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November 9, 1998
SECTION TWO vol 9, no. 219
To print out entire text of Today's issue, print this section as well as SECTION ONE
LITURGY OF THE DAY
Today we begin a full week of feasts with the Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome while tomorrow we celebrate the Feast of Pope Saint Leo the Great, Doctor of the Church. For the readings, liturgy, meditations and vignettes on these feasts, click on LITURGY FOR THE DAY.
Monday, November 9, 1998
Monday November 9:
Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome
First Reading: 1 Kings 8: 22-23, 27-30 or Ephesians 2: 19-22
Psalms: 1 Chronicles/Paralipomenon 29: 10-12
Gospel Reading: John 2: 13-22
Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome
Known as "Christianity's first cathedral" and the "mother of all churches", the Lateran Basilica was the first church built by the Emperor Constantine after the Edict of Milan in 313. In 314 Constantine gave Pope Saint Miltiades the old palace on Monte Celio which had formerly been land owned by the patrician Laterani family. Constantine also decreed that the popes should live in the Lateran palace which was called the Patriarchate. It would remain the pontifical residence until the 15th Century, but the basilica itself would be in peril throughout the centuries. The successor to Pope Miltiades was Pope Saint Sylvester I who officially consecrated the basilica in 324 and dedicated it to Christ the Savior with Constantine's blessings. Eighty some years later the barbarian Alaric sacked the basilica; likewise the pagan Genseric in 455. It was the great Pope Saint Leo the Great who rebuilt it in 460. Three centuries later a devastating fire swept through the basilica and it was left to Pope Hadrian I in 785. A little over a century later an earthquake rocked Rome and practically destroyed the entire basilica. In 909 Pope Sergius III rebuilt the basilica and dedicated it to Saint John the Baptist. It was also dedicated to the other St. John - Saint John the Evangelist by Pope Lucius II in 1144. During the papacy of Pope Clement V the basilica was again heavily damaged by fire in 1308. No sooner was it rebuilt then another fire swept through in 1360 while Pope Innocent VI, the 199th in the line of Peter, was pontiff. It was so devastating that when Pope Gregory XI returned from exile in Avignon in the 1370's, he moved both the residential palace and the head of the See from the Caelian Hill to Vatican Hill which the Roman Senate had donated to the Pope. While the Lateran Basilica laid in ruins Gregory gave special prominence to Saint Mary Major Basilica for gaining a jubilee indulgence since people could not go on pilgrimage to the Lateran Basilica at that time. It was left to Pope Sixtus V to have the ruins of the Lateran torn down and in its place replaced them with late-Renaissance structures which he commissioned architect Domenico Fontana to construct. The only structure not torn down was the Pope's private chapel which was saved. Sixtus was known as the builder of churches and urban renewal projects. He also had the Holy Stairs (Scala Santa), which had been brought to Rome from Jerusalem by Saint Helena in the 4th Century, moved from the old palace residence to the entrance of the Sancta Sanctorum (Pope's private, holy chapel). This staircase was believed to be the one Jesus ascended in the palace of Pontius Pilate. In 1645 Pope Innocent X commissioned one of the leading Baroque architects Francesco Borromini to complete the interior of St. John Lateran's by the Jubilee Year of 1650. Nearly eighty years later later Pope Clement XII held a competition among architects to submit the best design for a new facade of the Lateran Basilica. Italian master Alessandro Galilei completed the work in 1735. The exterior of the Basilica today is a tribute to his work which aptly depicts a huge statue of Jesus holding the Cross of Redemption, the cross which Helena found and which her son saw miraculously in the sky on the eve before his victory and ultimate conversion. Flanking Our Lord at the top of the columned flat roof are a 15 gigantic statues of Saints and Doctors of the Church. The main bronze door into the church was the original one that closed the senate house and was built by the Emperor Julius Caesar in 44 BC. The magnificent massive statues of the apostles, chiseled by Italian master Gian Lorenzo Bernini, consume most of the columned side walls of the interior of the Basilica.
