Bishop Hurley welcomes Government marriage legislation
"One of society's strongest institutions" needed safeguarding
The Federal Government's announcement on 27 May that it would move to protect the institution of marriage was a welcome affirmation of the special nature of marriage between a man and a woman, said Bishop Eugene Hurley of Port Pirie.
Bishop Hurley, who is the Chairman of the Bishops' Committee for the Family and for Life, said the move to define marriage as being a man and a woman was a sensible safeguarding of one of society's strongest institutions.
"Marriage and family are unique relationships. The commitment of men and women in the institution of marriage and their openness to children is the basis of every society," said Bishop Hurley.
"While recognising that there are many different relationships in our society, we cannot give them all the same special and sacred status as marriage between a man and a woman," he continued.
"It is heartening to see bipartisan support for this move which will strengthen and reaffirm the unique status of marriage as it has been traditionally understood by society.
"This strengthening will have important flow-on effects through the irreplaceable contribution of marriage to our society, especially through the procreation, care and nurture of our children".
Pope John Paul II receives Polish President
Poles asked to remind Europe of its Christian roots
On 18 May, on his 84th birthday, Pope John Paul received Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski, his wife and an entourage of fellow Poles.
He noted that their meeting marked "the 60th anniversary of the battle of Monte Cassino". Every Pole, he said, recalled "with pride that battle which, thanks to the heroism of the army commanded by General Anders, opened the path to liberation for the Allies and for the defeat of the Nazi invaders.
At Monte Cassino's military cemetery, the Pope continued, "There are tombs with Christian and Greek crosses as well as stones marked with the Star of David. Fallen heroes rest there, joined together by the ideal of fighting for our and your freedom, that includes not only love for one's homeland, but also concern for the political and spiritual independence of other nations."
The Holy Father said he had referred to this "to remind everyone that, through the centuries, Europe's spiritual and cultural patrimony was formed and defended even at the cost of the lives of those who believe in Christ and those who in their religious belief go back to Abraham".
It seemed necessary to remember this, he added, "in the context of the formation of the constitutional basis of the European Union, of which Poland recently became a member." Poland should not forget this and "must remind those who, in the name of the secular nature of democratic societies, seem to forget the contribution of Christianity in building their own identity."
Vatican Information Service
Cardinal Ratzinger: urgent need of holy priests
Problems of materialism need to be addressed
The Catholic Church today is in urgent need of holy priests, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger said.
Commenting on the six new saints canonised on 16 May - of whom four were priests - the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith told the newspaper Il Tempo that the world was looking for "credible men, who are not merely making outward gestures but having a relationship with God."
Speaking further on the duties of a good priest, the Cardinal said: "More than what they have or what they do, people are looking for men who are, at heart, truly fathers" for their parishioners.
He observed that it had become difficult to find young men in the wealthier nations who are willing to make the sacrifices that the priesthood entails, because they were accustomed to "richness and abundance."
He went on: "We have a great deal of difficult work to do, so that people recognise the beauty of things such as simplicity, spiritual freedom, the gift of one's self, and the abandonment of material things that are good and useful in themselves, but not a top priority."
Catholic World News
Cardinal Danneels: restore dignity to liturgy
Addresses Maynooth conference on "The Church and the Eucharist"
In a fast-paced throwaway society, the Church needed to restore silence, ritual and a knowledge of tradition in the liturgy, said Cardinal Godfried Danneels of Brussels.
He told a conference in Maynooth that liturgy needed time to deliver its riches, more time so people could "integrate" what they have seen and heard. Today, he said, "many of our liturgies do not provide enough time or space to enter into the event."
Cardinal Danneels was speaking at "The Church and the Eucharist" conference organised by Fr James McEvoy of the Irish Centre for Faith and Culture on 6 May.
Calling for the celebration to be longer and to appeal to other senses besides hearing, he pointed out: "Lack of silence turns the liturgy into an unstoppable succession of words which leaves no time for interiorisation." The liturgy was firstly "God's work on us" rather than our work for God.
An exaggerated emphasis on active participation and mutual worship could, he warned, mistakenly make priests and people who should serve the liturgy "its owners." In some cases, he said, this could lead to a "liturgical coup in which the sacred was eliminated, the language trivialised and the cult turned into a social event."
It must, he argued, become "evident and visible in the liturgy," that it is an act of Christ, the High Priest who alone is competent to worship God and sanctify the people. The liturgy could not be "a purely human activity" which eliminated "every sense of mystery" as the "community celebrates itself".
