Friday, July 30, 2010

Bishop Morlino of Madison attacked in local paper

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal which comes upon you to prove you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice in so far as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.  If you are reproached for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or a thief, or a wrongdoer, or a mischief-maker; yet if one suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but under that name let him glorify God.  For the time has come for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? And "If the righteous man is scarcely saved, where will the impious and sinner appear?" Therefore let those who suffer according to God's will do right and entrust their souls to a faithful Creator. (1 Peter 4:12-19)

It would seem that the Holy Spirit has come to rest on Bishop Morlino.

If you want to see what a biased, anti-Catholic newstory looks like, you won't have to go much further than Isthmus | the Daily Page.  This one of the worst hatchet jobs I've seen to date.  I don't know what is being taught in journalism school, but the author interviewed people of only one age group, and they were all dissidents - people who reject Church teaching because it doesn't mesh with their desired life choices.  In the body of the article are many theological errors, presented as "authentic" Catholic teaching.  Here is a sample (emphases mine in bold; comments bracketed in red).

"People my age," says the 71-year-old Beyers, "are referred to sometimes as Vatican II people." This gathering of bishops and cardinals from around the world, between 1962 and 1965, led to sweeping changes in church policy and practice , most aimed at making it more inclusive [one of the things you will often find is people making claims about Vatican II that simply can't be found in the documents of Vatican II.  In fact, it was one of the historical events that has probably been the most peverted by people with wishful thinking. People have distorted it in such a way that they believe it contains things that simply aren't there]. As Beyers puts it, Vatican II "opened the window to let fresh air in" by giving laity an important role in running the church [I wonder if he has ever read what Vatican II's, Dogmatic Constitution of the Church, Lumen Gentium said about the laity? ]. But some within the church "have been trying to slam it shut ever since." [Actually, it is faithful Catholics - lay people,  theologians, priests, consecrated persons - all united with their bishops, who are united with the Holy Father (also something explained quite eloquently in LG) who are working to get Vatican II back from those who hi-jacked it)

Beyers thinks Morlino, who has been steeped in controversy since his arrival in Madison in 2003, is clearly in this camp [the real controversy is being created by those who want to create a designer religion out of Catholicism.  They want "truth" to be 10 different things at once, and they want it to function like a chameleon - changing colors to suit a given situation]. And he thinks the bishop should be replaced. "This is my church," [no, it is Christ's Church - he founded it, he set up the system ("he who hears you, hears me")] says Beyers. "They're definitely not going to drive me out of it [but if he rejects her teachings, he has effectively left by his own choice!]. I grew up in it, I'm comfortable in it, but the hierarchy lives in a bubble." [Our Lord didn't say the path would be easy and broad, he said it would be difficult and narrow.  Following Christ means to follow him right through to crucifixion.  That is, we die with Christ by dying to self.].

Madison resident Jim Green, a Catholic brother for eight years in the Divine Word Missionary, was in Rome during the last two years of Vatican II. For the past 40 years he's lived with his life partner, Bill Diederich. [we can pretty much guess that his beef with Bishop Morlino has to do with the fact that His Excellency isn't going to tell him that this is ok].  Both are Roman Catholics and members of Dignity USA, a Catholic support group for LGBTs and their allies. [You can read here about Dignity and contrast it with Courage Apostolate, which supports people with SSA to live a life of chastity, just as any heterosexual single person, such as myself, is called by God to live (Christ came to fulfill the Old Testament, not abolish it so the 10 commandments - specifically the 6th and the 9th, remain in effect)]

"When I speak of the church, I don't think of the institution, the pyramid with the laity at the bottom and the pope at the top," says Green, 71, a member of Call to Action. The documents that came out of Vatican II, he notes, spoke of a circular system with the laity's role as important as those of the priests, the bishops and the pope . It's a system in which everyone has a voice. [I have no doubt that this man has never read the documents of Vatican II, in particular Lumen Gentium.  It's not even that long of a read.]

The author, in classic biased fashion, interviewed disgruntled Catholics who are unhappy about the fact that the bishop is taking his teaching office seriously and trying to root out error in his diocese.  They want to hear that homosexual activity is accepted, that women can be ordained, and a segment of them are pro-choice on abortion.  These aren't people arguing for a fourth person of the Trinity. Rather, they want the Church (and Bishop Morlino) to change things that the Church has no authority to change because.... this is Christ's Church, not your Church, my Church, our Church - but Christ's Church. 

Each bishop has to function according to his conscience and like our conscience it must be formed with the mind of the Church.  Salvation of the flock has to come before feelings, which amounts to false charity.  Most things aimed at salvation will challenge our worldly desires.  We want to do as we please and the bishop's job as teacher in his diocese is to ensure that the Catholic faith is presented authentically, and fully aligned with the Magisterium. 

What you will find in the article is what is often referred to as a pseudo-magisterium.  That is, the mistaken impression that a body of theologians all agreeing on something, makes that something "true" or "authentic" with regards to Catholic teaching.  Democracy, in their mind, shapes "truth" which is why polls is often so important to this group.  This is not the case.  If 99 people in a room all agree that 2+2 = 5, it does not change the objective reality that the true answer is 4. 

The dissidence surrounding Humanae Vitae is a classic example  pseudo-"magisterium".  Yet, Pope Paul VI's words proved to be prophetic (read here, here and here). 

