Cardinal Arinze's 'hard truths' spark US protests
Defence of Church teachings at Catholic university considered "un-Christian"
It was something of a reflection on the state of many so-called Catholic universities in the US that Cardinal Francis Arinze's frank words at Jesuit-run Georgetown University (Washington DC) regarding the Church's moral teachings - made during a commencement speech in May - should spark student and faculty protests.
A letter complaining about the Cardinal's speech was signed by about 70 faculty members and delivered to Dr Jane McAuliffe, dean of the university's school of arts and sciences.
Dr McAuliffe, a specialist in Islamic studies, had invited Cardinal Arinze - president of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue - to speak on Christian-Muslim relations at the school's graduation ceremonies.
Instead, the Nigerian prelate told the graduates that happiness was found not in the pursuit of material wealth or pleasures of the flesh, but by fervently adhering to religious beliefs.
He then spoke of the importance of family to the Roman Catholic Church: "In many parts of the world, the family is under siege. It is opposed by an anti-life mentality as is seen in contraception, abortion, infanticide and euthanasia. It is scorned and banalised by pornography, desecrated by fornication and adultery, mocked by homosexuality, sabotaged by irregular unions and cut in two by divorce."
Theresa Sanders, a professor of theology at the university, protested by leaving the stage where Cardinal Arinze was speaking. Other students upset with the comments also left, according to emails on a subscription list used by many of the university's gay and lesbian students.
Ed Ingebretsen, a professor of English at Georgetown, said that Cardinal Arinze's remarks were in line with Catholic doctrine, but nonetheless seemed out of place at the commencement ceremony.
"These things are exactly what he's paid to say," Professor lngebretsen said. "[But] it's a graduation; why he decided to do the pro-family thing no one seems to know."
Professor Ingebretsen said he was compelled, as a writer, to post a short apology on the email subscription list "on behalf of Catholics" for Cardinal Arinze's "insensitive remarks", which he termed "un-Christian".
'The Irish Catholic'
Vatican project on science and religion
How the two can benefit each other
Cardinal Paul Poupard, the President of the Pontifical Council for Culture, announced the inauguration of a new project to explore the ties between religious faith and scientific knowledge.
The Cardinal described the project, titled "Science, Theology, and the Ontological Quest (STOQ)," as a "fundamental step in the history of relations between the Church and scientific researchers." It will involve the participation of scientists and scholars from around the world, under the joint sponsorship of three pontifical universities: the Lateran, Gregorian, and Regina Apostolorum. The STOQ project also will involve collaboration with universities abroad, including the Harvard Divinity School and Princeton University.
Cardinal Poupard, in presenting the new project to the press in Rome at a 6 May briefing, said that science and religion can help each other: "Science can purify religion of error and superstition," while, in the search for truth, "the Church has nothing to fear from science."
At the same time, he noted, "religion can purify science of the idolatry of the scientific approach". He suggested that the hostility many scientists have felt toward religious faith in recent generations should now be a thing of the past.
Catholic World News
No peace without respect for life
John Paul II addresses Italian Movement for Life
On 22 May, Pope John Paul II received members of the Italian Movement for Life which, he said, for 25 years "since 22 May 1978, when abortion was made legal in Italy, has never ceased to work in the defence of human life, one of the central values of the civilisation of love."
He continued: "May God help you to work incessantly, so that all people, believers and non-believers, understand that the protection of human life, starting at conception, is a necessary condition to build a future worthy of man."
After recalling the words of the Venerable Mother Teresa of Calcutta, "Abortion is a practice that endangers peace in the world", the Pope emphasised that "there can be no authentic peace without respect for life, especially for the innocent and defenceless, as are unborn children. Basic coherence requires that those who seek peace defend life. No action for peace can be effective if attacks on life at every stage are not opposed with the same effort."
He recalled that the Movement for Life is presently working so that Italian Parliament approves a law that respects the rights of unborn children "even if they are conceived with artificial methods which are not morally acceptable." In this sense, he hoped that "the legislative process in course concludes quickly and takes into account the principle that, between the desires of adults and the rights of children, all decisions must benefit the interests of the latter."
Vatican Information Service
US bishop boycotts Jesuit university graduation
Objects to pro-abortion guest speaker
Bishop Daniel Reilly of Worcester, Massachusetts, pulled out of a scheduled appearance at graduation ceremonies for Holy Cross College, because the Jesuit-run school was to honour a proponent of legal abortion.
Bishop Reilly announced on 21 May that he would not attend the commencement exercises at Holy Cross on 23 May. The main speaker at that event was to be Chris Matthews, a political commentator who supports abortion.
The Bishop explained his withdrawal in a public statement: "I cannot let my presence imply support for anything less than the protection of all life at all its stages." He added that he would absent himself from the ceremonies at Holy Cross - the largest Catholic university in his diocese - "with a heavy heart."
