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Bishop of Sacramento's directive
Pro-abortion California Governor told not to receive Communion
The Bishop of California's capital city has announced that the State's pro-abortion Catholic Governor should renounce his pro-abortion views before presenting himself for Communion again.
Bishop William Weigand made the announcement at a Mass on 22 January, the 30th anniversary of the Roe v Wade Supreme Court decision that allowed abortion on demand throughout the US. He said that Governor Gray Davis should refrain from receiving the Eucharist while he continues to hold pro-abortion views.
"As your bishop, I have to say clearly that anyone - politician or otherwise - who thinks it is acceptable for a Catholic to be pro-abortion is in very great error, puts his or her soul at risk, and is not in good standing with the Church," Bishop Weigand said. "Such a person should have the integrity to acknowledge this and choose of his own volition to abstain from receiving Holy Communion until he has a change of heart."
A spokesman for Davis said the Bishop's pronouncement was "sad" and added that the Governor is "proud of the legislation he has signed giving women the right to choose." He also criticised the bishop for "telling the faithful how to practise their faith."
Bishop Weigand said he was inspired by a confrontation before Christmas between Davis and a priest who runs a home for disadvantaged children who told the Governor that he wasn't welcome. The Bishop said he was also motivated by the recent note from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith that enumerated the responsibilities of Catholics involved in politics.
Catholic World News
Scottish Archbishop on evil of IVF
First step in downward spiral to cloning
Archbishop Mario Conti of Glasgow wrote a letter published in the Sunday Herald last January identifying the creation of test-tube babies through in vitro fertilisation as the first step in the downward spiral to cloning. He called the current situation regarding experimentation on embryonic humans a "bioethical house of horrors".
"The first step on this nightmarish journey was the British Government's acceptance of in vitro fertilisation (IVF), namely the production of human beings in a petri dish. It is often forgotten that for every child brought to birth using these techniques, several embryos will have died, been frozen, or destroyed in the process," wrote the Archbishop.
"An even more ominous step," he said, "was taken when the same government allowed for destructive experimentation on human embryos. The next step was the removal of stem cells from what have been appallingly referred to as 'superfluous embryos' destroying them in the process. Such procedures in turn paved the way for so-called 'therapeutic cloning' - the creation of human embryos for a maximum period of 14 days, during which time their stem cells are removed, killing them."
While sentiment may argue on the side of allowing such research, the Archbishop warned that "it was sentiment - or rather the lack of it - which enabled the Nazi regime to decide on and carry through the horrific policy of liquidation of the Jewish people."
Catholic World News
Pope John Paul II on liturgical fidelity
Bishops need to show "discernment"
Pope John Paul II, during an ad limina visit by bishops from Brazil's Southern Region I, spoke about popular devotions, the Eucharist, authentic liturgy and inculturation in Brazil's multi-ethnic society.
"To give its full efficacy to the Eucharistic sacrifice," he said, there must always be a "worthy and genuine celebration of the mystery, according to the doctrine and directives of the Church, as I have recalled on diverse occasions."
As far as the proclamation of the Word, prayers, rites and all ecclesial symbolism of liturgy were concerned, "any manipulation of these elements negatively affects the pedagogy of faith", whereas a correct and authentic liturgy "builds the faith and life of the faithful."
Liturgy, he stressed, "must be disciplined only by competent authorities, demanding of everyone a great and respectful fidelity to the authentic rites and texts. An erroneous application of the value of creativity and spontaneity in the celebrations, even if typical of the many manifestations of life of your people, must never alter rites and texts and, above all, the feeling of the mystery being celebrated in the liturgy."
Focussing on the Afro-Brazilian culture, the Pope said this raised "the delicate question of inculturation, especially in liturgical rites, terminology and in the musical and bodily expressions typical of the Afro-Brazilian culture."
Whether inculturation involved vestments, songs, language, ceremonies or liturgical objects, there must be "a rigorous application of a serious and profound discernment about its compatibility with the truth revealed by Jesus Christ."
Authentic Catholic liturgy must not be transformed by or confused with "the pantheon of spirit and divinities of African cults ... The Church views these cults with interest but considers harmful the concrete relativism of a common practice of both (rites) or of a mixture between them as if they had the same value, and (sees it) a danger to the identity of the Catholic faith."
Vatican Information Service
Indonesia's religious leaders unite
Opposition to government plans to legalise abortion
Indonesia's religious leaders united in January against government plans to legalise abortion.
Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist and other religious leaders released a joint statement denouncing plans to amend the Health Law and called on the public to "preserve life from conception."
While extremist Muslim groups have clashed with Christians and other minorities in Indonesia, mainstream Muslim leaders joined with their counterparts in the unusual joint statement.
