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NEWS ARCHIVE FOR MAY 2002

   
Feature - Feelings at listening sessions run from gratitude to rage
Prompting reactions that ranged from prayerful gratitude to anger verging on rage, bishops throughout the United States held listening sessions in May and early June to help them prepare for their 13-15 June meeting in Dallas on clergy sex abuse. "I was taken by the degree of passion and anger the people expressed," said Bishop John F. Kinney of St Cloud, Minnesota, after a listening session last week. "They expressed their anger and sadness. I saw and heard a real depth of pain, a depth of anger and a concern that the church has to get this right."
31 May 2002

Opinion - Nazi echoes in scientific research
A chilling report from Austria about a clinic that has been conducting research on the preserved brains of disabled children experimented on and then killed during World War II serves as more than just a reminder of the inhumanity of the Nazi era. It also rams home the stark reality of the campaign being waged by some groups to justify the use of embryonic stem cells for research purposes. Obviously, not everyone accepts the Catholic Church's position on the very early beginnings of life, choosing, instead, more arbitrary points in the story that is the development of the human embryo. But we are getting into dangerous territory when we start to dehumanise embryos in this way.
31 May 2002

Italian bishops vote to adjust Lord's Prayer
The Italian bishops agree God does not lead people into temptation, and they voted almost unanimously to make that clear in their biblical version of the Lord's Prayer.
31 May 2002

Pope writing encyclical on Eucharist to summarise his theology
Pope John Paul II is preparing an encyclical on the Eucharist, according to an Italian TV report confirmed by the Zenit news agency.
31 May 2002

Scottish church owns up to anti-Catholic legacy
For the first time in its history, the Church of Scotland admitted this week that it has been guilty of religious bigotry, particularly against Irish Catholics.
31 May 2002

Vatican journal accuses US media of "anti-Catholic vendetta" over scandals coverage
A Vatican-sanctioned journal has attacked the US media for "morbid" behaviour in its coverage of a child sex scandal and denounced what it called anti-Catholic attitudes that portrayed priests as monsters.
31 May 2002

Milwaukee administrator working to "heal" shocked faithful
Auxiliary Bishop Richard J. Sklba, administrator of the US Archdiocese of Milwaukee following Archbishop Rembert G. Weakland's resignation over admissions of a gay relationship and payment of $A799,474 "hush money", has said the primary challenge for Catholics is to experience "a sense of healing".
31 May 2002

Pell in preemptive strike against 60 Minutes
Sydney's Archbishop George Pell yesterday defended himself against claims by that he tried to "buy the silence" of a sexual abuse victim by offering him money, a house or a car.
31 May 2002

Feature - Swiss Guard: Keepers of the faith
Not many armies can boast that their commander is Pope John Paul II, the peace-loving head of the Catholic Church. And in an era of drab, utilitarian uniforms, few recruits start their service in feathered helmets, blue-yellow-and-red tunics and pantaloons reportedly designed by Michelangelo. Although 28 recruits were sworn in earlier this month, the 110-member force is still 17 men short. "Recruitment can be difficult," says Colonel Pius Segmüller, the Swiss Guard commander responsible for keeping the ranks filled. "Part of the problem may be that we have very high standards and a tough selection process focused on quality rather than quantity."
30 May 2002

Opinion - Ecumenical leader steps down
Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey, who retires in October, has had a close personal relationship with Pope John Paul II and visited the Bishop of Rome on several occasions - more often than any of his predecessors. Sydney Anglican Archbishop Peter Jensen has called him a 'convinced evangelical' and British Catholic Archbishop Cormac Murphy-O'Connor has described him as a person of 'integrity, zeal and courage'. - Sr Trish Madigan, liaison officer, Sydney Archdiocesan Commission of Ecumenism
30 May 2002

Study says churchgoers live longer
Regular attendance at religious services has been shown to decrease death rates among old people, with a US study revealing churchgoers have lower blood pressure, less depression and anxiety, and stronger immune systems.
30 May 2002

British priest freed by Liberian rebels
A British missionary priest taken by rebel fighters from his church compound in Liberia has been handed over to Vatican representatives in neighbouring Guinea, according to diplomatic sources.
30 May 2002

Bush promised to raise religious freedom issue during Russian summit
US President George W. Bush promised the leader of Russia's embattled Catholic minority to take up the issue of anti-Catholic discrimination with Russian leader Vladimir Putin during a four-day summit.
30 May 2002

Vatican cardinal says PNG priests should stay out of politics
Politics is the vocation of the laity and not priests, Cardinal Jan Schotte, the General Secretary of the Synod of Bishops at the Vatican told seminarians in Rabaul this week.
30 May 2002

Bishops urge arms surrender in Solomons
Oceania bishops meeting in the Papua New Guinea coastal city of Rabaul have urged residents of the Solomon Islands to observe tomorrow's deadline for the surrender of arms, explosives and stolen property.
30 May 2002

Catholic schools support paid maternity leave but don't have the cash
The Catholic Education Office believes in paid maternity leave but is concerned about who would pay the almost $1 million necessary each year to bring Catholic schools into line with international standards.
30 May 2002

Feature - Mandate deadline igniting academic freedom debate in US colleges
Acting on instructions from the Vatican, US bishops have ordered Catholics who teach the faith to obtain by Saturday, a "mandatum" that attests the theologian teaches only authentic Catholicism. Pope John Paul II called for certifying professors in a 1990 decree as a way to bolster the religious character of Catholic campuses worldwide, and the issue roiled American theologians in the late '90s. But some have complained it tramples their academic freedom.
29 May 2002

Opinion - Bethlehem standoff exposed weaknesses in Vatican diplomacy
Despite a happy ending earlier this month to the standoff at Bethlehem's Basilica of the Nativity, the 39-day drama exposed serious divisions in Catholic attitudes toward the Israeli-Palestinian problem, as well as potential weaknesses in Vatican diplomacy that often relies on informal mediators and backdoor channels of communication.
29 May 2002

Rethink urged on school principal's role
Patrick Duignan, Foundation Chair in Educational Leadership at the Australian Catholic University, said the shortfall of school principals is becoming critical, and a redesign of the role is necessary.
29 May 2002

