Francis Cardinal George: … a mistake is not a cover up.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

This January, as was announced a month ago in a press conference by a plaintiff’s lawyer, documents relating to the sexual misconduct of 30 priests of the archdiocese will be released as part of settlement agreements over the past years. All these incidents were reported over the years to the civil authorities and claims have been mediated civilly. Almost all of the incidents happened decades ago, perpetrated by priests whom neither I nor many younger clergy have ever met or talked to, because the priests were either dead or out of ministry before I came to Chicago as archbishop.

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Editor’s note: Shortly after things came to light, we had a chance to ask the Cardinal what happened in the Daniel McCormack affair.  It seems that Cardinal George was away at the Vatican when local  supervision of McCormack proved insufficient. Obviously, mistakes were made.

Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons

Given at Rome, 1 October 1986.

…It is within this context, then, that it can be clearly seen that the phenomenon of homosexuality, complex as it is, and with its many consequences for society and ecclesial life, is a proper focus for the Church’s pastoral care. It thus requires of her ministers attentive study, active concern and honest, theologically well-balanced counsel.

3. Explicit treatment of the problem was given in this Congregation’s “Declaration on Certain Questions Concerning Sexual Ethics” of December 29, 1975. That document stressed the duty of trying to understand the homosexual condition and noted that culpability for homosexual acts should only be judged with prudence. At the same time the Congregation took note of the distinction commonly drawn between the homosexual condition or tendency and individual homosexual actions. These were described as deprived of their essential and indispensable finality, as being “intrinsically disordered”, and able in no case to be approved of (cf. n. 8, $4).

In the discussion which followed the publication of the Declaration, however, an overly benign interpretation was given to the homosexual condition itself, some going so far as to call it neutral, or even good. Although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil; and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder.

Therefore special concern and pastoral attention should be directed toward those who have this condition, lest they be led to believe that the living out of this orientation in homosexual activity is a morally acceptable option. It is not.

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Bishop Tobin’s letter to Catholics on the Approval of “Same-Sex Marriage” in Rhode Island

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My dear Brothers and Sisters,

Since the legislative approval of “same-sex marriage” in Rhode Island, a number of people have requested that I offer some guidance on this development. It is for that purpose that I write at this time. In particular I wish to invite members of the Catholic Church in Rhode Island to a moment of prayer and reflection as we respond to this new challenge of the post-Christian era into which, clearly, we have now entered.

First, like many others, I am profoundly disappointed that Rhode Island has approved legislation that seeks to legitimize “same-sex marriage.” The Catholic Church has fought very hard to oppose this immoral and unnecessary proposition, and we are most grateful to all those who have courageously joined us in this effort. When all is said and done, however, we know that God will be the final judge of our actions.

As I have emphasized consistently in the past, the Catholic Church has respect, love and pastoral concern for our brothers and sisters who have same-sex attraction. I sincerely pray for God’s blessings upon them, that they will enjoy much health, happiness and peace. We also offer our prayerful support to families, especially parents, who often struggle with this issue when it occurs in their own homes.

Our respect and pastoral care, however, does not mean that we are free to endorse or ignore immoral or destructive behavior, whenever or however it occurs. Indeed, as St. Paul urges us, we are required to “speak the truth in love.” (Eph 4:15)

At this moment of cultural change, it is important to affirm the teaching of the Church, based on God’s word, that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered,” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #2357) and always sinful. And because “same-sex marriages” are clearly contrary to God’s plan for the human family, and therefore objectively sinful, Catholics should examine their consciences very carefully before deciding whether or not to endorse same-sex relationships or attend same-sex ceremonies, realizing that to do so might harm their relationship with God and cause significant scandal to others.

Despite this serious regression in the public morality of our state we need to recognize that there are other major issues that demand our attention. We must continue to engage our culture, remembering that Jesus called us to be “the salt of the earth and the light of the world.” (Mt 5:13-14) Be assured, therefore, that the Catholic Church in the Diocese of Providence will continue its mission of preaching the Gospel, advocating for what is right and just, and serving the needs of our community to the very best of our ability.

