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Vatican tries to revive Eucharistic adoration

VATICAN CITY -- For seven centuries, Eucharistic adoration—praying before an exposed consecrated Communion host—was one of the most popular forms of devotion in the Roman Catholic Church, the focus of beloved prayers and hymns and a distinctive symbol of Catholic identity.

Following the modernizing reforms of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), the practice fell from favor, especially in Europe and the U.S. But over the last decade, under Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, the church has strongly encouraged a revival of the practice.

“No one eat this flesh, if he has not adored it before; for we sin if we do not adore,” Benedict said, quoting St. Augustine, in a 2009 speech at the Vatican.

Next week (June 20-24), the Salesian Pontifical University in Rome will host an academic conference on Eucharistic adoration, where the speakers will include six prominent cardinals, focusing on the rediscovery of the practice.

At the same time, however, some theologians object to adoration as outdated and unnecessary, and warn that it can lead to misunderstandings and undo decades of progress in educating lay Catholics on the meaning of the sacrament.

Report on U.S. ordinariate for ex-Anglicans

BELLEVUE, Wash. -- As many as 100 U.S. Anglican priests and 2,000 laypeople could be the first members of a U.S. personal ordinariate for former Anglicans who want to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church, Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington reported to his fellow bishops June 15.

Cardinal Wuerl was appointed by the Vatican last September to guide the incorporation of Anglican groups into the Catholic Church in the United States under "Anglicanorum coetibus," an apostolic constitution issued by Pope Benedict XVI in November 2009.

Pope to give out first Ratzinger Prizes in theology

VATICAN CITY -- The Vatican on Tuesday (June 14) announced three winners of the inaugural Ratzinger Prize in theology, which Pope Benedict XVI (known as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger until his papal election) will present at a ceremony on June 30.

The inaugural winners include an Italian expert on the writings of early Christian theologians; a Spanish scholar whose subjects have ranged from St. Bonaventure to Oscar Wilde; and a German monk who wrote his doctoral thesis on the theology of the future pope himself.

The prize, which carries a cash award of 50,000 euros ($72,000), is intended as a kind of “Nobel Prize in Theology,” according to Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the former vicar general (or acting bishop) of Rome, who served as chairman of the selection committee.

Manlio Simonetti, 85 and the only layman among the recipients, is a former professor at the University of Rome “La Sapienza” and a specialist in the writings of the early church fathers, including Augustine, Origen and Gregory the Great.

Vatican issues new bishops' policy

VATICAN CITY -- Catholics forced to participate in ordinations of bishops without the pope’s approval may be exempt from the usual penalty of automatic excommunication, the Vatican said on June 10.

Bishops who consecrate other bishops without a papal “mandate” incur automatic excommunication, as do the men they consecrate and all other ministers who participate in the ceremony, according to a church document published in the official Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano.

All of those excommunicated are thereafter forbidden to celebrate Mass, administer or receive any Catholic sacraments, or “exercise ministerial functions” unless their excommunications are lifted by the pope.

Yet the council’s statement allows for “mitigating circumstances,” under which the penalty of excommunication does not apply. Specifically, if any of the parties was “coerced by grave fear ... or grave inconvenience” to participate in an authorized ordination, he can avoid automatic expulsion from the church.

Morale falters in Australian church

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ANALYSIS

SYDNEY, Australia -- The energies of Catholic Australians in recent years have been absorbed by contradictory approaches to being faithful. The first is the church’s institutional integrity (requirements of obedience, orthodoxy and conformity); the second is its moral integrity (what should it be doing, for whom and how).

The church’s top leadership and its ordinary members have been concerned about these issues in almost inverse proportion. Pope Benedict XVI, like the late John Paul II before him, has been at pains to strengthen the church against the influences of secularism by insisting on stricter discipline in its ranks and a greater acceptance of official teachings on the part of the faithful.

Many Australian clergy and laypeople, on the other hand, regard the declining number of regular churchgoers, the shrinking number of priests and religious, and the scandal of clerical sexual abuse as compelling reasons to move away from old ways of being church and pursue fundamental reform.

The result of these contradictory approaches is often conflict.

Caritas elects French secretary-general

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ROME -- Members of Caritas Internationalis elected an official from the French charity Secours Catholique to be their secretary-general and they re-elected Honduran Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Tegucigalpa as president of the confederation of 165 Catholic charities.

Michel Roy, director of international advocacy for the French Catholic charity, was elected by regional representatives making up the Caritas executive committee. His election was confirmed May 26 by delegates to the Caritas Internationalis general assembly.

A 56-year-old father of two children, Roy was a student of economics and Oriental languages at Sorbonne University when he began volunteer work with Southeast Asian refugees for Secours Catholique in 1976. He joined the Paris archdiocesan staff in 1981 and served as national director from 1993 to 1999.

Vatican newspaper: Condoms increase AIDS risk

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VATICAN CITY -- An article in the Vatican newspaper said that, on a practical level, condom campaigns increase the possibility of AIDS infection by promoting a false sense of security.

On a moral level, the article said, condom use by married couples goes against the church's teaching about responsible procreation because it "deforms" the conjugal act.

The article was written by Father Juan Perez-Soba, a moral theologian who teaches in Rome at the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family. It appeared in L'Osservatore Romano May 24, three days before the start of a major Vatican conference that was expected to clarify church teaching on AIDS.

Father Perez-Soba said that although use of a condom may have some effectiveness against HIV/AIDS contagion in single acts, it cannot guarantee safety -- especially throughout the sexual life of a couple. It is wrong, therefore, to say that condom use can prevent infection, he said.

Complex questions of papal infallibility

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WASHINGTON -- “No doctrine is understood as defined infallibly unless this is manifestly evident,” says Canon 749.3 of the church’s Code of Canon Law.

Jesuit Fr. Ladislas Orsy, professor of law at Georgetown University here, cited that canon almost immediately when NCR asked him if Pope John Paul II’s 1994 teaching in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis “that the church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the church’s faithful” is infallible.

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August 15-28, 2014

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