Chinese Catholic bishop was arrested after Olympic

Beijing, Aug. 25, 2008 - China's most prominent "underground" Catholic bishop was arrested on Sunday, August 24: the day that also saw the closing ceremonies of the Olympic Games in Beijing.

Bishop Julius Jia Zhiguo of Zhengding was taken into custody by several police officers at Wuqiu cathedral. No immediate reason was given for his arrest, and authorities have not disclosed where the aging bishop is being held.

The 73-year-old Bishop Jia, who heads an active diocese of over 100,000 Catholics in the Hebei diocese, spent 15 years in prison, from 1963 to 1978. Since his release he has been re-arrested at least 12 times; ordinarily he has been detained for a few days of interrogation each time. He has been living under house arrest since 1989.

During the Olympic Games, Chinese Christians had been warned not to organize public worship. About 1,000 Catholics in Zhengding defied those orders to join Bishop Jia for a Mass celebrating the feast of the Assumption at Wuqiu cathedral on August 15. Chinese officials-- particularly in the Hebei diocese, where the underground Catholic Church is strong-- have a history of arresting Christian leaders just before and after major public events such as Communist party congresses. The Olympic Games brought a series of warnings against "unauthorized" religious activity, and AsiaNews has noted that some members of the underground Church predicted a crackdown immediately after the Olympics, when media attention decreased.


Indian Catholic missionaries raped, killed

Bhubaneshwar, India, Aug.26,2008 ( - An orphanage run by Catholic missionaries has been burnt by Hindu extremists killing one woman while another was raped, reports from India say.

The International Herald Tribune quotes a senior police officer as saying the woman who died was most likely a lay employee giving computer training to children at the orphanage not a nun as reported earlier.

"Police are investigating. ... The woman most probably was not a nun," said Gopal Chandra Nanda, director general of state police, the most senior officer in the state.

The conflicting reports could not immediately be reconciled. George Abraham, secretary to the archbishop of Delhi, said the identity of the woman had not yet been confirmed because the orphanage was in a remote area.

The attack occurred in Khuntapali, a village in Orissa state, during a strike called by the World Hindu Council to protest the killing Saturday of a Hindu religious leader and four others by suspected communist rebels in another district of the state, Ashok Biswal, superintendent of police, told The Associated Press.

Biswal said on Monday a group of Hindu hardliners converged on the orphanage in Khuntapali, nearly 400 kilometres west of the state capital of Bhubaneshwar, and asked nearly 20 residents to leave the complex.

They then set the orphanage on fire with the woman and priest locked inside, he said.

The woman died and the priest was hospitalised with serious burns, Biswal said.

AsiaNews says that tensions in Orissa are still running high.

Source: Cathnews

Catholic leaders: Church must become a missionary community with a new mentality

Catholic leaders at an international mission conference for the Americas said the church must become a missionary community with a new mentality.

The message for conference participants was that "we have to get involved if we're going to be true to the Gospel of Christ and make a difference in the world in which we're living," Bishop Patrick J. Zurek of Amarillo, Texas, told Catholic News Service. 

The Third American Missionary Congress drew more than 2,000 laypeople, bishops, priests and religious to Quito, Ecuador, Aug. 12-17 to discuss challenges for mission, from family life and fundamentalism to ecology and science. Several participants talked to CNS by telephone during and after the conference.

The closing Mass marked the official launch of the "great continental mission" that bishops from Latin America and the Caribbean announced in May 2007 during their fifth general conference in Aparecida, Brazil.

That mission must build on "a spirit that was begun in Aparecida, the spirit of mission, of discipleship," Auxiliary Bishop Octavio Cisneros of Brooklyn, N.Y., told CNS.

Sister Mary McGlone, president of the U.S. Catholic Mission Association and a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet, said, "The challenge for mission for Latin America is to move beyond the boundaries of Latin America, to go out" to the world.

According to statistics on the congress Web site, South America sends 5,785 missionaries to other countries and receives 12,011.

Bishop Cisneros said that being a missionary church means not just sending missionaries to remote areas, but "realizing that we are all missionaries. Even in our own parishes, we have to become those who ... listen, learn" and proclaim the Gospel.

