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Being Catholic in the face of scandal

08/31/2018 - 11:32am

In the last few months, national news stories have outlined new allegations of abuse and misconduct involving bishops, priests, and even seminarians from various dioceses. It’s hard to read about. Very hard. It can test the faith of even the strongest of Catholics.

     Yet, you’re still Catholic. Why? 

     Nowadays, it’s not an easy question to answer. And as much as I want to seize the catechetical moment (and help you to seize it, too), I’d rather have some other reason to “account for the hope that is in me” (1 Peter 3:15) than
these latest revelations. Yet here we are. Our friends, family, and the secular world all want to know why we don’t just jump ship already. We certainly can’t pretend this isn’t happening. We have to have an answer, not only for them but also for ourselves.

     Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. In order to stay and continue to give, pray, worship, and work with this church of sinners, each of us will have to discover our own reason for being Catholic and remaining Catholic. 

     I recently came across a poignant quotation from F. J. Sheed, one of the greatest Catholic catechists and apologists of the 20th century. In his work “Christ in Eclipse” (1978), he offers a penetrating analysis of the scandals in his own day. The following words in particular were a moment of clarity for me:

     “We are not baptized into the hierarchy; do not receive the cardinals sacramentally; will not spend an eternity in the beatific vision of the pope. …. Christ is the point … even if I sometimes find the Church, as I have to live with it, a pain in the neck, I should still say that nothing a Pope [or bishop, or priest] could do or say would make me wish to leave the church, although I might well wish that they would leave.” 

     Isn’t that the truth? The hierarchy is such a visible symbol of the church that when it goes wrong and we discover serious sinfulness within it, we are tempted to think that the church is rotten to the core. And, if the hierarchy was all there were to the church, then we’d be right.

     But, that’s not all there is. The hierarchy is not the core, Jesus is. Granted, the hierarchy is vitally important. I don’t deny that for a moment. In fact, its importance is what makes its members’ sins so tragic. A genuine, spiritual father in our midst is a tremendous blessing. But, there’s so much more to being Catholic than belonging to a church with a hierarchy in it.

     And that’s why I stay. I’m here for the good bishops, priests, and deacons, but I’m also here for the “so much more:” the Mass; the sacraments, including the Eucharist; the undivided truth of what we believe and the fullness of grace I so desperately need. I’m here for the angels and saints, for the prayers and the liturgy, for the best way to heaven. I’m here for our Blessed Mother, and for Joseph, her most chaste spouse.

     I can’t live without these things, and a million scandalous bishops could never tear them away from me. I refuse to give them that much power over me. And at any rate, where would I go? To some other church? There’s sinners there, too, even very wretched ones.

     So, I’m choosing to stay. I’m choosing to fight for justice and truth where I am, to unceasingly strive for holiness, and to trust that the goodness of God will always prevail.

     And I’m striving to never forget: Christ is the point.

Nicholas Hardesty develops new digital courses for Vocare, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati’s online catechist certification process. Contact him with new course ideas at

Australian bishops, religious say they can’t violate seal of confession

08/31/2018 - 2:00am

IMAGE: CNS photo/Royal Commission


SYDNEY, Australia (CNS) — Australia’s Catholic bishops and religious orders, responding to recommendations from the Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, accepted 98 percent of its suggestions, but said they could not accept recommendations that would violate the seal of confession.

“We are committed to the safeguarding of children and vulnerable people while maintaining the seal. We do not see safeguarding and the seal as mutually exclusive,” said the preamble to a 57-response to dozens of recommendations concerning child safety, formation of priest and religious workers, ongoing training in child safety and even out-of-home care service providers.

The response, published Aug. 31, came eight-and-a-half months after the Royal Commission released its 17-volume report on child sexual abuse. The report was based on five years of hearings, nearly 26,000 emails, and more than 42,000 phone calls from concerned Australians. In February 2017, Australian church leaders spent three weeks testifying before the commission.

The Royal Commission recommended that the bishops consult with the Holy See to clarify whether “information received from a child during the sacrament of reconciliation that they have been sexually abused is covered by the seal of confession” and whether “if a person confesses during the sacrament of reconciliation to perpetrating child sexual abuse, absolution can and should be withheld until they report themselves to civil authorities.”

The commission also recommended that confession “only be conducted in an open space within the clear line of sight of another adult.”

The response from the bishops and religious said dioceses would examine confessional spaces and practices. It said confessions of groups of children were normally conducted in the open and that the Catholic Professional Standards Limited it had established was developing standards and protocols.

“However, the ‘seal of confession’ is inviolable for the priest confessor,” it said.

“Children will be less rather than more safe if mandatory reporting of confessions were required: the rare instance where a perpetrator or victim might have raised this in confession would be less likely to occur if confidence in the sacramental seal were undermined; and so an opportunity would be lost to encourage a perpetrator to self-report to civil authorities or victims to seek safety,” said the response.

“Mandatory reporting of confessions would also be a violation of freedom of religious belief and worship,” it added.

The bishops and religious noted that they had marked a few recommendations “For further consideration,” and about a dozen that mentioned the Holy See had been noted to the Vatican. In October, leaders of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and the chair of the church’s Truth, Justice and Healing Council met with Vatican officials to discuss issues emerging from the royal commission investigations.

For instance, the Royal Commission said the bishops should urge the Vatican to change canon law so that “the pontifical secret” — the confidentiality surrounding a canonical investigation and process — “does not apply to any aspect of allegations or canonical disciplinary processes relating to child sexual abuse.” The response said the bishops had sought canonical advice and consulted with the Holy See, but noted that the pontifical secret “does not in any way inhibit a bishop or religious leader from reporting instances of child sexual abuse to civil authorities.”

The Royal Commission asked that the bishops urge the Vatican to eliminate the “imputability test” of canon law when dealing with cases of clerical sexual abuse; the imputability test basically means that a person’s level of guilt for a crime is lessened to the degree that he or she was not aware that the action was wrong; if the imputability is diminished, canon law would recommend a lesser penalty for the guilty.

In response to a recommendation that the bishops work with the Vatican to amend canon law to remove the time limit for commencement of canonical actions relating to child sexual abuse, the bishops said this was already the practice in Australia. According to rules issued in 2003, the statute of limitation is 20 years after the victim reaches the age of 18; however, church law also says that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith can set aside that limit.

Several recommendations from the royal commission concerned celibacy — the promise not to marry. The response said the bishops noted “that the Royal Commission made no finding of a causal connection between celibacy and child sexual abuse; that voluntary celibacy is a long-established and positive practice of the church in both East and West, particularly for bishops and religious life; and that inadequate initial and continuing formation of priests and religious for celibate living may have contributed to a heightened risk of child sexual abuse, but not celibacy as a state of life in and of itself.”

In March, Pope Francis authorized an Australian plenary council, a meeting in which decisions become binding on the church in the country. The bishops said it was time to look at where the church in Australia was headed.

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Bishop echoes pope: The poor’s plight is ‘the Gospel, pure and simple’

08/30/2018 - 7:14pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Jim West

By Mark Pattison

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Echoing what Pope Francis said during a Mass in May, the bishop who heads the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development said, “The struggle of working people, of the poor” is not first a “social or political question. No! It is the Gospel, pure and simple.”

In the bishops’ annual Labor Day statement, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, said the recent economic news may not “give an entirely accurate account of the daily lives and struggles of working people, those who are still without work, or the underemployed struggling with low wages.”

The statement, “Just Wages and Human Flourishing,” dated Labor Day, Sept. 3 this year, was released Aug. 30.

“Wages for lower-income workers are, by various accounts, insufficient to support a family and provide a secure future,” Bishop Dewane said. “A recent study examined whether a minimum wage earner could afford an average two-bedroom apartment in their state of residence. Shockingly, in all 50 states, the answer was no.”

He also took note from a recent Federal Reserve report that showed that four in 10 adults could not cover a $400 emergency expense, or would have to borrow money or sell something to do so.

“Taking into account inflation and the rising cost of living, workers at the lower end of the income spectrum have seen their wages stagnate or even decrease over the last decade,” Bishop Dewane said. “From 2015 to 2016, the rate of (income) growth was highest at the top.”

