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ZENIT, July 12, 1998



HUMAN RIGHTS, THE CHURCH PLAYS A CRUCIAL ROLE John Paul II Demands Respect for the Dignity of Every Person


CHRISTIANS MADE SLAVES AS "WEST ADORES GOLDEN CALF OF OIL" Bishop of Sudan Denounces International Indifference to Fate of Christians

TRAGIC PROPHECIES OF BERNANOS FULFILLED 50 YEARS LATER Death in 1948 Cut Short his Most Cherished Work: "The Life of Jesus"

ABORTION AND EUTHANASIA AFTER "AD TUENDAM FIDEM" Archbishop Bertone, Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

SIGNS OF HOPE IN NORTH KOREA DESPITE FAMINE Interview with First Catholic Bishop to Visit Northern Territory since Separation

THE WEEK IN REVIEW People, Events, and Comments. Brasilian Bishops' Conference Name New Leaders, JPII: "Catholic Media Must Maintain Their Identity," Pope Exhorts Spanish Bishops to be Example of Generosity,


John Paul II Demands Respect for the Dignity of Every Person

VATICAN CITY, JUN 28 (ZENIT) - "The persistence of extreme poverty in

contrast with the opulence of a small part of society, in a world

characterized by huge progress in the fields of science and the humanities,

constitutes a true scandal; it is a situation that seriously hinders the

full exercise of human rights today."

On the 4th of July, this is how John Paul II addressed members of the World

Congress on the Pastoral Ministry of Human Rights, organized by the

Pontifical Council of Justice and Peace on the fiftieth anniversary of the

Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

"During the course of my ministry," the Holy Father continued, "it has

been important for me to pay special attention to safeguarding and

promoting the dignity of the person and their rights, in all stages of

their life, and in every political, social, economic and cultural

circumstance." As he had done in his first encyclical, Redemptor Hominis,

the "Pope of Human Rights" -- as some already call him -- pointed out that

a real tension exists between the "letter" and the "spirit" of these

rights. "Still today, one can note the chasm which exists between the

'letter' ... and the 'spirit,' currently quite far from being respected.

Our century is still marked by very serious violations of basic rights,"

he noted.

The Gap Between "Letter" and "Spirit"

In order to avoid the theater of international conventions where world

leaders sign documents which they know from the outset will never be

applied, John Paul proposed an overall strategy to Catholics and all

persons of good will in the battle to defend human rights. "The first

objective of a pastoral ministry of Human Rights is to make the acceptance

of universal rights in their 'letter' include the concrete enacting of

their 'spirit.' "

The Pope went on to denounce that "Every act which tramples on the dignity

of mankind and frustrates their possibilities of personal fulfillment is an

act contrary to God's plan for man and for all of creation." As a result,

he affirmed, "The pastoral ministry of human rights is in close connection

with the mission of the Church in the modern world. In fact, the Church can

never abandon man, whose destiny is closely and unmistakably united with


The Pope strongly denounced the current panorama: " Our century is still

marked by very serious violations of basic rights. In the world, there are

still huge numbers of people, women and children whose rights are cruelly

trampled upon. How many are unjustly deprived of personal liberty, of the

possibility to freely express or freely profess their own faith in God? How

many are victims of torture, violence and abuse? How many others, because

of war, unjust discrimination, unemployment or other catastrophic

economical situations, never come to fulfill the dignity that God has given

them and the gifts that they have received from Him? "

After underlining the importance of social and economic rights, that form

an essential part of the rights of every person, he went on to express his

wish that the Conference of the United Nations for the institution of a

International Criminal Court might "end up, as everyone hopes, with the

creation of a new institution aimed at protecting the culture of human

rights on a world level."

The Specific Contribution of Christians

John Paul II noted that the Church, in its mission at the service of human

rights, should leave its own peculiar mark. More specifically, he added,

"the pastoral ministry for human rights by its very nature must be linked

to the spiritual and transcendent dimension of the person, especially, in

this moment when the tendency to reduce the human person to only one of his

dimensions --the economic dimension-- and to consider development merely in

economic terms, is manifest."

