The responsibilities of this council, headed by Vietnam's Bishop Francois Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan as President, are to promote justice and peace throughout the world in fulfillment of the Gospel and the mission of the Church. Bishop Van Thuan, the former Vice-President of this council was named the President on June 24, 1998 replacing Cardinal Roger Etchegaray of France who was appointed President of the Central Committee for the Jubilee of the Holy Year.
It was Pope Paul VI who first established this council on an experimental basis with his Pontifical Commission Iustitia et Pax on January 6, 1967. Because of its success it became a definitive dicastery in 1976 with his Motu Proprio Iustitiam et Pacem in 1976. Its current name, Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, was given to it on June 28, 1988 with Pope John Paul's Pastor Bonus.
This dicastery, headed by Bishop Paul Josef Cordes is responsible for providing information for Catholic aid and human development organizations and coordinating these services and projects on a global scale. Attached to this council are the "John Paul II Foundation for the Sahel" and "Populorum Progressio". This council has been busy in helping the refugees in Africa, especially the Sudan and Rwanda as well as South America and now in East Timor and most recently in Taiwan. This dicastery has published two documents, one on world hunger and the other on refugees.
The origins of this Council began on July 15, 1971 by Paul VI who described it, in a "Lettera Autografa" or hand-written letter, as a dicastery at the level of the universal Church "for human and Christian promotion."
This council promotes the pastoral assistance to migrants, refugees, immigrants, nomads, and homeless people as well as tourists and travelers. Headed by Archbishops Giovanni Cheli, the main purpose is to give spiritual comfort to these people in an unfamiliar land and unstable conditions. It works closely with "Cor Unum" in issuing documents such as "Refugees: A Challenge to Solidarity" drawn up in 1992.
This council has its origins from 1952 when Pope Pius XIIestablished both the Superior Council for Emigration and the Work of the Apostleship of the Sea within the Consistorial Congregation, now known as the Congregation for Bishops. Six years later he entrusted this congregation with attending to the spiritual assistance of those faithful who work aboard airplanes, as well as passengers, through an institution called "Opera dell'Apostolatus Coeli o Aeris." In 1976 Paul VI attached it to the Congregation for the Clergy to assure these groups of people that they would have pastoral guidance and it was given its separate status and title by John Paul II in his Motu Proprio Pastor Bonus on June 28, 1988.
After five years in this post, he was honored with the cardinalate during the Pope's Consistory of May 25, 1985 receiving the Titular church of St. Praxedes and the title of cardinal deacon which was transferred to the order of cardinal priests on January 29, 1996. At the same time as the Consistory of 1985 the Holy Father elevated him to permanent President of the Pontifical Council for Non-Believers which became President of the Pontifical Council for Culture three years later and the Pope merged the two council into one with the latter title through the Holy Father's Motu Proprio on March 25, 1993. In addition to his duties as President of the Pontifical Council for Culture which he has headed for fourteen years, Cardinal Poupard also serves membership in the Roman Curia offices of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, the Congregation for Evangelization of Peoples, and the Congregation for Catholic Education in addition to the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. At 69 he is young enough to be considered papal material but his experience factor leaves him far short of other leading candidates who are either the same age range or younger.
Death of Saint Rupert, first bishop of Salzburg in Austria. He reconverted the pagan temples into Christian churches and established the salt-mining industry in that region, hence the etimology of the name of the city - Salzburg.
Death of Saint Gerard of Csanad who was martyred at Venice. He is often called the "Apostle of Hungary" for bringing the gospel to that region.
Death of Pope Innocent II, 164th successor of Peter whose papacy lasted 13 years. He had hardly been elected when he was forced to flee from Rome. Lothario of Saxony brought him back to Rome, kissed his feet in obedience and personally held his mule's bridle during the procession, in exchange for his own coronation. Innocent convened the 10th Ecumenical Council or Lateran II which brought to an end the Papal schism and enacted reforms in 1139.
Establishment of the feast of Our Lady of Mercy also called Our Lady of Ransom. It was Saint Peter Nolasco who founded an order under the Blessed Mother's protection with the title of Our Lady of Mercy or Ransom with the specific purpose of ransoming Christian prisoners and slaves from the Moors and infidels during the Crusade years. The trend of invoking Our Lady has continued for nearly 800 years of imploring the Mother of Mercy's help in all difficulties.
Pope Saint Pius X issues his last encyclical - his sixteenth - Singulari quadam on labor organizations.
Death of Pope Lucius III, 171st successor of Peter. His pontificate lasted four years during which time he put together a constitution, exhorting all those in authority to suppress heresy by force of arms, having himself been forced to take refuge in Verona because of riots which had broken out in his own territories prompted by heretics.
Death of Saint Sergius of Radonezh, Russian abbot who founded 40 monasteries throughout Russia who died at the age of 77.
Christopher Columbus sets sail for America on his second voyage, increasing his fleet substantially from the three ships Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria.
Vasco de Balboa reaches the Pacific Ocean, planting the seeds of the faith with the Indians on the west coast through his entourage which included a few Franciscan missionaries.
Death of Pope Clement VII, 219th successor of Peter who was embroiled in the backlash of the Protestant Reformation. He was unable to curb the bitter struggle between Catholics and the Lutherans of the Reform. He excommunicated Henry VIII of which the consequences was the persecution of Catholics and confiscation of lands and property in England.
