Pope Leo XIII releases his 54th encyclical Litteras a vobis intended for the bishops of Brazil on the clergy of Brazil.
Pope Pius XII issues a warning against materialism in preparation for the 100th anniversary of the Lourdes apparitions, Le pelerinage de Lourdes.
Metropolitan Jean de Pergame, the head of delegation sent by the world's Orthodox leader to participate in the traditional celebration of Christian unity, echoed the views of Pope John Paul, saying that it is essential to accelerate the progress toward unity as the Church approaches the Grand Jubilee. The metropolitan said that the year 2000 should find the Church "visibly united, as it was before the Great Schism."
The Orthodox delegate paid tribute to Pope John Paul for his own efforts to promote unity, citing that "we have particularly appreciated your encyclical Ut Unum Sint...." He noted that in that encyclical the Holy Father had encouraged a new discussion of the meaning of papal primacy-- a topic which has caused disputes between Catholic and Orthodox leaders over the years.
This encouraging statement from the Orthodox delegation-- which was made in the name of the Ecumenical Patriarch-- was evidently intended to overcome some of the disappointment caused by the absence of any Orthodox delegation at last year's celebration of the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, and to signal a new willingness to resume serious ecumenical dialogue.
The newspaper quoted Cardinal William Keeler of Baltimore as saying that he had extended the invitation to the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue to meet at Mount Saint Mary's College in Emmitsburg, Maryland from June 7 to 15 in 1999. "Nine years ago, as the only American Catholic bishop participating in the dialogue, I extended an invitation to meet for the first time in the Western Hemisphere, and specifically at Emmitsburg," Cardinal Keeler said. He repeated the invitation to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, spiritual leader of the world's 300 million Orthodox Christians, when he visited Baltimore in October.
The discussions in Emmitsburg would focus on how each church exercises authority through meetings of their respective bishops, like the Pan-Orthodox Synods or the Second Vatican Council. The commission has issued three statements since it began meeting in 1979. The first, on their shared understanding of the Eucharist, was issued in 1982 after a meeting in Munich, Germany. A second statement on sacraments came out of a 1987 meeting in Bari, Italy. The third statement, on the sacrament of priestly ordination and apostolic succession was produced at a 1988 meeting in Valamo, Finland.
US District Judge David Coar held the hearing as part of the judgement phase of civil lawsuit brought by abortion providers against pro-life demonstrators who successfully sued them for forming an illegal conspiracy. Lawyers for the National Organization for Women called witnesses and provided evidence that they said showed "a strategy of extortion of threatening acts against [abortion] providers." Abortionists said they are spending a burdensome amount of money for security.
Pro-life demonstrators claimed the current laws are already burdensome enough, especially for citizens engaging in constitutionally protected free speech. Tim Murphy, one of the defendants, told jurors he no longer participates in rescues because the possibility and penalties of incarceration and fines were too high.
Meanwhile, on the east coast two judges alternately blocked and approved two different partial-birth abortion bans in two different states on Tuesday.
US District Judge Donald Graham on Tuesday blocked the Florida law which was due to go into effect on the same day, saying it "appears to pose a threat" to the right to abortion as defined in the 1973 US Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision. He also said the law may endanger the health of mothers seeking the procedure. Opponents of the law say its vague wording could also be construed to prohibit two common types of abortions performed in the first and second trimesters.
In Virginia, Judge J. Michael Luttig of the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a state judge's order issued last week that blocked a partial-birth abortion ban in that state while a legal challenge was mounted against that measure. Similar laws have been passed in 28 states, but 16 of them have had the bans blocked either temporarily or permanently.
The meeting which breaks almost five years of gridlock will include six representatives from the Catholic Church, six from the government's National Committee for Peace, and six members of the National Liberation Army (ELN), one of the largest rebel groups of the country. Archbishop Antonio Giraldo of Medellin, president of the bishops' conference, said the goal of the meeting is to make concrete the Mainz Accord, a pre-agreement signed last weekend in the German city during a "discrete" meeting between the government and the rebels, sponsored by the Colombian bishops.
Archbishop Giraldo admitted having "great expectations and hope" for the success of the dialogue and said he sees it as "a very positive sign of good will from the rebels as well as from the new government." He added, "All of us want peace and we hope we can finally achieve it this time." Archbishop Giraldo revealed that the Colombian bishops started to discreetly prepare for the meeting of Mainz in 1996 "when I visited the president of the German Bishops' Conference, who help us to prepare this event."
Two weeks ago, Father Jorge Martinez, the director of the Life, Justice, and Peace Committee of the Colombian Episcopate, went to Germany to prepare the Mainz meeting along with German Father Hans Langendorfer. Archbishop Giraldo also highlighted the "key participation" of German Bishop Emile Stehle, who worked for a time in Colombia and Ecuador and is not only familiar with Latin America, but speaks fluent Spanish as well.