Monday, May 21, 2012

Catholic Dioceses and Organizations go to Court over HHS Mandate

 News from the diocese of Marquette and the Michigan Catholic Conference below.

You can read a statement from the Michigan Catholic Conference Board of Directors here. Following is a video clip of Bishop Sample responding to the question: "Are Catholics asking for special treatment?"


You can see video clips of the other bishops of Michigan responding to other questions in a clear show of unanimity in this important matter.
Diocese of Marquette Participates in
Michigan Catholic Conference Lawsuit Filed Today
Against Federal Government over HHS Mandate
Complaint Cites First Amendment Religious Liberty Violations

Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC) today filed documents in U.S. District Court as a plaintiff in a lawsuit challenging the mandate established by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that requires many faith-based employers to provide in their health benefit plans abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization and artificial contraception, all of which the Catholic Church finds morally objectionable. The nine-count lawsuit asserts violations of the First Amendment’s Free Exercise and Establishment Clauses, the Administrative Procedures Act, and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

MCC, of which the Diocese of Marquette is a member, is the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in this state. It is guided by a board of directors that includes the seven arch/diocesan bishops in the State of Michigan, five laypersons, a religious sister and a diocesan priest. In 1970, MCC began to provide employees of the state’s seven arch/dioceses and their institutions with a medical insurance benefit under a self-insured plan. Today, over 10,000 Catholic institution employees and their dependents receive the medical benefit from the Michigan Catholic Conference. Therefore, through the MCC, the Church is in effect the employer and the insurance provider.

Bishop Alexander K. Sample of the Catholic Diocese of Marquette and MCC board member, said, “I regret that the efforts of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to resolve this matter by asking the Administration to rescind its HHS mandate have proved unsuccessful. Now we must take this battle to the courts. If we do not stand up for our religious liberty and rights of conscience, then I fear that this would open the door for further intrusion of government into the life of all religious institutions. We must do this for ourselves and to protect the rights of all citizens of this great land.”

“The HHS mandate represents a very serious violation of religious liberty,” said MCC President and C.E.O. Paul A. Long. “Never before has the federal government sought to coerce religious institutions into acting contrary to their conscience with the threat of paying a substantial and perhaps even crippling penalty for non-compliance.”

The Michigan Catholic Conference’s lawsuit was filed today as several dozen Catholic entities across the country filed similar lawsuits citing, among others, the HHS mandate’s excessive entanglement into the internal governance of religious organizations, a clear violation of the First Amendment’s Free Exercise and Establishment Clauses. The lawsuit filed by the MCC also alleges that HHS has violated the Administrative Procedures Act and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the latter of which Congress passed in 1993 and was signed into law by President Clinton.

According to the MCC complaint: “This lawsuit is about one of America’s most cherished freedoms: the freedom to practice one’s religion without government interference. It is not about whether people have a right to abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraception. Those services are freely available in the United States, and nothing prevents the Government itself from making them more widely available. Here, however, the Government seeks to require Plaintiffs – Catholic entities – to violate their sincerely held religious beliefs by providing, paying for, and/or facilitating access to those services.”

“The HHS mandate seeks not only to coerce religious organizations into providing a medical service that is contrary to the Catholic Church’s firmly held religious belief, it also could have the effect of financially crippling organizations that courageously stand against an unjust law,” says Long. “In effect, Michigan Catholic Conference has been told by the federal government to either facilitate services that violate our conscience or potentially open ourselves up to substantial monetary penalties.”

The lawsuit was filed today in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, which is where co-plaintiff Franciscan University of Steubenville is located. Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Hilda Solis, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor; and Timothy Geithner, Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, along with their respective agencies, are named as the defendants in the lawsuit.

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Stable Ministries of Lector and Acolyte

On a certain diocesan website (not the one from which the above photo is taken) reporting the conferral of the ministry of Reader upon some candidates for the permanent diaconate (congratulations to them), it was recently stated that "The conferral of this Ministry (of Reader) is one of the steps on the path to ordination."

