Category Archives: Faith & the Public Order

New leadership for St Vincent de Paul Society

Frédéric Ozanam with VdP.jpgCatholics of a certain vintage remember the Saint Vincent de Paul Society –whose motto is “Seeking Charity and Justice– organizes people to respond to the human and spiritual needs of our neighbor. The Society is getting new life with a new leader. The Gospel is still changing people’s lives.

The board of directors elected John Foppe, 42, to be the new leader. Foppe takes on the work of an organization founded in Paris in 1833 by the layman Blessed Frédéric Ozanam who was moved by the poverty of his brothers and sisters and challenged by his Catholic faith. These lay Vincentians lived, and continue to live, the corporal and spiritual works of charity. What became the Saint Vincent de Paul Society was founded in St Louis, Missouri in 1845. Today, it is estimated that the Society numbers around 172,000 members in the USA organized in more than 4,500 conferences; but worldwide the numbers are more more dramatic. 
John Foppe’s story can be read here.
For more information about the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, visit them here.
Saint Vincent de Paul,  Saint Louise de Marrilac and Blessed Frédéric Ozanam, pray for us.

Hungary changes constitution, status of some religious orders changes in the law

At the new year the Hungarians passed a new constitution with some real changes that will affect the Church and other ecclesial communities, including non-Christian groups. The New York Times ran the article that outlines the changes giving the impression that even the Hungarians are unable to name all the changes. What caught my eye thanks to Brother Richard of, when he first posted a note on his FB page that some venerable religious orders like the Benedictines and the Carmelites and a group like the Opus Dei are now downgraded in terms of the law. But why? What does the Hungarian government gain by doing such and what are the long-term implications for the Benedictines and Carmelites? Why weren’t the states of the Dominicans and Jesuits changed? Some of what happened is noted here:

“With the
new year, as the new constitution goes into effect, all petitions to the
[Constitutional] Court lapse and it becomes much harder for anyone to challenge
this law — or any other.

“But it is worth lingering on the newly
re-enacted law on the status of churches because it is one of the places where
we can clearly see the effects of the new constitutional order on the
protection of constitutional rights. What does the law on churches do? It
creates 14 state-recognized religions
, and decertifies the rest. On January 1,
over 300 denominations lose their official status in Hungary — including their
tax exemptions and their abilities to run state-funded schools. While most of
the denominations are tiny, many are not. Among the religions that will no longer
be able to operate with state approval
are all versions of Islam, Buddhism,
Hinduism and Baha’i, as well as many smaller Catholic orders including the
Benedictines, Marists, Carmelites, and Opus Dei
, and a number of major
Protestant denominations including Episcopalians, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh
Day Adventists, Mormons, Methodists, and all but one of the evangelical
churches. One each of the orthodox, conservative, and liberal Jewish synagogues
are recognized; but all other Jewish congregations are not” (The
Unconstitutional Constitution

A Benedictine from Hungary writes
that “religious orders are still part of the Catholic Church in my country
and being as such they will maintain their legal status — all other
problematic constitutional points nothwithstanding.” (see

Pearl Harbor remembered: 70 years later

B17 destroyed -REUTERS:Official U.S. Navy Photograph, National Archives collection.JPGThe words of FDR still ring in the ears: “a date which will live in infamy.”

Today is the 70th anniversary of the Attack on Pearl Harbor. 2402 Americans were killed, 1282 injured.
Let us pray for those who perished and those who continue to be burdened with the tragedy. May God be merciful and loving.
Show us, Lord, the immense power of your goodness, that, as we weep for our brothers and sisters taken from us by a sudden death, we may be confident that they have passed over into your eternal company.

Archbishop Wenski: Protect rights of conscience, Mr. President

Thomas Wenski.jpg

In today’s editorial piece, Miami Archbishop Thomas Wenski personally addressed the US President Barack Obama on matters pertaining to conscience and religious freedom. Conscience is more than a policy; conscience is a basic human right given by God Himself. It is good piece for all to read –especially Catholics– as it outlines recent history lest we forget. Wenski is right to bring to light the transgressions on conscience by this Administration. Our thanks to the Archbishop for teaching the faith. Thoughts?

In May 2009, President Obama gave the commencement address at Notre Dame University and received an honorary degree. That Notre Dame would confer an honorary degree on an elected official who advances abortion rights in contradiction to Catholic teaching caused no small controversy among many Catholics throughout the United States.

Those who supported Notre Dame felt vindicated, however, when in his speech the President promised tohonor the conscience of those who disagree with abortion,” stating that his Administration would provide “sensible” protections for those who wanted no involvement in the procedure. This would presumably include health-care providers, social-service providers, and consumers who might otherwise have to pay through their health-care plans for other people’s abortions. Obama later reiterated this position to Catholic newspaper editors, stating that he would make such protections “robust.”

Read more ...

USCCB Religious Liberty committee and consultants finalized

The USCCB Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty headed up by Bishop William Edward Lori announces the bishops and consultants:

Ten bishops and 10 consultants were named to the committee in early November.

New members are Bishop John O. Barres of Allentown, Pa.; Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia; Bishop Daniel E. Flores of Brownsville, Texas; Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory of Atlanta; Archbishop John C. Nienstedt of St. Paul and
Minneapolis; Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted of Phoenix; Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki of Springfield, Ill.; Archbishop Thomas J. Rodi of Mobile, Ala.; Archbishop J. Peter Sartain of Seattle; and Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington.

Consultants include Carl Anderson, supreme knight of the Knights of Columbus; attorneys Kevin Baine, Philip Lacovara and L. Martin Nussbaum; Father Raymond J. de Souza, a columnist and priest of the Archdiocese of Kingston, Ontario;
Richard Garnett, associate dean and professor of law and political science at the University of Notre Dame; John Garvey, president of The Catholic University of America; Mary Ann Glendon, Harvard Law School professor; Judge Michael
McConnell, Stanford University Law School professor; and Mary Ellen Russell, executive director of the Maryland Catholic Conference.

Lori said we need to have “a new appreciation for religious liberty and a renewed determination to defend it.”

As mere commentary, the lay members of this committee are impressive.

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]
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