A Farewell to a great man

I want to take a moment to acknowledge the death of famed British neurologist and author, Oliver Sacks.

1993: Portrait of British-born neurologist and author Dr Oliver Sacks standing in the admittance driveway of Beth Abraham Hospital with his arms crossed over his chest, New York City. (Photo by Nancy R. Schiff/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
1993: Portrait of British-born neurologist and author Dr Oliver Sacks standing in the admittance driveway of Beth Abraham Hospital with his arms crossed over his chest, New York City.

In February, he wrote an op-ed in The New York Times revealing that he was in the late stages of terminal cancer, after earlier melanoma in his eye spread to his liver.

“It is up to me now to choose how to live out the months that remain to me,” he wrote. “I cannot pretend I am without fear. But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved; I have been given much and I have given something in return; I have read and traveled and thought and written. I have had an intercourse with the world, the special intercourse of writers and readers.”

Earlier this summer I read Dr Sacks’s memoir, On the Move. I love it. It’s an interesting memoir by a fascinating personality. And while reading I discovered that we had a dear friend in common, Thom Gunn. What a small world! So I decided to send him a note.

Dear Dr Sacks,

I just finished reading your memoir, On The Move. What an amazing life you’ve lived.on-the-move-by-oliver-sacks

Of all the marvelous things you’ve done and all the fascinating people you mentioned in your book nothing surprised me more than your close friendship with Thom Gunn. I was a friend of Thom too and I lived directly across Cole Street from him. I moved to the flat at 1207 Cole Street in 1979. At the time I was working on my doctorate in clinical sexology at the Institute For The Advanced Study of Human Sexuality in San Francisco.

I didn’t know Thom well at first. However, I would regularly see him walking both in our neighborhood and elsewhere in town. He was always in his leathers, rain or shine, and used to think to myself, “What a mensch!”

It finally dawned on me that he lived across the street from me.

Once he saw me in my roman collar. (I was ordained a catholic priest in 1975 at the age of 25 in Oakland, CA. I had come out to my local superiors; I was a member of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, before I was ordained. Like I said, I was working on my doctorate to become a sex therapist and prepare for an upfront gay ministry.) Thom smiled at me when he saw me; I blushed and told him what I just told you. He was fascinated, but I also believe he thought I was a twit. He probably was right.

I knew nothing about Thom other than he was my neighbor. Then one day I was in a bookstore on Haight Street and there was a photo of Thom in the window advertising a reading. That’s when I started asking around about him. Despite his cult status within the gay community, he was the most unassuming person. I was honored to have a personal connection with him.small_front

I finished my doctorate in 1981. My dissertation, Gay Catholic Priests; A Study of Cognitive and Affective Dissonance was directed by Wardell Pomeroy. A firestorm of media attention followed. The media branded me as THE gay priest, as if. I think Thom read about me in the New York Times because next time he saw me he clapped me on the back and said, “Well done.”

No sooner did I complete my doctorate, and because of the media attention my public coming out caused, the leadership of my religious community in Rome began a process of dismissal against me. I was devastated and lost. I was even getting death threats. Thom was always so supportive and encouraging.

I fought the church for the next thirteen years in an effort to save my priesthood and ministry. Alas, the writing was on the wall back in 1981 and it was only a matter of time till they had their way with me. I wrote about the travail in a book that was published in 2011, Secrecy, Sophistry and Gay Sex In The Catholic Church: The Systematic Destruction of an Oblate Priest.

Thom was always so solicitous about my wellbeing. He knew how difficult life had become for me. And both of us found ourselves on the forefront of caring for friends who were dying of AIDS. One of my landlords died in 1986.

Thom introduced my housemate and I to Augie Kleinzahler and his girlfriend, Caroline Lander, who lived only a few blocks from us in Cole Valley. We all became great friends and copious amounts of strong drink were consumed. I wonder, do you know Augie?

When Thom turned sixty I surprised him with a homemade German chocolate cake. I told him he was the oldest person I knew. This made him laugh and he called me a whippersnapper.

In 1992 the surviving landlord sold the Cole Street duplex and I and my housemate moved to Oak and Ashbury. Sadly, I didn’t get to see Thom as much as before. I move up here to Seattle in 1999 because I could no longer afford to live in SF. I was deeply saddened to learn of Thom’s death in 2004. He was such a great guy, what a marvelous soul.

