Return to July 29th Front Page ... Home Index
ZENIT, July 26, 1998
POPE URGES YOUNG PEOPLE TO MAKE THE MOST OF LIFE John Paul II's Emotional
Worlds on Visiting the Homeland of Paul VI
CARDINAL RATZINGER: "THE TRUTH IS NOT DECIDED BY MAJORITY" Presentation
of John Paul II's Apostolic Letter on Episcopal Conferences
BACK FROM VACATION, POPE ASKS FOR AID TO PAPUA NEW GUINEA After 800
Addresses and 2,500 Audiences Last Year, More Trips Planned
HOLY SEE SUPPORTS INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT "An Important Step Toward
THE PROPHECIES OF "HUMANAE VITAE," THIRTY YEARS LATER Archbishop Chaput
of Denver Analyzes Message of Paul VI's Encyclical
HOMOSEXUALITY THREATENS TO DIVIDE ANGLICANS Anglican Summit Meets at
THE ARREST OF GERARDI'S ASSISTANTS IS AN "ABUSE" Guatemalan Bishop Flores
Lacks Confidence in the Judicial System
SUDAN COULD SUFFER THE GREATEST CATASTROPHE OF THE CENTURY
Government and Guerillas Declare Truce to Provide Food for a Million Refugees
APOCALYPTIC SCENES FROM THE NEW GUINEA TIDAL WAVE Reports from
Missionaries Move the Pope's Heart
NEW RACIST MOVEMENT IN AUSTRALIA "One Nation" Promotes Anti-immigration
Policies for "Environmental Concerns"
BISHOPS FROM AMERICAN CONTINENT TO MEET IN CUBA President of CELAM
BISHOP OF CHIAPAS ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT IN 99 Samuel Ruiz Will Step Down
When He Turns 75 Next Year
ABORTED FETUSES USED TO ASPHALT STREETS IN BERLIN German Episcopal
Conference Decries "A Terrifying Lack of Respect"
The Week in Review
People, Events, and Comments
Catholics in Bosnia-Herzegovina Run Grave Risks
Christian-Islamic Committee Meets in Cairo
Holy See Prepares Children's Jubilee.
POPE URGES YOUNG PEOPLE TO MAKE THE MOST OF LIFE
POPE URGES YOUNG PEOPLE TO MAKE THE MOST OF LIFETOP
John Paul II's Emotional Worlds on Visiting the Homeland of Paul VI
BORNO, ITALY, JUL 19 (ZENIT) - "I want to tell the youth, who are the hope
of the third millenium: invest your life well, because it is a talent that
must bear fruit. Remember that you only live once." As usual Pope John Paul
emotional words hit home in the second public appearance of his summer
vacation. Once again, he repeated the message that opened his Pontificate,
"I want to make this invitation to all those who are alienated from the
Church or who do not believe: Don't be afraid to seek God, because He is
seeking you and loves you."
This was an important moment for the Holy Father. He used the second
Sunday of his Dolomite vacation to visit Borno, a Northern Italian town
nestled in the Camonica valley, to pay homage to two persons who have had a
decisive influence on his life. First he recalled his predecessor, Paul VI,
who as a child vacationed here with his parents. In fact, the future Pope
Paul celebrated one of his first Masses in the town church in 1920. This
was the way Pope John Paul chose to celebrate the hundredth anniversary of
the birth of Giovanni Battista Montini (Pope Paul VI), who closed the
Second Vatican Council, and to whom the present Holy Father owes so much.
John Paul urged the youth of this region to follow the example of Paul VI,
encouraging those called by God to generously embrace their vocation to the
priesthood or religious life.
This visit was also an opportunity to visit the native land of one of his
closest collaborators, Archbishop Giovanni Battista Re, Undersecretary of
State for the Holy See. The Italian Archbishop has worked in the
Secretariat of State for the past twenty years, and some Vatican observers
have suggested that he could be one of the two Cardinals named "in pectore"
(secretly) at last February's consistory, when the Holy Father publicly
created 20 Cardinals.
As he has in many of his recent public appearances, the Pope offered
personal advice to Christians to discover the true sense of vacationing.
Commenting on his recent Apostolic Letter "Dies Domini," John Paul
commented on his desire for "the vacation period to serve as a time to
rediscover the Christian meaning of Sunday, a day of rest, but especially
of community prayer; the day on which Christ rose from the dead fills us
with hope and joy; it is a day given to man for his benefit."
CARDINAL RATZINGER: "THE TRUTH IS NOT DECIDED BY MAJORITY"
CARDINAL RATZINGER: "THE TRUTH IS NOT DECIDED BY MAJORITY"TOP
Presentation of John Paul II's Apostolic Letter on Episcopal Conferences
VATICAN CITY, JUL 23 (ZENIT) - "Episcopal Conferences and their auxiliary
bodies exist to help the Bishops, not to replace them." With these words,
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of
the Faith, opened a press conference in the Vatican presenting John Paul
II's Apostolic Letter "Apostolos Suos" [His Apostles], on the theological
and juridical nature of Episcopal Conferences.
Cardinal Ratzinger explained that "with the publication of this letter,
the Holy Father is responding to a request of the Second Extraordinary
Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in 1985, where it was asked to clarify the
theological and juridical nature of Episcopal Conferences, especially their
doctrinal authority, making it clear that they should serve the unity of
the Church, with respect for the inalienable responsibilities of each
Bishop toward the universal Church and his local Church."
The Bavarian Cardinal recalled that "Episcopal Conferences were formed
beginning with and thanks to Vatican Council II" more than thirty years ago.
