Sydney, Australia, Aug 9, 2007 (CNA) - The Archdiocese of Sydney has decided to draft a statement by which its 167 school principals, vice principals, and religious education coordinators will make a commitment to Catholic education, to the Church and its teachings.
The archdiocese opted for this form of commitment after first considering a public “vow of fidelity” to all Church teachings, including on homosexuality, birth control, and women’s ordination.
Cardinal George Pell of Sydney had wanted to extend the oath of fidelity and profession of faith, a requirement of Church law for bishops, priests, and heads of seminaries, to all senior educational leaders. The oath would have been a formal statement in canon law.
However, the cardinal’s proposal proved too controversial and was withdrawn. The new statement will serve as a dedication rather than an oath of office.
The bishops have been taking a close look at Catholic education in Australia and had issued a statement earlier this week, recommending ways to strengthen Catholic schools.
According to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald, some parents have complained about feeling pressured by priests and principals to attend Mass with their child and to have their children receive the sacraments of initiation.
Elite Catholic high schools, they add, were accepting only children from Catholic primary schools and giving preference to those parents who were active in their parish.
But the secretary of the Independent Teachers Union, Dick Shearman, told the Herald it was perfectly reasonable for Catholic bishops to insist that their schools reflect Catholic faith and values.
"All parents are pressured to be involved in the activities of their school, be it a public or Christian school, to attend speech nights and fundraisers, and for Catholic schools that will include a spiritual dimension," he was quoted as saying. "Why would anyone think otherwise?"
Br. Kelvin Canavan, executive director of the Catholic Education Office, told the Herald it is customary but not compulsory that Catholic school students be prepared for Communion, Reconciliation and Confirmation. He also clarified that there is a longstanding tradition in schools with high enrolment to give preference to churchgoing families.
Chicago, Ill., Aug 9, 2007 (CNA) - Dozens of gay and lesbian clergy and seminarians from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) protested at Chicago's Navy Pier on Tuesday in an effort to persuade ELCA's national assembly to forego the rule that requires homosexual clergy to remain celibate.
The 4.8-million-member denomination is headquartered in Chicago and is holding its tenth biennial Churchwide Assembly meeting here this week.
The protesters distributed a list of 80 pastors and seminarians awaiting a call or already removed from the clergy roster because of the church policy.
Nearly one-third of ELCA's 65 synods (or regional districts) have requested that the celibacy requirement be dropped. The Metropolitan Chicago Synod already welcomes some clergy in same-sex relationships.
Chicago Bishop Paul Landahl attended a worship service Wednesday sponsored by Goodsoil, a coalition of groups working to lift the ELCA's celibacy requirement for gay clergy. A New England bishop led the service.
Another group, called Lutheran CORE, opposes changing the celibacy rule.
The national assembly has not yet debated the issue, but it is on the agenda. A decision may be announced on Friday.
In other ELCA news, the national assembly re-elected Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson on Tuesday to lead the church for another six years.
Manila, Philippines, Aug 9, 2007 (CNA) - Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales of Manila has reminded the faithful of proper attire and decorum in churches.
Speaking on Catholic-run Radio Veritas on Monday, Cardinal Rosales said churches are places of worship and prayer and should be accorded respect.
Proper attire does not refer to new designer clothes but rather something appropriate for religious occasions, he said. He recalled that women were required to wear veils in church the Second Vatican Council and jeans were never worn to church.
He also appealed to bridal parties to wear proper attire during wedding ceremonies. Certain clothing can distract fellow churchgoers from prayer, he said.
The cardinal, who will turn 75 on Friday, submitted his resignation as is required of all bishops at 75. However, the Pope has invited him to continue in his ministry beyond his 75th birthday.
Phoenix, Ariz., Aug 9, 2007 (CNA) - Bishop Donald Pelotte of Gallup was released from John C. Lincoln Hospital in Phoenix on Wednesday. The bishop had been admitted after an apparent fall at his Gallup, New Mexico, home last month.
