Consultations Shape Future of Church in New Orleans After Hurricane Katrina
Following the devastation inflicted by Hurricane Katrina, the Archdiocese of New Orleans, La., has begun to plan its rebuilding. Prior to Katrina, the archdiocese numbered 491,000 Catholics. Questions facing the planners include: how many Catholics will return to the ruined city, how many can be expected to live there five or 10 years from now, how many parishes will they need to serve them?
Among those posing these questions is Michael Jacques, the Edmundite priest who was head of the archdiocese’s council of deans. Father Jacques also is pastor of St. Peter Claver Church. Claver, a powerhouse inner-city parish with a thriving, cross-city congregation, was recently named one of the outstanding parishes in the country.
As head of the deans’ council, Father Jacques is leading an accelerated planning process that will help define the Archdiocese of New Orleans for the next century. Twelve deaneries, or regional parish groupings, are participating in the planning effort.
Conversion Is Key to Ecumenical Dialogue
Openness to conversion is the key to authentic ecumenical dialogue, a Jesuit theologian said on Oct. 20 in an address in Washington, D.C., marking the 40th anniversary of the North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation. The real question that stands before our churches is not whether they are ready to talk about unity, but whether they really desire that unity enough to let our dialogue change us in profound, yet unforeseen ways, said Brian E. Daley, S.J., a member of the North American dialogue since 1982. For the Catholic Church, he said, growth toward ecumenical unity must unquestionably involve the readiness to accept new forms of synodal decision-making and teaching that will be more complex, more mutual, more inclusive and less centralized than is conceivable within the classical modern model of papal primacy.
In his talk, Father Daley also paid tribute to the late John F. Long, a Jesuit theologian, ecumenist and longtime Vatican official who for decades was one of the world’s leading Catholic experts on Orthodoxy. Father Long, 80, died in September. Before his death, consultation members had been planning to surprise him at the meeting by awarding him a medal for his contributions to Catholic-Orthodox dialogue nationally and internationally. John, a modest man, with his inveterate instinct for avoiding public recognition, seems to have chosen or to have been chosen by God to elude our honors, Father Daley said.
He recalled that in the 1960’s and 70’s in the Vatican’s Secretariat (now Pontifical Council) for Promoting Christian Unity, it was Father Long and Pierre Dupré, of the White Fathers and later a bishop, who educated the secretariat’s president, Cardinal Augustin Bea, S.J., and his successor, Cardinal Jan Willebrands, on the complexities of the Orthodox world. He said that Father Long, the boy from Brooklyn who spoke perfect Russian, was for years the Catholic official most trusted by Metropolitan Nikodim of Leningrad, the chief ecumenical representative of the Moscow Patriarchate.
Plan Would Separately Incorporate Parishes
The Diocese of Spokane, Wash., proposes to have each of its parishes separately incorporated under a reorganization plan it submitted on Oct. 10 to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Spokane. As an alternative, it proposes trust agreements declaring that while legal title to parish properties belongs to the diocese, beneficial interest in those properties belongs to the parishes. In August Judge Patricia Williams ruled that under the current legal structure of the diocese, parish properties belong to the diocese itself, for its own beneficial interest, and they are part of the assets subject to the bankruptcy proceedings. The diocese has appealed that ruling, and some legal observers believe the case is likely to end up in the U.S. Supreme Court, because the stakesconstitutional and financialare so high. The Spokane Diocese, facing millions of dollars in claims from childhood victims of sexual abuse by members of the Catholic clergy, filed for bankruptcy protection last December.
Deacon’s Cure Could Be Miracle for Newman
Catholic officials said the cure of a Boston deacon could be the miracle that paves the way for the beatification of a 19th-century English cardinal. The unnamed deacon from Boston is said to have made a complete recovery from a crippling spinal condition after invoking the intercession of John Henry Newman, the Anglican vicar who shocked Victorian England with his conversion to the Catholic faith and later became a cardinal. The cardinal’s cause was opened in 1958 in Birmingham, England, where he spent much of his life, and he was declared venerable in 1991. Claims of the miracle were announced on Oct. 17 at Rome’s English College.
The Rev. Paul Chavasse, the postulator of Cardinal Newman’s cause, said that a couple of years ago officials received a report of the cure of the Boston deacon. I am not at liberty to give the name of this man, who had been suffering from severe spinal problems and who has now recovered as a result of the intercession of the Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman, Father Chavasse said. This man has now returned to full health and mobility. I have spoken with him and the doctors who treated him, and they have no explanation for his cure.
Confirmation Restored to Place Before Communion
Bishop álvaro Corrada of Tyler, Tex., has restored the sacrament of confirmation to its original place before first Communion, allowing Catholics in the Diocese of Tyler to celebrate more fully the sacrament of the Eucharist. "The place to make your commitment to the Catholic Church is in the Eucharist, not in confirmation," the bishop said in a letter of Oct. 7 titled "Pastoral Reflection on the Sacrament of Confirmation." "The sacraments draw humanity into the truth and love of God revealed in Christ, thereby disposing the faithful to live this love more deeply in their daily lives of Christian freedom and witness," the bishop said. "The relation of baptism and confirmation to the Eucharist becomes clear; each prepares a person to take his appointed place within the life of the church. This reordering of the sacrament is not an unusual practice," according to Bishop Corrada. "A good number of dioceses in the United States, Canada and Europe have reordered the sacraments to go back to the usual way, which is baptism, confirmation and the Eucharist," he said.
Nuncio Urges Education, Empowerment of Women
The papal representative to the United Nations called for education and empowerment of women to reverse the increasing "feminization of poverty." Archbishop Celestino Migliore, apostolic nuncio to the international body, spoke on Oct. 13 before a U.N. committee considering follow-up actions to the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing. "Despite some positive advancement in the condition of women in today’s world, vulnerability remains a constant in women’s lives," the archbishop said, citing violence against women, human trafficking, illiteracy and poverty. More and more, we are made aware of the fact that investment in the education of girls is the fundamental key to the full advancement of women, Archbishop Migliore said. Equally important, he said, is attention to increasing women’s access to and control over productive resources and capital through microcredit programs and other projects that empower women.
Hong Kong Bishop Calls Ordinations Breakthroug
The recent ordinations of Chinese bishops with the explicit approval of both the Vatican and Beijing were a breakthrough in relations between the two sides, said a Hong Kong bishop. Although officially China and the Vatican have no diplomatic ties, the recent ordinations of at least two Chinese bishops represent signs that things are moving, said Hong Kong Bishop Joseph Zen Ze-kiun.
Bishop Paul He Zeqing’s ordination was the most recent; he was consecrated auxiliary bishop of Wanxian on Oct. 18. According to AsiaNews, an Italian missionary news agency, Bishop He was the third bishop to be consecrated with Vatican approval into the official or government-supported church in China in a public ceremony. The Wanxian bishop told people attending the ceremony that the ordination was taking place with the approval of the Vatican, the Rome-based news agency reported on Oct. 19. Bishop Zen, who was in Rome attending the meeting of the World Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist on Oct. 2-23, told Catholic News Service on Oct. 21 that the last two ordinations have been unique in that the government did not pressure the church leaders to keep the Vatican’s approval a secret, so I think this is a breakthrough.