Posts Tagged ‘Catholic Church’

A War For Women

Thursday, December 12th, 2013

In this week’s Catholic New York columnI wrote about Our Lady of Guadalupe and the importance of women in the Catholic Church.  I thought you might want to read it.

Here is an excerpt:

If there is a “war on women,” those who defend the bond of marriage and the sanctity of the family (realizing that women are the ones usually left shattered and financially strapped by shattered marriages); those who believe that abortion is destructive of baby, mother, and father; those who hold that all God’s children, male and female, are made in God’s image, and thus deserve dignity and respect; those who sacrifice to run the world’s most effective projects of health care and education for women (led, for the most part, by generous, faithful women); and those thought idolatrous for placing a woman named Mary at the center of history, are hardly on the wrong side, but the right side, of such an alleged battle!

In two weeks, 75 percent of the world will come to a stop to celebrate a mother and the birth of her baby. Millions of children will point to the newborn baby in nativity scenes throughout the world and ask, “Who’s that?” and parents and grandparents will whisper, “That’s Jesus, our Lord and Savior.” Then they’ll point to Mary and inquire, “And who’s that?” and the answer will come, “That’s His mother, without whom Christmas could not have happened.”

A blessed Advent!

You can read my whole column here.

Welcoming Newcomers

Friday, October 18th, 2013

Today the Wall Street Journal published my editorial on the Catholic Church’s history of welcoming immigrants. I would like to share it with you. (*Subscription to this article may be required).

Here is an excerpt:

It’s a familiar sight at the Catholic Center, the archdiocesan headquarters on First Avenue in Manhattan where I work. Dozens of new arrivals to our country line up early in the morning, waiting for our office to open. They know that here they will get the help they need to become citizens, learn English and civics, reunite with their families, and navigate the complex legal immigration system. Our telephone counselors answer 25,000 calls from immigrants each year in 17 different languages.

It isn’t, however, confined to our office. We’ve all seen the men—almost 120,000 of them nationally on any given day—queuing up on the side of the road on hundreds of street corners throughout the U.S., hoping to be hired for the day. In places like Yonkers, N.Y., volunteers from Catholic Charities offer these day laborers coffee and sandwiches and even some employment advice.

The Catholic Church is doing the same things in Los Angeles, Brooklyn, Houston, Newark and Miami. More than 150 Catholic immigration programs across the nation assist immigrants in becoming Americans. Helping the newcomer to our land feel at home is part of our mission, as Christ reminds us in Matthew 25 that “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Historian Henry Steele Commager wrote that: “The Church was one of the most effective of all agencies for democracy and Americanization.”

You can read the whole editorial here.

Revitalizing the Church

Friday, September 13th, 2013

I recently came across this article, 10 ways to revitalize the Catholic Church, written by Fr.  I. Michael Bellafiore.

Here’s an excerpt:

“The new pope’s agenda is simple: spread the good news of Jesus Christ in a freer and more convincing way. Christ stated the church’s mission very plainly: “Go out and make disciples of all the nations.”…The church is not a spiritual McDonald’s whose success largely depends on its managers, the clergy. Paraphrasing President John Kennedy’s call to service, “Ask not what the church can do for you, but what you can do for the church.” Evangelicals and Pentecostals have much to teach Catholics in this regard. Polls show Catholics stayed away from church because they were ignored, slighted, or scandalized. Sometimes they misunderstand church teaching.  They need to know that they are missed and that the door is open for them…

Remember that being Catholic in America, or anywhere, means we can rejoice and trust Christ’s admonishment, “be not afraid.”

You can read the whole article here.

Statement of the USCCB on Pursuing Political Solution in Syria

Thursday, September 5th, 2013

I would like to share with you the following press release that was issued today by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on pursuing a peaceful political solution in Syria instead of a military intervention.

CARDINAL DOLAN, BISHOP PATES URGE CONGRESS TO PURSUE POLITICAL SOLUTION IN SYRIA, NOT MILITARY OPTION

Bishops make appeal same day Pope Francis urges G20 nations to pursue peace
Affirm Congressional finding that only negotiated political settlement will work
Assure Congress of their prayers

WASHINGTON—On the same day that Pope Francis asked the G20 nations to “lay aside the futile pursuit of a military solution” in Syria, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, chairman of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace, wrote to every member of Congress, urging them not to resort to military intervention, but instead work to end the violence in Syria through a political solution.

