Friday, November 21, 2014

Five Things To Remember On Nov. 21

1. Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, M.Sp.S., auxiliary bishop of Seattle and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee on Migration, welcomed the news Thursday that the Obama administration will defer deportations for many undocumented immigrants and their families.

2.Archbishop Gomez of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles has been using his Twitter account to advocate for immigration reform.

3. According to Catholic News Service, Pope Francis said The Catholic Church "is a mother without limits and without borders," welcoming and assisting all of God's children, particularly those fleeing violence, oppression and poverty.

4. Find out how Catholics are assisting Central Americans with the issues they face.

5. God loves you.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Five Things To Remember On Nov. 20

1. Two U.S. bishops applauded a proposal by the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission that would help provide sustainable broadband capacity to Catholic schools. In a November 18 letter, Archbishop George J. Lucas of Omaha and Bishop John C. Wester of Salt Lake City expressed their appreciation and support for the proposal of FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler to permanently increase the funding level of the E-Rate program. The proposal is subject to a vote of the full Commission, December 11.

2. Pope Francis says Christian unity remains important for Catholics.

3. Earlier this week, Pope Francis confirmed he was coming to the U.S. next year and Philadelphia is thinking big.

4. Catholic News Service's new book “Pope Francis: A Guide to God’s Time,” explains the church’s liturgical year using the pope’s homilies.

5. God loves you.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Five Things To Remember On Nov. 19

1. Catholic News Service reports: Pope Francis condemned the "unacceptable episodes of violence" in Jerusalem, episodes that "do not spare even places of worship," after an attack in a synagogue left four worshippers, a policeman and the two attackers dead.

2. More than 46 million Americans live below the poverty line. Learn about the state of poverty. Hashtags on social media for this weekend's Catholic Campaign for Human Development Collection include #PowerofCCHD and #OnTheMargins

3. Today at 12:30 pm EST is your chance to ask questions about peace and a two-state solution in the Holy Land.

4. Archbishop Charles Chaput reacts to the exciting news that Pope Francis is coming to Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families.

5. God loves you.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Five Things to Remember November 18

1. Welcome to Chicago, Archbishop Cupich. The ninth archbishop of Chicago is installed at Holy Name Cathedral at 3 p.m. Eastern today. Chicago media will provide live streaming coverage of the event.

2. Human life and dignity: In the last 24 hours, bishops representing different USCCB committees have reached out to Congress on a range of issues, including protecting conscience rights against participation and coverage of abortion and defending programs that serve the poor and vulnerable.

3. As the 50th anniversary of Vatican II's Decree on Ecumenism nears this Friday, the new chairman of USCCB Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski of Springfield, Massachusetts, blogs about "the power of becoming a Church in dialogue."

4. Still buzzing about yesterday's announcement of Pope Francis' September 2015 visit to Philadelphia and the World Meeting of Families? Registration is open online.

5. God loves you.

(CNS Photo/Karen Callaway, Catholic New World)

The Power of Becoming a Church in Dialogue

By Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski

Our choice of words can make a profound difference.

Our posture can make a profound difference.

We as a Church have learned these lessons as we have engaged in dialogue with our fellow Christians for the past 50 years. When the words we use are harsh and judgmental, people don't stick around to hear what else we might have to say, even if it might be beneficial to them. When we assume a posture that is defensive and closed, people don't bother to approach us in the first place.

With its Decree on Ecumenism, issued 50 years ago this month, the Second Vatican Council transformed the Catholic Church into a Church of dialogue. Our focus shifted from the errors we saw  in other Christian traditions to an acknowledgement that the Holy Spirit is also working in the lives of these communities and that, yes, there are positive elements to them, even things Catholics can learn from them.

And thus it becomes imperative that we dialogue.

In 50 years of dialogue with other Christians, we have seen progress that would have been unimaginable before the Council:
The world of dialogue has received a real shot of adrenaline with Pope Francis, a man of dialogue to his core. The response to the world's challenges, Pope Francis said in Brazil last year, should be "dialogue, dialogue, dialogue."

"Dialogue between generations, dialogue with the people, because we are all people, the capacity to give and receive, while remaining open to the truth," Pope Francis said.

