The thread about salvation outside the Catholic Church is getting too long and difficult to read for the same reason. I'm starting this one by answering the last messages from Susan.

Susan you wrote:

"It's good to know that you read the Bible daily. As I said before,my entire family is Catholic . Not one of them reads the Bible or even has a clue what it says. And I can only think of two other Catholics that I know who read the Bible on a regular basis."

Boy, this is a poor experience with Bible-reading Catholics!!! As I said before I began reading the Bible since I was a child. In both my grandparents' homes there were illustrated Bibles. These illustrations were perhaps what first attracted us to the Word of God. When I say us I mean my brothers and I. Both my parents were avid Bible readers, and at home there were various editions of the Bible. If you were to visit any of my brothers or sisters' house you will invariably find the Bible, many a time in an honored place in the living room. So I am really surprised to hear from you that your relatives not only don't read the Bible but don't have a clue to what it says.

I used to be a teacher in different Catholic schools and one of the things I always insisted with my students was for them to have a copy of the Bible. I am retired now, but every week I get together with a group of some 30 people and together we read, comment and meditate in the Bible. Haven't you heard about Base Communities? Groups of Catholics who do the same all over Latin America. There are some 130,000 in Brazil alone. In Mexico we have over 50,000. So it seems that your case is a rare exception. I don't deny that there are many Catholics that don't read the Bible, but there are thousands upon thousands that do.

You also say that you were in Catholic Schools for years. You mean that in all those years they didn't give you the love and taste for the Word of God? It is amazing.

You also said:

"What is your favorite verse?"

I have not a favorite verse, even though I could quote many I especially like. But my favorite parts of the Bible are: the four Gospels, and the letters of St. Paul. So much so that my older son's name is JUAN PABLO. Juan, after the author of the fourth Gospel, and Pablo after the great Apostle. He is 30 now, so that his name is older than both Popes who share this name with him. His son is called PABLO. So our admiration for the Apostle of the Gentiles lives on.

You also wrote:

"I would love to have you and Enrique come to church with me.You see, I've been where you are, but you have never experienced what I'm talking about. And you are afraid to find out."

I'll wait for John to give his answer, before posting mine, since this was addressed to him.

God bless you.


-- Enrique Ortiz (, October 15, 2000


Hello, Enrique.
Please be my guest and respond to Susan's comment, rather than wait for me. (She wrote, "I would love to have you and Enrique come to church with me. You see, I've been where you are, but you have never experienced what I'm talking about. And you are afraid to find out.")

Enrique, to provide a bit more context, I am going to copy two more messages here from the old thread:
1) Susan's most recent message. [Please help her by responding to this message (even though it was addressed to me).]
2) Eugene's very welcome return to our conversations.
God bless you.

-- J. F. Gecik (, October 15, 2000.

John, Dude, you are killing me. I am not clinging to any Catholic stuff. I learned more about God in the last 5 years than I learned through 16 years of Catholic school. My Christian truths come from the bible. I would be back-sliding if I went back to Catholicism (is that a correct spell?). My Faith is in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, it has nothing to do with religion. You are trapped in religion. Sorry, I'm very passionate about this. I want my family to be saved. And you too.
You still haven't told me who Jesus is to you.
About what I said about your pope. I heard that from one of my clients. She said that it was in the public pulse section of our local paper. So if it is just gossip or hearsay, I would be very glad to apologize. So, I'm going to have to do some research.
Oh, yea, heartwjesus means Jesus lives in my heart.
Thanks for your input, this banter is exilarating. You see, I love Jesus.
May God draw you closer to Him. Susan
October 14, 2000.

-- Susan Shepherd-Magistro (, October 15, 2000.

Dear Susan, John, (Hello again) and the rest of us,

Where is this all leading? Nothing new here. The world of protestantism is alive and well, all 25,000 separate sects and persuasions stemming from the so-called reformation.

All who favor private interpretation of the words of the Holy Bible (Protestants) give credence to the words of Saint Paul: ''The wisdom of man is folly to God.'' Because they adhere to their own power to ''understand'' the Word of God. Just as the Scribes and Pharisees, who denied Jesus' faultless interpretation of the same, believed in their own powers. Then they become as the blind leading the blind.

In our Church are still some Catholics that dispute the reforming power of Vatican II, to the point of rebelling against the Vicar of Christ himself-- They are flirting with disaster to themselves. This is precisely the error committed by Henry VIII and by Martin Luther, to name the most obvious cases.

To these well-meaning traditionalists I would put a simple question. Did you used to enjoy the fast from midnight to Holy Communion the day after? I didn't. I have to thank Vatican II for this change in our tradition, for one. A drink of water is nice, up to an hour prior to communion; forgive my weakness.

Why not all of us lighten up, Dudes? Give the Protestants their wish, and don't cast your pearls before swine. God will be the Judge. You must remember the words of Jesus Christ (read 'em) ''--If they will not hear the Church-- let them be as the heathen and the publican.'' And where is the Church? It is where the chair of Peter is, Peter, the first bishop of ROME. The Pope is the visible sign to the world of WHERE the True Church is, for all the ages. When the last Bible is being misinterpreted by proud men and women, the Word of God will be found there, as it is from the beginning. Before the coming of the printing press.

-- Eugene C. Chavez (, October 15, 2000.

[Hello, Eugene. I was so very happy to witness your return to the forum! Perhaps I should mention to you that Susan seems to have left Catholicism to join the rolls of those who don't want to belong to a "church" (denomination), but who think that it's OK to have a "Jesus-and-me" religion, based on the bible-only theory. She attends an "interdenominational" service.]

[Folks, at this point, my inclination is not to respond (with brand new words) directly to Susan. Rather, I decided to copy and slightly modify a message that I posted on the old thread more than six months ago. I hope that it will be helpful to someone (Susan or another person). JFG]

I'm sure that there is a Catholic somewhere who could prepare a lengthy questionnaire -- for two randomly chosen non-Catholic Christians to fill out -- concerning all significant matters of faith (doctrine) and morality (virtue/vice). Now let us suppose that those who fill out the questionnaire are Susan and some guy who follows all of Martin Luther's beliefs exactly as he did after he became a heretic.

I would say that the chances are at least 9,999 to 1 that Susan and the man would disagree on several, perhaps many, of the items on the questionnaire. There would very likely be at least one item on which the two people would so seriously disagree that each of them would begin to doubt that the other may actually be saved! This is the Babel-like chaos that has arisen from "sola scriptura" and unguided private interpretation of the Bible.