Without a doubt this is a time of challenge, even disappointment for many of us, but it is also an opportunity to be steadfast and courageous, and to renew our commitment to Christ and His Church. As our Lord Jesus Christ told us, “In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world.” (Jn 16:33)

Dear brothers and sisters, through the intercession of our Blessed Mother, the Virgin Mary, may God be with you as you continue your journey of faith, and may He bless you and your families with His finest gifts, now and always.

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Catholic bishops pastoral letter on homosexuality, abortion

We acknowledge the difficulties and challenges of living a moral life that is based on the truth about humanity and, with St. Paul, in humility, we confess: “We are aware that the Law is spiritual; but I am a creature of flesh and blood, sold as a slave to sin.  I do not understand my own behavior; I do not act as I mean to, but I do things that I hate” (Romans 7:14-15).

Yet even with such admission of human weakness and the complexity of the moral decisions facing humankind, the last thing one wants to do is to remove the parameters that enable us to determine objectively between right and wrong, righteous and sinful.

It is in this context that we remind Catholics and all people of good will that a lot can be done in the present climate: by defending the dignity and role of marriage, by practical acts of support to those struggling to accept an unborn child, by insistence upon the right to conscientious objection without discrimination for health-care workers, and by commitment to a legal and moral framework which will respect life.

Society needs to rediscover a concern for the common good, respect for life and the dignity of the human for, at present, we seem to be incapable of making ourselves into the kind of people God wants us to be.

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San Jose bishop comes out for gun control, advocates changing the Bill of Rights.

When the framers of the Constitution included the “right to bear arms” among the freedoms enjoyed by the citizens of the United States, this nation was rural.  It was truly a different time.  Twenty-First Century American society does not resemble 1789. Perhaps it is time to consider curtailing this right.  Individual freedom should be subject to the common good.  If this were not the case, there would be no speed limits on our roads and highways, no crosswalks.

It is time to admit that the free availability of guns and ammunition poses a threat to the welfare of our people and that a “culture of violence” has eclipsed “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” as enduring values of this nation.

I join my fellow bishops in calling on film producers and video game creators to recognize the extent of violence in movies, television programs and video games, which have desensitized all of us.   We must also address the pervasive role of addiction and mental illness in crime.

It is time to change, to increase regulation, even to ban the possession of certain weapons.  I echo the words of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Peace and Justice, that it is necessary “to impose a strict control on the sale of handguns and small arms.  Limiting the purchase of such arms would certainly not infringe on the rights of anyone” (The International Arms Trade, 2006).

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Editor’s note: To prove his point, the good bishop need only enumerate all the wonderful improvements made to the Catholic Church since the liberal innovations of Vatican II were implemented. And for the record … limiting the purchase of such arms would most certainly infringe on MY rights, under the Constitution of the United States of America. (Doug Lawrence, January 2, 2013)

Cardinal George: “Civil laws that establish ‘same-sex marriage’ create a legal fiction.”

Chicago’s Cardinal Francis George and his six auxiliary bishops officially entered Illinois’ gay marriage fray Tuesday, issuing a letter that urges parishioners to contact state legislators and voice opposition to a legalization bill that could face a vote this week.

Link to story

Full text of letter

New Obama policy galvanizing national opposition to his contraceptive mandate.

by Doug Lawrence

The new Obamacare contraceptive mandate is serving to effectively unify various factions within the American Catholic Church in a way we haven’t seen in quite a while. The bishops are stepping up and the laity is backing them, virtually one hundred percent.

We have Barack Obama, the Abortion President, and his chief hatchet woman, Kathleen Sebelius, to thank for this very promising turn of events!

