In brief

Source: FSSPX News


Papal trips in 2003.
Pope John-Paul II will undertake a trip to Slovakia the 13-14 September, according to the spokesman of the Slovakian bishops conference, Marian Gavenda. This will be his third official visit to this country.

The list of papal trips outside Italy for 2003 grows longer. John-Paul II visited Spain 3-4 May, and will visit Croatia from June 5-9, which will include stops at Rijeka, Dubrovnik, Osijek, Djakovo and Zadar, then Banja Luka in Bosnia from 21-22 June. Finally, at the end of August, he will travel to Mongolia.

The College of Cardinals.
Cardinal Aurelio Sabattani died April 19, 2003 at the age of 90. The College of Cardinals now includes only 168, of which 56 are above 80 and thus may not vote in the next conclave.

Rome: One year after being expelled from Russia, Bishop Mazur heads up a Polish diocese.
Pope John-Paul II nominated Bishop Jerzy Mazur to head the Polish diocese of Elk on April 17. He was previously bishop of the diocese of St. Joseph in Irkutsk, in the Russian Federation. Bishop Mazur was, however, expelled by the Russian authorities on April 16, 2002, one year ago. To succeed him in Irkutsk and to calm relations with the Russian Orthodox Church, which accused Catholics of “proselytism” in their territory, John-Paul II nominated Bishop Cyryl Klimovicz to head the diocese of St. Joseph.

With the same goal in view, the pope wants to return the icon of the Virgin of Kazan to the Moscow Patriarchate, according to Vatican press secretary Joaquin Navarro-Valls. Kazan is the capital of the autonomous Russian republic of Tartarstan, in the Russian Federation, about 800 km East of Moscow. The icon of the Virgin Mary which bears the name of this capital is considered by the Orthodox faithful as miraculous and “the protectress of Russia”. It appeared in Kazan originally in 1579. It disappeared in 1918, when the Bolsheviks came to power. For years it passed from hand to hand in secret. Then, in 1993, it was confided to pope John-Paul II, who kept it in his private apartments, with the intention of returning it.

Germany. No more priests soon.

The lack of priests in Germany continues and vocations have stabilized at a very low level. Last year, 131 men were ordained priests, as compared with 124 in 2001, which is largely inadequate to compensate for the aging of the clergy.

The director of the center for the promotion of vocations of the German episcopal conference, Rainer Birkenmaier, emphasized the slump of the last 15 years has now bottomed out.

In 1989, there were still 297 priestly ordinations. At the time the German dioceses still had a total of 2,667 candidates for the priesthood in formation, as compared with 1,035 last year.

Palestine, a true prison

Palestine has been transformed into a gigantic prison, according to Latin-rite patriarch Michel Sabbah in his Easter message presented on Tuesday, April 15 to the Jerusalem press. In his call to the joy of Easter, the feast of the resurrection of Christ, Msgr. Sabbah invited the faithful of the Holy Land “to live in spite of the death that surrounds us”.

Australia: Important drop in the number of Catholic priests

Catholic priests in Australia are less and less numerous. Their number has seen a drop of 18.2% in the last five years, according to the latest issue of the newsletter “Pointers”, published by the Christian Research Association or CRA.