FRI-SAT-SUN     February 4-6, 2000    vol. 11, no. 25    SECTION THREE

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SECTION THREE Contents: Go immediately to the article:
  • Pope prepares for World Day for the Sick
  • Bias and deceit out of KC
  • Special meals for poor
  • China worst on capital punishment
  • Twisted pro-abort minds
  • British Bishops unite
  • Prime Minister's widow proud to welcome Pope
  • El Salvador flap puts Americans to shame

  • WORLDWIDE NEWS & VIEWS with a Catholic slant

    Event To Be Held from February 9-11

       VATICAN CITY, FEB 3 (ZENIT).- Pope John Paul II is a man "marked by lived, experienced suffering" and as such, is the ideal guide for the Jubilee of the Sick, which will begin on February 9. The event will climax on the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, February 11, World Day of the Sick.

       The organization of this event, especially its spiritual dimension, is the responsibility of the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Assistance to Health Care Workers, presided by Archbishop Javier Lozano Barragan. Today, Msgr. Josť Redrado, secretary of this Pontifical Council, explained how the program will unfold.

       The celebration will begin with a reflection by groups according to categories: Bishops responsible for pastoral assistance in health care, doctors, nurses and pharmacists. The purpose is to reflect on the identity of each one of the individuals who helps and assists the sick. These sessions will last a day and a half -- from February 9-10. On the afternoon of the 10th, there will be a special Prayer Vigil in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls. This Vigil will be attended by thousands of patients and all health agents who have come to Rome, in addition to those caring for the patients themselves. On February 11, at 10 a.m., the Jubilee of the Sick will be celebrated in the presence of John Paul II. Weather permitting, it will be held outdoors, in St. Peter's Square.

       Msgr. explained on Vatican Radio that it will be a very intense moment of faith, "partly because our Pope has experienced suffering very deeply, not only in thought, but also in body and heart. He is a Pope marked by lived, experienced suffering; he will be the best teacher because, beyond speaking with his lips, he will speak from the heart."

       In the afternoon of the 11th, there will be a light and sound festival that will advance in procession from down the monumental via della Conciliazione to St. Peter's Square. The sick and those attending them will sing and carry lit candles. This pilgrimage is a symbol that "the tunnel of pain is illuminated, our suffering in life is clarified, not only with the light of science, but also with the word of God, with faith, and with hope," Msgr. Redrado said.

       On February 12, there will be Stations of the Cross for the sick at the Coliseum, a historic place of suffering. In the afternoon, a festival of joy and hope will be held in the Paul VI Auditorium in the Vatican, in which the patients themselves will be the performers. There will also be great surprises from the world of entertainment -- well-known figures who themselves have suffered sickness and pain.

       This particular Jubilee presents particular organizational problems, given that many of the participants will require wheelchairs or other support. Maurizio Scelli, secretary of the Italian Union of Transport of the Sick to Lourdes and International Shrines has called on Italian authorities to resolve the bureaucratic difficulties that at present impede the efficient transportation of the handicapped who will participate in this Jubilee. ZE00020304

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       WASHINGTON (Center for Media and Public Affairs/ -- [Editor's note: The following column was originally written for, The Consumer's Guide to the News; it was posted on that group's web site: It is reprinted here with permission.] By David Murray and S. Robert Lichter on February 2, 2000.

       On January 29, an exclusive Kansas City Star story carried nationwide through the Knight-Ridder News Service proclaimed a scandal of silence in the Catholic Church involving priests and their sexuality.

       As the San Jose Mercury News headlined, the "Death Rate From AIDS is Higher for Priests." Based on the results of 801 responses to a mail survey the Star sent to 3,013 priests, the story begins, "Hundreds of Roman Catholic priests across the United States have died of AIDS-related illnesses, and hundreds more are living with HIV, the virus that causes the disease."

       Despite the heavy and uncritical news coverage, questions about the survey suggest caution in inferring a hidden AIDS epidemic among priests. Consider the following assertions about the survey from the Star article and the Knight-Ridder dispatch: "The response rate was very good" said the Rev. Rodney DeMartini, executive director of the National Catholic AIDS Network."

