Return to August 19, 1998 Justpeace Front Page ... Continue to Home Index

ZENIT, August 9, 1998





John Paul II Recalls Important Moments of His Predecessor's Pontificate


John Paul II and Cardinal Martini, on the Twentieth Anniversary of his Death


Questionnaire Distributed to Bishops to Prepare "Instrumentum Laboris" for



Cardinal Prefect in Charge of Seminaries Responds to Objections



U.N. Officials Use Pressure and Intimidation to Steer Results


Archbishop Cordes Asks Bishops not to Exclude the New Ecclesial Communities


Fears That Its Practices Could Hurt U.S. Relations


Deep Faith of the People Is A Sign of Hope for the Church


Archbishop of Khartoum Denounces International Indifference to State of



U.N. Will Send Delegate to Analyze Religious Intolerance


The Value of Life is Rooted in the Heart of Every Human Being


Biblical Experts Explain Meaning of New Findings


To be Released with the Song "A Man Come from Afar" by Amedeo Minghi


People, Events, and Comments

Trafficking of Organs From Albanian Children, L'Osservatore Romano on

CD-ROM, German Bishops Say No to Antennas on Church Towers, Bernini's

Colonnade to be Restored for Jubilee.



John Paul II Recalls Important Moments of His Predecessor's Pontificate

CASTELGANDOLFO, AUG 2 (ZENIT) - Appearing well rested and sporting a slight

tan after his Alpine vacations, the Pope turned his thoughts during the

Sunday "Angelus" message at Castelgandolfo to his predecessor, Paul VI, who

died on August 6, 1978. Throughout this anniversary year, many publications

have printed tributes to the former Holy Father, who concluded the Second

Vatican Council and was known for his ability to dialogue. It was precisely

this ability that John Paul II chose to focus on in his comments.

The Holy Father announced that he would make a pilgrimage next September 20

to Brescia, the city where Giovanni Battista Montini, the future Paul VI

was born. John Paul II continued his comments by referring to another

August 6 in the life of Paul VI, when he wrote "Ecclesiam Suam" in 1964.

This was the first encyclical of Pope Paul VI and, according to John Paul

II, "offers a programmatic document for his Pontificate" as well as "a

synthesis of his whole personality as shepherd and master, of his posture

before men and before history." "Reading 'Ecclesiam Suam,' " added the

Pope, "you note how it is an act of love for the Church.

The section of the encyclical entitled "Dialogue" "illustrates the posture

that the Church should assume in this moment of history," commented the

Holy Father. The majority of the document concerns the dialogue that must

guide "the relations of the Church with modern society," he added.

"Therefore, 'Ecclesiam Suam' has been aptly called the encyclical of

dialogue and is a text that remains totally relevant today."

John Paul II indicated that on the threshold of the third millenium, he

wanted to "seize upon the prophetic value of the Conciliar guidelines,

noting in particular one November 21 in the fifth Conciliar session, when

Paul VI proclaimed Mary the Mother of the Church, "a key for the exact

comprehension of the mystery of Christ and the Church." "Remembering these

moments of great spiritual fervor that God has allowed me to live, I want

to renovate the faith of the entire ecclesial community in Mary, Mother of

the Church," concluded the Holy Father.

After the blessing, the Pope greeted groups of pilgrims in various

languages while banners waved and choirs sang. Improvising, the Holy Father

made a special mention of a group from the Italian town of St. George with

a banner reading "elderly", and commented jokingly: "although they say they

are elderly, they look very young to me."

He then addressed the many Romans who, like the Holy Father, have left the

heat of the city to go on vacation. He asked them "not to forget those, and

they are not few, who unfortunately don't have the possibility to go on

vacation." He wished them "a period of serenity and physical and spiritual


Finally, he mentioned the religious who were killed during the past week,

adding to the list the news of a nun who was killed in Rwanda last Friday.

"Let us pray for our sister, always trusting that the Lord will grant the

gift of peace to Africa and to the entire world." The other religious who

were mentioned by the Pope died in Yemen, South Africa, and Congo-Brazaville.



John Paul II and Cardinal Martini, on the Twentieth Anniversary of his Death

CASTELGANDOLFO, AUG 6 (ZENIT) - On Sunday, August 6, 1978, the Feast of the

Transfiguration of Our Lord, Pope Paul VI died in his summer residence in

Castelgandolfo. Today, Pope John Paul II celebrated Mass for his

predecessor, stating that "the memory of Paul VI is still alive throughout

the Church. After 20 years, the memory of his pontificate has not faded

with time, but rather with the passing of years, his figure becomes more

luminous and current, and his prophetic apostolic intuitions become more

surprising. Thus, this year, the celebration of the 100th year of the birth

of this Pontiff, wise and faithful guide of the Christian people during

Vatican Council II and the difficult Post-Conciliar period, has made us

find the attraction of his person more familiar and the testimony of his

love for Christ and the Church more incisive."

"He died on the day in which the liturgy commemorates the extraordinary

event of the Transfiguration of the Lord." After noting this, the Holy

Father quoted one of Paul VI's homilies on this Gospel passage: "We have to

rediscover the transfigured face of Christ to learn that He is still,

especially for us, our Light -- that Light that illuminates every soul --

that seeks and accepts Him, that makes every human scene, every fatigue,

resplendent; it gives color and sense, merit and destiny, hope and joy."

"As we begin the celebration of the Eucharist," added the Pope, "in which

we will raise up our prayers for this unforgettable Pontiff, his words

exhort us to pray to the Lord that He grant living and heroic fidelity to

the Gospel to the Church and to all the faithful, as has always

characterized the Successor of Peter."

Paul VI's Successor in Milan

Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, Archbishop of Milan, also took the occasion

of this anniversary to speak about his illustrious predecessor. Giovanni

Battista Montini, (later Pope Paul VI) who served as Archbishop of that

Northern Italian city before being elected Pope.

