Archbishop Hart: importance of Confession
In his Pastoral Letter for Lent 2005, Archbishop Hart referred to the "tsunami" of sin and evil in our lives and encouraged all Catholics to return to the Sacrament of Penance during Lent.
"I have asked priests to be available so that you will know the compassion of Christ in your life and be instruments of healing and help to others.
"The ordinary way of the forgiveness of sins is individual Confession. In some places a common preparation followed by individual Confessions will be possible, and this too will be encouraged.
"Some parishes may choose to celebrate a common prayer service as a preparation for the sacrament. If this is done, it is to be made clear that it does not contain the forgiveness of sins", he said.
Archbishop Hart continued: "The destruction of the tsunami of sin is countered by the power of the Eucharist. Jesus wishes us this year to know his nearness throughout the devout celebration of Mass according to the mind of the Church, and through prayer and adoration before the Blessed Sacrament."
US Senate gives priority to pro-marriage amendment
Republican leaders in the US Senate indicated in late January their commitment to push for a constitutional amendment protecting marriage, putting that issue at the top of their legislative calendar.
As he introduced the Senate agenda to the press, Senator Bill Frist of Tennessee, the Republican majority leader, emphasised the importance of Senate Joint Resolution #1, the bill to amend the constitution by defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman. Frist noted that by listing the proposed amendment first, the Republican leadership wanted to highlight their commitment "to defend marriage against activist judges."
Senator Frist said that he was hopeful the proposed amendment would be passed by the current Congress, after narrowly missing approval in last year's Congressional session. Proponents of the measure have expressed confidence that they gained legislative votes in the November elections.
Pro-family activists in Washington have been pressing the White House for stronger support of the defence of marriage amendment. Showing concern that the Bush Admin- istration has given economic issues top priority, some conservatives have said they might withhold their support from the White House economic proposals if they do not receive a guarantee that President Bush will use his political clout to push the marriage amendment.
Catholic World News
Reducing the number of abortions in Australia
An Australian association aiming to combat abortion by changing attitudes through advertising campaigns is appealing for funding to continue its life-saving work.
Founded in Australia in May 2000, the Caring Foundation is modelled on the US-based Vitae Caring Foundation, which aims to reduce the number of abortions by using mass media education.
The association has already run commercials on regional television stations based in Wagga Wagga and Albury, NSW, which aim to educate viewers in a non-political way of the value of human life and the health dangers of abortion procedures.
US studies have shown remarkable turnarounds in the attitudes of people who had viewed Caring Foundation commercials, with many viewers who had previously been pro-choice or neutral before seeing the ads stating they had reversed to a position of opposing abortion after watching them.
Caring Foundation commercials aired on Australian television channels include a 1300 telephone hotline for a pregnancy support service as an alternative to an abortion.
Upon airing the American- produced commercials in the Riverina during 2003, the foundation met with an instant reaction, not only from people touched by the advertisements but by an anaesthetist who had assisted in abortions in Albury.
The anaesthetist submitted a complaint to the Advertising Standards Board, which investigated the matter only to rule in favour of the Caring Foundation.
After exhausting their funding through their previous campaign, the Caring Foundation is appealing for donations to fund a proposed month long, concentrated advertising campaign on all commercial stations.
Based on a fee of $45 for 30 seconds of television airtime, the foundation needs up to $10,000 to continue its work in educating the general public on the truth about abortion and its devastating effects on women.
The Caring Foundation can be contacted at PO Box 691, Wagga Wagga, NSW 2650, or by ringing Gerard Madden on 0428 229 625.
Archaeology validates Old Testament account
Canadian archaeologist Russell Adams, a professor at McMaster University, has recently unearthed evidence, which helps to show the historical accuracy of the Bible.
Professor Adams and his team of colleagues have found information that points to the existence of the Biblical Kingdom of Edom existing at precisely the time Scripture claims it existed. The evidence flies in the face of a common belief that Edom actually came into existence at least 200 years later.
According to the Canadian Globe and Mail, the group's findings "mean that those scholars convinced that the Hebrew Old Testament is at best a compendium of revisionist, fragmented history, mixed with folklore and theology, and at worst a piece of outright propaganda, likely will have to apply the brakes to their thinking."
The Kingdom of Edom, mentioned throughout the Old Testament, and a continuous source of hostility for Biblical Israel, is thought to have existed in what is now southern Jordan.
The group made their discovery while investigating a copper mining site called Khirbat en-Nahas.