God certainly does work in mysterious ways. I doubt if anyone in the Obama administration could have imagined this type of response … probably because they are a bunch of shameless, godless, Marxist ideologues. But I digress…

Here’s the text of one pastoral letter, versions of which were read at Catholic churches across the nation, this past Sunday:

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

I write to you concerning an alarming and serious matter that negatively impacts the Church in the United States directly, and that strikes at the fundamental right to religious liberty for all citizens of any faith. The federal government, which claims to be “of, by, and for the people,” has just been dealt a heavy blow to almost a quarter of those people — the Catholic population — and to the millions more who are served by the Catholic faithful.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced last week that almost all employers, including Catholic employers, will be forced to offer their employees’ health coverage that includes sterilization, abortion-inducing drugs, and contraception. Almost all health insurers will be forced to include those “services” in the health policies they write. And almost all individuals will be forced to buy that coverage as a part of their policies.

In so ruling, the Obama Administration has cast aside the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, denying to Catholics our Nation’s first and most fundamental freedom, that of religious liberty. And as a result, unless the rule is overturned, we Catholics will be compelled to either violate our consciences, or to drop health coverage for our employees (and suffer the penalties for doing so). The Obama Administration’s sole concession was to give our institutions one year to comply.

We cannot—we will not—comply with this unjust law. People of faith cannot be made second class citizens. We are already joined by our brothers and sisters of all faiths and many others of good will in this important effort to regain our religious freedom. Our parents and grandparents did not come to these shores to help build America’s cities and towns, its infrastructure and institutions, its enterprise and culture, only to have their posterity stripped of their God given rights. In generations past, the Church has always been able to count on the faithful to stand up and protect her sacred rights and duties. I hope and trust she can count on this generation of Catholics to do the same. Our children and grandchildren deserve nothing less.

And therefore, I would ask of you two things. First, as a community of faith we must commit ourselves to prayer and fasting that wisdom and justice may prevail, and religious liberty may be restored. Without God, we can do nothing; with God, nothing is impossible. Second, I would also recommend visiting www.usccb.org/conscience, to learn more about this severe assault on religious liberty, and how to contact Congress in support of legislation that would reverse the Obama Administration’s decision.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

+Alexander K. Sample

Most Reverend Alexander K. Sample

Bishop of Marquette

If a similar letter hasn’t yet been read at your parish, there’s no need to wait. The time to get behind our Catholic bishops is now. You know the issue. You know the right thing to do. We can’t let these corrupt, tin horn politicians trample on our constitutional rights!

Amendment 1 – Freedom of Religion, Press, Expression

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

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Official website

Madison Bishop’s Guidance On Platteville Parish Problems Is Worth Reading.

St. Mary’s in Platteville, Wisconsin

Bishop Morlino of the Diocese of Madison, Wisconsin recently issued a pastoral letter in response to the protests of certain Platteville parishioners who were upset over the introduction of more “Traditional” Catholic practices, by several newly assigned  parish priests.

The Bishop’s response to some of the allegations follows, and it’s definitely worth reading, since the Bishop is completely correct in all that he states.

ADDENDUM
Since it is obvious that much thought and care went into the formulation of the reasons for the petition of October 8, I want to provide a response to each point for the ongoing reflection of the Parish.

A. Impact on Faith of Parishioners

1. Allegation: Introduction of faith doctrine that is pre-Vatican II in format and content

– Response: First of all, it is necessary for us to appreciate the eloquent teaching of His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI regarding the false dichotomy between the pre-Vatican II and post-Vatican II Church. While the Council introduced much renewal, this dichotomy is not healthy in the Church. It is what the Holy Father described as the “hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture.” We must rather adopt the “hermeneutic of reform,” which recognizes continuity in the Church’s life from before the Council to the present day. The hermeneutic of reform rejoices in the renewed presentation of the Church’s self-understanding without attempting to divorce itself from our rich Catholic heritage. The Holy Father taught this in his Christmas Greeting to the Roman Curia (December 22, 2005); I earnestly recommend that all the faithful prayerfully study this speech.