“Another alarming trend is the continuing disparities in median incomes between different racial and ethnic groups and between women and men,” he added, citing 2016 data that showed the median household income of non-Hispanic whites was $25,500 more than that of blacks, and the real median earnings of women were $10,000 lower than that of men.

“Clearly no examination of our economy, in light of justice, can exclude consideration of how discrimination based on race and sex impacts the just distribution of wages,” Bishop Dewane said, later citing three popes’ encyclicals on income and wages.

St. John XXIII in “Pacem in Terris” “described wages that ‘give the worker and his family a standard of living in keeping with the dignity of the human person,'” while St. John Paul II in “Laborem Exercens” “elaborated on the systematic implications of just wages, describing them as ‘the concrete means of verifying the justice of the whole socioeconomic system,'” Bishop Dewane noted.

“However, when a society fails in the task of ensuring workers are paid justly, questions arise as to the underlying assumptions of that system. A society that is willing to exclude its most vulnerable members, Pope Francis suggests in ‘Evangelii Gaudium,’ is one where ‘the socioeconomic system is unjust at its root.’ Pope Francis warns that absent a just response, these disparities can lead to deep societal divisions and even violence,” Bishop Dewane said.

He also cited the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which says, “Economic life is not meant solely to multiply goods produced and increase profit or power; it is ordered first of all to the service of persons, of the whole man, and of the entire human community,” and that the fact that workers and employers have agreed to a certain wage “is not sufficient to justify morally the amount to be received in wages.”

“The economy must serve people, not the other way around,” Bishop Dewane added. “Work is more than a way to make a living; it is a form of participating in God’s creation. If the dignity of work is to be protected, then the basic rights of workers must be respected, including the right to productive work, to decent and fair wages, to organizing and joining unions, to private property, and to economic initiative.”

The Christian’s task, Bishop Dewane said, was threefold: “to live justly in our own lives whether as business owners or workers. Secondly, we are called to stand in solidarity with our poor and vulnerable brothers and sisters. Lastly, we should all work to reform and build a more just society, one which promotes human life and dignity and the common good of all. We also need to recognize the gifts and responsibilities that God has entrusted to each of us.”

He added, “As Christians, we believe that conflict or enmity between the rich and the poor is not necessary or inevitable. These divisions are in fact sinful. But we live in the hope that our society can become ever more just when there is conversion of heart and mind so that people recognize the inherent dignity of all and work together for the common good.”

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Bishops of Atlanta province consider ways to lead in the face of crisis

08/30/2018 - 5:29pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Douglas Deas, for the Catholic Miscellany

By Christina Lee Knauss

CHARLESTON, S.C. (CNS) — Priests and bishops from the Province of Atlanta recently spent time considering the abuse crisis in the church, how to respond to it and how to best carry on in serving the faithful.

The discussion took place during the Provincial Assembly of Priests and Bishops, Aug. 20-22 at the Francis Marion Hotel in Charleston.

The gathering’s theme, “Catholic Parishes of the 21st Century,” was meant to give the prelates and clergy a chance to look at trends in thought and practice among people in the pews and develop more effective ministry at the parish level.

They reflected on that information against the backdrop of recent news, including the Pennsylvania grand jury report documenting sexual abuse in Pennsylvania dioceses, as well as Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick’s resignation in the wake of abuse allegations.

Discussions focused on ways to reach out to increasingly large and diverse parishes in the Southeast, how to reach millennials and others leaving the church and how to improve communication among pastors, parish staff and the laity. Workshops were led by Charles Zech and Michael Castrilli from the Center for Church Management and Business Ethics at Villanova University.

Participants said the information will be helpful as priests and bishops consider ways to help the church confront the latest crisis.

Atlanta Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory said in an interview with The Catholic Miscellany, diocesan newspaper of Charleston, that the meeting provided an important chance for the region’s leaders and clergy to talk and pray together during an era that he called “probably the most destructive moment we have faced as a church in our nation.”

Archbishop Gregory urged the faithful around the Atlanta Province to share their feelings and opinions in response to the abuse crisis.

“I would ask the people to speak boldly to their priests, to share their anger and their hearts’ concerns,” he said. “I would also ask them to face this moment with trust and confidence in Christ and not necessarily in individuals.”

Other bishops in attendance were Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone of the Diocese of Charleston, Bishop Peter J. Jugis of Charlotte, Bishop Luis R. Zarama of Raleigh and Bishop Gregory J. Hartmayer of Savannah, plus Atlanta Auxiliary Bishops Bernard E. Schlesinger III and Joel M. Konzen.

The clergy attended a Mass at St. Patrick Church on Aug. 21, celebrated by Archbishop Gregory. Many of the priests who attended concelebrated from the pews, reciting the prayers and extending their hands in prayer during the consecration. Members of the parish sat beside them and joined in song and prayer.

In his homily, Archbishop Gregory said it was more important than ever for the clergy and the laity to remember the value that Christ placed on humility. It is an important time, he said, for the church’s leaders to remember the importance of children and the respect owed to them.

“There is a different order in God’s kingdom, where being little is more important than being significant,” he said. “We have been reminded recently of that proper order, and the reminders have not always been easy. God continually calls us back to the order of his kingdom, where the little ones are the first and the important ones are their servants.”

During closed discussion periods, the priests had the chance to share their feelings and concerns about the recent abuse revelation with the bishops. Bishop Hartmayer said the emotions expressed ranged from anger to disgust.

“It was important for the priests to have the opportunity to share their concerns as to what is going to be done to prevent this moral crisis from ever happening again,” Bishop Hartmayer said.

Bishop Jugis said the assembly was valuable because it offered a chance both to confront the abuse crisis and consider ways to better serve the faithful in a province where the Catholic population is booming.

“It is beneficial for us to consider how to prepare for the growth that is still expected,” Bishop Jugis said. “I would ask both the clergy and the laity to remember that we are all here to serve Christ the Lord.”

Bishop Guglielmone said the assembly’s theme and the discussions on ways to confront the future were especially important.

“We recognize that for many people there may be anger and disappointment right now, and a fear that the church they knew and loved is falling apart,” Bishop Guglielmone said. “By looking at ways to make the parishes stronger, we’re also considering ways to rebuild the sense of trust in the people we serve, to focus on what we’re all about and to do what they have entrusted us to do, which is to spread the Gospel.”

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Knauss is a reporter at The Catholic Miscellany, newspaper of the Diocese of Charleston.

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Crowds pack rare Latin Masses sponsored by Oratory

08/30/2018 - 4:28pm
Crowds of Catholics, music lovers, and people curious about the history of the liturgy attended a Pontifical High Mass at Sacred Heart Church in Camp Washington Aug. 12, one of two pontifical liturgies that capped a sacred music retreat for singers from around the country. CT PHOTO/GAIL FINKE

By Gail Finke

Elaborate Latin Masses at two historic Cincinnati churches this month topped off a sacred music retreat for 50 singers from around the country.

Sponsored by the Cincinnati Oratory and its two parishes, the retreat featured Kevin Allen and Nicke Lemme, was coordinated by John Schauble, led by Msgr. Andrew Wadsworth as retreat master, and the retreat was held at the Saint Anne Retreat Center in Melbourne, Kentucky.  Allen, of Chicago, is one of the country’s foremost contemporary composers of traditional sacred music. Lemme is the Director of Music at the Priestly Society of St. Peter (FSSP) seminary in Denton, Nebraska. Schauble is the Director of Music for the Latin Mass at Cincinnati’s Sacred Heart Church and director of the Cincinnati Schola. And Wadsworth is a member of the Oratory-in-Formation in Washington, D.C., and director of the International Committee for English in the Liturgy (ICEL).

The retreat centered on the liturgy and music of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, the Mass in Latin and as celebrated before Vatican II. Unlike a traditional music workshop or series of classes, it also included time for prayer, daily Mass, daily Holy Hours, and the chance to sing the hours of the Divine Office. The goal was to explore “the spirituality inherent in participating in a parish choir,” said Brother Brent Stull, a seminarian for the Oratory who also directs choirs at Old St. Mary’s Church in Over-the-Rhine, “and the desire to seek the glory of God through music and singing and to draw souls to Christ.”