Again, thank you for your memoir; it was grand getting to know you on a personal level. I read The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat when it came out in the mid-eighties and loved it. But I never guessed you and Thom knew each other or that you actually visited him when I lived across the street from him. What a small world. I wish I had known you back then.

Anyhow, thank you for the bringing me this unexpected flood of memories of Thom. I wonder what he would have made of yesterday’s Supreme Court decision (Obergefell v. Hodges). I contend that we got marriage equality only because we walked through AIDS first. I think Thom would have agreed with me.

All the best,

Richard Wagner, M.Div., Ph.D., ACS

To my astonishment, Oliver wrote back; I mean that literally, a handwritten note. Apparently, he never used a computer.

Dear Dr. Wagner (can I say Richard?), 6/60/15

I am greatly interested and greatly moved, by your letter — your courage in being honest and forthright, at a time and on a subject bound, sooner or later, to cause your ejection from the priesthood. In another few years perhaps, with Pope Francis at the helm, these last bastions of Catholic bigotry may have fallen.

I like to think of you as living across the street when I visited Thom, and glad to know that he appreciated you and your works. I still miss him deeply — there were not too many people with whim I could be entirely open — and I like to think that his ghost is pleased that my title came from his poem. (I find it a huge relief being open now to all and sundry {Oliver came out earlier this year} — I am so glad I completed my book before I became ill).

And what a liberation, an affirmation for us all that the Supreme Court voted as it did. I suspect that Ruth Bader Ginsberg, quite ill now, stayed on to ensure the 5/4 decision.

Thanks for your letter and my very best wishes,


Oliver Sacks01 Oliver Sacks02

Click on this link to see a copy of Oliver Sacks’s note.

Thank you Dr Sacks and farewell!

Vatican ex-envoy Wesolowski dies ahead of abuse trial

Jozef Wesolowski

Jozef Wesolowski, a former archbishop and Vatican envoy to the Dominican Republic, has died before he could be tried for child sex offences.

He had been taken ill just before the start of his Vatican trial in July.

He was accused of paying for sex with children in the Dominican Republic.

Wesolowski, 66, would have been the first high-ranking church official to be tried on paedophile charges. His case was seen as a test of the Vatican’s pledge to stamp out abuse.

Last year, the Pope compared the actions of those who commit such crimes to a “satanic mass”.

Vatican court where Wesolowski was due to have been tried
Wesolowski was due to have been tried at a court set up by Pope Francis

Wesolowski was reportedly found dead early on Friday morning. A Vatican statement (in Italian) said preliminary indications were that he had died of “natural causes”.

Wesolowski was charged with abusing children in the Dominican Republican between 2008-13.

He was also charged with possession of child pornography, dating from his return to Rome in 2013.

He was due to have been tried under a new court system, set up by Pope Francis, to try clerics and employees of the Church who have been accused of exploiting minors.

If convicted, he could have faced between six and 10 years in jail.

Wesolowski had already been convicted over abuse by a church tribunal and defrocked as archbishop.

Complete Article HERE!

St. Mary’s reverses policy on gay employment after backlash over rescinded hire

By Melissa Binder


Update: This post has been updated with the latest information about reconciliation between the school and Lauren Brown.

The St. Mary’s Academy board voted Wednesday night to change the school’s policy on hiring gay employees after facing backlash over the administration’s decision to rescind a job offer to a gay counselor.

Students and high-profile donor Tim Boyle, CEO of Columbia Sportswear, had earlier condemned the choice not to employ 27-year-old Lauren Brown.

In response, administrators brought the board together and recommended members vote to expand the hiring policy.

Administrators have filled the position they originally offered to Brown, academy President Christina Friedhoff said, but will be reaching out to Brown and her attorney to discuss options for reconciliation.

In July, the Roman Catholic high school reversed its plans to make Brown an academic adviser after learning she was gay, the job applicant said. Friedhoff said the decision was made when Brown indicated she intends to get married.

Brown’s attorney said the 27-year-old had accepted the position in April and signed an employment contract. Friedhoff said the position was offered in April and a contract was sent to Brown, but administrators never received a signed copy.

