Catholic News - Catholic Telecommunications, a devision of Catholic Resources
 

NEWS ARCHIVE FOR FEBRUARY 2005

   
Feature - Respectful communication gives hope to hurting couples
Anne Shiels and her husband were helped by Retrouvaille. "Our relationship was going through a difficult patch," she said. "I think communication was really at the root of it." Attending one of the first Retrouvaille weekends in Ireland in 1997 taught them "respectful, effective communication." The theory and practise of Retrovaille is that if you can communicate effectively and respectfully, you can solve your own problems. "Even if that means separating, you can do it more respectfully."
28 Feb 2005

Opinion - Banning theologians not the only way
The recent Vatican censure of US Jesuit theologian Roger Haight for his attempt to reformulate doctrines about Christ for a postmodern world highlights a disturbing theme of John Paul II's pontificate. Instead of the ban on teaching, however, a more imaginative response might have been to convene a summit on Christology. A lively debate over Haight's work already existed, and many of the reactions in serious theological journals were negative.
28 Feb 2005

German Cardinal smooths abortion 'holocaust' row
Catholic bishops' conference head Cardinal Karl Lehmann said on Friday that he had reached agreement with the president of German Jewish Council over the "incomparable" status of the Holocaust, following adverse Jewish reaction to perceived insensitive remarks in the Pope's latest book.
28 Feb 2005

Parish stands up for rejected asylum seeker family
The parish priest of Wodonga in Victoria's Sandhurst Diocese has rallied the local community to support a family of asylum seekers from Kosovo that has failed to gain official refugee status and the right to stay in Australia.
28 Feb 2005

Bishops reaffirm support for National Church Life Survey
The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and other major sponsors of interchurch NCLS research agency have agreed to support the carrying out of the National Church Life Survey (NCLS) in 2006.
28 Feb 2005

Abbott accused of pushing teenage sexual abstinence
Government sexual health advisers are fearing that Health Minister Tony Abbott's personal views are imposing a "moralistic agenda" on the coming national HIV/AIDS strategy, according to a report in The Age today.
28 Feb 2005

Battle for embryo stem cells resumes
Australia's Catholic bishops are campaigning to prevent the lifting of a partial ban on human embryos being used for stem cell research, with the Federal Government set to review laws permitting experimentation on embryos created through IVF before April 2002.
28 Feb 2005

Pell backs Pope resolve to carry on
Sydney's Cardinal George Pell has said that Pope John Paul II should remain in his position as pontiff as long as he can communicate, despite being "gravely sick".
28 Feb 2005

Feature - The Vatican's King Lear
In these days when the Pope is obviously declining, his imminent death forecast for more than a decade, often by men who are now themselves dead, it is sometimes hard to recollect just how dynamic John Paul II was at the start of his papacy. Throughout the 1980s the Pope's moral rectitude was pivotal in challenging and undermining the Polish regime and, through it, the edifice of the eastern bloc. No wonder Brezhnev thought it a mistake to allow him back into Poland for a visit. Unsurprising if some thought it would be better if he was dead. But this Pope has been particularly domineering and intolerant, not just of dissent but also of any opinions other than his own. This has forced the church into damaging and destructive positions, protecting paedophile priests and insisting that condoms do not protect against AIDS. - Review of John Cornwell's "The Pope in Winter"
25 Feb 2005

Opinion - Let the little children come to Mass
"Some people resent our children making a small amount of noise. There are cold stares and sometimes snubbing of us at the sign of peace." If Mass was a performance which required hearing every word, then noisy children might present a problem. But it is not: Mass is a communal act of worship. The body of Christ, the Church, includes people of all ages, from the youngest to the oldest. I believe a little tolerance needs to be shown by both the older Mass attendees and the parents of young children. If we don't make a young child welcome at Mass, can we really be surprised when the child grows up and chooses to stay away? - Education Officer Elizabeth Harrington
25 Feb 2005

ACU hosts conference on saltmarshes
The Australian Catholic Univeristy's North Sydney (MacKillop) campus has hosted Australasian Saltmarshes 2005, a conference that explored the status and ecology of coastal saltmarsh in Australia and New Zealand.
25 Feb 2005

Man surrenders to police after Catholic school stand-off
There has been a peaceful end to a stand-off between police and a man at St Mark's primary school at Inala Brisbane's south-west, after officers were called to the school when the man entered the grounds yesterday morning carrying an iron bar.
25 Feb 2005

Survey reveals US teens' religious knowledge to be shallow
The majority of American teens believe in God and worship in conventional congregations, but their religious knowledge is remarkably shallow and they have a tough time expressing the difference that faith makes in their lives, a new survey says.
25 Feb 2005

Centacare search for families to adopt healthy babies
Sydney Centacare's Adoption Services is in the "unusual" position of having to recruit for prospective adoptive parents as NSW figures show a record low in the number of foster children who found a permanent home this year.
25 Feb 2005

Ecumenical assault on Govt more Iraq troops decision
The National Council of Churches in Australia - which includes the Catholic Church - has savaged the Government's decision to send more troops to Iraq as "scandalous", saying the Prime Minister had broken trust with the Australian people.
25 Feb 2005

Pope set for tracheotomy procedure
Doctors were preparing to operate on Pope John Paul II to help ease his breathing problems, an Italian news agency said after the Holy Father had been rushed back to Rome's Gemmelli Hospital in an ambulance after suffering fever and congestion from a recurrence of the flu.
25 Feb 2005

Feature - Lifelong catechesis
Bill Huebsch is author of the book "Whole Community Catechesis in Plain English", which outlines a parish faith formation that moves beyond the school classroom. "We have been quite committed to an approach to catechesis which does not embrace the whole community, which is not linked directly to liturgy, and which aims mainly at instructing children," he notes. "While that instruction is vital and an important part of whole community catechesis.. we're talking about a change in thinking, from a separation between catechetical classes and Sunday liturgy to a strong, unbreakable connection between the two."
24 Feb 2005

