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WEDNESDAY      August 4, 1999      SECTION TWO       vol 10, no. 145

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


      Today is the Feast of that gentle confessor who converted so many souls in France - the beloved Cure d'Ars - Saint John Marie Baptist Vianney. On Thursday we commemorate the Eighteenth Thursday in Ordinary Time and the Feast of the Dedication of St. Mary Major in Rome. For the readings, liturgies, meditations and vignettes for these feasts, click on DAILY LITURGY.

Wednesday, August 4, 1999


Thursday, August 5, 1999



 l;    Today, in honor of Saint John Vianney, we bring you the Opening Prayer for the Mass in his honor:

Father of Mercy, You made St. John Vianney outstanding in his priestly zeal and concern for Your people. By his example and prayers, enable us to win our brothers and sisters to the love of Christ and come with them to eternal glory.

with a Catholic slant

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



John Paul II Speaks on Basilica's Reopening after being Destroyed in '97 Earthquake

      ASSISI, AUG 2 (ZENIT).- On the occasion of the reopening of the Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels in Assisi, heavily damaged in the 1997 earthquakes, John Paul II sent a message to mark the "Celebration of Forgiveness." In his message for the celebration in the land of St. Francis, the Holy Father referred to the "forgiveness and reconciliation" that characterize the "city of peace," which is experienced today in a very special way.

      In his message, the Holy Father also referred to the meeting of world religious leaders held on October 26, 1986, and invited everyone to live "in the spirit of Assisi, a spirit of reconciliation, prayer and mutual respect."

      The "Celebration of Forgiveness" has been held in Assisi since August 2, 1216, when Pope Honorius III officially confirmed the great forgiveness or "Porziuncola indulgence" that Francis implored from Christ. It was in this chapel, constructed by the Assisi saint with his own hands, as John Paul II wrote in his message, that Francis "welcomed 'our sister, bodily death' singing."

      According to the Pope, the Porziuncola chapel, housed within the Basilica's walls, "preserves and offers a very special message and grace, which are present today and are a strong spiritual call to those who allow themselves to be attracted by their example." The Holy Father quoted Simone Weil's significant testimony, a "daughter of Israel, fascinated by Christ": "While alone in the romantic little chapel of St. Mary of the Angels, an incomparable miracle of purity, where Francis often prayed, something stronger than myself forced me, for the first time in my life, to kneel down."

      The strength of Assisi, the Holy Father assures us, is "in the gift of gratuitous forgiveness, which gives us peace with God and with ourselves, infusing in us renewed hope and joy of living."

      "Within the old walls of the little church, one can taste the sweetness of prayer in the company of Mary, Jesus' Mother, and experience her powerful intercession." Thus, this place became for Francis the "land of meeting" with God's forgiveness. Because of this, "he wanted everyone to share in this personal experience of God's mercy and he implored for and received a plenary indulgence for all those who, having repented and confessed, come here as pilgrims to this little church to receive the remission of sins and the superabundance of divine grace," the Holy Father explained.

      The Pope concluded by saying that he wishes all "those who follow in the footsteps of the 'poverello of Assisi,' in a genuine attitude of penance and reconciliation, and receive the Porziuncola indulgence with the required interior dispositions, the joy of meeting God and the tenderness of his merciful love."

      Meanwhile further north, on August 2, Assisi rejoiced over an unforgettable "Forgiveness Celebration." Once again, the traditional event of love and reconciliation that characterizes the "city of peace," took place in the Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels, recently restored, following the September 1997 earthquake. The Basilica houses the "Porziuncola," the small chapel built by St. Francis with his own hands. In the words of Fr. Massimo Reschiglian, Provincial Minister of the Minor Friars, today's celebration "is a sign of hope and a new beginning for the people of Umbria and Las Marcas who suffered the earthquake."

      The structural restoration of the Basilica began in October. The work entailed three miles of perforations in the walls, columns, and facade to insert steel cables to "tie" down the building. The vaults were reinforced with modern, extremely light resin, and the roof has been totally redone. An existing mathematical model of the Basilica and a computer have made possible the simulated reaction of the building to possible telluric movements.

      Fr. Giuseppe Bertuzzi, an architect who has closely followed all the phases of the work with "passionate competence," said that the most modern techniques have been used to restore life to this treasure of the spirit and allow pilgrims to visit the Basilica in complete safety.

      The restoration has left its imprint on the Basilica's appearance. The lighting is completely new, giving the impression at times of a "starlit sky." The tones of the wall coloring also give a new effect. Half of the 204,300 square feet of the Basilica's surface has been whitewashed with three layers of lime and splashed with natural earth of very light, almost white tones -- the custom in the 16th century.

      The work was financed by the Umbria Region to which Assisi belongs, with funds donated in view of the Jubilee of 2000. The restoration of other sites will be completed by October.

      "We have not opened a museum, but a holy place where even today the presence of the divine can be experienced by men," the Franciscan Provincial said.

