Seminaries in the United States and Canada reached a record enrollment of 55,112 in 1983, a rise of 4.7 percent over 1982, says the 1984 Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches.

The growth rate in seminary enrollments was three times that of higher education overall, “once again indicating that general post-secondary enrollment trends do not apply to schools of theology in any direct way,” said Marvin J. Taylor, associate director of the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada, who prepared the report.

The 55,112 students enrolled in seminary last year were equivalent to 39,923 full-time students.

“Each year, entering seminary students appear to be a bit older than their predecessors, many coming from other careers, and fewer each year direct from college,” Taylor said. “There are fewer full-time enrollees. They are coming to seminaries at an older age, wanting to study part-time while pursuing careers and other interests. Seminaries are learning how to cope with the new type of student.”

In 1983, record highs were also reached in the seminary enrollment of women and minority students. Women now comprise 24.4 percent of the enrollment, compared with 10.2 percent in 1972. However, the growth rate has been slowing in the last few years, Taylor said.


World Scene

The Peruvian bishops’ conference completed talks with the Vatican’s chief theologian without taking a firm stand on liberation theology. A document released by the bishops neither condemns nor condones liberation theology. Pope John Paul II encouraged a compromise, fearing that a hard-line document would split the Peruvian bishops’ conference, according to the Italian Catholic News Service.

An Israeli research institute says 12 percent of the country’s Jewish homes have a New Testament. Twenty-three percent of the respondents to a survey admitted to reading some of the New Testament text. However, 42 percent of Israelis believe that distribution of New Testaments is harmful to their society.

Sweden’s Lutheran archbishop is being criticized for suggesting that church members should be baptized. Archbishop Bertil Werkstrom says that 500,000 members of Sweden’s state church—on the rolls because of their parents’ membership—should be baptized in order to join the church. Members of the church assembly criticized Werkstrom for expressing his views on issues under study by committees. The church assembly, whose members are elected on the basis of political party affiliations, will make a final decision on the issue.

Poland’s Roman Catholic bishops have issued a pastoral letter declaring abortion an act of terrorism and accusing Communist authorities of spreading “anti-life propaganda.” The Polish government blames the church’s opposition to abortion and artificial birth control for the country’s high birth rate.

A growing number of Sicilian clergymen and lay Catholics are openly opposing the Mafia. Under the leadership of Cardinal Salvatore Pappalardo, priests are condemning organized crime from their pulpits. A lay Catholic group is putting pressure on the Palermo government either to fight the Mafia and political corruption or to resign.

Orthodox Jewish political and religious leaders in Israel have mounted a campaign against Christian television and radio broadcasts. Opponents of a Christian television station and a radio station say programs broadcast for south Lebanese Christians are followed by Israeli Jews in northern Israel. The Orthodox lobby says the programs represent a blatant attempt at introducing “missionary propaganda” into Jewish homes.


Will L. Herzfeld has become the first black to head a Lutheran body in the United States. Herzfeld, 47, succeeds William H. Kohn, 68, as bishop of the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches (AELC). The denomination’s vice-president since 1976, Herzfeld automatically succeeded Kohn when the former AELC bishop resigned. The AELC is scheduled to merge with the Lutheran Church in America and the American Lutheran Church by 1988.

South African Anglican Bishop Desmond Tutu, a major opponent of apartheid, has been named the 1984 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. Tutu, 53, is general secretary of the South African Council of Churches. Most of South Africa’s white churches have dropped out of the council because of its stand against the government’s policy of forced racial segregation.

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