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From Zenit News Service. . .

Vatican Justice and Peace News








Vatican Foreign 'Minister' States

ROME, DEC 6 (ZENIT).- "Let us hope that Europeans will never again be

obliged to choose between the sword and the shield but, rather, that they be

able to rejoice over being members of the same family." With these words,

Archbishop Jean-Louis Tauran ended his address at a meeting with his

European counterparts of the Organization for the Cooperation and Security

of Europe (OCSE), which took place in Oslo from December 2-3. Archbishop

Tauran is the 'Minister' of Foreign Affairs of the Holy See.

"The changes noted over the last few days prove once again the breadth of

services the OCSE offers Europe and the perseverance and dedication of this

organization to its objectives," Archbishop Tauran observed.

The Holy See participates fully in the activities of the OCSE, begun in

Helsinski. It works to preserve "global security" and to "infuse life into

an effective solidarity among the peoples and institutions of the member


However, the Archbishop pointed out, "in spite of all the effort, we can

detect that in the geopolitical realm the OCSE is still fragile"; there are

points of tension exemplified by the Balkans and the Caucasus "where

political, social and economic stability continue to be precarious in spite

of praiseworthy diplomacy."

Peace, Cooperation and Democracy

"Faithful to its commitments and to its specific dimension of 'moral force,'

the Holy See -- the Archbishop said --, wishes to recall that peace,

democracy, and international cooperation will never be a reality if three

fundamental conditions are not kept in mind: that 'peace' means respect for

everyone, big and small, with legitimate differences, overcoming the past

and respecting rights; that 'cooperation' means effective and progressive

disarmament, reduction of military costs, mutual trust, battle against

corruption and promotion of an economy of growth and solidarity; that

'democracy' means each person, social and ethnic group can enjoy legitimate

rights and that the politically responsible look after the needs of the

weakest sectors of society."

After reiterating to the Foreign ministers of the European countries that

these principles are the concrete expression of "the human dimension," the

Vatican representative said he is convinced the believers of the 55

countries represented in the OCSE, conscious of their responsibilities, will

know how to implement them. Thus genuine stability and security will

guarantee the fundamental rights of the human person: "the defense of life,

education in peace, creative solidarity, social justice, respect for nature,

without ignoring the religious dimension."

"The stability and security of Europe -- the Archbishop said -- will never

be an enduring reality, if they are based on a human and spiritual void."




Ad Limina Visit of the Episcopal Conference of the Pacific

VATICAN CITY, DEC 6 (ZENIT).- "It is really paradoxical that the promise

of unification promised by globalization should lead, at times, to divisions

and loss of identity. Instead of promoting cooperation and solidarity, it

can degenerate into an attitude of 'save yourself if you can' within and

among nations." In his address to the Episcopal Conference of the Pacific,

delivered yesterday during their "ad limina" visit, John Paul II referred to

the global village from the vantage point of countries historically isolated

by geography, which at present face an inexorable process of economic and

cultural unification. "You come representing a complex tapestry of races,

cultures and languages -- he said -- ; yet diversity is transcended in the

communion which is ours in the Body of Christ, the Church."

Indeed, the small Churches of the Pacific, with a total of some one million

Catholics (virtually 50% of the population), spread over enormous spans of

water, are separated by distances as far as 10,000 kilometers. Until

recently, the isolation and difficulties of communication had their

particular effect on life. Even today, in many of the islands, there is no

electricity and, consequently, no fax. Telephones were installed on the

island of Tokelau as recently as 1997. The trip from one island to another

is done weekly or twice-weekly on merchant ships. The majority of these

States (and dioceses) have a per capita income among the lowest in the world

(with the exception of New Caledonia which receives subsidies from France).

The quality of life is also poor: illiteracy runs as high as 30% in Samoa

and Vanuatu and there is an average of two doctors for every 10,000 persons

in the area.

