May 7, 2003
During a March conference, "Governance, Accountability and the Future of the Church," hosted by Yale University's Catholic center, Fr Gerald Fogarty SJ, professor of religious studies and history at the University of Virginia, said one view of the current crisis is that it "is due to the centralization that the Vatican imposed on the United States over the last century."
During that time, he said, a "collegial/horizontal model of bishops working together" was replaced by "a system in which each bishop depends on appointment by and accountability only to the pope."
He suggested drawing from the 19th-century tradition of provincial and plenary church councils in the United States, saying that "a return to provincial councils" as a regular feature of US church life could promote the communication and accountability needed to restore the bishops' credibility.
The selection of bishops was also among issues addressed at the conference by Fr Thomas Reese SJ, editor of America magazine.
"The appointment of bishops by the pope is a modern innovation that has no basis in church tradition," he said.
He asked if it would be possible to "return to the ancient custom for the selection of bishops that was articulated by [fifth-century Pope] Leo I, who said that no one could be a bishop unless he was elected by the clergy, accepted by the people, and consecrated by the bishops of his region.
"This was a check-and-balance system that would have been admired by the authors of the 'Federalist Papers,'" Fr Reese commented. [Source: CNS. Do not repost electronically]
A new undergraduate theater program at USF concentrates not on the works of Shakespeare or Moliere, but on social issues facing the country. It is believed to be the first university program of its kind in the United States.
Students in the Performing Arts and Social Justice major at the university present plays that address serious contemporary issues ranging from the Palestinian-Israeli conflict to homelessness and domestic abuse.
Before a production is mounted, students must research the historical and political context of a particular issue. After two years, students are admitted into The Company, a theater troupe in which students write, produce, and direct an original show that engages a pressing social issue.
The Performing Arts and Social Justice major includes training in dance, set and costume design, playwriting, and choreography. A graduate is expected to have mastered all tools necessary to start his or her own theater company. [Source: University of San Francisco]
Michael Czerny SJ, coordinator of the African Jesuit AIDS Network (AJAN), visited the JRS AIDS project in Bujumbura, Burundi, for several days during March. As well as the JRS project, directed by Florentino Badial SJ, there is also AIDS work going on in the UNCHR urban refugee project in Bujumbura and in the urban displaced project at Kiyange with Samuel Gyger SJ. Fr Czerny spent a day with the JRS AIDS Project staff, visited several sites, and got to know the Jesuit high school and spiritual center.
The new AIDS network hopes to stay close to JRS AIDS work in Burundi, especially to support the services being offered in parishes in and around Bujumbura. AJAN's coordinating office is located in Nairobi. Every month AJAN publishes a brief bulletin available in English, French, and Spanish. If you would like to receive it, e-mail your name, country, and preferred language to [email protected] For more information on the African Jesuit AIDS Network, visit the AJAN web site: http://www.jesuitaids.net [Source: JRS Dispatches]
Will exploiting oil resources in Chad foster development in one of Africa's poorest countries? This question was recently raised by the Jesuit-sponsored Center of Studies and Formation for Development (CEFOD, Center d'Études et de Formation pour le Développement) in N'Djamena, Chad.
After 30 years of exploration and the discovery of oilfields, in October 2000 one of the biggest oil ventures in Africa was begun, with the support of the World Bank: a 1,070-km pipeline from Chad to Cameroon.
Eradicating poverty is the main goal, but "during the period of the pipeline construction, we have seen a number of failures," writes Antoine Berilengar SJ in the CEFOD magazine Tchad et Culture. "In particular, the weakness of local business; the decisions about employment and the environment; growing inflation; the lack of skills of the local people; and the degradation of social life. All these failures, if not properly addressed, can seriously compromise development."
The CEFOD emphasizes that democratic and decentralized structures, good governance, sound social and economic policies, and access to the market for the poor are all fundamental conditions for the overall development of the country.
A center of study and reflection since 1966, CEFOD aims at responding to the training needs of Chadian high-ranking civil servants in the economic and social sectors. [Source: Catholic Information Service for Africa]
After a week of meetings in April between Jesuits and academic administrators from Javeriana University in Bogota, Colombia, and Gonzaga University in Spokane, a tentative agreement was reached to collaborate on a joint international project.
The general goals of the project between the Jesuit universities are to advance new models of social, economic, and environmental sustainability in ways that engage the work of both universities in models of interdisciplinary education for the cause of peace and justice.
Fr Bill Watson SJ, Gonzaga's vice president for mission, said, "The project is being conceived of in terms of decades rather than years." He added that the project may lay the foundation for multiple projects that utilize the resources and skills of many Jesuit universities in both the United States and Latin America.
