Although the total number of priests across the globe continues to decline, the latest numbers show an increase of 1 percent in new ordinations for 1994. This steady increase in ordinations is expected to reduce the average age as well as the death rate of the world’s priest population.
Americans continue to get married more than almost anyone else in the world. (Unfortunately they also get divorced more than almost anyone else in the world!) According to recently released United Nations data, only Cuba had a higher marriage rate—17.7 per 1,000 residents—than the United States, where the rate was 9.3 per 1,000 residents. The U.S. divorce rate, at 4.8 per 1,000, was one of the highest, with only a handful of countries, including quarrelsome Lithuania, topping it. The world’s lowest divorce rate is found in Italy, with a 0.4 rate.
Dr. William R. Bright, president and founder of Campus Crusade for Christ International, has won the 1996 Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion. The Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion, established by billionaire philanthropist Sir John Templeton Jr., is the world’s largest annual award, this year increased in value to 700,000 pounds sterling, more than $1 million. It is awarded each year to a living person who has shown extraordinary originality in advancing humanity’s understanding of God and/or spirituality. Previous winners include Mother Theresa, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, and Michael Novak.
The first annual Templeton Prizes for Inspiring Movies were awarded to Tim Robbins’s death-penalty drama Dead Man Walking, starring Oscar-winner Susan Sarandan, and “The Hunt” episode of CBS’s series Christy, which stars Kellie Martin as a missionary schoolteacher. The awards, which are for $25,000, are designed to highlight entertainment that instills in the viewer a greater understanding of God. Other movie nominees this year included Mel Gibson’s Braveheart, Cry the Beloved Country, First Knight, and Les Miserables.
Helen Alvare, speaking for the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, reacted harshly to President Clinton’s announcement that he will veto a bill banning the killing of partially delivered children: “We are deeply offended by the president’s decision to support a procedure in which doctors mostly deliver a live human child, then brutally kill that child before completing the delivery.” The president’s letter to Congress stressed that he will veto the bill unless it allows doctors to perform partial birth abortions at any time throughout pregnancy, to prevent serious “health” consequences to the mother.
Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, archbishop of Paris, will become an “immortal” in France’s Academie Francaise. The induction ceremony will be attended by French president Jacques Chirac—the first time since the early 1980s that a French president will join the proceedings. As Diana Geddes notes in the National Catholic Register, although Lustiger has written numerous books (one of the most interesting is a wonderful set of interviews with two young French journalists published in English by Ignatius Press—Choosing God-Chosen by God), he has until now resisted the solicitations of the Academy, refusing to see himself as a literary figure. He has allowed his name to be forwarded as candidate only though the explicit urgings of the pope and will soon join the 39 other figures who remain members until their death.