WEDNESDAY   January 26, 2000   vol. 11, no. 18   SECTION ONE

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SECTION ONE Contents: Go immediately to the article:
  • Dr. Frank Joseph's Pro-Life Prescriptions: LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL!
  • 2000 YEAR VOYAGE ON THE BARQUE OF PETER: Installment 35
  • Appreciating the Precious Gift of our Faith: Epistle of St. James
  • COLLEGE OF CARDINALS - Cardinal Miloslav Vlk

  • Legislating the legality of life means love for the innocent preborns

       A growing wave is swelling in America to not only reaffirm, but legalize the right to life for all - born and preborn. In today's column, Frank Joseph, MD, a committed retired Catholic physician from Southern California, publishes the proposal called The Constitutional Right to Life Act of 2000 which goes to great lengths to reinforce what our Constitution protects and which the pro-aborts have been violating for years as we continue this special pro-life column for the DailyCATHOLIC throughout this Respect Life Week 2000. For his column today, see Pro-Life Prescriptions: LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL!

    The Constitutional Right to Life Act of 2000

       Read this carefully. While it is not religious in tone, it strikes at the very heart of Catholic belief as the inalienable right to life as God intended and that is endorsed by the United States Bishops. We can read it and say "that's too bad, abortion is wrong, hope they do something about it" and I can guarantee nothing will get done. Or we can get down on our knees and pray and then take advantage of these opportunities to be heard through pro-life organizations on the net, in your parish and community. We have to take action or it will be too late. Think about it and pray!

       God bless,

    Dr. Frank

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    A holy monk named Hildebrand becomes Pope Saint Gregory VII
    He and two holy succeeding Popes attempt to restore the Church to its pure mission that Christ intended, but outside forces once again raise their ugly head late in the eleventh century

        We continue our on-going series of this abridged History of the Mass and Holy Mother Church over a 2000 year span called 2000 YEAR VOYAGE ON THE BARQUE OF PETER. Today we cover the later part of the second half of the Eleventh Century from Pope Saint Gregory VII to the edge of the twelfth century with Blessed Pope Urban II who initiated the First Crusade. For Installment thirty-five The New Millennium: The new Gregorian influence from a man named Hildebrand, see BARQUE OF PETER

    Installment 35: A New Millennium

    The new Gregorian influence from a man named Hildebrand

          With the death of Pope Alexander II the way was finally clear for the holy monk who had counseled six Popes before him. That was the priest known simply as Hildebrand who was unanimously elected on April 22, 1073 the day after Alexander died. This time Hildebrand knew it was the will of God for him to assume the Papal throne and he chose the name Pope Gregory VII out of deference to Pope Gregory VI who had conferred minor orders on him and who Hildebrand was mentor to in 1046. His first order of business was to set into motion a program of reform that was far and beyond any curriculum his successors had proposed. But he could not implement this until he had cleaned out the curia where corruption abounded. Once he was able to accomplish this and appoint new, loyal clergy to these posts he launched the reforms insisting that every Catholic in the world must be obedient to the Church and Christ's representative on earth - the Sovereign Pontiff. He reiterated in his Dictatus Papae that the Pope is universal and no one can judge him for the Vicar of Christ alone can dispense vows.

          There was naturally strong opposition from the German sector for they had been the strongest and felt Gregory's reforms and restrengthening of the Church would weaken them. Add to this Alexander's condemnation of Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV's lay investiture policies and sparks were ready to fly. Henry retaliated by condemning the "evil deeds of the monk Hildebrand" and deposed Gregory. Gregory followed by excommunication the German king at the Lenten Synod in 1076. He also threatened excommunication of any bishop who remained loyal to one who hadbeen handed the bell, book and candle. The bishops, fearful of this, abandoned Henry in droves and this played right into Henry's rivals' hands. To make it tougher on Henry they threw their support behind Pope Gregory and called for a council at Augsburg in February 1077. Henry knew what was up and fearing he would be deposed as king, he intercepted Gregory on the way to Augsburg in the Alps and there humbled himself before the Pope, seeking reconciliation. After making the king sweat for three days, Gregory readmitted him into the Church. Gregory was still leary however for he knew the ulterior motive for Henry was not the sacraments but survival of his kingdom. Because of this Gregory remained neutral at the council, but when Henry renegged on his promises, Gregory had no choice but to excommunicate him again.

