Signs of the Times

Newly Beatified German Cardinal Feared God More Than Man, Pope Says

Cardinal Clemens August von Galen of Münster, Germany, an outspoken critic of Adolf Hitler’s regime, feared God more than man, Pope Benedict XVI said moments after the cardinal was beatified. All of us, but especially we Germans, are grateful that God gave us this great witness of faith who shined the light of the truth in dark times and demonstrated the courage to resist tyranny, the pope told German pilgrims on Oct. 9. Cardinal von Galen, who served as bishop of Münster from 1933 until his death in 1946, was beatified in St. Peter’s Basilica during a Mass celebrated by Cardinal José Saraiva Martins, prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes. At the end of the Mass, Pope Benedict entered the basilica, praying before the cardinal’s relics and greeting the thousands of pilgrims who participated in the beatification ceremony. The cardinal was known as the Lion of Münster because of his vigorous defense of the church under Nazism and his denunciations of Hitler’s racial policies and the regime’s program of medical experimentation on the sick and handicapped.

Bishops Urge: Reconsider Role for Married Priests

A lack of priests, coupled with people’s great need for spiritual nourishment, must prompt the church to be open to considering a role for married priests in the life of the church, said some members of the World Synod of Bishops, whose topic this year was the Eucharist. Coadjutor Bishop Arnold Orowae of Wabag, Papua New Guinea, told synod participants that Catholics who live in remote villages did not have the opportunity for frequent celebration and reception of the Eucharist. According to information released by the Vatican, the bishop asked, in his speech on Oct. 6, how these communities would then be able to make the Eucharist the source and summit of their lives, as the church asks. He said the church needs to reflect on what kind of priest they need in their situation, and he asked the church to consider allowing the ordination of mature Christian men who are strong in faith, very committed, and have the respect of the people. Oftentimes these so-called viri probati, or men of proven virtue, are older, married men. He said these men could be easily trained to preside at the eucharistic celebration, which would then make it easy for the people to participate in the Eucharist, so that the importance and centrality of the Eucharist would become true for the people.


Cardinals Say Communion for Catholic Politicians

The reception of Communion by a Catholic politician who does not follow church teaching is not a private matter, but a decision involving the church and its unity in truth, said Cardinal Alfonso López Trujillo of Colombia. Politicians and legislators must understand that by promoting or defending unjust legal proposals they have a serious responsibility, and they must remedy the evil committed and spread in order to approach Communion with the Lord, who is the way, the truth and the life, the cardinal said on Oct. 7 during the meeting of the World Synod of Bishops in Rome. The concerns of the cardinal, who is president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, were echoed minutes later by Cardinal Juan Cipriani Thorne of Lima, Peru. According to information released by the Vatican, Cardinal López Trujillo told the bishops that the question of politicians and Communion was a burning problem in several countries, particularly where marriage, the family and the sanctity of human life were in grave danger.

Nigerian Wants Respect for African Culture

A Nigerian archbishop’s call for greater respect for African music, dance and instruments in the Mass could be seen as fighting words next to calls for more Gregorian chant and organ music. Several members of the Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist echoed the synod’s working document’s encouragement for greater use of traditional Catholic music and Latin prayers, especially at Masses with an international congregation, according to information released by the Vatican. But Archbishop John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan of Abuja, Nigeria, said on Oct. 10 that the church should rejoice at the wonderful things the Holy Spirit has brought to the liturgy since the Second Vatican Council. The Eucharist deserves and is receiving the best of our cultures, he said. The Vatican made portions of his statement and those of other synod participants available to journalists. Africa may not have much to offer in terms of the glorious architecture of European cathedrals or the fabulous paintings of Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. But what we have we are happy to give: our songs and lyrics, our drumming and rhythmic body movements, all to the glory of God, said the archbishop.

German Paper Says Pope Benedict Was Spied On

A German newspaper has published details of how East Germany’s Communist secret police, or Stasi, spied on Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger three decades before he became Pope Benedict XVI. Long before his nomination as prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, state security ministry agents kept watch on him, the Bild am Sonntag weekly reported on Oct. 2. The newspaper also noted that one agent wrote with concern that, as congregation prefect, he would have an influence on the growth of anti-communist attitudes in the Catholic Church, especially in Latin America. The tabloid, which was given exclusive access to archives covering two decades, said a Stasi agent code-named Birke (Birch) had begun regular surveillance of the future pontiff when, as a priest and professor at the University of Regensburg, he visited East Germany in April 1974 to lecture on problems of modern theology at the University of Erfurt.

Hurricane Aid Should Be Distributed Fairly

Getting federal aid to schools affected by the hurricanes in the Gulf Coast region should not be hindered by the way the funds are dispersed, said the education secretary for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. In a letter on Oct. 5 to the House Education and Work Force Committee and the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee, Glenn Anne McPhee, O.P., expressed significant reservations about recent discussions by members of Congress stipulating that any aid given to private schools be distributed through public school districts, following the model for distributing federal funds in the No Child Left Behind legislation. The hurricanes did not distinguish between public, private or religious schools at any level: preschool, elementary, secondary or postsecondary, said Sister McPhee. Therefore assistance should be equitably provided to all those affected in a way that will be the most effective, flexible and quickest way of accomplishing the goal of restoring some degree of normality to the lives of all those impacted and displaced.

Senate Confirms Businessman for Vatican

Francis Rooney, a businessman with interests in Oklahoma and Florida, was confirmed by the Senate on Oct. 7 to be U.S. ambassador to the Holy See. In a voice vote, the Senate agreed to confirm Rooney’s appointment along with the nominations of dozens of other people to posts ranging from assistant secretaries of various federal agencies to judges for the District of Columbia. Rooney is chief executive officer of Rooney Holdings, which includes insurance and construction companies. He also has been active in Oklahoma and Florida in charitable and community organizations, including the Knights of Malta, an Oklahoma Catholic hospital’s strategic planning committee, the American Red Cross and the United Way. The post of Vatican ambassador has been vacant since Jim Nicholson became secretary of veterans’ affairs in January.

Bethlehem Hospital Receives Major Grant

Holy Family Hospital of Bethlehem has successfully concluded an agreement with the U. S. Agency for International Development for a three-year, $3.5 million project to help improve its state-of-the-art maternal and child care services to poor women and infants of the region. For over a century the hospital, founded by the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, has existed less than 500 yards from Manger Square in Bethlehem. It is operated by the Order of Malta and has never closed its doors because of political unrest, nor has it ever turned away an expectant mother. It is the only health care facility in the entire West Bank to treat difficult pregnancies and prematurely born infants. It is also unique in that it treats all women and newborns regardless of national origin, religion or ability to pay.

Draft Translation of Mass Prayers Made Available

A new draft translation into English of the principal prayers of the Mass has been distributed to bishops.

The draft of the Ordo Missae, or Order of the Mass, was compiled by the International Commission on English in the Liturgy, which works for 11 bishops’ conferences and drafts translations of original Latin prayers. An earlier draft was approved by I.C.E.L.’s episcopal board in 2004 and was distributed to English-speaking bishops for comment. The Order of the Mass includes the prayers that are regularly used at Mass, such as the Gloria, the Nicene Creed and the eucharistic prayers. It does not include all the prayers that change each week during the liturgical year. Catholic News Service in Rome was given a copy of the latest draft on Oct. 6.

A copy was also auctioned off on eBay, the Internet auction site, on Oct. 5. The online bidder paid $61 for the 44-page document.

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