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TUESDAY      August 10, 1999      SECTION TWO       vol 10, no. 149

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

with a Catholic slant

provided by Catholic World News Service
and Noticias Eclesiales Church News and ZENIT International News Agency



      HONG KONG ( - Communist China has told Pope John Paul II that he will not be welcome to visit Hong Kong later this year when he visits Asia, according to the Archdiocese of Hong Kong on Monday.

      The Chinese Foreign Ministry said the Vatican's diplomatic recognition of Taiwan, which China sees as a breakaway province, was the reason behind the refusal. Archdiocesan officials said they were told several weeks ago that the Holy Father would not be coming, but no reason was given.

      Mary Seung, spokesman for the archdiocese, said the lack of formal relations with Beijing, which has controlled Hong Kong's foreign affairs since regaining sovereignty in 1997, is at the root of the problem. The Vatican refused to comment on the report. "We have no comment. We don't give out any information until two months ahead of a trip and the Pope's visit to Asia is planned for the end of the year," a Vatican spokesman said.


      RIO DE JANEIRO ( - At the 11th Encounter of Black Bishops and Priests in Brazil, the inclusion of some rituals from Afro-American cults in the liturgy has given rise to a heated debate on the differences between ecumenism and syncretism.

      A number of bishops-- notably including Cardinal Lucas Mereira Neves, the former Archbishop of Bahia who now serves as prefect for the Vatican's Congregation for Bishops-- have been critical of the tendency among some priests in northeastern Brazil to insert pagan rituals into the Catholic liturgy, and even to invite priests and priestesses from the traditional cults to participate in some ceremonies.

      This controversy came to a head last week during the Encounter of Black Bishops and Priests. At that meeting, held in the city of Sao Salvador in the northeastern Bahia state, organizers made inter-religious dialogue a central theme of their sessions, with a special emphasis on the traditional cults. The meeting included a Mass celebrated at the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary in Pelourinho, a church adorned with African ornaments; the Mass was preceded by a "procession" that visited the city's most noteworthy temples of the African cults.

      At two stops on that procession, the participating priests asked for and received a "blessing" from the pagan priests and priestesses. One Catholic participant, Father Clovis Cabral, SJ, commented that it was "very nice" for a particular priestess to receive the Catholic clergy, and said the visit was a way to repay "the debt that the Catholic Church owes to the black people."

      But other Catholics in Bahia took a very different view of the ceremony, and hundreds gathered at the Church of Our Lady of Sorrows for a Mass of reparation. Father Dominique Mathon, the pastor who presided at the Mass of reparation, remarked: "To engage in dialogue is all very well, but to seek a blessing from a pagan priestess goes too far." The French-born priest said that, in light of the demonic influences within the traditional religions, the Catholic priests who participated in the "procession" had "given a terrible witness" for the Catholic faith.

      The controversy continued still further when some of the priests participating in the Sao Salvador meeting charged that Father Mathon was promoting racism by denigrating the traditional African cults. They brought formal legal charges of racial and religious discrimination against the French priest.


      VATICAN ( - Pope John Paul II sent a message on Monday to Catholics in Communist Vietnam to mark the 200th anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady of La Vang.

      "I join the Vietnamese faithful in prayers ... asking this very holy Mother to accompany the Catholic Church in Vietnam in her march towards the Lord," the Holy Father said in a message sent to Archbishop Etienne Nguyen Nhu The of Hue. The three-day festival, from August 13 to 15, commemorates the reported sighting of the Virgin at La Vang, 40 miles north of the former royal city of Hue, in 1798, at the beginning of 90 years of persecution by the Vietnamese emperor.

      Communist-ruled Vietnam has the second-largest Catholic population in Asia after the Philippines and the Holy Father may make a visit to the country during an Asian pilgrimage later this year. Up to 100,000 of the country's 8 million Catholics attended the beginning of the year-long festival last year.


Peaceful Protest at Abortion Clinics Throughout U.S.

      LANSING, MICHIGAN, AUG 8 (ZENIT).- Our Lady of Guadalupe, Inc., is planning a special mission throughout the United States for Dec. 12 at 3 p.m. The Holy Father recently raised this date to a liturgical feast day throughout the Americas in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas. The Lansing, Michigan, based group invites people around the country to gather at abortion clinics on this day to pray, bearing a banner depicting Mary as she appeared to Juan Diego.

      Organizers stress that this will be a peaceful protest, keeping within the limitations imposed by the law. Each site will be provided a 2 x 3 ft. image for the event.

      When Mary appeared to Juan Diego, the Aztecs were still performing human sacrifices. Within 10 years after the appearance, 9,000,000 had been baptized, and human sacrifices had ended. Thus, the group hopes that the massacre of infants in our time will be stopped by the intercession of Mary.

      The Bishop of Lansing, Carl Mengeling, has given his support to the project. "Your public crusade for human life through the intercession of Mary, the Mother of Life, will unite thousands in prayer for this sacred cause. All our efforts of education, advocacy, etc., depend on prayer. You have my endorsement," he stated.

      One of John Paul II's speeches at the Denver World Youth Day became the inspiration for this initiative. "America, defend life! Do not be afraid to go out on the streets and into public places," he demanded on that occasion.

      Organizers can be contacted at The web page for the organization, with an online sign-up form, is located at ZE99080820

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 and the features, dossiers and Daily Dispatches at ZENIT International News Agency. CWN, NE and ZENIT are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provide this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

July 25th Medjugorje Monthly Message

   Dear children! Also today I rejoice with you and I call you all to prayer with the heart. I call all of you, little children, to give thanks to God here with me for the graces which He gives to you through me. I desire for you to comprehend that I want to realize here, not only a place of prayer but also a meeting of hearts. I desire for my, Jesus' and your heart to become one heart of love and peace. That is why, little children, pray and rejoice over everything that God does here, despite that satan provokes quarrels and unrest. I am with you and I lead you all on the way of love. Thank you for having responded to my call.
For more on Medjugorje, click on MEDJUGORJE AND MORE


"He who loves his life, loses it; and he who hates his life in this world, keepts it unto life everlasting. If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am there also shall My servant be. If anyone serves Me, My Father will honor him."

John 12: 25-26

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August 10, 1999 volume 10, no. 149   DAILY CATHOLIC