PASTOR'S COMMENTS from weekly parish bulletin:
May 26, 2013
UNGODLY On this Trinity Sunday we acknowledge the mystery of God. Some of the great mystics speak of the way of negation. It is easier to say what God is not rather than suggest we can define what God is. And often our common understandings of God are terribly misguided. This past week CNN's Wolf Blitzer asked a young mother, a survivor of the devastating Moore, Oklahoma tornado, 'You gotta thank the Lord, right?' The mom, holding her infant, had the grace to laugh and respond, "Actually, I am an atheist," but added that she doesn't 'blame anybody' for doing so.
She actually offered a very profound lesson about any real God. As Jesus said, God's sun shines on the good and the bad, and likewise God does not use tornadoes to pick winners and losers.
THE CHURCH HAS LOST CONTROL OF MARRIAGE (The following was written by Father Peter Daly and was in the National Catholic Reporter on May. 20, 2013.)
Our county courthouse is across the street from our parish church. Weddings are performed on both sides of the street. We both use the "vocabulary" of marriage, but the words don't have precisely the same meaning.
Let's face it -- the church has lost control of the cultural conversation on marriage. Just about any parish priest can tell you that. Even devout Catholics often ignore the church's teaching and views on marriage. They live together before they are married. They have babies outside of wedlock. They get married outside the church, often in entirely secular settings. They don't stay married very long. They divorce with the same frequency as the general population. They remarry without benefit of annulments from the church. They often don't consult with us on whether they can go to Communion. And lately, in a dozen states and 14 countries, some very Catholic, they are marrying people of the same sex and bringing their babies to church for baptism.
The church was the dominant voice on marriage for a long time. For about 1,000 years, it defined marriage in Western Europe. From the time of Gregory the Great (pope from 590 to 604) until the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century, the law of the Catholic church was basically the law of Western Europe on marriage and family life. Admittedly, the enforcement was spotty. Different social classes and different cultures obeyed in different ways. But if you wanted to get married, you had to come to church. If you wanted an annulment (no divorce) you had to ask the church.
It took us a few hundred years to develop a jurisprudence of marriage. The church combined Germanic tribal law and Roman civil law into the ecclesiastical law of marriage, still reflected in our modern canon law. From the Romans, we got the idea that marriages had to be ratified by a ceremony (ratum). From the Germans, we got the idea that marriages had to be consummated by sex (consumatum).
The church dominance of the marriage conversation began to ebb with the Protestant Reformation. Witness the six wives of Henry VIII. With more religious voices, there was less religious consensus, but when the church extended its reach to the New World and Asia and Africa, we still could dominate the conversation for Catholics. But that ebbed more and more with the Industrial Revolution. Women began working outside the home. They had their own money. Many did not marry at all.
Since World War II, we have increasingly had less to say about marriage. No-fault divorce in the U.S. made it easy to end marriage. New sexual ethics and contraception detached sex from marriage. Financial independence of women reduced the need women had for marriage. And a globalized world means there are more and more interreligious and cross-cultural marriages.
One other thing in the American context -- the poor don't get married. The middle class and the rich are postponing marriage until they are older. And babies are born outside of marriage. In 2012, the University of Virginia's National Marriage Project released a report called "The State of Our Unions: Marriage in America." It said people are waiting to get married. First marriages now take place on average at age 27 for women and 29 for men, the oldest ever in the United States. They also report that by age 30, two-thirds of American women have had a baby, most out of wedlock. Overall, 48 percent of first births today are to unmarried women. They also report that college-educated people get married before they have children and tend to stay married, while less-educated people tend not to get married. Marriage is a good thing for children and for their parents. It contributes to human happiness. The National Marriage Project's report says men and women who are married are much more likely to be "highly satisfied" with their lives than unmarried men and women.
And now there is gay marriage. One thing the gay marriage debate has made clear -- the church no longer controls the conversation on marriage. Look at Rhode Island, the most Catholic state in the U.S., where the bill passed its House 56 to 15. Catholic legal scholar Jesuit Fr. John Courtney Murray said back in the 1940s, "The church has a right and duty to speak, but we do not have the right to expect that our viewpoint will always be reflected in the civil law." We can have a respectful dialogue without one party or the other dominating the conversation. I hope the church both listens and speaks.
Increasingly, people are making their own arrangements on marriage. That's what Fr. Raymond O'Brien calls "private ordering" in an article in the Arkansas Law Review. Private ordering means people do what they want, how they want. They don't expect the Catholic church or the law to have much to say about it. I see "private ordering" every year, when people request weddings in farm fields, on piers or on boats, at the top of mountains or poolside at hotels. They think of the wedding as purely personal and secular. Often, couples fly off to Las Vegas or some other destination for a wedding and later come to us for a blessing (validation). Personally, I prefer validations. They are sacramental, spiritual.
Our parish does only about 12 to 15 weddings each year, the same number we did 20 years ago when we had half as many parishioners. Even the children of the most devout parishioners are not getting married or getting married outside of the church. Maybe all these competing voices on marriage will clarify at least one thing: When you come to the Catholic church for marriage, you are not just looking for a legal union or a bundle of rights; you are looking for a sacrament. They don't offer sacraments across the street at the courthouse.
[Fr. Peter Daly is a priest at the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., and has been pastor of St. John Vianney parish in Prince Frederick, Md., since 1994.]
May 19, 2013
JOHN NIENSTEDT CHANGE AGENT One of the strongest themes in the bible is how God uses crooked lines to write straight and finds the most unexpected ways to accomplish God's purposes. Think Jonah. He did every thing possible to evade a call to help reform the hated Ninevites but God used him nonetheless. And the pagan tyrant, Cyrus, freed the exiled Jews and is even referred to as the messiah. So many people, on both sides of the same sex marriage issue, have told me that they thought the dramatic change this past year was in large part due to Nienstedt's efforts. He used all his powers and position to change our state constitution on the right to marry. This heavy handed intrusion caused many to take a real look at what was being imposed and what was possible.
LAY CATHOLIC CHANGE AGENTS Francis DeBernardo, cofounder of New Ways Ministries, recently wrote in the Huffington Post:
In 2003, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who was then prefect of the Roman Catholic Church's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, wrote that "respect for homosexual persons cannot lead in any way to approval of homosexual behavior or to legal recognition of homosexual unions."
Ten years later, the Catholic hierarchy may be in the process of repudiating the teaching of its former pope. In an interview with a Costa Rican newspaper recently, Archbishop Piero Marini, president of the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses, told a reporter that society should "recognize the union of persons of the same sex, because there are many couples that suffer because their civil rights aren't recognized."
His comments came on the heels of an interview in which Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, the Archbishop of Vienna and editor of The Catechism of the Catholic Church, said: "There can be same-sex partnerships and they need respect, and even civil law protection."
Members of the Catholic hierarchy are seldom so straightforward in contradicting the Vatican. Yet in the decade since Ratzinger issued "Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons" countries in which Catholicism is the dominant religion -- Argentina, Portugal, Spain, Uruguay and now France -- have legalized same-sex marriage. Ireland and the United Kingdom seem likely to do the same. In the United States, Catholic politicians such as Andrew Cuomo of New York, Christine Gregoire of Washington and Martin O'Malley of Maryland, have led successful campaigns to establish marriage equality in their states.
Faced with mounting evidence that the hierarchy is rapidly losing influence in Europe and the Americas, and alienating the faithful in the process, some leading bishops are seeking to soften the hard line that Benedict XVI drew when he was still Cardinal Ratzinger. Their argument --articulated by prelates from Columbia, France, Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States and within the Vatican itself -- is that marriage, even civil marriage, must be defined as a relationship between one man and one woman, but that legal recognition of same-sex relationships is permissible or even desirable.
This new position is not one that many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Catholics, their friends and families will endorse because it falls short of full marriage equality. Nor is it clear that members of the hierarchy will maintain this stance if they determine that it is no longer useful to appear moderate on this issue. But this moment is worth studying and celebrating nonetheless.
Reform-minded Catholics are often told that the church is not a democracy. In the conventional political sense, that may be true. But the church ministers in democracies. And in country after country, Catholic voters have gone to the polls, ignored the often heavy-handed lobbying of their bishops, and voted in favor of marriage equality, or legislators who support marriage equality. They are changing the teachings of the church by changing the culture in which the church functions.
Pope Francis himself has participated in this trend. In 2010, with the Argentine government poised to write marriage equality into law, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio urged his fellow bishops to support civil unions as a compromise. His colleagues rejected this strategy, and the future pope led a futile campaign to persuade voters in that heavily Catholic country to discriminate against same-sex couples.
No one knows how Francis will behave now that he is pope. Progressive Catholics have learned through decades of bitter experience to live with high hopes but low expectations. We understand that a hierarchy that opposed marriage equality but tolerated civil unions would be a mixed blessing, but a blessing nonetheless.
If the pope adopted the position espoused by Schönborn and others, the Catholic hierarchy would have no reason to oppose including the same-sex partners of U. S. citizens among those who could be granted citizenship under the immigration bill about to come before the U. S. Senate. The hierarchy could support or remain neutral on legislation that extends to gay and lesbian couples legal protections and benefits that they are now denied in most states in this country. It could speak in less vitriolic terms about same-sex couples and their families, as the bishops of England and Wales did recently in acknowledging "that many same-sex couples raise children in loving and caring homes."
The Catholic hierarchy is by no means committed to this sort of conciliatory course, and bishops in the United States are among the most zealous in working against the interests of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their families. But the demographic forces that inspired a future pope and several high profile European bishops to seek a compromise are clearly present in the United States.
Although the U.S. bishops and their allies, including the Knights of Columbus, have poured millions of dollars into opposing legal recognition of same-sex relationships, Catholic support for marriage equality has leapt from 40 percent to 59 percent in the last decade, according to a recent survey by ABC News and the Washington Post. Those numbers are even higher among younger Catholics, so the course of lay opinion on this issue seems well established.
The choice before our bishops now is whether to continue a divisive battle that will only diminish their own authority, or to follow where the laity has led.
May 12, 2013
PASTOR ON A JOY RIDE MS, Multiple Sclerosis, affects over 2 million people. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50. I will never forget Pam, a young mom with 2 grade school daughters, who came down with this disease when I was a young pastor about her age, 30 years ago. She was soon living out the last years of her life in a nursing home. My heart went out to her, her husband, daughters and mother.
Thankfully there are people dedicated to overcoming this disease such as the MS Society. On the weekend of June 8-9 the MS Society is holding the MS 150 bike ride to raise funds for the MS Society. I will be participating but as usual I will be doing things differently. I will be doing the second half of the Duluth to Minneapolis on Friday the 7th and then join the other bikers on Saturday for the first half starting in Duluth. That way I can be with you on Sunday although I will probably not be sitting down much during the service. I would appreciate your support if you are so inclined. Checks can be made out to the "MS Society" and left at the church office or put in the collection basket marked for Mike's ride. You can also donate online. Here is the link to my MS ride page: http://main.nationalmssociety.org/goto/mtegeder2013
WILL THEY EVER LEARN Rhode Island, the most Catholic state in the nation, recently became the 10th state to approve marriage equality. The bishop of Providence, Thomas Tobin, responded with a pastoral letter stating that "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.”
Catholic bishops these days should be careful when talking of significant scandals. But even more, do they not recall those pre-Vatican II days when such bishops also forbade their flock from attending weddings of Catholics at non Catholic ceremonies using the same words and rationale. Families were split over such strictures. Somehow we moved beyond that prohibition.
TO THE MAX Last week I mentioned the 35,000,000 (yes, million) dollar income of a local CEO and how this was actually a decrease of 27% from his previous year's take. I found it ironic that this week members of the Minnesota House of Representatives were arguing over raising the state's minimum wage from its current $6.15 an hour. By the way such a person would earn $13,520 annually for a 40 hour a week job. The underpaid CEO in comparison would be getting $16,827 an hour presuming a 40 hour work week. Some contrast. But lets assume this gung ho CEO is working 16 hour days, 7 days a week. Then his pay amounts to $6,731 an hour. He would have to work a couple of hours to match the minimum wage earner's annual salary. After many objections, the Democrats passed a bill raising the minimum wage by 2015 to $9.50 an hour ($8.50 for smaller employers). I find it hard to believe that those fighting so hard against this minimum wage increase (the first in 8 years) have no problems with those receiving the maximum wage. In fact, they want to cut their taxes even more.
May 5, 2013
NO LAUGHING MATTER When I read the Star Tribune and want a laugh I no longer turn to the comics (too saccharine) or even the editorial cartoons (too predictable), but to the business section and its weekly column, CEO Pay Watch. Just last week it published the total compensation of United Health Group CEO, Stephen Hemsley, for 2012 as just under 35 million dollars. The article notes that what he "took home" was actually 27% less than what he "earned" in 2011. Poor man, he was shorted about 9.5 million. The company's proxy statement actually with a straight face stated that his 2012 compensation was below the median for the company's peer group. (3M's big guy raked in 39 million.) That is some peer group! Thankfully, "the Compensation Committee and Mr. Hemsley agree that the total compensation awarded is sufficient to retain and motivate him." These guys have a sense of humor. They are laughing all the way to the Cayman Islands.
By the way, his compensation would cover over 800 employees making $40,000 a year. These employees would likely be in the 25% tax rate while most of this underpaid CEO's income is taxed at the 15% rate. It should also be noted that this man's company is based on the foundation of a health care system that was built up over the generations by the generous labors of people such as the Sisters of St Joseph of Carondolet and the Franciscan Sisters of Rochester. They were motivated by humanistic values with no regard to what they could suck out of sick people for financial gain. Indeed, they put in much more than they took out and left a legacy that is now being pirated.
And I had to laugh at another CEO's compensation package that included $25,000 "for financial planning, tax preparation or accounting needs." Poor fellow, his takings are so great that he is desperate for help in finding enough tax loopholes. He has employees who do not earn $25,000. The company he heads up is ironically named Fair Issac. I would say more than fair.
For a more sober assessment I refer to the new head of the Church of England, Archbishop Justin Welby, a former business executive himself, who in a BBC radio interview criticized the "culture of entitlement" among the London banking elite which "seemed to disconnect from what people saw as reasonable in the rest of the world."
THE FRUIT OF THEIR LABORS I write this on May 1st, Worker's Day and appropriately the feast of St. Joseph the Worker Day. Pope Francis in his General Audience message today said: "Work, to use an image, ‘anoints’ us with dignity, it fills us with dignity; it makes us similar to God, who has worked and works still, He is always acting; it gives the ability to maintain oneself, one's family, to contribute to the growth of one's nation. And here I am thinking of the difficulties which, in different countries, today's world of work and enterprise are facing; I think about how many people, and not just young people, are unemployed, often because of an economic conception of society, which seeks selfish gain, outside of the parameters of social justice." Francis went on to comment on the garment workers earning about $40 a month in Bangladesh, "This is called slave labor."
ANOTHER FRANCES With the horrible news of the 500 plus Bangladeshi garment workers who worked and died in inhumane and unsafe conditions it brings to mind the 1911 Triangle shirtwaist fire in NYC where 146 mainly young immigrant women died working in another unsafe building. One of the eyewitnesses to this was a recent college graduate, Frances Perkins. She went on to serve on a committee investigating the fire and became a determined champion for workers' rights. Franklin Roosevelt appointed her the Secretary of Labor, the first woman to serve in a president's cabinet. She was Episcopalian with many Catholic friends including Msgr. John A. Ryan, a priest from our Archdiocese, who headed the Social Action Department of the National Catholic Welfare Conference. He was an early proponent of a social security program and Perkins brought this about. Like our own Frances Cabrini, she was powerful in her witness to Christ's concern for those in need. The Episcopal Church honors her on May 13. I gladly join them.
April 28, 2013
HOME COMING This weekend I will not be at Cabrini as we have a special conference at Gichitwaa Kateri Parish for the regional group of the national American Indian Catholics, the Tekakwitha Conference. There will be people coming from as far as Chicago and the western Dakotas. Many of the Indians are Dakota and their roots are in this area especially at Mendota or Bdote which is considered the center and birth place of their people. They are descendents of the exile of the Dakota people from Minnesota following the 1862 Dakota War.
Here are some demographics on American Indian Catholics. More than 340 parishes in the US serve predominantly Indian congregations. These people compose about 3.5% of all Catholics in the US. Only 40% of them live in reservations or trust lands. Next to Los Angeles, the Twin Cities has the highest number of urban Indians. Approximately 20% of Indians in the US consider themselves Catholic, 580,000 of a total of 2.9 million people whose primary race is given as American Indian. About 30% of US dioceses have an office focused on Indian Catholics.
A number of Cabrini parishioners are helping with the conference for which I am very grateful, Miigwech, Thank you.
FEASIBILITY STUDY Archbishop Nienstedt is contemplating a $165 million dollar capital campaign to raise funds for parishes, schools and other ministries in the Archdiocese. Before he moves forward, he would like to hear your thoughts on the proposed campaign goals and structure. Please share your thoughts by attending one of the scheduled town hall meetings. The evening will include a brief presentation on the proposed campaign goals followed by time to ask questions. At the conclusion of the gathering, you will be asked to complete a brief survey. To find the upcoming dates contact Colleen Thuente at email@example.com or 651-291-4531.
I have a question already. Two years ago the Archbishop without public consultation and against the advice of some of his top financial advisers froze the lay pension plan. This broke the promise made to these employees that they would have a secure if modest pension upon retirement. The plan remains unfunded and so all full time employees have 5% of their salaries matched by their employing parishes to pay off the unfunded liability "for the foreseeable future." The employees will get no added benefit for these expenditures and new employees not vested in the plan get no benefit at all.
If the Archbishop wants to raise money for various projects he should first pay off the unfunded
lay pension liability so employees are not burdened with the expense. Would that not be feasible and fair?
April 21, 2013
HOUSE CALL I received the following request:
I am second year medical student at the Mayo Clinic and as part of my studies I was accepted into a summer internship program at the University of Minnesota Medical Center. I will be in Minneapolis from June 10th – August 2nd. I am originally from Montana, so I do not know anyone in the cities and was hoping to reach out to the local Catholic community for assistance in this short relocation. I was wondering if you knew anywhere that I could sublet a room or if it would be possible to place a notice in the bulletin asking the parishioners if they had a room they would be willing to rent. I am a very neat person and would be spending most of my time working at the hospital. I am also recently married, but unfortunately, due to my wife’s job, she will be unable to join me.
If you are able to help this future physician please let me know.
THE BULLY PULPIT This phrase is associated with Teddy Roosevelt but he used it to refer to the White House as an advantageous place to speak from. "Bully" in his usage, this earlier definition, is an adjective meaning splendid or terrific. We use it today, bully for you, good for you. Hopefully the church pulpit is such a positive platform. But too often it can be seen as a place for bullying in the sense of hurting someone weaker or with less power.
I was therefore concerned to hear that the Minnesota Catholic Conference is strongly opposing the Safe and Supportive Minnesota Schools Act (HF826/SF783). This anti-bullying legislation will ensure that all schools have clear, strong policies against bullying, as well as the training and resources needed to keep kids safe. In a 2010 Minnesota Student Survey, conducted jointly by the state Departments of Health & Education, 13% of students reported being bullied once a week or more.
Jason Adkins, the MCC executive director on its web site has some very odd logic about the law. He links it with the same sex marriage debate, "where intimidation and name calling are used in the social sphere to silence people (or churches)." I fail to see how the Archbishop was intimidated in waging his million dollar marriage amendment campaign. He then states that, "schools are the ideal place to foster this new regime of ‘tolerance,’ and forcefully suppress any bad thoughts or ‘hate’ speech that may emerge." Does he pay attention to the news and the recent suicides of teens connected with bullying?
And he continues picking on same sex people. "The truths found in the natural order continue to be suppressed… Speaking of nature, one more bill merits your close attention. Those who choose not to live in accordance with the natural law soon discover that it is difficult (impossible) for two people of the same sex to create a child." And so Adkins condemns HF 291/SF 370 which has been introduced to allow surrogacy agreements to be used as admissible evidence in custody proceedings between surrogate mothers and (his quotes) “intended parents.” Now these parents-to-be need not be a same sex couple so why only single them out in raising concerns about the bill? Indeed, the reason heterosexual couples seek such medical procedures is that the natural law is not without its limitations.
April 14, 2013
THE EPISCOPAL CHARISM When I was in the seminary our New Testament professor was Father Jerome Quinn, a rather conservative man with wit. I had him for a class on the Pastoral Epistles where Paul tells his mentee, Timothy, that among other things a bishop should be married only once. Father Jerome was rather skeptical about the crop of bishops at the time, and once (probably more than once) quipped that the charism given to bishops was "a certain strengthening of the will and darkening of the intellect." This is one of the rare teachings I received in my seminary days that has some verifiability.
The latest such sighting comes from Detroit. The current Ordinary is Archbishop Allen Vigneron, a seminary classmate of our own Ordinary. Vigneron made a pronouncement to the Detroit Free Press that Catholics who receive communion while advocating gay marriage would "logically bring shame for a double-dealing that is not unlike perjury." How about those advocating episcopal marriage?
April 7, 2013
TRUSTING THOMAS One of the saddest lines in the Scriptures is found several times in the gospels, "And they had nothing more to ask him." Often people including his disciples did not understand what Jesus was saying but they were afraid to ask him any questions. But Jesus never refused to answer a question made in good faith. Indeed, he encouraged questions. And Jesus himself asks over 200 questions in the gospels. Along with parables, Jesus used questions as a teaching devise.
Commonly this weekend's gospel passage about Thomas questioning the appearance of the risen Jesus to the other disciples is labeled the story of doubting Thomas. I prefer to see Thomas ultimately as a trusting person. He had enough inner strength to be able to express his doubts. And in doing so he was able to make a profound statement of faith, "My Lord and my God."
I love the statement of the former Archbishop of Milan and bible scholar, Cardinal Carlo Martini, "The line between belief and unbelief runs through the middle of each of us - including myself, a bishop of the church." Too often certitude has gotten church leaders in trouble. True faith can ask questions and raise doubts.
A SPOILED SYSTEM There are many hopes with Francis, the new Bishop of Rome. In choosing Francis, the cardinals are sending a powerful message about the need for change in the church. Francis so far is only disappointing the traditionalists who are going apoplectic over his dropping many regal trappings that Benedict insisted upon and washing the feet of 2 incarcerated women (including a Muslim) on Holy Thursday.
An article in the N Y Times on March 13 reported on the crisis of management under John Paul and Benedict. Francis inherits power struggles over the Vatican Bank and the Roman Curia, which is "often seen as a hornet's nest of infighting..." Decentralization is needed and a more collegial church is required.
I was struck by a statement made by from Alberto Melloni, an author of many books on the Vatican, who is quoted saying that the reform of the Roman Curia, which runs the Vatican, "is not conceptually hard, it's hard on a political front, but it will take five minutes for someone who has the strength. You get rid of the spoil system, and that's it."
A spoils system. I am not so sanguine about such necessary changes. The spoil system doesn't end in Rome, it extends all the way to St. Paul. I am still troubled by the explanation given by our then Vicar General when I asked 5 years ago how our present Archbishop ended up here. "It has nothing to do with us or the needs of our diocese, it is all about his career needs and our diocese was open." The bishop who was his mentor in the Vatican Secretariat of State was at the time of his appointment the head of the Congregation of Bishops in charge of episcopal appointments.
I am a more traditional Catholic who takes guidance from the fifth century pope, St.Leo the Great, "He that is to preside over all ought to be chosen by all."
March 31, 2013
With the rest of the staff, I hope that this Easter will be an occasion of great joy and happiness for all the members of our parish community and those who join us this weekend. We pray that the tremendous meaning of the Easter celebration will give new meaning and purpose to our lives.
We extend a very special welcome to those who have been baptized, confirmed and welcomed to the eucharistic table this Easter!
Having celebrated Lent and Holy week as well, a special word of thanks must go out to all who have made this a special time. This includes all who generously give their time and talent to make our liturgies especially graceful and grace-filled. Many help to prepare the church and assist in ministry. Thanks to those who help with environments, our worship committee, the musicians, and so many others.
This weekend, we gather to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We sing wonderful music that speaks of our praise, adoration and joy! But in reality, every Sunday in the Christian Church is an Easter Sunday, because we remember Christ’s resurrection each week. I thank you for your generous stewardship. You make it possible to share the Easter message every day. And thank you for all the outreach you do. These are also signs of new life.
AND INDIAN TACOS TOO Here at Cabrini we are celebrating the Easter octave with Indian tacos
on Saturday, April 6, following the 5 PM mass. Kateri parishioners will be serving. The funds raised go to attending the national Tekakwitha Conference for American Indian Catholics. This year's conference is in El Paso, Texas, and we hope to send a number of people.
MS 150 BIKE RIDE SPONSORS NEEDED On the weekend of June 8-9 the MS Society is
holding the MS 150 bike ride to raise funds for the MS Society. I will be participating but as usual I will
be doing things differently. I will be doing the second half of the Duluth to Minneapolis on Friday the 7th and then join the other bikers on Saturday for the first half starting in Duluth. That way I can be with you on Sunday although I will probably not be sitting down much during the service. I would appreciate your support if you are so inclined. Checks can be made out to the "MS Society" and left at the church office or put in the collection basket marked for Mike's ride. You can also donate online. Here is the link to my MS ride page: http://main.nationalmssociety.org/goto/mtegeder2013
MARRIAGE IS A MANY SPLENDORED THING I have been listening to the Supreme Court proceedings over the status of same sex marriage. It has been very thought provoking. One thing that came out in all the arguments is the reality that there are many understandings of marriage. I hope our bishops are paying attention. I was very struck by Ted Olson, G. W. Bush's lawyer in Bush v Gore, who quoted the Supreme Court's holding marriage to be the most important relationship in life. It certainly underlined my concerns that such a relationship has also been denied by our church to those serving as ordained ministers.
March 24, 2013
WELCOME POPE FRANCIS The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet and Consociates of the St. Paul Province had the following ad in the Catholic Spirit: "We celebrated with you on St. Joseph’s Day,
March 19, the day of your installation. It is a day so very special to us as we remember St. Joseph, our patron. He was a man of dreams, who in his own quiet way, modeled humility, tolerance, and compassion. We look to him for guidance as we continue our work on behalf of those who are poor and marginalized. As we come to know you, we appreciate the way you model the values we find in St. Joseph. With hearts full of hope and gratitude we hold you in our hearts and in our prayers."
ADEQUATE FOR MINISTRY When I was at the St Paul Seminary at the end of each academic year, there was an evaluation on various aspects of "formation." There were levels of passing grades, the lowest being, "adequate for ministry." Some of us took some delight in this category, one season we even so named our softball team.
A number of people have asked me about Pope Francis. He certainly is very commendable in much of his personal lifestyle and temperament. In this he is a big improvement over Benedict. But I am troubled about what he failed to do during the "dirty war" in Argentina. The military junta murdered many people including priests and nuns who were identified with leftist political views. Francis was the Jesuit provincial at the time and a number of fellow Jesuits were arrested and tortured. Rather like Pius XII he apparently preferred not to go public with his opposition to injustice. This is very understandable but sometimes leaders are called to take a stand.
While very much concerned with social justice and poverty, Francis is quite conservative on sexual issues but he seems to be a pragmatist. A New York Times article reports how he favored civil unions for same sex couples when Argentina's congress was debating the passage of a law allowing for gay marriage. The then Cardinal Bergoglio who led the public opposition to the measure, spoke out in a heated meeting of bishops in 2010 and advocated the highly unorthodox solution: that the church in Argentina support civil unions.
The article states, "The approach stands in sharp contrast to his predecessor, Benedict XVI, who spent 25 years as the church’s chief doctrinal enforcer before becoming pope, known for an unbending adherence to doctrinal purity. Francis, by comparison, spent decades in the field, responsible for translating such ideals into practice in the real world, sometimes leading to a different approach.... 'The melody may be the same, but the sound is completely different,' Alberto Melloni, the director of the liberal Catholic John XXIII Foundation for Religious Science in Bologna, Italy, said of the two...Faced with the near certain passage of the gay marriage bill, Cardinal Bergoglio offered the civil union compromise as the 'lesser of two evils,' said Sergio Rubin, his authorized biographer. 'He wagered on a position of greater dialogue with society.'"
Francis lost the vote with the bishops but he acted like a bridge builder which is what "pontifex" actually means. But here too he did not publicly express his views.
March 17, 2013
REBUILD MY CHURCH INDEED Our new pope has chosen the name Francis, the first Pope Francis. He has a reputation for simplicity so hopefully he will live up to his name and not be so consumed with anachronistic liturgical garb and practices. And St. Francis famously began his ministry after receiving the mysterious message, "rebuild My church." There is much building to do, much reaching out needed, as Francis I begins his new ministry.
I looked up the bulletin entry for April 19, 2005 when I was at St. Edwards Church. This was the Sunday after Ratzinger was chosen at the last conclave. Here is what I wrote:
As it happened, I was with my dentist last Tuesday as the announcement of the new pope was made. Disappointed, his immediate response was, "The world will go on and the church will go on too." I too was disappointed, it could have been much better...This papacy is going to have a different tone, more severe and restrictive...For those who may feel that the Holy Spirit somehow let us down in the conclave perhaps the words of the former Cardinal Ratzinger may lend perspective, "It is wrong to say that the Holy Spirit elects the pope because there have been popes the Holy Spirit would never elect." Source? Joseph Ratzinger.
Sadly, Ratzinger did not prove me wrong. The actual definition of the pope‘s title of "pontiff" is to be a bridge builder. Ratzinger who headed what used to be the Office of the Inquisition, saw his role as being a guardian of boundaries and a builder of walls "to protect the deposit of faith." He was constitutionally unable to reach out and build some bridges for a more collegial and decentralized church.
Today, I can only pray for Francis I to help us all to rebuild the church as he takes on this extraordinary burden of spiritual, moral and political leadership. But then again, the world and church will go on.
TO THOSE WHO HAVE MORE WILL BE GIVEN When Paul Ryan first proposed a budget plan 2 years ago, fellow conservative and Catholic, Newt Gingrich, called it right wing social engineering which "we don't need." Now Ryan has doubled down with his new proposal, "Path to Prosperity," slashing social programs for the vulnerable to supposedly cut the budget deficit. Nobel prize winning economist, Paul Krugman, notes, “Nothing has changed, except that the plan has gotten even crueler."
According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Ryan's most recent budget proposal would save those making between $20,000 and $30,000 just $246 in taxes and actually increase taxes for most middle income families while giving those making over $1 million average savings of $265,011. He would cut $2.4 trillion from Medicaid and other health care programs for people with low or moderate incomes. As many as 44 million fewer people would be covered under Medicaid, according to CBS News, while raising the age of Medicare eligibility from 65 to 67. Ryan also intends to repeal the Affordable Care Act which means many 65- and 66-year-olds would be left uninsured. Under Ryan's "Path to Prosperity," senior citizens would have to pay as much as 68 percent of their health care coverage, up from 25 percent today.
Ryan makes big cuts in many programs from food stamps to the environment. A single mother of two working full time at the minimum wage would have her Child Tax Credit cut by more than $1,500, assuming she made $14,500 a year. Compared to the most recent White House budget proposal, Ryan's budget spends 33 percent less on education, training, employment and social services, the Washington Post reports.
Every day at Cabrini and many other churches, people come to the door who are in need for assistance just to get through the day. We take guidance from Jesus saying, "I was hungry and you fed me..." Ryan instead takes out of context, "to those who have more will be given..."
March 10, 2013
INDIGENOUS WOMEN TO WALK 1200 MILES FOR THE WATER At the parish of Gichitwaa Kateri each mass includes a water blessing done by one of the women elders. The women are the keepers of the water. I am not able to do this ritual. I find if very profound. Women are protectors of the waters.
