia is increasing to the point of becoming a problem on its own and not a mere 'side effect' of the violence, as many authorities seem to believe." It adds, "It is urgent that simple but bold measures are taken before this problem fuels even more violence."

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      Mexico cardinal warns flocks about liberation theology and gospel of revenge

         While the Holy See and the Colombia rebels work out agreements to abandon violence, Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera, Archbishop of Mexico City, asserted that violence has no place in the life of Catholics and those who are proposing violence in the name of Jesus as justice - many espousing liberation theology - are false prophets for Christ would have no part in such acts. The cardinal emphasized the merciful aspects of Our Lord in entreating the people to turn their back on false conceptions of Jesus. continued inside.

    ARCHBISHOP OF MEXICO WARNS FAITHFUL ABOUT FALSE CONCEPTIONS OF JESUS

        MEXICO CITY, 15 (NE) Christ was not involved in any guerilla, and cannot be represented as such, said this week Cardinal Norberto Rivera, Archbishop of Mexico. Expressing his concern for those who use and teach false conceptions of the Lord Jesus, as well as violent and conflictive interpretations of the Gospel, the Mexican Cardinal stated that one of the principal characteristic of the Lord is His mercy.

        "Without his mercy, commitment in favor of the poor and oppressed loses its true Christian meaning and its evangelical style", he further emphasized. "Violence is not more evangelical than using our heart, unless we forget that violence generates more violence, and that mercy suppresses misery". "In a cold and violent civilization, it is not easy to accept compassion, mercy and forgiveness as Christian and human values", the Archbishop of Mexico emphasized. Nevertheless, to acknowledge our own faults, ask for forgiveness, and also forgive others, are essential characteristics of a true Christian life, the Cardinal concluded.

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    TAIWAN OFFICIAL SAYS CHINA-VATICAN TIES UNLIKELY

        TAIPEI (CWNews.com) - Taiwan's Foreign Minister said today that fundamental differences between Communist China and the Vatican make prospects of formal diplomatic relations between the two unlikely.

        Chen Chien-jen was responding to questions from reporters from Hong Kong and Macao, two territories who are or will be returned to Beijing's control. "Both Beijing and the Vatican have maintained various links over the last 20 years, but the variance between the standpoints of the two sides will make it very difficult for them to reach a consensus," Chen said.

        The Holy See is one of the few countries to maintain formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan, which China regards as a breakaway province, and China has made breaking those relations a key to any diplomatic agreement with the Vatican. The Communist government's strict control of religion is also a key sticking point.

        The Communist Chinese government requires Christians to worship only in state-controlled associations, including the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, which eschews any connections to the Vatican or the Pope. Many Catholics worship in illegal, underground churches, following only bishops appointed by the Pope.

        Last Friday, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Vatican Secretary of State, announced that an "unofficial channel" had been opened. He had stressed that the channel did not establish official links, but will provide a mechanism through which both sides can "clarify their positions."

        "Of course the Vatican hopes it can care for Catholics around the world, including the 10 million odd in China, but whether or not they will compromise their principles to do so, we will just have to wait and see," said Chen. In regard to Taiwan's own ties with the Vatican, Chen said the relationship "has long been very good."

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    February 16, 2000     volume 11, no. 33
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