a. Allegation: Reversion to obedience rather than acting as Body of Christ

– Response: It would not be correct to see obedience to Church authorities and the common priesthood of the faithful as in any way opposed to each other. The Council itself highlighted both of these as important components to the life of the Church (Lumen gentium, no. 37). Indeed, the example of Christ our Savior is the very epitome of these two elements, since he offered his priestly sacrifice to the Father by being obedient to the point of death on the Cross.

b. Allegation: Treating not as true believers but as lost souls

– Response: It is not proven that any of the priests have called the parishioners “lost souls” in the paternalistic way implied in the petition. I would encourage parishioners not to infer that the priests currently assigned to St. Mary and St. Augustine Parishes are criticizing their predecessors simply on the basis of their own pastoral decisions. Every Pastor must prayerfully discern how to proceed in his ministry, and this not uncommonly takes a different course and expression than that of his predecessors. Likewise, I would urge parishioners not to infer that the priests are making personal judgments when they preach doctrines and disciplines of the Church which may have been less emphasized in the past or when they encourage or offer pious practices which may be a change in experience.

2. Allegation: Introduction of faith practices that are pre-Vatican II in format and content

– Response: The petition did not include any evidence of when the indicated practices were mandated by the priests. It is my understanding that the priests have made a kneeler available for those who wish to receive Holy Communion kneeling, without requiring it. The options of receiving Holy Communion on the tongue or in the hand are both acceptable; and I know that the priests respect this. In general, it is important for priests to verify that a person is properly disposed to receive Holy Communion (c. 843, §1), and this may include an assessment of whether a person’s hands are too dirty to handle the sacred species. In one incident of this in Platteville, after the priest received more complete background information, the offended party immediately received the priest’s apology, and the apology was accepted. As far as I am aware, this was an isolated incident and should not be characterized as a general trend.

3. Allegation: Homilies transmit teachings inconsistent with the Vatican II Council

– Response: Regarding this concern, it is probable that the remarks at no. 1 above are applicable. I note also that Fr. Pascual publicly invited any concerned parishioners to review his homilies, which he has recorded, so that they could tell him where they think he diverges from the teaching of Vatican Council II. To date, no one has stepped forward, nor was any evidence of this included in the petition. If anyone has very clear examples, I would encourage you to bring your concerns, along with the helpful citations from the documents of the Second Vatican Council to Fr. Pascual.

4. Allegation: Limiting altar service only to males so that young females aren’t deemed worthy in the eyes of Christ

– Response: It is permissible in the Diocese of Madison for Pastors to reserve altar service at the Holy Mass to males. This is particularly beneficial for the promotion of priestly vocations, which is a particular charism of the Society of Jesus Christ the Priest. Once again, it is unfair and unreasonable to infer that the priests, by employing only males in this service, deem women to be unworthy in any way. Also, while it is a particular charism of the Society of Jesus Christ the Priest to foster vocations to the priesthood, that does not mean, nor will you find, that they ignore the vocations of young women to the consecrated life, nor of young men and women to holy marriages.

5. Allegation: Reducing visits to homebound parishioners compared to Extraordinary Ministers

– Response: Extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion have no “right” to administer Holy Communion at all—whether within the Holy Mass or outside of it. The administration of Holy Communion is proper to the clergy; and extraordinary ministers may only be used when there is a true necessity (Instruction Ecclesiæ de mysterio, art. 8, §1). Therefore, the priests are obliged to administer Holy Communion to the homebound if they are able; they may only call on an extraordinary minister if they judge there to be a true necessity. To my knowledge, now that the priests are settled in Platteville, they are known to be consistent and diligent in this aspect of their priestly ministry.