Poll shows anti-Catholic sentiment in US even before sex abuse scandals
Anti-Catholic attitudes, including a belief that Roman Catholics are not permitted to think for themselves, are common in the United States, according to a survey released last week by priest-sociologist Fr Andrew Greeley.
29 May 2002

British Church considers closing half its seminaries
The Catholic Church in England and Wales is looking at merging its four seminaries into two after it emerged only half of its training places are being taken.
29 May 2002

Pope says standards must be maintained during vocations crisis
John Paul II has insisted that the vocations crisis being faced by many dioceses and religious congregations must not lower the level of formation of future priests.
29 May 2002

Fate of British missionary in West Africa remains a mystery
Despite news that he was safe and about to be released, Church authorities are become increasingly worried about the fate of Fr Garry Jenkins of the SMA (Society of Missions of Africa), who was abducted around ten days ago.
29 May 2002

Pope assures Bush US Catholics can overcome clergy abuse crisis
Pope John Paul II yesterday told US President George W. Bush that American Catholics have the spiritual resources to overcome the clergy sex abuse crisis.
29 May 2002

Feature - 1600s Jesuit 'postmodernist' back in fashion
The German Jesuit Athanasius Kircher (1602-80), a rough contemporary of Descartes and Galileo, studied Egyptian hieroglyphs and helped Bernini with his fountain in the Piazza Navona. He transcribed bird song and wrote a book about musicology (still used today). At a symposium at New York University on Thursday, Kircher's postmodern qualities were evoked. Like other Jesuits, Kircher was a religious man and a world scholar trying to prove that Aristotle and the Bible were right.
28 May 2002

Opinion - Challenge to secular stranglehold on public discourse
It isn't often that Australians hear a viewpoint steeped in the great Catholic intellectual tradition which is both original and formidable in the challenge it offers to complacent secular liberalism. As a Catholic intellectual, Harvard's Learned Hand professor of law Mary Ann Glendon, visiting Australia this week, is a sign of the duality of the church's witness within the private and social spheres. A religiously informed view is valuable, precisely because it is an intrinsic element of our culture. Attempting to exclude it from debate exemplifies what is wrong with so much hollow "rights talk" in Australia. - Angela Shanahan
28 May 2002

Newspaper reports 16 priests have committed suicide
At least 16 Catholic priests accused of sexually abusing children have killed themselves since 1986, a newspaper reported on Saturday.
28 May 2002

Bishops of India warn against war
The Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI) has appealed to nuclear-armed India and Pakistan "to refrain from the path of an armed conflict and to work toward a solution of peace and dialogue to fight terrorism."
28 May 2002

Bethlehem Church of Nativity reclaimed by Israeli army
Israeli troops have taken over the West Bank city of Bethlehem and once again surrounded the Church of the Nativity.
28 May 2002

Melbourne priest's charity raising $3m from pokies
A children's charity backed by Catholic interests is grabbing more than $3.3 million a year from the pockets of poker machine gamblers.
28 May 2002

Catholic Welfare pleased with Govt Personal Support Program
Catholic Welfare Australia has welcomed Family and Community Services Minister Amanda Vanstone's announcement yesterday of a program aimed at providing personal support to the most disadvantaged members of the community.
28 May 2002

Social Justice Council says why Pacific Solution is wrong
The Australian Catholic Social Justice Council has called for an end to the so-called Pacific Solution, suggesting it is a "fundamental inversion of values for the interests of the state, or of national security to be placed before the protection of the human dignity of asylum seekers and refugees".
28 May 2002

Feature - 'Call of the sea' gave in to a stronger call
Newly-ordained Sydney priest Greg McGregor always assumed he would follow his father, Lieutenant-Commander Keiran McGregor, into the Navy. Fr Greg says his decision to forgo the Navy was not made all at once. "It's quite subtle. It just grows slowly in you over the years and years and years," he says. "For some guys it's sort of like lightning."
27 May 2002

Opinion - Church must be fair to accused priests
In the past the Church has been accused of putting the interests of offending priests before their victims. Now it is determined to redress the balance. But some priests feel vulnerable and afraid. "Someone could say that 26 years ago I abused them and I would not have a leg to stand on. My reputation would disappear overnight and nothing the Church could do would help me get it back. We are sitting targets."
27 May 2002

East Timor's president says church plays large role in reconstruction
East Timor's first president has expressed strong support for the role of the Catholic Church in the process of building a democratic state.
27 May 2002

Bush to meet Pope tomorrow
Pope John Paul II will meet with US President George W. Bush at the Vatican tomorrow, as part of a European trip that also includes stops in Berlin, Moscow, and Paris.
27 May 2002

Terrorism fear causes youth to re-think Toronto Youth Day
Organisers of July's World Youth Day celebration in Toronto have scaled back their estimates of numbers expected to attend, from 350,000 to around 350,000.
27 May 2002

Brisbane bishop comments on monitoring of convicted priests
Brisbane Archdiocese auxiliary Bishop John Gerry has said that effective monitoring of convicted pedophile priests "needs to be developed further".
27 May 2002

US archbishop resigns after sex assault allegations
Rembert G. Weakland, the 75 year old Archbishop of Milwaukee, has been granted permission by the Pope to resign after paying off a man who claims he was sexually assaulted in the archbishop's apartment 20 years ago.
27 May 2002

Pope moves to heal Bulgaria wounds
Pope John Paul II has moved to allay suspicions about the 1981 attempt on his life, saying in Sofia that he had never believed there was a Bulgarian plot behind it. Correspondents say the Bulgarian Government had been hoping that the Pope's four-day visit would finally put the allegations to rest.
27 May 2002

Feature - The lost spiritual connection with food
The US Catholic bishops of the United States have probably written as much about food as any other subject. "Food, its production and consumption are at the very heart of the Catholic faith," said Holy Cross Br Dave Andrews. "And spirituality will play a central role in digging us out of the mess we've made of our food system."
24 May 2002

Opinion - Contraceptive mentality is sexist
Its fundamental premise is that a woman's fertility is a problem, not a privilege, and that women will only find liberation when they have obliterated from themselves an intrinsic part of themselves. It is worth reminding ourselves that contraceptives are not medicine, because female fertility is not a disease. The Pill, for instance, works by damaging a normal body, not by healing a damaged body. - Lucy O'Connell, chaplaincy team, Sydney University
24 May 2002

