The Church Around the World

The Church Around the World

Orthodox leader praises former Pope

Metropolitan Hilarion, chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate's department for external church relations described the recently retired Pope Benedict XVI as a "prominent theologian", well versed "in the tradition of the Orthodox Church" and said that relations between Rome and Moscow had acquired a "positive dynamic" following his election as Pope.

Metropolitan Hilarion called Benedict's decision to resign as "an act of personal courage and humility".

He expressed gratitude for the Pope's "understanding of the problems which impede the full normalisation of Orthodox-Catholic relations, especially in such regions as western Ukraine".

He praised the Pope's staunch opposition to the "dictatorship of relativism" and said that his "traditionalism and conservatism" were a boon to "millions of Christians, both Catholic and non-Catholic, who seek to preserve traditional Christian spiritual and moral values".

Metropolitan Hilarion expressed the hope that Benedict's successor would "continue walking along the same path and that Orthodox-Catholic relations will continue developing progressively for the common good of the whole of Christendom".

Catholic News Agency

No Communion for pro-abortion politicians

As the Irish parliament considered legalising some abortions, Cardinal Raymond Burke, head of the the Vatican's Apostolic Signatura, said that local Catholic politicians who supported the procedure should be refused Holy Communion in the hope of inspiring their conversion.

"There can be no question that the practice of abortion is among the gravest of manifest sins," Cardinal Burke told the Irish newspaper Catholic Voice in an interview published on 1 February.

Once "a Catholic politician has been admonished that he should not come forward to receive Holy Communion," the cardinal added, "as long as he continues to support legislation which fosters abortion or other intrinsic evils, then he should be refused Holy Communion."

Cardinal Burke said that the local bishop and parish priests must ensure that Holy Communion is properly received to avoid "the grave sin of sacrilege" from those like Catholic politicians who receive Communion in spite of "grave moral evil." The bishops and clergy must also prevent the "scandal" caused by this kind of reception because it "gives the impression that the Church's teaching on the intrinsic evil of abortion is not firm".


African-Americans in US March For Marriage

Civil Rights activist Reverend Bill Owens joined with the National Organization for Marriage to promote and lead the March for Marriage in Washington DC, on 26 March.

"Gay activists are wrong to claim the mantle of the civil rights movement in their push to redefine marriage for all - the most important civil right related to marriage is the right of every child to a mother and father," said Rev Owens on 25 February.

Rev Owens is the founder of the Coalition of African-American Pastors, a group that describes itself as "a grass-roots movement of Christians who believe in traditional family values such as supporting the role of religion in American public life, protecting the lives of the unborn, and defending the sacred institution of marriage".

He also was a participant in the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and 1960s in Nashville, Tennessee. "I marched in the civil rights movement, and I did not walk a single step for gay marriage when I marched for civil rights," he recalled. "I will march again and the Coalition of African American pastors will march to honour the civil rights movement and to honour the sacred institution of marriage."

Catholic News Agency

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