National Catholic Register

Vatican

Vatican Notes & Quotes

From selected publications

BY Jim Cosgrove

February 21-27, 1999 Issue | Posted 2/21/97 at 2:00 PM

 

Pope Invited to Fatima

Reuters News Service, Feb. 10—Portugal's bishops will extend an invitation for Pope John Paul to visit Fatima on May 13, the anniversary of Mary's apparitions there, said the Portuguese Church's radio Renascenca.

Reuters also said, “The Pope, who is known for his devotion to the Virgin, last visited Fatima in 1991 when he came to give thanks for having survived an assassination attempt in Rome 10 years previously.

“He was shot and wounded by the Turkish gunman Ali Agca and attributed his survival to the divine intervention by the Virgin.”

Meanwhile a British Catholic newspaper, The Universe, reported Jan. 31, that Fatima supporters were expecting that sometime during 1999 Rome would approve the beatification of the two Fatima visionaries who have died, Francisco and Jacinta. A miraculous cure of a woman bedridden for 22 years with spinal paralysis has been attributed to the intercession of Jacinta, though the Vatican has not yet ruled on its authenticity.

The third visionary, Lucia, is 91 years old and lives as a Carmelite nun at Coimbra, Portugal.

Must Catholics Oppose the Death Penalty?

Philadelphia Inquirer, Feb. 7—When he was in St. Louis, the Pope made “one of his most forceful efforts at ‘closing the door’ on the death penalty,” said Anthony Cardinal Bevilacqua, according to a report in the Inquirer. The paper investigated whether the Pope's position could become a litmus test of Catholics’ faithfulness to Church teaching.

In St. Louis, John Paul insisted that punishment “even in the case of one who has done great evil” should be limited to other methods than the death penalty.

The Pope's campaign for change caught greater public notice when Gov. Mel Carnahan of Missouri heeded his appeal to “have mercy on Mr. Mease.” In a move that could hurt him politically, the governor commuted the death sentence of triple murder Darrell Mease to life in prison without parole.

Does this mean that Catholics must oppose the death penalty? Cardinal Bevilacqua responded that “it will take time for people's attitudes to change,” and that the Church is in “a period of catechesis.” The report quoted him saying, “I do not think that, at the present time, to support the death penalty” means that a person is not Catholic.

The Inquirer pointed out that Church doctrine, as stated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church allows for state execution but only in “cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity,” which the document says may be practically nonexistent in modern societies.