Return to Justpeace Front Page ... Continue to Home Index


Gleaned from various internet Catholic news services, particularly the Zenit News Agency, the Vatican Information Source, and Al-Bushra.

We are losing the war, report about a meeting of Catholic representatives with leaders of international financial institutions, including a director of the International Monetary Fund who is referred to as a "practicing Catholic".

Women hold key to the future of education, address by Bishop Wagner, Vatican Permanent Observer at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.

Report from Al-Bushra about the Conference on the status of Jerusalem

Bishops of the Indian Ocean Ad Limina visit

Catholic journalists contribute to papal charity. In his remarks, the pope said it is "everyone's duty to support projects which will enable men in each country to be more responsible for their own and their family future, and to make proper use of the resources of the land."

Chinese social and political leaders call for more democracy Beijing may be covering up evidence of disaffection with the regime.

Pope emphasizes vocation to peace and hospitality (in Costa Rica)

Crisis in Guinea-Bissau, episcopal headquarters bombed

Gerardi case: A premeditated coup against the Guatemalan church?

Korea: Evangelizing the North and evangelical poverty in the South

Kosovo refugees describes scenes of violence and cruelty

Oil pipeline tragedy in Nigeria the result of poverty and corruption, death toll is much higher than has been reported.

No human authority can legitimize euthanasia, remarks of the Pope at a conference for the elderly.

Recognition of de facto unions a threat to the family

Unicef rejected contributions from the Holy See

Vietnam UN envoy meets with detained religious leaders

Special Report: Vatican symposium on the Inquisition

...Inquisition: an ecclesiastical tribunal rather than a political court

...Pope requests open-mindedness in evaluating evidence

...The Spanish Inquisition

...Objectives of the Symposium on the Inquisition


Address by Bishop Wagner, Vatican Permanent Observer at FAO

ROME, NOV 2 (ZENIT).- "The value of woman in feeding the world is

immeasurable, and it is not limited to the preparation of meals and the

feeding of children," Bishop Alois Wagner -- permanent observer of the Holy

See at the Rome-based U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) --

asserted. The Vatican diplomat was in full agreement with the decision of

the U.N. Food Fund to dedicate a day last month to the topic, "Woman Feeds

the World."

This is a topic that must be broadened, Bishop Wagner said, because woman

"not only prepares meals and feeds the children but, in addition, she has

the fundamental role of educating the children and forming their character

for the future of society, not just for the production of food but for its

responsible use."

After referring to the 800 million people who live in the world below the

minimum standard of nutrition -- a figure mentioned at the FAO summit two

years ago, the Vatican representative said that "the reference to figures

is always difficult because it is based on estimates which do not take into

consideration the human catastrophes and the wars, which are among the

great causes of malnutrition. Here the international and local political

powers come into play."

In referring to Angola, Bishop Wagner added: "it is potentially rich," but

"the struggle for power with arms sold by the West, has destroyed the

country and created problems of mal nutrition." Nevertheless, he recognized

"that positive steps have been taken on a world scale against hunger."

If the principal causes of hunger are political, how can women help to

solve the problem when they are daily involved with working for their

families? With firmness and admiration, the Vatican diplomat responded:

"they are already doing so because in the situations mentioned earlier the

woman is the only one who daily does that marvelous job which allows the

family to survive."



VATICAN CITY, OCT 29, 1998 (VIS) - The Holy Father this morning received

the Letters of Credence presented by the new ambassador of Costa Rica,

Javier Guerra Laspiur, and in his speech highlighted the "vocation to

peace" and the hospitality which have always characterized this country.

The abolition of the army, he said, has enabled Costa Rica to destine

State funds for education and social welfare. Moreover, "your country has

always distinguished itself by its hospitality. In recent years, thousands

of Central American citizens, due to difficult social, political and

economic situations in their native countries, have made their way to Costa

Rica in search of refuge."

Referring to the importance of the family in society, the Pope said that

it is here that "children learn from their parents a respect for human life

as being sacred and inviolable. ... It is also a school of pure virtues.

These give the Church and society exemplary Christians and citizens who

fight against corruption, violence, delinquency and moral degradation in

its most diverse and painful manifestations."

John Paul II highlighted that the Catholic Church in this country "makes

notable efforts at all levels to care for orphaned and abandoned children,

defenseless elderly people and terminally ill AIDS patients." Likewise, the

Church also seeks to help "families hit by unemployment and a lack of

housing," and those who are handicapped.

"It is also known," concluded the Pope, "that your country is making

significant efforts to improve its economy. Thus, it is to be hoped that

these economic improvements will benefit above all the poorest sectors of

the population. Hence, social peace, far from becoming shattered, will grow

stronger every day."



VATICAN CITY, OCT 29, 1998 (VIS) - Prelates from the Episcopal Conference

of the Indian Ocean were received by John Paul II today as they came to the

end of their quinquennial "ad limina" visit.

Addressing the bishops in French, the Pope acknowledged that they

exercise their ministry in a context marked by "great diversity" and one of

great distances as well, where "dioceses (are) on islands which are often

very far from each other." He said that such diversity is "a wealth for the

witness to the universality and unity which the Church of Christ must give

in the midst of nations."

The Pope asked the bishops to convey his encouragement to the priests in

their care, and he reminded them: "Your communities need ordained ministers

inspired by a profound apostolic spirit, ... ever more united with their

bishop, ... and faithful to the mission they have received." He likewise

sent "cordial best wishes" and encouragement to the men and women religious

of these island dioceses.

"To favor the vitality of the Christian communities spread over vast

areas," he stated, "it could be useful to promote in your regions the

permanent diaconate, which is an important resource for the Church's

mission." And he also suggested that the prelates "dedicate particular care

to priestly and religious vocations. ... Be attentive in passing on to

young people the Lord's invitation to follow Him for service to the Church

and the world!"

Turning to the pastoral ministry of the family, John Paul II remarked

that, "since many people ... do not see the need for marriage, it is one of

the premiere requirements of the Church to create a greater awareness of

the human and spiritual meaning (of marriage), as well as that of the

family. These are realities wished by God which are essential for the life

of the Church and that of society."

