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Fr Donald Calloway What surfers can teach Catholics
FEATURE, PAGE 9
Piers Paul Read Francis versus the intellectuals
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November 21 2014 £1.50 (Republic of Ireland €1.80)
Francis: be champions of marriage Pontiff says that women, children and elderly are suffering most from decline in ‘marriage culture’
BY MADELEINE TEAHAN
CATHOLICS can help to overcome the crisis in marriage and family life by becoming “revolutionaries with the courage to seek true and lasting love”, Francis has said.
The Pope made the comment in an impassioned address at an inter-religious conference at the Vatican.
Francis told delegates at the Humanum conference on Monday: “We know that today marriage and the family are in crisis. We now live in a culture of the temporary, in which more and more people are simply giving up on marriage as a public commitment. This revolution in manners and morals has often flown the flag of freedom, but in fact it has brought spiritual and material devastation to countless human beings, especially the poorest and most vulnerable.
“Evidence is mounting that the decline of the marriage culture is associated with increased poverty and a host of other social ills, disproportionately affecting women, children and the elderly. It is always they who suffer the most in this crisis.”
He urged participants to tell young people that marriage responds to the deepest longings of the human heart.
“Commit yourselves,” he said, “so that our youth do not give themselves over to the poisonous environment of the temporary, but rather be revolutionaries with the courage to seek true and lasting love, going against the common pattern.”
As the Pope gave his address, a British think tank issued an alarming report predicting that the institution of marriage will continue to decline in Britain.
The Marriage Foundation study suggested that only about half of people in their 20s today will marry. Around 10 per cent of cohabitees with children will stay together, it said, compared to two thirds of married couples.
It said: “Family breakdown has huge consequences. The estimated cost to the UK taxpayer of £46 billion per year equates to half of the education budget or more than the entire defence budget.
“Although little acknowledged by government, the driver of family breakdown is the trend away from marriage and associated instability among parents who do not marry.”
Francis wants us to be true revolutionaries
Pope Francis, pictured greeting a child, says ‘evidence is mounting that the decline of the marriage culture is associated with increased poverty’
British participants in the Humanum conference included Bishop Philip Egan of Portsmouth, Anglican Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali and former Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks.
Lord Sacks spoke on same day as Francis and received a standing ovation after his address.
He said: “Our compassion for those who choose to live differently should not inhibit us from being advocates for the single most humanising institution in history. The family, man, woman, and child, is not one lifestyle choice among many. It is the best means we have yet discovered for nurturing future generations and enabling children to grow in a matrix of stability and love. It is where we learn the delicate choreography of relationship and how to handle the inevitable conflicts within any human group. It is where we first take the risk of giving and receiving love. It is where one generation passes on its values to the next, ensuring the continuity of a civilisation.
For any society, the family is the crucible of its future, and for the sake of our children’s future, we must be its defenders.”
Other speakers included American Evangelical pastor Rick Warren and senior Mormon leader Henry Eyring. Editorial comment: Page 13
Eyewitness Bishop Philip Egan
THE INTENTION of the Humanum conference is essentially to acknowledge that there is a crisis in marriage and family life. But it is not so much about the problems but rather the ideals of marriage, and trying to create a sense of all the world religions, and all people of good will, uniting around the natural gift of marriage. The complementarity of male and female in marriage is the basis of that. We had a powerful talk from Dr Jacqueline Rivers, a black leader in the US. She was saying we have to unite, reclaim the ground and build a coalition. It was powerful, although I actually think that isn’t somehow the intention of the conference, and if it is the intention, it’s secondary. What the Vatican would like to emerge is a statement of ideals. We are trying to promote the good news and the beauty of marriage. The Pope asked for us to be revolutionaries, and we couldn’t be Catholics if we weren’t countercultural. But the issue is ensuring we have enough space ourselves, enough space to live out our Catholic faith in a positive way, witnessing to our faith.
The real issue here underneath the synod is theological anthropology: what does it mean to be human, to be male, female? Why did God create humans in this way? The Rt Rev Philip Egan is Bishop of Portsmouth
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Vatican official: confessional seal absolute, even after penitent dies BY CINDY WOODEN
THE SECRECY of a Confession is maintained so seriously by the Church that a priest would be excommunicated for revealing the contents when ordered to testify by a court or even after the penitent dies, leading Vatican officials have said.
Mgr Krzysztof Nykiel, regent of the Apostolic Penitentiary, a Vatican court dealing with matters of conscience, said: “No confessor can be dispensed from it, even if he would want to reveal the contents of a Confession in order to prevent a serious and imminent evil.”
He was speaking at a conference at the Vatican on “the confessional seal and pastoral privacy”.
According to the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, conference participants heard that since the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215 spelled out the penalties in Church law for violating the secret of the confessional,
“the discipline of the Church in this matter has remained substantially the same”, with the exception of additional protections. One of those additions, the newspaper said, was a 1988 Church law explicitly stating that using an “electronic apparatus” to record, broadcast or otherwise share the contents of a Confession also is an excommunicable offence.
Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, head of the Apostolic Penitentiary, told participants it was important “to remove any suspicion” that the Church’s commitment to the confessional seal “is designed to cover intrigues, plots or mysteries as people sometimes naïvely believe or, more easily, are led to believe”.
The seal, he said, was intended to protect the most intimate part of the human person, “that is, to safeguard the presence of God within each man”. Mary Kenny: Page 12
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Francis to travel to America next year BY FRANCIS X ROCCA
POPE FRANCIS has confirmed that he will attend the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia in September.
marriage. “I would like to confirm that, God willing, in September 2015 I will go to Philadelphia for the eighth World Meeting of Families,” the Pope said.
The stop-off is likely to be only one part of a more extensive visit to North America. The Pope has never visited the United States before.
Francis made the announcement in a speech opening an inter-religious conference on
The announcement had been widely expected, since Benedict XVI had said before his retirement that he hoped to attend the event.
Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia said he was surprised the Pope had made the announcement so early. He said the Pope’s presence would “bring all of us – Catholic and non-Catholic alike – together in tremendously powerful, unifying and healing ways”. Adams cartoon: Page 12
Patti Smith to sing at Vatican for Christmas BY STAFF REPORTER
ROCK STAR Patti Smith will perform at the Vatican’s Christmas concert alongside Sister Cristina Scuccia, the singing nun who won Italy’s version of The Voice, according to reports.
Smith, who met Pope Francis in St Peter’s Square last year, is one of 18 acts on the bill for the concert at the Conciliation Auditorium in Rome on December 13, the Huffington Post has reported.
Meanwhile, a historic church in Naples is deciding whether to let the punk rock star sing at a concert it is host-
ing, according to the newspaper Corriere del Mezzogiorno.
Portosalvo, a Catholic association, has asked the Archbishop of Naples to ban Smith from performing at the church, reportedly saying it would be “blasphemous”.
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