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April 22, 1994     The Message
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April 22, 1994
 

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The Message N for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana 5 00p's Forum-- More untold blessings wrote of the un- are those per- I our lives whom we often I made special to those who assisted our on the faith to Indeed, they are I the seeds of faith both through the sacra- and through us the rudiments of faith belief was nurtured. them when we stop 0raeat. For me there were served our small Parish of St. Bernard in a. There were the religious came to us from the neighboring '.hael, Bradford. They came to first Saturday of the month and the spring. Before them were the who came from Holy Trinity recall which one taught me I cannot remember when I learned I learned about the faith. What I do vividly is the care and concern of ByBISHOP GERALD A. GETTELFINGER priests and sisters beyond our home, not to mention the good men and women who taught me in pub- lic school in the elementary grades. The same holds true for the priests and brothers at St. Meinrad who lived the ideals of St. Benedict. Oh yes, there was formal spiritual direction by our confessors and spiritual directors. They all taught me a lot about being a good and holy person. But frankly, I can't isolate which one laught me what. What comes back in quick re- call from all my years of elemen- tary religious education and in my formal training in the seminary is not information that was transmitted. Rather I remember vividly thepeople who were the messengers. I remember clearly how their lives touched mine. How the dedi- cation by which they all went about their respec- tive responsibilities on my behalf in and of itself has been transforming. An anonymous donor has given $1 million to the diocese. This gift by which we have been blessed will assist us in helping those who are will- ing and committed to pursue further development - in the spiritual life to be even more effective mes- sengers of the faith. Oh, yes, there will be formal learning of much information required, but a much deeper aspect is the formation in the spiritual life. The commitment to grow spiritually will be the dri- ving force and the transforming power that will change lives, not the mere mastering of a body of kiowledge. The narrow focus of the application of the fruits of this marvelous endowment to develop teachers of teachers of religion is only the beginning. I repeat, it is only a beginning ofwhat is possible. It is an at- tempt on my part to multiply directors of: religious  education at the parish level whose role is not re- place catechists but to form them. Catechists in turn can multiply themselves by developing parents in the teaching of religion, not to replace them but to form them as the primary teachers of religion. By this gift we have the opportunity over a gen- eration or two to make a significant impact on the passing on of our faith, not merely in the transmis- sion of information, but in forming believers into the committed disciples of Jesus. Thanks be to God for told and untold blessings MERCURY LINCOLN vIs ration, women, Islam emerge as African Synod themes Service (CNS) w lowly taking Week of the of Bishops on Africa saw the emergence of several key themes: the legiti- mate extent of inculturation, appreciation of women, the church's political involvement and relations with Islam. While most of the synod director attends conference diocesan direc- education, and letical leaders In the Diocese of attended a for Ef- esis', was the Confer- Leader- ng April Ky., River from lanova, Pa.; Father Robert Duggan, pastor of St. Rose of Lima Parish in Gaithersbur, Md.; and Thomas Groome, pro- fessor of religious education at Boston College. The meeting also included three special sessions on issues surrounding the new "'Cate- chism of the Catholic Church," to be available in English June 22. The 1994 recipient of the NCCL catechetical award was Father Robert Hater, professor of religious studies at the Uni- versity of Dayton in Ohio. In an article about the award in the Cincinnati dioce- san newspaper, the Catholic Telegraph, Father Hater was quoted as saying religious edu- cation is "not about programs, =not primarily about processes," =not primarily about organization," but "It's about people.  