With respect to doctrine, Cardinal Ratzinger pointed out that "Episcopal
Conferences do not change the relation of each Bishop with their respective
local Churches or with the Episcopal College [all the Bishops of the
world]. They are not a collective entity for governing the local Churches,
nor are they the intermediate level between the various bishops and the
whole Episcopal College." More precisely, he continued, "Episcopal
Conferences and their auxiliary bodies exist to help the Bishops, not to
replace them." Nonetheless, the Prefect of the Congregation for the
Doctrine of the Faith stated, "the Episcopal Conferences are not a
substitute or a parallel to the ministry of each Bishop. In themselves they
do not form a doctrinal instance linked to and superior to the authority of
Cardinal Ratzinger went on to highlight the new teachings contained in
this "motu proprio" of the Holy Father. "When the doctrinal declarations
adopted by a Conference are unanimously approved by the Bishops, they can
be published in the name of the Conference, and the faithful are obliged to
adhere to them with religious assent of spirit to this authentic
Magisterium of their own Bishops, which should always be in communion with
the Magisterium of the head of the Episcopal College, the Roman Pontiff.
Nonetheless, when there is no unanimity, a simple majority of the Bishops
of a Conference cannot publish the declaration as authentic Magisterium of
the whole, and thus does not bind the adhesion of all the faithful of the
territory. In order to do this, a document approved by a simple majority
would have to obtain the 'recognitio' [approval] of the Apostolic See."
In this way, the papal document protects Bishops from the difficult
situation of being forced to consent to a decree of the Episcopal
Conference with which he has legitimate qualms. "From the theological point
of view," continued the Cardinal, "the Conference is a structure of
mediation between each Bishop and the Episcopal College [all the Bishops of
the world] 'cum Petro et sub Petro' [with Peter and under Peter]. The
Bishop is linked to the College by virtue of his ordination, not through
the Episcopal Conference."
Responding to objections that the requirement of unanimity in the work of
Episcopal Conferences could become a hindrance to the freedom and
creativity of these bodies, Cardinal Ratzinger explained that "respect for
minorities forms a part of authentic humanistic tradition. Often,
majorities give voice to power groups and do not represent the minorities,
who nonetheless are very important, especially in the case of Episcopal
Conferences. We would like to recall the fact that on numerous occasions
throughout the course of history, great individuals have brought forth the
call to the truth and to progress against dominating currents and that
precisely the voice of the individual has its own weight. Here we are not
talking about practical disciplinary problems, about which the majority has
to decide; we are talking about problems of doctrine, that is, the truth,
and humanly speaking, the principle of the majority ends when the problem
of truth begins. The truth is not decided by majority, but by intelligence
The Bishops were asked to give an example of a case in which Episcopal
Conferences would be called to make a statement on doctrinal matters.
Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine
of the Faith, explained that "cases in which today's Episcopal Conference
give doctrinal statements come primarily in the moral field. It is enough
to consider the field of Bioethics. This is the area in which Episcopal
Conferences, local Churches, and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the
Faith must make doctrinal interventions."
BACK FROM VACATION, POPE ASKS FOR AID TO PAPUA NEW GUINEA
BACK FROM VACATION, POPE ASKS FOR AID TO PAPUA NEW GUINEA
After 800 Addresses and 2,500 Audiences Last Year, More Trips Planned
VATICAN CITY, JUL 22 (ZENIT) - "My thoughts and prayers are especially
directed to the people of Papua New Guinea." Immediately upon his return
from vacations, John Paul II held his traditional Wednesday audience with
the faithful from around the world in St. Peter's Square.
"Our desolation becomes more and more profound over what has happened in
that so punished corner of the Pacific, in which every day the number of
persons who have lost their lives in the catastrophe grows," confessed the
Holy Father. "In this time, the need for divine assistance grows, but also
of human solidarity." With these words, he appealed to the international
community not to remain indifferent to this new humanitarian emergency.
The Holy Father also addressed a group of children who survived the
Chernobyl nuclear disaster. He often meets with young people from this
region because many parishes in Italy have been raising funds to make the
visits, requested by John Paul himself, possible. The Pontiff encouraged
them and invited them to "a serene and profitable period for the body and
spirit" during their visit to Italy.
During the audience, the Pope continued his reflections on the Holy
Spirit, the "great unknown" for many Christians, to whom the year 1998 is
dedicated, according to the program proposed for the preparation of the
Jubilee in "Tertio Millenio Adveniente."
800 Discourses and 2,500 Audiences Last Year
After completing his vacations, John Paul II returned to the papal summer
residence in Castelgandolfo, about 20 miles from Rome. During this time, he
will go about his ordinary work of governing the Church. He will travel to
the Vatican on Wednesdays by helicopter for the audience, since the number
of participants is too large for the small courtyard at Castelgandolfo. The
Holy Father admitted that he had really needed these days of rest, due to
the frenetic pace of work. Since his last vacations, the Pope had made 5
international trips, given 800 speeches, and held 2,500 audiences.
Sources close to the Holy Father have told ZENIT that the Pope had
"complained" that he has no international travel plans for the rest of
1998. "What am I going to do with all this time?" he asked, jokingly. Thus,
he has organized a trip to Croatia for October 2-4, in which the Pontiff
will beatify Cardinal Alojs Stepinac. Early next year, January 22-25, he
will visit Mexico and the United States. Further plans call for a trip to
Poland in early June and the Far East at the end of the year to close the
Asian Synod. Although the Bishops proposed a trip to Jerusalem, political
situations there make a trip highly unlikely. The Pope will probably visit
Bombay, Manila, or Hong Kong. A trip to Rumania is also probable, given the
invitation from both the government and the Orthodox Church and a comment
by Vatican Information Office Director Joaquín Navarro-Valls during the
Pope's Dolomite vacation suggesting this possibility.
