Catholic Essentials


Church Watch, a newsletter published by Call To Action, reports that a strong catalyst for Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz’s excommunication decree was a “sarcastic and misleading article” on the 1995 CTA National Conference in Crisis (February 1996)—”the ultra-conservative monthly whose publishers are Michael Novak and Ralph McInerny.” Mary Jo Anderson’s eye-opening article is available on the Internet at Crisis is flattered by CTA’s assessment of our influence, but we take no credit for the wise bishop’s action.


Addressing the Catholic Press Association’s annual convention in Philadelphia, Senator Bob Dole strongly attacked President Clinton’s veto of H.R. 1833, a bill that would ban partial-birth abortions. Senator Dole said that he was pro-life and opposed to abortion on demand. Although he understood that reasonable people might differ about abortion, partial-birth abortion was “an easy call.” He said, “I would vote [to override the veto] with Senator Moynihan, . . . who calls the practice ‘too close to infanticide.’ Though not a Catholic, I would listen to Pope John Paul II, who calls the practice a ‘brutal act of inhumanity.'” Dole also met privately with Anthony Cardinal Bevilacqua, archbishop of Philadelphia.


Catholic World News reported that Yoko Ono tore up a Bible and distributed the pages while trying to sing the Beatles song “Julia” in a concert in New York. After a protest from the Archdiocese of New York, Ms. Ono offered the following non-apology: “I am sorry. I did not mean to offend them by distributing the words of God.” This demonstrates questionable evangelical and pedagogical methods on the part of Ms. Ono, and dogged dedication by the archdiocese to protect the audience of Ms. Ono—whose discernment in matters spiritual may only be marginally better than in matters musical—from scandal. No group of lost (and possibly deaf) sheep is too small.


The Associated Press reported on May 26 that Pope John Paul II condemned the slayings of seven monks in Algeria, demanding that such “despicable episodes” never be repeated. The French Trappist monks were beheaded by the Armed Islamic Group, Algeria’s most militant armed faction, because France refused to free jailed militants. In France, church bells tolled across the country in memory of the monks. The monks—ages fifty-nine to eighty—were kidnapped March 27 from their monastery in the mountains about forty miles south of Algiers. The Armed Islamic Group claimed responsibility for the slayings on May 23.


The fourteenth Dalai Lama of Tibet met with the pope in Vatican City on May 20. The two men are earnestly working together to pressure the Communist Chinese to cease oppression, both of Tibet, from where the Dalai Lama was forced into exile in 1959, and of thousands of faithful Chinese Catholics who refuse to join the bogus “Patriotic Catholic Church,” a national organization controlled by the government.


Members of the American Philosophical Society and the Accademia dei Lincei met with the Holy Father on May 21. The pope took the opportunity to stress the importance of philosophical reflection and called the Church “a willing partner in that deep and respectful dialogue between science and faith.” More than this, however, he added, “there remains the task of pursuing a necessary integration of knowledge . . . to offer a truly human culture, a genuine ‘humanitas.'”


The Holy Father turned seventy-six while in Slovenia on May 18. During his two-day weekend visit there, he praised the country’s emergence from the shadow of communism, but warned of the dangers of unbridled capitalism and moral laxity. Speaking to a group of fifty thousand youths who celebrated his birthday with music and dancing, he told them that faith and love are the only means of overcoming alienation and despair. In his May 22 general audience in St. Peter’s Square, the Holy Father thanked the Slovenians for their prayers, their benevolence, and remembering his birthday.


On May 21, the Vatican asked that authorities in Oregon destroy a tape recording of the confession of alleged burglar Conan Wayne Hale. Prosecutor Doug Harcleroad surreptitiously recorded the confession Hale made to a priest protected by the sacramental seal of the confessional. Although Harcleroad has agreed not to use the tape in his prosecution, he had turned over the tape and a transcript to a judge who ordered them sealed. Harcleroad taped the confession because Hale had allegedly stolen a weapon which was later used in a triple murder in which Hale is possibly involved. Vatican spokesman Dr. Joaquin Navarro-Walls said the Church must “safeguard the right of the Catholic faithful to profess their faith.” The Vatican has urged the help of Raymond Flynn, the U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See, in this matter.

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