Well, that's true of course, but this always brings to my mind an express wish of Pope Paul VI in his post-Conciliar reforms which has not been implemented in any region with which I am familiar.

The reforms are described in Pope Paul's Apostolic Letter Ministeria Quaedam "on first tonsure, minor orders, and the subdiaconate." The Pope abolishes the subdiaconate, (please leave aside any opinions concerning the more ancient usage known as the Extraordinary Form for the time being) subsuming it into the ministries of readers and acolyte. He also abolishes tonsure, and says that thenceforth there will not be reference to ordination but to institution. So there are no more "minor orders" but rather "ministries".

He promulgated the following norms to become effective January 1, 1973 (with some comments from me in parentheses):
  1. First tonsure is no longer conferred; entrance into the clerical state is joined to the diaconate.
  2. What up to now were called minor orders are henceforth to be called ministries.
  3. Ministries may be assigned to lay Christians; hence they are no longer to be considered as reserved to candidates for the sacrament of orders. [In other words, they are to be stable.]
  4. Two ministries, adapted to present-day needs, are to be preserved in the whole Latin Church, namely, those of reader and acolyte. The functions heretofore assigned to the subdeacon are entrusted to the reader and the acolyte; consequently, the major order of subdiaconate no longer exists in the Latin Church [of course, we know it does, in those institutes dedicated to the preservation of the older liturgy whose members are still ordained to the subdiaconate, and even when the extroardinary form of the Mass is celebrated in a more solemn form, priests or deacons or even lay people take on the role of subdeacon]. There is, however, no reason why the acolyte cannot be called a subdeacon in some places, at the discretion of the conference of bishops. [Interesting!]
  5. The reader is appointed for a function proper to him, that of reading the word of God in the liturgical assembly. Accordingly, he is to proclaim the readings from sacred Scripture, except for the gospel in the Mass and other sacred celebrations; he is to recite the psalm between the readings when there is no psalmist; he is to present the intentions for the general intercessions in the absence of a deacon or cantor; he is to direct the singing and the participation by the faithful; he is to instruct the faithful for the worthy reception of the sacraments. He may also, insofar as may be necessary, take care of preparing other faithful who are appointed on a temporary basis [ah, so there can be temporary appointment to this ministry, but clearly there is to be a distinction between the stably instituted lector and the temporarily appointed person] to read the Scriptures in liturgical celebrations. That he may more fittingly and perfectly fulfill these functions, he is to meditate assiduously on sacred Scripture. Aware of the office he has undertaken, the reader is to make every effort and employ suitable means to acquire that increasingly warm and living love [7] and knowledge of Scripture that will make him a more perfect disciple of the Lord.
  6. The acolyte is appointed in order to aid the deacon and to minister to the priest. It is his duty therefore to attend to the service of the altar and to assist the deacon and the priest in liturgical celebrations, especially in the celebration of Mass; he is also to distribute communion as a special minister when the ministers spoken of in the Codex Iuris Canonici can. 845 are not available or are prevented by ill health, age, or another pastoral ministry from performing this function, or when the number of communicants is so great that the celebration of Mass would be unduly prolonged. In the same extraordinary circumstances an acolyte may be entrusted with publicly exposing the blessed sacrament for adoration by the faithful and afterward replacing it, but not with blessing the people. He may also, to the extent needed, take care of instructing other faithful who on a temporary basis are appointed to assist the priest or deacon in liturgical celebrations by carrying the missal, cross, candles, etc., or by performing other such duties. He will perform these functions more worthily if he participates in the holy eucharist with increasingly fervent devotion, receives nourishment from it, and deepens his knowledge about it. As one set aside in a special way [pretty strong - one set aside in a special way!] for the service of the altar, the acolyte should learn all matters concerning public divine worship and strive to grasp their inner spiritual meaning: in that way he will be able each day to offer himself entirely to God, be an example to all by his gravity and reverence in church, and have a sincere love for the Mystical Body of Christ, the people of God, especially for the weak and the sick.
  7. In accordance with the ancient tradition of the Church, institution to the ministries of reader and acolyte is reserved to men. [Aha! Let me repeat: "In accordance with the ancient tradition of the Church, institution to the ministries of reader and acolyte is reserved to men." Could this be the reason why hardly any episcopal conferences have, in fact, established these stable ministries among lay people and still only confer these ministries upon candidates for ordination, ignoring Pope Paul's intentions as stated in (3) above?]
  8. The following are requirements for admission to the ministries:
    1. the presentation of a petition that has been freely made out and signed by the aspirant to the Ordinary (the bishop and, in clerical institutes, the major superior) who has the right to accept the petition;
    2. a suitable age and special qualities to be determined by the conference of bishops;
    3. a firm will to give faithful service to God and the Christian people.
  9. The ministries are conferred by the Ordinary (the bishop and, in clerical institutes, the major superior) through the liturgical rite De institutione lectoris and De institutione acolythi as revised by the Apostolic See.
  10. An interval, determined by the Holy See or the conferences of bishops, shall be observed between the conferring of the ministries of reader and acolyte whenever more than one ministry is conferred on the same person. [Should one precede the other? Logically, and following the tradition, the ministry of acolyte would be considered a "higher" ministry and so one would receive the ministry of reader before that of acolyte, and this is, of course, the order followed for those who are candidates for ordination.]
  11. Unless they have already done so, candidates for ordination as deacons and priests are to receive the ministries of reader and acolyte and are to exercise them for a suitable time, in order to be better disposed for the future service of the word and of the altar. Dispensation from receiving these ministries on the part of such candidates is reserved to the Holy See.
  12. The conferring of ministries does not bring with it the right to support or remuneration from the Church.
  13. The rite of institution of readers and acolytes will soon be published by the competent department of the Roman Curia.
In the Novus Ordo Church which the vast majority of us inhabit, I think our sense of order in the liturgy would be vastly improved if suitable men were chosen to be stably instituted as lectors and, later, acolytes. What about the women? They could still be temporarily appointed to fulfill the function of a reader on  occasion, or even of an acolyte. But I would consider this to be an extraordinary circumstance.