Speaking to "Vatican Radio," Cardinal Martini said, "My last memory goes

back to the year of his death. In that year, I had the gift, the privilege

to preach spiritual exercises to him. This was in February of 1978. I

remember well that they had moved him to the chapel, because he was already

quite ill, but always very attentive in the meditations and recollected in

his prayer. That was the last time I saw him before his death."

"The first great sign of his Pontificate," explained the Archbishop of

Milan, "was Vatican Council II, which he had the courage to carry forward,

having received it from John XXIII. He brought it to its conclusion,

applied it, and lived it. After Vatican II, everything that was born, such

as the liturgical reform and the institutionalization of the universal

Synods in response to problems in participation of the Church, are his

accomplishments. I think that his spiritual legacy is truly extraordinary

for the Church. Today we are studying and understanding, little by little,

how great his heritage has been."

"Among the documents of Paul VI," added the Cardinal, "perhaps the most

beautiful to today's eye is 'Evangelii Nuntiandi,' which is still capable

of inspiring. It is an especially strong letter, with attractive language.

I see that today this letter is seen as a small masterpiece. And then Paul

VI is the 'Pope of Dialogue,' the name with which he is more widely known.

Since his first great encyclical, 'Ecclesiam Suam,' in which he spoke of

dialogue within the Church, ecumenical dialogue, interreligious dialogue,

and dialogue with the world, this was his program. Today, in retrospect,

you could say that he did it, that he carried this program forward with

great decision and energy."



Questionnaire Distributed to Bishops to Prepare "Instrumentum Laboris" for


VATICAN CITY, AUG 4 (ZENIT) - No public opinion firm could ever have been

so thorough. Every corner of the globe has received the survey. The Holy

See just sent out the questionnaires to all of the dioceses of the world to

prepare the "Instrumentum Laboris," or working document, of the Jubilee

plenary session of the Synod of Bishops. The theme of the Synod will be the

identity and mission of Bishops.

After a long period of study, the Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops has

published the "Lineamenta," a preliminary document discussing possible

themes for the Synod entitled "The Bishop, Evangelist of Jesus Christ for

the Hope of the World." Accompanying the document, the Vatican is sending a

list of twenty-three questions to help better formulate the themes and

problems to be discussed in the Synod, to be held in Rome in the year 2000.

The questions are direct and realistic. For instance, number 2 reads,

"What predominant image of the Bishops' mission do the faithful have? Does

the faithful's image of the Bishops' mission coincide with the Bishops' own

image of their mission?" The third goes right to the point: "How do the

faithful react to the Bishops' teaching on questions of faith and morals?

Do they make distinctions between the teachings of the Bishops and of the


Bishops and Theologians

The questionnaire makes it clear that the Synod will also deal with

relations between pastoral government and theological teaching. For

instance, it asks, "How are the relations between Bishops and theologians?

Mutual esteem? Collaboration? Disagreement? In what areas?" The fifth

touches on the challenge of evangelization of culture.

The next section touches upon the relations between the Bishops and other

members of the Church -- priests, religious, laity, other Bishops, the

Pope, and the Holy See. One such question reads, "How do Bishops express

their communion with the Roman Pontiff? Do Bishops feel the Holy See

supports them? How do Bishops adhere to the ministry of the Successor of

Peter, helping him in support of the faith, the discipline of the Church,

and the new evangelization?"

The questionnaire goes on to analyze the Bishop's identity as "minister of

the Gospel for all," asking specifically if they use the media to make the

good news present to modern society. Among the aspects of the episcopal

mission addressed, the form asks for a response on the missionary spirit of

the Bishops, their commitment to dialogue --ecumenical, interreligious, and

with civil society, and their promotion of human rights and dignity. The

final question in this section is quite direct, asking, "Do Bishops put the

announcement of Christ's person at the center of all his ministry?"

"Conversion" of the Bishops

Some of the questions stand out for their frankness. "What suggestions can

you give to help Bishops grow on their spiritual journey? At the beginning

of their appointment? With the passing of years?" The "poll" also asks for

concrete proposals of saintly Bishops who can be held up as an example to

nourish their spirituality.

Finally, the Secretary, Cardinal Jan Schotte, asks that the Bishops

propose other important points to be discussed in this Tenth Ordinary

Assembly of the Synod of Bishops.




Cardinal Prefect in Charge of Seminaries Responds to Objections

LEGGIUNO, AUG 1 (ZENIT) - "Rome has 'something' that no other city in the

world has. It is the Eternal Rome, the Rome of the centuries, the Rome of

the catacombs and the Basilicas, the Rome of the martyrs, the Rome of Peter

and Paul, the Rome of the Confessors, the Rome of the Pope." With these

words, Cardinal Pio Laghi, Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic

Education listed a few of the reasons that the formation of candidates for

the priesthood takes on a special nuance when it occurs in Rome.

During the "8th International Course for Seminary Formators," organized by

the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum in the city of Leggiuno, Italy,

the Cardinal responded frankly to various objections that Bishops sometimes

raise against sending seminarians to study in the Eternal City.

Speaking to 64 rectors and formators from 27 nations, the head of seminary

formation for the Universal Church shared his personal experience as a

seminarian as well as commenting on that of Pope John Paul II as he

responded, one by one, to alleged "disadvantages" of studying in Rome.

Uprooting from their own diocese

Some Bishops maintain that sending seminarians to Rome uproots the young

men from their diocese. They contend that this is both pastorally, because

they never get to know the pastoral environment of the diocese, as well as

effectively, since after studying in Rome, they don't want to return to

their own country. To this argument, Cardinal Laghi responded, "Did the

young Pole uproot himself by studying in Rome and staying in the Belgian

College? He even took advantage of the opportunity to visit other

countries: Belgium, Holland, France, Germany, and other cities in Italy,

which helped him enormously in developing his spiritual, pastoral, and

cultural personality." Citing the book written by the Pope about the

history of his own priestly vocation, he added, "Thanks to Rome, my young

priesthood was enriched with a European and universal dimension. I returned

from Rome to Krakow with that sense of the 'universality of the priestly

mission' " (Gift and Mystery).

