Catholic World News

At synod, criticism of state-controlled education, call for greater role for women in Church

October 15, 2012

On October 12--the sixth day of the Thirteenth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops--23 synod fathers spoke on various aspects of the synod’s theme, “The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith.”

Bishop Javier Echevarría Rodríguez, prelate of Opus Dei, called upon priests to frequent the Sacrament of Penance and “regularly sit in the confessional,” and Archbishop Philip Tartaglia of Glasgow said that “we must not be afraid to preach the truth of the Catholic and apostolic faith with courage and openness and frankness, but also with love and compassion, and with persuasiveness and humility, starting always from Jesus Christ.”

Bishop Juan José Pineda Fasquelle, a Honduran auxiliary bishop, called upon parishes to be more devoted to evangelization and less centered upon themselves. “The pastoral renewal of our parishes involves the permanent state of mission; in this way they avoid becoming seats of bureaucracy,” he said.

Bishop Enrico Dal Covolo, rector of the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome, lamented the consequences of state-controlled education:

Schools and Universities (even the Catholic ones) are ever more submitted to the direct control of States … The contents of teaching [are] imposed by the State, not only through the so called programs but also by means of textbooks … In fact in this way a cultural vision distant from Christian faith or even explicitly contrary to it, is insinuated in the minds of the young.

The Trojan horse through which States appropriates the intelligence of students is the formation of professors. In many countries professors are trained solely in the State universities and in any case those who wish to teach must have the State qualification conferred in accordance with the training course established by the States and by State examination.

The progressive de-Christianization of the West has occurred in this way through the de-Christianization of schools and universities. Now a New Evangelization may take place only in the recognition of persons, of their conscience and their rights.

Bishop Brian Dunn of Antigonish (Nova Scotia), whose predecessor (Raymond Lahey) was convicted on child-pornography charges, called for a greater role of women and lay ministers in the Church.

“How do we evangelize those who have been deeply hurt by clergy who have been involved in sexual abuse? … Provide real opportunities of listening and discerning together to appreciate the depth of hurt, anger and disillusionment associated with this scandal,” he said. “This listening ministry could become a part of every diocese in the form of an office of mediation where people could bring their hurts and seek appropriate reconciliation.”

“Consider the reasons why this crisis has happened,” he continued. Put into place measures which will create safe environments for children and all who are vulnerable in the faith community.”

Bishop Dunn also called for

change in certain structures of the Church and in the mentality, attitude and heart in the ways of working closely with lay persons. These changes could include the appointment of pastoral teams consisting of clergy and laity, an official reflection on and recognition of lay ecclesial ministers, a deliberate and systematic involvement and leadership of women at all levels of Church life, e.g., permitting women to be instituted as lectors and acolytes and the institution of the ministry of catechist.

When this happens, the Gospel will be heard anew, our faith will be passed on more effectively, we will be renewed in our faith and our witness will become more authentic in our contemporary world.

Currently, the lay ministries of the lectorate and acolytate are reserved to men alone, while lay persons of either sex, with the approval of the episcopal conference, may fulfill their tasks in the absence of an officially instituted lector or acolyte.

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