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November 24, 1991     Arkansas Catholic
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November 24, 1991

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ARKANSAS CATHOLIC NOVEMBER 2.4, 1991 PAGE 11 from page 10 Native Americans. But Bishop Curtkss said the ad hoc bish- committee that wrote the doctunent had already "struggled to strike a balance ... and to speak the truth" with regard to the the bad that accompanied Euro- colonization of the New World. He opposed the change and the amend- failed. The document notes that one in four poor and many struggle with inadequate housing, joblessness and health problems, including alcoholism. It also notes that of the nearly two mil- lion Native Americans in the U.S., more than a quarter of a million are Catholics. Meanwhile, the bishops elected Arch- bishop Robert F. Sanchez of Santa Fe, NM, to a three-year term as secretary for the Nadonal Conference of Catholic Bishops /~ ............ and the U.S. / "~'~'~: Catholic Confer- ence. The bishops also elected chairs for seven commit- tees. The .bishops in .... Archbishop a voice vote agreed Sanchez to changes in the allocation of the Retirement Fund for Religious that would give weight to the ages of retired members of the orders and consider the national average cost of care. Under the guidelines, four fewer religious communities out of 850 will be eligible to receive money from the fund, which is fi- nanced by an annual nationwide collection to be taken this year on Dec. 8. A day earlier, Archbishop Daniel W. Kucera of Dubuque, IA, said he was un- happy with the for- mula bemuse 62 re- ligious orders, in- duding one in his archdiocese, re- ceived no proceeds because their re6re- menl p,x~,rmm are ~ fully funded. He proposed an amendment to re- quire that all 850 religious orders in Archbishop the U.S. receive Pilarczyk some share of the fund, but he agreed to withdraw it to allow further'study by the major superiors of men's and women's religious orders. With the changed guidelines, 65 percent of the orders will receive more money than "Americans are road hogs in the road of life." they have for the first three years of the prognam. On ;mother matter, the bishops, after little debate and with a voice vote sprinkled with a few "nos," overwhelmingly approved their statement on the environment. 'We've wrapped our embrace around the world itself, in a statement on the environ- ment, determined to protect its rivers and forests, its dean air and most of all its sa- cred people," said Cincinnati Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk, president of the National Conference of Cathofic Bishops. He added that Americans have to learn how to lh'e more simply and not abuse the nation's resources. "Americans are road hogs in the road of life," he said. "A lot of us think that the American way is the way it ought to be for everyone, but that ain't necessarily so." The bishops condemned the Yugoslavian war against Croatia as a "pernicious, unjust war" that ~o- htes 'M~e most fun- damental legal and lnoral noFn-ls. "' Their action came following a moving personal appeal for support from Croatian Car- dinal Franjo 'ic of Zagreb,Cardinal Kuharic president of the Yu- goslavian bishops' conference, who said, 'OWe are suffering for freedom." He described the four-month-old war by Serbian guerrillas and the Serbian-domi- nated Yugoslav federal army against Croatia as a "terrible aggression against democracy, against freedom, against the territory of Croatia." He said hundreds of thousands of Croatians have been forced to flee their homes, many of them "with just the clothes on their backs .... They have had to flee just to save their lives" and now depend on others for the bare necessities of life. The cardinal also asked the U.S. to give "full diplomatic recognition" to Croatia and Slovenia, which declared their indepen- dence from Yugoslm4a last summer. Despite some strong critidsm, the bish- ops overwhelmingly approved a statement on the ~ role of bishops and on their response to those who dissent from or do not accept some Church teachings. Developed over a five-year period by the bishops' Committee on Doctrine, the highly theological 93-page text was tided, "/'he Teaching MinistW of the Diocesan Bishop: A Pastoral Reflection." It says the bishops are empowered to teach "not by their personal gifts, but by the Holy Spirit given in ordination." It says the teaching ministry of the bish- ops involves two responsibilities, to "declare authoritatively the faith of the Church" and to '~judge whether what is presented as the content of faith is accurate." Bishop Raymond A. Lucker of New Ulm, MN, opposed the document because of its "tone," which he described as "so grim, so juridic ." It focused too much on the bishops as the possessors of the faith, he said, and too much on faith as a set of propositions rather than a living response and conversion to Christ. "Where's the life, where's the dynamism, where's the beauty?" he asked. Auxiliary Bishop Austin B. Vaughan of New York also opposed the document sharply, but for different reasons. "I don't disagree with the first 62 pages," he said, but '~I find the section on dissent well- intentioned but