“How refreshing it would be if St. Norbert College were to decide to be a vibrant Catholic College that embraces the church and her teaching in its entirety, not just the social justice teachings?”
By Bishop David Ricken: Several months ago, I received many letters, emails, calls and complaints about St. Norbert College’s invitation to Gloria Steinem to give a presentation on their campus. The reason for inviting her, I have been told by college leadership, is to assist them in the discussion of the history of the women’s movement, especially as it may be understood in the context of domestic violence. Domestic violence is becoming a huge problem and, according to research, is almost an epidemic in the United States. I agree that domestic violence is an extremely important topic.
Many of you asked me if I knew of the invitation to Steinem or if I approved of the invitation. I want to let you know that not only did I not approve of such a decision, I did not know about it. As bishop, I have the responsibility to ensure the Catholic identity of the Catholic colleges in our diocese. Even though Gloria Steinem has appeared at St. Norbert College before my time as the bishop of this diocese, and acknowledging that she has appeared at other Catholic colleges and universities, I do not approve of the appearance of Gloria Steinem at St. Norbert College. I have conveyed my strong disapproval to the abbot, the president of the college and the chair of the Board of Trustees.
Why Invite an Abortion Rights Activist?
That St. Norbert College wants to look into the causes and contexts for a huge societal problem is laudable and needs consideration and attention by society and church. However, I find the invitation of Steinem to be quite mystifying. Given the historical escalation of domestic violence in the United States, and the fact that the “tried and true methods” of the past 40 years do not work, a question arises in my mind: why would St. Norbert, a Catholic college, invite someone who is such a high profile and well-known protagonist and activist of abortion rights to weigh in on the causes and contexts of a dramatic increase in domestic violence in the United States?
St. Norbert College
Steinem is Self-contradictory
Unless she has radically changed her position on abortion, which I hope she has, the connection of abortion rights to the feminist agenda is a sad one and calls into question the logic of such an enterprise. The reason her position ought to be called into question is that it is an internal self-contradiction. One cannot build one’s claim to a right based upon the denial of another’s fundamental right to life. One cannot really advance the rights of women while taking the life of an innocent child in the womb. One cannot protest domestic violence outside the womb and be in favor of violence and denial of life in the home of the womb. Therefore, the good she might be doing is seriously compromised by her own positions and actions. Her positions are self-contradictory. For some reason, the SNC leadership community cannot see or does not want to admit this internal contradiction.
I understand that Gloria Steinem will not speak about abortion. Really, she doesn’t need to. Her whole career and life is a grand affirmation of the pro-abortion movement. These types of approaches are outdated, tired and confusing ways to approach these issues, especially given the fact that the Catholic Church has new approaches to women’s issues that are fresh, life-giving and highly respectful of the human person. It would be so refreshing if we heard the leadership and faculty use these new voices to help our young people live a life of integrity and holiness and to truly embrace life and peace for the most innocent of all.
I want to make it abundantly clear to those who have gotten trapped in the maelstrom of an unexpected pregnancy and have made the choice to abort under the duress of great pressure: the mercy of Jesus is super abundant for you. If you ask for forgiveness of God, His divine mercy will be given to you superabundantly.
Over the 35 years of my priesthood, I have heard the confessions of women and men involved with abortions directly or indirectly. The devastation that an abortion inflicts on a mother and/or father and the family and family system is considerable.
Catholic vision and teaching are truly liberating if they are integrated into the life of a college campus. How refreshing it would be if St. Norbert College were to decide to be a vibrant Catholic College that embraces the church and her teaching in its entirety, not just the social justice teachings (which SNC does so well), but also the doctrinal and moral teaching of the Gospel and the church. Rather than excusing it by finding ways to reason around it or to argue against it, why not embrace it with a real and comprehensive intentionality?
The invitation of Ms. Steinem gives the impression that the college may be merely giving lip service to the fundamental value of every human life instead of embracing the “Gospel of Life” with a clear intentionality.
When it comes to protecting life in all of its stages, from conception to natural death, including the horror of domestic abuse, the secret desire of all of our hearts is to build a “civilization of love.” Such a civilization can only be built on fundamentals, especially that every human being ought to have a chance at life. The right to life is not a Catholic right; it is a human right given by the Creator which the church wholeheartedly defends and celebrates.
Long live the “Gospel of Life” and those who defend it unapologetically!
(CNSNews.com) – Responding to statements made by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi–who would not say at her press briefing last week if a 20-week-old unborn child is a “human being”–Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco said that it is a “scientific fact that human life begins at conception” and that “no Catholic can dissent in good conscience” from Church teaching on the sanctity of life.
