DAILY CATHOLIC     TUESDAY     December 15, 1998     vol. 9, no. 242

from a CATHOLIC perspective

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          VATICAN (CWNews.com) -- On Saturday, December 12, the special Synod of Bishops for Oceania formally ended its meeting with a solemn Mass at St. Peter's Basilica.

          In his homily at that Mass, Pope John Paul II thanked the 117 bishops from the Pacific region for the work they had accomplished in meetings which began November 22 and ended last Friday. He praised them for the "common witness" they had made during their meetings, and encouraged them to continue the struggle against forces which would reduce religion "to an individual experience which should have no influence of the life of society."

          The closing liturgy, like the one with which the Synod opened, was marked by the rhythmic chants of Pacific Island cultures, and the offertory procession was complemented by a Samoan dance.

          The Australian bishops, together with leaders of the Roman Curia, issued a 20-page document outlining difficulties in the Australian Church, and detailing the measures which should be taken to correct them.

          The new document reflects the work of a special meeting, which held at the request of Pope John Paul II just prior to the November meeting of the special Synod of Bishops for Oceania. The Australian bishops have also been making their ad limina visits to the Holy See during recent weeks.

          The document indicates that the Catholic faith is in crisis in Australia today, because of the development of an extreme individualism, a rejection of all authority, a decline in the sense of recognition of sin, and a general belief that every individual should form his own conscience by himself. The Australian bishops admit that the faithful are not well informed about Church teachings, and that confusion has arisen particularly around such issues as the role of women and the acceptance of homosexuality.

          In the face of these difficulties, the Australian bishops and Curial officials agree that they must be more united in their emphasis on the essential duties of bishops: to teach, sanctify, and govern, in collaboration with the priests of their dioceses. The document stresses the need for proper spiritual formation of priests, and underlines the distinction between the roles of lay people and ordained clergy. The document also insists on respect for Church liturgical norms and for the text of approved liturgical translations.

          Receiving a group of Australian bishops in a Vatican audience on Monday, Pope John Paul II alluded to the "complex situation" of the Church in that country, and cautioned against concessions to secular pressure which would "force the Church into changes which she has not right to make."

Articles provided through Catholic World News Service.
CWN is not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provides this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

December 15, 1998       volume 9, no. 242


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