John Paul II's visit to Ukraine
Asks Orthodox forgiveness for past Catholic errors
Commenting on John Paul II's visit to Ukraine between 23-27 June, former Prime Minister, Victor Yushchenko, said the Holy Father could be an example to the Ukrainian people as they consolidated their democracy, with his message of "tolerance, forgiveness and patience."
However, one day before John Paul's arrival in Ukraine, Moscow Patriarch Alexei II repeated an earlier condemnation of the trip, accusing the Pope of expressing his support for the "barbaric nationalism" of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church with his visit. However, the leader of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kievan Patriarchate, Patriarch Filaret, who separated himself from Alexei's Church in the 1990s, said he would welcome the Pope because of his commitment to the reunification of the Eastern and Western Churches.
Pope John Paul II was welcomed at the Kiev airport by Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma and the Ukrainian Catholic bishops. His first action after landing was to ask the Orthodox for forgiveness for past Catholic errors. Reacting to accusations of Catholic proselytism on behalf of the Moscow Patriarchate, the Pope said he was not interested in recruiting Orthodox believers to become members of the Catholic Church. Instead, he wanted to encourage all Ukrainian believers to remain courageous in their faith as they were in times of persecution and suffering.
Aid to the Church in Need
Cardinal Ratzinger's 50 years of priesthood
Pope's letter of congratulation
Made public on 28 June was Pope John Paul's letter to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, to congratulate him on the 50th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood. The letter, written in Latin and translated into Italian, is dated 20 June.
The Pope writes that "the fact that your Jubilee anniversary coincides with the liturgical solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul brings to my mind the vision of broad spiritual and ecclesial horizons: a personal holiness driven to the ultimate sacrifice, a missionary thrust linked with the constant concern for unity and the necessary integration between spiritual charism and institutional ministry.
"These are horizons that you, venerable brother, have attentively explored in your theological research: in Peter shone forth the principle of unity, founded on the Prince of the Apostles' faith which was solid as a rock; in Paul, [we see] the intrinsic demand of the Gospel to call each man and every people to obedience in faith."
The Holy Father highlighted Cardinal Ratzinger's "brilliant philosophical and especially theological studies," his "precocious call to teaching roles in the most important German universities," his nomination as a bishop by Pope Paul VI and subsequent appointment to the Archdiocese of Munich and his elevation as cardinal.
John Paul II also underscored how, nearly 20 years ago, he asked Cardinal Ratzinger "to be Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Since then you have not ceased in lavishing your intellectual and moral energies to promote and be guardian of the doctrine of the faith and morals of the entire Catholic universe."
The Pope concluded by expressing his "great gratitude for the impressive mass of work you have undertaken" and "for the spirit of humility and self-denial which has constantly marked your activity."
Zenit News Service
Worldwide seminary numbers on increase
Aid to the Church in Need plays vital role
The number of seminarians worldwide increased by 2.5 per cent last year. The bulk of this increase has occurred in Third World countries, despite widespread problems of lack of books, food or suitable accommodation. The international Catholic organisation, Aid to the Church in Need, has made it a priority to assist seminarians having to contend with suffering, poverty or persecution - 19,000 all told are helped each year.
In Cuba, despite decades of terror and enforced atheism under Castro, there are too many vocations for its small and crumbling seminary. Aid to the Church in Need has provided help for all 64 students for the priesthood, similarly for all 693 students in Slovakia's six seminaries, and for those in countries such as China, Brazil and Poland. The total number studying for the priesthood in Poland is 7,255, with over one thousand first year students entering in 2001.
Sudan bishop appeals for help
Christian south under attack by Islamic Government
Bishop Cezare Mazzolari of Rumbek, Sudan, made an urgent appeal for help last June for thousands of desperate people in his diocese. He said the situation in Western Bahr al- Ghazal was "very desperate," and that 57,000 people had been displaced by intense military activity. "My first appeal is for food to be dropped at Raga to help attract the desperate civilians now scattered in the surrounding areas to return to their homes," Bishop Mazzolari said.
"I have seen the place and can confirm that there is so much suffering. I appeal to all people of goodwill to seize the earliest opportunity to help save as many lives as possible," the Bishop said. "The Church has left a team of its personnel on the ground to run our very small and run-down dispensary and we appeal for assistance to help beef up our medical and relief activities." He added that the diocese would provide temporary accommodation for any aid agency willing to help.
Bishop Mazzolari said he was afraid many of the people heading north out of Raga, including many children, could die of hunger and thirst in the largely desert area. Rebels in the mainly Christian south have been waging a civil war with the Islamic government in the north of the African country for two decades, leaving more than a million dead. Now that Raga has been captured by the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army, the Khartoum Government has bombed the town several times.
