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WEDNESDAY      December 15, 1999     SECTION THREE      vol 10, no. 238

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

WORLDWIDE NEWS & VIEWS with a Catholic slant



Cardinal Sodano Welcomed by Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II

    MOSCOW, DEC 13 (ZENIT).- Yesterday, Moscow was the scene of great joy on the occasion of the re-consecration of the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, which was also raised to the rank of Cathedral. The temple had been confiscated by Soviet authorities in 1935 and turned into a factory. Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican Secretary of State and John Paul II's special envoy to the ceremony, concelebrated Mass with Cardinals Franciszek Macharski of Krakow, Georg Sterzinski of Berlin, and Adam Maida of Detroit, as well as Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz, Apostolic Administrator of European Russia, and other bishops and priests.

    This Church was returned to Catholics by the Russian government four years ago. Restoration work was done by firms from various countries, including Poland, the United States, Bielorussia, and the Ukraine, while sculptural compositions were made by a Moscow artist. The interior decorations are still incomplete, but are hoped to be finished this spring. Masses will be celebrated both in Polish and in Russian at the new Cathedral.

    At the end of the homily, Cardinal Sodano said that on the door of the new Cathedral a sign should be inscribed, akin to what he saw in a small Italian mountain chapel: "One enters here to love God, and leaves here to love one's brothers."

    An unexpectedly large group of faithful gathered in the church, beginning in the early morning, transforming the event into the most impressive celebration in the long history of Catholics' presence in Russia. Among the more than 100 concelebrants were the first three Russian priests ordained in St. Petersburg this year.

    With the reopening of this church, there are now two active Catholic churches in Moscow. The second, St. Louis of the French, built in 1827, was not closed down but controlled at close range by the Soviet regime. It is a small church in which as many has ten Sunday Masses may be celebrated in different languages, Fr. Le Leannec explained. There is a third Catholic church in the Russian capital, dedicated to SS Peter and Paul, but it is in a terrible state, as it was also confiscated by the Soviet regime in 1938. Indeed, the faithful are askng that another parish be opened, in a small place, because otherwise it is very difficult for Catholics who are spread around this metropolis, to find a place of worship.

    This morning Cardinal Sodano was received by Alexy II, Patriarch of Moscow and head of the Russian Orthodox Church; they spoke about the joint celebrations between Catholics and Orthodox during the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000. ZE99121310


    VATICAN ( -- Pope John Paul II may travel to Jordan at the end of March 2000, in conjunction with his pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

    While a papal visit to Jordan has frequently been mentioned as a possibility, sources in the Vatican indicate that firm plans for that visit have now emerged. In fact, news agencies in Jordan itself have already announced the impending papal visit as an established fact; the Vatican itself has not made any official announcement.

    Father Robert Tucci, the Jesuit priest who usually organizes the details of papal travel, arrived in Amman, Jordan, on December 13-- apparently to work out the logistics for the papal visit.

    Jordan's King Hussein, who died last year, had issued an invitation for the Pope to visit his country. That invitation was renewed by Hussein's son, King Abdallah, on a September visit to the papal summer residence at Castel Gandalfo.

    The schedule for the Pope's trip to the Holy Land already includes plans for stops at Bethlehem, Jerusalem, and Nazareth. The Holy Father has indicated a desire to celebrate the feast of the Annunciation, March 25, in Nazareth-- although tensions surrounding the construction of a mosque in that town have provoked some uncertainty about those plans.

    During a stop in Jordan, the Pope could fulfill his ambition to make a pilgrimage to Mount Nebo-- about 25 miles from Amman-- where Moses died after having caught a glimpse of the Promised Land. He might also make a helicopter trip to Mount Mukawer, where St. John the Baptist was imprisoned and finally beheaded. Diplomatic sources indicate that a formal visit to the Jordanian royal palace is also contemplated.


    NEW DELHI ( - Six nuns of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Cluny were killed in their sleep early Monday morning when the convent they were sleeping in collapsed in southern Tamil Nadu state.

    The roof of the century-old two-story convent caved in under torrential rains killing six nuns sleeping on the first floor. One nun was pulled from the debris by locals who rushed to the spot at 1:30 am after hearing the deafening noise of the building collapse at Cheyyur in Madras-Mylapore diocese.

    The victims included the principals of the primary and high schools of the Little Flower High School housed on the campus of the ill-fated building. The deceased nuns were Sister Rose Caritas, 58, principal of the primary school, Sister Amalarani, 45, principal of the high school, Sister Alfred, 52, Sister Maria Therese, 45, Sister Fathima, 26, and Sister Gabrelle, 47. Four other nuns sleeping in a nearby building escaped unhurt.

    The nuns were buried Tuesday morning after a poignant funeral service led by Archbishop Arul Dass James of Madras Mylapore and two other bishops.


    JAKARTA ( - Indonesia's foreign minister said on Tuesday that when he meets with Pope John Paul II later this week he will discuss religious violence in his country between Muslims and Christians.

    "We want to reassure the Vatican that religious conflicts are not part of the Indonesian way of life," said Alwi Shihab, a Muslim scholar now part of the new reformist government. Indonesia is the most populous Muslim nation in the world with enclaves of Christian majority communities scattered throughout the archipelago country.

    While the country's constitution guarantees religious freedom, but Christians have been regularly targeted over the past two years, being blamed for political and economic turmoil. More than 700 people have been killed this year in clashes between Muslim and Christian gangs in Maluku province, also known as the Spice Islands, about 1,500 miles east of Jakarta.

    The Vatican has expressed concern about hundreds of church burnings across Indonesia in recent years. The Holy Father also has condemned a wave of killings and destruction in East Timor by militia groups backed by Indonesia's military last September following a vote by Timorese for full independence from Indonesia.

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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December 15, 1999 volume 10, no. 238  DAILY CATHOLIC