Melbourne, Australia, Jul 10, 2007 (CNA) - A Melbourne family is considering moving to another town to find a different school for their son after a run-in with a Catholic school over their last name.
Alex Hell and his wife approached St. Peter the Apostle School about enrolling their five-year-old son Max because the boy was being bullied at his current school due to his last name, reported The Associated Press.
Officials said the boy had been offered a place at the school after discussions between the principal, the parish priest and the family.
The Catholic school supported the idea to enroll Max using his mother's maiden name, Wembridge.
According to the AP, the director of Catholic Education in Victoria state, Stephen Elder, said using the boy's mother's name was the parents' idea to "assist the child in the transition of schools."
The school withdrew the invitation when the parents changed their minds about the name, but reversed its decision and offered Max a place once his father publicized the issue.
"After discussions between the parish priest and principal, St. Peter the Apostle School has made an offer of enrollment to the student," Elder said in a statement. "The school is working with the family in the best interests of the child."
Hell said his last name is Austrian and means "bright."
Bhopal, India, Jul 10, 2007 (CNA) - A group of Christians set a new world record by writing out the entire Bible in 232 minutes. They chose to do this on the seventh day of the seventh month of the seventh year of the new millennium.
An ecumenical team, which ranged in age from 11 to 77 and included priests, nuns, pastors, brothers, and lay people, was led by local layman Sunil Joseph, reported ICNS. Joseph set his own record in 2005 by writing out the Bible on his own in 123 days.
The writing began at 5 p.m. in the presence of Archbishop Pascal Topno. It ended at 7:32 p.m. with common prayer.
“It is a historic movement of brotherhood among the Christians,” the archbishop told those present. “We are one in Christ. Our differences are nothing before the strong brotherhood feeling we have among us.”
The event was also organized to mark 07 / 07 / 07, organizers said. Christians consider the number seven, which appears often in the Bible, as the most complete number among all numbers.
“This is an effort to spread the message of love in the Holy Bible for the unity and brotherhood of our country,” Joseph said. “It is also to encourage people to read the message of love embedded in the Holy Scripture.”
Belfast, UK, Jul 10, 2007 (CNA) - The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) has been ordered to rehire a police photographer and pay him nearly $90,000 after suffering discrimination on the job for marrying a Catholic, reported the BBC.
Stephen Murphy a Protestant, had worked for two years for the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) in the 1980s and became a civilian photographer in 1998. However, when his colleagues found out he was engaged to a Catholic woman, he was told she was a "whore" and his decision to marry her meant he couldn't be trusted.
The tribunal considering the case heard that two senior officers tried to make Murphy's life "as difficult as possible" and to force him to leave. He was given unfavorable hours and subjected to a poor annual review. He was also warned his life was in danger.
Murphy suffered panic attacks and was unable to sleep as a result of the treatment. He had to take sick leave. During that time, it was reported that a court exhibit prepared by him was removed and dumped in a bin.
PSNI representatives did not attend the court hearing.
Vatican City, Jul 10, 2007 (CNA) - The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, under the leadership of Cardinal William Levada, issued a document today that provides further explanation of the teachings of Vatican II on the nature of the Church.
In the wake of the Second Vatican Council, some theologians have proposed interpretations of the Church’s teaching which have been in error and have “give[n] rise to confusion and doubt.” The purpose of this document is to dispel this confusion and bring greater clarity to the matter.
The issuance of these clarifications on the heels of Benedict's Motu Proprio, may signal an attempt by the Vatican to remove all possible barriers towards reconciliation with the Society of St. Pius X. The society claims that the Church departed from the teaching that there is no salvation outside the Catholic Church at the Second Vatican Council.
What follows is a summary form of the questions and answers. The full length document can be found in CNA’s documents section.
First Question: Did the Second Vatican Council change the Catholic doctrine on the Church?
Response: The Second Vatican Council neither changed nor intended to change this doctrine, rather it developed, deepened and more fully explained it.
Second Question: What is the meaning of the affirmation that the Church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church?
Response: Christ 'established here on earth' only one Church and instituted it as a 'visible and spiritual community', that from its beginning and throughout the centuries has always existed and will always exist, and in which alone are found all the elements that Christ himself instituted. 'This one Church of Christ, which we confess in the Creed as one, holy, catholic and apostolic. ... This Church, constituted and organized in this world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church, governed by the successor of Peter and the Bishops in communion with him'.
