Damian Thompson writes on the state of the Ordinariate in England and Wales

Things are not looking good for the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham says Damian Thompson, unless it embraces our Divine Worship.  Former Anglo-Catholics from England and Wales had shown their loyalty to Rome by celebrating the Novus Ordo long before they came into the Catholic Church.  Sadly, many do not bother with our new missal and Thompson says that is a problem for the survival of the Ordinariate.

He has some suggestions on how to save it that we in North America should also take to heart.

Go on over and read the whole piece over at The Catholic Herald.   Here is an excerpt:

Having noisily championed the Ordinariate from day one, I wasn’t keen to hear – yet again – its own faithful tell me that, well, it was a nice idea, but everyone hates us and even some of our own priests aren’t really on board.

Sure enough, that is exactly what I’ve been told and I’m now convinced that the Ordinariate in its present form will wither away.

But note the qualification: in its present form. Those 80 priests include visionaries who believe that the Ordinariate can reinvent itself.

By that, they mean that the fantasy of group conversions needs to be ditched. Also, Ordinariate priests and laity who never liked their unique Missal, Divine Worship, should slip quietly into the Catholic mainstream.

Only then will a smaller Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham enrich the whole Church with the radiant Divine Worship, revive moribund parishes and evangelise with the vigour of its Anglo-Catholic forebears. That sounds like wishful thinking – but the people who believe in it make a stronger practical case for this Ordinariate Mark II than anyone ever did for the launch model.

Here in Ottawa, even before we came into the Catholic Church, I would wonder why we didn’t have people lining up around the corner to squeeze into our Sunday services.

What beauty!  What reverence!   What preaching!  What community!   And now that we’re Catholic, the fulness of the faith and obedience to Christ’s call to unity.

Last Sunday, a family of evangelicals came to visit.  We have a preacher in Fr. Doug Hayman who ranks with any evangelical preacher I have ever heard for meaty, profound sermons spoken not read but conveying a prodigious knowledge of Scripture.

We have to watch the Eeyore’s and Chicken Littles in our midst who sow discouragement and frustration and keep the vision.  It’s this that will attract.

 

 

 

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More on the priest-shortage in Germany

Over at Crux, there’s a Catholic News Agency report by Anian Christoph Wimmer on the priest-shortage in Germany and whether it is a deliberate strategy or a response to conditions.

Wimmer writes:

As one foreign priest currently serving in a South German “pastoral unit” who wished to remain anonymous told CNA, contact with the parishioners is diminished and fragmented. He rotates between several parish churches in the unit to say Mass, while other “pastoral workers” teach, engage in youth activities, or perform other apostolates.

Furthermore, making contact is not always easy in the first place, he said.

“People want to be private,” he told CNA, and seem reluctant to interact with the priest outside of his “sacramental function.” Unlike in his homeland, where parishioners ask him to mediate in family conflicts, seek his advice on personal matters, and invite him over for dinner, he notes that German people prefer not to have him take an interest in their private lives.

That reminded me of something I noticed from the  times I went to Mass in Italy last spring.  Unlike here in Canada, I never saw the priest stand at the doors of the church to greet people individually after Mass.  Instead, after Mass, they all retreated to the sacristry.  I was told it is much harder to have individual contact with a priest there than in Canada.  Imagine what it must be like in Germany then, or France!

But this reminded me of a conversation I had the other day with a diocesan priest here in Ottawa.  He wears his clericals when he is out and about, even to hockey games but he said even few Catholics will acknowledge his presence and say  “Hello, Father.”   Mostly, they avoid eye contact, he said.

Back to Wimmer’s article:

In several German dioceses today, it is not uncommon to have a female pastoral specialist, dressed in a white alb, conducting a Catholic funeral, and even giving the homily during Mass in diocesan Churches, even if that may be frowned upon officially.

Given this reality on the ground in German dioceses, demands for women to be ordained as deacons are not just common-place, but considered reasonable among Catholics in the Church’s employ; not to mention for theologians – with tacit or open support of many a German bishop – to demand further changes along the lines that both Drobinski and Kissler describe, albeit from different points of view.

