The Church Around the World

The Church Around the World

Profile of new cardinals

96 percent of eligible voters were named by John Paul II

The number of cardinals eligible to vote in a papal election now stands at 135 - 15 more than the limit imposed by Pope Paul VI in 1975 and reaffirmed by Pope John Paul II in 1996.

(The cardinal who was elevated in pectore could make the overall voting total 136, if he is under the age of 80. However, he will not be eligible to participate in a papal conclave until he is publically identified by Pope John Paul II. If this identity is still a secret when this Pope dies, his status as cardinal will then lapse.)

The number of cardinals eligible to vote in a future conclave will decline rapidly, as some prelates die and other reach the age of 80, at which point they cease to be eligible voters. Even in the unlikely event that no cardinal-electors die in the coming year, the number of eligible voters will fall to 121 by the end of 2003. Three cardinals will mark their 80th birthdays before the end of this year; ten more in the course of 2004.

In the nine consistories of his pontificate, Pope John Paul II has created 231 cardinals (plus one in pectore), of whom 130 are now eligible to vote in a conclave. Thus 96 percent of the eligible voters were raised to the College of Cardinals by the current Pontiff; the remaining five prelates were elevated by Pope Paul VI.

Catholic World News

John Paul II's new Apostolic Exhortation

'Pastores Gregis' sets out the nature and functions of the episcopal office

Pope John Paul II signed the Postsynodal Apostolic Exhortation Pastores Gregis on 16 October. It summarises the Synod of Bishops' deliberations on the theme, "The Bishop, Servant of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the Hope of the World". The synod was held in the Vatican from 30 September to 28 October 2001.

Commenting on Pastores Gregis, the Holy Father said that in the document "the synodal fathers emphasised the great importance of the episcopal service for the life of the People of God. They underscored the collegial nature of the episcopate. They also stressed that the functions of teaching, sanctifying and governing must be exercised in hierarchal communion and fraternal unity with the Head and other members of the episcopal college."

He continued: "In terms of being a herald of the divine Word, teacher and doctor of the faith, a bishop has the task of teaching the Christian faith with apostolic clarity, proposing it again and again in an authentic way. ... He will proclaim to all the Gospel of life, truth and love. He will look upon the multitude of the poor that inhabit the earth with compassion ... Being shepherds of his flock is especially difficult and demanding. However, we must be hopeful 'contra spem in spem.' Christ walks with us and sustains us with His grace."

How Pope's teaching defends family

Cardinal Trujillo points to world conflict of values

Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo delivered a powerful indictment of efforts to undermine family life, as he made his presentation to an assembly of prelates gathered in Rome for the 25th anniversary of Pope John Paul II's pontificate.

Cardinal Lopez Trujillo, President of the Pontifical Council for the Family, said that the Church must follow the leadership of John Paul in defending the family against a "conspiracy" of hostile political forces.

By helping Christians to recognise a dramatic confrontation between the "culture of life" and the "culture of death," the Holy Father has outlined the essential conflict facing the world at the opening of the 21st century, said Cardinal Trujillo.

He painted a grim picture of the current political situation regarding family life. The family, he said, has come to be seen as "the negation of liberty, and the place of woman's enslavement." Parliamentary bodies, under pressure from special-interest groups, have invented dubious new "rights" that conflict with the role of the family.

Faced with these "efforts to dismantle the family structure, piece by piece," Pope John Paul has rallied a powerful opposing force, the cardinal said. The Pope's public statements have set up "a moral barrier of recognised authority" in defence of the family. And his teachings have helped to revive an understanding - at least among Christians - that "the health of the family, founded on marriage and fidelity, is the best response" to the "culture of death" and the best remedy for all major social problems.

Catholic World News

Catholics in politics

Pope calls for "promotion of perennial human values"

John Paul II highlighted the contradiction of those who disdain political involvement yet take no "responsibility for society's well being".

"The complaints often made against political activity", he said, "don't justify an attitude of disengaged scepticism on a Catholic's part who has the duty, rather, of taking responsibility for society's well-being.

"It's not enough to call for the building of a just and fraternal society. There's also a need to work in a committed and competent way for the promotion of perennial human values in public life, in accord with the correct methods proper to political activity."

Zenit News Service

Anglicans on the brink of schism

Consecration of 'gay' US bishop goes ahead

The worldwide Anglican Communion moved a step nearer to schism as the Diocese of New Hampshire went ahead on 2 November with the consecration of the first openly gay bishop.

Earlier, 37 Anglican primates, headed by Archbishop Rowan Williams, appealed to the US Episcopal Church not to proceed with the consecration of Canon Gene Robinson, who lives with his male lover. But at a press conference, following the two-day emergency Anglican summit in London, Bishop Frank Griswold, representing the American Church said that only "the second coming" would prevent him attending Robinson's consecration.

