Jesuit USA Newsletter

April 08, 2001

In This Issue

Jesuit Refused Russian Visa

As reported by the Russian agency Novosti, the vice speaker of the Russian Parliament, Vladimir Zhirinovskij, proposed an investigation of Catholic activities and of the Pope’s visit to Ukraine. The Parliament approved it and entrusted the Committee for Foreign Affairs to ask the Ministry for a report regarding the measures being taken to prevent the expansion of Catholicism in Russia and in other orthodox states. The committee should also sound the Moscow reaction to the Pope’s plan to visit Kiev and explain why Prime Minister Michajl Kasjanov met with John Paul II last February.

Zhirinovskij has asked an official of the Culture and Tourism Committee to find out what steps have been taken to return to Kazan an icon of the Mother of God, presently in the Vatican.

The KNS agency reports that Fr Stanislaw Opiela SJ, for the third time, has been refused a visa to return to Russia. Fr Opiela, born in Poland, is the secretary of the Russian Bishops’ Conference and rector of St Thomas Aquinas College in Moscow. No reasons were given for the refusal.


Pope Marks 450th Anniversary of Gregorian University

Although Rome's Gregorian University is 450 years old, Pope John Paul II urged it to continue to model its activity on Ignatius's vision of an institute marked by fidelity to church teaching and by dialogue with the world. The pope marked the anniversary at a Vatican meeting with more than 1,500 professors, staff members, and students of the Jesuit-run university.

Ignatius saw the university as a place that would "promote reasoned and systematic reflection on the faith in order to favor the correct preaching of the Gospel and the cause of Christian unity in a social context marked by serious divisions," the pope said.

From the beginning, he said, the university was marked by "a special relationship of filial obedience which bound it to the Holy See," and that relationship must continue. As local populations are marked more and more by a diversity of religions and cultures, the pope said, "pastoral attention to the themes of Christian unity, interreligious dialogue, and the study of contemporary atheism" are areas the university must prepare students to address.

"The criterion which orients your research and daily work always should be docility to the Spirit, who sends the church into the world to reconcile it with God and who inspires many men and women of good will, increasing their interest in the truth," he said. [Source: CNS. Do not repost electronically]


Polish Jesuit Honored for Helping Jews

Polish Jesuit Fr Adam Sztark has been named "Righteous Among the Nations" by Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority in Jerusalem. Fr Sztark helped save the lives of Jewish children in Belarus by hiding them in the convent of the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception. His work was detected by the Nazis, and he was caught and executed on December 2, 1942.

Fr Sztark is the first Polish Jesuit to be recognized by Yad Vashem, said Fr Vincent Lapomarda SJ, a history professor at Holy Cross. Fr Lapomarda is also a Holocaust scholar and is coordinator of the Holocaust Collection at the college. He helped gather information to advance the cause of sainthood for Fr Sztark, and his cause for canonization began last spring in Rome. Fr Lapomarda said this recognition of Fr Sztark brings the number of Jesuits honored by Yad Vashem to nine.

"When I was appointed the coordinator of the Holocaust Collection in 1979," Fr Lapomarda said, "I was urged to make the collection different from others by emphasizing the relationship of the Catholic Church to the Holocaust. As a Jesuit priest, I thought that I ought to at least be knowledgeable on what the members of the Society of Jesus did during those horrible days."

Fr Lapomarda said at least 50 Jesuits throughout Europe were involved with resisting Nazi policies on the Jewish people. At least 80 Jesuits were killed by the Nazis, another 25 died in captivity, and 43 died in concentration camps.

Fr Lapomarda became interested in seeking sainthood for these Jesuits two years ago when Pope John Paul II beatified 108 Nazi victims. He checked and found not one Jesuit was on the list.

"Come to find out, the Jesuits had not paid much attention to the initial phases of the beatification process of those martyrs, and consequently they did not place any candidates," he said.

"Since that time, whether as a consequence of my intervention or not, the fact is that the cause of beatification of 15 Jesuit victims of the Nazis was inaugurated within the following year," he said. [Source: By Kathleen A. Shaw, Telegram & Gazette Staff,]


Vatican Won't be Involved in University of San Francisco

Jesuit officials in Rome said there is no indication that the Vatican has been or will be involved in the controversy over the St Ignatius Institute at the University of San Francisco.

Father General Peter-Hans Kolvenbach is satisfied that the university's efforts to reorganize the institute will not alter its "unique character," said Fr Frank Case, an assistant to the superior general.

The institute emphasizes traditional Catholic values and Jesuit teaching methods bringing together philosophy, theology, the arts, and humanities.

In January, the director and assistant director of the institute were dismissed by Fr Stephen Privett SJ, university president. Fr Privett said the dismissals were part of an effort to better coordinate the use of staff and resources from the institute, the university's Catholic studies program, and its theology department.

On the other hand Fr Joseph Fessio SJ, a co-founder of the institute, said the move was the result of a longtime effort by professors outside the institute, particularly Jesuit theology professors, to gain control over the institute, which they saw as "too narrow and too extremist." He said they saw the institute's emphasis on traditional church teaching as "an implicit criticism" of what they were teaching.

Fr Fessio said in late March that he had met with Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, about the situation and that he had appealed to Pope John Paul II to intervene.

Fr Case said that as of March 29, officials at the Jesuit headquarters in Rome had no indication that the Vatican was considering Fr Fessio's request. The Jesuit superior general's position is that the dispute is a matter that must be resolved locally, Fr Case said. "He has encouraged them, however, to protect and maintain the unique character of the institute, which they are trying to do," he said. [Source: CNS. Do not repost electronically]


Law Professor Criticizes Supreme Court Partial-birth Decision

The common good took a back seat to unrestricted individual autonomy in last year's Supreme Court ruling overthrowing a Nebraska law banning partial-birth abortion, said Fr Robert Araujo SJ, law professor at Gonzaga University.

