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January 3, 1997     The Message
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January 3, 1997

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1997 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana 13 d News 13 center, united in their shared to Christ and Bernard F. Law of James A. Hickey of Bevilac- and Adam J. publicly criti- Be Catholic," the of Cardi- initiahve, say- dialogue and tol- appeared atic Catholic It on the Cardinal , at a first meet- advisory com- H. Lip- Ala,, was named as in June U.S. bishol sacramen. a pro- for Years and is COmpleted in Port- endorsed the Burned and many sub- in rebuild mainly in the Ltly been ,iSSued a to Oregon prisoner's to a [nued exis- spite Lt it be sacra- meeting in a docu- uni- for the 1990 Catholic pas- with a prin- tholic's in of Valu_ Florida Everglades, killing 110 people, and the still-unexplained explo- sion July 17 of TWA Flight 800 over the Atlantic, killing 230. The pipe bomb set off July 27 in Atlanta's Centennial Olympic Park directly killed only one person but injured more than 100 and marred the spirit of ath- letic ideals and international friendship behind the 100-year- old modern Olympics. Violence may be an inevitable part of the news every year, but few acts so shocked the nation as the brutal Jan. 27 convent attack in Maine, in which a for- mer mental patient bludgeoned two nuns to death and maimed two others. In October the attacker, Mark Bechard, was found not criminally responsible because of insanity. The church's stand of nonvio- lence as a Gospel response to violence found witness in numerous ways in 1996, espe- cially in relation to capital pun- ishment. The movie "Dead Man Walk- ing," dramatizing the real-life death row ministry of St. Joseph Sister Helen Prejean, earned Susan Sarandon a "best actress" Oscar at the Academy Awards. Sister Prejean spoke on non- violence and described her work in numerous speeches and inter- views around the country and received Notre Dame Universi- ty's Laetare Medal for her work. At the state and local level many bishops stated their oppo- sition to the use 9 f capital pun- ishment and appealed for clemency when a prisoner in their area was about to be exe- cuted. Shortly before his own death Cardinal Bernardin visit- ed a man facing execution for multiple murders. He told the victims' families that his com- passion for the killer did not mean he condoned the man's crimes. Pope John Paul was among religious leaders who pleaded in vain for the life of two men exe- cuted by firing squad in Guatemala in September. Violence struck church per- sonnel dramatically in Africa during the year, beginning in early January when two mis- sionary nuns from the United States and Canada were brutal- ly murdered in Ghana. Two nuns were killed in Rwanda March 27 when their car hit an anti-tank mine. In Algeria, seven French Trappist monks were kidnapped by Islamic extremists in March and killed two months later, and the bishop of Oran and his chauf- feur were killed by a gasoline bomb in August. In Burundi an archbishop and two nuns were murdered in a car ambush in September. The following month an archbishop was killed in Zaire during fighting between rebels and government forces. In August Sudanese rebels released five Catholic mission- aries and a Sudanese priest after holding them captive for two weeks. Civil strife in several African countries cost thousands of lives in 1996. In April the U.S. mili- tary evacuated 1,600 people from Monrovia, Liberia, as war- ring factions fought, looted and burned throughout the city. In Burundi, after months of ethnic fighting in which scores to hundreds of civilians were massacred on several occasions, the Tutsi-dominated military seized power from the country's Hutu majority coalition govern- ment in a coup July 25. Inter- national agencies reported in August that more than 2,000 people had been killed in the months preceding the coup and some 6,000 in the three weeks after. During the months of fighting tens of thousands of Rwandan Hutus in Burundi refugee camps fled to Tanzania or were forcibly returned to Rwanda. In Zaire, a sudden October flare-up between Zairean forces and Tutsi settlers threatened to topple Zaire's already weak gov- ernment and forcedhundreds of thousands ofRwandan Hutus to flee refugee camps in Eastern Zaire. The threat of massive starvation and disease brought papal pleas for immediate aid and a flurry of international efforts to meet the crisis. The Middle East peace process, dramatically altered since the November 1995 assas- sination of Israeli Prime Minis- ter Yitzhak Rabin, came almost to a standstill in 1996 as numer- ous new obstacles arose.. The year opened with a sweeping victory for Yasser Arafat and the peace process as Palestinian voters conducted their first-ever democratic elec- tions for a president and leg- islative council. But in late Feb- ruary and early March suicide bomb attacks by Palestinian extremists killed more than 50 people. In April, artillery attacks on northern Israeli settlements by Hezbollah militants in south- ',NS) e quotes 1996. death as an that he Cancer). he Ken- homily rdin's Ose that I ern Lebanon brought Israeli counterattacks, including one which accidentally killed more than 100 refugees at a camp in Lebanon. In June Israelis narrowly elected Benjamin Netanyahu as their new prime minister. Nego- tiations on the status of Jerusalem were delayed and negotiations over issues of Palestinian self-rule came to a virtual halt amid new tensions. In September Netanyahu and Arafat met and agreed to renew negotiations. In Bosnia-Herzegovina, in the wake of the 1995 Dayton accords and Paris peace treaty, U.S. and other North