In their September 5 letter, Cardinal Dolan and Bishop Pates affirmed the finding of a proposed Congressional resolution that acknowledges that “the conflict in Syria will only be resolved through a negotiated political settlement,” and questioned military intervention. The bishops also condemned the use of chemical weapons in Syria, declaring these “indiscriminate weapons have no place in the arsenals of the family of nations.” They noted that more than 100,000 Syrians have lost their lives, more than 2 million have fled the country as refugees, and more than 4 million within Syria have been driven from their homes by the ongoing conflict.

“Our focus is on the humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in Syria and on saving lives by ending the conflict, not fueling it,” the bishops wrote. They echoed the appeals of Pope Francis and bishops in the Middle East who “have made it clear that a military attack will be counterproductive, will exacerbate an already deadly situation, and will have unintended negative consequences.”

“We ask the United States to work urgently and tirelessly with other governments to obtain a ceasefire, initiate serious negotiations, provide impartial humanitarian assistance, and encourage efforts to build an inclusive society in Syria that protects the rights of all its citizens, including Christians and other minorities,” they wrote. The bishops also assured Congress of their prayers in the midst of this complex situation.

Cardinal Dolan and Bishop Pates wrote to President Obama September 4, also urging a political solution in Syria.

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An Occasion of Great Joy

Friday, July 5th, 2013

Today’s announcement that our Holy Father, Pope Francis, has approved the cause for canonization of two of his beloved predecessors, Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II, is an occasion of great joy for the entire Church!

These two great Popes each had a profound impact on the Church and the world.  In beginning the Second Vatican Council, Pope John XXIII helped present the timeless teaching of Jesus and His Church in the modern age.  And, Pope John Paul II helped to bring that teaching to every corner of the globe, as a tireless missionary for the faith.

I know that today’s news has gladdened the hearts of the faithful throughout the world, just as it did for me.  I look forward to being with Pope Francis when he raises to the altars of sainthood these two tremendous apostles of Jesus.

Release of Deposition by the Archdiocese of Milwaukee

Monday, July 1st, 2013

Today the Archdiocese of Milwaukee released documents related to how they responded to the evil of the sexual abuse of minors by priests.  One of the documents they released was my deposition from this past February that was part of their on-going bankruptcy proceeding.  I thought you might like to see the statement I issued today, as well as read the full deposition.

“I welcome today’s voluntary release of documents by the Archdiocese of Milwaukee that contain information and details related to sexual abuse by clergy, and how the Archdiocese of Milwaukee responded to it.  I am especially grateful that my deposition of February 2013, given as part of the Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings, is one of the documents being released.

Responding to victim-survivors, taking action against priest-abusers, and working to implement policies to protect children, were some of the most difficult, challenging, and moving events of the 6 ½ years that I served as Archbishop of Milwaukee.  One of the principles that guided me during that time was the need for transparency and openness, which is why I not only welcomed the deposition as a chance to go on-the-record with how we responded to the clergy sexual abuse crisis during my years in Milwaukee, but also encouraged that it be released.

Unfortunately, we have already seen how the release of these documents will cause some to raise old and discredited attacks – like priest-abusers having been “paid” to apply for laicization, (like it or not, bishops do have a canon law obligation to provide basic support like health care and room and board for their priests until they have finally moved on) or  that establishing a perpetual care fund from money belonging to cemeteries and designated for that purpose – as required by state law and mandated by the archdiocesan finance council – was an attempt to shield it from the bankruptcy proceedings.  While certain groups can be counted-upon to take certain statements or events out of context, the documents released show plainly that the bishops have been faithful to the promises made over a decade ago: permanent removal from ministry of any priest who abused a minor; complete cooperation with law enforcement officials; and, strict child-safety requirements.

The sexual abuse of minors is a crime and it is a sin.  The Church must remain rigorous in our response when an allegation of abuse is received, and ever-vigilant in maintaining our safeguards to do all that we can to see that children are protected.  It is my hope that the release of these documents will also help to show how the Catholic Church in the United States has become a leader in dealing with the society-wide scourge of sexual abuse, and help other groups and organizations who are also seeking combat this evil.”

A Call to Counter Cultural Witness

Monday, July 1st, 2013

Sad . . . worrisome . . . but hardly surprising.

That’s how I answered another concerned person who asked my sentiments about Wednesday’s Supreme Court decision allowing the redefinition of marriage.

Sad, because the ominous erosion of the pivotal institution of society and civilization — marriage – has been accelerated.  Yes, the decision could have been more troublesome, but it’s still somber.

