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NEWS ARCHIVE FOR APRIL 2007

   
Kissinger in conclave at Vatican
Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger is staying at the Vatican's Domus Sanctae Marthae - residence of the conclave cardinals who elected Pope Benedict - while he participates in a Holy See seminar on charity and justice.
30 Apr 2007

Thousands already on way to WYD
Only 50 days after registrations opened, more than 1,000 groups representing 65,000 participants have already enrolled for next year's World Youth Day in Sydney, organisers say.
30 Apr 2007

Schools beset by mobile phone, MySpace issues
Reports are emerging from Catholic schools in NSW and Victoria of a spate of mobile phone and MySpace incidents including bullying, bad language and graphic photos.
30 Apr 2007

Children tap into divine consciousness, meditation guru says
Children live in states of divine consciousness and bliss and should be taught meditation from as early as five, visiting Benedictine monk Fr Laurence Freeman says - and teachers confirm that the practice reduces aggression among students.
30 Apr 2007

Tas church presses for school anti-discrimination exemption
Hobart Archbishop Adrian Doyle is calling on the Tasmanian government to revise anti-discrimination laws that make it technically illegal for Catholic schools to give enrolment priority to Catholic children.
30 Apr 2007

Adelaide church workers get police checks - Archbishop included
All Adelaide church workers and volunteers will require police checks, the city's archdiocese has announced - and top church officials including Archbishop Philip Wilson will be among the first to undergo the checks.
30 Apr 2007

Feature - Activist grandmother moves outside comfort zone
June Norman is not some radical, dreadlocked ratbag, although she has been arrested for her protesting. She is a woman with five children and seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, from a conservative background who has simply decided to live a life less ordinary. She splits her time between working in East Timor as a teacher, originally with the Catholic agency PALMS, and in Australia as an activist. At 67, she's a latecomer to the activism thing - Kathleen Noonan
30 Apr 2007

Opinion - US Democrats praying for victory
With the 2008 election cycle in the United States already well underway, a burning question-mark hovers over the Democratic Party in its attempt to build on its 2006 success in Congress and to recapture the White House: can it "get" religion? The real problem for the Democrats over the last several election cycles has not been so much particular candidates, but a perception that the party is in thrall to highly secularised special interest groups who are hostile to religion on principle - John L Allen
30 Apr 2007

Barcelona tunnel threatens Gaudi's Cathedral
A planned bullet-train tunnel will pass within two metres of the wall of the Sagrada Familia cathedral designed by Antonio Gaudi, threatening the Barcelona landmark, engineers fear.
27 Apr 2007

Glass ceiling shattered at church supplier
A Sydney woman, Ms Viviana Hood, has been appointed as the new CEO of parish and school supplies giant, Church Resources.
27 Apr 2007

Priest calls for compensation for mudflow victims
An Indonesian priest has called for compensation for thousands of villagers who have lost their homes and livelihoods after an explosion at a part Australian-owned gas pipeline triggered a huge mudflow.
27 Apr 2007

Don't leave climate change to scientists: Cardinal Martino
Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace head, Cardinal Renato Martino says that everyone needs to be concerned about climate change, not just scientists.
27 Apr 2007

Benedict calls on G8 to cancel debt
In a letter to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Pope Benedict has called for "the rapid, total and unconditional cancellation" of the debt of the world's poorest countries.
27 Apr 2007

Govt "canonised" economy, Manning claims
In a renewed attack against federal industrial relations laws, Parramatta Bishop Kevin Manning says that "the Government has canonised the economy" through WorkChoices, as Broome Bishop Christopher Saunders releases a statement to mark the feast day of St Joseph the Worker.
27 Apr 2007

Feature - The school that shaped Rudd's faith and politics?
Much of opposition leader Kevin Rudd's youth has been well documented. But one aspect of his life he likes to gloss over is the two years he spent boarding at one of Brisbane's elite Catholic boys schools after his father died, perhaps because it was such a traumatic experience, or perhaps it does not fit with the hard-luck personal narrative he has woven to appeal to aspirational voters. Acknowledged or not, Rudd's time at Ashgrove reveals much about the child he was and the man he would become - Cosima Marriner
27 Apr 2007

Opinion - Benedict to set agenda in Brazil
There are very strong reasons why Benedict's attendance at the upcoming Brazil meeting will enter into South American history, just as did - for other reasons - two of the continental meetings that preceded it: the one in Medellin, Colombia in 1968, and the one in Puebla, Mexico in 1979. The address that John Paul II delivered in Puebla had a strong impact, inaugurating the decade-long battle that Rome would fight and win, with the unyielding support of then-Cardinal Ratzinger, against the Marxist utopianism disguised as liberation theology - Sandro Magister
27 Apr 2007

Crowds bag a bargain at Vinnies sale
A fashion frenzy hit the streets of Liverpool in south western Sydney on Monday when the local Vinnies store's $10 bag clothing sale began.
26 Apr 2007

Book on Mercy pioneer launched
Opposition leader Kevin Rudd's star recruit and former journalist, Maxine McKew, has launched a new book on Elizabeth McQuoin, the pioneering Mercy nun who helped found a congregation in Sydney.
26 Apr 2007

Nigeria's bishops join critics of presidential poll
The head of Nigeria's bishops conference, Archbishop Felix Alaba Adeosin Job, has joined human rights groups in denouncing the recent violence-marred presidential elections.
26 Apr 2007