HOLY SEE SUPPORTS INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT
HOLY SEE SUPPORTS INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURTTOP
"An Important Step Toward Justice"
ROME, JUL 19 (ZENIT) - After 32 days of intense negotiations and
discussions, the U.N. Conference for the creation of an international
criminal court closed in Rome. One hundred sixty-two countries participated
in the conference. The final text of the document establishing the court
was passed in the full assembly 120-7, with 21 abstentions. Among those
voting against the measure were the United States, Israel, China and India.
The Holy See was one of the States supporting the new treaty. At the end
of the Conference, the head of the Vatican delegation, Archbishop Renato
Martino, the Vatican Permanent Observer at the U.N., explained that the
Pope has supported the institution of this court from the beginning. "From
the outset John Paul II spoke to the participants and expressed his hope
that this summit could give birth to a historic event."
Martino explained that the Vatican sees the international criminal court
as "an important step on the long road toward better justice." He went on
to explain that "the Holy See has supported the tribunal with the objective
of guaranteeing a sure defense and protection for the dignity of the human
person . . . The crimes over which the Court has jurisdiction are
atrocities that offend the conscience of the human family."
Throughout the conference, "the Holy See has confirmed its condemnation of
all forms of violation of international humanitarian laws, especially those
affecting the most vulnerable members of the population." The Vatican also
"recognizes the dignity of every person without distinction of sex, race,
age, ethnic origin, or economic condition, from those who have not yet been
born to the most elderly."
The biggest debate that the Vatican delegates faced in the proceedings
involved the widespread use of the term "forced pregnancy," which the Holy
See objected to on the grounds that such ambiguous terminology could be
manipulated to create an international right to abortion. This problem was
overcome when the Holy See explained that the international community
already has the necessary juridical mechanisms to defend women who suffer
forced pregnancies due to rape.
The new tribunal will have its seat in The Hague, and will be composed of
18 magistrates elected by the nations that have signed the treaty. The
court will have the power to try individuals for crimes of genocide, war
crimes, crimes against humanity, and aggression. Rape and recruitment of
children for armies are classified as war crimes. The new court will only
be permitted to act when the competent State is unable or unwilling to try
these criminals. The power of the court is further limited by two checks:
it can act only with the authorization of a panel of magistrates, and the
U.N. Security Council retains the right to block criminal action in a given
case for up to a year.
THE PROPHECIES OF "HUMANAE VITAE," THIRTY YEARS LATER
THE PROPHECIES OF "HUMANAE VITAE," THIRTY YEARS LATERTOP
Archbishop Chaput of Denver Analyzes Message of Paul VI's Encyclical
DENVER, JUL 21 (ZENIT) - On July 25, 1968, Pope Paul VI signed one of the
most influential (and criticized) Pontifical documents of this century: the
Encyclical "Humanae Vitae." The text, in which the Pope confirmed the
Church's continuous tradition on the delicate matters of birth control, was
a clear sign of the permanent separation of Catholicism from the secular
mentality prominent in the West, where the "sexual revolution" was already
in full swing.
Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver thought this anniversary an
appropriate time to reread the document in the light of the lessons we have
learned in the past thirty years. Archbishop Chaput, who is of Native
American ancestry, has written a pastoral letter to his diocese on the topic.
Archbishop Chaput says that the Encyclical still provides important
pastoral points for the defense of life, the family, and a healthy
understanding of human sexuality. "I believe this encyclical offers a key
to deeper, richer marriages. And so what I seek from the family of our
local Church is not just a respectful nod toward a document which critics
dismiss as irrelevant, but an active and sustained effort to study Humanae
Vitae; to teach it faithfully in our parishes; and to encourage our married
couples to live it."
A Prophetic Voice
The Denver Archbishop begins by mentioning the dramatic effects, foreseen
by Paul VI in his Encyclical, of ignoring this teaching, which
unfortunately are being played out in the modern world, especially in the
West. There are four principle problems predicted by Paul VI. First, the
Pope had mentioned infidelity in marriages and a decrease in morality.
Archbishop Chaput notes that "few would deny that the rates of abortion,
divorce, family breakdown, wife and child abuse, venereal disease, and out
of wedlock births have all massively increased since the mid-1960s."
Paul VI further warned that men would lose their respect for women, to the
point of considering her "as a mere instrument of selfish enjoyment, and no
longer as his respected and beloved companion." ("Humanae Vitae" 17)
Archbishop Chaput remarks that today, men are not held responsible for
their sexual aggression, in large part due to the "pill." He goes on to
point out the irony of the present conflict between feminist groups and the
Church: "Many feminists have attacked the Catholic Church for her alleged
disregard of women, but the Church in 'Humanae Vitae' identified and
rejected sexual exploitation of women years before that message entered the
A further danger of contraception foreseen by Paul VI was that it would
become a dangerous weapon in the hands of governments lacking moral
scruples. Archbishop Chaput calls attention to the widespread export of
contraceptives, abortion, and sterilization into the third world as proof
that this prophecy as well has been fulfilled. "Eugenics didn't disappear
with Nazi racial theories in 1945," he notes.
