Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Vatican Film Library

On the new Vatican City Stae Web site are links to a few of the more famous historical films in Vatican possession. Available is a film of Pope Leo XIII from 1896, the inauguration of Vatican Radio, and two films from the Second Vatican Council, for instance. Check it out: http://www.vaticanstate.va/templates/dettaglio.aspx?NRMODE=Published&NRNODEGUID=%7bE0DCCE8D-8A28-4605-888F-A0B25062EA72%7d&NRORIGINALURL=%2fEN%2fOther_Institutions%2fVatican_Film_Library%2ehtm&NRCACHEHINT=Guest

Thursday, July 26, 2007

A year of our omnipresent bishop

Bishop Jerome E. Listecki has been shepherd of the Diocese of La Crosse for more than two years now. I have had the distinct honor of shadowing him for the latter half of that time. Yes, the end of the month will mark the first anniversary of my official status as a reporter for the Catholic Times. What I've seen of Bishop Listecki during that year shows me he's definitely a man for the people, a good communicator and a personable conversationalist. For your enjoyment, I thought I would post a photo review of sorts of our omnipresent bishop over the course of the past year.

August 19, 2006: My very first bishop event and very first published bishop photo. Bishop Listecki lays out his pastoral vision for the diocese to our DRE's and religious educators

September 9, 2006: Bishop Listecki at Stevens Point Pacelli High School's 50th anniversary. I am a 2000 graduate of that school.

October 5, 2006: For a city boy, Bishop Listecki hits off pretty well with the farmers. Here he is a our annual Rural Life Day Conference, last year held near Athens.

November 11, 2006: Pastoral Planning... Last November, Bishop Listecki presented for the first time to the diocese's deacons and pastoral ministers the proposed pastoral plan of a committee he established. The plan calls for the virtual merging of many of our rural parishes, while closing only one church building. That plan then spent the year being commented on by people from various deaneries, and now sits before the bishop for his approval.

January 29, 2007: Our bishop as a listener... Speaking on the Eucharist at St. Agnes in Weston, Bishop Listecki takes the time to listen to his flock. This Q&A really showed me the bishop can be a good listener.

February 11, 2007: A bishop's blessing. Bishop Listecki offers his blessing as he exits Sacred Heart Church in Polonia. He was there for the annual Brother James Miller Day.

April 5, 2007: Holy Oils. Bishop Listecki blesses the Sacred Chrism at our Holy Thursday morning Chrism Mass at St. Joseph the Workman Cathedral in La Crosse.

June 9, 2007: Newly ordained transitional Deacon Keith Kitzhaber promises respect and obedience to Bishop Listecki and his successors at St. Mary's in Greenwood.

June 11, 2007: Two days later, Bishop Listecki speaks to Deacon James Weighner immediately before ordaining him to the priesthood at the cathedral.

July 14, 2007: Bishop Jerome Listecki congratulates a graduate of the Diocesan School of Biblical Studies.

July 21, 2007: And only last week, at the 150th anniversary of St. Mary's in Fountain City, Bishop Listecki does the most important thing he can for his flock -- celebrate the Eucharist.

More of my motu proprio commentary

Appearing in today's Catholic Times is a commentary I wrote on "recent Vatican documents" -- that is, the pope's motu proprio and the CDF's doctrinal statement. For your online enjoyment, eccoloqua:

Recent documents help interpret Vatican II
By Franz Klein
Catholic Times Columnist

The release of two Vatican documents in quick succession created a media flurry these past few weeks.

First came Pope Benedict XVI’s “Summorum Pontificum,” the long-expected motu proprio that established the Tridentine Mass as the “extraordinary” form of the Roman Rite, abrogating any special permissions needed to celebrate it.

A few short days later, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith released its own “Responses to Some Questions Regarding Certain Aspects of the Doctrine of the Church.” In a series of questions and answers, this cumbersomely named document clarified that, even after Vatican II, the one true Church of Christ remains the Roman Catholic Church.

In some circles, these two documents proved far from being occasions for rejoicing.

Speaking about the pope’s motu proprio, Italian Bishop Luca Brandolini complained to La Repubblica that ”a reform for which many people worked, with great sacrifice and only inspired by the desire to renew the Church, has now been cancelled.”

“I can’t fight back my tears. This is the saddest moment in my life as a man, priest and bishop. … It’s a day of mourning, not just for me but for the many people who worked for the Second Vatican Council,” Bishop Brandolini added.

Ecclesiastics like Bishop Brandolini, a renowned liturgist who became head of the Sora-Aquino-Pontecorvo diocese, belong to what is known as the “Bologna School,” founded by Father Giuseppe Dossetti in the aftermath of the Council. According to their line of thought, the Council must be followed, not according to its letter, but according to its “spirit.”

Foremost in their thinking is that a fundamental rupture, following a “hermeneutic of discontinuity,” took place. With this rupture, a “breath of fresh air” was to enter the Church, and both liturgy and doctrine were to take a radically new direction that conformed with modern ways of thinking.

An American proponent of the Bologna School would be Notre Dame University’s dissident theologian Father Richard McBrien.

“The strongest and, in the long run, the most effective opposition to the Second Vatican Council comes not from the vocal detractors of the Council’s spirit and orientation but rather from those who insist that the Council really changed nothing at all,” Father McBrien wrote last year.

All this in spite of Blessed Pope John XXIII’s clear warning as the Council began, that he wished “to transmit the doctrine, pure and integral, without any attenuation or distortion.”

And all this in spite of Pope Paul VI’s warning during the Council that “what was, still is. What the Church has taught down through the centuries, we also teach.”

For Bishop Brandolini, Father McBrien and other members of the Bologna School, the election of Pope Benedict XVI, a Council attendee, to the papacy has proven to be a worst nightmare.

“The hermeneutic of discontinuity risks ending in a split between the pre-conciliar Church and the post-conciliar Church,” Pope Benedict told the Roman Curia in 2005, warning of what might come.

