The Church Around the World

The Church Around the World

Lay and priestly roles are distinctive says Vatican

Cardinal Sodano's Letter for Italian Liturgical Week

The need to avoid both the "clericalisation" of the laity and the "secularisation" of priests is the essence of a letter signed by the Vatican Secretary of State on behalf of John Paul II.

In the letter, published on 28 August by the Vatican Press Office, Cardinal Angelo Sodano acknowledges that, thanks to the work of the Second Vatican Council, "the laity have a clearer awareness of their vocation."

However, the letter states, over the years the Magisterium has also emphasised the importance of "safeguarding and defending the very identity of priests," conscious of the fact that the laity are called especially "to give evangelical witness in the world and to order temporal realities according to God's plan."

Cardinal Sodano's letter was addressed to Italian Bishop Luca Brandolini of Sora-Aquino-Ponte-corvo, on the occasion of the 52nd Italian Liturgical Week, being held at Trent. The topic of the meeting was "The Laity in the Liturgy: What Is Their Ministry?"

Alongside well-structured lay ministries, such as that of the missionary and catechist, so-called de facto ministries have been growing in Christian communities.

A typical example is the extraordinary ministry of the Eucharist, as happens "in a community that, in an emergency situation, remains without a priest for the celebration of the Lord's Eucharist." In such cases, it might be recommended that the faithful "meet in assembly around the Word of God under the guidance of an authorised lay minister," Cardinal Sodano suggests.

But such a situation, he points out, is not the norm. The Christian community is centred on the Eucharist, which can only be celebrated by a priest. There must be no confusion between the royal priesthood of believers and the ministerial priesthood; no room for the "clericalisation" of the laity, "which runs the risk of creating, in fact, an ecclesial structure of service parallel to the one founded on the sacrament" of Holy Orders.

Zenit News Service

US Bishops' anti-abortion advertising campaign

"Have We Gone Too Far?" is the theme

The US Bishops' Conference will test-market an anti-abortion advertising campaign so subtle that the public may not realise who is behind it. The campaign, unveiled on 28 August, will challenge abortion supporters in the Philadelphia and southern New Jersey area to answer the question: "Have we gone too far?"

The ads have no religious content and do not mention the Bishops' Conference. If successful, they could be used nationwide as the pro-life movement gains ground in the court of public opinion, said a spokeswoman for the Bishops' Conference.

One print ad shows a young woman with a nine-month calendar superimposed over her torso. The text says: "Nine months. The amount of time the Supreme Court says it's legal to have an abortion. Abortion. Have we gone too far?" A radio ad has piano music playing in the background, with a woman saying: "In America you can choose to have an abortion at any time, for any reason. Because of that, one out of every four pregnancies now ends in abortion."

The bishops' media blitz began on 4 September. Initially, plans were for 34 billboards at bus shelters, 143 ads on commuter rail cars and continuous radio spots on five stations.

An Internet presence at ( may be used nationwide.

The bishops are spending $250,000 in Philadelphia, hoping that regional Catholic dioceses will be inspired to use the materials in their communities.

Catholic World News

Bishop Manning analyses 'Liturgiam Authenticam'

Vatican document "sets stage for a new era of liturgical renewal"

In a lengthy analysis of the Vatican Instruction on the liturgy, Liturgiam Authenticam, in Catholic Outlook (August 2001), the Parramatta Diocese's official newspaper, Bishop Kevin Manning identifies himself with the teachings expressed in the document (published on 8 May 2001).

Bishop Manning noted that Liturgiam Authenticam "was approved by the Holy Father on 20 March, and issued by the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments on 28 March." The Instruction, he said, "sets the stage for a new era of liturgical renewal." At the same time, it is "intended to safeguard the liturgical tradition."

The Bishop's analysis brought out many of the key emphases in the Instruction, including the caution regarding inclusive language, the retention of "distinctive features" of Biblical language and the need to use "a dignified vernacular fit for worship." The vernacular translation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church was cited as a reference point in "translating words of greater theological significance."

Christianity almost "vanquished" in Britain

Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor's analysis of spiritual decline

Christianity has almost been vanquished in Britain, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor told the National Conference of Catholic Priests in Leeds on 5 September, according to a London Times report.

Christ was being replaced by music, New Age beliefs, the environmental movement, the occult and the free-market economy, the Archbishop of Westminster said. In a candid and unscripted passage of his speech, the Cardinal also spoke of the damage and shame brought to his Church by the scandal of paedophile priests.

His analysis of Britain's spiritual decline echoed the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey, who last year said: "A tacit atheism prevails. Death is assumed to be the end of life. Our concentration on the here-and-now renders any thought of eternity irrelevant."

But the Cardinal, leader of 4.1 million Roman Catholics in England and Wales, went much further. The extent to which Christianity informed modern culture and intellectual life in Britain today had been hugely diminished, he told the National Conference of Priests.

"It does seem in our countries in Britain today, especially in England and Wales, that Christianity, as a sort of backdrop to people's lives and moral decisions - and to the Government, the social life of the country - has now almost been vanquished."

Increasing numbers of people now gained their "glimpses of the transcendent" from involvement in music, New Age movements and green issues. People were seeking transient happiness in alcohol, drugs, pornography and recreational sex, the Cardinal said.

"There is indifference to Christian values and to the Church among many young people and, indeed, not only the young. You see quite a demoralised society, one where the only good is what I want, the only rights are my own, and the only life with any meaning or value is the life I want for myself."

In an apparent condemnation of both Thatcherism and "new" Labour, the Cardinal gave warning of the excesses of the free-market economy and consumerism. "When we live in a culture which says, 'What I have got is what I am', we are in big trouble. Whilst I understand that - to some degree - we are all consumers, this is something we all enjoy a bit, it's quite clear that a sole reliance on the market place does in the end actually prevent people from taking their destiny into their own hands.

Confronting the problem of priests who have sex with children, the Cardinal warned the Church against "apathy" and "negligence".

"All I want to say about this is quite clear and simple. I do not try to make excuses for the past. Yes, we must recognise the depth and the extent of the damage done to the Church and its mission in these cases."

He said priests, and especially bishops, had not been sufficiently aware of the "insidious" and "pathological" nature of child abuse and had not treated all allegations with the seriousness they merited.

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