Now, anyone from my parish who reads this needn't get themselves up in arms - I am not about to exclude all the women who have been entrusted with these roles from doing them in the future. I do, however, think it is only right that we know clearly what the intentions of the post-Conciliar reform were. After all, Pope Benedict has asked that in the Year of Faith we study again the documents of the Second Vatican Council. I think everyone knows of my concern at the fact that the majority of our Readers and Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion are women. If the need for more readers and EMHC's to replace any who step down arises, I'll be looking for men to step up first to at least redress the balance of male performance of these roles.

But what if conferences of bishops enacted Canon 230 of the Code of Canon Law? Of course there is no obligation upon them to do so, but Pope Paul was pretty clear about his intentions as also about his view about the ancient tradition of the Church.
Can. 230 §1. Lay men who possess the age and qualifications established by decree of the conference of bishops can be admitted on a stable basis through the prescribed liturgical rite to the ministries of lector and acolyte. Nevertheless, the conferral of these ministries does not grant them the right to obtain support or remuneration from the Church.

§2. Lay persons can fulfill the function of lector in liturgical actions by temporary designation. All lay persons can also perform the functions of commentator or cantor, or other functions, according to the norm of law.

§3. When the need of the Church warrants it and ministers are lacking, lay persons, even if they are not lectors or acolytes, can also supply certain of their duties, namely, to exercise the ministry of the word, to preside offer liturgical prayers, to confer baptism, and to distribute Holy Communion, according to the prescripts of the law.

De La Salle College (Belfast) Prayer Club's anticipation of Irelands Eucharistic Congress

Year 9 check my blog every week, which is kind of them. The College Prayer Club has a website which is well worth checking out. As you will see, it is promoting vocations to the priesthood and the religious life.

