Benedict XVI on priestly formation and AIDS
On 10 June Pope Benedict addressed bishops from sub-Saharan African nations during their ad limina visit. Among his topics were priestly formation and AIDS prevention.
Speaking in English, the Pope commended the large number of priestly vocations while emphasising the bishops' "grave responsibility to help them develop into men of the Eucharist."
Great care was needed in sel- ecting men who "should be formed with great concern to guarantee that they are prepared for the many chall- enges they will face" including "a world filled with temptations".
Priests were needed who were "totally dedicated to their mission" and would serve others "as Christ did by embracing the gift of celibacy". In this regard, bishops should provide "continuing education, retreats and days of recollection".
Benedict then noted the manner in which "the fabric of African life was being threatened by divorce, abortion, prostitution, human trafficking and a contraceptive mentality."
He shared the bishops' "deep concern over the devastation caused by AIDS and related diseases" and urged them to promote the traditional teaching of the Church as "the only failsafe way" to counter AIDS.
"The companionship, joy, happiness and peace which Christian marriage and fidelity provide, and the safeguard which chastity gives, must be continuously presented to the faithful, particularly the young."
Catholic World News
Chicago Archdiocese's ordinations increase
During a three-hour ceremony at Chicago's Cathedral in May, Cardinal Francis George ordained 16 men to the priesthood - the largest ordination class of any diocese in the United States.
Ranging in age from 26 to 46, the group, some of whom hail from as far away as Poland, Ecuador, Peru and Mexico, are also overall one of the youngest ordination classes in the country.
The Archdiocese reached its low point in 1990, ordaining only six men, but those numbers have been steadily growing since.
Fr Thomas Baima, who is provost of the University of Saint Mary of the Lake, where the priests were trained, told Chicago's Catholic New World that the faithful need good priests and that he is proud to announce that his group is ready for the challenge.
27-year-old Brenden Lupton, one of the new priests and a graduate of Catholic University of America, told the New World that, "As a priest, in general, I hope to point towards the beauty of Christ."
"I hope to work a lot with the youth, visit the sick, and teach in RCIA. I also hope to discuss and learn more about our rich Catholic faith," he added.
Catholic News Agency
How not to solve the priest shortage
An article titled "What happens if there's no Mass?" was published in the May 2005 issue of Catholic Voice, the monthly newspaper of the Canberra-Goulburn Archdiocese.
Author of the article, Margaret Ryan, co-ordinator of the Centre for Faith and Ministry, pointed to a worldwide situation where "slightly more than half Catholic parishes or Mass centres have no resident priest".
Where Mass was unavailable each week, "in most places" there would be "a Sunday Celebration of the Word, with or without Holy Communion". In the absence of a deacon, this would be led by "a man or woman, religious or lay person."
Margaret Ryan continued: "Wouldn't it be more important to find Mass somewhere else? In Australia outside the cities, the next parish might be 20-100km away. The decision about leaving the parish to find a Mass, or staying with the other parishioners to celebrate the Liturgy of the Word locally (this liturgy fulfils the Sunday obligation), is not an easy one.
"Celebrating Eucharist ideally happens with the local parishioners. If some people go elsewhere, the local parish is fragmented that weekend. If everybody leaves town for Mass somewhere else, who will give Catholic witness in that place? How will that community carry forward the Catholic tradition for the next generation?"
Israel honours Pope John Paul II
Israel has honoured Pope John Paul II with a commemorative stamp, Israel's embassy to the Holy See announced on 20 May.
The stamp depicts the pontiff's visit to Israel in 2000 and his stop at the Western Wall, where he left a letter asking forgiveness for acts committed against Jews by Christians throughout history.
The stamp was issued 18 May, which would have been John Paul's 85th birthday, and it bears the late Pope's prayer for peace in the Holy Land: "May peace be God's gift to the land He chose as His own."
The embassy also announced plans to create a park in Galilee, dedicated to John Paul. He had celebrated a Mass at that site during his pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 2000.
Catholic News Agency
Why US Catholic editor was removed
Speaking to a joint meeting of Catholic communicators in Florida in May, Archbishop John Foley, President of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, said in a speech that former America magazine editor, Fr Thomas Reese SJ, should have better represented Catholic teaching during his time with the Jesuit-run journal.
He said that he found himself "in agreement with a recent editorial in Our Sunday Visitor and with Russell Shaw's op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal that a priest-editor, who in some way is expected to represent the Magisterium of the Church, cannot appear to give equal weight in a publication sponsored by a religious community to articles which present the teaching of the Church and articles which dissent from it."
Fr Reese's resignation reportedly came at the request of his Jesuit order. His supporters such as the National Catholic Reporter have argued his departure has been the consequence of "pressure from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, recently headed by now Pope Benedict XVI."
