ONLINE
FEBRUARY 9 , 2004

INSIDE
THIS ISSUE

Diocese to pay record amount to settle lawsuit

Elderly victims of clerical sex abuse keep silent
Salvador Gonzalez is ordained an Oblate priest

Religious communities challenge investment policies

Diocesan investment policies
Nuns honored for funds in alternative projects

Protests planned against
execution of Kevin Cooper

Diocese mourns death of Msgr. Michael Lucid
Shelter advocates resort
to vouchers
Church groups seek solutions to homelessness

Chinese and Vietnamese celebrate New Year

Pope tells Cheney to seek international cooperation

Bush budget criticized
for cuts in AIDS funds

African bishop reiterates need for aid in Eritrea
Author explores reasons
for shift in Christianity
Commentary:
• Julie McCarty
• David Gushee
• Rabbi Marc Howard Wilson
 

 

 

 

Official newspaper of the Roman Catholic
Diocese of Oakland, California encompassing all of
Alameda &
Contra Costa counties.

BISHOP
VIGNERON

FRONT PAGE

Site blessing postponed

The blessing of the site for the new Cathedral of Christ the Light, scheduled for Feb. 15, has been postponed. No new date has been announced.

FRONT PAGE

Diocese issues report on sex abuse
and efforts to redress the wrongs

By Barbara Erickson
Associate editor

In an open letter to East Bay Catholics, Bishop Allen Vigneron has reviewed the issue of clergy sexual abuse of minors in the diocese and the Church’s response to victims and perpetrators, acknowledging with sorrow the grave harm and scandal that these acts have caused.

His statement grew out of the U.S. bishops’ study of the incidences of abuse in each diocese, which is to be publicly released later this month. Bishop Vigneron’s letter reports on the results of this survey in the Diocese of Oakland.

The document gives the number of known victims, reported by the decade in which the abuse occurred, and the number of priests who have faced accusations. It covers 53 years of the church in Alameda and Contra Costa counties.

At present the diocese knows of 72 confirmed victims and 24 priests who have been charged with valid claims of abuse. Most of these cases date back to the 1960s and 70s, but Bishop Vigneron acknowledges that “it is quite possible that other minors were also abused and have not come forward.”

In addition, the bishop’s report details the amount of money spent on sexual abuse cases, noting that nearly $5.5 million has been paid in settlements. The diocesan portion is $1,251,000 of that amount. The diocese has also paid more than $600,000 for counseling for victims and more than $1 million for the counseling and treatment of priests who have abused children.
Archbishop William Levada of San Francisco, Bishop Daniel Walsh of Santa Rosa and Bishop William Weigand of Sacramento have also released the results of their surveys. The Diocese of San Jose is expected to publicize its findings the week of Feb. 15.

From 1950 to the present, Archbishop Levada stated in a document dated Jan. 30, 2004, 51 priests serving the archdiocese received credible charges of abuse involving a minor, with 148 victims involved. As in Oakland, the majority of known incidents of abuse took place in the 1960s and 70s, with more than 85 percent occurring before 1980.

The San Francisco Archdiocese also reported that it has paid out $10.25 million for settlements, therapy and counseling and legal defense, with $9.25 million going to settlements. These costs were paid by insurance carriers and the archdiocese’s “self insurance program.” The statement noted that from 33 to 40 percent of settlement money goes to legal fees.

In the Diocese of Sacramento, Bishop Weigand reported in an open letter released on Jan. 10 that by the end of 2002, the local church had received credible complaints against 17 priests. The diocese had paid out $1.5 million in services to victims, settlements and legal fees, most of which has been covered by insurance.

In Sacramento and San Francisco, as well as in Oakland, a small percentage of charges against priests have been dismissed or dropped.
Archbishop Levada’s letter notes that 56 priests were charged with abuse, and the claims against five of them – involving five victims – had insufficient evidence to sustain the allegations. In Sacramento four accused priests were exonerated, and in the Oakland Diocese, 29 priests were accused of abuse and five were cleared by police, Child Protective Services, psychiatric testimony and by the alleged victim’s withdrawing the complaint.

In his letter, Bishop Vigneron also recounts the diocese’s efforts to deal with the crisis, beginning in 1987 with a set of policies requiring a prompt response to accusations of abuse. Since 1993, he notes, a review board has investigated claims of abuse and recommended action.

In his letter, the bishop also describes diocesan outreach and ministry to victims of abuse, programs to ensure the safety of children and young people and policies to screen candidates to the priesthood. He remarks on apology services, held in the past and scheduled for the future, which acknowledge the harm done to victims, families and parishes.

Once again, in his letter, Bishop Vigneron apologizes for the acts of abuse and begs pardon “from all who have been hurt by them.” He reiterates his commitment to uphold the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, adopted by the U.S. bishops in 2002, and he asks Catholics to join him in “praying daily for healing, reconciliation and peace.”

Churches rally for Measure A
to protect health care for poor

By Barbara Erickson
Associate editor

Local organizers at St. Leander Parish in San Leandro have taken up the battle to pass Measure A, an initiative to preserve the health care system for uninsured residents of Alameda County. Health services in the county are already in crisis and facing additional cuts under the proposed state budget.

To highlight this initiative, a group of parishioners is sponsoring a forum after the 11 a.m. Mass on Feb. 22 to get the word out to the community. Under the auspices of Congregations Organizing for Renewal, a coalition of churches that addresses the needs of southern Alameda County, the forum will feature local elected officials, refreshments, music, presentations by a doctor and a public health nurse and a video.

According to COR director Gina Martinez, leaders in the coalition discovered the critical need for health care even before Measure A was drafted. This was evident in surveys of St. Leander parishioners, especially the Spanish-speaking, Martinez said, where about 70 percent of those questioned said that they or at least one of their children lacked insurance.

“That’s what made it compelling to us to make sure that these services remain available to people,” said Martinez. “As we’ve become more and more involved in the campaign, we’ve realized just how urgent it is.”

Measure A would add one half of one percent to the sales tax within the county in order to keep the Alameda County Medical Center afloat. The center includes Highland Hospital, its emergency services and on-site clinics, Fairmont Hospital, the John George Psychiatric facility and outpatient clinics in Oakland, Newark and Hayward.

The medical center is already in financial crisis, with an estimated $71.6 million deficit for the 2003-2004 fiscal year. This is due to a decrease in federal and state funding, an increasing number of uninsured patients and higher costs. Between 1995 and 2001 in California, the number of uninsured patients at county hospitals increased by 13.3 percent, while this population decreased by 12.8 percent at non-public hospitals.

