– June 2004
Vol. X No. 4
News and Views
Debunking Myths: Vatican Liturgical Dance Rivals "Cats"? — Georgetown: Crucifix Must Stay, Muslim Chaplain says — Consultation on Catechism Compendium Completed — New School in Venice Links East and West
There is a "mythology" in the public perception of the Vatican, said John Allen, Vatican correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter, in a Marquette University talk on April 14.
Among the five "myths" Allen listed that result from "lazy popular journalism", is the "myth of singlemindedness", Milwaukee Catholic Herald writer Candy Czernicki reported in a front page story published April 22:
"According to Allen, ‘people will write sentences that begin "the Vatican thinks — the Vatican hopes". The forms have a shorthand meaning, but (the Vatican actually) is a complex bureaucracy in which people have different ideas. Only from afar does the Vatican look like the Stepford Wives (dressing alike, thinking alike, acting alike)…. It’s not an organization, it’s a bureaucracy, rarely of one mind’", Miss Czernicki reported.
Mr. Allen gave as an example the tensions between the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Office of Liturgical Celebration for the Supreme Pontiff regarding liturgical dance: "The Congregation of Divine Worship is much more conservative, sober, Romanesque", said Mr. Allen. "The Office of Liturgical Celebration doesn’t buy that at all. Their liturgies are more modern, dynamic, expressive". He joked that the liturgical office staff "try to set a record for how many liturgical rules they can break in one papal Mass. These things usually have dance numbers that rival ‘Cats’".
"The Vatican is full of smart, strong-willed people. It has a unique world view that workers tend to assume, yet there is a surprising degree of diversity", said Mr. Allen.
Source: Milwaukee Catholic Herald "U.S. journalist debunks myths about Vatican" www.chnonline.org
"I am convinced that the cross is an important religious symbol for all people", said Imam Yahya Hendi, the Islamic chaplain at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. "And I would object to the cross being removed from classrooms".
Speaking at a conference on campus religious life, Imam Hendi said that as a Muslim he had "no difficulty in working in a classroom where there is a cross". He added: "In fact, I am ready to put up a fight to make sure the cross stays in place!"
Georgetown, the first Catholic university in the US, is also the first Catholic university to hire a full-time Muslim chaplain.
Readers will recall that at Georgetown between the years 1996 and 1999, students of numerous different creeds, ethnicities and backgrounds came together in support of placing crucifixes in Georgetown’s classrooms as a way to reaffirm the Catholic identity of the Jesuit university. Most classrooms lacked crucifixes in 1996.
The effort was led by the Georgetown University Committee for Crucifixes in the Classroom. This student committee had received support from non-Christian students and faculty members as well.
"The crucifix reminds us of the idea of suffering and how we can come to God through suffering. We should have crucifixes in the classrooms", said Rabbi Harold White.
Muslim Professor Maysam al-Faruqi said, "If having a crucifix in every classroom will help Catholics strengthen their faith, then we should have two in each classroom, not just one".
The students — who also gained the support of Cardinal James Hickey and the late Cardinal John O’Connor in their argument with the university administration — eventually prevailed, and in 1999, crucifixes were in all Georgetown classrooms.
Sources: CWNews May 6; Georgetown U Knights of Columbus web site
Preliminary steps toward making the Catechism of the Catholic Church accessible to more people have been completed. The Holy See Press Office Director Joaquin Navarro-Valls made the following statement April 27 concerning the project of creating a compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
"April 30 marks the end of the consultation process of all cardinals and presidents of episcopal conferences on the project for a Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which has been prepared by the special cardinals’ commission and the editing committee.
"In the preparations, an attempt was made to put into action what the Holy Father requested in his letter of February 2, 2003 to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger: ‘The Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church should contain, in a concise form, the essential and fundamental contents of the faith of the Church, respecting its completeness and doctrinal integrity, in such as a way as to develop a sort of "vademecum" [way to proceed or method] that allows people, believers and non-believers, to embrace, in a single, overall glance the entire panorama of the Catholic faith. It will have as its source, model and constant reference point the current Catechism of the Catholic Church which, in keeping intact its authoritativeness and importance, will be able to find, in such a synthesis, a stimulus to be better studied and, more in general, a further instrument of education to the faith’.
"The compendium project thus seeks to faithfully mirror the Catechism of the Catholic Church in its structure and in articulating both contents and language, as it must not be just any compendium of the Catholic faith but a compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
"The project sent for consultation is, in length, about a seventh of the original Catechism and has been edited in the form of a dialogue, with questions followed by synthetic answers. This literary style was preferred as it invites [the faithful] to a more frequent reading, setting up an ideal dialogue between the text and the reader.
"At the end of the project, several principal, common Christian prayers and several formulas of Catholic doctrine were added as an appendix".
Source: Vatican Information Service
An unusual new school will open in Venice this fall. The Studium Generale Marcianum, named for Saint Mark, the patron of Venice, will be a comprehensive center for education, kindergarten through advanced studies in theology and canon law. Presiding at the April 24 inauguration ceremony was Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican Secretary of State.
The "Christian faith as the unitive principle for the interpretation [of] the diverse forms of knowledge" will guide the Marcianum’s program for studies, according to Cardinal Angelo Scola, Patriarch of Venice, who planned the school. In the historic tradition of Venice, the Marcianum is intended as a link between the East and the West — between the Catholic and Orthodox worlds, as well as a bridge to Islam and China. The Christian minorities in the mission countries of the East will be a primary concern of the new school.
According to Cardinal Scola, the Marcianum intends to bring all instruction back to "a place where truth, truth in its purity, is sought, not for other ends, but for itself", quoting Father Romano Guardini.
Before his appointment to Venice two years ago, Cardinal Scola had been the rector of the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome. He had taught theology, and was a disciple of theologians Hans Urs von Balthasar and Henri de Lubac.
The Marcianum will be in full operation for the fall term, but its canon law faculty has been functioning for a year, with students coming from Croatia, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Romania, India, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Congo, and Brazil. Its faculty is affiliated with the Opus Dei‘s Pontifical Holy Cross University in Rome.