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NEWS ARCHIVE FOR FEBRUARY 2007

   
Cardinal brings Lenten message to YouTube
In a Lenten message published on the video sharing website YouTube, Philadelphia Cardinal Justin Rigali has called on Christians to fast and read scripture in order to enter a "deep encounter with the Father".
28 Feb 2007

Malta to get its first saint
A Maltese priest, Fr George Preca, who founded a society of lay catechists, the Society of Christian Doctrine, will become the island nation's first native born saint, the Holy See has announced.
28 Feb 2007

"Bishop of poor" leads Paraguay presidential race
Defying a demand from the Holy See that he withdraw from Paraguay's presidential race, retired Bishop Fernando Lugo has become the frontrunner in polls in the lead up to the 2008 election.
28 Feb 2007

Aussie priest under fire in Fiji
Australian priest, Fr Kevin Barr, who works with an ecumenical Fiji thinktank, is under fire for remarks which allegedly underplayed the threat to human rights by the current military government.
28 Feb 2007

Gaza strip a "large prison": Irish bishops
In a statement issued ahead of a meeting with the country's foreign minister, Irish bishops have slammed systematic large-scale abuse of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories and called into questions Ireland's commercial ties with Israel.
28 Feb 2007

Melbourne scholar says Jesus tomb claims "bizarre"
Melbourne New Testament expert, Fr Brendan Byrne, has described as "bizarre" claims in a new documentary that an ancient tomb unearthed in Jerusalem 27 years ago was the burial tomb of Jesus and his family.
28 Feb 2007

Feature - The earth is his calling
One Sunday afternoon over five years ago, Michael Manulak's father called him into the family room to see a wildlife program on TV. He was left dumbfounded by the sight of an emaciated polar bear struggling on and then crashing through thin arctic ice - another victim of global warming. The film moved Manulak to form a student environmental group in 2001. Manulak and his team couldn't have imagined that their organisation would one day be leading an international project in India. He says his motivation is driven by the message of St Francis of Assisi.
28 Feb 2007

Opinion - Funeral speech tips from Aristotle
The launch of the Sydney archdiocese's Guidelines for Speaking in Remembrance of the Dead invites serious reflection on what we do when we speak at funeral ceremonies. The delivery of a funeral oration is a most significant event. This oration takes the Gospel to people who are extremely vulnerable in their grief and hence utterly open to receiving the Word if it is properly presented to them. A good speech is not easy but Aristotle may have useful advice that could mean the difference between a successful and a failed speech - Fr Andrew Murray
28 Feb 2007

New "Padre Pio" awaits his Lenten torment
With 33 busloads of pilgrims and up to 10,000 people expected at a planned Sunday appearance by alleged stigmatic Br Elia, Naples Church authorities has cancelled the event citing fears over the Capuchin monks' growing fame and popularity.
27 Feb 2007

Letters reveal young Castro's faith in God
Although he later renounced his Catholic faith, newly published letters from the young Fidel Castro reveal that the revolutionary believed in God and in eternal life even as he led the uprising that would transform Cuba.
27 Feb 2007

Sydney South Head ceremony for lost kayaker
Naval chaplain, Fr Stuart Hall, yesterday conducted a memorial service at Sydney's South Head for Andrew McAuley, while the lost Trans-Tasman kayaker's father asked "where would we be if people were not prepared to venture out of their own cocoon of safety and follow their aspirations?"
27 Feb 2007

Presbytery to become Boree Log museum
The parish of St Mel's Narrandera in the NSW Riverina region is transforming its historic presbytery into a museum honouring former parish priest, the late Fr Patrick Hartigan, who was better known as the writer John O'Brien, author of the iconic "Around the Boree Log" poems.
27 Feb 2007

Doubts raised over adult stem cell research
Enquiries by a British scientific magazine have raised questions about a 2002 finding that adult stem cells may be as useful as embryonic ones but the study author and Leuven Catholic university employee has denied that the flaws affected her conclusions.
27 Feb 2007

Senate sidesteps bishops' citizenship concerns
The Senate yesterday passed controversial amendments to citizenship laws despite a warning from the Australian bishops that the new "confrontational approach" could backfire and discourage people who face difficulty in learning English from applying for citizenship.
27 Feb 2007

Feature - Sisters put McKew on right track
With her polished ABC vowels and attractive looks, Maxine McKew looks and sounds as if she were born into a life of comfort. But like her Labor Party patron, Kevin Rudd, John Howard's new political foe comes from a scattered family and a good Catholic education background. Just as Rudd came under the influence of the Marist Brothers when boarding in Brisbane, so the nuns were an early influence on the young McKew, now 53 - Andrew Fraser
27 Feb 2007

Opinion - Disbelief is easy but faith takes a lifetime
Writing in The Age last week, Catherine Deveny says she wasn't given an option about being a Catholic. But she has in fact exercised her undeniable right to choose to leave. She is not alone; many people born to a culture of organised religion find it intolerable, and I don't blame them. So why do I stay? The Church as I know it is a living, flawed entity full of varied, ordinary people who want nothing but good for others as well as themselves and who try to help the marginalised - Juliette Hughes
27 Feb 2007

Termites undermine Singapore nuns
Nuns from a Singapore contemplative Carmelite community will leave their monastery together for the first time since World War II after termites undermined their convent threatening the roof with collapse.
26 Feb 2007

Daycare turns women into "birthing machines": German bishop
German Bishop Walter Mixa has caused a storm with comments condemning a government plan to expand childcare facilities as degrading women and turning them into "birthing machines" who quickly have to return to work.
26 Feb 2007

Ramos-Horta seeks Catholic nod for Timor presidency
After consulting with East Timor's Catholic bishops and with incumbent president Xanana Gusmao, Nobel Peace Prize winner and Prime Minister, Jose Ramos-Horta has announced that he will be a candidate for the country's presidency in April elections.
26 Feb 2007

Religious instruction alternatives lack colour
Children in NSW state schools who do not attend religion classes by government-authorised Anglican, Catholic, Islamic and Buddhist instructors should study comparative religion rather than cleaning playgrounds, watching videos or colouring-in, a parents groups says.
26 Feb 2007