And that is why there needs to be unity in all matters of faith and morals -- a unity that can only exist if there is a single authoritative body of men, instituted by Jesus to interpret God's revelation without error and to apply it to new moral situations not raised in the Bible. Nowhere can we find this needed authoritative body except in the Catholic Church (i.e., the pope and the bishops united with him).

When a person rejects the pope's and Catholic bishops' teachings, she either operates without any certainty at all (because she must admit that she is fallible on each issue) or she make herself into her own "private pope" (believing herself to be infallible on all matters of faith and doctrine).

God bless you.


-- J. F. Gecik (, October 15, 2000.

Eugene, You wrote.."Where is all this leading?" This started when I heard from a reliable friend that the Pope(Vatican) announced that only Catholics will go to Heaven. OK. I came into this forum to find a way to reach the Pope.Came accross this THREAD on Salvation.OK. Do you believe in Absolute Truth? I believe that Gods Word, The Bible is absolutely true.Do you believe in the Trinity..Father,Son Holy Spirit? What is the Holy Spirits function in your life? I absolutely believe that the Holy Spirit intercedes for me(Romans 8:26,27). When you accept Jesus as your Savior and ask Him to come into your heart,the veil is lifted.You ask Him to empty you of self and fill you with His Holy Spirit.Baptism by the Holy Sirit. I believe in fasting,along with prayer. The"Church" is the Body of people who believe that Jesus is Lord and Savior, that He died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins,that He rose again on the 3rd day, therefore defeating satan. I believe that Jesus said" I am the Way,the Truth and the Life, no one comes to the Father,but by means of Me"(John14:6) Is that what your Bible says or not? God looks at name calling as compared to Murder.When you call me names,you wound my spirit. Next ,you want to pit me against a Lutheran. I have many Lutheran friends.Martin Luther was a brave man. The Pope and Bishops are not infallible, they are mere men. The Holy Spirit is infallible.. I plan to keep you guys in my prayers. Gods Blessings, Susan PS, I'm sorry you don't like the name,DUDE--it just means Friend.

John,The article in the paper came from Richard Ostling,Associated Press.(I have not found the actual article yet)He also writes for "Time" magazine. Bye........

-- Susan Shepherd-Magistro (, October 15, 2000.

Dear Susan,

Go ahead and believe whatever you want. The Catholic Church has never stated that only Catholics can get to heaven. You are a Bible-worshipper. You may think your faith is equal or better than the faith of the Catholic Church. But it's a dim imitation, based on pride. The very fact that you reject the teachings of the Church Jesus Christ most certainly, historically and divinely founded is a symptom of pride; and it attacks the Holy Spirit Himself, He who is the Paraclete sent to His Church by Jesus Christ. Jesus did not send you the Bible. The Holy Bible is compiled of the inspired books written by saints and apostles of the original Catholic Church.

You yourself are descended from Catholics, and there is no way you can deny it. Come back to the faith of your fathers; abandon your pride and obstinacy. If you truly love Jesus Christ, recall His words: ''This is my body'' and ''This is my blood,'' --and come to the Holy Catholic Church to receive the Sacrament of His Body and Blood. He gave it to the Church, with the promise to be ''With you all days.'' No one else except the Catholic Church was promised such a communion with Him. It is clear that God can save someone outside of this communion, because nothing is impossible to Him. But the New Covenant of Jesus, clearly stated in the Gospel expresses His wish that --YOU, Susan, and your Protestant brethren, become part of the Covenant itself, within the Church He founded. He did not found your church, I'm afraid. He did not found Protestantism, nor Bible Christianity, nor Methodism, Southern Baptists, Holy Rollers, Revival tents, Bible schools, etc., Only one Church. The Roman Catholic Church. Amen, God help you /

-- Eugene C. Chavez (, October 15, 2000.

OK, John, I'll go ahead and answer Susan.

Susan, you wrote:

"I would love to have you and Enrique come to church with me.You see, I've been where you are, but you have never experienced what I'm talking about. And you are afraid to find out."

Susan: I have several questions:

1) How do you know where John and I are?

2) How do you know that we have never experienced what you are talking about?

3) Ho do you know that we are afraid to find out?

Here are some considerations: the Gospel says: "Judge not, that ye be not judged" Who are you, Susan, (I ask this with all respect) to judge where John and I are? Who are you to say that we have never experienced what you are experiencing? Have you read our souls from the day of our birth to the present? My, Oh my, you must be God!!! Have you been inside us when we read the Bible and see what the Holy Spirit tells us, the light He gives us, the strength we recieve from Him, etc. etc.? Have you heard all the prayers we have addressed to the Father, through Jesus Christ in the Holy Spirit, and the answer we got to those prayers? How can we be afraid of anything or anybody, since we (I'm sure John will be in the same situation) believe in God's Word: "If God be for us, who can be against us?" I don't know about John, but many a time I've been to spiritual retreats where I experienced God's presence in almost a physical way; I made a "Cursillo" and together with other 40 Catholics lived a unique experience of God's love and care for us, and decided to change our lives, live always in God's grace and be faithful to Christ and dedicate our time and effort to bring God's message to others...and after many years, through God's grace and the guidance of the Spirit, most of us (my wife is one of them) keep faithful to our promise. There are thousands and thousands of Cursillo Catholics all over the world and I'm sure many, many of them are still faithful, brave, and apostolic Catholics. I'm not going to fall into the temptation of saying that only Cursillistas are faithful Christians. (That would be pride and some kind of "messianism"= to belive that only I and those close to me have been touched by God's grace) I know that the Lord's ways are many and mysterious and each one finds what the Lord demands and expects from him/her. I'm thinking now about Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Would God ask from all of us to be picking dying people in the streets and kiss lepers? Of course not, remeber Paul's passages about the Gifts: each one has his/her special gift from the Hoy Spirit. Enough for now, maybe some other day I'll give some more. In the meantime, may God bless you all.


-- Enrique Ortiz (, October 16, 2000.

Eugene, I'm sorry you feel that way.As Jesus said in Matthew 10:14; When you are not welcomed,"Shake off the dust of that place from your feet as you leave". I will be praying for you. Goodbye.

