Category Archives: Church (ecclesiology)

Wuerl named delegate for Anglicans entering full communion with the Catholic Church by CDF

Donald Wuerl.jpgThe Archbishop of Washington, Donald W. Wuerl, STD, 70, has been delegated by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to be the principal guide for those Anglican/Episcopalian clergyman seeking full communion with the Catholic Church, and ordination as a priest.

The USCCB announcement is posted here.
The committee headed by Archbishop Wuerl will include their Excellencies, The Most Reverends Kevin Vann, JCD (Fort Worth, TX) and Robert McManus, STD (Worcester, MA). They will be assisted by Father Scott Hurd, himself a convert to Catholicism. The committee will facilitate the implementation of Anglicanorum coetibus in the USA and assess the need for an ordinariate in the USA.
The Pope’s Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus can be read here.

Bishop David O’Connell: God gives the grace

Here is the post-communion address of the newly ordained Bishop David O’Connell CM, coadjutor of Trenton, as prepared for delivery (the text does not include the ad lib remarks):

David M O'Connell arms.jpgI have been thinking a great deal in recent months about the role and ministry of bishops in the Church. You might think, sitting here in the Cathedral today in the midst of this beautifully moving ceremony, you had good reason for such reflection! And, while there is real truth to that reaction — at least since the Apostolic Nuncio first met with me on May 24 about coming to Trenton — I did have some other motivations. For the past twelve years, I was president of The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C, a place that is known as the “bishops’ university.” I am grateful that so many of my colleagues and friends from Catholic University are here with us today, both in the pews and around the sanctuary. Throughout those twelve years, I had many occasions to get to know bishops from around the country either as university trustees or as visitors to campus. We spoke about many things: their dioceses, their experiences, their joys and their challenges. I came to admire them as good men, good priests and good leaders. Although they all differed from one another in many ways, they all had one thing in common: they loved their people.

Today, through the grace and mercy of God and the sacrament of ordination, I join their ranks as successors to the Apostles. Like them, I approached this day filled with joy and gratitude but also with a sense of humility and awe. Like them, I am profoundly aware of my flaws and limitations, that I am far from perfect.  Like them, I do not know what the future will hold but I am quite sure that the expectations are as many and as different as there are people in and outside of this Cathedral.

When the Apostolic Nuncio spoke with me that morning in late May, he shared much information about the Diocese of Trenton and the process involved in my appointment. But he said something to me that I will never forget: “Father, always remember that there are over 830,000 souls in your Diocese. And you will be responsible for all of them.” What has been very much on my mind since that conversation is simply this: how will I exercise that responsibility?

The other day, someone asked me how long it took to come up with my Episcopal motto, Ministrare non Ministrari — “to serve and not to be served” — to which I responded, “about two seconds.” When I was first ordained a Vincentian priest — and I am so happy to see so many of my confreres here — the Gospel reading for the ordination Mass contained those words of Jesus Christ in Mark’s Gospel. I was struck with the phrase then as being a perfect description of how to follow the Lord as a priest: “to serve and not to be served and to give my life as a ransom for the many.” This was how I wanted to live out my life as a priest. This is how I want to live out my life as a bishop and how I hope to exercise that responsibility.

According to the Second Vatican Council, “Christ gave the apostles and their successors the mandate and the power to teach all nations and to sanctify and shepherd their people in truth (Christus Dominus, 12).” To teach. To sanctify. To shepherd their people in truth. Christ gave this mandate to the successors to the Apostles. Christ gave this power. And with power like this comes great responsibility. Please pray for me.

“To serve and not to be served.” In my letter to our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI accepting his appointment, I wrote to him of my choice of a motto. In his response to me read here today, he repeated them.

A bishop serves his people by teaching truth. The truth that comes through the Gospel, the truth that comes through the Church and all its teachings, the truth that lives among us a community of faith, for “where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them (Matthew 18: 20).” This is how a bishop serves, not by being served through compromise or taking the easy way out, not by being served saying only what people want to hear or what makes them comfortable, striving to be popular. As Pope John Paul II wrote, the truth that we teach “has its origin in God himself … (but) people can even run from the truth because they are afraid of its demands (Fides et ratio, 7; 28).” Christians cannot run from the truth for this reason. Nor can the bishop. This is how he serves.