Now the pope has matched his warning with the beginnings of a remedy, in the form of two documents – namely, his motu proprio and the CDF’s doctrinal clarification.

“The Second Vatican Council neither changed nor intended to change this doctrine; rather it developed, deepened and more fully explained it,” the CDF document said regarding Catholic doctrine on the nature of the Church.

And regarding the Tridentine Mass, the pope wrote, “There is no contradiction between the two editions of the Roman Missal. In the history of the liturgy there is growth and progress, but no rupture. What earlier generations held as sacred remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful.”

Practically speaking, these documents will eventually help ordinary, everyday Catholics to experience the delayed fruits of the council – both in terms of liturgy and doctrine.

By allowing the older form of the liturgy to coexist alongside the newer form, the pope’s motu proprio should make it easier to weed out anything contrary to tradition in the newer form. And by eliminating erroneous ideas regarding the nature of the Church, the CDF’s clarification should nurture an ecumenism that begins honestly by recognizing what the Church can’t give up – that she is the true Church instituted by Christ.

Are these two documents cure-alls? Certainly not. A hundred and fifty years after the Council of Trent, the Vatican was still correcting misinterpretations of that Council’s teachings. But maybe now, over four decades after Vatican II, we can at least start to experience the fruits of our own generation’s council.

The Catholic Times - July 26, 2007

Here it is -- the front page of today's Catholic Times. For the first time in awhile, no article of mine made the front page. Taking my place this time was Joe O'Brien, formerly assistant editor, who now writes occasionally as a correspondent. His lead article is on Catholic Charitie's efforts to curb domestic violence -- surely a worthy thing to highlight. As I wrote previously, we're not online, so if you want to read more, you'll have to subscribe!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Highlighting Cristianità

A program I enjoy watching on a weekly basis is Rai TV-produced Cristianità, an Italian language program that airs during the pope's weekly Angelus message. Suor Myriam Castelli interviews a few guests, then breaks for the pope's message, and then asks them what they think about what the pope said. Of course, it's in Italian -- but the pope says a little bit in English during his address, so you would hear something of your own language. In any case, it's a fun way to watch the pope's Angelus on a weekly basis, even if you don't understand everything that's being said.

Here's Rai TV's description of the show:
Cristianità è un programma di cultura religiosa che propone e commenta il messaggio che il Papa pronuncia all’Angelus ai fedeli radunati in piazza San Pietro. Autore e conduttore del programma è suor Myriam Castelli che, insieme a vari ospiti in studio, scelti tra alti prelati, professionisti e artisti commenta, in diretta dagli studi Rai di Saxa Rubra, le parole del Pontefice.

And a link directly to the pope's impassioned plea yesterday for peace from his vacation spot: http://www.international.rai.it/cristianita/index.php?sezione=puntata

My commentary in the Tribune

Appearing in the Sunday La Crosse Tribune was my commentary on the CDF's document. Instead of trying to deflect the Vatican's statement, or to criticize whether it said enough (which criticism I think would be valid), I tried to give another Protestant view of the document, which the media seemed to miss. There are some Protestants (as well as some Catholics) who aren't afraid to really dialogue, while holding fast to what makes them Protestant or Catholic...

Vatican avoids ecumenical confusion

For better or worse, Vatican documents tend to stir up controversy. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s most recent document was certainly no exception.

Cumbersomely named “Responses to Some Questions regarding Certain Aspects of the Doctrine on the Church,” the hard-hitting June 29 document was an affirmation of the Catholic Church’s teaching that she is the one, true church founded by Christ.

The document rejects claims that this teaching changed following the Second Vatican Council. In fact, citing that council, the document states, “This one church, constituted and organized in this world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church, governed by the successor of Peter and the bishops in communion with him.”

Consequently, the document adds, Protestant churches “suffer from defects.”

It was to the latter statement that newspaper headlines gravitated. “Pope, restating 2000 document, cites ?defects’ of other faiths,” said the New York Times. “Papal arrogance may cause flight from church,” according tothe Indianapolis Star. “Pope’s statement on church primacy riles Protestant leaders,” stated the Hartford Courant. And “Who controls the gates of heaven?” asked the Orlando Sentinel.

On display in many of these articles was Protestant reaction that was decidedly - and at first glance understandably - negative.“An exclusive claim that identifies the Roman Catholic Church as the one church of Jesus Christ goes against the spirit of our Christian calling towards oneness in Christ,” commented a disapproving Rev. Setri Nyomi, general secretary of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches.

Like Nyomi, most of those reacting negatively to the document cited ecumenical concerns. How, they ask, are we to dialogue with the Catholic Church when it rejects our very existence as churches?

Although journalists somehow overlooked him, there is a prominent evangelical Protestant who provides an answer for his brethren. Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr. is currently the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, which is often described as the flagship school of the Southern Baptist Convention. Time Magazine has referred to him as the “reigning intellectual of the evangelical movement in the U.S.”

In a July 13 op-ed titled “No, I am not offended,” which was published on his Web site (albertmohler.com), Mohler had the following to say:

“Evangelicals should appreciate the candor reflected in this document. There is no effort here to confuse the issues. To the contrary, the document is an obvious attempt to set the record straight. The Roman Catholic Church does not deny that Christ is working redemptively through Protestant and evangelical churches, but it does deny that these churches are true churches in the most important sense. I appreciate the document’s clarity on this issue.”

Mohler went on to condemn what he termed a “false and deadly dangerous game of ecumenical confusion.” “Pope Benedict is not playing a game,” he wrote.

If they are offended by the Vatican document, Catholics and Protestants alike need to stop for a moment and ask themselves why they are Catholic or Protestant. Differences in belief and practice derive from more than personal preference.

If you are a Catholic, think of the thousands who were martyred at the hands of the Arians in defense of Jesus’ divinity in Christianity’s earliest centuries. Consider of the Catholics slaughtered in England during the Reformation years. Reflect on the Catholics being persecuted today by the Muslim majority in some African nations, or murdered at the hands of Hindu fanatics in India. They certainly found and continue to find something to cling to in their Catholicism.

