Summary of US bishops’ 2017 fall assembly

The US Conference of Catholic Bishops met in Baltimore Nov. 13-14 for their annual fall assembly. The Conference website has links to News Releases covering all activities at the meeting including reports on the chairmen-elect of following committees:

Communications – Bishop Michael Burbidge (Arlington)
Cultural Diversity in the Church – Bishop Nelson Perez (Cleveland)
Doctrine – Bishop Kevin Rhoades (Fort Wayne-South Bend)
National Colections – Bishop Joseph Cistone (Saginaw)
Pro-Life Activities- Archbishop Joseph Naumann (Kansas City, KS)
Religious Liberty – Archbishop Joseph Kurtz (Louisville)

Secretary – Archbishop Allen Vigneron (Detroit)

For a summary of Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s Secretary of State’s address to the US bishops (America magazine, Nov. 13, 2017), click here.

For a summary of USCCB president, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo’s first address to the US bishops (America magazine, Nov. 13, 2017), click here.

For a complete list of USCCB and Catholic News Service releases, click here.

For a list of the USCCB Fall Assembly video’s on-demand, click here.

Spiritualizing psychological problems

Catholic News Agency (Oct. 10, 2017) contributor, Mary Rezac writes on “The dangers of spiritualizing your psychological problems.”

The article quotes Dr. Gregory Botarro, a Catholic clinical psychologist at CatholicPsych Institute –, who said he has “found the over-spiritualization of psychological issues to be a persistent problem, particularly among devout Catholics.”

He goes on to say that this over-spiritualization is “usually the direct consequence of  Cartesian Dualism.” It is Decartes, the philosopher, who said, “I think therefore I am,” thus separating the thinking self from the bodily self … Acting as if the body doesn’t matter when considering our human experience is just as distorted as acting like the spirit doesn’t matter,” he said.

Bottaro goes on to note, “We shouldn’t think any less of getting help for mental health than we do for physical health. There are fields of expertise for a reason, and just as we can’t fix every one of our own physical wounds, we can’t always fix every one of our own mental wounds. It is virtuous to recognize our need for help” … And “praying away” problems more than likely won’t work.

For the entire CNA article, click here.

Fitness an important part of seminary life at NAC

Serving God’s people takes a lot of energy, so “we need to have bodies that are prepared for it,” said Andrew Auer, a seminarian from the Archdiocese of St. Louis in his third year at North American College in Rome.

Another seminarian, Joseph Caraway from the Diocese of Lake Charles, agrees. “The Catholic Church is a real supporter of both body and soul … Sometimes we can get so caught up in focusing on the soul and our prayer, which is incredibly important, but we also need to take care of our physical bodies,” he went on to say.

Caraway knows of what he speaks. He did graduate studies in physiology before entering the seminary.

With his experience and background in graduate school, Caraway has found some very concrete ways to help his brother seminarians, developing “diet programs and exercise programs to help them become more physically fit and just learn how to exercise correctly.”

Fitness and sports is a good way to build camaraderie among the seminarians. In fact the upcoming Thanksgiving weekend will feature the Spaghetti Bowl, a long–standing tradition involving a flag football game between first–year students and the and the rest of the college, and serves to help integrate students into the daily life of the seminary.

For the entire Catholic News Service (Nov. 16, 2017) posting, click here.

Faith leaders navigate church security

In light of the killing of 26 worshippers in a Baptist church in South Texas on Nov. 5, some faith leaders in the Chicago area are sizing up their security measures, if, in fact they have any.

A front-page report in Chicago Tribune (Nov. 7, 2017) notes that St. Peter’s Church in the Loop already has a security desk. According to Franciscan Father Kurt Hartrich, pastor, parishioners must cross two thresholds and pass muster with security guards before they can enter the worship space at the church.

In the past year, the report notes, hundreds of congregations have joined a coalition called Secure Church Chicago, a regional working group of Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish clergy volunteers who want to take a proactive, professional, and pastoral approach to church safety.

For the entire report, click here.

US bishops to meet in their annual fall assembly, Nov. 13-14

The US Conference of Catholic Bishops will meet in their annual fall assembly on Nov. 13-14.

The assembly will be live streamed on the Internet both days. The live stream will be available at:

During the assembly, the bishops will elect a new secretary for the Conference and Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, archbishop of Galveston-Houston, will also give his first address to the body of bishops as President of the USCCB as he completes the first year of his three-year term.

The bishops will also vote for new chairmen-elect of the following five USCCB committees: Committee on Communications, Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church, Committee on National Collections, Committee on Pro-Life Activities, Committee on Doctrine. They will also vote for a new Chairman for the Committee for Religious Liberty.  Bishop nominees for the board of directors for Catholic Relief Services (CRS) will also elected.

For more information about Internet coverage of the meeting, click here.

For more general information and links to other USCCB News Releases concerning the meeting, click here.

