Signs of the Times

CARA Honors Sister Katarina Schuth for Research on Catholic Seminaries

The Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate honored Katarina Schuth, O.S.F., on Oct. 5 for her extensive research on U.S. Catholic seminaries. Researchers must report their findings with wisdom and accuracy and avoid being co-opted by partisans on either side of an issue, but they must also have compassion and concern for those who will feel the impact of the results of the research, Sister Schuth, a Franciscan, said after receiving the award. She is a professor of the scientific study of religion at St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity of the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn. She is the author of two major studies, published in 1989 and 1999, of U.S. Catholic theologates and seminaries and is co-author of a forthcoming study, Educating Leaders for Ministry: Issues and Responses. She received the Father Louis J. Luzbetak, S.V.D., Award for Exemplary Church Research, named after the Divine Word priest who was CARA’s founding executive director.

Bishops List Agenda Items for November Meeting

When the U.S. bishops meet in November, major items on their agenda will include decisions on a statement about lay ecclesial ministry, a new text of Scripture readings for Masses with children and a new statement calling for an end to the use of the death penalty in the United States. The annual fall meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops will be held in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 14-17. Also on the agenda are the election of a new U.S.C.C.B. general secretary, the election of chairmen-elect for seven U.S.C.C.B. committees and approval of 2006 priorities, plans and budget for the U.S.C.C.B. The proposed statement on lay ecclesial ministry, Co-Workers in the Vineyard of the Lord, is intended as a foundational document on one of the most significant phenomena to emerge in the church since the Second Vatican Councilthe rapid growth of lay ministerial leaders collaborating with the priests and deacons as an integral part of parish and diocesan life.


Election Day 2005 About the Issues, Not the Names

Although a few well-known names will be on state ballots during the off-year elections in 2005, the hot-button issues of same-sex marriage, parental notification before a minor’s abortion and budget cuts promise to generate a great deal more interest on the national level. When Americans go to the polls on Nov. 8, they will elect mayors in 490 cities, including New York and Detroit, where incumbents Michael Bloomberg and Kwame Kilpatrick are seeking re-election. New Jersey voters will elect a governor and State Assembly members, while those in Virginia will choose a governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general and members of the House of Delegates. But in seven states, voters will consider 38 ballot propositions on topics ranging from smoking in public places to medical malpractice to the use of union dues for political purposes and transportation bonds. And as they do in most elections, Catholic leaders are offering guidance on how some of those issues should be decided by voters who follow church teaching.

Boxing Condemned as Attempted Murder

An influential Jesuit magazine condemned professional boxing as a form of legalized attempted murder, saying it has left more than 500 boxers dead over the last 100 years. The magazine, La Civiltà Cattolica, said in an editorial that the moral judgment on boxing can only be gravely and absolutely negative. In addition to suffering extreme violence, boxers are first exploited, then abandoned by huge economic interests and often finish their days punch-drunk and impoverished, it said.

The magazine’s articles are reviewed before publication by the Vatican secretariat of state and are thought to reflect Vatican opinion. The editorial against boxing appeared in the Oct. 15 issue, about three weeks after U.S. boxer Levander Johnson died from brain injuries suffered in a lightweight title fight.

The magazine called Johnson the latest victim of a sport that seems to accept the death of boxers. The dead don’t count for anything in boxing. Instead, what count are the enormous interests that lie behind boxing matches, it said.

Los Angeles Releases Files on Accused Priests

On Oct. 12, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles released personnel files on 126 priests accused of sexually abusing minors. Some of the files go back to the 1930’s. They were released as part of settlement talks with attorneys representing some 560 people who have sued the archdiocese, claiming they were sexually abused as minors by members of the Catholic clergy. The files, posted on the archdiocesan Web site in a 155-page report, show that until recent years the archdiocese often returned accused priests to ministry after treatmenta practice once common in almost all U.S. dioceses. In other cases priests were removed from ministry or laicized. Some priests were already dead when the first allegation of abuse was lodged with the archdiocese.