Their teacher Miss Jo Kelly keeps me informed of things and so I pray for them - never having met them in person! I should like to put that right at some point.

Enjoy their International Eucharistic Congress video below, but do visit their website. They also have a blog, and so are being educated for evangelisation in this world of modern communications.

Go and encourage them by liking their video and putting an encouraging comment on the blog. This kind of news inspires hope for the Church in Ireland.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Paschal Candle is extinguished

Even the Low Mass of Ascension that we celebrated here this evening had its little bit of drama as the paschal candle was extinguished immediately after the Gospel. It seems eminently logical to do so and I cannot quite understand why this was changed.

As with many things that used to take place during the Liturgy (e.g. the unveiling of the statues and images during the Easter Vigil), the paschal candle is now extinguised after the Mass on Pentecost Sunday. As it was lit with great solemnity at the Easter Vigil, should a certain solemnity not surround its extinguishing?

Jesus, the Light, has gone. Yes, I know that, as an early father wrote, as He came to earth without leaving heaven, so He returns to heaven without leaving earth. Yet, symbolically, the extinguishing of the paschal candle during the Mass somehow helps us visualise and be present at the Lord's ascent into the clouds. We experience "sacramentally" the departure of the Lord as the apostles themselves did.

As one fire - which began in the form of a huge fire outside our churches in the night of Easter - is extinguished, so we await the coming of a new Fire as the apostles and the whole Church are baptised in the Spirit at Pentecost.

The time between Ascension and Pentecost is a time of waiting.

Come, Holy Spirit...

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Archdiocese of Washington rebukes Georgetown - but when will bishops publicly bar dissenting Catholic politicians from Holy Communion?

John DiGioia - Georgetwon University President
 As the National Catholic Register reports, the president of Georgetown University has sought to defend the invitation to Kathleen Sebelius to speak at a graduation event. But the Archdiocese of Washington has issued the following reaction:
"The Archdiocese of Washington reserved public comment to permit Georgetown University and its sponsor, the Society of Jesus, the opportunity to address the controversy.  While the explanation of how this unfortunate decision was made is appreciated, it does not address the real issue for concern – the selection of a featured speaker whose actions as a public official present the most direct challenge to religious liberty in recent history and the apparent lack of unity with and disregard for the bishops and so many others across the nation who are committed to the defense of freedom of religion."
What we really need is for the Cardinal Archbishop of Washington and other bishops to publicly declare that Catholic politicians who publicly dissent from Church teaching and promote policies that are contrary to the Church's teachings on faith and morals are not to be admitted to Holy Communion in their dioceses. They may do this invoking Canon 915 of the Code of Canon Law:
Those upon whom the penalty of excommunication or interdict has been imposed or declared, and others who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin, are not to be admitted to holy communion.
 They should further name those politicians who obviously fall into that category. Since they are all at least some of the time present in the archdiocese of Washington, Cardinal Wuerl would appear to have the potential for great leadership in this matter. People such as Sebelius, Pelosi, Biden... all Catholics close to the President and fully supportive of his attacks on religious liberty, the sanctify of life, the instituation of marriage...

Pray for the talks between the Vatican and SSPX

The Vatican Information Service published this notice today:

Vatican City, 16 May 2012 (VIS) - Early this afternoon, the Holy See Press Office issued the following communique regarding the Society of St. Pius X:

"As reported by news agencies, today, 16 May 2012, an Ordinary Session of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith met to discuss the question of the Society of St. Pius X.

In particular, the text of the response of Bishop Bernard Fellay, received on 17 April, 2012, was examined and some observations, which will be considered in further discussions between the Holy See and the Society of St. Pius X, were formulated.

Regarding the positions taken by the other three bishops of the Society of St. Pius X, their situations will have to be dealt with separately and singularly".
Further comment at Catholic News Service.

