"...and all the world wondered after the beast" Revelation 13:3

Ex Jesuit Priest Alberto Rivera states... "The main underlying Roman Catholic purpose is to infiltrate, and penetrate all the areas of life, were the Roman Catholic Church can have control with excess in a One World Government. ...this have been in preparation especially since the formation of the Jesuit order in 1541 to infiltrate absolutely every area of society so as to take over the world politically and religiously. The two main doctrines of Catholicism that define this are... The doctrine of the Apostolic succession, which is actually the Papacy. And the  doctrine of temporal power which is secular government.  The office of Pope illustrates this easily... The Pope is the head of the Church as well as the head of the State of Rome."

The only hope for this western world is an alliance between the Roman Catholic church which is the most commonly, influential, controlling, unifying, element, in Europe and the western orthodox church. ...The only hope for the western world lies then in a united Europe under the control of the Pope. -Charles Malik former president general assembly of the united nations. Ambassador to the U.S. from Lebanon.

Not only is it prophetically of the Beast of Revelation to look for this "One World Church" It is also totally against the Word of God to do as the Popeis doing...

2 Corinthians 6:17, "Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,"
2 John 1:9-10, "Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed:"

"State of the World Forum" to advance "GLOBAL GOVERNANCE" for everyone 

United Nations needs overhaul, panel says  

Clinton mandates multilingual America  

List of Participants at UN Millennium Summit  


Global Church gaining popularity  

Numerous different churches write President Clinton Letter  

Mideast negotiators propose putting God in charge  


'Jerusalem should be a unified world capital'  

Globalization Tops Agenda for World Leaders at U.N. Summit  

Religious leaders present UN with peace declaration  

World religious leaders seek elusive peace  





Religious leaders unite to save environment  


Muslims and Catholics in the United States looking for unity  

U.N. Faithful Eye Global Religion


Orthodox patriarch and Pope pray together







Pope, Queen Speak of Christian Unity

Pope calls for bolder dialogue between religions   

``Seventeen Million Syrians Could be Considered Christians,''  

Israel weighs international control over Temple Mount  

Jewish scholars and rabbis are extending a hand to Christians.  

Catholics and Protestants Appeal for Peace in Indonesia 

Cardinal Arinze's Message to Muslims at End of Ramadan

Cuba's Eucharistic Congress a First Under Castro

Cardinal Etchegaray Meets Patriarch Alexis II

New Yugoslavian President Meets With Pope

Kazakhstan Invites Pope to Visit in June






7 Aug-2000 -- EWTN Pro-Family News 



* International leaders from government, business and civil society will meet in New York for seven days in September to muse about mankind and his future.  Founded in 1995 by former Soviet Communist leader Mikhail Gorbachev, the "State of the World Forum" meets regularly to advance a bundle of mostly far left ideas.


*The State of the World Forum "was founded with the explicit purpose of gathering together the creative genius of the human family, its elders and innovators, in a search for solutions to the critical challenges facing humanity in the 21st century."  Organizers call it "a powerful common evolutionary enterprise for our species."


* Three main principles drive the State of the World Forum; "ecological sustainability" as opposed to the "generation of wealth," "global governance" rather than "national sovereignty," and  "compassionate society" as opposed to the "global flow of capital."


* What is most striking about the Forum is the long list of international heavyweights who participate.  Even conservatives have turned up, such as former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, former US National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brezinski, and new Mexican President Vincente Fox.  Sprinkled with world leaders has been a large number of New Age proponents, including author Marianne Williamson, guru Deepok Chopra, and "mythologist" Jean Houston.


* The seven-day meeting beginning in New York on September 4 is intended to coincide with a number of other important conferences attached to the United Nations.  The UN will convene a Millennium Summit of up to 150 heads of state and the World Peace Summit of religious and spiritual leaders meets just before the Forum begins.


* This State of the World Forum will address "Shaping Globalization:  Convening the Community of Stakeholders."  Forum organizers contend the violent riots that occurred during the last meeting of the World Trade Organization in Seattle last December highlighted "the inadequacies of the current system of global governance."  This session of the State of the World Forum is being pitched as a "global town meeting in which the private sector and civil society can come together for substantive dialogue with selected heads of state."  Speakers include Earth Council Institute Chairman Maurice Strong, UN Population Fund Executive Director Nafis Sadik, and Haitian President Jean Bertand-Aristide.


* The Forum will feature major sessions on business, children, education, sustainable development, globalization, global governance, global security, health, science and spirituality, and social development.  While the Forum is viewed as a democratic meeting, it is unlikely that most people will have ever heard of the terms "global governance" and "sustainable development."  It is also unlikely that most people have ever heard of those from civil society who will represent them at these meetings.  At some point it is likely that large new programs and new laws will evolve from the State of the World Forum and other such bodies.


Copyright -C-FAM

To view the entire article, visit

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United Nations needs overhaul, panel says

By EDITH M. LEDERER, Associated Press

UNITED NATIONS (August 23, 2000 12:58 p.m. EDT - The United Nations will face more peacekeeping failures in the 21st century without major overhaul, according to an international panel. The panel called Wednesday for the equivalent of a U.N. ministry of defense to bolster the world body.

The panel of experts was appointed by Secretary-General Kofi Annan to look at U.N. peacekeeping operations after highly critical reports on the U.N. performance in the 1994 Rwanda genocide and the 1995 fall of the U.N.-protected enclave of Srebrenica, which led to the massacre of thousands of Bosnian Muslims.

The 10-member panel did not endorse a United Nations army, but it did encourage the 188 U.N. member states to form several brigade-size forces of 5,000 troops each that could deploy in 30 to 90 days, depending on the complexity of the U.N. peacekeeping operation.

The United Nations must have "the tools" to address any conflict situation - from prevention to actual enforcement - and at the moment it doesn't have the headquarters staff, the troops, money, or the information to properly analyze and plan strategically, said former Algerian Foreign Minister Lakhdar Brahimi, who chaired the panel.

"I very, very much hope the member countries are going to put their money where their mouth has been if they really believe in this organization," Brahimi told a news conference launching the report.

The 58-page report called for a substantially larger, modernized, high-tech U.N. peacekeeping department in New York staffed by well-trained military professionals who use information technology and plan operations with a U.N. team including political, human rights, development and election experts. It did not give a price tag.

At the moment, the panel said, just 32 officers at U.N. headquarters are responsible for 27,000 U.N. troops from 20 countries scattered across the globe in 14 peacekeeping operations - a staff that no national government would tolerate. Similarly, it said, more than 8,600 civilian police are deployed in U.N. missions with a headquarters staff of only nine civilian police.

"This is clearly not acceptable," Brahimi said. "This has got to change."

The report said the need for changes in U.N. peace operations has become even more urgent following the hostage-taking of 500 U.N. peacekeepers by rebels in Sierra Leone in May, and the prospect of expanded U.N. peacekeeping operations in Congo.

Annan asked the panel to make recommendations to improve prospects for peace in the 21st century, which he wants world leaders to consider at the upcoming Sept. 6-8 Millennium Summit at U.N. headquarters in New York.

The historic meeting presents a unique opportunity to begin renewing the United Nations' capacity "to secure and build peace," the secretary-general said in letters asking the Security Council and General Assembly to circulate the report to U.N. member states.

In examining U.N. peacekeeping, the panel recalled that the organization was founded after the devastation of World War II in order "to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war" - and it stressed that meeting this challenge was the yardstick that the peoples of the world still use to judge the United Nations.

"Over the last decade, the United Nations has repeatedly failed to meet the challenge, and it can do no better today," the report concluded.

Panel members said that consent of the parties, impartiality, and use of force only in self-defense "should remain the bedrock principles of peacekeeping." But they stressed that in the case of obvious aggressors and victims "peacekeepers may not only be operationally justified in using force but morally compelled to do so."

"No failure did more to damage the standing and credibility of United Nations peacekeeping in the 1990s than its reluctance to distinguish victim from aggressor," panelists stressed.

In the future, the panel said, U.N. military forces must be capable of responding to such challenges - which means bigger, better equipped, and more costly missions with the authority to use force. It also means radical changes in U.N. procurement to facilitate rapid deployments.

"Without renewed commitment on the part of member states, significant institutional change and increased financial support, the United Nations will not be capable of executing the critical peacekeeping and peace-building tasks that the member states assign to it in coming months and years," the panel said.

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Thursday, August 24, 2000
Clinton mandates multilingual America
Executive order says programs must be offered in foreign languages
by Jon E. Dougherty

A new Executive Order signed by President Clinton, requiring federal agencies to provide "programs and activities normally provided in English" to non-English-speaking residents, will effectively elevate the inability to speak English as "a protected civil right," say critics.
The order, signed Aug. 11 while Clinton was in Los Angeles preparing to attend the Democratic National Convention, is listed as  EO 13166,  and was entered into the Federal Register Aug. 16.
Titled, "Improving Access to Services For Persons With Limited English Proficiency," the order calls on the federal government "to improve access to federally conducted and federally assisted programs and activities for persons who, as a result of national origin, are limited in their English proficiency (LEP)."
The order requires that the "Federal Government provides and funds an array of services that can be made accessible to otherwise eligible persons who are not proficient in the English language. To this end, each Federal agency shall examine the services it provides and develop and implement a system by which LEP persons can meaningfully access those services consistent with, and without unduly burdening, the fundamental mission of the agency."
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Participants at Millennium Summit

World leaders scheduled to attend the Millennium Summit, according to a list released by the United Nations.


Afghanistan, President Burhanuddin Rabbani

Albania, President Rexhep Meidani

Algeria, President Abdelaziz Bouteflika

Argentina, President Fernando de la Rua

Armenia, President Robert Kocharian

Austria, President Thomas Klestil

Azerbaijan, President Geidar Aliyev

Bahamas, Gov.-Gen. Orville Turnquest

Belarus, President Alexander Lukashenko

Benin, President Mathieu Kerekou

Bolivia, President Hugo Banzer

Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bosnian Muslim President Alija Izetbegovic

Botswana, President Festus Mogae

Brunei, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah

Bulgaria, President Petar Stoyanov

Cameroon, President Paul Biya

Cape Verde, Antonio Mascarenhas Monteiro

Chile, President Ricardo Lagos

China, President Jiang Zemin

Colombia, President Andres Pastrana

Comoros, Col. Azali Assoumane

Republic of Congo, Denis Sassou-Nguesso

Costa Rica, President Miguel Angel Rodriguez

Croatia, President Stipe Mesic

Cuba, President Fidel Castro

Cyprus, President Glafcos Clerides

Czech Republic, President Vaclav Havel

Djibouti, President Ismael Omar Guelleh

Dominican Republic, Hipolito Mejia

Ecuador, President Gustavo Noboa

El Salvador, President Francisco Flores

Equatorial Guinea, President Teodoro Obiang

Eritrea, President Isaias Afwerki

Finland, President Tarja Halonen

France, President Jacques Chirac

Gabon, President Omar Bongo

Gambia, President Yahya Jammeh

Georgia, President Eduard Shevardnadze

Ghana, President Jerry Rawlings

Guatemala, President Alfonso Portillo

Guinea Bissau, President Kumba Yala

Guyana, President Bharrat Jagdeo

Haiti, President Rene Preval

Honduras, President Carlos Flores Facusse

Hungary, President Ferenc Madl

Indonesia, President Abdurrahman Wahid

Iran, President Mohammad Khatami

Jordan, King Abdullah

Kazakhstan, President Nursultan Nazarbayev

Kenya, President Daniel arap Moi

Kiribati, President Teburo Tito

Latvia, President Vaira Vike-Freiberga

Lithuania, President Valdas Adamkus

Madagascar, President Didier Ratsiraka

Malawi, President Bakili Muluzi

Maldives, President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom

Mali, President Alpha Oumar Konare

Marshall Islands, Kessai Note

Mauritania, President Mawa Ould Sid Ahmed Taya

Mexico, President Ernesto Zedillo

Micronesia, President Leo Falcam

Mongolia, President Natsagiin Bagabandi

Mozambique, President Joaquim Chissano

Namibia, President Sam Nujoma

Nauru, Bernard Dowiyogo

Nicaragua, President Arnoldo Aleman

Nigeria, President Olusegun Obasanjo

Norway, King Harald V

Peru, President Alberto Fujimori

Philippines, President Joseph Estrada

Poland, Aleksander Kwasniewski

Qatar, Emir Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani

South Korea, President Kim Dae-jung

Moldova, President Petru Lucinschi

Romania, President Emil Constantinescu

Russia, President Vladimir Putin

Rwanda, President Paul Kagame

St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Gov.-Gen. Charles Antrobus

San Marino, Maria Domenica Michelotti and Gian Marco Marcucci

Sao Tome and Principe, President Miguel Trovoada

Senegal, President Abdoulaye Wade

Sierra Leone, President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah

Slovenia, President Milan Kucan

Somalia, President Abdiqasim Salad Hassan

South Africa, President Thabo Mbeki

Sudan, President Omar el-Bashir

Swaziland, King Mswati III

Tajikistan, President Emomali Rakhmonov

Macedonia, President Boris Trajkovski

Togo, President Gnassingbe Eyadema

Tunisia, President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali

Turkey, President Ahmet Necdet Sezer

Uganda, President Yoweri Museveni

Ukraine, President Leonid Kuchma

United States, President Clinton

Uruguay, President Jorge Ibanez

Uzbekistan, President Islam Karimov

Venezuela, President Hugo Chavez

Vietnam, President Tran Duc Luong

Yemen, President Ali Abdullah Saleh

Zambia, President Frederick Chiluba

Zimbabwe, President Robert Mugabe


Andorra, Marc Forne Molne

Antigua and Barbuda, Premier Lester Bird

Australia, Prime Minister John Howard

Bangladesh, Prime Minister Sheik Hasina

Belgium, Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt

Belize, Prime Minister Said Musa

Bhutan, King Jigme Singye Wangchuk

Cambodia, Prime Minister Hun Sen

Canada, Prime Minister Jean Chretien

Chad, Premier Nagoum Yamassoum

Denmark, Prime Minister Poul Nyrup Rasmussen

Dominica, Prime Minister Roosevelt Douglas

Estonia, Prime Minister Mart Laar

Ethiopia, Prime Minister Meles Zinawi

Germany, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder

Greece, Premier Costas Simitis

Grenada, Prime Minister Keith Mitchell

Guinea, Prime Minister Lamine Sidime

Iceland, Prime Minister David Oddsson

India, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee

Ireland, Prime Minister Bertie Ahern

Israel, Prime Minister Ehud Barak

Italy, Premier Giuliano Amato

Jamaica, Prime Minister Percival J. Patterson

Japan, Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori

Lesotho, Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili

Liechtenstein, Prime Minister Mario Frick

Malta, Prime Minister Edward Fenech Adami

Nepal, Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala

Netherlands, Prime Minister Wim Kok

New Zealand, Prime Minister Helen Clark

Pakistan, Gen. Pervez Musharraf

Papua New Guinea, Prime Minister Sir Mekere Morauta

Portugal, Prime Minister Antonio Guterres

Saint Lucia, Prime Minister Kenny Anthony

St. Kitts and Nevis, Prime Minister Denzil Douglas

Singapore, Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong

Slovakia, Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda

Spain, Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar

Sweden, Prime Minister Goeran Persson

Tonga, Prince Ulukalala Lavaka Ata

Trinidad and Tobago, Prime Minister Basdeo Panday

Tuvalu, Prime Minister Ionatana Ionatana

United Kingdom, Prime Minister Tony Blair

Vanuatu, Prime Minister Barak Sope


Holy See, Cardinal Angelo Sodano

Switzerland, President Adolf Ogi

Palestinian Authority, President Yasser Arafat


Monaco, Prince Albert

Morocco, Prince Moulay Rachid

Saudi Arabia, Prince Abdullah


Brazil, Marco Maciel

Panama, Arturo Vallarino, first vice president

Paraguay, Julio Cesar Franco

Suriname, Jules Ajodhia

United Arab Emirates, Sheik Hamad Bin Mohammad Al-Sharqi


Barbados, Deputy Prime Minister Billie Miller

Iraq, Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz

Laos, Deputy Prime Minister Somsavat Lengsavad

Luxembourg, Deputy Prime Minister Lydie Polfer


Angola, Foreign Minister Joao Miranda

Bahrain, Sheik Mohammed bin Mubarak Al Khalifa

Burundi, Severin Ntahomvukiye

Central African Republic, Foreign Minister Marcel Metefara

Democratic Republic of the Congo, Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Yerodia

