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May 15-17, 1998             SECTION TWO              vol 9, no. 95

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Events This Weekend 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 15:

Historical Events in Church Annals for May 16:

Historical Events in Church Annals for May 17:

WORLDWIDE NEWS & VIEWS with a Catholic slant

provided by Catholic World
News Service



      VATICAN ( -- On Wednesday, May 13, which marked the anniversary of the 1981 attempt on his life, Pope John Paul II again told a Vatican audience that he owed his survival to the intercession of Our Lady of Fatima. Meanwhile his would-be assassin, Mehmet Ali Agca, issued a statement from his prison cell, saying, "the most important thing is my freedom." And Sara-- the baby whom the Pope was reaching out to embrace when the bullets struck-- said the event had "shaped my life."

      At his regular weekly public audience, the Holy Father-- who is approaching his 78th birthday-- offered his thanks to all the faithful who had prayed for him on the day of the attack, and mentioned his special filial devotion to the Virgin of Fatima. He repeated the aspiration which he had used to begin his pontificate: "Totus tuus, Maria!"

      Agca, who is serving a life sentence, has reasoned that since in fact he did not kill anyone, who should now be released. His jailers report that he has been a "model prisoner."

      Sara-- whose name has not been made public, but who is now a young woman of 18-- told an Italian television audience that it was "an honor" to have been partially responsible for the Pope's survival. John Paul had leaned over to hand her back to her mother when Agca, partially spoiling the aim of his attacker.

      At a liturgy also on Wednesday, the Holy Father voiced his regrets that bishops from mainland China had been barred by the Beijing government from attending the sessions, and expressed his hope that the Church in China would be "authorized to have more contacts with the universal Church." The Pope also pointed out that Asia has a special place in the Church, as the place where Jesus walked on earth, and emphasized that the salvation won by Christ is offered equally to all of the world's peoples.

      The Holy Father presided today-- the feast of St. Matthew-- at a Eucharistic liturgy which marked the formal closing of the synod assembly. The Asian synod had opened in Rome on April 19.

      In his homily, as he discussed the challenges that face the Church in Asia, the Pope explained, "I cannot fail to mention the Chinese nation, which is the most numerous." But he thanked the Catholics of that country who-- despite oppression-- have remained loyal to the Holy See.

      The Pope thanked all of the Asian bishops for their contributions to the synod, and observed that it was in Asia that Jesus had wrought the work of "salvation for all peoples."

      The closing liturgy of the synod included a variety of Asian elements. The Prayers of the Faithful were read by Chinese, Hindi, Thai, Filipino, and Japanese Catholics; the music was predominantly Asia, including a Tamil chorale at the entry procession and a Gloria from the Philippines. The Gospel was read according to the Syro-Malabar rite, which is found mainly in southern India.

      The Pope, alluding to the role of Asia in the development of the early Church, commented that the Asian synod could be viewed as "a sort of appendix to the Acts of the Apostles."


      VATICAN ( -- Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone, the secretary for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has said that the Church needs to "rediscover the alphabet of the faith," because today there is "profound insecurity" about the actual content of Church doctrine, and confusion has made it difficult for Catholics to understand one another.

      Archbishop Bertone made his remarks in an interview with the Italian monthly Ricerca, published by an organization of Catholic university students. He said that a common language of faith, which could unite all Catholics on the basics of doctrine, had been lost. The problem, he said, inhibits not only ecumenical dialogue, but even discussions among Catholics.


      WASHINGTON, DC ( - Just days after promising pro-family conservative groups to step up support of key social issues, Republican congressional leaders pushed forward a bill on Wednesday that would make it illegal to transport a girl under 18 years old across state lines for an abortion to avoid parental notification laws.

      The ban would not apply if the girl's life is in danger. Supporters of the bill say it is necessary to protect parental rights and vulnerable girls, while critics claimed girls from dysfunctional homes would suffer. The Clinton administration said the president is reviewing the bill and has not decided whether he would sign it. A spokesman said the bill raises constitutional, enforcement, and policy questions. Twenty-nine states require permission from a parent, guardian, or judge before a girl can undergo an abortion.

      GOP leaders have said they will put the measure on the fast track in the House and Senate. "I would think that virtually every member of the House and Senate should find it possible to protect 13-year-olds and should find it possible to protect the parents' right to know and give consent by voting for this legislation," House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Georgia, said. Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Mississippi, joined other Republicans to criticize abortion clinics for advertising the lack of parental notification laws or waiting periods in their states, which they said encourages people to try to circumvent the laws.

      In a related story out of Sioux Falls, the South Dakota legislature has passed a bill to go into effect on July 1 that would protect pharmacists who refuse to prescribe drugs that can be used for abortion, suicide, or euthanasia.

      The law, the first of its kind in the US, would shield pharmacists from being sued or fired for refusing to dispense certain drugs. The measure stems from cases such as that of Jeff Gallagher who was told last year to comply with his clinic's policy of providing rape victims with so-called "morning after" pills that induce spontaneous abortions. Gallagher said his religious beliefs as a Catholic conflicted with the order and successfully appealed to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

      Although critics said the law would interfere with the doctor-patient relationship by allowing the pharmacist to second-guess a physician's orders, supporters said pharmacists make judgments about prescriptions all the time, such as making sure a drug does not interact with other medication the patient is taking.


      NICOSIA ( - Cyprus was warned by a Council of Europe official that it has no choice but to legalize homosexuality, because the ban conflicts with a 1993 European Court of Justice ruling that says it violates human rights.

      "Cyprus has no choice, no real choice in fact," Hans Christian Kruger, Deputy Secretary General of the 40-nation Council of Europe, said during a sports ministers' meeting in Nicosia. Government officials agreed with Kruger, but parliament has refused to repeal the 99-year-old law. "This is an international obligation which the country has and must comply with ... You can prolong it here and there, but not in the long run," Kruger told Reuters. "I believe that this country, with a solid human rights record, would not wish to be in breach of the European Convention of Human rights."

      Under the law enacted in 1889, homosexuals can be imprisoned for up to seven years, but Cypriot officials said the law is rarely, if ever, enforced today. Homosexual activists complained its mere existence is enough to be concerned. Kruger said that if the law is not changed this year, Cyprus could face negative repercussions, including expulsion from the Council of Europe.

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.


"Train a boy in the way he should go; even when he is old, he will not swerve from it."

Proverbs 23: 6

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May 15-17, 1998 volume 9, no. 95   DAILY CATHOLIC