Enrique, When I said you are afraid to find out- I should have said,"are you afraid to find out"? So I apologize for that.We have to converse to find out about each other,ask questions etc. If you go back and read what John said to me after I told him my beliefs.You will see that he was judging me. You and I have more in common than you think.And that was my point when this whole thing started.You don't have to call yourself by any religion to believe the Gospels of Jesus Christ.I don't understand why we can't discuss our beliefs,without all the BASHING. Enrique, go back and read this from the beginning. Where I was trying to find out why the Vatican would say that only Catholics Etc. I felt wounded by all the bashing,but no one can take the JOY I have in Christ Jesus.That is what keeps me going.There is much more Christlike kindness in your writing, than in your counterparts writings.I am going to close with a prayer. Father God , I praise you with every thread of my being.I belong completely to you .You made me.You made us for a LOVE relationship with you.I thank you for everything you do.I want your will in all things.Father, examine our hearts and know us.Test our thoughts, point out anything you find in us that makes you sad, and lead us along the path of everlasting life.Keep us in your presence, Father. I ask in Jesus Awesome ,Mighty Name.Amen.Amen. May Gods Bless you. Susan

-- Susan Shepherd-Magistro (, October 16, 2000.

Dear Susan, You must not say you weren't welcome. I clearly invited you to RETURN TO THE FAITH of your own ancestors. The Church of the saints, martyrs and missionaries. You claim to have been brought up in it. But you prefer to believe a ''reliable friend'' that told you an outright lie (the Vatican/Pope have not declared what he claims)-- so who comes bashing who???

I must say that many of the more charitable voices here prefer to fence words with you, hoping to appeal to your ''love for the Bible''; but I think you are in line for some ''tough love.'' A follower of Christ has to be able to handle admonition in the faith. Even the holy apostle Peter took constructive criticism. He didn't squawk about Saint Paul ''bashing'' him. You are I'm afraid, fat and sassy in your sophistry. Reading the ''Bible'' (you ought to say *HOLY BIBLE*) appeals to your emotions, obviously. But that is only part of the Christian life. You can lead a perfect Christian life, if you wish to. Come back to your parents' faith, back to the Catholic doctrine and the sacraments. Live in grace and persevere; you will be happy for all eternity. Do not allow yourself to be misguided by enemies of the Church. Come back!

-- Eugene C. Chavez (, October 16, 2000.

Hi, Susan.
I really wasn't planning to post anything more here, because I know that you aren't a bad person, and I can tell that you mean well, but have just temporarily slipped on a big banana peel.

You you just wrote something in your last message that really calls for a reply from me. You said, "I don't understand why we can't discuss our beliefs,without all the BASHING." I agree with you, but you don't seem to realize that you have posted a bunch of offensive things here -- on the earlier thread and this one -- which we have very reasonably taken as "Catholic-bashing" and sometimes personally insulting. If you want to make friends here and communicate well, you need to be careful how you express yourself. I will list the things that you wrote that bothered me, along with a few comments.

-- JFG, What is your deal, Dude? You don't need a Pope or a Bishop to tell you how to live. God gave us The Bible. Read your Bible, Dude.
[Susan, this was in your very first message here, when you re-opened a thread that had been dormant for seven months. I believe that Jane, Enrique, Eugene and myself are all old enough to be your parents. Even if I were your age, I would feel offended at the informality of being called "Dude" the very first time I was addressed by someone. Being old enough to be your father makes "Dude" sound even worse. In addition to this, the way you express yourself about "pope or a bishop" are disrespectful of my religion and are demeaning to me. It would have been good for you to have stated something as an "opinion" or "belief" of yours, rather than as an assumed fact.]

-- Let's define the word Christian: one who follows Christ. Not :one who is Catholic. Catholic is just another Religion.
[Susan, you wrote, "Let's define the word ...". But, in what seems like sarcasm, the message that comes across is, "Let ME define the word, since you need my help. Catholics are such dunces!"]

-- I am not happy that the Pope has the nerve to say that only Catholics are going to heaven. ...By what authority does the Pope have the audacity to make such a remark. [LATER] ... About what I said about your pope. I heard that from one of my clients. She said that it was in the public pulse section of our local paper. ... [LATER] ... The article in the paper came from Richard Ostling, Associated Press. (I have not found the actual article yet.) He also writes for "Time" magazine.
[Susan, you need to learn that, when it comes to Catholicism, you must go to "the horse's mouth" -- actual Church documents being the best. You cannot rely on secular media sources, because the reporters involved are very often non-Catholic, poorly educated Catholics, or out-and-out anti-Catholics. If you don't know how to get to the reliable documents, we would be glad to help you.]

-- I want you to know the Truth. I challenge you to read the Bible. ... Do some research. Don't follow blindly.
[Some research on your part, Susan, would have prevented you from making the false charge against the pope. In fact, some research on your part would have prevented your falling away from Catholicism in the first place. You think that you know about the Catholic Church, because of your years of experience within it. But I am quite sure, from various things you have written, that you are terribly unaware of many things that you need to know -- things that would have kept you in the Church on the day you were first tempted to leave her. It's amazing how people within the Church can be unaware of many truths and can get misled. I have seen it happen several times, so you are not unique in this respect. It's so strange that you told Enrique not to "follow blindly." Apparently, you were a Catholic who did not know all you needed to know in order to explain and hold on to your faith. Perhaps it was you who "followed blindly" after a person who tickled your ears.]

-- I'm talking about being all caught up in stuff that doesn't matter.
[You ought not to act as the judge of what "matters" to us.]

-- Not one of [the many members of my family] reads the Bible or even has a clue what it says.
[I find it offensive that you would trash your own family in public. Moreover, I am sure that you are wrong about them. If they are truly Catholic, they attend Mass -- and during the Mass, they hear (and even speak/sing) a great deal of scripture. I'm not talking about just the readings. Scriptural verses and themes are packed into almost every part of the Mass, though that fact may have escaped you.]

-- I want to be as much like Jesus as humanly possible. He would never bash people, but He certainly told people when their actions were displeasing to the Father.
[I think that this can pass without comment. You can probably read my mind!]

-- I've been where you are, but you have never experienced what I'm talking about. And you are afraid to find out.
[Enrique has already covered this very well.]

-- I have read some of your writing, and you come across very "know it all."
[Well, thanks, Susan. How sweet of you! I'm glad you're not bashing me!]

-- I would be back-sliding if I went back to Catholicism.
[Since "back-sliding" is a Protestant expression for "lapsing morally," this is one nasty statement about my Church. You are saying that to become a Catholic or to return to the faith would be sinful -- quite a "bash."]

-- Enrique, ... If you go back and read what John said to me after I told him my beliefs, you will see that he was judging me.
[Yes, Enrique, please do read all that I said to Susan on both threads. I think you'll see that I was bending over backwards to be pleasant to her -- especially now that you have read all the words of hers (above) that I found unpleasant from the time of her first message.]

