New Vatican liturgical document due soon
Sources in Rome suggest late this year as likely
Informed sources in Rome are reporting that the Holy See will release an important document on the liturgy in October or November, the ACI- Prensa news service reported in August.
According to the report - which has not been confirmed by the Vatican - the new text will be the document to which Pope John Paul II referred in his encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia, when he said that new juridical norms concerning the liturgy would soon be forthcoming from the Roman Curia.
ACI-Prensa reported that the new document was likely to set out clear guidelines for the proper celebration of the Mass, reminding priests they do not have the authority to change the liturgy at their own discretion. Vatican officials have issued frequent directives in recent months that liturgical guidelines must be properly respected, and indicated that there is a growing concern in Rome about unauthorised liturgical changes.
Catholic World News
US 'Doe' and 'Roe' abortion decisions
Former plaintiffs appeal for their reversal
The two women who were plaintiffs in the Roe and Doe decisions of 1973, in which the US Supreme Court effectively struck down all state laws restricting abortion, have now joined in asking the courts to reverse their decisions.
Sandra Cano, the "Mary Doe" of the Doe v Bolton case, filed her motion in Atlanta on 28 August to set aside that ruling. "I'm going back to court to right a wrong," said Cano. "Abortion has hurt millions of women," she said, "and I regret my role." A similar motion by Norma McCorvey, the plaintiff in Roe v Wade, was already filed last June. Her motion is currently pending before the Court of Appeals of the 5th Circuit.
Cano and McCorvey both regret their individual roles in Doe and Roe and seek to reverse their cases which brought abortion on demand and its tragic effects to America. McCorvey's motion to reverse Roe, filed June 17, 2003, is on appeal to the Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit and headed to the US Supreme Court.
"The truth is that I did not seek or want an abortion. I was young, uninformed, and in a difficult situation," Cano said. "Not once in the process was I given an opportunity to speak, and no judge or attorney in court asked me how I felt about abortion," she said. Cano says her case was based on lies and deception.
Cano and McCorvey were originally brought before the Supreme Court as women who needed abortions in order to protect or improve their lives. Now they return to the Supreme Court as representatives of the women who have been exploited and injured by the abortion industry. McCorvey once worked at an abortion clinic and now believes, with Cano, that abortion is a safety hazard, not a safety net.
Over 1,000 women who have suffered severe physical and/or emotional problems related to their abortions have provided sworn statements in support of Cano and McCorvey's motions. "We're standing with Sandra Cano in saying the Doe decision was a mistake. We now have conclusive evidence that abortion is physically dangerous and emotionally devastating," said one statement.
Catholic World News
Cardinal Ratzinger on the Church's crisis
Sees "weakness of faith" as a major factor
For Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the crisis the Church is going through, particularly in the United States, is "a weakness of faith" that calls for conversion and "clear moral teaching."
The Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith expressed this conviction during an interview over EWTN aired on 5 September.
Asked what he identified as the root cause of the sexual abuse crisis, Cardinal Ratzinger said, "The general element is a weakness of human beings, even of priests. Temptations are present also for the priests. I think the essential point is a weakness of faith."
He considered two steps to be essential: "Conversion to a profound and deep faith, with a life of prayer and sacraments, and clear moral teaching and awareness of the teaching that the Church has the Holy Spirit and can give us the way".
Asked about the role of the US bishops' conference in addressing the problem, Cardinal Ratzinger replied: "Coordination between the bishops is certainly necessary because the United States is a great continent. From the outset it is clear that the personal responsibility of the bishop is fundamental for the Church, and perhaps the anonymity of the bishops' conferences can be a danger for the Church. Nobody is personally, immediately responsible. It was always the conference - and you do not know where or who is the conference."
Zenit News Service
"Gay rights" Catholic politicians criticised
Knights of Columbus head speaks out
Carl A. Anderson, head of the 1.6-million-member Knights of Columbus, has used his message in the August issue of the organisation's Columbia magazine to take to task Canadian Catholic political leaders for endorsing homosexual "marriage."
"This summer we have seen the spectacle of Catholic officials in Canada endorsing a proposal to legalise so- called 'marriage' by homosexual couples," wrote Anderson.
"These officials seem to have concluded that society has evolved beyond the moral teaching of their Church," he continued. "Their actions reflect a profound defect in the formation of conscience among a wide segment of Catholic leaders."
Prime Minister Jean Chretien, Justice Minister Martin Cauchon, and the two leading contenders to take over for the prime minster, Paul Martin and Sheila Copps, are all Catholic and all have come out in support of homosexual marriage.
Church leaders' political statements
Archbishop Pell backs Foreign Minister's concerns
Archbishop George Pell of Sydney last month indicated his sympathy for a federal minister who voiced frustration with the political statements issued by Church leaders.
Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer had criticised religious leaders - including Catholic bishops - for their tendency to make "popular political headlines" by issuing statements critical of government policy. He mentioned in particular the "intemperate denunciations" of Australian support for the Iraq war.
