ASH WEDNESDAY     March 8, 2000    vol. 11, no. 48    SECTION THREE

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SECTION THREE Contents: Go immediately to the article:
  • Cardinals Ratzinger and Etchegarray explain meaning of pardon
  • Protestants signing on for Lenten spirit
  • National Pro-life group throws total support behind Bush
  • Benedictines rewriting the entire bible
  • Shroud moves closer to authenticity by scientists
  • Prayer from Ireland to the Congo call for upholding Sanctity of LIfe
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  • WORLDWIDE NEWS & VIEWS with a Catholic slant continued:

    Cardinal Etchegaray also stresses that appeal for pardon is central to Jubilee

        VATICAN ( -- At a press conference in Rome on March 7, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger briefed reporters on the new document entitled Memory and Reconciliation: The Church and the Faults of the Past. That document, prepared under his editorial direction by the International Theological Commission, is designed as an explanation of the appeal for pardon which Pope John Paul II will make on March 12.

        "The Church of today cannot serve as a tribunal to judge the Church of the past," Cardinal Ratzinger observed. "But we can seek to 'do' the truth-- that is, we can not deny the faults of the past-- while at the same time we will not adopt a stance of false humility, and acknowledge errors which have not been demonstrated historically."

        The Christian world can never deny that the sins of individual sinners wound the entire Church, the cardinal observed. He recalled the words of Cardinal Consalvi, when he was informed that Napoleon wanted to destroy the Church. "He will never succeed," Cardinal Consalvi said; "We have not managed to do it ourselves!"

        The document produced by the International Theological Commission, Memory and Reconciliation, was released in French on March 1. The document notes that the "purification of memory is an act of courage and humility," and predicts that the Church will see an "increased credibility of ecclesial pronouncements" as the world recognizes the virtue of the confession of pardon.

        At the same time, Memory and Reconciliation concedes that there have been "expressions of unease" among many Catholics because of what " may look like acquiescence in the face of accusations made by those prejudicially hostile to the Church." And the International Theological Commission also notes that there are " no precedents for requests for forgiveness by the magisterium for past wrongs."

        Still, the document cites areas in which the history of the Church has clearly been marked by error. These include:

        First, the division of Christianity. In that process-- both at the time of the Great Schism and later during the Reformation-- the document notes that a "lack of supernatural love, of 'agape', seems to have been common to both the breaches.

        Second, the use of force in the service of truth. At times, such as during the Inquisition, Church leaders wrongfully used violence and compulsion against dissidents, thus violating the principle of religious freedom.

        Third, the relationship between Christians and Jews. While noting that the Holocaust "was certainly the result of the pagan ideology that was Nazism," the document concedes: "it may be asked whether the Nazi persecution of the Jews was not made easier by the anti-Jewish prejudices imbedded in some Christian minds and hearts."

        Fourth, the evils of the current day. Memory and Reconciliation asks whether the Church has done enough to stop "the denial of the right to life of the unborn child sanctioned in pro-abortion legislation, and a great indifference to the cry of the poor in entire sectors of the human family."

        The March 12 ceremony at which Pope John Paul II will make his plea for pardon for the sins of the Catholic past will be "one of the great moments of the Jubilee year," according to Cardinal Roger Etchegaray.

        The French-born prelate, who chairs the central Committee for the Jubilee at the Vatican, told reporters that the ceremony should not be seen as "some spectacle of self-flagellation," nor should it be approached with "unhealthy curiosity." In fact, he cautioned, the ceremony could easily be misunderstood by those who do not carefully listen to the message which Pope John Paul preaches-- a message of repentance, conversion, and "purification of memory."

        "Only those who are profoundly in love with the Church are ready to look upon her with a strong, clear gaze," Cardinal Etchegaray said. Therefore, he continued, "Those who are looking on from the outside may not be able to grasp the proper religious meaning of a ceremony of repentance."

        "If the Church is turning humbly to look at her past," the cardinal continued, "it is in order to appreciate her present condition better, and to enter into the new millennium with greater deliberation." He characterized the ceremony of repentance as "a courageous appeal" which would help the Church to leave behind the ills of the past and enter into the new century with renewed energy and dedication.

