Next World Youth Day theme
Pope Benedict XVI has unveiled the theme for the next World Youth Day to be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 2013.
"The motto will be the command of Jesus: 'Go and make disciples of all peoples.' Even now I entrust to the prayers of all the preparation of these very important appointments," said the Pope during his 24 August general audience at the papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo.
Benedict's announcement came less than a week after his visit to this year's World Youth Day which he described as "a stupendous manifestation of faith for Spain and for the whole world."
During his four days in Madrid, he presided over eight events before reaching the pinnacle of WYD - Mass for an estimated two million pilgrims at Madrid's Cuatro Vientos on the Sunday.
"For the multitude of young people from every corner of the earth it was a special occasion for reflection, dialogue, to exchange positive experiences and, above all, to pray together and renew their commitment to root their lives in Christ," he said.
He described the World Youth Day pilgrims as a "precious gift which gives hope for the future of the Church" with their "firm and sincere desire to entrench their life in Christ" and to "walk together in the Church."
Benedict said he was sure that the young pilgrims would return home "with a firm resolve to be leaven in the dough, bringing the hope that is born of faith." He also assured them all of his continued prayers that they "remain faithful to their commitments."
Australian bishops' note on Bishop Morris
The following note, signed by Archbishop Philip Wilson, President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, and Fr Brian Lucas, General Secretary, was sent to the Toowoomba Diocese in response to various protests at the dismissal of Bishop William Morris last May.
"At the meeting of the Permanent Committee of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference on 2nd August a petition was presented from members of the faithful of the Diocese of Toowoomba. Many people have written or sent emails to the Holy Father, the Bishops Conference, the Apostolic Nuncio, and individual Bishops in support of Bishop Morris. The members of the Permanent Committee are aware that there are some who take a different view and they are aware of publications that are openly hostile to Bishop Morris.
"The Bishops Conference does not have any jurisdiction with respect to an individual Bishop or his leadership of the Diocese. The reality of our ecclesial structure is that the Conference is not able to resolve the issues that have arisen. Not only do the local Bishops not have access to all the information on which Pope Benedict came to his decision, but what has happened in Toowoomba is a matter between the Holy Father and Bishop Morris.
To assist in dealing with the questions that correspondents have raised, the Permanent Committee has resolved to refer the issue of process and the doctrinal matter of the infallibility of the teaching on women's ordination, respectively, to the Congregation for Bishops and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
US diocese's record seminary numbers
The Diocese of Dallas has a record number of 19 new seminarians, Bishop Kevin Farrell announced on 19 August. "Indeed the Holy Spirit has been working through parents, priests and our vocations staff to bring about this blessing for our diocese. The prayers of many have been answered," he said.
The number is an increase from last year, when 11 men entered the seminary. Fifteen of the new seminarians come from the Diocese of Dallas and there are now 70 seminarians studying for the diocese, an increase from 56 in 2010.
According to 2008 statistics, the Diocese of Dallas had an estimated Catholic population of 1.1 million out of a population of 3.7 million. However, only around 560,000 are registered in a parish. There are about 175 priests in the diocese, 61 of whom are diocesan. They help serve 67 parishes.
Catholic News Agency
US Catholics ignorant of new Mass translation
Most American Catholics are not aware that a new translation of the Mass will be introduced later this year. A study by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University has found that 77% of all Catholics do not realise that the new English-language translation will become normative at the start of Advent. The level of awareness is higher among Catholics who attend Mass regularly.
The US bishops have asked parish priests to undertake an educational effort during the northern autumn, preparing parishioners for the new translation.
Forty Days For Life campaign
The pro-life advocacy group 40 Days for Life has announced the launch of its biggest campaign ever, with over 300 locations worldwide participating in the event.
The growth has "been a joy to see and I think it shows that people want to respond to the crisis of abortion," said the director, Shawn Carney.
The campaign will be run between 28 September and 6 November and include fasting and peaceful prayer outside of local abortion facilities. It is to take place in 48 US states, seven Canadian provinces, Australia, England, Spain and, for the first time, Germany and Argentina.
The initiative began in 2004 and consisted of Carney and his wife and friends in Bryan, Texas. It soon grew to such an extent that the group launched the campaign nationally in 2007 with 89 locations across the US.
Over the last four years more than 400,000 have joined to pray and fast for an end to abortion and over 13,000 church congregations have participated in 40 Days for Life campaigns.
Carney observed that the growing success of the campaign is due in part to most people being against abortion but also not knowing how to respond besides voting pro-life.
Since the beginning of the campaign in 2007, over 4,000 unborn babies have been spared from abortion and 53 abortion workers have quit their jobs and walked away from the industry. Fifteen abortion clinics where vigils have been held have also shut down.
"It's really been humbling and amazing to see," Carney said, adding that the group is "trying to keep up with what God is doing and what he has done through this simple effort."
