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MONDAY             August 17, 1998             SECTION TWO              vol 9, no. 160

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Events Today in Church History

     For events throughout the centuries that are memorable in Church history today, click on TIME CAPSULES: ALL ROADS LEAD TO ROME

Historical Events in Church Annals for August 17:

WORLDWIDE NEWS & VIEWS with a Catholic slant

provided by Catholic World News Service



      BOGOTA, Colombia ( - Lech Walesa, former president of Poland and founder of the Solidarity trade union, said that Pope John Paul II never supported or helped build a "Holy Alliance" against Communism that helped end the Soviet dominion of Eastern Europe.

      Ending a recent Latin American tour, Walesa said in Bogota that the idea of the Pope secretly working against the former Soviet Union was "a myth" built by journalists Carl Bernstein and Marco Politi, authors of the book "His Holiness." "That book is focused on the idea of a conspiracy but I want to say that such a conspiracy never took place, and I can say so, because I was in the middle of that struggle," he said. "Certainly, this Pope made the greatest contribution to the decline of Communism, because when he visits a country he reveals the truth about such a country and establishes solid paradigms to build a future," said Walesa. "I took those ideas and put them into Solidarity," he added.

      Nevertheless, the former Polish president said, "Communism was doomed to die because it opposed the evidence of history and human nature." Walesa said, "The Pope was vital in bringing its swift and bloodless end." He added that such an achievement "was not the consequence of a conspiracy or a so-called 'holy alliance,' but the natural effect of the Pope's role in the world."

      "I mean, what do you actually expect from a Pope? To become a member of the Communist Party himself?" Walesa asked ironically. "He just did his job and did it extremely well," he added. Walesa also admitted receiving help from the Reagan administration, "but again, that was not because of a secret conspiracy, but because of Mr. Reagan's sympathy to our cause," he concluded.


      ROME ( - A poll conducted in Italy for the 30th anniversary of the landmark papal encyclical Humanae Vitae showed on Thursday that many Italian Catholics flout Church teaching on contraception, abortion, divorce, and cohabitation.

      The poll by L'Espresso magazine said that 55.1 percent of professed Catholics disagree with the ban on contraception, while 31.4 percent adhere to the Church's teaching. About 68 percent said that people who divorce and remarry in civil ceremonies should be admitted to communion, and 86 percent said couples should be able to live together without marrying. The strongest defense of Church teaching came when respondents were asked about abortion: only 53 percent said abortion should remain legal while 42 percent said the 1978 law allowing it should be repealed.

      An opinion poll last week in the Catholic magazine Famiglia Cristiana said 72 percent of Italian Catholics believed homosexuals should be allowed to marry and receive the same legal rights as heterosexual couples.


      NEW YORK ( - A new poll released last week found that most Americans believe they will go to heaven after death and generally hold other traditional Christian beliefs.

      The Harris poll found that more than 75 percent of adults expect to go to heaven, while just 2 percent think they will be condemned to hell and only 4 percent expect to spend time in purgatory. Of those who identified themselves as Christians, 96 percent believe in the Resurrection and 91 percent in the Virgin Birth, while even 49 and 47 percent of non-Christians believe in those doctrines.

      But about 20 percent of Christians believe in reincarnation, the same rate as the general population, and 37 percent of all Americans believe in astrology and 35 percent in ghosts. Of all Americans, 94 percent believe in God, 90 percent in heaven, and 73 percent in the devil and hell.


      LISBON ( -- For the second time, a representative of the Holy See has issued a public protest against efforts to manipulate a world youth conference, in this case lamenting the fact that the final conference statement omits all mention of the role of fathers.

      Msgr. Stanislaw Rylko, an official of the Pontifical Council for the Laity who is representing the Vatican at the Lisbon conference, said that "despite our best efforts" the conference had neglected to recognize the importance of fathers as heads of families.

      Earlier, the Vatican had joined with pro-life groups to complain that officials of the United Nations were exerting pressure on delegates at the Lisbon conference, looking for approval of statements endorsing "reproductive freedom"-- a term generally used to indicate a legal right to abortion. UN officials were also reportedly pushing for a broader definition of "family," to include unmarried couples and same-sex unions.


"Let your foot be seldom in your neighbor's house, lest he have more than enough of you, and hate you."

Proverbs 25: 17

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August 17, 1998 volume 9, no. 160   DAILY CATHOLIC