These facts are highlighted in a report by the California Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems titled “On the Brink,” which states, “No business can be expected to remain financially viable when an ever-increasing number of its customers cannot pay.”

Nancy Craig, a county public health nurse since 1968 and a parishioner at St. Leander, said two clinics where she used to work as a nurse practitioner have both been closed in an effort to cut costs, and staff have been laid off. Patients are forced to wait much longer for appointments, she said, and she worries that many will simply go without medical care until they face an emergency.

“That usually means that they wind up in an emergency room needing a higher level of care,” Craig said. Most of these patients are low income and have no health insurance. “Many are recently unemployed,” she said, or they are working without benefits, often in part-time and minimum wage jobs. This group has grown in recent years.

“There is nowhere else to go,” said Craig, who is active in the St. Leander social justice committee and COR. “If something happens to the clinics, they’ll all wind up at Highland in the emergency room.”

The Alameda County Medical Center provides inpatient and outpatient care 24 hours a day in more than 40 different primary and specialty services, treating emergency traumas, and psychiatric, dental, surgical, and internal medical cases, among others. From January through November last year the center provided more than 48,000 patient bed days; handled more than 30,000 medical cases and took care of more than 115,000 patient visits to its clinics.

Since many patients receiving these services are uninsured, the center finds itself providing $31 million annually in uncompensated charity care. It provides 80 percent of the hospital-based uncompensated care in the county, where, at any given time, 12 to 16 percent of the residents are without insurance.

The medical center is also an accredited teaching and training facility in several specialties.

Measure A would raise an estimated $90 million annually, with 75 percent of the revenue going to the Alameda County Medical Center and 25 percent to various hospitals, clinics and community-based health care organizations. A citizens oversight committee would monitor how the tax money is spent.

The measure needs a two-thirds vote of the electorate to pass, and if approved on the March 2 ballot, tax collection would begin on July 1, 2004 and end on June 30, 2019.

Martinez said that a loss of medical center services would affect not only those who rely on them for health care, but also many members of the community who work at the center and in the health professions.

The COR initiative to support Measure A, she said, is not simply a political issue. “We’re trying to ground it in our faith,” she said, “as we always do.” She cited a document on health care prepared by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which states that the right to health care “flows from the sanctity of human life and the dignity that belongs to all human persons.”

The statement continues, “Special attention should be given to meeting the basic health needs of the poor. With increasingly limited resources in the economy, it is the basic rights of the poor that are frequently threatened first.”

INSIDE STORIES

Diocese to pay record amount to settle sex abuse lawsuit

By Voice staff

In one of the largest clergy abuse settlements to an individual in California, the Diocese of Oakland has agreed to pay $3 million to a woman who was sexually assaulted by her pastor when she was a child.

Diocesan officials said that more than two-thirds of the Jan. 23 settlement will probably come from insurance payments.

The diocese now faces about 40 more cases, some filed in the last weeks of 2003, during a one-year window of opportunity when the state lifted the statute of limitations for civil claims alleging sexual abuse.

With an eye to future negotiation in these cases, Oakland joined six other California dioceses in asking that all civil sex abuse cases be assigned to a judge in Santa Clara County. The cases in Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose, Stockton, Santa Rosa and Monterey may come to 150 in all.

In the most recent settlement, Jennifer Chapin, now a psychiatric nurse, said her abuse included rape and ritualistic attacks with religious objects by the late Msgr. George Francis, beginning when she was six years old and continuing for four years at St. Bede Parish in Hayward.

“This young woman has suffered terribly and she deserves everything she received,” Carondelet Sister Barbara Flannery, chancellor of the Oakland Diocese, told the Los Angeles Times.

The settlement is one of the first to resolve claims filed during the one-year exemption from the statue of limitations. Statewide, dioceses are now facing as many as 800 such suits recorded during 2003. Last spring the state Judicial Council ruled that cases filed in Southern California were to be moved to Los Angeles County.

Coordinating Northern California cases under a single judge would insure that consistent standards are applied in all cases, the dioceses maintain, and would streamline legal proceedings.

“If you have hundreds of lawsuits in different counties,” said Stephen McFeely, a Los Angeles attorney representing the Diocese of Oakland, “one judge might look at things one way and a different judge in another way.” In addition, he said, a single judge would act “as a traffic cop” by coordinating timelines and other arrangements.

He added, “The Diocese of Oakland has settled a number of the cases against it, and we hope that this procedure will facilitate the fair settlement of the rest of them.”

The petition to bring all cases under one judge was filed before the Judicial Council, which will assign a judge to decide on the issue.

The Sacramento Diocese did not join the others but plans to seek a separate coordination of cases it faces.

Sacramento’s diocesan attorney, Edward Heidig, said that the diocese will soon seek coordination of all of its pending sexual abuse cases in Sacramento Superior Court under Judge Michael Virga.

“Like the other dioceses requesting coordination, we, too, firmly believe coordination facilitates full and fair hearing of these sensitive and important cases,” Heidig said.

“However, primarily because of the size and geography of our diocesan territory, which runs from San Francisco Bay to the Oregon border, we would prefer to coordinate our cases in Sacramento, which is more centrally located for all parties involved in our cases, if the court is amenable to this possibility.”

Elderly victims of clerical sex abuse
are more likely to have kept silent

By Sean Kirst
Religion News Service

A few days ago, Charlie Bailey answered the phone at his Baldwinsville, N.Y., home.

The caller identified himself only as an elderly man. He wanted to express his sympathy for Bailey, who had gone public with his account of boyhood abuse by a Roman Catholic priest. The caller said the same thing had happened to him, as a child, many years ago.

But he would not give Bailey his name or phone number. The conversation ended. Bailey’s caller went back to suffering alone.

His reluctance to seek help underlines a concern for national leaders in the movement for healing victims of clerical abuse: The overwhelming majority of allegations against priests or other church employees have come from children of the baby boom, who grew up from the 1950s into the 1980s.

As for older Americans, most of them are keeping their horrors to themselves.
“In that generation, you didn’t question the church,” said Bailey, 52, coordinator of the Syracuse, N.Y., chapter of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP. “I believe there’s just so much shame and guilt and embarrassment.”

