The Church Around the World

The Church Around the World

Benedict XVI names 15 new cardinals

After the general audience on 22 February, Benedict XVI announced the names of 15 prelates who would be created cardinals in a consistory to be held on 24 March.

Among those made cardinals were leading members of the Vatican Curia, including Archbishop William Joseph Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Other cardinals came from Venezuela, the Philippines, France, Spain, South Korea, Poland, Italy, the United States (Archbishop Sean Patrick O'Malley OFM Cap, of Boston) and China.

One of the most significant of these appointments was that of Bishop Joseph Zen Ze-kiun SDB of Hong Kong (the only Chinese cardinal under 80), who has been outspoken in his support for the democracy movement.

Bishop Zen told the Italian daily La Repubblica that he saw his selection as an indication of "the Pope's regard for the Chinese people and his hope of improving relations with China". As a cardinal, he said, he should "have greater visibility and access to the leaders of the Chinese Government" who, to date, had preferred to deal with him "at a distance," because of his statements critical of the Government's restraints on human rights, particularly religious freedom.

Bishop Zen said he hoped his appointment could help end the 55- year dispute between the Vatican and China. Earlier, he told a press conference in Hong Kong that his forthright style would be hard to change but he hoped Sino-Vatican ties could be normalised before the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

Meanwhile, the Pope's choice of Hong Kong's Bishop as a cardinal brought rejoicing to the Church in China, particularly to underground Catholics.

Catholic World News

EWTN arrives in Australia

Auxiliary Bishop Julian Porteous of the Sydney Archdiocese officially launched the Television Services Eternal Word Television Network on 3 March before an audience of 700 broadcasting and multicultural representatives.

In his address at the launch, Bishop Porteous said: "EWTN has been a great pioneer in Catholic television for 25 years. It has set benchmarks in programming, providing the marketability of a clear straightforward presentation of Catholic culture and beliefs."

EWTN is one part of the Australian Multicultural Television (AMTV) package which originates from Liverpool in South West Sydney. AMTV will provide free-to-air satellite television that can reach all of Australia. All that is required is a $649 once only payment.

Information on how to get connected can be obtained from the AMTV website,, or by phoning 1300 65 9022.

US poll: most say teach evidence against evolution

Most Americans believe that public schools should provide students with evidence both for and against the theory of Darwinian evolution, according to a new nationwide poll published in March.

The survey by Zogby International found 69 per cent of all respondents believe that biology classes should explain both the theory of evolution and the scientific evidence against Darwin's claims. Only 21 per cent of those surveyed said teachers should confine themselves to teaching the Darwinian theory.

The Zogby poll was commissioned by the Discovery Institute, a Seattle-based think-tank. "This poll shows widespread support for the idea that when biology teachers teach Darwin's theory of evolution they should present the scientific evidence that supports it as well as the evidence against it," said Casey Luskin, program officer for the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture.

Luskin said that while the Discovery Institute would not favour mandatory public-school instruction in the theory of intelligent design, "we do think it is constitutional for teachers to discuss it, precisely because the theory is based upon scientific evidence, not religious pre- mises."

The poll also found strong support for introducing scientific evidence that points to an intelligent design alongside the instruction in evolutionary theory. Some 77 per cent of the respondents agreed that the evidence of intelligent design should be presented to students, and a majority - 51 per cent - agreed strongly. Only 19 per cent disagreed.

Catholic World News

Religious orders key to spiritual reform

Pope Benedict XVI is seeking to revitalise the faith life of the Church, a "spiritual reform" that must begin with the world's men and women religious, said Archbishop Franc Rode, head of the Vatican office that oversees religious orders.

That means religious congregations must take stock, recover their "apostolic dynamism" and shed the excessive secularism of the post- Second Vatican Council period, he said.

Archbishop Rode, Prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, spoke of the challenges facing religious life and the directions being set under Pope Benedict.

The 71-year-old Slovenian, a member of the Vincentian order, said the vitality of religious orders has always been essential for spiritual reform in the Church. "Throughout the history of the Church, religious orders and congregations were always the ones pushing forward, bringing dynamism and a call for holiness. They were always on the front lines," he said.

Catholic News Service

Governor signs South Dakota abortion ban

South Dakota's Governor Mike Rounds in March signed a bill banning nearly all abortions in the state.

The new law - the first statewide abortion ban enacted since the 1973 Roe v Wade decision - is due to go into effect on 1 July. However, a legal challenge is inevitable, and opponents are likely to seek a court order postponing implementation of the law until the constitutional challenge is resolved.

The South Dakota law sets the stage for the first direct challenge to Roe v Wade, a case in which the US Supreme Court effectively overturned all state laws restricting abortion. The challenge would test the new balance of power on the Supreme Court, now including two Justices recently named by President George W. Bush.

The South Dakota legislation, based on new scientific evidence showing that human life begins at conception, was approved by solid majorities in both houses of the state legislature. A similar bill is on its way through the Mississippi legislature.

Radical abortion supporters have evidently begun exacting some retribution for their loss in South Dakota. Leslee Unruh, a pro-life activist who lobbied intensively for the new legislation, reports that she has received threatening phone calls in the middle of the night, eggs have been splattered across her house, coat hangers placed in her mailbox, and dead animals left at her husband's office. Unruh reports having received "a ton" of hate mail.

Catholic World News

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