Speaking on the first day of the conference, Honduran Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Mariadaga of Tegucigalpa said Catholics "must proclaim the good news of the kingdom in faithfulness and strength, especially because there are many who oppose it out of ambition for power, love of wealth or desire for pleasure."

The cardinal said disciples must "be willing to renounce all they have had until now, to carry out the mission of propagating the faith both within and beyond the borders of the country."

Cardinal Rodriguez said the Catholic Church in Latin America must reach out to people who "do not know the full manifestation of the love of God" incarnated in Jesus and must go beyond national borders "to the growing multitude of those who do not know Christ."

At the same time, he said, "as evangelizers, we are concerned about so many men and women who for various reasons ... have become strangers to the faith or to religious meaning."

At last year's meeting in Aparecida, the bishops expressed concern about both the headway made by evangelical groups in the region and the number of Catholics who have become unchurched. One goal of the continental mission is to invite Catholics back into the church.

Sister Mary said it is important to note that the bishops spoke of a "continental mission," not just a Latin American effort. That poses the "challenge of seeing how this experience of interchange can help us become one church in America," she said.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Latin American bishops' council, known as CELAM, work closely together in many areas. For the past decade, Bishop Zurek said, the prelates on both sides of the U.S.-Mexican border have met several times a year to discuss common concerns, especially ministry to migrants.

However, the U.S. bishops have not yet established an office to coordinate the continental mission with Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean, and it is not clear what form the effort will take.

Bishop Zurek said the continental mission should provide an opportunity to emphasize issues of common concern, such as migration, globalization and economic justice.

One challenge is to get Catholics in the United States "involved with the issues of South America," he said. "Can we make a difference with our government, in the sense of the way we do politics, or with our economic community, in the way we do business in Latin America, so that people will not have to leave to come and find work in our country?"

By including the U.S. and Canadian church leaders in the continental mission, he said, "we are saying we are one America, we are one family, we are one church."

Source: CNS

Pope Benedict XVI warned Catholics of the perils of pop culture

Sydney , July 17, 2008 - Pope Benedict XVI on Thursday warned Catholics of the perils of pop culture and pillaging the earth's resources after a rapturous welcome at the world's biggest Christian festival in Australia.

Speaking against the spectacular backdrop of Sydney's famous harbour, the pontiff told hundreds of thousands of pilgrims in Australia's biggest and trendiest city that "something is amiss" in modern society.

"Our world has grown weary of greed, exploitation and division, of the tedium of false idols and piecemeal responses, and the pain of false promises," the pope said after a welcoming ceremony by Aborigines in tribal paint.

Benedict told a vast sea of youths from around the world, gathered under a forest of national flags for World Youth Day, that humanity was squandering the earth's resources to satisfy its insatiable appetite for material goods.

In one of his strongest-ever messages on the environment , the pope spoke poetically of his 20-hour flight from Rome to Australia, saying the wondrous views from his plane evoked a profound sense of awe.

But the 81-year-old pontiff told his young audience that the planet's problems were also easier to perceive from the sky.

"Perhaps reluctantly, we come to acknowledge that there are scars which mark the surface of our earth -- erosion, deforestation, the squandering of the world's mineral and ocean resources in order to fuel an insatiable consumption," he said.

Earlier, shouts of "Viva, Papa" rang out over the harbour as a "boat-a-cade" of 13 vessels led by a water-spouting fire tug and flanked by bodyguards on jet skis glided past Sydney's iconic Opera House and Harbour Bridge en route to the pope's World Youth Day debut.

Benedict arrived in Sydney last Sunday, but took a four-day holiday before beginning his formal duties, which end with a papal mass expected to draw 500,000 people on Sunday.

Ahead of his public appearance, he was welcomed by Governor-General Michael Jeffery, the representative of Australia's head of state, Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, and Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

In a brief speech at the ceremony at Sydney's Government House, the pontiff hailed Rudd's apology to Aborigines for past injustices in an historic address to parliament in February.

"Thanks to the Australian government's courageous decision to acknowledge the injustices committed against the indigenous peoples in the past, concrete steps are now being taken to achieve reconciliation based on mutual respect," Benedict said.

