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TUESDAY      May 18, 1999      SECTION THREE       vol 10, no. 96

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

Events Today in Church History

      On this date two Popes named John passed away and the difference is like night and day. The first of course is today's saint, Pope Saint John I in 526 while the second is Pope John XII a rascal from the mold of Pope Alexander VI who died on this date 438 years later in 964. 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 May 18:

WORLDWIDE NEWS & VIEWS with a Catholic slant

provided by Catholic World News Service
and Noticias Eclesiales Church News and ZENIT International News Agency



      Vatican City, 17 (NE) Under the theme "Reconciliation in charity," the meeting between Pope John Paul II and 40 thousand Catholic volunteers of diverse associations of charity at a world-wide level took place yesterday at Saint Peter's Square. The event took place one day after concluding the work sessions of the World Charity Congress, held this week in Rome organized by the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum," Vatican council presided by Archbishop Paul Josef Cordes.

      The center of the event was the Mass celebrated by the Holy Father. Before this, volunteers of diverse parts of the world gave their testimonies. Sister Nirmala, Mother Teresa's successor at the head of the Missionaries of Charity, also gave her testimony of living charity through the evangelizing service to the poor among the poor.

      During the homily, the Holy Father pointed out the efforts of the volunteers of charity of the whole world, of "loving and reaching out towards man, in whose face shines that of the creator." He also reminded those present that charitable activity can not reduced to "a mere material support and assistance, as if it were a mere philanthropic activity," but rather must become a "proclamation and witness of Christ that gives his life" and heals man's heart.

      "The Church today celebrates the World Day of Social Communications," reminded yesterday Pope John Paul II after the prayer of the "Regina Coeli" together with thousand of pilgrims gathered at Saint Peter's Square. The Pope gave a cordial greeting to all those that work in the world of mass media, inviting them to make the social communications media to "always constitute a friendly presence next to the men and women of our time, helping them in their search for God, good and truth.

      In fact, the Holy Father's message for this occasion carries the title "Mass Media: a Friendly Companion for Those in Search of the Father." As that message recalls, "the theme implies an invitation and a hope: that those responsible for the world of social communications will be ever more committed to help rather than hinder the search for meaning which is at the very heart of human life."

      "The topic recognizes the exceptional influence of the media in contemporary culture, and therefore the media's special responsibility to witness to the truth about life, about human dignity, about the true meaning of our freedom and mutual interdependence."

      Highlighting how facing the advances of technology "we are in a time of threats and promises," the Pope's message urges us to look "with great hope upon the new millennium" and work intensely so that "the power of the media may not be a destructive force but rather a creative love, a love that reflects the love of God 'that is everyone's Father, that is above all, penetrates everything and is in everyone.'"


      BENTONVILLE, Arkansas ( - The Wal-Mart department store chain, the largest retailer in the US, announced last week that it will not sell so-called "emergency contraceptives" through its pharmacy departments nationwide.

      The announcement was both hailed and blasted by pro-life and pro-abortion groups, while Wal-Mart attempted to deflect any connection to the controversial issue by insisting that decision was made for purely market reasons. "We're not going to carry anything that we feel will offend our customers, but that was not the judgment in this case," said Wal-Mart spokesman Jay Allen.

      The American Life League commended Wal-Mart for the decision and reiterated that "emergency contraceptives," such as the drug Preven actually causes abortion after conception rather than prevent conception in the first place. But ALL president Judie Brown said Wal-Mart still sells other abortifacient products. "And Wal-Mart has been known not to respect the conscientious concern of those pharmacists who refuse to fill prescriptions for abortifacients masquerading as 'contraceptives.' Pharmacists have been reprimanded and forced out because of their beliefs and consciences," she said.

      Gloria Feldt, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, slammed Wal-Mart's decision. "They will come to understand that this decision is misguided," she said, "Pharmacies have a moral obligation to provide health care to women, and frankly, emergency contraception prevents unintended pregnancies," she added despite pro-lifers claims that the drugs actually cause abortions.


