Since the government invests resources in many different projects, the Holy Father reasoned, "there does not appear to be any justification for excluding adequate support for the work of Church institutions in the field of education." Public investment in Catholic schools, he said, "could not fail to produce beneficial effects" for secular society.
The Italian bishops are holding their 58th general assembly in Rome this week, with the meetings taking place in the Vatican Synod hall. The Pope spoke to the bishops about the main topics for this meeting: education and evangelization.
Italy today faces an "educational crisis," the Pope warned, raising a theme that he has mentioned frequently during his pontificate. The Pontiff has repeatedly spoken about the need to provide young people with adequate moral and cultural formation. From the Catholic perspective, he said, the educational crisis involves "the transmission of the faith to new generations."
Educators and pastors must battle with a culture of relativism, which "puts God within parentheses and discourages all true commitment," the Pope told the Italian hierarchy. To overcome that sort of opposition, he said, the Church needs to muster greater "evangelical energy" and to demonstrate the joy of faith.
The Pope said that he could see signs of a desire for change in Italian society-- signs of a new willingness to recognize the need for moral integrity and commitment. The Church has a special role to play in that societal recovery, he said, adding: "No other human and social problem can truly be solved if God does not return to the center of our lives."
While recognizing the autonomy of the secular political world, the Pope told the prelates that "it is important to resist all tendencies to consider religion, and in particular Christianity, as a purely private matter." He urged the bishops to continue their efforts to support marriage and family life, and to act as advocates the poor in Italy and around the world.
In other news, the Holy See has confirmed that on June 6, Pope Benedict will receive Italy’s Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in a private audience. The Pope and Berlusconi last met on November, 19, 2005 during a previous Berlusconi term as prime minister.
Vatican City, May. 16, 2008 - When Pope Paul VI spoke about the "smoke of Satan" entering the Catholic Church, he was referring to liturgical abuses, according to the prelate who served as his master of ceremonies.
Cardinal Virgilio Noe, the chief Vatican liturgist during the pontificate of Paul VI, spoke candidly about the late Pope's concerns in an interview with the Roman Petrus web site. The Italian prelate-- who was also the Vatican's top liturgist under Pope John Paul I and the early years of the pontificate of John Paul II-- is now retired, and at the age of 86 his health is failing. In his interview with Petrus he concentrated primarily on his years serving Pope Paul VI.
Pope Paul accepted the liturgical reforms after Vatican II "with pleasure," Cardinal Noe said. He added that Paul VI was not be nature a sad man, but "he was saddened by the fact of having been left alone by the Roman Curia." Regarding the late Pope's famous remark about the "smoke of Satan," Cardinal Noe said that he knew what Paul VI intended by that statement. In that denunciation, he said, the Pope "meant to include all those priests or bishops and cardinals who didn't render worship to the Lord by celebrating badly Holy Mass because of an errant interpretation of the implementation of the Second Vatican Council. He spoke of the smoke of Satan because he maintained that those priests who turned Holy Mass into dross in the name of creativity, in reality were possessed of the vainglory and the pride of the Evil One. So, the smoke of Satan was nothing other than the mentality which wanted to distort the traditional and liturgical canons of the Eucharistic ceremony."
For Pope Paul VI, the cardinal continued, the worst outcome of the post-conciliar liturgical reform was the "craving to be in the limelight" that caused many priests to ignore liturgical guidelines. Cardinal Noe recalled that the Pope himself believed in careful adherence to the rubrics of the Mass, firmly believing that "no one is lord of the Mass."
Speaking for himself, the former top Vatican liturgist said that the liturgy must always be celebrated with reverence and careful respect for the rubrics. He said with regret that in the wake of Vatican II "it was believed that everything, or nearly, was permitted." Cardinal Noe said: "Now it is necessary to recover-- and in a hurry-- the sense of the sacred in the ars celebrandi, before the smoke of Satan completely pervades the whole Church."
