Melbourne Archdiocese's new anti-drugs initiative
Mary MacKillop birth site to be support centre for drug users and families
Archbishop George Pell, who had earlier endorsed the Vatican intervention that prevented the Sisters of Charity from establishing 'safe' injecting rooms in Sydney, has launched a multi-million dollar rehabilitation and counselling centre for drug users in Melbourne's inner city on the site of Blessed Mary MacKillop's birth place.
The Centre is expected to be operating in a few months and follows recommendations by the Archdiocesan Drugs Taskforce, which Archbishop Pell set up in June 1999.
Earlier, at the launch in Melbourne on 5 May of the Jesuit Social Services drug policy, Fr Geoffrey King, the principal of the Jesuit Theological College in Parkville, according to a report in The Age (6 May), said that Church teachings gave a clear moral justification for supervised heroin injection rooms - a position diametrically opposed to both the Holy See and Archbishop Pell.
Father King said that the Church's governing principal of "respect for human life" meant drug use had to be tolerated within an overall strategy to combat addiction.
ICEL Psalms translation to be withdrawn
Publication and distribution to be halted
The National Catholic Reporter in its 7 April issue has published the text of a letter dated 14 January from Archbishop Francesco Pio Tamburrino, secretary of the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, to ICEL's chairman, Bishop Maurice Taylor of Galloway, Scotland.
Archbishop Tamburrino asks that Bishop Taylor see to it that ICEL halts further publication and distribution of the "doctrinally flawed" 1994 English version of the Psalms. The Archbishop stated: "The text does not accurately represent the word of God and therefore risks being a danger to the faith ... Such a text is clearly no more suited for private prayer than it is for public proclamation."
US ecclesiastical approval of the ICEL Psalter (originally granted in 1995) was withdrawn in 1998 under Vatican instructions, but before that ICEL had entered contracts with various publishers. This ceased once the Vatican instruction was received.
The ICEL translation makes extensive use of inclusive language and the more liberal "dynamic equivalence" approach to translation, rather than the more literal "formal equivalence." The Vatican wants to ensure that "formal equivalence" is used with all liturgical translation and that certain usages of inclusive language are avoided.
Catholic News Service
Vatican Social Catechism due for publication
An "indispensable aid to Catholic leaders"
Archbishop Francois Xavier Nguyen Van Thu‰n, president of the Vatican Council for Justice and Peace, confirmed that the Holy See is preparing to publish a "Social Catechism" towards the end of the Jubilee year.
The document, which will cover the social doctrine of the Church, was first announced by the Vietnamese Archbishop during the Synod of Bishops for Europe, which took place in Rome last October. The Catechism's preparation was entrusted by John Paul II to the Archbishop and the Council over which he presides. There was extensive consultation with bishops, scholars and experts from around the world. It is the first time the Church has written a succinct and official compendium of her social doctrines.
The Archbishop described the new Catechism as an "indispensable aid" for Catholic leaders: "Our starting point is the very many Catholics in the world who hold positions of responsibility and represent the leading classes of their countries: Catholics who are heads of government, ministers, influential politicians, judges, bankers, university professors, businessmen, government officials, engineers, etc. We have discovered that, in spite of being good Catholics, many do not have a clear idea of the social doctrine of the Church, what the Catholic Church upholds and proposes in fields like economics, justice and ethics."
The Social Catechism will have as one of its key themes "to re- establish the unity between the spirit of men and social development: Jesus Christ has loosed the chains of the soul and body of men." It will show how for a Catholic social action cannot be separated from the announcement of redemption, because "it is the Lord who has re-established the unity between the soul and social development, and this is the road that we must follow as saving mission," the Archbishop emphasised.
Zenit News Service
Promotion of confession in US dioceses
Thousands attend in Newark and Peoria
In the Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey, on the weekend of 8-9 April, after three months of preparation, a "reconciliation weekend" took place. Thousands of Catholics of different ages went to the 81 chosen churches of the Archdiocese where confessions were heard throughout the weekend. One of the priests involved told the local press that there were many cases of people who had gone to confession again after years, even decades.
As part of the effort, nearly 5,000 calls were received in the last three months on a special bilingual hot line manned in shifts by 250 priests who answered queries about the program and questions about problems in daily life.
During the three-month long program, Newark's Catholics were encouraged to attend confession on the "reconciliation weekend" as part of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 in order to be reconciled with God, themselves and with others. "We are talking about some cases of people that were far from the Church for years, and who were touched, thanks to the Lord, by this program," stated one priest from the St John Vianney parish.
A "Weekend of Reconciliation" also took place in the Diocese of Peoria, Illinois, with large numbers of Catholic faithful attending. "It was a moment of grace and homecoming," according to Bishop John J. Myers. On the Friday night alone, more than 3,000 Catholics reportedly attended penance services at 14 regional churches in the diocese. Other penitential acts in different parishes took place on Saturday.
