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MONDAY      December 13, 1999     SECTION THREE      vol 10, no. 236

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


    Today is the Feast of the martyred virgin Saint Lucy. Tomorrow we celebrate the Feast of Saint John of the Cross, author of "Dark Night of the Soul." This religious priest was the spiritual confessor to Saint Teresa of Avila For the readings, liturgies, meditations, and profiles on these saints, click on DAILY LITURGY.

Monday, December 13, 1999

Feast of Saint Lucy, Virgin and Martyr

Tuesday, December 14, 1999

Feast of Saint John of the Cross, Priest, Religious and Doctor of the Church

WORLDWIDE NEWS & VIEWS with a Catholic slant



Chaldean Patriarch Says Decision Was Taken for Safety Reasons

    BAGHDAD, DEC 10 (ZENIT-FIDES).- John Paul II has been forced to postpone his trip to Iraq again. Chaldean Patriarch Raphael I Bidawid, the highest Catholic authority in the country, said the decision was made for security reasons.

    In statements to "Fides," the religious leader explained that the pontifical trip has not been cancelled but simply postponed. "We are very saddened by this new delay in the visit, but here in Iraq the situation changes every day. In spite of this, the Pope's trip is only postponed: the Jubilee Year is long and we are only at the beginning of the millennium."

    This morning the Vatican Press Office published a statement by its director, Joaquin Navarro-Valls, explaining that "Iraqi authorities have communicated to the Secretariat of State that the abnormal conditions in which the country is living because of the embargo and the no-fly zone, as well as the situation the region is experiencing, do not make it possible to adequately organize the Holy Father's visit to Ur of the Chaledeans, in Iraq."

    The Chaldean Patriarch explained that this decision has nothing to do with the criticisms of the Pope by some Iraqi intellectuals, who accused him of scarcely mentioning the Muslims in a letter written to the Christians of the country. According to His Beatitude Raphael I, these criticisms have not had the slightest effect: "Only the West gives importance to these things; here no one has been concerned about this."

    The real reason for the new delay in the papal trip, the Patriarch said, is the fact that Iraq cannot guarantee the safety of the trip: "The Americans and British control all the air space. A few months ago they bombed an area close to Ur. What would happen if they start bombing this same areas during the Pope's visit? Or even if they don't, but some cruel person does? Without a doubt the international community would accuse Iraq. Everyone would be ready to blame our country."

    "Nor is it a question of relations between the Vatican and Iraq, either," the Catholic religious leader continued explaining. "I can say the Iraqi government and the Vatican have an optimum relation. Iraq would be honored to welcome the Pope. For all of us, Christians and Muslims, the Pope is a saintly person. We do not want to profane the visit of a holy man with an attack by a deranged person or some foreign power."

    "The Pope intensely desires this trip," Bidawid concluded. "We Iraqis all anxiously wait for him, but we shall have to hope for better times. The trip was scheduled for January, at the beginning of the Jubilee Year, but the Pope could come at the middle or end of the year." ZE99121008


Pope Writes Chinese Catholics' Patriotic Association Controlled by Party

    VATICAN CITY, DEC 10 (ZENIT).- John Paul II has made an unprecedented call for unity for the Great Jubilee of the year 2000 in a letter to Chinese Catholics belonging to the Patriotic Association -- a national church controlled by the Communist Party, which does not accept papal authority.

    The Pope's announcement caught many people by surprise: "I rejoiced when I learned that you intend your most precious gift on the occasion of the Great Jubilee to be unity among yourselves and unity with the Successor of Peter," he began.

    Archbishop Riberi, the Vatican's Inter-Nuncio in China was expelled from the country in 1951, at a time of repression of Christians by the Communist Party. Six years later, the Chinese Catholics' Patriotic Association was established in Shanghai, as an organism of the Communist Party to oppose papal primacy, considered a foreign authority and, therefore, illegitimate. In 1958 the first consecration of two "official" bishops was effected.

    At present, there are some 10 million Catholics in China. Just over half are faithful to Rome, in spite of the persecution campaign unleashed by the regime to oblige them to form part of the Patriotic Association. There are 70 "official" bishops, and 60 who belong to the Underground Church, openly faithful to Rome. However, many of the "official" bishops adhere to the Patriotic Association because otherwise they would be unable to act. In private, they admit their adherence to the Pope. In fact, during Mass, all bishops, even those working with permission from the Communist Party, pray for John Paul II. There are about 1,000 "official" priests, and about the same number of "Un-official" priests. Both the Church that is faithful to Rome, as well as the Patriotic Association, each have about 2000 nuns. There are 14 official seminaries and 10 non-official.

