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FRI-SAT-SUN      April 16-18, 1999      SECTION THREE       vol 10, no. 75

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

NEWS & VIEWS with a Catholic slant

provided by Catholic World News Service and Noticias Eclesiales Church News



      VATICAN CITY, 15 (NE) Proclamation of the Gospel and the witness of the true face of God the Father is "the most convincing answer to atheism," affirmed Pope John Paul II Wednesday during his weekly catechesis. The Pope reminded pilgrims gathered in Saint Peter's Square that "a person's religious orientation comes from their condition as a creature, leading them to long for God, who created them in his image and likeness."

      The contemporary era has known "particularly harmful forms of "theoretical" and "practical" atheism. Secularism manifests itself as particularly harmful because of its indifference toward the last things and faith," he said.

      Pointing out that although in Holy Scripture there is no mention to theoretical atheism, there is a rejection of practical atheism. "More than an atheism," he added, "the Bible talks about impiety and idolatry. The impious and idolaters are those who, instead of God, prefer things of this world, which are falsely claimed to be divine."

      "Atheism," he continued, "could become a form of an intolerant ideology, as history demonstrates it." The Pope reminded that the last two centuries have known currents of theoretical atheism that have rejected God on the basis of the search of an absolute autonomy of man, nature or science. "This systematic atheism has been imposed during decades offering the illusion that, by eliminating God, the person would be both psychologically and socially freer," he pointed out.


      VATICAN ( -- Christian churches will have a key role to play in the restoration of the Balkan region after the current war, a Vatican official has said.

      Msgr. Eleuterio Fortino, the under-secretary of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, said: "The role of the churches at the end of conflicts is to heal wounds, to salve hearts, to purify memories, and to engage in the process of reconstruction." Msgr. Fortino, who himself is an Albanian priest of the Byzantine rite, added that the main task of the Church in every situation is always "the proclamation of the Gospel, which is never captured by an ethnic group or a culture."

      In the Balkans, Msgr. Fortino said, Christians have a special duty to respect "the command which Christ gave his disciples, that they love one another." He observed that collaboration among Christians of different denominations and different ethnic groups could help to bridge the cultural divides of the region. The Vatican official added that Muslims, too, could help in the task of reconciliation, insofar as they share with Christians "a common reference to the transcendent."

      Msgr. Fortino, who is a personal acquaintance of the Kosovo Albanian leader Ibraham Rugova, saluted his friend's choice of non-violent resistance to Serbian domination. He said that Rugova understands Christian culture, and could be a valuable mediator between the Orthodox and Muslim communities.

      Meanwhile in Brussels, NATO officials have conceded that a civilian vehicle was destroyed during an air strike on a convoy in Kosovo.

      Serbian authorities had charged that the NATO strike killed at least 60 civilians along the road between Pristina and Djakovica in Kosovo on Wednesday. After originally suggesting that the deaths may actually have been caused by Serbian forces, NATO today admitted responsibility for the civilian casualties.

      "Serb police or military vehicles may have been in or around the convoy," the NATO statement added. NATO has charged that Serbian troops are deliberately surrounding themselves with civilians, thus using the people of Kosovo as human shields.


      VATICAN ( -- The Vatican has expressed grave concern over the arrest of a Catholic bishop in Rwanda.

      Bishop Augustin Misago of Gikongoro was taken by the government of President Pasteur Bizimungu, who charged that the cleric was involved in the massacres that took place in Rwanda in 1994.

      "The arrest of a bishop is an act of extreme gravity, which affects not only the Church in Rwanda but the entire Catholic Church," the Vatican said in an April 15 statement. The statement went on to say that diplomatic relations between the Rwanda and the Holy See would be "profoundly" affected by the move.

      The Vatican expressed the hope that "all legal guarantees" would be in force in the trial of Bishop Misago, and confidence that "his innocence will soon be proven."


      RIO DE JANIERO, 15 (NE) The Brazilian National Bishops' Conference informed yesterday that it is possible that Pope John Paul II may visit the country on occasion of celebrations for the 500 anniversary of the beginning of evangelization in Brazil. The date of the Holy Father's pilgrimage could be April 2001, in order to attend to the closing ceremony.

      Other sources have informed that the Holy Father's visit would be in the year 2000, in order to attend the inaugural activities, during which a solemn Eucharistic celebration will be carried out in the state of Bahia. This date however seems to be difficult, because of the Pontiff's tight calendar due to celebrations and activities on occasion of the Great Jubilee of the year 2000.

      If it were to be finally carried out, it would be the Pope's fourth visit to this country. The last was in 1997, on occasion of the II World Encounter of the Pope with the Families, which took place in Rio do Janeiro. The previous visits were in 1980 and 1991.

For more headlines and articles, we suggest you go to the Catholic World News site at the CWN home page and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales. Both CWN and NE are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provides this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

Month of May will kick off in Washington D.C. with a Rosary march

      In these times when we are so in need of Mercy and Heavenly direction, a group of devoted Catholics will gather by the thousands on the Capitol steps to call down prayers for our country and the world on May 1st, the Feast of Saint Joseph the Worker and the beginning of the month dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, our Heavenly mother and the patroness of America. For the rationale and details on this, click on ECCLESIAL ECHOES.



     In honor of the commemoration of the 120th anniversary of the death of the Lourdes visionary Saint Bernadette Soubirous, we present a site dedicated to messages from apparitions and messengers throughout the world. The site is SIGNS OF THE TIMES maintained by Ted and Maureen Flynn, authors of the popular book The Thunder of Justice. You can obtain information here on the Magazine Signs and Wonders and their newsletter Catholic Prophecy Update as well as an assortment of other collateral.

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April 16-18, 1999 volume 10, no. 75   DAILY CATHOLIC