Thursday, September 24, 2015

Full text of the Pope's address to the joint session of Congress

Mr. Vice-President,
Mr. Speaker,
Honorable Members of Congress, Dear Friends,

I am most grateful for your invitation to address this Joint Session of Congress in “the land of the free and the home of the brave”. I would like to think that the reason for this is that I too am a son of this great continent, from which we have all received so much and toward which we share a common responsibility.

Each son or daughter of a given country has a mission, a personal and social responsibility. Your own responsibility as members of Congress is to enable this country, by your legislative activity, to grow as a nation. You are the face of its people, their representatives. You are called to defend and preserve the dignity of your fellow citizens in the tireless and demanding pursuit of the common good, for this is the chief aim of all politics. A political society endures when it seeks, as a vocation, to satisfy common needs by stimulating the growth of all its members, especially those in situations of greater vulnerability or risk. Legislative activity is always based on care for the people. To this you have been invited, called and convened by those who elected you.

Yours is a work which makes me reflect in two ways on the figure of Moses. On the one hand, the patriarch and lawgiver of the people of Israel symbolizes the need of peoples to keep alive their sense of unity by means of just legislation. On the other, the figure of Moses leads us directly to God and thus to the transcendent dignity of the human being. Moses provides us with a good synthesis of your work: you are asked to protect, by means of the law, the image and likeness fashioned by God on every human face.

Today I would like not only to address you, but through you the entire people of the United States. Here, together with their representatives, I would like to take this opportunity to dialogue with the many thousands of men and women who strive each day to do an honest day’s work, to bring home their daily bread, to save money and –one step at a time – to build a better life for their families. These are men and women who are not concerned simply with paying their taxes, but in their own quiet way sustain the life of society. They generate solidarity by their actions, and they create organizations which offer a helping hand to those most in need.

I would also like to enter into dialogue with the many elderly persons who are a storehouse of wisdom forged by experience, and who seek in many ways, especially through volunteer work, to share their stories and their insights. I know that many of them are retired, but still active; they keep working to build up this land. I also want to dialogue with all those young people who are working to realize their great and noble aspirations, who are not led astray by facile proposals, and who face difficult situations, often as a result of immaturity on the part of many adults. I wish to dialogue with all of you, and I would like to do so through the historical memory of your people.

My visit takes place at a time when men and women of good will are marking the anniversaries of several great Americans. The complexities of history and the reality of human weakness notwithstanding, these men and women, for all their many differences and limitations, were able by hard work and self-sacrifice – some at the cost of their lives – to build a better future. They shaped fundamental values which will endure forever in the spirit of the American people. A people with this spirit can live through many crises, tensions and conflicts, while always finding the resources to move forward, and to do so with dignity. These men and women offer us a way of seeing and interpreting reality. In honoring their memory, we are inspired, even amid conflicts, and in the here and now of each day, to draw upon our deepest cultural reserves.

I would like to mention four of these Americans: Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton.

This year marks the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, the guardian of liberty, who labored tirelessly that “this nation, under God, [might] have a new birth of freedom”. Building a future of freedom requires love of the common good and cooperation in a spirit of subsidiarity and solidarity.

All of us are quite aware of, and deeply worried by, the disturbing social and political situation of the world today. Our world is increasingly a place of violent conflict, hatred and brutal atrocities, committed even in the name of God and of religion. We know that no religion is immune from forms of individual delusion or ideological extremism. This means that we must be especially attentive to every type of fundamentalism, whether religious or of any other kind. A delicate balance is required to combat violence perpetrated in the name of a religion, an ideology or an economic system, while also safeguarding religious freedom, intellectual freedom and individual freedoms. But there is another temptation which we must especially guard against: the simplistic reductionism which sees only good or evil; or, if you will, the righteous and sinners. The contemporary world, with its open wounds which affect so many of our brothers and sisters, demands that we confront every form of polarization which would divide it into these two camps. We know that in the attempt to be freed of the enemy without, we can be tempted to feed the enemy within. To imitate the hatred and violence of tyrants and murderers is the best way to take their place. That is something which you, as a people, reject.

