VATICAN CITY—The Holy Father has consecrated a new Irish bishop during an Epiphany ceremony at St Peter's Basilica.
Diarmuid Martin was ordained Titular Bishop of Glendalough by Pope John Paul II at a three-hour ceremony before an 8,000 strong congregation.
Dublin-born Bishop Martin, 53, was consecrated with eight other bishops and archbishops — three Italians, two Spaniards, one Indian, one Vietnamese and one Frenchman.
Bishop Martin has served in the Vatican since 1977, first with the Council for the Family and since 1985 at the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. His appointment to a titular seat is an indication that he will continue his work in the Roman Curia.
He chose the title of Glenalough himself because of its importance in both Irish history and in early Irish church affairs.
The Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Desmond Connell, Cardinal Cabal Daly and Bishop Eamonn Walsh were present at the ceremony.—(The Irish Times) VATICAN CITY—John Paul II focused his attention on areas of the world torn by strife in his first Sunday Angelus message of 1999.
He addressed the "fratricidal conflict" in Angola, the "harsh armed battles" in the Congo, the "indescribable violence" in Sierra Leone, and the unforgettable "drama of Kosovo."
During his message to pilgrims from various countries of the world, the Holy Father referred to the "sad fact that at the dawn of the new year painful events are taking place in various areas of the world: there are cries of desolation resulting from wars and all manner of violations.
"Echoing the anguished cries that come to me from different quarters of the world," said the Holy Father, "I appeal to political and military leaders to take whatever initiative is possible to establish a just and lasting peace."— (Zenit) VATICAN CITY—The Holy Father canonised three new people at a ceremony on January 9.
The ceremony, in which all the cardinals and other bishops present in Rome at the time participated, included the canonisation of Fr. Marcellin Benoit Champagnat, a Frenchman who founded the Marist teaching order in 1817; Fr. Giovanni Calabria, an Italian who founded the Poor Servants of Divine Providence and Sr. Agostina Livia Pietrantoni, the Italian foundress of the Sisters of Charity.
Including these three, on Saturday John Paul II will have canonised 283 saints during his 20-year pontificate. Of these, 246 are martyrs and 37 confessors of the faith. Of the 805 the Pope has proclaimed blessed, 595 are martyrs and 210 confessors. No other Pontiff in history has proclaimed so many saints.—(Aid to the Church in Need)
VATICAN CITY—The Jubilee Year will give a boost to ecumenism, the Holy Father predicted in his traditional review of the year lecture delivered to the Roman Curia.
Recalling the Vatican symposium on the Holocaust last year, the Pope hoped that these and other "painful events of the past" will be laid to rest in the Holy Year 2000, so that the Church can give a "peaceful and convincing witness" to the world.—(KNA) VATICAN CITY—The Vatican has released details of the Pope's forthcoming trip to his homeland, after the Holy Father gave a private audience to the Apostolic Nuncio to Poland, Archbishop Jozef Kowalczyk.
Between June 5 and 17, John Paul II will visit 21 places in Poland. He will spend most time in Warsaw and Cracow. The Pope's itinerary includes a service of meditation on the victims of National Socialism.
For the first time in history, the Pope will address the Polish parliament and meet the the President and Prime Minister. The official motto of the visit will be "God is Love"—(Kathpress)
VATICAN CITY—Massimo D'Alema, Italy's prime minister and leader of what used to be the Italian Communist Party, went to visit John Paul II on Sunday, where he bowed to the Pontiff and called him "Holy Father".
Signor D'Alema afterwards promised the Pope that he would provide more state aid for families and incentives to raise the birth rate.—(The Guardian)
ROME—A total of 37 Catholic missionaries were killed in 1998, according to the Vatican news agency Fides.
The majority were murdered in African countries, particularly Congo and Rwanda. In one of the year's worst attacks three nuns of the Missionary Sisters of Charity were shot dead by a lone gunman in Yemen.
