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Book Review: Visually rich compilation of Marian apparitions is full of spiritual ‘gems’

null / "The World of Marian Apparitions: Mary's Appearances and Messages from Fatima to Today"

Denver Newsroom, Sep 8, 2021 / 11:50 am (CNA).

Sophia Institute Press and Polish theologian Wincenty Laszewski have successfully completed the task of creating the most ambitious, graphic-rich and beautifully printed compilation of Marian apparitions to date.

In its colorful 405 pages, "The World of Marian Apparitions: Mary's Appearances and Messages from Fatima to Today" immerses the reader in occasions in which the Virgin Mary either authoritatively or probably has shown signs of her presence and her love for us.

"The World of Marian Apparitions: Mary's Appearances and Messages from Fatima to Today"
"The World of Marian Apparitions: Mary's Appearances and Messages from Fatima to Today"

Adam Blai, the author of "The Catholic Guide to Miracles: Separating the Authentic from the Counterfeit" (Sophia Institute Press, 2021), sets the theological stage for the unique experience provided by the pictures, graphics and testimonies that Laszewski has curated with great care.

Blai explains that Marian apparitions generally include four components: the visionary, the experience, the message, and the miracles.

“But within this framework, there has been a wide variety,” he writes. 

“The messages are almost always centered on prayer and repentance, but sometimes they include dire warnings for the world. The accompanying miracles vary widely, from enduring images to onetime spectacles, but they are almost always testable by outside experts, so the Church and the world have some proof that something extraordinary happened."

Blai provides a key to understand some of the Marian messages included in the book, such as the possible apparition of Trevignano Romano in Italy in 2019, in which the Virgin Mary is said to have warned: “Pray for China, because new diseases will come from there.” 

"What most people do not know is that, although only a handful of apparitions have been officially approved — ten by local bishops and sixteen by Rome in some way — there have been hundreds of accounts of Marian apparitions down through the centuries,” Blai explains.

“Sometimes the supposed apparitions generated some local interest, but no investigation was undertaken; sometimes there has been disagreement between diocesan and Vatican authorities." 

The ongoing case of Medjugorje, in Bosnia-Herzegovina, from 1981 to today is a complicated version of this latter case, explains Blai.

"As of 2020, Rome has approved pilgrimages to the site, but final full approval has been withheld until the apparent visions conclude and the case can be studied in its entirety,” Blai writes.

Laszewski and the editors carefully navigate this complex reality and provide the images and the facts, using a cautious, conditional presentation when necessary. Thus, the book includes a visible legend next to each of the 48 reported apparitions, based on nine different qualifications, ranging from "A revelation recognized by the Vatican" to "A revelation accepted by the belief of pilgrims."

This beautiful book can be read and reread with true spiritual freedom. In the process, you are sure to find many gems, as I found in this statement attributed to the Blessed Mother: “I feel in my heart — and it fills me with great sorrow — with what falsity and hypocrisy the holy Rosary is recited. Prayer cannot be a careless tune. It has to be sweet music flowing from the heart.”

Justice Department pledges to 'protect' women seeking abortions in Texas after pro-life law takes effect

Attorney General Merrick Garland / Justice Department

Denver Newsroom, Sep 7, 2021 / 14:30 pm (CNA).

Attorney General Merrick Garland on Monday vowed to “protect” women seeking abortions in Texas, days after a new state law went into effect aiming to prohibit most abortions after six weeks. 

While the Justice Department “urgently explores all options to challenge” Texas’ new law and “protect the constitutional rights of women and other persons, including access to an abortion," the agency will enforce a 1994 law prohibiting the obstruction of abortion clinics, Garland said in a Sept. 6 statement.

“We will not tolerate violence against those seeking to obtain or provide reproductive health services, physical obstruction or property damage in violation of the FACE Act,” Garland wrote. 

Texas’ new “heartbeat” law does not allow physical intimidation or harm against women seeking abortions. Rather, the law allows for private citizens to sue over abortions performed after the detection of a fetal heartbeat - which can occur as early as six weeks gestation. 

Citizens may take legal action against those performing or assisting in illegal abortions, including against those providing financial assistance. However, those who impregnated the women undergoing abortion through “rape, sexual assault, incest, or any other act” may not bring a lawsuit.

The law allows for at least $10,000 in damages in successful lawsuits. Women seeking abortions cannot be sued under the new law. 

Last Wednesday, a Supreme Court majority ruled that the abortion providers challenging the Texas “heartbeat” law had not made a sufficient case for relief from it, and declined to block the law in a 5-4 decision. 