He affirmed that young people must be prepared "to form united families,

open to life," and they must "be able to discover the greatness and role of

the sacrament of matrimony which makes spouses cooperators in the love of

God the Creator in transmitting the gift of human life."

"A solid human and spiritual formation must help youth ... to develop all

the dimensions of their being and to take their place in society. ...

Catholic schools ... play an important role ... in transmitting true moral

and spiritual values." They also play, he added, a role in "preparing lay

Christians to take an active part in all realms of their country's life."

Pope John Paul II closed with an appeal, in view of the approaching final

year of preparation for the Great Jubilee, "to stress more clearly the

Church's preferential option for the poor and (those who are) excluded. The

witness of charity is in fact fundamental in a Christian's life. ...

Through her charitable commitments, the church also wishes to show that it

is the very meaning of a person's life and dignity which is at stake."

AL/.../INDIAN OCEAN VIS 981029 (490)


Last Monday-Tuesday 26 - 27 of October a Vatican Conference about

Jerusalem was held at the Latin Patriarchate, after the opening at the

"Knights' Palace" Hotel (new Gate, Old City , Jsalem).

Attended by four cardinals (among whom Cal. Furno, Prefect of the Sacred

Oriental Congregation and Cal. LAW of the U.S.) it was an initiative of the

Holy See and of Patriarch Michel Sabbah in order to deepen the awareness of

the Catholic Bishops' Conferences all over the world about the Jerusalem

question. A signifcant presence and participation was that of Archbishop

Tauran, deputy secretary of State of the Vatican.

The Conference was restricted to the participants (Cardinals,

Roman Catholic Bishops - heads or/and representatives of Bishops'

Conferences of all continents, Armenian and Greek orthodox Bishops) and

lecturers or "speakers" : Archbishop Tauran who presented the Holy See

position and its endeavor for peace, justice and a sort of international

status for Jerusalem (an other Holy Places); Patriarch Sabbah who

presented the 1994 memorandum of the three Patriarchs of Jerusalem and

other Heads of other Churches (in total thirteen).

M. Fayssal Husseini, Responsible for the Jerusalem question in the

Palestinian National Authority and Autonomy; Mr. Hayym Ramon, ex minister of

Interior and Israeli Parliament (Knesset) Member from the "Labor Party" (Avodah), a

rather moderate politician who viewed the Yossi Beilin- Aboo Mazin plan

to foster a wider Jerusalem and then to divide it into two cities,

capitals of TWO STATES, the isr. and the palestinian.

Mr. Harry Hagopian, an Armenian Catholic prominent member of the Middle East

Council of Churches presented the daily life problems of palestinians ,

especially christians, in Jerusalem.

Fr. Majdi Syriani, from the Latin patriarchate, pastor of Beit Sahoor

(Shepherds' Field), presented a brilliant paper about the "Legal status of

Jerusalem" denouncing Israel's NON compliance with the U.N. resolutions

especially Security Council resolution 242...

Archbishop Timotheos from the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate (Secretary of

Patriarch Diodoros I) about the position of his Church...

The contents of the meetings and debates were confidential, yet a

general line could be seen and was stressed on in the opening ceremony

and press conference:

1) The Holy See fosters an internationally guaranteed status of Jerusalem.

2) Condemns the unilateral annexation of East Jerusalem by Israel back in 1967

very soon after the israeli occupation of that part of the City.

3) Condemns the discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Jerusalem and

the attempt to withdraw from thousands of them their isr. identity cards.

4) Condemns alos the injustice in water and electricity supplies towards

Palestinians especially in the Gaza strip...

As for me , I attended the lectures and meetings as translator (most

of the time from English) into Spanish. I am dedlighted to send this summary - but yet first hand information - to Al-Bushra and its dear readers and participants ! Let us "pray for the peace of Jerusalem".

If we receive the authorization of publishing any of the papers, we shall let you know.

A Palestinian Christian proverb says :"Jerusalem is the balance of the

world". So, in order to have a peaceful world, we need a peaceful Jerusalem !

Fr. Peter Hanna Madros

Correspondant of Al-Bushra website in Jerusalem



Requests that Jubilee of Year 2000 be Concerned with Justice

VATICAN CITY, OCT 23 (ZENIT).- To open one's heart to the poor, both those

who are close and those who are far, is an essential aspect of the

tradition of the Church and a tangible testimony of Christ's loving

presence among men. With these words John Paul II welcomed the

representatives of the Association of Catholic Journalists of Belgium who,

every year, come to Rome to give the Pontiff a donation from the Catholic

readers of Belgium to support the charitable mission of the Church.

The Holy Father thanked those present and all who had contributed and,

paraphrasing Origen said, "to lose something for God means to find it many

times over."

Reflecting on how the donation could best be used, the Holy Father said:

In building society today, it is necessary "to support the social

development of peoples through education and adequate training in all

fields, so that each one will be responsible for his own and the

community's future, in order to take their proper place in the community of nations." In

particular, he added, "it is everyone's duty to support projects which

will enable men in each country to be more responsible for their own and

their family future, and to make proper use of the resources of the land."

John Paul II took advantage of his meeting with the Belgian journalists to

renew his appeal to all Christians that the Jubilee of the year 2000 be

characterized by concern "for justice in the distribution of wealth among

peoples and nations."




Pope Gives Lesson on Political Ethics to 200 European Politicians and


VATICAN CITY, OCT 23 (ZENIT).- In our day, some voices described as

democratic assert that "the politician must make a dichotomy between his

private conscience and his political action." Addressing the 200 Catholic

European politicians and legislators, at a meeting in the Vatican organized

by the Pontifical Council for the Family, John Paul II unmasked the dangers

that lie behind these widely held opinions. The Pope said, "a democracy is

sustained or dies according to the values it embodies and promotes:

certainly the dignity of each human person; the respect for his

inalienable, inviolate rights; as well as the 'common good,' are the

imperative, fundamental values which must regulate political life."

