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ZENIT, August 16, 1998





Pope Denounces Irish Bombing as "Blind Violence", Encourages Peace Process


Pope tells Pilgrims that There is no Historical Period Without His Action


The Lisbon Declaration Never Mentions "Parents"


U.N. Invokes Family Planning Rights for Children as Young as 10 Years Old



Netanyahu Claims that Greek Melkite Catholic Bishop of Galilee is pro-PLO


Cardinal Glemp Asks Catholics not to Devalue the Meaning of the Christian



Controversy in Anglican World after Decision of the Lambeth Conference


Youth Began Helping in Slums in 1968, Now Candidates for Nobel Peace Prize


Interview with the Postulator for the Beatification of Girolamo Savonarola


The Dominicans in Dialogue with New Religious Movements at the Close of

General Chapter


New Norms Demanded by the "Official" Church are Obstacles to "Foreign"



Mary Ann Glendon, Vatican Representative at Beijing Conference, Explains

its Significance


People, Events, and Comments

Pontifical Athenaeum of the Holy Cross Becomes A University, John Paul II,

Live Via Internet, Missionary Kidnapped in Rwanda, Emmanuel Mission School

Opens to Prepare Youth Jubilee.



Pope Denounces Irish Bombing as "Blind Violence", Encourages Peace Process

CASTELGANDOLFO, AUG 16 (ZENIT) - Smiling and in good spirits, John Paul II

invited those who attended the Sunday prayer of the Angelus in the

courtyard of the Papal residence and the adjacent town square to live

Sunday not only as "a time of rest and relaxation" but also as a day of

profound "joy and solidarity. A day of joy!" And almost jokingly, he asked

the faithful: "But can you actually program joy? Isn't it a sentiment that

depends on happy or unhappy circumstances in life?"

The Pope went on to explain a central part of his most recent Apostolic

Letter, "Dies Domini [The Day of the Lord], which deals precisely on the

true Christian meaning of Sunday.

"Actually," continued the Holy Father, "authentic Christian joy cannot be

reduced to a mere passing sentiment: it is rooted in the love that God has

shown us through the death and resurrection of his Son. This certainty

offers us a profound motive to live and to hope. The lives of the saints

are witness to the fact that it is possible to experiment profound joy,

even in moments of physical and spiritual suffering, when we are conscious

of being the object of God's love. Sunday is precisely the day that can

help us to rediscover the profound roots of joy."

At the same time, the Pope pointed out the social aspects of the most

important day of the week for Christians: "On the other hand, authentic joy

cannot be only an individual experience, but needs to be shared and

participated. Sunday, for the faithful, as well as for Christian families,

should become a day in which a greater communion towards others is felt by

all, reaching out to those who, different motives, are in needy situations.

In this way, Sunday becomes a day for sharing. Inviting a person who lives

alone to share a meal, to offer whatever is necessary to a needy family,

visit someone who is sick or incarcerated, to spend some time with someone

who is going through a difficult moment in their lives: these are just a

few concrete ways to make Sunday a day of fraternal solidarity. From this

perspective, the day of the Lord, as well as being lived out to the full,

also becomes 'Dies Hominis,' the day of man, because it helps us to grow in

our own humanity."

The Holy Father has shown that his recent Apostolic Letter is not merely

on "Sunday observance" as a legal requirement that must be fulfilled by

members of an institution, but an opportunity to express the profound joy

of their faith and personal salvation with others.

"These should be the same sentiments of someone who participates in the

celebration of the Eucharist," he added. "The Mass is not confined to the

walls of a church: it is the source of transformation of our every day

life, it is a 'mission', a commission to evangelize and also to charity.

May Mary, who went in haste to help her cousin Elizabeth, help us to

understand the importance to live this way."

Condolences for Irish Bombing Victims

After the recitation of the Angelus, visibly moved, John Paul made a

special mention of yesterday's bombing in Northern Ireland which claimed 28

innocent lives.

"Yesterday's joyful Feast of the Assumption has been tragically marred by

the latest terrible bombing in Northern Ireland. Once again, blind violence

is attempting to impede the difficult path of peace and productive harmony

which most discerning people are convinced is possible.

Let us invoke eternal rest on those who have lost their lives in such a

tragic and senseless way, and ask the Lord to bless and comfort the many

injured, the families in mourning, and all who continue to put their trust

in dialogue and agreement.

My earnest hope for that beloved country is that Irish people of good will

not succumb to violence and that they will persevere with determination in

building that peaceful coexistence on which the whole future depends."



Pope tells Pilgrims that There is no Historical Period Without His Action

VATICAN CITY, AUG 12 (ZENIT) - "The Holy Spirit works beyond the visible

confines of the Church," stressed Pope John Paul II in his traditional

Wednesday audience, continuing a series of catechisms on the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Father has chosen the Holy Spirit to be the center of meditations

for Catholics in this year of preparation for the Great Jubilee of 2000.

There were about seven thousand pilgrims present in Paul VI hall for the

encounter. The Pope continued by noting that it is "necessary to go back

and walk together, knowing that the wind blows where it will, according to

the image used by Jesus in his dialogue with Nicodemus."

"For the rest, already in Vatican Council II, dealing with the mystery and

mission of the Church in the world," recalled the Pontiff, "we had been

offered a wide range of perspectives. For the Council, the action of the

Holy Spirit cannot be limited to the institutional range of the Church,

where the Church works in a singular and full form, but rather that He must

also be recognized even outside the visible boundaries of [Christ's] Body.

