November 25, 1997   vol 8, no.38      SECTION ONE

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A puzzling question is posed to the Synod

      Coincidentally during National Puzzle Week, the Synod of America is struggling with another puzzle - the growing lure of sects that are confusing many of the young and the importance of evangelizing through love and example. For more, click on Daily Synod Synopsis to read what several of the bishops have to say about this puzzling predicament.


[The following report-- one in a series of daily reports on the activities of the special Synod of the Americas-- comes through the courtesy of the international news agency ZENIT, based in Rome.]

     It is clear that the sects are not the only problem in America, or even the most important. Nonetheless, these groups are posing serious questions to the Catholic hierarchy of the New World.

      The Synod is beginning to see how the sects and new religious movements, such as "New Age," are successful in both hemispheres simply because the Catholic Church lacks the trained personnel and resources to provide the spiritual help needed by Americans today. Before blaming the sects, therefore, the participants are first analyzing the causes within the Church.

      Bishop Jose Luis Lacunza of Chitré, Panama, explained that the bishops must consider dialogue with other Christian confessions to be an "irreversible decision." In recent years, John Paul II has desired to push forward this movement for unity among those who call themselves followers of Christ. But now the aggressive and proselytizing presence of the so-called "sects" is generating confusion, suspicion, and a defensive attitude, which has raised obstacles to ecumenical dialogue in the Catholic Church. According to the Panamanian bishop, this stems from a lack of ecumenical formation among Christians, especially in Latin America, where ecumenism is perceived as "something unnecessary and superfluous-- a question for experts or even a sign of weakness." How should the Church react?

      One of the fundamental reasons sects are able to draw Catholics away from the Church is a lack of catechetical education, which the Catholic Church can help overcome in a unique way by means of its schools. In the Continent, it directs more than 60,000 primary and secondary schools, with more than 17 million students; in addition, there are 330 universities and 40 theological faculties in the Catholic education system.

      Nevertheless, Cardinal Pio Laghi, prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, pointed out that many of these institutions do not provide an authentically Catholic spiritual formation, because students often do not receive Christian guidance in harmony with the bishops' pastoral initiatives. According to Cardinal Laghi, the adjective "Catholic" should be more than just a decoration; it represents an "educational plan".

      Some Catholic universities are failing to fulfill their educational function as well, according to the General Director of the Jesuits, Father Peter-Hans Kolvenbach. In the last few years, these institutions have been in conflict with the Church over the issue of how Catholic they have to be to be called "Catholic." To resolve this problem, Father. Kolvenbach proposed that these faculties of higher education listen "to the teachings of the Church in an atmosphere of openness which presupposes academic liberty."

      Many sects or new religious movements use economic resources or promises of economic aid as a means of winning converts, especially in Latin America. Msgr. Romulo Emiliani Sanchez, vicar of Darien, Panama, denounced "these campaigns which target the most marginalized members of society" (immigrants, prisoners, the sick, and those living in the slums of major cities). These actions demand a response from the pastors of the Church, above all in reviewing the type of help and social action thus far applied by the Church in these areas. At times, these areas have been politicized, and the need to accompany the sick and imprisoned has been forgotten. "As our presence increases in these areas, the sects' presence will decrease," concluded Monsignor Emiliani.

      Ethnic minorities in particular have left the Church for the sects. Cardinal Bernardin Gantin, prefect of the Congregation of Bishops, asked the Synod to seriously face the challenge of racial integration and charity among ethnic groups, since this belongs to the heart of the Gospel message. Cardinal Gantin, a native of Benin, referred to Rev. Martin Luther King, as "the apostle of non-violence and integration of African-Americans into society." As another example of work in this field, he spoke of St. Peter Claver, the Spanish Jesuit who was a great missionary to Africans in the Columbian city of Cartagena.

