Bishop Manning: need to promote priestly vocations
Bishop Kevin Manning of Parramatta responded in March to earlier media comment on "the issue of Catholic priests marrying". He took the opportunity to call for a stronger promotion of priestly vocations:
"I have to ask: do Catholics really want more vocations; do they pray insistently for vocations; how ready are Catholic families to encourage their children to enter the priesthood or religious life; is inherent selfishness, which regulates the number of children in the family and seeks the 'good life' the principal goal of families?
"The matter of encouragement is important. How many people, including priests who advocate the ordination of married men, personally encourage candidates for the priesthood, or ask them: 'Have you ever thought of becoming a priest?' And how many priests ponder the bad example they give young men by their constant criticism of the Church? ...
"I hope that during this Year of the Eucharist, with its close relationship to the priesthood, our parishes will pray and petition Christ to remedy the situation. But, it always comes back to the priest. If he is living the sacrificial life, which Christ called him to, his example will attract young men to the priesthood.
"As an addendum to the debate, I mention the comment of Rev Fr Peter Rushton, one of the first Anglican priests to be ordained to the Catholic priesthood. Questioned towards the end of his life by a journalist: 'Wouldn't it be wonderful if all of our priests were able to marry like you,' he said: 'No, it wouldn't, for marriage brings a tension into the life of a priest which many people don't realise. I have to ask myself repeatedly: where lies my primary responsibility - to my vocation as a married man or to my vocation to the priesthood. This is no easy matter to resolve. Secondly, married priesthood wouldn't work with the Catholic Church, for the Catholic people are too demanding of their priest, they wouldn't respect fully his vocation also to the married life."
'Catholic Outlook' (Parramatta)
Has St Paul's tomb been found?
A sarcophagus which may contain the remains of St Paul was identified in the basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls, reports Giorgio Filippi, an archeology specialist with the Vatican Museum. The sarcophagus was discovered during excavations carried out in 2002 and 2003 around the basilica, which is located in the south of Rome.
Having reached what they believe is a positive identification of the tomb, Vatican experts will soon make a public announcement of their discovery. "The tomb that we discovered is the one that the popes and the Emperor Theodosius (379-395) saved and presented to the whole world as being the tomb of the apostle," Filippi reports.
The discovery was made by a team composed of experts from the Vatican Museum. The excavation effort was guided by 19th-century plans for the basilica, which was largely rebuilt after a devastating fire in 1823.
An initial survey enabled archeologists to reconstruct the shape of the original basilica, built early in the 4th century. A second excavation, under the main altar of the basilica, brought the Vatican team to the sarcophagus, which was located on what would have been ground level for the original 4th-century building.
Under the altar a marble plaque was still visible, dating back to the 4th century, and bearing the inscription: "Apostle Paul, martyr." Filippi remarks that, surprisingly, "Nobody ever thought to look behind that plaque." When the Vatican team looked, they found the sarcophagus.
There is no doubt, says Giorgio Filippi, that St Paul was buried on the site, "because this basilica was the object of pilgrimages by emperors; people from all around the world came to venerate him, having faith that he was present in this basilica."
In St Peter's Basilica, excavations that began in June 1939 finally uncovered the tomb of the first Pope in 1941. But it was 35 more years before the Church officially attested to the authenticity of those remains, in a statement released by Pope Paul VI in June 1976.
A similar span of years could elapse before the Church confirms that the tomb discovered in St Paul's Basilica is truly that of the apostle - if such an affirmation can ever be made. But the archeologist whose team discovered the tomb is already convinced.
Catholic World News
Communion and Liberation founder's death
In a statement issued in February, Italy's Bishops' Union acknowledged the "crucial contribution provided by Msgr Luigi Giussani in taking Italy's lay state to the next level and his commitment to creating a truly fair society".
The union expressed "its deepest sorrow for the death of Msgr Luigi Giussani, founder of the Catholic volunteers' association Comunione e Liberazione [Communion and Liberation], an initiative which has broadened the Church's scope."
The note continued: "We are particularly indebted to Msgr Giussani for his teachings and ability to promote a reality-based religious experience and for his interest in other cultures".
The bishops concluded that they were "thankful to the Lord for the contribution he gave to the Church through such a great man as Msgr Giussani. We trust it that Christian communities will pray the Lord to welcome Msgr Giussani in his kingdom".
Abortion bill narrowly defeated in Poland
In a close vote last February, Poland's parliament deferred debate on legislation that would have made abortion there legal. The United Nations had been pressuring Poland to liberalise its abortion laws
The ruling ex-Communist Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) decided debate on the abortion issue might further hamper their popularity, delaying discussions until after the election set for September. Defeat of the motion was by a margin of 199-183.
