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March 27-29, 1998             SECTION TWO              vol 9, no. 62

WORLDWIDE NEWS & VIEWS with a Catholic slant



      VATICAN (CWN) -- The World Jewish Congress has called upon the Catholic Church to go still further in accepting the responsibility of Christians for the Holocaust.

      At a meeting held of an international committee for liaison between Jews and Catholics, held at the Vatican this week, the Jewish group suggested a deeper study of the Holocaust. But Cardinal Edward Cassidy responded with the suggestion that a mixed committee of Christians and Jews might profitably study the historical materials that are already available, before embarking on further research.

      Cardinal Cassidy, the president of the Pontifical Council for Inter- Religious Dialogue, made his intervention in answer to persistent criticisms of the recent Vatican document on the Holocaust. He insisted on the distinction-- preserved carefully in that document-- between the official teachings of the Church and the misdeeds of "her sons and daughters." All Catholics are included in that term, he pointed out, including members of the hierarchy; nevertheless it is important to distinguish the sins of the people from the incorruptibility of the Body of Christ.

      Cardinal Cassidy also replied to Jewish demands for an opening of the secret Vatican archives related to World War II. He pointed out that traditionally the Holy See-- like most world governments-- keeps such archives closed for several decades. And he observed that at the request of Pope Paul VI, Jesuit scholars prepared a special 12- volume compilation of the material in those archives pertaining to the Holocaust. Rather than opening the secret archives, he suggested, Jewish and Catholic scholars together could discuss the material already available in those public volumes.

      Dr. Gerhart Riegner, the vice-president of the World Jewish Congress, had provoked the cardinal's reaction by expressing his displeasure with the latest Vatican document. He complained that the document had "avoided a clear position on the direct relation between the teaching of contempt and the political and cultural climate that made the Shoah possible." The Jewish leader also voiced some doubts about the accuracy of the historical analysis in the Vatican document.

      At the close of the meeting, Pope John Paul II received the members of the mixed commission. In his brief remarks, the Holy Father expressed the hope that the meeting had afforded both sides an opportunity to "discover ever more effective ways to know and appreciate Catholicism and Judaism in turn," and called for further steps to bring the faithful of the two religions closer together.

      In a related story of Jewish pressure, Poland's chief rabbi on Wednesday asked the government and the Catholic Church to remove a cross near the former Auschwitz concentration camp, because it offends relatives of Jews who died there.

      Rabbi Pinchas Menachem Joskowicz, an Auschwitz survivor, said in an interview with Poland's leading Polish private radio station, Radio Zet, "It disturbs my prayers. How did I sin that I cannot pray in the holy place where my family died, where my nation died?" The government had originally agreed to replace the 26-foot cross commemorating a 1979 Mass by Pope John Paul II, but Catholic officials were reluctant to remove it because so many Catholics also died in the Nazi camps.

      Poland's primate, Cardinal Jozef Glemp, said in a sermon Sunday that the status of the cross is non-negotiable. "Many have not liked the Eiffel Tower, but it is not the reason to move it or tinker with it," he said. "We simply like that cross." Earlier this month, Carmelite nuns, who had moved out of a convent near the camp, turned the land where the cross stands over to the government. Suggestions that the cross should be removed have drawn protests from war veterans and politicians, including former President Lech Walesa.

Cardinal calls for faithful to "love the Church more deeply as a second mother."

      In a talk to journalists at the Lateran in Rome, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Vatican Secretary of State, confirmed that Church reform is an on-going process but that it always remains sacred and is meant to enhance the Church, not change her. He cited the work of theologian Cardinal Yves Congar, O.P. for his comments and emphasized true reform "always involves a return to the traditions of the Church." For the rest of the story, click on Church reform to read more.


      VATICAN (CWN) -- Taking his theme from the theologian Yves Congar, OP, Cardinal Angelo Sodano today explored the "true" and "false" approaches to reform within the Catholic Church-- an institution which, he pointed out, is at the same time always sacred and always in need of reform.

