Sunday, 12 July 2009

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Brazil case revisited

Remember the scandalous criticism by Archbishop Fisichella of the action of the Brazilian Archbishop Sobrinho to uphold the Church's teaching on abortion?

Well now the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith have stepped in and published a clarification in L'Osservatore Romano. It isn't quite what is really needed - such as Archbishop Fisichella's resignation. But it is a start.

Here is an extract - you can find the whole thing at Rorate Caeli.

Clarification of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

On procured abortionSeveral letters have recently arrived at the Holy See, even from highly placed personalities of the political and ecclesial life, who have informed on the confusion created in several nations, particularly in Latin America, following the manipulation and distortion of an article by His Excellency Archbishop Rino Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Academy for Life, on the sad affair of the "Brazilian girl".

In that article, which appeared in L'Osservatore Romano, the doctrine of the Church was proposed, even though taking into consideration the dramatic situation of the mentioned girl, who - as it could be pointed out afterwards - was attended with every pastoral care, in particular by the then Archbishop of Olinda and Recife, His Excellency Archbishop José Cardoso Sobrinho. Regarding this, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith reaffirms that the doctrine of the Church on procured abortion has not changed and cannot change.

Human life must be respected and protected in an absolute manner from the moment of conception. From the first instant of his existence, the human being must have recognized his rights as a person, among which is the inviolable right to life of every innocent being. "Before I formed thee in the bowels of thy mother, I knew thee" (Jer 1, 5). "My bone is not hidden from thee, which thou hast made in secret: and my substance in the lower parts of the earth" (Ps 139[138], 15).

Since the first century, the Church has declared the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed. It remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is, willed as an end or as a means, is gravely opposed to the moral law: "Thou shalt not kill a child by abortion, neither shalt thou slay it when born" (Didache, 2,2). "For God, the Lord of life, has conferred on men the surpassing ministry of safeguarding life in a manner which is worthy of man. Therefore from the moment of its conception life must be guarded with the greatest care while abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes" (Second Vatican Council, Gaudium et Spes, 51).

Formal cooperation in an abortion constitutes a grave sin. The Church punishes this crime against human life with a canonical penalty of excommunication: "A person who procures a completed abortion incurs a latae sententiae excommunication" (CIC, can. 1398), "for the very fact [ipso facto] of having committed the delict" (CIC, can 1314) and under the conditions foreseen by the law (cfr. CIC, canons 1323-1324). The Church does not intend to limit the domain of mercy in this manner. This puts in evidence the gravity of the crime committed, the irreparable damage caused to the murdered innocent, to his parents, and to all society...."

As for the problem of certain medical treatments with the end of preserving the health of the mother, two different cases should be distinguished: on one hand, a procedure which directly causes the death of the fetus, often called inappropriately a "therapeutic" abortion, cannot be any more licit than the direct murder of an innocent human being; on the other hand, a procedure which is not itself abortive may have, as a collateral consequence, the death of the child: "If, for instance, saving the life of the future mother, regardless of her state of pregnancy, would urgently demand a surgical procedure, or other therapeutic measure, which could have, as an accessory consequence, in no way willed by itself, but unavoidably, the death of the fetus, such act could not be called a direct attack against innocent life. In such conditions, the procedure may be considered licit, as other similar medical interventions, as long as a good of great worth, such as life, is involved, and it is not possible to postpone it until after the birth of the child, nor to resort to another efficacious remedy" (Pius XII, Address to the "Fronte alla Famiglia" and the Associazione Famiglie Numerose, November 27, 1951)...."

Feast of St Benedict

In the traditional Benedictine and Novus Ordo calendars, today is the feast of St Benedict. The date celebrates the translation of the relics of St Benedict and his twin sister St Scholastica to the monastery of Fleury in France around the year 652.

St Benedict pray for us!

Friday, 10 July 2009

Seven Signs of the Counter-Reformation

1. The Australian Prime Minister gives the Pope a suitable gift...

Our PM met the Pope yesterday, amidst a bizarre bit of politics on the part of the Opposition.

On the plus side, it is great to see our politicians actually wanting to be seen with the Pope, and wanting to be seen to be caring about Catholic issues. Yes, it is political opportunism. But he is after all, a politician! And the important point is that being seen to be a caring Christian is in fashion again in this most secular of lands.
So much so that the Mad Monk (Mr Tony Abbott) of the Opposition somewhat disingenuously attacked him for saying he was going to lobby on behold of Blessed Mary McKillop's canonisation.