"This example of reconciliation offers hope to peoples all over the world who long to see their rights affirmed and their contribution to society acknowledged and promoted."

But there was some confusion over whether the pope would deliver an apology of his own -- to Australian victims of sex abuse by Catholic clergymen, as the scandal cast a shadow over the festival.

Benedict indicated to journalists on his plane on the way to Australia that he would apologise but a Vatican official late Wednesday raised doubts over the issue.

The angry parents of two Australian girls sexually abused by a Catholic priest urged Benedict not to back away from his apparent pledge to apologise.

"I can't really understand why they're backpedalling on that," said Anthony Foster, as he and his wife Christine flew into Sydney after cutting short a holiday in London.

The Fosters' daughter Emma committed suicide this year aged 26, after struggling to deal with abuse by a priest while she was at primary school.

Her sister Katie was also abused and turned to alcohol in her teens before being involved in a motor accident which left her brain-damaged.

Rudd, a committed Christian who attends Anglican services, told the pope that he was welcomed by Australians of all faiths "as an apostle of peace."

The pope later toured the city in his bullet-proof "popemobile" through thousands of cheering, flag-brandishing pilgrims and bemused locals heading home from work.

World Youth Day, a celebration of the Catholic faith aimed at rejuvenating the church, has been held in a different host city around the world every two or three years since 1986.


Pope wants Catholic parishes to offer Masses in Latin

Phoenix, June 21, 2008 - Pope Benedict XVI wants Catholic parishes worldwide to offer Masses in Latin, saying it is a "gift from God" and a "treasure from the past" that should be offered alongside Mass celebrated in the regular language of people where they live.

But East Valley Catholics doubt many would turn out for such Masses after initial curiosity or the novelty ended. So they wonder about the value in training current parish priests in Latin and teaching them to properly lead the old Mass, with its distinctive chants and precise rituals.

"I don't think very many Catholics are going to go back to the Tridentine Latin Mass," said the Rev. John Cunningham, the founding priest of St. Bridget parish in Mesa and St. Mary Magdalene parish in Gilbert. "They have lived with the New Mass for 40 years, and I believe they find it more meaningful and expressive of their faith."

"Vernacularization" was instituted as part of the sweeping changes of Vatican Council II (1962-65) to renew spirituality in the church in a modern world, to give lay people greater roles and to better experience the Mass in terms they understand.

On June 14, Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, president of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, announced Pope Benedict 's request to the Latin Mass Society in London. "The Holy Father is not returning to the past; he is taking a treasure from the past to offer it alongside the rich celebration of the new rite," the cardinal said, adding that the pope wanted it in "all the parishes. Not many, all the parishes, because this is a gift of God."

The call includes a request to all Catholic seminaries to train candidates for the priesthood to celebrate the Latin Rite. Moreover, parishes could use their catechism classes to prepare Catholics largely unfamiliar with the rites followed before 1970, when the Novus Ordo Mass was ordered. Latin Masses are to follow the 1962 Roman Missal, first codified by Pope Pius V after the Council of Trent (1545-1563).

At the initiation of Bishop Thomas Olmsted, Masses in Latin have been offered daily since 2004 in an east Phoenix parish, monthly in a Mesa church and at other scattered parishes in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix.

"We are supportive of the Tridentine Mass where people want the Mass, and we are trying to train more priests," said diocesan spokesman Jim Dwyer. But, he said, Bishop Olmsted and Office of Worship staff have not seen the official Vatican communications related to Pope Benedict 's call. "Until we see the guidelines, we really can't address the idea of doing it in every parish yet," he said.

The plan got generally a cool reception among Catholics reached for reaction.

"I haven't had any requests in my parish for the Latin Mass," said the Rev. Doug Lorig, pastor of St. Maria Goretti parish in Scottsdale. He has not heard of any of his parishioners regularly attending the 6:30 a.m. daily Mass at St. Thomas the Apostle in Phoenix or one at 1 p.m. Sundays that typically draws as many as 250 worshipers.

