The Church Around the World

The Church Around the World

Benedict XVI announces Year of Faith

Pope XVI Benedict says the Church's "Year of Faith," starting 11 October 2012, comes in response to a "profound crisis of faith that has affected many people" and left them searching for answers.

The Year of Faith will begin on the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council. That same date is the 20th anniversary of Blessed John Paul II's publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, a text Pope Benedict said was meant to show "the power and beauty of the faith." It will conclude on 24 November 2013, the Solemnity of Christ the King.

October 2012 will also be the occasion of the Church's next General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, on the theme of "The New Evangelisation for the Transmission of the Christian Faith." This event, the Pope noted, "will be a good opportunity to usher the whole Church into a time of particular reflection and rediscovery of the faith."

Benedict explained that the Year of Faith would give an opportunity to show how Vatican II's documents support the historic traditions of the Church, when properly understood. He encouraged believers to study the Catechism of the Catholic Church during the upcoming year, saying the text was "one of the most important fruits of the Second Vatican Council."


Dutch nun's online vocation success

Sister Elvira Maria de Witt, DCJ, is an opera singer turned nun who has found a new way to win vocations to the religious life - by going online.

"The Netherlands had a lot of missionaries. I didn't come into this congregation, give up my whole career as a singer - and I was really good - to let it die. Come on Jesus!" the feisty young Dutch religious sister told EWTN News while visiting Rome.

"But I asked myself, where should I find new people?"

So, after considering going to bars and soccer games to find young people, but concluding "I don't think I can go there," she came up with her bold broadband plan. From a slow start in 2001, she now receives up to 300 emails a week, and they are mostly from the young.

Sister Elvira is the novice mistress at the Carmelite Sisters of the Divine Heart of Jesus convent in the southern Dutch city of Maastricht. She believes that her online presence - now extended to Facebook and a blog - is giving answers that are not readily available elsewhere in her country.

"The Netherlands is a good example of how things shouldn't work: there is no catechism in the Catholic schools, there are no Catholic schools - only in name - but inside you see nothing," she said.

Despite those obstacles, the religious vocations keep coming - just not from Catholic households. In fact, the convent's two latest recruits are not even baptised.

"So, there is the whole process of catechism, of telling them about the Catholic faith, asking if it's what they want, being baptised and confirmed," Sister Elvira explained.


Vatican avoids syncretism at Assisi event

With a procession to St Francis Square on 27 October, 176 religious leaders and representatives of non-believers showed that anyone and everyone can and should be a pilgrim seeking truth.

The event focused on reflection, dialogue and prayer for peace and justice in the world and commemorated the gathering Pope John Paul II held in Assisi 25 years ago. The theme this year was "Pilgrims of Truth, Pilgrims of Peace."

This time, however, the Vatican has been careful to avoid any suggestion of syncretism, which was a criticism after the 1986 gathering.

The president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Cardinal Peter Turkson, explained that each representative of world religions would pray according to his own beliefs.

While in Germany in September, Benedict XVI spoke of the objectives for the Assisi meeting. "Through this gathering," he told a group of Muslims in Berlin, "we wish to express, with simplicity, that we believers have a special contribution to make towards building a better world, while acknowledging that if our actions are to be effective, we need to grow in dialogue and mutual esteem."

Cardinal Turkson explained: "The search for truth is a premise for knowing one another better, to overcome all forms of prejudice, but also to overcome syncretism, which clouds identity. For all of us to participate on a common path in search of truth means to recognise [our] own specificity ...".

Zenit News Agency

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