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THURSDAY     November 18, 1999     SECTION THREE      vol 10, no. 219

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

WORLDWIDE NEWS & VIEWS with a Catholic slant



    WASHINGTON, DC ( - Despite warnings of a close vote, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops overwhelmingly decided to adopt new guidelines regarding Catholic colleges and universities.

    The 223-31 vote sends the guidelines on to the Vatican for final approval. An earlier version of the rules was rejected by the Vatican in 1996. The guidelines, based on Pope John Paul II's 1990 letter "Ex Corde Ecclesia," require theologians to receive a mandate from the local bishop to teach at Catholic colleges, state that a university president should be a practicing Catholics, and that a majority of faculty and board members, where possible, should also be Catholic.

    Opponents charged that the rules will suppress academic freedom and endanger government funding. Supporters said the academic freedom guaranteed by the guidelines are actually wider than that championed by secular US higher education groups, and that the guidelines will prevent an erosion of Catholic identity.

    The theology teachers' mandate requires them to "be faithful to the Church's magisterium as the authoritative interpreter of Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition." It also gives the bishop the right to not only refuse to issue a mandate, but to also revoke that mandate at a later date.


    VATICAN ( -- At his weekly public audience on November 17, Pope John Paul II said that his visit to the former Soviet republic of Georgia had been an opportunity to "pay homage to the witness that the Church in Georgia has performed through the centuries, and to build new bridges of contact among Christians."

    The Pope observed that Georgia is now "living through a very important period," in the rebirth of freedom after years of Communist rule. He reported that the Georgian people seemed "determined to confront their future with courage and to become a confident member of a united Europe." The Holy Father also commented on his "cordial meeting" with the Georgian Orthodox Patriarch Ilia II and the country's President Eduoard Shevardnadze.

    Finally, the Pope paid tribute to the "small but fervent Catholic community in the Caucasus, which he saw as a "sign of hope for the future of the Church in that region."

    During his audience the Pope appeared to be suffering from a slight cold, and he kept on his red cloak over his white cassock. But he spoke without apparent effort, in a strong and clear voice.

    Commenting on his trip to India during a public audience on November 17, Pope John Paul II said: "It was important to reaffirm the lively desire of the Church for a fruitful dialogue among believers of all religions, which can lead to renewed understanding and solidarity, in service to the entire human family."

    The Holy Father briefly alluded to the protests that had been staged by some militant Hindu groups prior to his arrival in India, commenting that the "reciprocal respect" among religious groups in that country "is today in difficulty from certain quarters."

    But the Pope also emphasized that "inter-religious dialogue does not exclude the mission of the Church to spread the Gospel to the ends of the earth, but on the contrary completes it." Referring to his apostolic exhortation Ecclesia in Asia, which he released during his stay in India, the Holy Father affirmed: "The proclamation of the Gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ must always be done with profound respect for the consciences of those who hear it." He went on to say that missionary workers should show respect for the culture and the religious traditions of the people with whom they work.


Italian Archbishop to head Vatican Supreme Court with Polish prelate new head of Education

    VATICAN CITY, NOV 16 (ZENIT).- John Paul II named Italian Archbishop Mario Francesco Pompedda prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signature. The Archbishop comes to the post, after being Dean of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota.

    Archbishop Pompedda, who is 70 years old, was born in Sardinia. Since 1993 he has been Dean of the Roman Rota, the court of appeal whose name derives from the circular room in which auditors met to judge cases. Archbishop Pompedda is also president of the Annulment Court of the Vatican City State.

    The Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signature, whose origins dates back to the 13th century, is called by this name because of the signature that seals documents relating to certain petitions, causes of justice or petitions of grace, at pontifical request. In virtue of its present competence, established in the 1988 apostolic constitution "Pastor Bonus," the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signature has judicial power over cases of nullity and appeals regarding conflicts over competence. In addition, as an administrative Tribunal, the Apostolic Signature settles disputes stemming from actions of ecclesiastical administrative power and insures the correct administration of justice.

    Archbishop Pompedda is replacing Polish Archbishop Zenon Grocholewski, whom the Holy Father yesterday named prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education, accepting the resignation of Cardinal Pio Laghi, for reasons of age.