The blog on the Diocese of Gallup website says the bishop is resting comfortably and waiting the next phase of his treatment.
Bishop Pelotte says he fell down a staircase in his home, but there has been speculation that he might have been assaulted, reports The Associated Press.
According to a police report, the bishop was heavily bruised across his face, chest, both arms, knuckles, legs, and feet.
The city of Gallup is asking a judge to determine whether photographs taken by police of the injured bishop are a matter of public record as two media outlets have requested the photos.
Nashville, Tenn., Aug 9, 2007 (CNA) - A particularly candid Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone spoke yesterday afternoon about the situation surrounding the sex abuse scandal in the United States. The Church’s second in command praised the Church’s response and reserved some critical words for those who have seized on the scandal as an opportunity for profit.
“The Church in the US has suffered deeply, has responded with dignity, and invites everyone to truly commit to a reversal of this situation,” said Bertone.
“While I was still at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and then as the Archbishop of Genoa, I accompanied the American Church through this trial, this period, and I repeat that they faced this trial with dignity and courage.”
However, the Cardinal was particularly upset with those who have turned the situation into a means of making a profit. “The business aspect, the financial aspect, has nothing to do with cleaning up the reality of the situation. It is an unbearable business that has been created here in the United States…it’s unbearable and also disgraceful.”
The Cardinal also seemed to speak with some indignation about the way that the Church has been singled out as a target. He said that, “the proportion of priests who are involved in this scandal is very small given that there are 44,000 priests in the United States.”
“I could only hope that the other social agencies would have the same courage to face this problem as the Roman Catholic Church did.”
The Secretary of State also showed that he was concerned that a comprehensive solution is provided to the sex abuse problem and continued to point out how the most analysis of the Church’s response is slanted.
“I ask if the other organizations have provided financial compensation for the victims…have they taken care of the victims and those who have been guilty? We cannot abandon the victims or dismiss the guilty as lost.”
Vatican City, Aug 9, 2007 (CNA) - In a new column to be published on Thursday, Vatican analyst Sandro Magister of the Italian weekly “L’Espresso” predicts important changes in the Roman Curia.
In his latest column, Magister says two key intellectuals will be respectively named to the posts of President of the Pontifical Council for Culture—replacing Cardinal Paul Poupard—and of Director of “L’Osservatore Romano,” taking the reins from Mario Agnes.
Magister describes the intellectual profile of each of the possible new appointments, pointing out that “with a Pope professor like Benedict XV, the time is now favorable at the Vatican for learned men in tune with him.”
The Vatican analyst says one man is an important Biblical scholar, while the other is a well-known academic of ancient literature. He gives profiles on each candidate in his column, which can be found in English at http://chiesa.espresso.repubblica.it/index.jsp?eng=y.
In addition, Magister also announces the naming of an American Benedictine as the new President of the Pontifical Commission for Cultural Goods and Sacred Archeology. Additionally, he reveals the identification of an important theologian as Director of Sacred Art and Music.
Rome, Italy, Aug 9, 2007 (CNA) - In recent memo sent to the presidents of the bishops’ conferences of the world, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said the participation of Catholics in prayer groups organized by alleged Orthodox visionary Vassula Ryden was “not opportune.”
In the internal message dated January 25, 2007, and published by various internet sites, Cardinal William Levada, prefect of the CDF, said his dicastery continues to receive “letters asking for clarification on the writings and activities of Ms. Vassula Ryden, especially as concerns the weight of the notification of October 6, 1995 and the criteria that should be followed in defining the positions of the local Church about the convenience of spreading the writings of Ms. Vassula Ryden.”
“The Notification of 1995 continues to be valid with regards to the doctrinal judgments about the examined writings,” Levada said.
He noted that after Ryden met with the CDF, “she clarified certain problematic points that appeared in her writings and also about the nature of her messages, which are presented not as divine revelations but rather as her own personal meditations.”
“Therefore, from the normative point of view, and after these clarifications, and a prudential case-by-case evaluation, taking into account the concrete possibility that the faithful have to read the writings in the context of the aforementioned clarifications, [it] “does not seem opportune that Catholics participate in prayer groups organized by Ms. Ryden.” the memo indicated.