The court majority emphasized that it was not judging the constitutionality of the law itself, but rather the case for relief from the law.

In response, President Joe Biden – a Catholic – directed his administration to examine “what steps the Federal Government can take to ensure that women in Texas have access to safe and legal abortions.” 

Biden said he was directing his White House Gender Policy Council, as well as the White House counsel, “to launch a whole-of-government effort to respond to this decision,” reviewing “what legal tools we have to insulate women and providers from the impact of Texas' bizarre scheme of outsourced enforcement to private parties.”

In recent weeks, the pro-abortion groups suing over the law, represented by the Center for Reproductive Rights, had failed to successfully block the law in the lower courts. Among the groups challenging the law is the Massachusetts-based Satanic Temple, 

Texas Right to Life’s website, which included a link soliciting tips on alleged illegal abortions, was reportedly flooded with fake tips, spam and pornography last week before hosting site GoDaddy shut it down for allegedly violating its terms of service. The pro-life organization has since moved its site to another host, the group said; the website, prolifewhistleblower.com, now redirects to the group's main page.

As the new law went into effect, pro-life groups said they were ready to assist women facing unexpected pregnancies.

“NIFLA’s network of more than 1,600 pregnancy centers and medical clinics stands at the ready to help mothers and babies in a post-Roe America. We are here to empower the choice of life,” said Thomas Glessner, president of National Institute of Family and Life Advocates. The group provides legal counsel, education, and training to more than 1,600 pregnancy centers nationwide.

US bishops launch 'Civilize It,' answering Pope Francis' call for 'a better kind of politics'

Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City (Left) and Bishop James Wall of Gallup (Right) pray before the afternoon session of the 2019 USCCB General Assembly, June 12, 2019. / Kate Veik/CNA

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Sep 7, 2021 / 13:30 pm (CNA).

The U.S. bishops’ conference on Monday launched a new initiative to promote civility amid political polarization, appealing to Pope Francis’ 2020 encyclical Fratelli tutti.

“My hope is that this initiative will assist all of us as we seek to ‘become neighbors to all,’ as the Holy Father calls us to do, and take up the challenges of encounter, dialogue, truth-seeking, and creative problem-solving, in order that all Catholics can work together for the common good,” said Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City, chair of the U.S. bishops’ domestic justice and human development committee, on Monday.

The bishops’ new campaign “Civilize It: A Better Kind of Politics,” seeks to promote Catholic social teaching within evangelization efforts, equipping Catholics to respond to current political debates. It includes an examination of conscience, short reflections, prayers, and a guide for Catholics to be “bridgebuilders.” Materials can be found at the conference website CivilizeIt.org.

Catholics can take a pledge on the website for “charity,” “clarity,” and “creativity.” The pledge includes promises to practice charity, to form one’s conscience well and be open to dialogue, and to work with others on “creative” solutions for society. The campaign’s goal is to reach 5,000 such pledges.

The initiative is based off of Pope Francis’ 2020 encyclical Fratelli tutti, or “brothers all.” The encyclical’s paragraph 154 calls for “a better kind of politics, one truly at the service of the common good.”

“In Fratelli Tutti, Pope Francis offers a different way forward based on Gospel values, justice and truth,” Archbishop Coakley said.

Polarization and division are even found today within the Church, he noted.

“Such division among the faithful compromises the Church’s ability to effectively witness to the life and dignity of the human person in the family, parish, workplace, and political sphere,” he said.

Fratelli tutti was issued in October 2020, as a call for unity and fraternity during the COVID-19 pandemic. The title means means "All brothers" in Italian, citing the writings of St. Francis of Assisi. Pope Francis signed the encyclical in Assisi, Italy.

"Aside from the different ways that various countries responded to the crisis, their inability to work together became quite evident," Pope Francis said in the introduction to his encyclical. "For all our hyper-connectivity, we witnessed a fragmentation that made it more difficult to resolve problems that affect us all." 

He also addressed global problems including the pandemic, the "throwaway culture" that includes abortion and euthanasia, neglect of the elderly, discrimination against women, and slavery. He criticized the current political discourse, encouraging instead authentic dialogue.

The urged greater acceptance of refugees and migrants, and also called for an end to the use of the death penalty.

State's bishops 'celebrate every life saved' by Texas abortion law

null / Unsplash.

Austin, Texas, Sep 7, 2021 / 11:11 am (CNA).

Bishops around the country reacted with praise to a Texas law banning abortions after the detection of a fetal heartbeat, and noted that women experiencing a crisis pregnancy have resources available, instead of abortion.

