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NEWS ARCHIVE FOR DECEMBER 2002

   
Feature - Pope's Message for World Day of Peace
The Pope's Message for the 36th World Day of Peace which is celebrated tomorrow draws heavily on the thinking of Pope John XXIII and his epic encyclical letter, "Pacem in Terris", published nearly forty years ago. The Pope begins his message this year by quoting the opening of Pope John XXIII's encyclical: "Peace on earth, which all men of every era have most eagerly yearned for, can be firmly established and sustained only if the order laid down by God be dutifully observed." He then spends much of his own message demonstrating how prescient the thinking of his predecessor was. While much has been achieved, it hardly takes the present tensions in the world to tell us that much more remains to be done. The present Pope is unstinting in his acknowledgement of his predecessor who, like himself, played an important part in shaping the sort of world we live in today. This is another "must read" document whether you are a fan of PJPII or of PJXXIII.
31 Dec 2002

Opinion - Moral clarity in a time of war by George Weigel
This article by George Weigel in the current edition of First Things is a gem. It is one of those rare articles that all people, whatever their base political persuasion, ought to be conversant with if they deign to open their mouths about the great debate of the moment: is war against Iraq justified? Weigel doesn't actually answer that question, and he can't, because the parameters are fast changing day by day and even hour by hour. The value of this article though, like earlier articles Weigel has written on the moral imperatives involved in war, is that it provides us with the raw tools to be able ourselves to think through the moral issues that are involved in a fast-changing scenario such as the one we are in at the moment. It is clear that the so-called War Against Terrorism, which we were waging throughout most of 2002, had broad support from the international community and was justifiable on moral grounds as well as the pragmatic and the emotional. Testimony to this is the broad international consensus that was fairly quickly built in the wake of September 11 to combat terrorism. We are in more difficult territory now -- and this is reflected in the splintering of the international consensus -- that it is also morally legitimate to use the War Against Terrorism to wage war against a maverick State whose leader most people in the world find to be more than simply an irritant. This article is some of Weigel at his intellectual best. You won't read here the sort of Pavlov's dog conservative reactionary trying to dig around for the evidence to justify his gut instincts. In this article one finds a mind arguing with namby-pamby Bishops as much as with the falling out of the tree liberals, the pragmatic nerds and the head up their backsides reactionaries. What grips Weigel's attention, and what he seeks to bring to all of our attention, is the answer to the questions: What IS the truth in this complex equation? How do we reason through what is the most moral course of action to take in something that is inherently complex?
31 Dec 2002

Possible breakthrough in relations with Russian Orthodox Church
Zenit News Agency reports that the Moscow Patriarch wants to renew links with Rome from indications given in his Christmas message to Pope John Paul. The Times of London in a separate report says "Russia's most senior Roman Catholic priest has hailed a Christmas greeting to the Pope from Patriarch Alexiy II as a breakthrough in relations between the two Churches."
31 Dec 2002

Discord as Bush preaches tolerance
The BBC's Washington correspondent, Rob Watson, is reporting that President Bush is finding himself at odds with some of his key supporters over his efforts to reach out to Muslims in the United States and around the world.
31 Dec 2002

Ireland To Lift Ban on Religious Advertising
The Irish government is preparing to lift a decades-old ban on TV and radio religious advertising, according to Communications Minister Dermot Ahern.
31 Dec 2002

Arroyo's quit decision "directed by God"
Phillipines President, Gloria Arroyo, has decided to quit politics and the leadership of her nation claiming that it is God who has directed her to make the choice.
31 Dec 2002

Will you rise at 4.00am tomorrow morning to pray for peace?
Members of Pax Christi at Fremont in California are rising at 4.00am tomorrow morning to pray for peace. According to a report in the Fremont Argus they say, "With threat of war looming and international unrest in other parts of the world, there is much to pray about this year." The 4.00am rise time actually occurs to coincide with 12 noon GMT. Perhaps we might all set aside some time on New Year's Day to pray for peace. As our own small gesture towards the international solidarity that is needed for this International Day of Peace, CathNews invites you to visit our discussion board, www.cathnews.com/discuss, at some point during the day and leave your own prayer for peace or expression of solidarity with all those others who will have peace on their minds tomorrow.
31 Dec 2002

"The response to terrorism and violence is never more violence" ... Archbishop Martino
Disarmament is necessary to eradicate world hunger and to create conditions for peace, says the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Archbishop Renato Martino. He expressed this conviction when presenting the papal message for the World Day of Peace celebrated tomorrow, New Years Day. The message is entitled "'Pacem in Terris': A Permanent Task," in memory of Pope John XXIII's 1963 encyclical. [See Feature Story below]
31 Dec 2002

Feature - Interview with an actor playing Christ -- Jim Caviezel
In a feature article in The Globe and Mail Gayle MacDonald talks to Jim Caviezel, the actor with the soul of a saint who has been trussed, practically naked, to a cross in an Italian field for 15 days. Blame it on Mel Gibson, who is responsible for the strangest Hollywood project to come along in years: A movie about the last 12 hours of Jesus's life, being filmed almost entirely in dead languages.
30 Dec 2002

Opinion - Jewish Writer calls for reconciliation with Catholics: "Catholicism is our friend"
The Jerusalem Post carries an article by Yossi Klein Halevi, Israel correspondent for The New Republic, calling on Jews to recognise Catholicism as a friend. He writes "Generations of persecution have conditioned Jews to see the Vatican as an enemy. It is time for Jews to recognize how much the Church has changed and to take yes for an answer."
30 Dec 2002

Vatican to release Nazi files on 15 February
The Vatican is to open up its archives documenting relations with Nazi Germany, potentially lifting the lid on a controversial and secretive era in the Church's history.
30 Dec 2002

