Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Five Things To Remember On Aug. 4

1. “A new national standard to reduce carbon pollution from existing power plants is an important step forward to protect the health of all people, especially children, the elderly, and poor and vulnerable communities, from harmful pollution and the impacts of climate change,” said Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami, in response to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) announcement of a new final rule limiting carbon pollution, August 3.

2. Catholic News Service talked to Ken Hackett, U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See, about his expectations for Pope Francis' visit here next month.

3. If recent news coverage has caused anyone to experience revived trauma from their own involvement in abortion, be assured that any and all persons will be welcomed with compassion and assistance through the Church’s post-abortion healing ministry, Project Rachel. If you or someone you know would like confidential, nonjudgmental help, please visit www.projectrachel.com.

4. In less than a year, Pope Francis will lead World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland. We're counting down the days at the USCCB. Follow WYDUSA.org for more.

5. God loves you. 

Monday, August 3, 2015

Five Things To Remember On August 3

1. Federal funds should be reallocated so women can obtain their health care from providers that do not promote abortion, Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley, archbishop of Boston, said in an August 3 letter to the U.S. Senate. Cardinal O’Malley, who chairs the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, urged support for S. 1881, which would withhold federal funds from the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and its affiliates.

His full letter can also be read here.

2. Last week, Cardinal O'Malley said the organization was part of the throwaway culture decried by Pope Francis.

3. Pope Francis said people should not be ashamed or scared to go to Confession Sunday.

4. Pope Francis arrives in the United States in just 50 days. Get ready by looking at his schedule for the week.

5. God loves you.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Pope Francis: Pastoral Challenges for our Spiritual Journey

By Father John W. Crossin, OSFS

Pastors, Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant, know that challenging the members of the Congregation is part of the job description. Issuing such “wakeup calls” is usually not the pastor’s favorite thing to do. The pastor’s popularity -- and collections -- might go down as people can initially be shaken or even angry about a challenge. Yet the pastor is charged with the spiritual well-being of the members of the Congregation.

Recently Pope Francis’ poll numbers have gone down a bit. Most everyone knows that he has been saying quite challenging things since he was elected bishop of Rome. Reading the texts first of his exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, and now his encyclical, Laudato Si', I see something to challenge almost everyone. I include myself as one who has been challenged, for example, to live more simply, among other things.

The purpose of such challenges is to create “disequilibrium.” The call to conversion upsets our comfortable balance of friends who agree with us and our ways of thinking that are well insulated from some parts of the world. The challenge affects all the things we say to ourselves when we want to avoid real issues. All of us have blind spots and sometimes we want to stay blind. So we defend ourselves--at least initially.

Of course, the call of the Gospel is to open ourselves, even reluctantly, to transformation in Christ. Our problem is not really with Pope Francis, but with following Jesus in the Church. We can shape our ways of thinking to be more like His. We can walk with some of the disparate, and sometime disreputable, people Jesus talked to and healed.

The challenges should lead us into prayer. What is God saying to me? Should I take another look at my ways of thinking or acting?

These questions might lead us to consult a spiritual friend or two. These are friends or family members who are spiritually wise, have good judgment and will be honest with us. They can help us with discerning God’s will.

Among the larger number of suggestions Pope Francis makes, we are called to discern, what is the one path I am called to follow now? Who is God calling me to be now? These are the underlying challenges when Pope Francis speaks of the poor, immigrants, environmental degradation and other issues. He invites us to take merciful action, and the challenge is always to go deeper in following Christ.

Father Crossin is an Oblate of St. Francis De Sales and executive director of the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The Whirlwind--Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran

By Father John Crossin, OSFS

A small but powerful whirlwind blew through Washington a few weeks ago in the person of Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. His visit included major addresses at the Nostra Aetate Symposium at the Catholic University of America, and at the Georgetown University hosted conference The Second Vatican Council: Remembering the Future. His itinerary included visits with Hindu, Jain, Muslim and Jewish leaders.

During the visit, he reviewed the Declaration on Interreligious Dialogue [Nostra Aetate] for its 50th Anniversary, visited local communities, encouraged local and national dialogues and set an agenda for the future.

I heard his Catholic University address “The Catholic Church in Dialogue with Islam since the Promulgation of Nostra Aetate” on Tuesday evening May 19th. In it the Cardinal:

• Reminded us that Islam is simultaneously a religion, a political system and a civilization;

• Recalled that Nostra Aetate did not begin dialogues—these began centuries before—but that it pointed to a “a more positive attitude towards and a constructive relationship with the followers of other religious traditions.”

• Encouraged local dialogues that build from sharing about our lives, to sharing work for the good of the community, to sharing about our faiths, to sharing our personal spiritual journey.

• Noted that we cannot be passive as our Muslim brothers and sister struggle with modernity, religious liberty, and a host of other issues. Our presence must be one of friendship and support in the midst of the struggles of our neighbors.

• Suggested that we are entering a new period of Muslim-Catholic dialogue where Catholics in all parts of the church will need to learn more about Islam and where Muslim-Catholic theological reflection will become more prominent.

Cardinal Tauran also led by example. He met informally with Muslim leaders while at the CUA Symposium and he joined Cardinals Koch and McCarrick, Bishops Rozanski and Madden in conversation with Jewish leaders. The following weekend he dialogued with Hindu and Jain leaders at their temples and shared a meal with them. I joked with him that he had more pictures taken of him with interreligious friends during this visit than the Pope has on one of his trips!

Despite jet-lag and non-stop speeches/conversations, Cardinal Tauran exemplified the genuine humanity and the perseverance that are essential as we move into deeper relationships.

Father John Crossin is an Oblate of St. Francis De Sales and executive director of the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Five Things To Remember On July 30

1. A group of interfaith leaders have issued a welcome to Pope Francis, who will arrive in the U.S. in less than two months.

2. In case you missed it, Cardinal O'Malley said Planned Parenthood’s work reflects the ‘Throwaway Culture’ decried by Pope Francis

3. It's one year from World Youth Day in Krakow. Here's a guide to prepare for World Youth Day for U.S. pilgrims.

4. Check out DiocesanPriest.com, which is a new resource that serves men in discerning a call to the priesthood.

5. God loves you.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Five Things To Remember On July 28

1. A nurse, a chastity educator, and the retired director of the bishops’ national grassroots organization received the 2015 People of Life Award for lifetime commitment to the pro-life movement, July 27, during the annual Diocesan Pro-Life Leadership Conference in Kansas City, Kansas. Cardinal Sean O’Malley, OFM Cap., of Boston, chair of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the USCCB, presented the awards to Nancy Valko, Molly Kelly, and Michael Taylor. Over 120 diocesan, state and national Catholic pro-life leaders and guests from across the country attended the private awards dinner sponsored by the USCCB Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities.

2. The July 24 ruling by Judge Dolly Gee of the Federal District Court of California ordering the Obama administration to release from detention families fleeing violence in Central America was applauded today by Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, auxiliary bishop of Seattle and chairman of the USCCB's Committee on Migration. The administration has pursued a detention policy for these families –young mothers with children– as a means to deter other families from migrating to the United States.

3. Pope Francis tweeted about marriage this morning, aiming his message to young people.
4. The Archdiocese of Chicago will set a benchmark for all of its buildings for energy efficiency.

5. God loves you.