But, as the Holy Father pointed out, many of the problems of the Churches

are linked to economic globalization: the poverty of the islands impels

many to emigrate to the larger cities of Australia and New Zealand,

abandoning their families and their traditions. The latter, in turn, are

tested by the strong Western influence which strikes through new means of

communication (press, radio and especially cinema), and tourism -- which

trivializes traditional values.

The Pontiff reminded the bishops of the Pacific that globalization "must not

mean the abuse of weaker nations by the stronger," it must not justify

"corruption which removes the heads of communities whom it should serve" nor

"unleash conflicts among divergent interests until the ordering of society

in favor of the common good is rendered impossible." Faced with these

situations, the Pope said, "the voice of the bishops must be heard with

clarity in favor of the spirit of cooperation and solidarity, the only

elements which can insure the welfare of your communities."

The Pope expects from the leaders of the Catholic Church in the Pacific,

"wisdom in discernment and courage in decisions" faced with the impact of

"cultural globalization," due to the rapid development of

telecommunications. Moreover, they should follow the example of "the heroic

work of the missionaries who sowed the seed of faith in the heart of these


Quoting Isaiah, the Pope referred to these distant lands in biblical terms.

'In the islands of the sea, we hear songs of praise to the name of the Lord,'

in order to call these Churches, which geographically are so distant from

Rome, to the "new evangelization."

Addressing the topic of inculturation, the Pope requested the Gospel purify

those areas which are contrary to the Christian message. He was referring

particularly to the fact that "in certain cultures, the traditions and

forms of government can influence the exercise of power on the part of the

bishop, tending to make him a distant figure instead of a father who is

both willing and able to listen to his priests and to his people."

The Church's contribution in these countries is decisive. These are young

nations, independent since the 60s (some are overseas territories of France,

others British or American protectorates); they have a fragile social and

political structure. The Churches should supplement care in the area of

health and education (there are around 200 Catholic schools).

The mission of these Churches is lively. The scarcity of priests mentioned by

the Pope (4 priests for every 10,000 faithful) is supplemented by an

extraordinary team of 3,057 catechists. These prayer leaders activate and

coordinate the life of the most distant communities, which the priests can

only visit a few times a year. In general, these catechists are well

trained; to them is owed the constant growth of faithful in the islands and

a virtually natural process of inculturation of the faith. But the Pope

requested that the clergy not be "laicized" nor the laity "clericalized."

He explained that the participation of the laity is not a response to the

lack of priests, but a manifestation of the impressive creativity of the

Spirit. "Yet at times -- the Holy Father pointed out -- lay responsibility

has been stressed in a way that sets it in opposition to priestly ministry.

The truth is that priestly leadership and lay responsibility are

complementary: where lay responsibility is rightly exercised, the priest's

ministry emerges in all its richness, and vice versa. The two vocations

need to be carefully distinguished, not separated, so that they may work

together in the deep harmony which the God-given nature of the Church

presumes. Priestly vocations flourish in situations where priests and lay

people work together in mutually enriching ways."



Italian Catholic Action Meets in General Assembly

ROME, DEC 6 (ZENIT).- The Italian Catholic Action (ACI) began its tenth

National Assembly today. It has 500,000 members and is represented in every diocese

and in one third of the parishes of Italy. ACI proposes a high ideal for

its members: the laity today must be mature, well prepared, and capable of

"participating and being co-responsible" in the "announcement of the Gospel

while incarnating it in daily life."

According to the organizers, the laity must live the values of the faith and

the Gospel "in the way they think and transmit it to the cultures of our

time." They must be prepared to have an on-going dialogue "with other men

and women and other cultures in order to renew the fabric of society and the

life of the country." The above ideals are what out-going president

Giuseppe Gervasio hopes to pass on to his successor.

The Italian ACI associations are very dynamic, but the "lack of visibility"

of the Catholic laity in the Church and in society, according to Gervasio,

is due to the fact that today there is a need to define the practical

application of the concepts of participation and co-responsibility, to

develop them further before implementing them and establishing a real

dialogue with society."

