Church's duty to spread the Faith
Acknowledging 'a growing confusion about the Church's missionary mandate,' the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) released a 19-page document on 14 December strongly defending the right and duty of all Catholics to spread the faith.
The document states at the outset (quoting Pope John Paul II), 'Every person has the right to hear the Good News.' For Catholics, the CDF adds, 'This right implies the corresponding duty to evangelise.'
The Catholic Church has been criticised in recent years for efforts to attract new believers. The Moscow patriarchate has complained bitterly about 'proselytism' in Russia while in India, militant Hindus have charged that missionaries undermine the country's culture with their conversion campaigns.
Some theologians have suggested that the Church should recognise the equal merits of other religions, but the CDF has issued warnings about the works of some Catholic theologians who have taken that line.
In a detailed answer to such views, the CDF affirms that while Catholics should respect believers of other faiths, and should never engage in coercion or manipulation, the faithful still must do their best to spread the truths of the Gospel, and encourage others to enter the Catholic Church.
At a Vatican press conference introducing the new document, Cardinal Francis Arinze, the prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, remarked, 'Indeed if a Christian did not try to spread the Gospel by sharing the excelling knowledge of Jesus Christ with others, we could suspect that Christian either of lack of total conviction on the faith, or of selfishness and laziness in not wanting to share the full and abundant means of salvation with his fellow human beings.'
In a passage that seemed to answer the complaints of the Russian Orthodox Church, the CDF issued a special caution to missionaries working in places where other Christian denominations are strongly entrenched. In those societies, the document says, Catholic evangelists should show 'true respect for the tradition and spiritual riches of such countries as well as a sincere spirit of cooperation.'
Catholic World News
Benedict XVI advises caution on climate change
Benedict XVI has cautioned against extremism on climate change, advising that any solutions to global warming must be based on firm evidence and not on dubious ideology.
His remarks, deriving from his annual message for World Peace Day, titled 'The Human Family, A Community of Peace' and released on 1 January, were, according to a London Daily Mail report, conveyed to delegates from 190 countries meeting in Bali in December for UN climate change talks.
Benedict suggested that fears over man-made emissions melting the ice caps and causing a wave of unprecedented disasters were nothing more than scare-mongering.
While some concerns may be valid it was vital that the international community based its policies on science rather than the dogma of the environmentalist movement.
The world, he said, needed to care for the environment but not to the point where the welfare of animals and plants was given a greater priority than that of mankind.
'It is important', he continued, 'for assessments in this regard to be carried out prudently, in dialogue with experts and people of wisdom, uninhibited by ideological pressure to draw hasty conclusions, and above all with the aim of reaching agreement on a model of sustainable development capable of ensuring the well-being of all while respecting environmental balances.'
Archbishop Hart to priests: be at 'one' with the Church
In his address at a meeting of the Melbourne Council of Priests on 11 December 2007, Archbishop Denis Hart referred to a recent petition (including a call for women priests) that had been circulated - and even promoted - in a number of parishes. He also commented on Bishop Geoffrey Robinson's book and urged unity with the universal Church on liturgy.
The following are extracts from his address.
'Recently we have heard a number of discordant voices pleading for a vision of the Church, which is not that of Jesus Christ and not that of our Holy Father and the Bishops. In our Diocese and its constituent parishes I believe you need to be one with me in promoting only those things which are consonant with the teaching and discipline of the Church, not allowing to be promoted in any way in parishes or in bulletins anything which is contrary to that.
'Let me give three examples:
'Recently the Collins/Purcell petition has been seeking to present to the Australian Bishops a request concerning the criteria for ordination to the priesthood. None of these matters are the competency of the bishops, but pertain to the Holy See. Some of them are directly contrary to the declaration of Pope John Paul II that the Catholic Church does not have the capacity to ordain women to the priesthood.
'When Paul Collins and Frank Purcell wrote to me at the end of October, I indicated to them that I could not endorse either the petition or the Camberwell Civic Centre gathering.
'I used these words: 'While acknowledging the challenges we face, in the provision of priests, the Archdiocese of Melbourne now and in the future, will remain totally faithful to the dispositions of the Holy See concerning who may be ordained to the priesthood. We will continue vigorous promotion of vocations and accept the assistance of priests from other countries in our time of need.
''We remain totally committed to celibate priesthood as the norm for the Latin Rite.
''I would also wish to indicate that it is not within the competence of any bishop to derogate from the provisions of the Universal Church. Therefore to this extent your idea of a petition is misleading and will I fear lead to inevitable frustration on the part of the petitioners.'
'Secondly, a number of the assertions in Bishop Geoffrey Robinson's recent book concerning Original Sin, Ordination, Divorce and Remarriage, the Papacy and Sexual Morality, will in due time, I am sure, be judged by the Church. Grave harm is caused if an impression is created among the faithful that the Church teaching in these serious matters is in a state of flux or under review. Our mission is to teach and live constantly what the Magisterium teaches.
