- The church’s “new” Code of Canon Law — now almost 25 years old — has proved a positive, flexible tool in dealing with many contemporary church challenges. Yet aspects of the church’s marriage law remain problematic, and the flaws exposed in efforts to penalize priests who sexually abused minors indicate a need for code revision, says Msgr. John Alesandro, a leading U.S. canonist. (Subscribers: Click here)
- A bipartisan group of prominent lay Catholics issues a call for more civility in public life, specifically urging Catholics not to “enlist the church’s moral endorsement for our political preferences” or “exhort the church to condemn our political opponents by publicly denying them holy Communion.” (Subscribers: Click here)
- The “new evangelization” demands that the church first cover the psychological and sociological distances that separate it from the pluralistic postmodern world to which it is sent. This will undoubtedly bring death to a certain way of being church, to a certain identity, but “a missionary church must not nourish nostalgia for the past,” says Bishop Claude Champagne, auxiliary of Halifax, Nova Scotia. (Subscribers: Click here)
- Cardinal Avery Dulles traces the development of five catechetical models and contrasts their different emphases. (Subscribers: Click here)
- Those who would reject the natural moral law and base civil law on majority rule alone ignore the lessons of history and put basic human rights at risk, says Pope Benedict XVI. Only natural law provides the foundation for a universal ethic and true guarantee that each person may live in freedom, have his dignity respected and be protected from manipulation and abuse by the stronger. (Subscribers: Click here)
- Bishop Randolph Calvo of Reno, Nevada, discusses the role of mercy in the justice system. Mercy not only tempers justice, it expands our awareness of those in need and “widens the scope of our concern beyond our individual rights and special interests to seek the common good and to promote social justice,” he says. (Subscribers: Click here)
- The English-speaking Catholic bishops from Gambia, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ghana and Nigeria call for the opening of “new doors” in dialogue between Catholics and Muslims. “We want to deepen our dialogue so that we can enter in the heart of the matter: the promotion of peace in our West African subregion,” they say. (Subscribers: Click here)
- Pope Paul VI’s cry from the heart in “Populorum Progressio” that “development is the new name for peace” has only gained new urgency in the 40 years since it was issued, says Dublin’s Archbishop Diarmuid Martin. (Subscribers: Click here)
- The liturgical celebration of marriage ought to be a vital part of Catholic marriage ministry and a source of theological reflection on the sacrament of marriage, says liturgist Paul Covino. (Subscribers: Click here)
- If Muslims and Christians are not at peace, the world cannot be at peace, an international group of Muslim leaders and scholars say in a letter to Christian leaders, including Pope Benedict XVI. Finding common ground between the world’s two largest religions is a demand of their shared belief in the unity of God and of the necessity of love for him and of one’s neighbor, they say. (Subscribers: Click here)
- Where there is acceptance of the direct killing of noncombatant civilians or justification of the use of torture in eliciting information from prisoners, there is no military chaplaincy worthy of its name, says the former head of the U.S. military archdiocese, Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien of Baltimore. (Subscribers: Click here)
- An earned path to citizenship for illegal immigrants constitutes neither amnesty nor a reward for lawbreaking because offenders pay a penalty proportionate to the intent and effect of their lawbreaking and remain accountable to the law, says Cardinal Roger M. Mahony. (Subscribers: Click here)
This week’s Origins: CNS Documentary Service returns to texts from the Catholic Theological Society meeting as well as a speech by the pope on European culture and the “crisis of modernity.” The details:
- Two experts examine issues behind the sexual abuse crisis in the U.S. church. Mercy Sister Sharon Euart, a canon law consultant, looks at some canonical issues involved in the crisis (subscribers: click here), and theologian Christopher Ruddy says that the scandal was primarily “engendered by clericalism” (subscribers: click here).
- Pope Benedict XVI tells a gathering of European professors that in light of the cultural shift taking place on the continent universities should undertake a “comprehensive study of the crisis of modernity” and create a new humanism for Europe. (Subscribers: click here)
Interesting stuff in this week’s Origins: CNS Documentary Service:
- Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor of Westminster, England, takes a wide-ranging look at Muslim-Christian relations in a post-Sept. 11 world. (Subscribers: click here)
- Three lay theologians examine the U.S. bishops’ 2005 text on lay ecclesial ministry: H. Richard McCord recalls the text’s development (subscribers: click here); Edward Hahnenberg asks whether the bishop is the source or center of diocesan ministries (subscribers: click here); and Aurelie Hagstrom looks at the question of authorization (subscribers: click here).
- Bishop Gabino Zavala, a Los Angeles auxiliary, discusses the right of workers to organize and some of the accomplishments and challenges of the U.S. labor movement. (Subscribers: click here)
Global climate change and the relationship between theologians and bishops are the two topics addressed in the latest edition of Origins, the CNS Documentary Service:
- The U.S. Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works invited religious groups to share their views on the moral and ethical dimensions of global climate change. Origins presents the testimony from three of them: the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (subscribers: click here), Reform Judaism’s Religious Action Center (subscribers: click here), and the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA (subscribers: click here).