Death of Cardinal John Ireland first Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul, Minnesota. It was Cardinal Ireland who authorized the building of the grand Basilica in St. Paul across from the Capitol Building.
Death of Saint Nilus of Rossano Italian Abbot in southern Italy.
Beheading of hundreds of Crusaders by Sultan Bajezid including the noble French Catholic Knights De Philippe of Bar, Odard de Chasseron, and Jean de Vienne.
Birth of Giovanni Montini in Brescia, Italy. He would go on to become a Cardinal and bring the Second Vatican Council to its conclusion as Pope Paul VI. It was Paul who allowed clerical dress other than the cassock to be worn. Sadly this has been abused by some religious where today there is little semblance to religious garb. Paul's papacy lasted 15 years.
As stated in the letter, it is a reply to the Bishops' request to overcome the tensions and uncertainties that the Church has experienced in connection with this thorny problem. German law considers abortion an illegal practice but, in certain circumstances and by complying with prescribed conditions, it could be decriminalized. One of these conditions is that the pregnant woman attend an interview in one of the public consultation centers directed by voluntary associations, whose concern is to save the life of the unborn.
The Catholic and Lutheran Churches -- both the two largest denominations and also the largest employers in the country -- decided to participate in this system in order to save as many lives as possible. But the way the system works allows that the certificate (confirming that the consultation has taken place) becomes the instrument of abortion. It is a very complex moral situation. For a long time, the Catholic Church in Germany debated between the desire to help as many women as possible and the consequences implied in granting the certificate.
Those in favor of participating in the government program fear that many Catholic consultation centers would be forced to close because of lack of federal funding if they do not comply with the national norm of awarding a document that certifies the actual consultation. Others in favor contend that women will not come to centers that do not issue a certificate and, as a result, lives that could have been saved through counseling would be lost.
On the other hand, those against participating in the program ask: "Can the Catholic Church allow that a document prepared by its institutions be used to carry out abortions, even though the document itself states explicitly that this it not the intention?" They assert that the whole issue of a coherent church witness in defense of life from the moment of conception is at stake.
The Bishops have asked the Pope for advice on several occasions; the Holy Father consistently stressed the need to offer transparent and totally coherent testimony in defense of life. In June, at John Paul II's explicit request, the German Bishops added the phrase "cannot be used for carrying out an abortion," to the certificate's text.
But the Bishops' measure has been distorted by the system. In fact, the newly published Vatican letter states, the government has ignored this note and continues to use the Catholic certificates for the authorization of abortions.
If the certificate continues to serve for access to abortion, the reproach leveled by many over the past few weeks would be substantiated; that is, the Church would be making a merely theoretical affirmation with no real effects, the letter states, which the Bishops received confidentially last Monday.
The consequence is logical: "If, in fact, government authority ignores the above-mentioned note, it is not possible to understand how the Church can remain in the consultation required by the law." Because of this, "the eventual certificate will serve only and exclusively to document the direction in the service of life of the ecclesial consultation center, and to guarantee the attribution of the promised aid."
The letter states that the Bishops themselves will decide the "specific solution." At present, the German Bishops are meeting in General Assembly to make the decision. The Pope has asked them "repeatedly" to decide "by unanimity according to these indications." The final answer should be known by this Friday. ZE99092203
Bishop Misago was accused of actively collaborating with the government at the time to kill the ethnic Tutsi minorities. About 800,000 people were killed in the 100-day genocide. The bishop's trial began on September 14 and resumed on Thursday following a weeklong recess.
Prosecutors alleged that Bishop Misago conspired with former Prime Minister Jean Kambanda and others to begin the assault. Kambanda has been sentenced by a UN court to life imprisonment after he confessed to genocide.
Bishop Misago acknowledged he had met government officials but said he was searching for ways of assisting the many displaced people who had sought shelter in the parishes of his diocese. "I did not attend any meetings in which genocide plans were discussed," he said. "I was aware that there were killers in those meetings, but I continued to attend them because I judged them salutary for the people."
The bishop added that his diocese distributed aid to about 50,000 people in a temporary camp who were later massacred by Hutu militias.
Negotiators in a congressional conference committee were unable to reach agreement on a $12.6 billion foreign aid bill and a separate bill that would fund the US' $1 billion back dues to the United Nations. President Bill Clinton has threatened to veto the bills if they include any restrictions on abortion funding overseas.
House negotiators said they were willing to drop language that would deny US funds to support organizations that lobby foreign governments to repeal abortion bans. But in return, they wanted to eliminate $25 million previously approved by both House and Senate for the United Nations' Population Fund. Senate negotiators refused the compromise and further discussions were postponed.
In his address, the Cardinal requested that "cinema stop being the prisoner of sex and violence, topics that seem to be obsessive today, and leave them behind in the twilight of the end of the century and go (forward) toward the dawn of the new millennium."
Representatives of the cultural world in general, and the film industry in particular, sent letters of gratitude to the Vatican for the impulse given by the French Cardinal to the Venice Festival. There were also letters of a political nature. Undoubtedly, one of the most unexpected was the official letter sent by the Iranian Embassy at the Vatican, thanking the Catholic Church for its work in defense of the dignity of all human persons in face of the complex world of cinema. The long letter acknowledged the contribution made by Cardinal Poupard to the dignity of women, which some contemporary film studios seem to regard simply as an object of merchandising. ZE99092103