Return to July 22 Front Page ... Home Index

ZENIT, July 19, 1998






DEVELOPMENT DEMANDS SOLIDARITY AND RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS . Holy See's Intervention at U.N. Economic and Social Council


NEW BISHOP FOR THE MARTYR CHURCH OF ALGERIA. Bishop Alphonse Georger Will Replace Assassinated Bishop Pierre Claverie,

CHURCH STILL SEEKS TO OVERCOME COMMUNIST HERITAGE . Several Problems Are Still Causing Internal And External Strife

IMMIGRANTS ALSO HAVE HUMAN AND SPIRITUAL NEEDS "It's Not Just a Matter of Giving Them Food and Shelter"

FATHER BENZI, MISSIONARY TO MODERN SLAVES Italian Priest Rescues Women From Prostitution

GREGORIAN UNIVERSITY RECTOR NAMED TO HIGH VATICAN OFFICE Giuseppe Pittau Appointed Secretary of Congregation for Education






THE WEEK IN REVIEW People, Events, and Comments: Mexican Government Seeks to Resolve Cardinal's Assassination, New Movies on Life of Jesus Planned for Jubilee, Believing Is Good For Your Health, Korean Priests Exceed 3,000, International Conference on Human Rights and Values.





Holy See's Intervention at U.N. Economic and Social Council

NEW YORK, JUL 14, 1998 (ZENIT) - In a recent meeting of the U.N. Economic

and Social Council (ECOSOC), on the topic of "Solidarity Among Peoples: A

Sure Path to Economic Development and Integration," a delegation of the

Holy See, headed by Bishop Diarmuid Martin, Secretary of the Pontifical

Council Justice and Peace, took active part in the discussions.

During his intervention, Bishop Martin explained that "there is growing

acceptance of the fact that promoting investment, both domestically and

from foreign sources, and facilitating the widest participation in the

world market are essential elements for achieving sustainable development


Those Left Out of Globalization

"While noting and fully recognizing the benefits... from economic

globalization and from the liberalization of access to markets," he added,

it is also necessary "to focus especially on the situation of those --both

nations and individuals-- who still remain on the margins of these


In fact, "many developing economies," he continued, "despite the intense

efforts of their governments to implement appropriate reforms, still remain

in a position of great vulnerability. Precisely because of the

precariousness of their situation, they are often those most exposed to the

negative effects of economic crises or changes in investment patterns."

In the face of such difficulties and in order to promote an authentic

development, the Holy See demanded that "the poorest countries need forms

of market access and participation in the global economy which are


Bishop Martin, with the moral authority of the Vatican behind him, pointed

out that "Trade barriers still remain and these tend all too often to

affect the products of particular interest to the poorest nations and the

poorest sectors of these nations, especially in the agricultural sector.

The least developed countries, themselves, lack technical ability and their

limited technical resources are pushed beyond capacity, having to face the

new challenges of adjustment while continuing to address long standing

problems such as the resolution of chronic debt burdens."

Globalization of Solidarity

The answer of the Holy See to this dilemma is the same as John Paul II has

proposed on several occasions: injustices of any form that arise from

globalization must be countered by a "globalization" of solidarity. Bishop

Martin deliberated on this idea when he said: "To be sustainable, the

integration of the least developed countries into the world economy will

thus require the creation of a more strongly-felt sense of solidarity and a

clearer focus on the centrality to the process of the people most involved.

The driving force of any economy is its people. Through their work and

creativity it is the people themselves who have produced economic miracles."

According to the Vatican delegation, "In the new architecture of the world

economy, the private sector must... identify and assume certain appropriate

social responsibilities. My Delegation sees that these responsibilities

must include a commitment to sustainable investment and respect for

fundamental human rights, rather than the simple search for short-term

comparative advantage or quick economic gain."

Development: Realization of God-given potential

At the same time, Bishop Martin made it clear that, because of the huge

resources required, development cannot be left merely to the private

sector. "To make trade liberalization work," he said, "the least developed

countries will continue to require concerted efforts by the international

community." But he also added that "international governmental cooperation

will be needed to ensure that, both in law and in fact, access to world

market is truly equitable."