According to the Reporter, the Vatican had longstanding objections to several articles published in the magazine, which favoured condom use for AIDS prevention, homosexual priests, homosexual unions and other issues of dissent from Catholic teaching.
Critics say that America gave too much support to those against the Church's teachings and too little support of it. Archbishop Foley used his brief stint as editor of Philadelphia's Catholic Standard and Times at the time of the document Humanae Vitae's 1968 release, by way of example.
"A number of Catholic publications", he said, "ignored the fact that there was dissent from the encyclical; a greater number highlighted the dissent and put the encyclical in a subordinate position. I decided to use the encyclical as the lead story and to use the dissent as a separate story on an inside page with the jump of the encyclical story from page one - and then I did an editorial in support of the encyclical."
Highlighting this proper balance, he thought that, "the official teaching of the Church should be supported editorially - both through comment and through story placement. If I were still an editor, I think that would remain my publication philosophy today."
Catholic World News
Catholic Church is most respected institution in Latin America
A study carried by the Chilean research firm Latinobarometro revealed in May that the Church continues to be the most trusted and respected institution for 75 per cent of Latin Americans, ahead of politicians, journalists, businessmen, policemen and judges. The study took place in 2004 in seventeen countries of Latin America.
Marta Lagos, director of Latinobarometro, said the poll shows that despite the decline of the number of Catholics on the continent from 80 per cent in 1995 to 71 per cent in 2004, the Church continues to be "the moral leader and source of legitimacy" for people, as well as "the strongest reference point for each of the Latin American societies."
Evidence can be found in the fact that in nine years the percentage of people who say they trust the Church has grown from 67 to 75 per cent. Lagos says the Church in Latin America has experienced "a relatively mild decline" if compared with Europe, "where Catholics have now become a minority in many countries."
Nevertheless, according to the poll, the number of evangelicals in Latin America has grown from 3 per cent in 1995 to 13 per cent in 2004, while the number of those who do not identify themselves with any religion rose from 4 to 8 per cent in the same period of time.
The study shows that the countries with the highest Catholic populations include Ecuador and Paraguay with 84 per cent, followed by Venezuela with 83 per cent, Argentina and Colombia with 81 per cent, Mexico with 78 per cent and Peru with 77 per cent. The country with the lowest Catholic population is Uruguay with 51 per cent, and of these only 42 per cent consider themselves practising Catholics.
Catholic News Agency
No Dublin ordinations
According to a report in The Irish Catholic, there will be no priest ordained for the Dublin Archdiocese "for the first time in living memory". In the whole of Ireland, there will be just eight ordinations for 2005.
The lack of an ordination in Dublin this year means that there is just one priest under the age of 30 in the diocese. The most recent figures show the greatest age profile for Dublin's priests ranging from 60 to 69 and 70 to 79, accounting for over half of the diocese's almost 500 clergy. The next biggest age group is the 50 to 59 category (99) while those in the 30 to 39 group number just 26.
On the issue of vocations, while Irish entrances to the priesthood have increased in recent years, 28 last year compared with 19 in 2003, the numbers at ordination have remained low, dipping from nine in 2003 to eight in the past two years.
The Irish Catholic
US Bishop addresses liturgical abuses
One year after he assumed leadership of the Richmond Diocese, Bishop Francis DiLorenzo has set up a commission to enforce appropriate liturgical practice, and implemented other measures and solutions, which he says the people want and which meet the current needs of the diocese, reported the Times-Dispatch.
Bishop DiLorenzo, 63, succeeded Bishop Walter F. Sullivan, who retired last year after 29 years as bishop of the diocese. A Philadelphia native, DiLorenzo came to Richmond from Honolulu, where he was bishop for 10 years.
Soon after his installation, the bishop reactivated the diocese's liturgical commission and named Fr Russell Smith as diocesan theologian, a post that had been vacant since 1998.
The commission investigates and responds to parishioners who complain about liturgical abuses in a particular church. It also ensures that proper practices are being followed. Fr Smith must also approve all speakers from outside the diocese before they speak at a diocesan parish.
Self-monitoring was not working, the Bishop explained in a 29 May article. These checks were needed because some churches were functioning outside the traditional norms of Catholicism. Bishop DiLorenzo also did away with the diocesan sexual- minorities commission, saying that it had outlived its usefulness.
In an effort to make diocesan offices more effective, he also is bringing in consultants to review some departments and commissions and determine their strengths and weaknesses. He also is working on improving the parish-based religion programs.
When more room was needed for the chancery office, DiLorenzo decided to move out of the three- story house next to the cathedral and to a house in Midlothian in Chesterfield County. He preferred to move than to purchase another building for offices.
The Bishop recently spent five weeks in Richmond, meeting all of the priests and lay leaders, visiting diocesan buildings and meeting 450 lay leaders.
Catholic News Agency