At her Jan. 22 briefing Pelosi said she had “great standing” to speak on the issue of abortion, noting that she was a “Catholic and a mom of five” and asserting that it was “true” she knew “more about having babies than the pope.”
CNSNews.com asked Archbishop Cordileone about Pelosi’s comments on human life, particularly in light her self-description “as a Catholic and a mom of five.”
“It is a scientific fact that human life begins at conception,” the archbishop said in a written statement to CNSNews.com. “This has been established in medical science for over 100 years. Catholic moral teaching acknowledges this scientific fact, and has always affirmed the grave moral evil of taking an innocent human life.
“This has been the consistent teaching of the Church from the very beginning, a teaching already discernible in the natural moral law, and so a teaching from which no Catholic can dissent in good conscience,” he said.
“It is the obligation of pastors of souls to reach out to their people who have difficulty understanding and accepting such important teachings of the Church in order to extend to them true pastoral care and, where appropriate, to establish a regular dialogue,” said Archbishop Cordileone. “This is something I have always striven to do in the various ministries I have exercised as a priest and bishop, including now as the Archbishop of San Francisco. I ask for people’s prayers for success as I continue to strive to do this.”
Pelosi lives in Cordileone’s archdiocese and represents San Francisco in Congress.
At her Jan. 22 press conference at the Capitol, CNSNews.com twice asked Pelosi whether an unborn child 20 weeks into pregnancy is a human being.
Pelosi would not answer the yes-no question with a yes-no answer, but did say that a woman has “the right” to abort her child.
“The fact is is what we have said: The life and the health of the mother is what is preeminent in when a decision is made about a woman’s reproductive health,” said Pelosi, after declining for the second time to say if an unborn child at 20 weeks is a human being. “It isn’t an ideological fight, it is a personal health issue.
“And as a mother of five, in six years, I have great standing on this issue, great understanding of it, more than my colleagues. In fact, one day many years ago, perhaps before you were born, when I was a new member of Congress, as a Catholic and a mom of five, opposing some of the initiatives similar to what–in the same vein as–what we have today, one of the Republicans stood up and said: Nancy Pelosi thinks she knows more about having babies than the pope.
“Yeah, Yeah. That would be true. So, in any event, this is up to women, their conscience, their God, their doctor, their fate, their survival. And that is what the decision should be. Decisions about women’s reproductive health should not be made by politicians in Washington, D.C., but should honor the decisions that have been made by the Supreme Court, a decision made by the Supreme Court, recognizing the right of women to have that choice.”
During the press conference, Pelosi made clear that she is opposed to both the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act and the No Taxpayer Funding of Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act.
The former would prohibit the abortion of babies 20 weeks or later into gestation unless they were conceived in rape or incest, or if the life of the mother was at risk. The latter prohibits federal funding of abortion and stops federal Obamacare subsidies from going to insurance plans that cover abortion while not preventing people in subsidized Obamacare plans from buying supplemental abortion coverage–with their own money.
Mercy Hospital Springfield to Provide Same-Sex Couples Marriage Benefits
Statement from the Most Reverend James V. Johnston, Jr. – Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau
Re: Mercy Healthcare, Springfield
We believe that Jesus Christ is Lord and God. We believe that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” and strive to follow the Bible’s counsel: “Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, …” (Hebrews 13:8-9).
Christian pastors and leaders who hold true to the Gospel can expect to be attacked as hateful bigots by persons who claim to be advocates of tolerance. Such hypocrisy would be comical if it were not increasingly accompanied by legal and social efforts to coerce Christians to conform to new “strange teachings.”
Marriage is Jesus’ Teaching
Among these new teachings is the belief that the government has the power to redefine marriage as including same-sex couples. In this view, marriage is whatever the government says it is. But Christians reject this as they know and believe that “From the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife and the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate” (Mark 10:6-9). This happens to be Jesus’ teaching, and neither the Church nor the government can change that teaching.
No Believing Christian Worthy of the Name Should Violate God’s Law Because of “Regulations.”
I was not consulted or informed by Mercy Hospital Springfield of its decision to provide same-sex couples marriage benefits. I am deeply concerned. By this decision, Mercy Hospital Springfield calls into question its identity as a Catholic Christian institution. The statement a Mercy spokesperson made to the Springfield News-Leader is more than disappointing. Recognizing God’s plan for marriage is not a matter of “the Church’s position,” as Mercy characterized it, but rather, one of God’s own Word. And while the statement does not specify the “government regulations” Mercy claims to require this change, no believing Christian worthy of the name should violate God’s law because of “regulations.” Our ancestors refused to abandon the faith even when subjected to the cruelty and torture of the Roman Empire, but in our age unspecified “regulations,” government funds, and fear of public ridicule is sufficient in order to secure the compliance of some.
