To know in order to love
The Ogarape student center has organized classes to study the Catechism of the Catholic Church in various districts of Asunción, as well as in the neighboring cities of Luque and Lambaré. This effort is in response to the Holy Father’s request that the Jubilee Year be a time for “strengthening the faith and witness of Christians.”
The initiative was well received, and the study groups have multiplied rapidly. Many of those taking part have begun to frequent the sacraments and to approach God more often in prayer. At the same time a greater effort to bring consolation and company to the sick and lonely is apparent.
Dublin , Ireland
Seminar on the communications media
The eighth communications media seminar, held at Cleraun Study Centre on February 12 and 13, offered media professionals another opportunity to reflect on the ethical quality of the contents of news programming. A number of those attending commented that professionals in the media often have meetings about technical aspects of their profession or about working conditions, but that they rarely had an opportunity to reflect on its ethical aspects.
Speakers included Michael Beattie, director of Ulster Television’s program Insight, who spoke about publicizing the suffering of the victims of the confrontations in Northern Ireland. Thierry Garcin, who works for Radio-France, spoke about the coverage of the international humanitarian efforts in the Balkans, the Middle East and Africa. Adrian Moynes, from Channel 1 of Ireland’s national television network (RTE), discussed the objectives that public service broadcasters should have when presenting information. Maggie O’Kane, a correspondent for the London newspaper The Guardian, spoke about some of the ethical aspects of reporting on military conflicts.
Haus Hardtberg, Germany
Liturgical Worship and Adoration of God
The fourth annual conference for German diocesan priests and seminarians was held from March 20 to 22 at Haus Hardtberg, some 20 miles west of Bonn. The past three years were dedicated to preparing for the Jubilee, in accord with the Encyclical Tertio Millennio Adveniente. This year the focus of attention of the talks and meditations was the mystery of the Holy Eucharist, under the general theme of Liturgical Worship and Adoration of God.
The first talk, by Msgr. Klaus Martin Becker, was entitled “Man’s Fulfillment: True Worship.” A quick review of the history of religions showed the widespread human need to worship God. This was followed by a deeper look at the mystery of the Eucharistic celebration as a divine work. In the Eucharist, it is not man, but God himself, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, who is acting.
Auxiliary Bishop Reinhard Marx of Paderborn entitled his presentation: “The State Needs God: Adoration and Liturgical Worship as a Force in Modern Society.” An expert in the Church’s social teaching, Bishop Marx emphasized the responsibility of Christians in today’s society.
Under the title “Art and the Holy Eucharist,” Msgr. Franz Ronig from the University of Trier spoke of the Eucharist as the center of the Church’s life. He recalled the teachings of the Second Vatican Council and urged priests to cultivate Eucharistic piety in their personal lives and in their priestly ministry.
As in previous years, the fifty or so participants had an opportunity to exchange pastoral experiences and to deepen their spiritual life. The days of the gathering also provided a healthy opportunity for relaxation for the participants.
The Jubilee at Torreciudad
The Shrine of Our Lady of Torreciudad, by decision of the Bishop of Barbastro, has been named one of the sites where the Jubilee indulgence can be gained. A number of Jubilee conferences have been organized during these months, including one held on March 20 for priests and their relatives, and another on April 29 and 30 dedicated to volunteer work. On May 13 a Eucharistic concelebration for students was presided over by Bishop Juan Jose Asenjo, the secretary general of the Spanish Bishops’ Conference. On the following day, thousands of farm workers took part in another Jubilee conference, including a large group from Aragon. On May 31, many mothers of families came to gain the Jubilee indulgence. And on June 4, married couples filled the shrine.
The shrine is also celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. Spanish national television transmitted the Mass celebrated to mark this occasion on Sunday May 7. Included among the commemorative activities was the First Conference on Volunteer Work, at which Bishop Omella of Barbastro-Monzon was one of the speakers.
A conference on engagement and marriage was organized by the alumnae association of Kianda School. It was held at Kianda Residence from April 28 to 30. Seventy young professional women attended, among whom were doctors, lawyers and school teachers.
The conference, entitled “Understanding Love,” was directed at future wives and mothers to help them establish a Christian home, which means a united and cheerful home. They were urged to overcome the difficulties that may arise with the optimism that comes from knowing oneself to be a child of God.
Those taking part found great encouragement in seeing that many others shared their ideals. They decided to meet again to study how to help many more people discover the Christian view of marriage, so needed in today’s society.
Santa Teresa, Australia
Work camp in the Northern Territory
Students from Australia and New Zealand joined Australian aboriginal families to usher in the new millennium in Santa Teresa, a mission community founded in 1929 on the border of the Simpson desert. At present the settlement has a population of 600. The group of students was very well received. The work project involved painting and repair work on the local school, and constructing a playground for the children. A number of unexpected jobs came up in the course of their stay, such as helping a carpenter to recondition a house for a new family and lending a hand in rounding up cattle.
Daily Mass, recitation of the Rosary, and talks on Christian doctrine helped the students to grow in their life of piety and in service to others during the vacation month spent in the “outback.” At the end of the work camp the young men were unanimous in affirming that they themselves had received the most benefit from the weeks spent with the aborigine families.
Philosophical questions for the year 2000
“Philosophical and Ethical Questions for the New Millennium” was the title of a series of conferences organized at Ernescliff College during the first months of this year.
On January 10, Professor John Hartley spoke on “Nietzsche, Marx and Freud: the Hermeneutics of Suspicion.” Professor Hartley emphasized internal contradictions in the thinking of these three philosophers. A week later, Dr. Elmar Kremer, a specialist in modern philosophy and the philosophy of religion at the University of Toronto, spoke about “Philosophical and Religious Responses to the Problem of Evil.” And on the 24th, John Liptay, a resident of Ernescliff who is working towards a doctorate in philosophy at the University of Toronto, spoke on “The Natural Law and the Foundations of Morality.”
The conference on January 31, entitled “Organ Donation and Organ Retrieval,” was given by Professor Barry Brown, philosophy professor at St. Michael’s College, University of Toronto. Professor Brown, a member of the Joint Centre for Bioethics, spoke of his experiences as a participant in the policy discussions in the province of Ontario on such topics as brain death, euthanasia, and artificial means for sustaining life.
The final lecturer was Dr. William Sullivan, a physicist and philosopher, who spoke about euthanasia. Dr. Sullivan is an advisor on ethical subjects in the general hospital of North York and professor of the School of Medicine at the University of Toronto. He centered his presentation on active and voluntary euthanasia, and spoke about recent discussions of the subject in the Canadian Parliament and Supreme Court.
Seminar on bioethics
The Vilnelës Cultural Center held its first Seminar on Bioethics for university women on April 1. The sessions were given by a medical student in Vilnius who is a member of the Bioethical Association of Lithuania and head of the bioethical group at the University of Vilnius.
Among the subjects covered during the sessions were: “The Concept of Human Dignity in Bioethics,” “The Juridical, Anthropological and Biological Status of the Human Embryo,” “The Human Genome Project and Genetic Engineering,” “Cloning,” “Determination of the Moment of Death,” and “Euthanasia.” The session dedicated to fecundation in vitro occasioned special attention, since during the days of the seminar the Lithuanian parliament was debating a legislative proposal dealing with this question.
The seminar awakened interest among university women from many different professional fields who were given access to information difficult to find outside of a specialized scientific environment and also an opportunity to receive moral guidance on the questions studied. Those in attendance, representing various religions, were introduced to the arguments in defense of life presented by Pope John Paul II in his encyclical Evangelium Vitae.