News from the Holy See


Christus Rex Information Service


5 April 1996


V.I.S. - Friday, 5 April 1996

GOOD FRIDAY: CONFESSIONS, PASSION OF THE LORD, VIA CRUCIS

VATICAN CITY, APR 5, 1996 (VIS) - As has been his custom on Good Friday since 1980, Pope John Paul heard confessions today in St. Peter's Basilica, where he arrived about noon and remained for one and a half hours. He confessed 12 people - six men and six women.

At 5 p.m., the pope returned to St. Peter's to preside over a celebration of the Lord's Passion. The Passion according to St. John was sung, after which the preacher of the papal household, Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, O.F.M.Cap., gave a homily. The Prayers of the Faithful were offered in ten languages, and included prayers for the pope, the Jewish people, non-Christians and for justice and peace throughout the world. Following adoration of the cross, the pope distributed communion.

At 9:15 p.m., the Holy Father led the Via Crucis at the Colosseum, carrying a wood cross for several of the 14 stations in the presence of thousands of candle-bearing faithful. Cardinal Vicar of Rome Camillo Ruini, four people from the diocese of Rome, a sister and a lay teacher from Sarajevo, and a mother from Rwanda assisted in carrying the cross throughout the rite. Two young people from Rome were torchbearers next to the cross.

The meditations for the 1996 Way of the Cross were written by the archbishop of Vrhbosna, Cardinal Vinko Puljic. At each station there was a reading from Scriptures, a meditation, oration, recitation of the Our Father and the singing of a verse of "Stabat Mater." The faithful, provided with booklets containing each phase of the Via Crucis, participated in the ceremony.

"This evening," said John Paul II at the conclusion, "the faithful of Rome and pilgrims from every continent gather in this place, the Colosseum, remembering the sacrifice of so many martyrs of the first centuries. Here they meditate on the Lord's Passion and on the sufferings of men and women of every generation. A long trail of sorrow and of blood runs through history."

"Today, too, blood and suffering mark the events of our own time," the pope went on. "How can we fail to be concerned, for example, in the face of an alarming 'conspiracy against life', with increasingly grave threats to individuals and to peoples, especially where life is weak and defenseless? 'In addition to the ancient scourges of poverty, hunger, endemic diseases, violence and war, new threats are emerging on an alarmingly vast scale'."

"Bowing, with Mary, before the sufferings of Christ," remarked Pope John Paul, "the Church exhorts the men and women of today to become 'good Samaritans' on the paths of life to the suffering and hard-pressed. 'Ecce lignum Crucis' (behold the wood of the Cross): behold the answer to human suffering! In this sign of love, planted in the heart of history and of the world, we discover the highroad of salvation."


REUTER INFORMATION SERVICE - Friday, 5 April 1996

Faithful pray for pope's good health on Good Friday

Copyright © 1996 Nando.net
Copyright © 1996 Reuter Information Service

VATICAN CITY (Apr 5, 1996 2:30 p.m. EST) - Pope John Paul II, presiding at a Good Friday service commemorating Christ's crucifixion, heard the faithful pray for his good health.

The "passion of the Lord" service in St. Peter's Basilica was the second of three events the 75-year-old pope presided at on the day Christians commemorate Christ's passion and death.

"Let us pray for our Holy Father, Pope John Paul, that God who chose him to be bishop may give him health and strength to guide and govern God's holy body," a prayer read in English during the service said.

Prayers for the pope, the leader of the world's 960 million Roman Catholics, have been read before at Vatican services. This one followed widespread concern for his health last month following a fever that forced him to cancel some engagements.

He has appeared to be in relatively good health but at times tired at recent public events. The Vatican says he has no serious health problems and last month angrily denied a Spanish newspaper report that he has cancer.

For much of the service the pope, wearing red and white vestments, stood facing a congregation of several thousand people as priests chanting in Latin and Italian recounted the Biblical accounts of Christ's passion and death by crucifixion.

During the same part of the service, prayers were said for the Jewish people, for non-Christians, for atheists and for peace and justice in the world.

The pope began Good Friday by hearing the confessions of ordinary Catholics in St. Peter's Basilica.

He donned a black cape over his white cassock and sat in one of the wooden confessional booths normally used by priests who administer the sacrament of penance to the faithful in Christendom's largest church.

Twelve people, six men and six women, were chosen at random by Vatican aides to make their confessions to the pope. They recounted their sins individually to the pope for about 90 minutes.

The pope, who normally only hears the confessions of close aides, began the Good Friday tradition a year after he was elected in 1978.

