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Comment & Dialogue
Word and Worship
Lex Cordis Caritas - The law of the heart is Love
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Bumpy ride in Baltimore
November 25, 2018
As we began our November General Assembly of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in Baltimore, I said to one of my fellow bishops, “Fasten your seat belt. I think we are in for a bumpy ride” (figuratively speaking). No sooner had I said that when the president of our conference, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, announced that he had received word from the Congregation for Bishops that no vote be taken on the proposals during the bishops’ fall meeting. The proposals included standards of accountability for bishops and the formation of a special commission composed predominantly of lay people to review complaints against bishops for violations of the standards.
Eternity isn’t at Disney World
November 11, 2018
Our belief in the resurrection of the body has implications for our burial practices. First all, canon law says that “deceased members of the Christian faithful must be given ecclesiastical funeral rites according to the norm of law” (c. 1176, §1). This states an obligation for the family members to see to it that church funeral rites are accorded to a deceased Catholic. It is sad to see a person who had been a daily Mass goer when living denied a Mass of Christian Burial after death because their adult children who have fallen away from the faith do not want to be bothered with a church funeral.
God is always merciful and always just
October 28, 2018
The late Archbishop of Chicago, Cardinal Francis George, for whom I was privileged to serve as chancellor of the archdiocese and as auxiliary bishop, wrote in his book entitled, The Difference God Makes, “The world permits everything and forgives nothing. God and the Church do not permit everything but forgive everything.” This incisive statement has profound implications for us as we consider how to live as Catholics in the current crisis facing the church. The seemingly endless stream of reports of clerical sexual abuse of minors going back for decades is deeply disturbing and has caused some people to question their faith. For some, these scandals may be a stumbling block that hinders newcomers from joining the church. For those who are long-time members of the church, the current crisis may prompt questioning and doubts about their continued identification with an institution so marred by corruption.
A weekend devoted to the sanctity of Life
October 14, 2018
My weekend with the LIFE Runners included praying in front of a Planned Parenthood facility, followed by celebrating the Saturday Evening Mass at Holy Innocents Church in Long Beach. As we continue to celebrate Respect Life Month during the month of October, I offered some reflections on the 50th anniversary of the encyclical letter of Blessed Pope Paul VI, Humanae Vitae. While this document is best known for its condemnation of artificial contraception as contrary to God’s divine plan for spouses to give themselves totally to each other, Humanae Vitae also makes clear that abortion is an unacceptable form of contraception. Abortion, of course, was at the heart of the matter in the recent Senate confirmation hearings for Judge Brett Kanavaugh for the United States Supreme Court, even when it was not explicitly mentioned. With all the recent focus on the unsubstantiated allegations of sexual misconduct against him, people may have forgotten an important exchange on the topic of abortion that came up earlier in the hearings.
Respect for life includes quality living and dignified housing for seniors
September 30, 2018
The month of October is officially designated as Respect Life Month. On Respect Life Sunday, Oct. 7, I will be running a marathon in Long Beach, Calif., with the LIFE Runners, a pro-life running organization with 8,500 teammates in all 50 states and 35 nations. This will be my 24th marathon in 24 years. Fundraising has always been a key element of my marathon running. The charitable cause that I have designated for the 2018 LIFE Runners Marathon is the Divine Mercy Senior Living Community that we are planning to build in Glen Carbon. This community, which will be located on the campus next to Father McGivney Catholic High School, will provide high-quality senior housing with a Catholic expression to people of all faiths.
Is revision a change in doctrine?
September 16, 2018
On Aug. 2, the Holy See announced that Pope Francis has revised the Catechism of the Catholic Church with regard to capital punishment. In a rescript, or decree, the pope has replaced the previous version of paragraph 2267 of the Catechism, now concluding that “the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person.”
A call for profound spiritual renewal at all levels, prayer and fasting
September 02, 2018
In my previous column in the Aug. 19th issue of Catholic Times, I wrote about the recent revelations of what can only be described as horrifying abuse and neglect of authority among some priests and bishops of the church in our own country. While I felt compelled to respond immediately to the news, since that time, I have only experienced increasing anger, disgust, and a desire to act. I called for a response that must include several components, namely, public prayers of repentance and acts of atonement, new measures for review of bishops’ handling of cases and a reaffirmation of my own commitment to a zero-tolerance policy in our diocese, and a call for spiritual renewal at all levels of the church. I would like to share additional details and perspective on each of these three components of response — especially the first.
Sexual misconduct: Pruning and purification continues within the church
August 19, 2018
Recent allegations against Archbishop (formerly Cardinal) Theodore McCarrick of sexual misconduct with minors, seminarians and priests have caused great shame, anger and even outrage throughout all levels of the church. As a bishop, I certainly share in those feelings of disgust that a fellow successor of the Apostles could engage in such sinful conduct. I also find it disgraceful that his proclivities were apparently known by some church authorities, yet they did nothing about it as he continued to ascend through the ranks of the hierarchy.
The balance of charity and security with immigration
August 05, 2018
Immigration has been a hot button topic in recent times, but it has been a matter of keen interest for me during most of my adult life. My great-grandparents on both my mother’s and father’s sides of the family were Polish immigrants who came to the United States in the 1890s. The neighborhood where I grew up was heavily Polish when I was a young child. Hispanic immigrants from Mexico and Puerto Rico began to move into our neighborhood when I was in high school. My father, who spoke English and Polish, learned Spanish so he could speak to his customers in our family pharmacy. Similarly, the priests of my home parish learned Spanish so they could celebrate the Mass and the sacraments in English, Polish and Spanish.
Natural law and trusting in God’s providence
July 22, 2018
Wednesday, July 25, 2018 marks the 50th anniversary of the papal encyclical, Humanae vitae, on the gift of human life, written by Blessed Pope Paul VI in 1968. This landmark document provides beautiful and clear teaching about God’s plan for married love and the transmission of life. Three key issues framed the context for the writing of this encyclical: the introduction of the birth control pill in 1960, changes in the understanding of the dignity of women and their role in society and growing concern that the earth’s natural resources would not be able to handle the huge population explosion that many people expected.
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