Distrust of Rome

While the previous objection and others that were put forward were the

"same old" complaints, Cardinal Laghi mentioned that beginning in the 1950s

some "reserves of a distinct nature" began to arise, especially in the

post-Council period. As an example, he cited concerns over the doctrine

taught in some Roman universities and the formation imparted in the

international colleges there.

Today's Bishops, he noted, "are cautious that these young men be housed in

colleges where they observe a serious formative discipline and that they

follow the directives given by the Vatican-approved Rule for Seminaries.

Thank God, there are many of these colleges in Rome."

He then cited an age-old Latin proverb that had become popular in certain

ecclesiastical circles: "Roma veduta, fede perduta [Rome seen, faith

lost]." But he dismissed this view as "clearly a sophism, since only those

who really want to lose their faith in Rome actually do, but those who

contemplate Rome with pure eyes find, on the contrary, motives that inspire

them to holiness."

Priests or Seminarians?

According to available statistics, there are currently 5,000 priests and

seminarians studying in the various pontifical universities and athenaeums

of Rome. However, among these, only 1,000 are seminarians. "In my time, it

was the other way around," admitted the Cardinal, "the number of priests

was small and practically everyone studying for a master's degree in

philosophy or theology was a seminarian."

"The institutions of ecclesial formation 'in urbe' [in the City] have a

unique character. The nearness of the students to the See of Peter, to the

Pope in person, helps them foster a more living and deeper sense of the

Church. At the colleges and athenaeums themselves, there is an

international community, which gives the students direct contact with the

reality of various local churches, contact with other cultures, knowledge

of other problems. It is impossible to live in Rome and keep narrow

horizons or a small heart!"

Come to Rome!

In his closing remarks, Cardinal Laghi made a direct appeal to the rectors

and formators present for the course to consider the possibility of sending

their seminarians to experience Rome. "In conclusion, Rome must continue to

be a very desirable place to form good and great priests for today. Today,

perhaps more than yesterday, the environment is more conducive to creating,

both in those preparing for the priesthood and those who are already

priests, a genuinely ecclesial, open, Catholic, and universal mentality."



U.N. Officials Use Pressure and Intimidation to Steer Results

BRAGA, AUG 7 (ZENIT) - . "You basically have a liberal European minority

attitude, and you're imposing it." That concise and very frank comment of

Altaf Husain of the World Assembly of Muslim Youth, summed up in a few

words the disappointment and frustration that numerous delegations to the

"Third World Youth Forum" have felt during the five days of meetings and

deliberation held this past week from August 2-7 in Braga, Portugal.

A report issued today by the "Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute"

(CAFHRI) denounces "an intensive effort by U.N. agencies to direct the

outcome of debate toward a pro-feminist result." According to CAFHRI

reporters present at the Forum, "U.N. personnel seem particularly

determined to ensure that references to 'reproductive rights' for youth and

to 'sexual and reproductive health' are included in the official "Braga

Youth Action Plan."

"Once debates began," the report continues, "the U.N. domination of the

supposedly 'democratic' and 'youth-driven' process became even more

blatant. NGO 'Family Voice' delegate Ryan Nelson was twice elected

democratically to the Youth Forum's official drafting committee, only to be

dismissed by organizers. The second time, he was told he was dumped because

the drafting committee had 'too many white males.' But when he sat in on

the committee's first meeting on Tuesday, he discovered there was not a

single white male on it," the report affirms.

Another source of unrest among the youth delegates has been the active

participation (which some have labeled as "manipulation") of numerous

non-delegates in public debates and even some working groups, supposedly

reserved only for delegate members. Officials from several U.N. Agencies

have turned out in large numbers to help "guide the discussion" of the

impressionable youth and serve as "advisors" on such delicate topics as

"reproductive health", "population concerns" and the drafting of the "Youth

Action Plan", the final document of the Forum.

In this regard, the press release refers to several instances of overdue

influence both in procedural matters as well as in drafting the content of


On one occasion, CAFHRI reporters contend, "World Health Organization

official Paul Bloem overrode a pro-family resolution reached by delegates

attending a 'working group' on health issues. After the youths voted for

the resolution, Bloem requested a new vote in which he would participate.

With his opposition to the family-affirming resolution on record, the

impressionable youth representatives rejected it in favor of one calling

for 'creative drama presentations' to highlight health issues."

Others delegates have sustained that U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA)

officials, who had no less than 29 representatives registered in Braga,

have been even more intrusive.

"During debate over the content of the Preamble to the Youth Action Plan,"

the CAHFRI report explains, "an adult woman demanded that a reference to

'reproductive rights' be included. A Danish youth delegate immediately

objected that the 'reproductive rights' reference did not belong there, and

that there had not been adequate time allowed for debate. The group's


ignored those complaints and promised to include the 'reproductive rights'

reference. Later, the woman who had proposed the reference admitted that

she was a UNFPA official, not a youth delegate. However, she insisted that

she and other U.N. officials were not directing the debate, but merely

offering 'clarifications' about selected issues."

"Many youth delegates are unconvinced," the report concludes. "Several

have complained publicly that proceedings are being manipulated toward a

predetermined result, particularly on life and family issues."



Archbishop Cordes Asks Bishops not to Exclude the New Ecclesial Communities

VATICAN CITY, AUG 4 (ZENIT) - "On June 9, 1979, John Paul II first spoke of

the 'new evangelization.' He created this expression in Nowa Huta, an

industrial neighborhood in Krakow, which became famous during the Church's

battle against communism. The government had conceived Nowa Huta as a model

atheist city, a "city without God," without religious symbols, and without

a church. However, almost immediately, the workers got together to raise a

cross in this neighborhood. Later, after various confrontations with the

police, a church went up; a church, which -- as the Pope said on his first

visit as Pontiff -- was owed to the sweat and opposition of the workers,

the living members of the people of God." In his words on the new

evangelization, Archbishop Josef Cordes, President of the Pontifical

Council "Cor Unum," spoke with particular enthusiasm. He is convinced that

this task, upon which depends the future of Christianity, will not be

carried out by priests alone, or even primarily. The laity will bear the

brunt of the weight of the project.

