July 11, 2003
The Catholic Press Association (CPA) recently announced its annual awards in a number of categories. A number of Jesuits and Jesuit-related items received awards.
Fr Ray Schroth SJ, a writer and professor of humanities at Saint Peter's College, won the top prize as the nation's top columnist covering culture, the arts, and leisure in Catholic publications. He writes a regular column on television for the weekly National Catholic Reporter.
In his NCR column, which he has written for 10 years, Fr Schroth's coverage of topics has ranged from the Sherlock Holmes TV series, Jimmy Durante, Survivor, and George Bush landing on the aircraft carrier, to the Iraq wars, the Serbian conflict, and the ongoing sex scandal in the Catholic Church.
Additionally, "Thirty Days," Boston College professor Paul Mariani's memoir and personal reflection on an Ignatian retreat, won the CPA's first-place award for popular presentation of the Catholic faith.
Two Jesuits also received first-place awards: "The Jesus Meditations" by Michael Kennedy SJ with Martin Sheen in the spirituality, soft-cover category: and "Hearing the Word of God" by John R Donahue SJ in the professional books category.
Check out http://www.companymagazine.org/books/books.htm for recently published books with a Jesuit connection. [Sources: Saint Peter's College and CNS]
Old manuscripts and rare books collected and maintained by the Jesuits at a library they built 136 years ago in eastern China will soon be accessible again for the first time in years.
The Xujiahui Library will reopen after being closed for a decade. Li Tiangang, a professor of religion at Fudan University in Shanghai, said that the library is regarded as the oldest private library in modern Chinese history.
Built by the French Jesuits in 1867, by the early 1900s it boasted some 200,000 books and documents. The collection includes a compilation of the Hail Mary in dozens of languages by Jesuit Fr Aloysius Pfister, who served as librarian before his death in 1891. Other items include a map showing the route Catholic missionaries took to China.
Conservation work on the library is underway and regulations are being drafted to limit access to the rare books while allowing the public to borrow materials published after a certain year. [Source: Fides]
There will be 26 young astronomers (13 males and 13 females) in the summer course organized by the Vatican Observatory at Castel Gandolfo. The participants have been selected from the 200 who applied. The Holy See covers 75 percent of the expenses for students coming from developing countries. The research theme of this year's course is The Galaxy Evolution. [Source: Press and Information Office, Jesuit Curia, Rome]
After the publication at the beginning of this year of the Vatican document on the New Age (Jesus Christ the Bearer of the Water of Life), the discussion has been extended to other issues among which is Enneagram.
The Tablet, the British Catholic weekly, affirms that the enneagram was adapted by the Jesuits as a tool of spiritual discernment for use in formation and retreat houses, where it has proved popular. The Vatican document mentions the "Monte Verita" in Switzerland, one of the fundamental centers for the study of the New Age, where "great luminaries" gathered. The document adds that "it is fascinating" to see the list of those who visited the place. The Tablet has seen the list and found several Jesuit names among the "luminaries": Cardinal Jean Danielou, Hugo Rahner, and Martin D'Arcy. [Source: Press and Information Office, Jesuit Curia, Rome]
Australian Jesuit Provincial Fr Mark Raper said in late June that the province will ignore legal advice if necessary, in order to work for reconciliation with sex abuse victims on a pastoral level.
Fr Raper told a local TV station that he had previously been wrong to follow legal advice "against [his] better judgment."
Following legal advice, he had failed to honor an undertaking to be interviewed for a local TV program on a case involving Lucien Leech-Larkin, who claims he was sexually abused by a teacher at a Sydney Jesuit school 35 years ago. The program asserted that the Jesuits had refused to offer him any form of reconciliation, despite his repeated efforts. Last night's report portrayed Fr Raper's about-face as a remarkable change of heart.
"I was moved by Lucien Leech-Larkin, and also for me [viewing the TV feature] was a moment of liberation I must say, because I'd been accepting advice against my better judgement," he told the program. "The tactic has been if one comes to us with a legal attack, we give a legal defense ... but I am not at all content with that approach."
Fr Raper made it clear that the interests of victims will take priority over the need to prevent the erosion of the order's assets by large financial payouts.
"The assets are not as important as the people that we seek to serve," he said. "What is the point of doing what we're doing if that's not the case?" [Source: Australian Broadcasting Company]
A recent meeting of Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) policy officers from around Europe concluded that new proposals to create an EU wide asylum system are unworkable. The proposals feature setting up processing centers on transit routes to the EU as well as regional processing centers close to the countries of origin.
Among concerns cited by JRS are: the routine detention of asylum seekers contrary to international norms; proposed forced deportation to centers outside the EU where there is often inadequate infrastructure; lack of adequate human rights safeguards; and lack of legal advice and education, health, and translation facilities.
"There are so many questions about the proposed new system and so many potential legal problems that the EU is in danger of getting into a quagmire," said JRS Europe Director John Dardis. "More seriously, they put the whole asylum system at risk. People in genuine need of protection will not be helped. That has to be the ultimate test of any change."