Finally, to put his exposition of the Holy See's contribution to the

Economic and Social Council meeting in a much more meaningful context and

to clarify the foundations of all human development, Bishop Martin

concluded: "Building a truly "global economy", Mr. President, cannot be

simply a question of the transnational expansion of personal or corporate

interest. It means, above all, building a system which permits the active

participation of all persons and nations in realizing the God-given

potential with which they have been endowed, an economy which is truly at

the service of the entire human family."






Bishop Alphonse Georger Will Replace Assassinated Bishop Pierre Claverie,

VATICAN CITY, JUL 13 (ZENIT)- After two years of vacancy, the Pope has

found a successor for Bishop Pierre Claverie, assassinated by the Armed

Islamic Group (AIG). On July 10, the Holy Father named Fr. Alphonse

Georger, a priest of the Archdiocese of Algiers and director of the

diocesan Center of Studies, the new Bishop of Oran (Algeria).

An intellectual committed to a martyred people

The recently named bishop was born on May 25, 1936, in Sarreguemines,

Diocese of Metz (France). In 1962, he was sent to the African Archdiocese

of Algiers to complete his ecclesiastical studies. He was ordained a priest

on June 26, 1965 and, after two years of studying Arab literature and

Islamology, he was named parochial vicar of Bab El Oued, and member of the

Committee for Sacred Art. Since 1995 he has been the director of the

Algiers diocesan Center of Studies.

To succeed a victim of fundamentalism

On the night of August 1, 1996, Bishop Pierre Claverie of Oran entered his

residence accompanied by his chauffeur to rest after a long day's work.

Little did he know that terrorists from the AIG (Armed Islamic Group) were

impatiently waiting for him to end his life with a bomb. Before him, 18

French and Spanish religious had lost their lives there. At the time, ZENIT

interviewed Justo Lacunza, a friend of Bishop Claverie and professor of

Arab studies in Rome. "Pierre Claverie was a 'pied noir', that is, he was

of French origin, but he had been born and raised in Algeria. When he was

ordained a priest, he realized that his mission was to be a bridge between

the Christian and the Muslim world. Since then, he decided to stay forever

in Algeria to be a witness of love on the frontier. He knew perfectly well

that it would make him a target for integralism.

Why would terrorists choose someone who loved Algeria and had decided to

remain? Justo Lacunza thinks that his position as a Catholic Bishop and his

determined negotiations for peace made him a target for fundamentalist

intolerance. "One day before he died, he went with some other religious to

meet with the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, De Charette, who was

visiting Algeria. His presence meant to be a sign of his endorsement of

President Zeroual's government. He had gone to Tibhirine to visit the tombs

of the seven trappists assassinated the previous May 21. The easiest way to

weaken the government was to hit one of the Church's representatives,

considered by the fundamentalists as an intruder. They chose him because he

was the firmest bishop in expressing his own ideas."

When later, accomplices in the murder of Bishop Claverie were condemned to

death by the court of Oran --the three who were directly responsible died

in a shoot-out with the police--, the Church asked that the seven who were

sentenced be pardoned. "The Church does not want these seven men condemned

to death to be executed," said Archbishop Teissier of Algiers. The convicts

were inhabitants of a poor neighborhood of Oran called Petit Lac. In

declarations to the Vatican press agency FIDES, Archbishop Tessier implored

clemency for the those sentenced to death and added that Claverie, "his

family and friends have offered pardon."

The love that remains: the Christian response

Love as life's response to murder and violence. This was also the maxim of

the seven trappists at the monastery of Atlas (Algeria), murdered by a band

of fundamentalists from the AIG a few months earlier. Fr. Jean-Pierre

Schumacher, one of the religious who miraculously escaped the massacre,

explained the reason -- not always well understood in the Catholic world--

for staying on Algerian soil despite the danger: "The reason for our

presence is to try to carry out a Christian witness in the midst of the

Muslims, listening above all to what the Holy Spirit is working in the

hearts of our neighbors, embracing them and trying to live an experience

with them, without proselytism. Although our faith is clearly in Jesus

Christ, we know that there is only one God, the Living God. And together we

can turn towards Him."