Current flows at first Disability Council event
In an event described as an important first for the Australian Church, the inaugural meeting of the Australian Catholic Disability Council has taken place in Sydney last week as Caritas calls on the Government to tackle discrimination against disabled people.
26 Feb 2007

Major report warns of "gated" communities
Disadvantage multiplies once a community starts to fall behind according to a major Jesuit and Catholic Social Services-commissioned "postcode" report moving Jesuit Fr Peter Norden to warn that communities will increasingly become "gated" if the problems are not tackled now.
26 Feb 2007

Feature - Young magician brings liturgy's magic to life
A magic trick isn't normally part of proceedings at your everyday church service. But last year one school's graduation liturgy cast a different spell on proceedings. St Mary's Gateshead in the NSW central coast had a magician in their ranks and they used him to his full potential. Joel Howlett performed a magic trick using three rings while St Paul's Letter to the Corinthians - "Love is patient and kind" - was proclaimed. The world-renowned 17-year-old magician's performance went off without a hitch and no one at Sacred Heart Cathedral flinched - Josh Callinan
26 Feb 2007

Opinion - A new Anglicanism?
Instead of long-predicted schism, the Anglican Communion's Tanzania meeting last week helped create a different kind of Anglicanism of the first decade of the twenty-first century. The developing world is coming to the fore as a mature power within the Communion in this decade. In the last century, the liberals of the North Atlantic would have prevailed with their notion that the Church should be able to accept varying views on a moral issue like homosexuality. But this position lost out in Tanzania - R William Franklin
26 Feb 2007

Trappists can't swallow Eggs Benedict
Citing comments by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict, criticising industrial methods of keeping chickens, the animal rights group PETA has called on a Trappist community to shut down its "cruel" egg production facility.
23 Feb 2007

Washington turns on lights for confession
In a novel attempt to bring people back to confession, the Archdiocese of Washington DC has launched a Lenten billboard and radio blitz with the slogan "The light is on for you."
23 Feb 2007

Natural family planning as good as pill, study finds
The Catholic-backed sympto-thermal method of natural family planning has been found by a German study to be as effective in preventing pregnancies as the contraceptive pill, with researchers also surprised to find a low rate of unintended pregnancies among women who had unprotected sex during their fertile period.
23 Feb 2007

Sydney's St Vincent's Hospital faces funding crisis
A general surgical ward at Sydney's St Vincent's Hospital remains closed after funding negotiations between the hospital and the NSW Health department broke down, causing the government to send in an auditor to study the hospital's accounts.
23 Feb 2007

Pax Christi welcomes British plan to withdraw Iraq troops
Pax Christi NSW has joined its British counterpart in welcoming the news that the UK government is to withdraw at least 1,600 troops from Iraq in the next few months.
23 Feb 2007

Catholic schools to reject Govt chaplaincy program
Sydney Catholic Education Office Director, Br Kelvin Canavan, has written to more than 180 Catholic schools advising that his office has decided not to support the Federal Government's new chaplaincy funding program.
23 Feb 2007

Feature - Catholic writers' groups foster literary revival
The table is too small for the dozen writers gathered in a coffeehouse in a trendy part of St Paul, Minnesota. As they sip their coffees, all ears are attuned to one young woman as she reads her fictional story about a World War I soldier. The group is one of several literary efforts underway in the US aimed at supporting existing Catholic writers and fostering new ones. "I have no idea what loop you have to be in to get into some of these publications," said David Deavel, a regular attendee - Tim Drake
23 Feb 2007

Opinion - Emerging from reconciliation wilderness
Whilst certain aspects of Indigenous culture are now occasionally celebrated in national life, the scandalous levels of Indigenous poverty, discrimination, and lack of genuine self-determination, remain. Like the ancient people of Israel, it seems that Australia experienced the miracle of crossing over into new political territory with the 1967 Referendum, only to wander for 40 years into that desert of frustration we now call "reconciliation". For Jews and Christians, the number 40 has always been much more than a mere mathematical figure - Revd Dr Jonathan Inkpin
23 Feb 2007

Manly parish in last ditch immigration appeal
Nearly 400 Mass-goers from Sydney's Mary Immaculate Manly parish have signed a last-ditch appeal to the Government to prevent plans to deport a young Sierra Leone man whose sister was raped to punish him.
22 Feb 2007

Sri Lanka claims rebel grenade, cyanide find in church
Sri Lankan government troops claim to have discovered in a Catholic church grenades, cyanide capsules and equipment belonging to rebel forces as the country's new environment minister calls for "extra-judicial" means for dealing with "dissidents".
22 Feb 2007

Vatican call on Catholics to build Papua peace
The Holy See nuncio to Indonesia has urged Catholic villagers in Indonesia's Papua province to practise Christian values and build inter-communal harmony in areas known for tribal conflicts.
22 Feb 2007

Cardinal says lay people prophets of our time
Describing lay people as "prophets of our time", Holy See Apostolic Penitentiary head, Cardinal Francis Stafford has called for the laity to develop social "networks of reconciliation" to help stem the fall in Mass attendance.
22 Feb 2007

Funerals for prayer not eulogies: Pell
Warning that some Catholic funerals are in danger of losing their essential nature and becoming mere settings for eulogies, Sydney Cardinal Pell has issued new guidelines that aim to preempt inappropriate or awkward moments.
22 Feb 2007

Lent for conversion not self-fulfilment, Benedict says
In an Ash Wednesday homily to mark the beginning of Lent, Pope Benedict described it as an invitation to inner change and said fasting other Lenten practices are spiritual "weapons" in the fight against evil, wicked passions and vices.
22 Feb 2007

Feature - The first temptation of Christ
You may remember, a few years back, there was a storm of protest and criticism of a film called The Last Temptation of Christ. Even before it had opened it was denounced as blasphemous by some religious leaders. The film's central idea is that Jesus, while free from sin, was subject to every temptation that humans face, including fear, doubt, loneliness, depression, reluctance and lust. It puzzles me why the film was so controversial. The idea that Jesus was tempted is unambiguously in scripture and is in fact the subject of the gospel for the first Sunday in Lent.
22 Feb 2007