A bishop also serves by sanctifying his people and by leading them to holiness. And there is only one way to holiness: Jesus Christ and a personal relationship with him, convinced in faith as we must be that he alone is “the way, the truth and the life (John 14: 6).” All three make us holy. Jesus Christ is the Risen Lord. He triumphed over death and every suffering and evil. The bishop is called, it is said, to be a servant of the empty tomb not of the status quo. He leads his people to holiness by bearing witness to what the empty tomb means: joy, hope, the promise of new life, remembering Jesus’ own words: “In the world you will have troubles but take courage: I have overcome the world (John 16:33).” This is how the bishop serves.

Finally, a bishop serves by leading, by guiding, by shepherding his people. This is, perhaps, the most difficult not only for those he governs as bishop but for the bishop himself, marked as he is by human weakness. But lead he must, by word and example. God gives the grace. And follow we must. God gives the grace. The answers that we may seek from him, the answers that we may want from him may sometimes not be what we seek or want. Sometimes the answer is no. “The gate is narrow and the road is long that leads to life (Matthew 7: 14).” This is how the bishop serves and this is where that service leads: to life.

To serve and not to be served. To teach. To sanctify. To shepherd. This is what a bishop does for God’s people and with God’s people: brother bishops, fellow priests, deacons, faithful religious women and men and all the baptized, one community of faith. With a grateful heart I thank you for being here today, too many to call by name. Please know that I care deeply for you all. With humble, faithful hearts, let us go forward, together, “to serve and not to be served.”

Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela

The Congregation of the Doctrine for the Faith published today the norms reforming the law and process in dealing with clergy sex abuse cases under a motu proprio signed by Pope Benedict XVI, titled, Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela (May 21, 2010).

The Introduction

The historical background: Historical Intro SST.pdf

The letter to the bishops: SST letter to bps.pdf

The Norms (Normae de Gravioribus Delictis)

The changes made; Summary of SST modifications.pdf

Pallium Mass 2010: a guarantee of freedom, charity and unity, the Pope reminds

Though they suffered on different days, Saints Peter and Paul are known as one, as Saint Augustine reminds.

In first hearing and then reading the papal homily I noticed some very crucial points for us to reflect upon and to seriously consider: the real persecution of the Church today and the impact on Catholic identity exists not exclusively from outside the Church (a theme the pope has stated before now) but from the faithful’s betrayal of the faith, of Truth. When secularism, not to be confused with secularity, infiltrates the Church the true message of the Gospel is obscured and our hearts are darkened.

As usual on today’s solemn feast of Peter and Paul, Pope Benedict bestowed the pallium, the symbol of theological, juridical and fraternal communion between the pope and a bishop. It is also a symbol of the “fullness of charity and unity.” In seeing the pallium we see, as Benedict says, a symbol of “the guarantee of freedom for the Church’s Pastors and the Communities.” Today, 38 archbishops from around the world received the pallium, including three archbishops from the USA and one from Canada. 

The Pope’s exhortation and prayer upon giving the pallium:

To the glory of God and the praise of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of the apostles Peter and Paul, and of the Holy Roman Church, for the honor of the Churches, which have been placed in your care, and as a symbol of your authority as metropolitan archbishop: We confer on you the pallium taken from the tomb of Peter to wear within the limits of your ecclesiastical provinces.

And then

May this pallium be a symbol of unity and a sign of your communion with the Apostolic See, a bond of love, and an incentive to courage. On the day of the coming and manifestation of our great God and chief shepherd, Jesus Christ, may you and the flock entrusted to you be clothed with immortality and glory. In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Below is Benedict’s homily for today’s Mass (with my own points of emphasis).