The third and most colorful Good Friday service takes place in the evening, when the pope is to take part in a traditional "Way of the Cross" procession around the ruins of Rome's ancient Colosseum.

Since his election, the pope has followed the 14 symbolic "stations of the cross" each year, holding up a large wooden cross throughout the Colosseum procession.

Last year, weakened after breaking a leg, he bore the cross only part of the way. Friday evening he is due to carry it only for part of the procession and several men and women will be on hand to share the burden.

Holy Week ceremonies culminate on Easter Sunday, when the pope is due to say Mass in St. Peter's Square and then deliver his twice-yearly "Urbi et Orbi" (to the city and the world) blessing and message.


REUTER INFORMATION SERVICE - Friday, 5 April 1996

Pope hears confessions on Good Friday

Copyright © 1996 Nando.net
Copyright © 1996 Reuter Information Service

VATICAN CITY (Apr 5, 1996 08:35 a.m. EST) - Pope John Paul heard the confessions of ordinary Catholics in the Vatican as part of his activities on Good Friday, the day Christians commemorate the death of Christ.

The 75-year-old Pope donned a black cape over his white cassock and sat in one of the wooden confessional booths normally used by priests who administer the sacrament of Penance to the faithful in St Peter's Basilica.

Twelve people, six men and six women, were chosen at random by Vatican aides to make their confession to the Pope. They recounted their sins individually to the Pope for about 90 minutes.

The Pope, who normally only hears the confessions of close aides, began the Good Friday tradition a year after he was elected in 1978.

On Friday afternoon, the Pope, who appeared in relatively good health, was due to preside at a "Passion of the Lord" prayer service in Christendom's largest church commemorating Christ's passion and death.

The third and most colourful Good Friday service takes place in the evening, when the Pope is to take part in a traditional "Way of the Cross" procession around the ruins of Rome's ancient Colosseum.

Since his election, the Pope has followed the 14 symbolic "stations of the cross" each year, holding up a large wooden cross throughout the Colosseum procession.

Last year, weakened after breaking a leg, he bore the cross only part of the way. On Friday evening he is due to carry it only for part of the procession and several men and women will be on hand to share the burden.

Holy Week ceremonies culminate on Easter Sunday, when the Pope is due to say Mass in St Peter's Square and then deliver his twice-yearly "Urbi et Orbi" (to the city and the world) blessing and message.


C.N.N. NEWS SERVICE - Friday, 5 April 1996

Pope hears Good Friday confessions

April 5, 1996
Web posted at: 3:00 p.m. EST (2000 GMT)

VATICAN CITY (Reuter) -- Pope John Paul heard the confessions of ordinary Catholics in the Vatican as part of his activities on Good Friday, the day Christians commemorate the death of Christ.

The 75-year-old pope donned a black cape over his white cassock and sat in one of the wooden confessional booths normally used by priests who administer the sacrament of penance to the faithful in St. Peter's Basilica.

Twelve people, six men and six women, were chosen at random by Vatican aides to make their confession to the pope. They recounted their sins individually to him for about 90 minutes.

The pope, who normally hears the confessions only of close aides, began the Good Friday tradition a year after he was elected in 1978.

On Friday afternoon, the pope, who appeared in relatively good health, is to preside at a "Passion of the Lord" prayer service in Christendom's largest church commemorating Christ's passion and death.

The third and most colorful Good Friday service takes place in the evening, when the pope is to take part in a traditional "Way of the Cross" procession around the ruins of Rome's ancient Colosseum.

Since his election, the pope has followed the 14 symbolic "stations of the cross" each year, holding up a large wooden cross throughout the Colosseum procession.

Last year, weakened after breaking a leg, he bore the cross only part of the way. On Friday evening he is to carry it only for part of the procession and several men and women will be on hand to share the burden.

Holy Week ceremonies culminate on Easter Sunday, when the pope is due to say Mass in St. Peter's Square and then deliver his twice-yearly "Urbi et Orbi" (to the city and the world) blessing and message.


C.N.N. NEWS SERVICE - Friday, 5 April 1996

Biblical scholars try to pinpoint the Resurrection

April 5, 1996
Web posted at: 6:15 p.m. EST (2315 GMT)

From Jerusalem Bureau Chief Walter Rodgers

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- This weekend, hundreds of millions of Christians will be commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth and celebrating his resurrection.

The Resurrection in the Holy Land some 2,000 years ago is a central tenet of Christian faith, symbolizing life and hope and triumph over death.

