"Catholics Come Home" program for Australia
Australia's bishops have invited the head of the successful US media effort "Catholics Come Home" (see page 7 story) to bring the outreach program to Australia.
Tom Peterson, founder and president of CatholicsComeHome.org (CCH), will present the evangelisation outreach program to key religious leaders and lay media specialists from the various dioceses in Australia. According to a press release from the group, the Australian bishops were impressed by the results of the CCH television outreach in the United States and are considering implementing the campaign in Australia.
Mr Peterson was also invited to present the keynote speech at the Australian National Catholic Media Congress, where he will address the communications directors and media departments of all dioceses. He will also make a presentation at the Plenary Meeting of the Australian Catholic Bishops.
More than twelve dioceses and archdioceses in the US plan to launch CCH television and web campaigns in Advent 2009 or Lent 2010.
Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix has reported that as many as 92,000 inactive Catholics and converts returned to the Church in his diocese in the months following the CCH campaign while the Diocese of Corpus Christi reported a 40 percent increase during Easter Masses at key parishes after a bilingual campaign.
Catholic News Agency
Vatican to publish new Galileo documents
The Vatican Secret Archives is to publish a new 550 page collection of documents regarding the Galileo case as part of the celebrations marking the International Year of Astronomy (see article pp. 10-11). The volume is expected at the end of July, and has been overseen by the Prefect of the Archives, Bishop Sergio Pagano.
The volume has a better selection of information from those who intervened in Galileo's case - "each of them specified in the notes, and many of them inquisitors," according to Bishop Pagano.
It will also include, in addition to all of the letters regarding the case, 20 new documents found in the Vatican since 1991, critiques of various documents that require an edition faithful to the original, as well as an extensive introduction on the historical circumstances and development of the case.
Bishop Pagano, commenting on the Galileo case, said, "Taking into account that the historical context was not ripe for receiving the scientific studies of the great scholar of Pisa, it is undeniable that in this matter various errors were committed, also on the part of Galileo himself".
The bishop noted that in a culture dominated by the Ptolemaic perspective, which considered the Earth as the centre of the universe, the Copernican system "systematically went against Scripture."
The bishop added, "Urban VIII's firm and resolved decision of wanting the investigation and the condemnation, entrusting the letters and the studies of Galileo to the screening of limited scholars [was] not always up to par.
"Among the Jesuits - who were left out of the investigation - there wouldn't have been a lack of attitudes ready to be more indulgent with the scholar from Pisa."
Zenit News Agency
Ultrasound technology helps pro-life shift
Some doctors and pro-life leaders now say ultrasound technology is partly responsible for Americans' gradual shift to identifying as pro- life. Nebraskan legislators are now considering joining the many states which require that a woman considering an abortion be provided with an ultrasound of her baby.
A recent Gallup poll showed 51 percent of Americans now self- identify as pro-life, composing a majority for the first time. The change has led to speculation that improved ultrasound technology has helped change minds.
"Ultrasound used to be less available, very grainy. Now the baby is very clear, very distinct," Charmaine Yoest of Americans United for Life told Fox News.
Massachusetts Doctor Eric J. Keroack reported that a two-year study showed 75 percent of his patients who were unsure about having an abortion decided not to after choosing to view the ultrasound images of their child.
Currently, six states require verbal counselling or written materials to include information on accessing ultrasound services. Twelve states regulate the provision of ultrasound by abortion providers.
Nebraska state Senator John Harm told Fox News the proposed law gives struggling women the option to view an ultrasound and "hopefully see a beating heart and the development of the child.
"I've had correspondence with women who've gone through an abortion and who've said that if they had the option of seeing the ultrasound, they might not have made that decision".
Catholic News Agency
Benedict XVI's new social encyclical imminent
Benedict XVI's first social encyclical, which will probably be called Veritas in Caritate (Truth in Charity), is likely to be released on 29 June, the solemnity of Sts Peter and Paul, according to a source from the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.
The Pope has completed the encyclical which should be published by the end of June, according to the Pontifical Council, which added that originally Benedict had planned to publish the encyclical in 2007 to mark the 40th anniversary of Pope Paul VI's social encyclical Populorum Progressio, but the document was delayed.
The last social encyclical, Centesimus Annus, was published by Pope John Paul II in May 1991.
Catholic News Agency
Catholic values and the US culture war
In an interview for his diocesan newspaper on 18 May, Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City-St Joseph commented on the University of Notre Dame's recent decision to honour President Obama. He called for a more forceful presentation of Catholic values.
