Archbishop: Family ministry is giving more love to those most in need

By Cindy Wooden

Archbishop Blase J. Cupich of Chicago arrives for a session of the Synod of Bishops on the family at the Vatican Oct. 14. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) See SYNOD-SECOND-REPORTS Oct. 14, 2015.
Archbishop Blase J. Cupich of Chicago arrives for a session of the Synod of Bishops on the family at the Vatican Oct. 14.

Chicago Archbishop Blase J. Cupich told reporters that something his mother once said might give the Synod of Bishops a way to balance the need to affirm church teaching while reaching out to those who are struggling.

The archbishop said Oct. 16 that his mother was asked if she loved one of her nine children more than the others. “Only if they need it,” she responded.

“That’s the way mothers speak,” the archbishop said, and that is the way the church needs to speak to families, especially to those who feel excluded or in need of extra attention. “The greatest contribution bishops can make to families is to act and speak like families act and speak,” he said.

At the same time, he said, the Catholic Church cannot “accompany, integrate and reconcile” people whom it does not know and with whom it is incapable of communicating.

“If we are going to really accompany people, we have to first of all engage them. In Chicago, I visit regularly with people who feel marginalized, whether they are the elderly or the divorced and remarried, gay and lesbian individuals, also couples. I think that we need to really get to know what their life is like if we are going to accompany them.”

But underlying all the outreach activity, he said, “We have to believe in the mercy of God and the grace of God to trigger conversion.”

The questions of ministry to homosexuals has come up in the synod, Archbishop Cupich said. “That discussion, it is clear to me, needs to mature in the life of the church. If we are really going to accompany people, we have to first of all engage them.”

“The words accompaniment, integration and reconciliation continue to be repeated in the synod,” he said, and the church needs to find a way to transform those words into real action on behalf of all people, including people who are gay or the divorced and civilly married “or other people who feel disenfranchised.”

On the issue of finding possible ways to lead the divorced and civilly remarried back to full participation in church life, including reception of the sacraments, Archbishop Cupich said synod members have been clear in their positions and those positions are diverse. Some, like the German bishops, see it as an urgent obligation for the church while others say it is impossible without weakening church teaching on the indissolubility of marriage.

The divorced and remarried, he said, must be ministered to on “a case-by-case basis.”

General principles are essential, he said, but ministry — like a mother’s love — adapts to meet the needs of real-life situations.

Some Catholics need their bishops and priests to speak clearly and firmly, while others need their ministers to demonstrate humility and a desire to search together for the best way to live out God’s call, he said.

The pull of those two demands is something the archbishop said he has felt for 40 years as a priest. Archbishop Cupich added that he had an archbishop friend who claimed he wanted his tombstone to read, “I tried to treat you like adults.”

“We really do have to have an adult Catholic response to living the Christian life. That is, I think, where the Holy Father is leading us. We have the means by which we can help people come to decisions — important decisions — about how they live their Christian life” through prayer and discernment.

Religious education “cannot be just about giving people the fixed doctrines,” he said. It must also show them “the path the church has outlined for making prudent decisions. We have documents that really do help us do that,” including a document from the International Theological Commission from 2009 on natural law and moral decision-making.

In a section on “The moral dispositions of the person and his concrete action,” the document discusses the formation of the conscience with an explanation of moral norms, but also how the person must be helped to apply those norms in his or her real life.

“We can’t just refer to doctrines as though they are syllogisms that we deduce a conclusion to,” Archbishop Cupich said. “There has to be the integration of the person’s circumstances, case by case.”

Asked if the case-by-case approach also applies to pastoral ministry to homosexual persons, the archbishop responded: “Gay people are human beings, too, and they have a conscience. And my role as a pastor is to help them discern what the will of God is by looking at the objective moral teaching of the church, yet at the same time helping them — through a period of discernment — to understand what God is calling them to at that point.”

“We have to make sure that we don’t pigeonhole one group as if they aren’t part of the human family, as though there is a different set of rules for them,” he said.

Complete Article HERE!

Italian civil union bill finally reaches parliament

By Crispian Balmer

italian parliament

A bill to give legal recognition and protection to same-sex couples was presented to parliament on Wednesday, a significant milestone on Italy’s tortuous path to legalising civil unions.

Italy is the only major country in the West that has not yet offered homosexual couples any legal rights as successive governments ran into determined opposition from parties close to the Roman Catholic Church.

Prime Minister Matteo Renzi had promised that a bill allowing civil unions would become law this year, but that looks highly unlikely, with his main coalition partner, a small centre-right group, fiercely opposed to the project.

However, looking to speed up the process, the government on Wednesday briefly presented its bill to the upper house Senate, a move which could open the way for its approval in early 2016.

“We are finally here with a civil union bill that is very strong,” said Senator Monica Cirinna, author of the text.

“It is not exactly equal to other marriages, which I would have preferred, but it is a bill that recognises all social rights,” she told Reuters.