Catholic World News
Is the theologian's mandatum "toothless"?
US bishops discuss question of enforcement
The head of the US bishops' special committee on the mandatum for Catholic theologians said last June that they might not be able to enforce it. The mandatum was approved on 15 June for implementation in June 2002.
Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk of Cincinnati told the National Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCCB), holding their biannual meeting, that the mandatum - an oath sworn by professors at Catholic colleges to teach only authentic Catholic doctrine - could not become a requirement.
"If people don't do this they should be open to persuasion but there is no mechanism to make anyone do anything. We cannot make the college make that a requirement for hiring," he said.
When Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver asked what a bishop can do if colleges refuse, Archbishop Pilarczyk said sanctions do not exist since colleges are self- governing. That perplexed Bishop Sean O'Malley of Fall River, Massachusetts. "I don't understand why a university, if it's a Catholic institution, doesn't have a responsibility to require this," he said. "Otherwise it seems like an exercise in futility."
Cardinal Francis George of Chicago said a possible sanction could be to require any professor who trains catechists, speaks at Catholic events, or represents the Church in ecumenical projects to have the mandatum.
Patrick Reilly of the Cardinal Newman Society, a Catholic higher education group, said a proposal that would keep the names of those who seek or do not seek the mandatum secret was a disservice to the Church. "We are concerned that several bishops have indicated they will not publicly identify which theologians have received the mandate, and which have not," he said. "How, then, will the mandatum address the needs of students who want to know whether they are enrolling in genuine Catholic theology courses?"
Catholic World News
Vatican delegation returns from Vietnam
Minor religious freedom concessions secured
A Vatican delegation has returned from a mission to Vietnam, after securing a few small concessions from the Communist Government, including the appointment of three bishops.
The Vatican delegation, led by Archbishop Celestino Migliore, had been in Vietnam from 11 to 17 June, meeting with government leaders as well as Vietnamese bishops. The Holy See has been sending delegations to Vietnam on an annual basis recently, seeking to establish greater freedom for the Church in that country.
The Vietnamese Government strictly controls the appointment of bishops, entry of young men into seminaries and pastoral assignments of Catholic priests. In all these areas, the Government has severely restricted the Church's activities. The appointment of bishops is a matter of urgency for the Vatican negotiators, since government stalling has led to vacancies in some dioceses, while other dioceses are still headed by elderly and frail bishops.
The Government has agreed to accept the appointment of three bishops, rejected one other, and promised a later reply on three others.
On another front - the possibility of establishing formal diplomatic relations with the Holy See - the Vietnamese Government has been equally evasive. More than two years have passed since a Vatican delegation raised that possibility, and the Hanoi government promised to "examine the matter." Since that time there has been no apparent progress.
Fides/Catholic World News
First Siberian ordination since Russian Revolution
Vatican Cardinal travels to Russia for ceremony
On Sunday, 10 June, Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos ordained the first man in Siberia to become a Roman Catholic priest since the 1917 revolution that brought the Communist regime to power in that country.
The Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy travelled to Russia for the ceremony at the invitation of Bishop Jerzy Mazur, the apostolic administrator for eastern Siberia. The priestly ordination of Peregudov Yevgeni Yuryevitch took place in the cathedral in Irkutsk.
During his visit to Siberia, Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos met with the priests, religious, and catechists of the apostolic administration. There are 14 priests in eastern Siberia serving 50,200 Catholics in a geographical region larger than Australia.
Catholic-Anglican agreement in Queensland
Clergy to be shared in outback areas
The Brisbane Courier-Mail (18 June) reports: "Churches in western Queensland are leading the way towards unity with the signing of Australia's first agreement between the Anglican and Catholic Churches to share clergy." This had been brought about by "dwindling numbers of priests and the population drift from the bush."
The agreement was signed by Anglican Archbishop and Governor- General designate Peter Hollingworth and Toowoomba's Catholic Bishop William Morris at a farewell service for Archbishop Hollingworth in Toowoomba on 15 June. Archbishop Hollingworth said that as the Church restructured its ministry it was important to build an ecumenical foundation allowing clergy to minister co- operatively.
One of the architects of the agreement, Fr Richard Tutin (Anglican) said Catholic and Anglican congregations had been sharing clergy in remote areas for several years and the agreement ratified a grassroots movement. He said that the Catholic parish priest of Quilpie (Toowoomba Diocese) had conducted Anglican weddings and funerals in the absence of Anglican clergy for the past three years and "now that an Anglican priest had been appointed to the parish, he would minister to local Catholic parishioners while the Catholic priest takes extended leave."
The agreement allows for "combined Sunday services in towns where there is only one priest available although each Church will make its own arrangements for the Eucharist." Priests would be shared for ministry to the sick and dying, with rites being administered "according to the faith tradition of the parishioner."