    Born 60 years ago in the Polish archdiocese of Poznan, the new prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education Archbishop Grocholewski was consecrated bishop in 1982. He was appointed to the summit of the Apostolic Signature, the Vatican's highest tribunal, in 1991.

    Outgoing prefect, Italian Cardinal Pio Laghi, 77, has served the Vatican as pontifical representative in extremely sensitive situations throughout the world. In 1969 he was named Apostolic Delegate in Jerusalem and Palestine. In 1974 he was transferred to Argentina as Apostolic Nuncio, where he remained until 1980, living through the most difficult time of the dictatorship. Recently he was accused by some groups of not denouncing the "disappearance" of persons at the time by order of the military. But the Cardinal responded and demonstrated that he did not have the necessary materials to be well informed on these violations, as he had no access to the internal life of the army, the last ones to be interested in having their activities known by the Pope's representative in Buenos Aires. Cardinal Laghi's next assignment was as Apostolic Delegate in Washington. He was one of the principal figures in making the establishment of diplomatic relations between the United States and the Vatican possible in 1984. In 1990 he was named prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education. John Paul II made him a Cardinal the following year.

    The Congregation for Catholic Education has authority in three different sectors: over all seminaries (except those falling within the jurisdiction of the Congregations for the Evangelization of Peoples and for Oriental Churches) and houses of formation of religious and secular institutes; over all universities, faculties, institutes and higher schools of study, either ecclesial or civil dependent on ecclesial persons; over all schools and educational institutes depending on ecclesiastical authorities.

    Activity within the Office for Seminaries includes apostolic visits to Catholic institutions, preparation to receive bishops during their "ad limina" visits, nomination of rectors and the erection of seminaries. It has produced the "Directives on the Preparation of Educators in Seminaries" and constituted the Commission for a More Just Distribution of Priests in the World. It also publishes a magazine entitled "Seminarium."

    The Congregation's second section, the Office for Universities, is responsible for, among other activities, approving new statutes for new or existing educational centers, nominating or confirming rectors and deans and approving the conferment of "honoris causa" doctoral degrees. It has published norms -- due to an increased request -- for those institutes or universities wishing to merge.

    The Office for Catholic Schools collaborates with other offices of the Roman Curia on questions of mutual interest, has contacts with bishops and with pontifical representatives abroad to remain abreast of the educational systems throughout the world and maintains relations with national and international Catholic organizations on matters concerning Catholic education.

    Some of the issues treated by this office regard the teaching of sex education in Catholic schools, problems related to the teaching of moral or religious matters in public schools, the closing of Catholic schools in some countries or, in others, the juridical recognition of Catholic schools and ecclesial goods and properties. ZE99111509 and ZE99111602


    VATICAN ( -- Pope John Paul II has definite plans to visit the Holy Land during the Jubilee Year, although no dates have been fixed for that trip.

    Bishop Crescenzio Sepe, the secretary general of the Vatican's Committee for the Grand Jubilee, made that announcement on November 17 as he presented the latest calendar of events from the celebrations during the year 2000. Bishop Sepe said that the Pope's pilgrimage to the Holy Land would probably take place during the last 10 days in March.

    Although the latest Jubilee calendar is quite similar to the one previously made available to the press, the program unveiled by Bishop Sepe did include one noteworthy change. The Vatican had previously announced a joint celebration on March 25, the feast of the Annunciation, with ceremonies to be held both at the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome and the Annunciation Basilica in Nazareth. That date was especially significant because it would probably fall during the Pope's trip to the Holy Land, making it possible for the Pontiff to participate in the ceremony at Nazareth. But the latest calendar mentions only the ceremony in Rome. The change is apparently a response to the Israeli government's decision to allow the building of a mosque next to the Annunciation Basilica-- a decision which Catholic leaders have loudly protested. When the Israeli decision was announced, Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls had commented that "such a situation does not help in the preparations for an eventual pilgrimage by the Holy Father to that noted sanctuary."

    The latest Jubilee schedule confirms that Pope John Paul will open the Holy Doors of the four Roman basilicas, beginning with St. Peter's on December 24, and ending with St. Paul-outside-the-Walls on January 18, the first day of the annual week of prayer for Christian unity. The details of the ceremonies involved in that process will be explained when the next Jubilee calendar is presented, Bishop Sepe said.

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November 18, 1999 volume 10, no. 219  DAILY CATHOLIC