Page 3, 26th December 1997

26th December 1997
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Page 3, 26th December 1997 — 1997: that was the year that was

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1997: that was the year that was

Events that caused a stir in Britain and further afield — such as deaths, earthquakes and appointments


POPE JOHN Paul II discusses how to revive the failing Middle East peace talks with Palestinian President, Yasser Arafat, in the light of continuing Israeli settlement building in the West Bank.

A 50-foot tall image of the Virgin Mary seems to appear on the windows of a Florida skyscraper, attracting pilgrims from all over the USA.

Oblate Fr Tissa Balasuriya, a Sri Lankan theologian, is formally excommunicated for heresy. Theologians worldwide express their concern at the process by which this judgement was reached.

New national guidelines on religious education, Religious Education: Curriculum Directory for Catholic Schools, are published by the Bishops of England and Wales.


AN ALBANIAN cardinal, Mike! Koliqi, who had spent 44 years in prisons and labour camps under the Stalinist regime, dies aged 92. In between prison sentences, he found time to compose music for three operas, found a theatre company, edit a Catholic magazine and write poetry.

Bishop Mervyn Alexander bans the Neo-Catechumentate from the Diocese of Clifton. While appreciating their value for some people, "parish communities as a whole have suffered", he says.

Pope John Paul II helps to hand out the first of one million copies of St Mark's Gospel destined for every home in Rome as a symbolic start of spiritual preparation for the Millennium. A three-year programme of conventions on Christian themes is launched.


MOTHER TERESA of Calcutta's successor as Superior General of the Missionaries of Charity is chosen, the 63-yearold Hindu convert, Sister Nirmala. Sr Nirmala has been the Superior of the Contemplative wing of the Order. "The Lord will make me fit for the job if you pray for me," she says.

Thousands of Albanian refugees flee their violently anarchic country,seeking sanctuary in Europe, mainly in Italy. The Pope urges the restoration of peace and order in Albania, and greater generosity and hospitality from west Europeans.

Irish Bishops and Religious protest at Niamh Bhreathnach's Education Bill which would seriously threaten the future of Catholic voluntary education.


CATHouc MPs John Patten, 51, and David Alton,46, are awarded life peerages in the Birthday Honours.

The leaders of the Christian Brothers in Ireland apoligise in public for any abuse suffered by children because of his Order.

The Pope braves the threat of violence to make a "spiritual pilgrimmage" to Sarajevo, delivering a message of peace and reconciliation to the rival ethnic groups: "Never again war! Never again hatred and intolerance!"

The Turin Shroud is snatched undamaged from a fire by intrepid Italian firefighters.

A party political broadcast by the ProLife Alliance is banned by BBC1 and Channel 4 on the grounds of taste. A sequence showing the effects of abortion was deemed "offensive to public feeling" by Channel 4.


NEW LABOUR wins the General Election by a landslide majority. Cardinal Hume welcomes the "palpable sense of hope and optimism" that the victory has brought to the country, but deplores the lack of attention given during the campaign to the key issues of poverty, the family, abortion, Northern Ireland and Third World poverty.

Blessed Cerefino Jimenez Malla, a Gypsy martyr from the Spanish Civil War, is beatified in Rome amid calls for an end to discrimination against gypsies.

Andrew Terrill, 27, sets off to walk across Europe, from Italy's toe to north Scandinavia, to raise money for The Cardinal Hume Centre and The Passage, both shelters for the homeless in central London.

The Catholic Central Library closes as the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement, who have financed and run the 60,000 volume library since 1959, concentrate their resources on work with the poor in New York.

The 1,400th anniversary of the arrival of St Augustine in England is celebrated by several largescale ecumenical services, pilgrimages and TV programmes.


THE SECOND European Ecumenical Assembly opens in Graz, Austria. Seven hundred delegates for the formal meetings are joined by 11,000 other Christians from 44 countries and from 120 Churches for a wide variety of events and services on the theme: "Reconciliation — Gift of God and Source of new Life".

