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June 3, 1994     The Message
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June 3, 1994

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koM E S SAG E The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana VOLUME 24 NUMBER 39 June 3, 1994 EST DEANERY EAST DEANERY ked for throughout the Diocese of Evansville were thanked for passing on the faith during the two annual Catechist Recog- Evansville, Bishop Gerald A. Gettelfinger said, "There is one of us can give thanks as you really deserve it. on behalf of all the do .not thank you, as the bishop of the diocese, this night I say thank 170 catechists attended the May 23 dinner in Vincennes and over 560 at- dinner the following night. peaker for both nights was Tim Unsworth, editor of the newslet- Comes Everybody!," and "Stories of " his presentation, Unsworth discussed the declining number of priests in today and the increasing role of the laity in filling ministerial roles, port, attended the Catechist tulated the catechists and Catholic educators who have already begun:P : Evansville. roles in large number. "" X Members of the Catholic community at St. -- Message photo by Mary AnnHughes : Church ban on women priests not open to debate rHAVIS News Service CITY (CNS) -- In emphatic apostolic John Paul II said |trch's ban on women is definitive and not to debate among priesthood does discrimination but fidelity to for the church, said. that the church whatsoever to ordination on d that this judgment ely held by all faithful," he he was issuing the "in order that all be removed" on a *f such crucial impor- X'page letter, titled Priestly Ordina- Alone," was made ;he Vatican May 30. to the world's bish- the church's Position on the male- from the time pontificates. this teaching, "at time in some s nonetheless consid- to debate, or the that women admitted to ordi- considered to have a force,  the Was part of his of confirming the declare that there doubt on the mat- Under increasing ing the deci- sion last year by the Church of England to ordain women as priests. The pope at that time made clear that the policy rep- resented an obstacle to ecu- menical progress. In his latest letter, the pope recalled that as early as 1975 Pope Paul VI had reminded Anglicans that the church op- posed women's ordination for several fundamental reasons: the example of Christ in choos- ing male apostles, the constant practice of both Catholic and Orthodox churches, and the magisterium's consistent teaching on the matter. He noted that Pope Paul's teachings were authoritatively explained in the 1976 docu- ment, "Inter Insigniores," is- sued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. That document added theological nation and showed that Christ's way of acting was not due to sociological or cultural motives, he said. Pope John Paul also re- viewed his own teaching on the subject, particularly the point that Christ acted freely and that his 12 apostles received a special function in the church, one that could not be exercised by any other member. The papal letter emphasized that the nonadmission of women to the priesthood "can- not mean that women are of lesser dignity, nor can it be construed as discrimination against them." This is shown by the fact that Mary, the mother of Christ, received nei- ther the mission of the apostles or the ministerial priesthood, he said. The presence and role of "absolutely necessary and irre- placeable," he said. The Vati- can's own 1976 document said the role of women is of capital importance for the humaniza- tion of society and for the good of the church, he pointed out. "The New Testament and the whole history of the church give ample evidence of the presence in the church of women, true disciples, wit- nesses to Christ in the family and in society, as well as in total consecration to the ser- vice of God and of the Gospel,  he said. A statement issued by the Vatican press office attempted to put the pope's letter in per- spective, saying it was a re- sponse to "widespread uncer- tainty" on women's ordination. The papal letter is not a question of "a new dogmatic reasons against women's ordi- women in the church remain formulation, but of a doctrine NCCB president says pope's letter doesn't limit women's potential By JULIE ASHER AND NANCY O'BRIEN Catholic News Service WASHINGTON (CNS) Restricting priestly ordination to men in the Catholic Church "does not limit the potential of women in the church," said Baltimore Archbishop William H. Keeler, president of the U.S. bishops' conference. The archbishop, in reaction to a May 30 apostolic letter by Pope John Paul II that reaf- firmed the church ban on women priests, said: "The church is completely commit- ted to the equality of all per- sons in dignity and nobility. The church however does not accept an understanding of equality which ignores the unique roles and gifts of women and men." The pope's apostolic letter, titled "On Reserving Priestly Ordination to Men Alone," was made public at the Vatican May 30. In it the pope said the church's ban on women priests is definitive and not open to debate among Catholics. The all-male priesthood does not represent discrimination against women, but fidelity to Christ's plan for the church, the pope said. In his statement, issued in Washington, Archbishop Keeler urged "all those who may find this further affirms- tion of the church's authentic teaching difficult to accept to receive it lovingly, pray for un- derstanding and to see in it a call for them to live out fully their fundamental Christian vocation according to the giRs that they have been given." =The church's constant tradi- tion  has been not to allow women priests, said Arch. bishop Keeler. However, the church still "affirms the funda- mental equality of women and men, who are both created in the image of God.  The pope has been a fore- most defender of the dignity of every human person," the archbishop added. rhe diver- taught by the ordinary papal magisterium in a definitive way; that is, proposed not as a prudential teaching, nor as a more probable opinion, nor as a mere matter of discipline, but as certainly true," it said. "Therefore, since it does not belong to matters freely open to dispute, it always requires the full and unconditional as- sent of the faithful," it said. To teach the contrary is the equivalent of "leading con- sciences into error,  the press office statement said. The statement said the papal letter, =far from consti- tuting an obstacle" to ecumeni- cal dialogue, can provide an op- portunity for all Christians to deepen their understanding about the priestly ministry.