Saturday, January 28, 2012

Faithful Helpers of God's Precious Infants at Maidstone, Kent, UK

My friend Carole Smith who co-ordinates the prayer vigils outside the Marie Stopes abortion provider in Maidstone Kent sent me these photographs of yesterday's (Friday) prayer vigil at which my brother Fr Stephen led prayers, after celebrating Mass in the local parish church. As mentioned elsewhere on this blog, I too led prayer vigils there as Maidstone was just 30 miles from my previous parish in South Ashford. Carole writes:
He was the main celebrant at the Mass and he gave us an honest and thorough homily on the spirituality of the Helpers.  He must have touched a few hearts because a couple of the parishioners came and joined us in the rosary at the 'death camp'.
The pro-life battle in the UK is hard and thankless. They do not have the consolation of massive pro-life demonstrations such as the Washington DC March for Life. However, lives are saved and hearts are touched. Please keep Britain, possibly the most secularised nation on earth, in your prayers.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Belfast school students launch internet prayerclub

Some of the boys on a pilgrimage to Rome give a gift to a young deacon
seminarian at the Irish College.
Students at De La Salle College, Belfast, have launched an internet prayerclub: De La Salle College Prayer Club Belfast! I happen to know that they (or at least some of them) are from Year 9 as they regularly check my blog and sometimes leave comments too. Their teacher (I'm not sure if she would like to be named) found my and, since then, even though we have never met, we keep in regular touch, corresponding on matters to do with faith and education. She takes the boys on pilgrimages to Rome, ensures they meet priests and seminarians capable of inspiring them to an authentic Catholic life and, God willing, a response to a calling to be priests themselves, etc. In his 2010 message for World Communications Day, Pope Benedict spoke about the importance of using the modern media, including the internet, as a means of evangelisation:

Responding adequately to this challenge amid today’s cultural shifts, to which young people are especially sensitive, necessarily involves using new communications technologies. The world of digital communication, with its almost limitless expressive capacity, makes us appreciate all the more Saint Paul’s exclamation: “Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel” (1 Cor 9:16) The increased availability of the new technologies demands greater responsibility on the part of those called to proclaim the Word, but it also requires them to become become more focused, efficient and compelling in their efforts. Priests stand at the threshold of a new era: as new technologies create deeper forms of relationship across greater distances, they are called to respond pastorally by putting the media ever more effectively at the service of the Word.
Among these young men might be some future priests who will harness the rich possibilities that modern communications techonology offers for evangelisation.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

March for Life Verizon Centre Homily

Found at the Archdiocese of Washington website.

Bishops call Catholics' Attention to threat to Religious Liberty

Bishop Sample praying outside Marquette's Planned Parenthood
facility March 25th 2011 (From 40 Days for Life Marquette Lent 2011)
[UPDATED January 26th 4:15pm to reflect the fact that Bishop Sample's letter is based on a model letter sent out by the USCCB.]

The Most Reverend Alexander K Sample, Bishop of Marquette, has published a letter to be read at all Masses this coming weekend. It follows the lines of a model letter suggested by the USCCB (United States Conferene of Catholic Bishops) that all the bishops have been asked to send to their priests and comes in the wake of the Obama Administration's decision to force all employers, including Catholic employers, to offer health coverage that includes sterlization, abortion-inducing drugs, and contraception thereby denying Catholics and the Catholic Church the freedom to practise and live according to their religious beliefs.
Letter from Bishop Sample on Religious Liberty The US Conference of Catholic Bishops has a web page dedicated to the issue of the protection of conscience in the light of the US Department of Health and Human Services announcement. Visit it to see how you can contact Congress to protest this directive. (As a non-US citizen I don't believe I can do this myself.)

Cardinal Di Nardo also preached powerfully about this attack on religious liberty in his homily at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception during the Mass in the evening before the Washington DC March for Life.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

March for Life Washington DC

 I have just returned from the Washington DC March for Life having travelled in the company of over one hundred fantastic people - the majority of whom we would call "young" - by bus, a journey of almost 24 hours each way. No doubt the media gave it very little coverage. Here are my photos - look at the them and tell me that the Church is finished and irrelevant to our young people today!

