Bishop McElroy calls on leaders to “see, judge, and act” – “disrupt and rebuild”

Bp_McElroyIn an impassioned presentation to the US Regional World Meeting of Popular Movements held in Modesto, Calif. from Feb. 17-19, San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy reminded the social justice activists, some of who were not Catholic, of Pope St. John XXIII words from his 1961 encyclical Mater et Magistra to “see, judge, and act” when reading the “signs of he times.”

Specifically referring to threats of the current administration in Washington “to deport the undocumented, to rip mothers and fathers from their families” to take away medical care, food stamps and nutrition assistance from the mouths of children, Bishop McElroy said now we must become “disruptors.” He went on to say, “We must disrupt those who portray refugees as enemies rather than our brothers and sisters in terrible need. We must disrupt those who train us to see Muslim men, women and children as forces of fear rather than as children of God.”

And Bishop McElroy said we also need to be rebuilders, “We cannot merely be disruptors, we have to be rebuilders. We have to rebuild this nation so that we place at its heart the service to the dignity of the human person and assert what that flag behinds us asserts is our heritage: Every man, woman and child is equal in this nation and called to be equal. We must rebuild a nation in solidarity, what Catholic teaching calls the sense that all of us are the children of the one God, there are no children of a lesser god in our midst.”

The meeting was organized by PICO National Network, the U.S. bishops’ Catholic Campaign for Human Development and the Vatican’s office for Promoting Integral Human Development. 700 activists attended the event.

Bishop McElroy will give an address at the NFPC annual Convocation on Thursday, April 27 on the Pastoral Theology of Pope Francis.

For Bishop McElroy’s entire presentation, click here.

For a Commonweal commentary by John Gehring, click here.

For the Catholic News Agency (Feb. 22, 2017) report, click here.

Pope Francis comes down hard on Catholics who live a double life

In his homily at the Thursday morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis denounced Catholics who go to mass and participate in Church associations, yet don’t pay fair wages to employees or are involved in money laundering. He labeled it living a “double life.”

“It is a double life, a double life. A totally double life: ‘I am very Catholic, I always go to Mass, I belong to this association and that one; but my life is not Christian, I don’t pay my workers a just wage, I exploit people, I am dirty in my business, I launder money…’ A double life. And so many Christians are like this, and these people scandalize others,” the Pope said.

He also talked about scandal and tied it to leading a double life. According to the pope, Jesus says in the Gospel that those who are the cause of scandal- “without using the word ‘scandal,’ but it’s understood”- will knock on the doors of heaven and introduce themselves to God, saying, “Don’t you remember me? I went to Church, I was close to you … Don’t you remember all the offerings I gave?”

To these, Francis argued, on judgment day God will say: “Yes, I remember those: All dirty. All stolen from the poor. I don’t know you.”

This, the pontiff insisted, will be the response Jesus will give to Catholics who lead a double life.

For the Zenit News Agency (Feb. 23, 2017) report, click here.

For the Crux (Feb. 23, 2017), report click here.

San Jose seminarians to transfer to Chicago’s Mundelein Seminary 

In a letter to priests of the Diocese of San Jose dated Feb. 10, Bishop Patrick McGrath wrote he had “decided to transfer current seminarians and send our future seminarians to the University of Saint Mary of the Lake Mundelein Seminary of the Archdiocese of Chicago.” San Jose has 11 seminarians currently enrolled at St. Patrick’s

The announcement was summarized on the National Catholic Reporter (Feb. 14, 2017) web site.

The report notes that the change will take place at the end of the current academic year marked by graduation on May 17.  San Jose seminarians had been enrolled at St. Patricks’ Seminary & University in Menlo Park, Calif. for many years. According to the St. Patrick’s web site eight California dioceses plus the San Francisco archdiocese sponsor students at St. Patrick’s, as do the dioceses of Honolulu and Reno.

The departure likely stems from the fact that in October the Priests of the Society of St. Sulpice (Sulpicians) decided to withdraw its members from staffing and administrative leadership of the school. The Sulpicians had taught at the seminary for 118 years.

For the entire NCR summary, click here.

Head of Vatican Council for Legislative Texts explains Amoris laetitia

In a booklet titled “The Eighth Chapter of the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia,” written by Cardinal Francesco Palmiero, president of the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts, he indicates that the provisions of “Amoris Laetitia” allow a couple in irregular marriage situations access to the sacraments only if they recognize their situation is sinful and desire to change it.

The short booklet, published in Italian by the Vatican publishing house and presented to journalists Feb. 14, includes material compiled from articles and speeches the cardinal has given about the pope’s document on marriage and family life.

In referring to the above couple, the booklet notes such a couple also believes changing the situation immediately by splitting up would cause more harm and forgoing sexual relations would threaten their current relationship does not rule out the possibility of receiving sacramental absolution and Communion,

The council is charged with interpreting canon law.

In the absence of Cardinal Palmiero at the booklet’s, presentation Salesian Father Giuseppe Costa, director of the Vatican publishing house, discussed the publication.

He told reporters the cardinal’s book is not “the Vatican response” to the challenges posed by US Cardinal Raymond L. Burke and three retired cardinals to the supposed lack of clarity and potential misunderstanding of “Amoris Laetitia.” Rather, he said, it is an “authoritative” reading of the papal document and a contribution to the ongoing discussion.

For the Catholic News Service report (Feb. 14, 2017), click here.


Pope Francis to male religious leaders: Corruption in the Vatican exists

In remarks to a 140 major superiors of men on November 26, Pope Francis said, “There is corruption in the Vatican.” The pope made the admission after being asked by one of the religious leaders how he maintains serenity in his work.