Opinion - A good news story with a positive result
Federal Health Minister Tony Abbott and the mother of his adopted child were brave enough to publicly revisit the circumstances of the adoption 27 years ago - the pain of separation, the years of wondering about the fate of their son and the joy of eventually being reunited with him. They both did this with candour and dignity. Mr Abbott was at pains not to drag his son into the abortion debate, but he did express his disappointment that "there are so few babies adopted these days". The really good thing is that women, faced with the turmoil, fear and uncertainty associated with their dilemma, may find comfort and hope in the adoption option as a result of the publicity about this particular outcome.
24 Feb 2005

Kiwi Mercies to become one
The present four Congregations of the Sisters of Mercy in New Zealand are to become one single Congregation on 12 December, with the new Congregation to be known as Nga Whaea Atawhai o Aotearoa, Sisters of Mercy New Zealand.
24 Feb 2005

Premiers, Downer pleased with Catholic Women interfaith plan
Each of the State Premiers and Foreign Minister Alexander Downer have congratulated the Bishops' Commision for Australian Catholic Women on its initiative to seek funding to enable 10 young women from across Australia to take up a Young Catholic Women's Interfaith Fellowship.
24 Feb 2005

Melbourne teacher struck off after affair
A female teacher at a Melbourne Catholic boys' secondary school who had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old student has been deregistered.
24 Feb 2005

Refugee advocate tells Jesuit seminar that democracy requires honesty
Democracy demands a degree of honesty and compassion in politicians and the courage of the media to report the truth, refugee barrister Julian Burnside argued last night at Uniya's Lenten Seminar 2005 in Melbourne.
24 Feb 2005

Notre Dame Medical School inaugurated with Eucharist
To mark the commencement of the School of Medicine on its Perth campus, The University of Notre Dame Australia joined with the Catholic Doctors Association to celebrate the Eucharist.
24 Feb 2005

Pope says world failed to learn lessons of 20th century
Reporting of Pope John Paul II's new book following Tuesday's Rome launch has focused on his disappointment that society has failed to turn its back on the forces of evil.
24 Feb 2005

Feature - The geopolitics of the Pope's two most trusted cardinals
Along with that of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Cardinal Camillo Ruini's vision is important because of the role the two carry out at the side of John Paul II, who places complete trust in them. Ruini's "Europe" extends to Russia, North America, even Australia, Ratzinger's is more contained. For him, Europe "hates itself". Ruini is less pessimistic. Ratzinger's Europe regards Christians as a minority that he hopes will be creative. Ruini sees instances of a reawakening of faith, particularly in Italy, where Catholicism is "alive and rooted in the people". - Sandro Magister
23 Feb 2005

Opinion - It's OK to struggle in marriage
"I get so depressed when I read relationship books," said Elizabeth. "I look at the kind of relationships they describe, and then I look at my husband and my marriage". Marriage is the best form of group therapy we have going. The entire point of marriage is to provide an opportunity for two people to work together to become the people God created them to be. As a marriage counsellor, I worry more about the couples who don't struggle. But they should struggle productively and respectfully. - Gregory Popcak
23 Feb 2005

Swiss-born Catholic theologian wins 2005 Niwano Peace Prize
Dr Hans Kung, who heads the Global Ethic Foundation in Switzerland and Germany, is to receive this year's Peace Prize from the Japan-based Niwano Foundation, which gives the annual award to an individual or organisation contributing significantly to world peace by promoting inter-religious cooperation.
23 Feb 2005

Imminent canonisation of first two Fatima seers
A Portugueses news agency is reporting that the Diocese of Leiria-Fatima has sent the final documents for the canonisation of Jacinta and Francisco Marto to the Vatican.
23 Feb 2005

Movement founder dies at 82
Monsignor Luigi Giussani, founder of the influential Italian Communion and Liberation movement, died yesterday in Milan at the age of 82.
23 Feb 2005

Pope accepts Sydney bishop's resignation
Pope John Paul II yesterday accepted Bishop David Cremin's resignation from the office of auxiliary of the Archdiocese of Sydney after he reached the age limit of 75.
23 Feb 2005

Galilee village Catholics remain fearful a week after violence
Fear has remained on the faces of Melkite Catholics who have returned to the village of Maghar, a week after fleeing Druze-led violence.
23 Feb 2005

Mixed signals on Pope recovery
The Vatican has announced that the Holy Father is still recuperating from severe respiratory problems that caused his hospitalisation earlier this month, and will need to skip his regular weekly public audience scheduled for this afternoon.
23 Feb 2005

Feature - Celebration in time of grief
In the wake of the Asian tsunami and the bushfires in South Australia, almost everyone appeared ready to take few moments of silence, or take part in some other public ritual, to honour those who died and to remember the overwhelming suffering of those who remain. For Catholic Christians, we find in these public rituals echoes of our own celebration of Eucharist where we remember God's goodness to us and Jesus Christ solidarity with us in suffering and in death.
22 Feb 2005

Opinion - Interchurch marriage a gift to Christian unity
The 'Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms on Ecumenism' of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity says marriages between partners of different Christian denominations 'contain numerous elements that could well be made good use of and developed, both for their intrinsic value and for the contribution they can make to the ecumenical movement. This is particularly true when both parties are faithful to their religious duties'. Interchurch couples ought to be seen as God's great gift to the Churches in their quest for the restoration of Christian unity, and not as a problem to be avoided, ignored or solved. - Education Officer Elizabeth Harrington
22 Feb 2005

Suspect in nun's murder surrenders to police
A suspect in the murder of a US nun in rural Brazil last week surrendered to police at the weekend.
22 Feb 2005

More than 1000 clergy sex abuse allegations last year
The US Catholic Church last year received 1092 new allegations of sexual abuse against 756 priests and deacons, according to data released by the US Bishops' Office of Child and Youth Protection.
22 Feb 2005

UN adopts pro-life declaration against human cloning
After three years of apparent deadlock, the United Nations has finally adopted a declaration condemning human cloning, calling on member states to adopt urgent legislation, outlawing all cloning practices "as they are incompatible with human dignity and the protection of human life."
22 Feb 2005

Vatican redefines wellbeing
While everyone has "a moral duty" to maintain their health, there are limits to the right to pursue physical well-being, according to the head of the Pontifical Academy for Life, Bishop Elio Sgreccia.
22 Feb 2005