False Rights Of De Facto Couples

Although he did not mention it explicitly, the Holy Father took advantage

of the opportunity to criticize the proposed European legislation to

establish de facto couples as an institution, which was presented in the

French parliament and has already suffered a setback, and which at present

is being considered by political forces in a number of other European

countries. "In seeking legitimate solutions to modern problems in society -- the Pope said -- the

family cannot be placed on a par with simple associations or unions; the

latter cannot benefit from the rights linked exclusively to the protection

of the conjugal and familial commitment based on matrimony."

The Pontiff went on to clarify: "While respecting the legitimate freedom of

persons, to make de facto couples equivalent to matrimony, and to legalize

other forms of relations between persons, is a grave decision which can

cause harm to the conjugal and familial institution. In the long run, it

will be a pity if the laws are not grounded on the principles of the

natural law, but, instead, on the arbitrary will of persons who will to

give the same judicial standing to different forms of common life, causing

many confusions."

The Pope's meeting with the politicians and legislators turned into a

veritable course in political ethics. "The reforms which are germane to

family structure consist, above all, in reinforcing conjugal ties and

giving greater support to family structures, keeping in mind that the

children, who in the future will be the agents of social life, are the

heirs of the values received and the care given to their spiritual, moral

and human formation."

The Human Person Is Above Politics And Economics

John Paul II spoke to an auditorium among whose listeners were the

president of the Generalitat of Catalonia and Valencia, Jordi Pujol and

Eduardo Zaplana; Carlo Cassini, the European parliamentarian known for his

defense of life; the president of the Polish senate, Alicia Grzeskowiak;

and the Norwegian Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Janne Haaland

Matlary. As he spoke to these leaders, the Pope grew more forceful: "The

dignity of the person and the family can never be subordinated to political

or economic considerations, and much less to the opinions of future

pressure groups, no matter how important they might be. The exercise of

power resides in the search for objective truth, and in the service of man and of society,

acknowledging every human being, including the smallest and poorest. A

person's dignity is of the highest value; this is the foundation on which

all future political and judicial decisions for civilization must be based."

As regards children, John Paul II reiterated the need to help "parents of

families to fulfill their educational mission, especially on issues like

responsibility and subsidiarity, and thus confirm the enormous value of

this service. It is about a duty and a genuine solidarity by all the

national community. In a certain sense, a society and its future depend on

the family policy that governs."

The Pontiff denounced once again all actions against life, deceptively

described as freedom of action, but which in reality threaten the unborn,

the elderly and the sick. In face of this "culture of death," which is a

kind of "anesthesia of consciences," and "a threat to humanity," John Paul

II invited Catholic politicians of good will to "join forces with patience

and determination for the victory of the culture of life."



Disclosures by John Paul II's "Ambassador" at U.N.

ROME, OCT 29 (ZENIT).- From October 22-24 the Pontifical Council for the

Family held the second meeting of European politicians and legislators in

the Vatican. Significant personalities have delivered very interesting

talks. ZENIT will offer its readers extracts from the most important


Archbishop Renato Martino, permanent observer of the Holy See at the United

Nations in New York, summarized the evolution of international strategies

resulting from the U.N. Conference on Population in Cairo (1994) and on

Woman in Beijing (1995).

"Undoubtedly, Beijing was the catalyst which made possible genuine progress

in the political, economic and social rights of women, -- Archbishop

Martino explained --. According to the U.N. Section for the Progress of

Women, since 1995 one hundred forty countries have established a structure,

at the national level -- be it a commission or ministry -- to promote the

cause of women. Ninety-nine countries have elaborated national plans with

this objective in mind."

"Moreover, -- Archbishop Martino emphasized -- since the Cairo and Beijing

Conferences, there has been a marked increase in contraception throughout

the world. Both summits contributed to the adoption of demographic programs

in 70% of the U.N. member states. And laws for the liberalization of

abortion have multiplied, although not as extensively as originally feared."

Support of Chinese Population Policy

The Pope's "ambassador" said the United Nations agencies have been very

influenced by these two Conferences. The Population Fund, for instance,

which by agreement collaborates with several contributing countries and

private groups -- such as the International Planned Parenthood Federation

-- spends some $335 million a year in an effort to reduce the population of

poor countries. At present, the Population Fund has programs in 157

countries. It exerts aggressive pressure on governments to modify laws in

order to implement programs to control the population. In addition, it

designs programs of sexual education and offers chemical and mechanical

contraceptives. This work is carried out in a controversial program costing

$20 million which supports the draconian demographic policy of the Popular

Republic of China."

The Case of UNICEF

As regards UNICEF (the U.N. Fund for children), Archbishop Martino

disclosed that "for many years the Holy See made an annual contribution to

this U.N. agency, as a symbol of its desire to work with institutions

sharing its concern for children. In 1996, however, it became evident that

UNICEF distributed contraceptives. Along with the World Health Organization (WHO),

the U.N. High Commission for Refugees, and the Population Fund, UNICEF was

involved in the promotion of abortive contraceptives and, in contradiction

to its mission statement, in sexual education following a Western model,

with children it was meant to help. As a result, the Holy See requested

that its contributions be destined strictly to endeavors the Vatican considers

imperative. The executive director of UNICEF energetically rejected this

request, and the Holy See was obliged to discontinue its contribution."

Reproductive Health or Right to Abortion

"The U.N. High Commission for Refugees is an agency which helps 22.3

million refugees and exiles; they depend on it for their survival. Today it

is clearly evident this agency has been greatly influenced by Cairo and

Beijing. In November, 1996 the office announced its association with the

U.N. Population Fund in a project of $500,000 to offer "emergency services

for reproductive health" which included the abortive pill and "assistance

in incomplete abortions" to women and girl refugees, in areas threatened by

the war in Rwanda. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Moon

Associations collaborated with the U.N. in the execution of the project.

The High Commission for Refugees continues to carry out these operations,

pretending to offer other vulnerable groups the same 'reproductive

services' it does in Rwanda."

Archbishop Martino also disclosed the effects of the Cairo Conference on

the World Health Organization. "In its effort to apply the Cairo platform,

-- he said -- WHO is now giving much attention to 'reproductive health.'

