Vatican City, Oct 25, 2005 (CNA) - Earlier today, the Holy See released exerts from the 50 Propositions of the General Synod of Bishops which concluded Sunday. Pope Benedict will use these suggestions, which focus on the Eucharist, confession, and the role of the Church in the world, to form his Apostolic Exhortation on the event.
In Proposition number 7, the Bishops encouraged faithful to make the Eucharist the center of their lives and also called for more frequent individual confessions--a Sacrament which, they say, has seen in decline in recent years.
"It is of vital pastoral importance”, they wrote, “that bishops in their dioceses promote a decisive revival in teaching the conversion that arises from the Eucharist, and that to this end they favor frequent individual Confession."
The Proposition also called for an end, except in certain circumstances, to group absolutions, which had become popular in certain diocese during recent decades.
The Synod Fathers also addressed the problem of a priest shortage in many parts of the world, but reaffirmed the Church’s tradition of priestly celibacy--something that has recently come under fire from critics following the abuse scandal in the U.S.
In the context of a genuine problem for many faithful who have no priest to administer the sacraments, the Bishops wrote that they "affirmed the importance of the inestimable gift of ecclesiastical celibacy in the Latin Church.”
“With reference to the Magisterium, especially to Vatican Council II and to recent Pontiffs,” the bishops requested “that the faithful be given adequate explanation of the reasons for the link between celibacy and priestly ordination, in full respect for the tradition of the Eastern Churches.”
In this light, they called both families, communities of faithful and particularly, priests and bishops, to build up and promote vocations.
Other major points that the bishops hit on included the importance of Sundays, a reaffirmation of the Church’s teaching of Eucharistic reception only for Catholics in good standing with the Church, and a greater call for pastoral care for the poor, disenfranchised and migrants.
“These faithful”, they wrote, “must be welcomed as members of the same Body of Christ, whatever their race, status or condition, especially in Eucharist celebrations. Christ's charity impels other local Churches and institutes of consecrated life give generous help to dioceses that welcome large numbers of migrants."
, Oct 25, 2005 (CNA) - Relations between the Russian Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches have greatly improved in the last 40 years since Nostra Aetate, Cardinal Walter Kasper told a press conference Monday.
The “ice is thawing,” he said, but added that Pope Benedict XVI would likely not visit Russia soon, reported The Associated Press.
He explained that Moscow Patriarch Alexy II hasn't excluded a meeting but that key issues had to be resolved first. One important issue is the Russian Orthodox Church's accusation that the Roman Catholic Church is proselytizing in Russia. The Vatican denies the charge.
However, Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, the Vatican's foreign minister, is expected to visit Russia for several days starting on Wednesday, reported the Russian news agency Itar-Tass.
The cardinal spoke to reporters about ecumenical developments, reporting some progress as well as some “worrisome developments,” reported the AP. In particular, he said, Pentecostal movements have grown due to "aggressive proselytism" at the expense of the Catholic Church in places such as Brazil, where the Catholic population is shrinking 1 percent each year, due to the Protestant movements.
The cardinal said such "aggressive fundamentalism" from old and new movements stunts ecumenical dialogue. It is not possible for the most part to establish a dialogue based on respect. Dialogue presupposes mutual respect, and with these sects it's not possible," he was quoted as saying.
Los Angeles, Calif., Oct 25, 2005 (CNA) -
Fiction writer Anne Rice, renowned for her tales of vampires and witches, has decided to dedicate her creative talent from now on to writing fictional books “only for God.”
According to the Oct. 31 issue of Newsweek, the 64-year-old author of 25 books lived a conversion in 1998 and returned to the Catholic faith, which she had left at 18. Her last book in her 10-volume best-selling vampire series, "Blood Chronicle," hit the bookstores in 2003.
"I promised," she says, "that from now on I would write only for the Lord."
Since then, Rice has not published but has been working steadily on "Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt," a novel about the 7-year-old Jesus, narrated by the Christ character. The book will be released in two weeks, under the pseudonym A. N. Roquelaure.
Rice projects her new writing project will have three sequels. She told Newsweek that she recognizes her new style could alienate her following, but she says she sees a continuity with her old books, “whose compulsive, conscience-stricken evildoers reflect her long spiritual unease,” said Newsweek.
In preparing to write the book, Rice said, she immersed herself in Scripture, first-century history and New Testament scholarship, and watched every Biblical movie she could find.
As fiction, Rice allows herself certain liberties, giving Jesus a birth date of 11B.C., making James, his disciple, the son of Joseph by a previous marriage, situating Jesus and his family in Alexandria, and making the young Jesus study with the historian Philo of Alexandria. She has also incorporated material from the noncanonical Apocrypha.
"If I really complete the life of Christ the way I want to do it," she was quoted as saying, "then I might go on and write a new type of fiction. It won't be like the other. It'll be in a world that includes redemption."
Boston, Mass., Oct 25, 2005 (CNA) - Catholic Charities in Boston has allowed 13 out of 720 foster children to be adopted by same-sex couples in the past two decades, saying state regulations prohibit the agency from discriminating against same-sex couples.
