Archive for the ‘Courageous Bishops’ Category
The feast of the first American-born Canonized Saint, Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton, was celebrated on Tuesday, January 4th. A statue of Mother Seton, and her first-class holy relic, were honored in the sanctuary at Salem during and after Holy Mass. This is a special feast, since our parochial school children attend Mass every morning and Mother Seton is honored as the Foundress of the Catholic School System in the United States (along with St. John N. Neumann, the 4th Bishop of Philadelphia). Likewise, the Priest of Salem is a graduate of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, MD (on Mary’s Mountain, which overlooks St. Joseph’s Valley in Emmitsburg, home to Mother Seton’s Basilica and National Shrine). Mother Seton taught catechism up on the Mount, near the current location of the National Shrine Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes.
With praise and thanksgiving to God, the Priest of Salem would like the readers of Salemcatholic to know that Mother Seton’s intercession brought about the 1996 cure from very serious bladder cancer of the eighth Bishop of Sioux Falls, the Most Reverend Robert J. Carlson, who ordained the Priest of Salem. During the Canon of today’s Mass, at the Memento of the Living, the health and happiness of this same good and holy successor of the Apostles was offered to the Father with much devotion. Thankfully, from her place in heavenly glory, Mother Seton is still caring for our former bishop and his health – so much so that he is now courageously serving the Lord Jesus as the 9th Archbishop of St. Louis, once home to many of Mother Seton’s daughters in religion. Ad multos annos, Your Grace!
From Archbishop Robert J. Carlson, Archbishop of St. Louis:
God’s law in the Old Testament is clear and unambiguous: You shall not kill. Jesus is even more demanding: Every one who is angry is liable to judgment.
Sins against the Fifth Commandment are easy to commit. Any time we think, speak or act out of anger or hatred or jealousy or revenge, we abuse God’s commandment that we respect His most precious gift, the gift of life — especially human life.
Human life is sacred because, from its beginning until its natural end, it involves the creative action of God. The Fifth Commandment forbids direct and intentional killing as gravely sinful. God alone is the Lord of life. No one has the right to end arbitrarily what God has begun, and sustained, through the gift of His love.
In the account of Abel’s murder by Cain (Genesis 4:8-12), Scripture reveals the presence of anger and envy in humankind, consequences of original sin, from the beginning of recorded history. God declares this as wicked, and He asks the question to be answered over the ages: “What have you done?” Today this question is asked not only of those who kill someone, but also of those responsible for violence, anger, hatred and vengeance in any form.
It is a shame that there are so many violent words expressed between members of the same family day in and day out. Anger and intolerance are also pervasive in our Church and in society. Such attitudes are destructive and sinful. They are of the Evil One and not of God.
The Fifth Commandment does not stop someone from self defense, because someone who defends his or her own life is not guilty of murder. Legitimate defense can be not only a right but also a grave duty for someone responsible for another’s life, the common good of the family or the security of a nation. We risk our lives to protect ourselves and others because we value human life and freedom so dearly. They are gifts from God that we are bound to cherish and defend.
Since the first century, the Church has addressed the moral evil of abortion and the killing of a defenseless baby in the womb. People who are casual about the sin of abortion and who choose to view it as a political issue rather than the serious moral issue that it is are guilty of violating the Fifth Commandment. You cannot be “pro-choice” (pro-abortion) and remain a Catholic in good standing. That’s why the Church asks those who maintain this position not to receive holy Communion. We are not being mean or judgmental, we are simply acknowledging the fact that such a stance is objectively and seriously sinful and is radically inconsistent with the Christian way of life.
The Fathers of the Second Vatican Council said, “God, the Lord of life, has entrusted to men the noble mission of safeguarding life, and human life must be protected with the utmost care from the moment of conception: Abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes” (“Gaudium et Spes,” No. 51.3). That’s why formal cooperation in an abortion constitutes a grave offense. The Church attaches the canonical penalty of excommunication to this crime against human life (see canons 1398,1314, and 1323-1324).