There have been five Ecumenical Councils held over the centuries at the Lateran Basilica and numerous diocesan synods. The Lateran Pacts signed by and Benito Mussolina on February 11, 1929 which defined the territory and status of the State of Vatican City was signed at the Basilica. Sadly, the devastation of this magnificent structure was not limited to the middle centuries, for on July 27, 1992 a bomb, planted by the Italian Mafia in retaliation of Pope John Paul II's stand against the crime organization, exploded at the Roman Vicariate of the Basilica, causing great damage. It was restored in January of this year and it was of special significance when our present Holy Father celebrated Holy Thursday liturgy there this past Lent, symbollically washing the feet of priests who had been chosen from all over the world in the Pope's display of what Jesus asks: to be the servant of the servants. The November 9th date for celebrating the feast of the Dedication of this great Basilica evolves from early in the 1100's when almost all the churches dedicated to Jesus chose this date to celebrate a miraculous event that happened in Beirut, Lebanon prior to the Nicene Council there in 787. The phenomenon occurred when a crazed man struck a statue of Our Lord with a sword and the statue, though made of stone, bled profusely as blood poured out in torrents. It was not until 1565, that Pope Pius IV decreed it be celebrated throughout the Church. Since this was the first church of Christianity, it is considered the "mother of churches throughout the world" and served as the seat of Christianity for a thousand years.
Tuesday, November 10, 1998
First Reading: Titus 2: 1-8, 11-14
Psalms: Psalm 37: 3-4. 18, 23, 27, 29, 39
Gospel Reading: Luke 17: 7-10
Feast of Saint Leo the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church
Pope Saint Leo the Great who became the 45th in the line of Peter when he was chosen to succeed Sixtus III on September 29, 440. Born in Tuscany, Italy near the very end of the 4th Century, Leo came up through the ranks of the Deaconate and was in France attempting to reconcile the warring factions there when he was elected Pope. Though, like most pontiffs, he did not feel worthy, he nevertheless accepted the privileged and august duties of leading God's people through the middle of a most turbulent century. Naturally the people looked to him for leadership and to save them from the plights that would afflict them, yet Leo, as a humble but effective deacon knew he couldn't do it by and of himself. He placed everything in God's hands and constantly sought the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Thus, in the hands of God, Leo became a powerful instrument to protect and honor the Church during the decay of the Roman Empire, the assaults of Arians, and the invasions of heathens. Three years into his papacy Leo convened an assembly to rebuke and endorse Pope Innocent I's condemnation of Manicheanism as well as exposing Nestorianism, Priscillianism, and Arianism. In 451 he called the Fourth General or Ecumenical Council at Chalcedon where he staunchly defended the Incarnation, defining the revealed teaching of faith that in Christ there are two distinct natures, the divine and the human, hypostatically united in one person. He also condemned the heresy of Eutyches. But the Byzantine Court did not convey his words to the people and the heresy grew stronger among the Eastern monks and bishops. This made it necessary for Leo to convene the Fifth Ecumenical Council, this time at Constantinople where he condemned in no uncertain terms the Three Chapters or heresies running rampant. He garnered the signatures of all the Bishops, proclaiming "Peter has spoken by Leo." He admonished his bishops to know their faith and to assure that their priests in each diocese were knowledgable in Dogma and Doctrine so that the people would not fall into the heresies that had assaulted the Church during the Third, Fourth and Fifth Centuries. Leo not only assured unity within ecclesiastical ranks, but re-established harmony among the faithful. He is called "great" because of his energetic work in maintaining unity, his involvement in the liturgy, politics, preaching and writings, which have been cherished and passed on through the ages. But to historians his greatest accomplishment came in 451.
The year before a barbaric horde known as the Huns had overrun the Empire, pillaging and plundering Gaul and moving rapidly from the north through Italy to the gates of Rome. Fearing no man, Leo chose to meet Attila face to face at the gates. Many felt it was suicide and that Rome's fall was a fait accomplis, but Leo knew God would protect him and so he bravely confronted the pagan king at the gates of Rome, pursuading Attila to abandon his plans to sack the city. To everyone's astonishment Attila rounded up his horde and turned away from Rome. It was another in the many encounters down through the centuries where, through the grace of God, a superior force is turned away, evidence David slaying Goliath, the victory at Lepanto, Saint Clare holding aloft the Blessed Sacrament in the monstrance to protect the city, and many more such cases where the power of God was manifested. Leo took very seriously his charge handed down from St. Peter to rule Christ's Church as Christ instructed. Leo knew it was not him who convinced Attila to forego his attempts on Rome, but the miraculous vision God allowed Attila to behold of Saints Peter and Paul standing behind Leo. The "Scourge of God" knew that any power this great was not to be messed with or he would be scourged by God, and so, totally overcome mentally by the vision he had seen, he retreated. It was the end of the threat so feared throughout Europe as the Hun king died two years later while Leo ruled another ten years, 21 in all, receiving his Heavenly reward on September 10, 461. In 1754 St. Leo was declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Benedict XIV, honoring this great Pope for his great writings and wisdom at a pivotal time in Church and world history. He had shown great courage and his skills at governing the Church and emphasizing spirituality while juggling the political footballs of his time. His actions strengthened the Vatican's position in the world while bringing the people to a closer understanding of what Jesus meant in His words to Peter in Matthew 16: 18-19, "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give thee the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven; and whatever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in Heaven, and whatever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in Heaven."