''If we could design the system ourselves, we would not participate in adoptions to gay couples, but we can't," the group’s president, Fr. J. Bryan Hehir, told the Boston Globe.
The Oct. 22 report said the adoptions took place as of 1987 as part of a contract with the state Department of Social Services. The children placed with the same-sex couples are among those most difficult to place, either because they have physical or emotional problems or they are older.
Hehir described the decision to permit these adoptions as a legal accommodation in the name of a greater social good. He said if they did not comply with the state's nondiscrimination clause, they would not be able to do place hundreds of other children in stable homes.
But C. J. Doyle, executive director of the Catholic Action League of Massachusetts, said this practice violates Catholic teaching that homosexual families are not good for children. The Catholic organization should benefit of a ''conscience clause," exempting them from having to place foster children with same-sex couples, he told the Globe.
Not all Catholic Charities work with same-sex couples, the Globe discovered. Catholic Charities of Worcester refers same-sex couples to other adoption agencies, as does Catholic Charities in Dallas.
Catholic Charities organizations throughout the country run independently and are free to set their adoption rules based on the state laws that govern them, as well as the priorities of the archdiocese officials in their community.
Boston, Mass., Oct 25, 2005 (CNA) - Archbishop Sean O'Malley is seeking to revive the struggling Catholic school system in Boston and has chosen one of the archdiocese’s most prominent critics to do it.
Businessman Jack Connors Jr., a philanthropist and active Catholic, harshly and publicly criticized church leadership about the sexual abuse crisis. Over the last three years, he repeatedly offered to assist the archdiocese in emerging from crisis that has followed the scandal.
"Everybody is a Catholic who wants to be on board and wants to help the church," the archbishop told the Globe. ''There is no blacklist here.”
Archbishop O'Malley asked Connors to head a task force that will come up with a plan by next spring for improving, governing, and financing the school system. The plan will probably close some schools in urban areas and open new schools in suburban areas, where there are few Catholic schools for the number of people who moved out to the area.
Church officials across the country are increasingly concerned about declining enrollment and financial troubles at Catholic schools. In Boston, the number of Catholic schoolchildren has dropped from 152,869 in 1965 to 50,742 today. The archdiocese has had to close several schools in the last few years.
According to the Globe, Connors made his fortune as a founder of the advertising firm Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos Inc. He served as chairman of the Boston College board, which completed a $440 million fund-raising campaign during his tenure. He also headed fund-raising events for Catholic Charities, and he currently heads the board of Partners HealthCare, the largest healthcare network in the state.
''I don't have any problem with my faith,” Connors was quoted as saying in the press.
“I have problems with the leadership of my faith."
Springfield, Ill., Oct 25, 2005 (CNA) - A study, published recently in the Acta Paediatrica journal suggests that women who have had an abortion could be up to two and a half times more likely to be child-abusers than their counterparts.
The study was led by Priscilla Coleman of Bowling Green State University, who used data taken from a survey of 518 low-income women in Baltimore who received Aid to Families with Dependent Children and had at least one child aged 12 or younger.
Coleman then used the data to compare rates of child abuse and neglect among women who had experienced either an “involuntary (miscarriage or stillbirth) or voluntary (induced abortion) pregnancy loss.”
She found that women who had experienced an induced abortion were 2.4 times more likely to be abusive than those who had not. She also discovered a greater risk of abuse among women who had abortions over those who had stillborns or miscarriages.
The researchers said that "emotional difficulties and unresolved grief responses", either from voluntary or involuntary pregnancy loss can lead to negative health effects on women as well as negative parenting responses.
While the authors are admittedly unclear as to specific causes and the extent of the potential problem, they wrote that "regardless of the specific mechanisms at play, maternal history of one induced abortion does appear to be a marker for increased risk of physical abuse."
, Oct 25, 2005 (CNA) - When Curtis Martin, along with his good friend Scott Hahn, founded the FOCUS ministry in 1997 at Kansas’ tiny Benedictine College, they had big plans--to reach university students across the nation with the message of the Gospel.
Today, eight years later, that message is taking root. FOCUS currently has 106, energetic, 20-somethings stationed at 27 college campuses in 15 states, around the country, and a waiting list for more schools who want the program on their campuses.
The group recently announced that they are tripling their popular winter conference schedule, which will now be held at 3 different venues.
Nikki Shasserre, spokesperson for FOCUS said that Denver, CO, Jersey City, NJ and Chicago, IL will each host regional conferences this January.
Last year, the group reached their one-location capacity when over 1,500 students gathered at Denver’s Downtown Marriot for speakers, workshops, Eucharistic adoration and fellowship.
Speaker lineups from past years include actor Jim Caviezel, who played Jesus in Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ, and author and speaker, Matthew Kelly.
This year Shasserre said, the conferences will feature keynote speakers who include, columnist Mary Beth Bonacci in Denver, author, speaker and T.V. host Jeff Cavins in Chicago ,and Matthew Kelly in New Jersey.
