TUESDAY     March 7, 2000    vol. 11, no. 47    SECTION THREE

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SECTION THREE Contents: Go immediately to the article:
  • Alan Keyes wraps campaign at Franciscan University of Steubenville
  • Cardinal O'Connor receives Congressional Gold Medal Proclamation, presentation next
  • Pope urges dialogue and accord between the Koreas
  • Mardi Gras celebration traced to pagan rituals but Christian tradition trying to make things right
  • Holy Father speaks out for vanquished people of flood-ravaged Mozambique
  • Latest ShipLogs of visitors sailing on the DailyCATHOLIC

  • WORLDWIDE NEWS & VIEWS with a Catholic slant continued:


        STEUBENVILLE, OHIO, (ZENIT).- Alan Keyes' last campaign stop before the Super Tuesday primaries, which are expected to decide the race, was at the Franciscan University of Steubenville.

        An acclaimed orator, Dr. Keyes spoke for 45 minutes Monday evening, followed by a question and answer session with the audience, which has become his campaign trademark. The public was invited to this free rally.

        "Dr. Keyes is an exemplary model of leadership," says Tom Buck, president of the Franciscan University Student Association (FUSA), the sponsor of Keyes visit. "We brought him here to show our students the leadership qualities they should exhibit upon graduation."

        A former US Ambassador to the United Nations Social and Economic Council, Keyes first ran for president as a Republican candidate in 1996. He hosts the nationally syndicated radio talk show "The Alan Keyes Show: America's Wake Up Call," and is a recognized leader in the conservative movement. ZE00030520

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    Highest Civilian Honor

        NEW YORK, MAR 6 (ZENIT.org).- President Clinton signed legislation on Sunday awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to Cardinal John O'Connor for his service to the nation. "For more than 50 years, Cardinal O'Connor has served the Catholic Church and our nation with constancy and commitment," stated the President.

        The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. Congress on a civilian. Among the 250 previous recipients are George Washington, the Wright Brothers, and Mother Teresa.

        Cardinal O'Connor continues in a state of weakened health after brain tumor surgery last year. In fact, Congress put the bill awarding him the Gold Medal on the fast track in order to make the award as quickly as possible.

        Spokesman Joseph Zwilling said the 80-year-old Cardinal was "feeling better the last few days, but still weak and not able to resume a regular schedule." He indicated that is was unlikely that O'Connor will be able to celebrate Ash Wednesday Mass.

        "Whether it was the soldier on the battlefield or the patient dying of AIDS, Cardinal O'Connor has ministered with a gentle spirit and a loving heart," stated Clinton. "Through it all, he has stood strong as an advocate for the poor, a champion for workers, and an inspiriation for millions." ZE00030520

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        VATICAN CITY, 6 (NE) Pope John Paul II encouraged on Saturday peace and reconciliation between North and South Korea. During his address to South Korean President Kim Dae-Jung, the Holy Father expressed his joy for the "fresh initiatives to foster inter-Korean dialogue". "Certainly," the Pope said, "the path of reconciliation will be long and difficult. Yet despite the obstacles, you have not allowed yourselves to become discouraged in your endeavors to establish a climate of good and harmonious relations."

        The Holy Father also called to a special concern for the individual, stressing that "the most valuable asset of the nation is its people. Productivity and profit cannot be the sole measure of progress; indeed development is not authentic unless it benefits individuals and the promotion of the good of the family, the nation and the world community." A failure to recognize "the existence of transcendent truth, in obedience to which man achieves his full identity," the Pope further said, "undermines the principles guaranteeing just relations between peoples and can lead to the rise of various forms of totalitarianism."

        Concluding his address, the Pope encouraged the "efforts to promote social renewal and reconciliation among all the members of the Korean family. I pray that the Korean people will safeguard those spiritual values and qualities of character which sustain freedom, dignity and truth, and provide a sure direction for the future. May the Republic of Korea prosper on the path of genuine progress and true peace."

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    Use of Costumes Originated in Short Popular Plays

        ROME, MAR 6 (ZENIT.org).- The origins of Carnival (or Mardi Gras) are lost in history. Apparently it developed out of Greek pagan festivals some 5000 years ago. These spring fertility rites to Bacchus later gave rise to the Roman "Lupercalia," which were still celebrated in the first Christian centuries.

        Just as the external trappings of the Feast of the Unconquered Sun were taken on by Christians in their celebrations of Christmas, so too, the Lupercalia became a sort of preparatory period for Lent. The Christian name for the feast, "Carnival," apparently comes from "Caro, Vale" [Goodbye, meat] or perhaps "Carnem levare" [lift up meat] -- the sense being that days of fasting and abstinence from meat are on their way.

        While the focal point of the celebrations is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the celebrations differs from country to country. For instance "Fasching" [probably from "faseln" -- be fruitful, refering to the pagan celebration] in Bavaria begins with Epiphany. New Orleans' Mardi Gras [Fat Tuesday] also begins at this time. On the otherhand, the German Rhineland celebrates Fastnacht [Fasting eve] starting on November 11 (at 11:11 a.m., of course). Rome's "Carnivale," while not particularly famous, starts on the Thursday before Lent.

        Perhaps the most unusual schedule is that of Basel, Switzerland. A Bishop had banned "Fasnacht" celebrations, and the people apparently decided that if the celebration was a sin, they might as well make it a big sin. As a result, Basel celebrates its Carnival after Lent has already begun.