Youth program launched in Griffith - but council not happy
Griffith Mayor Dino Zappacosta has hit out at Fr Chris Riley of Youth off the Streets, which was launched in the NSW city at the weekend, over his alleged failure to involve the council in addressing youth violence issues.
26 Apr 2007

Women's groups concerned over helpline privacy
Women activists have expressed concerns over the Government's 24-hour pregnancy helpline which will store recorded conversations between callers and counsellors for seven years.
26 Apr 2007

Peace education begins at home, Vatican tells Buddhists
In its annual message to the world's Buddhists as they celebrate their Feast of Vesakh, the Vatican says that interreligious harmony is possible even in areas ravaged by war, starting with peace education in "ordinary homes".
26 Apr 2007

Feature - Why we should leave our Missals at home
I was interested to read about research carried out by the University of NSW which shows that the human brain processes and retains more information if it is digested in either its verbal or written form, but not both at the same time. What, you may well ask, has this got to do with liturgy? The researchers themselves provide the answer. They question the wisdom of habits such as reading along with Bible passages at the same time they are being read aloud in church - Elizabeth Harrington
26 Apr 2007

Opinion - Cloning lobby raises false hope
We read recently of the Brisbane woman who flew to India to receive injections of embryonic stem cells into her spinal injury. It is one of the unhappier jobs of a doctor to tell a patient he or she is a victim of false hope. But somebody has to do it, and guide them back to reality and any genuine hope for treatment. Some patients can be desperate for miracle cures, grasping at anything. The cloning lobby knows that raising false hope is the most effective approach - Dr David van Gend
26 Apr 2007

Benedict gets kangaroo slippers and a recyclable throne
Organisers of Pope Benedict's upcoming visit to Brazil are making him a throne of recyclable materials while a Italian shoe manufacturers have given the pontiff 15,000 pairs of shoes for the poor plus a kangaroo hide pair for himself.
24 Apr 2007

Mexican Catholics protest abortion legalisation plans
Thousands of placard-carrying marchers descended on the Mexico City's Catholic cathedral yesterday in a mass protest against a proposal to allow abortions to be performed in the Mexican capital.
24 Apr 2007

Save Iraq Christians, Bishop appeals
Lamenting that the Church in Iraq is disappearing under continued persecution, the Chaldean Archbishop Louis Sako of Kirkuk has launched a new appeal for unity between people in Iraq.
24 Apr 2007

Experts concerned over Latin Mass slight to Jews
Catholic and Jewish experts are concerned that relations between the faiths may go backwards if plans to revive the Latin Mass allow prayers for conversion of the Jews to be reinstated.
24 Apr 2007

Turkish Christian murder suspects on terrorism charges
Four young men and a woman have been charged with terrorism offences over the murder of three workers at a Christian publishing house in the eastern Turkey city of Malatya.
24 Apr 2007

Western culture open to Christianity, Wilson affirms
Admitting that the times are not easy for the Church, the bishops conference president, Archbishop Philip Wilson of Adelaide, says that Western culture remains open to Christianity and that there are grounds for optimism.
24 Apr 2007

Feature - New era requires new "imagination" of faith
Our present manner and method of passing on the faith is not adequate. The faith as we treasure it is not being received by present generations. To preach effectively in this era of stark materialism and faithless self-gratification requires a "new imagination" beyond anything we have experienced before in our lives. This imagination is the ability to create images - to cope with what we are experiencing in our pastoral endeavours and to cast aside images which are no longer helpful - Bishop Christopher Saunders
24 Apr 2007

Opinion - Anzac Day celebrates humanity, not nationhood
From the Christian perspective any attempt to attribute large significance to Anzac Day and to wars is suspect. When we say that people sacrificed their lives for an abstract cause like victory or nationhood, we easily imply that their lives and deaths are given value only by the cause they serve. We lose sight of the preciousness of each human life, and equate human value with usefulness. Rhetoric about war is particularly vulnerable to this instrumentalising of human beings, because its core business implies that human lives are expendable - Fr Andrew Hamilton
24 Apr 2007

Gen Y want justice
Sax-playing Honduran Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez and political cartoonist Fiona Katauskas have called on 300 young people at the Sydney Festival for Global Concern to follow their passion and "just work for justice".
23 Apr 2007

Melbourne priest pours cold water on PM's rain prayers
As the nation's political leaders discuss emergency water conservation plans, Archbishop Philip Wilson has taken up Prime Minister John Howard's call to pray for rain - but a Melbourne priest says the prayer is "pointless".
23 Apr 2007

"Tragic" Beijing bishop dies
China's top state-appointed Bishop Michael Fu Tieshan of Beijing who was never recognised by the Holy See has died at the age of 75, leaving China's most important episcopal see vacant as Pope Benedict prepares to publish a letter to Chinese Catholics.
23 Apr 2007

Catholic employment body calls for $27 wage rise
In a submission to the Government's Fair Pay Commission, the Church's industrial relations body has called for the minimum wage to be increased by $27 a week so that an average family will achieve "an acceptable standard of living".
23 Apr 2007

Trainers seek $12 million compo over Benedict's WYD visit
NSW racehorse trainers claim that the two-day World Youth Day event with Pope Benedict at Randwick racecourse next year will cost them up to $12 million in relocation expenses.
23 Apr 2007

Unbaptised children out of limbo, Benedict rules
In a long-awaited document published on Friday, the Vatican says that the traditional view of limbo as the destiny of those who die unbaptised is based on an "unduly restrictive view of salvation" and that God "wants all human beings to be saved".
23 Apr 2007

