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July 11, 1998     Arkansas Catholic
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July 11, 1998

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Page 8 July II, 1998 must $ out on By John Thavis !~: CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE VATICAN CITY---- Pope John Paul II encouraged U.S. bish- ops to strongly proclaim moral truths -- even unpopular ones -- and work so that "the mystery of God and the truth about human- ity ... are not banished from pub- lic life." In particular, the pope asked the bishops to insist on Church teachings against abortion, stefil- izafon and euthanasia, in society and in Catholic hospitals and clin- ics. The Church's position on such matters are not "arbitrary claims" but essential truths, he said. The pope made the comments June 27 in a written address handed to bishops from Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas, who were making their "ad limina" vis- its to the Vatican. In his address, the pope focused on a favorite theme: what he called i a modern "crisis of culture," marked by widespread skepticism about the existence of moral truths and objective moral law. Such skepticism, the pope told the U.S. bishops, "is commonplace in many of your country's aca- demic, political and legal struc- tures." It is motivated by a mis- guided idea of freedom, to which the bishops must respond, he said. : "The notion of freedom as per- sonal autonomy is superficially at- tractive; endorsed by intellectuals, the media, legislatures and the courts, it becomes a powerful cul- tural force. Yet it ultimately de- stroys the personal good of indi- viduals and the common good of society," he said. :i The pope asked bishops to highlight the proper role of the conscience and its rehtionship to moral law. In doing so, he said, "you will be challenging one of the great forces in the modern world. But at the same time, you ! will be doing the modern world a great service." He noted that respect for the r ? ARKANSAS CATHOLIC Twenty bishops from Region X, induding Bishop McDonald, made their ad visit to the Vatican. The ad limina visit h required every five Catholics, in contrast to the good experience with lay in the United States, the said. "We suggested that sential moral teachings do not re- Catholics were involved in politics. fleet a particular narrow agenda, but They should try to make sure that rather a foundation of truths that democratic politics and lawmaking have always been recognized in hu- are not reduced to "a raw contest for man history -- what the founding power," he said. fathers of the United States called "If constitutional and statutory "self-evident" truths, law are not held accountable to the "When the Church teaches, for ex- objective moral law, the first casual- ample, that abortion, sterilization or ties are justice and equity, for they euthanasia are always morally inad- become matters of personal opinion, missible, she is giving expression to he said. the universal moral law inscribed on In a talk to the pope, Archbishop the human heart and is therefore Patrick F. Flores of San Antonio re- teaching something which is binding ferred to the "pain" felt by the bish- on everyone's conscience," he said. ops over several ongoing problems: He reminded the bishops of the The declining number of priests Church's "absolute prohibition" and religious men and women. against such procedures in Catholic The "horrendous lawsuits" faced health care facilities and asked them by several dioceses, an apparent to remind everyone involved, indud- reference to sexual abuse cases. lag administrators and medical per- The "bad publicity we receive" sonnd, that "any failure to comply on TV and in the printed press. bring a message of hope and was try- ing to promote justice and peace in society. The "ad limina" visits are made once every five years by heads ofdio- individual conscience was deeply with this prohibition is both a griev- '0' Financial pressures, in recent years. He called the devel- versarion, speaking about a ingrained in U.S. culture and said ous sin and a source of scandal." ,0, Social problems related to drugs, opment "welcome news," but said ety of matters, including the Church also respects the con- The pope praised the U.S. bish- alcohol and AIDS. the Vatican gave no indication when coming document i science as the "sanctuary of the ops for their documents on political " The great number of prisons and the document would be ready,feast day, the bishop said. human person. But the conscience and social issues, saying they were the booming prison population, Bishop Fiorenza said the bishops Bishops, Fiorenza, who is not independent or infallible in offering much-needed guidance on which now outnumbers univer- had also met with U.S. Cardinal J. made four ad limina visitS its !udgments, he said. questions involving freedom and sit,/and college students.Francis Stafford, head of the Pon- the years, said the pope has If it were, conscience would truth. Violence in homes, in schools and tifical council for the Laity, to talk lost some physical be reduced to the mere assertion He also said it was a tribute to on the street, about the Vatican's 1997 document vi or, but "mentally of personal wdl, he said. the Church and to the openne of He told the pope that the Church on lay mmtsmes. The document was as ever, and he seemed to be The pope said the Chu h's es- American society that so many in the United States continued to perceived as being negative by, many . alert as ever." Bishop Fiorenza said the had lunch with the pope J and found him in form. The pope ate a good and was very engaged in priety from their pries@ obligations. Bishop Fiorenza said the proce- dure would be administrative rather than juridical --- something many U.S. bishops have been requesting ceses. In addition to meeting with in the future, perhaps his the pope, the bishops speak with a could give us a document that l number of Vatican departments dur- far more positive about the wo; , :: ing their stay. has made, he said. Bishop Joseph A. Fiorenza of derful contribution that the let [ Galveston-Houston told Catholic Vatican officials said the doe0" News Service that in talks with the ment was aimed at partictt[ | Vatican congregations for doctrine and abuses, and that the United Srat dergy, the bishops were told that the and Canada were not the focUS Vatican was working on a document these abuses, Bishop Fiorenza sai It|i that will oudine procedures for dis- "We were glad to hear that, H pensing priests guilty of sexual impro- he said.