“We celebrate every life saved by this legislation,” said the Texas Catholic Conference, the public policy voice of Texas’ 16 Catholic dioceses and 20 bishops, in a Sept. 3 statement.

The Texas bishops said that opponents of the law, who have described a fetal heartbeat as “electrically induced flickering of embryonic tissue” or “embryonic cardiac activity,” are making a “disturbing” effort to “dehumanize the unborn.”

“Abortion is a human rights issue; the most fundamental human right is the right to life,” said the Texas bishops. “Abortion is not healthcare. Abortion is not freedom. Abortion does not help women. Abortion is never the answer. It is always the violent taking of innocent human life.”

The statement dismissed the notion that abortion is a privacy right.

“We cannot turn away and say that, since the killing of another person takes place within the body of a woman, we as a society should not care, any more than when someone is killed within the privacy of a home or in a public venue,” said the Texas bishops.

The Texas Heartbeat Law went into effect Sept. 1 after the Supreme Court refused to issue an injunction. This is the first time since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that the Supreme Court has not blocked a piece of pro-life legislation while the law is being contested in lower courts.

The lawl prohibits abortion after the detection of a fetal heartbeat. A provision awarding damages to people who report illegal abortions, or those who aid and abet the procurement of an abortion, has drawn significant controversy.

The Texas bishops wrote that “hundreds of millions of dollars” have been invested in abortion alternatives programs for pregnant women and their families, and that there are “hundreds of pregnancy and parenting support programs and adoption services” in the state.

“Pregnant and parenting moms in need are in our parishes and our neighborhoods,” said the Texas bishops. “As Pope Francis reminds us, our parishes must be ‘islands of mercy in the midst of a sea of indifference.’ Everyone in the parish should know where to refer a pregnant woman in need.”

The two bishops of neighboring Oklahoma issued a similar statement lauding the bill.

“This week’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to permit Texas’ heartbeat abortion ban to remain in effect marks a critical turning point in our decades-long battle to defend unborn life,” said Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City and Bishop David Konderla of Tulsa in a joint statement published Sept. 6. The governor of Oklahoma signed a similar “heartbeat bill” into law on April 26, 2021, but it has not gone into effect due to legal battles.

The bishops said, “it is estimated that as many as 4,000 lives each month will be spared” as a result of the law, and added they “pray that the courts in Oklahoma will follow suit and allow our state’s recently-enacted heartbeat law to go into effect.”

“One doesn’t need to be Catholic to believe that abortion is an offense against human dignity and the taking of an innocent life,” they said. “We are not only opposed to abortion because the Church tells us to oppose it (as a matter of faith), but because it is morally repugnant and inconsistent with respect for human life.”

The Texas law prompted President Joe Biden (D) and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to consider some sort of federal intervention that would keep abortion legal thorughout a pregnancy.

Pelosi announced that the House of Representatives will vote on the Women’s Health Protection Act when they return from recess. The bill would create a law allowing abortion throughout a pregnancy, and would forbid states from enacting their own pro-life restrictions on abortion.

Biden, in a statement published after the law was allowed to go into effect, directed his administration to examine “what steps the Federal Government can take to ensure that women in Texas have access to safe and legal abortions.”

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, warned that these actions by Catholic politicians could warrant excommunication.

In a Washington Post op-ed published Sept. 5, Archbishop Cordileone, who is Pelosi’s ordinary, noted that in the 1960s, prominent Catholic segregationists were excommunicated by then-Archbishop Joseph Rummel of New Orleans for refusing to embrace racial integration.

The three excommunications, he said, were an example of a legitimate Catholic response to “a great moral evil” of that time period, and were not “weaponizing the Eucharist.”

“Rummel recognized that prominent, high-profile public advocacy for racism was scandalous: It violated core Catholic teachings and basic principles of justice, and also led others to sin,” said Archbishop Cordileone.

The same, he said, is true of prominent Catholics who support abortion rights.

“You cannot be a good Catholic and support expanding a government-approved right to kill innocent human beings. The answer to crisis pregnancies is not violence but love, for both mother and child,” said Archbishop Cordileone.

“This is hardly inappropriate for a pastor to say,” he said. “If anything, Catholic political leaders’ response to the situation in Texas highlights the need for us to say it all the louder.”

Archbishop Cordileone’s essay drew strong reactions from his brother bishops.

“Thank you for speaking up, Archbishop,” said Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler. “I am with you 100% as are many Catholics and others who know that life is sacred.”

His comments were echoed by Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield in Illinois, who said it was an “excellent op-ed.”

