THURSDAY    January 27, 2000   vol. 11, no. 19   SECTION THREE

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SECTION THREE Contents: Go immediately to the article:
WORLDWIDE NEWS & VIEWS with a Catholic slant:
  • Sizing up the candidates
  • Pope extolls the Trinity in his Weekly Papal Audience
  • Papal Nuncio avoids confrontation in Chiapas
  • Cuban bishops see grave double standard with Castro and liberal theology recipient of award
  • More problems in Guatemala over Bishop's unsolved murder
  • Holy Father to celebrate special Mass honoring religious

    Comparison of Democratic, Republican, and Reform Candidates

       ROME, JAN 26 (ZENIT).- As the U.S. primary season gets underway, Americans are reviewing the stances of the candidates to choose the right person to govern the country for the next four years. This election is especially important, as it is probable that the next president will appoint three Supreme Court justices, establishing the balance of power in that body for some time. The Court currently has 4 strongly pro-choice members, 3 strongly pro-life members, and two "swing votes."

       As a service to our American readers, ZENIT presents here a review of where the candidates for the major parties stand on several typically "Catholic" issues. Since many of the issues are more political than moral, and there are many non-quantifiable issues, such as integrity, ZENIT cannot make a recommendation of who to vote for, but we hope that this information will be useful in making an informed choice. More information on the candidates and their stances, as well as a "Candidate Chooser" program, is available at

    The Republicans

       In general, the Republicans favor less government involvement in businesses and the states. Poverty programs tend to be in the areas of education rather than direct handouts. In recent years, they have also been more consistently pro-life and pro-family than the Democrats, though there have been notable exceptions. Some Republicans are now pushing for the party to downplay its pro-life stances (as "divisive"), but this risks alienating their "religious right" constituency.

    The Democrats

       The Democrats are labeled as the "liberals" in U.S. politics, though by European standards, most are "center left" or even slightly conservative. They typically support increased governmental control over industry, as well as welfare subsidies for the poor. On moral issues, they are normally pro-choice and pro-homosexuality.

      Bill Bradley

       &bnsp; Bill Bradley is a former Senator from New Jersey. He also played in the NBA and was a Rhodes Scholar in college. He is strongly pro-choice, seeking strong measures against clinic terrorism. He is concerned about hate crimes, and wants to make tolerance and racial unity "a common sense notion."

         Bradley supports a federal death penalty for first-degree murders in the District of Columbia and voted against restricting capital punishment in some crimes. However, he supports the right of those convicted to appeal in the Federal courts. He voted against funding international narcotics control programs, but supports tough gun control measures.

         Bradley feels that by eliminating unnecessary weapons systems, the country can get by with modest increases in defense spending. He says that the U.S. should depend on international organizations to respond to ethnic conflicts. He sees relations with Mexico, Japan, China, Russia, and Germany as key to American economic interests and advocates free trade and open markets.

         Bradley supports gays serving in the military openly. He feels that civil rights also applies to sexual orientation. However, he is cautious about giving state sanction to same-sex marriages.

         Bradley is strongly against any plan that would divert funding from public schools to private schools (vouchers). He says that after approving various experiments, he does not believe that vouchers will help public education.

      Albert (Al) Gore Jr.

         Al Gore is Clinton's Vice-President. He was previously a Senator from Tennessee. He is pro-choice, saying that abortions should be "safe and rare." He wants to increase security around abortion clinics. As Senator, Gore's votes on moral issues coincided with "Christian Voice" only 9% of the time.

         Gore's web site says that he helped to design one of the most successful anti-crime strategies in modern history: more community police, tougher punishment, and smarter prevention. He supports gun control and background checks.

         Gore supports a strong military and development of advanced weaponry. He believes America should lead the way in promoting universal freedom and democracy. He would expand U.S. investments abroad and supports free trade.

         The Vice President supports ENDA, a federal employment non-discrimination law for gays and lesbians. He is also willing to support legal protections for "domestic partnerships." He considers the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy to be discriminatory.