I could write at length - but I am too full of impressions to begin to express them. What hope there is for the future. This battle will not be overcome in a year - and even if surgical abortion becomes illegal, there is still the battle over "emergency contraception", the restoration of chastity and the re-building of marriage and the family. But our Church looks to have healthy future if our young people are anything to go by. The sheer number of seminarians and young religious present gives one cause for a sure and well-founded hope in the future.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Pope Benedict on the Neo Catechumate's Liturgy - call to unity with the parish community

In an audience with members of the Neocatechumenal Way this morning Pope Benedict said the following concerning the celebration of the Eucharist:

Ciò vale in modo specialissimo per la celebrazione dell’Eucaristia, che, essendo il culmine della vita cristiana, è anche il cardine della sua riscoperta, alla quale il neocatecumenato tende. Come recitano i vostri Statuti, "L’Eucaristia è essenziale al Neocatecumenato, in quanto catecumenato post-battesimale, vissuto in piccola comunità" (art. 13 §1). Proprio al fine di favorire il riavvicinamento alla ricchezza della vita sacramentale da parte di persone che si sono allontanate dalla Chiesa, o non hanno ricevuto una formazione adeguata, i neocatecumenali possono celebrare l’Eucaristia domenicale nella piccola comunità, dopo i primi Vespri della domenica, secondo le disposizioni del Vescovo diocesano (cfr Statuti, art. 13 §2). Ma ogni celebrazione eucaristica è un’azione dell’unico Cristo insieme con la sua unica Chiesa e perciò essenzialmente aperta a tutti coloro che appartengono a questa sua Chiesa. Questo carattere pubblico della Santa Eucaristia si esprime nel fatto che ogni celebrazione della Santa Messa è ultimamente diretta dal Vescovo come membro del Collegio Episcopale, responsabile per una determinata Chiesa locale (cfr Conc. Ecum. Vat. II, Cost. dogm. Lumen gentium, 26). La celebrazione nelle piccole comunità, regolata dai Libri liturgici, che vanno seguiti fedelmente, e con le particolarità approvate negli Statuti del Cammino, ha il compito di aiutare quanti percorrono l’itinerario neocatecumenale a percepire la grazia dell’essere inseriti nel mistero salvifico di Cristo, che rende possibile una testimonianza cristiana capace di assumere anche i tratti della radicalità. Al tempo stesso, la progressiva maturazione nella fede del singolo e della piccola comunità deve favorire il loro inserimento nella vita della grande comunità ecclesiale, che trova nella celebrazione liturgica della parrocchia, nella quale e per la quale si attua il Neocatecumenato (cfr Statuti, art. 6), la sua forma ordinaria. Ma anche durante il cammino è importante non separarsi dalla comunità parrocchiale, proprio nella celebrazione dell’Eucaristia che è il vero luogo dell’unità di tutti, dove il Signore ci abbraccia nei diversi stati della nostra maturità spirituale e ci unisce nell’unico pane che ci rende un unico corpo (cfr 1 Cor 10, 16s).


... for the celebration of the Eucharist which, being the summit of the christian life and also the hinge of its rediscovery, to which the neocatechumenate tends. As you Statutes say: "The Eucharist is essential in the Neocatechumenate, as in so far as it is a post-baptismal catechumenate, lived out in small communities." Precisely to favour the coming close once again to the richness of the sacramental life on the part of persons who are far from the Church, or who have not received an adequate formation, the neocatechumens can celebrate the Sunday eucharist in small communities, after the first Vespers of Sunday according to the disposition of the diocesan bishop. But every eucharistic celebration is an action of the one Christ together with his one Church and therefore essentially open to all those who belong to this his Church. This public characteristic of the Holy Eucharist es expressed in the fact that every celebration of the Holy Mass is ultimately directed by the Bishop as member of the Episcopal College, responsible for a determined local Church. The celebration in small communities, regulated by the liturgical Books, which must be followed faithfully, and with the particularities approved in the Statutes of the Way, has the purpose of helping all who follow the necatechumenal itinerary to perceive the grace of being inserted into the salvific mission of Christ, who makes possible a christian testimony capable of assuming a certain radicality. At the same time, the progressive maturation in the faith of each of the small communities must favour their insertion into the life of the great ecclesial community, which is found in the liturgical celebrations of the parish, in which and for which the Neocatechumenate acts, and which is its ordinary (normal) form. But also during the way it is important not to separate oneself from the parish community, particularly in the celebration of the Eucharist which is truly the place of the unity of everyone, where the Lord embraces us in the diverse states of our spiritual maturity and unites us in the one bread which renders us one body.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Cause of beatification of British Nun who hid Jews from Nazis moves forward

This from the Daily Telegraph today:

A file on Mother Riccarda Beauchamp Hambrough has been sent to the Vatican to be studied by historians and theologians.

Her cause for sainthood was opened in July 2010 by the Diocese of Rome along with that of Sister Katherine Flanagan, marking the first phase of the investigations.

In a significant development, the causes of both women have together been sent to the Holy See’s Congregation of Causes for Sainthood, marking a significant, but early, step forward in the long road to becoming saints.

