By John Norton
Catholic News Service
Vatican City Family issues and ecumenism were among the themes
dominating cardinals speeches during major discussions at the
At a press briefing May 22 just before The Catholic New World
went to press, Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said 39
cardinals took the microphone during the more than five hours
Many said the Catholic Church had to devote more energy to family
and sexual issues through education and greater reflection on
underlying theological and social issues, he added.
Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, head of the Pontifical Council
for the Family, announced that his office was working with 50
international experts on a lexicon of terms relating to sexuality
and family issues.
Navarro-Valls said no further details on the document were available,
but examples of words that might be treated included sexual health
and gender. Definitions of such terms have been debated over
the years in U.N. forums, he noted.
The Vatican spokesman said putting the theme of the family in
the U.S. context, Cardinal Anthony J. Bevilacqua of Philadelphia
listed statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau that showed an increasing
number of unmarried couples who live together and babies born
outside of marriage. The whole notion of what marriage means is
evolving in the United States, the cardinal said.
Reached by telephone, Cardinal Bevilacqua said his speech went
beyond statistics to examine the whole field of marriage and
family life. He declined to elaborate.
Cardinal Frederic Etsou-Nzabi-Bamungwabi of Kinshasa, Congo, said
he considered the damage done to his countrys family life by
a four-year regional African conflict far worse than the more
commonly reported death tolls.
In addition to pulling husband-soldiers from their homes, the
cardinal said the war had prevented children from attending school,
and their idleness led to sexual initiation at an earlier age,
Another frequent word in cardinals mouths was ecumenism, the
Vatican spokesman said.
Cardinal Walter Kasper, the Vaticans top ecumenical official,
called the restoration of Christian unity the theme of the new
millennium. The German prelate said that, despite the churchs
great ecumenical advances since the Second Vatican Council, resistance
and misunderstandings persisted among some Christians, including
Several cardinals said they were disappointed that a hoped-for
gathering of Christian leaders during the jubilee never materialized.
Cardinal Cormac Murphy-OConnor of Westminster, England, proposed
that Pope John Paul II again seek to organize a pan-Christian
Addressing a commonly cited sticking point to Christian unity,
Cardinal Avery Dulles, a U.S. Jesuit theologian, defended the
importance of papal primacy, even in ecumenical dialogue. Paradoxically,
he said, history shows that Christian communities without a clear
head often suffer doctrinal and disciplinary divisions.
Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, head of the Eastern-rite Ukrainian Catholic
Church, said union with the Orthodox Churches should only require
their openness to full communion with the successor of Peter.
Everything else must remain intact. We must not ask anything
more than this, he said.
With union, he said, we Eastern Catholic Churches will have concluded
our historic function and can rejoin the family of the currently
Orthodox sister churches as was our condition before the divisions.
Regarding other issues raised during the meetings, Navarro-Valls
- Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, head of the Vaticans clergy
congregation, said in passing that it would not be useful,
practical or realistic for the pope to convene another ecumenical
council now like Vatican II, which he said still needed implementation.
- Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini of Milan, a Jesuit Biblical scholar,
suggested a Synod of Bishops on the theme of the Word of God in
the life of the church.
- Several cardinals called for improved communications between the
Vatican and local bishops.
As an example of areas that need improvement, one cardinal criticized
the Vaticans occasional practice of releasing church documents
before they have been sent to dioceses and bishops conferences.
In early May, some bishops made the same complaint about the Vaticans
recent instruction on translating liturgical texts.
(Cardinal George's column will return)
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Sunday, May 27-Saturday, June 2:
Sunday, June 3:
11 a.m., Confirmation Mass, Holy Name Cathedral. 2 p.m., Chicago
Project for Violence Prevention Cease Fire Weekend in Chicago.
Monday, June 4:
5:30 p.m., Accept grant for Project Rachel at the Illinois Club
for Catholic Women gathering, The Casino Club.
Tuesday, June 5:
7:30 a.m., Big Shoulders breakfast, Residence. 12 noon, Guest
speaker in Catholic Studies class, De Paul University. 6 p.m.,
Priests Placement Board dinner, Residence.
Thursday, June 7:
12 noon, Big Shoulders lunch, Residence. 2:30 p.m., Employee Service
Awards, Quigley Seminary. 6 p.m., Big Shoulders dinner, Residence.
Friday, June 8: 9 a.m., Address the Catholic Theological Society of America Convention
Mission Ad Gentes, Milwaukee.
Saturday, June 9: 9 a.m., Baccalaureate Mass and commencement
address at Thomas Aquinas College, Santa Paula, Calif.
His Eminence, Francis Cardinal George, announces the following
Rev. R. Peter Bowman, from director of specialized ministries,
to retire after 46 years of service to the archdiocese and be
pastor emeritus of St. James Parish, Arlington Heights, with residence
at St. Teresa of Avila Parish, West Armitage, effective immediately.
Rev. John W. Clemens to be a resident at St. Benedict Parish,
West Irving Park Road, while retaining his duties on the Priests
Placement Board, effective immediately.