MONDAY     February 7, 2000    vol. 11, no. 26    SECTION THREE

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SECTION THREE Contents: Go immediately to the article:
  • Pope delivers stern message to American politicians
  • Holy Father and Indonesia's president hash over problems
  • Cardinal Winning winning back lapsed Catholics
  • Do you want to be equated to Judas? Don't leave Mass early!
  • Diocese of Caguas protests U.S. Navy artillery on their island
  • Vatican watching Austrian situation very carefully
  • Special surprises in store for sick pilgrims next weekend
  • Latest ShipLogs of visitors to the DailyCATHOLIC

  • WORLDWIDE NEWS & VIEWS with a Catholic slant

    Clinton at Prayer Breakfast bemoans demonization

        VATICAN ( -- In a message to the United States, released on February 5 to coincide with the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, Pope John Paul II has challenged Americans to live up to their responsibilities in defending human life.

        The Pope's message, addressed to the US Congress, was conveyed to the participants in the National Prayer Breakfast-- including President Bill Clinton-- by the papal nuncio in Washington, Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo.

        "We are confronting the burning question of the protection of the inalienable right to life of every human being, from conception to natural death," the Pope wrote. Although his message does not mention specific threats to that right-- such as abortion, euthanasia, and the death penalty-- the Pontiff urges American leaders to provide "legal protection to all the members of the human community, in particular the weakest and most vulnerable."

        The Pope also emphasized the "moral responsibility" of American political leaders. He said that key moral questions cannot be considered as "purely private" affairs, observing that the entire world looks to the United States for leadership, especially on matters involving human rights.

        President Bill Clinton told the 50th annual National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday that the politics of demonization had poisoned Washington, DC, and was making inroads throughout society.

        Speaking to an audience of members of Congress, administration officials, religious leaders, and other visitors, including former Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr, Clinton said he was troubled at the "resurgence of society's oldest demon, the inability to love our closest neighbors as ourselves if they look or worship differently from the rest of us."

        The president pointed to Northern Ireland where continued fighting between Catholic republicans and Protestant unionists threatened the fragile peace accords and joint government; discord in peace talks between Israel, Palestinians, and Syria; border skirmishes between India and Pakistan; and fighting between Christians and Muslims in the Balkans and Indonesia. He then turned his focus to the US where he said ethnic minorities, homosexuals, and religious groups, including Jews, are subject to attacks "because of who they are."

        "And here in Washington, we are not blameless for we often, too, forget in the heat of political battle our common humanity," he said. "We slip from honest difference, which is healthy, into dishonest demonization," Clinton said. "We ignore when we're all tight and in a fight all those biblical admonitions we profess to believe, that we all see through a glass darkly, that with St. Paul we all do what we would not, and we do not do what we would."

        Clinton did not mention specific instances of demonization, but in recent months the president, members of his own party, and campaign workers for Democratic campaigners have used demonization to attack their Republican opponents. In January, Donna Brazile, campaign manager for Vice President Al Gore's presidential campaign, said Republicans would rather take pictures with black children than feed them. In December, other administration officials and Democrat senators called Republican senators racist for voting against confirming a black nominee to a federal judgeship.

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    Wahid Currently Faces Ethnic Conflicts in Mollucas

        VATICAN CITY, FEB 6 (ZENIT).- The touchiest issues of Indonesia's explosive situation were dealt with yesterday by John Paul II and the country's president, Abdurraman Wahid, who came to the Vatican accompanied by a party of ten.

        In the development of the encounters that have taken place in the Holy See between the Indonesian leader and the Bishop of Rome, along with the Secretary of State of the Vatican Cardinal Sodano, opinions about the situation of Indonesia were exchanged, "giving particular attention to interreligious dialogue and to peaceful coexistence between the various communities of the country," explained an official note from the Vatican Press Office at the end of the meetings. Also mentioned were "the situation of the two parts of the island of Timor, and that of the Asian Continent in general."

        A moderate Muslim and "layman," Wahid, 59 years old, visited the Pope at the end of his tour of the European capitals.

        Indonesia was described by the international news report of "Radio Vatican" as "a country in search of a stable democracy, menaced by the risk of a coup d'état at the hands of the military." This nation experiences violent, historical separatist currents, some of which "have been partially resolved -- such as the case of East Timor -- while others have reached a worrying point of crisis, as is the case in the province of Aceh. The economical and social imbalance between the Muslim majority and the Christian minority has provoked conflicts that in the Molucan archipelago have taken the lives of 1,700 since the end of last year," indicated the report.

