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Vinnies gives qualified supuport for NSW Depression Institute
St Vincent de Paul Society researcher Colin Robinson has welcomed the NSW government's announcement of funds to establish a depression research institute. - Catholic Weekly

Pope worried about Europe's 'indifference to Christianity'
The Pope expressed his concern at the processes secularisation in Europe, which seek to "exclude God and Christianity from all expressions of human life". - Zenit

Pakistan bishop says culture incites violence more than religion
Culture has a greater role in inciting national violence than does religion, according to Bishop Anthony Lobo of Islamabad-Rawalpindi, Pakistan. - CNS

South African Church claims lead in fight against AIDS
Responding to a hostile ad campaign targeting the Church's condom-free stance on AIDS prevention, the Catholic Bishops' AIDS office has claimed it is the largest non-government provider of AIDS prevention and care programs in Southern Africa. - ICN

NSW MP tells Pope his image being used to condone gambling
A NSW Upper House MP has written to Pope John Paul II suggesting he order the Campbelltown Catholic Club to remove his photograph from the club foyer because it is a place of vice. - SMH

Sicily plans Catholic Mount Rushmore
There are plans for the faces of the Pope, Mother Teresa and Padre Pio, to be carved into the hills of Segesta in Sicily. - The Guardian

Opinion - Ariel Sharon's wall of security for Israelis
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has announced plans for a Berlin Wall-style buffer zone. The man who promised them security has only brought increased insecurity into their daily lives due to his steadily increasing the violence against Palestinians. But what I never cease to be amazed at, is the ability of the Palestinians to adjust to whatever curtailment of freedom, whatever humiliation or destruction is forced upon them. - Sister Mary OSU / Independent Catholic News

Feature - Religious brothers in the 21st century
A weighty Catholic encyclopedia devoted less than two inches to its entry on "religious brothers" and over 15 inches to its definition of "mitre." Religious brothers have been given the short end of the stick almost since the first monks began to separate themselves from society, to live a life of prayer and work for the glory of God, for personal sanctification and for the good of the church. - National Catholic Reporter

Pope schedules nine canonisations
During an Ordinary Consistory in Rome yesterday, Pope John Paul II set dates for the canonisation of nine new saints, including Opus Dei founder Josemaria Escriva, and Padre Pio. - Fides

Pope wants priests and seminarians to study in Rome
John Paul II has exhorted priests and seminarians to study in Rome, arguing that the 'eternal city' is the heart of Christianity and they will discover "new horizons for their work of evangelisation". - Zenit

Salesian leader vows to fight individualism in youth
The Salesians' Vicar General has told his congregation's chapter that while young people are open to religion, they have adopted values that are "rather personal and do not concern the common good". - Vidimus Dominum

Study says today's younger priests are like older priests of 1970s
A new sociological study of US Catholic priests has found that the views of younger priests in 2001 on many church issues were similar to those held by older priests in 1970. - CNS

Nigerian archbishop offers to take place of woman condemned to death by stoning
The Archbishop of Lagos, Dr Anthony Olubunmi Okogie, has offered to die in place of a woman condemned to death by stoning for adultery. - ICN

NSW Catholic club to buy golf resort
Sydney's Liverpool Catholic Club could become a golfing professional as it lines up to buy the freehold title of the Thurgoona Golf Club and Resort in Albury, on the NSW/Victoria border. - Financial Review

Opinion - Where has healthy romance gone for young people?
Dating as the secular youth culture currently defines the term is little more than a euphemism for serial sex partnering. Every public high school student knows that to be "dating" somebody is to be sexually active -- with a few prominent exceptions, such as Mormon or Muslim students. Unfortunately, diocesan high schools are far from exempt from these attitudes and problems. - Connie Marshner, author Decent Exposure: How to Teach Your Children About Sex / Zenit/

Feature - Sudan - a population overwhelmed by suffering
At Rumbek, in the semi-arid region, the desolation is immense. In the North of the diocese the fighting is still raging. The sorties of the Antonov bombers, dropping bombs intended to kill and terrorise, are followed by the arrival of thousands of mercenaries, who burn the people alive in their huts, destroy their sparse crops, and kill their cattle. Famine is a very powerful weapon of war. - Aid to the Church in Need

Pope urges faithful to make a retreat
Recommending a spiritual retreat for all, Pope John Paul II has said the most generous choices are the result of "profound and prolonged union with God in prayerful silence". - Zenit

WA priest in sex case hit in court
A Bunbury Diocese priest was punched several times by angry relatives of alleged sexual assault victims inside and outside Bunbury Magistrate's Court yesterday. - The West Australian

Mugabe threatens church leader
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has demanded the resignation of Archbishop Pius Ncube, for refusing to co-operate with the government in upgrading a mission hospital - the missionary news service (MISNA) reports. - ICN

Dominicans examine role in Inquisition
The Dominican Order has been locked in conclave to re-examine its role in the Inquisition, but believes the failings of its members who tried people for heresy centuries ago have been greatly exaggerated. - Daily Telegraph

French report seeks acknowledgement of homosexuality in religious communities
The Church should take steps to deal with sexuality and affectivity in its formation of priests and religious, according to Fr Julien Potel, author of a 90 page report titled Priests, Laymen, Religious and Homosexuality. - Vidimus Dominum

Teachers 'more trustworthy than priests'
A British survey has found people see teachers as more trustworthy than priests or police. - Ananova

Judges required to prescribe justice, not death
A US judge recently called for the resignation of judges who believe capital punishment is immoral. But the Pope's encyclical on respect for life merely requires Catholic judges to inform their interpretation of the US Constitution with the legal and moral insights gained after Nuremberg, namely that the law must always show absolute respect for the life of every individual, no matter of what race or religion or, indeed, what criminal act has been committed. - Scottish QC Aidan O'Neill / The Tablet

