Category Archives: Faith & the Public Order

Work, culture and education according to Benedict

Last week Benedict XVI spoke to people who belong to various movements in the Church that make contributions to work, culture and education. Why is my posting this important? Because I believe what the Pope has to say is crucial in following his lead in the life I lead, and I believe it is helpful for others who desire to live similarly. I am confronted –in a good way– with questions about the value of work, culture and education and the place of the Church in these sectors. As Father Giussani told us, the Church is not here to fix our problems but to offer us a lens by which we can judge the reality in front of us so that we can fix a problem. Pay close attention to what Benedict has to say:

Work is not only an instrument of individual profit, but it is a moment in which to express ones’ own skills with a spirit of service in a professional activity, be it factory work, agricultural, scientific or otherwise,” 

“Culture, voluntary service and work constitute the indivisible trinomial of the Catholic laity’s daily life, which makes belonging to Christ and the Church more real, in the private as much as in the public spheres of society.” 

The lay faithful put themselves in the game when they touch one or more of these contexts and, in the cultural service, by showing solidarity with those in need and on the job, they strive to promote human dignity.”

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Sisters throw Jesus under bus

The world of medical care is always under the gun due to costs. It is has changed so radically in the last 40 years that it would make your head spin. The Church has for 2000+ years been at the center of healthcare around the world. I can think of the hospices at the cathedrals, monasteries, parish churches, roadside stations. Historically, no cathedral church would be without facilities to welcome the stranger, care for the ill person or instruct the ignorant. The Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy were always and without reservation kept fresh in our daily activities and living the Gospel. In Connecticut we are blessed to have several hospital centers that were founded by religious sisters following the example of the Lord and then the Apostles in healing the sick and caring for those in need of certain medical attention in body, mind or spirit.

In today’s New Haven Register (26 April 2012) I read the article about the merging of Yale New Haven Hospital with Saint Raphael’s Hospital, a ministry of the Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth (Convent Station, NJ) with great interest because I wanted to know what was being done about the Catholic nature of Saint Raphael’s. I got my answer. The article reported,
“The first thing we wrestled with was the question of Catholicity, and the sisters were incredibly engaged and courageous and made this decision [to merge with the secular hospital] that it was more important to meet the mission in New Haven than to retain official Catholicity.”
What exactly does it mean say that a Catholic hospital should be able “to meet the mission in New Haven” and divorce itself from the Catholicism? With a Catholic hospital is there a mission without the gospel of Jesus Christ? How can the Sisters of Charity abort their mission to heal based on the charism of their order to easily?
Without a doubt the merger seems to be a good thing, though I am skeptical as to why an alternative like working with a Catholic healthcare organization could not be worked out. Clearly the Sisters of Charity and the CEO Christopher O’Connor are being opportunistic for the bottom line and not too respectful of Christ’s mission through the Church. The Catholicity of any organization in the Church is not lipstick on a pig. The Catholicity is the heart and mind of what we do, why we do it, and how we do it in light of following Christ. 
The Sisters of Charity aided by Christopher O’Connor care little, it seems, for the sacramentality of medical care and the care of the whole person as passed down to us by Christ, the Apostles, the Archdiocese of Hartford and Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton.
AND we wonder why the Church wants to reform the Leadership Conference Women Religious. If you throw Christ under the bus, there is no reason why we need groups like the LCWR. They are as one may think, not following Christ and the Church too closely, not thinking with the Church.

Good Friday is now a holiday in Cuba, following Pope’s request


The Holy See Press Office Director Jesuit Father Federico
Lombardi said this morning in Rome that “The fact that the Cuban authorities
have immediately accepted the request made by the Holy Father to President Raul
Castro, declaring next Good Friday a holiday, is certainly a very positive
sign. The Holy See hopes that this will facilitate participation in religious
celebrations and favor a happy Easter holiday. It also hopes that the Holy
Father’s visit may continue to produce fruits for the good of the Church and of
all Cubans.”

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 OSB.org, 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 OSB.org)


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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