UK bishops revive meatless Fridays
The bishops of England and Wales are re-establishing the practice of abstaining from meat on Fridays as a penance to identify with Christ on the cross.
In the resolutions published from their spring plenary assembly, which concluded on 13 May, the bishops announced the re-establishment of the practice, to go into effect on 16 September.
"Every Friday is set aside by the Church as a special day of penance, for it is the day of the death of our Lord," a statement of resolutions from the assembly recalled. "The law of the Church requires Catholics to abstain from meat on Fridays, or some other form of food, or to observe some other form of penance laid down by the Bishops' Conference.
"The Bishops wish to re-establish the practice of Friday penance in the lives of the faithful as a clear and distinctive mark of their own Catholic identity."
This decision was made as it was "important that all the faithful be united in a common celebration of Friday penance."
The statement continued: "Respectful of this, and in accordance with the mind of the whole Church, the Bishops' Conference wishes to remind all Catholics in England and Wales of the obligation of Friday Penance. The Bishops have decided to re-establish the practice that this should be fulfilled by abstaining from meat."
They added that those who did not eat meat normally should abstain from some other food on Fridays, while "many may wish to go beyond this simple act of common witness and mark each Friday with a time of prayer and further self-sacrifice."
Zenit News Agency
From Vietnamese boat refugee to bishop
A former Vietnamese refugee, Father Vincent Long Van Nguyen, was installed on 23 June as a new auxiliary bishop for the Melbourne Archdiocese.
News of Benedict XVI's appointment of Bishop Nguyen was welcomed by Fr Toan Khoa Nguyen, the Archdiocese of Sydney's Senior Chaplain for the Vietnamese community: "We are all delighted and see this as public recognition of the enormous contribution of refugees and immigrants to the Catholic Church of Australia."
Bishop-elect Nguyen was superior of the Order of Friars Minor Conventuals in Australia from 2005-2008 after which he served in Rome as Assistant General with responsibility for the Asia-Oceania section of the order.
The Bishop-elect is not only the first member of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference to have been born in Vietnam, but the first "boat person."
Aged 18, he was forced to flee his homeland after the fall of Saigon when Communists took over the country. He and his family risked death by drowning or murder by pirates as they set off in a frail barely seaworthy craft from Saigon in search of a safe haven.
Although Bishop-elect Nguyen has spent much of his life in Melbourne, from 1999 until 2002 he was based in Sydney as parish priest at Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Church, Kellyville. From there, he was appointed parish priest at Springvale, Melbourne, from 2002 until 2008.
Catholic Communications Sydney
Avoid syncretism Pope tells Indian bishops
Speaking to a group of Indian bishops on their ad limina visit to Rome in May, Benedict XVI described India as a "home to various ancient religions, including Christianity," and urged the bishops to promote a culture of religious freedom and tolerance, while avoiding any "semblances of syncretism."
Their first duty, he continued, was to proclaim Christ: "Today, as in every age, the apostolic mandate finds its source and its central focus in the proclamation of the Incarnate Son of God, who is the fullness of divine revelation and 'the way, the truth, and the life' (Jn. 14:6). The Saviour of all creation, he is the bearer of Good News for all and the fulfillment of man's deepest yearnings. The definitive revelation of God, which comes to us in Jesus Christ and which believers throughout the world joyfully proclaim, is expressed in a particular way in the sacred Scriptures and in the sacramental life of the Church ...
"Within the Church, believers' first steps along the way of Christ must always be accompanied by a sound catechesis that will allow them to flourish in faith, love and service. Recognising that catechesis is distinct from theological speculation, priests, religious and lay catechists need to know how to communicate with clarity and loving devotion the life-transforming beauty of Christian living and teaching, which will enable and enrich the encounter with Christ himself. This is especially true of the preparation of the faithful to meet our Lord in the sacraments."
1.6% of India's 1.15 billion people are Catholic, according to Vatican statistics, and while India has only 18.8 million Catholics - far fewer than Brazil, the Philippines, or the United States - the country has more seminarians and women religious than any other nation in the world.
Catholic World News
Cardinal Pell on the Bishop Morris dismissal
While on a visit to Rome in late May, Cardinal Pell told an interviewer that the dismissal of Bishop Morris of Toowoomba "was a tragedy" which "should never have come to this." He added, "Rome was very patient. You could say the dialogue had continued on for 13 years and unfortunately Bishop Morris felt unable to give satisfactory clarifications."
