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WEDNESDAY      November 11, 1998      SECTION TWO       vol 9, no. 221

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


      Today is the Feast of the bishop Saint Martin of Tours while tomorrow we commemorate the Feast of the martyred bishop and religious Saint Josaphat. For the readings, liturgies, meditations and vignettes on these saints, click on LITURGY

Wednesday, November 11, 1998

Feast of Saint Martin of Tours, Bishop

Thursday, November 12, 1998

Feast of Saint Josaphat, Bishop, Religious and Martyr


WORLDWIDE NEWS & VIEWS with a Catholic slant

provided by Catholic World News Service



      VATICAN ( -- Archbishop Etienne Nguyen Nhu The of Hue reports the Pope John Paul II is delighted with the invitation he has received from the bishops of Vietnam. Such a visit has been mentioned as furnishing an occasion for the promulgation of a post-synodal exhortation concluding the work of the Synod on Asia.

      According to the Vatican news agency Fides, Archbishop Nhu The met privately with the Holy Father on November 6, and-- as representative of the Vietnamese bishop-- formally invited the Pontiff to visit Vietnam for the conclusions of ceremonies marking the bicentennial of the Marian sanctuary in La Vang. Fides reported that the Pope replied that he would like to come "if it is possible."

      The greatest obstacle to such a trip is the absence of diplomatic relations between Vietnam and the Holy See. However, sources in the Vatican Secretariat of State suggested that there could be reasons for optimism, and that the Vietnamese government might be open to a papal visit as a step toward mutual diplomatic recognition. Archbishop Nhu The added his opinion that the government could draw profit from such a visit, since "if the Pope comes, all the world will look upon Vietnam sympathetically.... it could be a sign of openness to the international community."

      From Vietnam, Bishop Barthelemy Son Lam of Than Hoa told Fides that an official request for approval of a papal visit would be presented to the government tomorrow by Cardinal Pham Dinh Tung. He added that the government had been kept abreast of the bishops' plans to issue such an invitation.


      VATICAN ( -- Pope John Paul II presided at a solemn Mass in St. Peter's Basilica, in memory of the cardinals and bishops who have died during the past year.

      The Holy Father praised the deceased prelates for their service to the Church, saying that they had imitated the Good Shepherd, "who lays down his life for his sheep." Summing up one of the main themes of his pontificate, the Pope said, "This is the destiny of every Christian, and indeed of every man: to find himself through the gift of his self." He concluded that the Holy spirit "will raise up to new and eternal life all those who have generously given their life to the Gospel."

      Ten cardinals have died during the past year: Cardinals Laurean Rugamba, Eduardo Pironio, Antonio Quarracino, Jean Balland, Antonio Ribeiro, Alberto Bovone, Agostino Casaroli, John J. Carberry, Anastasio A. Ballestrero, OCD, and Alois Grillmeier, SJ. Their deaths leave the College of Cardinals with 157 members today, of whom 101 are eligible to take part in a papal election. Of the 157 cardinals, 128 were elevated by Pope John Paul II.


      CHICAGO ( - Two Catholic churches and a pro-life group received letters that threatened they contained anthrax bacteria on Monday, 10 days after abortion clinics in four Midwestern states received similar threats.

      St. Matthew's Church and School in Indianapolis, Queen of Martyrs' Church in Cheektowaga, New York, and the Chicago office of the Pro-Life Action League all received letters that said, "You have been exposed to anthrax." The note was identical to a threat sent 10 days ago to the abortion clinics. Those letters had a Cincinnati postmark while the most recent threats had Texas and Illinois postmarks.

      Six parish staff and 481 students and teachers were treated for possible exposure to anthrax at St. Michael's, although authorities did know if the threat was real. Nine people were decontaminated at Queen of Martyrs, which is located near Amherst, New York where abortionist Barnett Slepian was murdered last month. None of the seven workers at the Pro-Life Action League were evacuated or treated. That group lost a lawsuit earlier this year that had been brought by pro-abortion groups.

      The threats may have been reprisals for the earlier threats which turned out to be hoaxes. A coalition of national and local pro-life groups condemned all forms of violence, including threats of violence, whether they are targeted at pro-life or pro-abortion advocates. "The National Coalition for Life and Peace condemns this deadly threat. At this time, fortunately, it appears the threat was a hoax. Real or not, however, domestic terrorism has no place in our society," the group said. They also cautioned against assuming the acts are the work of pro-abortion extremists, just as they condemned the assumption that the earlier acts were the work of pro-lifers.

      Meanwhile, in Washington D.C. the US Justice Department on Monday reformed its national task force to investigate crimes against abortionists and abortion clinics, and announced a $500,000 reward for arrest of the killer of abortionist Barnett Slepian last month.

      Attorney General Janet Reno said the revival of the task force was in response to a "series of savage attacks against providers of reproductive health care." She said, "These attacks and others seek to undermine a woman's basic constitutional right -- the right to reproductive health care. And while some people may oppose that right, no one should ever use violence to impede it."

      In addition to the Slepian murder, Reno cited the shootings of four abortionists in Canada and upstate New York over the past four years, chemical attacks on 20 clinics in Florida, Louisiana, and Texas this past summer, arson attacks on two clinics in North Carolina, and anthrax threats made against 10 clinics in four states in the past 10 days.

      Reno did not say whether the task force would investigate violence against pro-life groups including anthrax threats made against two Catholic churches and a pro-life group on Monday. The new National Clinic Violence Task Force will be headed by Bill Lann Lee, acting assistant attorney general in charge of the Justice Department's civil rights division. Since 1994, the division has brought 27 criminal and 17 civil cases under the federal Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act.


      CARACAS ( - The Catholic Bishops of Venezuela "want to renew our commitment to preserve and strengthen democracy in our country, especially this critical moment," said Bishop Jose Sanchez Porras today, after the country completed the first round of national elections.

      On Sunday Venezuelans voted in the first step of a three-stage democratic process that will have reach its climax on December 6, when a new president and legislature will be elected. The November 8 balloting resulted in the election of state governors.

      Sunday's elections confirmed the rising political influence of retired Colonel Hugo Chavez and his coalition of independent movements, which won control over 9 Venezuelan states, defeating the traditional Social Democratic Party, which won in 8. Chavez has been the focus of some criticism from the country's Catholic hierarchy.

      Bishop Sanchez Porras, the secretary general of the Venezuelan bishops' conference, read a statement lauding "the achievements of these 40 years," which were described "a heritage that we all have to preserve, enrich, and deepen."

      "The Church in Venezuela, which has always been close to the democratic process, rejects the totalitarian temptation and commits her effort to strengthen a true democracy and to promote to responsible and calm completion of the current process," the bishops said.

      The bishops have criticized Chavez -- who in 1992 failed in his attempt to organize a military coup -- for his sharp criticism of the democratic process. Last week Chavez tried to ease tensions with the Catholic Church by holding a meeting with Archbishop Ignacio Velazco of Caracas.

      The bishops have also expressed concern over press reports suggesting that the military leadership would not accept the election of Chavez -- implying that if the man who once tried to organize a coup is elected by popular ballot, he in turn might be overthrown by a military coup, putting an end to the longest record of democratic rule in South America.

      In an obvious reference to the threats from the military, the bishops said: "We trust in the democratic vocation of our armed forces, which will respect the people's will and will walk with the Venezuelan people along the path of deepening the nation's democracy."

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.

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November 11, 1998 volume 9, no. 221   DAILY CATHOLIC