Monthly Archives: August 2013


Now that we are nearing Labor Day, it is fair to say: “Summer vacation is over.” I say it sadly since it means snow will be flying sooner than later. In spite of the fact that our poor children had to return to school in some of the hottest weather we’ve had all summer, we know that soon the leaves will be turning and heavy sweaters and coats will be the order of the day. Time to get back to the books and the work of education.

Education is work in which we are all involved. Parents, pastors, administrators, educators, staff and children—we all have work to do. We administrators and pastors have the large task of trying to redefine the method by which our schools are funded. Of course, most of the “heavy lifting” in this area is still borne by school tuitions and parish subsidies. There are, however, some new methods we will try to explore to improve our funding. These options, by design, attempt to create some fairly equal sharing across the diocese, assisting parents in fulfilling their obligation to educate their children in the Catholic school while maintaining the highest standards of excellence that have always been the hallmark of Catholic Education throughout the ages.

In the area of finance, the Deans and the Council of Priests will discuss these matters with a view toward making some changes and updating policies. You all know, and have heard me say many times before, that our Catholic schools are part of the mission of evangelization in the Church. We pride ourselves, further, on the fact that our Catholic schools are, and have been for years, at the forefront of academic excellence, maintaining the highest standards for quality education in elementary and, in particular, secondary education. The cost of our schools is part of the sacrifice we all make to secure the faith for the coming generations. Catholic schools should not simply be seen as “burdens” for those “unfortunate” parishes who happen to be “stuck” with them. Our review of financing will provide us with some more creative and innovative methods that will help us all share our common responsibility to educate our young people and maintain our Catholic schools.

Throughout the Diocese, I am seeing great efforts being taken by so many inside and outside the educational community to support and promote Catholic schools. New schools are opening and existing schools are modernizing and expanding their buildings. Enrollments are creeping up in slow and positive directions. I am even speaking with our seminarians to hear, who among them may be interested in going on for further study in education and administration. These efforts are part of our strategic diocesan planning for the future and I am happy to say that this part of the planning seems bright.

I have said to you many times over that I am a great supporter of Catholic Education and, particularly, Catholic schools. With Doctor Susan Holman, our Superintendent of Schools, and those responsible for assisting her in assembling a new and visionary finance procedure, and our superb teachers and administrators, I am certain that as our schools open this fall it will be with a new hope and positive approach to the proclamation of the faith and the education of our children. Through our, strong families, good parishes and vibrant schools, we will create in our Diocese a culture of life that will produce good citizens and healthy and holy human beings.

Join me at Sunday Mass to help this happen faster and stronger!


In his statement concerning the current situation in Egypt, Patriarch Ibrahim Isaac (the counter part of our President of the USCCB) said:

“With pain, but also with hope, the Catholic Church in Egypt is following what our country is experiencing: terrorist attacks, killings and the burning of churches, schools and state institutions. Therefore, out of love for our country and in solidarity with all lovers of Egypt, Christians and Muslims, we are trying to do our best to communicate with friendly organizations around the world to clarify for them the reality of events taking place in our country. … We address the international conscious and all national leaders that they understand and believe that what is happening in Egypt now is not a political struggle between different factions, but a war against terrorism.”

Christian brothers and sisters are not only being routed and killed in Egypt simply because of the fact that they are Christians, there is a growing and systemic lack of respect for humanity—respect for the human person. Pope Francis and Coptic Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria have urged an end to the violence.

The Prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches, Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, recently told the French edition of Vatican Radio that Egypt’s revival must “take place in respect of the human person, in the mutual respect of all religions, in respect for religious freedom. The destruction of Christian churches is unacceptable. Religion cannot be used to justify violence.”

Pope Francis seemed to underscore that sentiment in his Angelus message last Sunday. “Faith,” he said, “is not decorating your life with a bit of religion … “

“Following Jesus means renouncing evil [and] selfishness, and choosing goodness, truth and justice even when that requires sacrifice and renouncing our own interests.”

“Living a truly Christian life can lead to division, even within families,” the pope said. “But, attention: It’s not Jesus who divides. He sets out the criteria: Live for oneself or for God and others, ask to be served or serve; obey one’s ego or obey God — it is in this sense that Jesus is a ‘sign of contradiction.'”

“When Jesus told his disciples he had come to ‘set the world on fire,’” the pope said, “he was not authorizing the use of force to spread the faith. Rather, it is the exact opposite: The true force of the Christian is the force of truth and love, which means renouncing the use of violence.”

As we reflect upon the message of the Gospel, the message of the Vicar of Christ, and the cries of the world in search for mercy and justice, it seems to me that, here, in the land of the free and the home of the brave, we might want to make a genuine effort to get to Sunday Mass. Yes, we are free to sleep in late on Sundays, have special brunches on Sundays, go fishing, go to the mall, and do all sorts of otherreally fun things on Sundays. Don’t you think, however, that we might do well to have a little solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan? Remember that so many Egyptians are being maltreated, abused, made homeless, or killed because people have put God outside of their lives and decided to act like gods themselves?

I’m sure in Egypt they like to go to brunch, sleep in, or go to the mall on Sundays too; but, I’m willing to bet that many more would rather be left in peace to go to their churches, where they can be received and loved unconditionally by God. It would be good for us to keep them in mind here, in the land of the free and the home of the brave, where we respect human freedom and value its endurance as part of our national patrimony. Our treasured freedom of religion not only keeps our church doors open, but also helps us to keep our minds and hearts open so that we can be bearers of the Gospel to others by our words and actions.