WORLDWIDE NEWS & VIEWS with a Catholic slant
Holy Father seeks to wipe slate clean for Jubilee 2000 regarding executions and debts as one of his fellow country men is murdered in the Congo
His Holiness Pope John Paul II has called for all countries to forestall any public executions during the Jubilee Year 2000 and also for impoverished countries of the Third World to be forgiven their debts in an effort to enhance human rights for all as we enter the new millennium. At the same time he was making his statement to a special group called the "Parlilamentarians for the Jubilee" word came that one of his fellow Poles - a missionary priest - had become the fourth Polish missionary to be killed in the Congo as persecution of religious seems to be escalating this year. For more, click on Papal plea
POPE SEEKS MORATORIUM ON EXECUTIONS, DEBTS
AT THE SAME TIME A POLISH MISSIONARY IS KILLED IN CONGO
VATICAN (CWNews.com) -- Speaking on the occasion of a concert organized
to celebrate the 20th anniversary of his election to the papacy, Pope John
Paul II renewed his calls for two special measures to celebrate the Jubilee
Year 2000: a moratorium on the use of the death penalty, and the
forgiveness of debts owed by impoverished countries.
The Pope made his pleas last night at a festive evening sponsored by
"Parliamentarians for the Jubilee." The evening features performances of the
works of Haydn, Mozart, Verdi, and Handel by an impressive corps of
musicians including soprano Chang Wang, violinist Uto Ughi, the orchestra
and choir of the Rome Opera, and the Poznan philharmonic choir. The
evening was specially dedicated to recognition of the Pope's work in defense
of human rights, and during the concert a video display alternated between
pictures of the Pontiff's meetings with various world leaders and texts of his
statements on human-rights questions.
Pope John Paul, in turn, praised the organizing group, Parliamentarians for
the Jubilee, for their commitment to human-rights measures; he specifically
mentioned the efforts to stop executions and the relieve Third World debt.
The Pope said that the evening's festivities constituted "a particular
manifestation of [the organizers'] closeness to the person of the Pope" and a
"significant witness to the unity around the fundamental spiritual and ethical
values that guide the human person and the human community."
The Holy Father made his statements while the official Vatican newspaper was announcing
the death of a Polish missionary priest in Congo.
Father Jan Czuba was killed this past weekend by a group of unidentified
armed men, at a site west of Brazzaville.
Ordained in 1984 in the diocese of Tarnow, Father Czuba began his
missionary work in Congo in 1988. He had been serving as the pastor of a
parish in Loulombo, in the Pool region. L'Osservatore Romano pointed out
that he was the fourth Polish missionary to die in that region, where armed
groups have taken refuge after being defeated in the 1997 civil war.
Confrontations between these groups and the troops of the new Congo
government have created "a climate of violence and extreme insecurity" in
the region, the Vatican newspaper noted.
Vatican employs spin control to soothe fears of rift between Holy See and Israel
Trying to assuage reporters and others who may have read too much into Israeli ambassador to the Holy See Aharon Lopez' comments criticising the cause for beatifying Pope Pius XII, the Vatican assured all that the remarks were from Lopez solely and do not represent the views of the State of Israel and also that it would have no influence whatsoever on the progress of the beatification process for the 260th successor of Peter who has far more Jewish supporters to his cause and what he did for them then detractors even though the latter are getting more press. The Vatican also nixed any recommendations by Lopez to open the archives regarding Pius and the holocaust since the Pope has already opened them. For more, click on Downplaying Ambassador's remarks.