This category is included in all its propaganda, as well as in its

technical support, research, development of technology and national and

international alliances." WHO explains that its objective is to re-enforce

the national capacity to promote and protect sexual and reproductive health

and access to the necessary services."




Serbian Police Have Tortured and Murdered Innocent Civilians

ROME, OCT 28 (ZENIT).- Doctors Without Frontiers (MSF), the

non-governmental organization of French origin, has made a chilling report

of the atrocities committed by the Serbian police and army in the province

of Kosovo. Severed heads, quartered ears, whole families murdered, groups of

men massacred, women and children hostages, houses set on fire -- an

interminable list of horrors recounted to the MSF volunteers by those who

were able to escape. The atrocities were committed between September 23 and

October 5 of this year.

During the operation, one witness who escaped recounted, "an 18 year old

girl tried to save herself and was shot to death. Her eyes were torn out. I

shall ask myself all my life how can such things happen." According to the

MSF volunteers, each offensive was announced by the arrival of tanks. "Then

the police made their appearance. One could say, everything was set for the


When they failed to burn houses, they tortured and killed. The Serbian

forces raided the few pieces of gold of the women, or exchanged human lives

for thousands of marks. An elderly man paid 2,000 marks so save five

persons. "I saw a mentally retarded boy knifed to death, an 80 year old

woman with her ears cut off ... before our very eyes they tore her ears off

and a man put them in her hand, they sprayed gasoline on the children's

clothes to terrorize them, they grabbed young fellows, put projectiles in

their pockets and then threw them out yelling: 'Look, a terrorist!' and

they would run away," witnesses told the MSF volunteers.

The witnesses spoke of 600 persons detained in Golubovac, in the region of

Drenica. On September 27 the police invaded the Drznik mosque, dispersed

those who had sought refuge there, and forced them to board buses. Belgrade

television showed pictures of a virtually deserted mosque, saying that the

mass arrival of refugees was a "show" organized for the United Nations

mission which had arrived on the site.




Humanitarian Emergency: Every Week Four Children Die of Hunger

BISSAU, OCT 26 (ZENIT).- With food reserves finished, and a civil war

which has been raging since last June 7, 300,000 displaced persons in the

small African country of Guinea Bissau are at risk of dying of hunger. The

episcopal headquarters in the capital were heavily bombarded just before

the surprise visit of Portugal's Minister of Foreign Affairs who has come

to mediate peace in this former Portuguese colony. Four of the eight

buildings of the episcopal headquarters, among them the social center and

the private residence of the Bishop, have been severely damaged. Neither

the Bishop, Settimio Ferrazzetta, nor the personnel at the office suffered

grave injuries.

The canon balls were launched, without much precision, perhaps from a

Senegalese warship anchored in the port of the capital. Senegal sent 2,000

men to support president Joao Bernardo Vieira, who is not very popular with

the people, and who is threatened by a rebel troops which have already

taken 90% of the territory as well as the principal cities.

The Portuguese minister hopes to mediate peace in this country greatly

lacerated by war. There is talk of president Vieira abandoning Guinea

Bissau and seeking voluntary exile in Portugal, following a supposed plan

elaborated by the governments of Lisbon and Paris. In the meantime, a

two-day cease-fire was declared last Friday by the chief of the rebel

forces, general Ansumane Mane.

"The humanitarian situation is very serious," the Portuguese ambassador,

Francisco Henriquez, said on Portuguese radio. "The country has been taken

and there is great scarcity of food."

Giuseppe Fumagalli, a missionary on the Senegalese border, said that "the

displaced persons have found hospitality with families who live near our

mission. As no humanitarian aid has been received, they have finished the

food reserves of the community." The missionary stated that in his zone,

four children die of hunger every week.

Yesterday some aid arrived in the capital: 12 tons of rice and one of meat.

It was distributed, by the personnel of the Portuguese cooperation endeavor

and the World Food Program (PAM) of the U.N., to six thousand displaced

persons, who are being housed in the regional residence of the Pontifical

Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME), on the outskirts of the capital.

Help was also given to 20,000 refugees in the Franciscan leper colony of

Cumura (near the capital) as well as 1,500 refugees in the Parish of Our

Lady of Fatima. All of which is a minimum contribution compared to what the

country needs at this point in time with 300,000 displaced persons who are

threatened by starvation.




President Zemin Believes that New Avenues Would Cause Economic Instability

BEIJING, OCT 25 (ZENIT).- University professors, parliamentarians and

government consultants are showering petitions on those responsible in the

Communist Party for a radical change and adoption of more democratic

methods as soon as possible.

Non-communist intellectuals and politicians go so far as to request that

China follow the example of "South Korea and Taiwan" in carrying out

political reforms. The news was published in the daily "South China Morning

Post." According to this Hong Kong newspaper, sources close to president

Jiang Zemin confirm that the president is disturbed by the criticisms of

the delay in implementing the promised reforms. Several of Zemin's advisers

have suggested, in recent months, that he hold direct elections. At

present, such elections have taken place -- by way of experiment -- only in

a few rural settlements. In the past, the president seemed to share this

point of view, but at present he is more concerned with insuring economic

stability, given the Asian crisis.

The criticisms against the government originate, primarily, in the National

Assembly of the People, and the Consulting Political Conference of the

Chinese People, that counts on the membership of some of the most colorful

personalities in the Party. According to the "South China Morning Post,"

the members of these two organizations have advised the president to take

into account the democratic processes underway in South Korea and Taiwan.

They warned him, moreover, that failing liberalization, China runs the risk

of "being like Indonesia or Malaysia," where the population is in open

conflict with the government.




State "Respects Religious Liberty," But Prohibits "Superstitious Practices"

HANOI, OCT 25 (ZENIT).- The special U.N. envoy for religious intolerance,

Abdelfattah Amor, began his 10-day visit to Vietnam on October 19. Le Quang

Vinh, who heads the Vietnamese Commission for Religious Affairs, said that

the government has allowed him to meet in private with representatives of

all the religious groups of the country, and added: "Much of the news abroad

about religions in Vietnam is false and mistaken." Mr. Amor will also meet

with two Buddhist monks who have been in jail for two years, accused of

having organized help, without authorization, in a southern area affected

by floods.