Lastly, the memo reiterates that "Regarding eventual ecumenical encounters, the faithful should follow the dispositions of the ecumenical Directory, of the Code of Canon Law (C. 215; c. 223, &2; c. 383, &3) and of the diocesan Ordinaries.”
Mexico City, Mexico, Aug 9, 2007 (CNA) - After decades of indirectly criticizing the Catholic Church through friendly media outlets, the powerful Mexican Masonry has now directly gone after Catholic bishops, accusing them of pretending to “control” Mexican politics by demanding the right to education and information.
The previous Mexican Constitution, because of Masonic influence, stripped the Church of the right to own schools and communications media. Recently, the Mexican bishops announced they would begin a campaign to regain these rights.
The Grand Lodge of the Valley of Mexico, which brings together 12,000 Masons, reacted to the proposal by calling a press conference in which Great Teacher Pedro Marquez accused the Church of wanting to “return to the past.”
“The Catholic hierarchy wants to dictate a political policy and that is a very grave error, as our society is no longer in the era of Christianity and priests are no longer viceroys of New Spain,” Marquez said.
“There is a tendency in the Church to meddle in the social and political affairs of Mexico, but the priests should return to their Churches,” he added.
Mexican Masonry played a decisive role in the configuration of the Mexican State and in political measures such as the stripping of the Church’s right to own schools and communications media, the right to vote of priests and religious, and the rupture of diplomatic relations with the Vatican.
The anti-clerical policies were kept in place throughout the entire period of rule by the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), dominated by the Masons, from 1929 to 2000.
The Mexican bishops, together with the College of Catholic Lawyers, intend to present a proposal to the Mexican Congress that would nullify laws that are “discriminatory and outdated.”
Rome, Italy, Aug 9, 2007 (CNA) - While meeting with a group of Spanish young people of the “Mission Youth” initiative led by Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela of Madrid, Pope Benedict XVI stressed that the message of Jesus Christ and the Church needs to be shared with young people without fear.
Speaking in Spanish, the Pope thanked the young people present for their testimony and congratulated them for their enthusiasm in going out into the open and making the surprising discovery that, contrary to what many think, the Gospel profoundly attracts young people.” Mission Youth has enabled them to “discover the ecclesial meaning of Christian life in all of its fullness,” he continued, “the fineness and beauty of love and of the family lived according to God’s plan.”
The Holy Father told them that in visiting the holy places of Rome, “you have been able to better understand why faith in Jesus Christ, in opening the horizons of a new life of authentic freedom and hope without limits, needs the mission, the push that is born of a heart generously given over to God and of the courageous witness of He who is the Way, the Truth and the Life,” especially when “you see around you many who have forgotten or ignore Him, blinded by so many passing dreams that many promote but that leave the heart empty.”
The Pope encouraged the young missionaries to “persevere in the journey you have begun.” “Do not cease to cultivate your own personal encounter with Christ, to have him always at the center of your hearts, thus your entire lives will become a mission; Christ who lives in you will be transparent.”
“As young people,” he went on, “you are deciding about your future. Do so with the light of Christ. Ask Him, What do you want of me? And follow the road he shows you with generosity and trust, knowing that, in baptism, all are called to holiness without distinction and to be living members of the Church in whatever state of live we are in.”
The Pope concluded with a prayer to Mary to accompany the young people and bring them happiness in their commitment that they have made for the glory of God and the good of others.
Vatican City, Aug 9, 2007 (CNA) - In a press release, the Holy See Press Office said the brief greeting last Sunday between Pope Benedict and Polish priest Father Tadeusz Rydzyk, director of Radio Maria in Poland, does not affect the Vatican’s stance on Jewish relations.
The Polish priest, director of the popular radio station in Poland which is not part of the international network based in Italy and also known as Radio Maria, has been accused of anti-Semitism, which he has strongly denied. Reacting to the greeting, some Jewish organizations, such as the Anti-Defamation League, asked for clarifications about the meeting.