If it is concluded that the pair lived lives of “heroic virtue”, the Pope will declare the London-born nuns to be “Venerable” and the search will begin for two miracles to first declare them Blessed and then saints.

Both nuns belonged to a revived order of Bridgettine sisters nicknamed “the hot cross bun nuns” because of the distinctive crosses covering the tops of their wimples.

Mother Riccarda helped to save the lives of about 60 Jews by hiding them from the Nazis in her Rome convent, the Casa di Santa Brigida.

She born in 1887 and was baptised in St Mary Magdalene’s Church, Brighton, at the age of four years after her parents converted to the Catholic faith.

Yesterday Father Ray Blake, the parish priest of St Mary’s welcomed the progress of her cause. “I think it is fantastic,” he said.

“Here is Brighton we are following her cause with great enthusiasm and see her very much as our local saint.

“When I tell people at Mass that that her cause is going forward I’m sure that they will be overjoyed.”

While Mother Riccarda spent most of her life in Rome, eventually becoming the head of the order, Sister Katherine was at the forefront of efforts to open Bridgettine convents around the world some 400 years after the Reformation nearly wiped out the order.

Judith Whitehead, a niece of Sister Katherine, said she was astonished that the first phase had concluded so quickly.

“I am surprised that it has moved to the next stage in my lifetime,” said Mrs Whitehead, 73, of Shaftesbury, Dorset, who had given evidence to the initial inquiry.

“I thought that the progression of looking into her life would take about 10 years,” she said.

“It is amazing to have someone in your family who was so revered by everybody … the Bridgettines obviously think that she is going to become a saint.”

Father Simon Henry, the parish priest of St Gregory’s Church, Earlsfield, south London, where Sister Katherine was baptised, said: “To have a possible saint from the parish is wonderful.”

Born Florence Catherine in Clerkenwell in 1892, Sister Katherine trained as a dressmaker before she left the family home for Rome at 19 years with the aim of becoming a nun.

She went on to become the first prioress of new convents in Iver Heath, Buckinghamshire; Lugano, Switzerland; and Vadstena, Sweden - where she died in 1941.

A year after Sister Katherine joined, the future Mother Riccarda - born Madaleina Catherine - also journeyed to Rome.

Because of her talent and intelligence she soon became deputy of the Order, called the Most Holy Saviour of St Bridget, and remained at the mother house in the Italian capital.

When the Nazis took control in Rome in 1943, and began to round up the Jews of Rome for deportation to Auschwitz, Mother Riccarda risked her own life by smuggling fugitives into her convent.

Some Jews who gave evidence to the initial inquiry spoke of Mother Riccarda's kindness, saying they nicknamed her “Mama”.

She died in Rome in 1966 at the age of 79 years.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

To achieve Christian Unity we must be authentically Catholic

The following is my weekly "Desktop" from my parish bulletin for January 15th.

A priest colleague in Britain recently related how a drunk man came banging on the door of the church asking for a blessing. He duly gave him the blessing in English. The drunk man accused him, with the help of some choice expletives, of being a protestant. The priest assured him that he was Catholic. The drunk man asked him to prove it. So the priest said: “Benedicat te omnipotens Deus Pater, et Filius, et Spiritus Sanctus.” The man then said: “So you are a real one then. God bless Father” and staggered up the road. I was also interested to note that the Mining Journal recently recalled the anniversary of the excommunication of Martin Luther on January 3rd 1521.
On January 18th we commence the annual Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity which concludes on the feast of the Conversion of St Paul, January 25th.
The Church has suffered many crises throughout its relatively short 2,000-year history, but by far the most serious was the rending asunder of the Mystical Body in the protestant reformation of the sixteenth century. It sometimes seems difficult to hope that the Church will ever be one again, and yet we must be confident in the prayer of Jesus Christ to His Father: “that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” (Jn 17:22-23)
An encouraging bit of history occurred here in the US on January 1st when Pope Benedict established the Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter under the patronage of Our Lady of Walsingham. The Ordinariate is a kind of diocese that extends over the whole of the US with its base in Texas. It is specifically for those who were previously Anglican/Episcopalian and who are received into the full communion of the Catholic Church. The Ordinariate will have its own priests, usually former Anglican/Episcopalian priests or bishops, or men who have been raised in Ordinariate families, many of them married (although in the future celibacy will be the norm), and its own parishes preserving their own distinctive Anglican/Episcopalian liturgical traditions. They are as much Catholic as we are: they can participate in our Masses and we in theirs. Pope Benedict has established this Ordinariate, the second of its kind (the first, the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, was established in England a year ago today), in response to requests from Anglicans around the world who deeply desired to be one with the Pope, to be Catholic! Australia could be the next country to have such an Ordinariate.
Last weekend a good number of our parishioners joined our Christian brothers and sisters at Grace Lutheran Church for a service of evening prayer. It is good for us to take up opportunities to pray with and for one another. But we best serve the cause of Christian Unity, not by ignoring or covering over our differences, but by being truly and authentically Catholic. Perhaps we have been reticent about boldly proclaiming who we are as Catholics. With all the changes in the Church over recent decades, perhaps we have forgotten who we really are. Sometimes we might even disown our traditions. Think of the drunk man at the top of this piece who recognized the priest as Catholic when he heard him say the blessing in Latin!
One of the reasons for Pope Benedict’s promotion of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass (commonly known as the Latin Mass) was to reconnect the Church with its history, to reconcile the Church of today with its tradition. You will notice a more “traditional” style in the celebration of the Mass since the advent of the new English missal, with greater use of Latin. Tradition is often considered a dirty word, but if we are not traditional, we are not Catholic. To be Catholic, we must always remain in continuity with the living tradition we have inherited.
May the Lord keep us united in love for one another. Fr John.

