Nairobi, Kenya, Mar 19, 2008 (CNA) - Cardinal Francis Arinze, the Church’s “liturgist-in-chief,” recently made a speech at an African university in which he criticized liturgical abuses and protested Masses where the recklessly innovative priests act as “Reverend Showman”.
The Nigerian-born Cardinal Arinze, who is Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, was in Kenya to conduct a workshop and a retreat on liturgy for the bishops, according to CISA. While he was at the Catholic University of East Africa, the cardinal delivered a public lecture in which he discussed the importance of following liturgical rubrics and the proper place of inculturation in the liturgy.
The cardinal discussed sentiments that cause errors in worship, such as regarding everyone as an expert in liturgy, extolling spontaneity and creativity to the detriment of approved rites and prayers, seeking immediate popular applause or enjoyment, and ignoring approved liturgical texts.
He said that liturgical abuses were often due to an ignorance that rejects elements of worship whose deeper meaning is not understood or whose antiquity is not recognized.
Cardinal Arinze clarified the nature of the reforms of Vatican II, saying they must be seen as continuous with the past rather than as a dramatic break. “The Catholic Church is the same before and after Vatican II. It isn’t another Church,” he said.
Some aspects of liturgical rites can be modified according to pastoral needs. “The Church does not live in the Vatican Museum,” the cardinal said. However, he said that incorporating local traditions into the practice of the faith, which is known as inculturation, should be compatible with the Christian message and in communion with the universal Church.
Inculturation, he said, “should make people part of a Church which is universal but also local.”
Cardinal Arinze attacked distortions of inculturation, saying, “It is a caricature of inculturation to understand it as the invention of the fertile imagination of some enthusiastic priest, who concocts an idea on Saturday night and tries it on the innocent congregation the following morning. He may have good will, but good will is not enough.”
The cardinal also condemned individualistic experimentation, saying, “the person who of his own authority adds or subtracts from the laid down liturgical rites is doing harm to the Church.”
Proper inculturation, the cardinal said, required bishops to guide the introduction of new elements into worship. Innovations should take place only after careful consideration, after bishops have set up a multi-disciplinary group of experts to study a cultural element to be included in the liturgy.
The group of experts should then make their recommendation to their bishops’ conference. If both the bishops’ conference and the Holy See approve the innovation, after limited experiment and “due preparation” of the clergy and the people, the new element may be incorporated. “Otherwise it is wild liturgy,” said Cardinal Arinze.
Cardinal Arinze characterized a successful celebration of the Mass as one that “manifests the Catholic faith powerfully, encourages those who have the faith already, shakes up those who are slumbering and those who are at the edge, and makes curious those who are not Catholics at all.”
The Mass must send Catholics home “full of joy, ready to come back again, ready to live it and to share it.”
The cardinal encouraged future priests’ proper formation in liturgy and the ongoing liturgical formation of both clergy and lay people.
Lindsay, Calif., Mar 19, 2008 (CNA) - The firing of a county library employee who disobeyed her supervisor in reporting to police a patron who was viewing child pornography has focused attention on permissive library “free speech” policies.
Brenda Biesterfeld, a librarian assistant in Lindsay, California, was ordered by her supervisor not to report a man who was looking at pictures of naked boys on the library’s public computer. She called police anyway. On the 39-year-old man’s next visit, police caught him allegedly viewing child pornography.
The man, Donny Lynn Chrisler, was arrested on March 4 on suspicion of violating child pornography and obscenity laws. Police say they found “kiddie porn” in Chrisler’s trailer home.
Biesterfeld said she had a hostile conversation with her supervisor, Judi Hill, after she ignored the supervisor’s orders and notified police. “She kind of threatened me,” Biesterfeld said. “She said I worked for the county, and when the county tells you to do something, you do what the county tells you. She said I had no loyalty to the county. I told her I was a mother and a citizen also, and not just a county employee.”
Biesterfeld was fired on March 6. A letter from Tulare County Librarian Brian Lewis said that probationary employees such as Biesterfeld can be terminated at any time if they don’t perform at a level “necessary for fully satisfactory performance in the employee's position.”
However, a Lindsay city councilwoman said that six weeks before the firing, she was told that Biesterfeld was doing a great job.