No medical marijuana at Vatican pharmacy
The Vatican's pharmacy announced yesterday that will not fill prescriptions for medical marijuana because there are many medical alternatives available for the relief of pain.
24 May 2002

Hutu rebels free Burundi Bishop
Hutu rebels yesterday freed the Catholic Bishop of Ruyigi in Burundi, whom they seized in an ambush six days ago, according to the Missionary Service News Agency, MISNA.
24 May 2002

NCEC worried about children in detention
The National Catholic Education Commission has attacked the long-term detention of asylum seeker children, describing it as deleterious to their intellecual, emotional, physical and spiritual development.
24 May 2002

East Timorese priest says justice essential to reconciliation efforts
An official of East Timor's reconciliation commission said the only way to reconcile with Indonesia is to bring Indonesian authorities to justice for human rights abuses during their 24-year occupation.
24 May 2002

Pope arrives in Bulgaria
Pope John Paul II has arrived in Bulgaria for his first papal visit to the country, where it's hoped his presence will promote reconciliation with Orthdox Christians.
24 May 2002

Hands off state laws on frozen embryos, says bioethics expert
The Director of Adelaide's Southern Cross Bioethics Institute Dr John Fleming has called on the Federal Government to adopt a "hands off" approach to States which already have laws restricting destructive embryonic research.
24 May 2002

Feature - Gay priests say it's harder now to tell the truth
"Be honest with one another," Fr Jim told his congregation. "Be open with one another. Live your baptismal truths." For 37 years, Fr Jim has taught the truth of God. The truth is that Fr Jim, 63, is gay. As the scandal over the sexual abuse of minors surges through the Catholic church, Fr Jim and thousands of other homosexual priests say it is harder than ever to tell the truth.
23 May 2002

Opinion - Frailty not enough to stop travelling Pope
Even if his head now often slumps and his face has a mask like quality, John Paul II remains on the road. One might wonder just why the Pope has chosen to visit Azerbaijan at all. In truth, the visit is a diplomatic nicety, a way of evening things up with the Azeris who were a little upset when the Pope visited Armenia last September. The Azeris and Armenians have long been in conflict about the mainly ethnic Armenian conclave of Nagorno-Karabakh. - Paddy Agnew, Rome Letter
23 May 2002

Crucifix fashion makes Pope cross
The Pope this week condemned celebrities such as Britain's Victoria and David Beckham for sporting crucifixes as fashion accessories because they contradict "the spirit of the Gospel".
23 May 2002

Naples Cardinal receives suspended prison sentence
In only the latest of a series of court cases involving Cardinal Michele Giordano of Naples, he was given a suspended prison sentence on Tuesday after being found guilty of renovating a building without permission.
23 May 2002

Chicago cardinal may sell mansion to pay legal bills
Cardinal Francis George said he's considering selling the mansion that has been home to Catholic archbishops for more than a century, and some of the profits could pay legal fees in priest sex-abuse cases.
23 May 2002

Oceania Bishops to meet in PNG next week
Nearly 80 bishops will gather in Rabaul, Papua New Guinea, in the next week for the Federation of Bishops Conferences of Oceania assembly, which is held every four years.
23 May 2002

Pope arrives in Azerbaijan, pleads for religious tolerance and end to violence
Arriving yesterday in Azerbaijan, an overwhelmingly Muslim country with only 120 Catholics, Pope John Paul II pleaded for religious tolerance around the globe and an end to violence in the name of God.
23 May 2002

Catholic bishops call on PM to present all the facts on stem cells
The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference has sent a letter to Prime Minister John Howard endorsing the ban on cloning but expressing deep concerns with the decision to allow destructive research on embryos.
23 May 2002

Feature - Keeping an eye on the heavens
George Coyne, a Jesuit priest and the Vatican's chief astronomer, says he is surprised that many people, including Catholics, are unaware that the Vatican has an observatory, much less a highly sophisticated one. Yet the Holy See has operated observatories for more than 400 years. Pope Gregory XIII built the first tower, in pre-telescope days, for Jesuit scientists researching the 1582 Gregorian calendar in universal use today.
22 May 2002

Opinion - Reconciling demands of Christianity and politics
Very often people ask me how I can be a Christian and a politician, because Christianity sets out what is right and wrong very clearly, while politics is always a matter of compromise. I explain that in politics sometimes it's necessary to get to where one wants to be in small stages. - British Conservative Catholic MP Ann Widdecombe
22 May 2002

Gaudi beatification process moves ahead
The Archdiocese of Barcelona has inaugurated a beatification process for Antoni Gaudi, as the city marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of the visionary architect.
22 May 2002

Priest says Mother Teresa could be beatified within a year
After an Italian newspaper reported that Mother Teresa of Calcutta could be beatified within a year, the promoter of her cause has affirmed that technically "it would be possible".
22 May 2002

US bishops to ignore Vatican lawyer's advice
Catholic bishops in the United States say they intend to continue turning over to secular authorities the names of priests accused of child sexual abuse, despite an article by a Vatican lawyer suggesting they should not do so.
22 May 2002

Belgian bishops condemn country's legalisation of euthanasia
Belgium's bishops have condemned a parliamentary vote to legalise euthanasia in the predominantly Catholic country.
22 May 2002

Toowoomba Diocese Commission challenges MP on racism denial
The Social Justice Commission of the Diocese of Toowoomba has labelled recent comments by Federal MP Peter Slipper as "hurtful and ill-informed", and called on him to apologise.
22 May 2002

Detention report depicts 'culture of carnage'
New figures on self harm in Australian detention centres reveal a "culture of carnage" that leaves the Commonwealth open to being sued for negligence, according to a report released yesterday by the Catholic Commission for Justice Development and Peace (CCJDP) of the Archdiocese of Melbourne.
22 May 2002

