Thursday, May 29, 2008

Vatican to excommunicate female priests
Explicit decree punishes women, bishops who ordain them

VATICAN CITY - The Vatican issued its most explicit decree so far against the ordination of female priests on Thursday, punishing them and the bishops who try to ordain them with automatic excommunication.

The decree was written by the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and published in the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, giving it immediate effect.
A Vatican spokesman said the decree made the church's existing ban on female priests more explicit by clarifying that excommunication would follow all such ordinations.
Excommunication forbids those affected from receiving the sacraments or sharing in acts of public worship.

Rev. Tom Reese, a senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University, said he thought the decree was meant to send a warning to the growing number of Catholics who favor admitting women to the priesthood.

"I think the reason they're doing this is that they've realized there is more and more support among Catholics for ordaining women, and they want to make clear that this is a no-no," Reese said.

The church said it cannot change the rules banning women from the priesthood because Christ chose only men as his apostles. Church law states that only a baptized male can be made a priest.
Proponents of women's ordination said Christ was only acting according to the social norms of his time.

They cite the letters of Saint Paul, some of the earliest texts of Christianity, to show that women played important roles in the early church.

Copyright 2008 Reuters. Click for restrictions.
Iran's Ahmadinejad requests meeting with pope
May 27 2008 Reuters

ROME (Reuters) - Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has asked for an audience next week with Pope Benedict which would be the first meeting between the two leaders, a diplomatic source said on Tuesday.

Ahmadinejad is among the heads of state expected to visit Rome to attend a June 3-5 United Nations summit on global food security, hosted by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation.

Vatican sources said earlier this week that it was not yet clear if the pope would meet individual heads of state attending the U.N. event or hold a collective audience for them in order to save time.

The Vatican has criticised Ahmadinejad for calling for Israel to be wiped off the map.

The Holy See has diplomatic ties with Iran and Pope Benedict has met Iran's Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki. The pontiff has repeatedly encouraged dialogue to resolve differences over Iran's disputed nuclear programme, which the West says is aimed at making nuclear bombs.

Italy's foreign ministry has already ruled out the possibility that conservative Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi will hold bilateral talks with the Iranian leader, saying there will not be enough time.

(Reporting by Philip Pullella; writing by Phil Stewart; editing by Andrew Roche)


Vatican, Israel report 'substantial' progress in talks
Published: May 28, 2008

Pope Benedict XVI arrives in St Peter's Square in the Vatican for his weekly audience. Israel and the Vatican have made "substantial progress" towards resolving financial and legal issues following 14 years of on-and-off negotiations, a joint statement said Wednesday. (AFP Damien Meyer)

VATICAN CITY (AFP) Israel and the Vatican have made "substantial progress" towards resolving financial and legal issues following 14 years of on-and-off negotiations, a joint statement said Wednesday.

A permanent bilateral working committee met at the Vatican on Wednesday in "a climate of great cordiality," said the statement, underscoring "significant, even substantial progress" achieved in the talks.

The two sides have been negotiating over the legal status of the Roman Catholic Church in Israel, notably the disposition of Church property and tax exemptions for revenue earned by Christian communities.

The issues remained unresolved following a basic accord signed by the two states in 1993.
The Holy See wants exemption from all taxes for the Church and its institutions.
Talks resumed in 2004 after a 10-year hiatus and have since proceeded intermittently.
Israel has made repeated assurances that the accord is near completion, while the Vatican has been less sanguine.

"We hope that we will reach a solution in the next 13 years," joked Archbishop Antonio Maria Veglio, secretary of the Vatican Congregation for the Eastern Churches, after the committee's last meeting in December 2007 in Jerusalem.

Veglio recalled that a visit by Pope Benedict XVI to Israel at the invitation of the Hebrew state was contingent on the finalisation of the accord.

A previous meeting of the joint committee, in May 2007, concluded with "important progress."
While contacts continue, the panel will hold its next formal meeting in December.

© 2008 Agence France-Presse

Monday, May 26, 2008

China's Catholics visit shrine under watchful eyes

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Bells clanged, children played and police kept watch as pilgrims clutching rosary beads flocked to one of China's most revered Catholic shrines on Saturday, the day Pope Benedict XVI designated World Day of Prayer for China.

There are fewer people than last year," said a 30-year-old seminary student surnamed Wu as he welcomed worshippers into the 150-year-old Sheshan Cathedral, which sits atop a scenic hill about a 45 minute drive from downtown Shanghai.

"The government made sure to keep order this year," Wu added.

May is the month Chinese Catholics celebrate the Virgin Mary, and it is the peak season for the country's faithful to visit Sheshan.

But the authorities restricted attendance this year, fearing social unrest after March's protests in Tibet and ahead of Beijing's August Olympic games, Catholic media reports said.