      Speaking to an audience of journalists at the Lateran, in a lecture that was one in a series designed to promote the mission of the City of Rome, Cardinal Sodano emphasized the need to carry out reforms without provoking divisions within the Church.

      Distinguishing also between outward appearances and inner reality, the cardinal compared the Church to a tree, in which the trunk remains healthy and intact even if the bark is scarred and peeled. Thus he argued that the continuing health of the Church across twenty centuries can be seen in the witness of the martyrs (of whom, he pointed out, millions have died during this century)-- despite the damage done by heresies, schisms, and the sins of the faithful.

      The Church is constantly called to renewal, the cardinal said, in order to increase "the many fruits of holiness." For the keys to proper renewal, he relied on the work of Congar, the French Dominican who was raised to the College of Cardinals by Pope John Paul II in recognition of his enormous contribution to Catholic theology.

      Congar laid down four general rules for reform. First, those who love the Church should seek not to create something new, but to show the Church in all her beauty. Second, reform should preserve and strengthen the communion among the world's bishops-- although, as Cardinal Sodano observed, there is still ample room of individual initiative. Third, reformers must be patient, allowing time for their efforts to mature. Fourth, true reform always involves a return to the traditions of the Church.

      The cardinal concluded his address with two challenges-- one to all men of good will, the other specifically to Catholics. To the former he suggested that before making any judgment of the Church they should look at the institution from every angle, not neglecting the witness of the centuries. To the faithful, he offered "an invitation to love the Church more deeply, as a second mother."

Archbishop laments first assisted suicide in Oregon

      With the news of the first "legalized" doctor-assisted suicide in the U.S.A. Tuesday in Oregon, Portland's Archbishop John Vlazny expressed deep sorrow that this law passed last November in his state and reiterated it bodes ill for the rest of the citizens. At the same time, Oregon Catholic Conference leader Bob Castagna echoed the Archbishop's words, adding, "This is a tragic and sad day for Oregon and the United States. May God have mercy on all of us." For the rest of this story, click on suicide to read more.


      PORTLAND, Oregon (CWN) - An octogenarian woman with cancer became the first person to take advantage of the US-only law allowing doctor-assisted suicide and took her own life on Tuesday.

      The pro-suicide Compassion in Dying group said on Wednesday that the unidentified woman took a lethal dose of drugs prescribed by a doctor recommended by the group. "I am looking forward to it," the woman said in a tape played for reporters. "I was always active. I cannot possibly see myself living a few more months like this. I will be relieved of all the stress I have." Archbishop John Vlazny of Portland said he was deeply saddened by the news. "The suicide of this elderly woman can only bring anguish to those who have resisted the public policy initiatives that changed this law in Oregon," he said in a statement. The Church has been a leader in the fight against passage of the law.

      Oregon voters approved a measure last November that confirmed the 1994 assisted-suicide law which had faced numerous legal challenges. The law requires that two doctors certify that the patient has less than six months to live, and it requires a 15-day waiting period before the drugs can be prescribed.


      NEW ORLEANS (CWN) - A Stanford University professor told the Society of Behavioral Medicine on Wednesday that the relationship between spirituality and healing is a scientifically documented principle that doctors should take advantage of in their treatment of patients.

      "When you keep getting a relationship in study after study, something's going on that's not just a fluke," Carl Thoresen, professor of education, psychology and psychiatry, said. "It's important enough that, if we continue to study, it could lead to changes in how we deliver health care and determine treatment," he said. "And it is not addressed now in health care." Thoresen spoke to a meeting of the society which promotes integrating behavioral and biomedical disciplines in healthcare.

      Among people with long-term illnesses such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes, those with strong spiritual or religious beliefs are statistically likely to live longer, Thoresen said. People who are more religious tend to take better care of themselves, with more prudent diet and decreased likelihood of alcohol or drug abuse or smoking, he added.

      At present, health care professionals are the least likely to hold strong spiritual or religious beliefs and are uncomfortable in probing that area of patients' lives, even though polls have shown the majority of Americans believe in a higher power, Thoresen said.

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For more devotions of Lent, click on WAY OF THE CROSS

We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You.
Because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world.

