Mother Marianne Cope of Molokai, Hawaii, will be beatified in mid-May, but Pope Benedict XVI will not celebrate the beatification Mass. For years, Vatican officials and theologians have been discussing the possibility of returning to the pre-1971 practice of having a cardinal, not the pope, preside at beatifications, giving a clear sign that a beatification is different from the declaration of sainthood. Pope Benedict has delegated Cardinal José Saraiva Martins, C.F.M., prefect of the Congregation for Causes of the Saints, to preside over Mother Marianne’s beatification, according to Vatican Radio on May 4.Polish Priest in Rome Denies Helping Secret Police
A Polish priest working in Rome denied that he collaborated with Communist-era secret police during the 1980’s. Konrad Hejmo, O.P., director of a pastoral center in Rome for Polish pilgrims, told Poland’s Catholic information agency, KAI, that he never consciously provided information to the secret police. Father Hejmo told KAI that he provided information on the church to an acquaintance from Germany, who the priest said was trusted by the German bishops’ conference. I did not collaborate and never had direct contacts with Communist services, Father Hejmo told KAI. In relation to the information I provided, I think this is all nonsense. I never got in touch with security service representatives.Indian Theologian Urges Caution, Not Fear
Theologians should be cautious, but not afraid, in their Gospel-based search for truth, said Samuel Rayan, S.J., a noted theologian in India. Father Rayan also said Christianity should usher in a leadership that is less European to help its catholicity and shed its image as a European religion. Christianity is a movement that was started in Asia, by Asians, including St. Peter and other disciples of Jesus. The Bible is an Asian book. But the general impression, particularly in Asia, is that Christianity is a European religion, Father Rayan told UCA News, an Asian church news agency based in Thailand. He said a non-European pope would have helped correct that impression, but any pope is called to take a wide view of the church, with its variety of culture and spiritual sensitivities.Methodists, Catholics Complete Talks
Catholic and United Methodist scholars, meeting in Washington, D.C., on April 29-May 1, called for greater sharing and collaboration between their churches as they concluded a dialogue on the church and church structures. Their findings will be published in a joint study to be titled Through Divine Love: The Church in Each Place and All Places.
The 20,000-word document is expected to be made public before the end of May. It explores similarities and differences in the structural ways Catholics and Methodists express and strengthen their communion with one another and with God. Various levels of conferences express the connectedness of Methodists, said the Methodist co-chairman, Walter Klaiber, the recently retired bishop of Frankfurt, Germany, in an interview with Catholic News Service on April 29. He said the conferencesat the local, regional and general levelsare not just a way of organizing and governing the church, but an expression of being together in the church of Jesus Christ. Having a German bishop as co-chairman of the dialogue is indicative of the structure of the United Methodist Church, which has 50 episcopal areas in the United States and 18 abroad. The dialogue sponsor on the Catholic side is the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.Guatemalan Official Opposes U.S. Aid
A Catholic human rights official from Guatemala has opposed efforts to restore U.S. military aid to the Central American country. The army is still tied to corruption, its members are involved in summary executions and it is being used by the government to harass and repress anti-government demonstrators, said Nery Rodenas, executive director of the Human Rights Office of the Archdiocese of Guatemala City. There is a climate of terror against Guatemalans. Violence is used to prevent freedom of expression, he said on April 28 while in Washington to brief U.S. church officials. Earlier this year, the United States announced $3.2 million in military aid to Guatemala, ending a ban imposed in 1990 because of human rights issues. Bush administration officials have said they plan to ask Congress to approve further aid later this year. In February the archdiocesan human rights office of Guatemala City joined several other Guatemalan human rights organizations in issuing a statement opposing the resumption of military aid.Abuse Challenges Leaders to Be More Accountable
The president of the Canon Law Society of America said in an address on May 2 that the calls for accountability by church leaders that stem from the sexual abuse crisis could be answered under provisions of existing canonical norms. But mechanisms for holding the leadership accountable to members of the church may need to be reviewed, renewed and revitalized, said Sharon Euart, of the Sisters of Mercy. A former associate general secretary of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, she subsequently served as a consultant to a number of dioceses and religious orders on matters related to the sexual abuse crisis. Addressing the Eastern Regional Conference of Canonists at a meeting in New York, Sister Euart said these tragic and painful events had challenged bishops and religious superiors to become more open, collaborative and accountable and the laity to assume their rightful place in the life and mission of the church.Latin American Bishops Propose Conference
A delegation of officers from the Latin American bishops’ council presented Pope Benedict XVI with a proposal for the Fifth General Conference of Latin American Bishops. Conference preparation began while Pope John Paul II was alive, and the event was planned for February 2007, either in Quito, Ecuador, or in Rome, depending on the pope’s health. The officers presented the proposal on April 28, and now it is in Pope Benedict’s hands, said Cardinal Francisco Errázuriz Ossa of Santiago, Chile, president of the council, known as CELAM. He will need more time to understand what has been done and approve or complement the plans in whatever way he considers appropriate, the cardinal said.Pius XII’s View of Holocaust Still Unclear
Two historians who have studied Pope Pius XII’s World War II record said on May 2 that what the pope knew or thought about the Holocaust remains obscure and one of the problems is how to get back into a mental framework of that time in an objective way. Pius XII has assumed symbolic importance in a debate between his supporters and detractors, but this debate has become politicized, said Michael R. Marrus, a professor of Holocaust studies at the University of Toronto and the author of several books on the Holocaust. I think it is a false debate.
To understand Pope Pius and the Vatican in relation to World War II and the Holocaust, you have to see shades of gray, said Gerald P. Fogarty, S.J., a professor of religious studies and history at the University of Virginia, who is currently working on a book about the Vatican and the United States during the war. Marrus was one of three Jewish members and Father Fogarty one of three Catholic members of an international historical commission formed in 1999 to examine the role of the Vatican in the war and the Holocaust. They were the featured speakers at a two-hour dialogue at St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Arlington, Va.