Last update : 2001-08-07

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The Chapter's Chronicle

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August 3rd

Agustín Kazotic, the first Dominican blessed from Croatia

Today's celebrations were the responsibility of the Austrian and Croatian provinces and the Hungarian vicariate. In the introduction to the Mass the Croatian provincial told us that Agustín is the first Dominican to be beatified in Croatia and this year celebrates the 300th year of his beatification. Agustín Kazotic (1260-1323) dedicated his life to the establishing of schools and to the search for solutions in ecclesial conflicts. He was a famous peacemaker and a worker for human rights as well as being someone concerned for the poor of his society. He also authored some theological studies and was bishop of Zagreb and of Lucera (in Italy). He dedicated his energy to promote the common good, the public health of all in the town of Zagreb, and he especially attended to the needs of the lives of the lower clergy and the faithful in his diocese. His option for the poor led to his banishment to France. Agustín is not only a monument to the past but a monument to our future. Let us be peacemakers, theologians, and protectors of the marginalized,. The definitor of Austria presided and Friar Richard Schenk preached. It was a homily in the scholastic style, as if it were an article from the Summa of Saint Thomas: "Is it licit that Blessed Agustín Kazotic be venerated in the Dominican Order as patron of interreligious dialogue or not", with objections, "sed contra" and responses to the objections, as in the times of Blessed Agustín. Something was sung in German and there appeared a new choir director.

The morning began well with the rapid approval of the prologue of the Commission on the Common Life. They are two commissions in one - one on Contemplation, the other on the Common Life.

The document on the cooperator brothers followed. From the beginning there have been two distinct ideological opinions. For some the cooperator brothers deserve more and no one has wanted to enter the authentic problem of a certain discrimination toward them. Others think that the differences must be recognized, knowing that all are equal, with the same dignity given by our same solemn profession, but with different tasks. With the raw question put forth in so many words, the dialogue became especially heated. Someone proposed that a commission be constituted to tackle the subject of the cooperator brother, or non-cleric, or non-ordained. Only nine minutes before its end, the morning work was interrupted by the plenary session's approval of the idea to hear from those cooperator brothers present who have been translating and interpreting for the chapter. Those cooperator brothers had already been invited to speak to the commission and their opinions had been heeded in the elaboration of the document. But now they will appear before the entire assembly.

In the afternoon some of the "ragged edges" in the document about the intellectual life were considered. What languages must be studied for our communication? There was a struggle between Caleruega (all should know English, and the English-speaking should know Spanish or French) and Bologna (all should know any one of the official languages; if one of those is one's native tongue, one should learn one of the other two). Bologna won. Therefore it is not necessary that everyone should know English. With the text's final expression of thanks, the Document on the Intellectual Life has emerged as a fine piece of work.

Declarations. As for any important assembly or congress, the Commission on the Challenges to Our Mission had prepared three declarations: 1) against the death penalty; 2) against economic sanctions - in particular the embargos against Iraq and Cuba - because of the consequences on the civil populations; 3) against the scarcity of pharmaceutical products needed to fight AIDs.

Some wished to amplify the first declaration to include all of human life (abortion, euthanasia, genetic experimentation…). The commission did not accept it. When we make this declaration we will have already spoken to the authorities about the Church being in favor of their abolition. The dialogue finally ended, some corrections were made, and it was approved with an almost absolute majority.

The second declaration stated more specifically that the embargos had procured neither liberty nor democracy, but had brought only more misery to the civil population. Some asked that if with this declaration the dictatorial régimes, tyrannies, etc. were being acknowledged (as within their rights), and if it would be advisable to say anything about them.

Another took the ethical stance and said it should be declared that an embargo is intrinsically perverse, because it bore grave consequences for the innocent. The assembly was not in a radical frame of mind and rejected both proposals. A large majority also approved the second declaration.

The medicines. The AIDs pandemic has affected a terrifying number of the world's population, especially in Africa. Of 34 million persons with AIDs, 24.5 million are in Africa. There are medicines to fight it but they are not within the reach of the poor. The document asks that the pharmaceutical companies lower the prices of their products. An amendment was proposed: in the text there is no clear political defense of the family nor a real sexual education - in the true sense of the word - that could help solve the problem. The commission did not like the amendment, which spoke only of the AIDs patients, not of those who could be infected, but it was approved. In the declaration there will be an ethical note.

Thus the day ended. The Master congratulated all for the depth and sincerity of the debates, amid such diversity of opinion.

The Austrian provincial presided at Vespers. Something was chanted in German and the petitions were made in Croatian and Hungarian. The Vespers began with a hymn to Blessed Agustín Kazotic, whose feast we celebrated.

A Recognition

One essential person here at the Chapter is the secretary general, Friar George Schommer. He intervenes publicly no more than is necessary. His face reflects his calmness and is always wreathed in a smile. It seems that he is doing little, however the weight of the chapter is on his shoulders. He knows how to work hard and well and to do it in the shadows. Many thanks, George! puce

(Translated from Spanish)


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