While stopping short of sanctioning full gay marriages, the legislation offers some of the benefits enjoyed by married couples, such as a share of a deceased partner’s pension and automatic inheritance.

The bill would also apply to unmarried heterosexual couples.


One major sticking point is that the draft law would allow a homosexual to adopt the child of their partner should that partner die. The coalition New Centre-Right (NCD) party says this will eventually pave the way to full adoption rights and has sought to block it in a parliamentary commission.

Breaking the logjam, Renzi’s Democratic Party (PD) decided this week to halt discussion in the commission, bypass hundreds of amendments and bring the text to the full house.

From the end of this week, the Senate calendar will be dominated by discussions over the 2016 budget, but the civil rights law should be able to return to the chamber before the end of the year and then move to the lower house for debate.

A number of opposition parties, including former premier Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia group, have said they support the plan, meaning it should pass relatively easily when it finally comes to a vote, despite Roman Catholic opposition.

The parliamentary move coincides with a meeting in the nearby Vatican of bishops called to discuss the role of the family. The Church has warned there will be protests if the law passes and Pope Francis said this month that marriage between a man and a woman was “God’s dream for his beloved creation”.

NJ archbishop sets rules for barring Catholics from Communion

File under: Grandstanding Idiot


Archbishop John J. Myers of Newark, N.J., addresses Pope Francis at the conclusion of Mass at the Pontifical North American College in Rome on May 2, 2015. Photo by Paul Haring, courtesy of Catholic News Service
Archbishop John J. Myers of Newark, N.J., addresses Pope Francis at the conclusion of Mass at the Pontifical North American College in Rome on May 2, 2015. Photo by Paul Haring, courtesy of Catholic News Service

Even as Pope Francis and Catholic leaders from around the world debate ways to make the Catholic Church more inclusive, Newark Archbishop John Myers has given his priests strict guidelines on refusing Communion to Catholics who, for example, support gay marriage or whose own marriage is not valid in the eyes of the church.

In the two-page memo, Myers also orders parishes and Catholic institutions not to host people or organizations that disagree with church teachings.

He says Catholics, “especially ministers and others who represent the Church, should not participate in or be present at religious events or events intended to endorse or support those who reject or ignore Church teaching and Canon Law.”

The new rules could raise eyebrows given that Francis is currently leading a high-level Vatican summit, called a synod, where he and some 270 bishops are debating whether to let divorced and remarried Catholics receive Communion, and how to be more welcoming to cohabiting and gay couples whose lives don’t conform to Catholic teaching.

The guidelines could also up the ante for the coming election season, when Catholic candidates who support abortion rights or gay rights are sometimes challenged by conservatives over whether they should receive Communion.

A spokesman for Myers said in an email on Tuesday (Oct. 13) that the archbishop saw this as an opportune moment to set out the guidelines for priests in the northern New Jersey archdiocese.

“With so much being generated in the media with regard to issues like same-sex unions and such, this memo about ensuring that Catholic teaching is adhered to in all situations — especially with regard to the use of diocesan properties and facilities — seemed appropriate,” James Goodness, a spokesman for Myers, said in an email.

LetterArchdiocese of Newark Memorandum

Archdiocese of Newark Memorandum

The memo is titled “Principles to Aid in Preserving and Protecting the Catholic Faith in the Midst of an Increasingly Secular Culture.” It is dated Sept. 22 and was sent to priests this week, according to a source who provided a copy to Religion News Service.

In the memo, Myers writes: “The Church will continue to cherish and welcome her members and invite them to participate in her life to the degree that their personal situation permits them honestly to do so.

“Catholics,” he continues, “must be in a marriage recognized as valid by the Church to receive Holy Communion or the other sacraments. Non-Catholics and any Catholic who publicly rejects Church teaching or discipline, either by public statements or by joining or supporting organizations which do so, are not to receive the Sacraments.”

Myers issued these guidelines even though he is scheduled to retire next July when he turns 75, turning over the reins to Archbishop Bernard Hebda.

In 2013, Francis named Hebda a “coadjutor archbishop” — meaning he would automatically take over when Myers left office — after a series of controversies that angered many priests and parishioners in the 1.4 million-member archdiocese.

In one instance, Myers was criticized for allowing a priest — who was under court order to stay away from children — to work with youths, and in another he was criticized for using church funds to pay for pricey renovations to a retirement home.

Complete Article HERE!

The mystery surrounding the letter allegedly sent by cardinals criticising Synod procedure

By andrea tornielli

According to a list of names published by Vatican commentator, Sandro Magister, the letter was signed by thirteen cardinals. But four of the men mentioned – Scola, Vingt-Trois Piacenza and Erdö – denied signing the document. The incident underlines the importance of Francis’ call for this “hermeneutics of conspiracy” to stop

synod heads

Thirteen cardinals – Synod Fathers – are said to have sent a letter to Pope Francis, expressing their doubts about the procedures followed in the current Synod on the family and raising fears of piloting with the aim of obtaining “predetermined results”. The cardinals were apparently especially keen to know about the composition of the commission tasked with drafting the concluding text. They asked that the rapporteurs of the language-based discussion groups be elected, not nominated (the possibility of having non-elected was nominees was wafted about by some media circles on the eve of the Synod but it was never considered seriously).

