Thursday, April 30, 2015

Walking With Others: the Nostra Aetate Conference at CUA

By Father John Crossin

The Second Vatican Council’s document on interreligious relations—Nostra Aetate—was one of the last of the Council's documents to appear, one of the shortest, and one with incredible impact. The May 19-21 Symposium at The Catholic University of America will explore the past, present and future of interreligious dialogue.

Three distinguished Cardinals, two from Rome and one from New York, will keynote the Symposium. Cardinals Tauran, Dolan and Koch provide leadership in Catholic relationships with the Muslim and Jewish communities-- among others.

I believe that this is the kind of Symposium where one can gain a lifetime of learning from the distinguished speakers. And one can gain lots of practical knowledge by speaking to people at lunch or in the corridor or over a cup of coffee [all food will be kosher--halal].

There will be an initial offering on dialogue for the person who feels he or she knows nothing. But the key will be that the presenters—both scholars and church leaders—have the experience that allows them to summarize effortlessly, illustrate aptly, and project the future realistically.

In a time when interreligious relations appear in daily headlines in all media, this Symposium will offer constructive paths for the future. In 1965, Nostra Aetate offered a positive challenge to walk together, to leave prejudices and misperceptions behind, and to build real understandings of others.

In 2015, this challenge is even more relevant. We are still seeking a world in which collaboration, not conflict, is the norm.  With Pope Francis, we believe that if we walk together sharing our lives and listening intently to one another, we can come to the deeper understanding that makes for peace.

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 April 30

1. Anticipation for Pope Francis' encyclical on the environment is building.

2. Speaking of the environment, the Catholic Climate Covenant is encouraging people to take the St. Francis pledge for care for creation and the poor.

3. May is the month of Mary. Devotion to Mary deserves special attention here in the United States where we are under the patronage of the Immaculate Conception.

4. In case you missed it, we shared a Five Things To Remember about our colleague and friend, Sister Mary Ann Walsh. She died Tuesday after a struggle with cancer. Many of you worked with her over the years and have shared your memories on social media.

5. God loves you.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Five Things To Remember About Sister Mary Ann Walsh

On April 28, 2015, our friend and former colleague, Sister Mary Ann Walsh, died after a struggle with cancer.  "Five Things To Remember..." was her idea and she launched it as part of this blog on November 16, 2012 under a slightly different name. The concept was simple: share Catholic news items with reporters and the public to help form their day. It tied back to her original goal when she became a Catholic journalist.

1. Mary Ann Walsh was born and raised in Albany, New York.  She joined the Sisters of Mercy at the age of 17 and celebrated her jubilee year last October. The word "mercy" brought an easy smile to her face. She believed in her mission. In the days following Pope Francis' election, she picked up on his emphasis then on mercy. Her last piece for America Magazine, where she had been working since last September, was on the pope's call for the Jubilee Year of Mercy. She wrote March 25, "Pope Francis has made mercy a key theme of his pontificate and has spoken of an 'age of mercy.' People listen to him. There is a huge need for mercy in today’s society where hurt abounds in many areas. People seem open to mercy, which emphasizes forgiveness over judgment, as never before. We need this."

Sister Mary Ann (on the lower right) recently celebrated her jubilee year.

2. Sister Mary Ann loved writing. Midway through a meeting in her office, she would talk about a piece she was working on and then drift off for a second. In the next breath, her eyes would light up because she had an idea for another piece. An hour later, she would send a masterfully-written blog about the need to help immigrants, the poor or children. When Pope Francis talked about the Church as a field hospital, she was inspired. Sister's office was a place where we were inspired as well.

3. In the final months of her life, Sister Mary Ann was on the receiving end of the mercy, which didn't necessarily come naturally for her. She ultimately came to understand it, though. “Mercy sees your needs before you see them and it’s just been overwhelming. It’s been a great embracing by the Mercy family.”

4. Did you know that the Associated Press Stylebook's entry for "nuns" featured Sister Mary Ann? It was something that always brought a smile to her face.

5. This spot has always been marked by "God loves you." Her idea was that God's love was constant. Ever the bridge, she wanted to leave people on a reassuring note. When I asked her once if perhaps it was time to change it up, she looked at me incredulously. "You've got something better than God's love?" Of course, I didn't. God does love us. She knows the depth of that love even more now.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Five Things To Remember On April 27

1. Pope Francis has named Bishop John C. Wester of Salt Lake City, 64, as Archbishop of Santa Fe, New Mexico, and has accepted the resignation of Archbishop Michael Sheehan, 75, from pastoral governance of that diocese.