Men and women born in the late 1930s or earlier were especially vulnerable to sexual predators. Countless thousands of elderly Americans spent their childhoods in Catholic orphanages, seminaries or convents during the Great Depression, isolated from any way of seeking help. Catholic parents were often immigrants or first-generation citizens, steeped in church rules of obedience.

Compound that with the clinical reality that abuse begets abuse — meaning that many of today’s pedophile priests are part of a chain that started long ago — and logic would indicate that pre-World War II conditions made a fertile ground for molesting children.

But the number of reported allegations from that era remains low.
David Clohessy, 47, became national director of SNAP after he went public with his own tale of abuse. Of the hundreds of victims he has met or counseled over the years, Clohessy estimates only a small percentage came of age before World War II.

The memory of one victim is enough to bring Clohessy to tears. He recalled taking a phone call from an 86-year-old, a retired basketball coach. The man wanted help in writing a letter that would be added to his will. The letter would explain to his children what a priest had done to him.

“The guy called me out of the blue, and he had been living with this (alone) for decades and decades,” Clohessy said. “He’d always been afraid that if people knew he’d been abused by a priest, that they wouldn’t want their kids on his basketball team.”

The image haunts Clohessy, this vision of white-haired men and women who continue to hide their ordeals from their spouses and their children.

The code of silence, Clohessy said, was much stronger in the America of 60 or 70 years ago. Mothers and fathers were afraid of challenging the church, and a child’s word had little chance against the aura of a priest.

One major difference for elderly victims is that the priests who caused their pain have probably been dead for years. With no chance to bring about a reckoning, many victims might wonder why it’s worth it to seek help.

Clohessy’s answer: “Because the truth will set you free. Because you can say to your children and your grandchildren, ‘This happened to me and this is how I suffered, and don’t you dare stay silent if the same thing happens to you.’”

 

Salvador Gonzalez
is ordained an Oblate priest

Oakland Bishop Allen Vigneron ordained Salvador Gonzalez, a member of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, as a priest on Jan. 24 at Sacred Heart Church in Oakland. Gonzalez, 32, is a native of Mexico who grew up in Oakland. As a young acolyte at St. Mary Parish, he was impressed by the Oblates at the parish and later joined the community because of its missionary spirit and service to the poor.

Religious communities challenge investment policies

By Sharon Abercrombie
Staff writer

In the past 30 years, religious communities have extended their influence from school classrooms to corporate boardrooms, calling on wealthy corporations to look beyond profits to issues of social and economic justice.

These activists are challenging companies to change their ways — to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, create equitable pay scales, and end sweatshop labor practices. They show up at shareholder meetings to ask those present to join them in opposing injustice.

Their work is an uphill battle; the men and women religious leading this fight often return year after year to hammer away at the same issues. But they have scored some notable successes.

Burlingame Sister of Mercy Susan Vickers, director of advocacy for Catholic Health Care West, for instance, managed to convince Cypress SemiConductor to work toward including minority women on its board. She also helped persuade General Electric to report to shareholders on how it can reduce greenhouse gas emissions from its factories and how it plans to produce more energy-efficient kitchen appliances.

Both of these achievements required persistence — repeated phone calls, collecting data, meeting with management representatives, planning strategies and then appearing at annual shareholder meetings.

This is the same kind of battle waged last fall by Holy Names Sister Gloria Diaz of Santa Cruz and Tim Mitchell, regional director for the Christian Brothers Investment Services, which manages nearly $3 billion for Catholic organizations. In November they addressed 800 shareholders at the annual meeting of CISCO 0Systems in San Jose and asked the company to study the gap in pay between its highest and lowest levels.

The pair told the crowd that at the same time CISCO CEO John Chambers received a raise, the company laid off nearly 9,000 workers. The disparity in pay, they said, has risen to 282-to-1, seven times the rate in 1987, and although the company was among the top 50 in layoffs in 2001, median CEO pay still rose 44 percent.

“These corporate practices have resulted in the unchecked and growing concentration of wealth and privilege. This system does not promote the common good – economically, ecologically, socially or politically,” said Sister Diaz.

Their resolution asking CISCO to study the pay gap received nine percent of shareholder votes, which means the measure can be returned to the 2004 stockholders’ meeting. CEO John Chambers and his board members expressed their willingness to continue the dialogue, Sister Diaz said, and Chambers was among those who applauded the advocates’ speeches.

It is action like this that has drawn the attention of business commentators. Last year, a story headlined “Sisters on the Warpath and How to Pacify Them,” in the Corporate Board Member magazine advised executives how to respond when approached by activists “who seem armed with both spiritual and material might.”

“If you meet Susan Vickers…or Marcie Solms or Stella Storch, take them very seriously. “Call each of them ‘Sister,’ since they are all women who have taken religious vows. And take them very seriously. As shareholder activists who represent billions in investor clout, they don’t make meekness part of their delivery system,” warned the author, Alison Rogers.

Although their resolutions often get minimal shareholder support, “to ignore them could be a big mistake —these votes are wake-up calls,” Rogers wrote. A resolution that fails to gain a majority its first year on the agenda needs to win support from only three percent of the shareholders to be eligible for filing again the following year, when it can gain even more votes, Rogers notes.

She also points up the influence some of these activists can count on. Sister Vickers’ organization, Catholic Health Care West, she writes, has a portfolio of $1.75 billion with 41 acute-care facilities in California, Arizona, and Nevada and represents eight religious congregations.

But Sister Vickers does not see herself as someone on the “warpath.” Her rallying cry includes words like “preferential option for the poor and for the earth”… “human rights”…. and “economic justice.” And in her pursuit of corporate justice, Sister Vickers dialogues with corporations by letter, conference calls and face-to-face meetings

During a recent phone interview, Sister Vickers said that shareholder advocacy is a “pressure point” used to convince companies that they have a responsibility to the community and to the planet. “We have a real desire for a company to succeed,” she said, but the bottom line for its success must be tied to “a more equitable economy.”

Her type of advocacy has developed since Vatican II, according to Adrian Dominican Sister Corinne Florek, an investment analyst and strategic planner for JOLT, an Oakland-based investment group for religious communities. In the late ‘60’s, she said, the Council’s documents began pouring out of Rome, filled with exciting new language. These writings called for “the People of God” to read the signs of the times, and to address a new concept called “social sin,” said Sister Florek.

“There was a convergence of all these movements which had sprung up around civil rights and protests against the Vietnam War. We began to question why poor people were staying poor and the rich were getting richer. It was a movement of critical mass, the 100th monkey,” said Sister Florek.