On March 14, the Linsdsay City Council sent a letter to Tulare county supervisors complaining about Judi Hill’s “abrupt, demanding and demeaning” phone call to a police captain telling him to call off his pornography investigation because the city had “no business interfering” with library matters.
Randy Thomasson, president of the Campaign for Children and Families, criticized the county library administrators. “The liberals who run the library system in America must stop violating the federal law because they regard child pornography as free speech,” he said.
“All pornography is immoral, but possession of child pornography is a federal crime. No librarian should fear reporting child pornography to the police, but libraries that fail to report these crimes should be very afraid. Brenda Biesterfeld will get her job back, and more.”
The Campaign for Children and Families said that the American Library Association does not instruct librarians to report child pornography incidents to the police. “Instead, the association has vigorously opposed all congressional efforts to restrict pornography, obscenity and child pornography for more than a decade,” the campaign claims.
However, the library association has refuted this claim stating, "The American Library Association does not condone child pornography. We advise librarians to call police when an individual views or prints out child pornography. For library staff, we advise library personnel to use reasonable efforts to preserve any direct evidence of the crime and then turn it over to the library's director and the library's attorney, who should then report the incident to police in accordance with the law."
Washington D.C., Mar 19, 2008 (CNA) - In its first major broadcast indecency case in thirty years, the Supreme Court will consider whether radio and television channels can be punished for broadcasting “fleeting expletives”.
The government has banned “fleeting expletives,” one-time uses of indecent words like the “F-word” that can bring big fines.
The case under consideration, FCC vs. Fox Television Stations, 07-582, was instigated by the Federal Communications Commission’s 2006 ruling that two broadcasts of the “Billboard Music Awards” were indecent. On two separate shows, the actor-musician Cher and the reality show star Nicole Richie used an obscenity beginning with “f.”
Though the FCC levied no fines, Fox Broadcasting Co. and others appealed the decision. They claimed the agency had changed its enforcement policy without warning and argued the new ban was unconstitutional.
A New York federal appeals court, in a 2-1 decision, agreed with the plaintiffs and threw out the ban. The FCC then appealed to the Supreme Court.
FCC Chairman Kevin Martin told the Associated Press that he was pleased the Supreme Court would hear the appeal. He said that the New York federal appellate court "put the commission in an untenable position," giving the FCC the responsibility to enforce indecency rules but taking away the tools of enforcement.
Fox Broadcasting Co. said the case gives the company "the opportunity to argue that the FCC's expanded enforcement of the indecency law is unconstitutional in today's diverse media marketplace where parents have access to a variety of tools to monitor their children's television viewing."
The Media Access Project argued that the present policy is "incoherent and overbroad and has "chilled the creative process for the writers, directors and producers we represent."
Jerusalem, Israel, Mar 19, 2008 (CNA) - In his final Easter address, Latin-rite Patriarch of Jerusalem, Michel Sabbah assured the people of his continued prayers for peace in the region. The patriarch is expected to step down from his position today, his 75th birthday.
In his address on the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem’s website, Archbishop Sabbah stated that though he is retiring, he will continue to work for justice and peace for the people of Jerusalem.
“I shall work with every seeker of justice and peace until all the inhabitants of this land will live in security and tranquility, in the presence of God Almighty, merciful and full of love to all his creatures. For the sake of all our faithful in our Churches of Jerusalem, and all believers from all religions in this land, Jews, Muslims, Christians, Druze and Baha'is, I shall pray, and extend my love to all.”
He also expressed the need for leaders to set an example by choosing peace for their people. “There are hundreds of thousands in both the Palestinian and Israeli societies who send an outcry: peace… peace. And they are ready to make ‘peace now’. But we see also extremists on both sides who are prisoners of their own ideologies and call in the name of God to kill their brothers, while God tells them all: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. We are in need of leaders who can make peace because this is the sole path to put an end to extremism and to start the true way towards security and tranquility. To say that peace is a risk that we cannot take means to keep all of us in the cycle of death and violence. The leaders have to choose between two paths: either peace or increasing extremism and insecurity. We need leaders who are ready to offer their lives for the sake of peace not leaders who issue orders to kill and assassinate and send others to kill or to get killed.”
