WEDNESDAY     February 23, 2000    vol. 11, no. 38    SECTION THREE

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WORLDWIDE NEWS & VIEWS with a Catholic slant:
  • Pope begins "Jubilee Journey" today as he walks in the spirit of Abraham's footsteps at Paul VI Hall
  • Roman Curia encouraged by Pope over importance of Peter's call and the papal role in the Church for two millenniums
  • Vatican casts wary eye to Austria as Austrian bishops urge calm and prayer for answers to problems
  • Environmental group could disrupt John Paul II's outdoor Mass near Galilee
  • Bush on hot seat to prove he's not anti-Catholic by freeing prisoner on the hot seat on death row
  • Massive turnout of Puerto Rican faithful demonstrate peacefully to get US Navy to remove their artillery
  • "Memory and Reconciliation" document to be released March 2nd
  • Latest ShipLogs of visitors sailing on the DailyCATHOLIC

  • WORLDWIDE NEWS & VIEWS with a Catholic slant

    Characteristic Elements of Abraham's Life Will Be Reconstructed

        VATICAN CITY, FEB 21 (ZENIT).- Every effort is being made to create a special ambience for the Pope's "spiritual pilgrimage" to Ur on Wednesday in Paul VI Hall. Holm oaks will recall the landscape of Mambre (Cf. Genesis 18,1) where Abraham lived; a stone will bring to mind the sacrifice of Isaac; Rublev's icon of the Trinity will focus on this momentous event in the life of the Father of faith, as will Chagall's ceramics.

        The Vatican Press Office published a statement on this "singular celebration," to be held in the Paul VI Audience Hall on the eve of the Holy Father's trip to Mount Sinai. As the Pope himself announced last Wednesday, he has decided to make a "spiritual pilgrimage" to Ur of the Chaldeans, as he is unable to travel to Iraq, where he had hoped to go to begin his pilgrimages to the places of Revelation. The Baghdad regime sent a communication to the Vatican last December, explaining the present circumstances -- the no-fly zone and U.S. bombings -- would prevent Iraq from being able to guarantee the Holy Father's security.

        John Paul II's spiritual pilgrimage will include moments for the "appropriate proclamation of the word, intense meditation and prayer," and will be accompanied by signs and gestures, including a procession with the Gospels and the incensing of the 15th century icon of the Trinity.

        After the readings and the Pope's homily, there will be time for meditation with the "thought-provoking help" of images of Ur of the Chaldeans and other places where Abraham lived. There are artistic representations of the Patriarch's life in frescos of the Roman Catacombs, in St. Vitus' mosaics in Genoa, and in Marc Chagall's ceramics. During the ceremony texts of the Jewish and Islamic spiritual traditions will also be used, since Abraham is seen as the father to all three great monotheistic religions. ZE00022107

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        VATICAN ( -- At a special Jubilee celebration for the Roman Curia, Pope John Paul II reminded Vatican officials that "the ministry of Peter is not founded on the capacities and energies of human beings."

        The Holy Father made his remarks to 4,000 workers from the Roman Curia, who were gathered in St. Peter's Basilica for their Jubilee observance. The date of that observance had an obvious significance: February 22, the feast of the Chair of St. Peter.

        "The ministry of Peter is founded on the prayer of Christ, who asked the Father that Simon's faith would not fail," the Pope said. Peter's ministry is unique, he continued, because " in spite of his sinfulness and his limitations, Christ chose him and called him to a very high role-- that of being the basis of the visible unity of the Church, and of strengthening his brothers in the faith." In a sense, the Pontiff said, "the experience of human weakness in Peters is a great help to us," since it provides an example and a motivation for "true interior purification."

        The celebration in St. Peter's Basilica concluded the Jubilee observance for the Curia. That Jubilee had begun on the preceding evening, with a penitential service at which the Franciscan Father Raniero Cantalamessa preached a meditation. Then in the morning the members of the Curia formed a long procession in St. Peter's Square, entering the basilica through the Holy Door for the Mass. There are just over 4,000 people working in the Curia-- of whom 2,581 work directly for the Holy See and another 1,477 for the Vatican city-state. Among those reporting directly to the Holy See, lay people outnumber priests and religious by a small margin: 1449- 1132. Among those who work for the government of the Vatican, lay people predominate by 1403- 74.