The Holy Father's final warning was that contraception would lead people
to think that they had unlimited control over their bodies, turning
themselves into the object of their own intrusions. Archbishop Chaput
argues that "at the heart of contraception . . . is the assumption that
fertility is an infection which must be attacked and controlled exactly as
antibiotics attack bacteria . . . Woman becomes the object of the tools she
relies on to ensure her own liberation and defense, while man takes no
share of the burden. Once again, Paul VI was right."
Archbishop Chaput then suggests, "if Paul VI was right about so many of
the consequences deriving from contraception, it is because he was right
about contraception itself." Recalling that the truth will make us free, he
asserts that " 'Humanae Vitae' is filled with truth. It is therefore a key
to our freedom."
The Message of "Humanae Vitae"
In the next section of the document, the Archbishop examines "What
'Humanae Vitae' Really Says," seeking to go beyond the distorted vision
presented by the media. "The Catholic attitude toward sexuality is anything
but puritanical, repressive, or anti-carnal," writes Archbishop Chaput.
Instead, sexuality is intimately connected with the happiness and
self-realization of men and women.
"When spouses give themselves honestly and entirely to each other, as the
nature of married love implies and even demands, that must include their
whole selves -- and the most intimate, powerful part of each person is his
or her fertility," continues the Archbishop, declaring that it is not
"artificial" contraceptives that the Church objects to, but egotism. "The
notion of 'artificial' has nothing to do with the issue. In fact, it tends
to confuse discussion by implying that the debate is about a mechanical
intrusion into the body's organic system."
"It is not," reads the letter. "The Church has no problem with science
appropriately intervening to heal or enhance bodily health. Rather, the
Church teaches that all contraception is morally wrong; and not only wrong,
but seriously wrong." He explains that the natural family planning (NFP)
promoted by the Church differs not only in style, but also in moral
substance, because "NFP is not contraception. Rather it is a method of
fertility awareness and appreciation."
Plans for the Future
In the last part of his letter, Archbishop Chaput asks Catholic couples in
the Archdiocese of Denver "to read, discuss, and pray over 'Humanae Vitae,'
'Familiaris Consortio,' and other documents of the Church which outline
Catholic teaching on marriage and sexuality." At the same time, he
encourages priests and diocesan institutions "to facilitate the
presentation of Catholic teaching on married love and family planning,"
remaining conscious that in many cases, the Church's message has not been
understood because it was not explained well.
The Archbishop concludes by remarking that "the issue of contraception is
not peripheral, but central and serious in a Catholic's walk with God."
However, he warns "teaching the truth should always be done with patience
and compassion, as well as firmness." Due to the effects of contraception,
which took away the ability of one generation to teach morality to its
children, "the Church now must evangelize a world of their children's
children . . .. For all its challenges, this is a tremendous new moment of
possibility for the Church, and the good news is that the Church today, as
in every age, has the answers to fill the God-shaped empty places in their
HOMOSEXUALITY THREATENS TO DIVIDE ANGLICANS
HOMOSEXUALITY THREATENS TO DIVIDE ANGLICANSTOP
Anglican Summit Meets at Canterbury
LONDON, JUL 20 (ZENIT) - On July 18, the 13th Lambeth Conference was
convened at Canterbury Cathedral. This meeting occurs every ten years,
convoking all the Bishops of the church founded by Henry VIII in the 16th
century. This year, 735 Bishops from all over the world, accompanied by
more than 630 spouses (of both sexes, given that 11 female Bishops are in
attendance), have come to the ancient cathedral.
Among the participants, the largest group, 224 Bishops, hails from Africa.
Another 177 come from North America, while Europe and the United Kingdom
are represented by 139 Bishops. 95 Asians, 56 from Oceania, 41 from Latin
America, and 4 from the Middle East round out the group. For the first time
in history, the conference has been extended to include assistant
(suffragan and co-adjutor) Bishops, which contribute to the high attendance
figures. There are also 50 lay and clerical members of the Anglican
Consultative Council at the Conference.
This summit of the Anglican Church will last 3 weeks, ending on August 9
and will include meetings with Queen Elizabeth and Prime Minister Tony
Blair. Cardinal Edward Cassidy, President of the Pontifical Council for the
Unity of Christians, leads a special Catholic delegation who was invited to
the Conference as observers and he gave the homily at Vespers on July 19.
The spouses will follow a separate program of prayer and study.
Discussion is planned on the topics of human rights, ecumenism, the
environment, and social justice. Many of the debates are being held behind
closed doors in order to protect Bishops from Africa and Asia, where
Christians are persecuted.
The Great Debates
The vote on some of the most divisive issues, however, will be held
publicly. In this group, we will see discussions of the possibility of
actively homosexual pastors, foreign debt in the third world, and relations
There is a great danger of schism over the issue of homosexuality, with
controversial proposals being made to allow homosexual priests and same-sex
marriages. English journalists point out that Anglican Primate George Carey
risks his own credibility and leadership when he approaches these hot topics.
Just as at its founding by Henry VIII (over the question of divorce), the
most important discussions facing the Anglican Church today are in the area
of morality. The Convention has to determine if the pluralism that
characterizes Anglicanism is leading the church into moral relativism,
which would be clearly unacceptable for most of the Bishops. According to
the British press, the large majority of African Bishops are already
decided against the issue of homosexual priests and consider the issue of
poverty to be much more pressing.
At the same time, some Bishops have refused to participate in any
Eucharist celebrated by a woman. This problem was brought about by the most
heated discussion of the last Lambeth Conference in 1988, concerning
opening the priesthood to women. There are currently 1,200 women serving as
priests, and over 100 Anglican priests and Bishops have converted to
Catholicism as a result.