Tensions were heightened this year after Benedict penned a prayer that asks Chinese be allowed to freely express their faith and allegiance to him in their officially atheist country.

"Sustain all those in China, who, amid their daily trials continue to believe, to hope, to love," the prayer says. "May they never be afraid to speak of Jesus to the world ..."

Last year, around 11,000 of China's 12 million estimated Catholics visited the shrine in early May, but this year that dwindled to 5,000, the reports said, blaming roadblocks that were erected to prevent any large gatherings.

Relations between the Vatican and Beijing have hit low points several times in recent years as the Vatican criticized China for appointing bishops without papal approval. Beijing has requested that the Vatican sever relations with Taiwan, which Beijing considers a renegade province.
On Saturday, uniformed police officers and security guards stood along every step of the trail as hundreds of pilgrims climbed up to Sheshan.

China's Catholics are split between those who belong to a state-backed Church and an underground Church whose members are loyal to the pope, whom Catholics believe is the successor to St. Peter.

Diplomatic ties between the Vatican and China were severed two years after the 1949 communist takeover. But in early May, the pope reached out to China by hosting an unprecedented concert at the Vatican by Beijing's national orchestra.

On Saturday, the mass at Sheshan focused not on politics, but on the deadly earthquake in Sichuan-- which authorities fear may have claimed 80,000 lives or more -- and also on the spiritual issues related to China's rise on the global economic stage.

Some pilgrims were convinced that China's treatment of religious life has evolved with the country's rapid economic development .

"The police are just there to protect us," said Feng Fuying, 46, a former government worker. "There is no control over faith anymore. You can love your country, and love your religion."

(Reporting by Joseph Chaney; Editing by John Chalmers)

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Benedict XVI, As Seen Up Close
Vatican Officials Give Insider's Look
By Marta LagoROME, MAY 23, 2008 (

If you want to understand Joseph Ratzinger, the man and the Pope, the starting point is the love of God, affirmed a cardinal who has worked closely with him.Cardinal José Saraiva Martins, prefect of the Congregation for Saints' Causes, gave an inside look at the personality of Benedict XVI when he participated Tuesday in the book launch of "Benedictus," by Giuseppe de Carli.

"The key to the person and the ministry of Benedict XVI is the love of God," the cardinal said, affirming that the Pontiff's first encyclical, "Deus Caritas Est," "represents the particularity of this Pontiff."

But the cardinal clarified what that love of God means: "Love is not a static attitude," but "a dynamism that, by definition, is something that spreads. "It tends to continuously bring into play new energies," he affirmed. "Thus, love provokes the great questions, and therefore engenders philosophy and theology."

Pope of the people

According to Cardinal Saraiva Martins, "Benedictus" documents "the development of the presence of Benedict XVI on the international scene of the third millennium, and shows how, step by step, the Pope is entering, with his reserved, stately style, into the hearts of the people."

The cardinal added that without leaving aside his intellectual depth, the Holy Father is "becoming the Pope of the people, because the people clearly perceive his message, even when it is full of uncomfortable truths, that is, demanding [truths] that call for a commitment."

The prelate continued: "He is always guided by a fatherly love that does not resign itself to seeing his children drown in mediocrity."And what, if not love, is his constant urging to combat the dictatorship of relativism, so thoroughly saturating our society?"

Regarding his presence on the international scene, the Holy Father's "role is not along the lines of appearing, but of being," Cardinal Saraiva Martins contended. "His very presence, even before his teaching, is for everyone a constant calling to live in love and in the search for truth."

His way of presenting himself "to the Church and the world is never invasive: his tone of voice lacks the slightest element of arrogance, his discreet, humble, cordial approach manages to open the hearts of many to his proposals."


Offering another view, Cardinal Andrea Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo, archpriest of the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, recalled how the Pope, two days after his election, called him urgently to ask help with the design of the papal coat of arms. The Italian prelate is an expert in ecclesiastic heraldry.

"I immediately discovered his fundamental characteristics," the cardinal said, "which the book amply points out: the aspect of the man's simplicity, humanity, sincerity, spontaneity, but also the timidity. And I noted that this is accompanied right away with an element of decisiveness, matured in reflection."

Archbishop Angelo Amato, secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and thus one of Cardinal Ratzinger's closest collaborators just before the election to the See of Peter, described the pontificate as a continuation of his previous style. He explained: "That which we see now in the Holy Father in reality is that which Ratzinger was as the prefect of our congregation.

"The same intellectual lucidity, the same zeal for the defense of doctrine, the same simplicity in human relationships, the same humility in his person."

