Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Number of seminarians in U.S. & Worldwide on the rise
The number of seminarians in the United States has risen to 3,608--the highest number since the early 1990s--with some seminaries experiencing their highest enrollment in decades.
In Minnesota, the archdiocesan seminary in St. Paul has its largest enrollment since 1980, while enrollment at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Ohio is the largest since the 1970s. Theological College in Washington is at its maximum enrollment.
"I'm tremendously impressed with the quality of the candidates, their zeal," said Father Phillip Brown, who was appointed rector of Theological College in March. "We're seeing a real renewal of the priesthood."
Under Blessed John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, the Church worldwide has been blessed with a priestly vocation boom. The number of major seminarians surged from 63,882 in 1978 to 117,978 in 2009, an increase of nearly 85%, outstripping world population growth (58%) and Catholic population growth (56%) during the same time period.
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
(mospat.ru) - The Coordinating Committee of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church began its work in Rome on 22 November 2011. Taking part in the meeting as consultants on behalf of the Russian Orthodox Church are Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate's Department for External Church Relations, and archimandrite Kirill (Govorun), first deputy chairman of the Education Committee of the Russian Orthodox Church.
At the beginning of the meeting, members of the committee decided unanimously to send congratulations to His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia on his 65th birthday. The two co-chairmen, His Eminence Metropolitan John of Pergamon, Patriarchate of Constantinople, and Cardinal Kurt Koch signed the message.
In his address, Metropolitan Hilarion reminded the participants that a discussion of the problem of unia was a precondition of the return of the Russian Orthodox Church to the process of the dialogue. This position was espoused by the Orthodox participants in the meeting. The problems of general methodology of elaborating the document on the primacy of the Roman Pontiff were discussed at the suggestion of Metropolitan Hilarion, who believes that the methodology should reflect the centuries-old experience of the Orthodox dispute against papal claims to universal authority in the Church.
The Commission will continue its work till November 25th.
SSPX seeks amendments to Doctrinal Preamble, Bishop Fellay discloses
The head of the Society of St. Pius X has confirmed that the traditionalist group will not accept the "Doctrinal Preamble" offered by the Vatican, and will seek modifications in the document.
Bishop Bernard Fellay said that the Doctrinal Preamble, which has not been made public, was the basis for further negotiations between the SSPX and the Vatican. He pointed out that the document was sent to the SSPX along with a note that "foresees the possibility of making clarifications."
The SSPX will reply by suggesting some clarifications, Bishop Fellay said. "The proposal that I will make in the next few days to the Roman authorities, and their response in turn will enable us to evaluate our remaining options," he said. Bishop Fellay said that it was appropriate to delay publication of the Doctrinal Preamble, because it is the subject of delicate negotiations. Once those negotiations are concluded, he said—whatever the result—the document will be made public.
The SSPX leader seemed to indicate that the remaining point of contention is the authority of the Second Vatican Council. He noted that the Doctrinal Preamble allows for "legitimate discussion" on some conciliar statements. "What is the extent of this leeway?" he asked.
The Doctrinal Preamble, Bishop Fellay explained, is intended to serve of the preamble to a canonical document that would regularize the status of the SSPX. If the traditionalist group fails to reach an agreement with the Vatican on the document, that path toward reconciliation would be closed.
Vatican newspaper sees reinvigorated atheism
In recent years, atheism become less of a "pragmatic space of irreligiousness and indifference" and more of an active intellectual force, according to an essay published in L'Osservatore Romano.
Adriano Pessina, who teaches philosophy at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, sees
a return to theoretical atheism, assisted by references to scientific discourse. After the classic seasons of suspect teachers (Marx, Nietzsche, Freud), today it is the turn of neo-darwinism and neuroscience to furnish arguments for the belief that God does not exist … The second and more interesting change, perhaps, is atheism as a new form of morality … The new apologetics of atheism privileges the reference to empirical science to justify the thesis that without God one can live morally well and even more, one can and must take into one's own hands the future of an evolution which until now has been blind, so to speak, but can now finally be governed by a human project freed from the tether of ancestral prohibitions formed under a divine authority.
"One can and must respond to the arguments of the new apologetics of atheism, which is anything but post-metaphysical, trusting in the great resources which human reason, saved by the event of the Incarnation, provides," Pessina adds. "After a period of weak thought and fluid identities, the question of the seriousness of existence in its necessary rootedness with or against God, is raised again in the public space of culture."
Pope's book is an advance in Biblical scholarship, says rector of Lateran University
In his book Jesus of Nazareth, Pope Benedict XVI takes "a methodological step forward" in Biblical scholarship, showing that exegesis can "see itself once again as a theological discipline," according to the rector of the Pontifical Lateran University.