Taizé Paris meeting draws 80,000 -- wide ecumenical support
An international youth gathering sponsored by the Taize community which opened yesterday in Paris, has received supportive messages from Pope John Paul II, the Orthodox patriarchs of Constantinople and Moscow, and the secretary general of the United Nations.
30 Dec 2002

Confusing messages in Church attendance reports
There have been a number of conflicting news reports in the last few days about what is happening to Church attendances. A survey by the Gallup Organization reported in Catholic World News shows that Church attendance by US Catholics has dropped during the past year. CWN reports "For the first time in the decades-long history of the Gallup survey, Protestants now attend weekly church services at a higher rate than Catholics, 47 percent to 41 percent." Meanwhile here in Australia the Sydney Morning Herald carried an upbeat report saying that Church attendances were up on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day while a number of Murdoch newspapers carried a story on Sunday saying: "The mainstream churches face an uncertain future as Australians turn away from religion in droves. Religious scholars have warned that Christian churches have become so out of touch with modern life that their end could come within two decades."
30 Dec 2002

Religious leaders denounce human cloning
The Washington Times carries an Associated Press report that the Vatican joined leading Muslim clerics and Jewish rabbis yesterday in denouncing as immoral, "brutal" and unnatural the claim that a cloned baby had been born. Our web site also carries links to other news reports showing widespread outrage from around the world.
30 Dec 2002

Top ten religion news stories of 2002
The Religion Newswriters Association has published a top ten news stories for the past year. The poll was taken amongst members of the Association. For the third time in two decades revelations of clergy sexual abuse have topped the poll -- in fact, four of the top five stories were dealing with this issue.
30 Dec 2002

How people pray today
National Public Radio in America has been broadcasting a series of programs in the past week looking at the nature of prayer -- how people pray and how often. The series was also broadcast across Australia on the ABC's NewRadio network. Well worth listening to. You can still tune in and hear the programs on the web.
30 Dec 2002

Continuing media scrutiny on the abuse scandals
There has been no let up in news stories over the Christmas period on the abuse scandals. Our detailed report provides a summary of developments.
27 Dec 2002

Writer calls on Zimbabwe Bishops to "unite against evil"
In a hard hitting column in the Zimbabwe Independent, freelance writer religious affairs writer, Paul Jones, has called on the country's Bishops to speak out about what is going on in Zimbabwe.
27 Dec 2002

Should he be Saint Mychal?
The Washington Times carried a Christmas Day report on the efforts of some people to have Fr Mychal Judge proclaimed a saint. Burt Kearns, has set up a Web site urging Father Judge's canonization.
27 Dec 2002

Seven injured at Midnight Mass bombing in India, three killed in another attack in Pakistan
AFP reports "Seven people were injured when men disguised as worshippers threw bombs at a midnight Christmas service in eastern India after robbing the priest, police said." The Statesman of India reported "Police suspect that the attack was pre-planned and carried out by local villagers because they were against conversions and also wanted to disrupt the Christmas party." In neighbouring Pakistan three people were killed and four critically injured when two people wearing burqas attacked a Christian service being conducted on Christmas Day.
27 Dec 2002

Church leaders around the world use Christmas to urge caution on war
Many media reports around the world in the last 24 hours are showing that the Church leaders of the world in their Christmas messages have been urging caution about using war against Iraq as a way to solve the terrorism threat. Our detailed news report seeks to provide the flavour of the coverage.
27 Dec 2002

Latin Patriach directs his Bethlehem homily to Israelis
Jerusalem's Latin Patriarch issued a strong appeal in a Christmas Midnight Mass on Wednesday for an end to strife and freedom for Palestinians from Israeli occupation.
27 Dec 2002

Feature - Urbi et Orbi -- Pope's message focuses on peace
Twice each year, at Easter and Christmas, the Pope delivers his Urbi et Orbi message "to the city and to the world". At mid-day in Rome on Christmas Day this year his message sought to direct the world's attention to the meaning of Christ coming amongst us as a call for peace in the world -- and in particular the conflicts at the focus of world attention in the Holy Land, the Middle East and Africa. The three central paragraphs of the Pope's message focus on "Christmas as the mystery of joy!", "Christmas as the mystery of love!" and "Christmas as the mystery of peace!". He ends his address with an appeal to the Virgin Mary to "help us to be credible witnesses of [Jesus'] message of peace and love, so that the men and women of our own time, still torn by conflicts and unspeakable violence, may also recognize in the Child cradled in your arms the one Saviour of the world -- the endless source of that true peace for which every heart profoundly yearns."
27 Dec 2002

Opinion - Why celebrate the kitsch when it's all about the profane?
Philosopher Giles Fraser argues that "the Christmas story is supposed to be offensive" but it has been rendered down into kitsch. He writes: "it's this ... kitsch Jesus of sentimental benevolence that features in countless Christmas cards and community carol services. The baby in the manger now presides over a celebration of feel-good bonhomie that makes the true meaning of Christmas almost impossible to articulate. The problem isn't that Christmas has become too materialistic -- but rather that it isn't materialistic enough. Kitsch Christmas is another way of uncoupling the divine from the material, thus spiritualising God into incapacity. Christmas has become a cultural danger to us all, not just a danger to orthodox Christianity."
27 Dec 2002

Feature - Coming to the Crib with New Vision
Last Saturday's Age newspaper contained a reflection on the meaning of Christmas by Michael B. Kelly who is also one of the regular contributors to the Discussion Forum operating behind CathNews. His reflection has raised a very positive response in the discussion forum and readers of the News service might like to be aware of it too. The thrust of Kelly's article is to break open the richness of the meaning to be found in the Nativity story -- a story that speaks powerfully in one way to the heart of a child and, in a completely different way, to the wisened and toughened heart of the child's grandparent.
24 Dec 2002