The humanitarian organization Human Rights Watch has stated that "the visit

is not in itself a sign of greater liberty." Sidney Jones, director of the

Asian section of Watch said: "We will follow very closely how the

Vietnamese government reacts to Amor's recommendations. After a similar

visit to China in 1994, Amor made a series of useful recommendations to the

Chinese government on how to increase religious liberty, but none of them

were implemented. We hope this government will not do the same." He added

that the official visit should not be used as a cover for the Vietnamese

government, which must change its policy of restrictions and abuses towards


In previous reports, Amor studied the treatment of religious minorities,

the jailing of activists, the restrictions on religious education, the

distribution of religious material and the state controls on religious

organizations. If his visit is of the same tenor as his previous missions,

Amor will produce a report at the beginning of 1999 and will present it to

the U.N. Commission on Human Rights in mid March.

According to the international agency "Fides," the visit of the special

observer comes just one month after the liberation of at least eleven known

Vietnamese dissidents and religious leaders, the result of an amnesty given

to more than five thousand prisoners. Among the religious leaders freed

were the monks Thich Quang Do, Thich Tri Sieu and Tich Tue Sy, all members

of the United Buddhist Church of Vietnam (considered to be outside the

law), and Paul Nguyen Chau Dat and Tadeo Dinh Viet Hieu, members of the

Congregation of Mary Co-Redemptrix. It is not clear what the motive was for

the amnesty, but Amor's visit could have been a determining factor. The

government has not made public the list of freed prisoners, creating

confusion about who remains in prison. It is assumed, however, that dozens

of religious leaders are still in jail or under house arrest, or in

"administrative detention," according to Directive 31/C which permits

jailing without due process for two years, by order of the Ministry of the Interior.

Other violations of religious liberty in Vietnam are due to an order that

all religious activities be approved by the State. This has led to the

restriction of movement of the religious leaders and to a certain control

of homilies and speeches. Last July, the government drafted a new law on

religions, in which it establishes that the State "respects religious

liberty," but prohibits "superstitious practices." The draft prohibits the

printing and distribution of Bibles, the excessive mobility of the people

and threatens with legal measures those who use religion to cause social

disturbance or to oppose the government.




Bishops Denounce Campaign Against the Hierarchy

GUATEMALA, OCT 25 (ZENIT).- The murder of Bishop Jose Gerardi Conedera and

all that has ensued since then is a "premeditated coup against the Church,"

the Guatemalan Episcopal Conference asserted.

"We do not discount the possibility that they are trying to send us a

message, under the pretext of pointing out limitations to our pastoral

action; but for us, it is a reminder that the darkest powers of the country

are intact and possess enormous power," the Conference stated.

The communiqué, which was made public on Saturday by Bishop Gerardi's

substitute, Mario Rios Montt, reveals that "there is evidence that a

campaign is underway to discredit our Church."

According to Bishop Rios, there is a very well planned campaign to

undermine the credibility of the Church in Guatemala. "It is not about a

few, but about a very well orchestrated campaign in which everyone knows

his job," he added.

The Church appealed to the authorities for justice in finding the

perpetrators of the crime against Bishop Juan Gerardi, murdered last April

26. The Conference of Bishops was united in its support of Father Mario

Orantes, who has been accused of the crime. "He is a scapegoat," Bishop Rios

Montt asserted.

Father Orantes' lawyer, Jose Toledo, said that the priest's judicial

situation will be decided on November 10. On that day, both sides will

appeal to the tribunal and explain their case.




Economic Crisis: Parishes Undergo Conversion in Poverty

SEOUL, NOV 1 (ZENIT).- With the rapid approach of the new millennium, the

Church in South Korea has taken some simple but effective measures to

promote justice and peace, reconciliation and a more Christian society:

above all -- conversion.

On October 15, at the end of their autumn General Assembly, the Bishops

published a Message which called for a "New Day, A Movement for New Life,"

for spiritual renewal, and proposed activities that Catholic individuals,

families, organizations and action groups, as well as parishes and

dioceses, could carry out to build a more Christian society in the year

2000. The suggestions include prayer, study of the Word of God and of the

teachings of the Church, and concern for others as opposed to oneself. The

bishops exhort Catholics to "renew themselves first and then to cooperate

in the renewal of the world." This will demand effort "to stress

reconciliation for the happiness of the family; to be good neighbors; to work with other

Christians for Christian unity; to respect other religions; to pray and

work for the reconciliation of the Korean nation; to respect nature and the


In the second place, the prelates encourage living the virtue of poverty.

Judging from the Seoul Archdiocesan plan "Missionary Parishes," the current

economic crisis is a blessing in disguise. Father Lee Ki-woo of the

Archdiocesan committee for urban pastoral care said: "The system of values

based on evangelical poverty, 'to have less and to use less,' is the only

way to survive the I.M.F. [International Monetary Fund]. We can turn the

I.M.F. into an opportunity to create a structure of solidarity, which means

living together socially and ecclesiastically:"

The concept "missionary parish," means to be a poor parish and to have a

poor parish priest. The parish priest is close to the people and lives like

them: he cooks for himself, does the administration and has no domestic

help, following the Lord's command: "Go not take a bag, or knapsack,

or sandals" (Lk 10,3). The initiative of the missionary parish is a

response to modern Korean society, which is increasingly de-Christianized,

and to the abyss which separates the rich from the poor.

Up until now, the missionary work for the poor was conducted by missionary

congregations or foreign missionaries. At present, several priests from the

Archdiocese of Seoul have decided in favor of a simple and poor life in

their work of evangelization. Father Lee Ki-woo emphasized: "Mission does

not just mean baptisms, but working to improve the world." Moreover, 60 of

the 622 priests of the Archdiocese of Seoul have responded to the call of

Andres Tchoi, Auxiliary Bishop of Seoul for a mission in North Korea. Tchoi

made this request on the occasion of the reunification of the Pastoral

Committee with the Reconciliation Committee, both of his Archdiocese.

