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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





THE PROPHECIES OF "HUMANAE VITAE," THIRTY YEARS LATER Archbishop Chaput of Denver Analyzes Message of Paul VI's Encyclical


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"


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.




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."




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

each Bishop."

New Teachings

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

and wisdom."

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."




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.




"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.





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

cultural mainstream."

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





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

with Islam.

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

the Conference.

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.




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,

have disappeared."

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."




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

conquer them.

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."




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

privately owned."

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





"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

Australian media."




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

to Cuba."

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?' "




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

mentioned above.

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.




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

resurfacing streets.

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.




People, Events, and Comments


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.


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.


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.




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