Capuchin Franciscan Father Michael Crosby of Milwaukee, a writer, lecturer, and social activist, noted that many religious were beginning to question whether churches were profiting off the war, and how their investments might be contributing to death and destruction.

Father Crosby points to a major galvanizing event: In 1971, the Episcopal Church filed a resolution calling on General Motors to withdraw from South Africa, a move celebrated as the beginning of faith community leadership in the corporate social responsibility movement.

That same year, the National Council of Churches founded the Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility (ICCR). In 1973, Father Crosby and his community of Capuchin Franciscans opened a Justice and Peace Center and held two meetings for representatives of both women’s and men’s religious communities. The sessions prompted them to begin looking seriously at their investment portfolios.

It was a radical thing to do, recalls New York Sister of Mercy Patricia Wolf. Sisters and priests doing investment activism then were considered “fringe, naïve and uninformed.” But gradually, “our work has gained respect,” said Sister Wolf, director of ICCR since 2001. Today, public and corporate opinion has shifted.
“Sometimes corporate managers are partners with ICCR.”

Her organization has 275 institutional investors from faith-based organizations representing pension funds, dioceses, religious orders, denominations, health systems, foundations and publishing houses. The combined portfolio value of ICCR members is an estimated $90 billion.

ICCR has regional affiliates all over the United States, such as the East Bay’s JOLT. ICCR works with a network of socially responsible investment firms, unions, foundations, environmental and human rights organizations and is a center for shareholder advocacy. Some of ICCR’s campaigns include divesture from South Africa, adoption of the World Health Organization code on infant formula, and the clean up of PCBs from the Hudson River.

Last year ICCR members, who include the Christian Brothers Investment Services, the Sisters of the Holy Names and CHW, filed 140 resolutions with 92 companies.

So what’s next in the realm of socially responsible investing?
“Staying in for the long haul,” answers JOLT’s Sister Florek. Adds Sister Kay McMullen, a Notre Dame de Namur religious and a JOLT affiliate, “There are always new issues crying out for redress.”

Sister McMullen serves as corporate responsibility coordinator for her community. This year the group is looking at the issue of water rights in poor countries. A few large corporations are attempting to privatize municipal water systems and force people to pay exorbitant rates, she said. At issue here, is that “all people have the right to clean water out of a faucet or a well,” free of financial hardship.

She is more than ready to tackle this issue because her philosophy is “do something big” for the world. “It is very important what we do with our money, how we invest it,” she said.

Diocesan investment policies prohibit
some types of portfolio purchases

By Sharon Abercrombie
Staff writer

Responsible investing involves more than attending shareholder meetings and lobbying for change. It also involves choosing investments according to a company’s record on issues of justice and morality.

The Diocese of Oakland, like other dioceses and archdioceses, prohibits its investment managers from purchasing equities or fixed investments in any firm that produces birth control products, abortion drugs and weapons of mass destruction, said Mike Canizzaro, chief financial officer.

This does not extend to advocating for change. “We leave it to the investment managers we hire to manage our accounts,” Canizzaro said. “We communicate with the management firms regarding our sensitivities on certain issues but do not typically ask them to take a stand on our behalf.”

Lay Employee Retirement Plan funds, he said, are overseen by the investment committee of the Diocese and reviewed by the LERP committee. The bishop ultimately decides if any changes are to be made in diocesan investment policy and relies on the investment committee’s recommendations.

Socially responsible investing and the Catholic Church captured national headlines in late 2003. On Nov. 12, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops approved a set of revised investment guidelines, updated to include new societal concerns since the original mandates were adopted in 1991.

“The investment landscape has changed significantly,” said the document. With this in mind, the bishops expanded the guidelines to include the types of companies to be avoided — those involved in embryonic stem cell research, fetal tissue research, cloning, the production and sale of landmines, sweatshops, and predatory lending.

The bishops continue to explore the possibility of expanding their strategies beyond stock screening and alternative community investing, “to a more active stance,” said the document, and the conference plans to develop a proxy-voting guide and promote shareholder initiatives aimed at protecting human rights and protecting the environment.

Nuns honored for putting funds into alternative projects

By Sharon Abercrombie
Staff writer

In 1996,when the Carondelet Sisters of St Joseph designated five percent of their general fund for “alternative community projects,” they knew these investments would bring them little or nothing in profits.

But what the Sisters have lacked in dividends, they made up for in good works – providing resources and opportunities for the economically disadvantaged who are underserved by traditional financial institutions.

On Jan. 31, the Carondelets, along with the Sisters of Mercy in Burlingame and the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur in Belmont, were honored for their commitment to community investing. The honors came from JOLT (Justice Organizers, Leadership and Treasurers) during their conference at Holy Redeemer Center in Oakland.

JOLT awarded groups who invest their assets in affordable housing, childcare, locally owned minority businesses, living wage jobs, health care, education and mentoring for small business owners.

The organization presented its “Loaves and Fishes Award” to the Carondelets for the total number of projects they’ve invested in; its “Pearl of Great Price” Award to the Burlingame Mercy Sisters for the single largest investment in a community organization; and its “Mustard Seed” Award to the Sisters of Notre Dame de
Namur in Belmont for making an innovative or risky investment.

When the Carondelets decided to invest in alternative projects, they set aside 15 percent of their general fund for these programs – five percent for risky ventures and 10 percent for projects that might bring in three to ten percent. Among their risky programs were Ecologic, a group which helps Mexican farmers to do sustainable farming; Fonkoze in Haiti, a group which provides capital and training assistance to micro businesses; and Community Bank in Pittsburgh, which assists Dwelling House, a black-owned agency helping parolees.

Among those in the 10 percent group were Southshore Bank of the Pacific, which assists loggers doing environmentally sensitive logging, and a women’s project in Detroit, which provides minority job training.

The Mercy Sisters of Burlingame invested their largest sum ever in 2001, when they put $350,000 into Mercy Housing Inc., an affordable housing organization based in Denver, Colo. The Sisters also invested another $150,000 in the Mercy Loan Fund, a project started in 1984 to provide low interest loans to build housing.

“The need was there,” said Mercy Sister Lillian Murphy. Nonprofit developers, she pointed out, were financially hamstrung because they couldn’t get loans, and for-profit developers were doing 75 percent of housing.

