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TUESDAY     November 23, 1999     SECTION TWO      vol 10, no. 222

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


    Today is the Thirty-fourth and final Wednesday in Ordinary Time plus the triple feast of Pope Saint Clement, Martyr; Saint Columban, Abbot and Missionary; and Blessed Miguel Agustin Pro, a 20th century martyred priest of Mexico who was the 67th selection of the TOP 100 CATHOLICS OF THE CENTURY in September. Tomorrow we commemorate the martyrdom of the Vietnamese priest Saint Andrew Dung-Luc and his companion martyrs of Vietnam. For the readings, liturgies, meditations, and profiles on these saints, click on DAILY LITURGY.

Tuesday, November 23, 1999

November 23: SAINT CLEMENT I, Pope and Martyr

November 23: BLESSED MIGUEL AGUSTIN PRO, Presbyter and Martyr

November 23: SAINT COLUMBAN, Abbot and Missionary

Wednesday, November 24, 1999

Feast of Saint Andrew Dung-Lac, priest, and his companion martyrs of Vietnam

WORLDWIDE NEWS & VIEWS with a Catholic slant



    BETHLEHEM ( - Christian leaders locked the doors of churches throughout the Holy Land on Monday, the start of a two-day protest against the construction of an Islamic mosque on disputed land next the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth.

    Christians and Muslims had argued, sometimes violently, over the land in Nazareth with Christians claiming it as their own and wanting to build a plaza to accommodate pilgrims and Muslims declaring the land belonged to them and planning a huge mosque on the site. Israel's government stepped into the debate earlier this year and gave most of the site to the Muslims, allowing them to build a smaller mosque.

    "We were obliged to close our churches to make our voice heard," said Latin-rite Patriarch Michel Sabbah of Jerusalem, the head of the Catholic Church in the Holy Land. Israel called the church closures lamentable and issued assurances it was committed to protecting Christian interests. But Patriarch Sabbah told a news conference: "If the Israeli government had been interested in the good of (Nazareth) and its people, it would have stopped this ordeal. It should have intervened two years ago."

    Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat had asked Christian leaders not to include churches in areas under Palestinian control under the ban because of its expected impact on tourism. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Abdullah called Arafat on Monday and offered to pay to build the mosque on a different site "in order to enhance Islamic-Christian brotherhood," the Palestinian news agency WAFA reported. It said Arafat welcomed the move.


Requests Reorganization of Assistance to Pregnant Women in Difficulty

    VATICAN CITY, NOV 21 (ZENIT).- Yesterday, the third group of German bishops who are in Rome for their 5-year "ad limina" visit to the Pope and the Holy See, concluded their meeting with a concelebrated Mass with the Holy Father. John Paul II addressed a number of doctrinal issues, including: obedience to the Church, unanimous and unequivocal defense of human life, observance of substantial difference between clergy and laity, and impossibility of priestly ordination of women.

Church is a Mystery, Not a "Business"

    Above all, the Holy Father addressed in depth the fundamental aspects of the Church's identity. A "partial or selective reading of the Council and a unilateral presentation of the Church as a purely institutional structure, deprived of her mystery, have caused grave deficiencies, especially in certain lay associations that consider the Church critically as a mere institution. As a result, many claim the right to construct the Church as though it was some kind of 'business,' governed by more or less intelligent men." When one believes in the mystery of the Church, founded by Christ, one realizes that it is not "ours" but "his," the Holy Father clarified.

    The Pontiff admitted the difficulty of being a bishop in Germany today because of the action of some groups who, by concerted and insistent pressure, try to implement changes in the Church that are not in keeping with her identity. Because of this, John Paul II exhorted the bishops "not to allow any human authority to weaken the indissoluble ties that exist between them and Peter's successor."

Reorganization of Help to Pregnant Women

    The Pope also referred to the case of the Church's consultation centers for pregnant women who want an abortion according to German law. Above all, the Pope stressed the need for unanimous and unequivocal episcopal witness in defense of life. The Holy Father said that the important activity carried out by the Church in Germany, of giving advice and help to pregnant women in difficulty, must be reorganized once and for all according to directives given in his letters to the German episcopate.

    "I am convinced that an ecclesial consultation that is known for its quality, is an eloquent sign to society and constitutes an effective means to encourage women in difficulty not to reject the new life they carry in their womb."