And, as is also mentioned in the Catechism of the Catholic Church together

with the whole Tradition, there therefore does not exist any corner of

creation or moment in history in which the Spirit does not carry out His

action." "We are permitted to believe," said the Pope, "that there where

you find elements of truth, goodness, true beauty, true wisdom, wherever

people make generous efforts for the construction of a more human society

conformed to God's design, the way to salvation is open."

The Pope announced that in next week's catechesis he would treat of the

action of the Holy Spirit throughout the vast field of human history, a

perspective that will help to understand the deep relationship that unites

the Church to the world.

After the audience, the Pope made special greetings to the various

language groups, as is his custom. "I cordially welcome all the

English-speaking pilgrims and visitors, especially those from Taiwan, Japan

and the United States of America. I gladly invoke the joy and peace of our

Lord Jesus Christ upon you and your families."

Finally, the Holy Father had special words for the youth, the sick, and

newly married couples. "Dear youth, among whom I would like to especially

mention the participants in the meeting promoted by 'Identes Misionaries,'

act in such a way that your vacation is a useful time for all of you to

enrich yourselves from the human, cultural, and spiritual point of view.

Will all my heart, I hope that you, dear sick people, will be able to

confront the inconveniences that the summer always brings with serenity,

and I foresee, new spouses, that the sacramental joy will turn you into

valiant witnesses for the Gospel of Life. My blessing to all."



The Lisbon Declaration Never Mentions "Parents"

LISBON, AUG 11 (ZENIT) - "Despite our strong efforts and intentions, the

significant message for the youth that we have offered until now in the

'Lisbon Declaration' continues to ignore the vital role that parents should

play in their responsibilities toward their children. Thus it must not, and

cannot go unnoticed that the word "parent" does not occur even once in the

entire content of the Lisbon Declaration."

With these words, the Holy See's delegation to the "Conference of

Ministers for Youth," led by Bishop Stanislaw Rylko, Secretary of the

Pontifical Council for the Laity, vigorously denounced the omission of a

fundamental aspect of the life and formation of youth: their parents.

"The Holy See," continues the declaration of the Vatican delegation,

"repeatedly tried to introduce the theme of the rights, duties, and

responsibilities of parents to be able to offer an adequate direction and

orientation to the youth (in a way that respects their own capacities), a

right that is evoked in the most important international documents of this

century. These include the 'Universal Declaration of Human Rights,' the

'Convention on the Rights of the Child,' and as a reflection of these very

documents, the Guides for Action for the International Conference on

Population and Development in Cairo and the Fourth International Conference

on the Woman in Beijing, among others."

This conference of ministers took place in Lisbon from August 8-12. It is

related to the "Third World Youth Forum" that was held last week in Braga,

Portugal, where hundreds of young delegates from around the world met to

discuss the themes most important to youth. Several groups have denounced

the open manipulation of the final documents to promote a liberal vision of

youth issues. (See article ZW980809-5.) However, on this occasion, it is

the Vatican itself that has raised its voice in protest, at the same time

offering its own orientations for a true and balanced vision of the human

being as member of a family.

"While there are references to the preparation of youth to become

qualified workers, there is currently no reference in the Lisbon

Declaration on marriage and the creation of a family." This, according to

the text of the papal delegation, is necessary to "prepare the youth for

their future task of greatest importance: that of being parents."

It is well known how much John Paul II cares for the youth of the world,

and how he constantly appeals to them for maturity and generosity in the

light of their future responsibilities. "Thus," concludes the text, "the

Holy See cannot take lightly this Conference's obligation to offer a final

document that reflects the fact that the majority of youth will marry."



U.N. Invokes Family Planning Rights for Children as Young as 10 Years Old

LISBON, AUG 16 (ZENIT) - During the second week of August, while the rest

of Europe was enjoying summer vacations, the United Nations held a

conference on the subject of youth in the Portuguese capital, Lisbon. The

meeting brought together government ministers in charge of youth affairs

from around the world to participate in the first World Conference of

Ministers responsible for Youth. The Holy See was also present in the

proceedings with a delegation led by Bishop Stanislaw Rylko, Secretary of

the Pontifical Council for the Laity.

The leader of the Vatican representatives addressed the meeting on Monday,

August 10. Bishop Rylko reminded the Ministers of Pope John Paul II's

long-standing interest in youth. He quoted from the Pope's World Peace Day

Message for 1985: "In a very few years the young people of today will hold

responsibility for family life and for the life of nations, for the common

good of all and the world."

Bishop Rylko called upon the Conference to help young people "avoid the

mistakes of the past with the young generation of today, in order not to

disillusion their enthusiasm and generosity, their honesty and sense of

justice." He also pointed out that in today's world we find ourselves in a

time of extraordinary scientific progress, but at the same time society is

increasingly affected by "hatred, war and violence." These problems are a

reflection of a deeper spiritual crisis which has damaged core values, and

even the family itself. The bishop pointed out that many youth are

afflicted both by material and spiritual poverty and fall into the error of

searching for satisfaction in alcohol, drugs and sex.

As we find ourselves on the threshold of a new millennium how can we build

a better world? Bishop Rylko answered this question by quoting from the

Apostolic Letter of John Paul II on the occasion of the International Youth

Year: "A world of justice and peace cannot be created by words alone and it

cannot be imposed by outside forces: it must be desired and must come about

through the contribution of all." This means, commented the bishop, that it

is therefore important to involve young people. Many of them already give

an extremely valid contribution through their voluntary service. And in

many cases their action is based on faith in God.