Bishop Enrico Dal Covolo spoke at the University of Messina, in one of a series of lectures organized by the Vatican publishing house to draw attention to the Pope's book. The bishop's focus was on the volume: Jesus of Nazareth: From the Entrance into Jerusalem to the Resurrection.
The Pope's first volume had covered the 3-year period from the months from the Lord's Baptism to his entry into Jerusalem, Bishop Dal Covolo noted. Now this volume covers a span of just a few days. The point, he said, is to show "immediately that the passion, death, and resurrection are not simply the epilogue of Jesus' life. They are what gives meaning to all the rest."
The Holy Spirit and the Church (Catechism of the Catholic Church [CCC])
744 In the fullness of time the Holy Spirit completes in Mary all the preparations for Christ's coming among the People of God. By the action of the Holy Spirit in her, the Father gives the world Emmanuel "God-with-us" (Mt 1:23).
Monday, November 28, 2011
Pope reflects of music's path to transcendence
Pope Benedict XVI attended a musical concert on Saturday evening, November 26. Following a performance of works by Falla, Albeniz, Rueda, Strauss, and Rimsky-Korsakov, by the Orchestra of Asturias, the Pontiff offered some thoughts on the music. All of the pieces on the program "share the fundamental characteristic of using music to communicate feelings and emotions--almost I would say the fabric of daily life," the Pope remarked. He added that the works also drew attention to religious faith.
"This," the Pope said, "is the magic worked by music, the universal language which can overcome all barriers and allow us to enter the world of others, of a nation or a culture, at the same time enabling us to turn our mind and hearts ... to the world of God."
Saturday, November 26, 2011
by Dario Salvi
Some 30 years after the fall of the blood-drenched regime, the country still bears the "social and personal" scars caused by violence and slaughter. Anxiety, stress and depression affect more than 10 per cent of the population, but are seen as "ghosts to be rid off through rituals". A Catholic health care worker talks about her work and the need for more facilities to meet the emergency.
Rome (AsiaNews) – The Khmer Rouge trial is "a form of rehabilitation and healing" for all Cambodians who still bear the wounds inflicted by Maoist revolutionaries. In addition to the "social wounds" that people share, "personal traumas" caused by the massacres perpetuated by the Khmer Rouge regime persist, "sealed away inisde" out of fear or shame, or because facilities needed to deal with them are non-existent, said Many Phok.
The 30-year-old married mother of two is also the deputy director of an NGO, New Hope for Cambodian Children. She spoke to AsiaNews in Rome where she represents Cambodia at the 26th International Conference of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers that opened yesterday in the Vatican. This year's meeting, titled 'Health Pastoral Care, Serving Life in the Light of the Magisterium of Blessed John Paul II'," is dedicated to Karol Wojtyla. An estimated 685 participants are expected from 70 countries.
On Monday, the UN court trying Khmer Rouge crimes in Phnom Penh opened a second trial against Khmer Rouge leaders Nuon Chea, aka 'Brother Number two', Democratic Kampuchea former President Khieu Samphan, and former Foreign Minister Ieng Sary.
The first trial ended in a 30-year sentence for Kaing Guek Eav, aka 'Comrade Duch', for his role as head of the infamous S-21 prison. Located at Tuol Sleng, a hill in Phnom Penh, the prison saw the death of 15,000 people; only seven former inmates survived.
Led by Pol Pot, the Maoist dictatorship lasted from 1975 to 1979. During that time, almost 2 million people or a quarter of the entire population died.
Although critical of the UN tribunal because of accusations of corruption and inefficiency, most Cambodians see it as "tool of healing" to deal with their collective and individual scars.
"People show their suffering upfront when they are in the witness box as they recall the time of massacres," Many Phok said. At the same time, a "sense of relief" comes over them after they tell their stories to the judges. "We can't forget the past," she explained. "And until now, we have not had an opportunity to reflect upon what the country went through."
Although it might still be too early to look at the Khmer Rouge era with an adequate distance, 30 years later, people are starting to look at this past. They want to preserve the memory of the regime's victims but also to know "why the Cambodian people tried to destroy itself".
"Each year," Many Phok noted, "my family pays tribute to my grandfather, who was killed by the Khmer Rouges. The anniversary provides an opportunity to weep for the victims and remember the past. But when the trial is on TV, tears dry up and emotions are replaced by a desire to comprehend the past. Every day life and the places that remind you of the genocide make it impossible to forget what happened."
The collective tragedy of a people is compounded by individual psychological traumas that continue or emerge over time. The latter must be treated with appropriate therapies, but in Cambodia this approach and those who seek help hit against a wall of suspicion and reticence. Cambodian folk wisdom focuses on self-reliance, Many Phok explained, and this indicative of "widespread suspicion towards mental illness, which people tend to hide even from relatives, as if they were sources of shame and humiliation."
