Browsing News Entries

As Russia Threatens War, It’s Time to Turn Again to Our Lady of Fatima

blog

Synod of Bishops’ resources website links to women’s ordination group

The opening day of the 15th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in the Vatican Synod Hall on Oct. 3, 2018. / Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.

Vatican City, Jan 19, 2022 / 10:15 am (CNA).

A website overseen by the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops at the Vatican has linked to a group campaigning for women’s ordination.

In a post dated Jan. 15, the Synodresources.org website shared information about the Women’s Ordination Conference organization, based in Washington, D.C.

Thierry Bonaventura, communication manager of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops, told CNA on Jan. 19 that the website was not promoting the group.

“I would rather speak of ‘sharing,’ as the title of the website,” he said.

Bonaventura pointed out that the “About” section of Synodresources.org emphasizes that the website is “a tool for listening and a platform for sharing that does not replace the official website of Synod 2021-2023 (synod.va).”

“Rather than vertical, top-down communication, it aims to be horizontal communication,” it says.

The website was previously at the center of controversy after it linked to an LGBT outreach ministry.

Officials at the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops removed the link to New Ways Ministry after they became aware that the U.S. bishops’ conference expressed its disapproval of the organization in 2010.

But following an outcry, they restored the link and issued an apology.

Synodresources.org also links to the Latin-American Rainbow Catholic community, part of the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics, which says that it “brings together groups and their members who work for pastoral care and justice for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people and their families.”

The Women’s Ordination Conference, founded in 1975, describes itself as “the oldest and largest organization working to ordain women as deacons, priests, and bishops.”

In his 1994 apostolic letter Ordinatio sacerdotalis, Pope John Paul II wrote that “the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful.”

During an in-flight press conference in 2016, Pope Francis was asked whether there were likely to be women priests in the Catholic Church in the next few decades.

“As for the ordination of women in the Catholic Church, the last clear word was given by St. John Paul II, and this holds,” he replied.

The pope has asked two commissions to study the question of a female diaconate in the Catholic Church.

The first, established in 2016, examined the historic issue of the role of deaconesses in the early Church but did not reach a consensus.

He instituted a second commission in 2020, following discussion of the female diaconate during the 2019 Amazon synod.

Pope Francis changed Church law in January 2021 so that women can be formally instituted to the lay ministries of lector and acolyte.

The General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops, a permanent institution based at the Vatican and dedicated to serving the Synod, is currently overseeing what has been called one of the largest consultation exercises in human history, ahead of the 2023 Synod on Synodality.

A vademecum, or handbook, released in September 2021 urged dioceses to include “all the baptized” in the process, including those on the margins of Church life.

It said: “Special care should be taken to involve those persons who may risk being excluded: women, the handicapped, refugees, migrants, the elderly, people who live in poverty, Catholics who rarely or never practice their faith, etc.”

A disclaimer on the homepage of Synodresources.org says: “The publication of any contribution should not be understood as an endorsement of its content; nor should anyone interpret such a publication as an act of formal recognition by the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops of the group or community submitting the contribution.”

A pop-up window explains that anyone can send material to the site, but not all contributions will be accepted.

It says: “The current synodal process is addressed to the entire People of God, to all the baptized. In chapter 2.1 of the Vademecum, we urged dioceses to involve people at risk of exclusion (women, migrants, the elderly or Catholics who rarely or never practice their faith).”

“At the same time, in order to participate fully in the act of discernment, it is important for the baptized to listen to the voices of other people in their local context, including those who have abandoned the practice of the faith, people from other faith traditions, people who have no religious beliefs at all.”

“Therefore, anyone is entitled to send material. At the same time, because we firmly believe that the experience of faith is and must be communitarian, we will only accept contributions that express the views of a group clearly identified. We regret that individual submissions will not be considered.”

The Vatican announced in May 2021 that the Synod on Synodality would open with a diocesan phase starting in October that year.

A second, continental phase will take place from September 2022 to March 2023.

The third, universal phase will begin with the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, dedicated to the theme “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission,” at the Vatican in October 2023.