"They haven't asked for it, and I haven't made any kind of offering for it," Lorig said. For priests, he said, it would take extensive training to meet the rubrics and procedures of the Mass not commonly experienced by Catholics in decades. It's much more than just mastering Latin, he said, "You have to learn all the liturgical movements, and everything behind it." Lorig predicted "a lot of priests are going to hesitate, and they certainly aren't going to do it if there is no call for it."

"I don't see a need to see it in every parish," said Betty Bova, a member of St. Bernard of Clairvaux parish in Scottsdale. Those who want the Latin Mass "could travel a little bit and just go to it," she said. If her parish had such a Mass mixed into its weekend schedule, "I would probably attend once just for curiosity and for old-time sake, because when I was little, that is what we did," Bova said.

"I think it's boring," said 82-year-old Mary Douglas of Tempe, a longtime member of St. Mary's parish in Chandler, saying the church should be more concerned with retaining young Catholics. "What can we do to make people to stop leaving the church?"

Many Catholics cannot even understand the Mass in English, "much less in Latin," said Douglas, who, for many years, has attended St. Mary's Christmas Eve Latin Mass, which she termed a "rewarding experience," nonetheless.

"The big picture is what counts," she stressed. "Why are people leaving? Why do they not attend Mass? Why is Mass boring?"

Allison Walters, a 38-year-old Tempean with St. Andrew the Apostle parish in Chandler, said she hears no call from her Catholic peers for a Latin Mass. "I appreciate it for the history and the charm, how it once was," Walters said. "I would want to attend it once and experience it once, but I wouldn't do it on a regular basis." She said she would take her two children. "They would be bored quicker than me," she predicted.

"You would have to attend it pretty regularly to figure it out," she said, adding that the priest's homily in English now has great meaning to her, but likely she would not make such a connection if she listened to it in Latin.

A member of St. Mary Magdalene parish in Gilbert, Judy Webber, recalls singing Latin in a choir when she was young. "The nice thing about it was that no matter where you went in the world, or within the States, the same Mass was celebrated." Webber said the old Mass represents a "rich tradition, and I really welcome it back and look forward to it."

Jay Kilroy, a parishioner of Queen of Peace in Mesa, said he was "very refreshed by Vatican II. I thought it was a great move in the right direction." He would not attend a Latin Mass if it was offered at his church. "I have not felt or sensed that there was a groundswell of people who like the Latin Mass," he said.

The priest who regularly leads Latin Masses in Phoenix, Mesa, Clarkdale and Flagstaff, the Rev. Kenneth Fryar, welcomed the news of the pope's quest for the spread of the Masses.

"God deserves proper adoration, proper devotion, proper respect, and that is what this Mass is all about," he said. He criticized those who want Mass to be "convenient" or fitting their wishes. "Convenience is out of the question here. The church has always been dedicated to serving God. That is the main issue here."

The rite calls for the priest and congregation to all face the altar because "the whole focus of the Mass is toward God, and he unites himself with the people," said Fryar, adding that "praying and praising" isn't a "social thing" where there has to be a lot of music "and you need a lot of stuff to keep everyone entertained."

He insists that Olmsted "has made it clear that he doesn't want anyone celebrating the (Latin) Mass who doesn't know how to do it properly."

Cunningham said no one has requested, to him, a celebration of the Latin Mass during his 34 years in the priesthood. He said he believes the pope may be seeking to engender "a sense of unity in the church," evoking the pre-Vatican II times when it was the universal language for the church. He said today's younger priests seem to be "more conservative, in general, and display a penchant for traditionalism when it comes to the liturgy," so "some of them, no doubt, will be pleased with the return to the Tridentine Mass in Latin and its 16th century theology," said Cunningham, a religious studies instructor at Arizona State University.

Across the Phoenix diocese, with 91 parishes and 25 missions, Masses are offered in eight languages, besides English and Latin: Spanish, Italian, Korean, Filipino, Vietnamese, Tongan, Lithuanianand Mayan, according to Dwyer.

"I have never heard any of my friends being serious about returning to the Latin Mass," said Harold "Hal" White, a member of Church of the Resurrection parish in Tempe. "We just don't talk about it. ... If they want it, I think it's fine. I don't think I would go back to it."


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