Opinion - A tale of two Americans
Two very different Americans are arriving in Australia this week. The reception each will receive and the messages they have for Australia could not be more different. US Vice-President Dick Cheney is arriving today to talk up the US-Australia alliance and shore up our commitment to Iraq. The other American visiting us this week is Fr John Dear, one of the leading voices for peace in the US. Fr Dear is not interested in pacifism in the sense of nice people doing nothing. He is interested in transforming society away from a culture of death towards a culture of life - Justin Whelan
22 Feb 2007

Benedict blesses Wielgus and encourages return to ministry
Saying that he was fully aware of the circumstances in which resigned Warsaw Archbishop Stanislaw Wielgus served under the former Polish communist regime, Pope Benedict has encouraged the prelate to return to active ministry.
21 Feb 2007

Vietnamese democracy priests arrested
Weeks after Pope Benedict met for the first time with Vietnam's Prime Minister, the country's security forces have detained two activist priests from Ho Chi Minh City and the central city of Hue.
21 Feb 2007

Cappo committee in call for SA mental health revamp
The South Australian government has committed to implementing 33 recommendations from the Social Inclusion Board chaired by Adelaide's Msgr David Cappo which has called for sweeping changes to the state's mental health care system.
21 Feb 2007

Vic police confirm US investigations of former priest
A Warrnambool detective has confirmed that US authorities have been in regular contact with Victorian police as part of their investigations of alleged offences committed by a jailed former priest, Paul David Ryan.
21 Feb 2007

Columban calls for Catholic stand on GM food
The use of new genetic engineering technologies in the production of food crops poses unknown health risks, Columban Fr Charles Rue says, in a call for an informed Catholic voice on genetically modified foods in the lead up to the NSW election.
21 Feb 2007

Conscience more than a GPS: Bishop Fisher
Speaking prior to a major international conference in Rome on Christian conscience and the right to life, Sydney Bishop Anthony Fisher said that conscience is not like a new car's street navigator telling a driver to turn here or stop there.
21 Feb 2007

Feature - Life's lessons from the dying
By the week's end she had deteriorated further. Jack sat, as usual, by her bed his right hand resting on hers. I explained the process of dying and said that I did not think it would be long. There was a pause. Finally Jack looked up at me and asked "Doctor, can't you give her a needle?" I had heard the question before. I knew that the sentence would end with "a needle to end her suffering". But the sentence did not end that way. The sentence ended in a way that was so different and unexpected - Dr Frank Brennan (palliative care physician)
21 Feb 2007

Opinion - Is Catholicism really green at heart?
Just two years ago it was considered weird and somewhat fringy to spend time considering the link between Catholicism and the environment. Now it is very common to see workshops, lectures and discussion on eco-living and being "stewards of creation". It seems the Church is responding to the grassroots cry for a Catholic voice to be added to the universal concern for the environmental crisis. But as we enter Lent, a traditional time for reflection, it is vitally important the Church takes time to stand back and truly consider its position - Mary Colwell
21 Feb 2007

Cradles to save Indian girls
Mumbai Archbishop Oswald Gracias has welcomed a "cradle scheme" launched by the Indian government to encourage parents to adopt out and not abort their female babies in an effort to redress the "alarming" national female/male ratio.
20 Feb 2007

Italian PM tries to defuse same sex union row
After Pope Benedict again attacked Italy's proposed bill to legalise same sex unions, Prime Minister Romano Prodi's government yesterday held meetings with top Vatican officials in an attempt to defuse the row.
20 Feb 2007

"Pancakes for poverty" on menu today
Bunbury Bishop Gerard Holohan has launched this year's Project Compassion appeal in his diocese with a traditional pancake breakfast while the Melbourne archdiocese is inviting Australians "to reflect upon how our relatively affluent lifestyle impacts on the world's poor".
20 Feb 2007

Christian activist accuses Govt over security bungle
Bryan Law, one of four members of a Christian peace group arrested in 2005 at the Pine Gap spy base, has accused the Federal police of violating security laws after they provided the protesters with classified video footage of the arrest scene.
20 Feb 2007

Peace train attack "inhuman": Indian Cardinal
The Indian Church has condemned an attack on the "peace train" linking India and Pakistan that killed at least 66 people as an "inhuman" tragedy caused by people "blinded by hate and ignorance".
20 Feb 2007

No chance of early Anglican-Catholic union
Brisbane Archbishop John Bathersby has poured cold water on an overnight report suggesting that the Anglican and Catholic churches are close to agreement on a proposal for unity.
20 Feb 2007

Feature - Moral intelligence
There are different ways of being intelligent, of being awake. Some people are gifted mathematically and philosophically. Some others are gifted with emotional intelligence. Then there is something that might be called moral intelligence. What is this? Sometimes we call it depth or wisdom or character. Whatever its name, moral intelligence is a sensitivity to the deeper contours within life. Where does it come from? I suspect, in most cases it is in part the product of a certain kind of suffering and humiliation - Fr Ron Rolheiser
20 Feb 2007

Opinion - Ash Wednesday did not begin in 1983
When I was a little kid, I thought Ash Wednesday was synonymous with bushfires. There was a kind of hushed tone reserved for the name; a natural disaster that seemed to me to have scared the pants off fire-fighters, homeowners and volunteers alike in the town I grew up in. So I remember it was a big surprise when I learned that Ash Wednesday was first of all a date in the Christian calendar and not, in fact, a day that began in 1983 - Kylie Crabbe
20 Feb 2007

Canadian diocese to close confessionals during flu pandemic
Catholics will not be able to receive communion on the tongue and no confessions will be allowed in enclosed confessionals, according to draft influenza pandemic guidelines prepared by a Canadian diocese.
19 Feb 2007

Opus Dei film seeks big name actors
Opus Dei will collaborate on a feature film on the life of its founder, St Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer, for which the producers hope to recruit big name Hollywood actors like Robert De Niro and Antonio Banderas.
19 Feb 2007

WYD to re-enact Jesus' passion and death
Former opera stage director and Melbourne priest, Fr Franco Cavarra, has been named as Creative Director for an elaborate Stations of the Cross through the heart of Sydney during World Youth Day next year.
19 Feb 2007

Former priest Ridsdale says sorry
Saying he had finally realised the damage he had caused to hundreds of people, convicted pedophile former priest Gerald Ridsdale has apologised to his victims and their families.
19 Feb 2007

