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From Zenit News Service. . .
From Zenit News Service. . .
Vatican Justice and Peace News
CATHOLIC ACTION SEEKS REDEFINITION OF LAITY'S ROLE
CHURCH'S RESPONSE TO GLOBALIZATION
PEACE MEANS DISARMAMENT
HOT TOY FOR CHRISTMAS MADE BY CHILD LABOR
INDIA DAY OF PROTEST AGAINST ANTI-CHRISTIAN VIOLENCE
WAVE OF RELIGIOUS FANATICISM THREATENS INDONESIA
HOLY SEE: PEACE MEANS DISARMAMENT
HOLY SEE: PEACE MEANS DISARMAMENTTOP
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."
CHURCH'S RESPONSE TO GLOBALIZATION TOP
CHURCH'S RESPONSE TO GLOBALIZATION TOP
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."
CATHOLIC ACTION SEEKS REDEFINITION OF LAITY'S ROLE
CATHOLIC ACTION SEEKS REDEFINITION OF LAITY'S ROLETOP
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."
INDIA: DAY OF PROTEST AGAINST WAVE OF ANTI-CHRISTIAN VIOLENCE
INDIA: DAY OF PROTEST AGAINST WAVE OF ANTI-CHRISTIAN VIOLENCETOP
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
WAVE OF RELIGIOUS FANATICISM THREATENS INDONESIAN STABILITY
WAVE OF RELIGIOUS FANATICISM THREATENS INDONESIAN STABILITYTOP
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
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
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.
HOT TOY FOR THIS CHRISTMAS MADE BY CHILD LABOR
HOT TOY FOR THIS CHRISTMAS MADE BY CHILD LABORTOP
'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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