Jesuit USA Newsletter

July 31, 2001

Happy Feast of St. Ignatius Loyola!

In This Issue

Vatican Asks Archbishop to Hold Dialogue on Ignatius Institute

San Francisco Archbishop William J Levada said the Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education has asked him to facilitate a dialogue between the administration of the University of San Francisco and other parties regarding the St Ignatius Institute, whose director and assistant director were dismissed from their positions in January by Fr Stephen A 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.

Fr Joseph D Fessio SJ, a cofounder 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."

Catholic San Francisco, the archdiocesan newspaper, reported that the congregation told Archbishop Levada that as pastor of the local church where the University of San Francisco is located, he would be the most suitable person to work with all those concerned to achieve a fruitful dialogue about the future of the institute.

According to Archbishop Levada, the purpose of the dialogue, expected to take place during the summer, is "to give assurance that the St Ignatius Institute program will continue to provide its excellent education and spiritual benefits" for current and future students at the university. [Source: CNS. Do not repost electronically]


Priest Says Court Testimony not from Sacramental Confession

Fr Joseph Towle SJ, director of St Ignatius School, a middle school for boys, and an assistant at St Athanasius Parish in New York, has come under criticism for his testimony in federal court that could help overturn a murder conviction because that testimony came from a private conversation that ended with absolution.

On July 16 Fr Towle testified on behalf of Jose Morales of the Bronx, who is serving time for a 1987 murder. Fr Towle testified that Jesus Fornes, also of the Bronx, told him in a conversation in 1988 that he, not Morales, committed the crime. Fornes himself was killed in 1997.

Critics have charged that Fr Towle violated the injunction against revealing what is said by a penitent in confession. Fr Towle says the criticisms are "distortions." The information was not revealed within a sacramental confession, and the speaker not only intended it to be made public, but made it public himself, countered Towle, who had consulted archdiocesan officials prior to testifying.

"I spoke to them before the hearing to be assured that my decision to give testimony was in accord with Catholic practice with respect to privileged information," Fr Towle said. He added that he wanted to ascertain "that there was no violation of the seal of confession" and that the information could be made public "precisely because [it] ... was intended from the beginning to be made public."

According to Fr Towle, Fornes asked the priest to come to his home one day in 1988. Morales and Ruben Montalvo, who were from the area, had been convicted of the September 1987 murder of Jose Antonio Rivera and were soon to be sentenced to prison. Fornes told the priest that he had killed Rivera, and that Morales and Montalvo were not guilty and had not even been present when the killing took place, Fr Towle said.

"The purpose of his conversation with me was to set his friends free, not so much to make a personal confession of his own guilt. ... From beginning to end, he intended his disclosure to me to be made public," Fr Towle added. He said that at the end of their conversation he gave Fornes sacramental absolution, although Fornes had not requested it.

"That does not change the nature of our original conversation, nor his intention," Fr Towle said. He said that he advised Fornes to go to court and "exonerate" his friends, "if he had the courage and heart to do it." Shortly after their conversation, Fornes went to court accompanied by his parents and "made a full disclosure of the crime" to Morales' lawyer, "thereby taking his conversation with me out of the internal forum and into public awareness," Fr Towle said. After Fornes' admission the sentencing was postponed, but both men later received a minimum of 15 years.

Fr Towle said that he came forward with the information now because Morales has filed an appeal and asked him for help. He also said that he thought "for a long time" about the implications of testifying and the seal of confession issue.

On July 24, US District Judge Denny Chin released Jose Morales without bail, saying that if Fr Towle had testified in a trial, "it is difficult to imagine that any reasonable jury could find Morales guilty beyond a reasonable doubt." His decision still needs final approval by the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals. Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson said he would fight to reinstate the conviction. [Source: CNS. Do not repost electronically]


Beijing Conference to Review Work of Matteo Ricci

Beijing will host an international symposium reviewing the work of Fr Matteo Ricci, a 16th-century missionary, to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the Jesuit's arrival in Beijing.