        Cardinal Etchegaray said that the appeal for pardon should be seen in the light of another major initiative taken by Pope John Paul II: the call for the recognition of new Christian martyrs. "These two efforts by John Paul II are inseparable," the prelate remarked. "Both of them are calls to holiness-- calls made by a Church that bears witness rather than trying to justify herself, a Church of martyrs rather than a Church of mere survivors."

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      Ash Wednesday and the tradition of Lent catching on with Protestant sects as well.

        Recognizing the tradition within the Roman Catholic Church regarding Ash Wednesday, a number of Protestant churches are observing this day and the season of Lent with a renewed respect. In the past many of these churches have tended to ignore the significance of this time of year due to the breakaway from the Church nearly 500 years ago. But, with the Holy Father's invitation for ecumenical dialogue, many are more open-minded and like minded in honoring Christian tradition. continued inside.


        WASHINGTON, DC ( - A growing number of US Protestant Christians are observing Ash Wednesday and Lent, a primarily Catholic observance that was repudiated by Protestant founders 500 years ago.

        Analysts of religious trends have seen more Lutherans, Methodists, and other Protestant groups begin to mark the 40 days of Lent, including receiving ashes on the forehead on Ash Wednesday and observing fasts until Easter Sunday.

        According to Dennis Bratcher, director of the Christian Resource Institute and a member of the Church of the Nazarene, the growing popularity of Lent "has been seen among evangelically conservative Christians, a group that traditionally rejected these things."

        Richard Bucher, a pastor with Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, believes this acceptance of the Ash Wednesday ritual and of Lent corresponds to "a growing hunger for something older and more traditional among many churches."

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      Bush gets backing of National Right to Life Organization in push to elect a pro-life president

         The Federal Election Commission reports that the National Right to Life Committee has spent a considerable amount of money backing presidential hopeful George W. Bush in opposition to all other viable candidates. Because Alan Keyes has lagged so far behind in votes, they chose to throw their support to Bush who is solidly pro-life compared with the questionable intents of John McCain. They would never consider backing Al Gore because of his staunch pro-abort stance and culture of death platform. continued inside.


        WASHINGTON, DC ( - The National Right to Life Committee spent hundreds of thousands of dollars supporting the Republican candidacy of Texas Gov. George W. Bush ahead of the Super Tuesday primary, according to Federal Election Commission filings.

        The pro-life group spent $340,000 on mailings and calls to pro-life voters in California, Connecticut, Georgia, Maryland, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Vermont, and another $6,000 in states that will vote on Friday asking them to vote for Bush.

        Executive director David O'Steen said National Right to Life was concerned that some of Arizona Sen. John McCain's statements seemed to move away from the pro-life position. "The bottom line is he's said conflicting and contradictory things during his campaign for president," O'Steen said. "His statements have made pro-lifers extremely nervous during his quest for the presidency."

        In an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle last year, McCain said: "In the short term, or even the long term, I would not support repeal of Roe v. Wade, which would then force X number of women in America to (undergo) illegal and dangerous operations." He later said he supports overturning the 1973 Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion.

        McCain spokesman Dan McLagan said the senator had a "100 percent solid pro-life voting record" and the real issue was his efforts to tighten rules on outside groups spending money on political campaigns.

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      Benedictines reviving an ancient tradition

         The Benedictine institution of St. John's University in Collegeville, Minnesota is reaching back to one of their proudest trades of their order to preserve a tradition that has been lost in the last 500 years. That is undertaking the first hand-written illuminated Bible since the invention of the printing press. The work, begun by Calligrapher Donald Jackson, is expected to take four years, with the first volume due to be completed by the end of this year. Brother Dietrich Reinhart, OSB president of SJU, has said that this work revives the monastic tradition and allows artists to use their gifts for the glory of God. continued inside.


        COLLEGEVILLE, Minnesota ( - The first handwritten and illuminated Bible since the invention of the printing press 500 years will begin production on Ash Wednesday following two years of preparation, according to the sponsor St. John's Abbey.