Twenty of the retreat participants came from Greater Cincinnati, Schauble said, and the rest from as far away as California, Texas, and Maryland. “Some were working on Master’s degrees or had Ph.D.s, and some were just choir singers who love to sing,” he said. “They all said they could not believe how profoundly meaningful it was, and many are asking when they can do it again.”

Bishop Edward Slattery, Emeritus Bishop of Tulsa (seated), celebrated both Masses Aug. 11 and 12. Some of the more than 20 men and boys necessary for the elaborate Mass are seen at right. CT PHOTO/GAIL FINKE

Much of the difference, Schauble explained, came from singing and praying the Divine Office. “The private liturgies were impatctful in ways they had not imagined,” he said. “Choirs sing the Mass, they don’t sing the Hours.” Seeing how the sung Mass fits in a daily pattern of sung prayer, he said, as is still done in many monasteries and convents, changes how a singer understands both the Mass and prayer itself. “Msgr. Wadsworth instruction was phenominal,” he added. “He explained how, for a liturgical choir, understanding the Divine Office is key.  Mass is the cornerstone, but the Divine Office surrounds it. Everything before the Mass leads up to it, and everything after it falls away from it. It was very intriguing to a lot of people.”

Bishop Edward Slattery, Emeritus Bishop of Tulsa, Oklahoma, celebrated the two different Latin Masses at the Oratory’s two parishes. These gave the singers a rare chance to sing at these liturgies, rather than perform the pieces at concerts.

Saturday, Bishop Slattery celebrated a Requiem Mass directed by the FSSP’s Lamme at Old St. Mary’s Church. The singers also sang Matins and Lauds for the dead before the Mass, giving many an opportunity to pray these hours with song.

A Requiem Mass features black vestments and a variety of special prayers. Sunday’s Mass at Sacred Heart, directed by Allen, was, instead, a typical pontifical Mass – although today, there is nothing typical about it.

A Pontifical High Mass retains liturgical customs from before the Council of Trent in the 1500s, including the bishop’s public vesting before the Mass begins. This custom dates to religious and official ceremonies before the birth of Christ. CT PHOTO/GAIL FINKE

A Pontifical High Mass is the most elaborate of all Latin Masses. The word “pontifical” in this context means “by a bishop,” although it can also mean a Mass celebrated by the pope. It requires a variety of special vestments and crowd of almost 20 men and boys, including a master of ceremonies and a priest who acts solely as the bishop’s assistant.

To be at a Latin Pontifical High Mass is to come as close as possible to participating in the Mass as our medieval forebears did. Brother Henry Hoffman, a seminarian studying for the Oratory, explained that it includes many elements that were dropped from most Masses not atfter Vatican II, but at Council of Trent in the mid-1500s. These include the way the bishop is vested in the sanctuary, “in a manner reminiscent of the way in which medieval kings were vested by their knights in preparation for battle.”

Sitting on a special stool that retains its medieval name of “faldstool” – literally, “folding stool,” a portable type of backless chair — a visiting bishop at a Pontifical High Mass is presented with and helped into a variety of vestments, some of which are rarely seen today. (In his own diocese, the bishop would sit on his throne, an elaborate chair with a tall back.) These include embroidered gloves, an amice and alb (white garments that go under the brocade vestments), and a tunic, dalmatic, and chasuble. These three garments are the garments of the subdeacon, deacon, and priest, and the bishop wears them all to show that “as the successor of the apostles, he possesses the fullness of Holy Orders,” said Hoffman.

Although rare today, being dressed in in elaborate ritual garments as part of a public ceremony is a custom that dates to long before the birth of Christ, Schabule said. “It’s a practice the church took and sanctified.” In the Pontifical High Mass, public vesting over a bishop’s purple cassock and white linen rochet makes visible that the bishop is representing, not himself, but the presence of Christ.

Hundreds of Catholics and non-Catholics crowded both Masses, which featured chant and polyphony in a variety of styles. “As Msgr. Wadsworth put it, the solemn pontifical Mass is the the full form of the Mass,” Schauble said. “It’s the ideal, desired in all circumstances, and everything else is a substitute for it.”

Bishop Slattery (third from left) and other priests celebrating the Mass pictured after Communion. CT PHOTO/GAIL FINKE

Shauble said that while choirs around the country will benefit from their singers’ participation in the retreat, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati will benefit the most. Half the participants came from the archdiocese and nearby dioceses, including all the singers from Schaubles’ choirs.

“This has given them a completely different perspective,” he said, “and these are already serious singers that keep a pretty intense schedule. I could not have asked for anything more for them, except that they and the other singers would form connections and relationships so that sacred music will grow, not just in one parish, but everywhere. We are making strides in supporting beauty and returning it to its proper place.”

Scroll down for more photos from the Aug. 12 Mass.

Bishop Slattery (in the red zucchetto), with local and visiting priests including Father Jon-Paul Bevak (top right) and seminarian Brother Henry Hoffman, both of the Cincinnati Oratory. CT PHOTO/GAIL FINKE A man sitting with the overflow crowd on one side of the church kneels during the Consecration. CT PHOTO/GAIL FINKE Catholics who attend area Latin Masses and Catholics curious about the history of the church worshiped together at the Mass. CT PHOTO/GAIL FINKE As is common in many European churches, and was common in the United States before the Second Vatican Council, a priest heard confession through the first part of the long Mass, and the line remained full. CT PHOTO/GAIL FINKE Some of the many altar boys who participated in the Mass kneel in the sanctuary. CT PHOTO/GAIL FINKE As a visiting bishop, Bishop Slattery sat on a faldstool (“folding stool”) rather than on a bishop’s throne, and remained seated for most of the Mass. Many of the now-unusual liturgical garments, including elaborate embroidered gloves, worn by a bishop in a Pontifical High Mass are visible in this photo. CT PHOTO/GAIL FINKE The rarely-seen liturgical umbrella, here carried by Master of Ceremonies Ashley Paver, is used in the brief procession from the altar to the side altar. The Cincinnati Oratory’s Father Jon-Paul Bevak, who acted as Bishop Slattery’s assistant during the two and a half hour Mass, wears another special vestment to carry consecrated hosts to the tabernacle at the side altar. CT PHOTO/GAIL FINKE At the beginning of the ceremonial vesting, some of the many priests, boys, and young men take their places int he sanctuary. Each has a specific job and position. CT PHOTO/GAIL FINKE

Archbishop Schnurr is interviewed on Sacred Heart Radio

08/30/2018 - 4:04pm

On Thursday, August 30, Archbishop Dennis Schnurr was interviewed on the morning show on Sacred Heart Radio 740 am. The Archbishop touched on many subjects that the church is dealing with. From the interview the Archbishop said, “I am continuing to hammer at this, the [McCarrick] file has to be opened . . . We have to find out what went wrong, who failed and why they failed.” For the full interview, go to

Faithful uphold the quiet tradition of lighting candles in churches

08/30/2018 - 3:22pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Emily Benson, The Evangelist

By Emily Benson

WESTMERE, N.Y. (CNS) — Linda Brown approached the candle stand at her parish, Christ the King in Westmere. She dropped a donation in the collection box and lit two candles.

Her husband, Ed, stood beside her as she bowed her head and said a silent prayer. He explained that the two candles were for his wife’s mother, who recently passed away, and their son Jason, whom they also lost.

Ed Brown told The Evangelist, newspaper of the Diocese of Albany, New York, that being able to light a candle says “we still remember” loved ones who have passed from this life to the next. Linda Brown agreed that the candle stand, a new feature at Christ the King that had been requested by parishioners, has been helpful to her.

“I think it’s comforting,” she explained.

The act of lighting candles is a quiet but ever-present tradition in the Catholic Church and beyond. Candles appear at makeshift memorials after a tragedy and at official memorials when Catholics gather to pray. Candles are used at every Mass; at the Easter Vigil each year, a special candle is lit from a new fire and its light passed to individual candles held by parishioners.

Candle stands are often tucked away in the corners of churches, but they make an important impact on the faith of many parishioners.

