Pope Benedict XVI, insisting that the faithful hold firm to Church teaching, has told Catholic politicians they must support the Vatican's nonnegotiable rejection of abortion and gay marriage.
On Tuesday, Benedict also rebuffed calls to let divorced Catholics who remarry receive Communion.
Putting his conservative stamp on his nearly two-year-old papacy, Benedict in a document also said that the Vatican was keeping its requirement that priests in the Roman Catholic Church be celibate, despite shortages of priests in some parts of the world.
A worldwide meeting of bishops, held at the Vatican in 2005, had endorsed the celibacy requirement, and Benedict, with the document, embraced their call.
The 131-page "exhortation," destined for both clergy and rank-and-file faithful among the world's 1.1 billion Catholics, is part of Benedict's vigorous campaign to ensure bishops, priests and their congregations strictly follow Church teaching.
Before becoming pontiff in April 2005, Benedict, a German theologian, led the Vatican's drive to safeguard Church teaching from doctrinal error.
Laced throughout the document are what sounds like nostalgic calls by Benedict for a kind of comeback for Latin and more "sobriety" during Mass.
Russell Shaw, a conservative Catholic writer in the US, described Tuesday's document as "certainly consistent with the pattern of this pontiff to date, a highly intelligent, highly thoughtful document which says nothing surprising but which reaffirms the traditional positions of the Church."
The question of whether Catholic politicians whose politics conflict with Church teaching should be denied Communion grabbed attention during the 2004 US presidential election campaign, when St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke said he would deny the Eucharist to the Democratic presidential nominee, Senator John Kerry, a Catholic who supported abortion rights.
Benedict wrote that public witness to one's faith was especially required of politicians who decide matters such as abortion, euthanasia, "the family built upon marriage between a man and a woman ... and the promotion of the common good in all its values."
"These values are not negotiable. Consequently Catholic politicians and legislators, conscious of their grave responsibility before society, must feel particularly bound, on the basis of a properly formed conscience, to introduce and support laws inspired by values grounded in human nature," Benedict wrote.
Benedict indicated he was leaving the matter of wayward Catholic politicians to local bishops.
"Bishops are bound to reaffirm constantly these values as part of their responsibility to the flock entrusted to them," the pope said.
Referring to Benedict's leaving the matter to bishops, Lisa Sowle Cahill, a theologian at Boston College, said liberals might be "grateful he's not more aggressively insisting that pastoral flexibility be curtailed."
The plight of divorced Catholics who remarry is a concern for many faithful in the US, where divorce and remarriage is common among the general population.
While Benedict acknowledged "the painful situations" of those remarried Catholics, he also reiterated the Church's stance that they cannot receive Communion because the Church views such faithful as living in sin if they remarry and consummate their new marriages.
The Church "encourages these members of the faithful to commit themselves to living their relationship ... as friends, as brother and sister," Benedict said.
Benedict sounded rueful about some of the changes in the Mass since the liberalizing reforms in the 1960s after the Second Vatican Council, including a switch from Mass in Latin to local languages.
The pope wrote that he agreed with bishops at the 2005 meeting that, on international occasions, parts of the Mass should be celebrated in Latin. Faithful can be taught to recite the more common prayers in Latin, Benedict wrote.
SECRET AGREEMENT: China is paying for construction at Ream Naval Base, where dredging would be needed if larger military ships were to dock there, AMTI said Dredgers have been spotted off Cambodia’s Ream Naval Base, where China is funding construction work and deeper port facilities would be necessary for the docking of larger military ships, a US think tank said on Friday. The US, which has sought to push back against Beijing’s extensive territorial claims and military expansion in the South China Sea, reiterated its “serious concerns” about China’s construction and military presence at Ream. “These developments threaten US and partner interests, regional security and Cambodia’s sovereignty,” a US Department of State spokesperson said. The report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) think tank said the
Two years ago, Qi Jiayao visited his mother’s hometown of Shaoxing in eastern China. When he tried to speak to his cousin’s children in the local dialect, Qi was surprised. “None of them was able to,” said the 38-year-old linguist, who teaches Mandarin in Mexico. The decline in local dialects among the younger generation has become more apparent in recent years as Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) has sought to bolster a uniform Chinese identity. Mandarin is now spoken by more than 80 percent of China’s population, up from 70 percent a decade ago. Last month, China’s State Council promised to
France is to relax some COVID-19 restrictions from early next month in a bet that an outbreak of the Omicron variant of SARS-COV-2 would recede thanks to faster inoculations and plans to shut the unvaccinated out of most social activities. The French government is to lift the obligation to work from home at least three days a week from Feb. 2, French Prime Minister Jean Castex said on Thursday. It would also remove a requirement to wear a mask outdoors, and scrap attendance limits for sports arenas and cultural venues, Castex said. Infections with the Delta variant are “clearly receding,” while the
DEMOGRAPHIC CRISIS: Beijing is attempting to address its population decline, including considering raising the retirement age and allowing more than two children China’s birthrate has fallen to its lowest level in six decades, barely outnumbering deaths last year despite major government efforts to increase population growth and stave off a demographic crisis. Across China, 10.62 million babies were born last year, a rate of 7.52 per thousand people, the Chinese National Bureau of Statistics said yesterday. In the same period 10.14 million deaths were recorded, a mortality rate of 7.18 per thousand, producing a population growth rate of just 0.34 per 1,000 people. The growth rate is the lowest since 1960, and adds to the findings of May last year’s once-per-decade census, which found