       In fact, few survey researchers would consider a 27 percent response rate to be "very good." It means that nearly three of four priests who were targeted failed to respond. Normally, when a response rate is this low, follow-up surveys are conducted to increase the returns or at least to learn whether the minority who responded were representative.

       "Given the sample size, the poll's margin of error is 3.5 percentage points, meaning that if the same poll were conducted 100 times, 95 percent of those times the results would be no more than 3.5 percentage points higher or lower than the results of this poll," the article said.

       This boilerplate description of sampling error would only be valid if we knew that the 801 respondents were representative of the nationwide population of approximately 46,000 priests. But we have no idea whether the minority who responded were unusually concerned about AIDS, differentially open to questions of personal sexuality, or even more likely to have a homosexual orientation (see below) than the 2,212 non-respondents. Without knowing such things, we cannot estimate how much other poll results might vary from this survey's findings. And this undermines the substantive claims that follow.

       To wit, the article said that: "Fifteen percent said they were homosexual and 5 percent bisexual. Estimates of the percentage of homosexuals in the general population .... say the figure is between 5 percent and 10 percent."

       The potential skewing of the sample in regards to sexual orientation means the finding of 15 percent homosexuality has no application beyond the group who responded. Moreover, the most comprehensive studies of male homosexuals in the United States (such as the 1994 University of Chicago/National Opinion Research Center study) put the percentage between two percent and four percent for the general population. The 10 percent upper limit cited in the story presumably refers to the widely discredited studies of Alfred Kinsey, which were based on small and highly skewed non- random samples.

       If the percentage of homosexual males in the United States is roughly 3 percent, then the fact that only 78 percent of the survey respondents affirmed that they were heterosexual either means that priests are disproportionately homosexual or that a disproportionate number of homosexual priests chose to respond to this sexual survey. Unfortunately, we can't determine from this survey which statement is true. Yet, the article said, "About one in 114 said they either have HIV or AIDS or might have but haven't been tested. That would translate into about 400 priests nationwide... ."

       Specifically, 0.5 percent of those who responded answered yes to having HIV or AIDS, 0.4 percent answered possibly, and 99.1 percent answered no. In absolute terms, this means 7 individuals said they have or fear they might have AIDS. Any projection of 7 individuals onto a nationwide stage is statistically dubious, particularly when we don't know how representative this group is. Still, the article concluded that "it appears priests are dying of AIDS at a rate at least four times that of the general population."

       Finally, the Star estimated the AIDS-related death rate among priests to be "about 4 per 10,000, four times that of the general population rate of roughly 1 per 10,000." But the appropriate comparison group for priests is surely not the general population, which includes women and children, but rather adult males. Data from the most recent (1998) Statistical Abstract of the United States put the AIDS-related death rate among adult males at about 4 per 10,000, the same rate that the Star estimates among priests. On this basis, contrary to the headlines, the AIDS death rate is not "higher for priests."

       When all is said and done, what can we conclude with scientific confidence? There may or may not be a distinctive problem with AIDS among US Catholic priests, but this study cannot provide the evidence needed to determine whether this is so. However, a sidebar to the Star's story did include one statement that is unquestionably true: "The Star cannot ensure that the priests responding are demographically and geographically representative of all Roman Catholic priests. The priests who chose to respond to the survey may be different from those who opted not to reply."

       Indeed. So why publish the results as if this crucial qualifier didn't matter? To be sure, every AIDS death represents a human tragedy, and AIDS incidence among an avowedly celibate community raises special and sensitive concerns. In this case, however, to paraphrase Alistair Campbell, the Catholic Church appears "more spinned against than spinning."

       [David Murray is research director at the Statistical Assessment Service (STATS); S. Robert Lichter is president of the Center for Media and Public Affairs.]

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      Secretary of State dedicates special dining room for homeless and poor folks as special charity project for Jubilee Year 2000

        With all the celebrating going on, the Vatican is intent on bringing peace of mind to the poor and indigent pilgrims of Rome as well by providing a piece of bread along with an entree, drink and dessert for 100 to 500 daily at a new dining room officially opened and dedicated by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Secretary of State on behalf of the Holy Father. While this one is located adjacent to St. Peter's Square, more dining rooms will be opened near the major basilicas as well over the next several days as part of a special project called "The Pope's Charity for the Jubilee." continued inside.