“Candles have a special place in our faith journey,” said Lou Ann Cleary, liturgy and music ministry director at Christ the King. “When I was a kid, I remember going and lighting a candle with my mom.”

The candle stand at Christ the King was recently added. People can light a two-hour candle for $1. A sign over the stand reads, “Lighting a candle can symbolize the remembering of a loved one or a petition of prayer we make to God. We ask the saints to pray with us and for us during our most dire need. The light of the candle prolongs our prayer beyond our presence in church and shows our desire to remain in God’s presence as we go about our day.”

Father James Fitzmaurice, pastor at Christ the King, said parishioners had asked about getting a candle stand for quite some time.

Candle lighting is “just kind of a tradition,” he said. “People would think of someone, an individual, as they lit a candle; or they say, ‘Oh, I’ll light a candle for you,’ so it’s for the living and deceased.”

Visitors also partake in the tradition. Cleary recalled that, when her son and his wife visited Christ the King for the first time, her daughter-in-law immediately asked whether there were candles available to light.

“What we remember about church is that you can go in and light a candle,” Cleary said.

At St. Mary Parish in Albany, many parishioners and guests light candles to remember lost loved ones or connect with God. A parishioner of Blessed Sacrament Church in Albany said she has lit many candles at St. Mary over the years: “It could be for a number of reasons — just to honor the blessed mother or Lord, or for my family.”

Candle lighting helps her, she said: “Oh my gosh, yes! I can’t live in a world without God’s graces.”

Joe Krivanek visits St. Mary Church on his lunch hour while working in downtown Albany. He lights a candle at the church about once every week.

“I just feel that it’s something to do” in memory of family and loved ones, he said.

Leo Wang of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Albany, also was lighting a candle at St. Mary Church on a recent afternoon. He said he does so every time he stops by the church.

“It is almost always for my family,” he told The Evangelist. The candle “is here when I’m not. I like to visit churches, but when I leave, it’s something here.”

Lighting a candle, Wang added, “is like signing a guest book” at a parish: though no else will know he lit a particular one, God knows he was there.

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Benson is a staff writer for The Evangelist, newspaper of the Diocese of Albany.

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Pope serene despite ‘pain’ over archbishop’s testimony, cardinal says

08/30/2018 - 2:22pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Alessandro Bianchi, Reuters

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — While recent accusations by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano have created tension in the Catholic Church, Pope Francis is approaching the situation calmly, the Vatican secretary of state said.

In an interview posted Aug. 30 by “Vatican Insider,” the online news supplement to the Italian newspaper La Stampa, Cardinal Pietro Parolin said that in situations like the current crisis “that obviously creates so much bitterness and worry,” the pope “has the ability to take a very serene approach.”

“From what I saw — I haven’t seen him today, but I have seen him in these days; I was with him during the trip to Ireland and after — he seems serene,” Cardinal Parolin said.

In an 11-page statement, published Aug. 26, Archbishop Vigano, who served as nuncio to the United States from 2011 to 2016, accused church officials, including Pope Francis, of failing to act on accusations of abuse of conscience and power by now-Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick. Archbishop Vigano claimed he told Pope Francis about Cardinal McCarrick in 2013.

Citing the rights of the faithful to “know who knew and who covered up (Archbishop McCarrick’s) grave misdeeds,” Archbishop Vigano also named nearly a dozen former and current Vatican officials — including Cardinal Parolin — who he claimed were aware of the accusations.

Speaking to reporters traveling back to Rome with him from Dublin Aug. 26, Pope Francis called on them to read Archbishop Vigano’s statement carefully “and make your own judgment.”

“I think the statement speaks for itself, and you have a sufficient journalistic ability to make a conclusion,” the pope said.

Cardinal Parolin said that “one can only express pain, great pain” in a situation in which a bishop makes serious accusations against the pope.

“I hope that we can all work in the search for truth and justice, that those may be the points of reference and nothing more,” the cardinal said.

However, when asked his opinion of the veracity of Archbishop Vigano’s accusations, Cardinal Parolin said he deferred to Pope Francis’ response.

“It is better not to enter into details on those things,” Cardinal Parolin said. “I repeat what the pope said: You must read and make your own judgments; what was written speaks for itself.”

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju

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Oregon church activities curtailed by smoke from wildfires

08/29/2018 - 4:30pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/DigitalGlobe, a Maxar company, handout via Reuters

By Ed Langlois

PORTLAND, Ore. (CNS) — Catholic churches and homes in southern Oregon are safe so far amid wildfires, but persistent smoke has suppressed activities — and spirits.

“It is horrible. It is absolutely grim,” said Ann Brophy, pastoral associate at Sacred Heart Church in Medford.

This is the fourth consecutive season of heavy smoke in the region. Brophy said this summer’s dose is the worst she has seen in her 30 years in Medford. “Children can’t go out and play,” she said.

Seniors have been intrepid about attending Mass at Sacred Heart, despite a dangerous and gloomy atmosphere for two months.

“They are trying to continue on with life,” Brophy said.

Like many in the region, Brophy has curtailed her daily walks and has a nagging cough. She notices few pedestrians, cyclists or dog walkers.

“It’s like a ghost town around here,” she said.

Blue skies emerge now and then. But since July, air flow has mostly covered the region with smoke from fires as close as Gold Hill and as far as British Columbia. Northern California blazes are contributing. Visibility often drops below a mile and on certain days, the region has some of the world’s worst air quality.

“It just keeps hanging in there,” said Debbie Todor, administrative assistant at St. Anne Parish in Grants Pass. “I have heard some people say they can’t get out because of smoke.” Plans for the Sept. 1 dedication of the new church in Grants Pass went ahead.

A fire in Gold Hill was miles away from St. Rita Retreat Center, but smoke has been “terrible,” said Father Stephen Fister, executive director of the retreat site. One group canceled a planned meditation retreat that would have brought people from all over the country.

Scratchy throats are common and some residents have discomfort in their chests as smoke particles cause inflammation in airways. Older people and children have been especially vulnerable.

Our Lady of the Mountain Parish in Ashland moved its summer picnic inside. Many outdoor performances of the town’s Oregon Shakespeare Festival have been relocated to a high school auditorium.

Mass attendance at Our Lady of the Mountain seems low, said Stephanie Hoffman, the business manager. “The smoke does get very tiresome,” Hoffman said.

Summer haze is starting to feel normal, said Joyce Marks, pastoral associate at Shepherd of the Valley Parish in Central Point.

“You go out to your car and there are ashes on the windshield,” she said. “People are just tired of it.”

Vacation Bible School at the parish drew 100 children, but they had to stay inside all week. “We had to be creative,” said Marks, who plans to hold the event before fire season next year.

Marks has noticed that elders are staying home more. Parish picnic attendance was down by half, and the fall festival may need to be postponed, depending on winds and air quality.

Throughout the region, prayers of the faithful often mention firefighters and those who have lost homes in northern California.

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Langlois is managing editor of the Catholic Sentinel, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Portland.

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Is there truth in Archbishop Vigano’s text and how are Catholics to know?

08/29/2018 - 3:55pm

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Catholics in the pews and even priests in the Vatican are confused about the long document Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano published claiming Pope Francis turned a blind eye to information he had about the sexual misconduct of now-Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick.

Pope Francis’ response to journalists Aug. 26 that they should read the document carefully, investigate and make their own decisions was not a big help.

Littered with repeated accusations about a “homosexual current” of cardinals and archbishops close to Pope Francis, the document’s central claim is that Pope Francis knew about Archbishop McCarrick’s abusive behavior as early as June 2013 and did nothing about it.

In fact, Archbishop Vigano said, Pope Francis, “in the case of McCarrick, not only did not oppose evil but associated himself in doing evil with someone he knew to be deeply corrupt. He followed the advice of someone he knew well to be a pervert, thus multiplying exponentially with his supreme authority the evil done by McCarrick.”

Archbishop Vigano states that in “2009 or 2010” Pope Benedict XVI “had imposed on Cardinal McCarrick sanctions similar to those now imposed on him by Pope Francis: the cardinal was to leave the seminary where he was living, he was forbidden to celebrate (Mass) in public, to participate in public meetings, to give lectures, to travel, with the obligation of dedicating himself to a life of prayer and penance.”