Now, read this about Bishop Morlino:

We need to pray for our bishops, as well as for those whose eternal salvation they are working to save.

Te Deum Laudamus! Home

The obedient are not held captive by Holy Mother Church; it is the disobedient who are held captive by the world!
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Monday, July 26, 2010

It's Archbishop Burke... again!

A prefect of one congregation and a member of four others.

"Promoted out" of the US?

Ok - let's count 'em...

Also, this (emphases mine in bold):
On 7 October 2008, Burke was appointed President of the Commission for Advocates, which is responsible for admitting the world's qualified canon lawyers to a registry of those who may practice in the Vatican's courts - a sort of bar association. This post is related, but secondary to and distinct from, his post as Prefect of the Signatura (source)
Archbishop Burke is also a shoe-in to be named a Cardinal at the next consistory which is thought to take place anywhere from this fall to early spring of 2011.

'nuff said - LOL

ad multos annos, Excellency!

Edit July 28, 2010: Patrick Madrid has a good post up on this....

Edit Aug 8, 2010:  Added +Burke's membership on Congregation for Clergy and Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts to the main list, and the note about his presidency of the Commission for Advocates.

Te Deum Laudamus! Home
The obedient are not held captive by Holy Mother Church; it is the disobedient who are held captive by the world!
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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Archbishop Allen Vigneron celebrates 35 years of priesthood on July 26, 2010

Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron leads the holy Rosary at the Helpers of God's Precious Infants
prayer vigil outside of a Detroit abortion clinic on November 21, 2009. 

On Monday, July 26, 2010, Detroit's archbishop, Allen H. Vigneron, will celebrate 35 years of priesthood, with the celebration of Holy Mass.  That's what  he told Al Kresta in an interview on July 20, 2010 (which begins about 2/3 of the way through this audio segment). 

I wanted to make this post so that you could offer prayers for our shepherd on this special occasion. 

It is important to pray for priests, but even moreso, for the men who lead other priests - our bishops.  The mark of the priesthood is ever in the cross-hairs of the Angel of Darkness.  As much as the lay faithful will be placed into temptation, how much more true this is for priests and bishops.  For this reason, we must be vigiliant not in what we we say about them, but how much we pray for them.

Speaking from my Carmelite heart in general about bishops, it is not the critique we often find on the interent of a bishop's job which helps him in anyway, but the faithful on their knees asking God to pour down graces of wisdom, prudence, and holy boldness upon our shepherds. The power of prayer is underestimated.  If it weren't, the few adoration chapels that we have would be opened perpetually and occupied, and more would be established.   We would see more holy hours in parishes for vocations, and for the sanctification of the priesthood.  In other words, we cannot do the job of the bishop, for the bishop, but we can supply the fuel he needs for his job and give to God the job of "maintenance" and "repair" where needed.

When I heard Archbishop Vigneron was coming to Detroit, I predicted we would see a boom in priestly vocations.  I don't think I will be disappointed.  We have another 12 men entering this fall.  We had a similar number last year - somewhat higher if I recall.  He spends time getting to know seminarians and showing them that prayer is the first order of the day. 

When our archbishop got to Oakland, there were some 10 adoration chapels. When he left 6 years later to come to Detroit, there were over 50.  Could Oakland be completely turned around in 6 years with those adoration chapels? It is unlikely that any diocese can be completely turned around in so little time.  However, that is where change begins - with prayer.  We may not see everything turning as fast as we want, in the direction we fully desire.  However, always keep in mind that it didn't get this way overnight. The Israelites got to the Promised Land one step at a time over 40 years.  Even after they got there, turmoil continued among them.  It was generations before enough peace settle over Israel for Solomon's temple to be built.

I know Grotto's pastor was grateful with the special Mass and day Archbishop Vigneron held with the priests of the diocese on the Feast of the Sacred Heart this year, as were the other priests at the parish.  Archbishop Vigneron is a man who is not afraid to wear his Eucharistic and Marian devotion on his sleeve.  In fact, he fosters it personally here in the Archdiocese.

Under Archbishop Vigneron, Detroit saw it's first Corpus Christi procession in over 40 years on his first feast day at the helm, and repeated it again this year.  For that first occasion, he blew the dust off of an old vestment and used it. He is fostering First Friday devotions, and promoted devotion to Our Lady of Perpetual Help.

These are foundations and building blocks.  It is with these things that the building  of the "temple" is initiated. It will take many years for it to take visible shape. 

We are emerging from a period of confusion in the Church - one that Archbishop Vigneron briefly acknowledges in his interview with Al.  The  70's were very difficult indeed when he was ordained.  From my perspective, things were still pretty messed up through the 90's.  There are still challenges here in the Archdiocese of Detroit and we will do the most good getting behind our archbishop, rosary in hand, and time before the Blessed Sacrament than with any other activity we can engage in.

His Excellency has a blog which he uses now and then for special occasions. He writes periodically to the blog, then it goes dormant for a time.  I'm am hoping he will eventually start writing to the blog on a weekly or twice monthly basis as one of many ways to use his teaching office.  More and more bishops are doing this as a means to reach a younger demographic population which loves to hear from them online.  Perhaps you could let him know you are interested through the AoD's information email: infodesk (at) aod (dot) org

Since his blog is not running regular, feel free to leave your prayerful comments and well wishes in the combox here. 

