Thursday, January 22, 2015

Five Things To Remember On Jan. 22

1. Today, bishops and thousands of Catholics are taking part in the March for Life in Washington. You can see and share photos on our Instagram, Facebook and Twitter accounts to see all those stepping forward for the protection of all life.

2. Also be sure to read and share Cardinal O'Malley's powerful homily from last night's National Prayer Vigil for Life.

3. Archbishop Lori Praised the unanimous Supreme Court decision protecting the religious freedom of a Muslim prisoner.

4. Pope Francis named Father Daniel E. Garcia, a priest of the Diocese of Austin, Texas, auxiliary bishop of Austin yesterday. Father Garcia, 54, is currently the vicar general of the diocese and moderator of the curia. Last week, Pope Francis also named an auxiliary bishop of New Orleans, Bishop-elect Father Fernand Cheri III.

5. God loves you

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Deeper Conversion to Christ -- an Ecumenical Perspective

By Father John Crossin, OSFS

Recently Pope Francis set off a flurry of media commentary with his pre-Christmas "challenge" or "Examination of Conscience" for members of the Curia. I read through his 15 points and thought that this was a good examination for almost anyone. In fact, I noted a number of things that I myself need to work on. [I am not mentioning them here!]  I was confirmed in my belief when our Provincial Superior in his weekly email update confessed that he too need to work on a number of the items listed by Pope Francis—and encouraged all member of our Province to do the same!

January 18-25 is the celebration of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. This week, just slightly more than 50 years after the promulgation of the Decree on Ecumenism of the Second Vatican Council, is a good time for a little personal examination.

The section on "Renewal and conversion" of Saint John Paul II's encyclical on ecumenism Ut Unum Sint deals with conversion [# 15-17]. Those section in my copy are all marked up and falling apart. I think conversion is central to the spiritual maturity that is necessary for Christian Unity.
Here are two of my favorite passages:

  • …there is an increased sense of the need for repentance: an awareness of certain exclusions which seriously harm fraternal charity, of certain refusals to forgive, of a certain pride, of an unevangelical insistence of condemning the "other side," of a disdain born of an unhealthy presumption. Thus, the entire life of Christians is marked by a concern for ecumenism….
  • Each one therefore ought to be more radically converted to the Gospel and, without ever losing sight of God’s plan, change his or her way of looking at things [#15].

One of my New Year's resolutions is to leave room for the Holy Spirit, to try not to have things all planned out the way I think they should go. Now I have told one thing I need to work on!
To take the next steps toward Christian Unity we will all need "to go deeper" in our relationship with Christ.

Father John Crossin, OSFS, is executive director of the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Five Things To Remember On Jan. 20

1. In case you missed it, Pope Francis confirmed trips to Washington and New York, in addition to his already planned visit to Philadelphia, yesterday.

2. It's the National Week of Prayer for Christian Unity and Father John Crossin writes about the seven markers on the road to Christian unity.

3. Catholic Schools Week starts Saturday. Later this week, we'll be sharing messages from bishops about why they love Catholic schools.

4. Read some of the pope's answers to questions from reporters on a flight back to Rome.

5. God loves you.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Five Things To Remember On Jan. 16

1. Catholic News Service reports: "Appealing to the traditional values of Filipino Catholic families, Pope Francis made one of his strongest calls as pope against movements to recognize same-sex unions as marriage."

2. If you are a US Catholic of Asian/Pacific Island heritage, please take this brief survey: Deadline extended to Feb. 28

3. Tomorrow is the start of the 9DaysforLife novena. You can download the app, get emails and text alerts by signing up at

4. The U.S. Catholic Church has helped rebuild Haiti five years after a devastating earthquake. One of those contributions, a hospital, was dedicated yesterday. See photos on our Facebook page.

5. God loves you.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Five Things To Remember On Jan. 15

1. The path to peace in the Holy Land requires respect for the human rights and dignity of both Israelis and Palestinians, said bishops from Europe, South Africa and North America, gathered in the Holy Land to pray for peace, January 15. The Co-Ordination of Episcopal Conference in Support of the Church of the Holy Land has met every January since 1998 to pray and act in solidarity with the Christian community in the Holy Land.