Feature - Russia grows increasingly anti-Catholic
For 14 years, Catholic Bishop Jerzy Mazur had always been there in person when he celebrated Mass for his congregation in Siberia. But last month, Russian authorities banned the Polish-born bishop from entering the country. Now, Mazur dials long-distance from his home in the Warsaw suburb of Michalowice to preach by phone to his abandoned flock in the Siberian city of Irkutsk, five time zones away.
21 May 2002

Opinion - Church's teaching cannot, will not, change
The Catholic Church offers goodwill to all. We pray in particular for those in prisons not of their own making and for those who can only struggle slowly towards the truth. The church's view on sexuality is clear and unequivocal. God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve and important consequences follow from this. The protesters must realise that the church's teaching on this matter cannot, will not, change. - Archbishop George Pell
21 May 2002

Eftpos in churches boosting donations
Protestant pastors in New Zealand say donations to their churches have risen since easy-pay Eftpos machines have been installed in church foyers within the past 18 months.
21 May 2002

Catholic Health exposes 'neglected' issues of Federal Budget
A week after the handing down of the Federal Budget, Catholic Health Australia has issued an analysis that concludes that Treasurer Costello "baulked at addressing the hard systemic issues and paid little regard to the health care needs of many vulnerable and often powerless groups".
21 May 2002

British bishop to sell his house and give proceeds to the poor
Bishop Patrick O'Donoghue of Lancaster announced on Sunday that he plans to sell his $A2.64 million official home and spend much of the proceeds on the poor and interfaith initiatives.
21 May 2002

Pope leaves tomorrow for five-day trip to Azerbaijan and Bulgaria
Despite his frail health and advancing years, Pope John Paul II departs Wednesday for Azerbaijan and Bulgaria, a five-day trip intended to improve relations with Muslims and Orthodox Christians.
21 May 2002

Holy See announces diplomatic relations with East Timor
The Vatican will establish an apostolic nunciature in Dili, while East Timor will have an embassy in the Vatican, it was announced yesterday.
21 May 2002

Kidnapped African bishop feared executed
A Catholic bishop has been kidnapped in the central African republic of Burundi and it is feared that he may have been executed.
21 May 2002

Feature - Bishop Belo: Blessed are the peacemakers
When President elect Xanana Gusmao hears people call him "Timor's hero" he often deflects the praise to Bishop Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo. The bishop of Dili and Nobel laureate has been a passionate defender of the poor and disenfranchised from the very beginning of East Timor's struggle for independence. The violence the Roman Catholic church has been subject to in East Timor is something unheard of in the modern world.
20 May 2002

Opinion - Pell and Jensen: Sydney's unlikely alliance
Sydney Anglican archbishop sees himself as upholding the true Puritan tradition. And he has now found something of an ally in his Catholic counterpart, Archbishop George Pell. There is a striking affinity between the two camps in their hatred of liberalism, and their unyielding and often self-gratifying definition of the kind of doctrines that exclude and divide. It seems probable that in this corner of Australia this unlikely alliance will continue for some time to come. But they could at least leave their prejudicial distortions of history out of it. - Lucy Wooding, historian of the Reformation at King's College, London
20 May 2002

Adelaide Vicar-General says Church must seek opinion of faithful
For its mission to be authentic, the Church must know what people are saying about their faith, the structures of the Church and their community, according to Adelaide Archdiocese vicar-general Fr David Cappo.
20 May 2002

Vatican lawyer opposes release of abuse data
An influential canon lawyer at the Vatican has written an article in the Italian Jesuits' review La Civilta' Cattolica, saying bishops should not turn over allegations or records of sexual abuse by priests to civil authorities.
20 May 2002

Pope appears weaker on birthday
Following days of intense speculation about his possible resignation due to poor health, Pope John Paul II let a priest read his response to birthday greetings in an apparent effort to save his strength.
20 May 2002

Pell comments after confrontation with gay group
Sydney's Archbishop George Pell yesterday refused the Eucharist to a dozen practising gays and lesbians from the Rainbow Sash Movement who presented themselves to receive the sacrament at St Mary's Cathedral, while Melbourne's Archbishop Denis Hart refused eight members of the group.
20 May 2002

Prostitution rise alarms East Timor bishop
East Timor's spiritual leader yesterday accused foreigners of bringing prostitutes to his fledgling country and encouraging the spread of AIDS.
20 May 2002

Mass begins East Timorese independence celebrations
East Timorese crowded into the garden of a Nobel Peace Prize winning bishop Sunday to celebrate a Mass hours before their troubled territory was to declare itself independent, becoming the world's newest nation.
20 May 2002

Feature - What the US bishops knew in 1985
As attorneys press countless clergy sex abuse cases against the church, two critical questions they most often ask are: "What did the bishop know?" and "When did he know it?" A 92-page report on clergy sex abuse, distributed to the U.S. bishops in May 1985, warning them of the trouble ahead, has been repeatedly cited by victims' attorneys as a hard measure of episcopal negligence.
17 May 2002

Opinion - Popular culture challenges administration of sacraments
When I entered the church to prepare for the day's wedding ceremony the photographer was setting up an eight-foot scaffolding for extra lights. When confronted, the couple became angry: "Hey, we just want the best pictures". Many approach the Church with the best of intentions but are more imbued with cultural values and viewpoints concerning marriage than ecclesial ones. - Fr William P. Sheridan, Seton Hall University campus minister
17 May 2002

Vinnies Ireland pays for private medical care to avert deaths
The Society of St Vincent de Paul is paying for private medical care to ensure disadvantaged people who are seriously ill do not die on waiting lists.
17 May 2002

Priests score high marks in Chilean opinion poll
A national Poll organised by the Catholic University of Santiago has revealed that Catholic priests have the highest credibility rating of any group mentioned, while journalists are at the bottom of the credibility scale.
17 May 2002

Honduran cardinal fuels rumours as Pope turns 82
John Paul II does not rule out resigning as Pope if his health deteriorates further, a Honduran cardinal has told reporters in Rome.
17 May 2002

New York Archdiocese changes abuse plan
In a departure from earlier policy, the Archdiocese of New York announced on Wednesday that it will report sexual abuse allegations directly to prosecutors without first conducting an internal review.
17 May 2002

Catholic health says pharmaceutical benefits cuts unnecessary
Catholic Health Australia's (CHA) Budget Analysis has described proposed cuts to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) as "a blunt instrument which overestimates savings, worsens health outcomes and increases other health and welfare costs".
17 May 2002