2. During the weekend, USCCB President Archbishop Joseph Kurtz opened the March for Marriage in Washington with a speech. You can read it here and and listen to it as well.

3. In the aftermath of the earthquake in Nepal, Catholic Relief Services has committed resources to relief efforts. CRS and their Caritas partners have begun procuring emergency relief materials such as tarpaulins/shelter kits and water, sanitation and hygiene materials. CRS urgently needs help. Donations will help immediate emergency response and allow CRS to reach even more affected families.

4. Pope Francis ordained 19 new priests during the weekend and had some advice for them: no boring homilies.

5. God loves you.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Witnessing to the Beauty of Marriage

The following speech was delivered by Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, President of the USCCB, at the March for Marriage in Washington April 25.

My dear friends: Marriage is and can only be the union of one man and one woman. This is a beautiful truth! As Pope Francis has said, “Married life is such a beautiful thing and we must protect it always, protect the children.”Redefining marriage in the law is the greatest social experiment of our time. Children don’t need experiments; they need the love of their mother and father, wherever possible.

In a few days, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on the rights of states to protect marriage’s unique meaning. For the Court Justices, we promise our prayers. For our nation, we pledge our dedication to serve the dignity of every human person and to work together to build stronger communities and a better society. Marriage, like the gift of human life itself, cannot be essentially changed or redefined. Strengthening the family founded upon true marriage is essential for the good of all people.

Fairness, equality, and civil rights are values we all hold in common. But missing from much of the public conversation has been an honest look at the question of what marriage is. Advancing civil discourse depends not upon false caricatures or tactics of intimidation. Civility demands mutual respect even despite differing viewpoints. There must be room in the public square for the witness of lives inspired by the sacrificial love a husband and wife share for their children.

As a people—a movement—for marriage and the family, we seek to walk with others—especially anyone without a family, single parents, families in difficult circumstances, and those who experience same-sex attraction and their families. Further, it involves drawing near to and praying for those who disagree with us. Every person is a precious gift of God.

But friends, we will not be silenced. And we are not alone. I was grateful this past Thursday to join religious leaders of many faiths in reaffirming our shared commitment to protect marriage and religious freedom. A culture of marriage and family needs to be built. This will entail sacrifice and perseverance, in ways similar to the respect life movement. It will also entail a firm and joyful witness of hope. In the months and years ahead, may our love, patience, and courage open minds and hearts anew to the true beauty of marriage.

Thank you very much for your steadfast witness. May God bless you, the leaders of this nation, and all of our fellow citizens.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Five Things To Remember On April 24

1. Pope Francis has appointed Father Edward C. Malesic, 54, bishop of Greensburg, Pennsylvania, and accepted the resignation of Bishop Lawrence E. Brandt, 76, from pastoral governance of that diocese. Father Malesic is a priest of the Diocese of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and judicial vicar of that diocese.

2. The Central American Minors (CAM) program, a new initiative of the U.S. government which allows children in Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador to apply for asylum and humanitarian parole in the United States from their home countries, is a tool that helps save children’s lives, said a USCCB representative, April 23.

3. This weekend is the Catholic Home Missions Appeal. Over 80 dioceses in the United States rely on support from this collection. Learn how you can strengthen the Church at home.

4. During a recent homily, Pope Francis said our faith is an encounter with Jesus.

5. God loves you.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Five Things To Remember On April 22

1.Father John Crossin looks at the relationship between science and Catholicism and the search for truth.

2. Pope Francis has named Father Brendan Cahill, 51, a priest of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, bishop of Victoria, Texas, and accepted the resignation of Bishop David E. Fellhauer, 75, from pastoral governance of that diocese.

3.Pope Francis says the Sacraments help us to live out the Gospel in his tweet today.

4. Cardinal Francis George's funeral Mass is today. View the Archdiocese of Chicago's tribute page.

5. God loves you.

Walking With Others: Science and Ecumenism

By Father John Crossin, OSFS

This past February, I attended a Workshop on Science and Religion at the American Association for the Advancement of Science [AAAS] in downtown Washington. That day we explored the connection of science with Catholicism and ways to communicate knowledge more effectively.

The intersection of science and religion has been of interest to me for well over a decade. I imagine that this interest goes to back to my college days studying for my degree in mathematics.

These days I see a relationship of this workshop to my daily work with others. In our Secretariat we seek ecumenical and interreligious understanding. To use Pope Francis’ image, we walk with our friends in other religious tradition with mutual respect. We seek to understand their points of view and their values more deeply. We also share our thoughts, value and concerns with them.

