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Arkansas Catholic
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June 18, 1982     Arkansas Catholic
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June 18, 1982
 

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[The00Guardian t Joyous Refrain Doctor Richard A. Schoenherr, a sociologist at the University of Wisconsin, has announced results of a study of the Church. His report is a doleful one, using statistics that project a clergy diminishing in numbers and increasing in median age. Dr. Schoenherr extrapolates from his data gloomy prospects for the Church: "The whole gamut of diocesan and parish program priorities, including the vast primary, secondary and adult education system of the Church will undergo accelerated decline as the transition gains momentum." Commentators on the Church have been badly burned before in making predictions. The Spirit blows where He will and injects a delightful prophecy-debunking quality to the Church that Dr. Schoenherr can't quantify on his charts and statistics. After all, it was the Spirit who took one of Dr. Schoenherr's nemises, the aged Pope John XXIII, and used him to unleash one of history's greatest revitalizations, the Second Vatican Council, on the Church. It should be noted too that the Council was unique - a kind of revolution led not by demanding mobs and resisted by antique hierarehs, but a revolution set in motion by the rulers and often imposed by them on a sometimes reluctant laity. We think Dr. Sehoenherr misses another factor in his equation as well. The diminishing number of clerics is already being met by the Church in vastly increasing the respon- sibilities of non-ordained Christians. While we hestitate to claim an understanding of the work of the Holy Spirit, we think this is not simply a response to a problem. We think that the pruning of the numbers of the clergy has actually made way for the proper exercise of the rights and responsibilities of the laity -- rights and responsibilities too often delegated to the clergy as though only they had responsibility for proclaiming the Gospel. The sociologist sees "accelerated decline." We keep hearing the more hopeful and joyous refrain "Behold I am with you all days..." Msgr. Edward J. O'Donnell St. Louis Review Archdiocese of St. Louis Essays in The ology Attack Upon The Pope By Father Richard P. McBrien For the second time in Pope John Paul II's brief pon- tificate, someone has tried to kill him. The first assault occurred one year ago on the Pope's front doorstep, as it were. The second, at the world-famous shrine at Fatima, where the Pope had gone to give thanks to the Blessed Mother for sparing his life in the first incident. The assassination attempt in Portugal is fraught with irony. The man who lunged at the Holy Father, murder instrument in hand, was shouting, "Down with Vatican II[" As if Pope John Paul II had been steering the barque of Peter hard to port! Furthermore, the assailant was a priest, ordained by Marcel Lefebvre, a renegade archbishop, who heads a movement dedicated to the proposition that he and his followers are God's in- strument for rescuing the Catholic Church from liberalism. And liberals, as everyone knows, are "disloyal" to the Pope. The depressing episode also bears a few lessons. Notice how, for the extremist. argument is never enough. One doesn't simply disagree with the opponent, or enter into vigorous debate with the opponent. The extremist attacks the person of the opponent, not just the opponent's ideas. The extremist wants blood, figuratively or literally: the opponent's reputation, peace of mind, or job and career. The extremist always demands that the opponent be punished in some way. His means of service to the Church must be taken from him. He must be censured, fired, banned, even ex- communicated. Extremism, taken to its obscenely logical conclusion, expresses itself in violence. The surest way to silence the opponent is to kill him (at least that's what extremists think who haven't learned the lesson of Good Friday). The man who hurled himself at the Holy Father, bayonet in hand, was simply playing out the extremist point of view -- to its extreme. Violent behavior is prompted by violent imagery and violent language. To encourage the latter is to leave the door open for the former. The Catholic Church has been unusually, and one might say unduly, tolerant of the Lefebvre movement thus far. And that may be the second lesson of this tragic event. Archbishop Lefebvre has denounced the late Pope Paul VI. the Second Vatican 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 Department Diocese of Little Rock P.O. Box 7417. Little Rock. Ark. 72217 Letters will be duplicated and forwarded to networks. stations, sponsors or newspapers involved. i Rev. Jerome Kodel