Signs of the Times

Israeli Cabinet Votes to Halt Construction of Nazareth Mosque

The Israeli Security Cabinet voted 4 to 1 in favor of halting construction on a mosque adjacent to the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth [see Am., 2/12/01]. Meeting on Jan. 9, the cabinet instructed one of its members, Natan Sharansky, to find an alternate site for the structure in Nazareth within two weeks, according to news reports. We don’t expect the Islamic Movement to cooperate, said David Parsons, spokesman for the International Coalition for Nazareth, noting that the movement already had ignored a three-week-old court order to stop construction.

Up to 27 U.S. Bishops Could Retire This Year for Age Reasons

As many as 27 U.S. bishops could retire in 2002 because they are at or beyond the retirement age of 75. [Update: The number is now 26 since Archbishop Francis B. Schulte of New Orleans retired Jan. 3]. By church law, at age 75 a bishop is requested to present his resignation to the pope. The pope may refuse it or delay accepting it, and Pope John Paul II often keeps bishops active beyond their 75th birthday. Cardinal Anthony J. Bevilacqua of Philadelphia, who turned 78 last June, is the oldest of all the currently active cardinals, archbishops and bishops in the United States and one of 10 who are still active after the age of 75. Cardinal Edmund C. Szoka, president of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State, is one of the 17 active U.S. bishops who will celebrate their 75th birthday in 2002.


The other active U.S. bishops who were already 75 when the new year started are:

  • Auxiliary Bishop Leonard J. Olivier of Washington, a priest since 1951 and bishop since 1988. He turned 75 Oct. 12, 1998.
  • Auxiliary Bishop Thad J. Jakubowski of Chicago, a priest since 1950 and bishop since 1988. He turned 75 April 5, 1999.
  • Lithuanian-born Bishop Paulius A. Baltakis, based in Brooklyn, N.Y., as bishop of Lithuanian Catholics outside Lithuania, who has been a priest since 1952 and a bishop since 1984. He turned 75 Jan. 1, 2000.
  • Milwaukee-born Archbishop Charles A. Schleck, in Vatican service as adjunct secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and president of the Pontifical Missionary Works, who has been a priest since 1951 and archbishop since 1995. He turned 75 July 5, 2000.
  • Auxiliary Bishop John R. Gorman of Chicago, a priest since 1952 and bishop since 1988. He turned 75 Dec. 11, 2000.
  • Bishop William R. Houck of Jackson, Miss., a priest since 1951, bishop since 1979 and head of the Jackson Diocese since 1984. He turned 75 June 26, 2001.
  • Auxiliary Bishop John J. Glynn of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, a priest since 1951 and a bishop since 1992. He turned 75 Aug. 6, 2001.
  • Bishop Gilbert I. Sheldon of Steubenville, Ohio, a priest since 1953, bishop since 1976 and head of the Steubenville Diocese since 1992. He turned 75 Sept. 20, 2001.
  • Archbishop Francis B. Schulte of New Orleans turned 75 on Dec. 23. A priest since 1952 and bishop since 1981, he had led the New Orleans Archdiocese since 1989. Last May he received a coadjutor, Archbishop Alfred C. Hughes, who automatically succeeds him when he retired Jan. 3.

Besides Cardinal Szoka, the other 16 active bishops who will turn 75 in 2002 are:

