"It is...Our will that Catholics should abstain from certain appellations which have recently been brought into use to distinguish one group of Catholics from another. They are to be avoided not only as 'profane novelties of words,' out of harmony with both truth and justice, but also because they give rise to great trouble and confusion among Catholics. Such is the nature of Catholicism that it does not admit of more or less, but must be held as a whole or as a whole rejected: 'This is the Catholic faith, which unless a man believe faithfully and firmly; he cannot be saved' (Athanasian Creed). There is no need of adding any qualifying terms to the profession of Catholicism: it is quite enough for each one to proclaim 'Christian is my name and Catholic my surname,' only let him endeavour to be in reality what he calls himself." -- Pope Benedict XV, Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum 24 (1914)

Monday, January 30, 2012

How Bishop Bruskewitz Built Up the Church on the Plains (3095)

The longtime shepherd reflects on his 20 years as bishop of Lincoln, Nebraska. He also recounts his friendship with John Paul II and the Church’s role in the culture.

 01/26/2012 Comments (13)
Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz refers to his ecclesiastical jurisdiction as “our little diocese on the plains.” But its appearance — to some — as a remote, largely rural backwater is deceptive.

Bishop Bruskewitz, 76, will soon celebrate his 20th anniversary as bishop of Lincoln, Neb. His reputation for outspokenness in defending the faith, both in his public statements and in policies implemented in his diocese, is well known. He and his relatively small diocese of 100,000 Catholics made national news in 1996, when he decreed that various groups at odds with Catholic teaching or in opposition to Church authority had automatically excommunicated themselves from the Church.  These included members of the groups Call to Action, Planned Parenthood and Catholics for a Free Choice, the Hemlock Society, Freemasons and the Society of St. Pius X. 

Bishop Bruskewitz grew up in a devout Catholic home in Milwaukee, the son of a grocer. Daily Mass, family Rosary, regular prayers, Catholic schools, sacramentals and regular visits to his home by priests and religious were all part of his upbringing. His only sibling became a nun.

He entered the seminary and was ordained a priest in 1960. He spent the next decade working in the Milwaukee Archdiocese, and then worked in the Congregation for Catholic Education in Rome from 1969 to 1980.  He returned to serve in his diocese and was named bishop of Lincoln in 1992.
He recently spoke about his diocese, the priesthood and his role as a bishop.

Tell me about the Diocese of Lincoln.
It is a stable and wonderful diocese. Much of it is made up of small towns and rural areas, although Lincoln is the state capital and has a mix of businesses and the University of Nebraska.

Thank God, we have no diocesan debts, nor have we had problems with lawsuits with which other dioceses have struggled. We have a splendid clergy, and our religious life is flourishing.  We have had many vocations, more than is adequate for a diocese of our size. In the last 20 years, I’ve ordained 67 priests for Lincoln and another 20 or 30 for other dioceses or religious orders.

We have 38 seminarians studying for the priesthood. I’ve had the joy of constructing St. Gregory the Great Seminary, a college seminary, which opened 12 years ago. It instructs not only our students, but those from six other dioceses.

I invited and was pleased to welcome the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, a community of apostolic life dedicated to preserving the memory and practice of the extraordinary form of the Roman rite. 

Our diocese is home to the Fraternity’s Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary. They have more young men applying to be seminarians than there is space available for them.

I also invited and was pleased to welcome a community of cloistered Carmelite sisters who pray for us constantly. We also have the Holy Spirit Adoration Sisters who pray constantly before Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. The sisters’ prayers have brought us many spiritual blessings.

We have a well-educated and zealous laity, and I’ve had the pleasure to form five new parishes and four new schools to serve them.

Our little diocese on the plains is doing well.

What was it like as a young priest in the 1960s?
It was a turbulent time. The ’60s began with much optimism within the Catholic community in the United States, especially since the first Catholic president, John F. Kennedy, was elected.  We were also upbeat about the opening of the Second Vatican Council.

Unfortunately, as the ’60s progressed, a sort of “para-Council” developed around the Second Vatican Council that promoted a misinterpretation of its teachings. Its ideas were hijacked, pulled out of context and distorted. As Pope Benedict himself said, there was not a hermeneutic of continuity, but a hermeneutic of rupture. That was not what the council fathers intended.

There was much turbulence outside the Church as well. There was great commotion due to such things as the civil rights movement and the Vietnam War. The Church is incarnate, immersed in the culture, so upheaval had a resonance within the Church. Dissent from Catholic doctrine, especially in regard to sexuality and human-life issues, became rampant. There were vast numbers of defections from the priesthood and religious life. There was a cultural crisis that helped lead to an internal crisis in the Church.

