Congolese bishops affirm Pope's AIDS stance
A statement in May from the Congolese bishops' conference affirmed: "In all truth, the Pope's message which we received with joy has confirmed us in our fight against HIV/AIDS".
The statement, signed by the conference president, Bishop Nicolas Djomo Lola of Tshumbe, added, "We say no to condoms!"
The bishops noted that condom use is "not only an ethical disorder but above all the proof of the trivialisation of sexuality in our society."
They continued, "Instead of preventing the spread of the disease, and without even guaranteeing complete security, [the condom] heightens human selfishness, worsens the problem, and encourages people to let themselves be driven by their sexual instincts and divests sexuality of its religious and symbolic functions.
"Only freedom that does not give in before the fleeting passion of desire, the blindness of one's own selfishness, and the tyranny of the convenience of the moment, can contribute to making man more noble and more responsible in his acts, in the prospect of a better future.
"This is how we understand the Pope's insistence on respect for life, the preservation of our African identity which is seriously threatened by a vigorous and aggressive globalisation, the fight against corruption and the unjust exploitation of man by other men, and an appeal to African governments regarding their responsibilities in regards to their people and other nations."
Zenit News Agency
Latin Mass priest to head ICEL
An English priest with an affinity for the extraordinary (pre-Vatican II) form of the Mass has been named the general secretary of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL). The appointment highlights the transformation of an agency that was once widely criticised for its defective translations of the liturgical texts.
Father Andrew Wadsworth, a priest of the Westminster Archdiocese, will begin his work with ICEL in September. An accomplished linguist, he will guide the process of completing ICEL's new translation of the Roman Missal. His appointment, announced on 30 March, came with the approval of the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship.
ICEL is the international body, supervised by the bishops' confer- ences of the English-speaking nations, which provides translations for official liturgical texts that are originally issued in Latin.
The appointment of Father Wadsworth, who was once an official of the Latin Mass Society, and has been prominent in helping to train English priests to use the extraordinary form, underlines the transformation that ICEL has undergone in the past decade.
Catholic World News
Missal translation: Archbishop Hart's update
Archbishop Denis Hart of Melbourne, who is the Australian Bishops' Conference representative on ICEL, has provided the following summary of current progress for AD2000:
"All of the ICEL English of the Missal is complete, and Australia has approved it. In 2008, the Holy See had to reprint the Missale Romanum, and had to make some small amendments.
"These are the extended Mass for the Vigil of Pentecost, the additional dismissals at the end of Mass, the deletion of the Eucharistic Prayers for Masses with Children from being printed in the altar Missal (as instructed by the Holy Father), a Prayer over the gifts for September 8 and Common of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Ordinary time, and the more recent feasts of St Pio of Pietrelcina (23 September), St Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin (9 December) and Our Lady of Guadalupe (12 December).
"They are now forwarded from ICEL, and the Australian Supplement has been prepared. These will be voted on by the Australian Bishops at their May meeting. If passed, Australia will now be in a position to ask the Congregation for Divine Worship for its recognitio of the whole Missal.
"The Congregation for Divine Worship is being advised by its Vox Clara committee, who still have to consider a number of segments of the Missal. Should the Congregation be able to approve the English text early in 2010, it is hoped that the Altar Missal will be able to be published by the end of 2010.
"What will happen with people's missals will depend on the publishers, and on work being done on the text of the lectionary by the International Committee for the Preparation of the English Lectionary (ICPEL) under the chairmanship of Archbishop Coleridge.
"The Readings remain the same as previously: the translation is being worked on and is moving at a slower rate because of questions of copyright. Sunday and Feastday texts are likely to be available before the rest of the lectionary."
Russian Orthodox Church and "Christianophobia"
At the start of the World conference on racism in Geneva in April, the Russian Orthodox Church suggested the conference introduce the idea of "Christianophobia" into international laws concerning discrimination.
"It is very important to the Russian Orthodox Church to raise the issue of introducing to the list of threats the notion of Christianophobia in addition to anti-Semitism and Islamophobia," Archpriest Georgy Ryabykh, deputy head of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations, said.
At the conference's opening ceremony the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon mentioned anti-Semitism and Islamophobia but "not a single word about Christianophobia."
Archpriest Gregory said there were many examples of "violations of Christians' rights, insults of their feelings [and] public distortion of Christian teaching" which put "the notion of Christianophobia" into international circulation.
Catholic News Agency
Benedict XVI: how to interpret the Bible
On 23 April the Pope addressed 30 representatives of the Pontifical Biblical Commission following their plenary assembly dedicated to the theme "Inspiration and truth in the Bible".