Presently, Mercy Housing has rented $1 billion of affordable housing. Its loan fund has given out more than $100 million for non-for-profit developers, and this has leveraged into $835 million of affordable housing financing and has provided more than 10,600 units of housing for 32,000 people in 22 states and the District of Columbia.

Sister Murphy said the investment in the loan fund “has been like leaven in bread. For every dollar invested we can raise nine dollars in other financing.” In a three-year investment cycle, the original $150,000 raised over $ 1 million.

Such investments have enabled Mercy Housing to add the nearly completed Nueva Vista project in Santa Cruz to its housing stock. The complex will provide 48 units of housing for agricultural workers and is scheduled to open soon.
The Notre Dame Sisters’ “Mustard Seed” award comes from their investment in a project to help Catholic schools in South Africa, chaired by one of their own Sisters in South Africa – Sister Brigid RoseTiernan.

The Catholic Education Investment Company, a private endowment fund for impoverished schools, grew out of the Catholic Institute of Education, an initiative started by educators and assisted by the bishops of South Africa., After the end of apartheid, there were 450 Catholic schools throughout the country struggling with the meagerest of necessities, explained Sister Kay McMullen.

The project allows schools with a minimum of $1700 to invest in the Catholic Education Investment Company “which is like a mutual fund” and invests in businesses rebuilding South Africa. Unfortunately, most schools can’t afford even the minimum, so in 1999 Sister Biddie”Tiernan asked for help, and the Belmont Sisters responded by providing $8,500 for five schools.

One of these is St. Paul’s High School in the Northern Province. When the dividends pay out, the principal will be able to buy more textbooks and equipment for the science laboratory. He is hoping to send more teachers to in-service workshops to develop teaching skills.

Another of the schools, St. Peter Claver in Maokeng, Kroonstand, will soon have some “in-house representation” from the Belmont Notre Dames. Sister Michela Sheehan, a member of that province who has been teaching in Nigeria for the past five years, will join the St. Peter teaching staff in March.

Protests planned against
execution of Kevin Cooper

By Julie Sly
Herald editor

Death penalty opponents across the state plan to continue protesting the Feb. 10 execution of condemned murderer Kevin Cooper, despite Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s denial of clemency on Jan. 30.

If executed by lethal injection, Cooper, 46, will become the 11th man to be executed at San Quentin State Prison since 1992. The state reinstated the death penalty in 1992. Cooper was convicted by a San Diego jury of killing three members of a San Bernardino County family and a visiting child in 1983.

In a written statement, Schwarzenegger rejected arguments raised by Cooper’s attorneys about possible police misconduct and overlooked evidence. The governor said that nothing he reviewed in the submitted arguments warranted further delay on his part.

“I have carefully weighed the claims presented in Kevin Cooper’s plea for clemency,” Schwarzenegger said. “Evidence establishing his guilt is overwhelming, and his conversion to faith and his mentoring of others, while commendable, do not diminish the cruelty and destruction he has inflicted on so many. His is not a case for clemency.”

Cooper was convicted in the murders of Douglas and Peggy Ryen, both 41, their 10-year-old daughter, Jessica, and her 11-year-old friend, Christopher Hughes.
Attorneys for Cooper have filed federal and state court appeals asking to stay the execution.

Relatives of the Ryens and the Hughes boy said they were pleased with the governor’s decision. John Kochis, the San Bernardino County prosecutor who tried Cooper and is still assigned to his case, told The Sacramento Bee Jan. 31 that he intends to witness the execution along with Joshua Ryen, who is now 28, and other family members.

Bishop Sylvester D. Ryan of Monterey, president of the California Catholic Conference, in a Jan. 29 letter to Schwarzenegger on behalf of the state’s Catholic bishops, requested mercy for Cooper.

“We fully appreciate that the imposition of the death penalty is a serious matter of public policy, but it is also a matter of faith discernment, which engages our hearts and minds,” Bishop Ryan wrote.

“As disciples of our crucified and risen Lord, we are called to challenge violence and sin in our world with love and compassion. As Catholics, we share a fundamental belief in the unconditional love that God has for each of us and the profound dignity of each human life, no matter how flawed. You and we, as public leaders, have an opportunity now to witness the power of that love in our lives and to demonstrate respect for life, even the life of a convicted murderer.”

An interfaith prayer vigil will be held tonight (Feb. 9) at St. John the Baptist Church in El Cerrito, beginning at 7:30 p.m.

Diocese mourns death
of Msgr. Michael Lucid

By Carrie McClish
Staff writer

In a heartfelt tribute to a long-time friend and fellow priest, Bishop Emeritus John Cummins praised the late Msgr. Michael Lucid as “one of the giants” of the Oakland Diocese who would be remembered as both a teacher and pastor.

“We knew him in his last years as a man bearing the great burden of illness, but in his day he was a giant in catechetical ministry in the very important days of its development,” the bishop said of the priest who spent 10 years as catechetical director of the diocese following its establishment in 1962.

Msgr. Lucid, pastor at Assumption Parish in San Leandro, died Feb. 1, his 75th birthday, following years of declining health.

“He exemplified what it means to be a life-long learner because he was a great reader,” the bishop said, adding that his friend “would put away a book a day on vacation.”

Msgr. Lucid’s life reflects his interest in and thirst for education. A native of San Francisco, he studied at St. Joseph and St. Patrick seminaries before his ordination to the priesthood in 1954. He pursued advanced studies in education, theology and religious education at Holy Names College in Oakland, University of San Francisco,
Seattle University, and later the Vatican II Center in Rome.

Following his ordination he served at parishes in San Francisco and Mill Valley before moving to St. Benedict Parish in Oakland in 1957 as associate pastor.
In addition to his duties as CCD director, he was director of CYO (Catholic Youth Organization) director and assistant superintendent of schools until 1972. He also taught part time at Bishop O’Dowd High School in Oakland and Holy Names College in Oakland during the early and mid-1960s.

The diocese is also “greatly indebted” to Msgr. Lucid for his contributions as pastor, Bishop Cummins said.

From 1968 until his death he provided pastoral and spiritual care in five parishes. He served as rector at St. Francis de Sales Cathedral in Oakland (1968-71), pastor at St. Theresa Parish in Oakland (1971-81), pastor at St. Augustine Parish in Pleasanton (1981-84), pastor at St. Lawrence O’Toole Parish in Oakland (1985-87) and as pastor at Church of the Assumption Parish in San Leandro since 1987.

