Lex Cordis Caritas - The law of the heart is Love

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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.
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.