Vatican approval coming for Neo Cat liturgy?

Other blogs are carrying the comments of Sandro Magister who reports that the Holy Father is due to hold an audience with thousands of members of the Neocatechumenal Way on January 20th and that this could be the occasion for the approval of the rather strange liturgical practices observed during the Mass.

If Magister's analysis is correct, I think any approval of the manner in which "The Way" celebrates the Mass would be a serious set back for the work of liturgical reform. We would, in effect, have three approved forms of the Roman Rite: the Ordinary Form, the Extraordinary Form and the Neocatechumenal Form. I can't see why The Way shouldn't conform to the universal norms of the Church.

Magister describes some of the peculiarities of the Mass celebrated by "The Way" ("Placet" or "Non placet"? The wager of Carmen and Kiko):
1. They are celebrated in small groups, corresponding to the different stages of advancement on the catechetical journey. If in a parish, for example, there are twelve Neocatechumenal communities, each at a different stage, there will be twelve Masses, celebrated in separate places more or less at the same time, preferably on Saturday evening.

2. The surroundings and furnishings trace out the image of a banquet: a table with the participants seated around it. Even when the Neocatechumenals celebrate the Mass not in a parish hall but in a church, they often ignore the altar. They put a table in the middle and sit around it in a circle.

3. Each of the biblical readings of the Mass is preceded by an extensive "monition" on the part of one or the other of the community and is followed, especially after the Gospel, by "resonances," or personal reflections by a substantial number of those present. The priest's homily is added to the "resonances" without being distinguished from them.

4. Communion also takes place in banquet form. The consecrated bread – a large unleavened loaf, two thirds white flour and one third whole wheat flour, prepared and baked according to detailed rules established by Kiko – is broken and distributed to those present, who remain in their places. After the distribution, it is eaten at the same time by all, including the priest. After this, the priest goes from one person to the next with the chalice of consecrated wine, which everyone drinks.

There are also other peculiarities, but these four are enough to understand how different in form and substance the Masses of the Neocatechumenals are from those celebrated according to the general liturgical rules. A difference that is certainly more pronounced than that between the Masses in the ancient Roman rite and in the modern rite.

The Vatican authorities have repeatedly sought to bring the Neocatechumenals back to greater fidelity to the "lex orandi" in effect in the Catholic Church. But with a weak pulse and almost no results.

The strongest reminder came with the promulgation of the definitive statutes of the Way, approved in 2008.

In them, at article 13, the Vatican authorities established that the Masses of the communities must be "open also to other faithful"; that communion must be received "standing"; that for the biblical readings, only "brief monitions" of introduction are permitted, apart from the homily.

There is no trace of the "resonances" (permitted in the previous, provisional statutes of 2002) in this same article 13 dedicated to the celebration of the Mass. It is mentioned only in article 11, which, however, concerns the weekday celebrations of the Word, which each community holds with its own catechists.

The fact is that there has been very little change between the way in which the Neocatechumenals celebrate the Mass today and the way in which they celebrated it until a few years ago, when, moreover, the cups of consecrated wine were passed festively from hand to hand.

It is only in theory that their group Masses have been opened to other faithful as well.

Standing or seated, their convivial way of distributing communion is still the same.

The personal "resonances" of those present continue to invade and overwhelm the first part of the Mass.
Anyway, read Magister ("Placet" or "Non placet"? The wager of Carmen and Kiko) for yourself and decide.

