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WEDNESDAY      September 9, 1998      SECTION ONE       vol 9, no. 176

To print out entire text of Today's issue, print this section as well as SECTION ONE

Events Today in Church History

     For events throughout the centuries that are memorable in Church history today, click on TIME CAPSULES: MILLENNIUM MILESTONES

Historical Events in Church Annals for September 9:

WORLDWIDE NEWS & VIEWS with a Catholic slant

provided by Catholic World News Service



      VATICAN ( -- Avvenire, the Italian daily owned by the Catholic bishops, has reported a first miracle attributed to the intercession of Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

      The Avvenire story indicated that Sister Rita Mascarenhas, a missionary nurse working in Purulla, India, was miraculously healed through the intercession of Mother Teresa. The evidence involved in her case is now in the hands of Calcutta's Archbishop D'Souza, to be examined during the process for the beatification of the Albanian- born nun.

      Sister Rita, who is 71, had suffered from a massive abdominal hernia, apparently the after-effect of earlier surgery. After an operation to correct the problem in August 1997, her sutures burst, and doctors were unable to relieve her pain. Finally, on September 7, one of the nuns from her convent went to pray before the remains of Mother Teresa. She touched the corpse of the deceased nun with a cotton ball, which she later used to wipe Sister Rita's wound. That night Sister Rita reported hearing a voice-- which she identified as that of Mother Teresa-- instructing her to turn first on her left side, then on her right, and finally to get out of bed. At the same time her pain disappeared, and a medical examination later showed no remaining signs of her physical ailments.


      VATICAN ( -- An international symposium on the Inquisition will be held at the Vatican on October 29- 31. The event is one of the many being scheduled in preparation for the Jubilee.

      Last year a historical-theological commission set up by the Vatican, under the leadership of Father Georges Cottier, OP, the official theological of the pontifical household, organized a symposium on the Christian roots of anti-Judaism. Like the upcoming meeting on the Inquisition, that symposium was a response to the call issued by Pope John Paul II in Tertio Millennio Adveniente, for a critical examination of Church history in preparation for the millennium.

      This year's symposium will bring together scholars from around the world, representing different areas of expertise, to examine the Inquisition. The symposium is set for the year that marks the 500th anniversary of the death of Jerome Savonarola, another Dominican theologian, who was burned at the stake. The Vatican recently issued a statement noting that Savonarola's teachings had been completely orthodox.

      Some Catholics have even called for the beatification of Savonarola. Still others call for the beatification of the Spanish Dominican and Grand Inquisitor Thomas de Torquemada.

      It was Torquemada who was commissioned in 1483 by Pope Sixtus IV to reorganize church tribunals. At a time when Europe faced a conflict with Islam in Spain, and many Jews were seen as allies of the Muslims, these church tribunals were intended to test the sincerity of those Jews who claimed to have converted to Christianity. Later, after the Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492, the Inquisition continued to examine the sincerity of converts from Islam.

      Many historians today argue that-- contrary to the popular notion-- Torquemada was not a harsh judge or a torturer, but in fact a modest man, rigorous in his own self-discipline, who consistently urged the need for moderation and charity in the Inquisition. In 15 years of work, the Inquisition studied roughly 100,000 cases, and condemned roughly 2,000 people.

      Although today the term "Inquisition" is generally used in reference to the Spanish Inquisition of the 15th century, the Inquisition as a whole was begun by Pope Lucius III in 1184. In a collaborative effort with the Emperor Barbarossa, the Inquisition introduced the use of corporal punishment for heretics who were found guilty of treason. Punishment in most cases meant an obligatory pilgrimage, or whipping, or imprisonment; execution was reserved only for those who had been condemned of heresy, and refused to recant.

      Ecclesiastical judges saw their responsibility as extending beyond theological matters, to include the protection of society at large. And civil rulers often used these courts to pursue their own political goals.


      VATICAN ( -- Pope John Paul II has sent a message of encouragement to Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the president of the Italian bishops' conference, as the Italian bishops launch a campaign of daily prayer for that country.

      The Holy Father called upon the faithful to be vigilant in prayer, and to incorporate into their prayers the social and political realities of their nation. His message, dated August 6, was made public by the Vatican press office today, as the Italian drive was inaugurated at Loretto, where a symbolic lamp was lit in the famous Marian sanctuary to stand for the prayers of the Italian people for their country.

      The Pope welcomed the prayer campaign, which is one of the many initiatives undertaken to prepare the Church for the Jubilee Year 2000. He applauded the choice of Loretto, as an indication of the Italian devotion to the Virgin Mary. And in a reference to the symbolic lamp, he added: "It reminds us, at the same time, that it is they duty of Christians to be watchful, with our lamps lit, and to persevere in prayer and fidelity to the Gospel, to bring the light of Truth and the love of Christ to bear on the different social, political, cultural, and economic realities of our existence."


      GUATEMALA CITY ( - A judge in Guatemala ordered on Monday that body of a slain bishop be exhumed to find more evidence related to his murder in April.

      Prosecutors sought the re-examination to determine whether Bishop Juan Gerardi Conedera was bitten by a dog. Father Mario Orantes Najera, who was charged with the murder in July, lived with the bishop at the time of the murder and reportedly owned a dog which only responded to his orders. The bishop was bludgeoned to death in his garage on April 26, two days after he released a report on human rights violations during the country's 36-year civil war which blamed the government for most of the deaths in the war.

      Some human rights workers have said they believe Bishop Gerardi was killed by death squads in retaliation for the report. Prosecutors have not revealed a suspected motive for Father Orantes. Judge Isaias Figueroa Medina said forensics experts representing prosecutors, the court, and the archdiocese's Human Rights Office will be present at the exhumation and examination of the body, which has been approved by church officials.

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 Nine Day Novena for Life sponsored by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops continues with Day Three. The Novena stretches from the Vigil of the feast of the Birth of Mary to September 15 - the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows. It is appropriate that these liturgical feasts fall during the same time Congress will once again consider the important legislation impacting the lives of unborn children in trying to rescind Clinton's veto of the ban on partial-birth abortion. Below is the daily prayer for the Novena for Life and click on NOVENA FOR LIFE:

God, come to my assistance. Lord, make haste to help me. (Glory Be).

Holy Mother of God, hear the prayers of the Church for all mothers, especially those wearied by life and overcome by the suffering they bear for their children. (Hail Mary).

O Mother of the Word Incarnate, intercede for them from your place in Heaven, that the mercy of your Divine Son might lighten their burden and give them strength. (Hail Mary, Glory Be).

Day Three

A nine day Novena from the Vigil of the Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary to the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows and endorsed by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops. Compiled by Father James Moroney Executive Director, NCCB Secretariat for the Liturgy

Tomorrow: Day 4 of the Novena for Life

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September 9, 1998 volume 9, no. 176   DAILY CATHOLIC