The Church Around the World

The Church Around the World


Father Fessio's new appointment

To head orthodox Catholic university

Father Joseph Fessio SJ, who was ordered by his Jesuit superiors to leave San Francisco in what was generally recognised as a disciplinary move in March, has received a new assignment as Chancellor of Ave Maria University, Detroit.

Father Fessio, the founder of Ignatius Press, had clashed with the Jesuit order over his plans for Campion College, a new institution with a strong Catholic identity that has been set up on the doorstep of the Jesuit-run University of San Francisco. He was ordered by his provincial, Father Thomas Smolich SJ, to break all ties with Campion College. Father Fessio was also given a new assignment as assistant chaplain of Santa Teresita Hospital, outside Los Angeles.

In a surprise announcement in late June, however, Ave Maria University revealed that the order had approved the appointment of Father Fessio as Chancellor. Nick Healy, the president of the Michigan-based university, said that he had secured the permission of the Jesuit order for the appointment.

Father Fessio's new assignment will include responsibility for setting up a new campus of Ave Maria University in Florida. "What is being planned in the southwest of Florida is so daunting, yet so crucial for the Church in the Americas, that we need the help of seasoned educators," Healy said. "I asked the Society of Jesus if they would assign Father Fessio to us, and they graciously agreed."

Catholic World News

Vatican repeats Church teaching on ordination

Excommunication ultimatum for schismatic women 'priests'

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a declaration on 10 July warning seven Catholic women purported to have received ordination from the hands of the founder of a schismatic community.

They were required to comply with certain conditions before 22 July if they did not wish to incur excommunication. The declaration was signed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone, prefect and secretary of the Congregation.

The declaration states: "On June 29, 2002, Romulo Antonio Braschi, the founder of a schismatic community, attempted to confer priestly ordination on [seven] Catholic women ...

"In order to give direction to the consciences of the Catholic faithful and dispel any doubts which may have arisen, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith wishes to recall the teaching of the Apostolic Letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis of Pope John Paul II, which states that 'the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful' (n. 4).

"For this reason, the above-mentioned 'priestly ordination' constitutes the simulation of a sacrament and is thus invalid and null, as well as constituting a grave offence to the divine constitution of the Church.

"Furthermore, because the 'ordaining' Bishop belongs to a schismatic community, it is also a serious attack on the unity of the Church. Such an action is an affront to the dignity of women, whose specific role in the Church and society is distinctive and irreplaceable.

"The present Declaration ... gives formal warning to the above-mentioned women that they will incur excommunication reserved to the Holy See if, by July 22, 2002, they do not (1) acknowledge the nullity of the 'orders' they have received from a schismatic Bishop in contradiction to the definitive doctrine of the Church, and (2) state their repentance and ask forgiveness for the scandal caused ...".

Vatican Information Service

Rome-Moscow dialogue?

Signs of hope despite some friction

Talks between the Vatican and the Russian Orthodox Church are reviving, according to the president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity.

Cardinal Walter Kasper told a Vatican Radio audience that he has been encouraged by a message from the Orthodox Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk, the chief ecumenical contact for the Patriarchate of Moscow. He said that the letter from the Orthodox prelate, sent at the beginning of July, signals the renewal of contacts that appeared closed earlier this year, after the establishment of four new Catholic dioceses in Russia.

Since February, when the Moscow Patriarchate reacted angrily to the Vatican's establishment of Catholic dioceses, there has been no direct contact between the Holy See and the Russian Orthodox hierarchy. Thus the letter from Metropolitan Kirill was "a sign that we can continue on the path of dialogue," Cardinal Kasper said.

Cardinal Kasper insisted on seeing the letter as a positive development, despite the fact that the text contains harsh criticism of the Catholic Church, including a strongly worded charge that Catholics are engaged in "proselytism" inside Russian territory. The Cardinal explained that the Vatican had asked for a clear explanation of what the Moscow Patriarchate regards as "proselytism," and the message from Metropolitan Kirill is a clear response. "Now that we have received it, we hope the dialogue can resume," he said.

Catholic World News

St Maria Goretti centenary

Pope John Paul II's message: "An example for young people"

John Paul II has written a message to Bishop Vallini of Albano, Italy, on the occasion of the centenary of the death of St Maria Goretti, murdered after refusing the sexual advances of a young neighbour.

After recalling that the saint was "cruelly stabbed" on July 5 and died the next day, he writes: "Because of her spiritual life, the strength of her faith, her capacity to forgive her killer, she is among the most beloved saints of the 20th century."

The Pope added: "In [her] heroic testimony ... the forgiveness offered to the killer and the desire to meet him one day in paradise deserve special attention. It is a spiritual and social message of extraordinary importance for this time."

At the end of the message, John Paul II pointed to the Italian saint as an example especially for young people: "St. Maria Goretti and so many adolescents who throughout the centuries have paid for their adhesion to the Gospel with martyrdom, are alongside [young people] to order instill in their souls the strength to remain solid in faithfulness."

