Just a few items to share with you.
For one, late tonight I leave for Rome, summoned there, along with my brother Cardinals from around the world, by Pope Francis. Your intentions accompany me, and I already look forward to returning back here in a week.
What brings us over is the consistory for new cardinals, to occur this Saturday, February 22, the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter. We “upper-classmen” are always there to welcome “freshmen”!
People wonder about the significance of even having cardinals anymore, and, occasionally, I do myself.
But, shortly after this new group of cardinals was announced last month, I met two Haitians working in the parking garage. These men are grateful immigrants from beleaguered Haiti. They ran up to me, ecstatic, with tears in their eyes, sharing with me their joy and pride that Pope Francis had named a Haitian bishop to the College of Cardinals! To see their happiness convinced me that this ancient title still has relevance.
The Holy Father is a wise shepherd. He realizes that naming a cardinal can be an act of encouragement and affirmation to a struggling people, a sign of solidarity with the Church Universal. It sure worked for those two Haitians I met.
Prior to Saturday’s ceremony and Sunday’s Mass, Pope Francis has asked all the world’s cardinals- – including the new ones- -to come together Thursday and Friday to discuss “Marriage and Family”, a topic close to his heart, already chosen as the theme for the upcoming Synod of Bishops to take place in Rome October 2014 and 2015.
Since I was elected to the Permanent Council for the Synod of Bishops, I must remain in Rome Monday and Tuesday for all day meetings of that council.
Two, you know how I always try to alert you to any potentially negative publicity about the Church, or about me. Well, there could be some. My home archdiocese of St. Louis just complied with a court order to release the documents regarding cases there of sexual abuse of minors. (Cardinal Egan already did that here a decade ago, sharing all of the information we had on abusive priests with proper district attorneys, something we continue to do today.)
Anyway, since I was an auxiliary bishop in St. Louis for a year (2001-02), and vicar for priests for nine of those twelve months, I would anticipate that my name will again be highlighted in the press. I sure have nothing to hide, and am very much at peace with law enforcements officials reviewing the files. In fact, we already released all the documentation to them a dozen years ago!
This will be, I suspect, a repeat of last year’s attempt by the same tort lawyers to muddy my name. A year ago, they contended- – remember?- -that while Archbishop of Milwaukee I had “hidden funds”, and they had even deposed me. Nothing of course ever came of it, although the ever-compliant press here gave me headlines about being deposed. (The headlines were much smaller when the Judge eventually ruled that I had acted properly.) However, knowing how their attorneys operate, and some reporters here cooperate with them, I would anticipate some attempt at bad publicity again. I’ll keep you posted…
Finally, there was good news recently in our pro-life movement: the city health department reported a drop in the city’s abortion rate. That’s good news! The somber news is that New York City still has twice the national average of abortions.
What I also find troubling is the conclusion of the health department that this is due to increased use of IUDs and other chemical and implanted contraceptives. Really? No proof is offered. I guess some of the welcome decline could be due to that. But is it too much to conclude that another reason for the decline is that more and more mothers and fathers see abortion for the tragedy that it is, the unjust taking of an innocent, fragile, human life? Perhaps, too, its became more and more people see that casual, promiscuous sex hardly leads to health or happiness, and are now acting virtuously? I know it’s hard for some to accept- -unless you believe in human freedom, its beauty, genuine choice to wait for marriage, and that the human person is not a slave to passion and cultural pressure.
Thanks for listening!