Religious Freedom

At the end of his discourse, the Pope addressed the pressing problem of

religious freedom: From the reflection on the transcendent dimension of the

person, follows "the obligation to protect and promote the right of freedom

to religion." He took advantage of the occasion to express his solidarity

and support for all those who, even today, still cannot make full and free

exercise of these rights, whether on a personal or communitary level.

"World leaders," he concluded, "will find believers to be men and women of

peace, willing to collaborate with everyone in an effort to build a more

just and peaceful society."




But Lethal Sterilization Campaign Continues

LIMA, July 6 (ZENIT).- The Peruvian government has submitted a revealing

report, drafted in conjunction with seven other countries, to the follow-up

committee of the "Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of

Discrimination Towards Women" (CEDAW) --which took place in New York from

June 22 until July 10. The committee meets periodically in order to

evaluate the implementation of the Convention on "the advances and setbacks

of the progress of women's rights." So-called reproductive rights have a

preferential place in these evaluations.

The follow-up committee has been working since 1979 and closely observes

the more than 152 countries who signed the Convention, comparing the

official reports with those of the non governmental organizations (NGO's).

At the beginning of the year the Peruvian government faced serious

accusations for violating women's rights. At that time, extensive forced

sterilization campaigns for poor women were verified. These were carried

out by doctors belonging to the national health care system who, while

carrying out the objectives imposed by international associations such as

the U.N. Fund for Population Activities and U.S. government agencies who

contributed aid, caused the death of numerous women. In planning their

campaigns, the Peruvian government receives advisement from organizations

such as AVSC, based in New York, which receives money from USAID (118

million dollars for the August 93 - August 98 period).

The report reveals that the Peruvian government is more interested in

aggressively reducing the birthrate than defending women's rights. The

100-page document explains how 70 percent of the population maintains an

"acceptable" fertility index of 2.8 children per couple, and laments the

fact that in the remaining 30 percent of the population (the rural

population) has an extremely high 3.5 percentage rate.

In 1995, the Peruvian government published its most recent study on

internal migrations in Peru. This study showed that of the 188 provinces

which belong to Peru, 144 showed signs of depopulation.

In various parts of the more recent U.N. report, entitled "Unwanted

Pregnancies," great emphasis is placed on the claim that the majority of

Peruvian women do not want more than two children, and that this number is

considered ideal by most of the women. The Government does not back up

these statements with any statistics, however.

Between 1990 and 1997 the Fujimori government has organized campaigns

which have resulted in the sterilization of 282,000 women: 100,000 in 1997

alone, and some 80,000 in 1996. Peru's General Budget Law forecasts the

sterilization of 165,000 in 1998. The government, however, will not be

able to reach this number due to protests by the Peruvian Bishops'

Conference, and because numerous groups of women have courageously

testified against the government before the media that they were deceived

into sterilization. Up to now, there are still no sanctions against those

who ordered the atrocities.



Bishop of Sudan Denounces International Indifference to Fate of Christians

EL OBEID, JUL 10 (ZENIT) - The blood of modern martyrs continues to be the

seed of saints, at least in Sudan. The ancient adage of Tertullian applies

even today to numerous Christian communities, as corners of the world often

ignored by the mainstream media continue to suffer a silent, yet no less

cruel persecution for their beliefs. Bishop Macram Max Gassis of El Obeid

is a living witness of the joys and sorrows that the Catholic community in

Sudan has come to consider everyday occurrences. "During the Easter Vigil

Mass this year," he proudly points out, "I administered no less than 460

baptisms and 503 confirmations in one celebration. The following day, I

ordained one priest and blessed 57 weddings."

But these fruits have been attained at a very high cost. Bishop Gassis

admits, "I am considered a "persona non grata" by the government and my

diocese has been divided in two. In the Khartoum controlled zone there is

Msgr. Antonio Menegazzo, the Apostolic Administrator. Where as I operate in

SPLA controlled areas (the Sudan People's Liberation Army, which since 1983

has been fighting for more autonomy for the Christian and Animist people in

Southern Sudan), where Msgr. Menegazzo cannot go."

