Signs of the Times

Historian Says Pius XII Should Be Portrayed in Shades Of Gray’

An accurate portrayal of Pope Pius XII in World War II should be done in shades of gray, said Gerald P. Fogarty, S.J. The pope was shaped by his training and experience as a diplomat, and what he said or did not say during the war must be understood in the context of the Holy See’s official policy of impartiality or neutrality with regard to the warring parties, the priest said. Father Fogarty, a professor of religious studies and history at the University of Virginia, is also a member of the international commission that asked that more documents on the war be released from the Vatican archives.

During a lecture on Nov. 5 at Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C., Father Fogarty reminded the audience that the Vatican is not alone in denying or restricting access to diplomatic documents and other sensitive records. He reported that in October, when he visited the National Archives for some research related to the commission’s work on the Vatican during the war, every document I was looking for had this little yellow card. It said, Removed for security purposes, November 1999.’ That was the month the scholars’ commission was formed. Father Fogarty said that according to one of his contacts, the documents were not removed because of a Vatican request, but unilaterally by the C.I.A.


Pope Names U.S. Environmental Scientist to Pontifical Academy

Pope John Paul II named a Nobel prize-winning U.S. chemist known for ground-breaking studies on air pollution and the ozone layer to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. Mario Jose Molina, professor of atmospheric chemistry at the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, demonstrated the persistence in the stratosphere of chlorofluorocarbons produced by human activity and their damaging effect on the ozone layer. In awarding the 1995 Nobel Prize for chemistry to Molina and his colleagues, the Royal Swedish Academy said that they have contributed to our salvation from a global environmental problem that could have catastrophic consequences.

Chicago Black Catholics Examine Parishes, Schools

Faced with infrastructure nightmares, high maintenance costs and a lack of resources, both personnel and financial, delegates from the Archdiocese of Chicago’s 43 predominantly black Catholic parishes met to vote on structural changes in those parishes and their affiliated schools. Representatives of 23 other parishes with vocal or growing black populations also were invited to the event. Any suggested changes will be presented to Cardinal Francis E. George of Chicago for his approval, who told the delegates, There is no hidden agenda. He called on the black Catholics present to be agents of change in this local church.

Black Catholics inherited serious problems along with dozens of large churches as a result of white flight. If you have a church built for 1,000 people and you have 200 people there, the winter heating bill will be something else. It can be a tremendous drain on a parish, said Joyce Gillie, a member of the convocation’s steering committee. Sister Anita Baird of the Daughters of the Heart of Mary, who is the archdiocesan director of the Office for Racial Justice, put it more succinctly: It’s difficult to evangelize when you’re working to pay the light and gas bills.

Auxiliary Bishop Joseph N. Perry of Chicago, one of 12 active U.S. black Catholic bishops, offered delegates three options to consider: redrawing parish boundaries to combine resources and personnel, clustering parishes so those with small memberships would exist under a team of priests, deacons, religious, and lay ecclesial ministers or maintaining the current configuration of parishes, with each independently responsible for its own future.

Given the rocky history of closures and mergers, some found the choices hard to accept, saying they felt singled out and insulted that these decisions were being asked of black Catholics, but not of white-ethnic Catholics or the archdiocese as a whole. Sister Baird said that she believed other groups will form similar convocations. Our brothers and sisters in the Hispanic community, as well as in the Polish community, are looking at this [convocation], she said.

Joseph Taliaferro of St. Gelasius, said a larger number of African-American priests could have prevented this limitation of options. If we had more black priests, we wouldn’t be discussing this today. We’d probably be talking about how to build more parishes, he said. Eight of the 43 predominantly black parishes are headed by black pastors. There are 11 additional African or African-American priests ministering within these parishes.

The future of parish schools brought strong comments from the Rev. John Calicott, pastor of Holy Angels, home of the largest black Catholic school in the nation. Every school in the archdiocese receives some form of subsidies in some way. Let’s set that straight, he said. He questioned whether parish schools are providing the education we say we are, describing religious formation programs in many locations as woefully inadequate today. The pastor said more training, more personnel, more materials and more money could address this problem.

As of June 1999, there were 19,909 black students in archdiocesan elementary schools, only 5,093 of them Catholic. In Catholic high schools, the 3,914 black students were nearly a quarter of all students.

To help come up with recommendations, delegates were asked to consider whether they would support parish schools, including those with a majority non-Catholic student enrollment, retain only those schools with majority Catholic student enrollment and close all others or get out of the school business completely since schools simply drain resources.

Exit Polls Suggest How Catholics Voted in 2000

According to exit polls, Catholics nationally voted by a 50-to-47 margin for Democratic Vice President Al Gore over Republican Gov. George Bush of Texas. Catholic voters gave 2 percent of their votes to the Green Party candidate Ralph Nader and 1 percent to the Reform Party candidate Pat Buchanan. But when only white Catholics were tallied, the shift tilted to Bush’s favor, 52-45, with Nader remaining at 2 percent and Buchanan under 1 percent. The exit polls were conducted by Voter News Service, a cooperative venture of five broadcast news outlets and Associated Press.

