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June 1, 1998             SECTION TWO              vol 9, no. 105

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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 June 1:

WORLDWIDE NEWS & VIEWS with a Catholic slant

provided by Catholic World News Service



      VATICAN ( -- Pope John Paul II Friday underlined the urgent need for dialogue between Christianity and Islam, which he saw as necessary to the building of peace for future generations.

      The Pope's statement greeted the signing of an accord which created a committee bringing together representatives of the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue with representatives of the al- Azhar University in Cairo. The accord also condemned "religious fanaticism" and all forms of hatred, violence, and terrorism.

      As he received the members of the joint committee in a private audience on Friday, Pope John Paul said that what lies at stake in the search for inter-religious understanding is "the peace of the world." Acknowledging that progress toward mutual agreement might be slow, he added that future generations would be grateful for the effort. "The long history of relations between Christians and Muslims has its highlights and its shadows," the Holy Father observed. Now the task that remains is to recognize differences and establish a climate of mutual respect, he said.

      The new accord is particularly significant because the al-Azhar University is recognized as the leading authority in the Sunni branch of Islam. The two-page agreement was signed by the second leading official of that university, along with Cardinal Francis Arinze, the head of the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue.


      VATICAN ( -- Israeli government authorities have once again rejected a plea by Pope John Paul II for international guarantees to protect the status of Jerusalem.

      "A united Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and will remain under our authority," an unnamed government spokesman told the Italian news agency ANSA. He added that "access to the holy places is free to the faithful of all religions, and Israel hopes that such freedoms will always be respected."

      The comments from the Israeli government came after the Holy Father, in a statement to the new ambassador of Jordan, reiterated his position that Jerusalem should be under international sovereignty, so that the holy places of the world's three great monotheistic religions would always be protected. The Pope had indicated that he hoped such guarantees might be in place by the year 2000.

      Pope John Paul II will meet with Yasser Arafat, the head of the Palestinian National Authority, at the Vatican on June 12. Their conversations are expected to touch on the stalled Middle East peace process in general, and the status of Jerusalem in particular.

      The Palestinian leader's visit will mark his fifth meeting with the Pope. The announcement of his trip to Rome comes soon after a series of significant meetings with American diplomatic leaders, aimed at bringing new life to the peace process.


      BUENOS AIRES ( - Jack Fuchs, an Argentine Jewish leader and survivor of the Auschwitz Nazi concentration camp, said on Thursday: "In Poland, Catholics were also the object of hate and persecution from the Nazis."

      Fuchs was invited to speak at the Buenos Aires Catholic Cathedral in an interfaith service presided over by Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio and attended by US rabbi Joseph Ehrenkranz. "At least 25% of Polish Catholics were tortured or murdered by the Nazis during the occupation of Poland," said Fuchs. "Another memorial to remember so many Catholics murdered for opposing the barbaric Nazi regime should also be built," he added, referring to the mural recently built in Buenos Aires to remember the Jews murdered during the Shoah.

      "In Poland, Nazism not only targeted Judaism, but also Russians and, of course, militant Catholics," said Fuchs, who lived in the Jewish ghetto of Lodz until his family was jailed in Auschwitz. His two parents and two sisters died at the concentration camp. Fuchs, who at 74 has been honored by the Catholic Church in Argentina, said in a conversation with the Argentine Catholic News Agency: "My life is a paradox. I did not deserve that much rejection as a youngster, and I don't think I deserve this much honor as an elder."


      MANILA ( - A joint session of the Philippine Congress on Friday named former film star Joseph Estrada as the winner of presidential elections on May 11.

      Estrada's candidacy had been opposed by senior Church officials, including Cardinal Jaime Sin of Manila, who cited widely circulated stories of the actor's habit of keeping many different female companions and public drinking. Estrada tried to leave the campaign conflicts behind as he accepted the results. "It will be a tough, long six years. I need every support and help I can get ... Of course I am very proud ... but I can foresee the problems I'll be facing as president of this country," he said. He takes office on June 30.

      Estrada has named most of his cabinet and laid out his program for the next six years, which includes continuing President Fidel Ramos' economic reforms, focusing on agriculture and ending rampant crime and violence.


      NEW YORK ( - A Manhattan theater reversed its decision on Thursday and announced that it will now go ahead with a planned production of a controversial play that depicts a homosexual Christ-like figure named Joshua who has a sexual relationship with his 12 disciples.

      The Manhattan Theater Club initially canceled production of playwright Terence McNally's "Corpus Christi," citing security concerns over threats concerning the play. But the New York theater community responded with condemnation of the club, calling the move censorship. The club responded by renewing production of the play, saying: "In our 25-year history, we have never censored a play nor turned a play down because of content. The only issue for us has been safety and security."

      The Catholic League for Civil and Religious Rights, which has denounced the use of threats or violence, had led initial condemnations of the play as blasphemous and insulting to Christians. Trans World Airlines dropped its financial support of the theater over the play. "We will simply continue to publicly challenge their moral right to put on something that is this offensive to Christians," Catholic League spokesman Rick Hinshaw said after learning of the theater club's latest decision.

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.

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June 1, 1998 volume 9, no. 105   DAILY CATHOLIC