         Gore opposes school vouchers, saying that they would hurt public schools. He wants every classroom connected to the Internet. He also wants to expand after-school care for children as a solution to the drug problem.

    The Reform Party

    The Reform Party was formed by Ross Perot as an alternative to the traditional two-party system. Reform Party candidates and members can be all over the map as regards the various issues, as is clear from this year's two candidates. They tend, however, to be fiscally conservative.

      Patrick J. (Pat) Buchanan

         Pat Buchanan is a political commentator on CNN. He was an aide to President Nixon, but has since left the Republicans for the Reform Party. He believes that life begins at conception and would push a Constitutional amendment to protect the rights of the unborn. He would consider pro-life stance as a "litmus test" for potential running mates or Supreme Court nominees. He feels that "America is locked in a cultural war for the soul of our country." He supports the re-establishment of traditional values: patriotism, loyalty, courage, and decency.

         While general tough on crime, Buchanan would allow medicinal use of marijuana by the terminally ill. He opposes gun control, believing that it would not curb violence.

         Buchanan holds that America must restore its military might in order to contain threats abroad. He also supports deploying a missile defense system. However he favors an isolationist policy. Once a firm supporter of sanctions against "rogue nations," he now says that the U.S. embargo is the main pillar of Castro's power. He cited the Holy Father's and U.S. Bishops' opposition to the embargo in a speech last December: "These clerics are giving witness to the deepest traditions of Christian ethical teaching on the most difficult of human problems." He is in favor of tariffs to protect American jobs.

         Buchanan supports tuition vouchers and tax-free education savings accounts. He wants to abolish the Department of Education, returning control to the communities.

      Donald Trump

         Donald Trump is a real estate developer. He joined the Reform Party because Democrats were too liberal and Republicans too far to the right. He has not presented positions on all of the issues. He supports abortion rights, but says that he is personally uncomfortable with the procedure. He is not a moral crusader by any means, having "talked sex" with shock radio host Howard Stern on a national program.

         He supports isolationist foreign policy, agreeing with Pat Buchanan that the U.S. is overextended. He "hates" the North American Free Trade Agreement, and would repeal Most Favored Nation status for China. ZE00012620

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       VATICAN ( -- In his public audience of Wednesday, January 26, Pope John Paul II continued his catechetical series on the Trinity, and cited the English Catholic writer G. K. Chesterton as he spoke of "the glory of the Trinity in creation."

       The Holy Father quoted Chesterton's observation that today's society "does not lack for marvels, but lacks a sense of the marvelous." The Pope said that main is called to contemplate the beauty of creation, and marvel at the way in which creation reflects the glory of God. He added that "when nature is not violated and humiliated, she becomes a sister to mankind."

       At the conclusion of his audience, the Pope offered his personal greetings to some of the 7,000 pilgrims who had gathered in the Paul VI auditorium to hear him. Speaking in English, he offered his prayers and condolences to the American students at Seton Hall University, in New Jersey, where a fire in a dormitory killed three undergraduates last week. He also greeted a group of Belarussian youngsters who are now living with Italian families.

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       MEXICO CITY ( - The papal nuncio to Mexico refused to attend the retirement ceremony for controversial Chiapas Bishop Samuel Ruiz on Tuesday because of "serious" statements made by the bishop's supporters, according the nunciature.

       Archbishop Justo Mullor said he decided not to travel to San Cristobal de las Casas following statements made by Fathers Gonzalo Ituarte and Felipe Toussaint that were "very serious for the Vatican." By contrast, he praised Bishop Raul Vera Lopez, the former coadjutor bishop of San Cristobal, on his transfer to the Diocese of Saltillo. Archbishop Mullor said Bishop Vera's comments were instead not "gratuitous and void of all ecclesiastical sense."

