Orthodoxy attracts more religious vocations
The Georgetown University-based Center for the Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) recently conducted a survey of US religious communities on behalf of the National Religious Vocations Conference (NRVC), a Chicago-based professional association of religious vocation directors.
The NRVC report, titled "Recent Vocations to the Religious Life", shows American religious are an ageing population overall, with most communities reporting diminishing numbers. About 75 percent of finally professed men and 91 percent of finally professed women are aged 60 and over, while a majority of those under the age of 60 are in their 50s.
The research, which was conducted over the past year with institutes representing 80 percent of all religious, shows that the groups that are most successful in attracting and retaining new members follow a more traditional style of religious life.
Most new religious members want to live, work and pray with other members of their community, preferring to live in larger communities of eight or more. Those institutes in which members live alone face major difficulties in attracting new members.
In the study that surveyed new members of the various religious orders and institutes, 85 percent said that they chose a particular community because they were "very much" attracted by the example of its members.
As well, the report continued, they "wear a religious habit, work together in common apostolates, and are explicit about their fidelity to the Church and the teachings of the Magisterium. All of these characteristics are especially attractive to the young people who are entering religious life today".
The research noted significant generational gaps in the communities, especially between "the Millennial Generation - born in 1982 or later - and the Vatican II Generation - born between 1943 and 1960."
Younger respondents are more likely than older members to report attraction to religious life due to the desire to be "more committed to the Church and to their particular institute by its fidelity to the Church."
Zenit News Agency
Cardinal Arinze cautions against false inculturation
Cardinal Francis Arinze, who served as prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments from 2002 to 2008, warned the bishops of Asia during a homily on 16 August against liturgical "idiosyncracies" and false conceptions of inculturation. He also sounded a cautionary note against liturgical dance.
Preaching in Manila at the closing Mass of the plenary assembly of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences, Cardinal Arinze - Pope Benedict's special envoy to the meeting - encouraged Asian bishops to foster Eucharistic adoration and reverence.
"Adoration manifests itself in such gestures as genuflection, a deep bow, kneeling, prostration and silence in the presence of the Lord. Asian cultures have a deep sense of the sacred and transcendent ... The fashion in some parts of the world of not installing kneelers in churches should not be copied by the Church in Asia"
Cardinal Arinze warned against false conceptions of inculturation and urged observance of liturgical norms.
"The way in which Holy Communion is distributed should be clearly indicated and monitored and individual idiosyncracies should not be allowed ... It is not right that the priest discard any of the vestments just because the climate is hot or humid. If necessary, the Bishop can arrange the use of lighter cloth ...
"Dance in particular needs to be critically examined because most dances draw attention to the performers and offer enjoyment. People come to Mass, not for recreation, but to adore God, to praise and thank him, to ask pardon for their sins, and to request other spiritual and temporal needs."
Catholic News Agency
Chesterton Conference to be held in Sydney
The Australian Chesterton Society is holding a one-day conference at Campion College Australia on Saturday, 10 October 2009.
The conference theme is "Double Vision: Converts in Combination". It will explore the lives and thoughts of a range of 20th century writers - philosophers, novelists, poets - who, in the midst of cultural upheaval, found their way into the Catholic Church.
The special focus of the conference will be various Catholic converts considered in pairs and the writers in each case will be considered as part of a wider movement of intellectual discovery and devotion.
Papers will be presented on Graham Greene and Evelyn Waugh (Adjunct Professor Donat Gallagher), Jacques and Raissa Maritain (John Young), James McAuley and Les Murray (Dr Stephen McInerney), and Chesterton and Malcolm Muggeridge (Karl Schmude).
The conference will begin at 9.00am on the Saturday and conclude with Mass in the Campion College chapel at 5.15pm.
The cost of the conference is $45.00. Further information and registration details are available from the Secretary/Treasurer of the Australian Chesterton Society, Ray Finnegan, 13 Fossey Street, Holder ACT 2611, (02) 6288 5137.
Evangelical leaders praise the Pope's encyclical
Benedict XVI's latest encyclical was praised in August by 68 Evangelical Protestant community leaders from the United States, Canada, England, the Netherlands, Sri Lanka and New Zealand.
In their message, titled "Doing the Truth in Love," a group of university leaders and professors, press editors and presidents of various institutions signed a message to "applaud" the Pope's encyclical, Caritas in Veritate.
