TUESDAY     February 8, 2000    vol. 11, no. 27    SECTION THREE

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SECTION THREE Contents: Go immediately to the article:
  • Catholic population on the rise
  • Papal Nuncio gives good grades to new Indonesian President
  • Auxiliary Bishop Gumbleton up to his old tricks of embarassing himself and the Church
  • Bishop Pilla entreats Goodyear Blimp to go lightly on Italian town
  • Knights to bestow highest honor on Cardinal Hickey
  • Maronites kick off Jubilee celebration tomorrow in Rome
  • Illinois governor's moratorium gives Cardinal George and his fellow bishops reason for optimism
  • Latest ShipLogs of visitors sailing on the DailyCATHOLIC

  • WORLDWIDE NEWS & VIEWS with a Catholic slant continued


        VATICAN (CWNews.com) -- For the first time since 1978, the number of priests in the world rose last year. That was one of the key findings in a compilation of statistics about the Catholic Church, issued by the Vatican on February 5.

        The Annuario Pontificio, released each year by the Holy See, is a thick (this year, 2,350 pages) red volume, which contains a variety of official statistics about Catholic dioceses, religious institutes, the Church diplomatic corps, and the Roman Curia. The latest edition furnishes the latest available statistics as of December 31, 1999.

        The number of priests in the world at the end of 1999 was 404,626-- up 0.1 percent from the figure for 1998, which was 101,208. The number of seminarians preparing for the priesthood increased by a slightly greater margin-- from 109,171 to 109,828, or 0.6 percent. There have been similarly small but nevertheless encouraging increases in the numbers of permanent deacons, lay catechists, and missionaries.

        The world's Catholic population has also grown, by about 40 million. The new Annuario Pontificio sets the number of baptized Catholics at 1, 045,000, or roughly 17.4 percent of the entire world population. Nearly half of that Catholic population-- 49.5 percent-- lives in the Western hemisphere. Europe now accounts for only 27.8 percent of the world's Catholics; Africa for 11.4 percent, Asia 10.5 percent, and Oceania only 0.8 percent.

        The only continent on which Catholics constitute a majority is the Americas (which the Vatican treats as a single continent, embracing North and South America); there Catholics constitute 63.1 percent of the total population. In Europe, Catholics comprise 41.4 percent of the population; in Oceania 26.9 percent; in African 15.6 percent, and in Asia only 3.1 percent. Those statistics were essentially unchanged during the past year.

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        JAKARTA (CWNews.com/Fides) - "This president is a blessing for Indonesia," said Archbishop Renzo Fratini, apostolic nuncio in Jakarta, referring to Abdurrahman Wahid.

        "He is a man dedicated to achieving ethnic and religious harmony and democracy," the archbishop continued. "In only two years, Indonesia has made giant steps forward in politics, economy, and regarding its international credibility. The leadership of Gus Dur [as Wahid is generally called] is decisive in this phase of transition from the old regime to democracy. What is more, now the army is on the President's side."

        Archbishop Fratini commented on what might come of Wahid's visit to Europe and to the Vatican this and last week. "The president's visit to the Holy Father is of great significance for peace, unity, and religious harmony in Indonesia. The religious implications of the encounter are evident: Wahid represents moderate Islam and the visit will help to consolidate the path of dialogue between Christians and Muslims in Indonesia and throughout the world," he said. The nuncio added that he is sure the encounter will send a clear signal of reconciliation for the internal struggle in the country, particularly the present conflict in the Malukus.

        "Wahid has always been known as a moderate leader," the archbishop concluded. "For some time now he has had regular contact with the Sant'Egidio Community in Rome, as a personality committed to Muslim/Christian dialogue. The visit will help to strengthen relations between Muslims and Catholics."

        Indonesia is the most populous Muslim majority country in the world, although there are sizeable Christian populations in the former Dutch and Portuguese colonies of the Spice Islands (Malukus) and East Timor. Muslim and Christian gangs have been warring in the Malukus, leaving thousands dead over the past year and East Timor saw widespread bloodshed following an independence vote last August.

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        DETROIT (CWNews.com) - An auxiliary bishop of Detroit on Sunday rallied in the suburb of Ferndale for the passage of a new city ordinance that would ban discrimination against homosexuals and lesbians and would not exempt churches or church-run organizations, according to the Detroit News newspaper.

        Bishop Thomas Gumbleton spoke at a rally at St. James Catholic Church in Ferndale in support of the ordinance that will go before voters on February 22. "This will send a message that we do not tolerate any discrimination in this community," he said. "Every person has certain rights that extend beyond how they act or live."