Young people need moral values

The representative of the Holy See insisted that only by transmitting to

young people a "high moral vision" can we give to them the chance to mature

fully and to contribute to the common good of their communities. An

authentic human society requires the integral formation of its members,

which includes their spiritual development. However, this also means that

those who are responsible for youth transmit to them, by means of their own

example, moral virtues and ideals. As Bishop Rylko pointed out, the

extraordinary numbers of young people who have come to listen to John Paul

II, more than one million in Paris in 1997, is testimony of the thirst for

spiritual and moral values among youth.

The bishop expressed the Holy See's appreciation of the efforts made by

governments to assist young people. At the same time he pointed out that it

is not possible to separate the question of youth and the state of the

family. It is in the family that the new generation is born and within the

family that moral values are handed down. Help is needed, both for today's

families, and so that young people in the future will be able to form their

own families. The future of each nation in a certain sense passes through

the family. He concluded by once more quoting John Paul II: "Do not be

afraid! Do not be afraid of your own youth....The future of peace lies in

your hearts. To construct history, as you can and must, you must free

history from the false paths it is pursuing."

Results of the Conference

The insistence of the Vatican, in this and many other U.N. conferences, on

the importance of the family was rewarded in the final declaration of the

meeting. Included in the preamble was a paragraph which recognizes the

family as "the basic unit of society" and which also confirms the call of

young people to marriage. According to an analysis by the third-party

observer group, "Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute", this

affirmation of the significance of the family was a victory for the Vatican

and other pro-family countries and groups. However the same commentators

observed that earlier in the proceedings the more liberal western nations

had been instrumental in rejecting an attempt by the Holy See to affirm the

fundamental rights of parents. In spite of attempts to the contrary by the

Holy See, the final declaration also affirms the rights of young people to

family planning services, without any control by their parents. According

to World Health Organization spokesman, Paul Bloem, the U.N. agencies

interpret this free access as being applicable to children as young as 10.

As one of the delegates from the Holy See pointed out, this decision by

the Lisbon Conference ignores other fundamental documents of the United

Nations, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, that

specifically affirm parental responsibilities.




Netanyahu Claims that Greek Melkite Catholic Bishop of Galilee is pro-PLO

JERUSALEM, AUG 9 (ZENIT) - A conflict is brewing between Israel and the

Holy See over the nomination of the Greek Melkite Catholic Bishop of Akka

in Galilee. According to the Italian newspaper "La Repubblica," this is a

diplomatic struggle that could open a grave crisis between Jerusalem and

the Vatican State. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the

Holy See's decision to appoint Bishop Boutros Mouallem as Archbishop of

Akka an action "without precedent," claiming that the Bishop is "a person

linked to environments hostile to peace." Mr. Netanyahu stated specifically

that the Archbishop-elect is linked to the PLO. The previous Archbishop of

Akka, Maximos Sallom, has retired due to advanced age.

The Vatican Nunciature in Israel has preferred not to comment on this

matter due to a sensationalist account published in the Israeli newspaper

"Haaretz." According to this article and sources close to the Israeli

government, the Netanyahu administration wants the nomination of a Bishop

of their choosing, Fr. Emile Shufani. In this, the government is going

against the Synod of Bishops of the Greek Melkite Catholics, who selected

Bishop Mouallem, and the Holy Father, who confirmed the nomination.

Friend of the Palestinians

Israel has applied pressure in favor of their candidate, stating that he

is a person "better accepted by the community. Government sources have said

that Bishop Mouallem is a bad choice, because he is seen as a "friend of

the Palestinians."

The Greek Melkite Catholic Synod, in fact, had originally named Fr.

Shufani to the post late last year, but the Holy See did not confirm this

appointment. Israeli sources claim Palestinian pressures brought about the

Pope's refusal to confirm the nomination. The nomination of Bishop Mouallem

was made in a second convocation of the Synod a few months ago.

When questioned by journalists, Mr. Netanyahu briefly stated: "I am

dealing with the Vatican, and I hope that everything will be resolved in an

amicable accord, but when I am in the middle of a negotiation, I don't

usually let out news." On the Vatican Side, according to "Haaretz,"

officials stressed that the nomination of a Bishop is the sole prerogative

of the Church and that the fundamental agreement between Israel and the

Holy See is at stake in the matter. The article also hints that by

following this line, Israel may find itself in an unprecedented crisis in

its relations with the Holy See. Ecclesiastical sources, cited in

"Haaretz," mentioned that since John Paul II's confirmation of this

nomination, the Israeli bureaucracy has carried out a series of "acts of

repudiation" and small slights towards members of Catholic institutions.

These difficulties can be compared to what representatives of the Church

suffer in China or Vietnam.

Israeli sources indicate that the Greek Melkite Catholic population of

Israel, about 50,000 persons, also disapproves of this nomination. The same

sources, close to the Prime Minister, say that Israel only wanted to make a

"courteous persuasion" in favor of Fr. Shufani, and only after the PLO

began to insistently intervene in favor of Bishop Mouallem.

The Vatican Press Office, "in relation to what has been published about

the nomination of the new Greek Melkite Catholic Bishop of Akka in Galilee,

Pierre Mouallem," made the following statement, signed by Vice-director Fr.

Ciro Benedettini: "1) The nomination of the Bishops of the Catholic Church

belongs to the Roman Pontiff in the exercise of his supreme power. 2) In

the designation of Bishop Mouallem, the Synod of the Greek Melkite Catholic

Church proceeded free of all external pressure. 3) The Fundamental Accord

between the Holy See and the State of Israel, Article 3, §§ 1 and 2,

provides for the autonomy of Church and State, each one in its own area."

