Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
August 30, 2010
World News in Brief
Theology on Tap marks 30 years of free-wheeling talk
At a Champaign pizzeria in the spring of 1981, a youthful Tim Leeming pulled Father Jack Wall into a private conversation and offered an impromptu confession.
"Father, I'm doing well here at school academically and socially, but I don't know why I'm doing the things I'm doing and it seems to me that my faith should be a resource," the university student told the priest.
That modest, innocent conversation set in motion a whirlwind of events that would spark a young adult ministry revolution - first in the Chicago area, then the world.
When Wall and his colleagues at St. James returned to their parish from their campus visit, they sat down to establish a forum for the deep-rooted questions young adults such as Leeming had.
Wall's team proposed a summer program - five evenings on five spiritual themes - hoping the series would help draw young adults closer to God. Someone casually tossed out the title Theology on Tap, a name that survives today as the program enters its 30th year in the Archdiocese of Chicago and has spread around the world.
When Theology on Tap hosted its first event in June 1981, 200 college-age guests attended. Immediately, the organizers noted the series' promise.
"We could see right away that this was touching a need. The room was filled with an amazing balance of social energy and theological input," Wall said.
Cardinal defends release of Lockerbie bomber
A Scottish cardinal defended the 2009 decision to free the man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing and said U.S. politicians should not try to interfere in the domestic affairs of his country. Cardinal Keith O'Brien of St. Andrews and Edinburgh said that given the "steady rate" of executions in the United States, American lawmakers should "turn their gaze inwards, rather than scrutinizing the working of the Scottish justice system." The cardinal said Aug. 8 the decision to release Abdel Baset al-Megrahi last August was made "on compassionate grounds, following due process and based on clear medical advice." The Scottish justice system, he said, "has embedded, alongside punishment, the idea of reform. It is one reason why the finality of the death penalty has rightly been rejected." He then accused the United States of adopting a "conveyor belt" approach to capital punishment.
African laity, nuns left out of synod process
Laypeople and women religious across Africa are concerned that they are being marginalized by clergy as they undertake pastoral work, despite a call from last October's Synod of Bishops for Africa to include all people in ministry. Members of both groups told Catholic News Service their evangelization activities have been underfunded, and some said they have been left out of the synod process since the beginning. Some lay leaders and women religious who participated in recent synod implementation workshops conducted by the Zambian bishops said priests have threatened to discipline them if they disobeyed clerical directives. Similar concerns have arisen in Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Malawi and Kenya. Sister Mary Musonda of the Religious Sisters of Charity said her congregation's work in parishes was being frustrated by some local priests and that her community is considering focusing its efforts on health and education duties alone. "We are always being told it is the responsibility of priests to preach the Gospel because they are ordained for that purpose," she said.
Young Catholics launch movement against bio-fuel
More than 10,000 Catholics - including 30 international delegates - took part in a rally in Chalakkudy, India, launching a global campaign against land-grabbing to produce bio-fuel. As dancers performed traditional ethnic dances at the July 24 rally, elderly women held colourful umbrellas with placards declaring, "Stop land-grabbing, this soil is our future." The campaign is spearheaded by the International Movement of Catholic Agricultural and Rural Youth, which works with young people ages 12 to 30 on four continents. Syro-Malabar Archbishop Andrews Thazhath of Trichur congratulated the Catholic youth movement for taking the lead to raise awareness against land-grabbing and food security. "The food we eat is no more the beautiful creation of God. (Food items) are highly toxic due to the greed for profits. We need to make the public aware of all these concerns," said Thazhath.
U.S. cardinal urges post-war plan for Iraq
The ancient Christian communities that once thrived in Iraq "now face potential extinction," said Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, urging the United States to develop a postwar plan to help Iraq resolve the humanitarian consequences of the seven-year war. The fact that U.S. combat forces are expected to leave by Sept. 1 "is good news for our American servicemen, their families and the nation," the cardinal said. "But this departure should not be accompanied by a withdrawal of our support for the Iraqi people, particularly for the millions of displaced Iraqis." After Sept. 1, 50,000 Americans will still be in Iraq - noncombat troops, but the cardinal said that as combat forces leave, violence could increase against those who have been displaced, including Christians.
Pope rejects resignations of Dublin auxiliary bishops
Pope Benedict has decided not to accept the resignation of two Dublin auxiliary bishops who resigned in the wake of the Murphy Report investigation into clerical child abuse in the archdiocese. Auxiliary Bishops Raymond Field and Eamonn Walsh resigned Dec. 24 after coming under intense pressure because they served as bishops during the period investigated by the Murphy Commission. In a letter to priests of the Dublin Archdiocese Aug. 11, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin confirmed the development.
"Following the presentation of their resignations to Pope Benedict, it has been decided that Bishop Eamonn Walsh and Bishop Raymond Field will remain as auxiliary bishops," he said. Martin said the two men are "to be assigned revised responsibilities within the diocese."
Both bishops initially resisted calls for their resignation. However, both sent resignation letters to Rome after Martin apparently failed to give them his total support. When asked in December 2009 whether he had confidence in his auxiliaries, Martin said he had confidence "in their ministry," but did not go further. Within 24 hours, both auxiliaries announced they had sent their letters of resignation to Rome.