The Anglican Church at a Glance
There are presently 80 million Anglicans in the world, compared with 1
billion Catholics, 200 million Orthodox, and 200 million other Protestants.
The Anglican Communion came into being when King Henry VIII asked Pope
Clement VII for an annulment of his marriage with Catherine of Aragon,
which was denied. In order to secure a divorce, Parliament declared the
king as Head of the Church in England in 1534.
The church today is divided into 36 provinces, each with relative
autonomy. The Lambeth Conference is a manifestation of their common faith
and an examination of the principle questions raised by the circumstances
in the world. Archbishop George Carey, appointed by Margaret Thatcher in
1991, is the 103rd Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury and will preside over
England, home of the Anglican Communion, has suffered greatly from
secularism in recent years. Although the Church of England remains the
official church, and the reigning monarch and Prime Minister must belong to
this religion, the average Sunday Eucharist attendance is currently around
2.5% among the 26 million baptized members of the Church of England.
THE ARREST OF GERARDI'S ASSISTANTS IS AN "ABUSE"
THE ARREST OF GERARDI'S ASSISTANTS IS AN "ABUSE"TOP
Guatemalan Bishop Flores Lacks Confidence in the Judicial System
ROME, JUL 23 (ZENIT) - "It is illogical and constitutes an abuse," reacted
Bishop Gerardo Humberto Flores Reyes of Las Verapaces, Guatemala, to the
arrest of Fr. Mario Leonel Orantes and the parish cook, Margarita López,
from the parish where slain Bishop Juan Gerardi Conedera had been residing.
The two were arrested on July 22 by order of Judge Isaías Figueroa Medina
in connection with the April 26 murder. The Bishop was apparently struck
from behind in the garage with a cement block. Fr. Orantes was the one who
discovered the dead body of Bishop Gerardi, immediately informing his
superiors and the authorities. At present, no charges have been filed
against the priest and cook.
After the arrest, Fr. Orantes was led handcuffed by armed guards to the
courthouse where the investigation is being held. He told a journalist
shortly after the arrest that he was confused and overwhelmed by the event.
This arrest is "absurd," he stated. "The investigators had told me several
times not to worry, that they had nothing against me," and now he is under
arrest. "It is absurd," he insisted. He rejected the idea that the crime
could have been motivated as a crime of passion. "This is ridiculous, just
foolish," because the Bishop "was an upright man," and "you could never
imagine him in that type of a relation," he noted.
Bishop Flores, in an interview given to Vatican Radio in Rome's airport
just before leaving for Guatemala, stated, "I am indignant." The Bishop was
in Europe to present the document "Guatemala, Never Again," which Bishop
Gerardi had presented in Guatemala shortly before his death.
"Unfortunately, I have no faith in our judicial system," confessed the
Bishop. "In our country, it just doesn't work, because there is too much
corruption." Misappropriations have made it "inefficient and ambiguous."
"Guatemala, Never Again"
Bishop Flores has just finished a trip to Spain and Italy where he
presented the document "Guatemala, Never Again" in several major cities. He
remarked that the document "is an important step toward knowing the truth
with a view toward true peace, which still must begin." He further
explained, "Yes, there has been a demobilization of the guerillas and the
civil self-defense patrols, and 'military squads', instruments of
repression by the Army, which once reached into the most remote villages,
However, Bishop Flores notes that secret equivalent bodies composed of
former military still exist who do not want peace because they would lose
their privileges. These groups of ex-military members maintain relations
with the Army. "There are very few privileged people in Guatemala," added
the Bishop. "The richest landowners account for 2.5% of the total
population, compared with 82% who live below the poverty line. If we don't
institute agrarian reforms, there are no signs that this abysmal economic
disparity will diminish, unless through a catastrophe." For Bishop Flores,
the great challenge to Guatemala is that of education. "With 76%
illiteracy, a nation can't progress. The Church is very deeply involved in
this: in my diocese, we have 660 rural schools, with 1,000 professors and
55,000 students. Education is one of the most decisive instruments to
achieve peace and democracy."
SUDAN COULD SUFFER THE GREATEST CATASTROPHE OF THE CENTURY
SUDAN COULD SUFFER THE GREATEST CATASTROPHE OF THE CENTURYTOP
Government and Guerillas Declare Truce to Provide Food for a Million Refugees
KHARTOUM, JUL 24 (ZENIT) - "The decision of the Sudanese People's
Liberation Army (SPLA) to declare a universal cease fire was unexpected.
The government of Khartoum had already announced one some time ago. The
decision of the SPLA occurs precisely because the situation of the refugees
is extreme. But many zones in which people are suffering greatly are still
outside the zone of the cease fire and the combats continue," affirmed
Bishop Macram Max Gassis of El Obeid to the Vatican News Agency FIDES.
Bishop Gassis has been in exile since 1990, unable to enter the
government-controlled northern part of the country. In his part of the
country, the SPLA, which is fighting for self-rule in Sudan, is in power.
The South is predominantly Christian and Animist, while the North is Islamic.
The SPLA declared its unilateral cease-fire in two provinces of Southern
Sudan in order to permit humanitarian aid to reach the civilian population,
suffering from severe shortages. It is calculated that in this region, at
least 1,200,000 refugees are in danger due to lack of food. Many consider
this the worst famine since the one in Ethiopia in 1980, which caused
1,000,000 deaths. The cease-fire, which affects the Bahr El Ghazal and
Upper Nile regions, has been declared for three months, so as to allow help
to arrive by harvest time.