Twenty of the priests are from the diocese of Pyongyang (North Korea).

Bishop Tchoi said on September 1 that he needed some 50 or 60 priests to

evangelize North Korea.




I.M.F. Acknowledges Slowness in Struggle Against Poverty and Foreign Debt

WASHINGTON, OCT 30 (ZENIT).- Following the meeting of Catholic religious

leaders with representatives of the international financial institutions,

held at the University of Seton Hall in New Jersey, Michel Camdessus,

director of the International Monetary Fund, a practicing Catholic, said

that it is necessary that the policy on international debt have two

important focal points: "the relief of debt and the decrease of poverty."

If the focus is exclusively on the relief of debt, "we might win a battle,

but we will have lost the war." At present "we are losing that war."

The meeting was attended by leaders of international financial

organizations, important officials of the U.S. government, of the clergy,

and experts on ethics from the United States, the Vatican, Africa and Latin

America, as well as representatives from private banks, universities and

other non-governmental organizations, invited to reflect on "The Ethical

Dimensions of the International Debt."

Medardo Mazombwe, Archbishop of Lusaka, said that "the cancellation of the

debt of the poor countries is an economic necessity and a moral imperative."

Among other clergy present were : Bishop Diamuid Martin, secretary of the

Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace; Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick

of Newark: Archbishop Oscar Rodriguez of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, and

president of CELAM -- the Latin American Episcopal Conference; and Bishop

Robert Sheeran, president of Seton Hall University.






Richard Burke, Bishop of Warri, Reveals Casualties Much Higher Than Admitted

WARRI, NOV 1 (ZENIT).- It took five days to put out the fire of an oil

pipeline which crosses the region of Warri, in the south of Nigeria. The

explosion caused more than one thousand deaths, among people trying to take

oil by sabotaging the installation. Bishop Richard Burke, after a week of

frenetic activity to help the wounded, has given the Vatican agency "Fides"

information on the situation and the problems that led to the tragedy.

What is the present situation?

BISHOP BURKE: No one knows the exact number of victims. The police counted

432 charred bodies, but many could have dragged themselves to the forest:

some died there, others at home, and others in hospitals of the area.

Probably, the number of victims oscillates between one thousand and 1,600.

I have asked the heads of villages for a list of the dead, but these might

well be incomplete. The military administrator of the region has said he

will hunt down all those who were trying to get oil. This threat has caused

many of the wounded to flee the hospitals: whoever could not leave on his

own was helped by family members. This is why it is impossible to know the

number of those burned. I have begged the village chiefs to go from house

to house to identify those who need medical care. The small Catholic

community has prepared for this. For the time being, care is being given to

85 who are hospitalized. Many of them have mortal burns. Whoever survives

will need plastic surgery.

Are there social and economic reasons that set off this tragedy?

BISHOP BURKE: The region of Warri and the south of the country have

substantial oil production. But, for the last year a long line was

necessary to get gasoline, and the price was three to ten times higher than

what the government established; the cause: disorganization, avarice and


The interests of a small group of corrupt agents contributes to maintain

this lack of gasoline and the government -- which has often promised to

intervene -- has done nothing. The people need gasoline, and when they

realized that a "river" of highly refined petrol, destined for areas that

do not produce oil, ran under their feet, they organized themselves to obtain what

they were being denied. Moreover, for the past two weeks there have been

confrontations between two ethnic groups. Near the Cathedral there was one

such incident on August 23 which cost some 20 lives. The façade of the

Cathedral was damaged by the shooting. Now there is a curfew and strong

police and army presence. The Church offered to mediate, but has been


How is the Church involved?

BISHOP BURKE: The Bishops Conference and some dioceses have sent emergency

help: teams of doctors and funds to cover the care and transport of the

wounded. We have also established a first aid team, organized by the

Missionaries of Charity (the daughters of Mother Theresa), which goes to

villages and helps those who are afraid to go to hospital. The nursing

sisters coordinate the care for the patients at the General Hospital of

Sapele. We have also prayed for the dead and their families in the communal

burial tomb. And we are planning a solemn funeral. We will have to give

special help to those in mourning and to the survivors.






"A Tormented Phase in History of Church"

VATICAN CITY, NOV 1(ZENIT).- "The problem of the Inquisition belongs to a

tormented phase in the history of the Church, which I have invited

Christians to examine in a spirit of sincerity and open mindedness." With

these words, John Paul II addressed the participants of the international

symposium on the "Inquisition" yesterday at the Vatican. The symposium was

organized by the Historico-Theological Commission of the Central Committee

preparing for the Great Jubilee.

Referring to his letter, "Tertio Millennio Adveniente," the Pope said that

this is "another painful chapter to which the children of the Church must

return with a spirit of repentance over the acquiescence, especially during

some centuries, on methods of intolerance and even violence in the service

of truth."

After pointing out that an expert, who "keeps strictly to his field of

research and the valid methodology in the area of his competence, can serve

the cause of truth," John Paul expressed his agreement with the

Historico-Theological Commission in "been unable to comment adequately on

the Inquisition without first hearing the experts in historical sciences

whose competence is recognized universally."

Specifically, the Pope said that "the ecclesiastic Magisterium cannot

propose to carry out an act of an ethical nature, as is the petition for

forgiveness, without first being comprehensively informed on the situation

of those times. But neither can it lean on images of the past, transmitted

by public opinion, as at times these are charged with emotional passion

which precludes a serene and objective diagnosis. If the Magisterium did

not keep this in mind, it would do a disservice to truth. This is why the

first step is to request historians, who are not being asked an ethical

judgement, which is beyond their competence, to help to reconstruct as closely as

possible, the events, practices and mentality, in the light of the historic

context of the time. Only when history has been able to re-establish the

truth of the deeds, can the theologians and the ecclesiastic Magisterium, be

in a position to give an objective judgement."

The Pontiff thanked the participants for the service they have rendered,

expressing the appreciation of the Church for the work undertaken. "This is

an eminent contribution to the new evangelization," the Holy Father said.

