ZENIT, September 5, 2000 - The World Seen From Rome


Declaration of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

VATICAN CITY, SEP 5 (ZENIT.org).- In the lively contemporary debate on the relationship between Christianity and the other religions, some Catholic theologians have argued that all religions may be equally valid ways of salvation. In answer to this theory, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith today presented a new document, "Dominus Iesus," which addresses universal salvation in Christ and in the Church.

The document pays particular attention to relativistic theories that have been presented that either deny or view as superseded certain fundamental truths of the Catholic faith regarding the definitive and complete character of the revelation of Jesus, the inspired nature of the books of Sacred Scripture, the inseparable personal unity between the Eternal Word and Jesus of Nazareth, the unicity and salvific universality of the mystery of the incarnation, passion, death, and resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the universal salvific mediation of the Church, the inseparability - while recognizing the distinction - of the kingdom of God, the kingdom of Christ, and the Church, and the subsistence of the one Church of Christ in the Catholic Church.

Such theories are based on philosophical and theological presuppositions which have become quite common. The Declaration highlights some of these; for example, the conviction of the total elusiveness and inexpressibility of divine truth, even by Christian revelation; relativistic attitudes toward truth itself, which would hold that what is true for some would not be true for others; the radical opposition posited between the logical mentality of the West and the symbolic mentality of the East; the subjectivism which regards reason as the only source of knowledge; the metaphysical emptying of the mystery of the incarnation; the eclecticism of those who, in theological research, uncritically absorb ideas from a variety of philosophical and religious contexts without regard for consistency, systematic connection, or compatibility with Christian truth; finally, the tendency to read and to interpret Sacred Scripture outside the Tradition and Magisterium of the Church. Because of this debate, the International Theological Commission published a document in 1997 entitled Christianity and the World Religions, which illustrated, with ample biblical references and theological arguments, the lack of foundation of pluralistic theologies of religions, and which reasserted the unicity and salvific universality of the mystery of Christ and the Church, as the source of all salvation both inside and outside Christianity. Given, however, the rapid spread of the relativistic and pluralistic mentality, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has intervened with the present Declaration in order to set forth and clarify certain truths of the faith, following St. Paul's example: "I handed on to you as of first importance what I myself received" (1 Cor 15:3).

The Declaration is structured in six sections, which summarize the essential elements of the doctrine of the Catholic faith on the meaning and salvific value of the other religions.

I. The fullness and definitiveness of the revelation of Jesus Christ
Against the theory of the limited, incomplete, or imperfect character of the revelation of Jesus Christ, which would be complementary to that found in other religions, the Declaration reiterates the teaching of the Catholic faith regarding the full and complete revelation of the salvific mystery of God in Jesus Christ. Since Jesus is true God and true man, his words and deeds manifest the totality and definitiveness of the revelation of the mystery of God, even if the depth of that mystery remains in itself transcendent and inexhaustible. Consequently, while admitting that other religions not infrequently reflect a ray of that Truth which enlightens all men (cf. Second Vatican Council, Declaration Nostra aetate, 2), the Declaration reaffirms that the designation of inspired texts is reserved for the canonical books of the Old and New Testaments, because these are inspired by the Holy Spirit, have God as their author, and teach firmly, faithfully, and without error the truth about God and human salvation. The Declaration also states that the distinction must be firmly held between theological faith, which is adherence to the truth revealed by the One and Triune God, and belief in the other religions, which is religious experience still in search of the absolute truth and still lacking assent to God who reveals himself.

II. The Incarnate Logos and the Holy Spirit in the work of salvation
Against the thesis of a twofold salvific economy, that of the eternal Word, which would be universal and valid also outside the Church, and that of the incarnate Word, which would be limited to Christians, the Declaration reasserts the unicity of the of the salvific economy of the one incarnate Word, Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of the Father. The mystery of his incarnation, death, and resurrection is the sole and universal source of salvation for all humanity. Indeed, the mystery of Christ has its own intrinsic unity, which extends from the eternal choice in God to the parousia: "he [the Father] chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world" (Eph 1:4). Jesus is the mediator and the universal redeemer. Thus, the theory of a salvific economy of the Holy Spirit with a more universal character than that of the incarnate Word, crucified and risen, is erroneous. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of the risen Christ, and his action cannot be placed outside or alongside that of Christ. There is a single trinitarian economy, willed by the Father and realized in the mystery of Christ by the working of the Holy Spirit.

