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Evansville, Indiana
March 17, 1989     The Message
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March 17, 1989
 

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4 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana March 17, 1989 Editorial By PAUL I FINC.ANG Message Editor Celebrating a beginning with our bishop-elect We celebrate a beginning. 1 , n,m. u, t. .u, m mshop of the Diocese of Evansville has suddenly pushed its way into our reality. For months we have been wondering and waiting, knowing that the day would come, but not knowing when. Week after week we have rushed towards Tuesday. Week after week, we watched the wave of our expectations recede from the shore of our hopes. Of all the talk aoout Tuesday, Message staff writer Mary Ellert said it best. She said each Tues- day was like being at a surprise party and waiting for the arrival of the center of all the attention Each Tuesday was like a door opening, she said. Each time the door opened, all who had assembled made ready for the celebration to begin, t]ntil thLs Tuesday, the open door brought only more friends ready to join those already waiting. This Tuesday, the celebration began The image D' ot a surprise party is quite ap- propriate. Such a celebration does not merely com- memorate the past, or call to mind a certain level of achievement. At the surprise party, we wait with a certain amount of excited anticipation, until the reason for our gathering arrives. Once the guest-of-honor arrives, we can get back to normal. It is really only the beginning which explodes with an urgent suddenness. Once the celebration is underway, the many conversa- tions will resume in familiar patterns. Not much is familiar this week. For the first time since 1970, we have a new bishop. For only the fourth time in the historv of the diocese, a ceremony is being planned to install a bishop as shepherd, priest and teacher of the faithful in southwestern Indiana. In this last year of the 1980s, we focus our at- tention on a leader of the Church who max, well take us through the 1990s into the next century. Bishop-elect Gettelfinger, we welcome yon to the Diocese of Evansville. We look forward to your guidance and to your direction. We look forward to your presence among us. In your new diocese is the Basilica of St. Fran- cis Xavier, the Old Cathedral -- the oldest church in the state of Indiana In your diocese are the churches el Warrmk County -- an area growing and changing almost as fast as any area in the state. In your diocese are parishes dreaming of new church buildings. In your diocese are parishes where there is fear that churches will be closed. In your diocese are people who long for a return to more traditional times and practices. In your diocese are people with visions of new ministries shared by lay men and lay women. We are here -- German, English, Irish, Eastern European, African-American, and many others. Among us are families with ties to the soil stretch- ing back 150 years; among us are families en route to a homeland somewhere yet to be determined What we have in common s our faith. We have gathered, as at a surprise party, to celebrate with each other. We are here to celebrate a past and a future with the Spirit who is always present. We are gathered to celebrate a beginning. Vatican, U.S. bishops' meeting pulls no punches By AGOSTINO BONe NC News Service VATICAN CITY (NC) -- At a four-day meeting which par- ticipants often described as friendly, 35 U.S. bishops and 25 Vatican officials pulled no punches in airing their disagreements about American church life. Under the eye of Pope John Paul II, U.S. church leaders counterpunched effectively when challenged, They also took the fight to the Vatican of- ficials, stressing from the start the difficulties of keeping religion alive and healthy in a culture often hostile to religion and in a climate in which lay Catholics are used "o question- ing their faith. But at the end of the March 8-11 meeting, there were no winners and losers as the debates came to no conclu- sions. Nor were any decisions made about American church life. The meeting will influence American Catholicism, but "I don't think this was a great tur- ning moment" for the church in T00iVIESSAGE 4200 N. Kentucky Ave. Evansville, IN 47724-01 60 Weekly newspaper of thf Diocese of Evansville Published weekly except ist we@: in December by the Catholic Pre of Evatmvilis. Publisher ........ Bishop Francis R. Shea Associate Publilher .... Rev. Joseph Ziliak EdRo ................. Paul LM gang Production Mgt .............. Phil ger Addre all COmmunications to P.t,. Box 4169, Eventuate, IN 47724-0169. Phoae (812) 424-5536. Subscription rate: $17.50 per ye.=r Entered ,,, 2nd hl miner id th post of. lice In Ewlnm, IN 47701. Pullcatkm number S43000. Postmaster: Return PO0 forms 3579 to the Office of Pullcatlon.  