Signs of the Times

Nuncio: Religions Must Speak Out Against Violence

Religious leaders must speak out loud and clear against those who try to use sacred texts like the Koran or the Bible to justify violence or human rights violations, the Vaticans nuncio to the United Nations said in a lecture at the University of Notre Dame. Archbishop Celestino Migliore spoke Nov. 15 on Catholicism and Islam: Points of Convergence and Divergence, Encounter and Cooperation. He said the spread of terrorism has triggered a renewed interest in Christian-Islamic dialogue. Its not enough for any religion to say: We have nothing to do with extremists, with fundamentalists; or, extremists do not speak for our respective religions, Archbishop Migliore said. Indeed extremists and fundamentalists do make reference to the same sacred texts; they even dare to portray themselves as the faithful interpreters and keepers of those sacred texts.


Rather, we have to engage those who try to justify their unjustifiable acts of violence and multiform violations of human rights using those same texts and proclaim it loud and clear that those texts do not lend themselves to a reading which leads to violence, he added.

Cardinal Apologizes for Province Leaders Sins

Cardinal Marc Ouellet of Quebec has apologized and asked forgiveness for the sins of past provincial Catholic Church leaders regarding sexual abuse by clergy, discrimination against women and homosexuals, anti-Semitism and racism. In an open letter to the people of Quebec Province issued Nov. 21, the cardinal, who is primate of the Catholic Church in Canada, acknowledged that before 1960 certain Catholics favored anti-Semitism, racism, indifference toward the First Nations and discrimination regarding women and homosexuals. The behavior of Catholics and some episcopal authorities relative to the right to vote, access to work and the advancement of women was not always equal to the needs of society nor even in conformity with the social doctrine of the church, he said. I also acknowledge that abuse of power and counterwitness have tarnished the image of the clergy among many and undermined their moral authority, he said. Youth have suffered sexual abuse by priests and religious, resulting in serious damage and traumas that have shattered their lives. These scandals have shaken the confidence of the people [in] religious authorities, and we understand.

New Bishops in China Have Vatican Approval

The Catholic Church in China is expecting the ordination of three new government-recognized bishops, all in their 40s and with papal approval. The Guangzhou, Ningxia and Yichang dioceses are preparing for the ordinations, reported the Asian church news agency UCA News. The Rev. Francis Lu Shouwang was set to be ordained Nov. 30 at St. Francis Cathedral in Yichang, a city along the Yangtze River in Hebei province. He became diocesan administrator after Bishop Paul Francis Zhang Mingqian of Yichang died in July 2005; diocesan priests, nuns and laypeople elected the priest as a candidate for bishop last December. Farther north, in Ningxia-Hui Autonomous Region, Bishop John Liu Jingshan of Ningxia told UCA News Nov. 19 that he will ordain the Rev. Joseph Li Jing, 40, as his coadjutor. He said the ceremony is tentatively set for Dec. 8, the feast of the Immaculate Conception, at the cathedral in Yinchuan. Media outside mainland China reported that the Rev. Joseph Gan Junqiu may be ordained in early December as bishop of Guangzhou, in southern Chinas Guangdong province. On Nov. 20, Bishop-elect Gan, 43, and other church officials in China told UCA News that no date had been fixed but preparations for the episcopal ordination were under way.

Madden: U.S. Must Take Lead in Peace Efforts

As key leaders from Israel, the Palestinian territories, Saudi Arabia, Syria and other nations gathered in Annapolis on Nov. 26 to 28 for a peace conference on the Middle East and related meetings, local Catholic leaders said they were hopeful the meetings would trigger further discussions for making a lasting peace in the Holy Land. Peace is attainable, they said, but it will take assertive leadership from the United States to make it a reality. Im guardedly optimistic in the sense that Im always happy when theres some kind of negotiation going on in the Middle East, said Bishop Denis J. Madden, an auxiliary bishop and urban vicar for the Archdiocese of Baltimore, Md. Bishop Madden previously served as associate secretary general of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association and director of the Pontifical Mission for Palestine office in Jerusalem. He said the lack of strong leadership from the United States in recent years has been one reason the peace process has stalled. He was hopeful the U.S.-led Annapolis conference would change that. The conference and related meetings included participants from 50 organizations and countries.

Leadership Roundtable Reports Progress

Leaders of an organization working to bring better financial and management practices to church operations shared their progress with more than three dozen Catholic bishops Nov. 13 at a luncheon reception during the bishops fall general meeting in Baltimore, Md. The National Leadership Roundtable on Church Management, established in July 2005, has published three Standards for Excellence booklets outlining codes of ethics and accountability for Catholic dioceses, parishes and nonprofit organizations.

It also worked in partnership with the Archdiocese of New Orleans to help restore Catholic schools following Hurricane Katrina. We have been able to reopen 86 of the 106 schools in operation before the hurricane, including seven regional schools in the areas most devastated by the 2005 disaster, said Archbishop Alfred C. Hughes of New Orleans. Because so many New Orleans public schools still remain closed, he added, 70 percent of our students after Katrina are not Catholic; most come from families living below the poverty level.

Van Kaam, Religious Psychologist, Dies

Adrian van Kaam, a Spiritan priest who was a noted author in the field of formative spirituality and a retired professor at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, died Nov. 17 at age 87. A funeral Mass was celebrated for him Nov. 24 in the Duquesne University chapel, followed by burial at Queen of Heaven Cemetery in Peters Township, Pa.

Father van Kaam was born in The Hague, Netherlands, professed his vows in 1940 at the seminary in Gemert, Netherlands, and was ordained there July 21, 1946. After serving in the Nether-lands for eight years, he moved to the United States and was appointed to the psychology department faculty at Duquesne University, which is run by the Congregation of the Holy Spirit, or the Spiritans. He founded Duquesnes Graduate Institute of Formative Spirituality in 1963 and taught there as a professor until it closed 30 years later. He trained priests, nuns, brothers and laypeople from around the world who worked as directors of seminaries and novitiates.

Oregon Jesuits Near Settlement of Abuse Suits

The attorney for plaintiffs in more than 100 claims of sexual abuse by members of the Catholic clergy announced Nov. 18 a $50 million settlement with the Society of Jesus for cases involving more than a dozen Jesuits posted in Alaska between 1961 and 1987. But John D. Whitney, S.J., superior of the Jesuits Oregon Province, said in a statement that there are still many issues that need to be finalized before it is appropriate to make an official announcement about a settlement. He said the province was disappointed by the announcement by the attorney Ken Roosa of Anchorage, which he described as premature and detrimental to the work of healing about which we are all concerned. The Diocese of Fairbanks is a co-defendant in the cases. Separate lawsuits against the diocese remain unresolved.

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