A group of Indigenous women including some from Gichitwaa Kateri are carrying a copper pail of water from the headwaters of the Mississippi in Minnesota to the place where the river empties into the Gulf of Mexico in Louisiana. The women walkers and supporters left Lake Itasca State Park on March 1st following a traditional Ojibwe water ceremony. They are walking each and every day until they reach the Gulf near New Orleans around the end of April.
The Water Walkers are drawing attention to the peril the river faces due to pollution. The Mississippi River is the second most polluted river in the United States. Toxic chemicals from municipalities, farms and corporations are taking their toll on the river. By the time a drop of water reaches the “dead zones” near the mouth of the river, the water is nearly depleted of oxygen. The walkers intend to educate people along the way as to what they can do to stop the pollution.
“We want the walk to be a prayer,” walker Sharon Day says. “Every step we take we will be praying for and thinking of the water. The water has given us life and now, we will support the water.”
Donations to support the walk can be sent to Indigenous Peoples Task Force: Water Walk. 1335 E. 23rd Street, Minneapolis, MN 55404. To learn more or participate: Join the Mississippi River Water Walk 2013 Facebook Group: http://www.facebook.com/events/232477210218692/
DOING WHAT YOU ARE TOLD A recent news story about the cardinals flocking to the conclave brought to mind Lawrence Kohlberg's levels of moral reasoning, specifically stage 1 of obedience and punishment. This earliest stage of moral development is especially common in young children who see rules as fixed and absolute. Obeying the rules is important because it is a means to avoid punishment. At this earliest level of mere obedience, doing what you are told, without the assistance of one's informed conscience, life is simple, one follows a parental authority.
It was rather sad if not unexpected to see Cardinal Roger Mahoney, responding to protests over his attendance at the conclave, telling Catholic News Service that the Vatican told him to come to Rome and participate. "Without my even having to inquire, the nuncio in Washington phoned me a week or so ago and said, ‘I have had word from the highest folks in the Vatican: You are to come to Rome and you are to participate in the conclave.'" The retired cardinal has been much criticized for his handling of sexual abuse cases.
Life is so much simpler when you do not even have to inquire. Papa may be gone, but there is always someone able to tell you what to do in a properly run hierarchy.
March 3, 2013
FOOD FOR THOUGHT We had a great turnout on February 19 for the St. John's Theology Day presentation held at Cabrini by Dr. Bill Cahoy, Dean of the School of Theology. His talk, "Responsibility, Leadership and Change: The Challenges of an Adult Church" was well received. For more information about the SJU Theology programs go to: http://www.csbsju.edu/SOT/News-and-Events/Events/Theology-Day.htm
THOUGHTFUL FOOD Joe Pipp reported to the parish Council that Cabrini concluded another successful season of Candlelight Dinners. Over 250 individuals gathered to share a meal in 30 different homes. As Joe stated, "what a terrific opportunity to build community!" Thanks to all who participated especially the meal hosts and to Joe and Joan Pipp for coordinating the program
FAST FOOD In addition to lobster, jumbo shrimp and scallops, Catholics may also add alligator to their Lenten observance of abstaining from meat. “Concerning the question if alligator is acceptable to eat during the Lenten season...yes, the alligator is considered in the fish family,” Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond wrote in a letter to a concerned parishioner in the New Orleans Archdiocese.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website on “Lent and Lenten Practices” shows the rationale behind Archbishop Aymond's declaration. “Abstinence laws consider that meat comes only from animals such as chickens, cows, sheep or pigs – all of which live on land. Birds are also considered meat...Fish are a different category of animal. Salt and freshwater species of fish, amphibians, reptiles, (cold-blooded animals) and shellfish are permitted.” Such cold blooded reasoning.
Other reptiles that could presumably be consumed on Lenten Fridays include turtles, snakes, and tortoises. The bishops indicate that foods such as chicken broth, meat gravies or sauces, “as well as seasonings or condiments made from animal fat are technically not forbidden.” (I never knew that which probably explains as well as anything why I am an unlikely candidate for the episcopacy.)
The possibility of extending Friday abstinence throughout the year has been recently raised during the U.S. bishops' 2012 General Assembly by Cardinal Timothy Dolan. “The work of our Conference during the coming year includes reflections on re-embracing Friday as a particular day of penance, including the possible re-institution of abstinence on all Fridays of the year, not just during Lent.”
Cardinal Dolan commended the English bishops for recently reinstating the year round Friday abstinence, writing that “many welcomed the initiative of the bishops of England as a step in the right direction: restoring a sense of belonging, an exterior sign of membership, to a Church at times adrift.” Yes, adrift and really out to sea.
February 24, 2013
ITS ALL RELATIVE Relativism is the new boogeyman in the Church. When members of the hierarchy want to really denigrate someone, they label them a relativist. That is why the recent papal abdication is quite interesting. Eight years ago, when Pope John Paul II died, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops praised him for staying on the job to the bitter end. “The elderly and infirm have been inspired by his indefatigable perseverance as his own physical limitations mounted,” said the bishops’ president. Now the bishops are praising John Paul’s successor, Pope Benedict XVI, for quitting. “His resignation is but another sign of his great care for the Church,” said the bishops’ new president. But what are the elderly and infirm to think?
Apparently the pope can never make a wrong decision. George Weigel, JP II's hagiographer, praised him for not stepping down. By continuing in office even when seriously incapacitated, he fulfilled the papal pledge. Now Weigel has made an about face. “It’s a great statement about the humility of Joseph Ratzinger,” he said of Benedict. “In a strange way, this is his last great service to the Church. He wants the Church to have the kind of strong leadership that it needs.” Strange indeed, is Weigel's flexibility.
And then there is the former Reagan speechwriter, Peggy Noonan, who lauded JP II's decision “to work to the very end...He held on to life as if to show us what he had for so long told us—life is precious, love it, use it, pour yourself out. Spend yourself...Repeatedly pressed to retire, to give himself some rest after his mighty labors, he refused. ‘Christ didn’t come down from the cross,’ he said.” Now that Benedict is retiring, Noonan sees things quite differently. In Noonan’s rapturous retelling, Benedict’s exit is almost salvific, bearing the sins of others: “The scandals that grew under John Paul … had to be faced and addressed by Benedict. Maybe he hopes he took the burden on his back and, as he leaves, can bear it away.”
Slate contributor, William Saletan, comments, "Across the Catholic blogosphere, writers are struggling to rationalize Benedict’s decision...it’s obvious what’s going on here. These are people of faith. They’ve put their faith in a church and the men who lead it. They’re determined to find virtue and wisdom in these men, even when two consecutive popes choose completely different courses."
Sounds like relativism to me. Not that that is wrong.
BARELY BEARABLE I did not find disarming a recent NPR radio story about the "open carry" movement. No, this is not some drinkers' rights group. Its spokesperson says that they "want to normalize the presence of firearms in daily life." An adherent was observed with a rifle slung across his back as he shopped the aisles at Walmart (the largest retail seller of guns in the world.) A few weeks earlier NPR reported from Portland, Oregon, on a movement there where its "members" went about publicly naked as they conducted their daily tasks. Watch out if these two groups hook up.
February 17, 2013
BYE BYE BENEDICT Papa Benedict's eight years as pope were marked by a series of scandals in the Vatican and a pronounced conservative turn. His most tangible legacy will be the ridiculous translation of the Roman Missal that he imposed on English speaking Catholics to conform to his latinate leanings. I found it sadly typical that Father Federico Lombardi, Director of the Holy See Press Office, had no inkling of Benedict's resignation. He begged the reporters for a few days to "unscramble" things. Such a fetish for secrecy. Thankfully the Vatican spokesperson did dismiss the idea that he is resigning over "depression," "uncertainty" or "difficulties in papacy." Apparently he may have quit "to avoid (the) exhausting rush of Easter engagements." With two parishes and two separate triduum services I have some sympathy for him.
HERE COMES THE ARCHBISHOP Recently Archbishop Nienstedt issued two statements cracking down on the rights of Catholics in the Archdiocese. First he issued a warning to all priests about the Council of the Baptized. This group is made up of many people who have long histories of service as members of our local church. Many have had leadership positions under previous archbishops. To my awareness all are in good standing in the church. Under Canon law they have the rights to organize and express their concerns but nevertheless Nienstedt sees these faithful Catholics as a threat to his authority as (in his words) "Chief Catechist" and "Defender of the Faith" (same title as the Queen of England, a coincidence). Second, he reissued a policy on the need for his approval for outside speakers and honorees "to ensure that when a forum is provided for a discussion of matters of faith, those invited to present do so in a manner that is consistent with the teachings of the Church and in harmony with the pastoral direction that I have established for this Archdiocese." Talk about a strong self image.
We are all too aware of the failed campaign Nienstedt waged against the committed, loving relationships of gays and lesbians. (Indeed, some credit him for the failure of the Constitutional amendment to limit marriage to be passed.) Possibly a bit humbled, he is now focused to limiting the rights of Catholics in the Archdiocese. This is his right according to some interpretations of church governance much in favor before the Vatican II Council.
The Pope may step down, but our Archbishop won't step back.
KTOE RADIO INTERVIEW Last Monday, February 11, I was interviewed on the Jack Kolars radio show. It can be found at Jack's site at www.ktoe.com.
Feb. 11, 2013 - Conversation with Rev. Mike Tegeder
February 10, 2013
EVOLUTION WEEKEND This weekend we celebrate Evolution Weekend which encourages clergy and congregations to learn about and discuss evolution. The weekend chosen is the closest Sunday to Charles Darwin's birthday, February 12. Evolution Sunday events first took place in 2006 and was renamed in 2008 to be more inclusive. According to its founders, this is "an opportunity for serious discussion and reflection on the relationship between religion and science" and an effort "to elevate the quality of the discussion on this critical topic, and to show that religion and science are not adversaries...Religious people from many diverse faith traditions and locations around the world understand that evolution is quite simply sound science; and for them, it does not in any way threaten, demean, or diminish their faith in God. In fact, for many, the wonders of science often enhance and deepen their awe and gratitude towards God."
Being at Gichitwaa Kateri has also enriched my understanding of creation. Last summer I was able to attend the National Tekakwitha Conference for Indian Catholics. One of the speakers was Father Jim Nesbitt who is a member of a First Nation community in Manitoba. He said that in college he took a 2 semester course on paleontology. At the end of the class the professor proudly concluded, "And so, we are all related to the animals." This brought back the memory of his grandmother taking the 7 year old Jim to the Assiniboine Zoo in Winnipeg to see the buffalo. She simply said, "These are your relatives."
THE DESCENT OF (A) MAN On February 2, the Associated Press reported on an interview with Archbishop Gerhard Mueller in the German news magazine, Die Welt. Mueller is a German who heads the Congregation for the Doctine of the Faith formerly known as the Office of the Inquisition. Mueller, the Vatican's head of doctrine, says critics in North America and Europe are conducting a "concerted campaign" to discredit the Catholic Church that is resulting in open attacks against priests. He went so far as to liken this to the pogroms against Jews in Europe. This is a bizarre and contemptible comparison. In recent years, Catholic Church leaders have faced deserved criticism for their scandalous handling of sexual abuse cases and for their strident opposition to contraception, same-sex marriage and the ordination of women. Apparently men like this can give it but they can't take it.
MAN OH MAN In the "Vatican Letter" of January 31, reporter Francis X Rocca quotes the theologian of the papal household, Dominican Father Wojceich Giertych on why women cannot be ordained. He serves as the Pope's personal theologian and has daily contact with Benedict, a pope who is often bedecked in ermine trimmed and jeweled encrusted finery aping a Renaissance princeling in his city state. With a straight face he is quoted, "We are not free to invent the priesthood according to our own customs, according to our own expectations." Right.
Reflecting on differences between the sexes, Giertych suggested reasons that men are especially suited to the priesthood.
Men are more likely to think of God in terms of philosophical definitions and logical syllogisms, he said, a quality valuable for fulfilling a priest's duty to transmit church teaching. Although he concedes that the social and administrative aspects of church life are hardly off-limits to women, Giertych said priests love the church in a characteristically "male way" when they show concern "about structures, about the buildings of the church, about the roof of the church which is leaking, about the bishops' conference, about the concordat between the church and the state."
"Women have a special access to the heart of Jesus," he said, "in a very vivid way of approaching him, of touching him, of praying with him, of pouring ointment on his head, of kissing his feet...So women don't need the priesthood because their mission is so beautiful in the church anyway."
If this is the kind of philosophy and logic at work in the Vatican, well "Houston we have a problem." Such thinking might not be contemptible, but it is bizarre and unconvincing.
February 3, 2013
THOSE WHO LIVE BY THE SWORD...William James wrote the book, "The Varieties of Religious Experience," but I wonder if he could have imagined the varieties of Christianity in the United States. A Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association said the following: “If they decide that mental health are reasons to deny people their constitutional rights, it’s a short step from there to identifying us, Christians, genuine followers of Jesus Christ who believe the Bible and what it teaches … as mentally ill. Guns are going to be taken away from us.” Just what American family does he represent, the Manson family?
Thankfully he does not represent Catholic families. According to the revealing results of a survey released last week by the Public Religion Research Institute, 57 percent of white evangelicals live in homes where someone owns a gun compared, for example, with 31 percent of Catholics.
In fact, this is one area we can be proud of our bishops. Stephen Blaire, bishop of Stockton, California, who chairs U.S. Bishops Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, reacted to President Obama's January 16 proposal: "The bishops hope that the steps taken by the administration will help to build a culture of life. The frequent mass shootings over the course of 2012 reflected a tragic devaluing of human life, but also pointed to the moral duty of all people to take steps to defend it."
Bishop Blaire also recounted the five priorities made by the bishops in their 2000 statement, Responsibility, Rehabilitation and Restoration: A Catholic Perspective on Crime and Criminal Justice. These were: 1. Support measures that control the sale and use of firearms, 2. Support measures that make guns safer, 3. Call for sensible regulations of handguns, 4. Support legislative efforts that seek to protect society from violence associated with easy access to deadly weapons including assault rifles, and 5. Make a serious commitment to confront the pervasive role of addiction and mental illness in crime.
BISHOPS REDUX Last week in the bulletin I mentioned the traditional Catholic teaching that the local community should have a voice in the decision of who is to lead them. This week I received the following from Catholics Concerned for Church Reform (CCCR):
Dear Community of Catholics moving forward in the spirit of Vatican II,
The Council of the Baptized, in a position paper entitled People’s Participation in Selection of Bishops published yesterday, January 24, 2013, calls for active engagement by the laity in choosing their leaders. The role of bishop in the Catholic Church carries a lot of power and has an enormous effect on the spiritual life of the people. Actively engaged Catholics can have a voice in the leadership appointed for them by the Vatican if they communicate with the U.S. papal nuncio. That is the program CCCR is sponsoring. Given that the appointment of bishops is a secret process, we do not know when leadership will change. We need an on-going process to prepare for the future. Join us!
Read about the publication on The Progressive Catholic Voice website
(http://theprogressivecatholicvoice.blogspot.com/ ) You can also see profiles of some possible candidates for the role of bishop.
You can order a copy of the position paper, read it, or print it out for yourself at www.councilofthebaptized.org. Click on Publications and you will see the list in the left hand column.
January 27, 2013
MORE THAN CUCKOO CLOCKS There is a well known line from the classic film, "The Third Man," for which Graham Greene wrote the screenplay. Harry Lime, played by Orson Welles, compares the cultural achievements of Italy and Switzerland. He says that under the Borgias, Italy had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, 500 years of democracy and peace, and all they produced was the cuckoo clock. In fact, Greene loved Switzerland, living there much of his life and was even buried there. It turns out that Welles added the line. And cuckoo clocks don't come from Switzerland.anyway, they come from the German Black Forest. The Swiss did produce Hans Kung and many others with a passion for reform.
Actually my great grandmother emigrated from there and I too love the Swiss although unlike Michelle Bachmann I have not considered seeking dual citizenship. But I have another reason to love the Swiss. The London Tablet recently reported on a Swiss Benedictine abbot. Fifty-year-old Abbot Martin Werlen, leader of the Abbey of Einsiedeln gave a sermon on the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the Second Vatican Council in October. Titled “Discovering the Embers Under the Ashes,” it echoes remarks by Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini in his last interview before his death Aug. 31. Referring to the state of the church today, Martini spoke of his sense of powerlessness and how Catholicism’s “embers” were “hidden under the ashes.”
Werlen said he is alarmed by the present state of the church. “The situation of the church is dramatic, not only in the German-speaking countries,” he said. “It is dramatic not only because of the rapidly decreasing number of priests and religious or because of plummeting church attendance. The real problem is not a problem of numbers. What is missing is the fire! We must face the situation and find out what is behind it.” He stressed the need for reform beginning with local churches having more say in the appointment of bishops, recalling that religious orders have always elected their superiors democratically over the centuries.
Although this is a needed and long over due reform, it is also very traditional, going back to the Acts of the Apostles and the choosing of Matthias by the community. As a bishop in the year 200, St Cyprian spoke of the need for the consent of the people in choosing their bishop. One hundred years later, St. Celestine, the bishop of Rome, stated that bishops should not be given to those who do not accept them. Another pope, St Gregory, in the 5th century, said that the one who is to govern over all (as bishop), should be chosen by all. Indeed, the first bishop of the United States, John Carroll, was elected by his fellow priests. And dioceses in Switzerland retained the right to choose their own bishops until the last century.
Swiss cheese is known for its holes, but I find none in the Abbot's thinking.
A WARM WELCOME NEVERTHELESS Last Wednesday as the frigid temperatures continued our ever resourceful receptionist, Peggy Doerrie, was confronted with a frozen door chime. The sign she attached to the outside main door read: "The doorbell is NOT working due to extreme cold. Please knock loudly on glass."
January 20, 2013
THE GOOD BOOKS Although there is no constitutional requirement for the use of a Bible during the swearing-in, Presidents have traditionally used Bibles for the inauguration ceremony, choosing a volume with personal or historical significance. (Teddy Roosevelt had a Bible-free inauguration in 1901.) On January 21st, President Barack Obama will take the oath of office using three bibles. One is the Robinson family Bible which comes from Michelle Obama's family. The second is a personal Bible of Martin Luther King, Jr., which is usually on display at the Martin Luther King Museum in Atlanta. The third is the same Bible that Obama used at his first inauguration and which President Lincoln had used for his first inauguration. This Bible belongs to the Library of Congress. President Obama was the first President sworn in using the Lincoln Bible since its initial use in 1861.
The Lincoln Bible was originally purchased by William Thomas Carroll, Clerk of the Supreme Court, for use during Lincoln's swearing-in ceremony on March 4, 1861. (Lincoln's own family Bible, which is now also in the Library of Congress's collection, was unavailable for the Lincoln's inauguration because it was packed away with the family's belongings, still en route from Springfield, IL, to their new home at the White House.)
Annotated in the back of the volume, along with the Seal of the Supreme Court, is the following:
"I, William Thomas Carroll, clerk of the said court do hereby certify that the preceding copy of the Holy Bible is that upon which the Honble. R. B. Taney, Chief Justice of the said Court, administered to His Excellency, Abraham Lincoln, the oath of office as President of the United States..." Taney was the first Catholic Chief Justice. Although Taney himself freed his slaves well before the Emancipation Proclamation, he wrote the infamous Dred Scott decision which held that no person of African ancestry (whether slave or free) was protected by the Constitution and that they could not claim citizenship in the United States. And now for the second time, a person of African ancestry will use this same Bible to again promise to uphold that same Constitution.
For me this connects with another book that President Obama has said was influential in his development, "The Irony of American History," by Reinhold Niebuhr.
MINNESOTA'S INAUGURAL PRAYER CONNECTION Prior to President Franklin Roosevelt's second inauguration in 1937, there were no inaugural prayers. The only manifestation of religion in the ceremony was the use of a Bible for the swearing in-accompanied by the traditional (but not constitutionally mandated) phrase, "so help me God." Often the new president would kiss the Bible which Hoover did in 1929, but in 1933, Roosevelt did not. In 1937, Roosevelt did add the invocation
and benediction prayers. He chose Msgr. John A. Ryan to give the closing benediction.
Ryan was a priest of our Archdiocese and was the foremost proponent of social welfare policies in the American Catholic Church. He was such a national supporter of Roosevelt's policies that he became known as "The Right Reverend New Dealer." Ryan battled Father Charles Coughlin, the notorious Detroit priest whose increasingly anti-Roosevelt, anti-New Deal, and anti-Semitic rants were broadcast coast-to-coast on the radio. Another irony, Archbishop Nienstedt, also a priest of the Detroit Archdiocese, served for a short time as pastor of the Shrine of the Little Flower Parish where Coughlin recorded his radio broadcasts.
January 13, 2013
A MULIER FORTIS Tributes flowed in this past week for Sister of St Joseph, Marie de Paul Rochester, administrator for nearly 20 years at St. Joseph’s Hospital in St. Paul, included her deep connections to the city’s business community at a time when women CEOs were a rarity. Sr. Marie de Paul, who led the hospital from 1956 to 1965 and again from 1968 to 1978, died Dec. 26 at age 99.
Former state legislator, Joe O'Neill commented, “Just think of this woman running one of the largest business in St. Paul.” Among many accomplishments she was one of the first women to serve on a national bank board when she was named in the early 1970s to the board of the First National Bank of St. Paul. She was a “wonderful, considerate, compassionate leader,” O’Neill said, reflecting on “all the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet have done since they came to St. Paul” in the 1850s.
The church of course has some real issues with the status of women in its leadership. But this should not detract from the many Catholic women who have given much leadership especially in the areas of health care and education. Women religious have made tremendous contributions in these areas. Along the hallways of the University of Minnesota Medical School are class photos of graduates of their Health Care Administration graduate program. The program began in the 1940's and until the 1960 classes the only women in the photos were Catholic sisters. Sr. Marie de Paul Rochester was one of those trail blazers. A mulier fortis, a woman of strength.
SPEAKING OF HEALTH CARE The January 3rd issue of the New York Times had an interesting article by Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel on health care costs: “It is conventional wisdom that end-of-life care is an increasingly huge proportion of health care spending. I've often heard it said that people spend more on health care in the year before they die than they do in the entire rest of their lives. If we don't address these costs, the story goes, we can never control health care inflation. Wrong. Here are the real numbers. The roughly 6 percent of Medicare patients who die each year do make up a large proportion of Medicare costs: 27 to 30 percent. But this figure has not changed significantly in decades. And the total number of Americans, not just older people, who die every year — less than 1 percent of the population — account for much less of total health care spending, just 10 to 12 percent.”
Nevertheless, the growing use of hospice does offer real promise in reducing unnecessary spending and suffering in the face of all the remarkable interventions that modern medicine offers to prolong the dying process. As the Affordable Care Act attempted to offer, we do need to discuss with our physicians our wishes for end of life care. And in speaking about our health care, talk is cheap.
January 6, 2013
STUDY: HAPPINESS IS HAVING FRIENDS AT CHURCH Archbishop Nienstedt graciously sent me a Christmas gift, a book titled "Why Priests are Happy." After reading it I am still unable to determine whether priests are indeed among the most happy people in the country as the author states. However, I did find myself laughing quite a bit.
More seriously, there is good research that attending religious services regularly and having close friends in the congregation are key to having a happier, more satisfying life. That's the key finding of a study released in the December 2010 issue of the American Sociological Review.
Numerous studies have shown that religious people report a higher level of well-being compared with the non-religious, says Chaeyoon Lim, an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Wisconsin and lead author of the study. But what aspect of religiousness — church attendance, prayer, theology or spirituality — accounts for this level of life satisfaction has been unclear.
Lim's study finds that when people with similar levels of church attendance are compared, the key factors determining happiness are the social aspect of religion and a shared religious connection built around identity and belonging.
Lim says that "90% of the correlation between church attendance and life satisfaction can be explained if you have these close interactions."
For the study, Lim and co-author Robert Putnam analyzed data collected during 2006 and 2007 as part of the Faith Matters Study, a nationwide survey of a representative sample of adults. The survey, examining the various ways that religion affects American society, is the focus of the recently released book American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us by Putnam and David Campbell.
According to the findings on religion and life satisfaction, 33% of people who attend religious services every week and have three to five close friends in their congregation report being "extremely satisfied" with their lives. The study also finds that 15% of weekly church attendees said they had no close friends at church, and people who say they participate in private religious practices, such as services held at home, were no happier than those who never attend congregational services.
The importance of congregational connectedness to life satisfaction is in line with research conducted by Nancy Ammerman, Professor of Sociology of Religion at Boston University.
"There's a high trust level in congregations," Ammerman says. "The ability to call on people for social support is very high, even if the people are not necessarily the people you'd call your best friends."
I find these findings very much inline with my own personal experience. It is in giving that we receive.
December 30, 2012
A NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTION One of the ongoing needs in our communities is for blood donations. Locally, the Memorial Blood Bank and the Red Cross staff a number of offices and blood mobiles for donations. For me this has become even more convenient. The Memorial Blood Bank's central office is just a few blocks away from Cabrini. You can get information about donating at www.redcross.org and http://www.memorialbloodcenters.org/.
What a great way to start the New Year or to make the year 2013 very special for both the giver and the many who benefit from this gift of life. Donors must be at least 17 but there is no longer an upper age limit which means that even I can donate.
NEW YEAR 2013
O God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to come…
We mark and measure out our lives
along earth’s orbit round the sun:
this many moons, that many days,
and one full year begins again.
We count up centuries and seasons,
calling years by numbered names.
And annually we welcome back
spring flowers in the greening woods,
mid-summer’s long, gold days,
the smell of autumn leaves at dusk,
and soft new snowflakes on our outstretched hands.
Years come, years go.
Our span of life under the sun
can be counted only when it is done.
Till then, between the bells and stars
it finds its length of time:
longer than vanishing tones of struck brass,
shorter than vast light years of galaxies and space.
Yet, life’s length is not its measure or its hope.
Such things come from God alone.
I am the Alpha and the Omega, says Our God,
Who is and who was and who is to come…
Immanuel, God-with-us, our hope forevermore. Amen.
December 23, 2012
IT CAME UPON A TEXT SO CLEAR Yes the first greetings of Christmas came from on high with the message of the angels and it has been downhill from there. However, this Christmas we have the glad tidings that we also are celebrating the 20th anniversary of the first text message which happened to be, "Merry Christmas."
According to the Smithsonian magazine blog, "the first text was sent two decades ago, on December 3, 1992, by a software engineer named Neil Papworth. He texted the director of Vodafone, Richard Jarvis, who got the words Merry Christmas delivered to his Orbitel 901—a giant clunking phone compared to today’s cell phones."
CNN reported about the considerable growth in texting since that fateful day: "Six billion SMS (short message service) messages are sent every day in the United States, according to Forrester Research, and over 2.2 trillion are sent a year. Globally, 8.6 trillion text messages are sent each year, according to Portio Research."
Whether by angelic means, traditional holiday cards, email or texting, the message goes forth: MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL.
YEAR OF MATTHEW KELLY This should be the Year of Vatican II since the council of that name began 50 years ago on October 11, 1962. But Pope Benedict prefers to call this time the Year of Faith and he has focused instead on the 20th anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Dioceses throughout the world are to have this focus. However, here in the Archdiocese we will have a Year of Matthew Kelly. Who? What? Matthew Kelly is a motivational speaker from Australia. He has built up a very lucrative corporate business. He is using these skills to market his understanding of Catholicism by such means as writing a book, "Rediscovering Catholicism."
Archbishop Nienstedt has committed the Archdiocese to Kelly's program. Kelly himself has flown in a number of times for meetings with priests and selected parishioners. He will be coming back for large group seminars and motivational talks throughout the year. One of the main features is the distribution at all parishes of the "Rediscovering Catholicism" book at the Christmas masses. There is no direct cost for these books. We have already received our shipment and they will be available on Christmas. There will also be a website, iPhone and Android applications, a speakers' series and book clubs. An Archdiocesan spokesperson said the evangelizing effort comes as part of a 2010 strategic plan, and is unrelated to the marriage amendment.
I will be interested in your comments. Anyway, it will be Matthew Kelly time.
SIMPLY CATHOLIC As we go about rediscovering Catholicism we might take heart from the example of Bishop Walter Sullivan, the former head of the Richmond, Virginia, Diocese who died last week. He was a progressive church leader who reached out to minorities, found a greater role for women, opened his churches to gays and lesbians, condemned wars and spoke against the death penalty. In an interview with the Associated Press in 2003 he said it best, "The word Catholic means there's room for everyone. We are united in our different cultures by our common faith." No need to send out books, these simple and sincere words should go out to our current church leaders.
JESUS SAVES - STYROFOAM? In the 60's the word given to Dustin Hoffman by Mr Robinson was "plastics." It was too successful. Thankfully today most plastics can be recycled. However, what about styrofoam? There is limited recycling for this pervasive packaging product and even the local recycling centers counsel tossing it into the garbage where it will be landfilled for next to eternity. Thankfully, one recycler, Diversified Products, in Rockford, Minnesota, refabricates styrofoam into home insulation. In reparation for Christmas excess we will be collecting your CLEAN styrofoam at church. Drop it off at the office. By the way, "peanuts" can be recycled at most mailing stores.
December 16, 2012
STATEMENT BY FR ROY BOURGEOIS ABOUT HIS EXCOMMUNICATION BY VATICAN
Nov. 20, 2012
I have been a Catholic priest in the Maryknoll community for 40 years. As a young man I joined Maryknoll because of its work for justice and equality in the world. To be expelled from Maryknoll and the priesthood for believing that women are also called to be priests is very difficult and painful.
The Vatican and Maryknoll can dismiss me, but they cannot dismiss the issue of gender equality in the Catholic Church. The demand for gender equality is rooted in justice and dignity and will not go away.
As Catholics, we profess that God created men and women of equal worth and dignity. As priests, we profess that the call to the priesthood comes from God, only God. Who are we, as men, to say that our call from God is authentic, but God's call to women is not? The exclusion of women from the priesthood is a grave injustice against women, our Church and our loving God who calls both men and women to be priests.
When there is an injustice, silence is the voice of complicity. My conscience compelled me to break my silence and address the sin of sexism in my Church. My only regret is that it took me so long to confront the issue of male power and domination in the Catholic Church.
I have explained my position on the ordination of women, and how I came to it, in my booklet, My Journey from Silence to Solidarity. Please go to: www.roybourgeoisjourney.org.
Roy's 99 year old father, Roy Sr, died 2 weeks later.
GETTING THEIR IRISH UP On December 7, the National Catholic Reporter noted that the Association of Catholic Priests of Ireland, a group that represents a quarter of Ireland’s Catholic priests issued a statement in support of Roy Bourgeois, a former US Maryknoll priest who had been dismissed from the clerical state at the behest of the Vatican’s Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith.
The statement read in part: “Dismissing people because they have sincerely held views that are contrary to those of the Vatican, but which are widely shared by the Catholic faithful, will not end discussion and debate on these topics.”
As of now no group of United States priests have made any such statement of support.
December 9, 2012
A STAR RISING IN THE EAST 2000 years ago an astronomical event caused magi from the East to begin a hard journey. People still look to the skies. This December the planet Jupiter, the bringer of Jollity, rises in the Eastern sky at sunset and then stays out all night long. And in the south-southeast before dawn Saturn, Venus and Mercury line up. Wonder still surrounds us as the shepherds knew long ago.
MORAL VOICES ON THE FISCAL SHOWDOWN
This is what some prominent faith leaders are saying about the fiscal showdown:
Rabbi David Saperstein, Director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, Washington, D.C.:
It is simply not acceptable that deficit reduction might increase the burden on those struggling the most in our communities. It is intolerable that debt reduction should come on the backs of the poorest among us, that it increases poverty or inequality.
