Thursday, June 29, 2006

Plenary Indulgence for World Meeting of Families

This from the Vatican Information Service yesterday:

VATICAN CITY, JUN 28, 2006 (VIS) - For the occasion of the Fifth World Meeting of Families, due to be held in Valencia, Spain from July 1 to 9, Benedict XVI will concede Plenary Indulgence to those faithful who participate in any of the associated celebrations and in the closing ceremony, according to a decree from the Apostolic Penitentiary made public yesterday afternoon.

- - -

"The Supreme Pontiff," the decree adds, "grants Plenary Indulgence to the faithful under the usual conditions (sacramental confession, Eucharistic communion and prayer in keeping with the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff, with the soul completely removed from attachment to any form of sin), if they participate in any of the solemn functions held in Valencia during the Fifth World Meeting of Families, and in the solemn closing ceremony.

"All other faithful who are unable to participate in that event, may obtain the same gift of Plenary Indulgence, under the same conditions, over the days the meeting is held and on its closing day if, united in spirit and thought with the faithful present in Valencia, they recite in the family the 'Our Father,' the 'Creed,' and other devout prayers calling on Divine Mercy to concede the above-mentioned aims."

Read the whole release

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Sisters arrested for...evangelization?

Yes, that is what appears to have happened to four Missionaries of Charity when they went to visit patients in a hospital in Tirupati, India--something they've been doing for decades.

But on the evening of June 25, an estimated crowd of 300 Hindus followed the sisters on their pastoral visit. Police from the area later came and took the sisters, members of the order founded by Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, to a nearby jail where they were detained for a few hours.

Actually, actions like this seem to becoming more common in India where religious tensions seem to be increasing.

They have caught the attention of Pope Benedict XVI and the new prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, Indian Cardinal Ivan Dias, who have both spoken out publicly against the persecution of Christians on the subcontinent.

However, their words seem to have fallen on deaf ears in the Indian government, which reacted by essentially taking the line of the Chinese government regarding religious freedom, that Church officials shouldn't be meddling in the affairs of a sovereign state.

Read this article to learn more about the incident in Tirupati.


G. Alfred, executive secretary of Andhra Pradesh Christian Federation, told the press conference that the incident was part of increasing harassment of Christians by fanatic Hindu groups.

Alfred later told UCA News that activists of Hindu Dharma Parirakshana Samithi (forum for protecting the Hindu religion) engineered the crowd at the hospital. He said some of them verbally abused the nuns and even threatened to make the nuns wear saffron clothes like Hindu religious personnel do.

The Christian federation demanded that the government probe the incident and act against those who took the nuns to the police station. It also said Christian groups "cannot be mute spectators" to such abuses and threatened to launch a statewide stir if the government failed to act.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Future priests packing lightsabers

That's what you see in this video, made for a vocations camp held at Kenrick Seminary in St. Louis. It features two seminarians for the Archdiocese of St. Louis who are in formation at Kenrick-Glennon. The credits show that the production work was also done by at least one of the seminarians

The Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary at Marian College in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis recently had their own vocations camp, which will be featured soon in both the print and online editions of The Criterion.

However, when yours truly went to it to do some reporting for the upcoming article, I didn't find any evidence of seminarians jousting it out with lightsabers in the hills of nearby Morgan County.

Maybe we could get more young men studying to be priests if they knew that there would be free lightsabers for each new seminarian...

A Coadjutor for St. Paul-Minneapolis?

Archbishop Harry Flynn of St. Paul-Minneapolis has confirmed that he has requested the Holy See appoint coadjutor bishop to assist him in his pastoral mission in his archdiocese and who would then be slated to succeed him upon his retirement.

This confirmation came in this article recently published in The Catholic Spirit, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis.

The reason for the request, according to Archbishop Flynn, was fairly simple:

“Here’s the scoop,” Archbishop Flynn said. “When a bishop is over 70 and he needs an auxiliary, Rome is not inclined to give him an auxiliary, but rather a coadjutor. I’m over 70. I’ve lost an auxiliary. We need another one. I wrote for an auxiliary. Rome said, ‘No, you have to have a coadjutor.’ So I wrote for a coadjutor.

Archbishop Flynn also offered his reflections on what he has found fulfilling and a challenge in his episcopal ministry:

“I think I enjoy most going to parishes and being with the people of God — celebrating with them the great liturgy that is ours, speaking with them afterward and simply being with them,” he said. “I come back re-created, renewed, rejuvenated and ready to take on any week.”

Less enjoyable have been the administrative duties that are a large part of a bishop’s responsibilities. “I’ve never had the inclination toward administration,” he said. “That part can be toilsome for me.”

Archbishop Flynn reflects on several other issues facing his local Church as well as the broader Church in the article. Check it out.

Black Catholics for Life

Deirdre A. McQuade, the director of planning and information for the U. S. bishops' Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities, wrote this column recently that appeared in the Colorado Catholic Herald, the newspaper of the Diocese of Colorado Springs.

