Sydney's World Youth Day bid for 2008
An article in the Sydney Morning Herald (4 July) reported that Cardinal George Pell was leading a high-level delegation to Rome to present the Sydney Archdiocese's claim to stage the Church's 11th World Youth Day.
If Sydney's bid is successful, the week-long event would be the largest public gathering in Sydney since the 2000 Olympic Games.
The final Sunday vigil Mass of World Youth Day planned for the boulevard of Sydney's Olympic Park and at which the Pope would preside would be expected to draw 250,000 people - including more than 80,000 overseas pilgrims.
The event has the enthusiastic support of the NSW Premier, Bob Carr. In a letter to the Vatican, Mr Carr has pledged "the highest levels of co-operation" and provision, at no or nominal charge, of security, protocol, medical services, transport and public buildings.
A formal announcement of the winning venue will be made in Cologne, where this year's World Youth Day will he held in August. The final decision rests with the Pontifical Council for the Laity in Rome.
Cardinal Pell wants the festival, which is staged every three or four years, to be held in July 2008, giving as much time as possible for planning and coinciding with European university and school holidays.
Cologne is expecting 800,000 people aged between 16 and 30 - although many believe that two million is a more realistic figure - as well as 600 bishops and 4,000 journalists from all over the world. Two thousand Catholics are travelling from Australia.
Cardinal Pell has been a strong advocate and, in the past, has hailed the event as an opportunity for the Church in Oceania to strengthen the faith of young Catholics.
Papal instruction for First Communicants
Pope Benedict XVI plans to meet with young Italian children who are preparing for their First Communion next October, to give them some personal instruction on the Eucharist.
At his Angelus audience on 12 June, the Pope announced his plans for this session, to take place on 15 October. The catechesis for children would take place during the meeting of the Synod of Bishops, which will be dedicated to the discussion of the Eucharist; and shortly before the close of the Year of the Eucharist.
The Holy Father observed: "This will be a fitting and beautiful occasion to repeat the essential role that the sacrament of the Eucharist plays in the formation and spiritual growth of children."
Speaking to about 40,000 people in St Peter's Square, Benedict said that the October session would be arranged primarily for children from Rome and the surrounding Lazio region. It would be a "festive" occasion, he said, at which he would remind the young people of the importance of attending Mass with their families.
"We Christians cannot live without Sundays," he continued, telling his audience that "participation in Sunday Mass must never be felt as an imposition or burden, but rather as a need and a joy."
Catholic World News
Compendium of Catechism launched
The Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church was launched on 28 June. It was prepared by a special commission of cardinals presided over by the then Cardinal Ratzinger.
The need for such a book emerged during the 2002 International Catechetical Congress, called to commemorate ten years since the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. A suggestion was put to John Paul II that a compendium be prepared in order to meet two essential objectives: conciseness and a focus on essentials.
John Paul II accepted the proposal and a year later instituted a special commission of cardinals who began work on the compendium. A first draft was sent to cardinals and presidents of episcopal conferences all over the world. Following the largely positive response to the draft, the commission proceeded to revise it taking into account the suggestions received.
The text consists of 205 pages containing 598 questions and answers, an appendix (of the main Christian prayers and certain formulae of Catholic doctrine) and an alphabetical index.
Archbishop Angelo Amato SDB, Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, explained that the principal characteristics of the compendium are "its strict reliance on the Catechism of the Catholic Church, its text in the form of a dialogue, and its use of images for catechesis."
He underlined the fact that the Compendium was not a substitute for the Catechism, since it constantly refers back to it. The new work, he said, aimed "to awaken a renewed interest and enthusiasm for the Catechism, which ... remains the basic text for ecclesial catechesis today."
Vatican Information Service
First book by Benedict XVI published in Italy
The first book by Pope Benedict XVI, titled The Example of Benedict in the Crisis of the Cultures, and dealing with the marginalisation of Christianity in modern-day Europe, became available in Italian stores in late June. It is being published by the Libreria Editrice Vaticana.
The Holy Father began writing the new book while still a cardinal and its title refers to the patron saint of Europe who is the inspiration behind his papal name.
According to excerpts published by an Italian newspaper, the Pope maintains that "the extreme attempt to shape things without considering the presence of God leads us more and more to the edge of the abyss." The axiom of the Enlightenment should be turned on its head, he said: "Even if one cannot find the way to belief in God, one ought to live as if God existed anyway."
Likewise, he challenged readers with the question, "Who is threatened or offended if a call to the Christian roots of Europe is put forth?"; to which he responds, "Muslims do not feel threatened by our Christian moral foundation, but rather by the cynicism of a secularised culture that denies its own foundation É It is not the mention of God that offends the faithful of other religions, but rather the attempt to build a human community without God."