defective." His major objection, he said, was that the dissent section "is undear on the bind- ing nature of some, not all but some, non- definitive teaching" of the Church. The bishops' new statement also gives a fuller treatment and broader definition to dissent than the Vatican document did, said Jesuit Fr. Avery Dulles, a theological con- sultant to the committee which wrote the "document. The Vatit~m statement sharply reproved theologians who engage in dissent, but it MEETING defined dissent only in terms of public. organized challenges to Church teaching. aimed at bringing a change in the teach- ing. The bishops' document covers more completely all the forms of dissent which the bishops are confi-onted with on a regu- lar basks, Fr. Dulles said. The new statement also makes an im- portant distinction between dissent and "non-acceptance" of Church teaching, the theologian said. In the U.S., the non-accep- tance issue "is becoming an increasingly important pastoral problem," he said. As president of the NCCB, Archbishop Pilarczyk met with reporters at a press con- ference after the final session of the four- day general meeting to discuss the events of the week. On a great many matters, someone who does not accept Catholic teaching is not "automatically in or out," Archbishop Pi- larczyk said in response to a question about whether those who disagree with the Church "do wrong." Disputing such basic Church precepts as the divinity of Jesus are another matter, however, he said. "When one cannot act in accord with Church teaching, you should act in accord with your conscience," said Archbishop Pi- larczyk. But the responsibility remains to try to understand and assimilate what the Church teaches and act accordingly, he said. Native values, icism By Eileen Sullivan desire of Catholic and other Christian churches, he said. "It was difficult for young Indian children who went through Rapid City, SD (CNS) --- Ben Bhck Bear Jr., a Lakota Indian the mission school experience to separate learning about their and a Catholic deacon, believes one can accept Catholicism with- faith from the reality that they were being assimilated into the out rejecting Native American values, culture of the whites," said Black Bear. "The values of Lakota [Sioux] society are geared more toward Assimilation efforts re- communal living. For Lakotas, it's difficult to sepmate the different suited in Indian children areas of life, such as religion, education or politics," he said. "Every becoming ashamed of their area of life tends to pull in every other area of Lakota society." Indian background and lan- He disagrees with those who contend the Catholic faith was guage "and all things Indian imposed on the Lakota people by white missionaries, about themselves," he said. "]'he I_akota people received the teachings of the gospels of the "l'hey were taught to stop Catholic faith at a time when they had a choice of either accepting talking Indian, stop behav- or rejecting them on their own texans," said Black Bear. hag Indian, get away from He said that when early missionaries, such as Fr. Pien'e DeSmeL being Indian altogether," he came anlong the Lakota people, "they came by themselves." said. "They didn't come as a militmy force. They went ~ound ~sit- ........... Black Bear said he real- hag Indian villages preaching the gospels. So it was at that time that ized early on that he did not a lot of Indian people, our forefathers, listened to what the mis- want to be forced to "be- sionaries had to say. Based on these teachings, mmiy chose to come white." He made the accept the Catholic faith and be baptized," said Black Bear. decision, he said, with the He said some maintain that in order to be I_akota '}'ou have to support of his parents. believe in the traditional religion mid reject all Christian religions." w0~ R~,or Catholie/CNS "I would stay an Indian But being Lakota "does not restrict us in terms of types of belief person. I would learn more or lifestyle," he said. "We have a free will and can choose (from an Dc. Black Bear about my own language. I array of beliefs) in order to be better human beings. If one is would be proud of speaking racially, culturally and sociaUy a Lakota person and chooses to another language," he said. believe in, for example, the Christian faith, that doesn't make him He admitted there are difficulties involved in integrating I_akota any less Lakota." spirituality and Catholidsm. Many times, those who reject Christian faiths are reacting to "When I was growing up in Dakota sodety, they taught us to "the whole effort of the federal government to assimilate the In- believe in ghosts, disembodied spirits of people. The lime came dian culture into white society," he said. when I made a conscious choice to say I no longer believed in In years past, Black Bear said, it was seen as a proper function ghosts," he said. of schools to assimilate Native Americans into white society. He said he maintains a belief in the existence of spirits, such as Since many schools on reservations were operated by religious angels. "People may find it necessary in some instances to let (a order missionaries, assimilation ~rne to be seen as the will and belie0 go and accept something else in its place," said Black Bear.