Bishop James Conley of Lincoln wrote, “It is impossible to deny the humanity of the unborn child. Catholic politicians must uphold the human rights of these tiny citizens,” and encouraged people to “take some time to read this excellent piece by Archbishop Cordileone.”

Three Chicago priests step aside from ministry amid investigations of inappropriate acts with adults

null / alphaspirit via Shutterstock.com.

Chicago, Ill., Sep 6, 2021 / 11:19 am (CNA).

Three priests in the Archdiocese of Chicago have been asked to step aside from ministry pending investigation of their inappropriate acts with fellow adults, which they have acknowledged.

Blase Cardinal Cupich sent letters Sept. 4 to parishes where the priests have been assigned, informing them of the decisions.

Fr. Orlando Flores Orea had an inappropriate relationship with a woman, while Frs. Pedro Campos and René Mena Beltrán each engaged in “inappropriate behaviour with an adult man”.

Each of the priests will “enter a period of prayer, spiritual healing and discernment,” and each “is cooperating with this direction,” the cardinal wrote.

Fr. Flores has served at St. Paul’s and at Ss. Genevieve and Stanislaus parishes. His relationship took place while he was at St. Genevieve’s.

Fr. Campos was serving as pastor of St Gerard Majella, St John the Baptist and Ascension-St Susana, and was previously at Our Lady of Nazareth and St. Kevin’s parish. The inappropriate behavior which is being investigated occurred while he was pastor at St. Kevin’s.

He was ordained a priest in 2002, and had been led to the Chicago archdiocese after being told about the city’s Casa Jesus program. The discernment house for prospective Latin American seminarians was suspended in 2016. That year, NBC 5 Chicago reported homosexual activity among Casa Jesus participants, and said that in 2015 three participants had been dismissed after visiting a gay bar.

Fr. Mena was serving as pastor of St. Gall and St. Simon parish.

Marking Labor Day, archbishop urges Catholics to pray and work for an economy that respects the common good

Archbishop Paul S. Coakley preaching during Mass in the cathedral in 2021. / Archdiocese of Oklahoma City

Denver Newsroom, Sep 6, 2021 / 06:00 am (CNA).

A US archbishop has urged Catholics to pray and work for an economy that respects the common good, as the country and the world continue to recover from the economic and human tolls of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“On this Labor Day, I express my gratitude to the many workers who have kept our country functioning during these trying times and worked under difficult and often underappreciated conditions. We also pray for those who lost or continue to lack resources or income,” Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City wrote in “A Dream for a Better Economy”.

Archbishop Coakley, chairman of the US Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, said he based his reflections on Pope Francis’ latest encyclical, Fratelli tutti, as well as on the 2020 event ​​”Economy of Francesco.”

While the US unemployment rate has dropped to nearly pre-pandemic levels, the pandemic greatly increased people’s vulnerability to exploitation. Reports of human trafficking and sexual exploitation increased throughout the pandemic, and many Americans remain unemployed or underemployed. As many as 43,000 minor children in the U.S. have lost a parent as a result of the pandemic, Archbishop Coakley noted. 

“It is our task not only to reflect on the present ills of our economy, but also to build consensus around human dignity and the common good, the bedrocks of Catholic social teaching, and to answer the Pope’s call to propose new and creative economic responses to human need, both locally and globally,” Archbishop Coakley wrote. 

Catholic parishes and aid agencies, Archbishop Coakley says, are largely responding to the pope’s call to be “islands of mercy in the midst of the sea of indifference” by aiding the poor and supporting essential workers. 

Pope Francis has repeatedly decried income inequality, and said in a late 2020 video message that "Once the present health crisis has passed, the worst reaction would be to fall even more deeply into feverish consumerism and forms of selfish self-protection."

Pope Francis considers employment to be the “biggest issue” in politics as it relates to reducing economic inequality, Archbishop Coakley said, and the bishops have emphasized the importance of creating jobs for those who are poor and marginalized, prioritizing organized labor and continued protection of workers’ rights. 

Pope Francis has observed that we sometimes justify our indifference for the poor “by looking the other way and living our lives as if they simply do not exist.”

“Not only are our actions insufficient, but our sight as well, when we ignore the poor and do not allow their pleas to touch our hearts. Let us accept together the challenge of reemerging from this crisis with an economy that works for all of God’s children,” Archbishop Coakley urged. 

Catholics should pray for those most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and if they are able, should offer to volunteer at their local parish or Catholic Charities site. 

“Finally, let us engage in building ‘a better kind of politics’ by entering into dialogue with elected officials, calling them to an authentic politics that is rooted in the dignity of the human person and promotes the common good,” Archbishop Coakley concluded.