Burundi Diary: Terror on the streets
While the 1994 genocide in Rwanda received world attention, the conflict in Burundi that took place around the same time unfolded to general indifference. Ethnic violence between Hutus and Tutsis in Burundi claimed the lives of approximately 250,000 people during the 1990s and displaced an estimated 800,000 people. - National Catholic Reporter

Pontifical Academy says technology must respect right to life
The Pontifical Academy for Life has said the right to life must be the fundamental criterion of scientific and technological progress. - Zenit

LA cardinal says sex-abusers won't be reassigned
Los Angeles Cardinal Roger M. Mahony said the archdiocese will not knowingly assign or retain for service in schools, parishes or similar ministries anyone who is found to have sexually abused minors. - CNS

Accused Anglican sought Catholic priesthood
A former Anglican priest appointed by Governor-General Peter Hollingworth to a church committee on sexual abuse, despite having been the subject of abuse allegations, later unsuccessfully tried to become a Catholic priest. - Sunday Age

'Catholic values' at heart of new investment trust
The investment management arm of Catholic Church Insurances has launched an investment trust that reflects Catholic values. - Catholic Weekly

Dutch church denying religious burial for the euthanised
A Dutch church spokesman confirmed a bishop's remarks that the Catholic Church cannot give religious burials to people who planned to be euthanised. - CNS

Polish President hoping for August visit by John Paul II
During his visit to the Vatican from tomorrow, the president of Poland will invite John Paul II to visit his homeland this summer. - Zenit

Politicians continue to resist refugee policy criticism
The political furore about misrepresentation of the asylum-seeker touches on all members of parliament. Have there been only a few voices for sanity and compassion within the Liberal Party itself? When does silence amount to collusion? And why has the Opposition, spooked though it was by the opinion polls before the election, taken so long to propose a more humane alternative? - Fr Bruce Duncan CSsR / Catholic Weekly

God, science, and substance abuse
If ever the sum is greater than the parts, it is in combining the power of God, religion and spirituality with the power of science and professional medicine to prevent and treat substance abuse and addiction. That's the good news from "So Help Me God: Substance Abuse, Religion and Spirituality," the two-year study recently released by the National Centre on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University in the US. - America / Beliefnet

Bush urges China to talk to Vatican
President Bush urged China on yesterday to talk with the Vatican as he appealed to Beijing to take strides toward relaxing religious controls. - Reuters

Syrian president meets with Pope
Syrian President Bashar Assad met with Pope John Paul II in a Vatican audience yesterday on a trip intended to bolster international involvement in the Middle East peace process. - AP

Perth Archdiocese welcomes new auxiliary bishop
A packed congregation inside and outside St Mary's Cathedral last night witnessed the episcopal ordination of Bishop Don Sproxton as Auxiliary Bishop for the Archdiocese of Perth. - Vias Tuas

Nuns launch billboard campaign urging welcome for immigrants
Funded by an organisation of women religious, billboards in 10 cities in the US state of Iowa are encouraging locals to "Welcome the immigrant you once were!" - CNS

Protestant rebranding 'a challenge without Pope figure'
An German advertising agency planning to rebrand the country's Protestants says one of its problems is the lack of a strong brand figure, like the Pope. - Ananova

Papuan priest fears for rights activists
Separatists and human rights activists fear that two important figures in Papua province are under death threats from Indonesian special forces, a Papuan priest and journalist has said in Dublin. - Irish Times

Political action alone will not achieve peace
With the emergence of widespread terrorism, we are facing what the Pope has called "forces of evil." To vanquish them, human efforts alone are not enough, nor it is sufficient to set the political world in motion. The religious world has to come to grips with the need to make good triumph over evil. - Chiara Lubich / Zenit

Church rediscovering the power of Lourdes
Over the past two years, record numbers of people have been going to the French town to dip themselves into the waters that are said to heal cases beyond the powers of medical science. With its faithful turning to charismatic movements promising miracles, the Catholic Church was motivated to highlight the healing powers of Lourdes. - The Times (London)

US Bishops' President expresses 'profound sorrow' for clergy sex abuse
The president of the of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops expressed "profound sorrow" for the sexual abuse of children by priests, suggesting that the harm they have caused is "immeasurable". - CNS

Bishop welcomes move to curb exploitation of Aboriginies
Chairman of the Australian Bishops' Committee for Aboriginies, Bishop Christopher Saunders of Broome, has welcomed a West Australian Government move to protect indigenous people from exploitation by some liquor outlets. - Catholic Leader

Pope denies priest shortage is 'blessing in disguise'
Catholics must not accept the argument that a scarcity of priests is a blessing in disguise because it increases the involvement of lay people in the Church, Pope John Paul II has said. - CNS

Ratzinger affirms peace and justice as path to God
The Christians and members of other faiths who gathered with Pope John Paul II in Assisi affirmed that seeking God means seeking peace and justice, according to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. - CNS

Nobel nomination for leper colony missionary who survived Dachau
Polish Divine Word missionary Fr Marian Zelazek has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. - Zenit

Catholic Women's League installs new leadership team
The Catholic Women's League's (CWL) national leadership moved from Queensland to NSW last month when a new team was installed in Wollongong. - Catholic Leader

Celibacy doesn't cause child abuse
The church's problem lies in the way priests are educated in seminaries. It is not enough to simply warn seminarians about the stresses and sexual temptations. The church needs priests who are mature human beings, comfortable with their own sexual identity. Such priests have no need to turn to children in selfish pursuit of forbidden pleasure. - Psychiatrist Fr James Gill SJ, Christian Institute for the Study of Human Sexuality / The Hartford Courant

Priest out of puff is good for school
A few days after Fr Jude Pirotta quit smoking on 31 December 2001, a parishioner said: "I'll give you $500 if you stick it out till the end of June". Fr Jude said: "I'll put the money towards the new children's computer laboratory." Fr Jude, sensing he was on to something good, put out a general announcement to the parish for sponsorship. - Catholic Weekly

