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Online Edition - Vol. X, No. 1: March 2004

News & Views

Loss of Faith the Besetting Problem of the Church -- Gospels "not historical accounts" Bishop Says -- South African Archbishop, an ICEL Founder, Dies -- Ave Maria U to Offer Sacred Music Degree -- New Vatican Document to Encourage Use of Latin

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Loss of Faith the Besetting Problem of the Church

Loss of faith because of pervasive relativism in the culture is the besetting problem in the Church today, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger said in an interview published February 23 by Zenit news agency.

Cardinal Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, responded to the issues raised in his new book Communion in the Church ( La Comunione nella Chiesa ), published in Italy by St. Paul's. To the question, "What are the problems of the Church that concern you most at present?", Cardinal Ratzinger responded:

"I would say simply the present difficulty to believe. [And] relativism, which comes naturally to human beings of our time.

"Today it is regarded an act of pride, incompatible with tolerance, to think that we have really received the truth from the Lord. Yet, it seems that in order to be tolerant, all religions and cultures must be considered equal. In this context, to believe is an act that becomes increasingly difficult.

"In this way we witness the silent loss of faith, without great protests, in a large part of Christianity. This is the greatest concern.

"So it is important to ask ourselves how we can reopen the doors to the presence of the Lord, to the revelation that the Church makes of Him, within this wave of relativism. Then we will really open a door to tolerance, which is not indifference, but love and respect for the other -- reciprocal help on the path of life".

The interview first appeared in the Italian weekly Famiglia Cristiana.

Source: Zenit

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Gospels "not historical accounts" Bishop Says

Bishop Patrick McGrath of San Jose, commenting on the film The Passion of the Christ, stated that:

"While the primary source material of the film is attributed to the four Gospels, these sacred books are not historical accounts of the historical events that they narrate. They are theological reflections upon the events that form the core of Christian faith and belief".

The bishop acknowledged that he had not seen the film in his article in the San Jose Mercury-News February 18, but offered his "reflections on underlying concerns" about anti-semitism.

Bishop McGrath, who has headed the diocese of San Jose since 1999, may have overlooked the following passage from the Second Vatican Council's Dei Verbum 19:

"Holy Mother Church has firmly and with absolute constancy held, and continues to hold, that the four Gospels just named, whose historical character the Church unhesitatingly asserts, faithfully hand on what Jesus Christ, while living among men, really did and taught for their eternal salvation until the day He was taken up into heaven (see Acts 1:1)".

Only a few weeks earlier, on January 12, Bishop McGrath mandated standing after the Agnus Dei and "from the beginning to the end of the distribution of Communion", beginning at the Easter Vigil, a posture that, he believes, expresses a "clearer symbol of the message the Eucharist is trying to communicate we are one with the Body of Christ present in the Eucharistic species".

"[W]e are still learning to recognize the Real Presence of Christ in those with whom we share in the Eucharist. I firmly believe these these normative postures will help us all, and most importantly our children, to understand the full meaning of the Eucharist".

The elderly or infirm are excused from the standing posture, he said.

Bishop McGrath's directives appear on the San Jose diocesan web site.

Sources: San Jose Mercury-News, February 18, 2004; San Jose diocesan web site

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South African Archbishop, an ICEL Founder, Dies

Archbishop Denis Hurley, of Durban, South Africa, died Friday, February 13, at the age of 88, shortly after returning to South Africa from a meeting with the Sant'Egidio community in Rome.

He was the world's youngest bishop when he was appointed in 1947 at the age of 31, and was a member of the preparatory commission for the Second Vatican Council. He was a founding member of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) in 1963, and even after his retirement as chairman of ICEL (1975-1991), he remained one of ICEL's stoutest defenders.

National Catholic Reporter's (NCR) John Allen, writing about the late archbishop in his "Word from Rome" column February 20, reminisced about their first meeting:

"My first contacts with Hurley concerned ICEL, when I was reporting on the 'liturgy wars' in the late 1990s. He and I spoke on the telephone and exchanged e-mails many times. I met him in person for the first time in the fall of 2000, when he came to Rome for a lecture. His first words to me, even before 'hello', were: 'What do you say we go find this Medina fellow and toss him in the Tiber?'