Ireland and Scotland celebrate the life of St Colmcille (or Columba), a son of Donegal and Derry, who died in Iona in 597 Cardinal Winning is appointed Papal Envoy for the Colmcille events. Pope John Paul called the saint "an inspiration for the spiritual renewal which society so sorely needs."

Tories elect William Hague, a solid pro-life supporter, as party leader.

Catholic governor Chris Patten hands over Hong Kong to mainland China at midnight ceremonies attended by Prince Charles and many world leaders.


A UN Earth Sumit in New York is told that Catholics are on the "front line" of evironmental protection.

Severe floods devastate large areas of eastern Poland, killing at least 27 people and causing thousands to be homeless.

Bishop John Rawsthorne, former auxiliary in Liverpool, is installed as Bishop of Hallam. He tells the Herald of his warm welcome from the friendly people of Sheffield.

English and Welsh Catholics say good-bye to the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Luigi Barbarito, who retires aged 75. In a departing interview with the Herald, he speaks of his love of cricket and refused to be drawn on Cardinal Hume's succesor.

Catholics in Garvaghy Road, Porta down, are prevented from attending Sunday Mass because of a parade by the Orange Order. At a street Mass, Fr Sean Larkin and members of the congregation exchange the sign of peace with RUC and army officers.

Jockey Frankie Dettori and fiancée Catherine marry in Newmarket, affirming that marriage "is for life — not just for one day".


ARCHBISHOP PABI.0 Puente, a 66-yearold Spaniard, is appointed as new Apostolic Nuncio to the Court of St James.

Elton John and Sting sing The Lord is My Shepherd at the Requiem Mass for fashion designer Gianni Versace, in Milan. Princess Diana is photographed offering comfort to a distraught Elton John at the service. Over one million young Catholics attend a Papal Mass on World Youth Day.


MOTHER TERESA dies in the same week as Princess Diana. India declares a national holiday as she is buried with full state honours. People all over the world pay tribute to the 87-year-old Macedonian nun's untiring work among the poor. The Vatican hints at a "fast track" canonisation.

David Trimble, leader of the Ulster Unionist Party requests a meeting with Archbishop Sean Brady of Armagh.

The definitive edition of the Catechism of the Catholic Church is published in Latin, showing .a hardening of the line on capital punishment.


EARTHQUAKES HIT the Umbrian towns of Foligno and Assisi, killing 1 1 people, forcing thousands into temporary housing, and causing damage to the artworks and buildings of the Franciscan basilicas at the height of the pilgimage season for the patronal feast.

The bishops of England and Wales pay their delayed ad lirnina visit to the Vatican as a tremor hits Rome.

George Malcolm, former organist and influential Master of Music at Westminster Cathedral, dies, aged 80.

St Therese of Lisieux is elevated to the status of Doctor cf the Church by Pope John Paul II at a ceremony showered with rose petals.


PROFESSOR MARY Mc.thleese, an Ulsterwoman, is elected as president of Ireland. Dana, the choice of "family values" supporters, came third in the poll.

Dublin's Vocations Director, Fr Derek Smyth, announces his delight at the success of the "Who are the Men in Black" vocations campaign after an encouraging response

The Roman Option, by Harald columnist William Oddie, is published, detailing the response of the Catholic hierarchy to the aspiration of certain disaffected Anglicans to be received into the Catholic Church in groups, with their own liturgy and parish clergy.


tee paves the way for a Catholic TV channel in the new year, granting six broadcasting licenses to the Christian Channel TV franchise.

Ireland TV's Late, Late Show faces prosecution for blasplerny following a provocative comedy rputine featuring the crucifixion.

The controversial Bishop of Chur, in Switzerland, Bishop Wolfgang Haas, has been appointed a Archbishop to the newly erected Archdiocese of Liechtenstein. Bishop Haas provoked widespread oppositios to his style of leadership, and there is little hope that he will be better accepted in his new appointment.

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