Pope's visit to Philippines
During his recent visit to the Philippines, which included a Papal Mass attended by an estimated record six million people, Pope Francis addressed a gathering of families on 16 January, in the course of which he praised Pope Paul VI for resisting pressures to accept contraception. "Paul VI was courageous, a good pastor, and he warned his sheep about the wolves that were approaching."
He described the encyclical Humanae Vitae as a document that foresaw the negative consequences of birth control and "the problem it could cause families in the future."
Then, in a remark clearly aimed at the growing drive for acceptance of same-sex unions, he added, "The family is also threatened by growing efforts on the part of some to redefine the very institution of marriage. Our world needs good and strong families to overcome these threats!"
He encouraged the Catholics of the Philippines to develop active lives of prayer, "resting in the Lord," in order to build up strength to protect family life.
Later, as he flew from the Philippines to Rome on 19 January, he responded to questions from reporters. Regarding his support for Humanae Vitae and its condemnation of contraception, he deplored the "neo-Malthusian" ideology that prevails in much of the world, pointing to the birth rates in Italy and Spain, lagging below 1%.
Referring to the possibility of natural family planning, he said: "Each person, with his pastor, seeks how to do that: responsible parenthood." At the same time, he reminded the listening reporters, "for most poor people, a child is a treasure".
Responding to a question about his criticism of "ideological colonisation," the Pope said that he was referring to organisations that promote their own agendas in impoverished countries, offering "certain loans with certain conditions". He mentioned one case where funds for education were tied to adoption of a text promoting gender theory. "They enter with an idea that has nothing to do with the people," he said, adding that every society has the right to protect its own culture.
The Pope encouraged reporters to read Robert Hugh Benson's book, Lord of the World, promising that those who read it "will understand what I mean by ideological colonisation."
Pope Francis disclosed that he is planning a visit to Africa for the end of this year, with Uganda and the Central African Republic as the likely objectives.
Catholic World News
Ordinations flourish in South Korea
Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-jung, Archbishop of Seoul, ordained 25 deacons as priests for the Archdiocese of Seoul and three deacons from religious orders on 6 February at the Olympic Gymnastics Hall of the Olympic Park in Seoul.
The Archdiocese of Seoul has been holding the Mass of Ordination annually, with an average of 30 new priests ordained each year since 1995.
The new priests include 25 deacons from Seoul Theological Seminary, two from Seoul International Mission Community, and one from the Claretian Missionaries.
The Mass of Ordination this year took its theme from the pastoral letter of Cardinal Yeom: Prayers bring vitality to New Evangelization. The bible verse theme for the occasion was "You are my Lord, apart from you I have no good thing." (Psalms 16:2)
A day before the priestly ordination, 22 seminarians, including one from the Hiroshima Diocese of Japan who finished his theological studies in Seoul and one from the Congregation of the Blessed Korean Martyrs, were ordained as deacons by Cardinal Yeom at the same venue.
Zenit News Agency
Possible ancient Gospel fragment find
Archeologists are expecting the publication of what could be the oldest known portion of one of the Gospels. The fragmentary text, taken from the Gospel of St Mark, was reportedly discovered on a sheet of papyrus that was used for a mummy. Experts believe that the text dates back to the first century.
The discovery of the Gospel text has been surrounded by mystery because some scientists have objected to the process in which papyrus is removed from a mummy's mask, thereby destroying the mask itself.
Catholic World News
Niger's Bishops reaffirm friendship with Muslims
In the wake of the recent anti-Christian violence that heavily affected the Church, the bishops of Niger reaffirmed their friendship with the Muslim community.
In a letter addressed to the Muslim community, the bishops stated: "We want to renew our friendship and brotherhood to the entire Muslim community in our country."