Third Question: Why was the expression 'subsists in' adopted instead of the simple word 'is'?
Response: …It comes from and brings out more clearly the fact that there are 'numerous elements of sanctification and of truth' which are found outside her structure, but which 'as gifts properly belonging to the Church of Christ, impel towards Catholic Unity.'
In fact the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as instruments of salvation, whose value derives from that fullness of grace and of truth which has been entrusted to the Catholic Church.
Fourth Question: Why does the Second Vatican Council use the term 'Church' in reference to the oriental Churches separated from full communion with the Catholic Church?
Response: The Council wanted to adopt the traditional use of the term. 'Because these Churches, although separated, have true sacraments and above all - because of the apostolic succession - the priesthood and the Eucharist, by means of which they remain linked to us by very close bonds,' they merit the title of 'particular or local Churches,' and are called sister Churches of the particular Catholic Churches.
Fifth Question: Why do the texts of the Council and those of the Magisterium since the Council not use the title of 'Church' with regard to those Christian Communities born out of the Reformation of the sixteenth century?
Response: According to Catholic doctrine, these Communities do not enjoy apostolic succession in the sacrament of Orders, and are, therefore, deprived of a constitutive element of the Church.
Rome, Italy, Jul 10, 2007 (CNA) - The Orthodox Archbishop of Cyprus, Chrysostomos II, called on the Turkish community to allow Christians to “restore our churches on our own and bring monks back to the Monastery of St. Barnabas located in the occupied zones of the north.”
In a press release issued in Rome, Chrysostomos II said, “We want to stop the degradation, sensitize the international community, recover works of art that were taken away and bring them here to restore them and conserve them. We want our civilization to be respected. For our part, if the Turks thought that here (in Cyprus) there were mosques in poor condition, they would be willing to restore them, but I don’t think that is the case because all of them are very well preserved,” he said.
A recent census revealed that there are 520 Christian buildings in the northern zone of Cyprus, including churches, chapels and monasteries. 133 buildings have been profaned, 78 have been converted in mosques, 28 are being used by the military and as guest homes and 13 are military storage facilities. Some church buildings have also been turned into discos. Some 15,000 icons have been illegally taken and are on the international black market. The destroyed cultural patrimony contains frescos that date to 500 A.D., mostly from the Byzantine era.
“What we hope is that the money that the European community has already dispensed, some 286 million euros, to the Turkish community in Cyprus, will be used to restore churches, at least those most in need, because there are many fallen churches and many are about to fall.”
Chrysostomos II also requested that the monks expelled during the occupation be allowed to return to the monastery of St. Barnabas. The same request has also been sent to the UN Security Council, but there has not been a response yet.
In his recent visit to Rome, the archbishop met with Pope Benedict XVI who said he would do everything possible to help him. Chrysostomos II demanded the European Union respect the rights of the Turks, who are seeking entry into the EU.
Last year, on the eve of the Pope’s visit to Turkey, Tassos Papadopoulos, the president of the divided island of Cyprus, which is partially occupied by the Turkish army, gave the Holy Father an impressive album with photos of 300 Orthodox churches destroyed by the Turks since the taking of the Mediterranean islands.
Managua, Nicaragua, Jul 10, 2007 (CNA) - The Nicaraguan government has said President Daniel Ortega has formally invited Pope Benedict XVI to visit the Central American country if he feels it opportune.
In a press release, the government announced that Chancellor Samuel Santos, who is currently visiting Italy, gave the invitation to the Vatican’s Secretary for Relations with States, Archbishop Dominique Mamberti.
Pope John Paul II visited Nicaraguan 1983, when Ortega was also in power. During that visit, Sandinista sympathizers interrupted the papal Mass with anti-American chants.
At that time, Ortega maintained tense relations with the Catholic Church, but now he has attempted to smooth relations over with several bishops.
Pamplona, Spain, Jul 10, 2007 (CNA) - Archbishop Fernando Sebastian of Pamplona has called for “an act of reparation” to be made on July 15 for the blasphemy committed by the Muthiko Alaiak club, which carried a banner of the crucified Christ with his hand raised in the Nazi salute during the San Fermin Festival.
