Pope comments on post-Vatican II troubles
Benedict XVI says he had great enthusiasm during the Second Vatican Council, but acknowledges the difficulties the Church has faced since those heady years.
Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi recounted the Pope's words during the most recent edition of the Vatican Television program Octava Dies. The Vatican spokesman was commenting on Benedict's question-and-answer session on 24 July with priests from two dioceses in northern Italy.
Father Lombardi recalled that Benedict answered a priest who spoke of living through the Second Vatican Council, of the hopes of 'changing the world,' and of the difficulties of the succeeding years.
The Pope replied: 'I also lived the time of the Council with great enthusiasm; it seemed that the Church and the world had met again. We had hoped a great deal - but things showed themselves to be more difficult.'
Father Lombardi said Benedict recalled 'above all the cultural crisis of the West that exploded in '68, with the fascination for Marxism and the illusion of creating a new world, and the crumbling of the communist regimes in '89: the fall of the ideologies that did not give room to faith but rather to scepticism'.
'The Christian proclamation has to come to terms with this context,' added Fr Lombardi, 'and the Church faces it with realism and humility without ceding to the triumphalism of those who think that they have found the way to the new world.'
Vatican Information Service
Vatican welcomes new Bishop of Beijing
Although he was not appointed by the Holy See, the new Bishop of Beijing is 'a very good and qualified individual,' the Vatican Secretary of State told reporters at a news conference on 18 July.
Cardinal Tarciscio Bertone said that the appointment of Father Joseph Li Shan was 'a very positive sign' - thus adding support to the belief that the appointment, made by an 'independent' process, and announced in Beijing, represented an informal compromise between the demands of the Vatican and those of the Chinese regime.
Father Li's name had reportedly been on a list of possible candidates that had been quietly submitted to the Vatican and prompted no objections. And the AsiaNews service reported that Chinese Catholics were pleased with the appointment, noting that the bishop-elect has carefully maintained his independence from the government-controlled Catholic Patriotic Association.
Further evidence that the appointment was a delicate compromise came from the UCAN news service in Asia, which reported that no government officials were present when Catholics in Beijing selected Father Li Shan to be the next bishop. UCAN also said that his nomination was informally cleared with representatives of the 'underground' Church.
Catholic World News
Death of Cardinal Lustiger at 80
Cardinal Jean Marie Lustiger, Archbishop Emeritus of Paris and one of the key players on the European stage during the second half of the 20th century, died in Paris on 5 August at the age of 80 after a long illness.
Jewish by birth, he converted to Catholicism in 1940 at the age of 14, taking the name Jean Marie. Two years later his mother was deported to Auschwitz, where she later died.
After overcoming many difficulties he was ordained to the priesthood in Paris in 1954.
In 1981 he was named Archbishop of Paris and in 1983 was made a cardinal. Known for his close relationship to John Paul II, Cardinal Lustiger sought enthusiastically to implement the 'new evangelisation' in an increasingly secular France.
The cardinal accompanied John Paul II on his trip to Israel in 2000, when the Pontiff characterised the Holocaust as a 'Golgotha of modern times.'
Catholic News Agency
Amnesty International reaffirms abortion stance
Amnesty International has remained defiant about its new pro-abortion stance despite receiving international criticism for their decision to abandon their long standing neutrality regarding abortion and embrace it fully as a human right.
Amnesty was founded in 1961 by a Catholic convert, the late Peter Benenson, and has enjoyed the support of Catholic organisations and individuals in its campaigns against torture and capital punishment. It has also received praise in the past for staying clear of the abortion issue, which the organisation has viewed as 'outside its mandate' for the last 50 years.
However, after a two-year consultation process that many of the 2.2 million Amnesty members have described as 'biased,' 'flawed' and 'prejudiced in favour of abortion,' AI decided to turn abortion into a 'human right.'
From now on, AI will push for the legalisation of abortion in the 97 countries which outlaw abortion.
The Amnesty decision, to be officially launched on 11 August in Mexico City, has been described as 'a betrayal of its mission' by Cardinal Renato Martino. In a 14 June interview with the National Catholic Register, he said, 'Desensitising the culture to the evil of abortion is part and parcel of the pro-abortion lobby. It is hard to believe that Amnesty has acquiesced to the pressures of this lobby.' If Amnesty persists, Martino said, 'individuals and Catholic organisations must withdraw their support.'
Despite the repeated pleas from Catholics, Amnesty's spokesmen around the world have reacted with an attitude of open defiance.
In fact, Amnesty's deputy secretary-general, Kate Gilmore, has angrily accused the Catholic Church of misstating the facts.
'We have the dirt under the nail and the blood and pain of the people that we are responding to. The Catholic Church, through a misrepresented account of our position on selective aspects of abortion, is placing in peril work on human rights.'
