The Church Around the World

The Church Around the World

Rome International Youth Forum

Following in the footsteps of Christ

Coinciding with World Youth Day, the 7th International Youth Forum was held from August 12 to 15 in Rome. These Forums are organised by the youth section of the Pontifical Council for the Laity.

The Forum's theme came from John Paul II's Letter on pilgrimages to places linked with salvation history (29.6.99): "I say it to everyone: Let us set out in the footsteps of Christ!"

Each episcopal conference sent two young people as representatives. Delegates from the most important Catholic youth groups, movements and associations were also present. In addition, around 30 people who work in the field of pastoral ministry to youth attended as "observers."

During the meeting, delegates prepared a message addressed to young people worldwide, which was read during World Youth Day, in the presence of the Holy Father.

Population decline in Europe

Impact of high rates of abortion

In a recent report, the Federal Statistics Office of Germany predicts a drastic drop in that country's population over the next 50 years. Europe's largest economy will need to aggressively seek immigrant workers and raise the retirement age in order to make up for an estimated population drop of 20 percent - about 17 million people.

Meanwhile, according to a demographic study, within 20 years Russia's population will fall by 20 million, to 125 million. Russia has the world's highest abortion rate, affecting two out of three pregnancies.

Nun killed in East Timor honoured

Mother Cazzaniga on island for 40 years

The Path to Peace Foundation of the Vatican's UN Mission has awarded the Servitor Pacis (Servant of Peace) prize to Mother Erminia Cazzaniga, an Italian missionary killed on 26 October 1999 in East Timor, gunned down by militiamen, shortly after she had taken food and consolation to a group of refugees.

This remarkable woman lived for 40 years in East Timor, where she is now buried, in keeping with her wishes. Born in Italy in 1930, from her earliest youth she was a catechist and member of Catholic Action. After working in a textile factory, she found her vocation when she came upon the religious congregation founded by another recently canonised Italian, Maria Magdalena de Canossa.

In an October 1995 interview with the parish bulletin of the Lecco Diocese in Italy, where she was born, Mother Cazzaniga said: "From these people, who are so used to suffering and poverty, I have also received the ability to accept suffering."

Every year, Path to Peace confers the distinction, Servitor Pacis, on persons who have distinguished themselves as "instruments of peace" in their service to the poor and defenseless. The posthumous award will be conferred on Mother Cazzaniga on 13 November at the UN's New York headquarters.

ACLRI promotes inclusive language among religious

Circular advises on Scripture readings

The Australian Conference of Leaders of Religious Institutes has circulated a document on "Inclusive Language and Scripture." It contains a paper written by Professor Dorothy A. Lee of the Uniting Church Theological Hall, Parkville, Victoria.

Professor Lee observes that "when we study Scripture we need to recognise that it belongs to another age and culture that is very different from our own ... It was undoubtedly written in a very male-centred culture where women's role was very limited indeed."

The ACLRI document recommends se of a Scripture translation "that employs inclusive language for people (such as the New Revised Standard Version). Otherwise, it is suggested that readings be changed "to reflect the equal presence of women and men in the assembly of God's people."

Other advice includes: "When reading Scripture or in prayer, reduce the number of male pronouns for God (without making the text sound ridiculous)." It is further suggested that readers should "sometimes experiment with terms such as 'Father-Mother' in place of the one-sided 'Father.' This should be done carefully and sensitively, however."

First Chesterton Conference for Australia

'Chesterton 2000' to be held at New Norcia (WA)

Between 20-22 October 2000, the first National Chesterton Conference will be held at New Norcia, the Benedictine monastery town in Western Australia. It has been organised by the G.K. Chesterton Society of Western Australia.

The featured speakers will be Fr Ian Boyd, founding editor of The Chesterton Review and President of the international Chesterton Institute, who presently lectures at Seton Hall University, New Jersey; Dr Peter Hunt, retired academic and teacher; and Karl Schmude, author and former librarian at the University of New England in Armidale, NSW.

For further information contact Tony Evans, 122 Marmion Street, East Fremantle, WA 6158, tel/fax (08) 9339 1403.

Future directions for Broken Bay Diocese

Planning process document published

Going Forward Together, subtitled "Moving Towards a Plan for the Future Direction of The Catholic Church of Broken Bay," was published earlier this year. The document was put together "to assist individuals and groups in participating in the Broken Bay diocesan planning process."

The Broken Bay Diocese is Australia's seventh largest, covering the northern part of Sydney up to the Central Coast.

A large range of special groups to be involved in meetings, include youth, men, women, non-English speakers, "priests and religious not in active ministry," those with disabilities, the aged, carers, "homosexual people" and "parents of homosexual people."

In his introduction, Bishop David Walker explains that "the process" will "make use of existing forums, create new forums and create a new energy in our Christian life as we consider the richness of possibility for the church in this diocese."

