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June 24, 1999
SECTION TWO vol 10, no. 122
To print out entire text of Today's issue, print this section as well as SECTION ONE
Today is the Solemnity of the Birth of Saint John the Baptist while tomorrow is the Twelfth Friday in Ordinary Time. For the readings, liturgies, meditations and vignette on the Baptizer, click on DAILY LITURGY.
Thursday, June 24, 1999
First Reading: Isaiah 49: 1-6
Psalms: Psalm 139: 1-3, 13-15
Second Reading: Acts 13: 22-26
Gospel Reading: Luke 1: 57-66, 80
SOLEMNITY OF THE BIRTH OF SAINT JOHN THE BAPTIST
As the account of Luke 1: 5-80 relates, Saint John the Baptist was the son of Elizabeth and Zachariah. Elizabeth of course was the cousin of the Blessed Virgin Mary who came to help her cousin while both were pregnant. John, while in Elizabeth's womb, recognized the Divinity of the child in Mary's womb as "he leapt for joy". During this time his father Zachariah had been struck dumb because he doubted while in the temple where he beheld a vision from the Archangel Gabriel foretelling of John's role as preparing the way for the Savior. Still without voice at John's birth, the relatives and highpriests were arguing among themselves as to what this child's name should be when God gave voice back to Zachariah after he had written on a tablet for all to see: "John is his name." Indeed, as we all know, John went on to be "the voice of one crying in the wilderness. Make straight the way of the Lord." He became known as "the Baptist" or "Baptizer" because he baptized countless people, exhorting them to do penance and to amend their ways. Just as he was the precursor to Christ, his agenda was also the precursor for the Sacrament of Reconciliation which he proclaimed when he beheld Jesus at the shore of the River Jordan, "Behold the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1: 29) John was the bridge between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. In Sirach 48: 1-10 we see that he is the new Elijah. John was born in the summer when the days begin to get shorter while Jesus was born in the winter when the days begin to grow longer. This symbolism was pointed out by Saint Augustine in his writings. Because of his role in salvation, the beloved St. John the Baptist is given two feast days in the Liturgical Calendar - today and August 29th when his martyrdom by beheading is commemorated.
Friday, June 25, 1999
Froday, June 25:
Twelfth Friday in Ordinary Time
Eighteenth Anniversary of the Apparitions in Medjugorje
First Reading: Genesis 17: 1, 9-10, 15-22
Psalms: Psalm 128: 1-5
Gospel Reading: Matthew 8: 1-4
Events that happened this day in Church History
Today is the eighteenth anniversary of the first time the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared in Medjugorje. Tomorrow is the actual date of her first message for she did not speak on this day in 1981, but did so the next day to the six visionaries present, thus making the anniversary the 25th of the month, rather than the feast of Saint John the Baptist which has significance in Our Lady choosing this date to first appear to the children as one making ready the way of the Lord - her Divine Son. 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 June 24:
Birth of Saint John the Baptist, son of Elizabeth and Zachary and cousin of Jesus Who would not be born for another six months. John, who spent most of his adult life preaching in the desert, would be the one to baptize Our Lord during his first year of public ministry. See DAILY LITURGY
Pope Innocent III launches a crusade against the Albigensians and their heresy in southern France after a papal legate had been murdered a year earlier.
Founders of the Society of Jesus - Saint Ignatius Loyola and Saint Francis Xavier, along with fellow seminarians Nicholas Bobadilla, Peter Favre, Diego Laynez, Simon Rodriguez, and Alfonso Salmeron are ordained in Venice.
Birth of Juan de Yepes y Alvarez, son of a silk weaver in Spain. The young man would go on to become a Carmelite priest and be appointed spiritual director to Saint Teresa of Avila. He would join her in a massive reform movement of the Carmelite order as well as write the book "Dark Night of the Soul." He was, of course, Saint John of the Cross.
A dark day in England for Catholics as Queen Elizabeth I outlaws all Catholic services in Britain, allowing Anglicanism - the Church of England - to take a firm hold with no opposition from Rome to the detriment of loyal Catholics.
Pope Leo XIII issues the encyclical to Ireland Saepe Nos directed to the Irish bishops regarding the boycotting prevalent in the emerald isle.
Pope Paul VI issues the meaningful encyclical on celibacy and the priesthood for the world Sacerdotalis caelibatus.