Netanyahu Gives In

Throughout this crisis, the Vatican held fast to its right to appoint

Bishops without the interference of any temporal power. However, soon,

Israel began to retract their position. "Wait a minute. No one here wants a

face-off. No one has declared war on the Vatican. We just wanted to

convince the Holy See to reconsider the nomination of the head of the

diocese of Galilee. But with instruments of diplomacy. On the contrary, I

don't really believe that we would refuse Mouallem's entry visa," stated

David Bar Ilan, Personal Spokesman for Netanyahu.

Another spokesman, Aviv Bushinsky, went farther. "We know well that it is

not our business to interfere with the nomination of Catholic ministers.

Our intervention was only due to motives of security. Our intelligence

services tell us that Mouallem is linked to the Syrian secret police, has

good relations with southern Lebanon, and above all is esteemed by Ilarion

Capucci and Faruk Kaddumi." Bishop Capucci is, so to speak, enemy number

one for the Israelis, as he used his immunity as a Bishop to smuggle arms

in the 70s to the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Kaddumi is the head of the "old

guard" of the PLO. However, "in the end, it will be the Vatican who

designates its ministers," admitted Bushinsky.

The Vatican says that it has not considered more dramatic measures, such

as withdrawing its Nuncio from Tel Aviv. "That would be an unprecedented

step," said Fr. David Jaeger, member of the Vatican delegation. "By

tradition, ruptures of diplomatic relations have never been put in effect

by action of the Holy See."



Cardinal Glemp Asks Catholics not to Devalue the Meaning of the Christian


WARSAW, AUG 13 (ZENIT) - The Primate of the Church in Poland, Cardinal

Jozef Glemp, yesterday directed an appeal "to all interested parties, not

to place more crosses in Auschwitz." This position on the part of the

Archbishop is an attempt to calm tensions in the matter of the presence of

the Christian symbol in one of the most symbolic locations of the Nazi

Holocaust, which was directed primarily, but not solely, against the Jewish


In 1979, a 26-foot-tall cross was placed on the site to commemorate a Mass

celebrated by Pope John Paul II during his visit to the extermination camp.

Recently, however, another 152 crosses of various sizes have appeared

around the large cross, commemorating the 152 Polish Christian victims

martyred in that place. This initiative, which was carried out by a group

of Catholics led by a former director of the "Solidarity" labor union, has

greatly complicated the already tense relations between the Catholic Church

and Jewish groups, provoking many protests from the Jews.

Cardinal Glemp's invitation, which was directed to the Polish Bishops,

asks that they "put a halt to the expansion of these actions," which he

says "devalue the meaning of the cross."

The declaration of the Polish Primate goes in the same line as that

published by Archbishop Henryk Muszynski, Archbishop of Gniezno, who has

been responsible for relations with the Jews for many years. Archbishop

Muszynski wrote, "You can't treat the cross as an instrument to recall the

deaths. The cross is a symbol of love. It is illicit to use it for the

purpose of a struggle against anyone."

His document concludes, "The solution to the question of the crosses in

Auschwitz is primarily the responsibility of the hierarchy. We will be

holding a meeting on August 26, in Czestochowa, to speak about this and

create a unified response."



Controversy in Anglican World after Decision of the Lambeth Conference

LONDON, AUG 9 (ZENIT) - The Bishops of the Anglican Church, gathered at

Canterbury Cathedral for the Lambeth Conference, surprised many observers

by saying "no" to homosexual relationships. While the last Conference

opened the way to the ordination of women, this Conference seems to be a

return to traditional Anglican values.

Since 1960, the "liberal" wing of this federation of churches has seemed

to have the upper hand in the debates and voting. The teaching on

homosexuality has always been a preferred battleground between the

"innovators" and those who support the traditional teaching of the Bible.

In the past, there had been a notable tendency in favor of the

participation of gay priests in active ministry. On August 7, however, the

opposite decision was made. Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, stated

that he stands "wholeheartedly with the traditional Anglican orthodoxy. I

see no room in Holy Scripture or the entire Christian tradition for any

sexual activity outside matrimony." After all the debating, in a 526 to 70

vote, the Lambeth Conference affirmed that sexual activity of gays and

lesbians was "incompatible with scripture."

The same motion rejected all sort of "witch hunt." It is not necessary to

promote an attitude of homophobia or an "irrational condemnation of

homosexuals" to support the teaching. The church recommended that those who

do not feel heterosexual relations appropriate for them should practice

"abstinence." The Conference chose not to use the term suggested by the

more conservative representatives: "chastity." The decision was made

possible by an alliance between the more traditional European Bishops with

their African and Asian counterparts. Bishop Michael Lugor of Rejaf, Sudan,

summed up these Bishop's viewpoints, saying, "In the Sudan, we know nothing

of homosexuality. We only know the Gospel and we proclaim it."

The decision of the conference also extends to homosexual marriages.

Although some Anglican priests have performed such unions, the Conference

clearly indicates that this is not in line with Anglican morality.

The 70 million faithful of the Church of England are not expected to react

well to the decision. Some U.S., English, and Dutch Bishops did everything

possible to block the motion. The deliberations lasted three days. After

the decision was made, Fredrich Borsh, Archbishop of Los Angeles, refused

to accept the position of the Conference. In an ominous prediction, Bishop

John Spong of Newark said the vote would not stand indefinitely. "Be

assured that today's minority will inevitably be tomorrow's majority," he

indicated in a written statement.

Although the decision is not binding on the 37 conferences of the Anglican

Communion, it carries great moral weight because it stems from the Lambeth

Conference. Sexually active homosexual priests now have not only a grave

crisis of conscience to contend with, but also run the risk of being

removed from religious service by their Bishop. Similarly, priests will

have to think twice before performing marriages of homosexual couples.



