MONDAY     March 6, 2000    vol. 11, no. 46    SECTION THREE

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SECTION THREE Contents: Go immediately to the article:
  • More second-guessers come out of woodwork over number of saints Pope has elevated
  • Report asserts Saddam Hussein was the fly in the ointment that preavented Pope from going to Iraq
  • Poland proves faithful to God's laws with strict pornography ban, fear president will nix it
  • Imprisoned Congo archbishop fearful of further repercussions if Masses not kept lowkey
  • Sudanese Bishop decries genocide of Christians, pleads with Church and U.S.
  • Nuns' murderers and rapists want to be released in El Salvador
  • Rio's cardinal calls for not mixing sacred and sacriligeous during Carnival
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    First Beatifications of Jubilee Began on March 5

        VATICAN CITY, MAR 3 (ZENIT).- On March 5, a large and varied group of martyrs were beatified. They are the first Blessed of the Jubilee of the Year 2000. They represent very unusual cases; for geographical and historical reasons, the life stories of some are very different from classical hagiographies.

        Among the candidates are the first martyr of Thailand, Fr. Nicholas Bunkerd Kitbamrung; Andrew the Catechist of Vietnam; and the Philippines' Peter Calungsod. The Holy Father will also recognize the testimony of the first martyrs of Belarus, including 11 nuns killed by the Nazis. Brazil will also have its first Blessed martyrs: Fathers Andre de Soveral and Ambrosio Maria Fierro, and 28 companions who gave their life in the evangelization of northern Brazil.

        Some have criticized John Paul II, describing his pontificate as a "factory of saints," given the record number of beatifications and canonizations which have taken place over the past 21 years. Fr. Paolo Molinari, General Postulator of the Causes of Saints promoted by the Society of Jesus, has replied to the criticisms. In statements to ZENIT, he explained that "the figures of the blessed, of saints and of martyrs are revolutionary, signs of contradiction opposed to the mentality in vogue, which at times is hypocritical. At the same time, they are attractive examples, because goodness fascinates. These are normal people who lived Christianity with total dedication and were inspired in Jesus' example. The road to sanctity is nothing other than what Christ did: 'I do everything that pleases the Father,' even in Gethsemani, when in his humanity he felt all the instinctive physical and moral repugnance in facing something terrible that was about to happen to him. The attitude of the saints is the one we Christians should have: to totally trust the Father and give the Lord what he asks."

        Some skeptics think that only those with a kind of "lobby" within the Church can be proclaimed saints. "It is not like that. On the contrary. The saints are not selected in Rome. To begin a cause, the fundamental point is a reputation for sanctity, that is, proof of veneration among a number of people who have known the person. The Church follows God's action with docility. When it recognizes certain signs, it understands that through that specific person, God is trying to say something to us," Fr. Molinari explained.

        This is the reason why John Paul II proclaims the martyrdom and sanctity of so many men and women. "The Church must try to accept, study and admire them in order to understand the message God wills to communicate to people, Christians and non-Christians, through the life of a person who has embodied an evangelical quality in a sublime way." ZE00030203

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    Disclosures by Italian Episcopate's Newspaper "Avvenire"

        VATICAN CITY, MAR 3 ( John Paul II's journey to the places of Revelation, which he will continue in the Holy Land at the end of March, was supposed to have started in Iraq. However, on the eve of his trip to Egypt, the Holy Father made a "spiritual" pilgrimage (February 23) to Ur of the Chaldeans, Abraham's birthplace, as his trip to Iraq was cancelled.

        The official reasons for the cancellation were published by the Vatican Press Office on December 10. Joaquín Navarro-Valls, Vatican spokesman, explained that "the Iraqi authorities," considering "the conditions the country is experiencing because of the embargo and the no-fly zone," feel unable to "organize adequately the Pope's visit to Ur of the Chaldeans."

        As is often the case, behind the official reasons, there were other reasons that were not stated. A few days ago, "Avvenire," newspaper of the Italian Episcopal Conference, disclosed that the failure of the papal plan to go to Ur of the Chaldeans was due to the position taken by the Baghdad government. This position compromised the purely spiritual nature of the Pope's visit.