“He came to the Cathedral in its most significant days of change and effective ministry in liturgy and care of the elderly,” the bishop added. “There was no parish that he was sent to that did not have a clear definition of purpose.”
Throughout his ministry Msgr. Lucid also demonstrated great care for aging priests in the community, he said, noting that over the years he opened the doors of the rectory to older priests.

At the same time he reached out to youth. “He was marvelous as a teacher both in catechetics and in managing of the schools wherever he went,” Bishop Cummins said.

An emotional Jean Schroeder, principal at Assumption School in San Leandro, agreed.

“I guess you can tell by my voice that we loved him,” said Schroeder as she struggled to maintain her composure. “We really did make him a part of our family and he was such a good supporter of schools.”

Before becoming wheelchair bound in recent years, he made daily visits to the school. “He would come over every day and sit down and want to know what happened today, and the kids would come up and greet him,” Schroeder said. “He said he didn’t want anything but a bench with his name on it,” she added with a laugh.

The school community honored him with that bench, and last year on the 49th anniversary of his ordination named their new education building for him. “What a good thing that did happen,” she said.

Msgr. Lucid also served the diocese as chaplain of the Knights of Columbus (1962-69), chaplain of the Oakland police and fire departments, dean of Northern Alameda County, diocesan senator, and secretary for priestly and diaconal ministries.
Survivors include his brother, Bill, sister-in-law, Geraldine, and sister, Sister Joanne Lucid, BVM (Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary).

Bishop Allen Vigneron presided at the funeral Mass on Feb. 5 at Assumption Church in San Leandro. Bishop Cummins preached the homily. Burial was at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Hayward.

Shelter advocates resort to
vouchers after set back in Orinda

By Sharon Abercrombie
Staff writer

The Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County (ICCC), reeling from last month’s citizen-uproar over its plans to open a winter shelter for homeless families and frail elderly in a vacant Orinda library, has resorted back to its “Plan B.” The group is issuing motel vouchers to provide temporary housing for some of the 3,700 individuals on Contra Costa County’s waiting list for shelter beds.

But Plan B now includes a far more ambitious project as well. ICCC members have begun contacting local businesses in hopes of collecting $300,000, enough money to provide motel housing seven nights a week for all the homeless individuals until the end of March. An impossible goal? Gwen Watson hopes not.

“That’s what ICCC wants to do, if it possibly can,” said Watson, a spokesperson for the group. It is the only alternative, she acknowledged, even though in its present form the voucher system is “heartbreaking and inefficient.”

Each family is eligible for only two nights in a motel throughout the winter. “Then they are back out in the cold,” Watson said.

The ICCC presently has $27,000, from its 94 member congregations and a few businesses and civic groups to last through the end of March. Between Dec. 23 of last year and Feb. 1, it has already poured $21,000 into motel vouchers.
Watson thinks the method is a totally wasteful, inefficient way to provide temporary housing. “It costs anywhere from $65-$90 a night in a motel.” The proposed Orinda shelter would have cost $2 per person per night.

Watson, who also serves as volunteer executive director for the would-be-shelter, said she was shocked by the negativity she and other ICCC colleagues faced during public meetings in December and January to discuss the shelter. “Those reactions have moral connotations. How can we have empty buildings and then keep people out in the cold?”

The controversy developed after Orinda City Manager Bill Lindsay contacted the ICCC with news that a city library building was available. Plans called for the 9,100 square foot library to be open as a shelter for 75 residents from 5:30 p.m. to 6 a.m. daily through March for homeless families and frail elderly.

Her group had applied to operate the shelter in Orinda at no cost to taxpayers. “We had a business plan. The St. Vincent de Paul Society had promised cots and Loaves and Fishes had promised food.”

But when word got out, a series of e-mails, phone calls and posters began circulating around town. The city organized a public hearing on the proposal in its Masonic hall. The meeting drew 400 residents.

Although many residents supported the shelter, a number of people were upset because the city had negotiated the shelter lease during a private meeting. However, Lindsay defended the Council’s decision, saying most leases are normally negotiated in private and made public when the council approves them.

Some residents said that they did not object to a shelter opening next winter, but that the city needed more time for planning. Some parents expressed reservations because of the library building’s proximity to a park and a senior citizen residence. They feared that there would be homeless men and women panhandling, using drugs or stealing.

Watson said no amount of reminders that the shelter residents would have been mostly the elderly and single women and their children seemed to convince opponents.

During one juncture in the two-week battle, GRIP, the Greater Richmond Interfaith Program, a full-service agency assisting homeless people, offered to help the ICCC, but there has not been any formal follow-up, said Watson.

ICCC isn’t giving up on the idea of a shelter. The group has contacted Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher for her help in locating vacant buildings that could be used next winter.

The shelter problem has been exacerbated by the decision of the St. Vincent de Paul Society to discontinue its sponsorship of a rotating shelter program in which volunteer congregations opened their facilities to families each night for a week.

The program, which ran from 1997-2001, was too costly to maintain, it said. Shelter clients were assigned to the County’s North Concord and Martinez shelters, but there is always a long waiting list. Volunteers from parishes come to the shelters to help prepare meals, read stories, work on crafts with children and provide other assistance.

Meanwhile, Watson welcomes contributions to the motel voucher program and suggestions about potential shelter sites. ICCC can be contacted at 1543 Sunnyvale Ave., Walnut Creek, California 94597. Nine Catholic parishes in the Oakland Diocese are members of ICCC.

Two church groups seek separate solutions to homelessness

By Sharon Abercrombie
Staff writer

Carol Johnson, director of St. Mary’s Senior Center in Oakland, is profoundly “aggravated” by the concept of homeless shelters, even though she has operated one for the past six winters.

Ideally, she argues, shelters should exist only for emergencies like floods and earthquakes. “Shelters are not nice places for people to live in,” Johnson points out. “There’s no privacy and they have to carry their stuff around with them all the time.”

But as the supply of low-rent housing dwindles and social service programs continue to be cut, emergency shelters remain a necessary fact of life.
“Everyone is one paycheck away from being homeless,” says Donna Borden, program director for the Greater Richmond Interfaith Program (GRIP), a faith-based organization that operates a homeless shelter. Eight Catholic parishes are members of GRIP.

Carol Johnson’s answer: restore federal aid. “It’s maddening that we refuse to provide housing for low income, SSI and Section 8 housing,” she fumes. In spite of her frustration, Johnson continues to host an average 120 guests at St. Mary’s from December through April, simply because there is nowhere else for elderly seniors to go.