Youth Began Helping in Slums in 1968, Now Candidates for Nobel Peace Prize

ROME, AUG 10 (ZENIT) - They started out helping transients and beggars, the

disinherited, immigrants, and the sick. Today in Rome, the name of the

Community of St. Egidio (St. Giles) means a daily hot lunch for 1,500 poor

people. They have followed the Gospel option to confront problems bigger

than they, such as halting the wars in Africa and the Middle East. Thus, in

Algeria, Sudan, Angola, Rwanda, Burundi, and Jerusalem, the Community of

St. Egidio represents a kinder future, the peace that Mozambique is already

experiencing. For this reason, some call them the U.N. of Trastevere (the

Roman neighborhood where they have their headquarters) and suggest that

sooner or later they are bound to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

The U.N. has already called on the "peacemakers" to help in mediation in

difficult situations. Their field of action is the entire world, while at

the same time, beggars feel at home on the plaza before the small Roman

church of St. Egidio, from which the Community takes its name. The

diplomatic world took note of their existence in October 1992, when they

managed to get a historic accord signed between the Frelimo (Mozambique

Liberation Front), which was in power, and the guerillas of Renamo, who had

been fighting them for sixteen years. On that occasion, Boutros Ghali, then

U.N. Secretary General, called the peace "the Roman formula." Speaking of

them, "The Economist" wrote, "They are not diplomats by profession, but

they certainly aren't amateurs."

Samuel Sira, President of the Rabbis of Europe proposed the Community of

St. Egidio as a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize. The Grand Mufti of

Tunisia, Cardinal Leon-Etienne Duval, the Islamic University of Rabat,

Morocco, and Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople have all joined in

the proposal. Even statesmen, such as Russian Michail Gorbachov, South

African Thabo Mbeki (Nelson Mandela's designated successor), and Robert

Mugabe, President of Zimbabwe, have supported this proposal.


The Community of St. Egidio was born at the end of the turbulent sixties,

in the symbolic year of student revolts, 1968. Some high school students

from the upper echelons of Roman society left their elegant streets in the

center and went into the slums to spread the Gospel and help the poor.

Ecclesiastical authorities were distrustful of this small group of

students, who asked them for a site as a religious point of reference.

It was only some years later that Fr. Vincent Paglia, now pastor of St.

Mary of Trastevere, received the mission from Cardinal Ugo Poletti to help

the budding community. In 1973, they took possession of a former Carmelite

convent in the popular Roman neighborhood of Trastevere, even taking the

name of the convent, becoming the Community of St. Egidio. Next to the

convent, there is a small church with the same name, where every evening at

8:30, they celebrate an open community prayer. The religious and liturgical

expression of the group is deepened by their celebration of Sunday Vigil

Mass each Saturday evening. Today, many of the founders of St. Egidio have

important roles in civic and professional life.

In 1986, the Holy See recognized the Community of St. Egidio as a "Lay

Public Association," according to the previsions of Canon Law. Their

charism and particular goals are evangelization, founded on the centrality

of prayer; service to the poor and every class of marginalized people; and

communion and fraternity with other Christian churches and with

non-Christian religions.

On the occasion of their twentieth anniversary, John Paul II described the

Christian lifestyle of the Community of St. Egidio in these words: "The

primacy of charity, font of evangelization, service to the poor, and

dialogue is the heart of your commitment. It is also a heritage of the

Church of Rome that you have revived. To strengthen yourselves in it, you

turn constantly to Christ in prayer."


In a little more than a quarter century, the community has grown and has

spread beyond Italy into many countries of Europe, Africa, and Latin

America. Today, more than 300 communities boast the name of St. Egidio. The

activity of the association is a mature synthesis of prayer and social

action, extending in three principal directions -- social assistance to the

poor, elderly, handicapped, immigrants, and gypsies, with a wide range of

services in Rome, Italy, and the Third World; promotion of peaceful

solutions to regional conflicts by means of negotiation with the various

parties; and finally initiatives for dialogue between believers of

different religions. To support this last area of work, the Community has

formed a subgroup called "International Encounters, Men and Religions,"

which hosts an annual meeting of various religions to continue the message

of friendship and peace between religions announced by Pope John Paul II in

Assisi in 1988.

The Community of St. Egidio currently has 15,000 members, of whom 13,000

are Italians (8,000 in Rome), with large centers in Florence, Genoa, and

Naples. The other members are spread throughout the world, from Belgium to

Indonesia, Russia to Argentina. Fifteen priests have united themselves to

the association.

On the 25th anniversary of the community, Pope John Paul II, in a visit to

their headquarters, told them, "You have chosen no other frontier for

yourselves than the truth."



Interview with the Postulator for the Beatification of Girolamo Savonarola

VATICAN CITY, AUG 11 (ZENIT) - Excommunicated by Pope Alexander VI, hanged

for disobedience and suspicion of heresy, and burned at the stake on May

23, 1498, Girolamo Savonarola is not the typical candidate for sainthood.

Nonetheless, despite his excommunication, execution, and suspected heresy,

many saints and Popes have venerated this man. The great Raphael painted

him in his "Dispute of the Blessed Sacrament" in his famous Vatican

"stanze" [rooms]. British author George Elliot wrote his life story in the

book "Romola." After centuries of investigation, historians have been

unable to find sufficient proofs and testimony for his condemnation.

In this 500th anniversary year of his death, the attempts to rehabilitate

Savonarola with the Church are beginning to take form. In the last issue of

"Tertium Millenium," a publication of the Vatican Committee for the

Preparation of the Jubilee, an article indicated that these plans are now

becoming serious.