Church "behind the game" on energy: Bishop Toohey
Bishops Commission for Justice and Service chair, Bishop Chris Toohey, says that the Church is "behind the game" in terms of energy use with many buildings old and energy wasteful.
19 Feb 2007

Non-violence a "way of being", Benedict says
Non-violence is not merely tactical behaviour but rather "a personal way of being" based on love, Pope Benedict told pilgrims at yesterday's Angelus in which he also remembered the Lunar New Year celebrated in parts of Asia.
19 Feb 2007

Feature - Opus Dei down to one top Vatican official
With the resignation of Cardinal Julian Herranz as President of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts last week, Opus Dei has now lost two of three positions as heads of Vatican offices it once held under Pope John Paul II. While the two resignations were for reasons of age, the departures of Herranz and Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls nevertheless represent a step back from the high water mark of Opus Dei's influence in the Vatican under John Paul's pontificate - John L Allen
19 Feb 2007

Opinion - Dehumanising Muslims can be deadly
Rwandan Muslims were once politically negligible, constituting 5 per cent of the population. Then came the genocide of 1994. Churches became slaughterhouses. Some brave priests and nuns lost their lives resisting the genocide but many others were complicit. Meanwhile, the Muslim Kigali neighbourhood remained a sanctuary. Masses of Christians, incapable of returning to the churches in which their families were slaughtered, have converted to Islam. Today, Muslims constitute around 15 per cent of the population. If we are to listen to visiting Israeli professor Raphael Israeli, Rwanda must now be heading for disaster - Waleed Aly
19 Feb 2007

Blood oozes from Indian Jesus statue, bishop confirms
Jabalpur, India Bishop Gerald Almeida has called on Catholics to engage in "soul searching" after the eyes of a life-size statue of the Sacred Heart in a church yard began to ooze a blood-like substance.
16 Feb 2007

Young women begin peace fellowship
The Australian bishops have selected seven women from three states for the second Young Catholic Women's Interfaith Fellowship program which promotes young women's participation in the Church.
16 Feb 2007

Slovak Church seeks answers on WWII and communist era role
Slovak bishops have established a council to "search for a correct answer" regarding the Church's role during the period covering World War II and the communist era.
16 Feb 2007

Catholic media group calls for action on Pacific "crisis"
Concluding a Melbourne assembly, representatives of Catholic media outlets in the Pacific region have called on the media to play a "robust" role to help alleviate "the spiralling social, economic and political crisis that plague many of our nations".
16 Feb 2007

Vics trade "religious fundamentalism" accusations
Former Victorian Labor premier John Cain has warned against a political resurgence of religious "fundamentalism" following the election of Catholic DLP parliamentarian, Peter Kavanagh, who responded by accusing the former leader of inflaming prejudices.
16 Feb 2007

Brisbane's first Nigerian seminarians arrive
After a gruelling 75 hour journey, the first batch of four Nigerian seminarians recruited to alleviate a priest shortage in the Brisbane archdiocese have arrived to continue their training.
16 Feb 2007

Feature - Fiji: a coup like no other?
I visited Fiji in January and was easily able to talk to a good range of people about the coup in December of last year. The general view is that the government under the military is doing good things. People are glad that corruption is being exposed, officials are being scrutinised, and government costs are being cut. It seems that people are accepting that at the root of the coup is the issue of justice - share in political voice and share in the distribution of goods - Fr Andrew Murray
16 Feb 2007

Opinion - Inter-church families: pioneers of Christian unity
There was a time when "mixed marriages" were looked upon as a problem. People were discouraged from marrying someone from another denomination, for fear that their Catholic faith would be put at risk. Today, however, many claim that those in "inter-church marriages" - couples who remain engaged in the life of their own church - are pioneers. These families are witnesses not just to the possibility of unity in the Church but also to a way of life that is enriched rather than torn apart by diversity - Fr Gerard Kelly
16 Feb 2007

Paper palms needed this year
As Pope Benedict releases his message for Lent, NSW parishes are requesting people to bring their own palms to this year's Palm Sunday services after the drought drastically cut the supply of fronds.
15 Feb 2007

No sacraments for Indian families favouring child marriage
Indian Bishop Joseph Gomes and his West Bengal priests have banned at least a dozen Catholic families from the sacraments for three years after supporting marriage of children as young as six years old.
15 Feb 2007

Excommunicated "mystic" on trial over new abuse charges
William Kamm, a self-proclaimed mystic known as the "Little Pebble", yesterday faced fresh charges in a Sydney court of beginning a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old follower selected as one of his "queens".
15 Feb 2007

First Catholic crematorium opens in Sydney
Australia's first Catholic crematorium will open in suburban Sydney this Saturday with a Mass to be celebrated by Sydney Cardinal George Pell, who nevertheless said that burial still remains the "preferential" option.
15 Feb 2007

Marriage still for life, most people believe
A worldwide survey of 25,000 people from 46 countries has found that 70 per cent of people still believe that marriage should last for life, with Catholics and Muslims in Asia heading the poll.
15 Feb 2007

300,000 Lebanese rally for Muslim-Christian unity
As church bells tolled and a muezzin called Muslims to prayer, a crowd of 300,000 Lebanese gathered for a huge rally in Beirut that opened with a renewed call for Christian-Muslim unity.
15 Feb 2007

Feature - Master rosary maker gives back to God
Born with Down syndrome, Eddie DePauw will never find the cure for cancer but he has the potential to change lives around the world. Eddie is a "master missionary rosary maker." As a member of local rosary makers group in Illinois he has been responsible for helping the group send approximately 3,200 missionary rosaries to people in hospitals, nursing homes and chapels in the US as well as missions overseas over the last seven years. Commitment is what makes Eddie such a valuable member of the group - Jennifer Willems
15 Feb 2007

Opinion - The campaign against Pius XII
Reasonable people can debate whether Pope Pius's strategic decision to avoid an explicit, public condemnation of Nazism to saving lives was the correct one. But it takes a certain bias, contradicted by many facts, to conclude that this decision was taken on the basis of cowardice. It takes even worse bias to conclude that it was taken because of anti-Semitism. Why, then, the campaign of defamation, which has reached the point where one overhears tourists in St Peter's Basilica, spotting the bronze statue of Pius XII erected by his cardinals, whispering, "That's 'Hitler's Pope'"? - George Weigel
15 Feb 2007

