In 1982, when the German theology school where I was studying hired a new Old Testament professor, my friend Thomas and I were assigned to interview him for our student newspaper. We had a very interesting conversation, but as our allotted time came to an end, Prof. Hossfeld couldn't help expressing some surprise. "Aren't you going to ask me anything about the Hebrew language requirements? Finals? Grading? Seminars?"
We had used up our whole time discussing what makes a prophet, using modern-day "prophets" such as American Catholic bishops Raymond Hunthausen and Leroy Matthiesen as case studies. At the time U.S. Catholic Church leaders were making worldwide headlines by actively confronting, resisting, and denouncing their government's nuclear weapons buildup. Hunthausen was withholding half of his income tax to protest the Reagan administration s acceleration of the nuclear arms race, while Matthiesen had urged the Catholics in his diocese who worked at a nuclear weapons assembly plant to seek employment in more peaceful pursuits.
For those of us active in the German Catholic peace movement of the 1980s, Hunthausen, Matthiesen, and many other American brothers and sisters were heroes--not to mention evidence that our protests against the pending deployment of Pershing II and cruise missiles were not just an "anti-American" European fad.
Although he is now retired, Matthiesen, a.k.a. "Bishop Matt," continues his involvement in the peace movement. He is the author of this month's Sounding Board ("Let's drop the bomb," pages 27-31), which argues that now is the time for the U.S. Catholic Church to reclaim its moral leadership role by spearheading the current efforts to achieve complete nuclear disarmament. In our accompanying reader survey, a surprising 82 percent of the respondents believe it is either likely or possible that nuclear weapons will be used again in their lifetime. Maybe I should be a lot more worried than I thought!
This April marks the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, and in our special section on the environment we offer you some great practical ideas for "greening" your parish ("Our Lady of Waste Management," pages 12-17). In "For God so loved the cosmos," one of this country's most prominent theologians, Sister Elizabeth Johnson, C.S.J. provides some thought-provoking reflections on connecting our love for Jesus Christ with love for nature (pages 18-21). And in this month's Expert Witness, Franciscan Keith Douglass Warner taps some 13th-century wisdom for his call to "ecological repentance."
Whether it's calling for ecological repentance, nuclear disarmament, or justice for the poor, a prophet's job is never done. At least in that respect not much has changed since the times of Isaiah and Amos.
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|Title Annotation:||editors' note|
|Date:||Apr 1, 2010|
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