Christian Slaves

At present, the biggest plague that affects the Catholic community in the

country is an internationally ignored vibrant slave trade consisting mainly

of children from Christian families. Since publicly denouncing the practice

in 1990, Bishop Gassis has been forced to live in exile and operates only

in SPLA controlled areas.

"In 1990 -- the Bishop declared to the Vatican Agency FIDES -- I bought

back a first group of fifty slaves (100 American dollars to buy back a boy,

fifty for a girl) and denounced the phenomenon. The Governor of El Obeid

said it was not safe for me to continue to travel around the country on my

own. He offered me an army escort. Then, they expelled all the missionaries

from Dilling, Kadugli, Babanusa and Abyei. I realized that I too would do

better to leave."

The exact number of slaves is hard to determine, he explains, since most

kidnappings are never reported out of fear of reprisals. Nevertheless,

based on first-hand reports, he goes on to affirm: "I'd say at least 3,000

children, boys and girls between 5 and 16, have been forced into slavery in

the first months of 1998. The adolescent girls serve as concubines or

'pleasure instruments' for Muslim militia and the armed forces. The boys

are sent to so-called 'peace camps': military training camps where they are

instructed in fighting and Islam."

According to his own estimates, he calculates that very small numbers are

ever actually freed from slavery, and those that are "still need help to

find their family and to recover from the psychological and physical trauma

to which they have been submitted: in fact many 12 and 13 year old girls

return pregnant," he said.

International Indifference

As regards help from the Sudanese government, Gassis notes, the basic

problem is precisely the "implicit government consent" of the abuses. For

fear of international reaction, the government, as such, is not actually

involved but it is obvious that the activity fits into government policy."

When asked whether he has received any support from Western governments to

put political pressure on the Sudanese leaders, he answered frankly: "No.

The West adores the 'Golden Calf.' Sudan has oil and the West is afraid of

damaging its own interests."

Nevertheless, he made it a point to clarify that by no means was he trying

to accuse anyone of provoking a religious war between Christians and

Muslims. This, he emphatically stated, is simply not the case. "What is

more," he added, "the West often finds it difficult to distinguish between

Islam and fundamentalism. With Islam we have always been in dialogue: our

schools and hospitals have always been open to Muslims and Animists as well

as Christians. Whereas Muslim fundamentalism is a political-economic

ideology which uses religion as a cover-up."

Hope for the Future?

In a similar situation, many Christians would think of abandoning their

homeland in search of more peaceful surroundings. Bishop Gassis is well

aware of the perils that lie ahead, both for himself and for his fellow

Christians, but he is willing to accept the weight of his cross as the

leader of a persecuted and forgotten flock at the threshold of the third


Recalling the joyful Easter ceremony mentioned above, he added: "On the

same day we gave first aid to a little boy and a young woman who had

respectively had an arm and a leg blown off by anti-personnel mines laid by

the Khartoum army."

"This is a Church that suffers," he concluded, "but which is full of




Death in 1948 Cut Short his Most Cherished Work: "The Life of Jesus"

PARIS, JUL 6 (ZENIT)- "It was hard, terribly hard. But I have made the

decision. From now on, I will only speak about Jesus." Towards the end of

June fifty years ago, the great French writer, George Bernanos, expressed

his intention to write a "Life of Jesus." A few days later, on July 5,

1948, Bernanos died at the age of 60, leaving his most cherished project

unfinished. A book is now coming out entitled "Almost a Life of Jesus,"

written in Italian by the Milanese priest, Marco Ballarini, and published

by St. Paul books. After a long and laborious investigation, Fr. Ballarini

has been able to piece together a portrait of Jesus taken from quotes from

Bernanos' work.