Archbishop Cordileone raises issue of excommunication for abortion advocates

Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone / Getty Images

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Sep 5, 2021 / 18:07 pm (CNA).

Calling abortion “the most pressing human rights challenge of our time,” Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone on Sunday invoked the excommunication of prominent Catholic segregationists in the early 1960s as an example of a legitimate response to Catholic politicians who support “a great moral evil.”

In an op-ed published in the Washington Post, the leader of the Archdiocese of San Francisco pushed back against recent statements by Catholic politicians who have denounced a new state law in Texas that prohibits abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.

The op-ed does not mention any politicians by name, and it stops short of advocating excommunication for any specific pro-abortion politicians. President Joseph Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who live in the San Francisco archdiocese, are among the Catholic political leaders who have come out strongly against the Texas law.

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Dennis Callahan, Archdiocese of San Francisco/Public domain.
Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Dennis Callahan, Archdiocese of San Francisco/Public domain.

In the op-ed, Archbishop Cordileone draws a parallel between the abortion politics of today and the institutional racial discrimination that existed in the United States in the mid-20th century.

He specifically cited the example of Archbishop Joseph Rummel, an outspoken civil rights leader who led the Archdiocese of New Orleans from 1935 to 1964.

“Rummel did not ‘stay in his lane.’ Unlike several other bishops throughout this country’s history, he did not prioritize keeping parishioners and the public happy above advancing racial justice,” Archbishop Cordileone wrote. “Instead, he began a long, patient campaign of moral suasion to change the opinions of pro-segregation White Catholics.” 

Archbishop Rummel’s campaign included admitting two Black students to New Orleans’ Notre Dame Seminary in 1948. Three years later, he ordered the removal of “white” and “colored” signs from Catholic churches in his archdiocese. In 1953, he ordered an end to segregation in the archdiocese, and he formally integrated New Orleans’ Catholic schools in 1962.

“Many White Catholics were furious at this disruption of the long-entrenched segregationist status quo,” Archbishop Cordileone wrote. 

“They staged protests and boycotts. Rummel patiently sent letters urging a conversion of heart, but he was also willing to threaten opponents of desegregation with excommunication,” he continued. 

“On April 16, 1962, he followed through, excommunicating a former judge, a well-known writer and a segregationist community organizer. Two of the three later repented and died Catholics in good standing,” the archbishop wrote.

“Was that wrong? Was that weaponizing the Eucharist?” Archbishop Cordileone asked in the op-ed. “No. Rummel recognized that prominent, high-profile public advocacy for racism was scandalous: It violated core Catholic teachings and basic principles of justice, and also led others to sin.”

Archbishop Cordileone noted that Texas is providing $100 million to fund pregnancy centers, adoption agencies, and maternity homes while also providing mothers who want to keep their babies with free counseling, parenting help, diapers, formula and job training. 

“You cannot be a good Catholic and support expanding a government-approved right to kill innocent human beings. The answer to crisis pregnancies is not violence but love, for both mother and child,” he wrote.

“This is hardly inappropriate for a pastor to say,” Archbishop Cordileone concluded. “If anything, Catholic political leaders’ response to the situation in Texas highlights the need for us to say it all the louder.”

Why do Christians work? To glorify God and serve others, Long Island bishop says

Georges de La Tour's Joseph the Carpenter (c. 1642). / null

Rockville Centre, N.Y., Sep 5, 2021 / 15:00 pm (CNA).

Christian labor, whether in the workplace or at home, is a way to glorify God and evangelize the world by following the example of St. Joseph the Worker, Bishop John Barres of Rockville Centre said in his pastoral letter released ahead of the Labor Day weekend.

“Jesus, with calloused and gloriously scarred hands, never ceases to say to us, ‘Follow me!’ as he leads us as laborers into his fields ripe for harvest,” Barres said in his 12-page letter, "Our Holiness and Mission in the Changing World of Work". He reflected on the religious meaning of work, the possible mindsets and social practices that distort a true understanding of work, and what Christians can learn about work from Christ and the saints.

A Catholic spirituality of work has a missionary character, said the bishop.

“In every work setting throughout the world, sanctified work glorifies God and attracts people by its splendor and virtue,” he said. “We preach through the quality of our work, testifying not only to the importance of work well done but to the great work God accomplished at the beginning and is calling each of us to help bring to completion.”

According to Bishop Barres, “the Church proclaims the splendor of truth about human work that is meant to lead us through our labor for God’s glory and the service of others to holiness on earth and ultimately to eternal life.”