FIRST STATION: Jesus is Condemned to Death

We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You.
Because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world.

Weakened by Your Agony in the Garden, You now hear the fateful words of Pilate. Were You afraid, Jesus? I would be, such a cruel death. So unjustified. Permit me, my Jesus, to learn the great lesson of humility which You gave us, as You stood defenseless, offering nary a word to those who sought Your ruin. You, Innocence Itself, accepted the unjust sentence, which came upon You because of my sins. Jesus, touch my heart. Purify it. Convert it fully. Take my hand and help me walk the Way of the Cross with You...the Way of Salvation.

SECOND STATION: Jesus Carries His Cross

We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You.
Because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world.

If You were weak before, how much so now that You had endured a scourging, one I can't even comprehend, but which fills me with horror. Yet they presented You with Your Cross, and with arms of love You received it, in perfect obedience to Your Heavenly Father that all men might be saved. You did not recoil from it. I would have. I still do, because at the slightest suffering I become impatient, frustrated, even angry. I want to run away, to seek solace in others, to deny that suffering is part of everyday life. Permit me, on this walk with You, dear Jesus, to learn in the depths of my soul and heart, to embrace the Cross which is the only way to Eternal Life. Whenever sorrow or suffering come, help me to remember that I deserve to shoulder the cross, because You, Who are the Innocent Lamb, embraced it without complaint out of love for me, a poor sinner.

THIRD STATION: Jesus Falls the First Time

We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You.
Because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world.

So brutalized were You, my Jesus, that any ordinary man would have already expired. The loss of Your Sacred Blood causes You to fall heavily to the ground. No one showed You the least bit of compassion. Instead, You were kicked, spit upon, whipped and yanked to Your feet with the heavy burden of the Cross upon Your shoulder. Permit me, dear Jesus, to learn the virtue of patience. Let me remember Your example, and when things go wrong for me in any way, let it be the silence of Your Love which seals my lips out of love for You.

FOURTH STATION: Jesus Meets His Sorrowful Mother

We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You.
Because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world.

My Jesus, can anyone ever know the anguish which was exchanged between You and Your most Holy Mother? Help me to meditate upon this meeting, and to learn from it that You, the Sinless One, and Your Immaculate Mother, call me to give up my sins, my inclination to evil. Whenever I am tempted, let me fall at the feet of Your Sorrowful Mother and there, with the tender mother's love which flows from her heart, receive Your strength to resist temptation, to grow stronger in my faith, in my resolve never to sin again. Let me gaze upon Your Holy Face, my Jesus, and understand what Love really means.

FIFTH STATION: Simon the Cyrene Helps Jesus

We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You.
Because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world.

It wasn't compassion which forced the Roman soldiers to make Simon help You. They feared You would die and they would not have the victory of seeing You die in anguish on Calvary. My dear Jesus, grant me the grace to help You carry Your Cross, making it my own with the full knowledge and assurance that it is You Who helps me to carry it. Only in this way will I be able to bear all with loving obedience, and patience, that Eternal Life might be mine.

SIXTH STATION: Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus

We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You.
Because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world.

You never forgot, even in the midst of Your torture, to give to those Who truly love You, a remembrance of Yourself. You desired for all men to remember Your Passion that from it they might learn Love. Imprint the image of Your Holy Face upon my heart and soul, my Jesus. In this way, strengthened by Your merits, let me always think of You, placing You above all earthly cares, until I see You in Eternity.

SEVENTH STATION: Jesus Falls the Second Time

We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You.
Because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world.

So weakened! Your Holy Face lies on the hard ground, the weight of the Cross even heavier now. You fell, my sweet Jesus, to remind me of the pride and self-love that I cling to in life, rather than willingly, submitting myself fully to Your Holy Will in all things. Permit me, dear Jesus, to learn from You, and to henceforth be mindful to prostrate myself before You, my Lord and my God, that I might learn humility and simplicity in all things.

EIGHTH STATION: Jesus Comforts the Women of Jerusalem

We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You.
Because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world.