"The cease-fire," added Bishop Gassis, "doesn't apply to, for example, the
Juba and Torit zones. The SPLA fears that the Khartoum government would use
the situation to bring in reinforcements." Juba and Torit are in the
extreme south, but are still in government control, and the SPLA wants to
For the Bishop "it is bothersome that the cease-fire does not apply to the
Nuba Mountains region, where at least 500,000 people are in danger of
starvation, yet the battles continue." Bishop Gassis affirmed, "During
recent talks held in Washington, I was assured that Khartoum had agreed to
a visit from a commission to examine the needs of the people in the Nuba
Mountains. I had planned that people from my diocese would accompany the
commission into the camps where the needs are greatest. However, Khartoum's
consent has yet to become an official permission."
Arap Moi, President of Kenya, announced the cease-fire, which the SPLA
granted after international pressure, to the government authorities. The
Sudanese Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mustafa Osman Ishmail, upon accepting
the cease-fire, stressed the new round of negotiations scheduled for
August. In the last set of meetings held in Nairobi in April the armed
groups, led by John Garang and the Sudanese government had found several
points of agreement "to end fifteen years of war."
APOCALYPTIC SCENES FROM THE NEW GUINEA TIDAL WAVE
APOCALYPTIC SCENES FROM THE NEW GUINEA TIDAL WAVETOP
Reports from Missionaries Move the Pope's Heart
VATICAN CITY, JUL 20 (ZENIT) - The tragic news of the tidal wave which
struck Papua New Guinea and has devastated entire populations, causing
thousands of deaths, has deeply saddened Pope John Paul II. In a telegram,
he "offered his fervent prayer for the victims of the disaster and has
invoked divine consolation for those who suffer and mourn their loved ones
who have disappeared."
Cardinal Angelo Sodano signed the message expressing the Pope's sorrow to
the Apostolic Nuncio for the affected region. The telegram continued, "The
Pope expresses the hope that the international community will show its
solidarity by providing quick and efficient aid for those in need."
Meanwhile, international efforts, spearheaded by Australia and New
Zealand, have begun to bring in necessary aid to the stricken people. The
wall of water slammed into the coast wiped out six towns and resulted in
almost 3,000 confirmed deaths, with 6,000 persons still missing.
Franciscan missionary Gianni Gattei, who lived through the disaster, gave
a first-hand report to Vatican Radio. "We heard a loud noise, like the
passing of a large plane, and afterwards the cries of the people who
escaped . . . Yesterday, we went to survey the area and found the dead in
the lagoon. It will be impossible to recover them all. We don't have the
means -- we only have a few boats. The situation is extremely difficult due
to the lack of transport. We have two helicopters, and all the boats are
The number of children killed in the disaster has been particularly high.
Fr. Saverio Caffari, Vicar General of the diocese of Vanimo, reported, "50%
of the population is made up of children and youth, and it is obvious that
the majority of the dead are of this age." When the earthquake began, many
fled to the jungle. "We are trying to find them," continued Fr. Saverio,
"but the jungle is very dense. When the helicopters find them, they lower
food and drinking water to them with cables."
The Bishop of Vanimo, Cesare Bonivento, has raised a call for
international assistance: "I ask for help, because we find ourselves in a
truly grave situation. I went to the military hospital and the Australian
commander told me that the number of persons affected by the quake was at
least ten thousand. We find ourselves before a catastrophe that surpasses
the limits of the imagination . . . I remember well the two churches that
used to be in these towns. Yesterday, I went back, and there was nothing.
Where one of the churches had been, all that remained was the cement of the
NEW RACIST MOVEMENT IN AUSTRALIA
NEW RACIST MOVEMENT IN AUSTRALIATOP
"One Nation" Promotes Anti-immigration Policies for "Environmental Concerns"
MELBOURNE, JUL 20 (ZENIT) - In recent elections, the "One Nation" party has
become chillingly noticeable. The party, led by Pauline Hanson, now has the
support of 15% of Australians, according to polls. The new group is openly
racist and proposes anti-immigration policies, restriction of visas to
Asians, and policies to prevent aborigines from integrating with society.
The archbishop of Melbourne, George Pell, told the Italian Catholic
newspaper "Avvenire," that "it is a party of racists, adventurers, and
political opportunists . . . The program of One Nation does not create
wealth or well-being, but brings misery and poverty to Australia. To close
immigration in a country like ours, which has the land area of Europe and
the population of Shanghai, is senseless. Furthermore, we have contracted
obligations to the aborigines, and we must understand their needs and
correct the errors of the past."
Ms. Hanson, on the other hand, claims that her party is not racist, since
"a racial problem is a problem which confronts two different races who live
in two separate societies, even if those societies are side by side. We do
not want a society in Australia in which one group enjoy one set of
privileges and another group enjoys another set of privileges." Her
proposed immigration policies would require physical and character
screening of potential immigrants, placing a quota equal to the number of
people leaving Australia yearly (currently about 30,000). The party claims
that the measures are necessary above all for environmental concerns:
"Australia, the world's oldest, driest continent, suffers severe soil
degradation and climatic uncertainty . . .. Australia has a responsibility
to protect its bio-diversity and not allow its flora and fauna to be ousted
from their habitats because of population or economic pressures."