Opinion - Is the Pope a Catholic?
Gerald Warner, columnist for Scotland on Sunday, puts forward some thought-provoking views on the state of the Christian Churches this Christmas. He writes: "Some despairing Anglicans find themselves looking enviously towards imperious Rome, seat of uncompromising authority and doctrine. They should take off their rose-tinted spectacles and confront a reality in many ways more devastating than their own experience: Rome is in meltdown ... and part of the problem is that in some respects John Paul II is scandalously liberal" and "The long-suffering faithful have learnt to dread pronouncements by their own hierarchies more than attacks on their beliefs by militant atheists." Good for those who want their hackles raised this Christmas, good for those who hate journalists, good for those who believe everyone is against the Church, and also good for those who believe the Church ought to pull its socks up. Something for everyone in this provocative piece.
24 Dec 2002

Having to have a ticket to attend Christmas Mass
WOKR13.tv in carries a story today that churches within the Rochester Roman Catholic diocese have had to introduce a ticketing system to handle the crowds of people wanting to attend the Christmas liturgies.
24 Dec 2002

Ballarat students' year as a house mother at Wandalgu
Erin Gordon is a 19-year-old former Loreto College student in Ballarat who has just returned from an insightful year as a house mother at a remote Catholic-run Aboriginal boarding house in Western Australia. The Ballarat Courier reports on her experience and changed outlook on life.
24 Dec 2002

Catholic Church undertakes acts of contrition
The Christian Science Monitor reports: "From Boston to California, Roman Catholic leaders are carrying out high-profile acts of public contrition aimed at rebuilding the moral authority of their scandal-plagued church."
24 Dec 2002

Pope on authentic Christmas message: "accept the will of God, regardless of how it is manifested"
Pope John Paul's devoted his Angelas address on Sunday to urging Christians to find the authentic meaning of Christmas. He urged, "first of all, [spend time in] inner silence and prayer, which allow one to contemplate the mystery that is commemorated. In the second place, [find] the willingness to accept the will of God, regardless of how it is manifested."
24 Dec 2002

Mother Teresa Beatification: "Holiness is not the luxury of the few, it is a simple duty for each one of us."
The Missionaries of Charity are understandably overjoyed at the announcement that the Beatifcation of Mother Teresa will take place on Sunday, October 19, 2003 in Rome. Sr Nirmalla, Superior General of the Missionaries of Charity and Fr Brian Kolodiejchuk have released a statement in response to Pope John Paul's announcement.
24 Dec 2002

90 y.o. Norbertine "most successful beggar in the world"
Fr Werenfried van Straaten O.Praem, the founder of the international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, has been honoured in Germany by being given the freedom of the town of Königstein where the charity is headquartered. In the award ceremony, the mayor of Königstein, Siegfried Fricke, described Fr Straaten as the "most successful beggar in the world" having raised over 3 billion Euros in his lifetime for charitable works around the world.
24 Dec 2002

Feature - In China, Christmas is coming to town
Courtyards built during ancient dynasties are decked with boughs of plastic holly. A commercialised version of Christ's birthday is thriving in urban China, in form if not in faith. Xiao Bai, a young noodle-shop employee on Beijing's premier shopping street was dispatched this week to dress in red, don a white beard and distribute party favours to passers-by with a hearty "Ho! Ho! Ho!"
23 Dec 2002

Opinion - Every Christmas present a 'gift of the heart'
My heart, my loving heart, is like a carefully locked Christmas present. Every present is like a sacramental, a making visible of an invisible good that goes further than our calculations, has no boundaries and recognises no frontiers. - Hugo Rahner SJ
23 Dec 2002

New York fire chaplain's ferry lives up to its name
An East River commuter ferry named after the Fr Mychal Judge, the beloved chaplain who died in the World Trade Centre attacks, helped put out a car fire on Thursday.
23 Dec 2002

Cardinal Arinze criticises priests who meddle with the Mass
Cardinal Francis Arinze, the new prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, has said that if priests make their own changes in the ritual, "there were will as many kinds of Masses are there are priests".
23 Dec 2002

BBC Virgin Mary documentary sparks outrage in UK
A television documentary screened last night that questions Mary's virginity has been criticised by a Catholic bishop for its "crude and offensive" guesswork.
23 Dec 2002

Inquiry finds Church covered up IRA bomb priest
Both the Catholic Church and the British Government knew of a priest's role in the murder of nine people by Irish terrorists in 1972, according to a British police inquiry.
23 Dec 2002

Abuse victims claim silence clauses remain
Victims of church sex abuse are still fighting to have silencing clauses removed from their compensation agreements in spite of Church assurances earlier this year that victims were free to talk publicly about their experiences.
23 Dec 2002

Pope laments terrorism in end of year message
Pope John Paul II lamented the continuing threat of terrorism and the toll of the world's "forgotten" wars in an end-of-the-year message to Vatican officials on Saturday.
23 Dec 2002

Feature - Practical tips for the festive season
Office Christmas parties, Christmas shopping ... While our surrounding culture has all but forgotten Christmas, how can Christians keep the spirit of this sacred season alive? After a time of spiritual preparation during Advent, the season of Christmas begins with the Christmas Vigil Mass and continues through to the Epiphany. - Teresa Pirola, The Story Source
20 Dec 2002

Opinion - Living in denial
The silent majority of the faithful are sick and tired of the rule of celibacy that lurks behind these dramatic failures and is proving such a destructive force in the life of the church. My experience training for the priesthood at Oscott College during the 1980s gave me first-hand experience of the unhealthy development of human sexuality among its clergy. - Paul Crawford
20 Dec 2002

Indian Archbishop defends opposition to religious conversions
Conversion is not the work of the Church, but rather of the Holy Spirit, said Archbishop Stanislaus Fernandes, in an attempt to defend people's right to change their religion.
20 Dec 2002