Egypt, Foreign Minister Amr Moussa

Ivory Coast, Foreign Minister Charles Providence Gomis

Kuwait, Foreign Minister Sheik Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah

Kyrgystan, Foreign Minister Muratbek Imanaliev

Liberia, Foreign Minister Monie Captan

Libya, Foreign Minister Abdel-Rahman Shalqam

Malaysia, Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar

Myanmar, Foreign Minister Win Aung

Niger, Foreign Minister Sabo Nassirou

Oman, Minister for National Heritage and Culture Faisal bin Ali bin Faisal al Said

Sri Lanka, Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar

Syria, Foreign Minister Farouk al-Shara

Tanzania, Foreign Minister Jakaya Kikwete

Thailand, Foreign Minister Surin Pitsuwan

Turkmenistan, Foreign Minister Batyr Berdyev


Burkina Faso, U.N. Ambassador Michel Kafando

Lebanon, U.N. Ambassador Selim Tadmoury

Mauritius, U.N. Ambassador Anund P. Neewoor

Palau, U.S. Ambassador Hersey Kyota

Samoa, U.N. Ambassador Tuiloma Neroni Slade

Seychelles, U.N. Ambassador Claude Morel

Solomon Islands, Deputy U.N. Ambassador Jeremiah Manele

AP-ES-09-06-00 2317EDT

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7-Sep-2000 -- EWTN Vatican Update       




VATICAN, Sept. 7 ( -- As he received a new ambassador from Egypt on September 7, Pope John Paul II acknowledged that the peace process in the Middle East has fallen on difficult times.


As he accepted the diplomatic credentials of Farouk Hussein Raffat, the Holy Father praised Egypt for its "central" role in "the search for a just and lasting peace in the Middle East."  He said that the search must continue, and urged new efforts to address "the many problems that have not yet  been resolved, which have a profound impact on that unstable region." "The Church is deeply interested" in the peace process, the Pontiff continued, although the role of the Church is different from that of civil governments.  The role of religions, he explained, is "to educate consciences to the principles and the truths that are the foundation of the welfare of individuals and of societies."


Switching his focus, the Pope then spoke of the joy he had felt when he visited Egypt in February.  During the Jubilee year, he said, it has been "a great grace for me to visit the sites that have a vital importance in the religious history of the world."  He cited Mount Sinai as one such important site.


Pope John Paul also alluded to his visit with Sheikh Mohammed Sayed Tantawi, the leading Muslim authority in Egypt.  That visit had helped to reinforce the "common desire for a new period of religious dialogue" between Christians and Muslims he said.  The Pontiff added that in an era marked by violence, it is particularly appalling that believers of different faiths are often pitted against each other in "bitter conflicts."  Religious leaders, he said, have a "solemn duty to ensure that religious sentiments are never used as an excuse for hatred and war, particularly when religious identity coincides with cultural and ethnic identity."

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Global Church gaining popularity

C U R R E N T N E W S S U M M A R Y by the Editors of ReligionToday September 7, 2000 

Conservative and liberal religious organizations are talking about forming a new broad-based national ecumenical body that would work together on common social causes. The National Association of Evangelicals (see link #1 below) and National Council of Churches (see link #2 below) are considering realigning and forming a third group, according to the Los Angeles Times (see link #3 below).
...A summit of leaders from a broad range of Christian denominations probably will be held next spring, according to the Times. Leaders of the National Council of Churches are working on ideas to bring other churches together for such a meeting. Kevin Mannoia of the National Association of Evangelicals and John Hotchkin of the Catholic ecumenical affairs office in Washington said their organizations probably would participate.
..."The block walls are coming down and giving way to picket fences," Mannoia told the Times. "The old compartmentalized segmentation of the church is giving way to a new sense of vision and mission and presence of God in America." The financially troubled NCC voted earlier this year to disband over the next three years if a new broad-based church group is formed, said Robert Edgar, the council's general secretary. Also, the NAE has removed the rule prohibiting churches that are affiliated with the NCC from also joining the evangelical group.
...Evangelicals are "rediscovering the integration of social holiness and personal holiness," Mannoia said. Churches that join the evangelical group still must subscribe to its statement of faith, which says that Jesus Christ is the son of God and that the Bible is "the inspired, the only infallible, authoritative word of God."

North and South Korean Christians are praying for reunification of their countries. The South Korean National Council of Churches, in agreement with the North Korean Christian Federation, has published a prayer guide that all Koreans can follow in praying for reconciliation, idea, the news agency of the German Evangelical Alliance, reported.
...One prayer calls on God to "unite those who are separated" and to "make us instruments of our own reunification and let us tear down all material and spiritual walls that separate us." Both church groups favor an end to the hostilities that have divided the countries since the Korean War.
...Religious life is vastly different in the two countries. The South has 17 million Christians, about 38 percent of its population, idea reported. The communist North recognizes only two Christian churches and says there are about 12,000 Christians. There are an estimated 500 underground house churches with 90,000 members, but they are harshly persecuted.

The U.S. government has named the usual culprits in its report on religious freedom. China, Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Afghanistan, and Myanmar head the list of countries that violate freedom of religion in a State Department report released Sept. 5, Reuters reported. Communist China has taken a hard line on all kinds of religious expression, while the others persecute religious minorities, according to the report.
...Longtime U.S. allies France and Germany came under criticism for laws that restrict religious minorities, including fundamentalist sects. The report lists a variety of sanctions that can be taken against the offending governments.
..."Not just intolerance but extreme forms of persecution are on the rise in a number of countries," said Nina Shea of Freedom House (see link #4 below), a group that advocates for religious rights, commenting on the report.

Attendance increased this year at Burning Man, an annual blasphemous and anarchistic revelry held in the Nevada desert.
The anything-goes five-day party, billed as a celebration of art and radical self-expression, drew 25,000 people from 40 states and 20 countries, according to news reports.
...Drug use is tolerated and clothing is optional at the counterculture festival. The climax is the ceremonial torching of a 52-foot-high wooden man for whom the event is named. After a solemn, freakish procession marches up to the statue, the cheering crowd dances in painted skin and loincloths and screams in ecstasy, according to Christian missions researcher George Otis, Jr., (see link #5 below) who reported from Burning Man four years ago.
...Otis said the event was thoroughly pagan and filled with horror. He said he saw people dressed as demons performing pagan rituals, men and women dancing nude before fiery idols, and revelers daring God to consume them with brimstone. The final procession around the Burning Man celebrates the knowledge that all the dancers will enter hell one day, Otis said.

Siamese twins pose an ethical dilemma for Catholic parents. A court in London has ruled that the 3-week-old twins, known only as Jodie and Mary, should be separated in order to save the life of one of them, news reports said. They are joined at the abdomen and share one heart and set of lungs.
...Their parents have rejected the verdict, which would result in the death of the weaker twin, Mary, and are appealing the ruling.
The couple, who have remained anonymous, say they want nature to take its course, but doctors have warned that a failure to separate the twins will result in both of them dying within six months. Mary is surviving only because she is using Jodie's heart and lungs, but the heart reportedly is showing signs of strain as a result, news reports said.
...The parents say they do not believe it was God's will to allow one child to die to save the other, but also recognize the "dire prognosis without separation." Pro-life groups have criticized the decision that would result in Mary's death. "The argument that the cutting off of somebody's natural blood supply does not represent direct killing is absurd. It is simply and unequivocally judicial murder," the Pro-Life Alliance said in a statement, according to Conservative News Service (see link #6 below).

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Numerous different churches write President Clinton Letter

September 6, 2000


The Honorable William Jefferson Clinton

The White House

Washington, DC


Dear Mr. President,


We appreciate the considerable devotion and time that you personally, along with other governmental officials, have given to Israeli-Arab peacemaking.  The recent summit meeting at Camp David was a significant step forward in this historic and difficult endeavor.


We have followed with great interest and concern the reports of the discussions related to Jerusalem and its final status.  As you know, the unique status of Jerusalem - sacred to Christians, Jews and Muslims - has long been a high priority issue for our churches.  Some of our American churches - Catholic, Orthodox, Lutheran and Episcopal - are directly engaged with partner churches in Jerusalem.  But for all, the ties to the Jerusalem churches and the Christian community are deep and strong.


Our concern about Jerusalem and its status extends far beyond our connections with the Jerusalem churches because we recognize, as do you, the profound significance of the Holy City for the whole of humankind, especially for the Abrahamic family, as well as its centrality in peacemaking between Israel, the Palestinians and other Arab states.


As many of us wrote to you on March 6, 1995, "We believe that making Jerusalem a subject for open negotiation between Israelis and Palestinians is essential for reaching an accord on Jerusalem.  Representatives of the three Abrahamic religions must also have a role in shaping the ultimate resolution of issues affecting Jerusalem and the commitment of the international community to guaranteeing the living presence of the three religious communities in the Holy City."  Now, more than five years later, we are thankful that the negotiations on Jerusalem have begun.  However, we must continue to seek your recognition of the constructive advisory and consultative role that the churches, here and in Jerusalem, can bring to the political negotiations.  At this time, we do not view the Administration's attention to the American churches' interests, concerns and recommendations or those of the Jerusalem churches' interests and rights to be adequate.


We urge your attention to the July 17 letter from the Jerusalem Patriarch to you, Mr. Barak and Mr. Arafat.  We were heartened to learn that shortly after their letter, officials from both Israel and the Palestinians met with the Jerusalem church leaders.  We do appreciate that Secretary of State Madeleine Albright consulted with Vatican officials following the Camp David summit.


We bring your attention to the following perspectives and principles to which we remain committed:


With due regard for the groundbreaking Oslo peace process, we must emphasize that international law relevant to Jerusalem in United nations resolutions and the Fourth Geneva Convention cannot be cast aside and is not negated by the Oslo Accords.  Israel's occupation of East Jerusalem is illegal according to international law.  Furthermore, the resolution of Jerusalem's future and status should not be a matter to be determined solely by the governing officials of Israel and the PLO under the auspices of the United States government.  The significance of Jerusalem to the international community must receive higher consideration if a political agreement is to be broadly endorsed and enduring.


The destructive effort by the U.S. Congress to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem prior to an agreement is extremely provocative.  The leadership you have exercised by using the legislation's waiver authority has been commended by many of our churches.  We are sorely disappointed by recent statements indicating that you might take the unilateral action of authorizing the movement of the embassy before an agreement is reached on Jerusalem's final status.


The current situation of the closure of Jerusalem to Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza unless they obtain a permit for entry from Israel is a totally unacceptable and discriminatory practice.  Despite international criticism and your appeals to avoid unilateral actions, Israel has continued to expand its settlements on Palestinian land in and near Jerusalem.  We are distressed that these and other Israeli practices, intended to weaken the Palestinian community in Jerusalem and the integral relationship of Jerusalem to the West Bank have continued during your leadership of the peace process.


The churches' campaign to promote the principle of sharing Jerusalem between the two peoples and three religions is based on our steadfast commitment to an equitable solution for Jerusalem that respects the human and political rights of Israelis and Palestinians as well as the three religious communities.  The churches' interest extends to the living communities of believers as well as to the holy sites.


And finally, we appeal to you and the negotiators to accord Jerusalem a special statute for its governance with international guarantees to ensure its implementation.  In November 1994, the twelve Patriarchs and Bishops of Jerusalem wrote, "It is necessary to accord Jerusalem a special statute which will allow Jerusalem not to be victimized by laws imposed as a result of hostilities or wars and which will allow Jerusalem to be an open city which transcends local, regional or world political troubles."


We urge you to use your good offices to see that the position of the United States fully reflects the concerns expressed in this letter and that the perspectives of our American churches be taken into consideration.




The Rev. H. George Anderson

Presiding Bishop

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


John A. Buehrens


Unitarian Universalist Association


C. Wayne Carter

General Secretary

Friends United Meeting


Bishop Joseph A. Fiorenza


National Conference of Catholic Bishops


Stephen Glodek, SM


Catholic Conference of major Superiors of Mens' Institutes


The Rev. Wesley Granberg-Michaelson

General Secretary

Reformed Church in America


The Most Reverend Frank T. Griswold

Presiding Bishop and Primate

The Episcopal Church


The Rev. Richard L. Hamm

General Minister and President

Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada


The Rev. Dr. Clifton Kirkpatrick

Stated Clerk of the General Assembly

Presbyterian Church (USA)


Ronald J. R. Mathies

Executive Director

Mennonite Central Committee


The Rev. Judy Mills Reimer

Executive Director

Church of the Brethern


Metropolitan Philip Saliba

Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America


Bishop Melvin G. Talbert

Ecumenical Officer

United Methodist Council of Bishops


The Rev. John H. Thomas

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The Globe and Mail, Thursday, August 31, 2000

Divine solution urged for Jerusalem
  Mideast negotiators propose putting God in charge as a way to resolve impasse over city's holy sites
By Michael Valpy

 Out of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process comes a new proposal for how to govern Jerusalem's holy sites, ground zero in the conflict over control of the city: Hand them over to God.

