Lex Cordis Caritas - The law of the heart is Love

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September 17, 2017
Article VI of the United States Constitution mandates that “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust.” Despite this prohibition on making one’s religious beliefs a basis for appointment to governmental office in the United States, Sen. Richard Durbin of Illinois either is not aware or chose to ignore this basic principle of the United States Constitution in his questioning of Amy Coney Barrett, a law professor at Notre Dame Law School, in the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing on Professor Barrett’s nomination to serve as a federal judge on the United States Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals based in Chicago. In his line of questioning on Sept. 6, 2017, Durbin asked Barrett, “Do you consider yourself an orthodox Catholic?” This question does not address any particular legal or moral issue, but focuses squarely on her religion. Whether Barrett is an orthodox Catholic or an unorthodox Catholic or any kind of Catholic is totally irrelevant to a person’s qualifications to serve as a federal judge and in my opinion it was unethical and unconstitutional for Durbin to make her religious beliefs a test for public office.
September 03, 2017
Living in Springfield, where Abraham Lincoln lived for over 20 years before he was elected president, we are frequently reminded of his crucial role in ending slavery as a legal institution in the United States. Although slavery officially ended on Dec. 6, 1865, the day the 13th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, racial segregation would continue under the protection of the law until the United States Supreme Court outlawed segregation in public schools with their 1954 decision, Brown v. Board of Education. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 ended all state and local laws requiring public segregation. Although slavery and segregation are no longer legally enforced, one cannot say that all racial divisions in our country have been overcome. A very ugly manifestation of the residual racial tensions that continue to afflict our country was seen recently in the violent demonstrations that took place in Charlottesville, Va. The violence there was sparked by a member of a white nationalist group who drove a car into peaceful protesters, killing a young woman and injuring 19 others. These racist impulses and actions must be thoroughly denounced and entirely rejected as being morally unacceptable.
August 20, 2017
In keeping with this call for a calm and rational approach to the situation in Korea, it will be helpful to recall the words of the Catholic Bishops of the United States in their 1983 pastoral letter on war and peace entitled, The Challenge of Peace: God’s Promise and Our Response. The context of The Challenge of Peace was the Cold War nuclear standoff between the United States and the Soviet Union. Today’s tensions between the United States and North Korea evoke similar concerns about the threat of a military conflict escalating into a more expanded and potentially destructive use of missiles and weapons, including nuclear bombs. Thus, The Challenge of Peace is pertinent to the situation facing us today.
August 06, 2017
This past July 27-29, I attended the Napa Institute Conference in Napa, Cali. The overall theme for the conference was, “Strangers in a Strange Land: Living the Christian Faith in a Post-Christian World.” The theme was taken from the book by that title published recently by Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia.
July 23, 2017
Once again people are left with incomplete or even false information if they rely on the secular media for news about the Catholic Church. This time, the issue pertains to the question about holy Communion for people who cannot tolerate any gluten in their food. A cursory reading of headlines in the secular media, which unfortunately is what too many people do in terms of keeping up with the news, would lead one to believe that a new document from an insensitive Pope Francis and his advisors at the Vatican now make it impossible for people with celiac disease and others who are gluten-intolerant to receive holy Communion. That is simply not true. People with gluten intolerance still have valid options for partaking in the Eucharist.
July 09, 2017
There has been quite a bit of consternation since I sent an internal communication to my clergy and staff last month that was unfortunately leaked to the public concerning my “Decree Regarding Same-sex ‘Marriage’ and Related Pastoral Issues.” While the underlying doctrinal issues are not new, these norms were necessary to address situations in the pastoral context arising from the new reality in the law and in our culture, given that same-sex marriage is now recognized by legislative action and judicial decision as legal throughout the United States. This decree prohibits same-sex weddings to be performed by our diocesan personnel or to take place in Catholic facilities, restricts persons in such unions from receiving the sacraments or serving in a public liturgical role unless they have repented, and says that deceased persons who had lived openly in a same-sex marriage giving public scandal to the faithful are to be deprived of ecclesiastical funeral rites unless they have given some signs of repentance before their death.
June 25, 2017
For the sixth year in a row, the Catholic Church in the United States will observe a “Fortnight for Freedom” from June 21 to July 4, Independence Day. This two-week period, which is called a fortnight, is a time when our liturgical calendar celebrates a series of great martyrs who remained faithful in the face of persecution by political power, including St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher, St. John the Baptist, Saints Peter and Paul and the First Martyrs of the church of Rome. The purpose of this effort is to issue a nationwide call to defend religious liberty and to urge efforts to protect the first freedom of the Bill of Rights.
June 11, 2017
The church’s annual celebration of the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus will take place this year on Friday, June 23. Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus has long been an important part of my spiritual life, going back to when I was a child and our home always had a calendar from the Sacred Heart League on our kitchen wall. Barely a day would go by when I would not look at this calendar with a picture of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
May 28, 2017
Those who call themselves “pro-choice” indeed have a fundamental choice to make. The culture of death is the path to perdition. The culture of life is the highway to heaven. Please pray for our political leaders to choose life over death.
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.