The noted theologian and author Monika Hellwig died at Washington Hospital Center on Sept. 30 after suffering a severe stroke. She was 74 years old. She had recently retired as president and executive director of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities. Hellwig taught theology for more than 30 years at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., before taking up the A.C.C.U. post. Just days before her death she had taken up a new position as a research fellow at the university’s Woodstock Theological Center. A former president of the Catholic Theological Society of America, Hellwig received numerous honors and awards for her work, including more than 30 honorary degrees.Canadian Task Force Urges Ban on Abusers
A Canadian bishops’ task force recommended banning priests and pastoral staffers convicted of sexual abuse from any public church ministry for the rest of their lives. The long-anticipated report on how Canada’s bishops are dealing with sexual abuse by members of the Catholic clergy called on all bishops to commit themselves publicly and individually to a strict method of dealing with the problem. It also called for public reporting on how the church is doing in its battle to eradicate abuse. The bishops have been asked to forward their comments on the report to the headquarters of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops in Ottawa. Comments will be presented to the bishops’ permanent council in March; a final protocol will be voted on by all bishops. Archbishop James Weisgerber of Winnipeg, Manitoba, and Bishop Eugene Tremblay of Amos, Quebec, co-chairmen of the 10-member task force, presented their report on Sept. 22 to the annual meeting of bishops in Cornwall, Ontario.Orthodox Bishop Suggests Catholic-Orthodox Alliance
A Russian Orthodox bishop has appealed for the formation of a Catholic-Orthodox alliance to negotiate with European institutions and members of other faiths on behalf of traditional Christianity. Europe has so rapidly de-Christianized that urgent action is needed to save it from losing its centuries-old Christian identity, said Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev of Vienna and Austria, the Russian church’s representative to the European Union. I strongly believe the time has come for Catholics and Orthodox to unite their efforts, the bishop said at an ecumenical congress in Gniezno, Poland, on the role of Christians in contemporary Europe. We need a strategic alliance, and we need it here and now. In 20, 30 or 40 years, it may simply be too late. He said the alliance would bring together representatives of European Catholic bishops’ conferences and Orthodox churches and noted that the group would seek a common position on all major social and ethical issues, including the family, sex and bioethics.Archbishop Does Not Speak for Vatican on Gays
The archbishop overseeing a Vatican-run inspection of U.S. seminaries said that he was not speaking for the Vatican or the U.S. bishops when he said he opposed admitting to seminaries men who have engaged in homosexual activity in the past or who have strong homosexual tendencies. I was reflecting my personal opinion and offering a prudential practice based on 12 years experience as rector [president] of two U.S. seminaries, said Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien, head of the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services, in a statement on Sept. 30. The archbishop is coordinator of the apostolic visitations of more than 220 seminaries and houses of formation in the United States that began this academic year under the supervision of the Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education and with the cooperation of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. His statement was posted on the U.S.C.C.B. Web site. It did not retract his position regarding the suitability of homosexual candidates for seminary admission.Nuncio Insists on Duty to Work for Disarmament
The nations of the world have a duty to work for disarmament, the Vatican nuncio to the United Nations said on Oct. 3. The great majority of states want to move the disarmament agenda forward surely and speedily, Archbishop Celestino Migliore said at a meeting of the General Assembly’s First Committee, which handles disarmament and security issues. He called arms control and disarmament fundamental pillars of the architecture for peace and criticized the recent U.N. 60th anniversary gathering of world leaders for failing to act on draft proposals that would have pressed for global progress toward disarmament and the strengthening of international conventions or treaties against nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. Archbishop Migliore called it deplorable that last May’s conference to review the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty ended without a single substantive decision.Indonesian Leaders Concerned After Bombings
Religious leaders in Bali expressed concern as they condemned the suicide bombings on Oct. 1 that killed at least 26 people and injured more than 120 others on the island famed as a center of tourism and Indonesian Hindu culture. We must strongly condemn the bombing that has hit Bali again. The action of the bombers was uncivilized, and regrettably it has happened in Indonesia, a civilized nation, Bishop Benyamin Bria of Denpasar told UCA News, an Asian church news agency based in Thailand, on Oct. 2. Denpasar is the capital of Bali, the island province just east of Java. Hospital officials in Denpasar told UCA News that the bombings killed 26 people and that more than 120 others were being treated for injuries in seven local hospitals. The dead and injured included foreigners as well as Indonesians. According to reports, three suicide bombers targeted restaurants in Jimbaran Beach and Kuta, on the south of the island. Kuta is a 25-minute drive from Denpasar, while Jimbaran is a 15-minute drive from Kuta. This was the second deadly attack on Bali in less than three years. A bomb on Oct. 13, 2002, killed 202 people, including 88 Australian tourists.Levada Asks Synod About Politicians, Communion
Archbishop William J. Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, asked members of the World Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist to discuss how they deal with Catholic politicians who want to receive Communion but do not vote in full accordance with Catholic teaching. The former archbishop of San Francisco, taking advantage of an hour of free discussion at the synod on Oct. 3, said the issue had caused some divisions among U.S. Catholics during the 2004 presidential elections, and he hoped to hear how other bishops would approach the problem. Archbishop Levada quoted from the synod’s working document, which said, Some Catholics do not understand why it might be a sin to support a political candidate who is openly in favor of abortion or other serious acts against life, justice and peace. Given the tension that arose as different U.S. bishops chose different ways to deal with the issue, including publicly announcing they would deny Communion to some Catholic politicians, Archbishop Levada said, Let’s hear the experiences of synod fathers from other countries.Supreme Court to Hear Church-Related Cases
The October term of the U.S. Supreme Court will bring a busy session of cases that have implications for churches and their interests. The justices started their first week with a case that involves constitutional questions related to Oregon’s law permitting assisted suicide. Farthest away on the court’s calendar to date is a case just accepted for early 2006 that raises questions about a campaign finance law that restricted the type of ads Wisconsin Right to Life was allowed to run during last year’s congressional election campaign. In between, the docket includes cases dealing with how the death penalty is applied in different states, with laws affecting minors who want abortions and with protesters outside abortion clinics. After opening on Oct. 3 with new Chief Justice John Roberts presiding, the court’s makeup will change again, perhaps as soon as this fall. When Justice Sandra Day O’Connor announced her retirement in June, she said she would remain until her replacement is on the bench.