The sacred 14 hectares within the Old City are known to Jews as Temple Mount, the site of the Second Temple, which was destroyed by the Romans in AD 70 except for the Western Wall. To Muslims, the area is known as Haram al-Sharif, the platform whence Mohammed by tradition rode to heaven on his horse and on which sit two pre-eminent mosques, Al Aqsa and the Dome of the Rock.

The idea, studied by Israeli and Palestinian officials at recent meetings in Cairo, was reportedly first proposed by a Roman Catholic, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Michel Sabbah.

The idea of declaring God sovereign over the area has won the support of Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert, a leading figure in the main Israeli opposition party Likud, who generally has opposed making sweeping concessions to the Palestinians.

"Divine sovereignty is something that can be pursued," he told a news conference yesterday.

The idea also has the backing of at least one Palestinian cabinet minister, Ziad Abu Zayyad. And Israel's Justice and Religious Affairs Minister, Yossi Beilin, has said he prefers the concept of "divine sovereignty" to that of "international sovereignty."

No one is sure how it would work in practice or who on Earth would represent God -- or whether it would be anything more than a glib way of describing the status quo -- but it has excited biblical scholars because of its deep roots in historic Hebrew theology.

Israel has held all of Jerusalem since the 1967 Six Day War, although its control of East Jerusalem has never been recognized internationally. The Palestinians claim Arab East Jerusalem -- which includes the Temple Mount -- as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

Palestinian Islamic officials effectively control Haram al-Sharif, while Orthodox Jews control access to the Western Wall, which is essentially one wall of Haram al-Sharif: the Jewish temple ruins are beneath the Muslim platform.

What captures the interest of biblical and theological scholars such as Rev. Gordon Davies, a professor at St. Augustine's Seminary in Toronto, is that the language of the proposal -- sovereignty vested in God -- resonates with the constitutional teachings of the old Hebrew Prophets.

"If the idea is being taken seriously," he said, "it is an important shift in the application of theological thought, and so much of Middle East politics is theological and biblical."

But not necessarily toward an easy meeting of minds.

For example, Ikrimeh Sabri, the Mufti of Jerusalem, the Palestinians' senior Islamic cleric, recently told a British Broadcasting Corp. interviewer: "Sovereignty is for God. And it is God who decided that Jerusalem is for the Arabs and the Muslims."

Mr. Olmert, speaking on the same program, responded: "With all due respect, we [Jews] got the word from God that he wants us to run this place."

The idea of God being put in charge, said Father Davies, significantly moves the definition of how land is controlled from one theological concept to another.

In the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible's Old Testament, land is defined as an outright gift from God to the people.

But in the biblical books about the Hebrew prophets, the idea of an outright gift is nuanced. God is said to give land to the people only on condition they obey His law. If they don't obey, the land is taken away from them. Thus, whenever the Jews are exiled from the land or dispersed, it is because they have failed to be obedient to the law.

Central to the law is justice, and growing out of justice is love.

In Hebrew theological terms, therefore, God's sovereignty over land would mean it was there for people's use, but only if they behaved with justice and love for one another.

Biblical and theological scholars use, as a concrete illustration of God's sovereignty, the example of the great Hebrew King David, who 3,000 years ago made Jerusalem his capital.

He picked Jerusalem as the site because it lay outside the territories claimed by any of the 12 Israelite tribes whom he sought to unite in a single nation. It was, in other words, the centre, the political and spiritual hub, there to be used by the people of Israel but now owned by them.

As for Islamic law, it can be extrapolated in a parallel manner. God is all powerful. All things come from God and belong to Him. God is just. God is merciful.

What both Israelis and Palestinians may find most attractive about the idea is that it is an alternative to international or United Nations control over the Old City, which neither endorses. International control, up until now, has been the position of the Roman Catholic Church.

The devil would appear to be in the details of what sovereignty by God means in temporal terms.

For example, Mr. Olmert said that while the concept of "divine sovereignty" is worth examining closely, "Fundamentally it offers a continuation of the present status quo, which means there is complete security control over the Temple Mount by Israel and at the same time complete access for Muslims at the holy places of Islam."

But Mr. Zayyad said that, while he backed the idea of not assigning sovereignty over the holy sites to either side, the Palestinians, not Israelis, should be in charge of security.

"If in practical terms, we will be the landlord there, why argue about the issue of sovereignty?"

That isn't quite what the prophets had in mind.

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6-Sep-2000 -- ZENIT News Agency


Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger Responds


VATICAN CITY, ( - "How is it possible to explain the unique character of Christ and of the Catholic Church to a Jew or a Lutheran, a reporter asked Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, during a press conference to present the "Dominus Jesus" declaration, which is concerned, precisely, with the unique and universal salvation of Christ and the Church.


Referring to a believing Jew, Cardinal Ratzinger clarified that "we are in agreement that a Jew, and this is true for believers of other religions, does not need to know or acknowledge Christ as the Son of God in order to be saved, if there are insurmountable impediments, of which he is not blameworthy, to preclude it.  However, the fact that the Son of God entered history, made himself part of history, and is present as a reality in history, affects everyone."


The German Cardinal continued:  "I think it is important to explain that Christ did not go away to heaven, but has remained in history."  Because of this, "we can say that the hidden and real presence of Christ in history affects us all, even those who are opposed or cannot encounter Christ.  This is a reality that transforms history, it is something important for others, without violating their conscience."


In speaking of the universal character of the Church's salvation with a Lutheran, Cardinal Ratzinger said that "we all recognize objectively that the Church should be one, and we should all desire to find ourselves in a renewed Catholic Church on the road toward the furrier.  However, this objective necessity must be distinguished from the state of conscience of persons who learn their faith in their community and are nourished by the world of God in it."  The state of conscience impedes some Christians from understanding the importance and necessity and unicity and the unity of the Church.


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The Guardian Unlimited

'Jerusalem should be a unified world capital'


Top Palestinian calls for special status if no deal is struck


Suzanne Goldenberg in Jerusalem

Wednesday September 6, 2000


On the eve of a last attempt by President Clinton to untangle the most vexing problem in the Middle East - the status of Jerusalem - one of Yasser Arafat's most trusted lieutenants said yesterday the Palestinians would be willing to make bold compromises on their claims to the holy city.


In a speech to the European parliament in Strasbourg, Ahmed Qureia said the Palestinians would support internationalizing all of Jerusalem - including Arab East Jerusalem, occupied illegially by Israel since 1967 - should the two sides fail to reach a final settlement in the crucial weeks ahead.


"Unless we can reach an agreement on Jerusalem, I have to declare that both parts of Jerusalem east and west should be a unified international Jerusalem... not just the capital of Israel or Palestine, but a capital of the world,"said Mr. Qureia, who is speaker of the Palestinian parliament.


The proposal revives a formula put forward by the UN in 1947 and since repeatedly rejected by Israel, and opposed by the Palestinians, through it still remains part of European foreign policy.


President Clinton is to begin talks today with Israel's prime minister, Ehud Barak, and Mr. Arafat, meeting each separately on the sidelines of the millennium summit in New York.


The meetings at the Waldorf Astoria have caused some to hope that during the hubbub of the three-day summit of 150 world leaders, Mr. Clinton will somehow produce the miracle that eluded him in two weeks of concentrated negotiations at Camp David last July.


Mr. Clinton has likened the experience of those talks to having teeth extracted without painkillers, and strongly criticized Mr. Arafat for his unwillingness to match Israeli compromises on Jerusalem.


Some Palestinians hope that yesterday's proposal from such a senior figure as Mr. Qureia, popularly known as Abu Ala and seen as a possible successor to the ailing Mr. Arafat - could relieve some of the pressure on the Palestinian leader during his New York talks.


"He said it to try to throw forward an idea that would be acceptable among Europeans and internationally," said Nabil Khatib, director of the media centre of Bir Zeit University in the West Bank town of Ramallah.


"The Palestinians have a feeling that Israel is trying to give the impression that they (the Israelis) are the only ones who are making concessions.  Abu Ala is trying to show that the Palestinian people are also ready for concessions, but not one-sided, and not concessions to Israel.  The concession is to have a new kind of solution."


Accepting current Israeli proposals on Jerusalem, which would restrict Palestinian sovereignty to a few outer neighborhoods of the city, would be impossible for Mr. Arafat to justify to his people.


"Mr. Barak wants everyone to comply with his version of how things should be:  occupiers' law," said Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Palestinian legislative council. "But the issue is not just the holy sites, the issue is Jerusalem as a city."  Real solutions were needed, not just symbolic ones.


Mr. Clinton is to use the meetings with Mr. Arafat and Mr. Barak to see whether to hold a second summit, possibly in October.  But American officials say they first need to see signs of further progress since July's Camp David talks.  "Unless there is forward progress, unless we see a decisive way forward from this week...this (reaching a deal) gets more and more difficult," the US national security adviser, Sandy Berger told reporters.


So far signs of progress do not appear forthcoming.  Israeli and Palestinian officials have tried to dampen expectations of a breakthrough before September 13, the latest deadline for a final settlement.


Israeli officials day it is up to Mr. Arafat to react to proposals since Camp David which blur the issue of sovereignty over the holy places in the old walled city of Jerusalem.  "Arafat's moment of truth has come and the Palestinian leader must make political decisions rather than turn the negotiations into a bickering match,"  the Israeli foreign ministry said on Monday.


Instead, they are trying to press Mr. Arafat to accept a dispensation for Jerusalem, offered since Camp David, that would dodge the question of ownership over the sanctified ground in the old walled city by declaring God the sovereign of holy places.


The US version of these proposals would have Israel controlling the Wailing Wall, the holiest shrine of Judaism, and the Palestinians in control of the haram al-Sharif, the third holiest site in Islam, with God the sovereign of the passage between them.


Mr. Arafat has come under mounting pressure from the US and Israel to accept the proposals, which are endorsed by Egypt and Jordan.  After the last Camp David talks ended without agreement, Mr. Arafat went to more than two dozen countries looking for support but found himself being urged to hold off on declaring a Palestinian state on September 13.  On that, Mr. Arafat appears to have yielded, and a meeting of Palestinian legislators in Gaza at the weekend is likely to support postponing such a declaration until later in the year.  "September 13 is not a sacred date," said Faruq Quaddumi, a senior Palestinian official.


But time is working against a settlement.  The US presidential election campaign is expected to occupy much of Mr. Clinton's energy from now until the vote in November, and Mr. Barak is barely hanging on to power.  Stripped of a parliamentary majority, his government is surviving thanks to the summer recess in the Israeli knesset.


If Mr. Barak fails to reach a deal with Mr. Arafat, he may resort to a new coalition with the right-wing Likud party, which opposes the compromises he offered at Camp David.  Yesterday Mr. Barak was hedging his bets, telephoning the Likud party leader, Ariel Sharon, from New York even as he awaited today's meeting with Mr. Clinton.


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Globalization Tops Agenda for World Leaders at U.N. Summit

September 3, 2000

The stormy battle over globalization that brought protests to the
streets of Seattle and Washington  moves this week to the heart of
the  world's only truly global organization, the United Nations.

 An extraordinary, three-day summit meeting  of more than 150 world
leaders called to thrash out problems  of poverty and peace is
turning instead into a debate about the future  of the
organization, as well as the   world, at a time when national
boundaries have become nearly as  irrelevant to economic and
political  tides as they are to infectious diseases or popular

 The summit meeting, which will  begin Wednesday and end Friday, is
the pivotal event in a two-week, traffic-stopping extravaganza for
New  York that began last week with a  conference of world
religious leaders, an assembly of scores of speakers from nearly
all the world's elected parliaments and a meeting of  hundreds of
nongovernmental organizations from every continent.

 A dozen or more other events are  planned for the fringes this
week,  including a "dialogue of civilizations" featuring President
Mohammad Khatami of Iran, a "state of the  world forum" of
government and  private sector leaders, numerous  street protests
and a 10-hour teach-in  against a greater role for global business
in world affairs.

 The United Nations is a more diversified organization than those
that have been the focus of recent  protests -- the World Bank, the
International Monetary Fund and the  World Trade Organization.

 So it is still seen as a hope for  solving problems of
globalization,  rather than as a source of them, and  it is not
expected to be subjected to  the same heated demonstrations that
caused so much havoc in Washington  and Seattle. Still, the debate
over  globalization will be intense.

 At the United Nations, globalization means many things to many
people. It is not simply the greater  movement of goods, jobs and
capital  across borders, but also includes  equally important
cultural, environmental and political components.

 For some countries, most in the  industrial world, globalization
is an  opportunity to expand international  standards in law,
social development  and human rights. For others, many  of them
developing countries, it holds  out the worrying prospect of a
United  Nations aligning itself ever more  closely with new power
centers: the  big corporations, high technology gurus and cultural
icons of the industrialized world.

 But unlike other summit meetings,  the one here will give the
fears and  frustrations of the world's smallest  and weakest
nations equal time  alongside the powerful, whose governments and
-- increasingly -- corporations are feared for the influence they
seem to be gaining inside  the organization.

 President Clinton, who will give  the opening address and stay for
three days, will be followed to the  podium by the president of
Equatorial Guinea. Russia's president will be  followed by the
leader of the Maldives, who likes to remind others  that the big
worry for his tiny nation  of atolls is that globalization could
mean disappearing completely -- if  the warming of the world's
climate is  not halted.

 "Globalization is seen by some as  a force for social change, that
it will  help to close the gap between the rich  and the poor, the
industrialized north  and the developing south," said  Theo-Ben
Gurirab, the foreign minister of Namibia and the General Assembly
president for the last year.

 "But it also is being seen as a  destructive force because it is
being  driven by the very people, the colonial powers, who launched
a global  campaign of imperial control of peoples and resources in
what we call  now the third world. Can we trust  them?"

 Secretary General Kofi Annan, a  Ghanaian with an American
education who straddles two worlds, is  at  the center of the

 "Globalization is really defining  our era," he said in an
interview,  explaining why he forged alliances  with multinational
corporations to  improve labor and environmental  standards as well
as to bridge cyberspace gaps between the industrial  and developing

 He also warns political leaders  that they have to govern well and
learn to take advantage of international opportunities or their
fragile  economies are doomed. He argues  that when citizens of any
country are  abused, the rulers can no longer tell  others to stay
out of their affairs.

 "It's not that the secretary general  is changing things too
fast," Mr. Annan said, ranging over topics of relevance to the
United Nations as varied as genetically modified foods or
intellectual property rights. "The  world around us is changing,
and we  change with it or we will be left  behind. We have to adapt
to the realities outside."

