Thursday, February 26, 2015

Five Things To Remember On Feb. 26

1. Bishop David O'Connell of Trenton recently underwent an amputation of his foot after a struggle with diabetes. CBS3 in Philadelphia did this inspiring video report about his rehabilitation.

2. CRS Rice Bowl is one of the easiest ways people can give to people in need around the globe. Learn more about Rice and how you can start helping this Lent. It's not too late.

3. A recent profession class has people with very interesting life stories, including a sister who at one time worked with horses to learn how to help people with special physical needs.

4. Former ambassador Johnny Young retired yesterday after seven years as the head of Migration and Refugee Services at the USCCB. Read about his experiences both at the USCCB and in his extraordinary career.

5. God loves you.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Five Things To Remember On Feb. 25

1. How's your Lenten journey going so far? Use our calendar to help keep you on track.

2. Pope Francis and the Roman curia are discussing superficial religiosity during their spiritual retreat.

3. In case you missed it yesterday, the USCCB spoke out about the vital need to protect religious minorities in the Middle East in the wake of horrific violence recently.

4. The bishops are concerned about the root causes that drive people to leave their homes and migrate to new places. The Senate Finance Committee is having a hearing tomorrow on trade deals and how they impact migration. In January, the bishops who chair the bishops’ Justice and Peace committees wrote a letter affirming the values that Catholics see as needing protection in such deals.

5. God loves you.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Five Things To Remember On Feb. 24

1. In the wake of the brutal murders of twenty one Coptic Christians at the hands of the Islamic State (ISIS) in Libya, increased support to protect religious minorities and civilians should be combined with adequate humanitarian assistance and other assets, said the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and the chairman of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace.

2. An interim final rule published by the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services risks harmful effects on unaccompanied children resettled by the United States, according to comments filed by Catholic and Evangelical organizations and relief agencies. At issue is whether the rule adequately accounts for the religious and moral concerns of faith-based organizations. Regulations that may force those agencies to restrict their work could create an unmanageable backlog for services.

3. Archbishop Thomas Wenski, of Miami, wrote an op-ed in the Orlando Sun Sentinel about Pope Francis' upcoming encyclical on the environment. The USCCB's Cecilia Calvo looks at the Archbishop Wenski piece and Pope Francis' focus on combating a culture of waste.

4. Want to help Jesus in disguise? Join Catholics across the country by giving to the Catholic Relief Services Collection the weekend of March 14-15:

5. God loves you.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Five Things To Remember On Feb. 19

1. Pope Francis spoke yesterday of the importance of ashes yesterday, saying, "We are limited creatures, sinners always in need of repentance and conversion. How important it is to listen and accept these reminders."

2. Bishop Denis J. Madden of the Archdiocese of Baltimore writes in America Magazine about prison addiction and how it impacts large numbers of people in today's cities.

3. Catholic News Service highlighted how Ash Wednesday and Lent have gone "high tech."

4. Make sure you use and share our Lent calendar to guide you along the way. .

5. God loves you.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Five Things To Remember On Feb. 18

1. Today is Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent. Download this calender for daily inspiration and guidance as the journey begins.

2. As people get Ashes today, they are sharing photos on social media. Use #Ashtag, which is trending along with #AshWednesday and #Lent2015.

3. Pope Francis presided over Ash Wednesday Mass today in Rome.

4. Here are 10 Things to Remember for Lent from Bishop David L. Ricken of Green Bay, Wisconsin, former chairman of the bishops' Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis.

5. God loves you.

Monday, February 16, 2015

The Pope, Touchstone of Faith and Unity

(CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano)

By Cardinal Donald Wuerl

Early Sunday morning I watched our Holy Father, Pope Francis, give his Angelus talk – the comments he shares before praying the Angelus with the huge crowd – tens of thousands – gathered in Saint Peter’s Square each Sunday. Here, this enormously popular and revered successor to Peter spoke about the tenderness of Jesus, his loving compassion and at the same time our need to be caring and compassionate to our fellow human beings. The Holy Father clearly is admired not only by the crowds in Saint Peter’s Square but by people around the world. But apparently that admiration is not shared by all.

As I was watching the Holy Father on TV, my inbox was filling with a number of emails including an interview and an article by brother bishops who are less than enthusiastic about Pope Francis. Those emails reminded me of a much, much earlier time in my life when I first experienced dissent from the teaching and practice of a pope. As a young seminarian (20 years old) doing graduate work at The Catholic University of America, I read for the first time the encyclical letter of Saint John XXIII, Mater et magistra. Its teaching was not well received by some. One of the pundits offered the observation that became rather widespread in those circles, “Mater si, Magistra no,” – Latin for “Mother yes, Teacher no.”