        Calligrapher Donald Jackson will write the first verse of the Gospel of John on the calfskin vellum using a goose quill, beginning a project expected to take four years. The first volume, comprising the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles, of the six volume set will be finished next year.

        "We are finally writing after all of the painstaking preparation -- including work with the theologians and artists at Saint John's (University), the creation of a unique script, the careful selection and preparation of the vellum, the creation of a computer generated template and the planning of every page," said Jackson, who also serves as scribe to Queen Elizabeth's Crown Office at the House of Lords.

        "We are creating something unique for modern times, not only by reviving a monastic tradition of writing the Bible, but by creating a working scriptorium of artists and calligraphers who have come together to create a work of art that reflects our own place in history," said Brother Dietrich Reinhart, OSB, president of Saint John's University.

        A video of the writing of the first verse at the scriptorium in Wales will be available on demand at the web site (

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      More evidence found as to Shroud of Turin's authenticity

        New scientific studies regarding the Holy Shroud of Turin have found significant evidence of botanical traces that place this august material in the geographical area of Israel or Jordan, giving substance to the argument that it is authentic. More tests will be performed before the Shroud is placed on public display in Turin this August for the Jubilee Year.continued inside.


        MILAN ( - New scientific tests have confirmed a connection between the Shroud of Turin and the region including Israel and Jordan, according to an expert committee on Monday.

        The shroud is believed by many to be the burial cloth of Christ, holding a mysterious image of a crucified man. Although carbon dating tests claimed the cloth dated from the 13th or 14th century, critics said the tests were contaminated by burn marks from a medieval fire that damaged the shroud.

        "Regarding the problem of dating and origin, new data ... confirm the presence of botanical traces which are significant as geographical indicators pointing to the area of Israel or Jordan," the Shroud Millennium Committee said following a four-day meeting earlier this month.

        The committee said further research was needed to ascertain the history of the Shroud before it reached Turin. The linen cloth will be on display for pilgrims in August as part of Jubilee Year celebrations.

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      Worldwide prayer urged to stop abortion and help alleviate ravages of war in Africa and elsewhere

         In Ireland there is a campaign to recruit one million pledged rosaries to be prayed to end abortion and it is catching on enthusiastically throughout Ireland, the US, Canada, and Portugal. Meanwhile missionaries from Italy working in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are developing a chain of those pledging to fast and pray throughout the world from today through April 8 with a formal procession to end at the Roman Colisseum on April 8th to atone for all sins and ask God's mercy in stopping the devastating wars and natural disasters that have ravaged many parts of Africa. continued inside.


        DUBLIN, MAR 7 ( HLI-Ireland's campaign to have a million rosaries prayed to convert abortion providers is picking up steam. Organizers report that the initial printing of 10,000 calendars has already been exhausted, so that a second print run of 10,000 has had to be ordered.

        Organizers say that "the campaign has been a huge success and has spread like wild-fire around the country." Interest has not been limited to the Republic of Ireland, however. Concerned persons in the United States, Canada, and Portugal have also requested calendars. Preliminary results of the campaign will be released in April. For further information, visit the HLI-Ireland web page: .

        Meanwhile, Italian missionaries working in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are organizing a worldwide chain of fasting and prayer to alleviate the ravages of war that have plagued central Africa for years. According to the missionaries, the European Union has not had the will to get involved, while the U.N. has been slow to act and is now incapable of intervening.

        The appeal to fast and pray is directed to national and international organizations of solidarity, all religious confessions, journalists, and men and women of good will. By participating in the chain of fasting, these people hope to call the world's attention to the tragedy that plays itself out day after day in the Great Lakes region.

        Specifically, the fast will last from Ash Wednesday (March 8) to April 8, ending with a rally at the Roman Collosseum. Participants will choose the manner of fasting that is appropriate to them. However, this is a "chain" of fasting, so that every day some community or group is celebrating the fast.

        To notify the organizers of the fasting date of a group, send email (in English or Italian) to the Segretariato Missioni SX at, or send a fax to +39 0521.314.269.    ZE00030721 and ZE00030722.

        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 & ZENIT are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC, but provide this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday - Friday.

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