For this reason, he has written a new book, "Signs of Hope: Movements and

New Realities in the Life of the Church on the Eve of the Jubilee." In the

first part of the book, the Archbishop interviews various founders of

ecclesial movements, including Chiara Lubich, founder of the Focolare

movement; Kiko Argüello of the Neocatechumenal Way; Luigi Giussani of

Communion and Liberation; Martine Catta of the Emmanuel Community; and

Ralph Martin, founder of the U.S. Charismatic Renewal. The second part of

the book is dedicated to personal reflections on these "movements of

faith," which count 60 million Catholics as members.

Key Concept

Archbishop Cordes, who served many years as Vice-President of the

Pontifical Council for the Laity, says that the "new evangelization" has

become a key concept in the doctrine and message of the current Pope, just

as for John XXIII it was "aggiornamento" [modernization] and for Paul VI

"civilization of love." "Evangelization," he says, "indicates the

commitment on which the future of the Church depends." To explain his

thought, the German Archbishop looks to his personal experience. "When I

receive visits in Rome from parish communities of my diocese of origin, I

frequently ask, 'How many new Christians have entered the Church in the

past year?' This is in no way an incongruous question. In Germany, there

are about 15 million who are not baptized. But I easily read in the faces

of my fellow countrymen that not only have none entered the Church, but

also the ranks of the alienated have even grown. In any case, I have the

impression that my visitors see my curiosity as a provocation: a question

like this is seen as 'uncultured.' "

New Evangelization, New Missionaries

It is clear that this new evangelization requires new missionaries: a new

style to speak to modern man. Archbishop Cordes is sure that he has found

them in the ecclesial movements. This is the reason that Pope John Paul II

met with them this Pentecost in the largest gathering ever in modern Rome.

He explains further, "It seems that God has already thought about these

needs in his Church some years ago since, from the middle of this century,

He has brought men and women to awaken a new enthusiasm for evangelization

in the Church. He did it giving them the grace to speak in a fascinated and

fascinating way about Jesus Christ, to give life to spirits in the

following of Christ, to meet Jesus of Nazareth -- just as the Church

proclaims Him -- the fulcrum of existence and the source of a fullness of

life. These men and women are not building new barriers between consecrated

souls and lay people, between mission in the Church and mission in the

world. Although this is not a movement to cancel the diversity of

ministries and responsibilities, they try to awake zeal for Christ -- just

as the Pope did at Nowa Huta -- in all states of life, for our beloved

Brother and our Savior, from whom can come only salvation and joy."

They are not "Better"

The strength of these movements and communities is impressive. "Even

though the churches are emptying in certain European countries," explains

Archbishop Cordes, "these groups are growing. While society is becoming

hardened in self-seeking and its own interests, they nourish themselves on

the simplicity of heart, on the joy that comes from the Holy Spirit;

despite the aggressiveness of secularization, which also tries to induce in

them the idolatry of 'me,' they continue seeing Christ as the guiding star

of their activity. It's not that they are 'more perfect' Christians! They

are sinners like us all. But they should be envied because God has prepared

them better for the decisive challenge to the Church today: the new


The Diocese and Parishes Can't be "Totalitarian"

Already in the Congress before the Pope's encounter with the movements at

Pentecost, Cardinal Ratzinger spoke on the tensions between the movements

and some Bishops. It is normal that the birth of a new reality could create

confusion among Christians in an already established Christian community.

Archbishop Cordes supports Cardinal Ratzinger's thesis: "Parishes and

dioceses should permit individual programs; they don't have to be

understood as 'totalitarians,' that is, as 'omniresponsible.' "

Furthermore, "careful attention to the charisma implies that the pastoral

methods already applied successfully must not be cut off, for there is a

grave need of them, even if they diverge from familiar ecclesial customs or

become 'obstacles' for someone who wants a trouble-free administration,"

explained the Archbishop.

Archbishop Cordes concluded: "Pastors make opportune decisions for

ecclesial groups only when they allow themselves to be guided by a view of

faith, by an authentic pastoral charity toward those interested, and by a

detailed knowledge of the situation. In relation to the groups already

integrated and approved by the Church, those responsible must frequently

act as mediators to help the new foundations. They should also try to leave

space for those who 'disturb' ecclesial tranquility, following the model of

the father in the parable of the Prodigal Son: he left his house to build a

bridge of reconciliation between the older and younger sons."



Fears That Its Practices Could Hurt U.S. Relations

BEIJING, AUG 3 (ZENIT) - In July, Chinese government functionaries received

an order not to use coercive means to keep the birth rate down. This was

published in "China Daily," which reported that the government intends to

increase its vigilance over those who handle this delicate task.

On the eve of Mr. Clinton's recent visit to China, the U.S. Congress heard

testimonies from many Chinese about the flagrant violation of human rights

in that country. One former public official who had worked in the Family

Planning Office stated that women are regularly tortured, forced to abort,

or even jailed for a few months for illegal pregnancies. One Chinese woman

testified that she was carried to the hospital in handcuffs and forced to

take a pill to induce abortion.

Birth Control Policies

The "One Child per Family" campaign has been in effect in China since the

70s. During his recent visit, U.S. President Bill Clinton mentioned that

Americans are concerned about the way birth control is applied in China.

Responding to Mr. Clinton's pressures, Peng Peiyun, former Minister of

Family Policies, said, "one must avoid violations of the law and the rules

in family planning, such as coercion or excessive prices for services." Mr.

Peng also indicated a possible cooperation between the Communist Party and

the National People's Congress, so that the controls on family planning

would be governed by Chinese legislation.

