Vatican official calls for a recovery of the sacred
The new secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship, Sri Lankan-born Archbishop Albert Malcom Ranjith Patabendige Don, told I Media in June that Vatican II had hoped to reinvigorate the sense of an active encounter with God through the liturgy. "But unfortunately," he said, "after the Council, certain changes were made rapidly, without reflection, in a burst of enthusiasm, in a rejection of some exaggerations of the past." The result had been quite different from the Council's intent.
The negative results included "the abandonment of the sacred and the mystical," the confusion between the common priesthood of all the faithful and the ordained ministry, and the concept of the Eucharist as a common banquet rather than a representation of Christ's Sacrifice.
These changes produced adverse consequences for the Church even beyond the liturgy. In the face of a growing secular trend in society, said the Archbishop, the Church urgently needed to cultivate a deeper sense of the sacred and a more active interior life. Fortunately, there was a growing awareness among Catholics of the need to recover the sense of the sacred.
Regarding use of the old Missal of St Pius V, the Archbishop said that requests for use of the pre-conciliar liturgy had become more common. "The Pope knows all this," he said; "he knows the questions, he is very conscious of the situation, he is reflecting, and we are waiting for his indications."
What is clear, he concluded, is the need for a liturgy that is "more beautiful, more transcendent."
Catholic World News
The true meaning of a priestly vocation
Priests must be fully committed to their vocation, said Bishop Jan Babjak, the Byzantine Catholic Bishop of Presov, East Slovakia.
"I want every priest to be 100 percent a priest because the clergy's religious zeal leads to religious zeal on the part of the faithful," he told Aid to the Church in Need during a visit in July to the charity's head office in Germany.
Emphasising the role of the priesthood, he said the priests in the Presov Cathedral hear confessions every day, from 5 am until 7 pm, and there are always people there who want to receive the sacrament.
"It is the sacraments that give our people a firm anchor in a sea of liberalism," he said. "Whenever the Church speaks out in public, there is resistance and, immediately, there are strong counter reactions by the liberal media," he continued.
These counter reactions spill over to the average citizens, who do not want to listen to the Church's teachings on various social issues. Still, the Church in East Slovakia is experiencing growth. The bishops reported that there are about 100 conversions each year.
There are between 250,000 and 260,000 Byzantine Catholics among Slovakia's 5.4 million inhabitants.
Catholic News Agency
Prospects for ecumenism with Anglicans recede
England's leading Catholic prelate said that unity between the Catholic and Anglican churches would be "out of reach" if the Church of England went forward with plans to ordain women as bishops.
Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor of Westminster told a British television interviewer on 11 June that if women became bishops in the Church of England, the Anglican and Catholic churches would move "in parallel rather than converging toward the full communion and unity which we believe is the will of Christ."
Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor endorsed the statements made earlier by Cardinal Walter Kasper, the president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, in a talk to the bishops of the Church of England. Cardinal Kasper had warned that ordination of female bishops would radically alter the nature of ecumenical ties.
Ecumenical talks between Rome and Canterbury, he said, have been based on the presupposition that both sides hope for an eventual restoration of full communion. "The presupposition would realistically no longer exist" if women became bishops.
Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor, a former co-chairman of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) said with regret that he had reached the same conclusion.
In North America, the Anglican Church has already ordained women as bishops. But Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor said that the adoption of a similar policy in the Church of England would be more detrimental to the ecumenical cause because it would entail a policy change by the Archbishop of Canterbury, who is "the instrument and focus of unity within the Anglican community."
Catholic World News
Persecution of Christians in Saudi Arabia
Two Ethiopian and two Eritrean Christians were arrested and incarcerated in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, for conducting prayers in their home.
The Compass Direct news agency reported that the religious police, called Muttawa, armed with wooden clubs, broke into a private residence in Jeddah in June and arrested the four Christians who remain in prison.
More than 100 Eritrean, Ethiophian and Filipino Christians were gathered in the house when the Muttawa arrested the four group leaders. The few Christians in Saudi Arabia are mostly migrant workers.
The Government of Saudi Arabia forbids the practice of any religion other than the fundamentalist Wahhabite version of Islam. It prohibits building places of worship, churches, or chapels. Any public expressions of faith, such as carrying a Bible, a crucifix, or rosary beads, and praying in public are forbidden.
Catholic News Agency
Sexual morality: Catholic views the same as others
Most American adults support free access to contraceptives, favour sale of the "morning after" pill, and believe that the distribution of contraceptives will decrease the incidence of abortion, according to a new Wall Street Journal/Harris Interactive poll published in June.
The survey found no significant differences between Catholics and other Americans on questions involving contraception. But respondents who identified themselves as "born-again Christians" were less favourably disposed toward contraception.