You’re frequently described as a “conservative” bishop. Is this an accurate label?
Pope Paul VI said that Catholics are “conservative” because it is the mission of the Church to conserve unmutilated, undiluted and unpolluted the message of Christ. We must keep this message alive and proclaim the Good News of Christ to the world. In that sense, Catholics are inherently conservative.

That doesn’t mean we’re ultraconservative or closed to new ideas. New ideas, innovation and creativity have their role, so long as they’re placed in the proper perspective and introduced in the right way. I like what Chesterton said: To be conservative means that you simply inquire why the fence was put up before you knock it down.

Most bishops in the United States haven’t publicized decrees of excommunication. What led you to publicize decrees of excommunication in 1996?
That year I became more famous than I ever intended or wished to be. I issued the decree to clarify that one cannot be a loyal Catholic and a member of certain organizations. Call to Action, for example, advocates homosexual “marriage” and other distortions of Catholic teaching. I said that Catholics had a certain time to withdraw from such organizations or face canonical penalties.
It hit the national news, and I was interviewed for radio and television programs, such as The Today Show. The reaction I received was overwhelmingly favorable. I received about 50,000 letters of support, versus about 300 negative letters. I’d come home, and I could hardly get into my house, because supporters had sent me bouquets of flowers and baskets of fruit that arrived on my doorstep. Our diocese received a half-million dollars in donations.
Many bishops privately offered me their support. Some were astonished, but many said what I did was great, even if it wouldn’t work in their part of the world. I never intended it to be an example to others. It was part of my job as shepherd and chief pastor of Lincoln.

I believe we sometimes have to take steps to move beyond the intellect to motivate the will. Sin is not in the intellect, but the will. We do have to inform people about Church teaching, but once that is done, some choose to be willfully sinful. A great lawyer can know the law but still be a criminal. People can know what is right but do wrong. So, in regards to the excommunications, I believed I had to do something. Sometimes action must be taken.

What issues are you concerned about as the presidential election approaches?
I share the concerns of the other bishops of the United States about religious freedom.  
Governments, particularly the federal government, are ignoring conscience clauses in their legal actions. We object to, for example, federal regulations that mandate that employer health-insurance plans provide coverage for contraception and abortion. The federal government is also hampering the work of Catholic Relief Services abroad, when it says it cannot participate in any federal activities because they don’t force “full reproductive services,” such as abortion and contraception, on people in other parts of the world.

It’s alarming and scary and contrary to what Our Lord wants us to do.

Which Catholics are your personal heroes?
Many are in the hierarchy of the Church. I had the good fortune to work with four popes, each of whom is a hero of mine. Karol Wojtyla, who went on to become Blessed Pope John Paul II, was an especially dear friend.

He was profound, quiet and a great listener, but also had a mischievous sense of humor that made him delightful to be with. He also endured many hardships, but you’d never know by his external appearance. He was the type of man, as Chesterton said, who “wore crimson and gold on the outside and on the inside a hair shirt.” He made two of my priests, Fathers [Robert] Vasa and [Thomas] Olmsted, bishops.

I also admire many cardinals, including Cardinals William Baum, John O’Connor and William Levada, who preached at my episcopal consecration. Blessed Teresa of Calcutta was inspiring to meet; I also admire Mother Angelica. She invited me to appear on EWTN, and I’ve also served as retreat master for the Franciscan Friars.

Are there any devotions you recommend to the faithful?
A deep participation in the liturgy is most important. I also recommend reading sacred Scripture along with a good Catholic commentary.

Marian devotion, particularly the holy Rosary, leads us closer to Christ. Blessed John Paul II’s favorite prayer was the Rosary, which astonished many people. He was a brilliant man with a double doctorate, had an exceptional IQ and could speak 27 languages. Yet his favorite prayer was the Rosary, which he called “the school of Mary.”

I also recommend good spiritual reading. When I was a young lad, we read Chesterton and Belloc. It led us to other kinds of spiritual reading, such as The Imitation of Christ. The materialism and hedonism of our culture will drown us if we don’t make a life raft out of these kinds of Catholic activities.

What are your plans for retirement?
I plan to keep a hand in things. My mind is still good, and I can still make a contribution. I also have a rocking chair and two hunting dogs waiting for me.

Register staff writer Jim Graves writes from Newport Beach, California.