Our response must instead be one of hope and healing, of peace and justice. We are asked to summon the courage and the intelligence to resolve today’s many geopolitical and economic crises. Even in the developed world, the effects of unjust structures and actions are all too apparent. Our efforts must aim at restoring hope, righting wrongs, maintaining commitments, and thus promoting the well-being of individuals and of peoples. We must move forward together, as one, in a renewed spirit of fraternity and solidarity, cooperating generously for the common good.

The challenges facing us today call for a renewal of that spirit of cooperation, which has accomplished so much good throughout the history of the United States. The complexity, the gravity and the urgency of these challenges demand that we pool our resources and talents, and resolve to support one another, with respect for our differences and our convictions of conscience.

In this land, the various religious denominations have greatly contributed to building and strengthening society. It is important that today, as in the past, the voice of faith continue to be heard, for it is a voice of fraternity and love, which tries to bring out the best in each person and in each society. Such cooperation is a powerful resource in the battle to eliminate new global forms of slavery, born of grave injustices which can be overcome only through new policies and new forms of social consensus.

Here I think of the political history of the United States, where democracy is deeply rooted in the mind of the American people. All political activity must serve and promote the good of the human person and be based on respect for his or her dignity. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” (Declaration of Independence, 4 July 1776). If politics must truly be at the service of the human person, it follows that it cannot be a slave to the economy and finance. Politics is, instead, an expression of our compelling need to live as one, in order to build as one the greatest common good: that of a community which sacrifices particular interests in order to share, in justice and peace, its goods, its interests, its social life. I do not underestimate the difficulty that this involves, but I encourage you in this effort.

Here too I think of the march which Martin Luther King led from Selma to Montgomery fifty years ago as part of the campaign to fulfill his “dream” of full civil and political rights for African Americans. That dream continues to inspire us all. I am happy that America continues to be, for many, a land of “dreams”. Dreams which lead to action, to participation, to commitment. Dreams which awaken what is deepest and truest in the life of a people.

In recent centuries, millions of people came to this land to pursue their dream of building a future in freedom. We, the people of this continent, are not fearful of foreigners, because most of us were once foreigners. I say this to you as the son of immigrants, knowing that so many of you are also descended from immigrants. Tragically, the rights of those who were here long before us were not always respected. For those peoples and their nations, from the heart of American democracy, I wish to reaffirm my highest esteem and appreciation. Those first contacts were often turbulent and violent, but it is difficult to judge the past by the criteria of the present. Nonetheless, when the stranger in our midst appeals to us, we must not repeat the sins and the errors of the past. We must resolve now to live as nobly and as justly as possible, as we educate new generations not to turn their back on our “neighbors” and everything around us. Building a nation calls us to recognize that we must constantly relate to others, rejecting a mindset of hostility in order to adopt one of reciprocal subsidiarity, in a constant effort to do our best. I am confident that we can do this.

Our world is facing a refugee crisis of a magnitude not seen since the Second World War. This presents us with great challenges and many hard decisions. On this continent, too, thousands of persons are led to travel north in search of a better life for themselves and for their loved ones, in search of greater opportunities. Is this not what we want for our own children? We must not be taken aback by their numbers, but rather view them as persons, seeing their faces and listening to their stories, trying to respond as best we can to their situation. To respond in a way which is always humane, just and fraternal. We need to avoid a common temptation nowadays: to discard whatever proves troublesome. Let us remember the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Mt 7:12).

This Rule points us in a clear direction. Let us treat others with the same passion and compassion with which we want to be treated. Let us seek for others the same possibilities which we seek for ourselves. Let us help others to grow, as we would like to be helped ourselves. In a word, if we want security, let us give security; if we want life, let us give life; if we want opportunities, let us provide opportunities. The yardstick we use for others will be the yardstick which time will use for us. The Golden Rule also reminds us of our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development.

This conviction has led me, from the beginning of my ministry, to advocate at different levels for the global abolition of the death penalty. I am convinced that this way is the best, since every life is sacred, every human person is endowed with an inalienable dignity, and society can only benefit from the rehabilitation of those convicted of crimes. Recently my brother bishops here in the United States renewed their call for the abolition of the death penalty. Not only do I support them, but I also offer encouragement to all those who are convinced that a just and necessary punishment must never exclude the dimension of hope and the goal of rehabilitation.

