Progress on new English translation of the Missal
Comments on draft invited from bishops' conferences
Bishops in English-speaking countries have been sent copies of a draft translation of the main prayers used at Mass. The present English draft of the Order of the Mass was approved by the episcopal board of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) in January.
The Vatican instruction on translation of 2001, Liturgiam Authenticam, had called for translations that were both theologically accurate and fitting for proclamation.
Copies of the draft were sent out on 13 February to all the world's English-speaking bishops' conferences which have been asked to submit their comments by 15 May so that ICEL can consider any revisions at its July meeting.
Shortcomings noted in the currently-used Mass translation have included its failure to express man's need for grace to do the good, the emptying out of religious terms such as soul and spirit, the lessening of the significance of the Mass as a sacrifice and the loss of sacral language which stresses God as a gracious Creator in relation to man as a supplicant creature.
According to Bishop John McAreavy of Dromore, Ireland, Rome is anxious for the project to be completed within the next 12 months. Bishop McAreavy, who is the episcopal secretary of ICEL, citing the phrase lex orandi, lex credendi (the law of belief is the law of prayer), told The Irish Catholic that the issues at stake were "the integrity of the faith and the unity of the Church."
Pope's new Apostolic Letter
40th anniversary of Vatican II liturgy document
The text of Pope John Paul II's latest Apostolic Letter has recently become available in an English translation. It was first published on 4 December 2003, the 40th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council's Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium. The Apostolic Letter on the Liturgy is titled Spiritus et Sponsa (The Spirit and the Bride.
In his document, which reviews the teachings of Vatican II and their impact, the Pope describes the Liturgy Constitution as "the first fruit of the Second Vatican Council" and the commemoration of the event as "a good opportunity to rediscover the basic themes of the liturgical renewal the Council Fathers desired." He cites their words that every liturgical action "is a sacred action surpassing all others".
The Pope notes the Constitution's emphasis on the importance of sacred music with its objectives being "the glory of God and the sanctification of the faithful."
In reviewing the impact of Vatican II's liturgical teachings in the light of widespread secularisation, he calls on "pastors" to "foster a sense of mystery", "dignified celebrations" and "the experience of silence".
John Paul II warns that "a lack of respect for the liturgical norms can sometimes even lead to grave forms of abuse that obscure the truth of the mystery and give rise to dismay and stress in the People of God." This should be "prudently and firmly corrected."
Archbishop Hickey presents papal teachings
Special archdiocesan publication for Year 12 students
During a Mass at Mater Dei College in Edgewater, Perth, on 4 February, Archbishop Barry Hickey and auxiliary Bishop Don Sproxton continued their program of introducing students in Catholic schools to the words of Pope John Paul II.
This was the first presentation for 2004 to Year 12 students of the book Pope John Paul II Speaks to Youth, published by Archbishop Hickey and exclusive to students in the Perth Archdiocese.
The book consists of the essence of the Pope's many addresses to young people around the world, grouped under headings such as vocation, freedom, love, peace and service.
The Archbishop and Bishop Sproxton expect to be involved in all the presentations, at least in the metropolitan area of Perth.
Speaking to a large gathering of staff, students from all year levels, and parents, Archbishop Hickey formally commissioned the 16 members of the Student Executive Council and gave them books for the 172 Year 12 students. He told them the book had been prepared to give Year 12 students insights into the mind of the Pope and his love of Jesus.
'The Record' (Perth)
Addressing the problem of infertility
John Paul II speaks to Pontifical Academy for Life
In an audience on 21 February with the members of the Pontifical Academy for Life, Pope John Paul II encouraged research aimed at the discovery of ethical ways to address the problem of infertility.
With the Pontifical Academy gathered in Rome for its 10th annual plenary meeting, the Holy Father said that the theme of this year's discussions - the question of artificially-assisted human reproduction - "is rife with problems and implications that warrant careful study." He added that the moral questions under discussion by the Academy involve "principles not only for faithful Christians but for all of mankind."
By addressing the root causes of infertility, the Pope continued, medical science could relieve enormous suffering for some couples. But the goal of research must be "true prevention and authentic therapy" for infertility, rather than any artificial means of achieving reproduction.
The link between marital love and human reproduction must be carefully maintained, he argued, so that children know they are the product of "a complete mutual gift of self" in which mothers and fathers become partners with the Creator to produce new human life. He exhorted scientists and medical personnel to "resist technology that substitutes for real motherhood and fatherhood."