New Center for Religious Studies

The Communist regime, which is engaged in a serious campaign of religious

control, including the imprisonment of hundreds of Catholic priests and

Bishops, as well as members of other religions, has opened a new center for

Christian studies in Beijing. Theoretically, the objective of the center is

to coordinate the work of the various institutes and academies of religious

study at home and abroad. However, experts fear that the actual intentions

are very different: to try to seek out Christian communities. The center is

affiliated with the Institute for Investigation of World Religions of the

Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, which has eight offices for the study

of the principal confessions, especially Buddhism, Christianity,

Confucianism, Islam, Taoism, and popular religions. The Institute was

opened in 1964, but its activity was suspended during the Cultural

Revolution (1966-1976).

The center's new director, Zhuo Xinping, who professes no religion, stated

that the center is to promote study of Christianity and to offer an "open

window" through which foreigners could comprehend the Chinese religious

policy, according to the Vatican News Agency FIDES. Mr. Zhuo, who led the

Institute for Investigation of World Religions for ten years, said that the

work of investigation has no direct relation with the government's

religious policy. Nonetheless, given that its investigation reflects public

opinion on religion in general and Christianity in particular, it could

indirectly influence government policies.



Deep Faith of the People Is A Sign of Hope for the Church

MACAO, AUG 6 (ZENIT) - Although there is a clear force of repression

against the Catholic Church in China, there are also reports that bring

hope for this suffering Church.

Recently, two nuns from the diocesan Center of Communications of Macao,

Sisters Maria Pia and Deolinda, visited China, travelling almost 2,000

miles by train to visit various Catholic communities. Upon their return,

they spoke with the Vatican news agency FIDES about what they had seen and


"The Sanctuary of Mary, Help of Christians, in Sheshan was totally packed

with pilgrims from all parts of China, coming with every imaginable means

of transportation. Masses were celebrated one after the other from dawn to

dusk, with constant Communions. It was impressive to see so many young

people, adults, and families praying fervently, not paying attention to

what was going on around them. Many buses for pilgrims were parked on the

grounds of the major seminary of Shanghai, which is near the sanctuary. We

were able to speak with the rector of the seminary and with some young


"In the House of Pilgrimage," noted the nuns, "Catholics found a place of

silence and prayer; there was also medical assistance available. The

printing press, run by both religious and lay people, has been expanded and

modernized. We also visited a home for elderly directed by nuns in

Shanghai. There were 80 women living there, who before the revolution had

worked as catechists in various parishes. The Bishop was justly concerned

about giving a worthy home to these women who had spent their lives in

suffering at the service of the Church. Near the Church of St. Ignatius,

they are constructing a seven-story building for the episcopate, pastoral

offices, and a residence for aging priests."

"In the city of Suzhou, near Shanghai," they continued, "we met the

Bishop, a parish priest, and a young seminarian who had just returned from

Germany, where he had studied theology. There are fourteen seminarians

studying philosophy at the seminary in Suzhou, who will then be sent to

Shanghai for theology. In Beijing, we attended Mass in the church of St.

Joseph (Dong Tang), built four hundred years ago by an Italian priest and

reconstructed later after various fires. Also here, we witnessed the great

fervor of the faithful."

"In the parish of Pin Chang, in Shijuazhuang, we were able to meet with a

group of young people whom we had assisted since 1990. The current Bishop,

Raimundo Wang, who has spent 28 years in prison, asked us to help a group

of young people who wanted to consecrated themselves to the religious life.

Despite difficulties, we found a way for sixteen of them to go to Guangdong

and set them up as assistants in the leprosariums of Guangdong and Yunnan

provinces. We have helped these institutions for some time from Macao.

Their work was greatly appreciated by the Guangdong Center for Health, so

they were permitted to stay."

"In 1994, we and Bishop Wang thought it was time for the group to return

to Hebei, especially since the local government would appreciate the social

work of the nuns for the orphans and invalids. Meanwhile, with help from

abroad, they were able to build a church and convent and to buy lands for

cultivation. Thus, they were able to start their religious life, truly and

properly speaking. Some nuns had specialized as nurses, others as teachers

and catechists, to be able to serve the local Church. In these immense

territories, there are only forty churches; Catholics are much more

numerous than in other regions, and the catechumens are countless. More

than 1,200 people knelt on small mats during Mass at the parish church; the

pews had been removed so that all the faithful could fit into the building."



Archbishop of Khartoum Denounces International Indifference to State of


ROME, AUG 3 (ZENIT) - "The real problem is that the emergency situation of

the refugees is being ignored by a somewhat criminal mentality, and this is

what is preventing the necessary aid from arriving," asserted Archbishop

Gabriel Zubeir Wako of Khartoum to the Italian newspaper "Avvenire."

From August 4-6, the Islamic government of Khartoum and the guerillas of

the Sudanese People's Liberation Army (SPLA) are meeting in Addis Ababa to

discuss prospects of peace. The two parties appear to already be in

agreement over a referendum on self-determination for the southern part of

the country. According to Archbishop Wako, this separation "cannot help,"

because "the referendum, if approved, would only put two enemy countries

next to one another. On the other hand, if it is so easy for the government

to tell the south to leave, why didn't they say so at the start of the war?

The truth is that today, the people of the south are not in a position to

choose responsibly. We have to create an atmosphere of peace and trust, of

reconciliation. The referendum is not a way of escaping Muslim oppression."

Archbishop Wako's words are strong, coming from a man who has himself

suffered threats and pressure, including imprisonment. "The people around

me," explained the Archbishop, "started to fear every danger after

something struck my car last October." Now, when I go out, I never leave

alone, and young people always accompany me. As far as my imprisonment,

that only lasted five hours, and I don't think the hand of the government

was behind it. It was just an error on the part of a judge in an old case,

which in fact, we had already won."

Blessed are the Peacemakers

On the role of the Church in the peace process, Archbishop Wako stressed,

"We want to make everyone understand what reconciliation and peace really

mean. It is certainly difficult to have these discussions with those who

have suffered violence, with those who have seen their own houses

destroyed, with those who still suffer. It is difficult to ask for the

witness of continuing to live with the people who were the cause of all

this. But that is what we must do. The challenge, which we also interpret

in the light of the Jubilee of the Year 2000, is to truly make our enemy

our friend. But for the rest, if Christ had to die on the cross, this means

that reconciliation is not easy."