Feature - The Anzacs "known unto God"
Like many Anzacs that Belgian morning, Lieutenant Leo Corrigan, of Waverley, NSW, was almost certainly soaked from the waist down before he set off. Corrigan bumbled into the bog, his rosary beads nestled in a tunic pocket. We don't know how far he had plodded when a shell hit him, killing him instantly. Deidre Shannon believes her uncle was a kindly soul and that his mother never recovered from his loss. "I feel having lost him, so tragically, so young, with her hope that he would be a priest, his loss would have been a great thing to her" - Patrick Carlyon
23 Apr 2007

Opinion - Latin Mass document is coming but little will change in real world
Anyone who has ventured into the Catholic blogosphere recently is aware that speculation about a motu proprio - a document under the pope's personal authority - on the pre-Vatican II Mass has been at a fever pitch for months. In part, the frenzy has been stoked by a series of over-anxious news reports containing rumoured release dates. At the risk of raining on the "motu-mania" parade, however, it's worth noting that many experts believe this breathless anticipation will, in the long run, seem excessive in terms of the document's real-world impact - John L Allen
23 Apr 2007

UFO photographed over Vatican
UFO buffs are claiming that a strange light spotted in a Polish tourist's photo of St Peter's Basilica in Rome may in fact be a "UFO craft".
20 Apr 2007

Suffering witness to faith, says jailed Vietnamese priest's brother
A Perth man whose brother, Fr Nguyen Van Ly, was recently sentenced by a Vietnamese court to eight years for political activities, says that the dissident priest has converted many people to Catholicism, including prisoners and guards, during his many years in prison.
20 Apr 2007

Communion wine banned from Kiwi prisons
In a restriction described by a New Zealand party leader as "political correctness gone mad", Kiwi prison authorities have banned the taking of communion wine into prison, saying that they have no legal discretion to grant an exemption.
20 Apr 2007

Telstra chief signs on for WYD
Describing the internet as an opportunity to spread the Gospel message, Telstra chief Sol Trujillo has announced that the company has signed a letter of intent to supply communications services for next year's World Youth Day.
20 Apr 2007

Benedict meets new UN Secretary-General
On his first trip to Europe as the new UN Secretary-General, South Korean Ban Ki-moon met with Pope Benedict and has invited the pope to visit the international body's headquarters in New York.
20 Apr 2007

Arrests over Turkey Bible publisher murders
Turkish police have arrested ten young men as suspects in the throat slitting murders of three people at a Protestant Bible publishing house.
20 Apr 2007

Feature - The work of the Church in Mandalay
For the central Burma archbishop, the local Church's biggest challenges are forming priesthood candidates, continual formation for priests and empowering laity. For almost four years, since he was appointed to head Mandalay archdiocese, Archbishop Paul Zinghtung Grawng has been stressing that his role is that of a servant who animates, supports and coordinates the Church's apostolate work. As he joked to 30 Catholic young people at his 68th birthday celebration last month, he carries out Church activities "like a 28-year-old, who has forgotten 40 years" of his life.
20 Apr 2007

Opinion - Now it's "real" women's turn to be commodified
Many women were thrilled to see Dove's magazine and TV ads featuring older women apparently proud of their wrinkles, potbellies, and sagging skin. The women in the ads are white, black and several colours in between. Real beauty, we're told, comes in all shapes and sizes. Who could disagree with that? Well, when I first saw these ads on television, my eyebrows were raised and I murmured, "That's refreshing." But, about ten seconds into the commercial, I felt a creeping sense of discomfort. There was something terribly cynical about the whole thing - Maura Hanrahan
20 Apr 2007

Miss Mexico mocks Catholic martyrs
Mexican Catholics are outraged over a floor-length dress adorned with crosses and scapulars as well as images of the executions of 1920s Cristero martyrs that the country's Miss Universe contestant had planned to wear.
19 Apr 2007

Tsunami town welcomes WYD cross
Fourteen days after a major earthquake and tsunami ravaged the western Solomons diocese of Gizo, the World Youth Day cross and icon has arrived in the hard hit region.
19 Apr 2007

Catholic students better finishers
Students who attended Catholic high schools had a higher rate of university completion than students from other schools, according to a study by the Australian Council for Education Research.
19 Apr 2007

Four killed in Turkey bible publisher attack
Three people had their throats cut and a fourth person also died after jumping from the third floor office in a bid to escape from an attack on a Christian publishing house in Malatya, Turkey.
19 Apr 2007

Vic Parliament votes for cloning
Despite opposition from Melbourne's Catholic and Anglican archbishops, Victoria's parliament has adopted a bill legalising "therapeutic" cloning, with 15 MPs crossing the floor in a conscience vote.
19 Apr 2007

Faith key to avoiding clash of civilisations: Benedict
As Pope Benedict warns that Christian faith is key to avoiding a clash of civilisations, Australia's bishops have invited Christians, Muslims and Jews to a meeting on the role of religion in achieving Middle East peace.
19 Apr 2007

Feature - Proclaiming the "Gospel of Work"
The Church's attention in recent years has been constantly directed on the social question, and in particular on that of work. We remember the encyclical Laborem Exercens published in 1981 by my well-loved predecessor John Paul II. This reaffirmed and updated the great intuitions developed by Leo XIII and Pius XI during Europe's industrialisation period. In a context of economic liberalism conditioned by market forces, of competition and competitiveness, these documents forcefully call on the need to evaluate the human dimension of work and to protect the dignity of the person - Pope Benedict XVI
19 Apr 2007