Rev. Geoffrey Black, General Minister and President, UCC, Cleveland, Ohio:
The truth is that this deficit is the result of inadequate revenue, rising military spending, and a recession that has pushed more people into poverty. Families struggling at the economic margins should not pay the price for solving a deficit they did not create. They have suffered enough. We must act in the best tradition of religious values and American compassion by seeking a solution that does not push the poor and vulnerable over the fiscal cliff!
Sister Deborah Troillett, RSM, Institute Leadership Team, Sisters of Mercy, Little Rock, Arkansas:
We don’t have a budget crisis in this country. We have a values crisis, a priorities crisis. We as religious, call on our country’s leaders to not push the most marginalized peoples off the ‘fiscal cliff,’ but rather to uphold the values that are at the heart of our national strength: compassion, fairness, and treating every life on this precious earth of ours with dignity and reverence.
Rev. Dr. George Cummings and Rev. Heyward Wiggins, III, Co-Chairs of the PICO National Network:
As people of faith, we encourage you to recall the words of the prophet Isaiah, ‘Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless.’ Preserving ineffective tax cuts for the wealthy while cutting programs for the most vulnerable amongst us fulfills these criteria of injustice.
Jesuit Conference Statement on Taxes and the Fiscal Cliff:
When faced with the choice of preserving essential services or preserving tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans, the moral choice is clear. The Jesuit Conference of the United States supports a tax system that seeks more from the economically prosperous because doing so is a fiscally sound and equitable means to balance the budget.
TRUE CONFESSION We just had another big multi-state lottery. I have never bought a Powerball ticket. It’s in my genes. My parents were never big on gambling. But I first became aware of gambling's devastating addictiveness as a newly ordained priest. A wonderful and talented parishioner had a compulsive need to bet on the ponies and in doing so he lost his job, his home and almost his family. I became concerned and attended numerous workshops and seminars on the social and personal scourge of gambling. I am now most concerned about government using this as a major source of financing.
As financial advisor Zac Bissonnette writes: "It’s only a couple dollars and it’s fun to dream, blah blah blah blah blah. But here’s what you’re supporting when you buy a lottery ticket: You’re supporting a system in which the government uses extremely aggressive mass marketing targeted at society’s most vulnerable citizens to extract money they can’t afford in exchange for false hope."
According to a study from the University of Georgia an individual without a high school degree or GED is more than four times as likely to be an active lottery player as an individual who has an education above the high school level.”
December 2, 2012
A THANKSGIVING MESSAGE I received the following message for Thanksgiving:
I just read your bulletin which included the story of Cabrini's support for Lennon (Cihak) who was denied the sacrament of Confirmation as retaliation for his expressing opposition to the 'marriage amendment'. Bravo for Cabrini!!
A substitute priest at... a couple weeks ago had a message in his homily that I found hopeful; as we greeted him after Mass I thanked him & said "Your words today may have helped me to remain a Catholic for at least another week. It is becoming increasingly difficult for me to do that." His reply was intended to be supportive, I'm sure; he said "Focus on the sacraments."
Not only have the hierarchy become irrelevant to me, but their misuse of the sacraments as a kind of 'weapon' totally demeans what was meant to be a source of strength & spirituality to the faithful. Denial of Eucharist in an attempt to bring politicians into line; refusal of Confirmation to a teenager brave enough to declare his conscience-guided views despite their differing from those of our misguided bishops; and now revoking Holy Orders from a dedicated priest, Fr. Roy Bourgeosis, M.M., with an outstanding record of advocacy for the disadvantaged -- each time they do this our hierarchy drives more of us out of the institutional church.
The part of all this I am truly thankful for on this Thanksgiving Day is that these travesties are being EXPOSED as they never were in the past! I expect the decades ahead will be painful but hopefully we are moving in the right direction...
IF THOMAS AQUINAS HAD YOUTUBE Comedian and talk show host, Steve Allen, had a TV series, "Meeting of Minds," from 1977 to 1981 featuring guests (played by actors) who played significant roles in world history. The guests would interact with each other and host Steve Allen, discussing philosophy, religion, history, science, and many other topics. One memorable show involved Thomas Aquinas where Steve told him of the recent invention of the PC computer. Thomas was overwhelmed at how much data could be so accessible. Thomas himself had to undergo hazardous travel to remote monastic libraries to search out rare manuscripts. And now imagine if Aquinas had the internet.
I thought of this as I received an email about a Youtube video of a speech by Robert Mickens, the well regarded Vatican correspondent for the London Tablet, an international English Catholic weekly news magazine. It is a thought provoking talk on the coming Vatican "implosion" by one who is at ground zero. Go to www.youtube.com and enter Robert Mickens City Club of Cleveland, it was given just a week ago on November 16.
CRETIN AVENUE EXIT? Metropolitan University Social Sciences Professor Thomas O'Connell,
along with co-author Tom Beer, were awarded the Solon J. Buck Award for best article of 2011 in Minnesota History magazine by the Minnesota Historical Society on Thursday, November 15. The article, "Father Francis Gilligan and the Struggle for Civil Rights," appeared in the summer 2011 issue of the magazine, and was cited for its "thorough, thoughtful exploration of the topic, showing the interplay between the personal and political aspects of the story, as well as placing the story in the broader context of its time."
Father Gilligan was revered as a labor priest and built coalitions among groups too often marginalized. Oh yes, he was also the long time pastor of St Mark’s. At the time of the planning for Interstate 94, he led the fight against having the freeway exit at Cleveland Avenue fearing for the St Mark’s school children facing such heavy traffic roaring off the exit. He had more clout than the Town and Country Golf Course bordering Cretin Avenue. Better a golf shot be disturbed than a child injured.
November 25, 2012
THE MARRIAGE AMENDMENT STILL CAUSING HARM A news story this past week concerned a Barnesville, Minnesota teen who was denied the sacrament of confirmation because he wrote on Facebook that he supports gay marriage. 17 year old Lennon Cihak was supposed to be confirmed Sunday, November 11, at Barnesville's Assumption Catholic Church. But the pastor learned about the Facebook post and notified the family that Lennon could not be confirmed. In fact, the entire family has been asked not to continue receiving communion at the parish. Lennon's mother, Shana, appealed her son's case to the Crookston Diocese Bishop Michael Hoeppner, but was denied.
Last Sunday 279 parishioners at Cabrini signed a card for Lennon. It said: "Our parish community wants to support you and your family, Lennon. The church has a traditional teaching about baptism of desire when a person is unable to be physically baptized. You are an example of the confirmation of desire. And you are Spirit filled. God bless you."
A DIFFERENT KIND OF VATICAN COVER UP On a regular basis the words of my first pastor, Ambrose Hayden, come back to me. He was a wise and kind man and served in many ways including as Vicar General of the Archdiocese and the long term rector of the Cathedral. While at the Cathedral he brought in some wonderful Sisters of St Joseph to lead the pastoral care ministries. They soon began wearing secular dress and some parishioners complained. I overheard him tell one complainant, "I never tell women what to wear."
Ambrose is needed at the Vatican. A recent internal memo prohibits the clergy from wearing secular dress and imposes the return to the cassock. Including for bishops visiting Rome. And for ceremonies in the presence of the pope or during official meetings in the Roman curia: "abito piano," or cassock with cape, for priests, embroidered cassock for monsignors, and cassock with embroidered cape (called a "pellegrina") for bishops and cardinals.
Believe it or not the directive was issued by the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Bertone at the behest of the Pope. You would think that there are more important concerns facing them. Bertone concludes his letter, "I gladly take this opportunity to confirm my distinct and heartfelt respects," although telling adults how to dress seems less than respectful. And he concludes, ..."most devoted in the Lord," the same Lord who somehow overlooked dress codes other than taking one staff and one cloak.
As far as the Pope's own apparel, he has, or rather, had, a butler.
November 18, 2012
STILL ASCENDING Last week after my letter in the Strib the following Facebook entry was posted by a former altar server who went on to Notre Dame. He appreciated my opposition to the marriage amendment. It brought back a lovely memory from 25 years ago. "The very first time I stepped foot in the Cathedral of St. Paul was on a fifth grade field trip - led by Father Mike. Ironically, we started the day at the State Capitol, where we climbed a few steps to observe the legislators from the Senate Gallery. Later, Father Mike insisted we all climb even more stairs at the Cathedral - to the heights of the choir loft. It was an awesome ascent...one that has come full circle." I drove the school bus for that trip and thankfully have kept up my license.
OBAMA CARES FOR CABRINI Our parish administrator, Pete Eichten, keeps handing me papers to sign. Usually they are checks or bills. A happy exception took place this past week when he gave me IRS form 990-T, for Tax Exempt Organization Tax Returns. As a rule churches pay no federal tax but filing this allows us to receive a $5,505 credit for the health care insurance we provide to our employees. The president made sure that non profits would get this wonderful benefit. The president who has also greatly increased funding for Catholic Charities programs across our nation deserves the gratitude of all pastors and bishops.
SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT The Monday before the election I was a participant in a discussion on the 2 amendments on the ballot before a group of young foreign journalists brought to the University of Minnesota Journalism Center by the U S State Department's Murrow Fellowship program. I found them incredibly impressive. A few identified themselves as Catholic and (heterosexually) married, and contrary to the allegations from a speaker supporting the proposed marriage amendment they said that their countries had no "chaos" after allowing same sex unions. Most interesting was a young Turkish woman. She said that she was Muslim and that she saw no reason in Islam to be against same sex unions. She went on to say that in her understanding the whole of the Koran comes down to, "use your intelligence." A beautiful reminder that Thomas Aquinas received Aristotle through the muslim philosopher, Averroes.
November 11, 2012
OPEN LETTER TO ARCHBISHOP NIENSTEDT As a priest of the Archdiocese I would ask you, Archbishop John Nienstedt, to prayerfully consider stepping down from your office. It would be healing for our state and our church and would show some magnanimity on your part. Your misguided crusade to change our constitution, spending over a million dollars and more importantly much good will, has been rejected. You have acted as a political player. Elections have consequences.
THE COURAGE OF YOUR CONVICTIONS A week before the election I debated Pastor Jerry McAfee who was in favor of voting yes on the marriage amendment. The show was distributed on state radio stations. Bill Werner the moderator opened with the following statement, I highlight one interesting part.
Before we begin this debate, it's important to say who's participating and who's not, and why. Because the Catholic Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis has been a major force in the political push to pass the amendment, we requested that Archbishop John Neinstedt (sic) appear on this program. A spokesman for the Archdiocese indicated that would not be likely and referred us to the Minnesota Catholic Conference. We reiterated our request there that a member of the clergy, preferably a bishop, participate in our debate. We were referred to the group Minnesota for Marriage, the major voice in support of the amendment in the political sphere. They agreed to provide a spokesperson for the debate, as did Minnesotans United for All Families, the most visible group opposing the marriage amendment...
... When we informed them which clergy member would be debating in opposition to the amendment, a spokeswoman for Minnesota for Marriage indicated they "will not be able to participate" if that person remained in the speaker lineup. We indicated we would proceed with the debate and it would remain open to them if they chose to reconsider, but we have not heard from them -- and so we move forward.
A NEW ADVENT TRADITION We associate pancakes with Lent, how about Indian Tacos with Advent? Yes, after the 1st mass of the Advent Season, following the 5 PM mass on Saturday, December 1, the Gichitwaa Kateri parish taco team will be serving Indian Tacos in the lower level social hall. Fry bread will also be available for take out. If you are not into tacos, prairie dogs are also available. Try one of each. The funds raised help us go to the national Tekakwitha Conference for American Indian Catholics.
HOSPITAL COMMUNION MINISTERS NEEDED There is a need for volunteers to serve as Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion for patients at Abbott Northwestern Hospital and Minneapolis Children's Hospital. The need is especially great on Sundays, but there are openings in the schedule for some weekday as well. Abbott Northwestern volunteers assist on Sunday mornings, so those who occasionally worship in their parishes on Saturday or Sunday evenings might be more available to help during those hours. The hospitals serve patients and families, many of whom are far away from their home parish communities. These visits are important to them during often stressful or fearful times. The hospital volunteer offices provide the required training and orientations. For further information or directions about application process, contact Fr. John Hofstede (612-863-4880 voice mail) or e-mail him at John.Hofstede@allina.com. If you provide a daytime pone number, he can connect with you with information.
November 4, 2012
WHAT JESUS WOULD AND WOULD NOT DO I recently received this powerful letter which needs to be heard by our church leaders:
Dear Father Tegeder,
My name is Ernie Otto. I am the brother that Roy and Annie talked about at lunch the other day. The following is our (my wife, Barbara, shared this experience with me) experience that led to our leaving the Catholic Church.
Our youngest son, Thomas, is gay. Tom came out to us when he was a sophomore in high school.
At the time Tom came out, he was active in the St. Andrew’s youth group, and was the youth member to the Parish Council. After Tom came out, it seemed as though he was not welcome any longer with the youth group or the Council, or at least it seemed that way to us.
We decided not to leave at that time because we thought we could change the church by working for reform in our parish, diocese, etc.
In a few short years, we were empty nesters and moved from Elk River to Coon Rapids. We attended Epiphany Catholic Church in Coon Rapids. Our pastor was Father Reiser and he was a good pastor. We soon became involved at the parish. Then one day Epiphany got a new associate pastor, Father ______. We, Barb and I, thought nothing about this as we had little contact with him.
Then …the Sunday after Brian Coyle died from AIDS, Father ______ got up to preach and the first words out of his mouth were, “we all know where Brian Coyle went after he died” and then proceeded to gay bash. We, Barb and I, got up and walked out of church. I wrote a letter to Father Reiser and expressed our feelings that we had about that sermon. If I remember correctly, I said something about getting the feeling that Father ______ was urging the congregation to go find a pail of rocks and stand on a street corner and stone every gay that walked by.
Being the good pastor that he was, Father Reiser visited us and was supportive. He said that he would talk to Father ______. Father Reiser even used Barb to help one of the women in the congregation that was dealing with a gay son and an un-accepting father.
A little while later, I was involved in selling script after Mass. At that time, one of the places that we were selling script for was contributing to Planned Parenthood. There were a number of parishioners involved in getting the script removed from the script sales. (I did not agree with this action.) A few Sundays later, I was selling script and a woman came up to the table and said, “We finally got rid of (whatever the company was) now we have to get rid of AT&T.” I asked why. She replied, “They support the gay games.” I saw red. I had a difficult time controlling my temper, but finished my shift and went home. (It seems as though the “right to life” people fight to get you born, but if you do not fit the mold they want you in, you are unwelcome.) I told Barb what happened and we both made a decision to leave the church. It seems that ever since the Father ______ incident, we were going to church looking for a fight and it was not worth staying. I even wrote a letter to Bishop Roach telling him why we left the church and would no longer honor our diocesan pledge. I did not get a reply.
Father Reiser visited us again and tried to talk us into staying. One of his main arguments was that we would miss the “Presence”. (We found it difficult to see the “Presence” when we could not see the presence in the actions of the church.)
We have moved on. We are active and involved in the United Church of Christ. We have been in three different UCC churches and have not had to look very hard to see the Presence. Although, going back 17 years and re-living those times has managed to make me feel the anger/hurt all over again. (Roy asked me to write a couple of paragraphs. You see how carried away I got.)
Father you may use any or all portions of our experience. We do not have a problem with you using our names.
Barb and I appreciate the work that you do to try to keep the Catholic Church open and available to all people, to trying to keep the doors of Vatican II open. We wish you well in your work.
Barb and Ernie Otto
VOICE OF THE FAITHFUL Statement: Voting & Conscience In response to the organized efforts of the U.S. bishops to define a single permissible "Catholic" position on election issues this year, Voice of the Faithful issued the following statement:
All Catholics have a primary responsibility to act according to their consciences. Not the conscience of a bishop. Not the conscience of a parish priest. Not the consciences of neighbors or family members or employers or friends. You own conscience. You are answerable to God for your own actions. No one else's.
October 28, 2012
HEY, YOU TALKIN TO ME? Yes I am. Next Sunday, November 4, Gichitwaa Kateri celebrates a special Memorial Mass at the American Indian Center right down Franklin Avenue where it intersects with Bloomington Avenue commemorating all those who died the past year whose wakes and funerals were held at Kateri. We conclude with a special meal. Volunteers are needed to help that morning with the food preparation, set up and clean up. If you can help please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call my voicemail at 612-339-3023 , ext 111.
It is a very moving ceremony using traditional medicines, drumming and Ojibwe hymns, and you are invited to bring pictures of loved ones you would like remembered.
WATER BOYS Megan Boldt in the Pioneer Press reported, “Ousted state Senate Republican insider and communications strategist, Michael Brodkorb, says "GOP leaders put the proposed marriage amendment on the Minnesota ballot this fall not to protect family values but to drive social conservatives to the polls. … " MPR radio then recently reported that the Republican sponsors of the amendment legislation are not themselves actively campaigning on the issue. These cynical pols are letting the Catholic bishops carry the water.
By the way, Mr. Brodkorb's lawsuit against his former state senate Republican masters is costing state taxpayers hundreds of thousand dollars. The irony reaches to high heaven. Mr. Brodkorb was fired by his Republican employers for having an on going extramarital affair with the former Republican president of the Senate, ex-Senator Amy Koch. Koch who joined her then fellow Republican senators in supporting the amendment to the state constitution "to protect marriage," is now divorced and forced out of the senate by her erstwhile Republican cronies. Protecting marriage is no easy matter.
There is also a very sad, even scandalous, connection with the Republican promoted Voter Suppression Amendment. Up until this past year the Minnesota Catholic Conference (MCC) had a bipartisan, consistent and public stance against any voter I D legislation or amendment. The MCC is the lobbying arm of the Minnesota Catholic bishops who are the major force carrying out the Republican sponsored effort to enact the marriage limitation amendment. This year the MCC executive director, Jason Adkins in contrast to the leaders of Catholic Charities and other religious organizations has been surprisingly quiet about Voter I D. In fact, when questioned he states that MCC has a "neutral" stance on this amendment. Pontius Pilate like, he washes his hands of it. Water boys indeed.
A SOLUTION WORTHY OF A PRINCE GROOM OR A PRINCE BISHOP Last weekend the marriage took place of the crown prince of Luxembourg, Guillaume, and his wife, Countess Stephane de Lannoy of Belgium. I was not invited. But the newspaper articles noted that it was a 2 day event. First they had the civil ceremony at the Luxembourg City Hall and the next day they had a Catholic wedding ceremony in the Cathedral.
This separation of civil and sacramental marriage is the norm in Europe. Note that the European bishops do not spend much time trying to alter their ruling constitutions, many of which allow civil marriage or civil unions for same sex couples. Marriage is also a many splendored thing..
October 21, 2012
HELP, I NEED SOMEBODY, HELP, NOT JUST ANYBODY The Beatles said it well. Sunday, November 4, Gichitwaa Kateri celebrates a special Memorial Mass at the American Indian Center on Franklin Avenue commemorating all those who died the past year whose wakes and funerals were held at Kateri. We conclude with a special meal. Volunteers are needed to help that morning with the food preparation and set up. If you can help please email me at email@example.com or call my voicemail at 612-339-3023, ext 111.
TRUE LOVE As we approach the election with the ballot on the constitutional amendments I have been thinking of a 2 day wake that I had at my other parish, Gichitwaa Kateri, a month ago. The deceased was only a year older than myself. He had had a hard life. There but for the grace of God go I. Some family members attended but many street people stopped and said what a good friend he was. His partner of 28 years is a transgendered person. She spent the full 2 days at the wake. No constitutional amendment will change the nature of their commitment.
HAPPY TRAILS TO YOU Some of you know that I am currently the president of the board of the Parks and Trails Council of Minnesota (www.parksandtrails.org). In addition to supporting our great state parks and trails we sponsor "Trails" magazine which is published seasonally 4 times a year. It alone is worth the modest membership. Here is my column for the Winter issue:
Boozhoo! I use the Ojibwe greeting because this year is a special time to educate ourselves and appreciate more the rich American Indian heritage of our state. Our state's name itself is derived from the Dakota language. Many Minnesotans see our wonderful state parks and trails as recreational resources. But our parks in particular are incredible places for cultural and historical exploration. Most importantly, our state parks and trails are powerful places illustrating that this is still deeply Indian country.
This year is the 150th anniversary of the Dakota War. This is a foundational reality for our state. The Star Tribune recently had a 6 part series on this event and its ongoing impact, "In the Footsteps of Little Crow." This should be required reading for us all. Many of the sites connected to this are preserved in the state parks and historical sites along the Minnesota River valley. It can make for a powerful day taking this journey. Fort Snelling State Park is a place for profound contemplation on how the Dakota and other Indian people have suffered grave injustices but also a testament to their continued presence.
But the greater reality the parks point to is how great has been the Indian contribution to the development of our state. Begin with the great trading station at Grand Portage State Park. Indian people have contributed much to the economic growth of this area; Kathio State Park's archaeological history points to vibrant, populous Dakota communities going back a millennium and beyond. The Ojibwe now living close by keep alive the vibrant traditions in the park. The now abandoned town of Crow Wing can be rediscovered at the same named state park. Talk to the park rangers and naturalists and learn about Chief Hole in the Day and other great Indian leaders who lived here. The buffalo herd at Blue Mounds S.P. attests to the centrality of this magnificent animal to a sustainable way of living.
"Minnesota is a Dakota place," this is from the new book, "Mni Sota Makoce: The Land of the Dakota." The Dakota phrase means "land where the waters reflect the clouds." This place we now call home also reflects deeply the Indian reality of this beloved land. And Indian values are ever more essential to living well on this earth.
Professor Darlene St. Clair (Iyekiyapiwin) says it well, "We are living, learning, and working in a particular place with a long, fascinating, troubling, and frequently unknown story." Our state parks are essential in that quest of discovery.
THE 2ND AMENDMENT No, I am not talking about the right to bear arms although there is reason to be up in arms over the second proposed amendment to our Minnesota constitution which in effect restricts the right to vote. I have previously mentioned 2 occasions this summer when I helped others get the proper state I D. It is not easy. Especially as it requires your current address on it.
An odd aspect of this concerns American Indians in Minnesota. If they are enrolled tribal members they are issued a tribal I D. This I D is considered legal identification. Indeed, this summer when I attended the National Indian Ministry conference in upstate New York I crossed the Canadian border to visit the tomb of Saint (that sounds good) Kateri Tekakwitha near Montreal. To enter Canada I needed a U S passport. One of my fellow travelers had only her tribal I D and that was sufficient. Under the proposed amendment the tribal I D is not proper identification.
There is a very painful history of how Indians have been recognized in their own country. It was only in 1934 that the Indian Citizenship Act granted full U.S. citizenship to America's indigenous peoples. Now our state constitution if amended will take away some of their legal rights to vote as citizens.with what the U S government considers valid proof of identity.
October 14, 2012
DENTENTION PEN AT UST LAW SCHOOL Last Sunday I received this email from the Executive Director of the Minnesota Catholic Campaign:
Monday's MN Catholic Conference event
Sun 10/7/2012 12:31 PM
From: Jason Adkins
I have been informed that you wish to attend tomorrow's event at the UST School of Law.
You are welcome to attend, but there are some ground rules, given your past instances of rudely disrupting events.
1. You will sit where I tell you to sit, and if you refuse, you will be escorted out by UST security.
2. If you disrupt the event in any way, or speak out of turn, I will direct university security to remove you.
So, those are the rules. With that understanding, I hope you find the event informative.
Best wishes, Jason Adkins
The time line for the event registration is significant. I rsvp'd some weeks ago and received a confirmation. It was Sunday afternoon, the day before the event, that Mr. Adkins sent me his demeaning and intimidating email. I caught the email on a busy Sunday and responded:
You obviously do not mean to send me your best wishes. In fact, you want me to go quietly away with your demeaning email.
However, this is the invitation that was sent to me:
Peace be with you. I wanted to invite you to attend a special Minnesota Catholic Conference event, which will take place on Monday, October 8 at the University of St. Thomas School of Law, from 9:30 a.m.-11:45 a.m.
It is entitled, “What the future looks like if marriage in Canada is redefined—a Canadian perspective.” We are delighted to be hosting Archbishop Terrence Prendergast of Ottawa, Ontario, as well as other Canadian, who will share their experiences on social and legal developments in Canada, particularly in the area of religious liberty and education, since marriage was redefined there.
I think you will find the event informative and engaging. Please also encourage your parishioners to attend. An informational flyer is attached.
The event is free, but an RSVP is required to firstname.lastname@example.org<mailto:email@example.com> or 612-788-4675 .
I accepted the invitation and plan to attend. I plan to sit with some other friends in attendance. If there is a Question Time and I have a question I will take advantage of the opportunity. I know that you are afraid of open discussion but this is a law school after all.
When I showed up on my threatening bicycle on Monday morning the MCC staff refused to let me stay in the building, with one of the MCC staff using the famous 60's saying, "move along." During the opening presentations I simply knelt at the outside entrance for about 40 minutes. It was actually a prayerful time. A number of UST staff including security came up and gave me their support. One staff person in fact told me that her mother was in the process of joining Cabrini.
A law school professor relayed to me that many students were upset about the event being held there and told me, "What rotten treatment you got!" I think that is a legal term of art.
Professor Theresa Collett who appears omnipresent throughout the Archdiocese as the legal apologist supporting the amendment to limit marriage rights walked by and said she was surprised to see me there. I told her I was surprised that she is at the Law School (having been picked up at least twice for driving under the influence of alcohol).
UST President, Father Dennis Dease, present for a trustees' meeting, walked by and was surprised to see me kneeling on the sidewalk. We had a pleasant conversation and he was concerned by how the event was being staged. The Security staff then let me in and listen from the balcony with some of the students. At the end of the event I was able to talk constructively with some of the MCC staff and think that they let go of some of their fears and misunderstandings. Nothing rude or disrupting. Then off on my bicycle my brains safely protected by my helmet if not by my local Ordinary.
October 7, 2012
SOLIDARITY SUNDAY If I recall right, Pope John Paul asked forgiveness in a formal setting for things that "the Church" had done 86 times. With regard to how the Church (our leaders) have in the years since JP II treated the GLBT community, 86 is just the tip of the iceberg. Here at Cabrini we are celebrating Solidarity Sunday beginning mass as we always do, with a penitential rite. Our parish liturgist, Chris Kosowski, says that Solidarity Sunday "is a weekend to say explicitly what we hope to convey EVERY weekend in some way -- that ALL are welcome here, and on this weekend we make that welcome deliberate and explicit regarding gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender folks (and some have said they appreciate when the words are spoken or spelled out, rather than just using the acronym GLBT)."
WHILE WE STILL HAVE A PULSE What would you do if you were the bishop of the largest diocese in Brazil by land mass, an area greater than the size of Minnesota, with only 30 priests for 900 parishes and 600,000 parishioners? That is the situation of Bishop Erwin Krautler, bishop of Xingu, where most parishes have mass just 3 or 4 times a year. Krautler, in a rare recent example of episcopal common sense, proposes a discussion on the right of the people to the Eucharist. As reported in the June 16 issue of The Tablet, "I say they have [the right], and the Church in the spirit of the council must think of something. I suggest a survey of all the world's bishops. Talk to the priests, the religious, the laity. Then a body would be formed, with and under the Pope, to deal with this pulse of the worldwide Church."
MAN OH MAN Bishop Krautler offers such a common sense, spirit filled approach. Why is this so difficult for his brother bishops? About a dozen years ago on a retreat day I attended, the presenter was a priest well connected to the United States Catholic hierarchy. After his presentation there was a discussion where he was asked why the bishops were so against ordaining married men as an obvious solution to the increasing shortage of priests. I will never forget his answer, "It is too much a threat to the homoerotic worldview of the bishops."
Please note, this is not the so called "homosexual worldview," but "homoerotic." That is, the bishops exist in an all male bubble. Their lives revolve around finding a patron, paying their dues, remaining duly deferential to the boys' club and keeping it "pure." Women are not welcome as peers.
Pope John Paul had a beautiful image of the church needing to breathe with both lungs, stressing the need for appreciating the Eastern as well as the Western branches of Christianity. Likewise the church needs the lived wisdom of both the female and male mentalities in leading the church. Statements such as, "Jesus never ordained any women," are supposed to end the discussion, ignoring the fact that Jesus never ordained any bishops or priests either. The recent contretemps between the bishops and the American nuns illustrates how truly impoverished the bishops have become.
September 30, 2012
I LOVE HILDEGARD. Both my maternal and paternal grandmothers' first names were Hildegard so in college at St. John’s when I first encountered Hildegard of Bingen I felt an immediate attachment. Her life as a church leader and reformer, along with her scientific, mystical and musical contributions only drew me closer. I have enjoyed learning more about her most recently in a very wonderful film of a few years ago, "Vision," directed by Margarethe von Trotta.
And now there is a new historical novel about her by Minnesota born author Mary Sharatt, Illuminations: A Novel of Hildegard von Bingen. There was a very complimentary review of this forthcoming book in the Star Tribune on September 7 by Laurie Hertzel. I have actually met Mary (who now lives in England) two years ago as she was visiting her mother, Adelene Sharratt, a parishioner at my previous parish, St. Ed's. Mary is now returning to Minnesota to launch her book here. She invites us to any of the following events:
Tuesday October 9, 7 pm reading at Commongood Books, 38 S. Snelling Ave. St Paul.
Wednesday, Oct 10, 7 pm reading at Barnes & Noble Galleria. 3225 West 69th Street, Edina.
Tuesday October 16, 4:30 pm reading at the University of Minnesota Bookstore, Coffman Union.
Wednesday October 17, 7 pm reading at Subtext Books, 165 Western Ave. N., St Paul.
All events are free and open to the public.
Mary kindly emailed me that she reads the Pastor Comments posts on the Cabrini website. It is great to know that our church bulletin is sprouting in Northern England. If you are able to attend an event please let Mary know that you are from Cabrini.
A MILL STONE This weekend's gospel where Jesus condemns those who abuse the young is even more sobering days after another Archdiocesan priest has been indicted for criminal sexual conduct involving a 12-year old boy. The priest joined others ordained in the 2000's who have had to be removed from ministry due to sexual abuse of children and vulnerable adults. This after all the seminarian screening and education on the issue. I recently asked a seminary professor about how this has happened since the so called John Paul priests have been held up as such paragons. The prof answered that a number of these seminarians manifest a combination of ignorance and arrogance and was frustrated that the bishops ordain them none the less. Our shepherds continue to put mill stones around our necks.
NO, THE CHURCH WILL PAY A Strib headline this past week was, "Catholics to Pay for Marriage Vote Ads." Our bishops led by the inimitable local Ordinary, our Chief Catechist, are begging us to fund the misguided effort to change our state constitution to limit the rights of others in their relationships. A political science professor who studies politics and religion says the effort is unusual. A convert who has left the church over this effort is also quoted, "Its extremely divisive, and I don't think it serves the church no matter which side you're on." As for me, this Catholic will not buy in. I have contributed to Minnesotans United for All Marriages. And sadly, the church will pay the bigger price.
VATICAN WHO The 50th anniversary of the opening of the 3 year long Second Vatican Council will be on October 11. Vatican II has been called the most important religious event of the 20th century. To acknowledge its import, The University of St. Thomas Theology department sponsored a 3 day symposium on the council. I attended the 4 public sessions which were very good. I was pleased to see a number of Cabrini parishioners religiously attending too. There were quite a few college age people in attendance, most were UST students and avidly took part. A group of the young men upon inquiry turned out to be Jesuit novices.
I was disheartened to hear from one of the women students that no seminarians were present. Why was I not surprised? Indeed, the upcoming anniversary seems to be missing on the current Vatican calendar. Pope Benedict XVI is using the anniversary date to instead declare a “Year of Faith.” And locally, Archbishop Nienstedt, to mark Benedict's year of faith, is issuing a pastoral letter on the New Evangelization noting in passing the 50th anniversary and oddly equating it with the 20th anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
The philosopher Santayana was right, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it," as we lumber towards a pre Vatican II church.