I am Catholic and proud of it. I would expect a Protestant to be proud of his Protestantism as well. And I have far more respect for a Protestant who knows why he is a Protestant than for a Catholic who is ashamed to be a Catholic. For only when we know where we stand can honest dialogue begin.

Franz S. Klein writes for The Catholic Times in La Crosse.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Il Santo Padre in vacanza

Click on the link below to see a collation of SkyLife footage of the Holy Father relaxing on vacation. Even if you don't understand what he's saying, you can see something of his gentle disposition. And doesn't it make you want to be in Italy?!?!


God Bless...


New Vatican City State Web site

Thanks to a reader, here's a link to the Vatican City State's new Web site:

Yes, the Vatican was already online at www.vatican.va, but this new Web site functions less in the dissemination of Church pronouncements and more like a government Web site. I'm not sure I like the separation, because it emphasizes the role of the Church as a sovereign nation apart from her message. Now a tourist can visit a cultural site without ever being confronted with an opportunity to see what the Church teaches. I have nothing against the site itself, though -- it's well put together and very professional, and a handy resource as well.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Talk about Bizare

I guess we have all kinds here in the Diocese of La Crosse...

Holy Ghost burglarized again

When a jar of coins went missing from the rectory of Holy Ghost Church on Sunday, it seemed all too familiar to police investigators.The crime smelled of Alvin J. Coffman, who was convicted of similar crimes in Chippewa Falls in 2003, 2004 and 2006. However police believed he was serving time in a New York prison.

Over the weekend officers had a hunch Coffman - also known as Alan Kranz, Al Kaufman and a handful of other aliases - was back in town.

He was.But by early Tuesday morning, the man with a penchant for terrorizing priests was back behind bars.

At 2 a.m. Tuesday, officers crashed through the doors of room 36 at the Indianhead Motel, 501 Summit Ave., took Coffman into custody and confiscated over $200 in dimes and $35 in change.

Police believe the money came from a Sunday burglary at the Holy Ghost rectory and a Monday night burglary at the Notre Dame rectory, where $300 in cash was taken from an envelope in a desk, and about $100 in damage was reported from a forced entry.

Coffman is suspected of having his first contact this year with the Holy Ghost parish Friday. Despite stealing from the rectory on three prior occasions, Coffman and Father Edmund Doerre had never met face to face - until then.

That’s when Coffman, who identified himself as Robert Lange, went to the rectory, said he was in need of a place to stay, and received a lodging voucher from Doerre - the very man he had previously victimized.

Twisting this tale even further, Coffman checked into the hotel as Lange, stating a home address of 412 S. Main St., Chippewa Falls. That’s the address for the Holy Ghost rectory where Doerre resides.

Coffman was taken into custody on a felony warrant for burglary, theft, and driving a vehicle without the owners consent. Those charges stem from an incident when Coffman was in Chippewa Falls last summer.

That’s when he was involved in his third burglary of the Holy Ghost rectory. He then stole Father Doerre’s 2005 Honda Civic, which Coffman ended up rolling over in the town of LaFayette. When he was found hiding behind rolls of carpet in a LaFayette barn, he had in his possession coins that had been reported stolen from Doerre at the rectory.

Coffman’s habit of victimizing Doerre dates back to March 2003, when he gained entry to the rectory and stole several containers and collections of coins Doerre had been keeping. Coffman served 22 days in jail and was then extradited to New York, where he was wanted on charges in that state.

By October 2004, Coffman had returned to the Chippewa Falls area. This time he was arrested for a motor vehicle theft (not Doerre’s). But there was evidence he had burglarized the rectory again because inside the vehicle was a jacket belonging to Doerre. A check of the rectory revealed that coins were again missing.

After 90 days in jail on the motor vehicle theft, Coffman was sent back to New York, where he was incarcerated again. After his release in 2006, he absconded from probation and a warrant for his arrest was issued. Soon afterwards he ended up in Doerre’s overturned car in Lafayette.Police say they weren’t expecting Coffman to be released on parole from the New York jail until later this month or early August.

But he was released early and apparently absconded from probation. A New York warrant for his arrest is likely, according to police officials.

A year ago authorities were unsure if Coffman would ever serve time for burglarizing the rectory and stealing Doerre’s car because the New York charges took precedence.

The alternative, police thought, was to wait patiently at the rectory for Coffman to come back on his own.

They just never thought it would be this soon.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Saying goodbye to Bishop Zubick

(Il Santo Padre) - Ha nominato il Vescovo David A. Zubik, finora Vescovo di Green Bay (Stati Uniti d'America), Vescovo di Pittsburgh (superficie: 9.722: popolazione: 1.956.597; cattolici: 781.811; sacerdoti: 531; religiosi: 1.455; diaconi permanenti: 37), Stati Uniti d'America.

...That's how I first saw the news that Bishop Zubick, head of the Diocese of Green Bay, was headed back to his native Pittsburgh as their new shepherd. I hope I'm allowed to be a little sad, even as the people of Steel City are rejoicing. Bishop Zubick did a lot of good in a few short years here in Wisconsin. I've listened to a number of his homilies and his programs on Relevant Radio, and I've heard good things from friends of mine who are young priests of that diocese about his ability to listen. Green Bay has had some tough years as of late, in terms of vocations, orthodoxy, etc. It seems that he had been able to pull people together -- and all that from an Easterner transplanted to our beloved middle of nowhere. God bless you, Bishop Zubick -- God has certainly blessed Pittsburgh.

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

Zubik named bishop of Diocese of Pittsburgh
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
By Ann Rodgers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
(Published at 6:08 a.m.; updated at 8:38 a.m.)