Regardless of the precise reason or whether Brown had signed a contract, the decision not to hire her didn’t sit well with students. St. Mary’s families learned about the situation Tuesday night when the administration emailed parents.

“I was confused, then I started to get angry,” said Anna Lee, a 17-year-old senior. “There’s an unspoken rule of acceptance. The teachers make us feel safe, and we can confide anything.”

About a dozen students showed up Wednesday morning to decorate a statue outside the school with rainbow heart glasses and a St. Mary’s hoodie with “FREE TO BE ME” taped on the front. The teens said the decision didn’t reflect the social justice values of St. Mary’s.

Online, opponents quickly adopted the hashtag #FightForSMA and organized protests via Facebook.

The original decision could have had financial implications for the school. Major donor Tim Boyle, CEO of Columbia Sportswear, said Wednesday afternoon in a statement that he and his wife had been “extremely disappointed” and believed the original decision should be reversed.

“Recently, one of us participated in a successful public forum hosted by St. Mary’s addressing how to prepare St. Mary’s students for the work force of the future,” Boyle said in a statement to The Oregonian/OregonLive. “The news this week is an example of how to not prepare students.  There is no place in the workplace of today, or of the future, for discriminating against an individual based on sexual orientation.”

Mike McClory, an attorney who specializes in employment law at Bullard Law in Portland, spoke to The Oregonian about whether Oregon employers can legally discriminate against prospective employees based on sexual orientation.

McClory said that generally a religious-based school can give a preference to a person of that religion and also would have a “ministerial exception” for anything that relates to instruction.

The administration remained relatively tight-lipped throughout Wednesday. President Christina Friedhoff said earlier Wednesday evening that leaders were “holding ongoing serious discussions.”

“As a community of compassion, our hearts are breaking today,” she said.

In a statement early in the day Wednesday, Friedhoff said:

“St. Mary’s nurtures the Catholic identity, practice, culture and mission on which we were founded. We understand that others may hold different values, and we respect the right of individuals in society to do so. At the same time, as a Catholic high school we are obligated to follow current Catholic teachings regarding same-sex marriage in our employment practices.”

The school’s official Facebook page and Twitter account were suspended by 7 a.m. Wednesday.

Complete Article HERE!

Archbishop Charles Chaput: The Hardliner

Pope Francis has unleashed a Vatican Spring. But Charles Chaput, leader of Philadelphia’s 1.5 million Catholics, seems to have other ideas.

All Pat Smiley wants is a chance to meet with him, to make her case, to be heard — that’s all any of them want, really. But Archbishop Charles Chaput, the head of Philadelphia’s Catholic Church, can be a difficult man to pin down. There have been dozens of closings of Philadelphia Catholic churches since 2010. Some of these churches haven’t been well-attended for many years, and Church coffers have been in steep decline; no one disputes that the local archdiocese has serious financial problems, though no one except Church bean counters knows all the numbers. There are also other problems, of course: the sexual-abuse scandal of the last decade, on top of a Church that operates more and more at odds with contemporary culture — especially concerning the “pelvic issues,” meaning acceptance of gays and birth control and women priests and allowing male priests to marry. There is great doubt and unrest even among the remaining faithful.

Pat Smiley’s church — St. Joachim, the oldest Catholic church in the Northeast — closed two years ago. She still doesn’t really know why.

Pat has tried and tried to find out, writing long emails to Archbishop Chaput since St. Joachim was shuttered, seeking a meeting with him to plead her case on reopening one of the only Catholic churches in Frankford. Perhaps this is too much to ask; Chaput, after all, is supposed to pastor to 1.5 million Catholics in five counties in Southeastern Pennsylvania. But Pat Smiley, once a Catholic-school teacher, now retired, keeps writing to the archbishop; and the archbishop, who rises early and often answers emails well before dawn, had at least been writing back. Though not with answers that satisfied her.