Ad multos annos, Archbishop Vigneron!

If you are looking for a place to go on Thursday nights, join us at Assumption Grotto for 7:00pm Mass, followed by the Passio Domini - a holy hour for the sanctification of the priesthood.


Te Deum Laudamus! Home
The obedient are not held captive by Holy Mother Church; it is the disobedient who are held captive by the world!
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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Passio Domini Thursday Nights at Assumption Grotto

Just a reminder, that the weekly Passio Domini, led by the Order of Canons Regular of the Holy Cross takes place every Thursday at Assumption Grotto following the 7:00pm Mass. 

As soon as Mass is done, Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament begins.  The reflections used during the Holy Hour, with the Rosary, often come from sources, such as those written by Padre Pio on the agony of the Garden (a sample of which can be seen here if you scroll down).  Reflections have also been used from, Mary and the Priestly Ministry - a classic which is great for priests, consecrated persons and laity alike.

We spend the hour with Our Lord on Thursday evenings because it is when he entered his passion.  It also guides us with the right frame of mind into Friday.  As the  holy angels worked to give Our Lord strength during His Passion, what comfort it must bring Him for us to offer up the evening to be with Him.

Assumption Grotto is not always the most comfortable in the summer, given the lack of air-conditioning, and most simply take the attitude that it is simply one more thing to offer up.  I often reflect on what it was like for people even 100 years ago, or today in many countries around the world where indoor climate control in summer is not an option.  Health issues aside, hopefully, such a discomfort would not deter any pious soul from coming.

The evening Mass on Thursdays is in the ordinary form (new missal), but is celebrated mostly in Latin.  There are often two sets of booklets on the tables near the side doors - one is for the extraordinary form (1962 missal) and the other for the newer Mass.  The one with a simple cover is for this Mass.

Won't you watch one hour with Our Lord?

"and angels came and comforted him"

The obedient are not held captive by Holy Mother Church; it is the disobedient who are held captive by the world!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Homily of Papal Nuncio to Bosnia-Herzegovina - St. Bonaventure and new Franciscan Bishop

Not all news I report on out of Bosnia-Herzegovina is related to Medjugorje...

Just a few minutes ago, I completed a post about a new franciscan bishop named for the country of Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH) - Marko Semren, O.F.M.  The fact that he is franciscan is what made it newsworthy to me. While franciscans had some prominence in the episcopacy for a period of time, the last two were succeeded by a diocesan line of priests going all the way back to the mid-1940's.  So, this is the first franciscan to be on the Bishop's Conference of BiH in all this time.  He will be an auxiliary bishop in Banja Luka.

Because I gave some background in that post, I did not want to make it too long.  What follows here is the homily given by the papal nuncio to BiH, Archbishop Allessandro D'Errico.  He was in Banja Luka for the announcment on the memorial of St. Bonaventure.  The Mass was concelebrated with Cardinal Puljic and Bishops Komarica of Banja Luka and Bishop Peric of Mostar-Duvno.  Archbishop D'Errico touches profoundly on the life of St. Bonaventure and his love for the institution of the Church. There is one Church and unity is something to strive for, but not just any unity - unity within the local Church, which is united with the Holy Father.  For anyone with an interest in Catholicism in BiH, including franciscan and diocesan relations, there are some thoughts he conveys worth pondering. 

Here is a translation of that homily, by Fr. Philip Pavich, O.F.M. That which is emboldened and emphasized in italics, is as it was found in the original Croatian text at the Katolička Tiskovna Agencija (Catholic Press Agency of the Bosnia-Herzegovina Bishop's Conference)

Homily of Nuncio D'Errico in the Cathedral of Banja Luka
Solemn Eucharistic Celebration on the Feast of St. Bonaventure

The Apostolic Nuncio in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Archbishop Alessandro D'Errico, presided in the Cathedral of Banja Luka on July 15 at the Solemn Eucharitic Celebration on the Feast of St. Bonaventure, patron of the diocese and cathedral of Banja Luka. The homily he gave on that occasion is presented here in its entirety:
I am glad that also today I see so great a celebration for the feast of St. Bonaventure, the heavenly patron of the Diocese of Banja Luka. I am happy to see gathered here not only Cardinal Vinko Puljic, the chosen son of this country, and our confreres in the Episcopate, but also so many priests, a great number of men and women religious and so many of the laity.

I respectfully welcome the Vice President, Mr. Davor Čordaš, Consul of the Republic of Croatia, Mr. Francis Piplović, and the civil authorities present here. I am pleased to say a special word of appreciation and recognition to your bishop, the dear and esteemed Mons. Komarica - who since a few months ago is again President of the Bishops' Conference - for the tireless service that he provides in this particular Church and the Church in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

I gladly accepted the invitation to propose some elements for consideration at this solemn liturgical celebration, to express to you in this way the spiritual closeness and support of the Holy Father, the head of the Holy See, and also at the same time the intense cooperation of the Apostolic Nunciature in the pastoral life of Banja Luka, which - despite so many difficulties - with courage and steadfastness continues its witness of fidelity to God, Church and Country. Of course I accepted the invitation of Bishop Komarica, because of the importance of this day, the liturgical feast of St. Bonaventure, who is a great image of the Master as a religious and a saint, and because I believe that his life and his works radiate a message that is alive and contemporary for our communities.

