Melbourne's new RE syllabus on track
Draft doctrinal overview sent to Catholic schools
All of Melbourne's Catholic primary schools are receiving a draft version of the Doctrinal Overview for the Religious Education text syllabus at primary levels. This contains the doctrinal framework to be developed and filled out in the texts. All schools will be invited to offer views, suggestions and criticisms. This material is also being sent to priests and made available to parents.
The draft Doctrinal Overview consists of a convenient four-page fold-out poster divided into columns with brief summaries of the doctrinal material to be covered at each grade level, organised into Junior, Middle and Senior Primary sections. Within these are to be found examples of the "seven foundation stones for catechetical content" identified by the General Directory for Catechesis (1997): The Creed, The Sacraments, The Ten Commandments, The Lord's Prayer, The Old Testament, The New Testament and the History of the Church.
According to Msgr Peter J. Elliott, a "teaching companion" will accompany each student text. In addition, a website for RE teachers will be set up to assist with lesson planning. Copies of the Doctrinal Overview can be obtained from PO Box 146, East Melbourne, 3002.
Archaeology supports Bible account
Paul's visit to Cyprus confirmed
Italian archeologists revealed last August that they have found a marble inscription on the island of Cyprus that supports the Biblical assertion that St Paul preached there.
The researchers from Catania University said they had found fragments at a dig in the town of Paphos bearing the inscription Apostolou Paulou. The fragments were found close to a temple dating from the ancient Hellenistic period and dedicated to the Greek god Apollo. Team director Professor Filippo Guidice told reporters: "This marble was made to commemorate the presence of the saint there. There is another marble like this in the catacombs of the Vatican."
Acts 13:4-6 relates how Paul and Barnabas visited Cyprus and journeyed as far as Paphos. Professor Giudice said the fact that the fragments bearing Paul's name were found near the temple of Apollo reaffirmed previous evidence that pagan temples were gradually taken over for Christian worship.
Catholic World News
Pope to visit New Delhi in November
Solemn closing of the Synod of Bishops for Asia
Pope John Paul II is scheduled to visit India between 5-9 November, according to Archbishop Alan Basil De Lastic of New Delhi, in a letter sent to India's 141 Bishops.
The trip would be made for the solemn closing of the Synod of Bishops for Asia, which took place in Rome in April-May 1998. The Pontiff might visit other Asian countries, but the Archbishop said he had no concrete information about other destinations.
Archbishop De Lastic, who is president of the Episcopal Conference of Catholic Bishops of India, said the Pope would only visit New Delhi. On the morning after his arrival, the Holy Father will meet with India's President, K.R. Narayanan, and a few hours later, with the bishops who participated in the Special Assembly of the Synod for Asia.
A public Mass will be celebrated on 7 November, at which time, the document Ecclesia in Asia might be promulgated. This includes the conclusions of the Church's summit in that continent, which took place last year. The Indian Episcopate has promised to give more details of the papal visit.
John Paul II's possible trip to Hong Kong has been definitely cancelled, because of the formal rejection communicated by the Chinese authorities, much to the disappointment of Hong Kong's 300,000 Catholics.
This will be the Pope's second visit to India. The first proved a veritable marathon. It began on 31 January and ended on 11 February 1986, during which time the Pontiff gave 41 speeches.
Zenit News Service
Church Life Survey Mass attendance statistics
Mass attenders older than Catholic population as a whole
Referring to statistics from the Catholic Church Life Survey (CCLS) in their report on the participation of women in the Catholic Church in Australia, Woman and Man (see page 7), the report's editors note that regular Mass-attenders are older on average than Catholics as a whole.
The CCLS figures revealed that while Catholics aged 15-34 constitute 40 percent of the whole Catholic population, they make up only 19 percent of Mass attenders. Those aged 35-64 are 46 percent of the whole Catholic population, but constitute 55 percent of Mass attenders. Even more pronounced, those over 64, while only 14 percent of the Catholic population, make up 26 percent of Mass attenders.
These figures make clear that the present 18 percent national average for weekly Mass attendances is likely to decline further in future. (The Diocese of Townsville, Queensland, is already under 10 percent).
John Paul II Institute seminar in Rome
Professors' Summit Focuses on Family
From 22-27 August, some 100 University professors met in the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome, to study God's plan on marriage and the family.
The meeting was organised by the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family. It is the last phase of a study that began a year and a half ago in the Lateran University, as well as in other branches of the Institute in the United States, Mexico, Spain, and in Centres in West Africa, Brazil, India and Australia.
The John Paul II Pontifical Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family was founded by the present Pope in 1981, to offer the Church the contribution resulting from theological and pastoral reflection on marriage and the family, necessary in the exercise of her evangelising mission. In the light of faith, and with the help of human sciences, the Institute attempts to seriously address the truth of matrimony and the family, as well as to prepare priests, religious and laymen in the exercise of their apostolate.