In her emails, Pat is unfailingly polite, and unfailingly forceful, in making her case. The last one — the last one that got a response from Archbishop Chaput, that is — read, in part:

Your Excellency:

Thank you for your letter dated June 1, 2015. We … know that those who advised you that the closing and selling of the churches as a way to stave off bankruptcy had good intentions but this has resulted in ill-fated outcomes, especially in relation to the pastoral care of souls and those most marginalized by society. If there are other reasons for these actions, no one has ever explained them to us. Thus, we are left to believe what seems obvious. Our “useless activity” stems from your own expressed belief that “If laypeople don’t love their Catholic faith enough to struggle for it in the public square, nothing the bishops do will finally matter.” …

We are told the laity needs to be as responsible as the clergy for the Church yet when taking that responsibility seriously, we are criticized for being disloyal.

Archbishop Chaput, who was respectful toward Pat initially, quickly became frustrated with her even as he kept writing back. Finally, on June 18th, 2015, two years into their correspondence, he wrote:

Dear Patricia,

You really don’t seem to have basic common sense. It’s really inappropriate of you to quote me to myself. I know what I said and I assure you what I said doesn’t apply to you.

You are single-minded in what you want to do but that single-mindedness has also blinded you to reality.

Patricia, I’m not going to respond to any more of your letters. You’ve done that to yourself by being so unreasonable.

Father Higgins [her pastor] also told you he wasn’t going to respond to you because you just don’t leave well enough alone. I do promise to keep you in my prayers but I won’t respond.

God bless you.

Sincerely yours in Christ,
Charles Chaput

This was, as a longtime Philadelphia friend of Archbishop Chaput’s says, clearly the response of a man pushed to the brink. (The archbishop declined through a spokesman to be interviewed.) Yet Pat Smiley, and many other frustrated parishioners like her who are trying to forestall the closings of their churches, or have problems with the way their archdiocese continues to handle the sexual abuse of children by priests or can’t abide the archbishop’s rigid stand on those pelvic issues, don’t feel like they are asking for too much. They believe they are pushing — forcefully, yes — to take part, and that if they can’t change what they believe is wrong, at the very least they want to feel like they’re being heard.

It is, really, a simple request, for Pat Smiley herself knows that some churches and schools in the archdiocese need to be closed, that a Church seriously leaking members and money has to address the problem. What she fundamentally wants is to be included in the discussion.

Because she believes that those days of her Church making decisions in secrecy, of not bringing parishioners’ thoughts and feelings and ideas into consideration, especially when something so significant as church closings is in play, are over.

Archbishop Chaput seems to disagree.

CALL IT THE Vatican Spring, a breath of renewal. “I like this Pope” — it’s a sentiment voiced near and wide by Catholics and non-Catholics alike regarding the man at the top. How odd that the profound possibilities of his strict faith have been given such a bump in a simple, human way, by dint of just how approachable, real and kind Pope Francis seems to be.

Charles Chaput comes from an older time and place — even if, at age 70, he is almost a decade younger than the Pope. By way of both personality and belief, Philadelphia’s archbishop is a kick-ass conservative.

Part Native American — his mother was a member of the Potawatomi Prairie Band, and she called him Windy, short for Rustling Wind — Chaput grew up in Concordia, Kansas, studied with the Capuchins (for whom obedience is key), and would eventually serve as bishop in Rapid City and then archbishop in Denver, where his profile grew nationally. Chaput championed elected officials bringing their faith into political life — rebuking, for example, Catholic officeholders who declared themselves pro-choice. He lambasted Notre Dame in 2009 for awarding pro-abortion Barack Obama an honorary degree. He spoke out nationally against gay marriage and stem-cell research. And he argued against softening Church teaching simply because we live in a softer time; in a speech delivered not long before he took the job of archbishop in Philadelphia in 2011, Chaput said that Church-affiliated charities “have the duty to faithfully embody Catholic beliefs on marriage, the family, social justice, sexuality, abortion and other important issues.” He backed that stand up this summer with his very public support for the firing of a longtime teacher at local Catholic school Waldron Mercy because she is gay and married to another woman.

Philadelphia’s archbishop, it turns out, is in complete agreement that the Church is at a point of reckoning, that fundamental change is necessary. But he thinks of this in a diametrically different way from progressives — and from his own pope. His Church, Chaput believes, needs to go back to Scripture, not attempt to broaden the Catholic tent to please a changing world. As his friend in Philadelphia, who has had many discussions of theology with Chaput over the years, puts it: “He believes in the straight truth, the straight story. The Gospel is the Gospel. And with everything he says and does, that’s the guiding principle, and he doesn’t impose himself on that.”

