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August 28, 1992

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, 1 2 The Message  for Catholics of Southwestern ndiana August 28 199 1 I II I I I llm i i ii t Fourth draft of pastoral on women sent to bishops' commitee I By JERRY FILTEAU Catholic News Service WASHINGTON (CNS} -- A fourth draft of the proposed pastoral letter of the U.S. Catholic bishops on women's concerns was mailed Aug. 18 to the bishops' Administra- tive Committee. It was not immediately made public. In response to an inquiry by Catholic News Service Aug. 19, Mercy Sister Sharon Euart confirmed that the new version of the pastoral was included in documentation sent to the committee the day before. Sister Euart is associ- ate general secretary of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops. The 50-bishop NCCB Ad- ministrative Committee is to meet in Washington Sept. 15- 17 to set the agenda for this fall's general meetin of the NCCB. The pastoral on women, nine years in the making, is expected to be the most con- troversial and heavily de- bated issue facing the coun- try's bishops when they gather in Washington Nov. 16-19. It describes sexism as a sin and calls for a wide range of changes in church, society and personal attitudes to end unjust discrimination against women. Most of the confro- versy has swirled around its efforts to deal with divisive issues concerning the role of women in the church. When the bishops had their spring meeting at the Univer- sity of Notre Dame in June, they discussed the third draft at length and called on the drafting committee to make several important revisions before bringing the document back to them in November for final debate, amendment and vote. A number of bishops criti- cized the third draft sharply. But the diversity of views ex- pressed at the June meeting led some observers to wonder whether the bishops can reach enough consensus at this time to issue a single common statement, espe- cially on some of the ques- tions regarding women in the church. Several bishops called for a revised document that would explain more fully and de- fend more strongly the posi- tion that, in trying to discern and follow the will of Christ, the church does not consider itself able to ordain women to the priesthood. The third draft stated the official church position but avoided a detailed analysis or defense, saying, "This pas- toral letter is not the appro- priate place to enter into a discussion of these complex issues." Several bishops ob- jected that a failure to explain and defend church policy would make it seem as if the qlm bishops were not sure of it or did not support it. But at least a small number of U.S. bishops are known to favor the ordination of women, and others do not consider the question defini- tively answered and closed for all time. In June some bishops ar- gued that the bishops should admit they could not agree on all the issues facing them and not issue a pastoral letter at this time. One of that group, Bishop Raymond A. Lucker of New Ulm, Minn., urged the bish- Alaska bishop questions church argument against women priests .... NEW YORK (CNS) -- Bishop Michael H. Kenny of Juneau, Alaska, wrote in a na- tional Catholic magazine that he is dissatisfied with the rea- sons the church has given for not ordaining women priests. For that and other reasons, he said, he is leanirig "more and more against" issuance of the proposed pastoral of the U.S. bishops on women's concerns. Bishop Kenny expressed his views in the Aug. 22 issue of America, a Catholic weekly magazine published by the Je- suits in New York. Bishop Kenny said the "understanding of ordained priesthood and how it relates to men and women" is one of two key questions at stake in the proposed pastoral. "I am not at all satisfied with the rationale supporting the position that women are not called to the priesthood," Bishop Kenny said. He said he agreed that the ordained priest has a "unique relationship" to Christ such that he acts "in the person of Christ" in ordained ministry. "So far no problem." he said. "But here is where I lose it: The position goes on to as- sert that because Christ was male, the priest representing him to the community must also be male. I can't make that leap because it seems to Church urged to, work with abortion-rights groups on adoption By NANCY FRAZIER O'BRIEN Catholic News Service HOUSTON (CNS) -- The Catholic Church should forge an alliance on "a total adop- tionprogram" with groups that favor permitting abortion in order to find "common ground" on the issue, a Catholic member of President Bush's Cabinet said in Hous- ton Aug. 2O. Retired Adm. James D. Watkins, secretary of energy in the Bush administration, made the comments at a re- ception sponsored by Catholics for Bush-Quayle during .the Republican Na- tional Convention. The event had been billed as "salute to Catholic mem- bers of the Bush Cabinet" but others scheduled to attend- Secretary of the Treasury Nicholas Brady, Environmen- tal Protection Agency Admin- istrator William Reilly and former White House Chief of Staff John Sununu -- were no,shows. "Catholics are a very im- portant group to the president and a very important group to the nation," said Watkins, whose son, Father James D. Watkins Jr., is a priest in the Archdiocese of Washington. He described the strong pro-life stand in the Republi- can platform as "critically im- portant to the nation" but said both sides in the abor- tion debate agree on the need to help the "30,000 non-Cau- casian kids that nobody seems to want." The adoption arena needs to be reworked by some "ten- der and compassionate hands," and those can be both pro-life and pro-choice, Watkins said. On the "family values" issue, Watkins said that "the leader that crafts that concept that is most endemic to the Roman Catholic Church should be the one you vote for." be making too much of the maleness of Christ." He said that for the Savior to become a human being "he obviously had to be either male or female. Given the time and culture in which "the Word was made flesh,' male may have been the best choice. But "essential' to sal- vation's story? I don't think so." Bishop Kenny said he was also dissatisfied with the ar- gument that a 2,000-year his- tory of not ordaining women is "evidence of a divine man- date and an unchangeable tradition." "Quite frankly, I believe it would be easier to argue that the practice is an expression of a patriarchal era that tended to view females as in- ferior to males," he said. He said it is one thing to cite as part of the faith a doc- trine which has developed out of "years, even centuries, of reflection, discussion and sometimes controversy." "Simply doing or not doing something does not of itself establish a clear and certain teaching," he said. "In the case of women's ordination, one would be hard put to find any serious and widespread examination prior to this century." A related issue the pro- posed pastoral comes up against, he said, "has to do with church, with how the faith community deals with its most important matters." "The practice now seems to be that once the pope or oven a Roman congregation has spoken, the subject is closed. This seems unhealthy and contrary to our earliest traditions," he said. ops to "drop the pastoral but continue the dialogue." , In place of the pastoral, he said, the bishops should issue a short statement summariz- ing areas they agreed on and acknowledging "underlying issues that still divide us, es- pecially the need for open and honest study of the ordi- nation of women." A debate on whether or not to move ahead toward issuing a pastoral letter was cut short at the June meeting when a number of bishops indicated that they thought it was pre- mature to try to decide that. They wanted to see a new draft first, they said. Another criticism of the third draft was that while it analyzed the evils of sexism at length, it failed to subject some forms of "radical femi- nism" to the same kind of critical analysis. Even two members of the bishops' committee that wrote the third draft publicly criticized it in June. The two -- Archbishop William 1. Levada of Port- laud, Ore., and Auxiliary Bishop Alfred C. Hughes of Boston -- argued especially that there was not a consis" tent Christian anthropology from one chapter to the next. National Catholic Reporter, an independent Catholic weekly based in Kansas City, Me., reported in its Aug. 14 issue that the Vatican haa also sent the writing commit" tee a critique of the third draft. The paper did not re- port the contents of the cri- tique, and officials contacted by Catholic News Service said it was a private docU" ment that would not be re- leased. The paper quoted Bishop Joseph L. Imesch of Joliet, II1., chairman of the writing corn- mittee, as saying that the Vat- ican's latest comments wer0 "in line with the comments, previous suggestions made (by the Vatican) on the earlier draft." 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