Report Says Hunger Can Be Halved in 15 Years
A new report from the Bread for the World Institute says world hunger can be cut in half over the next 15 years with the help of an extra U.S. contribution of $1 billion per year to nutrition programs. The trends in hunger eradication are promising, said the report, A Program to End Hunger, released on Feb. 10 by the institute, which works closely with Bread for the World, a Christian citizens’ anti-hunger movement. The proportion of hungry people in the developing world has dropped from one-third to less than one-fifth since 1970. The absolute number has also declined in spite of there being 2 billion more people to feed, it said. The number of hungry people was estimated at 791 million in 1997.
Australian Bishops’ Rules for Complaints about Theologians
Catholics may lodge complaints against theologians in Australia alleged to have contravened church teaching under rules just published by Australia’s Catholic bishops. The Examination of Theological Orthodoxy, approved by the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference in April 1999, was published in the January edition of the quarterly periodical, the Australasian Catholic Record.
The secretary of the bishops’ committee for doctrine and morals, Bishop David Walker of Broken Bay, said the policy had been in preparation for up to three years in consultations with Australia’s professional associations of Catholic doctrinal and moral theologians. Bishop Walker said the associations had agreed with the policy.
When a bishop receives a complaint from any member of the church, the policy states, he is to explore every reasonable measure whereby a satisfactory pastoral resolution may be found. If that fails, the bishop may choose to avail himself of the assistance of either the bishops’ committee for doctrine and morals or a panel of expert theologians. The experts are to determine exactly what was said or written and the meaning of the theologian in the context of the theologian’s approach and methodology.
Then, the policy said, the experts evaluate whether the text is in conformity with the doctrine of the church. The experts’ report is sent to the bishop who then makes his judgment. If the theologian refuses to accept the decision of the bishop...the bishop may initiate in accordance with the norms of canon law an administrative or judicial procedure against the theologian, said the policy.
Church Leaders Encourage Minorities to Be Part of Census
For many people in the African-American and Hispanic communities, participating in the 2000 U.S. census is not a high priority. Because of deep-rooted suspicion of the federal government found in the two urban minority communities, many will actually go out of their way to avoid the census altogether. But undercounting minorities can affect distribution of more than $100 billion in federal funds for school lunch programs, urban planning, poverty services and countless other initiativesnot to mention representation in Congress.
To make African Americans and Hispanics more at ease with the census, the National Black Catholic Congress and the Hispanic Apostolate have established a partnership with the federal government. The black Catholic congress has already held regional meetings with census officials in San Francisco, Kansas City, Pittsburgh and Jackson, Miss., to encourage its members to educate African Americans about the importance of the census.
In Baltimore, the National Black Catholic Congress is encouraging the 16 predominantly African-American parishes of Baltimore to insert census flyers in their bulletins. It is urging parishioners to consider taking jobs as enumerators, who will visit homes in the inner cities to make the population count. The organization is also urging Catholic schools to inform students about the census so they will take home a positive message about it to their families.
Murphy-O’Connor Named Archbishop of Westminster
Bishop Cormac Murphy-O’Connor has been appointed archbishop of Westminster, succeeding the late Cardinal George Basil Hume. The appointment ended months of speculation following the death of Cardinal Hume in June. Archbishop Murphy-O’Connor, 67, has been bishop of Arundel and Brighton since November 1977. The Tablet of London once described him as everyone’s favorite bishop: human, genial, collaborative, imposing. Collaboration has always been foremost in my ministry so far, and it will continue to be so in the years ahead, the archbishop said. He is known in his diocese and beyond as Bishop Cormac. He has been the Catholic chairman of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission since 1982.
World Catholic Population Up, Number of Priests Rises
The number of Catholics reached 1.045 billion in 1998, about 17.4 percent of the global population, according to the recently released pontifical yearbook. The number of Catholics represented a new high, up about 40 million from 1997, and the percentage of the global population marked a slight increase, too. The Americas, considered as a single continent by the Vatican, had the strongest concentration of Catholics in the general population, with 63.1 percent. It was followed by Europe with 41.4 percent, Oceania with 26.9 percent, Africa with 15.6 percent and Asia with 3.1 percent.