 Mark Malloch Brown, administrator of the United Nations
Development Program, said the organization  cannot ignore economic
changes at a  time when government aid has  shrunk and
international organizations have to look for new sources of  money.

 "At the end of the day," he said,  "everybody has to acknowledge
that  the primary source of finance for  development is going to
come out of  the private portion of the global and  national

 Within the United Nations system,  some officials are concerned
that  overtures to giant corporations and  multinational industries
from the top  of the organization will set the stage  for problems
at lower levels. There  are rules of engagement for working  with
governments, one official said,  but there are no guidelines for
working with businesses or independent  advocacy groups.

 Powerful corporations, encouraged by an open door in the secretary
general's office, have the means  to introduce corrupt arrangements
or to pay for special favors among  lower-ranking officials,
including the  handing over of insider information  like
unpublished research findings,  some United Nations employees
fear. Such acts would be easier to  conceal than overt pressure
from  governments, which is a constant  problem in the

 Mr. Annan's "global compact" --  a program intended to enhance
cooperation between the United Nations and private corporations on
things like labor standards and the  environment -- has drawn the
strongest criticism from American  groups opposed to globalization,
among them the Transnational Resource and Action Center in San

 Its director, Joshua Karliner, said  the image of the secretary
general  standing beside the top executives of  companies with bad
reputations in  the developing world sent the wrong  message about
the United Nations,  and could make it a target of protest.

 Mr. Karliner's organization is part of  the International Forum on
Globalization, which is sponsoring the 10-hour teach-in at Town
Hall in Manhattan, beginning at 1 p.m on Tuesday.

 Debi Barker, deputy director of  the forum, said in an interview
that  the teach-in follows similar events in  Seattle and
Washington, where the  targets were the World Trade Organization,
the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. "The  U.N.,
unlike the W.T.O., the World  Bank and the I.M.F., was really
created to be a space to promote peace,  human rights, the
environment, social justice, livelihoods and democracy," she said.
"This is a worthy institution and these are worthy goals.

 "We are concerned that things  such as the global compact,
encroaching its way into the U.N.,  means that the U.N. is being
usurped  a bit by corporations and by people  who are driving this
globalization  agenda. We would encourage the  U.N. to take the
high road; keep to its  mandate; separate itself from corporations
and deal instead with citizens."

 Carol Bellamy, the executive director of Unicef, the United
Nations  Children's Fund, said that in the confrontation over
globalization there  has been an unfortunate tendency to  adopt
extreme views about business  and that these get in the way of
exploring new ways of cooperating  with the private sector.

 Ms. Bellamy, a former American  Peace Corps director and New York
City politician, has been wrestling  recently with critics who want
the  Children's Fund to break ties with  international corporations
contributing to the organization. "The world  demands a more
sophisticated response today," she said.

 "An outright rejection of globalization is a head-in-the-sand
approach,"  she said in an interview, adding that  the goals of
international aid organizations may often coincide, at least  in
part, with those of business.

 "The business community needs  peace to see economic growth," she
said. "They need kids to be educated  to be consumers and workers.
The  rule of law, good governance, is important for creating an
environment  that will probably also be good for  investment."

 Mr. Malloch Brown of the United  Nations Development Program says
the debate about globalization in  richer countries clouds the fact
that  a significant number of political  leaders and
nongovernmental organizations in developing nations are not
opposed to a more interdependent  world economy. They just want to
be  part of it, and they want it to be more  sensitive to the needs
of those least  able to compete.

 Mr. Annan, responding to frustration about the pace and effects of
globalization in the developing world,  said he had asked the
United Nations  Conference on Trade and Development to work on ways
to assist  smaller nations in analyzing and  simplifying complex
economic and  trade agreements so that they can  benefit.

 "It has been said that arguing  against globalization is like
arguing  against the laws of gravity," Mr.  Annan told the
international conference of nongovernmental organizations last
week. "But that does not  mean we should accept a law that  allows
only heavyweights to survive.  On the contrary, we must make
globalization an engine that lifts people  out of hardship and
misery, not a  force that holds them down."

 The United Nations expects all the  world's major powers to be
represented at the summit meeting,  and  will make an effort to
limit their  formal speeches to five minutes  each, with unlimited
time for more  informal talking later.

 In addition to President Clinton,  President Jiang Zemin of China
will  attend, as will President Vladimir V.  Putin of Russia,
President Jacques  Chirac of France and Prime Minister Tony Blair
of Britain.

 Leaders of most African nations,  including Olusegun Obasanjo of
Nigeria, will speak. President Abdurrahman Wahid of Indonesia is
coming, as are Prime Minister Ehud  Barak of Israel and the
Palestinian  leader, Yasir Arafat. Fidel Castro,  the Cuban leader,
is also planning to  come.

 Shadowing the United Nations  summit meeting will be the fifth
annual State of the World Forum, a  private gathering at the New
York  Hilton of more than 500 prominent  figures in finance, labor,
science and  government. Speakers include Mikhail S. Gorbachev, the
former Soviet president; Thabo Mbeki, president  of South Africa;
Gen. Colin L. Powell,  former chairman of the Joint Chiefs  of
Staff; the financier and philanthropist George Soros, and John
Sweeney, president of the A.F.L.-C.I.O.

 When the summit meeting ends,  there will be commitments to some
very ambitious goals, part of an action plan advertised on
billboards  around New York. World leaders will  pledge to halve
the number of the  world's people who live on less than  $1 a day.
There are more than a  billion of them. Almost an equal  number --
many of the same people  -- do not have access to clean water.

 Their number should also be  halved by 2015. By that year, leaders
will pledge to have given all children  a full primary school
education. To  show determination in the battle  against H.I.V. and
AIDS, the leaders  will be asked to halt and reverse the  spread of
the disease by 2015.   

The New York Times on the Web

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Religious leaders present UN with peace declaration

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Religious leaders have presented U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan with a commitment to global peace, declaring all religions equal while recognising the equality of men and women.

The Dalai Lama, leader of Tibetan Buddhists, delivered, in absentia, an official message to the "Millennium World Peace Summit" on Tuesday after being excluded from events at the United Nations by the non-U.N. organisers due to Chinese government pressure.

The document, titled, "Commitment to Global Peace," condemns all violence committed in the name of religion.

Participants in the four-day meeting of 1,000 religious leaders are being asked to sign the declaration and demonstrate a commitment to take an active role in helping to reduce war and poverty and make environmental protection a priority.

The Dalai Lama, winner of the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize, is viewed by China as a political rather than religious leader.

Drikung Chetsang Rinpoche, head of the Drikung Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism delivered the Dalai Lama's message:

"The different faiths need to develop mutual respect for and understanding of each others belief and values. There can be no peace as long as there is grinding poverty, social injustice, inequality, oppression, environmental degradation and as long as the weak and small continue to be trodden by the mighty and powerful."

Members of China's delegation, including a Buddhist and a Protestant, left the hall before the message was delivered to delegates, Chinese sources and the official Xinhua news agency reported.

However, Bawa Jain, the gathering's general secretary, said later that if there was a protest it went unnoticed.

Bishop Fu Tieshen, a member of China's delegation, condemned the "tragedy of desecrating or distorting or abusing religion."

But he added: "Some people want to trample on the sovereignty of other countries under the pretext of protecting religious human rights. Some people want to fish for fame by deceiving the world under the cloak of religion and going in for separatist activities."

Over the final two days of the event religious leaders will sit across the table from one another and talk about regional conflicts in private working session groups.

The sessions will mirror next week's Millennium General Assembly meeting of political leaders, covering conflicts in Africa, the Balkans, Russia and Central Asia, poverty and the environment, among others.

One of the points highlighted in the declaration was that "men and women are equal partners in all aspects of life and children are the hope of the future."

Speakers and participants noted the dearth of female religious leaders at the event.

"It's a big issue, but we wanted religious leaders and very few women are in the leadership hierarchy," said Dena Merriam, vice chair of the event's executive committee.

Attacks on women and the disproportionate suffering they endure as a result of violent conflicts and poverty were highlighted by several speakers.

"War has traditionally been man's work. Even at this summit, the majority of people up here speaking have been the male of the species," said Betty Williams, a Catholic from Northern Ireland who shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 1976.

"We women say 'we love you men, we really love you, but we say to you move over', and if we take the world and we make it any worse than you have, then we will give it back," she said.

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World religious leaders seek elusive peace

Summit at U.N. criticized as being too political

By Stephen Handelman
Special to The Star

UNITED NATIONS - Can 1,000 religious leaders find peace and love by sitting down together in the same room?

The search for an answer to that question starts today, when representatives of most of the world's religions gather in New York for nearly a week of ``frank and meaningful'' discussions supported by the United Nations and private foundations.

The ``millennium peace summit,'' billed as the largest ecumenical religious gathering in history, is expected to bring together spiritual authorities from over 90 nations.

In a modern-day version of the Tower of Babel, the summit will represent a breathtaking - and combustible - mix of doctrines and dogma.

There will be ``mainstream'' religions such as Christians, Buddhists, Muslims and Jews, as well as lesser-known faiths practised by aboriginals in North America, by Jains from the Indian subcontinent and by Shinto adherents from Japan.

Canada will field a delegation of more than 30 leaders, including Jim Boyles, General Secretary of the Anglican Church, Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Sodarkos and Clan Mother Carol Jacoba of the Cayuga Nation.

The proceedings will open at the U.N. General Assembly, a place more commonly associated with quarrelsome governments, with a ceremonial mingling of ``waters from sacred rivers'' of each faith.

After two days of speechmaking, the delegates move to New York's plush Waldorf Astoria Hotel for workshop sessions.


`The sad truth is that religion, as we begin this new millennium, still starts more conflicts than it resolves.'

- Elliot Abrams, chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom

They might have a hard time avoiding the biblical fate of the last Tower of Babel.

Skeptics note recent history underscores that religion has often been the problem, rather than the solution.

``The sad truth is that religion, as we begin this new millennium, still starts more conflicts than it resolves,'' complains Elliot Abrams, chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom and a former top U.S. State Department official.

Abrams, writing on a Web page connected with the summit, notes that the meeting was marred even before it started by the exclusion of the Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, because of Chinese objections.

U.N. officials say the summit organizers' decision to link the summit with the world body made it impossible to avoid dealing with the political ``sensitivities'' of China - which refuses to recognize Tibet independence.

Those delegates who do show up will have to deflect accusations of hypocrisy.

``Will (Hindu Indian) leaders speak out about the persecution, even murder, of Christians by Hindu extremists in India?'' asked Abrams. ``Will the Secretary-General of the Muslim World League speak out about the deaths of nearly 2 million Christians in Sudan at the hands of the Muslim government there?''

Organizers believe the best response to such criticism is to turn the other cheek.

``No single conference is going to change everything,'' says Canada's Maurice Strong, who heads the advisory council for the event.

``But at least it can set an example of religious leaders resolving differences peacefully.''

This week's meeting is scheduled to end with a declaration condemning religious violence and an appeal for world peace and ``mutual forgiveness'' signed by every leader.

The religious authorities are also expected to agree to serve as U.N. partners in establishing an ``early-warning'' system for averting religious and ethnic conflict, and to serve as mediators and healers when hostilities break out.

It amounts to, well, a leap of faith.

But there may be solace available in the rhetoric of the religious faiths who are attending the summit. ``In the company of saints,'' reads a Sikh religious verse, ``man learns how to turn enemies into friends.''

Much of the conference funding comes from private philanthropy. U.S. tycoon Ted Turner, one of the original backers, contributed over $750,000 (Cdn).

``He telephoned me with the idea one day about two years ago from his car wondering how he could help support the U.N.'s activities,'' recalled Strong, who is a special adviser to Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

Turner's interest eventually led to his decision to donate $1.5 billion to U.N. development work.


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Fitting in Without Being Compromised Seen as Big Challenge

ROME, NOV. 17, 2000 ( The biggest challenge facing the Catholic
Church in its relations with the state is how to fit in with the modern
world without being compromised by it or rejecting it outright, a cardinal

Cardinal Camillo Ruini, president of the Italian bishops' conference and
the Pope's vicar in Rome, made his comment during a debate Wednesday on the
occasion of Mondadori's publication of the book, "After 2000 Years of

The book was written in cooperation with the Italian bishops' Service for
the Cultural Plan of the Church, a program in which Italian Catholics hope
to renew and update their commitment to public life. The book includes
articles by Cardinal Ruini as well as Italian intellectuals, both believers
and nonbelievers.

Three authors participated in the book's presentation to the press:
Cardinal Ruini; Sergio Romano, former Italian ambassador and liberal
intellectual; and Giorgio Rumi, Catholic historian. The moderator was Dino
Boffo, director of the Italian newspaper Avvenire.

In addressing the question of relations between Christianity and modern
society, Cardinal Ruini highlighted the "Italian case," in which phenomena
of de-Christianization are evident, as they are throughout the West, but in
which "the pace of believers is anything but exhausted."

He said the principal challenge facing the Church is "the desire of being
integrated to modernity without being dissolved in it or rejecting it

Sergio Romano, political commentator for several publications and Italian
television networks, said that an anomaly exists in Italy of a political
class that lives with "a kind of neurosis in its relation with the Church,
constantly seeking consensus."

"This leads to unconditional approval of what the Pope says if the issues
are compatible with its own program," he noted, "but to very severe
condemnation if this is not the case."

Hence, there is a "liberal posture, although it is democratic." According
to Romano, this is the result of a negative "Concordat" mentality. Romano
believes it would be better to return to the formula of the fathers of
Italian unification, who spoke about a "free Church in a free state."

Giorgio Rumi observed, "It is a very strange liberty that imposes the
confiscation of goods, as happened to the Church during the period of the
Italian Risorgimento [revival]."

According to Rumi, the real problem is to be clear about the limits of
state action, which cannot make Christians renounce their double
citizenship, in the earthly city and the city of God.

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French- and English-Speaking Bishops Meet

OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso, NOV. 17, 2000 (­ French- and
English-speaking bishops' conferences of West Africa are meeting for the
first time in assembly.

In a telegram on the Pope's behalf, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal
Angelo Sodano said, "This historic meeting of the Western African episcopal
conferences is most significant as a step in promoting and reinforcing that
affective and effective collegiality which is so necessary for maintaining
the communion of the Church as a whole."

The four-day assembly here runs through Sunday. Bishops of the Association
of Episcopal Conferences of Anglophone West Africa (AECAWA) and the
Episcopal Conferences of French-speaking West Africa (CERAO) are meeting to
reflect on the subject: "Building the Church-Family-of-God in West Africa:
Challenges and Resources on the Threshold of the Third Millennium."

