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March 26, 1993     The Message
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The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana March Pope to bishops: U.S. Catholics must accept church By JOHN THAVIS AND CINDY WOODEN Catholic News Service VATICAN CITY (CNS) m Concluding a week of consul- tations with a group of U.S. bishops, Pope John Paul II said American Catholics must be encouraged to fully accept church teachings on faith and morals. The greatest service the bishops can give the church right now is to teach the faith unambiguously and thus end "disharmony and confusion" produced by dissenting views, the pope said March 20. The papal Speech was the final session for the bishops, most of them from Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin, who made their "ad limina" visits March 13-20. In talks with the pope and other Vatican officials, they discussed a wide range of pastoral issues, including the shortage of clergy, priestly celibacy and the need for better catechesis. The visits are required of all heads of dioceses every five years. Other U.S. bishops will be making their "ad lira- inn" visits throughout the rest of the year. Bishops interviewed unani- mously described the ses- sions as productive and en- couraging -- particularly their one-on-one meetings with the pope. One important meeting with the Congregation for Clergy dealt with priestly pe- dophilia. The bishops said Vatican officials made a real effort to understand the diffi- cult legal, moral and psycho- logical aspects of the problem in the United States. In his concluding speech, the pope stressed that Catholics cannot go their own way on doctrinal matters. While recognizing that a majority of U.S. Catholics un- derstand that an "assent of faith" is needed, he said the cultural climate in the United States is often suspicious or hostile to religious truths. "In a climate of religious individualism, some assume the right to decide for them- selves, even in important matters of faith, which teach- ings to accept, while ignoring those they find unaccept- able," the pope told the bish- ops. Emphasizing a point he made during his)ast U.S. visit in 1987, the pope said "selectivity in adhering to au- thoritative church teaching.. is incompatible with being a good Catholic." The bishop's task is to in- sist on full acceptance of church teaching, clearly and unambiguously, so that it will "rise above the clash of con- flicting opinions with the forcefulness and power of the truth," he said. In this regard, the pope said he hoped the new "Cate- chism of the Catholic Church" would help launch a "national recatechizing en- deavor" in the United States. The private meetings be- tween each bishop and the pope provided substantial conversations on a wider va- riety of topics -- in particu- lar, priestly vocations, a key papal concern, Bishop Raymond Lucker of New Ulm, Minn., explained to the pontiff how his primar- ily rural diocese has tried to counter the scarcity of priests with advance planning and the "Called By Name" voca- tions program. The pope "indicated he be- lieved that around the world and even in our country the situation is turning around, that there's beginning to be a change. I have to say that I'm not quite that optimistic," Bishop Lucker said. Archbishop Rembert Weak- land of Milwaukee said he thought the priest shortage would turn out to be the major issue during the visits, because "it does affect how you can administer a church as large as ours." Although lay people have been well- trained. "at least for the sacra- mental ministry it's not the same," he said. Bishop John J. Myers of Peoria, Ill., was asked by the pope why his diocese -- un- like most others -- enjoys a high number of vocations. The bishop attributed it to a good vocations team and tile enthusiasm of young priests and seminarians. In his private audience, Archbishop Francis T. Hurley of Anchorage, Alaska, told the pope that in the wake of recent publicity, the church needs to address the growing assumption that priestly celibacy is impossible. "I told him.I supportlhis position on celibacy, for which he thanked me," Arch- bishop Hurley said. The arch- bishop added that he also supported the current excep- tions to the rule. Archbishop Hurley told the pope that "it would be very helpful for the bishops to have a good discussion on celibacy because many peo- ple are coming to the conclu- sion that it just isn't possible to lead a celibate life." The pope spoke about the celibacy issue in a specific context during a private Mass with the bishops March 18. Referring to recent allegations that Archbishop Robert Sanchez of Santa Fe, N.M., had been sexually involved with several women, the pope said the case was "painful" and required com- passion, understanding and prayer. The pope said the church should recognize the failings of its ministers and show concern for those directly af- fected. But such failings should not be the subject of public "sensationalism," he said. The pope's frank remarks on the topic, made available to Catholic News Service, were welcomed by the bish- ops, who said the talk helped clear the air on a matter of deep concern. In their meeting with the clergy congregation, the bish- ops said they received a good hearing from Vatican officials on another controversial topic: sexual abuse by clergy. Bishop Myers and others who attended said Vatican of- ficials were interested in hearing the psychological, ethical and legal implications of the problem in the United States. Cardinal Joseph L. Bernardin of Chicago said that while curial officials lis- tened, it was also evident that "they don't appreciate fully the situation, all the dimen- sions of the situation as we experience it." But the meet- ing did help, he added. The request by U.S. bish- ops to find a simpler process for laicizing priests who sex- ually abuse minors is still under study by an intera- gency Vatican commission, the bishops were told. The Vatican is concerned about how such a rule would affect a priest's rights and the church's responsibility to him. In a meeting with Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the bishops were told to expect the pope's en- cyclical on moral theology later this year. Cardinal Bernardin said the document, in preparation for several years, was described as deal- ing with fundamental moral principles rather than appli- cations of those principles. Catholic universities, semi- nary programs and ministry on secular university cam- puses were discussed in a meeting with the Congrega- tion for Catholic Education, bishops said. Some bishops found the pope keenly interested in the role of the U.S. Catholic school system, particularly how the schools are main- taining their Catholic iden- tity. Bishop Lucker of New Ulm said the pope reacted favor- ably when he explained his diocese's program of ongoing education and use of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. The bishop told the pope he thought the need for ongoing evangelization and catechesis in adults is one of the biggest challenges facing the church. Two bishops found the- pope interestedin specific ec- umenical topics. Archbishop Hurley ex- plained his role in forming an outreach mission for Catholics in Magadan, in eastern Russian. The project has met with some criticism from Russian Orthodox lead- ers, who suspect it may be an attempt to proselytize among Orthodox Christians. Archbishop Hurley talked about those difficulties with the pope and the Vatican sec- retary of state, Cardinal An- gelo Sodano, The pope af- firmed his concern for reaching those pockets of Catholics, the archbishop said. Cardinal Sodano made the point that cooperation with the Orthodox is neces- sary, and that Orthodox sen- sitivities need to be taken into account, he said. .Archbishop Weakland, who heads the U.S. bishops' Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, said he emphasized to the pope that Catholic-Orthodox dialogue in the United States has not broken down, despite tensions in other places. He said he found the pope curi- ous about the U.S. Orthodox Church and well-informed about the overall dialogue is- sues. All the bishops said that despite rumors to the con- trary, the pope appears to be in good shape following last year's intestinal surgery. They said he looked good, ate well during their lunches to- gether and appeared to be better briefed than in previ- ous years for the individual meetings with bishops. "He looked relaxed and healthy. Any rumors about his failing health are un- founded," said Bishop Joseph L. Imesch of Joliet, IlL Several Cardinal BeI found the pope Denver in Youth Day. B told the pope join 500-600 a two-day bus event. The bishops described the its as generally and friendly, found the pope listener. C said the pope's h was "extraordinary. _0000Where customers send their Open nightly t=l 9 p.m, Ucb00her & oto us m seer, - J00sea, - 4s2.m2 Did You Know: 1-8 OLDS CIERA is most trouble free car made in "SERVING ELBERFELD AREA SINCE WITH DEPENDABILITY DIGNITY & DISTINCTION Three Locations To Serve You 00IMPSON- 100 E. 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