Church News: November 2005 Archives

Pope News

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I have a back-log of Zenit stories about the Pope, so I'll drop them all here:

Last week, the pope addressed two pontifical academies - the Academy of the Sciences and the Academy of the Social Sciences - and unveiled a sculpture of Pope John Paul II.

Zenit has the text of his address, in which he talked about the centrailty of the human person in society. An excerpt:

According to God's design, persons cannot be separated from the physical, psychological or spiritual dimensions of human nature. Even though cultures change over time, to suppress or ignore the nature that they claim to "cultivate" can have serious consequences. Likewise, individuals will only find authentic fulfillment when they accept the genuine elements of nature that constitute them as persons.

The concept of person continues to bring about a profound understanding of the unique character and social dimension of every human being. This is especially true in legal and social institutions, where the notion of "person" is fundamental. Sometimes, however, even when this is recognized in international declarations and legal statutes, certain cultures, especially when not deeply touched by the Gospel, remain strongly influenced by group-centered ideologies or by an individualistic and secularist view of society. The social doctrine of the Catholic Church, which places the human person at the heart and source of social order, can offer much to the contemporary consideration of social themes.

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Here is the Zenit translation of the Pope's address at last week's general audience, which reflected on Ephesians 1:3-10.

Here is an excerpt:

The "mystery" of the divine "will" has a center that is destined to coordinate the whole of being and the whole of history, leading it to the fullness willed by God: It is "a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth" (Ephesians 1:10). Prominent in this "plan," in Greek "oikonomia," that is, in this harmonious plan of the architecture of being and existence, is Christ, head of the body of the Church, but also axis that recapitulates in himself "all things, things in heaven and things on earth." Dispersion and limitations are surmounted and that "fullness" is configured which is the true end of the plan that the divine will had established from the beginning.

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Last week, the Pope also met with participants in a conference of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. Here is the text of his remarks to them.

Excerpt:

There is a need to base international relations on respect for the person and on the cardinal principles of peaceful coexistence, fidelity to commitments undertaken and mutual acceptance by the peoples who make up the one human family. There is likewise a need to recognize that technical progress, necessary as it is, is not everything. True progress is that alone which integrally safeguards the dignity of the human being and which enables each people to share its own spiritual and material resources for the benefit of all.

Here I wish to mention the importance of helping native communities, all too often subjected to undue appropriations aimed at profit, as your Organization recently pointed out in its "Guidelines on the Right to Food." Also, it must not be forgotten that, while some areas are subject to international measures and controls, millions of people are condemned to hunger, even outright starvation, in areas where violent conflicts are taking place, conflicts which public opinion tends to neglect because they are considered "internal," "ethnic" or "tribal." Yet these conflicts have seen human lives systematically eliminated, while people have been uprooted from their lands and at times forced, in order to flee certain death, to leave their precarious settlements in refugee camps.

An encouraging sign is the initiative of FAO to convene its Member States to discuss the issue of agrarian reform and rural development. This is not a new area, but one in which the Church has always shown interest, out of particular concern for small rural farmers who represent a significant part of the active population especially in developing countries. One course of action might be to ensure that rural populations receive the resources and tools which they need, beginning with education and training, as well as organizational structures capable of safeguarding small family farms and cooperatives (cf. "Gaudium et Spes," 71).

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The Spanish bishops have invited the Pope to attend the 2006 World Meetng for Families (official English Website here. The Pope has already said he plans to attend.

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Vatican document discussed on Talk of the Nation

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I haven't listened to it yet, but this promises to be interesting. The line-up includes John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter and Bishop William Skylstad, head of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.

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The document

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So it's officially out now. The document that some on both sides of the debate seem to think authorizes live-burning of gays was released officially today. The official English translation is here.

Here is the money quote:

In the light of such teaching, this dicastery, in accord with the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, believes it necessary to state clearly that the Church, while profoundly respecting the persons in question, cannot admit to the seminary or to holy orders those who practice homosexuality, present deep-seated homosexual tendencies, or support the so-called 'gay culture'.

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Ephesians 5

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Christianity Today on one of the most controversial texts in the Bible..

A good article as far as it goes, though I dared Mama-Lu to write the editors to say: "It's about sex!"

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Confession

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Slate has an interesting if unhelpful little piece about Catholics and Confessing - specifically why the former ain't doin' the latter.

What stands out about this piece is the irony of a let-it-all-hang-out generation that somehow abhors the idea of anonymous confession.

But it's strange that so many lay Catholics should have abandoned the confessional even while secular culture is increasingly awash in confession, apology, and acts of contrition of every sort. Parents own up to pedophilia on Jerry Springer. Authors reveal their fetishes and infidelities in self-lacerating memoirs. On Web sites like Daily Confession and Not Proud, the anonymous poster can unburden his conscience electronically. The confessions on these sites are displayed in categories borrowed from Sunday school lessons: the Ten Commandments or the seven deadly sins. At least one posting I read was framed in the language of the Catholic confessional. "Bless me, Father, for I have sinned," it began before going on to catalog a series of mostly mundane misdeeds. (Others are simply odd: "I eat ants but only the little red ones. They're sweet as hell and I just can't get enough.")

All this public confessing testifies to the impulse to share our deepest shame. So, why isn't that impulse manifesting itself in Catholics practicing the ritual that was created expressly for that purpose? Of course, Catholic penance—whether it's done in a confessional booth or in a face-to-face meeting with a priest, an innovation introduced in 1973—is supposed to be private and confidential. It may be that in an age of media-fueled exhibitionism, some people want more attention for our misdeeds than can be had from whispering a list of sins in a box in a church. But those Internet confessions won't count toward absolution in the eyes of the church any time soon. "There are no sacraments on the Internet," declared the Pontifical Council for Social Communication unequivocally in 2002.

Despite a reasonably fair analysis of the situation, the author misses the most obvious factor keeping Catholics from receiving absolution: the prevalence (yes I'm using this word properly) of the idea that there is no such thing as sin. Call it relativism, call it the "loss of the sense of sin," no matter: if Catholics don't believe that their actions are in fact sinful, why should they seek forgiveness for them?

Another small point that sticks out: the author asserts that the Sacrament's "official" name is "The Sacrament of Reconciliation". This is untrue. The "official" name (according to the Catechism) is actually "The Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation".

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Early Church building discovered in Holy Land

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The Israeli Antiquities Authority said the ruins are believed to date back to the third or fourth centuries, and include references to Jesus and images of fish, an ancient Christian symbol.
Full story.
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U of I Newman Center makes news

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Catholic News Agency had a very laudatory story about the Newman Center at my alma mater and its current chaplain on Friday. Fellow alumni might like to take a look.

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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Church News category from November 2005.

Church News: December 2005 is the next archive.

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