Survey results reveal drift to Protestant denominations
The Pentecostal and Churches of Christ are drawing members away from more established churches, according to Initial Impressions, the preliminary results from the 2001 National Church Life Survey, which will be released in Adelaide today.
17 May 2002

Feature - Speak for the poor... But not in my marginal seat, please
Bringing the plight of the working poor to the attention of politicians at last year's Federal Election was the aim of the 'Fair Go Fair Share' campaign devised by Queensland's Religious Congregational Leaders and its Social Action Office. The campaign focused on affordable housing, and access to a living wage and health care. To compensate for the pollies' disinterest in poverty issues, the SAO hit on the bold strategy of campaigning in marginal seats.
16 May 2002

Opinion - Globalisation? Not without religion
There is no doubt that people are worried about the globalisation of trade and the economy. Globalisation is also a major concern to Pope John Paul II. He argues that when globalisation is allowed to operate without appropriate safeguards, the logic of the market becomes "the medium for a new culture", imposing values that are often hostile to faith and traditional ways of life centred on family and community. - Dr Michael Casey, Permanent Fellow in Sociology and Politics, John Paul II Institute for Marriage and the Family (Australian Campus).
16 May 2002

Fans ask priest not to forgive Ferrari for carve-up
The parish priest in Ferrari's home village says fans are asking him not to forgive the racing team for its antics at the Austrian Grand Prix.
16 May 2002

Pope makes clear he intends to stay
Yesterday, three days before his 82nd birthday, the increasingly frail Pope John Paul II made it clear he has no intention of stepping down.
16 May 2002

International academic honour for Pell private secretary
Dr Michael Casey, a permanent fellow in sociology and politics at the John Paul II Institute in Melbourne and private secretary to the Archbishop of Sydney, Dr George Pell, has been named the 2001 Novak Award winner for a research paper assessing the impact of globalisation on different cultures.
16 May 2002

Bishops call for Israeli withdrawal
Australia's Catholic Bishops have called for the occupation of any part of the Palestinian territories by Israelis to cease.
16 May 2002

Doing better for Families and Communities
A group of welfare organisatons including Catholic Welfare Australia yesterday released a set of guidelines aimed to set a new standard for the protection of families and communities.
16 May 2002

Catholic Welfare says Govt 'mean-streak towards disadvantaged' continues
Catholic Welfare Australia has said believes the Government's decision to make changes to the Disability Support Pension in Tuesday night's Budget is, in essence, re-defining what is means to be disabled in Australia today.
16 May 2002

Feature - Woomera detainees appeal to Port Pirie Catholic youth
30 young people and Bishop Eugene Hurley met with six young adult detainees for one extraordinary day in Woomera. This was the first opportunity the detainees had been given to speak to young Australians since arriving a year ago. The richest and most challenging moment was one of the detainees' personal appeal to us to "be his voice"
15 May 2002

Opinion - Churches have lost power to mobilise
Christian churches have lost almost all their intellectual significance, and act as though they have nothing of importance to say on any issue, said the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, Peter Jensen, in his Halifax-Portal lecture last week. "No-one in their wildest imaginings would say that the theologians are worth consulting on matters of great significance." Given the glib criticisms Jensen's remarks have attracted, many people are clearly unperturbed by this prospect. - Chris McGillion
15 May 2002

Bush could discuss sex abuse with Pope
White House officials are shifting President Bush's schedule his European trip that starts next week to make room for a visit with Pope John Paul II.
15 May 2002

Alleged abuse victim charged in priest shooting
A priest in the United States was shot and seriously wounded by a man who had accused him of abuse years ago. Police said Dontee Stokes, 26, turned himself in on Monday night to police, saying he had shot Fr Maurice Blackwell.
15 May 2002

Sudan diocese fears hundreds killed in attacks
Ugandan rebels killed more than 470 Sudanese civilians, assaulting girls and women and burning down a half-dozen villages in a week of violence, a Catholic Church official in Sudan has said.
15 May 2002

Bishops urge prayers for Timorese as new nation celebrates independence
The Australian Catholic Bishops have invited Australians to pause in prayer and thanksgiving on Monday for East Timor's independence day.
15 May 2002

Pope prompts Australian bishops' ecological conversion of heart
The Bishops Committee for Justice, Development and Peace (BCJDP) will henceforth be known as the Bishops' Committee for Justice, Development, Ecology and Peace (BCJDEP), in response to Pope John Paul II's call for "ecological conversion".
15 May 2002

Budget gives blessing to wealthy to make hay while economic sun shines
Catholic Welfare Australia has regretted that last night's Federal Budget requires welfare recipients to bear the burden of savings "while the well-off continue to make hay in the economic sun".
15 May 2002

Feature - Church now fighting for its legal rights on sex abuse
Where once the church tried to quietly settle cases, according to church and plaintiff lawyers, it is now pursuing an aggressive litigation strategy, hiring high-powered law firms and private detectives to examine the personal lives of the church's accusers, fighting to keep documents secret and engaging in new tactics to minimise settlements. The 194 Catholic dioceses in the United States do not possess limitless financial resources. And if good priests are to be defended, they say, lawyers must explore the psyche and pasts of troubled plaintiffs.
14 May 2002

Opinion - Strong vision explains success of Catholic schools
A specific identity is the hallmark of the most successful not-for-profit organisations. The preoccupation with identity translates into the commitment of successful organisations to identify a vision for the organisation. It is vision that delivers coherence in the matrix of tasks necessary for the successful delivery of whatever a service organisation has to offer. - Br Ambrose Payne FSC, President, Association of Catholic School Principals (NSW&ACT)
14 May 2002

US religious superiors lobby Washington for East Timor support
A week ahead of next Monday's proclamation of independence for East Timor, the Conference of Major Superiors of Men in the US is seeking to persuade Congress to quickly make assistance funds available.
14 May 2002

31 bishops sign petition for Vatican III
31 bishops, including a cardinal and a senior member of the Roman curia, have signed a petition asking John Paul II to convene a new ecumenical council, according to a report in the National Catholic Reporter.
14 May 2002

