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THURSDAY      October 29, 1998      SECTION TWO       vol 9, no. 212

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NEWS & VIEWS with a Catholic slant

provided by Catholic World News Service



      VATICAN ( -- As he closed his weekly public audience in St. Peter's Square today, Pope John Paul II asked the faithful to join him in prayer for three particular intentions: for the cause of ecumenism in Romania, for an end to the suffering of the people of Guinea-Bissau, and for progress toward "honorable and peaceful solutions" to the warfare in Congo.

      The Pope's audience centered on the Holy Spirit, "who gives life" and "victory over death." He said that the Holy Spirit, active in believers throughout their lives, continues to work in them after death, "as he conducts us on our final voyage to the Father."

      But as he closed his catechetical talk, the Holy Father turned to the three concerns for which he would ask special prayers. He told the audience that a mixed commission of Church leaders from the Romanian Orthodox and Romanian Catholic churches would begin meeting today, and prayed that their discussions would bear fruit. The key point of contention between the two religious bodies involves the disposition of parish properties which were confiscated from the Eastern-rite Catholic churches in Romania by the old Communist government, and now remain in the hands of the Orthodox Church. A mutually acceptable resolution of this question is regarded as a precondition for a papal trip to Romania. The Pope has made it clear that he would like to make such a trip-- which would be his first visit to a predominantly Orthodox country.

      Regarding Guinea-Bissau, the Pope spoke of the "immense displacement of population" which has occurred during four months of civil warfare. He observed that Catholic missionaries have been caught up in the fighting, which has produced a flood of refugees.

      In Congo, the Holy Father continued, another civil war has produced "tragic and destructive effects" throughout the country. Noting also that neighboring countries had become involved in the Congo fighting, he urged the crowd in St. Peter's Square, "Let us together raise a fervent supplication to the Queen of Peace," asking her help to find a peaceful solution to the conflict.


      VATICAN ( -- A long-awaited international symposium on the Inquisition will convene in Rome this weekend, with 30 scholars from different disciplines participating in the discussions.

      This will be the second symposium of its kind organized by the special Vatican committee charged with preparations for the Jubilee Year 2000. Last year the Vatican hosted a conference on "the Christian origins of anti-Judaism." These discussions are a response to the challenge issued by Pope John Paul II, in Tertio Millennio Adveniente, for an "examination of conscience" regarding the history of Christianity.

      Father Georges Cottier, the theologian of the pontifical household, will be among the first people to address the symposium. He told a Vatican Radio interviewer that a primary purpose of the meeting will be to establish a factual basis for the discussion, setting the Inquisition in the proper historical context. The Inquisition, he added, was a reaction to a real menace: the heresies which threatened to destroy Christian unity. In that regard, he said, the problem was not unlike the dangers posed by "dangerous ideas" in today's world; he mentioned in particular the threat of anti- Semitism.

      However, Father Cottier continued, it is legitimate to raise the question of whether force-- including torture and the death penalty- - can be reconciled with the Gospel. Over time, Christians concluded that they could not. But that understanding had not been developed at the time of the Inquisition, he observed.


      BOGOTA ( - A priest in Colombia said on Tuesday that parishioners who show up to Mass wearing skimpy or inappropriate clothing will be refused Communion.

      Father Glotario Emer, pastor of San Luis Beltran Church in Baranquilla, said: "I'm not demanding that they dress in luxury, just decently. He added that there were theological reasons to demand certain minimum standards of dress. "A low cut blouse is one thing. But if it's a cut where you can see the breasts, and where the belly is shown, I think it's inconsiderate for people to dress like that," he said.

      He also cited instances of parishioners showing up to Mass "in slippers, gym shorts, undershirts, and sometimes almost in their pajamas." Father Emer said he understood that the tropical heat drives people to seek relief, but added that the faithful must observe a degree of solemnity and respect.


      NEW YORK ( - A pro-abortion activist group on Tuesday released a new report that blames Christians for trying to rewrite the US Constitution and limiting "women's reproductive rights."

      The Center for Reproductive Law and Policy pointed out the 12 pro-life lobbying groups have raised more than $40 million annually in recent years, giving them "disproportionate clout in the public sphere." The center also claimed that all of the groups have a hidden agenda. "Every one (of these groups), when you really scratch the surface ... they have an agenda that's Christian-based, their goal is to change the constitution to become a Christian constitution," said Janet Benshoof, the report's editor.

      The report singled out broadcaster Pat Robertson and his Regent University, Christian Broadcasting Network, and American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) as trying to destroy the concept of the separation of church and state. Benshoof called ACLJ "one of the biggest and best-funded of the new crop of public interest law firms formed by the Christian right, and arguably the most influential."

      The center's report also highlighted the National Right to Life Committee and a dozen other pro-life groups, citing their connections to religious organizations and warning of the attempt to creat a virtual theocracy in the US.

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.


"The prating of some men is like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise is healing."

Proverbs 12: 18

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October 29, 1998 volume 9, no. 212   DAILY CATHOLIC