LONDON—The Queen has honoured several Catholics for their service to the Armed Forces. They include Wing Commander James Anderson (OBE), Group Captain John Ponsonby (OBE), Flight Lieutenant Arthur McCann (MBE), Squadron Leader Michael McKenna (MBE) and Flight Lieutenant Matthew McKevitt (MBE).
MUNICH—Cardinal Archbishop Friedrich Wetter of Munich has appealed to the President of Sudan to improve the country's appalling human rights record.
Cardinal Wetter wrote to President Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir shortly before Christmas to criticise violence against civilians in southern Sudan.
The Cardinal wrote: "I want to strongly protest against the use of methods of torture, which in no way meet the minimum standards of human rights."
He also called for information about the fate of two priests who are charged with masterminding a bombing campaign in the capital Khartoum. Cardinal Wetter said that he had spoken to Church sources in Sudan, who assured him that the priests had confessed to the crimes under torture. He said that they had been tried before a kangaroo court and were now living in fear of their lives.
The Cardinal urged the President to immediately free the two men. He also called on the German foreign minister Joschka Fischer to put pressure on the Sudanese regime to clear up its human rights record.
Latest reports say the trial of the two priests has been halted. The Apostolic Nuncio to Sudan, Archbishop Marco Dino Brogi said their fate now hung in the hands of their counsel, but welcomed the adjournment of proceedings against them. He said that contrary to reports before Christmas, the priests do not face death by crucifixion.—(KNA)
LONDON—In a bid to encourage younger Christians to read the Bible more, the Scripture Union this week announced the launch of a new monthly magazine Heaven to Earth, which purports to combine "ready-to-read Bible passages, snappy writing and dynamic graphics."
The new magazine will see its official launch at the London Planetarium on February 3.
The Scripture Union quotes statistics showing that 75 per cent of regular churchgoers have never read the entire Bible at any time in their lives, while 18 per cent of regular churchgoers have not read anything from the Bible at all in the last 12 months.
COLCHESTER—The Government has accepted the unanimous decision by the governors of St Benedict's College in Colchester to return to Voluntary Aided status from September. The headmaster of St Benedict's, Alan Whelan said, the decision was made so the school could "preserve its Catholic character," adding: "St Benedict's chose Voluntary Aided status because this alone guaranteed the future Catholic control of the college." The move will mean that the school will have to find an extra £50,000 a year when it becomes the first school in Essex to opt back in to local council and Church control.
Meanwhile Archbishop Patrick Kelly of Liverpool has written to the parents of pupils attending St Francis Xavier College in Liverpool to express his concern at the Governors' wishes to opt for the Foundation Category when the school ceases to be Grant Maintained this September.
St Francis Xavier is the only Catholic Grant Maintained school in the country which has not decided to adopt Voluntary Aid category, and the Archbishop said by opting for Foundation category the school will lose the legal right to protect its Catholic nature. "In the long term, without this crucial legal protection, the future of the College as a Catholic school will be very seriously threatened," said the Archbishop.
BELFAST—The number of Catholics seeking to join the RUC is at a record high, according to statistics released on Monday.
A total of 22.3 per cent of the 3,359 applicants made in 1998 were from Catholics, compared with 2,792 in 1997. RUC sources say the increase was due to the calmer political climate. At present Catholics make up fewer than 8 per cent of the 13,500-strong police force.—(The Irish Times)
MADRID—The Spanish bishops have distanced themselves from the Basque terrorist organisation ETA after a bishop provoked widespread outrage by describing a detained terrorist leader as a "political prisoner".
Archbishop Agustin Garcia-Gasco of Valencia said the Church apologised to all ETA's victims for the support of some Catholics for terrorist action.