One thing I have been trying to do in my Apologetics course is to link our Catholic Spirituality to various doctrinal truths of the Faith. It is very important for us not only to know God’s law, who He is, and what He has done for us, but we need to also be able to apply such truths to our own lives.
Getting God Wrong #1
I believe that one of the reasons we fail to propagate the faith to others is resulting from the appearance of dry-adherence to a moral-law. Pope Benedict XVI called this “moralism.” Moralism essentially removes the essential characteristic of “relationship” we are to have with God and our neighbour.
A morality is and ought to be predicated of the relationship we have with God. That is to say that just because you follow the moral law, does not mean you have a good relationship with God. Likewise it also says, if you do not follow the moral law (especially in grave matters) you most certainly do not have a good relationship with God.
Rather the motivating force must both be extrinsic and intrinsic when discerning the moral law in our own life. We must seek to have a good relationship with Christ “in” the very act of doing what is right, rather than “by” the very act.
Getting God Wrong #2
For instance, if a Catholic does not “internalize” the moral law, it merely becomes a hoop by which they jump through in order to de-facto (in their own mind) love God. But this is legalism. The alternative is to say, “It doesn’t matter what I do, as long as I have some sort of ideal in my mind about God, I love Him.” This is lawlessness.
The middle position is also the narrow position, it is difficult. We must not only abide by the law itself, but we must internalize it. We must love God’s law, and to see how “in” the act, we are directly choosing God and Neighbour.
For instance, a couple who practices the Church’s teaching on contraception by not contracepting, they do well. But if they internalize this matter, they do very well, because they refuse to ever diminish the nature of their spouse by compartmentalizing an intrinsic dimension to their nature as a male and female. Man and woman have the capacity to procreate, and it is through this “identifying dimension” that man can truly love woman for all that she is, rather than rejecting a part of her nature as if it were a problem.
I believe that theologians who have not internalized the moral law may foster a legalistic or lawless approach to this particular infallible truth of the Church, as explained by Pope Paul VI.
Getting God Wrong #3
The particular approach I’d like to deny and condemn directly is a Kantian approach to morality. In an unnamed place, there was a priest who had communicated to his brother priests that it was morally praiseworthy to give a family who had practiced NFP an “exception” to use contraceptives since they had already fulfilled a significant quota of 9 children.
Kantian Ethics therefore judges whether an act is good or evil, “by the act itself” rather than “in the act itself.” In other words, he is looking for a consistency in the person’s life, like virtue, whereby they practice what is good on a regular basis out of duty.
Kantian Ethics can also be called deontological ethics. In this way, Kant does not indicate that there is anything intrinsically wrong with the act itself. All that should be discerned is the outer-shell of the act and how often it occurs.
But most of us would never ascribe to such a stupid way of thinking. For instance, if a man were to kill someone, he would not plead with the Jury and Judge by saying, “But I don’t normally do this, I deserve an exception to the rule, because I am not really a killer.” For such a person to suggest this as a defense would have failed to internalize the irreparable damage he has caused society and the said victim.
Likewise, “in” every act of contraception there is a rejection of God’s masterful design and path towards goodness and a rejection of the spouse in an essential matter. Without this internalization of the moral law, we therefore lose sight of the Master’s Sermon on the Mount, whereby he not only calls us to follow the law, but to internalize it. If one internalizes the moral law on contraception, they realize that every act of contraception is a (possibly latent) hatred for who the other is as male and female. Therefore there could never be any “exception” to something so intrinsically evil.
Bishop James D. Conley, Southern Nebraska Register: In the century before Christ was born, the great Roman poet Horace wrote a wise line: “Tua res agitur paries cum proximus ardet.” The English translation is: “It concerns you when your neighbor’s wall is on fire.”
Horace taught that we are connected to one another—that human beings are responsible for each other’s wellbeing, and that the misfortunes of others can endanger each one of us. Horace meant that we need to respond when neighbors face danger—that justice, and love, demand that we care for the needs of those in our communities.
St. Paul expressed Horace’s wisdom more clearly. To the Church in Philippi, he wrote, “Do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility count others better than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
Christ put it even more clearly—“whatever you do for the least of your brothers,” he said, “you do for me.” If we really love Christ, the needs of those around us will become our needs, and the misfortunes of others will become our concern.
