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January 2, 1998     The Message
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January 2, 1998

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8 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana  i? < .i "ii!i!ii i iiiiiiiiii:!!'iii!i!i!i! iiiiii!iiiiiiiiii: iiili il : i!ii! ii ! :i:iiiii/i!ii iiii !!ii!!!:iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiZiiili:iiiiii!i:i if!i! !i!i il !!i7i!!i!iii!iiii/ii!i!iiii!iiiiiiiiiiiii!ii Continued from page 1 lems of religious freedom in the only communist nation in the West. As the year was drawing to a close, he presided over the Nov. 16-Dec. 12 Synod of Bishops for America. It was the second in a series of regional synods he is con- vening in Rome to revitalize Catholic identity world- wide at the end of the 20th century and prepare the church to enter the third millennium with a new com- mitment to evangelization. The African synod was held in 1994. Synods for" Europe, Asia and Oceania u Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific-- are to be held within the next two years. The Americas synod addressed issues ranging from evangelization and religious formation in a secular cul- ture to marriage, family life and vocations, from parish life and the role of women in the church to indigenous peoples, economic justice, the rich-poor gap and the debilitating impact of external debt on poor countries. In preparation for the millen- nium Pope John Paul set as key themes the new evangelization, Christian unity and a restoration of justice, with a special focus on relief of Third World debt in the jubilee year 2000. His invitation to discuss ways the exercise of his ministry might be adapted to a new situation, so that it could better serve the unity of all the Christian churches, continued to spark discussions of the papacy both within the church and with other churches. The pope's frequent talks on Mary at his weekly audi- ences helped fuel rumors -- bluntly denied by Vatican officials -- that he was about to issue a new dogmatic definition giving Mary the title of "Co-Redemptrix." Challenges to church teaching about Mary were among the reasons cited by the Vatican's doctrinal con- gregation when it declared in January that Father Tissa Balasuriya,a 72'year-old Oblate theologian from Sri Lanka, had excommunicated himself by refusing to retract heretical teachings. The congregation said he also held heretical views on original sin, papal infallibility and Christ's role in salvation. He claimed the heretical elements of which he was accused were injected in English translations of his work. Catholic-Orthodox relations suffered several setbacks in 1997. In June the pope sought a first-ever meeting in Aus- tria with Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexei II of Moscow. Ecumenical Greek Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople reacted with a boycott of the European Ecumenical Assembly that was to fol- low. That caused Patriarch Alexei to cancel the meet- ing with the pope. Then Patriarch Bartholomew canceled the usual June 29 visit of high Orthodox officials to Rome for the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul. When the patriarch visited the United States in the fall, his schedule included a number of ecumenical events. In a major speech on ecumenism at Georgetown University he raised up Christian unity as a goal but warned that the churches of East and West seem head- ed toward "an everlasting separation." 300lr_d 3 Y_o.r td00eKt r _eJi_e.f ............. The pope's call for Third World debt relief for the jubilee year 2000 was echoed by many other religious and humanitarian groups. Debates swirled around the respective responsibili- ties of debtor nations, creditor nations and international institutions like the World Bank and International Mon- etary Fund in breaking the poverty cycle of heavily indebted poor countries. non!andmines ......................................................................... Many campaigning for debt relief for the world's poor- est nations were heartened by the striking success of the campaign to ban anti-personnel land mines, which like- wise began as an advocat:y effort of humanitarian and religious groups and then burgeoned into a populist movement that swayed governments to take action. The anti-mine movement spread rapidly in 1997 as a series of conferences in Austria, Belgium and Nor- way followedup on a Canadian initiative to draft an international treaty definitively banning such devices. The tragic death in a high-speed car chase of Princess Diana, who had lent her voice to the land-mine cam- paign, not only provoked a debate over the ethics of paparazzi invading the private lives of celebrities, but it gave the anti-mine movement a new level of world attention. The campaign reached its peak in December when more than 120 nations signed a ban treaty in Ottawa and the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the Inter- national Campaign to Ban Landmines and its coordi- nator, Jody