Canberra Catholic hospital controversy
The Australian Capital Territory Government's bid to buy Calvary Public Hospital in Canberra could endanger other public hospitals run by religious organisations, according to Cardinal George Pell as he gave his full support to Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Canberra-Goulburn, who opposes the sale of the 250-bed Catholic-run hospital.
Cardinal Pell said the motives behind the effort to buy the hospital, which is also a leading teaching hospital, appear to be ideologically driven by anti-Christian elements in the ACT's Labor Government.
The Government's offer should be seen in the wider context of hostility to religious participation in public life and service provision. He warned that other religious-run public hospitals would be targeted if the sale of Calvary Public Hospital were successful.
'Whatever the peculiarities of the ACT, what happens at Calvary will inevitably have some effect on other Catholic health care institutions,' Archbishop Coleridge warned. He said the loss of the hospital would also diminish the Catholic voice and Catholic contributions to the current ethical debate concerning the adoption of a Charter of Human Rights.
Cardinal Pell and religious leaders of other faiths have voiced concerns over the proposed Charter, citing the British Human Rights Act of 1998 as an example of a charter that can create severe restrictions on religious freedoms and freedom of speech.
Catholic News Agency
Apostolic Constitution for Anglicans published
On 9 November the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith published the Apostolic Constitution, Anglicanorum coetibus, which provides for personal ordinariates for Anglicans entering into full communion with the Catholic Church, and some Complementary Norms for the same Apostolic Constitution.
An English-language communique states that the Apostolic Constitution introduces a canonical structure providing for corporate reunion by establishing personal ordinariates to allow Anglicans to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church 'while preserving elements of the distinctive Anglican spiritual and liturgical patrimony'.
The Apostolic Constitution contains thirteen sections which concern, among other things: the formation of the new ordinariates which possess 'public juridic personality by the law itself (ipso iure)' and are 'juridically comparable to a diocese'; the power of the ordinary, 'to be exercised jointly with that of the local diocesan bishop in those cases provided for in the Complementary Norms'; candidates for Holy Orders; setting up, with the approval of the Holy See, new Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life; the 'ad limina' visit of the ordinary, etc.
The Complementary Norms concern the jurisdiction of the Holy See; relations with episcopal conferences and diocesan bishops; the ordinary; the faithful of the ordinariate; the clergy; former Anglican bishops; the governing council; the pastoral council, and personal parishes.
Vatican News Service
Christians world's most discriminated against
Archbishop Celestino Migliore, who leads the Holy See's Permanent Observer Mission to the United Nations, addressed the General Assembly in October, drawing attention to widespread anti-Christian persecution.
'Christians are the religious group most discriminated against as there may well be more than 200 million of them, of different confessions, who are in situations of difficulty because of legal and cultural structures that lead to their discrimination.'
Archbishop Migliore reported that in recent months Christian communities in some Asian and Middle Eastern countries have been attacked, leaving many injured and others killed. Their churches and homes were also burned down.
'Such actions were committed by extremists in response to accusations against individuals, perceived - according to anti-blasphemy laws - as being in some way disrespectful of the beliefs of others. In this context, my delegation welcomes and supports the promise of the government of Pakistan to review and amend such laws.'
The archbishop said that blasphemy laws have provided opportunities for extremists to persecute those of different faiths.
He suggested change would come by raising individuals' consciousness and bringing them to a greater understanding of the need to respect others regardless of their faith or cultural background.
Catholic News Agency
Recession: but Irish Mass attendances recovering
More Irish are attending Mass more often during the present economic recession, the Iona Institute for Religion and Society reported on 3 November.
The institute reported the conclusions of a new poll, which showed that two-thirds of people in Ireland attend church at least monthly. This figure has significantly increased from last year's 54%.
Almost half of the Irish now attend Church weekly, up from 42% last year.
Among those aged 18 to 24, some 31% reported attending church weekly, and another 22% stated that they go monthly or more. In comparison, 70% of those over 65 years of age attend church every week.
Zenit News Service
Archbishop Chaput targets health legislation
Writing in his 2 November column, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver warned that all US health care reform proposals, as currently worded, would fund abortions and thus merit vocal opposition.
'Eight weeks ago President Obama promised a joint session of Congress that his health-care plan would not include or provide public monies for abortion,' Archbishop Chaput wrote. 'Eight weeks later, there is no 'president's' plan.
'Instead, as of 1 November, Congress has produced five different proposals, including a merged House version totaling nearly 2,000 pages of complex and sweeping legislation. Few citizens have actually read the text. Even fewer really understand its implications. But all of the proposals have one thing in common: not one of them lives up to the president's promise.'
