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FRI-SAT-SUN      February 19-21, 1999      SECTION THREE       vol 10, no. 35

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Daily Dose of curious contents of the Church

Roman Curia

    We hear the name "Roman Curia" bandied about a lot. But what does it mean? The word curia means "court" in Latin. The roman Curia, as the Catholic Almanac points out, is "the Church's network of central administrative agencies also called dicastries which serve the Vatican and local churches, with authority granted by the Pope." The original office of the Curia was the Apostolic Chancery which was set up in the 4th century in order to transmit documents. Special commissions of Cardinals and Bishops were gradually established into divisions during the second half of the 15th Century as an offshoot of the Council of Trent and the counter-reform measures. Pope Saint Pius X revamped the governing process in 1908. It wasn't until 1967 that Pope Paul VI, after a four year intensive study of each commission, reorganized the entire Curia, publishing a special Apostolic Constitution Regimini Ecclesiae Universae on August 18, 1967. All of his decrees went into effect March 1968. Twenty years later John Paul II further modified the Curia with his Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus on June 28, 1988 that was implemented on March 1, 1989. Though there have been revisions of some offices since, the current Curia compose the Office of the Secretariat of State, nine governing agencies called Congregations, three judicial agencies called Tribunals, eleven promotional agencies termed Pontifical Councils, three Offices and five Curia Agencies which deal with matters within the Vatican, and twenty Commissions and Committees, many of which are attached to certain Curial agencies. All Curial positions are appointed by the Pope and they are subject to the Roman Pontiff and Canon Law 360 and 361. Basically the Curia is the Vatican's answer to Congress, except they perform much more efficiently!
(sources: 1999 Catholic Almanac, Our Sunday Visitor; My Catholic Faith, Mission House; Catholic Encyclopedia, Thomas Nelson Publishers)


with a Catholic slant

provided by Catholic World News Service and Noticias Eclesiales Church News



      VATICAN CITY, 18 (NE) The Holy Father stated yesterday that Lent "is a time when God shows a particular fondness in forgiving our sins: it is the time of reconciliation." In his Wednesday General Audience in the Pope Paul VI Hall, the Pope recalled that the "austere ceremony of the imposition of ashes" is the beginning of the "penitential itinerary of Lent."

      The Pope's words invited the faithful to meditate on that Parable of the Prodigal Son that "describes in a simple and profound way the reality of conversion manifesting the most concrete expression of the merciful intervention of God in the human world." The Pontiff, that in so many occasions has commented this passage of the Gospel, referred in particular to the paternal embrace, pointing out that this symbolizes perfectly "the topic of this introductory year to the Great Jubilee of the year 2000."

      Reflecting on the passage more in depth, he also manifested that "the embrace of reconciliation between the Father and the whole of the sinful humanity occurred in the Calvary." Upon concluding, the Successor of Peter invited the faithful to pilgrim in this time of Lent "with our eyes fixed on Christ, our only Redeemer," reminding also that "our reconciliation with God is made effective thanks to an authentic conversion."


      GUATEMALA CITY ( - A Guatemalan judge on Wednesday ordered the release of Father Mario Orantes Najera, determining that there is insufficient evidence to implicate him in the murder of Auxiliary Bishop Juan Gerardi Conedera.

      Father Orantes was arrested in July 1998, after police investigators charged that he was involved in the death of Bishop Gerardi in April of that year. Father Orantes, who lived in the same rectory with the slain bishop, was accused of having ordered his dog to attack the bishop. But the investigators never produced any evidence to back that charge.

      Catholic Church officials had consistently said that they believed Father Orantes is innocent of the charges, and appealed for his immediate release. Church officials have also criticized investigators for failing to pursue other leads in the death of Bishop Gerardi -- who was killed just after having released a report which sharply criticized the country's military leaders for their involvement in human-rights offenses during Guatemala's civil war.

      The release of Father Orantes leaves investigators with no suspects in the Gerardi slaying. Two other suspects, arrested prior to the detention of Father Orantes, were also released because of lack of evidence to tie them to the case.


      VATICAN ( -- At a conference in Rome on plans for the Jubilee Year in Bethlehem, Cardinal Roger Etchegaray has expressed the hope that the Palestinian people "will enter the year 2000 with all the resources they need to assure their full flowering."

      This week's conference on Bethlehem was organized by the "Committee for the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People," a group which seeks the full enactment of resolutions adopted by the United Nations in December 1998 in support of the Palestinian cause. The particular goal of the conference is to "mobilize as much international support as possible" for the "Bethlehem 2000" project, which in turn is being designed as a showpiece for Palestinian autonomy.

      Cardinal Etchegaray, who heads the Vatican effort to coordinate plans for the Jubilee celebration, said that his own participation in the conference was meant as a "gesture of encouragement" for the group's plans. He said that the Catholic Church would enthusiastically participate in the "Bethlehem 2000" plans.

      The cardinal added the hope that the many Christian pilgrims who are expected to flock to the Holy Land during the Jubilee year will find it "a land of welcome and of peace." Any lasting peace, he said, would necessarily be founded on "respect for the dignity of all men, without discrimination and without any impediment to free participation by everyone in professional and social life."


      VATICAN CITY, 18 (NE) From the 21st to the 27th of February the annual Lenten retreat of the Roman Curia will take place in the Vatican, in the presence of the Holy Father. It will begin the first Lenten Sunday, and will consist of two daily sessions, which include meditation, the rosary, adoration and benediction. They will be held at the Clementine Hall in the Vatican.

      As the Vatican Information Service (VIS) explained, Papal spiritual exercises began with Pope Pius XI in 1929. In his encyclical Mens nostra he declared his intention of initiating annual retreats with the members of the Roman Curia.

      This year Bishop André-Mutien Léonard of Namur (Belgium) will preach the spiritual exercises. In 1976 John Paul II himself, at that time Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, preached the spiritual exercises of the Roman Curia for Pope Paul VI.

For more headlines and articles, we suggest you go to the Catholic World News site at the CWN home page and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales. Both CWN and NE are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provides this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.


     As we continue to feature Catholic megasites, we offer this weekend one which provides the entire Catholic encyclopedia, beaucoup Church documents, St. Thomas Aquinas' Summa Theologica and many more features. This excellent resource site called NEW ADVENT CATHOLIC SUPERSITE is the brainchild of Kevin Knight who hails from Denver, home of the traditional and loyal Archbishop Charles Chaput, OFM Cap. This site is a past recipient of our Golden Chalice Award.

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February 19-21, 1999 volume 10, no. 35   DAILY CATHOLIC