But such a sanction was never announced publicly.

It could be that Pope Benedict did not want to draw attention to behavior that was not public knowledge. But, as one canon lawyer at the Vatican told Catholic News Service Aug. 28, “at best it’s weird, an anomaly” not to publish a sanction that has public consequences, such as forbidding the cardinal to celebrate Mass publicly or make public appearances.

Yet, Cardinal McCarrick continued to celebrate Mass publicly in the United States and to visit the Vatican, even being part of group audiences with Pope Benedict and later Pope Francis. Also strange is the fact that Archbishop Vigano himself appeared at public events with then-Cardinal McCarrick, including at a May 2, 2012, gala dinner of the Pontifical Mission Societies in the United States, which honored Cardinal McCarrick as a “Pontifical Ambassador for Mission.”

Oblate Father Andrew Small, director of the Pontifical Mission Societies, told Catholic News Service Aug. 29 that neither Archbishop Vigano nor anyone from the nunciature tried to dissuade the societies from giving the honor to Cardinal McCarrick.

Clearly, if there were sanctions, they were not enforced. But the question remains, were there sanctions and did Pope Francis know about them before this summer when the Archdiocese of New York announced an investigation found credible evidence that Archbishop McCarrick sexually abused a minor?

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and many individual bishops have asked for a thorough investigation of the Archbishop McCarrick situation, including Archbishop Vigano’s claims.

“The questions raised deserve answers that are conclusive and based on evidence,” Cardinal DiNardo said Aug. 27. “Without those answers, innocent men may be tainted by false accusations and the guilty may be left to repeat sins of the past.”

In the eyes of many, the fact that Archbishop Vigano consulted with and was even assisted by journalists and bloggers who have worked publicly to oppose and discredit Pope Francis does not help his cause.

One of those involved was Aldo Maria Valli, author of the blog “Duc in Altum,” which has been very critical of Pope Francis since the publication of “Amoris Laetitia” on the family. Valli wrote Aug. 27 that Archbishop Vigano called him more than a month ago wanting to talk to him. Valli invited the archbishop to dinner at his home.

“He was worried about the church and feared that at its top there were people who were not working to bring the Gospel of Jesus to today’s men and women, but to sow confusion and give in to the logic of the world,” Valli wrote.

As they walked to the archbishop’s car at the end of the evening, Valli said Archbishop Vigano told him, “Don’t call me. I’ll get in touch with you.”

A month later, the archbishop called again. And during another dinner in the Valli home, “he cited the case of McCarrick, the former cardinal held guilty of serious abuse, and he let it be known that everyone — in the USA and the Vatican — knew about it for a long time, for years. And yet they covered it up.”

The archbishop said he would send a document to Valli to read and to publish or not as he saw fit. Valli said he asked if it would be an exclusive, and Archbishop Vigano told him, “No. I will give it to another Italian blogger, an Englishman, an American and a Canadian. There will be translations in English and Spanish.”

They spoke later and agreed on the date and time of publication, Valli said. “He decided on Sunday, Aug. 26, because the pope, returning from Dublin, would have an opportunity to reply, responding to the journalists’ questions on the plane.”

The other Italian blogger and papal critic, former journalist Marco Tosatti, told the Associated Press that he helped Archbishop Vigano edit the document for publication. The meeting Aug. 22, he said, came after a similar, earlier phone call and meeting like Archbishop Vigano had with Valli.

After the Pennsylvania grand jury report came out, Tosatti told AP that he told Vigano, “I think that if you want to say something, now is the moment, because everything is going upside-down in the United States. He said ‘OK.'”

The National Catholic Register, which is owned by EWTN, and the Canada-based LifeSiteNews also received the text in advance. The LifeSiteNews Rome-based writer did the official translation of Archbishop Vigano’s document into English.

The Register reported Aug. 25 that it had “independently confirmed that the allegations against McCarrick were certainly known to Benedict, and the pope emeritus remembers instructing Cardinal Bertone to impose measures but cannot recall their exact nature.” Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone was Vatican secretary of state.

But Archbishop Georg Ganswein, the retired pope’s personal secretary, told the German newspaper Die Tagespost Aug. 28 that Pope Benedict did not and would not comment on Archbishop Vigano’s document. The Register then replied that it never said Pope Benedict had read Archbishop Vigano’s report or that he had commented on it, only that Pope Benedict remembered wanting to impose sanctions of some sort.

Some things are clear: Archbishop Vigano’s document was prepared in consultation with at least one of the bloggers and journalists who were the first to publish it; the archbishop’s document is filled with rhetoric indicating a broader agenda than just ending clerical sexual abuse; and the release of the document was coordinated and timed to have maximum impact.

What is not clear is if there were sanctions imposed on then-Cardinal McCarrick and, if there were, did Pope Francis know about them. And as of Aug. 29, neither Pope Francis nor the Vatican press office has provided an answer.

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Follow Wooden on Twitter: @Cindy_Wooden

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Today’s Video: A historic night at McNicholas High School

08/29/2018 - 3:34pm

On Friday, August 24, 2018 for the first time the lights were on at Penn Station Stadium at McNicholas High School. The Rockets hosted the Goshen Warriors. It was a tough loss for McNick as they fell 21-7: however, it was a night of history!

Throughout the Football Season, check out The Catholic Telegraph’s Friday Night Lights in the Archdiocese with Scores, Schedules, and Standings by clicking here

Vocations in Ireland have dwindled due to abuse scandal, pope says

08/29/2018 - 2:00pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Alessandro Bianchi, Reuters

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — While the faith of Catholics in Ireland is strong, the scandal of abuse and cover-up by church leaders has caused a decline in vocations to the priesthood and religious life, Pope Francis said.

During his weekly general audience Aug. 29, the pope led pilgrims in praying a “Hail Mary” to Our Lady of Knock so “the Lord may send holy priests to Ireland, that he sends new vocations.”

“In Ireland there is faith; there are people of faith, a faith with great roots. But you know something? There are few vocations to the priesthood. Why? This faith doesn’t flourish because of these problems, the scandals, many things,” he said.

In his audience talk, the pope reflected on his visit Aug. 25-26 to Ireland for the World Meeting of Families.

The thousands of families participating from around the world, he said, were “an eloquent sign of the beauty of God’s dream for the entire human family.”

“God’s dream is unity, harmony and peace, the fruit of fidelity, forgiveness and reconciliation that he has given us in Christ,” the pope said. “In the mystery of his love, he calls families to participate in this dream and make the world a home where nobody is alone, unwanted or excluded.”

The witness given by couples during the meeting, he continued, was a reminder that love in marriage is a gift from God that is “cultivated every day in the domestic church” and spreads “its beauty in the great community of the church and of society.”

“How much is the world in need of a revolution of love, of tenderness!” the pope said. “This revolution begins in the heart of the family.”

Pope Francis said that although there were moments of great joy during his trip, there were also moments of “pain and bitterness” caused by the suffering endured by survivors of abuse and “the fact that church leaders in the past did not always know how to adequately address these crimes.”

His meeting Aug. 25 with abuse survivors left “a profound mark,” and he said he prayed for forgiveness “for these sins, for the scandal and the sense of betrayal” felt by survivors and members of the church.

“I prayed that Our Lady would intercede for the healing of victims and give us the strength to firmly pursue truth and justice,” the pope said.

The Irish bishops, he said, have taken “a serious path of purification and reconciliation” with those who have suffered and have worked alongside government authorities to establish “a series of severe norms to guarantee the safety of young people.”

“In my meeting with the bishops, I encouraged them in their efforts to remedy the failures of the past with honesty and courage, trusting in the promises of the Lord and counting on the profound faith of the Irish people, to inaugurate a season of renewal of the church in Ireland,” Pope Francis said.

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju

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Seek the Lord: September

08/29/2018 - 12:04pm

Summer is most associated with vacation and fun activities. Perhaps it is appropriate, then, that the unofficial end of summer is a holiday that celebrates workers – Labor Day. The Catholic Church, which honors St. Joseph the Worker with a feast day on May 1, has a good deal to say about work. 