- Theologian Daniel Finn, outgoing president of the Catholic Theological Society of America, urges a re-examination of the society’s relations with conservative theologians, U.S. bishops and the Vatican in a reflection on the need for a theology of power (subscribers: click here).
At Catholic News Service, we’ve always said that Origins, the CNS Documentary Service, is more than just a publication — it’s an ongoing, ever-accumulating resource. Even though many documents in Origins can be found at no charge on the Internet, no other publication — oops, I mean resource — is as easy to use and as complete for anyone doing research on church issues, whether it’s a homilist trying to develop a theme that ties into the day’s readings or a journalist trying to understand the nuances of church teaching on a particular topic.
This week’s edition (sorry, that link only works for subscribers) is another perfect example. Sure, some of these texts are already on the Internet, but why go there when you can have these and thousands of related items at your fingertips through an online subscription?
Here’s the rundown on the latest Origins edition:
- What is the place of homosexuals in the Catholic Church? Tucson’s Bishop Gerald Kicanas looks at what the church can offer people with same-sex orientation. (Subscribers: click here)
- Cardinal Sean O’Malley explains that despite the sale of much of its remaining property to Boston College, St. John’s Seminary remains an essential element of the Boston Archdiocese’s future. (Subscribers: click here)
- Presidents of seven Catholic bishops’ conferences urge the heads of seven of the world’s wealthiest nations to take bold steps on global poverty, health care, climate change, and peace and security during the G-8 summit. (Subscribers: click here)
- Bishop Stephen Blaire exhorts newly ordained priests in Stockton, Calif., to “look forward in hope with the eyes of faith” lest a misguided nostalgia turn them into pillars of salt instead of “salt of the earth.” (Subscribers: click here)
- Archbishop Andre Gaumond, president of Canada’s bishops’ conference, reviews the 40-year history and continuing relevance of the Canadian church’s international development agency. “The social challenges of justice and peace can never be kept at arm’s length from one’s life as a Christian,” he says. (Subscribers: click here)
- Pope Benedict XVI continues his discussion, begun during his recent visit to Brazil, of Christianity’s impact on the peoples and cultures of the Americas. (Subscribers: click here)
- Father Robert Duggan describes to a “better practices” conference the leadership-development model his former parish designed. (Subscribers: click here)
- Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone expresses condolences on the pope’s behalf to the Chaldean Catholic archbishop of Iraq on the murder of a priest and three subdeacons. (Subscribers: click here)
Another variety of interesting texts in the newest edition of Origins: CNS Documentary Service:
- American troops should stay in Iraq “only as long as their presence contributes to a responsible transition,” says the head of the military services archdiocese, Archbishop Edwin O’Brien, in a Memorial Day message to Catholics in the U.S. armed forces. (Subscribers: click here)
- The Vatican transcript of what Pope Benedict XVI said aboard the papal plane to Brazil about Catholic politicians and abortion. (Subscribers: click here)
- The U.S. bishops see more that they like in the House version of immigration reform legislation than in the Senate’s, Orlando Bishop Thomas G. Wenski tells a House subcommittee. (Subscribers: click here)
- The church offers the gift of Jesus in the Eucharist to a world on the path to globalization in the hope that this movement will be one of humanization and not one of alienation and injustice, says Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet. (Subscribers: click here)
Efforts to fight pornography have been getting increased attention in recent months. The latest: Churches in the Kansas City area are petitioning six county governments in the region to convene grand jury investigations into sales of pornography. They also are seeking enforcement of Missouri and Kansas obscenity statutes. Stories are in both The Catholic Key in Kansas City, Mo., and The Leaven in Kansas City, Kan.
If you’ve not been following it, this is only the latest Catholic press coverage of the issue. Some examples:
- A Missouri bishop writes a pastoral letter warning of pornography’s assault on dignity.
- In Texas, the Diocese of Austin forms an Anti-Pornography Task Force.
- Denver’s archbishop pleas for an urgent end to pornography’s poison.
- Another Colorado paper publishes a special section on pornography and sex addiction.
- The Leaven (see above) publishes articles on how pornography’s “perfect storm” corrodes marriage, family life and on how a “secret” addiction can carry a not-so-secret price tag.
In addition, Archbishop George H. Niederaur of San Francisco, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Communications and a member of the Pontifical Council on Social Communications, spoke this month in Salt Lake City (his former diocese) and said the Internet has made pornography an “electronic tsunami” that has taken the problem well beyond simply movies and magazines. You can read coverage of the speech in the Intermountain Catholic of Salt Lake City. Subscribers to Origins, the CNS Documentary Service, can read the full text in Origins’ May 31 edition.