“Each precious human being created in the divine image must be given the opportunity to develop his or her latent talents for the common good of the whole human family,” he continued. “Likewise, when we recognize how working is part of human dignity, we become sensitive to all types of injustice that happen in the workplace or in society that frustrate this dignity.”

The bishop’s letter reflected on some of the hardships of working life.

“Our work often requires a type of death to self, when we need to get up early for a long commute, deal with bosses or colleagues who try our patience, or have to endure the difficulties of layoffs or unemployment,” he said. “But those can all be openings to the realization that the Risen Lord Jesus seeks to accompany us in our work.”

Bishop Barres’ Rockville Centre diocese includes much of Long Island. It is one of the most populous dioceses in the U.S., serving 1.5 million Catholics. Among his spiritual reflections in his pastoral letter, the bishop noted the importance of human work for the celebration of the Eucharist at Mass.

“Human hands shape and create that ordinary bread that is transformed into the Bread of Life. Human feet traditionally crushed the grapes that are transformed ultimately into the Blood of Christ,” he said. “The central mystery of our Catholic life and liturgy – the transubstantiation of bread and wine into the Real Presence, the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ – presupposes and incorporates the human work that prepares the elements that will be consecrated.”

“Indeed, all noble work performed by Christians united to Christ by sanctifying grace is presented on the paten at Holy Mass and raised up to heaven and made holy in Christ,” Bishop Barres added.

He emphasized the role of St. Joseph the Worker, who “was chosen by God the Father to be the mentor of Christ the Worker.”

“Christ learned how to be a carpenter at St. Joseph’s side and under his guidance. Christ’s understanding of work reflected St. Joseph’s patient mentorship in the craft of building,” said the bishop. “Like St. Joseph, Jesus lived his hidden life immersed in the working world. His thoughts and eventually his teachings were close to the everyday reality of people at work.”

Bishop Barres cited Christ's parables which invoked the work of shepherds, farmers, sowers, cooks, servants, stewards, fishermen, merchants, and laborers. “Some of the most memorable people in the Gospels are described not by name but by the work they do, like the woman at the well drawing water,” he said.

Many saints are the patrons of different kinds of labor and are “eloquent models of how the Catholic Church views work as a source of personal sanctification and the sanctification of others,” said the bishop. His letter cited the examples of Opus Dei founder St. Josemaria Escriva, teenage computer expert Blessed Carlo Acutis, and St. Oscar Romero, who worked in construction at a young age before entering seminary.

Bishop Barres noted the role of work in family life. Parents teach their children to clean their rooms, to repair their bicycles, to do yard work, to prepare food, to do their homework, and to do other household chores. He discussed the kind of paid work done by teenagers, describing it as “key means to form their character” and a way of “serving others and making genuine contributions to the Church and the world.”

The Labor Day pastoral letter further considered the example of St. Joseph the Worker.

“From St. Joseph, we can all learn the virtues of maturity, reliability, responsibility, industriousness, integrity, initiative, self-sacrifice, self-mastery, teamwork, optimism, humility, contemplative concentration, and charity in our labor,” said the bishop. “He grounds us in the ethical compass of the Ten Commandments and the moral virtues of prudence, fortitude, justice and temperance.”

For Bishop Barres, the virtues of St. Joseph are suggested “in the quiet but indispensable labors of so many immigrants,” noting that Joseph too was a migrant, taking his family to Egypt and back.

“As he mentored Jesus, so St. Joseph desires to mentor us who are brothers and sisters of Jesus and therefore members of the Holy Family. He wants to train us in his virtues. He wants to instruct us how to live our spiritual fatherhood or motherhood to the full. We must simply ‘go to Joseph’ to receive his wisdom.”

Bishop Barres’ letter asked Catholics to pray for each other and for the whole Church, “that each of us may apprentice ourselves to St. Joseph and learn from him, as Jesus did, how to convert our daily labor, whatever form it takes, into opportunities to cooperate with God in the ongoing perfection of creation and the continued harvest of the redemption.”

The bishop said unemployment is not only an important economic problem but “a profoundly dehumanizing one that can deprive millions of a sense of moral worth through making them feel useless.”

“We pray for all those out of work that, through St. Joseph’s intercession, they may find dignified jobs by which they can develop their gifts, serve others and provide for their and others’ needs,” said Bishop Barres. He also voiced prayers for those who cannot work due to illness or old age, saying they can learn from St. Joseph “how to collaborate interiorly in the work of redemption by uniting themselves to the extraordinary work Jesus did on Calvary when the hands that used to build were hammered to wood.”

