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January 31, 1997     The Message
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January 31, 1997
 

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!,: II The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana .State of the Diocese The Diocese of Evansville celebrated its Golden Jubilee in 1995 with a Mass at the Uni- versity of Southern Indiana. Last year we celebrated our Golden Jubilee, 50 years as a Diocese, a local church. It was a grand occasion. It was a time for reflective gratitude for 50 years of lively faith. We had cause to cel- ebrate those years, one by one, as we marked the accomplishments of our dio- cese on the journey of its first 50 years. Contemplate for a moment all the mem- bers of our Church who made that his- tory possible. Among that number are our founding Bishop Henry J. Grim- melsman and his successors, Archbishop Paul F. Leibold, and Bishop Francis R. Shea. They have indeed set a pattern of fidelity and service for all of us to emu- late. To begin to bring things into sharper focus, consider that it has been 31 years since the close of Vatican Council If. Pon- der what has happened during those - years. We all knew of inner space. The decade of the sixties sharpened our understanding of outer space. Now we are confronted with the mysteries of cyberspace. Hardware was a comfortable house- hold word. Software was not. Now we have the marriage of both in the com- puter age. Hardware is what you can touch and feel, the parts and the components. Soft- ware is the program, the process, the application which gives guidance and direction. If I may use that terminology, the hardware in the life of the Church has been modified, but not changed all that much. The use of electronics -- wireless microphones, for example -- and modification of worship environ- ment have been modest. Howev- er, the software of a living Church has changed dramati- cally. There have been deliber- ate efforts to recall the liturgical practices of the past that are clearly more reflective of the practice of our faith, i.e. bap- tismal pools and chapels where the Eucharist is reserved for Viaticum and for personal ado- ration. Unfortunately, some of the beauty of the rich symbolism of the past has been lost. The Documents of Vatican Council II are planning docu- ments. They set a course that is clear and irrevocable. What the Council called for is jarring to many and, sadly, is patently unacceptable to some. The resulting differences are trou- and their implementation are the teach- ings of the Church to which we belong. They are the software that guides us, the software that opens our minds and hearts to discern the gifts of the Holy Spirit for our time. The Council Docu- ments also direct that more specific guid- ance be given to leaders of the church. Religious Education can serve as an example. The Vatican Council called for catechetical directories to guide the reli- gious formation of its members in the Catholic faith. First, there was devel- oped the General Catechetical Directory for the Universal Church. It was to serve as the backdrop for each episcopal con- ference throughout the world to develop its own directory, in keeping with local circumstances and cultures. In the Unit- ed States, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops prepared our National Cathechetical Directory. Most recently we have the Universal Catechism of the Catholic Church. It is the software that guides us in our effort in the Modem Era. It is the lead docu- ment guiding us into the next millenni- um. We must not only acknowledge it, we must use it as the compass which will keep us true to our faith. Just last week, I heard the report that a new General Catechetical Directory is being prepared in light of the Universal Catechism. We in the United States will be required to renew our own National Catechetical Directory accordingly. Having given you a 40,000 foot view of 50 and 31 years, let me now turn to what has transpired since my arrival in April 1989 and then offer a direc- tion for the future. In April 1989, I stat- ed that I wanted to have a diocesan synod as soon as possible. This was not so much from my initiative as it was prompted by the Code of Canon Law of the Roman Catholic Church. The law of 1917 required that a diocese hold a synod every 10 years. Pend- ing the revision of the law, however, that practice fell into disuse. The Code of Canon Law was revised in 1983. Although the revised law does not require a synod every ten years, it calls for one to be held peri- odically. Taking into account the clear implica- tions a synod would have for the faith life of any diocese, I judged it healthy to call a diocesan synod for the Diocese of Evansville. Simply speaking, a synod helps everyone to be on the "same page" when it comes to the revised church law and procedures. A diocesan synod pro- vides an opportunity to set direction for the future of the local church to main- tain its mission to spread the Gospel. Our synod of 1993 did just that. Please note that what follows is indeed our doing, not just mine or yours. What did we decide to do? How far have we come and what has been accomplished? What are the next steps on our jour- ney of faith? Development of Pastoral Councils In the planning of the Diocesan Synod of 1993, I specifically requested a rec- ommendation concerning the re-estab- lishment of a Diocesan Pastoral Coun- cil. I felt the need of a collaborative body representative of the diocese to provide counsel to me in the pastoral care of our diocese. The Code of Canon Law of 1983 required the establi san Finance Council, been in compliance ment. The Code of Canon acknowledged the value of a Pastoral Council at such a council be e the establishment of a DioceSan Council is not mandated, Canon Law empowers to enact such legislation. Our Synod of 1993 resp0 tively to my request. By synodal recommendations' legislated the est pastoral councils in our there were none, and our parishes who councils. By the same to be a renewal of Council which had 1976. The team responsible for ing actions of the in establishing a ne Council. The Council has c years according to lished for its o recommend a constitutio tion by August 1997. The tion team provided for parish pastoral toral council constitutions ! the new guidelines Parish councils require the the life of the Church. ity to participate flows ments, the software of can Council. in the life of the us that the Church ly to the clergy." Of involvement is a Responsibility calls for Both flow from Ba Staffing of our parishes for the We have had signs for that the staffing of our vide appropriate and care is a critical is a convergence of your imagination to moment. Picture by helicopter, to see trends of the past experience in our clusion of the Second During the decades '70s we experienced both within the ety. In the changes are ning way by priests and religious from our the moment, let loss for the first 60 tury records ordained dance to have many cases Many of ou es were bined for Eucharis "horse water and night until Communion" traveling church Most restate the blesome in our own day. In any The Diocesan Pastoral Council was re-established following the diocesan Synod in 1993. has case, the Council Documents ....... priest butnw