Opinion - Preparing students against malice
Ever since the 1999 Columbine High School massacre, "lockdown" is a word that's been dropped into student handbooks across America. When shots are heard, go immediately into a protective lockdown mode and await further instructions. But how do you lock down a sprawling campus? Malice can find its way into the minds and hearts of persons young or old. Once there, malicious intent can release destructive force. Prevention failed at Virginia Tech but preparation, through counselling centres and campus ministries, is always possible - Fr William J Byron
19 Apr 2007

Pope not infallible, book proves
Catholic bloggers are light-heartedly claiming that the pope is not infallible after discovering a number of minor errors in Pope Benedict's newly published book Jesus of Nazareth.
18 Apr 2007

Lasallian Foundation launches today
At a Melbourne ceremony tonight, the De La Salle Brothers will launch the Lasallian Foundation in support of the congregation's projects in developing countries including India, Burma and Papua New Guinea.
18 Apr 2007

Muslim woman raped for reading bible, prosecutor alleges
A Sydney man charged with sexually assaulting a practising Muslim woman allegedly told her to "let your Jesus help you" after she listened to Christian preachers and read the bible.
18 Apr 2007

Spirit willing but sex rules religion, survey discovers
A study of 20,000 Australians shows that while religious believers are most likely to be against premarital sex and pornography, their attitudes did not appear to stop them taking part in these activities.
18 Apr 2007

UK Caritas calls on World Bank chief to resign
The British Caritas development agency, CAFOD, has called for the resignation of embattled World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz saying that he has lost his credibility in the fight against corruption.
18 Apr 2007

Ban guns, Christians leaders plea in wake of US shooting
Following yesterday's tragic killing of 32 people at the Virginia Tech University, American and world Christian leaders have called on US authorities to end easy access to guns.
18 Apr 2007

Feature - Abortion's conscientious objectors
The distaste at performing abortions combined with ethical and religious convictions has led to an unprecedented increase in the UK in the number of doctors who refuse to carry out the procedure. Catholic general practitioner James Gerrard is among the growing list of conscientious objectors refusing to refer patients seeking the operation. "I had made my mind up on abortion before entering the medical profession," he says. "I have not come up against any aggression because of my stance ... I think people understand it is a personal choice and respect that."
18 Apr 2007

Opinion - The Catholic position on IR laws
The world has come a long way since the discourse of the inevitable class conflict between capital and labour prevailed. We have moved towards a better balance of the rights of employers and employees, and that balance is what Catholic social teaching seeks to articulate. Yes, there is a Catholic position on industrial relations, and it is nothing less than that the preservation of the balance between the rights of employers and employees. When this balance is tilted one way, and the disadvantaged are denied redress, the Church must speak - Bishop Kevin Manning
18 Apr 2007

Bumper year for German church tax - but people still leaving
In a boon to Germany's Catholic Church, the country's economic boom has boosted the collection of church taxes by 800 million Australian dollars over the last two years - but people are still leaving in droves.
17 Apr 2007

China bishop still missing
A non-government recognised Chinese bishop from Shaanxi province in Central China is still missing a month after government official detained him to attend a three-day "learning class".
17 Apr 2007

Bishops launch consultation on "disconnected Catholics"
The Australian bishops' Pastoral Projects Office has released the full report of a research project into "disconnected Catholics" as the project moves to its second consultative stage.
17 Apr 2007

Indigenous Catholic mission hit by child sex claims
The remote West Australian Catholic mission of Kalumburu is in turmoil after police flew three 12-year-old girls out of the town after discovering an alleged pedophile ring involving a community leader working at a local school.
17 Apr 2007

Opus Dei link alleged over World Bank contraception policy deletion
World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz is being accused of undermining the Bank's commitment to women's health after appointing an El Salvadorian Catholic with alleged links to Opus Dei who reportedly removed all references to contraception in the Bank's Madagascar program.
17 Apr 2007

Call for sacking of Catholic rep on Timor election body
Dr Damien Kingsbury, an Australian observer at last week's East Timor presidential election, has called for the replacement of Fr Martinho Gusmao, the Church's representative on the country's election commission, over bias allegations.
17 Apr 2007

Feature - Kindness of strangers lost on tribe
The news I'd been reading on the plane home just after Easter was mostly of broadcaster Alan Jones and the media watchdog's findings on his contributions to enlightenment during the Cronulla riots. Jones' reflexes on air were not unlike those of the lithe young fellow next me on the plane: assertive and territorial as his biceps shoved me off the armrests during the flight and his person shoved me out of way as soon as we landed. A "power of one" he may be, but Jones also makes a powerful appeal to the tribal in all of us - Morag Fraser
17 Apr 2007

Opinion - Mexican Church's waning influence
A recurring episode in Mexican history has been a periodic reappraisal of the Catholic Church's role in the overwhelmingly Catholic society, which has usually resulted in a lessening of its power. Such a moment has again arrived, with the catalyst being the proposed decriminalisation of abortion in the nation's capital. But abortion is not the only issue that illustrates the Church's waning influence on social issues. A recent series of events has reinforced what has long been true: the Church now, more than ever, is not Mexico's pre-eminent moral guide - Patrick Corcoran
17 Apr 2007

Central American countries ban "Antichrist"
A Puerto Rican-born ex-drug addict who has the number 666 of the Antichrist tattooed on his arm but claims to be Jesus Christ has been banned from entering three Central American countries.
16 Apr 2007

Xavier college reeling over fight videos
Melbourne's Xavier College says that a video of an alleged wheelie bin bullying incident was a student hoax but a new video has emerged showing students from the elite school fighting in front of a crowd of other pupils.
16 Apr 2007