Archbishop Pell stressed that the Church has constantly fought against
racism. The Archbishop of Queensland, John Bathersby, has always been very
critical of One Nation. He has made calls in favor of social justice and
understanding of the work realized in Australia by the different ethnic
communities and by the natives. "I too have made clear calls in this line,"
he points out, "although they have received little resonance in the
BISHOPS FROM AMERICAN CONTINENT TO MEET IN CUBA
BISHOPS FROM AMERICAN CONTINENT TO MEET IN CUBATOP
President of CELAM Explains Details
ROME, JUL 21 (ZENIT) - In a recent interview with the Italian magazine "30
Giorni" (30 Days), Archbishop Oscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga of
Tegucigalpa, Honduras, President of the Latin American Episcopal Conference
(CELAM), has confirmed that Cuba will be the site of a meeting of
representatives of the episcopal conferences of North, South, and Central
America in February 1999.
This will be the 27th such among the episcopal conferences. "We were going
to celebrate it in Canada this year, but it will be held in Cuba,"
explained the Honduran archbishop. "On the one hand it will be an occasion
to recall the first anniversary of the Holy Father's visit and to evaluate
the fruits of this pastoral visit. On the other hand, it will be a
marvelous opportunity to study the post-Synodal document that will be
presented at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe during the Pope's visit
to Mexico, planned for the end of January 1999. Primarily, however, we
would like to help Cuba open itself to the world and the world open itself
Archbishop Rodríguez indicated that "when we came up with the idea, we
asked Havana's archbishop, Cardinal Jaime Lucas Ortega y Alamino, for his
opinion, and he was very excited. The same can be said for the other
bishops of the island. We have not consulted the Cuban government, but the
unofficial responses have been positive. Fidel Castro himself, speaking
with journalists, said that he had no objection to the meeting. In any
case, it would not be the first time that an assembly of a Latin American
Church body took place in Cuba; back in 1989, the island was host to a
meeting of the secretariat of the Caribbean Episcopal Conference."
The President of CELAM explained that the Canadian and U.S. Episcopal
Conferences also showed great enthusiasm for the move. "At this point,"
added the archbishop, "I would like to mention the efforts made by the U.S.
Bishops, and especially Boston's Cardinal Bernard Law, to convince the
Clinton Administration to lift the unjust embargo imposed on Cuba. The
Canadians, for their part, have been very gracious in renouncing their role
as hosts for the meeting in order to help Cuba."
"Currently, there is an extensive mobilization of Latin American
countries," added the Honduran archbishop, "so that Cuba can make its
contribution to the process of Latin American integration. Guatemala has
reestablished diplomatic relations with the Caribbean island, and many
other nations would like to do the same, though they are sometimes
prevented by external pressures." Archbishop Rodríguez said that "the
openness of Canada is a very positive factor," and mentioned an episode
during the second American Summit (of political leaders) this past April.
"For the first time, thanks to Chilean President Eduardo Frei, the
President of CELAM was invited. At this meeting, someone asked the Canadian
Prime Minister, 'But how is it that you are going to Cuba? Perhaps
President Clinton would not be in agreement . . .' With good humor,
Chrétrien responded, 'But if the Holy Father went to Cuba, why can't a
Christian go?' "
BISHOP OF CHIAPAS ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT IN 99
BISHOP OF CHIAPAS ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT IN 99TOP
Samuel Ruiz Will Step Down When He Turns 75 Next Year
MEXICO CITY, JUL 24 (ZENIT) - In a public statement made from the
rebel-controlled town of Nicolás Ruiz, the Bishop of San Cristobal de las
Casas, Samuel Ruiz, officially announced that he will step down as titular
Bishop of the diocese in November of 1999.
The declaration was made 16 months before he reaches the age of 75 which,
according to Cannon Law, is the moment when all Bishops must present their
resignation to the Holy Father because of age. The Pontiff reserves the
right to ask them to stay in their post for as long as he deems opportune.
A few months before armed rebellion broke out in the Mexican state of
Chiapas, in January, 1994, the then Pontifical Nuncio to Mexico,
Archbishop Girolamo Prigione, delivered a letter from the Vatican
Congregation for Bishops asking for Bishop Ruiz to resign. In the letter
from the Vatican, dated September 23, 1993, the Bishop of Chiapas was
rebuked for "grave doctrinal, pastoral and administrative errors" and
accused of having upheld an "interpretation of the Gospel from the
perspective of a Marxist analysis, and thus portraying a reductive vision
of the person and work of Jesus Christ." The letter concluded: "The Holy
See sustains the absolute impossibility to allow the doctrinal and pastoral
situation of San Cristobal to continue in what it considers open contrast
with the demands of the unity of the Church."
Several months after the "revolutionaries" of the Zapatist National
Liberation Army (EZLN) had launched their rebellion in Chiapas and Ruiz had
established himself as peace negotiator, the Bishop of San Cristobal
traveled to Rome in May of 1994 in an effort to clear up
"misunderstandings" with Cardinal Bernardin Gantin, Prefect of the
Congregation for Bishops who, until last month, was in charge of the
nomination and removal of all bishops, and who had written the letter
After their meeting, the Holy See decided to leave Ruiz in his post and to
name a coadjutor Bishop to assist him. This was made public on August 14,
1995 with the appointment of Bishop Raúl Vera López as coadjutor Bishop of
the diocese of San Cristobal de las Casas.
During these last four years Bishop Ruiz has served as mediator between
the Mexican government and the EZLN. In June of this year he resigned as
President of the National Mediation Commission (CONAI), a lay organization
that he himself founded, which was originally established to seek a
peaceful solution to the armed conflict in Chiapas. Shortly after his
resignation, the CONAI officially broke up citing lack of cooperation on
behalf of the government.