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      Vatican keeping a keen eye on Austrian unrest as citizens resist far-right Freedom party

         The volatile social and political situation in Austria has the Holy See watching closely, and the Austrian bishops, headed by Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, the Church is leading Catholics of this historic country in prayer and dialogue in order to resolve dissent both within and outside the Church. Past history has taught current Church leaders that dissent, harsh words and action, can and do quickly deteriorate into war, as weas the case with a divided Austria in the time of Hitler. continued inside.

    Intervention of Cardinals Schönborn and König to Pacify Spirits

        VIENNA, FEB 21 (ZENIT).- The Catholic Church is very concerned about the political and social tensions Austria is experiencing at present. Without entering directly in political affairs, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, Archbishop of Vienna and his (indirect) predecessor, Cardinal Franz König, who headed this Archdiocese for over 30 years, published a joint declaration stating, "We experience the bitter consequences of often irresponsible speech over the past months and years with deep sorrow. Unprecedented political divisions have broken out."

        "We appeal to our fellow countrymen, but also to our friends in Europe and the world, to show signs of particular care at this time both in words and deeds." The Cardinals agree that an excitation of spirits could spell serious dangers. "The elderly especially know where discord can lead and with what speed poisoned actions flow from poisoned words."

        In the 30s, Austria was characterized by a tremendous confrontation between the left and the right that almost started a civil war and resulted in a divided country, easy prey to Hitler's power.

        The Cardinals also referred to the sanctions that 14 countries of the European Union have adopted against Vienna because of the new government, which includes Jörg Haider's Freedom Party, which is accused of xenophobia and racism. "We Austrians must take the concerns of our friends, neighbors, and partners seriously -- knowing the bitter burden of history that our country cannot and must not flee. Where bad things occurred, the burden must be borne together. Where Austria's image doesn't match up with reality, we must set it aright together. The citizens of this country -- with the exception of a few fringe groups -- are neither racist nor xenophobic. Respect for human rights and readiness to help people in need are deeply rooted in Austria," stated the Cardinals' declaration, published by the "Kathpress" agency.

        The Church is following events in Austria very closely. On February 4, Cardinal Schönborn, president of the Bishops' Conference, celebrated a Mass in the Viennese Cathedral of St. Stephen to pray for the country, and exhorted Austrian parishes to do likewise. During his homily, which was preceded by an international press conference, the Archbishop appealed to all parts of the disputes to put aside harsh words and resolve the situation through dialogue, which has given Austria long years of prosperity and peace. In regard to Haider's participation in the government, Schönborn said that the Church will follow the government's actions closely, keeping in mind the need for respect of human rights and social justice. ZE00022103

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      Lawsuit over bulldozing site near Sermon on Mount could throw monkey-wrench into Pope's outdoor Mass there in March

         As John Paul II prepares for his trip to the Holy Land next month, there's legal trouble on the horizon in light of the fact an environment group in Israel - the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI) - has threathened a court injunction against the Israeli government. The problem: the government bulldozed a hill near the Sea of Galilee, near where the Sermon on the Mount site is and an area left untouched for years. SPNI claims that the natural beauty of the land has been spoiled forever by plans for an amphitheater for the Holy Father's outdoor Mass in March. continued inside.


        JERUSALEM ( - An Israeli environmentalist group said on monday that the government was destroying pristine areas near the Sea of Galilee as it prepared for Pope John Paul II's trip to the region next month.

        The Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI) said bulldozers have torn up a hillside to prepare a parking lot for pilgrims and a large amphitheater where the Holy Father will celebrate Mass. The site, which is expected to hold 100,000 people, overlooks the Sea of Galilee and is near the location of Christ's Sermon on the Mount.

        "They are cutting up the mountain," said Yohannan Bar-On, an official of SPNI. "It was an area that was totally untouched, quite beautiful and undeveloped," he said. "It will be impossible to return it to the way it was." He added that the government had not bothered to apply for building permits, so that the group was not forewarned of the damage. Bar-On said SPNI will seek a court injunction if work is not halted.

