After talking with the Pope, Annan also met with Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican Secretary of State, and Archbishop Jean-Louis Tauran, Secretary for Relations with the States.
According to a U.N. spokesman, the objective of the secretary general's visit to Rome was "to construct peaceful alternatives to the conflict and create conditions for coexistence respecting the civil, political and human rights of everyone."
Kofi Annan described his meeting with the Pope as "an important opportunity to exchange points of view on the moral and political issues underlying the Kosovo crisis."
The Holy See insisted that the United Nations assume its responsibility in the process of pacification, which today took a great step forward with Belgrade's approval of a plan proposed by Finnish president, Martti Ahtisaari, European Union mediator for Kosovo and his Russian colleague, Victor Chernomirdin.
In an official communiqué, Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said that John Paul II "has renewed his appreciation for the U.N.'s role at the heart of the International Community and expressed the hope that it will continue and increase in taking the initiative in preventing conflicts."
"After recalling the role that Christians can play in respect for human rights and education for peace, the Holy Father mentioned the Holy See's position toward the current conflict, emphasizing the need for the end of hostilities to be accompanied by the simultaneous return of the refugees to the Kosovo region under the aegis of the United Nations and with the support of an international peace-keeping force accepted by all those involved," concluded the press release.. ZE99060306
A small piece of stained pale cloth kept in this tiny village has long been regarded as a sacred icon with wondrous properties by Father Germano, head of its Capuchin monastery. Fr Pfeiffer, official advisor for the Papal Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Church, concurs. "Yes, I am firmly convinced of it, that this is the famous relic," he told reporters in a press conference Monday.
The story of Veronica and her veil does not, in fact, occur in the Bible, though the apocryphal "Acts of Pilate" gives this name to the woman with a blood flow who was cured by touching the hem of Jesus' cloak. Critics of the incidents historicity point to the very name of the saint: "Veronica" is a combination of Latin and Greek words meaning "true image." Nonetheless, the story has been a part of popular Christian culture for centuries, including a brief scene in Zefferelli's "Jesus of Nazareth."
The almost transparent veil measures about 6.5 x 9.5 inches and bears dark red features of a bearded man with long hair and open eyes. The legend holds that Jesus rewarded Veronica's charity in wiping the sweat from his brow by imprinting his image into the cloth. The image on the Monoppello cloth becomes invisible depending on the angle from which the cloth is viewed.
"The fact that the face appears and disappears according to where the light comes from was considered a miracle in itself in medieval times," noted Pfeiffer. "There are few such objects in history. This is not a painting. We don't know what the material is that shapes the image, but it is the color of blood."
Ultraviolet examinations of the cloth, carried out by Prof. Donato Vittore of the University of Bari, confirm that the image is not paint. Particularly noteworthy are several small flecks of reddish brown -- presumably drops of blood from the wounds caused by the crown of thorns.
Enlarged digital photographs of the veil reveal that the image is identical on both sides of the cloth -- a feat impossible to achieve by ancient techniques. These photographs have also been used to compare the veil with the face on the Shroud of Turin, which millions of Christians believe to be Jesus' burial sheet. Striking similarities were apparent: the faces are the same shape, both have shoulder-length hair with a tuft on the forehead, and the beards match.
History records the existence of this relic from the fourth century, but only from the Middle Ages was it strongly linked to the Passion of Christ. From the 12th century until 1608, it was kept in the Vatican Basilica as a popular goal of pilgrims, mentioned in Canto XXXI of Dante's "Paradise." When the part of the Basilica containing the relic was scheduled to be torn down for remodeling, the relic disappeared overnight.
According to records in the monastery, the wife of a soldier sold the veil to a nobleman of Monoppello in 1608 to get her husband out of jail. The nobleman, it turn, donated it to the Capuchins. In 1618, it was placed in a walnut frame adorned in silver and gold between two sheets of glass. It remained in the monastery every since. Fr. Pfeiffer invested 13 years of searching through archives to prove that this is the same cloth that disappeared in 1608.
Despite the evidence, Fr. Pfeiffer's find has yet to win over the skeptics. Keith Ward, Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford, said, "The Gregorian University is quite respectable, but I think the claim about the veil is totally absurd. Almost everybody accepts that it is legend. I'd put it on the same level as seeing the face of Mohammed in a potato."
