DAILY CATHOLIC     FRIDAY - January 22 to WEDNESDAY - January 27, 1999

JOHN PAUL II RETURNS TO THE AMERICAS IN WHAT IS POSSIBLY HIS FAREWELL TOUR TO THE NEW WORLD

      EDITOR'S NOTE: We will be updating this page several times a day during the week. The following news articles are provided by CWN - Catholic World News and Noticias Eclesias CHURCH NEWS. For live up-to-date coverage of the papal trip to Mexico and the United States, visit EWTN. Continuous Spanish- language coverage is also available at Spanish Coverage.

January 28, 1999

POPE ASKS US TO END DEATH PENALTY

          ST. LOUIS (CWNews.com) -- In the last major address of his two-day stop in St. Louis, Pope John Paul II called for abolition of the death penalty, arguing that modern society has adequate means of defending the innocent without executing criminals.

          The Pope's comments-- an echo of a plea which he made in his Christmas message-- came at a time when at least 12 convicted criminals are scheduled for execution during the month of February in the United States. One convict, Darrell Mease, had been slated for execution on January 26 in Missouri, not far from the St. Louis airport where the Holy Father landed that day. That execution was postponed until February 10 in order to avoid conflict with the papal trip-- a gesture which a papal spokesman denounced as a "mockery."

          In his remarks on January 27, the final day of his fifth pastoral visit to the United States, the Pope also issued a call for those Catholics who have ceased practicing their faith to return to the Church in time to participate in the celebration of the Christian millennium. In a special message clearly aimed at Catholics who have divorced and remarried outside the Church, the Pontiff noted that it is possible to return to the faith even if it is still not possible to receive Communion.

          Before leaving St. Louis, the Pope challenged Americans to take up their duty as world leaders. "Radical changes in world politics leave America with a heightened responsibility to be fore the world an example of genuinely free, democratic, just, and humane society," he said. He added that the US should see this role as an opportunity to serve the world, rather than a matter of personal privilege.

          Referring to the great arch which towers over the city of St. Louis as a symbol of the "Gateway to the West," the Pope urged his listeners to see their city-- and their country-- as "a door opened to Christian witness" and "evangelical service" not only to the western United States but to all of the American hemisphere.

MASSIVE EUCHARIST CELEBRATION PRESIDED BY POPE JOHN PAUL II IN SAINT LOUIS

          ST. LOUIS, 28 (NE) More than 100 thousand people met at the Trans World Dome to participate in the Holy Mass presided by Pope John Paul II yesterday. It has been the largest indoor event in the history of the United States. The Holy Father urged once again Catholics in the United States to a New Evangelization, affirming as well the importance of defending life. "The New Evangelization calls for followers of Christ who are unconditionally pro-life," said the Pope, asking all people present to "proclaim, celebrate and serve the Gospel of life in every situation."

          Remembering the time that has passed since December 8 of 1698 "when the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass was offered for the first time in what is now the City of St. Louis," the Holy Father went over numerous examples of charity and of holiness of Catholics in this city's history. "Today American Catholics are seriously challenged to know and cherish this immense heritage of holiness and service. Out of that heritage you must draw inspiration and strength for the New Evangelization so urgently needed at the approach of the Third Christian Millennium," he stated.

          Among the concrete points that this New evangelization should embrace, the Pope highlighted the role of the family, "the first school of social virtue and solidarity; the role of a true protection of the life, especially against abortion, euthanasia and assisted suicide that constitute a terrible rejection of God's gift of life and love, against death penalty and against racism in all of its forms." He also added, "the New Evangelization must also bring out the truth that the Gospel of God's love for man, the Gospel of the dignity of the person and the Gospel of life are a single and indivisible Gospel," the Pope pointed out.

          Among other things, he also highlighted the importance of the Incarnation, in which "God fully reveals Himself in the Son" and in which He also "reveals the truth about man," pointing out that life is a manifestation of God's love. "From the times of the Old Testament," the Holy Father pointed out, "the nucleus of the history of salvation has been God's love and God having chosen us, and thereafter our human answer to that love."

          "Mary, Mother of Mercy," he concluded, "teach the people of St. Louis and of the United States to say yes to your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ! Mother of the Church, on the way to the Great Jubilee of the Third Millennium, be the Star which safely guides our steps to the Lord! Virgin of Nazareth, two thousand years ago you brought into the world the Incarnate Word: lead the men and women of the Millennium to the One who is the true light of the world."

MEXICAN CRIME DROPPED DURING PAPAL VISIT

          MEXICO CITY (CWNews.com) -- Police in Mexico City report that the crime rate dropped by almost 30 percent during the Pope's visit to the Mexican capital.