        Developers had been eyeing the untouched mountain for years as a potential location for restaurants and a hotel, but until now they had been thwarted by environmentalists, Bar-On said.

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        WASHINGTON, FEB 21 (ZENIT).- John Paul II has appealed to George W. Bush, governor of Texas and a candidate for the Republican nomination in the presidential elections, to exercise clemency toward Odell Barnes, condemned to death for killing his girlfriend in 1991.

        In a note sent to Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo, Apostolic Nuncio in the United States, the Holy Father requests that the death sentence be commuted. Barnes has consistently denied he committed the crime he was convicted of. In fact, some organizations that are opposed to the death penalty say they have proof of his innocence. Barnes is slated for execution within the next two weeks in the Huntsville Correctional Facility. ZE00022108

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      Over 150,000 Catholics march in Puerto Rico to halt artillery testing in Diocese of Caguas

         Bishops from the dioceses of Puerto Rico, as well as other religious and civic leaders, participated in a massive peaceful march in San Juan over the weekend to bring home the point that all Puerto Ricans seek and end to the bombing tests in the area of Vieques by the U.S. Navy. The entire march, with over 150,000 participants, demonstrated with prayer and reflection in an orderly manner to bring an amiable solution and send a message to Bill Clinton to end the testing now for it has negatively affected the people in the area. continued inside.


        SAN JUAN, 22 (NE) Thousands of Puerto Ricans joined yesterday in the March for peace for the people of Vieques, in what has been considered the largest march ever held in Puerto Rico. Some sources estimated in 150,000 the number of participants, who thus expressed pacifically their opposition to the renewal of bombing practices by the US navy in the area of Vieques. Archbishop Roberto Gonzales Nieves of San Juan, Bishop Alvaro Corrada del Rio of Caguas, and other religious, civil and political leaders were present.

        Archbishop Gonzalez presided over a liturgy praying for a pacific solution to the situation of the people in Vieques, who claim that military practices have affected and contaminated the area. The Archbishop of San Juan emphasized the pacific and not political character of the event. The main aim of the march, as he stated in recent declarations, was to "take a message of peace that goes beyond Vieques, this is a march in favor of peace in Puerto Rico, the United States, and the Navy."

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      Vatican document "Memory and Reconciliation" will be released next Thursday in preparation for First Sunday of Lent

         In a document prepared after lengthy sessions, the long-awaited "Memory and Reconciliation" will be released at a special press conference at the Vatican next Thursday on March 2nd. This is but a prelude to March 12th which the Holy Father has earmarked as the "Day of Asking Pardon." This special document brings into focus the human errors made by Holy Mother Church over the course of centuries, but significantly focuses on the ever-continuous sinlessness of Jesus, Who alone nourishes His flock and has promised that "the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." continued inside.


        VATICAN ( -- The long-awaited Vatican document on "Memory and Reconciliation: The Church and the Faults of the Past," will be introduced at a press conference in Rome on March 2.

        The 50-page statement, which is divided into 5 chapters, is the product of a drafting committee working with the International Theological Commission, chaired by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, under the editorial guidance of the Bruno Forte.

        At the same March 2 press conference, Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, the president the of Committee for the Grand Jubilee, will also introduce the program for the "Day of Asking Pardon," which will be held on March 12, the first Sunday of Lent, with Pope John Paul II presiding.

        Ordinarily the International Theological Commission publishes the results of its plenary meetings one year after they occur, after a lengthy editorial process. But after the meeting last November in which the Commission discussed the theme of reconciliation and pardon, Cardinal Ratzinger called for an accelerated publication schedule, so that the theological document would be available in time to explain the meaning of the March 12 service.

        The document itself, Memory and Reconciliation, is essentially a theological work, although the text makes reference to some historical episodes in order to illustrate certain points. The central thrust of the document is an explanation of how the Church, as the Body of Christ, remains unblemished despite the sins and errors of her members. The text also calls upon Christians to learn from these past errors, so as to clarify and purify their understanding of the faith and the mystery of the Church.

        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 & ZENIT are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC, but provide this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday - Friday.

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    February 23, 2000     volume 11, no. 38
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