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c. 1996 Religion News Service

Pope and U.N. chief stress need for action in Zaire at food summit

(RNS) Starving refugees in Zaire were the focus of attention Wednesday (Nov. 13) at the opening of the five-day United Nations-sponsored World Food Summit in Rome.

Both Pope John Paul II and U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali addressed the plight of the estimated 1 million refugees in their remarks to the delegates from 194 nations.

The pope said he felt close to”refugees forced to leave their countries and too often left without assistance.” Speaking later to pilgrims at his weekly Vatican audience, the pope again referred to the refugees’ plight, saying”no uncertainty, no excuse, no calculation”can justify further delay in getting food and other humanitarian aid to the refugees, the Reuter news agency reported.

Boutros-Ghali spoke in more forceful terms as he urged the world to quickly aid the Rwandan and Burundian refugees caught between warring Zairean rebels, Zairean military forces and Rwandan Hutu guerrillas.”At the very moment this summit is taking place,”he said,”over a million starving, frightened refugees are wandering helpless in the mountains and forests of eastern Zaire. For the tribes and ethnic groups who are killing each other, hunger and famine are, in the final analysis, weapons of war to be used to kill and kill again.” The refugees face”certain death unless they receive immediate aid. … This is an all-out emergency and every day counts,”said Boutros-Ghali, the Associated Press reported.

In his remarks, the pope also rejected population control as the answer to world hunger, saying there is ample food in the world. The problem is the inability to get food to those who need it most because of political instability, war, international debt and the gulf between rich and poor.”Demography alone does not explain the inadequate distribution of food resources,”John Paul said.”We must put aside the sophist view that when there are many, one is condemned to be poor.” The Roman Catholic leader said the fight against hunger must include an effort by all nations to bridge the gap between the world’s haves and have-nots.

Anti-Defamation League, Jesse Jackson, criticize Texaco

(RNS) The Anti-Defamation League has sent a letter to the president of Texaco urging that recent reports of racist and anti-Semitic remarks by company executives be countered with efforts to reject bias in the corporate environment.

The ADL’s letter comes within a week of a call by activist Rev. Jesse Jackson for a boycott of Texaco.”Although Texaco’s public condemnation of the bigotry has been unequivocal, we strongly urge you to go further and take proactive measures to ensure that such prejudice never again rears its ugly head at Texaco,”Abraham H. Foxman, ADL national director, urged Peter I. Bijur, Texaco’s president and CEO.

The Anti-Defamation League, a New York-based organization that fights anti-Semitism, believes that intolerance can be combatted through education, Foxman explained. He offered Bijur ADL resources that have been used to reduce intolerance in the workplace.”As one of the nation’s largest corporate entities, Texaco is at an important crossroads,”Foxman wrote in the letter dated Nov. 8.”The manner in which you proceed now has the potential to set an example for corporate America.” Texaco’s 1,400 minority workers have filed a $520 million discrimination lawsuit against the oil company, alleging that Robert Ulrich, a former treasurer, used a racial slur during a 1994 discussion of the suit. Texaco hired an investigator who concluded after listening to a tape that Ulrich did not use the slur, but the company says his comments were still unacceptable.

Following a lunch with Bijur, Jackson said Tuesday (Nov. 12) that picketing would begin at Texaco sites on Saturday unless the company settles a suit brought by its black employees”and comes up with a plan to break the cycle”of racism and sexism, the Associated Press reported.

Bijur criticized the notion of a boycott.”Boycotts are divisive,”Bijur said.”Boycotts, in my view … cause economic disruption. … It is essential that Texaco and African-American leaders work together.”

New clergy discipline proposed for Church of England

(RNS) A new system of national church courts to deal with complaints against the clergy of the Anglican Church of England has been proposed in a new report.

The new system would replace the present system of diocesan ecclesiastical courts. The report said the present system was too inflexible and too expensive.

The proposal will be debated by the church’s General Synod, set to meet in London Nov. 25-29.

According to the report, there is general reluctance to use the church’s present”cumbersome”disciplinary procedures. In some cases the unruly procedures have been avoided by merely accepting the resignation of the cleric involved. The report said such a procedure was unsatisfactory.

On the issue of costs, the report said that two cases of alleged clergy misconduct _ both involving allegations of adultery _ brought before the diocesan courts in the 1990s cost nearly $685,000.

The Rev. Brandon Jackson, who was acquitted of charges of adultery in 1995, welcomed the new proposal, calling the current system”thoroughly un-Christian.””For a long time, the vast majority of bishops have settled disciplinary matters privately, either personally in their own studies or by setting up an ad hoc tribunal,”Jackson said.”In my case, the bishop refused to accept my word, spent $165,000, had publicity all over the world, and in the end found that I was telling the truth. That is not an appropriate way of dealing with the problem.” Under the new proposal, three-member tribunals would be organized on a national basis to replace the present five-member diocesan courts. It suggested that hearings be normally held in private unless the accused cleric wants a public hearing or the tribunal chairman in exceptional cases decided a public hearing would serve the church’s best interest.”A system based on our proposals will provide better value for the money,”the report argued, even if it led to an increase in the number of disciplinary cases being heard.

While stressing the need to streamline current procedures, the report also said it is important to protect clergy”from frivolous, spiteful and maliciously motivated accusations.”

Catholic bishops approve guidelines for televising Mass

(RNS) The nation’s Roman Catholic bishops Wednesday (Nov. 13) _ warning that televised liturgies are never a substitute for active participation _ approved guidelines for televising the Mass.”The first requirement for good telecast liturgies is good liturgical celebration,”the guidelines said.”When the Mass or other liturgies are televised, those responsible for the planning, production, and celebration must make every effort to respect basic liturgical principles.” Concerns about televised Masses have been voiced in the National Conference of Catholic Bishops since 1986. Some liturgists have argued that television production values and needs have taken priority over the essence of the Mass.

They have criticized televised Masses that drop parts of the liturgy, especially Scripture reading; that use actors for members of the congregation; or that use pre-recorded or performance music.

In the guidelines, the bishops said that a live telecast of the Mass is preferred over pre-recorded liturgies.”Whenever possible, the liturgy should be recorded live,”the bishops said.”When the liturgy is pre-recorded, it should be celebrated as close as possible to the date on which it will be telecast to reflect the integrity of the liturgical year.” They also said the televised Mass”should always be celebrated within a living community of God’s people”and should be”a group of people who participate in the liturgy as fully as possible by their prayer, song, and presence.” It said such Masses should always include a sermon and said that the”use of pre-recorded music, even to accompany the congregation’s singing, is not appropriate.”

Quote of the day: Cardinal Joseph Bernardin

(UNDATED) Chicago Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, gravely ill of pancreatic cancer, wrote a letter to the U.S. Supreme court Tuesday (Nov. 12) on two pending cases of assisted suicide. Here is an excerpt:”I am at the end of my earthly life. There is much that I have contemplated these last few months of my illness, but as one who is dying I have especially come to appreciate the gift of life. I know from my own experience that patients often face difficult and deeply personal decisions about their care. However, I also know that even a person who decides to forego treatment does not necessarily choose death. Rather, he chooses life without the burden of disproportionate medical intervention. … There can be no such thing as a `right to assisted suicide’ because there can be no legal and moral order which tolerates the killing of innocent life, even if the agent of death is self-administered. Creating a new `right’ to assisted suicide will endanger society and send a false signal that a less than `perfect’ life is not worth living.”


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