III. The Unicity and universality of the salvific mystery of Jesus Christ
The Declaration reasserts the unicity and salvific universality of the mystery of Jesus Christ, who through the event of his incarnation, death, and resurrection has brought the history of salvation to fulfilment; in Jesus Christ, salvation history has its fullness, its centre, and its source. At the same time, however, Christ's unique mediation does not exclude participated forms of mediation of various types and degrees; these, however, receive meaning and value only from that of Christ and cannot be understood as parallel or complementary. Theories of a salvific action of God beyond the unique mediation of Christ are contrary to the Catholic faith.

IV. Unicity and unity of the Church
The Lord Jesus continues his presence and his work of salvation in the Church and by means of the Church, which is his body. Just as the head and members of a living body, though not identical, are inseparable, so too Christ and the Church can neither be confused nor separated.

Therefore, in connection with the unicity and universality of the salvific mediation of Jesus Christ, the unicity of the Church founded by him must be firmly believed as a truth of Catholic faith. The Catholic faithful are required to profess that there is an historical continuity between the Church founded by Christ and the Catholic Church.

In fact, this one Church of Christ "subsists in the Catholic Church, governed by the Successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him"(Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium, 8). With regard to the "many elements of sanctification and truth"(ibid.) which exist outside the structure of the Church, that is to say, in those Churches and ecclesial communities which are not yet in full communion with the Catholic Church, it must be stated that "they derive their efficacy from the very fullness of grace and truth entrusted to the Catholic Church"(Second Vatican Council, Decree Unitatis redintegratio, 3).

Those Churches which do not accept the Catholic doctrine of the Primacy of the Bishop of Rome remain united to the Catholic Church by means of the closest bonds, that is, by apostolic succession and a valid Eucharist. Therefore, the Church of Christ is present and operative also in these Churches, even though they lack full communion with the Catholic Church. On the other hand, the ecclesial communities which have not preserved the valid Episcopate and the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic mystery, are not Churches in the proper sense; however, those who are baptized in these communities are in a certain communion, albeit imperfect, with the Catholic Church. "Therefore, these separated Churches and communities as such, though we believe they suffer from defects, have by no means been deprived of significance and importance in the mystery of salvation" (Second Vatican Council, Decree Unitatis redintegratio, 3).

V. The Church: kingdom of God and kingdom of Christ
The mission of the Church is "to proclaim and establish among all peoples the kingdom of Christ and of God, and she is, on earth, the seed and the beginning of that kingdom" (Lumen gentium, 5). On the one hand, the Church is the "sign and instrument of intimate union with God and of the unity of the entire human race" (ibid., 1) and thus the sign and instrument of the kingdom: she is called to announce and to establish the kingdom. On the other hand, the Church is the "people gathered by the unity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit"(ibid., 4): she is therefore "the kingdom of Christ already present in mystery" (ibid., 3) and constitutes its seed and beginning. There can be various theological explanations of these questions. However, the intimate connection between Christ, the kingdom, and the Church cannot be denied or emptied in any way. In fact, the kingdom of God which we know from revelation "cannot be detached either from Christ or from the Church" (John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Redemptoris missio, 18).

However, the kingdom of God is not identified with the Church in her visible and social reality. Indeed, "the action of Christ and the Spirit outside the Church's visible boundaries" must not be excluded (ibid.). In considering the relationship between the kingdom of God, the kingdom of Christ, and the Church, it is necessary to avoid one-sided emphases, as is the case of those who, in speaking about the kingdom of God, are silent about Christ, or put great stress on the mystery of creation, but remain silent about the mystery of redemption, because - they say - Christ cannot be understood by those who lack Christian faith, whereas different peoples, cultures and religions are capable of finding common ground in the one divine reality, by whatever name it is called. Furthermore, the kingdom, as they understand it, ends up either leaving very little room for the Church or undervaluing the Church. These approaches deny the unicity of the relationship which Christ and the Church have with the kingdom of God.

VI. The Church and the other religions in relation to salvation
From what has been stated above, some points follow that are necessary for theological reflection as it explores the relationship of the Church and of the other religions to salvation. Above all, it must be firmly believed that "the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church" (Lumen gentium, 14). This doctrine must not be set against the universal salvific will of God; rather, "it is necessary to keep these two truths together, namely, the real possibility of salvation in Christ for all mankind and the necessity of the Church for this salvation" (Redemptoris missio, 9). For those who are not formally members of the Church, "salvation in Christ is accessible by virtue of a grace which, while having a mysterious relationship to the Church, does not make them formally part of the Church, but enlightens them in a way which is accommodated to their spiritual and material situation. This grace comes from Christ; it is the result of his sacrifice and is communicated by the Holy Spirit" (ibid.).

