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Online Edition - Vol. VII, No. 1 - March 2001

NEWS

Summa time, when the readin' ain't easy | Chant leads to fervent Masses, Pope says | Avoid superficiality in church design | The Cardinal surprises | USCCB Statutes approved | Nun loses job at Jesuit Urban Center

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Summa time, when the readin' ain't easy

The Philosophy Club of Saint Louis University, a Jesuit university in Saint Louis, sponsored a day-long reading of Saint Thomas Aquinas's Summa Theologica on the 13th century theologian's feast day, January 28.

The annual event, known as the Summathon, involved about 200 participants who took turns reading aloud from the Summa. Readers had their choice of reading passages in English, Latin, Spanish, French or German.

Dr. Gregory Beabout, philosophy professor at Saint Louis University, the Summathon's faculty sponsor for the past five years, estimates that it will take about 10 more years to finish the reading.

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Chant leads to fervent Masses, Pope says

"Gregorian chant, classical and contemporary polyphony, popular hymns, especially the Hymn of the Great Jubilee, made possible liturgical celebrations which were fervent and of high quality", Pope John Paul II told the International Congress of Sacred Music held in Rome at the end of January.

"Gregorian chant is an integral part of the liturgy", and "a unique and universal spiritual and cultural patrimony ... at the service of the Word of God", the pope said.

Liturgists, musicians, music teachers, and composers attended the Congress, which was also observed by representatives of the Eastern Orthodox communion, the Lutheran World Federation, and the Jewish community.

At the conclusion of his address, the Pope mentioned that "orientations on the renewal of sacred music today calls for a solid formation of pastors and faithful on the cultural, spiritual, liturgical, and musical levels".

Source: Vatican Information Service

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Avoid superficiality in church design

At a conference on Church art and architecture, Bishop Carlo Chenis, secretary of the Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Goods of the Church, said that "one must never lose sight of the history of cultural goods as the continuity of the history of the Christian community. The ecclesiastical commission must mediate between the cultural changes and the need for liturgical renewal".

The Ninth Study Congress on Liturgical Art, which attracted over 500 organizations, met in Rome November 15. The Congress warned about "multipurpose places of worship" and superficial church design. It encouraged architects not to neglect elements that inspire the faithful to prayer and reflection on the beauty of God.

"Much attention must be paid to proposing architectural designs geared toward worship which are intelligible to the community", remarked Mark Bergamo, a member of the Center for Signum Art in Rome and the Center for Liturgical Action. "At times there is a tendency to create something that is excessive in its expression, which leaves people confused".

Source: ZENIT November 15, 2000

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The Cardinal surprises

Three Americans were included in Pope John Paul II's list of 37 prelates to be elevated to the College of Cardinals: New York's Archbishop Edward Egan; Washington's Archbishop Theodore McCarrick; and Jesuit theologian, Father Avery Dulles. The announcement was made January 21.

The first two appointments were expected. Their Sees have had a cardinal for years. The pope has also honored elderly theologians in the past: French Dominican Yves Congar and Swiss former Jesuit Hans Urs Von Balthasar, for example. Father Dulles is past the age for voting in a papal conclave.

Several on the list of cardinal-designates are Latin American, and several are members of the Vatican curia -- including German theologian Bishop Walter Kaspar, secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity. Bishop Kaspar has publicly criticized Dominus Iesus, a document signed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith and personally approved by the pope.

During his January 28 Angelus message, the pope made a surprise announcement naming seven more prelates to be elevated to the cardinalate on February 21 in Rome. Two were Eastern European archbishops whom the pope said he had named cardinals "in pectore" (in secret) in 1998: Archbishop Marian Jaworski of Lviv of the Latins, Ukraine, and Archbishop Janis Pujats of Riga, Latvia.

Pope John Paul II said he intended "to honor their respective Churches which were harshly tried and which offered the world the example of so many Christians who knew how to witness to their faith among sufferings of every type, often by sacrificing their lives".

He also said he had the other additional cardinals "in pectore", as well, though he did not explain the delay in announcing their names.

The most surprising was Bishop Karl Lehmann , 63, of Mainz, president of the German bishops' conference. Bishop Lehmann, also a theologian and an associate of Bishop Kaspar, made headlines a year ago when he suggested the pope might resign.