“We celebrate the feast of the glorious Resurrection, which is the triumph of Jesus Christ over death and sin. God grants this power to every human being so that he can prevail over evil within his soul and the evil surrounding him. He grants us all the power to transform hatred and death into trust and love and life that was gifted to us through the Resurrection.”
“We believe in God and we believe that God is good and His goodness will one day defeat the evil of people who claim that they want to build and maintain security, while their actions transform security into a mirage. It is high time to take new security measures that respect the human being and bring him closer to peace rather than death.”
“Dear brothers and sisters, this is my last Easter Message as a Patriarch of the Holy Land. I have said earlier and I repeat: I shall continue to pray and walk with you on the difficult path of peace and justice, and on the path of sanctity that God requires from anyone who wants to live and rule this land. I wish everyone a Happy and Holy Easter and a new life full of the spirit and grace of God.”
Archbishop Michel’s successor will likely be Bishop Fuad Twal who was named coadjutor bishop of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem in 2005.
Vatican City, Mar 19, 2008 (CNA) - Today is known as Spy Wednesday, which, according to the tradition of the Church, commemorates Judas' betrayal of Jesus on the eve of the last supper. Greeting thousands of young pilgrims in Rome for Holy Week, Pope Benedict XVI gave a catechesis on the Easter Triduum, three days that are celebrated as a single event that form the heart to the Church and of the liturgical year.
"We have arrived at the eve of the Easter Triduum," he said. "The next three days are commonly called holy because we are reliving a central event of our redemption that leads us back to the core fact of the Christian faith: the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ."
Lent, the Pope said, prepares us to enter these days in the same spirit that Jesus entered Jerusalem. In that spirit, he said we awaken the memory of the suffering that Christ bore for our sake so that we might celebrate with joy next Sunday, "the real Easter, which the Blood of Christ covered with glory, Easter when the Church celebrates the true origin of all feasts."
Speaking first of Holy Thursday, the Holy Father said the Church recalls the Last Supper during which, on the eve of his passion and death, established the Sacrament of the Eucharist and the ministerial priesthood. On that same night, he said, "Jesus left us the new commandment, the commandment of fraternal love."
Before entering the Holy Triduum, every diocese celebrates the Chrism Mass, during which the bishop and priests renew their promises, the promises they made at ordination. During that Mass, oils are also blessed for the celebration of the sacraments: oil of catechumens, the oil of the sick and holy chrism.
The Holy Father said the Chrism Mass is very important in the life of every diocesan community, which gathers around its pastor’s fidelity to Christ. Following this moment, the Last Supper, recalls the time when "Christ is given to all of us as nourishment of salvation, as the immortal remedy. The mystery of the Eucharist is the source and summit of Christian life."
"In this sacrament of salvation the Lord gave for all those who believe in Him the most intimate possible union between our and his life."
In concrete gesture of washing the feet of the apostles, the Lord also expresses the primacy of love that is both a service and gift of oneself to another. At the same time, it anticipates the supreme sacrifice of his life on Calvary.
The Pope said that according to a beautiful Holy Thursday tradition, the faithful hold a vigil of prayer and adoration to experience more intimately the agony of Jesus in Gethsemane.
Holy Friday is that day that recalls the passion, crucifixion and death of Jesus when Christians gather to meditate on the great mystery of evil and sin that oppress humanity. With the Light of the Word of God and aided by moving liturgical gestures, the community meditates on the Passion event, and prays for all the needs of the Church and the world, venerates the Cross and receives the Eucharist, consuming species retained by the Mass of the Lord's Supper the day before.
Other expressions of piety, such as the way of the Cross, have developed across centuries and cultures to help the faithful recall the painful journey that led the Jesus to the Cross, a mount of love to the end.
Holy Saturday, Pope Benedict said, is marked by a profound silence. The Churches are bare and there are no special liturgies. The faithful, while awaiting the big event of the Resurrection, persevere with Mary in praying and meditating.
"We actually need a day of silence to meditate on the reality of human life, the forces of evil and great force for good stemming from the Passion and Resurrection of the Lord. Great importance is given on this day of participation in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, which is an essential way to purify the heart and prepare to celebrate Easter with renewed hearts. We need this inner purification of renewal at least once annually," Pope Benedict said.
