Rod Liddle Have our atheists lost their minds? FEATURE, PAGE 8
Peter Hitchens What the Pope gets wrong about drugs
FEATURE, PAGE 9
Damian Thompson The Catholics you’d want at your bedside
CHARTERHOUSE, PAGE 20
July 4 2014 £1.50 (Republic of Ireland €1.80)
Avoid ‘extreme reactions’ to gay marriage, Vatican tells Catholics
Faithful urged to show ‘respectful, non-judgmental attitude’ while upholding Church teaching
BY MADELEINE TEAHAN
THE VATICAN has urged Catholics to avoid “extreme reactions” to gay marriage in its blueprint for the highly anticipated family synod in October.
The synod working document, released last Thursday, is based on responses to the family questionnaire sent out last November and tackles such contentious issues as contraception, Communion for the divorced and re-married, and marriage annulments.
As well as these major controversies, the text also highlights less widely discussed challenges, such as smartphone addiction, the plight of poor single mothers and inadequate marriage preparation.
The document, known as the instrumental laboris, will guide discussions when bishops from around the world meet for the extraordinary synod on the family this autumn. The synod, which is just the third of its kind in Church history, will address the state of Catholic family life. A second, larger synod next year is expected to draw up a new pastoral programme for families across the world.
The document says that while every bishops’ conference in the world is opposed to same-sex marriage, bishops are struggling “to find a balance between the Church’s teaching on the family and a respectful, non-judgmental attitude towards people living in such unions”.
It says: “On the whole, the extreme reactions to these unions, whether compromising or uncompromising, do not seem to have facilitated the development of an effective pastoral programme which is consistent with the Magisterium and compassionate towards the persons concerned.”
The document also addresses the controversy around baptising children who are being raised by same-sex couples. It says that most respondents were opposed to same-sex adoption. “However, when people living in such unions request a child’s baptism, almost all the responses emphasise that the child must be received with the same care, tenderness and concern which is given to other children,” it says. “Many responses indicate that it would be
At a glance: synod working document
The synod working document, or instrumentum laboris, is a 25,000-word outline for the family synod in October. It is divided into three sections: “the Gospel of the Family”, the challenges to family life, and “openness to life” and parental responsibility. It is based on the answers to the synod questionnaire sent to Catholics worldwide last year. This October the synod will “thoroughly examine and analyse” the questionnaire responses. Church leaders will draw up a new pastoral programme for the family at a second synod in 2015.
helpful to receive more concrete pastoral directives in these situations.”
The document continues: “Clearly, the Church has the duty to ascertain the actual elements involved in transmitting the faith to the child. Should a reasonable doubt exist in the capability of persons in a samesex union to instruct the child in the Christian faith, proper support is to be secured in the same manner as for any other couple seeking the baptism of their children. In this regard, other people in their family and social surroundings could also provide assistance. In these cases, the pastor is carefully to oversee the preparation for the possible baptism of the child, with particular attention given to the choice of the godfather and godmother.”
The text strongly defends Humanae Vitae, the 1968 encyclical reaffirming the Church’s opposition to contraception, describing it as “prophetic”. The encyclical’s author, Paul VI, will be beatified on October 19 at the family synod’s closing
Mass. The document notes that many married couples do not consider contraception sinful. “As a result, they tend not to consider it a matter for Confession or a problem in approaching the Eucharist,” it says. “On the other hand, the responses stress that the faithful are well aware that abortion is a very serious sin and always a matter for Confession.”
The document says that many who responded to the questionnaire questioned why divorced and remarried Catholics are not permitted to receive Holy Communion. “Some Church members who are cognisant that they are in an irregular situation clearly suffer from the fact that they are unable to receive the sacraments,” it says. “Many feel frustrated and marginalised. Some wonder why other sins can be forgiven and not theirs. Others cannot see how religious and priests can receive a dispensation from their vows and priestly obligations so they can marry, while divorced and remarried persons are unable to receive Holy Communion. These questions highlight the necessity of providing suitable formation and information in the matter.”
The text adds: “In other cases, persons do not understand how their irregular situation can be a reason for their not being able to receive the sacraments. Instead, they believe that the Church is at fault in not permitting their irregular marriage situation. This way of thinking can lead to viewing withholding the sacraments as a punishment.”