Bishop David Zubik of Green Bay, Wis., a popular former auxiliary bishop of Pittsburgh, has been named bishop of his hometown Diocese of Pittsburgh.
His Mass of installation will be held Sept. 28 in St. Paul Cathedral, Oakland. Today's announcement was made at 6 a.m. in Washington, D.C., by Msgr. Martin Krebs of the Vatican nunciature. A press conference to introduce the new bishop will be held at 10 a.m. in the chancery office, Downtown.
The new bishop is being hailed as a holy man who knows the diocese inside and out. The Ambridge native spent most of his ministry here and held top posts under former Bishop Donald Wuerl, who became archbishop of Washington, D.C., in May 2006. His selection is considered a vote for administrative continuity in a diocese that is viewed as one of the best run in the nation.
"I was truly honored to serve the wonderful people of Green Bay. Green Bay became my new home. Now, Pittsburgh is my home again," Bishop Zubik said. "I love the church of Pittsburgh. I love being part of the [priesthood] of Pittsburgh once again, I love the people of Pittsburgh, it is a wonderful church -- very much alive in Christ."
Archbishop Wuerl, who is belived to have been instrumental in the appointment, said, "Personally, I rejoice with the news of this appointment. I am very pleased for what it will mean to the Diocese of Pittsburgh. Bishop Zubik knows, loves and has served the church of Pittsburgh, and has walked with it through all of its many moments of challenge and development for the past 20 years. My prayer is that God will bless him and his ministry and, of course, the church of Pittsburgh."
"I think this appointment will be greeted with the most amount of happiness in the widest circles in Pittsburgh," said the Rev. Louis Vallone, pastor of St. John of God parish, McKees Rocks.
In Green Bay, Sister Mary Jo Kirt, a "parish director" who runs a church without a resident pastor, said he would be missed.
"He is a very prayerful, spiritual leader. He is strong in working for social justice, and for the spiritual renewal of the people," she said.
Bishop Zubik fits a pattern of Pope Benedict choosing intellectually savvy men with diplomatic personalities, said the Rev. Thomas Reese, a senior fellow at Georgetown University's Woodstock Theological Center, who studies the Catholic hierarchy.
Pope Benedict is "not looking for people who are aggressive or confrontational," he said.
The grandson of Polish and Slovak immigrants, he is the only child of retired grocer Stanley Zubik and the late Susan Zubik.
He entered seminary after graduation from St. Veronica High School, Ambridge, finishing his studies at St. Mary Seminary, Baltimore.
Ordained in May, 1975, he spent five years as parochial vicar at Sacred Heart parish, Shadyside. He then became vice-principal of Quigley High School, Baden. Bishop Anthony Bevilacqua chose him as his secretary in 1987.
Under Bishop Wuerl, he rose to become general secretary and vicar general of the diocese, overseeing day-to-day operations. Pope John Paul II made him an auxiliary bishop in 1997, and bishop of Green Bay in Oct. 2003.
There he is in the midst of a reorganization intended to reduce the number of parishes from 182 to 161 by 2010. He had a major role in a similar reorganization here in the 1990s.
Although the mergers and closures of schools and parishes have sparked protests, Bishop Zubik's people skills have taken the edge off parishioners' anger, said Paul Wadell, professor of religious studies at St. Norbert College, DePere, Wis.
"He sees himself foremost as pastor of the diocese and has reached out to people to try to be a supportive presence. I think he's been a very good listener," he said.
Green Bay has 346,000 Catholics in 16 counties with 111 active diocesan priests for 168 parishes. Pittsburgh has 764,000 Catholics in six counties, with 282 active diocesan priests for 214 parishes, according to the 2007 Official Catholic Directory.
Bishop Zubik also had to respond to a malaise that had settled over his diocese because his predecessor was a former auxiliary bishop of Boston who a grand jury report had castigated for impeding criminal investigations of suspected child molesters.
He met early on with representatives of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. But that group has criticized him -- and most U.S. bishops -- for not naming priests who were accused of sexual abuse but never sued or charged with a crime.
He has apologized publicly to abuse victims. Last fall he held a "prayer service of apology" to anyone ever hurt by the church.
"I think of people who have been offended by sharp remarks, perhaps in the sacrament of Confession or during a church meeting. I think of anyone who feels they were treated unjustly in the church's employment," he said in issuing the invitation.
Dr. Wadell believes "he did a good job of turning things around in terms of creating a better atmosphere in the church."
He has gained experience with laity running parishes without resident priests, a measure Pittsburgh has just begun to try.
On the political front, Bishop Zubik was featured in the Washington Post just before the 2004 presidential election, when he urged Catholics to consider church teaching on abortion and same-sex marriage when they went to the polls.
However, he has said that while Catholic politicians who support legal abortion should refrain from going to communion, he would not order his priests to refuse them if they came forward.
He has been vocal against the death penalty and in favor of immigration reform. In May he opposed a proposed Green Bay ordinance to deny professional licenses to businesses that hired illegal immigrants.
Nationally, he is chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on the Laity, and their liaison to the National Advisory Council of lay Catholics and rank-and-file priests who review and critique projects that the bishops are working on.
"The fact that he has that assignment shows that he's someone who is good at working with lay people," Father Reese said.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

It's official!

From the Vatican Information Service newswire:

"In the year 2008, said Fr. Lombardi, apart from visiting Sydney, Australia, in July for World Youth Day, it is highly probable that Benedict XVI will make a trip to the United Nations headquarters in New York, and a pilgrimage to Lourdes for the 150th anniversary of the apparition of the Virgin there. In this context, the Holy See Press Office Director recalled that John Paul II went to Lourdes in August 2004 on his last international trip."

Monday, July 16, 2007

La Crosse Tribune covers the Catholic Church

The La Crosse Tribune went into hyperdrive this past weekend in covering the Catholic Church. A Q&A with Bishop Listecki appeared on Saturday, and a few articles on pastoral planning, vocations, and the "We Belong to Christ" campaign appeared on Sunday.

My feelings regarding the coverage are, to say the least, mixed. It's good that the secular press is paying attention to the Church, but I think Joe Orso ran into trouble. For one thing, he was trying to cover too much with too little space. Vocations, money, the shrine, demographics, parish closings... The bishop was running all over the place trying to answer these questions. More disturbing to me, however, was the placement of the Sunday articles. Sharing the front page was an article on requesting the "right to die." And prominent in the paper was the Los Angeles Archdiocese's record-breaking $600 million sex abuse settlement. Then, within the coverage, there was a juxtapositioning of asking for money and vocations. Of course, much of this is unfortunate coincidence. And I don't think this was Bishop Listecki's best interview, by a long shot. In any case, I wasn't left proud of my Church upon reading these articles.