Wadeye school seeks compensation over "discrimination"
Our Lady of the Sacred Heart School in Wadeye Aboriginal community, south-west of Darwin, is seeking an apology and compensation for alleged discrimination that has caused it to miss out on millions of dollars in federal funding.
16 Apr 2007

Vatican envoy backs down over holocaust museum boycott
In a move welcomed by Jerusalem's Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum, the Holy See nuncio to Israel has reversed his decision to boycott a memorial ceremony because of his concerns over the museum's wartime photo of Pius XII.
16 Apr 2007

ACU lecturer faces battle over "unorthodox opinions"
Australian Catholic University theology lecturer Fr Daniel Donovan is fighting a complaint by a former student that he taught that the concept of original sin was not in the bible as well as other allegedly "unorthodox" views.
16 Apr 2007

Benedict turns 80 today
As Germans and other pilgrims flocked to the Vatican to pay tribute to Pope Benedict as he turns 80, the pontiff has thanked God's "divine mercy" for sustaining him in his "weakness".
16 Apr 2007

Feature - The real Ratzinger stands up
If the danger of the John XXIII and Paul VI era was throwing the baby out with the bathwater, the chief risk in today's politics of identity cuts in the opposite direction, towards rigidity and exaggerated defensiveness - a sort of "Taliban Catholicism" that knows only how to excoriate and condemn. Potentially, Benedict XVI's legacy may lie in pointing a way around these shoals. Given all that he represents, Benedict is in a unique position to illustrate that one can embrace Catholic fundamentals without becoming a fundamentalist - John L Allen
16 Apr 2007

Opinion - Bullying flourishes in any school
The recent scandal over the bullying allegedly caught on mobile camera at Melbourne's Xavier College seems to surprise some people: this is after all a prominent private school noted for its religious affiliations. But those who are surprised forget one crucial thing: despite its expensive amenities and spiritual values, Xavier is in the end still a school, and schools are hog-heaven for bullies. Bullies still bully, usually without sanctions. The ones who deny this are typically either bullies or their teacher-colluders - Juliette Hughes
16 Apr 2007

Dante's muse still wins hearts
Beatrice, the idealised muse of medieval Italian poet Dante Alighieri, is still winning hearts as young singles from around the world leave notes on her tomb in an 11th century Florence church seeking her intercession.
13 Apr 2007

Vic Mercies take over Albury hospital
In an emotional ceremony, the Goulburn Mercy Sisters have handed over the running of Albury's Mercy Hospital to their Melbourne counterparts.
13 Apr 2007

Requiem for Lismore priest car accident victims
Indian Fr Charles Kakumanu and American Fr Stephen O'Donnell who were killed in a tragic car accident on the Pacific Highway near Coffs Harbour have been farewelled following a packed Requiem Mass at Lismore's cathedral.
13 Apr 2007

Learning Latin Euro-centric: Japanese cardinal
Japanese Cardinal Stephen Fumio Hamao has rejected a call by Pope Benedict to learn Latin prayers and Gregorian chant as Euro-centric and "impossible for Asians", saying that Vatican officials treat Africans and Asians as second or third class.
13 Apr 2007

Students suspended over mobile phone bullying incident
In another incident at Melbourne's elite Xavier College, five students have been suspended after a mobile phone video of a student being kicked and dragged along the ground by other students was distributed at the school.
13 Apr 2007

Vatican boycotts Holocaust ceremony over "offensive" photo
Citing the failure of a Jerusalem museum to remove an "offensive" photo caption criticising Pius XII, the Holy See nuncio to Israel is refusing to take part in an annual diplomatic ceremony to commemorate the Shoah.
13 Apr 2007

Feature - Tribute to nameless Christian innovators
All humans and not just historians yearn to assign names to singular achievements. The name of St Benedict attaches to the Rule that he compiled out of several preceding ones. Once his Rule began to establish itself after 650AD, a need arose to know something about such an influential abbot. That is how the supposed life of this saint came to be written. Given how many Christian innovators remain nameless, I am grateful that we at least know the name of St Benedict - Will Johnston
13 Apr 2007

Opinion - Coping with retirement
You may be familiar with the adage, "the one thing you can count on is change". It is difficult to disagree with this statement, particularly in these uncertain times. Change is an unavoidable part of life, yet we sometimes struggle to come to grips with new stages in life. Retirement from the workplace is a major transition that most of will have to manage. Many of you will have been through this stage of life. Men and women deal with this experience in various ways - John R O'Neill
13 Apr 2007

Bishops pressure wins Maccas pay rise
McDonald's in the US has agreed to a substantial pay rise for low-paid tomato-picking farm workers after intensive lobbying by American religious congregations and bishops.
12 Apr 2007

Samurai on way to beatification, Cardinal believes
A number of samurai who chose non-violence in spite of their fighting skills are among 188 mostly lay Japanese martyrs expected to be beatified in November, according to Tokyo-born Cardinal Stephen Fumio Hamao.
12 Apr 2007

Brisbane priest in national youth homelessness inquiry
Youth advocate and Brisbane priest, Fr Wally Dethlefs, who is one of four members of a national panel looking into youth homelessness, says that the phenomenon is growing.
12 Apr 2007

Police seize Xavier college cannabis
Police has seized a small quantity of cannabis that Xavier College in Melbourne had earlier confiscated from a student but the Victorian Premier is backing the college's right not to report the matter to police.
12 Apr 2007

