Whispers of another Synod for America

Archbishop Nikola Eterovic speaks at a Jan. 19 Vatican press conference. (CNS/Paul Haring)

VATICAN CITY — During a Vatican press conference yesterday presenting the outline of the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East, Archbishop Nikola Eterovic told reporters there was talk of having another special assembly for America.

The last synod for America was held in 1997. It included bishops, priests, religious and lay representatives from the northern reaches of North America all the way down to the southern tip of South America.

The decision to hold a special assembly, he said, “depends on the pastoral situation (of the region) and also on the bishops requesting it.”

There has been “talk of a special assembly for America. However, it is an idea that needs fleshing out,” he added.

He said if the bishops and Pope Benedict XVI decide it would be useful for the local churches and for the continent to organize a regional synod, then the Synod of Bishops, which is “at the service of the bishops,” will follow up on it.

One source told me that Latin American bishops have been talking about the need for a special assembly so that they can get input and assistance from Northern America and the Vatican.

There are two issues of special concern: better communication and increasingly authoritarian governments taking hold in Latin America.

With communication, it seems the bishops would like help in finding ways to get information to flow more easily and quickly among the churches — some kind of set up (as the phrase goes) so the right hand knows what the left hand is doing.

Concerning the political situation in Latin America, it appears that some church leaders want to make sure their role in public debate is not misconstrued as being an advocate for a particular political party, but  as a supporter of specific principles and democratic ideals.

Catholic Charities honors three ‘champions of the poor’

Three individuals described as “national champions of the poor” were given a Keep the Dream Alive Award by Catholic Charities USA Jan. 18, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

The honors were given by the Alexandria, Va.-based agency as part of its centennial observance, which continues through September.

Those honored were:

— Allison Boisvert, social justice minister for the Pax Christi Catholic Community, Eden Prairie, Minn.

— Arturo Chavez, president and CEO, Mexican American Catholic College, San Antonio.

— Ralph McCloud, director, Catholic Campaign for Human Development for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The awards were presented de during a Mass at St. Aloysius Church in Washington. Auxiliary Bishop Martin D. Holley of Washington was the celebrant.