Cardinal Danneels warns on Europe's crisis of faith
Lack of priestly vocations means loss of sacraments
Belgium's Cardinal Godfried Danneels has warned that the Catholic Church in Europe is facing extinction.
In an interview with London's Catholic Times on 12 May he said the vocations crisis in the West could mean that Catholics will become more like Protestants, forced to rely more on the Bible and less on the seven sacraments.
"Without priests the sacramental nature of the Church will disappear," he said. "We'll become a Protestant Church without sacraments. We'll be another type of Church, not Catholic."
The Cardinal, who was in England to deliver a lecture at St Philip's University Church, Salford, said that in his own country the shortage of priests was particularly acute.
"We've got lay people who are working with us," he said. "We see that without priests who are permanently there, it's difficult for lay people to play a full role - they need to work and have families. We've reached a very low level. It's the same level as in Holland, France, Switzerland, and even Germany."
Catholic World News
Religious persecution in China continues
Priest jailed for printing bibles
A Chinese Catholic priest was sentenced to six years in prison on 25 May after he was convicted of printing Bibles and other religious materials in an eastern province of the country.
Father Jian Shurang of Zhejiang province, a priest in the underground Catholic Church, which remains loyal to the Pope and the hierarchy of the Church, was convicted of illegally operating a business and illegally publishing materials. The Hong Kong- based Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in China said Father Jiang is one of six priest who has been detained in the province in recent months.
The Information Centre said many Catholics in the Cangnan county of Zhejiang are Catholics connected to the underground Church. It said at least seven churches have been closed since February for refusing to confirm their allegiance to the state-run Catholic association.
The Communist Chinese Government requires Christians to worship only in state-controlled associations, including the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, which eschews any connections to the Vatican or the Pope.
Catholic World News
Pope reopens dialogue between faith and reason
Vatican meeting of 2,500 scientists
Faith must not fear science, nor must science fear faith, the Holy Father said in May when he met with 2,500 scientists, gathered in the Vatican at the conclusion of the Jubilee celebrations of the world of science. Their discussions concerned the relation between faith and reason at the beginning of the third millennium.
The most symbolic event of all took place when thousands of men and women of science, among whom were figures of world stature, together crossed the threshold of the Vatican Basilica to witness to their faith in Christ and their desire for conversion. They represented some of the world's most prestigious institutions.
Cardinal Paul Poupard, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, celebrated the Mass, after which the participants met with the Pope. In his address, John Paul II said, "Faith does not fear reason. If in the past the separation between faith and reason has been a tragedy for men and women, who have known the risk of losing their interior unity under the threat of ever more fragmented learning, today your mission consists in continuing your research convinced that (quoting the words of St Gregory Palamas) 'for the intelligent ... everything harmonises and agrees'."
Zenit News Agency
Italian bishops' decision on Church music
'Rock' music to be excluded from Masses
The Italian bishops' conference in May issued a new list of music approved for use at Mass, dropping all music influenced by contemporary styles, often referred to as "rock" music.
Choir directors and music ministers now have a list of 360 songs from which to choose, with a heavy emphasis on the traditional. The list is a result of a four-year process by the bishops' conference to reclaim the Church's musical heritage.
Supporters of this move said the list would allow the Church to recover "many traditions such as Gregorian chants, which were eliminated from churches in the 1960s and 1970s and replaced by guitar music." Vittorio Messori said: "Singing banal songs like 'How Pretty It Is to Love Oneself,' hymns to pacifism, to save the earth, or whatever else is politically correct or afflicting a majority of Christians, simply cannot compare with the intensity of feeling inspired by a rendition of 'Ave Maria de Lourdes'."
EWTN News Brief
Argentinian Pro-Life organisations' initiative
Declaration on 'reproductive health' measures
Late last May, more than 60 organisations that promote respect for human life in Argentina have published a declaration about a series of "reproductive health" bills being considered by the National Congress, the Legislature of the City of Buenos Aires, and the Provincial Legislatures.
They warn that in the language of international organisations, "'reproductive health' always includes abortion through surgical or chemical means, and attempts against the liberty and rights of families and individual persons. Therefore, should a law on 'reproductive health' or 'responsible procreation' be required, it must:
* Respect the first of human rights: the right to life of the unborn, from the first instant of conception.
* Respect the inalienable rights of parents to impart sexual education to their children.
* Guarantee integral care for the mother and unborn child during the pregnancy and birth; for the mother after the birth, for the newborn child during the first year of life.
* Guarantee health agents the right to conscientious objection, that is, not to indicate contraceptive methods with probable abortive effects, if this is against their ethical convictions.
* Guarantee the right to information, calling for information in simple, comprehensible language on the mechanisms of action and secondary effects of contraceptive methods and their probable or possible anti- implantation, in other words, abortive effects.