"Educational initiatives grounded in perspectives of faith and justice that serve the local and global communities are what Jesuit universities worldwide have been requested to initiate," Fr Watson said. "Gonzaga's partnership with Colombia in this educational venture is another major step toward fulfilling the obligations we have to our students and the poor and disadvantaged we are called to serve." [Source: Gonzaga University]
Fr William Fulco SJ, a professor at Loyola Marymount University, translated the script for Mel Gibson's upcoming film, "The Passion," into Aramaic and Latin. Gibson said his aim is historical accuracy and intends to use only Aramaic and Latin, with no subtitles.
Shot in southern Italy and in Rome, the film focuses on the last 12 hours of Jesus' life.
The priest was asked by Eugene Fisher, director of Catholic-Jewish relations in the US bishops' Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, and Rabbi Eugene Korn, of the Anti-Defamation League, to give his evaluation of the film scheduled for a 2004 release in light of church guidelines for dramatizations of the Passion. Fr Fulco has seen hours of raw footage and says, "In no way do I experience it as offensive to Jews or anyone else.
"The Jewish community portrayed in the film consists of people both sympathetic to Jesus and hostile to him, just as the Roman community is portrayed," Fr Fulco wrote to Fisher and Rabbi Korn.
"It is clear from the whole tenor of the production that those who are 'guilty' are you and I, those of us who refuse to receive and return love. Sinners are the ones pointed to in this production," he wrote. [Source: CNS. Do not repost electronically]
Fr Scott Pilarz SJ, interim university chaplain and assistant professor of English at Georgetown University, has been named the 24th president of the University of Scranton. Fr Pilarz will assume his duties on July 1, 2003, succeeding Fr Joseph McShane SJ, who will begin service as the president of Fordham University that day.
Fr Pilarz has also served as a lecturer in the philosophy department of Sts Peter & Paul Seminary at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, and as an English teacher at Saint Joseph's University. He is a member of the Board of Trustees of the University of Scranton, and he serves on the boards of Georgetown Prep and Camden Catholic High School in Cherry Hill, NJ, from which he graduated. [Source: University of Scranton]
Recent high school graduates and college students up to age 28 are invited to attend a special retreat designed to help young men determine their life's calling.
The retreat, titled "John Paul's Call to Youth" will be held June 26-29 in Waupaca, Wisconsin. Young men who are seeking ways to incorporate into their life's work a commitment to building a better world are encouraged to attend.
"The retreat is open to all men who are looking for ways to do something more with their lives," said Fr Will Prospero SJ, a retreat organizer and a member of Marquette University's Campus Ministry staff. "Our intent is to present a retreat program that appeals to the broadest possible range of commitment and personal service. That includes not only men who are considering a vocation to religious life, but also those who are committed to becoming agents for God's love in other ways as well."
The program will draw on material gathered from Pope John Paul II's World Youth Day Message to young people along with the discussions and reflections generated by the message and World Youth Day activities.
Several provinces of the Society of Jesus are involved in developing the retreat program. They include Fr Prospero and Fr Mike Maher SJ, of the Wisconsin Province, Fr Matt Gamber SJ, of the Chicago Province, and Fr Anthony Wieck SJ, of the New Orleans Province.
Cost is $30 per person and includes all meals. For further information or to register, contact Fr Prospero at (414) 288-3058 or e-mail [email protected] [Source: Wisconsin Province]
Fr John Whitney SJ, provincial of the Oregon Province, may typify the future of Catholic religious community leadership. The 45-year-old priest, the youngest of the 10 US Jesuit provincials, accepts the declining number of priests as a "blessing" that will foster lay collaboration.
As provincial superior since July, Fr Whitney travels often, keeping track of the Northwest's 260 Jesuits and the vision of intellectual rigor and spiritual discernment they try to embody.
Just 20 years ago, there were almost 500 Jesuits in the Oregon Province. But Fr Whitney said the decrease in their numbers may be a gift of God to Jesuit ministry and the church as a whole.
"We are going to be a smaller group, but we are at a time of blessing," he said. "We are going to be much more engaged with the mission of the laity. Then we can move on and turn things over to them. My vision is for us to be more like yeast."
The Oregon Province has long been a leader in ministry shared by clergy and laity. Lay people lead the province's spiritual ministry, some of the schools, the volunteer corps, and even some parts of its parishes. That model will become more commonplace, said Fr Whitney.
The smaller number of priests is "calling us to give up some of our power in ministry," he said. "It is a poverty of numbers, a blessing that calls us to put ourselves more completely in God's hands."
Jesuits should focus on spiritual direction and fostering discernment, he said.
"It's a dialogue we offer that helps form the whole Church," Fr Whitney said. "The laity helps us, too. They give us a grounding, an immediacy in our spiritual work." [Source: CNS. Do not repost electronically]
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