Hmm, when Church affairs become political fodder, perhaps religion truly is back in the public square? In any case, no doubt that wine (looks like it is a sweetie?) will help ease the pain of all those visiting politicians in Rome!

2. Twenty one years after the Decree Ecclesia Dei, doctrine front and centre

The Pope's latest Motu Proprio making the Ecclesia Dei Commission part of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith finally puts doctrinal issues up in lights. Liturgy had to come first - the way we pray after all, influences what we believe. But we all know that the real underlying issue all along has been the growth of modernism in the Church. And now we can look forward to some serious action.

3. You know the Pope is a traditionalist when the ultra-montanist neo-cons start finding ways to disregard what he says...

OK, he isn't strictly a traditionalist. But all the same there is something truly bizarre about the sight of ultramontanist neo-cons like George Weigel who under Pope John Paul II insisted that every word that dropped from the Pope's mouth had to be believed and obeyed without question suddenly finding ways to disregard large chunks of an encyclical. Yep, apparently now we can go through the document with a red pen and work out what is truly the Pope's own words, and what are interpolations by the evil bureaucrats...

4. A Pope writes an encyclical and actually attempts to explain how past statements of the Magisterium are consistent with it...

One of the major complaints of traditionalists through the post Vatican II years has been the steady stream of Magisterial statements that read as if nothing had ever been written on the subject previously, and often appeared to conflict with what actually had been written previously. Pope Benedict XVI's earlier two encyclical were only marginal improvements in this regard. But his latest, Caritas in Veritate, devotes considerable space to another articulation of the hermeneutic of continuity and setting his words in the context. It is a considerable step forward.

5. The Bishops invite in Catholics Come Home

For forty years Church attendee numbers have plummeted, and almost no serious effort seems to have been made to reverse the trend. But now, the Australian Bishops have invited Catholics Come Home an enormously successful organization in the US that is responsible for the return of 92,000 inactive catholics to the fold to launch an initiative in Australia.

6. Doing not just talking: Cardinal Pell offers a grant for Adult Stem Cell Research

Our bishops do a lot of talking. But it is good to see Cardinal Pell putting our money fact he has offered another $100,000 grant for adult stem cell research, to encourage it as an alternative to immoral forms of research.

7. The first anniversary of WYD is almost upon us...

And the good news is that the stories being run about it all seem to be about the upturn in vocations and other activity in the Church.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Motu Proprio Ecclesiae Unitatem

Adn today's offering, the long awaited Motu Proprio on the reorganization of the Eccleia Dei Commission:

"VATICAN CITY, 8 JUL 2009 ( VIS ) - Given below is an English-language translation from the Italian of the Apostolic Letter "Motu Proprio data" of Pope Benedict XVI, "Ecclesiae unitatem". The document concerns the structure of the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei" which deals with questions involving the Society of Saint Pius X and which as of now becomes dependent upon the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The original text of the Motu Proprio is written in Latin:

1. The duty to safeguard the unity of the Church, with the solicitude to offer everyone help in responding appropriately to this vocation and divine grace, is the particular responsibility of the Successor of the Apostle Peter, who is the perpetual and visible principle and foundation of the unity of both bishops and faithful. The supreme and fundamental priority of the Church in all times - to lead mankind to the meeting with God - must be supported by the commitment to achieve a shared witness of faith among all Christians.

2. Faithful to this mandate, following the act of 30 June 1988 by which Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre illicitly conferred episcopal ordination upon four priests, on 2 July 1988 Pope John Paul II of venerable memory established the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei" whose task it is "to collaborate with the bishops, with the departments of the Roman Curia and with the circles concerned, for the purpose of facilitating full ecclesial communion of priests, seminarians, religious communities or individuals until now linked in various ways to the Society founded by Msgr. Lefebvre, who may wish to remain united to the Successor Peter in the Catholic Church, while preserving their spiritual and liturgical traditions, in the light of the Protocol signed on 5 May last by Cardinal Ratzinger and Msgr. Lefebvre".