Saturday's silence, meditation, forgiveness, and reconciliation leads into the Easter Vigil, which introduces the most important Sunday of history, the Sunday of Easter of Christ.
"With his death, Christ defeated evil forever and has given to all men of the very life of God."
According to ancient tradition, catechumens receive Baptism during the Easter Vigil to emphasize the participation of Christians in the mystery of the death and resurrection of Christ. From the bright night of Passover, the joy, the light and peace of Christ in the life span of the faithful of all Christian communities and reach every point of space and time.
In the end, the Holy Father encouraged all present to embrace the Triduum as an opportunity to realize more fully the depth and value of our Christian vocation, and to make generous gifts of ourselves.
In the current events of history, he added, dramatic events afflict so many of our brothers and sisters in every part of the world.
"We know that hatred, divisions, and violence never have the last word in the events of history. These days renew in us great hope: Christ crucified and risen won the world. Love is stronger than hatred…So we must start afresh from Christ and work in communion with him for a world based on peace, justice and on love. But…let us be guided by Mary, who has accompanied the Son of God on the path of the passion and of the cross and took part, with the strength of faith, in realizing of his plan of salvation."
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Mar 19, 2008 (CNA) - On Holy Thursday, the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, will wash the feet of twelve recovering drug addicts during the Mass of the Lord’s Supper.
“Each year, repeating the gesture done by Jesus at the Last Supper with the Apostles, our Archbishop teaches us what kind of attitude we should have as the Church towards the least protected of the People of God,” the archdiocese explained in a statement. “We are invited through our service to be lamps that bring the light of Christ to the world.”
Cardinal Bergoglio will celebrate Holy Thursday Mass at the parish of Our Lady of Lujan, immediately following an inauguration ceremony of the St. Alberto Hurtado Day Center, which will offer a rehabilitation program for drug addicts.
Rome, Italy, Mar 19, 2008 (CNA) - Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco of Genoa and president of the Italian Bishops’ Conference, said this week that work should bring “an ideal and moral result”. Without it, work becomes “prisoner of the logic of the marketplace” which does not put the human person at the center.
The cardinal made his remarks Monday during Mass on the feast of St. Joseph at the Cathedral of San Lorenzo.
“If, together with economic results for workers and their livelihood, work does not also carry an ideal and moral result, it loses a significant part of its efficaciousness for all,” the cardinal said, because “it only becomes prisoner of the logic of the marketplace, which does not put the person who works and lives in relationships with others at the center.”
“The Church is interested in the world of work because she can’t help but be interested in everything that has to do with the good of man and his life,” he said. In fact, “faith in eternal life does not diminish earthly responsibilities; on the contrary, it offers perspectives and ulterior motives for building a more just world,” Cardinal Bagnasco continued.
He went on to stress that work “is not only a means of sustenance,” it is also a way “to collaborate with others in building a better society, not only for obvious economic results for all but also, and above all, for the world of spiritual and moral values that each job demands.”
Work should be “the fruit of an ideal vision of life, the family, society, a way of creating well-being and the economy.”
Seoul, South Korea, Mar 19, 2008 (CNA) - The Church in Korea has launched a media offensive that includes a new television channel, a new internet publication and a revamped website for the episcopate, according to the Fides news agency.
The bishops’ new website can be found at http://www.cbck.or.kr and includes a vast array of documents and electronic books that can be downloaded. In addition, the bishops have launched a news service at http://hwahai.cbck.or.kr which will publish each month. The first edition features a column by Bishop Lucas Kim Woon-hoe, president of the Bishops’ Committee for Reconciliation, who explains that the new service “seeks to contribute to understanding and reunification of the Korean people, as well as to strengthen the role of the Church as an agent of peace.”
The Korean Church’s new TV channel, UTV, has also been launched, although right now it is only broadcasting over the internet.
The Archdiocese of Seoul has also formed a Commission for Social Communications under the leadership of Auxiliary Bishop Andrew Yeom Soo-jung. “The commission will help broadcasters and journalists in their relations with the Christian faith and in the proclamation of the Gospel,” reminding them of their task “to build a harmonious society and proclaim the truth,” he said.