In our American culture, science is valued and technology influences almost all aspects of life. Science and technology are the basic framework many people have for viewing the world. It can be an alternative faith or philosophy of life. It seems to me that we can adopt the same attitude of mutual respect with the "believers in science" as we do with our religious colleagues. Science can expand our horizons and deepen our understanding.

Whatever the attitudes of some church officials were centuries ago, certainly the Church nowadays has a great respect for the findings of modern science. These findings are taught thoroughly in Catholic schools.

Our attitude, however, is a critical one. We analyze research findings to see if they have been replicated by others. We realize that there are limits to science. Scientific method is a tool that helps us to discover extraordinary things about our world. It enables modern inventions such as the computer used to type this reflection.

We also are critical of efforts to over-extend science.  Some would make genes, for example, the explanation or everything: "My genes made me do it!" We question whether the extension of legitimate science into a total philosophy of life is legitimate.

Such efforts to broaden scientific understanding are fascinating in some ways. They give us things to think about. But they seem to stretch the truth.

We Catholics, as reasonable people, want to know the truth about material things and truths about life. Thus we converse with our scientific colleagues as we walk along.

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.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Five Things To Remember On April 22

1. Pope Francis said today that it is the Church's vocation to care for the covenant of marriage.

2. The pope will also be visiting Cuba before his U.S. trip this September.

3. On Earth Day, the pope also said, “I exhort everyone to see the world through the eyes of God the Creator: the earth is an environment to be safeguarded, a garden to be cultivated."

4.The 2015 Catholic Communications Campaign (CCC) will be taken up in many dioceses the weekend of May 16-17. This collection helps support evangelization efforts at home and abroad through a variety of communications platforms, including the Internet, radio, print and social media. “With digital media taking an increased role in our daily lives, it is important that the Church continues using these new mediums as a way to connect with people. This collection makes many communications projects possible and breathes new life into our evangelization efforts,” said Bishop Joseph J. Tyson of Yakima, Washington, chairman of the USCCB CCC subcommittee

5. God loves you.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Five Things To Remember On April 21

1. Pope Francis said in his homily that the Church today is a Church of martyrs.

2. Cardinal Seán O'Malley spoke out yesterday against abortion activists stalling a bill aimed to assist victims of human trafficking.

3. April is a time to promote awareness of child abuse prevention and to learn how the Catholic Church is working to protect children and young people.

4. Oklahoma City Archbishop Paul S. Coakley says Oklahoma City "spirit of caring and kindness" have emerged in the 20 years since a bombing killed 168 people.

5. God loves you.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Five Things To Remember On April 20

1. Cardinal Francis George, of Chicago, died Friday, eliciting reactions from around the world, including Pope Francis. Cardinal George's brother bishops released a series of statements and tweets, remembering their friend.

2. The schedule for his Funeral Mass and viewing services are available.

3.We are giving away copies of our two new children's books, Green Street Park and Drop by Drop, starting today. Share with your followers.

4. Learn more about how the books can help with teaching children about enacting Catholic social justice with two feet of love.

5. God loves you.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Five Things To Remember On April 17

1. Pope Francis said Christian humility is love, not masochism, today in his homily.

2. Coming up on April 25-26 in your parish, the Catholic Home Mission Appeal is an opportunity to strengthen the Church At Home.

3. See how one woman who is enduring a cancer struggle is speaking against assisted suicide.

4. On Monday, the USCCB will be starting a social media giveaway. Commenters will have the chance to receive two new children's books by the conference about taking care of creation and each other. Find out more.

5. God loves you.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Five Things To Remember On April 16

1. Pope Francis said today being open to dialogue helps you obey God.

2. Today is Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI's 88th birthday. Learn more about his life and time as pope.

3. If you've been away from the practice of the Catholic faith for a while, we have some ideas to help you come back.

4. Masters champion Jordan Spieth is a product of Jesuit schools. Learn more about who he was before the world knew him.

5. God loves you.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Five Things To Remember On April 15

1. Two pieces of legislation amount to a step in the right direction toward meaningful criminal justice reform, said the bishop who chairs the Domestic Justice and Human Development Committee of the U.S. bishops and the president-elect of Catholic Charities USA in two letters to the leadership of the Senate Judiciary Committee, April 14.

2. Violent conflicts in Syria, Iraq, the Holy Land, Libya, Nigeria and Kenya exemplify why Congress should support a bill that would advance international religious freedom, said the bishop who chairs the International Justice and Peace Committee of the U.S. Bishops.