Some have labeled this patient research and subsequent stitching of the

pieces of the mosaic, a true "apocryphal gospel," which is, nonetheless,

perfectly coherent with the Biblical text. Bernanos had left only a few

handwritten pages of his project which proved to be a "programmatic

manifesto" of the work: "I wanted to speak about Jesus Christ with

simplicity for those who do not know him," he wrote, "I wanted to speak to

them of a poor man like everyone else."

The author of "The Diary of a Country Priest" turned out to be prophetic in

his description of coming moral ills. He wrote: "It may happen that modern

society will combat poverty by eliminating in each generation children born

to poor families, the ill-adapted and the unwanted, thanks to birth control

and severe selection." It was an authentic premonition of what would later

become embodied in today's widespread global birth control programs.

Bernanos, who loved the poor, depicts poverty in the following fashion:

"The poor man is not the one who is deprived of what is necessary. He is a

man who, according to a distant tradition of poverty, lives meagerly. He

lives day to day off the work of his own hands and feeds off the hands of

God, according to a popular old expression..." Bernanos concludes, "The

poor hold the secret of hope."



Archbishop Bertone, Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the


VATICAN CITY, JUL 6 (ZENIT)- To clear up some of the confusion caused by an

atmosphere of modern moral relativism, the Pope has published an apostolic

letter entitled "Ad Tuendam Fidem" [To Defend the Faith]. The letter

annexes norms and corresponding penalties to the Code of Canon Law of both

the Latin and eastern rites.

In an effort to clarify the terms of this discussion, Vatican Radio

interviewed Archbishop Tarsicio Bertone, Secretary of the Congregation for

the Doctrine of the Faith. ZENIT offers its readers some of the more

salient points of their exchange.

-- How are abortion and euthanasia considered according to these new norms?

-- Archbishop Bertone: Certainly, direct abortion, as the killing of an

innocent human being, is a crime against life that should be considered as

belonging to the first level of the truths of the faith according to a

natural and Christian moral outlook.

-- Therefore, whoever doesn't hold to this truth falls into heresy?

-- Archbishop Bertone: You can equate the allowing of abortion to heresy,

but you cannot equate euthanasia with heresy. The condemnation of

euthanasia, and thus the confirmation that it is absolutely illicit, which

the Holy Father reaffirmed according to the tradition of the Church in his

encyclical "Evangelium Vitae," belongs to a second level of truths.

-- But doesn't euthanasia also imply the killing of an innocent, weak human


-- Archbishop Bertone: Yes, but it is different from abortion. The case of

abortion was confirmed by Church tradition from the beginning with an

explicit condemnation from the apostolic community, whereas euthanasia is a

problem presented as an offense and as a human act [with moral

responsibility] only in our times. In fact, there is discussion over the

fact that there is no reference to it in the Bible nor in the teachings of

the apostolic church. Nonetheless, the Holy Father draws this teaching from

the link to the commandment to care for human life not only from the

beginning of its conception, but also to its natural consummation,

reaffirming that man cannot do as he pleases with human life: only God is

master and protector of life, because He is the Creator of human life.

-- That is, euthanasia is morally unacceptable inasmuch as it is the

killing of a human person. What penalties would someone who contradicts

these truths incur?

-- Archbishop Bertone: Whoever contradicts these truths acts contrary to

his conscience, obviously. He rejects a doctrine, a truth proposed as

definitive and unchangeable. Therefore, he is blameworthy for this

rejection, and through his opposition, he situates himself outside

communion with the Church. The new formulation of the canon that the "motu

proprio" of the Holy Father presents, doesn't establish a specific penalty.

It says that one should be punished with an appropriate ecclesiastical

penalty, naturally, reminding that the punishment always aims at correcting

the offender, and therefore at his return to full communion with the Church

and to full adherence to the Church's teaching.

-- Can euthanasia also be equated with prostitution and fornication?

-- Archbishop Bertone: Yes, yes. Throughout its history and in its

tradition, the Church has condemned such behavior, that contradicts the

divine plan concerning human love and marriage.



