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TUESDAY     November 9, 1999     SECTION TWO      vol 10, no. 212

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

Appreciation of the Existence of Purgatory

    Today we continue with our new series in the search to uncover the wonderful treasures of the Church contained in the great Deposit of Faith. We look today at that merciful gift from God - Purgatory - where we are able to be cleansed before looking upon the Beatific Vision forever. There have been many misconceptions about this intermediate "stopping off point" between earth and Heaven and we hope to convey what the Church teaches about Purgatory over the next several installments. For the forty-seventh installment, click on APPRECIATING THE PRECIOUS GIFT OF OUR FAITH


part one

Experience is the best lesson

      They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but the words of Bishop Fulton J. Sheen have been known to launch a thousand images in one's mind, one of the ways this late luminary did so much to evangelize the faith. Because of the urgency of the times and because few there are today who possess the wisdom, simplicity and insight than the late Archbishop who touched millions, we are bringing you daily gems from his writings. The good bishop makes it so simple that we have dubbed this daily series: "SIMPLY SHEEN".

"It is part of our fallen nature to despise the trouble we do not understand. Not having the power to drive into the mystery, it seems to us a shallow thing. When the sufferers complain much, we are inclined to think that they are exaggerating or giving way to cowardly weakness, just as the rich are too often ready to regard the very poor as whining imposters. He who has never felt the pangs of conscience looks with contempt upon the penitent's tears."


   Today is the Feast of the Dedication of Saint John Lateran Basilica in Rome while tomorrow is the Feast of that great papal doctor of the Church, Pope Saint Leo the Great who saved Rome from the Huns in the fifth century. For the readings, liturgies, meditations, and vignettes on these feasts, click on DAILY LITURGY.

Tuesday, November 9, 1998

Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome

Wednesday, November 10, 1998

WORLDWIDE NEWS & VIEWS with a Catholic slant



    VATICAN ( -- Pope John Paul II arrived in the former Soviet republic of Georgia on November 8, in the last stop of a tour which began with three days in India.

    "I am happy to be arriving in Georgia on a significant day," the Pope said, alluding to the 10th anniversary of the day when the Berlin Wall fell. He was greeted at the airport in Tbilisi, the nation's capital, by President Edouard Schevardnadze and Catholicos Ilia II, the Orthodox patriarch of Georgia.

    In his remarks at the airport, the Pope mentioned that Schevardnadnze had played an important role in the final days of Communism, when he served as foreign minister of the Soviet government under Mikhail Gorbachev. The final results of the fall of the Communist empire, the Pontiff observed, included the revival of Georgia as an independent country.

    ZENIT News Agency also reports that John Paul II's visit to Georgia is full of meaning, not least because of the extraordinary variety of cultures, religions and ethnic groups he will encounter in this small land. After decades of Soviet domination, at present 65% of Georgians profess Orthodoxy, and 11% Islam.

    The country has a surface of 69,700 square kilometers. In a population of 5,460 million, with a density of 78.1 inhabitants per square kilometer, the urban population equals 59%. The fertility rate is 2.10% and life expectancy 72.8 years.

    A number of languages are spoken in Georgia, but the most important are Georgian, Russian, Azerbaijan, Hebrew, and Kurdish. Ethnic groups include Georgians (about 70%), Armenians, Russians, Azerbaijanis, Greeks, Hebrews, Kurds, etc. The principal religion is Christian Orthodoxy, but there are Muslim and Catholic minorities.

    The capital of Georgia is Tiflis, and its government is a presidential republic.

    In so far as the economy is concerned, the GNP totals $2,358 million. Per capita GNP equals $1,470. The foreign debt amounts to $1,189 million, and the annual rate of growth is 10.5%. Georgia's main suppliers are: the European Union, the Community of Independent States, and the United States. Its clients include Russia, Armenia and the European Union.

    The Catholic Church in Georgia According to tradition, the Apostle Andrew brought Christianity to Georgia. Catholics number between 50,000-100,000 faithful. Catholics of the Latin Rite from Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia are under the Caucasus apostolic administration, established on December 30, 1993. Fr. Giuseppe Pasotto, CSS, is the Apostolic Administrator. The missionaries in Georgia include: 17 priests, 29 religious and 11 seminarians. ZE99110502


    VATICAN ( -- On November 6, Pope John Paul II issued an apostolic exhortation entitled Ecclesia in Asia, concluding the work of the Asian Synod.

    Officially signed in India at the start of the papal visit there, Ecclesia in Asia emphasizes the special role of the Asian continent in God's plan for salvation. Taking up one of the main themes of discussion among the bishops who participated in the Asian Synod, the Pope acknowledges that Christianity has attracted only a very small minority of the people on the world's largest continent. Nevertheless, the Holy Father argues, "Asia is thirsting for the living water that only Jesus can give."

    Contemplating the continent where Jesus was born and lived his earthly life, and where today the Church is often subject to persecution, the Pope predicted a surge of evangelical success-- "a great harvest for the faith"-- in the early years of the new millennium. The Asian people take a keen interest in spiritual questions, he pointed out, and Christianity can provide the answer.

    The Pope's confidence about the future of the Asian Church is based on two factors. Christ and the Church are part of Asia's hertage. God's saving plan was "initiated in Asia, God chose an Asian tradition; it was in Asia that the Church first began to spread," the Pope recalls. Although "it is a mystery why the Savior of the world, born in Asia, has until now remained largely unknown to the people of the continent," the Pontiff reasoned that "the Jubilee is an occasion for proclaiming that "the Savior of the world was born in Asia."

