Vatican congregation releases document about ways to ensure validity of Eucharist  

The Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments issued a circular letter on July 8 sent to all diocesan bishops titled, “On the bread and wine for the Eucharist.” The letter was sent at the request of Pope Francis. It was signed by Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect and Archbishop Arthur Roche, secretary, on June 15, the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ

The letter contains recommendations to ensure the validity and worthiness of the bread and wine used for the celebration of the Eucharist.

According to the Catholic News Service (July 10, 2017), because bread and wine for the Eucharist are no longer supplied just by religious communities, but “are also sold in supermarkets and other stores and even over the internet,” bishops should set up guidelines, an oversight body and/or even a form of certification to help “remove any doubt about the validity of the matter for the Eucharist.”

The letter goes on to note that every bishop “is bound to remind priests, especially parish priests and rectors of churches, of their responsibility to verify those who provide the bread and wine for the celebration and the worthiness of the material.”

Bishops must also provide information to the producers of the bread and wine for the Eucharist and to remind them of the absolute respect that is due to the norms,” the letter stated. Producers “must be aware that their work is directed toward the eucharistic sacrifice and that this demands their honesty, responsibility and competence,” it added.

For the CNS report, click here.

For the Vatican Radio report and link to the circular letter, click here.

A report on the 12th National Black Catholic Congress

The key message for participants at the 12th National Black Catholic Congress held in Orlando, Fla. from July 6-9 was twofold – that Black Catholics must work harder to bridge the racial divide in communities, the nation and within the church, while the Catholic Church needs to be a stronger force in confronting the systemic racism at the root of mass incarceration and economic inequality. A summary of the meeting was posted on the National Catholic Reporter (July 10, website.

The event held every five years, attracted over 2,200 participants from across the US to learn from each other and draw inspiration from speakers such as Cardinal Peter Turkson, the head of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, attorney Bryan Stevenson, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama, and Bishop Edward Braxton of Belleville, Illinois, author of the pastoral letter and study guide “The Racial Divide in the United States: A Reflection for the World Day of Peace 2015.”

In his address to the delegates, Bishop Braxton reminded them that they could all do something to own their own history and to be engaged in the community. He talked about the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC and how his visit to the edifice impressed him. And although he recognized the museum as an outstanding achievement, he lamented the lack of references there to leading African-American Catholics such as Father Augustus Tolton, the Sisters of the Holy Family, Sister Henriette Delille, Father Pierre Toussaint, Mother Mary Lange, or Sister Thea Bowman.

Bishop Braxton went on to encourage attendees to exercise their rights to vote, participate in public life, run for public life, use resources that develop discussion about the racial divide, and inspire young people to become involved.

“I give you these imperatives: Listen, learn, think, act and pray,” he said. “African-American Catholics need to get into real conversations with others in the community about this history so we can grow by means of knowledge.”

The theme for the 12th NBCC was “The Spirit of the Lord is Upon Me: act justly, love goodness, and walk humbly with your God.” It was held amidst a backdrop of an increase in racial violence, a polarizing presidential election and a nation ripped open by a series of killings of unarmed blacks by police.

For the entire NCR summary, click here.

For a summary of Bishop Braxton’s remarks from the Catholic News Service (July 12, 2017), click here.

July a time for changing of the guard at Catholic parishes

July is most notably known for 4th of July celebrations and vacation trips. But for Catholic parishes it’s a time when transfers and reassignments of pastors and parochial vicars, commonly know as associate pastors, take place.

In a National Catholic Register posting on July 10, 2017, writer Susanna Spencer focuses the adjustments that are often needed for the departing and newly arriving priest and the parishioners too.

She notes, “The parochial vicar at our parish was transferred to another parish after only one year with us. We had already grown to appreciate the depth of his homilies, which called us on to live our Christian lives more intensely. We had become friends with him through several meals, and now we will no longer receive Jesus from his hands weekly. In some ways it is an occasion of sorrow, but in other ways it is a realization that experiencing Christ in the sacraments is so much more than which priest is ministering to us.”

In the end, though, Spencer writes, “…pray for your priests, the ones who used to minister to you and the ones who are your pastors now. They are Christ to us, and we are so blessed by their ministry.”

For the entire NC Register posting, click here.

Conversation continues on married priests

Since Pope Francis was elected to papacy in 2013, he has signaled a willingness a number of times to discuss the idea of married priests. In March he told a German newspaper, “We need to consider if  ‘viri probati’ is a possibility.”

We came across two articles from the National Catholic Reporter that extends the conversation. Jesuit Father Thomas Reese states in his March 16, 2017 Faith and Justice column,  “It is time for the Catholic bishops to stop hoping for an increase in vocations to the celibate priesthood and to acknowledge that the church needs married priests to serve the people of God.”

