June 13, 2000

In This Issue

Russian Court Rules that Jesuits Qualify for Registration

Overturning a ruling of Russia's Ministry of Justice, the country's constitutional court ruled that the Society of Jesus qualifies for registration as a legal religious organization.

The decision came almost exactly one year after the justice ministry denied the Jesuits' application for legal recognition under a 1997 law, citing among other reasons that the Russian region of the Jesuits was not founded by Russian clergy.

Fr Stanislaw Opiela SJ, the former superior of the Jesuits in Russia who was handling the registration, said the constitutional court's decision to grant recognition to the Jesuits did not overturn Russia's 1997 law "but simply offered a positive solution to our problem."

Religious organizations, including parishes, dioceses, and religious orders, have until December 31 to register with the government or face "liquidation." According to the law, registration is required for an organization or order to operate as a legal entity, hire personnel, and open bank accounts. [Source: CNS. Do not repost electronically]

JRS Marks 20th Anniversary

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS). Addressing the JRS regional directors in Santa Marinella, Rome, on May 29, Fr General Peter Hans Kolvenbach SJ spoke about the growth of JRS since its inception, both as a refugee service and as an organization within the Society.

The identity of JRS as a part of the social apostolate was underlined by Fr Kolvenbach. "Twenty years ago, some held that JRS was not about the promotion of justice. Now, no one can say this. Advocacy for refugees' rights is now accepted as an integral element of the JRS mission. There has been growth on both sides."

Fr Kolvenbach urged the directors to respond to refugees' needs in a "specific JRS way": "The main priority of JRS has always been to be with the refugees." Fr Kolvenbach added that JRS should be flexible while maintaining its special feature of working where others do not. [Source: JRS Dispatches]

Violence Against Jesuit Scholastic Closes Indian Camp

A camp near Bangalore, India, where college students worked during the summer to promote education, health care, and housing among members of low castes, was closed when a Jesuit scholastic, Selva Raj, was stabbed by Hindus extremists, who had also attacked a similar camp run by the Monfort Brothers. The camp was under the guidance of Jnanadeep, a Jesuit center for education and social justice. [Source: SJ Electronic Information Service]

Vatican Clears US Catholic Higher Education Norms

The National Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCCB) announced June 7 that the Vatican has approved the US bishops' norms for Catholic colleges and universities. They will take effect May 3, 2001, one year from the date of the Vatican's approval.

The bishops approved the norms at their general meeting last November in a document titled "'Ex Corde Ecclesiae': An Application to the United States." The Latin part of that title, which means "from the heart of the church," comes from the name of Pope John Paul II's 1990 apostolic constitution on Catholic higher education.

The papal document set out a vision of the mission and role of Catholic institutes of higher learning and established general norms applicable to such institutions worldwide. It called on bishops' conferences to develop more specific applications of the papal text to the situation of Catholic colleges and universities in their own countries.

Throughout years of development of the US application, one of the most debated issues was how to apply the general urch law that theology professors need a "mandatum," or mandate to teach, from the ecclesiastical authority, the diocesan bishop.

In a statement sent to bishops, Bishop Joseph A Fiorenza of Galveston-Houston, NCCB president, said the yearlong period before the application takes effect will be used to resolve questions and deal with "practical matters of implementation." [Source: CNS. Do not repost electronically]

Jesuit Becomes Honorary Army Chaplain at 97

Fr Joseph T Durkin SJ, whose request to volunteer as an Army chaplain in World War II was refused by his Jesuit superior, has become an honorary chaplain at age 97.

Fr Durkin received the Army Chief of Chaplains Medallion from Maj Gen Gaylord Gunhus, chief of chaplains for the US Army, at Georgetown University, recognizing Fr Durkin's support for the Army and its soldiers throughout his many years at Georgetown, where he has taught since 1938.

During World War II, after his Jesuit superior turned down his request to serve, Fr Durkin evaluated students at Georgetown to identify those who could meet special needs of the Army. Every Sunday during the Korean War he went to Fort Belvoir, Virginia, to conduct Mass for the troops there as they prepared to leave for Korea. He has also written 25 books, many of them on military history. [Source: CNS. Do not repost electronically]

Purgatory's Pain is Separation from God, says Jesuit Magazine

Most Christians can expect to suffer in purgatory, but the pain will be more from separation than fiery flames, says an article by Fr Giuseppe De Rosa SJ published in La Civilta Cattolica, a Jesuit magazine whose contents are reviewed in advance by the Vatican.

In contrast with centuries of tales describing purgatory as an underworld populated by demons, purgatory is not a place but a state of being, the article said. And despite the recent attention on indulgences during the Holy Year, few Christians can expect to go straight to heaven without a period of purification in purgatory, it said.

Fr De Rosa, said that in theory the plenary indulgences could ensure a direct route to heaven if the person dies, since it offers remission of temporal punishment for sins forgiven in confession.

But this remains a remote possibility because it would require total love of God, which is very difficult for most people, he said. "There always remains something in us that needs purification by God, even with a plenary indulgence," he added.

Purgatory awaits most Christians because it is extremely difficult to go through life without accumulating these "stains and residues" of sins, which remain even after they have been confessed and absolved, the article said. [Source: CNS. Do not repost electronically]

Northern Ireland Church Officials Hail IRA Pledge to Disarm

Church officials in Northern Ireland welcomed the Irish Republican Army's announcement that it is prepared to "completely and verifiably put IRA arms beyond use." For more than a year, a major stumbling block in the peace process has been the decommissioning of weapons.

Unionists, who are mainly Protestant and who support continued British rule in Northern Ireland, have insisted that they will not take part in the new Northern Ireland Assembly for home rule if the IRA does not signal that its decades-old paramilitary war is over.

Fr Brian Lennon SJ, who is involved in promoting inter-community dialogue in Belfast, said the IRA statement issued a step forward on two fronts.

"Firstly, they have become directly involved in the decommissioning process, which they have never done before. The second is that they have taken arms out of the political arena -- this is extremely significant as they have agreed to put the arms verifiably out of reach, something they have never done before.

"While they have agreed before to decommission, it was always in their own time and in their own way. These statements seem to imply that they will start the process in the next few weeks -- something I see as them taking a major step forward in the real world," Fr Lennon said. [Source: CNS. Do not repost electronically]

Jesuit Resources Pages Have Moved

The Jesuit Resources Pages on the Web have moved from their long-time host sites of LeMoyne and Loyola Chicago to the Jesuit Conference Site. The "old" addresses will redirect you to the new ones, but you might want to update your bookmarks or favorites. The "new" address is fairly simple: http://www.jesuit.org/resources/

Remembrance of Things Past


Useful Info from the Editor

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Page maintained by Richard VandeVelde, SJ, [email protected] Copyright(c) 1999, 2000 Company Magazine. Created: 6/13/2000 Updated: 8/13/00