 

 

 

 

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Cardinal Sarah gives yet another speech on liturgy

Cardinal Robert Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, gave a talk on Liturgical Life and the Priesthood Aug. 23 in Colombo that is a delight to read and something I hope is read and shared widely.   New Liturgical Movement has published the talk in full.

For if the Sacred Liturgy is no longer a joy to us, a source of spiritual refreshment, and if it becomes simply one of the duties that we have to be performed, we priests of the Lord may merit the condemnation announced by the prophet Isaiah: “this people draw near with their mouth and honour me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment of men learned by rote” (Is. 29:13). We must guard against this temptation my brothers. If we have succumbed to it, we must exorcise ourselves of this vice and recapture the spirit and power of the liturgy in our priestly life and ministry without delay, for the good of our own souls and for the good of Christ’s faithful whom we serve.

How can we pursue such a renewal, a renewal that so many of us need? It would be wonderful for the priests of any diocese to have annual retreats in which the preachers would address this need and where the liturgical celebrations of the Holy Mass and the Divine Office were themselves exemplary, indeed refreshing, for our priestly souls. That is a matter for your Father, the diocesan bishop to consider! Nevertheless, whilst His Eminence considers this (!) each of us can make a start individually, or perhaps with the support of a small number of brother priests.

Firstly, let us ask ourselves: how do we pray the Divine Office? Is it something that we have to ‘get done’ as soon as possible each day so as to be ‘free’ to get on with other tasks? Do I even neglect to pray it sometimes? Certainly, pastoral life is busy, but if I do not pray the Prayer of the Church as I have solemnly promised to do, or if I do not pray it with fervour, with devotion, and indeed liturgically, then I am failing to nourish my soul and I am endangering my vocation.

Practically speaking I would suggest this: as often as is possible pray the Divine Office liturgically, together with others, most especially with your people, for the Office is not a text to be read but a rite to be celebrated, with its own rituals, postures, chant, etc. And if circumstances dictate that you must pray the Office by yourself, do as much as you can to make it a liturgical rite—pray it in an oratory if possible, standing and sitting and so on at the appropriate times. Sing the Office if it is possible—it is not a book to be read in an armchair; rather it is the loving song of the Church, of the Bride, to Him Who has redeemed us.

There’s a lot more like this: limpid, refreshing, beautiful.

It’s also good to know he is not bowed after  his talk to the Sacra Liturgia Conference in England earlier this year that prompted a response from the Vatican Press Office clarifying there was no new directive about worshipping ad orientem  and news the Pope summoned him to his office for a “slap down”.

What Cardinal Sarah had done was encourage priests to begin to celebrate Mass facing East perhaps the First Sunday of Advent after a period of catechesis about the reasons for facing  God during the Liturgy of the Eucharist.   Cardinal Sarah was not calling for anything that is not already licit in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal or GIRM for the Ordinary form of the Mass.

Cardinal Sarah mentions the Sacra Liturgica talk in Colombo:

There are many other elements of our liturgical lives as priests we could talk about. Last month, in London, I gave a presentation “Towards an authentic implementation of Sacrosanctum Concilium in which I spoke of others. This talk received a lot of attention—some of it not always very accurate! In any case, I recommend that you read the text of this address (it is available on the Internet). Perhaps we can talk about some different questions together later.

 

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Pray for Fr. Christopher Phillips please!

Father Christopher Phillips, founder and pastor of Our Lady of the Atonement parish in San Antonio, Texas, is having hip replacement surgery today.  Please join me in praying for wisdom and skill for the surgical team, and a complete and speedy recovery.  May he feel surrounded by angels in all the care he receives during and post surgery and convalescence.

Fr. Phillips took a bad fall down some steps a few days ago and fractured his hip.    Many of us found Fr. Philips a constant source of encouragement during the difficult years leading up to our entry into the Catholic Church.

 

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Our bishop gets a mention in Monday Vatican

Andrea Gagliarducci’s Monday Vatican, a weekly look at what is going on inside the Holy See, mentions Bishop Steven Lopes of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, in other words, my bishop in this week’s look at recent appointments.

