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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
"WOMEN HOLD KEY TO FUTURE OF EDUCATION"
"WOMEN HOLD KEY TO FUTURE OF EDUCATION"TOP
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
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
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."
COSTA RICA: POPE EMPHASIZES VOCATION TO PEACE AND HOSPITALITY
COSTA RICA: POPE EMPHASIZES VOCATION TO PEACE AND HOSPITALITYTOP
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."
CD/LETTERS CREDENCE/COSTA RICA:GUERRA VIS 981029 (290)
BISHOPS OF THE INDIAN OCEAN COMPLETE "AD LIMINA" VISIT
BISHOPS OF THE INDIAN OCEAN COMPLETE "AD LIMINA" VISITTOP
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)
AL-BUSHRA REPORT ABOUT THE JERUSALEM CONFERENCE TOP
AL-BUSHRA REPORT ABOUT THE JERUSALEM CONFERENCE TOP
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
CATHOLIC JOURNALISTS CONTRIBUTE TO POPE'S CHARITY
CATHOLIC JOURNALISTS CONTRIBUTE TO POPE'S CHARITYTOP
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
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."
RECOGNITION OF DE FACTO UNIONS A THREAT TO FAMILY TOP
RECOGNITION OF DE FACTO UNIONS A THREAT TO FAMILY TOP
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
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."
UNICEF REJECTED HOLY SEE ECONOMIC CONTRIBUTION TOP
UNICEF REJECTED HOLY SEE ECONOMIC CONTRIBUTION TOP
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."
KOSOVO REFUGEES DESCRIBE SCENES OF TERROR AND CRUELTY
KOSOVO REFUGEES DESCRIBE SCENES OF TERROR AND CRUELTYTOP
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.
EPISCOPAL HEADQUARTERS BOMBED IN GUINEA BISSAU CAPITAL TOP
EPISCOPAL HEADQUARTERS BOMBED IN GUINEA BISSAU CAPITAL TOP
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
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.
CHINESE SOCIAL AND POLITICAL LEADERS CALL FOR GREATER DEMOCRACY
CHINESE SOCIAL AND POLITICAL LEADERS CALL FOR GREATER DEMOCRACY TOP
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.
VIETNAM: U.N. ENVOY MEETS WITH POLITICAL DETAINEES
VIETNAM: U.N. ENVOY MEETS WITH POLITICAL DETAINEESTOP
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
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.
GERARDI CASE: "PREMEDITATED COUP" AGAINST THE CHURCH
GERARDI CASE: "PREMEDITATED COUP" AGAINST THE CHURCHTOP
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
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.
KOREA: 200 PRIESTS READY TO EVANGELIZE THE NORTH TOP
KOREA: 200 PRIESTS READY TO EVANGELIZE THE NORTH TOP
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 ...do 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.
"WE ARE LOSING THE WAR"
"WE ARE LOSING THE WAR"TOP
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.
NIGERIA: OIL PIPELINE TRAGEDY RESULT OF POVERTY AND CORRUPTION
NIGERIA: OIL PIPELINE TRAGEDY RESULT OF POVERTY AND CORRUPTIONTOP
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.
SPECIAL REPORT: VATICAN SYMPOSIUM ON THE INQUISITION
SPECIAL REPORT: VATICAN SYMPOSIUM ON THE INQUISITIONTOP
POPE REQUESTS OPEN-MINDEDNESS IN EXAMINATION OF INQUISITION
POPE REQUESTS OPEN-MINDEDNESS IN EXAMINATION OF INQUISITIONTOP
"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
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."
WHAT ARE OBJECTIVES OF SYMPOSIUM ON INQUISITION?
WHAT ARE OBJECTIVES OF SYMPOSIUM ON INQUISITION?TOP
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."
INQUISITION: AN ECCLESIASTICAL TRIBUNAL RATHER THAN POLITICAL
INQUISITION: AN ECCLESIASTICAL TRIBUNAL RATHER THAN POLITICAL
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."
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."
THE SPANISH INQUISITION
THE SPANISH INQUISITIONTOP
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."
NO HUMAN AUTHORITY CAN LEGITIMIZE EUTHANASIA
NO HUMAN AUTHORITY CAN LEGITIMIZE EUTHANASIATOP
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."
AC/ELDERLY PEOPLE/CON-AVA VIS 981103 (380)