Page 2, 31st March 2000

31st March 2000
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Page 2, 31st March 2000 — Vatican
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Vatican

A Marian millennium

THE POPE will entrust the Third Millennium to Our Lady of Fatima in a special ceremony in October, the Vatican has announced.

The Pope will make the act of consecration at the end of a Mass concelebrated with the world's bishops who will be in Rome to celebrate their Jubilee.

The statue of Our Lady of Fatima will be brought from the shrine specially for the Mass, which will be celebrated on October 8. The Pope will travel to Portugal in May to beatify two of the child visionaries who saw apparitions of the Blessed Virgin in 1917.

Europe

Priest's shame over confession

AN ITALIAN bishop cited the Pope's mea culpa this week, and begged a family's forgiveness for a priest's refusal to let hear the confession of their Down's syndrome son as a prelude to his First Communion, writes Bruce Johnston in Rome.

Parishioners in Venetico, near

Messina, boycotted the church last Sunday in protest, after Fr Nino Romano refused to hear the confession of Pieruccio, the son of council employee, who was regularly attending a catechism course with others of his age.

Last Saturday Fr Romano gave absolution for 30 children to have their First Communion. But when Pieruecio's turn came the priest said: "I'm tired now. Come back Monday, because I still want to think this case over. Jesus said: 'Don't give daisies to dogs.'" The day after the flock completely abandoned the Church of St Mary of Carmel in protest, and Bishop Giovanni Marra of Messina railed on the priest to personally hear the boy's confession at home.

With him was Fr Romano, who later approached Picniccio, and said in a low voice: "I ask for forgiveness."

Scandal priest goes AWOL

A PRELATE accused of writing a best-selling, muck-raking book on the Vatican has refused to attend a Church hearing on the matter, claiming that it was a "pawn" of his accusers, writes Bruce Johnston.

Mgr Luigi Marinelli, who is accused of defamation for Via Col Vento nel Vaticano (Gone With the Wind in Vatican), deserted the hearing at the Rota Romana, the highest Vatican court which is trying him for misconduct.

Mgr Marinelli, 72, who is suspected by the Church of being the sole author, claims instead that it was a collective work by various people inside the Vatican, for whom he was being made the scapegoat.

After refusing to attend the hearing, he said that he had been approached by highranking Church figures offering to drop proceedings against him in return for a retraction.

The book includes lurid allegations of homosexual conduct among top curial officials, in-fighting and corruption.

Mgr Marinelli said: "Even if I did retract, the truth remains the truth, just as it did for Galileo."

Africa

Cult leader excommunicated

A FORM FR PRIEST who is supected of leading more than 500 members of a cult to their deaths in Uganda two weeks ago had been excommunicated by his bishop, it has been revealed.

Retired Bishop John Baptist Kakubi of Mbarara said he had excommunicated Joseph Kibwetere, founder of the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments, after the former priest claimed to be able to talk to God and refused to submit to the bishop's authority, Kibwetere's colleagues in the cult, Fathers Dominic Kataribabo and Joseph Kasapuraru, had also been suspended but not excommunicated by Bishop Kakubi for disobedience.

Bishop Bakyenga, the current bishop of Mbarara, said the victims of the massacre should not receive funeral Masses but he endorsed a call for prayers by fellow Bishop Robert Gay of Kabale, who suggested that a priest or catechist should say prayers at the victim's burial.— A CN

Debt relief appeal

NIGERIAN PRESIDENT Oluse

gun Obasanjo has pleaded for immediate debt relief for his country, saying that it is at a crucial time in its transition to democracy.

Speaking after a meeting with the head of Jubilee 2000 Africa, President Obasanjo, said: "It is morally unjustifiable for the poor people of Nigeria to suffer any longer."

Despite half of Nigeria \ 121 million population having no access to safe water, it is expected to divert over $1 billion a year from social and economic development to service international debt.

"What we are seeking from the industrialised world is not charity, but fairness," President Obasanjo said. "We also seek a fairer understanding of the plight of developing countries, especially as they struggle to enthrone truly democratic culture in their countries."




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