QTUDIES of the Blessed L' Virgin are being redirected to a more Christ-centred and Church-centred focus, according to Church scholars in Washington who attended the recent Mariological Congress in the Dominican Republic.
They also said that from now on Mariological studies will lay greater stress on the Scriptures, in line with the ecumenical council's Constitution on the Church.
One indication of this was the fact that the congress had as its general theme "Mary in the New Testament". Another was the presence and participation of Scripture scholars as well as dogmatic theologians.
According to Fr. Eamon
Carroll, 0.Carm., professor of theology at the Catholic University of America in Washington and a former president of the Mariological Society of America. this was the first time that leading Scripture scholars had taken part in such a major meeting.
Fr. Carroll explained: "Some theologians didn't seem to trust the Scripture men. This was unfair, but the meeting helped the theologians to understand better the approach of the exegetes. Once we came together, there wasn't much else we could do, and a real climate of frank expression developed."
Fr. Stephen Hartdegen. O.F.M., professor of Sacred Scripture at Holy Name College in Washington, who is a former president of the Catholic Biblical Society of America, agreed that "a very good R. start" was made creating "dialogue" between dogmatic theologians and Scripture scholars. 'There was, he said. "a spirit of sincerity and goodwill which, without any compromise, sought mutual understanding".
According to Fr. Hartdegen, the difference of approach between the two groups of scholars is that exegetes arc concerned with examining the Scriptural texts in their contexts and in the light of their literary forms to find out what their authors say and mean, NS hile dogmatic theologians traditionally take as their starting point Church teaching — in this case, doctrine concerning the Blessed Virgin.
Then they proceed to select Scriptural texts to substantiate doctrine, going on to the "argument from tradition" and then to the "argument from reason".
What the congress paved the way for, he indicated, is a fresh, penetrating watch into the development of Marian doctrine in the Scriptures—both through its foreshadowing in the Old Testament and its unfolding in the New Testament.
He said this new start by exegetes together with theologians "should give the doctrine concerning Mary a new lustre and make it attractive also to our separated brethren".
The scholars commenting on the congress agreed that the ncw Scriptural stress on Mariological studies was aided not only by the ecumenical council but also by the instruction issued by the Pont ifical Commission for Biblical Studies in Rome on orders from Pope Paul in April, 1964.
Green light That instruction in effect dispelled the cloud of suspicion cast over modern Scripture studies by sonic theological circles. It also gave a green light to the application of the principle of "form criticism" whereby Scriptural texts are ana lysed by separate units for example. according to their historical setting, the literary style of their time, and their development through the process of word-ofmouth transmission into written documents.
One result or the commission's approval of this examination according to "the history of forms" was that one of the main speakers at the Mariological Congress was a veteran champion of the formcritical method — Fr. Stanislas Lyonnet, Si., dean of the Biblical faculty of the pontifical Biblical Institute. in Rome. Fr. Lyonnet had been barred from teaching Biblical interpretation at the Institute in 1962, and the ban was lifted by the Congregation of the Holy Office only last year.
According to Fr. Maurice
Schepers, theology professor Hi the Dominican House of Studies in Washington. several of the Scriptural scholars at the congress used the form-critical method in their papers.
▪ CANADA TORONTO priest be lieves that married deacons arc the answer to the problem of the shortage of religious vocations, he told a group of Catholic laymen in the city.
Fr. C. J. Bennett told members of the Serra Club—a worldwide organisation for promoting vocations—that he thought "we are on the verge, even in this city, of selecting worthy laymen and ordaining them to the diaconate.
"As one with experience of dealing with laymen who teach in a high school of religion, 1 can say that the field is ripe for harvest." added Fr. Bennett, of Our Lady of Peace parish. If it were possible tomorrow, he said, he could nominate 10 good married men who were successful parish teaching collaborators, They had proved themselves as catechists and were responsible parents, raising families that were a credit to the Christian faith,
He could foresee the office of married deacons including the giving of Baptism, and giving instructions as laymen already did at the Catholic Information Centre in Toronto.
Jehovah's Witnesses have been banned in Tanzania. The government said in Dar-el-Salaam that although Watchtower societies had existed there for several years, they had never been registered and therefore were illegal. It added that since independence, the activities of the Jehovah's Witnesses had become "intolerable".
• NEW GUINEA
A swollen river in the Sepik district has been diverted to save a large Catholic leper hospital from collapsing into it. The hospital is the Raihu Hansenide Colony, staffed by Franciscan missionaries, on the Raihu River, near the coastal town of Aitape,
The editor of the Brisbane Catholic Leader, Brian Doyle, was elected president of the Australian Catholic Press Association in Adelaide—the first layman to be so honoured.
A training course for Catholics in rural youth work will be held in June in Salto. Plans for the course were made when International Catholic Farm Youth Movement leaders from Chile, Bolivia, Argentina. Paraguay and Uruguay met in Montevideo.
The diocese of Salto and the city's municipal government arc to set up a joint committee to decide what is to be done with a thermal spring found on Church property. The city wants to use it for a development scheme, and Bishop Viola wants to turn the property—which is near the diocesan seminary—into a public park.
Preliminary plans for an interfaith liturgical society have been laid in Neuchatel by a group of 21 Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox theologians from Europe and North America. A 15-man commission will meet at Strasbourg. France, on May 31 to draw up further plans, with the aim of holding a world congress in England next spring.
A residential school for the children of Bombay has been cornpieced by Fr. Anthony Elenjunittam. The five-storey Aquinas Hall was dedicated at a ceremony before high Church and State leaders.
Fr. 'F. N. Sequiera, S.J., of St. Joseph's College in Tiruchirapalli, has been appointed to a 16-man
Indian government commission to survey the country's educational system.
• GERMANY Cardinal Beran of Czechoslovakia is to visit the Dachau concentration camp from which he was freed 20 years ago, it was announced in Munich. The Cardinal, who is now exiled in Rome, has accepted an invitation to attend High Mass on May 2 in memory of Dachau's victims.
Sixty per cent of the people of West Germany are in favour of having prayers in public schools, an opinion poll has revealed. Many public schools have such prayers at the beginning and close of classes, although their legality was recently questioned in a Hesse court.
• UNITED STATES
The oldest Catholic building in Massachusetts, "Old St. Patrick's of Roxbury", was destroyed in a fire. it was 120 years old and was believed to be the one described by Edwin O'Connor in his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Edge of Sadness.
United Nations SecretaryGeneral LT Thant will address the Seventh World Congress of the Catholic Press in New York next month. More than 700 delegates will attend.
Forty-nine lay people--Catholies, Episcopalians and Presby terians attended the first ecumenical retreat in St. Louis held under the official auspices of the three Churches. They held conferences and attended each others' services, including two Masses.
The Bible is still the world's most translated and widest read book, according to an index published by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in New York. The next most popular work was the plays of Shakespeare.
Representatives of all the religious communities in Israel, including Catholic and Eastern Rite Catholic leaders, attended solemn ceremonies to mark the opening of the first unit of a YMCA building under construction in Nazareth.