Church architecture criticised
US 'Environment and Art' booklet blamed for radical changes
Duncan Stroik, an associate professor of architecture at the University of Notre Dame and editor of Sacred Architecture, has criticised the current state of US Catholic church architecture and art. He blames this situation largely on the 1978 booklet, produced by the US Bishops' Committee on the Liturgy, which "has been used in dioceses across the United States and Canada as the 'bible' for new church design and renovation." His critique appeared in a 5-page article in Sacred Architecture.
He said the 1978 booklet's "authority has been invoked to require theatre-shaped interiors, removal of tabernacles from sanctuaries, removal of religious imagery and a puritanical style."
Professor Stroik expressed hope that a new document on the topic, which the US bishops are due to discuss before the end of the year and vote on next year, will overcome the limitations of the 1978 text.
Franciscan Sister Ann Rehrauer, associate director of the US Bishops' Secretariat for the Liturgy and staff co-ordinator for the new art and environment text, acknowledged weaknesses and limitations in the 1978 booklet, which would be addressed in the new document. She pointed out that the 1978 text was simply a committee document, whereas the new text would represent the full body of bishops.
Catholic News Service
Europe's spiritual crisis
Pope calls Continental Episcopal Synod
Newsweek magazine has recently published the results of a survey revealing the extent of the crisis of Christian faith in Europe. For example, 39 percent of the French say they have no religion, only 56 percent of the English believe in a personal God, while in the Czech Republic, Sunday observance barely reaches 3%, a situation repeated in other countries of Western Europe. The continent's many magnificent churches are, for the most part, empty: in Holland, some churches have been sold and are currently being used as mosques.
Given this state of affairs, Pope John Paul II has convoked the second Continental Episcopal Synod in European history. In order to base the debate on a serious foundation, the Holy Father called a meeting of intellectuals from all the countries represented in the Council of Europe. The meeting was held in Rome earlier this year.
The "Pre-Synod European Symposium," as it was called, which was organised by the Pontifical Council for Culture, was attended by distinguished figures like UNESCO's Federico Mayor; Stanislaw Grygiel, vice-president of the John Paul II Institute for the Family in Rome; Irina Alberti, for many years Alexander Solzenitsyn's assistant; and Admond Malinvaud, president of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences. A total of 40 participants focused on the question of Christianity's cultural legacy: on whether or not it can play a decisive role in the configuration of the new Europe, or be considered exclusively something of the past.
The results of the symposium will be made public by the Vatican in the near future.
Zenit News Service
'The Chesterton Review' after 25 years
New projects being undertaken
The new Canadian-based Chesterton Institute, an offshoot of The Chesterton Review, has set in motion a number of projects during 1999, the 25th anniversary year of the Review.
In a circular to subscribers to The Chesterton Review, its editor, Father Ian Boyd CSB, said that the Bernard Shaw Festival at Niagara-on-the-Lake had agreed to stage a "Chesterton-Shaw Debate" as part of their summer program and that this was to be covered by Public Television. A conference on "Chesterton's Ireland Then and Now" was scheduled to be held on both sides of the Atlantic, with the Bishops of Western Ireland inviting the Chesterton Institute to hold a conference at a newly opened university. A number of other conferences were organised in the United States during the second half of 1999.
The American Chesterton Society and its web-site on the Internet, under the direction of Dale Ahlquist, plans to become a part of the Institute and its family of publications and activities. The noted British author Paul Johnson has agreed to give a lecture at a conference organised by the Institute for 2000.
Inquiries about the Chesterton Institute and Review can be directed to Father Boyd at St Thomas More College, 1437 College Drive, Saskatoon, Sask., Canada S7N 0W6, fax: + (306) 966-8904, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Adelaide's Pastoral Guidelines on confession
Vatican calls for "Statement of Clarification" to be distributed
Along with a circular letter to each of the priests of the Archdiocese of Adelaide (6 October), Archbishop Leonard Faulkner has enclosed a copy of a "Statement of Clarification" on the Archdiocesan Pastoral Guidelines for the Celebration of the Sacrament of Penance (see July AD2000).
The "Statement of Clarification" was sent to Archbishop Faulkner for distribution to the Adelaide Archdiocese by the Prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.
The document, framed in the first person, as from Archbishop Faulkner himself, emphasises that Adelaide's priests have been "again" instructed to make ample provision for individual confession.
Of particular significance is par 7 which states: "With reference to the stipulation of canon 961 ¤1, 2 that for 'general absolution' to be justified, one of the conditions to be met is that otherwise the penitent would be deprived of sacramental grace or Holy Communion for a lengthy period of time ('diu' in Latin). Until such time as the Holy See shall decide otherwise, in the Archdiocese of Adelaide that period of time is to be considered as one that exceeds 30 days. At the present time such a circumstance is never realised in this Archdiocese."
Par 8 of the "Statement of Clarification" makes clear that the term "grave necessity," referred to in canon 961, is to be interpreted as cases of "true physical impossibility", while par 9 concludes that in the case of other circumstances that might justify general absolution, "It would therefore seem highly unlikely, God willing, that the requisite conditions could occur within the Archdiocese of Adelaide in the foreseeable future."