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/how-bishop-bruskewitz-built-up-the-church-on-the-plains#ixzz1kweZbTo0

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Year of Faith is Pope's response to 'profound crisis'

By Benjamin Mann

Pope Benedict XVI. Credit: Mazur

The upcoming 2012-2013 “Year of Faith” seeks to awaken humanity at a critical moment, Pope Benedict XVI said as he addressed the Church's highest doctrinal office on Jan. 27.

“In vast areas of the earth the faith risks being extinguished, like a flame without fuel,” the Pope told assembled members of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, who met in a plenary session on Friday.

“We are facing a profound crisis of faith, a loss of a religious sense which represents one of the greatest challenges for the Church today.”

Pope Benedict hopes the Year of Faith, which will run from Oct. 11, 2012 to Nov. 24, 2013, will contribute “to restoring God's presence in this world, and to giving man access to the faith, enabling him to entrust himself to the God who, in Jesus Christ, loved us to the end.”

“The renewal of faith,” the Pope announced, “must, then, be a priority for the entire Church in our time.”

His remarks to the doctrinal congregation came two days after the feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul, the final day of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

The Pope spoke about the quest to reunite all Christians, as he acknowledged that ecumenical efforts had not always served to strengthen believers' faith.

Along with the “many good fruits that have emerged from ecumenical dialogue,” there are also “risks of indifference and of false irenicism” – which give the appearance of unity, without regard for truth.

In today's world, the Pope observed, there is an “increasingly widespread” perception “that truth is not accessible to man, and that, therefore, we must limit ourselves to finding rules to improve this world.”

“In this scenario,” he noted, “faith comes to be replaced by a shallow-rooted moralism,” which can cause the dialogue between Christian groups to become superficial.

“By contrast, the core of true ecumenism is faith, in which man encounters the truth revealed in the Word of God.”

Pope Benedict told officials of the doctrine congregation, the office he led before his election to the papacy, that controversial issues cannot be downplayed or ignored in talks between the Catholic Church and other Christian churches and communities.

Matters of faith and morals, he said, “must be faced courageously, while always maintaining a spirit of fraternity and mutual respect …  In our dialogues we cannot overlook the great moral questions about human life, the family, sexuality, bioethics, freedom, justice and peace.”

By defending the Church's authentic tradition, he observed, “we defend man and we defend the creation.”

Read more: http://www.ewtnnews.com/catholic-news/Vatican.php?id=4750#ixzz1kmoXz7uk
Dolan: Natural law, not religious preference, dictates all life sacred

Cardinal-designate Dolan at last November's U.S. bishops' meeting. (CNS/Nancy Phelan Wiechec)
By Beth Griffin
Catholic News Service

NEW YORK (CNS) -- Natural law is a concept of objective truth, not religious preference, and reliance on natural law and human rights will move the culture and its laws in the direction of authentic respect for human life, Cardinal-designate Timothy M. Dolan of New York said in an address Jan. 24.

Cardinal-designate Dolan, speaking on "Law & the Gospel of Life," gave the inaugural talk in a lecture series sponsored by the Institute on Religion, Law and Lawyers' Work at Jesuit-run Fordham University School of Law.

"Our society has caricatured natural law as some medieval tool the church is using to justify its own unique and antiquated system of teaching. Of course, the opposite is true," he said. "Natural law theory is not uniquely Catholic, it's human.

"Some of the greatest exponents of the natural law, like Aristotle and Cicero, never heard of the Catholic Church. These things we teach are not true because they happen to be taught by the church. We teach them because they happen to be true. Their truth antedates the church."

According to Cardinal-designate Dolan, the most effective way to engage in conversations about human life with people who disagree with the Church's position is to "untether" discussions of natural law "from what might be thought of as unique Catholic confessionalism" and reference the writings of non-Catholic authors. "It's not a Catholic thing. It's a natural thing. It's a human thing."

Cardinal-designate Dolan said Blessed John Paul II's encyclical "Evangelium Vitae," described the culture of death as one that denies the basic solidarity inherent in the human person, is obsessed with efficiency and convenience, and wages a war of the powerful against the weak.

"Can sustained human rights, girded by law, survive in such a culture?" Cardinal-designate Dolan asked. "The pragmatic, utilitarian world view depends upon sand to construct a system of laws protecting human rights, particularly that of life itself, since everything is constantly being re-negotiated, based on drifting dunes of utility, convenience, privacy, and self-interest."

Cardinal-designate Dolan said, "It is a bedrock feature of modern political and legal theory that only neutral, utilitarian principles can provide a basis for public policy discussions and law, and that appeals to transcendent values, such as religion, cannot legitimately be presented."