Depression, anxiety, panic attacks and other conditions related to mental and social malaise or personal traumas are seen as "ghosts that seize people", to be cured through rituals, special blessings or magical formulas to "chase away evil spirits". Rather than go to the doctor, people go to "faith-healers or the Buddhist monks for a ritual."
In fact, psychological problems are "widespread", Many Phok explained. Known as 'illnesses on the road to the heart", they affect "more than 10 per cent of the population, but the figure could be higher."
Things are made worse by confusion between neurobiology and psychiatry as well as the lack of facilities. In some places, wards are "more like cages for the mad" and are an obstacle to treatment and healing.
A centre for patients suffering from psychological problems exists in Phnom Penh. The same is not the case outside the capital. There are shortages of all sorts and the needs of the population cannot be met.
For the Catholic activist, "counselling activities for patients, both adults and children, is fundamental to understand what therapy to follow in order to treat the underlying causes of social or personal malaise."
Pro-life group runs pro-adoption ads at time when 40% of unplanned babies aborted
OTTAWA, November 22, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A Canadian pro-life organization is running an award-winning media campaign on adoption this November, National Adoption Awareness Month.
LifeCanada, a national association of pro-life groups, first launched the campaign in November 2010 and is running it again this year.
Project director Anastasia Bowles pointed out that while almost 60% of unplanned pregnancies result in the woman choosing to parent her child, 40% end in abortion, and less than 2% of single Canadian women facing an unexpected pregnancy will place their children for adoption.
"Too often negative stereotypes prevail about adoption, and it is the birth parents, adoptees and adoptive parents who are hurt," Bowles said. "Women assume that their children will end up in foster care or will be abused, but that is rarely the case."
The Adoption in Canada ads have been displayed in various media all across Canada and have received commendation from pro-life MP Maurice Vellacott, who sat on the Human Resources Parliamentary Committee which studied adoption last year.
"The campaign promotes respect for adoptive families, adoptees and especially, birth parents, recognizing that all have a unique and important role in strengthening Canadian families and communities," said Vellacott.
The campaign is targeted specifically to women aged 18 to 29 years who are facing an unforeseen pregnancy and who may never have been told about adoption and the resources that are available to help them.
"For the few who have chosen adoption or are thinking about it, there is little support and information available," Bowles said. "They can be stigmatized for 'giving away' their baby. In reality, however, these women are being very heroic and doing something they believe to be in the best interests of their child. They deserve recognition and compassion for that."
The ads earned a Silver Medal at the International Davey Awards for creative advertising, and a Bronze Medal at the Summit International awards in the Consumer Magazine Advertising category.
For more information visit the Adoption in Canada website here.
Rex Murphy: What the tolerant must tolerate
Rex Murphy Nov 26, 2011 – 5:45 AM ET | Last Updated: Nov 26, 2011 11:29 AM ET
Left to Right: Russell Peters and Pamela Anderson as the Virgin Mary in A RUSSELL PETERS CHRISTMAS.
To be a serious Christian in modern Western culture is to be the favoured easy target of every progressive thinker and every half-witted comedian. It is to have your sensibilities and your deepest beliefs on perpetual call for taunts, mockery and desecration. At a time when all progressives preach full volume for inclusivity and sensitivity, for the utmost care in speech when speaking of others with differing views or hues, Christians, as Christians, are under a constant hail of abuse and disregard. There is nothing too low or too vulgar.
Something as inconsequential as a Christmas special, for example, will have — almost as an essential element, it being "Christ's" birthday after all — something determinedly offensive to Christians. Russell Peters, the Canadian joker, for his special this year has invited Pamela Anderson, pinup queen and soft porn actress, to play the Virgin Mary.
Pamela Anderson as Mary the Immaculate: I know — the wit, the daring, the originality — hell, the bravery of it all. No wonder Peters is at the very top of the yuk-heap. Can it be that it's only 30 years since Monty Python and The Life of Brian? Talk about "cutting-edge." The casting is so, so clever — getting a lewd exhibitionist to play Mary, to call in a pop-culture tart to play the very Mother of God.
But for believers to object, well that would be irksome and stuffy and high-handed and parochial — it being another of this age's curious predisposition that Christians are supposed, if not to like the jeers hurled at them, to at least be good enough to suffer the insults, blasphemies and mockeries in silence, if not secret approval. To actually object to Russell Peters going for a cheap, unintelligent and vulgar laugh would probably get categorized as "intolerance" or "censorship." Go for it, Russell — Pam Anderson as the Virgin Mary will tickle the funnybone of every single digit IQ from St. John's to Victoria.
There was another example in the now nearly defunct occupy movement. In Vancouver they lit a "sacred fire" on the lawn of the art gallery — I think the "sacred flame" itself was kept in an oil drum (a curious temple, but leave that go). When the Vancouver fire brigade arrived to put it out, there being bylaws about fires in public places, there were ululations of the most ferocious kind accusing the firemen of committing a grave offence against native spirituality.