    500 Meals for Needy Pilgrims

       VATICAN CITY, FEB 3 (ZENIT).- The Jubilee of the Year 2000 will not forget those pilgrims who lack material means. Today, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican Secretary of State, dedicated a dining room for the poor adjacent to St. Peter's Square, thus launching "The Pope's Charity for the Jubilee."

       The initiative entails the distribution of 500 free lunches a day to needy persons in areas adjacent to the four patriarchal Basilicas of Rome. The dining room that is adjacent to St. Peter's Square in the Vatican is the largest; it has the capacity to distribute 200 meals daily.

       Over the next few days the dining rooms adjacent to the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, St. Mary Major, and St. John Lateran will be opened. Each one of these dining rooms will offer 100 meals daily.

       The time of service is from 12 noon to 2 p.m. In general, the beneficiaries will have a hot lunch, most likely of pasta, a drink, and dessert.

       The initiative was made possible thanks to the collaboration of the St. Peter's Circle -- an institution that has helped pilgrims in Rom since the 1800s -- and the sponsorship of Italian firms in the food business.

       As he mentioned last Saturday, John Paul II is convinced that "the testimony of charity is the greatest prophecy of our times." ZE00020309

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      China assailed for leading the world in capital punishment by a wide margin

         The answer to America's crowded prisons is simple. Extradite the prisoners to China where capital punishment has increased in recent years that their judicial system has executed more people than all the other countries combined. Amnesty International bestowed the ingnominious title on Red China and the Chinese authorities immediately went into a state of denial as they have every time they've been accused. continued inside.

    Amnesty International Denounces Problems of Chinese Judicial System

       BEIJING, FEB 3 (ZENIT).- While the United States gets the brunt of the negative press in Europe over the death penalty, Amnesty International has revealed that China has executed more people than all other countries put together. Minors, drunk drivers, Panda hunters, and "political criminals" have all been the victims of capital punishment in this communist country.

       In 1998, 2,701 persons were condemned to death, of whom 1,769 have already been executed. The death penalty is considered by Chinese authorities as an efficient means in the struggle against crime, which in recent times has increased markedly, due to urban unemployment and the agricultural crisis.

       According to Amnesty International, the Chinese judicial system suffers from imbalance; it favors accusation and seriously reduces the possibilities of those accused to receive a just prosecution. According to this source, sometimes the verdicts are known before the court process even occurs -- the presentation of evidence and witnesses is reduced to a mere formality.

       In the first month of the year 2000, 55 persons were executed according to the official Chinese press agency.

       Zhu Bangzao, spokesman of the Foreign Ministry, responded to Amnesty International's protest and that of other abolitionist associations by stating that the national tribunals "are very prudent" when applying capital punishment. ZE00020307

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      Marriages and abstinence on the rise and pro-aborts in Canada want to know where they went wrong!

         Advocates for the culture of death are appalled that 70% of French Canadians are abstaining from premarital sex and turning down condoms leaving the pro-abort advocates in a quandary. Rather than accepting that virtue is better than vice, Planned Parenthood and other organizations of that ilk are opting to encourage vice by convincing the Canadian government to relaunch a nationwide campaign to "reeducate" the young people that they can't be good because that would put them their organizations out of business. Talk about bizarre! continued inside.


       ONTARIO, Canada ( - French young people are abandoning sexual promiscuity and opting for abstinence until marriage, a trend seen negatively by sex educators and AIDS groups, according to a report in a Canadian newspaper.

       Canada's National Post newspaper reported on Monday that the new commitment to chastity and marriage is expected to result in an "amazing 70%" increase in marriages in 2000. Commentator Susan Martinuk noted that sex educators and AIDS groups are labeling the trend as evidence of gross ignorance about the "virtues" of safe sex -- in other words, children are refraining from sexual relations because of unjustified fears over the ramifications of promiscuous behavior. These organizations have convinced the government to launch a new nationwide sex education program to fix this "problem."

       Martinuk added that, like the French, Planned Parenthood of Canada is committed to promoting "sex positivity" -- teaching about sex within a context of "sexual pleasure" rather than married love and conception of children.

