Vatican City, Oct 4, 2007 (CNA) - "Processus contra Templarios," a book published by the Vatican Secret Archives on the subject of the Knights Templar will be presented on October 25 in the Vatican's Old Synod Hall. The book contains entire acts of the original hearing against the medieval military-religious order that was suppressed by Pope Clement V.
According to a communique made public yesterday, the new volume is “a previously unpublished and exclusive edition” that will have a print run "rigorously limited to 799 copies" and contains the "faithful reproduction of the original parchments conserved in the Vatican Secret Archives."
The project, "is part of the series of 'Exemplaria Praetiosa,' ... the most elaborate and important publication yet undertaken by the Pontifical Archives."
Vatican City, Oct 4, 2007 (CNA) - This morning the Archdiocese of Sydney received a new auxiliary bishop as it prepares for the 2008 World Youth Day gathering and copes with a priest shortage.
Pope Benedict XVI appointed Fr. Terence John Gerard Brady, who is currently the pastor of Mosman and Neutral Bay parishes in Sydney, to serve as the new auxiliary for the half a million Catholics in the archdiocese. Upon his ordination, Sydney will have three auxiliary bishops.
The selection of Fr. Brady comes as the archdiocese suffers from a priest shortage that involves some 50 parishes having to share a pastor. The addition of another bishop will help the archdiocese more effectively minister to the half a million Catholics in her borders and perhaps call forth more vocations from the flock.
The bishop-elect was born in Rose Bay, Australia in 1947 and ordained a priest in 1983.
Vatican City, Oct 4, 2007 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI received Italy’s new ambassador to the Holy See, Antonio Zanardi Landi, today on the feast of St. Francis of Assisi. The pontiff spoke with the new diplomat about the "mutual collaboration" between Church and State "for the promotion of mankind and the good of the entire national community."
Recently, the Church in Italy has come under attack for its tax-exempt status from certain radical and Masonic groups within the European Union. The Pope seemed to be referring to this when he added, "the Church does not aim to acquire power nor does she seek privileges or positions of economic and social advantage. "Her only aim, is to serve mankind, drawing inspiration, as the supreme norm of behavior, from the words and example of Jesus Christ Who 'went about doing good and healing everyone.'”
Reiterating earlier responses to allegations that the Church was taking advantage of her outreach, Benedict told Landri, “the Catholic Church asks to be considered for her specific nature, and to have the opportunity freely to carry out her special mission for the good, not only of her own faithful, but of all Italians."
The Pope also addressed Italy’s Christian heritage and challenged Italians to use the riches of their Christian culture as, "a stimulus to seek new ways to face the great challenges that characterize the post-modern age." In this context the Pope mentioned "the defense of life, ... the protection of the rights of the individual and the family, the building of a united world, respect for creation and inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue."
After recalling that the year 2008 marks the 60th anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights, the Pope pointed out that this date "could constitute a useful occasion for Italy to offer its own contribution to the creation of a just order in the international arena, at the center of which is ... respect for mankind, for his dignity and for his inalienable rights."
Quoting from his own Message for World Peace Day 2007, the Holy Father then went on to say that the Declaration of Human Rights "is regarded as a sort of moral commitment assumed by all mankind. There is a profound truth to this, especially if the rights described in the Declaration are held to be based not simply on the decisions of the assembly that approved them, but on man's very nature and his inalienable dignity as a person created by God."
"Italy," Pope Benedict , "by virtue of its recent election as a member of the Council for Human Rights, and even more so for its own particular tradition of humanity and generosity, cannot but feel committed to the tireless construction of peace and the defense of the dignity of human beings and all their inalienable rights, including the right to religious freedom."
Sydney, Australia, Oct 4, 2007 (CNA) - Cardinal George Pell, Archbishop of Sydney, called spiritual and religious preparation "the most important challenge" for the upcoming World Youth Day 2008. The cardinal noted an "erosion of faith and practice," citing census figures showing a two percent increase in Australians who do not claim a religion.
Archbishop Pell said he had personally witnessed "deep conversions" in youths at World Youth Day in Rome in the year 2000. He expressed great hopes for the Australian-hosted World Youth Day:
"One of the great blessings that the World Youth Day will give us is that it will present the one true God to us, remind us of the teaching and the role of Christ, the only Son of God, and generally place spiritual values in the public domain."