Several Problems Are Still Causing Internal And External Strife

PRAGUE, JUL 15 (ZENIT).- Still nine years since the fall of communism in

ex-Checoslovaquia --today the Czech Republic and Slovakia-- some touchy

matters remain unresolved in these two countries of Eastern Europe,

martyred at the hands of religious persecution.

One of these is that of those bishops and priests who were ordained in

hiding, and must now obtain the "official confirmation" of their ministry

from the Church.

According to a 1993 Vatican norm, all ordinations carried out in hiding

during periods of persecution or other calamities are considered to have

been carried out "sub conditione," because it is not possible to guarantee

that all the proper requisites were fulfilled. Since, according to the

norm, these ordinations are valid only as long as the special situation

exists, once the context in which they were administered alters, they must

be "confirmed" in public.

Now, some of these ministers, ordained secretly, do not want to accept

this public act or "second ordination," as they sometimes refer to it. They

consider it a lack of confidence towards them and they insist in bringing

to their defense the difficult conditions under which they had to carry out

their ministry. They emphasize the fact that they have suffered much more

than those who, although watched by the political police, worked in the open.

This problem has made its way again into public opinion after an interview

with Fridolin Zahradnik, president of the "House of Emmaus," was published

in the Prague newspaper 'Lidové Noviny.' Zahradnik was consecrated an

underground bishop in 1970 and he asserts that he has spoken with the

Archbishop of Prague, Cardinal Vlk, who insisted on having his ordination

publicly confirmed. According to Zahradnik, the cardinal has no right to

doubt his ordination (something he has never really done) because, he says,

"I have been a bishop for 28 years."

Last year the Czech Bishops' Conference, headed by Cardinal Vlk, confirmed

the consecration of 18 priests who had been ordained in the underground

Church. Many of them, in fact, were elected from among the faithful and

they were married so as not to provoke suspicion from the government

authorities. Since then, they have been incardinated into the

Greek-Catholic Church, in the diocese of Prjasev. It is an oriental rite

Church, shared even by orthodox churches, that allows priestly ordination

to married men.

In defense of Cardinal Vlk, the nuncio, Archbishop Coppa stated: "As

representative of the Holy Father in this country, I must highlight the

fact that the Bishops' Conference has only applied the instructions given

to the Nunciature by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith with

the Pope's approval." The Nuncio has even written to the persons involved

assuring them that the plea to confirm their own underground ordinations

"does not denote any lack of confidence, but rather, exactly the opposite."

The sacrament is valid "only inasmuch as all the required conditions are

observed, so that this act can be truly considered Christ's."

Church goods, unreturned "booty"

The restoration of goods confiscated in the totalitarian communist period,

and now in possession of the actual government, is another unsolved

problem. The civil authorities have denied all requests and question what

the Church wants these goods for. They have never addressed the question of

whether or not the Church has the right to possess them, but only about

what they are useful for. The Cardinal responds: "In all truth, if the

State decided to return all of our patrimony, they really wouldn't be doing

us a great favor, since it mainly consists of buildings in ruins, which

need a great amount of income which we do not have. We only asked for part

of it, but the State doesn't agree. For example, in 1990-91 various

convents were returned to religious orders, but not the adjacent plots of

land. Without this source of income, it is very difficult for them to

sustain themselves."

The Cathedral of Prague is a different matter, says the Cardinal: "It was

nationalized in 1954, when the so-called 'Castle area' was created. All the

buildings within this area have been declared State property. Historically,

the Cathedral has always been considered a meeting point between civil

society and the Church. Charles IV built it as a crowning place: the tombs

of kings and saints are there, the crown jewels. It has always had this

double purpose. I am the first to acknowledge it, but nevertheless the

problem has to be solved. I am willing to hand over the Cathedral to the

State, as long as the Church can use it freely. We need to find an adequate

juridical formula."