2. Use this new calendar with daily suggestions for reflection, learning and action about poverty. Re-post the daily Twitter-length suggestions on social media to help get the word out about poverty and its root causes.

3. If you are a leader in your ministry, parish, or diocese, check out our #9DaysforLife resources and planning page!

4. Large crowds greeted Pope Francis in his visit to the Philippines today.

5. God loves you.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Five Things To Remember On Jan. 14

1. Pope Francis has appointed Msgr. Joseph G. Hanefeldt, 56, pastor of Christ the King Parish in Omaha, Nebraska, bishop of Grand Island, Nebraska, and accepted the resignation of Bishop William J. Dendinger, 75, from pastoral governance of the diocese.

2. As U.S. Catholic leaders visit Haiti, see how one hospital has risen up thanks to the relationship between Catholic organizations in both countries.

3. U.S. Catholic leaders are also helping build up education in Haiti. USCCB President Archbishop Joseph Kurtz and Archbishop Paul Coakley heard about those efforts yesterday. You can see a gallery on our Facebook.

4. In a January 13 letter, Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, New Mexico, reiterated his committee’s support for the United States and its P5 + 1 partners in their ongoing dialogue with Iran regarding its nuclear program.

5. God loves you.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Five Things To Remember On Jan. 13

1. Catholic leaders head to Haiti today to see progress since the earthquake five years ago. Here's more from Catholic Relief Services: . People are using #Haiti5yr on social media to continue the conversation.

2. Pope Francis said today in Sri Lanka that religion must never be abused in the cause of war.

3. We've changed our cover photo in preparation for the 9 Days for Life, which starts Jan. 17. There are plenty of graphics for you to share at and check out, where you can download the novena app for iPhone and Android.

4. As part of this year’s Catholic Schools Week activities, a live discussion on January 15 will address the importance of Catholic schools in the context of the New Evangelization, and will be available to diocesan and ministry groups through MyUSCCB. More information and registration instructions can be found at Social media messages with the hashtag #CSW15 are also encouraged during that week.

5. God loves you.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Don't Forget the Past: Concerns Raised by Jewish-Catholic Dialogue

By Father John W. Crossin, OSFS

The USCCB Dialogue with the Council of Synagogues meeting in New York, December 1, was both disconcerting and instructive for me.  Rabbi Kenneth Jacobsen’s presentation in particular on “Rising Anti-Semitism in Europe” provided substance and cause for concern. He spoke candidly about people’s experience and backed this up with recent studies. He noted, for example, that around 60 percent of the Jews in France expect to be a victim of an “incident” in one way or another.
He believes that the cultural and economic stress in Europe, generally more serious than that in the States, is one of the roots of the rise in anti-Semitic deeds and words. For many too the Holocaust is a distant memory.

All is not bleak, however. Many leaders of European countries have taken strong stands against these words and deeds. This makes the situation very different from Germany in the 1930s.
My concern is closer to home. For years I have wondered if we are taking for granted the post-Vatican II cordial relationships between Jews and Catholics. The status quo may cause us to neglect our history—things were not usually this way.  We too have negative economic conditions for many people. We too can be forgetful of the past.

Cardinal Dolan, Catholic Co-Chair of the Dialogue, noted in the discussion with Rabbi Jacobsen that the Church’s diminished standing in Europe reduces its ability to combat anti-Semitism. I am wondering if that situation could be repeated here.

One of the key solutions is leadership. I am comforted by the fact that the Bearing Witness program for Catholic school teachers enables them to learn Jewish and Catholic history in depth. They can share accurate history with their students.

This raises another key solution, what we in ecumenical and interreligious dialogue call reception. If understanding and friendship grow out of a dialogue between leaders or scholars of two religious groups, then that progress has to be reflected in the daily realities of those faith communities. The dialogue has to be received by the average person and lived out through understanding, respect and even friendship.

Catholic leaders speak out against acts of violence and intolerance against synagogues and other religions. However, most of our people are aware that things have changed and we don’t want them to drift or abruptly change back to how they were before. In fact, ideally, our people should be moving forward, toward what Pope Francis calls a “culture of encounter” between people.

A detailed report on the dialogue session can be found online.

