Friday, April 28, 2006

News from Rome on Blessed Mother Theodore Guerin

Today, Pope Benedict XVI authorized the Congregation of the Causes of Saints to promulgate several decrees regarding the causes of several holy men and women. Included among them was a decree verifying a second miracle attributed to the intercession of Blessed Mother Theodore Guerin, the 19th century foundress of the Sisters of Providence of Saint-Mary-of-the-Woods.

Go to this page on the Web site of The Criterion Online Edition to read a Vatican Information Service bulletin regarding the decrees.

Go here to read about an artist commissioned by the Sisters of Providence to create a six-foot statue of Blessed Mother Theodore who was baptized and received into the full communion of the Church at St. Margaret Mary Parish in Terre Haute on April 15 during the Easter Vigil.

Go here to read about a press conference held in February at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods about the progress in Blessed Mother Theodore's canonization Cause.

Go here to read about the miracle that is at the root of the pope's decree.

The Archdiocese of Indianapolis' Web site has this page with more information about Blessed Mother Theodore and her canonization Cause.

Bishop D'Arcy issues "Pastoral Response"

Shortly after University of Notre Dame president Holy Cross Father John L. Jenkins issued his "Closing Statement" in the months-long dialogue regarding the relationship between academic freedom and his Catholic college's religious identity, Bishop John D'Arcy of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend issued a brief response. It can be read here.

More recently, Bishop D'Arcy has issued a more lengthy "Pastoral Response" to Father Jenkins' Closing Statement. It can be found here.


My pastoral concern is not only because of the decision not to ban the play, but because of the rationale that accompanied the decision. It fails to give room to the great truths of the faith. The teaching of the church on sexuality, on academic freedom, on the relationship between a man and a woman and on the human body is hardly mentioned, except to admit that the play stands apart from, and is even opposed to, Catholic teaching. The truths of faith seem not to have been brought to bear on this decision. Is this an omission that will mark the future of such decisions for this school so blessed by Our Lady and by countless scholars and students over the years? I pray that it not be so; for that would, indeed, mark it as a mistake of historic proportions. As a shepherd with responsibility to Notre Dame, I must point out to her leaders that this judgment and the way it has been explained calls for further, more informed consideration.

Holy Cross Father Wilson Miscamble, an associate professor of history at the University of Notre Dame, has joined the list of other Notre Dame faculty members who have made public responses to Father Jenkins' Closing Statement. Father Miscamble's open letter to Father Jenkins can be found here.


You must know that in taking this decision you have brought most joy to those who care least about Notre Dame's Catholic mission. You have won for yourself a certain short-term popularity with some students and certain faculty but have done real damage to our beloved school and its distinct place in American higher education. By your decision you move us further along the dangerous path where we ape our secular peers and take all our signals from them. Knowing you and having conversed with you on matters relating to Notre Dame's Catholic mission in the past, I suspect that you recognize this in your own heart. Yet, you seemingly have let the possibility of some protest cause you to back off your own stated position. You were called to be courageous and you settled for being popular. This is not your best self. This is not genuine leadership.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Vatican and Condoms

The blogging world has been afire with news reports back and forth on the topic of a possible Vatican document regarding the use of condoms within a marriage for people who don't want to give AIDS to their spouse.

I haven't posted on it much because their simply isn't much to know. A document like this, based on a study now underway by theologians, would be entirely up to the pope in the end. Endless speculation and assumptions about what Humanae Vitae would say did immense damage to the Church in 1968 and beyond. Likewise, too much conjecture about a document like this and what it might mean and the direction it might point is almost entirely useless, especiall at this time.

Still, you can read a CNS story that I posted that is fairly balanced.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

More feedback on Fr. Jenkins' closing statement

Professor John Cavadini, chair of the Department of Theology at the University of Notre Dame, has issued his response to closing statement Holy Cross Father John Jenkins in the school's discussion on the relationship of academic freedom to its Catholic identity.

Professor Cavadini doesn't address the issue of future performances of The Vagina Monologues but rather the broader topic of the relationship of Notre Dame to the Church upon which, in his opinion, the discussion about academic freedom and Catholic identity is based. In his letter he expresses his concern that those participating in this increasingly public dialogue are forgetting this crucial aspect of it.

