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The Church Around the World

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 Contents - Oct 2014AD2000 October 2014 - Buy a copy now
Editorial: Let's help desperate Middle East Christians - Peter Westmore
Pope Francis' pastoral focus in visit to South Korea - AD2000 Report
News: The Church Around the World
Do we construct the Church in our own image? - Fr Ken Clark
The implications of Anglican women bishops - Fr Dwight Longenecker
Hebrew Bible and the Septuagint: What's the difference? - Andrew Sholl
Art: Sacred art: window into eternity - Tommy Canning
Dissent: Bishop Bill Morris: gone but not forgotten - Peter Westmore
'The Mother of Jesus' in St John's Gospel - Anne Lastman
Students: Young adult ministry on Australian tertiary campuses - Br Barry Coldrey
Letters: Using the missal at Mass - Charles M. Shann
Letters: Use and misuse of language - Anne Lastman
Letters: Evangelii Gaudium speaks to Victoria - Pat Shea
Support: Support the Fighting Fund!
Books: INTRODUCTION TO CHRISTIANITY, by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI - Helena Pasztetnik (reviewer)
Books: PRAYER FOR BEGINNERS, Peter Kreeft - WAYS OF PRAYING, John Edwards SJ - Br Barry Coldrey (reviewer)
Books: A POSTCARD FROM THE VOLCANO: A novel of pre-war Germany, by Lucy Beckett - Michael Daniel (reviewer)
Books: Order books from www.freedompublishing.com.au
Reflection: The Lord hears the cry of the poor - Fr Paul Glynn SM

Malawi's First Lady congratulates Church

The First Lady of Malawi, Gertrude Hendrina Mutharika, has hailed the Catholic Church for complementing the government's efforts in uplifting the lives of people in the country.

The wife of Malawi's President, who is not a Catholic, was speaking at Thunga Catholic Parish during its golden jubilee commemorations.

Madame Mutharika, who was guest of honour at the function, said the Catholic Church has carried out a lot of crucial development projects in various sectors which have transformed the lives of people and communities across the country.

She said, "We take pride in the Catholic Church because it takes care of the spirituality and physical being of the person. There are a lot of education institutions from nursery schools to colleges, hospitals, broadcasting houses, human and civil rights organisations that are all initiatives of the Catholic Church.

"And there is also the advisory role to the government that the Church continues to play which is very crucial to ensure that the Government achieves its mandate."

She applauded lay members of the Catholic Church for being self-reliant as evidenced by the selfless contributions they make towards the various development projects of the Church.


Aid for Iraqi Christians

The US branch of the Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need has pledged $1 million to help persecuted Christians in Iraq and Syria, calling on all Christians to pray and to give financial support for those in need.

"Both countries are threatened with the extinction of ancient Christian communities," George Marlin, chairman of the board of Aid to the Church in Need-USA, said. "Both churches and governments in the West must do their utmost to prevent what has become a tragedy of historic proportions."

He said that the West must stop the atrocities and the "cruelties beyond words" committed by the Islamic State. Executions, beheadings and crucifixions of Christians and other religious minorities have been reported. There are also shortages of water, food, emergency supplies, and medicine.

Aid to the Church in Need's work in Syria helps the Archdiocese of Homs, Hama and Yabroud provide emergency relief for families. The relief work is concentrated in Syria's Valley of the Christians, where fighting in the country's more than three-year civil war has been intense.

Other efforts in Syria include church repair and reconstruction, as well as livelihood projects so that Christians are not forced to emigrate.

Marlin said that the "rich Christian patrimony" of Iraq and Syria are at stake. He said that Christians also play a "vital role" as a moderating force in Muslim societies. Christians play "an indispensable role in mediating between warring factions and maintaining relations with the international community".

The charity said that there are now only 150,000 Iraqi Christians remaining, down from more than one million before the US invasion in 2003. In Syria, almost one-third of its 1.8 million Christians have left the country. Most are stranded in Lebanon, while several hundred thousand more are displaced within Syria.

Most of Iraq's newest Christian displaced persons have headed to Iraqi Kurdistan. However, the local churches are already overburdened. Kurdistan's 100,000 Christians are fearful that Islamic State forces may attack their homeland.

Catholic News Agency


Theologian denounces Vatican criticism

The US Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) concluded its annual conference, enthusiastically applauding an address by Sister Elizabeth Johnson, who denounced the Vatican for issuing a caution about her theological work.

Sister Johnson addressed the LCWR assembly as she accepted the group's Outstanding Leadership Award. The LCWR decision to honour the dissident theologian underlined the tensions between the group and the Church hierarchy, which led to Rome's call for a thorough reform of the group.

In 2011 the doctrinal committee of the US bishops' conference issued a critique of Sister Johnson's book, Quest for the Living God, saying that it "contains misrepresentations, ambiguities, and errors that bear upon the faith of the Catholic Church as found in Sacred Scripture, and as it is authentically taught by the Church's universal magisterium."

In her address to the LCWR meeting, the theologian claimed: "To this day, no one - not myself or the theological community, the media or the general public - knows what doctrinal issue is at stake."

Catholic World News


Cardinal Müller confirms Church teachings

The prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Gerhard Müller, has reminded the faithful that the indissolubility of marriage is a dogma of the Church.

Cardinal Müller stressed the need to recover the sacramental understanding of marriage and family in a book-length interview with Spanish journalist Carlos Granados.

Titled The Hope of the Family, this book, in which Cardinal Müller corrects misunderstandings about the Church's teaching on family, will be published in English by Ignatius Press.