The Blessed Virgin Mary appears in a vision on Podrbo - a rocky hillside in Medjugorje, in the former Yugoslavia. She did not speak on this day, but did so the next to the six visionaries present, thus making the anniversary the 25th of the month, rather than the feast of Saint John the Baptist which has significance in Our Lady choosing this date to first appear to the children as one making ready the way of the Lord - her Divine Son.
SIMPLY SHEEN: Excuses are for losers!
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but the words of Bishop Fulton J. Sheen have been known to launch a thousand images in one's mind, one of the ways this late luminary did so much to evangelize the faith. Because of the urgency of the times and because few there are today who possess the wisdom, simplicity and insight than the late Archbishop who touched millions, we are bringing you daily gems from his writings. The good bishop makes it so simple that we have dubbed this daily series: "SIMPLY SHEEN".
"There is no field in which more excuses are given than in the realm of the spiritual and the moral. Any excuse is better than none for the accepance of the word of God, which demands the pricking of the balloon of pride, and the surrender of the illegitimate revels of the flesh. That is why there has to be a Day of Judgment to send the excuses to hell and the reasons to Heaven."
WORLDWIDE NEWS & VIEWS
with a Catholic slant
Polish memories highlight Pope's Papal Wednesday Audience
The Holy Father used his regular Wednesday Papal Audience to reminisce about his two week trip home, possibly, by his own admission, the last time he'll ever set foot on homesoil. In fact, more than any recent papal audience the Pope showed emotion at recalling the many places of his childhood and the spiritual icons of his country and, as many surmise, a tinge of sadness that he most likely will never return. For more, click on Papal Audience.
POPE REFLECTS ON POLAND JOURNEY
VATICAN CITY (CWNews.com) - As is his custom after each
pastoral visit abroad, Pope John Paul II expressed his
reflections concerning his seventh and longest trip to
Poland during his Wednesday general audience in St. Peter's
In different languages, the obviously joyful Pope recalled
that this trip had been for him "a great song of praise to
God the Father," and thanked God once again for having
allowed him to go to his native land. Twenty years after
his first trip to Poland as pope, June 2-19, 1979, the Holy
Father returned to his homeland for different reasons: the
millennial anniversary of the canonization of St. Adalbert
and the institution of new dioceses, the conclusion of the
national synod and the proclamation of a new saint, Sister
Kinga, and many beatifications of martyrs of the Nazis.
In his catechesis, which was a little longer than usual,
the Pope underlined the great faith of the Poles, "greatly
supported by the devotion to the Sacred Heart and to the
Virgin Mary." His detour by Czestochowa before returning to
Rome was "a moment of great spiritual emotion," he
confessed. He desired to put into the hands of Mary his own
life and his "Petrine ministry" and to devote to her the
Church in Poland and the whole world, without forgetting to
call upon "the precious gift of peace for all humanity and
solidarity among people."
Other reasons for joy for the Pope were the
"transformations which took place in Poland these past
twenty years in the name of liberty and of solidarity." He
recalled particularly his time in Gdansk, symbolic home of
the Solidarisnosc movement. When he visited the Polish
Parliament, first of its kind, he saw the chance to pray
for "the old continent, so that it can continue to be a
light to civilization and of authentic progress,
rediscovering its spiritual roots and fully developing the
potential of its people, from the Urals to the Atlantic."
Lastly, addressing his compatriots, present in the square,
in Polish, the Pope did not fail to encourage them to
remain faithful to the moral and ethical principles which
are the basis of democracy and all political life.
Holy See and German bishops united in clarifying muddled abortion consultation centers controversy
Like a puzzled maze that the media keeps muddling, the Vatican and the body of German bishops have clarified the controversy over the abortion consultation centers and one thing certain has come out of it all: the bishops are united with the Pope in the decisions for the Holy Father is quite sensitive to the needs of the German people and young mothers, bending over backwards to provide a sense of human dignity while upholding the sanctity of life. For more, including a backgrounder on this whole situation, click on Sorting out the German controversy
CASE OF ABORTION CONSULTATION CENTERS RESOLVED
German Bishops Support Papal Decision
WUERZBURG, JUN 23 (ZENIT).- The German Bishops have responded to John
Paul II's letter, in which he requested them to take measures to avoid
any kind of ambiguity in the certificates granted by the Catholic
consultation centers for crisis pregnancies. Up to now, these
certificates have allowed women the possibility of decriminalized
abortion in established health institutions.
