MONDAY    January 31, 2000   vol. 11, no. 21   SECTION THREE

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SECTION THREE Contents: Go immediately to the article:
WORLD NEWS & VIEWS with a Catholic slant:
  • Pope warns of getting too ecumenical
  • Indonesia's Muslim president to meet with Pope
  • Trouble looms on horizon with Gay parade in Rome
  • City of Rome has to reassess priorities with number of homeless increasing
  • Bishops in Solidarity with Cardinal Winning over Section 28
  • Passage of Pardon opens at St. Peter's
  • Sensitive issue surrounds Pope's visit to Wailing Wall in Jerusalem
  • Latest ShipLogs for visitors to DailyCATHOLIC


  • RELIGIONS ARE NEITHER COMPLEMENTARY NOR EQUIVALENT
    John Paul II Points Out Errors Rising in Certain Ecclesial Circles

        VATICAN CITY, JAN 28 (ZENIT).- The various religions are not equivalent, because Christ is the Savior of mankind. John Paul II was emphatic this morning, when he received the participants of the plenary session of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which today concluded the sessions begun on January 25.

        The Pontiff addressed certain ambiguities that have arisen in theological circles, which consider inter-religious dialogue as a justification for syncretism. The Holy Father said that "in some ecclesial environments, a mentality has arisen over the last few years that tends to relativize Christ's revelation and his unique and universal mediation in regard to salvation." If this is permitted, the Church would also lose her reason for existing because she would no longer be "the universal sacrament of salvation."

        "It is against the faith of the Church to hold the thesis on the limited character of Christ's revelation, which would find its complement in other religions." According to this theory, "the truth about God could not be accepted and manifested globally and completely by any historical religion, not even Christianity, nor by Christ himself."

        The Holy Father continued with an interesting clarification. The truth of Jesus, "full and complete revelation of the mystery of God," must be carefully distinguished from "the understanding of the infinite mystery" that must "always be studied and pondered in the light of the Spirit of truth."

        "The truth about God is neither abolished nor reduced because it is expressed in human language. On the contrary, it continues to be unique, full and complete, because he who speaks to us and acts is the incarnate Son of God," the Pope explained.

        Therefore, one cannot coherently accept Christ and reject the Church he founded. The Pope recalls that it was Jesus himself who established "his Church as a salvific reality: as his Body, through which he himself acts in the history of salvation." Vatican Council II itself, which opened the doors to dialogue with other religions, confirmed at the same time with total clarity, that "the pilgrim Church is necessary for salvation."

        "Therefore, it is an error to consider the Church as one more road to salvation together with that of other religions, which would be complementary to the Church, although converging with the it toward the eschatological Kingdom of God. Consequently, a certain mentality of indifference characterized by religious relativism that leads to believing that religions are equivalent among themselves, must be excluded," continued John Paul II.

        The Holy Father recalled the passage of the Council which states that "Christians can reach eternal life under the influence of grace, if they seek God with a sincere heart. But, in their sincere quest for the truth of God, they are in fact ordered to Christ and his Body, the Church. In any event, they are in a deficient situation, compared to those in the Church who have the fullness of the means of salvation." Because of this, the Church has been, is, and will be missionary, in the sense that she announces Christ -- "Way, Truth, Life." If in dialoguing with believers of other religions the Church were to renounce her message, the dialogue would no longer be such, as the Church would lose her identity.

        Finally, the Pope asked the members of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to continue to foster the ecumenical dialogue with other Christians. He congratulated them for the work carried out in preparation for the signing of the Joint Lutheran-Catholic Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, and he encouraged them to continue on this road, in spite of the difficulties. ZE00012807

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      Indonesia's President Wahid to meet with Holy Father in Rome this Saturday

         With the violence that has ravaged Indonesia, specifically East Timor and the Spice Islands over the past several months, it will be an interesting meeting between the Holy Father and President Abdurrahman Wahid, Indonesia's Muslim leader ever since B.J. Habibe was forced to stepped down after the East Timor trajedy. The two are expected to discuss the violence and toleration toward Christians by this largest of Muslim nations anywhere in the world. continued inside.

    POPE, INDONESIAN LEADER TO DISCUSS VIOLENCE

        VATICAN (CWNews.com) -- Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid will meet with Pope John Paul II at the Vatican on February 5.