Report reopens Vatican Radio antenna controversy
Vatican Radio's forest of antennas north of Rome could be causing leukaemia with the high levels of electromagnetic radiation they emit, a report conducted for a public prosecutor said on Thursday.
14 May 2002

African bishops to use own resources to deal with sex abuse
The Catholic Bishops Conference of Southern Africa has been criticised by police and children's rights groups following the recent announcement of its policy to deal with clergy sexual abuse through its own channels and not refer complaints to police.
14 May 2002

Catholic group welcomes Govt action on child migrants
The convenor of the Catholic Church Joint Liaison Group on Child Migration Br Tony Shanahan has largely welcomed the Federal Government's announcement of a $3.7 assistance package and statement of regret for injustices suffered by child migrants.
14 May 2002

Vatican commends Australian bishops on asylum seeker stand
The Australian Catholic Bishops' Conference recent statement on Refugees and Asylum Seekers has been praised by the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerants.
14 May 2002

Feature - Franciscan says most tense moment came when gunmen entered Nativity
The most difficult moment of the more-than-one-month standoff at the Church of the Nativity was when armed Palestinian gunmen entered the church, said a Franciscan friar who left the compound on Friday. "When the Palestinian gunmen entered, we found ourselves invaded by these people with guns. It was frightening, since we were unable to hide and we had not expected this," said Father Nicolas Marques, master of clerics of the Franciscans.
13 May 2002

Opinion - Clergy sex abuse is really about power, not sex
Homosexual priests could emerge as the scapegoat for the sex abuse crisis. But the molestation and raping of children are not primarily sexual acts; they are violent acts of power. By these actions children are harmed, sometimes destroyed. These actions are about power. - Fr James F. Keenan SJ, professor of Christian Ethics at Weston Jesuit School of Theology.
13 May 2002

Gay teen wins injunction to take boyfriend to Catholic school Prom
A Canadian gay teen whose battle with his Catholic school board for the right to take his boyfriend to the prom ended in triumph on Friday says the ordeal has been hard on their relationship and the party was anti-climactic.
13 May 2002

Philippine bishops eliminate smut from Internet
The Catholic church in the Philippines has launched its own internet service which filters out violence, pornography and gambling sites.
13 May 2002

Sharp Vatican rebuke for traditionalist group
Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos has issued a sharp rebuke to traditionalists for their harsh criticism of Pope John Paul II and of the Vatican.
13 May 2002

Vatican official says church law adequate for sex abuse cases
While American bishops will meet next month to determine national policies regarding priestly sexual misconduct, the Vatican's top canon law official has pointed out that existing Church law already provides adequate means of addressing the problem.
13 May 2002

Bethlehem Christians give thanks
Christians have been taking part in special services at Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity, the first since the siege of Palestinian gunmen by Israeli troops there ended on Friday.
13 May 2002

Catholic Welfare warns poor should not bankroll border protection
Catholic Welfare Australia believes people with disabilities, struggling to make ends meet on social security pensions, should not be targeted in the Treasurer's savings campaign to bankroll border protection and the War on Terrorism.
13 May 2002

Feature - Holy Land friar fears violence if Nativity agreement fails
A church spokesman in the Holy Land has warned that a proposed solution to the standoff at Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity is in danger of coming apart. "The situation is degenerating," Franciscan Father David Jaeger, spokesman for the Franciscans in charge of the Holy Land's holy places. "Inside the basilica are very, very hungry and very, very armed men, who may be becoming literally desperate."
10 May 2002

Opinion - Is anti-Catholicism the new anti-Semitism?
Considering that most instances of paedophilia involve not priests but live-in step-fathers, clerical celibacy cannot be considered a significant element in this tragedy. What is remarkable is the tone and content of the media reports. Clandestine graveyards for nuns' dead babies strangled at birth and other gothic myths are still alive in the minds of the uncritical and are given credence by sensationalist media reportage replaying the old songs of sectarian hatred. - Fr Ephraem Chifley OP
10 May 2002

Church apologises to Brazil's Indians
500 years after the first Mass was celebrated in Brazil, the Catholic Church has formally apologised for the "sins and errors" committed by its clergy against Indians and black people.
10 May 2002

Ratzinger endorses day of penance for abuse
The Vatican's Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger has endorsed the idea of the American bishops performing a public day of penance connected to the spiraling sexual abuse scandal in the United States.
10 May 2002

Jesuit Refugee Service warns on Timorese rough justice
Illegal peoples' courts were likely to dish out rough justice in post-independence East Timor, unless the legal system is built into a more effective instrument of justice, according to a Jesuit aid worker.
10 May 2002

Vinnies regrets 'demonising' of nation's needy
A St Vincent de Paul Society discussion paper says Australians' acquiescence to the growing trend to demonise the most needy and disadvantaged demeans us all.
10 May 2002

Catholic Welfare fears defence spend-up will stall jobs growth
Catholic Welfare Australia is alarmed that next week's Federal Budget will stress national security and defence at the cost of job creation and programs for getting unemployed people into the workforce.
10 May 2002

Bishop wants terror legislation thrown out
The Australian Catholic Social Justice Council's acting chairman yesterday welcomed a Senate Committee's caution on new anti-terror legislation, but urged that it be rejected and rewritten rather than amended.
10 May 2002

Feature - Pope to find Azerbaijan stable, impoverished, with few Catholics
When Pope John Paul II visits later this month, he will find a stable, impoverished country with a tiny Catholic community and a president whose people are watching their leader's health as closely as Catholic faithful worldwide follow the pontiff's. Head of Azerbaijan's KGB in Soviet times, President Heydar is 78 years old in a country where the male life expectancy is 59 years.
9 May 2002

Opinion - Can space tourism be ethically justified?
A rich South African businessman has recently been on a voyage into space after paying nearly $40 million for the privilege. In uncritically reporting such events, are the media colluding in a vast conspiracy of silence about the injustices suffered by the poor in a world of unparalleled wealth? For the assumption is that rich people are entitled to spend their money how they please, as if they were accountable to no one. - Fr Bruce Duncan CSsR, Yarra Theological College
9 May 2002