Pope tells media to promote truth, not trash
Pope John Paul II has released a 20-page apostolic letter that urges Catholics to scrutinise the media to ensure that it is working responsibly to promote truth, and to use all media, including the Internet, to spread the Gospel message.
22 Feb 2005

Overjoyed Abbott pleads case for adoption
After initially denying that the revelation of the identity of his adopted son was a counterpoint to abortion, Federal Health Minister Tony Abbott told ABC Radio last night: "I am disappointed there are so few babies adopted these days because there are plenty of parents [willing to adopt them]."
22 Feb 2005

Feature - Lives back on track with alternative education
Each day in the small town of Murgon, three hours from Brisbane, a dozen or so teenagers who have dropped out of formal schooling are finding their way back to meaningful education through a program known as the Annexe, a joint initiative of the Christian Brothers and the Murgon State High School. Each student helps to design their own curriculum, so it is tailored to meet their particular needs and interests. Without access to this alternative education many young people quickly slide into drug use and crime, becoming involved in the juvenile justice system at an early age.
21 Feb 2005

Opinion - Powerlessness - like power - can corrupt
Just like power and success, failure and humiliation can corrupt. Many are the acts of violence that issue forth when people feel powerless and humiliated. Sometimes failure and frustration build character, but sometimes they build monsters and murderers. Feelings of inferiority drive us into the deeper parts of our souls, but demons lurk in those depths. That's why Gethsemane is drama without a pre-written ending. In Jesus' case, it pushed him into greatness. How he handled his humiliation was perhaps his greatest gift to us. - Fr Ron Rolheiser OMI
21 Feb 2005

Oscar nomination for film on nun's passion for anti-Semitism
Sister Rose's Passion - the story of a nun's effort to counter anti-Semitism in Catholic teaching - is one of five Oscar nominees in the short documentary category for the Academy Awards to be presented on 27 February.
21 Feb 2005

Jesuits scrutinising honesty crisis in public life
A series of dramatic examples of lapses in honesty over the past year in public life in Australia has led the Uniya Jesuit Social Justice Centre to focus its annual Lenten Seminar on the question on the question of the effect of such lapses on personal lives and relationships, and the nation's integrity.
21 Feb 2005

Cardinal Pell becomes a legend at his old school
Sydney's Cardinal George Pell returned to Ballarat to be inducted as a legend of St Patrick's College on Saturday night, alongside philospher and Australian Catholic University academic Dr Raimond Gaita and former AFL star Brian Brown.
21 Feb 2005

More saints, cardinals on horizon
National Catholic Reporter Rome correspondent John Allen has drawn up a list of Archbishops he believes could be appointed to the College of Cardinals later this year, perhaps as early as the 29 June Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul.
21 Feb 2005

New Pope book hits Jewish sensitivities
A new book by Pope John Paul II, in which he likens abortion to a new Holocaust, has outraged Jewish groups appalled by what they say is a lack of understanding on the part of the Church.
21 Feb 2005

Feature - Na Rin's road to self-reliance
"Until recently we had no clean drinking water and there wasn't enough food," said 37 year old Na Rin. Three years ago, Caritas went to Toul, in Kompong Cham, Cambodia, offering to help with its Community Integrated Development Program. Caritas listened to the villagers' concerns and helped them decide priorities for change. Caritas helped form a village committee and provided training to achieve the goals the village set.
18 Feb 2005

Opinion - Time to mark an ecological Lent
What is the earth and its atmosphere telling us? The Pope suggested some years ago that it was telling us of an order in the universe which must be respected. We human beings, in our capacity to make far-reaching choices, have a grave responsibility to preserve this order for the well-being of future generations. Recall the oldest Lenten formula used on Ash Wednesday: "Remember, O human one, that thou art but dust". This earth is our native place; it sustains our life and we must care for it; it is our basic commonwealth. - Fr Tony Kelly CSsR, Professor of Theology, Australian Catholic University, Australia's representative on the International Theological Commission, Rome
18 Feb 2005

German bishops warn against alternative burials
"Grieving and remembering requires rituals and concrete places," said conference president, Cardinal Karl Lehmann. "Foregoing structured mourning and remembering of the dead makes it harder to come to terms with the loss."
18 Feb 2005

Exorcists say real Satanic possession is rare
Two Italian exorcists preparing priests and seminarians to respond to reports of demonic possession have affirmed that the devil is real and can possess people, but it does not happen as often as many people think.
18 Feb 2005

Archeologists discover St Paul's tomb
Vatican archeologists believe that they have identified the tomb in Rome's St Paul Outside the Walls basilica, following the discovery of a stone coffin during excavations carried out over the past three years.
18 Feb 2005

Pontifical Academy seeks to redefine "quality of life"
Pontifical Academy for Life president Bishop Elio Sgreccia has said that while countries and international organisations push for better "health" and "quality of life", "what exactly is meant by 'quality of life', is not yet clear to the public and perhaps not even to politicians themselves".
18 Feb 2005

Tribunal welcomes new annulment guidelines
Despite reports that Church officials are disappointed with the recent Vatican annulment rules update, Sydney Archdiocesan Marriage Tribunal director Fr Christopher Sheehy has predicted that the new rulebook will "make it easier to process cases".
18 Feb 2005

Public servant defends funding for Church pregnancy advice
A Federal Health Department official has said the Catholic Church received $918,000 public funding for pregnancy counselling services because they provide "a different kind of service... advice on natural family planning."
18 Feb 2005

Feature - Bede Griffiths - the Christian Yogi
This man Bede Griffiths - the Benedictine monk died at his Shantivanam (Forest of Peace) ashram in India in 1993 at 86 - is dangerous. His writings are danger-daring prods, cautions, lures, inducements, challenges, barbs, warnings and reassurances from a man who found nature first, and through nature God, and through God Catholicism, and through Catholicism Benedictinism, and through the monastic life, Eastern mysticism. All blend in his person and words, not into a homogenised spiritual glop, but concentrated as a beam of light capable of penetrating the darkest corners of early 21st-century decadence and blindness to the future.
17 Feb 2005