included a Sister Namur who al minister at Jude Parish the Sacred House of aw, Mich.; Friend of ,a.; Fayette assistant pro- education at ity, Vil- Jill Ann White L P Administrator Hwy. 57 So: W IN 8812.254.4516 rairle Village iving Center I I les 4COLN. MERCURY I 482-1200JASPER [ & MILLER "Funeral Pre-Planning Since 1940" 424-9274 speeches April 11-16 were gen- eral, one specific concern came to the fore: how the church might adopt pastoral provi- sions for traditional African marriages, which disqualify many Catholic couples from re- ceiving the Eucharist. In all, 115 synod fathers almost half the total -- spoke to the assembly, which was presided over by Pope John Paul II. After a second week of individual speeches, the synod was to begin the difficult task of pulling together a final docu- ment. As expected, inculturation quickly became a focus of the eight-minute talks, with Africans and Vatican officials offering different perspectives. Archbishop Laurent Mon- sengwo of Kisangani, Zaire, said the church should not be afraid of the "destabilization" that occurs when the Gospel is woven into local cultures. It is a sign of local conversion, he said. The Vatican's top evange- lization official, Cardinal Jozef Tomko, described inculturation as a two-way street that must =excise" local traditions that are sinful. "It is not the Gospel which must yield to a negative cul- tural phenomenon, but vice versa," he said. Cardinal Tomko indicated the cause of some apprehen- sion at the Vatican when he spoke of =propaganda" efforts to include polygamy, marriage by stages and the married priesthood under the banner of inculturation. =Marriage by stages" was a shorthand description of the traditional approach to matri- mony in many African coun- tries, in which couples often live together before completing the promise of marriage. But several African bishops, citing a "eucharistic famine" among such couples, asked for greater flexibility on the ques- tion. In the most detailed analysis of the problem, Bishop Raphael Mwana'a Nzeki Ndingi of Nakuru, Kenya, formally pro- posed that the church recog- nize the validity of traditional marriage under certain condi- tions. He suggested the pope form a commission of theologi- cal and pastoral experts to study the question. In defending the African marriage custom, the bishop said it was hard for his people ta understand why couples married in this way, who have children and live faithfully, were considered by the church as living in public concubinage. He said the church's form of matrimony has its origins in Roman civil marriage, but "there is no concrete form of Christian marriage in the New Testament." Consent by cou- ples can be expressed in many different ways and contexts, he said. Several bishops spoke of the particular plight of African women and said the synod should give special attention to their situation. As Bishop Gre- gory Kpiebaya of Wa, Ghana, said, illiteracy rates are high among women, and they are still often accused of the com- munity's worst evils, such as witchcraR and sorcery. Others pointed out that women do not have equal legal rights in areas of marriage, religious af- filiation and inheritance. Kenyan Bishop John Njue of Embu told the synod that the tendency to regard women as inferior can also be found in the church. He proposed that women be fully consulted in all church decisions, that women be allowed to lead Sunday ser- vices where there is no priest, that competent women teach in seminaries and that semi- narians be "educated in the re- spect of women.  He also urged the synod to call on African governments to better protect women's rights. He noted that while discrimi- nation against women is often blamed on native customs, new forms of abuse and oppreion have taken root in Africa: pros. titution, mistresses, aban- doned mothers and forced abortion. Family issues were raised by many bishops, several of whom said the West was partly to blame for the weakening of traditional values. Bishop Joseph Ajomo of Lokoja, Nigeria, said a world- wide population control move- ment challenged the church's mission of promoting the sanc- "This synod should appeal to Western nations to stop treat- ing Africa as a dumping ground for the negative aspects of Western civilization," he said. Africa's dramatic political landscape was on the synod's mind, particularly the recent ethnic violence in Rwanda, whose bishops were unable to attend the Rome assembly. The synod appealed for an end to atrocities in Rwanda and urged international organiza- tions to help start a dialogue in the tiny nation. An impassioned condemna- tion of the arms trade came from Angolan Archbishop Manuel Franklin da Costa of Lubango, who said the synod should tell international weapons manufacturers: "We denounce your cynicism and your cruelty. Stop resupplying Africans with weapons, be- cause they are killing each other." Relations with Islam was an early topic at the synod. Bish- ops from predominantly Mus- lim countries in North Africa said they were worried about the growing influence of radi- cal Muslim groups, but believe the church must work even harder to keep dialogue open. Bishop J. Terry Steib of Memphis, Tenn., a black bishop and a papal appointee to the synod, told the assembly that new bonds are being formed between African-Amer. icans and Africa, with a posi- tive "effect on liturgy, catech- esis and the everyday lives of black U.S. Catholics.