Atlantic Treaty Organization troops in January oversaw the withdraw- al of opposing forces from a 1,000-mile-long cease-fire line. Despite ongoing tensions, the Bosnian peace permitted the beginning of war crime arrests, indictments and trials to deal with charges of systematic rape, murder and ethnic cleansing during the region's four-year civil war. In September Bosnia- Herzegovina held its first inter- nationally supervised national elections. Local elections were delayed to a later date. After months of stalemate the tenuous peace process in North- ern Ireland suffered another set- back in February when the Irish Republican Army broke an 18- month cease-fire with new ter- rorist bomb attacks in England. In December the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to two East Timorese human rights Hemisphere, retired July 29. The next day the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate divided his two-continent juris- diction into four metropoli- tanates and elected Archbishop Spyridon to succeed him in the New York-based Archdiocese of America, encompassing the United States. Pope John Paul placed anoth- er American high in Vatican ranks in August when he named Denver's Archbishop J. Francis Stafford to head the Pontifical Council for the Laity. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas -- who as a youth quit studying for the Catholic priesthood because of racism in the seminary and who became an Episcopalian as an adult -- announced in June that he has returned to the Catholic Church. Prominent Catholics who died during the year included: -- Former French President Francois Mitterand. Former California Gov. Edmund G. "Pat" Brown. -- Edmund S. Muskie, former Maine governor, U.S. senator and U.S. secretary of state. -- Former CIA Director William E. Colby. -- Humor columnist Erma Bombeck. -- Playwright and drama crit- ic Walter Kerr. -- Dutch-born spiritual writer Father Henri Nouwen. -- U.S. Servite Father Lawrence M. Jenco, who in the 1980s survived 19 months of Muslim extremists leaders, Bishop Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo of Dill and Jose Ramos-Horta, highlighted the long human rights struggle in East Timor since Indonesia annexed the predominantly Catholic former Portuguese colony in 1976. Among important transitions in the religious world in 1996 was the retirement in June of another Nobel Peace laureate, Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu, as archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa. The world- renowned anti-apartheid leader continues to head the national Truth and Reconciliation Com- mission establishedby the post- apartheid government to inves- tigate human rights violations by under the former white- minority regime. Greek Orthodox Archbishop Iakovos of North and South America, for 37 years the chief Orthodox leader in the Western Notable quotes in 1996 "Relativism has thus become the central problem for the faith at the present time." -- Cardi- nal Joseph Ratzinger (prefect of the Congregation for the Doc- trine of the Faith, in a speech Sept. 16 to bishops from mission territories). again, happy thieves, in par- adise, should it please God? -- Trappist Father Christian- Marie de Cherge, martyred in Algeria (to his killers, in a let- ter written and sealed nearly three years earlier in anticipa- tion of such a death). "For religious liberty to be fully free, there must be respect for religion's public role as well as for the individual's private conscience." -- Bishop Anthony M. Pilla of Cleveland (in presi- dential address on church and politics June 20 to National Conference of Catholic Bishops). "May we meet each other "There is no more slope left. We have now hit rock bottom in our care and concern for the value of human life in our coun- try? -- Cardinal Roger M. Mahony (after federal court rul- ing that physician-assisted sui- cide is a constitutional right). "Mr. President., you and you alone had the choice of whether acute heart failure, before her doctor persuaded her to undergo life-saving angioplasty), "Today . . . new knowledge leads to the recognition of the theory of evolution as more than a hypothesis." -- Pope John Paul II (in a message on Chris- tian faith and evolution Oct. 22 to the Pontifical Academy of Sci- ences). "Liberation theology was somewhat a Marxist ideology. Today, following the fall of com- munism, liberation theology has fhllen a little, too." -- Pope John !sa of Cal_ Paul II (to journalists while fly- 22 tbr ing to Central America Feb. 5). Worlock. -- Italian Cardinal Mario Luigi Ciappi, theological adviser to five popes. -- Canadian Ukrainian-rite Archbishop Maxim Hermaniuk. --Algerian Cardinal Leon- Etienne Duval, a pioneer in Catholic- Muslim dialogue. Public scandals affecting the church in 1996 included two involving bishops: -- Canadian Bishop Hubert O'Connor was sentenced to a year-and- a-half in prison for rape and assault against young native women 30 years ago when he was a priest. -- Scottish Bishop Roderick Wright resigned as bishop of Argyll and The Isles after he dis- appeared for a week with a divorced woman and it was revealed that he had a teen-age son by another woman. or not to allow children, almost completely born, to be killed brutally in partial-birth abor. tions? - Eight U.S. cardinals and the head of the bishops' con- ference (to President Clinton fol- lowing his claLm that he "had no choice but to veto  the Partial. Birth Abortion Ban Act.) "I think the squirrels would have been toast if the observa- tory wasn't there." -- Jesuit Father Chris Corbally (May 9, on how; in saving the Vatican telescope on Mount Graham from a massive forest fire. fire- fighters also saved the endan- gered squirrels that. live only there !.