>From this point of view, "the cultural project of the Italian Church,

grounded in Christianity, could become effective as a means of communicating

with society and of encouraging a spirit in politics not limited to

pragmatism and opposition."

The ACI associations are committed to carrying forward the "slow action

resulting from dialogue" among all the ecclesial sectors, and of "searching

for answers to the questions coming from Italian society." To do this, ACI

will need people intensely committed to Christian values, especially in the

political area. "In a peaceful way, we must unmask and denounce all attempts

to favor dominant interests and support and value all forms of participation

and integration in order to revitalize civil society."



Archbishop de Lastic Says Catholic Response Is Prayer

NEW DELHI, DEC 6 (ZENIT).- The Christian minority held a National Day of

Protest on December 4 against Hindu fundamentalism and religious

intolerance and appealed to the government for measures to stem the

violence of the last few months.

Murdered priests, raped nuns, burnt churches are just some of the acts of

vandalism perpetrated against Christians by Hindu fundamentalists; the

nationalist Hindu government of the Baratiya Janata party seems indifferent.

Sonia Gandhi, leader of the Congress party, in opposition, has appealed for

sanity and peaceful coexistence among religions, cultures and parties.

The Forum of Christians United for Human Rights (UCHFR), which organized the

Day of Protest, said it has evidence of 120 cases of rape, burning of

Bibles, assaults, murders and other manifestations of anti-Christian

violence this year. The UCHFR reported that between 1964 and 1996, only 40

cases of this kind of persecution of the faith were recorded. John Dayal of

the UCHFR said: "It is not our responsibility to protect ourselves; it is

the responsibility of the State and the Government." The group accused

militant Hindus, supporters of the party in Government, for the growing

violence rooted in xenophobic prejudices.

"Anyone who is different is regarded as an enemy and attacked, threatened

and assaulted." More than 82% of the 960 million inhabitants of India are

Hindus, whereas only 2.3% belong to the different Christian denominations.

But the government party's acquiescence of violence has not been applauded

at the ballot boxes. The BJP, leader of a coalition which took power from

the Congress party -- the party of Indira, Rajiv and Sonia Gandhi --

suffered a loss in three states considered bastions of the party, to the

advantage of the Congress party. In Delhi, a stronghold of the BJP, with 49

of the total of 70 seats, it won only 15 seats, whereas Sonia Gandhi's party

won 51; the picture has been reversed.

Archbishop Alan de Lastic of Delhi gave a report on the situation, published

by the agency 'Fides,' on the occasion of the Day of Protest. He stated that

violence against Christians cannot be carried out without the connivance of

political elements, the complicity of the police and the conduct of the

judges. These facts have been presented to the National Commission for

Minorities but to no avail.

The Government has condemned fundamentalism and vandalism, but no one has

been arrested or punished for the crimes, the Archbishop pointed out. The

Christian community has responded first by praying; then, by their witness:

helping the poor and the forgotten. Third, by making the secular segment of

the Hindu population aware of what is going on, by joining movements for

civil liberties and for safeguarding the Constitution, and by action through

the UCFHR, created last October, and including all the Christian

denominations in India.

The campaign to instruct the people had some success: witness the results at

the polls. Sonia Gandhi -- member of a family martyred by Hindu

fundamentalism -- described it as an acknowledgement of the social policies

proposed by her party. The Congress party received the majority of votes in

Delhi from Christians and Moslems in the hope their interests will be

better represented.




Radical Christians Take Revenge Against Moslems

JAKARTA, DEC 4 (ZENIT).- A wave of religious violence has swept over

Indonesia, adding to existing de-stabilizing factors in the country, such as

student manifestations, attacks against foreign businessmen following the

financial crisis which ruined the country, and political unrest. General

Suharto resigned from power and is locked in his home, a virtual hostage of

the students.