Protestants favored Bush by a 55-43 margin, while Catholics, Jews, members of other religions and those with no religious affiliation chose Gore. A Gallup Poll, based on an aggregate of six days of phone polling between Oct. 31 and Nov. 5, had predicted a nationwide 45-45 split in Catholic votes between Bush and Gore, with 5 percent going to Nader.

Catholics have voted for the eventual presidential winner all the way back to 1972, when Richard Nixon won re-election. In 1968 they voted for Hubert Humphrey. Because Catholics have proven such an accurate predictor in presidential politics, their value as a swing vote to be courted has risen.

The V.N.S. exit polling data also showed that the more respondents of all faiths went to religious services, the more they voted for Bush. Those going more frequently than once a week gave Bush a 63-30 edge, and those going weekly went 57-40 for Bush. But those who went to church only monthly were 51-46 for Gore. Those who said they seldom went to church were in Gore’s camp by a 54-42 margin, and those who said they never went to church were 61-32 for Gore.

In the key state of Florida, exit polling counted Catholics as making up 26 percent of the electorate, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. Of those Catholics, 52 percent voted for Bush, 44 percent for Gore, 2 percent for Nader and 1 percent for Buchanan.

In most states, Catholics voted with the majority of their fellow citizens. Although the margin of error in state polls makes some of the survey results uncertain, it appears Catholics went against the majority in Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Indiana, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire and West Virginia, where the majority voted for Bush. Catholics also voted against the majority in Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey and Vermont, where the majority voted for Gore.

On statewide voucher questions decided on Election Day, California Catholics voted 66-34 against vouchers and Michigan Catholics voted 64-36 against them, according to V.N.S. Both ballot measures lost. Michigan’s bishops sent three letters to the state’s Catholics urging their support of the voucher proposal, while the California Catholic Conference remained neutral on that state’s voucher plan.

On measures to ban same-sex marriages, Nebraska Catholics voted 74-26 to ban them, and Nevada Catholics voted 70-30 to place an existing ban in the state constitution. Both proposals passed. Nebraska’s bishops had strongly favored the ban. In Nevada, the bishops remained neutral on the constitutional question. Maine Catholics voted 55-45 against a measure to ban discrimination against gays and lesbians, a measure the state’s Catholic bishops supported but that ultimately failed.

S.O.A. Foes Look for Formal Support From U.S. Bishops

With nearly 300 U.S. and Latin American bishops urging that the School of the Americas be closed, the founder of the movement against the Army school called it a scandal’’ that the U.S. bishops’ conference has not formally joined the effort. There was some discussion among the U.S. bishops at their national meeting a year ago about such a resolution, but a proposal was not put forward. As opponents of the U.S.-run training program for Latin American militaries at Fort Benning, Ga., prepared for their annual mass demonstration at the school on Nov. 18 and 19, Roy Bourgeois, a Maryknoll priest, said that as a priest he is saddened by the bishops’ lack of formal support for the grass-roots movement. More than 150 of the 400 U.S. bishops have signed a resolution calling for the school to be closed. Another 140 bishops from Latin America have sent letters supporting the campaign.

Just before the close of the U.S. bishops’ meeting in November 1999, Bishop Raymond A. Lucker of New Ulm, Minn., asked why the International Policy Committee had recommended that the bishops not take a position on closing the school. Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick of Newark, N.J., then-outgoing International Policy Committee chairman, said the committee was unable to reach a consensus on a stand and recommended that the conference take a wait-and-see attitude about then-newly proposed changes in the school. The Pentagon plans to rename the School of the Americas as the Institute for Professional Military Education and Training. Changes to the curriculum are supposed to emphasize fighting drug trafficking and to increase emphasis on human rights. But Charles Currie, S.J., the president of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities, said it is essentially impossible to reform such a fatally flawed operation.’’ Father Currie said about 800 students, representing all of the 28 U.S. Jesuit universities and colleges would be participating in the rally and in a three-day social justice educational program at Fort Benning.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.


The latest from america

Native American protestors hold hands with parishioner Nathanial Hall, right, during a group prayer outside the Catholic Diocese of Covington on Jan. 22, 2019, in Covington, Ky. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
The furor over a chance meeting between Catholic high school students and Native American protesters underscores the need to listen and learn from indigenous voices.
Marlene LangJanuary 23, 2019
The staggering parliamentary defeat for Prime Minister Theresa May, seen here leaving 10 Downing Street on Jan. 23, pushed the country even further from safe dry land. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
After the stunning defeat of Theresa May's exit deal, Scotland is looking anew at independence, and the U.K. government fears economic disaster.
David StewartJanuary 23, 2019
Michael Osborne, a film director, documents the damage from a mud slide next to his home in Los Angeles on Jan. 18, after three days of heavy rain. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
The conceit of California-as-disaster-movie is ridiculous. But maybe watching our fires and mudslides helps other states consider both their own fragility and their underlying strength.
Jim McDermottJanuary 23, 2019
A commitment to religious liberty demands that effort be devoted to resolving, rather than exacerbating, any real or apparent tension between religious obligation and civil duty.
The EditorsJanuary 23, 2019