        In early times, Rome was the center of this festival of the streets, which was decisive in the development of popular theater, songs in the vernacular, and folkloric dancing. The use of masks began in Germany and Switzerland, not for purposes of hiding, but to present short humorous plays. The custom extended from there to much of the world, for example, to the elegant Venetian Carnivale.

        In Spain, Carnival was prohibited in 1939, with the advent of Francisco Franco, but reemerged during the democratic transition, although it is only in evidence in a few cities like Cadiz or Tenerife.


        The country that today embodies Carnival is Brazil, where the whole nation stops its routine to engage in this ritual that frees repressed instincts and ends every year in several street deaths. Several Catholic groups are offering alternatives to this celebration, including massive convocations. Among the most determined are members of the Charismatic Renewal Movement.

        At this time of year, the Archdiocese of Rio de Janeiro offers a program of processions, retreats, Masses and Prayer Vigils. At the request of Cardinal Araujo de Sales, the Archbishop, Holy Hours and Vigils are scheduled. The retreat, which the Charismatic Renewal Movement has organized for 10 years, began on Saturday in the "Nossa Senhora da Piedade" School. 25,000 people are participating.

        Another news-catching initiative is that of the St. Benedict of the Holy Cross parish in Sao Paulo, which will hold a parade of Fr. Esdras Moraes Freire's "samba school." The parade includes some 800 persons, divided into 7 wings and 3 allegorical carts, which will travel along the principal streets of the city. The attraction of the parade is a live representation of "Moses' Prodigies," accompanied by music composed for the occasion. The allegorical carts reproduce passages from the Old Testament, like the Passover and Pharaoh's court, and the wings represent additional prodigies of Moses in the Exodus. "I do everything for the love of God," Fr. Freire said. He explained that the Christian parade is an opportunity for the faithful who do not like the traditional Carnival. "The idea is to celebrate Carnival in a healthy way," the priest, member of the Charismatic Renewal, said. ZE00030505

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        VATICAN CITY, MAR 5 (ZENIT).- Today, after proclaiming the beatification of 44 martyrs, John Paul II raised his voice a second time to appeal for aid for Mozambique.

        "My thoughts go to the people of Mozambique, who are living through a tragedy of unheard of proportions, caused by great floods that have ravaged a vast part of the territory. International solidarity has spent itself over these days, but there is still much to be done. I encourage all to continue generously in the rescue work to alleviate, in all possible ways, the dramatic situation of these brothers of ours," the Pope said.

        On February 25, while on his trip to Egypt, John Paul II urged international mobilization to assist this country in its emergency. Spokesman for aid agencies fear that the number of victims caused by the floods is much higher than originally estimated. The counting of victims cannot be completed at this time, as the level of water in the affected areas is still very high.

        Hundreds of people in the country have contracted cholera and typhus; the lack of food has forced others to hunt rats, which increases the risk of spreading diseases.

        Joaquim Chissano, President of Mozambique, stated that the first stage of reconstruction will require at least $250 million. The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank have announced that they will increase credits and speed up funding to the Maputo government.

        Meanwhile from the heart of Africa has come an anguished cry, denouncing the West's indifference to a terrible tragedy. Central African bishops have blamed the hypocrisy of Western governments and those of North Africa for ignoring the ongoing war and suffering in the Great Lakes region.

        In a strongly worded message, the Association of Central African Episcopal Conferences addresses fellow Bishops in industrialized nations. "In the name of human and Christian solidarity, we implore you to appeal to your governments, political and economic leaders, and international enterprises to listen more intently to the anguished cry of our peoples, victims of the unbridled desire for profit."

        In spite of constant appeals for peace, the Permanent Council of the Association of Central African Episcopal Conferences, which embraces the Church in Cameroon, Central African Republic, Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, and Chad, is acutely aware of "the persistence of armed conflicts and the climate of insecurity."

        In their message, the Bishops allege that the acts of violence and killings are multiplying, while armed militias as well as regular armies, often trained by foreign military, turn to looting and rape. This situation causes the displacement of masses of innocent people. Human rights are trampled, "creating explosive risks," the Bishops point out; poverty, misery, and AIDS have become permanent fixtures in their countries.

        The Bishops put their finger on the sore, and lay the blame squarely on certain foreign and domestic elements. Politicized tribes, lack of transparency in the management of public affairs, the egotism of politicians, and all-pervasive corruption, the gangrenous poison of institutions, are concurrent factors that threaten "the future of our peoples, especially of youth." These are the evils of African societies, but "foreign powers also bear responsibility for the present situation."

        "The unbridled desire for profit, strictly for self benefit, is often detrimental to our countries, and pressures them to corrupt their leaders." The profit motive stops at nothing, and the inestimable natural wealth of the Central African region, "paradoxically has become the source of our misfortune. Whole nations have been subjected to steel and fire for the sole purpose of preserving the interests of this or that foreign country, this or that multinational," the African Bishops denounce.

        In a word, theirs are victim nations of that "unbridled search for profit," in a continent similar to the Gospel figure assaulted by robbers on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho, which was emphasized in the exhortation "Ecclesia in Africa," and quoted in this episcopal message. There are human beings in "urgent need of Good Samaritans to come to their help," human beings who during this Jubilee Year and more than ever before, hope for justice. ZE00030507 and ZE00030502

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    March 7, 2000     volume 11, no. 47
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