Assassinated Dutch politician to lie in cathedral
The body of murdered Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn is to lie in Rotterdam Cathedral today, ahead of his funeral tomorrow, the Dutch Catholic Church has said.
9 May 2002

Pell foreshadows ordination of married men
Sydney's Arhcbishop George Pell has said in a newspaper interview that it's possible the fall in numbers entering the priesthood would prompt the Church to allow the ordination of married men.
9 May 2002

Cardinal accuses UN of hypocrisy on children's rights
The president of the Vatican's Council for the Family this week accused the United Nations of a "selective, superficial or distorted recognition and understanding of human dignity" in its refusal to recognise the rights of children before birth.
9 May 2002

Catholic schools facing crisis of popularity
Sydney's Catholic Education Office is facing increasing numbers of non-Catholics in its schools, with more than 21% in Catholic secondary schools.
9 May 2002

Insurance shock for nursing homes
Catholic Health Australia, which has 17,000 of the country's 144,000 nursing home beds, has warned that it is facing a bill of up to $13 million just to insure against medical mishaps and public liability insurance this year.
9 May 2002

Catholic Welfare challenges Govt on disability funding
The Australian Catholic Bishops' Committee for Social Welfare yesterday called on the Commonwealth Government to maintain funding for disability services in the coming Federal Budget.
9 May 2002

Feature - Church problems are invading American TV pilots
Prospective US ABC TV drama The Calling has a pious plot about a seminarian engaged in a personal search for God, but a twist likely to trouble the bishops. Meanwhile over at another network, Sylvester Stallone has developed a pilot called Father Lefty, about a handsome, unconventional Miami priest who ministers to street kids. Father Lefty is likely to address pedophilia if the show goes ahead. "We can't just ignore it," said executive producer Cynthia Cidre.
8 May 2002

Opinion - Church siege demonstrates that law of Sanctuary lives on
Do churches really provide sanctuary? This is a question many observers might ask in the wake of the protracted siege at the Church of the Holy Nativity, in Bethlehem. Storming the church is not a viable option. How this military operation will end may be uncertain; what is clear is the international flak that would fly were the church to be damaged.
8 May 2002

Ambon bishop warns martial law will make Christians flee
Bishop Petrus Canisius Mandagi has expressed fears the Christians in the Moluccas will be forced to flee from their land if martial law is imposed.
8 May 2002

Pope condemns attack on Colombian church
Pope John Paul II has condemned an "execrable attack" by guerrillas in northwestern Colombia which killed 108 refugees at a Catholic church.
8 May 2002

Cardinal Thuân announces Social Catechism
The Church will publish a compendium of its social doctrine within a year, according to Cardinal François Xavier Nguyên Van Thuân, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.
8 May 2002

Pope says priests are not business managers
Pope John Paul II on Tuesday expressed his conviction about the "deep complementarity" between the roles of priests and laity, stressing that they are not equal.
8 May 2002

Lawyers seek injunction to prevent Cardinal leaving the US
Lawyers for alleged victims of sex abuse in civil cases involving Catholic priests were planning to file an emergency motion late on Tuesday to keep Cardinal Bernard Law in the state of Massachusetts, a spokesman for the attorneys said.
8 May 2002

Vinnies tells how domestic violence affects its clients
A new report from the St Vincent de Paul Society (NSW/ACT) has highlighted the widespead impact domestic violence has on people it visits.
8 May 2002

Feature - Confirmation: the misunderstood sacrament
The girls wobble unsteadily on new heels; the boys in their suits look awkward as colts. The teenagers' interests lean toward the gifts after Confirmation, especially those intriguing white envelopes that might contain cash. So what's a parent to do? We're torn between wanting our children to appreciate the full richness of the sacrament and knowing that it may take years for the meaning to unfold.
7 May 2002

Opinion - Let symbols speak for themselves
I was at Mass with Rebekah, three years old. She had not learnt a lot about the sacraments or about the Eucharist in particular. But I believe she perceived the meaning of several of the key symbols. It pays to remember that many symbols can be perceived by children. We don't need to talk about symbols at all. We need to let symbols speak for themselves, and we need to renew our attentiveness to the symbols of our liturgies.
7 May 2002

Catholics plan two more Russian dioceses
Catholic officials in Russia say the Vatican is preparing to set up two more dioceses in the country, despite objections by the Orthodox Church over the establishment of four dioceses there in February.
7 May 2002

Catholic intellectual movement re-formed after three decades
At the instigation of two university graduates, a historic movement for Catholic intellectuals and professionals has been revived with broad support from Catholic groups and individuals engaging in social change.
7 May 2002

Pope to get 28 new Swiss Guards
The Swiss Guard is to swear in 28 new members today at the Vatican, in a ceremony which will also commemorate the corps' centuries-old task as protectors of the head of the Roman Catholic church.
7 May 2002

Statistics reveal baptised Catholics number passes one billion
The number of baptised Catholics increased worldwide by 38% in the 22 years to 2000, to just over one billion, or 17.3% of mankind, according to statistics released ahead of the publication of the Statistical Yearbook of the Church.
7 May 2002

Boston Archdiocese suspends abuse settlement to raise funds to pay
Faced with hundreds of potential litigants, Boston's Roman Catholic archdiocese is contemplating mortgaging or even selling its headquarters to pay the rising toll of its priest abuse scandal.
7 May 2002

Clashes overshadow talks to end Nativity Church siege
The killing by the Israeli military of four Palestinians and the arrest of a further 12 has stalled the finalisation of a deal to end the five-week stand-off at Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity, where more than 100 Palestinians are surrounded by Israeli soldiers.
7 May 2002

Feature - Outspoken Fides director leaves Vatican post
The Vatican has just lost a flame-thrower, with the departure of Fr Bernardo Cervellera, as director of Fides, the Vatican's missionary news service. His departure was supposed to be quiet and was not even announced by the Vatican press office, but Fr Cervellera sent an e-mail defending his tenure, which saw the Fides news service transformed from a dull bulletin of missionary news features to a cutting-edge report on some of the church's most difficult situations around the world.
6 May 2002

