News Briefs: June 22, 2012
Catholic business schools urged to help students develop moral compass
Dayton, OH–Business is a vocation from God, Card. Peter Turkson said June 18 at the University of Dayton, calling on Catholic business schools to help students develop a moral compass along with excellence in business education. “Let me insist, business is a noble pursuit,” said Card. Turkson in his keynote address at the eighth annual International Conference on Catholic Social Thought. “At its best, and most true to its nature, business serves the common good. Business and entrepreneurship is a calling from God to be a co-creator in a responsible way.” The cardinal, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, which issued a controversial report last year calling for a “true world political authority” to bring more democratic and ethical principles to the global marketplace, said the business world requires mature leaders who steer these enterprises to benefit human life. “Such leaders must not focus on any single dimension of business to the exclusion of others,” he warned. “Such has been the failure with the unilateral, indeed myopic, embrace of the profit motive. The need for rebalancing in the economy, between profit on one hand and social and environmental concern on the other, is of paramount importance.” Card. Turkson said profit was essential for a company to be sustainable but should not be its purpose. “Profit is a bit like oxygen for a person–it is not the purpose of your life, but you would quickly die without it,” he said. “Yet life is more than oxygen and business is more than profit.”
Vatican II’s Bible promotion said to create vitality in church life
New York–In the 50 years since the Second Vatican Council encouraged Catholics to read, reflect and act on Scripture, there has been a “surging vitality in the life of the church,” according to Card. Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. “There is nothing that the church does that is not rooted in Scripture,” he told participants at the New York Catholic Bible Summit June 16. Card. Turkson gave the English keynote address at the bilingual conference. More than 500 people from three states attended the third annual daylong event at the New York Catholic Center. Mexican Abp. Carlos Aguiar Retes, president of the Latin American bishops’ council, delivered the Spanish keynote. “The Bible is a means of letting the solo tune of Jesus fill the whole symphony of human history,” Card. Turkson said. Listeners nodded in agreement when Card. Turkson said it was unusual for Catholics to open a Bible before Vatican II. They listened to the word of God at Mass and heard it explained in homilies and the catechism, he said. “Dei Verbum,” the council’s document on divine revelation, opened Bible ministry to Catholics and urged them to be informed Christians by venerating God’s word. “The Bible is one of the gifts that God has given to the church,” he said.
Newspaper ads urging people to leave church seen having little impact
Washington–Dialogue generated by full-page newspaper ads placed by the Freedom From Religion Foundation is a good thing, said an associate professor of theology. “The very presence of an ad like that is a symbol for one dimension of the situation of Catholicism in American society today,” said Tom Beaudoin, associate professor of theology at Fordham University’s Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education in New York. The ads, which appeared in the Washington Post, New York Times and USA Today in May and June, encouraged “nominal Catholics” to quit the church. The full-page, in the form of an open letter, cited the US Department of Health and Human Services’ contraceptive mandate, the Vatican’s call for reform of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, and church teaching against artificial contraception and same-sex marriage, as reasons to leave. Beaudoin, who studies de-conversion in modern society, said that religion is changing in the United States and people live their religion differently. In his view, “responding to what the ad represents, rather than going point for point with the ad, is a more promising pastoral, theological response,” he said. Paul Scolese, president of the John Carroll Society in Washington, said the ads misstated Catholic teaching and the church’s stand on religious liberty, but he added that such campaigns were not likely to have an impact or propel a massive movement away from religion. “It was just a medium for this atheist organization to state their position,” Scolese told Catholic News Service. “Their numbers are probably small, but they are very vocal.”
Caring for one’s health has moral, spiritual dimension, says priest
Washington–Jesuit Fr. Peter Clark, a bioethics professor at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, believes Catholics have a moral obligation to care for their health. “Catholics have a right to health care, and therefore (we) have a corresponding duty to take care of our health,” he said in a telephone interview with Catholic News Service. At a time when the rate of obesity among Americans is on the rise, he added that “obesity is both a sanctity-of-life issue and a question of justice.” A recent Gallup study found that Americans are more likely to be at an unhealthy weight than at a normal weight, and that 26 percent of Americans are considered obese. The trend is affecting not only health care costs, but personal well-being. Though there is no simple solution, many, like Fr. Clark, offer a spiritual approach. Tom Hafer, who is a minister with Volunteers for America, a physical therapist and the author of “Faith and Fitness,” uses ecumenical teachings to incorporate spirituality into a wellness lifestyle. To him, prayer is as vital as exercise and proper food when losing weight. “Prayer, or a deeper understanding of our connection to our Creator is necessary,” Hafer told CNS. “Because everything we need for sustaining health and wellness has come from our Creator. The act of exercise itself can be the conduit to a deeper prayer life.” Exercise can be a meditative experience, according to Hafer. He suggested reading a psalm or praying before going for a run, saying the exercise and prayer will complement each other. Because life and well-being are God’s gift, “exercise really is an expression of gratitude and thanksgiving,” he said. Hafer described his job as a lifestyle, not a program, because his work is not necessarily about weight loss, but about “returning to a full life.”