The Fifth Commandment also directs us to work for justice and peace — avoiding war whenever possible — and to limit the use of capital punishment to the most extreme (and rare) circumstances required to protect human life. Only God has the right to take the life of another human being. When we take that action into our own hands — in self-defense or in defense of others — we had better be sure that all other options have been exhausted!
In addition, euthanasia or deliberately taking of the life of someone who is sick, dying, disabled or mentally ill is morally unacceptable. The Church calls for the ordinary care owed to a sick person, but medical procedures that are burdensome, dangerous or extraordinary are not necessary. If you are unsure about the moral implications of health care procedures that are being proposed for someone you love, contact your pastor or the archdiocese’s Respect Life Apostolate. They will be happy to help you consider approaches that are in accordance with our Church’s teaching about care for those who are sick or dying.
Taking proper care of our health, respecting others and showing respect for the dead are all matters covered by the Fifth Commandment’s demand that we reverence God’s most precious gift — human life.
Self-described Catholic groups who endorsed the health care bill despite objections “severely damaged” the common good and diluted the pro-life witness of the U.S. bishops and the Catholic faithful, asserted Bishop Samuel J. Aquila of Fargo, North Dakota in a recent statement.
Bishop Aquila said it was “truly tragic” that some “so-called ‘Catholic’ groups” came out in support of the legislation.
“The Catholic Health Association (CHA), Catholics United and some small groups of religious orders have supported the Act,” the bishop explained. “In recent days, most sadly of all, these groups have received gratitude from pro-abortion forces.”
These groups, Bishop Aquila stressed, acted “in direct contradiction to the bishops” who are the “guardians” of authentic Christian teaching.
“The actions of these groups have betrayed the common good, undermined the teaching authority of the Church, and have disregarded the courageous witness by the Bishops and the many millions of faithful Catholics to the gift and dignity of human life,” he continued. “We now face the reality of severe damage to the common good by the expansion of abortion throughout our land because of the counter-witness of these groups.”
Additionally, the bishop said, these groups and some Catholic legislators and laity have “weakened the bonds of communion” within the Church and diluted “her witness to justice for all, from the moment of conception until natural death.”
He then reported that the groups’ influence was evident in North Dakota, whose U.S. Rep. Earl Pomeroy cited the encouragement of “Catholic nuns” to defend his vote for the legislation.
Bishop Aquila lamented that some Catholics are “more faithful to their political parties and ideological beliefs than to the teachings of Jesus Christ and his Church.”
“Rather than being a leaven in their respective party and in society for the good, by ignoring the primacy of the truths of our Catholic faith, they pave the way for secularism and a culture of death.”
Speaking about the effects of the health care reform bill itself, the bishop said although it seeks to expand access to health care especially for the poor and uninsured, at the same time it “allows for the violation of the sacredness of human life” by expanding federal funding for abortion.
“As Catholics, we cannot support something which helps some people while, at the same time, allows and funds, in part, the destruction of the most innocent among us, the unborn, and does not provide adequate conscience protection for those who are pro-life,” he added.
The executive order purporting to apply Hyde Amendment restrictions to the legislation “falls short,” in the bishop’s view, as its efforts to address shortcomings are “highly likely” to be legally invalid.
“The legal and policy advisors of the U.S. Catholic Bishops have noted the executive order cannot and does not fix the statutory problems of funding abortion, it cannot and does not make up for the absence of conscience protections that are missing from the statute, and it does not strengthen existing conscience protections,” he explained.
Bishop Aquila’s statement concluded by calling for Catholics to “remain steadfast” in witnessing to the human dignity of the unborn child and to the need for conscience protections for pro-life medical professionals and institutions.