"The reference was to Cardinal Jorge Medina Estévez, the Chilean who at the time was prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. Medina was the driving force behind Rome's clampdown on ICEL. Hurley, who felt a bit like a grandfather seeing his beloved grandchildren under assault, wasn't in the mood to mince words.

"Yet Hurley also had a twinkle in his eye, signaling that he wasn't really serious about doing anyone harm".

(We're relieved to hear it.)

John Page, ICEL's executive secretary for 22 years, wrote a long and laudatory reminiscence of Archbishop Hurley, also published on NCR's web site. Page notes that the archbishop "was especially happy when in 1982 ICEL took up the immense task of revising the Missal.

"He played a strong part in guiding the revision in his years as chairman and, after 1991, as a member of the governing board of bishops. On the occasion of Hurley's 40th anniversary as a bishop in 1987, the bishops of ICEL and their advisors dedicated the revision of the Missal to the archbishop. He was deeply moved by this gesture and looked eagerly forward to the Missal's being implemented at the parish level".

Page says that Archbishop Hurley was "greatly disappointed" when the ICEL revision was rejected, and "was deeply saddened by the wholesale restructuring of ICEL, mandated by Rome beginning in 1999. He saw Rome's decision as a reversal of the ecumenical council's decrees in favor of the rights of bishops' conferences in the preparation of the vernacular liturgical texts".

Another disappointment was that he was not made a cardinal, Page wrote. "Many believe that his respectful and very careful questioning of Humanae Vitae in 1968 and at the Synod of Bishops in 1980" prevented this, and "one sensed a disappointment that his great love for and service to the Church were never fully appreciated and recognized".

Archbishop Hurley wrote his memoirs of the Council and his involvement with the liturgical reform, published in 2001 in the archdiocesan paper, Southern Cross.

Sources: John Allen, "Word from Rome", National Catholic Reporter online -February 20, 2004;

John Page, "An appreciation of Denis Hurley" http://ncronline.org/mainpage/hurley.htm;

Southern Cross, www.thesoutherncross.co.za/vatican_II/Index.htm

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Ave Maria U to Offer Sacred Music Degree

Ave Maria University, Naples, Florida, will offer a degree program in sacred music, starting next fall, according to officials. As far as can be determined, this will be only such program offered by a Catholic university in the United States.

The program is to be headed by Diana Silva, who studied at the Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey, and at the Sweelinck Conservatorium in Amsterdam. She is also the director of a choral group, Voei del Tesoro, that will become choir-in-residence at Ave Maria.

"Following longstanding Church teaching on sacred music", Silva said, "Ave Maria University will build its sacred music program around Gregorian chant, polyphony and the pipe organ. All music students will perform in choirs each and every semester of their studies.

Here they will learn of the vast and varied literature of Catholic sacred music, and of its proper place in Catholic Liturgy. All other students at the university, will be required to take at least one course in Gregorian chant and other forms of sacred music, in order that every Ave Maria student is introduced the rich Catholic musical heritage.

"Ave Maria intends to become a Catholic university that sings", Silva said.

"Excellence, beauty and reverence, for the glory of God and the sanctification of the faithful - these will be the hallmarks of sacred music at Ave Maria University".

Ave Maria University, which opened last fall, is the newest Catholic university in the United States.

Information: Ave Maria University,
1025 Commons Circle,
Naples, FL 34119.
Ph: 877 283-8648

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New Vatican Document to Encourage Use of Latin

A new document on the use of Latin in the Church and teaching Latin in seminaries is expected sometime this year, according to a Catholic World News report February 26.

Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, the prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, hopes that the document, being prepared by that Congregation in consultation with Latin scholars, will be published before the end of 2004.

The cardinal remarked at a meeting February 25 that "the Church cannot fail to conserve her tradition and patrimony written in Latin", noting that Latin is the official language of the Roman Church and official documents are written in Latin. Priests need to know Latin to fully understand Church teachings, he said, and expressed regret that Vatican statements encouraging the teaching of Latin in Catholic seminaries - such as Pope John XXIII's 1962 Veterum Sapientia - have not been applied. He mentioned that Pope John Paul II had also encouraged Latin study in his 1979 apostolic constitution Sapientia Christiana, and that the 1983 Code of Canon Law states calls for a "good understanding" of Latin among Catholic priests.

Source: Catholic World News

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