          The German king was furious and convened his own council where he conned the convening bishops in Brixen, Germany to depose Gregory and elect their own pontiff - the antipope Clement III. In 1084 Henry marched on Rome and Gregory was forced to take refuge in Castel Sant'Angelo above the Tiber. Supporters of Gregory sent word to the Norman Robert Guiscard for help and the latter rounded up every available soldier he could including the Saracens and marched on Rome defeating Henry. But Rome was now in the hands of the Saracens and things went from bad to worse as they sacked and pillaged everything in the eternal city. Gregory fled to the Benedictine monastery Monte Cassino and when the Saracens threatened to attack the famed abbey, Gregory wanted to preserve the inhabitants there and took off for Salerno where he would have the Normans' protection. There he became physically ill and died on May 25, 1085. Just before expiring, he was quoted as saying "I have loved justice and hated iniquity, therefore I die in exhile." He accepted death in the manner befitting a saint, pardoning all his enemies and absolving all he had excommunicated except for Henry and the antipope Clement III who falsely sat on the chair Gregory VII had represented so well. Though he had wanted to return his beloved Church to its glory and mission as Christ intended, he realized satan was still running amok. Despite all his troubles with Henry and the German imperial house, he strengthened the Church in Poland, Russia and Hungary as well as England, Denmark, France and Spain.

          Early in his pontificate he had wanted to organize a military crusade to retake the holy territory in the mid-east where the Seljuk Turks had flaunted the Eastern Schism and greatly curtailed the Roman Catholic traditions there. But because of his problems with Henry, he had to delay those plans. While many do not realize that it was this holy monk who conceived of the Crusades, it would be left to his successors to carry out this chapter in Church history that carried with it both good and terribly bad decisions that would cost the lives of millions but also bring to Europe a new economy previously unheard of as the history of the Church continued to be intertwined with world history.

          His two successors were both holy men as well. Because of the chaos in Rome it took exactly a year before the conclave chose the French born abbot of Monte Cassino Desiderius who at first turned down the opportunity but then realized it was God's will. On May 24, 1086 he took the name Pope Victor III who would become Blessed Pope Victor III. He had been elected as a compromise choice because of his rapport with the Normans. This was important because Henry had reentrenched himself in Rome and the Normans' help to rid the city of the German king was needed now more than ever. But at the outset Henry and Clement's troops sought to hold the upper hand and Victor was also forced to flee to Monte Cassino where he resigned himself to resuming as abbot there and giving up the papacy. But in July 1087, convinced that the Normans had the numbers to defeat Clement, he returned to Rome after Clement had been deposed in March of the same year. But his stay in the eternal city was shortlived for rumors abounded that Henry IV was on his way to retake Rome and once again Victor retreated to Monte Cassino where he died in his beloved abbey three days later on September 16, 1087.

          Six months after Blessed Victor's death, the cardinals met in Terracina south of Rome where they elected a French cardinal who took the name Pope Urban II on March 12, 1088. Blessed Urban's pontificate lasted eleven years, taking the Church right up to the end of the century but not beyond. While he was a great admirer of Gregory VII, he realized to enforce the reforms St. Gregory had introduced would be akin to all-out rebellion and he did not have the reinforcements to fend off such an insurrection. Therefore he relaxed them to a degree, turning his attention to the assault by Henry who in 1090 reconquered Rome and placed again on the throne Clement III, forcing Urban to flee to southern Italy. In late 1093 Urban was able to return to Rome and, through the coffers of wealthy Roman families, was able to buy off the Lateran in 1094 where he took up residence and four years later the Castel Sant'Angelo fortress. With help from Sicilian forces he was able to regain control of Rome and in debt to them, conceded what many feel was too much to the Normans. It would come back to haunt the Holy See in the next few centuries.

          In the next installment we will delve into the beginning of the Crusades, a campaign that would last over two and a half centuries as we continue with Blessed Urban II, the instigator of the First Crusade.

    Next Wednesday: Installment Thirty-six: A new battlefront: the Crusades.

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    Appreciation of the Epistle of Saint James

       Today we continue with our new series in the search to uncover the wonderful treasures of the Church contained in the great Deposit of Faith, concentrating on the Books of the New Testament with today introducing the Epistle of Saint James. For the ninty-sixth installment, see APPRECIATING THE PRECIOUS GIFT OF OUR FAITH

    installment 96:

          "Besides the fourteen Epistles of Saint Paul, there are seven Catholic Epistles; one of Saint James, two of Saint Peter, three of Saint John, and one of Saint Jude. From the earliest days of the Church these have been called "Catholic" on account of their universal appeal. With the exception of the Second and Third Epistles of St. John, they were circular or encyclical letters sent by these Apostles to various Christian communities of the Church.