  • March 13: Auxiliary Bishop Dominic A. Marconi of Newark, N.J., a priest since 1953 and bishop since 1976.
  • April 2: Archbishop Rembert G. Weakland of Milwaukee, a priest since 1951, abbot primate of the world Benedictine Confederation from 1967 to 1977 and archbishop of Milwaukee since 1977.
  • April 13: Bishop William H. Bullock of Madison, Wis., a priest since 1952, bishop since 1980 and head of the Madison Diocese since 1993.
  • June 25: Bishop Stephen Hector Doueihi of St. Maron of Brooklyn for the Maronites, a priest since 1955 and bishop of his diocese since 1997.
  • July 1: Auxiliary Bishop Joseph M. Sartoris of Los Angeles, a priest since 1953 and bishop since 1994.
  • Aug. 1: Bishop Anthony G. Bosco of Greensburg, Pa., a priest since 1952, bishop since 1970 and head of the Greensburg Diocese since 1987.
  • Aug. 5: Bishop James C. Timlin of Scranton, Pa., a priest since 1951, bishop since 1976 and head of the Scranton Diocese since 1984.
  • Aug. 14: Auxiliary Bishop Roger L. Kaffer of Joliet, Ill., a priest since 1954 and bishop since 1985.
  • Aug. 24: Bishop Daniel A. Hart of Norwich, Conn., a priest since 1953, bishop since 1976 and head of the Norwich Diocese since 1995.
  • Aug. 30: Bishop William G. Curlin of Charlotte, N.C., a priest since 1957, bishop since 1988 and head of the Charlotte Diocese since 1994.
  • Aug. 30: Ruthenian Bishop Andrew Pataki of Passaic, N.J., a priest since 1952, bishop since 1983 and head of the Passaic Diocese since 1995.
  • Sept. 23: Bishop Thomas V. Daily of Brooklyn, N.Y., a priest since 1952, bishop since 1975 and head of the Brooklyn Diocese since 1990.
  • Oct. 15: Auxiliary Bishop Raymond E. Goedert of Chicago, a priest since 1952 and bishop since 1991.
  • Oct. 25: Bishop Frank J. Rodimer of Paterson, N.J., a priest since 1951 and head of the Paterson Diocese since 1978.
  • Nov. 14: Archbishop Daniel A. Cronin of Hartford, Conn., a priest since 1952, bishop since 1968 and head of the Hartford Archdiocese since 1992.
  • Nov. 27: Auxiliary Bishop Joseph J. Madera of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, a priest since 1957 and bishop since 1980.

Bishops Cannot Require Priests to Use Altar Girls

In an English-language document, the Vatican said bishops cannot require their priests to use female altar servers. While upholding bishops’ authority to permit the use of female servers in their dioceses, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments said the use of male servers should be especially encouraged, in part because altar boys are a potential source of priestly vocations. The document, a letter dated July 27 responding to a query from an unidentified bishop, was published in late December in Notitiae, the congregation’s bulletin.

Three U.S. Bishops Resign From Board of Food for the Poor

Three U.S. bishops have resigned from the board of Food for the Poor and another has urged priests in his archdiocese not to raise funds for the organization, which collects millions of dollars yearly for anti-hunger projects in the Caribbean and Latin America. Several of the bishops cited lack of church oversight of the nonprofit organization and lack of control as to how funds are used. Robin G. Mahfood, president of Food for the Poor, said the bishops resigned after the majority of the board of directors refused to make changes that would have put the organization directly under the control of the Archdiocese of Miami. The changes would seriously limit our scope and mission as an international charity, Mahfood said. One bishop who resigned, Auxiliary Bishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami, said that we were window dressing, not a governing board. He said that having bishops on the board lent Catholic credibility to the organization without letting us have the clout behind that responsibility.

Indian Archbishop Urges Alternative to War

The archbishop of Delhi has urged the Indian government to consider all options before going to war with Pakistan as tensions rose between the neighboring countries. Archbishop Vincent M. Concessao, speaking at an interreligious prayer service in Sacred Heart Cathedral in Delhi, said the poor suffer the brunt of war. War is in nobody’s interest, and there are no victors but only losers in a war. It is humanity that loses out, and it is the poorest people who get the brunt of it, the archbishop said. Only love can overcome hatred. Violence breeds more violence, he said.

Treasury Secretary Meets with Bishops’ Policy Committee

U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Paul H. O’Neill met with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ International Policy Committee on Dec. 17. Among participants were Cardinal Bernard F. Law of Boston, the committee chairman, and Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick of Washington, a committee member and former chairman. The 45-minute discussion focused mainly on development assistance but touched on a range of related issues including debt relief, globalization and international trade, said Gerard F. Powers, director of international justice and peace for the U.S.C.C.B.

