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January 29, 1982     Arkansas Catholic
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January 29, 1982
 

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[The00@ rdi I ua an Pope Urges L Priests and Seminar J--A--I0A R Y 221 ""'" "ul'"' +"n "' '"+ L++c"" 'I'"G'*'2 C ntOdir?+lln S of H l ToBe us ope, lr+eac Guardian Sunday ++ saa e urged priests and Brazilian bishops' conference last time without going there, purity of theGospel Catholic Press Month, traditionally observed during February, is highlighted each year in the Diocese of Little Rock by the observance of Guardian Sunday on the first Sunday of the month. This year, February 7 is the date set by the Most Reverend Bishop for Arkansas Catholics to renew their subscriptions to the diocesan weekly. Never in The Guardian's 71-year history have subscription renewals been as important as this year. The U.S. Postal Service has added $35,000 to the publication's operating ex- penses for 1982. So every penny of revenue is urgently needed. In today's communications-oriented world, journalistic contact with the faithful is extremely important for bishops. Especially in sprawling dioceses, like ours, is the printed word an evangelical and apostolic tool. The Guardian puts the Most Reverend Bishop and his thought into every Catholic home every week. Providing the faithful with a diocesan weekly is one way in which a bishop can be sure that there is Catholic literature in every Catholic home. Imagine, how Polish Catholics would treasure an un- censored diocesan weekly. Then, subscribe, you lucky Catholic ! W.W. O'D Essays in Theology Theology of Criticism By Father Richard 19. McBrien Few of us enjoy being criticized. Neither do we like to hear criticism of favored people and projects. The emotional response of some Catholics to criticism within the Church ranges all the way from anger to weariness. Some Catholics wish the critics would be quiet, go away, or, failing the first two options, be sup- pressed. It's not that these Catholics are against criticism in principle. On the contrary, they engage in it themselves. For example, they resent criticism of the pre-Vatican II Church, but they are generous with their own criticism of the post-Vatican II Church. If criticism has no place within the Church, then it is inappropriate across the board. Not even critics can be criticized. We should simply "offer up" the annoyance and pain of their criticism and leave the rest to God. But, of course, that is not the way it happens. The word criticism is derived from a Greek word meaning "to separate" or" to decide." A critic is one who, like the Lord of the parable of the sheep and the goats in the 25th chapter of St. Matthew's 'GoSpel, ;separat+s the good from the bad. Criticism, therefore, requires the ability to discern real quality in the midst of mediocrity, or worse. All criticism is based on criteria. A criterion is a standard, a means of judging. of discerning and separating good from bad. Those who oppose criticism in principal oppose theTight and duty of any one of us to exercise judgment. Presumably, each one of us must simply eat what is put on our plate, as it were. One is never to raise a question about the menu or the quality of performance in the kitchen. Every meal is the best it can possibly be. It is exactly what we need at this time and in this place. The assumption that criticism is always out of place, especially in the Church, is rooted in a fun- damental theological error; namely, that the Kingdom of God has already come, at least in the Church. The assumption denies the weakness and sinfulness of those of us who constitute the Church, clergy and laity alike. If, however, the Kingdom has not yet come and if the Church is still on pilgrimage, full of saints and sinners alike, then the Church, like the rest of the world, is always in need of improvement. Indeed, that is precisely what the Second Vatican Council taught in its Dogmatic Constitution on the Church: "...the Church, embracing sinners in its bosom, is at the same time holy and always in need of being purified, and in- cessantly pursues the path of penance and renewal" ( n. 8). The no-criticism-at-all-cos- ts approach also breaks down ethically. If one is silent in the face of an injustice done to another, then one at least passively contributes to the injustice itself. Our refusal to use whatever resources we have only insures that the other will suffer the injustice rather than be liberated from it. This is not to say that every perceived injustice is a real injustice, nor that every criticism is an accurate or even a fair one. I am not defending here every kind of criticism and critic. Criticism can be misdirected and critics can be irresponsible. To suggest otherwise is to fall into the same trap that I identified Pope John Paul II has urged Catholics to make known their reactions to presentations by the press, radio, and television. Guardian readers may do this by mailing their com- ments to: Communications l)epartment Diocese of Little Rock P.O. Box 7417. IAIIIP Rock, Ark. 72217 Letters will be duplicated and forwarded to networks. stations, sponsors or newspapers involved. seminarians to become "custodians