Hart confronts Bracks over cloning legislation
Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart has called on Catholic state premier Steve Bracks to reconsider plans to introduce a proposed Victorian law that would legalise the cloning of human embryos for medical research.
12 Apr 2007

Benedict's backs "theistic evolution"
In remarks published in a new book yesterday, Pope Benedict refused to endorse "intelligent design" theories, instead backing "theistic evolution" which considers that God created life through evolution with no clash between religion and science.
12 Apr 2007

Feature - Timor kids win beauty queen's heart
Caroline Pemberton, who was last week crowned Miss World Australia, is serious about using her status to help others, as a recent trip to East Timor with Fr Chris Riley shows. "It was my first purely humanitarian trip and my first with Youth Off The Streets", Caroline says. In Timor for a week, Caroline's time was spent mainly with the kids, playing and showing them love. "They were 16 hour days. Every waking moment was spent playing with the kids", she says. "We were 'on duty', as Father called it" - Matthew Smeal
12 Apr 2007

Opinion - Pope Benedict's Easter homilies in full
The incredulity of Thomas and his following profession of faith - "My Lord and my God!" - are at the centre of the message that Benedict XVI addressed to the world on Easter Sunday. But little or nothing of this proclamation of the risen Christ was picked up by the major media outlets. These highlighted only the list of countries stricken by wars and calamities. There is a limit beyond which the words of Benedict XVI do not go. They reach completely only those who listen to them in person - Sandro Magister
12 Apr 2007

71-year-old nun protester jailed
American Sr Sheila Salmon will go to jail later this month after being convicted of trespassing at the site of the notorious former School of the Americas whose graduates tortured and killed scores of people including four US church women.
11 Apr 2007

Real "Da Vinci code" finally translated
Nearly 500 years after it was written, a manual on magic and the power of numbers written by Leonardo Da Vinci's best friend and teacher, Franciscan monk Luca Pacioli, has finally been translated into English.
11 Apr 2007

Catholic college in student drug bust
Melbourne's exclusive Xavier College has expelled one student and suspended three others over their alleged sale and purchase of marijuana but critics say the school should have reported the matter to police.
11 Apr 2007

ACU honours Indigenous performer
After a career spanning more than 50 years, the Australian Catholic University has awarded acclaimed Indigenous performer Jimmy Little an honorary doctorate.
11 Apr 2007

Madrid cardinal ousts biscuit priests
The Spanish Church is in uproar over the closure by Cardinal Antonio Rouca Varela of a Madrid parish run by three priests who celebrate Mass wearing plain clothes and with biscuits for children instead of the traditional communion wafer.
11 Apr 2007

Zimbabwe bishops end "criminal silence" on Mugabe
As the Pax Christi peace movement calls for prayer and action for Zimbabwe, a local political analyst says that a pastoral letter by the country's bishops calling for the removal of the Mugabe regime may help end the crisis.
11 Apr 2007

Feature - Cambodia's floating church
It was a sight that was totally unexpected for a group of Singapore Catholics holidaying in Cambodia recently. The group was taking a leisurely boat ride down the Siem Reap River when one of them spotted a wooden cross on top of a wooden structure from afar. As the boat drew nearer, they discovered to some excitement that the wooden structure was that of a Catholic church. So happy were the holidaymakers to see such an unusual sight that they asked their guide to make an unscheduled stop - Sia Cheong Yew
11 Apr 2007

Opinion - Women's rights and wrongs
Unfortunately, because feminism has become so inextricably linked to evils like abortion, divorce, promiscuity, the destruction of the traditional family and even the destruction of our sense of ourselves as male and female, many Christians take a reactionary stance against it. This is dangerous both because it makes it difficult to dispel the feminist myth that Christianity is fundamentally sexist, and because it can prevent Catholics from supporting much needed social reforms that are completely in line with Church teaching - Melinda Selmys
11 Apr 2007

Priest expels weeping statue man
Western Australia's Rockingham parish priest, Fr Finbarr Walsh, has expelled a self-styled visionary who has a "weeping" statue of the Virgin and is reputed to have Christ's wounds, saying that the apparitions, wounds, and statues' tears may be fake.
10 Apr 2007

Malawi Catholics seek injunction against Aussie uranium mine
Malawi's Catholic justice commission has joined other NGOs in a legal bid to block Australian mining company Paladin from opening a controversial uranium mine because an environmental impact assessment allegedly fails to address mining effects on local people.
10 Apr 2007

Save "sacred earth", Scottish cardinal says
Flying less and planting more trees are not enough to avoid a devastating environmental catastrophe, Edinburgh Cardinal Keith O'Brien is warning.
10 Apr 2007

Adelaide bishop slams curriculum "commissars"
Warning that moves to promote a centralised national curriculum for schools risk enshrining "faddism" and placing decision making in the hands of Canberra "boffins", Adelaide Bishop Greg O'Kelly has called for schools to be consulted about any changes.
10 Apr 2007

Vinnies face trial over bias allegations
A leading Vinnies volunteer who is a non-Catholic is suing the Society for religious discrimination after it advised her to either become a Catholic, resign her elected position, or leave the Society.
10 Apr 2007

Benedict blasts Iraq slaughter
"Nothing positive comes from Iraq", Pope Benedict lamented in his Easter message while Australian churches filled in what Sydney Cardinal George Pell earlier attributed to a post 9/11 religious reaction.
10 Apr 2007