Sex good, love great, bishops say
While the UK Church advises people to pray to the Archangel Raphael - the patron saint of "happy meetings" - to find love, Australia's bishops in their Valentine's Day message say that sex is good and love is sacred.
14 Feb 2007

Vinnies opens budget grocery store
The Society of St Vincent de Paul will next month open an innovative budget grocery store as part of a neighbourhood renewal project in the Victorian Ballarat suburb of Wendouree West.
14 Feb 2007

Church organist guilty of mother manslaughter
A Victorian jury yesterday found a church music director and Australian Catholic University student not guilty of bashing his obsessive mother to death with a hammer but guilty of manslaughter.
14 Feb 2007

Africa, Asia lead Church growth
Africa and Asia now account for over 20 per cent of Catholics in the world, according to figures just released by the Holy See, while overall the Church is keeping pace with the rate of population growth around the world.
14 Feb 2007

N Korea nuclear deal averts catastrophe, Cardinal says
Welcoming an agreement announced in Beijing yesterday for North Korea to wind down its nuclear program in exchange for fuel relief, Seoul Cardinal Nicholas Cheong Jinsuk said the deal had "averted a catastrophe of unimaginable consequences".
14 Feb 2007

Vatican official identifies faith-science "areas of conflict"
Issuing a call for reconciliation between faith and science, the president of the Vatican's science and social science academies, Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, has identified three key "areas of conflict" between the two domains.
14 Feb 2007

Feature - Long road to justice for Japan's WWII "comfort women"
In 1942, Jan O'Herne's nightmare began. She was captured by the Japanese in Java and was forced into sexual slavery as a ''comfort woman'' for the soldiers. Mrs O'Herne never told her friends and her children about her wartime rapes. "I felt so ashamed, so dirty, so soiled, so different, I didn't want anybody to know," she says. But with the help of her Catholic faith, she had long ago made peace with herself, forgiving the Japanese soon after the war ended for what they had done - Penelope Debelle
14 Feb 2007

Opinion - Fundamentalism driving faithful away from Church
Recent years have witnessed a growth in religious fundamentalism throughout the world. Regrettably similar trends are also taking roots in our own Church. The large majority of Catholics are liberal, thinking and practising their faith. Unfortunately their views are not given due consideration by the clergy and editors of Catholic publications and bulletins. Sometimes their opinions are dismissed as anti-Catholic due to fear that they may have negative influence on others - Dr Chris Anthony
14 Feb 2007

Catholic students suspended for cyber-bullying principal
At least 11 students at a Toronto Catholic school have been suspended for cyber-bullying after posting comments on the internet about the school's principal who had enforced a ban on electronic devices on the school campus.
13 Feb 2007

Canadian bishop attacks mobile porn
Archbishop Raymond Roussin of Vancouver, Canada, will direct Catholic institutions to terminate their contracts with a mobile phone company which has introduced a service offering pornographic photos and videos available through its network.
13 Feb 2007

Priest condemns re-opening of Aust mine in Philippines
The parish priest of St Florentina on Rapu Rapu island in the central Philippines has condemned the re-opening of an Australian-owned mine on the island after the government lifted a 15-month suspension of operations owing to earlier tailing spills.
13 Feb 2007

Aust needs strong non-profit sector, priest says
A capable non-profit "third sector" is necessary if Australia is to achieve economic resilience, social inclusion and stronger, more confident communities, according to Jesuit Fr Michael Kelly.
13 Feb 2007

Portugal to legalise early abortion
The Portuguese government says it will go ahead with plans to legalise abortions in the predominantly Catholic country even though a weekend referendum on the issue failed to attract the quorum required for a binding vote.
13 Feb 2007

Benedict praises volunteering, warns against activism
Praising volunteering as a "school of life", Pope Benedict has warned against allowing the experience to degenerate into "simple activism".
13 Feb 2007

Feature - Restoring the Latin Mass a delicate act
The Pope has long-held and passionate convictions about liturgy, sketched in many of his books. In his understanding, the rites, both of East and West, belong first of all to the whole Church. The different families of rites structure the ways in which Christians worship, think and act. Like the great declarations of Christian faith, they are a gift to the Church and grow organically within the Church. From this perspective, the extensive changes to liturgy that followed Vatican II are problematic - Fr Andrew Hamilton
13 Feb 2007

Opinion - A call to defend priestly celibacy
Guided only by the secular press over the last 30 years, many young men could have come to believe that priests in general are unhappy in their vocation and resentful of their celibacy. We priests need to show by word and example that we are in fact happy in our vocation to the priesthood. The so-called crisis of priestly celibacy is really a crisis of all forms of lifelong intimate commitment. The cultural forces attacking celibacy are the same ones undermining and devaluing marriage - Fr Pat Stratford
13 Feb 2007

Sydney priest seeks to honour Aust-US friendship
Sydney priest Fr Paul Hilder is looking for the crest of a World War II US naval destroyer that saved the lives of 627 Australian sailors for display in a church honouring friendship between the US and Australia.
12 Feb 2007

Witchcraft destroying African church, experts warn
Warning that witchcraft is real and is destroying the Catholic Church in Africa, scholars from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa say that many African priests fear witchcraft or are ignorant of their power to confront the devil.
12 Feb 2007

Jewish scholar courts controversy over "blood libel" claims
A book by an Italian-Israeli historian who claims there is a factual basis for medieval allegations of ritual murder of Christians has drawn fire from Jewish and Catholic scholars.
12 Feb 2007

Spies bedevil Peruvian environmental priest
A Peruvian security firm has launched a campaign of spying and intimidation against environmental activists and priests including one who was dubbed "the devil", according to documents revealed by a local newspaper.
12 Feb 2007

Catholic Health backs Govt aged care package
A Howard Government proposed $1.5 billion package of assistance for aged care will deliver high care services more equitably and take financial pressure off providers, according to Catholic Health Australia head, Francis Sullivan.
12 Feb 2007

Women overlooked in workplaces: Vatican envoy
While equal pay for equal work is accepted as a principle of labour policy, United Nations Holy See envoy Archbishop Celestino Migliore says that women in the workplace "are still too often overlooked or undervalued".
12 Feb 2007