According to the Globe and Mail, radiocarbon dating of their finds, "firmly established that occupation of the site began in the 11th century BC and a monumental fortress was built in the 10th century BC, supporting the argument for existence of an Edomite state at least 200 years earlier than had been assumed."
The evidence is also said to suggest that the Kingdom existed at the same time David, who Scripture recounts as warring with Edom, was king over Israel.
Catholic News Agency
"Jane Roe" calls for Roe v. Wade reversal
"Jane Roe" - whose case first legalised abortion on demand 32 years ago - has formally petitioned the US Supreme Court to reverse Roe v. Wade.
Norma McCorvey's case cites the sworn testimony of more than 1,000 women hurt by abortion and 5,300 pages of evidence from medical professionals, reported Jeremy Reynalds, a freelance writer based in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
McCorvey petitioned the court on 14 January and is still awaiting a reply. She says that if the court is unwilling to reverse the decision it should at least order a trial on the case's merits, reported Reynalds.
"It was a dreadful day in America when the Supreme Court allowed a woman to kill her own child," said McCorvey in a news release from The Justice Foundation, the San Antonio-based non-profit, public interest law firm that has taken on the case.
"Now we know so much more, and I plead with the Court to listen to the witnesses and re-evaluate Roe v. Wade," said McCorvey, who worked in abortion facilities and said she's seen firsthand "the horrific nature of abortion and its devastation to women and girls."
Abortion has been known to result in a number of emotional complications for women, including personality changes, numbness, rage, ongoing mental anguish, and suicidal thoughts, reported Reynalds.
The Justice Foundation reports that a significant change in most state laws now provides an alternative to abortion, allowing a woman to take her newborn to a "safe haven" anonymously, with no questions asked if no harm is done to the baby.
Catholic News Agency
Society of St Pius X contacts Australia's priests
The Society of St Pius X - which followed its founder, the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, into schism in 1988 - has written to all the priests of Australia, giving each a copy of a book containing interviews with 17 priests who celebrate only the older Roman Rite of Mass (1962 Missal) in Latin. A covering letter offers assistance and support to any priest who might wish to contact the Society.
But according to Fr Glen Tattersall, a member of the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter - founded in 1988 to preserve the patrimony of the classical liturgy firmly within the unity of the Church - the Society's initiative is disingenuous and less than helpful. "It's clear that the priests interviewed - though not members of the Society of St Pius X - are fundamentally sympathetic to it. Most of them, moreover, appear to be in an irregular canonical position themselves", he said.
"The sort of emotional polemic in which the book revels, does no service at all to the cause of the classical liturgy, which in fact stands on its own merits", Fr Tattersall continued. "What is interesting is the essentially liberal outlook of the priests interviewed, a description they themselves would no doubt be surprised by.
"However, their own decisions appear to have been motivated principally by personal experience, unfettered by any real regard for the nature of the Church and its authority, or disciplined theological reflection. As well, their assessment of Vatican II as a fundamental break with tradition is in fact identical to that of liberal dissenters - they differ only in regarding this as a bad, rather than a good thing.
"One can only hope that recipients of this propaganda will not on that account dismiss the traditional liturgical forms, and those faithful Catholics who are attached to them. Our experience in Melbourne and elsewhere has been that when the classical liturgy is celebrated in the embrace of the Church, it is a source of unity and reconciliation, and an enrichment of the life of the local Church", Fr Tattersall concluded.
Kenyan bishops reaffirm opposition to condoms
Reacting strongly to reports that the Spanish Catholic bishops had approved the use of condoms in the effort to curb the spread of AIDS, the Catholic hierarchy of Kenya has reaffirmed its clear opposition to condom use.
Bishop Cornelius Korir, the President of the Kenyan Bishops' Conference, said on 21 January that the Church could not compromise on essential moral principles: "Condom use would promote immorality and sexual promiscuity, particularly among youth".
Bishop Korir was responding to a controversy that began when a spokesman for the Spanish Bishops' Conference was quoted as saying that, although abstinence and sexual fidelity are the best means of fighting AIDS, condoms also have a role in the effort to stop the spread of the disease. The Spanish Bishops' Conference subsequently issued a clarification, stressing that Church teach- ing opposing the use of contraceptive devices had not changed.
In Africa, the controversy has taken on extra importance because of the heavy pressure on governments there to distribute condoms. Catholic bishops have battled against that approach, arguing that the widespread distribution of condoms would be likely to increase, rather than decrease, the rate of infection.
The battle against AIDS is a vitally important issue in sub-Saharan Africa, where the disease has become an epidemic of frightening proportions.
Catholic World News