GRIP has a different solution. Next month, the group will break ground for a year-round facility with beds for 70 guests, a dining room, kitchen, counseling space and administrative offices.

St. Mary’s Shelter can take 25 guests per night. They show up on the doorstep referred by local hospitals and social agencies. Most of them stick around during the day to tap into the center’s social service programs.

But Johnson, her staff and guests are also involved in political action to stem what they see as a massive societal problem.

Two weeks ago, St. Mary’s joined a local petition drive initiated by Alameda County seniors to enact legislation to restore funding for Sec. 8 vouchers by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The current funding is about one-third of what it was in 1976 and some 63,000 Sec. 8 vouchers currently in use will be defunded this year. In addition, nearly 200,000 privately owned, government subsidized rental units have been lost since 1997, because owners opted out of their expired contracts, preferring to raise their rents to what the market will bear. Today Johnson estimates there are 2 million families in the U.S. that need affordable housing.

So who is right? Carol Johnson or Donna Borden? Both, notes Gwen Watson, spokesperson for the Interfaith Coalition of Contra Costa County. “We need both emergency shelter and Section 8 vouchers, band-aids as well as major surgery. We can’t have people out in the cold while we’re waiting for something to happen at the federal level.”

Father John Maxwell, outgoing chair of the GRIP board, and pastor of St. John the Baptist Parish in El Cerrito, agrees, with Johnson, but fears that Sec. 8’s restoration “is a dream, considering this present administration. They don’t give a damn about poor people. Clinton didn’t do anything for us either.”

St. Mary’s seniors are covering all the political bases, confronting the homeless problem at the state level as well. They have joined forces with the Save the Safety Net coalition to protest the dismantling of California’s social services. Over 50 organizations and faith groups have already signed on.

Johnson calls the governor’s proposed budget “a violent and lethal attack on the most vulnerable seniors, children, sick and disabled in our community. It is nothing short of a preemptive strike in the war on the poor.”

GRIP hopes its shelter, slated to open in July on the site of its Souper Center, will offer a partial solution for some of the East Bay’s poorest residents. The new two-story facility will include a dining room to serve breakfast and dinner daily to 200 people. It will also continue to offer job training, anger management, medical care and family counseling.

GRIP decided to open a year-round shelter because “it’s as cold as sin in July and August out here in the Bay Area, not just in winter,” said Father Maxwell.

“We are dealing with families in crisis all year long. Some of our parents are working at one and two jobs, but they still can’t afford to rent a house.” Living at the GRIP shelter rent-free for a few months offers these families some financial relief so they can save their money for permanent housing, Father Maxwell said.

GRIP leases its winter shelter space from Faith Tabernacle Church. Ordinarily, the shelter closes down at the end of March, but Borden hopes to keep it open until the new building is completed. It’ll take $75,000 worth of rent and Borden is currently asking for donations.

For further information about making contributions to help keep the GRIP shelter open, contact the organization at 165 22nd St., Richmond CA 94801. Phone (510) 236-7386.

Happy New Year of the Monkey

A young boy places flowers at a side altar prior to the Jan. 25 Mass at St. Anthony Church in Oakland, marking the beginning of the Vietnamese Tet celebrations.

Bishop Vigneron offers a traditional cup of tea at the shrine honoring the ancestors during the Chinese New Year Mass at Our Lady of the Rosary Church in Union City. It was his first Chinese New Year liturgy.

GREG TARCZYNSKI PHOTOS

Pope tells Cheney to seek international cooperation

By Peggy Polk
Religion News Service

VATICAN CITY—Pope John Paul II told Vice President Richard Cheney on Jan. 27 that the United States should seek peace through “international cooperation and solidarity.”

The 83-year-old pontiff, who strongly opposed Washington’s decision last year to bypass the United Nations and stage a preemptive strike against Iraq, met with the vice president for about 15 minutes in his study overlooking St. Peter’s Square. It was their first meeting.

“The American people have always cherished the fundamental values of freedom, justice and equality,” the pope said in formal remarks following the private talks. “In a world marked by conflict, injustice and division, the human family needs to foster these values in its search for unity, peace and respect for the dignity of all.

“I encourage you and your fellow citizens to work at home and abroad for the growth of international cooperation and solidarity in the service of that peace which is the deepest aspiration of all men and women,” he said.

The pope’s implied criticism of Bush administration policy was similar to a
statement he made on Jan. 21, the day after President Bush defended the attack on Iraq in his State of the Union message. The pope told his weekly general audience that “the recourse to force” is the wrong way to seek peace, creating only “fear and uncertainty.”

But John Paul concluded his brief remarks on Jan. 27 by giving his blessing to Cheney and to “all the American people.”
Cheney made no statement.

A former executive of the giant Halliburton oil services company, Cheney previously served in the House of Representatives and was secretary of defense under President Bush’s father during the 1991 attack on Iraq.

As vice president he strongly advocated the use of military force to depose Saddam Hussein on grounds that the Iraqi president had stockpiled weapons of mass destruction. Administration officials have come under growing criticism since weapons inspections have failed to produce any trace of the alleged arsenal.

Although the pope, who is debilitated by Parkinson’s disease, appeared unusually vigorous and alert and spoke in a firm, clear voice, he and Cheney did not exchange the customary small talk as Cheney’s wife Lynne, daughter Elizabeth and entourage of about 20 were presented to the pope by American Archbishop James Harvey, prefect of the papal household.

Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said Cheney’s private talks with the pope and later with Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Vatican secretary of state, and Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, the Vatican foreign minister centered on “the peace process in the Middle East and the development of the situation in Iraq.”

“There was also an examination of moral and religious problems that today touch the life of the states, especially those relative to the defense and promotion of life, the family, solidarity and religious liberty,” the spokesman said.

Cheney, making only his second overseas trip since becoming vice president three years ago, came to Rome from the Swiss resort of Davos where he attended the World Economic Forum. He also met with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who assured him of Italy’s full support in the war against terrorism.

Reporters present at the start and conclusion of Cheney’s audience said they sensed no antagonism or stiffness between the pope and the vice president but that the encounter appeared to be correct rather than warm.

Bush budget criticized
for cuts in AIDS funds

By Jennifer Flowers
Religion News Service

WASHINGTON—Shrunken AIDS funding in President Bush’s 2005 budget proposal released Feb. 2 dampened the spirits of Christian groups and aid organizations, which said he is not following through on his promise to combat the disease globally.