Catholic Academy of Liturgy

A new association of Catholic specialists in liturgy was established by 80 founding members at a meeting on Jan. 3, 2002. The group’s purpose is to promote research, publication and dialogue concerning Catholic liturgy in East and West, past and present. Named the Catholic Academy of Liturgy, its members voted to advance the liturgical renewal of the Second Vatican Council by devoting their professional expertise to this task. The first elected leader is Andrew Ciferni, a Norbertine father, of Philadelphia.

Draft of National Directory for Catechesis Sent to Bishops

The first draft of a new national directory for catechesis was sent to all U.S. bishops on Jan. 4. The directory will be a basic statement of what should be done in religious education in the United States. It adapts and applies to the United States the church’s General Directory for Catechesis, which Pope John Paul II approved in 1997. It also draws extensively on the Catechism of the Catholic Church, issued by the pope in 1992. When completed, the new national directory will replace the National Catechetical Directory approved by the bishops in 1977 and published in 1979.

Like the earlier directory, the new one will serve as a guide for all those who have catechetical responsibilities in U.S. dioceses and parishes, especially those responsible for organizing and supervising diocesan and parish catechetical programs. Archbishop Alfred C. Hughes of New Orleans, chairman of the five-bishop editorial oversight board that will supervise the writing of the directory, said in a cover letter that the national consultation on the draft text is to be carried out from January to April.

More than 150 dioceses have named consultation coordinators, who will organize local meetings of diocesan and parish catechetical officials and others to discuss and critique the draft. They have been asked to convene their consultant groups in one to three meetings of five to six hours each for in-depth small-group and plenary sessions on the directory.

Included at the end of each section of the draft text is a boxed set of evaluation questions, asking the readers to judge the section on overall quality, tone, readability and balance between theoretical content and practical directives. Open-ended questions ask readers to suggest additions or deletions in each section or to make other comments on it.

The general structure of the new national directory closely parallels that of its predecessor. It is divided into 10 chapters plus a preface, introduction and conclusion.

The first chapter, Proclaiming the Gospel in the United States, bears concrete witness to the reason for fleshing out and implementing the church’s General Directory for Catechesis through national directories. It looks at the cultural diversity of U.S. Catholics and key characteristics of U.S. society and culture that must be taken into account in teaching the faith and developing effective programs of faith formation. It discusses how the catechetical task is affected by such factors as the American concept of freedom, including religious freedom, the impact of science and technology, globalization and population mobility, the diversity of religions in the United States and the cultural diversity found within the Catholic community. It also highlights aspects of U.S. culture that present special challenges for catechesis: the marginalization of religious values, the rich-poor gap, rapid social change, the explosion of materialism, consumerism and information in popular culture, stresses on family life and the erosion of some fundamental values.

The second chapter focuses on the role of catechesis in the church’s mission of evangelization, the third on the basic framework and content of catechesis. The fourth speaks about how God reveals himself to humans and the variety of human means by which the church transmits that revelation. The relationship of catechesis to liturgy and prayer is explored in the fifth chapter, with special emphasis on the catechesis involved in preparation to receive the sacraments. Chapter 6 discusses personal and social moral formation and Christian discipleship. It includes extensive discussion on how principles of Catholic social teaching are to be made an integral part of moral formation.

Chapter 7, on the diverse settings of catechesis, stresses the different approaches needed for catechesis at different stages of life. It also addresses catechesis for people with special needs or in particular life situations and in the context of ecumenical and interreligious dialogue. Chapter 8, Those Who Catechize, deals with the catechetical roles of bishops, diocesan staff, pastors, deacons, seminarians, parish catechetical leaders, catechists, Catholic schools and their staff, parents and others.

Organizing Catechetical Ministry is the topic of Chapter 9. Besides diocesan structures and parish and school programs, it addresses programs for family-centered or home-based catechesis, the baptismal catechumenate, small Christian communities, catechizing people with disabilities and programs for students in colleges, universities and seminaries.

The last chapter treats catechetical resourcesScripture, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, other catechisms or catechetical texts, other instructional materials and the use of computers and electronic and print media in catechesis.

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