C.R.S. Sells Free-Trade Chocolate From Ghana

Grown in Ghana and manufactured in England, a socially responsible brand of chocolate is now available through Catholic Relief Services. In October, the Baltimore-based C.R.S., the U.S. bishops’ overseas aid agency, began selling cases of Divine chocolate bars online and over the phone. Touted as fair-trade chocolate, Divine is made with cocoa grown by the 47,000 members of a cocoa farmer’s association in southern Ghana called Kuapa Kokoo. Members are paid a price that covers the cost of producing the cocoa, and they have the security of a long-term trading contract, according to Divine Chocolate’s Web site at In addition, farmers receive a $150 social premium for every ton of cocoa sold, which goes toward improving the farmers’ living standards and farming productivity. Catholic Relief Services sells Divine chocolate online at and by phone at (888) 294-9665.

Synod Groups Draft Helps for Priestless Parishes

Better distribution of the world’s priests was one of the leading suggestions for how the church should respond to priestless parishes in the first drafts of propositions presented by the World Synod of Bishops on Oct. 14. While the idea of ordaining viri probati, or menincluding married menof proven virtue, had been suggested by some at the synod, it failed to reach majority approval in order to be included in the first round of reports coming out of the synod’s 12 working groups. Most reports, which were read in the presence of Pope Benedict XVI, reaffirmed the value of priestly celibacy. One French-language working group report said its members were unanimous in stating the priceless value of priestly celibacy for the Latin church. The French report said vocational pastoral care should be more energetic, positive and open to the gifts of God and noted that better training for priests to help in the missions for a fixed period would help to gradually overcome this shortage.

Synod Against Easing of Celibacy Rules

In a draft list of propositions, the World Synod of Bishops recommended no relaxation of church rules on priestly celibacy and instead proposed greater efforts to promote vocations as the answer to the shortage of priests. The idea of ordaining married men in the Western church is a road not to follow, said Proposition 11, one of 50 propositions presented to the synod on Oct. 18. After possible amendments, the propositions were to be voted on later in the week. Catholic News Service obtained a copy of the propositions, which were read in Latin on the synod floor. The propositions contained proposals on other topics of interest during the meeting of the Synod on the Eucharist from Oct. 2 to 23. Proposition 40 said Catholics who have divorced and civilly remarried without an annulment cannot be admitted to holy Communion because they are in clear contrast with church teaching on marriage. It encouraged other pastoral efforts toward such Catholics. Proposition 46 said there is no eucharistic coherence when Catholic politicians promote laws that go against human good, justice and natural law. It said bishops should exercise prudence on whether specific politicians should receive Communion.

Cardinal Keeler 50 Years a Priest, 25 a Bishop

More than 1,200 cardinals, bishops, priests, deacons, seminarians, religious and laypeople filled the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen in Baltimore, Md., on Oct. 5 to help Cardinal William H. Keeler mark the 50th anniversary of his priestly ordination and his 25th anniversary as a bishop. Joining the Baltimore archbishop for the celebration were Cardinal Anthony J. Bevilacqua, retired archbishop of Philadelphia; Cardinals Francis E. George of Chicago, Adam J. Maida of Detroit and Theodore E. McCarrick of Washington; retired Archbishop William D. Borders of Baltimore; retired Auxiliary Bishop William C. Newman; and Baltimore Auxiliary Bishops W. Francis Malooly, Mitchell T. Rozanski and Denis J. Madden. In his homily, Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of Milwaukee said Cardinal Keeler has moved us all by his kindness, courtesy, intellect and radiant goodness. Cardinal Keeler told the congregation after Communion, I thank the Lord for my years of ministry, and I thank you for helping me celebrate the Lord’s gift of the priesthood.

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12 years ago
It would be a mistake to assume that the recent meeting in Rome of the World Synod of Bishops did very little to alleviate the associated problems of the unavailability of the Holy Eucharist and the shortage of priests (Signs of the Times, 10/31). A decision to go with married priests, suddenly and everywhere, would have been a colossal disturbance. But the ordination of married viri probati was floated at the synod. Married convert ministers are considered such, and are ordained. Therefore, the policy of ordaining viri probati is already in place. This policy can easily be extended, a quantitative change only, to permanent deacons. They, of course, would have to request priestly ordination. There is little reason to think they would not be offered the same treatment as converts. Neither of these groups, by the way, has been involved in the sexual scandal.


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