The decision "essentially places the interests of one person over the interests of all," Fr Araujo said at a conference on "Catholic Perspectives on American Law" at the Catholic University of America. The Constitution establishes that liberty is for everyone and must serve the common good, he said.

Fr Araujo was referring to the Supreme Court's 5-4 ruling last June 28 in Stenberg vs Carhart. He said the decision went against the Supreme Court's reasoning at the beginning of the 20th century in Jacobson vs Massachusetts.

In the Jacobson case a man refused an inoculation in violation of a state law granting Massachusetts the power to require mandatory free inoculations to protect public health, said Fr Araujo.

The court ruled for Massachusetts, saying that there are "manifold restrictions to which every person is necessarily subject for the common good," he said.

"Although the rationale of the court in Jacobson has remained intact, the protection it provided to promote and enhance the common good was put aside" in the Stenberg case, he said.

The Jesuit noted that in several instances the majority opinion in Stenberg referred to a "living fetus" as the subject of partial-birth abortion. State legislatures are within their powers in determining what is public policy regarding public health and safety, he said.

"Through the exercise of unrestricted autonomy, individual persons or their physicians would decide who gets to participate in the liberty that the Constitution declares is for all of us and our posterity," he added.

Regarding partial-birth abortion, Fr Araujo said that, "if we cannot be spared the plague of abortion, might we at least be spared the curse of this insidious method that presents a most serious threat to the common good and all the individual goods that the Constitution protects." [Source: CNS. Do not repost electronically]


Ignatian Lay Volunteer Corps Established in Chicago Province

Chicago Provincial Richard Baumann SJ has announced the establishment of the Ignatian Lay Volunteer Corps (ILVC) in the province. ILVC was established in 1995 by Jim Conroy SJ and Charles Costello SJ of the Maryland Province and provides men and women over 50 years of age the opportunity to serve the needs of the poor, to work for a more just society, and to grow deeper in their faith.

ILVC now has over 100 volunteers serving in US cities, including New York, Washington, DC, Philadelphia, and St Paul. [Source: Chicago Province]


Jesuit Magazine says Governments can Regulate Mosque Construction

Because mosques are not simply places of Muslim prayer but also have a political and social function, Western governments have a right to place conditions on their construction, said Fr Khalil Samir SJ in a recent article in the Jesuit magazine La Civilta Cattolica.

"The mosque is not a Muslim 'church' but is a place which has its own functions and norms in Islam," says Fr Samir, an Egyptian who teaches at the Pontifical Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies.

Fr Samir's article focused on the construction of mosques in Italy, where Muslims currently make up about one-third of the immigrant population. Some Italian political and citizens' groups have opposed the construction of new mosques.

"It is not possible nor just to prevent Muslims from having houses of prayer in the West," the article said, nor should authorities give in to opposition based on prejudice, it added.

However, Fr Samir wrote, a more legitimate concern is that building a mosque can be "a political act," making it more difficult for Muslim immigrants to integrate into Italian society.

"All of the decisions of the community are made in the mosque. To want to limit a mosque to being a place of prayer is to do violence to the Muslim tradition," he said.

In Western countries, he said, civil authorities "must discern on a case-by-case basis" whether the construction of new mosques, the programs they will offer, and the members' willingness to collaborate with others will make them places that "help Muslims integrate into their new societies."

If not, he said, authorities should encourage Muslims to establish "musalla," or small chapels, which only host prayer. The musalla are found in cities throughout the Arab world and offer a prayer space for those who, because of work or distance, cannot travel to the mosque for the Friday noon prayers. [Source: CNS. Do not repost electronically]


Jesuit Examines Stem Cell Questions

Fr Kevin Quinn SJ, a law professor at Georgetown University, examined the moral questions surrounding the use of human embryonic stem cells to cure diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's at a bioethics symposium at St Thomas University in Miami.

"The allure of stem cells is undeniable," he said. "They have the potential to grow into any cell of the body." But the practice also opens up "a world of complications."

The National Institutes of Health guidelines regarding experimentation on human embryos acknowledge that an embryo is "a developing form of human life" and therefore "deserving serious moral consideration," he said.

"Obtaining stem cells from human embryos inescapably kills them," Fr Quinn said. "If any research purpose can justify the destruction of a human embryo, in what sense are they being given serious moral consideration?"

Fr Quinn argued that "personhood is a matter of definition rather than biological fact. We still need to capture our intuitive sense that this human embryo is, after all, different."

He suggested that a more proper attitude would be to regard the embryo with reverence and begin experimentation with adult stem cells first.

"The embryo is a life source before it is a research resource," Fr Quinn said. "Reverence does not require embryonic preservation at all costs, but it does raise the bar," he added. "We need to give serious recognition to the fundamental wonders of human life itself." [Source: CNS. Do not repost electronically]


College Students Spend Break Helping Others

This year, while hundreds of thousands of college students flocked to the beaches during their spring break, a growing number of students took part part in service projects.

"The trips have become increasingly popular as a way for the students to experience different cultures and enjoy connecting with and helping others," said Elizabeth Brent, vice president for student development at Rockhurst University.

"Many of them say they feel called to go," she added.

This year some of the service projects Jesuit college students were taking part in included:

[Source: Gonzaga University, University of Detroit Mercy, & CNS. Do not repost electronically]


On the Web You Can Find ...


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.

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