September 23, 2012
WHAT KEEPS ME GOING Kare 11 TV had a brief interview with me last Tuesday on the marriage amendment. I never turn down an opportunity to speak what I believe, following St Peter's advice, "and if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it." Within minutes of the newscast I received this beautiful email (and with her permission I reprint it):
I don't know if you remember me, but my name is _____ _____. You baptized me. I went to St. Ed's until my family switched to ________(Church) because of distance. I am now a sophomore and 15. I just saw you on the news! I wanted to tell you how thankful I am for you. I have been struggling with my faith, as most 15 year olds do. I believe in man being one person. I believe, and know in my heart, that people are not defined by who they love. After all it is love that makes a family, not a man and a woman. I have been fighting long and hard for people to Vote No this November 4th. I have written and given a speech in my speech class (which consequently had people come up to me and tell me they have, or are thinking about, changing their views on the issue). I also volunteer for Vote No on Wednesdays, calling people.
I want you to know that to me, and hopefully others, your appearance on the news meant the world. It was such an inspiration to see one of my biggest role models as a kid and young adult, standing up for what he, and I, believe in. I do not know many catholic priests that would do that, even if they believed in it. And for that, I thank you. With all of my heart, my mind, and my soul.
May God always be with you forever Father Mike,
This wise young woman (who I remember well along with her family) made my day, no make that she made my year. Such articulate and generous young people give me much hope for our future.
AWAY WITH WORDS Archbishop Nienstedt sent a letter to his clerics. He has an idiosyncratic way with words in his efforts to remind us of his position here as Archbishop and as Chief Catechist (CC). This insightful message is meant for you so enjoy:
As we progress in this election year, I am certain there will be some groups in opposition to our stand on the Marriage Amendment that might try to claim they are speaking for the Church. In my role as Archbishop, I want to be clear that my office is the official source for what the Church teaches in this Archdiocese on various topics.
I wish to caution you and all the faithful to avoid groups that seem to be speaking for the Church but in reality are outside the structures of our local Church. Last year I wrote to you about one such group, the Catholic Coalition for Church Reform (CCCR). I wish to reiterate those cautions today.
Given my responsibilities as chief catechist and teacher of the faith in this local Church, I am obliged to warn our Catholic people about such groups who hold positions contrary to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. Some of those views concern optional celibacy, women's ordination, the physical resurrection of Jesus, the virgin birth of Jesus, the perpetual virginity of Mary, and the need for an ordained priest to celebrate a valid Mass.
I wish to caution you and all the faithful to avoid groups that seem to be speaking for the Church but in reality are outside the structures of our local Church. Last year I wrote to you about one such group, the Catholic Coalition for Church Reform (CCCR). I wish to reiterate those cautions today
In light of all this, I ask that you join me in praying for the unity of the Church and for divine guidance for all in this election year.
I would comment but our CC has taken away my words, he has said it all.
OK, ONE FOLLOW UP I got a call from a frustrated funeral director this week seeking a priest to lead a service for a life long Catholic. The person's family had called the parish where he had long been active and the current part time pastor told them that, "I have a day job and can't help you." The PT pastor, no doubt much harried, was being honest if too blunt. That is why groups such as CCCR, which the CC misrepresents and refuses to meet with, call for married priests to address the priest shortage. This by the way is not a matter of church doctrine as most catechists know.
MIIGWECH Miigwech, thank you, all who made the annual outdoor mass and feast such a great day. What a wonderful gathering with the Gichitwaa Kateri community. I was very glad that so many members of the Indian community could join us. They appreciated the Cabrini hospitality. Also hundreds of pounds of food and produce were collected for the Glendale residents and Food Shelf. Miigwech indeed!
CLONING AROUND IN ROME Italian Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, a prophetic figure who has described the Roman Catholic Church as being "200 years behind" the times, passed away on August 31 at age 85. The Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera published his last interview, recorded in August, in which Cardinal Martini says: "The Church is tired...Our culture has grown old, our churches are big and empty and the church bureaucracy rises up, our religious rites and the vestments we wear are pompous."
The widely respected cardinal, a member of the Jesuit religious order, was a biblical scholar and the well loved archbishop of Milan. Over 200,000 people filed past his coffin at Milan's cathedral, where he was archbishop for more than 20 years. This was in great contrast to neither Pope Benedict nor Cardinal Bertone, the Vatican's Secretary of State, attending the funeral, which was taken as the Vatican cold shoulder.
He was not afraid to speak his mind on matters that the Vatican sometimes considered taboo, including the use of condoms to fight Aids and the role of women in the Church. He said unless the Church adopted a more generous attitude towards divorced persons, it would lose the allegiance of future generations. Cardinal Martini was also in favour of condom use "as a lesser evil" in dealing with aids and he criticized the Church's prohibition of birth control. His final advice to conquer the tiredness of the Church was a "radical transformation, beginning with the Pope and his bishops."
He had a "rare combination of skills as a scholar, pastor, communicator and holy man," said Fr. Thomas Reese, a church expert and fellow at Georgetown University's Woodstock Theological Center. This allowed him to be an independent voice in the church that prizes conformity to tradition. "If there was a young Martini in the church today," Reese said, "he would not be made a bishop or cardinal." And I would add, nor monsignor.”
The NCR newspaper titled their obituary, "Was Cardinal Carlo Martini the last liberal Catholic bishop?" Under JP II and Benedict the selection of bishops based on episcopal conformity regarding disputed issues such as married priests (NO!) or women priests (DO NOT EVEN THINK IT) approaches cloning.
WITH FRIENDS LIKE THESE In last week's bulletin I mentioned Teresa Collett, the UST Law School professor who represents the Archdiocese and the Minnesota Catholic Conference in promoting the proposed amendment to our state constitution limiting the right to civil marriage. She has been picked up a number of times by the police for drinking under the influence of alcohol. Since then another UST law prof has added his protestations at the Star Tribune editorial page on the need to limit the right to civil marriage. This time it is William Delahunty.
Mr Delahunty is notorious as one of the prime movers to concoct and justify the use of torture by the Bush administration. He too makes a very poor representative for a law school claiming Catholic identity.
He makes a tortuous argument as he attempts to justify using the constitutional amendment process to limit individual rights rather than to expand them. Catholics in Minnesota should be aware that the last major such effort to limit rights by way of the constitution here was back in the 1880's was aimed at limiting the rights of Roman Catholics. The so called Blaine amendments were nativist, anti-Catholic efforts to limit "sectarian" (read "Catholic") educational freedom. We as Catholics should be most sensitive to the use of constitutional amendments to limit the rights of others.
September 9, 2012
BOOZHOO Welcome!, greetings!, hello!, hi! Today is a special time of blessing as the communities of Gichitwaa Kateri and Cabrini come together to feast. This is our second annual gathering. Last year it was so good that we had to do it again. I deeply appreciate that the Kateri parishioners are willing to leave our community chapel and join the parishioners of Cabrini for their annual outdoor mass. It is an honor to share some of our liturgical riches. And miigwech, thank you, to the Cabrini members who welcome us and provide such a fine feast.
As it happens, the day that I write this I visited a person in the hospital. Some of his relatives were there and in our conversation they mentioned that they read the 6 part series in the Star Tribune on the Dakota War whose 150th anniversary began on August 17. They mentioned how moved they were by this history of which they had not been that aware. It is so good to come together and share. We have much to learn and appreciate.
NO (VOTE) MEANS NO Archbishop John Nienstedt recently sent out a letter regarding the constitutional amendment on marriage that was to be read at all local Catholic churches. (I never got the letter but heard about it in MinnPost news service.) In it he claims that he wants to get out correct information so that people vote "yes." At the end of the letter, in parentheses, he adds, "Remember that if you leave the ballot box blank, the government votes "No" for you!" This sounds very sinister. Actually, the Republican legislators over the Governor's objections, passed the proposed amendment to be voted on, and it is simply part of the amendment process that regards not voting on an amendment as a no vote. Obviously, the government is not in some conspiracy to vote against the amendment. The Archbishop's phrasing is poor, perhaps paranoid. His efforts are looking more and more questionable.
Just weeks previously, the state board that oversees campaign contributions, in a rare move, allowed a campaign donor against the amendment to remain anonymous due to a well founded fear of losing his employment with the Catholic Church. Apparently this person's fears were not deemed paranoid. This is a very powerful and non biased judgment on our current church leadership.
ACCOUNTABILITY Bishop Salvatore Cordileone of Oakland, Calif., a hard line conservative in the Catholic hierarchy who is set to become the next archbishop of San Francisco, was recently arrested for drunken driving with the arresting officer stating Cordileone was obviously intoxicated. Upon arrest the bishop only identified himself as a priest (was he that drunk?) After spending the night in jail, and in a more sober state, now more aware of his episcopal identity, he apologized “for the disgrace I have brought upon the Church and myself.”
Cordileone was the prime mover for the Catholic effort to pass Proposition 8 which limited the rights of same sex couples in California. Earlier this year Archbishop Nienstedt flew him here to speak to our priests about the need to pass the marriage amendment. He put off answering some questions that I posed to him about this effort.
Driving under the influence of alcohol is a very serious crime. He endangered the lives of others. Nevertheless, he will go on to be the archbishop of San Francisco and continue the crusade to limit the legal rights of others.
There is an interesting local parallel. Teresa Collett, a law professor at the UST law school and frequent representative for the Archdiocese in promoting the marriage amendment, has been cited for drinking and driving twice in the past half dozen years. Jesus had something to say about this kind of judging your neighbor, and their relationships, before humbly addressing your own failings.
September 2, 2012
A PRAYER FOR ALL WORKERS
Loving, Working God,
On this Labor Day weekend we ask your special blessing on all people who labor, either for pay or as volunteers, in jobs or at school, in the workplace or at home, in the U.S. and around the world.
We especially pray for your blessings on workers who do not have jobs and for those whose inadequate pay does not allow them to live the full life you intend for each of us.
Creator God, help us to build a new world in the midst of the old.
A world where all workers are valued.
A world where those who clean houses are also able to buy houses to live in.
A world where those who grow food can also afford to eat their fill.
We pray for the coming of a world where all workers everywhere share in the abundance that you have given us.
We ask these things knowing that you give us the courage and strength to live out our faith in the workplace and the marketplace, as well as in the sanctuary.
(Written by Edie Rasell, Minister for Economic Justice of the United Church of Christ. She is also Vice-President of Interfaith Worker Justice.) Interfaith Worker Justice www.iwj.org
THE LABORER IS WORTH HIS/HER RETIRE 14 years ago I published an article on priest retirement issues and church pension plans in the Jesuit sponsored "America" magazine. Although local church leadership dissed it, I did get positive and grateful responses to the article from around the country. A group was formed, Laity in Support of Retired Priests (LSRP), and I was invited to serve on its board. I continue to have an interest in this topic although I have pretty much given up our own diocesan pension plan. I have gone through all the stages, denial, anger, bargaining, depression but with acceptance replaced by ironic detachment.
Therefore I was interested in the August 18 issue of the respected international journal, The Economist, which has an article about Church finances. The feature article titled, “Earthly Concerns,” considers a number of issues that have been addressed in the past such as the bankruptcy of some dioceses and payments to settle sexual abuse cases, which they estimate at $3.3 billion over the last 15 years. The article gives attention to a variety of Church finance and management concerns with church pensions being of major interest.
Specifically, the article asserts that, “Some dioceses have, in effect, raided priests’ pensions funds to cover settlements and other losses.” It cites Fr. Richard Vega, NFPC immediate past-president, who estimates that 75-80% of clergy pension plans in America are underfunded.
Our own Archdiocesan priest pension plan is about 50% funded and the prospects are not good for it surviving. Mismanagement is part of the problem, but the greatest source of abuse of the pension is the total control by the Archbishop. The Archbishops have acted as if it was not an earned benefit for the individual priest but what fits the current needs of the diocese. Therefore priests who need to be taken out of active ministry (with sexual abuse allegations among the issues) before the actual age of retirement are put on the pension although adequate funds were never paid in to cover them. Some are even given more than what the plan specifies. It is all part of the Archbishop's "discretion." Most pension plans speak of fiduciary trust, here it is, "trust me." I find myself in agreement with Reagan (in his dealings with the evil empire) on this one, trust but verify.
To access the entire article, go to: http://www.economist.com/node/21560536.
To access LSRP go to www.lsrpinc.org
August 26, 2012
REGENERATION A week ago I was canoeing in the Boundary Waters. We went to the area of last Fall's Pigami Creek fire, south and west of Ely. I wanted to go there to see the effects of the fire. Our route was through Lakes One, Two, Three and Four and then followed the Kawishiwi River into Insula and Alice Lakes. We traveled miles along shoreline that were totally burnt over. Thousands of acres of black tree trunks were all that remained of the once verdant forests. And yet on the ground there was a green cover everywhere with wonderful wildflowers, ferns and jackpine seedlings. The new life was so unexpected and overwhelming. At the pictographs on Fishdance Lake I was able to make a tobacco prayer of thanksgiving.
Having returned on Friday, August 17, it was the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Dakota War. It lasted just 6 weeks but the effects remain to this day. The Dakota and other Indians have traveled a trail of tears here too. But the People are still here, there is regeneration. I recommend seeing the special exhibit on this history at the Minnesota History Center. Also worthwhile is the Six-part Star Tribune Series on the Dakota War. http://www.startribune.com/local/165145536.html
SHOULD YOU GET THE SHINGLES VACCINE? If you're 60 or older, the answer is yes — and the sooner the better. So says Dr. Armon Neel in the recent AARP Newsletter. Anyone who has ever had chickenpox is at risk of shingles, which is caused by a reactivation of the dormant chickenpox virus. You can get shingles at any age, but the risk increases dramatically as you get older and your immune system becomes less effective. Each year up to 1 million Americans — more than half of them 60 or older — are diagnosed with shingles. Fewer than 15 percent of all U.S. adults 60 and older have gotten the shingles vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Until recently, the recommendation was to get the Zostavax vaccine at age 65 or older. I was actually in a research study which concluded a year ago in which it was determined that people should get it by age 60. I took part in this study because of a concern over this disease. My dad came down with this and it made the last years of his life miserable. The virus travels along nerve pathways, causing inflammation and damage. The pain tends to be more severe and last longer in older people. A study published this year in the Journal of Internal Medicine, based on a study of nearly 200,000 patients, found the shingles vaccine to be "generally safe and well tolerated." The vaccine reduces your risk of shingles (by 51 percent, according to one large study).
While Medicare Part B does not cover the shingles vaccine, the government requires that all Medicare Part D plans do. (If you have private insurance, your plan might not cover the vaccine.) Most physicians don't stock the vaccine, which must be stored in a freezer, but they can write you an order for the vaccine. As Dr Neel concludes, "If you're unlucky enough to get shingles, you'd pay a million dollars to get rid of it."
GOD BLESS YOU KNIGHTS I have not been very happy with the national leadership of the Knights of Columbus. They act like political operatives and in fact the current "Supreme" Knight, Carl Anderson, was such an operative in the Reagan administration. It is a scandal that he also makes over a million dollar salary per year to head this charity.
The Knights of course were formed to do works of charity and mutual assistance. Local councils seek to keep this focus. They work hard to raise money for some very worthwhile charities. Meanwhile, our Archbishop has been seeking money from local councils to fund his drive for a constitutional amendment to limit the rights of people in same sex relationships. Last week, a local council held a vote by its members on such a request and it was voted down. The money was collected for charitable purposes and that is how it will be used.
August 19, 2012
THE NEW MISSAL AND THE POOR One of the overlooked side effects of the new missal is the multi million dollar cost of its imposition upon parishes. Ronald Patrick Raab, CSC ministers among the vulnerable and marginalized of society and the Church. Ron serves as associate pastor at the St. Andre Bessette Church in Portland, Oregon. He gives another perspective on the missal and the poor, writing this for the blog, praytellblog.com:
Let me first give you an idea of our parish ministry in downtown Portland, Oregon. Our parish mission is quite clear. We welcome people who are on the margins of life. Our hospitality center is open six days a week. We serve people who live on the streets and who are surviving long-term addictions and various forms of mental illness...The purpose of our parish is to simply to provide hospitality to people who live in isolation on the streets and in single-room occupancy hotels and to provide healing that only our faith can offer.
Our entire mission is based on the Eucharist and the sacramental life of the Church...This background about our community provides some context about our struggles with the new translation of the Roman Missal. We started our parish discussions a year ago before people really had the texts in hand. Our small group conversations first raised much fear and anxiety in the parish.
If you do not have much experience with people who suffer mental illness, understand that for so many people in our community change itself is very difficult. Many people need a safe and stable place to be in life. Liturgy here is not just about worship, but it is also about a home. The streets are really brutal. People expect the parish to be a safe island of continuity and peace. Even as I write that I know it is so unrealistic to live that out. However, stability, consistency, reverence and calm are important to people who live with a great deal of instability in life.
...Our conversations first started with much anger about the change itself. Many community members were really angry that like so much for people in poverty, they are always being told what to do and how to do it...and now the one place where they thought would provide a little more continuity in their lives was also changing.
It is impossible to articulate how much so many people feel put down in life. Society, structures, organizations and even the Church put people down when it comes to fulfilling their basic needs. Several people really spoke up about this notion when we gathered to discuss the liturgy. Let me share a few examples that have really changed my thoughts and prayers.
People picked up immediately the thread of sinfulness in the text of the Roman Missal. So many of our people have been sexually abused as children. Many of them still blame themselves for their abuse. The constant thread of sin suggests that they will never be good enough for God no matter how many times they stand in a confessional line or come to Mass. They experience the authority of the Church restating their inadequacy with the constant language of not being worthy of God. In other words, some of the language of the new translation opens the past wounds of abuse.
The instructions of the Penitential Act are an example of how this happens. During that Act we say, “through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault.” Many of our folks hear in these words the Church reinforcing their abuse, which what happened to them was, in fact, their fault. They never hear the end of the prayer of redemption. This Act is not prayer but violence for many people in our community. These words are toxic for people who have spent their lives striving to get out of the darkness of such pain.
Last Christmas a man came to confession with tears in his eyes and said to me that he read the Penitential Act before Mass and struggled to pray the words. I knew from my relationship with him outside the confessional that he had suffered severely in life trying to get over his childhood. “I will never be good enough to pray this prayer. I am nothing but a failure. God will never love me.” I told him to never pray that prayer again.
The same people reacted to the striking of the breast. A woman from a wealthy suburb with breast cancer said that she could never strike her breast in public. She does not want to be reminded of the scar. A woman who has been in therapy for thirty years told me that she cannot be told how to manage her healing. She was so angry. Beating the scars is not what we want in the liturgy whether those disfigurements are physical or emotional.
The stilted language of much of the Mass is a real problem for many people in recovery from addictions. They feel many of the words are very clerical and not healing for people. Many people in recovery for alcohol, heroin and other substances need the liturgy for healing. When they cannot understand the language, healing seldom happens.
One example is the word, “chalice”. We serve our community beverages from donated mugs in our hospitality center every day. On Sunday we sometimes use Styrofoam. People in recovery feel alienated from the Blood of Christ in the first place. The word chalice reminds them of this separation. It drives home the fact that priests drink from gold or silver chalices and alcoholics will always sip from Styrofoam…
We also discussed the word, “roof.” One more time before receiving communion we say we are unworthy. Then we invite God under our roof. This is a very difficult phrase for people who do not have a roof under which they live...This word is still being talked about in our community and evokes much prayer and thought...
Our community of urban poverty realizes that the real translation of the Mass comes when the Mass is over. Our volunteers still prepare soup for the weekends. We wash feet every Wednesday and sort used clothing from donations. We distribute hotel-sized hygiene products and cut greasy hair. We teach art classes and offer flu shots. We sip coffee in old mugs with new strangers. Many volunteers attend daily Mass and I see others on Sundays. “Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life.” This is the mission of the Eucharist, the translation that we will continue to pray and witness here in our parish for years to come.
August 12, 2012
LOOK BEFORE YOU LEAP Sligo, Roscommon, Westmeath, and Galway, these Irish communities, all part of the Diocese of Elphin, for decades sent out priests to the United States and throughout the world. Now there has not been an ordination in 4 years and so the diocese recently had a recruitment campaign aimed at getting young men to join the priesthood.
Organizer Fr. Jim Murray told the Irish Sun newspaper: “We have heard nothing back so far. We had information on posters, newsletters and local newspapers. It’s worrying and slightly discouraging.” Claiming, “Many have simply not heard their calling yet,” he acknowledged that recent clerical sex abuse scandals have damaged recruitment. Murray added: “It is certainly worrying, but you have to think the hand of God is at work. Some people are being called but they’re not hearing the call because of the stress of modern life.”
He also stated that he does not think celibacy is the problem. “The issue of celibacy has not arisen,” said Fr Murray. “The hard thing is getting good people who are thinking about the priesthood but are not ready to make the leap.”
Leap? This is taking place in a country with over 400,000 young people out of work. That is real stress. Maybe a second look at celibacy (and the ordination of women) is needed. I do agree that God's hand is no doubt at work.
FANTASY FOOTBALL I grew up on the sandlots which included playing neighborhood football. There was a older kid who actually became a halfback on the local high school, junior varsity team. There he learned to kick his legs up so to tackle him was to get injured. It wasn't too much fun for a temple of the Holy Spirit and from then on I favored touch football. Since then I have never gotten into tackle football even when I was at St Johns. (My memorable moments at the SJU football stadium were protesting the Vietnam war during the ROTC parade days. I can show you the photo.)
I will never forget what former Viking all-pro linebacker, Jeff Siemon, said about retired NFL players, most are divorced, bankrupt and crippled with injuries. It is not surprising to read the recent reports of brain damage among professional football players. It was surprising to read the following in a recent column by conservative free marketer, George Will, who seems to be calling for, dare I say it, regulation if not outright banning.
"Football is entertainment in which the audience is expected to delight in gladiatorial action that a growing portion of the audience knows may cause the players degenerative brain disease. Not even football fans, a tribe not known for savoring nuance, can forever block that fact from their excited brains... the problem is not the rules; it is the fiction that football can be fixed and still resemble the game fans relish."
A fantasy: what if they built a new billion dollar stadium and no one showed up?
YOU CAN ALWAYS WRITE A LETTER One of the candidates for the 1st Congressional seat, state senator Mike Parry, at a recent campaign fundraiser, spoke of a meeting on the state budget with Governor Dayton where he said the governor was popping 15 to 16 pills which Parry called scary. I wrote the following to Parry:
As someone who works with people needing medications for serious illnesses including those with mental health issues, I was very disappointed with your uncivil comments about Governor Dayton taking pills during your meetings with him on the state budget. And your account seems totally to misrepresent what took place according to others who were present. Although I am not in your district and cannot vote in your election, you are running to represent our state in congress. We need less of these mean spirited, ad hominem attacks. You have slandered the Governor and have stigmatized an entire group of people. Such behavior is what is truly scary. A public apology is in order.
August 5, 2012
THANK YOU CABRINI This past week a person came seeking assistance including help to get a Minnesota state ID. I went with this person to the Hennepin County Service Center on Lake Street. After a wait of over 2 hours we were able to get the ID. This is the same type of ID a non driver would need in order to vote as required by the proposed Voter ID amendment to the Minnesota Constitution. Such an experience puts this amendment into perspective. Even if you have the money, it is difficult to get the ID. As we finally got to the service desk before the payment counter and the additional wait there, the clerk announced that those still in line would have to come back the next day to complete their transactions. We made the cutoff. The two hour wait for those behind us was just the start.
IN GOD WE TRUST Last weekend, National Public Radio reported that, "In God we may trust—but his proxies, maybe not so much. A new Gallup poll shows that only 44 percent of Americans have great trust in “the church or organized religion,” a surprising finding in a country where more people—about 90 percent of the population—claim to believe in God.
NPR's religion correspondent Barbara Bradley Hagerty says it doesn't mean that America is less religious. Hagerty says "We have a free market of religion," compared to parts of Europe with state-established religions. In America you have your choice of hundreds of types of churches, she says, and you can go to anything you want. "What that means is that they're competing, and it means that they're thinking ... 'How do we bring people in the doors?" she says.
The clergy sex scandal is one of the biggest reasons Catholics have been expressing less and less confidence in the church over the past decade. All of this is happening against a backdrop of what Tom Roberts, editor at large for the National Catholic Reporter, calls a seismic shift taking place within the Catholic Church.
"You have a humbling of the church that's being caused by a lot of outside forces," Roberts tells NPR. And demographers estimate that the number of priests available for service — currently about 18,000, Roberts says — will be halved by age, retirement and infirmity over the next 10 years. Roberts says it is still unclear what the church will look like at the end of the decade. "The changes that we're in the midst of ... I think are significant," he says. "Where they lead, we're not certain, but things are changing quite dramatically."
Given the mix of societal forces, the challenges that come out of the sex abuse crisis and the general disposition toward organized religion today, Roberts says, one question is: How do you inspire people to be Catholic? "What is the community about?" he says. "I think that is a huge question."
IN THE ARCHDIOCESE THEY TRUST Over a dozen years ago a group of well off parents in the Western suburbs "leveraged" (snookered?) then Archbishop Harry Flynn to guarantee the funding of the proposed Holy Family High School. Due to a new Federal law which was promoted by segregated prep schools in the southern states, municipalities for the first time were allowed to issue tax free municipal bonds to build these private academies even if they were religiously affiliated. These bonds are tax free and highly desired by well off investors. And so about 28 million dollars worth of such bonds were issued by the City of Victoria to build HFHS. They immediately sold out and were actually oversubscribed. As I wrote then, the Archdiocese was on the hook to these investors.
In last Monday's Star Tribune (July 30) business section there was an offering for $24,115,000 for tax free munis yielding up to 4.75%. Apparently the HFHS is refinancing its debt which has not been paid down as expected with the original issue in the 1990's. The person I spoke to at the securities firm told me that enrollment (550) has not reached the expected level and tuition and fundraising has not been sufficient to help pay down the initial principal as originally hoped.
The initial 28 million dollar debt has added significantly to the Archdiocese's total debt load. This explains in part the pressure to close parishes and freeze the lay pension plan as there can only be so much total debt. The Archbishop needs cash. The new 24 million dollar issue is for 17 year bonds and will makes up a good percentage of Archdiocesan debt for the next 17 years. The principal does not have to be paid down as was the case with the initial offering. But the interest payments are seemingly sacred. And so the limited promise made to these bond investors take priority over the earned promises made to the Archdiocese's lay employees.
Although the HFHS student enrollment remains under-subscribed, the bond issue will no doubt be oversubscribed.
July 29, 2012
GOD BLESS YOU SISTER ROSA This weekend we celebrate and give thanks for the 16 plus years of Marie Rossa's ministry of administration and stewardship at Cabrini. Marie has a pastor's heart and she has been a tremendous leader for our parish community. My only regret is that I had only 1 year to be on the staff with her. Beyond our staff and parishioners, one group that will notice her absence are those who come for assistance. She has been the person who reaches out to the least among us like a good shepherd. Many of those who come seeking help know her as Sister Rosa. How appropriate. Marie has truly been a wonderful sister to all of us.
LETS GET REAL Former astronaut Sally Ride's death from pancreatic cancer has brought to light a less-reported fact about the first American woman in space: her long-time relationship of 27 years with female partner Tam O'Shaughnessy. Bear Ride, Sally's sister, referred to O'Shaughnessy as "a member of the family," said of her sister "The pancreatic cancer community is going to be absolutely thrilled that there's now this advocate that they didn't know about. And I hope the GLBT community feels the same. I hope it makes it easier for kids growing up gay that they know that another one of their heroes was like them."
Our Archbishop who has been vacation for the entire month of July nevertheless continues to spend money promoting the highly political constitutional amendment "to protect marriage." It would have been wonderful if he could have spent some time in conversation with Sally and Tam about their relationship. And how ironic that the other big backers of the amendment, the Republicans in the State Senate, are being sued by their former paid spokesman who engaged in an extramarital affair with the ex Republican head of senate. (Taxpayers will pay the bill.) What a contrast to Sally and Tam's committed relationship.
July 22, 2012
CELEBRATE VATICAN II's 50TH: CLOSE THE WINDOWS, QUICK 50 Years ago this October 21, the first session of the Vatican II Council began following Pope John XXIII's memorable call to aggiornamento, "a bringing up to date," of the Church. Windows were to be opened to the outside world and more importantly, minds were to be opened. The Index of prohibited books was relegated to the Church's attic as was the oath against modernism.
And so it was a man bites dog story by Washington Post reporter, Michelle Boorstein, in the July 11 issue, that recounts a small but growing number of American R C dioceses that are starting to demand fidelity oaths for lay employees and volunteers. Such oaths were not unusual for priests or nuns but extend now to people like volunteer Sunday school teachers as well as workers at Catholic hospitals.
One, in the Baker, Oregon, Diocese, concerns abortion and says, “I do not recognize the legitimacy of anyone’s claim to a moral right to form their own conscience in this matter." This by the way is heresy. The Arlington Diocese in Virginia profession of faith asks teachers to commit to “believe everything” the bishops characterize as divinely revealed, and Arlington’s top doctrine official said it would include things like the American bishops' recent campaign against a White House mandate that most employers offer contraception coverage. The teachers must take the new oath in front of a priest.
Arlington Bishop Loverde, who authored the oath was not available for comment, typical. They sent out the diocesan P R person, Michael Donohue, who said, apparently with a straight face, that the oath was in response to Pope Benedict XVI’s direction that churches worldwide celebrate this year’s 50th anniversary of the start of Vatican II. They went back to the attic.
As Boorstein notes, the oaths embody the struggle in Catholicism today to define what makes someone a disciple. What teachings are core? What authority do laypeople have? The Rev. Ronald Nuzzi, who heads the leadership program for Catholic educators at the University of Notre Dame, said he keeps a photo on his desk from the 1940s that shows all the German bishops in their garb, doing the Nazi salute. “I keep it there to remind people who say to do everything the church says, that their wisdom has limitations, too.” Fidelity oaths are the last gasps of those who have no credible authority.
Meanwhile, the windows are to be closed, and the bishops would have us shut the door as we leave.
ABSENCE MAKES THE HEART GROW FONDER? We are at the mid point of Archbishop Nienstedt's annual month long July vacation at his lake home on the tony shores of Lake Huron. It seems that he cannot get out of Minnesota quick enough when July rolls around. Apparently things are so under control here that he can abandon his office for such an extended time. I know he is counting on me. Strangely unreported in the Catholic Spirit, but his absence is noted in whispered tones in the Chancery offices. Rested up on his return in August he will be ready for battle in the ongoing culture wars.
WINNING A BATTLE, LOSING THE WAR And speaking of culture wars, I just met with a bride preparing for marriage at the church she grew up at, a large parish in the Archdiocese. She takes her faith seriously and got her baptized Catholic, somewhat agnostic, fiancé to attend mass last week at her home parish. The parish priest that she grew up with was progressive and built up a vibrant faith community. Knowing this priest well, indeed visiting him shortly before his recent death, I was aware that he was upset about the current direction of the parish and the Archdiocese in general.
How saddened he would have been that the parish now is reciting Archbishop Nienstedt's prayer to pass the constitutional amendment to limit marriage rights (not rites).
During the mass, the young bride to be and her now very upset fiancé sat down during the said prayer. (God bless them.) Others around them remained standing. Just some more collateral casualties in the Archbishop's all out war to protect marriage. This young couple prefer no such help to their marriage.
July 15, 2012
THE OTHER AMENDMENT My mother has not driven for a number of years and her driver's license has long expired. She still is active in other ways and has up to now voted. However, the proposed amendment to our state constitution requiring a valid photo ID would prohibit her voting. On her own she would not be able to get such an ID. Luckily she has me. It took two trips to the State Vehicle Services Office, and long waits while there, but we got this 88 year old, World War II Veteran a valid photo ID. What a nasty piece of work this amendment is and how unnecessary. She votes at her senior apartment building where everyone knows her by name, no ID required.
