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Marriage preparation ‘should be more rigorous’

POPE BENEDICT XVI has called for a more serious pastoral preparation for couples who want a Catholic wedding, including a more rigorous examination to make sure they understand and can commit to the essentials of a sacramental matrimony – lifelong fidelity and the raising of children, writes Robert Mickens. Addressing the Roman Rota

on Saturday, the Pope lamented that pre-marriage counselling was often seen as a formality. He said if it were taken more seriously it could help stave off the “vicious cycle” of annulment requests claiming that spouses were unaware or incapable of a marriage commitment. The Pope affirmed that “the right to contract matrimony presupposes that one can and intends to really celebrate it in the truth of its essence, just as it is taught by the Church”.


Dutch cardinal testifies in court

THE DUTCH Cardinal Adrianus Simonis has testified at a court hearing about a priest accused of sexually abusing boys since the 1970s, when Simonis was Bishop of Rotterdam and the priest did youth work in his diocese, writes Tom Heneghan. He told a court on Tuesday

that he knew nothing about the accusations at the time, which judicial authorities investigated but did not pursue. Huub Ernst, former Bishop of Breda, also told the court he knew nothing of the priest’s past until the priest was convicted in 1990 of abusing three boys while in that diocese. The court named the priest only as Fr Jan N. The cardinal, 79, was the highest-ranking Dutch prelate to testify in an abuse case.


CDF heads hold summit with bishops and theologians

THE HEADof the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), Cardinal William Levada, and six other Vatican officials have held a week-long summit in India apparently to bring the country’s theologians and bishops into line on doctrinal and disciplinary mat- ters, writes Robert Mickens. The 16-22 January meetings in Bangalore appeared to be aimed at countering the growth of “pluralistic” theology in India, a local theologian who did not

■FOLLOWING strong church protests, India’s Supreme Court in an unprecedented step on 25 January withdrew controversial remarks on conversion it had made in its 21 January verdict on the murder

participate told the Asian Catholic news agency UCAN. The Vatican has long been concerned over the spread of theologies of religious pluralism in Asia, seeing these as threatening the doctrine of Christ as unique saviour of humanity. An official CDF communiqué

on Monday said the “intense work and fruitful dialogue” in Bangalore focused on the “spe- cific role” and “methodology” of Catholic theologians and looked at such issues as liberation the-

of a missionary, writes Anto Akkara. The Australian missionary Graham Stuart Staines, who ran a leprosy home in Orissa from 1965, was set alight by a mob along with his two sons in

ology, inculturation, Jesus as the one saviour and the need to be “always faithful to the teaching authority of the Church”. The communiqué said 28 bishops and 26 theologians from India’s three sui iuris Churches (Latin, Syro- Malabar and Syro-Malankar) took part in the colloquium, as well as Archbishop Luis Ladaria SJ (CDF secretary), four other CDF officials and the apostolic nuncio to India. It did not name the Indian theologians attending.

1999 as they slept in a van. The mob was led by Dara Singh, a Hindu fundamentalist leader whose life imprisonment conviction was upheld by the court. Along with

Christian groups, the

EUROPEAN UNION EU called on to back religious rights

THE COUNCIL of Europe has denounced attacks on religious communities around the world and called on the European Union to take more decisive steps to protect believers, writes Jonathan Luxmoore. “As recent tragic events have shown, individuals of all religious confessions are increasingly vic- tims of discrimination and aggression,” the Committee of Ministers from the 46-country Council said in a declaration. The document was issued after a separate resolution in the European Parliament, calling on the EU to step up protection of Christians “in agreements and co- operation with third countries”,

■FRANCE:The Vatican has rejected a third and final appeal by a French parish priest whose two-year struggle against a planned transfer had rallied traditionalist Catholics in Evreux in Normandy, writes Tom Heneghan. The Supreme Tribunal of the

Apostolic Signatura ruled that Fr Francis Michel, 61, had to follow his

28 | THE TABLET | 29 January 2011

after a Christmas bomb attack on a Coptic church in Egypt left dozens killed and injured. Foreign Ministers from France,

Poland, Italy and Hungary have also demanded action in a letter to the EU’s British High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Baroness Ashton. A programme of meas- ures is to be debated by all EU Foreign Ministers on 31 January. Meanwhile a report by the

evangelical group Open Doors International (ODI) ranks North Korea as the world’s worst per- secutor of Christians for the third year running. Iran, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia followed Pyongyang in the 50-nation list.

bishop’s orders and leave the Thiberville parish he has led since 1986. Fr Michel and his supporters have accused Bishop Christian Nourrichard of deciding to transfer him to another parish because his traditionalist style and Tridentine Masses had become “too popular”. The bishop said the transfer was part of a larger regrouping of rural

In Hungary Zoltan Balogh, a

Protestant pastor currently serv- ing as a minister in the country’s centre-right government, has said helping Europe’s 12 million- strong Roma or Gypsy minority will be a top priority of his coun- try’s European Union presidency, that began on 1 January. ■ After a flood of protests the European Commission is taking “immediate remedial action” to rectify the omission of Christian holidays from the Europa Diary 2010/2011, writes Christa Pongratz-Lippitt. Three million copies of the diary were printed, listing Sikh, Hindu, Muslim, Chinese and Jewish holidays but none of the Christian ones.

parishes and Fr Michel had long overstayed the normal nine-year limit on pastoral assignments. “Following the rejection of the three appeals the pastor made in Rome, I renew my invitation to him to leave Thiberville to exercise his ministry elsewhere,” Bishop Nourrichard wrote in a letter read in all churches in the diocese.

Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India had protested over a comment by India’s highest court insinuating that conversions were at the root of anti-Christian violence in India.

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