Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
March 1, 2010
World News in Brief
Pope to canonize Br. Andre on Oct. 17
Pope Benedict will create six new saints Oct. 17, including Brother Andre Bessette, who will be the first Canadian-born male and the first saint of the Holy Cross Brothers.
The pope announced the date for the canonization ceremony Feb. 19. Blessed Bessette founded St. Joseph's Oratory of Mount Royal in Montreal and was known for his intense piety, famed for miraculous cures and praised for his dedication to building the shrine to honour St. Joseph.
Born Alfred Bessette Aug. 9, 1845, in Saint-Gregoire d'Iberville, Quebec, he suffered from a chronic stomach ailment that kept him out of school and often without work.
At 25, Blessed Andre could not read and his health was so fragile the Holy Cross brothers assigned him to be the doorman at Montreal's College of Notre Dame, where the congregation had just opened its novitiate. He often commented, "When I joined this community, the superiors showed me the door." He died Jan. 6, 1937, at the age of 91.
Numbers of seminarians, priests on the rise
The latest Vatican statistics show a slight increase in Catholics as a percentage of the world's population, and a slow but steady rise in the number of priests and seminarians worldwide. The Vatican said that at the end of 2008 the number of Catholics reached 1.166 billion, an increase of 19 million, or 1.7 per cent, from the end of 2007. The number of priests stood at 409,166, an increase of 1,142 from the end of 2007. Since the year 2000, the Vatican said, the number of priests has increased by nearly 4,000, or about one per cent. The number of seminarians around the world rose from 115,919 at the end of 2007 to 117,024 at the end of 2008, it said. From 2000 to the end of 2008, the Vatican said, the number of women religious went from 801,185 to 739,067, a drop of 7.8 per cent.
Bishop urges Catholics to return to Confession
Bishop Robert McManus of Worcester, Mass., urged Catholics in his diocese to take part in a pastoral initiative called Come Home to God's Mercy and to return to the sacrament of Penance during Lent. He has asked all priests in the diocese to preach on the sacrament of Penance before and during Lent to help Catholics reacquaint themselves with the sacrament. Beginning Feb. 23, a priest will be available every Tuesday from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in every church in the diocese to hear Confessions. Citing a recent survey of U.S. Catholics, the bishop noted what he called an unsettling statistic - 45 per cent of Catholics who attend Mass weekly never receive the sacrament of Penance.
Lent is for spiritual training, says Benedict
Before beginning his annual Lenten retreat, Pope Benedict encouraged Catholics around the world to practise prayer and penitence in the weeks leading up to Easter. The entire period of Lent should be like "a long 'retreat' during which people can return inside themselves and listen to the voice of God, in order to overcome the temptations of the Evil One," the pope said at his noon blessing Feb. 21. He described Lent as a time of spiritual training, undertaken not with an attitude of pride, but in an effort to live more closely with Jesus through prayerful reflection and penitential practices.
Papal push could advance unity dialogue - bishop
Although the 1995 encyclical Ut Unum Sint by Pope John Paul II helped with Catholic-Orthodox relations, more progress could be made with a nudge from the man currently occupying the chair of Peter, says an Orthodox bishop who has been part of Catholic-Orthodox dialogues for more than a decade. Ut Unum Sint "was certainly helpful," said Metropolitan Kallistos. "As an Orthodox, I was surprised and moved at Pope John Paul II when he openly asked for the help of others to understand his role and his primacy as bishop of Rome to the universal Church." In the encyclical, titled in English That All May Be One, the pope acknowledged that while Catholics view the bishop of Rome as "visible sign and guarantor of unity," the notion of that papal role for the universal Church "constitutes a difficulty for most other Christians." He asked theologians and leaders of other churches to help him "find a way of exercising the primacy" that could make it a ministry of unity to all Christians.
Oregon hospital can no longer be called Catholic
The Diocese of Baker, Ore., has ended the Church's official sponsorship of central Oregon's largest medical centre, citing the hospital's refusal to adhere to some Catholic teachings. Baker Bishop Robert Vasa said St. Charles Medical Center in Bend "gradually moved away" from Church ethical and religious standards and can no longer be called Catholic. "As bishop, I am responsible for attesting to the full Catholicity of the hospitals in my diocese, a responsibility which I take very seriously, and I have reached the conclusion that I can no longer attest to the Catholicity of St. Charles," Vasa wrote in the Feb. 18 issue of his diocesan newspaper. The main point of contention is tubal ligation, a form of permanent female reproductive sterilization.
Catholic politicians told not to support gay marriage
Public officials who openly support same-sex marriage cannot consider themselves to be Catholic, said an Italian cardinal. "It's impossible to consider oneself a Catholic if that person in one way or another recognizes same-sex marriage as a right," said Cardinal Carlo Caffarra of Bologna. The Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, reprinted a portion of a doctrinal note the cardinal released Feb. 14 concerning Marriage and Homosexual Unions. The note, which appeared in full on the archdiocese's website, was aimed at helping enlighten Catholics in public office so that "they would not make choices that would publicly contradict their affiliation with the Church," he wrote.
Catholic scholars want slow process for Pius XII's cause
Nineteen Catholic scholars of theology and history are asking Pope Benedict to slow the process of the sainthood cause of Pope Pius XII. Saying that much more research needs to be done on the papacy of the mid-20th century pope, the scholars said in a Feb. 16 letter to Pope Benedict that "history needs distance and perspective" before definitive conclusions can be reached on the role of Pope Pius during the Second World War and the Holocaust. Leading the effort are Servite Father John Pawlikowski, professor of ethics at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, and Holy Cross Father Kevin Spicer, associate professor of history at Stonehill College in Easton, Mass. "We're not on a bandwagon to stop his eventual canonization," Pawlikowski told Catholic News Service Feb. 18. "We're saying allow some time."
Pope wants airport security to respect human dignity
Anti-terrorist measures at airports should always respect the principles of human dignity, Pope Benedict said. Although the pope did not mention specific devices or technology, his words Feb. 20 were taken by many as a reference to the recent move toward full-body scanners, which reveal graphic body images along with potential weapons. The pope told a group of Italian airport workers that along with their efforts to guarantee security at airports and on board planes, they were also called upon to protect human rights. "It is important to remember that in every project and activity, the first thing to safeguard and value is the person in his integrity," he said.
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