Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Five Things To Remember On Nov. 25

1. In response to the violence in the community last night, Archbishop Robert Carlson will celebrate another Mass for Peace and Justice at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis this evening at 5:00 p.m. All are welcome and encouraged to attend. Mass will be live streamed at www.stlouisreview.com/ferguson.

2. Archbishop Carlson also released this statement last night via YouTube.



3. Father Ronald Roberson, CSP associate director of the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the USCCB, says, "The fact that Pope Francis has decided to allow Eastern Catholic bishops anywhere in the world to ordain worthy married men to the priesthood is a great step forward. He has recognized that the validity of Eastern Catholic traditions is not limited to certain geographical areas, but applies to those churches wherever they may be found. The Latin practice of ordaining celibate men to the priesthood remains intact and unthreatened by those observing a different tradition."

4. The Year for Consecrated Life will begin next week and there will be major events throughout the year. Learn more.

5. God loves you.

Monday, November 24, 2014

With Married Eastern Catholic Priests, Pope Francis Shows Catholic Church Respects Eastern Traditions

By Father Ronald Roberson, CSP

It was recently announced that Pope Francis had decided to allow Eastern Catholic bishops anywhere in the world to ordain married men to the priesthood. Previously, even if Eastern Catholic bishops in their homelands could ordain married men, this was not allowed in other parts of the world, including North America. The tradition of ordaining married men to the priesthood is very strong in the Christian East: for many centuries the norm in those churches has been that the parish priesthood is mostly married while the charism of celibacy is preserved in the monasteries and the episcopate. This tradition continued in the Eastern Churches that came into full communion with Rome beginning, for the most part, in the 16th century.

Towards the end of the 19th century increasing numbers of immigrants from eastern and central Europe came to North America. Many of them were “Greek Catholics” (at that time mostly Ukrainians and Ruthenians) who were accompanied by their married priests and their families. But the presence of such married Catholic priests in the United States caused great concern in the hierarchy, who felt that preserving the unity of their Catholic flock required uniformity in discipline, including celibacy of the clergy. Even after hearing warnings that such a decision could result in a schism among Eastern Catholics, they felt so strongly on this point that, at a meeting in 1893, the country’s Catholic archbishops unanimously adopted this resolution: “It is the solemn judgment of the Archbishops of the United States that the presence of married priests of the Greek rite in our midst is a constant menace to the chastity of our unmarried clergy, a source of scandal to the laity and therefore the sooner this point of discipline is abolished before these evils obtain large proportions, the better for religion, because the possible loss of a few souls of the Greek rite, bears no proportion to the blessings resulting from uniformity of discipline.”

Eventually the Holy See responded to repeated petitions of this type, and in first half of the 20th century issued a number of decrees that had the effect of banning the ordination of married men to the priesthood not only North America but everywhere in the world outside the traditional territories of these Eastern Catholic Churches, mostly in eastern Europe and the Middle East. True, a number of married Eastern Catholic priests have always been present in the United States and elsewhere, but virtually all of them were ordained by bishops overseas where the practice was allowed.

As the recent document lifting the ban acknowledges, the Holy See’s action resulted in as many as 200,000 Eastern Catholics leaving the Catholic Church and becoming Orthodox in order to retain their married clergy. This was a devastating loss to the Eastern Catholic communities in the United States and elsewhere. Eastern Catholics have long felt that the ban represented a great injustice, a lack of respect for their ancient traditions, and for the terms by which they entered into full communion with the Catholic Church centuries ago.

Attitudes towards this issue began to shift in the wake of the Second Vatican Council, which called for each Eastern Catholic church to “retain its traditions whole and entire” (Orientalium Ecclesiarum n. 6), and spoke of the “holy vocation” of those individuals who have received both the sacraments of marriage and priesthood (Presbyterorum Ordinis n. 16). Gradually the Catholic bishops of several countries, including Canada and Australia, went on record as having no objection to the restoration of a married Eastern Catholic priesthood. Speaking at a gathering of Eastern Catholic Bishops from around the world in Boston in November 1999, Bishop Wilton Gregory, then bishop of Belleville and vice president of the USCCB, commented on the growing acceptance of married Eastern Catholic priests, assuring them that “if in the judgment of our Eastern Catholic brothers in the episcopate such a resolution would be helpful, I believe that the bishops of the United States would give it the highest consideration.”

This question also has an ecumenical dimension. Just last June the North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation issued an agreed statement calling for a lifting of the ban. They wrote: “This action would affirm the ancient and legitimate Eastern Christian tradition, and would assure the Orthodox that, in the event of the restoration of full communion between the two Churches, the traditions of the Orthodox Church would not be questioned.”

The fact that Pope Francis has decided to allow Eastern Catholic bishops anywhere in the world to ordain worthy married men to the priesthood is a great step forward. He has recognized that the validity of Eastern Catholic traditions is not limited to certain geographical areas, but applies to those churches wherever they may be found. The Latin practice of ordaining celibate men to the priesthood remains intact and unthreatened by those observing a different tradition. The presence of an increasing number of married Eastern Catholic priests in our midst should be welcomed because “far from being an obstacle to the Church's unity, a certain diversity of customs and observances only adds to her splendor, and is of great help in carrying out her mission” (Unitatis Redintegratio, n. 16).

