Vatican document on feminism
On 31 July, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) released a 37-page "Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Collaboration of Men and Women in the Church and in the World," which proposes the Catholic alternative to radical feminism and "gender" ideology.
Archbishop Angelo Amato SDB, Secretary of the CDF, explained in an interview with Vatican Radio that the letter was "the response given to two tendencies which have become quite strong in contemporary culture."
The first focuses on women's subordination and advances the idea that women, to be truly themselves, must make themselves the opponents of men. It posits a radical competition between the sexes in which the identity and role of one are emphasised to the disadvantage of the other.
The second, he said, "seeking to avoid this kind of confrontation, tends instead to deny the differences between the sexes. Physical difference, termed 'sex', is minimised and held to be the mere effect of social and cultural conditioning."
The Archbishop added: "The purely cultural difference, on the other hand, termed 'gender', is given maximum importance. From this, the institution of the family is called into question, in its natural two-parent structure of mother and father, and the equivalence of homosexuality and heterosexuality is asserted ...".
Responding to such tendencies, the Letter presents Biblical insights.
Human beings are persons, men and women, equally so. They exist in a reciprocal relationship. The human body, marked as male or female, is called to exist in communion and mutual self-giving. For this reason, marriage is the first and fundamental dimension of this vocation.
A woman, "distinct from man, has her own charism, which has been called 'the capacity for the other.' It is an intuition linked to her physical ability to give life and orients her to the growth and protection of others".
"This is the 'genius of women', which allows her to acquire maturity early on, and gives her a sense of responsibility, a respect for what is concrete, as well as a significant capacity to persevere in adversity".
Vatican Information Service
Boston Archbishop not invited to Democratic National Convention
In a break from tradition, the Democratic Party did not invite the Archbishop of Boston to offer a blessing at the Democratic National Convention in July, reported the Boston Globe.
Instead, Father John B. Ardis, a Paulist priest and Director of the Paulist Centre in Boston, who regularly gives Communion to Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, gave the opening blessing.
Fr Ardis has become a central figure in the Communion controversy since pro-abortion Catholic politicians, mostly Democrats, have been targeted by some Catholic bishops.
Kerry and his wife, who live nearby, attend the Paulist Centre which has served as a gathering place for Boston's "liberal" Catholics.
At the national March for Life in Washington in January, Boston's Archbishop Sean O'Malley had said pro-abortion politicians should not "dare" to come forward for Communion. However, since then, he has said that while such politicians should voluntarily refrain from Communion, he would not deny Communion to anyone who presented himself.
Spokesmen for the Kerry campaign said that Archbishop O'Malley was never considered for the invocation at the convention. Not inviting the local bishop to offer a prayer is a break from Democrat tradition, although the Archbishop had planned to be out of town in any case, perhaps to avoid a confrontation.
Boston College theologian Stephen J. Pope said the Archbishop would have faced considerable pressure to speak out on Kerry's continuing defiance because Kerry is a Bostonian and the Convention was being held in Boston.
General Assembly endorses Vatican's UN role
In a development sure to distress pro- abortion groups, the UN General Assembly in July decided unanimously to confirm and expand the status of the Vatican at the UN.
International Planned Parenthood and Catholics for a Free Choice had been engaged in a long-running campaign to have the Vatican ousted from the UN.
The General Assembly not only endorsed the prerogatives of the Vatican as a permanent observer state since 1964, but decided to grant it new privileges, to enable the Holy See to participate in more constructive ways in the Assembly's activities.
The Holy See will now have the rights to participate in the Assembly's general debate, to circulate documents and to reply in debates. Its status was now like that of a full member state without the vote. However, the Holy See's Permanent Observer at the UN said the lack of a vote was Rome's decision and did not close off the possibility of member state status.
'The Irish Catholic'
Court backs Florida ban on homosexual adoption
The Eleventh US Circuit Court of Appeals, sitting as a full court of twelve judges, refused in July to reverse its earlier opinion upholding Florida's ban on same-sex adoptions.
The 11th Circuit's earlier opinion, which remains in effect as a result of this decision, holds that the Florida legislature properly made a policy judgment that it is not in the best interests of its displaced children to be adopted by individuals engaged in homosexual activity.
The court said, "[W]e have found nothing in the Constitution that forbids this policy judgment. Thus, any argument that the Florida legislature was misguided in its decision is one of legislative policy, not constitutional law. The legislature is the proper forum for this debate, and we do not sit as a super-legislature to award by judicial decree what was not achievable by political consensus."
The public-interest law firm Liberty Counsel and the Marriage Law Project filed an amicus brief on behalf of Florida legislators with the 11th Circuit in Atlanta, in defence of the law. Liberty Counsel pointed out that most importantly the opinion cut back on the Supreme Court's decision in Lawrence v. Texas finding criminal homosexual sodomy statutes unconstitutional.
