The Church Around the World

The Church Around the World

Archbishop Chaput defends status of marriage

Alternative arrangements will not work

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Denver stated on 1 March that preserving the status of traditional marriage as a union between a man and a woman is "a matter of cultural survival." In a column published in the Denver Rocky Mountain News, Archbishop Chaput affirmed that "if the last few decades have shown us anything, it's this: When 'traditional' marriages dissolve, the children of these marriages suffer."

The Archbishop continued: "The 'tradition' in traditional marriage, after all, is not some dead habit of the past. It's the voice of learned and re-learned experience. Alternative arrangements don't work." He then pointed to the important duty of the Church to support "legal efforts to define marriage as a unique relationship between one man and one woman; to protect and advance marriage's privileged status in society; and to exclude other types of relationships from sharing in that status."

The answer of today's culture to the pressures that married couples face must not "focus on easing those pressures and reinforcing our support for marriage, not redefining it or establishing parallel structures which erode marriage by sapping its special status."

Indian Archbishop targets theological dissent

Response to Holy See's 'Church in Asia' document

Archbishop Ivan Dias of Bombay told 140 bishops meeting in southern India last January: "We should ensure that the liberty of research and expression of thought enoyed by our theologians do not degenerate into licentiousness."

Speaking on the implications of the papal exhortation Ecclesia in Asia (Church in Asia), Archbishop Dias said he regretted the alleged reluctance of some theoligians to accept papal "pronouncements" about Christ's uniqueness and the "universality of his salvation."

Reminding the bishops about the need to preserve the faith that the Apostles, Saints Thomas and Bartholomew, introduced in the country, he urged them to "spare the Indian Church from theological disarray and confusion."

He expressed his desire for the bishops to become "more outspoken" and to scrutinise theological publications to ensure that the "parameters" theologians use to forge theories are faithful to the Church's teachings.

Archbishop Dias voiced concern over some theologians' efforts to equate Christ with the founders of other religious, as was revealed in a recent apostolic visitation of the country's seminaries. This 30-month visitation that ended last December also found that some seminaries of religious congregations taught theories that denied Church dogmas and discounted proclaiming Christ's Gospel.

New Archbishops for Westminster, Birmingham

Pope makes key UK appointments in February

John Paul II has named Bishop Cormac Murphy-O'Connor new Archbishop of Westminster and Bishop Vincent Nichols, Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster since 1992, as the new Archbishop of Birmingham.

The Archdiocese of Westminster has been vacant since the death of Cardinal Basil Hume on 17 June 1999. Archbishop Murphy-O'Connor, 69, was formerly Bishop of Arundel and Brighton, and began training for the priesthood in 1950 at the English College in Rome, which houses seminarians from England and Wales. While at the College, he earned Master's degrees in philosophy and theology at the Gregorian University. He was ordained priest in Rome on 28 October 1956.

The new Archbishop of Westminster has two things in common with Cardinal Hume, his predecessor. Like the latter, he is an expert in the Catholic-Anglican dialogue. For many years he has been co- Chairman of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission. Last year the Commission approved a historic document in which Anglicans acknowledge the singular character of the Pope's authority over the universal Church, The Gift of Authority.

The Archdiocese of Birmingham had been vacant since Archbishop Couve de Murville's retirement in June, 1999. Its new Archbishop, Vincent Nichols, was born in Crosby, Liverpool, on 8 November 1945 and studied for the priesthood at the English College in Rome between 1963 and 1970, gaining Master's degrees in philosophy and theology at the Gregorian University. He was ordained priest in Rome on 21 December 1969 for the Archdiocese of Liverpool.

'Woman and Man' implementation

Five women consultants named to committee

Five women consultants will join six bishops on a committee overseeing the implementation of recommendations on women's partici- pation in the Church in Australia.

Bishop Michael Putney of Brisbane, who chairs the Implementation Committee, announced the following appointments last February: Mrs Liz Hanney (Pastoral Co-ordinator for the Sale Diocese), Mrs Catherine Harris (former Director of the Affirmative Action Agency), Mrs Elsie Heiss (member of Aboriginal Catholic Ministry, Sydney), Mrs Teresa Lynch (Co- ordinator of Pastoral Associates in the Port Pirie Diocese) and Sister Sonia Wagner SGS (Superior of the Good Samaritan Sisters).

The Implementation Committee's immediate task is to study recommendations made to the Bishops' Conference from Woman and Man: One in Christ Jesus and report to the Plenary Meeting of the Conference in May.

Russian Patriarch criticises Catholic Church

Proselytism a cause of friction

The Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church said in an interview with a Greek magazine published last February that the Catholic Church is hurting efforts at healing the 1,000- year rift between East and West by failing to condemn proselytism in former Communist nations.

