THURSDAY     February 3, 2000    vol. 11, no. 24    SECTION THREE

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SECTION THREE Contents: Go immediately to the article:
WORLD NEWS & VIEWS with a Catholic slant:
  • Pope celebrates Mass for Consecrated
  • Muslim grenades explode in Bethlehem, injuring Christian restaurant owner
  • Day of Forgiveness guidelines to be released after three years of preparation
  • Sister Nirmala asks all to focus Jubilee on Jesus
  • Cardinal O'Connor decries horrors of abortion
  • Senate betrays pro-lifers with prejudice bill
  • Vatican puts stamp of approval on jointly issuing Icelandic commemorative stamp

  • WORLDWIDE NEWS & VIEWS with a Catholic slant


        VATICAN ( -- More than 35,000 religious men and women participated in the Jubilee for Consecrated Life at the Vatican, which concluded on February 2, the feast of the Presentation.

        Original plans had called for the three-day celebrate to end with a Mass celebrated by Pope John Paul II in St. Peter's Basilica. But since the number of participants nearly doubled the anticipated figure of 18,000, the Mass was moved outdoors to St. Peter's Square. The ceremony began with a candlelight procession, with each member of the congregation carrying a lighted candle into the square, in the traditional observance of the feast once popularly known as Candlemas.

        "I greet you with the kiss of evangelical peace," the Holy Father told the consecrated religious in his homily. He observed that the Jubilee offered an opportunity for the participants to pray for "the hopes and problems of your respective institutions," and to "ask pardon for the eventual breaks which have marked the lives of different religious families."

        The Pontiff emphasized the critical importance of religious life within the life of the Church, and thus the importance of attracting new vocations to religious communities. He also paid tribute to the many consecrated religious who, "even during these last few years, have made the supreme act of witness through the shedding of their blood" for the faith. (According to the Fides news agency, 31 religious men and women died for the faith in the year 1999: 9 in East Timor, 15 in Africa (including 6 in Angola), 1 in India, and 6 in Latin America.) The Pope observed that the religious vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience themselves are a witness to the world, to man's ultimate destiny, and to the Christian expectation of the Lord's return in glory.

        At the conclusion of the ceremony, the Pope delivered his personal greetings to the assembled religious, in a number of different languages, and then toured through St. Peter's Square on his popemobile, shaking hands and giving his blessing to the participants.

        The Jubilee for Consecrated Life-- a celebration for the hundreds of thousands of people who have chosen the witness of religious life-- was organized by the Vatican's Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life, under the leadership of the Congregation's prefect, Cardinal Eduardo Martinez Somano. The celebration had begun with a Vespers service on January 30, and continued on January 31 with a penance service. About 10,000 religious men and women participated in the latter event. During the same day, the participants also heard a series of testimonies on the joys and challenges of religious life, as a series of speakers took the microphone in the Paul VI auditorium to deliver their own personal testimonies.

        In addition to the Mass celebrated by Pope John Paul, the final day of the celebration was devoted to Eucharistic adoration, as groups of religious-- arranged by their orders-- filed into the basilica of St. Mary Major to pray before the Blessed Sacrament exposed on the high altar there.

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    Christian Gravely Wounded

        JERUSALEM, FEB 2 (ZENIT).- There has been a renewed outbreak of tensions and arguments in Nazareth between Muslims and Christians. At the root of the problem is the controversy over the construction of a mosque in an area that was to be a Square to facilitate the welcome of pilgrims during the current Holy Year, in front of the Basilica of the Annunciation.

        A Muslim argued that a descendant of Saladin was buried near the site, hence the need for the mosque. Saladin was sultan at the time of the Crusades. He met with St. Francis of Assisi when the friar came to the Holy Land on a peace mission.

        The crisis in the city of Nazareth has been ongoing since 1998. The explosion of a hand-grenade in the Danial Restaurant in the neighborhood of Al Qanuk, which overlooks the city on the road to Cana, triggered a wave of fear of a new crisis between Christians and Muslims. The owner of the restaurant, a Christian, is in serious condition following the explosion. Two days ago, two more unexploded hand grenades were found in front of public toilets in the heart of town, very near the monument to Shebab el Din, Saladin's alleged descendant. The cornerstone of the new mosque, whose construction will actually begin after the Jubilee, is located nearby.