He writes:

The appointment of Bishop Kevin Farrell of Dallas as Prefect of the new dicastery “Laity, Family and Life” took many by surprise.

-long snip-

There are many clues. Farrell was the Auxiliary Bishop under Cardinal Donald Wuerl, in the Archdiocese of Washington, and the latter hurried to deliver a statement to praise Pope Francis’s choice of Farrell. Cardinal Wuerl is considered very influential, and at the Synod he supported a line that put him on the opposite side of those who defended Catholic doctrine. To understand the Cardinal Wuerl’s impact, it is noteworthy that one of his protégés, Msgr. Steven Lopes, recently became the youngest bishop in the world and the first bishop to lead an Anglican ordinariate – and dialogue with Anglicans is crucial, as the Pope is preparing for a meeting with the Anglican primate, that will take place in Rome Oct. 5.

 

Cardinal Wuerl was the Episcopal Delegate in the United States for the formation of the Ordinariate, so I am sure, at the very least, he was consulted in the nomination of Bishop Lopes.  However, it is my understanding the terna, or list of three names proposed to Pope Francis, came from our Ordinariate’s governing council and not from the Nuncio, as is the normal case for Roman Catholic diocesan bishops.  This is another respectful nod to Anglican patrimony in Anglicanorum coetibus.

 

Of course the Pope chooses bishops either from the terna or chooses someone else as is his prerogative.

I also find it interesting Gagliarducci thinks Bishop Lopes will have something to do with dialog with Anglicans!  I hope that is the case.

However, I’m reminded of some things Fr. Louis Bouyer, a former Lutheran who became a Catholic priest in France and served as an advisor during the Second Vatican Council.  He bemoaned the fact that he was kept away from ecumenical discussions, even though he had retained close friendships with many of the key players in the Protestant world and probably better understood their approach to the Catholic Church than those on the Catholic side of the various dialogues.

Bouyer wrote perhaps he was viewed as an obstacle to ecumenism because of his conversion

 

 

 

 

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Are priest shortages intentional?

I imagine many of us have read about the fact only 58 priests were ordained in Germany last year.   This is an astonishingly low figure for a country the size of Germany.

A German journalist and editor asks whether this priest-shortage is intentional.  Maike Hickson writes an article on Alexander Kissler’s piece at OnePeterFive.com here:

Alexander Kissler convincingly demonstrates, by quoting from these current diocesan booklets, just how these new “participatory parishes” are implemented from above – and “initiated top-down” – in order to “make [the Church] step-by-step more compatible with the life realities of the people.” In this new “system,” the priest appears to be a stumbling block, according to Kissler. “The stubborn priest slows down the annexation [Anschluss] to the Wonder-world of Participation.” Thus there can be found in the diocesan documents a call to urge “more insistently and more consequently” the ordained priests “not to stand in the way of the changes.” Priests, according to the documents, “should not block whole parishes.” The aim of the reform is “to search” and even, if seen to be fitting, to find “new bosses, new forms of leadership” (in Kissler’s words). Kissler rightly then asks whether or not there is any place left for “Canon Law and Catechism.” In one of the recent  documents of the Diocese of Limburg, called “Kirche der Zukunft” (“Church of the Future”), “there is not even a single mention anymore of the very word ‘priest,’” as Kissler emphatically notes. The clear goal here is to form a “common priesthood” and a “general priesthood.” Kissler trenchantly asks: “Shall Luther be re-catholicized, or shall the Church be lutherized?”

If the priesthood is diminished to the point where anyone can do what the priest does but can also marry and have a family, then why would a man make the sacrifice of the goods of family to become a priest?

Having had much exposure to evangelical Protestantism, I understand very much the priesthood of believers.  But coming into the Traditional Anglican Communion, and learning about sacraments such as Holy Orders, I began to see there is a distinction between the ordained male priesthood and the priesthood of believers that we all participate in through our Baptism.

I also began to see the issues around Holy Orders are not secondary to the point of being optional.  They might be secondary only insofar as they might not be the primary elements of the faith when evangelizing, but for a Catholic, they can not be unraveled or you begin to unravel the whole Church.

