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May 13, 1998             SECTION TWO              vol 9, no. 93

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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 May 13:

WORLDWIDE NEWS & VIEWS with a Catholic slant

provided by Catholic World
News Service



      VATICAN ( -- Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was today installed as a Commander in the French Legion of Honor, in a ceremony at the French embassy in Rome. In accepting the honor, the cardinal said that he had always admired French culture, and mentioned his youthful acquaintance with Claudel, Bernanos, Mauriac, Peguy, Anouilh, and Sartre. But he saved his highest plaudits from the theologian Henri de Lubac, calling him "the embodiment of true Christian humanism."

      The French ambassador, Jean-Louis Lucet, saluted Cardinal Ratzinger for his own work in theology, and for his work on behalf of the Church in France-- which he characterized as "sometimes turbulent, always passionate." He told the cardinal, "thanks to people with your qualities-- thinkers of your depth and high spirituality-- the friendship between France and Germany is stronger and livelier."


      POLAND ( - The Austrian Catholic news agency "Kathpress" reported on Friday that the apostolic nuncio to Poland, Archbishop Jozef Kowalczyk, wrote to both of the Ukrainian Catholic bishops in Poland, Ivan Martyniak and Teodor Maykovic asking them to remove legally married Eastern-rite Catholic priests from Poland.

      Kathpress said the demand came from Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano. The move caused considerable commotion both in Poland and Ukraine. According to canon law for Churches of the Eastern Rite, the ordination of married men is allowed. However, the reported request from the Vatican says that the paragraph of the canon law governing the issue is valid only in traditionally Eastern-rite countries, but not in the countries where Eastern-rite Catholics have immigrated. If true, the directive would mean married Eastern-rite Catholic priests would be able to continue their pastoral work in Ukraine, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, Croatia, Bosnia-Hercegovina, Bulgaria, Serbia, and Macedonia, but not in Poland.

      The problem arises from the fact that the border between Poland and Ukraine has changed a number of times over several centuries, so it is a question of how to define the traditional regions of Eastern-rite Catholics. Archbishop Ljubomir Husar of Ukraine said the directive from the Vatican is "absolutely strange" since the activities of legally married and ordained Eastern-rite priests have been questioned before. He also said the directive is surprising since the Latin-rite in the neighboring Czech Republic received permission for the ordination of married men when Catholic Church had to exist underground until the fall of Communism. After the end of Communism, a special Eastern-rite diocese was erected so that these married priests could continue their ministry under the canon law for the Eastern rite.


      VATICAN ( -- The special Synod of Bishops for Asia has produced 52 propositions, encapsulating the efforts of the participating bishops to summarize the challenges facing the Church in that continent.

      After electing the members of a post-synodal council which will be charged with the task of editing the recommendations, so that they can be incorporated by Pope John Paul II into a an apostolic exhortation, the synod considered a series of amendments to the recommendations. A final statement from the synod, addressed to the peoples of Asia, will also be released on May 13, at the formal closing of the Synod.

      Along with a number of issues that confront the Church throughout the world, the Asian synod included recommendations regarding the specific situations in China, Iraq, and Jerusalem, as well as more general recommendations about countries where Christians suffer persecution. The synod also took up the need for a "gradual" approach to evangelization in Asia, and the still more delicate issue of relations between local churches (including those of the Eastern rites) and Rome.

      The difficulties facing the Church in China were on the minds of participants throughout the synod, particularly because the Church of mainland China was not represented; the Beijing government had refused permission for bishops invited by Pope John Paul II to travel to Rome. Hong Kong's Bishop Tong Hon, a frequent visitor to the mainland, had emphasized the need to achieve a reconciliation between the underground Church loyal to Rome and the government-backed Patriotic Association.

      The question of peace in the Middle East, and the more precise question of the status of Jerusalem, also arose frequently. The bishops of the Middle East emphasized the fact that Christianity was born in their region, and that they represent the "Mother Churches" which produced the "younger" churches of the Far East. Finally, the synod heard an impassioned plea from Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Bidawad of Baghdad for an end to the embargo on Iraq, which he said is hurting the nation's people without affecting the regime.

      On the question of the "gradual" spread of the Gospel, Bishop Valerian D'Souza of Poona, India, reported that all of the working groups of the Asian synod agreed on the need to proclaim the reign of Christ "without arrogance," and to avoid "intellectual categories which people do not understand." It is better, he stressed, to use "Asian categories"-- and better still to use the language of the Bible, which reflects the mentality of Asians, and which he pointed out "is how it all started."

      Bishop D'Souza explained that the need to avoid "arrogance" reflects the reality that most Asians are reluctant to accept Jesus as the sole savior of the world; the indigenous religions of the continent, which recognize many deities, inculcate a very different outlook. For that reason, he said, Catholics must avoid judgments and condemnations of other faiths, and emphasize inter-religious dialogue. He also pointed to the difficult position of "Christians of desire" in some Asian countries-- people who want to accept the faith, but fear that they might be disowned by their families (in Hindu societies) or even prosecuted for blasphemy (in Muslim regimes) if they are baptized.

      The discussion of the relations between local churches and Rome was a source of tension during the synod. Some bishops of the Eastern- rite churches stressed their separate liturgical and even theological traditions, and the importance of preserving their autonomy as a means of encouraging dialogue with the Orthodox churches. Other bishops lamented the habit of imposing European cultural traditions on their native lands.


      PHILADELPHIA ( - Philadelphia's City Council bowed to a five-year campaign by homosexual activists on Thursday and agreed to enact a series of ordinances that extend health and pension benefits to same-sex partners of city employees, that exempt same-sex partners from the real estate transfer tax, and that ban on-the-job discrimination based on marital status.

      Mayor Edward Rendell has said he will sign the measure. Same-sex partners of city employees would qualify for the benefits after proving they are in a "life partnership," including share bank accounts, dual property ownership, and insurance beneficiary designation.

      Religious leaders, including Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, oppose the measures saying they are part of an effort to get around laws against same-sex marriage.

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.


"He sins who despises the hungry; but happy is he who is kind to the poor!"

Proverbs 14: 21

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May 13, 1998 volume 9, no. 93   DAILY CATHOLIC