Jesuit USA Newsletter

March 09, 2001

In This Issue

Vatican Criticizes Jesuit's Book on Religious Pluralism

The Vatican criticized Jesuit Fr Jacques Dupuis's 1997 book "Toward a Christian Theology of Religious Pluralism" on non-Christian religions as ambiguous and potentially misleading and said its author had agreed to a number of clarifying principles that stress Christ as the only savior of humanity.

In 1998, the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith began investigating the work, and in a written notification February 26, the congregation said it had concluded that, while the author's intentions were good, the book contained ambiguous statements and insufficient explanations, which could lead readers to "erroneous or harmful conclusions" about Christ's role as the one and universal savior.

It then listed five basic doctrinal principles to help Catholic readers "avoid the serious confusion and misunderstanding which could result from reading this book."

The principles stress that Christ's saving mediation is unique, complete, and universal, and can in no way be complemented or replaced by other religions. Nowhere in its notification nor in an accompanying commentary did the Vatican offer specific examples of "ambiguities" in Fr Dupuis' book.

The Vatican said that last fall Fr Dupuis, who is a theologian at Gregorian University, was presented with the congregation's conclusions and signed the text, committing himself to assent to its theses and agreeing to "hold the doctrinal contents" that were presented. It said Fr Dupuis also agreed that the text of the Vatican's statement would be included in any future editions and translations of his book.

However, Fr Dupuis took issue with the Vatican's interpretation of their understanding. He said that when he signed the Vatican's conclusions, he wrote that his signature meant simply that he agreed to "take account of" the basic doctrinal principles noted by the Vatican.

He said he had no problem with the more positive statements of doctrine the congregation had proposed. But he said statements about certain positions being "contrary to" the Catholic faith did not apply to his book, and in any case he did not consider them as doctrinally binding.

Fr Dupuis said it was unclear what, if any, qualifying statement would be published in future editions of his book. He said he was relieved the ordeal was over and he felt free to continue his work in the area of religious pluralism.

In a statement, Fr General Peter-Hans Kolvenbach said the Vatican notification clearly puts forward church teaching "to which the author has tried to adhere even if he has not always succeeded." [Source: CNS. Do not repost electronically]

To read the full statement by Fr Kolvenbach go to


Immigration Raid Outside JRS Center in Zambia

JRS Zambia policy officer, Raul Gonzalez SJ, reports: "Officers of the Immigration Department conducted a raid at the gate of the JRS Peace Center in Lusaka on February 7; four refugees were detained as they left the center. JRS protested to the Zambian authorities and received apologies and guarantees that such an incident will not take place again."

The Peace Center has recently started an e-mail service, which has boosted attendance of refugees at the center. Other refugees go to the center to receive training, to collect information, or to present their protection and advocacy needs. If refugees fear arrest when coming to the Peace Center, there would be little sense in keeping it open."

Increased numbers of refugees from the wars in Angola and Congo have entered Zambia over the past year, leading to tension within the government due to heightened insecurity and political concerns. The immigration authorities have reacted to these concerns by enforcing regulations governing refugees in urban areas. This has meant more immigration round-ups with refugees being placed in detention. [Source: JRS Dispatches]

Fr Simon Harak SJ: Bombing of Iraq "Completely Illegal"

The ongoing US­British bombing of Iraq is "completely illegal" and "is the largest bombing campaign by the United States since Vietnam," says Fr Simon Harak SJ, part of a group of activists on a cross-country bus tour protesting the US bombing and economic embargo against Iraq.

Since the embargo against Iraq was imposed in 1990, he said, "the sanctions, according to UN reports—please don't say, `He says': I say because the UN says—that the sanctions have cost the lives of approximately 500,000 children under the age of 5."

Fr Harak -- who two years ago quit his post as ethics professor at Fairfield University to work full-time against US policy in Iraq with Voices in the Wilderness -- said the bus tour began last fall going up the West Coast to Vancouver, Canada, then traveled across to New York, and is now on a 10-week trek down the East Coast to Florida, across the South to New Orleans, and up along the Mississippi River to the Midwest.

Fr Harak described the bus, which visits schools, churches, and colleges along the way, as a traveling "school without walls" with the mission of raising awareness of the impact of the bombing and embargo against Iraq.

Commenting on recent air strikes in Iraq, he noted that several US officials described the action as part of the "routine" allied enforcement of the no-fly zones across northern and southern Iraq.

"The no-fly zones which we are seeking to enforce are not justified by any UN resolution or any international law," Fr Harak said. "They are a completely illegal violation of sovereign airspace.

"But what I want to stress is that these bombings, as horrible as they are, as contrary to just-war teaching as they are, are not the real atrocity that we're committing against the Iraqi people," he said. "The real atrocity is the atrocity that we're committing against the children and the weak with the sanctions." [Source: CNS. Do not repost electronically]


Jesuit says Pius XII Knew Rome Institutions Sheltered Jews

The Catholic institutions in Rome that hid and saved more than 4,400 Jews from the Nazis would not have taken such a risk without the approval of Pope Pius XII, according to Fr Peter Gumpel SJ, who is working on Pope Pius's cause for beatification.