The document says the Vatican received “very many responses, especially in Europe and North America” asking for the procedure for marriage annulments to be streamlined. But it also lists a number of possible dangers that could result from the change. “The impression might be given that the indissolubility of the sacrament is not respected,” it says. “The change might lead to abuses and create in young people’s minds the idea that marriage is not a lifelong commitment; and the action might bolster the mistaken idea that an annulment is simply ‘Catholic divorce’.” Mary Kenny: Page 12 Editorial Comment: Page 13
Pope Francis greets a family in St John Lateran Basilica. He will preside over the family synod in October CNS
Theotokos Institute for Catholic Studies Cardiff University Catholic Chaplaincy
Cardiff University Eastern Christian
Chaplaincy PRESENT Eastern Christian Thought and Practice for 21st Century Europe A conference for academics, clergy,
and lay people 26-28 November 2014
FEATURING Professor Andrew Louth Professor Emeritus, Patristic &
Byzantine Studies Durham University Dr Roman Zaviyskyy
Dean of Theology Ukrainian Catholic University, Lviv,
Ukraine Bishop Vahan Hovhanessian Primate of the Armenian Orthodox
Church in UK Honorary Senior Research Fellow,
Cardiff University For more information, visit:
Iraqi city goes without a Sunday Mass for first time in 1,600 years BY ED WEST
MASS was not celebrated in Mosul on Sunday for the first time in 1,600 years, following the city’s capture by Islamists.
Iraq’s second city, built on the site of the ancient settlement of Nineveh and home to a Christian community since at least the second century, is now ruled by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), which is responsible for multiple crucifixions and which forces Christians to accept second-class citizenship. The city, which was home to 35,000 Christians before the US-led invasion in 2003, had just 3,000 faithful a month ago. But all have now fled to the Kurdish-controlled region of the country.
Chaldean Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil, Kurdistan, said that no Mass was celebrated on Sunday for the first time in 16 centuries.
There are also deep concerns about the plight of Christians in the surrounding region, called the Nineveh Plains, home to the largest concentration of Christians left in Iraq.
Last week Kurdish Peshmerga forces fired shots at ISIS fighters attempting to move on Qaraqosh, a town of more than 40,000 Christians. Mortar attacks on the town killed a number of Christian civilians. Despite the Kurds driving away ISIS, Christians from Qaraqosh began to head towards the safer Kurdishcontrolled area of Erbil, which is safely inside Kurdish territory. Local Christians helped the new arrivals with water and food.
Human rights groups report that ISIS has demanded Christians pay the jiyza, a tax demanded of non-Muslims in medieval times. Last weekend ISIS declared their region of Syria and Iraq a new caliphate.
In an address this week to Muslims worldwide, ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi said: “If you hold to it, you will conquer Rome and own the world, if Allah wills.”
Cause of Sister who took on outlaw opens BY ED WEST
THE VATICAN has permitted an American archdiocese to open the Cause of a Sister who stood up to the Wild West outlaw Billy the Kid.
Sister Blandina Segale was a Sister of Charity who worked among the poor and sick in the violent frontier towns of Colorado and New Mexico, founding and teaching in schools and setting up hospitals. Her Cause is the first in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe since the Church was established there 400 years ago.
Born Rosa Maria Segale in northern Italy in 1850, she moved to America in her 20s and worked in Ohio before travelling to the West, where she helped Native Americans and Mexicans, as well as white settlers from the East.
On one occasion she saved the life of an associate of William Bonney, the notorious outlaw known as Billy the Kid, after four doctors refused to help him. When Bonney returned to exact revenge on the doctors Sister Blandina persuaded him to spare them.
Chart-topper sings for Catholic school pupils
BY JEROME GREEN
POP SINGER Pixie Lott has given a concert at a Catholic school in Redditch, Worcestershire, in response to an invitation from pupils at the school.
Pupils at St Augustine’s Catholic High School asked the singer to help celebrate the school’s 40th anniversary.
As well as trying to teach students the choruses of her two singles “Nasty” and “Lay Me Down”, the 23year-old was also there to raise awareness for Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY).
She became a patron of the charity after the sudden death of her friend Adam Donnelly in 2010.
While there, she received a £840
donation from the caterers of the school, Aspens, to go to the charity.
Tony Quinn, the school’s headmaster, gave the singer a St Augustine’s pen as thanks for her performance.
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