In November, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sued the state of Nebraska, alleging that Article I-29 of our Constitution is a violation of federal law. The article states that in our state, marriage shall be understood as a union between a man and woman—and that marriage cannot be contracted or recognized as a relationship between two people of the same sex.
Over the past few months, Nebraskans have fought to protect our Constitution. As the lawsuit continues to run through the federal courts, Catholics will continue to proclaim and clarify the real meaning of marriage.
Tragically, marriage has been legally redefined in many states across the country. The federal government has accepted alternative definitions of marriage. So-called ‘same-sex marriage’ is increasingly accepted by cultural, religious, and political leaders. To some, universal recognition of same-sex marriage seems inevitable.
As the debate goes on, some Catholics have begun to ask why fighting same-sex marriage is so important. A friend asked me recently, “If the Church will not have to violate her teaching, why does same-sex marriage concern me?”
7 Concerns on the Redefinition of Marriage
Radical redefinition of marriage concerns each one of us. It concerns me, and it concerns you.
It should concern all of us when our state’s Constitution is undermined—when the votes of Nebraskans are less important than the force of well-funded and well-organized political interest groups. It concerns us when the government is used to validate and endorse whatever kind of social arrangement citizens might wish to make—no matter the harm.
It concerns us when the world forgets that children do best with mothers and fathers, each playing unique roles in formation and education. It concerns us when “fatherhood” and “motherhood” become lost or muddled concepts. It concerns us when the real needs of children are undermined for the sake of “tolerance” and political correctness.
It concerns us when the state forces bakers and photographers, teachers and parents to ignore what they believe—to abandon their convictions and their faith—in order to make a living for their families.
It concerns us when our state is not free to recognize that men and women, forming stable families and stable communities, have an important role in every human culture. It concerns us when our state is not free to support and promote the sacrifices of those men and women. It concerns us when our state must deny real truths about human families, and human hearts.
It concerns us when we begin to lose sight of God’s plan for the world. It concerns us when the world confuses real God-given dignity with moral license and pathways to unhappiness. It concerns us when a confused, unhappy, and over-sexualized culture makes it harder for all people—no matter their attractions or inclinations—to know God’s love.
Redefining marriage concerns each of us because its impact is profound. For the sake of our neighbors and friends—for the sake of our whole community—we need to continue to proclaim and clarify the truth about marriage.
Proclaiming the truth about marriage, and families, and parents, is an act of love. It is an act of love for our state, which has the right to be organized according to reality. It is an act of love for children, who have the right to know the complementary love of mothers and fathers. And it is an act of love for all those who might be kept from discovering God’s real love—and their real dignity—by the confusing lies of the world.
The Church should be a place of welcome for all people. It should be a place where all people come to know God’s love, and to know his incredible plan for their lives. The Church should be a place where knowing the truth is a source of hope, of healing, and of joy. And that means that the Church should be a place where the truth is proclaimed—charitably, respectfully, and openly.
The world is very confused about the meaning of marriage, about the importance of families and, ultimately, the world is very confused about happiness, and joy, and peace. The world is a dangerous place for anyone who is seeking real love. Christ’s love—and his plan for each one of us—is the antidote to that danger. That concerns each one of us.
Archbishop Thomas Wenski, archbishop of Miami, has warned archdiocesan employees that any action in support of Florida’s now-legal same-sex marriage could cost them their jobs.
“Because of the Church’s particular function in society,” the archbishop wrote, “certain conduct, inconsistent with the teachings of the Catholic Church, could lead to disciplinary action, including termination, even if it occurs outside the normal working day and outside the strict confines of work performed by the employee for the Archdiocese.”
The policy extends to include posts (photos or comments) on social media sites.
The preemptive letter by Archbishop Wenskishould help to thwart potential complaints, as have occurred in Chicago, in Georgia and in other states, when a church organist or music director has been fired after his homosexual relationship came to light.
U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle’s ruling that Florida’s same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional took effect in all 67 counties at midnight on Monday, January 5. Couples began marrying immediately, even though Florida’s attorney general, Pam Bondi, is still pursuing state and federal appeals seeking to uphold the ban approved by voters in 2008. Bondi’s effort to block these weddings until the courts finally rule was denied by the U.S. Supreme Court; and so Florida has become the 36th state to approve same-sex marriages.
Pole Alert: The Providence Journal is conducting a poll. “Should Bishop Tobin have accepted Governor-elect Raimondo’s invitation to her inauguration?” With over 3000 votes Bishop Tobin only has 960 votes. Please show your support for the Bishop and click here to vote.