Chaput chose a demanding, simple life. As archbishop of Denver, he built himself a small rancher with a driveway for his dented 15-year-old Chevy, white with a red interior, in which he traversed the 40,000 square miles of northern Colorado he was responsible for. He lived alone and traveled alone, as befits his calling, but Chaput is a creature of contemporary culture: In Philly, he treats himself to a drive-through lemonade from McDonald’s (he’s been spotted in a white Buick) or draws stares at Applebee’s when he shows up alone, not wearing his collar, for a quick dinner. He loves science fiction, and theater. He has no use for opera. He has a problem with Game of Thrones — it’s boring, and the archbishop can’t stand to be bored. The summer humidity in the East drives him crazy, and the winter stirs up allergies. His favorite actress is Sophia Loren. He drinks Michelob Ultra.

All of this describes, of course, a person with a mix of oddities and habits much like anyone possesses, though Chaput also happens to live alone in St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, in the rooms where retired Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua died, with white walls adorned only with Native American art. Most of his friends live elsewhere — it’s tough making new ones here, given his job. Most local people either kiss up to Chaput or are furious with him over one thing or another. In many ways, it’s a solitary life.

But he is a very busy man. Chaput sleeps from 10 at night to 4 a.m. and then he’s at it, reading emails and the news (he’s a junkie), writing to parishioners. He’s not happy unless he has a challenge to wake up to. Unless, in fact, he’s in the throes of a good fight.

Back in Denver, Chaput became a no-holds-barred defender of the Church in the sexual-abuse scandal that hit Catholic dioceses across America at the beginning of this century. Which, in turn, has a lot to do with him landing in Philadelphia four years ago.

Jeff Anderson, a lawyer who has represented many sexual-abuse victims of priests nationwide, including some in Denver, says that Chaput initially appeared sincerely interested in outreach to begin the healing. But costs in Denver mounted: The archdiocese paid out at least $8.2 million during Chaput’s tenure to settle clergy sexual-abuse claims or lawsuits.

“Chaput started deploying hardball tactics,” Anderson says. “He went after survivors. I rarely see, in cases like this, that survivors are beaten down.” But in cases where survivors tried to remain anonymous, identifying themselves as Jane or John Doe, Denver archdiocese lawyers interviewed family members, neighbors and employers. Confidentiality was summarily breached.

In 2006, Chaput was instrumental in stopping a bill in the Colorado legislature that would have granted adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse a new two-year window — even if the statute of limitations had already passed — in which to sue their abusers. Chaput came up with a novel approach, the most aggressive lobbying effort against overriding statutes of limitations Anderson has seen: He convinced the powerful state teachers union that they, too, could be at risk for a rush of lawsuits, and with their help, Chaput won. There would be no two-year window.

Late that same year, Chaput was invited east to Harrisburg to give the homily at an annual Mass, sponsored by the St. Thomas More Society, made up of Catholic lawyers. Chaput spoke to the movers and shakers about their duty to the Church. “Stuffing your Catholic faith in a closet when we enter the public square or join a public debate isn’t good manners,” he told them in his typical blunt manner. “It’s cowardice.”

So Chaput was the take-charge conservative plucked by equally conservative Pope Benedict to head the Philadelphia archdiocese in 2011, when Justin Rigali aged out of his lax tenure here. Chaput had shown himself to be tough enough to deal with the continuing fallout of the archdiocese’s sexual-abuse crisis, and its mounting financial problems. Part of his mandate was to balance the books of the archdiocese, and the problems were much worse than the archbishop anticipated. (The archdiocese was said to have $400 million in debt, much of it related to pensions.)

Chaput brought in a team of financial auditors from Denver to do a six-week analysis; they ended up staying eight months.

It has not been an easy time for him. “Anyone else would have dropped dead,” Chaput’s longtime Philadelphia friend says. Four months into the archbishop’s tenure here, the friend remembers watching him at the front of the public room of the Chancery on 17th Street the day the Archdiocese announced it was closing or merging some 40 schools. Chaput’s cell phone was already buzzing, no doubt (and in the next few days, he would get thousands of emails from enraged parishioners), and the archbishop looked rattled; usually, his cross hangs on his chest, but on this day, there in the Chancery, the cross was in his suit pocket, and he reached into the pocket, grabbed it, and closed his eyes in a solitary prayer. “Anyone else would have dropped dead from stress or heartbreak or a heart attack,” the friend says. “Or from being completely alone. Because no decision has been easy. Even if it’s something that he had nothing to do with, it all comes down on him, at the end of the day.