Archbishop Gregory Venables of the Southern Zone warned that the Anglican Communion was now in danger of schism, with some Anglican churches - particularly those in Africa - refusing to acknowledge their counterpart churches in North America. He said: "We have said this all along. The message is clear. If this consecration goes ahead, the Church will be torn apart."

However, the New Hampshire Diocese issued a statement saying it had "faithfully and prayerfully considered and followed a spirit-led process" in electing Canon Robinson. Despite the warnings of schism the statement confirmed: "We look forward to the consecration on 2 November, believing that God has called him to this ministry."

Catholic World News

BBC bias prompts Catholic protests

UK bishops issue critical statement

The bishops of England and Wales have sharply criticised the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) for bias against the Catholic Church.

The bishops said that the BBC's hostility toward the Church was made evident by the broadcaster's decision to air two different programs criticising Catholicism in the days leading up to the celebration of Pope John Paul's 25th anniversary.

In a 17 October public statement, the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales charged that the BBC broadcasts were "biased against and hostile to the Catholic Church," and said the programs had "given offence to many Catholics."

The bishops went on to say that the timing of the BBC broadcasts - which aired while the attention of the world was turned toward Rome and the Pope's anniversary celebrations, showed at best a gross insensitivity toward Catholic viewers. Worse, they charged that "elements within the BBC are simply hostile to religious belief and to any traditional sense of the sacred."

On 13 October, a special BBC Panorama program titled "Sex and the Holy City" charged that Church teachings on contraception and abortion "bring about widespread poverty and death." A second program, Kenyon Confronts, examined accusations of sexual abuse against Catholic priests. The bishops conceded that the latter program had included "significant disclosures," but said that the overall presentation relied on "contentious and biased reporting."

Now a new pressure group, Catholics Unplug Your Television (CUT) is urging the faithful to switch off their sets and stop paying the TV licence fee which directly funds the BBC.

Scottish Cardinal defends his orthodoxy

But raises further questions

Cardinal Keith O'Brien of St Andrew's and Edinburgh has strongly denied that he said anything against traditional Church teaching at a Mass held just days after he was named as a future cardinal, reports the London Times.

Speaking at a press conference in Rome on 20 October, just hours before he received his red hat, he said: "I would strongly object to the wrong reports that have been circulated about me around the world. I did not say anything against the Church's teachings at that Mass [at St Mary's Cathedral, Edinburgh]."

Cardinal O'Brien said that he hoped to overcome divisions among the Catholic faithful. He then proceeded to illustrate his point by referring to the question of whether women should be ordained to the Catholic priesthood. He said that among Catholics today, "one extreme is for the ordination of women and the other extreme is against." Personally, he preferred not to avoid such contentious discussions, since "we are all for Jesus."

The reports that he had questioned Church teachings, the new cardinal said, "have been hurtful to me. They amount to friendly fire." He insisted that he had "never been lacking with regard to my orthodoxy."

He added: "When I talk about change it's about putting something up for discussion. But when a decision is made by the highest authorities of my Church I am the first to say 'I obey'."

Days after his appointment, Cardinal O'Brien had caused uproar by saying the Church should be "open to discussion" on married priests and homosexual clergy. He later made a profession of faith stressing that he accepted and affirmed "the law on ecclesiastical celibacy as it is proposed by the Magisterium of the Catholic Church, and I accept and promise to defend the ecclesiastical teaching about the immorality of the homosexual act."

The new cardinal's use of the question of women's ordination as an issue on which Catholics are divided is likely to raise still new questions, since the Magisterium has made it clear that the issue is not open for discussion.

Catholic World News

Cardinal George on traditional liturgy

"A precious source of understanding for other rites"

Cardinal Francis George of Chicago has indicated he supports use of the Tridentine-rite liturgy.

In a preface written for a collection produced by the International Committee for Liturgical Studies (CIEL), Cardinal George has referred to the Missal of St Pius V as "a precious source of liturgical understanding for all other rites," and said that the pre-conciliar liturgy should be "better accepted." The work by CIEL, a Versailles-based organisation faithful to the traditional liturgy, was published in France.

Several months after Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos celebrated a Tridentine-rite Mass at the Roman basilica of St Mary Major, Cardinal George said that the Church has reached "a moment of considerable importance" for the future of the traditional liturgy and thus for CIEL. He pointed out that Pope John Paul II has repeatedly mentioned the beauty and depth of the traditional Mass.

A broader use of the old liturgy, he continued, should be more than a "nostalgic revival." The authorised use of the Tridentine rite should be encouraged because the old liturgy "belongs to the entire Church" as part of the patrimony of the faith.

Cardinal George referred in his preface to a forthcoming Vatican document on liturgical norms, which is expected to appear sometime late this year or early in 2004. He said that the new norms should help to foster greater devotion to the Eucharist and expressed the hope that "we are at the dawn of a truly fruitful renewal for the liturgy of the Catholic Church."

Catholic World News

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