With regard to the way in which the salvific grace of God comes to individual non-Christians, the Second Vatican Council limited itself to the statement that God bestows it "in ways known to himself" (Second Vatican Council, Decree Ad gentes, 7). Theology is currently seeking to understand this question more deeply. At the same time, however, it is clear that it would be contrary to the Catholic faith to consider the Church as a way of salvation alongside those constituted by the other religions.

Certainly, the various religious traditions contain and offer religious elements that are part of what "the Spirit brings about in human hearts and in the history of peoples, in cultures, and religions" (Redemptoris missio, 29). One cannot attribute to these, however, a divine origin or an ex opere operato salvific efficacy, which is proper to the Christian sacraments. Furthermore, it cannot be overlooked that other rituals, insofar as they follow from superstitions or other errors (cf. 1 Cor 10:20-21), constitute an obstacle to salvation.

With the coming of the Savior Jesus Christ, God has willed that the Church founded by him be the instrument of salvation for all humanity. This truth of faith does not lessen the sincere respect which the Church has for the religions of the world, but at the same time it rules out, in a radical way, that mentality of indifferentism "characterized by a religious relativism which leads to the belief that 'one religion is as good as another'"(Redemptoris missio, 36). As demanded by her love for all people, the Church "proclaims and is in duty bound to proclaim without fail, Christ who is 'the way, the truth, and the life' (Jn 14:6). In him, in whom God reconciled all things to himself (cf. 2 Cor 5:18-19), men find the fullness of their religious life"(Nostra Aetate, 2).

The intention of the present Declaration is to reiterate and clarify certain truths of the faith in the face of problematic and even erroneous propositions. In treating the question of the true religion, the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council taught: "We believe that this one true religion continues to exist in the Catholic and Apostolic Church, to which the Lord Jesus entrusted the task of spreading it among all people. Thus, he said to the Apostles: 'Go therefore and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you' (Mt 28: 19-20). Especially in those things that concern God and his Church, all persons are required to seek the truth, and when they come to know it, to embrace it and hold fast to it" (Second Vatican Council, Declaration Dignitatis humanae, 1).

If Everything Is Relative, Christianity Makes No Sense

VATICAN CITY, SEP 5 (ZENIT.org).- If everything is relative, not only Christianity but all religions are no more than useless theoretical musings, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger explained this morning, when presenting the "Dominus Iesus" Declaration to the press. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, of which he is prefect, prepared the declaration, which also forthrightly relaunches the ecumenical dialogue and discussions among religions.

Religions Are Not Comparable
"In the lively contemporary debate on the relation between Christianity and other religions, the path is open to consider that all religions are equally valid roads to salvation for their followers. This is a widespread conviction today not only in theological environments, but also in ever greater sectors of Catholic and non-Catholic public opinion, especially those most influenced by the cultural orientation that prevails in the West today, which can be defined, without the fear of contradiction, by one word: relativism," the Cardinal clarified.

However, if everything is relative, if all religions are comparable, the consequence is logical, the Cardinal stated: "Refusal to identify the historical figure of Jesus of Nazareth with the very reality of God, the living God."

False Tolerance
Cardinal Ratzinger, 73, believes that relativism ultimately leads to doing away with the Christian concept of Christ and his Church. In fact, a false idea of tolerance leads "to marginalizing those who are determined to defend the Christian identity and to spread the universal and salvific truth of Jesus Christ."

"This false idea of tolerance is linked to the loss and renouncing of truth, which today is regarded by many as a second class, irrelevant question," the Cardinal lamented. This tolerance, which accepts everything, and is not concerned with truth, is disguised by the malformation of concepts such as democracy, dialogue, or meeting of cultures, Cardinal Ratzinger emphasized.

Relative Religions?
This is the weak spot of contemporary culture: as there is no seeking for truth, "faith is no longer distinguished from superstition, and experience from illusion." In this way, the Cardinal who has led the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for 19 years, said, "without a serious search for truth, appreciation for other religions becomes something absurd and contradictory, as there is no criterion to find out what is positive in a religion, as opposed to what is negative or the fruit of superstition or deception."