Feature - A young nun defends The Vagina Monologues
If the vagina's pop culture debut came through The Vagina Monologues on 14 February 1998, it seems to me that its male sexual counterpart had centre stage all to itself for quite a long while. Having grown up with several brothers, I practically needed a penis dictionary to translate the endless double entendres that poured out of them. I, however, was not afforded the same luxury. The belief that it is inappropriate for women to discuss the functions of their reproductive system is extremely detrimental. It leads to keeping anything connected with our vaginas a secret - sexual abuse being among them - Sr Mary Eve
12 Feb 2007

Opinion - The transformation of liberation theology
My encounter with Catholicism in Africa was a challenging experience of contrasts and paradoxes. On the one hand, there was a vibrant sense of a Church that takes its place at the forefront of the struggle for justice, so that, if liberation theology itself has become somewhat exhausted, its message has seeded itself in the grassroots life of the Church of the poor. On the other hand, it is still a Church capable of stifling Christ's incarnational presence through an excessive emphasis on hierarchical values ill-suited to cope with the struggle against HIV/AIDS - Tina Beattie
12 Feb 2007

No Catholic endorsement for Darwin: Austrian cardinal
Vienna Cardinal Christophe Schonborn says that while the Church rejects creationism he wants to correct a misconception that the Church has given a blanket endorsement to Darwinian evolution theories.
9 Feb 2007

Venezuela bishop slams Rice "lies"
Venezuelan Archbishop Roberto Luckert has slammed comments by Condoleezza Rice as "lies" after the US Secretary of State claimed that the Venezuelan Church was "under fire" from President Chavez and that American officials have met with Venezuelan Catholic authorities.
9 Feb 2007

Edmund Rice researcher endorsed by NSW Greens
Citing climate change, water and public transport issues as the focus of his concerns, researcher Ben Spies-Butcher is leaving the Edmund Rice Centre to contest the forthcoming NSW state elections on behalf of the Green Party.
9 Feb 2007

Caritas wants to hold leaders responsible for aid promises
Two leading international Catholic development networks are targeting the world's richest and powerful countries with a campaign to "make aid work" which aims to ensure that international leaders meet promises to eliminate poverty in the world's poorest countries.
9 Feb 2007

Act now on climate change: US bishops to Congress
It is time for the US to come together to address the moral, human and environmental dimensions of global climate change, the head of the US Catholic bishops' international policy committee says in a letter to American legislators.
9 Feb 2007

Benedict sings praises of lay movements
Praising lay movements as a gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church, Pope Benedict says that communion between bishops and the movements could be the spark needed for a renewed commitment to "proclaiming and witnessing the Gospel of hope and love".
9 Feb 2007

Feature - Communion singing
According to the liturgy documents, the communion song begins while the priest is receiving the Sacrament and continues for as long as the Sacrament is being administered to the faithful. Delaying the song encourages people to adopt an attitude of individual quiet reflection at this point rather than the union of spirit appropriate to this rite. Despite logic, it is common for the communion procession to take place in silence or to be accompanied by quiet instrumental music and for a communion hymn to be sung after communion has finished. Why is it so? - Elizabeth Harrington
9 Feb 2007

Opinion - Does Jesus love Osama?
Scores of Baptist churches around Australia have been displaying large posters with the words, "Jesus loves Osama". The poster is part of a series of advertisements designed to promote what it sees as "the heart of the gospel". But the notion that the Son of God would demonstrate affection for the world's most wanted man, and that Christian churches might want to point out this gospel truth to commuters and pedestrians, is news to Australia's news media - Rev Rod Benson
9 Feb 2007

China's Guangzhou goes Gothic again
The historic gothic Sacred Heart Cathedral in the Chinese southern city of Guangzhou is set to re-open after two years of renovation as authorities release official figures showing that China's population of religious believers has reached 300 million, including 40 million Catholics.
8 Feb 2007

Indonesia-Timor commission promotes reconciliation
A joint Indonesia-East Timor "truth and friendship" commission has begun work to search for the truth about events in Timor leading up to the 1999 independence vote and to promote reconciliation, an Indonesian bishop and commission member says.
8 Feb 2007

Austrian mall owner excommunicated over abortion clinic rental
An Austrian bishop says that a Catholic businessman who rented space in his shopping mall to an abortion clinic has incurred automatic excommunication for formally cooperating in the killing of unborn children.
8 Feb 2007

Sudanese refugee cuts "abominable": Sydney bishop
Outgoing Sydney Vicar for Immigration, Bishop David Cremin, has slammed a plan by new Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews to cut the intake of refugees from war-torn Sudan as "abominable".
8 Feb 2007

Face truth about fossil fuels, Bishop Toohey says
Responding to a major UN report on climate change, Bishops' Commission for Justice and Service chair Bishop Chris Toohey says that it is time to face the "uncomfortable truth" about reforming the production and use of energy.
8 Feb 2007

Death penalty violates Gospel, right to life: Vatican
Renewing its attack on the death penalty, the Holy See says that it is difficult to justify its use today and warns that the practice is an affront to human dignity and "the evangelical teaching of forgiveness."
8 Feb 2007

Feature - Supporting the spiritual pathway on campus
Commencing tertiary studies is a daunting prospect for new students and trying to blend into the academic, secular surroundings of a large university can lead many young Catholics to put on "a cloak of invisibility". But according to University of Western Sydney chaplain Br Pat Thompson, the perception of higher learning institutions as dangerous places where "spiritual values are being lost" ignores the nature of the academic journey. "The academic quest is also a spiritual pathway," he says - Dan McAloon
8 Feb 2007

Opinion - Terminating the confusion over euthanasia
Euthanasia is well and truly on the agenda throughout the world. It is becoming increasingly difficult to sort the fact out from the fiction. There is a lot of confusion generated by the nature of the topic: the end of life. How should we approach this matter? I suggest some key questions need to be addressed, including what is and is not euthanasia. It is almost certainly true that a majority of Australians cannot distinguish between the two - Fr Michael Whelan
8 Feb 2007