In these times when social concerns are so important, I cannot fail to mention the Servant of God Dorothy Day, who founded the Catholic Worker Movement. Her social activism, her passion for justice and for the cause of the oppressed, were inspired by the Gospel, her faith, and the example of the saints.

How much progress has been made in this area in so many parts of the world! How much has been done in these first years of the third millennium to raise people out of extreme poverty! I know that you share my conviction that much more still needs to be done, and that in times of crisis and economic hardship a spirit of global solidarity must not be lost. At the same time I would encourage you to keep in mind all those people around us who are trapped in a cycle of poverty. They too need to be given hope. The fight against poverty and hunger must be fought constantly and on many fronts, especially in its causes. I know that many Americans today, as in the past, are working to deal with this problem.

It goes without saying that part of this great effort is the creation and distribution of wealth. The right use of natural resources, the proper application of technology and the harnessing of the spirit of enterprise are essential elements of an economy which seeks to be modern, inclusive and sustainable. “Business is a noble vocation, directed to producing wealth and improving the world. It can be a fruitful source of prosperity for the area in which it operates, especially if it sees the creation of jobs as an essential part of its service to the common good” (Laudato Si’, 129). This common good also includes the earth, a central theme of the encyclical which I recently wrote in order to “enter into dialogue with all people about our common home” (ibid., 3). “We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all” (ibid., 14).

In Laudato Si’, I call for a courageous and responsible effort to “redirect our steps” (ibid., 61), and to avert the most serious effects of the environmental deterioration caused by human activity. I am convinced that we can make a difference and I have no doubt that the United States – and this Congress – have an important role to play. Now is the time for courageous actions and strategies, aimed at implementing a “culture of care” (ibid., 231) and “an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded, and at the same time protecting nature” (ibid., 139). “We have the freedom needed to limit and direct technology” (ibid., 112); “to devise intelligent ways of... developing and limiting our power” (ibid., 78); and to put technology “at the service of another type of progress, one which is healthier, more human, more social, more integral” (ibid., 112). In this regard, I am confident that America’s outstanding academic and research institutions can make a vital contribution in the years ahead.

A century ago, at the beginning of the Great War, which Pope Benedict XV termed a “pointless slaughter”, another notable American was born: the Cistercian monk Thomas Merton. He remains a source of spiritual inspiration and a guide for many people. In his autobiography he wrote: “I came into the world. Free by nature, in the image of God, I was nevertheless the prisoner of my own violence and my own selfishness, in the image of the world into which I was born. That world was the picture of Hell, full of men like myself, loving God, and yet hating him; born to love him, living instead in fear of hopeless self-contradictory hungers”. Merton was above all a man of prayer, a thinker who challenged the certitudes of his time and opened new horizons for souls and for the Church. He was also a man of dialogue, a promoter of peace between peoples and religions.

From this perspective of dialogue, I would like to recognize the efforts made in recent months to help overcome historic differences linked to painful episodes of the past. It is my duty to build bridges and to help all men and women, in any way possible, to do the same. When countries which have been at odds resume the path of dialogue – a dialogue which may have been interrupted for the most legitimate of reasons – new opportunities open up for all. This has required, and requires, courage and daring, which is not the same as irresponsibility. A good political leader is one who, with the interests of all in mind, seizes the moment in a spirit of openness and pragmatism. A good political leader always opts to initiate processes rather than possessing spaces (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 222-223).

Being at the service of dialogue and peace also means being truly determined to minimize and, in the long term, to end the many armed conflicts throughout our world. Here we have to ask ourselves: Why are deadly weapons being sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering on individuals and society? Sadly, the answer, as we all know, is simply for money: money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood. In the face of this shameful and culpable silence, it is our duty to confront the problem and to stop the arms trade.

Three sons and a daughter of this land, four individuals and four dreams: Lincoln, liberty; Martin Luther King, liberty in plurality and non-exclusion; Dorothy Day, social justice and the rights of persons; and Thomas Merton, the capacity for dialogue and openness to God.