Sts Peter & Paul Greco.jpg

The biblical
texts of this Eucharistic Liturgy of the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, in
their great wealth, highlight a theme that could be summarized thus: God is
close to his faithful servants and frees them from all evil, and frees the
Church from negative powers. It is the theme of the freedom of the Church,
which has a historical aspect and another more deeply spiritual one
.

This theme
runs through today’s Liturgy of the Word. The first and second readings speak,
respectively, of St Peter and St Paul, emphasizing precisely the liberating
action of God in them. Especially the text from the Acts of the Apostles
describes in abundant detail the intervention of the Angel of the Lord, who
releases Peter from the chains and leads him outside the prison in Jerusalem,
where he had been locked up, under close supervision, by King Herod (cf. at
12.1 to 11). Paul, however, writing to Timothy when he feels close to the end
of his earthly life, takes stock which shows that the Lord was always near him
and freed him from many dangers and frees him still by introducing him into His
eternal Kingdom (see 2 Tim 4, 6-8.17-18). The theme is reinforced by the
Responsorial Psalm (Ps 33), and also finds a particular development in the
Gospel of Peter’s confession, where Christ promises that the powers of hell
shall not prevail against his Church (cf. Mt 16:18).

Observing closely we note
a certain progression regarding this issue. In the first reading a specific
episode is narrated that shows the Lord’s intervention to free Peter from
prison. In the second Paul, on the basis of his extraordinary apostolic
experience, is convinced that the Lord, who already freed him “from the
mouth of the lion “delivers him” from all evil”, by opening the
doors of Heaven to him. In the Gospel we no longer speak of the individual
Apostles, but the Church as a whole and its safekeeping from the forces of
evil, in the widest and most profound sense. Thus we see that the promise of
Jesus – “the powers of hell shall not prevail” on the Church – yes,
includes the historical experience of persecution suffered by Peter and Paul
and other witnesses of the Gospel, but it goes further, wanting to protect
especially against threats of a spiritual order, as Paul himself writes in his
Letter to the Ephesians: ” For our struggle is not with flesh and blood
but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this
present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens”(Eph 6:12).

Jesus2.jpg

Indeed,
if we think of the two millennia of Church history, we can see that – as the
Lord Jesus had announced (cf. Mt 10.16-33) – Christians have never been lacking
in trials, which in some periods and places have assumed the character of real
persecution. These, however, despite the suffering they cause, are not the
greatest danger for the Church.
In fact it suffers greatest damage from what
pollutes the Christian faith and life of its members and its communities,
eroding the integrity of the Mystical Body, weakening its ability to prophesy
and witness, tarnishing the beauty of its face
. This reality is already
attested in the Pauline Epistle. The First Epistle to the Corinthians, for
example, responds to some problems of divisions, inconsistencies, of infidelity
to the Gospel which seriously threaten the Church. But the Second Letter to
Timothy – of which we heard an excerpt – speaks about the dangers of the
“last days”, identifying them with negative attitudes that belong to
the world and can infect the Christian community: selfishness, vanity, pride,
love of money, etc. (cf. 3.1 to 5). The Apostle’s conclusion is reassuring: men
who do wrong – he writes – “will not make further progress, for their
foolishness will be plain to all” (3.9). There is therefore a guarantee of
freedom promised by God to the Church
, it is freedom from the material bonds
that seek to prevent or coerce mission, both through spiritual and moral evils,
which may affect its authenticity and credibility
.

