Lex Cordis Caritas - The law of the heart is Love

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February 17, 2019
The Letter to Diognetus, written in the second century, is one of the earliest descriptions of how the early Christians lived. One very noteworthy passage says that Christians “marry like everyone else, and have children, but they do not expose their offspring. They share their meals, but not their wives. They live in the flesh, but they are not governed by the desires of the flesh. They live on earth, but their citizenship is in heaven.” Reading those lines, you might be wondering what it means for people to “expose their offspring,” since that is an expression that we do not commonly use today.
February 03, 2019
In a few days, we will celebrate Valentine’s Day, or, more precisely, St. Valentine’s Day. The world around us associates Valentine’s Day with romance, as people will purchase cards, flowers, or gifts, or sit down for intimate dinners to celebrate a day dedicated to what our secular culture views as love. Of course, the color red is associated with St. Valentine’s Day, but have you ever wondered why? The reason the color red is associated with Valentine’s Day is because red is the color of martyrs. Yes, St. Valentine was a martyr. Red is the color of martyrs because martyrs are people who shed their blood in witness to their faith in Jesus Christ, and their willingness to die out of love for their Savior who died for our sins on the cross is the motivation that spurs all of us on in our faith.
January 20, 2019
At the request of Pope Francis, the bishops of the United States gathered for a retreat from Jan. 2-8 at Mundelein Seminary in the Archdiocese of Chicago. In his letter to the American bishops, the Holy Father wrote that he had suggested this retreat as “a time of seclusion, prayer and discernment.” He called for a “new ecclesial season” and for finding a way to “protect those in our care from losing hope and feeling spiritually abandoned.” In order to do so, we would first need to enter “with trust into Jesus’ prayer to the Father” and “allow him to conform our hearts to his image and help us to discover his will.”
January 06, 2019
The sexual abuse of minors by Catholic priests is a disgrace. It demands, and the Diocese of Springfield pledges, continued efforts to bring healing to the victims of these grave sins. The report issued on Dec. 19, 2018 by the Illinois Attorney General’s office is, however, highly misleading. Factual clarification is imperative. One case of clerical sexual abuse is one too many. But the facts show this to have been a historic problem, not one recurring regularly in the present. This was not made clear by the Attorney General’s report, which suggested that there is a continuing rape culture in the Catholic Church that is being covered up. That is false.
December 23, 2018
“Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth to people of good will.” This is the basic message of Christmas. It is simple, yet profound; familiar, yet far from the current reality of this world.
December 09, 2018
The large-print headline on the front page of the Nov. 30 issue of the (Springfield) State Journal-Register read, “Diocese names priests in abuse cases.” The sub-headline read, “Ex-Bishop Daniel Ryan on list of 19 released by Diocese of Springfield.” It is a matter of great shame that such terrible sins have been committed by priests of our diocese, as well as by one of our previous bishops, the late Bishop Daniel Ryan, who resigned in 1999 and died in 2015. I am deeply concerned for all those who suffered harm as a result of these sins of sexual abuse of minors. I pray for their healing and for God’s justice and mercy for the perpetrators of these crimes, and I continue to work diligently to prevent the circumstances that allowed these crimes to occur in our church.
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.
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.
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.
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.