The understanding of marriage as the lifelong, faithful, loving union of one man and one woman, as a husband and a wife become a mom and dad to their babies, and bring about a family, is a given in the human heart, a constant in history, flowing from what philosophers term the natural law, a definition embedded in reasoned reflection on the human person, antedating any government, written law, or religion.

To protect and foster that union has been the driving force of civilization.  Sure, it’s been under pressure from the start – by, for instance, cheating on one’s spouse, abandoning spouse and children, lack of selfless love, or divorce, just to mention a few threats — but culture has always understood that such pressures could not prevail, and that this ancient institution had to be cherished if the human community were to flourish.  Governments then have a duty to enact and defend laws that protect this special relationship, in order to promote the common good of all.

For those of us who believe in God, things get even better, because this God has revealed that this foundational relationship of marriage is a mirror of the way God loves us!  In other words, God loves us like a wife loves her husband, like a husband loves his wife.  Since God’s love for us is forever, faithful, and fruitful (bringing life), so is marriage!

The creator elevated this natural understanding of marriage as between one man and one woman, faithful and forever, giving us new life in babies, to a supernatural level, as Jesus taught.

In recent decades, this fundamental relationship of marriage has been under dramatic pressure:  no-fault, easy divorce; living together like a husband and wife before marriage, or even for years without the formal bond; glorification of promiscuity; and even same-sex “marriage.”

In the face of each threat, people of faith, and thoughtful, reflective people of no faith at all, have expressed genuine concern that the ordinary, intended, given definition of marriage was almost becoming the exception.  People of faith have tried — not always successfully, I admit — to do this in a non-judgmental, calm way.  In other words, we discourage divorce, without harshly judging those who have to suffer through it; we oppose same-sex “marriage” while never condemning those with same-sex attraction (a bigotry God also abhors); we consider adultery wrong, while forgiving adulterers.  In other words, we’re pro-marriage, not anti-anyone.  Thus, while we highly respect the Supreme Court, we find very troubling the statement that one’s defense of marriage as historically and naturally understood to be based only on bigotry.  The justices have the responsibility to interpret law, not the motives of honest citizens.

We love many people:  our parents and siblings, our good friends.  But we don’t marry them.  Marriage is about love, yes, but a unique love that procreates children.

This past Wednesday, marriage as classically defined, naturally understood, and historically defended, took a big hit.  That makes us sad.

We’re also worried, because those of us who will continue to hold to the definition of marriage consonant with reason, nature, tradition, and faith, might now be coerced to accept, promote, and allow what we find so sad and ominous.  We’ll be told to “keep our oppressive, bigoted, medieval, outmoded” opinions to ourselves.  If we want to hand those “opinions” on to our children, teach them to our people, behave in accord with them, and exercise the duties of our faith publicly — to serve, teach, heal — we’re worried we’ll be harassed.

We’re worried enough to ask, now just who is doing the imposing?  We’ve been stereotyped as imposing our strange “view” of marriage upon others.  We worry, because now the highest court in our land has undermined the definition of marriage, and imposed a new definition on everyone else.

We also worry about an apparent understanding of government that considers itself able to exercise such power.  If I remember my American Studies courses correctly, the wisdom of our founders, as we’ll celebrate Thursday, was that they viewed government as a human construct to protect and defend mediating institutions such as family, marriage, and faith, not to change or tamper with them!  Kings claimed a “divine right” to alter the natural order, and our founders rebelled against that claim.

So, as one commentator observed, “The government can talk and issue rulings all it wants, but nobody can change the very definition of marriage.”

Sad, worried, but hardly surprised.  I confess that I won a $5 bet last week, as I had wagered months ago that the Supreme Court would follow this rush.  The powerful engine to redefine marriage left the station about a decade ago.  Somberly, we’ve come to realize that, once Hollywood, the entertainment industry, college professors, the society and editorial pages of our big urban newspapers, the sit-coms, movies, and talk shows get behind something, get out of the way.

What becomes normative, then, is not natural law but the polls, not the Constitution but the “correct,” not the Bible but the blogs and the TV, not the Church but the chic.

No surprise . . .

What to do?  We can get mad, bitter, angry, and harsh.  Forget it.  That’s hardly decent, and it’s counterproductive.

We could “circle the wagons” and retreat from a culture that more and more finds our values toxic and wants to stifle us.  Don’t go there.  We’re to engage the culture, not run from it.

We could long for the “good old days,” and wring our hands about these awful modern times.  Of course, the older you get, the more you realize there were no good old days, and that our job is “to make pasta with the dough we got,” to work and live honorably and justly in the here and now.