Here's the Q&A with Bishop Listecki:

Q&A: Listecki looks at diocese future, past after two years as bishop
By JOE ORSO / La Crosse Tribune

Bishop Jerome Listecki was installed as head of the Diocese of La Crosse on March 1, 2005.
Since arriving, he’s initiated “We Belong to Christ,” a campaign to raise $50 million in five years that is the largest diocesan-wide fundraising effort in its history.
He also formed the Pastoral Planning Committee in the summer of 2005, which was charged with developing a comprehensive plan that addresses both the expected decline in the number of priests over roughly the next two decades and ways to increase ministry in the diocese.
The committee came up with a plan that gives the diocese the ability - if needed - to shrink from 165 parishes to 75 parishes without closing a single church building.
The plan awaits Listecki’s possible revisions and approval. For more details, see Sunday's Tribune.
The bishop Monday talked about that plan and other diocese issues since his arrival more than two years ago in an interview with the Tribune.
Below are excerpts from that conversation.

Q: One of the other numbers that the Rev. (David) Kunz talked about that was important to this pastoral planning committee was the 210,000 Catholics in the diocese and the 70,000 in the pews on Sundays, attending Sunday Masses.
A: One-third, that's usually a national statistic.

Q: As bishop of this diocese how do you respond to that? One thing the Rev. Kunz said was we need to ask ourselves if we can be creative again in ministering. And he talked about not just taking care of ? He said maybe we, as pastors, have gotten into a rut because we have so much going on in taking care of this institution and we've put less effort into evangelizing and bringing Christ out to people. And I just am curious to hear, when you look at that number, the 1/3rd, across the country but also in this diocese, how do you respond to that? Where do you see that coming from and what do you say to Catholics? How do Catholics respond?
A: First of all, that number disturbs me and it has from the outset. In fact I raised that question at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops four years ago when I was named chairman of the Pastoral Practices Committee. And the question of Sunday Mass attendance is symptomatic, I think, of the larger loss of appreciation of the prioritization of church and organized religion in the lives of not only Catholics but people throughout our country.
So it disturbs me, because I see it as a loss, as a loss in helping to form individuals in terms of the importance of worship in their lives, but looking at that worship as primary and connected to who they are as responsible citizens within the society.
So again, it’s the faith that informs and then individuals who help form the society. And worship does that. If worship is a priority, you’re making a statement by saying, “God’s first,” and you’re doing it objectively. You’re not doing it in the privatization of your own home. You’re doing it as a public statement. This is important.I see my faith as important. I would see it as important if I were not a bishop. I see it as important.I want everybody to be Catholic. That does not mean I don't respect those who are not Catholic. It does not mean I do not honor their faith traditions. I want everybody to be Catholic because I know how vital and how important and what a great sense this faith is for me and how it has fashioned myself. I want that same type of sense to be with others. So, yeah, it disturbs me when we're talking about only a third of our own Catholics, who are professing to be Catholic, are not in church.But there are various reasons why people are not in church. Lack of formation in their own lives, that's one; they haven't been brought up to understand the importance of the faith. No. 2, kind of a rejection of some of the church's teaching, maybe that's a part of it. No. 3, the whole sense of not feeling that they belong. There's a sense of belonging that is present. Those are various factors that could be there.But in every statistical analysis that is done, the No. 1 reason why people don't go to church is they don't have time. That's the most disturbing one. The other three I understand, we can deal with. We can dialogue.The “I don't have time” already says there's something at the very basis and at the very root of people's understanding of the priority of God in their life, the understanding of mystery in their life. That suddenly compartmentalizes it in such a way as to eliminate it from a priority status.

Q: So what's the response?
A: So basically the response is we can do many things. You can enhance the choir and singing. Two things that people say immediately that most draw them into church are the homily and the choir. Being a person who understands the Eucharist and the Mass, I would say those two are important and certainly kind of pull people in naturally, but the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist would seem to be the primary sense.
But understanding both of those, you can enhance the choir. You can give sermons with more pizzazz, if you want to talk about it, but that doesn't seem to be the answer. The answer seems to lie in awakening the mysterious in people and that takes time. That doesn't happen overnight.
There is no silver bullet that suddenly creates and solves the problem. There is a sense of awakening the mysterious in people and when that mysterious is awakened, then all of a sudden people do respond. Sometimes it happens with tragedy. I don't like that avenue at all, myself. But when you see a national tragedy, where's the first thing that people run to? They run back to their churches. You have bells ringing and you have people flocking to the churches to pray, or they discover God again, the need for God.God's easily disposed of and pushed off to the side when there isn't this perceived sense of crisis. It would be good if individuals would come to the understanding of the depth of that mystery within their own lives, so that it's reflected by the way they live, but that takes time. It takes time to point out the various aspects of mystery in people's lives. It takes formation. It takes, as Father Kunz said, evangelization.When you evangelize, you're evangelizing not so people get excited and so they embrace something and leave it go in three or four months, but they're embracing something that they're intimately connected to. It's like a marriage. You don't expect the wedding to be the high point and people to leave after the wedding. You expect that wedding to be the beginning of the deepening of a relationship. So an understanding that you're wedded to your faith is an important aspect, and that takes time. You've got to live it out.

Q: What has your relationship been with people and leaders from other denominations, other religions, in La Crosse since you’ve been here?
A: The primary relationship with those outside has been probably with April Larson, Bishop April Larson (bishop of the La Crosse Area of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America). I’ve had a wonderful meeting with her and also with a shared, joint project with the Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts and awards with Bishop Larson. She’s been probably the primary person outside of the Catholic faith.I’ve met other members of the faith outside of the Catholic community at various functions, but any one particular event, there hasn’t been that. There hasn’t been that opportunity.