The weeping arouses You from the anguish of Your continuing Passion. You manage to speak to the women, and Your Holy words should arouse in me a deep repentance of all my sins. You Who are sinless, went to Your death with peace for You were united fully with the Father. Permit me, my Jesus, to contemplate my offenses against You, to confess them with a contrite heart, and to weep in the depths of my soul, for all I have done to cause You such suffering. And let me always remember that as You gaze upon me, it is with eyes of Mercy, so infinite is Your Love.

NINTH STATION: Jesus Falls the Third Time

We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You.
Because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world.

Life is waning from Your Sacred Body, but there is still a long, painful way to go. You fell, but You did not give up, in order that God's Will might be fulfilled. Teach me, my Jesus, to rise every time I fall, and to understand in my soul that You are there to help me to my feet, that it is You Who sets me once again on the right path - the Way of the Cross.

TENTH STATION: Jesus is Stripped of His Garments

We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You.
Because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world.

Your soiled garments adhere to Your Sacred Body because of the clotted blood. What anguish You suffered in order to atone for the sins of intemperance and sensuality. Permit me, my dear Jesus, to surrender to You all of my sins of the flesh, and even more, all of my earthly attachments. As You were subjected to the humility of being stripped, so teach me the joy of being stripped of sin, of earthly attachments in every instance, that I might stand with You on Calvary, a repentant sinner filled with joy and hope at the Salvation You have won for me.

ELEVENTH STATION: Jesus is Nailed to the Cross

We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You.
Because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world.

I cannot comprehend what it was like to have cruel nails pounded into my tender flesh. I shrink from this, my Jesus. Sometimes it terrifies me. But You did not shrink from it. Permit me, my dear Jesus, to remember that it is my sins which have done this to You. You looked far beyond the pain, which I cannot fathom, to the Will of the Father, and the salvation of mankind. Let me remember in times of pain and sorrow, that You hold my hand and give me strength to endure, that You might wound my heart with the Love of Your Own Heart. Divine Mercy was poured forth upon mankind when the lance pierced Your Sacred Heart. My Jesus, grant that I, prostrate at the foot of Your Cross, may receive Your Divine Mercy.

TWELFTH STATION: Jesus Dies on the Cross

We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You.
Because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world.

I behold You, my Jesus, hanging upon the Cross in bitterest agony. You raise Your Sacred Head with the last ounce of Your strength and Will, and You look upon me. A look of such love! Of such compassion! O, permit me, my Jesus, to remain at the foot of Your Cross, gazing upon Your Sacred Countenance. Imprint upon my heart a lively contrition for my sins, which weighed so heavily upon you as You died in agony. Let me hear in my heart the words You offered to the Good Thief, and may I draw comfort from Your loving promises. Help me to look to Your Heavenly Mother, my own Mother, for the guidance I need to remain with You in these last terrible moments before eternal bliss.

THIRTEENTH STATION: Jesus is Taken Down from the Cross

We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You.
Because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world.

It is consummated! You have surrendered Your Divine Soul to the Father. Now, Your Blessed Mother, bereft of her Son, and alone of all consolation, receives Your lifeless body into her arms. Those about see only the lifeless body. Mary believes that You, God, will rise again on the third day, and if there is any comfort for her, it is this. With Mary, may I, a sinner, kiss each wound upon Your Sacred Body, in loving remembrance of all You have done for me. The journey is now complete for You. Help me, my Jesus, to complete my journey in this life, with the sincere faith that You shall greet me for all Eternity.

FOURTEENTH STATION: Jesus is Laid in the Tomb

We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You.
Because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world.

What great sadness weighed down upon Mary as she watched Your Body hastily prepared for burial, and the cold, lonely tomb receive the Flesh of her flesh, and of the Father. She watched with tears streaming down her face as the stone was rolled in front of the tomb, her faith her bulwark against despair. Grant to me, my dear Jesus, the grace to ponder the Way of the Cross which all men must walk, in order to come to that moment of glorious resurrection with You for all Eternity.

For all other standard features, articles and columns, click on Archives

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March 27-29, 1998 volume 9, no. 62         DAILY CATHOLIC