Father Ronald Roberson, CSP is associate director of the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. He is also a consultor to the Vatican's Congregation for the Oriental Churches. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Five Things To Remember On Nov. 21


1. Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, M.Sp.S., auxiliary bishop of Seattle and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee on Migration, welcomed the news Thursday that the Obama administration will defer deportations for many undocumented immigrants and their families.

2.Archbishop Gomez of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles has been using his Twitter account to advocate for immigration reform.

3. According to Catholic News Service, Pope Francis said The Catholic Church "is a mother without limits and without borders," welcoming and assisting all of God's children, particularly those fleeing violence, oppression and poverty.

4. Find out how Catholics are assisting Central Americans with the issues they face.

5. God loves you.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Five Things To Remember On Nov. 20

1. Two U.S. bishops applauded a proposal by the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission that would help provide sustainable broadband capacity to Catholic schools. In a November 18 letter, Archbishop George J. Lucas of Omaha and Bishop John C. Wester of Salt Lake City expressed their appreciation and support for the proposal of FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler to permanently increase the funding level of the E-Rate program. The proposal is subject to a vote of the full Commission, December 11.

2. Pope Francis says Christian unity remains important for Catholics.

3. Earlier this week, Pope Francis confirmed he was coming to the U.S. next year and Philadelphia is thinking big.

4. Catholic News Service's new book “Pope Francis: A Guide to God’s Time,” explains the church’s liturgical year using the pope’s homilies.

5. God loves you.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Five Things To Remember On Nov. 19


1. Catholic News Service reports: Pope Francis condemned the "unacceptable episodes of violence" in Jerusalem, episodes that "do not spare even places of worship," after an attack in a synagogue left four worshippers, a policeman and the two attackers dead.

2. More than 46 million Americans live below the poverty line. Learn about the state of poverty. Hashtags on social media for this weekend's Catholic Campaign for Human Development Collection include #PowerofCCHD and #OnTheMargins

3. Today at 12:30 pm EST is your chance to ask questions about peace and a two-state solution in the Holy Land.

4. Archbishop Charles Chaput reacts to the exciting news that Pope Francis is coming to Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families.


5. God loves you.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Five Things to Remember November 18

1. Welcome to Chicago, Archbishop Cupich. The ninth archbishop of Chicago is installed at Holy Name Cathedral at 3 p.m. Eastern today. Chicago media will provide live streaming coverage of the event.

2. Human life and dignity: In the last 24 hours, bishops representing different USCCB committees have reached out to Congress on a range of issues, including protecting conscience rights against participation and coverage of abortion and defending programs that serve the poor and vulnerable.

3. As the 50th anniversary of Vatican II's Decree on Ecumenism nears this Friday, the new chairman of USCCB Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski of Springfield, Massachusetts, blogs about "the power of becoming a Church in dialogue."

4. Still buzzing about yesterday's announcement of Pope Francis' September 2015 visit to Philadelphia and the World Meeting of Families? Registration is open online.

5. God loves you.

(CNS Photo/Karen Callaway, Catholic New World)

The Power of Becoming a Church in Dialogue

By Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski

Our choice of words can make a profound difference.

Our posture can make a profound difference.

We as a Church have learned these lessons as we have engaged in dialogue with our fellow Christians for the past 50 years. When the words we use are harsh and judgmental, people don't stick around to hear what else we might have to say, even if it might be beneficial to them. When we assume a posture that is defensive and closed, people don't bother to approach us in the first place.

With its Decree on Ecumenism, issued 50 years ago this month, the Second Vatican Council transformed the Catholic Church into a Church of dialogue. Our focus shifted from the errors we saw  in other Christian traditions to an acknowledgement that the Holy Spirit is also working in the lives of these communities and that, yes, there are positive elements to them, even things Catholics can learn from them.

And thus it becomes imperative that we dialogue.

In 50 years of dialogue with other Christians, we have seen progress that would have been unimaginable before the Council:
The world of dialogue has received a real shot of adrenaline with Pope Francis, a man of dialogue to his core. The response to the world's challenges, Pope Francis said in Brazil last year, should be "dialogue, dialogue, dialogue."

"Dialogue between generations, dialogue with the people, because we are all people, the capacity to give and receive, while remaining open to the truth," Pope Francis said.

In this light, we see that dialogue is not merely a tool for different Christians and religions to better understand the truth of one another, but an answer to the call for the Church to go out from itself and bring Christ's mercy to people on the margins.

This is the power of being a Church in dialogue. The world of ecumenical relationships has seen the Holy Spirit at work time and again over the past 50 years. Now it is up to the Church to answer the call of Pope Francis, Blessed Paul VI and the Council, to take this model and truly apply it to a dialogue with the whole world.

Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski is bishop of the Diocese of Springfield, Massachusetts, and the new chairman of the Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.