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FRI-SAT-SUN      December 4-6, 1998      SECTION TWO       vol 9, no. 236

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


     This weekend we celebrate the FIRST FRIDAY and FIRST SATURDAY of Advent and of the month. Friday is also the feast of a little-known Doctor of the Church Saint John of Damascus while Monday is the Feast of a much more well-known Doctor of the Church, the esteemed bishop Saint Ambrose. In between we observe the SECOND SUNDAY OF ADVENT which supersedes the traditional Feast of Saint Nicholas - the Christian precursor to our modern concept of "Santa Claus." For the liturgies, readings, meditations and vignettes on the above feasts for this time period, click on LITURGY

Friday, December 4, 1998

December 4: SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS, Priest, Religious and Doctor of the Church

Saturday, December 5, 1998

SUNDAY, December 6, 1998

Even though the Second Sunday of Advent supersedes his feast, December 6th is also the Feast of Saint Nicholas, Bishop:

December 6: SAINT NICHOLAS, Bishop

Monday, December 7, 1998

December 7: SAINT AMBROSE, Bishop and Doctor of the Church


      For the special Novena Prayers for Friday, Saturday and Sunday for this time of preparation during Advent, click on ADVENT


PRAYER for December 4: First Friday of Advent

PRAYER for December 5: First Saturday of Advent

PRAYER for December 6: Second Sunday of Advent

with a Catholic slant provided by Catholic World News Service



      VATICAN ( -- In a sharp new public statement today, the Holy See insisted that all material in the Vatican archives regarding the Holocaust has already been made public, and challenging critics to provide evidence that anything has been held back.

      Joaquin Navarro-Valls, the director of the Vatican press office, told reporters that the statement was a response to "accusations raised during the past several days against the Holy See." Some such accusations have been aired at a conference on the Holocaust hosted by the US Department of State.

      Navarro-Valls pointed out that the Vatican has released all archival material pertaining to the Holocaust. He added: "Anyone who makes insinuations contrary to what the Holy See has already repeated several times should have some concrete evidence-- which, naturally, will not be forthcoming."

      Today's statement noted that an international group of historians had searched the Vatican archives at the request of Pope Paul VI, and produced an 11-volume work covering the years 1939- 1945. "This monumental work is universally recognized by historians as a fundamental contribution to the study of that period," the statement noted. Moreover, a recent history of Pope Pius XII incorporated another full volume of archival material.

      Citing this "exhaustive" published record, Navarro-Valls insisted that "nothing-- I repeat, nothing" more can be found in the Vatican archives.

      Similarly, the Vatican spokesman said, the archives contain no more evidence regarding the gold stolen by Nazis from Croatia. Pointing to "the absences of documents relative to that subject," Navarro-Valls concluded that the Vatican was not involved in any transfer of that stolen gold. He pointed out that Vatican experts participated in a scholarly session last year, trying to trace the path of the stolen gold, and the results were inconclusive.


      WASHINGTON, DC ( - Researchers and scientists told a US Senate subcommittee on Wednesday that a ban on the use of fetal tissue in research is slowing the development of more effective treatments for heart disease, diabetes, Parkinson's disease, and other disorders.

      But an expert from the US bishops' conference's pro-life office told the Senators that the methods used to collect the cells raise ethical concerns. Richard M. Doerflinger said that researchers isolate the necessary stem cells by either destroying a living unborn child, collecting cells from a newly aborted unborn child, or implanting human genes into a cow's egg.

      "Each system arouses ethical concerns," said Doerflinger. "These are the type of experiments that the federal ban" applies to, he said. "You could rip my heart out of my body and it would not be an organism," he added but the action would still result in the death of a human being. Researchers said cultured stem cells could produce new heart cells, or new insulin-producing cells for the treatment of diabetes, or new neurons for patients with Parkinson's disease or spinal-cord injuries.

      Embryonic stem cells are the basic or primordial cells from which all of a human's bodily tissues and organs develop during pregnancy. Under a federal ban, government-funded researchers must avoid human stem-cell studies and other research that involves the use of human embryos. Part of the federal law states that the ban applies only to what it calls "organisms." Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, minority leader on the subcommittee, said that definition would exclude stem-cell culturing and thus allow it.


      MADRID ( - An investigation into the activities of Satanic cults, undertaken by the Spanish newspaper ABC, has yielded disturbing information about the growth of the cults' activities, and the connection with murders, suicides, and human sacrifices.

      The ABC investigation involved interviews with police spokesmen, other public officials, Church representatives, and members of the sects themselves.

      Jaime Mayor, the government's interior minister, reported that there are now "about 200 destructive sects" operating in Spain, "the majority of them under legal cover." Police estimates put the overall membership of the groups at about 150,000.

      The Spanish bishops' conference offered a higher estimate: 250,000 people engaged in devil-worship, associated with 40 major cult groups. Father Manuel Guerra Gomez, a theologian and specialist in cult activities, said that there was substantial evidence to support the belief that some of these cults had engaged in human sacrifice; he mentioned an incident in Barcelona, in which a young gypsy girl was apparently killed at a black mass.

      The ABC article also cited statistics from the international law-enforcement consortium, Interpol, suggesting that the number of such ritual sacrifices is on the rise across Europe. Interpol reported that there were at least 100 human sacrifices in Europe in the years 1989 and 1990.


      HARARE, Zimbabwe ( - The World Council of Churches opened its annual assembly on Thursday amid a controversy that saw a boycott of the opening worship service by many Russian and Greek Orthodox delegates.

      The international body of Protestant and Orthodox churches faces growing tensions because Orthodox members are increasingly dissatisfied by what they see as creeping liberal stances on theological issues, including ordination of women and acceptance of homosexuality. While many Orthodox delegates chose not attend the opening worship service, others -- including Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople -- elected to attend by not lead the service.

      The meeting, which will end on December 14, is expected to address the Orthodox concerns. Contrary to earlier assurances from WCC officials, it seems certain that the homosexual issue will reach the assembly floor, at least obliquely. A message from a pre-assembly women's festival will refer to "human sexuality in all its diversity." Such language was opposed by Orthodox women as well as Protestants from Africa and the Mideast. The disaffected delegates mainly blame Protestants in North America and Europe for the increasingly liberal slant to the organization.

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.


"Man's pride causes his humiliation, but he who is humble of spirit obtains honor."

Proverbs 29: 23

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December 4-6, 1998 volume 9, no. 236   DAILY CATHOLIC