As you know, St. Bonaventure was a contemporary of other great saints, like St. Francis of Assisi and St Thomas Aquinas. So he lived about 800 years ago. HIs date of birth is not exactly known, but is placed between 1217 and 1221. He was born in Civita di Bagnoregio, near Viterbo, Italy. His father was a doctor. At first he had the name John like his father. Then he changed it to Bonaventure, when he entered the Franciscan family. He taught theology at the famous Sorbonne University in Paris, then from 1257 (at age 40 years), he was Minister General of the Franciscan Order for 17 years.

In 1273 (when he was 56 years old) his life underwent a great change: Pope Gregory X called him to be Bishop of Albano, and a Cardinal. And moreover asked him to prepare an Ecumenical Council in Lyon, which had the task of again establishing unity in the Church, that is, full communion between the Latin and Greek Churches. He devoted himself assiduously to this delicate task, but did not succeed in seeing the completion of the ecumenical session, because he died in 1257, while it was being prepared. He was 57 years old.

One anonymous papal clerk left us a short but wonderful description: "A good man, kind, then also compassionate, full of virtues, beloved of God and people." He was a great saint, but also an excellent philosopher and theologian. And so for the works that he left us, after his death (1592) he was declared a Doctor of the Church, and was called "The Seraphic Doctor."

My dear brothers and sisters, in recent days I have been asking myself one question above all: "What can St. Bonaventure teach us? The answer was simple: he can teach a lot, like every great saint. And here, in order to facilitate reflection, I would like to point out only two aspects of his character, which can be very useful for our concrete pastoral situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

First of all, he cultivated a great love for St. Francis and the Franciscan Order. An event that happened while he was a boy, made a deep impresson on his life. He was struck by a severe illness. Not even his father, who was a doctor, hoped any longer to save him from death. His mother hastened to the intercession of Saint Francis, who had just been canonized, and she obtained his healing. Later, when he was a student in Paris, he remained fascinated by the ardent testimony and radical evangelical witness of the Friars Minor, who had come to Paris a few years earlier. It so happened that John knocked on the door of the Franciscan monastery in that city and asked to be admitted to the great family of the spiritual sons of Saint Francis. He was invested with the Franciscan habit in 1243 and was named St. Bonaventure (exchanging John with Bonaventure).

Fourteen years later, when he was already a renowned teacher in Paris, the General Chapter of the Order elected him to be Minister General. He was 40 years old. He fulfilled this service wisely and faithfully for 17 years. Concerning this so sensitive service of General Minister, I would like particularly to draw attention to two elements:

- In the first place to the Constitution of the Order, which he prepared and had approved by order of the General Chapter (1260, Constituzioni Narbonensi). On these Constitutions were based all subsequent Constitutions of the Order.

- Then, the life of St. Francis, which he personally prepared (entitled Legenda Maior), which became the official biography of Saint Francis, at a delicate moment in Franciscan history, when conflicting interpretations of the life of the founder were in danger of causing serious tensions and divisions.

The image of Saint Francis, which flowed out of the heart and pen of his loyal son, St. Bonaventure, is that the man from Assisi was a poor person who passionately sought Jesus Christ, who knew him and loved him. Out of love comes imitation, and so he became like him completely. St. Bonaventure with fervor of faith dedicated himself and particularly all followers of Saint Francis to this model. But this model is valid for every Christian, yesterday, today and tomorrow. It is a program of the spiritual life, that is valid also for us today. And today as we celebrate the great patron of Banja Luka, we are called to live this ideal every day in our life. In other words it is according to the life of St. Francis that St. Bonaventure invites us to know Jesus, to love Him and to imitate him, to put Him in the center of our life, and - especially in difficulties - to be with him on the cross, to take up our cross every day, so as to share with Him in the dawn of resurrection and life.

The other aspect of the personality of St. Bonaventure which I think is very important for our communities, is his great love for the Church. He witnessed his love for the Church not only during the time of his episcopal ministry in Albano and of preparation for the Ecumenical Council of Lyons, but through all of his theological and spiritual works, his sermons, and his academic activities in Paris which speak of him as a loyal son of the Church.

He wanted to institutionalize this unconditional love for the Church in the Franciscan Order when he was invited to be Minister General. And so, with the above mentioned Constitutions which he prepared for the Order and that were approved in1260 at the General Chapter of Narbonne, he wanted to arrange the life of the Franciscan Order in a harmonious way and with a desire to actively include the Order in pastoral ministry and in the organized and institutional structure of the Church.

This is an essential element, because there is always the danger of opposing the charismatic-spiritual dimension to the institutional-canonical dimension. In those days that danger was quite present when many of the friars - under the influence of the thought of Joachim of Florence - emphasized the prophetical - radical poverty view of simple Franciscanism. For St. Bonaventure the Franciscans - with their charism, their religious consecration, their daily breathing in the life and example of Friar Francis - have to live and actively be involved in the institutional church. And he never tired of repeating that the Church can be made even more luminous and even more beautiful by fidelity to the vocation of those sons of hers who were called by Jesus to observe the evangelical counsels of poverty, obedience and chastity (and not just the Commandments), as happened with the rich young man from the Gospel. It is a matter of service to the one Church of Christ, each one in fidelity to the talents received, which the Holy Spirit bestows for building up the Body of Christ.