Obviously this amendment is going to prevent many citizens from exercising their constitutional right to vote. This appears to be the not too subtle motive for those pushing the amendment. The expense and time required to get the newly required photo ID amounts to a poll tax.
The Republican legislators pushing this are getting their marching orders from ALEC, the uber partisan organization trying to push this at a national level in order to suppress voter turnout. We now can join states like Texas in limiting this most basic right. I see that under the proposed law in Texas concealed handgun licenses would be acceptable forms of photo ID, but student IDs would not. Sadly my mom does not pack heat.
TEA OR KOOL-AID? I like a nice cup of tea, preferable English Gunpowder (aka lapsang souchong) and in that sense could sign up for the Tea Party. However, the group which currently goes by that name is not my cup of tea. In fact, they would be most out of place with those original tea partiers at the start of our revolution. Here is what Benjamin Franklin wrote in a letter to Robert Morris on December 25, 1783:
All the property that is necessary to a Man, for the Conservation of the Individual and the Propagation of the Species, is his natural Right, which none can justly deprive him of: But all Property superfluous to such purposes is the Property of the Publick, who, by their Laws, have created it, and who may therefore by other laws dispose of it, whenever the Welfare of the Publick shall demand such Disposition...He can have no right to the benefits of Society, who will not pay his Club towards the Support of it.
Money stashed away in Swiss or Cayman Island bank accounts or hidden in some bogus corporations in Bermuda probably was not what this original tea party fellow traveler had in mind.
Franklin like Thomas Aquinas was public spirited and believed in something known as the common good. Jesus said it best, "To whom much has been given, much is expected in return." In other words, don't drink the kool-aid.
July 8, 2012
INDEPENDENCE DAY? Being at Gichitwaa Kateri brings a whole new meaning for me about the 4th of July. Independence and freedom are terms filled with ambiguity and some irony. (And how ironic that our bishops are trying to cash in on being concerned for freedom with their Fortnight for Freedom political concoction.) It is a good time to think about the full picture of freedom. Here in our state, 2012 marks 150 years since the U.S.-Dakota War. It was waged for six weeks in southern Minnesota over the late summer of 1862, but the war’s causes began decades earlier and the profound loss of freedom for the Dakota people is still felt today.
A timely new exhibit opened at the Minnesota Historical Society History Center, "The U.S.-Dakota War of 1862." Visitors to the exhibit at the History Center will examine the evidence, hear heart-wrenching stories and learn about the broken treaties and promises that led to this disastrous chapter in Minnesota history. The war ended with hundreds dead, the Dakota people exiled from their homeland and the largest mass execution in U.S. history: the hangings of 38 Dakota men in Mankato on Dec. 26, 1862. I have seen it. It is very powerful. A website is also available: www.usdakotawar.org
FORTNIGHT FOR INTERDEPENDENCE As our bishops wage their quixotic Fortnight for Freedom (what freedoms do they lack?) they might be better served by focusing their concerns on our interdependence. Our founders knew that in their quest for freedom they had to "mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor." To be independent they first acknowledged that they were interdependent on one another (and dependent on Divine Providence.)
Last week's Supreme Court decision brought forth this comment from Dr. Atul Gawande in the New Yorker blog, "Beneath the intricacies of the Affordable Care Act lies a simple truth. We are all born frail and mortal—and, over the course of our lives, we all need health care. Americans are on our way to recognizing this." Hopefully the bishops too.
LAST WORD GOES TO JANIS JOPLIN As the bishops conclude their Fortnight for Freedom Campaign, and after their loss of credibility over the last years, it brings to mind the quote, "Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose."
July 1, 2012
REMBRANDT IN MINNESOTA I went to see the new exhibit at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, "Rembrandt in America," which displays 30 paintings by Rembrandt, the most ever assembled in the United States, alongside another 20 or so that are still in question as to their authenticity. The exhibit will remain until September 16 and is well worth attending.
I was struck after seeing his dates of birth and death, 1606-1669, over and over, that he lived to be 63, my age. His last self-portraits have him facing the viewer, head on, warts, wrinkles and all, as if to say here I am, take me as you see me. Having lived a life with many struggles and tragedies, he has weathered the storms, he holds his head up. From almost 400 years ago, the paintings still speak to us.
PUBLIC RELATIONS CONTAGION Two weeks ago I wrote of the significant increases that Archbishop Nienstedt is funding in the area of communications and PR. Last week I noted how this PR concern is also being taken up nationally by the Catholic bishops. This week I can report that the Vatican has caught the bug.
As reported by the AP, the Vatican has brought in Fox News correspondent, Greg Burke, to Rome in an effort to improve its communications strategy "as it tries to cope with years of communications blunders and one of its most serious scandals in decades..." Burke will become a senior communications adviser in the Vatican's Secretariat of State.
The article notes that while the scandal is serious the Vatican's communications problems long predate it. Pope Benedict's now-infamous speech about Muslims and violence, his 2009 decision to rehabilitate a schismatic bishop who denied the Holocaust, and his statement just last week to the people of Ireland that the clergy sex abuse scandal was "a mystery," are just a few of the blunders that have tarnished his papacy.
Burke, a member of Opus Dei, defined his job as: "You're shaping the message, you're molding the message, and you're trying to make sure everyone remains on-message. And that's tough." I believe the Evangelists said something similar and they had good news to tell.
Burke said he didn't know what, if any, role his membership in Opus Dei played. Although he was at a loss for words here, it can be said that Opus is greatly in favor in the Vatican these days, particularly as other new church movements such as the Legion of Christ have lost credibility with their own PR problems. OD is known for its discipline, the members are discreet.
1300% INCREASE IN PARISH ASSESSMENT! Where 2 or 3 are gathered in his name there is Christ, where 2 or 3 pastors gather there is complaining about their parishes' assessments. Last month the Archdiocese's pastors were given an update on a new assessment formula.
Up until now the basic assessment by the Archdiocese amounts to 8% of the parish income plus 1% to cover the costs of the Catholic Spirit, our Archdiocesan newspaper. Big changes are underway at the diocesan paper. As is his modus operandi, without any public discussion, the Archbishop has decided to dissolve the paper's union which goes back 50 years. The reformed Spirit will be under the newly enhanced Communications office. And so the 1% newspaper assessment will be dropped. however, in the new plan most parishes continue to pay 9% so for most parishes there is no significant change unless you have a school for which there are reductions. Apparently dropping the union is not a cost saver due to the additional costs of the new PR positions.
But one parish will see a 1300% increase according to the outgoing (soon to leave although he is friendly) Archdiocesan CFO, John Bierbaum. St Agnes apparently has been paying about an average of 1% of its income until now. At least they were consistent, the parish also refused to pay into the lay pension fund over the years. Definitely cafeteria Catholicism.
June 24, 2012
THE GOOD SPIN A while back I wrote about our Archdiocese doubling the professional staff for public relations/communications. Indeed the former communications director told me that they have also added administrative support staff that he went without. Apparently this is a national phenomenon.
The LA Times newspaper on June 14 had an article about the bishops' bad press (clergy abuse, lack of accountability, Vatican Bank issues, hierarchy against nuns, contraception insurance battles, etc) and their response to this at their meeting last week in Atlanta: "the bishops said they've had enough. It is time, they said, to beef up their public relations arsenal. We need more help and sophistication in our messaging," said Cardinal Sean O'Malley of Boston, who decried the latest debacle of bad PR over the treatment of American nuns..."
The old lawyer's quip can be modified: if you have the theology argue that; if you have the facts, argue those, if neither hire more PR. They call it the Happy News.
A FORTNIGHT FOR REFLECTION This suggested letter came to me from Catholics United (www.catholics-united.org)
To Our Pastor:
We, the undersigned, are members of this parish concerned about the nature and significance of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ call for a “fortnight for freedom,” to run from June 21 to July 4 of this year. It is evident from the bishops’ declaration “Our First, Most Cherished Liberty: A Statement on Religious Liberty” that they see the Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act, and specifically the requirement that employers offer their employees insurance that provides for contraception, as the principal threat. The law does not, it should be noted, require that employers with scruples about contraception direct their employees’ attention to that provision or pay for the services involved, which are to be provided by the insurer at no extra cost to the employer. Given those facts, we see no threat here to anyone’s religious freedom.
There is, however, another, very serious, threat to the well-being of millions of our fellow citizens. We are concerned that, under cover of a campaign for religious liberty, the bishops are jeopardizing the universal health insurance coverage that has long been a prime objective of Catholic social teaching. We are also concerned that the “fortnight for freedom” and related efforts will be seen, in an election year, as acts of political partisanship and as such have the potential to divide our parish and the wider church.
Our hope is that our church will avoid being drawn into the vortex of partisanship and will commit itself anew to the prophetic tradition, with its call for economic and social justice, which must be understood to include adequate health care for people everywhere. Doing so will have the added benefit of fending off a breach between lay Catholics and their bishops and should indeed reinforce that very freedom the bishops feel to be threatened.
We, therefore, request a meeting with you [the pastor or parish council] to discuss any possible action in this parish stemming from the bishops’ statement on religious liberty and, in particular, their call for a “fortnight for freedom.”
Sincerely, The Undersigned Parishioners
June 17, 2012
CHURCH LEADERSHIP 101 Susan Hogan, on the editorial staff of the StarTribune, had a commentary (June 7) critical of the American bishops who are pushing a fortnight for religious freedom in what she sees as a diversion from their scandalous handling of clergy sexual abuse of children. She quotes a brother bishop who served with our former Ordinary, Harry Flynn, on the bishops' committee initially handling abuse cases, calling Flynn a "dolt." Although I would not use that particular expression, I have to agree with the much of the content of Hogan's piece.
I remember that Archbishop John Roach as he was approaching his 75th birthday and retirement was very concerned about who would succeed him. Although he had been head of the national bishops' conference and was a team player he was frustrated in effecting who would succeed him. He was apologetic when he told a group of priests that Flynn was the best we could get. Harry (his baptismal name) came from being bishop of Lafayette, Louisiana, and this was a step up the clerical ladder. He had no special skills for coming here and this was borne out over his reign.
One of the reforms of Vatican II was to encourage priests to have their own diocesan organizations to lend their voices and experience to the guidance of the diocese. Here we had a priests' senate led by a priest elected by his peers. With John Paul's do-over of the code of canon law in 1983, the local bishop had to head the priest organization and the name was changed to presbyteral council with the priests only allowed to elect a brother priest to be the executive director. It is for the bishop to decide when to consult the council, to preside over the meeting and to determine the agenda. Not a formula for adult participation.
Over the last 40 years the priests in the Archdiocese have selected over 20 priests to lead them. The second such priest was John Roach. Since then not one of these priests, acknowledged by their peers to be leaders, has gone on to be a bishop. If you are looking for a unified theory of dysfunction this seems to be a good beginning.
OBEDIENCE: HEAR, HEAR The root for the word 'obedience’ is 'to hear.' To obey is first of all to listen. I like the quip, "God gave you one mouth and two ears so use them in that proportion." Nevertheless, obedience is not at the summit of the virtues, it helps us to live out a balanced virtuous life. Last week in the bulletin I quoted Paul Moses in the commonweal.com blog on obedience as always being part of religious life but not an absolute, "the exaltation of obedience one hears so often in official church discourse needs to be qualified."
This past Saturday at the ordination of a Jesuit priest (a good guy) that I attended, Archbishop Nienstedt was the chief celebrant and he did the ordination. As if on cue, in his homily he focused on (his words) submittance, dependence, even radical dependence, humility and of course obedience to superiors. I found it telling.
There was no mention of the cardinal virtues, justice, courage, fortitude and prudence. Some of these might help in the challenges of ministry. Nor were the theological virtues of faith, hope and love focused on as did St. Paul. Some have sung, all you need is love; others would have it, all you need is obedience.
TWO THUMBS UP On June 10th, 2012, Father Bob Pierson spoke to a Catholic gathering in Edina, Minnesota about why Catholics can vote no on the amendment which seeks to limit the freedom to marry for gay and lesbian couples in Minnesota. You can view this and share this at www.youtube.com. Just put Bob's name in the search box.
STRANGE BEDFELLOWS Rush Limbaugh in a June 13 broadcast defending the Vatican accused the Leadership Council of Women Religious, who represent more than 80 percent of the 57,000 women religious in the United States, of "hav[ing] gone Feminazi." Being in his fourth marriage, Rush no doubt is appreciative of the US Catholic bishops' strong support defending his right to marriages.
June 10, 2012
REALLY SENT Last Sunday, Trinity Sunday, we heard the great commission given to the apostles at the time of the Ascension, "Go out to all the nations...." The word apostle actually means to be sent out and that is what they did. As I left Cabrini after the 9 am mass and drove down Lake Street to Kateri for the 10:30 mass, I found myself behind a Mercedes S230. The license plate simply read: APOSTLE.
Some apparently are really sent out.
A TRUE PAPAL BLESSING Recent Headline: "Vatican Criticism Pushes Nun's Book Up Best-Seller List: What had been an obscure text on human sexuality now finds itself in Amazon's top 20 list after the church took issue with its teachings." Actually Just Love by Sister Margaret Farley is a very good book and needs to be widely read. God works in unexpected ways.
OBEDIENCE Paul Moses in a June 2 blog at Commonweal.com commenting on the trial in Philadelphia of Msgr William Lynn on charges of criminally endangering children, reported that the Monsignor portrayed himself as a man of conscience who quietly tried to help victims despite the indifference of his superiors, specifically Cardinal Bevilacqua. What if he made a sincere effort, within the confines of obedience to the cardinal, to address the problem of clergy sexual abuse? What if he decided that, rather than speak out, it would be better for children if he worked within the system?
The rejoinder is that if Monsignor Lynn really believed he was surrounded by evil, he had a duty to speak out about it. Should he not have cooperated with the police and the families of victims instead of lying to them, as the prosecutor asserted?
Moses again, “Obedience has always been part of religious life, but it shouldn’t be absolute. It shouldn’t require a priest to lie to parishioners or to victims of sexual crimes. If Monsignor Lynn believed obedience required this, it is further evidence that the system is badly in need of reform. Chuch whistleblowers need to be protected against ecclesiastical retaliation, and the exaltation of obedience on hears so often in official church discourse need to be qualified.
“Francis of Assisi understood this. Although he emphasized obedience to church authority, he also saw its limits and allowed for dissent against the minister-general of his order. In his Rule of 1221, he instructed: A friar is not bound to obey if a minister commands anything that is contrary to our life or his own conscience, because there can be no obligation to obey if it means committing sin.”
On the matter of obedience, I like a quote from a book by Msgr. Dennis Murphy, A View from the Trenches: Ups and Downs of Today’s Parish Priest: “One dimension of this obedience that has become clearer in recent years is that there is more to this promise than a pledge or a commitment made only to a bishop. It encompasses obedience commitment to the church, and especially to the church understood as the people of the diocese within which the priest serves.? Murphy by the way was a well regarded official in the Canadian Association of Bishops.
June 3, 2012
WHAT IS HE PEDDLING NOW? This year’s Twin Cities Bike Walk Week will run from June 2-10, offering a great opportunity for metro area residents to kick off summer by bicycling and walking to work, to school, for errands or fun. The highlight of the week is Bike Walk to Work Day, Thursday, June 7th. Although I love biking back and forth from Kateri to Cabrini on the Midtown Greenway, I will not be biking to work that day. Instead, I will be biking that morning to Hennepin United Methodist Church for the clergy event sponsored by Minnesotans United for All Families.
A TRUE FORTNIGHT FOR FREEDOM As we approach the upcoming elections our agitated bishops have fabricated a "Fortnight for Freedom," a 14-day period of prayer, education and action in support of religious freedom from June 21—the vigil of the Feasts of the martyrs John Fisher and Thomas More—to July 4, Independence Day. The bishops declare, "Our liturgical calendar celebrates a series of great martyrs who remained faithful in the face of persecution by political power... Culminating on Independence Day, this special period of prayer, study, catechesis, and public action would emphasize both our Christian and American heritage of liberty."
Although two weeks probably are best suited for public protest which is what the bishops are trying to stir up, I certainly favor such a time for appreciating religious freedom. But in the spirit of Jesus' teaching, "before pointing to the speck in your neighbors eye, consider the plank in your own," I would propose a Fortnight for Freedom in the Church. Freedom of conscience and other core values of our faith have recently been threatened by our own church leaders. Think of the attack the Vatican is making against our women religious for being too focused on the poor.
The bishops are most disturbed by the Affordable Health Care Act's provision of contraceptive coverage despite good faith efforts to accommodate their concerns. We gain no guidance from Jesus about these concerns. However, in continuing their uncompromising attacks on "Obamacare" the bishops show they care little for the religious freedom let alone the health of others. The bishops themselves are divided over these divisive tactics as noted by the Catholic columnist, E. J. Dionne:
Until now, bishops who believed that their leadership was aligning the institutional church too closely with the political right had voiced their doubts internally. While the more moderate and liberal bishops kept their qualms out of public view, conservative bishops have been outspoken in condemning the Obama administration and pushing a "Fortnight for Freedom" campaign aimed at highlighting "threats to religious freedom, both at home and abroad."
But in recent months, a series of events -- among them the Vatican's rebuke of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious encouraged by right-wing American bishops -- have angered more progressive Catholics and led to talk among the disgruntled faithful of the need for a "Catholic spring" to challenge the hierarchy's shift to the right.
Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, California, broke the silence on his side Tuesday in an interview with Kevin Clarke of the Jesuit magazine America. Blaire expressed concern that some groups "very far to the right" are turning the controversy over the contraception rules into "an anti-Obama campaign."
Thank God we do enjoy religious freedom. Following the example of the women religious, our church leaders need to get back to the core values, the corporal works of mercy and the mandate to serve the least among us, and not worry so much about their political power.
To be honest, the bishops themselves are the biggest threat to the actual freedom of the Church. About a dozen dioceses are in bankruptcy and have turned over financial oversight to outside overseers. And just last week the bishop of Kansas City (MO) delegated away his legal authority for the diocese due to his being under criminal indictment for his mishandling sexual abuse cases.
PRISONERS OF THE VATICAN By now we know that the pope's butler did it. The papal butler, Paola Gabriele, has been jailed over suspicions that he leaked a large number of confidential letters addressed to Benedict XVI which have lifted the lid on alleged corruption and nepotism at the Holy See. How sad to see that the Vatican is more intent on cover-ups than on dealing forthrightly with these serious allegations. And how sad to hear the Vatican spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi: "We have cells. It is a simple structure, since this is a small state, but we have them." The self-proclaimed successor of St. Peter, who was jailed for his faith, now is a jailer. And why a butler?
What is going on in the Vatican? Where are our bishops? Instead of investigating women religious for being too focused on the poor, instead of trying to restrict the constitutional and conscience rights of non-Catholics, instead of spending millions of dollars to impose questionable changes to how we worship, hard questions must be confronted by our church leaders.
Pope Pius IX who lost control of the Papal States (and you would think the need for jails) refused to leave his papal palace, proclaiming himself to be "the prisoner of the Vatican." Now the Catholic Church is captive to a regime rejecting Vatican II, unaccountable, and embarrassing to us all.
SERVANT OF "THE SERVANT OF THE SERVANTS OF GOD” One of the pope's traditional titles is, "the Servant of the servants of God." Who knew, the Servant needs a servant?
BACK TO THE BASICS This weekend's celebration of Trinity Sunday is a timely reminder that there remain some essentials to our faith thank God.
A RABBI, A PRIEST, AN IMMAN AND A BAPTIST PREACHER: NO JOKE On Sunday, June 3rd, hundreds of members of the Jewish community and allies will be convened by Jewish Community Action to oppose the two ballot initiatives for this November. For the first time in Minnesota, a Rabbi, a Catholic priest, an Imam and a Baptist preacher will meet together in front of this audience and publicly proclaim their opposition to the constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage. Rabbi Zimmerman from Temple Israel said, “We must come together as multiple faith communities to demonstrate our opposition to an amendment that will enshrine discrimination into the constitution.”
May 27, 2012
COME HOLY SPIRIT Why hope? ARCC (Association for the Rights of Catholics in the Church) sent the following message from Cardinal Leo Suenens's book, "A New Pentecost," published in 1974. Suenens, a leading light and one of the four moderators of the Second Vatican Council, took his title from Blessed John XXIII's prayer, "Renew your wonders in this our day, as by a new Pentecost."
"Why am I a person of hope even in these days? Because I believe that God is new every morning. I believe that God is creating the world today, at this very moment. That means that we have to expect the 'unexpected' since it comes from God. God is here, near us, unforeseeable and loving.
I am hopeful, not for human reasons, but because I believe in the Holy Spirit present in Church and in the world even if people don't know God's name.
I am hopeful because I believe the Holy Spirit is still the creating Spirit. I believe that the Spirit will give us every morning fresh freedom, joy and a new provision of hope, if we open our soul to the Spirit.
The story of the Church is a long story, filled with the wonders of the Holy Spirit. Think of the prophets and saints who have discovered a spring of life and shed beams of light on our path.
I believe in the surprises of the Holy Spirit. John XXIII came as a surprise, and the Council, too. They were the last things we expected.
Why should we think that God's imagination and love might be exhausted?
Hope is a duty, not just a luxury. Hope is not a dream, but a way of making dreams become reality. Happy are those who dream dreams and are ready to pay the price to make them come true!"
ANOTHER THREAT DETECTED Since our Archdiocese is "all in" ($650,000 downpayment in 2011) in the effort to protect marriage, I have been seeking out actual data on threats to marriage. So far I have found nothing indicting sexual orientation is a threat. The prime suspect is the economy but a recent article raises a new threat, "Does Facebook Wreak Marriages?" The answer is affirmative:
"More than a third of divorce filings last year contained the word Facebook, according to a U.K. survey by Divorce Online, a legal services firm. And over 80% of U.S. divorce attorneys say they’ve seen a rise in the number of cases using social networking, according to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. “I see Facebook issues breaking up marriages all the time,” says Gary Traystman, a divorce attorney in New London, Conn. Of the 15 cases he handles per year where computer history, texts and emails are admitted as evidence, 60% exclusively involve Facebook."
Time to unfriend Facebook?
WHY WE LOVE IT HERE The Twin Cities has a lot going for it. According to American College of Sports Medicine in its 2012 American Fitness Index we remain the most healthy and fit metro area. This might be connected to Bicycling.com's again listing us in the top two Best Bike City (15 years as number 1). And Minneapolis is one of the 10 best cities to get and stay sober according to the Fix website which covers addiction and recovery (they do not rank the top 10). In all of these ratings Bible belt cities hover at the bottom, along with having the highest rate of marital breakdown.
Hopefully after the Fall elections we will remain a tolerant and ecumenical community. That is also a sign of a healthy living. Come Holy Spirit indeed!
May 20, 2012
COINCIDENCES The May 10th Catholic Spirit's list of priest appointments published the permission to exercise ministry in the Archdiocese granted to Rev. James Kelleher, SOLT (Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity.) The appointment was backdated to March 28 and extends to Wednesday, November 7, which coincidentally is the day after our national elections. The announcement states that he will assist planning "two major rosary processions during that time." These public rosary crusades, which are the antithesis of Jesus' recommendation on prayer (Matthew 6,5), are a major feature of his ministry. Apparently his ministry here ends with the election as there is no need to pay for one more day than necessary. Perhaps this is considered good stewardship.
One of Rev. Kelleher's recent rosary crusades was last September in Washington D.C. and as he states was connected with "the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary which was instituted by Pope St. Pius V in thanksgiving for the great Naval victory over the Turks at the battle of Lepanto. The miraculous victory was attributed to thousands of believers across Europe praying the Rosary, and reminds us that Our Lady is a powerful intercessor in Heaven." I suspect as Catholics take to the streets the focus will not be on our history with the Muslim community. A new crusade beckons, it is time to mobilize the troops.
BULLY FOR YOU ARCHBISHOP On May 6 Archbishop Nienstedt published the following letter in the Star Tribune. I note his expressed concern for dialogue in our search for common ground.
"I respect and appreciate the role the Star Tribune plays in fostering dialogue on the important issues of our day. While we've not always held the same opinions or seen these issues through the same lens, I know that the publishers and editors of the paper are good people who, like me, work hard to fulfill their mission with dedication and integrity... We welcome the dialogue about these important issues… Let us address our differences with courtesy, care and compassion. It's only then that we may find some common ground and understanding."
This is an appropriate message for next week's celebration of Pentecost and for the coming months of necessary conversations on the marriage amendment and so many other areas of conscientious differences. Is it a coincidence that this letter's changed tone comes as the Archdiocesan public relations department recently was doubled in staffing?
REALLY Tom Reese, SJ, in the "America Magazine" blog "In all things," on May 10 had the following comments on the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church:
"A culture of fear and dependency also contributed to the crisis...Speaking truth to power is not welcomed in the Catholic Church. Diocesan priests are totally dependent on the good will of their bishop for assignments and promotions. If a 60 year old bishop is appointed to your diocese, he is going to be your boss for the next 15 years. In practice, there is no appealing his decisions toward you nor can you escape by moving to another diocese. You are stuck…
"The problem in the Catholic Church today is that the hierarchy has so focused on obedience and control that it has lost its ability to be a self-correcting institution. Creative theologians are attacked, sisters are investigated, Catholic publications are censored and loyalty is the most important virtue. These actions are defended by the hierarchy because of fears of “scandalizing the faithful,” when in fact it is the hierarchy who have scandalized the faithful." (continued on back page)
Frank Deford, veteran sports commentator on May 11 was interviewed on NPR's Morning Edition. He spoke of the difficulty for beat sports reporters who criticize a player/team and then have to walk into the locker room for an interview. Imagine a priest publicly critical of some of the local bishop's decisions who walks into the sacristy to vest before a major diocesan function...
BISHOP MATERIAL "I certainly think that bipartisanship ought to consist of Democrats coming to the Republican point of view." This from Richard Mourdock, the Tea Partier who ousted Republican Senator Richard Lugar in Indiana last week.
Such non-negotiable attitudes are seen in the United States Catholic bishops statements about the Affordable Health Care Act and the civil rights of those in committed relationships.
May 13, 2012
HAPPY MOTHERS DAY Happy Mother’s Day! With the staff, I want to extend a special greeting to all the moms and grandmothers in our community. You have been there for us from the start. I am blessed to still have my mom with me, but we also remember those who have gone on before us. Their spirit and good example is still with us. In addition, there are many women who have been like moms to us and to others. God bless you.
LAYING DOWN THE LAW Three authoritative major Catholic publications have reported that Cardinal Bernard Law, the disgraced former Archbishop of Boston presently on the lam in the Vatican to avoid legal prosecution in Massachusetts, played a key role in the Vatican's recent crackdown on the Leadership Council of Women Religious (LCWR). And he still remains on major commissions of the Vatican including the commission that chooses bishops. Robert Mickens in the English based "The Tablet," John Allen in the NCR, and Sandro Magister in an Italian publication all had similar reports with The Tablet stating that Law was "the person in Rome most forcefully supporting" the investigation of the LCWR.
And all this after the Morgan Stanley Bank has recently stopped working with the Vatican bank because of lack of transparency in the Vatican Bank's financial dealings. The Vatican bank fails under the same Homeland Security Laws as would international drug dealers and terrorists. It is not clearly in compliance with accepted standards against money laundering and tax fraud.
As we approach the annual Peter's Pence Collection in June which funds the Vatican, I would hope that our bishops would start asking some questions. Better yet, a delegation from the LCWR should be sent to investigate the Vatican shenanigans. A "Sisters' Cents" collection could fund this.
WHY STOP THERE The NCR also reported that the Vatican may be moving towards tightening procedures for declaring a marriage null and void. NCR reporter John Allen (who has a lot of material to work with), states that an April 25-26 conference in Rome focused on Canon 1095 of the Code of Canon Law, which allows a marriage to be declared and void if one of the parties lacked the ability to consent because of “causes of a psychic nature.” Of the 15 to 20 grounds for an annulment in church law, more are granted on the basis of canon 1095 than all others combined; roughly two-thirds of the total. The procedures will have special significance for the US, which has just 6 percent of the world’s Catholic population, but roughly two-thirds of the 60,000 annulments granted each year.
I have questions about the whole annulment process and agree with Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, the Archbishop of Vienna, that the church needs to look at how we minister to people whose marriages fail. But agreeing even more with Jesus, does our church have to load up others with burdens our church authorities never face personally?
May 6, 2012
MARY VAUGHAN TRENDSETTER One lovely touch at Mary Vaughan's funeral was the box of oatmeal placed on the altar at the offertory. As a visible sign of her concern for the poor she regularly brought oatmeal to the collection at mass for the food shelf. As only she would explain, "you can always eat oatmeal." I was reminded of this during a recent MPR news program.
Their regular food and dining correspondent, Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl (great name, only in America), reported on the latest food trend. Yes, oatmeal, who would have thought? (Other than Mary) Of course, oatmeal is really, truly good for you. It's a high-fiber whole grain that the body digests slowly. It's full of vitamins and is associated with improvements in blood cholesterol levels. But beyond nutrition, Dara states, "Why not? Wheat is served in the morning and at night. So is corn. Why not oats? There's nothing inherently breakfast-like about oats aside from the fact that for the last hundred years we've been used to having oatmeal in the morning. In olden times, really olden times, say, a thousand years ago, it wasn't unusual for people to eat oats as often as people in Japan eat rice, that is, with every meal. In the British Isles, for instance, it was the basic food from about the 9th to 17th century, as far as culinary historians can tell. You'd make a big pot of oat porridge over a wood fire, maybe once or twice a week, you'd let it cool. There was actually a special drawer in a lot of cottages called a 'porridge drawer', you'd pour your porridge in there to set, I've read that you'd put any babies you had above the drawer so they'd be warmed by the rising heat."
Now Twin Cities chefs and food luminaries are running with it on their menus and no doubt with Mary's blessing. If you put "oatmeal" in the MPR.org news search box there are some very tasty recipes.
COMMONWEAL CATHOLICS 46 years ago I arrived at St Johns University and soon encountered two publications that I continue to read religiously, The National Catholic Reporter and Commonweal. I am glad that Cabrini offers them to our parishioners. Both publications have improved with age as we have entered the world of the internet. Just this week the Commonweal blog site (open free to all) had an article from Margaret O'Brien Steinfels who has been writing for the magazine for many of those 46 years:
"What are the U.S. Catholic bishops really arguing about with the Obama administration? Is it religious liberty, as they insist? Is it contraception and sterilization, as the headlines in my archdiocesan paper stress? Is it a desire, conscious or unconscious, to reassert their authority after the dog days of the sexual-abuse scandal? Is it simply anti-Obama prejudice? Maybe it’s all of the above, and then some: perhaps they just lack astute advisers. In any event, the daunting task of explaining the Catholic bishops to others and to oneself has come a cropper. They are digging a hole from which they may never emerge."
MEMO TO OUR LEADERS "Fewer Americans form households after recession, hampering economic recovery," was the headline on an article in the May 1st issue of the Washington Post. In our present economy, marriages are not occurring. There are threats to marriage, sexual orientation is not one of them according to any meaningful research.
April 29, 2012
PROTECTING MARRIAGE AT ALL COSTS Our Archbishop, John Nienstedt, last year forked over $650,000 of parishioners funds allegedly to protect marriage in the political effort to change our state constitution. This of course is just the down payment. He might direct some of our largess directly to the the Republican caucus of the Minnesota Senate. Their former communications director entered into a marriage threatening relationship with the former Republican Senate majority leader. This embarrassed even the Republican Senate leadership which eventually fired him and he is apparently with a straight face suing the State for damages to his good name among other indignities. The State taxpayers are currently on the hook for legal advice to the Republican "leadership" at the cost of $330 an hour and potentially face huge payoffs for these Republican Senators' off message extra-curriculars. The current Republican Senate majority leader is quoted as saying he does not know how much this effort will cost. I believe he was only referring to the monetary costs. An odd concession from the party claiming to protect the taxpayer as the party of fiscal rectitude. The threats to marriage rise up in most unexpected places.