Bishops should be extremely cautious about responding to the priest shortage by clericalizing the laity; hiring more professional lay ministers and horizontalizing the parishes because the those practices will beget more priest shortages.

The old-fashioned methods of prayer for vocations, encouraging apostolates such as the Spiritual Motherhood of Priests; catechizing priests and laity about their respective roles and about the Eucharist;  faith in a supernatural God is the way to overcome priest shortages.

 

 

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Islam the religion of peace

It all depends on what your definition of peace is if Islam is truly a religion of peace.  When everyone is Muslim, submitted to Allah and his prophet Muhammad, there will be peace. Until then, there is jihad, which can take non-violent forms such as lawfare, political pressure from the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the largest world body after the United Nations, to bring about anti-blasphemy laws that make criticizing Islam a crime, and the violent forms we see in beheadings, bombings and other kinds of terrorism.

John Zmirak has weighed in on the debate between Robert Spencer of Jihadwatch and Msgr. Stuart Swetland of Kansas City in which Swetland said one must believe Islam is a religion of peace because it is part of the Catholic Magisterium and anyone who rejects this is rejecting the authority of the Church. (He has a video of the debate at his site)

He writes the Pope is neither a  “divinely inspired oracle, who just has to open his mouth to spill out prophetic predictions and mystical insights that we all must cringe at and obey” or “a totalitarian political party like Stalin’s, which claims that its statements are the infallible “voice of history,” and reserves the right to change its party line on a dime, demanding that every Party member do likewise, on pain of expulsion.:

He then goes on:

There are only a few, narrowly circumscribed areas where the Catholic Church claims divine protection from error.

  1. Truths of faith that the apostles received from Jesus, and passed on to their successors. One example is the fact that Jesus is divine, co-equal with his Father. Early on, not everyone read the Bible as implying this, and the Church held multiple councils to clarify and reaffirm this crucial teaching. Some putative “gospels” suggested otherwise, which let the Church’s bishops know they were inauthentic.
  2. Facts of history that are essential to the story of salvation. For instance, that Jesus really existed, and that the Apostles actually knew him personally, followed him, and spoke with him in the flesh after his resurrection.
  3. Instances of divine revelation that were granted to the Apostles during their lifetimes, such as the Revelation to St. John. All public revelation, essential to eternal salvation and hence binding on Christians, ended with the death of the last apostle.
  4. Truths of morality that accord with the natural law that God wrote in the human heart, and which the Church has consistently and universally taught since the age of the Apostles. Hence abortion, adultery, sodomy, and murder are all things we know with absolute certainty to be wrong.

There are various ways in which the Church has historically formulated and asserted truths from each of these four categories: statements by Church councils, official proclamations by popes, or the unanimous testimony of Church fathers and early Christian tradition. (There is no direct condemnation of abortion in the Bible; that didn’t stop Martin Luther from knowing that it was wrong, from the ancient Christian consensus.) There has never been an infallible statement by a Church council or pope condemning incest or murder, for instance; the historic Christian consensus on such issues is so powerful that it never seemed to be necessary.

When a pope or a council of the Church makes a statement about some issue that does not fall into category 1, 2, 3, or 4, it might or might not be true. That depends on how well-informed and intelligent were the men who drafted the document. But it rests on men, on human wisdom and knowledge, and Catholics grant it no special credence, since we know it has no unique divine protection from ignorance, rank stupidity, or error.

 

Over at Crisis Magazine William Kirkpatrick also weighed in on whether Catholics must believe Islam is peaceful:

The main problem with Msgr. Swetland’s statement, however, is its recklessness. Last week in Crisis I wrote that the Church’s handling of the Islamic challenge may prove to be far more scandalous than its handling of the sex abuse crisis. Church authorities are engaged in what amounts to a cover-up of Islam’s aggressive nature, and Msgr. Swetland is a prime example of this ecclesiastical determination to put a positive spin on everything Islamic. But the stakes involved in doing so are extremely high. As I wrotelast week, “as the gap widens between what Church officials say about Islam and what ordinary Catholics can see with their own eyes, the credibility of the Church may once again come into question as it did during the sex abuse scandals.”

