Death of Pope Hadrian II, 106th successor of Peter and the only Pope to be elected and die on the same date of the month. He convened the 8th Ecumenical Council in Constantinople in 869 which deposed Photius and ended the Greek Schism though he struggled throughout his five-year papacy in trying to settle deep quarrels among the Catholic peoples before he died at the age of eighty.
Election of Pope John VIII as 107th successor of Peter to succeed Pope Hadrian II who died on this date (see above). Like Hadrian, John VIII was born in Rome. His ten year papacy would be wrought with political intrigue and struggles against the Saracens. Assisted only the inhabitants of Rome he would defeat the Saracens at Taaarracina, but Charles the Gross would fail to maintain his promise of help, and consequently Pope John VIII would be defeated by the Arabs and forced to pay a huge tribute to the infidels.
Death of Saint John of the Cross, priest, religious reformer and Doctor of the Church. For more on this extraordinary saint who is the author of "The Dark Night of the Soul", click on TODAY'S LITURGY.
The presidential decree cites the authority of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the Declaration on the Rights of the Child. The document -- which was signed by Menem on December 8 -- also points out that "under our constitution and our civil legislation, life begins at the moment of conception." The decree charges two government officials -- the minister of culture and the ambassador to the Holy See -- with the responsibility for planning appropriate events to mark the annual observance.
President Menem said that the idea of proclaiming a national day of recognition for unborn children had been warmly received by Pope John Paul II, with whom he met in Rome in November. The Holy Father, Menem said, praised the idea as "another valiant element in the fight to defend the family and human life."
Meanwhile, in Columbia Archbishop Alberto Giraldo of Bogota, the president of the Colombian bishops' conference, has denounced a bid to promote the decriminalization of abortion, which has been introduced into the nation's legislature.
Senator Margarita Londono has introduced proposals to drop criminal penalties for abortion in certain cases, as part of an overall reform of the nation's criminal code. Archbishop Giraldo complained that the proposals were actually another example of a systematic effort to legalize abortion, saying that such proposals have been introduced every year in one form or another. Urging legislators to see through efforts to cloak the issue in euphemism, the archbishop said that the object of the campaign is simply "to legalize abortion in our country."
Senator Londono's proposals would end criminal penalties for abortions performed in cases of rape, forcible impregnation, severe malformation of the baby, or a threat to the life of the mother; her proposal would also open the way for legal abortion in pregnancies that pose psychological or economic hardship for the mother.
"The Church cannot accept such legislation in any way," Archbishop Giraldo said. If legislators are truly interested in the welfare of women, he added, they should "pass legislation that really helps them, not allow acts which approve the destruction of human life. That is not a real solution to their problems."
Gary Martin Quinn, 34, a self-confessed top gunman for the Loyalist Ulster Freedom Fighters, was given five life-terms for four sectarian killings and for plotting to murder other Catholics. As he was led from Belfast Crown Court, one man who survived being blasted by a shotgun by Quinn eleven years ago wished him "Happy Christmas," to which he replied "Thanks mate."
Quinn, from Lisburn in County Antrim, confessed to the killings seven years to the day after he himself was shot in the head by an off-duty British soldier while on active service with the UFF. Lord Justice Nicholson said Quinn's five years with the loyalist terror group from "1985 to 1990 were the most important and exciting in his life." The judge told Quinn he was guilty of "sectarian murders of a vile and vicious nature" which were committed "largely or entirely for sectarian reasons." Quinn had targeted people because "they were Catholic or thought to be Catholics."
Nicholson said Quinn had expressed remorse for only one of his victims, Loughlin Maginn, murdered in his Rathfriland home in August 1989. But the judge said Quinn's remorse was not because Maginn was a Catholic, "but because he was married to a Protestant." Quinn, said the judge, "apparently found this upsetting."
In their final message, the assembled bishops cover the main topics which have dominated their discussions during the past three weeks: pastoral problems such as the shortage of priests and the demands of inculturation; and social issues such as the spread of secularism, the challenges of immigration, the problem of poverty, and threats to the environment. The bishops also make a special mention of "indigenous minorities," supporting them in their struggle for recognition of their rights and preservation of their cultural heritage.
Above all, the Synod fathers proclaim in their final message, the Church in Oceania must respond to "the need for holiness, for the pastors and for the faithful." They conclude that "if the Church seeks to teach, she must first bear witness."
"The Synod For Ocean has provided us with a better understanding of how we can help each other, as bishops in the different regions," said Bishop Gerard-Joseph Deschamps of Daru-Kiunga in Papua New Guinea. "In my case, I need professors in my seminary; I have been able to talk with Australian bishops, who will be able to alert their own seminarians and teachers to that fact, to see if any of them may be interested."
The Synod, which convened in Rome on November 22, will close with a formal liturgical ceremony on Saturday, December 12. The final product of the Synod will be an apostolic exhortation, to be issued by the Pope, summing up the main themes of the bishops' discussions. Cardinal Jan Schotte, the secretary of the Synod, reported that a survey of participants had resulted in a list of cities that might be recommended to the Pope as appropriate sites for the formal promulgation of that apostolic exhortation. This list included two Australian cities, Brisbane and Sydney, as well as two Pacific island locations, New Caledonia and the Fiji Islands.
The law must be passed by the full parliament but the Labour Party-dominated ruling coalition holds a large majority of seats. The measure allows homosexuals and lesbians to marry in a civil ceremony, granting them the same legal rights as heterosexual married couples. "Civil marriage will be made available to people of the same sex. It will be possible to transform existing registered partnerships into marriages," the cabinet said in a statement.
The Netherlands had already legalized registration of homosexual partnerships without granting the full range of rights enjoyed by married couples. The cabinet said there were no objective reasons to prohibit same-sex marriage.