This helps us still better understand why St. Bonaventure consented to be a Bishop and a Cardinal. His example opened the way. And so still also today the Holy Father - as many Popes have also done throughout history - continues to call many men religious and many members of the great Franciscan family to become Bishops, or also Cardinals of the Church of God.

Today, after many centuries, we can affirm without shadow of doubt how really great a contribution it is that St. Bonaventure made toward the proper ecclesiastical placing of religious life. And that really explains why he is considered practically to be the second founder of the Franciscan Order.

My dear brothers and sisters, the example of love for the Church which comes to us from St. Bonaventure is of special importance for our communities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which are traditionally marked with the apostolic zeal of the Franciscan friars. I have already had the opportunity in various circumstances to say - and I am happy to repeat also today - that already from my arrival in Sarajevo, I have been touched by the solid organization of these particular Churches. I am still more amazed when I consider that this is being achieved despite the limitations in resources and personnel, and despite the trials which the Church in this part of the world has had to face even in recent times.

Yet I still can not conceal that the Holy See, and indeed the Holy Father himself personally today is seeking an extra effort, asking for greater attention to certain painful questions, mostly inherited from the past. I am thinking especially about the mutual relations between diocesan priests and institutions, on the one hand, and religious families (male and female), on the other. In these years I have seen so much goodwill. That needs to be said again today on the feast of St. Bonaventure, who is a renowned teacher of love for the Church. It is necessary for everyone in their heart to have a better collaboration and a greater understanding between diocesan and religious personnel. In other words, I would invite all to give a lot of thought to the urgency of clarifying the difficulties that still exist and work together in the one Church of Christ: in this specific church and for this specific church.

Before the difficulties that come from outside, and before the misunderstandings and tensions that also exist within the Christian community, there is always the risk of discouragement; and also a temptation to "withdraw", and to "wash one's hands" a little, thinking that the bishops and those who have a greater role of responsibility in the Church should solve the problems. So, I believe you will agree with me about the need for each one to feel obligated to do their part, with a sense of Christian responsibility. There is someone who can do a lot, and there is someone who can do a little less. This is the parable of the talents. And if the sense of personal obligation matures in each one, I believe that both your bishops and religious superiors will more easily find just solutions to the challenges we are called to confront.

Dear brothers and sisters, my desire - which is also the prayer at this Holy Mass - is that the model and the heavenly protection of St Bonaventure contribute to further increase our love for Christ and for the Church, and that it obtains for us a stronger spiritual life. I wish for all to be always wholeheartedly open to the grace of God, and continue to do their part for the growth of the Church, here and in the Country. Amen! (KTA)
The Carmelite comes out in me as I offer a thought after reading this homily...

Each individual's growth in holiness is a key to unity in the Church.  There cannot be a unity of this group of Catholics, or that group of Catholics, which are opposed.  "North" cannot be this way and that way - but only one way.  Two feet on one body cannot move a single body forward, if each is going it's own way.  Rather, the works of these various groups, such as diocesan priests and their parishioners, and franciscan priests with theirs, should compliment one another with their God-given charisms just as nerves compliment the brain, and the blood vessels of the human body compliment the heart.  The heart cannot do the work of blood vessels, nor can the blood vessels function like a heart.  Rather, they must work in harmony toward's a common end. 

In the life of the Church, institutionalized by Christ, various religious orders of priests, for example, play a complimentary role to diocesan priests, and vice versa.  Both must work in harmony with their respective local Church through the bishop, and the bishop in harmony with the Holy Father.  When the bishop, in harmony with the Holy Father, is followed, it results in peace and unity.

It may be that, at times, that there are two "good" ways to do a single thing and people disagree. In a specific, local Church, in order to maintain unity, we offer a sacrifice to God of our will, for the will of another. That is, we offer that will first to those pastors who are united with the bishop, and to the bishops united with the Holy Father. 

When all work in this way, disunity is diffused and replaced with unity.  And, when unity is strong within a specific, local Church, the task of working toward's unity with others - non-Catholics, non-Christians, etc., it becomes not only easier, but their work will be blessed by God.

One of the most fundamental steps that everyone can take towards growth in personal holiness, is to pray ardently for the bishops and priests who have been sent to us by God.  Not only will they receive graces, but so will those who pray for them with pure intentions.

The obedient are not held captive by Holy Mother Church; it is the disobedient who are held captive by the world!

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Franciscan named as auxiliary bishop in Bosnia-Herzegovina

As one who lived in Herzegovina for just over 2 years, I have a habit of following not only Catholic news, but Catholic news from Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH).  I don't report on all of what I see, but something happened this past week I would like to share because I think it is out of the ordinary. 

