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WEDNESDAY      October 7, 1998      SECTION TWO       vol 9, no. 196

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Events Today in Church History

     Today we commemorate the great Victory at Lepanto in which the undermanned Christian fleet, through the intercession of countless Rosaries, defeated the superior Turkish armada thus ending the threat of Islamism in Europe. For other events throughout the centuries that are memorable in Church history today, click on MILLENNIUM MILESTONES AND MEMORIES

Historical Events in Church Annals for October 7:

Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary

WORLDWIDE NEWS & VIEWS with a Catholic slant

provided by Catholic World News Service



      VATICAN ( -- The Vatican today announced the postponement of a private meeting between Pope John Paul II and the Lutheran Archbishop K. G. Hammar of Sweden, which had been originally scheduled for October 10.

      The announcement appears to reflect the shock felt by Catholics in Sweden when the archbishop-- the head of the Lutheran Church in that country-- announced his support for church recognition of homosexual unions.

      Joaquin Navarro-Valls, the director of the Vatican press office, said that the papal audience had been postponed in view of "recent events in Stockholm, and the public discussions they have provoked." It seemed prudent, he said, to schedule the meeting for a later date.

      In addition to his public backing of proposals for blessing homosexual unions, Archbishop Hammar had drawn fire in Sweden by authorizing a photographic exhibit, displayed in his cathedral, which included a parody of the Last Supper, in which the apostles were dressed as women and Jesus himself wore spike-heeled boots.

      In a press conference of his own, held in Upsala, Archbishop Hammar said that his audience with the Pope had been postponed at the request of Swedish Catholics. He added that he would not change his public stance, regardless of the Vatican's displeasure.

      For his part, Navarro-Valls said that a new date for the audience would be set upon agreement between the two parties.


      WASHINGTON, DC ( - The US Supreme Court on Monday turned away an appeal by some Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Catholics of a lower court decision that allows the Diocese of Pittsburgh to close six parishes.

      The six parishes were closed and merged with other parishes as part of a diocesan reorganization in 1988 necessitated by changing demographics, a diocesan spokesman said. A coalition of parishioners filed the first of several lawsuits in 1994 to block the closings. Last year, the US Supreme Court turned away a similar appeal of a ruling that the closings are an internal Church matter.

      Father Ronald Lengwin, diocesan secretary for pastoral life, said he hopes that this most recent decision ends the matter conclusively. "It is our hope that those persons involved in the suits would accept the reconciliation offered many times by the diocese over the past several years, and join with their follow Catholics in the effort of spiritual renewal," Father Lengwin added.

      Father Lengwin emphasized that the reorganization process had been undertaken with due deliberation involving every member of the affected parishes. When some parish members objected to the conclusions, he said, they were also allowed to appeal via ecclesiastical channels, but were ultimately unsatisfied when even the Vatican upheld the decision and turned to the secular courts.


      VATICAN ( -- Two Catholic priests-- Fathers Hilary Boma and Lino Sebit-- have been tortured in Sudanese prisons, the Vatican news agency Fides announced today.

      Father Boma reportedly told four other Sudanese priests about the torture when he met them in a Khartoum jail on October 1. He said that he had been tortured, and that he had signed a "confession" of crimes against the state in order to stop the torture of Father Sebit.

      The news report from Fides came as a tribunal in Khartoum began prosecution of the two priests, and 18 other people, for allegedly participating in a dynamite attack in Khartoum last June 30. Father Boma is also accused of involvement in the Popular Army for the Liberation of Sudan (SPLA); he is being identified by government prosecutors as the head of a ring of rebels who, by their bombing attack, sought to disrupt electrical power in Khartoum. And Father Boma is further accused of orchestrating attempts on the lives of government leaders.

      The 20 defendants will be tried before a court of 3 judges: an engineer, a lawyer, and a military officer. Among those 20 defendants, 18 are Christians. All of the defendants were present when the court opened its first session, except Father Boma. He appeared later, appeared "tired," according to one eyewitness. After a short hearing, at which the accused designated their lawyers, the trial was adjourned until October 13.


      BEIJING ( - The Communist Chinese government on Monday signed a United Nations treaty enshrining human rights standards for the most populous country in the world.

      Human rights groups and foreign governments welcomed the decision, but advocated prudent observation for signs that China will uphold its pledge. "Since China is currently in violation of almost every article of the covenant, we hope its decision to sign indicates a change in human rights practices," said Sidney Jones of Human Rights Watch. "The test will be in the implementation."

      The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights defines the right of self-determination, prohibits torture, and provides for freedom of movement, religion, expression, and association. A Chinese government spokesman said he did not know when the treaty would be ratified by the government. Spokesman Zhu Bangzao said legislative ratification "takes time."

      Meanwhile to the north in Moscow, even as NATO countries tempered their threats of military action as Serbian forces withdrew from the breakaway Balkan province of Kosovo, Russia warned on Tuesday that it would veto any move by the United Nations to authorize air strikes.

      President Boris Yeltsin warned NATO that the use of force in the region would cause a serious diplomatic breach with Russia. Serbian police and military forces have been accused of human rights atrocities in Kosovo against the ethnic Albanian majority as it seeks to quell a rising independence movement. Yeltsin engaged in telephone diplomacy as he talked with German Chancellor-elect Gerhard Schroeder, US President Bill Clinton, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, and French President Jacques Chirac.

      As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, Russia holds a binding veto vote against any resolution that comes before the body. "(Russia) would definitely use its right of veto," Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov told Interfax news agency when asked how it would react if the matter was raised at the UN Security Council. "A military strike will not help normalize the situation but will have the opposite effect," he said.

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.


"Let not kindness and fidelity leave you; bind them around your neck; then will you win favor and good esteem before God and man."

Proverbs 3: 3-4

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October 7, 1998 volume 9, no. 196   DAILY CATHOLIC