Biblical scholars have identified at least two possible sites of Golgotha, the tomb from which Christians believe Jesus rose from the dead. One is within the walls of modern Jerusalem in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. The other is a cave-like structure outside the ancient city of Jerusalem.

Garden tomb

"We don't have striking evidence (either site) is the place. We have circumstantial evidence for both places," said Israeli archeologist Rame Arav.

Most Christians believe the tomb inside Jerusalem's Church of the Holy Sepulcher is Golgotha, according to one biblical scholar.

"Christians who come to the Holy Sepulcher have a 99 percent certitude that Golgotha is where it's said to be. You can actually see the rock beneath the glass," said the Rev. Jerry Murphy O'Connor, a Dominican scholar.

Christians believe the rock is the one that was placed in front of the tomb of Jesus. But Jewish burials were required to be a certain distance from the Second Temple and the Holy Sepulcher tomb is too close, according to some scholars.

A cave outside the ancient city, near a first century Jewish tomb, is another possible resurrection site.

"We believe the Romans may have used this as a crucifixion site," said O'Connor.

Mary Magdalene was the first to see the risen Christ, according to the Bible, but, "Why a woman?"

"I believe in the Jesus movement women were extremely important. They were probably more numerous than men and I think they had a deeper intuitive, sympathetic understanding of what he was trying to achieve than men, " said O'Connor.

Skeptics argue Jesus' disciples later fabricated the entire Easter story.

"I don't believe that for a moment," said O'Connor. "Why would you stick your neck out? Why would you put yourself at risk in your community? Why would anyone do that for a lie?"

The New Testament describes post-resurrection appearances including one on an old Roman road to Emmaus.

"The appearance at Emmaus was one of the appearances that stimulated the disciples into recognizing that what Jesus had said was really true -- that he would rise from the dead," said O'Connor.

There was, according to the Bible, another appearance in Jerusalem and another during the morning meal with the disciples on the shores of the Galilee.

"They were fishing down there, and then (Jesus) asked them, 'Did you catch anything?' They said 'no,' and then he said throw your net on the right side," said the Rev. Thomas Tshablala, a Franciscan priest.

It is now birds, not Jesus disciples, that fish the Sea of Galilee. Yet the Easter message did not die, thanks to the apostles who believed and went on to become "fishers of men."


ASSOCIATED PRESS - Friday, 5 April 1996

French monks had turned back Algerian gunmen before

PARIS - Algerian gunmen suspected of kidnapping seven French monks last month stormed the monastery once before three years ago but left empty-handed after the monks confronted them, a French priest said.

The Roman Catholic priest, Father Bernard Rerolle, said in an article published by the French daily newspaper Le Monde Friday that the head of the monastery, Father Christian, told him how the armed guerrillas had broken in on Christmas Eve, 1993, demanding money.

"You know about religious obedience .... Our own religious law bans anyone with weapons from entering our monastery," Rerolle, who has stayed at the convent, quoted Father Christian as telling the fundamentalist gunmen.

"This is Christmas night .... At midnight we must pray to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the prince of peace," Christian also told the guerrillas.

"I'm sorry, I didn't know," the guerrillas' chief was said to have replied, adding, "Since it's Christmas, we'll leave without taking anything -- but we'll come back."

The seven monks were kidnapped from their monastery in the region of Medea, 45 miles south of Algiers, 10 days ago. The Algerian newspaper El Watan said this week they were still alive and might be hidden in abandoned mines.

Rerolle said the guerrilla chief was the son of a harki -- Algerians who fought alongside French troops against Algerian independence fighters -- and he had since been killed.

He said Father Christian had turned down the guerrillas' demand to take a doctor monk with them to treat their casualties.

The monk, Brother Luc, 82, was among those kidnapped this time.

He said the Trappist monks called the guerrillas, hiding in the hills, "brothers of the mountains." They called soldiers and police hunting the fundamentalists "brothers of the plain."

Rerolle said Christian had told the monks after their Christmas fright that they were free to leave the monastery. He said they took a secret ballot and all voted to stay.

About 50,000 people have died in civil strife in Algeria since the government canceled a 1992 general election which Muslim fundamentalists were poised to win.


ASSOCIATED PRESS - Friday, 5 April 1996

Fear of bombings keeps pilgrims away from Good Friday procession

Copyright © 1996 Nando.net
Copyright © 1996 The Associated Press

JERUSALEM (Apr 5, 1996 2:30 p.m. EST) -- Amid fresh threats of suicide bombings, thousands of Christian pilgrims from around the world gathered in Jerusalem on Good Friday to retrace Jesus' last steps to his crucifixion.