Spencer makes the same point, albeit a bit more boldly: “if Monsignor Swetland is correct, then Catholics must affirm that Islam is a religion of peace…and the Catholic Church will be requiring that its faithful affirm the truth of what is an obvious and egregious falsehood.” By binding themselves to this falsehood, says Spencer, Catholic leaders will undermine their authority to speak in the name of Christ.

 

 

I would recommend you also read Kirkpatrick’s piece in Crisis linked to in the above article.

The Church’s current policy of minimizing the violent side of Islam while extolling the positive side amounts to a cover-up of vital information that Catholics deserve to know. As the gap widens between what Church officials say about Islam and what ordinary Catholics can see with their own eyes, the credibility of the Church may once again come into question as it did during the sex abuse scandals. The complaint then was that Church authorities didn’t do enough to protect children. The complaint that is building now is that all of us are at risk because the Church leadership has chosen to defend a partial and misleading narrative about Islam rather than tell the full truth.

 

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A finder’s religion

I wrote this on my Facebook page, but I think it is worth posting here:

i have often thought of our little Ordinariate parish community of faith as a finder’s religion. It’s an oasis and pearl of great price for people who have been searching for a long time and found, finally, beautiful liturgy, reverent worship, great meaty preaching, priests who believe what they pray and proclaim in the Liturgy of the Word, a community open to the supernatural gifts of the Spirit, and Catholic Communion.
 
Yet I was so benefited by exposure to a seeker’s religion, a Baptist Church that chose to be seeker-friendly so as not to scare off the self-admitted heretics and cafeteria Christians embracing all kinds of false ideas like I was until Kanata Baptist Church loved me out of them and exposed me to the crucial basics of the Christian faith. We are at Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary the “deep end” of the pool; Kanata Baptist provided a “shallow end” with lots of “deep end” lifeguards there to ensure nobody drowned even in a few feet of water. I wonder had I not had the preparation, the “swimming training” at Kanata Baptist if I would have been able to recognize the worship at Annunciation for what I see it as now, the worship of heaven? Or would I have run off, dismayed there are no women in the sanctuary, that people recite prayers from a book, and the Eucharist is only open to Catholics in good standing?
 
So, how do we who have a closed Communion, provide a shallow end for seekers? One way we are trying out is to have twice a month Evensong followed by a reception. It’s a good liturgical celebration to invite people to that does not require you to say, “oh, but you should not go forward for Communion” since it isn’t a Mass.
 
I love what St. Benedict’s in Halifax does—they use the Alpha Course to evangelize people, and get them involved in Connect Groups so they can be further prepared for reception of the sacraments. This parish ensures people are included and mentored and brought to a personal relationship with Christ.
 
Your thoughts?
I also wonder if Pope Francis is shifting the Catholic Church’s focus to the shallow end of the pool, and to those Catholics who jumped out of the water after having swallowed some and nearly choked, or who were dunked or pushed or thrown in the deep end when they were not ready.
The key for Kanata Baptist’s success was the well-trained leadership, the devout Christians who shepherded the seekers and exposed them to true doctrine after their conversion to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
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Lutherans and the Catholic Church

I will want to take a closer look at this later on, but in the meantime, I will post a link to a story about American Lutherans recognizing agreement with the Catholic Church.  

An excerpt, with my emphases:

(RNS) Nearly 500 years after Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the Castle Church door, the largest Lutheran denomination in the U.S. has approved a declaration recognizing “there are no longer church-dividing issues” on many points with the Roman Catholic Church.

The “Declaration on the Way” was approved 931-9 by the 2016 Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Churchwide Assembly held last week at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans.

ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton called the declaration “historic” in a statement released by the denomination following the Wednesday (Aug. 10) vote.

“Though we have not yet arrived, we have claimed that we are, in fact, on the way to unity. … This ‘Declaration on the Way’ helps us to realize more fully our unity in Christ with our Catholic partners, but it also serves to embolden our commitment to unity with all Christians,” Eaton said.

Women in the priesthood and in the episcopacy is a church-dividing issue, no?

I am scratching my head.