Polish priests want to marry
Citing feelings of loneliness, isolation and misunderstanding, a survey by a Polish Catholic weekly has found that up to 60 per cent of priests in the late Pope John Paul II's central European homeland want to marry and have families.
7 Feb 2007

Thieves trash Melbourne priest's home
A Melbourne parish priest, Fr Jim Clarke, arrived back from a weekend trip to find that thieves had trashed his home causing $10,000 worth of damage, leaving candle wax and crockery scattered throughout his home.
7 Feb 2007

Priest accuses NZ Govt over refugee double standard
Dominican priest, Fr Peter Murnane has accused the New Zealand government of double standards after a Catholic Iranian man was denied asylum while an Iranian gay man facing similar threat of persecution was accepted as a refugee.
7 Feb 2007

Vatican clamps down on controversial bishops
Controversial US Bishop Thomas Gumbleton has been denied permission to speak in an Arizona diocese after the Holy See nuncio ordered him to seek leave from local bishops before speaking publicly.
7 Feb 2007

Uniya warns over low Australian engagement in Asia-Pacific
A new study by Uniya Jesuit Social Justice Centre has found that there is still significant goodwill in the Asia-Pacific region towards Australia but director Mary Bryant warns that the level of Australian involvement in the region remains "worryingly low".
7 Feb 2007

"Personal parish" for French Latin Mass Catholics
A French Cardinal who has created a "personal" or non-territorial Tridentine rite parish in his diocese says that Pope Benedict has now received a commission report regarding the broader use of the pre-Vatican II Mass but that the Pontiff will take his time deliberating.
7 Feb 2007

Feature - Pope Benedict a candidate for Mormon baptism
Pope Benedict was baptised at birth and will most likely be baptised again one year after his death, not by the Catholic Church but by a Mormon he never met. The Mormons encourage members to baptise the dead by proxy in the belief they are helping the deceased attain full access to heaven. So Benedict looks set to join his predecessor John Paul and a centuries-long list of popes Mormons have baptised - Tom Heneghan
7 Feb 2007

Opinion - Non-violent saint shows way
In 1938, the Nazis rumbled into Austria and it seemed everyone but Franz Jagerstatter, a farmer and devout Catholic, supported the Anschluss. He dared to speak openly against Hitler and refused conscription into the army. The Nazis imprisoned, tried and executed him in 1943. Death, terrible and certain. And early. With what strength did he face it? For starters he had come to the same conclusion as Gandhi, that non-cooperation with evil is as much a duty as cooperation with good - Fr John Dear
7 Feb 2007

Senator congratulates home-grown Sisters
Good Samaritan Sisters ex-student and Federal Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells has delivered a message of congratulations for the Prime Minister on the occasion of the Sisters' sesquicentenary celebration at a Sydney service on Friday.
6 Feb 2007

Indian Catholics mark Gandhi non-violence centenary
Mohandas Gandhi personified simplicity, truth and purity, according to an Indian Catholic youth leader, as India marks the centenary of the non-violent movement founded by the Mahatma.
6 Feb 2007

Love the heart of WYD, says Benedict
Citing Jesus' commandment to love others in his message for this year's World Youth Day, Pope Benedict has called on young people to "dare to love" and not just become more "competitive" and "productive".
6 Feb 2007

Pell named to Vatican economic council
Pope Benedict has named Sydney's Cardinal George Pell to a new Vatican post as a member of a council dealing with organisational and economic issues for the Vatican.
6 Feb 2007

Vinnies denies "sacking" claims
The St Vincent de Paul Society has hit back at claims that seven former volunteers of a Newcastle Vinnies team were "sacked", saying that the volunteers voluntarily quit after refusing to sign new child protection agreements.
6 Feb 2007

Sydney Uni approves pro-life deed for land
In a multi-million dollar deal approved by Sydney University's Senate last night, St John's Catholic College is to cede land to the university for a cutting-edge medical research centre subject to a pro-life deed banning fetal stem cell research.
6 Feb 2007

Feature - When the one you love doesn't feel the same
It's the subject of great literature from Don Quixote to The Great Gatsby. It's the emotions behind ballads from the Eagles to Coldplay. Unrequited love is a love that isn't reciprocated - and it's something that most of us have experienced. Unrequited love can lead to depression and in its most extreme forms, stalking and other questionable behaviour. But most of the time, unrequited love just feels like a slow punishment. And some young adults wonder why God is allowing them to feel this way - Dr Christine B Whelan
6 Feb 2007

Opinion - The untold human story of the Iraq war
According to the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, the Iraq war has precipitated the largest long-term population movement in the Middle East since the displacement of the Palestinians in 1948. In the current climate of religious hostility, Iraqi Christian minorities are particularly vulnerable. With the humanitarian crisis escalating, the response of countries better able to lend assistance - countries that bear a greater moral responsibility to lend assistance due to their involvement in the war - has been belated and inadequate - Georgina Pike
6 Feb 2007

Jesus party wigs draw fire
A Vatican official has described the sale of Jesus fancy dress kits including beard and plastic crown of thorns as blasphemous after the "Jesus party wig" went on sale within walking distance of St Peter's.
5 Feb 2007

No more meetings for Bishop Joe
After more than 30 years as auxiliary for Melbourne archdiocese, Bishop Joe O'Connell, who also worked on the Vatican commission for the revision of canon law, is retiring with a vow to keep serving - but never attend another meeting.
5 Feb 2007

Adelaide Vicar General in new crime fighting initiative
Adelaide archdiocese's Vicar General Msgr David Cappo will meet with crime victims as well as the families of young gang members at the centre of a suburban crime spree after being asked by the state government to develop a plan to address Aboriginal youth crime.
5 Feb 2007

Vinnies volunteer crisis over "sackings"
Amid accusations of "corporatisation" of the St Vincent de Paul Society, seven Vinnies volunteers from a Newcastle parish have been dismissed by the organisation after refusing to sign agreements that the volunteers liken to AWAs.
5 Feb 2007

Vatican expert warns against "criminalisation of religious opposition" to gays
Noted US Vaticanologist John L Allen has warned against a trend towards "criminalisation of religious opposition to homosexuality" following a UK Government decision to refuse to allow Catholic adoption agencies to bar services to gay couples.
5 Feb 2007