Cambridge Professor of Divinity Lionel Wickham was somewhat more positive. "Pfeiffer may have found an object that was venerated in the Middle Ages -- I wouldn't discount that. But whether it dates back to early events is another matter."
To conclusively prove the origin of the cloth, scientific tests will be necessary. However, these could easily destroy the small and delicate cloth without solving the mystery, much as the negative Carbon-14 tests have failed to conclusively disprove the authenticity of Shroud of Turin. ZE99060321
Brian Muha, 18, a Franciscan University of Steubenville sophomore from Columbus, Ohio, and Aaron Land, 20, a junior from Philadelphia, were found to be missing on Memorial Day after someone broke into their off-campus apartment. A roommate of the two men said he heard crashing noises in the house and leaped out his bedroom window. He then came in an outside door, saw a strange man in the living room, and ran to a neighbor's house to call police.
Police said they found blood at the scene and two bullet shells. Two teenage boys, a 19-year-old and a 16-year-old, were later apprehended driving a Chevy Blazer belonging to Muha. A third 18-year-old suspect was later apprehended.
Police said they found blood inside and on the outside of the Blazer when they stopped it in nearby Burgettstown, Pennsylvania. "The indication was that the car was pulled alongside a road and the alleged victims were taken up an embankment and shot two to four times in a wooded area," said Jefferson County, Ohio, Prosecutor Daniel Stern. So far charges of aggravated burglary, kidnapping, and aggravated robbery are expected to be brought, although Stern said the case is still open and other charges could be brought.
More than 400 students, faculty, university employees, and area residents have attended prayer vigils at the school since the two men disappeared. A spokesman said the whole university community had turned out in support of the victims and their families. "The natural inclination is to want to do something, anything. But all we can do now is pray and wait," she said. She added that university chancellor Father Michael Scanlan had met with the families and offered them whatever help he could offer.
Gary Cherone of Van Halen addressed his open letter to Eddie Vedder, the lead singer of Pearl Jam, writing about women's rights and the beginning of life. "Can there be only one true line of demarcation? One finite, measurable point in time that differentiates life from non-life? Womanhood from non-womanhood? Rights from no rights?" Cherone wrote. "Is it the moment of conception -- that point when all of the above is set into motion? That moment when a separate human individual with her own genetic code, needing only food, water and oxygen, comes into existence? Indeed it is that point..."
Rock for Life said musicians like Cherone are a voice for unborn children. "Many musicians have used their talent, money, and fame to raise money for the abortion industry," said Bryan Kemper, national director of Rock For Life. "Thousands of babies have died, thanks to efforts of bands like Pearl Jam and R.E.M. It's about time someone like Gary stood up for the rights of these babies."
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In the time of the Counter-Reformation, the processions for this feast day were seen a sign of the power and majesty of the Catholic Church against the Protestants. The processions continue today in many parts of the world, but with a less "aggressive" tone. The Bishop's office in Munich describes the procession as "a living confession of faith."
While attendance at Corpus Christi processions died down considerably, John Paul II has been an avid promoter of the practice, which is gaining popularity around the world.
Ten thousand participants participated this year in the Bavarian capital of Munich, where the celebration takes place in the morning. In Rome, the Holy Father lead 30,000 faithful from the Plaza of St. John Lateran to the Plaza of St. Mary Major this evening. In Spain, the processions are very elaborate, often including various persons in costumes, such as "El Colacho" in Burgos. According to some, "El Colacho" represents the devil; this character flees at the sight of the Eucharist.
In Munich, the Bishop has asked the inner-city parishes not to hold individual processions on the day of Corpus Christi (which is a holiday in Bavaria), so that the central procession will be even larger. Most of these parishes have planned a local procession later in the week.
These processions have also proven to be popular with the youth. Philip Huber, one of the organizers in Munich, noted that "Seen from outside, such a procession is certainly arch-Catholic." However, this doesn't scare the youth away, he says, because "Exactly this 'dusty' touch makes it mystical." (source: ZENIT, 6-3-99 #ZE99060320).