The synod, the leadership of the Orthodox Church in the country, said the resignation of Milosevic and his government was "in the interest of the people and their salvation." The statement added, "Every sensible person has to realize that numerous internal problems and ... the isolation of our country on the international scene, cannot be solved or overcome with this kind of government and under the present circumstances."
The synod also called for the protection of Orthodox shrines and monasteries in Kosovo following the withdrawal of Yugoslav troops from the region under the peace implementation plan. The church leaders fear that the return of ethnic Albanians and the exodus of Serbs will leave the church's holiest sites unprotected by those bent on revenge. The statement also urged Kosovo Serbs to stay in the region and "remain on their ancient homesteads and not abandon their shrines, convinced of the truth in Christ's words: 'Salvation shall come to the steadfast.'"
The synod statement in its criticism of Milosevic, however, rejected the international war crimes tribunal's indictment of Milosevic. The synod said they are "convinced that the final justice is with our Lord and not in the hands of an instrumentalized court in The Hague."
According to the Basic Law, the Territory's mini-Constitution, all children born to Hong Kong citizens have a right to residency in Hong Kong, regardless of their birthplace. In recent months, concerned by the flood of immigrants from China, government police attempted to expel dozens of children and wives of Hong Kongers. The Court of Final Appeal, however, ruled that this expulsion is unjust.
In response, the government has requested the Standing Committee of the National People's Assembly to re-interpret the Basic Law in regard to immigration. The government's decision has drawn criticism from the Territory's juridical associations because it undermines Hong Kong's judicial autonomy, guaranteed by the Basic Law, and opens a precedent for China's interference with life in the Territory.
The government's position is motivated by economic pragmatism, "Fides" believes. Although this is not confirmed, the agency estimates that 1.67 million people are now eligible for right of residency and this would cost the Special Administrative Region (SAR) an additional expenditure of $91.6 billion in ten years.
In his Pastoral Letter, Cardinal Wu recalls that in the 1950s and 1960s, Hong Kong welcomed refugees from the mainland who were fleeing from Communism. "Faced in turn today with the question of children born to Hong Kong parents in the Motherland, how can we harden our hearts, look on with indifference and lack of humanity, and use 'interpretation' to deny them hope?" The Cardinal assures the government that the Church and humanitarian organizations in Hong Kong are ready to cope with the difficulties caused by the new arrivals.
Cardinal Wu, who has been Bishop of the Territory since 1975, supports Hong Kong's judicial independence. "The present question of the right of residency belongs within the competence of Hong Kong's autonomy. Asking for a reinterpretation from the Standing Committee of the National People's Assembly cannot help but damage the foundation of the SAR's autonomy, shake the foundations of the Hong Kong family, raise doubts in people's minds about the central government's promise of 'one country, two systems with a high degree of autonomy,' and undermine the confidence of the international community towards Hong Kong."
Foreign missionaries and humanitarian organizations have sided with the Cardinal. In a letter to "Fides," Italian Father Adelio Lambertoni of PIME stated, "We would like to express our wholehearted support and gratitude to Cardinal Wu for speaking in such an uncompromising and courageous manner. His words are that much more remarkable since the Cardinal is known for his prudence and reluctance to intervene in public affairs."
In a related story, ten years after the Tiananmen Square massacre, one of the leaders of the uprising, Wang Dan, says that China has regressed even farther in political liberty.
"There is less political liberty and respect for human rights in China today than there was ten years ago," said 34 year old Wang Dan.
"On the political level, there is evident regression. In 1988, for example, when I was a student in Peking, I could move around and discuss political issues with my friends, and speak openly about the political situation," recalled the uprising's leader. "At present, however, this is forbidden. A few days ago, a friend of mine was arrested and mistreated for collecting signatures for a petition."
The petition, organized by Wang Dan, called for a revision of the "counter-revolutionary rebellion" sentence given to the '89 movement. The petition succeeded in obtaining 100,000 signatures around the world. By infiltrating the information barriers in China, it got over 1,000 signatures in Beijing.
According to Shen Tong, another exiled student leader, there is economic freedom in China, but not political. "The Chinese will live in fear until liberties become legal rights."
Wang Dan hopes that improvement in the political realm and in human rights can be achieved through Internet, which could spread the dissidents' point of view in continental China.
According to data provided by the Hong Kong Information Center on Human Rights, during the months preceding the anniversary, as a preventive measure, the Chinese police detained some 120 persons throughout the national territory and arrested 7 persons on June 3 and 4, among whom is a Protestant who wanted to go into a church in Beijing to pray for the victims. On June 4, two persons were arrested in Tiananmen Square for distributing pamphlets. The families of the 1989 victims visited their graves and lit candles at home in their memory.
On June 4, in the afternoon, 70,000 people gathered in Hong Kong's Victoria Park for a Vigil in memory of the victims. Wang Dan participated by telephone, and requested that the students who died in the name of democracy not be forgotten.