Love life, Pope exhorts
Praising the family as the cradle for life and vocations, Pope Benedict has issued a new appeal to respect human life as "a work of God" that "should not be denied to anyone".
5 Feb 2007

Feature - The grammar of peace
As a worldwide community, we face numerous obstacles in our attempt to bring about true and lasting peace between all peoples. Not least among these difficulties is the fact that although it sounds as if we are all speaking the same language of peace, it sometimes appears that there is no agreement on the rules that govern this vernacular. Without this "grammar of peace", all our loud clamouring for peace will in fact destroy peace as we become more divided into a Babel-like confusion of ideologies - Archbishop Denis Hart
5 Feb 2007

Opinion - Catholics in the Liberal Party
The new ministerial line-up brought the number of Catholics in cabinet from six to eight. Eight out of 18 is a substantial bloc. One of the long-term effects of a substantial Catholic presence on the political culture of the Liberal Party is that it is a party more comfortable about describing itself as conservative than in Menzies' time. Notwithstanding "the spirit of Vatican II", Catholicism is an inherently conservative institution, hierarchical and monarchical in its structure and reliant on precedent and tradition - Christopher Pearson
5 Feb 2007

Historical twist as Melbourne Mercy school celebrates 150 years
Melbourne's Academy of Mary Immaculate school in inner city Fitzroy, founded 150 years ago this year by Mother Ursula Frayne, now has a school co-captain descended from a cousin of the Australian Mercy Sisters pioneer.
2 Feb 2007

Milingo seeks light from Moon
Excommunicated Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo, who recently formed a self-styled personal prelature for married priests, is in Seoul this month with his Korean wife to study the religion of the Reverend Moon Sun-myung's Unification Church.
2 Feb 2007

Contribute positively to peace, Sri Lankan bishops tell rebels
Expressing dismay over a recent spate of killings, disappearances and kidnappings in their war-torn country, Sri Lanka's Catholic bishops say they are shocked at the deteriorating situation and are calling on the rebel Tamil Tigers "to contribute positively" to the peace process.
2 Feb 2007

Priests coerced into collaborating with Communists: Czech Cardinal
Prague Cardinal Miloslav Vlk says that under communism many priests "weren't heroes" and succumbed to pressure to collaborate with the former government but he remains confident that the Czech Church will be spared a scandal similar to that in Poland.
2 Feb 2007

Priest calls for "new partnership" in community services
Saying that not much has changed since Jesus first told the parable of the Good Samaritan, Catholic Social Services chairperson, Fr Joe Caddy, has called for a new government, church and community partnership "to create a genuinely fairer and better world for all".
2 Feb 2007

Benedict to Mid East Christians: Resist temptation to emigrate
Pope Benedict has issued a call to Christians from the Middle East region to be "courageous and steadfast" and not fall to the temptation to emigrate.
2 Feb 2007

Feature - The impact of Ronald Ryan's execution
Tomorrow is the 40th anniversary of Australia's last judicial hanging, the execution of Ronald Ryan. For many, the hanging represents an important moment in their political awakening. For those who had some more prominent role to play in the execution drama, the emotional scars run even deeper. Former Pentridge prison governor Ian Grindlay was deeply affected by the execution and his health suffered badly because of it. A devout Catholic, he would say a prayer for Ryan every day of his life until his own death in 1984 - Mike Richards
2 Feb 2007

Opinion - Let us advance Australia's anthem
During the 2004 Olympics it was obvious that "Advance Australia Fair" had seen off the challenge mounted by "Waltzing Matilda" to be considered as our national anthem. Now that "Advance Australia Fair" is widely accepted as the official national anthem - as distinct from a government decree that it will be our anthem - it is worth examining its words. First sung in Sydney in 1878, the anthem has words many of which may have been suitable in their time but today seem heavily dated - Br Regis Hickey
2 Feb 2007

Dan Brown's publisher gets rights to Benedict's "Ratzinger Code"
Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code publisher has gained US rights to Pope Benedict's forthcoming book on the life of Jesus, dubbed the "Ratzinger Code" by an Italian newspaper.
1 Feb 2007

Korean Catholics welcome exoneration of executed activists
The Korean Catholic Human Rights Committee has hailed a decision by a Seoul court to exonerate eight pro-democracy Korean activists who were executed 33 years ago on trumped up treason charges.
1 Feb 2007

Portugal to decide on abortion legalisation
The Portuguese Church is leading the campaign to oppose efforts to legalise abortion in a national referendum on the issue to be held this month with one bishop describing abortion as a "variation of capital punishment".
1 Feb 2007

Child abuse "out of control", warns youth advocate
Commenting on new statistics which show that reports of child abuse have nearly doubled since 2001, Sydney youth advocate Fr Chris Riley says that the phenomenon is "out of control" and is regarded by some as "normal behaviour".
1 Feb 2007

New Mass a challenge: Archbishop Coleridge
Canberra Archbishop Mark Coleridge, a member of a Holy See committee for revising a new English translation of the Latin Missal, has called for patience during a "messy transition time" as Catholics get used to the new translation which he says "offers great riches".
1 Feb 2007

Vatican denounces reporter's "shameful" confessional scoop
An Italian journalist who visited confessionals while posing as a HIV-positive man wanting to use condoms found that the advice of most priests varied from Church teaching but the Holy See has denounced the investigation as a sacrilegious search for a "shameful scoop".
1 Feb 2007

Feature - What ants can teach us
Ants are no friends to farmers. My husband would most certainly concur! Each year he faces what feels like a losing battle trying to smooth our pastures due to the ever-increasing number of ant mounds. So somehow it feels a bit like an oxymoron to suggest that ants, one of the smallest and most annoying of God's creatures, know the key to being successful. Believe it or not, pondering the life and works of "the ant" has given me fresh inspiration time and again - Annette Bridges
1 Feb 2007

Opinion - Sustainable youth ministry
While occasional events, such as World Youth Day, draw thousands of young people into active and conscious participation in the life of the Church, it is not the story of youth ministry writ large. Indeed, following the conclusion of these large-scale events, it seems pertinent to ask the question "What now?" Dioceses and parishes have long struggled to establish effective and long-lasting youth ministry programs, grappling with the complexities of turning well-intentioned policy into practical and sustainable outcomes - Daniel Ang
1 Feb 2007