July 08, 2000



In This Issue


Jesuit Decries Police Response to Violence in N Ireland

Fr Gerry Clarke SJ criticized police response to loyalist violence in Northern Ireland after the parades commission banned a Protestant fraternity's annual march through a Catholic neighborhood.

Fr Clarke, who lives on Garvaghy Road, a nationalist enclave where most of the residents are Catholic, said that within the Royal Ulster Constabulary in Portadown, "there seems to be a certain toleration . . . of loyalist madness and extremism."

A police baton charge the night of July 3 dispersed loyalist protesters, members of the Ulster Freedom Fighters, who staged a demonstration at a police barricade erected to block the parade route. For several hours they threw bricks, stones, and bottles filled with acid at the police line until they were dispersed.

"If 50 to 100 members of the INLA [the Irish National Liberation Army, a nationalist terror group] turned up in T-shirts saying 'No to Disarmament,' the reaction, I believe, would have been quite different," said Fr Clarke.

For the third year in a row, the Orange Order was banned from going from Drumcree Chruch to Portadown via Garvaghy Road, as a part of their yearly march to the church to take part in a memorial service for those who died in the Battle of the Somme during World War I. But nationalists see the accompanying parade as an expression of Protestant triumphalism, celebrating the dominance of Protestants over Catholics in Northern Irish society.

Portadown is one of Northern Ireland's most divided communities, with Catholics on Garvaghy Road claiming it is unsafe for them to enter the town at night because of intimidation by Protestant gangs.

Banning the march along Garvaghy Road for the third year in a row, the Northern Ireland Parades Commission said that an Orange Order march may take place along the controversial route in the near future, providing the Orange Order hold talks with residents. But the order is unwilling to do this because the Garvaghy Road residents' elected chief spokesman, Brendan MacCionnaith, has a conviction for a terrorist offense.

Fr Clarke said: "I was surprised that the media made so much of the parades commission's announcement that if the Orange Order talk to residents they might be allowed to march [along Garvaghy Road] in future years. That has always been the situation, but the Orange Order refuse to talk or to meet with the residents' elected representatives. That is untenable: In negotiations you can't dictate who will represent the other side.

"People generally are getting sick and tired of this situation happening every year. The potential for mobilizing Protestantism in Northern Ireland against this is small. The peace process is rolling along, and we have come too far to throw it all away," he said. [Source: CNS. Do not repost electronically]

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Jesuit's Organization Helps Reunite Salvadoran with Family

Nineteen years after he was snatched from the worst massacre of El Salvador's civil war, Jose Gilberto Martinez has found his family again. "I can't believe it's true," Martinez said, embracing his parents as they met for the first time in almost two decades.

This was the culmination of a five-year search by the San Salvador-based Association in Search of Missing Children, a private organization set up at the end of the war in 1992 by Fr Jon Cortina SJ that helps reunite children and their families who were separated due to violence. "These reunions help the process of reconciliation in El Salvador," said Fr Cortina.

More than 170 have been found and reunited with their natural families, but according to Fr Cortina, Martinez is the first survivor of the El Mozote massacre who was found alive and well.

The archdiocesan human rights office estimates that 1,000 peasants died during the three-day killing spree by government soldiers in villages in the northeastern province of Morazan in December 1981.

The organization has been searching for more than 300 children who disappeared during the 12-year conflict, most of them snatched by government soldiers on antiguerrilla sweeps through the countryside. It was a soldier from one of the battalions who saved the 6-year-old Martinez.

When the operation was over, the soldier left the boy with his own family, who raised him for the next decade.

Fr Cortina said the association does not try to take the youngsters away from their new families. "No one should be afraid of giving information about the missing children. We don't want to take these children away from where they are living, but they do have a right to know who they are," he said. [Source: CNS. Do not repost electronically]

Another story about Fr Cortina's organization written by Jerry Pokar, university editor at John Carroll University, is at: www.companysj.com/v171/healing.html

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JRS Concerned about Premature Repatriation of Burundians

JRS in Eastern Africa has expressed concern to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) about premature repatriation of Burundian refugees from Tanzania. UNHCR has been quoted as saying that the refugees will be repatriated if the Arusha talks result in peace for Burundi.