       Bishop Ruiz was to step down on Tuesday after 40 years as head of the diocese in a ceremony attended by nearly 1,000. The bishop became controversial in recent years for his perceived adherence to Liberation Theology and support of extremist Indian groups fighting the Mexican government for independence. Bishop Ruiz announced his retirement on his birthday last November upon reaching the canonical age limit of 75.

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       HAVANA ( - A source of the Bishops' Conference in Cuba described as "frustrating" the decision of well-known Brazilian liberation theologian Frei Betto to receive a medal from the Cuban government.

       On Friday, January 21 , Dominican Father Carlos Alberto Libanio Christo, widely known as "Frei Betto" became the first Catholic priest ever to receive the "Medal of Friendship," given by Cuba's State Council -- which is headed by President Fidel Castro -- to those who express "public and open support to the Socialist Revolution" in the Island.

       The medal was given to Frei Betto by Cuban Vice President Carlos Lage. During the ceremony, the Brazilian-born Dominican priest, who published an interview with Castro in 1990, greeted Cuba for its "support to the Third World Countries by sending doctors and nurses and expressing always great solidarity."

       A source at the Cuban Bishops' Conference who asked not to be named said that the Cuban bishops felt "frustrated by the fact that Frei Betto did not use his great influence and friendship with the regime to speak in favor of the rights of Cuban Catholics," but also said that they were "not surprised," because "for many years he (Frei Betto) has openly supported the system and ignores or simply rejects the Church in Cuba," the source added.

       Frei Betto, a strong supporter of Liberation Theology in Brazil, became famous in Latin America when he became an outspoken critic of the Brazilian military dictatorship during the 1970s. Nevertheless, he is frequently criticized for not expressing concern for human right violations in Cuba.

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    Authorities Reorder Priest's Arrest

       GUATEMALA, JAN 26 (ZENIT).- Information related to the murder of Bishop Juan Gerardi, which was obtained by the Secretariat for Strategic Analysis of the Presidency of the Republic, has been lost.

       The denunciation, which appeared in today's issue of the newspaper "Prensa Libre," was reported by Edgar Gutierrez, who is responsible for the Secretariat, and who first realized the dossier was missing when Guatemala's new President, Alfonso Portillo, called for information on the crime, committed on April 26, 1998.

       According to the above sources, the folder was found in the Secretariat "but not its contents."

       Within the next few days, the head of the Secretariat for Strategic Analysis will request the Ministry of Public Affairs to investigate the dossier's disappearance, and deduce the criminal responsibilities of the person responsible. For the moment, everything seems to point to Howard Yang Luke, Gutierrez's predecessor in the post.

       Moreover, yesterday the Guatemalan authorities reordered the arrest of a priest, Fr. Mario Orantes, who was implicated in the murder of Bishop Juan Gerardi. It is the second order of arrest in four days in the murder case of the Bishop who defended human rights.

       Gerardi died in his garage from a blow on the head on April 26, 1998, two days after presenting a report in which he stated that military and paramilitary groups were responsible for the deaths of civilians during Guatemala's civil war, which lasted 36 years and ended in 1996.

       Fr. Orantes, an assistant of Bishop Gerardi, was jailed not long after the crime, but was freed last February as their was no evidence of his culpability and groups for the defense of human rights protested his imprisonment.

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       VATICAN CITY, 26 (NE) Pope John Paul II will preside a solemn Eucharist in occasion of the fourth World Day for Consecrated Life. On Wednesday, February 2, feast of the Presentation of Our Lord, the Pope will celebrate a Mass to take place at St. Peter's Basilica at 10:00 local time. During the celebrations, the Pope will specially pray for the Institutes of Consecrated life and the Societies of Apostolic Life. Mass will be preceded by the blessing of candles and a procession. Following the Pope's homily, there will be thanksgiving to God for the gift of consecrated life. Cardinal Eduardo Martinez Somalo, Prefect for the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life will also be present. Members from different Institutes and Societies have been specially invited to the celebration.

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    January 27, 2000     volume 11, no. 19
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