In it, she places the debate on abortion squarely within the ongoing struggle to defend the civil rights of all people, a struggle led so admirably in the 1950s and 1960s by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. never lived to see the infamous Roe v. Wade decision, but state abortion laws had already started becoming more permissive in his lifetime. His niece, Alveda King, recalls his words: “The Negro cannot win as long as he is willing to sacrifice the lives of his children for comfort and safety.”

Ms. King takes her family’s civil rights work to its logical extension, fighting for the most basic civil right, the right to life. She calls for faithfulness to the principle of nonviolence: “How can the ‘Dream’ survive if we murder the children?...Abortion is at the forefront of our destruction…By taking the lives of our young, and wounding the wombs and lives of their mothers, we are flying in the face of God.”

In her column, McQuade also makes reference to the National Black Catholic Apostolate for Life. Go here to check out their Web site.

Monday, June 19, 2006

We need your opinion!

The Archdiocese of Indianapolis ( is preparing to launch a newly designed, interactive website with lots of new features and information. We would like your input as to what you'd like to see on the new site.


The questions are simple, and you can answer as many or as few as you want. Once you've filled out the fields, click the "Submit" button at the bottom of the page.

While we can't follow every suggestion, we will take them into consideration. We hope to launch the site this fall.

Changes in the Mass

From Catholic News Service:

Bishops approve new Order of Mass with U.S. adaptations

In what Bishop Donald W. Trautman called "a truly important moment in liturgy in the United States," the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops approved a new English translation of the Order of Mass and adopted several U.S. adaptations during a national meeting June 15 in Los Angeles.

The new translation of the main constant parts of the Mass -- penitential rite, Gloria, creed, eucharistic prayers, eucharistic acclamations, Our Father and other prayers and responses used daily -- will likely be introduced in about a year or two if it is approved by the Vatican, said Bishop Trautman, a Scripture scholar who heads the Diocese of Erie, Pa., and is chairman of the USCCB Committee on the Liturgy.

He said he thought the bishops would wait until they have approved -- and received Vatican confirmation of -- an entire new Roman Missal in English before implementing the new Order of Mass.


Saturday, June 10, 2006

Bureaucracy! What is it good for?

Absolutely nothing! Say it again!

(with apologies to the late Edwin Starr)

Such seems to be the basic argument of Catholic commentators of various stripes regarding bureaucracies at all levels in the Church. They claim that these staffs eventually turn away from the mission of evangelization that they were created to support and become entities that simply defend their own existence.

Writers as varied George Weigel and John Allen made such cases in their respective books God's Choice and The Rise of Benedict XVI, where both authors speculate that the current pope might make major changes to the Roman Curia in order to make the body more truly mission-oriented.

Closer to home, the U. S. bishops, who will be meeting in Los Angeles next week, may take an important step closer to a significant re-organization and reduction of the bureaucracy of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, sharply reducing the number of its committees from 35 to 14. Go here to read more about the plan.


One goal is to reduce the national operating budget at a time when many dioceses are feeling a financial crunch because of weak investment returns, rising insurance costs and a variety of other factors. The restructuring plan envisions a more modest, mission-driven role of the national conference in the work of the bishops.

But in this recent article from the St. Louis Review, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, Archbishop Raymond Burke is seen taking a positive approach to the archdiocesan staff that serves under him. We don't see him taking out the scalpel in order to make it more focused on evangelization.

I've done some searching and haven't seen reports about staff reductions in St. Louis. Perhaps it was relatively small or was relatively faithful to its orginal purpose to begin with.

In any case, the article in question shows Archbishop Burke meeting with some 250 employees, exhorting them to consider how they are called upon to participate in the New Evangelization, how they are to show Christ each day to those whom they serve.


The June 1 session at the Cardinal Rigali Center in Shrewsbury was the first of what Archbishop Burke and many members he met with — hope will be periodic meetings to discuss how the administrative staff can engage in "the new evangelization." That was a term often used by Pope John Paul II in encouraging people to live their faith with the spirit of the first disciples, Archbishop Burke said.

"This mission is not something new; it's the mission of Christ and his Church through the centuries," Archbishop Burke told the curia. "The way to accomplish the mission is also not new; it is Christ himself," the archbishop said, reinforcing his theme of allowing Christ to work through those who believe in him.


Archbishop Burke reminded those present that one of their functions was to serve the people in parishes.

"Our work should lighten their burdens, not increase them; our response to frustration should not increase the frustration," he said.


He spoke of the need for good stewardship of the archdiocese's resources in serving its people. And the archbishop spoke of the need for the curia’s members to serve "with humility and confidence."

He noted the need for them to take stock at the end of each day of what they have done. "If we are true to our calling and our work, we must ask ourselves each day, How have I brought Christ to others today?" he said.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Unusually blunt

Cardinal Walter Kasper, who serves in Rome as the president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, has a sensitive job and tries in all things to bring Christians together -- to bridge the divides of schisms and the Reformation.

Which is why this story, "Vatican official to Anglicans: Women bishops would destroy unity," caught my eye. In it, Cardinal Kasper is quoted as saying some rather direct things to members of the Church of England.

