Benedict XVI on Europe's Christian roots
Speaking before the Angelus prayer on 24 July to a group of some 8,000 pilgrims in Les Combes, in Italy's Valle d'Aosta, where he was vacationing, Benedict XVI recalled Europe's deeply Christian roots and challenged the continent to return to them.
He noted the day's feast was that of the Apostle James, "whose relics are venerated in the famous shrine of Santiago de Compostela in Spain, the destination of countless pilgrims from all over Europe." He also recalled the recent feast day of St Bridget of Sweden, patroness of Europe, and the 11 July feast of St Benedict, whom he called "another great patron of the 'old continent'." It was, he said, "natural to pause and reflect on the contribution that Christianity has made, and continues to make, to the building of Europe."
Benedict then turned to the pilgrimage made by Pope John Paul II in 1982 to Santiago de Compostela, "where he performed a solemn 'European act' during which he pronounced these memorable words: 'I, bishop of Rome and pastor of the Universal Church, from Santiago, address to you, old Europe, a cry full of love: Return to yourself! Be yourself! Discover your origins. Revive your roots. Experience again those authentic values that made your history glorious and your presence in other continents beneficial'."
Benedict added: "He returned to this theme on the occasion of World Youth Day 1989 held at Santiago de Compostela, expressing his hope for a Europe without frontiers, a Europe that does not deny the Christian roots from which it grew and that does not renounce the true humanism of Christ's Gospel. How appropriate this call remains today in the light of recent events on the European continent."
Catholic News Agency
Sydney's grant for adult stem cell research
The Sydney Archdiocese announced in July that a grant of $100,000 was being made available to further research into adult stem cells. It was the second such grant.
In 2002, Cardinal Pell had announced that a $50,000 grant was to be made available to a research team at Griffith University led by Professor Alan Mackay-Sim, whose team was conducting research into the development of therapies to utilise stem cells extracted from patients' nasal lining to replace those lost to disease.
Applications for this new research grant were invited from Australian-based researchers, with both new and existing projects eligible.
Cardinal Pell explained: "The breakthroughs in adult stem cell research are exciting and impressive. The achievements to date in this area far surpass anything that has been attained in the area of embryonic stem cell research. The Catholic Church always supports good science working from a good ethical foundation, and the Archdiocese of Sydney is delighted to be able to collaborate with researchers making inroads in this vitally important area."
The grant will be awarded on the recommendation of an independent assessment panel, whose members include experts on science and ethics, according to a number of criteria. Receipt of the grant is conditional on the securing of matching funds from other sources.
Chinese seminary staff at papal audience
Pope Benedict XVI welcomed 28 seminary instructors from China to his public audience on 3 August. Their presence, and the Pope's hearty welcome, was a fresh indication of Vatican efforts to improve ties with Beijing. Since Pope Benedict's election in April, there have been repeated signs of Vatican efforts to expand the freedom of the Church in China - alternating, in a confusing pattern, with fresh indications of the Chinese Government's hostility towards the "underground" Catholic Church.
The seminary instructors were on a visit to Rome after a week of training at a seminary in Germany. According to the AsiaNews service, the priests were affiliated with the "official" Church, approved by the government. AsiaNews reported that the "official" seminaries in China have 1,000 students training for the priesthood, while the "underground" Church has about 800 seminarians.
"I greet with particular affection the group of priests from China," Benedict said, as he acknowledged different groups attending the Wednesday audience. The Chinese clerics, who were seated at the front of the crowd, responded by standing and singing a hymn. The papal audience was held at the Vatican, with Benedict travelling by helicopter from his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo to speak to about 6,000 people.
Catholic News Agency
Catholic students need to challenge secular culture
Over 200 students from across Australia attended the Australian Catholic Students Association (ACSA) Annual National Conference held at St John's College, University of Sydney, from 15-17 July 2005.
The Conference theme, "Be Not Afraid", challenged students to help create a Catholic culture on the secular tertiary campuses. Speakers contributing to this debate included Fr John Fleming, President of Campion College and Director of the Southern Cross Bioethics Institute, Dr Tracey Rowland, Dean of the John Paul II Institute, and Dr David Daintree, Rector of St John's College.
Fr Fleming, speaking at the academic dinner attended by Cardinal George Pell, challenged students to see a greater connection between faith and reason, shedding light on the relevance of the Church's teachings to their particular field of studies.
Sydney's Auxiliary Bishop, Anthony Fisher, called on students to seek wisdom and congratulated the students on their dedication to the work of ACSA.
The National President, Daniel Hill, said, "The mission of ACSA is to support and encourage Catholic students in the spiritual, intellectual, pastoral, and human development of their faith, in seeking to build a Catholic culture to bear witness to the truth, in both word and action.
"The ACSA absolutely supports the teachings of the Holy Catholic Church, and expresses its fidelity to the Magisterium and the Holy Father, through active participation in the life and the mission of the Church in the work of the new evangelisation. It also joyfully and enthusiastically promotes and propagates the social teaching of the Church."