Religion in the World


Pope Paul VI has amended the sacrament of confirmation for the Catholic Church, replacing words used for centuries by Western bishops with an ancient formula taken from the Eastern rite church. The Western version read: “I sign you with the sign of the cross and confirm you with the chrism of salvation. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Now it begins “Accept the sign of the gift of the Holy Spirit.” The Pope left unchanged the minimum age of seven years for confirmation, but it is thought unlikely that many bishops will agree to confirm a child of that age.

There are now “less than a million active Catholics” in Cuba, and about fifty thousand Protestants, according to the book Religion in Cuba Today. In 1959, the year Fidel Castro took over, the Roman Catholic membership was four million “professing” members, and there were 250,000 Protestants.

The doctrine of papal infallibility—that no error can be made on matters of faith or morals—has again been challenged, this time in an American printing of Infalliable? An Inquiry (Doubleday, $5.95) by Father Hans Küng, professor of theology at Tübingen University, West Germany. Swiss-born Küng traces “papal errors” from St. Peter to Paul VI.

Kay Stoddard, an eighteen-year-old high school senior, is an elder in the First United Presbyterian Church of Liberal, Kansas. “I think they wanted more ideas from the youth of the congregation, and felt youth should have a say in the activities of the church,” Miss Stoddard said. And the Reverend William S. Sebring, minister of the church, added: “Young people deserve to play a major role in the decision-making processes of the church.”

The House of Delegates of the National Federation of Priests councils, at its annual meeting in Baltimore, has been urged to have the Roman Catholic Church adopt six reforms: (1) realigning the parish structure to give young priests earlier opportunities for leadership; (2) providing a greater voice for priests and laity in selection of bishops; (3) providing a bill of human rights for all of the church, including the right of priests to freedom of expression and choice of vocation; (4) permitting wide-ranging experimentation in ministry; (5) reinstating, for all who wish it, priests who left the active ministry because of the rule of celibacy or other church regulations; (6) eliminating, in the United States, at least, obligatory celibacy for diocesan priests. Meanwhile, Dr. John P. Koval, a sociologist at the University of Notre Dame, has reported finding in a sampling of the Federation’s members that “two years ago the majority did not favor optional celibacy; today they do.”