Noted UK Catholic author to tour Australia
Piers Paul Read to give lectures
The Campion Fellowship, an association which promotes the public apostolate of the Church in contemporary Australia, has organised a national lecture tour between 4-24 October of one of England's foremost writers, Piers Paul Read.
Piers Paul Read is the author of 13 novels and two works of non-fiction, including the best-seller Alive - later made into a successful movie. He is well known for his narrative power and spiritual insight.
The key themes of his lectures will be: "The Church and the Sexual Revolution", "A Catholic in the Modern World: Facing the Problems of Life in a Secularist Society" and "The Church Confessional: Should Catholics apologise for the Inquisition, the Crusades and the Holocaust?"
Piers Paul Read will be in Sydney 4-7 October, Canberra 8-9 October, Melbourne 10-14 October, Adelaide 15-16 October and Brisbane 22-24 October.
Information about these talks and various itineraries can be obtained from Karl Schmude (02) 6773 2165, John McCarthy (02) 9231 1006, James Power (07) 3263 6441, Tracey Rowland (03) 9853 1187 and Dr Brian Conway (08) 8361 8840.
Peruvian Archbishop on natural family planning
Calls for share of nation's birth control budget
Archbishop Juan Luis Cipriani Thorne of Lima has called on the Minister of Health to give the Catholic Church 30 percent of the budget the Ministry dedicates to birth control.
During an extensive interview with Radio Programas del Peru, the Archbishop said that the way the budget is used is "arbitrary and biased, since 99 percent of the money goes to promote artificial birth control." He added, "Mr. (Alejandro) Aguinaga (Peru's Health Minister) is my friend, but I want to remind him that the money is not his but from taxpayers, and that the Catholic Church represents a large majority of the population. With only 30 percent of the budget, we can show that Peruvians are capable of using the natural methods of family regulation, because they are not the uncontrollable animals the current birth control program assumes they are."
During the radio program, a female journalist asked Archbishop Cipriani if the Church was not impinging on a woman's right to have the information needed to control her body. The Archbishop said: "On the contrary! Precisely what we want is women to have the whole picture and not just the one provided by the current [birth control] program, which sees women as people incapable of controlling their own bodies. The problem with the program is that it presupposes a total moral incapacity of Peruvians. I have already told the Minister [of Health] in a personal conversation and now I make it public: the Church can effectively use 30 percent of the birth control budget to promote natural methods. We think this is our right and we will insist on it."
Catholic World News
Canonisation cause of Fr Manuel Perez Arnel
Spanish founder of first female labour union
In October, Archbishop Agustin Garcia-Gasco of Valencia will open Fr Manuel Perez Arnal's canonisation cause. Fr Perez was born in Naquera in 1879 and died in Valencia in 1946. In 1911 he established the "Needle's Union," the Women's Social Work - the first labour organisation for women in Spain.
The candidate for canonisation was the second child of working class parents. He did very well in his studies in the Seminary, and eventually received a doctorate in Philosophy and Dogmatic Theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. Upon his return to Valencia, he was coadjutor in Alboraya and Pobla de Vallbona, and later professor and spiritual director in Valencia's seminary.
He was always concerned with social issues, reflected in the fact he was "not just a perfect priest but also a great sociologist," according to Silvia Correale, postulator of his cause. He studied Pope Leo XIII's 1891 encyclical Rerum Novarum in great detail, particularly the Pontiff's proclamation of the right of all men and women to organise in associations to defend their dignity as workers.
On one Saturday night in the winter of 1911, when he was returning home after hearing a hospital patient's confession, the priest met a very young girl who was exhausted, after working for 14 hours in a factory. She was alone because her widowed mother, who had four very young children at home, was sick and could not pick her up. That night, after helping the girl, the 32-year-old priest decided to create a union to defend the rights of working women in keeping with Catholic principles.
"It seemed like a crazy idea to the women in whom he confided," Correale explained. But the priest was not discouraged by their reactions. He organised a women's group, composed primarily of seamstresses in a textile factory (where the name "Needle's Union" came from). After instruction from the priest, they dedicated themselves to the labour apostolate.
Today this body is known as the "Women's Social Work." It has chapters throughout Spain's Catholic dioceses as well as in Chile.
Valencia's Archbishop will sign the decree for the opening of the canonisation cause in October and also appoint the tribunal to conduct the process.
Zenit News Service
Science and Religion Symposium
Key issues to be examined
On Saturday, 16 October, commencing at 9.30am, a Science and Religion Symposium is to be held at Newman College, University of Melbourne. It has been organised by the Caroline Chisholm Library.
Topics to be addressed are "Attitudes to Evolution and the Argument from Design," "Darwin on Trial," "Religion and Cultural Change" and "Scientists and Storytellers."
The speakers are Professor Owen Potter of Monash University, Dr Richard Rymarz, Catholic secondary school teacher, Tracey Rowland, Doctoral Candidate at Cambridge University, and Kate Cleary, Caroline Chisholm Library.
Inquiries about the Symposium should be directed to the Caroline Chisholm Library, PO Box 13176, Melbourne 8010, tel: (03) 9670 1815.