The 114 bishops from 16 countries are representing 119 dioceses and 19
million Catholics in West Africa.

Cardinal Jozef Tomko, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of
Peoples, wrote in a message to the bishops. He stressed the need for
commitment to religious formation, greater solidarity between churches, and
more flexible missionary strategies.

He also mentioned other challenges facing the region: the need for adequate
church structures and assistance centers; the invasion of media that
undermine morals; and groups which promote abortion and artificial birth

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HAVANA, NOV. 17, 2000 ( A theological symposium will be held
here Dec. 5-7 in preparation for a eucharistic congress in Cuba. The
symposium's topic is "Jesus, Bread of Life for a New World."

The principal teaching will be imparted by Cardinal Bernard Law, archbishop
of Boston. Over the three days, there will be numerous conferences on the

On Dec. 6, there will be special meetings organized between the
participants and different Havana groups. The symposium will close with a
Mass on Dec. 7.

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Receives Professors and Students of Bossey Institute

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 16, 2000 ( John Paul II today reiterated the
Catholic Church's commitment to ecumenical dialogue, in order to achieve
the full unity of Christians.

He made the point as he received 60 professors and students of the Bossey
Ecumenical Institute, who came to Rome for a Jubilee pilgrimage and to
participate in a program organized by the Pontifical Council for Promoting
Christian Unity.

The Bossey institute, founded in Switzerland in 1946 by Willem Visser't
Hooft, first secretary-general of the World Council of Churches, is
directed by the latter in Geneva.

It has functioned as a university department of ecumenical studies since
1952, offering a five-month program which is recognized by the University
of Geneva's theology department.

When he received the group this morning, the Pope noted that over the last
few months the institute has offered students better preparation, in order
to serve the cause of Christian unity in their respective countries.

"In this great task, you will find the Catholic Church a trustworthy
partner," the Holy Father said. "There can be no turning back from our
shared commitment to work for the full, visible union of all the followers
of Christ."

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Religious leaders unite to save environment   


Representatives of 11 major faiths of the world have jointly pledged to work for the protection of global environment.  They made the pledge at a colourful ceremony during a three-day conference being held in an ancient Nepalese town, Bhaktapur, near the capital, Kathmandu.  The conference has been organised by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and is being attended by over 500 delegates from 56 countries.  The religious leaders - who represent Islam, Hinduism and Christianity among other religions - have also pledged to take actions "dedicated to the planet."  The religious leaders vowed to combat forest and marine destruction, climate change and other environmental concerns...  The multinational and multi-religious event, said to be the first of its kind, has been organised by the WWF with the UK-based international organisation, Alliance of Religion and Conservation (ARC).  The faiths represented in the landmark event have a following of more than four billion people. BBC

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General Audience Catechesis Highlights Ecumenism

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 15, 2000 ( The Eucharist is a challenge that
reminds the Church of Jesus' intense desire that all Christians be unified,
John Paul II said today.

Promotion of Christian unity was the focus of the Pope's address at the
midweek general audience, which attracted 30,000 pilgrims to St. Peter's

The topic follows his catecheses over the last months on the Triune God and
the Eucharist. The Pope indicated in the letter outlining the program for
the Holy Year that promotion of Christian unity would be a priority during
the Jubilee.

The Holy Father lamented the divisions between Christ's disciples, most
clearly manifested in the inability of Christians of different churches and
ecclesial communities to share in the Eucharist.

The Pope referred to passages in the Acts of the Apostles, in which the
early Christians met to break bread, explaining "that union in faith is the
prior condition for common participation in the Eucharist."

The Holy Father stressed that it makes no sense for Christians to celebrate
the Eucharist together, if they do not believe in the same way or if there
is quarrelling among them.

The sacrament must be "a bond of communion and love among those who are
seated at the one table of the Word and the Eucharist," he said.

As "a consequence, eucharistic communion is inseparably linked to full
ecclesial communion and to its visible expression," said John Paul, quoting
from the "Ecumenical Directorate" of the Pontifical Council for Promoting
Christian Unity.

Referring to baptism, the Pontiff said that it is "the profound root of a
fundamental unity that unites Christians, despite their divisions."

"Therefore," he continued, "if participation in the Eucharist itself
remains excluded for Christians who are still divided, it is possible to
introduce in the eucharistic celebration, in specific cases provided by the
Ecumenical Directorate, some signs of participation that express the
already existing unity and move in the direction of full communion of the
churches around the table of the Word and of the Body and Blood of the Lord."

The Pope singled out two gestures in particular. First, on exceptional
occasions, a diocesan bishop may permit "a member of another church or
ecclesial community to carry out the function of reader during the
eucharistic celebration of the Catholic Church." Second, Catholics may
participate in the sacraments of penance, the Eucharist and the anointing
of the sick in Eastern Churches, when it is materially impossible to
receive these sacraments within their own community.

However, according to the Holy Father, the drama of not being able to
receive the Eucharist together must not discourage Catholics or
non-Catholics. This is a situation that "must be transformed into an appeal
for purification and dialogue, in the ecumenical way of the churches," he said.

"Thus," the Holy Father concluded, "the Eucharist is a challenge and
provocation placed at the very heart of the Church to remind us of the
intense, extreme desire of Christ: 'that they may be one.'"

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Muslims and Catholics in the United States looking for unity

Muslims and Catholics in the United States are making an attempt to understand each other better. About 10,000 Muslims, Catholics, and members of other religions met last weekend at a convention in Washington, D.C. Among the speakers were Chiara Lubich, founder of the Focolare ecumenical movement (see link #1 below), Cardinal William H. Keeler of Baltimore, and Imam W.D. Muhammad, religious leader of moderate black Muslims, according to Zenit, a Catholic news service.
...Keeler read a message to the convention delegates from Pope John Paul II. "At a time of tension in the world, the great religious traditions have a vital contribution to make to the search for peace, on the basis of the transcendent values found in them," the pope wrote. "Only true dialogue can open the way to a future worthy of the human family and only a falsification of religion can collude with violence."
...Muhammad spoke about the suffering caused by racism, but said that God's love allows men to feel like one universal family, created by a common Father. "In these times we can no longer live in isolation," the Muslim leader said. "Christians and Muslims need to meet and get to know each other. This is what we can show to the world: people of different religions who see themselves as all belonging to one humanity; people who have found a new life because the way to prejudice has been lifted from their hearts." -C U R R E N T N E W S S U M M A R Y by the Editors of ReligionToday November 16, 2000

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U.N. Faithful Eye Global Religion

By James Harder

In the name of world peace, the United Nations appears to have embraced a sort of religious universalism that views all religions as equals and is seeking to ban proselytizing.

Bawa Jain, secretary-general of the Millennium Peace Summit, says he thinks all religions and spiritualists, as well as assorted witch doctors, sha-mans and medicine men, draw their wisdom from the same source. But he applauds efforts to outlaw proselytizing since it matters little whether one worships a downed World War II airplane with a cargo cult, is a snake-handling Baptist or a Roman Catholic. That view has been met with strict opposition from the Vatican and mainline Protestants, who oppose the notion that all religions are equal.
       As host of the U.N.’s Millennium Peace Summit of Religious and Spiritual Leaders, Jain told an international meeting of 1,000 delegates that religions need to accept the validity of all beliefs to attain world peace. The summit, the first of its kind to be sponsored by the United Nations, was held in New York City Aug. 28-31 just before political leaders gathered for the U.N. Millennium Assembly. The timing was perfect, says Jain, as it allowed religious leaders to update their political counterparts on how to usher in the peace of the new world order through religious universalism.
       According to Francis Cardinal Arinze, president for interreligious dialogue at the Vatican and a speaker at the summit, the Catholic Church also would favor one religion in the world — if it were Roman Catholicism. Assorted grand muftis and other true believers hold the same view, again so long as it is their faith that is universally recognized. That each is out to convert the world is to be expected, so the proposed ban on proselytizing is surprising.
       Less than a week after the summit the Vatican released a 36-page declaration rejecting what it said are growing attempts to depict all religions as equally true. A spokesman for the National Association of Evangelicals says they were astonished that a U.N.-endorsed summit would take a stand against proselytizing when the U.N. charter proposes to guarantee the human right to choose one’s own religion.
       The goal of world peace has been sought by religious leaders, philanthropists and philosophers alike throughout the centuries. However, for a decade there has been a resurgence among postmodern scholars and liberal theologians to try to achieve that goal through religious partnerships, even unification. The peace summit is their latest attempt to gain legitimacy at an international level with hopes of securing U.N. funding and endorsement.
       With the financial backing of such heavyweights as media mogul Ted Turner and Canadian billionaire Maurice Strong, this interfaith movement has had no shortage of cash. Turner, the honorary chairman of the peace summit, addressed the 1,000 delegates on the second morning of the convention after being praised by Strong as the man who has done more for peace, the environment and the United Nations than any other.
       According to Austin Ruse, president of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, or C-FAM, and one of those in attendance at the summit, Turner took the opportunity to denounce his own childhood faith. The vice chairman of Time Warner said he turned away from Christianity when he discovered “it was intolerant because it taught we were the only ones going to heaven.” The crowd responded with laughter and approving whoops, says Ruse.
       The question of tolerance is a central issue for those aligned with the peace summit and its objectives. Summit organizers say religious and spiritual groups need to realize what they believe is part of a greater wisdom and not unique to them.
       “What we need to engage in is an education factor of the different religious traditions and the different theologies and philosophies and practices. That would give us a better understanding, and then I think [we have to deal with] the claims of absolute truth — we will recognize there is not just one claim of absolute truth, but there is truth in every tradition. That is happening more and more when you have gatherings such as these,” Jain tells Insight.
       Summit organizers hoped to have religious leaders sign a Declaration for World Peace, a goal that was realized, says Jain. But their second objective was not. The original intention was to create “an International Advisory Council of Religious and Spiritual Leaders that is designed to serve as an ongoing interfaith ally to the U.N. in its quest for peace, global understanding and international cooperation,” according to summit documents. The summit failed to appoint such a council when delegates were unable to agree on who should represent their individual faiths.
       Instead, Jain tells Insight, he has been mandated to structure a steering committee for the new group with the help of what he calls “strategic partners.” He says these will be “some members of our international advisory board and some of the key people who have been helping me in the process.” During the next 90 days Jain also will start tapping religious leaders the world over, putting together his cadre.
       A soft-spoken Indian, Jain worked for two years with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and his office to arrange the peace summit. He is one of the founders of the World Movement for Nonviolence, vice chairman of the Council for the Parliament of the World’s Religions, vice president of the Interfaith Center of New York and a leader of the United Religions Initiative, or URI.
       Upon whom is Jain likely to call to give direction to the United Nations and help steer the course to unified religion in the interest of world peace? A front-runner is said to be Episcopal Bishop William Swing, a prominent figure in the interfaith movement, coming off a summer in which he realized a seven-year dream: This summer Swing gathered 300 people representing 39 religions for a charter signing in Pittsburgh, officially launching the URI. This group is an anticipated melting pot of religious belief, for which a 1998 draft charter declared that all religions draw their wisdom from one ultimate source. In 1995 Swing said the world is moving toward “unity in terms of global economy, global media and global ecological system. What is missing is a global soul.”
       So who will fund this quest for a global soul? Men such as Turner and Strong seem willing to lay a few extra dollars down for such movements and lend their support at the podium of conferences and conventions. Neither is a stranger to the interfaith scene —particularly Strong, who has plenty of influence with the leading global organizations. Chairman of the Earth Council and senior adviser to both the secretary-general of the United Nations and to the president of the World Bank, Strong is an international figure of such prominence that New Yorker magazine recently sighed that, “The survival of civilization in something like its present form might depend significantly on the efforts of a single man,” referring to Strong. He always is on the short list of candidates for U.N. secretary-general.
       Turner’s wealth is better known than Strong’s, and the billionaire media mogul has gone even further to promote the United Nations. In 1997 he donated $1 billion in support for U.N. causes, the most recent being the Millennium Peace Summit at which he expressed his disdain for Christianity. He remains chairman of the United Nations Foundation and the Better World Fund, the organizations that manage his grant.
       So what is the objective here? Is it religious tolerance, unification or subversion of religious faith? Jain tells Insight that he looks forward to a day when religious people no longer insist on a single truth. And the URI, in which Jain is active and which was one of the partners for the summit, takes it even further. URI president Swing says, “There will have to be a godly cease-fire, a temporary truce where the absolute exclusive claims of each [religion] will be honored but an agreed-upon neutrality will be exercised in terms of proselytizing, condemning, murdering or dominating. These will not be tolerated in the United Religions zone.”
       While Swing does not elaborate on what territory that zone might encompass, sources say he is prepared to follow the U.N. lead. And certainly the guest list at the peace summit was impressive, including Cardinal Arinze, Russian Orthodox Metropolitan Kirill, Israel’s Chief Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, Sheik Ahmad Kuftaro of the Muslim World League, the Rev. Jesse Jackson and Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of Billy Graham.
       The guests represented a broad spectrum of faith traditions, including Ba’hai, Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism, Indigenous, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Shinto, Sikhism, Taoism and Zoroastrianism.
       While Jain and others are calling the summit a success, other delegates still are uncomfortable about it. Ruse complains that it was manipulated by the left-leaning agenda of Turner and Strong. Richard Cizik, director of the National Association of Evangelicals office in Washington, says, “There was a whole premise which I don’t accept, which came from the keynote address by Ted Turner and was manifested throughout the programming — namely, the premise that all religions are equal.” Equal at the summit perhaps, but assuredly not the same.

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Joint Declaration Signed by John Paul II and Karekin II

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 10, 2000 ( Following a 1,500-year-old
ecclesial separation, John Paul II and Karekin II, patriarch of the
Armenian Apostolic Church, signed a joint declaration, confessing the
common faith that unites these Churches. In addition, they reaffirmed their
commitment to make progress toward full unity.

The patriarch of the West, as the Pope is known in the East, and the
patriarch of Etchmiadzin jointly confessed their faith "in the Triune God
and in the one Lord Jesus Christ, Only-begotten Son of God." Both leaders
declared their faith publicly "in the Church, one, catholic, apostolic and

The declaration goes further, acknowledging "that the Catholic Church and
the Armenian Church have true sacraments, above all -- through the
apostolic succession of the bishops -- the priesthood and Eucharist. We
continue to pray for full visible communion between us."

"The Catholic Church and the Armenian Church share a long history of
reciprocal respect, and they consider their different theological,
liturgical, and canonical traditions as complementary rather than opposed,"
the document states. "Today we also have much to receive from one another."

Concerned about the future, the two religious leaders prayed that God "will
guide our communities so that we will be able to give witness to the Lord
and proclaim the truth of salvation with one voice."