of hope" and "true teachers" during recent visits to two Roman colleges. The Pope went to the pontifical Antonian University and to the pon- tifical Brazilian College, spending several hours at each institution. "In the daily concern for all churches which is incumbent on me as successor of Peter and vicar of Christ, I wanted also to include a personal visit to all the pontifical univer- sities which have headquarters in Rome," he said at the Antonian University, which offers courses in theology, canon law and philosophy to about 500 students from throughout the world. At the Franciscan-run university, Pope John Paul met first with students and professors and then had a private dinner with the Franciscan community. "Like St. Francis, may you also be in today's world the custodians of hope," the Pope told students and faculty 'members. "The recovery of certainty is urgent in today's world, furrowed by so many worries that are like a terrorist attack on the hope brought by Christ," he added. Pope John Paul was welcomed to the university by American William Cardinal Baum, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education; Father John Vaughn, superior general of the Franciscans, and Father Pasquale Riwalski, superior of the Capuchins. The Sunday afternoon visit was to a different type of Roman college. The pontifical Brazilian College houses 30 priests and 10 seminarians from the Latin American nation, but the students take courses at other institutions. In a Portuguese-language talk, the Pope said Brazil needs priests who are "close to the people, courageous pastors and true teachers." The Pope, who visited Brazil in July, 1980, said the church must "bring back those who are lost and reconcile with those who are far away" from it. After a dinner with the students and their guests -: including Brazilian Agnelo Cardinal Rossi, one of the college's first guests, and Bishop Jose Ivo Lorscheiter of earlier; namely, that the Kingdom is already here, at least for certain selected critics. No one -- liberal, con- servative or centrist -- is exempt from the impact of Original Sin. No one, therefore, is immune from the effects of sin in the for- mulation of criticism. For some of us, of course, criticism is fine so long as it is not directed at ourselves, or our preferred people and projects. And so we come full circle: it is not criticism and critics that we reject, but certain kinds of criticism and certain kinds of critics. Most Catholics, one would hope. rejoice in the fact that the Church is big enough to embrace a wide variety of peoples and a broad spectrum of views. And most of us admire those who have the courage of their convictions. Indeed. those who do not we consider cowards or hypocrites. Critics of Church leaders, like Catherine of Siena. have been canonized as saints. And Church leaders themselves have functioned as critics. Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero, of El Salvador. paid -- Pope John Paul joined in the singing of Brazilian folk songs. The college's students also include about 10 priests and seminarians from Mozam- bique and Angola, where Portuguese is spoken. During the weekend, Pope John Paul also spoke at the Vatican to 300 participants in the Italian national con- vention of the Ecclesial Movement of Cultural Commitment. "The very fact that your movement is church-related obliges each of you to think about and to promote culture in strict connection with the faith which you profess and to work for a true synthesis between faith and culture," hesaid. "This is your specific mission, which you can never evade either as men of culture or as believers," the Pope added. Likes Africans Rome (NC) -- Pope John Paul II likes the people of Africa. The Pope, by nature and by his position, likes everybody, of course. But he has a special predilection for what he has called fondly "the African soul." That is why in mid- February, Pope John Paul's first trip outside of Italy since his near-fatal shooting will be to Nigeria. In the spring of 1980, upon the Pope's return from an 11- day visit to Zaire, Congo, Kenya, Ghana, Upper Volta and the Ivory Coast, thousands of visitors to St. Peter's Square heard him declare that he would return to Africa. And then the Pope said why. "Although only one African in eight is today a Catholic, they are deeply sensitive to the sacred dimension," the Pope explained, and he went on to describe that sensitivity. Even a casual observer can make sense of the upcoming trip. Nigeria is by anyone's estimate a key country and one of the most important nations in Africa. At 80-million the "most populous nation on the con- tinent, Nigeria is a burgeoning economic power. Rich in natural resources, it is a major producer of oil and a member of OPEC. Other minerals include tin, limestone and coal. Although 80 per cent of its total work force is currently engaged in agricultural production, that figure is dropping. Stimulated by a government policy en- couraging wider self- sufficiency, there is a growing manufacturing sector, as well as the beginning of basic heavy industry, with several refineries and steel mills recently" established. "It doesn't surprise me at all," said an. American working at the Vatican, "that the Pope