AUGUST 14, 2011, Vol 61, No 16

This is the second of two articles on homosexuality, we focus today on the core ethical question which ought to govern the debate on homosexuality: the dignity of the human person and his or her body.  This ongoing series on Values is by the Catholic Medical Guild and  Caritas Singapore.

Everyone has an opinion on homosexuality. On one side, homosexuality is considered unnatural and un-reproductive, and that makes it wrong. On another, it is a natural expression of love, with genuine intention between consenting adults, which brings no harm to anyone, and that makes it right.

The present state of the discussion seems to have exhausted all arguments and the final verdict seems to be one that is waiting for science to settle definitively if homosexuals are really “born that way”.

The current stalemate is a result of seeking answers to the wrong questions about homosexuality.

VATICAN CITY – Pope Benedict XVI has put his own stamp on the Church’s celebration of World Youth Day (WYD), and it’s especially clear in the gathering’s moments of prayer.

In Cologne, Germany, six years ago – his first WYD as pope – he surprised the youths at the Saturday night vigil by urging them to quieten down.

The Cologne event was where he started a major new WYD tradition: Instead of ending the vigil with a boisterous musical finale, he ended it with Eucharistic adoration – with tens of thousands of young people kneeling silently in a field. The scene was repeated in Australia in 2008.

During WYD 2011, scheduled for Aug 16-21 in Madrid, Eucharistic adoration again will cap the pope’s participation at the vigil. Adoration and prayer also will continue throughout the night on the edges of the military airport where many of the young people are expected to camp overnight.

In fact, organisers are planning to have 17 tents set up as chapels for all-night adoration.

The visual focal point when the pope leads the adoration and Benediction will be a monstrance set into a towering 16th-century gothic structure of silver and gold usually housed in the Toledo cathedral.

Pope Benedict XVI greets Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak during a meeting at the pope’s summer residence in Castel Gandolfo, Italy, on July 18. Archbishop Pakiam was part of Mr Najib’s interreligious delegation. CNS photo

Archbishop Murphy Pakiam of Kuala Lumpur speaks about the Malaysian prime minister’s visit to the Vatican in this interview

When did you first get to know that Malaysia would establish diplomatic relations with the Holy See?

They have been working at this for many years now. The apostolic delegate had discussed it over many years. This is the fruit of many, many efforts coming together. But the decision to establish relations came rapidly in the end. I knew just a few days before coming here. I was pleasantly surprised.

Who invited you to come to the audience with the pope as part of the Malaysian delegation?
Here’s a brief summary of my faith journey thus far: By the age of four, I could recite the Our Father. At six years old, I could rattle off the Litany by heart. Attending Novena devotions on Saturdays were a weekly routine. If there’s one thing I remember about my childhood, it’s the regular stream of Fatima statues in and out of my home every other month. If religion were an examinable subject in school, I would have done my parents proud.

Yet like most kids, I dreaded Rosary recitations and family prayer time. Like most kids, I’d rather be watching my favourite cartoons or playing with my dolls. I never saw the need for such regular and frequent prayer, nor anticipated the effects it would have on my life.

Every family prayer time is special and eventful because God is present in our midst. Jesus said, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matt18:20) By spending time together before the altar, sharing God’s word, reflecting upon the day’s events, and examining our conscience, we inevitably form a spiritual support structure that solidifies by itself over time.
Acquiring more and more possessions do not always lead to fulfilment, says Fr Herbert Weber

I WAS invited to visit a couple whom I will call Terry and Nancy. As I drove up their driveway, I saw two boats on trailers, ready to be taken to water.

Terry came out to tell me how happy he was with the larger boat, his newest acquisition, which he was going to christen the next day.

Once inside the house, the couple gave me a tour. Terry showed me the living room and activities area. There was a custom-built entertainment centre that rivalled any I had seen. In another room he let me look at the latest in digital and wireless technologies.

As Terry demonstrated all of these items, Nancy looked on, remaining somewhat quiet. When she excused herself to go to the kitchen, Terry turned to me and said, “But, Father, I’m not happy.”

It was one of the saddest statements I have ever heard, especially poignant in that he had just shown me all his exciting possessions. The sadness was magnified when he added that his purchases were actually beyond his means.