In this light, we see that dialogue is not merely a tool for different Christians and religions to better understand the truth of one another, but an answer to the call for the Church to go out from itself and bring Christ's mercy to people on the margins.

This is the power of being a Church in dialogue. The world of ecumenical relationships has seen the Holy Spirit at work time and again over the past 50 years. Now it is up to the Church to answer the call of Pope Francis, Blessed Paul VI and the Council, to take this model and truly apply it to a dialogue with the whole world.

Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski is bishop of the Diocese of Springfield, Massachusetts, and the new chairman of the Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Five Things to Remember November 17

1. Pope Francis is coming to Philadelphia! This morning the pope announced his intention to travel to Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families in September 2015. More information on the event, including how to register, is available online.

2. Archbishop Cupich is in Chicago. Tuesday will see Archbishop Blase Cupich installed as the ninth archbishop of Chicago, the third largest diocese in the United States. NBC News and America Magazine interviewed Archbishop Cupich, and America has the full transcript.

3. This Friday marks the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council's Decree on Ecumenism. Father John Crossin, head of USCCB Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, blogs about the decree's call to all Christians to pray to the Holy Spirit for ongoing conversion that will lead to unity.

4. Did you miss the U.S. bishops' 2014 Fall General Assembly in Baltimore last week? Video on demand of all public sessions and media conferences is available online.

5. God loves you.

(CNS Photo/Paul Haring)

Sunday, November 16, 2014

For Christian Unity to Occur, We Have to Convert (Seriously)

By Father John Crossin, OSFS

Before the Second Vatican Council, the Catholic Church had a simple solution to the challenge of achieving Christian unity: all the other Christians could convert.

The Second Vatican Council offered a new pastoral lens for approaching this issue. It is through this lens that the Council's Decree on Ecumenism (Unitatis Redintegratio) -- or the Restoration of Unity -- should be viewed. The decree calls for positive relationships with Christians outside the Catholic Church, and it calls for inward reflection and renewal of our Catholic tradition.

In other words, Catholics are also called to conversion.

This is because, in order to effectively mission to those outside our tradition, there had to be internal examination of our broken relationships with other Christians. For a long stretch of history, Christians of differing denominations ignored or were hostile to each other. The communication, cooperation, and collaboration that has been a hallmark of the ecumenical movement hardly existed in years leading up to the Council. The decree puts in stark terms why that had to change, namely that Christian disunity "openly contradicts the will of Christ, scandalizes the world, and damages the holy cause of preaching the Gospel to every creature."

The decree doesn't pretend that this self reflection necessary for inward renewal will be easy. But it makes clear that this is a prerequisite for entering into ecumenical relationship and is also a "duty"-- "to make a careful and honest appraisal of whatever need to be done or renewed in the Catholic household itself, in order that its life may bear witness more clearly and faithfully to the teachings and institutions which have come to it from Christ through the Apostles."

This means ecumenism is not just for the intellectual elite and clergy of Catholic institutions. The Council demands that every Catholic "recognize the signs of the times and to take an active and intelligent part in the work of ecumenism."

Of course, healing wounds and divisions that have been in place for centuries is a daunting task. That's why, thankfully, it's not ultimately up to us, but to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit plays a key role in every step of the ecumenical process. Recognition of the movement of the Holy Spirit in other Christian traditions is how the Catholic Church was ever able to get to a place where it could engage other Christians “with love for the truth, with charity, and with humility." The Council fathers wrote that “anything wrought by the grace of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of our separated brethren can be a help to our own edification. Whatever is truly Christian is never contrary to what is genuinely belongs to  the faith; indeed, it can always bring a deeper realization of the mystery of Christ and the Church."

Echoing the Council, Pope Francis says unity is a gift we need to ask for, and the Holy Spirit accompanies us on the path toward unity and continual conversion.

"Unity will not come about as a miracle at the very end. Rather, unity comes about in journeying; the Holy Spirit does this on the journey," Pope Francis said in January. "If we do not walk together, if we do not pray for one another, if we do not collaborate in the many ways that we can in this world for the People of God, then unity will not come about! But it will happen on this journey, in each step we take. And it is not we who are doing this, but rather the Holy Spirit, who sees our good will."

Father John Crossin, OSFS is executive director of the Secretariat of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. He is a consultor to the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. He tweets @crossinusccb.