Online Edition – Vol. V, No. 6: September 1999
In the News . . .
Seminarians Meet in Guatemala — Contempt for Eucharist — Seminarians Need Better Formation, says L.C. Priest — "Crisis of Paternity" — Schismatic Nun Faces Dismissal — Priest and Nun Barred from "Ministry" to Homosexuals
More than two hundred seminarians from Latin American countries gathered on July 1-4 in Guatemala City for the first meeting of the Organization of Seminaries of Central America and Mexico (OSCAM). The meeting was inaugurated by Metropolitan Archbishop Prospero Penados del Barrio of Guatemala, and closed by Guatemala’s Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Ramiro Moliner.
The purpose of the gathering, according to Zenit News, was to "find a priestly profile that responds to the social and ecclesial reality of the times". The principal address was given by Bishop Alvaro Ramazzini of San Marcos, who spoke on "The Diocesan Priest of the Present in Latin American and the Caribbean."
On Thursday, July 8th, the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts issued a report clarifying language in the canons on the penalties for disrespect towards the Most Holy Eucharist. Signed by Archbishop Julian Herranz, council president, it responded to a dubium or question about the meaning of the Latin words in Canon 1367 of the Code of Canon Law, which reads:
"A person who throws away the consecrated species or who takes them or retains them for a sacrilegious purpose incurs an automatic (latae sententiae) excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See; if a cleric, he can be punished with another penalty including dismissal from the clerical state."
The dubium asked whether the Latin word "abicere" in the canon should be understood only in the sense of a physical throwing away. The reply was, "Negatively and ‘ad mentem‘". In addition to physical throwing away, said Archbishop Herranz, any outward action that expresses contempt or hostility toward the Sacrament, or any taking with obscene, superstitious or impious intent incurs automatic excommunication, which can only be absolved by the Holy See.
"The greatest problems that afflict priests are caused by a lack of real and profound human maturation of seminarians", according to Father Francisco Mateos of the Legionaries of Christ, director of a special course for rectors, vice-rectors and spiritual directors of seminaries held in Leggiuno, Italy, July 28.
According to Zenit News Agency, the five-week course has been sponsored by the Center for Seminary Formators of the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum (APRA) for the past nine years. During that time, 385 dioceses have sent representatives to the course.
Father Mateos said that "the formation of priests cannot be reduced to an academic curriculum" and that "for this reason, we have developed a program including human and spiritual formation, academic excellence, pastoral preparation, and education in ecclesial communion."
A meeting of the Pontifical Council for the Family this summer warned about the decline in respect for the father’s role in the family, according to L’Osservatore Romano.
This "crisis of paternity" is the result of "deliberate confusion of the sexes", the Council found. Among the factors contributing to the crisis, the Council pointed to the portrayal of fathers in the media, and "ambiguous tendencies of the state regarding one-parent households", and the drive for new models of the family that are not based on marriage.
Recent tragedies acted out in American schools should serve as reminders of "the weakness of an educational system in which the father has been eliminated or has eliminated himself", said the PCF.
The Council warned that this dangerous trend is visible even inside the structures of the Catholic Church, and cautioned against catechetical instruction that accepts the "gender ideology" that asserts "the interchangeability of the sexes." Such an approach can have disastrous consequences, frequently leading to the acceptance of homosexuality and the degradation of marriage.
The Sisters of Saint Joseph have begun a process that could lead to the dismissal of Sister Margie Henninger, known for her involvement in the New Faith Community, a schismatic community in Rochester, New York, led by excommunicated priest James Callan and Mary Ramerman, formerly of Corpus Christi Church in Rochester.
According to the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, a formal letter of warning, the first step in a canonical process that could lead to dismissal, was sent to Sister Henninger, a member of the order for 39 years, who preaches regularly at New Faith services.
Sister Rosemary Saint Peter, spokesman for the order, told the reporter that "Sister Margie has chosen to participate in a prominent, public role in this new faith community, despite repeated requests not to do so. Her actions are incompatible with membership in the Sisters of Saint Joseph".
The eleven-year investigation of the activities and writings of Sulpician Father Robert Nugent and Sister Jeannine Gramick, SSND, founders of New Ways Ministry, ended this summer when the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith prohibited them from any kind of pastoral work with homosexuals.
The decision came five years after the CDF received recommendations of a special commission, headed by Cardinal Adam Maida of Detroit.
Although Nugent and Gramick have refused to retract their views that conflict with Church teaching, they were not silenced or removed from their religious communities.
New Ways Ministry [NWM], a group that does "pastoral" work with homosexuals, had earlier been barred from the Washington, D.C. archdiocese by Cardinal James Hickey, after which the pair moved their operation to Maryland. Complaints were lodged by several other bishops, but some bishops supported their views.
Nugent and Gramick had resigned from NWM, but they continued to publish on the topic and to give workshops and retreats around the US.
NWM is now headed by Francis DeBernardo, who has publicly decried the Vatican action.