Unity in Supporting Papal Position
Following two days of meetings in the Bavarian monastery of Wuerzburg,
Archbishop Karl Lehmann, president of the German Episcopal Conference,
stated that the Bishops will implement the directives given in the
The Bishops' spokesman said that the Holy Father has never asked them to
close the consultation centers to help mothers in difficulty, thus
denying the constant rumors spread by the press.
The document that the Catholic consultation centers will grant, after
meeting with the mothers in difficulty, will contain the statement:
"This certificate cannot be used for carrying out decriminalized
Legality of New Certificate
In Archbishop Lehmann's official statement on the matter, he also heads
off criticism from pro-abortion groups who will likely claim that the
new certificate perverts the spirit of the law. German law, says the
Archbishop, "guarantees the Church the independent administration of its
affairs within the limits of the law that applies to all. This free
space also includes the entire scope of the Church's Caritas
organization, and thus the advising of pregnant women."
Secondly, he points out that the original reason for the consultation
law was to "protect the life of the child." German law "requires the
State to protect human life, including the unborn." In this case, Church
law and State law actually coincide, according to the Archbishop.
Arguing from these two points, Archbishop Lehmann concludes that "the
ecclesial consultation centers in the scope of the Pregnancy and Family
Health Amendments of August 21, 1995 fulfill their own task and will
continue to exercise their activity."
In order to clarify further John Paul II's position on this matter, the
Secretariat of the Vatican State published a note explaining the context
within which the Pontiff made this decision.
The text, published by L'Osservatore Romano, explains that the Holy
Father intervened because the Episcopal Conference had not come to a
common decision on the problem. "The majority of Bishops wanted a new
'plan of consultation and help,' including consultation and compromising
commitments that offer the woman support, help and mediations,
proposing, in addition, a new formulation of the consultation
certificate. However, another group of Bishops thought that this
proposal did not fully correspond with the Pope's request and opted for
a consultation that would refuse to grant a certificate according to the
Synthesis of Conciliation
The Vatican note says that in his letter the Pope "is aware of the
essential demands of both opinions within the German Episcopal
Conference and proposes a decision that will be a synthesis of
conciliation." Thus, he requests that they help the mothers in
difficulty but that at the same time they avoid any ambiguity,
explaining in the certificate itself that this document does not justify
the carrying out of decriminalized abortion.
The Vatican note clarifies that, with this decision the Pope hopes to
collaborate in the restoration of "unity of the Episcopal Conference on
this important problem" and in overcoming "the tensions which have
emerged in Catholic public opinion."
Defense of Human Life
"This clarification contributes to free the Catholic Church from a
situation which obfuscated the clarity and resolution of its testimony
in favor of the intangibility of all human life," the Secretariat of
"The letter clarifies that in regard to this problem, all controversy is
out of place. This is exclusively a commitment of love and truth in
favor of the mother and child. The only winners must be the mothers in
difficulty and the unborn children," the Vatican note concludes.
The background on the German abortion consultation centers has presented
thorny questions of law that followed this country's unification. It all began on June 29, 1995 when the
Parliament in Bonn adopted by a large majority a law on abortion seeking
a compromise between the extreme permissiveness that reigned in the
former German Democratic Republic (East Germany) and the much more
restrictive attitude of the German Federal Republic (West Germany).
Abortion was declared illegal, but it was decriminalized, on the
condition that it took place during the first three months of pregnancy
and that women would attend a consultation with psychologists, doctors
and social workers in a consultation center.
The certificate granted by the consultation center is not an
authorization to abort, although in practice it is much like a "ticket"
toward access to this intervention, which terminates the life of an
Assistance to Mothers in Difficulty
Of the 1,700 consultation centers that operate in Germany within the
framework of the law, 270 are directed by Caritas and 126 by the social
service for Catholic women. Although it criticized the new law on
abortion, the German Catholic Church considered it opportune to open its
own structures of social assistance to women in difficulty and thus
enter the system of consultation promoted by the law.