    After emphasizing the fundamental difference that exists between the royal priesthood of believers and the ministerial priesthood, the Holy Father said that one must reject, as being against Christ's will, any attempt to clericalize the laity or vice versa. And he added: "the Church has no power whatsoever to confer the priestly consecration on women, and all the faithful of the Church are obliged to observe this decision without any discussion," which decision has the "character of infallibility associated with the ordinary and universal Magisterium of the Church."

    "Nevertheless, we must support those who do not understand or accept the Church's teaching, so that they will be able to open their heart and mind to the challenge imposed by faith," the Holy Father concluded. ZE99112101


In Sri Lanka artillery attack hits church, kills dozens

    ROME ( Ė New charges of complicity with genocide by a Catholic priest in Rwanda were lodged in media reports on Sunday as the trial of Catholic bishop on genocide charges began again in Kigali on Tuesday and reports of a possible campaign to implicate the Church came to light.

    Father Athanase Seromba, 36, now working in Italy with the permission of his bishop, has been accused of assisting in the 1994 genocide that left hundreds of thousands of ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus dead at the hands of extremist Hutus. The London Sunday Times quoted the director of the London-based African Rights organization, Rakya Omaur, as saying that "in the light of testimonies, it is surely impossible for the Church in Italy and in Rwanda, the judicial authorities in Italy, or the International Criminal Court for Rwanda, to allow Father Seromba simply to leave his past behind."

    However doubt was cast on the charges as a report sent by Hakizabera Christophe to the United Nations' commission on the UN's actions during the genocide came to light. Hakizabera was one of the first members of the Rwandan Patriot Front, a movement which regained power in Kigali after the genocide, but he fled the country in 1995, fearing for his life. He said that in 1991, long before their actual offensive, FPR leaders decided to attack the Hutu regime then in power in Kigali "on all fronts: military, political, media."

    Hakizabera said that FPR leaders decided then to "make false accusations against the Church because it preaches equality of all men and helps to educate the people; to eliminate Hutu priests, and then replace them with Tutsi priests; to terrorize missionaries and force them leave the country, because they are uncomfortable witnesses and hinder the FPRís plans; to kill the older missionaries who know the history of Rwanda, because they are responsible for what happened in 1959, when the Tutsi lost power to the Hutu elite, educated by missionaries in the minor seminaries."

    Meanwhile, the trial of Bishop Augustin Misago of Gikongoro on genocide charges prepared to begin again on Tuesday, even as defense lawyers contended they were being prevented from bringing their full plate of witnesses. When he had set the date for resumption for November 23, Judge Jaliel Rutamemara said: "This will be the last day for witnesses or we will never come to the end."

    During the last hearing on November 16, the defense began to question the prosecutorís witnesses, and one international observer present described the witnesses as an "avalanche of lies in a desert of facts." Bishop Misagoís lawyer has repeatedly pointed out the incoherence of the prosecution, first accusing him of planning the genocide and then reproving him for not helping its victims.

    In a related story out of Colombo, Sri Lanka, the country's military and rebels both denied responsibility on Sunday for an artillery attack on a church in Madhu that left at least 38 refugees dead and nearly 60 wounded.

    The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), fighting for a sovereign homeland in the north of the Indian Ocean island, said the civilians, among 3,500 sheltering at the church after being displaced by fighting, were killed because of the actions of Sri Lankan soldiers. "A commando unit of the Sri Lankan army stormed into the defenseless church premises last night holding thousands of refugees as a human shield," the LTTE said.

    Defense officials said the LTTE fired the shells, hoping to kill the soldiers among the refugees, after the government retook the town from the rebels. The rebels said the military used the defenseless of the church to fire artillery shells indiscriminately.

    A 5-kilometer radius around the Our Lady of Madhu Church, a popular pilgrimage site, had been designated a no-fire zone by both sides in the conflict over the past 15 years. Bishop Rayappu Joseph of Mannar and Bishop Malcolm Ranjith, secretary of Sri Lanka's Catholic Bishops' Conference, decried the presence of 300 soldiers in the church compound at the time of the attack and called for both sides to immediately clear the area. They said both sides should "strictly refrain from using Madhu for any strategic or political advantage."


    VATICAN ( -- A delegation from the Vatican will meet with the Russian Orthodox Patriarch of Moscow this week, during an international conference of Christians that is taking place in Moscow.

    Cardinal Edward Cassidy, the president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, has traveled to Moscow with Bishop Walter Kasper and Msgr. Jozef Maj-- the secretary and under-secretary of the Council, respectively. They were invited to participate in a conference arranged by the ecumenical arm of the Moscow Patriarchate, headed by Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk.

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.

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November 23, 1999 volume 10, no. 222  DAILY CATHOLIC