The Church Around the World

The Church Around the World


Weekend Masses off for Canberra Synod

"Important" Synod 2004 said to justify lay-led services on 15-16 May

Attendance of the Canberra-Goulburn Archdiocese's priests at Synod 2004 was "so important for the good of the local Church" that it justified parishes arranging the conduct of lay-led Liturgies of the Word and Communion Services for the weekend of 15-16 May, Archbishop Francis Carroll said.

A special liturgy was prepared by the Archdiocesan Liturgical Commission and distributed to all parishes. "Suitable preparation of parishioners" was provided before the Synod weekend.

Among the matters addressed at Synod 2004 was a Vision Statement that affirmed "the giftedness of all" and embraced "Partnership in Ministry". The recommendations to be considered included the following:

* That the clergy and Parish Pastoral Council of each parish consider the employment of a full-time or part-time Pastoral Associate, possibly in union with a neighbouring parish(es) (1.2).

* The use of inclusive language be the norm wherever possible in liturgy and in Archdiocesan Church publications (3.4).

* Affirm and encourage Catholic schools' efforts to celebrate important events, and hold prayer services, in ways that include the faith traditions present in the school communities (7.3).

* That the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn establish a Commission for Women to promote the participation of women in the local Church.

* That an appropriately qualified person be appointed to a fully-funded position to service the work of the Archdiocesan Commission (8.1).

* That the identification of the range of needs, opportunities and strategies to promote the greater participation of women in the local Church be made a financial priority in the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn (8.3).

* That the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn:

 - Initiate education and training for lay women and men so that they may serve as lay celebrants of Baptisms, Order of Christian Funerals, Marriages and Celebration of the Word, in the absence of a priest or deacon.

 - Educate the clergy in Partnership in Ministry and in working with women.

 - Require clergy and lay faithful to act on Archdiocesan policy (8.4).

* That guidelines for the use of inclusive language be drawn up and put into practice in the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn (8.6).

* That the synod affirms the establishment of Ephesus House as the Archdiocesan House of formation for our seminarians in their first year and ensures the following crucial years of formation be under the guidance and ownership of the Archdiocese (9.1).


US Bishops' ad limina visit

Pope insists on proper seminary training

Meeting on 6 May with a group of American bishops from Detroit and Cincinnati making their ad limina visit, Pope John Paul II highlighted the duty of bishops to build "an ever closer relationship with your priests," and to ensure the seminaries provide proper training, particularly in preparing young men for a life of celibacy.

The Pope insisted that bishops must personally supervise the formation of future priests, visiting the seminaries frequently and making sure that they produce "mature and balanced personalities," and men who are "solid in the spiritual life, and in love with the Church."

He stressed: "This is a personal responsibility that falls to you, as pastors concerned for the future of your local churches, and one that cannot be delegated." In particular, he said, "Proper formation in chastity and celibacy remains an essential component of seminary training". He also called for solid theological formation, "including a clear and precise identification of those positions which are not compatible with the Church's authoritative self-understanding."

The Pope's emphasis on these two points was not accidental, since the American bishops have come under heavy criticism for the handling of both sexuality and theological dissent in US seminaries. Two years ago, in April 2002, at a special meeting in Rome convened in response to the emerging sex-abuse crisis, Vatican officials and leaders of the US episcopate agreed that bishops should energetically confront theological dissent, and an "apostolic visitation" of the US seminaries should be arranged. No discernible progress had been evident on either suggestion.

Catholic World News


Cardinal Pell welcomes Instruction on Liturgy

He describes it as a "useful reminder" in Australia

In his response on 23 April to the publication of the Vatican instruction The Sacrament of Redemption, which listed the practical regulations to be followed in the celebration of the Eucharist, Cardinal George Pell said the document was "very welcome".

Cardinal Pell noted that the document had been prepared "at the express request of Pope John Paul II, as he announced in his beautiful recent encyclical letter Ecclesia de Eucharistia". In that letter, "the Holy Father repeated the central Catholic conviction that the Eucharist is the Church's most precious possession and stands at the centre of Catholic life" while expressing "his regret that abuses have developed in liturgical celebrations."

The new Instruction, said Cardinal Pell, "clarifies what is to be done and what avoided so that the Eucharist will be celebrated with appropriate faith and dignity and the proper regulations followed everywhere throughout the world." It was, he added, "a useful reminder also here in Australia, where there are occasional lapses, confusing and disturbing practices."

Cardinal Pell concluded: "Nearly everyone recognises that there must be regulations for the celebration of Mass to protect and enhance the great Eucharistic mysteries. In the Eucharist we celebrate the death of our Lord until He comes again, his unique redemptive sacrifice. In the Eucharist under the forms of bread and wine we have the Body and Blood of Christ. The Mass is not an informal, community meal."