          St. James the Less, the author of the first Catholic Epistle, was the son of Alpheus of Cleophas (Matt. 10, 3). His mother Mary was a sister, or a close relative, of the Blessed Virgin, and for that reason, according to Jewish custom, he was sometimes called the brother of the Lord (Gal. 1, 19; cf. Also Matt. 13, 55; Mark 6, 3). The Apostle held a distinguished position in the early Christian community at Jerusalem. St. Paul tells us he was a witness of the Resurrection of Christ (1 Cor. 15, 7); he is also called a "pillar" of the Church, whom St. Paul consulted about the gospel (Gal. 2, 2, 9). According to tradition, he was the first Bishop of Jerusalem, and was at the Council of Jerusalem about the year 50 (Acts 1, 13; 14, 4ff; 21, 18; Gal. 1, 19). The historians Eusebius and Hegesippus relate that St. James was martyred for the faith by the Jews in the spring of the year 62, although they greatly esteemed his person and had given him the surname of "James the Just."

          Catholic tradition has always recognized St. James as the author of this Epistle. Internal evidence based on the language, style and teaching of the Epistle reveals its author as a Jew familiar with the Old Testament, and a Christian thoroughly grounded in the teachings of the gospel. External evidence from the early fathers and councils of the Church confirms its authenticity and canonicity.

          The date of its writing cannot be determined exactly. According to some scholars it was written about the year 49. Others, however, claim it was written after St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans (composed during the winter of 57-58). It was probably written between the years 60 and 62.

          St. James addresses himself to the "twelve tribes that are in the Dispersion" (1, 1), that is, to Christians outside Palestine; but nothing in the Epistle indicates that he is thinking only of Jewish Christians. St. James realizes full well the temptations and difficulties they encounter in the midst of paganism, and as a spiritual father, he endeavors to guide and direct them in the faith. Therefore the burden of his discourse is an exhortation to practical Christian living."

      Tomorrow: The First Epistle of St. Peter the Apostle

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    The Archbishop of Prague Cardinal Miloslav Vlk has withstood decades of persecution

        We continue with this special series introducing you to the Princes of the Church. Our one-hundred-fiftieth red-hat we feature, in alphabetical order is 67 year-old Cardinal Miloslav Vlk, the Archbishop of Prague in the Czech Republic since 1991 who suffered under communist persecution for twenty years. He was elevated to the cardinalate by Pope John Paul II during his Consistory of November 26, 1994. For more on Cardinal Miloslav Vlk, see COLLEGE OF CARDINALS COLLECTION

    150.   Cardinal Vlk Miloslav
          The Czech Republic's only cardinal is Cardinal Vlk Miloslav who was born in what was then Czechoslovakia city of Lisnice, also called the region of Bohemia on May 17, 1932. His vocation was strong and he weathered a lot to attain his goal of the priesthood. First in his childhood the Nazi's occupied his country until he was 13. Then during his studies for the priesthood the communists gained control when he was 17, greatly hampering his studies. He was forced to study underground, taking courses at Charles University and other institutions to complete his requirements. This took many years and finally, at the age of 36 in a time when Warsaw Pact troops overthrew the liberal Alexander Dubcek called the "Prague Spring", he was allowed to be ordained on June 23, 1968. But any freedom was short-lived for the new regime was not pro-Catholic and feared Father Miloslav's popularity would turn the people against the government. Therefore state authorities sent him to the remotest region of the diocese - the Bohemian Forest in 1971. Obedient he ministered to the people there until 1978 when the government clamped down and forbid him to practice as a priest. He was forced to take a job as a window-washer in Prague as part of the mandatory manual labor laws, continuing his priestly ministry undercover with satelitte "catecomb groups" who thirsted for the Sacraments.

          This continued for eleven years when political parties were legalized in 1989 and many civil liberties restored as the iron curtain began to tumble in what was called the "velvet revolution." Once again he was allowed to practice his priestly work openly and the people rejoiced. A year later they were ecstatic when Pope John Paul II named him Bishop of Ceske Budejovice on March 31, 1990. No one knew better than this Polish Pontiff what Bishop Vlk had gone through for he too experienced the persecutions of both the Nazis and communists in his homeland. Almost exactly a year later he was elevated to Archbishop of Prague, the Czech Republic's capital and largest city, replacing Cardinal Tomasek on March 27, 1991. In 1992 Czechoslovakia split with Slovakia becoming an independant state as well as the Czech Republic becoming the same as well as joining the United Nations. Prague continued as the capital.

          The Holy Father rewarded Archbishop Vlk for his loyalty with the cardinalate in his Consistory of November 26, 1994 as well as appointing him President of the European Bishops' Conference Council, a tremendous honor. He received the titular church of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem, another great honor. At 68, he remains today the Archbishop of Prague and should continue there for the next seven years or so, bring stability to this see that suffered so much persecution during the 20th Century. In addition to those duties he is still President of the European Episcopal Conference as well as having curial membership in the Congregation of Oriental Churches and the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.

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    January 26, 2000     volume 11, no. 18
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