VATICAN DOWNPLAYS PROTEST OF PIUS XII BEATIFICATION
VATICAN (CWNews.com) -- Archbishop Jean-Louis Tauran, the Vatican's
chief foreign-affairs officer, has cautioned reporters that they should not
"dramatize" the differences between the Holy See and the government of
Israel regarding the process of beatification for Pope Pius XII, since that
process is an internal Church affair, not subject to political influences.
The process for the beatification of Pius XII is following its normal course,
the archbishop said, and the recent remarks by Israeli Ambassador Aharon
Lopez-- calling for a 50-year moratorium on that process-- has had no effect
at all. Moreover, he observed, the ambassador's request "is nothing new from
the perspective of the Jewish community."
Archbishop Tauran went on to say that the documents of the Vatican
archives clearly show that Pope Pius XII made extraordinary efforts to save
Jewish lives from the Nazi Holocaust, and that no historical sources have
produced contrary evidence. In response to the plea by Lopez for the
opening of the Vatican archives, the archbishop also said that all of the
archival material relating directly to the Holocaust and the Pope's role has
already been made public.
Church convinces Guatamalan authorities to do thorough investigation of human rights bishop's murder while Nicaragua places Church in charge of relief provisions in hurricane ravaged areas
Reeling from criticism about a potential cover-up by Guatamalan authorities regarding the murder of human rights Auxiliary Bishop Juan Gerardi last April, the country's highest ranking judge agreed to take on the case as an independent counsel at the request of the Church to assure that a priest living at the bishop's residence at the time of the prelate's death will not be falsely convicted without definitive proof which many claim they do have concerning the fact paid soldiers committed the dastardly deed. Meanwhile just north in Nicaragua, the president of that hurricane-ravaged Central America country has asked the Church to take charge of dispersing aid and food to the victims to assure that there will be no hoarding and all who are due relief will receive it. For more, click on Relief in Central America .
GUATEMALA BEGINS EXAMINATION OF BISHOP MURDER
INVESTIGATION WHILE NICARAGUA ASKS CHURCH TO DISTRIBUTE STORM AID
GUATEMALA CITY (CWNews.com) -- The attorney general of
Guatemala has accepted a call from the Catholic Church for
a complete appraisal of the investigation into the murder
of Bishop Juan Gerardi.
Acisclo Valladares Molina, the country's top-ranking
jurist, has said that the task of investigating the state's
prosecutors in the controversial case "is a great honor, and
I accept, because I am committed to Guatemala." Although his
inquiry will not directly affect the course of the
prosecution -- insofar as he will be an independent
investigator rather than a part of the government's
prosecuting team -- the Molina mission is regarded as a
critical one from the perspective of Catholic Church
leaders, who have expressed misgivings about that
Critics of the government have repeatedly charged that
prosecutors are overlooking obvious leads in order to
protect the country's military leaders, who are widely
suspected of involvement in the bishop's death.
Meanwhile, in Managua, Nicaraguan President Arnoldo Aleman
has asked Catholic Church leaders to supervise the
distribution of relief supplies being sent to the Central
American nation to help victims of hurricane Mitch. The
move is a response to concerns that corrupt public
officials might pirate some of the supplies for their own
Government officials, recognizing that the Church is the
most respected institution in the country, have put
military helicopters at the disposal of Catholic officials,
so that supplies can be conveyed to the villages cut off
from transportation by floods and hurricane damage. The
governments of Mexico and Panama have also sent several
ships to help in the delivery of relief.
The Church faces a daunting challenge, since thousands of
people remain isolated and homeless, and the shortage of
food and safe drinking water threatens to cause an outbreak
of epidemic diseases. To date, Nicaraguan officials have
still not been able to make an accurate estimate of the
casualties produced by the storm, although it is generally
believed that at least 3,000 people have died.
In the west of the country, the situation is still further
complicated by the possibility of another natural disaster:
the Cerro Negro volcano has shown signs of activity, and
minor tremors have been felt in the earth around
Chinandega-- one of the areas hardest hit by the hurricane.