          "The papal events were very orderly, and we saw a drop in robberies, homicides, and crimes in general," the local attorney general reported. In preparation for the papal visit, law- enforcement officials had set up 10 special moveable courts, to handle cases quickly and without interfering with the expected traffic. As things turned out, those courts were mostly idle.

          Although more than 2 million people crowded into and around a racetrack just outside Mexico City for the largest single event of the Pope's five-day visit, police said that no crimes were reported there.

January 27, 1999

EXUBERANT POPE DELIGHTED BY MEETING WITH YOUTH

          ST. LOUIS (CWNews.com) - Invigorated by a special meeting with 20,000 youth in St. Louis' Kiel Arena, Pope John Paul II showed his famous sense of humor and unmatched connection with young people.

          The Holy Father spoke with the young people about training themselves in devotion to the Lord, comparing that to the training required in sports. He also referred to the home run fever that gripped St. Louis last summer during the record race between St. Louis Cardinals slugger Mark McGwire and the Chicago Cubs' Sammy Sosa. McGwire was on hand to greet the Pontiff, kneeling and kissing the Pope's ring as he entered the arena.

          Following the rally, the youth presented the Holy Father with a jersey of the St. Louis Blues hockey team emblazoned with the name "John Paul II" and the number one. He replied by joking that he may come back to play hockey. Then to the delight of the gathered teens, he turned his cane upside down and swung it the side as if to strike a hockey puck.

JOVIAL POPE ENCOURAGES AMERICAN YOUTH

          ST. LOUIS (CWNews.com) -- A smiling Pope John Paul II sprinkled his talk with jokes when he met with young Americans from St. Louis on Tuesday evening, but he also delivered a serious warning against violence, drug use, extra-marital sex, and suicide. The Holy Father urged the youngsters to deepen their prayer life.

          With camera flashbulbs popping all around him, in a sports facility ordinarily used for ice hockey, the Pope spent well over an hour with the young people, who responded to his message with a repeated chant: "John Paul II, we love you!"

          "Train yourselves in prayer the way you train in football," the Pope advised his audience. He then prompted a round of laughter by asking impishly, why Americans use the term "soccer" rather than "football" for the international sport. But he quickly returned to a sober tone, exhorting the young people to attend Mass every Sunday, at least. Only in prayer, he told them, would they find the deepest meaning of life.

          The Holy Father then went on to caution the young people against the temptations popularized by the "culture of death." He warned them that they should not listen to the voices that insist chastity is outdated, or accept the new laws which allow doctors to assist in suicide. Instead, he challenged the young people to open their hearts to those who are in need, or who face despair, and become witnesses to the light and truth of the Gospel.

          At the end of the meeting, the Pope drew another round of appreciative laughter and applause from the audience, after a young American presented him with a hockey stick as a gift. "Now I am equipped to play hockey," he chuckled, in a self-deprecating reference to his own frailty; "but am I really in shape for it-- that's the question!"

POPE LANDS IN ST. LOUIS, CHALLENGES US

          ST. LOUIS (CWNews.com) -- Arriving in St. Louis on Tuesday, January 26, Pope John Paul II wasted no time in calling upon US citizens to realize "the enormous impact which America has on the rest of the world," and urging action to combat "the culture of death" which is gaining strength in American society.

          Apparently in a playful mood when he reached St. Louis, the Holy Father threw organizers into a panic when he pretended to begin descending the steps of his airplane on foot-- toward the ground, where no one was waiting for him-- rather than waiting for a moveable elevator which would take him directly to the hangar, where President Bill Clinton led an official greeting party.

          The Pope's welcome in St. Louis was markedly less enthusiastic than the send-off he had received in Mexico, where thousands of people bid him a noisy farewell, some even trying to climb onto the wings of his plane for a closer glimpse.

          In his first public remarks, the Pope said that the United States is now facing a moral crisis, similar in scope to the crisis that followed the Dred Scott decision in 1856. (In the Dred Scott decision, the US Supreme Court ruled that slaves had no rights which their owners are bound to respect, just as in the 1973 Roe v Wade decision the Court found that unborn children have no rights which their mothers cannot override.) Making his message unmistakably clear, the Pope explained that today's victims are not black slaves but the unborn, the terminally ill, and the handicapped. All, he said, are now at risk because they are not protected by the rule of law.

          To combat the "culture of death," John Paul said, Americans need "a higher moral vision." He urged his American listeners to reaffirm their belief in the integrity of family life, and the essential dignity of all human life.

          After the official exchange of greetings, the Pope met privately with President Clinton for about 20 minutes. Diplomatic sources indicated that the conversation did not focus on the well-known disagreements between the Holy See and the US government, on issues such as abortion, the bombing of Iraq, and the death penalty. Nor did the Pope discuss Clinton's ongoing impeachment trial.

Articles provided through Catholic World News 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.

January 22-27, 1999      
JOHN PAUL II's FAREWELL TOUR TO THE AMERICAS

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