Cardinal Arinze: reverence needed in the Liturgy
The Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, Cardinal Francis Arinze, told a group of visiting bishops in September to ensure proper celebrations of the Eucharistic liturgy in their dioceses.
"The Bishop's duty to sanctify by means of the holy liturgy is the summit of the service which he is called to exercise in the Church," said Cardinal Arinze in his address to bishops who were in Rome for a seminar organised by the Congregation for Evangelisation.
He encouraged them to work closely with their priests, to make sure that every priest celebrates Mass with reverence and in obedience to liturgical norms.
Because he was speaking to an audience drawn primarily from Third World countries, the Cardinal dwelt at some length on the question of "inculturation" and the need to educate the faithful about the liturgy. He mentioned that Sunday homilies can be an appropriate time to explain the teachings and liturgical traditions of the Church - in fact, homilies provide "the main channel of religious formation for most Catholics."
Cardinal Arinze insisted that "inculturation" must be undertaken with care, to ensure that the essential forms of the liturgy are not disturbed. He urged the bishops to guard against "frequent changes, or the introduction of rites invented by the celebrant."
Catholic World News
Pope John Paul II's new Apostolic Letter
Pope John Paul's Apostolic Letter Mane Nobiscum Domine ("Stay with us, Lord"), addressed to the bishops, clergy and faithful of the Church on the occasion of the October 2004-October 2005 Year of the Eucharist, was presented on 8 October in the Holy See Press Office by Cardinal Francis Arinze.
Cardinal Arinze recalled that the Holy Father announced the celebration of a Year of the Eucharist throughout the Church during Mass at St John Lateran Basilica on 10 June 2004, the solemnity of Corpus Christi. Calling the 30-page Letter "beautiful and incisive," the Cardinal added that it "will help guide the Church to celebrate this special year with the greatest possible fruits."
Cardinal Arinze pointed out that "the underlying theme of the Apostolic Letter is the story of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus." The Year of the Eucharist, he said, would "see the Church especially committed to living the mystery of the Holy Eucharist".
He concluded: "The encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist drives every Christian to give witness, to evangelise the Church. We must thank the Lord and never hesitate to show our faith in public. The Eucharist compels us to show solidarity towards others, becoming promoters of harmony, peace, and, especially, of sharing with the needy ... Priority must be given to Sunday Masses and to Eucharistic adoration outside of Mass."
Vatican Information Service
Emperor Charles of Austria beatified
With Pope John Paul II visibly very frail, and speaking in a tired and husky voice, a moving beatification ceremony was held on the first weekend in October in bright sunshine in St Peter's Square.
It had caused much noise in the media, as among those being beatified was Emperor Charles, the last Habsburg ruler, an idealistic and devout young man who died in 1922 leaving a young widow and eight children. He has been a virtually unknown figure in the English-speaking world, and also in Europe, but this did not stop the press in Britain and France denouncing him as a war criminal and attacking the Pope for beatifying him.
The beatification of Emperor Charles of Austria - who, far from being a war criminal, was the only ruler in Europe who tried to stop World War I and who denounced attacks on civilians, submarine warfare, and aerial bombardment - dominated media reports of the beatification ceremony, but did not halt the enthusiasm in Rome.
The Emperor was aged just 34 when he died in poverty and exile in Madeira.
His beatification took place alongside that of five others including Anna Catherine Emmerich, the mystic whose visions of the Passion of Christ are said to have been the inspiration for Mel Gibson's world-renowned film.
The others beatified - Fr Pierre Vigne, a priest dedicated to the Eucharist, Fr Joseph-Marie Cassant a young Trappist monk, and Sister Marian Ludovica de Angelis, an Italian nun who worked with orphans in Argentina - all have followers in religious orders who brought crowds to Rome to share the celebrations.
There was a moment of high emotion when the Mass ended and members of the former Emperor's family - including his eldest son Otto who, aged 92, came to kneel before the Pope and receive his blessing.
Pope John Paul II, whose baptismal name is Karol or Charles, was named in honour of Emperor Charles, who as a young Archduke was popular with the Poles as it was known that he favoured a new framework for central Europe that would give them their freedom.
As a special mark of emphasis on Blessed Charles' role as a husband and father, the Pope announced that his feast-day will be 21 October, his wedding-day. This is a break from tradition as a saint's feast-day is usually the day that person died.
Joanna Bogle wrote this report from Rome for AD2000.
Hindu extremists attack Missionaries of Charity
The state of Kerala in southern India was the scene on 26 September of another attack on Catholics. This time, the victims were sisters from Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity, who were beaten while they were serving food to the poor.
According to The Hindu newspaper, the nuns were assaulted with rods by Hindu extremists and warned not to enter the local villages. Four nuns, three brothers and two drivers from the congregation were treated for wounds to the head. At present police have rounded up 14 Hindus involved in the attacks.