Interview with First Catholic Bishop to Visit Northern Territory since Separation

SEOUL 10 Jul (ZENIT) - Andrew Tchoi, Auxiliary Bishop of Seoul and

President of the Korean Reconciliation Committee (KRCS) of the Seoul

Archdiocese, recently made a pastoral visit to the North Korean diocese of

Pyongyang from May 15 - 23, accompanied by four lay people and two priests.

He was the first Bishop from South Korea to meet Catholics in the North

since 1953 when Korea was divided. Among the reasons for his visit was to

verify the distribution of food supplies collected and sent by South Korean

Catholics to help the people in North Korea suffering from serious famine.

The Vatican News Agency, FIDES, recently interviewed Bishop Tchoi about his


FIDES - What was the main reason for your visit? Had there been any earlier


Bishop Tchoi - Previously some Korean priests with American citizenship

visited North Korea, met Catholics and celebrated Mass at Changchung Church

in Pyongyang. The late Bishop Daniel Tji Hak-soon's visit to North Korea in

1985 was a Red Cross visit and two visits made by Fr. Moon Kyu-hyon in 1989

as delegate of the Priests Association were informal visits, concerning the

1989 Pyongyang World Youth Festival sponsored by the North Korean

government. But my visit was different. I was representing Cardinal Kim

(Archbishop of Seoul) who is the apostolic administrator of Pyongyang. I

went to meet the local Catholics and to pray together for reconciliation

and national unity. The second purpose of my visit was related to 3,000

tons of corn and 1,000 tons of fertilizer that the Korean Reconciliation

Committee sent this past spring. Besides these two purposes, we visited the

historical birthplace of Ryu Chong-ryul, Peter, one of the 103 Korean

Martyr saints and the only one from North Korea. Here we prayed for the

whole country.

FIDES - Whom did you meet?

Bishop Tchoi - Apart from meeting with the faithful, we met North Korea

agricultural department officials to discuss ways to help promote

agriculture. During our visit, Samuel Chang Jae-ch'ol, president of the

North Korean Catholics' Association, and Yulio Ch'a, leader of the

Changchung Catholic community, accompanied us. This was a good occasion to

confirm our sincere solidarity with North Koreans in need.

FIDES - Is the food shortage in North Korea really serious? Is relief aid


Bishop Tchoi - In a word, I would say that North Korea has totally

exhausted its resources. For example while we were staying in a hotel (for

state guests) there were moments when electricity and even shower water

were turned off. Newborn babies weigh 2.5 kgs. (5.5 lbs.). The situation is

more critical than we imagine. For the distribution of donations of the

KRCS there is no problem.

FIDES - What is your reading on freedom of conscience in North Korea?

Bishop Tchoi - It is difficult to make a judgment from our viewpoint and I

think we should not. In all aspects, their situation is very different from

ours. We live under a different political, ideological system. They don't

have clergy or religious. They are under control. That is their reality.

FIDES - Do you have hope for the reunification of the Korean peninsula?

What can the Church do?

Bishop Tchoi - I dislike the term "reunification" because of its political

implication. We prefer "reconciliation." Reconciliation is our duty and our

right. We are one people. Even though many disparate elements were created

during 50 years of separation, we have common traditions, spiritual values,

culture and the same language. These can't be denied. What the Church has

to do is to try to increasingly show our spirit of reconciliation and

unity, our love and interest through our concrete practice. We have to keep


FIDES - What is your vision for the mission to North Korea?

Bishop Tchoi - The KRCS considers the pre-evangelization of North Korea

very important. In North Korea, two dioceses already exist: Pyongyang and

Hamhung. Mission means evangelization. We have to witness to God's love,

peace, and forgiveness by our action. At the present moment, that can be

translated into humanitarian aid. A human-centered mission is essential.

God has loved a sinful world. The KRCS will continue its work for Korean

reconciliation along this line. Attentive to the Holy Spirit, we will work

in accordance to the signs of time.