I, O.S.B. Rug,00 Question: - What is the story behind holy water and the meaning and purpose of it in our Church? A. -- Water is blessed and used many ways as a sign and remembrance of baptism. The blessing of water for baptisms is a highlight of the central act of worship of the year, the Easter Vigil. The making of the sign of the Cross with holy water on entering church is meant to be a reminder of the Trinitarian formula used in baptism (and an imitation of the process of Christian initiation in the early centuries when the baptistery stood at the en- trance of the church). Holy water is used in blessing religious articles, and even tools and objects for secular use, to connect, their use with Christ's act of redemption into which we were plunged by the waters of baptism. Question: - In the Old Testament Psalms, there is cursing of enemies in very strong words. Why should one read this and what should be our attitude about this? A. -- The classic cursing psalm is Psalm 109. The language and sentiments expressed are rather vicious and have always posed a problem for Bible readers. There are also such passages in Psalms 69:23-29 and 137:7-9 and stray verses elsewhere. Because of the difficulty of praying these sections of the Psalter, these passages have been omitted in the recent revision of the Divine Office or Liturgy of the Hours (Breviary). Traditionally, Jews and Christians have been in- structed to use these psalms as prayers invoking God's judgment not against some particular person or group, but against Satan and the forces of evil serving him in the world. A good pattern to follow is in Psalm 139:19-22, where the psalmist puts himself on the side of God in the fight against evil. Question: - I would like to know what is the difference between the New American Bible and the Catholic Liturgical Bible. And wh,? A. -- There is no difference in the contents of the New American Bible, the most recent American Catholic translation, and other Catholic Bibles. There will be differences in the names of some of the Old Testament books in older Catholic Bibles, because the New American Bible follows the Hebrew titles and earlier translations followed the Greek. Therefore, the New American Bible will have 1 and 2 Samuel instead of 1 and 2 Kings, I and 2 Kings instead of 3 and 4 Kings, 1 and 2 Chronicles instead of 1 and 2 Paralipomenon, Ezra instead of 1 Esdras, Nehemiah in- stead of 2 Esdras, Sirach instead of Ecclesiasticus, Tobit instead of Tobias. Some changes are only a revision of spelling to approximate the Hebrew: Hosea for Osee, Letters to the Editor Readers Express Their The Guardian welcomes letters to the editor. Letter writers Look to God Dear Editor: Please allow me to respond to the letter writer (under the heading "Thank You" in the May 28 issue) who is leaving the Church and taking three children. First, I reflect on the many negative things I've ex- perienced in 231/2 years as a Catholic. Only one person ever in- vited me to attend Mass (that was enough, thahk God). Almost no one ever Welcomed me. After months of at- Council and the social teachings of the Catholic Church. He has illicitly or- dained many men to the priesthood against the explicit orders of both Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II. And yet the Archbishop was favored with a papal audience to discuss his irregular ec- clesiastical situation. Hans Kueng, on the other hand, has asked for a similar meeting with the Pope. It took at least four months for the Vatican even to answer his letter and when it finally did so, it was through a third party, not directly. And the answer was "No." Beyond that, Kueng has been declared "no longer a Catholic theologian." Although that action has a very precise and limited canonical meaning, it has been taken by many Catholics to mean that Kueng is no longer a priest in good standing and that he is really no longer a Catholic at all. How else explain why so many Catholic institutions are fearful even of having him lecture, or why so many Catholic officials feel duty- bound always to speak of him in an unfriendly or patronizing way? To be sure, Archbishop Lefebvre has been suspended from his ministry, but he has never been declared "no longer a Catholic bishop." And yet he's no more a Catholic bishop, in the canonical sense of the word. i.e.. with authority to ordain, than Hans Kueng is a Catholic theologian, in the canonical sense of the word, i.e., with the right to teach theology in a pontifically-erected Catholic should strive to be concise and accurate. A letter must bear the writer's signature, but the writer's name will be withheld from publication on request. Letters will be edited to conform to space requirements and standards of good taste.