Catholic News Agency
Irish bishops apology for ignoring seminary abuses
The Irish Catholic bishops released a report in June showing that the hierarchy had ignored complaints about theological novelties and sexual harassment at the national seminary in Maynooth.
In response to repeated requests from the Sunday Business Post, the Irish bishops' conference made public the results of an independent inquiry, commissioned three years ago, into the record of Msgr Michael Ledwith. Msgr Ledwith resigned in 1994, after 10 years as President of St Patrick's College at Maynooth, amid allegations that he had been engaged in sexual harassment of students.
The report found that a dean at Maynooth, Father Gerald McGinnity, had been dismissed after warning about Msgr Ledwith's misconduct. Archbishop Sean Brady of Armagh conceded that Father McGinnity had been wrongly punished.
Father McGinnity, now a parish priest, told the Sunday Business Post:
"I have suffered, not only in the cruel removal from my position of respectability and responsibility at Maynooth, but also from the professional and emotional destruction caused by my subsequent 20 years in the wilderness. I must now wait and see how serious the Church authorities are about their apology, and whether it will be followed by any restorative action."
Msgr Ledwith - who is also reportedly implicated in reports of sexual abuse in the Diocese of Ferns - has since moved to the US, where he now teaches at the Ramtha School of Enlightenment, a New Age institution in Washington.
Catholic World News
Vatican Cardinal on role of Catholic universities
During a visit to Argentina in June, the President of the Pontifical Council for Culture, Cardinal Paul Poupard, said the mission of Catholic universities is not to merely produce graduates, but rather to help students seek out the truth.
In a speech at the Catholic University of Argentina on the challenges that today's culture poses for education, the cardinal emphasised that the importance of the Catholic university does not boil down to enabling its graduates to enter the workforce, but rather it should be a place for seeking out the truth in communion between teachers and students, and for the formation and growth of individuals.
According to the Argentinean daily La Nacion, Cardinal Poupard said that to speak about the truth in contemporary culture constitutes an annoyance in an atmosphere characterised by nihilism, and he criticised universities for turning away from the classical questions about human existence - God, the meaning of life, death, and justice, as presented in literature, history and ethics - in favour of satisfying the demand for job opportunities in the marketplace.
The Cardinal also expressed his fear about "living in a world dominated by soul-less experts and at the mercy of specialists who know almost everything about very little and almost nothing about everything else, about the things that are most important."
Catholic News Agency
World's bishops support Spanish pro-family rally
The Vatican agency Fides united the voices of bishops worldwide in support of the protest in Madrid last June against legislation - subsequently ratified by the Spanish Parliament - to recognise homosexual "marriage" in Spain.
The rally was organised by the Spanish Forum of the Family, a non- confessional group representing more than four million families.
The protest was against the legalisation of same-sex marriage and allowing same-sex couples to adopt children.
Through Fides, representatives of the Church in such nations as India, Peru, Nepal, Congo, Bangladesh, Madagascar, the Solomon Islands, Mongolia, Pakistan and South Korea all expressed their solidarity with the pro-family rally.
"Tragic is the only word with which I can describe the news that the Spanish government intends to change the law on marriage," said a statement from Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz of the Archdiocese of the Mother of God in Moscow.
"It is scarcely believable how something like this can even be considered in a Catholic country, such as Spain, with an age-old Christian tradition, where the Gospel has been proclaimed for centuries and a nation which has given the Church so many mystics," the Archbishop told Fides.
"We must ask ourselves what sort of upbringing can be guaranteed to children who are denied the right to have a mother and a father? What will be the future of society?"
Fides also reported statements of support for the event from Muslims and Jews in Spain.
Zenit News Agency
Campion College to open in 2006
Campion College, Australia's first Catholic liberal arts college, is accepting student applications for its February 2006 Bachelor of Arts intake.
It is located at the former Marist Fathers seminary (now renovated) in Old Toongabbie, near Parramatta in Western Sydney. Its teaching will be characterised by small class sizes and a mentoring approach to learning.
The College takes its inspiration from the United States and Europe which have a tradition of degree granting liberal arts colleges. It will be looking towards university status in the near future.
Campion President, the Rev Dr John Fleming, explained the College's goals as follows: "For too long, the focus at universities and private colleges has been on purely vocational study which develops technicians rather than flexible, interesting people. Employers are increasingly looking for graduates who can think on their feet, who understand the world around them and who bring character and values to the workplace.
"We are looking to produce leaders at our College, people who understand the civilisation that has brought them to this moment and who can apply ethics to the workplace and indeed to their lives in general. We believe students need to be able to think for themselves and this course provides them the tools which will allow them to do this."
For inquiries, phone (02) 9896 9300 or visit the Campion website at www.campion.org.au