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THANKSGIVING ISSUE - WEDNESDAY through SUNDAY      November 24-28, 1999    
SECTION FIVE      vol 10, no. 223-225

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WORLDWIDE NEWS & VIEWS with a Catholic slant



Imperfect Union Already Exists in Baptism

    VATICAN CITY, NOV 23 (ZENIT).- John Paul II sent a message to the International Conference in Moscow, which is addressing the topic, "Jesus Christ is the Same Yesterday and Today and For Ever (Heb: 13:8) -- Christianity on the Threshold of the Third Millennium". The meeting, which began today and will end on November 25, was organized by the Christian Interconfessional Consultative Committee.

    The Interconfessional Committee includes Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant leaders of the Community of Independent States and in the Baltic Countries. At the Committee's invitation, the Vatican is represented by Cardinal Edward Cassidy, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

    In the papal message, which Cardinal Cassidy has taken to Moscow, the Holy Father expresses the hope that this will be a decisive meeting for Christians of different confessions -- Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants, to "inspire all involved to bear an ever more convincing and effective witness to the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ ... who is the center of the Christian faith and of the truth which is his Church."

    In referring to the fact that in the congress Churches are participating that "through the incorporation of their members by baptism into Christ, already share a real, though yet imperfect, communion," the Pope underlined that the "rediscovery of this brotherhood in the Lord will make it possible for Christians to deepen their relations, intensify their cooperation, and strive towards that perfect unity in the faith which is expressed in full and visible ecclesial communion, and to which Christ the Lord calls his disciples."

    The current Moscow Conference is the third meeting of its kind. The preceding were held in Moscow in 1994 and Minsk in 1996.

    The full text of the Message can be found at in the "Documents" section. ZE99112305


Accept Papal Instruction

    BERLIN, NOV 23 (ZENIT).- The German Episcopal Conference announced today that, in the future, Catholic consultation centers for pregnant women in difficulty will not grant certificates that give access to legal abortion, according to German legislation.

    The decision was announced today in Wuerzburg, Bavaria, at the end of a 2-day meeting during which the Episcopal Conference examined the results of last week's meetings with John Paul II in Rome, on the occasion of the German bishops "ad limina" visit with the Pope and the Holy See.

    The bishops announced that the Catholic Church's withdrawal from the government consultation program will take place during the year 2000. At present the bishops are considering the best way to help pregnant women in difficulty, in order to save thousands of lives, without being involved in the granting of these certificates.

    The certificates the Church offers in its consultation centers, state specifically that the document cannot be used for an abortion; however, in practice, hospitals and clinics had continued to accept these certificates as a "de facto" authorization for legal abortion. As a result, this presented the Catholic consultations with the moral dilemma of collaborating, even if only indirectly, with abortion.

    During their visit with the Holy Father last week in Rome, the Pontiff asked the German bishops to give clear and unanimous witness in defense of life, and that the Church's support of pregnant women in difficulty be reorganized in a more effective way, according to papal letters sent to the German bishops over the last few months.

    "I am convinced, that an ecclesial consultation that is outstanding for its quality, is an eloquent sign to society and an effective means to encourage women in difficulty not to reject the new life they carry in their womb," the Pope said. ZE99112304


    VATICAN CITY, NOV 23, 1999 (ZENIT).- The Holy Father today has appointed Joseph A. Galante, currently Bishop of Beaumont, Texas, as the new coadjutor bishop of Dallas, Texas.

    Bishop Galante was born in Philadelphia and ordained a priest for that Archdiocese in 1964. He was named titular bishop of Equilio and Auxiliary of San Antonio, Texas, in 1992. He was appointed Bishop of Beaumont, Texas, in 1994.

    He currently serves as member of the U.S. Bishops' Conference's Committees for Catholic Afro-Americans; for the Pontifical North American College of Rome; and the Communications Committee. He is also consultant for the Committee of Canonical Affairs. ZE99112321


    MOSCOW, NOV 23, 1999 (ZENIT).- According to a news release issued by the Russian agency ITAR-Tass, Kazakstan President, Nursultan Nazarbayev, announced yesterday that Pope John Paul II will visit that country in the year 2000.

    No more details or more specific dates were given, only the fact of the possible trip of John Paul II to this country, previously a member of the U.S.S.R., with a total population of 16 million, including approximately 45% Russian Orthodox and 50% Muslims. Christians make up less than 5%.

    While the Vatican as yet has neither confirmed nor denied the announcement, if the trip does take place, it will be another significant step on the road of ecumenism, together with the Pope's previous journeys to Rumania and, more recently, Georgia. ZE99112324


Agreement between Indonesian Military and U.N. Forces

    JAKARTA, NOV 23 (ZENIT).- Some 200,000 refugees of the conflict in East Timor, during which two bishops were attacked and hundreds of Catholic collaborators and faithful were killed, will be able to return to their land from their present refuge in the western part of the island. The decision follows an agreement signed by the Jakarta army and the U.N. INTERFET forces. Those who wish to remain in the west, will be able to do so if they choose to be integrated into Indonesian society.

    The agreement was made possible, thanks to the mediation of United States U.N. ambassador Richard Holbrooke, who is currently visiting the Asian island. The treaty stipulates that the Jakarta armed forces must control the activities of the pro-Indonesia paramilitary militias, who were responsible for the previous killings, which took place in the island after the referendum on independence held on August 30.

    Yesterday, Albert Hasibuan, president of an independent Commission established in Indonesia to investigate these attacks on human rights, said to the newspaper "Suara Pembaruan" that "the TNI (Indonesian army) supported the militias' burnt earth program in East Timor, which ended in killings and devastation." Hasibuan specified that a series of military chiefs are being investigated.

    "There are at least five violations of human rights that have caused the death of hundreds of Timorese and have been committed by militias with the help of regular troops," the Commission's president said.

    Meanwhile, tensions and disorders on another island of the archipelago, in the province of Aceh, have resulted in the death of two policemen and three civilians. This province, which experienced unrest previously -- provoked by independence movements, had returned to calm following Wahid's election as President of Indonesia. ZE99112308

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November 24-28, 1999 volume 10, no. 223-225  DAILY CATHOLIC