The background to his comments is this: "His remarks came in a speech to a private meeting of the Church of England bishops in Market Bosworth, England, just four months after the bishops agreed to set up a working group to outline a process through which women might be consecrated as bishops.

Although three of the world's Anglican provinces have already agreed to consecrate women as bishops, Cardinal Kasper said decisions made by the Church of England had a "particular importance" because they gave a "strong indication of the direction in which the communion as a whole was heading." "

Such a move would effectively end any hope of the Catholic Church ever coming to recognize Anglican holy order (bishops and priests) as valid.

And what were the cardinal's direct comments? Here are a few:

"shared partaking of the one Lord's table, which we long for so earnestly, would disappear into the far and ultimately unreachable distance."

the goal of restoring full church communion "would realistically no longer exist"

this meant that the Anglican Communion would no longer occupy "a special place" among the churches of the West

The ordination of women bishops, Cardinal Kasper added, would "most certainly lower the temperature even more; in terms of the possible recognition of Anglican orders, it would lead not only to a short-lived cold, but to a serious and long-lasting chill."

Go read more of the story for yourself. This is just one of the things going on in the Anglican Communion these days that have the eyes of ecumenists watching.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Into God's hands

A special exclusive from an upcoming issue of The Criterion:

Put family tragedy ‘in hands of God,’ pastor says

By John Shaughnessy

In his mind, Father Michael O’Mara can picture the two boys proudly standing in front of the altar on May 21—the two brothers preparing to receive their first Holy Communion while their parents and their extended family beamed with the joy of this special moment in the life of a Catholic.

In his mind, Father O’Mara tries to imagine the horror and the suffering that these two brothers endured less than two weeks later when they were shot and killed in their eastside Indianapolis home, along with their parents and three other family members.

The seven murders on June 1 marked the worst mass killing in Indianapolis history. And like most people who were shocked and horrified by the killings, the murders left their mark on Father O’Mara—the priest who gave the homilies at funeral Masses for family members on June 6 and 7.

As he prepared to give the homilies, the Indianapolis priest called upon his memories of the family while he tried to make sense of the deaths.

Read the rest of the story | See photos of a streetside memorial

Vatican document on the family

Today's Vatican Information Service report contained the following:

"The Pontifical Council for the Family, founded 25 years ago by John Paul II with the Motu Proprio "Familia a Deo Instituta," and presided by Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, today published a document entitled: "Family and Human Procreation."

. . .

This theme is then developed over four chapters covering "procreation; why the family is the only appropriate place for it; what is meant by integral procreation within the family; and what social, juridical, political, economic and cultural aspects does service to the family entail" The fifth chapter presents the theme "from two complementary perspectives: the theological, in that the family is an image of the Trinity; and the pastoral, because the family lies at the foundation of the Church and is a place of evangelization." "

Read the rest of the news report

Thursday, June 01, 2006

George Weigel on the ongoing discussion at Notre Dame

A large portion of Weigel's column is taken up by excerpts from Holy Cross Father Wilson Miscamble's open letter to University of Notre Dame president Holy Cross Father John Jenkins. Yet we still have here another significant voice in the contemporary Church in the United States weighing in on the ongoing discussion about academic freedom at Notre Dame.

Go here to read the column. Go here to read the text of Father Miscamble's open letter.

Excerpt from Weigel's column:

After a campus wide debate, Father Jenkins announced that "the creative contextualization of a play like The Vagina Monologues can bring certain perspectives on important issues into a constructive and fruitful dialogue with the Catholic tradition." Therefore, Father Jenkins decreed, the V-Monologues could continue to be produced on campus.

It was difficult, bordering on impossible, not to read Father Jenkins' decision as a surrender to the most corrosive forces eating away at the vitals of Catholic higher education.

This is what the apostolate is all about

It's about using the specific gifts with which God has blessed you to extend the kingdom of God in this world.

A Puerto Rican-born OB/GYN living now in the Archdiocese of Atlanta is successfully using his professional expertise to promote the use of adult stem cells gained from umbilical cord blood.

Go here to read an article in The Georgia Bulletin, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Atlanta, about the man and the foundation he established to carry on this important work.


TUCKER—Call it God’s natural gift to scientists of regenerative medicine. And in that context, the Babies for Life Foundation can be considered a divine instrument of distribution. This highly unique foundation collects donations of this “diamond” mine of stem cell–rich umbilical cord blood, linking new mothers, researchers and patients in need.

For the past five years Dr. Gerry Sotomayor of BFL has collected umbilical cord blood from newborns, sending it to cord blood public registries to help patients worldwide with the 65 diseases now successfully treated with umbilical cord adult stem cells—not to mention the at least 97 diseases that can be treated or cured by the various types of adult stem cells found throughout the body. The foundation, established by Sotomayor, has developed a systematic way to collect units at 10 participating Georgia hospitals from women who agree to donate cord blood at no risk to themselves or their babies, thus facilitating a newborn’s first act of charity. Reflecting the wonder of God’s handiwork, each birth provides 1.5-2.5 million cord blood stem cells. These and other adult stem cells are regenerative, unspecialized cells that are able to differentiate into various specialized cells that form tissues.