So, you know, I’ll look forward to seeing you at Sunday Mass.


These days remind me of an old proverb: “May you live in interesting times.” The saying, as I once wrote in this blog, is of Asian origin and is filled with the ancient wisdom that often comes with the two edged sword of literal and practical irony. The saying invites the recipient to “interesting” times. Ultimately, the irony connotes “interesting” as belonging to something other than what appeals to one’s intellectual curiosity or enlightenment; rather “interesting” here leads one to expect unsteady, perturbing, or even troubling times. So in these days I find myself living the resonance of the ancients’ dreams and the multi-faceted fulfillment of their mystical proverb.

Recently, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) made a change in its membership policy for youth. The basics of the resolution to the youth membership policy requires the youth member to (a) subscribe to and abide by the values expressed in the Scout Oath and Law, (b) subscribe to and abide by the precepts of the Declaration of Religious Principles (duty to God), and (c) demonstrate behavior that exemplifies the highest level of good conduct and respect for others and is consistent at all times with the values expressed in the Scout Oath and Law. No youth may be denied membership in the BSA on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone.

The National Catholic Committee on Scouting (NCCS) understands this policy to mean the following: (a) a youth will not be prevented from receiving a rank award or religious emblem simply for having or experiencing a same-sex attraction; (b) a youth will not need to hide the fact that he has or experiences this attraction, but a youth also will not be encouraged or pressured to disclose publically the experience of such attraction; and (c) a youth experiencing same-sex attraction should not be afraid that he will be expelled by the Scouting community by disclosing the experience of such attraction.

There have been, and will be, no doubt more reactions to this change by the BSA which has a long, close, and admirable relationship with the Christian Church, especially the Catholic Church. BSA is expected to provide more details on the application of this resolution over the coming months leading up to the resolution’s implementation on 1 January 2014. In addition, it is important to remember that nowhere in the BSA documentation have they indicated that this change means that what some have referenced to as “openly gay” youth will be admitted to the organization. This change in policy does not mean acceptance or promotion of a “gay lifestyle” since that would be contrary to the values of the BSA; rather, it means that a youth who may disclose that he is experiencing a same-sex attraction may not be excluded, bullied, treated with disrespect or denied advancement within the movement. The BSA offers the additional clarification that the Scout Oath begins with duty to God, and the Scout Law ends with a Scout’s obligation to be reverent. Those will always remain core values of the BSA. The values set forth in the Scout Oath and Law are fundamental to the BSA and central to teaching young people to make better choices throughout their lifetimes.

As Bishop, I can certainly attest to the significant accomplishments and benefits that Scouting has given to our Diocese over the years. The new policy of the BSA does, indeed, prove that we live in “interesting” times, but it also gives us an opportunity to ponder and consider carefully that the new BSA membership policy as such does not necessarily contradict the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church as it is found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), numbers 2357-59, and the USCCB document: Ministry to Persons with a Homosexual Inclination: Guidelines for Pastoral Care (2006).

Interesting, or not, these are the times in which we live. While we stand on principle, we must also remember that charity and prudence also guide our way with the inspiration and guidance of the Holy Spirit. The bishops of the United States are in contact with the leadership of the BSA to assure that the mainstays of the great traditions of Scouting and its treasured alliance with the Church will remain as strong as we can possibly maintain in these interesting times.

With hope for the future, I’ll see you at Sunday Mass.


Catholic beach parties have taken on a whole new meaning given that three million souls celebrated with Pope Francis on the famous Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro last week. The Pope, being acclaimed as a “Frock Star,” complete with sombrero, certainly knows how to party with the best of them. What a great opportunity for the youth of the world to participate in such an exuberant display of energy, emotion, and genuine spiritual fervor.

From the time of its inception, World Youth Day has resolutely gained momentum precisely to awaken in the next generation a sense of purpose and participation in the mission of Christ. Watching this gathering of the youth of the world in the name of Jesus Christ draws us all to a lively and energetic expression of faith in the Person of Jesus and an awareness of His reality and true presence in our midst.

Prayer, first and foremost, focused the attention of all participants on that spiritual relationship with Jesus. It was expressed in many different ways—but prayer activated the whole gathering and gave it purpose. Adoration of our Lord, present in the Most Blessed Sacrament, was pivotal and plentiful round-the-clock. The youth of the world came to be with and celebrate Jesus Christ.

Secondly, there was a sense of getting to know Him better. Bishops from around the world offered catechesis and teachings. In addition, talks centered on the WYD theme were given based on Sacred Scripture showing the relevance of the teachings of the Church. Specific topics relating to young people and various methods of personally encountering Jesus and introducing Him to others, were also brought to light. It was basic evangelization at its best.

Thirdly, of course, all of this was done with the Vicar of Christ, the Successor of Saint Peter, the Pope himself. Pope Francis certainly did not fail to ignite the fire of evangelical fire in the crowds at Rio.

Personal conversion, attention to and identification with the mission, and a powerful celebration of faith in action all done on the world stage with a few million brothers and sisters was a winning formula that stirred the minds and hearts of young people who wanted to know and love Christ. It was a great beach party, and we should all be proud of our Pope and his young friends who allowed us to share in it. If God wants, in 2016 we will see a gathering of the youth of the world feeling the presence of the spiritual father of WYD, Saint John Paul II, in Krakow. The planning has already begun …

Continue the celebration at Sunday Mass!