        The Indonesian leader will visit the Vatican during an official trip to Italy. His conversations with the Holy Father will certainly focus on the violence between Muslims and Christians (predominantly Catholic) on the Molluccan Islands.

        The conversation will probably also include some discussion of the peace process in East Timor, which has recently won its independence from Indonesian after years of repression and bloodshed.

        The episodes of violence in the Indonesian islands have continued for over a year, and cost well over 1000 lives. During an Angelus audience in March 1999, Pope John Paul called for an end to the fighting. More recently, in his annual January address to members of the diplomatic corps, the Pontiff mentioned the islands as one of the world's major trouble spots; he called for the Indonesian people to "break the chains of violence, and heal the wounds of hatred."

        Although the violence in islands such as Ambon has pitted Muslims against Christians, most observers agree that the issues behind the fighting are not religious. The demographic make-up of the islands' population has changed significantly in recent months, as the collapse of the Indonesian economy in 1998 prodded many Muslim workers to relocate to the islands, where Christians had been a substantial minority. Indonesia's Ambassador to the Holy See, Irawan Abidin, has observed that the conflicts involve clashes between displaced workers (mostly Muslim) and established merchants (often Christian).

        Beyond the economic factors, however, some observers have charged that the rioting in Ambon has been deliberately provoked by Indonesian military officials, who are seeking an excuse to assert greater control. Ambassador Abidin has reported that the Indonesian government is investigating reports that the riots have been deliberately provoked and staged by outside agitators.

        Wahid came to power in 1999 as the first democratically elected president of Indonesia, which is the world's most populous Muslim country.

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    VATICAN REPORTEDLY TO PROTEST HOMOSEXUAL RALLY IN ROME

        ROME (CWNews.com) - Italian newspapers reported today the Vatican is expected to protest plans for a global homosexual pride festival in Rome this summer.

        World Gay Pride 2000 is scheduled between June 28 and July 9 and is expected to be attended by one million people, dropping the controversial event in the middle of the Catholic Church's Jubilee Year 2000. The festival, which is expected to include the usual expressions of antagonism toward the Catholic Church for its teachings on the immorality of homosexuality, has received 350 million lire ($178,000) from Rome's city government.

        The city of Rome and the Vatican City-State have a unique, symbiotic relationship due to the 2,000-year history of the Church in Rome and embodied in the 1929 Lateran Treaty.

        According to Italian newspaper reports, Vatican officials have asked why they were never consulted when Rome first considered hosting the gay pride festival during the Holy Year. The Vatican also believes that Rome's staging of the rally contravenes the spirit of the Lateran Treaty, La Repubblica and Il Giornale newspapers said.

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    ROME HOMELESS DEATHS BLAMED ON JUBILEE FOCUS

        ROME (CWNews.com) - Nine homeless people have died of exposure in Rome since the Holy Year began on Christmas Eve, causing charities and churches to scramble to help the needy and blame an excessive focus on restoring the city's architectural wonders for the Jubilee.

        "It is the worst death rate of at least the last 10 years," said Mario Marazitti of the Sant'Egidio community, one of the groups offering aid. "The homeless are having more difficulty in finding shelter." He added that city authorities concentrated on "the beauty of Rome ... without a precise choice to meet the needs of the weakest."

        Italy is usually a winter haven for Europe's wandering homeless population, but Rome has experienced an unusually sharp cold spell this month. On Wednesday, Italy's government announced it was freeing $15 million in emergency funds for the homeless in Rome and eight other cities.

        The Holy Year is also bringing more homeless to Rome, some of whom may think the influx of pilgrims will make the city an easier place to find aid, said Monica Scifoni, spokesman for the city council's homeless agency.

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    SCOTTISH BISHOPS BACK CALL TO KEEP SECTION 28

        EDINBURGH (CWNews.com) - Scotland's eight Catholic bishops have declared their support for Cardinal Thomas Winning fight against the classroom promotion of homosexuality as a valid lifestyle.

        On Sunday, priests throughout the country will read a message from the bishops warning that children will be left vulnerable by scrapping of the Section 28 law and asking churchgoers to pray for their Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) when they vote on the controversial legislation.

        The bishops' message reads: "To take away a law which prohibits the promotion of homosexuality and replace it with 'guidelines' risks leaving our children extremely vulnerable to the message that a homosexual lifestyle is an equally valid moral choice to marriage.