      Cardinal Francis Arinze, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, spoke of the fascination many American Christians have for Eastern religions, as evident in the popularity of Oriental meditation and asceticism, as well as yoga. According to Cardinal Arinze, all bishops, priests, and religious must feel responsible for teaching the Christian faithful the riches of Christian meditation, prayer, contemplation, asceticism and mysticism.

      This crisis requires a decisive response on the part of every bishop. Archbishop Charles Joseph Chaput asked the bishops of the Synod how they view their work as bishops. He asked that every bishop ask himself at the end of the day, before going to sleep: Am I an apostle or am I a manager? "We are evangelizers first. That is our paramount purpose."

      Archbishop Carmelo Juan Giaquinta of Resistencia, Argentina, added this observation: "The Church would be more credible if we talked less about ourselves and more about Jesus Christ crucified."

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Steering through the Maze of the Laity's Role

      Continuing with the theme of National Puzzle Week, we help steer the faithful through the mystifying maze liturgical commissions have created regarding the role of the laity in assisting the Priests at Mass. The sure guide to finding the right way is the 37-page Instruction guidelines released by the Vatican last week on Instruction on certain questions regarding the collaboration of the non-ordained faithful in the sacred ministry of the priest. It's the perfect compass for navigating through the rhetoric and obstacles liberal liturgists have constructed. Click on THE VICAR OF CHRIST SPEAKS for the seventh installment of these firm and clear instructions.

INSTRUCTION on Certain Questions regarding the Collaboration of the Non-ordained Faithful in the Sacred Ministry of Priest

Seventh installment: THEOLOGICAL PRINCIPLES part three
2. Unity and Diversity of Ministerial Functions

     The functions of the ordained minister, taken as a whole, constitute a single indivisible unity in virtue of their singular foundation in Christ. (36) As with Christ,(37) salvific activity is one and unique. It is signified and realized by the minister through the functions of teaching, sanctifying and governing the faithful. This unity essentially defines the exercise of the sacred minister's functions which are always an exercise, in different ways, of the role of Christ as Head of the Church.

      Therefore, since the exercise of the munus docendi, sanctificandi et regendi by the sacred minister constitute the essence of pastoral ministry, the diverse functions proper to ordained ministers form an indivisible unity and cannot be understood if separated, one from the other. Rather they must be viewed in terms of mutual correspondence and complementarity. Only in some of these functions, and to a limited degree, may the non-ordained faithful cooperate with their pastors should they be called to do so by lawful Authority and in accordance with the prescribed manner. "He (Jesus Christ) continually provides in his body, that is, in the Church, for gifts of ministries through which, by his power, we serve each other unto salvation...".(38)

"The exercise of such tasks does not make Pastors of the lay faithful, in fact, a person is not a minister simply in performing a task, but through sacramental ordination. Only the Sacrament of Orders gives the ordained minister a particular participation in the office of Christ, the Shepherd and Head in his Eternal Priesthood. The task exercised in virtue of supply takes its legitimacy formally and immediately from the official deputation given by Pastors, as well as from its concrete exercise under the guidance of ecclesiastical authority".(39)

      This doctrine needs to be reaffirmed especially in the light of certain practices which seek to compensate for numerical shortages of ordained ministers arising in some communities. In some instances, such have given rise to an idea of the common priesthood of the faithful which mistakes its nature and specific meaning. Amongst other things, it can encourage a reduction in vocations to the (ministerial) priesthood and obscure the specific purpose of seminaries as places of formation for the ordained ministry. These are closely related phenomena. Their interdependence calls for careful reflection so as to arrive at well considered conclusions in their regard.

