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February 18, 1998             SECTION TWO              vol 9, no. 35

WORLDWIDE NEWS & VIEWS with a Catholic slant



     VATICAN (CWN) -- The consistory at which Pope John Paul II will create 20 new members of the College of Cardinals will take place on Saturday, February 21, at 10:30 AM in the Vatican's Paul VI hall.

      A consistory is a formal liturgical act, and the participants will include all of the current cardinals who are able to come to Rome, along with a host of patriarchs, archbishops, and bishops from all over the world-- together with members of the Roman Curia and the pontifical household.

      After the formal ceremony, courtesy visits with the new cardinals will be scheduled from 4:30 to 6:30 pm. On Sunday, February 22-- the feast of the Chair of St. Peter-- the Holy Father will concelebrate a solemn Mass at St. Peter's Basilica along with the new cardinals.


     VATICAN (CWN) -- Vatican diplomats are working "intensely" to forestall the possibility of a military strike against Iraq, according to Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano.

      Cardinal Sodano told the Italian daily La Repubblica that all of the diplomatic resources of the Holy See have been brought to bear on the crisis, and that the Vatican is "in constant contact" with the ambassadors of the United States and Iraq, as well as their respective governments, and with the leadership of the United Nations.

      Yesterday the Vatican took the highly unusual step of announcing that Archbishop Renato Martino, the permanent observer for the Holy See at the United Nations, had visited Secretary General Kofi Annan, to deliver a personal message from Pope John Paul II asking the UN leader to visit Baghdad to help negotiate a peaceful solution. Ordinarily the Vatican does not make such diplomatic efforts public.

      Cardinal Sodano said that Church leaders would continue to make their pleas to all countries involved, insisting on "our opposition to armed military intervention-- because it will not resolve the issues in this crisis, will risk escalating the conflict, and will aggravate the already difficult conditions of life for the people of Iraq."

      Archbishop Martino, in a separate interview published today in the Italian daily Il Giornale, pointed out that "many countries are opposed to military intervention." For that reason, he said, the possibility of a diplomatic solution is greater than it was prior to the Persian Gulf War of 1991. "Even if the outlook is not encouraging, I am still going to take the chance to be an optimist," he said.

      In Baghdad, the Chaldean-rite Catholic Patriarch Raphael Bidawid echoed that optimism, telling the Italian newspaper Avvenire, "I think there is still hope, and that a peaceful solution is still possible." The Eastern Catholic leader said that after the disaster of 1991, Saddam Hussein was unlikely to go to war again. He also lamented that "since 1991, 1 million children have died because of the embargo" on Iraq.


      RABAT, Morocco (CWN) - King Hassan of Morocco told a meeting of religious leaders in Rabat on Monday that a decline in moral values around the world, coinciding with a rise in materialism, have brought about great suffering at the end of the 20th century.

      The king told the gathering of Muslim, Jewish, and Christian leaders that increasing disparities between rich and poor are fueling ethnic conflicts, organized crime, and immoral acts. "These dangers must make us more conscious of the need to confront them and avoid world peace having to suffer from their evil effects...." he said. "They are challenges which are becoming ever more threatening as the powerful countries focus on taking hold of the future of humanity on economic, media, and technological planes, and gamble on the globalization of a pragmatic culture and demagogic materialism."

      In the speech delivered by Higher Education Minister Driss Khalil, the king called on the meeting's participants to draw up a joint plan of action for all religious faithful to work together in bringing about peace and increasing moral values. The king did not address the US-Iraq standoff over weapons inspections or the Middle East peace process which has come to a standstill.


     LONDON (CWN) - British Catholics are deluging the Vatican, local bishops, and Catholic newspapers with complaints this week over the award of a papal knighthood to Australian media magnate Rupert Murdoch.

      Murdoch was made a Knight Commander of St. Gregory in southern California last month in recognition of generous contributions made to Catholic causes, but Catholics from Australia to the United States to Britain and Ireland have responded with outrage. "They are complaining mostly that the newspapers and satellite channels he owns are responsible for purveying soft pornography, the Sun especially," said Deborah Jones of the Catholic Herald newspaper. Others have complained that Murdoch uses predatory business tactics to run his competition out of business.

      "Some are looking at the monopoly effect, the pricing out of other newspapers and the fact that Rupert Murdoch has a particular political agenda and he is well-known for his republicanism," Jones said. "They can't see that his work justifies a papal knighthood and think it's a question of giving large sums of money." A well-known Murdoch rival, Conrad Black, is one of the publishers of the Catholic Herald, but Jones denied this had an effect on coverage of the award.

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February 18, 1998 volume 9, no. 35          DAILY CATHOLIC