The future of Anglo-Catholics
Pope Benedict XVI, acting through the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus, established the Anglican Ordinariate in October 2009 to help Anglicans who wish to become Catholic while preserving many of their unique traditions.
Damian Thompson, writing in the London Daily Telegraph reports that senior Catholic Church figures in England expect the new jurisdiction to accommodate "thousands" of converts. Already the Anglican parish of St Peter in Folkestone has declared its intention to become Catholic, as has the Anglican Bishop of Fulham John Broadhurst, chairman of the Anglican group Forward in Faith.
Thompson says that Bishop Broadhurst once thought the Anglican tradition called Anglo-Catholicism was worth fighting for. "Now he knows that the battle is lost."
However, Thompson believes the future of the Anglican Ordinariate is not with bishops, such as Bishop Broadhurst, but rather with younger Anglo-Catholic clergy and "thousands of committed lay people."
"The important thing is that they believe that the intellectual case for traditional Anglo-Catholicism is no longer tenable. The High Church wing of the (Church of England) has moved in a liberal protestant direction: it has reached an accommodation with women priests and will do so with women bishops, too."
By contrast, says Thompson, the election of Pope Benedict XVI and his visit to England has helped "tip the balance" for Benedict appreciates the achievements of Anglo-Catholicism and believes that the best Anglo-Catholic worship retains elements of Catholic patrimony that will be "restored" to the Western Church.
While Anglican converts will face obstacles from "philistine RC liberals," Thompson cites a Catholic priest who says these Anglicans should consider who they have on their side: "The Pope. Blessed John Henry Newman. And the Holy Spirit."
Thompson says he is "more and more convinced" that the Apostolic Constitution will bear fruit in "new, evangelistic parish communities" that will challenge "sluggish mediocrity among some Catholics."
London Daily Telegraph
Chinese Christians suffer more harassment
As organisers prepared for the opening of the Third Lausanne International Congress on World Evangelization on 16 October in Cape Town, South Africa, Chinese police threatened or detained some 200 delegates who had hoped to attend.
After receiving an invitation to attend the event, house church groups in China formed a selection committee and raised significant funds to pay the expenses of their chosen delegates. Many delegates, however, were "interviewed" by authorities after they applied to attend the Congress.
When house church member Abraham Liu Guan and four other delegates attempted to leave China via Beijing airport on 10 October, authorities refused to allow them through customs. Officials detained one delegate and confiscated the passports of the other four until 25 October, the closing date of the conference.
China's State Administration for Religious Affairs and the Ministry of Public Security had notified border control staff that the participation of Chinese Christians in the conference threatened state security and ordered them not to allow delegates to leave, Liu told the US-based National Public Radio (NPR).
When Fan Yafeng, leader of the Chinese Christian Legal Defense Association and winner of the 2009 John Leland Religious Liberty Award, discussed the harassment with NPR, officials assigned some 20 police officers to keep him under house arrest.
On 13 October, approximately 1,000 police officers were stationed at Beijing International Airport to restrain an estimated 100 house church members who planned to leave for the Congress via Beijing.
China's Foreign Ministry spokesman, Ma Zhaoxu, in a statement issued to NPR, accused the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization of communicating secretively with members of illegal congregations and not issuing an official invitation to China's state-controlled church.
In an open letter to Chinese President Hu Jintao on 1 October, China's National Day, Pastor Zhang Mingxuan, president of the Chinese Christian House Church Alliance, said that Chinese house church Christians respected the law and were "model citizens," and yet they had become "the target of a group of government bandits ... [who] often arrest and beat innocent Christians and wronged citizens." Further, "House church Christians have been ill-treated simply because they are petitioners to crimes of the government."
Zhang then listed several recent incidents in which Christians were arrested and sent to labour camps, detained and fined without cause, beaten, interrogated and otherwise abused. He also described the closure or demolition of house churches and the confiscation of personal and church property.
Human Rights Without Frontiers
Argentinian Archbishop targets UN agenda
Archbishop Hector Aguer of La Plata, Argentina, has criticised the United Nations for spreading ideologies that fail to respect fundamental human rights and the family. In his weekly TV program, Keys to a Better World, Archbishop Aguer pointed to the cultural changes taking place in Argentina through laws put forth by a self-proclaimed "progressive" minority.
The changes, he said, were totally foreign to the nation's cultural tradition, for example, when the country legalised same-sex "marriage" in July. These moves, he added, were part of a global plan based at "the United Nations and a series of its satellite organisations."
All this, he claimed was part of a well-funded worldwide agenda "to homogenise thought and conduct." It was, indeed, "a new form of colonialism, a new imperialism."
The Archbishop denounced the UN for its anti-human and anti-Christian positions and for undermining natural law with its officials promoting "contraception, abortion and other supposed women's rights founded upon gender ideology."
Catholic News Agency
French cemetery desecrations increasing
A report of the general directory of the Gendarmerie Nationale underlines the fact that most desecrations in France since 2005 have been aimed at Catholic cemeteries and hallowed places.
