Cardinal Arinze targets liturgical abuses
Speaking at the Catholic Institute of Paris on 26 October, Cardinal Francis Arinze, the Prefect for the Congregation of Divine Worship, spoke out against the 'banalisation, desacralisation and secularisation of the liturgy.' He rebuked priests who take an 'overtly egocentric' approach to the liturgy, violating the norms of the Church, and those priests whose 'false humility' leads them to 'share their role with the laity.'
The liturgy, he pointed out, 'is not a domain in which free exploration reigns'. Many liturgical abuses could be traced to 'the undue place given to spontaneity, or creativity or perhaps a false idea of liberty or even that error that goes by the name of 'horizontalism,' which consists in placing man at the centre of the liturgical celebration instead of directing attention upward, that is towards Christ.'
Cardinal Arinze said that priests should deliver homilies that are 'rooted in Sacred Scripture,' rather than offering thoughts based on sociology, psychology or politics. He reminded his French audience that priests are ordained to proclaim the Word of God rather than to offer their insights on matters that lay people can study equally well. By interfering in the province of the laity, he added, priests confuse their own role, and 'that always causes damage.'
In an address that repeated themes frequently set forth in Vatican documents, the Cardinal concluded with the observation that 'the liturgy is not the property of anyone - neither the celebrant nor the community in which the mysteries are celebrated.' He exhorted priests to approach the Mass with reverence and an appreciation for their own role in the Eucharistic mystery.
Catholic World News
Cardinal George: faith and reason needed in politics
Catholics must form their consciences according to the social teaching of the Church and use that formation to make political choices, said Cardinal Francis George of Chicago in his weekly column in the archdiocese's Catholic New World in October.
'Conscience is not an excuse for doing something irrational,' he wrote in his column, titled 'Religion, reason, voting', noting that the dialogue between faith and reason in the United States becomes focused every couple of years during voting time.
He acknowledged that making political decisions based on a conscience formed in Catholic social teaching 'is not easy, because principles are clear but practice often is clouded by confusion of fact and the distraction of various forms of self- interest.'
Referring to The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, published by the Holy See in 2004, Cardinal George stressed the importance of the dignity of every person and the right to life as the first and most essential principle of Catholic social teaching. 'This is a non-negotiable principle that is supported by our beliefs but is logically independent of our faith,' he said.
He also described Catholic politicians who excuse their decision to allow the killing of the unborn or others who cannot protect themselves, because they don't want to 'impose Catholic doctrine on others', as 'intellectually dishonest.'
He added, 'Our present legal system protects stocks and bonds, as well as dogs and cats, more than it protects unborn human beings. This is contrary to the common good.'
The Cardinal also announced that the Catholic Bishops of Illinois had published a short statement on elections, conscience, and the responsibility to vote.
He described it as a resource for Catholics 'who want to take seriously both their faith and their responsibility to the common good of our society.'
Catholic News Agency
Extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion
Benedict XVI has directed that extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion will no longer be permitted to assist in the purification of the sacred vessels at Masses in the United States.
In a letter dated 23 October, Bishop William S. Skylstad, President of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, asked his fellow bishops to inform all pastors of the change, which was prompted by a letter from Cardinal Francis Arinze, Prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments.
The American bishops had asked the Vatican to extend an indult in effect since 2002 allowing extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion to help cleanse the Communion cups and plates when there were not enough priests or deacons to do so.
Bishop Skylstad said Cardinal Arinze asked Pope Benedict about the matter during a 9 June audience, 'and received a response in the negative.'
Noting that the General Instruction of the Roman Missal 'directs that the sacred vessels are to be purified by the priest, the deacon or an instituted acolyte,' the cardinal said in his 12 October letter that 'it does not seem feasible, therefore, for the congregation to grant the requested indult from this directive in the general law of the Latin Church.'
Catholic News Service
No such thing as a 'right to a child'
A renowned Peruvian doctor who has published a book on the ethical and moral problems of assisted reproduction said on 24 October, 'Although many couples think they have a right to have a child no matter how, morally speaking this right is non- existent.'
Dr Luis Raez, oncologist and professor of medicine at the University of Miami, was in Lima to present his new book, Risks and Problems of In-Vitro Fertilization: From Cloning to the Destruction of Human Embryos.
In an interview with the Peruvian daily El Comercio, Raez said that with the false premise that the ends justify the means, 'many parents assert that since they want to have a child, it doesn't matter if it comes through a neighbour, a donor, or from rent-a-womb.'