Opinion - Govt should train religion teachers in its schools
The Constitution of the State of New South Wales was changed in the 1870's to guarantee each child attending a government school, forty minutes of religious education, commonly known as Scripture Classes, each week. Just as we require teachers to be well prepared to teach in other areas, the State Government has a duty to ensure that those who go into the schools to take the Religious Instruction are also prepared. A system of direct involvement has operated successfully in Queensland since the 1970's.
17 Feb 2005

Naked Stations of the Cross prompt protest
Naked images of Jesus in new relief sculptures installed in Christchurch's Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament have attracted angry protests from parishioners.
17 Feb 2005

Spread of SMS service to stop kids wagging school
St Patrick's Ballarat, in Victoria, is the latest Catholic school to use mobile phone messaging to help parents and teachers keep track of school children and crack down on absenteeism.
17 Feb 2005

Ecumenical aid agency ForceTen to close
After nearly four decades raising and distributing international development aid, the interchurch aid and development agency that includes Caritas Australia, has announced its closure.
17 Feb 2005

Fatima visionary's death 'deeply moved' Pope
Pope John Paul II has said he was deeply moved when he heard that Carmelite Sister Lucia dos Santos, the last surviving Fatima visionary, "was called by the heavenly Father to his eternal dwelling place".
17 Feb 2005

Bishop says birthrate decline reflects 'crisis of commitment'
Sydney auxiliary Bishop Anthony Fisher has said that marriage breakdowns, and related issues including the alarming decline in Australia's birthrate, have created "a real crisis of commitment in Australian youth".
17 Feb 2005

Commission presses on as Australia ignores Kyoto
Brisbane's Catholic Justice and Peace Commission marked yesterday's coming into force of the Kyoto Protocol to curb climate change due to global warming, with an education and information initiative aimed at householders.
17 Feb 2005

Feature - Life and brutal death of Amazon rainforest martyr
Sr Dorothy Stang lived among those who wanted her dead. When they finally came for her she read passages from the Bible to her killers. They listened for a moment, then fired. Her body was found face down in the mud, blood staining the back of her white blouse. Her murder has triggered waves of outrage among environmental and human rights activists who say she dedicated her life to helping the area's poor, landless peasants and confronting the businesses that see the rainforest only as a resource to be plundered and which have already destroyed 20% of its two million square kilometres.
16 Feb 2005

Opinion - Creationists violate our freedom of religion
More than 50% of Americans reject evolution. They are entitled to their beliefs. One can understand their fight. If literal interpretation of Genesis is taken away from them, then their entire religious edifice is shaken to its foundations. However, when in their battle against modernism they deprive other children of a proper education, they violate our freedom of religion. - Fr Andrew Greeley
16 Feb 2005

Report says Vatican approves lay sermons in Switzerland
The London Tablet is reporting that proposals by Swiss bishops to allow lay theologians to give sermons and Protestants to receive Communion have met with the approval of the Curia in Rome.
16 Feb 2005

Extra protection for John of God accused
A Sydney priest and religious brother of the St John of God Congregation will receive extra protection while in custody in Australia while waiting extradition to New Zealand on child sex charges.
16 Feb 2005

Townsville CEO plea for aircon affordibility
A reduced electricity rate should be negotiated for schools so they could afford to run airconditioners in hot weather, Townsville's Catholic Education Office Director Mike Byrne has said in a statement reported in today's Townsville Bulletin newspaper.
16 Feb 2005

Sydney Planning Committee holds first meeting
Sydney's Archdiocesan Renewal Planning Committee, established by Cardinal Pell following a decision reached at the Clergy Forum last October and announced in his Advent Pastoral, held its inaugural meeting in Sydney last Wednesday.
16 Feb 2005

Catholic bodies join new disability welfare alliance
Catholic Welfare Australia, Catholic Health Australia, and the St Vincent de Paul Society are part of a new alliance of disability and welfare organisations that is promoting a positive program of reform to improve payments and employment services for people with disabilities.
16 Feb 2005

Maronite Patriarch mourns slain Lebanese leader
Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir and Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Luigi Gatti yesterday visited the family of assassinated former Prime Minister of Lebanon, Rafik Harir, who was killed with at least 15 others in a Beiruit suicide car-bombing on Monday.
16 Feb 2005

Feature - Easter Island priest ministers to transient flock
This remote South Pacific island is best known for its imposing moai, the huge carved stone statues that were the centre of ancestor worship in the ancient Rapa Nui culture. On Sunday morning, the small church on is packed for Mass. A choir backed by drums and an accordion sings in Rapa Nui, the local language, while Fr Joe Navarrete celebrates the liturgy in three languages.
15 Feb 2005

Opinion - Sacristans and servers
The 'behind the scenes' ministry of sacristans is an essential service to the worshipping assembly. The highest compliment that can be paid to servers is for people to comment that they were quite unaware of their presence. The role is a little bit like that of a guide dog - leading the way where necessary, yet rarely being noticed themselves. To make oneself invisible requires self-discipline and forethought so that unnecessary movement can be avoided. - Education Officer Elizabeth Harrington
15 Feb 2005

Gibson to release Passion "lite" for Easter
Mel Gibson will release a new, low-violence version of his highly successful The Passion of the Christ movie next month, according to the movie industry newspaper Daily Variety.
15 Feb 2005

Spotlight on Pope's Guardian Angels
John Paul II has more than one guardian angel watching over him, according to the author of a book on the Pope's bodyguards that sets out to reveal the hidden world of guards, bodyguards and intelligence staff dedicated to protecting the Holy Father and the Vatican.
15 Feb 2005

Retirement of papal confidant Cardinal Lustiger
Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, a confidant of Pope John Paul II and a Jewish convert to Catholicism who lost his mother at Auschwitz, has retired as archbishop of Paris at age 78.
15 Feb 2005

Heritage listing to protect Sydney church
The City of Sydney Council is expected to approve the Sacred Heart Church in Darlinghurst for heritage listing next Monday, even though church leaders maintain it has little architectural merit.
15 Feb 2005

St John of God priest and brother to be extradited
An Australian priest and religious brother will be extradited to New Zealand to face child sex charges dating back 50 years.
15 Feb 2005