        With 200 million inhabitants, Indonesia is the country with the largest Islamic population. The future of the nation now rests in the hands of Wahid, who the radio report described as "a man capable of establishing democratic ideals, a statesman more inclined to dialog than to exercise power in an authoritarian way -- political characteristics that have won him international recognition."

        Upon taking power Wahid proposed two objectives: to preserve the territorial integrity of Indonesia, and to put its economic regeneration into motion. These are two tremendous challenges for a country that has been humiliated by the events in East Timor, and which is undergoing a delicate phase of transition from an autocratic regime, based on military power, to democracy. But President Wahid has moved decisively, maintaining united all the pieces which form the complex Indonesian mosaic of diverse ethnic groups, religions, social situations, and economic realities.

        The referendum that gave East Timor its independence has undoubtedly enkindled the secessionist hopes of other provinces such as Aceh and Rianjaya, whose battle against the capital Jakarta has lasted years, embittered by the brutal repression unleashed in the past by the army against the civilian population. Until now, Wahid has attempted to offer ample autonomy on the one hand, and, on the other, to deter those who wish to impose martial law so as to prevent new manifestations of those seeking independence.

        Wahid's success is not guaranteed, but he is using every chance available to demonstrate that things have indeed changed in Jakarta, and that the international community can trust the new government, especially when it comes to respect for human rights.

        In this regard, his confrontation with General Wiranto, whom the investigating Commission created by Wahid singled out as one of the Generals responsible for the crimes committed in East Timor, is of particular interest. The future of Wahid could depend on the outcome of this battle, given that the most severe threats to his plans stem from military circles close to the ex-dictator Suharto, who withdrew in May 1998.

        It is precisely for this reason that Wahid toured the old Continent: with his visit to Europe and the Vatican, Wahid seeks the West's support of his political project. ZE00020608

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        GLASGOW ( - Every Catholic family in Glasgow Archdiocese is to receive a personal letter from Scotland's Cardinal Thomas Winning inviting them to rediscover the power of God.

        The letter, which will be delivered to 100,000 homes over the next few weeks, as part of the archdiocese's Jubilee Year Project to reach those Catholics who do not come to church.

        "Our priority is to reach out to all the baptized, not just those who attend Mass," Father Paul Conroy told the February edition of Flourish. "The Church is a place where people are entitled to be welcome and belong even if they do not exercise that experience. We want to make sure that message reaches every Catholic family."

        Father Conroy, who is Glasgow's Episcopal Vicar for Pastoral Action, continued: "The Jubilee Project aims to give the maximum number of people an experience of the kind of neighborhood group which could be a central and permanent part of our diocesan programme of renewal."

        "We have to bridge the gap between life and faith," he continued. "Too often what we profess and how we live our lives are at odds. By coming together and looking at our lives in the light of the Gospel, then we can support and encourage each other to more effectively witness to the life of Christ."

        Cardinal Winning's letter invites Catholics to "make a journey of faith and discovery with me this year."

        He writes: "This is the year to come back to God and the Church. Let's find out together how alive and active the Gospel is. Let's take the Good News into our families and build up communities formed by the Gospel."

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        LONDON ( - A Worcestershire, England, priest has admonished his parishioners who leave Sunday Mass before the end by reminding them that the traitor Judas was the first to leave the Last Supper.

        Father Patrick Brannigan shocked some of the congregation at St. Peter's Church, Bromsgrove, by telling them he knew that people were disappearing from the back pews the moment his back was turned.

        "I know it was a bit naughty of me," he told today's Universe newspaper, "but I am tired of people tripping out while I am turned to face the altar during the final hymn. The back pews are full when I do this and then by the time I turn around they are empty."

        "I reminded them that Judas was the only person to leave the Last Supper early," he said.

        Some of the escapees claimed they had no choice as they risked missing the bus home but Father Brannigan said the excuse didn't explain such an exodus. "I am sure that many do have to catch a bus," he said. "But if everyone was doing so the bus would be full before it set off."

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        SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico ( - The Apostolic Administrator of Caguas, Bishop Alvaro Corrada del Rio, has announced that the Diocese will establish a tent on the island of Vieques, as a way to protest peacefully against its use as a firing range by the US Navy.

        Vieques island has been at the center of a tense debate between Puerto Rico and Washington. Located in the past in an unpopulated area of Puerto Rico, the island was used for naval weapons training with live ammunition. Since the population has grown in the region of Caguas, moving closer to the island, Puerto Ricans have been asking the Navy to stop using the island for the risk it represents to the population and the environment. In a recent agreement, President Bill Clinton has announced that maneuvers will stop in the year 2003, but many in Caguas think the offer is not satisfactory.