Q: Looking at the church in 2025 - I'm just thinking that's the end of that CARA report - the people who are going to be the leaders in the church are young people right now. So you, as bishop, if you had all those people gathered here, what would you want to say to them? Also, what are they facing that's new? What are they facing that you didn't face when you were their age?
A: I didn’t have to face the rampant secularization of a culture. By secularization, I mean where God is pushed off to the side.
The culture in the ’60s, when I would have been a teenager growing up, and then when I was ordained in ’75, the culture was still pretty much permeated by a sense of appreciation for religion and appreciation for faith. The whole period of time in the ’70s went through, if you want, a distrust of authority, and the church was placed in that distrust, distrust of the government, distrust of parental authority by children, distrust of the church, which many see as an authority or authority figure.So there was that kind of distrust that was present. That kind of still lingers on today, but today it’s not so much an aspect of distrust as disinterest. When you’re distrusting somebody, you have a distrust for them because you have placed some type of trust in them, then all of a sudden you felt that this might be violated in some way. You talk about disinterest, it’s basically, “I don’t care.”
And I would say our younger priests have to confront a secular society that basically says to religion and to faith, “I don't care.” And I honestly kind of believe that that aspect of “I don't care” is detrimental to a society. If society doesn't appreciate the impact of religion on the lives of people, it will sorely underestimate both what the society can do and sorely underestimate the ability of the society to achieve.
Let me give you an example. I think our government underestimated the impact of Islam within the culture of Iraq and Afghanistan. By not understanding the influence and the impact of faith, and of that particular faith, I think we're sorely paying a consequence for it. The idea of democratization might have been a wonderful idea, but it has to be seen within the context of the dedication of the people and what really influences and supports those people.So I go back and I kind of say, the same thing could be here in the United States. If we more and more divorce ourselves from an adherence or appreciation of the impact of religion, we more and more become disinterested in terms of the impact of religion on lives, we'll quickly see ourselves in a rootlessness, if you want. Nothing pinning us down or holding us down.
(Pause) Sorry to go a little apocalyptic on you.

Q: No, no, get apocalyptic, that's just fine. So what do you say to them, the young people?
A: So I say to young people what Mother Teresa of Calcutta said. That success is not measured in the achievements or the failures that the society views, but success is measured in faithfulness to the Gospel.
So what priests have to be today is they have to be faithful. They have to be faithful to the teaching of the church and to the Gospel, to the devotional life. And place that trust in God and don't worry. God will use you as an instrument and God will use you in a manner that God deems best, and with that, you have this, literally, confidence that people of faith should have.
And that will be true for them as it was true in the year 100, when the apostles, disciples were evangelizing. It's going to be true to this day 2,000 years later, to this day today. Faithfulness to the Gospel.

Q: Have you been to the shrine recently?
A: Yeah, I visit the shrine periodically.

Q: I know it's not a diocesan project ? but it's nonetheless a significant project taking place in the diocese. How do you see that affecting the landscape here?
A: There are always people who are going to question ... a project, to the extent of time, effort, resources invested into that project.
But I think you have to take a look at it as a manifestation of, again, of faith. That shrine is going to be in the face of many people, calling their attention to something which is sacred, beautiful and to what really we're called to. We're called to something which is really outside of this world, and shrines do that. Shrines are places of holiness that suddenly call upon the sense of the presence of God and then reflect it back up to our responsibility of God.
The measurement of a shrine is not seen in its immediacy, but it's seen in its history as it develops. If a shrine produces a saint or great, dedicated social leaders in the church, then it's going to be known by its fruits, and certainly (at) the shrine there have been very many dedicated people who have offered their time, their talents, their resources in order to say something about the presence of God in the life of this Catholic church. So that can only be applauded, I think. You're going to do something beautiful for God. I applaud you for doing that.

Q: Can you talk about how you see the Holy Spirit moving in this diocese, in this pastoral plan and elsewhere in the diocese? I don't know if you can speak to that?
A: That's your best question. The rest of the questions can be filled with basically statistics and demographics, but the question of the Spirit is the ultimate question, and what I see immediately is, I see people who are dedicated and committed to serve the viability of the sacredness of the church and to present, if you want, a plan which will somehow envision doing that.
And talking in terms of the movement of the Spirit, it's already people who understand how vitally important the sacraments are and how that presentation of Christ in the community is. How important worship is every Sunday, and taking a look and trying to be inspired as ways of calling people together to be able to do that. And that's the movement of the spirit.One of the things I was told immediately by a lot of the committee members was when the plan was presented, usually you expect the plan to meet tremendous resistance. ? Instead, it was met with, “Is this for the betterment of our whole Catholic community?” And that's the movement of the Spirit.
The Spirit looks beyond my own particular needs and looks to the aspect of the fact that we're being drawn together and being pulled together to formulate the body of Christ for the world. That sense, I think, although maybe not articulated, was the sense that a lot of our committee members had in relationship to the Catholics who attended a lot of these meetings. That they were looking at how can we embrace a plan that will help us to do the things necessary to continue to provide both the sacraments, church and church community, and worship for our larger Catholic community.That's movement of the Spirit. That's movement of the Spirit.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Bishops launch marriage website

The USCCB has launched a new website in support of marriage:

Check it out here: http://www.foryourmarriage.org/

Father Joel Sember on being a priest

Remember the ordinations I attended a few weeks ago in Green Bay? Well, here's newly ordained Father Joel Sember's mass emailing from a few days ago. It's inspiring to read what he has to say about being a priest:

Dear Friends,

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of activity. After finishing my studies, I packed and said goodbye to practically everyone I know in Rome. I flew back on June 24. That week I prepared for ordination. Saturday at 10am, I found myself again face-down on the marble floor of the cathedral while the entire church prayed that I and my companions be holy priests.