Last Fatima witness Sister Lucia dead at 97
Sr Lucia, the last surviving witness of the three children to whom the Virgin Mary appeared at Fatima, Portugal, died on Sunday at the age of 97.
15 Feb 2005

Feature - Lovers' leap of faith
On Valentine's Day, some Catholic parishes sponsor their own celebrations of married love on a day that has become amostly secular event. But marriage isn't always about candy, flowers and romance. Sometimes it's about dealing with a leaky ceiling in the middle of the night or coping with a partner's serious illness. Offering their pastoral outreach program, marriage ministry leaders in the Archdiocese of Chicago hope to demonstrate that marriage is a 'daily sacrament'. "Every day is an opportunity to be Christ for your spouse, and for your spouse to be Christ to you."
14 Feb 2005

Opinion - There's no halting the Pope's media momentum
"I cannot be feeding your networks information 24 hours a day," snapped the papal spokesman, Dr Joaquín Navarro-Valls, on the fifth day of the Pope's most recent stay in hospital. In former times when rapid global communications were still unheard of, concerns about a pope's wellbeing were almost exclusively a matter for the Roman Curia. But in this cyber-age of non-stop news bulletins, it has become increasingly difficult - even for the Vatican - to keep news of a pope's poor health out of public view. This has tested the patience and imagination of those who, over the past two decades, have cleverly harnessed the power of the mass media to spread the message and enhance the image of Pope John Paul II. - Robert Mickens
14 Feb 2005

Special St Valentine's blessing for Dublin lovers
The Carmelite church in Whitefriar Street, Dublin, is today offering couples the opportunity to be blessed before the remains of St Valentine, which lie in a shrine in its church.
14 Feb 2005

Death row movie nun set to visit Australia
Sr Helen Prejean csj - the anti-capital punishment advocate depicted in the 1995 film Dead Man Walking - will make a return visit to Australia later this month, to take part in public lectures, presentations and conversations, in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne.
14 Feb 2005

American nun assassinated in Brazil
An American nun who spent decades fighting efforts by loggers and large landowners to expropriate lands and clear large areas of the Amazon rainforest was shot to death on Saturday in northern Brazil.
14 Feb 2005

Pope blesses crowd from St Peter's studio
Returning to his studio window above St Peter's Square yesterday, Pope John Paul addressed a sea of worshippers with a strong assurance that he's on the rebound after his ten day hospitalisation.
14 Feb 2005

Vinnies brands tax system 'Robin Hood in reverse'
Commenting on the current parliament's consideration of tax cuts, St Vincent de Paul National spokesperson Terry McCarthy has said most Australians would agree that it is not fair to to give generously to the rich while taking from the poor.
14 Feb 2005

Schools attacked for putting PR before students
Some high-profile independent Catholic schools have been attacked for their "zero tolerance" approach to drugs, with a new Jesuit Social Services report claiming they are more concerned with their public reputations than student welfare.
14 Feb 2005

Feature - Signing up
Many believe see covenants as a feature of biblical times, not part of our modern landscape. But St Martin de Porres Aboriginal Community and Holy Spirit Parish in Darwin have made a covenant to keep faith with each other. Although God isn't one of the signatories to this particular covenant, those who did sign felt God's spirit moving their hands.
11 Feb 2005

Opinion - Lenten observance puts death in its place
We try to open our hearts to the physical and spiritual meaning of Christ's resurrection. In the midst of a world that sees Easter as a holiday time, communion with God and one another reassures us that our relationship with God and others cannot be broken by death because it transcends death. Death is merely another step, even if an important one, on our long journey towards everlasting life. - Archbishop John Bathersby, Archbishop of Brisbane/Lenten Pastoral Letter
11 Feb 2005

Cardinal says Charles-Camilla marriage inflames sectarian wounds
While wishing the soon to be married Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles future happiness, the head of the Catholic Church in Scotland Cardinal Keith O'Brien has regretted that the announcement focuses attention on "existing blatant anti-Catholic legislation".
11 Feb 2005

NSW Govt "backflip" on hospital chaplaincies
The Civil Chaplaincies Advisory Committee (CCAC), the state's peak chaplaincy body representing nine major Christian churches and three other faiths, yesterday expressed strong concern about the Carr Government's $4.5m "backflip" on hospital chaplaincy services.
11 Feb 2005

Cameroon hosting today's World Day of the Sick
Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry, has opened the traditional meetings for the World Day of the Sick, which will be celebrated today - the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes - in the Cameroon capital of Yaounde.
11 Feb 2005

Pope out of hospital
Pope John Paul II left his Rome hospital in his white popemobile around 5:30 am this morning Sydney time, 10 days after suffering breathing spasms that left him bedridden and rekindled debate about his ability to continue leading the Church.
11 Feb 2005

Pell push for ban on use of leftover embryos
Sydney's Cardinal George Pell has said the the Church will renew its lobbying efforts to secure a ban on the use of leftover embryos created during fertility treatment, as part of an effort to convince the community of the sanctity of embryonic life.
11 Feb 2005

Church call for scrutiny of plight of all detainees
Following the recent revelation of the detention of psychiatric patient Cornelia Rau, the Church's peak migration and justice organisations have joined forces to call on the Federal Government to ensure an adequate process of inquiry.
11 Feb 2005

Feature - When Ash Wednesday and New Year overlap
This year, yesterday marked the start of both Lent and the new lunar year. Chinese dioceses had to cope with the needs of the Church solemnity and the traditions of the Lunar New Year as best they can. In Chinese culture, ashes symbolically represent pain and suffering and many Chinese Catholics do not want to receive them today, a day of rejoicing. The Church has had to explain that the ashes are also a blessing.
10 Feb 2005

Opinion - Rediscovering the gifts of the elderly
Lent is not just a matter of setting ourselves right with God by seeking forgiveness of our sins but setting ourselves right with God by opening our heart to the needs of other people. This Lent the Pope has directed our attention towards the needs of the elderly. In our society, the image of the elderly is quite negative whereas in other cultures the elderly are revered. They are adored not because of their economic contribution to society but rather because they've assumed a position in the family and in society as a result of their experience.
10 Feb 2005