Pope says academic freedom self-defeating for theologians
Pope John Paul II has said that theologians lose sight of their purpose when they practise academic freedom in a manner that separates their work from 'communion of the Church'. - Zenit

Vatican asks Russian Orthodox to respect religious liberty
The Vatican has formally requested the Russian Orthodox Church to recognise the religious liberty of Catholics in that country. - Zenit

Zimbabwean thugs entering Churches in pre-election violence
Armed men are entering churches during Mass in order to seize and beat up political opponents, according to the head of an international missionary congregation who has just returned from a visit to Zimbabwe. - MISNA

Hindu extremists attack Catholic church in India
A group of armed extremists of the pro-Hindu Bajrang Dal attacked a Catholic church during a Sunday Mass, injuring seven people including a 4-year-old child. - Zenit

Pope has performed three exorcisms to ward off devil
Pope John Paul has performed three exorcisms during his 23-year pontificate, including one as recently as September, one of the Catholic Church's leading exorcists said on Monday. - Reuters

Olympic skating champ has devotion to 'Little Flower' saint
When former Olympic gold medalist Tara Lipinski skates these days, she does so in tribute to St. Therese of Lisieux. - CNS

Christians should learn sacred texts of other faiths
Interreligious dialogue, first of all, is based on knowledge and the Christians should commit themselves to studying the doctrines and the sacred texts of other religions. Every authentic interpretation of the Word of God in the Bible can be compared with the revelation in the writings of the Hindus, in the Koran or in Buddhism. - Fr Sebastian Painadath, SJ, ashram director, Southern India / Vidimus Dominum

Healing nun wows Dublin
Sr Briege McKenna, world renowned healing nun, travels the world leading healing services and allegedly performing miracles. Her special powers emerged when she was 18 and suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. "I was in casts for almost three years. And one day in Florida I was miraculously cured. And now I pray that Jesus' healing power will be passed from me to the people here." - BBC

Pell says Hollingworth should stay
Sydney's Archbishop George Pell has defended Governor-General Dr Peter Hollingworth, saying he should not be expected to stand down. - ABC

Pope issues warning about Satan's covert tactics
The devil is more effective when he goes undetected, John Paul II reminded the faithful on Sunday as he pointed out the weapons a Christian has for combating temptations. - Zenit

East Timor bishops seek Indonesian military help to repatriate refugees
Bishops Carlos Belo and Basilio do Nascimento have requested help from an Indonesian military chief in facilitating the return of East Timorese refugees who have remained in camps in West Timor since 1999. - Tempo

Russian Parliament to investigate Catholic "proselytism"
Ultranationalists have joined forces with the Russian Orthodox Church in criticising the Catholic Church for its "proselytism" in the country, with a parliamentary panel planning investigation. - Zenit

Former brother gets 10 years for child abuse
An unnamed former Catholic brother was yesterday today jailed for a maximum of ten years for a string of sexual assaults against young children. - Age

Bishop told to stop ordaining Indians
The Vatican has ordered a bishop to suspend the ordination of Indian deacons, a measure begun by his predecessor to create an "Indian church" in southern Mexico. - AP

Creating liminal space during Lent
Liminal is the fragility, compassion and humility on the faces of World Trade Centre widows. Liminoid is the camaraderie at football stadiums and rock concerts that takes away momentary alienation. Much of my experience of the church is more "liminoid" than liminal. But once in a while church is liminal space, and often it prepares us for it. - Fr Richard Rohr OFM / National Catholic Reporter

How to get out of volunteering for a parish activity when you've already said yes
There are times in life when you have to say no. Now you feel like an unreliable cad. You worry your peers and colleagues are thinking poorly of you. Your reputation needs touching up. Now is the time to write the letter of your life. - Letitia Baldrige, nationally syndicated etiquette expert / Catholic Digest

Dodson makes pulpit plea for Sydney Archdiocese to hand over land
The elder statesmen of the Aboriginal reconciliation movement, Patrick Dodson, told a congregation in Sydney yesterday that the Archdiocese should hand ownership of a former school building to the Aboriginal Medical Service's (AMS) clinics and administrative offices. - SMH

Cardinal Dulles clarifies his 'support' for the death penalty
In the wake of high-profile discussion of Catholic teaching on the death penalty, Jesuit Cardinal Avery Dulles has stressed he view that the death penalty is 'undesirable', even though it does not necessarily violate the right to life of a person who has committed a deliberate and heinous crime. - Zenit

Pope says today's preachers should 'show' Christ
The preacher of the 21st century must make Christ "seen" in his life, John Paul II said when he met with the superiors of the Order of Preachers, the Dominicans. - Zenit

Cardinal claims Chinese Catholics more united than ever
The president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace has suggested that Chinese Catholics, in both the state-approved church and the Rome-recognised Church, are more united than ever. - Zenit

Thérèse relics end many Catholics' lapsed practice
The pilgrimage of the relics of St Thérèse of Lisieux has been accompanied by an unexpectedly large number of "conversion experiences", according to the Regional Vicar of the Discalced Carmelites, Fr Greg Homeming. - Catholic Weekly

Brazilian mayor seeks Lent ban on mini skirts and cleavage
A new law could ban Brazilian women from wearing mini skirts, shorts and plunging necklines during Lent. - Ananova

Opinion - Old Cathedrals should inspire beautification of churches today
A new book by US architect Michael S. Rose titled "Ugly as Sin: Why They Changed Our Churches from Sacred Places to Meeting Spaces--and How We Can Change Them Back Again," offers a useful index of architectural elements and their spiritual significance. His narrative takes the form of a tour through a modern worship experience, and includes a study of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, which has all the qualities of a sacred place (as opposed to a "useful" place). - Los Angeles Times