        It continues: "We ask all people of good will to pray for our legislators in their different tasks. We pray we can build a Scotland of justice for all, free of bigotry and intolerance but ever mindful of God's law and morality."

        A spokesman for the Catholic Church told the Daily Record: "It is a message of solidarity to show that it is not just Cardinal Winning who is speaking on his own on this."

        According to today's Universe newspaper, the British government has turned to the Catholic Church for help in sorting out the whole Section 28 row. Senior Labour MP Stuart Bell told the Catholic media: "The debate in the media, led by the churches, is killing this bill. So the government has to be very wise and listen carefully to what the churches have to say.

        "A conscience is a conscience," Bell continued. "and you cannot ask an MP to vote against their conscience. It would be smart if Labour was to allow its Anglican and Catholic MSPs to vote against it, rather than force them to either vote against their conscience or abstain."

        The National Board of Catholic Women and the Union of Catholic Mothers have also joined the campaign against the repeal of Section 28.

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    VATICAN BASILICA INAUGURATES PASSAGE OF PARDON
    Thousands of Faithful Will Confess in Charlemagne Corridor

        VATICAN CITY, JAN 28 (ZENIT).- The Charlemagne corridor of St. Peter's was dedicated today for recollection and confession, in keeping with the Jubilee message of conversion.

        Among those attending the inaugural ceremony were Cardinals Virgilio Noč and Roger Etchegaray, Arch-priest of the Vatican Basilica and President of the Vatican Committee for the Great Jubilee respectively, as well as Archbishop Giovanni Battista Re, Substitute for General Affairs at the Secretariat of State.

        In the Bull "Incarnationis Mysterium," the Pope underlines that "the summit of the Jubilee is the encounter with God the Father through Christ the Savior, present in his Church in a very special way in the sacraments." Consequently, "every Jubilee road has as its starting point and end the celebration of the sacrament of Penance and of the Eucharist, Paschal mystery of Christ, our peace and reconciliation."

        The Holy Father's words inspired the idea of creating a large and tranquil place of silence for the millions of pilgrims who will come to Rome during this Holy Year, where recollected prayer is possible, in preparation for confession as an "encounter" with the Father of Mercies.

        There are two lines of confessionals flanking the walls of the monumental passage that rises to the Basilica. The ambience is simple and austere. The sacrament of Reconciliation will be administered here in dozens of languages. The Vatican Secretariat of State has suggested to priests who work in the Roman Curia to volunteer to spend several hours a week in the confessionals at the disposition of pilgrims. In the center of the corridor there are many pews for prayer, facing the wall that opens to the passage. A large picture of the Holy Door has been placed in the passage, crowned by a crucifix with the "good thief." The picture is surrounded by the 14 Stations of the Cross. Pilgrims will also find books and a number of aids to prepare better for God's forgiveness through this sacrament. ZE00011808

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    ISRAEL CHIEF RABBI SAYS PAPAL VISIT WOULD BACK CLAIM TO JERUSALEM

        JERUSALEM (CWNews.com) - Israel's chief rabbi said on Thursday if Pope John Paul II stops at the Western Wall in Jerusalem during his upcoming visit to the Holy Land in March that action is tantamount to Vatican recognition of Israel's sovereignty over Jerusalem.

        In each announcement concerning the upcoming visit, the Vatican has carefully maintained its neutrality on the sensitive issues surrounding the disputes between Israel and Palestinians, including the status of Jerusalem. Israel claims the whole city as its eternal capital, while Palestinians claim East Jerusalem which Israel captured from Jordan in 1967.

        The Vatican does not recognize Israeli sovereignty over East Jerusalem, but has also said that any solution to the dispute must maintain open and equal access for each of the three religions which look to the city as a holy site.

        "This is recognition of Israel's sovereignty not just over new (west) Jerusalem but the Old City as well," Chief Rabbi Meir Lau told Israel radio. "There are one billion Catholic followers ... for whom the Pope visiting with the chief rabbis of Israel in the ancient area by the Western Wall has great significance." The Vatican has not commented on Rabbi Lau's comments, but has said the papal trip is a spiritual pilgrimage and political statements should not be connected to it.

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    January 31, 2000     volume 11, no. 21
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