Vatican bans Jesuit from teaching as Catholic theologian
After a five-year investigation, the Vatican's doctrinal congregation said it had found "serious doctrinal errors" in the work of US Jesuit theologian Fr Roger Haight and forbade him to teach as a Catholic theologian.
10 Feb 2005

Cleared Cathedral choirmaster seeks damages from Sydney Archdiocese
A Sydney choirmaster reinstated after being sacked for allegedly associating with a sex offender has launched a claim for damages in the NSW Supreme Court.
10 Feb 2005

Premier Carr calls Caritas a 'voice of calm'
NSW Premier Bob Carr told the Sydney launch of the Project Compassion lenten appeal that Caritas Australia is a "voice of calm, and reason, and commonsense, and kindness" in "a world aflame with murder and poisoned with intertribal hatreds".
10 Feb 2005

Pope distributes ashes to doctors in hospital room Mass
Pope John Paul II invited all of his doctors to an Ash Wednesday Mass in his hospital room and personally distributed ashes to them.
10 Feb 2005

CEO sounds alarm on push to tie funding to sex classes
Sydney's Catholic Education Office has said that Federal Government funding to schools should not be contingent on schools proving they have comprehensive sex education programs.
10 Feb 2005

Bishops welcome PM's commitment on abortion debate
The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference yesterday issued a statement welcoming the Prime Minister's willingness to allow a debate on abortion.
10 Feb 2005

Feature - Our shifting understanding of Lent
In the early Church, those who had committed serious sins confessed their sins to the bishop and were assigned a penance that was to be carried out over a period of time. After completing their penance, they were reconciled by the bishop with a prayer of absolution. Lent was a time for them to focus on working through their penance. In the middle ages, with the gradual disappearance of the Order of Penitents, the use of ashes on Ash Wednesday became detached from its original context.
9 Feb 2005

Opinion - I hate Lent
I'll say it bluntly--I hate Lent. It's my least favourite time of the year. It always casts a pall over St Patrick's Day, and ruins Valentine's Day. The priest wears depressing dark-purple vestments. He says a prayer that thanks God for "this season of joy". What joy? There are only two fun things about Lent. One is Mardi Gras. The other is checking out the foreheads of people at your job on Ash Wednesday to see whether they got ashes at the church that morning. Lent is perfectly awful - but if it weren't there, I'd miss it. - Charlotte Allen
9 Feb 2005

Sydney Salesian's charity to open Aceh orphanage
Youth Off The Streets (YOTS), headed by Fr Chris Riley SDB, has signed an agreement with the 30-million member Muhammadiyah to set up a centre for children on the outskirts of Aceh's provincial capital, Banda Aceh.
9 Feb 2005

British bishops ban discrimination against gays, co-habitors
The Catholic bishops of England and Wales have determined that gays and cohabiting couples can no longer be denied employment by the Church.
9 Feb 2005

Four abuse convictions for ex-priest Shanley
Laicised Boston priest Paul Shanley could face a life sentence after a jury in the US on Monday found him guilty on all four counts of child sex abuse, including rape.
9 Feb 2005

Cardinal Sodano meets US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano has met his US counterpart Condoleezza Rice in a 45 minute "cordial" encounter that included discussion of religious freedom, the Holy Land, the Middle East, and Asia.
9 Feb 2005

Cardinal insists on scrutiny of failed marriages before annulment
Cardinal Julian Herranz of the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts has defended the Church's right to subject failed marriages to a judicial examination before granting an annulment.
9 Feb 2005

Lent at a time of tsunami
Archbishop Denis Hart of Melbourne has said that "parishes, communities and individuals who have been deep in prayer and practical and financial support for those who had their livelihood destroyed" in the Boxing Day tsunami have shown that thay can "lay aside indifference" to embrace the season of Lent, that "forces us to come to terms with the 'tsunami' of sin and evil in our lives".
9 Feb 2005

Feature - Personal call from a loving God
If a young woman should speak to her about becoming a nun, says former Josephite congregational leader Sr Giovanni Farquer, she'd "ask her a lot of questions about the call". Today, there are about 970 Josephite nuns worldwide at an average age of around 65. There are many different reasons why women decide to enter. "Some say they're struck by the story of Mary MacKillop... The perception is that it's a lonely life and at times it is. But a religious vocation is a personal call from a loving God."
8 Feb 2005

Opinion - A dangerous leadership vacuum
It has been strongly suspected for some years now that John Paul's role has been increasingly restricted to ceremony. Key decisions, including those on the appointment of bishops, are said to be made by a small clique of senior Vatican officials. There is specific provision for a papal resignation in the laws that govern the church. But no one can force a pope to step down against his will and no provision exists for removing a pope from office if he is not in a position to make that decision himself. This combination of John Paul's determination (or obstinacy) and the church's institutional impotence has created a dangerous leadership vacuum. - Chris McGillion
8 Feb 2005

Survey provokes debate on relevance of Seven Deadly Sins
A poll commissioned for a BBC TV program reveals that most people believe the seven deadly sins are out of date, and that cruelty is now considered the worst sin anyone can commit.
8 Feb 2005

Timorese Church opposes war crimes deal
East Timor's new Catholic bishop has opposed a deal between Timorese and Indonesian leaders to drop trials over atrocities committed during the country's 1999 independence process, saying it lacks public support.
8 Feb 2005

CEO chief pans "retrograde" national Year 12 exam
Brisbane Catholic Education executive director David Hutton has agreed with teacher unions and the Queensland Education Minister that a Federal Government proposal for a national external exam for school-leavers is unnecessary and out of date.
8 Feb 2005

Vatican cold feet on marriage annulment reform
The Holy See will today release its long-awaited instruction on annulment, reportedly without reforms that were in an earlier draft but "removed after skirmishes in the Vatican".
8 Feb 2005

Vatican No. 2 says resignation a matter for Pope's conscience
After asking prayers for a hospitalised Pope John Paul II, the Vatican's No. 2 official - Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican Secretary of State - said the question of eventual papal resignation was something that must be left to "the pope's conscience."
8 Feb 2005