3. Pope Francis said today there is still much to be done in order to give due recognition to women, both in society and in the Church.

4. April 22 is the 45th anniversary of Earth Day, a day set aside for action and reflection on stewardship of our planet. Learn what the Church teaches about care for creation.

5. God loves you.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Five Things To Remember On April 14

1. Catholic News Service reports on Pope Francis' message for the World Day of Prayer for Vocations and how exodus is at the heart of it.

2. Bishop Jaime Soto shared his excitement for two children's books which are the collaboration of the USCCB and Loyola Press.

Bishop Jaime Soto of the Diocese of Sacramento shares his excitement for the new children's books from the USCCB and Loyola Press. Learn more about the books, #GreenStreetPark and #DropbyDrop:
Posted by United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on Monday, April 13, 2015

3. Without Congressional action, RHNDA will take effect after the 30-legislative-day congressional review period expires. Learn more about RHNDA and follow social media conversation of #FreeSince1791 on a tagboard. Help others take action today.

4. In case you missed it, Bishop Cantú backed the Iran framework in letters to Secretary of State Kerry and Congress.

5. God loves you.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Five Things To Remember On April 13

1. The adoption of a framework for Iran’s nuclear program is a step “important in advancing a peaceful resolution of the serious questions that have been raised regarding Iran’s nuclear program,” said the bishop who chairs the Committee on International Justice and Peace Committee of the U.S. bishops in letters to Secretary of State John Kerry, April 8, and Congress, April 13.

2. Two new illustrated storybooks offer elementary school-aged children, their parents and teachers examples of how to put their faith in action and participate in solutions to important problems related to the life and dignity of others. The books, "Green Street Park" and "Drop by Drop," provide much-needed resources in Catholic social teaching for this age group and are accompanied by age-appropriate learning resources.

3. On Saturday, Pope Francis presented the Bull of Indiction for the Jubilee Year of Mercy. Learn more about the Jubilee Year, which begins Dec. 8 of this year.

4. The month of April is a time to promote awareness of child abuse prevention and to learn how the Catholic Church is working to protect children and young people.

5. God loves you.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Five Things To Remember On April 10

1. Pope Francis will convoke the Jubilee Year of Mercy tomorrow.

2. Recent religious freedom legislation around the country has left many people confused about what the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) does. Here are the facts and the image above to share.

3. One boy fighting cancer was asked by the Make A Wish Foundation to name one thing he'd want to do in life. His answer? "I really want to be a priest." See what happened next.

4. The Octave of Easter comprises the eight days that stretch from Easter Sunday to the Second Sunday of Easter. The entire season, in which we celebrate in joy and exultation the Resurrection of the Lord, lasts for 50 days.

5. God loves you.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Five Things To Remember On April 9

1. The number of priestly ordinations is rising in the U.S. and the reasons might surprise you.

2. Pope Francis said children are the world's greatest blessing, saying, "May we always care for our children, not counting the cost, so that they may never believe themselves to be mistakes, but always know their infinite worth.

3. Know someone who was at Mass during Easter after a while away? Share this with them and invite them back.

4. Join Catholic leaders and scholars next month at the Catholic University of America in Washington for a three-day symposium called, "Celebration of Nostra Aetate." Cardinal Timothy Dolan will be one of the keynote speakers. Learn more.

5. God loves you.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Five Things To Remember On April 7

1. On Holy Thursday, the USCCB filed an amicus curiae brief with the Supreme Court in support of the states’ rights to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. The Court will hear oral arguments in this case on April 28, 2015.

2. Pope Francis asked the world to not be silent as Christians are persecuted and killed across the world.

3. Lent has ended and that means it's time to turn in your CRS Rice Bowl! Check with the coordinator in your parish or visit the Rice Bowl website to find out how and when to send in your alms.

4. Learn what a home mission is in the Catholic Church.

5. God loves you.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Five Things To Remember on April 2

1. Today is Holy Thursday, the start of the Paschal Triduum. Here are 18 questions and answers about it.

2. Watch Pope Francis' In Coena Domini Mass today.

3. Staff members of the USCCB visited some of the sites that will be prominent during World Youth Day in Poland next year. See some pictures on World Youth Day USA's Twitter account. Pope Francis said World Youth Day will deliver a message of mercy.

4. Lisa Hendey discusses two new books from the USCCB and Loyola Press for children on her newest Periscope. You need the Periscope streaming app to see it. Find out more information about the books, Green Street Park and Drop by Drop.

5. God loves you.