See also:
Catholic Culture: Vatican acceptance coming for Neocatechuman liturgy?
New Liturgical Movement: Magister on the Neocatechumenal Way Liturgy
Pertinacious Papist: Bugnini's Dream:  Will Pope approve Neocatechuman liturgy?
Rorate Coeli: Reform of the reform...

Monday, January 9, 2012

Bishop of Lancaster launches Lenten Confession campaign in preparation for Year of Faith

I recently wrote about the Bishop of Lancaster here. Here's the text of a Press Release from the Lancaster Diocese:

Diocese of Lancaster Launches
‘The Light Is On For You”
Confession Initiative
Lancaster – The Bishop of Lancaster, Rt Rev Michael Campbell OSA has already followed on from his New Year’s Day Pastoral Letter and announced in a letter to his priests and Catholic schools the launch of an important initiative this Lent for the Diocese of Lancaster called The Light Is On For You - a diocesan-wide and high-profile celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Every Wednesday of Lent, from 29th February to the Wednesday of Holy Week, 4th April, every Catholic Church in the Diocese of Lancaster will be open from 7.00 p.m. to 8.00 p.m. for Catholics to go to Confession.

Leading this outreach initiative of the ‘New Evangelisation’ as termed by Pope Benedict, Bishop Campbell added, “During the Lenten season, in a particular way we will invite those who seek to strengthen their relationship with the Lord to join us in this celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Our priests are here to welcome you home, to pray with you, to be of service in the name of Jesus Christ, who offers all of us forgiveness for our sins and the gift of His mercy and love.”

A new The Light Is On For You! section of the diocesan website: has been recently added which includes information on the Sacrament of Confession including various Examinations of Conscience, the Act of Contrition, videos about the sacrament, and parish resources for promoting the initiative. Initial resources, posters and flyers have already been sent to all parishes and Catholic schools of the Diocese seeking their direct engagement. In February adverts will be placed in local newspapers and the other local media will be contacted.

Bishop Campbell states, “Confession gives us the chance to start over, to hit the ‘reset’ button of our lives. It shows how forgiving and compassionate our God is and it helps us to grow in concern and love for others. Come to Confession this Lent and receive God’s mercy, for peace of mind and to deepen your friendship with Jesus, to receive spiritual healing and to increase your sense of joy and to experience Christ’s saving grace.”

As a preliminary to the upcoming Year of Faith (October 2012 to November 2013) announced by Pope Benedict XVI last year, The Light Is On For You! is part of the Diocese of Lancaster’s practical attempt to reach out to those who may have wandered from the life of the Church.

In response to those who feel it has been too long since their last confession or that God could not possibly forgive them, Bishop Campbell also said, “God’s love for you is greater than all the sins you’ve committed or could ever commit. Now is the time to come and have God take away the burdens of guilt that can often weigh us down. If you’ve been waiting for a sign to return to the Church or to the Sacrament of Reconciliation, this is your chance to re-establish and strengthen a relationship with God that will last forever”.

About the Diocese of Lancaster: The Diocese of Lancaster was founded in 1924.Currently serving the needs of over 111,000 Catholics in Lancashire north of the Ribble and all of Cumbria, the Diocese of Lancaster is a spiritually enriching faith community consisting of 99 parishes, educating thousands of students in its 12 Catholic secondary and 86 Catholic primary schools, and ministering to the needs of many others through its pastoral and social service outreach, and several Catholic nursing and residential homes.

For more details please visit:
Fr Robert Billing
Bishop’s Secretary
Bishop’s Office
The Pastoral Centre
Balmoral Road
T: 01524 596050 E:

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The resignation of Bishop Gavino Zabala

Bishop Zavala (CNS/Bob Roller)
The resignation of this auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles was covered in its customary two line announcement by the Vatican News Service yesterday:

Il Santo Padre ha accettato la rinuncia all’ufficio di Ausiliare dell’arcidiocesi di Los Angeles (U.S.A.), presentata da S.E. Mons. Gabino Zavala, Vescovo tit. di Tamascani, in conformità ai canoni 411 e 401 §2 del Codice di Diritto Canonico.
 Which, translated, says:
The Holy Father has accepted the resignation from the office of Auxiliary for the archdiocese of Los Angeles (USA), presented by His Excellency Msgr Gabino Zavala, titular Bishop of Tamascani, in conformity with Canons 411 and 401 §2 of the Code of Canon Law.
The mention of Canon 401 §2 means that the resignation is submitted for reasons other than reaching the age limit of 75:
A ... bishop who has become less able to fulfill his office because of ill health or some other grave cause is earnestly requested to present his resignation from office.
The very sad reasons constituting the very grave cause for Bishop Zavala's resignation have been disclosed by LA's Archbishop Jose H Gomez.