Catholic News Agency
UK conscience rights under threat
New guidelines issued by the General Pharmaceutical Council may mark the beginning of the end of respect for the conscience rights of pharmacists in Great Britain.
"Until now, the conscience clause gave Catholic pharmacists the right not to compromise their beliefs, and provided invaluable protection against unethical employers who might have tried to force pharmacists to act against their conscience and supply these drugs," said Anna Sweeting-Hempsall, a Catholic pharmacist.
"But the new guidance makes it clear employers have the right to choose not to employ pharmacists with a conscientious objection, or to impose contractual obligations which take precedence over the rights of conscience. In other words, the conscience clause is now meaningless, and Catholic pharmacists who cannot accept being party to attacks on unborn life are virtually unemployable.
"Even if a pharmacist does manage to find a job under a sympathetic employer, the guidance states that the pharmacist must still 'refer patients to alternative service providers', which is still an unacceptable level of involvement for Catholics."
Catholic World News
Pope Benedict and classical music
The Catholic Church is blessed to have a Pope who shows such a deep appreciation of classical music, according to Scottish composer James MacMillan. "We are lucky that we have a pontiff who values the true pinnacles of human civilisation and creative achievement," he said.
His comments followed a gala concert in honour of Pope Benedict's 60th anniversary of being ordained a priest. It was held on the evening of 9 August at his summer residence of Castel Gandolfo.
The evening's repertoire was drawn exclusively from the 18th century, with works by Johann Sebastian Bach and Antonio Vivaldi being performed. In his words of thanks, the Pope highlighted the Christian faith permeating both composers' works.
He said those of Vivaldi, an Italian priest, were "an example of brightness and beauty that conveys serenity and joy," revealing "his deeply religious spirit."
The Pope also recalled how Bach would always sign his compositions "SDG," meaning "Soli Deo Gloria" in Latin, or "Glory to God Alone" in English. This, said the Pope, reflected the composer's "religious conception of art" and "strong faith" which "sustained and illuminated his entire life" and produced sacred music that "almost groped to reproduce the perfect harmony that God has imprinted in creation."
Reflecting upon the concert, MacMillan commented: "It is marvellous that Benedict can delight in the secular outpouring of the Western canon of 'classical' music as well as the sacred.
"The great composers were like angels who fell to earth to give the rest of us a glimpse of heaven. The fact that many of them were faithful servants of the Church, too, creating the finest music for our sacred liturgies is a double bonus which should excite and exult all Catholics."
MacMillan created much of the music that accompanied the Pope's visit to the United Kingdom in 2010. This included the "The Mass of Blessed John Henry Newman", which was sung at the papal liturgies in Glasgow and Birmingham, as well as the grand processional "Tu es Petrus", which heralded the Pope's entrance into Westminster Cathedral in London.
"There is much talk within certain quarters of the Church about 'inculturation'," he said. "Some use this as a pretext for attacking the Western, Hellenistic, European, classical and Gregorian roots of Catholic culture. This subterfuge is wrong-headed.
"What the Church should fear most is the de-culturisation of society. Results of this are playing themselves out on the streets of the UK as I write."
Catholic News Agency
Vatican meeting with St Pius X Society
The leadership of the Society of St Pius X confirmed on 25 August that they would meet with Vatican officials in September to discuss their future relationship with the Holy See.
"The Superior General (Bishop Bernard Fellay) and his two assistants, Father Niklaus Pfluger and Father Alain-Marc Nely have been asked to a special interview in Rome," announced the superior of the Society in Germany, Fr Franz Schmidberger.
The three men will meet Cardinal William Levada, the prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith and the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei. Created in 1988, Ecclesia Dei is the Vatican body that has special responsibility for relations with the Society.
Fr Schmidberger said the meeting would "discuss the results of nearly two years of doctrinal dialogues between the Holy See and the SSPX" and that the talks thus far had occurred in a "very good climate."
The Society has had a troubled relationship with the Vatican since its founder, Archbishop Marcel Lefebrve, consecrated four bishops against the orders of Pope John Paul II in 1988. Archbishop Lefebrve founded the Society of St Pius X in 1970 as a response to what he said were errors which had crept into the Catholic Church following the Second Vatican Council.
In 2009, Pope Benedict remitted the excommunications of the Society's bishops and set talks in motion aimed at achieving "full communion." To achieve this, he said, members of the Society would have to show "true recognition of the Magisterium and the authority of the Pope and of the Second Vatican Council."
There is some speculation that the meeting could be the culmination of that process. This past June, Bishop Fellay told members of the Society that after September's talks the Vatican would give all documents "to the higher authorities."
If an agreement can be reached, two possibilities for a way forward include establishing the Society as a "personal prelature," granting it a status similar to that of Opus Dei, or as an "ordinariate" akin to the one recently created for Anglican converts.