6. Allegation: Lack of support for families suffering loss of a loved one with inappropriate comments at a funeral

– Response: I have known the priests to be quite supportive and attentive to grieving families. As for the comments about hell and purgatory, it is natural for the Last Things to be discussed at the time of a funeral. While it would be gravely wrong for a priest to declare that the deceased is in or deserves hell, there is no indication that this has ever been done by the priests of the Society. At the time of a loved one’s death, it is very important for priests and deacons to remind the faithful to pray for the departed and to have Masses offered for them in order to help make satisfaction for the temporal punishment due them for their sins (purgatory). If a soul is in heaven it can do no harm. If the soul is in purgatory, it can do great good.

7. Allegation: Insisting on an open flame candle at a nursing home that prohibits open flames

– Response: To my knowledge, this was an isolated incident, which was immediately resolved between Fr. Pascual and nursing home management, and in fact Mass is now regularly offered by the priests at the nursing homes.

B. Change of Worship Environment

Allegation: Worship environment has become unwelcoming and lacks joy

– Response: It is not proven that the celebrations in Platteville are lacking in due joyfulness, calling to mind also the characteristic sobriety of the Roman Rite. From other letters and communications it is also clear that what is reported in the petition is not the unanimous experience in Platteville. In fact, it is well known that the priests are reintroducing many images and practices that have never ceased to be an important part of the Church’s spiritual heritage. As for decisions about the kinds of music to be used in the Sacred Liturgy, this is prescribed by the universal liturgical norms of the Church. Also, it is the responsibility of priests to implement these norms in their parishes. Finally, it is entirely permissible for the tabernacle to be placed in a prominent, dignified place in the sanctuary; and in fact I routinely insist on this for renovation projects in the Diocese. On a personal and spiritual level, I would offer for consideration the reality that each of us is called constantly to seek real and lasting peace and serenity in our life of prayer – the very center of which, of course, is the Holy Mass. While I do not doubt that there have been some external changes at the parish nor that these changes – as change almost always does – may cause a certain unsettledness, the reality of Christ’s real presence in the Holy Eucharist is the same. God, Himself, remains constant, unchanging from age to age. I encourage each of you – as I remind myself each day – seek the interior peace and serenity that only God can grant you. Sincerely approaching your liturgical prayer with this at heart, and allowing all things to point to God, I am confident that whatever unsettledness you might be feeling will fall away and be replaced with a renewed and lasting peace in our God, who desires passionately to speak to you in the silent depths.

C. Parish Donations

Allegation: Parish donations have decreased by 50%

– Response: Parish donations often decrease when changes occur at a parish. The exact level of change at the two parishes here is not yet clear. Regardless, it would be wrong to imply that the priests should carry out their ministry in a way that is pleasing to the faithful in order to generate income for the parish. On the one hand, the priests have the responsibility to proclaim the Gospel in season and out of season, even if it is unpleasing to those whom their preaching challenges. On the other hand, it is the obligation of the faithful to support the work of the Church as a good in and of itself, irrespective of the popularity of the clergy. Financial support is not to be treated as a vote of confidence but as a gift of love. This was emphasized by Vatican II in many places (Presbyterorum ordinis, nn. 20-21; Apostolicam actuositatem, no. 21; Ad gentes, no. 36).

D. Approval of Finance Council

Allegation: Consultation with parishioners is next to non-existent; no approval of finance council

– Response: The duty of administration of the parish is entrusted to the Pastor and no other (c. 532); the Parochial Vicars participate in this according to the determinations of the Bishop and the Pastor. The Pastor never needs the approval of the finance council, pastoral council, or any other committee before making any decision (c. 536, §2, and c. 537). These councils and committees offer him insights, suggestions, and support; he can never allow them to bind him to make any specific decision, even by their unanimous vote (Instruction Ecclesiæ de mysterio, art. 5, §§2-3).

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Earlier post on this matter

Official L.A. Diocese Pastoral Message Re:Proposition 8

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Click here to read the entire article

Courtesy of the California Catholic Daily