Vatican City, Mar 19, 2008 (CNA) - Speaking in Italian at the end of this Wednesday’s General Audience, Pope Benedict XVI made an appeal to end violence in Tibet.
“I follow with great trepidation the news that in these days is coming from the Tibet. My fatherly heart feels sadness and pain before the suffering of so many people,” the Pontiff said.
“The mystery of Jesus’ passion and death, which we commemorate in this Holy Week, helps us to be particularly sensitive to their situation,” he added.
The Pope remarked that “problems are not resolved with violence, but worsened.”
He finally invited faithful around the world to “join me in prayer. Let us ask that God omnipotent may enlighten the minds of all and give every one the courage to choose the road of dialogue and tolerance.”
The Tibet was violently annexed by Communist China in 1951.
Tibet's government-in-exile says at least 80 people have died in the violence following protests that began March 10 on the anniversary of a failed 1959 uprising. Chinese officials say 16 people were killed.
The Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual and political leader, asked Tibetan activists to end their confrontational march to Tibet on Wednesday while exiles pressed ahead with peaceful protests in northern India and New Delhi.
Washington D.C., Mar 19, 2008 (CNA) - President and Mrs. George Bush will greet Pope Benedict XVI, April 15, when he arrives at Andrews Air Force Base for a six-day visit to the United States that will take him to Washington and New York City.
A news release from the USCCB states that the Pope is expected to arrive at four in the afternoon on an Alitalia flight dubbed “Shepherd One.” Accompanying him in the plane will be several Vatican officials and more that 60 members of the Vatican Press Corps.
Upon arrival Pope Benedict also will be greeted by several Church officials including Archbishop Pietro Sambi, Vatican nuncio to the United States; Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops; Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington and Archbishop Timothy Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services USA.
Several hundred guests will also be on hand. Among them there will be military families and young people from several Catholic high schools. Before the arrival, the United States Air Force Band will provide entertainment for the public.
When the Pope arrives, the color guard will offer its customary greeting for a head of state. The ceremony will be brief and without speeches. Formal greetings will be offered the next morning when Pope Benedict visits President Bush at the White House.
Other information regarding the itinerary of the Holy Father’s 2008 apostolic journey to the United States and the United Nations can be found at www.uspapalvisit.org.
Paris, France, Mar 19, 2008 (CNA) - France has announced plans to accept nearly 500 Iraqi Christian refugees, many of whom are Chaldean Catholics, the Associated Press reports.
Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner confirmed the plans in a joint television and radio interview on Wednesday, saying he hoped the Iraqis would be in France within weeks.
Kouchner said France would not refuse asylum to Muslims, but he said “no one” is taking in Iraqi Christians. Iraqi Christians have been targeted by Islamic extremists since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.
The foreign minister noted that Paris already has a community of Chaldeans. The Chaldean Catholic Church is in communion with Rome.
Cork City, Ireland, Mar 19, 2008 (CNA) - The Catholic Church in Ireland is planning a radical overhaul of its parish structures to ease pressure on its shrinking and ageing body of clergy, the Independent reports.
Bishops must cope with a vastly smaller number of vocations, a falling number of priests, and the ageing of available priests.
The reform aims to reduce the workload on clergy to allow them to focus on ministering the Eucharist, Confession, and Anointing of the Sick. It will enhance community and laity involvement in church operations.
In 2006 there were only 30 men studying for the priesthood in Ireland, compared to 176 male vocations in 1981. In 1995 there were 3,659 diocesan priests. Their numbers declined to 3,078 in 2006.
The Diocese of Cork and Ross, whose 68 parishes serve almost 250,000 Catholics, will be revised into 16 pastoral zones. Twenty-five percent of Cork’s 118 priests are already aged 65 or over, while more than half the priests with full-time appointments are over 55 years old.
Changes across the nation include staggered Mass times to allow priests to cover several parishes, greater involvement of the laity in non-sacramental Church functions and pastoral care, and dedicated administrators to ease bureaucratic burdens on parish priests.
John Buckley, Bishop of Cork and Ross, said the reforms were part of the Church’s constant adaptation to local cultures.