"Under no circumstances is abortion condoned by any religion. It is prohibited by all religions, as it can be categorised as murder," Muslim leader Umar Syihab was quoted by the Jakarta Post as saying. Umar said abortion is morally unjustifiable unless it is to save the life of the mother.
The proposed bill would allow a woman to have an abortion without the consent of the father and if she can give a reason why carrying the child to birth would endanger her life, rather than requiring a doctor's certification of a dangerous medical condition. If approved, the law can be used as legal grounds for more abortions, especially among teenagers.
Catholic World News
Vatican letter on reception of Communion
Those wishing to receive kneeling must not be refused
The Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments has published in a recent edition of its official journal, Notitiae, the text of a letter sent to an unnamed bishop by the then Prefect of the Congregation, Cardinal Medina EstÚvez. The letter directs that priests should not refuse Communion to members of the faithful who prefer to receive kneeling.
The letter notes that reports have come from the bishop's diocese of Catholics being refused Communion unless they stand for its reception.
Cardinal EstÚvez reminds the bishop of the Holy See's official policy on the reception of Communion which it asks be made known "to any priests who may be in need of being thus informed."
The Vatican, he said, had become concerned at "the number of similar complaints that it has received in recent months from various places." He describes these as "a grave violation of one of the most basic rights of the Christian faithful", as set out in canon 213 of the Code of Canon Law. Only "the danger of grave scandal" could justify the refusal of Communion to anyone.
Even where the Holy See has approved "legislation denoting standing as the posture for Holy Communion, in accordance with the adaptations permitted to the Conferences of Bishops by the Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani, n 160, par 2, it has done so with the stipulation that communicants who choose to kneel are not to be denied Holy Communion on these grounds."
Cardinal EstÚvez concludes: "Priests should understand that the Congregation will regard future complaints of this nature with great seriousness, and if they are verified, it intends to seek disciplinary action consonant with the gravity of the pastoral abuse."
"New Age" document
Rome rejects New Age ideas as "incompatible with the Christian faith"
The Vatican has published a new document on "New Age" ideology, titled Jesus Christ, Bearer of Living Water: A Christian Reflection on the 'New Age'. It was prepared by the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue in co-operation with the Pontifical Council for Culture and released at a conference on 3 February.
Cardinal Paul Poupard, President of the Council for Culture, and Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, President of the Council for Interreligious Dialogue, presided at the conference.
Cardinal Poupard, in his address, said: "The phenomenon of the New Age, together with so many other new religious movements, is one of the most urgent challenges for the Christian faith. It is a question of a religious challenge and at the same time a cultural one: the New Age proposes theories and doctrines about God, man and the world, that are incompatible with the Christian faith."
The New Age, he said, was "both the symptom of a culture in deep crisis and the wrong answer to this situation of cultural crisis" and was linked with such trends as "a return to pre-Christian forms of religion" and "a growing obsession in Western culture for Eastern religion."
Vatican Information Service
US poll - pro-life trend
Majority favours more protection for unborn
A US poll taken in January suggests that 70 percent of Americans now favour "restoring legal protection for unborn children."
The poll, conducted by Wirthlin Worldwide, asked 1,000 adults whether, in light of medical advances that reveal the unborn child's body and facial features in detail, "are you in favour of restoring legal protection for unborn children?" 68 percent said they favoured such protection, with 44 percent in strong agreement.
A further finding is that 66 percent favour nominees to the Supreme Court "who would uphold laws that restore legal protection to unborn children."
Catholic World News
Death of Fr Werenfried van Straaten
Aid to the Church in Need continues his work in 140 countries
The founder and for years the leading figure of the international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, Father Werenfried van Straaten, died on 31 January 2003 aged 90, in a German hospital.
Fr van Straaten, a priest of the Norbertine Order, had been the central figure of this charity ever since its origins in 1947.
Born in 1913 in the town of Mijdrecht, Holland, Fr Werenfried became a household name to millions after the Second World War thanks to his aid campaign for the German refugees from the East - a campaign that earned him the famous nickname of the "Bacon Priest".
Today the charity he founded supports persecuted and suffering Christians in over 140 countries, predominantly through pastoral projects. Up to 700,000 benefactors support his charity worldwide.
"Father Werenfried's name meant 'Fighter for Peace'," said Phillip Collignon, Australian National Director of Aid to the Church in Need. "His whole priestly life was dedicated to helping refugees and the Church wherever its members were persecuted, threatened or menaced.
"With his old battered hat, the adventure in charity he started in 1947 has raised and given away more than $US3 billion. His love of the poor was legendary and always close to his heart. Father Werenfried's faith-filled life and commitment to the poor and persecuted will live on in the hearts of his supporters around the world, for his motto in life was "God is much better than we think. And not only God, but people too are better than we think."
Reprinted from AD2000 Vol 16 No 2 (March 2003), p. 4
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