The cardinal is confident the event will be well-organized. Up to half a million people are expected to attend the July 15-20 celebration.
The Australian government announced yesterday that it is simplifying visa procedures for World Youth Day pilgrims. Visas for registered pilgrims are free of government charges, are available for a three-month duration, and allow multiple entries into the country. Limited visa quotas have also been removed both in general and for particular countries.
Chicago, Ill., Oct 4, 2007 (CNA) - A school district in Oak Lawn, Illinois, citing concerns for sensitivity to Muslim students, is debating the place of Halloween and Christmas celebrations in public schools.
Rumors of a total holiday ban angered many parents, who protested the rumored changes. "They're trying to take away holidays and stuff for the kids," said resident Gene Boerema, dressed in a Santa Claus costume.
The controversy comes after one parent wanted Ramadan decorations put up, decorations which were later taken down. Elizabeth Zahdan, a Muslim mother of three, also requested that her children be separated from other students during the Ramadan fast. Zahdan insists she did not want traditional holidays canceled. "We should educate our children about all the holidays, equally," she said. "And not favor one holiday over another."
Superintendent Tom Smyth said the school never intended to do away with Christmas and Halloween celebrations. But constitutional questions remain. "I go back to our policy which says that public schools are to remain neutral in this respect, he said."
London, England, Oct 4, 2007 (CNA) - A prominent Catholic hospital in London is debating whether to institute a pro-life code of ethics at the behest of Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, the Archbishop of Westminster, The Telegraph reports.
The new code of ethics for the north London hospital of St. John and St. Elizabeth's would bar doctors from referring abortions or providing contraceptives. The code results from an investigation last year that found that medical staff was already violating Church teaching. Though intended to be implemented at the start of the year, it has faced resistance from doctors and executives.
Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor has said “It is important to give a sign to society that here is a hospital which will adhere to this particular code.”
National Health Service contracts require some hospital doctors to provide some family planning services.
The hospital, which was founded in 1856, was once run by the Sisters of Mercy. At present, its maternity ward is popular among celebrities. The actresses Cate Blanchett and Emma Thompson and the models Kate Moss and Heather Mills have given birth there.
If the hospital board fails to adopt the code of ethics, it could lose its status as a Catholic hospital, the cardinal said. "If it came to crunch I would say this is no longer a Catholic hospital but I won’t want to do that. I want it to be a pro-life hospital."
Manassas, Va., Oct 4, 2007 (CNA) - The Cardinal Newman Society has announced the publication of a college guide for Catholic higher education.
The book, titled The Newman Guide to a Catholic Education: What to Look for and Where to Find It, endorses Catholic colleges with a strong commitment to a Catholic identity and quality education.
The guide’s editor, Mr. Joseph Esposito, summed up the book's recommendations: "These colleges and universities represent a unique perspective on higher education ...but what sets them apart from others is the day-to-day living of their Catholic identity."
He continued: "This Guide will provide a valuable tool for parents and high school students seeking direction in the college-selection process."
The guide includes profiles of twenty-one colleges and essays on higher education from prominent Catholics. Further information may be found at www.theNewmanGuide.com
Guatemala City, Guatemala, Oct 4, 2007 (CNA) - In a letter sent to the Guatemalan Congress, the organization, Human Rights Watch (HRW) urged legislators to vote against the “Protection for Marriage and Family Act.”
The law would establish that the “family essentially originates, exclusively, from the conjugal union between a man and a woman, … in harmony with its essence, its purity, its nature, its reason of being, its values and original meaning...”
HRW urged the legislators to oppose the law due to its exclusion of single-parent families, divorced parents, and many unmarried heterosexual couples, as well as many indigenous family structures.
Juliana Cano Nieto, researcher in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights program at Human Rights Watch, said, “The aim of this bill is to strip certain partners, parents, and children of rights and recognition all families deserve.”
The final vote on the law is predicted to be this week. HRW acknowledged that each time a law is looking to protect marriage and family, the international opposition is greater and greater.
To try and protect the family, HRW proposes that the Yogyakarta Principles be adopted. These principles are an application of international human rights law to sexual orientation and gender identity, which were released in 2007. They hold that “[e]veryone has the right to found a family, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity... No family may be subjected to discrimination on the basis of the sexual orientation or gender identity of any of its members.”
Paris, France, Oct 4, 2007 (CNA) - Thawing relations between the long-separated Roman Catholic and Russian Orthodox churches could lead to a meeting between Pope Benedict XVI and Patriarch Alexy II.