Four representatives of the American people.

I will end my visit to your country in Philadelphia, where I will take part in the World Meeting of Families. It is my wish that throughout my visit the family should be a recurrent theme. How essential the family has been to the building of this country! And how worthy it remains of our support and encouragement! Yet I cannot hide my concern for the family, which is threatened, perhaps as never before, from within and without. Fundamental relationships are being called into question, as is the very basis of marriage and the family. I can only reiterate the importance and, above all, the richness and the beauty of family life.

In particular, I would like to call attention to those family members who are the most vulnerable, the young. For many of them, a future filled with countless possibilities beckons, yet so many others seem disoriented and aimless, trapped in a hopeless maze of violence, abuse and despair. Their problems are our problems. We cannot avoid them. We need to face them together, to talk about them and to seek effective solutions rather than getting bogged down in discussions. At the risk of oversimplifying, we might say that we live in a culture which pressures young people not to start a family, because they lack possibilities for the future. Yet this same culture presents others with so many options that they too are dissuaded from starting a family.

A nation can be considered great when it defends liberty as Lincoln did, when it fosters a culture which enables people to “dream” of full rights for all their brothers and sisters, as Martin Luther King sought to do; when it strives for justice and the cause of the oppressed, as Dorothy Day did by her tireless work, the fruit of a faith which becomes dialogue and sows peace in the contemplative style of Thomas Merton.

In these remarks I have sought to present some of the richness of your cultural heritage, of the spirit of the American people. It is my desire that this spirit continue to develop and grow, so that as many young people as possible can inherit and dwell in a land which has inspired so many people to dream.

God bless America!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Fr. George W. Rutler on the forgotten Chrsitian refugees of the Middle East: "Europe, our own administration refusing to acknowledge that their Christian faith is the essential fact in the calculus of their suffering."

  September 20, 2015

by Fr. George W. Rutler

A parish is particularly privileged when the Pope comes not only to its city but to the parish itself. Our church has one of the largest capacities in the archdiocese, and we will be hosting a special Holy Hour this Thursday for nearly a thousand young adults. Madison Square Garden will be site of the Pontifical Mass on Friday, for reasons of sheer size and security. On a building on Eighth Avenue, two minutes from our church, is a fine mural that took 100 gallons of paint to show a welcoming figure of Pope Francis, 225 feet high and 93 feet across. This work was the contribution of the Diocese of Brooklyn and will remain in place as a reminder of his visit for six weeks after the pope departs New York for the major part of his U.S. visit in Philadelphia.

   One urgent pastoral matter that Pope Francis has been addressing as the Chief Shepherd of his flock is the refugee crisis in Europe, but it also affects us. There are probably as many opinions on how to deal with this as there are people trying to form a cogent response, but especially prudent is the counsel of bishops in places like Hungary and Slovakia who know from long experience the consequences of confusing naïveté with mercy. Ninety per cent of the current refugees are Muslim, and the situation is complicated by the fact that ISIS boasts that there are many of their own people among them. The founder of, Father Benedict Kiely, has noted: “Emotion, rather than a rational response to a real problem, seems to be the guiding light for the panicked reaction of so many world leaders.” To their shame, the very rich Islamic states in the Persian Gulf have not accepted a single refugee.

   A bipartisan resolution introduced in Congress calls the persecution of Christians in that sorry part of the world “genocide.” This past year, 120,000 Christians were driven from the Nineveh Plain in Iraq with no possessions. During more than four years of civil war, the ancient Christian community in Syria is being destroyed. Christians are not a significant part of the immigrant tide flooding Europe from the UN camps in Syria, Jordan and Turkey because Islamic terrorists have driven them out of those camps for refusing to convert. An Hungarian bishop rightly insisted, and was criticized for it, that to most of the migrants, Christians are second-class citizens. Europe and our own administration in Washington are virtually ignoring their plight, refusing to acknowledge that their Christian faith is the essential fact in the calculus of their suffering. When Coptic Christians were slain in Egypt, our government avoided calling them anything other than “Egyptian citizens.” As Father Kiely has said, “Political correctness is not only a new form of totalitarianism, it is dangerous to national security.”

