New Vatican Yearbook
Large increase in seminarians under John Paul II
The number of seminarians worldwide has grown by 73 percent during Pope John Paul II's pontificate, with the greatest increase in Africa and Asia, according to the latest Vatican Yearbook or "Annuario", which was presented to the Pope in February.
The Yearbook lists cardinals, bishops, dioceses, Vatican agencies and religious orders and its statistics date to 2000. These show that the number of priests in the world increased over the previous year by 189, to more than 405,000, reflecting an overall increase of nearly 800 diocesan priests and a decrease of 600 religious priests.
The Vatican said the number of seminarians had increased from about 64,000 in 1978 to more than 110,500 in 2000, a rise of 73.1 percent. The greatest increase came in Africa, where the number of seminarians more than tripled; Asia followed with an increase of 125 percent; the Americas showed an increase of 65 percent; and Europe's increase was 12 percent.
The global Catholic population grew in 2000 to 1.05 billion, equivalent to 17.3 percent of the world's population. Almost half the Catholic population - 49.4 percent - now lives in the Americas, while 26.7 percent lives in Europe, 12.4 percent in Africa, 10.7 percent in Asia and 0.8 percent in Oceania.
There are now nearly 4,500 bishops, nearly 28,000 permanent deacons, more than 55,000 religious brothers, more than 801,000 women religious, nearly 31,000 members of secular orders, more than 126,000 lay missionaries and 2.6 million catechists.
The yearbook reports the Vatican now holds diplomatic relations with 174 countries.
Armidale Diocese "Faith and Practice" program
Evaluation of first phase completed
The first phase of the Armidale Diocese's Faith and Practice program (see AD2000, May 2001, p. 5) was completed in November 2001. The program is closely based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church with the first phase dealing with prayer.
An evaluation process has since taken place, with forms sent to all parish priests, religious houses and religious education co-ordinators in the Diocese. The overall return rate was 73 per cent, with the results collated into a report for Bishop Luc Matthys which was published in the diocesan paper, Catholic Viewpoint on 17 February.
Bishop Matthys had earlier met with his Faith and Practice task group which found the program had been "well received overall" and involved a high level of participation. It was decided to make an earlier start to Part Two of the program on "The Creed" on 9 June 2002.
The special set of readings used at Masses to complement the Catechism had proved very successful and "provided excellent opportunities to develop wonderful Masses for children in Catholic schools."
While some concern was expressed about the program's impact on non-practising Catholics, Bishop Matthys pointed out that "the first object of the program was for regulars to renew and re-found their own faith, so as to be confident witnesses to the treasures of the Catholic Faith."
It was thought that "the multi- levelled and multi-faceted nature of the program seemed to be one of its greatest advantages, along with the systematic nature of the presentation of the Faith and practice of the Church."
Theologians and the Magisterium
John Paul II addresses Pontifical Academy of Theology
During a meeting with 42 academics at the Pontifical Academy of Theology last February, Pope John Paul II highlighted the key principle that directs the relation between theologians and the Christian community: "When it is a question of communion in the faith, the principle of unity in truth imposes itself; when it is a question of differences of opinions, the principle of unity in charity is applicable."
The theme of the forum was "Jesus Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life: For a Re-reading of Dominus Iesus."
The Pope pointed out that "the free research of the theologian is exercised, in fact, within the faith and the communion of the Church" and that "by having an increasingly profound understanding of revealed truth, theological science becomes a service to the entire People of God, sustains its hope and reinforces its communion."
He continued: "Adherence to Christ-Truth, manifested by theologians in obedience to the magisterium of the Church, is a powerful force that unifies and edifies." The function of the magisterium is to place itself "at the service of the Word of truth, to protect it from deviations and deformations, always guaranteeing the People of God to live in history guided and sustained by Christ-Truth."
Zenit News Service
Chinese Catholics "more united than ever"
Cardinal Thuan comments on the state of the Church in China
Cardinal Francois Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan, the President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, said that Chinese Catholics, both in the state-approved Church and the Rome-recognised Church, are more united than ever.