Feature - Fr Mychal's personal prayer touches many
Many people have ben touched by a prayer written by Fr Mychal Judge, New York Fire Department chaplain who died on 11 September. "People he ministered to, like people in prison and gays ... as well as people going through hard times. We've had requests from all over," said Fr Brian Jordan. It's being called, simply, Mychal's Prayer: "Lord, take me where you want me to go ..." - The Sacramento Bee

Pope alludes to world's sorrow in Ash Wednesday homily
During this week's ceremony to mark Ash Wednesday in the Basilica of Santa Sabina on Rome's Aventine hill, Pope John Paul referred to the sorrow the world has seen in the past year, although he named no specific place or event. - AP

Zimbabwe's Jesuits offer sanctuary to those trying to escape violence
Jesuits working in Zimbabwe promised to turn their churches into safe havens to offer sanctuary to anyone trying to escape the mounting political violence in the country. - CNS

Archbishop tells students heaven is more than a night club
The life of St Therese of Lisieux has a Valentine's Day message of love and hope, especially for young people, Adelaide's Archbishop Philip Wilson told a congregation of 1000 Catholic school children yesterday. - CathcommSA

Vandals desecrate Cathedral's MacKillop statue
Brisbane's Cathedral Administrator Fr Peter Dillon is considering further restrictions to access to St Stephen's Cathedral following damage to a life-size statue of Mary McKillop at the weekend. - Catholic Leader

Former Vatican TV boss leaves priesthood to wed lover
A priest who ran the Vatican's television department until seven months ago announced on Wednesday that he's leaving the priesthood to marry his pregnant lover. - Telegraph (London)

Catholics becoming less a minority in Northern Ireland
Census statistics are expected to show the Catholic population of Northern Ireland has surpassed 45%. - Irish Times

Opinion - Feminine ways of access to God
It's possible to trace a spiritual tradition stretching from medieval mystics through to present day Australian women, a tradition which values the senses as well as the intellect, which encourages political and social action and acknowledges women's particular means of expressing their desire for God. - Dr Elaine Lindsay / Catholic Weekly

Feature - Return to Africa for lay missionary
Since PALMS volunteer Manuela Macri returned from Tanzania last year, she has been faithfully practising her Swahili at every opportunity with the help of visiting Tanzanian athletes and some Kenyans she met at the markets. That's because her two-year missionary experience "changed the course of (her) life" and she wanted to return to the African continent for two more years. - Catholic Weekly

Moluccas priest says Christians want Muslim group expelled
Christians will demand strong and decisive actions to expel the paramilitary group Laskar Jihad from the Moluccas, according to Fr Cornelis Bohm, of the Crisis Centre of Ambon diocese. - Radio Australia

Files reveal Beijing's secret crackdown on religion
A religious freedom monitoring centre in the US has released an analysis of seven top-secret Chinese government documents detailing an official crackdown against large, unregistered Christian churches and other religious groups. - Zenit

Pope urges Argentines to examine conscience
Pope John Paul II has urged Argentines toward national dialogue and a serious examination of conscience as a prerequisite for overcoming their national crisis. - Zenit

Pope could face International Criminal Court charges
A US academic has claimed that the International Criminal Court's definition of "crimes against humanity" is vague enough to try the Pope for his stand on issues such as abortion and homosexuality. - Lifesite

Catholics stronger on brand loyalty
Catholic churchgoers are more loyal to their denomination but less loyal to their parish than their Protestant counterparts, according to preliminary results from Australia's National Church Life Survey. - Catholic Weekly

2000 Australian pilgrims expected for World Youth Day
Around 2000 young Australian Catholics are expected to make the pilgrimage to Toronto, Canada, to join the Holy Father and around 1 million youth and young adults from 150 countries for the 17th World Youth Day (WYD). - Catholic Communications (Sydney)

Opinion - Lent: discovering who's in control
Suffering is simply whenever you are not in control. The only way God can take control of your life is when you are somehow not in control. It is really that simple. Don't run too fast from such suffering. But don't try to artificially manufacture it either. Just practice not being in control in little Lenten ways. - Fr Richard Rohr OFM / National Catholic Reporter

Feature - Russian Catholic Church's controversial coming of age
The ordinary people, including many Orthodox Christians, welcomed the Vatican decision to create four new dioceses in Russia. The canonical fullness of Catholic structures is a source of pride for Russia. Although the Patriarchate has reacted in an exaggerated way, some political leaders have said they would welcome a visit by Pope John Paul II. - Fides

Caritas appeal launch highlights refugees' hour of need
"Never before have displaced people had greater needs," said Caritas Australia National Director Jack De Groot ahead of today's launch of the Project Compassion lenten appeal. - Caritas

Pope's creation of Russian dioceses angers Orthodox
The Russian Orthodox Church has described Pope John Paul II's decision to create four permanent Catholic dioceses in Russia as "an unfriendly act" and said the move reduced the chances of a meeting between (Russian) Patriarch Alexiy II and the Pope. - UPI

Pope blesses Holy Land pilgrimage of disabled
On the World Day of the Sick, John Paul II blessed a pilgrimage of disabled people visiting the Holy Land under the banner of peace. - Zenit

African bishops regret Catholic theologian's arrest
Bishops in Central Africa have highlighted the recent arrest of a Catholic theologian in Rwanda as an attempt to halt the Church's efforts at reconciliation. - Zenit

Pope prays winter Olympics will unite human family
The 2002 Winter Olympic Games can serve as a reaffirmation of the bonds uniting the members of the human family, Pope John Paul II said in a letter to Bishop George H. Niederauer of Salt Lake City. - CNS

Scottish archbishop claims abuse-conviction nun innocent
The new leader of the Church in Scotland has prompted controversy by claiming a nun convicted of violently abusing children in her care was innocent. - Scotsman

Opinion - No greater scandal
No news story about the church is more shocking and scandalous than a report of children being sexually abused by priests. No victim is more defenseless than a child being preyed upon by an adult. That abuse cases continue to surface indicates that guidelines on paper are not enough. Far stricter enforcement is called for. - America