Bishop Barres reflected on the major changes in work life caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Those who were forced to work from home, he said, found themselves experiencing “the work-life flow that would have characterized the holy house and workshop of Nazareth.”

“Those of us working among family members were able more easily to see for whom we were working,” he said. Those forced to work at home alone could sense the importance of having coworkers and customers present. Those furloughed might have learned about “the gift of work” and how so many people could be left jobless by a phenomenon that no one could imagine at the start of 2020.

The bishop’s letter included some warnings. Many philosophies and mindsets about work should be seen as “expressions of a culture of death.” He noted the history of slavery in the U.S., the mistreatment of workers in the industrial revolution, and the sex and labor trafficking that continues today.

“The underlying premise that our self-worth and human dignity are defined by our net-worth ultimately results in tragedy and self-destruction,” he said. “Sadly, many today are tempted to value themselves, not according to the judgment of God and value of their immaterial soul, but according to their value in the employment market.”

For the unemployed, this mentality is a cause of depression. For the employed, this can mean viewing work as “merely a means to a paycheck or to underwriting the few hours of freedom from work that they look forward to on the weekend.”

The workaholic, the bishop warned, “makes work a false god, a golden calf, an idol that can erode and destroy his or her marriage, family and faith life.”

“It is possible to work too hard and too much, forgetting that work is by its nature relational, tied to the love and service of others,” he said. The duty to keep the Sabbath holy is not only about Sunday Mass, because it also maintains a biblical practice of work-life balance.

Bishop Barres also criticized “unbridled capitalism,” which he depicted as a situation in which “profit becomes the only goal of an enterprise” and “monopolies distort the market by driving out competition at the expense of consumers, instrumentalizes both the worker and the consumer when corporate financiers seek money and power for their own sake.”

“Without a legal framework to promote and protect the common good and a foundation in virtue to foster respect for human dignity, capitalist forces distort the market economy, revealing a woefully inadequate approach that Pope Francis calls an ‘economy that kills’,” said Bishop Barres.

Several Catholic events were scheduled for Labor Day. These included Wilton Cardinal Gregory of Washington’s celebration of the National Labor Day Mass at Our Lady, Queen of the Americas in the District of Columbia.

Pope Francis, in a June 17 video to the International Labor Organization’s World of Work Summit, cited his predecessor Pius XI, whose 1931 encyclical Quadragesimo anno “denounced the asymmetry between workers and entrepreneurs as a flagrant injustice that gave carte blanche and means to capital.”

The pope said the trade union movement must face the challenges of innovation and resist internal corruption. It must not forget its “prophetic” call to “expose the powerful who trample on the rights of the most vulnerable workers” and “defend the cause of foreigners, the least and the rejected.”

Papal Foundation's new executive director hopes to expand philanthropic giving

David Savage, who became executive director of the Papal Foundation July 12, 2021. / The Papal Foundation

Philadelphia, Pa., Sep 4, 2021 / 06:00 am (CNA).

The Papal Foundation recently named David Savage to the role of executive director. Savage, who has a background in marketing and nonprofit leadership, will be responsible for addressing Pope Francis’ priorities for relief, education, and services for vulnerable and underserved communities around the world.

“As Catholics we’re called to love our neighbor, and that means all people, whether they are Catholic or not, and whether they are next door, or half-way around the world,” said Savage, who has 25 years of executive experience in direct-to-consumer marketing. “What I love about our Church is that we are universal.  And what I love about The Papal Foundation is that its reach is global. So we are united with those on every continent.”

The Papal Foundation, founded in 1988, awards grants and scholarships for initiatives such as shelter for homeless adults and children; support for hospitals and health facilities; seminaries and scholarships to prepare future leaders; relief for victims of natural disasters; services for refugees and immigrants; pro-life programs and education; and care for aging priests and religious. Since its inception more than 30 years ago, the organization has awarded more than $190 million in 121 countries. 

“As Americans, we are some of the most financially blessed humans on the planet, we have a special responsibility to help those in need and to help build up the Church all around the world,” Savage said.  

Savage’s previous experience will “greatly benefit our organization,” said Sean Cardinal O’Malley of Boston, chairman of The Papal Foundation Board of Trustees, in a release. Cardinal O’Malley also said he is happy to have Savage at the helm to “build the resources that the Foundation deploys to care for the needy in developing nations around the globe.”

Savage said, “The Foundation serves the universal Church and those without resources by building and renovating churches, hospitals and schools. Monies to build these environments are so impactful, because they help deliver more of Christ’s love and more hope in those places, where it can be shared and spread as much as possible.”

President of The Papal Foundation’s Board of Directors, Eustace Mita, said Savage has the “business acumen we searched for” and that he is “passionate about his Catholic faith,” in the release. 