      VATICAN ( -- The key to peace in the Balkans rests in the hands of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, who "must formally accept the entry of international troops into Kosovo." That is the opinion of Archbishop Franc Perko of Belgrade, the president of the Yugoslavian bishops' conference.

      In an interview published in the Italian daily Il Giornale, Archbishop Perko said that troops should be brought in as soon as possible, preferably under UN leadership. He also said that the troops should be drawn not only from NATO nations but also from other countries, perhaps including countries where the Orthodox faith is dominant.

      For Milosevic, accepting such intervention would be a "historic" move, the archbishop said. However, if the announcement could be engineered to avoid "humiliation," he believed that the Serbian leader might be able to claim a sort of victory-- particularly if the peacekeeping troops make a point of disarming Kosovo rebels.

      Archbishop Perko-- who is suffering from cancer, and is expected to relinquish his post as soon as the war end-- said that he is pessimistic about the prospects for peace in the Balkans without international intervention. At the same time, he continues to believe that the NATO bombing campaign has been an error. "I have condemned the air strikes, and I want to see them ended," the archbishop said. He argued that the bombing has stiffened the resolve of the Serbian political leadership, and caused the population to rally to the support of Milosevic.


      VATICAN ( -- The Holy See is actively studying possible destinations for a papal trip to Asia later this year, during which he would promulgate the apostolic exhortation formally concluding the Synod of Asia, which convened in Rome from April 19 to May 14, 1998.

      That discussion formed a backdrop for a meeting on May 17 between Pope John Paul II and Vasco Joachim Rocha Vieira, the governor of Macao. Macao, which has been a Portuguese colony for 442 years, will be handed over to Chinese authority in December 1999. That prospect is causing real fears among the 440,000 residents, of whom 22,000 are Catholics.

      On December 19, 1998-- exactly one year his government cedes its power to Chinese control-- Governor Vieira visited Rome to invite the Pope to visit Macao. Some Vatican officials reportedly gave a warm reception to that idea, believing that Macao would be an appropriate venue for the papal visit and the promulgation of the exhortation based on the Asian Synod. A visit to Macao would have considerable symbolic value, since the island was the base of operations for the missionaries who brought the faith to China and Japan four centuries ago. On the other hand, diplomatic officials wondered whether a papal visit-- undertaken at a time when Macao is still a colony-- would affront the Chinese government, at a time when the Holy See is working to gain some rapport with the rulers in Beijing.

      China would also be an attractive site for the papal visit, since it is by far the most populous country in Asia (or, for that matter, in the world). But political tensions between Rome and the Communist regime make it highly unlikely that China would be selected. Similar political difficulties also weigh against a choice of Vietnam-- the most heavily Catholic country on the Asian mainland-- although in recent weeks there have been some signs of improvement in relations between Rome and Hanoi.

      Another possible destination would be India. During the Synod discussions, many bishops recommended a papal voyage to India, with Calcutta and New Delhi mentioned as specific possibilities. The episodes of Hindu violence against Christians might prompt some concerns about security during a papal trip. On the other hand, such a visit would give the Pontiff an opportunity to pay homage to Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

      The Holy See is also working to arrange a trip by Pope John Paul to Iraq. The main obstacles to such a voyage stem from the strong opposition by American diplomats.

      The Pope's trip to Asia, and the promulgation of the apostolic exhortation, is likely to take place in the autumn. Some sources in Rome have pointed to an October date; others say a November trip is more likely.

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 the features, dossiers and Daily Dispatches at 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.


   Today we present a site that could be helpful to many parish priests and edify the laity as well. It is called THE CATHOLIC DOORS and is maintained by Father Maurice Levesque out of Sasketoon, Canada. He makes numerous homilies for Sundays and Holy Days available to anyone as long as they are not used for commercial purposes or to solicit funds. It's fun just to read them and enjoy the inspiration of Father's words.

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May 18, 1999 volume 10, no. 96   DAILY CATHOLIC