Let us pray for unity in these days leading up to Pentecost.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Canadian Bishops' Pastoral Letter on Religious Liberty

As their US counterparts fight the battle for religious liberty, so these North American bishops have also issued a pastoral letter on the subject. The CCCB's website states:
“Legitimate secularity draws a distinction between religion and politics, between Church and state,” the pastoral letter states, but is open to the engagement of religious beliefs and faith communities in public debate and civic life. “Radical secularism”, however, excludes religion from the public square “and from freely engaging in the public debate necessary for shaping civic life.”
The letter is liberally footnoted with references to the Magisterial teachings of Pope Benedict and Blessed John Paul II.

In a section entitled "Concerns in our own Nation" the bishops write:
In the past decade in Canada there have been several situations that raise the question whether our right to freedom of conscience and religion is everywhere respected. At times, believers are being legally compelled to exercise their profession without reference to their religious or moral convictions, and even in opposition to them. This occurs wherever laws, which most often deal with issues linked to the dignity of human life and the family, are promulgated and which limit the right to conscientious objection by health-care and legal professionals, educators and politicians.

For example, some colleges of physicians require that members who refuse to perform abortions refer patients to another physician willing to do so; elsewhere pharmacists are being threatened by being forced to have to fill prescriptions for contraceptives or the “morning after” pill; and marriage commissioners in British
Columbia, Manitoba, Newfoundland and Saskatchewan must now perform samesex marriages or resign.

Conflict and confrontation occur between the rights and freedoms of some citizens and others: for example, when anti-discrimination laws – which, properly understood, include religion – clash with the right to religious freedom. Besides the courts, the Human Rights Tribunals of each province strive to strike a balance or reconcile conflicts between different rights.

All too often, however, advocacy groups use these bodies to promote new individual “rights” which often take precedence over the common good. The legal proceedings that these lobbies initiate force the defendant to become involved in lengthy and expensive court battles and thus weaken the common good.

Such acrimonious procedures would be better replaced by a civilized and respectful debate enriching to everyone, provided it gives a voice in the public forum to religious believers. If that voice is suppressed in any way, believers should view this as a restriction on their right to freedom of religion, one which should be forcefully challenged. In a constitutional democracy such as Canada’s, the system of justice must strive to protect more effectively freedom of religion and of conscience as key elements of our free and democratic society.
 The letter can be downloaded here.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

SSPX unity with Rome increasingly likely?

The Superior General of the SSPX is openly admitting that the Society could split over his attempts to restore communion with Pope Benedict. Bishop Fellay appears to be trusting of Pope Benedict and looking favourably upon the Pope's attempts to restore discipline in the Church, whereas the other three bishops and others within the Society are maintaining their "Rome has lost the Catholic Faith" position.

The fact that Bishop Fellay is talking about splits paradoxically increases my hope that he - and hopefully and sizeable majority - will be restored to communion with the Pope. It appears to be a sacrifice he is willing to make.

There are some insightful posts at

Fr Z: Bp Felly speaks with Catholic News Service

The Sensible Bond: SSPX Superior in France Foments Division; Letters between SSPX Bishops and SSPX General Council

A split would obviously be regrettable, but is probably inevitable.

News yesterday that the Holy Father is to establish a Peronal Ordinariate for former Anglicans in Australia on 15th June. It will be called the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross under the patronage of St Augustine of Canterbury.

This will be the third such Ordinariate following the establishment of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham in England and of the Chair of St Peter in the USA.

Let us pray that this will prove another great step on the road to Christian Unity and the renewal of the Church.

This from the website of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham:
Ordinary welcomes Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross
It was announced yesterday that a Personal Ordinariate will be established within the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference on 15 June 2012. This will be the third Personal Ordinariate to be erected by Pope Benedict XVI following the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus.

The Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross will be under the patronage of St Augustine of Canterbury and will be headed by an Ordinary, who is yet to be named.

Monsignor Keith Newton, Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, said, "This is great news for the Church in Australia, and for those from the Anglican tradition who are seeking to fulfil the goal of full visible unity with the Apostolic See, whilst maintaining essential elements of our Anglican tradition".