Catholics close gap in Northern Ireland census
Northern Irish census figures, among the most politically charged statistics in the divided province, showed yesterday that the minority Catholic population is closing the gap on Protestants.
20 Dec 2002

Indonesian Christian Leaders offers hope to hurting nation
In their annual Christmas message, Indonesia's Catholic and Protestant leaders have urged Christians this year to heal the "nation's wounds" and not lose hope amid the escalating violence evident in the world.
20 Dec 2002

Two appointments to key spots in Vatican Curia
Pope John Paul II has filled two important positions in the Roman Curia, naming Salesian theologian Fr Angelo Amato as secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and Irish Legionaire of Christ Fr Brian Farrell as secretary of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity.
20 Dec 2002

Pope to move Mother Teresa closer to sainthood
Today Pope John Paul is set to approve a miracle attributed to Mother Teresa, bringing the nun who spent her life helping the poorest of the poor a step closer to sainthood.
20 Dec 2002

Holy Land Patriarch condemns Israel ban on Arafat Mass attendance
In his Christmas message, Patriarch Michel Sabbah has condemned both the Israeli government's ban on Yasser Arafat's attending Midnight Mass, as well as the military occupation of Bethlehem.
20 Dec 2002

Feature - The kid who became bishop and hero calls it a day
The recent resignation of Bishop Carlos Ximenes Belo as head of the Catholic Church in East Timor has brought to a close a courageous and painful period in the life of the Nobel laureate. And, in the current volatile climate, it has also heightened the feeling of political insecurity in the newly independent nation.
19 Dec 2002

Opinion - Bali tragedy adds meaning to Christmas
It is a special time for children and families. The importance of reaching out to them with love and protection makes even more sense after Bali. Our Christmas pledge to them has to be the commitment to defend and protect them. - Archbishop Philip Wilson
19 Dec 2002

Nuns say Bethlehem is dying, due to apathy of Christian world
As the Israeli military occupation continues in Bethlehem, the nuns who run the city's Caritas Baby Hospital have launched an appeal to the world.
19 Dec 2002

Pope urges spiritual preparation for Christmas
At his regular weekly public audience yesterday, Pope John Paul II asked the faithful to intensify their spiritual preparations for Christmas during the final week of Advent.
19 Dec 2002

Zambian bishops to develop farm after evicting squatters from land
Zambian church officials said the bishops' conference plans to begin developing a 324 hectacre farm now that squatters have been evicted.
19 Dec 2002

Peruvian cardinal defends opposition to sterilisation campaigns
Denying accusations from Peruvian novelist Mario Vargas Llosa, Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani said that he was a tenacious critic of the mass sterilisation campaigns carried out during the Fujimori regime.
19 Dec 2002

Delay in release of Vatican war documents
The Vatican will be unable to meet its promised New Year's Day target for the release of documents on the Holy See's relations with Germany in the years leading up to Second World War, saying it is overwhelmed by the huge mass of material.
19 Dec 2002

Lobby group shames Ruddock on zone excision tactics
The Catholic group PolMin has criticised the Government's strategy to excise small parcels of Australia's territory from the country's migration zone in order to prevent particular boats containing asylum seekers from entering Australia to claim asylum.
19 Dec 2002

Feature - Reclaiming lost lives of child migrants
31 children travelled unaccompanied from the United Kingdom in 1952 to live at the Murray Dwyer Orphanage in Newcastle as part of the Child Migration Scheme. One of the many tragedies of this story is the fact that the children involved in the Child Migration Scheme often had parents, but were told - or surmised - that they were orphans.
18 Dec 2002

Opinion - War and rumour of war
The United States is not the most comfortable country in which to live at the moment. There are constant murmurings of "war". Many people, having internalised the 'truth' that the United States stands unchallenged as guardian of the rest of the world, don't find the doctrine of first or pre-emptive strike promulgated by President Bush's administration in any way questionable. - Australian Fr Kevin Dance CP, representative of the Passionist Family at the United Nations
18 Dec 2002

Pope says volunteers express God's affection for world
Pope John Paul II has said the task of Christian volunteers is to make people experience their selfless dedication as an expression of "the tenderness of the heavenly Father".
18 Dec 2002

Vatican official says GM food "no big deal"
The Vatican says GM foods should be used to feed the world's hungry, suggesting the controversy over altered foods is more political than scientific.
18 Dec 2002

Australian Catholics older but not wiser
Australian Catholics are older, less educated and vastly more dissatisfied with their church than their American brethren, an international survey has found.
18 Dec 2002

Workplace Relations Act 'failing the Just Remuneration principle'
Catholic lobbyist PolMin has suggested a poll finding that Australians work an alarming amount of unpaid overtime demonstrates that the Workplace Relations Act 1996 is "failing the long established Just Remuneration principle".
18 Dec 2002

British Cardinal contests fresh abuse claims
Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, leader of the Roman Catholic church in England and Wales, has defended himself against new allegations of mishandling the treatment of a priest accused of child abuse in his former diocese.
18 Dec 2002

Pope tells politicians they're accountable for peace
Pope John Paul on Tuesday called on world leaders to defuse the explosive situation in the Middle East, saying they would be held accountable for their actions.
18 Dec 2002

Central African priest killed by rebels
Rebels linked to an October coup attempt were blamed for murdering a priest in cold blood last week in the Central African Republic.
17 Dec 2002

Feature - Creating spaces of light and beauty
After the Second Vatican Council, Architect Richard Falkinger, who had migrated to Australia, was asked to head the reordering of Melbourne's St Patrick's Cathedral. It was this exciting and challenging commission that drew him back into the Church.
17 Dec 2002