The October 14-18 meeting is expected to draw more than 30 scholars from mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, North America, and Europe and will examine the work of missionaries in China during the late Ming (1368-1644) and early Qing (1644-1911) dynasties.

It will discuss how language and literary forms developed and interacted among missionaries, Christian converts, and the Chinese people at large; other topics include commercial and diplomatic relations between China and the West before 1800 and how they affected the China mission.

Fr Ricci, an Italian, first arrived in Macau in 1582 and reached Zhaoqing and Nanjing in southern China in 1583. He moved to Beijing in 1601 and died there in 1610 at 59, having spent 27 years in China.

His adaptation to Chinese culture and profound knowledge of sciences made him a pioneer of intercultural relations between China and the West and the first well-known foreigner in China.

Fr Ricci shared with many Chinese intellectuals his knowledge of cartography, mathematics, astronomy, music, philosophy, and physical sciences as well as his Christian faith. Many of his students and associates were baptized and became the pillars of the early Chinese Catholic Church.

The "Encounters and Dialogues" symposium is jointly organized by the Institute of World Religions of the official Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing and the Ricci Institute for Chinese-Western Cultural History of the University of San Francisco Center for the Pacific Rim. [Source: CNS. Do not repost electronically]


The G8 in Genoa

The summit of the eight most industrialized countries (G8) took place in the Italian city of Genoa on July 20-22. The event attracted a variety of movements critical of the dominant models of development for aggravating the inequalities between countries and among people and for destroying the environment.

Members of religious congregations want to call the summit's attention back to "the little ones," and therefore they came to Genoa, too. Concerned about the debt of the poorest countries, they also raised questions about social justice, respect for the environment, and the rights of exploited children.

Jesuits for Debt Relief and Development (JDRAD), an international network whose mission is to mobilize the Jesuit voice on issues of debt and development, has signed the Interreligious Appeal for Economic Justice for Impoverished Countries, along with around 90 other religious congregations and other organizations.

It appeals for initiatives to create a new economy, including: canceling the entire debt of the impoverished countries, ending programs of structural adjustment, and reaching international commercial agreements that benefit impoverished countries.

For information about JDRAD, see [Source: Headlines]


Stem Cells: A Bioethical Balancing Act

While President Bush struggles with the politics and ethics of stem cell research, our readers might want to know what two expert Catholic ethicists think about the topic. Back in March, America Magazine published two articles on this topic.

"Research on embryonic stem cells presents bioethics with a classic moral dilemma," writes Professor Lisa Sowle Cahill, "is it ever right to cause some evil to achieve a greater good? Does the end justify the means?" In her March 26 article in America, Professor Cahill of Boston College examines N.I.H. rules, the pro-life protest, the status of the embryo, and the dangers of its commercialization by private companies. Finally, she puts the issues in the wider context of social justice. The complete text of the article is available on the Web:

In the same issue of America, Professor Paul Lauritzen of John Carroll University writes about embryo research and the status of the early embryo. He rejects the two extreme views on the status of the embryo -- that the embryo is fully a person with all rights any person has and that the embryo is little more than cellular material, which demands little, if anything, of us morally. "If the embryo is not a person," he writes, "it is certainly a developing form of human life and as such deserves respect. ... Concretely, this means the burden of proof rests on those who wish to conduct such research. It also means that we need to develop criteria by which we will determine if the burden has been met." For the text of the article see: [Source: America Magazine]


Tribunal Could Turn Milosevic into Martyr, Warns Jesuit in Serbia

Former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic could be "turned into a martyr" if tried for genocide by the UN war crimes tribunal, said Fr Lorant Kilbertus SJ, who has headed the Yugoslav republic of Serbia's small Jesuit community since 1991.

"It's in people's mentality here to create as many martyrs as possible.

"When Milosevic appeared before the tribunal, he spoke very clearly, without exaggerated emotions, as someone 100 percent certain of his own rightness. This has inspired people to rally around him again," Fr Kilbertus said.

The priest spoke as preparations continued in The Hague, Netherlands, for Milosevic's trial for inciting the mass murder of Albanians in Kosovo.