The SLD had promised an easing of abortion laws as part of their party platform during the 2001 elections; their popularity slumped to such lows, however, that they feared igniting the debate would only worsen their position in the polls.
Abortion was made illegal in 1993 after the collapse of communism. Currently, Poland allows abortion if pregnancy results from rape, for children with a malformation, or for women in situations where continuance of the pregnancy may pose a grave health risk. The new law would have brought in abortion on demand for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
Polish pro-life leader Lech Kowalewski said that Poland, with a similar population to Canada (over 30 million), had had the same number of abortions (over 100,000 per year) under communism. However, with liberation came the right to life and the latest abortion figures reveal fewer than 200 abortions per year.
"The statement of the Polish bishops conference was very strong and helpful in the struggle," Kowalewski said, noting that other anti- family bills such as those seeking to create same-sex marriage still remain before parliament.
Anglican Communion spurn US and Canada
Under pressure from orthodox Anglicans around the world, the top leaders of the global Anglican Communion have issued a statement urging the Episcopal Church USA (ECUSA) and the Anglican Church of Canada (ACC) to withdraw their membership from the Communion's council - at least until they explain their liberal theologies regarding homosexuality that has brought the 77-million member Communion to a breaking point.
The statement was drafted during the Anglican Primates' meeting in Northern Ireland in February.
The ECUSA thrust the Anglican world into chaos 15 months ago when its bishops elected an open and active homosexual man as Bishop of New Hampshire. The unilateral decision not only stirred a firestorm of criticism, it prompted a flurry of divisive statements from Anglican church bodies around the world.
More than two-thirds of the world's Anglican denominations broke fellowship ties with the ECUSA, and threatened to eject the American church from the worldwide church body. These churches were also angered by their Canadian counterpart for legalising the blessing of gay unions in the church.
The Archbishop of Canterbury had commissioned a group of Anglican Primates to issue a report on homosexuality and Anglican unity. Titled The Windsor Report, it essentially asked the ECUSA and the ACC to place a moratorium on gay union blessings and ordinations.
However, the ECUSA announced in January that while it regrets the divisions arising from its consecrating a gay bishop, it does not plan to halt the ordination of gays.
The US and Canadian churches have been asked to explain their actions at a meeting in Nottingham, England, in June.
Meanwhile, The Windsor Report has asked "our fellow Primates to use their best influence to persuade their brothers and sisters to exercise a moratorium on public rites of blessing for same-sex unions and on the consecration of any bishop living in a sexual relationship outside Christian marriage".
Observe liturgical norms
Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, the Archbishop of Vienna, during an interview in March with Kath.net, commented on the deep meaning of the liturgy and the Mass.
"The faithful are entitled to participate in a celebration of the liturgy that is valid," he said, with the clergy obliged to celebrate "in community" with the universal Church.
A Mass celebration should not be something "that is the fruit of somebody's hobby or of private liturgical ideas - however well-meant these might be."
The most profound reason for insisting on liturgical order, said the Cardinal, is because the Mass is a divine service: "Christ himself is the celebrant, who is addressing us in his word and who leads us into his devotion to the Father for the salvation of all mankind. Therefore it was always the primary concern of the Church that Jesus Christ is the centre of the liturgy."
He continued: "The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are made present for us. Can there be anything more magnificent than this event?"
When the faithful see the Mass as "more thrilling than any show and more beautiful than all plays," they are more motivated "to get involved as much as possible in this event and to celebrate it with body and soul."
Zenit News Agency
Globalisation: Vatican call for a re-think
On 25 February, at the Lateran University in Rome, Cardinal Renato Martino, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, and Juan Somavia, Director of the International Labor Organisation, presented conclusions of the Report of the World Commission on the Social Dimension of Globalisation. This commission was established by the ILO in 2002 and the Report published in 2004.
A communique announcing the event at the Lateran summarised the Report's findings: "The current functioning of the world economy suffers from deeply rooted and profound imbalances that are unacceptable from an ethical point of view and politically indefensible. For the majority of men and women in the world globalisation does not respond to their legitimate aspirations to have a dignified job and a better future for their children."
The communique also summarised Cardinal Martino's talk, in which he underlined the need to re-think policies and institutions of world governance. He said that now is the moment to place the question of human work and its dignity in the front line of action for a just and fair globalisation. He stated that work is the key to the social question which today is a global question.
Work, when recognised and appreciated, is the path for individuals to get out of situations of absolute poverty in a sustainable way and is also the key for a change in societies and institutions. The possibility of work transforms a poor person from being a "problem" that has to be taken care of, to becoming a "resource."
Vatican Information Service