First, a little background information will be helpful for this news.  The small nation of Bosnia and Herzegovina has three dioceses:  Vrhbosna {Sarajevo}, which is the metropolitan see with Vinko Cardinal Puljic (64) at the helm. It has the suffragan dioceses: Banja Luka, which is headed by Bishop Franjo Komarica (64), and Mostar-Duvno (and Trebinje-Mrkan). This  latter diocese, which is led by Bishop Ratko Peric (66), is where Medjugorje lies.  Until now, Vrhbosna was the only diocese with an auxilairy bishop, Pero Sudar (59)

On July 15, 2010 - the memorial of St. Bonaventure (franciscan, bishop, doctor of the Church, and patron saint of Banja Luka), Fr. Marko Semren, O.F.M. was named an auxiliary bishop in Banja Luka by Pope Benedict XVI.  He will be the first franciscan bishop since the mid-1940's in BiH, when the last two (Mostar-Duvno and Banja Luka) were succeeded by men of diocesan lines, up to modern day (in 1997, Bishop Hil Kabashi, OFM was ordained from the province, but serves in Albania) .  I wondered from which province he originated, and quickly discovered that the Bosnian province was claiming him as one of their own (there is also a Province in Herzegovina).

I have a homily translated by the papal nuncio to BiH, Archbishop Allessandro D'Errico from the Cathedral in Banja Luka on the 15th, where he was joined by the country's bishops.  To allow for some background here and not make the post too long, I wanted to break it up into two posts.  Archbishop D'Errico offered a beautiful homily discussing the life of St. Bonaventure and putting it into some context for the people of that nation.  I found some of what he said quite striking.  It goes to unity in the local Church and he guides priests, religious, and laity in an interesting way. 

News of his elevation was found on the home page of the main website for the Order of Friars Minor in Rome, to Dalmatia (Croatia), and even here in the sidebar of a US province

Worldwide, there are 113 franciscan bishops, and Bishop-designate Semren, OFM will end up being the 50th franciscan bishop to come out of the Bosnian Province in it's history.  Additional background shown on him here, is quite impressive

You can read more about Bishop-designate Semren, O.F.M. through a google translator at the Bosnian province website.  He is considered an expert on the history of Franciscans in Bosnia-Herzegovina, which is rather quite a fascinating subject in itself (I got some limited background through an excellent little book by Ivo Sivric, O.F.M. called, Peasant Culture of Bosnia and Herzegovina (c 1982).  It is probably one of the only places in the world, outside of unsettled missionary territory, with a high number of franciscan-run parishes. There is a rich and long history, and the bond the people have with the franciscans is noteworthy as it was presented in Fr. Sivric's book, and by my own personal experience when I lived there.  Perhaps someday, books written by Semren will be translated for others to study.

Most Croatian parishes here in the US with which I am familiar, are franciscan-run, and they have their base in Chicago.  Using data from pages at the diocesan website, I know in Mostar-Duvno, the franciscans are responsible for 30 of the 66 parishes, with the rest in the hands of diocesan priests. Bishop Peric is also the apostolic administrator for the ancient diocese of Trebinje-Mrkan, which has 16 parishes run by 32 diocesan priests (the franciscan custody does not reach into Trebinje-Mrkan).

There's a reason I'm going to drop these numbers out so stay with me...

From a statistical standpoint, it is pretty interesting, as well.  Statistical data found at the Catholic Hierarchy website for each respective diocese reveals that Vrhbosna had, in 2004, about 215,000 Catholics (11% of the total population), with 184 religious order priests to 140 diocesan priests (~665 Catholics/priest).  The vast majority of these religious order priests are likely franciscan, given the history of the place. The second largest see is that of Mostar-Duvno/Trebinje-Mrkan with 208,000 Catholics (which is ~43% of the population according to 2004 data), with 103 diocesan priests and 126 religious order priests.  That total puts it at just over 900 Catholics per priest. Looking lastly at Banja Luka, it is the smallest with about 40,000 Catholics (2006 data), which is just over 7.2% of the population.  In that diocese with 48 parishes, there were 20 diocesan priests to 48 religious order priests (~585 Catholics/priest).

Why these numbers?  It's interesting to see an auxiliary appointed to the smaller of the dioceses, yet Banja Luka was not without an auxiliary bishop in the past.  Bishop Komarica himself was an auxiliary for several years in that diocese before taking the helm.  The Holy See may have long range plans, and knows the needs of each individual bishop.  As noted earlier, all of the BiH bishops are in their mid-sixties, still fairly young from an episcopal standpoint, but each of these men have lived through the terrible, physical and emtional effects of war (1992-1995) and the challenges that followed.  Bishop Komarica is also the Bishop's Conference head, so an auxiliary bishop will help spread the load while allowing the new bishop to get some well-rounded seasoning assisting the current Banja Luka ordinary. 

Ethnic/Political Challenges facing the Bishops of BiH
Many people hear Bosnia-Herzegovina and they think about Medjugorje.  There is much more going on than these alleged Marian apparitions.  There is a sobering note about those numbers that I provided:  The total number of Catholics is probably lower today in 2010 than it was in 2004-2006 (I just didn't have ready access to current data).  BiH is made up of Serbians who are predominantely Orthodox, Croatians who are mostly Catholic, and a third group which some refer to as Bosniaks, who are Muslim.  Of course there are other groups, such as Jews, atheists, protestants, etc, but these are a distinct minority.  While some Catholics may have left the faith, the decline is largely the result of an geographical exodus to neighboring Croatia.  Bishop Peric stated in April of this year:

"Croats have been endangered since the beginning of the [1992-95] war, through the Dayton [Peace Accords] up to now," said Peric. "We have been reduced to a half; there used to be up to 830,000 of us, and now there are 450,000. This figure is constantly decreasing."
The Datyon agreement following the war of 1992-1995 basically had the effect of what I will call "institutional genocide".  Rather than divvy up the country politically into three parts, the Serbs were given half, and the rest was divided between the Croats and Bosniaks.  It doesn't take a university degree to see that over time, any one group with that much control would have an effect on the lesser groups.  If half the voting power goes to one group, how likely is it that members of the other two groups will get elected? This has had an impact on what kind of curriculum is dominated in schools, on television and radio, etc (things that affect the thoughts of people). Young Croatians raising children want them exposed to their rich cultural heritage, such as Croatian literary and historical works. Add to this the potential for employment discrimination among the lesser groups makes it easier Croatians to leave for Croatia where these concerns are absent.