The document cites "regular" Mass attendance figures by age group for the diocese, extracted from the Catholic Church Life Survey. These figures are broadly similar to those of other Australian dioceses, with the overall rate of 18 percent, the same as the national average

While 20.3 percent of the 65+ age group and 19.0 percent of the 55- 64 group attended Mass regularly (at least 2-3 times per month), the figures decline steeply for each younger age group: 14.2 percent for 45-54 year olds, 7.9 percent for 35-44, 4.7 percent for 25-34 and 6.9 percent for 15-24.

Religious "cleansing" in Indonesia

Bishop of Ambon appeals for international intervention

Christians are rapidly disappearing from eastern Indonesia. Sources of the Vatican agency Fides reported in late July that in the archipelago of the Moluccas, there are Protestant and Catholic groups left in only three zones: Ambon, south- eastern Moluccas, and Tobelo. On the island of Seram, the Christian presence has decreased by 50 percent. Buru is now totally Muslim.

The elimination of the Christian community advances in a precise operation. This campaign may be irreversibly completed when Muslims succeed in eliminating Christians from the island of Sulawesi, as the north and its capital, Manado, are its historic fortress, according to Ratty Sukit, Manado's Protestant pastor, and member of the "Madia" group, which promotes dialogue between Christians and Muslims.

In this crisis situation, Bishop Petrus Canisius Mandagi of Ambon returned to Indonesia after touring Europe to request international intervention. "I feel somewhat relieved, as President Wahid has admitted the possibility of an international intervention, even if only logistic, to solve the problem of the Moluccas crisis," the Bishop said to Fides.

The main reason for Bishop Mandagi's trip was the problem of human rights. He said his campaign for international intervention in the Moluccas is supported by moderate Muslims, especially Nahdlatul Ulama, the largest Islamic organisation in Indonesia, of which President Wahid is a member.

The Bishop began his European tour in early July, accompanied by pastors of the Protestant and Evangelical Churches in Maluku and Halmahera, and by Muslim leader Lambang Triyono, professor of Gajahmada University in Yogyakarta.

Catholic and Orthodox Church unity

Declaration issued after US inter-church meeting

Relations between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches are increasingly centred on Moscow, but their greatest difficulty remains the Oriental Rite Catholics in Eastern Europe. This was the conclusion of a meeting of representatives of the two confessions, which was held at Mount St Mary's College in Emmitsburg, Maryland, from 9-19 July.

The meeting was held under the auspices of Cardinal William Keeler, Archbishop of Baltimore. The vice- presidents were Cardinal Edward Idris Cassidy, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and Archbishop Stylianos of Australia, Ecumenical Patriarch.

Since 7 December 1965, when Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras of Constantinople lifted their mutual excommunications, Catholics and Orthodox, who have been separated since 1054, have intensified their efforts to overcome their division. However, this road has come upon an unexpected obstacle since the fall of the Berlin Wall. With the return of religious freedom in countries that gravitated around the former Soviet Union, the Patriarchate of Moscow refuses to continue the dialogue, accusing Rome of proselytism in its land, and protesting the rights recovered by Eastern Rite Catholics.

The main topic addressed at Baltimore was, precisely, the "Ecclesiological and Canonical Implications of Uniatism."

Uniates, or Catholics of the Eastern Rite, at one time were Orthodox; however, several centuries ago they recognised the Pontiff's authority. By papal permission, they were allowed to continue celebrating the Orthodox liturgy.

The official statement at the conclusion of the Baltimore meeting was somewhat pessimistic: "Although reactions were generally positive, the documents touching upon theological aspects and practical guidelines were met with some reserve and even outright opposition, sometimes from both sides. Therefore, it was felt necessary to continue the reflection by the Joint Commission in order to find common understanding on this extremely thorny question."

Members of Women's Commission sought

Australian bishops asked to nominate possible commissioners

A first step in the formation of the Commission for Australian Catholic Women has been taken with an invitation to individual bishops to nominate possible Commissioners.

The bishops decided in May to set up the Commission. They asked their Report Implementation Committee for Woman and Man: One in Christ Jesus, consisting of six bishops and five women, to prepare the way for the Commission, which is expected to be established after next December's Plenary Meeting of the Bishops' Conference.

The Implementation Committee, chaired by Bishop Michael Putney, is seeking nominations from bishops for the Commission, which will have a Chair and eight other members. When the Committee completes its recommendations for membership, they are expected to embrace a wide mix of characteristics, backgrounds and skills, according to a Bishops Conference media release.

The full text of the Bishops' response to Woman and Man: One in Christ Jesus, including details about the Commission, will be published in September as this year's annual Social Justice Statement. It will appear as a supplement in Australian Catholics and will also be available separately.

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