FIDES - Has the work of the Reconciliation Committee (KRCS) produced any


Bishop Tchoi - The term "reconciliation" itself is a fruit of our work. The

governments of both North and South understand our expression. We expect

many possibilities of contact between the two sides. We welcome the current

government's "Sunshine policy." There are many signs of hope. Chung

Ju-young's visit to the North with 1,000 head of cattle is one of these

signs. (On June 16th Chung Ju-young, founder of the Hyundai Business Group,

made a personal gift of 1,000 cows to help North Korea overcome its food


FIDES - How do you foresee the relationship between the Vatican and North


Bishop Tchoi - It won't be easy. I think the Vatican has to approach North

Korea from a humanitarian perspective. There is no freedom of religion as

we understand it. It will take time. In China and Cuba there are clergy,

but not in North Korea.

FIDES - Cardinal Kim has shown great interest in North Korea. Do you think

the new archbishop will follow the same line?

Bishop Tchoi - The new archbishop will continue the same line. He will

complete what Cardinal Kim has initiated and developed.

FIDES - Do you think North Korea will need help in the future?

Bishop Tchoi - Absolutely. Yes. Assistance should be diversified. Food aids

are OK, but what is necessary is to help them organize themselves for the

long term. For example, agricultural machinery, tools, seeds and

fertilizers, etc. The KRCS will work along this line. Government assistance

is essential, since civilian aid is limited. Anyway, the Church will do its

best to help them in humanitarian terms and sharing, which is her duty.



People, Events, and Comments


BRASILIA, JUL 6 (ZENIT).- After the nomination of Cardinal Lucas Moreira

Neves as the new President of the Vatican Congregation of Bishops, Brazil

has had to find a substitute to head the Bishops' Conference, since Card.

Neves held the office of President. His substitute will be Bishop Jaime

Chemello, 65 and of Italian descent, who has been the Vice-president up to

now. Chemello is the Bishop of the diocese of Pelotas in Río Grande del

Sur. Bishop Marcelo Pinto Carvalheira, Archbishop of Joao Pessoa, Paraiba,

will be the new Vice-president.

The new leaders of the Brazilian episcopate are renowned for their

commitment towards promoting the participation of the laity in

evangelization and for defending human rights. In the past, Bishop Chemello

has supported the poor, in favor of a more equal distribution of land.

Before being nominated bishop, the new Vice-president was, for many years,

one of Bishop Helder Camara's closest collaborators in the diocese of

Recife. Bishop Pinto was arrested during the military regime and had been

accused of collaborating with the "enemies of the regime."


VATICAN CITY, JUL 7, 1998 (ZENIT) - In a message to the annual convention

of the Catholic COPE radio stations (Spanish Network of the People's

Airwaves), currently taking place in Rome, the Pope praised their work of

evangelization of the airwaves but exhorted them not to lose their Catholic

identity in an effort simply to gain higher ratings.

"It obliges you to make an effort to maintain a balance, and alerts you to

regulate tension between what is human and what is divine, between the

Gospel and materialism, between the everlasting values proclaimed by Christ

and those values put forward by secularization."

The Pope encouraged broadcasters "not to succumb to the subtle, deceptive

temptation of ambition, vanity, money or popularity. Simply put yourselves

at the disposition of those who expect the invaluable service of accurate

information, balanced opinion, the call to plural and respectful

coexistence and, in short, the love which is rooted in Christianity."


VATICAN CITY, JUL 7, 1998 (ZENIT) - During the conclusion of their "ad

limina" visit to the See of Peter, the Spanish Bishops of Seville, Granada

and Valencia were received in audience by the Holy Father this morning. The

Pope invited the Bishops to promote the "creativity, fine sensitivity and

the rich expressive capacity of your peoples ... at the time of directing

them to meeting God."

He also called upon them to continue their work with the needy, the

homeless and abandoned. "Do not allow any of your faithful and communities

to remain insensitive to these realities which are a constant call to

attention in the face of so many statements which are made in a society

which seems to feel satisfied and pleased with its successes."

In reference to the large number of immigrants currently entering Spain

and many other European countries in search of jobs and security, the Pope

challenged them to "be also an open door for other peoples and give an

example of generosity, knowing how to fraternally share with those who

arrive in your land in search of new hope."



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