The statistics showed a slight increase in the number of priests worldwide, which went from 404,208 in 1997 to 404,626 in 1998. The number of seminarians also rose, from 109,171 in 1997 to 109,828 in 1998.
Outcry Aids Release of Mexican Students After Police Raid
Protests across Mexico and an outcry from church and human rights groups led to the release of most students arrested after a police raid on the country’s largest university. By Feb. 11, authorities said, of 745 people arrested in a police raid on the National Autonomous University of Mexico on Feb. 6, 85 remained in jail on charges of theft and rioting.
Students protesting a proposed tuition increase had occupied the main campus of the university, several of its buildings and the university’s network of senior high schools across Mexico City. While several Mexican bishops expressed approval of a police action to recover the university from the striking students, several also called for the release of prisoners and amnesty for all but those facing serious charges. Most of the arrests took place after about 2,500 police wearing full riot gear but under orders not to use firearms entered the main university campus Feb. 6. Warrants were issued later for about 400 other student leaders, some of whom have gone into hiding.
Pentecostals, Catholics Can Help Each Other Learn
African-American Pentecostal communities and the Catholic Church can help each other be moved by the Spirit, but still be grounded in tradition, said a U.S. Pentecostal bishop. We get an appreciation for history and order, government and structure from the Catholics, and they learn from us a keen sense of the awareness of the Spirit, said Bishop J. Delano Ellis, presiding bishop of the United Pentecostal Churches of Christ. Bishop Ellis led about 160 participants in the Joint College of African-American Pentecostal Bishops to a special meeting in Rome on Feb. 7-15.
Bishop Ellis said black Pentecostals are rediscovering the hierarchy, more formalized liturgy and clearly articulated church law while Catholics are rediscovering practices like baptism by immersion and Bible study. The Spirit works better in order, he said. Disorder displeases God. Any church that is all Spirit will blow up. Any church that is all Word will dry up. But a church that is both will grow up, he said.
Milwaukee School-Choice Program Racially Mixed
A Wisconsin audit shows that the racial composition of students participating in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program is almost exactly the same as that of the Milwaukee public schools. The report states that 62.4 percent of the choice students are African-American, nearly identical with the 61.4 percent in the city’s public schools. One of the chief objections to the Milwaukee program has been the claim that the majority of the school-choice students would be white.
Currently, 7,996 student are enrolled in 91 participating private schools, which will receive an estimated $38.9 million in tuition payments for the 1999-2000 school year. To be eligible for the Milwaukee voucher program, a family’s income must be at or below 175 percent of poverty level, or about $26,000 for a family of four.
Of the parents surveyed for the report, 71 percent said they used their tuition payments for a private school because they believed it would provide higher educational standards. Other reasons for choosing private schools included good teachers (70 percent) and safe and orderly classrooms (68 percent).
Richard A. McCormick, Jesuit Moralist and Author, Dies
Richard A. McCormick, S.J., a leading U.S. Catholic moral theologian of the 20th century, died of respiratory failure Feb. 12 at age 77. Father McCormick was the author of scores of articles on moral questions, including over 50 articles for America. He was author, 1966-84, and a co-author, 1985-87, of Notes on Moral Theology, a thematic survey of current moral theology literature that appeared each year in Theological Studies.
A specialist in medical ethics, from the 1960’s through the 1990’s Father McCormick was one of the key figures in scores of far-reaching ethical debates over new medical technology, especially in the genetic, reproductive and end-of-life areas. A prolific author and popular lecturer, he spent most of his teaching and research career in moral theology at three institutions: Jesuit School of Theology in Chicago (1957-74), Georgetown University (1974-86) and the University of Notre Dame (1986-99).