Cardinal Bertone's book on Fatima secrets
Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican Secretary of State, introduced his new book on the message of Fatima, at a 21 September reception hosted by the Pontifical Urbanianum University.
In his book, titled The Last Fatima Visionary: My Meetings with Sister Lucia, Cardinal Bertone rejects speculation that the famous 'third secret of Fatima' has not yet been completely revealed.
In 2001 the Vatican ended years of speculation about the 'third secret' with the announcement by Pope John Paul II that the message confided by the Virgin Mary to the seers of Fatima was a prophetic vision, describing a struggle between the Catholic Church and a totalitarian system, culminating in an attempt on the life of the Pope. That vision, John Paul said, evidently referred to the attempt on his life, which took place on May 13 - the feast of our Lady of Fatima - in 1981.
At the time Cardinal Bertone - then an archbishop - was the secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and he travelled to Portugal to meet the last surviving Fatima seer, Sister Lucia, who was living in a convent in Coimbra. The cardinal's book is based on his conversations with Sister Lucia, who confirmed, he reports, 'Everything has been published; no secret remains.'
Cardinal Bertone's book is a direct rebuttal of a popular book by the Italian journalist Antonio Socci, which is titled The Fourth Secret of Fatima. In it Socci claims that the 2001 announcement from the Holy See presented only a fragment of the 'third secret.'
The cardinal's book includes a preface by Benedict XVI, who was the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the time the 'third secret' was revealed.
Catholic World News
Melbourne schools asked to drop Amnesty International
Amnesty International's abortion reversal is causing a reaction that is larger than the group may have believed possible. The head of the Melbourne Catholic Education Office, Stephen Elder, has urged all 328 of the archdiocese's schools to sever their connections with Amnesty.
Elder's letter called on schools to 'convey their disappointment' to AI, because they decided earlier this year to abandon their long-standing neutral position on abortion and to begin lobbying governments that ban abortion to decriminalise it.
He said that his office made repeated attempts to contact Amnesty over the issue to raise its 'serious concerns about the policy'. However, despite their efforts to discuss the new stance the talks proved fruitless.
'Abortion is a fundamental denial of the dignity of the human person and a breach of the human rights of the child,' Mr Elder said in a statement.
Amnesty's policy change is seen by many as a betrayal of its founding, since it was a Catholic layman, Peter Benenson, who established the group in 1961.
Maria Kirkwood, assistant director of religious education and pastoral care in the Melbourne archdiocese, said it was now 'impossible for the Catholic Church to continue to support Amnesty with a policy of this nature in place.'
Earlier, the president of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Archbishop Philip Wilson, had called on Amnesty International to reverse its stance, which he described as deeply regrettable.
A spokeswoman for Amnesty International confirmed it had already received letters from individual schools, withdrawing their support from the organisation because of its new position.
Catholic News Agency
New Guide lists faithful US Catholic colleges
The Virginia-based Cardinal Newman Society in September published a new comprehensive guide for Catholic students and parents selecting a college or university. The culmination of two years of research and interviews, The Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College recommends 21 Catholic colleges and universities in the US and Canada that 'faithfully live their Catholic identity and provide a quality undergraduate education'. This is less then ten percent of the total number.
The Newman Guide puts its stamp of approval on tertiary institutes ranging from Mount St Mary's University in Emmitsburg, Maryland, to Wyoming Catholic College of Lander, Wyoming, which recently opened.
The book sorts the 21 recommended institutions into three rough categories:
The 'joyfully Catholic' institutions are mostly those founded (or reformed) during the 1970s and committed from the outset to a strong Catholic identity, e.g., Christendom College, Thomas Aquinas College, Franciscan University of Steubenville, University of Dallas, and the University of St Thomas in Houston, Texas.
The 'born from the crisis' colleges and universities are of more recent vintage: Ave Maria University, Holy Apostles College and Seminary, John Paul the Great Catholic University, Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Academy, Southern Catholic College, and Wyoming Catholic College.
Finally, there are those that have resisted secularising trends such as The Catholic University of America, DeSales University, Mount St Mary's University and St Gregory's University.
Along with profiles of the 21 institutions and a special section explaining the omission of the University of Notre Dame, The Newman Guide offers essays on Catholic higher education by contributors including Archbishop Elden Curtiss of Omaha, Nebraska, Father Benedict Groeschel CFR and Dr Peter Kreeft.
The Cardinal Newman Society is a non-profit organisation begun in 1993 to renew and strengthen Catholic higher education.
Catholic World News
Benedict XVI's Letter on Latin Mass: follow-up
Archbishop Angelo Bagnasco of Genoa, the president of the Italian bishops' conference, has called Benedict XVI's recent letter on the expanded use of the Latin Mass an invitation to unity.
Archbishop Bagnasco emphasised his 'ever willing and unconditional collaboration' with Benedict XVI, 'especially when critical voices and voices of discord emerge in public opinion.' He added that the objective of the document was 'clearly entirely spiritual and pastoral.'
