Opus Dei founder to be canonised
John Paul II to set date
Josemaria Escrivà de Balaguer, founder of Opus Dei, (along with Padre Pio and Juan Diego), will soon be canonised saints, following John Paul II's approval on 20 December 2001 of three decrees recognising miracles attributed to their intercession.
Cardinal José Saraiva Martins, Prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Causes of Saints, presented to the Pope the ecclesiastical investigations that came to this conclusion. The Holy Father must now decide the dates for their canonisations.
The Cardinal spoke of Blessed Escrivà de Balaguer (1902-1975) as an "eminent figure of the Church of the 20th century. With tireless fervour he promoted lay sanctity and with many initiatives took the leaven of the Gospel to the society of our time."
The Medical Consultants of the Vatican Congregation for the Causes of the Saints had concluded proceedings to evaluate whether a cure, attributed to the intercession of Blessed Josemaria Escrivà, could be declared "scientifically inexplicable." After many consultations with the patient, careful diagnostic tests, interrogation of dozens of witnesses and examination of all the documentation, the doctors unanimously concluded that the cure was scientifically inexplicable.
The recovered patient is a Spanish orthopedic surgeon named Manuel Nevado Rey. He had suffered from radiodermatitis, a malady common among surgeons who, until recently, had had to work with dangerous X-ray machines.
The Consultants determined there had never been a documented case of a cure of this skin disease caused by exposure to X-rays, which leads to cancerous growths.
John Paul II underlines key role of parish priest
Church should not "resign" itself to priest shortage
Pope John Paul on 23 November 2001 received participants in the plenary assembly of the Congregation for the Clergy, which met in the Vatican on the theme "The Priest, Pastor and Guide of the Parish Community."
In his speech to the congregation members, the Pope stressed that only an ordained priest can be appointed as a valid pastor and that parishioners may collaborate but may never take a priest's place. He also underscored the importance, in a parish priest's life, of good preaching, of the vital nature of the Sunday celebration of the Eucharist and keeping holy the sabbath, of teaching the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, and of not allowing canonically approved consulting bodies to go beyond their duties as consultants.
Remarking that "the priest in persona Christi celebrates the Sacrifice of the Mass and administers the Sacraments," the Holy Father then affirmed: "For a parish to have a priest as its own pastor is of fundamental importance ... Where there are no priests with faith and perseverance, prayers must be offered, beseeching the Lord for numerous and holy vocations."
"It would be a fatal error," he concluded, "to resign ourselves to the current difficulties and behave as if we must prepare the Church of tomorrow, envisaged as deprived of priests."
Vatican Information Service
Dead Sea Scrolls to be published in entirety
First volume due in 2002
The Dead Sea Scrolls are to be published in their entirety for the first time since their discovery almost half a century ago in caves near the Dead Sea. "It's a very happy moment that we can say today that all this is completed," Emmanuel Tov, the project's editor in chief, said on 15 November at the New York Public Library.
"After 54 years of excitement, expectation, tribulation, much criticism, and a little praise, with the help of much inspiration and even more perspiration, the publication has been finalised," he said.
The 900 scrolls, dating from 250 BC to 70 AD, were discovered in a series of caves between 1947 and 1956. The scrolls, primarily written in Hebrew and Aramaic on more than 15,000 leather and papyrus documents, were found near the ruins of the ancient settlement Hirbet Qumran, nine miles south of Jericho. They are believed to have been written by the Essenes, an austere and insular Hebrew sect.
Among the finds was the oldest and most complete copy of the Book of Isaiah, a unique copper scroll that some believe was a list of treasures evacuated from the Temple in Jerusalem before the city was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD. They also contain prayer texts, biblical interpretations, fragments of poetry, com- positions on wisdom, and various sectarian documents.
The finished volumes are being published by Oxford University Press under the general title Discoveries in the Judean Desert. The introductory volume is to be published early this year with a history of the project and list of all the texts in the various volumes.
Catholic World News
Media blind spot on bioethical issues
Archbishop Foley cites stem cell research and euthanasia
Medical breakthroughs are not always respectful of human life, and journalists need to say so, warned an international conference on "Health and Power" last November, an initiative of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers.
Archbishop John P. Foley, President of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, was the Catholic Church's spokesman for this concern at the three-day conference.
In his address to the gathering of scientists, doctors, theologians, specialists and university professors, held in the Vatican's synodal hall, the Archbishop pointed to stem-cell research and euthanasia as examples. In both these cases, he said, the media have not always respected "the inviolable and inalienable rights of the weak in the womb or near the tomb."
Archbishop Foley pointed out some principles that must direct the conduct of the media when it comes to medical questions.
Journalists should understand that "not every technological breakthrough is necessarily a moral triumph; thus, do readers the favour of subjecting technological advances to valid moral criticism."