What kind of unity might that be?

UPDATE:

You can read the document here.

When you read the document, the language is beautiful, lofty even, and one might be lulled into thinking, wow, so much agreement!

 

 

 

 

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Cardinal Ouellet’s talk to the Knight’s Supreme Convention

Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, and former Primate of Canada and Archbishop of Quebec, gave an talk to the Knights of Columbus Supreme Convention Aug. 2 in Toronto.

You can watch the talk here via EWTN’s YouTube channel.   The Cardinal’s talk begins at 2:57:00.   Most interesting what he has to say about Pope Francis and Amoris Laetitia.

For me, the Cardinal is an example of the kind of humble shepherd he describes Pope Francis as!

 

Here’s a copy of the prepared text:

Knights of Columbus Supreme Convention

States Dinner Keynote Address by Marc Cardinal Ouellet

August 2, 2016

Toronto, Canada

 

Introduction

Supreme Knight Carl Anderson, Dear Brother Bishops and Priests, Dear Friends

When I received the invitation to the Supreme Convention in Toronto this year, I knew that I had to be here, even though faced with other commitments. Old friendships are precious and good like old wine! The Supreme Knight was a colleague and he remains, not only a friend, but also an example of a man of Vision who has brought spiritual renewal and expansion to the Knights. May he forgive me as I sing his praises this evening in this forum, which certainly does not need it, since the quality of his leadership seems so obvious to all of us.

Why then mention what I am saying?

I do it for two reasons:

First: Gratitude is a quality which is not given enough in these days of global confusion and social unrest to good Christian leaders.

And Second: I very much appreciate his clear focus, integrity of life, family values, and Catholic loyalty — all excellent qualities that are bringing onward and upward the whole fraternity of the Knights of Columbus, which is an extraordinary Christian fellowship! Thank you Carl and Dorian for whom you are to me and for us all — A gift of God!

 

I work daily for Pope Francis’ ‘Petrine Ministry’, and I see him weekly — a full hour — for the delicate duty of appointing bishops and sustaining them in their governance of local Churches. What a challenge for me and for those who say Yes to this call! Thus, I really appreciate how the Knights are available and of service to so many bishops. As you know, it is not an easy task for the bishops, but a very important one since they are key players for the unity of the Church. They embody the ministry of unity in each local Church, and their belonging to the Apostolic College of Bishops makes them responsible for the unity of the Church as a whole. So, as I greet wholeheartedly those present on this stage, I beg you please pray for them, pray for me and for the Holy Father, who always begs daily for our prayers.

 

Charity

When I see the Holy Father praying, I understand his impact on people, because his concrete charity flows from a deep familiarity with the Holy Spirit. We know in the Scriptures, as well as in the history of the Church, that the Holy Spirit can be unpredictable. And so, too, our own Pope Francis is somehow unpredictable like the Holy Spirit! I remember vividly his very first gesture after his election at the Conclave: Before we lined up to offer our congratulations and obedience, he walked the whole length of the Sistine Chapel to greet and embrace Cardinal Ivan Dias, who was unable to stand up and walk towards him. We were touched by this sensitivity towards the fragile human person[1] — what an education in respect for each individual no matter his or her situation or background! We could see afterwards that this feature would be one of the Holy Father’s most characteristic attitudes and priorities. What a nice example of encouragement for the work of charity among the Knights of Columbus who have been founded precisely for this as “men of faith and men of action”![2] The Knights of Columbus have been standing up for the innate dignity of the human person and building up the family and society against the evils that seek to use, crush or disregard the fragile human person whether that person be in the womb, handicapped, poor, a refugee, elderly or terminally ill. The Knights are clear and unequivocal witnesses to the sanctity of human life at all stages, fostering a culture of life in families and in society, particularly through your promotion of good Christian manhood with the Fathers for Good Initiative. Your support of the Little Sisters of the Poor in their case for religious liberty and true freedom of conscience, and your recent efforts here in Canada in the March for Life in Ottawa this past May, all bear witness to our solidarity with the vulnerable among us.