Feature - Man of peace in land of war
The Holy Land's Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah, a man of small stature who possesses a great moral strength, says he is tired of death. He insists that Israel is the one who must now compromise because the Palestinians have already given up so much. - St Anthony Messenger

Caritas International head to air refugee concerns
The head of the international confederation of Catholic overseas aid and development organisations will argue that Australia must respond to the needs of refugees and asylum seekers with compassion, at a Parliamentary luncheon in Sydney tomorrow. - Caritas Australia

Sisters of Mercy slam Govt refugee policy
The Mercy Foundation is supporting today's protest outside Parliament House, Canberra, to highlight "the absolute need for change of government policy to protect the human rights of Refugees and Asylum Seekers". - Mercy Foundation

Vatican appeals for UN action in Sudan death sentence case
A Vatican cardinal has called for UN action on behalf of a young Sudanese Christian woman condemned to death by stoning for alleged adultery. - CNS

Activist nun returns home after six months in prison
A 76-year-old nun has been released after serving six months in a federal prison in the US. - Ananova

Rwandan priest accused of genocide says he's innocent
Fr Athanase Seromba, accused in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, appeared voluntarily before the U.N. International Court in Arusha, Tanzania, on Friday and declared himself innocent. - Zenit

Vatican statistics reveal less religious priests
The number of clerical members of religious orders is continuing to decrease, but there is a rise in the number of students of philosophy and theology in religious and diocesan seminaries, according to the new edition of the Pontifical Yearbook (Annuario Pontificio) - Vidimus Dominum

Opinion - Pope's divorce statement undermines legal profession
The Pope may well be correct to consider that the existence of civil lawyers able to advise individuals as to their rights to, and on, the civil dissolution of their marriage contributes to a greater readiness on the part of individuals to divorce. But to hold the lawyer culpable for presenting a case is simply to blame the messenger for the unwelcome message. - Scottish QC Aidan O'Neill / The Tablet

Feature - Pope believes in power of prayer to overcome evil
For as long as his closest aides can remember, Pope John Paul II has risen each morning and spent the first hour of the day on his knees, praying privately before a crucifix. When terrorists attacked New York and Washington Sept. 11, the pope went to his chapel and prayed for hours Now the 81-year-old pope would like the rest of his church to follow suit and rediscover the power of prayer. - CNS

Australian Cardinal in Rome expresses concern for refugees
Retired Vatican official Cardinal Edward Cassidy, has raised concerns in Rome about Australia's treatment of asylum seekers. - Sunday Age

Priest says inter-religious fast opens way for soul-searching
As Christians and Muslims joined hands to pray on the lawns of Hobart's Parliament House on Saturday, Fr Michael Tate urged members of both faiths to draw upon their common tradition of fasting to foster the soul-searching Australia needs to work out its response to its refugee dilemma. - Catholic Media (TAS)

Boston Archdiocese suspends six more priests for abuse
The pressure on Boston Cardinal Bernard Law to resign increased on Friday as six more active priests were suspended on allegations of molesting children. - UPI

Pope prays for Princess Margaret's soul
In a telegram of sympathy sent to Queen Elizabeth II, Pope John Paul II prayed for Margaret's soul, recalling the "travails" and "frailty" that marked her last years of life. - CNN/ICN

Visiting Franciscan says compassion key to Mideast peace
Compassion is the key to a peaceful solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, said a Dutch Franciscan priest who spent three months in the Bethlehem area as part of a civilian observation team. - CNS

110,000 signed up for World Youth Day
110,000 young people, including one from Afghanistan, have made reservations for this year's World Youth Day in Toronto. - Zenit

Opinion - Lenten fasting: unleashing our inner strength
Fasting can free us from addictions, illusions, prejudices, busyness and materialism. It can clear away the inner clutter (voices, fears, wounds), strengthen our gratitude, increase our self-control, help us re-arrange our priorities, alert us to what needs to be changed in our lives and unite us with the suffering of the world. - Margaret Ryan, co-ordinator Canberra-Goulburn Archdiocesan Centre for Faith and Ministry Development / Catholic Voice

Feature - Company of ragpickers finds solidarity through recycling garbage
Recycling junk is the work of the ragpickers of Emmaüs. In their house at just outside Paris, 40 men make their living "valorising" old goods, and living in community. - National Catholic Reporter

Tasmanian priest urges Ramadan fast for Catholics in Lent
A parish priest in Tasmania has urged Catholics to adopt a Ramadan fast for the Fridays of Lent to promote tolerance, reconciliation and understanding between Christians and Muslims. - Catholic Media (TAS)

Australian Catholics flock to Thérèse relics
Catholics in Western Australia have rushed to see the relics of St Therese of Lisieux, which began their national tour in Perth at the end of last month. - Catholic Leader

Vietnam Bishops relaunch information bulletin with government permit

Catholic bishops in Vietnam have resumed publication of an information bulletin, suspended for more than a year, after the government gave it a permit to publish on a limited scale. - ACN

Young adult Catholics like religious but know little about them
Young adult Catholics generally have a positive opinion of men and women religious, but many do not know a great deal about them, according to a new national study from the USA. - CNS

Church in UK furious at Govt school admissions agenda
Catholics in the UK are outraged at moves in the House of Commons to force Government funded schools to make attendance at religious services optional, and to allow only 75% of the places to go to children of the specific faith of the school. - Catholic Times

Student challenges Catholic school dress-code
MacKillop College in the Melbourne suburb of Werribee is standing by its dress code's insistence that students be clean-shaven, despite a potential challenge from the Equal Opportunity Commission. - Herald-Sun

Opinion - The joy of Confession
Confession was not an experience of self-inflation or egotism, nor was it an exercise in humiliation. It was, rather, a moment of personal liberation: to emerge from the time-out-of-time darkness of the little box, overwhelmed with gratitude, and in possession of a wondrous discovery -- that we are creatures born for radiance. - Religion & Ethics Newsweekly