Carrying wooden crosses and chanting hymns, the pilgrims trudged along the cobblestones of the Via Dolorosa -- or Way of Sorrows -- to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, which occupies the site where many Christians believe Jesus was buried and resurrected.

The pilgrims followed robed priests through the maze of the Old City's outdoor market, bumping into Muslim women with bundles of vegetables on their heads.

A drama troupe from California re-enacted the procession.

"Make way for the king of the Jews!" shouted one actor, dressed as a Roman soldier in a red gown and a golden helmet.

Behind him came "Jesus," wearing a crown of thorns and bearing a large wooden cross. Fake blood covered his face and bare chest.

"It is very exciting," said Don Obendorf, a pilgrim from San Francisco. "The vibes and ambiance, it is nice. Jerusalem seems to be a special place."

Obendorf and his wife said they ignored warnings from friends to postpone their trip after four suicide attacks by Islamic militants killed 62 people, including the bombers, in February and March. Two of the bombs went off in Jerusalem.

Others seemed to have heeded the warnings. Fewer than 5,000 pilgrims took part in the procession Friday, compared with some 10,000 in calmer years.

"I think that because of the tensions that are existing now in Israel a lot of pilgrims have canceled their pilgrimages to the Holy Land," said Father Peter Vasko, a Roman Catholic priest who moved to Jerusalem from New York City 11 years ago.

"It is sad because usually this thing is packed," he added, gesturing at the half-filled courtyard before the 800-year-old Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

Palestinian Christians from the West Bank could not attend the Good Friday procession because Israel has sealed off Palestinian areas in response to the bombings. The closure bars 2 million Palestinians from entering Israel.

Shlomo Dror, spokesman for the Israeli government's chief policy adviser on Palestinian affairs, said no exceptions would be made during Good Friday or Easter Sunday, which coincide with the eight-day Jewish holiday of Passover.

Dror said Israel had fresh warnings that Islamic militants would try to disrupt the Jewish holiday with more bombings.

"We know there is a decision to try to carry out some terrorist attacks," Dror said. "Because of security reasons there is no way we can let people come to Jerusalem or to any other place in Israel during the holiday."

Palestinian shopkeepers complained that business was bad. They said that many tourists who did come to the Old City had been warned not to enter stores.

Still, shop owner Ismail Dweidah anticipated better times.

"It is a holy day and we hope that people pray for peace in Jerusalem," Dweidah said.

In a show of friendliness, a small child dressed up in a bow tie and white dress shirt shook the hands of the pilgrims as they marched past his father's shop.

Vasko, the New York priest, said he hoped this Easter would bring out goodwill in Christians, Jews and Muslims.

"Easter for Christians is the new hope after death ... and in a way we can saw that we wish there would be a new life, a hope for new life and a new attitude among all the peoples living in this land where Christ was resurrected," he said.


REUTER INFORMATION SERVICE - Friday, 5 April 1996

Closure, bombings mute Good Friday in Jerusalem

Copyright © 1996 Nando.net
Copyright © 1996 Reuter Information Service

JERUSALEM (Apr 5, 1996 08:35 a.m. EST) - Fear of suicide bombers and Israel's closure of the West Bank and Gaza Strip kept many tourists and Palestinians away from the procession marking Jesus' crucifixion on Good Friday.

The tourists on hand were hardy fatalists.

"There's more chance of catching Mad Cow disease than getting killed in Jerusalem," said Wahid Ali, 39, of Manchester, Britain, referring to the worldwide panic over British beef.

Tourists who thought otherwise obviously stayed home.

"This is totally shocking," said a photojournalist who had covered the annual Christian march in the Old City of Jerusalem through years of Palestinian uprising. "Where is everybody?"

Fathi Taha, a Palestinian restaurateur on the Via Dolorosa, where the Stations of the Cross mark significant points along Jesus' route to the site of the crucifixion, agreed.

"It's about a quarter of what we had last year," Taha said as he watched several thousand pilgrims, scouts and clergy march by in bright sunshine. Amidst the crowd were several dozen men carrying a huge wooden cross. "It's the closure."

Israel sealed off the West Bank and Gaza Strip on February 25 after the first in a wave of suicide bombings by Islamic militants from the areas. In four attacks 58 people were killed in Israel in nine days. The Hamas Islamic group claimed responsibility for the attacks.

The closure has caused great economic hardship. The Israeli human rights group B'Tselem said it also indirectly caused the deaths of eight Arabs by delaying their receiving medical care.