NEXT ISSUE: Theological Principles -part four 3. The Indispensability of the Ordained Ministry

Pope Alexander III triumphs in the Monopoly Game of kings

      It is also National Board Game Week and the pontiff we treat in the forty ninth installment of our on-going series on Church History was a master at working the board, so to speak...from England to the Eastern Church Pope Alexander III manuevered the pieces through the obstacles of kings and four antipopes to ensure that the Holy See would be forever strong both in stature and in jurisprudence with the many decisions he left that have been inscribed in much of our Code of Canon Law today. Click on History of the Mass and Holy Mother Church


Installment Forty Nine

Pope Alexander III: The Middle Ages' Alexander the Great

Installment Forty Nine

     The natural successor to Pope Adrian IV, the Church’s only pontiff of English descent was his Italian-born papal counselor Cardinal Orlando Roland Bandinelli who came from intellectual stock in the field of law and who, himself, had been a renowned professor of the art in Bologna as well as a celebrated canon lawyer in Pisa. Though he faced some opposition from a small band of pro-Holy Roman Empire cardinals who pushed their candidate Cardinal Ottavianno of Monticelli, the majority, who favored the pro-Norman policy established by Adrian, tilted the papal election in favor of Bandinelli on September 7, 1159. This met with bitter resistance by the pro-imperialist faction and the new pontiff, not even consecrated yet, had to seek refuge in the safe Norman territory to the south. It wasn’t until September 20th that Bandinelli was consecrated in the remote village of Nympha in the province of Volcia to the south. He chose the name Pope Alexander III, taking the name of a predecessor a century earlier in 1061. Meanwhile, the pro-imperialist cardinals, refusing to recognize Alexander, through the Holy See into confusion once more by elevating their own man - Ottaviano as pope - an antipope, of course. He took the name Victor IV on October 4, 1159 at the German-held abbey in Farfa northeast of Rome. The Church was once again in schism. It opened the door for German king Frederick I Barbarossa to regain the control he had seen slip away under Adrian IV. He called a council made up of mostly pro-imperialist bishops at Pavia in February the following year. There the Emperor coerced the council to condemn Alexander and endorse Victor. Alexander retaliated by excommunicating Frederick on March 24th, 1160. It was the beginning of a schism that would last nearly two decades and one which Alexander would be greatly persecuted for and which he would outlive. Because they were natural enemies of the Germans, England, France, and Spain sided with Alexander. Meeting in Toulouse, France with the English King Henry II and France’s King Louis VII present, they pledged loyalty to the real Pope; the latter inviting the Holy Father to take up residency in France. This he did, setting up the curia at Sens. This lasted until 1165 when Alexander returned to Rome at the invitation of a desperate Roman population, but only for a short time.

      By 1164 Victor had died, but this did not stop the abomination from continuing as Paschal III was thrown on the throne by Frederick. Paschal III who had been Cardinal Guido of Crema, a pro-imperialist cardinal who had worked in the Holy See for years but bitterly opposed Alexander. With Paschal as antipope, the bishops did an about face and refused to acknowledge him. Frederick was livid and called the diet of Wurzburg on May 22 1165 whereby he forced the bishops to recognize Paschal and not Alexander with the threat of severe penalties. Many caved in, but there were many who didn’t and as the months went by, more and more, even within Germany, turned their backs on Frederick and his puppet Paschal and returned in reconciliation to Alexander. This strengthened the latter’s position, not only in western Europe, but eastern Europe as well where the Eastern Emperor Manuel I Commenus expressed hope the schism in the Latin Church could work in favor of reuniting the Eastern and Western Churches. To help effect this, he requested Alexander crown him "universal emperor." Alexander, a wise man, realized the ambitious emperor was only trying to gain power at the pontiff’s expense. Thus, he proceeded cautiously, delaying any action. As time passed, so did Paschal. In his place the weakened band of pro-imperialist cardinals elected, on their own, Cardinal Giovanni who took the name Callistus III but he could not even get the attention of Frederick, let alone the people. Alexander was overshadowing anything the pro-imperialists could throw at him, and, for the most part ignored their veiled threats. But, in the west, he couldn’t ignore what was happening in the British Isles where Henry II was striving to wrest control of the clergy in England by downgrading the power of the Holy See. He backed Saint Thomas Becket archbishop of Canterbury in his disputes with Henry over this power-control issue and for it, Beckett gave his life in martyrdom for the cause of Holy Mother Church in 1170. Alexander responded by chastising the king and convincing him to become a penitent ruler and adhering to all Rome pronounced. This Henry II did. Alexander’s growing prestige and power reached its zenith in 1176 when the forces of Barbarossa and Alexander’s alliance of the Lombard League met in battle. The latter was victorious and Barbarossa was reduced to a crawling subject. When news reached Paschal, he fled Rome fearing for his life. To mark the official end of the schism, Alexander triumphantly convened the Third Lateran Council on March 5, 1179. The Council reaffirmed the reforms long promoted by Alexander and first generated by Pope Saint Gregory VII and proudly proclaimed the supremacy of the papacy. This eleventh ecumenical council also passed the rule still in force today - that it would take two-thirds of a majority to elect a pope. Bishops pledged anew their loyalty to Alexander and the Holy Father called for an established procedure for persecuting heretics which proved to be the beginning of an organization that would gain great power a few centuries later: the Inquisition.

