SEVEN WOMEN who claimed to be ordained Catholic priests have been excommunicated because, despite a Vatican warning, they did not give "any indication of amendment or repentance for the most serious offence they had committed".
"They have incurred excommunication," said a Vatican decree published on August 5 by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The decree was signed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, prefect of the congregation, and by Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone, the secretary.
The women, who come from Germany, Austria and the United States, were ordained in late June on a boat on the Danube River. The ceremony was performed by Archbishop Romulo Antonio Braschi, founder of the breakaway Catholic-Apostolic Charismatic Church of Jesus the King. The preface to the Vatican decree said that "as a schismatic" the archbishop has "already incurred excommunication".
The congregation had published an official warning to the women on July 10, giving them 12 days to renounce their so-called ordination and seek the forgiveness of the Church.
One of the women, Gisela Forster, told the US Catholic News Service on July 24 that they would appeal the decision if excommunication was imposed. She also said that, for the time being, the women would not be receiving or offering sacraments.
The Vatican said the seven women were: Christine MayrLumetzberger, Adelinde Theresia Roitinger, Forster, Iris Muller, Ida Raming, Pia Brunner and Angela White.
Indulgence for new devotion
POPE JOHN Paul II has authorised the recognition of a plenary indulgence to Catholics who participate fully in the Divine Mercy devotion on the Sunday after Easter.
"To ensure that the faithful live this celebration with intense piety, the Supreme Pontiff has ordered that the Sunday be enriched with the plenary indulgence," said an Vatican announcement on August 3.
The announcement, and the conditions necessary for receiving the indulgence, were published by the Apostolic Penitentiary, a Vatican court. An indulgence is a remission of the temporal punishment deserved for sins.
The Vatican announcement said Pope John Paul wanted the indulgence to be available on Divine Mercy Sunday "in order to impress deeply on the souls of the faithful the precepts and teachings of Christian faith" regarding God's mercy and forgiveness.
With the indulgence, it said, "the faithful can receive even more fully the gift of the consolation of the Holy Spirit and, in that way, nourish a growing love for God and for their neighbours and, obtaining pardon from God, they are led in turn to quickly forgive their brothers and sisters."
In order to receive the indulgence, Catholics must fulfil the basic requirements of going to confession, receiving the Eucharist and offering prayers for the intentions of the Pope.
The special indulgence is earned when they meet the basic requirements and then, "with a soul totally detached from affection to any sin, even venial, participate in the pious practices undertaken in honour of Divine Mercy, or at least recite in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament ... the Our Father, the Creed and a pious invocation to the merciful Lord Jesus," such as "Merciful Jesus, I trust in you," the announcement said.
EU underwrites abortion agency
A VATICAN official has asked the president of the European Commission not to release a special grant to the UN Population Fund until charges that the fund supports coercive government abortion and sterilisation practices can be investigated.
The European Commission, the European Union's executive branch, announced on July 24 that it would give an extra 32 million euros (£20 million) to the population fund and to the International Planned Parenthood Federation to offset the $34 million (£22 million) the US government announced it was withholding from the fund.
Carlo Casini, a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life and president of a coalition of Italian pro-life movements, wrote to the European Commission president on July 29 asking that the funds be frozen until "appropriate verifications" can be made of the justification used by the administration of President George W. Bush for with
holding the US money.
"It is unimaginable to think that this decision [by the Bush administration] was made to save $34 million, which in the panorama of the US economy is just a drop in the bucket, without a serious examination of the facts," Mr Casini said in his letter to Romano Prodi, commission president.
The US decision referred specifically to the UN Populadon Fund's activities in China, where the government's onechild policy reportedly has been upheld with forced abortion and sterilisation, as well as with heavy fines and employment sanctions.
In the letter, Mr Casini reminded Mr Prodi that the European Parliament had issued a resolution condemning China's coercive population control practices a few years ago. "And even so, a few days after the American decision, the European Commission replaces the contribution. Evidently either it does not believe Bush's motivation or it wanted to make an ideological choice: that of making Europe the motor for the spread of abortion in the world," Casini said. Poul Nielson, European Union commissioner for development and humanitarian aid, said Europe must fill the "decency gap" in the population programmes left by the United States.
"The US decision is regrettable and counterproductive," he said. "The decision to cut funding to the UN Population Fund may well lead to more unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortions and increased dangers for mothers and infants."
Catholic doctors meet in Korea
CATHOLIC doctors from around the world are to meet to foster a sense of unity.
The 21st World Congress of the International Federation of Associations of Catholic Doctors in Health Care Ministry will meet in September in Seoul. Archbishop Javier Lozano Barragan, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers, will address the opening session and read a message from the Pope.