 

 

When Saint Paul went to the Council of Jerusalem in 50 A.D. to verify his preaching of the Gospel message to the Gentiles, he received approval and support from Peter, James and the other Apostles and presbyters,[3] who then stressed taking care of the poor,[4] — something which Paul already was making every effort to do. Pope Francis brings us to the core of the Gospel: Christian love of God, charity to one’s neighbour, sharing one’s gifts and resources. I know that this aspect of charity, emphasized by the Apostles and the Holy Father, is something with which you Knights are familiar.

During Pope Francis’ first World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro, he visited one of the favellas, one of the slums. At one point, far from the media, he sat with a representative family, listened to them, played with their children, and left them with a greater sense of hope.[5] Our Holy Father shows us that charity goes beyond being for people; it requires that we also be with people[6] where we ourselves are transformed by the encounter. He sees charity not as some remote, ethereal ideal, but as something very concrete, as concrete as our Lord’s Incarnation and Cross. Charity is physically close. It looks at the poor in their eyes and speaks to their hearts, leaving their hearts warmed[7] from the Light of Christ. It creates communion and manifests the respect of persons. In offering Christ’s charity to others, we ourselves should be transformed by that same gift of love. True charity makes the one receiving happy and respected, and allows us to understand deeper our position of being able to give. I am impressed by the many ways local Councils spend their time and efforts giving direct personal charity to others in need. In fact, I would suggest that direct, personal engagement is a hallmark of charity promoted by the Knights of Columbus because you are realists who see a need and respond, as did your founder, Father Michael McGivney.

When Pope Francis travelled to Mexico, he visited the prison in Cuidad Juárez. There I witnessed how he encountered those in jail and invited them deeper into the mercy of God and offered them hope. I was touched when he spoke to them, recalling Jesus’ words of “Let him who has no sin cast the first stone”[8], and how the Holy Father is aware of his own wounds, mistakes and sins.[9] Pope Francis always asks himself on entering a prison, “Why them and not me?”. But realizing it is a mystery of Divine Mercy, where we all look ahead with hope no matter what “side” we are on, he approached those in need in jail not from on high, demanding respect, but begging forgiveness for himself. To be on the receiving end of charity can be humiliating for people. This is a reality that we cannot deny. Charity is intimately connected with and linked to humility; we cannot have true love without it. In giving, the Holy Father urges us to a Christian charity that is delicate and respectful, cognizant of our own mistakes and sinfulness. We could think of another example in today’s world: So many of us were born in countries, or able to emigrate to places, where the ability to practice our faith and to support our families through good work is generally present, although under attack more so today. But what if we happened to be born and raised in Syria or Iraq? We would have very different lives due to the present Christian genocide, and our lives would be incredibly different through no choice of our own. We would need the charity and love of our brothers and sisters in the Catholic faith and in the human family just to live and survive. The ability of the Holy Father to connect with people in amazing ways is due to this attitude of giving with extraordinary humility. Charity goes with humility and as Saint Peter reminds us in Scripture, “Love covers a multitude of sins”.[10]

 

Prayer

At a gathering such as this, I have to say that I am impressed by the Adoration Chapel, the space you dedicate to the reservation of Jesus’ Eucharistic presence in the Blessed Sacrament. When I started to organize the International Eucharistic Congress of 2008 in Quebec City, I remember being very concerned about raising the necessary funds in order to pull off the event. Who helped then? The Knights of Columbus did! And with a substantial contribution of $1 million dollars. In the end, we finished with no deficit, and there was even a little left over, which was given to a Convent of Contemplative Sisters.

Pope Francis steeps his day in prayer, one hour in the morning before Mass and one in the evening before dinner. It is mostly from this time with the Lord that the Holy Father makes his critical decisions. I remember once, at the beginning of his Pontificate, he had made a decision one particular day. But during his examination of conscience that evening, he was not at peace with this decision. So he changed it the day after, and peace returned to his soul. What an example of righteousness and humility.