Caritas acting on Africa's 'tsunami toll every week'
"In Africa alone, the tsunami's death toll is repeated each week through conflict, the effects of preventable illnesses such as malaria, malnutrition and lack of access to clean water," Mr Jack de Groot, National Director of Caritas Australia said in a statement ahead of today's launch of the annual Project Compassion Lenten Appeal.
8 Feb 2005

Feature - A friend to those in need
Pioneering social activist and medical statesman Ian Webster has spent his life working with the homeless and poor. If you happen to be passing the St Vincent de Paul Society's Matthew Talbot Hostel in Sydney on any Monday afternoon, you will find him there in a small office, listening quietly, bent over and cutting toenails, tending aching feet, checking tobacco-racked lungs and tired livers and more often than not reassuring tortured souls.
7 Feb 2005

Opinion - Powerful witness to approaching death
Pope John Paul II's weakening health has left the world's largest religious denomination without a strong chief executive. But the 84-year-old pope's illness provides a powerful, and highly visible, demonstration of several core Catholic teachings about the value of human life at all stages and the importance of suffering as part of the Christian journey. "He is giving us a tremendous witness today to what it means to be a Christian who is approaching death, which is something we are all going to do".
7 Feb 2005

Coogee pilgrims lobby for beach chapel
Two years after the alleged Sydney beachside apparition of the Virgin Mary, pilgrims of the "Coogee Madonna" are pushing for the building of a chapel.
7 Feb 2005

Exposure of Perth parishioner's alleged war crimes
While Hungarian authorities investigate retired Perth nurse Charles Zentai for alleged war crimes including murder, the 83-year-old widower has "taken comfort from the quiet support of the Catholic parish that has known him for more than 40 years".
7 Feb 2005

Vatican official backs communion ban for sash-wearers
The Vatican's top liturgy official has said that Rainbow Sash wearers disqualify themselves from receiving Holy Communion because they are demonstrating their opposition to church teaching on homosexuality.
7 Feb 2005

Catholic Mission Australia to visit Sri Lanka
A team of two staff and one professional photographer will fly to Sri Lanka today to gather information about the effect of the tsunami on sponsored projects for Catholic Mission in Australia.
7 Feb 2005

Experts warn life does not always end with brain-death
Catholic medical experts at a Pontifical Academy of Sciences-sponsored meeting have called into question the practice of harvesting vital organs from patients determined to be brain-dead.
7 Feb 2005

Recovering Pope makes public appearance
Pope John Paul II yesterday waved to pilgrims after appearing at the window of his hospital room where he is recovering from flu and breathing difficulties.
7 Feb 2005

Feature - Making the Eucharist more widely accessible
Fr Martin Dixon, parish priest of St Simon's in Rowville, and a member of the committee of the National Council of Priests, stresses that the council didn't set out to make a statement on celibacy; it's just the one paragraph of a three-page document that has garnered all of the attention. "We were writing to the [Vatican Synod of] bishops principally asking how the Eucharist can be made more available to all people and how we can celebrate the Mass as best as possible," he says.
4 Feb 2005

Opinion - Good wines are aged in cracked old barrels
That's what makes them rich and mellow. They can, of course, go sour during the process. That's the risk. The soul works in the same way and, thus, we might ask whether failure and loneliness, as they shape our souls, need to be re-imagined aesthetically: Are maturity and transformation, growth in beauty, not about more than success, health, having it all and looking like a million dollars? Beauty is ultimately more about the size of our hearts, about how much they can empathize, and about how widely and unselfishly they can embrace. - Fr Ron Rolheiser OMI
4 Feb 2005

Priest hears 'confession' by radio
Outspoken Melbourne priest Fr Bob Maguire was a guest on youth radio station Triple J on Sunday night when host John Saffran invited callers to take part in radio confessions.
4 Feb 2005

Sydney Jesuit school considers female students
After 125 years as a Jesuit-run boys' school, Sydney's St Ignatius College - also known as Riverview - is considering admitting girls and expanding into tertiary education, according to a report in today's Sydney Morning Herald.
4 Feb 2005

Pope says organ transplants must "guarantee respect for life and for the human person"
Yesterday the Vatican released a Letter from Pope John Paul II to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences supporting the practice of transplanting organs from the deceased.
4 Feb 2005

Pope thanks faithful for their prayers
"I bring you the greetings of the Pope, who thanks you for your affection and your fervent prayer," said Archbishop Franc Rode, relaying a message from Pope John Paul II thanking the faithful for the prayers that have been poured out on his behalf since he was hospitalised on Tuesday.
4 Feb 2005

Bishop says water conservation is a moral duty
The threat of a dire water shortage is another warning for Australians to wake up to the gifts that God has given us, or be guilty of "culpable ignorance", according to Bishop Chris Toohey, chairman of Catholic Earthcare.
4 Feb 2005

Feature - Broadcaster's abortion regret lingers 20 years on
John Morales was a 26-year-old Chicago sports broadcaster who was totally focused on advancement and material success. At the same time, he was involved in a romantic relationship that ultimately led to an unplanned pregnancy and abortion. "It still touches me," said Morales, now 46 and a correspondent for Relevant Radio, a national Catholic radio network. "It's very painful. I'll never see (the baby) or know (his or her) name," he added.
3 Feb 2005

Opinion - When hands meet
Hand-shaking is a daily ritual for the class of teacher Tracey Ryan, who greets each child individually at the door each morning. "I connect with each one and work to establish a safe environment right from the moment they first enter the room". The humble handshake. It can communicate so much. Funny how such a small gesture can reveal our human dignity. - Teresa Pirola
3 Feb 2005

Academic says "dobbing" the key to eliminating bullying
University of South Australia Professors Kenneth Rigby and Bruce Johnson said that fellow students turning a blind eye to bullying is the main factor that perpetuates the problem of bullying in schools.
3 Feb 2005

Some youth say just talking about a vocation helps them consider it
Catholic News Service in the US this week profiled a group at the Jesuit-run St Louis University, where a possible religious or priestly vocation is on the agenda for students who talk about it in conversation.
3 Feb 2005