is visiting Nigeria. for his criticism with his life. Had Archbishop Romero assumed that criticism which is negative, anti-institution and anti-authority is never to be expressed, he might still be alive. But he Would have been less the Christian "leader he was and the Church, not only in El Salvador, but in the world at large, would have been the poorer for his reticence. Some of my readers will disagree with this column. That is their prerogative. But they should be aware of what they are doing: they are "Criticizing" it. Welcome a board ! it was because Nigeria is important enough to deserve a trip by itself." The Vatican has yet to issue an itinerary for the Nigerian journey, except to say that it will cover six or seven days in mid-February and will in- clude a brief stop-over visit in Gabon. The changing nature of the Nigerian work force gives an important clue to the Pope's concern. From previous statements, it is clear that the Pope cherishes the African's pristine purity of values and wants to help protect those values from the assault of materialism. On his last trip to the continent, the Pope pleaded with Africans not to succumb "to the in- toxification of profit, to the benefit of privileged class." From Pope John Paul's words on Africa in 1980 and again to 16 Nigerian bishops on Jan. 14 of this year, it is evident that he feels corn- polled by a Gospel imperative to preach not only to Westerners, not only to Catholics, but to all people. "People can be saved without being part of the church," the pontiff said of Africa in 1980, but he quickly explained that this doesn't free the Pope as a pastor from the responsibility of trying to help every person by offering the church's insights. On Jan. 14, he told Nigeria's Catholic hierarchy that "evangelization means preaching a message of hope, bringing the good news to all parts of society." One of the choicest values of the African which the Pope wants to shield from materialism's infection is the African's sense of family. In Zaire in 1980, he lauded "the positive values of a sense of family, anchored in the Afrfcan soul, which carry many aspects that are cer- tainly able to cause reflection by so-called advanced civilizations." Among these values, the Pope listed: "the seriousness of the entry into marriage at the end of a long journey; the priority given to the tran- smission of life, and thus the importance given to the mother and children; the law of solidarity among families who have made an alliance which is exercised especially in favor of the elderly widows and orphans; a kind of co- responsibility in taking care of the education of children. that can readily lessen psychological tensions; and the cult of ancestors, which promotes fidelity to traditions." No other theme has received as much prominence during this pontificate as the importance of the family and surely the PoPe keenly wants to help counter the tendency Of urbanization and in- dustrialization to wedge families apart. But evangelization plays itself not only against the wide screen of society in general; there is a sharper focus, too, and the Pope wants to address himself in Nigeria in a par- ticular way to the Roman Catholic community there. Its 4-million members do not represent the largest nation of African Catholics -- Zaire, for example, has ll-million. But the church in Nigeria is a particularly vibrant one, in the full springtime of its growth - converts by the thousands, seminaries overflowing, priests and nuns going as missionaries to other African nations, lay catechists volunteering in multitudes. At this strategic moment, the Pope wants to jump in on its continued ener its unity within the wider church, to match itself against the Gos draw its power froml To Nigeria's 14, Pope John preview of message: "It is evangelization, communication of of Christ's Gos local churches and enabled to more authentic of faith, in which the the sufferin handicapped, the and the orphans, widows find fraternal love, and support; and everyone is 'eager tain the unity of the bond of 4:3)" In the context of Paul's past Nigeria's present the Pope's one Roman "makes perfect sense." But perhaps it is! explain. Said a priest who I Pope, speaking Nigeriaus: "They responsibility and him to come. With that's all you need." Urges Vatican City John Paul II told members of the Representatives to peace and justice The Pope met group headed by Rodino (D-N.J.), the House mittee, in the Throne Hall. "Your role as gives you imml portunities to do ways: as trusted servants of the defenders of proponents of supporters of life of the poor -- and peacemakers human rights," Paul said in English.: "All of this is in tradition of your American way of added. Pope John Paul is linked wit Idenllll(Ohon No Pubhshed Weekly by Press. Inc 2S00N Tyler St . Entered '1+ 1911+ at the post ofhce of . Arkansas. under the Act ot I` M4rch 8, 11197 Second class postagel LHtae ROCk SUBSCRIPTION Pg Sl O0r year in the Unitl Canada S9 O0 Fore,gr + PUBLISHER MOST REV ANDREW J Mc OONAL Bishop of PRIEST REV BE RNARI MANAGIN( MR WILLIAM W EDITOR MR. KARL A. Address All Oelmlrtrrmflts P+ FORREST PARK I Telellene 61.01 Ihss A.M In4 through .'atmeal Holy I)aysO I Poltmaslld end change d form 3579 Press. P.O. l.illle