Bishop Jose Maria Setien of San Sebastian recently wrote a letter to the imprisoned ETA member John Gaztelumendi, recognising him as a "political prisoner" and urging him to claim the rights associated with that status. Gastelumendi is accused of nine murders and two kidnappings.—(KNA)
PRAGUE—The Czech government has raised the salaries of Catholic priests, but the average priest's salary will remain below the national average. '
The government of Premier Milos Zeman said in December that beginning January 1, it would increase by 15 percent the salaries paid to the Czech Republic's more than 3,100 Catholic priests. The monthly average is now 10,200 Czech crowns (£193). The move will still place priests' earnings below the national average of 11,200 crowns fi225).
"Perhaps the government will now be more open to dialogue, but this is hardly a gesture of reconciliation," said Father Daniel Herman, spokesman for the
Czech bishops' conference.—(CNS) MOSCOW—The head of the Russian Orthodox Church has reprimanded his priests for excessive worldliness.
Patriarch Aleksiy II criticised several prominent Moscovite priests for indulging a taste for luxury while their parishioners struggle to make ends meet.
The Patriarch said that some priests compete to wear the most fashionable clothes or host lavish parties and ostentatiously flaunt mobile phones and luxury cars. He said that such behaviour offends ordinary believers and drives them to other faiths.
The accusations were made as priests prepared to celebrate Christmas — which falls 13 days later than in the Catholic tradition.—(The Daily Telegraph)
MEXICO CITY — The Archdiocese of Mexico City has warned Mexicans not to be taken in by a scam in which con artists are selling tickets to events during Pope John Paul II's visit to the country later this month.
Local media reported a brisk business in ticket sales by unidentified individuals for several of the large gatherings where the Holy Father will speak. But the archdiocesan spokesman said such ticket sales are illegal since the events are free. "No-one, absolutely noone, should pay one centavo [for tickets] to see the Pope," he said.
Several million are expected to attend the events, including the Mass at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe with about 600 bishops and 5,000 priests from across North and South America. The Holy Father will be in Mexico between January 22-26.—(CW/V) WASHINGTON—The head of the U.S. Archdiocese for Military Services has warned that the U.S. bombing of Iraq "should cause serious moral concern for all Americans."
In a statement sent to all Catholic chaplains, Archbishop Edwin F O'Brien warned that military personnel "are not exempt from making conscientious decisions" if they are ordered to take an action they regard as a clear "violation of the moral law." The archbishop, who called on the president and his advisers "to initiate no further military action in the Middle East," is responsible for the pastoral care of Catholics in the U.S. armed forces around the world A bishop promised last week to defy the US government by continuing to bring medicines to Iraq even if the government fines and imprisons him.
Detroit Auxiliary Bishop Thomas J. Gumbleton said that children's lives were at stake. He said: "I have been to Iraq and I intend to go again. It is an atrocity to kill defenceless children."
Bishop Gumbleton is working with the "Voices in the Wilderness" campaign to aid dying Iraqis in defiance of US sanctions. He recently brought food and medicines into Iraq without licence from the American government.—(CNS)
MEXICO CITY—Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera, Archbishop Primate of Mexico, has criticised the Mexican government for prohibiting the Church from owning and using electronic media.
The Cardinal described the prohibition as an attack against religious liberty, at a conference on the Church and the media. "For our country to maintain a legal prohibition so that the Church cannot own or use electronic media in keeping with her needs presupposes a profound denial of religious liberty and outright discrimination for religious reasons," Cardinal Carrera said.
Mexican law in the Law of Religious Associations and Public Worship, is "irt open opposition to the most important legal instruments of the international community signed by Mexico," the Archbishop said. "Obviously, if there is no religious liberty, with all the practical dimensions of its private and public exercise, neither will there be freedom for the Church to use and own the means of communication. Both liberties will remain mere illusions for the Catholic Church in Mexico."
The Cardinal attributed the ban to lack of confidence by Mexico's government in the Church.—(Zenit)
BOMBAY—The Indian Prime Minister, Atl Behari Vajpayee, last week visited Gujurat in an effort to curb a wave of recent attacks against Christians.