Well, Susan, I hope that reading my message has been an experience that will help you to approach Catholics quite differently in the future. I for one would like for you to continue coming here, making a fresh start by determining:
1. which of your beliefs and ours coincide exactly [there will be a lot of that!]
2. which of your beliefs we consider mistaken and why, and
3. which of our beliefs we believe are necessary, but missing, from your creed.
However, you are welcome to avoid talking about our respective beliefs altogether, since you are allowed to come here to make prayer requests or discuss non-controversial spiritual matters as well. Perhaps it will help you to read the following guidelines, which were posted here by the forum's moderator not long ago:

"This is a Catholic forum, where people are very welcome to ask questions about the Catholic faith, or make prayer requests, or have general dialogue on their walk with God, and how the events in their lives pertain to that walk. The forum is not a dumping site for every slander against Catholics that a person can think of. The main guidelines are that a non-Catholic here have a sincere desire to understand what Catholics actually believe, and that he or she speak with respect."

God bless you.

-- J. F. Gecik (, October 16, 2000.

Dear Susan, Enrique, and John:

My experience with each of you has been so positive that I'm now reeling with what I have been reading. Where is everyone's christian charity here. As was written above, there are many different religions and I thought that in most parts of the world we had become civilized enough to respect each other's religions - our beliefs might not be the same, but we all pray to the same God. The Trinity is God - God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Three in one. If we believe in God, we must also believe this.

Please excuse me, but I have one other small comment to make. We are Roman Catholics (who follow the Church of Rome and the Pope). The Anglican Chuch is also called the Catholic Church; they have all the same beliefs we hold true. When Henry VIII was excommunicated from the Church when he divorced Catherine of Aragon, he named himself the Head of the Church in England and had the clergy swear allegiace to the King instead of to Rome. At that time, the bishops and priests in England were all ordained catholics and the Anglican Church defines "Catholic" as pertaining to the conception of the Church as the body representing the ancient, undivided Christian witness comprising ALL the orthodox churches which have kept the apostolic succession of bishops, and including the Anglican Church, the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Church of Sweden, and the Old Catholic Church (in the Netherlands and elsewhere).

Let us not forget that "catholic" means universal in extent and of interest to all and let us show each other the respect each of us deserves as human beings.


-- Claire Reni de Cotret (, October 17, 2000.

John, Enrique,and Claire,

Let me define a few of the expressions that I use alot. Dude: I use this term lovingly; example: I see one of my sons best friends at church, I say "Dude how are you, I love you !! yadda,yadda. next-Back sliding: to me that means going backwards instead of forward. It was not meant as a slam. I got married at 18 and divorced at 19.That was why I quit going to the Catholic church. I have a proposal, similar to yours, John. #1: let's agree that we don't agree on everything. #2: if one of us feels the need to clarify what another is writing (saying), that it be done lovingly. I think it is hard to read what another person is saying and also read their heart,when you can't hear the voice, or see their face. I apologize if I came accross in a cavalier manner. I would like to start over, fresh. I think I can safely say that we ALL love Jesus! May the Peace, Love and Joy in knowing Jesus as Savior , be what guides our time together. Your Sister in Christ, Susan

-- Susan Shepherd-Magistro (, October 17, 2000.

Hello, Claire.
Welcome to the realities of this forum. I know just how you feel. Something similar happened to me when I first came here (perhaps a year ago). Like you, I hoped and thought that this was a safe and pleasant haven at all times. I looked forward to coming here often, to ask questions, to share information about good Catholic Internet sites I had found, to try to answer factual questions for other faithful Catholics, to try to give and receive advice, to console, to promise prayers, and so forth.

But, Claire, just as your life and mine have been tough in other areas, so our lives seem destined to be tough here, from time to time. It seems that nothing is easy in this vale of tears.

Like you, I had a smooth entry, of several days' duration, into the life of the forum. But then came little (and later big) conflicts. I learned that the visitors to the site were not confined to faithful (sometimes called "orthodox") Catholics.
-- There also came respectful "cradle Protestants," who were curious about our beliefs.
-- There came disruptive atheists and people who had been raised in an atmosphere of fierce anti-Catholicism [i.e., pope = antichrist, etc.].
-- There came people who were Catholics in name only, because they either had never been taught, or had ceased to believe, a variety of the Church's doctrines.
-- And there came people who were once Catholic (or thought they once were), but who had slipped into one of several areas of protestantism (pentecostal, fundamentalist, or "mainstream" denominations -- or even a private, anti-institutional-church relationship with Jesus).

The faithful Catholics who post messages here are of different ages, sexes, national origins, life experiences, religious upbringings, and personalities. The same can be said of the visitors of other faiths whom I just listed. All of us have different ways of expressing ourselves, different levels of knowledge (that vary by subject matter), different concentrations of emotion and reason, different "hot button" issues and boiling points. Now that you are aware of all this, it should not come as a surprise that unpleasant conflicts sometimes arise.

We are all wounded creatures, suffering from the fall of Adam. Sometimes we write things without thinking carefully first. Sometimes we insult each other, by pure accident, by carelessness, or even on purpose (unjustifiably). But sometimes we reprimand each other with righteous (justifiable) anger. Naturally, this does not necessarily make for pleasant reading! See how you hated it, even though you were not a participant? Imagine how uneasy, even sad, the people who are more deeply involved in the tough conversation must feel!

Well, as Susan has stated, we can try "to start over, fresh."

I think that it would be helpful for her to know several things before that fresh start:
-- The "regular" Catholics here have encountered other people who are very much like Susan -- here at the forum and/or "in the flesh."
-- We already have heard and/or read the kind of enthusiastic, faith-filled expressions that Susan has made on two threads. Sometimes we have heard/read paraphrases of Susan's words, and sometimes we have heard or read the exact same words from other people. With some of these expressions, we can wholeheartedly agree [e.g., we are all sinners, Jesus is our only savior, the Bible is God's inerrant word, etc.]. But we Catholics have also already heard or read many, many different criticisms raised against Catholicism and "organized churches" in general.
-- I mentioned that we sometimes have temper flare-ups here -- and that there are "hot button" issues. Claire, I don't think that it should surprise you that one of those issues unexpectly came before us in these last few days. Faithful Catholics have been very disheartened to hear what we consider sad news -- namely, that our sister Susan decided to leave the Church to which we belong. I think that if we did not become somewhat emotional about that, it would show that we just don't give a darn about her!

