On January 1, the Holy Father presided at a solemn Mass honoring Mary, the Mother of God, on her feast day. In accordance with a Vatican tradition, the members of the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See were all present at the Mass.
Speaking after the Angelus, Pope John Paul brought together the themes associated with this 31st World Day of Peace and the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights. He remarked that all political systems must be oriented toward, and respectful of, the dignity of the person.
Recognizing that today's economy operates on a global scale, the Pontiff insisted that leaders must take pains to ensure that the process of globalization does not ignore the needs of individuals, "nor marginalize people, groups, or nations." He called instead for a system which recognizes "the family of nations," as he had urged in his October 1995 speech at the United Nations.
In particular, he said, such an approach would leave no doubt as to the need for action to reduce the debts owed by the world's most impoverished countries. Toward that end, he added, it is essential to achieve a coordinated effort, in order to achieve a "durable solution." And the coordinated effort, he continued, must also involve changes on the part of the debtor nations, which must work toward a real "culture of law," and a "war against corruption." The firm tone in which these remarks were made left no doubt that the Holy Father saw corruption and graft in the Third World as a major factor contributing to the countries' poverty.
As Christian believers prepare for the Jubilee Year, the Pope said, they should cultivate a "life of simplicity." The task of creating world peace, he said, is one which all people share. "It is indispensable," he said, "that everyone involve himself on behalf of justice, in respect for human rights, and in recognition of the duties that are implied."
Linking the call for peace with what he characterized as "the theology of Christmas," John Paul pointed out that "it is Christ who brings authentic peace," by "reconciling man to man and all of humanity to God."
That reconciliation, the Holy Father explained, comes as "man becomes the adoptive son of God by the grace of the birth of the Son of God himself." In that perspective, he said, "the birth of Christ is at the center of time" and also at the center of the drama of salvation for mankind.
The American networks have all said that the Cuban government is asking for exorbitant rates for technical services and other accommodation, including re-broadcast of Cuban TV pictures of papal Masses. One source said Cuba is asking for as much as $100,000 per network to use the footage, much higher than rates for similar public events such as political conventions. The networks also complained that since Cuba doesn't have the advanced technical capabilities they need they have been forced to bring in equipment such as satellite trucks and to install phone lines.
The broadcasters also face limits imposed by the US on the amounts companies are allowed to spend in Cuba. The networks have asked the US to waive a limit of $100 per day per employee for living expenses. The provision of the Helms-Burton law is unreasonable, they said, because rates for hotel rooms has jumped from $70 to nearly $200 per night during the Holy Father's visit from January 21-25.
Meanwhile, Cubans continued their spiritual preparations for the visit with a New Years Day Mass celebrated in Havana's cathedral by Cardinal William Keeler of Baltimore and Cardinal Jaime Ortega of Havana. Cardinal Keeler is making a brief visit to the country to bring medical supplies from Baltimore-based Catholic Relief Services.
The December 30 cartoon by Paul Szep showed two men drinking beer in a pub and discussing the Irish peace process. One man says, "The peace process could destroy our way of life." He then says, "It would kill our ability to hate. And we'd have to go to work!" The other man responds, "Well, we do hate work!" The cardinal said the cartoon was offensive and crude and called for "an apology for the deep insult given to the Irish people and their many descendants here in the greater Boston community." He said the cartoon recalled 19th century depictions of Irishmen as "subhuman, drunk, and indolent."
The newspaper's editorial page editor, H.D.S. Greenway, apologized for the offense caused by the cartoon. "The Globe meant no insult to Irish people by publishing Paul Szep's cartoon of December 30," Greenway said in a prepared statement. "We thought the cartoon intended to mock only the men of violence on both sides of the sectarian divide in Northern Ireland, but we apologize for the offense it has so obviously given."