Thomas G Wenski pallium 2010.jpg

The theme of the freedom of
the Church, guaranteed by Christ to Peter, also has a specific relevance to the
rite of the imposition of the pallium, which we renew today for thirty-eight
metropolitan archbishops, to whom I address my most cordial greeting, extending
with it affection to all who have wanted to accompany them on this pilgrimage.
Communion with Peter and his successors, in fact, is the guarantee of freedom
for the Church’s Pastors and the Communities entrusted to them
. It is
highlighted on both levels in the aforementioned reflections. Historically,
union with the Apostolic See, ensures the particular Churches and Episcopal
Conferences freedom with respect to local, national or supranational powers,
that can sometimes hinder the mission of the ecclesial Church. Furthermore, and
most essentially, the Petrine ministry is a guarantee of freedom in the sense
of full adherence to truth and authentic tradition, so that the People of God
may be preserved from mistakes concerning faith and morals. Hence the fact that
each year the new Metropolitans come to Rome to receive the pallium from the
hands of the Pope, must be understood in its proper meaning, as a gesture of
communion, and the issue of freedom of the Church gives us a particularly
important key for interpretation. This is evident in the case of churches
marked by persecution, or subject to political interference or other hardships.
But this is no less relevant in the case of communities that suffer the
influence of misleading doctrines or ideological tendencies and practices
contrary to the Gospel. Thus the pallium becomes, in this sense, a pledge of
freedom, similar to the “yoke” of Jesus, that He invites us to take
up, each on their shoulders (Mt 11:29-30). While demanding, the commandment of
Christ is “sweet and light” and instead of weighing down on the bearer,
it lifts him up, thus the bond with the Apostolic See – while challenging –
sustains the Pastor and the portion of the Church entrusted to his care, making
them freer and stronger.

at the confession B16 & Patr rep 2010.jpg

I would like to draw a final point from the Word of
God, in particular from Christ’s promise that the powers of hell shall not
prevail against his Church. These words may also have a significant ecumenical
value, since, as I mentioned earlier, one of the typical effects of the Devil
is division within the Church community. The divisions are in fact symptoms of
the power of sin, which continues to act in members of the Church even after
redemption
. But the word of Christ is clear: ” Non praevalebunt – it will
not prevail” (Matt. 16:18). The unity of the Church is rooted in its union
with Christ, and the cause of full Christian unity – always to be sought and
renewed from generation to generation – is well supported by his prayer and his
promise
. In the fight against the spirit of evil, God has given us in Jesus the
‘Advocate’, defender, and after his Easter, “another Paraclete” (Jn
14:16), the Holy Spirit, which remains with us always and leads the Church into
the fullness of truth (cf. Jn 14:16; 16:13), which is also the fullness of
charity and unity. With these feelings of confident hope, I am pleased to greet
the delegation of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, which, in the beautiful
custom of reciprocal visits, participates in the celebrations of the patron
saints of Rome. Together we thank God for progress in ecumenical relations
between Catholics and Orthodox, and we renew our commitment to generously
reciprocate to God’s grace, which leads us to full communion.

Dear friends, I
cordially greet all of you: Cardinals, Brother Bishops, Ambassadors and civil
authorities, in particular the Mayor of Rome, priests, religious and lay
faithful. Thank you for your presence. May the Saints Peter and Paul help you
to grow in love for the holy Church, the Mystical Body of Christ the Lord and
messenger of unity and peace for all men. May they also help you to offer the
hardships and sufferings endured for fidelity to the Gospel with joy for her
holiness and her mission. May the Virgin Mary, Queen of Apostles and Mother of
the Church, always watch over you and especially over the Ministry of
metropolitan archbishops. With her heavenly help may you always live and act in
that freedom that Christ has won for us. Amen.

St Peter is the “absolute and reliable rock,” Fr Giussani told us


together with the pope.jpg

Today in Rome members of the various Catholic lay ecclesial movements
like Focolare, Sant’Egidio, Catholic Action and Communion and Liberation are
gathering in Rome as a sign of prayerful solidarity at the Regina Coeli address
of the Pope in Saint Peter’s Square. Indeed, in a sign of friendship and
obedience to the Successor of Saint Peter, Pope Benedict XVI. And as a sign of
this worldwide communion with the Pope, members of Communion and Liberation are
gathering in cities around the world in prayer for the Pope and the Church.

According to news about the event, about 150,000 people flooded Saint Peter’s Square. The Pope said that he was comforted by the “beautiful and spontaneous show of faith and solidarity.”

Here in New York, for example, CL is attending the Mass at Saint Patrick’s
Cathedral with Archbishop Timothy Dolan and will pray the rosary together.