The poll found vast majorities supporting the propositions that people should have more information about birth control and that access to birth control would limit the number of abortions. Those ideas were endorsed by 89 percent and 81 percent, respectively, of those responding.
More than half of the 2,879 people polled (58 percent) said that the "morning-after" pill should be available in pharmacies, and 62 percent would deny pharmacists the right to refuse to sell the pill.
The survey found Catholic attitudes fully in line with those of the general public. Of the respondents who identified themselves as Catholics, 88 percent supported easy access to birth-control information, and 53 percent favoured sales of the "morning-after" pill.
"Born-again Christians" constituted the only religious group which disapproved of making the "morning- after" pill available in pharmacies; only 39 percent favoured over-the-counter sales. And 89 percent of the born-again Christians favoured abstinence as the best means of preventing teen pregnancies.
Catholic World News
New Vatican Secretary of State chosen
Pope Benedict XVI named Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone of Genoa to be the next Vatican Secretary of State, replacing Cardinal Angelo Sodano.
Cardinal Sodano, who has served 15 years in the post, will formally step down on 15 September, the Vatican announced on 22 June.
The Secretary of State is the second-ranking official at the Vatican, with broad authority over the internal and external policies of the Holy See. Acting effectively as "prime minister" for the Roman Pontiff, the Secretary of State coordinates the flow of work at the Holy See, and exerts sweeping influence over other offices of the Roman Curia.
The appointment of a new Secretary of State had been long expected, and Cardinal Bertone's name had emerged as the Pope's likely choice. A 71-year-old Salesian, Cardinal Bertone served from 1995 to 2002 as secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, where he was deputy to then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.
Catholic World News
Marriage and abortion: US bishops' campaign
The Colorado Catholic Conference launched a statewide campaign in June to try to get two key measures on Colorado's November ballot: the protection of marriage as the union of one man and one woman, and the prohibition of late-term abortions.
The Colorado Catholic Conference assisted each parish in conducting signature drives for both the state marriage amendment (Initiative 83) and the state late-term abortion ban (Initiative 80). The ban would create a class 4 felony for those who knowingly performed a late-term abortion.
Each petition needed a minimum of 68,000 valid signatures by 7 August in order for the issues to be put on the ballot.
Archbishop Charles Chaput, in his regular column in the Denver Catholic Register, urged all Catholics to sign petitions that will be circulating in the parishes.
"We need Initiative 80, because through it, Colorado's constitution will offer a valuable public witness in defending human life, an example we can work from to further lead our society toward a culture of life," wrote the archbishop. Initiative 83 "will go a long way to protecting marriage as the cornerstone of our culture."
He continued: "Only when we actively engage public issues with an energy and conscience informed by our faith and our moral convictions, do we truly live as 'faithful citizens'. We serve the common good best by being true to what we claim to believe - both in the public square and in our private lives."
At the same time, Bishop Michael Sheridan of Colorado Springs commenced a month-long series of columns on the ballot measures in The Colorado Catholic Herald.
"If same-sex marriage is legalised here," he warned, "churches that refuse to perform these 'weddings' could lose their tax-exempt status and any religious teaching which condemns homosexual acts [would be] considered hate speech and is punishable by imprisonment. This reduces the Christian view of marriage and sexuality to bigotry."
Catholic News Agency
Spanish policies a "death sentence for the family"
Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera has charged that the Spanish Government has written "a sort of death sentence for the family" with its new policies.
In an interview published on 15 June by the Italian daily Il Tempo, Cardinal Canizares Llovera said that legislation introduced by Prime Minister José Luis Zapatero had replaced policies supporting the family with new policies denying the fundamental nature of family life. He referred to new legislation allowing easier access to divorce, and granting legal recognition to same-sex marriage.
"The Church cannot forsake the duty to affirm that without the family, there is no future for mankind, no future for society," said Cardinal Canizares. For that reason, the 8-9 July visit to Valencia by Benedict XVI, to speak at a conference for families, was "an important encouragement for promoting the legitimate family founded on marriage."
By recognising same-sex unions as legal marriages, the cardinal said, the government had reached "the most extreme point of radicalism." Other countries, he noted, had given some form of legal recognition to homosexual unions, but stopped short of "denying the truth about marriage between a man and a woman."
As for the government's legislation on divorce, the cardinal conceded that divorce was already common in Spain. But the new easier access to divorce would mean that marriage now came "without any guarantee."
The legislation undermining family, he said, reflected a loss of belief and orientation. "When man loses the sense of God, he also loses the truth about man, and loses the very sense of being human".
The cardinal insisted that most Spanish people were "not in favour of destroying the family, or of a family that is not founded on a single indissoluble marriage between a man and a woman, founded on love and open to the family."
Catholic World News