In a front-page article published in the April 8 issue, L'Osservatore Romano said it would be a mistake "to scrap any proposal hastily, without at least searching for points that might be used to prolong to dialogue." The Vatican paper added that even a temporary truce could be extremely useful, since "only with peace will it become possible to provide adequate aid to the population of Kosovo." The paper called upon all international leaders to redouble their efforts, and "not neglect any approach without having explored it in depth."
Meanwhile the papal nuncio in Belgrade, Archbishop Santos Abril y Castello, commented that the Yugoslavian government's offer of a unilateral truce is "a proposition that deserves attentive study." The Pope's representative in the Serbian capital told the Italian newspaper Avvenire that while the truce "should be confirmed by the facts," it remained a proposal worth exploration.
The archbishop also said that while humanitarian intervention to help the people of Kosovo was a "duty" for the European nations, "that is not the same as armed intervention." He argued that other political and diplomatic initiatives should have been explored before the bombing raids began.
In Belgrade, the latest effort at Church diplomacy was played out when a delegation from the St. Egidio community, led by Msgr. Vincenzo Paglia, met with leading Serbian government officials. Italian press sources indicated that the St. Egidio delegation may also have met with Ibrahim Rugova, who has been considered a "moderate" leader among ethnic Albanians in Kosovo.
Eclesiales Noticias reported in Church News that Pope John Paul II received the United Nations' High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Sadako Ogata, who afterwards met with Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican Secretary of State. According to what has been informed, the meeting related to the difficult situation of the people affected by the conflict in the Balkans. Precisely, the Pontiff sent last week Archbishop Paul Josef Cordes, President of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum" to Albania, in order to coordinate the help offered by ecclesial organizations and also to take his message of solidarity.
In a press conference held yesterday Bishop Belo asked Indonesian President Habibie to investigate the incident, urging the international community for help to avoid further violence. Last January President Habibie opened the possibility for the independence of East Timor, whose population, catholic in majority, has undergone a tough and constant repression, as well as a religious politics of aggressive proselytism on part of the Muslim government during the years of occupation. It is believed that more than a quarter of the population has died for this reason.
The President of Portugal, Jorge Sampaio, declared the Indonesian government responsible for last Tuesday's massacre. "The international community must hold the Indonesian authorities as responsible for the wave of violence against civilians," he stated. East Timor, where approximately 700 000 Catholics live, was originally a Portuguese colony until 1975, year in which it became independent. That same year it was invaded and annexed as the 27th province of Indonesia.
Last February Bishop Belo asked president Habibie to issue a decree on the situation of Timor. In that occasion the Apostolic Administrator of Dili said that a written presidential decree making explicit that East Timor would become free would help both sides to prepare for independence and avoid further situations of violence
The movie "Dogma," by director Kevin Smith, stars Matt Damon and Ben Affleck as angels who try to return to Heaven after they are exiled, Chris Rock as a foul-mouthed 13th apostle, and rock singer Alanis Morissette as God. The film also features a descendant of Jesus who works in abortion clinics and a decidedly less-than-pure Mary, mother of Jesus.
Bob and Harvey Weinstein, co-chairmen of Miramax, said they will buy the film rights and sell domestic distribution rights to a third party. "Disney is a target that's too vulnerable in a situation like this," Harvey Weinstein says in Thursday's Los Angeles Times. "They make family movies and a protest could hurt them unnecessarily. (Disney Chairman) Michael Eisner and (studio chief) Joe Roth have been so good to Bob and myself -- they give us so much latitude -- that we said, 'If this is a corporate problem for Burbank, let's solve it for them.'"
Miramax and Disney have come under fire in recent years for releasing "Priest," a film about a homosexual Catholic priest that demeaned Church teachings, and "Kids," a movie that received an NC-17 rating and portrayed high school boys who prey on girls, racking up sexual conquests as if they were a game.
Smith, who directed "Clerks" and "Chasing Amy," has described himself as a practicing Catholic and said, "'Dogma' is in no way blasphemous or worthy of the mild controversy that seems to be brewing around it."
Father Richard Welch, president of Human Life International, told a news conference opening the group's annual conference that Canada and the US promote "the myth of a population crisis" and then use taxpayer money to send contraceptives and set up population control in poor countries.
Father Welch said, to the contrary, there is no over population crisis in the world. In fact, he said, "western contraception programs being exported to the Third World have caused a catastrophic birth dearth in many countries." "Many developed nations too, such as Germany, Israel, Spain, and Denmark, are faced with the dire consequences of zero population growth and are unable to replace a retiring work force," he added. Canada is also facing a declining birth rate, well below the replacement rate.
He also charged the Canadian International Development Agency of being a major funder of abortion groups including the International Planned Parenthood Federation, and that the US and Canada are leading the charge in the United Nations to promote increased support of abortion and contraception through the Cairo+5 program.
Expected to open in fall 2000 in Ann Arbor, the school will be led by Bernard Dobranski, currently Dean of Catholic University of America's law school, and its first new professor is Judge Robert Bork, a one-time nominee for the US Supreme Court. Dobranski said the emphasis in training will be on Catholic moral truths in law. "The rule of law must be founded in a belief that there is an objective, moral order," Dobranski told the Detroit Free Press newspaper. "This is something no law school does effectively."
Monaghan, who recently sold his privately-held pizza chain last year for an estimated $1 billion, has used his fortune to support Catholic causes, including universities, parochial schools, and a cathedral in Nicaragua. He has also served on the Boards of Trustees of Franciscan University of Steubenville and Catholic University of America. The new law school will be located on the same campus as the Ave Maria Institute, a two-year college in the process of becoming a four-year college.
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