* Respect for the ethical, cultural and religious ideas of the family in the prevention of sexually transmitted sicknesses.
* Respect for justice and equity in the allocation of funds, such as in the area of health, where people have needs that are as urgent, or more urgent, than the reproductive."
Zenit News Agency
International ecumenical conference for Melbourne
Focus on papal writings
The Antiochan Orthodox Diocese of Australia and New Zealand, the Melkite Greek-Catholic Eparchy of St Michael, the Centre for Early Christian Studies and the Faculty of Theology of Australian Catholic University have organised an international ecumenical conference involving clergy and lay people and entitled Orientale Lumen: Australasia and Oceania.
The conference will be held between 9-13 July 2000 at Ormond College, University of Melbourne. It is under the co-patronage of His Holiness Ignatius IV, Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and of His Holiness Maximos V, Melkite Greek-Catholic Patriarch of Antioch. The conference will provide an opportunity for Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Eastern Catholic and Oriental Orthodox Christians to gather and discuss the quest for unity from various perspectives, with an eye to Pope John Paul II's apostolic letter Orientale Lumen and encyclical Ut Unum Sint (both of 1995).
The conference will include presentations by eminent scholars and theologians from Australia and abroad and liturgical celebrations. Among the speakers will be the Vatican's Cardinal Edward I. Cassidy and Bishop Walter Kasper, as well as representatives of Eastern Orthodox Churches.
Inquiries should be directed to Rev Lawrence Cross, Convenor- Secretary, "Orientale Lumen: Australasia and Oceania", Australian Catholic University, 115 Victoria Parade, Fitzroy 3065.
German court's decision on abortion "holocaust"
"Babycaust" brochures protected by free speech
A German federal court has settled a battle of several months over whether pro-life demonstrators could use the term "Babycaust" to refer to abortion, according to an article in The Telegraph of 2 June. The dispute arose when protesters handed out flyers in front of an abortionist's office referring to the "murder of children in their mothers' wombs." The slogan was "Holocaust then, Babycaust now."
Hospital authorities sued to ban such language and won, but the federal court ruling overturned this. The judgment was made on the basis of the protesters' right to free speech, because the leaflets "expressed the opinions of the authors that today's practice of abortion is a mass extermination of life."
The judges also said that such demonstrations are "a contribution to opinion-forming in a matter that is fundamental and moving to the public in which we have to deal with the protection of living rights of the unborn."
While abortion is technically illegal in Germany, the consultation centre system makes it very easy to have an abortion without fear of prosecution.
Cardinal Winning speaks out on "liberal agenda"
Comments on new Scottish Parliament's "political correctness"
In an interview published on the eve of his 75th birthday, the Archbishop of Glasgow, Cardinal Thomas Winning, offered scathing comments on the recently-created Parliament of his country.
The Cardinal said that he detected a "liberal agenda" being pursued against human life and the marriage- based family. In a strongly-worded denunciation of politicians pursuing politically-correct policies, he went on: "Come hell or high water, they are going to see it through."
The Cardinal made his comments in an interview with the Scottish Catholic Observer. In it he recalled his own enthusiasm for devolution (the creation of a Scottish Parliament in place of direct rule from London), but said he felt "deeply let down" by politicians.
Among the issues on which the Cardinal has voiced vocal criticism are: plans to offer the morning-after pill to women as a means of contraception; the danger of euthanasia through recently introduced legislation on incapable adults; the lowering of the homosexual age of consent; the lifting of the ban on the promotion of homosexuality in schools; the opening of high-street sex clinics offering contraception to children and plans to make divorce easier.
Support for the Cardinal's views came from several Scottish newspapers. The Daily Mail said the Cardinal had expressed "in the bluntest of terms what other people are thinking," namely that the parliament had pursued "the politically correct at the expense of the politically important."
EWTN News Brief
Armidale Diocese to take over university college
Importance of evangelisation in Catholic higher education underlined
The Catholic Diocese of Armidale has agreed to take over the administration of St Albert's College at the University of New England (UNE) in Armidale, NSW, from the Dominican Fathers at the end of 2001.
The Dominican Fathers, who have had charge of St Albert's College for more than 30 years extended an offer to the Diocese of Armidale which, after lengthy consultation, was accepted by Bishop Luc Matthys.
"A major factor in the decision to take over St Albert's was our realisation that Catholic evangelisation should continue among the undergraduates and graduates in this country diocese," said Bishop Matthys. "It shows the continuing commitment of the Catholic Church to supporting higher education ...
"It is always sad to see a period of history come to an end," he continued. "However, the people of the Diocese of Armidale will surely embrace this new venture and work devotedly to nurture and support a strongly identifiable Catholicism which is living and thriving at St Albert's College ...".