Last month the police intercepted a letter written by Zhao Zi Yang, former secretary general of the party, which has been suppressed because of its affinity to the student movement. After this, the police reinforced its vigilance over the former party official who is under house arrest. The letter made reference to the lack of democracy in the country. ZE99061402 and ZE99061504
The 147 priests represent well over 50% of all the Catholic clergy in Bangladesh and 80% of the local clergy. Graduates of Holy Spirit College include Bishop Moses Costa of Dinajpur and 8 priests who are currently on the Seminary's teaching staff. The institution's 25th anniversary was celebrated April 20 and 21; all 147 priests were present for the occasion.
Before Bangladesh's birth, seminarians were trained at Christ the King Seminary in Karachi. After a difficult struggle to find an adequate teaching staff, financial aid and a building, on August 23, 1973 the then apostolic nuncio, Archbishop Edward Cassidy (today a Cardinal and President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity), and four Bangladeshi Bishops established the Holy Spirit Seminary in Dhaka Cathedral. Two years later, the foundation stone of the present Seminary in Banani, Dhaka, was laid by the first native Bishop of Bangladesh, Archbishop Theotonius Ganguly.
The faculties of Philosophy and Theology help the students understand the challenges of the priesthood. Since its foundation, the Seminary has been a "living community of faith, hope and charity," Bishop Paulinus Costa of Rajshani said. The primary objective is to help students deepen their awareness of the ideals and challenges of the priesthood, in preparation for their own pastoral ministry. One of the most important factors is practical experience. "This the students gather by taking part in a variety of pastoral activities throughout the country," Father Gabriel Corrya, the Rector, said.
The Church in Bangladesh must be profoundly grateful to God for the role the Holy Spirit Seminary plays in the growth and development of the faith, Bishop Costa said to the international agency "Fides." On February 11, 1989, on the occasion of their "ad limina" visit, John Paul II told the Bangladeshi Bishops that he saw a source of well-founded hope for the future of the Church of Bangladesh in the national major Seminary in Dhaka. Today, the college is a mature sign and witness of the growth of the Church in Bangladesh. ZE99061403
Until now, a Roman Pontiff never prolonged an official trip, adding an unscheduled stage in another country. It is also totally unconventional for a Pope to visit a foreign state, other than Italy, without an official agenda being previously arranged. The trip to Armenia has special value for John Paul II, however. The Pontiff will enter the confines of the former Soviet Union, and come close to Moscow and the Patriarchy of All Russia, which continues to be his great hope in terms of a visit.
Catholicos Karekin I is a figure of great moral authority in Eastern Christianity. The Armenian Church has close to 4 million faithful in the world. Christianity became the State religion in Armenia in 301, anticipating the Roman Empire in this respect by almost a decade. Patriarch Karekin I is 66 years old and an energetic supporter of dialogue among the Christian Churches. In 1997 he accepted John Paul II's invitation to write the Stations of the Cross for Good Friday. Last March 25, when he came to Rome to inaugurate an exhibition on Christianity in Armenia, he invited the Pope to visit him in Armenia.
The date for that historic trip was fixed for July 2, but on June 11 Karekin I sent an envoy to Warsaw to postpone the visit. The Patriarch is now gravely ill. The Vatican fears that his successor will not be as well disposed toward the Catholic Church and ecumenism.
Meanwhile in Bucharest, the Romanian Orthodox Church's Holy Synod will meet on June 16 and 17 to decide, among other issues, the dates of Patriarch Teoctist's visit to Rome. During his visit to Bucharest, from May 7-11, John Paul II personally invited the Romanian Orthodox Patriarch. An official invitation has now been extended to the Patriarch through the offices of Cardinal Paul Poupard, President of the Pontifical Council for Culture, who is visiting the Romanian capital.
The Pope's trip to Romania, the first to a country with an Orthodox majority, has opened new horizons in the relations between the two Churches. "The Holy Father's invitation to Patriarch Teoctist of Romania to visit Rome reveals that John Paul II's trip was not just an occasion for celebration, but an opportunity to change hearts, attitudes and wills," Petros Marep told the international agency, "Fides." Marep is national director of the Pontifical Missionary Works in Romania; he was speaking exactly one month after John Paul II's visit.
In Romania, the Catholic Church is extended over 11 dioceses, six of the Latin rite and five of Eastern Rites. It has 2.5 million faithful. The Pope's visit, according to Marep, revealed a Church that is "young, and full of vigor and hope."
During the last papal event, there was a single cry from all the people: Unity. This call represents "the essence of the Holy Father's three-day visit to Romania," Marep concluded. This new youthfulness of the Catholic Church, which has overcome the trial of 40 years of Communism and follows 10 years of liberty, confirms Tertullian's affirmation -- "the blood of martyrs is the seed of Christians." ZE99061507 and ZE99061502