SISTERS' GOOD SENSE LCWR, it means the Leadership Conference of Women Religious and it means business. That is, the major communities of women religious take the gospel seriously. It does not mean you are always appreciated. The Vatican, for instance, has serious concerns about it. You would think that with its own major financial and sexual scandals the Vatican would focus less on the splinter in its sisters' eye and take a serious look at the plank staring it in the face. Each June Catholics are asked to donate to Peter's pence. This year why not a Sisters' Cents effort?
DID I SAY INDIAN TACOS? Indian tacos, it is not a health food, but in our community's
spirit of try anything with moderation, Indian tacos are coming to Cabrini after the 5:00 pm Mass on May 5th. (This is easy to remember, 5-5-5 for $5.) Along with the Tacos served on freshly made fry bread, there will be Prairie Dogs or sausages wrapped in fry bread ($3). Funds raised will help members of the Gichitwaa Kateri community go to the national Tekakwitha Conference in July. Try it, you will like it. And some generous Cabrinistas have provided some lovely auction opportunities. You have to be there.
April 22, 2012
EARTHDAY CONNECTIONS TO CATHOLIC SOCIAL TEACHING
"When the ecological crisis is set within the broader context of the search for peace within society, we can understand better the importance of giving attention to what the earth and its atmosphere are telling us: namely, that there is an order in the universe which must be respected, and that the human person, endowed with the capability of choosing freely, has a grave responsibility to preserve this order for the well-being of future generations. I wish to repeat that the ecological crisis is a moral issue."
-- Pope John Paul II, World Day of Peace Message 1990, 15
"Our mistreatment of the natural world diminishes our own dignity and sacredness, not only because we are destroying resources that future generations of humans need, but because we are engaging in actions that contradict what it means to be human. Our tradition calls us to protect the life and dignity of the human person, and it is increasingly clear that this task cannot be separated from the care and defense of all creation." -- USCCB, Renewing the Earth, 2
A SEPARATION CLOSE TO HOME I recently saw the movie, "A Separation," which
comes from Iran. It concerns a couple facing tensions in their marriage and an eventual separation. It is a heart wrenching work of art and there is much to identify with. That indeed is what most struck me. These are people we know. It is so ironic that this is the country that has been much demonized with political candidates trying to outgun one another in when they would bomb this country into compliance with our wishes. One little detail was telling. On a table among other photos and pictures there was a photo of an American Indian in a headdress. It seemed most out of place but maybe it said something about our common humanity and we can recognize that in one another.
April 15, 2012
EASTER REFLECTION The Season of Easter lasts 50 days and there is much time for reflection. Interestingly, a number of the resurrection appearances of the risen Christ occur as the disciples are having breakfast. I found this article on the CNN website by their religion editor, Dan Gilgoff, with the title, "At Easter breakfast, Obama talks about faith in the face of doubt."
Facing a re-election bid and contending with a bitterly partisan Congress, President Obama spoke Wednesday at a White House Easter prayer breakfast about keeping faith in the face of doubt. “I am not going to stand up here and give a sermon,” Obama said in the East Room of the White House, addressing an audience thick with Christian leaders. “It’s always a bad idea to give a sermon in front of professionals.”
But Obama proceeded to deliver a mini-sermon that centered on Jesus’ experience in the Garden of Gethsemane, where Christ expressed doubt and anguish on the eve of his crucifixion, appealing to God for a reprieve. Obama said that Easter is an opportunity to appreciate “all that Christ endured – not just as a son of God, but as a human being,” according to a White House transcript.
“It is only because Jesus conquered his own anguish, conquered his fear, that we’re able to celebrate the resurrection,” Obama said. “We all have experiences that shake our faith,” Obama said later. “There are times where we have questions for God’s plan relative to us, but that’s precisely when we should remember Christ’s own doubts and eventually his own triumph.”
UPDATE In last week's bulletin I noted an article about DelaSalle HS students respectfully disagreeing with a presentation by representatives of the Archdiocese concerning marriage and the proposed Constitutional Amendment on marriage. Again, kudos to the students. It should be noted that this is being done at all Catholic high schools. Some have said that the schools should not have allowed these presentations. A comment to the original Strib article clarifies this: "The staff has absolutely no say in the matter. The Archbishop has demanded these talks happen. Unfortunately, people's jobs are truly on the line. They had to allow it. I commend the D students for being Christ like." This is not the way to win over hearts and minds.
A BENEDICTION Last year an association of Austrian priests, about 15% of Austria's 2000 priests, called for "long needed reforms" and the "admission of women and married people to the priesthood." On Holy Thursday, Pope Benedict publicly rebuked these priests and said that he would not tolerate disobedience. "We preach not private theories and opinions, but the faith of the Church, whose servants we are," he said.
Pope Benedict needs our prayers. We pray for him at every mass but this is insufficient. He is obviously a very troubled man with a strong insecurity streak. Of course, he has a very limited background in that he has never really served as a pastor and seems to have no contact with ordinary Catholics. Private theories and opinions? Apparently he is ignorant of church history where married priests have been the norm and there is much documentation for women clergy. Anyway, these are matters of church discipline and are not central to the faith. And these are hardly private opinions but the common sense beliefs of most educated Catholic lay people.
April 8, 2012
HAPPY EASTER! With the rest of the Cabrini staff, I hope that this Easter will be an occasion of great joy and happiness for all the members of our parish community and those who join us this weekend. We pray that the tremendous meaning of the Easter celebration will give new meaning and purpose to our lives.
We extend a very special welcome to those who are baptized this Easter!
Having celebrated Lent and Holy Week as well, a special word of thanks must go out to all who have made this a special time. This includes all who generously give their time and talent to make our liturgies especially graceful and grace-filled. Many help to prepare the church and assist in ministry. Thanks to those who help with the liturgical environments, the plenitude of musicians and liturgical ministers with the great support of our liturgist, Chris Kosowski. And special thanks to our administrator, Marie Rossa, maintenance person, Dave Hinrichs, and Maintenance committee who keep the church and facility looking good.
This weekend, we gather to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We sing wonderful music that speaks of our praise, adoration and joy! But in reality, every Sunday in the Christian Church is an Easter Sunday, because we remember Christ’s resurrection each week. I thank you for your generous stewardship. You make it possible to share the Easter message every day. Thank you for all the outreach through such wonderful programs as Loaves and Fishes and Habitat for Humanity. These are also signs of new life.
INDIAN TACOS It is not a Lenten food but with the Easter Season Indian Tacos are coming to Cabrini after the 5 pm mass on May 5th. (This is easy to remember, 5-5-5 for $5.) Along with the Tacos served on freshly made fry bread, there will be Prairie Dogs or sausages wrapped in fry bread ($3). Funds raised will help members of the Gichitwaa Kateri community go to the national Tekakwitha Conference in July. Try it, you will like it.
CONGRATULATIONS DE LA SALLE HIGH SCHOOL Yes, the De girls' basketball team won the Minnesota Class AAA basketball title for 2011-12 as did the boys' team. But I am most proud about my Alma Mater (class of 66) for the way the students have responded to the Archdiocese's efforts to pass the proposed amendment to our state constitution limiting civil marriage. Apparently the Archdiocese is sending out their own "teams" consisting of a married couple and priest to promote the teachings of the church on marriage at area Catholic high schools. But the presenters only speak to seniors most who will be able to vote next Fall and they brought up the amendment. A number of students objected to some of what was presented including comparing the love of two men in a committed relationship to bestiality. This is obviously all part of the Archbishop's million dollar plus campaign to change our constitution.
Recently people have sent me checks. Rather than supporting the Archdiocese's Catholic Service Appeal this year, they have asked me to find a deserving recipient. I have found one.
April 1, 2012
NOT AN APRIL FOOL'S JOKE Recently a number of people I know have courteously written the Archbishop and met with the Chancellor for Canonical Affairs (great name) to discuss their concern over the shortage of priests and the need to consider expanding those who may be ordained. In both cases they were informed that there is no shortage in the Archdiocese. No fooling.
HAVE A HOLY WEEK I look forward to these liturgies each year. Hopefully you will be able to participate in many of these moving celebrations. I am most grateful for the great support here at Cabrini and for all those who are involved in making this happen especially for our liturgist, Chris Kosowski. With my other parish and the added elements for the liturgies at Blessed Kateri I more than double my involvement. It will be a stretch. As I travel back and forth between the parishes I will just be thankful with our Archbishop that we do not have a shortage of priests.
WHO WE ARE IN BED WITH Archbishop Nienstedt and the Minnesota Catholic Conference in their quest to pass the amendment to the Minnesota state constitution limiting civil marriage are partnering with a number of questionable organizations including the highly partisan Minnesota Family Council and the National Organization for Marriage (NOM).
NOM was active in passing a similar ballot initiative in Maine in 2009. Recently some of their tactics have come to light. This is from an actual NOM document:
From “National Organization for Marriage Board Update 2008-2009”
C.) Not a Civil Right Project
The strategic goal of the project is to drive a wedge between gays and blacks — two key Democratic constituencies. Find, equip, energize and connect African American spokespeople for marriage; develop a media campaign around their objections to gay marriage as a civil right; provoke the gay marriage base into responding by denouncing these spokesmen and women as bigots. No politician wants to take up and push an issue that splits the base of the party. Fanning the hostility raised in the wake of Prop 8 is key to raising the cost of pushing gay marriage to its advocates and persuading the movement’s allies that advocates are unacceptably overreaching on the issue. Consider pushing a marriage amendment in Washington, D.C.; find attractive young black Democrats to challenge white gay marriage advocates electorally.
Nice people. You are judged by the company you keep.
INDIAN TACOS It is not a Lenten food but with the Easter Season Indian Tacos are coming to Cabrini after the 5 pm mass on May 5th. (This is easy to remember, 5-5-5 for $5.) Along with the Tacos served on freshly made fry bread, there will be Prairie Dogs or sausages wrapped in fry bread ($3). Funds raised will help members of the Gichitwaa Kateri community go to the national Tekakwitha Conference in July. Try it, you will like it.
March 25, 2012
QUIT THE CHURCH? The above title was on the America Magazine blog site posted March 11 by Sidney Callahan. Her posting continued:
On Friday. March 9 The New York Times ran a full page ad by the Freedom From Religion Foundation. In an open letter addressed to “liberal and nominal” Catholics they were told that now is the time “to quit the Roman Catholic Church.” The implication is that Catholics only stay because they haven’t had the smarts to see how their loyalty is “enabling” the church’s benighted and pernicious errors.
Helpfully, the free from religion folks provide a long list of oppressive “dark age” errors that “must be stopped.” One can become a member of their crusade by sending checks ranging from $40 (Individual) to $100 (Sustaining) to $500 (Life) to a puzzling category of (After Life) for $5000. This pitch for money prompted one wag to reply, “Hey people, you can quit for free you know.”
The ad, with crude cartoon caricatures, presents its own panoply of errors. First off, there is the simple minded identification of the church with the hierarchy. Absent from consideration are worship, scripture, spirituality, prayer, theology, saints, works of mercy and the social gospel. God, the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ, the reality of the church’s life, are ignored or dismissed as remnants of “ideas uttered long ago by ignorant men.”
The ad admonishes Catholics to “free yourselves” from illusion and realize that “you’re better than your church.” In a “moment of truth” Catholics should “exit en mass” and adopt Thomas Paine’s words, “My own mind is my own church.”
Mmm. And what exactly makes your own mind the sole infallible guide to goodness and truth? Surely such solipsistic and self-satisfied admonitions and slogans may keep Catholics in the fold –or at least provide an ironic laugh.
Yes, in a learning, ever reforming church on pilgrimage, there are going to be disagreements, differences and disappointments. It is ever thus. Better in the end to follow Erasmus in his reply to Martin Luther when reproached for remaining Catholic in a troubled time. "I put up with this church, in the hope that one day it will become better, just as it is constrained to put up with me in the hope that I will become better.”
It is interesting that another group, ultra conservative Catholics, make the same simple minded identification of the church with the hierarchy and also admonish more liberal Catholics to leave the Catholic Church. I am sticking with Erasmus.
MAY WE SEE THEE MORE CLEARLY This weekend in the gospel we hear some people asking the apostle Philip, “Sir, we would like to see Jesus.” As we approach Holy Week with the celebration of Palm Sunday next Sunday, this is a good request for all of us. We all hope to deepen our relationship with Jesus. As the prayer of St Richard of Chichester states, “Most merciful Redeemer, Friend and Brother, may we know you more clearly, love you more dearly, and follow you more nearly, day by day.”
March 18, 2012
BUT WHO IS COUNTING? Last week it was reported that a long term head of the accounting staff at the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis was fired after "potentially illegal financial transactions" were uncovered. This is the significant part: as reported by local TV Station, Channel 9, "Several people within the Archdiocese who know details of their own internal investigation said they spoke to FOX 9 News about the fraud because they were concerned the church wouldn't come clean about the fraud and would try to keep it quiet."
Last month it was revealed that the Archbishop without apparent consultation transferred $650,000 of diocesan funds last year as an initial payment to the political effort to change our state constitution.
Last year, in a panicked reaction to losses to the Archdiocesan lay pension plan after questionable asset allocations, and again without wide consultation, the Archbishop froze the plan and thus broke the promise made to these employees.
Something is not adding up here.
MY THOUGHTS ARE NOT YOUR THOUGHTS It began with Bullwinkle, from the TV show, "Rocky and his Friends," that I began a long term relationship with moose. It became more real on numerous canoe trips to the BWCAW, often with young people, where a moose sighting would be the high point of a trip. More recently many have been concerned over the precipitous decline of the state's moose population.
I have therefore appreciated the field reports in the New York Times coming this Winter from the isolation of Isle Royale National Park in Lake Superior by the dedicated scientists who for 50 years have been conducting the wolf-moose Winter Study. John Vucetich a wildlife ecologist who leads the study has been sending the reports. His most recent dispatch tries to get into the mind of a moose.
"The snow is not catastrophic, just difficult. Do they wonder why they suffer? Do they linger a few moments longer before getting up again and then sigh before plowing through the snow for another bout of foraging? Moose certainly have thoughts, and some we understand — the fear of being chased by a wolf, the pleasure of eating fresh blue-bead lilies in the spring. But our knowledge about the content of most moose thoughts — thoughts that are as real as any of my mine — lie at the fuzzy boundary between inference and imagination."
This is a remarkable spiritual insight. Somehow it all comes together in the mind of God. And the human mind remains much closer to Bullwinkle's.
March 11, 2012
A NECESSARY RUSH TO JUDGMENT On March 2nd, John DeGioia, the first lay president of Georgetown University, in the face of Rush Limbaugh's slurs against a Georgetown student, issued the following letter. His quotation from St. Augustine should be studied and prayed over by our bishops, too many of whom have added to the incivility of our public debates.
Dear Members of the Georgetown Community:
There is a legitimate question of public policy before our nation today. In the effort to address the problem of the nearly fifty million Americans who lack health insurance, our lawmakers enacted legislation that seeks to increase access to health care. In recent weeks, a question regarding the breadth of services that will be covered has focused significant public attention on the issue of contraceptive coverage. Many, including the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, have offered important perspectives on this issue.
In recent days, a law student of Georgetown, Sandra Fluke, offered her testimony regarding the proposed regulations by the Department of Health and Human Services before a group of members of Congress. She was respectful, sincere, and spoke with conviction. She provided a model of civil discourse. This expression of conscience was in the tradition of the deepest values we share as a people. One need not agree with her substantive position to support her right to respectful free expression. And yet, some of those who disagreed with her position – including Rush Limbaugh and commentators throughout the blogosphere and in various other media channels – responded with behavior that can only be described as misogynistic, vitriolic, and a misrepresentation of the position of our student.
In our vibrant and diverse society, there always are important differences that need to be debated, with strong and legitimate beliefs held on all sides of challenging issues. The greatest contribution of the American project is the recognition that together, we can rely on civil discourse to engage the tensions that characterize these difficult issues, and work towards resolutions that balance deeply held and different perspectives. We have learned through painful experience that we must respect one another and we acknowledge that the best way to confront our differences is through constructive public debate. At times, the exercise of one person’s freedom may conflict with another’s. As Americans, we accept that the only answer to our differences is further engagement.
In an earlier time, St. Augustine captured the sense of what is required in civil discourse: "Let us, on both sides, lay aside all arrogance. Let us not, on either side, claim that we have already discovered the truth. Let us seek it together as something which is known to neither of us. For then only may we seek it, lovingly and tranquilly, if there be no bold presumption that it is already discovered and possessed."
If we, instead, allow coarseness, anger – even hatred – to stand for civil discourse in America, we violate the sacred trust that has been handed down through the generations beginning with our Founders. The values that hold us together as a people require nothing less than eternal vigilance. This is our moment to stand for the values of civility in our engagement with one another.
BEARING UP My other parish, Gichitwaa Kateri integrates some wonderful Indian customs into our season of Lent. Most of the decorative items are removed from our Buffalo Skin altar but a Bear skin is placed over the Buffalo. This connects with the lenten tradition of fasting. Jesus fasted 40 days in the wilderness on his vision quest before beginning his ministry. The bear fasts and hibernates over winter. The bear also gives birth to new life during the winter hibernation time. Wherever the bear roamed tribal cultures respected her for her ability to heal. The bear disappears in the winter to reappear only in spring so the bear is also a symbol of renewal and rebirth.
c4me.org Please give serious consideration to signing the Catholics for Marriage Equality Mn Statement of Support. You can find it at www.c4me.org.
Jason Adkins, executive director of the Minnesota Catholic Conference, defends the campaign in this way: "We don't believe we're imposing anything on anybody in terms of ideas...We're simply training ... and working in educating and informing our citizens to go out and be good citizens in the public arena and explain to others why we think this is an important issue. People are free to object to that ... but we like everybody else have a responsibility and the freedom to participate in public debates."
It is important for all voices to be heard in the face of the million plus dollars of our contributions that the Minnesota bishops are spending to change our State Constitution. We are free to object to what we feel is wrong. Indeed, we have a moral responsibility to express our convictions.
March 4, 2012
GIVING UP VIOLENT LANGUAGE FOR LENT Father Tom Garvey pointed out to our esteemed liturgist, Chris Kosowski, the martial language of the opening prayer (collect) for Mass for Ash Wednesday, according to the new Roman Missal translation: Grant, O Lord, that we may begin with holy fasting this campaign of Christian service, so that, as we take up battle against spiritual evils, we may be armed with weapons of self-restraint. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit. one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
We did not have mass on Ash Wednesday here or at Gichitwaa Kateri, so I did not see this prayer. I agree with Chris who said, "Yikes! I simply cannot pray with campaigns, battles, and weapons as the imagery for this lenten time. I doubt many can. I wonder how many people in churches across the English-speaking world actually listened to those words yesterday. And what did they think?!”
ITS A CHALICE NOT A CUP Among other linguistic innovations in the new English translation of the Roman Missal is replacing the "cup" used by Jesus at the last supper with "chalice" in the eucharistic prayer. Even though Paul repeats this original usage in his description of the eucharist, "when we eat this bread and drink this cup...," this was not Pope Benedict's cup of tea and so the innovation.
I was reminded of this in a recent advertising "campaign" (sorry Chris) by the brewer of Stella Artois beer based on their iconic beer "glass". Using the refrain, "A CHALICE IS NOT A GLASS", the International Chalice Board of Leuven, Belgium, pontificates (ironically): "As a discerning member of La Société, there is one talent that you naturally possess. That is the ability to distinguish a Stella Artois Chalice from an ordinary, run-of-the-mill, and spectacularly unremarkable glass. It all sounds simple. A Chalice is not a glass. And a glass is not a Chalice." Such distinctions were also quite popular in Alice's wonderland.
HONOLULU DIOCESE TO OFFER SPOUSAL BENEFITS TO EMPLOYEES IN CIVIL UNIONS The Diocese of Honolulu has approved policy that essentially gives the same rights to same sex or opposite sex couples as they do for married couple in civil matters. The new policy is titled, “Norms for Employment, Admissions to Catholic Schools, and Pastoral Leadership in Response to Hawaii’s Civil Union Law.” Regarding employment benefits, the norms state: “It is the policy of the Catholic Diocese of Honolulu not to discriminate against a civil union partner in the treatment or eligibility for benefits under discretionary policies or state law benefits,” according to a report in the Hawaii Catholic Herald (Jan. 6, 2012), the diocesan newspaper. The norms state in part, “Civil union partners are not necessarily engaged in activity contrary to Catholic teaching.” The policies explain further: “Two friends, whether same-sex or opposite-sex, with no sexual relationship could legally enter into a civil union. A couple, same-sex or opposite-sex, could also participate in a chaste relationship. Any of these couples may have entered into a civil union solely for employment benefits such as medical insurance or other benefits.”
The Hawaii civil union law, which passed during last year’s legislative session and went into effect on January 1, 2012, allows same sex couples and opposite sex couples to enter into a legal relationship that is not marriage, but which has all the benefits and rights the state offers married couples.
MINNESOTA CATHOLIC CONFERENCE CHANGES After serving less than a year, Cathy Deeds, who heads the marriage amendment effort of the Minnesota Catholic Conference, the lobbying arm of the state's Catholic bishops, is leaving the position rather abruptly. She previously served as a political operative in the George W. Bush administration. She is being replaced by two new outreach coordinators, Crystal Crocker and Richard Aleman. I hope to get to know them.
February 26, 2012
ARCHBISHOP AND YOUR PASTOR THANK PRESIDENT OBAMA Thanks to our President and his Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act small businesses are able to receive a tax credit for the health care insurance they provide for their employees. As he has a great appreciation for non-profit and religious organizations, including the Catholic Church, such organizations are entitled to the credit even though they pay no corporate federal tax. The Archbishop had his office coordinate this effort so that all diocesan parishes could participate. Marie Rossa, our parish administrator, just sent in our Federal business income tax return so as to receive a credit of $5,138. Thank you, Mr. President.
ITS LENT: ASHES TO ASHES An old lawyer's maxim, when you have the facts argue them, when you have the law, argue it, when you have neither obfuscate. We see this at work with the Archdiocesan authorities attempt to squash the lovely memorial garden at St. Edward's Catholic Church in Bloomington, as reported in the Star Tribune on February 21. The State of Minnesota official in charge of cemeteries made clear in the article that cremation is final disposition and one can do anything you want with cremains. The controlling church law states that cremains should not be scattered but interred in the ground. This is what the St Ed’s garden provides. Though the Archdiocese's attorney in the article likes to confuse the issue with words like the garden could be a "burden," over a year ago he was not able to show me or the parish trustees any civil or church law supporting this assertion. It sounds impressive but it signifies nothing. At a February 4, 2011 meeting at the Chancery, this same attorney unable to make his case said that, "We will get back to you." He never did.
The attorney also questions the suitability of biodegradable containers interring the cremains. I regret to inform the diocesan authority that everything on this earth is scheduled to degrade, it is merely a matter of time. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust remains the norm. Then again, he might want to correct those renegade Trappist monks who for a thousand years have interred their deceased brothers in cloth sacks directly into mother earth.
The church should be about giving comfort and doing the corporal works of mercy such as burying the dead. The memorial garden at St. Ed's has proven to be a place of healing and hope. By their fruit you shall know them.
OOPS My reference to the Seventh Day Adventists and the blood transfusions in last week's bulletin is not correct. Adventists have no problem with transfusions. In fact, they have a very admirable health care system and much wisdom regarding healthy living. I had meant to say a Jehovah Witness employer who chooses not to fund employee medical insurance providing blood transfusions.
February 19, 2012
LOVE YOU DAD My father died over 3 years ago. There has not been since a day that I have not thought of him. He was a good man. After I was born he entered college and then law school so that he graduated when I was about 7. He did this on the GI bill (Thank you FDR) and my parent's sacrifices. I remember that as a new attorney he joined the Catholic Lawyer's Guild and among other things vowed that he would not handle divorce cases as divorce was against church teaching. He did not join some firms where he would have been required to do this kind of legal work and when he later went into private practice he freely referred such cases to other lawyers. After Vatican II and with a more nuanced understanding of divorce, Catholic lawyers no longer have such concerns.
Sometimes as a person of faith you are called on to make some sacrifices for what you believe rather than using political means to enforce your beliefs on others. In Ireland for example, the Catholic Church simply pressured the state to prohibit divorce in their national Constitution. But here, Catholics including Catholic lawyers simply did not participate in what was against their conscience. They did not demand the state putting their beliefs into law.
I believe that this might be the model for the current controversy over the provision of contraception coverage with Catholic institutions serving the general public. Perhaps these are areas best served by non-Catholic agencies. There is really no reason now for there to be Catholic hospitals. Today public hospitals provide much more "charitable" care than private hospitals including Catholic ones. When the Sisters of St Joseph came here in 1850 no one else was serving the sick. Now we see health care as a responsibility of civil society. The Sisters of St Joseph graciously gave up their hospitals to serve in areas of greater need such as the uninsured and undocumented with the Carondolet Clinics. God bless them. How much more credibility they have than our bishops who act as corporate chieftains throwing their weight around.
In these controversies I think of the small business owner who is a Jehovah Witness (correction) and, thus, does not believe in blood transfusions. Should that employer be allowed, according to the bishops' thinking, to provide only those employee health insurance plans that exclude coverage of transfusions (the blood products, the medical supplies, medical staff time, etc.) Should his or her employee who requires
blood transfusions, have to pay out of pocket for those transfusions simply because their employer happens to be that small business owner and does not want to provide such health insurance coverage?
AKA BENEDICT XVI “For (Blessed John Henry) Newman, conscience represents the inner complement and limit of the church principle. Over the pope as the expression of the binding claim of ecclesiastical authority there still stands one's own conscience, which must be obeyed before all else, if necessary even against the requirement of ecclesiastical authority. This emphasis on the individual, whose conscience confronts him with a supreme and ultimate tribunal, and one which is in the last resort beyond the claim of external social groups, even of the official Church, also establishes a principle of opposition to increasing totalitarianism. Genuine ecclesiastical obedience is distinguished from any totalitarian claim which cannot accept any ultimate obligation of this kind beyond the reach of its dominating will.”
Joseph Ratzinger on article 16 of Gaudem et Spes, in Volume 5 of the "Commentary on Documents of Vatican II", edited by Vorgrimler (New York/London 1969).
February 12, 2012
RECEPTION, RECEPTION, RECEPTION With real estate it’s location, location, location. In the life of the church it’s reception, reception, reception. This is the long standing church tradition that valid teaching and practice must be accepted by the faithful. The people's common sense and lived experience has the final word. Blessed John Henry Newman wrote a book about this reality. A good example of this was the appointment by Pope Benedict of an ultra conservative bishop to a Austrian diocese a few years ago. The people simply rejected him as their leader and the appointment was withdrawn.
In 1968 Pope Paul VI issued the encyclical Humanae Vitae, On Human Life. In it Paul went against his own chosen international committee and restated the prohibition of artificial birth control. He did not intend it as infallible teaching and a number of national bishop conferences took exception to it. Overwhelmingly the faithful have not accepted this teaching. Sadly, Pope John Paul made it the litmus test for the appointment of bishops. This is what is at work in the current controversy over the provision of contraceptive coverage in insurance policies, including that needed for non-contraceptive medical purposes. Good medical practice is being obstructed. Note that for the less subservient European bishop conferences such coverage is not an issue.
If our church leaders truly believed that this teaching was compelling they would not seek to legislate it. The teaching should stand on its merits. Indeed, there are some good aspects to how the church now positively supports natural family planning. Most people, especially most women, in all polling including Catholics, do not see the problem with informed, conscientious decisions about planning their families. Faithful Catholics of good will simply do not see this as a matter of faith.
It is also hard for many of us to see this as a simple matter of religious freedom. Indeed there are some states that already have health insurance regulations with contraceptive coverage required for religious institutions that serve and employ the general public. The bishops in those states have found a way to live with this. There is talk of consciences being violated but this works both ways. Not only bishops have consciences.
Reception rules, although rear guard actions can continue the cause until all credibility is dissipated. Another example of this is from a recent lecture by the Archbishop of New York, Timothy Dolan, at the Fordham Law School where he actually asserted that those who postpone conception with "chemicals and latex" are "part of the culture of death." This is not a serious statement. It is simply foolish and uncharitable.
In such disputes, the tired platitude that the church is not a democracy comes up. This is only true in that the church should be better than a democracy. Like Jesus, the church should be about giving voice, giving respect, to every person. Church leaders are servants not lords and masters. A true teacher is a learner. The church should be about enabling conversation where all must listen and all can speak, especially those who have the lived (and graced) experience of what is being considered.
JUSTIN MARTYR WE NEED YOU I love the description of the mass given by the martyr Justin in about the year 150. It describes a mass not unlike that we celebrate here at Cabrini and which is some degrees removed from a Pontifical high mass. Justin notes that at the eucharistic prayer the presider offers up prayers "to the best of their ability." Therefore the following article by Bill Rowe in the St. Louis Post Dispatch of February 3 caught my eye:
For 18 years, the Rev. William Rowe has done a little improvising while celebrating Mass on Sunday mornings at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Mount Carmel, Ill. Now those deviations have led to his resignation in an incident that may be tied to global changes to the Catholic liturgy.
Last Sunday, instead of saying "Lord our God that we may honor you with all our mind and love everyone in truth of heart," during the opening prayer, he altered the phrasing to better reflect the day's Gospel message, in which Jesus heals a man with a troubled spirit. "We thank you, God, for giving us Jesus who helped us to be healed in mind and heart and proclaim his love to others," the 72-year-old priest prayed instead. Three days later, Rowe received a letter from Bishop Edward Braxton accepting his resignation.
"The problem is that when I pray at Mass, I tend to change the words that are written in the book to match what I was talking about, or what a song is about," Rowe said in an interview. The book in question is the Roman Missal, a book of prayers, chants and responses used during the Mass. Rowe has been saying some of those prayers in his own words for years.
But in December the Vatican-mandated adoption of a new English-language translation of the Missal may have given bishops an opportunity to rein in freewheeling priests who have been praying in their own words for decades.
"Since December when the new translation came out, no one has said what would happen to you if you changed stuff," said the Rev. John Foley, director of the Center for Liturgy at St. Louis University. "But I find it hard to believe a priest in Illinois would be forced to resign because he wasn't using the exact words from the translation. It's not a strong-enough offense for that."
.... Rowe said Belleville's previous bishop, Wilton Gregory, had discussed his off-the-cuff prayer habit with him, referring to the practice as "pushing the envelope." He said five years ago, Braxton also discussed the matter with him, and asked him to read directly from the Missal. "I told him I couldn't do that," Rowe said. "That's how I pray."
Last summer, Rowe said, Braxton made it clear to his priests that "no priest may deviate from any wording in the official Missal." In October, two months ahead of the introduction of the new Missal translation, Braxton said he couldn't permit Rowe to continue improvising, according to Rowe. The priest offered his resignation but didn't receive a response.
Braxton did not respond to a request for an interview with the Post-Dispatch. On Monday, Braxton wrote Rowe a letter informing him that he'd accepted his resignation. The action did not sit well with the nearly 500 families at St. Mary's, some of whom are contemplating a letter writing campaign to Braxton. "They're devastated," said Alice Worth, principal at St. Mary's School. "Father Bill is the backbone of our parish."
"The ways Father changed the Mass ritual with his words have only made it more meaningful to us as opposed to distancing us from the church," Worth said. "Everything he does is based on our faith, it's not just a whim. There's a reason for every word he prays."