Benedict XVI recalled how Vatican II had identified "three perennially valid criteria for interpreting Sacred Scripture in accordance with the Spirit that inspired it. In the first place, great attention must be given to the content and unity of the whole of Scripture. Indeed, however different the books it contains may be, Sacred Scripture is one by virtue of the unity of God's plan, of which Jesus Christ is the centre and the heart.
"In the second place, Scripture must be read in the context of the living Tradition of the entire Church. ... In her Tradition the Church carries the living memory of the Word of God, and it is the Holy Spirit Who provides her with the interpretation thereof in accordance with its spiritual meaning.
"The third criterion concerns the need to pay attention to the analogy of the faith; that is, to the cohesion of the individual truths of faith, both with one another and with the overall plan of Revelation and the fullness of the divine economy enclosed in that plan".
The task of scholars "is to contribute, following the above-ment- ioned principles, to a more profound interpretation and exposition of the meaning of Sacred Scripture.
"The academic study of the sacred texts is not by itself sufficient. In order to respect the coherence of the Church's faith, Catholic exegetes must be careful to perceive the Word of God in these texts, within the faith of the Church ... The texts inspired by God were entrusted to the community of believers, to the Church of Christ, to nourish the faith and to guide the life of charity".
Vatican Information Service
Notre Dame and Obama: alumni protest
A Notre Dame alumni coalition verified that donors have pledged to withhold $8.2 million from the university in protest at its decision to honour President Barack Obama.
The coalition launched its national outreach effort with an appeal to alumni and benefactors to hold back donations until the university's president, Father John Jenkins, is replaced.
In a press release on 27 April, the group, called "Replace Jenkins," reported that over 900 pledges had been sent online with the promise of cancelling payments to Notre Dame, including notifications from donors who removed large estate bequests to the university from their wills.
David DiFranco, the group's spokesman, said, "We knew many donors and alums were unhappy with the decision to honour a pro- abortion president, but we never expected this large a response."
He predicted, "As momentum continues to build, we are now certain that the financial penalty resulting from the decision to honour the most pro-abortion president in our nation's history will be enormous."
The coalition is calling for a new leader for the university, "who is committed to the authentic identity of Notre Dame, grounded in the teachings of the Catholic Church."
Zenit News Agency
Anti-Christian violence in Pakistan
Anti-Christian violence in Karachi in April left 15 people wounded and resulted in the houses of 15 Christian families being set on fire, putting Christians on alert as the Taliban increases its influence in Pakistan.
Fr Mario Rodriguez, the Karachi-based Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies of Pakistan, said that several Taliban members were caught spraying offensive and intimidating messages on the walls of a church. The vandals were stopped by a group of Christians, but they returned with over 40 armed soldiers who began firing on the gathered Christians. Fifteen were wounded, one man seriously.
The mob then began to sack the nearby houses of 15 Christian families, later setting them on fire. Police arrived and imposed a ceasefire in the neighbourhood but local Christians are seeking protection and justice from the local government.
The "Muttahida Quami Movement," which represents the religious minorities in the Pakistani Parliament, organised a protest and condemned the violence, saying "no to the Talibanisation of Pakistan."
The aim of the Taliban is to force Christians to leave the area or pay a tribute imposed by Sharia law on non-Muslim minorities.
Taliban forces have taken control of the Swat Valley in the country's north west, where they have implemented a rigorous form of Sharia. Their show of strength in the southern city of Karachi has caused much fear among Christians and other religious minorities.
Catholic News Agency
US Catholic apathy on same-sex "marriage"
Writing in The Rhode Island Catholic on 23 April, Bishop Thomas Tobin warned of a "relentless" political march towards homosexual marriage, with New England leading the way.
"The supporters of gay marriage in Rhode Island are well- organised and well-funded. They're fiercely determined to impose their politically correct agenda on all the citizens of the state ... Anyone who opposes them is quickly labelled a bigot," he said.
However, the typical Rhode Island Catholic's response was indifference and a reluctance to "judge" people.
"[G]ay marriage will affect you and you should be concerned. And there's a lot we can do," the bishop wrote, proceeding to review reasons Catholics oppose same-sex "marriage."
Bishop Tobin explained that "homosexual activity is unnatural and gravely immoral. It's offensive to Almighty God. It can never be condoned, under any circumstances. Gay marriage, or civil unions, would mean that our state is in the business of ratifying, approving such immoral activity."
The movement for same-sex "marriage," he added, "seeks to radically redefine the most fundamental institution of the human race, the building block of every society and culture. From the beginning, marriage has been defined as the stable union of man and woman, designed by God to continue the human race through the procreation of children.
"Homosexual relationships are not marriage - never have been, never will be."
Catholic News Agency