To
understand these pious and fraternal gestures of CL, here are some thoughts of
Monsignor Luigi Giussani that may give a fuller appreciation of the
companionship of faith and brotherhood we all share.


father and daughter.jpg

Christianity is an
irreducible event, an objective presence that desires to reach man; until the
very end, it means to be a provocation to him, and to offer a judgment of him.
Jesus said to the Apostles after his Resurrection, “Behold, I am with you always,
even to the end of the world” (Mt 28:20).

Christianity will have a dramatic and
decisive bearing on man’s life only if it is understood in accordance with its
originality and its factual density, which, two thousand years ago, had the
form of a single man. Yet even when He was still living, he also had the face
of people whom he had brought together, and then sent out two by two, to do
what He had been doing, and what he had told them to do; they came back
together and returned to him. Later, united as one, this people went out to the
entire known world to present that Fact. The face of that single man today is
the unity of believers, who are the sign of him in the world, or as Saint Paul
says, who are his Body, his mysterious Body – also called “the people of God” –
guided and guaranteed by a living person, the Bishop of Rome.

If the Christian
fact is not recognized and grasped in its proper originality, it becomes
nothing more than a ponderous occasion for all sorts of interpretations and
opinions, or perhaps even for works; but then it lies alongside of or more
often subordinate to all of life’s other promptings.

(Religious Awareness in
Modern Man, Communio, vol. XXV, n.1, Spring 1998, pp. 134-135)

The supreme
authority is the one in which we find the meaning of all our experience. Jesus
Christ is this supreme authority, and it is His Spirit who makes us understand
this, opens us up to faith in Him and His person. “Just as the Father has sent
me so do I send you.” (See John 20:21) The apostles and their successors (the
Pope and the bishops) constitute, in history, the living continuation of the
authority who is Christ. In their dynamic succession in history and their
multiplication throughout the world, Christ’s mystery is proposed ceaselessly,
clarified without errors, defended without compromise. Therefore, they
constitute the place, like a reliable and effervescent spring, where humanity
can draw on the true meaning of its own existence, probing ever deeper. 
What
genius is to the cry of human need, what prophecy is to our cry of expectancy,
so the apostles and their successors are to announcing the response. But just
as the true answer is always perfectly specific and concrete with respect to
the expectancy which is inevitably vague and subject to illusions – so are
they, like an absolute and reliable rock, infallible: “You are Peter and on
this rock I shall build my Church.” (Matthew 16:17ff.)

B16 May 16 2010.jpg

Their authority not only
constitutes the sure criterion for that vision of the universe and history that
alone explains their (i.e., the universe’s and history’s) meaning; it is also
vital – it steadfastly stimulates a true culture and persistently points to a
total vision. It inexorably condemns any exaltation of the particular and
idealization of the contingent; that is, it condemns all error and idolatry.
The authority of the Pope and bishops, therefore, is the ultimate guide on the
pilgrimage towards a genuine sharing of our lives [convivenza], towards a true
civilization.

Where that authority is not vital and vigilant, or where it is
under attack, the human pathway becomes complicated, ambiguous, and unstable;
it veers towards disaster, even when on the exterior it seems powerful,
flourishing, and astute, as is the case today. Where that authority is active
and respected, the historic pilgrimage is confidently renewed with serenity; it
is deep, genuinely human, even when the expressive methods and dynamics of
sharing lives are roughshod and difficult.

Still today it is the gift of the
Spirit that allows us to discover the profound meaning of Ecclesiastical
Authority as a supreme directive on the human path. Here is the origin of that
ultimate abandonment and of that conscious obedience to it – this is why it is
not the locus of the Law but of Love. One cannot understand the experience of
that definitive devotion that binds the “faithful” to Authority without taking
into consideration the influence of the Spirit, and that devotion often affirms
itself on the Cross of a mortification of the drive of our own genius or our
plans for life.

(The Journey to Truth Is an Experience, Montreal:
McGill-Queen’s University Press 2006, pp. 73-75)

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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