Catholic Essentials


Milwaukee Archbishop Rembert Weakland has announced plans to take a sabbatical in the first six months of 1996. One of the concerns he intends to reflect on is the divisiveness he sees in the Church today and the incivility occurring in much of the discussion. The point is well taken. Incivility to the point of hostility is growing among dissident Catholics, especially where unattainable and inappropriate hopes for ecclesial change have been raised by sympathetic prelates.


Li Bao Yu, who fled China for the United States with twenty-three other women to escape human rights abuses in the form of forced abortion and sterilization, has been in a California prison with her compatriots for more than two years because she was refused asylum and because, in the words of Congressman Chris Smith, R-NJ, “People who are fleeing forced abortion and forced sterilization are no longer considered refugees.” Smith added, “One of the most shocking things about forced abortion is not that they happen—the Chinese dictatorship is no different from the Nazis when it comes to the sacredness of human life—but that otherwise humane societies such as the United States, under Mr. Clinton’s insistence, might forcibly return women who have managed to escape from them.” Mrs. Yu is reported to be in very poor health in prison due to a hunger strike to draw attention to her plight.


Catholic students objecting to anti-Catholic activities too often face hostility rather than support from administrators of Catholic universities and are forced to take their case to the public. The staff of The Observer of Boston College, a student newspaper attempting to revive authentic Catholicism at the Jesuit institution, is seeking funds for a large mailing of their paper detailing a “drag ball” held on campus by the school’s Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Community (LGBC).

Despite heavy pressure from students and faculty, university president Father Donald Monan, S.J., had denied the LGBC official recognition. Still, the drag ball was held in BC’s elegant O’Connell House, with full approval of the Office of the Dean of Student Development. The event featured cross-dressed performers mocking Fr. Monan, the priesthood, and Christmas, and included strip-tease acts.

For further information or to lend support, contact The Observer of Boston College, Box L-132, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, Mass. 02167. Subscriptions to the paper are $35.00.


The Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) has acquired the Catholic Resource Network (CRNET) a Catholic online service based in the Washington, D.C., area, to expand its media apostolate to the Internet. A press release stated that CRNET’s staff will become the nucleus of EWTN’s new online services department and that CRNET founder Jeffrey A. Mirus will be EWTN’s director of online services. Mirus states, “The acquisition of a small but proven service such as CRNET will give EWTN the in-house expertise needed to rapidly develop a more extensive online presence.” According to the statement, the merger brings to EWTN the largest single online collection of Catholic documents and the expertise of scores of organizations already using the system to advance the Catholic faith.



Bishop Karl Joseph Romer, auxiliary of Rio de Janeiro, has demanded tougher efforts to stem the spread of the sexual exploitation of children. Bishop Romer reports that the rackets are controlled by cartels “of such power that they are ready even to kill authorities.” A police commissioner, Otelo de Oliveira, was murdered while investigating child prostitution late last year.



Participants in a Vatican meeting have rejected criticism of the recent document, “The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality,” released by the Pontifical Council for the Family. Standby clichés of the Church being “out of touch with modern facts of life” had been trotted out to greet the document. American writer Dale O’Leary, a participant in the Vatican meetings, responded to the press that the document advises parents, “You must take charge of the education of your children, and if the school is providing information which is totally inappropriate to the age or development of the child, then you must take a stand. . . .” About the document she said, “Finally someone is speaking clearly.”



Emmanuel Levinas was one of France’s premier philosophers in the twentieth century—yet little known up to his recent death. He was both a profound student of Talmudic studies and of Husserlian phenomenology. Having completed an important work on The Theory of Intuition in the Phenomenology of Husserl at an early age, he later emerged as a philosopher in his own right, often placed among the dialogic philosophers with Martin Buber and Gabriel Marcel. He is singled out twice for special praise in Pope John Paul II’s Crossing the Threshold of Hope, virtually alone among contemporary philosophers to be cited by the pope. His chief philosophical works include Otherwise than Being or Beyond Essence, While Discovering Existence with Husserl and Heidegger, and his magnum opus Totality and Infinity. In this last work, Levinas’s ethical transcendental philosophy gives priority to the good, justice, and the Other in grounding metaphysics in ethics. Emmanuel Levinas’s thought deserves to remain a part of the permanent conversation of the great minds of philosophy.


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