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FRI-SAT-SUN      September 25-27, 1998      SECTION THREE       vol 9, no. 188

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Events throughout the week in Church History

     For time capsule events that happened in Church history on September 25th through September 27th, click on MILLENNIUM MILESTONES

Historical Events in Church Annals for September 25:

Historical Events in Church Annals for September 26:

Historical Events in Church Annals for September 27:


with a Catholic slant provided by
Catholic World News Service


When is a Catholic University not Catholic? When it is Detroit Mercy!


      DETROIT ( - A Michigan Catholic associations this week called on Catholic lawyers to boycott the University of Detroit-Mercy's annual Red Mass next week because the judge asked to give the traditional oath is pro-abortion.

      The Call to Holiness group called the boycott after the Catholic university's president, Sister Maureen Fay, refused to revoke the invitation for Michigan Supreme Court Justice Conrad Mallett to participate in the Mass. The Red Mass is a tradition dating from the Middle Ages in which lawyers annually participate in a Mass and renew an oath to uphold Catholic teaching.

      "It is horrendously hypocritical for a jurist who favors the murder of babies to be allowed a place of prominence in a Catholic Church at a ceremony so steeped in tradition and reverence for Catholic ideals as the Red Mass," said Jay McNally, executive director of Call to Holiness. As a Michigan Supreme Court justice, Mallett has authored key opinions supporting abortion, including the requirement that the state use public funds to pay for abortions.

      Meanwhile, on the pro-life battlefront in Lawrence, Kansas a pro-life protest at the University of Kansas coinciding with the Jewish high holiday of Rosh Hoshana came under attack this week, including physical assault and an attempt to drive a car into demonstrators, university police said on Wednesday.

      A display of signs comparing legalized abortion to the Holocaust was placed on the lawn of dormitory on Sunday. Some Jewish students called the timing of the protest to coincide with the holiest day of the Jewish calendar was offensive. On Sunday, one angry student drove his car into the display, nearly hitting one student-protester. On Tuesday, another student punched a pro-lifer holding a sign. University police said both men have been arrested and charged.

      The group organizing the week-long protest said the timing of the event was a coincidence and that he felt comparisons to the Holocaust, in which 6 million Jews were killed by the Nazis, are valid. "Abortion is genocide. That's the whole point," said Gregg Cunningham, director of the Los-Angeles-based Center for Bio-Ethical Reform. "Frankly, I'm weary of genocide snobs who focus solely on their causes."

Oxford Scholar affirm Christ's tomb within Church of the Holy Sepulchre is authentic


      JERUSALEM ( - A British scholar examining Christ's tomb in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre said on Wednesday that he has determined that it contains original stone pieces dating from the time of Jesus.

      Oxford professor Martin Biddle said the current consensus among scholars was that the present-day tomb dates to changes made in the 19th century. "We are sure now that inside here are the remains of three successive houses and the original stone-cut tomb," Biddle said. He said he had conducted a 10-year analysis of models of the tombs, pilgrims' diaries dating back centuries, and other evidence. He was not allowed to conduct any excavations at the site.

      He said he believed that parts of the outer walls of the shrine dating from the fourth, 11th, and 16th centuries and stones from the original first century tomb were still inside. The study may be instrumental in providing guidance for a restoration planned for the tomb by the various religious groups that control the church.

Holy Father tabs Cardinal Kuharic as Special Papal Envoy for Croatian celebrations and Papal Visit


      VATICAN ( -- Pope John Paul II has named Cardinal Franjo Kuharic, the archbishop emeritus of Zagreb, as his special envoy to the celebrations of the 7th century of the Diocese of Sibenik, in Croatia. That milestone will be observed on September 29.

      The Holy Father himself will arrive in Croatia soon thereafter-- on October 2. This will be the Pope's second pastoral visit to Croatia. The highlight of the trip will be the beatification of another former Zagreb archbishop, Cardinal Stepanic.

Horrendous acts of violation of Indian nuns casts a pall over India


      NEW DELHI ( - Indian Catholics have been stunned and outraged by the gang-rape of four nuns and the looting of their convent. The crimes occurred early Wednesday morning in the Jhabua region of the central state of Madhya Pradesh.