Its text can be found here, on the Web site of The Observer, an independent newspaper at Notre Dame and nearby Saint Mary College.


The President's statement, as a way of going forward, seems to ratify our unspoken declaration of independence from the Church, to permit it as the "default" mode of operation, and to invite the reduction of any model of the university which entails any explicit relationship to the magisterium of the Church as a "seminary" model (pace all intellectually rigorous seminary programs, including our own). This is to invite and to cultivate an intellectual tradition that is not moored to any ecclesial community or authority that could have a claim on defining that intellectual tradition. It is to invite and to cultivate an intellectual tradition in which "Catholic" is not normed by accountability to any incarnate, historical body but only to the disincarnate, a-historical church of the mind.

Fr. Jenkins' closing statement may have marked the end of his participation in this discussion. (Although one might hope that he would respond to some recent statement's by the school's faculty.) But it would seem that the discussion is going on...and on...and on.

...and on it would seem. Go here to read a letter to The Observer by Franciscan Father John Coughlin, a professor in Notre Dame's School of Law.


I think we ought to be honest and acknowledge that many, and perhaps most, members of the faculty are skeptical about the validity of Catholic truth claims based upon faith. Likewise, many would be suspicious about faith claims as proper participants in public discourse. Vatican II rightly urged that the Church be open to the world. The on-going dialogue continues to bear fruit for all the participants. It must be admitted, however, that the effects of the ensuing dialogue with secular culture have not always been beneficial to the life of the Church. When secular culture rather than the Church begins to serve as the primary formator, the effects are not likely to foster the gospel life. The Catholic intellectual life here at Note Dame has not been immune from the negative effects of the dialogue as it has transpired in the Church over the course of the last four decades. ...

Given the less than ideal state of Catholic intellectual life at Notre Dame, how might the president of the University respond? To be sure, he should not retreat from the dialogue as it was intended by Vatican II. Whoever the President of the University is at this perilous yet promising time, he would be well advised to come to terms with reality, drink deeply from the living fountain of faith and act with all in his power to strengthen Catholic intellectual life. Unfortunately, nowhere in his Closing Statement does Jenkins affirm that Catholic belief is necessarily normative within the Catholic intellectual community.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

More on academic freedom at Notre Dame

Last week Fr. John Jenkins, the president of the Universtiy of Notre Dame, issued his closing statement in the dialogue on academic freedom that he had initiated some months earlier on the northern Indiana campus.

This general topic had been focused a bit around issue of whether or not the play The Vagina Monologues should be performed at the Catholic university.

In his closing statement, Fr. Jenkins said that future productions of the play would be allowed on the campus provided that it happen in an academic context where Catholic teaching on human sexuality could also be presented.

This decision surprised some who have followed the story because Fr. Jenkins had previously expressed misgivings about the play because of it portrays human sexuality in ways that run counter to the Church's teaching on this topic.

In the days following the issuing of Fr. Jenkins' closing statement, David Solomon, a professor of philosophy at Notre Dame, wrote this op-ed piece in The Wall Street Journal.


Although Father Jenkins called his announcement the "Closing Statement," the debate is unlikely to go away. More is at stake than the fairly standard, indeed humdrum, questions about "censorship" and "free speech" on campus. To some of us--and I speak as a Notre Dame professor--Father Jenkins's decision is one more step in a long process of secularization: It has already radically changed the major Protestant universities in this country; it is now proceeding apace at the Catholic ones.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Our Lady of Fatima Retreat House

I went for a walk with a bird on March 22 at Our Lady of Fatima Retreat House in Indianapolis.

During a break from a Lenten day of reflection presented by Msgr. Paul Koetter, pastor of St. Monica Parish in Indianapolis, I went outside to enjoy the beautiful retreat center grounds and pray on the prayer labyrinth.

Several inches of snow covered the ground, and sunshine sparkled on the ice crystals. Birdsong served as a reminder that spring was just around the corner.