Since he is so intimately familiar with and attentive to the Holy Spirit, Pope Francis is able to see, as a good Jesuit and follower of Saint Ignatius of Loyola would, God at work in the world and in the life of the Church. This is what it means to be a contemplative in action. A contemplative in action could also describe the call for every Knight of Columbus as good Christians. Prayer must undergird the work of charity so that it remains something that is always from God. We need the leaven of prayer so that our charitable works can bear the kind of fruit that Jesus wants that will endure to eternal life.[11]

I know that prayer is built into the structure of the Knights of Columbus. You are encouraged to carry and to pray your Rosary. Knights assist in Processions and even Papal Masses. Your efforts to promote prayer as a family, such as your Holy Family Prayer Program, are wonderful. But I also know how tempting it can be to cut corners on prayer in your meetings, within your families and in your own personal lives to get to the so-called “important stuff”. The fact is we cannot hope to know or to accomplish the will of God if we do not pray. We cannot neglect the spiritual aspect of our charity. It is the unseen but powerfully present reality that is the soul of all we do. Pope Francis’ spirituality is an invitation to the Knights of Columbus not to abandon charity to pray more, but to allow your prayer life to imbue the good that you do in your families, in your parishes and dioceses and in the local community. Let your daily heart-to-heart conversation with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, with Our Lady and the saints, help you delve more deeply into what you do, and come to know the power of God at work in your lives. The Holy Father would have us resist the temptation to forego prayer, and, instead, invest ourselves in a deep spiritual life, becoming contemplatives in action.

Amoris Laetitia

Before concluding, let me say a word about the Papal document, Amoris Laetitia, that was born of the 2 recent Synods on the Family. In all honesty, I think that controversies around Amoris Laetitia are understandable, but, in all confidence, I believe they might even be fruitful in the end. It is a document worth reading and rereading, slowly, one chapter after another – enjoying the marvellous chapter four on Love, and entrusting chapter eight to the careful and open minded discernment of priests and bishops towards people in need of charity and mercy. What is essential is that we try to grasp the Holy Father’s desire and intent to provide for the true and substantial reconciliation of so many families in confused and difficult situations. No change of the doctrine is proposed, but what is proposed is a new pastoral approach: more patient and respectful, more dialogical and merciful. For the most part, priests and bishops are being asked to care for and walk with them in order to help people make spiritual growth even in objective irregular situations. I am grateful to the Holy Father and am convinced that this whole process of discernment and pastoral accompaniment will bear fruit for all families.

 

Conclusion

Thank you once again Carl for your friendship and leadership of this amazing Christian fellowship. Congratulations go to the Little Sisters of the Poor for receiving the prestigious Gaudium et Spes Award this evening for who they are, all they do, and how they serve with Catholic integrity and humility.

My office oversees the organization of the International Military Pilgrimage to Lourdes each year. Thank you for helping to bring so many service men and woman and veterans, especially those who have suffered the trauma of war, to make a visit to a wonderful place of healing and peace. I am so grateful for all the good that the Knights of Columbus do for the Church and for those in need.

As a Jesuit superior, Pope Francis was involved in forming spiritual men for our time. Now as Vicar of Christ, he is forming the entire Church in deeper charity, humility, mercy and prayer. I pray that, faithful to his fatherly guidance, you may continue to deepen your charity and strengthen it by prayer, so that it may shine forth as the very charity of Christ that encounters people in their need, lifts them up, warms their hearts and brings them into the saving arms of Jesus.

 

[1] Cf. The Great Reformer by Austen Ivereigh p. 188 from Rossi quote.

[2] Cf. Knights of Columbus, “Our Principles”.

[3] Cf. Acts 15.

[4] Cf. Gal 2:10.

[5] Cf. The Great Reformer by Austen Ivereigh p.44.

[6] Cf. The Great Reformer by Austen Ivereigh p.183.

[7] Cf. “A Big Heart Open to God” interview with Fr. Spedaro, SJ September 2013 and cf. The Great Reformer by Austen Ivereigh p.220 (Bergoglio, LaPlata Priest Talk).

[8] Cf. Jn 8:7.

[9] cf. Address of the Holy Father Pope Francis in his Visit to the Penitentiary (Cereso N. 3) of Cuidad Juárez.

[10] Cf. 1 Pt 4:8.

[11] cf. Jn. 15:16.

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