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THURSDAY      February 18, 1999      SECTION TWO       vol 10, no. 34

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


Daily Dose of curious contents of the Church:

Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity


     Today is the second day of Lent, observed in the Lenten liturgy as a Lenten Weekday as is tomorrow. Today is also the optional Feast of the Lourdes visionary and religious, Saint Bernadette Soubirous whose body remains incorrupt to this day. For the readings, liturgies, meditations and vignette on St. Bernadette, click on DAILY LITURGY.

Thursday, February 18, 1999

Optional Feast of Saint Bernadette Soubirous

Friday, February 19, 1999


      Tomorrow we will conclude the special Prayer for the Beginning of Lent for today, though Lent supercedes the feast, we remember the visionary of Lourdes Saint Bernadette Soubirous, Virgin and Religious with a special prayer from My Daily Prayer:

O God, guardian and lover of the lowly, Whose handmaid Sister Mary Bernadette was permitted visions of the Immaculate Virgin Mary, with whom she conversed; grant, we beseech Thee, that we, following the pathway of a trusting faith, may at last be brought to Thee in the celestial vision. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.

Events that happened this day in Church History

      On this date in 1564, that celebrated master Michelangelo Buonarotti died. Age and arthritis that crippled him so badly from the many, many years of molding, chipping granite and marble, and lying prone painting the Sistine Chapel under extreme weather conditions and pressures, finally took their toll. He is remembered as the greatest of all Renaissance painters and the greatest contributor of artistic treasures for the Vatican. He often remarked that he did not have time to get down on his knees because they hurt so much, but that every brush stroke, every fold in his sculptures was a prayer. For other pertinent events throughout the centuries that are memorable in Church history today, click on MILLENNIUM MILESTONES AND MEMORIES

Historical Events in Church Annals for February 18:

with a Catholic slant

provided by
Catholic World News Service
and Noticias Eclesiales Church News



      VATICAN ( -- Pope John Paul II has indicated a desire to make a pilgrimage to the shrine of Our Lady of Fatima this year, although no date has been set.

      Bishop Serafim de Sousa Ferreira e Silva of Fatima has disclosed that he invited the Holy Father to visit on May 13-- the date of the first apparition by the Virgin Mary to the children at Fatima. The invitation was signed by most of the bishops of Portugal.

      While the Pope accepted the invitation in principle, the date of his visit has not been fixed. In addition to May 13, the Vatican is also considering dates in August and October-- times when thousands of pilgrims annually flock to the Marian shrine.

      There are several reasons for the Pope's interest in visiting Fatima this year, on what would be his third pilgrimage to the shrine. He may use the occasion to consecrate the 21st century to the Virgin Mary-- making that consecration at a shrine which has been particularly dear to him. Or-- since the message of Fatima carries special importance for Russia-- he may reiterate his desire for closer ties between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox world.

      Finally, it is possible that the visit could coincide with an announcement about the cause for beatification of Jacinta and Francisco, two of the three children to whom the Virgin appeared at Fatima. A committee of physicians working with the Congregation for the Causes of Saints recently examined the case of a woman who was cured after making a novena to Jacinta and Francisco; the doctors found no medical explanation for the cure. A committee of theologians will now be appointed to determine whether or not the case qualifies as a miracle.

      Pope John Paul has consistently said that he credits the Virgin of Fatima for his survival of the assassination attempt which took place on May 13, 1981. His last visit to Fatima was in May 1991, at which time he made a public expression of thanks to the Virgin for guarding his life.


      HAVANA ( - Cuban President Fidel Castro met with bishops from across the Americas on Tuesday, just after the bishops called for an end to the 36-year-old US embargo of the country.

      The bishops of the Latin American Episcopal Conference (CELAM), as well as delegates from the US and Canadian bishops' conferences, were gathered for the first time in Havana this week for their annual meeting to discuss implementing Pope John Paul's call for a new evangelization for the Americas and the state of the Church in Cuba. On Tuesday, the bishops said they hoped for improved relations between Cuba and the US. "It has always been the position of the bishops of the United States ... to seek the lessening and even the ending of the embargo," said Archbishop Theodore McCarrick of Newark, New Jersey.

      The bishops added that they were encouraged by changes implemented by President Bill Clinton in January that would allow more Americans to send money to Cubans, begin direct mail service, and expand charter flights. "We hope they are just the beginning of more substantial changes," Archbishop McCarrick said.

      At the conclusion of the Inter-American Meeting of Bishops, several bishops committed to providing material and pastoral help for the growing Church in Cuba, subject to the approval of the Cuban Communist government.