3. In keeping with this, faithfully adhering to that duty to serve the universal communion of the Church, also in her visible manifestation, and making every effort to ensure that those who truly desire unity have the possibility to remain in it or to rediscover it, I decided, with the Motu Proprio "Summorum Pontificum", to expand and update through more precise and detailed norms the general indications already contained in the Motu Proprio "Ecclesia Dei" concerning the possibility of using the 1962"Missale Romanum".

4. In the same spirit, and with the same commitment to favouring the repair of all fractures and divisions within the Church, and to healing a wound that is ever more painfully felt within the ecclesiastical structure, I decided to remit the excommunication of the four bishops illicitly ordained by Msgr. Lefebvre. In making that decision my intention was to remove an impediment that could hinder the opening of a door to dialogue and thus invite the four bishops and the Society of Saint Pius X to rediscover the path to full communion with the Church. As I explained in my Letter to Catholic bishops of 10 March this year, the remission of the excommunication was a measure taken in the field of ecclesiastical discipline, to free individuals from the burden of conscience constituted by the most serious of ecclesiastical penalties. However it is clear that the doctrinal questions remain, and until they are clarified the Society has no canonical status in the Church, and its ministers cannot legitimately exercise any ministry in the Church.

5. Precisely because the problems that now have to be examined with the Society are essentially doctrinal in nature, I have decided - twenty-one years after the Motu Proprio "Ecclesia Dei" and in keeping with what I had intended to do - to reconsider the structure of the Commission "Ecclesia Dei", joining it closely to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

6. The Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei" will, then, have the following configuration:

(a) The president of the Commission is the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

(b) The Commission has its own staff, composed of the secretary and officials.

(c) It will be the task of the president, with the assistance of the secretary, to submit the principal cases and questions of a doctrinal nature for study and discernment according to the ordinary requirements of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and to submit the results thereof to the superior dispositions of the Supreme Pontiff.

7. With this decision I wish in particular to show paternal solicitude towards the Society of Saint Pius X, with the aim of rediscovering the full communion of the Church.

To everyone I address a pressing invitation to pray ceaselessly to the Lord, by the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, "ut unum sint".

The Pope also:

"-Appointed Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, to the additional office of president of the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei". He succeeds Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, whom the Holy Father thanked at the end of his service as president of the same commission.

- Appointed Msgr. Guido Pozzo, adjunct secretary of the International Theological Commission and official of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, as secretary of the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei"."

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

The new encyclical: Caritas in Veritate

The Pope's new Encyclical letter is finally out, and released with a picture of him signing it (above), a summary and even a press conference.

Good to see some improved media management.....

Here is the summary of it from VIS news:

"The Encyclical published today - which comprehends an introduction, six chapters and a conclusion - is dated 29 June 2009, Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles.

A summary of the Encyclical released by the Holy See Press Office explains that in his introduction the Pope recalls how "charity is at the heart of the Church's social doctrine". Yet, given the risk of its being "misinterpreted and detached from ethical living", he warns how "a Christianity of charity without truth would be more or less interchangeable with a pool of good sentiments, helpful for social cohesion, but of little relevance".

The Holy Father makes it clear that development has need of truth. In this context he dwells on two "criteria that govern moral action": justice and the common good. All Christians are called to charity, also by the "institutional path" which affects the life of the "polis", that is, of social coexistence.

The first chapter of the Encyclical focuses on the message of Paul VI's "Populorum Progressio" which "underlined the indispensable importance of the Gospel for building a society according to freedom and justice. ... The Christian faith does not rely on privilege or positions of power, ... but only on Christ". Paul VI "pointed out that the causes of underdevelopment are not primarily of the material order". They lie above all in the will, in the mind and, even more so, in "the lack of brotherhood among individuals and peoples".

"Human Development in Our Time" is the theme of the second chapter. If profit, the Pope writes, "becomes the exclusive goal, if it is produced by improper means and without the common good as its ultimate end, it risks destroying wealth and creating poverty". In this context he enumerates certain "malfunctions" of development: financial dealings that are "largely speculative", migratory flows "often provoked by some particular circumstance and then given insufficient attention", and "the unregulated exploitation of the earth's resources".

In the face of these interconnected problems, the Pope calls for "a new humanistic synthesis", noting how "development today has many overlapping layers: ... The world's wealth is growing in absolute terms, but inequalities are on the increase", and new forms of poverty are coming into being.