Feature - African bishop defies Vatican on condoms
Freedom Park is just one of a half-dozen squatter camps that are home to 100,000 people near South Africa's border with Botswana. They sit in the shadow of platinum mines, which rely on migrant labour. The men come for contracts of a year or two, and leave their families at home. In the wake of the miners come the women, fleeing poverty. It's the ideal environment for the spread of HIV. There are so many women here with stories of pain. The local bishop Kevin Dowling heard them, and he did what he knew was the right thing: distributed condoms - Stephanie Nolen
10 Apr 2007

Opinion - Doubt is the essence of faith
Easter is one of the times when even nominal Christians like to celebrate, but many are perplexed by hearing, all over again, stories that strain their faith. And that raises more general questions about Christianity, including questions about the veracity of biblical accounts of what Jesus is supposed to have said and done. Scepticism is appropriate. That's precisely why it's all a matter of faith. If we knew for sure what happened, there'd be no need for faith. Those who try to "prove" the events of Easter are missing the point - Hugh Mackay
10 Apr 2007

No sign of Red Sea parting, archaeologist finds
A well-known Egyptian archaeologist, Dr Zahi Hawass, who is excavating sites in the northern Sinai, says he has found no evidence to back the biblical account of Moses' parting of the Red Sea.
5 Apr 2007

Dial 1300-4-FAITH
The Catholic Enquiry Centre says people can dial 1300-4-FAITH for answers to their questions this Easter as several Thai internet surfers prepare to be baptised in Bangkok after discovering Christianity via the web.
5 Apr 2007

WYD Cross to visit tsunami-hit Gizo
In a poignant reminder of its significance, the World Youth Day Cross is due to journey to the tsunami-struck Solomon Islands diocese of Gizo next week - and organisers say they are determined that the visit to the grief-stricken community will go ahead.
5 Apr 2007

Rape video sent to girl's schoolmates
Five teenagers from Sydney's South West were arrested yesterday on charges of raping a student and sending mobile phone video of the attack to the victim's former Catholic high schoolmates.
5 Apr 2007

Benedict's book slams "plundering" rich countries
In his first book as pontiff, Pope Benedict slams rich countries for having "plundered and sacked" Africa and other poor regions - and also cites Marx's theory of alienation with approval.
5 Apr 2007

Two Lismore priests killed in Easter tragedy
In an Easter tragedy, two Catholic priests from Lismore diocese have been killed in a head-on collision on the notoriously dangerous Pacific Highway near Woolgoolga, just north of NSW's Coffs Harbour.
5 Apr 2007

Feature - Sisterly hospitality a hit with travellers
In these jittery times, when travelling might seem to come down to a wing and a prayer, a few prayers as perks with bed and breakfast can be a welcome extra. So what if these B&B's also have strict curfews in this Eternal City? Motherly innkeepers, spick-and-span bathrooms, some of the cheapest room rates in town plus an ambience of spirituality more than compensate for any inconvenience, find that many traveller like staying in convents in Italy for lodging. "We feel very, very secure here," said Joan Shoti, a middle-aged woman from Sydney.
5 Apr 2007

Opinion - Standing tall before the cohort
I was on retreat 10 years ago pondering the Holy Week readings, when I came upon a text in Matthew that describes how soldiers hauled Jesus before "the whole cohort" to face jeers, humiliation, and torture. The whole cohort? What was that? In Jerusalem, each year during the Passover festival, the Roman governor assembled a cohort, some 600 soldiers to protect against riot or rebellion. This scene is one of the most appalling and astounding images in the scripture and also one of the most anti-military images ever pictured - Fr John Dear
5 Apr 2007

Parramatta wall weeps "miracle" oil
Thousands of people have started to flock to the western Sydney home of a Catholic couple where oil and ash have started to appear on the walls of the bedroom of their late son who was killed in a car crash last year.
4 Apr 2007

Pius XII an "enemy of Third Reich", documents show
Newly discovered documents from the archives of the former East German secret service, the Stasi, show that wartime Pope Pius XII was considered an enemy of Hitler's Third Reich, not a collaborator.
4 Apr 2007

Zimbabwe dialogue still possible, African bishops say
Picking up the call of Zimbabwe's Catholic bishops, the Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference has accused the Mugabe regime of oppressing its own people but says dialogue is still possible.
4 Apr 2007

Bishops launch national info tech committee
The Australian bishops are seeking to develop through a new information and communications technology committee a "single point of entry" for people wanting to deal with Church agencies and groups, committee chair Greg Whitby says.
4 Apr 2007

JPII "had already seen the Lord": Italian cardinal
Speaking at a ceremony to mark the anniversary of John Paul II's death, retiring Rome Cardinal Camillo Ruini said that the late pontiff's intense relationship with God was profound and in a certain sense "he had already seen the Lord".
4 Apr 2007

Huge devastation in Solomons
Infection as well as food and water shortages are among the major concerns facing relief agencies working in the tsunami-devastated Solomon Islands, Caritas says.
4 Apr 2007

Feature - The meaning of the Cross
Among all the religious symbols in the world none is more universal than the cross. You see crosses everywhere. Not everyone can explain what the cross means or why they choose to wear one, but most everyone has an inchoate sense that it is a symbol, perhaps the ultimate symbol, for depth, love, fidelity, and faith. Rene Girard, an anthropologist, once commented that "the cross of Jesus is the single most revolutionary moral event in all of history" - Fr Ron Rolheiser
4 Apr 2007