"It's Not Just a Matter of Giving Them Food and Shelter"

ROME, JUL 15, (ZENIT).- The demographic decline in wealthy countries and

the underdevelopment of third world countries are sparking more frequent

migrations. This fact has caused controversial reactions among governments

and political forces of neighboring countries. Unfortunately, racist

movements asking for a radical limiting of immigration are on the rise.

Immigrants' weak status is being exploited even by organized crimes that

thrive on people in dire need.

The Church has often spoken out on these abuses and offered numerous

concrete projects for reception and integration of immigrants, that

maintain the proper respect towards each individual and their respective

culture. In recent years, Italy has been the destination, or stopping-over

point, for millions of immigrants fleeing from the ex-communist countries

of Eastern Europe or those coming from northern African countries in search

of work and better living conditions.

Fr. Elvio Damoli, Director of the Italian Caritas, who has worked with

immigrants for years, has declared to the Catholic newspaper, Avvenire,

that "welcoming immigrants cannot be reduced to giving them food and

shelter. It has to be deeper by responding to the immigrants' human and

spiritual needs. Above all with temporary immigrants who are constantly on

the move and are the most defenseless."

"As interest in the relationship between culture and religious dialogue

grows," affirms Fr. Damoli, "you realize that there cannot be a true

welcoming without the adequate answers from a human and spiritual point of

view. It is of great importance to understand the values immigrants bring

with them, if not, there cannot be true integration. A religious welcoming

is not exclusively reserved for Catholics, rather it has a strong

diversity. Lately there has been a greater spreading of sects among

immigrants, considered as perfect targets. Therefore there is a growing

need for local churches to become committed."

As regards meeting the spiritual needs of immigrants, Fr. Damoli explained

that "there is an ever greater possibility of accomplishing this form of

welcome thanks to people who are offering places where immigrants can come

together and pray. There are many examples of this. The Pontifical Council

for Immigrants is even working to aid immigrants spiritually through the

help of priests who are from the same countries the immigrants come from.

In this way it is easier to overcome language and cultural barriers. A

further possibility, above all in cases in which there is a massive or

long-term presence, would be to organize encounters or get-togethers in

order to allow them to intermingle and give them the opportunity to

exchange their respective experiences. If the barriers fall, values remain."




Italian Priest Rescues Women From Prostitution

ROME, JUL 13 (ZENIT)- There wouldn't be prostitutes if there weren't

clients. This is the position of the Italian priest, Fr. Oreste Benzi of

Rimini, who has decided to dedicate his pastoral action to these women,

often enslaved against their will in such a degrading activity.

In Italy there are 9 million persons, mostly men, who have recourse to

prostitution. The women are often foreigners, or poor people in need of

helping their family, and they are controlled and manipulated by the mafia,

in many cases kidnapped. Most of them are anxious to escape the infernal

circle into which they have fallen.

Fr. Benzi offers them a home or a community where they can live with

dignity once they have decided to flee from prostitution, sometimes risking

their lives. And he offers them the possibility of an alternative activity

to earn a living, in a way befitting to their human dignity.

The story of Anna, an Albanian woman kidnapped by a criminal gang at age

14, who has suffered a living Calvary for four years, corresponds to the

profile of many women who have been drawn into prostitution in Italy. Anna

arrived at Fr. Benzi's parish shouting as she embraced him: "Behold the day

of my resurrection. Finally, I'm free!"

She is one of the hundreds of women taken in thanks to Fr. Benzi's work.

"Many of these freed sisters have found work," the priest explained. "They

have rebuilt a family or have returned home." Presently, more than 100 are

blazing "a trail of hope and rehabilitation" in the 240 family homes or

communities of Fr. Benzi.

In a recent congress in Rome concerning "enslaved prostitution," organized

by the John XXIII Association, Archbishop Alfredo Battisti of Udine, member

of the Italian Bishops' Conference for charitable services, defined this

offensive activity as "the greatest crime of the millennium against

humanity." The bishop has petitioned the United Nations that forced

prostitution, "a phenomenon that is a fearful and dark setback for

civilization, filled with horrendous stories of suffering" be declared "a

crime against the fundamental rights of the human person" and that their

protectors and members of the mafia be declared criminals. "The whole

Church should commit itself to freeing the slaves of the year 2000: Jesus

imposes it in the Gospel, the Holy Father asks for it in preparation for

the World Day of Peace 1999 ("if you want peace, respect human rights"),

the Jubilee we are preparing demands it," Archbishop Battisti declared.