At a cultural level, the Encyclical proceeds, the possibilities for interaction open new prospects for dialogue, but a twofold danger exists: a "cultural eclecticism" in which cultures are viewed as "substantially equivalent", and the opposing danger of "cultural levelling and indiscriminate acceptance of types of conduct and lifestyles". In this context Pope Benedict also mentions the scandal of hunger and express his hope for "equitable agrarian reform in developing countries".

The Pontiff also dwells on the question of respect for life, "which cannot in any way be detached from questions concerning the development of peoples", affirming that "when a society moves towards the denial or suppression of life, it ends up no longer finding the necessary motivation and energy to strive for man's true good".Another question associated with development is that of the right to religious freedom.

"Violence", writes the Pope, "puts the brakes on authentic development", and "this applies especially to terrorism motivated by fundamentalism".

Chapter three of the Encyclical - "Fraternity, Economic Development and Civil Society" - opens with a passage praising the "experience of gift", often insufficiently recognised "because of a purely consumerist and utilitarian view of life". Yet development, "if it is to be authentically human, needs to make room for the principle of gratuitousness". As for the logic of the market, it "needs to be directed towards the pursuit of the common good, for which the political community in particular must also take responsibility".

Referring to "Centesimus Annus", this Encyclical highlights the "need for a system with three subjects: the market, the State and civil society" and encourages a "civilising of the economy". It highlights the importance of "economic forms based on solidarity" and indicates how "both market and politics need individuals who are open to reciprocal gift".

The chapter closes with a fresh evaluation of the phenomenon of globalisation, which must not be seen just as a "socio-economic process". Globalisation needs "to promote a person-based and community-oriented cultural process of world-wide integration that is open to transcendence" and able to correct its own malfunctions.

The fourth chapter of the Encyclical focuses on the theme: "The Development of People, Rights and Duties. The Environment". Governments and international organisations, says the Pope, cannot "lose sight of the objectivity and 'inviolability' of rights". In this context he also dedicates attention to "the problems associated with population growth".

He reaffirms that sexuality "cannot be reduced merely to pleasure or entertainment". States, he says, "are called to enact policies promoting the centrality and the integrity of the family".

"The economy needs ethics in order to function correctly", the Holy Father goes on, and "not any ethics whatsoever, but an ethics which is people-centred". This centrality of the human person must also be the guiding principle in "development programmes" and in international co-operation. "International organisations", he suggests, "might question the actual effectiveness of their bureaucratic and administrative machinery, which is often excessively costly".

The Holy Father also turns his attention to the energy problem, noting how "the fact that some States, power groups and companies hoard non-renewable energy resources represents a grave obstacle to development in poor countries. ... Technologically advanced societies can and must lower their domestic energy consumption", he says, at the same time encouraging "research into alternative forms of energy".

"The Co-operation of the Human Family" is the title and focus of chapter five, in which Pope Benedict highlights how "the development of peoples depends, above all, on a recognition that the human race is a single family". Hence Christianity and other religions "can offer their contribution to development only if God has a place in the public realm".

The Pope also makes reference to the principle of subsidiarity, which assists the human person "via the autonomy of intermediate bodies". Subsidiarity, he explains, "is the most effective antidote against any form of all-encompassing welfare state" and is "particularly well-suited to managing globalisation and directing it towards authentic human development".

Benedict XVI calls upon rich States "to allocate larger portions of their gross domestic product to development aid", thus respecting their obligations. He also express a hope for wider access to education and, even more so, for "complete formation of the person", affirming that yielding to relativism makes everyone poorer. One example of this, he writes, is that of the perverse phenomenon of sexual tourism. "It is sad to note that this activity often takes place with the support of local governments", he says.

The Pope then goes on to consider the "epoch-making" question of migration. "Every migrant", he says, "is a human person who, as such, possesses fundamental, inalienable rights that must be respected by everyone and in every circumstance".

The Pontiff dedicates the final paragraph of this chapter to the "strongly felt need" for a reform of the United Nations and of "economic institutions and international finance. ... There is", he says, "urgent need of a true world political authority" with "effective power".

The sixth and final chapter is entitled "The Development of Peoples and Technology". In it the Holy Father warns against the "Promethean presumption" of humanity thinking "it can re-create itself through the 'wonders' of technology". Technology, he says, cannot have "absolute freedom".

