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MONDAY      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


     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

Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome

Tuesday, November 10, 1998

Feast of Saint Leo the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church

WORLDWIDE NEWS & VIEWS with a Catholic slant

provided by Catholic World News Service



    VATICAN ( -- 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 ( -- 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."

  &nsbp; 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.


     GUATEMALA CITY ( -- 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 prosecution.

    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 profit.

    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 Catholic faith."


    WASHINGTON, DC ( - 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 states.

    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 too vague.

    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 mother.

    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 pro-life activists.

    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 son."

    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 month.

    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 essentially correct.

    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.

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November 9, 1998 volume 9, no. 219   DAILY CATHOLIC