Opinion - Taking the Jesus story back to basics
The Catholic League of America earlier this year was up in arms about an exhibition that included a traditional Catalan figurine squatting in the corner of the Christmas crib, trousers around his ankles. What it didn't appreciate, however, is that the Christmas story is supposed to be offensive: that God became human, that the sacred was no longer to be protected from the profane.
17 Dec 2002

Pope keen to beatify Mother Teresa in Calcutta
Pope John Paul II will sign the decree for the beatification of Mother Teresa of Calcutta on Friday, but is unlikely to then announce whether the ceremony will take place in Calcutta or Rome.
17 Dec 2002

India's Christians fearful after Hindu Nationalists sweep election
Christians and Muslims in the Indian state of Gujarat are expecting tough times ahead after a right-wing Hindu party recorded a landslide victory in the western Indian state.
17 Dec 2002

Newcastle parish challenges bishop on celibate priesthood
A parish council in the NSW diocese of Maitland-Newcastle has written to the local bishop regretting that the community's access to the Eucharist "is being denied by the hierarchy's outdated insistence on maintaining a celibate priesthood".
17 Dec 2002

Vatican approves new child sex rules for US
The Vatican gave its formal approval on Monday to a revised plan by US bishops on how to punish priests caught up in a vast clergy sexual abuse scandal.
17 Dec 2002

Commission highlights figures on asylum seekers 'living peacefully' in community
New statistics obtained from the Department of Immigration show that Asylum seekers have been peacefully living in the community for years, according Melbourne's Catholic Commission for Justice Development and Peace.
17 Dec 2002

Feature - New priest one of a rare breed
Corran Pike reckons he's a regular Aussie bloke. He was born here, he's under 30 and he enjoys mucking about with his mates. What makes him unusual is that he's just become a Catholic priest, an increasingly rare vocation in modern Australia.
16 Dec 2002

Opinion - It's time to get our sexuality right
Truth is that most Catholics I know continue to struggle with their sexuality. We've been off balance for so long that even when we're balanced we don't trust ourselves. Attitudes toward our bodies cause many of us unbearable pain. Our negative attitudes lead us to think we are unlike others and incapable of truly being loved. - Thomas C. Fox
16 Dec 2002

Parish suggests alternatives to violent toys at Christmas
A church committee in Portland in the US has put forward a list of nonviolent toys, in the hope of changing young people's level of tolerance for violence.
16 Dec 2002

Catholic Film Office honours five films
The Australian Catholic Film Office has given its Film of the Year award to a group of films focusing on Indigenous Australians.
16 Dec 2002

Recent Dili rioting condemned as political
Rioting in East Timor's capital was guided by unseen people with political motives, according to Fr Antonio da Costa, vicar general of Dili diocese.
16 Dec 2002

Catholic lobbyists blame flawed law for absconding asylum seekers
Asylum seekers are absconding because of fundamental flaws in the Migration Act 1958, the national independent Catholic lobbyist, Australian Political Ministry Network (PolMin), said at the weekend.
16 Dec 2002

Israeli president foreshadows pre-Christmas withdrawal from Bethlehem
Israeli President Moshe Katsav said in an historic meeting with Pope John Paul II last week that Israel intends to withdraw its troops from Bethlehem before Christmas, Vatican and Israeli officials said.
16 Dec 2002

Cardinal Law resigns amid mounting pressure
Pope John Paul II on Friday accepted the brief resignation letter of Boston's Archbishop, Cardinal Bernard Law, ending months of speculation and capping a groundswell of demands for Law's removal from a wide cross-section of priests and laity in Boston.
16 Dec 2002

Feature - Award recognises street priest's work for kids
Fr Chris Riley has just been named NSW Australian of the Year, in recognition of his tireless work for Youth Off The Streets, a charity he founded 10 years ago. During that time, Fr Chris has helped hundreds of kids who have been abused or disadvantaged.
13 Dec 2002

Opinion - How do we find the words to talk powerfully about our faith?
We face more than just the age-old problem of boring preachers. It is the challenge of rediscovering words about our faith that are powerful and transforming, words that change people's hearts and minds, just as the Eucharist transforms the bread and wine. - Timothy Radcliffe OP
13 Dec 2002

Irish archbishop wins raffle, trip to Canary Islands
An Irish archbishop plans to enjoy some winter sun after winning first prize in a local sports club raffle.
13 Dec 2002

Castro praises pope during meeting with US university students
Cuban President Fidel Castro described Pope John Paul II as "very courageous" for criticising the Inquisition and for stating that the theory of evolution is compatible with Catholic belief about creation.
13 Dec 2002

Catholics on Russian list of security threats
A group of government officials and religion experts has drafted a report that identifies the Catholic Church and other "foreign confessions" as potential threats to national security and urges law enforcement agencies to closely monitor their activities.
13 Dec 2002

Pope attributes today's loneliness to our God-less lives
The loneliness, fear and unhappiness afflicting people can be traced ultimately to the abandonment of God, Pope John Paul II said.
13 Dec 2002

Boston cardinal reported ready to resign
Cardinal Bernard Law will offer his resignation when he meets with Pope John Paul II today, according to an international news agency.
13 Dec 2002

Catholic body welcomes welfare simplification
Catholic Welfare Australia has welcomed the Government's release of the welfare reform publication Building a Simpler System to Help Jobless Families and Individuals, which is aimed at demystifying the Government's complex social security payment system.
13 Dec 2002

Feature - Bethlehem faces joyless Christmas
The odour of teargas lingered over the ancient cobblestones of Bethlehem's Manger Square long after an Israeli army patrol had rumbled past. For the Palestinian inhabitants of this biblical town, it was a stark reminder of the gloom that has settled over this year's Christmas preparations as Israeli forces maintain a tight grip on their lives.
12 Dec 2002