A smile

Paging through "Benedictus," the archbishop said, one sees four outstanding qualities. "[The Pope's] radiant, spontaneous, good-hearted and contagious smile" was first on the list.Then, Archbishop Amato noted, the Holy Father is characterized by "his willingness to dialogue, matured in his years of university teaching and sharpened in his meetings with bishops from around the world," who visited him in his role as prefect of the Vatican congregation.

"He is a man of dialogue, woven together not with frigidity or indifference, but with an interior passion, because he is an intellectual with heart," he said.

The prelate proposed that the "communicative strength of the Pope proceeds from the reasonableness of his speech -- as much when he speaks of Christ or illustrates the truth of the faith, as when he critiques the pathologies of postmodern mentality.

"And since "faith and reason are the two wings that raise us to the truth," Archbishop Amato concluded, "it is precisely the truth, love for the truth and the proposal of truth that is the common thread giving continuity to Ratzinger, before as prefect, now as Pope."

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

I want to give this as little coverage as possible, hence the link and not the article. However, that being said, here is my opinion.

This just goes to show that some people will go to any lengths to make a name for themselves. This individual is truly shameful.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Pope poll shows change in view of Catholic Church

(WTNH) _ Pope Benedict XVI might have big shoes to fill, but according to a recent poll, he is also making a positive impression.

It was the visit that moved thousands, making the city that never sleeps stand still in religious reflection. Pope Benedict XVI's American tour of New York City and Washington D.C. It was a historic trip and according to the Knights of Columbus, one that changed perceptions of the Catholic Church.

"I think that his message and the response that and the reception that he got in the United States was very telling," said Andrew Walther of the Knights of Columbus. "Everybody knew that America had really fallen in love with PopE Benedict XVI. All the poll numbers do is prove that."

The Knights of Columbus poll, conducted by Marist College shows 72% of Catholics surveyed have a more positive view of the church since the Pontiff's visit. According to the poll so do 56%T of non-practicing Catholics. In addition, 52% of all Americans polled have a more positive view of the Catholic church.

Walther was among the hoards of people that followed the Pope to all his appearances. He says the feeling at each address was electric. "I think America met Pope Benedict and in some ways met the Catholic Church," said Walther.

Thirty-nine percent of Catholics think the most meaningful part of the Pope's visit was his meeting with sex abuse victims. Fifteen percent were moved by his Ground Zero address and 13% felt his address at Yankee Stadium was most important.

Perhaps the most important data collected, according to Walther, was what people brought back to their hometowns after the visit. "Significant numbers of people are now more likely to be involved in their community more likely to be involved in their church to live a better moral life. To be more proud who they are as Catholics," he said.

Walther tells us he saw the pope in Rome, directly after his American visit. In that address Pope Benedict XVI called his trip a success.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Pope Benedict XVI meets Iranian delegation

2008-04-30 Author : DPA News

Vatican City - Pope Benedict XVI met Wednesday a high-level Iranian Shiite Muslim delegation visiting the Vatican for bi-lateral talks on the theme "Faith and Reason in Christianity and Islam". Benedict was "particularly satisfied with the choice of the theme and the venue of the meeting," both sides said in a joint statement issued afterwards.

The Vatican and the eight-man delegation from Iran's Islamic Culture and Relations Organization, said in the statement that in talks that preceded the meeting with the pontiff, they had "agreed" on several issues.

Some of these are apparently related to recent controversies between Catholics and Muslims, including remarks made in 2006 by Benedict in Regensburg, Germany, when he appeared to associate Islam to irrational thought and violence.

"Faith and reason do not contradict each other, but faith might in some cases be above reason, but never against it," the statement said.

Both sides also agreed that "faith and reason are intrinsically non-violent".

"Neither reason nor faith should be used by violence; unfortunately, both of them have been sometimes misused to perpetrate violence," the statement said.

Another point appeared to touch on the Vatican's demands that Muslim-majority nations allow followers of other faiths religious freedom, as well as a row over satirical cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed published in the West.

"Christians and Muslims should go beyond tolerance, accepting differences, while remaining aware of commonalities and thanking God for them. They are called for mutual respect, thereby condemning derision of religious beliefs," the statement said.

The two sides also agreed that religions should not be judged on selective interpretations of texts taken from their holy books, but that they should be interpreted according to a "holistic view".
During the talks which began in Rome on Monday the Vatican delegation was led by the Holy See's top inter-faith dialogue official, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, while the Iranian delegation was headed by Mahdi Mostafavi, president of the Islamic Culture and Relations Organization.

"Both Iran and the Vatican have religious governments, so there are many issues the two states have in common, such as morality," M. Anvarian, spokesman for Iran's Embassy to Vatican, told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa, earlier Wednesday.

The visit marks the sixth round of such talks between the Islamic Republic and the Holy See on religious issues since 1996, the embassy spokesman said.

The next round of bilateral talks between the Holy See and the Islamic Republic would be held in 2010 in Tehran.

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