Suzi Clark, at the executive committee office in London, predicted that AI 'may gain more than it loses' since 'from our feedback, we understand there are a number of countries where more people have joined because of our support for sexual and reproductive rights, including selected aspects of abortion, than have left in opposition.'
Kate Gilmore commented on Amnesty activists in other countries with tough abortion restrictions, such as Poland and certain Latin American countries, saying that these people 'embraced the policy wholeheartedly.'
She has even announced that Amnesty will now 'take action in regard to Nigeria, where women seeking abortions can face severe punishment, and in Latin American countries where even women with life-threatening medical problems can be denied abortions ... We're here to do what's right, whether it's unpopular or otherwise,' she said.
Catholic News Agency
Benedict XVI uses older ritual for private Masses
Benedict XVI, who recently issued a motu proprio allowing all Catholic priests to celebrate the old Latin Mass, uses the older ritual himself for his private Masses.
Informed sources at the Vatican have confirmed reports that the Holy Father regularly celebrates Mass using the 1962 Roman Missal.
In his motu proprio Summorum Pontificum the Pope says that the older form - the form in universal use before the liturgical changes that followed Vatican II - was never abrogated.
Since becoming Pope, Benedict XVI has always used the new ritual - which he identifies in Summorum Pontificum as the 'ordinary form' of the Roman rite - for public celebrations of the Eucharistic liturgy. However few people have witnessed the Pope celebrating his private daily Mass.
Unlike his predecessor John Paul II, who regularly invited visitors to attend the Mass that he celebrated each morning in his private chapel, Benedict has made it his regular practice to celebrate Mass with only a few aides.
Benedict has long been known as an ardent defender of the Catholic liturgical tradition. In the early 1990s he raised eyebrows in Rome by writing a laudatory preface to the book The Reform of the Roman Liturgy, in which Msgr Klaus Gamber criticised many of the liturgical changes of the past few decades.
The then-Cardinal Ratzinger also travelled to Wigratzbad, in Bavaria, to ordain priests for the Fraternity of St Peter, a group devoted to the use of the traditional liturgy. He performed those ordinations, as well as Mass on Easter Sunday in 1990, using the 1962 Roman Missal.
Catholic World News
Families move into new US Catholic town
The town of Ave Maria, built around the Catholic Ave Maria University in Florida, welcomed its first residents in May, and more families are expected to arrive in the coming months.
Mike and Cecilia O'Shea, along with their four young daughters, were the first of 11,000 potential households to move into the new 5,000-acre town on 30 May.
Mike O'Shea said the lifestyle offered in Ave Maria, close to Naples, is exactly what he and his wife were seeking for their family, reported the Naples Daily News.
They want to send their children to a Catholic school with the highest standards in academics and discipline, and 'a more traditional approach, rather than the modern view many Catholic schools teach now,' Mike was quoted as saying.
Their daughters' school will likely be taught by the sisters who live next door. The town's oratory, or parish church, is within walking distance. La Piazza, the European- inspired Town Center, surrounds the Oratory.
The O'Sheas moved to Ave Maria from Tampa, Florida. They lived about 10 miles from the nearest parish and felt cut off from the parish community. 'This will benefit us, because we'll be closer to volunteer our time and efforts to the school and church,' said Mr O'Shea.
Mike's office is also within walking distance. He works for Legatus, an organisation of Catholic chief executive officers, which will open an office in Ave Maria in November. Cecilia, 40, is a stay-at-home mother.
The O'Sheas enjoy living in a town with limited access to activities and lifestyles that go against Catholic beliefs and practices.
'Sometimes people ask us, 'Why do you want to shelter yourself from the real world?' But I don't think we're sheltering,' said Mike. 'Naples is as 'real a world' as anywhere else, and it's right down the street.
'It's important that children are not exposed to things out there that can really harm them. When they get older and grow up, I think they'll have the same positive experiences as any other child,' he added.
The town and Ave Maria University were founded by former Domino's Pizza owner, turned Catholic philanthropist, Tom Monaghan.
Catholic News Agency
Abortion legalised in Portugal
A law, legalising abortion in the first 10 weeks of pregnancy, went into effect in Portugal on 15 July. Women who choose to abort will have to go through a compulsory medical appointment to be properly informed about the consequences of abortion, reported Reuters.
The country held a referendum on the legalisation of abortion in February. The referendum was invalid because of the low turnout but, of those who voted, 59 percent wanted to lift the ban. That led the ruling Socialist Party in parliament to vote in favour of legalising abortion.
However, the coming into force of the law was met with a high incidence of conscientious objection. Although government health authorities have said that hospitals are ready at the technical level, 80 percent of the country's doctors are expected to have recourse to objection of conscience.
The director of the Life Foundation, Manuel Cruz, remarked: 'Abortion is the worst distortion of medicine because a doctor vows to cure not to kill. This explains the widespread movement of objection of conscience among Portugal's doctors.'
Catholic World News