Downer made it clear that he was not seeking to stifle criticism from religious leaders. "I will always defend the right of the churches to enter the political debates of our time," he said. But he cautioned that Church leaders also must be conscious of their responsibilities "to the facts, to their congregations, and to their faiths."
While many Australian religious leaders promptly denounced the Foreign Minister's speech, Archbishop Pell said that is was "an excellent talk, worth studying."
The Archbishop observed that Downer had not questioned the right of Church leaders to speak out on public issues. Rather, he said, Downer had questioned the prudence of the religious leaders' statements.
Archbishop Pell supported Downer's criticism, saying that "some ecclesiastics can get it wrong." He added: "One or two do so frequently."
Catholic World News
Judge Bork, baptised a Catholic at 76
Former US Supreme Court nominee explains reasons
It may be a little late to start for most, but Robert Bork, the former Supreme Court nominee who has written books decrying the decline of Western culture, has just been baptised. After years of dodging a religious label, Bork was baptised a Catholic by Fr C. John McCloskey.
Bork, a scholar with the American Enterprise Institute, was raised a Protestant and had called himself a "generic Protestant." He was known more for his conservative legal views, which some Democrats used to shoot down his court nomination during the Reagan administration.
In a brief interview, he said that years of "conversations and reading" led him to baptism at McCloskey's small Catholic Information Centre chapel near the White House. Talks with and recommendations from the priest, as well as attending church with his wife, Mary Ellen Bork, a former nun, also helped pave the way.
Numerous prominent Catholics were present, including the columnist and speechwriter Peggy Noonan, herself a convert.
The best part of getting baptised at 76, said Bork, was that "if you get baptised at my age, all of your sins are forgiven. And that's very helpful."
1633 letter sheds light on Galileo case
Highlights need for a more balanced appraisal of Church's role
A recently discovered letter confirms that Pope Urban VIII was concerned the case brought against Galileo Galilei be speedily resolved given the astronomer's frail health.
The letter was discovered in August by historian Francesco Beretta, professor of the history of Christianity of the German University of Freiburg. He found it in the archives of the former Holy Office, now the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
It is a letter of the Holy Office's Commissioner Vincenzo Maculano da Firenzuola, dated 22 April 1633, and addressed to Cardinal Francesco Barberini, to express the Pope's concern for the scientist accused of heresy.
According to Professor Beretta, the preparation of the 22 June 1633 sentence against Galileo, at least in its essential parts, is probably due to that same commissioner of the Holy Office.
"Undoubtedly, for some today Galileo is synonymous with freedom, modernity and progress, while the Church is synonymous with dogmatism, obscurantism, stagnation. However, the reality is very different from this perception which arises from fantasy," explained Archbishop Angelo Amato, 65, the new secretary of the doctrinal congregation.
Archbishop Amato called for an end to the legend surrounding Galileo, "transmitted by a false iconography according to which Galileo was incarcerated and even tortured so that he would abjure. When he resided some 20 days in the Holy Office, his room was the apartment of the attorney - one of the highest officials of the Inquisition - where he was assisted by his own servant. During the rest of his stay in Rome he was the guest of the Florentine ambassador at the Villa Medici."
In an earlier interview, Cardinal Poupard had said: "Of course, Galileo suffered much; but the historical truth is that he was condemned only to 'formalem carcerem' - a kind of house arrest. Several judges refused to endorse the sentence, and the Pope at the time did not sign it."
Following a Vatican commission's 1981-1992 investigation and the Holy Father's rehabilitation of Galileo, the case could be considered closed, said Archbishop Amato.
This episode, he concluded, has taught us not to highlight "the opposition but rather the harmony that must reign" between reason and faith, "the two wings with which the Christian can fly to God," as "John Paul II has synthesised it in the encyclical Fides et Ratio."
Zenit News Service
Pope may name new cardinals soon
Speculation regarding likely dates
Italian journalists have stepped up their speculation that Pope John Paul II might convene a consistory, and elevate new members to the College of Cardinals, in October of this year.
The speculative stories are based on the fact that the Holy Father has invited all of the world's cardinals to assemble in Rome in October, to join in the celebrations as he marks the 25th anniversary of his papal election. The Vatican has confirmed that the current members of the College of Cardinals have been invited to Rome for that occasion; there has been no comment from the Holy See regarding the rumours that some new red hats will be distributed at that time.
A second rumor - also unconfirmed by the Vatican - is that the Pope will call a consistory for February 2004.
The rumours of a consistory reflect the fact that by next February, only 103 cardinals will be under the age of 80 and therefore eligible to vote in a papal conclave. The current norms for the College allow for 120 cardinal- electors.
The speculation is also fueled by the fact that recent appointments to the Roman Curia and to several major archdioceses have put several prelates into positions that are normally held by cardinals.
Catholic World News