Before reading the CNS news service, you might find it helpful to refer to Canon Lawyer Dr Ed Peters' notes on the matter: Why Bp. Zavala’s situation is irrelevant to the debate on clerical celibacy.

It is always a shame to hear of any cleric, let alone a bishop, failing to live up to his commitment to chastity. Whilst one prays for the sinner, one wonders why someone in such a high position cannot see that some "pecados" are far from "pecadillos" and that they should either resign immediately (the Canon quoted above says a bishop in this situation "is earnestly requested to present his resignation") or, if they have been guilty of such infidelities in their earlier priestly life, not accept promotion to the episcopate. For, in the end, the Church's image (in terms of being the Bride of Christ) and all her members suffer.

The Abbey Roads blog doesn't fail to point out Bishop Zavala's discontent with the orthodox blogosphere.

Anyway, with that thought, here's the CNS item:

Bishop Zavala resigns after disclosing he is father of two children

By John Thavis
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop Gabino Zavala has resigned after disclosing to superiors that he is the father of two children.

The Vatican announced the bishop's resignation Jan. 4 in a one-line statement that cited church law on resignation for illness or other serious reasons.

Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez announced the "sad and difficult" news in a letter to Catholics in the archdiocese. He said Bishop Zavala, who was auxiliary bishop for the San Gabriel pastoral region, had informed him in early December that he is the father of two minor teenage children who live with their mother in another state.

Archbishop Gomez announced early Jan. 4 that Msgr. James Loughnane, a native of Ireland, was appointed episcopal vicar for the pastoral region.

Bishop Zavala told Archbishop Gomez that he had submitted his resignation to Pope Benedict XVI. Since that time, Bishop Zavala has not been in ministry and "will be living privately," Archbishop Gomez said.

"The archdiocese has reached out to the mother and children to provide spiritual care as well as funding to assist the children with college costs. The family's identity is not known to the public, and I wish to respect their right to privacy," Archbishop Gomez said. He asked prayers for all those affected by the situation.

Bishop Zavala's resignation leaves a vacancy in the chairman's position of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Communications. Mercy Sister Mary Ann Walsh, director of media relations for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, had no immediate announcement about who would assume the chairmanship.

"There won't be anything here for a day or two," she said.

Tod Tamberg, Los Angeles archdiocesan spokesman, said the archdiocese had received questions about the possible usage of archdiocesan funds by the bishop to support his children and their mother. He said a financial audit of the San Gabriel pastoral region budget found everything in order.

"There's been no indication of mismanagement or misuses of archdiocesan funds," Tamberg told Catholic News Service.

"This is unexpected, sad and disorienting news for many who know and like him," he said.

Bishop Zavala has been a long-time social justice advocate. He became the bishop-president of Pax Christi USA, the American arm of Pax Christi International, in 2003.

In a letter to members posted on its website Jan. 5, Pax Christi USA said a search had been under way for a new bishop-president prior to the announcement from Los Angeles because Bishop Zavala had served three three-year terms.

"We are grateful for his past leadership and for his longtime witness to peace and justice as a member of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Bishop Zavala consistently brought the power of the Gospel to bear on issues like immigration, worker rights, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and nuclear disarmament," wrote Sister Josie Chrosniak, who chairs the national council and is a member of the Sisters of the Humility of Mary, and Sister Patty Chappell, executive director and a member of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur.

The organization also offered prayers that the privacy of Bishop Zavala and his family would be respected.

Throughout his tenure in Los Angeles, Bishop Zavala has spoken on behalf of working-class Americans, immigrant rights, ending the death penalty and reforming the criminal justice and prison systems. He also co-chaired Encuentro 2000, the U.S. bishops' jubilee year gathering to celebrate and better understand the ethnic diversity of the U.S. church.

Born in Guerrero, Mexico, Bishop Zavala grew up in Los Angeles. He was ordained in 1977 and was named a bishop in 1994.

- - -

Contributing to this story was Dennis Sadowski in Washington.

- - -

Editor's Note: The full text of Archbishop Gomez's letter can be read at


Caught in the act!

Deer make regular visits to my backyard, especially if there are sunflower seeds in the bird feeder! See the rest of my photos from yesterday evening on my facebook page.