"A particularly crucial battleground in today's cultural struggle between the supremacy of technology and human moral responsibility is the field of bioethics", says Benedict XVI, and he adds: "Reason without faith is doomed to flounder in an illusion of its own omnipotence".

The social question has, he says, become an anthropological question. Research on embryos and cloning is "being promoted in today's highly disillusioned culture which believes it has mastered every mystery". The Pope likewise expresses his concern over a possible "systematic eugenic programming of births".

In the conclusion to his Encyclical Benedict XVI highlights how "development needs Christians with their arms raised towards God in prayer", just as it needs "love and forgiveness, self-denial, acceptance of others, justice and peace".

You can read the full text of the encyclical here.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

7/7/07: Summorum Pontificum anniversary (and where is the Papal Mass in the EF!)

It has been pointed out to me that I've been remiss in not mentioning that today is the anniversary of Summorum Pontificum, the papal legislation that recognized the Traditional Latin Mass 1962-style as one of the two uses of the Roman Rite, and thus freed the traditional mass from many of the restrictions that had previously applied to its celebration.

Since the release of SP, the number of TLMs being said around the world has exploded, and more and more bishops are joining the party. All is not perfect of course, with some resisters still amongst our bishops and priests. And of course, two years on, we've yet to see a papal mass celebrated in the Extraordinary Form, even if we have seen many other important steps in toward the restoration of tradition (depicted below, Vespers in the newly restored Chapel of St Paul in the Vatican).

Still, the times are changing, so we should give thanks for what we have, and pray for the Pope to take the next step...

The Vatican and abortion: where on earth are they coming from?

There have been some very strange things coming out of the Vatican of late on the abortion front, and it seems to just keep getting worse, with the latest story the lead up to President Obama's meeting with the Pope.

What is going on?

First there was the Brazilian excommunication debacle, where the local Archbishop acted firmly to uphold Church teaching - and was publicly condemned for doing so without reference to the facts of the case by Archbishop Fisichella in L'Osservatore Romano. Archbishop Sobrinho demanded a right of reply in the newspaper, and started threatening canonical action to restore his reputation. His resignation was then announced by the Vatican.

A very interesting post on this topic by canonist Dr Edward Peters can be found here.


And now more on the Obama saga. Back in May, L'Osservatore carried a positive piece about the President, despite his clear record of implementing anti-life and anti-Catholic policies. It caused an outcry amongst American bishops and commentators.

In the lead up to his Rome trip, President Obama has been attempting to romance catholic journalists. Well, he is a politician and wants positive coverage, that's to be expected I guess. But he is being aided by the other side. Sandro Magister writes:

"But it is not only Obama who is preparing for the audience with the pope. The Vatican, too, is playing a prelude of its own.

On the same day on which the president of the United States granted the interview to the religion reporters, in Rome an authoritative cardinal published a gushing commentary on the speeches that Obama delivered on May 17 at the University of Notre Dame, and on June 4 at the University of al-Azhar, in Cairo.

The cardinal is Georges Cottier, an 87-year-old Swiss Dominican, who was in the curia for many years as the official theologian of the pontifical household. He published his commentary in "30 Days," a Catholic magazine published in six languages, tightly connected to the diplomatic circles of the Vatican and highly attentive to the Church's stance on world affairs. It is sent free of charge to bishops and monasteries all over the world, and is directed by the former Italian prime minister and foreign minister Giulio Andreotti.

The scholarly cardinal finds Obama's vision highly compatible with the Catholic perspective, starting with the awareness of original sin. He attributes good and constructive intentions to him even on the minefield of abortion. He denies that Obama can be considered "pro-abortion," and even attributes to him the desire to "do everything possible to make the number of abortions as small as possible" just as did "the first Christian legislators, who did not immediately overturn the Roman laws that were tolerant toward practices inconsistent with or even contrary to the natural law, like concubinage and slavery."

He invokes support from Saint Thomas Aquinas, according to whom "the state must not enact laws that are too strict and demanding, because the people will be unable to observe them and will ignore them." He applauds "L'Osservatore Romano" for the same pro-Obama article on May 19 that infuriated so many American bishops.

Cardinal Cottier seems almost to exalt Obama as a new Constantine, the head of a modern empire that is also generous toward the Church."

Knowing who the enemy is

This is all pretty scary stuff. Who is for us, and who against, how can we win?

And it is very disappointing to see key doctrines being watered down a la the reception of Humane Vitae.

