Bishop Rady appealed to the Indonesian militias to stop shooting, as the camps are a protected area and the "people have come here for safety and help," he said. Shooting is heard everywhere, disregarding the "local people's right to live ... and go about their business in safety."
Yohannes Pake Pani, vice-governor of the Eastern province of Nusa Tenggara, said it was impossible to control the militias who move around the refugee camps. "We check the people as they arrive, but the camps are by no means sealed, and we cannot patrol the whole area," he said.
Local religious leaders, including Protestants, Moslems and Hindus, have accused the militias of killing many refugees suspected of supporting the cause for independence.
Since the outbreak of violence following the referendum in East Timor, over 120,000 people have moved to West Timor. The largest group -- 70,000, is in the district of Belu, and 30,000 are in Kupang, the provincial capital. The military control access to Kupang and Atambua.
Observers fear the post-referendum violence will spread to other parts of Indonesia, as there are many reports of harassment and aggression. "Fides" learned that the Indonesian intelligence service, which has pro-Indonesian East Timorese, has contacted leaders of neighborhoods in big cities and warned them to be alert and control pro-independence activists who live in their area. ZE99091611
Meanwhile in Rome, Bishop Carlos Belo expressed his gratitude to the Pope for his support and appreciated Italy's emotional farewell to him. John Paul II's embrace has given new hope to East Timor, the Bishop of Dili said at Rome's airport, as he prepared to leave the Italian capital.
"During these days of my stay in Italy, I have not ceased to think of East Timor, and have tried to maintain contacts to follow the evolution of the situation," the Nobel Prize winner said. "The news of persons who were believed dead and who, instead, are alive, and the risk to the life of defenseless people has filled my heart with sadness and hope."
"Hope increased with the Holy Father's paternal embrace; with the willingness expressed by Italian political authorities who have welcomed me with kindness and who have kept their commitment; with the solidarity of the Italian people; with the attention given by the press to my small homeland."
The Salesian Bishop acknowledged that "following the decision of world authorities to intervene decisively to reestablish dignity and justice to the inhabitants of East Timor, I am now confident in the future. We must reconstruct it all, but I am convinced that the solidarity of peoples, of humanitarian associations, of each generous person, will enable us to achieve it."
"My desire now is to be able to return as soon as possible to East Timor to help the people to find confidence and hope once again; to help make decisions in favor of reconciliation and peace, and to carry out together what has been democratically decided by the referendum," Bishop Belo said before boarding his plane.
"I thank God who has inspired and protected me in this trip away from my homeland to tell about the sufferings of my people," he concluded. ZE99091710
Kirill, who is Patriarch of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, and Moscow Patriarch Alexey II's Foreign Minister, said that "many Christians in Russia do not accept" a balanced situation, swinging instead from the ultra conservatives to the extremely liberal. We are "in a time of transition and movement," far from what the Patriarch considers the "ideal model."
Kirill's assessment is reflected in the current outbreaks of violence in Russia, and the moral degradation that is manifest, threatening Russian society. Although Kirill did not refer to the recent bomb attacks in his country, he was explicit about the responsibilities, including the civic role, of Christians. "The Russian Church must do its duty to save its people." In other words, it must "give evangelical motivation to citizens' private life and to the civic life of the nation. At present, there are many believers in Russia, scrupulous observers of religious rules, but when asked about the relation of faith to social life, they don't even understand the question. We want faith to be reborn in the Russian people, because we are convinced that this will help society in a concrete way to build relations that will guarantee respect for its own identity, to develop economically, and to have a peaceful role in the world."
This is the reason the Orthodox hierarchy has referred to the "social doctrine of the Church" in the West, an Orthodox version of which "was elaborated on the basis of experience over the years," which will be presented in the year 2000. Moreover, the Russian Church has renounced political power. "In 1992 we could have had a majority in the Duma, with all the priests who had been asked to be candidates; but we have prohibited (our) religious direct involvement in politics because the Church can only criticize power when it can demonstrate it has no personal interests."
The future of Christians in Russia, Patriarch Kirill pointed out, is not a problem of means. "Over the past ten years we have witnessed enormous changes in ecclesiastical life. We have reopened thousands of churches and hundreds of monasteries; we have at least 100 religious leaders and dozens of theological schools. Materially, we have everything that we could not even dream of at the time of the Millennium of Rus. Of course places of worship are lacking, but even if the number was doubled, these would be empty, as we see in Europe. We could produce Orthodox television and no one would watch it." This is not the aim of the current "religious renaissance." In Kirill's opinion, the issue is to find an "effective mediation between Russian cultural and religious tradition and modern models of civilization that are no longer Christian."
"The tragedy of the Christian this century -- and one must be blind not to see the corrosion of values in West and East -- is not in the loss of the Church's political or economic influence, but in the fact that Christian motivation is no longer a determining factor in people's life. The crisis is not in the Church, but in Christian civilization. And, given the terrifying and bloody experience of our martyrs, we wish to affirm that without faith, human civilization does not have the possibility to survive," Kirill warned.
"The Orthodox Church has always been controlled by the government. Now, for the first time in its millenary history, it can construct a new model in its relations with the government. What is needed is a balance between those who wish to return to a 'National Church' and the super-democratic for whom Orthodoxy is just one confession among others."
"But, in regard to all the rest, we do not want to isolate ourselves; we want to give witness in this world, by suffering and battling for the Gospel. (We want to be) worthy heirs of the thousands of anonymous Orthodox martyrs of Communism, "killed in basements as political criminals, without anyone even being aware of their heroism," he concluded. ZE99091707
The letter, signed by Father Emilius Goulet, Secretary General of the Bishops' Conference, refers to "disquieting reports ... that the Canadian representative ... has proposed that the new international court not recognize the centuries-old legal tradition that respects the sacred confidentiality of matters shared between a penitent and priest during the confession of sins."
While acknowledging that the proposal has received very little international support, the bishops make it clear that they are "disturbed that the Government of Canada would even propose such an undertaking."
"The strict confidentiality of matters shared between a priest and penitent," the text continues, "not only concerns the more than one billion Catholic and Orthodox Christians in the world who consider the confession of sins to be a sacrament, but members of all religions, given that the recognition of such confidentiality has been legitimately extended over time to include private religious counseling in all religious faiths."
"Furthermore, the inevitable effects of the Canadian proposal would have meant interference with the right to personal privacy as well as erosion of freedom of conscience and religion. As you will recall, in a letter dated August 5, 1999, to the President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, you had rightly stated that religious freedom is a fragile right in many areas of the world. Such freedom would certainly not have been strengthened internationally by this recent Canadian proposal," the document concludes. ZE99091725
The new document offers the faithful a series of reminders on ways in which to atone for sins: through prayer, the sacraments, acts of charity, penance, and interior conversion.
Cardinal William Baum, the head of the Apostolic Penitentiary, said that the new Manual of Indulgences should clarify the teachings of the Church regarding indulgences. In particular, he said, it represents "a real contribution to dialogue with the Lutherans. During the Reformation, Martin Luther had highlighted abuses in the use of indulgences-- abuses which were formally condemned by the Council of Trent.
The new Manual of Indulgences, the 4th edition, contains no new teaching. However, it does stress a point that was emphasized by Pope Paul VI in his apostolic constitution on the topic: that any indulgence is dependent upon the proper disposition of the individual. The manual also contains some examples which carry a contemporary flavor, such as the suggestion that praying along with the Pope by means of a television or radio broadcast could be a proper form of reparation and a means of obtaining indulgence. The document also emphasizes the value of "public acts of witness to the faith."