John Paul II and Karekin II prayed for peace in the world, especially in
the Middle East.

The historic document concludes: "May all Abraham's children grow in
reciprocal respect and find suitable ways to live together peacefully in
this sacred part of the world!"

Armenian Catholicos Karekin II had arrived at the Vatican on Thursday. The
Pope also received the entire Armenian delegation in the Clementine Hall.
Karekin II was accompanied by the Armenian minister of religious affairs,
17 bishops from all over the world, and numerous representatives of the
diaspora in America, Europe, the Mideast, Africa and Australia.

The Armenian Orthodox Church has 7 million faithful, of whom only 2 million
live in Armenia. Many had been forced into exile as a result of the
genocide carried out by the Ottoman Empire.

In 1996 Catholics and Armenian Apostolics put an end to their differences
on the nature of Christ, the theological question that caused the original
split more than 1,500 years ago ( see ).

"It is our conviction," Karekin II said, "that the dogmatic differences
within the Church of Christ are an inescapable facet of our common history;
they are the result of the attempt to express a single truth in distinct
languages and modes of thought, in the aspiration to penetrate the depth of
divine revelation.

"Nevertheless, these same differences should not be understood as obstacles
to brotherly fellowship, unity, and love in Christ. It is in this sense
that we profess the real and mystical unity of the Church."

For his part, John Paul II hoped "that the year of grace 2000 will be for
all the disciples of Christ a time to give new impulse to our ecumenical
commitment, accepting it as an imperative for Christian consciences. Upon
this depends in large part the future of evangelization, the proclamation
of the Gospel to the men and women of our time."

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CNN--World Briefs 11/10/2000


Orthodox patriarch and Pope pray together


VATICAN CITY (AP) -- Pope John Paul II and the patriarch of American Orthodox believers prayed together as part of efforts to move their churches closer and agreed on a possible papal visit to the Caucasus nation.


The prayer service in St. Peter's Basilica, which included a call for peace in the Middle East, capped a four-day visit to the Vatican by Garegin II, leader of the Armenian Apostolic church.


The Pope had hoped to visit Armenia in June 1999, but the trip was postponed by the death of the previous patriarch, Garegin I.


A joint communiqué said John Paul and Garegin II "now continue to look forward to a possible meeting in Armenia," although no date was set.  The statement stressed the two "continue to pray for full and visible communion between us."

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Pontiff Reflects on "Horizontal" Dimension of Sacrament

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 8, 2000 ( The celebration of the Mass, which
gathers Christians around the altar, has no meaning if it is not lived with
love, John Paul II said today during the general audience.

Quoting the Apostle Paul's words to the Christians at Corinth, the Bishop
of Rome told the 35,000 faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square that
whoever participates in the Eucharist unworthily, without making it bloom
in fraternal charity, 'eats and drinks judgment upon himself.'"

The Holy Father thus continued with the series of catecheses he is
addressing in the second half of the Jubilee Year on the Eucharist.

In previous addresses, Peter's successor explained that thanks to communion
with the body and blood of Christ, the Christian can reach the maximum
degree of union with God, to the point of becoming "blood related." Today
he explained that this union with God cannot be real if it is not
accompanied by authentic bonds of love with brothers.

The Holy Father said that for the apostles and early Christians, this
communion with the Eucharist had two dimensions: one vertical, "because it
unites us to the divine mystery," and the other horizontal, namely,
"ecclesial, fraternal, capable of uniting all the participants at the same
table in a bond of love."

"It is a communion that is fulfilled in the concreteness of history," the
Pope emphasized, recalling the description of the early Christians in the
Acts of the Apostles: "And they devoted themselves to the apostles'
teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers."

"Therefore, the profound meaning of the Eucharist is denied when it is
celebrated without taking into account the need for charity and communion,"
John Paul II stressed.

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Pope's Address During General Audience

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 8, 2000 ( Here is a translation of the
Pope's address at today's general audience in St. Peter's Square.

Following is the Pope's integral address.
1.  "Sacrament of piety, sign of unity, bond of charity!" St. Augustine's
exclamation in his commentary on John's Gospel (In Johannis Evangelium
26:13) gathers and summarizes ideally the words we just heard, which Paul
addressed to the Corinthians: "Because there is one bread, we who are many
are one body, for we all partake of the one bread" (1 Corinthians 10:17).
The Eucharist is the sacrament and source of ecclesial unity. Based on the
signs of bread and wine, this was confirmed since the origins of the
Christian tradition. Thus, the Didache, a writing composed at the beginning
of Christianity, affirmed: "As this broken bread was first spread over the
hills and, gathered, became only one reality, so will your Church be
gathered from the ends of the earth in your Kingdom" (9:1).

2.  Echoing these words in the third century, St. Cyprian, bishop of
Carthage, said: "The same sacrifices of the Lord shed light on the
unanimity of Christians cemented with solid and indivisible charity.
Because, when the Lord calls his body the bread made up of the union of
many grains, he indicates our assembled people, whom he sustains; and when
he calls his blood the wine pressed from many bunches of grapes and fused
together, he similarly indicates our flock composed of a multitude united
together" (Ep. ad Magnum 6). This eucharistic symbolism relating to the
unity of the Church returns often in the Fathers and Scholastic
theologians. The Council of Trent summarized the doctrinal teaching that
our Savior has left the Eucharist to his Church "as a symbol of its unity
and charity with which he wishes to be intimately united with all
Christians"; hence, the latter is "symbol of the only body, of which he is
the head" (Paul VI, "Mysterium Fidei"; see Council of Trent, Decree of the
Eucharist, preface and c. 2). The Catechism of the Catholic Church
synthesizes it effectively: "Those who receive the Eucharist are united
more closely to Christ. Through it Christ unites them to all the faithful
in one body -- the Church" (CCC 1396).

3.  This traditional doctrine is firmly rooted in Scripture. In the passage
of the First Letter to the Corinthians already quoted, Paul develops it
starting from a fundamental topic, that of "koinonía," namely, of the
communion that is established between the faithful and Christ in the
Eucharist. "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation
(koinonía) in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a
participation (koinonía) in the body of Christ?" (10:16). This communion is
more precisely described in the Gospel of John as an extraordinary relation
of "reciprocal intimacy": "him in me, and I in him." In fact, in the
synagogue of Capernaum Jesus declares: "He who eats my flesh and drinks my
blood abides in me, and I in him" (John 6:56).

It is a topic that will also be underlined in the discourse of the Last
Supper through the symbol of life: The vine shoot is verdant and fruitful
only if it is grafted onto the stock of life from which it receives sap and
sustenance (John 15:1-7). Otherwise it is only a dry branch destined for
the fire: "aut vitis aut ignis," life or fire, St. Augustine comments in a
succinct way (In Johannis Evangelium 81:3). A unity and communion are
delineated here, which is established between the faithful and Christ
present in the Eucharist, on the basis of that principle, which Paul
formulates thus: "are not those who eat the sacrifices partners in the
altar?" (1 Corinthians 10:18).

4.  This communion-koinonía of the "vertical" type, because it unites us to
the divine mystery, generates at the same time a communion-koinonía that we
can call "horizontal," that is, ecclesial, fraternal, capable of uniting
all the participants at the same table in a bond of love. "We who are many
are one body, for we all partake of the one bread" (1 Corinthians 10:17).
The discourse on the Eucharist anticipates the great ecclesial reflection
that the Apostle develops in Chapter 12 of the same Letter, when he will
speak of the body of Christ in its unity and multiplicity. The famous
description of the Church of Jerusalem given by Luke in the Acts of the
Apostles also delineates this fraternal unity or koinonía joining it to the
breaking of the bread, namely, the eucharistic celebration (Acts 2:42). It
is a communion that is fulfilled in the concreteness of history: "And they
devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the
breaking of bread and the prayers. (...) All those who became believers
were together and held everything in common" (Acts 2:42-44).

5.  Therefore, the profound meaning of the Eucharist is denied, when it is
celebrated without taking into account the need for charity and communion.
Paul is severe with the Corinthians because "when you meet together, it is
not the Lord's supper that you eat (1 Corinthians 11:20) because of the
divisions, injustices and egotisms. In this case the Eucharist is no longer
"agape," namely, expression and source of love. And whoever participates
unworthily, without making it bloom in fraternal charity, "eats and drinks
judgment upon himself" (1 Corinthians 11:29). "If Christian life is
expressed in the fulfillment of the greatest commandment, and that is in
the love of God and of neighbor, this love finds its source precisely in
the Most Holy Sacrament, which is commonly called: sacrament of love"
(Dominicae coenae, No. 5). The Eucharist recalls, renders present and
generates this charity.

Let us take up, then, the appeal of the bishop and martyr Ignatius, who
exhorted the faithful of Philadelphia in Asia Minor to unity: The flesh of
our Lord Jesus Christ is only one, only one is the chalice in the unity of
his blood, only one altar, as the Bishop is one" (Ep. ad Philadelphenses
4). And with the liturgy we pray to God the Father: "Grant that we, who are
nourished by his body and blood, may be filled with his Holy Spirit, and
become one body, one spirit in Christ" (Eucharistic Prayer III).
N.B. Translation by ZENIT

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Officials Meet in Their Embassy at Vatican

ROME, NOV. 7, 2000 ( While religious discrimination continues
in their country, Iranian officials meeting in Rome underlined the positive
role that John Paul II is playing in promoting dialogue among all faiths.

Iranian deputies came to Rome for last weekend's Jubilee of governors and
legislators. On Friday they met in their nation's embassy at the Vatican
along with representatives of religious minorities who participate in the
Islamic Consultative Assembly.

Ahmad Bourghani, president of the Parliamentary Friendship Group between
Italy and Iran, was among the Iranian delegates. He emphasized that the
politicians' Jubilee was a privileged occasion to promote mutual
understanding between Christians and Muslims.

Non-Muslims comprise only 210,000 of Iran's 60 million people. According to
the Iranian Constitution, five of the 290 parliamentary seats belong to
religious minorities.

Christians, who number slightly more than 100,000, have the right to three
seats (one for Syrian and Chaldean rite Christians, and two for Armenian
Christians). Jews, the second minority, have one deputy, while
Zoroastrians, who number about 10,000, have one seat.

However, the "Report 2000 on Religious Liberty," published by Aid to the
Church in Need, states that apostasy from Islam is punishable by death in
the country, both for the one who causes it as well as the one who abandons
this religion.

The same report reveals that Christians are leaving the country "because
they can no longer open restaurants, small kiosks, be hairdressers or
dentists. In case of an accident, the life of a non-Muslim is worth far
less than that of a Muslim; the monetary sanction for running someone over
is more than 100 times less."

Since 1991 no Jewish periodical has been allowed to publish. The situation
of Jewish believers worsens because of their solidarity ties with their
co-religionists in Israel, which the regime's propaganda presents as
"little Satan," the report explains.

According to Human Rights Frontiers, followers of the Bahai religion were
arrested last January and February and condemned to death.

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Positive Effects Seen, But Work Remains

ROME, NOV. 2, 2000 ( The historic Joint Declaration on the
doctrine of justification, signed a year ago by Lutherans and Catholics, is
having positive repercussions.

The declaration signed Oct. 31, 1999, in Augsburg, Germany, touched on a
key misunderstanding over the mystery of salvation -- and a principal
reason for division between Catholics and Lutherans.

With the signing, reciprocal condemnations of the past were forgotten.
Since then, prayer meetings between Catholics and Lutherans have
multiplied, in Germany and elsewhere.

The consequences have surprised church figures.

Lutheran Bishop Christien Krause, president of the World Lutheran
Federation, said over Vatican Radio: "I didn't expect it. There has been
great appreciation for this consensus reached by the two churches, which
has demolished secular prejudices; this fact has important repercussions in
the process of European integration."

For his part, Father Aldo Giordano of Vatican Radio, secretary-general of
the Council of European Episcopal Conferences (CCEE), explained that
Christians now have a new responsibility toward Europe, as was clearly seen
during the first meeting of bishops of the Old Continent with members of
Parliament and the European Commission [ see "'A Spititual Dimension is
Necessary' for Europe: Interview With Cardinal Miloslav Vlk, Archbishop of
Prague" in Oct. 24 archives at ].

"Now we feel that together we must contribute to give an ethical soul and
respond to the search for the meaning of existence, which is evident in
Europe," Father Giordano said. "During the meeting with directors of
European institutions, they told us that this is our task, the task of
Christian confessions. Of course, the churches can only give this meaning

Archbishop Walter Kasper, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting
Christian Unity, who worked for years in the International
Catholic-Lutheran Theological Commission, said: "The joint signing was a
very important event because we found a point of agreement on the core of
the Gospel. What does Jesus Christ mean to me personally? That was Luther's
question and it is also the question today."

The new step that Catholics and Lutherans must now take at the theological
level is an in-depth study of the different views of the Church, Archbishop
Kasper said.

"We have much in common," he added, "but the Catholic Church is a
sacramental and hierarchical Church, while the Protestant Churches and
communities are centered on the Word of God. However, we can learn from
them, because, since the [Second Vatican] Council, we have also understood
the importance of the Bible, of the Word of God.

"Moreover, Protestants now also understand the importance of the liturgy,
of symbols, of sacraments, etc. There is a mutual exchange between
Protestants and Catholics, but there still are problems as, for example,
the ministry of bishops and the ministry of the Pope."

This different view of the Church was highlighted in "Dominus Iesus," the
recent Vatican document which reiterated magisterial teaching that the
Church of Christ "subsists in" the Catholic Church.

Father Giordano said that the "ecumenical reality is going through a
delicate time. The European bishops are aware of this. This does not mean
that the need for an evolutionary leap in ecumenism is not perceived."

"Today," he continued, "the need to redefine the identity of Christian
communities is particularly felt. Perhaps, this might create a pause in the
dialogue, but it could also truly force us to take a new step forward in a
dialogue that becomes more mature, as it is able to look at the different
identities face to face, and therefore, also at the diversities."

Archbishop Kasper concluded: "I am not pessimistic about the future. I have
hope, and my hope is based on the conviction that the ecumenical way is the
work of the Holy Spirit and, who can stop the Holy Spirit?"

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BUCHAREST, Romania, NOV. 2, 2000 ( Romanian Orthodox clergy
said today that John Paul II has donated $100,000 toward the construction
of an Orthodox cathedral here that will accommodate up to 2,000 people,
Agence France-Presse reported.

The Pope made the donation shortly after his historic visit to Romania in
May 1999, the agency, quoted by Radio Free Europe, said.