Opinion - Resisting the upgrade mentality
According to the well-known technology website, CNET, $1.05 billion was spent on accessories for the iPod last year - and that excludes internet sales. One-man-and-dog operations have grown exponentially on the back of this expansion. By changing the design in its fifth generation iPod recently, Apple delivered an instant cash cow to the third party manufacturers who support it. Accessories are big business. So how is one to break the cycle of forced obsolescence if the financial benefits are so strong for manufactures and retailers? - James Massola
4 Apr 2007

Arson suspected in Melbourne church fire
Arson squad detectives are investigating the suspicious fire that devastated the 156-year-old St Joseph's Church in Melbourne's Collingwood yesterday but the parish community is making an Easter commitment to resurrect the church.
3 Apr 2007

Zimbabwean bishops denounce Mugabe's "lawlessness"
In a shift from their earlier reluctance to directly criticise the Mugabe government, Zimbabwe's Catholic bishops have castigated the country's leaders as "racist, corrupt and lawless".
3 Apr 2007

Shariah ruling "affront to human dignity": Malaysian bishops
Malaysia's Catholic bishops have slammed a ruling by the country's Court of Appeal that a non-Muslim woman had to seek recourse through Shariah courts as a "form of religious oppression and an affront to human dignity".
3 Apr 2007

Billings method pioneer dead at 89
Natural family pioneer and co-inventor of the method that bears his name, Dr John Billings, died in Melbourne yesterday following a short illness.
3 Apr 2007

Caritas rejects lack of Indigenous consultation claims
Pointing to the need to keep abreast of "best practices" in supporting development, Caritas Australia has rejected accusations that Indigenous input would be weakened under new procedures but apologised for hurt caused by its decision to axe a long standing advisory group.
3 Apr 2007

Solomons tsunami response under way
Caritas agencies in the Pacific have pledged immediate relief assistance in the wake of yesterday's earthquake and tsunami which devastated areas in the remote Solomon Islands Western Province with thousands still feared missing.
3 Apr 2007

Feature - Two migrant artisans bonded by Stations of the Cross
The carved, wooden Stations of the Cross in Christ the Priest Church in Blackman's Bay, Tasmania have a long story to tell. It begins with Karoly Komaromy, a Polish migrant who arrived in Australia with his family after the World War II. Originals of a work commissioned by the Archbishop of Passau for the Regensburg Cathedral, the carvings accompanied Karoly and his family to Australia. "It was one of his most treasured possessions", says his daughter Maria. "They were the first he ever made, and all his others were based on them" - Judy Redeker
3 Apr 2007

Opinion - An uneasy marriage of necessity
Federal Minister Tony Abbott and others with simplistic pictures of the role of religion in public life see politics as an arena in which religion battles "secularism", but this is a dangerous muddle. An anti-religious ideology of secularism must be distinguished from the commitment to secular space for politics. Granting such a space need not indicate contempt for religion, nor relegation of it to the private sphere, since religious people are free to announce and pursue openly their conscientious values and argue for their political implications in the public sphere - Tony Coady
3 Apr 2007

Breaking News: Melbourne church on fire
Firefighters are battling a huge fire that has broken out this morning in the roof of St Joseph's Church, Collingwood in inner Melbourne.
2 Apr 2007

Jesus not really crucified, Libya's Gaddafi says
Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi has told a mass prayer meeting for Muslims in Niger that Jesus was not really nailed to the cross but that another man who resembled him was crucified in his place.
2 Apr 2007

Woolmer farewelled at Lahore cathedral service
Muslims joined Christians at a Sacred Heart Cathedral service led by Lahore Catholic Archbishop Lawrence Saldhanha for former Pakistan cricket coach, Bob Woolmer, as new doubts emerge as to whether he was murdered or died in a tragic accident.
2 Apr 2007

Catholic schoolboy free after rape accusation nightmare
A 17-year-old former Perth Catholic schoolboy is free after nearly a year in prison awaiting trial on rape charges of which he was acquitted after it emerged that his accuser had lied about her sex life.
2 Apr 2007

Stay innocent, Pope tells youth
Port Lincoln's Adam Crouch was among the readers at Pope Benedict's Passion Sunday Mass during which the pontiff urged young people to refuse violence, bribes and to live with "pure hearts" in a service which also marked World Youth Day.
2 Apr 2007

Eight years jail for Vietnamese priest
Vietnamese priest Fr Nguyen Van Ly, who has already spent 14 years in prison, has been sentenced to an eight-year jail term after he was convicted of "spreading propaganda" against the communist country following what authorities described as an "open trial".
2 Apr 2007

Indigenous leaders blast Caritas "betrayal"
Five leading Catholic Aboriginal leaders have slammed Caritas Australia over the disbanding by the aid body of an advisory group on Indigenous issues.
2 Apr 2007

Feature - Easter is a challenge for secularism
Easter is the biggest challenge to a secularised world. Christ's resurrection from the dead is not an act of magic with no consequences. It offers humanity - and each human person - fullness of life. It offers each person the opportunity to share in Christ's divine mission of salvation. It offers each of us a share in divinity itself by becoming God's adopted children through Baptism. But fullness of life is not automatic. It involves a choice - Glen Argan
2 Apr 2007

Opinion - No time for silent diplomacy in Zimbabwe
The Zimbabwe crisis raises familiar questions about the international community's responsibilities. Some argue that the world has no business interfering with, or even commenting on, the internal affairs of a sovereign state. This principle is exceptionally convenient for dictators and for people who do not wish to be bothered about the well being of others. But we are not suggesting that the world should intervene to impose political change in Zimbabwe. We are suggesting that it's time for the international community to raise its voice in support of human rights - Desmond Tutu and Madeleine Albright
2 Apr 2007