     Alexander’s law expertise and judicial decisions contributed greatly to establishing many of the codes we have today in Canon Law. In addition, though a man of military knowledge, Alexander more often than not chose the path of peace through negotiation before taking up the sword as a last resort. He influenced the Christian world greatly in denouncing the evils of slavery of the surfs and, in many ways, helped inaugurate the eventual end of the medieval age with the end of serfdom as we shall see in future installments.

     After the Lateran Council he returned to Rome, but a few die-hard pro-imperialist cardinals didn’t get the message and nominated their own antipope Innocent III to replace Paschal. But he was no match for Alexander and was dispatched within a few months as 1180 dawned. Always a pontiff on the move, Alexander spent the final years of his pontificate traveling from town to town throughout Italy evangelizing to the citizens and reassuring them of the power of the Holy See. It was in one of these small villages - Civita Castellana, just north of Rome - that God took home this one hundred and seventieth successor to Peter on August 30, 1181. His body was returned triumphantly to Rome for burial in the Lateran palace, but the pestering families aligned with the rebuked pro-imperialist assaulted the funeral cortege and pelted his coffin with stones and wrote insults all over the sarcophagus. Despite the insults, nothing could prevent this Pope from going down in the annals of Church history as one of the great pontiffs who left an enduring mark on Holy Mother Church in the governing and prestige of the Holy See.

NEXT ISSUE: Pope Lucius III: The peaceful pope tries to reinforce the defense against hersesy.

To review all past installments of this on-going series, go to Archives beginning with the inaugural A CALL TO PEACE internet issue in January 1996. volume 7, no. 1.

Liturgy's Last Week

As we wind down this final week of the Church year, we have all Weekday Masses in Ordinary Time for the rest of the Week, climaxing with the commemoration of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Saturday before Advent begins the next day. Click on LITURGY OF THE DAY

Tuesday, November 25:

Thirty-fourth Tuesday in Ordinary Time, November 25:

Wednesday, November 26:

Thirty-fourth Wednesday in Ordinary Time, November 26:


Today's Proverb ties in with Pope Alexander III in his conquest of kings

"The king's wrath is like messengers of death, but a wise man can pacify it."

Proverbs 16: 14

Medjugorje Monthly Message

October 25th Message

   Dear children: Today I invite you to comprehend your Christian vocation. Little children, I led and am leading you through this time of grace, that you may become conscious of your Christian vocation. Holy martyrs died witnessing: I am a Christian and love God over everything. Little children, today also I invite you to rejoice and be joyful Christians, responsible and conscious that God called you in a special way to be joyfully extended hands toward those who do not believe, and that through the example of your life, they may receive faith and love for God. Therefore, pray, pray, pray that your heart may open and be sensitive for the Word of God. Thank you for having responded to my call!
For more on Medjugorje, click on MEDJUGORJE

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November 25, 1997 volume 8, no. 38         DAILY CATHOLIC

November 1997