"The Gospel of life proposes an alternative vision of law and culture, one that provides an antidote to the pragmatic nihilism that produces a culture of death. It seeks to recapture the essential relationship between the civil law and the moral law, and to foster a culture in which all human life is valued and authentic human development is possible."

Cardinal-designate Dolan said, "The Gospel of life calls us specifically to offer a clear, faith-based view of humanity as a basis for human law. As Christians, we propose that truth can only be known and freedom truly exercised by recognizing that they are a gift from God."

He said an important proposition of the Gospel of life is "that the dignity of the human person and respect for inviolable human rights are not just based on divine revelation, but on 'an objective moral law which, as the 'natural law' written in the human heart, is the obligatory point of reference for civil law itself.'"

Cardinal-designate Dolan said, "A reliance on the natural law, and human rights, will enable us to move the culture, and thus our laws, in the direction of authentic respect for human life. It will be a gradual, incremental process ... and require compromise and acceptance of intermediary steps."

He described pragmatism, utilitarianism and consumerism as a trinity of related culprits that chisel away at the culture of life and "seem to be ascendant in culture and normative in making laws."

Cardinal-designate Dolan said, "A baby is useless and impractical from a raw, pragmatic, utilitarian or consumerist view" and is seen by some in the culture of death "as a commodity, an accessory. We have babies, if at all, to satisfy our desires, not to sacrifice for theirs; to fulfill our needs, not to invite us to spend the rest of our lives fulfilling their needs; to reward us, not because we want to give to them."

"To this culture of death, the church boldly and joyfully promotes the culture of life," he said.

Cardinal-designate Dolan said people can promote the culture of life by living, speaking and teaching the truth in love. "Usually, we will attract more people by the compelling nature of our love and, in the end, that will be what most hypnotizes and magnetizes people."

In a response to Cardinal-designate Dolan's address, Jacqueline Nolan-Haley, a Fordham law professor, said the Gospel of life "is pulling us to bring greater morality and justice to civil law."

Monica McDaniel, a 2009 Fordham Law graduate and associate at the White & Case firm, said the culture of death has infiltrated private practice and law schools, both secular and Catholic. "Law schools, many nonprofit human rights organizations and the pro bono departments of many law firms are generally confused about human rights because they lack the sound ethical philosophy of the natural law."

She said "pro-abortion" initiatives dominate the pro bono departments of virtually all major law firms because pro-life lawyers are silent. She encouraged fellow young lawyers to spread the Gospel of life one-on-one, challenge people who make dubious claims and oppose unethical practices.


Bishop Daniel Jenky, Peoria - Courageous

Bishop blasts secularist intolerance, calls for ‘assertive action’ to defend ChurchRSSFacebookJanuary 27, 2012

Noting that “American Catholics have in recent decades become remarkably passive even in the face of relentless hostility from the media, the entertainment industry, and now from some politicians,” Bishop Daniel Jenky of Peoria has issued a pastoral letter on secularism.
The letter, issued on January 8, received a wider audience when it was published in the January 26 issue of Origins.
“The Catholic Diocese of Peoria now exists in a political reality that is increasingly secular in outlook and today is often specifically hostile to the convictions of our Faith,” the bishop wrote. “Atheists and secularists have long realized that the Church of Rome is perhaps the largest single institution that still stands in the way of a completely secularized society. In Illinois where politics are notoriously corrupt and whose governmental agenda is so singularly ineffective, intrenched political power happens to be concentrated in a single region that for generations has been immune to reform. This situation has given determined special interest groups a unique opportunity to impose their views on everyone else as they endeavor to exclude faith from any role in the public forum.”
Bishop Jenky continued:
As your Bishop, I now believe it is critically necessary to raise an alarm among the faithful regarding growing threats to our religious freedom due to theincreasing steps toward radical secularization taking place in Illinois. Beside the abrupt exclusion of Catholic Charities from childcare and adoption services and increasing attempts to intimidate Catholic healthcare, I am also concerned about possible future moves that could be made against the independence of our Catholic schools and other public ministries of our Diocese. Eventually it may come to pass that our fidelity to the Gospel of Christ and to Catholic tradition may place us in direct conflict with recent legal definitions of the State of Illinois. There are certainly some in our state whose commitment to [atheistic] secularism is so intense that they may well try to restrict the Church’s role only to the sacristy and sanctuary.
I am especially scandalized by some “Catholic” politicians who willingly collaborate with efforts to restrict the civil liberty of the faith tradition from which they were originally sprung. Many of those in office who were taught to read and write in Catholic schools, now seem entirely indifferent to the consciences of those Catholics who live their faith. On Ash Wednesday, they like to be conspicuous with crosses on their foreheads, but the true Cross of Christ seems far from their hearts and minds. They enjoy parties on March the 17th and wearing green sweaters but in effect are ashamed of Saint Patrick’s unwavering zeal for the Catholic Christianity. They like photo opportunities with the hierarchy, but break their word to them without a moment’s hesitation. They may still use the rituals of Catholicism to mark their happy and sad occasions, but apparently would sell their soul for a vote or a dollar. What does it benefit a person to gain the whole world but lose their soul (Mark 8:36), but eternal loss for the sake of public office in Illinois is an extraordinarily foolish deal with the devil. Such people certainly need our prayers, but they should no longer be able to take our friendship or our support for granted …
Even when our institutions are attacked and our most sacred beliefs held up for scorn, many Catholics sadly remain silent. As your Bishop, it is therefore my duty before God to call faithful Catholics into more assertive action in defense of our religion and those public ministries which we hold to be the work of Christ.
“Loyal believers are called upon not only to defend the Faith but even to defend the very concept of faith in the face of aggressive secularism and increasingly intolerant atheism,” Bishop Jenky concluded. “It now seems to be the unbelievers who apparently hope to initiate some new kind of inquisition designed to entirely exclude God from the public forum. In the face of growing hostility, practicing Catholics need to recognize that the choices we make and the witness we either offer or withhold will have both temporal and eternal consequences for each one of us. Christ the Lord has promised that the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church he founded on the rock of Peter’s faith (Matthew 16:1), but he also warned that at the end of time he will deny those who deny him (cf. Matthew 10:33).”
“Catholicism is filled with enormous spiritual richness, a cohesive intellectual tradition, and a remarkable commitment to charity and service. It is the Faith for which we should be ready and willing to give our hearts and even to offer up our lives. It is also the Faith by which we all certainly will be judged before the throne of Almighty God.”