I learned quite a bit from another book I will recommend if you can find called, MANY PROBLEMS LIE AHEAD Persecution of Croats in Bosnia and Hercegovina by the Worlds' (sic) Powers Speeches, Conversations, Reviews and Letters 1997-2004.  It is a collection of speeches, conversations, letters, reviews, homilies, and letters by Bishop Ratko Peric.  While some Catholics disagree with him over his position on Medjugorje, most see him as a champion for Croatian rights in BiH, and rightly so.  The homilies presented in this book are profound which tell the plight of Croatian people during and after the war are well worth the read. He weaves the gospel and Catholic social teaching throughout. 

The Holy Father, with the BiH bishops, want to preserve Catholicism in that region.  Please pray for these bishops, including bishop-designate Semren, OFM in his new role. 

  • Post edited on July 20, 2010 with additional links and information not available when written.

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Saturday, July 17, 2010

Diocese of Peoria issues statement on case of professor fired for teaching Catholicism in a course on ... Catholicism

St. Peter's Square

What does the Catholic Church teach? Isn't that what a university course on Catholicism should offer?

For background, first read the story below from last week if you are unfamiliar with what happened at the University of Illinois to Professor Ken Howell, who was teaching elective courses on Catholicism.  One would think that if he is teaching an elective course on Catholicism - one of the world's major religions -  that he would be permitted to teach what the Catholic Church teaches, but as you will see, the University wasn't buying it. 

OK - here is background and latest...

It may seem strange that the Diocese of Peoria had not been heard from until now, but I think people should read it and give them the benefit of the doubt for not having spoken up sooner. 


Click and scroll to read the statement...

PR U of I - Howell 7-15-10

What is dangerous here, is that the University may indeed find a Catholic to teach a course on Catholicism.  But that Catholic may be malformed in the teachings of the faith, or present their view of the Catholic faith as opposed to what the Church actually teaches.  This is precisely what the University wants - someone who will teach a version of Catholicism which is inauthentic or incomplete. There is no doubt questions will come up on the hot topics of the day - abortion, contraception, homosexuality, euthanasia, etc.  These should be answered with the mind of the Church, not with the mind of those who have other ideas of what the Church should teach.  We get enough of this in the New York Times and the National Catholic Reporter.

Methinks, the University of Illinois (and many others) would prefer to have any Catholic who will teach the "NY Times version of Catholicism", the "anything goes" kind of Catholicism, and anything else that is not true Catholicism.  While the Church teaches that there are absolute truths, the University of Illinois will only be happy with presentation many "truths".   For this reason, I am glad that the Diocese of Peoria is interested in who will be teaching.  In the end, it should be Professor Howell, who was just doing his job.

I would ask the University of Illinois, and others in this situation: why bother to offer any course on Catholicism, or cover Catholicism world relgions courses if you want to sanitize the content of what Catholicism teaches? I can tell you that they won't not teach the course, because by putting a ringer in there as a teacher of the faith, who will not teach the Catholic faith, they can spread error in the name of the Catholicism.

It's the ultimate in censorship.  When a major world religion's teachings are at odds with popular culture, just sanitize the course according to your own whims.


I heard a great podcast of an interview that Professor Howell and his attorney had with Al Kresta this past week.  It came just before that statement above was released.  One of the things you will hear from callers is criticism of the Diocese of Peoria for it's silence, and for what is felt to be a lack of support in the face of this unjust persecution and discrimination by the University of Illinois.  However, you will hear repeatedly out of Dr. Howell a request for patience on this end, and that he believes he is supported by Bishop Jenky.  Here again, I think we should heed the wise advice of Dr. Howell. 
From the, Kresta in the Afternoon Archives for July 14, 2010:

First Topic – Fired for Presenting Church Teaching While Teaching a Class on the Catholic Church? (click here for link to July 14, 2010, 2nd hour audio))

Alliance Defense Fund attorneys have sent a letter to University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign officials on behalf of a popular, highly regarded professor who was fired for explaining the position of the Roman Catholic Church on human sexual behavior to members of his Introduction to Catholicism class. A university cannot censor professors’ speech--including classroom speech related to the topic of the class--merely because certain ideas ‘offend’ an anonymous student. Dr. Kenneth Howell, who had been teaching at the university since 2001, was relieved of his duties based in part on an anonymous complaint sent via e-mail to university officials. The e-mail was sent by the friend of an anonymous student who claimed to be “offended” by Howell. Ken joins us with his attorney, Jordan Lawrence.
Here are few opinion pieces and posts from around the web in the past week or so,  if you want to read more.

