Ultimatum for rebel South Brisbane parish
The parish of St Mary's, South Brisbane, may be excommunicated after the local priest, Fr Peter Kennedy, said he would not change his ways despite being warned to do so by Archbishop John Bathersby of Brisbane.
Father Kennedy was responding to the latest letter from Archbishop Bathersby who has given the parish until the end of November to change several of its practices.
In his letter, the Archbishop said several undertakings had not been honoured and that 'games are still being played, as they were in the past'.
He said he was 'prepared to wait until December 1, but no longer. After that I will begin a formal process to address the situation'.
Father Kennedy said the practices at St Mary's had evolved over the years 'from the community'. He strongly criticised the 'hierarchical approach' of the Vatican in 'dictating what should be said in every parish in the world'.
He claimed he was making a stand on behalf of 'recovering Catholics' who had 'walked away from the Church because they can no longer abide this institution which is so oppressive of women, of gay and lesbian people. We are one church community that is prepared to say enough is enough.'
Meanwhile, speaking to the Canberra Times, Bishop Pat Power of Canberra-Goulburn said that St Mary's was a haven to people who had been 'excluded' from their own parishes, Catholic and otherwise. He said canon law required that homilies at Mass must be preached by a deacon or priest.
''I have difficulty with that ruling, but that is how it is.'' Parishes such as St Mary's 'pushed the Church ahead', he affirmed.
'I would have sympathy', he continued, 'for a parish which is reaching out to gay people. So often they feel no one wants to know them. But a bishop has difficulty with those things. I recognise their desire to be part of the Church.
''I have a lot of sympathy and admiration for a parish like this. I know it is hard to find the middle ground'.
US Catholic colleges have little impact on faith
A survey of Catholic college students published by The Cardinal Newman Society's (CNS) Center for the Study of Catholic Higher Education has found that most students on US Catholic campuses reject key Catholic moral and doctrinal teachings.
It is the only known nationally representative survey of students at Catholic colleges and universities, all between the ages of 18 and 29.
The report states that 'most respondents say that the experience of attending a Catholic institution made no difference in their support for the Catholic Church or its teaching or their participation in Catholic Sacraments.'
Key findings indicate that large numbers of students at Catholic colleges and universities are in clear conflict with the Catholic Church:
* Nearly 1 in 5 knew another student who had or paid for an abortion.
* 46% of current and recent students - and 50% of females - said they engaged in sex outside of marriage.
* 84% said they had friends who engaged in premarital sex.
* 60% agreed strongly or somewhat that abortion should be legal.
* 60% agreed strongly or somewhat that premarital sex is not a sin.
* 78% disagreed strongly or somewhat that using a condom to prevent pregnancy was a serious sin.
* 57% agreed strongly or somewhat that same-sex 'marriage' should be legal.
* 57% said the experience of attending a Catholic college or university had no effect on their participation in Mass and the sacrament of reconciliation.
* 54% of respondents said that their experience of attending a Catholic college or university had no effect on their support for the teachings of the Catholic Church.
* 56% said their experience had no effect on their respect for the Pope and bishops.
The entire CNS study, 'Behaviors and Beliefs of Current and Recent Students at U.S. Catholic Colleges,' is available online at www.CatholicHigherEd.org
Pope addresses Catholic-Muslim meeting in Rome
Meeting on 6 November with participants in an unprecedented Catholic- Muslim encounter, Benedict XVI said that the keen public interest in the 'Common Word' initiative should be 'an incentive for us to ensure that the reflections and the positive developments which emerge from Muslim- Christian dialogue are not limited to a small group of experts and scholars, but are passed on as a precious legacy.'
Benedict met with the participants in the Catholic-Muslim meeting in a private audience at the conclusion of their three-day session in Rome. The talks were the result of an invitation the Pope extended to the 138 Islamic leaders who wrote to him and to other Christian leaders in October 2007, calling for greater dialogue between the two faiths.
Christians and Muslims, he said, despite their different beliefs, can find common ground in the understanding that human life and human dignity are gifts from God, recognised as sacred by both faiths. From that understanding, the two faiths can both work toward a common defence of human rights. 'My hope,' said Benedict, 'is that these fundamental human rights will be protected for all people everywhere.'
