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March 25, 1998             SECTION TWO              vol 9, no. 60


Events today in Church History

      For events throughout the centuries that are memorable in Church history, click on ALL ROADS LEAD TO ROME

Historical Events in Church Annals for March 25:

646 and counting, hoping and praying..

WORLDWIDE NEWS & VIEWS with a Catholic slant



      NEW YORK (CWN) - The ABC network announced this week that its controversial television show, "Nothing Sacred," has been canceled due to consistently low ratings, despite several time-slot changes.

      The TV show depicted an inner-city parish of "progressive" priests and nuns who disparaged Catholic doctrine and questioned their own faith. The show's treatment of such subjects as the existence of God, priestly celibacy, and abortion elicited the ire of many Catholics who saw it as an attack on the Church. The Catholic League for Civil and Religious Rights led a boycott of ABC and its parent company, Walt Disney, as well as the show's sponsors. Dozens of advertisers pulled their support of the show within weeks of the boycott's start.

      League president William Donohoe was jubilant at the announcement. "It is no secret that ABC stood by this failed show longer than any other program," he said. "Never before has such a loser of a show been given more hype and more preferential treatment than 'Nothing Sacred.' Had there not been a political agenda at work, the marketplace would have spelled the fate of 'Nothing' long ago." He added that the show failed because American Catholics simply did not like the show's depiction of them. "The fact of the matter is that from the very beginning there never was anything sacred about this show. Though some may not want to believe it, therein lies the real reason why it bombed."


      JERUSALEM (CWN) - The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Michel Sabbah, met with Jewish leaders on Monday as part of initial efforts to bring about reconciliation between the two groups in the Holy Land before the new millennium.

      Patriarch Sabbah met with Israel's chief Ashkenazi rabbi, Meir Lau, and the chief Sephardi rabbi, Eliyahu Bakshi-Doron to discuss issues ranging from the Holocaust to the status of Jerusalem's holy sites. While the two sides disagreed in several areas, all participants agreed that the meeting itself was a positive development.

      The talks come just one week after the Vatican issued anew document expressing sorrow for the failure of some Christians during the Holocaust to prevent evil. Patriarch Sabbah lauded the document, especially for its view that it is time to move forward. "As human beings we all have to deal with this memory of the past," he said. "The problem is the future, not the past." Lau, a Holocaust survivor, reminded him of the Jewish commandment to remember. "We want to make sure that such a thing will never reappear," Lau said.

      When the patriarch raised the issue of Israel restricting the access of Palestinian Muslims and Christians to holy sites, Lau defended Israel's record. He also said the Vatican never objected during the 19 years that Jordan controlled the Old City of Jerusalem and Jews had no access to the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest site. After their meeting, the three men shook hands and pledged further cooperation.


      SAN FRANCISCO (CWN) - The California Supreme Court ruled on Monday that the Boy Scouts of America are exempt from the state's anti-discrimination law, clearing the way for the Scouts to restrict membership for homosexuals and atheists.

      The state Supreme Court unanimously agreed that since the Scouts are not a business, but a voluntary membership organization, they can elect to bar membership for groups which oppose their core values. The ruling came in two cases, one in which the Scouts tried to expel twin brothers who refused to take recite oaths and creeds because they do no believe in God, and the other in which a San Francisco man's application to become assistant scoutmaster was turned down because he is a homosexual.

      Attorney Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice said the court had recognized that "the Boy Scouts can and should set the moral tone of their organization." Steven Schwalm of the Family Research Council also praised the decision. "Compelling a private youth organization dedicated to 'duty to God and country' to accept individuals whose activities are in conflict with their moral values promotes neither tolerance nor diversity," Schwalm said.

      The ruling contrasts with a decision March 2 by an appellate court in New Jersey that said the Boy Scouts and their local councils were "places of accommodation" with open membership and were covered by the state's civil rights law.


      VATICAN CITY (CWN) - Senior US officials said on Tuesday that US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright asked the Vatican today to help secure the release of more Cuban political prisoners from the Communist government of the island.

      The official told Reuters New Service that Albright raised the issue during a meeting with Vatican Secretary of State Angelo Sodano. Cuba announced last month that it had released 299 prisoners in response to a clemency appeal made by Pope John Paul during his historic visit to the island in January. Albright was in Rome primarily to discuss the crisis in Kosovo with the Italian government.

      The official said that in her conversations at the Vatican, Albright spoke of a number of political prisoners in Cuba, including four who were well-known on the island. The Vatican's statement on the talks made no mention of political prisoners but focused on the effects of the Pope's visit to Cuba and Washington's recent decision to relax some sanctions on the island for humanitarian reasons.

      In a related story out of Mexico City, several Latin American bishops and officials said on Monday they supported new measures proposed by the United States to reduce the Cuban embargo in place for 36 years.

      Last Friday, US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright announced the lifting of some restrictions against Cuba, and said the US will permit direct charter flights between both countries and also permit transportation of money, medicine, and food through the Catholic Church. The White House said that Pope John Paul's January visit to Cuba convinced President Bill Clinton of "the needs of Cuban people and our obligation to support them."

      After the announcement, the secretary general of the Brazilian Bishops' Conference, Bishop Raymundo Damasceno Assis, said the US government "responded to the call made by John Paul II during his visit to Cuba." Bishop Damasceno Assis also explained his desire "to find in this first announcement against the embargo, a first step in the normalization of the relationships between Washington and Havana." At the same time, the Cuban ambassador to Mexico, Abelardo Curbelo, said that "this new United States" attitude is a step in a direction taken by the whole world."

      During his first visit to the Caribbean island, the Holy Father affirmed, "Economic embargoes are always condemned because they hurt people in need. In our time, no nation can live alone, and the Cuban people cannot be deprived of their links with other nations."

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March 25, 1998 volume 9, no. 60         DAILY CATHOLIC