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May 8-10, 1998             SECTION TWO              vol 9, no. 90

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WORLDWIDE NEWS & VIEWS with a Catholic slant

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News Service



      VATICAN ( -- Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Vatican Secretary of State, presided today at the funeral for Colonel Alois Estermann, the slain commandant of the Swiss Guard, and his wife Gladys Meza Romero.

      "This is the time for pardon," the cardinal said, as he asked for "mercy" for Cedric Tornay, the Swiss Guard corporal who apparently killed the couple before committing suicide.

      Remarking that the slain commandant had attended Mass just two hours before his death, Cardinal Sodano called upon mourners to revive their "Christian hope," and to look forward to the resurrection from the dead. He called for "contemplation on the mercy of our heavenly Father, who never takes anything from his children without giving them something greater."

      Seven cardinals and 30 bishops concelebrated the funeral Mass, as the Swiss Guard in full regalia surround the casket of their fallen leader. Cardinal Sodano stressed that he was acting on behalf of the Holy Father as he conveyed his profound sympathies for the families of the victims. Turning to the members of the Swiss Guard, he added: "The Pontiff renews his thanks to you, and his gratitude for the precious service you have done for 500 years.... He hopes that this dark hour will not dampen your enthusiasm, but rather will be an occasion for still greater dedication to your important work, and greater fraternal spirit among your ranks."

      Finally the cardinal paid tribute to Colonel Estermann for his "great example of silence, fidelity, and continual generous service to the successor of Peter and the Holy See." He noted that Estermann had no fear of death-- as he had shown when he leapt to the aid of Pope John Paul II during the assassination attempt of May 1981-- and that he finished his service with a remarkable record of devotion.

      In a dramatic gesture of forgiveness, the parents of Colonel Alois Estermann today attended the funeral of Cedric Tornay, the man accused of killing their son.

      The Tornay funeral was held at St. Anne's church at the Vatican today, Bishop Amedee Grab, the head of the Swiss bishops' conference, presiding. Claudio Caratsch, the Swiss ambassador to the Holy See, also attended, as did a Vatican delegation led by Cardinal Darien Castrillon Hoyos, and a large number of uniformed Swiss Guards.

      Tornay died of a gunshot wound, evidently self-inflicted, soon after he apparently shot and killed the Swiss Guard commandant and his wife.

      At the moment of the Kiss of Peace, Tornay's parents turned to those of Alois Estermann and embraced in a sign of their mutual mourning and reconciliation.


      SARNO, Italy ( - At least 48 people are dead and 70 more are missing after mudslides slammed through towns in southern Italy on Wednesday, leaving thousands homeless and scores of villages buried in mud.

      Rescuers, assisted by the army and volunteers, continued digging through debris in villages of the Campania region south of Naples. Many children are feared to be among the dead and missing. The mudslides hit Italy just months after three earthquakes hit central Italy, killing 11 people and leaving 1,000 homeless. Days of torrential rain swept mud and topsoil off mountains and hills in the areas affected and combined to create a fast-flowing wave of mud. The end of rain and a return to warmer weather on Thursday made rescue operations more difficult as the mud begins to harden.

      Pope John Paul II called the slides a shocking disaster and said he was praying for the injured, the dead, and the missing and their families. In a telegram to the head of the bishops' conference in Campania, the Holy Father said he "shared the pain of family and friends of the victims and those still missing in the mournful effects of this shocking disaster."


      GUATEMALA CITY ( - The prime suspect in the murder of an auxiliary bishop on April 26 was formally charged on Tuesday by the presiding judge in the investigation.

      Judge Jorge Figueroa opened formal court proceedings against Carlos Enrique Vielman after the suspect made his first court appearance, pleading innocent to the murder of Bishop Juan Gerardi. The bishop was found in a pool of blood in the garage of his Guatemala City home, his head crushed by a wedge of cement. Vielman was arrested four days later. Vielman was portrayed by his attorney who is a chronic alcoholic who does not even fully understand the charges against him.

      Prosecutors said Vielman was identified by two eyewitnesses and forensic evidence. Human rights leaders have claimed that Bishop Gerardi was murdered in retaliation for releasing a report two days before his death on atrocities committed by the army and rebel forces during the 36-year-long civil war that ended in 1996.


      WASHINGTON, DC ( - The House Ways and Means Committee approved a religious persecution bill on Wednesday, after removing provisions enacting President Bill Clinton's economic sanctions against Sudan that had been approved by another committee.

      Rep. Bill Archer, R-Texas, chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, said the International Relations Committee had overstepped its jurisdiction when it had cleared attachment of the sanctions proposed by Clinton last November to the bill. He criticized the committee for deciding to "openly legislate in the jurisdiction of the Committee on Ways and Means." The Ways and Means Committee's approval of the bill also lacked a recommendation for the full House's action.

      The bill would create a special office with the State Department to monitor religious persecution worldwide and would impose economic sanctions, including denial of foreign aid and visas and a ban on exports, against countries that persecute religious minorities. Clinton has said he opposes the bill because its goals could be accomplished by other means. However, Clinton's opposition may also be due to a potential clash with China, which has consistently suppressed religious minorities and which the Clinton administration has fought to grant favored trading status. Clinton has also said the bill's mandatory sanctions would force the administration to look the other way to avoid imposing sanctions, despite the law's requirements.

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.

April 25th Medjugorje Monthly Message

   Dear children! Today I call you, through prayer, to open yourselves to God as a flower opens itself to the rays of the morning sun. Little children, do not be afraid. I am with you and I intercede before God for each of you so that your heart receives the gift of conversion. Only in this way, little children, will you comprehend the importance of grace in these times and God will become nearer to you. Thank you for having responded to my call.

For more on Medjugorje, click on MEDJUGORJE

The Essence of the Medjugorje Message

A Call To Peace from the Queen of Peace

According to the testimony of the visionaries in Medjugorje, Our Lady introduced herself: "I am the Queen of Peace" Mary is calling all of humanity to PEACE, PEACE, PEACE - for it is necessary to save all humanity. We have to begin by first creating peace within our hearts, then in our families and then in this war-threatened world. This can be done in the following manner:






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May 8-10, 1998 volume 9, no. 90   DAILY CATHOLIC