A robin who probably thought he had migrated north too soon landed on the sidewalk, which had just been shoveled, and walked a few feet ahead of me all the way around the exterior of the retreat center chapel and over to the prayer labyrinth. It was fun to watch him hop along the path on his little bird feet. He didn't seem at all concerned that I was just a few feet away from him.

Our Lady of Fatima Retreat House offers a variety of spiritual retreats on weekends and days of reflection on weekdays at 5353 E. 56th St. in Indianapolis. For more information about their retreat program schedule, call 317-545-7681 or log on to their Web site at

I hope you will make time for a spiritual retreat there sometime this year. Maybe you will even have a chance to go for a walk with a bird.

New Priests for Life blog

If you like to read blogs, check out Father Frank Pavone's new pro-life blog on the Priests for Life Web site. Here's his invitation to visit the site.

I have started a blog! Please stop in at

I hope you also will decide to participate in an archdiocesan Helpers of God's Precious Infants Mass and rosary on the third Saturday of the month. Due to the Easter Triduum, the next Mass is scheduled on May 19 then every third Saturday throughout the year.

St. Michael the Archangel Church, 3354 W. 30th St., Indianapolis. Helpers of God's Precious Infants monthly pro-life ministry, Mass for Life by archdiocesan Office for Pro-Life Ministry, 8:30 a.m., drive to Clinic for Women (abortion clinic), 3607 W. 16th St., Indianapolis, for rosary, return to church for Benediction.

If you would like to participate in pro-life volunteer projects, call Servants of the Gospel of Life Sister Diane Carollo, director of the archdiocesan Office for Pro-Life Ministry, at 317-236-1521 or 800-382-9836, extension 1521, for information about Birthline, Project Rachel, the Gabriel Project and other ways you can help work to end the culture of death in secular society.

For more information about a variety of pro-life issues, log on to the Human Life International Web site at (you can also register for their e-mail newsletter) and the Priests for Life Web site at

And thanks for all that you do through prayer and service to help save the lives of preborn babies.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Immigration Rally

An estimated 15,000 people marched from St. Mary Church in downtown Indianapolis on April 10 to the City-County Building as part of protests around the nation to mark a "Day of Action for Immigrant Justice."

See photos of the event here. A story, especially regarding Catholic involvement in the rally, will be coming in an upcoming issue of The Criterion.

Compendium of the Catechism released

The English translation of the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church was released on March 31. You can purchase it through the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops or at (for cheaper, I might add).

A much shorter version of the full Catechism, this paperback is composed of 598 questions about the faith that each have answers that average 2-4 sentences -- extremely compact, concise, clear and accurate answers about what we believe as Catholics. It really is a special gift to be able to simply explain concepts that "unpacked" could be studied for a lifetime. I'll give you an example:

53. Why was the world created?
The world was created for the glory of God who wished to show forth and communicate his goodness, truth and beauty. The ultimate end of creation is that God, in Christ, might be "all in all" (1 Corinthians 15:28) for his glory and our happiness.

The Compendium also makes use of full-color sacred art from across the history of the Church, as has a list of common prayers in the back that are in both English and Latin.

I would recommend that every Catholic household -- especially those with children -- get a copy. The Catechism was called a "gift" to the Church when it was published more than a decade ago -- and this is another such gift.

(Note: This is our 100th post on this blog, and I'm pleased that it could be about something as wonderful as this new Compendium.)

The "Gospel" of Judas

Posted on Friday was this story from Catholic News Service: Found 'Gospel of Judas' paints alternate portrait of Jesus' betrayer

This is, of course, a story that has been thrown about in the secular media for several days now. Taken from the CNS story:

The document, a third-century Coptic translation of what had originally been written in Greek before 180 A.D., paints Judas in a more sympathetic light than his well-known role as Jesus' betrayer in the canonical Gospels.

In it, Jesus said Judas would "exceed all" of the other disciples, "for you will sacrifice the man that clothes me" -- a reference to Judas' impending betrayal of Jesus. It is also an allusion to gnostic belief that held the spirit in higher esteem than the body, and that, through the liberation of Jesus' body, his spirit would be freed.