Talk about mixed messages.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Oh dear, Oh Brian!

I frequently despair of traditionalism and traditionalists. We sometimes seem more intent on criticising each other than on anythng else.

But the sure cure for this ailment is to take a little dip into 'Acatholica'. And here is today's inoculating dose of liberal heresy from Brian Coyne:

"I notice that the "Catholic Media Coalition" is another of these "oh, we are so faithful to the magisterium" websites. They are like a cancer eating the heart out of Catholicism. [So faithfulness to the Magistrium is a cancer!] The clear implication in all of these websites is "we are holier, or closer to God, or know God's rules better than all the rest of youse pagans, heretics and ratbags" [too right! Hmm, I can see a blog name out of that line, I love it].

Where did this cancer seep into the Church where one's Catholicism is defined by one's faithfulness to the magisterium [umm, like always?] as though belonging to the Church is no different to barracking for some football team? Authentic Catholicism ought be charactered by a search for moral and ultimate truth [No. Authentic Catholicism is about accepting the moral and ultimate truth entrusted by God to his Church] not by this kindergarten game [Ahh, an 'adult faith'. Pope Benedict XVI has lately had some apposite things to say about this idea] played by this rump in the Church who are forever running around trying to prove they are the only one's who know truth and that is "proved" by their obsequiousness towards whatever administration happens to be on the bridge at the moment.

When we again have a Church leadership that ceases pandering to the emotional needs of this small rump [Give me a break - its the liberal camp that is driven by emotion and feeling, not the traditional] and is again intent in lifting all people to uncovering moral truth and goodness in their lives we will have an institution "moving forward again" in the world. [OK. We might even agree on the second half of this sentence!] That supposedly adult people cannot appreciate the real game they are playing with these "we are faithful to the magisterium" mantras is a sad indictment of the mess institutional Catholicism is in. When will the bishops collectively begin to stand up against these kindergarten games?

For each of us as individuals our salvation is NOT secured by how often or how obsequiously we can demonstrate our "faithfulness to the magisterium". [Well actually....] It is secured by our demonstrated capacity to make intelligent moral judgments in our lives, particularly in those challenges which occur in life where the options are not black or white but shades of moral grey [No. There are clear principles for making moral decisions in our lives - we need to act from a properly formed conscience and have the right object, intention, circumstances. That is not to suggest that decisions are always easy to make or carry through. But this isn't fuzzy stuff.] ! There are many of them."

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Reality tv: Bring on the Atheist Conversion Show!

I couldn't resist this story (originally from the Guardian) by Robert Tait from the Sydney Morning Herald today:

"IT SOUNDS like the beginning of a joke: what do you get when you put a Muslim imam, a Greek Orthodox priest, a rabbi, a Buddhist monk and 10 atheists in the same room?

Viewers of Turkish television will soon get the punchline when a new game show begins that offers a prize arguably greater than that offered by Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?

Contestants will ponder whether to believe or not to believe when they pit their godless convictions against the possibilities of a new relationship with the almighty on Penitents Compete (Tovbekarlar Yarisiyor in Turkish), to be broadcast from September by the Kanal T station. Four spiritual guides from the different religions will seek to convert at least one of the 10 atheists in each program to their faith.

Those persuaded will be rewarded with a pilgrimage to the spiritual home of their newly chosen creed - Mecca for Muslims, Jerusalem for Christians and Jews, and Tibet for Buddhists. The program makers say they want to promote religious belief while educating Turkey's overwhelmingly Muslim population about other faiths.

"The project aims to turn disbelievers on to God," the station's deputy director, Ahmet Ozdemir, told the Hurriyet Daily News And Economic Review.

That mission is attested to in the program's advertising slogans, which include "We give you the biggest prize ever: we represent the belief in God" and "You will find serenity in this competition".

Only true non-believers need apply. An eight-strong commission of theologians will assess the atheist credentials of would-be contestants before deciding who should take part.

Converts will be monitored to ensure their religious transformation is genuine and not simply a ruse to gain a free foreign trip. "They can't see this trip as a getaway, but as a religious experience," Mr Ozdemir said."

Bring it on Channel Ten! Can you imagine what living in the house for this show would be like (the negotiations on food alone would be horrendous)! But surely a worthy successor to ratings success Masterchef?!