Opinion - The challenge of Christmas
The Christmas crib is an icon of peace. The hymn "Silent Night" captures its spirit. There are few silent nights, at least if we are to believe the evening news. Singing it with the same wonder felt by the first shepherds, after just having been told of Jesus' birth by the angels, is precisely what our faith asks of us. - Ron Rolheiser OMI
12 Dec 2002

Retired Quebec bishop's desire to marry reopens celibacy debate
A retired bishop from the Canadian Province of Quebec has announced that he will ask the Vatican to dispense him from the priesthood so he can marry.
12 Dec 2002

New York Catholic group alleges discrimination on nativity crib ban
The Catholic League in the United States has sued New York City, claiming discrimination against Christian students by allowing Islamic and Jewish holiday symbols to be displayed in public schools while banning nativity cribs.
12 Dec 2002

Ratzinger assistant to head influential Italian diocese
John Paul II has appointed Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone, secretary of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, as archbishop of Genoa.
12 Dec 2002

East Timor's Muslim PM touched by Bishop Belo's post-riot visit
East Timor's prime minister tearfully acknowledged Bishop Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo's presence among Muslims on their Id al-Fitr feast in an emotional speech two days after rioters burned their mosque.
12 Dec 2002

Lobbyists seek more protection for employees of collapsed companies
The Catholic lobby group PolMin has stressed the Government's responsibility to step in when workers lose their entitlements following the collapse of the company employing them.
12 Dec 2002

Catholic Welfare says working mums' victory ignores those who choose to stay at home
Catholic Welfare Australia has said yesterday's release of the paper on Paid Maternity Leave provides a good opportunity to assess the actual assistance being provided to all families in Australia.
12 Dec 2002

Feature - Famed peace activist, ex-priest Philip Berrigan dead at 79
Philip Berrigan, a former Josephite priest who was a leading figure in the Catholic anti-war movement over the past 40 years, died on Friday at the age of 79. "I die with the conviction, held since 1968 and Catonsville, that nuclear weapons are the scourge of the earth," Berrigan said in a final statement released through his family.
11 Dec 2002

Opinion - There's something about Mary ...
Every year during Advent, I'm reminded of a pilgrimage I made to Lourdes, France, when I was 19. I was much more excited about planning my future adventure to Lisieux, the hometown of my patron saint. However, as our train stopped at the platform right outside the shrine at Lourdes.
11 Dec 2002

Malta meeting advances church unity
Good progress is being made in fostering unity between the Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches, two Australian Archbishops said on Monday.
11 Dec 2002

Franciscan trainee charged with killing priest
A 37 year old man studying to become a Franciscan brother in the US was charged on Monday with shooting a Catholic priest and then lighting a fire in the presbytery to try to cover up the killing.
11 Dec 2002

Dalit openly become Christians, Buddhists to protest conversion law
Scores of low-caste people in southern India have converted to Christianity and Buddhism during a public event that organisers say was designed to protest a new law restricting religious conversion.
11 Dec 2002

Teacher and diocese sued for sex abuse
A 25-year-old man is suing his former Christian Brothers teacher and a country church diocese alleging he was sexually abused as a teenager.
11 Dec 2002

More women turn to Vinnies for help
The gap between women and men caught in the cycle of poverty continues to widen, bringing extra problems for the support services of the St Vincent de Paul Society.
11 Dec 2002

Social Justice Council urges scrutiny of ASIO Bill
The Australian Catholic Social Justice Council (ACSJC) was calling for all political parties to consider opposing the ASIO Bill if proposals ensuring the preservation of basic human rights fail.
11 Dec 2002

Feature - Farewell Sr Janet - strong leader, teacher and friend...
Yesterday, Kururrungu Aboriginal Community in the Kimberley region of Western Australia, one of the most remote regions in Australia, on the edge of the Great Sandy Desert, farewelled Mercy Sister Janet Lowe after her 20 years in the region, 10 as school Principal.
10 Dec 2002

Opinion - Never mind the celibacy, feel the broadening opposition to gay priests
The next battlefront in the Vatican's often stumbling campaign to deal with sexual abuse by clergymen is about to open and the casualties look set to include many priests who remain faithful to their vows, the recruitment drive to fill the dwindling number of new vocations, and the integrity of the Catholic Church's sexual moral teaching. - Chris McGillion
10 Dec 2002

BBC documentary to question Mary's virginity
A documentary to be screened on British television this Christmas will question the beliefs of billions of Christians by suggesting that Mary was not a virgin when she conceived Jesus.
10 Dec 2002

Pope urges journalists to avoid political correctness
The Pope addressed 80 members of the International Catholic Union of the Press on Friday, encouraging them to seek and report the truth, even when the truth is inconvenient or is not considered "politically correct".
10 Dec 2002

Australian seminary ready to comply with Vatican ban on gays
The rector of Sydney's Seminary of the Good Shepherd has said that his institution would comply with a directive from Rome denying homosexual men admission as candidates for the priesthod.
10 Dec 2002

Lobby group says migration zone excisions breach Racial Discrimination Act
Australia's policy of excising certain Islands from its migration zone to keep asylum seekers out of the country, breaches the Commonwealth's Racial Discrimination Act 1975, according to the Catholic lobby group PolMin.
10 Dec 2002

Justice Commission wants Govt to explode myths on Native Title
It's time for Australia's political leaders to take seriously reconciliation between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians, according to Melbourne's Catholic Commission For Justice Development and Peace.
10 Dec 2002

Philippines archbishop warns against Australia's 'pre-emptive strikes'
An archbishop in the Philippines has warned that the pre-emptive strikes against terrorists envisaged by Australian prime minister John Howard, would kill innocent people and could spark wars that would destabilise Asia.
10 Dec 2002