Bishop of Lancaster asking tough questions

Bishop Campbell of Lancaster is following in his predecessor's footsteps in calling to account those schools - and other institutions - that claim the name of Catholic but are CINO (Catholic in Name Only). Here's what The Tablet Blog reports:

Lancaster's hermenuetic of continuity

Posted by Christopher Lamb, 5 January 2012, 9:00
The Bishop of Lancaster has set a cat among the pigeons. Can the Church, he asks in a New Year Pastoral letter, continue to fund Catholic schools which he defines as being Catholic in name only? By this Bishop Michael Campbell means those schools where Catholic pupils and teachers are in a minority.

Bishop Campbell is also asking a much wider question: can a diocese continue to fund any school, parish or initiative that is not actively engaged in the new evangelisation?
All this, people may observe, sounds remarkably similar to the ideas of the bishop's immediate predecessor, Patrick O'Donoghue.
"POD", as he is affectionately known, wrote a series of documents called Fit for Mission? which looked at every area of the Church's life stressing that each exists to evangelise and must have a strong, visible Catholic identity.
In the document on education, which consistently stressed the importance of a school's Catholic ethos, he wrote: "every Catholic school in the diocese should be engaged in catechesis and evangelisation. There must be a clear, courageous, and comprehensive proclamation of the Church's doctrinal and moral tradition, to staff as well as pupils, and appropriate to different age groups."
These documents received fulsome praise from Vatican officials but there was a deafening silence from his brother bishops. There was a feeling that POD was out on a limb and he told me - though he later denied it - that the Archbishop of Westminster to succeed Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor should come from outside the current bishops of England and Wales.
When Bishop Campbell succeeded POD in 2009 we heard little about Fit for mission?. Bishop Campbell is a good and holy man and initially seemed happier giving homilies on the exegesis of a scripture passage than on dealing with how the Church faces up to the hard, practical task of running itself in the twenty-first century. Now things have changed and he appears to have aligned himself in a "hermeneutic of continuity" with his successor.
Whatever the politics, the bishop is addressing tough questions that other dioceses cannot ignore.
Christopher Lamb is the Assistant Editor (Home News) of The Tablet.
H/T: Protect the Pope.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Kenrick-Glennon Seminarians launch new journal "Vox Christi"

I received this information recently which I gladly pass on:
Allow me to introduce you to a new and exciting project from Kenrick–Glennon Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri calledVox Christi, a quarterly publication of the seminarians of Kenrick–Glennon Seminary created in response to the Holy Father’s call to develop a life cultivated by art and prayer. Vox Christi seeks to share with the world the spiritual, the academic and the artistic fruits of our community to people of all ages and academic abilities in a manner that assists in building up the Kingdom of God on Earth.

Vox Christi is written with the larger public reading audience in mind and has received a considerable amount of feedback already. A wide range of interested institutions and individuals have expressed their desire to subscribe to our journal, from high-schools, Catholic College Student Centers, Universities, Seminaries, priests, and individuals have subscribed to our journal. I ask you first and foremost for your prayers as the seminarians join you in spreading the New Evangelization. We would also greatly appreciate any publicity you could give to our publication if only just a quick mention of it.

You can reach our own blog at or check out our Facebook page under the same name. We can be contacted at or by mail at 5200 Glennon Dr. St. Louis, MO 63119.

Know of our prayers for you as you continue to spread Christ. Please keep us in yours.

The man who learns to believe learns also to kneel

This will be my "Desktop" item for this coming weekend's parish bulletin for the Solemnity of the Epiphany.
“Going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him.” (Mt 2:11 - RSV)

This is a very striking phrase from Matthew’s Gospel. These wise men fell to the ground when they encountered “the child”.

Many would consider kneeling, or prostration, beneath man’s dignity. We should not be humbled before anyone, not even our God. We should not demean ourselves by falling down. We should stand face to face before our God. This is folly! The Magi - pagans! - of today’s feast teach us true wisdom.

Bishop Sample gave all the priests of the diocese a Christmas present: a book by the then Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, entitled The Spirit of the Liturgy. Our bishop clearly desires that we priests study the Pope’s book and apply it to our liturgy today. I first read this book soon after it came out in 2000 and consider it a charter for renewal of our Catholic worship.

Pope Benedict writes about the gesture of prostration or kneeling. He says that kneeling, of its very nature, “does not come from any culture.” In other words, those who protest that kneeling does not belong to their culture do not understand that kneeling “comes from the Bible and from knowledge of God.” “We now kneel before that humility” of Christ “which went as far as the Cross”. “The kneeling of Christians is not a form of inculturation into existing customs. It is quite the opposite, an expression of Christian culture, which transforms the existing culture through a new and deeper knowledge and experience of God.”