“I do not take tranquilizers!” Francis joked, before adding: “The Italians offer good advice: to live in peace you need a healthy dose of not caring.”

The report of the pope’s remarks posted on the National Catholic Reporter website (Feb. 9, 2017) were made at the 88th general assembly of the Union of Superiors General,

Besides mentioning corruption in the Vatican, Francis also speaks at length about how he sees the work of the church, how religious leaders can prevent sexual abuse of minors, and what community life should look like.

He said that discernment was a critical part of priestly formation.

In formation we are used to formulas, black and white, but not to the gray of daily life,” says the pontiff. “And what counts is life, not the formulas.”

“We must grow in discernment,” he continues. “The logic of black and white can lead to caustic abstraction. Instead, discernment means going beyond the gray of life according to the will of God.”

“And you look for the will of God following the true doctrine of the Gospel and not in the fixations of an abstract doctrine,” says Francis.

For the entire NCR report, click here.

For the Crux (Feb. 9, 2017) on the assembly, click here.

Gallup diocese settles Chapter 11 bankruptcy case

The Diocese of Gallup, NM has settled its Chapter 11 bankruptcy case with the provision that $17.6 million was paid to compensate clergy sex abuse claimants. According to court documents, 57 abuse claims were filed in the case; however, the specific number of claims that were approved or rejected was not publicly disclosed.

A summary of the action posted in the National Catholic Reporter (Feb. 7, 2017), notes that US Bankruptcy Judge David T. Thuma issued the final decree and order Jan. 31, but he made the effective date Dec. 13, the date attorneys for the diocese filed a motion requesting the final decree.

For the entire NCR report, click here.

For a posting on the Gallup diocesan web site, click here.

In observance of Black History Month

Belleville, Ill. Bishop Edward Braxton visited the Smithsonian Museum of African America History and Culture after he attended the annual US bishops Fall Plenary meeting last November. In a National Catholic Reporter (Feb. 6, 2017) Bishop Braxton shares his thoughts and insights about the museum, which opened in September. The title of the essay is, “We, too, sing America: The Catholic Church and the Museum of African American History and Culture.”

For the entire essay, click here.

Four leaders of African heritage on the road to sainthood

The US Conference of Bishops web site highlights four leaders of African descent whose causes for sainthood are at some level of investigation at the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

Venerable Pierre Toussaint (1776-1853) – born a slave in Haiti, he was brought to New York and apprenticed under a popular hair stylist in the city. He became very popular among high society women. He and his wife founded one of the first orphanages and raised money for the city’s first cathedral.  Although he became free and a successful entrepreneur, he supported the church and the poor.

Mother Mary Elizabeth Lange (1784-1882) – Foundress and Superior General of the first congregation of African American women religious in the history of the Catholic Church, the Oblate Sisters of Providence. The congregation would educate and evangelize African Americans. They educated youth and provided a home for orphans. Slaves who had been freed were educated and at times admitted into the congregation.

Venerable Henriette Delille (1813-1862) – Born in New Orleans, Delille was determined to help those in need for the love of Jesus and for the sake of the Gospel. Though plagued with poor health, lack of finances, resistance of the ruling class to the idea of forming a black religious congregation and lack of support from the church itself, in 1842 she founded the Congregation of the Holy Family.

Father Augustus Tolton (1854-1897) – He was the first Roman Catholic priest in the United States publicly known to be black when he was ordained in 1886. A former slave who was baptized and reared Catholic, Tolton studied formally in Rome. Fr. Tolton led the development and construction of St. Monica’s Catholic Church as a black ‘National Parish Church”, completed in 1893.

For more on Black Catholic saints to-be, click here.

Priests’ group addresses parish closures, priest shortage

The Association of US Catholic Priests is developing a proposal urging the US bishops to “formulate a plan now to meet this emerging crisis” of parish closings and consolidations.

According to a summary in the National Catholic Reporter (Jan. 31, 2017), the group is in the final stages of working on draft of the plan titled “Proposal for Pastoral Care In & Thru Priestless Parishes.”

Central to the plan is a “new and more specific exploration” of lay ecclesial ministers to oversee non-sacramental aspects of parish life and administration, according to a proposed plan cover letter.

In developing the plan, the cover letter stated, “We have relied on the USCCB’s 2005 document Co-Workers in the Vineyard of the Lord, as well as the 2015 Tenth Anniversary Reflection on that document. Co-Workers welcomed Lay Ecclesial Ministry and addressed the wide field of ministries that involve laity.”

The proposed text itself warns, “If USA Church leadership postpones dealing with this issue, the window of opportunity will slowly close” and result in “greater collapse of parishes,” “a loss of morale and health among priests,” and “further decline of the morale and trust of people who depend upon us to meet their spiritual needs.”

As our Catholic presence diminishes, so will our presence in society in all of its aspects,” the plan draft states.

For the entire NCR summary, click here.

Priests need to learn more about art and beauty: Vatican council

The Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Culture has launched a project to study the training of priests and other cultural workers in the Church in the aesthetics and history of art, especially as it contributes in the creation of religious art fitting for sacred spaces.

A report on the effort posted on the Crux website (Jan. 30, 2017), states, “the project will examine the training leaders of a diocese, such as clergy, religion teachers, catechists and more, receive on the relationship between faith and art.”

It will also look at what specific training exists for artists in the Church, such as architects, painters, sculptors, and musicians, so that they are equipped to produce works “that fit in places of worship and are in service to the liturgy,”

Quoting Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, head of the Pontifical Council for Culture, the report notes, “This is important because it is not only possible to experience God through art, but beautiful art can be a path that leads us to contemplation, which is at the heart of the faith.”

For the entire Crux report, click here.