        The proposed ordinance, which was approved 4-1 by the Ferndale City Council in September, makes it illegal to discriminate against anyone regarding employment, housing, public accommodations, and public services on the basis of race; color; religion; gender; age; height or weight; marital status; sexual orientation; familial status; national origin; or physical or mental disability.

        If passed violators, including churches that refuse to hire homosexuals for positions in charities, educational positions, day care centers, or even the clergy, would face $500 fines and civil lawsuits.

        A spokesman for the Archdiocese of Detroit said the Church support human rights for all people and asked whether the ordinance would "give homosexuals the green light to practice their acts?" Opponents claim it would. Former city councilman Robert Paczkowski said, "This ordinance is a smoke screen to promote homosexual lifestyles. I don't think a city ordinance should promote same-sex love-making." He added, "Everyone is protected by the same laws. No one is discriminating against gays in this city. They are just trying to get more leverage in their gay movement."

        Paczkowski also commented on Bishop Gumbleton's appearance at St. James, where the former councilor is a member. "Gumbleton is the most (left)-winged individual you'll find and everyone has been trying to shut him up for years," he said. "He's a full-blown liberal and (St. James) church has recently been headed in that same direction."

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    Bishop of Cleveland Pleads with the Multinational's President

        CLEVELAND, FEB 7 (ZENIT).- The future is uncertain for 570 Italian Goodyear factory workers in Cisterna, Italy, following the American corporation's decision to close the plant. Nevertheless, a ray of hope has appeared in the last few days.

        Thanks to the intervention of Bishop Anthony Michael Pilla of Cleveland, where the head offices of Goodyear are located, an Italian delegation headed by the Mayor of Cisterna met with Samir Gibara, president of the international tire corporation. Gibara did not make any concrete commitments, but affirmed that on February 18, instead of definitively shutting down the factory, production may be halted for one month, thus giving the union and the Italian government time to find alternative solutions.

        During the meeting possible means of assistance for plant workers were discussed, in the case that the doors are permanently shut. For the time being, the Cisterna delegation is concentrating on saving the jobs.

        Goodyear is one of the most well-known multinationals in the tire industry, but the recent acquisition of factories belonging to other companies, and the restructuring demanded by the globalization of the economy, have led Goodyear management to close factories in several countries, such as England, Argentina, and Brazil. Last November, the European branch announced its plan to cease its operations in Italy, provoking a strong reaction in the workers and citizens of Cisterna.

        Bishop Giuseppe Petrocchi of Latina, the diocese in which Cisterna is located, then wrote to Bishop Pilla, president of the American Bishops Conference until 1998, who requested that his director of social action to look into the problem, organizing a meeting between Goodyear management and representatives of the Italian workers.

        According to observers, even if the chance of influencing the decisions of a multinational corporation obliged to face challenges posed by globalization are slim, the fact of having introduced the human factor as an element to be considered may change the dynamics of the decision-making process. ZE00020701

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        NEW HAVEN, CONNECTICUT, FEB 7 (ZENIT).- The Knights of Columbus announced today that its highest honor, the Gaudium et Spes Award, will be conferred on Cardinal James Hickey of Washington on April 1. The award recognizes individuals for their extraordinary contributions to the realization of the message of faith and service in the spirit of Christ as it is articulated in the landmark document for which the award is named. The only two previous recipients of the award are Mother Teresa of Calcutta and Cardinal John O'Connor, Archbishop of New York. An honorarium of $100,000 accompanies the award.

        The Gaudium et Spes award is conferred only in special circumstances upon persons of extraordinary merit. "Clearly these conditions are met in the case of His Eminence Cardinal James Hickey," said Supreme Knight Virgil C. Dechant. "His distinguished career of committed service is itself a 'special circumstance' of the most remarkable kind, while his courageous leadership as a priest, Bishop and Prince of the Church has been extraordinary in all respects, most especially as signaled by his devotion to the faith and his loyalty to and love for the Holy Father and the Magisterium." ZE00020722

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      Maronites to celebrate Jubilee tomorrow in Rome

        His Beatitude Cardinal Mar Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir , Patriarch of the Maronite Church will celebrate Mass in St. Mary Major Basilica tomorrow as the first eastern rite to celebrate the Jubilee this year. It is to show solidarity with Rome and celebrate their unique roots dating back to the use of Aramaic, the language Christ spoke. continued inside.


        VATICAN CITY, FEB 7 (ZENIT).- A series of Jubilee celebrations in the diverse rites of the Catholic Church will begin on Wednesday February 9. The first, to take place in Saint Mary Major, will be the Jubilee of the Maronite Rite.