As regards the dialogue with other religions, Cardinal Ratzinger, a theologian who won international renown during Vatican Council II, specified that the idea that all religions in the world are complementary to Christian revelation "is erroneous." However, everything that is good and true in religions must not be lost, what is more, it must be recognized and appreciated. Wherever good and truth are found, these come from the Father and are the work of the Spirit; the seeds of the Logos are spread everywhere. But we cannot close our eyes in face of errors and deceptions, which are also present in religions."

Finally, Cardinal Ratzinger concluded: "esteem and respect for the religions of the world, as well as for the cultures that have offered an objective enrichment to promoting human dignity and the development of civilization, do not diminish the unique and original character of the revelation of Jesus Christ, and do not limit in the least the missionary task of the Church."

Church's Magisterium
Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone, secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said during the press conference that when the Vatican publishes a "Declaration," "it is not teaching new doctrines, but rather reaffirming and summarizing the doctrine of the Catholic faith defined or taught in previous documents of the Church's Magisterium, indicating its correct interpretation, in face of doctrinal errors or ambiguities diffused in today's theological and ecclesial ambience."

In regard to the Declaration's authority, Bishop Bertone explained that "as it is a doctrinal document of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, expressly approved by the Supreme Pontiff, it is part of the universal Magisterium. Because of this, although it is not an act of the Magisterium of the Supreme Pontiff himself, nevertheless it reflects his thought, as it was explicitly approved and confirmed by the Pope, and also indicates his will that its content be considered by the whole Church, as he himself ordered its publication."

"Therefore, the faithful are asked for their definitive and irrevocable assent," Bishop Bertone concluded.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger Responds

VATICAN CITY, SEP 5 (ZENIT.org).- "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 Iesus" 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 future. 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." This state of conscience impedes some Christians from understanding the importance and necessity of unicity and the unity of the Church.

Peruvian Cardinal Courageously Denounced Futility of Terrorist Violence

VATICAN CITY, SEP 5 (ZENIT.org).- In a telegram to Archbishop Juan Luis Cipriani, following the death, yesterday, of Cardinal Augusto Vargas Alzamora, retired Archbishop of Lima, John Paul II recalled the "abnegated pastoral action" and "faithfulness to Christ and the successor of Peter," the deceased Cardinal demonstrated with his life.

Cardinal Vargas Alzamora was born on November 9, 1922 in Lima. He was ordained a priest in the Society of Jesus on July 15, 1955. After he earned degrees in philosophy and theology, Paul VI appointed him Apostolic Bishop-Vicar of St. Francis Xavier in Jaen. He received the episcopal consecration on August 15, 1978, and was elected secretary general of the Peruvian Episcopal Conference in 1982, a post he retained until 1990. In that year he became Archbishop of Lima and Primate of Peru. John Paul II created him a Cardinal in the consistory of November 26, 1994. In January of last year he handed his pastoral staff to the present Archbishop, Juan Luis Cipriani.

Archbishop Vargas Alzamora made vibrant appeals against violence, during the tragic days of terrorism and civil disorder, which the Shining Path guerrillas used as a means of "resolving" social injustice.

Cardinal Vargas Alzamora was president of the Peruvian Episcopal Conference for two consecutive periods, from 1993 to 1999, retiring at the end of his work as Archbishop of Lima and Primate of Peru. He spent the last years of his life fulfilling his pastoral ministry in the Home of Christ, a charity for the needy, which he founded when he was the capital's Archbishop.

Cardinal Vargas Alzamora expired at 2:15 a.m. yesterday in a Clinic he had entered on May 30, suffering from massive brain haemorrhage.

Upon receiving news of the Cardinal's death, John Paul II assured Peruvian faithful of his "fervent prayers, united to the faithul of that diocesan community, where he exercized his episcopal ministry with solicitude, asking God to grant eternal rest to him, who for years was his diligent pastor."

The Cardinal's funeral will take place tomorrow afternoon in Lima's Cathedral.

With the Peruvian Cardinal's death, the College of Cardinals is reduced to 146, 99 of whom are electors.

Remembers Third Anniversary of Her Death

VATICAN CITY, SEP 5 (ZENIT.org).- On the third anniversary of Mother Teresa's death, John Paul II held a special audience for the Missionaries of Charity, adoptive parents, and collaborators of Mother Teresa of Calcutta's work. There were 7,000 people in attendance.

Recalling that "singular daughter of the Church, who gave herself completely to charity," the Holy Father said: "Let us remember her smile, her profound eyes, her Rosary beads. We still think we see her walking through the world seeking the poorest of the poor."