Meantime, overseas, their occupy brethren in London were found to be defecating (I could use the vulgar term here as it so matches the act, but let us retain some respect) within — not on the steps or in the precincts, but within — St. Paul's Cathedral. St. Paul's — in ancient times the cathedral where John Donne preached, where Lancelot Andrews, one of the fathers of the King James Bible, was dean, a cathedral arguably second in importance in Christianity only to the Vatican — treated as a sewer.
A report for the cathedral summed up the mischiefs and abuse: "Desecration: Graffiti have been scratched and painted on to the great west doors of the cathedral, the chapter house door and most notably a sacrilegious message painted on the restored pillars of the west portico. Human defecation has occurred in the west portico entrance and inside the cathedral on several occasions."
In short, they turned St. Paul's Cathedral into a public toilet and used its sacred walls as a crude bulletin board. However, there was no vast outcry at the appalling disrespect, the deep contumely such acts represent. Put out a "sacred fire," set in the first place mainly to provoke, and it's shock and petty scandal. Defecate in St. Paul's, and I'll bet this is the first time many reading this have heard of the outrage.
Of episodes of this kind there is no end, and it will surely be accounted a kind of prudery or humourlessness to make objection to them. Let it be so. However, there is a radical inconsistency to the treatment afforded to Christian believers and that of most other religious groups and it is not idle to insist on this point. It would be rather nice if so many people, the Christians of the West, who offer respect, tolerance and regard for beliefs other than their own, could be treated with equal civility and courtesy.
And nice, too, if Russell Peters could see the cheapness of his ever-so-hilarious casting call.
Rex Murphy offers commentary weekly on CBC TV's The National, and is host of CBC Radio's Cross Country Checkup.
Friday, November 25, 2011
A conference organized by the diocese of Saigon in memory of the martyrs canonized by Blessed John Paul II. Card. J.B. Phạm Minh Mẫn, "" The greatest miracle connected to the canonization of 117 martyrs of Vietnam is the existence and growth of the Church of Vietnam. "
Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNews) - Catholics in Vietnam are commemorating the 117 martyrs of their country canonized by Blessed John Paul II on 19 June 1988. A small part of the over 130 thousand Catholics killed for witnessing to their faith during the persecution carried out by Vietnamese kings. From November 21 to 26, the diocese of Saigon is holding a conference, attended by 180 people: 58 priests, 27 religious and 95 lay people in parishes. Before Mass celebrating the feast of the martyrs, on Nov. 24, Cardinal JB Phạm Minh Mẫn expressed his feelings to pilgrims, during a meeting at the seminary of St. Joseph: "The greatest miracle connected to the canonization of 117 martyrs of Vietnam is the existence and growth of the Church of Vietnam."
The cardinal said that "the blood of martyrs is the seed of faith that God has continued to pour on our country in many historical periods of difficulty and change. There is not only the blood of the martyrs, but also the sweat and tears of Catholic families, communities, and our ancestors in Vietnam. All you have sacrificed to serve God, the Church and society. Today we show our gratitude to the martyrs of Vietnam and our ancestors, and pray God for the Church today, asking God to give us water from the spring, the seeds for the growth of the Church and society in the present and future " .
Card. Phạm Minh Mẫn also spoke at the conference, stressing that "everyone should reflect on and identify the obstacles in the way of renewal, examine the root causes and find a way out of this vicious circle, that prevents communion from expanding both in the Church and society. The aim is to bring the Gospel values and human life in to family, social, economic and political life today. This is the way to take part in the mission of the New Evangelization, and accompany Jesus in service to life and the development of the human family. "
Auxiliary Bishop Peter Nguyễn Văn Khảm preached on the feast of the Martyrs of Vietnam. He emphasized that "commemorating the martyrs of Vietnam is not only a way to show respect for their sanctity, but also to promote a spirit of martyrdom like theirs. Being present means being brave martyrs, witnessing to the Good News of God and showing the love of Jesus in every circumstance. "
Human nature always asks the question about God, Pope says
Speaking on November 25 to the members of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, Pope Benedict XVI said that the Church must meet the challenge of proclaiming God's existence to an increasingly skeptical world.
The question of God is always relevant and always pressing, the Pope insisted. Even when societies become averse to any discussion of faith, human nature ensures that people will ask the ultimate questions.
Looking back across the year, Pope Benedict mentioned the World Youth Day celebration in Madrid and the Lay Congress in Seoul as key initiatives undertaken by the Pontifical Council for the Laity. He called particular attention to the Asian event, which took place in "a continent that is home to people of different cultures and religions of ancient origin, who often live the [Christian] faith in difficult circumstances, sometimes even suffering persecution."