The 11th Circuit held that the Lawrence case did not create a new fundamental right to private sexual intimacy and that the decision did not control the adoption case because the adoption ban was not a criminal prohibition, but was a statutory privilege.
The opinion relied upon Liberty Counsel's amicus brief in holding that the Florida Legislature had "a legitimate interest in encouraging a stable and nurturing environment for the education and socialisation of its adopted children ... by seeking to place the children in homes that have both a mother and father."
The opinion also noted that even though some have argued that alternative child-rearing arrangements are satisfactory, no alternative arrangement "has proven as enduring as the marital family structure, nor has the accumulated wisdom of several millennia of human experience discovered a superior model."
Bishop Heenan "not aware" of liturgy abuses in Rockhampton
At a Diocese of Rockhampton Council of Priests' meeting in June, Bishop Brian Heenan said there was very little in the Vatican Instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum on matters to be avoided in the Eucharist that affected "the way we celebrate Mass in Australia."
Bishop Heenan said he was "not aware that any of the abuses highlighted in the document are being practised in the Diocese, not taking away rights of special circumstances which might vary in the liturgy."
There were times "when there may be some variance from normal procedures" but he had "a great deal of trust in each priest" and respected "that styles are not all the same." He told the priests that if they were challenged in the way Eucharist was celebrated, they had his support, although people's enquiries needed to be "respected and answered."
"No religion" numbers increasing in US
Protestants may soon account for less than half of the US population for the first time since the country's founding, according to a University of Chicago survey released in July.
While still outnumbering the next biggest group - Catholics - roughly two to one, Protestant denominations have been losing members.
Protestant membership stood at 63 percent of the population in 1993, it fell to 52 percent in 2002 and will drop below half in the next year or two, if that has not happened already.
The information came from a survey conducted by the National Opinion Research Centre, a spokesman for which commented: "Many scholars have noted that the numbers of people who say they have 'no religion' is increasing, but they haven't noted what faith group these people have been leaving. It is clear that many of these people are former Protestants".
The survey found those who said they were Catholic in 2002 remained fairly steady at about 25 percent of the population.
Those identifying with no religion totaled nearly 14 percent in 2002 compared to 9 percent in 1993.
Missouri voters reject same-sex "marriage"
Nearly three out of four Missourians who voted on 3 August rejected same-sex "marriage," passing a state constitutional amendment defining that "marriage shall exist only between a man and a woman." Missouri is the first of at least nine states scheduled to put similar constitutional amendments on the ballot.
Although Missouri already had a law prohibiting same-sex "marriage," in the wake of judges mandating its acceptance in Massa-chusetts, proponents of the amendment felt more secure measures were needed.
The vote saw the highest turnout for any primary election in Missouri's history since records were first kept in 1980. This gives further evidence that homosexual "marriage" is a pressing concern for Americans.
Many homosexual activists fear the vote will presage future defeats. Matt Foreman, executive director of the Gay and Lesbian Task Force, commented: "The notion that we're going to prevail in any of these contests is the wrong notion."
However, fears of losing did not prevent same-sex "marriage" supporters from raising nearly $400,000 (40 times the $10,000 spent by traditional marriage supporters) to defeat the amendment. Despite their efforts, as Matt Franck wrote in the St Louis Post Dispatch, "values appeared to beat dollars at the ballot box."
Catholic vote split in US
American Catholic sympathies are deeply divided in this year's presidential campaign, according to the Gallup polling organisation. Practising Catholics lean heavily toward President George W. Bush, while those who do not regularly practise their faith favour Senator John Kerry.
The latest Gallup poll numbers show Kerry holding an overall edge among Catholic voters, by 51- 45 percent. The Gallup survey, taken between 17 July and 1 August, claims a five percent margin of error. Catholic voters, who comprise about 25 percent of the American electorate, have traditionally supported the Democratic Party. But Ronald Reagan captured the majority of Catholic voters in each of his two presidential campaigns, as did George W. Bush in 2000. Today both major parties view "the Catholic vote" as a pivotal element in presidential politics.
However, the latest Gallup data confirm previous statements that there is not a single "Catholic vote," but two very different blocs. Catholics who attend Mass every week preferred Bush by a 52 to 42 percent margin. Those who go to Mass less regularly favour Kerry by 50 to 45 percent. And those Catholics who "seldom" or "never" go to church gave Kerry a commanding 57 to 39 percent edge.
Unfortunately for the President, the Catholics who rarely attend Mass form the largest bloc in the Gallup poll, accounting for 40 percent of those surveyed. Those who attend Mass weekly amounted to only one- third of the Gallup survey sample.
Catholic World News