     The documents of the Second Vatican Council, and papal teaching from Pope Leo XIII’s landmark “Rerum Novarum” in 1891 to Pope Francis’s “Laudato Sí” in 2015, all agree on certain basic principles: The economy must serve people, not people the economy. Work is fundamental to human dignity and a way by which humans participate in God’s creation. Workers have the rights to productive work, to decent and fair wages, to organize and join unions, to economic initiative, and to own private property.

     “Laudato Sí”is an encyclical about the environment, “on care for our common home.” But it also has a section called “The Need to Protect Employment.”  

     “We were created with a vocation to work,” Pope Francis writes. “The goal should not be that technological progress increasingly replace human work, for this would be detrimental to humanity. Work is a necessity, part of the meaning of life on this earth, a path to growth, human development and personal fulfillment. Helping the poor financially must always be a provisional solution in the face of pressing needs. The broader objective should always be to allow them a dignified life through work” (LS 128).

     On this Labor Day, we are blessed in the United States with a relatively low unemployment rate. Still, some people have been left behind. Even in a strong economy, one’s ability to find work can be hampered by insufficient education or training, failure at previous jobs, poor work habits, or a history of incarceration. Locally, nationally, and globally, the Catholic Church strives to increase employment opportunities, especially for these hard-to-place persons.  

      Through the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), the Archdiocese of Cincinnati has a decades-long history of supporting organizations and agencies which offer jobs and hope for such persons. 

     CCHD-funded organizations supply training and job placement to adults with chronic barriers to employment, provide support and services that lead to employment and self-sufficiency for returning (formerly incarcerated) citizens, work to win back wages wrongfully withheld from employees (“wage theft”), and train young men in construction skills while allowing them to earn an income.  

     These enterprises improve the lives of workers in concrete ways. I am very grateful to the faithful whose generous contributions to the CCHD have helped make many success stories possible over the years. At the same time, we must never forget the spiritual dimension of work. Someone who was well acquainted with both physical labor and its spiritual value was St. John Paul II. As a young man in Nazi-occupied Poland, over a four-year span, he held jobs at a restaurant, a limestone quarry, and a chemical factory. During part of this time, he was also studying for the priesthood in a secret seminary.   

      At the end of his encyclical on work, “Laborem Exercens,” St. John Paul says: “Let the Christian who listens to the word of the living God, uniting work with prayer, know the place that his work has not only in earthly progress but also in the development of the Kingdom of God, to which we are all called through the power of the Holy Spirit and through the word of the Gospel” (LE 27).

     Let us pray that all who seek fulfilling work will find it, and that all workers will be treated with the dignity they deserve as participants in God’s work of creation.  

Busca al Senor: septiembre

08/29/2018 - 12:02pm

El verano está más asociado con vacaciones y actividades divertidas. Tal vez sea apropiado, entonces, que el final del verano, no oficial, sea un día feriado que celebre a los trabajadores: el Día del Trabajo. La Iglesia Católica, que honra a San José Obrero con una fiesta el 1 de Mayo, tiene mucho que decir sobre el trabajo.

     Los documentos del Concilio Vaticano II y las enseñanzas papales del Papa León XIII en “Rerum Novarum” en 1891, guías a las del Papa Francisco “Laudato Sí” en 2015, coinciden en ciertos principios básicos: la economía debe servir a las personas, no las personas a la economía. El trabajo es fundamental para la dignidad humana y un medio por el cual los humanos participan en la creación de Dios. Los trabajadores tienen los derechos al trabajo productivo, a salarios dignos y justos, a organizarse y afiliarse a sindicatos, a la iniciativa económica y a poseer propiedad privada.

     “Laudato Sí” es una encíclica sobre el medio ambiente, “sobre el cuidado de la casa común”. Pero también tiene una sección llamada “La Necesidad de Proteger el Empleo.”

     “Estamos llamados al trabajo desde nuestra creación”, escribe el Papa Francisco. “No debe buscarse que el progreso tecnológico reemplace cada vez más el trabajo humano, con lo cual la humanidad se dañaría a sí misma. El trabajo es una necesidad, parte del sentido de la vida en esta tierra, camino de maduración, de desarrollo humano y de realización personal. En este sentido, ayudar a los pobres con dinero debe ser siempre una solución provisoria para resolver urgencias. El gran objetivo debería ser siempre permitirles una vida digna a través del trabajo” (LS 128). 

     En este Día del Trabajo, somos bendecidos en los Estados Unidos con una tasa de desempleo relativamente baja. Aún así, algunas personas se han quedado atrás. Incluso en una economía fuerte, la capacidad de encontrar trabajo puede ser obstaculizada por la falta de educación o capacitación, el fracaso en trabajos anteriores, malos hábitos de trabajo o un historial de encarcelamiento. A nivel local, nacional y global, la Iglesia Católica se esfuerza por aumentar las oportunidades de empleo, especialmente para estas personas difíciles de ubicar.

     A través de la Campaña Católica para el Desarrollo Humano (CCHD), la Arquidiócesis de Cincinnati tiene una historia de décadas de apoyar organizaciones y agencias que ofrecen empleos y esperanza para esas personas.

     Las organizaciones financiadas por CCHD ofrecen capacitación y colocación laboral a adultos con barreras crónicas al empleo, proporcionando apoyo y servicios que conducen a un empleo y  autosuficiencia para ciudadanos (anteriormente encarcelados) que regresan, trabajan para recuperar los salarios injustamente retenidos de los empleados (“robo de salarios”), y capacitan a los hombres jóvenes con habilidades en la construcción y al mismo tiempo les permiten ganar un ingreso.

     Estas empresas mejoran las vidas de los trabajadores de maneras concretas. Estoy muy agradecido con los fieles, cuyas contribuciones generosas a CCHD han ayudado a hacer posible muchas historias de éxito a lo largo de los años. Al mismo tiempo, nunca debemos olvidar la dimensión espiritual del trabajo. Alguien que estaba bien familiarizado con ambos, el trabajo físico y su valor espiritual era San Juan Pablo II. Cuando era un joven en Polonia ocupada por los Nazis, durante un período de cuatro años, tuvo trabajos en un restaurante, en una cantera de piedra caliza y en una fábrica de productos químicos. Durante parte de este tiempo, también estudiaba para el sacerdocio en un seminario secreto.  

     Al final de su encíclica sobre el trabajo, “Laborem Exercens,” San Juan Pablo dice: “El cristiano que está en actitud de escucha de la palabra del Dios vivo, uniendo el trabajo a la oración, sepa qué puesto ocupa su trabajo no sólo en el progreso terreno, sino también en el desarrollo del Reino de Dios, al que todos somos llamados con la fuerza del Espíritu Santo y con la palabra del Evangelio” (LE 27).

     Recemos para que todos los que buscan un trabajo satisfactorio lo encuentren, y para que todos los trabajadores sean tratados con la dignidad que merecen como participantes en la obra creadora de Dios.

Saints like Joseph Teach us About Trust

08/29/2018 - 12:00pm

The name Joseph has a long history in my family. Both of my parents were named Joseph (Josephine.) One great-grandfather and an entire herd of cousins bear the name. I was called “Little Joe” until I was 10 and passed Dad on the yardstick.

     When I think of St. Joseph, I imagine first a man of character, then a craftsman whose hands and imagination could create useful items like furniture, albeit rustic, without the benefit of a power tool. In the “Christ the Lord” novels of Anne Rice, (she of “The Vampire Chronicles” and other dark tales), Joseph and his sons build furniture for Romans, Greeks, and Hebrews, as well as homes, rooms, sheds and barns. He is multilingual and skilled at navigating the dangerous politics of an occupied nation plagued
by insurgencies.

     There’s a lot of material on Joseph, much of it speculation, some of it historical, and all of it interesting. Some portray him as a sturdy middle-aged man; others as an aged, almost feeble, caretaker. But in the canonical writings of the church, he is portrayed as a man who trusted God. 

     Imagine how much trust it took to accept Jesus’ incarnation by the Holy Spirit. And what great trust must it have taken to uproot him from his ancestral home to travel into Egypt to escape Herod’s evil infanticide. We’re told an angel came to Joseph in a dream, but how many of us trust our faith enough to hear God’s voice when He sends one of His messengers to us?