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Pope's Letter on the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy

Pope's letter on the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy Vatican City, 1 September 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has sent a letter to Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation, regarding the extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, in which he reaffirms his hope that the jubilee indulgence will lead every person to a “genuine experience of God's mercy” and explains that it can also be obtained by incarcerated persons. In addition, he grants to all priests, notwithstanding any provision to the contrary, the faculty to absolve from sin those who have resorted to abortion, repenting and asking forgiveness with a sincere heart, and establishes that those who during the Holy Year of Mercy approach the priests of the Fraternity of St Pius X to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation shall validly and licitly receive the absolution of their sins. The following is the full text of the letter: “With the approach of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy I would like to focus on several points which I believe require attention to enable the celebration of the Holy Year to be for all believers a true moment of encounter with the mercy of God. It is indeed my wish that the Jubilee be a living experience of the closeness of the Father, whose tenderness is almost tangible, so that the faith of every believer may be strengthened and thus testimony to it be ever more effective. “My thought first of all goes to all the faithful who, whether in individual Dioceses or as pilgrims to Rome, will experience the grace of the Jubilee. I wish that the Jubilee Indulgence may reach each one as a genuine experience of God’s mercy, which comes to meet each person in the Face of the Father who welcomes and forgives, forgetting completely the sin committed. To experience and obtain the Indulgence, the faithful are called to make a brief pilgrimage to the Holy Door, open in every Cathedral or in the churches designated by the Diocesan Bishop, and in the four Papal Basilicas in Rome, as a sign of the deep desire for true conversion. Likewise, I dispose that the Indulgence may be obtained in the Shrines in which the Door of Mercy is open and in the churches which traditionally are identified as Jubilee Churches. It is important that this moment be linked, first and foremost, to the Sacrament of Reconciliation and to the celebration of the Holy Eucharist with a reflection on mercy. It will be necessary to accompany these celebrations with the profession of faith and with prayer for me and for the intentions that I bear in my heart for the good of the Church and of the entire world. “Additionally, I am thinking of those for whom, for various reasons, it will be impossible to enter the Holy Door, particularly the sick and people who are elderly and alone, often confined to the home. For them it will be of great help to live their sickness and suffering as an experience of closeness to the Lord who in the mystery of his Passion, death and Resurrection indicates the royal road which gives meaning to pain and loneliness. Living with faith and joyful hope this moment of trial, receiving communion or attending Holy Mass and community prayer, even through the various means of communication, will be for them the means of obtaining the Jubilee Indulgence. My thoughts also turn to those incarcerated, whose freedom is limited. The Jubilee Year has always constituted an opportunity for great amnesty, which is intended to include the many people who, despite deserving punishment, have become conscious of the injustice they worked and sincerely wish to re-enter society and make their honest contribution to it. May they all be touched in a tangible way by the mercy of the Father who wants to be close to those who have the greatest need of his forgiveness. They may obtain the Indulgence in the chapels of the prisons. May the gesture of directing their thought and prayer to the Father each time they cross the threshold of their cell signify for them their passage through the Holy Door, because the mercy of God is able to transform hearts, and is also able to transform bars into an experience of freedom. “I have asked the Church in this Jubilee Year to rediscover the richness encompassed by the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. The experience of mercy, indeed, becomes visible in the witness of concrete signs as Jesus himself taught us. Each time that one of the faithful personally performs one or more of these actions, he or she shall surely obtain the Jubilee Indulgence. Hence the commitment to live by mercy so as to obtain the grace of complete and exhaustive forgiveness by the power of the love of the Father who excludes no one. The Jubilee Indulgence is thus full, the fruit of the very event which is to be celebrated and experienced with faith, hope and charity. “Furthermore, the Jubilee Indulgence can also be obtained for the deceased. We are bound to them by the witness of faith and charity that they have left us. Thus, as we remember them in the Eucharistic celebration, thus we can, in the great mystery of the Communion of Saints, pray for them, that the merciful Face of the Father free them of every remnant of fault and strongly embrace them in the unending beatitude. “One of the serious problems of our time is clearly the changed relationship with respect to life. A widespread and insensitive mentality has led to the loss of the proper personal and social sensitivity to welcome new life. The tragedy of abortion is experienced by some with a superficial awareness, as if not realising the extreme harm that such an act entails. Many others, on the other hand, although experiencing this moment as a defeat, believe they they have no other option. I think in particular of all the women who have resorted to abortion. I am well aware of the pressure that has led them to this decision. I know that it is an existential and moral ordeal. I have met so many women who bear in their heart the scar of this agonising and painful decision. What has happened is profoundly unjust; yet only understanding the truth of it can enable one not to lose hope. The forgiveness of God cannot be denied to one who has repented, especially when that person approaches the Sacrament of Confession with a sincere heart in order to obtain reconciliation with the Father. For this reason too, I have decided, notwithstanding anything to the contrary, to concede to all priests for the Jubilee Year the discretion to absolve of the sin of abortion those who have procured it and who, with contrite heart, seek forgiveness for it. May priests fulfil this great task by expressing words of genuine welcome combined with a reflection that explains the gravity of the sin committed, besides indicating a path of authentic conversion by which to obtain the true and generous forgiveness of the Father who renews all with his presence. “A final consideration concerns those faithful who for various reasons choose to attend churches officiated by priests of the Fraternity of St Pius X. This Jubilee Year of Mercy excludes no one. From various quarters, several Brother Bishops have told me of their good faith and sacramental practice, combined however with an uneasy situation from the pastoral standpoint. I trust that in the near future solutions may be found to recover full communion with the priests and superiors of the Fraternity. In the meantime, motivated by the need to respond to the good of these faithful, through my own disposition, I establish that those who during the Holy Year of Mercy approach these priests of the Fraternity of St Pius X to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation shall validly and licitly receive the absolution of their sins. “Trusting in the intercession of the Mother of Mercy, I entrust the preparations for this Extraordinary