       Among the strategies being devised by the "sex positivists" are a plan to replace the term STD (sexually transmitted disease) with the softer term, STI (sexually transmitted infection). "Apparently the term 'disease' caused too much worry," wrote Martinuk. "Given this milieu, it isn't surprising that teen pregnancies in Canada increased 15.3 percent between 1987 and 1995 -- even as sex programs and condom machines flooded the schools."

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      Britain's Bishops plead: "Reinstill the virtues of marriage and celibacy before it's too late!"

         Meanwhile in Britain, Catholic and Anglican bishops jointly called for England's parliament to promote traditional Judeo-Christian teaching on marriage and the values and virtues of young couples saving themselves until after they have professed their wedding vows. This latest appeal revolves around the infamous Section 28 measure that would give credence to same-sex marriages and promote the homosexual lifestyle which Scotland's Cardinal Thomas Winning, our featured cardinal next Monday, has so vehemently been fighting. continued inside.


       LONDON ( - Britain's Catholic and Anglican bishops today called on the government to promote traditional Christian teaching on marriage and to teach the value of celibacy in sex education.

       Writing in light of the current debate about repealing Section 28 which forbids the promotion of homosexuality in the classroom, the bishops' statement makes no direct mention of homosexual sex but says that children "should be given accurate information which enable them to understand the difference and help them to remove prejudice."

       "Human sexuality is a gift from God and finds its perfect expression within loving life-long marriage," said the bishops. "Traditional Christian marriage should be promoted as the fundamental building block of society, family life, and the proper context for the nurture of children."

       The bishops also stressed that "lifelong celibacy can be fulfilling. In this way of life an individual's sexual instincts may be channeled into generous love and service of others."

       Bishop Vincent Nichols, chairman of the Catholic Education Service, told today's Daily Telegraph that removing a "moral context" from sex education would do little to lessen homophobia. "The best way to prevent prejudice is to build up respect and this is not met by withdrawal of standards," he said. "It is best met by giving pupils information and guidance within a moral framework."

       Baroness Young, who is challenging the government's plans to scrap Section 28, has welcomed the bishops' comments. She told a House of Lords press conference yesterday that children should not be taught that it is "OK to try out different sorts of behavior and see which you feel comfortable with."

       She added: "If I had a homosexual son I wouldn't stop loving him, but that wouldn't mean that I thought it was right. Love often means saying to someone that they have done something wrong." The debate is set to explode on Monday when it reaches the committee stage in the House of Lords.

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       ROME, FEB 3 (ZENIT).- "When the Pope comes to Israel we will be very enthusiastic and greatly honored. We consider him a great friend," Leah Rabin said, while on a visit to Rome to participate in the opening of the academic year of "La Terza" University of Rome. John Paul II will visit the Holy Land during the last week of March.

       Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin's widow emphasized the importance of tolerance for Israel, a country where "three religions have free access: Jewish, Christian, and Muslim." Recalling her meeting with John Paul II after the assassination of her husband, Leah Rabin said: "The Pope, your Pope, gave us, both me and my children, a very special moment. On that occasion, I said that Jerusalem has a double role: political capital of Israel and capital of the three religious confessions. We do not want to deny anyone access to sacred places." ZE00020306

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       SAN SALVADOR ( - Theater owners in El Salvador on Thursday refused to obey a government order banning the showing of the US film "Stigmata," claiming the order was an illegal infringement on the freedom of speech.

       Although the Interior Ministry had previously given permission for the movie to be shown to audiences over 18-years-old, a strong box office showing in its first five days of release and complaints from Catholics compelled it to reverse its decision. The film depicts an irreligious young woman who receives the stigmata, the crucifixion wounds of Christ, as she begins to spout sayings from the Gnostic, false Gospel of Thomas. It then depicts a Vatican investigation that turns into an attempt on her life as her "revelations" threaten to undermine the Catholic Church.

       Edgardo Orellana, who evaluates films for the ministry, said "the Salvadoran people, who are strongly Catholic, have sent telegrams and made phone calls requesting (the movie) be withdrawn to rescue our values." Archbishop Fernando Saenz Lacalle of San Salvador said the Church had not intervened in the government's decision, but added that "there is no right to offend people's most precious and valuable beliefs."

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    February 4-6, 2000     volume 11, no. 25
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