      After the closing Mass, held on Tuesday, Cardinal Lucas Moreira Neves, Prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for Bishops and President of the Pontifical Council for Latin America, said: "There will be an effort to send Latin American priests and missionaries to strengthen the work of evangelization in Cuba." Honduran Archbishop Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, President of the Latin American Bishops' Council added: "We have listened to the positive steps made by the Church in Cuba after the Pope's visit and we have realized that there are great needs."

      Archbishop Rodriguez said that the Church in the US and Canada, as well as several Latin American episcopates, have committed material help against "the lack of proper places to celebrate Mass, to preach the Gospel, and to promote humanitarian activities." He added, "Of course, this help will be available in Cuba if the government decides to introduce some changes in the law." In 1987, the Cuban government allowed several foreign missionaries to enter the country, but current law still bans them. In addition, no religion may begin restoration work or build new churches.

      Archbishop Rodriguez said that the Church hopes not only for approval for the construction of new churches but "also the re-dedication of churches that at present are used as public offices or warehouses."

      Noticias Eclesias' Church News also reported that Cuban Cardinal Jaime Ortega expressed his concern yesterday for the new measures implied in the bill of defense of economy and Cuban independence, being currently in discussion. The bill establishes diverse punishments for people accused of affecting "the fundamental, political, or economical interests" of Cuba.

      On the other hand, the Archbishop of Havana manifested his rejection to capital punishment, one of the penalties contemplated in Cuban legislation and which is being considered to increase in use. "Yesterday much was discussed about common crime and I was following all that referred to the different penalties, such as life imprisonment, capital punishment, and you already know what our position is regarding those penalties. Capital punishment is always a tragic resource that the Church rejects in its doctrine," he pointed out.

      Cardinal Ortega affirmed that such penalty is not a way of solving any problems. "Maybe the problem goes beyond that. It lays in the values, it lays in education, in the family, it lays in many things that must be improved in order to avoid any human being walking in the wrong path," he added.


      WASHINGTON, DC ( - Cable News Network founder Ted Turner addressed the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association (NFPRHA) on Tuesday, peppering his remarks with insults and jokes about Pope John Paul II and the Ten Commandments -- to the applause and laughter of the audience -- as well as a call for an international "one-child" policy.

      Turner, now a vice-president of Time-Warner, Inc., was awarded the group's President's Award for his support of the United Nations Populations Fund. Last year, the billionaire and his wife, Jane Fonda, gave $1 billion to UN for population control programs.

      Turner said that while he is the father of five children, he fathered most of them before he was 30 when he didn't know any better. He added, "Once they were here, I couldn't shoot them." He said now he believes an ideal world population would be 2 billion -- it is now 5.9 billion. "We could do it in a very humane way if everybody adopted a one-child policy for 100 years," he said.

      In other remarks, Turner said the Ten Commandments are outdated and said, "If you're going to have 10 rules, I don't know if adultery should be one of them." When asked what he would say to Pope John Paul, he responded with an ethnic joke -- "Ever seen a Polish mine detector?" -- and suggested the Holy Father should "get with it. Welcome to the 20th century."


      VATICAN ( -- The family of Col. Alois Estermann, the Swiss Guard commander who was killed last year, has called for an end to "infamous calumnies" published in the Italian press.

      Since the formal conclusion of a Vatican inquiry into the deaths of Col. Estermann and his wife, Gladys Meza Romero, several Italian newspapers have published stories-- based entirely on speculation-- alleging that the Vatican covered up evidence of drug abuse, espionage, or homosexual affairs involved in the Swiss Guard killing. The Vatican inquiry-- conducted with help from Italian and Swiss police investigators-- found no evidence to support those rumors.

      In a statement issued today through the Vatican press office, the Estermann family-- joined by the Meza Romero family-- expresses confidence in the results of the Vatican investigation. The families indicate that they can forgive the man who apparently killed their loved ones: Corporal Cedric Tornay. But they have difficulty understanding the "unscrupulous" journalists who concoct "absurd and injurious" theories to dishonor the memory of those who died.

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 honor of today's Optional Feast of Saint Bernadette Soubirous, visionary of Lourdes we present the site for Medjugorje, an extension of what Our Lady imparted in France and a confirmation of her continuing messages from Rue de Bac on. The site is MEDJUGORJE WEB, an excellent site to find out everything you need to know about the phenomena that has been occurring in this mountain village of Bosnia-Herzegovina for the past eighteen years. This site is also a past recipient of our Golden Chalice Award.

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February 18, 1999 volume 10, no. 34   DAILY CATHOLIC