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THURSDAY      December 3, 1998      SECTION TWO       vol 9, no. 235

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

Events Today in Church History

      On this date in 741, Pope Saint Zachary was elected the 91st successor of Peter. His eleven year pontificate was most noted for consecrating Pipin the Short as King of the Franks. It was the first investiture of a king by a Pope and would set a precedence over succeeding centuries. For other events throughout the centuries that are memorable in Church history today, click on MILLENNIUM MILESTONES AND MEMORIES

Historical Events in Church Annals for December 3:

(Feast of Saint Francis Xavier)

NEWS & VIEWS with a Catholic slant

provided by Catholic World News Service



      VATICAN ( -- The Vatican welcomed the news that Christmas will once again be celebrated as a holiday in Cuba on a permanent basis.

      The Cuban government yesterday announced the re-establishment of the Christmas holiday. Last year the Christmas holiday was observed as a goodwill gesture, just prior to the January 1998 visit by Pope John Paul II. Before that, no Christmas celebrations had been allowed in Cuba since 1969.

      In an official response to the Cuban decision, papal spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said that the Holy See had received the news "with satisfaction." He added that the official recognition of Christmas was "a response to a precise desire of the people and the Cuban Church, and I think it will not pass unnoticed by the international community."

      The Cuban government, for its part, issued a statement claiming that the suspension of Christmas observances in 1970 "was not motivated by anti-religious sentiments, but solely by the economic necessities" of the island, which made it essential to keep businesses open in order to maintain adequate productivity.

      In another positive gesture, the Cuban government yesterday announced the release of Jesus Chamber Ramirez, a political dissident who had spent the last six years in prison, often in solitary confinement. His name was on a list of prisoners for whom Pope John Paul had sought clemency last year.


      ST. LOUIS, Missouri ( - The Missouri Supreme Court decided on Tuesday to change the planned date of execution for a convicted murderer that was originally set for the same time Pope John Paul II will be visiting the city.

      The court had originally set January 27 as the execution date for Darrell Mease, 42, who was convicted in the murder of his former drug-dealing partner, the man's wife, and their handicapped son in 1988. But the court later changed the date to February 10 without additional comment.

      Kent Gipson, a lawyer who has challenged many of Missouri's death sentences, said he thinks the court changed the date because of the potential embarrassment of carrying out the execution while the Holy Father is visiting the state. The Pope has been a vocal opponent of the death penalty, even directly lobbying US governors to grant clemency for death row inmates. "Somebody figured out they had set the date for the night the Pope was in town and didn't want any undue attention called upon the death-penalty machine," Gipson said.

      The Holy Father is scheduled to arrive in St. Louis on January 26 and leave the next day after attending a youth rally.


      ALEXANDRIA, Louisiana ( - The Diocese of Alexandria, Louisiana suffered serious losses on Monday when the chancery building was gutted by a mysterious fire.

      No one was seriously injured, although a firefighter was treated for smoke inhalation at the scene, but nearly all of the secretarial and departmental offices were gutted. Sacramental records, including baptism and marriage records, and financial records may have survived because they were stored in vaults, but there condition could not be determined until the scene had been investigated.

      Fire department spokesmen said the fire at the St. Joseph Catholic Center began around 6:15 pm and was under control 45 minutes later, although the fire was still burning. Bishop Sam Jacobs was on the scene was firefighters battled the blaze and later said he was thankful no one was seriously injured. "We don't know what caused it," Bishop Jacobs said. "It looks like most of the secretarial and departmental offices in the back are burned and gutted. It's hard to tell from the outside. "Right now, I have no idea what this means for the diocese," he added. "We just have to see the damage once the fire's out."


      VATICAN ( -- Pope John Paul II today delivered his 27th address in a series of catechetical talks on the work of the Holy Spirit.

      At his weekly public audience, the Pope said that the Holy Spirit is the source of "Christian involvement in transforming the world through the light of the Gospel."

      The Holy Father observed that the Christian's determination to change the world is linked to "hope for the certain arrival of the Kingdom of God." Since the Holy Spirit is the source of both these impulses, it is wrong to suggest-- as some Marxists analysts have-- that there is a conflict between them.

      "Christian spirituality is not a spirituality of escape, or of rejection of the world," the Pope continued; "and it cannot be reduced simply to temporal activity." Believing Christians are called to "give witness to the Resurrection of Christ" and at the same time-- and for the same reason-- to "work together as builders of a new society."

      While working toward, and hoping for, the Kingdom of God, Christians are sustained by the Eucharist, the Holy Father said. The sacraments provide the power through which the faithful "live in the hope of Christ," and "not conformed to the mentality of the present world."

      Meanwhile, the official Vatican newspaper today lamented the "barbaric" killing of a Canadian missionary in Haiti.

      Christian Brother Bernardin Hudon died last Thursday after being hacked with a machete at his home in La Valle. Police have not been able to determine the motive of the crime, or to name a suspect. However, they do suspect that the killer had been hidden inside the building, since there was no sign of forced entry.

      "The only sad certainty," reported L'Osservatore Romano, "is that a new name has been added to the contemporary list of martyrs for the Church." In 1997 there were 68 Catholic priests, religious, and seminarians killed; to date this year there have been at least 15 such killings. Pope John Paul II has said that during the Jubilee Year, the Church will honor the many martyrs of the 20th century.

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.


"The intention in the human heart is like water far below the surface, but the man of intelligence draws it forth."

Proverbs 20: 5

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December 3, 1998 volume 9, no. 235   DAILY CATHOLIC