Giuseppe Pittau Appointed Secretary of Congregation for Education

ROME, JUL 12 (ZENIT) - John Paul II has appointed Fr. Giuseppe Pittau,

former rector of the Gregorian University, to the post of Secretary of the

Congregation for Catholic Education and has raised the Jesuit priest to the

dignity of Archbishop. This is the Vatican office that oversees the

operation and offers guidelines to all Catholic schools, including

universities and seminaries, throughout the world.

Fr. Pittau is originally from Cagliari, Italy, and holds a doctorate of

Political Science from Harvard University. He is a renown expert on

oriental culture and has served as both Provincial of the Jesuits in Japan

as well as President of "Sophia University" in Tokyo.

In 1981 he was appointed assistant of the Pontifical Delegate to the

Company of Jesus by the Holy Father and has since occupied the positions of

General Council, and Regional Assistant for Italy and East Asia.

As rector of the Gregorian University, from 1982 to the present, Fr. Pittau

has made use of his vast experience in Asia by actively promoting the study

of oriental cultures and religions and creating numerous contacts with

educational institutions in those countries.

In 1997, John Paul II named 70 year old Fr. Pittau Chancellor of the

Pontifical Institute of Science. He will replace Portuguese Archbishop José Saraiva Martins who has just

been named Prefect of the Congregation for the Cause of the Saints. As

Secretary, he will work alongside Cardinal Pio Laghi, Prefect of the

Congregation for Catholic Education since 1991, and who turned 75 last

year, the obligatory age limit for key Vatican posts, although the Holy

Father has yet to accept his resignation.






Archbishop Van Thuan, imprisoned 13 years for his faith, speaks out

VATICAN CITY, July 15 (ZENIT).- As we already reported , the World Congress

on Pastoral work for promoting human rights was celebrated in Rome from

July 1 to 4. In this encounter the participants sought to define the role

of the Church regarding the education and promoting of human rights. In the

next few weeks, ZENIT will present to its readers the more significant

aspects of this Congress' interventions.

Archbishop François-Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan, newly appointed President of

the Pontifical Council Justice and Peace, is a personal witness of the

violation of human rights, due to the fact that he was imprisoned in

Vietnam for 13 years, accused only of having professed his faith.

In the opening address, Bishop Van Thuan explained that the Congress was

proposed by the Holy Father in the context of the 50th anniversary of the

Universal Declaration of Human Rights and of the upcoming Great Jubilee of

the year 2000.

"During this year, throughout the world the theme of human rights is being

analyzed in its multiple aspects. We have chosen to center the encounter on

pastoral care" because "on the threshold of the Third Millennium, we want

to face --as a loving Church-- those problems which besiege the world. We

want to serve, find, and live out the option for the poor; we want to

inculturate the Gospel in the different cultures of our world; dialogue

with all in a spirit of humility and hope..."

"The world we live in has become a village: 'the joy and hope, the sadness

and anguish of the men of our time, are the same as that of the disciples

of Christ.' The Church has never and will never be indifferent to war, to

concentration camps, to massacres, to racism, to injustice, to

discrimination against ethnic minorities. The Church has fought against,

and continues battling, discrimination of women, those who seek to exploit

children, restrictions of religious freedom. The Church works with all her

strength to promote a civilization of love. Our goal is to create an

atmosphere of charity. Saint Paul once said, 'charity is a country;' we can

add that it is 'a country without boundaries.' "

After four days of discussion, Van Thuan stated: "an oriental proverb

says: 'Who can count all the leaves of the forest? Who can spread his arms

and block the wind that blows through the trees?' We feel weak amidst the

great problems of the end of this century, such as the fast-pace economic

globalization, the danger of a war without boundaries, the threat of a

technology that manipulates humans. But we should be conscious of the fact

that we count on the support of the Spirit of Pentecost and, therefore, we

must not be afraid!"