JRS Eastern Africa director, Stephen Power SJ said that if the repatriation was mistimed, the refugees could end up joining Burundi's 800,000 internally displaced people. "Any quick-fix solution could be very premature. There is no apparent breakthrough in the Arusha talks and no evidence of change within Burundi," Br Power said in a letter to the UNHCR director for Great Lakes and the Horn. There are over 350,000 Burundian refugees in camps in Tanzania's western region of Kigoma. [Source: JRS Dispatches]

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Jesuit to Step Down from Catholic Charities in 2001

After nine years as president of Catholic Charities USA, Fr Fred Kammer SJ will step down from his position at the end of his term in September 2001.

In announcing his decision, Fr Kammer said it is an appropriate time for him to leave because he has met his goals for Catholic Charities, helping guide it to sound footing spiritually, structurally, and financially.

Fr Kammer said he hopes to take a sabbatical after he steps down and before he receives a new assignment from the Jesuits. [Source: CNS. Do not repost electronically]

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Jesuits Discuss Decline in Confessions

Fr Urbano Navarrete SJ, a consultant to the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, and other officials spoke about the decline in confessions during a presentation of a book containing 12 speeches on confession by Pope John Paul II. "A significant number of priests are confused about the need for confession, and they don't preach about it often enough," Fr Navarrete said.

The 12 speeches in the book, Fr Navarrete said, are part of Pope John Paul's campaign to "safeguard and renew the practice of the sacrament of confession."

The speeches give priests precise guidelines and suggestions for celebrating the sacrament, focusing on the need to be welcoming and open as well as the obligation to seek the truth and to present fully the teaching of the Church.

Fr Ivan Fucek SJ, the Apostolic Penitentiary's theologian, said it is not enough for people who have committed a serious sin to ask God's forgiveness.

"We must ask God everyday, even several times a day, to forgive our sins," he said. "But Jesus instituted this sacrament, giving the power to forgive sins to the Apostles and through them to his church.

"Sins can only be forgiven through sacramental confession made with a minister of Christ's church," Fr Fucek said. [Source: CNS. Do not repost electronically]

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US Jesuit helps HIV-positive Children in Kenya

"We give them a chance to die with dignity," says Fr Angelo D'Agostino SJ, who runs a hospice for HIV-positive orphans in Nairobi that cares for about 70 children at Nyumbani. The hospice takes its name from the Swahili word meaning "to raise the child."

The children at the hospice were abandoned in hospitals or had no one to care for them. Many are brought to the center by social workers.

The World Health Organization says that by 2001 the number of AIDS orphans will likely number about 13 million worldwide, with the majority of them from Africa. Fr D'Agostino faces some opposition to the hospice concept that he developed because it removes children from a family or community setting.

But at Nyumbani, the children live in group homes where there is an effort to develop that missing sense of family. There is a house mother and about a dozen children in each home. He emphasizes that each unit is "run like a home" with a common school and playground—and in back, a cemetery.

Fr D'Agostino says that the lab at Nyumbani, probably the best-equipped medical lab in the country, can constantly monitor the progress of the virus and that the children in his care "live longer with good nutrition and care."

Fr D'Agostino blames the imminent death the youngsters face on economics: "If we had the funds for the new drugs, most of these 70 children would not have to die." [Source: CNS. Do not repost electronically]

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Holy Cross Mummy to Undergo Restoration

An Egyptian mummy stored in Holy Cross's Dinand Library for the past 104 years—since it was donated by an alumnus in 1896—will be studied and restored by the Winterthur Museum in Delaware.

The mummy, which had begun to deteriorate, is 29 inches long and is believed to be the remains of a young girl named "Tanet-pahekau," which translates as "daughter of the magic god." Since its arrival at Holy Cross the mummy has remained inside a coffin inscribed with hieroglyphs.

The museum will do the restoration for free and keep the artifact in the museum for two years before it is returned to Holy Cross. [Holy Cross Magazine]

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Remembrance of Things Past

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From the Editor

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Page maintained by Richard VandeVelde, SJ, [email protected] Copyright(c) 1999, 2000 Company Magazine. Created: 6/13/2000 Updated: 8/13/00