By way of resume, the Pope expressed a very special concern: "The request

for forgiveness, which at this time has attracted so much attention, refers

in the first place to the life of the Church, her mission to proclaim the

message of salvation, her witness to Christ, her commitment to unity, in a

word, the coherence which should be the distinguishing mark of Christian

existence. But the light and strength of the Gospel, on which the Church

depends, has the ability to enlighten and support, as from superabundance,

the choices and actions of civil society, with full respect for its

autonomy. And this is why the Church does not cease to act, with the

appropriate means, in favor of peace and the promotion of human rights. On

the threshold of the third millennium, it is legitimate to hope that those

responsible among politicians and people, especially those involved in

dramatic conflicts fed by hatred and the memory of --at times --very old

wounds, will allow themselves to be led by the spirit of forgiveness and

reconciliation evinced by the Church, and make an effort to resolve their

differences through open and loyal dialogue."




Response from Vice-President of Vatican Historical-Theological Commission

VATICAN CITY, NOV 2 (ZENIT).- By way of preparation for the Great Jubilee

of the year 2000, the Vatican has organized an International Symposium on

the Inquisition, on a high scientific level.

The Vice-President of the Historical-Theological Commission for the

Jubilee, Bishop Rino Fisichella, spoke on the characteristics and

objectives of the congress. "The experts have been invited in virtue of

their competence and not according to their religious confession. This

helps to understand the character of the symposium. There are moments of

debate, as the interpretations must be weighed. I think the contribution

which will be made will be extremely positive, as the historians have

already arrived at positive conclusions and it will be important to confirm

them in a symposium of this caliber."

The congress, just like last year's on "The Roots of Christian

Anti-Judaism," is very significant because of the place where it is being

held: in the new Saint Martha's residence inside Vatican City.

Of what use will the results of the Congress be? "The objective is to

prepare material for the Holy Father to judge the responsibilities of

Christians in the specific case of the Inquisition and, with this necessary

historical material, to evaluate a possible request for forgiveness in the

year of the Jubilee."




Cardinal Etchegaray Urges Direct Approach to Research Without Revisionist


VATICAN CITY, NOV 2 (ZENIT).- We must not speak of "inquisitions," but of

the "Inquisition." This was Cardianl Roger Etchegaray's request to the

Historico-Theological Commission of the Central Committee of the Great

Jubilee of which he is president. The Commission is holding an

International Symposium to examine the Inquisition, in preparation for the

Jubilee. The Basque-French Cardinal was adamant that it is not a problem of

semantics he is referring to, but a fundamental distinction. By speaking of

"inquisitions," we introduce "an argument of an apologetic nature in order

to attribute to the lay power the responsibility for the actions of the

Iberian tribunals." In fact, according to the Cardinal, there was only one

Inquisition -- the Roman, which, notwithstanding significant variations in

place and time, was "an ecclesiastical institution." This does not mean,

however, that States did not take advantage of it.

A Tribunal of Ecclesiastical Creation

The Cardinal warned against "revisionist" tendencies aimed at absolving the

guilty from their responsibility. "From its birth, in the XIII century,

until its demise, at the end of the XVIII and beginning of the XIX, "all

the tribunals operated with a common set of rules and procedures."

Moreover, Etchegaray insisted, the fact that the Spanish and Portuguese

crowns were able to exercise power with autonomy in their respective

kingdoms and dominions -- powers of intervention and control of the

Inquisitorial tribunals -- does not alter the fact that the Inquisition was

ecclesiastical in character. Moreover, these powers were given to the

sovereigns, either explicitly or implicitly, by the papacy" and "the

jurisdiction of the inquisitors in matters of faith was ecclesiastical."

The Holiness of the Church and the Sin of her Children

Father Georges Cottier, theologian of the Pontifical Household and

moderator of the International Symposium, said that the sins of her

children in no way makes the Church herself unholy. But history and

conscience are linked because both have the same Lord. Therefore, in

presenting the studies at the meeting, in which experts from the Vatican,

Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, Great Britain, the United States, Denmark,

Switzerland, Malta, the Czech Republic, and Chile are participating, the

Church "cannot cross the threshold of the new millennium without urging her

children to repentance for their errors, infidelities and sins."

The theological problem which emerges from these cases is that of the

"relation between the Church, which his holy, and her children, who are

sinful." The Church carries the weight of their sins and asks forgiveness

for them. The Dominican made it clear that the Church seeks the truth, as

opposed to Western societies which, "faced with the collective crimes of

our century" display an "amazing amnesia, as though the events were no more

than road accidents to be ignored."

New Documents

As regards the scientific plan of the Symposium, Cardinal Etchegaray

emphasized that it is the first time that experts in medieval, modern and

contemporary history meet to study this ecclesiastical institution, and the

first time that "research on the Roman Inquisition, although it might still

be incomplete, can benefit from the official opening, last January, of the

archives of the Congregation of the Holy Office and the Congregation of the

Index." An opening "which removed the last obstacle impeding historical

research on the Inquisition" -- an additional proof that "the Church does not

fear to submit her past to the judgment of historians."




As Seen by Spanish Expert in Vatican Symposium

VATICAN CITY, NOV 2 (ZENIT).- Among the more than fifty experts who

attended the International Symposium on the Inquisition, organized by the

Historico-Theological Commission preparing the Great Jubilee of the year

2000, was Jose Ignacio Tellechea, professor of the modern history of the

Church in the Faculty of Theology of the Pontifical University of

Salamanca, and one of the great experts on the Inquisition. Tellechea gave

an analysis of the historical context in which these controversial

ecclesiastical tribunals operated.

ZENIT - The Inquisition varied from country to country and from period to

period in history. It had the power to impose limited sentences but also

the death penalty. Is there a realistic estimate of the number who suffered

the death penalty?

TELLECHEA: "We must first distinguish between the so-called medieval

inquisition, the Roman one -- founded in 1542, and the Spanish. We know

very little about the medieval inquisition, the data being lost in the

past. There is talk about people being burnt to death in some cities, but

it is very difficult to give exact figures. The history of the Spanish

Inquisition started much later -- in 1478; it was reorganized shortly

thereafter. There is very little data on the early years, when the

Inquisition was very severe, especially in the South of Spain.