No One Listened

Concerning the famine, Archbishop Wako noted that "when we Sudanese

Bishops came to Rome for our 'ad limina' visit with the Pope, we held a

press conference, announcing that we were on the brink of a great famine,

because in addition to the already terrible conditions brought on by the

war, we had a drought. We spoke, but no one listened. The problem is that

this fact is being ignored, not only at the international level, but also

within Sudan. The thing that amazes me is that there are observers who come

and go, and say nothing."

They Don't Want to Save Sudan

"They spend millions on hunger but not a single dime to end the war. The

emergency in Southern Sudan has become an alibi to sit on the sideline and

watch an already chronic conflict," wrote Fr. Renato Kizito, the Colombian

missionary to Sudan and Kenya for the past eleven years who directs the

monthly magazine "Africa News."

"The conditions have gotten worse," the missionary told "Avvenire,"

"because the U.N. dramatically underestimates what has been happening since

April, accusing Bishops and missionaries of being alarmists." Now they have

seen that to guarantee the survival of those millions of undernourished

people, they would need to provide 15,000 tons of food monthly, while it is

only possible to bring in 9,000. "Those who have exploited the situation

most," said Fr. Kizito, "is the Khartoum government, because hunger is

hitting the South, the enemy. In the other camp, this crisis is a great

battle lost for the SPLA, since it has been inefficient in handling the

famine and has therefore lost the confidence of the people, who are tired

and decimated by the war."

"There is little hope for true peace," concluded Fr. Kizito, "ever since

the moment when Western powers failed to oppose Khartoum with resolve. They

are playing on both sides, and meanwhile, the Sudanese are dying."



U.N. Will Send Delegate to Analyze Religious Intolerance

ROME, AUG 2 (ZENIT) - From August 13-15, the Marian Sanctuary of La Vang,

Vietnam, is expecting 120,000 visitors for the celebration of the

bicentennial of the Marian apparitions there. The Vietnamese government has

been making efforts to suppress the event in the diocese of Huê by placing

obstacles in the way of would-be pilgrims.

According to the Vatican news agency FIDES, there is a real "battle

between the Church in Vietnam and the government, which wants to control

its citizens in a moment of economic difficulty and open criticism of the

authorities." They fear the arrival of "ethnic minorities, the so-called

'mountain people,' who are mostly Catholics and traditionally opposed to

the central government."

The agency stressed that, according to reports from a priest in Hanoi, the

policy of the government toward the 8 million Vietnamese Catholics is

marked by "controls and humiliations," admittedly with some moments of

openness. A Vatican delegation that visited in February mentioned the

openness of the government toward the naming of Bishops and an attitude of

dialogue among certain ministers. Nonetheless, now some authorities are

advising against visiting the sanctuary for security reasons, recommending

that tourist agencies not book trips to the site. They have also refused

visas to Vietnamese living abroad, religious from France, Italy, and the

United States, to visit the shrine.

The FIDES agency explained that "with the brake placed on a religious

activity, which presents benefits for tourism in Vietnam, the government

also runs the risk of threatening the economic interests of the Quang Tri

region (near Huê), whose inhabitants had been anxiously awaiting the

arrival of pilgrims to earn something to live on in a Vietnam with a

fragile economy. We must not forget that in the past two years, foreign

investments in the country have fallen by almost 50%. Investors complain of

the lack of freedom, democracy, and laws."

Government Policy on Religion

The policy of the Vietnamese government toward religion puzzles observers.

On the one hand, the executive branch stresses the great importance of

religion, while on the other hand, the Party insists on maintaining

complete control over the various religions.

Last July 2, the Policy Office of the government issued new directives

concerning religious liberty, assuring that believers "have worked for the

development of the country, consolidating national unity and participating

in the construction and defense of the nation." However, the same

directives accuse many believers of running illegal operations, such as

"publication, import, and export of religious material and construction and

renovation of places of worship that has required an excessive mobilization

of people." In the directives, the members of the Party are summoned to

"mobilize believers to patriotic sentiments." Further, it is noted that

state control over religion "has been too lax and insufficiently firm."

The new directives were widely published in magazines and on internet

pages, unlike previous occasions when similar instructions were quietly

sent to the Office of Religious Affairs for application. The documents also

indicate that a study is in progress to draft a definitive religious law.

The laws to date have been simple lists of what is or is not permitted for

believers. New rules will also be enacted concerning the use of land and

financing of charitable works. In the past, many buildings and plots of

land have been confiscated from Christians and Buddhists for community use.

In other cases the local governments have sold the seized lands. It is

probable that the government intends to legalize the various "underground"

dispensaries, asylums, and schools that Buddhist and Catholic groups have

been running to answer genuine needs of the people.

Room for Hope

A Catholic priest in Hanoi stated that the current policies are

transitional since, "the controls and humiliations are followed by small

windows of openness." Government obstruction of the pilgrimage to La Vang,

for example, coincides with the Hanoi government's decision to permit a

visit of U.N. Special Envoy Abdelfattah Amor to study the problem of

religious intolerance. The visit is planned for next October. Officials

stated that the visit "is not being made under orders from the U.N.

Commission for Human Rights," meaning that the U.N. cannot use Mr. Amor's

observations to vote in sanctions against Vietnam. The government has

refused all previous requests for such a visit since 1995.

A senior government official, speaking anonymously, told FIDES that "the

current government is divided in two: one party wants the complete

liberalization of religion, because it would be an aid towards

modernization of Vietnam; the other wants to maintain control because it

fears the end of Party control. The same holds true regarding the

possibility of opening diplomatic relations with the Vatican."