"A close bond already exists between the Ordinariate here in the UK and our brothers and sisters of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter. It is my hope that similarly strong ties can be established with our Australian counterparts, especially as we look forward to the publication of a common liturgical use".

Archbishop Denis Hart of Melbourne said, "I hope that those former Anglicans who have made a journey in faith that has led them to the Catholic Church will find a ready welcome".

Personal Ordinariate to be established in Australia on 15 June
The President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Archbishop Denis Hart, announced today that Pope Benedict XVI intends to announce the establishment in Australia of a Personal Ordinariate for Former Anglicans to commence on 15th June 2012. This new community will have the status of a diocese and will be known as the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross under the patronage of St Augustine of Canterbury.

Press release

Australian Catholic Bishops Conference News Release.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Cardinal Dolan - Presidnet Obama's affirmation of homosexual marriage "deeply saddening"

Cardinal Dolan has issued the following comments on President Obama's assertion that people of the same sex have the right to marry:
President Obama’s comments today in support of the redefinition of marriage are deeply saddening. As I stated in my public letter to the President on September 20, 2011, the Catholic Bishops stand ready to affirm every positive measure taken by the President and the Administration to strengthen marriage and the family. However, we cannot be silent in the face of words or actions that would undermine the institution of marriage, the very cornerstone of our society. The people of this country, especially our children, deserve better. Unfortunately, President Obama’s words today are not surprising since they follow upon various actions already taken by his Administration that erode or ignore the unique meaning of marriage. I pray for the President every day, and will continue to pray that he and his Administration act justly to uphold and protect marriage as the union of one man and one woman. May we all work to promote and protect marriage and by so doing serve the true good of all persons.
Source: USCCB.

Bishop Baraga declared "Venerable"

Pope Benedict has today approved the decree of the heroic virtues of Bishop Baraga which means that he is now called "Venerable".

The Vatican's announcement states:

Oggi, 10 maggio 2012, il Santo Padre Benedetto XVI ha ricevuto in Udienza privata Sua Eminenza Reverendissima il Signor Card. Angelo Amato, S.D.B., Prefetto della Congregazione delle Cause dei Santi...

Nel corso della medesima Udienza il Sommo Pontefice ha autorizzato la Congregazione a promulgare i Decreti riguardanti:...

- le virtù eroiche del Servo di Dio Federico Ireneo Baraga, Primo Vescovo di Marquette, nato a Villa Malavas (attuale Slovenia) il 28 giugno 1797 e morto a Marquette (Stati Uniti d'America) il 19 gennaio 1868;

The diocese of Marquette has issued the following News Release:

Diocese Reaches First Step in Sainthood Process
Bishop Baraga Declared Venerable

Bishop Frederic Baraga now bears the title of “Venerable.” The news of this major advancement in the cause for sainthood of the Catholic Diocese of Marquette’s first bishop was announced today (May 10, 2012) by the Vatican. Pope Benedict XVI met with Cardinal Angelo Amato, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in Rome, and approved the Congregation’s recommendation that Bishop Baraga exhibited a life of heroic virtue and could thus be called “Venerable.”

"I am thrilled beyond words at this recognition of Bishop Baraga's heroic virtue by the universal Church,” Bishop Alexander K. Sample said. “I cannot overstate what a significant step this is towards the anticipated beatification and canonization of Bishop Baraga. This is a day for which we have been waiting nearly 40 years. I am so pleased to be able to call my saintly predecessor ‘Venerable’ Frederic Baraga!"

Attaining this first of three steps in the sainthood process means that devotion to Bishop Baraga and the veneration of his memory can become very public. People can now pray directly to the “Snowshoe Priest,” as Baraga is called. In addition, church law states that access must now be given to his tomb.