Bishop Tobin of Providence, RI and Bishop Brandt of Greensburg, PA take actions against religious Sisters and Catholic Health Association over stand on health reformWednesday, April 21st, 2010
WASHINGTON (CNS) — At least two U.S. bishops have taken actions to indicate their disapproval of the support some women’s religious communities and the Catholic Health Association gave to the final version of health care reform legislation. Bishop Lawrence E. Brandt of Greensburg, Pa., has directed diocesan offices, parishes and the diocesan newspaper not to promote the “vocation awareness program of any religious community” that was a signatory to a letter urging members of the House of Representatives to pass the health reform bill. In Providence, R.I., Bishop Thomas J. Tobin asked the Catholic Health Association to remove the diocesan-sponsored St. Joseph Health Services of Rhode Island from its membership rolls, saying that CHA leadership had “misled the public and caused serious scandal” by supporting health reform legislation that the bishops opposed. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops was against the measure because its provisions on abortion funding and conscience protections were morally unacceptable. When the bill passed, the bishops reiterated their decades-long support for providing access to health care for all but expressed regret that health care reform came with the possibility of expanded abortion funding and urged vigilance that an executive order by President Barack Obama would, as promised, ensure no federal funds will be spent on abortion. Some Catholic groups reacted with enthusiasm to the passage of health reform and Obama’s executive order, and others said the order would have no effect on abortion funding.
November begins with two great liturgical observances: the Solemnity of All Saints on Nov. 1, and the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed – also called “All Souls”- on Nov. 2. The celebration of Holy Mass is particularly meaningful on these days which remind us of the Communion of Saints to which we belong with those who have gone before us in faith.
Having grown up in a parish named “All Souls,” this day has always had a special meaning for me. Not only were we off school on All Souls day because it was our “feast day,” but we were encouraged to come to church and make a visit before our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament and offer prayers for the souls in purgatory.
In the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Church clearly affirms her belief that “All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven” (CCC, no. 1030). The Church gives the name, “Purgatory,” to this work of purgation or purification, and urges us to pray for the dead, and to do good works (almsgiving, indulgences, and works of penance) for their eternal well-being (CCC, nos. 1031-1032).
A special “Plenary Indulgence,” is granted by the Church, applicable to the souls in purgatory, when the Christian faithful devoutly visit a church or an oratory on All Souls Day, and offer some prayers for the faithful departed, minimally the Our Father and the Creed. The traditional prayers I was taught at an early age were the recitation of six Our Fathers, Hail Mary’s and Glory Be’s. I still make an All Souls Day visit each year for these intentions.
The plenary indulgence provides the remission of all temporal punishment due to sin, and assists to ready the person to enter into heaven. The “conditions” that must be met are: That the person making this prayerful visit to gain the indulgence for the poor souls should go to sacramental confession within several days preceding or following their visit and prayers; that they should receive Holy Communion worthily, and offer some prayer for the Pope’s intentions.
Having recently re-read the Pope’s Apostolic Constitution on the doctrine of indulgences, I have noted that the Ordinary (the Bishop) of the Diocese may extend the opportunity for the All Souls Day indulgence such that it can be gained either on All Souls Day or on the preceding or following Sunday, or on the Solemnity of All Saints. I gladly extend this privilege to the faithful within the churches and oratories of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph to this Sunday, so that more may take advantage of this grace of interceding on behalf of our brothers and sisters who have died in Christ.
Though it may seem “quaint” or even archaic to some, the notion of the indulgence is a meaningful expression of the doctrine of Grace and merit, and bears testimony to the power of our prayers for one another, even beyond this life. It also expresses the pastoral solicitude of the Vicar of Christ to “bind and loose” (cf. Matthew 16:19) as an expression of God’s mercy.
The greatest and most powerful prayer we can offer for the eternal salvation of those who have died is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Here the saving gift of Jesus Christ, dying and rising, is made present and its fruits or benefits are applied on behalf of the faithful.