The question that remains, of course, is whether Girolamo Savonarola was a

saint or a rebel; a wild fanatic or a man ahead of his times, trying to

reform the Church long before the Protestant Reformation. This enigma has

lasted five centuries and is now entering the limelight.

Who was Girolamo Savonarola?

Savonarola was born in Ferrara, Italy, in 1452. Due to his precocious

intelligence, he went to the university to study liberal arts and medicine.

In 1475 he followed the call to religious life, entering the Dominican

novitiate in Bologna. At the end of his theological studies, he received

the minor order of "lector" and was sent to Florence.

Beginning in 1482, his rigorously argued preaching took on a new form. He

preached the need for a "reform" of the Church and of the immoral customs

of laity and clergy. Between 1490 and 1495, he wrote his first ascetic

works: "On Humility" and "On the Love of Jesus Christ." When the Medici

family fell from power in 1494, Savonarola sought to institute a democratic

government based on the Gospel. Various political factions were against

this move, but eventually a republic was formed with Savonarola as its

guiding spirit.

Savonarola meanwhile began preaching a series of sermons on the Biblical

books of Haggai, the Psalms, and Job. At the end of 1495, he suspended his

activity as a preacher in obedience to a command coming from the Roman

Curia. In 1496, however, he returned to the pulpit in Florence (some say in

defiance of the order), and the texts of his sermons were distributed

throughout Italy. Especially strong were the commentaries on Amos,

Zachariah, Ruth, Mica, and Ezekiel. During this period, opposition to his

preaching began to arise among politicians, clergy, and civil factions.

This eventually culminated with his excommunication in 1497.

After the excommunication, Savonarola returned to writing, publishing "The

Triumph of the Cross," "Against Astrologers," and "On Prophetic Truth." In

1498, the ruling faction turned the people against him. They entered his

convent, captured him, and made him stand trial before a tribunal of the

republic. On May 20, after over a month of torture and hearings, he was

condemned to death. He faced his death with great nobility of spirit.

Echoes of his writings would be heard among the fathers of the

Counter-Reformation many decades later.

But is he a Saint?

To get more information on the figure of Savonarola, ZENIT interviewed Fr.

Innocenzo Venchi, O.P., who is in charge of studying and promoting the

cause his beatification.

Fr. Venchi: Savonarola returns to view because we feel the need for

precision in historical reality. He was the victim of calumny and was

poorly understood. We must illuminate the truth so that the spiritual

figure, the virtuous man, the saint emerges. The questions on which we must

clearly respond are his obedience to the Pope (Savonarola never disobeyed

him), the excommunication and its validity (This is a very controversial

question), and his political influence (which was probably the cause of his

condemnation to death). On the basis of all the proofs and counterproofs

that I have seen, I can affirm that the previous questions can be resolved

in a more than sufficient manner.

ZENIT: In the collective imagination, Savonarola is remembered as a fanatic

preacher against feminine vanity, a severe moralist who burned Botticelli's

paintings simply because nude women appeared in them.

Fr. Venchi: Savonarola was a morally integral person. He was honest and

coherent, and his life corresponded to what he preached. He was severe, but

we must also consider the reality of the times in which he lived. Faced

with rising neopaganism, the decadency of customs in Rome and Florence, it

was enough to ask that people follow the Gospel to be branded as severe

censors. Savonarola, nonetheless, loved Florence -- you can see this in his

preaching; he felt a great tenderness for that city. If you can make the

comparison, Savonarola wept over Florence just as Christ wept over

Jerusalem. He was rigorous, but at the same time balanced, not fanatic.

This is evident in a few of the questions in which he took action. He

intervened before the Republic of Lucca to find a reasonable solution on

behalf of the Jews. As for women, Savonarola held them in great

consideration. In a period when prostitution reigned and women had no

self-esteem, he proposed to allow them to participate in the guidance of

civil life in the city. He even wrote a book on the life of widows. He

showed maternal tenderness for children.

ZENIT: And how do you explain the "House of Vanities" that he organized?

Fr. Venchi: A great deal of uproar has been caused and many falsehoods

written about the "House of Vanities" where they burned jewelry and

paintings disrespectful of morality, but this had already been put into

practice by St. Bernardine of Siena and Blessed Bernardine of Feltre. They

were not Savonarola's invention. They say that he didn't like painting

because he had Botticelli's paintings with nude women burned, but very few

know that Bartholomeo della Porta, Raphael's master, was a disciple and

follower of Savonarola. After meeting Savonarola, Br. Bartolomeo began to

paint religious themes. It is well known that Michaelangelo admired

Savonarola, and it appears that Raphael did as well, since the great

painter put him in the "Dispute of the Blessed Sacrament." Another follower

of Savonarola was the painter Paolino Detti, better known as Paolino del

Signoraccio. So, he had many artists among his followers.

ZENIT: It seems clear that an injustice was committed against Savonarola,

but was he really a saint?

Fr. Venchi: The cause was born from the fact that despite the calumnies and

condemnations, the cult and veneration of Savonarola has continued across

the centuries into our time. Among his admirers we find dozens of saints,

such as St. Philip Neri, St. Catherine of Ricci, St. John Fisher, St. Pius

V, and St. Pius X. Even in modern times, we find great admirers of

Savonarola, such as Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, Blessed Don Orione, and

the Servant of God Giorgio La Pira. In addition, as the investigation has

progressed, the more we came to know his writings and historical successes,

the more we esteemed Savonarola, even if he will always be a sign of

contradiction due to his strongly held positions.

ZENIT: Can someone who criticized the life of the clergy so be beatified?

