Victorian Bishops' Pastoral Letter on abortion
A Pastoral Letter, signed by the bishops of Victoria, titled 'Making Abortion Legal?' target the social engineering plans of the Labor State Government: 'In our State Parliament we are confronted by a series of legislative projects that involve grave moral issues. Prominent among these is the so-called 'decriminalisation of abortion'.'
The Letter outlines the Church's position, citing John Paul II's words in Evangelium Vitae, that 'all unborn human beings have the right to life'. But this is not simply a Church doctrine as it is also based on natural law.
As the Bishops point out: 'Just because a proposition is taught by the Church does not mean that it is, by that fact, 'religious' and, therefore, not rationally grounded. Although the defence of human life has been left largely to Catholics and evangelical Protestants, it remains the case that the right of the innocent not to be killed and the right of the unborn to the equal protection of the law are grounded in reason and upheld by those who have no religious faith'.
The Pastoral Letter warns that 'taking abortion out of the Crimes Act would undoubtedly be a victory for the pro-abortion forces' and 'moving the regulation of abortion from the Crimes Act to the Health Act would also give strength to the fallacy that abortion is just an ordinary medical procedure'.
The Bishops ask all concerned people to write to their MPs, 'clearly expressing their views against decriminalisation'. They call on all MPs 'to listen calmly and rationally to the voice of conscience' and 'on all men and women of good will to reject abortion and choose life.'
Benedict XVI's US visit: more seminary inquiries
St Joseph's Seminary in Yonkers, New York, has received dozens of applications following Benedict XVI's visit, the New York Daily News reported. The Pope had spoken to a rally of 25,000 young people in the seminary's grounds on 19 April.
'It's been like a tsunami, a good tsunami of interest,' said Father Luke Sweeney, the archdiocesan vocations director. 'I've been meeting people all week and have a lot of e-mails I haven't had the chance yet to respond to. It has been incredible.'
For the first time in 108 years, the seminary had anticipated a year with no students, with only 23 seminarians likely to be ordained for New York City over the next four years. A study carried out by Catholic World Report showed the archdiocese's ratio of priests to congregation members is among the worst in the country.
'We are facing a severe shortage,' Father Sweeney said. 'We were hoping the Pope would convince many who were considering the priesthood to make the next step. It looks like he did.'
Father Sweeney described how the Pope's words affected one new applicant: 'One said he came, saw the crowd, heard what the Pope said and then called us. He said his questions and concerns were answered when he heard him speak.'
Catholic News Agency
Cardinal Trujillo RIP: champion of the family
Both the Church and the world have lost a true champion of the natural family. Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, President of the Pontifical Council for the Family for 18 years, died in Rome on 19 April.
He was a frequent speaker at the World Congress of Families at which the Australian Family Association contributes. B.A. Santamaria addressed the First Congress in Prague in 1997.
The AFA has sent its condolences to the Secretary of the Pontifical Council and the long time Australian members of the Council, Professor and Mrs Pirola, also sent their condolences after their return from a just concluded meeting of the Council in Rome.
Cardinal Trujillo was the moving force behind the periodic meeting of families with the Pope when thousands of families hear presentations on many aspects of family life and participate in ceremonies with the Holy Father focusing on the importance of family life. The last one was in Valencia, Spain, and the next one is planned for Mexico City.
The Cardinal helped local churches oppose legislation to legalise abortion or make it easier to obtain and called the promotion of contraceptives a form of 'biological colonialism' by drug companies and wealthy nations.
He described drug addiction as a modern 'form of slavery that oppresses the whole world.'
In 2004, he went on British television to warn that condoms were not an effective barrier against the AIDS virus and suggested condom packets should carry a warning to that effect.
Cardinal Trujillo was convinced the family is at risk of destruction and that the Church must lead an 'evangelical struggle' to defend it. 'People don't realise the human tragedy they are preparing', he said in a 2006 interview with CNS.
'If you look at Europe or the Americas, there's not a parliament where these issues are not being debated. I think it's providential to have a pope who speaks with courage and clarity - and to have a curial agency to lend help when needed', he said.
John Barich, AFA
British Catholic schools: no late baptisms
Catholic schools in Britain are now rebuffing parents who, desperate to enrol their children in high-quality Catholic schools, baptise their children for pragmatic reasons, according to the London Telegraph.
Many schools are refusing to consider children who have had late baptisms. Some have set the upper limit at 12 months, while others consider only those who have been baptised within a few weeks of birth.
Peter Stanford, a governor at St Joseph's primary school in London, said, 'If you have had your child baptised at two or three or four they won't get in.' And at London Oratory, a school where former Prime Minister Tony Blair sent his two eldest children, only children baptised no later than four months after birth will be admitted.