Echoing the study on Ethics in Communication, published by the Council for Social Communications, Archbishop Foley highlighted three principles:
* "First, it is necessary to know the truth - scientific, economic and moral - about medical discoveries and health care policies;
* "Second, the rights of those who are suffering, and especially the inviolable right to life, must be treated as paramount;
* "Third, the implications for the common good, and not merely the economic profit for a few, must be considered."
Zenit News Service
Abortion of "unwanted" twins
Newspaper poll shows strong opposition
A news item in the Herald Sun (28 November) reported that a Melbourne woman had aborted one of her unborn twins, conceived using IVF, because she feared she could not cope with both children. Details of the case emerged after a visiting US expert suggested all parents of multiple births should consider "fetal reduction".
The news item sparked furious debate among doctors, church groups and ethicists.
A question for the Herald Sun daily Voteline poll asked "Should abortions of unwanted twins be allowed?"
The result, published the following day, showed 1429 No (95.6 per cent) and 66 Yes (4.4 per cent).
Mother Angelica suffers stroke on Christmas Eve
Doctors pleased with her progress
Doctors at the Birmingham, Alabama, hospital where Mother Angelica has been a patient since suffering a stroke on Christmas Eve said on 11 January that they were pleased with how the Foundress of EWTN was responding to treatment.
Mother Angelica underwent a two-hour operation soon after the stroke to remove a blood clot from her brain. The Mother Vicar of Our Lady of the Angels Monastery, Sister Mary Catherine, said doctors told her that Mother was doing very well.
"Her doctors are pleased with Mother's improvement," she said. "Although they have not moved Mother from intensive care to a private room, we expect that to happen soon."
Earlier in January, doctors had upgraded the 78-year-old nun's condition from serious to fair.
EWTN also announced that it has initiated a "Spiritual Bouquet" for Mother Angelica on its web site www.ewtn.com where visitors may indicate their offering of prayer for Mother's full recovery. This may include Rosaries, Novenas, Masses, Holy Communions, Holy Hours and individual prayers. A similar Spiritual Bouquet for Mother Angelica was offered on EWTN's web site last year to celebrate her 77th birthday.
Sister Mary Catherine said the nuns at Our Lady of the Angels Monastery are requesting that prayers for Mother's Spiritual Bouquet be directed particularly through the intercession of Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos, a 19th century Redemptorist priest who worked in the US and through whose intercession many miraculous cures have been obtained.
Australian Catholic student organisation
New lease of life following National Council meeting
The relatively little-known International Movement of Catholic Students Australia (IMCSA) was given a new lease of life during its recent annual National Council meeting held in Sydney on 3-4 December 2001.
The IMCSA has existed in Australia in one form or another since the 1950s and throughout this period has received support and official recognition from the National Bishops Conference of Australia. For most of its existence it has been affiliated with the International Movement of Catholic Students (IMCS), an organisation established in 1921.
In recent years IMCSA has been in decline, with participation limited to a small number of students from three or four university groups in New South Wales and Queensland. It was believed the organisation would be formally wound up during this recent National Council meeting.
However, several enthusiastic members of the 2001 National Team believed IMCSA did have a future and could play a key role in the "new evangelisation" called for by Pope John Paul II. These members sent out an open call to all tertiary Catholic groups and students, inviting them to attend the National Council meeting.
A large number responded and for the first time in many years students representing tertiary Catholic groups in Victoria, Western Australia and South Australia attended, as well as Catholic societies and students from NSW and Queensland who were previously unaware of the IMCSA.
Planning is already well underway for the next National Council meeting to be held in Sydney during April, aiming to build on this new- found interest and enthusiasm. This meeting could see the setting up of a national conference for tertiary students and a program concentrating on intellectual and spiritual formation in the Faith.
Key Vatican cardinals due to retire
Speculation over successors
The Italian daily Il Messaggero published a speculative report last December on possible successors for three key Church officials who are nearing the official retirement age of 75: Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Vatican Secretary of State; Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; and Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, Archbishop of Milan.
All three will turn 75 during 2002. At that age, all are required to submit their resignations to the Holy Father.
Cardinal Martini's birthday is 15 February. Il Messaggero speculates that his successor, as head of the largest diocese in Europe, may be Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi of Genoa or Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
Cardinal Ratzinger will turn 75 on 16 April. It is already widely understood that he has tendered his resignation, only to be asked by the Pope to continue his work there. Il Messaggero believes he will eventually be replaced by Cardinal Christoph Schšnborn of Austria, or possibly Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the Pope's vicar for the Rome Archdiocese.
Cardinal Sodano will not reach 75 until 23 November 2002. At that time, it is suggested, his successor could be one of the two archbishops presently serving as his assistants: Leonardo Sandri or Jean-Louis Tauran.
Catholic World News