About 11 million Catholics live in China, more than half of them in the underground Church loyal to Rome.
At a press conference held in the apostolic nunciature in Madrid last February, Cardinal Thuan said that Catholics who form part of the state-controlled Patriotic Catholic Association in China pray every day for the Pope in their episcopal sees and in the seminaries. The problem for the Catholic Church, he said, is that "religions are considered as an opposition to the existing regime."
He also expressed his concern over the crisis in vocations and indifference evident in Western Europe. Yet, he said he perceives the action of the Holy Spirit in that situation, who is inspiring new ecclesial movements, in which the Pope sees the future of the Church.
The Cardinal, who as a bishop spent 13 years in detention under the Communists in Vietnam, said that the situation in his country had improved over the past decade. He acknowledged that the Government continues to impose limitations on students entering the seminaries. Yet, there are some 700 seminarians in Vietnam.
Zenit News Service
Church plan controversy in Broken Bay Diocese
Parishioners' opposition to multi-million dollar radical design
According to a report in the NSW Central Coast Express Advocate (27 February) a planned $1.5 million church at Warnervale in the Broken Bay Diocese is creating a storm in the community after being branded "un-Catholic", "frivolous" and "unspiritual".
There are suggestions that opposition among parishioners could lead to some congregations opposing financial support for the building, part of a $20 million project which will eventually incorporate primary and secondary schools on an eight hectare site.
Letters have been sent to senior church leaders and a petition against the new design was set to be circulated on the issue.
The crisis flared when debate became heated at a church meeting to discuss the Warnervale project on 19 February at which speakers included Melbourne-based liturgical consultant, Sister Jill O'Brien.
At the centre of the row is a multi-purpose church design which relegates the tabernacle to a secondary room (known colloquially as the crying room), includes toilets in the consecrated church building which does not include a crucifix, holy water fonts beside entrances and exits or the stations of the cross.
The design also suggests use of stackable chairs rather than pews with kneelers.
Diocese of Broken Bay spokeswoman Jane Favatto said Bishop Walker did not think it necessary to make a public comment at this stage but was "aware of the issues raised" and would "address them through the usual channels".
Pope recommends wider use of Latin
40th anniversary of John XXIII's 'Veterum Sapientia'
Pope John Paul II has recommended the use of Latin in the Roman liturgy and in seminary training.
In a message to a conference being held at the Salesian University in Rome, the Holy Father emphasised that Latin remains the official language of the Catholic Church, and expressed his desire that "the love of that language would grow ever strong among candidates for the priesthood." The Pope's message itself was written in Latin, and read by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Vatican Secretary of State.
The conference to which the Pope addressed this message was commemorating the 40th anniversary of Veterum Sapientia, the apostolic constitution in which Pope John XXIII wrote of the importance of Latin as an important part of "the patrimony of human civilisation."
Pope John Paul underlined the same message, pointing out that the use of Latin "is an indispensable condition for a proper relationship between modernity and antiquity, for dialogue among different cultures, and for reaffirming the identity of the Catholic priesthood."
Catholic World News
New courses on the Faith in Melbourne
"Equipping Catholic youth for their role in new evangelisation"
A new series of lectures on the Catholic Faith has been launched in Melbourne under the title of "The Faith and Reason Studium". Since 20 February, courses have been offered at the Cardinal Knox Centre in East Melbourne on such topics as "What we believe: the Faith of the Catholic Church," "An Introduction to the Gospels," "Faith and Reason" and "Catholicism: our spiritual and cultural patrimony."
Lecturers involved in the courses include Fr Glen Tattersall FSSP, Fr Ian Falconer SJ, Fr John Fongemie FSSP, Fr John Walshe and Br Christian Moe FSC. There are no course fees - although donations are welcome.
The Director of the Faith and Reason Studium, Alex Sidhu, can be contacted for information about the courses: (03) 9882-1120 or 0410 646 193.