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TUESDAY             August 18, 1998             SECTION TWO              vol 9, no. 161

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Events Today in Church History

Historical Events in Church Annals for August 18:

with a Catholic slant

provided by Catholic World News Service



      BELFAST ( -- In the aftermath of a brutal bombing in Omagh, in Northern Ireland, political and religious leaders of all descriptions hastened to condemn the violence and to emphasize their commitment to the peace process.

      The bombing, which left 28 people dead and 200 injured, is the worst such incident in the history of "the troubles." The victims include five young girls and one 18-month-old baby.

      Father Eugene Hasson, the Catholic chaplain at the town's hospital, said: "There is no one in Omagh who has not been affected by this to a greater or lesser degree. Everybody knows somebody who was either killed yesterday or injured in the bombing.

      "Some of those directly affected will only be hit by the full force of this later this week," Father Hasson added. "It is almost too awful to contemplate.

      British Prime Minister Tony Blair joined Irish President Mary McAleese in condemning the bombing, urging all parties to restrain, and promising to seek the quick apprehension of those responsible.

      Archbishop Sean Brady of Armagh, Primate of All Ireland, said: "I am appalled, shocked and deeply saddened by this dreadful atrocity." Pope John Paul II said: "My earnest hope for that beloved country is that the Irish people of good will will not succumb to violence and that they will persevere with determination in building that peaceful coexistence on which the whole future depends,"

      Gerry Adams, the president of Sinn Fein, said "I condemn the bombing without any equivocation whatsoever." It was the first time he had condemned a Republican bombing.

      Martin McGuinness, a spokesman for Sinn Fein, echoed Adams' sentiment. "I am appalled and disgusted at what has happened in Omagh," he said. "It was an indefensible action.... This appalling act was carried out by those opposed to the peace process. It is designed to wreck the process and everyone should work to ensure the peace process continues."


      PITTSBURGH ( -- The American leaders of the Byzantine-rite Ruthenian Catholic Church have announced their plans to resume ordaining married men to the priesthood. That decision, based on the traditions of the Byzantine Church, may cause a showdown between Eastern-rite Catholics and the Vatican.

      The decision to allow ordination of married men is the most noteworthy element in a new set of laws for the Ruthenian Catholic Archdiocese of Pittsburgh, which stretches across the United States. The new laws were promulgated by Metropolitan Judson Procyk, in his capacity as leader of the Byzantine-rite body.

      The new laws for the Ruthenian Church were promulgated in response to the new Code of Canon Law for the Eastern Catholic churches, which call upon the "sui juris" churches-- those which enact their own laws-- to set up particular statutes clarifying the matters which are not covered in the Code. The Ruthenian Church in the United States is a "sui juris" body.

      The Council of Hierarchs of the Ruthenian Church explained the decision to ordain married men by quoting the encyclical of Pope John Paul II, Orientale Lumen, in which the Pontiff encouraged "a return to the original patrimony of the Eastern Catholic churches." They also noted that there are currently 100 married men acting as priests in the United States-- most of them converts from the Episcopalian Church-- and that their admission to the Catholic clergy "has been implemented without scandal to the faithful of the Latin Church."

      However, the Vatican has shown no enthusiasm for a return to married priests among the Eastern-rite churches-- at least in countries where the Roman rite, with its celibate clergy, predominates. In May, the Holy See asked Ukrainian Catholic bishops to stop ordaining married men for service in Poland.

      The new Ruthenian laws are to become effective on September 1.


      WARSAW ( -- Defying orders from their bishops, some Polish Catholics have continued to erect crosses outside the site of the former Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz.

      More than 100 crosses have been put up in the fields near the Nazi camp in recent weeks. Conservative Catholics, with some aid from Polish emigrants in the United States, began erecting the crosses after Jewish groups called for the removal of one large cross from a building which had once housed a Carmelite convent.

      Last week Cardinal Jozef Glemp, the primate of Poland, called upon Catholics to halt the erection of crosses. But at least some Polish Catholics have vowed to continue their campaign.

      On Friday, August 14-- the feast of St. Maximillian Kolbe, a martyr who died at Auschwitz-- Bishop Tadeusz Rakoczy renewed the call for an end to the cross-building campaign. "It is a paradox and an absurdity that someone wants to turn the cross against the Church in Poland," the bishop said.


      GUATEMALA CITY ( -- Archbishop Prospero Penados del Barrio of Guatemala City said that he is "appalled" by the naming of two more priests in the investigation into the murder of auxiliary Bishop Juan Gerardi Conedera. However, the archbishop promised that Church authorities would continue to cooperate with investigators.

      On Saturday, a local prosecutor named two priests: Msgr. Efrain Hernandez, the chancellor of the archdiocese, and Father Marco Aurelio Gonzalez, an urban pastor, in connection with the murder probe. Local newspapers said that these two priests were being "accused" of involvement in the murder-- along with Father Sergio Orantes, who was taken into custody last week. But Nery Rodenas, an attorney for the human-rights office of the archdiocese, said that the prosecutor had called the two priests "only as witnesses."

      "This is very confusing, since no detail of how and why the two priests are being involved," said Archbishop Penados, who also described himself as "appalled and frustrated" at this latest turn in the investigation. Nevertheless, he said that the archdiocese will keep helping investigators "to arrive to the whole truth about this case. He announced that the two priests will appear in court "soon," with their lawyers, to testify.

      The archdiocesan human-rights office, meanwhile, reiterated complaints that the investigation was a sham, and called for a serious probe into the rumors that the responsibility for bishop's killing could be traced to the country's military leadership.

For more headlines and articles, we suggest you go to the Catholic World News site. CWN is not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provides this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.


"The false witness will perish, but he who listens will finally have his say."

Proverbs 21: 28

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August 18, 1998 volume 9, no. 161   DAILY CATHOLIC