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FRI-SAT-SUN      September 18-20, 1998      SECTION THREE       vol 9, no. 183

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Friday, September 18, 1998

Saturday, September 19, 1998

Feast of Saint Januarius, Bishop and Martyr

Observance of Blessed Virgin Mary on Saturday

SUNDAY, September 20, 1998

Though it is superceded by the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time, September 20 is the feast of Saints Andrew Kim Taegon, Paul Chong Hasang, and companion Martyrs:

Saints Andrew Kim Taegon, Paul Chong Hasang, and Companion Martyrs

Monday, September 21, 1998



     This weekend's prayer is taken from the Opening Prayer of the Mass honoring Saint Januarius, followed by another prayer to the martyred bishop:

O God, Who dost make us glad by the yearly festival of Thy Holy Martyrs, Januarius and his Companions; mercifully grant that we who rejoice in their merits, may be inspired by the example of their lives. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.


with a Catholic slant provided by
Catholic World News Service



      PITTSBURGH ( - Bishop Donald Wuerl of Pittsburgh told children in his diocese this week that, despite the best efforts of President Bill Clinton's defenders to say otherwise, there really is a right and wrong in moral matters.

      In a letter entitled "Right and Wrong" addressed to the youth and published in the September 18 issue of the official diocesan newspaper, Pittsburgh Catholic, Bishop Wuerl said that right and wrong is "determined by God's law, not public opinion polls ... and we have to be courageous enough to admit our sins and accept correction." He added, "The message is a clear one. There is right and wrong. God's law is our norm. Morality and integrity are very important in our personal lives and the life of this nation."

      The bishop wrote that "aside from the political and legal issues there are serious moral matters" involved in the investigation of Clinton. "The fact that the moral dimension of the President's conduct has been so obscured in the frantic effort to defend him calls for some clarification, especially for our young people who look to public figures for an example of how one is to live." Bishop Wuerl also called on all the faithful to reaffirm the truths of sexual morality and true love.

      "Do not be deceived by the recent polls that show a general complacency of a large segment of the population with so-called 'inappropriate' sexual activity," Bishop Wuerl added. "... When you read or hear that some people view infidelity, adultery, and fornication as personal choices that are no one else's business, remember, those actions are wrong no matter who does them. 'Recreational' sex is immoral and destructive. It is not a private, personal activity that affects only two people; it is one that impacts all of us."


      VATICAN ( -- As the Vatican prepares to host a conference on the Inquisition, the Italian historian Rino Cammilleri gave his own thoughts on the subject in an interview broadcast on Vatican Radio yesterday. The interview coincided with the 500th anniversary of the death of the Spanish Dominican Tomas de Torquemada.

      Cammilleri said that the world's perception of the Inquisition has been exaggerated, since the number of those who were executed has been grossly inflated by anti-Catholic propaganda. He also pointed out that the Spanish Inquisition had saved that country from the witchcraft scares which plagued the rest of Europe in that era.

      "At the time, at the dawn of modernity, when almost all of northern Europe-- and particularly Protestant Europe-- was hunting witches, that phenomenon was non-existent in Spain," Cammilleri noted. He pointed out that the Dominicans who ran the Inquisition, with their thorough training in scholastic theology, did not believe the claims of those who said they had been harmed by witches.

      As for the "Black Legend" which characterized the Spanish Inquisition as a "death machine," the historian observed that Protestant groups rebelling against the Spanish regime of that day took pains to exaggerate the effects.

      The Spanish Inquisition was undertaken at a time when the country faced the real threat of civil war, Cammilleri continued. Having recently unified the nation, the Catholic rulers were confronted with two powerful minority groups, Muslims and Jews, whose loyalty to the regime was questionable. Since converts to Catholicism were considered reliable subjects, the regime called upon the Church to investigate false conversions, thus giving rise to the Spanish Inquisition.

      The role of Tomas de Torquemada in the Inquisition was also discussed in the Vatican Radio interview. Torquemada, the personal confessor to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, was asked to reorganize the Inquisition in 1483. He would later be presented to history-- as in Verdi's opera Don Carlos-- as a bloody executioner. But in fact he was a man of modest habits, scrupulously fair to the process of the Inquisition.

      When a Vatican Radio interviewer questioned whether it was possible to reconcile Torquemada's use of force with the message of the Gospel, the Jesuit historian Mario Fois intervened. It is an anachronism, he said, to speak of "freedom of belief" during that era; at the time, prior to the Enlightenment, it was taken for granted that Catholics would adhere to the teachings of the Church. Heretics were prosecuted, therefore, because they endangered the salvation of souls. Father Fois emphasized that "the conception of ecclesial and social community" was totally different in that era. "We must understand that the mentality and the social sensibility were completely different from our own," he said.


      VATICAN ( -- Father Heinz-Wilhelm Steckling was elected yesterday to be the new superior general of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. The German priest was elected on the first ballot by the 113 members of the order's chapter general, meeting in Rome.

      Father Steckling was born in 1947 and made his perpetual vows in 1973. After ordination in 1974 he was sent to Paraguay, where he worked as a missionary among the Guarani Indians, eventually becoming the provincial for the Oblates in that region. In 1986 he opened a house for discernment of vocations, and in 1992 was elected assistant general.

      As superior general, Father Steckling succeeds Msgr. Marcello Zago, who is also the secretary of the Vatican's Congregation for Evangelization. Msgr. Zago had reached the end of his second term in that office.

      The Oblates of Mary Immaculate were founded in 1816 by St. Eugene de Mazenod, then the Archbishop of Marseilles. Today the order has 4,900 members, working in 68 countries.


      PARIS ( - The French bishops' conference on Thursday warned that a proposed law granting full legal rights to unmarried people living together could undermine the fabric of society.

      The so-called "civil solidarity pact" would grant the same social and tax rights to heterosexual and homosexual couples that married couples now enjoy. "It is not necessary to put a new statute on the legislation books that risks further destroying the idea of being a couple and a family," the bishops said. They also dismissed attempts to say the measure would bring the law into line with modern life in France, saying marriage is fundamental to society. "It is not a simple contract or private affair but constitutes one of the fundamental pillars of society ... Marriage should be appreciated as a privileged alliance between a man and a woman," they said.

      About 13,000 mayors of French cities and towns have signed petitions refusing to officiate the "solidarity pacts" as provided in the law, forcing a change to require the pact to take place in court clerks' offices. The mayors said they feared they would be forced to officiate at "gay marriages." The bishops warned that legalized same-sex marriage is a possible goal of some of the law's promoters.

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.

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September 18-20, 1998 volume 9, no. 183   DAILY CATHOLIC