Although the crypt in the basement of Marquette’s St. Peter Cathedral, where Bishop Baraga’s remains are interred, is open to the public, plans are being developed to move his earthly remains to a more prominent and accessible location in the upper body of the cathedral.
The crypt where Bishop Baraga is buried along with some of his successors.
 “We are planning to construct a special chapel to the right of the St. Joseph statue, breaking through the wall where the Holy Oils are currently housed,” explained Bishop Sample. “This will become an entryway into a small but beautiful chapel where the remains of Venerable Frederic Baraga will be placed in a sarcophagus for the veneration and prayers of the faithful.”

The bishop also asks everyone to pray that the potential miracle currently under investigation in Rome will be acknowledged so the diocese can proceed to the next step of the sainthood process, that of having Venerable Frederic Baraga beatified and declared “Blessed”. If such a declaration was to be made, another miracle attributable to Bishop Baraga’s intercession after his beatification would need to be approved before he could be called “Saint” Frederic Baraga.

Bishop Baraga was born in Slovenia on June 29, 1797. After just seven years as a priest, he came to the United States in 1830 to serve as a missionary to the Odawa and Ojibwa of the Upper Great Lakes. When immigrant miners and families came to Upper Michigan, he also extended his ministry to them.

Baraga was consecrated the first bishop of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and its adjacent islands on November 1, 1853. He died on January 19, 1868 in Marquette.

Although Bishop Thomas L. Noa, the eighth bishop of the Diocese of Marquette, actually opened the Baraga cause in 1952, it wasn’t until 1973 that the formal canonical process at the Vatican officially began. At that time, Bishop Baraga was given the title, “Servant of God.”

A podcast of an interview with Bishop Sample about today's announcement can be heard here.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Priest and his Breviary

Now the Divine Office is an entering into the prayer of Christ; it is a putting-on of the prayer of Christ; it is an identification with the prayer of Christ; it is an abiding in the Vine. Therefore, when the priest opens his Breviary, he 'enters into' the prayer of Christ in a much more real way than a monk, coming into choir where the office is being sung, 'enters-in' to the prayer of the community. It is the prayer of Christ that the priest is praying. Christ is praying in him; he is praying in Christ. He is praying in the name of Christ and in the name of each of His members.
Eugene Boylan, The Spiritual Life of the Priest

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Priest in South Africa attacked, left for dead

Father Andrew Cox, the fifty year old pastor of the parish of Constantia in the Archdiocese of Cape Town, was brutally attacked by three intruders on Sunday night as he was locking the parish premises. The attackers stabbed him, tied him up, attempted to gouge his eyes out and left him in the parish strongroom where he was discovered by his secretary on Monday morning.

He says he spent the night praying and he forgave his attackers. At one point he got hold of the knife the attackers were using against him but could not bring himself to attack his assailants.

It would appear that Father Cox is a faithful son of the Church. A google search reveals that he has recorded a talk defending Humanae Vitae as a prophetic documen inspired by the Holy Spirit and explains that opposition to contraception is integral to the Church's teaching on the dignity of human life.

Reports on the attack here and here.

Please keep this good priest in your prayers. (And his assailants too.)

Seller of suicide kits faces sentencing...

"... for failing to file federal tax returns."

Oh, well, so that's what her crime was.

I was quite flabbergasted when I read this in yesterday's Marquette Mining Journal. I couldn't local the Journal's article on line but other news media report it, including Reuters:

Sharlotte Hydorn, a retired science teacher, pleaded guilty in December to a federal charge of failing to file income tax returns from 2007 through 2010, a period during which investigators said at least seven customers used her kits to kill themselves.

Prosecutors said Hydorn sold about 1,300 of the do-it-yourself asphyxiation hoods during those years but agreed to stop making or selling them as part of a plea deal.
No surprise to hear that Oregon - the US's assisted suicide state - was the source of concerns about Hydorn's activities:

Hydorn gained notoriety after one of her mail-order customers in Oregon, Nicholas Klonoski, 29, described by his family as suffering from depression but otherwise healthy, used one of her so-called exit kits to kill himself in December 2010.

Outrage over that case led Oregon state lawmakers to pass legislation to ban sales of such devices, even though Oregon is one of two U.S. states with laws legalizing physician-assisted suicide for people with incurable, fatal illnesses.
It's an interesting world...