Dr Raez added: 'In-vitro fertilisation [IVF] breaks natural law: there are no more rules because you are manipulating the process according to your own whims and you are eliminating the natural relationships of motherhood and fatherhood, of parents and children, because the principle that is held up is that of everything goes. The child, on the other hand, does have a right to a father and a mother.'
He also noted that IVF is far from technically perfect, since a number of embryos are killed during the process of implantation in the woman's uterus. 'Since people can't see them, perhaps they don't consider it a problem. But embryos are human beings. What happens if two or three embryos are implanted at the same time? The woman would have a high-risk pregnancy, but if she only wants one, then the left- over embryos would have to be killed.'
Referring to the role of legislation in such matters, Raez said laws should protect and guarantee the security of the human being rather than politically endorsing what suits a particular group. 'Scientific advances have to be at the service of man because the problems occur when scientists begin to play God, kill embryos and make the life of the human being relative in accord with their economic interests.'
Catholic News Agency
Benedict XVI addresses Irish bishops
On 28 October, Benedict XVI received bishops from the Irish Episcopal Conference who had just completed their ad limina visit.
In his address, the Pope called on the bishops to help their faithful 'to recognise the inability of the secular, materialist culture to bring true satisfaction and joy' and to be 'bold in speaking to them of the joy that comes from following Christ and living according to His commandments.'
The Pope added that while speaking out 'strongly against the evils that threaten us we must correct the idea that Catholicism is merely 'a collection of prohibitions.' Sound catechesis and careful 'formation of the heart' are needed'.
To be avoided were 'superficial presentations of Catholic teaching' since 'only the fullness of the faith can communicate the liberating power of the Gospel,' he said, at the same time underlining the importance of 'exercising vigilance over the quality of the syllabuses and the course-books used' in schools.
Benedict recalled how 'at one time, Ireland was blessed with ... an abundance of priestly and religious vocations,' but in recent years the number had fallen sharply. 'Pray, therefore, the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into His harvest,' he told the bishops.
'I am pleased', he said, 'to learn that many of your dioceses have adopted the practice of silent prayer for vocations before the Blessed Sacrament. This should be warmly encouraged. Yet above all, it falls to you, the bishops, and to your clergy to offer young people an inspiring and attractive vision of the ordained priesthood.
"Even if Christian commitment is considered unfashionable in some circles, there is a real spiritual hunger and a generous desire to serve others among the young people of Ireland.'
Vatican Information Service
US Guidelines on reception of Communion
A new document, drafted by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), is likely to raise the issue once again about whether pro- abortion politicians, as well as those in favour of abortion, may receive Communion. The document also sets out what the Catholic Church believes about the Eucharist, who may receive Communion, and how Catholics can prepare to receive the sacrament more worthily.
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Eucharist is the 'source and summit of the Christian life' which brings the faithful into communion with Christ and as a community of believers.
The statement says Catholics should prepare to receive Communion by regular prayer and Scripture reading, the Sacrament of Penance, fasting, wearing modest dress to church, and coming to Mass in a prayerful state of mind.
It reiterates Church teaching that, with few exceptions, only Catholics may receive Communion at a Catholic Mass and that Catholics should refrain from the sacrament when they are not in a state of grace because of mortal sin.
In 2004, the USCCB concluded that each bishop would act independently in his own diocese with regard to pro-abortion politicians. Many bishops have indicated they hope the present document will assist in establishing common practices for all American bishops regarding distribution of Communion to pro- abortion politicians.
Catholic News Agency
Scientific progress and supernatural faith
Meeting on 6 November with members of the Pontifical Academy of the Sciences, Benedict XVI said Christianity did not insist upon any inevitable conflict between 'supernatural faith and scientific progress'. He assured the scientists that the Church supports their scientific research so long as it is a sincere search for the truth.
The scientists met the Pope during the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Academy, which was considering the theme, 'Predictability in Science: Accuracy and Limitations.'
Benedict noted that some people 'have seen in the progress of modern science and technology one of the main causes of secularisation and materialism: why invoke God's control over these phenomena when science has shown itself capable of doing the same thing?
'We could say that the work of predicting, controlling and governing nature, which science today renders more practicable than in the past, is itself a part of the Creator's plan.'
Christianity, he said, 'does not posit an inevitable conflict between supernatural faith and scientific progress'.
However, he concluded, 'man cannot place in science and technology so radical and unconditional a trust as to believe that scientific and technological progress can explain everything and completely fulfil all his existential and spiritual needs. Science cannot replace philosophy and revelation by giving an exhaustive answer to man's most radical questions: questions about the meaning of living and dying, about ultimate values, and about the nature of progress itself'.
Catholic News Agency