“To be able to wake up every morning and work to help impact so many around the world - what a gift and opportunity!” said Savage, who became executive director July 12. 

Donors to The Papal Foundation become Stewards to St. Peter with a pledge to give $1 million dollars over the course of 10 years, with a minimum contribution of $100,000 per year. 

“My top goals are to exponentially grow the Foundation’s financial resources so that more monies can be put to work around the world to build the Church and our Faith, educating, feeding, housing, and helping heal people,” Savage said. “In order to grow the Foundation’s resources, we need to raise the profile of the Foundation here in the U.S. to attract more Catholic philanthropists to our mission.” 

Previously, Savage worked for Content Watch Holdings, Inc. He also served on the board of directors for the Catholic Leadership Institute and the Theology of the Body Institute. He is a longtime supporter of FOCUS, the Sisters of Life, Generation Life, and St. Norbert Catholic Church and School in Paoli, Pennsylvania.

‘We took the direct hit’: Louisiana diocese in ‘some crisis’ a week after Ida

Damage from Hurricane Ida / Diocese of Houma-Thibodeaux

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Sep 3, 2021 / 16:15 pm (CNA).

Nearly a week after Hurricane Ida made landfall in Louisiana, the Diocese of Houma-Thibodeaux is still without electricity. Many parts of the diocese do not have running water, and hospitals that were not damaged in the storm are currently overcrowded. 

One thing that is not lacking, however, is a reliance on God.

“We've taken a significant blow and we just need some help right now,” Bishop Shelton Fabre of Houma-Thibodeaux told CNA in an interview on Friday.  

“And we trust that that help will come and that God will provide. So, you go forward and hope.”

“Hope and goodwill,” he said, is enough. 

“It has to be enough,” he said. “And we journey forward with that hope and, and those expressions of goodwill.” 

Fabre told CNA that he is “trusting in the Lord” and that he is “getting through it.” 

“I have shed tears for the plight of the people whom I serve. I believe in the Lord, and right now I am trying to do all that I can pastorally to provide for the needs of the people here in the Diocese of Houma-Thibodeaux,” said Fabre. 

Hurricane Ida made landfall last week as a category 4 hurricane with sustained winds of up to 150 miles per hour. It was one of the strongest hurricanes in U.S. history at landfall, the Washington Post reported. 

The Diocese of Houma-Thibodeaux lies in the southeastern portion of Louisiana, and is one of the seven Catholic dioceses in the state. 

In the southern part of the diocese, a majority of homes were left uninhabitable by the storm. Of the diocese’s 39 churches nearly all, 36, were damaged in the storm. Some of the churches suffered severe damage. 

“We took the direct hit,” explained Fabre. “We got the worst winds and it has just been very, very, catastrophic. There’s lots of damage, particularly in the southern part of the diocese, where you get closer to the Gulf of Mexico, but the effect stretches across the two counties that are the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux.”

Recovery and rebuilding from Hurricane Ida will take quite a long time. 

“I see small steps with regard to recovery, very small, small steps,” said Fabre. 

“I'm not saying we're not still in some crisis situation–we are–but you look for the small steps and you celebrate the small ways that God manifests His love for us, His presence with us,” he said. 

Fabre said that Catholic Charities from other dioceses–particularly the Diocese of Lake Charles and the Diocese of Lafayette–have been assisting with the clean-up and recovery efforts, along with Catholic Charities USA and his own diocese’s Catholic Charities. 

Right now, the priority is getting food and water to people, and meeting other basic needs. He said he was “very, very proud” of the work that has been done in spite of the circumstances. 

“And I'm grateful for the support of so many,” he said. “I've had my moments, but we are doing what needs to be done to meet the needs of the people. And we are trusting in the Lord and relying on His mercy.” 

Although the physical damage from the storm was extensive, Fabre said that he was “grateful” that unlike in other storms, there was not a widespread loss of life due to Hurricane Ida. Hurricane Ida made landfall on the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which killed over 1,500 people. 

And despite the significant losses, Fabre explained to CNA that he has been thankful for the outpouring of support his diocese has received. Anyone who wishes to help, he said, can do so by contacting the Catholic Charities of Houma-Thibodeaux, as by praying for the diocese. 

“We're grateful for the good people who have come forward to help us,” he said. 

“And hopefully there will be more people coming forward to help us because we will need the help. We'll need their prayers and their financial assistance and assistance in helping us to rebuild this really, really beautiful part of the kingdom of God that is the Diocese of Houma-Thibodeaux.”