$650,000 BUT WHO IS COUNTING The Archdiocese in a press release admitted to spending $650,000 as the Archbishop's first installment in the campaign to change our state constitution. As if to excuse spending this incredible amount of money, it is identified as "investment income." But as our bishops like to plead in their campaigns against President Obama, "money is fungible."
Exactly a year ago the Archbishop froze the diocese's lay pension plan. Although promises were made to our employees, in a panicked reaction to some poor investment decisions, the Archbishop without consultation (at least beyond those responsible for the problem) simply walked away from what was promised. The excuse? We did not have the money. Someone once said, "where your treasure is, there your heart will be."
[Note: Copies of the Archdiocesan Memorandum are available at the church entrances.]
February 5, 2012
MORAL CREDIBILITY OF PRIESTS UNDERMINED "The Tablet" is a weekly lay published Catholic periodical coming out of London, England. It has wide circulation throughout the English speaking world. In the January 14 issue our own Archdiocese was cited. "Archbishop John Nienstedt of St Paul, Minnesota, has issued a 'gag order' on priests who disagree with his vocal opposition to same-sex-marriage proposals. 'There ought not to be open dissension on this,' Archbishop Nienstedt reportedly told priests at a meeting last year. 'If any have personal reservations, I do not wish that they be shared publicly.'"
Indeed, this statement should get wide circulation for it is quite amazing. In effect, the moral credibility of every priest in the Archdiocese is undermined by this command. Parishioners have no reason to know if on a matter of major moral consequence their pastors actually agree in conscience with a teaching they are ordered to promote. This is also most unusual as the constitutional amendment is not a matter of church doctrine but rather concerns public policy and personal civil rights. Other bishops have shown no such need to impose our Catholic teaching about marriage on other citizens of different faiths or no faith through such political methods. It brings to mind the Irish hierarchy's effort to prohibit divorce in the Irish national constitution.
THANK YOU CABRINI The Inter-Tribal Elder Services Board of Directors made the decision to close the organization due to insufficient funding going into the 2012 calendar year. On January 25 they held a celebration to acknowledge the work that was accomplished over the past years. Richard Wright, a parishioner of Gichitwaa Kateri, community leader and board member, conducted a traditional closing ceremony. So often we have "grand openings" and such events but it is also important to ritualize and even celebrate endings. This a very important value in the American Indian community. A lovely breakfast was provided that will allow people to speak and share their stories. Volunteers from Cabrini helped to serve the meal. This was very much appreciated by all present. Thank you.
January 29, 2012
A GOOD STARTING POINT FOR OUR BISHOPS For many years the gay pride parade in Chicago took an established route. Apparently due to road construction, the city wanted to have the parade make a detour this year. Among concerns was that a Catholic church was on the new route and the parade took place at the same time the church had services. The parade organizers agreed to change the start time of the event and the church's pastor had no objections.
Nevertheless, on Christmas Day, Chicago's Cardinal Francis George was quoted comparing the gay pride parade to the KKK, "You know, you don't want the gay liberation movement to morph into something like the Ku Klux Klan, demonstrating in the streets against Catholicism." There were many objections made to George's remarks and he soon had to backtrack.
"I am truly sorry for the hurt my remarks have caused," George said "Particularly because we all have friends or family members who are gay and lesbian. This has evidently wounded a good number of people. I have family members myself who are gay and lesbian, so it's part of our lives. So I'm sorry for the hurt." George said he didn't expect the public uproar over the comments.
"When I was talking, I was speaking out of fear that I have for the church's liberty and I was reaching for an analogy which was very inappropriate, for which I'm sorry," George said. "I didn't realize the impact of what I was saying. … Sometimes fear is a bad motivation."
Sometimes? Fear seems to permeate much of our church authorities' attitude towards sexuality although sexual abuse by clergy did not seem to register fear for the victims.
On a generous note, Chris Pett, president of Dignity Chicago, welcomed the cardinal's apology. "This is not about power. This is not about control. This is about a church and its ministry and its shepherd," he said. "We believe in reconciliation. It's not a time to continue to draw battle lines and go back to prior history. It's time to say we're grateful for that gift for someone realizing that he or she misspoke in a
way that caused some harm and seek forgiveness."
George said although church teaching does not judge same-sex relationships as morally acceptable, it does encourage the faithful to "respect everyone." He added, "The question is, 'Does respect mean that we have to change our teaching?' That's an ongoing discussion, of course. … I still go back to the fact that these are people we know and love and are part of our families. That's the most important point right now."
Ongoing discussion, love and respect, part of our families...This is where the Church should be. It is a good starting point for our bishops.
January 22, 2012
WELCOME JIM ACCURSO Jim Accurso has joined the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis’ Communications Office as Media and External Relations Manager. Jim is a former assistant director of media relations for the Archdiocese of Chicago, and also served two Chicago-area Catholic parishes as marketing communications director and public relations coordinator.
On his first day on the job I called and left a message of welcome and an invitation to talk over a coffee or beer. Communication is essential and our Archdiocese has had a real problem with it in terms of what we are communicating and how we communicate. I of course googled Jim and was happy to find out that he has been active in Voice of the Faithful. Indeed, he was much involved in their priests of integrity forum. I was also happy to see a positive tweet from him about President Obama. This is a 180 from what the Archdiocese formerly communicated by saying that he is the most anti-Catholic president in US history. (A very nutty statement.)
We have good news to share, hopefully Jim will help us and our Archbishop to do this.
ANOTHER WISE BISHOP Not all church leaders are alike. I have quoted Cardinal Christof Schoenborn of Vienna who has publicly stated that the church needs to reevaluate its teaching on committed same sex relationships. And more recently Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster in London stated that we can even praise civil unions of those in committed same sex unions. I have just read a statement of Bishop Joseph Sullivan, a retired bishop from Brooklyn which was published in the Buffalo News. What follows is from him:
“One need only flip through some of today’s cable news channels to witness how some of our society’s most sensitive public policy matters are overly simplified in black-and-white terms, in which only the most strident voices seem to get heard. Of those many hotly debated issues, the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community continue to make headlines.
“What you would probably be surprised to learn is that Catholics are among those who increasingly are reaching out pastorally to the LGBT community. A recent study released by the Public Religion Research Institute found that a majority of Catholics believe that job discrimination against gay and lesbian people should be outlawed. By almost 2 to 1, Catholics believe that gay and lesbian couples should be allowed to adopt children.
“The views of Catholics about the LGBT community have been evolving for years. Catholic teachings compel us to work toward the elimination of unjust structures and to treat people with dignity, regardless of their state in life or their beliefs. My own understanding of this community has also evolved over the course of four decades of ministry.
“Given that Catholics represent approximately one-quarter of the U. S. population, the changing attitudes of Catholics toward greater degrees of LGBT equality most likely will be a significant influence in the public square. Across the country there are increasing numbers of parishes that welcome LGBT parishioners and their families to active participation in the church. Catholic colleges and universities are in dialogue with their LGBT students, and Catholic retreat houses provide retreats specifically for LGBT Catholics.
“Catholics and other religious people who support LGBT rights do so because of their experience of engagement with members of the LGBT community. They are not rebels in their churches, but people who have taken spiritual messages of inclusiveness and welcoming to heart. They are taking the church’s teaching on social justice and applying it to pastoral practice in engaging the LGBT community.
“We see these teachings play out as Catholics across the country engage in prayerful and meaningful dialogues about understanding and embracing the LGBT community. This dialogue is happening amongst faithful families, in student groups on the campuses of Catholic universities, and within church congregations. This dialogue is admittedly difficult, at times, but important.
“More than a decade ago, the U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a graceful message, Always Our Children, which reminded us, For St. Paul love is the greatest of spiritual gifts. St. John considers love to be the most certain sign of God’s presence. For most Catholics, there can be no statement that better summarizes an attitude of welcoming of our LGBT brothers and sisters than those of Jesus, love one another as I have loved you.”
NOT MUCH Governor Romney recently stated that "...my income comes overwhelmingly from some investments made in the past, whether ordinary income or earned annually...And then I get speaker's fees from time to time, but not very much." Romney made more than $374,000 in speaker's fees between Feb. 2010 and Feb. 2011, according to his financial disclosure.
LOCAL PRIEST MAKES GOOD TOO Father Louis Hennepin who spent one winter back in 1687 in our vicinity and who later encountered the falls which he named after his patron saint, Anthony, just up river from Cabrini, was in the news last week. And this time the news about a Catholic priest was fairly good. In the New York Time Book Review, on the back page, there was a full page ad from the Bauman Rare Books Gallery. Among the books being auctioned was Fr Hennepin's "A New Discovery of a Vast Country in America," the 1st English Edition, published in 1698. Included are folding maps and plates. The offering notes, "These maps influenced the planning of the Lewis and Clark Expedition." The cost? $30,000. Not much.
January 15, 2012
SEEING RED Pope Benedict just appointed 18 new cardinals and church scholars were struck that many of the new group of cardinals were working at the Vatican or headed Italian dioceses, reversing a trend in which Popes Paul VI and John Paul II had sought to appoint more cardinals from Latin America, Africa and Asia, areas where two-thirds of the world’s Catholics now live. The NCR jounalist, John Allen, commented, “What this means is there will continue to be this obvious disjunction between the Catholic Church on the ground and the Catholic Church at the top.”
Among the 18 new cardinals under age 80, seven are Italians and only two came from dioceses in developing countries: India and Brazil (another came from Hong Kong). Although there are twice as many Catholics in Africa as in the United States Benedict named no African cardinals. Father Tom Reese, a respected church commentator, stated that, "No one ever said that the Catholic Church is a one-man, one-vote operation, but it looks strange when Brazil, the biggest Catholic country in the world, has so few cardinals and Italy has so many.” Of course, the Cardinals themselves, garbed as minor Renaissance princes, look rather strange no matter where they come from.
A READ HARING Bernard Haring was a Redemptorist priest and renowned professor of moral theology at the Alphonsianum Academy in Rome. Among the graduate students whom he advised
was none other than our own Archbishop Nienstedt. I took note in the recent Natiional Catholic Reporter in a review by Raymond Schroth of a new book by the redoubtable Matthew Fox that Haring is
among those Fox considers people of absolute integrity..."Fr Bernard Haring is best known as the pioneering moral theologian who centered his ethics on the virtue of charity. Drafted into the German army in 1940, observing the 'diabolical actions of German Christian soldiers' in the name of obedience convinced him that obedience could never be a core concept in moral theology. It must be the courage
to be responsible." (He never made Cardinal but he is still worth reading.)
IN THE RED Last week, on January 5, I noticed that on this day in 1914, Henry Ford announced a $5/day minimum wage and an 8-hour workday in an effort to bolster productivity and cut down on employee turnover. The move was opposed by other manufacturers, but turned out to be a financial success, and Ford's profits doubled in a couple of years. Ford on its own corporate web site credits the idea with helping to create an American middle class that could afford to buy Ford's cars.
I googled an inflation calculator and discovered that what cost $5 in 1914 would cost $104.49 (or $13.06/hour) in 2010 using the Consumer Price Index. Today the minimum wage for both Federal regulations and the State of Minnesota is $7.25. I also googled CEO pay in 2010. CEOs of the largest companies received on average $11,400,000 in total compensation or about 189 times more than their average employee.
I must note that the "total compensation" does not include all the perks and retirement benefits which are hard to uncover. But just sticking with the $11.4 million and assuming they worked all 366 days of the year (I give them the leap year) they earn $31,148 per day. And granting that they work 24 hour days their hourly wage is $1,297. I keep seeing red.
January 8, 2012
CHRISTMAS LIST COMPLICATIONS Santa has his list. We all have lists to check off as we prepare for Christmas. This year it was a bit more complicated for some among us in our Archdiocese. One pastor reported that two people needed to call him about the Christmas masses this year. A visiting son was willing to take his mother to the Christmas eve service, but being gay, he would not go if the Archbishop's prayer for marriage was being used. The mom called and the pastor reassured her that it would not be said. Another woman with a gay brother called to make the same inquiry as she did not want to hurt her visiting brother. Again the caring pastor responded that they would not be using the prayer.
Thank God these parishioners had a trusting relationship with their pastor and felt that they could raise their concerns. No doubt others just stayed away not wanting to cause hurt to their family members. And some say that committed same sex relationships are harmful to families.
YOUR VOTES COUNTED Thank you 10,000 times over to everyone who voted for the Parks
& Trails Council's project in Midwest Mountaineering's Wildlands Acquisition online voting contest, which ended last week. Midwest Mountaineering's Rod Johnson reported that the Parks & Trails Council's Mill Towns Trail project had received the most votes and so had won the $10,000 grant to help make the project possible.
The Parks & Trails Council will use the grant to connect two regional parks along the Cannon River to each other and protect land for a 1,500-foot canoe portage and 3.75 miles of trail heading east along the southern shore of the river. When completed, it will connect the Mill Towns State Trail to the popular Cannon Valley Trail. This acquisition will provide multiple, year-round outdoor recreation opportunities, including hiking, walking, canoeing, jogging and rollerblading. It might make a wonderful parish bike outing once completed.
INDIAN TACO BINGO? This Sunday January 8, the church of Gichitwaa Kateri will hold the first Taco Bingo of the year. You are invited and you do not want to miss it. Actually, you do not have to play bingo although there are some great prizes. But the Indian tacos are unique. They are made with delicious Indian fry bread. It is something you have to experience. The church is at 3045 Park Avenue in south Minneapolis just a block south of Lake Street. It begins after the 10:30 mass, which should be about 11:45 depending on how long their long winded pastor preaches.
INDIAN ELDERS BREAKFAST VOLUNTEERS The Inter Tribal Elders Services Program is being discontinued. They plan to have a final breakfast gathering and closing ceremony on Wednesday, January 25 from 9 AM until noon. We need some volunteers to help cook, serve and clean-up. If you are able to help from about 8 AM that morning let me know. It will be at the historic Christ Church Lutheran located at 3244 34th Avenue South, in Minneapolis. The worship building was designed by the firm Saarinen and Saarinen, a father and son partnership of Eliel Saarinen (1873-1950) and Eero Saarinen (1910-1961), the project was Eliel Saarinen's last completed building.
Come to help at the breakfast, stay to see this interesting place of worship!
January 1, 2012
THE UNFINISHED WORK OF CHRISTMAS
This reflection by Howard Thurman is most appropriate as we begin the New Year:
When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The works of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among brothers
To make music in the heart.
December 25, 2011
PERSON OF THE YEAR: MERRY CHRISTMAS! Time magazine just pronounced the Protester as person of the year. After such an eventful year with the Arab Spring it is most appropriate. It all began with a young Tunisian fruit vendor Mohamed Bouazizi (29 March 1984 – 4 January 2011 who set himself on fire on 17 December 2010, in protest of the confiscation of his wares and the harassment and humiliation that he reported was inflicted on him by a municipal official and her aides. His protest became a catalyst for the Tunisian Revolution and the wider Arab Spring.
But his act was not just a protest but an affirmation: every person is of value no matter what their earthly status. The first Christmas could be seen in this light. Whether from the crib or cross, or from his daily ministry of outreach, Jesus' life was a protest against hate and injustice. And what an affirmation. As Hans Kung stated, “Jesus is God's yes to humans.” Jesus came to open our eyes to affirm that he was a brother to us all and that we have a God who cares for us with unconditional love.
Thank God for those prophets who stand up to say when things are not right. They affirm a great truth that is at the core of Christmas: God so loved the world…
WORD OF THE YEAR: HAPPY NEW YEAR! Each year the staff of the Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary reveal the most looked up word of the past year. For 2011 the word is "pragmatic." The word, an adjective that means practical and logical, was looked up so often on Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary that the publisher says "pragmatic" was the pragmatic choice for its 2011 Word of the Year.
"Pragmatic" may have sparked dictionary users’ interest both because they’d heard it in conversations, and because it captures the current American mood of encouraging practicality over frivolity, said John Morse, president and publisher of Springfield, Mass.-based Merriam-Webster.
"‘Pragmatic’ is a word that describes a kind of quality that people value in themselves but also look for in others, and look for in policymakers and the activities of people around them," Morse said.
It is a word that should resonate in church life as well for the coming year. Instead of quixotic efforts to instill archaic liturgical language or ideological crusades in the political arena, our church should focus on the life of our Founder with his acts of practical kindness and compassion.
HELP! I NEED YOU: Voting deadline is this Wednesday, December 28, 12:00 noon for Parks & Trails Council project which seeks to purchase land that connects Lake Byllesby (on the Cannon River) Regional Park to the Goodhue County Park securing a 1,500 foot canoe portage on the river and 3.75 miles to the bike trail. Cast your vote at: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/wildlandvoting. Thanks!
December 18, 2011
CAN I GET YOUR VOTE One of the organizations that I love, in fact, serve on their board, is the Parks and Trails Council of Minnesota (www.parksandtrails.org) which as its name suggests, exists to support the wonderful system of Minnesota's State Parks and Trails. A very generous community business, Midwest Mountaineering, is offering a $10,000 land conservation grant to the organization that receives the most votes for their project. The Parks and Trails Council project seeks to purchase land that connects Lake Byllesby (on the Cannon River) Regional Park to the Goodhue County Park securing a 1,500 foot canoe portage on the river and 3.75 miles to the bike trail. This key connection also ensures that federal matching funds for a bridge over the Cannon River would not be forfeited. There are two other organizations in the running and both are good. Indeed, I also support them. But please take a minute to review the three candidates and consider a vote for the Parks and Trails project which is the most local. Cast your vote at: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/wildlandvoting (Voting ends on December 28th)
Please see me or the website for more information on the Council. It has been around for 60 years and has been in the forefront of supporting our great state system of parks and trails. Members also receive the quarterly Minnesota Trails magazine.
I AGREE WITH THE ARCHBISHOP ON SAME SEX RELATIONSHIPS The head of the Catholic Church in England, the Archbishop of Westminster (London), Vincent Nichols, recently praised civil partnerships for those in committed same sex relationships. Speaking for the Catholic bishops of England and Wales after their annual meeting, the Archbishop stated: “We would want to emphasize that civil partnerships actually provide a structure in which people of the same sex who want a lifelong relationship [and] a lifelong partnership can find their place and protection and legal provision.”
Explaining the Church’s position on gay marriage, the Archbishop said: “As a Church we are very committed to the notion of equality so that people are treated the same across all the activities of life … The Church holds great store by the value of commitment in relationships and undertakings that people give. Stability in society depends upon the reliability of commitments that people give. That might be in offering to do a job but especially in their relationships with one another. Equality and commitment are both very important and we fully support them.”
December 11, 2011
I WAS IN PRISON AND YOU VISITED ME Last Tuesday, the Star Tribune had an article, "Visits Paid to Prison Pay Off," reporting on a Minnesota Department of Corrections study that links visits to prisoners playing a significant role in improving public safety and reducing corrections costs. Sadly the study noted that 40% of prisoners never receive a visit. As it turned out the previous Thursday I was visiting an inmate at the Lino Lakes Correction Facility and two mothers with young children were waiting to visit. It was apparent that it is a big undertaking for them to make such visits.
Indeed there is data showing the average in-person visit considering travel and overnight lodging can be $500. The State of Virginia has a Video Visitation Program as a way for families to meet with their imprisoned family or friends without having to invest the time and money in traveling long distances to correctional facilities. Churches and other community based sites are used for such videoconferencing. Are their any Cabrinistas willing to look in on doing this in Minnesota? Lets talk.
POST OFFICE DELIVERS THE GOODS Last Monday, the U.S. Postal Service was in the news with major downsizing in the face of huge budget deficits. Nevertheless the mail must go through and each day the Post Office delivers over 500 million letters and packages and this is not expected to change that much. The Post Office has a long and great history going back to its founding by Benjamin Franklin. Please note that Cabrini is on Franklin Ave!
That same day I received an envelope from the Archdiocesan payroll department with a check for my services with the Office of Indian Ministry. Included in the envelope was a substantial check with the notation, "housing," as in monthly housing allowance. This was made out to a priest who quite a few years ago was removed from active ministry I believe due to allegations of sexual abuse of a minor.
I of course called the payroll department to inform them of the mix-up and sent on the check to its intended recipient. But I found this most interesting. The priest when he was first removed from parish ministry received specialized technical training and has some very marketable skills. When he was later removed from any work in the Archdiocese he had the ability to get a well paid job in large part thanks to the Archdiocese (and his own talents.)
What a contrast to those priests who leave active ministry for conscientious reasons such as to marry. Just now a long standing and talented pastor is in the process of leaving ministry. He is scrambling to transition into the job market and will be on his own. A good friend of mine left ministry after about 30 years of very productive ministry due to his desire to marry. After a number of years he still struggles to piece together a living through multiple part time jobs. He receives no monthly check from the Archdiocese. His pension will be much reduced and will be much less than priests who have served many fewer and less productive years. I suspect the housing allowance cited above is coming out of the pension or similar funds.
And do not get me started on how the Archdiocese a year ago in a panicked reaction froze the lay pension plan. Adjustments could have been made to continue the plan. This decision especially affects single women who make up a large part of the diocesan workforce.
For years I have been trying to get accurate information about Archdiocesan financial matters. For over a dozen years I have been concerned especially about the pension plans. Archdiocesan officials publicly stated that I did not know what I was talking about. I do admit that they made it difficult. It was only when the pension was frozen that it was acknowledged that just prior to the 2008 stock market melt down the lay pension plan which was then over 100% funded actuarially had the assets allocated 80% in stocks and so took a very big hit. And thank God for the U.S. mail.
December 4, 2011
"MY DEAR, I SEE THAT LIFE IS EVOLVING" These words are attributed to Adam as he and Eve were leaving the Garden of Eden. It is a profound insight and is most often associated with Charles Darwin who is credited with the scientific theory of the evolution of life. His birthday was February 12, 1809. Coincidentally, this is also the birthday of Abraham Lincoln who perhaps could be credited with seeing our national Constitution as also undergoing evolution. Both of these people had a profound appreciation of history and change.
Sadly, religion is often seen in opposition to evolution and change, but this need not be the case. Indeed, another person born about the same time (February 21, 1801), John Henry Newman, underwent much evolution in his own long life of almost 90 years. Baptized as a Evangelical, through his study and prayer he first became an Anglican and then entered the Roman Catholic Church, eventually becoming a Cardinal. Most importantly, he revealed the evolution of Christian doctrine. His famous dictum is, "In a higher world it is otherwise, but here below to live is to change and to be perfect is to have changed often."
For the last six years I have been participating in the Clergy Letter Project which seeks to connect religious communities with supporting the teaching of evolution. This began in 2004 by biologist Michael Zimmerman. The Project encourages congregations to participate in Evolution Weekend by sponsoring events in which clergy and congregations are encouraged to learn about and discuss evolution. The weekend chosen is the closest Sunday to Darwin's birthday of February 12. Evolution Weekend activities are "an opportunity for serious discussion and reflection on the relationship between religion and science" and in an effort "to elevate the quality of the discussion on this critical topic, and to show that religion and science are not adversaries." The Project states that events are specifically intended to emphasize that "Religious people from many diverse faith traditions and locations around the world understand that evolution is quite simply sound science; and for them, it does not in any way threaten, demean, or diminish their faith in God. In fact, for many, the wonders of science often enhance and deepen their awe and gratitude towards God."
The 2012 weekend is February 10-12, 2012. I have signed up our community (see http://www.theclergyletterproject.org). So far we are the only RC congregation. If any Cabrinistas have ideas for how we might participate I am open to change.
November 27, 2011
BACK TO THE BASICS Advent is a time of origins, a time of beginnings. It is a time to recall simpler, more basic realities. I am reading the book, Ten Popes who Shook the World, by Eamon Duffy, a professor of Church History at Cambridge University. This Advent we begin using the new Roman missal. The prayers at mass will be wordier with more complicated phrasing. I was interested in his words about St. Peter and the early Christians who "embodied an understanding of religion that was entirely alien to Roman civilization....(where) worshiping the gods involved not the inner transformation of heart and mind, but the performance of certain prescribed external actions..."
ACCOUNTABILITY News reports about the Penn State sexual abuse case note that unlike the Catholic priest sexual abuse cases, there have been major consequences at the university for those in leadership. Last week a St. Paul Catholic priest was convicted of criminal sexual misconduct. The Archbishop who knew or should have known his history nevertheless appointed him pastor in a town 40 miles distant from supervision. The victim when aware of this appointment courageously expressed her concerns to the Archbishop. The court testimony reported that the Archbishop wrote the victim that she should "trust the shepherds of the church." The offending priest was found guilty by the jury but there have been no repercussions for those in authority.
THANKSGIVING I hope all have had a good Thanksgiving weekend. Mine began with our Ecumenical Service last Monday. I was thankful for the presence of 6 communities that gathered with us including Prospect Park Methodist, Faith Mennonite, the Ethiopian Gospel Church, Dignity Community and Compassion of Christ Catholic Church. It was a moving service and sharing continued with the reception afterwards. Thanks to all who participated and helped out, especially to our parish liturgist, Chris Kosowski.
November 20, 2011
MORE BAROQUE? I recently mentioned the odd public comment from the executive director of the Minnesota Catholic Conference, that we need more Baroque and less Barack. I wonder if the man actually knows much about the Baroque age. There is a new biography out on the sculptor, architect, painter, playwright, and scenographer, Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598–1680) whose "artistic vision remains palpably present today, through the countless statues, fountains, and buildings that transformed Rome into the Baroque theater that continues to enthrall tourists."
The publisher notes, "It is perhaps not surprising that this artist who defined the Baroque should have a personal life that itself was, well, baroque. As Franco Mormando’s dazzling biography reveals, Bernini was a man driven by many passions, possessed of an explosive temper and a hearty sex drive, and he lived a life as dramatic as any of his creations. Drawing on archival sources, letters, diaries...Mormando leads us through Bernini’s many feuds and love affairs, scandals and sins. He sets Bernini’s raucous life against a vivid backdrop of Baroque Rome, bustling and wealthy, and peopled by churchmen and bureaucrats, popes and politicians, schemes and secrets."
I am not sure what the Director wants less of Barack. His no drama even temperateness, his sexual fidelity, his obvious concern for other people...But if so, I guess bring on the Baroque.
IF IT AIN'T BAROQUE DON'T FIX IT Each Advent I look forward to the simple words, plaintive music and comforting rituals of the season. This year it is a bit more complicated as we initiate the use of the new missal. The new missal actually begins with the prayers for the first Sunday of Advent. You would think that the Vatican appointed functionaries would have made a special effort to at least get the first Sunday right. Wrong.
Consider the convoluted phrasing of the prayer after communion: "May these mysteries, O Lord, in which we have participated, profit us, we pray, for even now, as we walk amid passing things, you teach us by them to love the things of heaven and hold fast to what endures. Through Christ Jesus." This translation does reflect the Latin phrasing which is Pope Benedict's fixation. However, the original Latin has a much different meaning. The meaning of the Latin is clear that the mysteries are what causes us to love the things of heaven in the midst of passing things. This hackneyed translation reverses this. The passing things of earth seem to connect us to the eternal and not the mysteries we celebrate.
This panentheistic interpretation is one that I actually agree with, but it is not what the Latin states in its more dualistic worldview.
And now listen to what was in the former English missal which we have used since the 1970's: "Father, may our communion teach us to love heaven. May its promise and hope guide our way on earth. We ask this through Christ our Lord." Using the translating principal of dynamic equivalence and not literal word for word translation, this wording is much clearer, more to the point, and has a simplicity in the spirit of Advent.
November 13, 2011
MORE CABRINI & LESS CRAZY The relationship of church and state, or more broadly, religion and politics, is important especially in today's charged environment. I was therefore interested in attending the Archdiocese's Office of Family Life sponsored conference on Catholics in the Public Square last Saturday, November 5. I was quite disappointed at the level of discussion, in particular, the comments of the new executive director of the Minnesota Catholic Conference, Jason Adkins.
Noting the recent Catholics in America Survey, Adkins lamented, "Unfortunately, the Catholic population is a diverse lot." From that he stated that we need to be more authentically Catholic and follow the Magisterium and not our own consciences. Needless to say these views are in line with much Church teaching and behavior before Vatican II and its concluding document, "Dignitas Humanae," on religious freedom. Pluralism, tolerance and conscience thankfully are in the mix and not just at Cabrini.
Apparently Adkins is a parishioner at St Agnes (let a thousand flowers bloom, I appreciate the Aggies and their sung Latin masses) and he attempted some humor to his rather disturbing presentation by quoting a fellow parishioner, "We need more Baroque and less Barack."
GOING FOR BAROQUE According to the national newspaper, The Irish Independent, a well known Irish priest has launched a critique of the Catholic Church hierarchy, saying they are sticking their heads in the sand over a number of crucial issues, such as women priests, "We are the only profession that excludes women..."
Fr Joe McGuane, who is chaplain at the St Raphael's Center in County Cork, made his comments as relations between the church and the Government sank to a historic low after the Irish government confirmed the forthcoming shutdown of Ireland's embassy in the Vatican.
McGuane said the Eucharistic Congress, to be held in Dublin next summer, was "designed as a distraction", with interest in it -- on a scale of one to a 100 -- ranking as minus three. He added: "Priests will have to drag themselves along to, I suppose,...for a ridiculous jamboree, and dragoon as many parishioners as possible along with them."
Fr McGuane stated that he took no pleasure in his assessment of the problems facing the church, but warned that those problems could only be overcome with honesty, courage and transparency.
"Our prelates are, by and large, incapable of initiative and innovation. They are almost entirely bereft
of ideas. They have no idea what to do...There have been proposals that all bishops ... should resign. This would be useless while the present system of appointments is in place. Clones would replace them. They, in turn, would appoint similar clones to all positions and their characteristic would be blind
knee-jerk unconditional obedience, no matter how stupid the instruction."
TOLLE LEGE! "Take up, and read," so the voices spoke to Augustine. The Voice of the Archbishop is speaking to us in his first Pastoral letter. I suggest you take this up or rather download it at archspm.org. This is not only his first word but it sounds like the last word on the liturgy as experienced in the Archdiocese. Pray about it.
November 6, 2011
"SCANDALOUS EVENTS AT ST FRANCES CABRINI" The above phrase headed an email of a letter that was addressed to the Archbishop but was kindly copied to me along with our auxiliary bishop, vicar general, Archdiocesan liturgy director and our parish deacon. It came from a person who recently attended a mass here who immigrated from a country formerly under the orbit of the Soviet Union and who now is employed at the University of Minnesota. I could not help noticing this person irreverently scribbling notes throughout the mass that they attended. I purposely went and welcomed this person after the mass with an invitation for further conversation but apparently this person felt more comfortable just reporting their concerns directly to the Archbishop. I want to copy the parish on this correspondence and you will find it below. It is good to know how some others perceive us however eccentrically.
There are some serious misstatements of fact in the letter but I am more concerned with the tone. I get the feeling that this person may have been scandalized at the Last Supper. Our worship does reflect more the Eucharistic celebrations depicted in the letters of St Paul or in the writings of Justin Martyr and certainly is far removed from a full Pontifical High Mass.
This informant might like to know that since the mass they attended I have had my knee surgery and will not need to cross my legs so often. I am happy to note that this person does go out of state to satisfy their need for a proper weekday mass. Perhaps Cabrini is not that satisfactory for their weekend worship and providentially there is even a local Tridentine option.
Recently some of you have told me of letters of support that you have sent to the Chancery. Sadly, your letters will not be answered and possibly not even read, at least by those to whom they are addressed. (That has been my experience.) Some of you have worshiped here for 50 or even 60 years and yet this three time visitor presumes to be a collaborator with the highest diocesan powers concerning our community. What is most telling is the focus on rubrics but not one mention of Jesus. Catechesis is needed. Let us pray for this person.