Then, addressing the Holy Father, he added: "After 40 years as bishop, and

20 years as Pope, you have acquired the experience of a Shepherd who has

faced all possible problems. You are the Pope of human rights: before

International Institutions, through your Easter and Christmas messages,

during the World Peace Day, and during your apostolic visits, you have been

the voice of the 'voiceless:' the poor, the natives, farmers, aborigines,

refugees, those in prison..."

Archbishop Van Thuan closed his discourse affirming that "evangelization

cannot be separated from promoting human rights. Jesus Christ himself

proved this when quoting the prophet Isaiah: "The Spirit of the Lord is

upon me; that is why he has anointed me and has sent me to announce to the

poor the Good News, to proclaim liberation to the imprisoned, sight to the

blind; to free the oppressed (Lk. 4, 18)."






Enormous Increase Brings Into Question Governments' Role

During summer vacations all of us are looking for a way to relax. One of

the more popular means these days is by gambling; whether in casinos or

through lotteries. In many European countries, and also in the United

States, the last few years have witnessed an enormous increase in the types

of games available for betters and gamblers. Up until recently, most forms

of betting and casino-type operations were prohibited by law, but now

governments are actively promoting these activities. One of the main

reasons for the change is that the lotteries and casinos are a very

lucrative source of revenue for the State.

In these days of budget restrictions and pressures to reduce taxes, the

revenue from lotteries and casinos means many millions of extra dollars for

the government's pocket. Just in Europe, in 1996 the lotteries gained $57

billion in sales, of which the government took about a third. In America,

from 1894 until 1964, lotteries were illegal in the entire country and

casinos were allowed in only two states. However, this began to change in

the seventies and, by now, casinos are operating in some 27 states. The

reaction of people to this change has been enthusiastic. In 1995 Americans

spent some $550 billion on gambling, of which about 40% was spent within


Where Does the Money Go?

In spite of the apparent economic boom that these new forms of gambling

have provoked, not everyone is pleased with the final destination of the

"winnings". In England, for example, although the British National Lottery

has awarded billions of dollars of grants to charitable organizations since

its institution in 1994, some have called into question the fact that large

sums of money have been destined to groups that openly promote abortion and

worldwide population control. Such is the case of a recent contested

allocation of almost 2 million dollars worth of grants to three

organizations. Nearly one million dollars was given to "Population Concern"

for a project in Pakistan, "Mary Stopes International" received 700,000

dollars for their work in Vietnam, and "International Planned Parenthood

Federation" was awarded some 400,000 dollars for different activities in

Russia, Albania, Poland and other countries. Similar grants by

government-operated lotteries in other countries have brought many to

reconsider the convenience of promoting these kind of profit generating

activities, since the final appropriation of the proceeds are beyond public


Some advantages and disadvantages

This explosion in games of chance has had some undeniable benefits. In

many cases the revenues have enabled spending on needy social projects and

also many additional jobs have been created. But not everyone is in

agreement with the promotion of casinos and lotteries. Although some jobs

are created, people only have so much money to spend. If they spend it in

casinos, then they do not buy so many clothes and other goods. So in the

end, who knows if many more jobs are created.

As well, there are some substantial costs involved with gambling. The

creation of addicts, who in order to finance their habit, resort to crime

is a well-known phenomenon. In many areas the opening of casinos has

boosted levels of white-collar crimes. Also, it has always been a factor in

the multiplication of bankruptcies, divorces and suicides. Recent studies

have shown that, in many cases, those who are most attracted to casinos,

slot machines and lotteries have relatively limited incomes. In some cases,

many argue that governments are abusing their power by using these people

to augment revenues. Although no one is forced to buy a lottery ticket,

studies have also shown that those with less education spend a higher

proportion of their income on lotteries than better educated people.