Construction of the cathedral is expected to begin later this year or early
next year in downtown Bucharest. Construction costs are estimated at $100

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Wednesday, 18 October 2000 13:53 (ET)

Lutherans ready to accept Pope as "spokesman"

 NEW YORK, OCT. 18 (UPI) -- Lutherans might be willing to accept the Pope
as "spokesman for all Christianity worldwide," their leading prelate in
Germany said Wednesday.

 The statement by Bishop Hans Christian Knuth came almost one year after
representatives of the Vatican and the Lutheran World Federation (LWF)
signed their historic accord on "justification" in Augsburg, Germany.

 This issue had divided Roman Catholics and Protestants for almost five
centuries. Now, Catholics and the LWF's member churches agree that only "by
grace through faith," but not good deeds, are Christians justified before

 Knuth is the presiding bishop of the Union of Evangelical Lutheran
Churches in Germany.

 In an address to his denomination's general synod in the eastern German
resort town of Schneeberg, the bishop made it clear that the Pope would have
to meet certain conditions to be accepted by non-Catholics as their

 Knuth added: "As far as we are concerned, he could perform this function
only in his capacity as bishop of Rome."

 Furthermore, when speaking for non-Catholic Christians, the Pope would
have to give up his claim of being the ultimate arbiter in matters of church
law, Knuth said. "He could not present himself as Christ's deputy nor
pretend to be infallible in doctrinal matters," Knuth added, according to
"Idea," a Protestant news agency based in Germany.

 He compared what he saw as a possible future status for the Pope with the
current role of Konrad Raiser, secretary-general of the World Council of
Churches (WCC) in Geneva, Switzerland. Raiser often acts as the joint
mouthpiece for the WCC's 337 Anglican, Protestant and Eastern Orthodox
member churches.

 "One could also imagine that church leaders will take turns in speaking
for all of Christianity world-wide, said Knuth. "If so, the president of the
Lutheran World Federation might conceivably succeed or precede the Pope in
that function, Knuth mused.

 The LWF's current president is Christian Krause, bishop of Brunswick
(Braunschweig) in Germany.- by United Press International.

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Pope, Queen Speak of Christian Unity
October 17, 2000 8:18 am EST

By Philip Pullella

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope John Paul, leader of the world's one billion Roman Catholics, and Britain's Queen Elizabeth, head of the Church of England, met Tuesday and spoke of their hopes for Christian unity around the world.

The queen, on the second day of a state visit to Italy, held private talks with the Polish pontiff, who Monday marked the 22nd anniversary of his pontificate.

The 80-year-old Pope and the queen, exchanged large white envelopes containing their declarations during the public, ceremonial part of the visit which followed 20 minutes of private talks in the Pope's study.

In a reference to Christianity in Britain, the Pope said: "Through that long history, relations between the United Kingdom and the Holy See have not always been untroubled. Long years of common inheritance were followed by the sad years of division."

Queen Elizabeth's 16th century forebear King Henry VIII broke with the Roman Catholic Church and declared himself Supreme Head of the Church of England after a dispute over his desire to end his first marriage and remarry. The Archbishop of Canterbury is the Church of England's spiritual leader.

"But in recent years there has emerged between us a cordiality more in keeping with the harmony of earlier times and more genuinely expressive of our common spiritual roots," the Pope said. "There can be no turning back from the ecumenical goal we have set ourselves in obedience to the Lord's command."

The Pope told the queen that history as well as the future "prompts us to pursue the path of ever greater understanding and, from the religious perspective, of ever more perfect communion."

The queen, accompanied by her husband Prince Philip, first met the Pope in 1980, on her last official visit to Italy. The Pope paid his only visit to Britain in 1982.

"In a Christian context, I am pleased to note the important progress that has been made in overcoming historic differences between Anglicans and Roman Catholics...I trust that we shall continue to advance along the path which leads to Christian unity," the queen said in her declaration.


The British monarch referred to progress made toward peace in Northern Ireland, where republican Catholics and Protestants loyal to Britain had fought each other for years.

"We are most grateful for your help and support in this process. Many share a sense of real hope now, although there is so much still to do," she added.

The queen was wearing a black suit, black hat and veil. As protocol dictates, only Catholic queens can wear white in the Pope's presence in certain circumstances although nearly all monarchs, Catholic and non-Catholics alike, usually wear black.

The Pope also conveyed his thanks to the queen for Britain's efforts to reduce or eradicate debt among the world's poorest countries -- one of the goals the Pope has pressed for during the Holy Year 2000.

"For my government, helping the world's poor is a major priority, and we are actively supporting faster debt relief for the most heavily indebted countries, many of them in Africa," the queen said. "I pray for continued strength and determination by everyone to achieve this important goal.

The queen later picks up her engagements on her official trip to Italy, meeting British schoolchildren and visiting the Anglican Center in Rome and the Museum of Modern Art. She travels to Milan Wednesday.

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Pope calls for bolder dialogue between religions


Pope John Paul II, acting to dispel controversy and confusion over a Vati-can declaration of Roman Catholic primacy, has called for bold new efforts to advance ecumenical and inter-faith dialogue. "At the start of the new millennium we must not slow our steps," John Paul said in a message Tuesday to an inter-faith meeting in Lisbon, Portugal. "Rather, it is necessary to impress a major acceleration on this promising road." The pope's message and a dramatic appeal by the Catholic patriarch of Lisbon for forgiveness for the 15th-century persecution of the Jews in Por-tugal ended the three-day gathering of 250 representatives of 10 faiths from 52 countries. John Paul's message appeared to be aimed at ensuring that the "Declaration Dominus Iesus" did not close the door to dialogue with other Christians and members of other faiths.

The declaration, issued Sept. 5 by the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to counter religious relativism, angered and confused many non-Catholics. It stated that non-Christian religions were gravely defective. It said that Protestant churches were not churches in the true sense of the word. "You well know that dialogue does not ignore real differences, but neither does it cancel the common condition of pilgrims toward new lands and new skies," the pope said. Cardinal Edward Cassidy, who leads the Vatican's dialogue with other faiths, read the pope's message at the 13th International Encounter on Men and Religions organized by the Italian Catholic Community of Sant'Egidio.


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``Seventeen Million Syrians Could be Considered Christians,'' Says the Son of Syria's Grand Mufti On This Sunday's Hour of Power Broadcast

Rev. Schuller Apologizes for the Crusades

GARDEN GROVE, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Sept.14, 2000-- In his continuing effort to help repair the divisive breach that stresses the differences rather than the common beliefs shared by the world's great religions, Rev. Robert Schuller has as his guest on this Sunday's Hour of Power broadcast (9/17) Sheikh Salah Kuftaro, son of the Grand Mufti of Syria, and a recent participant at the UN's World Millennium Peace Conference.

The Sheikh is Chief Advisor and Counsel to his father, who Rev. Schuller calls ``one of the most preeminent Islamic scholars in the world of Islam with millions of followers throughout the world.'' It was the Grand Mufti who invited Dr. Schuller to become the first Christian leader to address an Islamic audience of 17,000 people at the Abou Nour Mosque in Damascus last December, prompting Rev. Schuller's invitation for the Grand Mufti to appear on the Hour of Power. When illness forced him to cancel his trip, his son came to represent him.

Carried by some 200 stations in the United States, the program is seen by more than 10 million people in 160 nations each week and has a large Muslim audience in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Indonesia, India, Pakistan and the Phillippines.

Emphasizing that cooperation among religions is only possible by recognizing their common foundation and goals, Sheikh Kuftaro said that the entire population of Syria - seventeen million people - ``could be considered Christians because unless we Muslims believe in the sacredness of the message of Jesus Christ in it's genuine core in the way that it was revealed from God, we would not be considered as Muslims.''

``The true Muslim,'' he explained, ``is he who believes in the message of Jesus Christ and the true Christian is he or she who believes in the message of Mohammed because they come from life and from one lantern.

``We as Muslims and Christians are in one camp,'' the Sheikh emphasized. ``We do not discriminate between a Muslim and a Christian. Prophet Mohammed says about the people of the Holy Book that our rights are their rights and our duties and their duties are the same. He didn't say Muslims only, or the Christians, or the Jews. All creatures are God's dependents. None of you is a believer unless he loves for his brother fellow human that which he loves for himself. This is our doctrine.''

The Abrahamic religions are not to blame for dissension, unrest or conflicts, the Sheikh believes. ``It is us who sometimes have misconceptions, misinterpretations and misunderstandings.'' In presenting a copy of the Koran to Rev. Schuller, he said that ``this is the book that has ordered us to love you and to be always in joint work with you. This is the way we can reach and achieve a just and comprehensive peace.''

Asked about prospects for peace between Syria and Israel, the Sheikh replied: ``We and the children of Moses are cousins. Whenever a lamp was lighted at the time of Mohammed for his family and before he ate anything, he always asked if you have given a part of it to our neighbor, the Jew. We do pray for just and comprehensive peace to take effect in our area - to become brothers and sisters loving each other so that Moses, Jesus and Mohammed will be pleased with us.''

Commenting on the positive thinking Muslim leaders he has met desirous of promoting mutual understanding between Christians and Muslims, Rev. Schuller acknowledged that the violence characterizing past relations was due in part to a Christian invasion of Arab lands ten centuries ago.

To Sheikh Kuftaro, Rev, Schuller said: ``I apologize to Islam for the Crusades that the Christians started in 1065.''

Noting that the forty-one-year-old Sheikh will someday inherit the mantel of his father and that his son, Robert A. Schuller, will inherit the mantel of his ministry, Rev. Schuller called for the start of ``a new crusade of comradeship, of friendship. We're in the same camp.''

The program was taped on September 10 in the Crystal Cathedral before an audience which included prominent Catholic, Jewish and Muslim religious leaders in California. The ministry will hold the third annual meeting of CAMP - Christians and Muslims for Peace - on the Crystal Cathedral campus on Oct. 6 and 7.

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E n g l i s h E d i t i o n
Tuesday, September 12, 2000

Israel weighs international control over Temple Mount

By Akiva Eldar
Ha'aretz Correspondent

Israel is not ruling out the possibility of acceding to a proposal by Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to place sovereignty on the Temple Mount in the hands of a body consisting of the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and the Jerusalem Committee of the Islamic Organization Conference. Under this idea, which is still being formulated, the joint body would confer on Arafat the jurisdiction over the Temple Mount and appoint him custodian of the Islamic holy places.

Israel would retain sovereignty over the Western Wall and work out with the Palestinians and representatives of the Jerusalem Committee arrangements for the day-to-day administration of the compound, including security, worship for Jews and so forth. Despite the pessimistic tone that has been emanating from the prime minister's entourage lately, a senior diplomatic source said last night that for the first time Arafat is showing readiness to negotiate about arrangements on the Temple Mount.

In a conversation held in New York last week, Barak and U.S. President Bill Clinton agreed that the new proposal, which represented a shift from Arafat's previous adamant refusal to back down from his demand for exclusive Palestinian sovereignty on the Temple Mount, might be able to keep the negotiations alive.

Barak, for his part, said he doubted whether Iran and Syria, which are members of the Jerusalem Committee, would permit a compromise with Israel. At the same time, the United States and Israel share the view that Arafat needs Muslim backing in order to forgo full Palestinian sovereignty on the Temple Mount. They also agree that an external body - not Israel - has to be found to confer on Arafat guardianship of the Islamic holy places.

Clinton and Barak agreed to continue bilateral and trilateral talks in order to work on the compromise over the Temple Mount and the Old City of Jerusalem. U.S. peace envoy Dennis Ross is due back in Israel at the weekend to try and get Arafat to show flexibility on the issues that are still unresolved.

In internal discussions, Barak said Arafat was probably putting forward intractable positions on Jerusalem in order to up the price of forgoing full sovereignty on the Temple Mount and obtaining broad international support for his demands on other subjects. Barak asserted that he was not prepared to pay a price for Palestinian flexibility on Jerusalem and added that the talks could also bog down on other issues.

In more than 20 meetings held since the Camp David summit, the Palestinians have retracted understandings that were reached on several subjects, including the refugees, an Israeli military presence in the Jordan Rift Valley and the status of the Israeli settlements. The Palestinians maintain that Israel has backed away from the positions it put forward at Camp David.

In the meantime, acting Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami yesterday met with leaders of the churches in Israel to discuss the status that will accrue to them as part of a settlement with the Palestinians. The patriarchs said they have no interest in intervening in the talks on political sovereignty in the city.

The religious leaders emphasized the importance they attach to freedom of access for believers from the areas of the future Palestinian state to the Christian holy places that will remain under Israeli control.

Ben-Ami told the patriarchs that in a meeting he held last month at the Vatican, his interlocutors told him that since 1967 they had enjoyed freedom of access to the holy places that was unprecedented. Replying to a complaint about the government's decision to permit a mosque to be built next to the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth, Ben-Ami stated that he rejected any allegations of religious discrimination by Israel.

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Jewish scholars and rabbis are extending a hand to Christians.

Nearly 170 leaders from all branches of Judaism signed a statement calling on fellow Jews not to fear and mistrust Christianity, and to acknowledge the church's efforts in the decades since the Holocaust to amend Christian teaching about Judaism, according to The New York Times (see link #1 below).
..."Nazism was not a Christian phenomenon," according to the statement Dabru Emet, which means "speak truth." Nazism could not have taken place "without the long history of Christian anti-Judaism," but Nazism itself "was not an inevitable outcome of Christianity," it says. If the Nazis had succeeded in exterminating all the Jews, the Christians would have been the next targets, the statement says. It notes that the faiths have much in common, saying Jews and Christians worship the same God, seek authority from the Old Testament, and accept the moral principles of the Torah.
...The statement is a result of a scholarly dialogue among Christians and Jews that began five years ago, according to The Times. About 30 people refused to sign. The document "lets Christian teaching off too easy," said Rabbi James Rudin of the American Jewish Committee, the newspaper reported. The document is being released by the Institute for Christian and Jewish Studies, an interfaith organization in Baltimore.
-by the Editors of ReligionToday September 11, 2000 

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Catholics and Protestants Appeal for Peace in Indonesia

MEDAN, Indonesia, DEC. 18, 2000 (
Catholic and Protestant churches in the Archdiocese of Medan are redoubling their calls for peace this Christmas in this troubled area on the island of Sumatra.

Last month was marked by attacks on buildings and religious gatherings. In mid-November there was a protest march, in which Catholics, Protestants, Muslims and local Buddhist representatives participated.

Father Heribertus Kartono of the Holy Cross Congregation, president of the archdiocesan deanery, said the attacks seemed to be geared to setting the different religious confessions against one another. However, "it is very difficult to pit believers against one another, because the population is closely tied to the clan, which goes beyond membership in different religions," the priest said.