In his first appearance July 3 before the tribunal, Milosevic refused to accept a defense lawyer and accused the "illegal tribunal" of seeking "to justify NATO crimes in Yugoslavia."

Fr Kilbertus said "mythological images" were deeply rooted in Yugoslav thinking, adding that many citizens had "great difficulty adjusting mentally and practically" to recent changes.

"Our problems will only be solved when people begin to realize that the state is their business -- not the business of a regime, as under the previous system," he said. [Source: CNS. Do not repost electronically]


Priest says Quiet March Shows both Sides Weary in Northern Ireland

The relative peace of this year's Protestant march to Drumcree Church may be a signal that both sides have grown weary of the violence, said Fr Michael Bingham SJ, who lives in the Catholic neighborhood along Garvaghy Road in Portadown. "Everyone's reaction has been a sigh of relief. People on both sides of the divide are really getting tired of this dispute," he said.

In previous years, the parade, led by the Order of Orange, a Protestant fraternity, has been marked by violent protests involving thousands of people. When Protestant fraternities hold parades through Catholic neighborhoods, Catholics often view them as signs of triumphalism.

For the past three years the British army has blocked entry to Garvaghy Road, a Catholic hamlet. When the parade reached Garvaghy Road this year, the order handed over a formal letter of protest and dispersed.

The Protestant Order of Orange is banned from marching through Catholic neighborhoods until it dialogues with local residents. However, the order refuses to negotiate because the Catholic elected representatives are members of Sinn Fein, the political wing of the outlawed Irish Republican Army.

Fr Bingham said support for the Order of Orange has slipped over the past year. "The order's stance on refusing to talk to either the parades commission or with Catholic residents is being seen, more and more, as obstructive," he said. [Source: CNS. Do not repost electronically]


Vatican Radio Program on Ignatius

Starting on July 17, Vatican Radio is broadcasting, once a week for four continuous weeks, a program dedicated to Saint Ignatius. Fr Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, Superior General of the Society of Jesus, will introduce each program, which will deal with the following topics:

Find Vatican Radio on the web at [Source:]


Le Moyne Digs Thermal Power

Mud bubbled up onto the lawn as a drilling crew began boring a hole 450 feet deep near a residence hall for Jesuit priests on the campus of Le Moyne College. During the next few weeks, the drilling rig will dig two dozen such holes. The Jesuits aren't prospecting for oil or gas, but they are looking to cut their monthly energy bills. They're also trying to do right by the environment.

The holes are the first step toward installing a new energy-efficient heating and air-conditioning system that will extract heat from the earth during winter and discharge heat into the earth in summer. By circulating water underground, enclosed in plastic pipes, the system can pick up from the earth about three-quarters of the energy needed to heat the residence hall. The geothermal heat pump system will serve Loyola Jesuit Residence, a two-story building where some 21 Jesuits live.

Geothermal heat pumps - which are typically more expensive to install but as much as 50 percent cheaper to operate than traditional systems - have been used for two decades. But thanks to rising energy costs and increasing attention to conservation, the technology is enjoying a new surge in popularity, said John Manning, an engineer at Beardsley Design Associates of Auburn.

At Le Moyne, where a malfunctioning boiler at the Jesuit residence had to be replaced, going geothermal may add about $100,000 in extra installation costs, Manning estimates. The total cost of the project has not yet been determined, said Fr Michael Siconolfi SJ, minister of the Jesuit residence. The college will apply to the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) to recover some of the cost attributed to the technology.

Siconolfi said his primary motivation in selecting a geothermal system - which will replace a natural gas boiler and an electric air conditioning system - was "environmental stewardship." The geothermal system will help reduce fuel consumption and associated air emissions. "There's no byproduct because you're not combusting anything," Siconolfi said. "To me, it was good in itself and good from an educational point of view. ... I thought it would be sort of neat to have students be exposed to this sort of technology." [Source: Tim Knauss, � 2001 The Syracuse Newspapers]


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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