      The last "Celebration of Forgiveness" before the Jubilee was given genuine expression in this shrine: a place which has "experienced the eruption of God's grace in the world," Fr. Giancarlo Rosati, the Basilica's custodian, said.

      Friar Rosati added that in the year 2000 "we will bring friars from all over the world so that they can welcome the greatest number in as many languages as possible, not only for the possibility of confession, but also to communicate Francis's experience of God." ZE99080205 and ZE99080203


      ST. LOUIS ( - The Shroud of Turin came from Jerusalem according to scientists on Monday at a press conference during the 16th International Botanical Congress held in St. Louis.

      Botany professor Avinoam Danin of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem concluded that the Shroud of Turin originated in Jerusalem after an analysis of pollen grains and plant images on the cloth. He identified these as coming from species only found in the Jerusalem region.

      "We have identified by images and by pollen grains species on the shroud restricted to the vicinity of Jerusalem," said Danin. "This combination of flowers can be found in only one region of the world. The sayings that the shroud is from European origin can't hold."

      The findings once again discredit the 1988 radiocarbon tests that concluded that the Shroud came from Europe and was made between 1260 and 1390. According to the Israeli scientist, the Shroud was made before the 7th century.

      Pollen identified as "Gundelia tournefortii" was also found in the Sudarium of Oviedo, a cloth that has several blood stains and is believed to be the burial face cloth of Jesus. A 1983 study showed that both the Shroud and the face cloth -- the latter of which is documented from the 1st century and has been kept in the Cathedral of Oviedo in Spain since the 8th century -- were stained with type AB blood.

      Over the years, several tests have been performed to verify or discredit the Shroud's authenticity. Last year, a group of experts from three different countries gathered to analyze, from their different specialties, the cloth with the latest scientific equipment. These scientists concluded that there was a 2 million to 1 probability that the Shroud was authentic.


Invites 250 Leaders of all Political Currents to Meet in Buenos Aires

      BUENOS AIRES, AUG 2 (ZENIT).- The 3rd Meeting of Politicians and Legislators, organized by the Vatican Pontifical Council for the Family, presided by Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, will be held in Buenos Aires from August 3-5.

      The importance the Church attaches to this meeting, which will focus on "Family and Life 50 Years after the Universal Declaration of Human Rights," is reflected in the fact that 6 Cardinals and 37 Bishops from Latin American will be attending.

      In calling this meeting, Colombian Cardinal Trujillo said that the "Church starts from the idea that the defense of the family, matrimony and life is indispensable in any coherent society."

      The President of the Pontifical Council for the Family hopes that the participants in the symposium will express their opposition to abortion and the cloning of human beings.

      Argentine President Carlos Menem, who in United Nations forums has supported the defense of human life proposed by the Holy See, will attend the inaugural session, which will bring together some 200 legislators and political leaders from the whole of Latin America.

      During the meeting, there will be talks on "Ethics and Globalization," by the two leading Argentine presidential candidates: Fernando De la Rua of the opposition Alliance, and Eduardo Duhalde, of the governing Justicialist party (the party of the Perons).

      Among the 250 politicians attending are former Colombian President Belisario Betancourt; former Uruguayan Chancellor Hector Gross Espiell; the Second Vice-President of the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies, Severino Cavalcante Ferreira; and Manuel Aguilera Gomez, deputy of the Mexican Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI).

      In explaining the purpose of the meeting, Cardinal Lopez Trujillo said that "John Paul II always calls on politicians to respond positively to new problems and challenges connected with the family and life in general. The new globalization cannot be divorced from ethics; here, we think the work of politicians in general and of legislators in particular, is fundamental."

      Special attention will be given to bioethics as related to the scientific challenge, economic development and demography, the family and society, globalization and Christian values, the juridical statute of the human embryo, and the dignity of life and death.

      This is the third meeting of Latin American legislators and political leaders called by the Vatican to discuss issues related to defense of the family and matrimony. The first meeting was held in Rio de Janeiro in 1993 and the second in Mexico City in 1997. ZE99080207


      PRISTINA, AUG 2 (ZENIT).- Franciscan Fr. Ambroz Ukai revealed that during the weeks of ethnic cleansing in Kosovo, around 300 Catholics were killed, especially in the villages of Djakovica, Pec and Meje, where, until then, they had lived together with the Moslems. According to Fr. Ukai, Superior of the Djakovica monastery and eye-witness of the war, of the 70,000 Kosovo Catholics who sought refuge in Albania, Montenegro, Macedonia and other European countries, almost 15% have returned to their homes. Of the 40 priests who work in Kosovo, only two had to leave during the weeks of armed conflict, but the majority of Church buildings have suffered severe damage, especially during temporary occupation by Serbian militia. ZE99080201

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.

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August 4, 1999 volume 10, no. 145   DAILY CATHOLIC