Staff said the policy helped deter parents who baptised their children only to gain admission. Last year, the school had 700 applicants for 160 places.
David McFadden, head teacher at London Oratory, said the criteria for admission are based on canon law: 'The first criterion is based on Mass attendance. The next is to what extent the Catholic parents have met their obligations regarding the Church's sacramental practice, including baptism.'
Catholic News Agency
Effectiveness of abstinence education
Two new studies presented at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, in April provide encouraging findings about abstinence education.
The first study by Dr Stan Weed of the Institute of Research and Evaluation, analysed the impact of abstinence education in reducing the initiation of sexual activity by seventh graders in suburban Virginia.
Weed's findings demonstrate that abstinence-education programs cut the rate of sexual initiation among students almost in half; gender and race did not affect the outcome. Weed was scheduled to present his findings at a hearing in the US House of Representatives on 23 April.
The second paper was a background paper published by the Heritage Foundation's Christine Kim and Robert Rector. This paper reviewed 21 abstinence-education programs and found that 16 overall reported statistically positive results such as delayed sexual initiation and reduced levels of early sexual activity.
Wendy Wright, President of Concerned Women for America, concluded, 'Refraining from sexual initiation is the healthiest decision for youth. It protects them from pregnancy, STDs, other risk behaviours and emotional entanglements that are too intimate for immature youth to handle.'
Catholic World News
Vatican calls for more Eucharistic adoration
It is just on six months since the Vatican Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, Cardinal Claudio Hummes, wrote to all the bishops of the world calling for a commitment to Eucharistic adoration in their dioceses, parishes, monasteries, schools, etc, to promote priestly vocations.
The vocation-rich dioceses around the world have generally been those where Eucharistic adoration is most fostered and Benedict XVI is keen to see the practice spread.
Writing on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, 8 December 2007, Cardinal Hummes called for '24 hour continuous Eucharistic adoration ... with the primary intention of awakening a sufficient number of holy vocations to the priestly state'.
A form was enclosed for bishops to respond to the proposal with Cardinal Hummes requesting individual bishops 'to keep this dicastery informed of developments related to continuous Eucharistic adoration in their dioceses, indicating especially which priests and places are involved in this important apostolate'.
Six months on, as far as this journal can determine, there has been little if any observable upturn in Eucharistic adoration around Australia although there is no doubt many Catholics would respond with enthusiasm to a stronger lead from their bishops and priests.
Vatican: Anglicans face crucial choice of identity
The Vatican's top ecumenical spokesman has posed a challenge to Anglican leaders, saying that the Anglican communion must decide whether it has more in common with the Catholic and Orthodox churches or the Protestant denominations.
'Ultimately, it is a question of the identity of the Anglican Church,' Cardinal Walter Kasper, the president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, told the British Catholic Herald in May. 'Where does it belong?'
In an unusually candid interview, Cardinal Kasper said that Anglican leaders would be forced to address 'certain difficult decisions' at this year's Lambeth conference in July. The Lambeth meeting, which brings together Anglican prelates from around the world every ten years, will face tough decisions on divisive questions such as the ordination of female bishops and the acceptance of same-sex unions. The cardinal said that these decisions would require the Anglican communion to 'clarify its identity.'
Cardinal Kasper has been invited by the Archbishop of Canterbury to address the Lambeth conference, and his blunt remarks to the Catholic Herald may be a preview of his message to the Anglican leadership. He said that the Anglican Church must decide whether it will be guided by the authority of ancient Christian traditions or whether it will break from the doctrines that once bound all of an undivided Christian world. 'At the moment it is somewhere in between,' he observed.
At the Lambeth conference, Cardinal Kasper told the Catholic Herald, the Anglican communion must make a choice: 'Does it belong more to the churches of the first millennium - Catholic and Orthodox - or does it belong more to the Protestant churches of the 16th century?'
Catholic World News
Cardinal Newman to be beatified
The Vatican has approved the beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman, the English convert and theologian who has had immense influence upon English-speaking Catholicism.
Newman was born in 1801 and as an Anglican priest led the Oxford Movement which sought to return the Church of England to its Catholic roots. His conversion to Catholicism in 1845 rocked Victorian England.
The Catholic Church has accepted as miraculous the cure of an American deacon's crippling spinal disorder. The deacon, Jack Sullivan of Marshfield, Massachusetts, prayed for John Henry Newman's intercession.
At his beatification ceremony later this year, John Henry Newman will receive the title 'Blessed.' He will need one more recognised miracle to be canonised.
The case of a 17-year-old New Hampshire boy who survived serious head injuries from a car crash is being investigated as a possible second miracle.