The short statement by the Holy See’s Press Office states, “Regarding the requests for clarification about the kissing of the Pope’s hand at the end of the Angelus last Sunday, August 5, the occurrence does not imply any change in the well-known position of the Holy See in the relations between Catholics and Jews.”
Nashville, Tenn., Aug 9, 2007 (CNA) - The Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone gave a press conference yesterday afternoon while at the Knights of Columbus 125th convention, speaking on a wide range of topics. The Cardinal began by mentioning the success of his first visit to the United States, and then moved on to talk about the Church in China, and the intersection of faith and politics.
First US Visit
Cardinal Bertone spoke openly about how the Church he has seen in Nashville is “very positive, very alive and active.” He pointed to a visit that he paid to the Dominican Sisters of Saint Cecilia Wednesday morning and his experience of the Knights of Columbus as examples.
When he traveled to the sisters’ new motherhouse he was very impressed with their intelligence, beauty, and youth. He said that they are a beautiful expression of the American Church and, “make sure you write, that their average age is 33.”
The Knights of Columbus are also a sign of the vitality of the Church in the States, according to the prelate. “They are Catholic and they are with the Church.”
Church in China
CNA asked Cardinal Bertone about the situation of the Church in China and the recent “invitation” for a papal visit, to which he responded, “the situation of the Church in China was presented in a very good way in the letter that the Holy Father wrote to the Chinese.”
The letter was well discussed at all levels in China, not only amongst the Church but also among the secular officials. The Pope’s letter is the best way to address the situation in China, according to the Cardinal.
In reference to the alleged invitation for the Pope to visit China, Bertone said, “the invitation was done by one official and only one who is not a representative of the government.” Currently, the Secretary of State says that “the question of a visit has been suspended and we are awaiting a response from the government.”
Faith and Politics
The issue of denying Communion to politicians who hold pro-abortion views or other views contrary to Church teaching was also discussed. Bertone said that, “it is not necessary to issue new norms regarding the reception of communion because the present ones clearly represent the doctrine of the Church.”
The Cardinal pointed to how, “there seems to be this idea that a political party, whether an American or Italian party, can impose an ethical choice on one of its members. I’m speaking here about the question of abortion, homosexual marriage, and embryonic research…all the while, they emphasize the freedom of conscience.” “This is a contradiction and a violation of the freedom of conscience here [in the US] and elsewhere.”
Nashville, Tenn., Aug 9, 2007 (CNA) - Supreme Knight Carl Anderson delivered the annual State of the Knights of Columbus report on Monday afternoon. He indicated that the fraternal organization saw record charitable donations, volunteerism, membership growth, and investment.
The meeting was ceremoniously opened with the same gavel that Fr. McGivney used to convene the first meeting of the original Knights Council 125 years ago.
Archbishop William Lori, the Supreme Chaplain of the fraternal organization, offered a prayer to commend the proceedings to Our Lady as well.
Mr. Anderson then commenced to give highlights from the Knights 125-year history. Of particular note, were this year’s accomplishments, which include the giving of $143 million to charities (an increase of 4 million over 2006), the logging of 68.2 million volunteer hours, and reaching a membership level of 1.7 million men.
The Knights also underlined that they were able to introduce the order to Poland, where they went from one council to eight councils in the span of one year.
As for the financial well being of the Knights Life Insurance Company, whose main purpose is to provide for the widowed and orphaned; it is performing very well. The past year saw their assets double and an increase of $6.5 billion in growth.
Anderson also spoke about the organization’s political involvement, saying, that they are not affiliated with one party or another and that they will not become involved in partisan politics.
Mr. Anderson closed his report by announcing that in 2009, when the annual gathering is held in Phoenix, Arizona, it will also include the first-ever Marian Congress on Our Lady of Guadalupe. The Archdiocese of Mexico City will celebrate the Congress in conjunction with the Knights, which will focus on the ways that Our Lady of Guadalupe has protected everyone in the Americas.