The Value of Life is Rooted in the Heart of Every Human Being

ROME, AUG 7 (ZENIT) - The event is just another in a long list of persons

who have overcome desire for self interest in order to give themselves

courageously for the lives of others. It shows, however, that there are

values intrinsically written in the human person allowing people to make

any sacrifice in the course of following their conscience. This is the case

of Roberta Magnani, thirty-one-year-old victim of lung cancer, who chose to

sacrifice her own life to save her unborn child.

For several years, Roberta Magnani had struggled to conceive a child. She

wanted a large family, but her doctors did not think the prospects were

good. Finally, she managed to conceive, bringing her great joy. This joy

was short lived, however, for two months later, she began to feel severe

pains. At first, she thought that they were pains connected with her

pregnancy, but the doctors said that it was much more serious -- Roberta

Magnani had lung cancer. When this was discovered, six months ago, her

physicians recommended an immediate program of chemotherapy; however, the

application of this treatment would certainly have claimed the life of her


From the beginning, Roberta decided that she would protect the young life

growing within her, taking only those medicines that were strictly

necessary. As a result of this, she experienced severe pain and suffering,

all so that her son, who was born on July 16, at 32 weeks, could live. A

few days after the birth, July 27, Roberta died of the cancer that had

consumed her body. On her death bed, she seemed content to know that she

had achieved her dream of bringing a son into the world.

Her husband, Mauro Arlenghi, granted an interview to the press shortly

after her death, mentioning the recent phenomenon in Italy of abandoned

babies. "There are mothers who give birth to a child and then leave it in

the trash can. She sacrificed the last months of life for a son who had to

be born. A good woman. The option she took was an option of life, for

life," he recounted. As to the future of their son, the father said he

would raise him alone. Both his family and Roberta's are there to help.

Mauro says that "he will be the most loved child on earth."

This case is just the last in a series of dramatic events in Italy,

touching on the commitment to life. In 1994, Pope John Paul II beatified

Gianna Beretta Molla, a doctor who died in 1962 after refusing treatment

for her illness on the grounds that it might harm the child she was

bearing. In April 1995, another Italian woman, Maria Antonietta Perretta,

gave her life for her daughter rather than receive treatment for her

cancer. In July of the same year, Rosanna Portaro died the day after giving

birth to a son. She too, had rejected chemotherapy.

The difference in this case was that, while all of these other women were

staunchly Catholic, Roberta and her husband were declared nonbelievers. In

fact, they only sealed their civil marriage after Roberta was already

pregnant. As a result, many see this event as another proof that the

universal value of life, and therefore its defense, are not merely a

consequence of religious beliefs, nor the fruit of any specific social or

cultural context, but rather are deeply engrained in the most profound

depths of every human being. Once again, a mother's love, often forgotten

today in the search for personal satisfaction, has shown itself to be truly

stronger than death.



Biblical Experts Explain Meaning of New Findings

ROME, AUG 7 (ZENIT) - Qumran is a fascinating and mysterious site. In this

Israeli archeological deposit, a shepherd discovered a set of papyrus rolls

in abandoned caves, back in the 1940s. These rolls, despite decomposition

due to age, turned out to be from the first century, the very time of

Jesus. Many revolutionary hypotheses are coming out of the study of these


Fr. Joseph O'Callahan of the Roman Biblical Institute has even called the

texts the "first Gospel," as he supposes the texts were written very

shortly after Christ's death, an earlier estimate than most experts would

make. James H. Charlesworth, a Methodist minister at the Theological

Seminary of Princeton and Director of the "Dead Sea Scrolls Project,"

explains that the surprises coming from these rolls of papyrus have only

begun to be uncovered.

For him, the "Information Age" provides many tools to enrich our knowledge

of the Bible, opening new perspectives on the relationship between the Old

and New Testaments, between Jews and Christians. Charlesworth himself has

recovered 220 fragments from the Dead Sea Scrolls. "Soon, I will

communicate their content to the scientific world," he said proudly. "Up

until now, no one has seen them." He refused to provide further details,

only stating that he has found four more caves with ancient papyrus. The

historical importance of the finds is enormous. "The rolls help us

understand the world of Jesus and his contemporaries, what the people read,

what they thought, what they dreamed. They are authentic documents. When we

touch them, we note that they were touched by Jesus' very contemporaries."

But what did the people of Qumran, the mysterious Essenes, dream of? "For

the first time," answered Charlesworth, "we have found Jewish texts that

speak of God as a King and of His Kingdom on earth, with words similar to

those of the Christians. In particular, they are very like the words of the

Our Father." However, he is quick to reject the hypothesis put forth by

some academics, that Jesus was simply a Master of Justice at Qumran, making

Christianity simply a Jewish heresy. "Before the discovery of the Qumran

rolls, we thought that we knew what Judaism was," he explained, "something

very different from Christianity. Now, on the other hand, we know that the

ideas and words of persons like Jesus, Paul, and particularly the author of

the fourth Gospel, John, were very similar [to Jewish thought]. Now we have

been able to note the influences that affected the authors of the New

Testament. Nonetheless, no matter how exciting the discoveries of the Dead

Sea Scrolls may be, we must not forget that we also have other writings

from that epoch: the New Testament, which was written by Jews. In these

texts, Jesus appears as someone clearly different from the rest of the Jews

of His time, especially with respect to the concept of His own person and

of the human person."

According to Charlesworth, "the Qumran rolls have helped us to understand

that Jesus is not an obstacle, but rather a bridge between Christianity and

Judaism. On one side, they show that the two religions are clearly

distinct, while on the other, that Christianity was linked to Judaism in

its first decades. This does not mean, as some German scholars would state,

that Christianity is a phenomenon posterior to Christ. In the authentic

words of Christ, I have found expressions that clearly emerge from His

consciousness of being Son of God and the Messiah. This means that

Christianity certainly derives from the authentic words of Jesus."

