In a bid to renew "serene dialogue" between cultures and to promote
peace in the Middle East, Pope Benedict has met with Iran's former
President Seyyed Mohammad Khatami.
In a first for a Vatican tribunal, a former administrative worker at
the Holy See has been convicted and given a suspended jail sentence for
Tonight's federal budget should be a statement of values for Australia,
according to St Vincent de Paul Society chief Dr John Falzon, who says
the budget should also alleviate housing stress and ensure that climate
change costs are shared equitably.
Former federal minister Fred Chaney, theologian Fr John Thornhill, aged
care advocate Susanne Macri as well as former NSW public servant Gerald
Gleeson make up a swagful of Australian Catholic University honorary
doctorate recipients this week.
The lack of new funding for public hospitals in this year's Federal
Budget is "astounding", says Catholic Health head Francis Sullivan,
while Catholic Social Services director Frank Quinlan describes the
budget as shortsighted.
National Catholic Education Commission chair, Msgr Tom Doyle, has
welcomed Treasurer Peter Costello's budget focus on the needs of the
most disadvantaged students and commended the doubling of English
language tuition assistance.
Cardinals from the Holy See's Congregation for the Saints have voted to
recognise the "heroic virtues" of Pius XII, opening the way for Pope
Benedict to declare the controversial World War II pope "venerable".
Development agency Caritas yesterday joined the nation's Catholic
bishops in a call to Cricket Australia to cancel this year's tour of
Catholic reactions to Tuesday's Budget continue with Caritas Australia
welcoming an increase in overseas aid programs but local charity
Vinnies says that the budget fails to address the needs of "rent-poor"
Sydney Life Office officer, Dr Brigid McKenna, says that a new
Victorian law legalising cloning of stem cells is "gravely unjust" and
will create a "laboratory sub-class" of human beings.
As part of a campaign to stop violence against women, Amnesty
International's board is calling for abortion to be decriminalised
globally but US bishops say that the new policy will compromise its
previously excellent human rights record.
As Brazil's bishops announce a bid to host World Youth Day in 2011,
Holy See nuncio Archbishop Ambrose De Paoli has challenged the
Australian church to give opportunities to young people to share the
impact that the experience has had on them.
Our Lady Queen of Angels Church in Los Angeles has joined a Hollywood
Lutheran Church in announcing that they will offer sanctuary to
undocumented immigrants under threat of deportation.
The Czech Republic's first post-communist president, Vaclav Havel, has
backed a call by other former communist-era dissidents for the release
of Fr Nguyen Van Ly, the pro-democracy priest sentenced to eight years
prison in Vietnam for disseminating "anti-government propaganda".
A Catholic member of Poland's Parliament, Artur Zawisza, is proposing a
ban on miniskirts as part of a campaign against "enticement to sex".
Protestant firebrand Dr Ian Paisley is Northern Ireland's new First
Minister with former militant Catholic Martin McGuinness his deputy as
self-rule is finally restored in the long-troubled region.
Portuguese archaeologists digging in the cloisters of a 17th century
Franciscan convent have found thousands of fire-scorched human bones
indicating the "hellish time" that resulted from the great Lisbon
earthquake of 1755.
Archbishop Fernando Sebastian Aguilar of Pamplona has stirred up a
storm with comments that two far right Spanish political parties, the
Falange and Spanish Alternative, are "worth a vote" because they "want
to be faithful" to Church teachings.
An argument over the participation of women in a football match between
Muslim and Christian clergy in Norway has led to the cancellation of
the "friendly" encounter.
A British man has been jailed for the rape and murder of a Polish
student at a Glasgow Catholic Church whose parish priest also admitted
to a sexual relationship with the victim.
A Couples for Christ lay movement leader, Roger Francisco, who was one
of seven men kidnapped and beheaded by Abu Sayyaf militants in the
Southern Philippines, has been honoured as a Filipino "Braveheart".
Archaeologists from Jerusalem's Hebrew University say that they have
finally located the long-missing tomb and the deliberately destroyed
sarcophagus of King Herod the Great, who is blamed by tradition for the
massacre of the Holy Innocents.
The leaders of Iraq's Catholic communities, Assyrian Church Patriarch
Mar Dinka IV and Babylon Patriarch Emmanuel Delly say that Christians
are facing persecution from Al-Qaeda insurgents and accuse Iraq's
government of failing to protect them.
Speaking to reporters on his way to Brazil, Pope Benedict has backed
Mexican bishops who have threatened excommunication for
parliamentarians who voted to legalise abortion in Mexico City.
Paraguay's outgoing President Nicanor Duarte says that the landlocked
South American nation's constitution bars the election of retired
Bishop Fernando Lugo from seeking the presidency.
Reacting belatedly to an Easter letter by Zimbabwe's Catholic bishops,
President Robert Mugabe has warned that the bishops have chosen a
"dangerous path" but Archbishop Pius Ncube says that it is time for
Mugabe and his "corrupt" regime to go.