And it means that Palestinians from towns with high numbers of Christians like Ramallah and Bethlehem in the West Bank, were not on hand for Good Friday in Jerusalem, which Israel considers part of its sovereign territory.

There are an estimated 65,000 Christians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, counting Jerusalem. Israel captured Arab East Jerusalem in 1967 and annexed it despite world opposition.

The heads of Christian churches in the Holy Land on Tuesday called for an end to violence.

"We address our appeal to our Palestinian people, Christians and Moslems, and invite them to allow peace to be born and to cease all violence," said an Easter Message signed by the heads of 11 major Christian denominations in Jerusalem.

"We address the same appeal also to the Jewish people. Palestinians are your peace partners, your brothers for building a new Israeli and Palestinian society," it said.

But faith in the historic 1993 Israel-PLO interim peace accord is quickly waning.

On Friday, once the organised processions passed, the narrow streets of the Old City were cool -- and empty.

Christian Arab men were passing a lazy afternoon in the Salon Mirage barbershop near the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, traditional site of the crucifixion and resurrection.

"You couldn't walk in the street last year," proprietor Tony Bulatta said.

Ghassan, 29, his head rigid under the clippers, said Israel's security measures were backfiring. He did not leave much hope the call of the church leaders would be heeded.

"Unfortunately, the Christians don't support Hamas. They should. I support it," Ghassan said. "They pressure Israel."


REUTER INFORMATION SERVICE - Friday, 5 April 1996

Philippine crucifixions mark gory Good Friday

Copyright © 1996 Nando.net
Copyright © 1996 Reuter Information Service

CUTUD, Philippines (Apr 5, 1996 08:35 a.m. EST) - Fourteen people were crucified in the Philippines on Good Friday and dozens whipped their own backs into bloody pulp as the country commemorated the death of Jesus Christ nearly 2,000 years ago.

One Japanese and 13 Filipinos were nailed to wooden crosses under a broiling noon sun while thousands of tourists from the United States, Japan and Europe gawked at the spectacle in Asia's only majority Catholic country.

The Catholic Church however frowns on the bloody rites which combine Catholic fervour with traditional primitive beliefs.

Schinichiro Kaneko, a 28-year-old Japanese Catholic from Tokyo, screamed in pain as gleaming five-inch (12.5 cm) nails were hammered into his palms and feet by Filipinos dressed as Roman centurions.

"I take responsibility for all these troubles," Kaneko said in a statement absolving local officials from any charges in case he died while impaled on the cross.

He was taken down 10 minutes later and wept while scores of Filipinos laughed.

No one has ever died during the annual spectacle.

A late addition in Cutud increased to 12 the number of people crucified in the district. A couple was nailed to crosses in the nearby town of Santo Tomas.

Kaneko was the second foreigner crucified in Cutid and his assistants said he had undertaken the crucifixion to ask for God's help to cure an ailing younger brother.

One of the men who flagellated himself with a bamboo whip encrusted with glass shards said the rite was part of a vow he took to implore God to stop the flow of volcanic mud called lahar from nearby Mount Pinatubo.

"I am doing this to ask God to remove the lahar from my village," said Ernesto Castro, a 54-year-old farmer.

Mudflows from Pinatubo, which erupted in 1991, have devastated the region's farms and buried towns in its wake.

Reaction by tourists to the crucifixions ranged from revulsion to admiration.

"It's nice to see, but it's crazy," said Frank Demeyere, a 27-year-old native of Brussels who works in Hong Kong for a trading company.

"Religion drives people too far," said Antoinette Bruin, a 25-year-old secretary from Rotterdam.

"I think it's really amazing, especially that guy who came from Japan just to make a testimony to the people here," said Joshua Stanbro, a 24-year-old student from Los Angeles.

George Morgan, a 41-year-old businessman from London, was horrified about the risk of contracting AIDS.

"It's very interesting to understand a bit of the local culture. I wasn't disappointed but these people should be more careful about the HIV virus," he said.

Local officials assured participants only clean nails were used.

The 14 individuals were nailed to the cross for about 15 minutes before being brought down and given herbs to close their wounds.

Roland Ocampo, who has been nailed to the cross every Good Friday for the past seven years, defended the practice and said he would continue being crucified as part of a vow to God.

"I am doing this because the birth of my wife went well," he said as he winced in pain after his ordeal.

Hawkers in Cutud did a brisk business selling soft drinks, fried fish balls and wide-brimmed hats along the narrow two-lane road leading to the crucifixion site.


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