Signs of the Times

U.S. Bishops to Vote on New Translation of Mass

The U.S. bishops will be asked to approve a new translation of the Order of Mass when they meet in Los Angeles on June 15-17. If the new translation is adopted as proposed and subsequently approved by the Vatican, Catholics will have to learn a number of changes in their Mass prayers and responses. Some of the more obvious follow: Whenever the priest says, "The Lord be with you," the people will respond, "And with your spirit." The current response is "And also with you." In the first form of the penitential rite, the people will confess, "I have sinned greatly...through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault." In the current version, that part of the prayer is much shorter: "I have sinned through my own fault." The Nicene Creed will begin, "I believe," instead of "We believe." The new version is a translation from the Latin instead of the original Greek text. The Sanctus will start, "Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God of hosts." The current version says, "Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might."

Qatar Gives Grants for Hurricane Recovery

Xavier University of Louisiana has received a $17.5 million grant from Qatar as part of the Middle Eastern country’s overall grants to organizations in New Orleans still recovering from Hurricane Katrina. Qatar’s ambassador to the United States, Nasser bin Hamad al-Khalifa, announced the grants - totaling $60 millionduring a press conference on May 12 in New Orleans. They include a $22 million grant to Habitat for Humanity and other grants to Children’s Hospital, Louisiana State University, Tulane University and the March of Dimes. The grants are the first of $100 million that Qatar is donating to hurricane relief efforts in the area. Al-Khalifa said it is necessary to be generous to other people and other societies in their time of need. He said, We are all part of one unified human race, part of the global city. Wherever [a disaster] happens, we all have responsibility. And, he said, every penny of the money will go to help somebody.


Chinese Meeting to Discuss Ordinations

Chinese bishops attending a state-run meeting in Beijing have been told that the Catholic Church in China will continue to have self-elected and self-ordained bishops until China establishes ties with the Vatican, said a Chinese bishop who attended the meeting. The Beijing government invited 18 of the 66 bishops from the government-approved Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association and one priest to meet on May 19 with state officials at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. Earlier that day, the participants visited China’s national seminary outside Beijing, reported UCA News, an Asian church news agency based in Thailand. The two-hour meeting was chaired by Liu Yandong, director of the United Front Work Department for the Communist Party, and Wang Zuoan, deputy director of the State Administration for Religious Affairs, said Bishop Francis Lu Xinping of Nanjing on May 22. The two government departments organized the gathering; all participants were ordained or involved in ordaining others this year.

U.S. Health Care Needs Huge Revolution

"We need a huge revolution in the American health care system," Sister Carol Keehan of the Daughters of Charity, who is president and C.E.O. of the Catholic Health Association, told journalists gathered in Nashville on May 24 for the 2006 Catholic Media Convocation. During her talk, titled Health Care in the 21st Century: Service to Communities, Compassion for People and Coverage for Everyone, Sister Keehan outlined the need for a universal health care plan for all U.S. citizens, while highlighting the role that Catholic hospitals play in providing care to the poor and uninsured. She also appealed to members of the Catholic media to bring health care issues to life by telling the stories of people adversely affected by an American health care system that she said is unjust. Addressing health care as a human rights and pro-life issue, Sister Carol noted the fear of socialized medicine in the United States and said that, for C.H.A., getting all Americans covered is a top priority. She asked, Why should the United States be the only industrialized nation that does not provide health care for its citizens?

German Catholics Look to a New Justice

Catholics and other Christians need God’s light to lead them to a new justice, the head of the German bishops’ conference said at the closing service of the biennial assembly of the nation’s Catholics. We must heal ourselves of the false promise that we can realize complete justice in a secular society, said Cardinal Karl Lehmann of Mainz, head of the bishops’ conference. To reach this state, we must come before the presence of God. He must always purify our perception and our desire from the ground up. Justice in the Sight of God was the theme of the assembly, or Katholikentag, on May 24-28, which attracted some 40,000 people to Saarbrücken, a city on the French border. The Central Committee of German Catholics and the host Diocese of Trier organized about 1,000 events: The green program booklet had 575 pages, and 1,500 volunteers wore green scarves to make it easier for participants to recognize them.

Krakow Priests Barred From Investigating Collaboration

The Archdiocese of Krakow said local priests may not investigate allegations of Communist-era collaboration by members of the clergy after a former friend of Pope John Paul II was named as a secret police agent. A statement on May 30 by the archdiocese said Krakow’s Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz had asked church historians from the Papal Theological Academy to study the Communist archive documents and that no other priests were authorized to publish information from the archives. The cardinal also told a local priest not to release names of priest-collaborators. The Krakow statement said publishing clergy names undermined love for the church and Christ. The statement came a day after Poland’s Catholic weekly, Tygodnik Powszechny, reported that a lifelong friend of Pope John Paul, the Rev. Mieczyslaw Malinski, was suspected of being a spy for the Polish secret police, or S.B. The weekly said in its issue of June 4 that 83-year-old Father Malinski, a friend of Pope John Paul from their seminary days, was given the code names Mechanik and Delta.

Amnesty Moves Toward Pro-Abortion Policy

The human rights group Amnesty International has taken a step closer to adopting a formal policy in favor of abortion after its Canadian section voted to abandon its neutral position on the issue. Most delegates at the annual general meeting on May 26-28 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, wanted to change Amnesty International’s current neutral position on abortion, Alex Neve, the Canadian section’s general secretary, told Catholic News Service in a telephone interview on May 31. There was a diversity of views, but the majority of participants were in favor of moving in that direction, he said. Neve said a Canadian delegation would present the section’s views at an International Executive Committee meeting in July in Portugal. The committee has been authorized by Amnesty International’s International Council Meeting, held in Mexico in 2005, to set policy by the end of 2006 on the questions of decriminalization of abortion, access to quality services for the management of complications arising from abortion, and legal, safe and accessible abortion in the cases of rape, sexual assault, incest and risk to a woman’s life. A decision on the further question of whether a woman’s right to physical and mental integrity includes her right to terminate her pregnancy will be made at the next International Council Meeting in August 2007 in Mexico.

