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MONDAY      August 30, 1999      SECTION TWO       vol 10, no. 163

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



      NEW YORK ( - Cardinal John O'Connor of New York was hospitalized for tests on Wednesday after complaining of nausea and weakness. The archdiocese said the 79-year-old cardinal was admitted to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Hospital in Manhattan.

      "The cardinal had experienced some weakness and nausea and consulted Dr. (Kevin) Cahill (his doctor)," said a statement from the archdiocese. "The cardinal is in good humor, is resting comfortably and is awaiting the results of his tests."

      The archdiocese said nothing should be inferred from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Hospital's reputation for treatment of cancer patients.


Initiative of Pope Celestine V

      AQUILA (ITALY), AUG 27 (ZENIT).- Saturday's celebrations of the "Celestine Pardon" concluded where the first Christian Jubilee began. The highlight was a procession displaying Celestine V's "Bull of Pardon," the Pope who inspired the first Jubilee in history in the year 1294 in the Italian city of Aquila. On this occasion, the city's Holy Door was opened by Cardinal Salvatore De Giorgi, Archbishop of Palermo.

Hermit Pope

      Pietro del Morrone, who became Pope Celestine V, was a hermit who had lived in seclusion in a small cave chapel on Morrone Hill in the Abruzzi Mountains. His personal sanctity attracted many people's attention, obliging him to search for seclusion in a more inaccessible place. Here he founded the religious Holy Spirit Community of Maiella, to house his hermit disciples. He, himself, lived as a hermit for 40 years, making rare trips to request approval of the Community's rule.

      In 1294, Charles of Anjou, king of Naples went to his hermitage. The king was worried about the state of the Church: Peter's chair had been vacant for two years, because the Cardinals meeting in the Italian city of Perugia, could not agree on whom to choose as new Pope. The elderly hermit gave the king a letter of exhortation for the Cardinals to speed up their decision. Aware of the people's unease and of a movement for renewal within the Church, when the conclave received the letter, the electing cardinals choose the author, Pietro del Morrone, as the new Bishop of Rome. The date was July 5, 1294.


      The hermit was 80 years old at the time of his election. The primary objective of his pontificate was the profound change of the conduct of the clergy, who not always knew how to discern between temporal and spiritual power. The Pope searched for a striking way to entice all to return to the Gospel spirit. Before long, he had the answer -- "Pardon": he called everyone to a year of forgiveness of sins and return to evangelical austerity and fidelity.

      The elderly hermit soon realized he was not up to carrying the weight he had accepted. He had a Curia that was wise in the secrets and cunning of the politics of the time. He, himself had little knowledge of the laws of the period and feared that the temporal power would erode his spiritual life, so he resigned his post on December 13, 1294, five months after his election.

      On December 24 he was succeeded by Cardinal Benedetto Gaetani, who took the name Boniface VIII. He annulled all of his predecessors pontifical transactions, but kept the convocation to "Pardon," which was scheduled for the year 1300.

      Celestine died in his cell on May 19, 1296. A few years later he was proclaimed a saint and confessor of the faith.

      In the bull, "Antiquorum habet fidem" of February 22, 1330, in keeping with his predecessor's spirit, Pope Boniface VIII granted a plenary indulgence to anyone who would visit during that year, and every hundred years, the Roman Basilicas of St. Peter and St. Paul. And so the Jubilee was born, a year of reconciliation between contenders and of conversion to God. It was an historic event, attended by over 200,000 pilgrims, according to estimates at the time. Dante Alighieri, the author of "The Divine Comedy," mentions the Jubilee in his works. ZE99082702


      VATICAN CITY, 28 (NE) Pope John Paul II received yesterday a group of teachers and students from the Pontifical Institute John Paul II for studies on matrimony and family. This institute, founded 18 years ago by the Pope, currently develops its activity in Italy, Spain, USA, Mexico, India, and other countries.

      During his address, the Pope denounced the intention of many cultural sectors to "eliminate the corporal mediation in the conjugal act as the occasion where a new human life can have its origin."