Critics often claim that State promoted campaigns, which create the

illusion of easy money by winning the lottery, in some cases border on

dishonesty. In fact, they say, the odds against a major win are almost


A moral judgement

The Catechism of the Church deals with the question of gambling in number

2413. It states that while in itself these pastimes are not immoral, at the

same time some caution is needed. It would be morally wrong to dissipate

money on gambling while at the same time ignoring our own or others' needs.

Moreover, the Catechism warns us against allowing the passion for gambling

to covert itself into a type of slavery.

Therefore, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with buying a lottery

ticket or going to a casino. It can be a morally good or bad action

depending on our intentions and personal circumstances. We also need to

admit that, in moderation, it can be a legitimate source of relaxation.

This is even more the case when they are games which involve some social

interaction, and not just feeding coins into a slot machine isolated from

everyone else.

But, at the same time, it is not possible to be completely in favor of the

immense increase in gambling in recent years. When it are used just as a

means to increase government revenues, without any guarantee that this will

be spent on socially useful projects, it could be considered just another

form of taxation. Moreover, when we take into account the negative social

costs, we would have to doubt in many cases if the overall balance is


Faced with this situation the individual needs to keep in mind a number of

factors. Firstly, avoid playing just from emotional motives. This can

easily lead to an unhealthy addiction and to many subsequent problems.

Secondly, don't spend on lotteries and in casinos money which is needed for

other more important things: the family, education, charitable donations.

Thirdly, be alert to the multiple forms of deceit present in these games so

as not to be taken in, either by the State or by professional gamblers.





People, Events, and Comments



MEXICO CITY, JUL 12, (ZENIT) Relations between Church and State in Mexico

has always been a touchy subject and, in the light of John Paul II's future

visit to that country next January, there is still a very difficult

question still left unresolved: the truth behind the assassination of

Mexican Cardinal, Juan Posadas Ocampo of Guadalajara on May 24, 1993.

After a prolonged investigation, the government "officially" declared that

the Cardinal was an accidental victim of a shoot-out between two Mexican

drug cartels in the Guadalajara airport where he had gone that day to pick

up the Vatican Nuncio, Archbishop Girolamo Prigione.

Nevertheless, Posadas' successor, Card. Juan Sandoval Iñiguez, along with

several other high ranking clergy, have never accepted this explanation,

because of the obvious contradictions between the "official" version and

the reports of forensic specialists and the autopsy. Both of these clearly

demonstrate that the Cardinal was shot repeatedly from close range by his

assassins and was not the mere victim of stray bullets as the "official"

report sustains.

In order to avoid any further accusations of cover-up or misinformation,

Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo has agreed to form an independent

commission to investigate the crime whose verdict will be accepted by all

parties as the "definitive" version. The commission will be made up of 3

representatives of the Catholic Church, 3 representatives of the local

Government of Jalisco (Guadalajara) and by the Minister of the Mexican

Justice Department, Jorge Madrazo Cuéllar.


ROME, JUL 14, (ZENIT) - With the Jubilee year 2000 right around the corner,

several television and movie productions on the Life of Christ are in the


"Gardens of Eden" is a movie by Alessandro D'Alatri based on the hidden

years of Christ, between the ages of 12 and 30, precisely when the Gospel

narratives are silent about his life. The movie, scheduled to premier in

October, will feature Jesus played by actor Kim Rossi Stuart. Director

D'Alatri claimed that it is an effort to answer a lot of his own questions

as an "ignorant and distracted Christian." "This is the most important

movie of my career," he added.

"Pontius Pilate" is another movie with a budget of nearly 20 million

dollars and an international cast. It is the brainchild of Joshua Sinclair,

professor of theology but, also writer, actor and director. In this work,

he tries to portray the many facets of Pilate's life as an uncertain,

fearful, power-seeking political figure, with a beautiful and ambitious

wife. Producer Guido De Angelis has said that for the leading role they are

currently in talks with Anthony Hopkins, Robert Duvall and Joe Pesci.

Finally, a two-episode TV film made for CBS, called simply "Jesus," will

close the series of Bible narratives already aired by the network. The

final work is written by Allan Scott and begins the day after Jesus' death

when the apostles are gathered with Mary in prayer. To overcome their own

discouragement, they begin to narrate the extraordinary experience of their

past three years spent with Christ. The episodes are due to air during the

Christmas season of the end of the millennium.