According to the report, no less than 184 tomb degradations were registered last year alone, which are only 19 cases fewer than in 2008. Since 2005, hallowed places have been desecrated every other day. "Perpetrated crimes in cemeteries are mostly degradations of steles, ornaments and inscriptions", the report states, adding that 95% of listed desecrations are "in their majority directed at Christian tombs and churches."
In the country and suburbs, around 122 communal cemeteries and 34 Catholic worship centres and 18 war memorials were targeted in 2009. The report notes that desecrators usually act on 30 April, the date of Hitler's birthday and of the foundation of the Church of Satan in the United States.
Many acts are also observed on 31 October, the date for Halloween and the Satanist new-year, but also on solstices and equinoxes.
"Generally, investigations do not allow [us] to determine the real motivations of desecrators", declared the gendarmes. Indeed, the elements of proof that are gathered sometimes cause confusion, for example, swastikas along with Satanist graffiti.
If acts are attributed to "worshippers of the devil", they are qualified as a "minority". Analysts of the Criminal Affairs Office (Bureau des Affaires Criminelles) observe that "among all acts that were registered in 2009, most are assumed to be related to Satanism (destruction of crosses or turning crosses upside down)."
Human Rights Without Frontiers
Cardinal Burke's Red Hat welcomed
The Cardinal Newman Society has welcomed the appointment of Archbishop Raymond Burke as a cardinal. Archbishop Burke is prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, and the ecclesiastical advisor of The Center for the Advancement of Catholic Higher Education, a division of the Cardinal Newman Society.
Benedict XVI named 24 new cardinals on 20 October, including two from the United States: Archbishop Burke and Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl of Washington, DC. The new cardinals were installed in a special consistory at the Vatican on 20 November.
The president of the Cardinal Newman Society, Patrick J. Reilly, explained that "Cardinal-designate Burke has been a tireless advocate for the renewal of Catholic higher education and a proponent of strong Catholic identity."
Reilly added: "Catholic colleges are expected to conform to Ex Corde Ecclesiae, an application of Canon Law, so we greatly value the perspective of the Prefect of the Catholic Church's highest court. And as cardinal and counsellor to the Holy Father, his keen insight into American education, culture and politics becomes even more valuable to the Church."
Catholic News Agency
Christian massacre in Baghdad
"Nowhere is safe anymore, not even the House of God", said auxiliary Bishop of Baghdad of the Chaldeans, Shlemon Warduni, the day after an unprecedented attack on the Christian community on 31 October.
Together with Patriarch Delly he visited survivors and wounded of the Sunday massacre, in which around 50 hostages and police officers were killed when security forces raided a Baghdad church to free more than 100 Iraqi Catholics held hostage by al Qaeda-linked gunmen. Between 70 and 80 people were seriously wounded, many of them women and children.
The terrorists, some wearing suicide vests, had taken hostages at the Syriac Catholic Church of Our Lady of Salvation, one of Baghdad's largest, during Sunday Mass and demanded the release of al Qaeda prisoners in Iraq and Egypt.
Archbishop Georges Casmoussa, the Syriac Catholic Archbishop of Mosul, commented, "What we are asking for and we repeat this appeal, is that our governors and the international community push to bring peace to Iraq and push for the formation of a responsible government, so there is some authority over the situation here in Iraq."
Church leaders have long warned that the political vacuum created by the failure to agree on a government formation following the March 2010 elections has left the door open to increased extremist infiltration and insecurity.
"The ultimatum of these terrorists, [for the release of Al Qaeda prisoners and the formation of an Islamic state in Iraq] is not our problem it is for other people to deal with", continued Archbishop Casmoussa. "Our problem is insecurity in our country. We are not against anyone. If they want an Islamic government, if they want power then they should try to obtain it by instilling confidence in the population, not fear".
The first victims of the terrorists were the priests who had been celebrating Mass. "I knew them both very well," said Bishop Warduni. "They were former students, both very young, both very committed to their vocation and community."
Vatican Information Service
New seminary for Washington, DC
Cardinal-designate Donald Wuerl, the Archbishop of Washington, DC, is seeing an increased interest in the priesthood in his archdiocese, and announced on 20 October that the archdiocese would be opening a new seminary.
He said: "At a time when the teachings of the Catholic faith seem counter-cultural, we are seeing an increased interest in the priesthood, particularly among younger men who want to be a part of a new evangelisation in society.
"Until now, most of our new seminarians, especially those in college, have had to leave the area for their studies. Now, the men will begin their formation here and be an integral part of the local Catholic community from the beginning."
The Archdiocese of Washington has 67 seminarians and Msgr Robert Panke, archdiocesan director of priestly vocations and president of the National Conference of Diocesan Vocations Directors, is overseeing the development of the new seminary. He noted that the archdiocese has annually accepted between nine and 15 aspiring seminarians in recent years.
Last year, 1,443 men were in college seminaries in the US, and 3,483 in pretheology or theology, according to Georgetown University's Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate. After three decades of decline, seminary enrolment has stabilised over the past 15 years.
Zenit News Agency