-- We Catholics are familiar with, and have repeatedly exchanged views with protestants about, the major points of disagreement we have -- the "bible alone" ... "faith alone" ... the role of Our Lady ... intercessory prayer ... the afterlife ... the history of the Church ... the role of the papacy ... and many more subjects. It is possible for Susan to read many past debates by reading old threads -- and she can resurrect those threads by responding at the bottom. But we are also willing to discuss any subject on new threads she may start, if she believes that is the better way.

Claire, now please permit me to turn to a couple of specific comments you made.
You wrote, "[T]here are many different religions and I thought that in most parts of the world we had become civilized enough to respect each other's religions - our beliefs might not be the same, but we all pray to the same God. The Trinity is God - God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Three in one. If we believe in God, we must also believe this."
First, Claire, only Christians believe in the Trinity -- not people who follow Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Shintoism, Mormonism, the Jehovah's Witnesses, Bahai, many small religions (in Africa, etc.), and atheism. Thus, far less than half of the people in the world believe in the Trinity. But, all of us here, Catholics and Protestants alike, do believe in the Trinity. (Thank Heaven, that will not be a point of disagreement among us!)

You also wrote, "We are Roman Catholics (who follow the Church of Rome and the Pope). The Anglican Chuch is also called the Catholic Church; they have all the same beliefs we hold true."
I'm sorry, but you are very mistaken, Claire. Jesus founded only one Church, and, as the Second Vatican Council has repeated the age-old teaching, the Church of Jesus "subsists in the Catholic Church." What is called the "Anglican Church" is not part of the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church does not have three or four or five branches -- for example, "Roman" and "Anglican" and "Eastern Orthodox" and "Protestant," etc..

Suppose you and I go to an unfamiliar town on vacation, pull our car over and ask a pedestrian, "Where is the nearest Catholic Church?" We will be sent to a CATHOLIC Church [which some unofficially call "Roman Catholic"]. We will not be sent to an Anglican, Orthdox, or Protestant Church.

We have a document from a martyr saint of about 107 A.D., in which he refers to the "Catholic Church." [The term could have been used for decades before that.] That same church, which Jesus founded, has continued to exist, and the Founder has had about 265 vicars, the popes (Bishops of Rome). Even if we refer to the generic small-c word, "catholic" (meaning "universal"), my understanding is that only the Catholic Church can be found throughout the entire world. There are one billion Catholics, far more than any other Christian body. This is not an accident.

It is an unfortunate fact that the Anglicans and Protestants cannot be called branches of the Catholic Church. They are our "separated brethren," not only because they fail to recognize the primacy of the successor of St. Peter, but also because they hold a variety of incorrect doctrinal beliefs, they have discarded some Sacraments, and they do not follow the same moral code as Catholics do. I'm sorry that you have not been aware of the fact that the Anglicans ceased to have valid priestly and episcopal ordinations shortly after the time of Henry VIII. Similarly, the continental strands of protestantism rapidly lost valid priestly and episcopal ordination after the time of Luther, Calvin, and others of their period. (There is lots more to say about this, but I think that I should leave it there.) The Eastern Orthodox are a very different subject, as they are so much closer to full communion with the Catholic Church.

Now, having said all that, and having identified the Church of Jesus, I want to hurry to say again that the word "Christian" includes not only Catholics, but also all baptized people of the Eastern churches and of the Protestant ecclesial communities. Naturally, therefore, Susan is a Christian -- and obviously a fervent one! I just want to make it clear that "Christianity" and "the Church of Christ" (the Catholic Church) do not have the same boundaries. The Catholic Church is a subset of the aggregate of all Christians, like a big circle within an even bigger circle. (We long to see the day when there is only one circle!)

God bless you.
PS: Susan, I thank you for your conciliatory message. I have worked very hard and for a long time on my answer, and I hope that you perceive at least part of it as conciliatory too -- even though you won't agree with some of it. I am sad to read about the marital difficulties you suffered through. You stated, "I got married at 18 and divorced at 19. That was why I quit going to the Catholic church." Some day, unless it would be too painful to you, could you please expand on this, because it is puzzling to me? Simply getting divorced is no reason to cease being Catholic. I think that Catholic women will tell you that there is no better place for a hurting 19-year-old woman to stay than in the Catholic Church. 'Bye, now.

-- J. F. Gecik (, October 17, 2000.

Dear John and Susan

There is something so genuine and loving about the way John has approached Susan, that I can't help remarking.

Susan, --From all I see in your messages, you have an extraordinary depth of feeling. Maybe this is a gift, a Gift of the Holy Spirit, who goes no one knows where, and answers to no man. FINE /

My impression of all that John has communicated to you directly is also astonishing. He is on the same wave-length you seem to be on. His message is so charitable and Christlike that my heart pauses.

You aren't receptive to me, and I accept that. Listen to your own heart then, John is speaking to your inner heart-- that same one that strains after the love of our Lord. Give John a chance to touch a part of you that seeks communion with God. He already shows me that he is in communion. Only saints speak like Christ. Others like us have to open our hearts to Him. Jesus wants all your love, your faith-- His Church and His Cross are your inheritance. How are we to partake of the Cross of Jesus Christ? It is not through the Bible's lessons. Not through our private escape into reading. It is only in partaking of the holy sacrifice of the Mass that we come in contact with the body and blood of Jesus. That requires that we enter the sanctuary of the Catholic Church. Your life will be changed. Come to the love of Jesus made real and immediate in the holy Mass. It's yours for the asking.

-- Eugene C. Chavez (, October 18, 2000.

Dear John:

Thank you for your comments. I, however, stand by my comments on "catholic" churches. We are indeed called Roman Catholics for a reason and the definition of "catholic" by the Anglican church is correct. There has been for years talk of a rapprochement between the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Church, whose mass is the same as ours. The Queen and the Pope even met today and that was one of the issues they discussed. I'm certain if we went to a town and asked for a catholic church that we would indeed be directed to a Roman Catholic Church, but we must realize that others also claim to be part of the catholic community. Also, I do believe that, whatever our religion, in the end we all pray to the same God, whatever he is called by other religions. We are all children of God. Wouldn't it be nice if everyone realized this. Think of the wars and terrorist attacks that could come to an end, people become more tolerant, and finally bring a lasting peace on earth. This is something I probably will never see in my lifetime, but is a goal that hopefully will be achieved within the next few hundred years. Wouldn't that just be wonderful?



-- Claire Reni de Cotret (, October 18, 2000.