Friday, 3 July 2009

Seven signs of the Counter-Reformation

1. An honour guard of seminarians....

2. Traditional confirmations in Oz

Once upon a time, getting your children confirmed was a serious problem for traditionalists. No longer it seems.

Last weekend, bishops confirmed children for two different traditional communities - Bishop Grech of the Wangaratta Latin Mass group, reported here, and Bishop Joseph Oudemon OFM Cap for Brisbane's Latin Mass Community. The latter is perhaps the more startling (and if anyone took any pictures, I'd love to put them up on the blog, do email me...)! And in another week, Bishop Elliot will confirm children from Melbourne's Latin Mass community.

Wonderful to see.

3. Catholic students have a compulsory RE exam

According to the Catholic Weekly, this year, for the first time, students from across New South Wales in Year 6 sat a compulsory exam to test their Religious Education knowledge:

"Anthony Cleary, director of Religious Education and Evangelisation at the CEO, Sydney, said that the 2009 test paper consisted of a good balance of questions focusing on scripture, young people’s relationship with Jesus, and knowledge of the Catholic tradition."

Hmm, sounds good but has anyone seen the questions?

4. Indulgences are making a comeback

I've highlighted the indulgences available for the Year of the Priest on this blog - and Pope Benedict XVI's willingness to offer them is getting a bit of wider media coverage now too. Apparently these latest indulgences are his ninth set on offer.

5. Another monastery adopts the EF - Norcia, Italy

This small American colony at the birthplace of SS. Benedict and Scholastica (and now a gourmet paradise centring on black truffles, add it to your itinerary Joshua!)) have always been very traditionally inclined - but constrained, until Summorum Pontificum, from saying mass in the Extraordinary Form for the usual reasons. Now they have a specific endorsement from the Holy See to take on the Extraordinary Form as part of their apostolate:

"Very Reverend Father Prior:

His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, from the very beginning of his pontificate, has made known his desire to foster the unity of the Church. As in the past so also today, the careful celebration of the Sacred Mysteries is a most efficacious instrument for achieving this goal.

For this reason, faithful to the intentions of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, this Pontifical Commission, responding to your request, entrusts to the Monastery of San Benedetto in Norcia the special apostolate of the celebration of the Holy Eucharist “in utroque usu”, that is, both in the ordinary as well as the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite, in collaboration with the Holy See and in communion with the diocesan bishop.

I am confident that your young Benedictine community will always support the pastoral activity of the Supreme Pontiff with faithful prayer,

With my best Easter wishes,
Dario Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos, President
Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei”

6. More bishops discover the internet...

A week or two back I noted the blog of Archbishop Mark Coleridge, chronicling the pilgrimage he has been leading to conclude the Year of St Paul. It is a growing trend. There was also an 'e-conference' on St Paul, managed out of Broken Bay Diocese this week (I haven't looked at the content yet, put off by the applause from acatholica...), and the blog of Archbishop Allen Vigneron of Detroit to read this week, the latter following his journey to receive the pallium in Rome.

7. The Inquisition hits dissenting US nuns (but not hard enough yet!)

You might recall that a few months back the Vatican announced a formal Visitation of US women's religious communities. The Visitation is looking at why these communities are dying - including questions of theological dissent. And apparently its hitting these ageing liberal hard, even garnering a front-page article in New York Times.

But if their US sisters are seriously worried about this long-overdue action, it doesn't seem as if their Australian sisters have quite gotten the message yet, with our very own Good Sammies looking forward to the visit in December of one of the most famous dissenter of them all, 'Sr' Joan Chittester.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

The Brazilian abortion saga: a sorry end to the story

Catholic Culture reports that "the Brazilian archbishop at the center of a heated international controversy over an abortion procured for a 9-year-old girl has resigned his office. The Vatican announced on July 1 that Pope Benedict had accepted the resignation of Archbishop Jose Cardoso Sobrinho of Olinda and Recife-- who, at the age of 76, was already a year beyond the normative retirement age. He will be replaced by Bishop Fernando Antonio Saburido, the current head of the Sobral diocese.

Archbishop Cardoso had complained that his treatment of the abortion case had been misrepresented by the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, and he resented the criticism voiced by Archbishop Salvatore Fisichella, the president of the Pontifical Academy for Life. He had asked for an apology and correction of the record-- which he did not receive."

Feast of the Visitation