JRS holds that the problems in the asylum system that the governments are trying to solve can be better addressed by measures such as:
The JRS policy officers are based in a number of European countries where JRS has active projects, as well as in Geneva and in the JRS head office in Rome. [Source: Jesuit Refugee Service]
The Claretians publish a magazine named "U.S. Catholic." The cover story of its July issue is entitled "Death -- It's a Part of Life." It profiles Jesuit Myles Sheehan.
Myles Sheehan has two jobs that cause him to walk with death on a regular basis: One, he's a doctor specializing in the care of old people; two, he's a Jesuit priest. He's also an Irish Catholic from Boston, where wakes constitute a hefty portion of one's social activities from childhood onward. So it isn't altogether surprising that when he speaks about what makes a good death, people listen.
Senior associate dean and associate professor of medicine at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine in Maywood, Illinois, and a practicing geriatric doctor, Sheehan helped to develop the geriatrics curriculum at Harvard Medical School and at Stritch.
Doctors often skirt the issue of death just as the rest of us do, he says, and care of the dying suffers as a result. Fr Sheehan has set out to change that, by advising medical schools and hospitals on end-of-life care. How did he end up being both a Jesuit and a doctor?
"God continued to bug me," he says. [Source: US Catholic. An online version of the whole article is available at: http://www.uscatholic.org/2003/07/cov0307.htm]
The Vatican's new additions on their web site provide public access to some of the treasures of the Vatican Museums.
Cardinal Edmund Szoka, president of the Governorate of Vatican City State, under whose auspices the museums fall, said at the launch: "For some time, the Church has paid great attention to the means of social communication, in order to more efficaciously perform her universal mission. The Internet, with its enormous potential, allows us to approach an ever greater number of people and to spread throughout the world our message of evangelization."
Cardinal Szoka noted that when Pope John Paul inaugurated the new entrance to the Vatican Museums on February 7, 2000, he called the museums "one of the most meaningful doors that the Holy See opens to the world," through which is expressed "the renewed will of the Church to dialogue with mankind through art and culture, making available to everyone the patrimony entrusted to her by history.
The museum site is accessible from the home page of the Vatican: http://www.vatican.va [Source: Vatican Information Service]
In late June, John Paul II renewed his commitment to Christian unity, in the presence of an Orthodox Church delegation and at a Mass on the solemnity of the patrons of Rome.
John Paul II said that the "joy of today's feast is more intense because of the presence of the delegation sent by His Holiness, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I." The patriarch is considered "first among equals" by the Orthodox.
The delegation, from the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, was headed by Greek Orthodox Archbishop Demetrios of America.
It was making what has become a traditional visit to Rome for the feast of Sts Peter and Paul, patrons of the city. A Vatican delegation reciprocates with a visit in November to Constantinople -- modern Istanbul, Turkey -- on the feast of St Andrew, patron of that Orthodox patriarchate.
The pope called the exchange of visits an "eloquent sign of our commitment oriented to attaining full unity."
"As Bishop of Rome and Successor of Peter, I renew today, in the evocative context of this feast, my complete willingness to put my person at the service of communion among all the disciples of Christ," the Holy Father affirmed.
At the end of the Mass, Orthodox Archbishop Demetrios congratulated John Paul II on his 25-year pontificate, a mystery characterized by "a constant effort to promote peace in the name of God, reconciliation among peoples" and "the surmounting of the tragic separation and division of our Churches."
"Considerable steps have been taken toward unity," he added, "and we pray that there will be more, so that our broken and fallen world will have an even greater testimony of the possibility of reconciliation, contemplating the beautiful and strong bonds of love that unite us in faith and in service of Jesus Christ." [Source: Zenit]
St Andrei Rublev Icon Studio
Balthus wrote: "To paint and to pray are the same thing." Fr William McNichols is a Jesuit with a great love of Icons. He paints them. For a long time he has had temporary websites and it has been a battle keeping track of where to find his images and thoughts. This now seems to be a more permanent site. It is worth checking out both for the beauty of the icons painted by Fr McNichols and for his reflections.
Institute of Jesuit Sources
The Institute of Jesuit Sources specializes in making the spirituality and the history of the Society of Jesus better known. It publishes material by more than fifty authors on the Jesuits, their history, their traditions, their present activities, their future opportunities. It also publishes material from the Seminar on Jesuit Spirituality. The Seminar is a group of United States Jesuits, each appointed for a specific term, who study topics pertaining to the spiritual doctrine and practice of Jesuits, particularly American Jesuits, and communicate the results of their work to their fellow Jesuits in Studies in the Spirituality of Jesuits, a periodical issued five times yearly. Approximately one hundred and forty issues of Studies have been published since the seminar began its work in 1969.
New Advent is another of the many websites that exist today thanks to the dedication of individuals who become imbued with a passion for all things Catholic. This one is put together by Kevin Knight. Kevin by his own admission is a web designer not a theologian but he has certainly assembled here a resource that ought to earn him a DD. The great claim to fame of his site is that it hosts online copies of the Catholic Encyclopedia (unfortunately only the 1913 version since that version does not have copyright restrictions), the Summa Theologica of St Thomas Aquinas, and other writing of the early Church Fathers. It is a site that receives around 15,000 visits each day.
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