Opinion - Can Catholics still call Australian Labor home?
Is it still possible for Catholics to remain in or vote for the ALP? As many will recall, the 1984 national conference of the ALP wrote the policy of abortion on demand into the party's policy platform. The same conference, at the initiative of former federal secretary Bob McMullan, gave members a conscience vote on the issue, although the tone of debate was to the effect that if the party wanted a pro-abortion policy, a conscience vote was the way to get it. - Gavan Duffy, author Demons & Democrats - 1950s Labor at the Crossroads.
6 May 2002

Pell says Sydney more religious than Melbourne
Sydney people are more religious but Melburnians are more sports mad, according to Sydney's Archbishop George Pell.
6 May 2002

Pope spends Sunday on spa island
After weeks of stress from health problems and sex abuse scandals stinging the Roman Catholic Church, Pope John Paul II took a break from the Vatican and traveled to a spa island Sunday in the first of several trips that will test his stamina in the coming months.
6 May 2002

Rome Diocese opens process to canonise priest-politician
Cardinal Camillo Ruini, papal vicar of Rome, May 3 formally opened the diocesan phase of the process to canonise Father Luigi Sturzo, founder of the Italian Popular Party.
6 May 2002

Top US nun says Church should respond cautiously to sex abuse scandal
The Catholic Church should respond cautiously to the sex abuse cases involving US priests because the scandal is too complex for swift, sweeping decisions, a senior American nun said Saturday.
5 May 2002

ACU urges employers to follow its example on paid maternity leave
The Australian Catholic University has called on employers to follow its lead in granting workers 12 months' paid maternity leave.
6 May 2002

Pope names new bishop for Melbourne
Pope John Paul II on Friday night named Melbourne priest Fr Mark Coleridge as the Archdiocese's new auxiliary bishop.
6 May 2002

Feature - Long road ahead for clergy support priest
When Fr Peter Brock took on the job of supporting the ministry of all clergy across Australia, he knew he would have to hit the road running. This month, the newly appointed executive officer of the National Commission for Clergy Life and Ministry set out from his office in Canberra and drove about 13,500km. He believes most priests "do look after themselves", but they face a real lifestyle challenge as they get "fewer and older and ever busier".
3 May 2002

Opinion - There's more to life than just making a living
Making a living so we can buy things and care for our children is necessary, but not the ultimate goal. Young people have a difficult time accepting a lifestyle based solely on individualism or the idea that we can best serve society and the economy by pursuing our own individual gain, wants and pleasure. Enlightened self-interest does not cut it. It is not based on the new Adam (Christ Jesus) and Catholic social teaching but on the Old Adam, and we know what happened to him.
3 May 2002

Nuncio tells UN both sides 'inconsistent at best' on life issues
Archbishop Renato R. Martino, Vatican nuncio to the United Nations, told a pro-life audience on Tuesday that both liberals and conservatives deal with right-to-life issues "at best inconsistently".
3 May 2002

Chocolate lovers urged to join boycott
Brisbane Archdiocese's Catholic Justice and Peace Commission (CJPC) is calling on Catholics to join a chocolate boycott for Mother's Day.
3 May 2002

Violence flares at Church of Nativity standoff
Israeli troops yesterday opened fire on three armed Palestinians emerging from the besieged Church of the Nativity, killing one, sending two staggering back into the shrine and drawing Palestinian fire, the army said.
3 May 2002

Hong Kong church reveals child abuse cases
Three Catholic priests in Hong Kong were found guilty in internal Church hearings of sexually abusing children in their care, but none of the cases was handed to the police, the South China Morning Post reported yesterday.
3 May 2002

Sydney bishop calls for church-wide study on clerical sex abuse
Pope John Paul II should commission a churchwide study of clerical sex abuse to help prevent such acts and their cover-up in the future, Sydney Auxiliary Bishop Geoffrey Robinson has said.
3 May 2002

Pope stresses individual confession in new sacramental norms
In a new teaching document on the Sacrament of Reconciliation, Pope John Paul II emphasises that confession of sins, and absolution, must be done on an individual basis.
3 May 2002

Feature - Lourdes pilgrims: all they want is a miracle
The pilgrimage season in Lourdes is in full swing, and a bearded man nicknamed "Docteur Miracle" speaks of the experience of an Australian Protestant woman. "When we arrived home we I discovered I was pregnant," wrote Sandra Charles. "My family joked it must have been the wine. My doctors said it was medically impossible."
2 May 2002

Opinion - 'Open season' on human embryos
IVF should, above all else, change its acronym to BB - "Big Business". The IVF industry takes more than $60 million from the public purse each year, via Medicare and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, in relation to IVF treatments. That figure is set to double. IVF does not, per se, treat any underlying condition of infertility. Moreover, it has a "success" rate of somewhere between only 11 to 15 per cent. - Dr Warwick Neville, Research Fellow with the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference
2 May 2002

Touring Pope must find room at the inn
For the first time in more than 20 years of globetrotting, the Holy Father will be forced to stay in a hotel later this month, during his visit to Azerbaijan.
2 May 2002

Philippines terrorists attack St Joseph the Worker celebration
Three people were killed and almost 100 injured when suspected Muslim militants threw grenades into a celebration of the feast of St Joseph the Worker yesterday in the southern Philippines.
2 May 2002

Joan of Arc adopted as patron saint of Le Pen's radical National Front
St Joan of Arc has been taken up as a symbol by France's far-right, with Presidential candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen pausing during his traditional May Day march yesterday to lay a bouquet at the base of a gilded statue of the French heroine.
2 May 2002

American nuns meet with Vatican
A delegation of top US nuns is meeting with Vatican officials in regularly scheduled talks this week that were expected to touch on the sex abuse scandal.
2 May 2002

Chicago Catholics taunt Archbishop with collection boycott
A group of Chicago Catholics is encouraging parishioners to boycott the parish collection plate until they've seen Francis Cardinal George get tough with sexual abusers in the priesthood and open up archdiocesan files for a full accounting of four decades of clergy abuse.
2 May 2002

Adelaide Archbishop's chilling warning on pedophiles
In an account of the modus operandi of pedophiles, Archbishop Philip Wilson has told Adelaide Catholic school principals that paedophiles will take advantage of any confusion in communities and "do anything" to fulfil their goal of having a sexual relationship with a child.
2 May 2002