PROVIDENCE — Roman Catholic Bishop Thomas J. Tobin said Monday he rejected an invitation this past weekend to attend Governor-elect Gina Raimondo’s inauguration, because of her stance on “the grave moral evil” of abortion.
“Over the weekend I did receive a formal written invitation to the Inauguration, the courtesy of which I appreciated,” Tobin wrote in an email Monday night in response to a Providence Journal inquiry. “However, as previously announced I will be offering Holy Mass at the Cathedral at that same time to ask for God’s blessings upon our state and nation and our public servants.
“I should add, though, that in conscience, it would always be a problem for me personally to attend the inauguration of any public official who promotes or supports abortion, which we consider to be a very grave moral evil,” the bishop wrote. Tobin had sharply criticized Raimondo during her campaign for her support for abortion rights.
A Raimondo spokeswoman could not be reached for a response Monday before deadline.
As he did four years ago, Tobin will offer a noon Mass at the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul to offer prayers for newly elected leaders, as “a Prayer to Our Nation.” This marks the second time in at least 24 years that no Catholic bishop will be present at the State House to offer prayers at the inauguration ceremony for a new governor, according to Journal reports. In 2011, then-Governor-elect Lincoln D. Chafee, an Episcopalian, broke with tradition and decided against having a Catholic bishop offer prayers at the inaugural ceremony.
The Rev. Edward L. Pieroni, pastor of St. Raymond Roman Catholic Church in Providence where Raimondo is a parishioner, will be one of six religious leaders from different faiths participating in the inauguration. Raimondo will attend a 9 a.m. Mass at St. Raymond, on North Main Street, before the inauguration. “It’s their regular weekday Mass,” said diocesan spokeswoman Karen Davis. The governor-elect “wanted to start the day with prayer at her parish.” The Rhode Island Catholic, the diocesan newspaper, reported last month that Tobin “had previously indicated” that he did not intend to attend Tuesday’s inauguration.
Tobin said the noon Mass will mark “an opportunity for us to gather as a faith community to ask for God’s blessing upon our nation and our state at a time when there are so many challenges and issues to be dealt with.”
The day after the election, Tobin told WPRO News that he and Raimondo “have had a nice little exchange of correspondence,” and he was hoping “to build some bridges,” after he’d criticized her endorsement by the pro-choice group Planned Parenthood.
Here are our selections for the best of Courageous Priest 2014
Let’s start with the Courageous Priest of the Year.
Bishop Thomas John Paprocki
Let’s give it to Bishop Thomas John Paprocki. Many would give it Cardinal Raymond Burke. Fr. Z argues the point very effectively in his Priest of the Year award. I have no qualms with that. Bishop Paprocki gets the nod because most of his articles came from the heart this year and was not a response to an national issue. I will use this article as an example. Bishop Paprocki: I Direct the Eucharist be Placed in the Center of the Sanctuary. Granted, Cardinal Burke’s heroic action during the Synod would tip the scales for most. Both are winners in our book. Who do you think would be a good winner this year?
Here are some of Bishop Paprocki’s articles we posted.
First Place – over 41,000 visits to the the website
First Place – 103 tweets
First Place – 49 comments on the Courageous Priest website
First Place – 93 comments on the Courageous Priest website using the Facebook comment section
First Place – Facebook likes on the Courageous Priest website; 6600
Second Place – Facebook reach; 25,100
Second Place – Facebook shares
Fourth Place – Facebook comments
Fourth Place – Email subscriber visits: 5800
Personally, I think Fr. Chris Pietraszko’s article was a better read. 18 Sins that Must Be Confessed for Salvation: “To the Catholic who knows this and does not do it, Salvation is Impossible.” Let this be a lesson to all the bloggers out there. Headlines makes a big difference in the number of people that will read an article.
Newcomer of the Year
Fr. Chris Pietraszko
Fr. Chris Pietraszko! He has a strong Facebook presence and a website. I just found out about his website, DiocesansSpirituality.wordpress.com. That makes me “soo haappyy.” I think this line alone will give you an idea about his love of the Church. “One thing I have been trying to do in my Apologetics course is to link our Catholic Spirituality to various doctrinal truths of the Faith.” He has a teacher’s heart.
Hey you Catholic big wigs out there. Start interviewing this guy. I am thinking about Teresa Tomeo, Life on the Rock, Catholic Answers, etc… And someone may want to reach out to Fr. Pietraszko and offer to pay for a premium Facebook account. He already has maxed out the number of friends allowed by Facebook.