The message called on Christians everywhere to "read, wrestle with, and respond to Caritas in Veritate and its identification of the twin call of love and truth upon our lives as citizens, entrepreneurs, workers and, most fundamentally, as followers of Christ."
It commended the way in which the encyclical "considers economic development in terms of the true trajectory for human flourishing."
The evangelicals endorsed "the affirmation that an economy of charity demands space for myriad human communities and institutions, not just for the state and the market, but also families and the many relationships of civil society."
They affirmed a shared fear about the "growth of an overweening welfare state, which degrades social and civic pluralism," and agreed that "subsidiarity and solidarity must be held in tandem."
The message voiced a commitment to be, as Caritas in Veritate stated, protagonists in the effort for "global solidarity, economic justice, and the common good, as norms that transcend and transform the motives of economic profit and technical progress."
It concluded with a call for "serious dialogue among all Christians and with many others to make these goals practical realities."
Zenit News Agency
New Jersey Bishops refute same-sex "marriage" errors
The Catholic bishops of New Jersey have distributed a letter explaining Church teaching on marriage and refuting the errors of the same-sex "marriage" proponents. Urging the faithful to "protect and promote" marriage, they discussed the God- given natural complementarity of the union of man and woman.
New Jersey state legislators may vote on recognising same-sex "marriage" sometime after the November election and parish priests throughout the state were directed to distribute the bishops' letter, titled "The Call to Marriage is Woven Deeply into the Human Spirit".
"As Catholics, we must not stand by in silence in the face of the many challenges that threaten marriage and, in turn, children and the public good. We must not shirk from our responsibility," the bishops' message began.
The bishops noted a "broad cultural shift" away from religion and social traditions and towards "secular individualism." They described some states' recent recognition of same-sex "marriage" as an expression of this cultural trend.
"We must protect and promote marriage," the bishops continued, saying Catholic teaching on marriage and the complementarity of the sexes is a truth "evident to right reason" and recognised by the world's major cultures.
The bishops warned of laws and policies that "unjustly target people as bigots" or charge them with unlawful discrimination "simply because they believe and teach that marriage is the union of a man and a woman."
They added: "Same-sex unions are not, in fact, the same thing as the union of one man and one woman in marriage. One type of union may ever generate children, the other may never; one type of union respects and expresses the inherent complementarity of man and woman; the other does not."
However, Christian unity on marriage is fractured in New Jersey, with the Episcopal Bishop of Newark vocally supporting same-sex "marriage" for several years.
Catholic News Agency
US bishops prepare for new Mass translations
To prepare American Catholics for changes to some of the words used at Mass, the nation's bishops have offered a side-by-side comparison chart of the liturgical changes, with the bishops' website aiming to minimise discomfort in parishes by already publishing some of the changes.
For example, catechists, parents and the faithful in general can begin to prepare "And with your spirit" as the response to the priest's "The Lord be with you."
Changes that promise to take longest to become familiar are those that affect prayers said by the congregation: the Confiteor, Gloria and Nicene Creed will have a more faithful translation.
"I confess to almighty God and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have greatly sinned in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done and in what I have failed to do, through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault ...", the faithful will soon pray at the beginning of Mass.
In reciting their common faith, Mass attendees will say the Nicene Creed this way: "I believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages."
Zenit News Agency
US scientist: Pope is right about AIDS
The director of Harvard's AIDS Prevention Research Project, Edward Green, has said that Benedict XVI's position was right in the debate on AIDS and condoms.
Dr Green, an expert in AIDS prevention, was addressing the 30th annual Meeting for Friendship Among Peoples in Rimini, sponsored by the lay movement, Communion and Liberation, in August.
He said that "as a scientist he was amazed to see the closeness between what the Pope said last March in Cameroon and the results of the most recent scientific discoveries."
He affirmed: "The condom does not prevent AIDS. Only responsible sexual behaviour can address the pandemic." Yet, "When Benedict XVI said that different sexual behaviour should be adopted in Africa, because to put trust in condoms does not serve to fight against AIDS, the international press was scandalised."
While the condom might work for particular individuals, it could not serve to address the situation of a continent, for "to propose the regular use of the condom as prevention in Africa could have the opposite effect."
He explained this in terms of the phenomenon of human behaviour called "risk compensation," whereby a person "feels protected and thus exposes himself more."
Zenit News Agency