Catholic World News
National Family Gathering for Sydney
Prominent speakers to address family issues
The Sydney Archdiocese is to host the second National Family Gathering from 16-18 April 2004. Among the keynote speakers will be Cardinal George Pell, Bishop Eugene Hurley of Port Pirie, Bishop Anthony Fisher OP and Christopher West. Mike Willesee will be MC.
The wide range of speakers involved in seminars and workshops addressing family issues will include Fr John Fleming, Dr Michael Casey, Melinda Tankard Reist, Marcia Riordan, Stephen Lawrence and Kevin and Margaret Andrews.
Registrations for the conference - as well as inquiries - can be made at "Living the Dream", National Catholic Family Gathering, Polding Centre, 133 Liverpool Street, Sydney NSW 2000, tel (02) 9349 1834, Web www.familygathering.com.au and email
Calls for reduction in Christian content
Arguments have resurfaced over whether school children should be instructed in Christian values. In February the British media published details of a report by the Institute for Public Policy Research that recommends drastic changes to religious education in schools.
The report entitled What is Religious Education For? is being studied by government ministers who will decide on the first national curriculum guidelines on the matter. Though not a government body, the institute has a close relationship with Britain's ruling Labour Party.
The report proposes renaming religious education spiritual education and allowing a lot less Christian content. Children would be better off, argues the report, learning less about the Ten Commandments and Jesus, and more about agnosticism, humanism, cults and even atheism.
"From the age of five, children should learn that there are people who do not believe in God, the afterlife or the power of prayer or that the Universe was created," the report says. It also recommends that children should be taught from early on that there are alternatives to marriage. Moreover, children with strong religious beliefs should be encouraged to question those beliefs.
The report's recommendations drew immediate criticism. A London Daily Telegraph editorial noted an anti-Christian and authoritarian mentality behind the report: "It reflects the belief that parents who pass on the Christian faith are guilty of indoctrinating their children, and that it is the role of the state to stop them."
In an opinion article for The Times, a self-proclaimed atheist, Mick Hume, stated: "If there is to be RE in state schools, I would prefer my children to be taught full-on Christianity than offered a vapid pick-and-mix of multicultural spirituality."
Zenit News Service
Pope meets French bishops
Calls for stronger catechetical formation
On 20 February, Pope John Paul II received French bishops from the province of Paris and from the military ordinariate as they ended their five-yearly ad limina visit.
Noting that catechesis among children was decreasing, but was on the increase among young people, he said, "It is important to offer both children and youth a quality education, giving them clear and solid elements of the faith which lead to an intense spiritual life."
Faith, he said, must be profound, transmitted in solid teachings, faithful to the Magisterium and above all, it must be lived daily, especially in our relationships with others. "Pastors and catechists," said the Holy Father, "must remember that children and young people are especially sensitive to coherence between a person's word and concrete life. Indeed, how can young people become aware of the need for participation in the Sunday Eucharist or the practice of the sacrament of penance if their parents or teachers do not themselves live such a religious and ecclesial life?
He concluded by referring to "the catechetical and evangelising nature of liturgy, which must be understood as a path to holiness, the inner strength of the apostolic dynamism and missionary nature of the Church ... Pastors must take ever greater care, with the collaboration of the laity, in the preparation of Sunday liturgy, paying special attention to the rite and beauty of the celebration ... In their homilies, priests must take care to teach the faithful about the doctrinal and scriptural foundations of the faith."
Vatican Information Service
Rockhampton Diocese update
Commission for Environmental Awareness document
A recent document from the Catholic Diocese of Rockhampton's Commission for Environmental Awareness contains a number of suggestions as to how Catholics can enhance their environmental attitudes.
The following are some of the activities recommended for the month of February:
* Rejoice that we carry the sun in our bodies - our energy is sun energy;
* Lie on the earth and listen to its heart beat;
* Write a love letter to the Earth;
* Make your yard frog friendly;
* Play in the water.
For March, there were further suggestions for environmentally aware Catholics:
* Grieve the loss of clean water, air and fertile soil;
* Hug a tree, feel its sap rising;
* Dance in the wind;
* Feel the energy contained in the wind and sun;
* Reflect on the feminine within you - we all carry the feminine within us;
* Clean up Mother Earth's lungs;
* Be conscious of the greenhouse gases you are generating and your consumption of fossil fuels.
These and many other suggestions in the Commission's document - if carried out - should guarantee that Rockhampton will become the Greenest diocese in Australia.