Dear Claire Rene,

I hope you don't mind my intrusion. It seems you have some contrary ideas about the faith. Not that you can't hold views that may not be popular. Your posts here seem bright and upbeat, and they're surely welcome.

My only suggestion to you in the matter of Catholicism and Anglican claims is: find yourself a copy of John Henry Cardinal Newman's ''Apologia Pro Vita Sua''. It is a thrilling book.

Maybe you aren't really an avid reader. I hope that you are, because Newman just as a writer was at the very apex of Victorian English writing.

Now, he was probably the most respected and beloved of all Anglican clergymen of his age. Yet, he left the Church of England for Rome, convinced it was his obligation as a follower of Christ. Then began what is called the Oxford Movement. He who had been the favorite Anglican of his countrymen, horrified the Church of England's elite. They launched tract after tract of protests and accusations against him, which he humbly accepted. Except for certain attacks on his own honesty and motives, which he defended brilliantly in this book. In its pages you'll find every aspect of the Anglican claim to Apostolicity addressed and refuted. Keep in mind that he had previously believed the same arguments and claims himself, before leaving England for Rome. It was precisely because he examined them in detail and spent years investigating the Church of Rome; its authority and descent from the apostles, its claim to the ''Keys'' of Saint Peter, that he could no longer in conscience remain an Anglican. He knew after all, that the very University of Oxford was one of the greatest founded by the same Church of Rome!

None of this is to say that we are not all children of God. Many lukewarm Catholics may fail, and many non-Catholics, even if unfriendly to the Roman Catholic religion, may reach salvation. Because God wants all men to be saved. But the truth is the truth. Not all Christian churches are under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Some are completely in error, and some fall far short of the faith of the apostles. Only the Roman Catholic Church is truly founded by Jesus Christ upon Peter, the Rock. Do not confuse good intentions for holiness and eternal truth. The wishes of Our Lord were clearly revealed in His words to His Almighty Father; ''That they may be one, Father, as You and I are one.''

There can be but one shepherd and one Church, or flock. The separation of Christians with opposing shepherds one day must end. It's the will of God. All churches are not alike, much less equal.

-- Eugene C. Chavez (, October 18, 2000.

Dear Eugene:

I am an avid reader and will try to find Cardinal Newman's book. My intention with the definition of catholic was not to go against the church, but to show that there are other religions which also call themselves catholic, therefore the need to refer to the Roman Catholic Church as such. As you can see by the definition, some protestant religions do consider themselves catholic. You and I will not see it in our lifetime, but somewhere along the line there will be a universal church which follows the precepts of the Roman Catholic faith. This, I truly believe. It might take centuries, but with globalization going so fast, people will have a chance to discover each other's beliefs, learn to respect them, and eventually start a discussion.

By the way, my first name is Claire. Reni is part of my family name.



-- Claire Reni de Cotret (, October 18, 2000.

Fine, Claire. I started to write Renee, thinking, it's a lady. Then saw Rene, and began to wonder was I correct. Now I see.

You seem a good and sincere believer. I'm happy to meet you in this forum. Don't you just love it? There are some ups and downs, of course. I can be too brusque; I look back sometimes and want to kick myself. Say a prayer for me sometime, and I'll remember you to God, too. --Ciao!

-- Eugene C. Chavez (, October 18, 2000.

I'm posting what I found in a forum that is currently in use in Spanish so that those of you who read this language can see the marvelous effects de Base Communities have on people:

De Carmen Ilabaca, Chile el miircoles, 8 de marzo, 2000 - 09:54 am Quisiera compartir con Uds. la experencia de "volver a casa" a un verdadero hogar: Hace ya un par de aqos, regresi a la Casa de Dios... gracias a Dios conocm a las Comunidades Cristianas de Base (tambiin llamadas Comunidades de Vida o CBX)y mi vida se transforms. Las CCB pequeqo grupo de hombres y mujeres, (12 personas a simulacisn de los Apsstoles) de preferencia matrimonios, que buscan juntos a un Dios vivo, a un Dios que transforma la vida... que nos dice que a pesar de todas las situaciones difmciles... El esta con nosotros. Es mostrarse al Seqor con tu verdadera vida y tu verdadera fe, es hacer una simbiosis perfecta entre Fe y Vida, ese es el verdadero "equilibrio" en Dios. Yo voy conociendo a Dios, junto a mi hermano y mi vida se va transformando desde lo mas mntimo de mi corazsn y ya no hay vuelta a atras, pues mi vida ha cambiado no en 1800, sino en el doble! Me ha permitido conocer y transformarme primero yo, me ha permitido como mujer trabajadora mostrar al Seqor en mi ambiente laboral, como madre y esposa, me ha permitido mostrarle el verdadero rostro de Dios a mis hijos, mediante mi ejemplo; como miembro de CEB (Comunidad Eclesial de Base) me hace participar libre y alegremente en el fortalecimiento del Reino de Dios. Si desean saber algo mas de las CCB, escrmbanme por este medio... yo gustosa les mostrari mi vida en CCB. (Esta forma de vivir la fe no es un invento, es bmblico, es a similitud de las Primeras Comunidades Cristianas,la Iglesia Primitiva, ver Hechos 2,42- 47)

---------------------------------------------------------------------- ---------- De

-- Enrique Ortiz (, October 19, 2000.

A ver que piensas, Enrique???

Es Catolica la Senora? CBX Catolico?

-- eugene c. chavez (, October 19, 2000.

I cannot read Sppaaaanish!

-- Susan Shepherd-Magistro (, October 19, 2000.

Dear Enrique:

My printer is not working, so I could not print out the Spanish. I think I might have gotten the gist of it, I think it means that one year ago this woman's life was transformed, that in the Church there was a group of men, preferably married, who had been brought together to represent the twelve apostles. That she prayed and that her prayers were answered and that her husband did an 180o turn and became a better husband. Perhaps, if you wouldn't mind, you could provide a synopsis of the article for those of us who do not speak Spanish. I find that often Spanish and French are not very far apart (especially if you have 8 years of Latin thrown in). Sometimes, the Fench and the Spanish are the same. It is a language though that I do have to learn to speak as, if my case ever gets settled, I would very much like to go and live in Ajijic, Jalisco, where my best friends live. I have had the pleasure to spend a few months there and I like it very much. The pace of life is so tranquil and the people so nice. I dream about it. Have you ever been in that town? I'm told that there have been a lot of development since I was there; I hope not too much, because it was a beautiful town such as it was.



-- Claire Reni de Cotret (, October 19, 2000.