For many years, John Paul II was a close friend of this Nobel Peace Prize winning Albanian religious. It was the Pope who asked her to establish "Domus Mariae" next to the Vatican, where Missionaries of Charity welcome homeless women in Rome, and give them food, clothing, and human and spiritual assistance.

"We know well what her secret was: she was filled with Christ, and thus looked at everyone with the eyes and heart of Christ... She never tired of 'adopting' her poor as children. Her love was concrete, diligent; it pushed her to go where few had the courage to go, where misery was so great that it filled people with fear."

Highlighting Mother Teresa's "spiritual motherhood," the Holy Father spoke of her movement for adoptions, adding that "adopting a child is a great work of love."

However, he pointed out, "in today's world there are many contradictions, even in this sphere. For the many children... who have no families, there are many couples who decide not to have children, often for selfish reasons. Others allow themselves to be discouraged by economic, social, or bureaucratic difficulties. Still others, who want their 'own' child at any cost, go well beyond the legitimate help that medical science offers to procreation."

"An alternative to these questionable ways," he said, "the very existence of so many children without families, suggests that adoption is a concrete path of love."

In closing, Pope John Paul II said: "In a certain sense, Mother Teresa echoed Christ's words, 'Let the children come unto me,' when she told mothers who were tempted to abort: 'Bring your children to me.'"


Approved by United Nations in 1990

TORONTO, SEP 5 (ZENIT.org).- The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) has addressed a letter to Lloyd Axeworthy, Foreign Affairs Minister, on the situation of migrant workers and their families.

In the letter, signed by Archbishop James Weisgerber of Winnipeg, chairman of the Bishops' Commission for Social Affairs, the bishops state that they are taking the initiative given the situation of the International Convention on Protection of the Rights of Migrant Workers and Members of their Families, which was adopted and open for signing, ratification, and adhesion by the U.N. General Assembly in December of 1990. "To date, Canada has declined to sign and ratify this international instrument, which could provide much of the needed protection for the estimated 75 million to 80 million migrant workers in the world today."

"The international economy, encouraged by free trade policies of governments such as Canada's, is tearing down barriers to globalized commerce with increasing frequency. Fast-paced market globalization needs regulation, for without it human values can easily be overlooked. History has shown this to be especially true in the case of migrants, who often are forced to labor in the worst conditions that exist in their arrival country," the letter continues.

The letter also addresses the problem of "environmental refugees," defined by some researchers and United Nations officers as "anyone whose environment has become so hostile or unsustainable that they can no longer remain in their home, community, or homeland, and to which they may never be able to return." Depending on definitions used, the letter continues, "there may be even more persons displaced by environmental crises, natural and man-made disasters than there are refugees from political and civil strife. In so many cases, the levels of human suffering are enormous among migrants who do not choose to, but must, relocate."

The episcopal letters states that, "Recognizing these dilemmas as long ago as 1971, Pope Paul VI wrote of 'the urgent need to be able to advance beyond a strictly nationalistic attitude in regard to migrant workers in order to create a statute that would recognize their right to emigrate, would foster their incorporation, make their professional development easier, and give them access to decent housing where they could reunite their families.'"

The message recalls that, "While defending the human right to migrate, the Church does not encourage its exercise. Speaking in 1990 in favor of the Draft Convention, the representative of the Holy See to the United Nations also noted that 'it would seem equally important to insist on the right to migrate, to be given adequate opportunities to earn a decent living and to raise a family in dignity in the country of one's birth.'" At the same time, the message adds, "it is a matter of crucial moral, social, and economic importance to defend and strengthen the rights of people involved in the migratory process. We believe that the International Convention on the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families improves some existing protections and definitely deserves Canada's firm support."

Archbishop Weisgerber states that the bishops "join several ecumenical coalitions, such as the Inter-Church Committee for Refugees, the Canada-Asia Working Group, and the Canadian Ecumenical Jubilee Initiative, in requesting" the Minister's "thoughtful consideration of the positive implications of Canadian ratification of this international instrument. We are convinced that Canadian leadership in this matter would be a welcome signal of hope, not only for the migrants who come to our shores, but also for the great majority who find themselves in situations of extreme difficulty in many other states around the globe."

Revelations by her Successor, Sister Nirmala

CALCUTTA, SEP 5 (ZENIT.org).- The first phase of Mother Teresa of Calcutta's process of beatification, the diocesan investigation of her life, could end this year. This was affirmed today by Sr. Nirmala, successor of the Albanian religious as leader of the Missionaries of Charity.