In a gentle challenge to the world's Islamic leaders - repeating the challenge that he had made in his famous Regensburg address - the Pope said: 'Political and religious leaders have the duty of ensuring the free exercise of these rights in full respect for each individual's freedom of conscience and freedom of religion.' He condemned violence, particularly violence done in the name of religion, and said that 'God's name can only be a name of peace and fraternity, justice and love.'
Benedict concluded by saying that honest dialogue, motivated by goodwill, can 'overcome all misunderstandings and disagreements.' He expressed the hope that Christians and Muslims alike can 'overcome past prejudices and correct the often distorted images of the other which even today can create difficulties in our relations.'
Catholic World News
Religious persecution in India: Vatican appeals
Appeals continue coming from the Vatican on behalf of Christians in India, who face the after-effects of a wave of persecution at the hand of Hindu extremists.
The latest such appeal was made in November by Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches. During his four-day visit to India, he called for an end to all violence 'as a sign of authentic respect for the religious liberty of all the sons and daughters of India.'
Hindu-Christian tensions flared into a wave of violence at the end of August, after extremists blamed the slaying of a Hindu leader on Christians. Dozens of Christians, including a priest, were killed and thousands fled their homes.
Cardinal Sandri's trip centred around a Mass of Thanksgiving for India's first woman saint, Sister Alfonsa of the Immaculate Conception, who was canonised in October by Benedict XVI.
During the Mass, the Cardinal relayed a message to the thousands of people gathered: 'Know that Benedict XVI holds in his heart all those who are suffering in Orissa and other places in your country, and that he prays that peace, like our prayer for daily bread, will be given to all of India, and that all forms of discrimination will disappear'.
The bishops of Orissa have meanwhile petitioned state authorities to rebuild the demolished churches, 'preferably before Christmas.'
Christians, they said, are still leaving their homes in fear, despite assurances from authorities of restored peace, and others have yet to return home due to the threats.
Zenit News Agency
Bathurst priest denies Christ's divinity
'No human being can ever be God, and Jesus was a human being. It is as simple as that,' Bathurst priest Fr Peter Dresser argues in a booklet, God is Big, Real Big, on sale in several Catholic parishes, including St Mary's, South Brisbane.
'This whole matter regarding Jesus being God ... not only does violence to my own intelligence, but must be a sticking point for millions of people trying to make some kind of sense of the Christian religion ... No human being can ever be God, and Jesus was a human being. It is as simple as that,' Fr Dresser of Coonamble argues, according to a recent report in The Australian.
Fr Dresser said he found his own rural flock 'very conservative' and admitted that many of them found his theology difficult to accept. He said he had rethought his approach after taking an interest in science. 'I'm delighted they're opening up the debate at St Mary's,' he said.
In his book, Fr Dresser claims Mary had as many as six children, Joseph was the father of Jesus and the bodily Resurrection is not to be taken literally.
But Sydney lecturer in Church history, Fr Anthony Robbie, said Fr Dresser's claims defied all scriptural evidence.
'What a breathtaking know-all, to claim he knows the mind of Christ contrary to Scripture and Tradition. His words rob Christianity entirely of its meaning and purpose,' Fr Robbie said.
'The Council of Nicaea settled the question that Christ was God in 325, so he is 1,700 years out of date. The rest is a regurgitation of every discredited 19th century liberal Protestant German cliche in the book.'
Marriage definition vote passes in American states
The Archbishop of Los Angeles, Cardinal Roger Mahony, said the California vote on 4 November in favour of Proposition 8 banning gay marriages was the result of 'an unprecedented coalition' that 'understood the importance of maintaining the bedrock institution of marriage.'
Proposition 8 amends the California State Constitution to include a definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman.
Quoting Genesis as God's plan for the human family, the Cardinal said: 'Our collective efforts in the support of Proposition 8 have centred solely around preserving God's plan that marriage between one man and one woman is to be that unchanging reality through which their mutual love becomes fruitful through bringing forth children to continue the human family.
'The raising, formation and education of these children is destined by God to take place within a traditional family of one father and one mother.'
Arizona's Catholic bishops also issued a statement to voters 'of all faiths and walks of life' who joined together to approve their Proposition 102, which will also place a definition of marriage in the state constitution. 'We are especially grateful to have seen the tremendous response of Catholics who rallied around the bishops' efforts to pass this measure.'
That vote brought to 30 the number of states that protect marriage in their Constitutions.
Zenit News Agency