The Vatican Instruction was therefore "welcome, perhaps even overdue".


No Communion for pro-abortion politicians

US Bishops set up task force to examine issue

Politicians who support abortion must not go to Communion and priests must deny them the sacrament, said Cardinal Francis Arinze, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments.

The Cardinal set out the Church's position on 23 April at a press conference called to present the instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum: On Certain Matters to Be Observed or to Be Avoided Regarding the Most Holy Eucharist.

In response to a journalist's question, Cardinal Arinze said: "If the person should not receive it, then it should not be given. Objectively, the answer is there." He explained that a priest must not give Communion unless it is a surprise occasion and "he does not have the time to reflect."

One of the journalists asked the Cardinal if he could give his judgment on the concrete application of this norm in the case of US Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, who says he is a Catholic but supports abortion.

"The norm of the Church is clear," he said. "The Catholic Church exists in the USA and there are bishops there. Let them interpret."

Kerry supports abortion and has said he would nominate only US Supreme Court justices who support his position. Pro-life groups in the United States say Kerry has a "perfect record" of voting for legislation that allows abortion.

Following Cardinal Arinze's remarks, a task force has been set up the US bishops' conference to discuss the reception of sacraments by Catholics whose political advocacy directly contradicts Church teaching.

Zenit News Service


Orthodox Patriarch to visit Vatican in June

Visit seen as significant for Catholic-Orthodox relations

Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, the acknowledged leader of the Orthodox world, will visit the Vatican on 29 June and join with Pope John Paul II for an ecumenical liturgical service on that day.

In recent years it has become traditional for the Ecumenical Patriarch to send a delegation of Orthodox prelates to Rome on 29 June, the feast of Sts Peter and Paul, the patrons of the Rome diocese - just as the Vatican sends a delegation to join the Orthodox leader on the feast of St Andrew, the patron on Constantinople.

However, the fact that Patriarch Bartholomew himself is making the trip is seen as a significant gesture. Relations between the Holy See and the Orthodox world have been marked by tensions during the past year. Patriarch Bartholomew joined with the Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexei II in strong opposition to a proposal for the recognition of a Catholic patriarchate in Ukraine.

Last November, the Ecumenical Patriarch said that if the Vatican recognised a Ukrainian patriarchate, the move could cause a rupture in all relations with the Orthodox world. Vatican officials made it clear that they felt the threat was intemperate.

Nevertheless, in spite of these tensions, Catholic and Orthodox leaders agreed to resume the meetings of a joint theological commission. That decision was announced in February, when Cardinal Walter Kasper visited Moscow. The joint commission had suspended meetings after a contentious session in Baltimore in 2002.

Catholic World News


Canadian "hate crime" legislation attacked

Upholding Church teachings could be criminalised

A Canadian Catholic group has warned that the country has "embarked upon a course of criminalisation of dissent" with the passage of a bill that applies "hate crime" penalties to critics of homosexual activity.

The Catholic Civil Rights League (CCRL) of Canada pointed out that Catholics could be prosecuted, under the new statute, simply for upholding the teachings of the Church. The group pointed to several incidents, in Canada and other countries, in which homosexual activists claimed Christian leaders engaged in "hate speech" when they said that homosexual acts were immoral.

CCRL President Tom Langan promised that his group would "continue to reject such behavior" in spite of the new bill. But he added: "Canada's adoption of measures to allow potential criminalisation or prosecution for such views is to its shame."

Catholic World News


Religious character of US universities and colleges

New report highlights scandals at Catholic institutions

An independent Catholic group has released a report of scandals at Catholic colleges in the US, noting that the detailed information "is certain to reignite concerns about the colleges' religious character."

The Virginia-based Cardinal Newman Society, in its 56-page report, pointed to appearances on campus by advocates of abortion and contraception, distribution of contraceptives to students, referrals to abortion clinics, and links between the Catholic colleges and prominent supporters of legal abortion.

The report lists nearly 200 campus visits by abortion advocates to Catholic colleges - in many cases, with the schools honouring the public figures. These included former President Bill Clinton and current presidential candidate John Kerry at Georgetown and feminist Gloria Steinem at Fairfield.

Some pro-abortion politicians have served as faculty members and officials of Catholic universities, including Carol Moseley Braun at DePaul and Geraldine Ferraro at Fordham Law School.

The Cardinal Newman Society also calls attention to professors at Catholic colleges who are advocates of euthanasia, and/or combine their academic work with employment at Planned Parenthood. And the group points to the distribution of "emergency contraception," student gay and lesbian groups, sex-advice columns in student newspapers, and advertisements for abortion clinics on campus.

The full report by the Cardinal Newman Society, entitled The Culture of Death on Catholic Campuses: A Five-Year Review can be found on www.cardinalnewmansociety.org

Catholic World News

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