"We hope that the investigation will conclude at the end of the year," Sr. Nirmala said to a group of reporters, at the end of a Mass celebrated in the house of the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta, on the third anniversary of the death of the Founder.

Sr. Nirmala, Superior of the Congregation founded over 40 years ago by Mother Teresa, said she was not worried about the pace of the process. The investigations committee has had to examine an "enormous quantity of material," to a large extent letters of faithful from all over the world who say they have received miracles after praying through the intercession of Mother Teresa.

The Missionaries of Charity are trying to fill the void left by Mother "with prayer and the people's help," she concluded.

Commission President Romano Prodi Appeals for Unified Position

BRUSSELS, SEP 5 (ZENIT.org).- Romano Prodi, president of the European Commission, said that "a just balance must be found between ethical rigor, founded on the rejection of exploitation of the human body for commercial ends, and the obligation to respond to therapeutic needs." This was his contribution to the debate on the cloning of embryos, which over the last few days has stirred many and varied positions in different countries of the European Union.

Following the British government's green light to cloning for therapeutic ends, and the U.S. government's similar decision, a position that is not shared by a good many European countries, Prodi made it clear that the objective is for the European executive body to play a role in stimulating an "open debate," which might lead to concurrence among different points of view.

"The Commission will not attempt to legislate or harmonize in this area, but wishes to contribute to the debate through the fifth mark research program, which is inspired in rigorous ethical principles, and through the European Group's contribution to the ethics it hopes to reinforce," Prodi stated.

"Techniques for cloning with therapeutic ends raise ethical questions of primordial importance. However, can one remain indifferent to research that represents hope to be able to cure sickness that today are incurable? It is precisely on this question that a confrontation has arisen in which different sensitivities are expressed within the Community. We must respect this diversity; the Commission can facilitate an open debate that will bring Europeans together around common values," Prodi explained.

Prodi, a politician from the ranks of the former Italian Christian Democracy, did not pronounce himself explicitly on the issue. The Italian Popular Party, however, which launched him on the political scene, has already stated clearly that it is against the abuse of human embryos entailed in cloning, independently of the ends for which it is pursued.

Prodi said that he awaits with "great interest" the opinion that will be given on November 15 by the European Group on Ethics, Science, and New Technologies, which includes some authorized experts of member countries and which, Prodi believes, should be given a greater role in the future.

Auxiliary Bishop Jiang Ming Yuan Was Recently Consecrated

BEIJING, SEP 5 (ZENIT.org).- Eyewitnesses told the international agency "Fides" that Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Jiang Ming Yuan of Zhao Xian (Hebei province) was arrested by security forces on August 26 in the afternoon. Since then, there has been no news of him.

Bishop Jiang Ming Yuan received the episcopal consecration on August 8; he is a member of the underground Catholic Church, which is not recognized by the government. Over the last few months, the Communist regime did everything possible to impede his consecration. The government, which is intent on selecting patriotic bishops, has held a series of monthly meetings for ideological indoctrination and is relentless in claiming control over religions. However, priests and faithful have remained united and, on August 8, without governmental permission, celebrated Bishop Jiang's consecration from the hands of Bishop Raymond Wang Chong Lin of Zhao Xian, who is quite elderly. 26 priests took part in the ceremony, as well as more than 1,000 faithful, and all the religious of the flourishing diocesan Congregation of St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus.

Bishop Jiang's arrest is another chapter in the 6-year old campaign launched by the Chinese government to put an end to the clandestine Church. Bishop James Su Zhimin, 68, and his Auxiliary Bishop Francis An Shuxin, 51, both clandestine bishops of Baoding, are in some unknown place in the Hebei region. They disappeared through police action in 1996. Other bishops of the region are under house arrest.

The pressure is not just on Catholics. Yesterday, it was made known that the Chinese authorities formally declared the arrest of 85 of the 130 Christians detained last month, under the accusation of being part of an "heretical cult." This was disclosed by the Hong Kong "Information Center on Human Rights," according to which those arrested are members of the Fangcheng Evangelical Church, one of the numerous Protestant denominations not recognized by the Chinese government and, consequently, regarded as illegal.

The 130 Protestants were detained on August 23 in the Xihua district in the Henan region. The arrest of 85 of them was confirmed two days later. All the others, including 3 U.S.missionaries, were released. They were accused of using the "heretical cult" for illegal purposes, according to the official communication given to the family of one of those detained.


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