The Pontiff also sent his Christmas greetings to the Eastern Christian churches that celebrate the feast on January 6, the feast of the Epiphany. That feast, commemorating the visit of the Magi to Bethlehem, is a holy day in Italy, and Vatican offices were closed.
Pope John Paul II appeared at the window of his apartment at noon to pray the Angelus with pilgrims who had assembled in St. Peter's Square below. He used the occasion to send his greetings to the Orthodox churches, calling them "brothers in the faith." The Holy Father specifically named the patriarchs of Constantinople, Antioch, Jerusalem, Moscow, and Romania, and apologized for not naming every Eastern Church. And he praised the beauty of the Byzantine liturgy, saying that it "enriches the Church of Christ."
In the morning, the Pope ordained 12 bishops, in keeping with a Vatican tradition of episcopal ordinations on the Epiphany. At the conclusion of the ceremony, the 12 new bishops were formally introduced to the media by Cardinal Lucas Moreiva Neves, the prefect of the Congregation for Bishops. Four of the new bishops will serve as papal representatives in the Vatican diplomatic corps; seven will have diocesan assignments; and one will continue at his current post in the Vatican. They are:
After the three-hour ceremony, the Pope left the altar with the help of the rolling platform which he had unveiled on December 29; it is a wheeled vehicle which allows him to stand and lean on its bars, so that he can salute the crowd as he walks. The Pope's infirmity was clear at the climactic point of the ritual, when-- as he imposed his hands on the heads of the men to be ordained-- his left hand shook noticeably. Pope John Paul has now ordained 290 men to the episcopate.
When John Paul II saw the celebrations he said that "these initiatives remind everyone of the value of pilgrimage, as a sign of conversion and a constitutive element of the Jubilee."
During his address, the Holy Father remembered the Orthodox Christians very especially, as well as Catholics of the Eastern Rite, who are celebrating Christmas at this time. The Pope mentioned the Sees of the important patriarchies that have been so influential in the history of Christianity: Constantinople, Antioch, Jerusalem, Moscow. John Paul II is the first Roman Pontiff to have visited a primarily Orthodox country, which he did in Georgia and Romania. "I would like to name them one by one, expressing the fervent wish that the light of Christ, whose birth they are celebrating at this time, will give them an abundance all that can reinforce the proclamation of the only Gospel of salvation."
Referring to one of the Byzantine prayers most often repeated by the Orthodox faithful during these days, the Pope wished the Christians of the East a Merry Christmas: "Thinking of all the Churches of the Christian East, I send them my wishes for prosperity and joy. I do so by participating in spirit in the song of their liturgy and sharing in the many gifts the Lord has profusely given their traditions that enrich the Church of Christ." ZE00010605
Nine other candidates for the episcopacy had been named for today's ordinations, but all of these declined, reporting reasons ranging from sickness to "problems" with the decision to ordain on that date. Since these nine refusals brought the initial number down to three, the Patriotic Association quickly sought out two more candidates to beef up the numbers. The new bishops will serve the Shanshi, Fujian, Baoding, and Nanjing provinces.
On January 4, Joaquin Navarro-Valls, director of the Vatican's Press Office, criticized Beijing's decision, expressing "surprise" and "disappointment," and stating that "this gesture will raise obstacles that certainly hinder the process" of normalization of relations between the Vatican and China.
Navarro-Valls added that the ordinations would increase the distance between the country's political leadership and the Patriotic Association. Over the past few years, many bishops and priests of the Association have worked to rebuild their relationship with the Universal Church in Rome. The letter sent by the Holy Father to all Chinese faithful for the Holy Year was very well received by the Chinese Church. Churchmen in Nantang told "Fides" that they were moved by the Pope's affection.
A group of Patriotic priests criticized the Religious Affairs Bureau for proceeding with the ordination of new bishops without the Vatican's consent. This puts "the Chinese Church in a dangerous situation of schism," they said. The ordination of the new bishops proves that the Official Church is not free, according to a Beijing priest who continues to be faithful to the papacy and disapproves of today's ordinations.
A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Zhu Bangzao, declined direct comment to the "Washington Post" on the ordinations but stated, ''We believe that no country, including the Vatican, can interfere in China's internal affairs, including through religious means,'' said a spokesman, Zhu Bangzao. ZE00010622
"I would be grateful to learn your reasoning for supporting a candidate who so openly opposes the fundamental Church teaching on human life," the cardinal wrote Father McManus in a letter dated August 17.
The Associated Press reported that McManus wrote back to the cardinal that the Irish PAC "applies one and only one criterion in assessing political candidates: their position and record on Ireland." Clinton's Republican opponent in the race, New York City mayor Rudy Guiliani, is also pro-abortion.
The cardinal had received a complaint from Theresa French, chairman of a New York pro-life group, who said Father McManus should drop the title of "Father" when endorsing a candidate to avoid giving the impression that the Catholic Church supports the candidate.
Father McManus was born in Ireland and his brother Patrick was an Irish Republican Army leader killed in 1958. "For the longest time, maybe throughout all of history, Irish people have been told: You can't do that for Irish justice because of your faith," he said. "This lady writes and tells me I can't endorse Hillary Clinton because of my faith. ... My endorsement has nothing to do with abortion."
Supporters of Gore and Bradley met at a rally before the Democratic debate Wednesday night with Bradley's supporters saying Gore had once been pro-life. "I have always been pro-choice and I always will," Bradley was quoted as saying. His supporters pointed out that Gore, as a Tennessee congressman 20 years ago, voted pro-life 84 percent of the time.
Gore's campaign responded that his support for abortion is unwavering. "Al Gore has always been pro-choice throughout his career," spokesman Chris Lehane said. "And more than that, he stayed and fought against the Republican Congress to protect women in America -- whether it was on choice, equal pay, child care, and other family issues, while Senator Bradley declared the system broken and went home."
Meanwhile, Forbes told a supporters at an event in Hillsboro, New Hampshire, that the way to change people's hearts on abortion is to treat the issue with dignity and compassion. Answering a question on how he, as a conservative, could support less intrusion into people's lives by government, but also be against abortion, he said: "Here we have profoundly different views on the meaning of freedom. To me, it's the freedom to be born. To you, it's the mother's right to choose."
He added, "I acknowledge and respect our differences, but I believe that if we treat the issue with dignity and compassion it could be an issue that inspires, not divides, our country."
While government reports say about 1,000 people have been killed in fighting between minority Christians and majority Muslims in the past year in Maluku, a human rights groups said today more than 4,000 people had died on one island in the area just since August. Fighting between gangs representing the two religions have been fighting as tensions rise from the country's worst economic crisis in decades and political turmoil. Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim majority country, although Christians are a sizeable minority in Maluku.
About 5,000 protesters marched from a mosque in Jakarta today to the University of Indonesia campus, shouting "Jihad! Jihad!" (holy war). The protesters demanded the resignation of Vice-President Megawati Sukarnoputri, who has been assigned to stop the violence but who they said has done little. Before marching, the protesters gathered outside the mosque and killed a goat, then smeared its blood on a wooden cross amid loud calls of "Allahu Akbar" (God is great).