A Reuters story last May 31 said that Bishop Lehmann "rocked Rome in January by openly saying the 80-year-old pope had Parkinson's Disease, suggesting he could be the first pope in seven centuries to retire, and said the Vatican was open to change".

"The pope's requests for forgiveness have shown that the Church recognizes its own mistakes", the daily Bild quoted Bishop Lehmann as saying.

Last May the German bishops revealed that their poll of the 27 million Catholics in Germany showed that four-fifths of Germany's Catholics felt Rome needed to update its thinking on moral issues.

German Catholics were at odds with the Vatican over counselling women about abortion, a conflict which became critical in May 1998, when Pope John Paul II begged the German bishops to stop Catholic abortion counselling facilities from issuing certificates required by the German government before a woman has an abortion.

Bishop Lehmann reportedly convinced his brother bishops to comply with the pope's request, but he said that the withdrawal would need to go slowly.

Two years later, however, the certificates were still being issued. Bishop Lehmann told reporters last May that even though the certificates issued by Catholic counselling facilities now contain language opposing abortions, they can still be used to procure them. The government requires the certificate for abortion, he said, and it doesn't really matter what the certificate says.

The Reuters story, referring to Bishop Lehmann as "the liberal bishop", said that "he stressed that the top-down hierarchy spearheaded by Pope John Paul II should not seek only to impose its authority"; and cited a quote from the German newspaper, Bild:

"What power does the church have? What power does the pope have? We only have the power of the word,'' the bishop told Bild. "We can only try and convince people -- we can't and don't want to get anywhere by enforcing power".

In 1997, Bishop Lehmann had sharply criticized the Holy See's Instruction on lay ministry. Peter Steinfels of the New York Times reported that Lehmann emphasized the lack of consultation and said the Instruction encouraged a deplorable "atmosphere of distrust" toward the laity.

Two years ago, German theologian Hans Küng, forbidden since 1979 to teach Catholic theology because of his relentless attacks on the papacy and Church doctrine, announced his pleasure at receiving greetings for his 70th birthday (March 1998) from both Bishop Lehmann and Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican Secretary of State.

In his report on the Lehmann's elevation, Our Sunday Visitor's Russell Shaw, noting the conflict between the German bishops and the Vatican over the abortion certificates, called Lehmann a "bridge-builder", and credited him with persuading the recalcitrant German bishops to comply with the pope's order to stop issuing the certificates in 1998.

John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter sees the appointment of Lehmann as a hopeful sign that "moderate" cardinals (he named Lehmann, Kaspar, Danneels, Etchegaray, Martini and Mahony) will influence the next papal conclave.

The new appointments bring the total number of cardinals to 185, of whom 135 are eligible to vote in a Papal election. Pope Paul VI limited the number of voting cardinals to 120, a figure later re-confirmed by Pope John Paul II.

Various news sources

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USCCB Statutes approved

The Holy See's Congregation for Bishops approved the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Statutes in January, completing the merger of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and the United States Catholic Conference. The conferences presented the statutes to the Vatican in November 2000. As of July 1, 2001, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) will be the only episcopal conference overseeing the United States and the Virgin Islands.

Article I of the new Statutes says."The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is an assembly of the Hierarchy of the United States and the U.S. Virgin Islands who jointly exercise certain pastoral functions on behalf of the Christian faithful of their territory. The purpose of the Conference is to promote the greater good which the Church offers humankind, especially through forms and programs of the apostolate fittingly adapted to circumstances of time and place."

Source: NCCB web site

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Nun loses job at Jesuit Urban Center

A nun who baptized the adopted children of homosexual men, wearing priestly vestments, has been removed from her post at Boston's Jesuit Urban Center.

Sister Jeannette Normandin was involved in "gay ministry" at the Center for more than a decade. Father George Winchester, who allowed the nun to perform the baptism, will no longer serve at the Center.

Frederick Gabriel, Jr., one of the adoptive parents, said, "that baptism may not have followed all the rules of the church, but it was an act of love and acceptance, and as our son was accepted into the church I felt like the church accepted our family, too".

Source: Boston Globe October 31, 2000

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