Feature - Human spirit triumphs over Christmas bushfires
Everyone in Warragamba is talking about the incredible community spirit that has emerged from the disaster which destroyed about 20 homes in the area. Few people speak more highly of the way residents have pulled together in the face of adversity than retired parish priest Fr John Evans who lost his own home and all his belongings when the bushfires hit the town. - Catholic Voice

Pope says don't let humans play God
Pope John Paul has said that not all advances in biotechnology were morally legitimate and urged mankind to resist the temptation to play God. - Reuters

French Bishops worried about youth suicide
A French bishops' panel has published pastoral reflections on the prevention of suicide among adolescents, appealing to Christians to give the "answers of faith to the suffering" caused by youth suicide. - Zenit

Group vows to hand out condoms at World Youth Day
The group Catholics for a Free Choice has launched a campaign in Toronto to target the 750,000 youth expected at the forthcoming World Youth Day. - Lifesite

Priest warns of over-dependence on Macau's gambling industry

Church officials and scholars in Macau have warned that the territory's economy should not become overly dependent on gambling as it opens up gambling licences to new bidders. - CRTN

Gay priest defies bishop's suspension
A Spanish priest has announced in a gay magazine that he is an active homosexual, and that he plans to continue in active ministry despite being suspended by his bishop. - The Times (London)

Text message contraception service for Catholics
Catholic women in Poland are signing up for mobile phone text messages warning them not to have sex. - Ananova

Opinion - St Thérèse's path to freedom
The visit of the relics of St Thérèse of Lisieux remind us of her teaching that what we might often see as restrictions or blockages in our lives are in fact the pathways God has given us to do good and have a big influence on others. - Archbishop Philip Wilson / Southern Cross

Feature - Child sexual abuse: The church's days of reckoning
Cases on both sides of the Atlantic are cause for soul searching within the Church, as it becomes clear that officials have seemed more concerned about saving face than about protecting children. - Zenit

Pope seeks to 'balance' role of psychology in priestly formation
While encouraging seminaries to avail themselves of certain psychological insights, Pope John Paul II has insisted that the role of psychology in the formation of priests should be harmonised with a profound understanding of the Christian conscience on life and the vocation to the priesthood. - Zenit

New bishop for Wagga Diocese
The Apostolic Nuncio in Canberra has announced the appointment of Monsignor Gerard Hanna of Armidale as fifth bishop of the New South Wales regional Diocese of Wagga Wagga. - ACBC

ACU acts to protect kids from campus dangers
The Australian Catholic University has announced a new policy on children on campus that requires staff and students must seek permission if they want to take a child to work. -

US Catholic judge questions Church on death penalty
A Supreme Court Justice in the United States has criticised the church's position against the death penalty, saying that Catholic judges who believe capital punishment is wrong should resign. - AP

Cardinal regrets 'missed opportunity' for religious leaders at World Economic Forum
Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick of Washington said religious leaders could have played a useful role in the World Economic Forum meeting in New York during the past week. - Zenit

Franciscans raise $A30.7m from painting sale
Three paintings donated to a charity run by the Franciscan friars in the UK yesterday sold for more than $A30.7. - Guardian

Opinion - Pope's firmness on divorce leaves pastoral need unanswered
The number of Catholics who civilly remarry without first seeking the Church's blessing has skyrocketed in recent years, and this has led to calls for more flexibility in ministering to these people. But John Paul is reminding his clergy that he expects them to circle the wagons around church teaching on marriage and divorce. - Chris McGillion / SMH

Feature - Woomera asylum seekers find 'oasis' at Catholic school
Amid the turmoil and despair at the Woomera Detention Centre, 160 young asylum seekers have found an "oasis" at the local Catholic primary school for three hours a day. Since early January, two groups of 80 children are taking it in turns to spend mornings or afternoons at the school daily. - Southern Cross

Fr Frank Brennan lashes government on detention
The World Economic Forum in New York is attracting the expected protests that seem to be reflecting grass roots concerns of the direction the world is heading in. Meanwhile in Brazil 50,000 delegates are meeting with a different agenda. The Forum Social Mundial (World Social Forum) is holding its second conference in Porto Alegre Brazil from 31 January to 5 February. At the inauguration of the 2nd World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil, the city's Archbishop, Mgr. Dadeus Grings, said that it is important to find solutions, and not create problems. He told Fides News Agency that "the Forum is a dialogue on present day problems. Porto Alegre diocese is proud to be a place open to new ideas" . The Archbishop stressed the need for "globalisation of solidarity" so often called for by the Pope. He also said that many people take part in the Forum only to protest. Whereas the Forum "is more than the Ôno-globalÕ movement. The Forum must find solutions, not make problems. Although the event has strong ideological connotations, we cannot stop dialogue. We need patience". - Fides/Zenit

Pope thanks those with religious vows
Zenit News Agency is carrying a report of a Saturday evening Mass at St Peter's to celebrate the Day of Consecrated Life. Pope John Paul delivered the homily asking, "How many contemplative communities, totally dedicated to prayer, night and day touching God's heart, cooperate in Christ's victory over hatred, vengeance and the structures of sin?". He said, the consecrated "build peace with the testimony of fraternity and communion, spreading the evangelical spirit in the world as leaven that makes humanity grow toward the Kingdom of heaven." - Zenit

Christian Aid proposes international rules for business
As the World Economic Forum (WEF) meets in New York, UK charitable group Christian Aid is proposing new, international, legally-binding rules for global business in order to hold corporations accountable for all their activities and operations across the world. "The world's top 200 corporations now account for almost one-quarter of the world's economic wealth. But there are no effective, international rules to ensure they promote human rights standards across all their operations," said Mark Curtis, Christian Aid's head of policy. - ICN