        His Beatitude Cardinal Pierre Nasrallah Sfeir, Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites, will preside the Mass (Syro-Antiochian Maronite Rite) at 5:00p.m. in the Basilica of St. Mary Major. Among the concelebrants will be Cardinal Achille Silvestrini, Prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Oriental Churches, and numerous bishops from Lebanon.

        Pilgrims will arrive from every continent to participate in the Jubilee of the Lebanese Catholic community, known as the Maronite Church. Simultaneous Jubilee celebrations will take place on February 9 in Lebanon and in parishes that offer the Maronite liturgy around the world. Among those present will be Monsignor Emile Eid, procurator in Rome of the Patriarchy of Antioch of the Maronites. He explains that the Maronite rite has two principal characteristics, one formal, the other substantial. "The formal characteristic is that of language: we speak a language, Aramaic, that was used by Christ and the first apostles, before [the language of the Church] changed to Greek, which was the language of the Middle-Eastern culture. The second characteristic," he continued, "is substantial. It is clear that the apostles -- Jews -- used the same prayers that were recited in the synagogue or in the Temple. When Christ instituted the Last Supper, that is to say the bloodless sacrifice of his death, so that his presence would be perpetuated throughout the centuries, this prayer was converted into a substantial part of the liturgy, with the consecration that makes Jesus Christ present and alive among us." ZE00020708

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      Cardinal George sees progress in politicians rethinking the death penalty

        Chicago's Cardinal Francis E. George, OMI has praised the Illinois Governor's decision for moratorium on the death penalty while federal laws are studied by the president in an effort, Cardinal George and his fellow bishops hope and pray, that the death penalty will be abolished as part of the culture of life program that the Holy Father has campaigned for so vigorously. continued inside.

    Clinton studies suspension of Federal Death Penalty for too many erroneous sentences raise serious questions

        CHICAGO-WASHINGTON, D.C., 7 (NE)(ZENIT) - In a recent public statement, Cardinal Francis George, Archbishop of Chicago, praised the decision taken by Gov. George Ryan to impose a moratorium on Illinois' death penalty until its procedures have been reviewed, topic in which many North American bishops have been insisting and which has been clearly denounced by Pope John Paul II during his visit to St. Louis last year. The Cardinal emphasized that it is the "first Governor of the 38 states with capital punishment to halt all executions until the procedures of the death penalty are reviewed." "A good response to violence in our neighborhoods is not capital punishment but, rather, the ongoing reform of the legal and correctional systems, the strengthening of family life and other ties, and the fostering of respect for the dignity of all human life," the Archbishop of Chicago affirmed.

        Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C. ZENIT reports that the debate about capital punishment has reached the desk of the President of the United States, Bill Clinton, who is currently studying the possibility of suspending the death penalty at the federal level, just days after a similar measure was taken by the governor of Illinois.

        Joe Lockhart, spokesman for the President, confessed that the leader is "concerned" about the decision of Governor George Ryan to suspend the death penalty in order to undertake an exhaustive study about the manner in which it is applied.

        Ryan imposed a moratorium on executions in his state confronted with the fear that innocent people might die. In fact, from 1976 to date, Illinois has executed twelve prisoners, but has had to release thirteen people who had been unjustly convicted and sentenced to death. With further resources or new investigations, the condemned parties were able to demonstrate the mistakes made by the Courts.

        The petition Clinton will analyze at the federal level was presented by Senator Russ Feingold (Democrat, Wisconsin). Besides asking for a moratorium, Feingold requested that Clinton order the Minister of Justice, Janet Reno, to conduct a study regarding the form in which the death penalty has been applied at the federal level, "in light of the serious interrogatives raised in Illinois."

        The decision to study the problem was made known hours after the Supreme Court suspended, without further explanations, the execution of a convicted murderer assassin in the State of Alabama. He had appealed his case on the grounds that the electric chair constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.

        Capital punishment was reestablished in the United States in 1976. Since then, more than 500 prisoners have been executed, a third of them in the state of Texas; some three thousand people are on death row in America's penitentiaries.

        Execution for more common crimes, generally homicides, falls under the jurisdiction of state authorities. The death penalty becomes the decision of the central government when federal crimes such as drug trafficking, kidnapping, or attacks on federal institutions are involved.

        According to Feingold, of 21 people condemned to death by federal courts, at least 15 are come from minorities. The first convict to be executed for a federal crime since 1993 would likely be Juan Raśl Garza, a Hispanic prisoner who has run out of appeals. ZE00020710

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    February 8, 2000     volume 11, no. 27
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