The letter was published in full by Vatican commentator Sandro Magister, along with a complete list of the letter’s signatories: Carlo Carlo Caffarra, Archbishop of Bologna, Thomas Cardinal Collins, Archbishop of Toronto, Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York, Wim Cardinal Eijk, Archbishop of Utrecht, Péter Cardinal Erdö, Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest and Relator General of the Synod, Gerhard Cardinal Müller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Wilfrid Cardinal Napier, Archbishop of Durban and one of the presidents delegate of the Synod, George Cardinal Pell, Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, Mauro Cardinal Piacenza, Major Penitentiary, Robert Cardinal Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Angelo Cardinal Scola, Archbishop of Milan, Jorge Cardinal Urosa Savino, Archbishop of Caracas, André Cardinal Vingt-Trois, Archbishop of Paris and one of the presidents delegate of the Synod.

But four of these figures denied their names were on the letter sent to the Pope. The Archbishop of Milan, Angelo Scola’s spokesman issued a statement on his behalf, confirming that he had signed no such letter. Later, the Archbishop of Paris, André Vingt-Trois, also denied having signed the letter, in a statement to French Catholic newspaper La Croix’s Vatican commentator. Then, in the late morning, the Major Penitentiary Cardinal Mauro Piacenza also denied signing the text. In a statement to Vatican Insider, he said he had not signed the letter, nor was he invited to do so. In the early afternoon, the General Rapporteur of the Synod, Cardinal Péter Erdö, also said his signature was not on that letter. Following each of these statements, Sandro Magister removed the signatories’ names from the list in his article.

In their letter, the cardinals – who gave their assurance that their concerns were shared by other Synod Fathers too – criticise the Instrumentum laboris, the Synod working document, stating: “it also has sections that would benefit from substantial reflection and reworking”. They criticise “the new procedures guiding the synod seem to guarantee it excessive influence on the synod’s deliberations and on the final synodal document”.

“The new synodal procedures,” the letter reads, “will be seen in some quarters as lacking openness and genuine collegiality”. Although the cardinals do not mention specifically which “quarters” they are referring to, it is clear that these doubts are their own.  “In the past, the process of offering propositions and voting on them served the valuable purpose of taking the measure of the synod fathers’ minds. The absence of propositions and their related discussions and voting seems to discourage open debate and to confine discussion to small groups; thus it seems urgent to us that the crafting of propositions to be voted on by the entire synod should be restored. Voting on a final document comes too late in the process for a full review and serious adjustment of the text.”

In another paragraph of the letter, cardinals write: “the lack of input by the synod fathers in the composition of the drafting committee has created considerable unease. Its members have been appointed, not elected, without consultation. Likewise, anyone drafting anything at the level of the small circles should be elected, not appointed.”

In turn, these things have created a concern that the new procedures are not true to the traditional spirit and purpose of a Synod. It is unclear why these procedural changes are necessary. A number of fathers feel the new process seems designed to facilitate predetermined results on important disputed questions.”

Finally, cardinals express their “concern that a synod designed to address a vital pastoral matter – reinforcing the dignity of marriage and family – may become dominated by the theological/doctrinal issue of Communion for the divorced and civilly remarried. If so, this will inevitably raise even more fundamental issues about how the Church, going forward, should interpret and apply the Word of God, her doctrines and her disciplines to changes in culture.”

The Secretary General of the Synod, Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri and the Pope himself responded to this letter in the Synod Hall the following day. Baldisseri explained that the signatories were off the mark in the comments about procedural changes to do with the commission in charge of drafting the final document and about the appointment of rapporteurs in the circuli minores.

Regarding the first objection, Baldisseri explained that until the Extraordinary Synod of 2014, three or four people from the General Secretariat had been in charge of writing the final document. It was Francis who wanted to expand this task, assigning one Synod Father from each continent. The commission was never elected by the Synod Fathers. In addition, the prediction some media circles close to the signatories made about the failure to elect rapporteurs and moderators from the language-based discussion groups (circuli minores), proved to be mistaken. As in 2014, the rapporteurs and moderators of the circuli minores, were elected by the Synod Fathers and not appointed. And the reports issued by these circles were published in full like last year.

Readers will recall Francis’ reference to a “hermeneutics of conspiracy”, defining it as “sociologically weak and spiritually unhelpful”. In other words, it is exactly the opposite of what the Synod Fathers are called to do and all these suspicions about conspiracies and plotting needs to stop. His words were welcomed with applause.

The Pope pointed out that “Catholic doctrine on marriage has not been touched, no one called it into question in this assembly or in the Extraordinary assembly. It has been preserved in its integrity”. He also urged Synod Fathers not to let themselves “be conditioned or limit” themselves, “seeing the question of communion for remarried divorcees as the only problem”.

Complete Article HERE!