Vatican Information Service

Rome announces new Archbishop of Milwaukee

Former North American College Rector succeeds Rembert Weakland

John Paul II named Auxiliary Bishop Timothy Dolan of St Louis to be the new Archbishop of Milwaukee, the Vatican Press Office announced on 26 June.

Archbishop-designate Dolan succeeds Rembert Weakland, whose retirement was accepted after it became public that he had paid US$450,000 to a former theology student to settle an accusation of sexual abuse. Monsignor Timothy Dolan was named auxiliary bishop of St Louis last year and had served as rector of the North American College (NAC) in Rome from 1994 to 2001.

Born in 1950, in St Louis, Missouri, he attended St Louis Preparatory Seminary and Cardinal Glennon College, completing his studies for the priesthood at the NAC and the University of St Thomas (the Angelicum) in Rome. He was ordained a priest for the St Louis Archdiocese in 1976.

Before serving as rector of the NAC, he served as vice-rector of Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in St Louis. He holds a licentiate in theology and a doctorate in Church history.

Zenit News Service

Holy See protests exclusion from AIDS conference

More than one-quarter of all AIDS facilities are run by Catholic Church

The Holy See's top official working on health-care issues has protested the exclusion of Vatican representatives from the 14th world conference on AIDS.

In an interview with the Roman news agency I Media, Archbishop Javier Lozano Barragan pointed out that more than one-fourth of all AIDS treatment facilities in the world today are operated under the auspices the Catholic Church.

Yet the president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care reported that no Vatican official had been invited to participate in this year's "AIDS summit," which was convened under UN leadership in Barcelona in July. Vatican officials had participated in previous AIDS conferences.

"We do not understand why the Vatican was not invited," Archbishop Lozano said, adding that since 26 percent of all AIDS-treatment centres are Catholic facilities, the Church should be recognised as "the most important partner" among UN members in terms of response to AIDS. As such, the Vatican "has a right to have its opinions heard."

Archbishop Lozano also expressed a keen sense of impatience regarding the prevailing approach to AIDS, which emphasises distribution of condoms and instruction on "safe-sex" practices. He remarked that UN officials "have been saying the same thing constantly for the past dozen years," despite the fact that their approach has produced "no visible results." On the contrary, the Mexican-born prelate observed, "The number of AIDS victims is rising, in a terribly important trend."

The Archbishop said that AIDS-prevention campaigns must not contribute to the spread of "the culture of sexual licence." What was needed was a "real effort" to change the "sexual behavior, which is the principal cause for the spread of the infection." The teachings of the Catholic Church, he continued, constitute "the most radical campaign for the prevention of AIDS," since sexual abstinence and marital fidelity work "with absolute efficiency, which no one can deny."

Zenit News Servic

Neocatechumenal Way statute approved

Cardinals and bishops from around the world express support

On 28 June, Cardinal James Francis Stafford, President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, presented the decree of approval of the statute of the Neocatechumenal Way to its leaders, Kiko Arguello, Carmen Hernandez and Fr Mario Pezzi.

The ceremony took place in the Great Hall of the Pontifical Council.

There had been much contact with prelates and episcopal conferences from all over the world for the assessment of the experience of the Way at the parochial, diocesan and national levels. In addition, many patriarchs, cardinals and bishops had written to the Holy Father encouraging the statute's examination and approval.

The Vatican said the purpose of the decree of approval is "to regulate the normal procedure of the Neocatechumenal Way and its adaptation into the ecclesiastical fabric, offering help to pastors of the Church in their paternal and attentive guidance to Neocatechumenal communities."

It explained that "the process was prolonged because the juridical forms applied most in the Code of Canon Law are those of an association and foundation" while "the Way is effectively at the service of the dioceses and parishes in terms of Christian initiation without being an autonomous entity."

The statute is composed of thirty-five articles. In the first article, the nature of the Way is described and the spiritual goods that constitute it. In the second, its mode of application is established: in the dioceses "under the direction of the bishop" and "according to the guidelines proposed by its initiators." The subject who promotes Christian initiation - explains the text - "is obviously the bishop to whom is being offered a tool, approved by the Holy See and organised according to the indications of the statute."

Vatican Information Service

National Chesterton Conference for Canberra

Roster of distinguished speakers scheduled

The Australian Chesterton Society is holding its 2002 National Chesterton Conference in Canberra between Friday, 13 September, and Sunday, 15 September. It will take place at the Blackfriars Priory and Conference Centre, Watson, ACT. The Second Annual Meeting of the Australian Chesterton Society will be held on 16 September.

The theme of the conference is "What's Wrong with the World? - Chesterton in the Third Millennium" and speakers scheduled to address this theme will include Jack Waterford, Editor-in-Chief, The Canberra Times, Dr Warwick Neville, Justice Roderick Meagher, Kevin O'Leary QC, Emeritus Professor Ralph Eliott and Dr (Fr) Paul Stenhouse.

Inquiries regarding registration and accommodation should be directed to Ray Finnegan, 13 Fossey Street, Holder, ACT, 2611, tel: (02) 6288 5137.

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