      A gang of bandits forced their way into the convent, after the nuns refused their request to accompany them to someone needing medical aid, said officials of the Diocese of Isidore. The group looted the convent and gang-raped the sisters. The outraged bishops of Madhya Pradesh state agreed to close all Catholic institutions on Friday and organize a massive protest march on Sunday to demand immediate action.

      Following is further details by Anto Akkara for CWN on this terrible incident:

      Indian Catholics have been stunned and outraged by the gang-rape of four nuns and the looting of their convent. The crimes occurred early Wednesday morning in the Jhabua region of the central state of Madhya Pradesh.

      A gang of 10-15 hoodlums knocked on the door of the convent at 2 in the morning, and asked the nuns (who provide medical services to members of the tribes living in the region) to come with them to see a patient, according to Father Lucas Izidore, the secretary of the Indore diocese where the events took place. Izidore told CWN that the nuns, trouble, refused to open the door and instead bolted themselves into the convent chapel and started praying.

      The hoodlums then broke open the iron doors of the convent, and looted the convent. Later, they shouted at the nuns to open the chapel doors, promising that they would not harm them. "On coming out, all the four nuns in the convent were forcibly taken to the nearby fields and gang-raped," said Father Izidore. He requested that the names of the nuns, and the congregation to which they belonged, be withheld.

      "We are shocked at this. I met the nuns at the police station [where they had been taken to lodge complaint]. They are terrified," said Bishop George Anathil of Indore.

      Eleven of the twelve Catholic bishops of the Madhya Pradesh state held an "emergency meeting" this morning, Bishop Anathil told CWN, and decided to close all Catholic institutions on Friday and to organize a massive protest march from St. Francis Cathedral in Indore on Sunday to protest this "barbaric act" and to demand immediate action against the guilty parties.

      While several senior government officials of the state have visited the convent-- including the Home Minister, who is responsible for the police-- Bishop Anatil insisted that Church leaders want more. "We want the government to act tough, to stop such attacks on us ," he said.

      Describing the incident as "inhuman" and "a national shame," the Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI) said in a Thursday press release that "this is not isolated incident, as is clear from incidents of attacks on minorities in the past few months, and appears to be part of a game plan of vested interest groups that are now operating in the country against the minorities."

      In a veiled criticism of the Hindu nationalists who now leading the federal coalition government, who have been accused of "Christian- bashing" in recent months, the statement signed by CBCI president Archbishop Alan de Lastic of Delhi said that the Indian Church "would not be surprised to find that [the hoodlums] are working with the approval of higher-ups in the government and some rightist political parties." The statement further pointed out that there has been "increasing incidents of selective attacks" on Christians especially in the northern and western states where the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) holds sway. The Western Gujrath state, under BJP rule, has recorded over 30 attacks on Christians since March, which had prompted the National Minority Commission to send an investigative team into the state.

      "I am not sure whether the nuns were victims of an anti-Christian conspiracy. We have no evidence," said the local bishop. However, Bishop Anathil said that there have been instances of harassment of nuns in the recent past, including threats and stone-throwing at the convents in remote areas where the nuns work.

      Bishop Anathil himself had presided three years ago at the funeral of Clarist Sister Rani Maria, who was murdered in a macabre manner. The nun-- who was popular with tribal people, after saving them from the clutches of money lenders-- was stabbed over 40 times in February 1995 before a crowd of 50 onlookers, including the local BJP leader. When her killers were released on bail, the culprits were even audacious to pull down the "shrine" local people had built in memory of the beloved nun.

      John Dayal of the All India Catholic Union (AICU)-- a group that is in the forefront of campaigning for Christians' fundamental rights-- believes that "Christians have every reason to suspect a larger anti- Christian conspiracy" behind the latest incident. Several Catholic leaders contacted by this correspondent seemed to share the same concern that the gang-rape of the nuns in Madhya Pradesh is the handiwork of Hindu fundamentalists.

      Hindu cadre groups like Bajrang Dal, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, and Vishwa Hindu Parishad have been increasingly aggressive and more vocal about driving away Christian "missionaries" (a category which in practice includes Christian social workers who the oppressed tribal people to resist exploitation) ever since the BJP-led coalition government took office in March.

      Meanwhile CBCI and AICU have appealed to the federal President K. R. Narayanan to direct the BJP-led federal government and the state government to ensure the safety of Christians.

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September 25-27, 1998 volume 9, no. 188   DAILY CATHOLIC