     When I reported to one of my favorite publishers, he told me earnestly, “Steve, after all of my years in newspapers, I still have only the tiniest idea about what goes on in a newsroom and what’s in the heads of the folks who make our paper each day. I trust (his emphasis) you to take care of that for me.”

     Trust imparts obligation. I resolved never to disappoint that man and to treat the people who reported to me with the same respect. So when the photographer who took photos of me for the announcement of my appointment asked me if I wanted to look at a proof sheet, I told him, “You’re
a professional. You pick the best photo.”

     My publisher’s trust was granted without qualification because he had learned to trust himself. Sometimes you have to earn the trust of others, but often that’s because they don’t trust their own choices. There’s a saying: We’re never more vulnerable than when we trust someone, but if we cannot trust, neither can we find love or joy.

     Our Catholic faith gives us saints, like Joseph, carpenter of Nazareth, as teachers, so we can find the joy that comes from trust in God. 

     While we’re on the subject of saints who displayed great trust in God, please look at our center spread this month to learn about the tour of the relics of St. Pio, which will be in our own Cathedral of St. Peter in Chains Oct. 3.

     Padre Pio, also known as Saint Pio of Pietrelcina (Italian: Pio da Pietrelcina), O.F.M. Cap. (May 25, 1887 – Sept. 23, 1968), was a friar, priest, stigmatist (one who suffers the wounds of Christ,) and mystic, and is now venerated as a saint of the Catholic church. Born Francesco Forgione, he was given the name of Pius (Pio) when he joined the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin.

     Padre Pio became famous for exhibiting stigmata for most of his life, thereby generating much interest and controversy. He was both beatified (1999) and canonized (2002) by St. Pope John Paul II. 

     You can learn more by looking at the center spread and visiting the websites mentioned on those pages in this month’s edition.

     Trosley is editor and general manager of “The Catholic Telegraph.”

What happened to the Minor Orders?

08/29/2018 - 11:57am

Q: In the last 50 years, various orders in the church, including porter, exorcist, and subdeacon, have disappeared. What is the theology behind these orders and why were they discontinued?

A: As early as the third century, certain roles of service, including deacon, subdeacon, lector, and acolyte, were present in the church. These orders over time became linked to preparation for the priesthood and were divided between “minor orders” (porter, exorcist, lector, and acolyte) and “major orders” (subdeacon, deacon, and priest). Each order was received and its function performed for a suitable time before a man was ordained to the priesthood. 

     The roles were varied but served a legitimate purpose in the early church, usually related to the Mass. For instance, the porter was the doorkeeper, responsible for opening and closing the church and guarding the door during the celebration of Mass. 

     The acolyte, in its original role, was responsible for lighting the candles around the altar.  He also accompanied the priest, bringing a candle near him so that he could read the proper prayers. The lector was set apart to read the sacred Scriptures during the liturgy. The subdeacon assisted the deacon and priest by helping set the altar, among other duties. Historically, as it signaled entry into major orders and proximate preparation for the priesthood, a seminarian made his promise of celibacy in receiving subdiaconate.

     Together the orders constituted ministries of service that developed in the church according to need. Yet over time, many of them lost their function. The orders, especially porter and exorcist, became symbolic. The loss of these functions occasioned a revision of the orders after the Second Vatican Council.

     In 1972 Pope Paul VI suppressed the four minor orders and replaced them with the two “special offices” or ministries: minister of the word (lector) and minister of the altar (acolyte). The role of the subdeacon was subsumed by the role of acolyte. The conferring of these ministries was no longer to be called “ordination” but instead “installation.”

     In reforming these offices, it seems that Pope Paul VI intended to open certain ministries to the laity, including the ministries of lector and acolyte. Such roles were no longer to be seen exclusively as markers along the pathway to the priesthood.

     However, in practice, the custom of officially instituting lectors and acolytes retained its connection to preparation for priesthood and diaconate. The laity, in part because these ministries are limited to men, were rarely installed in these roles. However, at the same time, it was acknowledged that these functions could be performed by other persons, even if not officially installed in these roles, when the celebration of the liturgy required it. This opened up the practice of lay men and women serving as lectors, acolytes, and eventually Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion. For the most part, the instituted ministers and those not instituted fulfill the same functions, but some privileges are extended only to instituted ministers (for instance, only instituted acolytes can assist with the purification of the vessels after Communion).

     Today, each year seminarians are installed as lectors and acolytes and serve in these ministries as preparation for holy orders. However, at the same time, in parishes throughout the archdiocese, men and women perform these same roles, not necessarily as a preparation for additional roles of leadership and service in the church, but for the benefit of their parish communities and their worship of God.

     Father Endres is dean of Mount St. May’s Seminary of
the West and the Athenaeum of Ohio. Send your question of faith to

St. Aloysius Shandon: Steadfast in life and faith

08/29/2018 - 11:55am
Archbishop Dennis Schnurr and concelebrating priests prepare the Holy Eucharist during the St. Aloysius Parish 150th Anniversary Mass in Shandon Saturday, June 2, 2018. (CT Photo/E.L. Hubbard)Archbishop Dennis Schnurr and concelebrating priests prepare the Holy Eucharist during the St. Aloysius Parish 150th Anniversary Mass in Shandon Saturday, June 2, 2018. (CT Photo/E.L. Hubbard)

By Walt Schaefer

     Over its 175-year history, St. Aloysius Parish in Shandon has grown in size and moved from a small church in the Butler County hamlet to a large one on a hillside out of town.

     But, parishioners agree, one thing has remained steadfast over the years – the character of its parishioners.

     “Our parish will always have people who will roll up their sleeves and put sweat equity into it,” said Katie Zboril, a member since 1984, when she was a young child. “It seems to draw that kind of person – a down-to-earth, involved, devout Catholic. They are very humble. I don’t think that would change in our future.

     “It’s an incredibly welcoming parish and that’s why it draws all of these people”. Zboril said. “There are so many opportunities for volunteering. You build relationships with people. You can make friends.”

     Zboril’s reflection of the parish’s character is well illustrated by Jack and Wilma Broering, who are retired and in their mid-sixties. The Mercer County natives grew up on dairy farms. The Broerings moved to Butler County from north of Ann Arbor, Mich., to be closer to their daughter, Julie Fogt, and her family.

     “There are more churches in Mercer County than, I think, anywhere the U.S.,” Jack said. “You can see five church steeples at any given place, and it’s very German Catholic. The focus is family and faith.”

     On their return to Ohio, the Broerings first attended a large suburban parish, but found the atmostphere too foreign. So they moved to St. Aloysius.

     “It’s more agricultural out here — what we’re used to. It’s a farming family community, where people appeared to us to be a little more farm friendly,” Wilma said. “We fit in better. If you came into our house right now, we’re in T-shirts and shorts. We are not dressed up. I don’t get my nails done. You’re talking to folks who just came in from outside gardening,”

      Jack noted he was drawn to St. Al’s “by the fact people come up to you and ask about you – so welcoming. There are so many activities here, as well: the summer festival, the fall festival, fish fries, Men’s Society. We do projects around church. It’s been so easy to get involved here, and for me, it was the fact people would come up to me and say, ‘Jack, what’s your story?’

     “It’s more like Mercer County – a good family and faithful kind of place.”

     Terrie Meyer, who chaired the 175th anniversary committee, credits pastor Father Jim Wedig for continuing parish traditions. 

     “Looking ahead into St. Al’s future, I see much of what I see in the present,” Father Wedig said. “Sure, technology will advance. There will be growth in some of our neighborhoods, but the family will remain much the same. We will still be frying chicken! We will still be proud of the way we work together. Most importantly, we will still be sharing the same faith. 

     “Our family will grow. There will be new families. We will continue to build our family with Queen of Peace, our regional sister, and in outreach with the Comboni Missionaries and with Healthy Moms and Babes. There will be other efforts, but still the same family — always growing, always in faith.”