"Today," continued the Methodist minister, "almost all the fragments,

except for those whose miniscule size makes it impossible to understand

their content, have been published by Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish

experts. The best specialists in the world are preparing texts and

translations on all the fragments. Some superficial books have accused the

Catholics of keeping the rolls found in the 40s secret, preventing the

publication of the results of these investigations secret, for fear of

their content. There is a sensationalist aspect to the rolls, though, since

if you consider the epoch in which they were written, they suppose an

extraordinary object. They cast light on a period that up until now has

been almost totally in the dark. But there is no content in them that could

generate a scandal."



To be Released with the Song "A Man Come from Afar" by Amedeo Minghi

ROME, AUG 4 (ZENIT) - The first music video "starring" the Pope is about to

come out. The Italian Catholic television channel "Telepace," directed by

Fr. Guido Todeschini, produced the video. The author is Italian singer

Amedeo Minghi, whose song "A Man Come from Afar" will appear in his

September release "Decenni."

The very words of the song explain the purpose behind this initiative: "A

man come from very far away / grasped the pain and a book in his hand /

someone shot and I cried that day; / that day the world found its heart

again, / truth never dies." "A man who went out, dressed in white / to a

thousand countries and never looked tired, / but within his eyes there is a

profound pain; / to see the diverse ways of the world, / the wars and the

people who change their heart, / the truth that dies."

As is well known, the Vatican keeps very tight control on the use of the

Holy Father's image. In the case of Minghi, the permission came from

Archbishop Crescenzio Sepe who is organizing the celebration for the

twentieth anniversary of John Paul II's Pontificate. The high point of the

celebration will be a live concert in St. Peter's Square on October 16.

"A Man Come from Afar" is a truly passionate song about the life and

Pontificate of Karl Wojtyla, from his youth as a worker and poet, to the

assassination attempt, to his many travels, to his constant fight against

poverty and war. The video accompanying it makes effective use of images to

bring out the message.

Minghi told "Corriere della Sera," the largest Italian newspaper, "The

project started three years ago. In the Vatican, they had a song about the

Pope written by Marcello Marrocchi, and they were looking for an

interpreter. After a series of contacts, I was asked to sing in the Nervi

Hall with a choir and orchestra directed by Msgr. Marco Frisino during the

celebration of the Pope's fifty years as a priest. Thus, I personally

followed the concert in which I included 'A Man Come from Afar' with a new

arrangement and lyrics. At the end, I had a four-minute meeting with the

Pope, in which he congratulated me and asked for the text, since he hadn't

understood all the words well." The singer continued, "In the Vatican, they

told me that if I published the song on one of my albums, they would also

help me to make a video with images from the life of John Paul II." He

indicated that the video would be included on a CD-ROM version of the

album, due to come out on September 24, which will be presented during the

celebrations for the twentieth anniversary of the papacy of Karol Wojtyla."

On October 14, Minghi will have a private audience with the Holy Father to

give him the disc, and he will perform the song in St. Peter's Square with

a 300-piece orchestra on October 16.

ZW980809- 13


People, Events, and Comments


ROME, AUG 2 (ZENIT) - In addition to the problems of political instability

and war in Albania, new reports have revealed a chilling threat to the

lives of its citizens. Balkan and European organized crime syndicates

appear to be using Albania as a commercial organ bank. The first victims of

this practice have been the children. Pierluigi Vigna, Italian National

Antimafia Prosecutor, confirmed that he is investigating this accusation,

leading Elisa Pozza Tasca, a member of Parliament, to travel to Albania.

She told Vatican Radio, "What the local health official in Tirana told me

was just a confirmation of what had been published in a few Albanian

newspapers, denouncing the trafficking in organs of Albanian children. The

suspicion arose after the discovery of empty coffins, from which the little

bodies had disappeared. The doctor confirmed the disappearance of the

bodies and told me it was under investigation." It appears very likely that

the organs have been taken to Italy for sale.


VATICAN CITY, AUG 2 (ZENIT) - "L'Osservatore Romano," the semi-official

Vatican newspaper, has just released a CD-ROM containing the entire

collection of articles from 1997. This includes the daily Italian version,

as well as the weekly English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese versions,

and the Sunday supplement in Italian: "L'Osservatore della Domenica." The

articles, which include the texts of most papal discourses, occur in

chronological order, but can be consulted by an integrated search engine.

The disk sells for $60 plus postage ($5 for Europe, $6 for North and South

America). More information is available by email:


BERLIN, AUG 3 (ZENIT) - The Archdiocese of Munich-Freising has definitively

rejected numerous lucrative proposals from telecommunications and

advertising companies to use the towers of churches for mobile telephone

antennas or for billboard space. "The two thousand towers of the churches

and chapels of the Archdiocese will continue to be used only to house the

bells," read the official communiqué. The authorities of the Archdiocese

responded to pressures brought to bear by the media, which requested that

the Archbishop, Cardinal Friedrich Wetter, allow the installation of the

antennas. The companies offered sums of up to 6,000 DM (about $3,350)

yearly as rent for use of the towers.


VATICAN CITY, AUG 5 (ZENIT) - Almost 350 years of soot and contamination

are encrusted on the huge stones forming the Colonnade of St. Peter's

Square, designed by Gianlorenzo Bernini. Now, for the Jubilee, a German

company, Kärcher P, will be restoring the 284 columns and 88 pillars, in

one of the largest restoration projects ever realized. The company says

that just as the facade is being cleaned to better welcome pilgrims, so

also must the two arms of the colonnade shine in the Jubilee year. The firm

is performing the service free of charge to the Holy See. The great Bernini

once stated that he was not the author of the idea for the plaza, though

perhaps the statement was merely to praise the Pope. He credited Pope

Alexander VII, who commissioned the work: "Since His Holiness immediately

saw the drawbacks of having the portico in the form of a rectangle, with

greater than human judgment, he decided to make it in the form of an oval."



is an International News Agency

Visit our web page at

To subscribe, send e-mail to

Via della Stazione di Ottavia, 95

00165 Rome


© Innovative Media, Inc.

Return to August 19, 1998 Justpeace Front Page ... Continue to Home Index