-The Editors. tending, virtually "hiding" in the side pews toward the rear of the church, a friend finally took me to the rectory. The priest barely cracked the door and, when he learned I was interested in the Church, he stuffed some pamphlets in my hand and let it go at that. I remember a Catholic telling me that he attended the first Mass of the day because "it's just an obligation and I want to get it over with as early as possible so I can enjoy the rest of the day." I remember a dear priest friend saying, in reference to someone who had expressed interest in the Church, that "he knows where I am...I'm not going chasing him." I have attended Masses where everyone seemed to have the attitude that the quicker finished, the better. Our air-conditioning failed one summer Sunday and the faculty of theology. One final lesson. Isn't it significant that the Pope's assailant was ordained as recently as 19787 We haven't a case here of a man turning out bad many years later, a product of an unfortunate series of unforeseeable cir- cumstances. On the contrary, the oils were still wet on his palms, as the old saying goes. He has been judged fit for priestly ministry by those at the Lefebvre seminary in Swit- zerland. What have their other candidates been like? What sort of people are attracted to a priesthood which presents itself as an instrument for saving the Church from Vatican II, the vernacular liturgy, freedom of expression and a commitment to social justice and human rights? Is the Lefebvre seminary the only seminary attracting and accepting such people? Is the Lefebvre seminary the only seminary certifying such people for ordination? One can only pose questions here. It is for all of the Church - including laity and religious women at the parish level -- to formulate some answers. singing and sermon were omitted so the parish Mass was finished in about 20 minutes. .and everyone rushed to the golf course and beach and other non-air- conditioned places. But wait! Thank God, none of that was THE CHURCH. Thank God for vision to see beyond sick and ill and busy and over-worked priests... beyond fellow church members who are clannish, selfish, ill-instructed, gruff.. .beyond congregations that seem to have no arms to open in welcome, no time even to worship the Dear Lord. Thank God for the Gift of Faith to see beyond the PEOPLE who so often stand in the way of HIS CHURCH. The letter brought tears to my eyes. Not because that person was "leaving the church,', but because that person never really was IN the CHURCH. I pray for a second chance...not a second chance to meet people, but a second chance to meet God in His Church. In spite of the people. This person sought "sup- port" from all of these...and failed to find it. Please, please...look for that support from the One whose Church it is. Seek that support from above. .and from within yourself Lastly, please don't judge His Church by one parish, or even one diocese. There ARE parishes that are Alive In Him and For Him...there ARE priests who can help you share that Love. Look beyond the people. There are some real failures among the people...but this is also the Church of Bishop Sheen and Mother Teresa and the martyred missionaries of Central America. Please look UP...this is still His One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. And He needs you, because you care. Channel that care beyond the People and into His Church.. .and you can change it toward what He wants it to be. You can't change anything from outside. Ken Parsons, Jr. Pine Bluff Obadiahfor Abdias Micheas, Ze Sophonias, Hagga Aggeus. Question: -- Where a copy of Austin O.P.s' collection of documents from Council I! and ' A: -- The book is s back entitled Council II: Post-Conciliar published by the Company in 1975. It acquired through handling Catholic example, the Church Goods Store Rock and Christian Book Smith. Father Jerome questions from subscribers. should be Rev. Jerome O.S.B., New Subia 72865. Asks Dear Editor: Please hold me pestering you with requests. But derstand that it and His poor and helplessness. I had requested Christmas to peal for funds for built church to be Maybe it is not in to publish such possible, help. If you are not in a publish requests help, please help by giving an columns for religious such as Rosaries, statues, scapularS, pictures, used holy (Christm magazines and useful in the missiO0' will be shared bY missionary priests sisters. Our Lady'S Ichmlcf,(oho No Published Weekly by TI' Press. In 2500 N Tyler St. Entered es second class t 21, 191 t, 4t the post office 0 Arkansas, under the Act M4rch II. 1197 l.bcorl lass post 0{I e'J Little SUBSCRIPTION pR S7 00 per yeer in the unifl Canada sgOO PUBLISHER MOST REvEREN ANDREW J. McDONAL Bishop of Little PRIEST CONSUL T REV. BERNAR MANAGING EDIT MR. WILLIAM W. I EDITOR - MR. L A. CH RI=I-" Address All Oin6rtmetS FORREST PARK N Nalieasl tl cMIqff form 3$71 l# Press. I .0"