        Bishop Corrada del Rio, a former Auxiliary Bishop of Washington, DC, arrived on February 2 with a delegation of Catholics, including Vieques' pastor, Father Nelson Lopez, to establish the protest tent where a group of lay people will remain for "several days."

        "The tent, placed in the forbidden area under control of the Navy, is a way to express peacefully our protest and frustration at the way the Puerto Rican governor and the President have decided the future of the area without even taking into account the urgent needs of the people," said Bishop Corrada. "Once again, only the Church seems to be standing for them."

        Bishop Corrada, a Spanish-born Jesuit, said that a priest each day will join the group of protesters, and that he has "strongly emphasized that this must be a peaceful protest, and that no force must be used against" the eventual enforcers.

        Before departing for the protest area, Bishop Corrada celebrated a Mass in honor of Our Lady of Candelaria and exhorted all Catholics to pray for a solution to the conflict.

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        VATICAN ( -- The Vatican is closely monitoring the political situation in Austria, but not rushing to react to the installation of a new government, according to Cardinal Angelo Sodano.

        Cardinal Sodano, the Vatican Secretary of State, cautioned that "we should not move too fast" in reacting to the inclusion of the right-wing Freedom Party in the Austrian cabinet. "The Holy See does not have the habit of making premature judgments about individuals or programs," he said.

        The European Union has already announced sanctions against Austria because of the inclusion of the Freedom Party, whose leaders have made (and later retracted) some statements indicating sympathies for the Nazi regime.

        If the new Austrian government does undertake any projects "contrary to Christian morality," the cardinal continued, Catholic citizens of Austria should be among the first to respond. The Austrian bishops would be next in line to speak out against such policies, he added, "and then, after that, the Holy See." He concluded by saying, "If the new government has anything to say, the Holy See is always ready to talk."

        The Austrian bishops' conference has taken a similar approach. Vienna's Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, the president of the bishops' conference, issued a statement indicating that "the bishops will not intervene in the formation of the government, but will examine its programs carefully." He said that the bishops would be especially interested in how the government handles "the important questions involving justice, tolerance, peace, human rights, and respect for life in all its stages." Cardinal Schoenborn himself celebrated Mass in the Vienna cathedral on Friday, February 4, offering the Eucharistic sacrifice for "the political situation today" in Austria.

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    Unique Projects being Planned to Receive Pilgrims

        VATICAN CITY, FEB 6 (ZENIT). - From February 10-13, thousands of pilgrims will witness to the fact that "suffering has a positive meaning," when they come to celebrate the Jubilee of the Sick and Health Care Workers. Yesterday, at the Holy See's press office, Archbishop Javier Lozano Barragan, president of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Assistance to Health Care Workers, presented the program and objective of this project. Also, Pope John Paul II showed his deep interest in this celebration today in his Angelus message, inviting all those suffering from illness to unite themselves to this Jubilee celebration.

        Some 20 thousand pilgrims are expected to participate in this celebration, 4,100 of them will be victims of various illnesses. The Holy See has seen to it that the participants of this event will find adequate lodging in hotels or private houses.

        The sick will be accompanied by those dedicated to their service: nurses, pharmacists, and, obviously, doctors. The most important events will be the opening Mass, which will be held Thursday at St. Paul Outside the Walls and the Jubilee Mass in St. Peter's Square, celebrated by the Holy Father. During this Mass the Holy Father will personally administer the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick to ten pilgrims stricken by illness. On Friday afternoon pilgrims will process with candles in hand down the Via della Conciliazione to St. Peters Square, where they will be treated to a festival of lights and sounds. The organizers have not revealed the details of this event in order to keep it a surprise.

        On Saturday, at the Colosseum, a Way of the Cross will be held. A few hours later the pilgrims will once again meet for a celebration in Paul IV Hall. For this Jubilee celebration, during the most important events, there will be a radio and television hook-up with some of the most important Marian Shrines like Czestochowa, Guadalupe, Lourdes, Yamossoukro (Ivory Coast), Sydney, and the U.S. National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

        Archbishop Lozano says that the purpose of this Jubilee celebration is "to tell the whole world that suffering has a positive meaning, and more than this, that it can become a source of life for all of humanity when it is lived with Christ. Any sick person can offer his suffering to Christ in order to find meaning in it. In this way he unites his afflictions to the Redeemer's, transforming them into a wellspring of integral health, including physical." ZE00020607

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    February 7, 2000     volume 11, no. 26
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