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November 15, 1991     The Message
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November 15, 1991

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2 e Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana November 15, Discussion opens on bishops' teaching ministry, priests' cou By JERRY F1LTEAU Catholic News Service WASHINGTON (CNS) The U.S. Catholic bishops opened discussion Nov. 11 of documents on the teaching ministry of bishops and on priests' councils which they were to vote on later in the week. Archbishop Oscar H. Lip- scomb of Mobile, Ala., chair- man of the Committee on Doctrine, which wrote the statement on bishops' teach- ing, described it as basically a reflection "by bishops to bishops," but comments from the floor quickly highlighted its potential impact on a wide range of controversies within the church. Auxiliary Bishop Austin B. Vaughan of New York said he feared that the section on the- ological dissent could be used to argue that moral the- ologian Father Charles Curran was right in his conflict with Rome over some of his teach- ings. Archbishop Lipscomb said he believed that if the pro- posed document were in place before Father Curran was disciplined by the Vati- can and told he could not teach as a Catholic theolo- gian, the priest would not have been able to claim, as he did, that his. position on rights of theological dissent had the support of the U.S. hierarchy. Reaction mixed to Magic Johnson's announcement BY LAUP, J[E HANSEN Catholic News Service Archbishop Francis T. Hur- ley of Anchorage, Alaska, ex- pressed concern that the doc- ument did not say enough about the learning role of the bishops. What the bishops learn from ecumenical dia- logue with other churches and what they learn from lis- tening to the laity plays an important part in their teach- ing ministry, he said. Archbishop Lipscomb said each of the concerns raised by the Alaska prelate could be material for an additional chapter, but in successive drafts over five years the committee had to narrow the document down to focus on chief concerns that the bish- ops wanted to address. Bishop Raymond A. Lucker of New Ulm, Minn., asked if a section outlining different levels of authority would not be helped by giving examples of teachings that fit into those categories. When Archbishop Lip- scomb said there had been at- tempts to give such examples at earlier stages, but they were dropped because it could be a source of confu- sion, Bishop Lucker asked if that wasn't "begging the ques- tion." What people want to know is what level of authority spe- cific church teachings have, he said, and he thought it would be helpful to include more specific guidance for people. The proposed document, ti- tled "Tile Teaching Ministry of the Diocesan Bishop: A Pastoral Reflection," says that the bishops' teaching office is not just a necessary function for the good government of the church, but "part of the saving work of God in his- tory." "The pope and the bishops are empowered to teach not by their personal gifts, but by the Holy Spirit given in ordi- nation," it says. It describes the doctrinal and theological understand- ing of a bishop's teaching au- thority, different kinds and levels of teaching, the partic- ular cultural situation affect- ing the exercise of teaching authority in the United States, and various issues sur- rounding dissent from church teaching or non-acceptance of it. "Any rejection of authorita- tive church teaching is a seri- ous matter," it says. But it de- scribes different levels of rejection and argues that the response of the bishop must take into account a number of factors such as the impor- tance of the teaching, the de- gree of authority it enjoys and the form of rejection. Even public dissent, it says, may take "a number of forms," and factors such as the "effect of this dissent on tile church at large" must be taken into account in deter- mining the appropriate pas- toral response of the bishop. But in the final analysis, it says, "the leadership in the church cannot evade an au- thoritative decision; the final pastoral judgment ... lies with the bishops, whose office en- tails this responsibility." The proposed statement on I Cnlhollc Church priests' councils, ti "United in Service: tions on the Presby t Council," was Bishop Donald W. Wu' Pittsburgh, head of the mittee on Priestly Life Ministry. The document priests' councils fror perspectives: their development, their cal basis, the legal aspects of such cils, and practical establishing and effective priests' It says the priests' "is an expression of the found sacramental unic exists between the and his priests" aT "great value in the life church." One of the most elements of an priests' council it "trust between and the council, members of the between the council presbyterate." GOOD SHEPHERD CATHOLIC CHURCH 2301 N. Stockwell Road, Evansville, IN 47715 SPORTS CAR RAFFLE WASHINGTON (CNS)w Basketball star Earvin "Magic" Johnson's announce- ment that he is infected with the HIV virus and that he will teach young people about "safe sex" prompted a mix of sympathy, kudos and criti- cism from church ethicists and a nun who works in AIDS ministry. "He says he wants to pro- mote safe sex among young- sters. Youngsters? What are we talking about? Youngsters ought not to be engaging in sex," said Sister Jean DeBlois in a Nov. 8 telephone inter- view. Sister DeBlois, a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet, is associate director of the Cen- ter for Health Care Ethics at St. Louis University Medical Ctmter in St. Louis. But Divine Providence Sis- ter Marilyn Bergt, director of the AIDS Interfaith Network in Detroit, praised the basket- ball star's decision to speak out on the subject. "Everybody knows the only sure way (to avoid AIDS) is abstinence. But anyone with a conscience knows that some kids don't listen. If (youngsters) are going to be active," she said, they should be taught to take precautions against AIDS, acquired, im- mune deficiency syndrome. "I practice safe sex by not participating," commented Dominican Father Albert Moraczewski, director of a medical-moral center. 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