He explained that 'there will not be two rites' but 'a double use of the one and the same rite,' which 'we all want more at the centre of the ecclesial dynamic, an occasion for full reconciliation and for a loving unity in the Church itself.'
The Archbishop highlighted that 'this passion for unity must move every Christian and every pastor standing before the possibilities stemming from the 'motu proprio'.'
Meanwhile, more than 700 people, including Russia's ambassador to the Holy See, Nikolay Sadchikov, and a representative of the Russian Orthodox Church, were in attendance when Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos celebrated Mass using the 1962 Missal at the basilica of Loreto, Italy, on 14 September.
Cardinal Hoyos, who heads the Ecclesia Dei Commission, celebrated the Mass to mark the implementation of Benedict's motu proprio. Cardinal Hoyos acknowledged the presence of the Russian Orthodox Church's representative, and embraced him after the Mass and the singing of the Te Deum.
In his homily the cardinal remarked, 'Surely Our Lady has heard this rite celebrated many times. For her it is not a novelty.' He emphasised that the Pope's initiative was intended to promote reconciliation within the Church.
Zenit News Agency
Maryland court upholds traditional marriage
On 18 September, the state appeals court of Maryland ruled in a 4-3 decision that marriage in the state can only be between a man and a woman. 'The state', it said, 'has a legitimate interest in maintaining heterosexual marriage as the institution that allows procreation and the traditional family structure.'
It continued: 'Our task ... is to determine whether the right to same- sex marriage is so deeply embedded in the history, tradition and culture of this state and nation that it should be deemed fundamental,' the court wrote in a 244-page opinion. 'We hold that it is not.'
The court did recognise that homosexual relationships 'extend to the core of the right to personal autonomy,' but do not need the courts to formally declare them a marriage.
One US state, Massachusetts, has legalised gay marriage, and four others, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, and most recently New Jersey, have civil unions which give same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexual married couples.
The Maryland decision was welcomed by the Family Research Council, which filed a brief in favour of the state's law defining marriage as between a man and a woman: 'We commend the court for upholding the law rather than imposing the views of a persistent minority. This is an outright rejection of judicial activism and strengthens the legal battle against same-sex 'marriage'.'
Catholic News Agency
Chief Vatican liturgist replaced
Benedict XVI has replaced Archbishop Piero Marini, the longtime director of the office of papal liturgies.
Archbishop Marini, who has coordinated papal liturgical celebrations since 1987, was a familiar face to millions of Catholics, appearing regularly beside John Paul II and then Benedict XVI at papal ceremonies.
Once a private secretary to Archbishop Annibale Bugnini, the chief architect of the liturgical reforms following Vatican II, Archbishop Marini was also a lightning-rod for controversy because of his penchant for liturgical innovation. Since the election of Benedict XVI, Vatican- watchers had speculated that Archbishop Marini would be replaced by someone more sympathetic to the new Pope's own more traditional approach to the liturgy.
Confirming reports that had circulated early in September, Benedict named another cleric with the same surname - Father Guido Marini of the Genoa archdiocese - to become the new master of ceremonies for papal liturgies.
Father Marini has been serving as chancellor and chief liturgist for the Archdiocese of Genoa. In those capacities he served closely with the former archbishop - and current Vatican Secretary of State - Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.
Catholic World News
US Anglicanism in crisis
The Episcopal bishops of the United States, attempting to avoid a schism, promised to 'exercise restraint' by not approving more gay bishops and not authorising a formal ritual for blessing same-sex unions.
The pledge was part of an eight-point statement issued on 25 September at a meeting in New Orleans. According to church officials, it reduces the likelihood that the Episcopal Church will be ousted from the 77 million-member global Anglican Communion.
The presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, Katharine Jefferts Schori, said she hoped that 'our sacrificial actions and united actions' will help stave off schism.
The bishops' eight-point statement also criticised actions by Anglican bishops from the developing world (mostly from Africa and Latin America) who have agreed to oversee conservative clergy and congregations in the US.
It called for the Archbishop of Canterbury to find a way for openly gay bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire to attend the next Lambeth Conference and for 'unequivocal and active commitment to the civil rights, safety and dignity of gay and lesbian persons.'
However, Bishop Martyn Minns of Fairfax, Virginia, said it was a matter of when not if there would be a split: 'Sooner or later we're going to have to acknowledge that the current approach isn't working.'
Already four or five of the 110 US Episcopal dioceses are talking about trying to leave the Episcopal Church, while a third Episcopal bishop has resigned from the Episcopal Church and become a Catholic.
Bishop Jeffrey Steenson of Rio Grande, New Mexico, announced his decision in September: 'This is not the Anglicanism in which I was formed, inspired by the Oxford Movement and the Catholic Revival in the Church of England.'
Catholic News Agency