Catholics mark bloody Londonderry anniversary
Tens of thousands of people gathered on Sunday in Londonderry, in the north-west of Northern Ireland, to retrace the ill-fated route of the Bloody Sunday march 30 years ago. In silence, led by children bearing 14 white crosses, one for each of the Catholic civilians shot dead by British paratroopers, they marched toward the staunchly Catholic Bogside area of the city. - AAP/Yahoo

US Youth interested in, but ignorant of, Religious Life
Many young American Catholics are attracted to religious life, even if they don't know much about it, a new study finds. The results of the study commissioned by the Conference of Major Superiors of Men and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious were published on the eve of the Day of Consecrated Life on Saturday. Knowledge of religious life is better among those who attended Catholic schools, are committed to parish work, or come from a traditionally Catholic family. Only 15% of young women and 23% of young men said that they have been asked to consider a religious vocation. - Zenit

  • Adoptions in Australia fall to 30 year low
  • Church-State relations under review in Russia
  • Austrian women ready for ordination
  • CNS is reporting this week "divorce comments draw vociferous outcry"
  • Catholic Supreme Court justice rejects church view on death penalty
  • Olympians get pregnant & abort to improve performance
  • Mary Robinson: Human rights values 'eroded' since Sep 11
- Various Sources click on headline to get to links

Opinion - What in the world is a Catholic Evangelist?
With the encouragement of Pope John Paul II, the support of lay movements in the Church has been enthusiastic in recent decades. At the same time there appears to be a divide in the Church between what might be loosely called those working in the "professional" Church and those in the lay movements. There seems, to this reviewer, to be some distrust on both sides of what the other half is doing. The attached article arrived in my email last night from Eddie Russell who heads up a lay evangelisation ministry, Flame Ministries International. This Ministry, as far as I am aware, derives no financial support from the formal institutional Church but has recently celebrated its 12th Anniversary. It survives purely on donations from supporters and from the voluntary efforts of members who support this work. The article was orginally prepared for The Record newspaper and sending it to us was triggered by comments made in a recent website review of their Youth Ministry. Mr Russell is a lay evangelist and in this article seeks to describe what the objective of his work is and where he sees it fitting into the mission of the Church. It is published here in the interests of provoking productive and thoughtful discussion on the way in which these lay ministeries are integrated into the Church and the concerns that exist on both sides about such integration and how they might be supported. Click on the headline above to go to the full article. - FMI

Feature - The moral dilemmas of Gambling
The Church speaking out against gambling could seem contradictory. After all, many Catholic charities raise funds by selling lottery tickets, and parish bingo nights are common in many areas. Laws on gambling have been relaxed in recent years, and the amount of money dedicated to this activity is spiraling upward. There has been an ongoing debate in Australia of the challenges posed by gambling for decades. On the weekend, Zenit News Agency published a feature article exploring the similar dilemmas being faced in New York. The article explores the revenue pressures that exist on governments to raise money from the proceeds of gambling and ends with an analysis of Church thinking on the subject. - Zenit

Bishop to anti-globalization activists: produce solutions not protests
The World Economic Forum in New York is attracting the expected protests that seem to be reflecting grass roots concerns of the direction the world is heading in. Meanwhile in Brazil 50,000 delegates are meeting with a different agenda. The Forum Social Mundial (World Social Forum) is holding its second conference in Porto Alegre Brazil from 31 January to 5 February. At the inauguration of the 2nd World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil, the city's Archbishop, Mgr. Dadeus Grings, said that it is important to find solutions, and not create problems. He told Fides News Agency that "the Forum is a dialogue on present day problems. Porto Alegre diocese is proud to be a place open to new ideas" . The Archbishop stressed the need for "globalisation of solidarity" so often called for by the Pope. He also said that many people take part in the Forum only to protest. Whereas the Forum "is more than the Ôno-globalÕ movement. The Forum must find solutions, not make problems. Although the event has strong ideological connotations, we cannot stop dialogue. We need patience". - Fides/Zenit

Computer Science as an aid to Theology?
A group of theologians and computer scientists are collaborating on a mammoth project to translate a new index of the works of St Thomas Aquinas into more contemporary language. The Pope met with them on Saturday and praised the endeavour. The scholars have just completed a 56-volume index of the complete works of Aquinas. They are about to embark on a ten-year project to translate the entire index into contemporary language to make this major figure in Church thinking accessible to modern readers. - CWN/Zenit

Pope critical of Australian refugee policy: Ambassador
There were large rallies in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth on the weekend to protest at the Australian government policy towards asylum seekers. Meanwhile, the Pope's deep disquiet over Australia's treatment of asylum seekers has reportedly been revealed by Australia's Ambassador to the Holy See, Bob Halverson. The Sunday Age quoted Mr Halverson as saying: "The Pope is a bit jaundiced at the moment about the way we're handling the immigration problem with boat people." Last week, the Pope's representative in Australia, Archbishop Francesco Canalini, said he had written to the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Migrants detailing tensions at South Australia's Woomera detention centre. - AAP

Man confesses to killing Australian missionaries
The Age newspaper is running a report this morning that one of the men accused of murdering an Australian Christian missionary and his two children confessed yesterday to starting the fire that killed them because he was angry about what he claimed were forced conversions of Hindus. In a crime that shocked India, Graham Staines and his sons, Philip, 8, and Timothy, 10, were killed when a mob set fire to their jeep after dousing it in petrol on January 23, 1999. - The Age

Pope pleads for legal recognition of the human embryo
A number of secular media outlets, including Ananova and The Telegraph Group, are carrying reports today of an address given by - does this man ever stop for a breath? - Pope John Paul on the weekend. He told his weekly audience in St Peter's Square that to recognise life means "to guarantee every human being the right to develop according to one's own potential, assuring inviolability from conception to natural death. Regarding in particular the human embryo, science by now has demonstrated that it is an individual human that possesses from fertilisation its own identity," the pope said. "Thus it is logically due that such an identity be legally recognised, above all in its fundamental right to life." - Ananova