'Thirdly, in a recent issue of the [Brisbane] Catholic Leader, Elizabeth Harrington in response to Redemptionis Sacramentum and the 2002 General Instruction of the Roman Missal, which has just become available in the approved Australian version in English, argues the outdated 70s proposition that all that is needed in liturgy is acting according to principles established not by the Church but by the liturgical intelligentsia of the time.
'Faithfulness on the other hand requires that because of the strong connection between liturgy, faith and doctrine, we celebrate the liturgy according to the liturgical books and their General Instructions without variations, except in cases which the books provide ...
'It is our privilege to form our people according to the mind of the Church. We give a lead by our faithfulness in what we promote in our parishes, in the way we preach and teach the whole of Church doctrine. Now we take hold of the General Instruction in English to renew our practices in celebrating Mass according to the mind of the Church using the texts which the Church provides without omission or innovation, so as to lead our people to authentic Catholic faith which the liturgy expresses so well ...'.
Catholic Communications (Melbourne)
150th anniversary of Lourdes apparitions
A press conference took place in November in the Holy See Press Office to discuss the program of celebrations organised to mark the 150th anniversary of the apparitions of the Virgin Mary to Bernadette Soubirous in Lourdes, in 1858.
Bishop Jacques Perrier of Tarbes and Lourdes indicated that for the 150th anniversary a Jubilee Year will be held, due to run from 8 December 2007, Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, to 8 December 2008, and 'to take place within the context of the new evan- gelisation.'
Regarding the possibility of a pilgrimage by the Pope to Lourdes for the 150th anniversary, Bishop Perrier confirmed that Benedict XVI would visit 'though we still do not know the exact date.'
Bishop Perrier then indicated how on 11 February 2008, Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes and World Day of the Sick, the first of the 18 apparitions of the Virgin to Bernadette will be commemorated (the last apparition took place on 16 July 1858, Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel). On 18 February 2008, Feast of St Bernadette, the first of the 15 consecutive apparitions will be remembered.
The anniversary of the 16th apparition will be marked on 25 March. 'On that day, Feast of the Annunciation,' said Bishop Perrier, 'the Lady finally pronounced her name: I am the Immaculate Conception.'
It is expected that an estimated eight million pilgrims will visit Lourdes for the Jubilee Year.
Catholic News Agency
Vatican Archbishop on liturgical reform
Sri Lankan Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith, the secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship, renewed his defence of Summorum Pontificum - and his sharp criticism of some bishops who have resisted the Pope's motu proprio - in an interview with the Fides news service.
The Pope's call for broader use of the traditional Latin Mass was not merely an effort to achieve reconciliation with the Society of St Pius X, 'but also a sign for the whole Church with regard to the safeguarding of certain theological-disciplinary principles,' Archbishop Ranjith told Fides.
'It appears to me,' he said, 'that the Pope is anxious to correct the tendency, visible in certain circles, to see the Council [Vatican II] as a break with the past and a new beginning.' He pointed out that the teachings of Vatican II themselves offer no justification for that attitude.
Vatican II called for reform of the liturgy, but that reform 'must also be faithful to all that went before from the beginning down to our day, nothing excluded.'
Archbishop Ranjith added: 'We are neither the inventors nor the masters of truth, we are merely those who have received it and have the duty to safeguard it and hand it on to others É It follows that respect for Tradition is not our freely taken choice in the quest for the truth, Tradition is its basis and must be accepted. Therefore fidelity to tradition is an essential attitude for the Church.'
In addition to safeguarding Church traditions, Benedict also saw the motu proprio as a necessary response to widespread liturgical abuses, the archbishop said. He noted that he, too, had 'seen how arbitrary deformations of the liturgy caused deep pain to individuals totally rooted in the faith of the Church.'
Catholic World News
State of Jesuit order: Vatican concern
The top Vatican official who deals with religious orders, Cardinal Franc Rode, addressed the 35th General Congregation of the Jesuits on 7 January 2008.
Cardinal Rode, installed by Benedict XVI as Prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, spoke repeatedly about his 'sorrow and anxiety' at the state of the Jesuit order in terms of infidelity to the teachings of the Church.
'It is with sorrow and anxiety that I see that the sentire cum ecclesia [to think with the church] of which your founder frequently spoke is diminishing,' he said.
He also expressed concern at 'a growing distancing from the Hierarchy' whereas 'the Ignatian spirituality of apostolic service 'under the Roman Pontiff' does not allow for this separation. In the Constitutions which he left you, Ignatius ... wrote 'we must always keep our mind prepared and quick to obey' ... the Hierarchical Church.'
Addressing specific areas Cardinal Rode said, 'May those who, according to your legislation, have to oversee the doctrine of your magazines and publications do so in the light of and according to the rules for 'sentire cum ecclesia', with love and respect.'