“We all heard (Bush) make a very powerful and passionate statement about global AIDS in last year’s State of the Union, but this year he didn’t say anything about AIDS,” said the Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, a grass-roots Christian anti-hunger lobby group. “Now that we see his budget, it’s clear that he’s not willing to make financial commitments that are in keeping with his promises of a year ago.”

Groups such as the National Association of Evangelicals pressured Bush last month to include in his budget proposal a $3.6 billion catch-up on his 2003 Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief that promised $15 billion over five years. The first installment last year was $2.4 billion.

Maureen Shea, director of the Episcopal Church’s U.S. government relations office, said her denomination was particularly concerned about Bush’s funding cutback for multilateral AIDS organizations such as the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, for which the president proposed $200 million, down $350 million from 2004.

“We have particular concerns about the Global Fund because once people (with HIV/AIDS) have started on treatment, you have to keep people on treatment or it won’t work,” Shea said.

Anglican Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane of Cape Town, South Africa, urged congregations in the denomination to become more involved in Africa’s AIDS crisis.

Faith-based groups are pinning their hopes for increased AIDS funding on Congress. Beckmann said Bread for the World plans to send 150,000 letters to members of Congress.

African bishop reiterates need for
aid to help solve hunger crisis
in Eritrea

By Voice staff

Following on the heels of a visit from Bishop Kidane Yebio of Keren, Eritrea, Bishop Menghesteab Tesfamariam of Asmara returned late last year to the Oakland Diocese, where he once spent a year studying and ministering to the Eritrean community.

Bishop Menghesteab, a Comboni priest, was visiting Eritrean communities throughout the United States and stopped in Oakland before going on to Los Angeles.

In 1997 Father Menghesteab spent a year studying at the School of Applied Theology in Berkeley before returning to Africa. He was ordained bishop in 2001.

During his visit, Bishop Menghesteab urged continued support of drought-stricken Eritrea, where poverty, the lack of rain and war have created a humanitarian crisis.

Bishop Kidane, who came to Oakland in September, also spoke of the crisis and thanked local Catholics for $33,000 in donations sent to his diocese through Catholic Relief Services. The funds were in response to an appeal from Father Ghebriel Woldai, chaplain to the local Eritrean community, who visited his homeland early last year.

At that time the rains had failed for four consecutive years in Eritrea, and last year, although the rains returned in some areas, the harvest has been below normal. A United Nations envoy who visited the country in November said that 1.7 million Eritreans will need assistance this year because of the effects of war, drought and poverty.

In addition to sporadic rainfall, the country suffers from a simmering border conflict with Ethiopia. One of the major agricultural areas is still recovering from war damage, and young men, who would normally be at work in the fields, have been drafted into the Eritrean army.

Bishop Menghesteab said that although Catholics make up only four percent of the population of Eritrea, “we do more work than all the others, in a way.”

The Church maintains about 30 clinics and 55 schools and provides medicine, supplemental feeding programs for children, pregnant women and the elderly, seeds for raising crops and programs to improve water supplies.
“We hope the rains will be better next year,” he said. “We hope the conflict with Ethiopia will be over. We think the international community should pressure Ethiopia” to abide by a UN-mediated decision setting specified borders.

As for the local Eritrean Catholic community, Bishop Menghesteab said, those who have been in the country for several years are “settled in,” but, he added, “There seems to be some hunger and thirst for the spiritual and for the roots of their culture.”

To contribute to ongoing aid efforts for hunger relief in Eritrea, send donations to Catholic Relief Services (Eritrean relief), c/o Sister Barbara Dawson, Catholic Charities of the East Bay, 433 Jefferson St., Oakland, CA 94607.

 

Author explores reasons for shift
in Christianity from the West

By Maurice Healy
Catholic San Francisco

Global Christianity is in the midst of a major demographic transformation, inexorably moving from a Christianity bound up with Western civilization to one rooted in emerging cultures. The new center of gravity in the Christian world is rapidly advancing south to Africa, Latin and South America and Asia.

This observation and its impact were the topics of a talk titled “Ecumenism and Globalization” by Penn State Professor Philip Jenkins Jan. 26 at the 25th Paul Wattson Lecture at the University of San Francisco.

Jenkins stressed that demographic growth was the key to understanding the new world of Christianity. He noted Africa, which had 10 million Christians in 1900, now has 360 million and an increasing rate of growth. In the Philippines last year, he said, there were more baptisms than the combined total of France, Spain and Poland.

“If we want to visualize a typical contemporary Christian, “ Jenkins said, “we should think of a woman living in a village in Nigeria or in a Brazilian favela.”

Rapid expansion
Whatever the experience of Christianity in the growing secularization of Europe and North America, Christianity is experiencing rapid expansion in the global South, Jenkins noted. By 2050, there is likely to be three billion Christians worldwide, but only one in five will be a non-Latino white, he said.

Growth of Christianity is tied to globalization, Jenkins said. “The reduction of trade and investment barriers also means there is a global transmission of ideas, as well.”

Contrasting the nature of Christianity in the global North, Jenkins said the kind of Christianity in the global South tends to be charismatic, evangelical, even fundamentalist.” Jenkins said this difference will continue to cause strains within Christian churches.

He pointed to the Anglican Community and the reaction of morally conservative African Anglican Churches to the ordination of an openly gay bishop in the United States. Cultural factors play a role as well, he said. The Nigerian Anglican reaction was, in part, driven by a realization that the country’s Islamic clerics would condemn acceptance of the ordination as a collaboration with Western decadence.

Another cultural difference between the Christianity of the global North and global South is the experience of scriptural healing and miracles. While the West doesn’t quite know what to do with these events, the Christianity of Africa, South America and Asia is characterized by a deep belief.

“In the global South, the authority of the Church is tied to its ability to perform miracles,” Jenkins said.

Ecumenical efforts

He said over the past 50 years, many ecumenical efforts have developed at a high level. The changes in worldwide Christianity presents a very different set of circumstances and strains that will affect ecumenism. In a declining Western Christianity, there may be a drawing together, Jenkins said. But this may be matched by an internal growing apart within individual churches.

Jenkins, a professor of history and religious studies, is the author of “The Next Christendom,” published by Oxford Press in 2002.
The Paul Wattson Lectures honor Father Paul J. Wattson, founder of the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement and pioneer for the cause of Christian Unity.