Fr. Venchi: Important historical studies prove that not only was Savonarola

not disobedient, he was neither excommunicated nor insane. Some hold that

if Savonarola had been listened to, perhaps there would not have been a

Reformation. While at that time no one would raise his voice against the

reigning corruption, Savonarola made himself heard, preached against the

bad customs, denounced the dissolution of his times, had the courage to

speak to the end, was coherent, never gave up, never bent even before the

threat of death, and paid with his own life.

ZENIT: Then for you, Savonarola is a saint, with all that that would imply?

Fr. Venchi: The sanctity of Savonarola is shown in the moment of his

condemnation, when as a prisoner, he was tortured, humiliated, and made fun

of for forty-five days, and then killed and burned. In that difficult

moment, he had the strength to write a commentary on the "Miserere" [Psalm

51], which is one of the most beautiful in the history of the Church. This

is the comportment of a saint. In a certain sense, he walked the Passion of

Jesus Christ again: he was betrayed, imprisoned, tried, abandoned by all,

and stripped of his habit. He suffered all these humiliations without

bitterness toward anyone, and never disobeyed the Pope."



The Dominicans in Dialogue with New Religious Movements at the Close of

General Chapter

CASTELGANDOLFO, AUG 12 (ZENIT) - The objective of the Dominican General

Chapter in Bologna was to provide a general revision of the orientation of

their apostolic ministry. There, in the city that is home to the remains of

their saintly founder, the Dominicans just closed their triennial meeting.

(See ZW980802)

John Paul II, in a message signed by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican

Secretary of State, promised that he "remembered them in prayer so that the

meeting of the Provincial Priors of the whole order would stimulate a more

generous adhesion to Christ and fidelity to the Church in the current

circumstances of the third millenium." The Pope hoped that "this Chapter

would mark an ever more renewed spiritual vitality in service to the New

Evangelization, following the admirable example left as a heritage by your

venerable founder, St. Dominic."

The Secretary General of the Chapter, Br. Bernardino Prella, O.P.,

commented on "Radio Vatican" that "the Chapter concentrated primarily on

themes related to our responsibility as preachers in a changing world, in

which the possibilities of communication between cultures and people are

more and more intense. We dealt primarily with the mission of the Order: to

put ourselves in an attitude of preaching, following the truth of Christ,

who comes to free every man."

"Having heard the word of God, we can and must listen to cultures for a

confrontation that does not become a posture of tending to 'demonize' the

rest," continued Br. Bernardino. "We know that the Holy Spirit inspires a

process in humanity, not only within the Catholic Church, but within the

whole of mankind. St. Dominic always took a posture of putting himself in

the shoes of the people, of understanding their problems, of trying to

construct more adequate responses from within. This then is also our

attitude toward the new religious movements. Before taking a critical

posture, we want to put ourselves on road to listen to them, to get closer

to them. We want to begin listening to their needs and to offer attempts at

responses that appear best to us in the light of Christian revelation."

The Chapter also confronted the theme of the Dominican family as a whole.

The delegates wanted to make the various components -- fathers, sisters,

brothers, and lay people -- all participate in St. Dominic's charism of

preaching, which is not for the exclusive use of the priests, and should in

fact involve all those who profess the same spirit. This Chapter will

therefore mean a great deal to the Dominican family in the execution of

their apostolic projects. Now they must find new ways of thinking and new

apostolic structures, following the course set for them in the Chapter.



New Norms Demanded by the "Official" Church are Obstacles to "Foreign"


MOSCOW, AUG 13 (ZENIT) - Once again, the so-called "foreign" churches in

the Russian Republic are reporting problems. A governmental decree,

published on August 6, establishes that the representatives of these

communities, as defined by the recent Russian Religious Law, will not be

permitted to remain in Russian territory more than three months. After this

time expires, they must leave Russia and apply for a new entry visa.

The Russian Religious Law, which was passed by the Russian Parliament, or

Duma, last year, and which went into effect a few months ago, divides

religions into three groups for the purposes of rights under the law: the

Orthodox Church, "traditionally Russian" churches, and "foreign" churches.

Although the Orthodox Church is not considered the State religion, it has

many privileges due to its status in this Law. The "traditionally Russian"

churches are those that have a long history of presence in Russia and have

influenced the culture. These include Judaism, Islam, and Buddhism (which

is present among a few ethnic groups, such as the Mongols). The third

group, the "foreign" religions, lacks this history. Catholics, Protestants,

and various sects, such as the Jehovah's Witnesses, find themselves in this

category, which includes strict rules for registration and limitations on

activities. It should be noted, however, that to date, the Religious Law

has been applied somewhat laxly, with many of the rules on registration of

"foreign" religions not being put into practice. Catholics and certain

Protestant groups have been working to prove that they had been present in

Russia before the Bolshevik revolution favored the Orthodox Church.

It remains unclear what will happen next. It seems that the new ruling will

not be applied to representatives of "foreign" religions who are duly

accredited in Russia, such as the Apostolic Administrators, but rather

those who enter for a fixed period, such as missionaries. The measure seems

primarily aimed at the sects, none of which is accredited but, by the

letter of the law, could be applied to Catholics and Protestants as well.

Both the Religious Law and this new decree were adopted under the pressure

of Orthodox officials. The Orthodox Church was greatly weakened by the 80

years of Communist rule and is having difficulty regaining its position. It

seems to fear the interference of other confessions more expert in

proselytism. The Patriarch of Moscow, Alexei II, has made insistent appeals

that Russia must be declared a "Canonical Territory" of the Orthodox

Church, giving it a sort of "sovereignty" to exclude missionary activities

by other religions.