While visiting France Patriarch Alexy II, head of the Russian Orthodox Church, suggested that a meeting with the pope could take place "perhaps not in a month but in a year or two," the International Herald Tribune reports.
The Catholic and Orthodox churches have been separated for almost a thousand years. However, Catholic engagement with other Orthodox Churches has improved of late. In Istanbul last year, Pope Benedict visited Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, spiritual head of the world's 220 million Orthodox.
But the Russian Orthodox Church has remained distant.
Father Ronald Roberson, an expert on the Orthodox with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, said the patriarch's comments were "an important step forward." He continued: "if he's talking about a meeting in a certain period of time, that is something that is quite new."
Catholic and Orthodox Christians have found common ground on moral issues and the problems of secularism. Patriarch Alexy II said in an interview with the French daily Le Figaro that both churches must cooperate to combat homosexual marriage and "propaganda in favor of euthanasia and abortion." He also said he had "the same approach" to Europe's lack of spiritual values as Pope Benedict XVI.
Some conflicts between the two churches could impede the visit. Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, deputy chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, cited as problematic "missionary activities among some people belonging to the Catholic Church in Russia and some Greek Catholics in some parts of Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan."
In a telephone interview he said, "Some activities of certain parts of the Roman Catholic Church hurt deeply, and there are those who say the Vatican puts forward one hand for shaking hands and the other to hit us. To avoid this impression it is important to solve the problems in sincere and concrete dialogue."
Other sources of tension include the status of former Catholic church buildings confiscated by the Soviets and now in Orthodox possession.
Anatoly Krasikov, head of the Center for Socio-Religious Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences, thought a meeting between the pope and the Russian patriarch inevitable.
"I think that sooner or later this meeting must occur," he said. "There is more understanding between both churches." But, he added, "there is much that still divides Catholics and the Orthodox."
Santiago, Chile, Oct 4, 2007 (CNA) - Bishop Juan Ignacio Gonzalez of San Bernardo has asked those responsible for stealing a statue of Mary on the night of September 30 at the local Cathedral to return it.
The Chilean bishop told those responsible for the theft, “For the love of God, return it and think about your own mother.” He called the act “a very grave offense against God for which they will pay either in this life or in the next.”
The theft of the statue, which was over 200 years old, came at the same time as a relic from the true Cross was stolen last week from the Basilica de la Merced in Santiago.
Bogotá, Colombia, Oct 4, 2007 (CNA) - The president of the Bishops’ Conference of Colombia, Archbishop Luis Augusto Castro, issued a statement this week emphasizing that “death with dignity cannot be understood as the right to end life through conditions created artificially by medical personnel or by a mistaken sense of mercy for the patient,” he said, in reference to a Senate bill regarding euthanasia.
In his statement entitled, “Death with dignity is not the same as euthanasia,” Archbishop Castro noted that the “true meaning of death with dignity is in the natural conclusion life,” accompanied by “medical, family and spiritual support.”
After explaining that “pain and suffering are not obstacles for the life of the human person, but rather, the experience of all human beings tells us that this reality is an integral part of the person seen in his integrity and totality,” Archbishop Castro emphasized that suffering “is the great opportunity to recognize human fragility and the natural challenge to overcome it.”
“The dignity of a human being is not in conflict with his own nature, such that aging, suffering and dying are not phenomena that degrade the dignity of the human being,” he stressed.
Despite the euphemisms, he went on, euthanasia is “murder” and its gravity is not diminished by “false mercy” or because “the patient requests it,” as in the case of assisted suicide. The arguments put forth by the Senators are an attack upon “the values of our culture, which for centuries, has always experienced suffering and death with sacred respect and transcendent meaning,” the archbishop said.
Archbishop Castro pointed out that the approval of the new law would mean “the legalization of the death penalty.” The Church, he continued, has always cared for the human person in all circumstances and has dedicated herself to the spiritual and physical care of the infirm, “because she believes that everyone deserves a death with dignity, with care that diminishes pain and suffering, but that allows the natural rhythm of existence to terminate without hurried decisions and without unnecessarily prolonging the suffering of the infirm.”
He called on all Colombians to express their rejection of the measure, and he asked lawmakers to confront the country’s problems with honesty, passing legislation that is for the good of the nation, rather than “converting themselves into the executioners of those who voted them into office.”