Thursday, August 13, 2015



Six months ago, I moved to Vermont. I now live in a state that is ranked 49th by Americans United for Life in terms of protection of the life of children in the womb.  My state representative (I live in Chittenden District 6-3) is employed as a VP at Planned Parenthood of Northern New England.  At the start of this year’s state legislative term, pro-choice advocates forced a roll-call vote of each member as to their support of “Roe v. Wade” even though no pro-life or pro-choice initiatives were on this year’s legislative agenda.  Obviously, the pro-choice side was affirmed overwhelmingly.  Vermont does not have any of the major types of abortion restrictions—such as waiting periods, mandated parental involvement or limitations on publicly funded abortions—often found in other states.

Yet, as is the case all over the United States, the number of pregnancies ending in abortion continues to decline in Vermont. In 1991, 22.8 % of pregnancies in Vermont ended in abortion. Twenty years later in 2011, 11.7% of children were aborted. It is still a terrible number, but the decline gives hope. Even in this most pro-abortion of all states, men and women are coming to see the tragic nature of abortion and choosing to do otherwise.  We Catholics and those who share our pro-life beliefs need to continue to be strong witnesses to the truth that all human life is sacred and the greatest gift from God.

Presently, much outrage is being generated by the release of undercover videos of conversations between representatives of Planned Parenthood and men and women posing as “buyers” looking to procure body parts and tissue samples from aborted children.  The callousness with which the Planned Parenthood staff speaks of the harvesting of organs from what was once a living human being is horrifying and stunning. But, sadly, I am not surprised. In numerous instances, the more radical proponents of abortion rights, of which the people at Planned Parenthood are the most outspoken, always speak of the child in the womb as simply “an embryo” or “tissue.”  For them, it is not a human life, a person, a child. It is tissue. So, why are we surprised when they treat the remains of the “tissue,” as just that, something one can simply dispose of as one will? 

It is my hope that the content of these videos which reveal how Planned Parenthood and its staff truly view human life in the womb will serve as a “wake up call,” even a slap in the face to all of us and spur more and more men and women to come to know that the pre-born child is not tissue, but a beautiful creation of God.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

"Our Lady of the Snows": The story behind the "major", or greatest, Basilica dedicated to Our Lady in Rome

When Liberius was Pope, a Roman patrician named John, and his wife, also of noble birth, having no children to inherit their goods, vowed their inheritance to the most holy Virgin Mother of God. The blessed Virgin heard their prayers and approved their vow by a miracle.