Bill Tammeus, a Presbyterian elder who writes “A small c catholic” column (July 10, 2017) for NCR write about the pluses and minuses of married priests.

We post three essays for your reflection.

Pope Francis on married priests (NCR, March 10, 2017), click here.

Fr. Thomas Reese, SJ (NCR, March 16, 2017), click here.

Bill Tammeus (NCR, July 10, 2017), click here

Pope talks up unions to Italian labor officials

In a speech June 28 to a delegation from the Italian Confederation of Union Workers, Pope Francis said, “There is no good society without a good union, and there is no good union that isn’t reborn every day in the peripheries, that doesn’t transform the rejected stones of the economy into corner stones.”

But he also warned that unions risk losing their “prophetic nature” when they mimic the very institutions they are called to challenge. “Unions over time have ended up resembling politicians too much, or rather political parties, their language, their style.”

Labor unions must guard and protect workers, but also defend the rights of those “outside the walls,” particularly those who are retired and the excluded who are “also excluded from rights and democracy,” he went on to say.

Turning to one of his frequently voiced concerns; the pope told the union leaders that a society that leaves young men and women without jobs is “foolish and shortsighted.”

For National Catholic Reporter Michael Sean Williams, Distinctly Catholic (July 6, 2017) column report, click here.

For the America magazine (June 28, 2017) report, click here.

Summary of the Convocation of Catholic Leaders

For a very fine summary of the July 1-4 Convocation of Catholic Leaders: The Joy of the Gospel in America, held in Orlando, Florida, click here.

Interview with Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark

Crux editor John Allen, Jr. and Vatican correspondent, Ines San Martin interviews Cardinal Joseph Tobin, Archbishop of Newark.

For the Crux (July 6, 2017) interview, click here.

Three US archbishops receive pallium

Pope Francis gave palliums to three US archbishops with ties to the archdiocese of Indianapolis on Thursday, June 29 honoring the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, the patron saints of the Vatican and the city of Rome.

The US prelates receiving the palliums were Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, CSsR, archbishop of Newark, Most Rev. Paul D. Etienne, archbishop of Anchorage, and Most Rev. Charles C. Thompson, newly appointed archbishop of Indianapolis.

Cardinal Tobin was previously archbishop of Indianapolis and Archbishop Etienne was a priest of the archdiocese before being named bishop of Cheyenne and then appointed archbishop of Anchorage in Oct. 2016. Pope Francis recently named then Evansville Bishop Charles Thompson to replace Cardinal Tobin as archbishop of Indianapolis.

The actual imposition of the palliums will take place in the archbishops’ archdioceses.

On Wednesday, June 28 Pope Francis created new cardinals from El Salvador, Mali, Laos, Sweden and Spain.

Thirty-six archbishops appointed over the course of the past year were also invited to come to Rome to concelebrate the feast day Mass with Pope Francis. They came from 26 countries.

For the Catholic News Service (June 29, 2017) report, click here.

US bishops gather for Mass of Prayer & Penance for Healing for Survivors of Sexual Abuse

The US bishops began their Spring Assembly on June 14 with a Mass of Prayer and Penance for survivors of sexual abuse within the Church. The Mass took place at St. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis.

Fr. Larry Dowling, a priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago and pastor of St. Agatha Parish forwarded the links below to us. Fr. Larry is one of the founders and contributors to Healing Voices, a digital resource for survivors of sexual abuse and those who help them. Healing Voices can be accessed at: https://thehealingvoicesnewsletter.wordpress.com/

Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Atlanta Homily (only on Facebook for now, I’ll have a new link when they post it) > https://www.facebook.com/usccb/videos/10154679011682285/

Whole Mass here > http://www.usccb.org/about/leadership/usccb-general-assembly/usccb-general-assembly-live-stream.cfm

In America Magazine> https://www.americamagazine.org/faith/2017/06/15/bishops-can-never-say-we-are-sorry-enough-tragedy-abuse-archbishop-gregory-says?utm_content=buffere4a3c&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

In National Catholic Reporter > https://www.ncronline.org/news/accountability/gregory-bishops-can-never-say-we-are-sorry-enough-tragedy-abuse

Bishop Robert Barron gives a retreat to Irish priests

The title for Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop Robert Barron’s retreat to the priests of the Archdiocese of Dublin was “Pope Francis Speaks to Priests.”  In a blog posted on the National Catholic Register (June 21, 2017) website, Bishop Barron draws motifs from numerous talks, sermons, and lectures to priests and seminarians over the past four years.

In his blog posting, Bishop Barron states the most important feature of Christianity and therefore for priests, is a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus.  He goes on to list six topics that center on that relationship.

They are:

  1. Encountering Christ
  2. Living Simply
  3. Preaching
  4. Be “missionary disciples”
  5. Mercy
  6. An emphasis on Laudato Si’ 

For the Bishop Barron’s blog posting, click here.