Lex Cordis Caritas - The law of the heart is Love

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May 14, 2017
This past May 2, I gave the keynote address for the Northwest Regional Canon Law Convention in Portland, Oregon, entitled, “Doctrine, Law and Practice in Light of Mitis Iudex and Amoris Laetitia,” two documents issued by Pope Francis. With regard to the question of pastoral care for the divorced and remarried, Pope Francis had suggested in a footnote, “In certain cases, this can include the help of the sacraments.” The qualifier, “in certain cases,” means that there is no indiscriminate, universal or blanket permission for the divorced and civilly remarried to receive holy Communion. One example of these certain types of cases would be what is known in the church as the brother-sister solution, in which the couple lives together publicly as husband and wife, but abstains from all sexual intercourse. In such cases, the couple who agree to live as brother and sister may receive holy Communion with the approval of the bishop, provided there is no danger of scandal.
April 30, 2017
Illinois Right to Life held its 49th Annual Banquet this past April 20 in Glen Ellyn, at which I offered the prayers before and after dinner. The Illinois Right to Life’s honoree as its Pro-Life Person of the Year and keynote speaker at the banquet was Rep. Marsha Blackburn from Tennessee. She is regarded as a bi-partisan leader, a champion of reform, and an outspoken advocate for the unborn. Rep. Blackburn has been honored by the Family Research Council, has been given a 100 percent rating for her pro-life voting record by National Right to Life, and has been presented with the Distinguished Leader Award from the Susan B. Anthony List for her pro-life and pro-family work. In 2016, she was selected by Speaker Paul Ryan to be the Chair of the Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives, a year-long investigation into the abortion industry’s buying and selling of aborted children.
April 16, 2017
Our fourth diocesan synod was officially opened in the context of our chrism Mass at the Cathedral on April 11. The various elements of the diocesan synod will take place over the next several months, culminating in the official closing of the synod on the Solemnity of Christ the King on Sunday, Nov. 26. The diocesan synod will set the direction and tone for the pastoral ministry of the parishes and other components of the diocese itself for the next several years, if not decades, to come.
April 02, 2017
This past March 22, I had the privilege of presiding at a special election. This was not the typical political election to which we have become accustomed in the United States. The election began with the chanting of the hymn, Come O Creator Spirit, and a prayer asking for the Spirit to guide the electors “to desire only what is good.” After the Holy Spirit was invoked, two “tellers” were elected. The “tellers” are the people who count the ballots. After taking an oath to faithfully discharge their duties, they distributed ballots to the electors, who then wrote their ballots in secret. The ballots were then collected and counted in my presence. After everything was found to be in order and a winner was certified, it was my privilege as the one presiding at the election to announce the winner. We then closed the election process by singing a hymn of praise and thanksgiving to God.
March 19, 2017
A couple of weeks ago I was having lunch with my mother at the nursing home where she lives. While we were eating in the dining room, there was a television program on the big screen television broadcasting a cooking program called, Special Sunday Suppers. The host of the show started the program by saying that “Sundays were made for sleeping late and then spending the rest of the day preparing your special Sunday supper.” The host’s statement was somewhat understandable given that the name of the program was Special Sunday Suppers, but I could not help but think that he really missed the point in terms of what “Sundays were made for.”
March 05, 2017
For the first time in over half a century, we begin this Lenten season in anticipation of our diocesan synod, which will formally open during the chrism Mass celebrated during Holy Week at our Cathedral at 6:30 p.m. in the evening on Tuesday, April 11. The word “synod” in Greek simply means a meeting, but the Catholic Church uses this Greek word to indicate a very special type of meeting. Our diocesan synod will be special and historic not only because it will be only the fourth such meeting since our diocese was founded in 1853 and the first since 1963, but also because it will involve clergy and laity from across our diocese to assist me as diocesan bishop in guiding the pastoral direction of our diocese for the foreseeable future, especially with regard to the themes of discipleship and stewardship.
February 19, 2017
The Boy Scouts of America announced on Jan. 30, 2017, that, “Starting today, we will accept and register youth in the Cub and Boy Scout programs based on the gender identity indicated on the application.” In other words, the Boy Scouts of America will accept youth members for both Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts who self-identify as male regardless of the child’s biological sex or physical anatomy from birth. In light of the recent announcement from the Boy Scouts of America, it was very timely that I attended a conference on transgender issues presented in Irving, Texas, by the National Catholic Bioethics Center. There was much valuable information provided to the bishops who attended this conference, so I would like to share some of the more important points with you.
February 05, 2017
In our efforts to call people to discipleship, we should follow the example of Jesus and the Apostles. In the first chapter of St. John’s Gospel, two Disciples followed Jesus and asked him, “Where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come, and you will see” (John 1:39). Still in the first chapter of St. John’s Gospel, just a few verses later, Jesus says to Philip, “Follow me.” Philip then finds Nathanael and tells him, “We have found the one about whom Moses wrote in the law, and also the prophets, Jesus, son of Joseph, from Nazareth.” But Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see” (John 1:43-46).
January 22, 2017
Sunday, Jan. 22 at 2 p.m. marks the opening of the preliminary phase of the diocesan synod with a prayer service at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Springfield. In the months ahead during this calendar year of 2017, our diocesan synod will consider how we can make a communal commitment as a diocesan community of clergy and laity regarding discipleship and stewardship as a way of life. Closely related to this will be for us to look at how we can foster community-wide support of Catholic education so that more students will be able to attend Catholic schools.
January 08, 2017
The beginning of a new year is typically a time to make resolutions to do something better, different or new. It is fitting that we make such resolutions at the start of this new year not only for ourselves individually, but also for our diocese collectively. In order to do that, I have decided that during this Year of Our Lord 2017 we will celebrate our fourth Diocesan Synod. The previous diocesan synods were held in 1889 (when our diocese was based in Alton), 1953 and 1963. Since it has been more than half a century since our previous diocesan synod, you might say that we are long overdue to have another one!

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