October 30, 2011
MITAKUYE OYASIN Mitakuye oyasin, Dakota for "all my relations" was the phrase that permeated the sweat lodge ceremony that I was privileged to attend a week ago. The spiritual leader, Ray Owens, asked us to repeat this phrase as we knelt to enter the lodge, and then to use it as each person spoke their prayers, and finally as we crawled out of the lodge. This beautiful phrase is a deep message of the sweat ceremony, where the prayers are for all peoples, all creatures, all creation. Ray stressed how the Creator does not want us to exclude others because of race or gender or orientation. If only all our spiritual leaders could be so wise.
MEMENTO MORI During the Middle Ages there was the spiritual practice of meditating on one's death, memento mori, remember that you will die. St Francis in his hymn to creation memorably spoke of sister death. This is good Darwinian biology. Death can be embraced not only as part of life but essential to continued evolution. As we approach the month of November with the celebration of All Saints and All Souls it brought to mind the recent death of Steve Jobs and his commencement speech at Stanford University in 2005:
"No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true."
THE THIRD GENDER I read a fascinating article in EcoSalon by Anna Brones about Shannon Galpin, founder of the non-profit Mountain2Mountain which works in Afghanistan to advance education and opportunity for women and girls. Shannon is also a passionate mountain biker and amazingly has biked in a number of areas in Afghanistan even though Afghan women cannot ride bikes let alone the mines and Taliban.
As a foreign woman she falls under the status of the third gender, a concept that treats foreign women as honorary males, and allows them to interact as equals with men, while still being a woman and therefore have full access to the women. In essence, acting as their proxy when they do not have a voice. "As a mountain biker I’ve felt the weight of women’s oppression knowing that in Afghanistan, women can’t ride bikes, but have embraced the Third Gender concept to the hilt by experiencing this country on two wheels. Via my motorcycle and my mountain bike I have ridden in several areas of Afghanistan, in the hopes that I could change stereotypes back home about the beauty and future tourism of Afghanistan, while challenging the stereotypes in Afghanistan of women on bikes."
The Third Gender concept might even have application in the Vatican.
October 23, 2011
COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS I was asked to help get a couple celebrating their 70th wedding anniversary a papal blessing. (This is a small but positive way that we can support marriage.) I have not helped with one of these for awhile (indeed, this is my first request for a 70th, it is for my aunt and uncle) and so learned that the Vatican recently changed its requirements for the issuance of papal blessings. It was a surprise to read that for wedding anniversaries, "the couple's first names, e.g., John and Joan Doe, must be provided; a blessing will not be issued in the name of a Mr. and Mrs., e.g., Mr. and Mrs. John Doe." Feminism is making inroads.
But not so surprising was the statement, "As in the past, papal blessings are reserved for baptized Catholics; non-Catholics, the deceased, animals, and inanimate objects will not be granted a blessing." God's blessings might prodigally fall upon the good and the bad but popes have more limited graces.
OUT OF THE SHADOWS Among the blogs that I follow is that of the Cardinal Archbishop of Boston, Sean O'Malley. There are usually some unusual items of interest. Every so often he is pictured with women at their public profession of vows to live as hermits. Last week he blogged, "I was pleased to preside at the profession of our latest hermit," and included a photo of himself with said hermit. He in fact looked pleased. I would not usually associate hermits with such publicity but that's me.
One reason that I love him is that the Cardinal does include a diversity of views in his blog. Some might even be considered unorthodox. Among his regular columnists is Father Tadeusz Pacholczyk whose current article is on what in an earlier age (that I assumed was long over) was called "the marital debt." (Yes, Father is in favor of it.) This article might serve as a recruitment tool for hermits.
A THREAT TO MARRIAGE Over the last few years and increasingly I have heard
Catholic parents tell me that their children, brought up in the faith and often quite active in the church as teens, will not consider getting married in a Catholic Church. The predominant reason is their rejection of the church's stance on gays and lesbians and their relationships, and in particular the recent focus on passing a constitutional amendment limiting marriage. I wish that the Star Tribune would still run their Minnesota poll and get some data on this phenomenon. Ironically, and certainly unintentionally, our bishops could be one of the biggest drivers for the rejection of traditional marriage. This deserves investigation.
THE GOOD THAT WE DO Cabrini Partnership is celebrating its 25th anniversary next month. This is a program whose mission is to provide housing and services to support homeless adults with mental illness and chemical dependency to strengthen their lives. As their name suggests, they began through the efforts of members of our community. I became familiar with this group when I was at St. Edwards as our parish gave regular tithing gifts to them. Indeed, one of St. Ed’s parishioners is on the board. I have made a number of onsite visits over the years and have been most impressed. When things seem a bit more crazy than one would like in church politics I need to remind myself that the gospel continues to be shared and lived.
October 16, 2011
I KNEEDED THAT This week I am having arthroscopic surgery for a torn meniscus (on my right knee, too much genuflecting). I hope to remain a Catholic priest in good standing.
MEA CULPA OR IN MY CASE MEA MAXIMA CULPA On Thursday the Archdiocese had its Communications Day for parish staff. Although Thursday is my usual day off, I gladly donned my "There's a place for you at Cabrini" rainbow button and attended. As fate would have it, I happened to sit right behind the Archbishop and so before the event began asked him to reconsider his all out support for the marriage amendment. I have not yet convinced him.
During the tightly scripted Q&A with a panel including the revered vaticanologist and NCR reporter, John Allen, I briefly took over the microphone to speak of the elephant in the living room. Pointing out that although the day was devoted to "communications," yet there was not a word about the Archdiocese's major year long communication effort to "marshal our resources" as Catholics to pass the marriage amendment to the state constitution. Indeed, hundreds of thousands of dollars will be spent by the statewide Catholic Church in this crusade. Just last week the Archbishop sent out a letter to all pastors asking us to form committees to mobilize each parish in this effort to get out each Catholic to vote in favor of the marriage amendment. I simply asked why this fixation? And what are we communicating?
I added that just the previous night I had attended the magnificent production by the Guthrie Theater of "The Burial at Thebes," based on Sophocles' Antigone which presents the conflict between man (yes, man) made law and conscience. The tyrant Creon's son speaks truth to power by telling his father that people are speaking behind closed doors. Fearful to speak publicly nevertheless people are talking. And how true that is in our Archdiocese. As one college student asked me, why this jihad against gay people?
After my meager attempt to point out the obvious, the Vicar General kindly gave me some words of needed correction and informed me that just this week he received a number of complaints about my homily and liturgy last weekend (and not at Kateri, my American Indian parish). May I gently suggest that if you have the need to make complaint just email or call me (but by all means copy the Archbishop). I enjoy talking with people about their concerns and have even been changed by such interactions. I am sorry if I caused unnecessary pain but note that my homily was about a parable by Jesus that perhaps was a bit upsetting to his hearers.
To be clear, I intend to offer the Archbishop all the respect that he deserves. I will continue to pray for his soul each day. He is new to this area and has little empathy for our particular culture and needs our input in a way that he can hear. He will continue to receive my treating his actions with serious consideration.
PROPHETIC PERSPECTIVES This weekend for our first reading we have the passage from the prophet Isaiah about the great Persian leader Cyrus. He lived about 600 years before Christ (600 BCE) and was the ruler who allowed the Jewish people to return to the Holy Land after their exile in Babylon. For this he was revered by the Jewish people. Indeed, in today's passage the prophet Isaiah refers to Cyrus as God’s anointed, that is, “the Messiah.” This is a very amazing statement about any person, especially a Gentile or non-Jew. It is a very good reminder that the best of our religious tradition can see the good in others of different traditions and that God works in
ways beyond our expectations.
Last week, the British Broadcasting Company (BBC) announced that the date references B.C.E. (Before Common Era) and C.E. (Common Era) would be used in all television and radio programming instead of the more traditional B.C. (Before Christ) and A.D. (Anno Domini) designations. In an official statement, the BBC said the switch in terminology reflects the company’s “commitment to impartiality” and a desire to “use terms that do not offend or alienate non-Christians.”
In a front-page commentary on October 4, the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, said the change reflected a wider effort to “cancel every trace of Christianity from Western culture." It said, “To deny the historically revolutionary importance of the coming of Christ on earth, which is also accepted by those who do not recognize him as the son of God, is an act of enormous foolishness...Why not recognize that from that moment, the world changed?”
This date is connected to what happened 2000 years ago. If a generation is about 20 years, that would be 100 generations ago. The Trojan War would be dated about 160 generations ago. The culture of Mesopotamia in which agriculture developed was 500 some generations ago. Homo Sapiens, the modern human, is currently thought to go back 8000 generations. God's time frame is not easy to confine.
October 9, 2011
GULP I caught this in the National Federation of Priests Newsletter: The Diocese of Phoenix
will limit the offering of the cup as part of the Eucharist and reserve its distribution to special occasions, according to the Catholic News Service web site (Sept. 21, 2011). The change, according to the CNS report, will bring local Catholic celebration of the Eucharist into union with the practice of the faithful around the world, according to diocesan officials, who said receiving Communion under both kinds is uncommon in most countries. Father Kiernan Kleczewski, executive director of the Phoenix diocesan Office of Worship, said, “What many people don’t realize is that we’ve had experimental privileges.” He went on to say, “We’re now under the same norms as the church in the rest of the world.” Hooray!
Then again, life can be seen as an experimental privilege.
HARD TO SWALLOW Pope Benedict, on his recent trip to Germany, told the lay Central Committee of German Catholics, some of whose members have called for such moderate reforms as allowing women deacons and married priests: "The real crisis of the Church in the Western world is
a crisis of belief. If we don't find a way to really renew the faith, all structural reform will remain ineffective." These structural changes would presumably include the imposition of the new Roman Missal and taking away the chalice from the community.
STRUCTURAL REFORM RAISES ITS UGLY HEAD I have just finished reading the redoubtable Jason Berry's new book, "Render Unto Rome: The Secret Life of Money in the Catholic Church." For the past 25 plus years Berry has been at the forefront of investigating and reporting about sexual abuses by Catholic clergy. He now looks into a different kind of corruption following the money from U.S. parishes to the Vatican and exposing what he believes are practices contrary to Catholic teaching and values. Money buys influence and power, e.g., the sorry story of the Legionnaires of Christ and its founder, Marcial Maciel Degollado. One of the prime recipients of Maciel's largess was the former Vatican Secretary of State, Angelo Sodano, whose own nephew used his uncle's connections to buy U.S. church property at fire sale prices in the wake of the clergy abuse crisis. You cannot make this stuff up.
I wonder if Benedict would see this as a crisis of belief in the heart of his Vatican. It certainly calls out to heaven for structural reform.
I am now reading, "Retirement Heist: How companies plunder and profit from the nest eggs of American workers," by Wall Street Journal reporter, Ellen Schultz. Another unbelievable story which cries out for needed structural reforms. Recently our own Archdiocesan leaders froze the pensions of our lay employees. Secrecy and lack of accountability pervade all these stories.
October 2, 2011
SEPARATED AT BIRTH? Last Saturday I was struck by two articles in the Star Tribune. One concerned Michelle Bachmann campaigning for President. In Florida she found a new campaign mantra, "If there was any election where we conservatives don't settle, it's this election. This election we can have it all. Don't settle." Her attitude was reflected in another headline from the same issue about Benedict XVI's recent trip to Germany, "Pope rebuffs Lutheran appeals for compromise." We can have it all.
HELP, I NEED SOMEBODY, HELP, NOT JUST ANYBODY The Beatles said
it well. Sunday, November 6, Gichitwaa Kateri celebrates a special Memorial Mass at the American Indian Center on Franklin Avenue commemorating all those who died the past year whose wakes and funerals were held at Kateri. We conclude with a special meal. Volunteers are needed to help that morning with the food preparation and set up. If you can help please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call my voicemail at 612-339-3023, ext 111.
SERVANT LEADERSHIP I want to commend Tim Marx, CEO of Catholic Charities, for
his compelling article in last Tuesday's Star Tribune calling us to work together in addressing the growing poverty in our community. This is what our civic and church leaders should be doing rather than promoting more divisive and partisan issues such as the marriage amendment to our state constitution.
SPIN I received the following email from the Archdiocesan Communications Office: "A front page feature article about the Saint Paul Seminary and the vitality of vocations in our Archdiocese, is expected to run in the Star Tribune this coming Sunday. The story is currently scheduled to appear on the front page of the Twin Cities and Regional News Section. It is written by religion reporter Rose French who has interviewed seminary rector Monsignor Callaghan as well as current seminarians and faculty."
Some clarifications are called for. When I was in the Major Seminary, in the 70's, we had quite a few more students than they presently have. We had rather spartan accommodations compared to the new Major Seminary building and the current seminarians are given much more financial support. Most do not work during the summer to afford the seminary. In recent years, quite a few Midwestern major seminaries have closed and our seminary has benefited from this. Therefore, our Major Seminary draws from many more dioceses. The Major Seminary has also taken over a program for older, second career seminarians who used to go to the minor seminary on the St Thomas campus to finish their undergraduate requirements. The bottom line: "vitality of vocations" is probably not the operative wording. Indeed, this coming year only three seminarians are expected to be ordained as priests. But then again I am not in the Archdiocesan Communications Office.
September 25, 2011
The 697 CLUB I was never too sure what the TV preacher, Pat Robertson meant by the word "club" in the name of the organization, the 700 Club, which he heads. But apparently he and the 700 Club have gone down a few notches in the eyes of his fellow fundamentalists when he recently told a viewer of his show that it's OK to divorce his wife and remarry if she has Alzheimer's disease. Actually, Robertson gave a very nuanced answer saying that he wouldn't "condemn" or "put a guilt trip" on someone who did it under the right circumstances. And he stipulated that the obligation to provide custodial care couldn't be broken. You could tell he was really wrestling with the question as do many of us.
I found that even though his literal interpretation of the gospel would compel a rejection of divorce he nevertheless factored in his own experience. "I know one man who went to see his wife every single day, and she didn't recognize him one single day, and she would complain that he never came to see her. And it's really hurtful, because they say crazy things. … It is a terribly difficult thing for somebody, and I can't fault them for wanting some kind of companionship. And if he says in a sense she is gone, he's right. It's like a walking death."
Now if one of his grandchildren comes out…
In the American Indian tradition there is attributed a saying, do not judge a person unless you have walked in his/her moccasins.
Divorce has touched many of us and it calls for a pastoral response. I have been greatly disappointed with the direction of our Archdiocesan Marriage Tribunal in recent years. But the Catholic Charities' Services for Separated and Divorced, headed by Adaire Lassonde, continues to make me proud to be part of this Archdiocese. On October 25, from 7:00-9:00 pm they are hosting a program, Divorce Dos and Don'ts. If divorce is on the horizon for someone you care for call 651-647-3126 for information.
CLEANING UP MY ACT I was recently informed that the pastor's office at Cabrini where I am now situated was originally the rectory laundry room. The wisdom of the Archbishop sending me here is becoming more apparent.
September 18, 2011
MIIGWECH Thank you all who made the annual outdoor mass and picnic such a great day. What a wonderful way to gather on the 10th anniversary of 9/11. I was so glad that quite a few members of Gichitwaa Kateri could join us. Many of them told me how warm your welcome was. Also over 175 pounds of food and produce was collected for the Glendale residents and Food Shelf. Miigwech indeed!
WATCH OUT GRANDPA I enjoy reading "Preservation," the publication of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. In each issue they give special notice to buildings and other structures of historic value that are threatened (or saved) from the wrecking ball. The current issue highlights our neighbor Cedar Square West as "saved." Among those threatened was the 170 year old adobe St Anthony's Catholic Church which serves the close-knit community of Questa, New Mexico. Here it was the Archbishop of Santa Fe, Michael Sheehan, who did the threatening. The church did need major restoration (it is 170 years old) and at one meeting the Archbishop compared the church to a beloved grandfather, "When he dies, you bury him and you move on." (Great pastoral line, I have to remember this one.) Parishioner Bobby Ortega saw it differently, "Your Excellency, our analogy is that Grandpa isn't dead...we're trying to save him." The community is mobilized to make the renovation and have negotiated a reprieve of 6 years to complete it before the Archbishop can get his hands on it. This is a telling example of the inspired voice of the faithful and the pathetic "vision" of the current church higher ups. (You cannot make this stuff up.)
HISTORY & HUMILITY My brother priest, James Livingston, in a counterpoint article in last Monday's Star Tribune spoke in support of the marriage amendment restricting legal recognition to heterosexual relationships. Among his arguments is his opinion that, "History is not and never will be on the side of gay marriage." History is a long time and I would be somewhat more humble about such major statements. However, here is a history lesson from Mary Levin's book, "The Virgins of Venice," about life in a Renaissance convent: "The urge to confine and separate lives on - so too, no doubt, the power of human relationships to undermine the walls of enclosed institutions."
September 11, 2011
SEPTEMBER 11 ANOTHER PATH
Chuck Haga, a reporter for the Star Tribune interviewed a number of people the week after September 11, 2001 to get their reflections on what our nation was facing. The following is from the article:
The Rev. Michael Tegeder, pastor at St. Edward Catholic Church in Bloomington, said he counseled worried parents during the Gulf War. But he said he hopes that 'a more rational response' than full-scale war can be found to this crisis and that no massive mobilization will be required.
Tegeder led a memorial service Tuesday night for Tom Burnett Jr., a Bloomington native who was a passenger on the hijacked airliner that crashed in Pennsylvania.
'The perpetrators must be found and brought to justice. This is essential,' he said before the service. 'But in the long run, our country and world must achieve security as much with love, good works and good will as with overwhelming force and impregnable defenses.'
Americans need to know more about other cultures and parts of the world, Tegeder said.
'The reality is we're all on the battle lines already. The next time, it won't be a jet plane, but smallpox or anthrax or, God help us, a nuclear bomb. This is the kind of world we live in. Those poor people in the World Trade Center were on the front lines.'
September 4, 2011
US BISHOPS ANNUAL LABOR DAY MESSAGE
WASHINGTON, D.C., AUGUST 25, 2011 (Zenit.org).
The stark reality of unemployment and poverty is not only an economic problem, but also a moral challenge and a test of faith, according to the U.S. bishops. Bishop Stephen Blaire of Stockton, California, affirmed this in "Human Costs and Moral Challenges of a Broken Economy," the annual Labor Day statement of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). The statement was released Wednesday.
Bishop Blaire is the chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development.
The prelate said the economy is "broken in fundamental ways."
And he noted that "our faith gives us a particular way of looking at this broken economy. From the prophets of the Old Testament to the example of the early Church recorded in the New Testament, we learn that God cares for the poor and vulnerable, and he measures the faith of the community by the treatment of those on the margins of life. Jesus in his time on earth taught us about the dignity of work and said we would be judged by our response to 'the least of these' (Mt 25).
"Christians need to study carefully what Jesus taught about the use of money and wealth, a spirit of stewardship and detachment, the search for justice and care for those in need, and the call to seek and serve the reign of God. Based on these scriptural values, our Church has focused on work, workers, and economic justice in a series of papal encyclicals beginning with Rerum Novarum."
The document goes on to note the Church's view on work, workers' unions and solidarity with the poor.
"For Christians, it is not enough to acknowledge current difficulties." Bishop Blaire reflected. "We are people of hope, committed to prayer, to help those facing hard time and to work with others to build a better economy. Our faith gives strength, direction and confidence in these tasks."
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On the Net:
Full text: www.usccb.org/about/domestic-social-development/upload/Labor-Day-2011.pdf
August 28, 2011
WHAT ARE YOU PEDDLING? Last Monday the Strib had an article titled, “Riding in Tandem with God," about local churches actively promoting bicycling. As it happened, that very day I rode my bike to Cabrini, stopping first at Gichitwaa Kateri. (Most of the ride between the two churches is on the Midtown Greenway which is wonderful.) I was therefore very interested in hearing about what other churches are doing. For a few years the Basilica has had a blessing of bikes ceremony invoking the intercession of Our Lady of Ghisallo, the patron of cyclists (and of whom I was totally in the dark.) Included in the article was the connection of biking with stewardship, the environment and even human dignity.
I agree with Rat in "The Wind in the Willows" where he says, "Believe me, my young friend, there is NOTHING--absolutely nothing--half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats." But biking around town is right up there.
Others here seem to agree. Bicycling Magazine rates Minneapolis as the number one city in the US for biking. Sitting in my office I see bikers speeding downhill on Franklin Avenue (or peddling hard uphill) throughout the day. It is great to read that local churches are part of this reality. At previous parishes I have enjoyed bike rides with church youth groups. I am glad to see the bike rack here at Cabrini although I do get a little nervous about a catholic church being associated with racks. It would be good to get some of your thoughts on how we might be more bike friendly.
PARISH PICNIC SEPTEMBER 11 WITH GICHITWAA KATERI I am looking forward to our outdoor mass and picnic. Members of my other parish, Gichitwaa Kateri, have been invited and we hope to incorporate some of the American Indian traditions. At Kateri mass begins with a purification rite of smudging with the burning of sage. Sage is gathered and dried by our community at this time of the year and then dried for use for the upcoming year. Sage is one of the primary medicines. It is used for purification, cleansing of the heart, soul and mind, and for centering and focusing the heart, body, spirit, and mind. The sage is burned in large sea shells and eagle wings are used to smudge or smoke those participating in the service. It takes the place of the penitential rite. It should be noted that if you wear glasses, please remove them to extend the blessing to your eyes.
August 21, 2011
CHECK MATES The bishops of the US, unlike those of Europe, have decided to play a high stakes game of preventing same sex relationships, even those with children, from being legally recognized. They seek to block not just marriage but even civil unions. They do this in the name of protecting marriage. This when last week another ultra conservative bishop (Robert Finn in Kansas City- St Joseph) has been accused of failing to remove a priest from active parish ministry -- and work among young children -- for a year after detailed allegations of priest’s misconduct were hand delivered to the bishop's vicar general in a letter by a Catholic elementary school principal.
The accused priest, Shawn Ratigan, has been identified as a conservative collaborator of the bishop, marching together at prolife rallies. One former parishioner stated: “Shawn was conservative...He would say, ‘There was a wrong way and the church’s way.’ I would say to him, ‘The church was not always right.’ “He would say, ‘Michele, you just have to trust the church.’ ” But then the "church" must mean the people of God and not just the hierarchy. Thank God for the school principal who was the real good shepherd, willing to risk her job to protect children under her care.
On a very positive note parishes like Cabrini are doing the real work of strengthening marriage. In just a few weeks I will celebrate my first wedding here. The couple, Erin Lease and Patrick Johnson (congratulations to you two, this counts as publishing your marriage banns), have met with parish liturgist and wedding coordinator, Chris Kosowski. And then they met with one of our marriage mentor couples for additional support. What a great ministry.
It takes a parish to support a marriage. This is where our bishops should be focused. Just this week the National Marriage Project released the 3rd edition of "Why Marriage Matters: Thirty Conclusions from the Social Sciences." This is a fairly conservative group and yet same sex relationships are not a big concern for them. They put the focus on the need for committed relationships. The message seems to be check your mate not check who mates.
MEGWETCH Your response for school supplies for Blessed Kateri Church has been most generous. Thank you so much or "megwetch!"
August 14, 2011
WE PRAY TO OUR GOD I enjoy reading "Bread Rising," published by our parishioner, the redoubtable ( had to use this word two weeks in a row) Terry Dosh. In the current issue there is a news item about the Austrian Priests' Initiative. More than 300 priests belong to this group which promotes needed reforms in the Church. One action that they are taking occurs at mass. During the prayers of intercession they will include, "that those responsible at all levels in the Church take people's concerns and needs more seriously than the preservation of conventional laws and traditions." I would pray to that.
PRIORITIES I, and I presume all other Catholic pastors in the state, received from the Minnesota Catholic Conference a thick, 8 1/2 by 11 envelope bearing $1.28 postage. It was not bearing glad tidings, but did contain the "Introductory Marriage Amendment Toolkit." I believe that I have seen most of this before in a DVD format, but apparently more will follow of a less introductory nature. We will be digging deeper into the Marriage Amendment. For now "our first step" is a call to battle.
During the recent debates over the Minnesota budget priorities especially regarding the poor and vulnerable I remember no such effort to inform and engage the Catholic community on the part of the Minnesota Catholic Conference. Indeed, the MCC envelope even contains, most helpfully, "Legal Compliance FAQs." If I recall right, Jesus too had some FAQs. His Qs seem more concerned about the least among us. But then, he did not play politics or spend much time on legal compliance.
August 7, 2011
DOUBLE UP As pastor of two parishes (benefices?) it happened that within a week I attended two parish council (PC) meetings. Neither meeting was like those of the redoubtable Dibley Council, but they were both productive. I brought up to the Gichitwaa Kateri PC the invitation from the Cabrini PC for our parishes to join in celebrating the Annual Outdoor Mass and Picnic on Sunday, September 11. They decided to cancel Mass that day and join us. They also would like to share a saging ceremony at the start of the service. They were very enthusiastic about doing this gathering together.
Our liturgy committee will work out arrangements for the Mass with members of Kateri. This day is also the 10th anniversary of 9/11 so we need to be sensitive to this.
I also want to thank Mary Pat Lee for accepting the position of parish council chair and Jonathan Mauer-Jones for taking the assistant chair position. And thanks are also extended to Dave Schwain who steps down as our past chair.
SUPPLYING SCHOOL SUPPLIES It seems so simple, but a notebook full of paper and a pencil box with freshly sharpened pencils can make a big difference. Too often school supplies are an expense that families struggle to fit into their already tight budgets. The Church of Blessed Kateri is not self-sufficient financially to anticipate the need of school supplies for their kids and the need for school supplies is great. “It truly takes a community” to help so many children each year. Your gifts in the “back to school” collection help provide many kids with confidence, incentives and motivation to return back to school. There will be a box for the supplies by the church office. Thank you.
VOTF LETTER Voice of the Faithful is supporting an Open Letter to U.S. bishops about beginning a dialogue surrounding optional celibacy that could help alleviate the impending crisis in the number of our priests. Several priest organizations and national church renewal/reform groups also are joining this effort.
Studies show that half of the 19,302 active diocesan priests plan to retire by 2019. We are ordaining about 380 new diocesan priests each year. If the rate of ordinations remains constant, as it has for more than a decade, we will have only 13,500 active diocesan priests to serve our 18,000 parishes in just eight years.
To sign the Open Letter online, or to download paper copies to circulate among family and friends, or to download a free organizing kit, go to the Future Church website at www.futurechurch.org and look under "What's New." Only your name and diocese will be included in the online listing if you wish, or you may remain anonymous. There will also be a letter to sign on the table in the Franklin Entry area.
The Open Letter will be published in one or several national Catholic publications in 2011 and 2012. Every effort will be made to contact individual U.S. bishops and officials at the U.S. Bishops Conference.
July 31, 2011
Last week a priest of the Archdiocese, Father Joe Gannon, died at age 96. The Star Tribune had a Local News front page obituary about him due to his being a father and grandfather in addition to being an ordained Roman Catholic priest. This is to take nothing away from Father Joe Gannon. As the article stated, ordained at age 60 after his wife's death, he served almost 10 years as a priest before retiring from parish ministry. He then served occasionally as an ecumenical cruise ship chaplain.
Due to the secrecy policies of the Archdiocese, I am not sure if he received retirement benefits as a retired priest. He did qualify for them, and they are extremely generous for "late" vocations. What a contrast to some of my brother priests, ordained in their 20's or 30's, who spent some of their most productive years, ten, fifteen, even twenty or more years, in parish work, and then honorably left active ministry most often to marry. These priests lost much of the value of the benefits that they earned. Indeed, priests removed from ministry for sexual abuse or other misbehavior are treated much better financially.
And what a loss to the church. At St Joan of Arc parish in Minneapolis there are about 75 such married priests. The pastor there notes that he has more ordained priests than the Bishop of the New Ulm Diocese. Yet they are excluded from serving as priests. Obviously, I have just been assigned as pastor to two active parishes, Cabrini and Gichitwaa Kateri, replacing two recently retired priests, because of the shortage of priests.
There are church leaders much wiser than myself such as the Cardinal Archbishop of Vienna, Austria, who say we must return to the practice of the first thousand years of church life with a married clergy and even consider ordaining women. By large margins Catholics favor these long overdue moves. What message does it send that the Vatican allows married priests but only if they were former Protestant ministers or, if Catholic, that their wives must be dead?
July 24, 2011
Last week Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley of the Boston Archdiocese decreed that 6 diocesan churches be relegated "to profane but not sordid use." These apparently are viable communities, but there are no priests to staff them. I took interest in this because one of the parishes is the Church of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini in Scituate.
Actually the Cardinal attempted to close the parish, even changing the locks, almost 7 years ago but a number of parishioners have since held an around the clock vigil to keep the parish open. They call themselves, appropriately, the Friends of St. Frances X. Cabrini and state that their mission "is to be a vital, loving and effective Catholic faith community, inspired by the Holy Spirit and committed to the spiritual enrichment of its parishioners through the teachings of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ...Consistent with the mission of Mother Cabrini, we are committed to reaching out and offering support to all through various ministries and social programs." All of this and much more is found on their web site which can be googled.
This community is not unlike our own.
One interesting facet of their story : "The members of St. Frances believe that we have been unjustly shuttered via the flawed process of reconfiguration introduced by the Archdiocese of Boston and that this misguided decision was based solely on the value of our parish property - 30.3 acres of prime coastal real estate. We are unwavering in our commitment to reach a fair and equitable solution for the parish of St. Frances and also the Archdiocese of Boston. The Friends of St. Frances are even open to discuss the option of buying St. Frances, in essence purchasing our church twice."
The parishioners have not given up. God bless them. The Archdiocesan leaders come off as profane and sordid.
July 17, 2011
HIGH SCHOOL ENTHUSIASMS Next month I look forward to gathering with my DeLaSalle High School class of 1966 to celebrate our 45th anniversary. It got me to take a look at our LaSallian year book and see that what I most remembered from my 4 years on the Island was, "Short interludes of fun while learning." Not too embarrassing a statement and I still believe it to be accurate. I was then struck by a reference in the Washington Post to the favorite saying of House of Representatives Majority leader, Eric Cantor, from his high school yearbook, "I want what I want when I want it." Apparently it remains his governing principle now extended to our nation. There is some wisdom in the amusing article, "All I needed to know, I learned in Kindergarten," but high school?
THANK YOU ALL I really appreciate the kind reception that I have received since coming to Cabrini. You have been especially gracious in accommodating to my need (or more accurately, the Archdiocese's need) to have the Sunday liturgy at an earlier time to allow me to get to Gichitwaa Kateri Parish for their worship service. I really like the community spirit here.
July 10, 2011
DO UNTO OTHERS
This year I had a visit from a chancery official to discuss some concerns (his, not mine.) In the course of the discussion this person admitted that he expected our state to have civil unions legally recognized within the next few years. That train has left the station.
This of course does not mean everyone is on board. Last week saying that civil unions "promote an unacceptable lifestyle, undermine the faith of the church on holy matrimony, and cause scandal and confusion," Providence, Rhode Island, Bishop Thomas J. Tobin dictated that Catholics may not participate in such ceremonies.
“To do so is a very grave violation of the moral law and, thus, seriously sinful," he said in a statement June 30, the day after passage of legislation that will give same-sex couples who enter into civil unions the same rights and benefits as marriage in Rhode Island.
Of course, the bishop knows that this is the traditional teaching about divorce (and remarriage.) Such persons and their relationships are to be shunned for the same reasons listed above. Thankfully this teaching has not been received by the faithful and reception matters.
On a positive note I extend my prayers to Prince Albert of Monaco who, having over the years fathered a number of children, has now married a bride 20 years younger than himself. It should be noted that the couple first had a civil ceremony and the following day had their marriage blessed in a Catholic ceremony. This common practice in Europe which separates the civil and religious aspects of marriage eliminates much of the need for the cultural wars our bishops feel they must conduct. And a Catholic archbishop is free to bless a Prince and his relationships no matter what others may think.