New committee aims to build up political candidates who support religious liberty for all

American flag and Church. / Quinn Dombrowski via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0).

Denver Newsroom, Jan 19, 2022 / 09:52 am (CNA).

The Religious Freedom Institute on Tuesday launched a committee to support political candidates who defend the free exercise of religion for all.

The National Committee for Religious Freedom describes itself as a non-partisan organization that will support “any candidate from any political party who supports religious freedom, and oppose any candidate of any political party who does not.”

As part of the Jan. 19 launch, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, chair of the U.S. Catholic bishops’ committee on religious freedom, hailed the committee’s creation, while lamenting the fact that the “first freedom” of religious liberty is “surely one of the last freedoms to get a committee to safeguard it.”

Dolan recently spoke out against attacks on houses of worship and religious art, saying such attacks are akin to attacking the community who prays there.

Sam Brownback, a Catholic and a former U.S. ambassador-at-large for religious freedom, said the founders of the group are “increasingly concerned with declining religious freedom here at home” and the “exponential” effect that has overseas. He said the committee plans to run educational campaigns and assess candidates’ positions on religious freedom; create voter guides; and ask candidates to sign a pledge to support religious freedom.

Though the founders of the committee— who represent a wide range of religions— don’t agree on all points of theology, Brownback praised the fact that the group was able to come together to support the right of all Americans to “peacefully practice their faith, as is guaranteed by the First Amendment.”

Robert George, a Catholic intellectual and former chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom , spoke during during the launch and noted that the committee stands ready to defend the religious freedom of all people, not just Christians.

“What we don’t want is religious freedom for me, but not for thee,” he noted.

A legal group known for representing religious believers in court said late last year that support for religious freedom in America has reached a three year high.

Afghanistan the Most Dangerous Place to be Christian, Advocacy Group Says

cna

Knights of Malta warn Vatican reforms risk their sovereignty

A top leader of the Knights of Malta warned the group's members on Wednesday that the Holy See's latest proposals to reform the order threaten its internationally recognized status as a sovereign state

Pope Francis offers prayers for the people of Tonga after volcanic eruption and tsunami

Pope Francis’ general audience in the Paul VI Hall at the Vatican, Jan. 19, 2021. / Vatican Media.

Vatican City, Jan 19, 2022 / 08:05 am (CNA).

Pope Francis offered prayers for the people of Tonga on Wednesday as its islands recover from tsunami damage caused by a massive underwater volcanic eruption.

“My thoughts go out to the people of the islands of Tonga, who have been affected in recent days by the eruption of the underwater volcano, which has caused enormous material damage,” Pope Francis said at the end of his general audience on Jan. 19.

“I am spiritually close to all the afflicted people, imploring God for relief for their suffering. I invite everyone to join me in praying for these brothers and sisters.”

Seen in satellite images from space, scientists have called the volcanic blast in the South Pacific on Jan. 15 the largest eruption in the world in three decades.

Some of the archipelago’s outlying islands were hit by 49-foot-high waves which destroyed homes, the Associated Press reported on Jan. 19.

Communications from Tonga were cut off after the eruption. Reuters has reported at least three known deaths from the tsunami waves.

Caritas Australia, a Catholic charity, is working to contact its partners in Tonga to assess the situation on the ground.

“The volcanic ash is hampering emergency flights into the country and the damage to telecommunications infrastructure has made it difficult to get in contact with affected communities,” the charity wrote on its website.

“There are fears that the volcanic ash and saltwater inundation from the tsunami waves may contaminate drinking water and threaten the health and safety of vulnerable communities.”

The Polynesian country has a Catholic cardinal. Cardinal Soane Patita Paini Mafi, 60, was born in Tonga’s largest island and currently lives in its capital city, Nukuʻalofa.

Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane wrote on social media that he had sent a message of prayerful solidarity to Cardinal Mafi on behalf of the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference.

“Our congregations will be praying for Tonga today,” Coleridge said on Jan. 16.

Region hosting Olympic skiing has history of Catholic persecution

Chongli, a popular resort town and venue for the main skiing events during the upcoming Winter Olympics, holds a history of persecution and massacre of Catholics in the region during the imperial and communist regimes.