On the 5th of August, which is that time when the heat of summer waxeth greatest in the City, a part of the Esquiline Hill was covered by night with snow. And on that same night, the Mother of God told John and his wife separately in dreams that they should build a church on that place. When John told this to Pope Liberius, he said that he had had the same dream. The Pope therefore went to the snow-covered hill and there marked out a site.

The church was built with the money given by John and his wife, and was later restored by Sixtus III. It hath been given various names; but, so that its title may indicate its excellence, it is called the Church of St. Mary Major.

From the Breviarium Romanum

Monday, July 6, 2015

Why am I asking our bishops to remove Sr Carol Keehan from leadership of the CHAUSA or the title "Catholic" from its name?

By Father Kevin M. Cusick
With all due respect, it is time the bishops acted.

Sister Carol Keehan’s latest outrage of scandalous disobedience was to invite President Obama to address the national gathering of the US Catholic Health Association where he proceeded to thank the organization and credit them with the role of those without whose help he could not have passed Obamacare.

The increasingly confusing Catholic landscape is making the truth of Catholic faith and morals ever more difficult for the average Catholic to grasp in the context of what Benedict XVI called a “catechetical emergency”. Where the bishops can act to remove that fog of war in the battle for winning souls they should act. The math is simple: either remove Sister Carol Keehan from leadership of the CHAUSA or act publicly to remove the title “Catholic” from the organization.

We must support our bishops by prayer and obedience. We must act in tandem with them to spread and nurture the Catholic faith for the salvation of souls. But at the same time we are all of us, bishops and people, alike subject to the faith and morals of the Church of Christ, and must help and correct each other whenever that becomes necessary in order to do the same. There are many things the Catholic bishops have no earthly power to do anything about except to pray. At the same time there are always situations where no one has the power to act except the bishops together on the national level or an individual bishop in his own diocese.

Abortion is not healthcare; it is murder. Sister Carol Keehan has openly defied Jesus Christ by her encouraging and enabling behavior at every step of the process to introduce the HHS mandate as part of the “Affordable” Healthcare Plan. Even the title of the plan itself has turned out to be a specious lie as so many people are now bankrupted by the program or turned away from any source of health insurance altogether. Above every other consideration, however, the plan is not about health care as long as it approves or pays for any form of abortifacients.

Those issues aside, and considering all she has failed to refuse moral cooperation in the HHS mandate, her latest escapade of inviting President Obama to address the organization in a national high-profile gathering is a purely gratuitous and simply unnecessary scandal of complete and utter disobedience.

For the bishops to, at the same time, allow her to continue lobbying on the national stage for abortifacients like contraception while the bishops themselves are attempting to rightly teach the opposite, in accord with Humanae Vitae, that every use of artificial contraception is a moral evil confuses and divides Catholics who are already struggling to do what is right or need constant support of right teaching in order to reject what is sinful with the help of grace.


Monday, June 29, 2015

Archdiocese of Washington eliminates annulment fees

After consultation with the Priest Council and the Tribunal, Cardinal Wuerl has accepted the proposal to eliminate all fees for the annulment process, effective immediately. This includes the $750 fee for a formal annulment case and the $100 fee for a declaration of nullity due to lack of proper canonical form.

This decision comes in anticipation of the Jubilee of Mercy announced by Pope Francis to begin on December 8, 2015 and as we prepare to welcome Pope Francis to Washington in September. In his address to the Roman Rota in January, our Holy Father indicated how important it is that each tribunal assists those who wish to return to the sacraments. He commented, "How I wish all marriage proceedings were free of charge!"

Up to now, the Archdiocese has subsidized the annulment process for anyone who approaches the Tribunal. Even though we requested the fees listed above, if anyone were unable to pay the fees, they were waived. With the elimination of these trees, it is hoped that anyone who may have been reluctant to approach the tribunal will now feel welcome to submit their case.

From a letter dated today, 29 June 2015, on Archdiocesan letterhead emailed today by Auxiliary Bishop Barry Knestout.

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