In early December, the Indonesia government accepted the introduction of Islamic law in Aceh province, on the northern tip of Sumatra, about 1,000 miles northwest of Jakarta, in an effort to placate Muslim fundamentalists.

The Archdiocese of Medan has 13 million inhabitants, 495,000 (3%) of whom are Catholics, distributed in 42 parishes. Muslims constitute 63% of the population; the rest are divided among Protestants, Buddhists and Hindus.


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Cardinal Arinze's Message to Muslims at End of Ramadan

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 17, 2000 (
This is the text of a message from the president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, to Muslims on the occasion of the end of Ramadan, their month of fasting.

Education for Dialogue: A Duty for Christians and Muslims

Dear Muslim Friends,
1. First of all I wish to send you my best wishes for ’Id al-Fitr with which the month of Ramadan closes.

Together with the other religious practices which accompany it, such as prayer and alms-giving, Ramadan is a time for assessing relationships with God and with one’s fellow human beings, a time for turning back to God and towards one’s brothers and sisters. Fasting is one of the ways in which we give worship to God, come to the help of the poor and strengthen family ties and the bonds of friendship. Fasting is a form of education, for it reveals to us our own weakness and opens us up to God, so that we may be open to others.

Though the fast you observe has its own characteristics and discipline, fasting is a practice which is also common to Christianity and to other religions. This month provides a propitious moment therefore for us to remind ourselves of "the spiritual bonds which unite us," to use the words of Pope John Paul II.

2. The Year 2001 has been proclaimed by the United Nations as "The International Year of Dialogue between Civilizations." This gives an opportunity to reflect on the bases of dialogue, on its consequences and on the fruit which humanity may harvest from it. The dialogue of civilizations, the dialogue of cultures, the dialogue between religions, are nothing less than human encounters whose purpose is to build up a civilization of love and peace. We are all called to promote such dialogue according to its distinctive forms, as a way of bringing about appreciation of other cultures and religions.

3. All who are concerned with the education of youth are certainly conscious of the need of educating for dialogue. In accompanying young people along the highways of life, attention has to be given to the preparation required for living in a society marked by ethnic, cultural and religious plurality.

Such education implies, first of all, that we broaden our vision to an ever wider horizon, become capable of looking beyond our own country, our own ethnic group, our own cultural tradition, so that we can see humanity as a single family in both its diversity and its common aspirations. This is education in the fundamental values of human dignity, peace, freedom and solidarity. It evokes the desire to know other people, to be able to share their sorrows and to understand their deepest feelings. Education for dialogue means nurturing the hope that conflict situations can be resolved through personal and collective commitment.

Education for dialogue is not just for children and young people, it is also important for adults. For true dialogue is an ongoing process.

4. In October 1999 an Interreligious Assembly, "On the Eve of the Third Millennium: Collaboration Among the Different Religions," brought together in the Vatican some 200 persons belonging to about 20 different religious traditions. Thirty-six Muslims, from 21 different countries, were present and took an active part in the deliberations and in the writing of the Final Message. This Message confirms the importance of education for promoting understanding, cooperation and mutual respect. It lists some of the ways and means of carrying out this education: support for the family, assistance to young people in the formation of conscience, the provision of objective information about different religions especially in textbooks, respect of the mass media for the various religions, so that each one can recognize itself in the image projected.

5. The Final Report of the Assembly also referred to education as the key to promoting interreligious harmony through respect for different religious traditions. Is it necessary to repeat what the participants said about education? That it is a process which enables one, above and beyond the knowledge of other religions, to come to an appreciation of others through real attentiveness and true respect. Is it not the noblest of arts to learn to respect and love truth, justice, peace and reconciliation?

6. Prayer and fasting dispose each one of us to fulfil our duties better, including that of educating the younger generations about the dialogue of civilizations and religions. May God assist us in achieving this aim in the best way possible. On the occasion of Id al-Fitr may He grant you the grace of serenity and prosperity, and bestow on you His abundant blessings. We are sure that God listens to the prayer which rises to Him from a sincere heart: for you, as for us, He is a Generous God.

Cardinal Francis Arinze
[official text]


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Cuba's Eucharistic Congress a First Under Castro

HAVANA, DEC. 14, 2000 (
The first Eucharistic Congress held in Cuba since the Castro revolution in 1959 was hailed as a "historic milestone" by the nation’s bishops’ conference.

"We are very happy with the gifts God has showered on us during these days," Orlando Marquez, spokesman of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Cuba, told Vatican Radio.

The Eucharistic Congress, held last weekend, was preceded by a theological symposium, began last Friday with eucharistic adoration. It was followed the next day by a historic public Mass, during which 2,000 children received their first Communion.

According to Marquez, the highlight of the congress took place Sunday, with a historic procession through the streets of Havana, which ended in the cathedral, where Cardinal Jaime Ortega y Alamino, archbishop of Havana, presided over the Mass.

During the homily, the cardinal appealed to "the authorities and Cuban society not to be afraid to open the doors of the Church, so that she may fulfill the mission entrusted to her by the Lord."


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Cardinal Etchegaray Meets Patriarch Alexis II
Conference on John XXIII Held in Moscow

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 13, 2000 ( Cardinal Roger Etchegaray returned
from a trip to Moscow, where he participated in a conference on Blessed John
XXIII and met with Patriarch Alexis II.

At a press conference Tuesday, the cardinal said his meeting with the
patriarch, whom he has known for 30 years, was "very cordial."

"I was in Moscow to attend a meeting organized by the Russian Academy of
Sciences on Pope John XXIII," the cardinal said. "I don't know if we do such
original things as this meeting of historians, sociologists and specialists
in Church history -- Orthodox and Catholic -- to talk about Pope John XXIII,
in Moscow!"

Cardinal Etchegaray referred to the testimony of Soviet leader Nikita
Khrushchev's elderly daughter, who attended the meeting. She was received in
the Vatican by Pope John XXIII, as she was accompanying her husband, who was
director of the Izvestia newspaper. "She was very happy to be able to recall
her meeting with Pope Roncalli, and the religious memory the Pope left her,"
the cardinal said.

Khrushchev sent a telegram to John XXIII on his 80th birthday in 1961, and
for Christmas in 1962. In 1963 his son-in-law, journalist Alexei Adjubei,
went to the Vatican for an unexpected visit. The Pope who wrote "Pacem in
Terris" was not adverse to establishing contacts, and welcomed Soviet
overtures with prudence.

"Let us continue to work with discretion and confidence for the
reconciliation of all," the Pope said, who hoped for a rapprochement with
the Russian Church, something he mentioned during an interview with Adjubei.
He also alluded to the question of the recognition of the Ukrainian Catholic

Following the Izvestia interview, and the Pope's death in June 1963, some
striking visits were exchanged, beginning with Cardinal Agostino Casaroli's
to Budapest and Prague in 1964, and Soviet President Nicolai Podgorny's to
the Vatican in 1967.

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New Yugoslavian President Meets With Pope
Expresses Desire to Cooperate for Peace in Balkans

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 13, 2000 ( Vojislav Kostunica, the new
president of Yugoslavia, expressed his willingness to "cooperate in favor of
peace" in Yugoslavia and the Balkans, when he was received in audience by
John Paul II this week.

"During the discussion," said a statement issued by Vatican spokesman
Joaquin Navarro-Valls, "reference was made to the Vatican's commitment to
peace during these years of difficult and tragic events, with the hope that
the situation will soon arrive at harmony of souls and social peace."

Following the papal audience Monday, Kostunica and his entourage met with
Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican secretary of state.

Kostunica has replaced Slobodan Milosevic, who was widely considered
responsible for exasperating Serbian nationalist feeling that led to the
armed conflict with the Yugoslavian republics (Croatia, Slovenia,
Bosnia-Herzegovina and Macedonia), and the region of Kosovo, all of which
were opposed to his policy of political and cultural assimilation.

Following presidential elections Sept. 24, Kostunica, a Serb democratic
nationalist, succeeded in wresting power from Milosevic. Since then, the new
president has shown openness to the international community and a
willingness to re-establish true democracy in the country.

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Kazakhstan Invites Pope to Visit in June
In Wake of Ordination of First Bishop of Almaty

ALMATY, Kazakhstan, DEC. 13, 2000 ( Church and state authorities
of Kazakhstan have invited John Paul II to visit this former Asian Soviet
Republic, at the end of his June 21-24 trip to Ukraine next year.

The international agency Fides reported that the invitation was extended by
President Nursultan Nazarbayev during an audience he had with the Pope in
the Vatican on Sept. 24. The invitation has been renewed by the bishop of
Karaganda and the apostolic administrators of Almaty, Astana and Atyrau.

The invitation follows in the wake of the Nov. 26 ordination of Franciscan
Father Henry Theophilus Howaniec as the first bishop of Almaty. Almaty is
one of the most important urban centers of this country, which borders
northwest China.

The rite took place in Almaty's Most Holy Trinity Church, which was crowded
with faithful of different nationalities. The ceremony was presided over by
Archbishop Mariano Oles, the apostolic nuncio. Orthodox Archbishop Alexiy
was unable to attend for health reasons, Fides reported. The Muslims were
represented by Ali Khadgi, master of Medina.

The Orthodox Church's television crew filmed the whole celebration. It was
transmitted by HTK local broadcasting station and Novosibirsk TV channel.
The ceremony ended with an Act of Consecration of the Kazakhstan's Apostolic
Administration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

In this country of 16.5 million inhabitants, the Catholic Church, which
practically lived in the catacombs in these lands during the Soviet regime,
has reconstituted its pastoral structures and activities, thanks in part to
the arrival of foreign missionaries.

Catholic presence was virtually eradicated in Central Asia in the 13th
century, when the Mongol insurrection occurred. In the 20th century,
Catholic communities began to emerge among exiles from Communism; they were
primarily from Polish, German and Byelorussian communities.

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BRATISLAVA, Slovakia, DEC. 12, 2000 (
A treaty between Slovakia and the Holy See is expected to be signed by President Rudolf Schuster this week, prior to Schuster’s visit to the Vatican, according to Transitions Online.

The treaty guarantees the ability of the Catholic Church to choose its clergy and hierarchy without state involvement, the news service said Monday. Members of the Church are also granted the right to a Catholic education. Furthermore, the Church will agree to help the Slovak state in matters pertaining to social services, humanity and morality in society, the service said.

Jan Fige, Slovakia’s chief negotiator for European Union accession, described the treaty as "an important step in establishing the modern international relations of the Slovak Republic. >From the political, diplomatic, cultural and spiritual points, the Holy See is an internationally acknowledged partner of importance."


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LOUISVILLE, Kentucky, DEC. 6, 2000 ( Cardinal Edward Cassidy,
president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, is
expected to attend talks and an ecumenical service here this week.

He, along with Monsignor John Radano of the pontifical council's Western
Section, had been invited by the Presbyterian Church in the United States to
visit its Louisville headquarters for talks.

Cardinal Cassidy will present a paper on "The Catholic Church and Ecumenism
at the Beginning of the 21st Century" on Thursday and on Friday will deliver
a homily at the ecumenical service.

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Ecumenical Gesture on Feast of St. Andrew

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 30, 2000 ( John Paul II told the patriarch
of Constantinople in a letter how determined he is to continued ecumenical
dialogue. And to add weight to his words, the Pope is giving the Orthodox a
Roman church.

In a message to Bartholomew I on the feast of St. Andrew, the Holy Father
said that he has given the old church of St. Theodore on Rome's Palatine
Hill to the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.

John Paul said he intends that the church "be dedicated to the worship and
pastoral activities of the Greek Orthodox community of the city, which will
then enjoy the necessary spiritual assistance for its growth and for the
dialogue with Christians living in Rome."

On the feast of St. Andrew the Apostle, which was also celebrated in the
Patriarchate of Constantinople, the Patriarch of the West (as the Pope is
sometimes referred to in the East) sent a delegation to Istanbul, Turkey,
led by Cardinal Edward Idris Cassidy, president of the Pontifical Council
for Promoting Christian Unity. This is a tradition that has been observed
for several years. Bartholomew I, in turn, sends a delegation to Rome on
June 29, the feast of SS. Peter and Paul, patrons of the Eternal City.

The Apostle Andrew, to whom the see of Constantinople is dedicated, was a
brother of Peter, the first Bishop of Rome.

In his message, John Paul II says that the common origin of the Catholic
and Orthodox Churches makes imperative the re-establishment of "full unity
of faith and life," as soon as possible, since the division among
Christians goes against the spirit of the Gospel and its witness in the world.

Catholics and Orthodox split in 1054 over differences in doctrine and
worship, although many historians say the main reason was the dispute over
the primacy of the Bishop of Rome.

In his message, the Holy Father said that with "a pure and clean heart,
therefore, and in obedience to the will of the one Lord, we must continue
our sincere, fraternal and loving search for full communion."

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Manifested in Mutual Effort for Justice and Peace, He Says

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 29, 2000 ( Interreligious dialogue is
manifested in the common effort of all believers for justice, solidarity
and peace, John Paul II said during his general audience today.

This dialogue "is expressed in cultural relations, which sow the seeds of
ideals and transcendence in the often-arid earth of politics, economics and
social life," the Pope told a gathering of 30,000 pilgrims in St. Peter's

The Holy Father emphasized that one of the dimensions he has highlighted
during this Holy Year has been the dialogue between religions. He has said
that it reached a high point last March, with his pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

Interreligious dialogue also must be an opportunity for Catholics to give
"the complete witness of faith in Christ, only Savior of the world," the
Holy Father said.

This dialogue, the Bishop of Rome said, "calls for humility in listening,
in order to grasp and cherish every ray of light, which is always the fruit
of the Spirit of Christ, no matter where it comes from."

In September, the Vatican published the declaration "Dominus Iesus," with
the Pope's approval, clarifying that authentic dialogue with other
religions must not lead Catholics to renounce their belief in the unique
and universal salvation brought by Jesus Christ and his Church.

Today, John Paul II referred to passages in the Old Testament, in which the
prophets express man's thirst for God. "Have we not all the one Father? Has
not the one God created us?" the Pontiff said, quoting the prophet Malachi.

The Pope continued: "A certain kind of faith opens in the invocation to
God, even when his face is 'unknown.'" This faith "blossoms into hope," he
said. However, this hope "is not yet illuminated by the fullness of
revelation, which places it in relation with the divine promises and makes
it a theological virtue," the Pope explained.

"The sacred books of religions are open to hope in the measure in which
they open a horizon of divine communion, delineating in history a goal of
purification and salvation; they promote the search for truth and defend
the values of life, of sanctity and justice, of peace and liberty," John
Paul II said.

"With this profound tension, which endures even in the midst of human
contradictions, the religious experience opens men to the divine gift of
charity and to its demands," the Pope continued.

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