Along with a number of my classmates, I remember being so scandalized by this rejection of the encyclical that we spoke to one of the priests at the seminary. He gently chided us for our naivety and pointed out that there has always been a current of dissent in the Church, some of it as high as the College of Cardinals. It was then that I first heard of Cardinal Louis Billot who was less than discrete in his opposition to Pope Pius XI who had condemned the political and religious movement, Action Française, which involved many people who longed for the restoration of the monarchy in France and a stronger role for the Church in civil government. In 1927, as the Catholic Encyclopedia puts it, Cardinal Billot “was persuaded to renounce his cardinalitial dignity.” Unhappiness with a Pope’s position on issues whether doctrinal, pastoral, canonical or as simple as clerical vesture, seems always to be present in some form. In 1963 Saint John XXIII again became the object of wrath of those who disliked his encyclical Pacem in terris, as did Blessed Paul VI for his encyclical, Populorum progressio in 1967 and certainly for his encyclical Humanae vitae in 1968. Dissent by some priests from the teaching in Humanae vitae led to their departure from priestly ministry.

On a much less important level, there was, nonetheless, considerable dismay among some in 1969 when the Secretary of State of Pope Paul VI issued an instruction concerning the vesture of bishops and cardinals. The effort to streamline and do away with things like the cappa magna (long outer garment of bishops and cardinals with a long, long train) upset some.

Even the short reign of Pope John Paul I was not without critique. Some wrote that they found his smile unbefitting a Pope since it diminished the gravitas (gravity or seriousness) of his office. One commentator lamented that this dear and kind Pope actually waved at people as he processed to celebrate Mass.

Then of course came Saint John Paul II. Everything he wrote had some critic whether it involved his social encyclicals such as Laborem exercens in 1981 or Sollicitudo rei socialis in 1987 or Centesimus annus in 1991 or his encyclical on the permanent validity of the Church’s missionary effort, Redemptoris missio. There were some who continually criticized him for his travels even though he helped in his nearly 27 years as Pope revitalize the Church. Personally, I always found the criticism of Saint John Paul II particularly painful because I have such an affection and admiration for him. In fact, the brand new seminary in this archdiocese that was opened just a few years ago bears his name, Saint John Paul II Seminary.

I will not belabor the point by going through the critiques, challenges, disapproval and dissent that faced so much of what Pope Benedict XVI taught and published during his pontificate. Again, I find myself greatly perplexed at the negative critique of him whom I saw as such a good, brilliant and holy Shepherd of the Church.

Hardly then should we expect that Pope Francis would be immune from what appears to be something that “comes with the territory.”

One of the things I have learned though over all of these years since those early naïve days in 1961 is that on closer examination there is a common thread that runs through all of these dissenters. They disagree with the Pope because he does not agree with them and therefore follow their position.

Dissent is perhaps something we will always have, lamentable as it is, but we will also always have Peter and his successor as the rock and touchstone of both our faith and our unity.

Note: This entry first appeared on Cardinal Donald Wuerl's blog, Seek First The Kingdom and is reprinted with permission from the Archdiocese of Washington.

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Friday, February 13, 2015

Five Things To Remember On Feb. 13

1. A variety of resources to help Catholics observe Lent, which begins on Ash Wednesday, this year February 18, is being provided by the USCCB. With the theme “Raise Up. Sacrifice. Offer,” resources include video reflections on Lenten themes, a downloadable Lenten calendar with quotes from Pope Francis’ Message for Lent and other teachings and suggestions for taking an active approach to the three traditional pillars of Lenten observance: prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

2. Last month, the Diocese of Burlington welcomed the blogging, social media savvy Bishop Christopher Coyne as their 10th bishop. Two weeks later, Vermont Catholic is now on Facebook.

3. Cardinals meeting at the Vatican discussed better ways to balance the responsibilities of local bishops and of the Roman Curia, said the Vatican spokesman.

4. In case you missed it, In a February 11 letter to the chairmen and ranking members of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, New Mexico, urged the committees to intervene with the Israeli government regarding a plan to reroute the separation barrier through the Cremisan Valley in the West Bank. The plan, he said, ignores the rights and needs of the local community and would have “devastating consequences.”

5. God loves you.