ROME—The star columnist of Europe's best selling Catholic magazine was sacked for recommending pornography for married couples.
Fr Leonardo Zega, Italy's most popular agony uncle, was dismissed by Famiglia Cristiana for giving the
controversial advice in his "Conversation with a Priest" column. He said that married couples should use pornography if it helps their married life.
An Italian bishop, Antonio Buoncristiani, immediately called on St Paul's, who publish the magazine, to dismiss Fr Zega.—(KNA)
ROME—Polish Primate Cardinal Glemp told an Italian newspaper that John Paul II threatened to resign as pope and return to Poland if the Soviet Union invaded it.
Cardinal Glemp confirmed rumours that the Pope made the threat in 1981, when Soviet forces were poised to invade Poland to quell anti-communist dissents.
"The Holy Father in those days was very upset and concerned for the fate of his country. He was ready for anything, even to leave the leadership of the Church so as to be able to defend the liberty of the country," Cardinal Glemp said.—(The Tablet)
WARSAW—One of the four policemen convicted of the murder of Solidarity priest, Fr Jerzy Popieluszko, will shortly be paroled.
Grzegorz Piotrowski, a captain in communist Poland's feared security services, was sentenced to 25 years imprisonment for the assassination of Fr Popieluszko in 1984. This was later commuted to 15 years.
A provincial court gave Piotrowski parole two years before the end of his sentence. The decision will he challenged by the prosecutor's office, which objected to his early release.— (The Tablet)
WARSAW—A Polish priest was sentenced to two years in jail and fined £4,000 for smuggling cars across the Polish-German border.
The priest, from Lublin, brought more than a dozen cars into Poland between 1993 and 1994. The cars, sold for an average of £19,000, were not taxed because the authorities believed they would be used for religious and charitable purposes.
Four others, including another cleric, were fined for aiding and abetting the priest.—(KNA) CRACOW—The Archbishop of Prague, a former anti-communist dissident, was awarded the European Human Rights Award here last week.
Archbishop Vaclav Maly received the prize, sponsored by the Strasbourgbased European Commission for Human Rights, for his outspoken opposition to Czechoslovakia's communist dictators.
The 48-year-old archbishop signed the famous Charter 77 petition along with other prominent dissidents including president Vaclav Havel. In 1979, the state prevented him from publicly serving as a priest and he was forced to work as a cleaner. He became spokesman for the Charter 77 movement and played a leading role in the transition to democracy, leading prayers at anti-communist rallies in 1989. In 1996, he was made Archbishop of Prague.—(Kathpress) human rights campaigner Wei Jingsheng criticised his government's tough policy on religions.
Writing in the bulletin of the Frankfurt International Human Rights Community Wei Jingsheng said: "The situation is worse now than it was 15 years ago."
He explained that since the prodemocracy demonstrations in 1989 the state has tightened its control over religious groups and applied penalties more harshly.—(KNA) HAINAUT, Belgium—Two youths were sentenced to 15 years in prison for the murder of a priest last week.
Fr Jeanne-Pierre Pierart, 58, who ran a home for disturbed youths, was killed with an ice-pick by two 16-year-old residents in February 1997. The youths stole over £100 from Fr Pierart's office and went on a spending spree.—(KNA) BAD WILBEL, Germany—The German branch of the Pax Christi peace movement criticised the social policies of the newly elected government.
Pax Christi said it was alarmed by "minimal" provisions for foreigners and asylum seekers. It accused the new redgreen coalition government, led by Gerhard Schroder, of failing to offer a humane refugee policy.—(KNA) BRUSSELS—The French government launched a bid to prevent euro coins with the Pope's head being circulated outside Italy.
France is concerned that the Vatican's decision to adopt the euro in January 2002 will lead to the circulation of Vatican euros inside France. It argues that as the Vatican is not a full member of the European Union, it should not have the right to issue euros.
EU finance ministers will meet to discuss the problem in November.— (The Independent) PARIS Church authorities sent an
exorcist to investigate supernatural events in a tiny French village church.
Parishioners have reported mysterious phenomena in the Church of St Hubert in Detain, including exploding light bulbs, levitating candle sticks and the decapitation of a statue of Our Lady.
The bishop of Besancon sent Br Max de Wasseige. a franciscan friar to investigate. Br de Wasseige held a prayer meeting with villagers in the church and told them that the Church authorities are at a loss to explain the happenings.
Villagers said that the phenomenon began when the altar was moved to make way for a concert.—(The Independent)
BRUSSELS—Two Socialist senators in Belgium last week called for a change in the country's laws to allow doctors to end the lives of terminally ill patients.
The announcement comes a week after a Belgian doctor told a newspaper that the administering of lethal doses of pain killers to terminally ill patients on request is already common practice.
The anonymous doctor claims that 40 patients a year die this way in his hospital.—(The Guardian) MENEVIA—Bishop Mullins of Menevia announced a Millennium Synod of his entire diocese this week.
The synod will gather representative members of the diocese to discuss crucial issues with the bishop, including the Church's teaching, the Sacraments, the Church community and prayer.
"A diocesan synod is a special coming together of the diocese to establish a vision and plan for the diocesan church," Bishop Mullins said.
LONDON—The government appointed 10 "godparents" to oversee the 12 themed exhibition zones of the
Christopher Frayling, rector of the Royal College of Art, will supervise the Spirit Zone, the area dedicated to Britain's religious history.
Mr Frayling will advise the Dome's organiser the New Millennium Experience Company, on the content of the Spirit Zone. A Hindu foundation agreed last week to underwrite the cost of the zone, after fears that no sponsor would be found.
LONDON—Following recent funding pledged by HSBC, the international banking corporation which owns Midland Bank. the Jesus and Mary Language College put on display newly refurbished science labs earlier this month.
The college, which was founded by the Sisters of the Congregation of Jesus and Mary in 1888, was visited by HSBC Holdings Chairman John Bond, who examined the labs and the language rooms which are to be upgraded later this year.
The school achieved language college status in 1996 and was declared a "good and improving school" by Ofsted inspectors.
HSBC is aiming to strengthen its ties with the education sector worldwide through investment in schools.
Elsewhere, St Bede's School in Durham will be officially relaunched as a Language College on Friday November 6.
LONDON—Latest government figures indicate that the number of women who claim to hold religious beliefs has fallen dramatically in the last 15 years, though they are still more likely to hold religious beliefs than men.
According to the Office for National Statistics in 1997, 62 per cent of adult women — who appear to make up the majority of congregations in Catholic parishes — said that they considered themselves religious, a drop from a 1983 figure of 75 per cent.
While only 50 per cent of men claimed to hold religious beliefs, 58 per cent said they did in 1983.
Angela Perkins, development officer of the National Board of Catholic Women, said that the statistics failed to distinguish between practising and nonpractising Christians who still consider themselves religious.
She said: "We know that women and men are not attending the Churches. People across the generations have been disaffected for different reasons. but it is faith that is the important thing."