One local newspaper there concluded, "The poor people have
nothing to fall back on but their solidarity and their
Witch-hunt being formed against pro-lifers by Justice Department, liberal judges and other promoters of the culture of death
The murder of an abortion doctor in Buffalo, New York last week has prompted Washington D.C. to push the panic button and form a task force that basically, because of its composition of participants, will be nothing more than a pro-abort culture of death vigilante band against pro-lifers. What progress pro-lifers have made in legislature and at the ballot box are more and more being overturned by liberal, pro-abort judges; the latest being a judge in Kentucky who overturned the partial-birth abortion ban in that state. Meanwhile in Cuba a well-known pro-life doctor's home was plundere by culprits suspected to be aligned with the Cuban secret police. In Vancouver, the archbishop there reinforced an editorial against the slain abortion doctor. For more, click on Devil's disciples.
US JUSTICE DEPARTMENT FORMS ABORTION TASK FORCE AS
KENTUCKY PARTIAL-BIRTH ABORTION BAN OVERTURNED AND
CUBA PRO-LIFE DOCTOR ATTACKED IN HAVANA
WHILE IN CANADA ARCHBISHOP SUPPORTS EDITORIAL ON ABORTION KILLING
WASHINGTON, DC (CWNews.com) - The Justice Department on
Thursday announced the formation of a new federal task
force to investigate violence and threats against abortion
clinics, including the recent shooting of an abortionist in
New York and anthrax threats made against clinics in three
Associate Attorney General Raymond Fisher said the task
force's mission is still being outlined and will be
officially announced next week. The group will include one
or more grand juries to help gather evidence and will bring
together doctors' groups, pro-abortion activists, the FBI,
US Marshals, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms,
and local police in the US and Canada.
Fisher said recent developments made the task force
necessary. "It's a very, very troubling development because
you have women and health care providers who are engaged in
what is their perfect right, constitutional right, to have
health care services," Fisher said. "And you have violence
which is being directed at these people, and it's not
something we can tolerate."
This malaise continued with the announcement from Frankfort, Kentucky
that a federal judge on Thursday overturned a Kentucky law banning partial-birth
abortions, calling the law unconstitutional because it is
US District Judge John Heyburn II said the law passed this
year too broadly defines the prohibited procedure, and
abortionists performing legal abortions could fear
prosecution under the law, which makes it unconstitutional.
He also said the law did not include an exception for
partial-birth abortions to save the life or health of the
The attorney general's office said it had not yet made a
decision on whether to appeal the decision.
In Havana, Cuba a group of vandals, believed to be
associated with the Cuban secret police, have attacked a
home that housed the family of one of the country's leading
Oscar Elias Biscet Gonzalez, a doctor and the founder of
the Lawton Foundation for Human Rights-- which works
against abortion and the death penalty in Cuba-- has been
the subject of repeated assaults over the past several
months. To avoid danger, his wife and son had been living
with an elderly woman in Havana. But last Saturday night,
that woman's house was attacked by a group of toughs who
broke windows, destroyed the locks with a corrosive fluid,
and painted the front of the house with graffiti, including
one that read, "Traitor."
According to an underground newspaper in Havana, the attack
was "another indirect act of hostility by the secret police"
against Gonzalez. The paper said that this was only the
latest in "a long list of indirect aggressions suffered in
recent months by his wife, Elsa Morejon Hernandez, and his
Meanwhile, a Canadian newspaper identified a man who
delivered pro-life packages to the newspaper as James
Charles Kopp, the man being sought by the FBI as a material
witness in the murder of abortionist Barnett Slepian last
Meanwhile in British Columbia, Archbishop Adam
Exner of Vancouver stood behind the editor of his diocesan
newspaper on Thursday, saying an editorial on the slaying
of a US abortionist may not have been well-worded but was
Editor Paul Schratz wrote in an editorial in the British
Columbia Catholic newspaper that the shooting of Barnett
Slepian was wrong, but added: "How can anyone help but be
pleased that murders of abortionists just might have some
positive side effects?" Schratz argued that by scaring
abortionists away from performing the procedure the evil
act may produce good results.
"Fewer doctors are willing to face the stigma, and now the
threat of personal harm, associated with performing
abortions," he wrote. "It just goes to show that our
all-powerful and all-loving God can bring good from any
evil situation." Archbishop Exner told the Vancouver Sun
newspaper, "I think it's unfortunate he worded it the way
he did. But that doesn't mean to say the substance of the
editorial is not correct. That particular paragraph is not
well-worded." He added that the Church is clear that there
is no justification for killing abortionists.
Click here to return to SECTION ONE or click here to return to the graphics front page of this issue.
November 9, 1998 volume 9, no. 219 DAILY CATHOLIC