EWTN News Update
Pope beatifies Fatima children
Third secret made public by Cardinal Sodano
On 14 May, for the first time in the history of the Church, a Pope has beatified children who were not martyrs. John Paul II travelled to Fatima to beatify Jacinta and Francisco, two of the three children who saw the Blessed Virgin in 1917.
About 600,000 people were present at the Mass of beatification.
The two shepherd children died of pneumonia two years after the apparitions, at the ages of 9 and 11. The third, Lucia, now 93 and a cloistered nun since 1929 in a Portuguese Carmelite convent, received communion from the Holy Father. Later she and the Holy Father said a silent prayer over the two children's tombs.
Fr Paolo Molinari, Postulator of their cause for beatification, explained that their "example tells us that children have their heart open to God, they can and must grow constantly in real personal love for Jesus Christ, with sincere and active love for other people."
On the same day as the Holy Father's visit, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Vatican Secretary of State, disclosed the third secret of Fatima.
According to the shepherd children, the Virgin Mary appeared above an olive tree and told them three secrets, two of which were made known at the time, but the third has not been made public since then. The earlier "secrets" or prophecies are said to have foreseen the end of World War I and the start of World War II, and the rise and fall of Soviet communism.
Nine years ago, the Pope said in Fatima, "I entrust to the Lady and Mother of all generations the good resolutions and the road of our generation in the 20th and 21st centuries."
The cardinal said the "interpretations" of the children spoke of a "bishop clothed in white" who, while making his way amid the corpses of martyrs, "falls to the ground, apparently dead, under a burst of gunfire." The Vatican has said the secret the Virgin Mary is said to have told two children more than 80 years ago was a foretelling of the shooting of Pope John Paul II. In 1981 the Pope was injured when a Turkish gunmen tried to assassinate him in St Peter's Square. The shooting came on 13 May - the same day as the first of the Fatima visions in 1917.
The Holy Father has credited Our Lady of Fatima with intervening and saving his life. Cardinal Sodano quoted the Holy Father as saying a "motherly hand" guided the bullet's path, enabling the "dying pope" to halt "at the threshold of death."
Adult conversions in France on the rise
Encouraging increase in numbers
The catechumen service of the Catholic Church in France reports an encouraging increase in adult conversions to the Catholic faith over recent years. At present, some 9,500 adults convert to Catholicism every year, a figure that has doubled over the past decade. 80 percent of them are between 18 and 40 years old, and come from all social classes. "They are people of today with problems of today," said Fr Dominique Sentucq, director of the catechumen service, pointing out they were not people who had "reached the end of their lives", but that "most of them were 'children of '68', who are trying to find a spiritual dimension". According to the catechumen service, almost 79 percent of the converts had not previously practised any religion at all.
Vatican listing of 20th century martyrs
Publication due for release later this year
More than 10,000 Christians who died for their faith during the 20th century will be named in a volume prepared by the Commission for New Martyrs. The listing is expected to be complete by October or November of this year.
The listing of 20th-century martyrs, which has been under way since 1995, is a response to a request by Pope John Paul II. The Commission compiling that list is headed by Archbishop Michel Hrynchyshyn, the Ukrainian Catholic Exarch of France.
The final product of the Commission will be an enormous work of 15 to 20 volumes, with one or two pages devoted to each of the Christians who "shed their blood for Christ and for evangelical causes," Archbishop Hrynchyshyn said - adding that these martyrs would not necessarily all be beatified.
Catholic World News
Priestly Fraternity of St Peter
First Australian ordination
On 4 March 2000, Fr Lawrence Gresser FSSP became the first Australian to be ordained to the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter (FSSP). The ordination took place before a congregation of over 1,000 at the Cathedral Church of St Peter, London, Ontario, Canada. Fr Gresser was born in Narromine, NSW, and completed his studies in theology and philosophy at the Centre for Thomistic Studies, Sydney, before entering the FSSP seminary in Scranton, Pennsylvania.
The Priestly Fraternity, whose mission is to preserve the traditional Latin liturgy of the Roman Rite, has experienced substantial growth since its foundation in 1988, following Pope John Paul II's Ecclesia Dei decree. FSSP priests are now serving in 20 dioceses in the US and Canada with the approval of local bishops. The Melbourne Archdiocese is the first in Australia to invite the Fraternity to establish an apostolate, with Fr Gresser returning to Melbourne to assist Fr John Rizzo.
Bishop Denis Hart, Vicar General, will celebrate a Solemn Pontifical Mass to welcome the Fraternity to their apostolate in Melbourne at St Anthony's Church, cnr Neerim and Grange Roads, Glenhuntly, at 11am on Saturday, 10 June.
Judeo-Christian perspective sought
In April, an American ecumenical group announced the formation of the Interfaith Council for Environmental Stewardship (ICES).
The group offers "a much-needed, balanced, Judeo-Christian perspective to current environmental debates." Its members include Fr Richard John Neuhaus, James Dobson of Focus on the Family and Rabbi Daniel Lapin of Toward Tradition.