Contraception mandate prompts Peoria bishop to instate St. Michael Prayer

By Kevin J. Jones

St. Michael the Archangel and Bishop Daniel Jenky

Bishop Daniel Jenky of Peoria, Ill. has asked parishes, schools, hospitals and religious houses to insert the Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel into the intercessions at Sunday Mass to pray for Catholics’ freedom.

The move comes in response to a new federal requirement that will force many Catholic organizations to provide insurance coverage for sterilizations and contraceptives.

“It is God’s invincible Archangel who commands the heavenly host, and it is the enemies of God who will ultimately be defeated,” the bishop said in a Jan. 24 letter to the Catholics of his diocese.

The prayer should take place in the general intercessions before the concluding prayer, Bishop Jenky said. He asked that the intention of the prayer be announced as “for the freedom of the Catholic Church in America.”

The St. Michael prayer was authored by Pope Leo XIII, and was once commonly said in U.S. Catholic parishes as part of a petition for the freedom of Soviet Russia.

He said it is his duty to summon the local Church into “spiritual and temporal combat in defense of Catholic Christianity.”
“If these regulations are put into effect, they could close down every Catholic school, hospital and the other public ministries of our Church, which is perhaps their underlying intention,” Bishop Jenky said. “What is perfectly clear is that this is a bigoted and blanket attack on the First Amendment rights of every Catholic believer.”

Bishop Jenky’s comments add to the continued reaction to the Department of Health and Human Services ruling that requires insurance coverage of procedures which Catholic teaching recognizes as sinful. The rule’s narrow religious exemptions only include institutions which hire or serve their fellow believers and have the inculcation of religious values as a primary purpose.

The requirement will make it impossible for Catholic institutions to continue to offer health care coverage for their employees, the Diocese of Peoria said. The institutions could be forced to drop healthcare coverage for employees because of their moral and religious objections.

Bishop Jenky stated that the president does not have the authority under the U.S. Constitution to “require our cooperation with what we consider to be intrinsic evil and mortal sin.”

“I am honestly horrified that the nation I have always loved has come to this hateful and radical step in religious intolerance.”

The bishop pledged that the Church will never abandon its commitment to the Gospel of Life and called on the faithful to “vigorously” oppose what he called an “unprecedented governmental assault upon the moral convictions of our faith.”
Bishop Jenky also struck an encouraging note.

“Have faith! Have courage! Fight boldly for what you believe!” he said. “I strongly urge you not to be intimidated by extremist politicians or the malice of the cultural secularists arrayed against us.”

Invoking the First Letter of John, he said Catholics should always remember that “the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”

Read more: http://www.ewtnnews.com/catholic-news/US.php?id=4749#ixzz1klawAaV0