The decision was made during the Bishops' plenary assembly in the autumn
of 1995, and already at that time the Pope asked the Bishops to reflect
thoroughly on the consequences: "Be on guard lest the consultation
offered by Catholics makes you accomplices in the suppression of
The Bishops reaffirmed that in the consultation centers attempts are
made to dissuade from abortion and, in fact, in 20% of the cases, the
women have changed their mind. Work within the state system allows the
Church to get close to mothers in difficulty. However, in public
opinion, especially among Catholics, the granting of a certificate
permitting by an institution directed by the Church constituted a real
problem of conscience. Juridically it could be justified -- morally, it
remained a thorny problem.
Avoid All Ambiguity
For this reason, in January 1998, John Paul II requested the German
Bishops to take the necessary measures to avoid this ambiguity. "A
request which we welcome. We shall look for new ways," Archbishop Karl
Lehmann, President of the Episcopal Conference said.
As a result, a working group was created, which gave its results in
February of this year. The German Bishops committed themselves to offer
aid and assistance to mothers in difficulty and believed that the
solution to the ethical problem was in a new formulation of the
certificate granted by the consultation center. They produced three
possible texts, one of them stating, "The distribution of this
consultation and assistance plan in no way indicates an acceptance of
the interruption of pregnancy."
In responding to this proposal, the Pope requested, in a letter made
public yesterday, that the text of this document add an explicit
statement: "This certificate cannot be used for carrying out
ZE99062308 and ZE99062307
Traditional Palliums to be presented to thirty-seven new archbishops next Tuesday
Next Tuesday on the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, the Holy Father will bestow the traditional pallium on thirty-seven new archbishops at St. Peter's . This ritual dates back to Pope Saint Mark in 336 A.D. The Pallium is made from the wool of a previously blessed lamb and is decorated with black crosses. They are blessed on the Feast of Saint Agnes on January 21st and kept in a special silver-gift casket near the Confession of St. Peter. The Pallium represents symbolically the participation of the new archbishops in the supreme pastoral power of the Sovereign Pontiff. For more, click on Pallium.
ARCHBISHOPS PALLIUM ON FEAST OF SS. PETER AND PAUL
VATICAN CITY (CWNews.com) - Thirty-seven archbishops of 22
different countries will receive pallium from the hands of
Pope John Paul II on Tuesday, during a Mass in St. Peter's
This ritual of the bestowal of the pallium, consisting of a
broad collar made of lamb's wool and worn around the neck by
the pope and archbishops, always takes place in Rome, near
the Confession of St. Peter, on the feast day of Ss. Peter
and Paul. It is a sign of communion of new archbishops with
the Successor of Peter.
Among the 10 European prelates, in addition to the
archbishop of Turin named Saturday, Archbishop Severino
Poletto, four French archbishops will receive pallium:
Archbishop Louis-Marie Bille of Lyon, Archbishop Andre
Vingt-Trois de Tours, Archbishop Claude Feidt of
Aix-en-Provence and Archbishop Francois Saint-Macary of
Rennes. Africa will be represented by 7 new archbishops,
including three in Uganda. For Asia, there will be one
prelate from the Philippines and three from India. For the
Americas, there are two Canadians and 14 Latin American
All systems go for Mother Teresa's beatification process
The archbishop of Calcutta Archbishop Henry D'Souza, who is in charge of the beatification process for Mother Teresa, petitioned the Holy See a few days ago on behalf of the order she founded for permission to form the local tribunal which will handle the excruciating and time-consuming process that involves pouring over volumes of materials and interviewing and cross-questioning countless witnesses. It is expected the Vatican will give the green light immeidately. For more, click on Mother Teresa.
MOTHER THERESA'S BEATIFICATION PROCESS CONTINUES
ROME, JUN 23 (ZENIT).- A few days ago, the Missionaries of Charity made
a formal request for opening the diocesan process of beatification of
Mother Theresa of Calcutta. The petition was presented by Archbishop
Henry D'Souza of Calcutta. The Archbishop said the process would begin
within the next few weeks. The Archbishop pointed out that the tribunal,
which must call and hear the witnesses, has not been appointed yet.
Although, normally five years must go by after the death of a candidate
before introducing the cause of beatification, John Paul II gave a
dispensation from this norm in the case of Mother Theresa of Calcutta,
who died on September 5, 1997.
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 Daily Dispatches, Dossiers and Features from 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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June 24, 1999 volume 10, no. 122 DAILY CATHOLIC