He said he had made his decision to withdraw after Holy Cross alumni had mounted an energetic protest campaign against the selection of Matthews as commencement speaker.
Fr Michael McFarland SJ, the President of Holy Cross, defended the choice, claiming that Matthews' support for legal abortion was "arguable within Catholic thought." And in reaction to the announcement Bishop Reilly was to boycott the commencement ceremonies, a spokesman for Holy Cross said, "We are proud of our alumnus Chris Matthews."
Catholic World News
Pope meets Indian bishops
Identifies obstacles to evangelisation
On 23 May, Pope John Paul II received Indian bishops who just completed their ad limina visit.
In his speech, he recalled that "for centuries Catholics in India have been carrying on the essential work of evangelisation, especially in the fields of education and social services, freely offered to Christians and non-Christians alike ... It is most disconcerting that some who wish to become Christians are required to receive the permission of local authorities, while others have lost their right to social assistance and family support. Still others have been ostracised or driven out of their villages.
"Unfortunately, certain fundamentalist movements are creating confusion among some Catholics and even directly challenging any attempt at evangelisation. It is my hope that as leaders in the faith you will not be discouraged by these injustices but rather continue to engage society in such a way that these alarming trends can be reversed."
After noting that "obstacles to conversion are not always external but may occur within your own communities," he said that "this can happen when those of other religions see disagreement, scandal and disunity within our Catholic institutions. For this reason it is important that priests, religious and lay people should all work together and especially co-operate with their bishop, who is the sign and source of unity."
The Pope affirmed that "fundamental to sustained efforts of evangelisation is the development of a local Church which is itself poised to become missionary. ... The commitment to follow Christ as a priest requires the best training possible." He then praised the bishops' initiatives to ensure that their institutes of priestly formation "reach the high standards of education and training necessary for today's clergy."
Vatican Information Service
Major role of priests as catechists
Pope stresses importance of 'Catechism of Catholic Church' for parish RE
Pope John Paul II reminded European priests that every pastor is "the first catechist of his community."
He made his remarks during an audience on 8 May with participants in a conference on priests' duties in religious education. The conference was sponsored by the European Council of Episcopal Conferences.
Every priest, he stressed, has "a mandate to preach and to teach" from his diocesan bishop, and should be attuned to his people's needs for "spiritual, cultural, and doctrinal formation", using the Catechism of the Catholic Church as the primary reference for parish religious education work.
The Pope concluded: "The Christian faith represents the richest patrimony that the European people can draw upon." He asked priests to be mindful of opportunities for religious instruction in families, work-places and public affairs, as well as parish programs. By integrating the teaching of the Gospel into everyday life, pastors could make an enormous contribution to the "new evangelisation" that is required for Europe in the 21st century.
Catholic World News
Belloc's 50th anniversary to be celebrated
Seminar scheduled at Campion College Australia
A seminar to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Hilaire Belloc's death is to be held at Campion College Australia (119 Rausch Street, Old Toongabbie, NSW) on 2 August 2003.
Belloc was one of the most famous and influential Catholic writers of the 20th century. Australian author and publisher Frank Sheed said that, "more than any other man, Belloc made the English-speaking Catholic world in which all of us live."
The planned speakers and topics will include Fr Paul Stenhouse, "Belloc and Islam", Br Christian Moe, "Belloc and the Faith", John Gilfedder, "The Literary Legacy of Belloc", and Karl Schmude, "Belloc and the Liberal Arts."
There will also be a special panel session on "My Favourite Belloc Book" and a recital of Belloc's poetry, including a recording of Belloc reciting some of his famous poems.
Inquiries should be directed to Stephen Hitchings, 62 Coronation Pde, Enfield, NSW 2136, (02) 9703 5335, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Academic symposium on Petrine ministry
A response to papal encyclical 'Ut Unum Sint'
An academic symposium on the Petrine Ministry, organised by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, took place in Rome from 21-24 May.
According to a communique released before the symposium, this initiative was a response to what the Pope had written in the encyclical Ut Unum Sint about the need to "find a way of exercising the primacy which, while in no way renouncing what is essential to its mission, is nonetheless open to a new situation" and to "seek ... the forms in which this ministry may accomplish a service of love recognised by all concerned."
In the years following publication of this encyclical different studies and contributions have been sent to the Pontifical Council by other Churches and ecclesiastical communities.
Participants included eight speakers (four Catholics and four Orthodox), seven Catholic specialists and eleven delegates representing the Orthodox Churches. The topics discussed included: the biblical foundation of the primate; the primate of the Fathers; the role of the Bishop of Rome in ecumenical councils; recent debates on the primate in relationship to Vatican Council II; recent debates on the primate among Orthodox theologians.
Vatican Information Service