        Contacts between the Vatican and Saddam Hussein's government in connection with the papal trip began in early 1999. "Evidently, behind all the dispositions of the Iraqi government there was a very specific calculation. They thought that, in spite of the Pope's repeated affirmations about the spiritual nature of this stage [of the pilgrimage], it would not preclude the re-launching this country, decimated by the embargo, on the international scene, and scoring a political success," the article in "Avvenire" stated.

        The Vatican considered the above conditions "unacceptable," and, according to the Italian newspaper, this was the real reason for the cancellation of the visit. ZE000030308

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      Polish Parliament passes strict anti-pornography law, must wait out threat of veto by Poland's president

         The United States isn't the only country where its legislature passes moral measures only to have them vetoed by their less than moral president. Poland has the same problem. However, it would seem that soon-to-be Saint Faustina Kowalska is certainly lending an inspirational hand in Poland, for this country's parliament has passed a new, strict law banning all pornography in the Holy Father's native land. However, one major hurdle remains before Poland Catholics can truly celebrate this triumph of decency. That is the expected veto by Poland's President Aleksander Kwasniewki, a former communist who is a member of the more radical left-wing party. The measure passed in the parliament thanks to the Solidarity party intent on returning morals and family values to this land long a Catholic stronghold. continued inside.


        WARSAW ( - Poland's parliament today passed a new law banning the import, distribution, or sale of pornography in the mainly Catholic country, but ex-Communist President Aleksander Kwasniewski is expected to veto it.

        The bill passed the parliament's lower house, the Sejm, 210-197 with 19 abstaining. Supported by the governing Solidarity party, the measure was opposed by left-wingers, including Kwasniewski's party, and the Freedom Union, Solidarity's junior coalition partner.

        The measure would address the explosion in the pornography and sex industries since the fall of Communism in 1989 by imposing fines and prison terms for up to two years on violators. Child pornography would garner five-year prison terms.

        Critics say the law limits free speech and is unenforceable because it does not define pornography.

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        BUKAVU, Democratic Republic of Congo ( - From his "exile" in Butemebo, Congo, Archbishop Emmanuel Kataliko has ordered his priests to lift the "Mass strike" in Bukavu archdiocese but make sure that all liturgical celebrations are kept low-key.

        The sacramental embargo began three weeks ago when rebel forces in the region prevented the archbishop from returning to his diocese. "Sunday Masses must be as simple as possible, until the situation returns to normal" the prelate told his people. No Masses were celebrated in the archdiocese for three Sundays running in protest.

        On February 12, the rebel Rassemblement Congolais pour la Democratie (RCD-Goma), which opposes the government of President Laurent Kabila and with the support of occupying troops from Rwanda and Uganda, controls the eastern part of Congo, stopped Archbishop Kataliko from returning to his residence in Bukavu. Since that date the archbishop has lived as the guest of the bishop of Butembo. The RCD said the archbishop is a "persona non grata" because of his positions in favour of the population, "suffering and humiliated because of the fighting and foreign occupation."

        Yesterday, the vicar general of Bukavu, Monsignor Joseph Gwamhhanya, gave instructions as requested by the archbishop, in view of the coming season of Lent. Starting Sunday, March 5, Masses will be celebrated in all churches, but only on Sundays. "There must be no church bells or singing and prayer will be silent," the vicar general ordered. "Everyone is asked to pray for the archbishop's return. Weddings must also be low-key and baptisms will resume only after Easter." The diocese's social centers remain closed and the people are told to keep calm and not react to provocation and incitement to revenge.

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    Meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright

        ROME, MAR 3 ( Exiled Bishop Macram Max Gassis of El Obeid, Sudan, who visited the United States to receive an award for his work and inform authorities, churches, and the humanitarian organization "Sudan Relief & Rescue" about the situation in his country, said that there is a genocide being planned against Christians in southern Sudan by the Islamic regime of Khartoum.