“His public email — it’s the first thing he sees in the morning, and the last thing at night.”

NOT THAT HE started backing down.

In early February of last year, John Wisniewski sent an email to the archbishop citing more than a dozen issues he has with the closing of his church, St. Laurentius in Fishtown, founded in 1882 by Polish immigrants. Chaput emailed back immediately:

John, you are impossible to talk to since you have already made up your mind and you write about these things in categories that are not true but simply serve your point of view. That is why Msgr. Rodgers says to you that a conversation will not be possible. …

Try to be understanding and charitable, John. I will not respond in [an] ongoing way to the same kinds of email as the one you sent.

God bless you.


Wisniewski responded:

Archbishop, I am amazed you (or your representative) read and assimilated my entire correspondence and letter in 16 minutes. Not one of you has tried talking to me or anyone else. I have made statements of fact which collaboratively paint a picture of archdiocesan indiscriminate decision making, dishonesty and arrogance. Tell me which are erroneous. …

The archbishop:

Your response is rather typical, John. I will pray for you because you need to reflect on who is really arrogant.

God bless you.


It is, of course, foolish to think of an archbishop as necessarily possessing a gentle, kindly approach simply because he’s an archbishop. Yet you wonder why Chaput feels so compelled to lay the wood on parishioners who beseech him with questions and demands when they are in obvious pain over losing their churches, the places where their grandparents worshipped, where they got married, where their children received their first Holy Communion. John Wisniewski is a courteous-seeming 61-year-old father of four who works as a nurse anesthetist. He says that if he ran into Chaput on the street, “I would beat the crap out of him, if I saw him. I have such disgust for this man.” Wisniewski blanches at his own raw emotion, then smiles ruefully: “I’ll probably go to Hell for that. But I’ll take the chance.”

Chaput’s tone makes it hard to imagine this pope and this archbishop standing together before the two million who may come to Philadelphia late this month. Their personal history is thin, though it goes back to 1997, when Chaput, recently appointed archbishop of Denver, gave a speech at the Vatican on how the Church must strive for greater simplicity. Jorge Mario Bergoglio — soon to be archbishop of Buenos Aires, now Pope Francis — was sitting two seats away from him. After the speech, he grabbed Chaput and said, “I like that.” They became long-distance friends.

But that hasn’t stopped Chaput from seeming to criticize Pope Francis, or at least the forces he’s unleashed in the Church. Last October, after the Pope encouraged an open debate among 190 cardinals and bishops gathered at the Vatican on Church teachings on gays and remarried Catholics, Chaput, who wasn’t part of it, said publicly that he was “very disturbed by what happened” at that synod. “I think confusion is of the Devil,” he said, “and I think the public image that came across was one of confusion.”

Classic Chaput: willing to take on even his pope in what many Church insiders see as a direct rebuke of the Pontiff.

What’s more, Peter Borre, a Catholic canon-law consultant who has traveled the country advising parishioners faced with the closing of their churches, has heard ominous rumblings from the Vatican on his frequent visits there. Chaput, Borre says, has been told to cease and desist shuttering churches in the months leading up to the Pope’s visit to Philadelphia, but that hasn’t stopped the archbishop from trying to bring a wrecking ball to St. Laurentius this summer. (It was halted by the Philadelphia Historical Commission.)

And there’s something else, something that also seems part and parcel of Chaput’s method — or at least of the reputation he’s developed. He went to Rome in February to meet with high-level Vatican officials, and the archbishop told them he must have a free hand on church closings and the laicization of priests or there could be “trouble” in the course of the Pope’s visit to Philadelphia.

That’s the story that circulated, at any rate, of what Chaput said at the meeting. It was relayed to Peter Borre by an official who was in attendance, and its meaning is open to interpretation. Was the archbishop just posturing? Would he really try to put a dent in the Pope’s public portrayal of a Church warming toward those forever left out?