        The police believe the attack on the restaurant owner is probably vengeance on the part of Muslims. Some months ago the family that owns the restaurant was accused of killing a Muslim child. Judicial investigation proved them innocent, however. But the group of Islamic fundamentalists who are insisting on the construction of the mosque spread rumors that exacerbated existing hatreds. Finally, it was established that the murdered child was killed by Muslims for reasons "of honor" that were not clarified.

        Another hypothesis is that the attacks are organized by Muslims who are dissatisfied with the agreement between the two groups that won the municipal elections 14 months ago. The agreement resulted in chaos in the Nazareth city government. The locality belongs to the State of Israel, but its inhabitants are almost exclusively Muslims and Christians.

        Thanks to a city pact that straightened out a dangerous situation for the Jubilee celebrations, Ahmad Salman, the fundamentalist leader who led the struggle for the mosque, was elected Deputy-Mayor, and a friend of his, a member of another party, will soon be given a similar appointment. This is a provisional solution. The agreement limits the trial period to three months. If the two parties agree, the pact will be signed, if not, the city assembly will be dissolved.

        This solution has nothing to do either with the issue of the mosque, or with the Pope's visit, which will take place on the Feast of the Annunciation, March 25. ZE00020207

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    To Be Presented on Day of Forgiveness Presided by Pope

        VATICAN CITY, FEB 2 (ZENIT).- After 3 years of work, the document that will guide Catholic pastors and faithful in the principles underlying the Church's request for forgiveness for errors committed by her children in the past is virtually complete.

        The text was requested by the Pope himself. It is entitled "The Church and the Sins of the Past: Remembering in Order to Reconcile". The document is the fruit of the work of a team of members of the International Theological Commission, presided by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.

        The document follows the outline established in the Holy Father's Apostolic Letter "Tertio Millennio Adveniente," in preparation for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000. According to the Italian agency "Adn-Kronos," the document will be published within the next few weeks, allowing Christians to consult it before the Pope gives his address on the Day of Forgiveness -- the First Sunday of Lent.

        Before writing the final document, the theologians responsible for the project submitted the text for approval on two occasions to the 30 members of the International Theological Commission meeting in plenary session. The vote in favor of the document was very substantial.

        The text has been written for purposes of consultation; it is not a papal document. It includes a broad theological reflection on the meaning of purification of the memory. There is also an explanation of the doctrinal reasons that make an act of contrition for past sins possible, reviewing a trajectory that goes back to biblical origins, such as the great confessions of sin before God of the Jewish people and continuing with the principles of the Gospel. There are many examples of historic requests for forgiveness, such as that of Adrian VI, elected Pope in 1522, who at the time of the Reformation asked for forgiveness for the sins of the Curia, or that of Paul VI, who atoned for the offenses inflicted on Eastern Christians.

        Recently Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger explained to "Octava Dies," a program of the Vatican Television Center, that "the idea is not to accuse the past; we are always sinners and we want to understand this with humility and do penance, which renews the Church and each one."

        According to declarations by Fr. Georges Cottier, secretary of the International Theological Commission (Cf. ZE99112611) and Theologian of the Pontifical Household, the document makes a fundamental distinction: "the Church is holy because it receives and communicates the holiness of Christ to humanity, although Christians are sinners, as we are all unfaithful to Christ's grace."

        We have to speak about the past, according to Dominican Fr. Cottier, for two reasons: "the first because the communion of saints exists, by which the Church is one through the ages, and in the Church there is a community of charity and prayer for sins committed. In the second place, it must be said that it is not a question of judging people, as only God can judge persons, but when we recall the past of the Church we realize that there have been events that are an obstacle to evangelization. On this it is necessary to have a purification of the memory, that is, to make a real judgment that is balanced and just." ZE00020208

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        ROME, 2 (NE) In a recent interview, Sister Nirmala, successor of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, emphasized the importance of not forgetting the centrality of the Lord Jesus during the Jubilee celebrations. "Christ is the center of the Jubilee," recalled the superior of the Missionaries of Charity, in view of possible distractions from the essential meaning of this Holy Year. "We must always keep in mind that all the celebrations have the purpose of commemorating the 2000 years of the Incarnation of the Word."

