Saturday, April 22, 2006

"Fortified By the Content of Truth"

While it has not yet been published online, I have gotten my hands on Bishop Robert Finn's column from yesterday's Catholic Key; thanks to a loyal reader of both the KC paper and these pages for the assist.

In announcing the establishment of the Bishop Helmsing Center as the diocese's new organ for lay formation, Helmsing's successor as bishop of Kansas City-St Joseph said his choice of name was in tribute to the late bishop, who "courageously fostered the full implementation of the Second Vatican Council, and who was, at the same time, a champion of the integrity of church teaching."

Bishop Finn praised Helmsing for his strong stance "in defense of the faith against forces that would splinter the church by dissent" in 1968 -- a clear, albeit unspoken, reference to the Encyclical of Pope Paul VI, Humanae vitae, which was released that year.

(Like the current Kansas City prelate, Bishop Helmsing hailed from St Louis, where he was ordained an auxiliary bishop in 1949; he became bishop of the merged diocese in 1962. I'm told the ring worn by Finn in the above photo was originally given to Helmsing by his seminary classmates.... Further proof that vesture says more than meets the eye.)

Finn said he was "excited" to announce the partnership with Ave Maria's Institute of Pastoral Studies, who will provide "a comprehensive and integrated 36 credit hour program" which begins in the fall. "It is specifically adapted to meet the needs of adults of all ages seeking serious graduate studies in theology," the bishop wrote.

In explaining the change from the diocese's previous Center for Pastoral Life and Ministry to the new institute, Bishop Finn noted that, alongside the previously-mentioned issues of cost, "we are in a time of a more mature self-understanding in the church than the period immediately following the Second Vatican Council." (CPLM was founded in 1977.)

Even more to the point, the bishop wrote of the new exigencies that "We are in an era of Catholic education and formation that is clearly dominated by the Catechism of the Catholic Church," saying that the universal catechetical text, "promulgated in 1992, must be the primary reference point for all catechetical endeavors."

Balancing the two sides of the coin of the Christian experience, Finn wrote that "The Gospel experience of Jesus Christ... will be shallow if it is not fortified by the content of the truth of his teaching entrusted to the church," alongside the caution that "The knowledge of the deposit of the faith... will become sterile if it is not awakened in the living light of the encounter with the Incarnate Lord and Savior."

"This dynamic interchange must define the primary methodology of Catholic education and formation."

The Catholic Key