Vocation Convention Draws More Than 1,000

UCANEWS, May 13 — Approximately 1,000 students attended the first vocation convention offered by the Archiocese of Lahore in Pakistan, the Catholic news service reported.

About 30 religious congregations, representing almost all congregations in the archdiocese, participated in the May 6 vocation exhibition. The local chapter of the Serra Club, a worldwide lay organization that promotes priestly and religious vocations, organized the program.

Club President Nelson Francis said the goal was “to inspire Christian youth for the service of God” as well as “to give them an opportunity to choose their direction for divine work, whether it be as a priest, a nun, a social worker or some other job.”

Father Emmanuel Asi, director of the Theological Institute for Laity, affirmed the need for priests. He pointed out that while the number of Catholic churches in Pakistan has been increasing, the number of priests has remained more or less the same, at 300, since 1971.

“It is a very crucial time for the Catholic Church in Pakistan ... to have more priests,” he said. “[A vocation to the priesthood] does not depend upon one’s abilities but is a grace of God who looks at the inner person.”

Bible Banned in Australian Hospitals

THE SUNDAY MAIL, May 14 — Almost all of Melbourne’s hospitals have removed Bibles from their rooms, saying it was out of concern of offending non-Christians, the Australian newspaper reported.

Hospitals that have removed Bibles include the Royal Melbourne, Royal Children’s, Austin, The Alfred, Monash Medical Center, Box Hill, Maroondah, Dandenong and Casey. Several schools also no longer hand out free Bibles.

Rod Jackson-Smith, spokesman for Royal Melbourne, said the Bible was not banned, but said: “We don’t [have Bibles in each room] any more. Because we have so many people from different religious backgrounds it is considered inappropriate. It is also an infection control measure.”

The Gideons International Australia, which gives free Bibles to hospitals, schools and motels, has blamed it on political correctness. A Church spokesman said the argument that Bibles could offend non-Christians was “silly.” Bishop Christopher Prowse, auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Melbourne, said, “To say that other faiths might be offended if a Bible is there is nonsense.”

Church Reclaims Sacred Words

GLOBE AND MAIL, May 15 — In order to reclaim the sacred from the profane, Montreal’s churches are trying to take back the tabernacle and the chalice, reminding Quebeckers that the common French-language cuss words are still sacred objects to the Church, the Montreal daily reported.

The churches recently launched a publicity campaign to teach the true meaning of words that roll so easily off the tongues of many francophones when they stub a toe or strike a thumb with a hammer. Several Montreal churches were festooned with gigantic black posters with the names of religious objects in blood-red letters and the true definition in smaller white type. “Tabernacle!” shouted one example. “Small cupboard locked by key in the middle of the altar containing the ciborium.” Another explained that ciboire (ciborium, in English) is a container that holds the hosts for Communion. Both words, along with calisse (chalice), sacristie (sacristy) and sacrement (sacrament) have also become curses in popular Quebecois French.

“There are a lot of people in our society who don’t even know what these words mean anymore,” said Jean Boyer, a Montreal priest who was visiting Notre Dame Basilica May 14. “We’re hoping once the shock passes, people will think more about the true meaning of the words. There are many young people who don’t even know that in old times this was blasphemy.”