Signs of the Times

Bishops Approve New Texts for Order of Mass

In what Bishop Donald W. Trautman called a truly important moment in liturgy in the United States, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops approved a new English translation of the Order of Mass and adopted several U.S. adaptations during a national meeting on June 15 in Los Angeles. The new translation of the main constant parts of the Masspenitential rite, Gloria, Creed, eucharistic prayers, eucharistic acclamations, Our Father and other prayers and responses used dailywill likely be introduced in about a year or two if it is approved by the Vatican, said Bishop Trautman, a Scripture scholar who heads the Diocese of Erie, Pa., and is chairman of the U.S.C.C.B.’s Committee on Liturgy. He said he thought the bishops would wait until they have approvedand received Vatican confirmation ofan entire new Roman Missal in English before implementing the new Order of Mass.

Women Bishops Major Obstacle to Unity

A Vatican cardinal has warned the Church of England that a move to ordain women as bishops would destroy any chance of full unity with the Catholic and Orthodox churches. Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, said that if the Church of England adopted such a resolution, the "shared partaking of the one Lord’s table, which we long for so earnestly, would disappear into the far and ultimately unreachable distance." He said, "Instead of moving toward one another, we would simply coexist alongside each other." His remarks came in a speech to a private meeting of the Church of England bishops in Market Bosworth, England, just four months after the bishops agreed to set up a working group to outline a process through which women might be consecrated as bishops. Although three of the world’s Anglican provinces have already agreed to consecrate women as bishops, Cardinal Kasper said decisions made by the Church of England had a particular importance, because they gave a strong indication of the direction in which the communion as a whole was heading.


Former Anglicans Can Enrich Their New Church

Cardinal Avery Dulles, S.J., one of the most notable Catholic converts (from Presbyterianism) of modern times, said his journey to the faith has been a wonderful adventure and expressed hope that Anglicans received into the full communion of the Catholic Church will enrich their new church with their Anglican traditions. The 87-year-old U.S. theologian was the keynote speaker at the Anglican Use Conference held on June 5-6 in the Diocese of Scranton. Conversion to Catholicism was the theme of the conference. The two-day gathering explored the pastoral provision that the Vatican approved in 1980 allowing retention of some elements of Anglican identity in liturgy when a number of Episcopalians from the same congregation or the same area enter full Catholic communion. More than 80 former Episcopalian priests, including about 70 who were married, have become Catholic priests under those procedures.

Pope Plans Trip to Spain for Meeting of Families

Pope Benedict XVI’s first trip to Spain will include a festive nighttime vigil and morning Mass with families from all over the world as well as meetings with Spain’s bishops, the Spanish royal family and Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero. The pope will visit the Mediterranean port city of Valencia on July 8-9 to help close the Fifth World Meeting of Families. During his brief but busy journey, the pope will visit Valencia’s Gothic cathedral and the city’s ultramodern City of the Arts and the Sciences center, where the international families meeting will be held. Families from six continents will meet to discuss Transmitting the Faith in the Family.

Faith Leaders Call for Policy Against Torture

Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick joined with 26 other faith leaders on June 13 in calling for a clear U.S. policy against torture and cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment of detainees. The cardinal, the newly retired archbishop of Washington, D.C., was among the signers of an ad in The New York Times sponsored by the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. Torture violates the basic dignity of the human person that all religions, in their highest ideals, hold dear, the advertisement said. Any policies that permit torture and inhumane treatment are shocking and morally intolerable. In a news release, Cardinal McCarrick said every human being has a special dignity...that comes from the fact that we are brothers and sisters in God’s one human family. He added, It is because of this that we all feel that torture is a dehumanizing and terrible attack against human nature and the respect we owe for each other.

Vatican Officials to Attend World Religious Summit

The Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow has invited top Vatican officials as well as the bishop of western Siberia to attend a World Summit of Religious Leaders on July 3-5 in Russia’s capital. Through its interreligious council, the Moscow Patriarchate was organizing the initiative to bring together top religious leaders from a variety of spiritual traditions to discuss how world religions could help give a moral response to the challenges the world is facing. Among the religious leaders expected to attend are: Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexei II of Moscow; Cardinal Paul Poupard, head of the Pontifical Council for Culture and the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue; Cardinal Walter Kasper, head of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity; and Bishop Joseph Werth of Russia’s Diocese of the Transfiguration, based in Novosibirsk. The inclusion of Bishop Werth, S.J., a Russian citizen born in Kazakhstan, signaled an important gesture of rapprochement on the part of the patriarchate toward the Vatican.

U.S. Lawmakers Condemn Coerced Ordinations

U.S. lawmakers have passed a resolution condemning the Chinese government for interfering in the internal affairs of the Catholic Church in China. H.R. 804 criticized the actions of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association in their coerced ordination of priests Joseph Ma Yinglin and Joseph Liu Xinhong as bishops. Two other resolutions were passed by the House on June 12, including one that condemned China’s increased religious persecution. China’s Foreign Ministry said in a press conference on June 13 that the House resolutions were based on groundless accusations that interfered with China’s internal affairs under the pretext of religious affairs and human rights. In testimony before the House, Representative Tom Lantos, Democrat of California, said: Sometimes what is self-evident to civilized, democratic governments is sadly lost on the Chinese leadership in Beijing.

Irish Christian Brothers to End Schools Involvement

The Irish Christian Brothers plan to end the order’s day-to-day direct involvement in their 109 secondary and 29 primary schools in Ireland. In recent years the number of vocations to the order in Ireland has decreased dramatically. This is the main reason that the schools’ management is to be handed over to a new charitable trust called Edmund Rice Schools Trust, named after the order’s founder. Once the trust has been formally approved by the Irish bishops’ conference, the schools will be run by lay people.

CARA Reports on School Closings

A decline in the number of Catholic schools in the United States during the past five years reflects a demographic shift in where Catholics live more than a decline in the demand for Catholic education, according to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate in Washington. In a report released on May 23, CARA researchers linked the closure of 339 Catholic schools in the last five years to the dynamic that Catholic people move, schools don’t. The National Catholic Educational Association commissioned CARA, an independent Catholic research agency based at Georgetown University, to research the status of U.S. Catholic elementary schools and look at both the long- and short-term trends that have brought about school closures. The results are outlined in Primary Trends, Challenges and Outlook: A Special Report on U.S. Catholic Elementary Schools, 2000-2005.

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11 years 6 months ago
I am frustrated by the recent action of the bishops in considering certain changes to the liturgy of the Mass (Signs of the Times, 7/3). Why are they wasting their time and ours on trivialities when there are so many important issues that need attention?

Are they using their command function to remind us that they are in control? I would prefer that they learn to exercise leadership and lead us into the 21st century. This would involve many issues, including the priest shortage, which I attribute to their woeful lack of leadership. Leading into the 21st century would involve updating their teachings from the static universe of St. Augustine and other early leaders to the dynamic universe we know today. Some of the changes include now knowing that the universe is billions of years old and that humans have been here for perhaps millions of years.

I know the teachings of the catechism, but it is hard to relate them to the conditions of the 21st century. Since I know the bishops are not likely to address these issues, I must make my own interpretations. Yes, I am a Catholic and will remain one, but in some issues on my own terms.


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