The whole scene was familiar from deaconate - the three of us seated in chairs in the sanctuary, the litany of saints and the prayer of ordination. This time, I was anointed with oil and given the chalice and paten. The most powerful part of the ordination ceremony was when each priest came through in procession and laid his hands on my head. Some had been fellow seminarians with me, others long-time mentors, some had taught me. They were welcoming me to the priesthood; I am now a fellow priest with all of them.

A priest. Should I suddenly feel somehow different? I have a deep sense of peace and contentment; I have finally become who I was meant to be. At the same time, I know that I am still me. How I can be both me and a priest is a mystery that my head has not yet understood. I said my Mass of Thanksgiving the next day at Most Precious Blood. Though I had hours to get ready that morning, I found myself at the last minute throwing on a chasuble and following the many priest-concelebrants and servers down the aisle. Suddenly I was at the chair. What comes first?, I thought. Oh, the Sign of the Cross. And with that the whole Mass just flowed out of my like I had been saying it for years.

I love the looks I get from people in shopping malls. Some people go out of their way to be extra nice to me. Other people shy away, surprised to turn a corner and see a young priest. I should feel odd, but instead I feel strangely comfortable as a priest. It is like when you find a pair of new shoes that oddly fits as though you had always worn them. The strangest part is offering Mass. As I hold up the host and say the words, nothing seems to happen -- no sparks fly from my fingers, the host does not sparkle or bleed. And in an instant I am holding Jesus in my hands. There is no combination of magic words or secret incantations that makes it happen. It just happens, like falling in love. To believe in God's ability to work through us as instruments, this takes an act of faith. The host may not sparkle, but sometimes I think it winks.

On the day of my ordination I received my assignment. I will be a shared Associate Pastor between two parishes, Most Blessed Sacrament and St. Jude, both in Oshkosh on the western rim of Lake Winnebago. I will also be the campus ministry chaplain at the Newman Center at UW-Oshkosh. My address can be found at the end of this e-mail.

I want to thank all of you for reading my updates. I at least enjoyed writing them. I have to say that so far, being a priest is something I absolutely love. I have a hard time communicating how it is for me something both new and old, simple and beautiful and right. I am home.

The Grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Love of God,and the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you always.

-- Fr. Joel Sember

And here's the little piece I wrote about Father Joel and his twin brother, Father Ben, for the July 12 Catholic Times:

Identical twins ordained for Green Bay
GREEN BAY (The Catholic Times) – Although all three young men ordained priests June 30 for the Diocese of Green Bay now share a bond of priestly brotherhood, two of the three already shared a fraternal bond. And not only are Father Ben Sember and Father Joel Sember blood brothers – they’re identical twins as well.
“We have the same background, we have the same genes; but we just have a different approach to things in general,” Father Joel Sember told WBAY-TV.
At one point during the ordination Mass in Green Bay’s St. Francis Xavier Cathedral, Bishop David A. Zubik addressed Father Ben Sember as “Joel,” and chuckles rippled through the congregation.
Together with the rest of their family, the Sember twins converted to the Catholic faith when they were 12 years old. The twins completed their undergraduate education at St. John Vianney Seminary in St. Paul, Minn., and insist they made separate decisions to pursue the priesthood. Both completed their seminary studies at the Pontifical North American College in Rome.
Father Joel Sember earned an advanced degree in moral theology this spring, and has been assigned, among other duties, to chaplaincy at UW-Oshkosh. This fall, Father Ben Sember will return to Rome to finish his degree in Canon Law.
“I hope we don’t ever get assigned to the same parish, not for our sake but for the people; it would be very confusing,” commented Father Ben Sember.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Today's front page

Click on the image below to enlarge the front page of the today's Catholic Times. Since I write a good deal of this paper, it's quite dear to my heart -- and I honestly think it's one of the best diocesan newspapers out there. But then again I may be a little biased! No, we don't exist online. But anyone can subscribe, no matter where you are. If you live in the Diocese of La Crosse, contact your parish. If you live outside the diocese, call (608) 788-1524 or email catholictimes@dioceseoflacrosse.com.

New bishop for our mother diocese

VATICAN CITY, JUL 12, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Archbishop Edwin Frederick O'Brien, military ordinary for the U.S.A., as metropolitan archbishop of Baltimore (area 12,430, population 3,055,477, Catholics 517,679, priests 545, permanent deacons 178, religious 1,380), U.S.A. He succeeds Cardinal William Henry Keeler, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


As I prepare to write an op-ed commentary on the CDF's recent document, I was reading through my analysis of the "subsistit" problem, which I wrote a few years ago for an ecclesiology class:

Pope Pius XII, in his encyclical Mystici corporis, did more than equate the mystical Body of Christ with the Catholic Church; even more, he wrote, “in Ecclesiam autem membris reapse ii soli annumerandi sunt, qui regenerationis lavacrum receperunt veramque fidem profitentur…” (22), and also “funestum etiam errorem dolemus… qui commenticiam Ecclesiam sibi somniant, utpote societatem quandam caritate alitam ac formatam…” (65).

It is most difficult to see how this second sentence fits together with these words of the Dogmatic Consitution Lumen gentium: “Haec Ecclesia…subsistit in Ecclesia catholica” (8).

To escape the conundrum, it could be valuable to examine the verb subsistere here. Sistere on its own means “to stand”, and with the prefix sub we arrive at “to stand under”. If this unica Christi ecclesia, that is, the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church, pastured by Peter and his successers and constituted and organized as a society (cf LG 8) “stands under” the Catholic Church, then the object of subsistere (the Catholic Church) would collapse (for lack of a better word) if it were to lack any of the adjectives pertaining to her foundational subject (Christi Ecclesia).

