Belarusian bishops appeal for blocked archbishop’s safe return

CNA Staff, Sep 2, 2020 / 08:00 pm (CNA).- The Catholic bishops of Belarus are calling for prayers that one of their archbishops, who was blocked from re-entering the country last week, be allowed to return home.

“It is inadmissible that a bishop of the Catholic Church, who is the pastor of the faithful entrusted to him, is deprived of the opportunity to be in his own diocese and to carry in it the ministry entrusted to him by [Pope Francis],” the Belarusian bishops said Sept. 2.

Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz of Minsk-Mohilev was attempting to enter Belarus from Poland when he was stopped by border guards and denied entry “without explanation,” the website of the Catholic Church in Belarus reported Aug. 31.

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Franz Schmidt’s “The Book with Seven Seals” — an Oratorio of the Apocalypse

The Book of Revelation, also known as the Apocalypse, stands as one of the most image-laden parts of Scripture, and as such, there is much for composers to conjure up in the listener’s mind through word painting. St. John paints vivid pictures with his depictions of harps, the seven trumpets, but also with the seven hymns that appear within the text. Even without explicit reference to music and musical instruments, there are numerous events within the Apocalypse that lend themselves musically, such as the voice like thunder, which could be orchestrated in many creative ways. Franz Schmidt, a composer of the late-Romantic period, wrote what is perhaps the first classical work to set the entirety of the Book of Revelation, in his masterful oratorio, “the Book with Seven Seals.”

Franz Schmidt (1874–1939) was born in Pressburg, now called Bratislava, in what was then the Austro-Hungarian Empire. His was a musical household, and his mother gave him his first piano lessons. He later studied the organ and composition, as well as the cello, soon unofficially becoming principle cellist in the Vienna Court Opera and therefore also the Vienna Philharmonic, where he worked under the famous conductor Gustav Mahler (1860–1911). Mahler himself was one of the most important composers of his time, as well as being a bridge figure between the 19th-century Romanticism and 20th-century Modernism in music. As Schmidt worked his way up the ranks of the Viennese musical establishment, he came to teach first at the Conservatory of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde and later at the Vienna Hochschule für Musik, and was granted an honorary doctorate from the University of Vienna in 1934. He was certainly a prominent figure in Austro-German music, being an acquaintance of none other than Arnold Schoenberg (1874–1956), and Dohnányi Ernő (1877-1960), as well as the aforementioned Mahler, who said that Schmidt was, “the most musical man in Vienna.”[i]

While less is known of Schmidt’s faith than other composers, such as Bach or Bruckner, he was nonetheless a Roman Catholic and remained so for his entire life. According to Schmidt’s autobiography, “music had ‘first entered [his] soul through the church.’ There he heard the great organ (‘the grandest and most perfect revelation of music’), which he found so much better than the amateur orchestra used for High Mass.”[ii] He also took some of his first organ and composition lessons with a Franciscan brother, Felicien Josef Moczik (1861–1917), an amateur organist and musician but a trained painter, who greatly influenced the young Schmidt.

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Assisted suicide, euthanasia more than 10 times higher than predicted in Australian state

CNA Staff, Sep 2, 2020 / 07:01 pm (CNA).- While the Australian state of Tasmania is debating a bill that would legalize assisted suicide, the state of Victoria reported more than ten times the anticipated number of deaths from assisted suicide and euthanasia in its first legal year.

Victoria’s Voluntary Assisted Dying Review Board reported 124 deaths by assisted suicide and euthanasia since June 19, 2019, when the legalization of the precedure took effect, The Catholic Weekly reported. There were a total of 231 permits issued for the procedure that year.

According to the review board’s report, 104 of those who died under the Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2017 committed assisted suicide, while 20 people were euthanized by a medical practitioner.

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New Minor Seminary Debuts in Kalimantan, Indonesia

Young people attracted by the Gospel and eager to discover their vocation to the priesthood have a place that will accompany their human and spiritual growth. In the southern Kalimantan Province of Indonesian Borneo, the diocese of Banjarmasin has just opened the new “St. Peter” minor seminary. The idea of equipping the diocese with such an institute came already after the ad limina visit by the Indonesian Bishops in July 2011. As Agenzia Fides reported, after having overcome various organizational and financial difficulties, the Bishop of Banjarmasin Mgr. Petrus Boddeng Timang officially inaugurated the new minor Seminary, temporarily housed in a diocesan pastoral building, which already hosts 7 seminarians.

As reported to Agenzia Fides, the inauguration ceremony, which took place during the feast of St. John Maria Vianney, on 4 August, was broadcast through the web channels in live streaming, given the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to Bishop Petrus Boddeng Timang “the hope is to increase vocations to the priestly life and make up for the shortage of priests”. “We have only 7 diocesan priests”, reports to Fides Father Simon Edy Kabul Teguh Santosa, Dean of the new minor Seminary, in a diocese, that of Banjarmasin, which covers the entire territory of the province of southern Kalimantan and where, out of a population of over 4 million inhabitants, Catholics are 15,400.

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Former Pakistani Prisoner Recalls Conversion Pressure

A man, who spent nearly five years in prison in Pakistan, has described how police tortured him and fellow Christians, threw their rosary beads on the floor, and told them they would escape jail if they converted to Islam.

Speaking to Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), Amjad Arif, a rickshaw driver in Lahore, said the police’s alleged mistreatment took place after he and dozens of other Christians were arrested in connection with the lynching of two Muslims.

Arif, who denies the accusation, said: “At the police station, officers abused, slapped and tortured us with batons, charging us with burning Muslims.

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Polish Episcopal Spokesman Stresses Importance of Social Media

Presence in social media is necessary in the contemporary communication of the Church with the media and the faithful. It is the fastest and most effective way of communicating with a wide audience, said the spokesman of the Episcopate, Fr. Leszek Gęsiak SJ. From September 2 this year. The spokesman of the Episcopate is present in social media – on Twitter and on Facebook.

The spokesman of the Episcopate emphasized that social media is not only an opportunity for the Church to reach those users who are far from the community of the faithful, but also that the Church is not excluded from this fast and direct communication used by millions of people.

“Thanks to my presence in social media, I will be able to participate in a virtual community of believers and contribute to the promotion of Christian values ​​on the Internet. It is a great opportunity to evangelize this digital continent where you can meet many seekers and doubters, ”said the spokesman for the Episcopate.

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