We better start with ourselves, because, a good chunk of people of faith, even among our own Catholic people, do not share this sense of sadness and worry over Wednesday’s decisions.  Part of the New Evangelization is to present the timeless teachings of our faith – - like true marriage – - in a cogent, coherent, fresh way, re-convincing our people.

We remind ourselves of what Blessed John Paul II called our duty to be counter cultural:  that our beliefs are often at odds with contemporary trends, but that this reality only encourages us to live them out more heroically.  True freedom is not the license to do whatever we want, but the liberty to do what we ought.

We recover a sense of faithful citizenship, and, as loyal American citizens, continue to explore every method of reversing this sad and worrisome decision, reminding our elected officials and magistrates that the rights of conscience and religious freedom are not government favors or concessions, but flow from the very nature and dignity of the human person.

And, we never give up hope.  The witness given by our husbands and wives, moms and dads, to faithful, life giving, lifelong love is more cherished and essential than ever.  These days, the vocation of a man and woman, united forever in faithful love, leading to babies and families, is as potent a sign as celibacy is for priests!

Besides, “the truth shall set us free!”  That always gives us encouragement, and trumps worry and sadness, right?

A blessed Independence Day!

Pilgrims, immigrants, ancestors…Americans!

Monday, May 13th, 2013

WASP’s (White, Anglo-Saxon Protestants) call them pilgrims, those brave men and women who sought sanctuary on our shores at Plymouth Rock, and we have an entire national feast to celebrate their arrival every November, Thanksgiving.

Our culture calls them immigrants, folks who have come to America from the start in the noble search for freedom, justice, peace, and a better life.

We Catholics usually call them “Mom,” “Dad,”  “Grandma,” “Grandpa” and “fellow parishioner,” as we are proudly part of a Church called Catholic, which means, “universal,” or, as James Joyce described, “Here comes everybody!”

Thus, from the beginning, the Catholic community has been vigorously pro-immigrant, for a number of good reasons.

For one, because they  – - the immigrants – - are us!  We are welcoming to them because our grandparents were immigrants!  We’re glad America opened the door to earlier generations.  Now it’s our turn.  With Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty in the bay it’s especially hard, to be a Catholic in New York, and not be pro-immigrant.

Two, we Catholics are vigorous in promoting a fair and open immigration policy because of our faith, which teaches that every person, no matter where they’re from, is a child of God, made in His image and likeness, and deserving of dignity and respect.  No one deserves to live in the shadows, in a divided family, fearing deportation, because of harsh policies.

Three, we urge immigration reform because we are loyal Americans, who recognize that a fair, measured welcome to immigrants and refugees has always strengthened our beloved nation, hardly weakened it.

Thus do we watch closely the current efforts to reform an immigration policy that everyone acknowledges to be deeply flawed.  We’re grateful to our political leaders who have bravely worked together for this reform – - including our own Senator Schumer – - and for the broad coalition of religious leaders who are with us on this one.

Our Statue of Liberty looks so good in our harbor; let’s not make her blush in embarrassment by failing to bring this noble cause to pass!

Spring and Easter Renewal

Thursday, April 4th, 2013

In this week’s Catholic New York column, I wrote about the Easter season and renewing our faith.

Here is an excerpt:

Easter blessings!

I’m all for celebrating! We prepared for Easter with forty days of intense prayer, penance, and charity during Lent.

How about celebrating now for forty days—until Ascension Thursday—come to think of it, for fifty days—until Pentecost Sunday?

These ninety days—forty days of union with the suffering and death of Jesus during Lent, plus forty days of Easter joy, plus ten more days until Pentecost—are classic days of renewal for us who follow Jesus.

Even nature cooperates, as this grand season of the Church calendar takes place against the backdrop of the cold, dark, and dreary days of winter giving way to the warm, bright, vibrant days of spring.

You can read my whole column here.

Fair Coverage

Monday, February 25th, 2013

My gratitude goes out to Kathryn Jean Lopez at National Review for her piece regarding my time in Milwaukee:

This week, before his departure for Rome for the last day of the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI and the subsequent conclave, New York’s Timothy Cardinal Dolan spoke under oath about his previous assignment in Milwaukee…

Cardinal Dolan, who began meeting with victims of abuse immediately after his appointment to Milwaukee, doesn’t deserve to be lumped in with anyone who has made excuses for sins and crimes of the past. And yet the narrative this week insinuates that the current president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is “dogged” by questions about his concern for children, suggesting implication in hundreds of cases, which is simply not so.

You can read more here.