    Negotiations are underway at present between the Vatican and Beijing, to try to reestablish diplomatic relations, which were interrupted at the time of Archbishop Riberi. However, as a condition, Rome requires the dissolution of the Patriotic Association. This is, perhaps, the most difficult issue to resolve, as the Communist Party is opposed to the idea. Many "official" Catholics, however, have declared they are totally amenable.

    According to the international agency "Fides," even hardline bishops of the official Church in China are supporting the Jubilee celebrations. Meeting in a Synod last October, they made concrete proposals for the celebration of the year 2000. A few days ago, Bishop Fu Tieshan of Beijing, who is close to the Party, pointed out the important churches of the city as the Jubilee places where pilgrims will be able to gain the indulgence. The official Jubilee symbol can been seen in all Catholic Churches.

    What is most interesting, "Fides" explained, is that some Chinese Catholics are planning to travel to Rome for the Jubilee. "To date, these hopeful pilgrims have not received an answer from the government," the agency clarified.

    The Natang Cathedral in Beijing has opened an Internet site for the Jubilee ( in which there is information on the Church, the Jubilee, Christian art, and Catholic books that can be purchased by post.

    In his letter, John Paul II explains that this change in attitude of Catholics of the Patriotic Association does not in any way mean giving up their pride "as good Chinese and authentic Christians; you love your country and you love the Church, both local and universal."

    The Pope hopes that the Jubilee will be an opportunity to remember the Church's martyrs. "My heart overflows with wonder and gratitude to God for the generous witness given by a host of bishops, priests, men and women religious, and lay people. And it seems that the time of trial, in some places, has not yet come to an end!" ZE99121007


    MEXICO CITY (NE) The Holy Father sent a message to the International Congress "John Paul II and the Virgin of Guadalupe", that took place in the Archdiocese of Mexico from last Thursday through yesterday, urging faithful in the American Continent to spread the love and devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe. Cardinal Norberto Rivera, Archbishop of Mexico, emphasized at the beginning of the congress that the event of Guadalupe is neither something from the past, nor an object of mere historical study, but instead a daily fact, for Mary is "our evangelizer." The Mexican Cardinal stated as well that even the most critical historians where surprised by the convergence of sources that confirm the existence of Blessed Juan Diego and the appearances at the Tepeyac. "Nobody can deny," he added, "that the image of "la Morenita" is still printed, and that some aspects of its composition and conservation are an inexplicable challenge for science."

    The sanctuary's Rector affirmed in a recent interview that approximately seven millions pilgrims were expected to visit Our Lady at the Basilica during the next few days. Stressing the fact that Blessed Juan Diego is considered the main Patron saint of Mexico, the rector also reminded that on this occasion, for the first time, the feast of the Virgin of Guadalupe, will be celebrated as a solemnity in Mexico and a feast in all the American continent. It has been also informed that on the 12th, Masses were celebrated every hour in the shrine. Cardinal Norberto Rivera, Archbishop of Mexico, presided at the main celebration. Giant screens had been placed in the exterior of the Basilica to allow a greater participation of faithful.


Prayer Helps to Understand the Violence against Women during Wars

    MILAN, (ZENIT).- The quiet days of reflection and adoration in a Laveno, Italy, convent were jarred by the intrusion of cruel and senseless violence. While the Benedictine nuns of Perpetual Adoration were eating dinner, six youths boke into the hose and raped the Prioress, the youngest of the six nuns in the community.

    "They wanted money to buy drugs. But later they reacted violently, perhaps resentful of having found persons who are pure of heart," the Prioress said.

    The Laveno monastery is destined to disappear, according to the reorganization plans of the Federation of Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration to which it belongs. In spite of the terrible experience, the Mother Prioress did not want to leave the community at this time of trial, preferring to stay with her Sisters, who have been profoundly affected by what happened.

    On the contrary, she has the strength to analyze the event with a dimension of hope: "How can we fail to understand the women of Bosnia now, or those who are victims of rape during wars, who have seen their dignity trampled... I am living this painful experience with serenity, trying to resolve it in prayer."

    According to Mother Giovanna, first adviser of the Presidential Council of the Federation of Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, in speaking to the Sisters about the crime in the monastery of Laveno, she said: "We realize the commitment exacted from us by our cloistered consecration in face of the great confusion that men and women of our time are living in." She added, "We are like everyone else. The convent's grating does not protect us against the lack of values and the snares of evil. On the contrary, it make us companions on the way of wounded humanity, at this time of strong human and spiritual fragility." ZE99120905

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December 10-12, 1999 volume 10, no. 235  DAILY CATHOLIC