Join the call-and-response on institutional ministries

Papal news abounds this week. Papal encyclical, joint-papal statue blessing, an announcement of double papal canonizations, Pope Francis’ first trip outside of Rome.

There’s much to talk about.

As such, this week you’ll see Vatican news on the briefs page, in two news analyses and in the editorial. But I also wanted to draw your attention to the In Focus (Pages 9-12), which is a bit different from our typical four-page center section.

The main story, written by the team of longtime Catholic journalist and commentator Russell Shaw and University of Notre Dame law professor Gerard Bradley, examines the changing landscape of Catholic institutional ministries and subsequently outlines a focused vision of what a more effective future of those ministries might best look like.

In calling for a renewal of Church ministries, the authors make some strong recommendations: perhaps the strongest of which being that Catholic “mega-ministries” (i.e. hospitals, charities and some universities) should be allowed to “go their own way,” while smaller, orthodox and non-government subsidized ministries should take their place.

Editor's preview of this week's issue

Their suggestions are well thought through, clearly mapped out and eloquently presented, and we hope you will find them interesting and insightful.

But because these are complex issues, we tried to offer a more complete picture of the situation by inviting Catholic professionals with alternate viewpoints to weigh in.

On Page 12, three responders discuss Shaw and Bradley’s proposals, dissecting the authors’ opinions and offering their own. As a result, the In Focus this week has morphed into a kind of call-and-response — a space for real engagement on serious subjects.

Responding to Shaw and Bradley’s article are Carolyn Woo, president and CEO of Catholic Relief Services; John Cavadini, director of the Institute for Church Life at the University of Notre Dame; and Mark Gray, political scientist and senior research associate at the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. The opinions of these distinguished contributors speak for themselves, and this dialogue, we hope, is only the beginning.

The beauty of the Catholic press is that we are able to initiate these discussions — discussions we hope are relevant and valuable as you live out a life of discipleship. It aims to further the search for truth by the exchange of ideas.

That’s certainly a goal of OSV Newsweekly: to offer a full picture of complex issues in our Church — whether it be on the latest papal encyclical or on the role of Catholic hospitals and universities in today’s society. We hope this week’s In Focus will do just that.

Please contact us with your own opinions. Write a Letter to the Editor or email