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WEDNESDAY             July 1, 1998             SECTION TWO              vol 9, no. 127

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Events Today in Church History

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Historical Events in Church Annals for July 1:

WORLDWIDE NEWS & VIEWS with a Catholic slant

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      VATICAN ( -- Pope John Paul II has issued a new apostolic letter, in the form of a Motu Proprio, tightening the disciplinary provisions of Canon Law that deal with theological dissent.

      The short, four-page document, entitled Ad Tuendam Fidem, adds new paragraphs to the Code of Canon Law. (The new addition will also be made in the separate Code of Canon Law for the Eastern churches.) The purpose of the change is to defend the integrity of the faith against theological dissent.

      In an introductory explanation, Pope John Paul writes, "In order to defend the faith of the Catholic Church against errors on the part of some of the faithful-- but especially among those dedicated to the study of sacred theology-- it seemed absolutely necessary that... some norms must be added" to the Church's law. The Holy Father further explained that the new paragraphs make clear the serious obligation of theologians to convey the faith accurately, and set forth the canonical sanctions that may be imposed on those who fail to uphold this duty.

      Although Church leaders and theologians are asked to make a Profession of Faith-- indicating their acceptance of all the truths taught definitively by the Church-- the Pope points out, there had been no provision in the Code of Canon Law which corresponded directly to that oath.

      The first new addition to the Code, therefore, adds to the existing #750 a second paragraph, making it clear that anyone who refuses to accept a proposition definitively taught by the Church is thus "in opposition to the doctrine of the Catholic Church." Next, #1371-- a canon dealing with ecclesiastical sanctions for those who reject Church authority-- is amended to stipulate that anyone who violates #750 is "to be punished with a just penalty."

      The final part of the new apostolic letter applies the same changes to the Code of Canons for the Eastern Churches. In that text, the corresponding changes affect #598 and #1436, respectively.


      VATICAN ( -- Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, today issued a clarification regarding the profession of faith which is sworn by Catholic leaders and theologians.

      The cardinal's statement came in conjunction with a new apostolic letter, put forth by Pope John Paul II, regarding the obligations of theologians to honor that Profession of Faith.

      The formula for the Profession of Faith, which has been in effect since 1989, has not been changed by the new apostolic letter, Cardinal Ratzinger said. Rather, he indicated the need to understand three different types of truths outlined in the oath.

      The Profession of Faith requires theologians to accept doctrines which have been proclaimed "definitively" by the Church. In that category, Cardinal Ratzinger listed the primacy of Peter, the exclusively male priesthood, and the intrinsic immorality of euthanasia and fornication. He also observed that the legitimacy of a papal election, and decrees of the canonization of saints, are definitive statements.

      The cardinal explained that these and other definitive teachings which have been handed down by Scripture and Revelation are "by a solemn judgment, defined as divinely revealed truths" by the Pope speaking ex cathedra and/or by ecumenical councils of bishops in communion with the Roman Pontiff.

      A second category of truths, he continued, include those which are explicitly mentioned in the Credo. Such doctrines include the teachings that Jesus was born of a virgin, that He instituted the sacraments, and that He is present in the Eucharist. Rejection of these truths is formal heresy.

      A third category of Church teachings includes those truths which have been set forth consistently, but never solemnly defined, by Church authority. While they are not definitively formulated, he notes, these teachings too demand "the religious submission of the will," and any direct contradiction of these teachings would be an error-- and potentially a grave danger to the good of the faithful.


      VATICAN ( -- Cardinal Pio Laghi, the prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, issued a strong call for religious freedom during a visit to Cuba.

      Celebrating Mass at the Havana cathedral yesterday, on the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, Cardinal Laghi delivered a homily in which he asked for recognition of the legitimate rights of the Church and of the faithful. In particular, he mentioned the right of parents to send their children to the school of their choice, including Catholic schools among the options.

      Catholic teachers in Communist Cuba were encouraged by the cardinal on Saturday to preach the Gospel despite official restrictions on religious education.

      Cardinal Pio Laghi, president of the Congregation for Catholic Education, told a conference of 200 teachers and catechists that many avenues for Catholic education exist apart from the official schools and universities. "The high level of public education allows us to invent new paths, sometimes not formal, for Catholic education," he said.

      Religious education is not currently taught at state schools in Cuba, where Catholic schools and universities were all nationalized along with other private teaching establishments after the 1959 Cuban revolution. But the Church is allowed to operate its own catechism classes and is running two seminaries to train priests. The cardinal also stressed the benefits of Catholic education for society, "for the improvement of social living and order, through raising the qualities of citizens' ideals and their deeper motivations."


      DILI, East Timor ( - Bishop Carlos Belo of Dili, East Timor called on Indonesia on Tuesday to remove all of its occupying troops if they cannot keep the peace without resorting to violence.

      The bishop spoke to reporters a day after a young man was shot and killed during a protest in Bacau. "There is no reason to shoot directly [at people]," he said. "My impression is if [the military] are not able to control the situation ... let them ask United Nations forces to control the situation here." He added, "If they are able, I ask them not to shoot people, the demonstrators. If they are not able, let other people come."

      The shootings, which also injured five people, came as Timorese youth protested in front of the cathedral in Bacau as Bishop Basilio dos Nasciemento of Bacau met with ambassadors from Britain, Austria, and the Netherlands. Protesters demanding independence from Indonesia attacked a van carrying plainclothes security forces accompanying the diplomats, and the soldiers opened fire.

      Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, invaded mainly Catholic East Timor in 1975 and annexed the former Portugese colony the following year in a move not recognized by the United Nations.

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July 1, 1998 volume 9, no. 127   DAILY CATHOLIC