Portugal, Germany, England

Portugal: CEP on freemasonry and abortionAt the end of the Permanent Council of the Portuguese Bishops’ Council (CEP), meeting at Fatima on 10 January, Cardinal Archbishop of Lisbon José Policarpo criticised “the direct influence being exerted by freemasonry in political affairs”, though saying that “it’s not necessary for a politician to publicly recognize his identity as a freemason”. Replying in this way to the questions of journalists on the recent controversy relating to the alleged links between freemasonry, MPs and the press, the Patriarch of Lisbon explained that, from the Church’s point of view, what’s really important is the fact that “being Catholic is incompatible with being a freemason, because the latter rejects the essence of the faith: the Word of God and the supernatural Revelation”. He also recalled that the last official document of the Holy See on the matter (www.vatican.va) was published on 26 November 1983, and drafted by the then Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. The President of the Portuguese Bishops also announced that “the current law on abortion could soon be revised”; the bishops in fact analyzed a document presented by a civic movement that is collecting signatures for “a referendum that aims to ban abortion on demand and prevent euthanasia”. “I think the moment has come to make the whole of society understand that it is citizens themselves that are directly concerned by problems concerning the inviolability of human life, and not just the Catholic Church” said Cardinal Policarpo. The Permanent Council of the Portughese Episcopate lastly approved “a note of congratulations”, welcoming the recent elevation to the College of Cardinals of Mgr. Manuel Monteiro de Castro, and promising to accompany him with its prayers for the fulfilment of this new service to the Holy See.Germany: Catholics need to listen to each otherArchbishop Robert Zollitsch, President of the German Bishops’ Conference (DBK), has warned of the danger of polarization within the German Catholic Church. According to what is reported by the KNA, the German Catholic press agency, Archbishop Zollitsch warned, more particularly, of an exacerbation of opposing positions in the Catholic community. “A new willingness to listen to each other and learn from each other is badly needed”, said the Archbishop during the New Year’s meeting of the archdiocese of Freiburg. A “spirit of brotherhood”, he added, is needed. Archbishop Zollitsch underlined the “enormous challenges” that the German Catholic Church is called to tackle today. “That’s why the process of dialogue on the future of the Church, launched throughout the country, is so important. Catholics are invited to participate in this process”, continued the archbishop. He identified as a suitable occasion for such dialogue the Katholikentag, the national Catholic Congress, due to be held in May; it could represent, he said, a “milestone” to discuss “in an exhaustive and far-sighted way” such “crucial social questions as the protection of the environment, demographic trends or questions of Christian faith”.England: first year of the OrdinariateSolemn vespers at five o’clock in the afternoon, a procession of the Holy Sacrament and a blessing at the Church of St. James, at the centre of London, led by Ordinary Msgr. Keith Newton. Thus next Sunday, 15 January, the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham – started by Pope Benedict XVI one year ago, with the establishment of “Anglicanorum Coetibus” to welcome the Anglicans deciding to become Catholics, however keeping patterns of their liturgy – will celebrate its first anniversary. “It is an opportunity for the members, friends and supporters of the Ordinariate, both Catholics and Anglicans, to meet and thank God for lots of blessings we received in the last twelve months”, says a statement on the website of the Ordinariate (www.ordinariate.org.uk). The most important of them is “the great welcome which the former Anglicans received from the priests and laymen of Catholic Churches”. A pilgrimage to Rome is also to be dedicated to the theme of thanksgiving for the welcome received in the Catholic Church. The members of the Ordinariate will take part in it from 19 to 25 February; during the pilgrimage, they will be received by the Pope in a general audience on Wednesday, 22 February. The Catholic weekly “Catholic Herald” also dedicates a page to the first anniversary of the Ordinariate recounting the stories of Anglicans becoming Catholics. They are all very positive testimonies, about homecoming. Usually, the members of the ordinariate take part in a Mass celebrated for them in the new parish, but everyone testifies to the enthusiasm and affection with which the parish community welcomed them. On the website of the Ordinariate, Msgr. Keith Newton welcomes also the appointment of Reverend Jeffrey Stevenson enthusiastically, as the first Ordinary of the United States. The appointment marks the official beginning of the second personal ordinariate. Msgr. Keith Newton further announces that at least another twenty pastors and several hundred thousand of their parishioners will enter the Catholic Church in the next few months. The most important of them is “the great welcome which the former Anglicans received from the priests and laymen of Catholic Churches”. A pilgrimage to Rome is also to be dedicated to the theme of thanksgiving for the welcome received in the Catholic Church. The members of the Ordinariate will take part in it from 19 to 25 February; during the pilgrimage, they will be received by the Pope in a general audience on Wednesday, 22 February. The Catholic weekly “Catholic Herald” also dedicates a page to the first anniversary of the Ordinariate recounting the stories of Anglicans becoming Catholics. They are all very positive testimonies, about homecoming. Usually, the members of the ordinariate take part in a Mass celebrated for them in the new parish, but everyone testifies to the enthusiasm and affection with which the parish community welcomed them. On the website of the Ordinariate, Msgr. Keith Newton welcomes also the appointment of Reverend Jeffrey Stevenson enthusiastically, as the first Ordinary of the United States. The appointment marks the official beginning of the second personal ordinariate. Msgr. Keith Newton further announces that at least another twenty pastors and several hundred thousand of their parishioners will enter the Catholic Church in the next few months.

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