Schismatic society lobbies Australian priests on Tridentine rite
The Society of Pius X - followers of the excommunicated late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre - has lobbied "every priest in Australia" with an eight page letter and a book of 'confessions' by priests who had returned to the Tridentine rite, according to a report in this week's issue of Online Catholics.
3 Feb 2005

Deputy PM and Anglican Primate fuel anti-abortion campaign
Acting Prime Minister John Anderson has backed an anti-abortion push to debate late-term terminations and consider changes designed to force doctors to provide more accurate statistics.
3 Feb 2005

Solomons court hears testimony of mudered priest's brother
The brother of a Solomon Islands priest and Cabinet minister Fr Augustine Geve, allegedly murdered by militant leader Harold Keke, yesterday told how his body was returned to his village with gaping bullet wounds.
3 Feb 2005

Media makes big deal of Pope's 'little fever'
Pope John Paul II's rest in Rome's Gemelli Polyclinic, for what papal spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls called "just a little fever", has been subject to an unusual rush of media attention over the past 24 hours.
3 Feb 2005

Feature - Die smiling
When I was 18, I went with my sister to see our uncle in a place that was then called St Joseph's Hospice for the Dying. We were nervous, not relishing the prospect of witnessing terrible terminal agonies at close quarters. But it was astonishing. The minute we were inside our fear evaporated. It was full of people who did indeed look very ill but the atmosphere was relaxed, even cheerful, and the staff were treating the patients with an easy respect, like the old friends many of them were. We came away laughing at his unquenchable optimism.
2 Feb 2005

Opinion - The poor you will always have with you
At the height of dramatic disasters, whether natural or created by human malice and greed, widespread relief is usually forthcoming. Australia's response to the tsunami tragedy has been rightly applauded. But what of our nation's miserly ongoing contribution to overseas aid, not to speak of a number of domestic policies and practices that are singularly lacking in compassion and even justice. On Wednesday next (9 February), we begin Lent. The Caritas Australia Project Compassion appeal has long since become an integral part of our Lenten journey. Giving to the needy - alms giving - is directly related to the Lenten spirit of self-denial. - Archbishop Francis Carroll, President Australian Catholic Bishops Conference
2 Feb 2005

Christian brother pays tribute to fallen airman
Paul Pardoel, the Australian-born air force navigator killed in Iraq early on Monday, was an unforgettable student who would be sadly missed, according to his housemaster at St Patrick's College Ballarat, Br Brian Davis.
2 Feb 2005

Vatican official's assurance that aid agencies don't proselytise
Catholic aid agencies are working in overwhelmingly Islamic Aceh province as a way to show the church's compassion for victims and survivors of the tsunami disaster, a visiting Vatican official has said.
2 Feb 2005

New Pontifical Yearbook reveals increase in baptisms
The number of baptisms in the world rose from 1.07 million in 2002, to 1.09 million in 2003 - according to the latest statistics in the Pontifical Yearbook, for 2005 which was presented to the Pope on Monday morning.
2 Feb 2005

Pope urges improved screening for seminarians
Pope John Paul II yesterday called on authorities to improve vetting procedures for candidates for the priesthood in the wake of the numerous sex scandals of the past few years.
2 Feb 2005

Papal theologian weighs condom use against AIDS
Papal household theologian, Cardinal Georges Cottier, has admitted that condoms can be used in the battle against AIDS, but only under highly limited circumstances.
2 Feb 2005

Top theologian urges reflective calm in abortion debate
Redemptorist Fr Tony Kelly, Australia's representative on the Vatican's International Theological Commission, has expressed concern that point-scoring debates about abortion are counter-productive to the extent that they obscure the gravity of the problem.
2 Feb 2005

Feature - Back to school blues
I am tempted to justify the appalling behaviour of my children on the grounds that their back-to-school nerves are getting to them. I am thinking that maybe the two scowling, skinny-legged creatures who drag on the trolley, making it almost impossible to steer, are changelings. A few weeks ago these now grumpy things were playing in the sand and making friends on the beach. They were sources of pride, wonder and delight.
32 Feb 2005

Opinion - The root of our obsessions
Every time our minds and hearts begin bitterly replaying, like cassette tapes, old conversations, old wounds, old rejections and old injustices, so that everything inside of us wants to scream: "This isn't fair!" "How dare he say that!" "How can she do that, after all I did for her!" "I hate those people!" "Why do I always get cheated?", we are being tormented by Satan and need to say: "Get behind me, Satan!" There will be no joy, goodness or moral strength in our lives until those obsessions leave us alone. - Fr Ron Rolheiser OMI
32 Feb 2005

Gathering inspects growth of Josephite Tree
Over 40 Sisters of St Joseph from the both national and diocesan-based congregations - known respectively as 'Brown' and 'Black' Josephites - came together late last month to reflect on the progress of their shared future, and the growth of the tree planted 15 years ago to symbolise that future.
32 Feb 2005

Vietnam releases dissident priest
Vietnam announced yesterday that it would release two of its best-known dissidents from prison, including 58 year old Fr Thadeus Nguyen Van Ly, who angered authorities when he gave written testimony in 2001 to the US Commission on International Religious Freedom urging the United States not to ratify a bilateral trade agreement until the communist government improved its human rights record.
32 Feb 2005

Flu-stricken Pope lies low
Pope John Paul II has influenza, forcing him to cancel scheduled audiences for health reasons for the first time in more than a year, his spokesman has said.
32 Feb 2005

Exposure for priest's comments on Pope sex focus
Australian priests are more disturbed by the Pope's attitude to sex issues than by unmarried couples or homosexuals living together, according to an Online Catholics article by outspoken Melbourne priest Fr Eric Hodgens.
32 Feb 2005

Pope tells Aussie Catholic lawyers to protect unborn and aged
Ahead of yesterday's 'Red Mass' for Catholic lawyers, Pope John Paul II urged members of the St Thomas More Society to defend the "inviolable dignity and rights of every human being - from conception until natural death".
32 Feb 2005

Abbott backs new anti-abortion lobby
Health Minister Tony Abbott has backed a new coalition of political and religious leaders demanding restrictions on late-term abortions and greater transparency on the number of terminations.
32 Feb 2005