Canberra, May. 13, 2008 (vaticans.org) - The Australian Catholic bishops' conference has issued a public statement warning of "doctrinal difficulties" in a book by the retired bishop.
Bishop Geoffrey Robinson, who was an auxiliary bishop of the Sydney archdiocese for 20 years prior to his retirement in 2001, is the author of Confronting Power and Sex in the Catholic Church: Reclaiming the Spirit of Jesus. Bishop Robinson is currently on a promotional tour, speaking about the book to audiences in the United States.
At their May meeting, the Australian bishops warn that Confronting Power calls into question "the authority of the Catholic Church to teach the truth definitively." The book reflects "Bishop Robinson’s uncertainty about the knowledge and authority of Christ himself," the bishops report.
The bishops' statement goes on to note problems with the bishop's book on "among other things, the nature of Tradition, the inspiration of the Holy Scripture, the infallibility of the Councils and the Pope, the authority of the Creeds, the nature of the ministerial priesthood and central elements of the Church’s moral teaching."
The Australian bishops express their gratitude for the work Bishop Robinson did before his retirement, particularly his work with victims of sexual abuse. "However," their statement continues, "people have a right to know clearly what the Catholic Church believes and teaches."
The statement indicates that the bishops' conference had corresponded with Bishop Robinson in an effort to resolve problems with the book. The fundamental problem, the statement notes, is the author's failure to acknowledge that "the Church's magisterium teaches the truth authoritatively in the name of Christ."
The bishops acknowledge, "The authority entrusted by Christ to his Church may at times be poorly exercised." Nevertheless, the statement says, the failures of human leaders does not "invalidate the Church’s authority to teach particular truths of faith and morals."
Vatican City, Apr. 15, 2008 (vaticans.org) - During an exchange with reporters who accompanied him on an April 15 flight from Rome to Washington, Pope Benedict XVI said that he was "deeply ashamed" of the sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests.
The Holy Father told reporters that he would "do everything possible to heal this wound." Specifically, he said that it was important to exclude pedophiles from the priesthood.
The Pope's reaction to the sex-abuse scandal is a leading concern among reporters covering the papal visit to the United States. As prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, prior to his election as Pope, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was responsible for disciplinary action imposed on pedophile priests. Close associates report that the future Pontiff was appalled by the information he received from the US about priestly misconduct.
Vatican officials have indicated that the Pope will address some remarks to the scandal during his visit to the US this week-- probably when he addresses seminarians in New York.
Pope Benedict was due to arrive at Andrews Air Force base, outside Washington, at 4 on Tuesday afternoon. President George W. Bush was to lead the official US delegation at an informal welcoming ceremony. Upon his arrival the Pope is due to travel directly to the residence of the apostolic nuncio in Washington; there are other events on the Pope's schedule for the day.
The White House has scheduled a dinner to celebrate the Pope's arrival, which will be attended by various Catholic dignitaries. Pope Benedict himself was never expected to attend the dinner and-- contrary to some reports circulated on internet news sites-- did not turn down a White House invitation to the event.
London, U.K, Mar.19, 2008 (vaticans.org) - In a rare move, Catholic politicians in Britain’s Labour government have been allowed to opt out of government legislation that goes against the faith.
The decision was made after three Catholic members of Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s cabinet made it known they opposed legislation that would allow the creation of human-animal hybrid embryos, and loosen restrictions on in-vitro fertilization treatments for single women and homosexual couples.
The news was welcomed by England’s Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor.
“It means they recognised the importance of conscience and they shouldn´t force people on a Bill which touches very distinct and important moral issues to have to vote against their conscience,” he said.
The announcement came after strenuous lobbying of the government by the Church.
Cardinal Murphy O’Conner believes the Church’s view is finally getting greater prominence in the public square after years of pressure to push it into the private sphere.
The legislation, which has already been delayed in an attempt to reach a compromise, will be voted on in the next two months.