        As already reported, the last action against the southern Christian population by the army of Khartoum was the bombing of a Catholic school in Kauda, in which 21 children and their teachers died. The Bishop sent a message to the people of the Nuba mountains, especially those of Kauda, and to all his faithful, offering his prayers and support at this difficult time. "Once again I have said to the world that the National Islamic Front of Khartoum is carrying out a genocide against Christians, and Africans who are not Arabs, with the objective of establishing a radical Islamic state. These terrible, heartbreaking incidents, are another example that this war is an ethnic and religious war, launched by the Khartoum regime,in order to destroy my people. I cannot give you back your 21 children, killed in Kauda by the regime. Today there are many Rachels in Kauda who weep over the loss of their children. But we must insist that the international community act before it is too late."

        During his stay in the United States, Bishop Gassis met with Church leaders to request their prayers for peace and justice in the country. "I can assure you that in many churches of the United States, our brothers in Christ -- Catholics and Protestants -- are praying for us," the Bishop said.

        Bishop Gassis met with U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright for an hour, to discuss the situation in southern Sudan. "Let's hope that the government of the United States can begin decisive action to halt aerial bombings in the future," stated the Bishop.

        "Never forget that God is with us. God hates injustice. God loves his children, especially young innocents. God is saddened by the barbarous attack against you. Return to Him and seek consolation in his loving embrace," the Bishop said to his faithful.

        Bishop Gassis thanked German doctors who have treated the wounded and was grateful for the love and solidarity of the humanitarian organization which assists them. "After your crucifixion in the Nuba Mountains by the bombs of the Khartoum regime, you too will rise again. God does not abandon us. God will resurrect us from death."

        The Bishop also suggested they entrust themselves to Blessed Bakhita, a Sudanese woman who was enslaved and whom John Paul II will canonize later this year. ZE00030304

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        SAN SALVADOR ( - Two soldiers serving in prison for the rape and murder of four US religious women in 1980 asked El Salvador's congress for amnesty on Thursday.

        Five former soldiers were convicted of the December 1980 rape and murder of the three nuns and one novice, but three of them were freed in 1998 under a law to ease prison overcrowding. At the time, the freed men said they killed the women on the orders of superior officers who were never prosecuted.

        The two remaining convicts were not released at the time because of misconduct while in prison.

        The families of the victims said they believe the women were targeted because officials suspected they sympathized with leftist guerrillas during the 12-year civil war that started in 1979.

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      Brazil's Cardinal tries to rein in ribaldry and sacrilige at this year's Carnival in Rio

         As Shrove Tuesday draws closer and the Carnival gains steam in Brazil, Cardinal Eugenio de Araujo Sales has pleaded with all state and munipal authorities to "respect Christian values." In continuing statements the cardinal made clear that the excesses of the Carnival celebration are not a singular event, but constitute a complete decadence that has invaded the country. He has already authorized confiscating religious symbols and icons that were to be used on parade floats, saying religion has no place in this pagan ceremony. continued inside.


        RIO DE JANIERO, (NE) "The history of our land is deeply linked to the Catholic Church and her influence in culture, in the way our people lives," said Archbishop Cardinal Eugenio de Araujo Sales of Rio de Janeiro, explaining the reason of the Church's call to state and municipal authorities in Brazil to "respect Christian values" during the Carnival. "Together with the shamelessness there is a lack of respect to the feelings of millions of Brazilians. The use of sacred objects and the attempts to insert them in an environment of lustful characteristics, hurt the idiosyncrasy of many Brazilians," stated the Archbishop.

        Cardinal Araujo also noted that these excesses "don't constitute an isolated case during the year. They are part of the breaking apart, of the decadence of ways that afflicts our country. Not only the Carnival has the fault, but also those who promote drugs, violent dances, casino games, prostitution, the illusion of contraceptives against the lethal HIV virus, lust… Each citizen that behaves in this way, through words and attitudes, promotes the destruction of the ethical structure of society." In closing, the Archbishop of Rio de Janeiro specially stressed the responsibility of "those who act cowardly in the face of a public opinion that condemns any moral restriction, under the pretext of freedom."

         For more headlines and articles, we suggest you go to the Catholic World News site at the CWN home page and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales and the Dossiers, features and Daily Dispatches from ZENIT International News Agency CWN, NE and ZENIT are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC, but provide this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

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    March 6, 2000     volume 11, no. 46
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