I have a lot of literature on Christian Base Communities in Spanish, since I belong to one of them. But I found in English what I'm posting here:

Christian Base Communities Confront the Neo-Liberal Project

by Juan Manuel Hurtado

Juan Manuel Hurtado is a member of the theological commission of the Christian Base Communities of Mexico. This article appeared in Spanish in the July 1992 edition of Estudios Ecumenicos.

After the fall of the socialist bloc and its opening to the market economy, it would appear that the only valid economic and political model of society left to the world is capitalism. Neo-liberalism (the present model of capitalism) grows stronger every day and allows the powerful to accumulate more wealth and power; it also generates hunger, misery, under-development and death in Third World countries.

The law of the market, of competition, is the law of the survival of the fittest. Wealthy corporations and technologically powerful nations join together to destroy their "enemies," basing their actions on economic, political and even theological logic. From this perspective we may analyze the U.S. invasion of Panama, the Gulf war, the economic and political blockade of the Sandinista government in Nicaragua, and the current blockade of Cuba.

This is the absolute law of the Empire which excludes anyone outside of its reign, the law of the jungle which is directly opposed to any democratic aspiration or struggle for human rights. And as somebody has already warned: "If the law of the jungle rules, we are not the lion."

The number of poor people and the level of poverty is increasing throughout the world. In Latin America, governments impose economic measures on the poor in accordance with the requirements of the IMF (International Monetary Fund) and giant multinational corporations rather than responding to the needs of the impoverished majority. A good example of this subservience to the rich corporations is Mexico in its rush to pass laws to pave the way for establishing the Free Trade Agreement with the United States and Canada.

Our cultures and our way of life have been inundated by consumer products promoted by the multinational corporations, which canonize technology and consumerism as the only model of society. This violates the cultural rights of our peoples, particularly people of indigenous or African descent, and the ways in which we express ourselves. If in the past gold was traded for glass beads, today quality resources are traded for alcohol and Coca-Cola.

A People in Resistance

The failure of peoples of indigenous and African descent, farm workers and marginalized peoples in the cities to assimilate into the great neo-liberal project is characterized by governments today as nonconformity, backwardness, non-compliance with the economic and political strategies of the Nation, lack of understanding of the current economic model or separation from the "national project."

The legitimate organization of the people to defend their interests is seen as protest. The poor are only taken into account when their culture and their creativity become objects of consumption, when their hospitality and solidarity are noted, or when their cheap and docile labor is required.

When the poor take responsibility for their own lives, when they want to create their own social and economic project in accordance with their past, their interests and their possibilities, then the governments, the multinational corporations and the establishment press attack them. Our peoples are resisting, and struggling to survive and to move forward.

Over the years the poor have responded to the assault of capitalism with suffering and with organization. They have known how to conserve the miracle of life. With ingenuity they have multiplied their bread to feed their children and unmask the death-dealing policies of the powerful for what they truly are. The 43,000 people who die of hunger each day in the world are both evidence of and an accusation against the evil of this project of death.

Christian Base Communities

But neo-liberalism is not the only model of society; there is an alternative. The experience of the Christian base communities provides a model whose primary focus is the life of the poor. Throughout Latin America and the Third World, Christian base communities have appeared as a new and authentic expression of Church and society which is more communitarian, more committed to service and more rooted in the lives of the people.

Here the poor have found a place to express the rich potential of their culture and their longing for liberation; here too the Gospel has taken root in the history of our peoples. Because the Christian base communities are rooted in the daily struggle of the poor to live, and because the majority of the leaders are lay people, the communities provide an example of a Christianity which offers an alternative way of life and hope to the poor.

Against the flood of neo-liberal policies which subjugate our people, another current flows quietly and unnoticed: the voice and the life of the poor. This current cannot be mistaken for the flood; its waters flow from another source. What are some of the characteristics of this current?

The People's Project of Life

The people who live in the Christian base communities possess another logic of life, another language, another symbolism which goes beyond the society of supply and demand, beyond "the god of free enterprise" to which our governments, devoid of any moral stature, have rendered homage.

What matters is the memory of our martyrs and the radical values of Christianity. Sharing and solidarity, prophetic denunciation and silent witness are fundamental examples of the culture of life of the Christian base communities. All this creates a rich symbolism of life, rooted in the immense creativity and joy of our people and their struggle for a fraternal society.

The logic of the Christian base communities is the logic of hope, the language is the language of bearing witness, and the utopia is the utopia of the dawning of a new society. To return to our roots is to move forward towards a future when people are reconciled with each other.

The new society is born at the base. It is in community that the model of a new society is being constructed; it is in community where the values of a new society---mutual respect, equality, democracy, freedom---can be lived. In this sense the Christian base communities present a model and a precursor of life in a new society.

-- Enrique Ortiz (, October 20, 2000.

Dear Claire: You got the essential message posted by Carmen from Chile. Her experience is shared by thousands of Catholics all over Latin America. Let me make clear some points about COMUNIDADES ECLESIALES DE BASE:

_ They have different names, but they come to the same thing: small groups of people that get together every week and examine their own personal, family and social life in the light of the Gospel. This shared contact with the Word of God has as a result: a living experience of what the first Christian communities must have experienced in those early years. In Spanish they are known as COMUNIDADES ECLESIALES DE BASE, COMUNIDADES CRISTIANAS DE BASE, COMUNIDADES DE BASE CRISTIANAS, or simply COMUNIDADES DE BASE.

_ They have been approved and supported by the CELAM (Consejo Eclesial Latino Americano).

_ Some of these groups at a given moment were trying to apply the Marxist "scientific analysis of society" (remember the Cardenal brothers in Central America) But with the fall of the Soviet Union those groups lost their momentum and strength. Most of the CEB today remain active and in complete agreement with the Catholic Church doctrine.

_ They are springing everywhere in our country and are being a formidable obstacle to the Evangelical Sects' intense work in our society.

_ If someone is interested in a complete study of the CEB read the following : l) The MEDELLIN documents, 2) the PUEBLA Documents, 3) the SANTO DOMINGO Documents. All of these can be found in the Internet.

Hope this helps.


-- Enrique Ortiz (, October 20, 2000.

Chere Claire: Je suis tres content de ton desire de vivre a Ajijic. J'ai visite ce petit and beau "pueblo" il-y-a apres peu 25 ans. Alors je ne sais pas exactement comment il se trouve a present. J'espere qu'il conserve son charme et sa paix. Recemment (2 ans) j'ai visite Gudalajara, c'est le plus proche que je suis ete de Ajijic. Gudalajara a changi plus que tu peux imaginer, et j'imagine que Ajijic a souffert plus ou moins le meme sorte. Pardon pour mes fautes, mais je ne suis pas habitue a ecrire en Francais. Je lis souvent des livres dans cette belle langue, mais je n'ecrive que tres rarement.

