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MONDAY             June 8, 1998             SECTION TWO              vol 9, no. 110

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WORLDWIDE NEWS & VIEWS with a Catholic slant

provided by Catholic World News Service



      VATICAN ( -- According to the Italian news agency ANSA, the new papal encyclical to be released this autumn will be entitled Fides et Ratio-- Faith and Reason.

      This would be the 13th encyclical by Pope John Paul II. If it is indeed published in the autumn months, that publication come alongside the expected canonization of Edith Stein, the Jewish philosopher who became a Carmelite nun, whose work on the relationship between faith and reason has earned the Pope's explicit praise.

      According to the ANSA report, the encyclical discusses two key problems in contemporary thought: the technique of "methodological doubt" and the "neo-Gnostic" tendencies sometimes associated with New Age ideology. Through the use of methodological doubt, the Pope argues (according to ANSA), philosophers seek to put man in the center of the cosmos, as the arbiter of all truth, and with the capacity for total domination of his world. On the other hand the neo-Gnostic impulse-- often mixing elements of music and Asian religions-- suggests some "universal energy" rather than a Creator God.

      Each of these approaches contradicts the essence of Christian philosophy, the Pope argues. The ANSA report notes that Pope John Paul himself is trained as an academic philosopher, and has always paid careful attention to the latest developments in the field.


     BEIJING ( - Communist China on Friday warned the Vatican not to interfere in its internal affairs after the Fides news agency announced on Thursday that it is launching a Chinese-language service aimed at Internet-savvy Chinese Catholics.

      "China hopes the Vatican will not use media and the Internet to interfere in China's internal affairs, including China's religious affairs," a foreign ministry spokesman said by telephone. Fides, the news agency of the Vatican Congregation for Evangelization, said the service is intended to spread news about the underground Catholic Church in China. Catholic Chinese are required by law to belong to state-sanctioned Patriotic Catholic Association which rejects certain Catholic doctrines, including the authority of the pope.

      The first official edition of the Chinese service, online at (, included news about the political crisis in Indonesia and the nuclear tests in India, Fides said.


      WASHINGTON, DC ( - Attorney General Janet Reno will tell federal drug enforcement agents not to investigate any doctors who prescribe medication in connection with Oregon's doctor-assisted suicide law, Justice Department officials said on Friday.

       The sources said Reno and President Clinton still oppose assisted suicide, but Reno decided that the Drug Enforcement Agency does not have authority under the federal Controlled Substances Act to take action against Oregon doctors who provide lethal doses of medicine for terminally ill patients in ways that conform to the Oregon state law. The officials said the DEA disagreed with that conclusion.

       Lori Houghens of the National Right To Life Committee in Washington, called Reno's decision tragic and horrible. "We think for this government, for this Justice Department to pull the safety net out from under the most vulnerable people in our society, people who are terminally ill, people with severe disabilities, we think it's unconscionable, and right now we call on Congress to act promptly to prevent any more tragic deaths in Oregon," she said.

       After the Oregon law was passed by voters the Justice
Department began reviewing its jurisdiction over assisted suicide. Dozens of members of Congress called on Reno to accept an interpretation of the Controlled Substances Act that would disqualify assisted suicide as a "legitimate medical purpose" of drugs.


     WASHINGTON, DC ( - The proposed Religious Freedom Amendment was defeated in the US House on Thursday by 61 votes, but supporters were upbeat despite the loss saying that just getting a vote was a kind of victory.

     "We consider it a victory to have had this vote, the first of its kind in the House in 27 years," said Randy Tate, executive director of the Christian Coalition. Rep. Ernest Istook, R-Oklahoma, sponsored the amendment which specifically states that governments cannot endorse or establish any religion, "but the people's right to pray and to recognize their religious beliefs, heritage, or traditions on public property, including schools, shall not be infringed." The House voted 224-203 in favor of the amendment, but short of the two-thirds majority necessary.

     The Clinton administration opposed the amendment, saying it was unnecessary since religious freedom, especially in public schools, was already protected under federal guidelines. But Istook said three decades of judicial decisions and bureaucratic mandates have weakened the ability to be publicly religious, and cited instances where schools have forbade children from praying before meals or carrying a Bible.

     Istook said the amendment fell short because it usually takes four or five attempts to win approval of a constitutional amendment, and "the political correctness movement has acquired a stranglehold on many members of Congress." Rep. Merrill Cook, R-Utah, lamented: "We now live in a world where birth control devices can be dispensed at public schools but a voluntary moment of silent worship is often forbidden."

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June 8, 1998 volume 9, no. 110   DAILY CATHOLIC