Father John W. Crossin is an Oblate of St. Francis De Sales and executive director of the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Five Things To Remember On Jan. 9

1. “You can follow thousands of catechism courses, thousands of spirituality courses, thousands of yoga or zen courses and all these things. But none of this will be able to give you the freedom as a child (of God).  Only the Holy Spirit can prompt your heart to say ‘Father.’ Only the Holy Spirit is capable of banishing, of breaking that hardness of heart and making it … soft?  No, I don’t like that word, … ‘docile’.  Docile towards the Lord.  Docile when it comes to the freedom to love.” - Pope Francis today during his homily.

2. It's Poverty Awareness Month. The Church’s social teaching reminds Catholics that providing for the needs of the poor and vulnerable is not a nice but optional thing to do with our surplus, but is a positive obligation for every person of faith.  It’s the actualization of the words of Jesus, “As often as you did this for the least of my brothers, you did it for me.”

3. Catholic News Service reports: "A panel of theologians advising the Vatican's Congregation for Saints' Causes voted unanimously to recognize the late Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero as a martyr, according to the newspaper of the Italian bishops' conference."

4. Next week starts the 9 Days for Life campaign here at the USCCB. Interested? Download the app on iTunes or on Google Play.

5. God loves you.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Five Things To Remember On Jan. 8

1. Pope Francis offered prayers today for the victims of the Paris attack. He also tweeted "#PrayersforParis"

2. Did you know that the USCCB's Department of Migration and Refugee Services (MRS) settles 30% of all all refugees resettled into the U.S. during 2011? As National Migration Week continues, learn more about the work of the MRS and how you can support it.

3. Help young people in your community learn more about how faith inspires us to address poverty in our communities. Invite your parish and schools in your area to become involved in the Multi-Media Youth Arts Contest (deadline March 31), sponsored by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development.

4. An upcoming trip to Asia for Pope Francis highlights his concern for the continent, the Vatican said.

5. God loves you.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Five Things To Remember On Jan. 7

1. Pope Francis said today that "Mothers are the strongest antidote to the spread of selfish individualism."

2. Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican secretary of state, spoke about the distinctive qualities of U.S. vocations after the blessing of a new building at the Pontifical North American College.

3. The Church worldwide is celebrating the gift of those in consecrated life. Follow social media talk at #YCL15.

4. Get a better understanding of the Church's position on current immigration issues during National Migration Week.

5. God loves you.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Five Things To Remember on Jan. 6

1. Catholic News Service reports, that "The Vatican secretary of state said he expects Pope Francis to visit New York City and Washington, D.C., during his September trip to the United States. Cardinal Pietro Parolin, who as secretary of state is considered the highest Vatican official under the pope, spoke to reporters Jan. 6, following a ceremony to dedicate a new building at the Pontifical North American College, the U.S. seminary in Rome." As the CNS also reports, the only officially confirmed U.S. city for a papal visit so far is Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families.

2. A period of prayer, penance, and pilgrimage, January 17-25, 2015, will mark the anniversary of the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion throughout pregnancy. The “9 Days for Life” novena encourages nationwide solidarity in prayer for daily intentions, including for couples experiencing infertility, those mourning the loss of a child through abortion, children in need of adoptive homes, and for an end to abortion and use of the death penalty. Resources for the novena are available in numerous ways, including an app.

3. National Catholic Schools Week 2015 will be observed in dioceses around the country January 25–31. This year’s theme, “Catholic Schools: Communities of Faith, Knowledge and Service,” focuses on the important academic, faith-building and societal contributions provided by a Catholic education.

4. The Catholic News Service reports that Pope Francis said today, "God does not manifest himself in the power of this world, but speaks to us in the humbleness of his love." The pope said this for feast of the Epiphany.

5. God loves you.

(CNS Photo/Paul Haring)

Monday, January 5, 2015

Five Things To Remember On Jan. 5

1. Pope Francis' New Years Resolution suggestions on Catholic News Service got a lot of traction on our Facebook page this weekend. Check them out and implement them in your life.

2. We are in the last week of the Christmas season. For daily tips, prayers, suggestions and more, visit our calendar.

3. On Jan. 17, we begin the 9 Days for Life. We have English and Spanish resources available at Download and share on your social media.

4. We are in the middle of National Migration Week with the theme "We Are One Family Under God" Check out these beautiful prayer cards for migrant families and children.

5. God loves you.