On Easter, Chaput took a sunny public line on the matter. “I’m hoping … that the visit of the White Father here will be the beginning of a new evangelical energy in the Church of Philadelphia,” he told ABC News. But isn’t Pope Francis, Chaput was asked, thought of as a bit of a reformer — maybe a liberal, even?

“He certainly is a reformer,” the archbishop responded. “Pope Francis is calling all of us to reform our personal lives, in relationship with God, but also, in a more obvious way, to care for the poor.” Certainly nothing confrontational in those sentiments.

It seems quite likely that Archbishop Chaput and Pope Francis will join hands here in late September for all the world to witness. Since, after all, it appears the archbishop has been left alone in Philadelphia, to run his archdiocese as he sees fit.

Complete Article HERE!

At pallium Mass, Cupich calls for mercy toward nontraditional families

Archbishop Carlo Viganó formally presented the pallium to Archbishop Blase Cupich during a ceremony in Chicago on Aug. 23. (John Pham / Saint Joseph College Seminary)
Archbishop Carlo Viganó formally presented the pallium to Archbishop Blase Cupich during a ceremony in Chicago on Aug. 23.

By Michael O’Loughlin

CHICAGO – Catholics must avoid being rigid, embrace change, and show mercy, not harsh judgment, toward nontraditional families.

That was the message from Chicago’s Archbishop Blase CupichSunday afternoon after receiving his pallium, a wool stole that is a piece of liturgical regalia symbolizing his connection to the pope, from the papal ambassador to the United States.

In a 15-minute homily, Cupich said bishops and other Catholics should avoid “absolutizing one particular era” by remembering the richness and diversity of their faith.

At the same time, the Church should be “open to new avenues and creativity when it comes to accommodating families, particularly those who are broken, those who have suffered” and “not settle for solutions that no longer work, expressions that no longer inspire, and ways of working that stifle creativity and collaboration.”

He cited St. John XXIII, a reformer pope credited with ushering the Catholic Church into the modern era with his launch of the Second Vatican Council, and Pope Francis, highlighting his calls to protect the environment and to find new approaches to pastoral ministry.

Cupich said that John XXIII, canonized by Francis last year, “called the entire Church to a fresh appreciation of the ancient teaching of the medicine of mercy in an era when many in the Church preferred the narrow path of severity and condemnation.”

Cupich’s remarks were delivered just weeks before Pope Francis’ visit to the United States next month and the Synod on the Family at the Vatican in October, to which Cupich is expected to be named a delegate by Pope Francis.

It’s at the synod that bishops will continue a discussion of family life, including hot-button topics such as Communion for divorced-and-remarried Catholics, contraception, and sexuality — discussions that began last fall.

It was against this backdrop that Cupich described the Church today as “a community that goes after the lost sheep.”

“The task is not just to find them and bring them home,” he said, “but to lift them up high, to shoulder level, where they can begin to see and live a new life, a life of faith.”

Speaking to nearly 20 other bishops, dozens of priests from across Illinois and from his former diocese of Spokane, Wash., and to hundreds of worshipers gathered in the pews, Cupich said the Petrine ministry reminds us “of the whole story of God’s mighty deeds, which continues to develop in every age under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.”

Sunday’s nearly two-hour ceremony marked a new way of conferring the pallium — a white wool stole — on archbishops.

For more than three decades, newly appointed archbishops traveled to Rome to receive the stole each June 29, the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, but Pope Francis announced changes earlier this year.

Although Cupich and other newly appointed archbishops received their palliums when they traveled to Rome in June, they do not don them until the pope’s US ambassador, or nuncio, presents the stole formally during a ceremony in the bishops’ home archdioceses.

The pallium contains six black crosses, three of which are adorned with gold pins symbolizing the nails used in Jesus’ crucifixion. Some of the wool is taken from lambs the pope blessed on the feast of St. Agnes, and the ends are colored black to mimic a lamb’s hoof, symbolic of an archbishop’s role as shepherd.

Archbishop Carlo Viganó, the nuncio, called the pallium “a symbol of unity of your archbishop with the Holy Father.”

Cupich was appointed by Pope Francis to lead the nation’s third largest archdiocese — the Chicago area boasts more than 2 million Catholics — last November. The two met for the first time during a lengthy tête-à-tête in Rome in June.

Complete Article HERE!