"The Church has always adapted to changing cultures, whether it is 5th Century Ireland, 16th Century South America or 20th Century Africa. The reality is that there is no culture that is impervious to the Gospel," Bishop Buckley said, according to the Independent.
"We are challenged to find new pathways for our pilgrim journey -- new ways of communicating the faith to young and old, new structures that will enable us to make Christ present in the home and in the marketplace."
Athens, Greece, Mar 19, 2008 (CNA) - Leaders in the Greek Orthodox Church have denounced the government’s plan to introduce a civil partnerships law, saying it effectively sanctioned prostitution. The denunciation comes even though the new head of the church has signaled he would not oppose the bill, Religious Intelligence reports.
The 13 bishops of the Greek Orthodox Church’s standing committee said on March 17 that the bill was unacceptable. “The Church accepts and blesses the established wedding, according to Orthodox traditions, and considers any other type of similar relationship to be prostitution,” the committee said.
On March 13 Justice Minister Sotiris Hatzigakis briefed Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All-Greece on the government plan to allow unmarried couples to register their unions with civil notaries, making their relationship equal to marriage in the eyes of the state.
After his meeting with the justice minister, Archbishop Ieronymos affirmed the Church’s fidelity to the Bible, the rules of the Church, the ecumenical synods, and the “holy tradition.”
“As a result, there are clear limits and in respect to this matter, the Church does not have the right to ask for it to be watered down or to have any other request granted,” the archbishop said, according to the Athens newspaper Kathimerini. Archbishop Ieronymos said the “Church cannot keep a check” on cohabitation and fornication through “enforcing measures like the police.”
Bishop Anthimos of Thessaloniki was asked to explain the difference of opinion between the Church’s standing committee and the archbishop. He said Archbishop Ieronymos’ comments were the “opinion of one person, this is the opinion of 13.”
Bishop Anthimos was considered a candidate for the archbishopric of Athens before Archbishop Ieronymos was elected to the office on February 7. The Greek Orthodox Church claims about 90 percent of Greeks as members.
Moscow, Russia, Mar 19, 2008 (CNA) - Disappointment and questions have followed the cancellation of a meeting between Moscow’s new Catholic bishop and the Patriarch of Moscow, AsiaNews reports.
Archbishop Paolo Pezzi, the new archbishop of the Moscow-based Archdiocese of the Mother of God at Moscow, on Wednesday was to meet with Alexy II, the patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church. The patriarchate itself announced the postponement of the meeting.
Catholic leaders did not provide any explanation for the meeting’s postponement.
"We had great hope in this meeting", a priest in Moscow told AsiaNews. "We hoped that it might be not simply a courtesy visit, but the chance for a fraternal and constructive discussion of the problems that concern our faithful."
Meeting plans included requesting support from the patriarch in acquiring visas for foreign religious and requesting the inclusion of the Catholic Church in the interreligious council of Russia. It was hoped that the meeting would clarify some Orthodox bishops’ positions about the abolition of the Catholic dioceses in Russia. Collaboration on social and charitable projects was also planned to be discussed.
Archbishop Pezzi’s decision not to be in Moscow for Easter has also provoked questions.
The archbishop decided to celebrate the feast in Kalingrad, the westernmost diocese of the country. Some of the faithful say this Easter would be the first time since 1991 that the bishop has not been present in his diocese for the feast day. The apostolic nuncio Archbishop Mennini will reportedly take his place.
La Paz, Bolivia, Mar 19, 2008 (CNA) - Archbishop Tito Solari of Cochabamba in Bolivia has called on young people to change the country, reminding them that the challenge of Holy Week is to achieve reconciliation in Bolivia.
During Palm Sunday Mass, the archbishop pointed out that young people are not plagued by resentment and vengeance and therefore he exhorted them to eradicate hatred, division and indifference from Bolivia, and he called on leaders to bring peace to the country through sincere dialogue.
He also denounced the crime of lynching that has become more common in the country, calling them “crimes against life. “It also pains us to see many children on the streets and to see them suffering because their parents are away,” he said.
Archbishop Solari also lamented “the great division that exists among us for political and ideological reasons, for personal interest and other evils such as moral decadence.” He called on Bolivians to put all of this “before the altar in prayer to God.”