The EFE News Agency reported that the attacks took place in Kerala's Kozhikode district, first when the sisters attempted to distribute food to "untouchables," and second when the regional superior of the order arrived with seven other nuns to see what had occurred.
Regional police chief Arvind Ranjan said, "These are very serious acts," and he assured that police are investigating those responsible for the assaults.
Hindu extremists, who are responsible for a number of attacks and threats against Christians in different regions of India, have accused the Missionaries of Charity of converting lower caste Hindus to Christianity.
The Missionaries of Charity have denied they are engaging in proselytism saying they tend to "Hindus, Muslims and Christians," without requiring that anybody convert to Catholicism.
The Fides News Agency published the official reaction of the Bishops Conference of India. "We strongly condemn the attacks against the Missionaries of Charity which took place yesterday in Kerala. We are very concerned about the worsening of Hindu fundamentalist groups who seek a political role," said Fr Babu Joseph Karakombil, spokesman for the Conference.
He added, "We have received the solidarity expressed by civil organisations and institutions, and by numerous Hindu, Muslim and Buddhist religious groups."
Catholic News Agency
New Age courses popular in Ireland
According to David Quinn, religious affairs correspondent for Irish Independent (23 September) Catholic theological institutes are offering courses in New Age spiritualities and therapies including Indian Head Massage, Spiritual Dance, Imago Relational Therapy and The Eastern Theory of Blocked Kundalini, in a bid to be more relevant.
The New Age courses are often proving more popular than the traditional ones, such as the theology of St Thomas Aquinas being offered at the Dominican-run Priory Institute in Tallaght. Indian Head Massage, which is also on offer at the institute, is over-subscribed, but the course in St Thomas is only selling slowly.
The Jesuit-run Milltown Institute of Theology and Philosophy, and the Vincentian-run All Hallows College in Drumcondra, are also offering New Age orientated courses.
The Theory of Kundalini comes from Hinduism and is based on the idea that all of us possess reserves of spiritual energy that rest at the base of the spine and which we need to know how to release.
Indian Head Massage at the Priory Institute promises those who enrol in the six-week course that they will "learn an ancient art for healing and relaxation".
Valerie Warren of the Priory Institute said it offers the courses "to respond to needs as we see them and to draw people in. Many have a very old-fashioned view of what Catholic theological institutes offer, that it might be fundamentalist, all catechetics. [Our courses are] more holistic".
However, Fr Brendan Purcell, a lecturer in philosophy at University College Dublin, expressed reservations about Catholic institutes teaching courses that aren't Catholic, strictly speaking.
He said: "I can understand why institutions that might be cash-strapped would offer popular courses, but if they're sold as innocuous there's a danger that the Catholic Church might be legitimising the overall philosophies they belong to in the eyes of Catholics."
Huge DVD sales of 'The Passion of the Christ'
DVD/VHS sales of the The Passion of the Christ continue to soar, despite a campaign in September that had 100 theologians sign a statement, condemning the Mel Gibson film for being anti-Semitic. About nine million DVDs were sold in the first three weeks of its release.
"Acknowledging that many people have responded positively to the film, we still find it lamentable that Christian leaders so easily pass over its anti-Jewish character in favour of what they perceive to be its positive aspects," reads the theologians' statement. "We also acknowledge that many who see the film are honestly unaware of its anti-Jewish elements," it continues.
In a counter-statement, Catholic League president William Donohue expressed his resentment of the theologians' "arrogance" and seemingly condescending comments toward people who like the film. "The success of The Passion of the Christ conclusively demonstrates that the unethical campaign to censor the movie and malign the millions who love it has been an abject failure," said Donohue.
Prior to the film's release, the film's critics tried to block the film, saying it would spark anti-Semitic violence around the world. However, in their statement, the theologians admitted that anti-Semitic violence had, in fact, not occurred. Donohue said this declaration "gives the rest of us a lot of satisfaction knowing just how wrong they've been all along."
Catholic News Agency
Spain's same-sex marriage legislation
Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, the President of the Pontifical Council for the Family, has denounced new Spanish legislation that would give full legal recognition to same-sex unions.
Speaking on Vatican Radio on 2 October, the Cardinal said that Spanish lawmakers were "inventing a new definition of marriage, quite different from the existing one." The approval of the new policy, he said, is "quite a sad thing," and "a true dehumanisation" of the Government's attitude towards family life.
He charged that by allowing same-sex couples to adopt children, the new law would violate a 1989 UN agreement on children, which stressed that the welfare of children must be placed above all other considerations. The Vatican has stated that the adoption of children by same-sex couples is a form of abuse.
The Cardinal explained that a child needs the stability that comes from having a father and a mother; the parents provide "a complementarity that is essential to the child's psychological development."
The Spanish bishops' conference issued a statement declaring the new legislation "a virus infecting all of society." If it receives final approval, the legislation would make Spain the second European country - after the Netherlands - to make homosexual unions fully equal to legal marriage. Belgium also recognises same-sex "marriage," but does not allow homosexual couples to adopt children.
Catholic News Agency