The new decree was not without its critics in the Duma. Mikhail Osadchev,

member of the Duma Commission for Public and Religious Organizations,

declared that this measure is "a new initiative against religious rights

and liberties and a new act of hostility toward foreign religious

organizations." Only time will tell how the Church will finally be affected

by this measure.



Mary Ann Glendon, Vatican Representative at Beijing Conference, Explains

its Significance

ROME, AUG 14 (ZENIT) - On August 15, 1988, Pope John Paul II published his

Apostolic Letter "Mulieris Dignitatem" [The Dignity of Woman]. According to

Mary Ann Glendon, President of the Vatican Delegation at the last U.N.

World Conference on Woman in Beijing, this document "lays the foundation

for the feminism of the future."

Dr. Glendon is a professor of Law at Harvard University and a member of

the Pontifical Council for the Laity. She says that this papal document was

not well understood or widely read at the time of its publication. In an

interview in the Italian Catholic newspaper "Avvenire," she particularly

points to paragraph 14, which defines "as sin any sort of discrimination

directed at women, and so immediately clears the uneven playing field.

Thus, he invites all people to accept a vision of equality that goes beyond

the formal and legal aspects to really touch on relationships in their

profundity, and asks that this equality be guaranteed also to women who

care of their children as mothers."

On this tenth anniversary of the document, Dr. Glendon provides some tips

on how to put the Holy Father's invitation to full equality between men and

woman into practice. "We must understand the relationship as a partnership

(between equals) and call men and women, both lay and religious, to

collaborate more intensely. The Church has two practical problems to

resolve in this area. On the one hand, it must find a way to replace the

enormous amount of unpaid volunteer work done by women in the past, and on

the other hand, must learn to adapt to the new needs of lay people. Today,

women are much more active in the world of work, as are also most men. The

Church should individualize the ways of getting them involved, remembering

that the time they have at their disposal has changed and been reduced. It

would be a true sin to lose this opportunity in an era in which there are

such enormous and stimulating possibilities for lay people."

Faced with the question of whether the Apostolic Letter still applies to

the new situations of today's society, Dr. Glendon responds, "Today,

society is better prepared to accept its message. The formal feminism of

the 70s has lost its influence, and perhaps, the groundwork is being

readied for a new feminism that recognizes the dignity of woman as such,

but also as a mother and wife."



People, Events, and Comments


ROME, AUG 9 (ZENIT) - John Paul II has granted the title of "University" to

the Pontifical Athenaeum of the Holy Cross, run by the Personal Prelature

Opus Dei. It thus becomes the sixth Pontifical University of the city of

Rome. In principle, the difference between an Athenaeum and a University is

simply the number of academic departments -- a University must have at

least three, in this case four: Theology, Canon Law, Philosophy, and

Institutional Social Communication. Last year, the Athenaeum had 1,326

students of 65 nationalities. The Rector of the new University, Msgr. Luis

Clavell, stated, "In this moment, my thoughts are of gratitude to the Pope

and to the Holy See. Gratitude because this title constitutes and act of

faith: people from all around the world study at the Roman Athenaeums,

coming to Rome with the desire to attain a scientific and cultural

preparation that will permit them to serve the Church and society in the

best way possible. In this context, the universities play a very

significant role."


VATICAN CITY, AUG 10 (ZENIT) - The Information Revolution has conquered the

Vatican. Beginning on August 15, it will no longer be necessary to be in

St. Peter's Square to see and hear the Pope. All public activities of the

Pope will now be transmitted via Internet through the official website of

the Holy See: The Vatican website has been active for over

a year now, providing news and information in six languages with the number

of daily visitors in the millions. Recently, the original three servers,

called "Michael," "Gabriel," and "Raphael," (named after the three

archangels) were upgraded, so that access time is very much improved.

According to the press release, this new development is the "fruit of the

intense work in the last months by the Internet Office of the Holy See in

collaboration with the Vatican Television Center and Vatican Radio." The

transmissions will be made by use of streaming technology of the RealAudio

and RealVideo format.


KIGALI, AUG 12 (ZENIT) - The attacks against missionaries to Rwanda have

not let up. Last Saturday afternoon, a "White Father" missionary, Richard

Dessurault of Canada, and four collaborators were taken hostage in Runaba.

No group has claimed responsibility for the action. The act was discovered

the next morning by the new Bishop of Ruhengeri, Kizito Ahujimihigo, who

was making his first pastoral visit to the parish. According to the "Misna"

Agency, the kidnapping could have occurred at any time between July 20 and

August 8. This new kidnapping occurs only weeks after two other members of

the Missionaries of Africa were released by the rebel forces who had held



ROME, AUG 14 (ZENIT) - Twenty youth from around the world have accepted the

nomination of their diocese or ecclesial movements to take part in the

first "Emmanuel School of Mission" which will open in Rome this October.

The school runs under the auspices of the Pontifical Council for the Laity

with the purpose of giving a Christian formation to young pilgrims for the

Great Jubilee. The Community of Emmanuel, a Charismatic movement begun in

France, will administer the school. The youth in this program will then

coordinate the activities of the St. Laurence Center near the Vatican.

Msgr. Renato Boccardo, head of the Youth Section of the Council, says that

the Schools specific mission is "to receive young pilgrims, to provide them

with a place of prayer and meeting, helping their contact with the

Christian community of Rome and with the Vatican."

The school hopes to help youth respond to the appeal made by the Holy

Father at the beginning of his Pontificate: "Dear youth, the Church needs

you. It needs your commitment to the service of the Gospel."



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