The Cardinal addresses a variety of themes, such as Church teaching on the indissolubility of marriage is dogma, how children with separated or divorced parents are affected, what happens if love "dies", the need for education and how pastors should respond to such difficulties.

The defective understanding of marriage was due, he said, to "a world that is angrily individualistic and subjectivist", one in which "marriage is not perceived any more as an opportunity for the human being to achieve his completeness, sharing love".

With the synod's theme of "Pastoral Challenges to the Family in the Context of Evangelisation," there has been talk in the media about a possible change in Church teaching regarding the reception of Communion by those who are divorced and remarried.

Cardinal Müller emphasised that "the total indissolubility of a valid marriage is not a mere doctrine. It is a divine and definitive dogma of the Church."

With regard to the possibility of allowing spouses to "start life over again" as the love between two persons "can die", he responded, "these theories are radically mistaken".

Explaining why, the prefect said, "One cannot declare a marriage to be extinct on the pretext that the love between the spouses is 'dead'," because "the indissolubility of marriage does not depend on human sentiments". Rather, he said, marriage is intended by God himself who is Himself involved in marriage between man and woman.

A major pastoral and educational priority is having a more in-depth education on marriage, with "remote preparation for marriage", starting from infancy and adolescence.

As for the proper role of a pastor, he said, "As a shepherd, I say to myself: 'It can't be! We must tell people the truth! We should open their eyes'." He suggested that although a pastor's "tools may vary", one should "above all speak about the authentic love and the concrete project which Christ has for every person".

Tackling an issue pivotal in Francis' teachings, the poor, he said: "Among the poor of the third and fourth world," and those in the "existential peripheries", there are "the children who must grow up without their parents". These "orphans of divorce" are perhaps "the poorest of the poor of the world", and interestingly enough are most often found, not in the poorest nations, but in the world's wealthiest places, such as Europe and North America.

"They have many material goods yet are deprived of the fundamental good: the self-giving love of two parents who deny themselves for their children."

Zenit News Agency


Chinese Catholics face government restrictions

The Chinese government has blocked dozens of young Catholics from celebrating the Asia Youth Day ceremonies in Daejon, South Korea, the AsiaNews service reports.

About 100 Chinese Catholics travelled to Daejon, where Pope Francis presided at the closing Mass for Asian Youth Day. But another 80 people have been stopped from travelling to South Korea.

A spokesman for the organisers of the papal visit to South Korea confirmed that many Chinese pilgrims had been unable to attend because of "problematic international situations". He declined to provide details, suggesting that he was concerned about the safety of the Chinese Catholics.

AsiaNews also reported that a dozen Chinese priests who are currently in South Korea have been warned that they would face "problems" when they returned to China if they stayed for the papal visit.

Roughly half of the young people who have been barred from travel to South Korea are seminarians from Beijing who drew the wrath of the Chinese government when they refused to attend a Mass celebrated by bishops who were appointed without approval by the Holy See.

Catholic World News


Franciscans' role in the Holy Land

Despite the stresses of alternating violence and ceasefires between Hamas and Israel, Franciscans in the Holy Land are committed to helping the region's Christians remain in their homeland.

"We pray and we work," said Father Peter Vasko OFM, president of the Franciscan Foundation for the Holy Land. "That's how we will help preserve the Christian presence in the Holy Land. That's our goal."

Since 1994, the foundation has run humanitarian programs in education, child care, housing and employment to help Christians remain in the Holy Land despite pressures like discrimination and violence that encourage them to leave.

There are about 150,000 Christians in the Holy Land, and about 500 families leave each year, the Franciscan foundation reports.

Christians in Gaza now number about 2,500.

Fr Vasko said Gaza's Christians are caught in the crossfire between Hamas and Israel. However, the majority of the Franciscan foundation's daily ministries have not been affected by the recent violent clashes.

Fr Vasko said this was because "we are serving Christians both in Israel proper and in the West Bank, far enough away from the rocket fire and Israeli ground movement and air strikes."

The renewed conflict has affected the Franciscansf spirits.

"How do the Franciscans feel? Very sad," Fr Vasko said. "The Middle East has had a very turbulent history of violence. Seeking peace for both sides to end the hostilities is easier said than done."

"For us it is very discouraging to see how hatred and fear continue to prevail," he added.

The priest reflected on Pope Francis' May visit to Israel. While the Pope "came as a peacemaker", Fr Vasko said, "ultimately it is up to the respective leaders to work out their differences".

The Franciscans were also disappointed by the new outbreak of violence, given the hope for "new initiatives towards peace" after the papal visit.

"It will take a concerted effort to bring the warring parties to peace," Fr Vasko said. "The expectations of both sides can sometimes be unrealistic based on politics and economy."

Catholic News Agency


Polish bishops defend pro-life doctors

The Polish bishops have responded after strong opposition to staff in the medical profession who signed a pro-life Declaration of Faith.

The declaration recognised "the primacy of God's laws over human laws" in medicine and the signatories have pledged not to play a part in abortion, birth control, in-vitro fertilisation or euthanasia.

In a statement, the Polish bishops remind those opposed to the declaration that refusing a right to conscientious objection undermines basic civilian freedoms. "We cannot forget that restricting a possibility of living these rights in personal life led to totalitarianisms in the past."

They also warned that the aggression of the media and disciplinary pressures "are becoming the modern form of persecutions".

Recently, a Polish doctor was dismissed after refusing to perform an abortion of a child with disabilities. His dismissal was condemned by the Church in Poland.

Zenit News Agency

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Reprinted from AD2000 Vol 27 No 9 (October 2014), p. 4

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