Patriarch Aleksei II told Religions Info magazine that the Vatican had reneged on a promise to reduce support for Eastern-rite churches - which have liturgies and traditions similar to Orthodox churches - that aggressively seek out members in the former Eastern Bloc where Orthodox are in the majority. "This entire situation has blackened our relations with the Roman Catholic Church," he said. "Religions must come into contact with each other, but not fight for occupation and dominance."

As the leader of the largest Orthodox Church, Patriarch Aleksei would be instrumental in any ecumenical efforts to heal the Great Schism of 1054, but he has been the most reluctant Orthodox leader in pursuing dialogue.

The patriarch also challenged the centuries-old structure that declares the Patriarch of Constantinople as the Ecumenical Patriarch, the "first among equals" of the 16 Orthodox churches. He said there is not a "theological problem" with the theory of making Russia a second pole of leadership.

Catholic World News

Benedictine nuns on the Internet

London's Tyburn Convent meets spiritual needs of thousands worldwide

Though they pray continuously in shifts throughout the day and night, the 19 nuns at the Tyburn Convent in central London have discovered that e-mails can be the answers to other people's prayers. Their website ( is attracting thousands of pleas worldwide for prayers on behalf of sick and needy relatives and friends.

Mother John Baptist, who said that requests for prayers had come from as far away as Australia, Papua New Guinea and the Philippines, explained: "We've been amazed at how we've become known. We get requests from wives about their husbands and from grandparents about their grandchildren and many heart-breaking anguished people contact us asking us to pray for them.

"We print out the e-mails every day and put them up on the prayer wall so that the sisters can read them as they go to pray. We also get e-mails from people letting us know that their prayers have been answered."

Tyburn first took to the Internet a year ago and the nuns have been overwhelmed with the response to their interactive website. An invitation to ask for a prayer is just one of many features on the site which includes a virtual tour of the convent and a wealth of history about the place.

Although there are no computers in the convent itself, the nuns can send and receive e-mails via a BT Easicom machine. This small device enables one to e-mail without opening a computer.

'International Express' (London)

National Family Gathering in Melbourne

Archbishop Chaput keynote speaker

One of the most inspiring figures in the Catholic Church in the English-speaking world today, Most Rev Charles Chaput OFM, Archbishop of Denver, Colorado, will be in Australia between 28-30 April.

He will be keynote speaker at "Dare to Dream," the family conference sponsored by Australia's Catholic bishops, on Saturday, 29 April, and will also speak later that day on "Pope John Paul II's Call to Youth" at a rally for youth, which will be part of the conference.

The gathering will be addressed by a wide range of other speakers, of differing viewpoints. Among those well known to AD2000 readers will be Kevin Andrews MP, Nicholas Tonti-Filippini, Paul Gray, Msgr Peter Elliott and Rev Dr Anthony Fisher OP.

Registration for the weekend gathering, which includes all sessions, is $98 for families, $80 for couples, $50 for adults and $30 for young people. Registration forms are available from the Conference Secretariat, PO Box 146, East Melbourne, Vic 3002, tel (03) 9926 5678. "Dare to Dream" forms are also available in Catholic parishes. Applications close on 19 April.

Polish parliament seeks pornography ban

May be vetoed by ex-Communist President

Poland's parliament on 3 March passed a new law banning the import, distribution, or sale of pornography in the country, but ex-Communist President Aleksander Kwasniewski is expected to veto it.

The bill passed the parliament's lower house, the Sejm, 210-197 with 19 abstaining. Supported by the governing Solidarity party, the measure was opposed by left-wingers, including Kwasniewski's party, and the Freedom Union, Solidarity's junior coalition partner.

The measure would address the explosion in the pornography and sex industries since the fall of Communism in 1989 by imposing fines and prison terms for up to two years on violators. Child pornography could entail five-year prison terms.

Catholic World News

Church leaders condemn 'gay' Mardi Gras

Justice Kirby speaks at Catholic college in defence of active homosexuality

The leaders of Sydney's Catholic and Anglican churches condemned the city's annual Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, which took place on 5 March.

Cardinal Edward Clancy wrote in The Catholic Weekly that the festival should be boycotted by Catholics. "The Church ... teaches that homosexual practices are contrary to the moral law. Homosexual people are required to exercise self-discipline and to avoid such conduct." He added, "The annual Gay Mardi Gras is an exercise in gross exhibitionism that promotes a homosexual lifestyle and does not merit our presence or our support."

Anglican Archbishop Harry Goodhew expressed his agreement with Cardinal Clancy: "In highly erotic display it promotes a homosexual lifestyle and is certainly not deserving of the presence or support of citizens of this city." He called on Christians, politicians, and community leaders who support the Mardi Gras to reflect on the values and lifestyle they were endorsing to Australian children.

Shortly afterwards, in an apparent response to these condemnations, Australian High Court Justice, Michael Kirby, a self-proclaimed practising homosexual, addressed students at the Jesuit-run St Ignatius College, Riverview, telling them that "gays and lesbians exist, as they always have, in every walk of life," and it was "totally unrealistic" to expect them to remain chaste.

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