1989 Clollc Pines ,A EvanIHe theUnited States, said Cardinal Bernard F. Law of Boston. In a rarity for the Vatican, the March 8-11 disputes were played out in the open, as the U.S. delegation had wanted. Pressure by the American bishops convinced the Vatican to publish the full speeches after an initial Vatican decision to allow only summaries to be made available. Regular press briefings also gave running ac- counts of the floor debate dur- ing the closed-door sessions. Theme of the meeting was "Evangelization in the Context of the Culture and Society of the United States with Particular Emphasis on the Role of the Bishop as Teacher of the Faith." Much of the talks and debate revolved around how to evangelize in a diverse U.S. society marked by secularism, pluralism and relativism regar- ding values. But they also revealed serious disagreements over evaluations of U.S. culture and specific U.S. church ac- tivities. Many Vatican officials put the stress on the negatives in U.S. society which the church must overcome. Many American bishops, while acknowledging the negatives, stressed that the church has prospered and, because of democratic prin- ciples such as freedom of ex- pression and religion, become an influence in national life. Vatican officials stressed that bishops must be authoritative teachers of religious truth, while the U.S. bishops' con- ference president, Archbishop John L. May of St. Louis, noted that many Americans "consider the divine right of bishops as outmoded as the divine right of kings." In a democratic society, U.S. bishops cannot expect "Catholics to limit their ac- tivities to paying and praying only,', said Archbishop Patrick F. Flores of San Antonio, Texas. "It would be helpful for the Holy See to recognize that fre- quently when American bishops are perceived as ques- tioning the authority of the Ho- ly See. what they are really do- ing is trying to make things 'work' in our culture," said Cardinal John J. O'Connor of New York. One of the sharpest debates involved marriage annulments granted by U.S. church tribunals. Strong Vatican criticism of the high number drew equally strong defense, and a countercriticism that the Vatican numbers were inade- quate to understand the full pic- ture. U.S. bishops should be more "vigilant" because the high number of annulments call into question the validity of tribunal procedures, said Cardinal Achille Silvestrini, head of the Apostolic Signature, the church's highest court. The cardinal cited 1985 figures showing that 36,180 of the 45,632 annulments granted worldwide were decisions of U.S. tribunals. He was quickly challenged by Cardinal Edmund C. Szoka of Detroit and Archbishop Roger M.' Mahony of Los Angeles. Archbishop Mahony said a clearer picture must take into account the number of annul- ment cases tribunals refuse to hear because of lack of grounds. The Los Angeles Ar- chdiocese, with 5 million Catholics, granted 1,000 an- nulments in 1985, but refused to hear 13,000 cases, he said. Cardinal Szoka said the Vatican's concern was more with numbers than with pro- cedures and invited the Vatican official to visit his tribunals for a firsthand look. Differences also emerged at a closing news conference over the motivations behind the desire of many women to become priests. There is "a suspicion that this desire is fed more by a search for power than service," said Cardinal Antonio Innocen- ti, head of the Vatican Con- gregation for Clergy. "l think it's very difficult to read people's motivations," said Cardinal Law. For many women "the drive can be ser- vice." Letting such give-and-take become public was unusual for the Vatican. At the only other meeting of its type, in 1986 with a delegation from the Brazilian hierarchy, there were no news conferences, briefings or release of speeches except for those of the pope. But the fighting was also done with velvet gloves. The sessions "were characterized by candor, con- viction and kindness," said Archbishop E. Pilarczyk of Cin- cinnati, vice president of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, after the meeting was over. "It was not the bad schoolboys coming home to be disciplined by their fathers," he added. "It was a candid meeting in which everyone said what he thought." Vatican and U.S. participants stressed that there were no win- ners and losers because the scope of the meeting was limited to exchanging ideas. The aim, according to par- ticipants, was to strengthen the life of U.S. Catholicism by strengthening the unity of the bishops and the Vatican. "The Curia has listened and learned. The goal has been ob- tained," said Cardinal Innocen- ti at the end of the meeting. The meeting "will have an influence" on American church life, said Archbishop Pilarczyk. "Will it change the shape of American Catholicism? I think not." Fr. Curran says loss is last By CINDY WOODEN NC News Service WASHINGTON (NC) -- Although the case of Father Charles E. Curran vs. The Catholic University of America has been decided, some of the issues raised in his losing lawsuit remain, said those in- volved. District of Columbia Superior Court Judge Frederick H. Weisberg, who ruled in favor of the university, said in his Feb. 28 decision: "It is apparent that this dispute,is merely a piece of a larger-struggle that has been raging in Catholic higher education for many years." The judge ruled that Catholic University acted within its rights when it barred Father Curran, a moral theologian, from teaching theology. The ac- tion followed a Vatican deci- sion that because of his dissent from certain church teachings, Father Curran was not eligible to teach Catholic theology. Father Curran, who taught at Catholic University for more than 20 years, filed the civil suit against the university claiming that it violated his contractual guarantees of academic freedom when the board of trustees removed his canonical mission and refused him a posi- tion teaching Catholic theology. Father Curran said that "I have fought for academic freedom at Catholic University for more than 20 years. I have lost. As far as I am concerned, this was the last battle." Catholic University is the on- lypontifically chartered univer- sity in the United States. The theology department is ac- credited by the Vatican.