High court: FCC didn’t give enough notice, can’t fine over indecency
Washington–The Supreme Court, in a unanimous ruling, said the Federal Communications Commission did not give sufficient notice that certain words or depictions on broadcast television could be considered indecent and thus subject to fines or other sanctions. The June 21 ruling removes the threat of penalties against Fox and ABC–Fox for language used on awards shows that aired live, and ABC for showing female rear nudity and a side view of a breast on the long-since-canceled police drama “NYPD Blue.” But in the 8-0 decision, the high court did not rule on the constitutionality of the FCC’s policy banning broadcast indecency. Justice Sonia Sotomayor did not participate in the case; she had been a member of a federal district court that heard one aspect of the indecency suit in the 2000s. “Any time you have a potentially hot-button issue that the court decides unanimously, you know the court is doing something very narrow,” said Fordham University Law School professor Abner Greene, a First Amendment expert. Even so, he added, the case is “a good teaching example that justices from different parts of the (ideological) spectrum can get together and agree on something.” Greene told Catholic News Service in a June 21 telephone interview that the indecency issue is “a very complicated law that the justices keep not wanting to address.” As for the future, “we need to wait to see if the FCC is going to continue imposing its policy or not,” Greene said, adding that followers will have to note the “pattern of its application. Is it fairly clear or is it going to be scattershot?”
Lived faith, service, charity keys to evangelization, says synod text
Vatican City–Catholics who act like their faith has nothing to do with daily life and a church structure that is more bureaucracy than service are two impediments to the church’s ability to proclaim faith in Jesus, said the working document for the next world Synod of Bishops. “Every one of the church’s actions has an essential evangelizing character and must never be separated from the duty to help others encounter Christ in faith,” said the document that will guide the work of the synod, scheduled for Oct. 7-28 at the Vatican. Pope Benedict XVI chose as the synod’s theme: “The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith.” The working document, released June 19, said the bishops and other synod participants will focus on: faith in Jesus as the heart of evangelization; how changes in the world impact belief and the practice of the faith; how liturgy, catechesis and charitable activity do or should bring people to faith; and a look at particular ways Catholics evangelize and educate people in the faith. The new evangelization, it said, “will also involve the courage to denounce the infidelities and scandals” within the church and “to acknowledge faults while continuing to witness to Jesus Christ.” Looking within the church, the document said, “many lament the excessive bureaucratic character” of church structures, which are “perceived as being far removed from the average person and his everyday concerns.”
Vatican plans for Year of Faith include hymn, Mass, packed calendar
Vatican City–With a hymn and a prayer, Italian Abp. Rino Fisichella presented the Vatican’s initial calendar of events for the Year of Faith, which begins with a Mass Oct. 11 in St. Peter’s Square. Abp. Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization, said the pope has invited as concelebrants bishops and theologians who, like the pontiff, served as members or experts at the 1962-65 Second Vatican Council. The archbishop said he hoped about 35 “council fathers” would be able to join the presidents of national bishops’ conferences and bishops participating in the world Synod of Bishops in concelebrating the opening Mass. During a news conference at the Vatican June 21, Abp. Fisichella unveiled the sheet music for the official hymn for the Year of Faith, “Credo, Domine, Adauge Nobis Fidem” (I believe, Lord, increase our faith). “I’ll spare you my musical interpretation,” he told reporters, smiling. He also distributed copies of the official Year of Faith logo and prayer card, which features a mosaic image of Christ from the cathedral in Cefalu, Italy. The Nicene Creed is printed on the back of the cards, with the idea that the profession of faith would become “a daily prayer, learned by heart, as it was in the first centuries of Christianity,” the archbishop said.