Monday, May 7, 2012

US Bishops and Pope on Catholic colleges: "Much remains to be done..."

To the Bishops from Regions ten to thirteen of the US Bishops Conference, the Pope said on Saturday:
On the level of higher education, many of you have pointed to a growing recognition on the part of Catholic colleges and universities of the need to reaffirm their distinctive identity in fidelity to their founding ideals and the Church's mission in service of the Gospel. Yet much remains to be done, especially in such basic areas as compliance with the mandate laid down in Canon 812 for those who teach theological disciplines. The importance of this canonical norm as a tangible expression of ecclesial communion and solidarity in the Church’s educational apostolate becomes all the more evident when we consider the confusion created by instances of apparent dissidence between some representatives of Catholic institutions and the Church’s pastoral leadership: such discord harms the Church’s witness and, as experience has shown, can easily be exploited to compromise her authority and her freedom.
Canon 812 states:
Those who teach theological disciplines in any institutes of higher studies whatsoever must have a mandate from the competent ecclesiastical authority.
The role of Catholic educators is not only to impart knowledge but to form:
First, as we know, the essential task of authentic education at every level is not simply that of passing on knowledge, essential as this is, but also of shaping hearts. There is a constant need to balance intellectual rigor in communicating effectively, attractively and integrally, the richness of the Church’s faith with forming the young in the love of God, the praxis of the Christian moral and sacramental life and, not least, the cultivation of personal and liturgical prayer... An essential role in this process is played by teachers who inspire others by their evident love of Christ, their witness of sound devotion and their commitment to that sapientia Christiana which integrates faith and life, intellectual passion and reverence for the splendor of truth both human and divine.

Meanwhile Catholic in Name Only Kathleen Sebelius is invited as Commencement Speaker at Georgetown University.

British Prime Minister David Cameron's former girlfriend becomes a nun in Connectitut

Thanks to Fr Ray Blake for noticing this.

Parish Confirmations

Yesterday Bishop Sample came to the parish to confer the Sacrament of Confirmation upon Jennifer Weber and Andrea Heinz. Bishop Sample preached about union with Christ the vine as only being possible through union with the Church. To say that "I know that the Church says... but what would Jesus..." is to separate Christ from His Church and to break away from the vine.

Presenting her certificate to Jennifer.

Presenting her certificate to Andrea.
The Bishop with his Mom and (couples from left) Rosie King, the catechist
who prepared the candidates with her husband Paul, our parish secretary Angie
Doyen and her husband Frank, our chair of parish council Sandy Hause and
husband Jerry at the Up North Lodge afterwards.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Diversity gone mad

This received in the footer of an email today:
"ABC" is an affirmative action, equal-opportunity employer. "ABC" Programs and materials are open to all without regard to race, color, national origin, gender, gender identity, religion, age, height, weight, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, marital status, family status or veteran status.
Isn't this crazy? Why not mention, just for completeness: "number of limbs, color of eyes, criminal record..." According to the above, a 3 year old has a right to access to all ABC's programs and materials.

Once you define a human being by what distinguishes him from another, you break up the unity of the human race. Why not just say "everyone who is found capable of participating in such programs"?

By the way: the above picture does not have a hand-less individual. It lacks true diversity.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A Pro-Life response to a recent message from President Obama to Planned Parenthood

Some time ago the White House published this Presidential message of support for Planned Parenthood. The above video includes the whole message, with some responses interspersed.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

From wanting to die to wanting to live

This moving program from BBC World Service Heart and Soul recounts how Alison Davis who says she suffered at a level beyond 10 on a scale of 1 to 10 and tried several times to end her life. She acquired the will to live after seeing the poor in India. After checking out the Quran and Hindu scriptures, in which she found nuggets of truth, she embraced the Catholic faith, the last thing she wanted to do. Hear her moving conversion account, including her visit to Lourdes. And a moving meditation on the Crucifix.


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