Feature - The Vatican's theological counter-revolution
In 1972, eight members of the International Theological Commission addressed a letter to Pope Paul VI. They were increasingly suspicious of the ecclesiastical revolution they themselves had helped to unleash. They included a German theologian named Joseph Ratzinger and a Chilean named Jorge Medina Estévez.
9 Dec 2002

Opinion - Time to salute everyday heroes
It would be easy to believe the media perception that the Catholic Church is full of bad news. And yet behind the scenes, there are many good Catholic men and women, priests and religious doing wonderful work. This good work is particularly evident at Christmas time.
9 Dec 2002

Papal honour for war rape heroine
Adelaide grandmother Jan Ruff-O'Herne became the first Australian to receive the second-highest honour from the Pope yesterday in a service at the city's St Francis Xavier's Cathedral.
9 Dec 2002

Vatican office rejects email communications
The Apostolic Penitentiary has written to bishops warning that it will not accept email or fax communications, saying that the "epistolary method" - an exchange of letters - is the only way such matters can be handled privately and securely.
9 Dec 2002

Pope absent as Vatican Advent retreat begins
The Vatican has failed to explain the absence of Pope John Paul II at the annual Advent retreat that began at the Vatican on Friday.
9 Dec 2002

Sex abuse protester smashes Melbourne archbishop's window
A woman smashed a window and trespassed at the residence of Archbishop Denis Hart to protest against her alleged abuse by a priest, a court was told on Friday.
9 Dec 2002

Caritas Australia helping Iraq prepare for attack
The Church's aid and development agency has donated $60,000 to Iraq for preparations against a likely attack by the United States and possibly Australia.
9 Dec 2002

Belo apologises to East Timor Muslims after rioting
Bishop Carlos Belo apologised to the country's tiny Muslim minority after a mosque was damaged in last week's unrest.
9 Dec 2002

Feature - African food crisis so severe that famine looms, aid agencies say
The food crisis in Africa is so severe that an immediate international response is needed to prevent a famine greater than mid-1980s levels, said heads of leading US humanitarian aid organisations. "If we wait until we start seeing pictures of emaciated, starving people, by then it will be too late," said Andrew Natsios, administrator of the US Agency for International Development.
6 Dec 2002

Opinion - Cinema the instrument of ideals
Cinema should be regarded as an irreplaceable vehicle of communication and evangelisation. It seems that the law of the market is imposed in the cinema, and that a part of the media culture is vulgar and violent. Yet the cinema is the most wonderful instrument to dream of and grow in ideals. - Cardinal Paul Poupard, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture
6 Dec 2002

Cardinal's letter signals Vatican rejection of gay priests
A leading Vatican official has confirmed what is emerging as the Vatican's unequivocal position that men with homosexual tendencies should not be ordained.
6 Dec 2002

Pope demands orthodoxy in Catholic universities
At a meeting with representatives of Catholic universities yesterday, Pope John Paul II stressed the importance of adherence to the Church magisterium.
6 Dec 2002

Disaster looms for Zimbabwe
The people of Zimbabwe "face an absolutely desperate situation", and "the government is lying to the world about it", according to Archbishop Pius Ncube of Bulawayo.
6 Dec 2002

Jesuits' new book puts case for morality
In reference to Australia's treatment of asylum seekers, Sydney-based lawyer Fr Frank Brennan has responded to the question of whether there's a place for moral argument when government policy is so popular.
6 Dec 2002

Catholic bodies welcome changes to immigration detention
A joint statement yesterday from two Australian Bishops Conference organisations described moves by both of the major political parties towards a more humane treatment of asylum seekers as "an important first step".
6 Dec 2002

Australian Bishops say Parliament has 'crossed dangerous line' on embryos
The Australian Parliament has created "class of human life which is statutorily expendable" said Adelaide's Archbishop Philip Wilson following yesterday's passing of legislation allowing the use of embryonic stem cells in medical research.
6 Dec 2002

Feature - Parramatta Cathedral design sidesteps theological controversy
In 1996, St Patrick's Cathedral was destroyed by fire. The old building will be salvaged and incorporated into a new and much larger design by Romaldo Giurgola, the architect who designed the new Parliament House in Canberra. All this at a time when there's a kind of culture war going on inside the Catholic Church in Australia, and being fought out over church design.
5 Dec 2002

Opinion - Purity the hallmark, glory the reward
The prevailing attitude towards virginity is inadequate, reducing sex as it does to a purely biological function like eating or sleeping. Virginity is a charism; it is a gift that, lived well, enables us to deepen and enrich the lives of those around us. - Sydney University recent graduate and chaplaincy team member Lucy O'Connell
5 Dec 2002

Unlikely allies against Hong Kong subversion bill
The BBC has reported that the Catholic Church and the spiritual group Falun Gong are joining forces in Hong Kong to fight new anti-treason laws.
5 Dec 2002

Military occupation wreaks havoc on Bethlehem's Christmas plans
The Israeli military's occupation of Bethlehem is wreaking havoc on Bethlehem's plans for the Christmas season, with events having to be cancelled or postponed.
5 Dec 2002

Nuncio tells bishops not to lose heart
Don't lose heart, even when you're faced with undeniable and serious difficulties such as sexual abuse, the Vatican's official representative in Australia, Archbishop Francesco Canalini, has told Australia's bishops.
5 Dec 2002

Ratzinger sees media vendetta against Church
The Vatican's Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger has suggested that a campaign is under way against the Church, judging by the way scandals involving priests have been reported in the United States.
5 Dec 2002

Indonesian Govt and Church on alert after Flores seminary bomb threats
Church and government officials have been on guard on the predominantly Catholic region of Flores in eastern Indonesia following bomb threats on two seminaries there.
5 Dec 2002