To date, 83 American bishops have publicly denounced the decision as going against the 2004 guidelines set by the US Bishops' Conference for Catholic institutions of higher education, which state that these should not bestow honours on individuals who "act in defiance" of the Church's fundamental teachings.
Bishop Finn warned, "We're fighting for our lives - literally." This was because pro-life Christians are "attempting to protect real unborn children by the thousands" and "fighting for the right to exercise a rightly formed conscientious difference with public policy".
He continued: "We shouldn't underestimate the danger of dragging our feet in this effort, or taking a 'wait and see' approach. If we are not ready to make a frontal attack on the protection of conscience rights, the overturning of Roe vs. Wade, and the primacy of authentic marriage, we will lose in these areas.
"If we sit back and allow ourselves to be lulled into a false sense of peace and co-operation in regards to these things, then we will lose these battles and, later, wonder why.
Bishop Finn explained that the scandal of Notre Dame's decision arose from its "potential of confusing people concerning the Catholic teaching against abortion, and on the priority of abortion among other issues of public policy.
"If Catholics don't see a problem with this then I don't think they understand the threat it represents to the meaning of marriage, to fidelity, to chastity, to the very sanctity of human life and intimate love."
Zenit News Agency
Poll shows Benedict XVI is viewed favourably
American Catholics and non-Catholics have an "overwhelmingly" favourable view of Pope Benedict XVI, according to a new poll commissioned by the Knights of Columbus.
About 78 percent of practising Catholics had a favourable or very favourable view of Benedict. Non- practising Catholics were only slightly less likely to profess a favourable view. Among all Americans, about 59 percent had a favourable or very favourable view of the Pope.
In addition, the survey results showed about 65 percent of Americans in general and 85 percent of Catholic Americans said they had a favourable view of their Church. Of practising Catholics, 92 percent had a favourable view compared with 73 percent for the non-practising.
The poll reported that about half of Americans said they would like to hear Benedict XVI on issues like abortion and stem cell research, while 57 percent wanted to hear his views on marriage and the family.
Supreme Knight of Columbus Carl A. Anderson, commenting on the survey, said the positive responses were "a great testament to the Pope's ability to communicate the Gospel directly to people.
"It is an unswerving commitment to the truth - and the ability through his own prayerfulness to introduce people to Jesus Christ - that has made Benedict XVI a beacon of moral courage whose message the American people and people worldwide respect and wish to hear."
Catholic News Agency
Irish child abuse scandal: official apologies
After the release of a report documenting child abuse in Irish Catholic institutions, Cardinal Brady, Archbishop of Armagh, expressed the hope that its publication would help heal wounds and right wrongs. In a statement issued on 20 May he noted that the report "throws light on a dark period of the past."
The Cardinal said that "publication of this comprehensive report and analysis is a welcome and important step in establishing the truth, giving justice to victims and ensuring such abuse does not happen again.
"I am profoundly sorry and deeply ashamed that children suffered in such awful ways in these institutions. Children deserved better and especially from those caring for them in the name of Jesus Christ."
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin expressed similar sentiments in his statement.
The Christian Brothers congregation issued an official apology in response to the report, which had directed the majority of the abuse allegations against them.
The congregation apologised "openly and unreservedly to all those who have been hurt either directly or indirectly as a result of the deplorable actions of some brothers, or by the inaction or inappropriate action of the congregation as a whole.
"We are deeply sorry for the hurt caused. We are ashamed and saddened that many who complained of abuse were not listened to."
Zenit News Agency
Cardinal Zen comments on Tiananmen Square massacre anniversary
Cardinal Joseph Zen says the Chinese Government should change its position regarding the force used twenty years ago to crush the democracy demonstrations in Tiananmen Square.
The retired bishop of Hong Kong spoke about the anniversary of the 3-4 June 1989 uprising and massacre, saying, "I hope that [they] really consider seriously the possibility of a reassessment of the verdict," RTHK radio reported regarding an address given by the Cardinal at Hong Kong's Foreign Correspondents' Club. "It will not damage anyone, but would be to the advantage of the whole nation."
The Cardinal called for an investigation so that justice can be done, not only for the "consolation of the families," but also for future generations "to discern between good and bad," and to ensure that nothing similar happens again.
It is unclear how many hundreds of protestors died when the Chinese military stamped out the demonstration. The Communist authorities continue to claim the slaying was necessary to stop anti-government forces.
Zenit News Agency