The theme for this year’s conference will be “This is Eternal Life”, from John 17:3; and “Man is made for greatness”, a quote from Pope Benedict XVI.
Joshua Gideon, director of the program at the U.S. Naval Academy in Maryland commented at the beginning of the school year that he was excited about “working with the future government and military leaders of America in the hope of building them up as strong Catholic leaders.”
Likewise, Martin boasted that “we have challenged young leaders to be generous with God, and they have responded.”
Rome, Italy, Oct 25, 2005 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Warsaw and Primate of the Church of Poland, Cardinal Josef Glemp, refuted the idea that the beatification of Pope John Paul II could take place in June 2006 during the eventual visit of Benedict XVI to the native country of the Servant of God.
"I don't believe it can be celebrated in June, during Pope Benedict XVI's trip to Poland," the cardinal said, in declarations to the Italian Catholic radio.
Cardinal Glemp remarked that the process of the Beatification of Karol Wojtyla, who died on April 2 at the age of 84, would be necessarily longer, with "the examination of the numerous testimonies," therefore more time was required"
Benedict XVI aproved the opening of the process for beatification, the first step toward an eventual canonization,without waiting the minimum term of five years from the death of the one the Church wishes to elevate to sainthood.
The visit of Benedict XVI to Poland in June 2006, is the next visit to a foreign country planned on the agenda of the Pontiff.
Mexico City, Mexico, Oct 25, 2005 (CNA) - The World Youth Alliance-Latin America will be organizing the International Congress of the Latin American Youth Alliance on October 29 in Mexico City on the theme, “Uniting Young Ideas.”
According to organizers, the purpose of the event will be to encourage young people to participate in the international institutions that have enormous influence on the public policies of the countries of Latin America.
Among those attending the event will be the president of the World Youth Alliance, Anna Halpine, and government officials from Mexico and Costa Rica.
Participants will also include youth leaders, television and radio reporters, local leaders and all those interested in promoting respect for the dignity of the human person at the national and international levels.
More information on the gathering can be found at www.wya.net.
Caracas, Venezuela, Oct 25, 2005 (CNA) - The Apostolic Nuncio in Venezuela, Archbishop Giacinto Berlocco, said this week the Church does not endorse political parties and that the statements by Cardinal Rosalio Castillo Lara “reflect a personal opinion to which he has a right just as any other citizen of this country.”
“The Catholic Church is not aligned with any political party and….her principal mission is to attend to the needs of the people,” the archbishop told reporters.
He noted that Cardinal Castillo Lara has “his reasons for acting that way, but he does not represent the Church as he has not been officially given any task in this sense.”
On the other hand, the nuncio emphasized that there was no reason to characterize the relationship between the Church and the state as one of confrontation. “The Church favors the people,” he continued, and in this sense “there are many points of convergence” with the government.
According to media reports, Cardinal Rosalio Castillo Lara recently called upon the opposition to disavow the government of Hugo Chavez and to organize peaceful acts of civil disobedience in accord with the law.
Mexico City, Mexico, Oct 25, 2005 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Mexico City, Cardinal Norberto Rivera, said this week he was pleased that the media in the country is generating debate on euthanasia and its true significance and that people are being made aware of the political positions being taken on the issue.
Responding to questions from reporters, the cardinal said, “Thanks to you, this issue is being discussed, and I hope that people know that euthanasia is not about a happy death” nor is it “simply helping them to die,” but that “it has other, more serious consequences.”
Cardinal Rivera reminded Catholics that they have a right to know what positions the different political candidates have taken on matters such as abortion, euthanasia and homosexuality, and he called on politicians to “make their plans known” so that people don’t find out later that they “think one way and act another.”
The Archdiocese of Mexico’s newspaper, Desde la Fe, published other recent statements this week by Cardinal Rivera in which he called on Catholics to protest laws that attack life and the teachings of the Church.
The cardinal is not “calling for insurrection,” the article explained, “but rather a sensible and rational proposal that can be completely understood by civil authorities who are honest and democratic. The Church is not proposing political anarchy or social disorder, but rather marking a limit when “authorities, institutions or laws are unjust in themselves and act against the common good and destroy the dignity of the human person, thus perverting their reason for being.”
Santiago, Chile, Oct 25, 2005 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Santiago, Chile, Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz, expressed his rejection this week of a government-sponsored campaign to promote the widespread use of condoms, saying the Church will always speak out against immorality.
In an interview on Chilean television, the cardinal said it was “very said that as we were preparing for the canonization of Father Hurtado these television spots began airing which, because of the images they contain, many people might consider to be corrupting our young people.”
Cardinal Errazuriz noted that Chilean President Ricardo Lagos has called Father Hurtado Chile’s “founding father of the 20th century,” acknowledging that the new saint would help unite Chileans.
In recent days, the Bishops’ Conference of Chile demanded the government respect the freedom of individuals and not reduce the fight against AIDS to the distribution of condoms.