On the eve of Pope Benedict's departure for Brazil, supporters of
liberation theologian Fr Jon Sobrino have published a letter of
solidarity for the disciplined Spanish Jesuit and issued a call for
reform of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
A former Sandhurst priest, Fr Adelrick D'Cruz is reported to be facing
13 sexual offence charges including three counts of rape and ten counts
of unlawful indecent assault on a girl.
A Melbourne Mt Lilydale Mercy College student, Bonnie Anderson has won
$250,000 on a Channel 7 talent show - despite being reduced to tears by
unforgiving judge Red Symons.
In a change that brings WA Catholic schools into line with those in
other states, the state's Catholic Education Office is to begin moving
Year 7 classes to secondary schools despite a study that found no
benefit in the transfer.
In the early 1980s, when Pope John Paul II wanted to clamp down on
liberation theology, he turned to a trusted aide: Cardinal Joseph
Ratzinger. Now Cardinal Ratzinger is Pope Benedict, and when he arrives
here tomorrow for his first pastoral visit to Latin America he may be
surprised at what he finds. Liberation theology, which he once called
"a fundamental threat to the faith of the church," persists as an
active, even defiant force in Latin America, home to nearly half the
world's one billion Catholics - Larry Rohter
Last month, playwright Tommy Murphy's adaptation of Melbourne-born actor Tim Conigrave's memoir Holding the Man
was short-listed for the NSW Premier's Literary Award. If there's
anyone left in Sydney's theatre community who hasn't heard of Murphy
after Holding the Man's third season opens this week at the
Opera House, there won't be for long. "I really believe in the
theatre," the 27-year-old says. The seventh of eight children in a
Catholic family, Murphy grew up in Queanbeyan. It's a background that
predisposed him to the communal creativity of theatre - Kelsey Munro
During Pope Benedict XVI's trip to Brazil, I'll once again be
travelling on the papal plane. I'm often asked about the experience of
travelling with the pope. First of all there is no "papal plane" in the
sense of a jet owned by the Vatican and used exclusively for papal
travel. Instead, a regular commercial jet owned by Alitalia, the
national air carrier of Italy, is set aside on the day of the pope's
departure. There's also no special room on the plane for the pope, no
Air Force One-esque office with a couch - John L Allen
As a girl in Catholic school, Khadijah Rivera dreamed of becoming a nun
despite the fact she feared Jesus. She was frightened by her church's
bloodied statue of Christ nailed to the cross and was plagued with fear
when receiving communion. Years later, as an adult, she says she has
now gotten over these fears and learned to love Jesus more. The reason
for her change of heart? Rivera converted to Islam. According to
Rivera, who founded a Muslim support group, Latino Muslims are on the
rise - Anthony Chiorazzi
Jose Ramos-Horta, who yesterday appeared headed for a landslide victory
in East Timor's presidential election, is a Nobel laureate who rose to
prominence promoting his nation's right to independence during 24 years
in exile. A Catholic, Ramos-Horta is one of 11 children, born in the
capital, Dili, to Portuguese-East Timorese parents. A charismatic
speaker, Ramos-Horta told reporters recently: "If I win the election, I
will bear a wooden cross almost as heavy as Christ's. If I lose, I will
win my freedom".
The Brazil and Latin America that Benedict XVI is visiting have
undergone great political, religious and economic changes in this
generation, which have had the accumulative effect of weakening the
church's once unquestioned dominance. Brazil is still the world's
biggest Catholic country, but it is also experiencing the rapid growth
of both Pentecostalism and secularism. In this dynamic context, the
challenge faced by the Church is to ensure that it remains a vital part
of the Brazilian social and political scene - Rodrigo de Almeida
Today Religious may seem to be a dying breed. Certainly, there are only
half the numbers of thirty years ago, and the average age is high.
Changing conditions in the Western world and within the Church have
forced all Catholic Religious to consider who we really are, and what
kind of actions and institutions will truly reflect our identity. They
cannot shape their institutions alone; it will involve a transfer of
responsibility. In making this transfer, they will want to honour the
original inspiration - Fr Mark Raper
May is the month when Catholics generally show special devotion to the
Blessed Virgin Mary. This concentration on her helps us better
understand her participation in the mystery of the Incarnation, for no
one exemplifies better a total commitment to Christ. We Catholics have
every reason to turn to Mary, to seek from her support and
encouragement in living our own faith. If we ponder her life we will
see how her response to God is truly a guide for our own journey of
faith - Bishop Kevin Manning
There was a terrible road accident on the Great Western Highway in the
Blue Mountains, less than 600 metres across the short valley that
separates us from the highway. All of us, at some stage of our lives,
become caught up in accidents like this. A continuing question that
intrigues me about life is the one of just how "accidental" are these
situations that erupt so suddenly and disrupt our plans so irrevocably
when we happen to be the victim? - Brian Coyne
One issue we will face in our lives, sooner or later, if we are serious
and honest about spirituality, is the issue of limits. The story of The
Fall reminds us of limits: Adam and Eve seeking out the "tree of
knowledge" that will allow them to defy their limits. Underpinning this
story is a gentle but persistent call from reality, spoken in different
ways: "Be who and what you are, do not try to be what you are not. Live
within your limits, find your happiness and peace within your limits!"
- Fr Michael Whelan