Cornwell book 'Hitler's Pope' launched
Father Peter Gumpel SJ finds serious errors
In recent weeks, the European press has published numerous articles demonstrating the lack of historic substance in John Cornwell's new book, Hitler's Pope, which went on sale in October. Father Peter Gumpel SJ, Reporter of Eugenio Pacelli's (Pius XII) Beatification Cause, commented that there was "legitimate indignation, because Cornwell has simply produced an authentic set-up against Pius XII and against the ... papacy as an institution."
In an interview with the Zenit News Service, Fr Gumpel pointed out that, far from being pro-Nazi, as Cornwell claims, "as Nuncio in Germany, as Secretary of State and, later, as Pontiff, Pius XII always singled out Hitler and the Nazis as the worst danger for Germany and the world. Cornwell minimises or, more importantly, totally omits the condemnation of Nazism that Pacelli made in Lourdes, Lisieux, Paris, and Budapest, where he was Papal Legate."
Fr Gumpel continued: "When Pacelli was elected Pope, the Berliner Morgenpost, the organ of the Nazi movement, considered him an enemy of Germany. His aversion for Nazism was so well known that the weekly of the Communist International, La Correspondance Internationale, wrote that 'In calling to succession the one who had demonstrated energetic resistance against the fascists' totalitarian ideas that tend to eliminate the Catholic Church, (and) Pius XI's most direct collaborator, the Cardinals made a demonstrative gesture by placing, as head of the Church, a representative of the Catholic resistance movement'."
Fr Gumpel adds that Cornwell did not publish reports written by the Gestapo against the Catholic Church and the Pope, nor did he take note of what the US, English, French, and Dutch newspapers were saying about Pius XII's resistance against the Nazis. In the archives recently opened by the (British) Foreign Office, Fr Gumpel says, "one can see that Pius XII was in touch with the German generals who wanted to overthrow Hitler. It was, in fact, Pacelli who transmitted to London the proposal of the German generals, who wanted to put an end to the Nazi regime."
Also overlooked was the fact that Dr Robert Kempner, former attorney at the Nuremberg Tribunal concerned with war crimes, having consulted the documents in the control of the Secret Services and of Hitler's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, revealed that Pius XII and the Catholic Church had sent a great number of protests, both direct and indirect, diplomatic and public, secret and explicit, to which the Nazis never responded.
Zenit News Service
Promoting the Catholic faith in Australia
Apologetics and Marian devotion initiatives
St Gabriel Communications, founded by Raymond de Souza of Perth (WA), has now introduced Catholic Apologetics by Mail, a monthly educational package consisting of an audiotape and study guide, which will be posted to anyone in Australia and New Zealand beginning in January 2000. Enrolment in this costs $20.00 (NZ$27.00) via St Gabriel Communications, PO Box 111, Forrestville WA 6058.
Mr de Souza is to be guest speaker at an apologetics seminar organised by the Melbourne Archdiocese's Catholic Youth Ministry for Saturday, 6 November, at The Cardinal Knox Centre, 383 Albert Street, East Melbourne. Inquiries about this can be made before 3 November on (03) 9926 5742.
In Queensland, the Confraternity of Mary Help of Christians and the monks of the Order of St Paul the First Hermit, at Marian Valley, have been running a pilgrim statue program, involving visitations of Australian parishes, since 2 February 1999. Throughout this year, the statue of Mary Help of Christians has travelled thousands of kilometres, accompanied by Mass, Eucharistic Devotion and Rosary.
The travelling statue program has prompted the sponsoring of a wooden statue of Australia's patroness as a gift to Our Lady and the Museum at Nazareth. The statue, made of Australian wood, is being prepared with the knowledge and blessing of Cardinal Clancy and Archbishop Bathersby, and will be taken to Bethlehem in December and find a permanent home at the Nazareth Museum.
New York Catholics' film protest
Another Hollywood attack on religion
On 4 October hundreds of Catholics protested against a film at the New York Film Festival starring Matt Damon and Ben Affleck that attacks Jesus and the Catholic Church. The movie Dogma features Alanis Morrisette as God, Chris Rock as a "wisecracking 13th apostle," Damon and Affleck as fallen angels trying to get back into heaven on a technicality, and Linda Fiorentino as a descendant of Jesus, who works at an abortion clinic.
The film was originally owned by controversial Miramax Films, but when the Walt Disney Co, which holds exclusive distribution rights for Miramax, told the company it would not distribute it, Miramax's owners Bob and Harvey Weinstein bought it, paid for its production, and found an independent distributor.
A number of organisations attended the New York rally, including the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights. In one leaflet, it was stated that Dogma, "mocks everything we hold sacred - God, the Church, the Mass, and Mary's virginity. It condones what we condemn - murder, obscenity, violence, profanity, drugs, drunkenness, and rebellion!"
Catholic World News
Another John the Baptist?
Liturgical dancing is not everyone's cup of tea, the Vatican's Archbishop John Foley noted during an address at the National Conference of Priests in Birmingham, England, last September. By way of example, the Archbishop recalled an American bishop of a Midwestern diocese who visited an extremely 'progressive' parish to conduct confirmation.
During the Offertory procession, the bishop was greeted by a display of liturgical dancing by one of the local nuns. As she wove her way up the aisle and approached the sanctuary, the bishop turned to the uncomfortable looking parish priest and whispered forcefully: "If she asks for your head on a platter, she's got it!"