100 Years Covering U.S. Mission Territory

The Catholic magazine Extension is celebrating 100 years of bringing Catholics the stories of missions in rural areas across the United States. The Catholic Church Extension Society, which publishes Extension, has published a commemorative issue with articles, photos and stories that capture the culture of the Catholic Church and noteworthy church events over the last century. In an effort to serve Catholics in rural and remote areas, the Catholic Extension organization was founded in 1905, and six months later, in 1906, the magazine was founded. The Chicago-based organization has given more than $400 million over the years to construct chapels, educate seminarians and provide campus ministry, religious education and more in U.S. mission dioceses. So many Catholics who know about missions in the United States have learned this from Extension magazine, said Bishop William R. Houck, Catholic Extension president. Subscriptions to Extension magazine are free and can be arranged by calling (800) 842-7804, or online at:

Journalists Should Exemplify Faith, Morality

Media professionals who work for the Catholic Church must be exemplars of faith and morality as they try to bring Christian values to the world, Pope Benedict XVI said. The pope met on June 2 with the employees of the newspaper, news agency, radio network and satellite television station of the Italian bishops’ conference. Pope Benedict said it is their job to bring the Gospel to Italian life. Divorce, abortion and the lack of ethical references in public debates show the consequences of a culture intent on moving away from its Christian roots, the pope said. To be effective witnesses, he said, those who work in Catholic media must give shining testimony of profoundly Christian lives and be deeply united with Christ in prayer in order to see the world with his eyes.

Pope, Blair Discuss Dialogue With Islam

In a meeting with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Pope Benedict XVI underlined the need to keep dialogue open with moderate Islam. In a statement issued the same day, June 3, the Vatican said controversy over Iran’s nuclear program can and should be resolved through dialogue and diplomatic moves that respect the honor and sensitivity of every country. Blair’s government has backed U.S. efforts to pressure Iran into abandoning its nuclear program. The pope met privately with Blair for 40 minutes at the Vatican and afterward greeted Blair’s wife, Cherie, and two of their four children. It was his first meeting as pope with the British leader. Vatican and British sources said afterward the private talks covered a wide range of issues, including the role of religion in politics and in society, the threat of global terrorism, international aid to Africa and new developments in the Middle East and Northern Ireland.

Church Must Combat Global Corruption

The Catholic Church can do much more to fight corruption and promote economies that put citizens’ needs ahead of individual interests and private gains, said some participants at a Vatican-sponsored conference. Bribery, patronage, extortion, embezzlement, nepotism and other abuses of power for personal gain are unethical, hinder economic growth and development, and divert needed resources from going to the poor, participants said at a conference on June 2-3 sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. Some 80 experts from across the world were invited to the closed-door meetings. Participants included church leaders, government advisers and representatives of local nongovernmental organizations, the United Nations and the World Bank, including its president, Paul Wolfowitz. Both the council’s president, Cardinal Renato Martino, and its secretary, Bishop Giampaolo Crepaldi, said corruption has increased because of globalization, so greater global efforts are needed to prevent, monitor and prosecute corruption.

Priests Implicated in Embezzlement

A lawyer for Polish Salesians said 10 priests charged with helping to embezzle $135 million in unsecured bank loans were being used as scapegoats. We’re not saying priests weren’t involved, said the lawyer, Krzysztof Wyrwa. But these loans would never have been taken out without consent from the bank’s senior managers. So why has their role been ignored in the charge sheet? Ten Salesian priests were charged on May 16 with obtaining $135 million from the Kredyt Bank by using fake documents. All face 10 years in jail if convicted of the fraud. Wyrwa told Catholic News Service in a telephone interview on June 5 that Kredyt Bank managers had been well aware that the loans were unsecured, but had agreed to them in order to gain commission and interest charges from the Salesians. From the very beginning, the bank has been claiming innocence, saying it was merely the victim, he said. In reality, its officials cooperated and made it easier for these priests to do what they did.

Pope Appeals for Peace in East Timor, Praises Aid Groups

Pope Benedict XVI appealed for calm and peace in East Timor, which has been marked by sporadic rioting and violence for more than a month, and an Australian aid worker said that at least one bishop was working behind the scenes to help resolve the situation. At the end of his general audience in Rome on May 31, the pope said, My thoughts turn now to the beloved nation of East Timor, gripped in these days by tension and violence that has left more than 25 people dead. The pope praised the local church, Catholic agencies and other international organizations that were helping people displaced by the violence and asked the estimated 35,000 people at his audience to pray to the Blessed Virgin Mary so she would support with her maternal protection the efforts of those contributing to the pacification of souls and the return to normality. The violence began in late April after the government dismissed about one-third of its army.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
11 years 11 months ago
I am not disrespectful, nor do I have to defend my loyalty to the church or your magazine. I have been Catholic all my life, 75 years, and a subscriber for over 55 years.

I appreciated your brief report regarding the “crackdown” on the Krakow priests about publishing information from the Communists’ archive documents (Signs of the Times, 6/19). But on the following page we find an item on combating global corruption, condemning patronage, nepotism and other abuses of power.

Doesn’t this seem hypocritical to you? There is such an overbearing sense of control constantly emanating from the institutional church.

Why don’t we clean our own house first?


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