The Gospel of Judas was mentioned in a book condemning heresies that was written by St. Irenaeus, bishop of Lyon, France, in 180 A.D.

A news brief from the same day deals bluntly with the find:

The Gospel of Judas was unimportant to most Christians when it was written hundreds of years ago and it is unimportant today, said a Jesuit professor who has convoked a series of ecumenical studies of the historical Jesus. Jesuit Father Gerald O'Collins, a longtime professor of Christology at Rome's Pontifical Gregorian University, said the text, like the gospels of Mary Magdalene and Philip, "does not merit the name 'Gospel.'"

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Bishop D'Arcy on "The Vagina Monologues" at Notre Dame

Bishop John M. D'Arcy is the leader of the Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese, in which sits the University of Notre Dame. He issued the following statement yesterday regarding Notre Dame president Holy Cross Father John Jenkins' announcement that the play The Vagina Monologues would continue to be allowed to be performed on the school's campus:

As pastor of the diocese with the sacred responsibility for the care of souls of all our people, including the young men and women at the University of Notre Dame, and with pastoral concern always for the Catholic identity of Notre Dame, as is my obligation, I am deeply saddened by the decision of Father John Jenkins, CSC, to allow the continuing sponsorship of the Vagina Monologues by Notre Dame, the School of Our Lady.

For further understanding of my position on this matter, I refer all to my statement found in the February 12, 2006 issue of Today’s Catholic, and in my statements of the previous two years. All these statements may be found on the diocesan website.

Go here to read Bishop D'Arcy's column on the play in question.

Go here to read Bishop D'Arcy's Feb. 13, 2005 statement regarding Notre Dame's "Queer Film Festival."

Go here to read Bishop D'Arcy's Feb. 14, 2004 statement regarding the performacy of The Vagina Monologues at Notre Dame.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Catholic identity and academic freedom

The relationship between these two concepts have been much discussed over the past several weeks on the campus of the University of Notre Dame. The discussion began with a series of addresses on it given by Holy Cross Father John L. Jenkins, the school's president (go here to read the address given to Notre Dame's faculty).

Father Jenkins has now given his closing statement in the discussion. It is a statement in which he lays out principles on how topics that conflict with Catholic teaching will be discussed in a public forum on the campus in a way that promotes a substantive engagement of those who hold the contrary view with the Church.

In particular, Father Jenkins addressed future performances on the campus of the play The Vagina Monologues, which he characterized as promoting "portrayals of sexuality [that] stand apart from, and indeed in opposition to, Catholic teaching on human sexuality." He said that future performances would be allowed but must happen in the context of a broad discussion of human sexuality, a discussion that must include the Catholic perspective on this topic.


Some of the individuals I’ve talked with are adamantly opposed to the performance or expression on campus of a work, play, book, or speech that contradicts Catholic teaching. To them, we must say, with all respect: "This is a Catholic university." We are committed to a wide-open, unconstrained search for truth, and we are convinced that Catholic teaching has nothing to fear from engaging the wider culture.

Others I talked to were appalled that we would raise any question about the content, message, or implications of a work of art, drama, or literature here on campus. To them, we have to say, with the same respect: "This is a Catholic university." It is founded upon our belief that love of God and neighbor are eternal teachings that give context and meaning to our search for truth. As I said, Catholic teaching has nothing to fear from engaging the wider culture, but we all have something to fear if the wider culture never engages Catholic teaching. That is why the Catholic tradition must not only inspire our worship and our service on campus; it should help shape the intellectual life of the university. Our goal is not to limit discussion or inquiry, but to enrich it; it is not to insulate that faith tradition from criticism, but to foster constructive engagement with critics.

(emphasis in original)

Marian image in Moline

In leafing through the online editions of the newspapers of our neighboring dioceses, I could help but stop at this gem: Marian image in Moline draws crowds

Since most of my wife's family is from the Moline (Quad Cities) area, I had to stop and give it a look. I know of at least one time in the past year when there were rumors of a Marian image at an underpass, so it gave me even more reason.