Nevertheless, beginning with the XVI century, the data is far more precise.

As regards victims of the death penalty, the figures are generally grossly

exaggerated. One of the most recent researchers, the Danish scholar

Enigsen, who participated in this symposium, made an estimate of the number

of deaths. Not including the first fifteen years, for which precise data is

not available, Enigsen concluded that in all the history of the Inquisition

some 2,000 persons were executed. If we keep in mind that in Germany alone,

many more died in the XVII as a result of witch hunts, the picture of the

Inquisition becomes far more balanced."

ZENIT - Given the innumerable publications on the Inquisition, one would

think that it was the most monstrous event in history. What is your opinion

of research on the Inquisition compared to other religiously motivated

events in history?

TELLECHEA: "I believe that confrontations of a religious nature are not

just something of the past. Suffice it to think of relations between the

Moslem world and Christianity. We know what happens to a Christian who

changes faith, or to a Jew who becomes a Christian. It is not, exactly, a

chapter of tolerance we have before us. What happens in regard to the

Inquisition is that we are faced with an established institution -- not

just a social phenomenon of repression in the heart of a family or of a

people. In any event, today we must cope with many cases of this kind of

radical religious intolerance."

ZENIT - Times change, and with them the view people have of certain events.

When did social criticism of the Inquisition begin?

TELLECHEA: "I think the most severe and profound criticism of the

Inquisition began, in particular, in the XVIII century. In the preceding

centuries, given the religious confrontation between Catholicism and

Protestantism, the latter wanted to bring to the fore as many negative

criticisms of Catholicism as possible. It is in this context that we must

look at the famous study of Gonzalez Montes of the XVI century. But when

the criticism became deeper, as it did in the XVIII century, then both

Protestantism and Catholicism were examined in terms of behavior in the

previous centuries: religious wars in France, the Thirty Years War in

Europe -- these events were responsible for terrible violence. In the XVIII

century, in the name of tolerance and respect for opinions, a far deeper

criticism was made. And, as we are talking about an institution that lasted

until the XIX century, it is that much more anachronistic."

ZENIT - In speaking about the Inquisition, reference is made almost

exclusively to Spain. Why?

TELLECHEA : "In part, because of what I have said so far. It was a working

institution with an extraordinary organization: Inquisitor General, Council

of the Inquisition -- akin to other councils of State, district courts. An

enormous machine which lasted until the XIX century. This did not happen in

any other country. Which does not mean that in other countries there were

not similar institutions. Suffice it to recall that in the Anglican world,

the death penalty or severe punishment was imposed for harboring a Catholic

priest in Ireland, or a fine for failure to attend Anglican services. There

was no inquisition, but there certainly was religious repression."

ZENIT - Is our modern "democratic" society, so sensitive to fundamental

human rights, capable of judging the history of the Inquisition?

TELLECHEA: "We can judge it, of course, but in doing so we must remember to

place ourselves in the right context. Lets take the case of penal law, for

example. In medieval times, there was legislation which obliged cutting off

the hand of the thief, the tongue of the blasphemer, etc. We realize, then,

what a long way penal law has come. And, let us not forget that the normal,

legal procedure up to the XIX century allowed torture; therefore, in

judging the past we must take into account the mentality of the time. We

can never judge with our present day criteria; that would be an affront to


ZENIT - Today everyone agrees that the period of the Inquisition, varying

as it did in time and place, is a dramatic page in the history of the

Church. Everyone judges the Inquisition as a negative event. As an

historian and a believer, how do you evaluate it? Does it cause you

disconcert? Do you try to justify it?

TELLECHEA: "Naturally, I do not defend it because I am of the XX century.

But I understand its role in the XV, XVI, and XVII centuries. Quite some

time ago I heard a Dean of a Faculty of Law in Geneva speak about the

repressive mechanisms and ideology of Calvin in Geneva. The same

justification was given as with the Catholic Inquisition. Where is the

difference? For the Calvinist, the evil, corrupter of doctrine was the

Catholic, and for the Catholic it was the Calvinist. Both heads argued

identically. Where was the difference? In the initial choice made by one or

the other confession. This ability to understand causes me much less of a

problem than it does someone without the ability -- someone who is really

frightened by the past."



VATICAN CITY, OCT 31, 1998 (VIS) - John Paul II today addressed the

participants in the international conference on "The Church and the

Elderly," organized by the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of

Health Care Workers, which began October 29 and concludes today.

"Our times," said the Holy Father, "are characterized by an increased

life span which, together with the drop in the fertility rate, has brought

about a noticeable aging of the world population. For the first time in the

history of man, society is faced with a profound transformation of the

structure of the population, so that it is obliged to adapt its welfare

strategies, with repercussions on all levels."

The elderly are not only "people to be close to and objects of attention

and service. They have precious contributions to offer to life. ... The

relationship between the family and the elderly person must be seen as a

reciprocal relationship of giving and receiving. The elderly person also

gives. The experience acquired over the years cannot be overlooked."

The Pope highlighted that society "should rediscover the meaning and

significance of the role of senior citizens in a culture excessively

dominated by the myth of productivity and physical efficiency." Moreover,

welfare strategies must be developed which help the elderly person "to

preserve a sense of self-esteem so it does not happen that (the person)

feeling a useless burden, wishes and asks for death." Thus, he called for

"a sensitivity on the part of families so that they know how to accompany

their loved ones to the end of their earthly pilgrimage."

"The respect which we owe to elderly people compels me to speak out again

against all those practices which shorten life and which are known under

the name of euthanasia. ... Euthanasia is an attack on life which no human

authority can legitimize, as the life of an innocent person is an essential


The Holy Father concluded by addressing the elderly people of the world:

"Do not lose heart! Life does not end here on earth, it is much more! Here

is just a beginning! We should be witnesses of the resurrection! Joy should

be the hallmark of the elderly person."