      The Pontiff explained that this means to "degrade procreation to the level of a technically controlled reproduction." As such, procreation is no longer a "collaboration with God the Creator and the personal dignity is lost."

      On the other hand, the Pope acknowledged the growing tide of attacks against family in the last 18 years. Today, "the discussion is no longer merely about particular moral norms of sexual and family ethics. Today an alternate anthropology stands in opposition to the image of man and woman according to natural reason, and in particular, to the Christian image of man and woman."

      Pope John Paul II finally expressed that in spite of these erroneous interpretations, "the destiny of humanity goes through family" and, therefore, the Church must untiringly reflect in the "plan of God for the person, matrimony and family" and to display a consequent apostolic action.


Church Was Not "De-consecrated" but "Profaned"

      VATICAN CITY, AUG 27 (ZENIT) and CWN - Last Thursday, a 63-year-old man committed suicide in St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican.

      It began as an ordinary summer afternoon at the largest church in the world, as groups of tourists made their way among the artistic masterpieces that have come to symbolize some of the greatest expressions ever of both faith and culture: the Pieta of Michelangelo, works of Canova and Bernini.

      Precisely, in front of the main altar, under the canopy or "baldechino" of Bernini, Benedetto Minnini, a retired resident of the Italian city of Bari, ended his life with a pistol. It was just after 2 p.m.

      At that moment, an Australian woman was filming panoramic shots of the tomb of St. Peter with her small video camera when, almost unaware of it herself, she captured the gruesome event on film. She later handed over the film to the Italian police to help them investigate the incident and discover the motive behind the suicide.

      While other suicides have taken place on Vatican grounds in the past, this is the first time that it has occurred within the Basilica itself. Pope John Paul II, who is still living in his summer residence at Castel Gandolfo, was informed of the incident shortly afterwards.

      Joaquin Navarro-Valls, spokesman for the Holy See, denied press reports that the Basilica would have to be re-consecrated after the suicide. During the normal daily Mass celebrated at 5 p.m. on the same day, there was a "reparation rite," as established in the " Cśrimoniale Episcoporum."

      The Mass "for the remission of sins," was celebrated by St. Peter's parish priest, Fr. Giovanni Ferrotti. He began by blessing water and sprinkling it on the faithful and on the place where the suicide was committed. The liturgical readings and prayers were all of a penitential nature, asking for forgiveness for what had occurred which, according to Vatican sources, "profaned" but did not "desecrate" Christianity's largest church.

      Cardinal Vincenzo Fagiolo, president emeritus of the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts, explained to Vatican Radio that these reparation rites "express the ecclesial community's sorrow over what has occurred, asking for forgiveness and invoking God's mercy. These rites also implore grace and blessings for the Christian people, who sorrow over the profanation of the Lord's dwelling."

      This ceremony makes no judgement of the person who committed suicide. "We cannot judge, because we do not know what led him to this act," the Cardinal explained. Apart from the state the person was in at the time of taking his life, the reparation affects the objective profanation of the Church. ZE99082705

      Meanwhile, CATHOLIC WORLD NEWS reported that the suicide of man inside St. Peter's Basilica who used a gun on Thursday to kill himself raised security questions in Rome concerning the estimated millions of pilgrims expected to visit the city during next year's Jubilee 2000 celebrations.

      The Rome's city government has estimated that up to 30 million people will visit the city between December 24, 1999 and January 6, 20001, five times the usual number. The Vatican's security system only requires visitors to St. Peter's Basilica to pass through metal detectors during official papal events.

      Vatican officials privately said they are planning to change security measures for the millennium, but declined to give details. "Security will be different. I can't tell you more because it is a security issue but it will be discreet," one Vatican official said. The officials did say the Pope specifically ordered that the Vatican should not become a secured bunker.

      On Thursday, Roberto Mininni, a 60-year-old Italian from the south of the country, walked into the basilica through the main entrance, went to the confession area, pulled out a pistol, and shot himself.

For more headlines and articles, we suggest Catholic World News site at the CWN home page and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales and 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.

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August 30, 1999 volume 10, no. 163   DAILY CATHOLIC