Last Monday, groups of Christians attacked and set fire to several mosques,

in revenge for attacks on Catholic churches and Chinese Catholics. The

Christians also burnt a food store, an Islamic school and a hostel for

Islamic pilgrims in Kupang. This city has 120,000 inhabitants, the majority

of whom are Christians. On November 22, an Islamic crowd attacked and burnt

22 Christian churches in Jakarta and killed 14 persons.

Bishop Petrus Turnag of Kupang asked the Moslems for forgiveness and

appealed for calm. The Islamic leaders called on their people to cease the

round of violence. On Tuesday, both Christians and Moslems continued

attacking homes and properties, heedless of the call to sanity from their

religious leaders.

President B.J. Habibie condemned religious fanaticism and appealed for calm.

"We condemn the burning of a house of God," he said in response to Monday's

attack against four mosques. "We condemn it whether it is a mosque, a

church, or a temple. We condemn it because it goes against the values of our

culture, against the universal values of human rights."

More than 15 mosques have been burnt or looted during this past week; Moslem

crowds are attacking Christian homes and churches. Armed Moslems and

Christians are surrounding their places of worship to prevent further


Thousands of persons equipped with knives and other weapons barricaded the

streets of Kupang and began to attack one another. Troops patrol in some

parts of this city -- 1,700 miles southeast of Jakarta. The official news

agency Antara said that police have arrested the instigators of the trouble,

but authorities have not disclosed the number being interrogated.

Last Monday the Pope lamented the violence unleashed in parts of the Pacific

archipelago. He referred to the "wave of violence and division" that

afflicts the region. "We cannot do anything to prevent natural disasters,"

but "there are other causes of human suffering which are under our control,"

he said, pointing to the ongoing tribal wars and religious conflicts.

The transition government in Indonesia has announced general elections for

the month of June, and presidential elections for August, in an attempt to

stem the students demands for radical institutional reforms. They are

surrounding Suharto's home, as was the case with Marcos in the Philippines,

angry over the wealth accumulated in 32 years of absolute control of power.

President Yusuf Habibie has ordered an investigation of Suharto's patrimony.




'New York Post' Denounces Chinese Origin of "Furby"

NEW YORK, DEC 9 (ZENIT).- The toy most in demand this Christmas by American

children has a sad origin. "Furby," the unsociable duck which speaks through

a microchip and is successor to Tamagochi, is a product made in China by

child labor. The children are virtual slaves of the XX century, in working

conditions which do not respect their rights as defined by the United Nations

The 'New York Post' visited one of the factories where Furby is produced,

and raised the alarm. The toy, a hideous little hybrid felt animal talks,

sings and interacts with its owner. In Anglo-Saxon countries it has had

a real commercial "boom" notwithstanding the price -- $38.

In the United States, where two million Furbies have been sold, the

unsociable duck has become the star of sales. The demand is so great, in

some cities the police had to intervene to quell disturbances in the crowds

waiting to buy it.

Given the demand, Hasbro, the second largest toy manufacturer in the world,

has had no hesitation in subcontracting to Chinese labor. "The employees

work 14 hours a day for $20 a week," the 'New York Post' disclosed. The

factory at Shenzhen is crowded, noisy, with no fresh air; no worker wears

protective masks or gloves. "The enormous quantity of dust and chemical

products constitute grave threats to the respiratory system," said Chan

Ka-wai, director of an independent Hong Kong association in charge of

supervising conditions of work in Chinese factories.

Moreover, the building is a grave fire hazard. But such conditions are found

elsewhere in China, which produces 90% of the world's toys. In 1993, a

short-circuit in a doll factory caused the death of 87 women. Hasbro was

accused in 1996 by the World Development Movement "for its starvation

salaries and shameful conditions of work."

Marc Rosenberg, in charge of marketing for Hasbro, told the 'New York Post':

"we operate according to the economic climate and working conditions in





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