The San Fermin Festival is often better known as the festival in which the running of the bulls takes place in Pamplona.
“Several San Fermin clubs have included pictures of me on the banners which could be considered offensive. If they went no further than that I wouldn’t have said anything because it’s not worth going to the media just to settle personal questions,” the archbishop said. However, he went on, in the case of the Mutiko Alaiak club it is “completely intolerable.”
The actions by the club profoundly wound “the religious sentiments of many thousands of Christians,” Archbishop Sebastian stated, adding that the San Fermin Festival “gives no one the right to insult or wound the sentiments of others, including their religious sentiments.”
Therefore he has invited the faithful to gather at the Santa Marta la Real Square on July 15 to participate in a procession that will end with Mass at the Cathedral.
“As the one responsible for the Church in Navarra, I publicly protest this behavior that profanes one of the most sacred symbols for Christians and degrades the social and humane quality of our festival,” the archbishop said. He encouraged Catholics to “demand respect for the symbols of our faith through all legal means,” and he called on authorities to defend the right of Catholics “to be treated with respect and to be protected in our beliefs and religious sentiments.”
Mexico City, Mexico, Jul 10, 2007 (CNA) - The Archdiocese of Mexico is organizing the 3rd National Conference of Exorcists to take place July 16-20 at the headquarters of the Bishops’ Conference of Mexico in Mexico City, with international experts from around the world in attendance.
The event is intended for exorcists, priests in general, and those who assist in the pastoral ministry to the possessed. Members of the laity who attend must present a letter from their priest confirming their active work in the ministry of exorcism.
Among those attending will be the president of the International Association of Exorcists, Father Gian Carlo Gramolazzo, Father Gabrielle Nanni, author of the book “Exorcisms,” and Father Francisco Bamonte, author of “Diabolical Possessions and Exorcisms.”
The themes that will be discussed during the conference include, “Demonology and Satanism according to the Magiterium of the Church,” and “Practical guides for exercising the ministry of healing, liberation and exorcism.”
Rome, Italy, Jul 10, 2007 (CNA) - Speaking to the Italian news agency SIR, Archbishop Louis Sako of Kirkuk (Iraq) said this week the situation of the persecution of Christians in Iraq requires that “changes be made to religious education in schools, at home, and in general at places of worship, that the clergy be reformed and made more attentive to modern society and that respect for human rights be demanded of the government.”
“Terrorists attack all Iraqis without distinction of creed. Armed assaults, murders and kidnappings are daily realities,” the archbishop said.
“The agitators of the dissolved Baath party, the criminals that were part of the regime before the war, the Arab fighters (Moujahidin) and Muslim fundamentalists all want to prevent a democratic, pluralistic and modern Iraq. Criminals want money, party members want power, fundamentalists want to be the sole bearers of truth and therefore those who oppose them are intimidated,” he explained.
In this situation, the archbishop continued, Christians are “the first victims because they are seen as similar to Americans and because thus they have a certain level of well-being that makes them the target kidnappings.” However, he said, “The country can be rebuilt under the guidance of the UN.”
Sydney, Australia, Jul 10, 2007 (CNA) - The Catholic Church in Australia is working on a campaign to bring 4.2 million lapsed believers back to the fold.
The Australian bishops have set up their first national office to develop strategies to revive evangelization, revitalize churchgoers and bring back lapsed Catholics.
By December 2009, each parish in Sydney will develop a strategy for contacting and welcoming people, especially families not actively involved in the church. The bishops are also calling for "reintegrating" divorced and civilly married couples and their children into parish life.
Parish outreach will be done through community notice boards in cafés, on streets and in shopping centers. A video and website are also being considered.
People would be invited to meetings, where they could talk about their past experiences with the Church. Later, they would be reintroduced to Church rituals.
Cardinal George Pell of Sydney asked that World Youth Day (WYD) 2008 be held in his archdiocese with the hope that it would increase church attendance among young people, bring more men to the priesthood and precipitate a new evangelization on the continent.
He intends to set up an archdiocesan youth website, organize regional Sunday night Masses, and train youth ministers for WYD.
One recent effort that has met with success is a newspaper ad campaign that offers an explanation of the principles of Catholicism. In three weeks the ads have drawn 700 inquiries. The ads were placed by the Catholic Inquiry Centre which will be placing follow-up ads in bridal magazines.