Posts Tagged ‘U.S. Catholic Bishops’

Welcome and dignity for immigrants

Tuesday, July 9th, 2013

Whenever I pass St. Patrick’s Cathedral, I am reminded of the 19th century Catholic immigrants, who helped to build it with the sweat of their brows and whatever they could give of their paltry economic resources.

For them, the Cathedral was more than a magnificent church building. It was a symbol of their right to make a life for themselves and their families in the United States, and of their resistance to the Nativist movement that tried to prevent them from doing so.

The Catholic Church is on the side of the immigrant and that is why it is important for religious educators and others to be knowledgeable on this topic, particularly these days as the Congress considers immigration reform.  This is part of the church’s social teaching.

Here in the United States, the Church’s support for immigration reform is demonstrated in this statement by Archbishop Jose H. Gomez, archbishop of Los Angeles and chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, on June 28 during a telephone press conference with the USCCB leadership. Archbishop Gomez commended the U.S. Senate for its passage of a comprehensive immigration reform bill and called for the House of Representatives to do likewise.

Pope Francis himself provided a powerful witness in actions and words in his visit yesterday (Monday) to the Mediterranean island of Lampedusa. During his mass for those migrants who lost their lives trying to reach this refuge, he addressed the plight of all migrants and their conditions.

“‘Where is your brother?’ the voice of his blood cries even to me, God says. This is not a question addressed to others: it is a question addressed to me, to you, to each one of us.  These our brothers and sisters seek to leave difficult situations in order to find a little serenity and peace, they seek a better place for themselves and for their families – but they found death. How many times do those who seek this not find understanding, do not find welcome, do not find solidarity! And their voices rise up even to God!”

Here is the entire text from Vatican Radio.

The website of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has a host of other resources for catechists (including the primary catechists of children, their parents) and others interested in learning more about Catholic Social teaching on immigrants and migration.

By the way, your knowledge and articulation of Catholic teaching on immigration will demonstrate that the Catholic Church is certainly not “a one-issue Church” as some have sought to portray us. Justice for the immigrant is now and always will be a high priority for our community of believers in this nation of immigrants.

Confirmation for Youth with Disabilities

Wednesday, January 9th, 2013

It has been nearly 35 years since the United States Catholic Bishops issued their guidelines for the reception of the sacraments by persons with physical or developmental disabilities.  But for some reason, many families still are not aware of them.  Too many Catholics with disabilities have not received sacraments beyond that of Baptism and sometimes First Eucharist.  The Sacrament of Confirmation is a more remote possibility, perhaps because it is frequently perceived as a sacrament of completion rather than what it actually is: a sacrament of initiation.

Here is what the bishops say about the sacraments and persons with disabilities:

“It is essential that all forms of the liturgy be completely accessible to persons with disabilities, since these forms are the essence of the spiritual tie that binds the Christian community together. To exclude members of the parish from these celebrations of the life of the Church, even by passive omission, is to deny the reality of that community. Accessibility involves far more than physical alterations to parish buildings. Realistic provision must be made for persons with disabilities to participate fully in the Eucharist and other liturgical celebrations such as the Sacraments of Reconciliation, Confirmation, and Anointing of the Sick (Pastoral Statement of U.S. Catholic Bishops on Persons with Disabilities, November 1978; revised 1989).”

Nearly 30 years ago, the late John Cardinal O’Connor, a tireless advocate for and friend to persons of all ages with disabilities, began a custom both his successors have continued: that of conferring the Sacrament of Confirmation upon youth with disabilities during his Sunday Pontifical Mass in St. Patrick’s Cathedral.  He was setting an example for all pastors and parishioners to welcome, prepare, and provide the sacraments to these young people in their parishes.  However, whether by design or by accident, he also established one of the most beloved and impressive rites on the Cathedral’s calendar.

This coming April 14, Timothy Michael Cardinal Dolan will confer the Sacrament of Confirmation to youth with disabilities at the 10:15 Mass in St. Patrick’s.  If you know of a Catholic young person with physical or cognitive disabilities, who has not yet been confirmed, please tell his or her parents, family members or caregivers to e-mail Mrs. Linda Sgammato, director of special religious education for the Archdiocesan Catechetical Office. Better yet, give her a call at 212-371-1011, ext.  2852. Mrs. Sgammato will be delighted to provide more details on having this young Catholic confirmed. She will be happy to meet the candidate and his/her family in their homes, too.

Says Mrs. Sgammato: “A home visit is an opportunity to meet the candidates and families in a relaxed, informal atmosphere, to hear their stories, to share their excitement, to present the red Confirmation gown and, of course, to learn how each candidate is prepared – by a catechist in a parish program adapted to his or her needs or by faith-filled parents, family members or caregivers. It’s my honor and joy to meet them and help make possible their great day of Confirmation at the Cathedral.”