Vatican official criticises Bush skepticism over weapons inspections
A week into new UN weapons inspections in Iraq, a Vatican official has criticised the US government's skepticism over their success and said it appeared Washington was determined to make war regardless of the inspections' outcome.
5 Dec 2002

Feature - Friends of the crčche
A new society for those who love, own and collect representations of the Nativity wants to keep Christ's birth central to Christmas celebrations. Instead of children's or grandchildren's pictures, they proudly showed off photos of their own Christmas cribs or the church displays they have organised.
4 Dec 2002

Opinion - Pope's language on terrorism reflects growing fear of global violence
In recent speeches, Pope John Paul II has described terrorism in new and dramatic terminology, calling it an international evil capable of provoking a "clash of civilisations". The pope's words represent an evolution and reflect a growing conviction at the Vatican that the global dimensions of terrorism must be combated in a special way, said informed Vatican sources.
4 Dec 2002

German priest starts anti-Santa campaign
A German Jesuit has started a campaign against Santa Claus, posting stickers proclaiming public places 'Santa-free' area.
4 Dec 2002

Pope's 2003 travel plans taking shape
Health permitting, Pope John Paul II will make at least four trips abroad during the coming year, including Croatia, Spain, Bosnia, and Slovakia.
4 Dec 2002

Philippine priest calls closing Australian Embassy an 'over-reaction'
The priest who chairs the Philippine government's peace council says the closure of the Australian and Canadian embassies near Manila due to alleged terrorist threats was an "overreaction" but underscored a lack of confidence in security forces.
4 Dec 2002

Bishop challenged on use of diocesan property
Bishop Kevin Manning of the Sydney Diocese of Parramatta has been challenged to release all details of a property deal for the proposed Campion College, which is intended to become a private Catholic university.
4 Dec 2002

Brothers make one-off payment to NZ abuse victims
The St John of God Brothers have mailed payments to complainants from its former residential school in Christchurch.
4 Dec 2002

Catholics welcome long-awaited Labor immigration policy
Initial response from Catholic organisations to yesterday's release of the immigration policy of the opposition Australian Labor Party has been positive.
4 Dec 2002

Feature - Country opens its heart to city
As an initiative for the Year of the Outback, the parish council of St Mary's, West Wyalong, invited parishioners of a Sydney parish to visit and see what the bush is all about, particularly with a drought hanging over the people.
3 Dec 2002

Opinion - More sinned against than sinning
What leader of a [British] national institution has recently been praised by an international expert in child protection as having achieved more in this field in the past year than he had seen anywhere else? The answer is Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, Archbishop of Westminster. Yet Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor has had to spend [last] week fending off media calls for his resignation.
3 Dec 2002

Boston Archdiocese preparing for bankruptcy
The Catholic Archdiocese of Boston is considering whether to filing for bankruptcy rather than face a costly legal battle over sexually abusive priests.
3 Dec 2002

Pope laments 'clash of civilisations'
Pope John Paul II has regretted the terrorism and violence that is sweeping the world, referring to a "clash of civilisations that at times seems inevitable".
3 Dec 2002

Ratzinger named Dean of College of Cardinals
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger has been elected the new dean of the College of Cardinals, to replace the retiring Cardinal Bernardin Gantin.
3 Dec 2002

Caritas says sorry to AIDS and HIV victims
The international division of the Catholic aid and development organisation Caritas has offered a profound and unprecedented apology for the way it has dealt with AIDS and HIV victims in the past.
3 Dec 2002

New auxiliary bishop appointed to Brisbane
Fr Joseph Oudeman, a Capuchin Franciscan, has been appointed as an Auxiliary Bishop to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane.
3 Dec 2002

Justice Commission warns Woomera trial 'splits families and costs a bomb'
Melbourne's Catholic Commission for Justice, Development and Peace has warned that holding fathers in detention while releasing mothers and children into a segregated community environment is "fundamentally flawed" because it "splits families".
3 Dec 2002

Feature - Board games the new way to teach religion
While sales of religious games represent a small niche in the game market, manufacturers are reporting sales doubling and are adding new titles. Parents say the family entertainment encourages togetherness, and they welcome an educational alternative to television and movies. Consumers can practically name their religion, with specialty choices including the Communion of Saints, and the Race to the Kabah, which teaches the 99 names of Allah in Islam.
2 Dec 2002

Opinion - Now more that ever, bishops need laity
Coming out of the meeting in Washington, the US bishops seem to have lost sight of this critical point. It is only through laypeople and their collective judgments that the bishops can once again earn their credibility.
2 Dec 2002

New church statement coincides with Govt backdown on detention
As Australia's Catholic Bishops were once again expressing their concern, the Federal Government appeared set to drop the controversial detention of women, children and unaccompanied minors, a significant reversal of its asylum seeker policy.
2 Dec 2002

Bishops reach out to drought-affected families
Australia's Catholic Bishops highlighted the strain that drought-induced hardship can place on family relationships in a statement of solidarity issued on Friday.
2 Dec 2002

Bishops call on Australian Catholics to step up peace effort
The Australian Bishops have issued a statement urging calm within the community in responding to terrorism, stressing the need for all to pray and work for peace "at a time of great tension in the world".
2 Dec 2002

Moment of truth for weeping statue devotees
Latest medical technology will help experts prove whether a weeping statue of the Virgin Mary is a miracle or a hoax.
2 Dec 2002

Minister says it's good to keep Christ in Christmas
Federal Multicultural Affairs Minister Gary Hardgrave on Saturday urged department stores to incorporate nativity scenes into their Christmas window decorations to keep Christ involved in the celebration.
2 Dec 2002

Bishops make fresh resolve to follow sex abuse response procedures
Assembled for their plenary session in Sydney last week, Australia's bishops renewed their determination to "respond decisively and compassionately"to complaints of abuse by Church personnel.
2 Dec 2002