     For its first 60 years, the parish had only about 20 families, but grew to 25 by 1934, and to 150 in 1968. In 1956, the parish had its first resident priest. The existing church was dedicated in January 1985 and today serves 720 families. Many of their children attend St. Joseph consolidated school in Hamilton. 

     “We need to continue to provide a good Catholic education for good Catholic families and continue sending that message to our parishioners, too,” Zboril said.

     Much of the focus at St. Aloysius is church family, and that means organizations such as the Catholic Order of Foresters thrive and provide volunteer and social opportunities for young and old.

     “St. Al’s has a very vibrant youth group,” said parishioner Jennifer Riesenberg. “It illustrates that this it is a very tight-knit community with everyone helping each other – young and old. It’s still a farming community and the farmers all know each other. It’s not changing a lot, but a little. It’s still the same group I grew up with, and now they’re having kids.” 

    St. Aloysius has two large events, a chicken dinner on the first Sunday of August, and a festival on the first Sunday in November, that date back to the early and mid 1900s.. “Last year we served 4,700 dinners,” Meyer said. “We also have a car and tractor show and that brings a lot of people. We have all kinds of booths, too. It’s packed.

     The festival, she said, “has lots of foods and booths. We have it in the shelter so we don’t have to stand in the muck as we did in the past. It’s great and it is not as big,” she said. 

     “When you look to the future, I see more people, more kids, and hope that the traditions of St. Al’s live on and thrive,” she said.  “Although the festivals and the other events are a lot of work, we have a lot of fun. Our friends from St. Al’s are our family. Most of us grew up in the same type of environment, with our parents being involved in their church and now us in ours. All of our kids see this, as well.”

     Sunday Masses at St. Aloysius are celebrated at 8 and 9:30 a.m.; Saturday Masses are at 5 p.m. Daily Masses and Communion services as scheduled.


Father William Dorrmann delivers the Holy Eucharist to a parishioner during the St. Aloysius Parish 150th Anniversary Mass in Shandon Saturday, June 2, 2018. (CT Photo/E.L. Hubbard)Father William Dorrmann delivers the Holy Eucharist to a parishioner during the St. Aloysius Parish 150th Anniversary Mass in Shandon Saturday, June 2, 2018. (CT Photo/E.L. Hubbard) Paisley Wanamaker, 5, sings during the St. Aloysius Parish 150th Anniversary Mass in Shandon Saturday, June 2, 2018. (CT Photo/E.L. Hubbard)Paisley Wanamaker, 5, sings during the St. Aloysius Parish 150th Anniversary Mass in Shandon Saturday, June 2, 2018. (CT Photo/E.L. Hubbard) Deacon Bill Brunsman carries the Holy Bible during the processional for the St. Aloysius Parish 150th Anniversary Mass in Shandon Saturday, June 2, 2018. (CT Photo/E.L. Hubbard)Deacon Bill Brunsman carries the Holy Bible during the processional for the St. Aloysius Parish 150th Anniversary Mass in Shandon Saturday, June 2, 2018. (CT Photo/E.L. Hubbard) A parishioner holds a program for the St. Aloysius Parish 150th Anniversary Mass in Shandon Saturday, June 2, 2018. (CT Photo/E.L. Hubbard)A parishioner holds a program for the St. Aloysius Parish 150th Anniversary Mass in Shandon Saturday, June 2, 2018. (CT Photo/E.L. Hubbard)


Permanent deacon FAQ

08/29/2018 - 11:24am

Who is a deacon?
There are three groups, or “orders,” of ordained ministers in the Catholic church: bishops, priests, and deacons. Deacons are ordained as a sacramental sign to the church and to the world of Christ, who came “to serve and not to be served.”

 What do deacons do?
As ministers of Word, deacons proclaim the Gospel, preach, and teach. As ministers of Sacrament, deacons baptize, lead the faithful in prayer, witness marriages, and conduct wake and funeral services. As ministers of Charity, deacons marshal the church’s resources to meet those needs.

Are deacons paid?
No. The permanent diaconate, from formation to retirement, is entirely voluntary and without remuneration.

Do some deacons become priests?
For centuries; ordained ministers “ascended” from one office to another, culminating in ordination to the priesthood, and the diaconate was one of those temporary offices. The Second Vatican Council authorized the restoration of the diaconate as a permanent order of ministry.

So, while men in formation for the priesthood are still ordained as transitional deacons, other men are now formed as permanent deacons. More than 18,000 men in the United States alone minister in this order.

May married men be deacons?
Yes. The Second Vatican Council decreed that the restored permanent diaconate could be opened to “mature married men” (now defined as men over 35). 

In keeping with the ancient tradition of the church, while a married man may be ordained a deacon, he may not remarry if his wife dies. 

How do I  become a deacon?

The best place to start is with your pastor, who can put you in touch with Deacon Mark Machuga, Director of the Permanent Diaconate Office. Call him at (513) 321-3131, ext. 2641; or send an email to  

St. Lawrence, patron of deacons, suffered a martyr’s death in Rome

08/29/2018 - 11:19am

One of the first deacons of Rome, St. Lawrence was one of the victims of the persecution of Valerian in 258. 

At the beginning of the month of August, 258, the emperor issued an edict, commanding that all bishops, priests, and deacons should immediately be put to death (“episcopi et presbyteriet diacones incontinenti animadvertantur.” This imperial command was immediately carried out in Rome. 

Pope Sixtus II was apprehended Aug. 6 in one of the catacombs, and executed immediately. Two other deacons, Felicissimus and Agapitus, were put to death the same day. 

In the Roman Calendar of feasts of the fourth century, their feast day is on the same date. Four days later, on the Aug. 10, Lawrence, the last of the original deacons, also suffered a martyr’s death. A native of Spain, he was tortured and died on a hot grill.

His feast falls on that day, according to the Almanac of Philocalus for the year 354, the inventory of which contains the principal feasts of the Roman martyrs of the middle of the fourth century. The text also says his grave is to be found on the Via Tiburtina. 


Media Catholics of the 20th century

08/29/2018 - 10:17am
Ven. Patrick Payton (center) is pictured with Jack Benny and Lucille Ball, who appeared in one of his Family Radio productions, in the 1940s. (COURTESY PHOTO)

Father Rob Jack, host of the new afternoon drive-time show on Cincinnati’s Sacred Heart Radio, lists the following “media Catholics” as his models:

Ven. Fulton Sheen
Bishop of Rochester, New York, and titular Archbishop of Newport, Wales, Sheen hosted one of the most popular television shows ever to air, “Life is Worth Living,” after two decades of hosting “The Catholic Hour” on NBC Radio. The Cause for his sainthood was opened in 1998.

Frank Duff
After founding the now-worldwide Legion of Mary in 1921, Duff wrote several books and pamphlets, hundreds of articles, and thousands of letters about Marian devotion. The Cause for his sainthood was opened in 1996.

Frank Duff’s pamphlet on “The DeMonfort Way” is one of his many Marian pamphlets and letters. (COURTESY PHOTO)


Mother Angelica
Foundress of Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN), Mother Angelica of the Annunciation was the head of a community of Poor Clare sisters in Alabama when she began her cable network in 1981. It expanded into international television, radio, and newspaper publishing before her death in 2016 at age 92.

Ven. Patrick Payton
Known as “the Rosary Priest,” the Holy Cross Father founded the Family Rosary Crusade, recorded many radio programs and films, held massive rosary rallies, and originated the motto, “The family that prays together stays together.” The Cause for his sainthood was opened in 2001.


Bl. James Alberione, who founded numerous Pauline religious institutes, was known for media apostolates. (COURTESY PHOTO)

Bl. James Alberione
Founder of more than 10 religious institutes in the Pauline Family, Father Alberione was known for using mass media to evangelize. Two of his communities, the Society of St. Paul and the Sisters of St. Paul, are particularly known for publishing and other media apostolates. He was beatified in 2003.

Click to read our companion stories, “Station’s longtime goal: a priest on the radio every day,” and “Don’t touch that dial: Catholic radio station seeks to own drive time.”

Archbishop Fulton Sheen, one of the most popular broadcasters of all time, appeared on the cover of this 1951 issue of TV Guide. (COURTESY IMAGE)