January 22, 1998   vol 9, no. 16    


WORLDWIDE NEWS & VIEWS with a Catholic slant



      WASHINGTON, DC (CWN) - Fifty-four US bishops sent a letter to President Bill Clinton on Tuesday asking him to bring about the end of the UN embargo against Iraq which has been in effect since that country invaded Kuwait in 1990.

      The bishops, including three who are engaging in a fast in protest to the sanctions, claim that the embargo has killed one million people, contrary to the UN's stated goal of allowing humanitarian shipments into the country. "We are killing people and it has to stop," said Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Gumbleton of Detroit on whose letterhead the letter was written. Bishop Gumbleton said he and two others had begun a fast on Tuesday that allowed them only to eat and drink the meager rations available to Iraqi citizens.

      The bishops signing the letter said the sanctions "are not only in violation of the teachings of the Catholic Church, but they violate the human rights of the Iraqi people because they deprive innocent people from food and medicine." However, the US bishops' conference refused in November to issue the same type of condemnation as a national body. The 54 bishops represent only one-fifth of all US bishops.

      Last month, UNICEF reported that 960,000 Iraqi children were suffering from malnutrition. In 1996, the UN organization estimated that 4,500 children under the age of 5 were dying each month. Critics of the Hussein regime blame his policies, rather than the embargo, for the deaths.


     CHARLOTTE, North Carolina (CWN) - House Speaker Newt Gingrich on Tuesday said the Republican Party avoided the stigma of arrogance last week when it voted down a proposal to deny funding to GOP candidates who support partial-birth abortion.

      Gingrich said the resolution would have alienated moderate voters, but added that he opposes the late-term abortion procedure which he called barbaric. "We don't want to say that the Republican National Committee is going to say to the primary voters of Charlotte, the primary voters of Greensboro, the primary voters of Columbia, South Carolina, if you pick the wrong person, we're not going to support you," Gingrich said. "I think there's a certain arrogance in saying (RNC members) nationally are now going to dictate in the primaries in every part of the country," he said. "I thought that was the wrong approach in what is otherwise the exactly right moral principle."

      The procedure involves partially extracting an unborn child, legs first, through the birth canal, cutting an incision in the base of his skull, and then suctioning out his brain. The House and Senate are expected to take up an override of President Clinton's veto of a ban on the procedure.


      NEW YORK (CWN) - The UN's chief agency for population control on Tuesday announced a new ad campaign, counteracting slackening support among Western nations.

      The Fund announced that American TV actress Linda Gray will be the spokesman in the "Face to Face" campaign. Nafis Sadik, executive director of UNFPA, said criticism, including opposition in the US Congress to the agency's pro-contraception and pro-abortion policies, was unwarranted because their goal is to prevent unwanted pregnancies. "We have to know why abortions occur," she said. "Abortion should not be used as a method of family planning but unsafe abortion cases must be counseled and there must be research into why it is taking place."

      However, she added that UNFPA was studying making so-called "emergency contraception" available to women in developing countries. Emergency contraception is actually a type of abortion which prevents the developing fetus from thriving in his mother's womb if taken in the first 72 hours after conception.

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Commemorating the Martyrs- Day Three

      Today is the feast of one of the earliest martyrs of the Church Saint Vincent. It is fitting that it coincides with the twenty-fifth anniversary of legalized abortion for Vincent was placed on a rack and his body twisted and ripped apart just as a fetus is twisted, ripped and crushed through the murderous act of abortion. For the story on St. Vincent, today's readings as well as tomorrow's readings for Ordinary Time, click on LITURGY FOR THE DAY

THURSDAY, January 22, 1998

Saint Vincent, Deacon and Martyr

     Like the saints whose feasts preceded him in January, Saint Vincent, not to be confused with St. Vincent de Paul, was born in Spain in the 3rd Century. and became archdeacon in Saragoza where Our Lady first appeared in 40 AD. He was a great orator and did more than his share of preaching since his bishop, Valerian had a speech impediment. The Romans caught wind of his evangelizing and reported to Diocletian who ordered Dacian the president of that region to silence the saint. Dacian chose the horrendous torture tactic of the rack, stretching Vincent's body asunder. Yet no form of torture could steal Vincent's joy at suffering for Christ. When the rack failed, Dacian tore his flesh with hooks then bound him to a seat of burning iron. When that failed, lard and salt were rubbed into his open wounds. Yet through it all he kept his eyes focused joyfully toward Heaven. Finally, in desperation, Dacian had him thrown into a dungeon locking his feet in a tight stock. But again God intervened, sending His angels to unloose the shackle and inform this brave saint that his reward would be great. Dacian never had the satisfaction of torturing Vincent again for this persevering saint died peacefully before being sentenced again. His bravery and the wonders of his stamina effected many conversions after his death. Upon his death, faithful carried away pieces of his cloths soaked with his blood. His relics are preserved today in an Augustinian monastery in Lisbon. It's a reminder to us all that no matter the opposition, if we keep our eyes and heart focused on the same goal Vincent strove for, nothing can harm our soul. It is also important to realize the importance of relics which, sadly has been relegated to minor importance today. We should remember that they can intercede for us in Heaven for they are linked to us through the Communion of Saints.

FRIDAY, January 23, 1998


Prayer taken from Opening Prayer of Saint Vincent's feast today.

Eternal Father, You gave Saint Vincent the courage to endure torture and death for the Gospel; fill us with Your Spirit and strengthen us in Your love.


""Grandchildren are the crown of old men, and the glory of children is their parentage."

Proverbs 17: 6

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January 22, 1998 volume 9, no. 16          DAILY CATHOLIC

January 1998