Pope Benedict stresses the importance of the unity of our spiritual dispositions and our bodily postures. “The bodily gesture itself is the bearer of the spiritual meaning, which is precisely that of worship. Without the worship, the bodily gesture would be meaningless, while the spiritual act must of its very nature … express itself in the bodily gesture… When kneeling becomes merely external, a merely physical act, it becomes meaningless. On the other hand, when someone tries to take worship back into the purely spiritual realm and refuses to give it embodied form, the act of worship evaporates, for what is purely spiritual is inappropriate to the nature of man. Worship is one of those fundamental acts that affect the whole man. That is why bending the knee before the presence of the living God is something we cannot abandon.
Pope Benedict  gives Holy Communion to  communicants
kneeling and on the tongue.
“The man who learns to believe
learns also to kneel, and a faith or a liturgy no longer familiar
with kneeling would be sick to the core. Where it has been lost,
kneeling must be rediscovered…”
(Pope Benedict, Spirit of the Liturgy)
Sadly, this gesture of bending the knee has been abandoned by many who either simply ignore the presence of the Lord in the Tabernacle, or who bow rather than genuflect. Obviously one understands those whose knees are weakened by ill health or old age and for whom kneeling/genuflecting would be painful. But for the rest, Pope Benedict says that “the Hebrews regarded the knees as a symbol of strength; to bend the knee is, therefore, to bend our strength before the living God.” He relates a story that comes from the Desert Fathers according to which the devil showed himself to a certain Abba Apollo. “He looked black and ugly, with frighteningly thin limbs, but, most strikingly, he had no knees. The inability to kneel is seen as the very essence of the diabolical.”

Pope Benedict concludes his consideration of kneeling as follows:
“The man who learns to believe learns also to kneel, and a faith or a liturgy no longer familiar with kneeling would be sick to the core. Where it has been lost, kneeling must be rediscovered, so that, in our prayer, we remain in fellowship with the apostles and martyrs, in fellowship with the whole cosmos, indeed in union with Jesus Christ himself.”

O come, let us adore him!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Teenage mother gives her life for her unborn child: a legacy of sacrifice, not tragedy.

A young teenage mother, when diagnosed with cancer, refused any further treatment once she discovered she was pregnant and died soon afterwards. The story has, apparently gone round the world. May others be inspired by Jenni's example.

See LifesiteNews for the full story.

The following video is from

Sunday, January 1, 2012

You either get it or you don't - Rick Santorum on marriage

Go to Catholic Bandita for further comment.

Benedict XVI has not the temperament of a ruler - BBC World Service on Vatican Foreign Policy

At one moment people want the Church to disappear and lose its international profile. Now there is a complaint that Pope Benedict is not sufficiently a ruler - he "has no geopolitical vision" according to Marco Politi in the excerpt from this morning's Newshour from the BBC World Service. I don't know how long this link will be available. I made a recording but it does not appear to be possible to upload it.
The above found at Marco Foppoli
Should Pope Benedict not have discarded the tiara - the sign of temporal power - from this papal shield? Perhaps the next Pope will restore it! Pope John Paul II had it.

One thing we can take from this, however, is that the world does, after all, look to the Papacy for direction. Pope Benedict, of course, was not a diplomat but a pastor and an academic. His domain, prior to becoming Pope, was the Faith. He appears to be putting most of his effort directly into restoring faith within the Catholic Church. He has also appointed non-diplomat priests to certain key nunciature positions. History will judge the wisdom of this approach in the light of the current times in which we live.

Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter

It is most unusual for anything official to come from the Vatican on January 1st but today the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has erected the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter within the territory of the United States Episcopal Conference. This juridical structure, equivalent to a diocese, will welcome former Anglicans in the US who wish to be or are already members of the Catholic Church.

The decree of erection can be found at the website of the US Ordinariate. The Ordinariate has its principal church at Our Lady of Walsingham in Houston, Texas. The British Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham does not yet have a church. Their American counterparts clearly have an advantage here having been able to make use of a pastoral provision which enabled former Anglicans to worship as Catholics but with a so-called Anglican use liturgy and their own churches.

The Ordinary is Father Jeffrey Steenson. The Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter has as its patron the Blessed Virgin Mary under the title of Our Lady of Walsingham. It is wonderful that this little shrine in Norfolk, England, is a uniting focus. May Our Lady of Walsingham's prayers bring about the unity of Anglican and Catholics.

The Ordinariate has a very smart looking website with lots of information. Of interest is its mission page which describes the Ordinariate's mission under the three headings of liturgy, ecumenism and evangelism.

Other places with news of this historic event:

Catholic Online
Rorate Caeli
Fr Stephen Smuts Blog
Ordinariate Portal
And many others - just google Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter.


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