Also, since I do not have time to follow, or report on, every aspect of every story out there, do check daily with solid Catholic and pro-life news sources, portals, and bloggers known for hitting current events.  These include, but are not limited to the following:

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Friday, July 16, 2010

Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Today is a special day for all who wear the scapular, especially for Carmelites. It is the feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. From the Catholic Encyclopedia:

This feast was instituted by the Carmelites between 1376 and 1386 under the title "Commemoratio B. Marif Virg. duplex" to celebrate the victory of their order over its enemies EWTN's page on the Brown Scapular
on obtaining the approbation of its name and constitution from Honorius III on 30 Jan., 1226 (see Colvenerius, "Kal. Mar.", 30 Jan. "Summa Aurea", III, 737). The feast was assigned to 16 July, because on that date in 1251, according to Carmelite traditions, the scapular was given by the Blessed Virgin to St. Simon Stock; it was first approved by Sixtus V in 1587. After Cardinal Bellarmine had examined the Carmelite traditions in 1609, it was declared the patronal feast of the order.........
it was extended to the entire Latin Church by Benedict XIII. The lessons contain the legend of the scapular; the promise of the Sabbatine privilege was inserted into the lessons by Paul V about 1614. The Greeks of southern Italy and the Catholic Chaldeans have adopted this feast of the "Vestment of the Blessed Virgin Mary". The object of the feast is the special predilection of Mary for those who profess themselves her servants by wearing her scapular

Carmelite Items (move through the items with the two arrows; when you click on the one in the center, it will take you to that page at Amazon).

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Thursday, July 8, 2010

Bishop Thomas J. Tobin on Godparents...

Bishop Thomas J. Tobin has written a piece for godparents.  Actually, if you are a parent getting ready to choose a godparent, you will want to read this, as well. 

He talks first about Baptism, then he gets into requirements for godparents.  He discusses what godparents should be, and should not be.

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Holy See will have greater jurisdiction on certain kinds of investigations

This is long overdue. From CNA/EWTN News (emphases mine in bold)

Sins such as the attempted ordination of women to the priesthood and the "crimes against the faith" of heresy, schism and apostasy, that have until now been investigated by the CDF only on an extraordinary basis will fall under their official jurisdiction, thus clearing up any confusion as to where cases must be reported. In other words, it formalizes procedures that may have been followed in practice, but were never made official.

According to the July 8 Notimex report, possession and distribution of child pornography will also be declared "serious sins" and, in cases in which they have been found guilty in civil courts, perpetrators could be sentenced without a canonical trial.

The modifications should be promulgated in the coming days, bearing the signature of the prefect of the CDF, Cardinal William Levada [pictured, right], and accompanied by notes explaining the changes and the history of the legislation.

There was more...

Reports concur across the board that there will be changes in the process of trying priests who have sexually abused minors, and that there will be an increase in the statute of limitations in these cases from the current 10 years to 20 years after the victim turned 18 years old.

Go read: Vatican to clarify canonical procedure for attempted ordination of women at CNA/EWTN News

Phil Lawler discusses how the media will report on this issue in the coming days in, Advance warning: inaccurate news reports coming soon  at Catholic Culture.

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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Audio: Interview with Archbishop Burke on obedience...

Patrick Coffin, the host of Catholic Answers Live had an excellent interview with Archbishop Raymond L. Burke (a link to the audio location, and more, will be at the bottom).  The former Archbishop of St. Louis is now the Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, member of the Congregation for Bishops (since October of 2009), and newly appointed to the Congregation for Divine Worship... yesterday

This interview was pre-recorded and aired on Monday, July 5, 2010. I liked the fact that there were no calls on an interview of this type because it allowed for some real wholesome dialogue between Patrick and Archbishop Burke.  It was an excellent interview.

Main Topic: Obedience

Among the things discussed:
  • Is obedience something just for those who profess a vow or promise of obedience like religious, or priests?
  • What about obedience in imitation of Christ? The saints?
  • Obedience and the commandments; does obedience impact our ability to be chaste, or to practice the virtues?
  • Examination of conscience, and formation of conscience: Do we have to know what the Church teaches?
  • What is happening interiorly when we choose disobedience?
  • What impact did Catholic education and catechetics have with the changes that came about in the 60's and 70's?
Secondary Topic: Catholic Pols, Holy Communion and Canon 915

It only stands to reason that with the subject of obedience the discussion would flow nicely into the behavior of Catholic politicians whose legislative activities are supportive of abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem-cell work, etc.  Patrick and Archbishop Burke talk about the confusion there seems to be amongst the episcopacy on Canon 915.  There is some discussion about EMHC's and how they might handle the awkward position: Should they give Holy Communion to known Catholic pols who present themselves and are publicly at odds with the Church and giving scandal?  What ought they do in such a circumstance?

His Excellency also distinguishes between the different forms of excommunication, and other penalties.

Truly a great interview, and if I have one piece of feedback for Patrick Coffin, it's to have such an excellent - no-caller dialogue with other Church figures once or twice monthly.  It gave maximum air-time to the man of the hour  - in this case, Archbishop Burke.  Perhaps he can get Cardinal Oullet down the road after he settles into his new role. I mean, he's a fellow Canadian, eh!

Well done, Patrick!

The Audio, and more...

begins today, July 7, 2010

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