Hopes for peace in Moluccas: negotiations start/Boston: Two more priests ousted in Boston over abuse/Therese of Lisieux pulling good crowds in Perth/Post-S11 Audiences Turn to Christian Contemporary Music - Various Sources click on headline to get to links

Opinion - Background to the Pope's Divorce Comments
In a report sourced out of London on the weekend, Zenit News Agency has compiled some background facts and research that help explain why Pope John Paul may have felt driven to raise discussion of the divorce issue last week. The breakdown of relationships is becoming endemic in a broad swathe across the world. This article quotes a number of research studies that have been going in different parts of the world. These studies are seeking to establish what the fallout is on children and for society in general. This is a good reference article for bishops, priests and those in lay leadership positions who are after a concise summary of facts when opportunities arise to comment on these issues publicly. Print this article out and file it for easy retrieval. We are sure it will come in handy for many people. - Zenit

Feature - The Pope on some of the "big picture" questions facing us internationally
Zenit News Agency are providing superb coverage of religious matters these days and backing this up with regular weekly background analysis reports. This weekend just passed has seen three interesting reports on diverse subjects. We have used the Divorce article as the opinion piece in today's bulletin. The lead article in their weekly analysis on Globalisation has perhaps even more far-reaching implications. There can be little doubt that the international community has entered uncharted waters in the last decade or so in matters of economics, world trade, communications and a number of related areas such as international law, the share and money markets. The changes are happening so rapidly that companies, governments and individuals find themselves trading and communicating in domains where there are no laws or guiding principles. The Zenit analysis points out that Pope John Paul has had his eagle eye on these developments over a long period of time. He has been drawing attention to the challenges we face as individuals and as an international community. This feature article provides an overview of the territory the Pope has been drawing attention to in a series of addresses over the last two or three years. To quote PJP: "the changes are taking place too quickly for cultures to adapt to the new conditions". - Zenit

Secretary to Bishops gets mitre himself
Fr Brian Finnigan, Secretary of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference felt "overwhelmed and privileged" when he heard yesterday that Pope John Paul II wants him to serve the people of Brisbane as their Auxiliary Bishop. He was probably doubly "overwhelmed" because one of the jobs of the Secretary of the ACBC is to convey this sort of information to the media. For the full story of Fr Finnigan see the web news story (Click on headline above). - ACBC

Religious websites now challenging porn sites
ABC News Radio IT was carrying a report yesterday that Religious Websites are now challenging the more traditional high traffic sites dealing in sport and porn. The report cited examples such as and the Interview with God website (which have both been reviewed by Catholic Telecommunications News in recent months) which have phenomenal traffic through them. The Interview with God website is reputed to be attracting a quarter of a million visits per month. What is perhaps even better news is that it is not just traffic to the sites but they are generating significant revenue through advertising and outperforming other sectors financially. The statistics for both Catholic Telecommunication News and our related Discussion Board indicate a similar highly pleasing trend. There seem to be cyber communities of believers emerging that are functioning in many ways like traditional parishes except for the physical contact. Our full story (click headline above) shows what people are most reading on this news service. - ABC/CTN

Irish religious orders agree to pay $200m+ to abuse victims
The compensation scheme for victims of abuse in Irish religious institutions will finally cost between 200m and 500m Irish Pounds, the Minister for Education in Ireland, Dr Woods, has said in a report published in the Irish Times. Defending the agreement with the State's religious orders, Dr Woods said the children had been sent to institutions run by them on the State's instructions. Religious orders will make contributions to a value of 128m Irish Pounds to a redress scheme for people who suffered abuse while in institutional care, following the agreement reached between the Government and the Conference of Religious of Ireland (CORI). - Irish Times

800 front up for 3.00am Little Flower Mass
800 people were present at 3.00am yesterday morning to greet the arrival of the relics of St Therese of Liesieux in Australia according to the Editor of The Record newspaper, Peter Rosengren, who attended the Mass. According to Mr Rosengren the Archbishop of Perth, Barry Hickey, and organisers of the Australian tour were overjoyed with the turnout. The organisers are hoping that the tour will see a similar enthusiastic reception in this country to what has occurred in other countries. - The Record/The West Australian/ABC News

Papal Address to Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
Zenit News Agency published the full English text of Pope John Paul's address to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in its bulletin yesterday. We publish this here as it was this address that was at the focus of the comments by Vatican correspondent, Robert Blair Kaiser, in our opinion piece two days ago. - Zenit

Pope given "magic" wand
The Pope has been given a magic wand by a delegation of magicians. A group of around 100 Italian illusionists have been received by the Pope at the Vatican, who's given them his blessing. They presented him with the wand belonging to an Indian magician. The delegation of some 100 magicians also asked the Holy Father to name St. John Bosco as their patron. - Ananova/Zenit

Opinion - Cosmological Pope reflects on Psalm 18
At this General Audience on Wednesday John Paul II referred to the universe as "another sacred book" that, together with the Bible, allows man to discover the beauty of God. "With the interior vision of the soul, with religious intuition not distracted by superficiality, man and woman can discover that the world is not dumb but speaks of the Creator," the Pontiff said today when addressing thousands of pilgrims gathered in Paul VI Hall. The best coverage of the address we've been able to find is at Zenit News Agency. See both Zenit press report and the Pope's text. - Zenit

Feature - Meet the Catholic of Monte Christo
He talks with the patron saint of actors, got his first big break after praying the rosary, and insisted that co-star Jennifer Lopez wear underwear in one love scene. Meet Jim Caviezel, devout Catholic and star of "The Count of Monte Cristo." Caviezel had a Dad who wanted him to have a day job. But he believes he was called to be an actor. "I felt this strong feeling in my soul, yet it was very depressing, because how could I tell my dad? He'd always say, 'You don't want to get into that crap.' But it wouldn't go away, it kept surfacing, and I think Our Lady had something to do with it." - Beliefnet