'To put it bluntly: all of the health-care reform solutions currently facing Congress violate human dignity in potentially grievous ways. Unless these proposals are immediately changed to reflect the concerns of Congressman Stupak, other like-minded members of Congress, and leaders of the national Catholic community, Catholics need to vigorously oppose and help defeat this dangerous legislation É
'The health-care reform debate has been dogged by a pattern of misleading, complex and at times flatly dishonest claims in Congress about the content of the 2,000-page legislation now taking final shape and nearing a vote. Don't be fooled. Contact your senators and representatives. Demand that current health-care proposals be changed to respect Catholic and pro-life concerns. And equally important for all of us: We need to do it now.'
Catholic World News
Swedish Lutherans approve same-sex 'weddings'
The Catholic and Orthodox Churches of Sweden have responded with 'sadness' to the Swedish Lutheran Church General Synod's decision to hold homosexual 'weddings' in churches, saying the move departs from the Christian tradition and will widen the gap between the churches.
Fr Fredrik Emanuelson, head of ecumenical efforts in the Swedish Catholic Church, joined Orthodox representative Fr Misha Jaksic in a statement that said the churches learned of the Lutherans' decision 'with sadness.'
'It is a swing away not only from Christian tradition but also from the point of view of the nature of marriage which is typical of all religions,' they said.
The Lutherans' General Synod expresses a 'radically different vision' from the way in which the Church and Christians understand marriage, they added.
The spokesmen said they were not surprised by the decision because it had been preceded by a long debate which started at the beginning of 2009 after a Swedish law that granted civil marriage to homosexuals took effect.
'None of us want to annul ecumenical dialogue with the Swedish church,' the joint Catholic-Orthodox statement continued. 'However, this decision of the Church of Sweden widens the gap.'
Catholic News Agency
Synod: Africa's 'cancer' of bad governance
Cardinal John Njue, Archbishop of Nairobi and President of Kenya's episcopal conference, speaking at the Synod of African Bishops last October, said many African nations 'struggle under bad governance where unchecked hunger for power has led to impunity, corruption, manipulation of people, and other similar social political evils bled from human hearts in need of conversion. This is what has impoverished the people across the continent.
'Bad governance ... by and large can be termed the cancer of Africa. This synod gives us a special opportunity to reflect on the cancer that is eating up our continent. Good governance is not only a priority but a must. I can as well add that politics in Africa is so important that we cannot leave it to politicians alone ... The time to act constructively is now!'
Cardinal Njue's thoughts were echoed by Bishop Timothée Modibo-Nzockena of Franceville, President of the episcopal conference of Gabon, as well as by many of the 21 synod fathers.
Bishop Modibo-Nzockena observed: 'Our region of Central Africa continues to be the theatre of injustices, division and untenable violence. This makes our present life difficult and mortgages the future of our countries. Poverty grasps most of the populations. Social evils take on an alarming breadth.'
As for solutions, Bishop Menghisteab Tesfamariam of Asmara, Eritrea, pointed to the family as 'the first and indispensable school of reconciliation, justice and peace' since 'it is in the family that one learns the sense of belonging and identity, and the values of solidarity, sharing, respect for others, hospitality, togetherness.
Zenit News Agency
Crucifix removal: Italy defies European court
Italy's Minister of Education, Mariastella Gelmini, has rejected the ruling by the European Court of Human Rights in favour of removing crucifixes from public schools. She stated, 'Nobody, much less a European court that is steeped in ideology, will be allowed to strip our identity away.'
The court ruled the presence of crucifixes in classrooms could be a 'bother' to students who practise other faiths or who are atheists and that the State should abstain from imposing beliefs in public places. 'Religious neutrality should be observed in the context of public education,' the court ruled.
The case was filed before the court by an Italian mother of two boys aged 11 and 13 who attended public school from 2001-2002 in the town of Abano Terme in northeastern Italy. Crucifixes were hung in each classroom.
After losing in the Italian courts, the woman filed her suit before the European Court, which ruled in her favour and ordered that she be paid 5,000 euros in damages. Italian officials said the ruling would be appealed.
Minister Gelmini rejected the ruling and told reporters, 'The presence of crucifixes in the classroom does not signify adhesion to Catholicism, but rather represents our tradition.'
While affirming that nobody 'in this country wants to impose the Catholic religion,' she noted that the Italian constitution 'rightly recognises the value of the Catholic religion for our society.'
Former Minister of Culture, Rocco Buttiglione, said the ruling was 'abhorrent.' He called for it to be strongly rejected saying, 'Italy has its culture, its traditions and its history. Those who come among us should understand and accept this culture and this history.'
Catholic News Agency