    [For further analysis of Ecclesia in Asia, see the Special CWN Feature carried in our VICAR OF CHRIST SPEAKS today. For the full text of the apostolic exhortation can be found on the Vatican web site:]


Following Joint Declaration, New Progress in Dialogue

    ROME, NOV 6 (ZENIT).- The picture of the long and affectionate embrace of two Bishops -- one Catholic, the other Lutheran, following the historic signing of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, which took place in Augsburg on October 31, is the best proof of the joy inspired by an historic reconciliation, which happened after more than 450 years of controversies.

    The two Bishops -- Walter Kasper, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and Ismail Noko, secretary general of the World Lutheran Federation, met again last Friday afternoon in Rome -- in the Pro Union Center, to address the challenges and tasks that they must now confront on the ecumenical road. One of the most important points, according to both Bishops, is to help both parts understand the content of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification that touches the very heart of faith.

    What does the agreement mean? "Now, Catholics and Lutherans can give common testimony of the heart of the faith. It is what is most needed in this secularized world. Of course there are issues that remain to be further clarified and studied. There are new tasks to be undertaken. For both Lutherans and Catholics the Bible is fundamental to our faith," Bishop Kasper said.

    Because of this, Bishop Kasper believes that dogmatic questions should be ultimately studied with the help of Sacred Scripture. He went on to emphasize that one of the most important tasks is the translation of the doctrine of justification into language that is accessible to modern Christians. God often seems to be excluded from our world, from our daily life.

    "The question of God's mercy, which so impressed Luther, has become distant for us and often says nothing to us. Together we must be capable of expressing this reality today. It is not simply a question of language. We must ask ourselves: What does God, Jesus Christ, mean to us today? What does believing in God's mercy mean? What does it imply for our life? The doctrine of justification says that with our own efforts alone we cannot construct our life and reach the fullness of happiness. Beyond our life, God's mercy prevails. In everything and in spite of any situation. He is the one who has our life in his hands. Because of this, we, for our part, must be merciful with our brothers and sisters. This is the Good News that we must communicate in a convincing way," Bishop Kasper explained.

    Lutheran Bishop Ismail Noko also forcefully expressed the importance of this agreement. "The signing on justification is much more than an agreement." It is "a sign of hope in a world that suffers," he said. It is a patrimony that must reach universities, seminaries, history books. Henceforth the presentation of Catholicism and Lutheranism must be different. The agreement reached sheds new light. He gave an example: the Pope's own proposal in the encyclical, "Ut Unum Sint," to profoundly study the way his pontifical ministry can be exercised in order to go out to meet brothers of other Christian traditions can now be undertaken with another disposition.

    The key phrase of the Joint Declaration, which summarizes the common understanding of Catholics and Lutherans on justification, can be found in paragraph no. 15: "We confess together that, not on the basis of our merits but only by means of grace and faith in the salvific work of Christ, we are accepted by God and receive the Holy Spirit, who renews our hearts, makes us capable and calls us to do good works."

    Thus, with modern language, the same thing is repeated that was said by the Council of Trent in the two first canons relating to the doctrine of justification. With language proper to the time, that decisive Council for the history of the Church stated: "If someone said, that man can be justified with God by his own works, carried out only by the force of nature, or by the doctrine of the law, without divine grace acquired by Jesus Christ, let him be anathema (condemned)." And it adds: "If someone said, that divine grace acquired by Jesus Christ, is conferred only so that man will be able to live in justice with greater facility and merit eternal life, as if by his free will and without grace he could acquire one or the other -- although with labor and difficulty --, let him be anathema."

    The Catholic Church, meeting in Council, then clarified: "If someone said, that man, without the prior inspiration of the Holy Spirit and without his help, can believe, hope, love and be genuinely repentant, so that he can received the grace of justification, let him be anathema." ZE99110509


    ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Florida ( - The collapse of a roof on a covered walkway at a Catholic Church on Sunday injured 23 people, six of them seriously.

    Dozens of people were gathered near the walkway Sunday morning at St. Mary Magdalene Church following a Mass when part of the concrete roof on the 72-foot-long walkway fell. "A couple of people were able to run off to the side. Others that didn't see it or got caught by surprise or couldn't move fast enough got caught underneath," said fire spokesman Alan Harris. Eleven people were taken to the hospital in ambulances, with the two most serious injuries including a broken hip and a spinal injury.

    "I heard the crash, looked out the window, saw everybody running, but I didn't know what it was all about," said Sister Rita Galligan, who heard it from her home at the convent next door. "There was no wind, no rain, no bump, no nothing. It just happened." The walkway connects the church to offices and must be passed through to go to the parking lot.

    The city building inspector blamed the collapse on a nail that dislodged from a rotten wooden beam supporting the roof, Harris said. "The nail that held the mesh to the beam fell out and, by the pure weight of it, started a domino effect that brought the whole thing down," said Harris.

    Meanwhile in Stockton, California police and arson investigators on Monday were investigating a suspicious fire at a Catholic Church following a Sunday evening Mass.

    Investigators said they found a swastika painted on an outside wall of the Church of the Presentation following the fire. The blaze caused extensive damage to the sanctuary and a classroom area.

    While the fire was described as suspicious, candles were used during the service and haven't been ruled out as a possible cause, a fire department spokesman said. A freshly painted swastika and other graffiti was found on a wall and on a statue in a garden area.

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November 9, 1999 volume 10, no. 212  DAILY CATHOLIC