Pope Francis to the faithful: Leave your smartphone at home when going to Mass

In his general audience on Wednesday, Pope Francis pointedly admonished the faithful – even priests and bishops – who take smartphone photos at Mass.

The Mass is not a show, but a beautiful, transformative encounter with the true loving presence of Christ, Pope Francis said during the audience

That is why people need to focus their hearts on God, not focus their smartphones for pictures during Mass, he said.

It makes me so sad when I celebrate (Mass) in the square or in the basilica and I see so many cellphones in the air. And not just by the lay faithful, some priests and bishops, too,” he said.

According to the Catholic News Agency (Nov. 8, 2017), the pope will focus on the Eucharist during the catechesis portions of the general audiences.

For the Catholic News Service (Nov. 8, 2017) report, click here.

For the CNA posting, click here.

Archbishop Chaput to priests: defend marriage as often as you can

In a presentation to the 3rd National Assembly of Filipino Priests – USA, Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput said priests must uphold the lifelong covenant of marriage as “a message of liberation, even when it’s difficult.” Jesus’ words about the indissolubility of marriage “can’t be softened, or reinterpreted, or contextualized.”

The presentation took place in Houston, TX on Nov. 8.

Archbishop Chaput went on to say, “For Christians, sexual intimacy outside a valid marriage can never be morally legitimate. And it’s the Church that determines what a valid sacramental marriage is.”

The archbishop’s topic was Pope Francis’ post-synodal apostolic exhortation “Amoris Laetitia.”

For the Catholic News Agency (Nov. 8, 2017) report, click here.

Cardinal DiNardo on resignation of US bishops’ doctrinal committee consultant 

In statement on the resignation of Capuchin Franciscan Father Thomas Weinandy as a consultant to US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Doctrine, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the conference said in part, “Throughout the history of the Church, ministers, theologians and the laity all have debated and have held personal opinions on a variety of theological and pastoral issues.”

The statement was made in light a letter written by Father Weinandy to Pope Francis in which he posits that “a chronic confusion seems to mark your pontificate.”

The letter was dated July 31 and released by Fr. Weinandy on Nov. 1. It has appeared on Catholic several websites.

Cardinal DiNardo’s statement goes on to note that, “these debates have made their way into the popular press. That is to be expected and is often good.”

But Cardinal DiNardo goes on to note, “Christian charity needs to be exercised by all involved. In saying this, we all must acknowledge that legitimate differences exist, and that it is the work of the Church, the entire body of Christ, to work towards an ever-growing understanding of God’s truth.”

For Cardinal DiNardo’s statement, click here.

For a statement from the USCCB’s chief communications officer, click here.

For the National Catholic Reporter (Nov. 1, 2017), summary with links to Fr. Weinandy’s letter to Pope Francis, click here.

For the Catholic News Service (Nov. 2, 2017) report, click here.

The 500th anniversary of the start of the Protestant Reformation 

October 31st was the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s posting of the 95 theses on the door of the Wittenberg Cathedral, thus beginning the Protestant Reformation.

To mark the occasion, John Allen, Jr. editor of Crux (Oct. 31, 2017) conducted an interview with Sr. Susan K. Wood, SCL, a theology professor at Marquette and a veteran leader in Catholic/Lutheran dialogue, and Kathryn Johnson, director of Ecumenical and Interreligious Relations for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).

According to Allen, both experts note this past week’s commemoration reflects a strong yearning for unity in the grassroots, and may represent a new “springtime” in ecumenism, meaning the quest for Christian unity.

For the entire Crux interview, click here.

For the Catholic News Agency (Oct. 31, 2017) report on the anniversary, click here.


In letter, Pope Francis clarifies liturgical translation norms

In NFPC This Week issue number 725, we wrote about Pope Francis’ motu proprio, Magnum Principium released on Sept. 9.

In the weeks that followed, the prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, Cardinal Robert Sarah, wrote a commentary seeming to indicate that the Vatican had the final word in liturgical translations. The commentary, which appeared in a French Catholic journal, L’ Homme Nouveau, focused on two key words of Canon 838, i.e.  – that the Holy See is to recognize (recongnitio) and confirm (confirmation) “translations that are “faithfully” prepared by bishops’ conferences and approved and published by them after the Holy See’s confirmatio.”

In the letter to Cardinal Sarah, released on Oct 22, Pope Francis said he wanted to “avoid any misunderstanding,” insisting the commentary could give an erroneous impression that the level of involvement of the congregation remained unchanged.”

In the letter to Cardinal Sarah, Pope Francis emphasizes the “clear difference” that the new Motu Proprio establishes between recognitio (verification) and confirmatio (confirmation).

For the Catholic News Service (Oct. 23, 2017) report, click here.

For the Catholic News Agency (Oct. 23, 2017) report, click here.

For the Zenit News Agency (Oct. 22, 1027) report [contains pope’s letter to Cardinal Sarah], click here.

For the National Catholic Register (Oct. 13, 2107) report [contains Cardinal Sarah’s  “Commentary”], click here.