        On the other hand, to the question of what she wanted for the religious under her guidance, she answered: "sanctity." "We want," she further added, "to take the love of Christ to everybody, where the bishops need our help in order to aid those who live in poverty and darkness." Also, she made reference to the members of the congregation that had been murdered in Asian countries in the last months, as a consequence of the persecution against the Church.

        "Seven sisters have been murdered carrying out their respective labors of charity, but we follow Jesus and the persecution and death are part of the life of whoever follows Him," "We are not afraid," she added.

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        NEW YORK CITY, 2 (NE) "There is no such thing as a merely 'annual' March for Life. Every march is unique, with its own excitement", recalled Cardinal John J. O'Connor, Archbishop of New York, commenting the recent march that took place in Washington in which thousands of people expressed their opposition to abortion. "I must confess to a certain bittersweetness about the March for Life in Washington this year, because I was confined by illness and unable to make the trip. Perhaps I was more effective, however, since I prayed that much more fervently for those physically able to be on hand," wrote the Archbishop, in his usual column in the archdiocese's weekly publication "Catholic New York."

        Cardinal O'Connor recalled as well the Roe vs Wade decision, which he named as "devastating." It was on Jan. 22, 1973, that the United States Supreme Court issued its sweeping abortion decisions Roe vs. Wade, and Doe vs. Bolton, striking down the abortion laws of Texas and Georgia. "These decisions asserted that abortion is a medical procedure and that a woman's right to privacy in deciding to abort takes precedence over the life of the unborn child who is not considered a person entitled to the customary constitutional protections" explained the Archbishop.

        In his article, Cardinal O'Connor expressed as well his concern for the lack of conscience existing today regarding this issue. "Here in the year 2000, the term Roe vs. Wade is undoubtedly meaningless to millions. If they are conscious of having heard the term, it is unlikely that they relate it to one of the true horrors of this century. Some 35 or more millions of unborn babies have been lawfully killed in their mothers' wombs courtesy of Roe vs. Wade, a devastating 1973 Supreme Court decision" the Cardinal wrote.

        "Death has become life, life death", he continued. "Thank God," concluded Cardinal O'Connor, "that today there are veritable armies who each year march the pro-life march in Washington, many having traveled the length and breadth of our land to get there."

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        WASHINGTON, DC ( - The US Senate on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved a new law governing personal bankruptcy that included a provision narrowly targeting pro-lifers convicted of civil disobedience at abortion clinics.

        The Senate voted 80-17 for the law which included an amendment that said people found to have violated laws protecting abortion clinics could not escape fines or civil judgements against them through bankruptcy debt restructuring. The law was prompted by the case of Operation Rescue found Randall Terry who filed for bankruptcy in November 1998 blaming court-ordered fines to abortion groups and clinics.

        Although most Republicans initially opposed the amendment to the bill, but abandoned their opposition when Vice President Al Gore announced he was returning from presidential campaigning for any possible tie-breaker. Some lawmakers wanted to prevent Gore from using the vote to advance his own political credentials. "With this amendment, nobody will be able to politically demagogue this issue," Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said shortly before the vote.

        Gore has been criticized in recent weeks during the campaign for his flip-flop from seeming pro-life views early on in his legislative career to a pro-abortion stance and then denying the switch during a campaign debate.

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        VATICAN CITY, FEB 2 (ZENIT).- For the first time in history, Iceland and the Vatican will jointly issue a postage stamp. The news was published by the Philatelic and Numismatic Office of the Government of Vatican City.

        The stamp, which will be put into circulation on February 4, commemorates the millennium of Christianity's presence in this Atlantic island. The picture chosen represents a 15th century altar cloth that belonged to the Cathedral of Holar, which today is exhibited in Iceland's National Museum in Reykjavik. The stamp costs 1,500 Italian liras.

        The first inhabitants of Iceland were Irish monks, who arrived at the end of the 8th century and were expelled in the 9th by the Vikings and Normans. Scots and Irish settled in communities in the island sometime later; the communities were isolated and in conflict for a long time, in spite of the fact that at the end of the 10th century a Parliament was established to confirm the Island's political unity. The country was Christianized in the 11th century, and passed to Norwegian and later Danish political control, remaining in this state until the 19th century, when Parliament was re-established and autonomy recognized. ZE00020202

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    February 3, 2000     volume 11, no. 24
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