Regarding Bishop Morris' raising the possibility of women priests in his 2006 Advent pastoral letter, Cardinal Pell said: "Catholics stand with the Pope as the successor of Peter and his role is to strengthen his brothers and to defend the apostolic tradition, and it's now Catholic teaching that women cannot be ordained priests. That's not an optional belief; it's now part of the Catholic package."
Cardinal Pell suggested that the episode "will be a useful clarification for people that Catholic doctrine is there to be followed and bishops take promises to defend the integrity of Catholic teaching."
Meanwhile, he pointed out that "an orthodox approach" has been "reaping apostolic benefits in many parts of Australia including Sydney" with an increased number of priestly and religious vocations, vibrant university chaplaincies and the legacy of World Youth Day in 2008.
Catholic News Agency
English bishops promote new Mass translation
In a letter read in all parishes 29 May the English bishops said the current translation of the Mass does not express the full meaning of the original Latin and loses some of the "teaching of the faith" meant to be communicated in the liturgy: "In the earlier translation not all the meaning of the original Latin text was fully expressed and a number of the terms that were used to convey the teachings of the faith were lost."
The bishops noted that language is important for passing on the true teachings of the faith because "the way we pray forms the way we believe."
The new translation, known as the third typical edition of the Roman Missal, will be fully introduced throughout the English-speaking world on the first Sunday of Advent.
In their letter, the bishops said the new version provides "a closer connection with the Sacred Scriptures which inspire so much of our liturgy."
In order to prepare parishes for the changeover, the English bishops plan to phase in the texts beginning in September. They will also provide resources explaining each change as it happens with a similar program of catechesis being planned for schools. Meanwhile, new musical settings are also being composed.
Implementing the new translation, the bishops concluded, "offers an opportunity to deepen our knowledge and understanding of the mystery we celebrate each week."
Archbishop Fulton Sheen's cause progresses
The canonisation of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen moved a step closer on 25 May as the official document outlining his cause - known as a positio - was presented to Pope Benedict XVI.
"America is in need of a saint like Archbishop Sheen. He brought so many people closer to Christ during his life here on earth and continues to do so even today through his many writings, television and radio shows," said Father Andrew Apostoli, Vice Postulator for the cause.
The positio will be filed formally with the Congregation for Saints' Causes as the initial step in the Vatican's process to determine whether Archbishop Sheen should be beatified and canonised.
"Once the Congregation for Saints' Causes officially approves the positio they will begin the investigation into an alleged healing," said Monsignor Stanley Deptula, executive director of the Archbishop Fulton Sheen Foundation.
The healing in question involves a 72-year-old Illinois woman's recovery from major complications during lung surgery. Her husband had prayed for the intercession of Archbishop Fulton Sheen.
Archbishop Fulton Sheen died in 1979 and his cause for sainthood was officially opened in 2002. He is presently referred to as a "Servant of God." The next major step towards being declared a saint would be his beatification by the Pope.
Catholic News Agency
Pope's long-term plan for reforming the liturgy
Benedict XVI's easing of restrictions on use of the 1962 Roman Missal, known as the Tridentine rite, is just the first step in a "reform of the reform" in liturgy, the Vatican's top ecumenist said.
The Pope's long-term aim is not simply to allow the old and new rites to coexist, but to move toward a "common rite" that is shaped by the mutual enrichment of the two Mass forms, Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, said on 14 May.
In effect, the Pope is launching a new liturgical reform movement, the cardinal said. Those who resist it, including "rigid" progressives, mistakenly view the Second Vatican Council as a rupture with the Church's liturgical tradition, he said.
Cardinal Koch made the remarks at a Rome conference on Summorum Pontificum, Pope Benedict's 2007 apostolic letter that offered wider latitude for use of the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite.
Cardinal Koch said Pope Benedict thinks the post-Vatican II liturgical changes have brought "many positive fruits" but also problems, including a focus on purely practical matters and a neglect of the paschal mystery in the Eucharistic celebration. The cardinal said it was legitimate to ask whether liturgical innovators had intentionally gone beyond the council's stated intentions.
Cardinal Koch said Summorum Pontificum was "only the beginning of this new liturgical movement" as "Pope Benedict knows well that, in the long term, we cannot stop at a coexistence between the ordinary form and the extraordinary form of the Roman rite, but that in the future the Church naturally will once again need a common rite.
"However, because a new liturgical reform cannot be decided theoretically, but requires a process of growth and purification, the Pope for the moment is underlining above all that the two forms of the Roman rite can and should enrich each other."