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WEDNESDAY      December 16, 1998      SECTION TWO       vol 9, no. 243

To print out entire text of Today's issue, print this section as well as SECTION ONE

Events Today in Church History

      For events throughout the centuries that are memorable in Church history today, click on MILLENNIUM MILESTONES AND MEMORIES

Historical Events in Church Annals for December 16:


      For the special Novena Prayer for this day during this time of preparation during Advent, click on ADVENT


PRAYER for December 16: Third Wednesday of Advent

with a Catholic slant

provided by
Catholic World News Service and Noticias Eclesiales Church News



      VATICAN ( -- "The secret of real peace resides in respect for human rights." That is the principal theme of the message prepared for the World Day of Peace by Pope John Paul II. Although the World Day of Peace is observed on January 1, the papal message was released at the Vatican today.

      In presenting the message to the media, Archbishop Francois Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan-- the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace-- observed that this would be the last such papal message of the current millennium, since the next annual message will be dated in the year 2000.

      In the message, the Holy Father makes reference to the recent celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. He alludes to a number of fundamental rights which are routinely violated today. First among these is the "sacred and inviolable" right to life, from conception to natural death, which is violated by abortion, euthanasia, and suicide, and endangered by modern attitudes toward the handicapped and the aged. The Pontiff called for the development of new laws and new policies to protect the right to life under all circumstances.

      Next the Pope mentioned religious freedom, which he said is at the heart of human rights. He observed that there are still places in the world where freedom of worship is not respected, and he insisted that the use of violence can never be justified by religious considerations.

      The Pope also condemned political corruption, discrimination against ethnic groups, and various forms of economic exploitation.


      BELFAST ( - The Northern Ireland Parades Commission on Monday decided to ban a planned march by the Protestant Orange Order through a Portadown neighborhood, the site of previous conflicts between Protestants and Catholics.

      About 10,000 Orange Order members had planned to march down Garvaghy Road -- a Catholic neighborhood -- on Saturday, the same spot where British authorities stopped the group's annual march in July. The commission said the parade could not process through "that highly contentious area, because no accommodation has been reached with local people." They also noted that since the Orange Order hoped to gather as many as four times as many marchers as before and "showed little capacity to discipline the participants and their supporters, we must conclude that there is a very real prospect of major disorder."

      During the confrontation in July, the marchers gathered at the start of the parade route, around the clock, for a week, but relented after rioting resulted in the deaths of three young Catholic boys. The Orange Order is opposed to the Good Friday peace accords reached last year between the largest Protestant and Catholic parties in the region.


      GUATEMALA CITY ( -- Archbishop Prospero Penados del Barrio of Guatemala City has expressed concern about the health of Father Mario Orantes, the priest who has been jailed as a suspect in the April death of Bishop Juan Gerardi.

      Father Orantes, who remains the only official suspect in the case -- despite persistent complaints by Church officials -- is "deteriorating very fast," Archbishop Penados reported, after visiting the ailing priest in a hospital where he is being treated for an ulcer. The archbishop met this weekend with the physicians assigned to the case, and concluded that the priest should have been transferred from his prison cell to a hospital room much earlier than was actually the case. "I think the authorities did not realize how bad Father Orantes' health is, and that contributed to his problems," he said.

      Archbishop Penados also told reporters that he and the other Catholic bishops of Guatemala remain convinced that Father Orantes is innocent of any involvement in the killing of Bishop Gerardi, and that government investigators have failed to pursue the more obvious leads in the case. Referring to a report on human-rights violations which Bishop Gerardi released just two days before his death -- a report which found the Guatemalan army responsible for 55,000 human-rights violations -- the archbishop said: "Those most directly affected by Bishop Gerardi's report killed him."


      VATICAN ( -- The Holy See yesterday formally ratified a new accord with Croatia, which makes economic provisions for "reparation for the injustices to the Catholic Church caused in the past by the confiscation of ecclesiastical properties."

      The formal announcement of the new accord explained that the agreement gives the Church "the necessary means to pursue her pastoral activities" in Croatia today. The reparations were offered by the Croatian government in light of the moves by the former Communist government of Yugoslavia to seize property from the Church.

      Pope John Paul II today received the representatives of the Croatian bishops' conference who had helped to negotiate the new arrangement, which was signed in Zagreb in October. The Pope noted that in signing the pact the Croatian government had recognized "the importance of the Church to society."

For more headlines and articles, we suggest you go to the Catholic World News site. CWN is not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provides this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.


"He who loves wisdom makes his Father glad, but he who consorts with harlots squanders his wealth."

Proverbs 29: 3

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December 16, 1998 volume 9, no. 243   DAILY CATHOLIC