Fr Gumpel said the stories of Jews sheltered by Catholic priests and religious in Rome have been "unknown or purposefully ignored" in discussions about the pope's actions during the war.

He spoke during the presentation of an Italian language book, "The Jews Saved by Pius XII," written by Antonio Gaspari, which recounts a few of the stories of the 4,447 cases -— documented by Rome's Jewish community -— of Jews saved by Catholic priests and religious.

Fr Gumpel said, "We don't say we were the only ones to help," by hiding Jews in convents, giving them baptismal certificates, even arranging new passports for them, "but you cannot tell me this was happening without the knowledge of Pius XII."

The pope made it clear in letters of support to convents with "guests" and through a network of priests that those seeking refuge should be welcomed, and the Vatican distributed money sent by Jews in North America to Jewish families in Rome and to convents hiding them, the Jesuit said.

"Never had there been such collaboration between North American Jewish organizations and the Vatican," he added. "They sent money for saving and housing the city's Jews, but Pius XII used his own money as well, spending his own patrimony to save lives." [Source: CNS. Do not repost electronically]


Statistics for the year 2000: 21,063 Jesuits

The Secretariat of the Society has compiled the statistics for the year 2000. As of January 1, 2001, there were 21,063 Jesuits: 14,852 priests; 3,964 scholastics; 2,230 Brothers; and 17 indifferent (novices in the process of discernment about joining the Society as scholastics or Brothers). The total represents a decrease of 291 from the previous year. The average age of all Jesuits was 56.96 years: 63.19 for priests, 28.87 for scholastics, and 65.33 for Brothers. [Source: SJ Electronic Information Service, Rome]


Need Some Religious Trivia?

Oldest Cardinal?

Italian Cardinal Corrado Bafile is special. He is the Church's oldest cardinal. On July 4, 2003, God willing, he will celebrate his 100th birthday.

Cardinal Bafile is followed by Austrian Cardinal Franz König, who will be 96 this year, the last cardinal created by John XXIII. Cardinal König continues writing articles and speaking out publicly on topics to which he has dedicated his life: the promotion of Christian unity and the implementation of the Second Vatican Council, in which he took an active part.

Youngest Cardinal?

At the other end of the age scale is Archbishop Vinko Puljic of Sarajevo, Bosnia, a youthful looking 55-year-old who is the youngest cardinal. He is followed by Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna, Austria (who just turned 56), Cardinal Polycarp Pengo of Tanzania (56), and Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani, archbishop of Lima, Peru (57).

Who's Got the Most Cardinals?

Clearly, most of the cardinals are members of the diocesan clergy. However, a number of the cardinals are members of religious orders or congregations. The religious congregation with largest representation among the college of cardinals is the Jesuits (8), followed by the Franciscan Friars Minor (6), and the Salesians (6). There are two Cardinals who belong to the Dominicans, two to the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (Scheut missionaries), and two to the Redemptorists.

Just How Big is the Vatican Army?

We don't know about the army, but Vatican City, as a state in its own right, came into being as a result of the Lateran Pacts of 1929. By 1998 the population of the Vatican was 860. We assume not everyone was in the army!

Management of the Archivum Historicum Societatis Iesu moves to US

The management of the Archivum Historicum Societatis Iesu was transferred to John Carroll University in early January. The Archivum Historicum Societatis Iesu has been a semi-annual publication of the Jesuit Historical Institute since 1932. It remains an important vehicle for the diffusion of Jesuit history throughout the world.

The editor, Fr Thomas McCoog SJ, and the editorial staff will remain in Rome; the publication will continue to be sponsored by the Jesuit Historical Institute. Dr Francesco Cesareo, director of the Institute of Catholic Studies and professor of history at John Carroll, has been named managing editor. [Source: John Carroll University]


Jesuit Mission and Interreligious Dialogue (A Clarification)

Items concerning the Jesuit website for "Mission and Interreligious Dialogue" were published in the SJUSA Newsletter on January 21 and on February 21. The information that was given in these two issues was not entirely clear.

The address of the website was correct. It is

However, if you wish to contribute something to the website or comment on it, you should send articles or reports by e-mail with a suitable attachment to Francis X Clooney, SJ (mailto:[email protected]) the Coordinator for Dialogue for the United States. We apologize for any confusion in this matter.


Remembrance of Things Past


From the Editors

JesuitUSA News is a service of Company Magazine. In addition to the print edition, almost all of the items in Company Magazine can be viewed via the World Wide Web at Any correspondence concerning this mailing list should be sent to the editor at <[email protected]>. The newsletter is available to all Jesuits, to those who work with them, or to those who are simply interested in what they are doing. Tell your friends; the price is right! If you are requesting addition to the list, please include your real name as well as your email address. If you are changing your address, please include YOUR NAME as well as both the NEW and the OLD email addresses.

The editor of this Newsletter is Richard VandeVelde SJ who is ably assisted by Ms Rebecca Troha, Assistant Editor. They would both like to remind you of the following useful WWW links for items of Jesuit interest. Many of these links will lead you to others.



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