Heaven is found within God's love, pope says
Heaven is not a location in the cosmos, but a place within God where those who believe in him will enjoy his love forever, Pope Benedict said. Celebrating a morning Mass Aug. 15, the feast of the Assumption of Mary, the pope said that when the Catholic Church affirms that Mary was taken, body and soul, into heaven, it is not referring "to some place in the universe, a star or something like that." "With the term 'heaven,' we want to affirm that God - the God who made himself close to us - does not abandon us even in and beyond death, but he has a place for us and gives us eternity; we want to affirm that within God there is a place for us," the pope said.
Orthodox liturgy in Turkey sign of hope for Christians
The Turkish government's decision to allow the Orthodox patriarch to celebrate a liturgy at the ancient Panagia Soumela Monastery near Trabzon was a sign of hope for Turkey's Christian minority, said a U.S. Jesuit priest. "The present government has promised they really will pay attention to the needs of the Christian minority; the Christians have said we want concrete signs, so this is a positive step in the right direction," said Jesuit Father Thomas Michel. Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople celebrated the Orthodox liturgy for the feast of the Dormition of Mary Aug. 15 at the Panagia Soumela Monastery, which was founded in 386. The current building, which is maintained by the government as a museum, dates from the 13th century. It was closed in 1923 after most Greeks were forced out of Turkey and most Turks were forced out of Greece under the terms of the Treaty of Lausanne. Michel said the Panagia Soumela Monastery "is one of the most beautiful places on earth."
Altar servers bring Jesus to the people. says pope
Pope Benedict thanked tens of thousands of young altar servers Aug. 4 for their important service to the Church and urged them to "jealously safeguard" their friendship with Jesus.
"Tell your peers about the gift of this friendship with joy, with enthusiasm and without fear," he said. The altar servers were taking part in a two-day pilgrimage to Rome.
The pope told the altar servers, aged 14 to 25, that they were fortunate to be able to take part in the mystery of the Eucharist. The Eucharist "is a precious good, a priceless treasure and the bread of life" with which Jesus nourishes and sustains his flock, giving people the love and strength they need in their daily lives.
Papal delegate gets broad powers over Legionaries
Pope Benedict has given his new papal delegate broad powers of authority over the Legionaries of Christ as part of a major Vatican-led reform of the order. The delegate, Italian Archbishop Velasio De Paolis, has authority over the order's current superiors and can even override the order's constitutions. He will have a say in all areas of the order including its governance, decisions involving personnel, education and ordination, as well as how assets are spent.
In a letter to De Paolis announcing him as papal delegate, the pope said the archbishop was to be in charge of the congregation of the Legionaries of Christ and all its members "for as long as it takes to carry out the path of renewal and lead it to the celebration of an extraordinary general chapter, whose main purpose will be to bring completion to the revision of the constitutions."
Pope Benedict wrote that the results of the recent visitation of the order's religious houses and most of its pastoral institutions "made clear" the urgent need for an "in-depth revision of the institute's charism."
L.A. cathedral opens plaza to pooches
Most of the 517 pooches and their 950 doting, loyal custodians- don't dare call them "owners" - who registered for the fourth Downtown Dog Day Afternoon on the plaza at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels showed up for the annual event in Los Angeles. In the early evening July 27, they sallied forth and sniffed their way around the 2.5 -acre sandstone plaza while mellow jazz and soothing classical music played nonstop in the background. "The purpose of this is to create community," explained Msgr. Kevin Kostelnik, pastor of the cathedral, and co-sponsor of the outdoor event along with his eight-year-old black Lab, Joaquin. "It's to allow residents, the humans, to get to meet one another because the animals are one part of God's creation that brings everybody together." Kostelnik thanked Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony, who has two cats, for having the vision to create the special urban space that the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels has quickly become.
Papal Masses in Britain will use some new texts
People attending Pope Benedict's Masses in Scotland and England in September will get a chance to hear and sing a few of the newly translated Mass texts, according to the pope's chief liturgist. Msgr. Guido Marini, papal master of liturgical ceremonies, told Catholic News Service Aug. 19 that the prayers sung in English at the papal Masses in Great Britain will use the translations from the new Order of the Mass approved by the Vatican in 2008. "The songs from the Order of the Mass - for example the Gloria - will be from the new translation, which was approved a while ago," he said. The words for the rest of the Mass prayers "will be from the text currently in use," he said. When the papal Masses were being planned, the Vatican had not yet granted final approval to the bishops of Scotland, England and Wales for the complete English translation of the Roman Missal.
Brazil's bishops say prison torture still exists
Twenty-five years after Brazil's military dictatorship, there is still torture in Brazilian jails, and it still goes unpunished. A report released Aug. 2 by the Brazilian bishops' prison ministry commission brought to light 211 cases of torture, said the commission coordinator, Father Valdir Joao Silveira. However, the real number of torture cases is much larger. "We don't have the exact numbers, but you can multiply that by five," Silveira told Catholic News Service in a telephone interview. The 211 cases featured in the prison ministry report to the government were uncovered in pastoral visits to prisons, complaints by families and letters from victims. In some cases, prison workers reported the torture. The bishops want the government to implement UN protocols and conventions against torture.
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