NEW YORK, JUL 15, (ZENIT) - According to a recent study published in

"Internal Medicine News," 20 American schools of medicine offer courses on

spirituality which underline the role that religious convictions play in

the health of patients. The fact that faith is healthy is not a novelty to

many but, recently, what many believers have taken for granted has been

made the object of formal investigations with surprising conclusions.

For example a study of 5,000 Californians over 28 years, published in the

"American Journal of Public Health," has shown that those who go to church

live longer and enjoy better health than those who stay home on Sundays. Of

course, many argue that most people of religious convictions also live a

healthier lifestyle and avoid substance abuse of tobacco, alcohol and

drugs. But that can't explain, for example, why in a study of 119

transplants performed in the University of Pittsburgh, in equal social and

physical conditions, patients who professed a strong faith had much shorter

post-operatory recovery periods. Also, at Yale University Hospital, in a

study of 23 patients who underwent major surgery, the survival rate among

those with a strong faith was three times higher than those who didn't.


SEOUL, JUL 17 (ZENIT) - The Vatican news agency FIDES published the results

of a recent Church study by Rev. Lee Ki-young. The study reveals that the

number of Korean priests exceeded 3,000 this year, which is the 153rd year

after the ordination of the first Korean priest, Saint Andrew Kim Tae-gon

who was ordained a priest on August 17, 1845 in Shanghai, China. The

statistics collected by Rev Lee on the occasion of World Day of Prayer for

Vocations, May 3 this year, said that 3,034 Korean men were ordained to the

priesthood as of May 1998. Fr Kim Byong-hui from the diocese of Chonju who

was ordained last February, was honored as the 3,000th Korean to be

ordained a priest. There were 1,000 Korean priests in 1976, and 2,000 in

1992, and now 3,000 in 1998. "We hope to have 4,000 Korean priests within

the next 5 or 6 years," said Rev. Lee. According to the report, Cardinal

Kim, Archbishop of Seoul, ordained on September 15th 1951, was the 276th

Korean priest.

Statistics published by the Catholic Bishops Conference of Korea CBCK, say

that Korean Catholics number 3,676,211 or 9.7% of the total population at

the end of 1997, showing 113,445 more Catholics or a 3.18% increase since

the previous year. The increase rate of Korean Catholics in 1991 was 6.28%.

At the end of 1997 the Catholic Church in Korea had 1 Cardinal, 22 bishops,

2,662 priests, 1,097 parishes, 1,189 mission stations, 1,072 men Religious

with 42 institutes, 7,854 women Religious with 91 institutes; 239 qualified

catechists and the average number of Catholics per parish was 3,351.


TAIPEI JUL 17 (ZENIT) - Human Rights and Values were the subject of an

international Conference hosted from 21-23 June, by Fujen Catholic

University in Taipei. The Conference was organized by the Fujen John Paul

II Institute for Research into Dialogue for Peace.

Taiwan President Lee Teng-hui sent a message to the Conference and there

were 14 papers and special reports from 6 working groups. The guest of

honor was Dr Khashbat of the Mongolian State University who said that

although Mongolia is moving from an authoritarian regime to democracy and

fully accepts international human rights law, the principles of human

rights have still to be rooted in popular consciousness and ordinary

practice. Archbishop Joseph Ti-Kang, Chancellor of the University was

present and also Cardinal Paul Shan S.J. of Kaohsiung who addressed the

participants. In his speech, Holy See Charge d' Affaires, Msgr Joseph

Chennoth, stressed the need for human rights to be grounded in their

transcendental source.

The Conference, according to the Vatican news agency FIDES, the first of

its kind to be held in Taiwan, was supported by the government, but was

allowed complete freedom in the choice of speakers attending and topics



Return to July 22 Front Page ... Home Index


ZENIT is an International News Agency

Zenit Weekly Report Home Page To subscribe, send e-mail to

Via della Stazione di Ottavia, 95

00165 Rome


© Innovative Media, Inc.

Reposted with permission