Cardinal Danneels noted that the liturgy was already "given" in its essence - given "in the Lord's acts of institution." Liturgy therefore, he said, "demands knowledge of tradition and history."
'The Irish Catholic'
Pressures to legalise abortion in Kenya
Strong response from Catholic Archbishop of Nairobi
The Catholic Archbishop of Nairobi, Raphael Ndingi Mwana'a Nzeki, has been angered by fresh calls to legalise abortion in Kenya in May.
The Archbishop, who had earlier spoken out against abortion, following the release of statistics claiming a high rate of illegal abortion, said that he was distressed to find government officials leading the drive for legalisation.
"In Kenya, we are about to face one of the most difficult periods in our history if they legalise abortion," he said, predicting that pressure to allow abortion would increase as Kenya went through a process of reviewing the national constitution.
The Archbishop questioned the accuracy of reports released by the Kenya Medical Association and the Ministry of Health claiming that 300,000 illegal abortions were being performed in Kenya each year under unsafe conditions. He pointed out that when Western countries legalised abortion, partly on the basis of similar reports, it was later found that the statistical reports were grossly inaccurate.
Kenya's health minister, Charity Ngilu, had proposed supplying "abortion kits" to public hospitals, so that doctors could cope with medical emergencies arising from unsafe abortions. Church leaders opposed that suggestion, saying that unscrupulous doctors could use the kits to generate quick profits by performing abortions.
Catholic World News
Ireland: only eight new priests this year
Class of 2004 less than one-third of last year's
Only eight students from Ireland's national seminary will be ordained to the priesthood this year, the Irish Independent has reported.
Last year the only Catholic seminary remaining in Ireland, St Patrick's in Maynooth, produced 27 new priests. This year's class is less than one-third that size.
Although other candidates for the priesthood study at the Irish College in Rome, the total number of men ordained this year for service in Ireland's 26 dioceses will be no greater than 10. The Dublin Archdiocese will ordain only one new priest.
Father Kevin Doran, the national vocations director for the Irish bishops, told the Irish Independent that the plummeting number of priestly vocations can be attributed to many factors, including "a reluctance in society to make long-term commitments" and "a generalised loss of belief."
Catholic World New
Melbourne's prayer campaign for vocations
Hours of Perpetual Adoration can be registered
Melbourne Catholic Vocations is spearheading a prayer campaign for vocations from 1-8 August. This activity has not happened in Australia on a diocesan level for a long time.
From 1 July, individuals can log onto the Melbourne Vocations website www.catholicvocation.org.au and register an hour of Adoration - in particular, for the seminarians of Corpus Christi Seminary, Melbourne. It will be perpetual Adoration and so it makes the commitment even more significant.
A guide has been produced that can be down-loaded from the Melbourne Vocations website and which will assist in the week of prayer. Copies of this guide are also available from the Vocations office.
People are encouraged to log Adoration hours for vocations. It is aimed at obtaining at least 1,000 hours nationally. This, in turn, may inspire other dioceses to do the same.
Catholic officials warned on same-sex unions
"Clear and serious violations of the law of God" says US Bishop
A Massachusetts bishop has warned Catholics that they should not be involved in the legal recognition of same-sex unions.
Just a week after his installation in May as head of the Worcester Diocese, Bishop Robert McManus issued a strong statement pointing out that same-sex "marriages" are "clear and serious violations of the law of God and moral teaching of the Roman Catholic Church. In no way can they be in line with Catholic teaching."
City and town clerks in Massachusetts had begun granting marriage licences to same-sex couples on 17 May, the day after Bishop McManus assumed his new episcopal duties. Referring to the court decision that authorised same-sex unions, the new bishop said: "The judicial decision of a court can never make morally right what is by nature morally wrong."
In the most striking passage of his statement, the bishop cautioned Catholics that they must not become involved in granting legal approval to homosexual unions.
Catholics, he said, especially public officials, "who willingly and with approval facilitate the legal sanctioning of same-sex unions" were "involving themselves in cooperation with evil". Such cooperation was "not free from serious moral and spiritual harm".
Bishop McManus issued his statement - which was published in the diocesan newspaper, Catholic Free Press - in immediate response to a statement by Worcester's city clerk, David Rushford. Rushford, who is a Catholic, had said that by granting licences to same-sex couples, he was upholding Church teaching on "inclusivity, universality, and respect for the dignity of each individual."
Bishop McManus responded that "Mr Rushford's opinion, as stated, is morally incorrect and pastorally misleading."
Catholic World News