Que Dieu te benisse


-- Enrique Ortiz (, October 20, 2000.

Enrique, Why are you debasing Evangelicals? What is it they teach that you don't like? What does the word "Cursillo" mean? I'm asking beacause I would like to understand. May the Love of Jesus be in our hearts.


-- Susan Shepherd-Magistro (, October 20, 2000.

Susan: you can find all the information you want about the Cursillo Movement on this page:

As to your question about debasing Evangelicals, I'll give an anser soon.

In the meantime let's pray for each other.


-- Enrique Ortiz (, October 21, 2000.

Cher Enrique:

Ton frangais est trhs bon alors ne t'inquihte pas, tu peux trhs bien communiquer dans cette langue. J'hsphre que si je te tutoie cela ne t'offusque pas. Ajijic est encercli de nouveaux diveloppements et depuis l'an dernier il y a un cinima. Il y a beaucoup de touristes et, comme tu le sais certainement, une population d'au moins 70,000 amiricains et canadiens demeurent dans plusieurs communitis autour du lac Chappala ` l'annie longue. De plus, il s'y trouve aussi un nombre toujours croissant d'europiens. Le village n'a pas changi et c'est toujours aussi tranquille. Un de mes amis mexicains m'a fait remarqui lors de mon dernier voyage, il y a deux ans, qu'Ajijic deviendrait le nouveau "Puerto Vallarta"; j'esphre que non.

Si jamais tu veux communiquer en frangais plus souvent, je t'intite ` m'icrire au Il serait aussi bon que je pratique mon frangais plus souvent. Je vis en anglais depuis tellement longtemps que mois aussi j'ai besoin de pratique. Lorsque je me mettrai ` itudier l'espagnol, j'aurai aussi besoin de pratiquer.

Je t'embrasse (sur les deux joues naturellement),


-- Claire Reni de Cotret (, October 21, 2000.

Merci, Claire, je vais t'ecrire a ton addresse personnelle.

Le bon Dieu soit avec toi.


-- Enrique Ortiz (, October 22, 2000.

+ Hello, Claire.
Based on what you mentioned above (on October 18), I thought you might enjoy reading this.

From the Vatican newspaper, "L'Osservatore Romano" --
[On Tuesday morning, 17 October, the Holy Father received H.M. Queen Elizabeth II of England, who was accompanied by H.R.H. Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, and their entourage. In his greeting, the Pope recalled the great heritage of British Christianity and the need "to pursue the path of ever greater understanding and, from the religious perspective, of ever more perfect communion". He also pointed out that, although the Commonwealth and the Catholic Church are very different institutions, "both have a proven experience in universality, both know the rich diversity of the one human family". Here is the text of the Holy Father's address, which was given in English.]

"Your Majesty, Your Royal Highness,
"With enduring memories of our first meeting in the Vatican in 1980 and of your gracious welcome to me in London two years later, I am happy to greet you once again in this Apostolic Palace to which you are no stranger. My predecessors Pope Pius XII and Pope John XXIII first bade you welcome here, and I do the same with a still greater sense of occasion in this Jubilee Year when all Christians sing the praises of almighty God for the gift of the Word made flesh, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

"Your Majesty's visit immediately brings to mind the rich heritage of British Christianity and all that Great Britain has contributed to the building of Christian Europe, and indeed to the spread of Christianity throughout the world, since St Augustine of Canterbury preached the Gospel in your lands. Through that long history, relations between the United Kingdom and the Holy See have not always been untroubled; long years of common inheritance were followed by the sad years of division [cf. Address in Canterbury Cathedral, 29 May 1982, n. 5]. But in recent years there has emerged between us a cordiality more in keeping with the harmony of earlier times and more genuinely expressive of our common spiritual roots. There can be no turning back from the ecumenical goal we have set ourselves in obedience to the Lord's command.

"Yet it is not only the past which prompts us to pursue the path of ever greater understanding and, from the religious perspective, of ever more perfect communion. The future too demands of us a sense of shared purpose. I am thinking first of Europe, which stands at a turning-point in its history as it seeks a unity capable of excluding for ever the kind of conflicts which have been so much a part of its past. You and I have personally lived through one of Europe's most terrible wars, and we see clearly the need to build a deep and enduring European unity, firmly rooted in the genuine human and spiritual genius of Europe's peoples. However, the unity to which Europeans aspire cannot be a structure without content. Only by preserving and reinvigorating the highest ideals and achievements of its heritage - in politics, in law, in art, in culture, in morality and in spirituality - will the Europe of the near future be a viable and worthwhile endeavour.

"Moreover, at the dawn of the third millennium our gaze must go beyond the bounds of Europe, for the world as a whole has become increasingly interactive and interdependent. The Commonwealth and the Catholic Church are institutions of a very different kind, but both have a proven experience in universality, both know the rich diversity of the one human family. To set the common good as the aim and focus of human thought and action becomes more important than ever at a time when there are increasing disparities in the way the world's resources are shared. Even as we see the forces of globalization holding out the promise of greater prosperity and cohesion, there is an ever growing gap between rich and poor, a gap which is in danger of becoming more fixed and intractable as some benefit from the advances of technology while others are completely left out. This troubling phenomenon has many causes, but the problem will certainly not be solved unless peoples and their leaders accept worldwide solidarity and cooperation as ethical imperatives that impel and mobilize the consciences of individuals and nations. I cannot but express my appreciation of Britain's recent undertaking to effect a total cancellation of the debt owed to it by the heavily indebted poor countries. The new millennium calls upon us all to work effectively to achieve a world not contaminated by greed, self-interest and the lust for dominance, but open to and respectful of the human dignity, inalienable rights and fundamental equality of every member of the human family.

"Your Majesty, for many years now and through times of great change you have reigned with a dignity and sense of duty which have edified millions of people around the world. May the Almighty grant Your Majesty, Your Royal Highness and the members of the Royal Family his unfailing light and strength amid the challenges and difficulties of your calling. May he bless the citizens of the United Kingdom with happiness and peace; the Commonwealth with the benefits of a heightened sense of solidarity and cooperation; and the Christian people of your realm with a fresh outpouring of the grace of Jesus Christ, "the same yesterday, today and for ever" [cf. Heb 13: 8]."

-- J. F. Gecik (, November 11, 2000.

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