The plenary indulgence proper to All Souls Day is a very special moment in the Church’s liturgical calendar for us to remember those who have gone before us. Let us remember throughout this month that “to pray for the dead is a holy and wholesome thought, that they may be loosed from their sins” (2 Mac 12: 46). Remember them every day before the Lord.
MARQUETTE, MICHIGAN – This is the statement of Bishop Alexander K. Sample of the Catholic Diocese of Marquette, issued this morning:
“I attempted to handle this matter in a private, respectful and fraternal manner with Bishop Gumbleton. It is unfortunate that what should have remained a private matter between two bishops of the Catholic Church has been made available for public consumption.
“I want to first of all say that my decision to ask Bishop Gumbleton not to come to Marquette had absolutely nothing to do with the group who invited him to speak, Marquette Citizens for Peace and Justice, nor with the topic of his publicized speech, since the Church is a strong advocate of peace and justice. I am sorry for the negative impact this has had on those planning this event.
“There is a common courtesy usually observed between bishops whereby when one bishop wishes to enter into another bishop’s diocese to minister or make a public speech or appearance, he informs the local bishop ahead of time and seeks his approval. I have had no communication whatsoever from Bishop Gumbleton.
“As the Bishop of the Diocese of Marquette, I am the chief shepherd and teacher of the Catholic faithful of the Upper Peninsula entrusted to my pastoral care. As such I am charged with the grave responsibility to keep clearly before my people the teachings of the Catholic Church on matters of faith and morals. Given Bishop Gumbleton’s very public position on certain important matters of Catholic teaching, specifically with regard to homosexuality and the ordination of women to the priesthood, it was my judgment that his presence in Marquette would not be helpful to me in fulfilling my responsibility. I realize that these were not the topics upon which Bishop Gumbleton was planning to speak. However, I was concerned about his well-known and public stature and position on these issues and my inability to keep these matters from coming up in discussion. In order that no one becomes confused, everyone under my pastoral care must receive clear teaching on these important doctrines.
“I offer my prayers for Bishop Gumbleton and for all those who have been negatively affected by this unfortunate situation.”
For more information, to to: http://www.dioceseofmarquette.org
Bishops’ concerns include abortion, conscience, immigrants, affordability, reaffirm commitment to work for reform that respects life and dignity of all
U.S. Bishops: Current Health Care Bills Violate Essential Principles; Will Seek Changes Or Have To Oppose
WASHINGTON—Three chairmen of the bishops’ committees working on health care reform urged the U.S. Congress to improve current health care reform legislation, expressing their “disappointment that progress has not been made on the three priority criteria for health care reform” cited in their previous letters.
The October 8 letter from Bishop William Murphy, Cardinal Justin Rigali and Bishop John Wester reiterated the bishops’ main concerns: that no one should be forced to pay for or participate in an abortion, that health care should be affordable and available to the poor and vulnerable, and that the needs of legal immigrants are met.
Bishop Murphy, Cardinal Rigali and Bishop Wester chair the U.S. bishops’ committees on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Pro-Life Activities and Immigration, respectively.
The bishops reaffirmed their commitment to working with Congress and the Administration toward genuine health care reform, but stated, “If final legislation does not meet our principles, we will have no choice but to oppose the bill.”
“We sincerely hope that the legislation will not fall short of our criteria,” wrote the bishops. “However, we remain apprehensive when amendments protecting freedom of conscience and ensuring no taxpayer money for abortion are defeated in committee votes.”
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has advocated for health care reform for decades. The bishops wrote that “Catholic moral tradition teaches that health care is a basic human right, essential to protecting human life and dignity. Much-needed reform of our health care system must be pursued in ways that serve the life and dignity of all, never in ways that undermine or violate these fundamental values. We will work tirelessly to remedy these central problems and help pass real reform that clearly protects the life, dignity and health of all.”
For the letter in its entirety, click here: http://www.usccb.org/sdwp/national/2009-10-08-healthcare-letter-congress.pdf