Mr Vajpayee visited seveal Christian groups, assuring them that they would be protected, and that anybody attacking churches would face harsh punishment. Opposition politicians in Delhi have called for the dismissal of the state government for failing to protect Christian tribal members in Gujurat who have been the main targets.
Meanwhile Hindu activists held ceremonies last week converting Christians back to Hinduism. Hindu guru Vidyashankar Bharati presided over the ceremony in which 37 tribal natives affirmed their return to Hinduism.
Christian groups have blamed Hindu nationalists for a series of violent attacks on Christians and their churches, homes, and businesses which resulted in numerous injuries. The Hindu groups have denied responsibility. Victims of the violence have said their attackers often use antiChristian rhetoric and accuse them of converting Hindus to Christianity. Hindu nationalists have issued a warning to Christian missionaries working in the Nashik region to leave by March 31.
Christians form 2.4 per cent of India's 950 million-strong population.—(The Times, CWN, KNA)
JERUSALEM—The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem has accused Israelis of fearing the outcome of the peace process.
Patriarch Michel Sabbah said: "Fear is holding the Israelis back from taking risks for peace. If Palestinians were given full freedom, then all violence would cease."
The Patriarch also criticised the "political instability in the Palestinian areas, which is creating economic, social and moral turmoil."
Referring to a recent dispute between Christians and Muslims over a plot of land in Nazareth, the Patriarch said: "This is not spontaneous. Somebody has an interest in instigating violence between Christians and Muslims" He said the local authorities were responsible for the row. The Christian mayor of Nazareth is refusing to seek a compromise in the dispute over land near the Basilica of the Annunciation. —(KNA)
KIVU—Rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo have killed at least 500 civilians, including women and children, an Italian missionary news service said.
The massacre took place at Makobola in South Kivu region, according to Fr Giulio Albanese. Rebels attacked women and children with machetes and guns over the New Year.
Father Albanese said: "We are receiving little by little the names. Counting has not ended. There are roughly 500 dead. They were killed with machetes, shot. It's something unbelievable." The killings come just one day after government soldiers retook other towns in the region in a major offensive.
The report said the dead belonged to varying ethnic groups but were all Christians, including the pastor of the local Protestant church. According to witnesses, the killers were Banyamulenge ethnic Tutsis and the massacre was a reprisal for an attack the previous day by local Mai-Mai warriors.
The commander of the rebel ethnic Tutsis denied the claims, saying the region was peaceful.—(The Times, Zenit)
DAKAR---The Archbishop of Dakar, Cardinal Hyacinthe Thiandoum, has BOGOTA—A rebel soldier looks on as a priest reads from a prayer book at the start of peace talks between the government and rebel forces last week. Columbia's civil war has cost more than 35,000 lives in the past 10 years. The Church has been influential in bringing the two warring sides together.—(CNS)
welcomed the decision of the Senegalese government to ban the ancient custom of female circumcision.
During his Christmas address, the Cardinal called the ban a "historical decision" and an important recognition of the struggle of Senegalese women for more dignity and rights.
The prohibition of female circumcision is the result of ten years of campaigning by women's organisations in West Africa.
Female circumcision is usually done without anaesthesia under poor sanitary conditions and often results in death, severe mutilation or permanent health problems for the woman or girl involved.—(Aid to the Church in Need) KHARTOUM—A Bishop in Sudan had accused the Sudanese army of using lethal gas against rebel fighters.
Bishop Cesare Mazzolari of Rumbek, Sudan said that poisonous gases have been used as recently as mid-November in the suppression of a Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) in an attack on the city of Juba.
-Many SPLA soldiers have died, but none of the cadavers had wounds from firearms," noted the Bishop. In that attack, there were a very large number of casualties.
More accurate numbers cannot be expected in a country, which has suffered fifteen years of civil war between the SPLA and the government. "This war can have no winner," Bishop Mazzolari said. "The current situation is such that neither side of the struggle can achieve its objectives."—(Zenit)