I should clarify that I have no doubts that Mary appeared at Fatima and Lourdes, and that she very well may be casting her image in Moline for the edification of the faithful -- but I can't help but have a knee-jerk chuckle reaction to these stories. I probably shouldn't have such a reaction, because the people that find the images of Mary on trees or Jesus in a tortilla are among the simplest and most earnest souls in the world (people whose childlike faith and love will probably put them in heaven far ahead of me).

And sure enough, look who found the image in this story:

The first to notice such an image was Abraham Handel, the 5-year-old son of Larry and Andrea Handel, members of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in nearby Silvis.

On the night of March 17, the Handels were at the riverfront to find a piece of driftwood to adorn a box for a newly purchased pet turtle. As Larry Handel went to the river, Abraham -- who was wearing a parish sweatshirt with the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe as he sat in the car -- exclaimed to his mother: "Look at that lady, she looks like the one on my shirt."

Mrs. Handel also saw the image on the bridge pillar, and told her husband.

"I said 'Mother Mary,'" recalled Mr. Handel to The Catholic Post on Tuesday. "I could see her, too."

The story also says that the spot has become a place of prayer and popularity:

A front page story and photo in the Moline Dispatch on Saturday, March 25, resulted in hundreds of onlookers that evening. Television coverage and more news stories followed, with others saying they, too, saw what appeared to be Mary in the oval glow.

Keeping your kids Catholic

This article, which centers around a presentation given by Marcellino D'Ambrosio, appeared in the Catholic Explorer of the Diocese of Joliet, Ill.: Theologian urges Kankakee faithful to keep kids Catholic

Among his advice:

Describing a technique that he and his wife, Susan, have employed in their home over the years to help their children “bond with the church,” D’Ambrosio encouraged the parents gathered to regularly invite clergymen, religious sisters or “any adults who are really living their faith” into their homes for dinner. The examples of people totally devoted to the faith underscores the goodness of the Catholic Church, he said. In the meantime, witnessing the lives of these individuals and their inspirational deeds could stir the young people to pursue religious vocations in the future. He revealed that his two eldest sons are currently pondering the notion of pursuing the priesthood.

Meanwhile, he suggested that parents and others surround their children with books and movies that explore the themes of right and wrong. He cited “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy and “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” as prime examples of current films that emphasize the triumphs of good over evil. “There is so much doctrine in those movies.” Offering spiritually charged musical selections is also an established method for grabbing the interest of young people at Masses, he added.

Good advice -- though I don't have any young ones yet, it's simple things like dinner with friends and good books that really help to keep my faith alive (outside of the sacraments, of course).

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

India remembers Pope John Paul II

This article posted at the Web site of the Union of Catholic Asian News tells of the various ways that the first anniversary of the death of Pope John Paul II was observed in India. This is interesting in light of the fact that in recent years, more and more pressure has been put on Catholics and other Christians in India by some Hindu organizations.


NEW DELHI (UCAN) -- The unveiling of a bronze bust of Pope John Paul II in New Delhi was among the programs organized across India April 2 to observe the pope's first death anniversary.

Federal ministers, and Church and social leaders were among 500 invited guests at a New Delhi event organized by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI), Catholic Relief Services (CRS), and Civil and Human Relations, an NGO. The function also marked 60 years of CRS, the overseas development organization of the U.S. Catholic Church, in India.

In churches across the country, Catholics remembered the late pope at Sunday Mass, while some dioceses also organized seminars and programs to mark the day, said Father Babu Joseph, spokesperson of the bishops' conference. Memorial Eucharistic services were held.

"The overwhelming secular response" to the pope's death anniversary testified to the fact that his "immense influence" was not limited to just Catholics, the Divine Word priest said.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Youth trip to Biloxi

Right now more than 100 youth from around the archdiocese are participating in a weeklong spring break mission trip to Biloxi, MS, to help rebuild the area devastated by Hurricane Katrina -- and they are going with help from the funds that the archdiocese collected last year for relief efforts.

One of the chaperones on the trip -- Katie Berger -- also does freelance work for The Criterion and is sending back photos and news (and possibly video) each day that is being posted on our special blog devoted to the trip:

Be sure to check it out -- these young people are making a significant sacrifice to help people who need it.