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MONDAY      February 15, 1999      SECTION THREE       vol 10, no. 31

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WORLDWIDE NEWS & VIEWS with a Catholic slant

provided by Catholic World News Service and Noticias Eclesiales Church News



      VATICAN ( -- Pope John Paul II received Ireland's President Mary McAleese at the Vatican on Friday. Their discussion centered on the peace process in Northern Ireland, and relations between the Catholic Church and the Protestant community there.

      Asked by the Irish president whether he had recovered from the flu that forced him to cancel appointments last week, the Holy Father responded that he was feeling well.

      That public discussion of the Pope's health-- which was conducted in English, while journalists were present-- carried a certain irony. During the previous night, a rumor had circulated in Rome that the Pope was dead. The Vatican Press Office had responded quickly to squelch the rumor.


      VATICAN ( -- In an apparent effort toward rapprochement with the government of China, Cardinal Angelo Sodano has emphasized that the papal nunciature in Taiwan is in fact the delegation to China, and that it could be transferred to Beijing immediately if Communist authorities allowed that move.

      Cardinal Sodano, the Vatican Secretary of State, raised the issue of China during discussions with Italian Prime Minister Massimo D'Alema, who will soon be visiting Beijing. His statement appeared to be an indirect response to a public statement by the Chinese foreign minister, Zhang Qiye, who had said that the Holy See must break off diplomatic relations with Taiwan "if it wishes to improve relations with Beijing."

      Cardinal Sodano recalled that the papal nunciature in China was once stationed in Beijing, but moved to Nanking, then to Hong Kong, and finally to Taipei as it was forced out by the Communists who took power in 1949. The delegation now stationed in Taiwan is therefore intended to represent the Holy See to all of China, he concluded, and it would not be necessary to break off relations with Taiwan in order to move the nunciature back to Beijing.

      The informal diplomatic exchanges between the Holy See and Beijing come at a time when the Vatican clearly hopes to improve relations with the Chinese government, and thus to ease the plight of the loyal Catholics who now worship in the underground Catholic Church. The Chinese government authorizes Catholics to worship only in the state-controlled Patriotic Catholic Church, which rejects ties with Rome.

      Relations between Rome and Beijing could be newly tested in the near future, because Hong Kong has been suggested as one potential site that Pope John Paul II might visit in order to promulgate the apostolic exhortation concluding the work of the Asian Synod.


      SAN JOSE, Costa Rica ( ) - Archbishop Roman Arrieta Villalobos of San Jose, who had been sued by a homosexual group for discrimination, had the lawsuit dismissed this week.

      Last year, the pro-homosexual group "Pink Triangle" called off a planned "Gay Festival" after Archbishop Arrieta said, "such a public display of immoral conduct is an offense to the rest of society." The group sued the Archbishop alleging he violated the anti-discrimination law, which says that no person can be rejected for reasons of race, nationality, sex, or disability.

      Early this week, Judge Cristiana Vargas ruled that the accusation presented by "Pink Triangle" was "unfounded" since "The Prelate only limited himself to expressing the opinion of the Church he represents." The judge added, "Arrieta's statements do not violate article 48 of the general law since in no occasion he implied, suggested, or practiced any discriminatory measure against somebody for their sexual orientation."

      After the hearing, Archbishop Arrieta said: "I have always expressed the plain and simple teachings of the Catholic Church regarding homosexual persons, which is at the same time very compassionate but clear regarding the perversity of homosexual activities." He added, "I reaffirm what I said last year which is consistent with God's plan, which created us male and female as it is clear in the book of Genesis."

      On the same subject, the Vatican has issued a terse "no comment" in response to questions about a newly published book which alleges that the slain Swiss Guard Col. Alois Estermann was linked in a homosexual relationship with the man who killed him.

      Journalist Massimo Lacchei is the author of a new series of essays on issues related to homosexuality. In one such essay, he claims to have encountered Col. Estermann with Corporal Cedric Tornay at a homosexual party, and theorizes that Tornay finally shot and killed Estermann and his wife in a passion of jealousy.

      Lacchei produces no evidence to back his claims, and most journalists who have probed the Swiss Guard killing are highly suspicious of his story. A thorough Vatican investigation of the murders uncovered no indication of any illicit affair-- of an any other motive for the killings beyond Tornay's apparent emotional problems.


      WASHINGTON, DC ( - The pro-life group Why Life? on Thursday welcomed a study by a doctors' group that an "abstinence-only" message is the only effective safeguard against teen pregnancy, abortion, and sexually-transmitted disease.

      The Consortium of State Physicians Resource Council presented a report this week that showed "the safe sex approach to teen sexuality is a failure and not at all safe," according to a consortium spokesman. "Finally! A physicians' group has publicly acknowledged the fact that the 'safe sex' message is an absolute failure," said Mark DeYoung of Why Life? "Our political leaders should take heed, and take 'safe sex' education out of our schools."

      The study also found that use of condoms did not reduce teenage pregnancy and that a reported decline in teen birth rates is due to an increase in abstinence among adolescents.

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. Both CWN and NE are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provides this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.


     In preparation for Lent, we present a site that goes by the motto "Traditional Music...for the Contemporary Church." Even though it is a commercial site selling music, it provides articles and information on the Liturgy for Lent that is quite helpful. Therefore we present CANTICANOVA PUBLICATIONS which has available some of the more traditional hymns for the Lenten season and one can surely find edifying liturgical planning at this site.

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February 15, 1999 volume 10, no. 31   DAILY CATHOLIC