ABORTED FETUSES USED TO ASPHALT STREETS IN BERLIN
ABORTED FETUSES USED TO ASPHALT STREETS IN BERLINTOP
German Episcopal Conference Decries "A Terrifying Lack of Respect"
BERLIN, JUL 22 (ZENIT) - Based on the information gathered by the Spanish
newspaper "ABC," the remains of the almost 4,000 clinical abortions
performed in Berlin last year were used as organic material for a granulate
used to asphalt streets.
Sources in the company that processes "special" waste materials for Berlin
hospitals indicate that this procedure is perfectly normal and well within
legal boundaries. A spokesman for the German Health Department, however,
disagrees. He indicated that this procedure is "ethically irresponsible,"
stating that the department had believed that the fetuses were incinerated.
Those responsible for the Virchow Clinic, where the practice was first
uncovered, also deny knowledge of the destination of the fetuses.
In fact, a large variety of organic waste materials meets the same fate,
such as parts of dysfunctional organs or expired blood reserves. The
organic matter is homogenized, sterilized, dried, and centrifuged. The
resulting granulate is then burned and used as insulation or for
German law requires that fetuses weighing more than 2.2 lbs. be buried
properly. Although parents have the right to have their child buried in a
cemetery if they choose, statistics show that this does not occur often in
Berlin. There are many reasons for this, including the emotional shock to
the parents and the high cost of such a burial, typically over $1,000.
It is quite possible that this procedure occurs in other countries as
well, unless the laws specify very clearly what may be done to dispose of
the bodies. The current scandal has provoked various reactions, including
that of the German Episcopal Conference, which labeled the practice as "a
terrifying lack of respect" in the treatment of the unborn.
Judge Allows Euthanasia in Frankfurt
Another threat to the right to life in Germany is also brewing, this one
affecting primarily the elderly. Responding to a request from her daughter,
a Frankfurt court has permitted that an 85-year-old woman in a coma, the
result of a stroke, be removed from life support.
According to the decision, "we are trying to resolve the conflict between
the supreme right to respect for life and the also supreme right to respect
for self-determination and the dignity of the person." The judges are aware
that this is not "passive" euthanasia, but rather "an interruption of the
necessary means for life, and thus a true help towards death." Pro-life
advocates fear that this could be a first step towards legalizing
euthanasia in Germany.
THE WEEK IN REVIEW
THE WEEK IN REVIEWTOP
People, Events, and Comments
CATHOLICS IN BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA RUN GRAVE RISKS
CATHOLICS IN BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA RUN GRAVE RISKSTOP
BANJA LUKA, BOSNIA, JUL 19 (ZENIT) - The Bishops gathered in Banja Luka,
have denounced the situation for Catholics in the four dioceses of
Bosnia-Herzegovina as "very grave." According to the Catholic Press Agency
of Zagreb, "the return of refugees to the towns of the Federation of
Bosnia-Herzegovina is being impeded by many obstacles, frequently by
terrorist acts, while the Serb Republic has not even established the
fundamental legal conditions to allow a safe return." Cardinal Vinko Puljic
of Sarajevo and Bishop Franjio Komarica of Banja Luka recently met with the
president of the Serb Republic to discuss the problems. They assure that
the Church is still continuing its mission of evangelization, encouraging
dialogue with all religions. President Plavsic has promised to examine
their petitions to allow priests to return to their parishes, to recommence
activities in field churches and convents, and to legally define where Mass
may be celebrated.
CHRISTIAN-ISLAMIC COMMITTEE MEETS IN CAIRO
CHRISTIAN-ISLAMIC COMMITTEE MEETS IN CAIROTOP
VATICAN CITY, JUL 22 (ZENIT) - During the past few days, the
Christian-Islamic Committee has been meeting in Cairo. This commission was
founded in 1995 in Rome to help facilitate the dialogue and work between
the Council for Religious Dialogue and the leaders of various international
Islamic institutions. This year, the Islamic leaders proposed the topics:
The rights of men and women in the family and in society, the rights and
duties of the man, and the rights of the child in the family and in society.
Msgr. Michael Fitzgerald, Secretary of the Council for Religious Dialogue
participated in the conference and told Vatican Radio, "We agreed that the
family is being threatened by modern society. The concept of marriage is in
discussion, people want to approve different types of union. We found
agreement with the Muslim representatives immediately to show the need to
protect the family and to ask the media to have greater respect for the
family and for religious and moral values." The second topic was more
delicate, since in Muslim theology, all rights belong to God, while man
only has duties. Nonetheless, the religious leaders agreed that "rights and
duties are mutually dependent." In the third area, rights of children, the
leaders failed to reach a full agreement on abortion, as Muslims now permit
the practice under certain circumstances.
HOLY SEE PREPARES CHILDREN'S JUBILEE
HOLY SEE PREPARES CHILDREN'S JUBILEETOP
VATICAN CITY, JUL 23 (ZENIT) - The Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 continues
to bring new surprises. Vatican officials have recently announced the
preparation of a Children's Jubilee, which will be celebrated on January 2,
2000. The program will highlight the participation of the young pilgrims.
In connection with this Jubilee, the Vatican will also be promoting the
celebration of the Feast of the Three Kings, better known as Epiphany,
celebrated on January 6. Since most children will be unable to travel to
Rome, each country should choose a place with a profound religious
significance as a goal for children's pilgrimages. The organization of the
event is in the hands of the Pontifical Work of the Holy Childhood, which
is currently celebrating its 155th year of existence.
is an International News Agency
Visit our web page at www.zenit.org/weekly/index.htm
To subscribe, send e-mail to email@example.com
Via della Stazione di Ottavia, 95
Reposted with permission.
© Innovative Media, Inc.