JOHANNESBURG (CWN) - US President Bill Clinton was confronted by his domestic political troubles on Sunday when he attended Mass at a South African Catholic church on the day when the liturgy includes the story of the adulterous woman.

      Clinton, the first US president to visit South Africa, entered the Regina Mundi Church in Soweto township to a cheering congregation to which he responded with smiles, handshakes, and waves. But when Father Mohlomi Makobane read the Gospel for the day -- John 8:1-11 -- Clinton became visibly uncomfortable and rocked on his heels. The gospel reading tells the story of the adulterous woman brought before Jesus to be condemned to death, but He challenges her accusers and then tells her to go and sin no more. The Clinton administration has been rocked by recent scandals in which several women have come forward and claimed that Clinton either had sex with or propositioned them.

      Clinton was on a six-nation tour of Africa, including South African where he paid tribute to the country for ending decades of apartheid. Regina Mundi Church served as a refuge to many blacks during the last years of uprising against white rule, which ended with 1994 elections.

      Meanwhile, Cardinal Jaime Sin of Manila expressed concerns on Sunday that the leading contender in the Philippines' presidential elections is barely fit for the officer because of his questionable character.

      The cardinal told Reuters News Service in an interview that former actor Joseph "Erap" Estrada is a dangerous role model for youth. Estrada was a hit in a series of 1960s films that have left him popular with the electorate, but business leaders fear he is economically incompetent and church leaders cite his well-known penchant for adulterous affairs and womanizing.

      Recent opinion polls show Estrada with a wide margin over his closest opponent in the May 11 election with the ruling party's candidate, House Speaker Jose de Venecia, getting half as much support as Estrada. Cardinal Sin said that margin may also prompt the government to cheat to get de Venecia into power. "If there is an election today and there is no cheating, [Estrada] is going to win. Therefore the administration is going to do everything in order to win, so they will cheat," he said.

ACKNOWLEDGMENT:To subscribe to Catholic World News Service, available daily by e-mail, click here .

March 31, 1998 volume 9, no. 64         DAILY CATHOLIC