Williams. With the U.S. government refusing to join in the treaty, the U.S. Catholic Conference and a coalition of other national Catholic organizations embarked on a nationwide effort to mobilize Catholics in their parish- T successful cloning of a sheep announced in Scotland in February brought a new round of public debate over the ethics of cloning humans. es to pray and work for a land mine ban. Partial-birth abortion ban Catholics in the United States faced a number of other issues where U.S. policy and religious or moral concerns intersected. For the second straight year Congress passed a national partial-birth abortion ban and President Clin- ton vetoed it, despite the fact that in 1997 the Ameri- can Medical Association endorsed a ban. At least 15 states enacted a ban on the procedure in 1997 and sev- eral others considered such legislation. There were numerous ongoing struggles on abortion policy or abortion funding in Congress, state legisla- tures and courts. In February the Supreme Court upheld the notion of a fixed "buffer zone" between abortion clinics and pro- testers but rejected floating zones that would keep pro- testers away from people approaching clinics as well. In November the U.S. bishops approved a statement lamenting the "unimaginable tragedy" of legalized abortion in the quarter-century since the Supreme Court's January 1973 decisions and urging U.S. Catholics to "do even more for life." ed States was especially highlighted by two! One was the conviction and Timothy McVeigh for the 1995 bombing! homa City federal building in which 168 The other was the electrocution of Pedro Florida during which a malfunction in caused Medina's head to burst into Paul was among those who had earlier Medina's life to be spared. ;'; The Supreme Court took the reversing one of its own ited the issue of federally poor children in classrooms of reli In 1985 it called such programs in 1997 it said they meet In the intervening 12 years, taxpayer dollars were spent 1 school sites and transportation to s schools who were entitled to the barred from receiving it where they went t The Supreme Court also struck down a designed to protect children from material on the Intemet. In another ruling unconstitutional the Religious Freedom! Act, a 1993 federal law aimed riers against federal and state intrusion on cise of religion. World issues Religious freedom abroad faced more Russia enacted a restrictive law a dox Christian churches, with the Orthodox Church officials pope and protests b 3 ical leaders. Catholic leaders loyal to Rome continuedt secution in China, where England's Hong Kong ended July I with a nese rule. The U.S. visit of Chinese. Zemin brought protests from advocates religious rights, but congressional efforts tO ! most-favored-nation trade status failed. The U.S. State Department issued a ing religious freedom violations in 78 the world, including several Islamic ha! Christians' religious rights were denied. mittee held hearings on a bill that would nomic sanctions on nations which religious persecution. Violations of religious rights in ern Europe were criticized in a Discussion on cloning hearing on the issue in September. ........................................................................................................................................... In South Africa, still emerging from The successful cloning of a sheep announced in Scot- land in February brought a new round of public debate over the ethics of cloning humans. The Clinton administration proposed leg- islation that would bar cloning human babies but allow scientists to carry out cloning experiments with human embryos as long as they were not aimed at producing babies. Church officials including Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, head of the Vatican's doc- trinal congregation, repudiated human cloning and embryo experimentation as immoral. n and law At the other end of life's spectrum, Amer- ica's growing use of the death penalty brought objections to capital punishment from numerous U.S. bishops. The Massachusetts Legislature defeated reinstatement of capital punishment by a one-vote margin. Cardinal Bernard E Law of Boston praised legislators for voting their conscience in the face of a "lynch mob" mentality of popular support for the death penalty. The Vatican's new definitive edition of the "Catechism of the Catholic Church" said that cases in which execution of criminals could be justified today "are very rare, if not practically nonexistent." Attention to the death penalty in the Unit- decades of apartheid or stric report to the Truth and Reconciliation. See BIGG Needed for 368 family parish. New Will focus on implementation of education programs for pre-school ages. Looking for self-starter, organizer and team worker. Qualifications: BNBS, experience education/theology preferred. or other formal training and expe be considered. Available prior to en 98 school year. Send resume, requests for more information to: DRE Search Holy Cross Church c/o Scott Scheller 805 E. Strain St. Ft. Branch, IN 47648