So we must begin by noting that everying contained in the subject is contained in the object (they aren’t even to be considered apart according to LG 8). But we must note also that while this is true for either verb, the use of subsistere instead of esse allows in addition for the subject and object to remain grammatically distinct. This grammatical distinction becomes incarnate in the coetus adspectabilis and the communitas spiritualis (cf LG 8). Since - as I have already noted - the coetus contains the fulness of Christi Ecclesia and the coetus and communitas spiritualis are not to be considered apart from each other, it follows that, though the effects of the communitas spiritualis might extend beyond the bounds of the coetus adspectabilis, they cannot exist apart from – in fact, must derive their very efficacy from – that same coetus adspectabilis. The members of the communitas spiritualis who are not in the coetus escape the dilema of Mystici corporis’ requirements for being members of the Church by being described in Lumen gentium as “ordered towards” (cf 16) the coetus by the different ways in which they utilize greater or lesser spiritual goods, which derive from and are themselves ordered towards the building up of the coetus.

The communitas spiritualis of Lumen gentium, therefore, in no way ought to
resemble the condemned societas caritate alita ac formata of Mystici corporis (65), since this accusation would assume an inversion of the spiritual efficacy of the coetus, according to which the spiritual goods would support the coetus instead of the coetus supporting the communitas spiritualis. This inversion would be a grammatical confusion of the subject and object of subsistere, and it certainly would be ecclesiologically confusing as well.

Entertaining Father Z commentary

Sometimes Father Z's inter-textual commentary is too entertaining not to pass on...

Check this out:
Sr. Chittister on Summorum Pontificum

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Theodicy discussion

In a conversation with a friend, I will begin to research various theodicies (which seek to explain the paradox of the existence of both God and suffering). Feel free to join the discussion, which will hopefully generate several posts on this blog. For now, what more appropriate place to start than with the greatest theologian the Church has ever produced? And what better format than my favourite (the novel)?

The following quote comes from the book The Quiet Light (Image Books, 1958), a historical novel dealing with the life of St. Thomas Aquinas:

Piers hung his head. “You haven’t seen what I have seen, Father Thomas. Madness is ruling in Italy. The big eagle has gone, but the little eagles are almost worse. Wherever you look, you see tears and despair and bloodshed. I felt that my own life was senseless. And I may as well admit it: I am no longer certain that God exists.”
“I needn’t exist,” said Thomas calmly. “You needn’t exist. But God must exist or else nothing else could. You can scarcely doubt your own existence … it’s a violation of the law of contradiction: for if you do not exist, who is it that holds the doubt? So you exist, but not in your own right. You have received existence: from your parents and ancestors, from the air you breathe, the food you take in. A river has received its existence and so have mountains and everything, not only on earth but everywhere in the universe. But if the universe is a system of receivers, there must be a giver. And if the giver has received existence, he is not the giver at all. Therefore the ultimate giver must have existence in His own right, He must be existence and this Giver we call God. Can you contradict that?”
“I cannot contradict it,” said Piers. “But it does not satisfy me. Nor will it satisfy anyone who suffers.”
“Your question, then, is not whether God exists, but why there is suffering. But what is suffering? What is its cause and consequences? It is caused when parts that belong together are separated and prevented from joining each other. And its consequence is pain. A sword cut severs tissues that belong together and thus suffering is caused and leads to pain. Or two people who love each other are separated and prevented from joining each other: suffering is caused and thereby pain.”

And he said: “But why must it happen? Why must that which belongs together be separated in life? You explained to me what causes suffering and that pain is its consequence. You did not explain why God permitted the cause.”
“All human suffering,” said Thomas, “goes back to the archetypal suffering … the separation of man from God.”
Piers stopped in his tracks—and only then realized that they had been wandering up and down the garden.

Piers began to walk again. After a while he said: “The separation of man from God. That means the story of the Fall in paradise, does it?”
“It’s so long ago, Father Thomas. What has it to do with you and me.”
“God is beyond time. It was yesterday. It will be tomorrow.”
“I don’t understand that.”
“You will very soon. We are told about the Fall of man in Genesis. The Greeks and other peoples remembered it: they called the time in paradise the ‘golden gage.’ Do you remember the words of the serpent, ‘Eat … and you shall be as God—‘? We ate … and by that act of rebellion cut ourselves off from God. We broke the link between the natural and the supernatural. That was the separation.”
“And were driven out of paradise. And had to die and to suffer. That was God’s answer.”
“No, friend. That was the inevitable consequence of our own act. But God did give an answer and his answer was Christ.”
There was a pause. Piers sihged and in his sigh was England and Foregay and old Father Thorney’s impatient voice,

But Thomas said: “Our Lord took upon Himself the total pain of that separation. The union between God and man is the Cross.”

“Supernatural life was restored to man,” said Thomas. “And thus God is like the precious soil into which the seed, man, is sown. And the seed branches out into three roots by which it clings to the soil: the roots of faith and hope and charity. And all three are acts of our will—the will to accept the truth as revealed by God—the will to trust the promises of Christ—and the will to see God, the supreme Good. …”
“I think I understand that,” said Piers, “it’s like … like an oath of allegiance to the love of God.”
Once more he saw that irresistible smile that seemed to confer an honourable accompliceship.
“You see now,” said Thomas, “suffering means sharing with Christ. If you love Him … how can you renounce suffering? No lover will renounce the pain of his love.”
“True,” said Piers hoarsely. “True.”
“Man loves so many things,” said Thomas. “Wealth … or power … or a woman. But if you had to name what all men desire, whatever forms their desire may take … what would you say?”
“Happiness,” declared Piers after a short hesitation.
“Yes. Happiness. But what is happiness?”
“I … I don’t know. I know what it is for me. …”
“There is then something you desire more than anything else.”
“Yes. But I shall never have it.”
“And if you had it, you would be happy?”
“Yes, of course. But …”
“But if you had it and so had to fear that it might be taken away from you again—would you still be happy?”
“N-no, I suppose not. Not entirely.”
“Therefore … shall we agree that happinesss is the possession of the desired good … whatever it is … without any fear of losing it?”
“Yes … I think so.”
“But in this life on earth we have not only the fear but the certainty that we shall lose it. For one day we must die. Therefore true happiness … lasting, everlasting happiness cannot be our lot on earth. Nor could it be otherwise. For everlasting happiness is only another name for God.”
Thomas’ eyes shone. “Do you see it now? The urge for everlasting happiness is still in man, in all men. But since the Fall it has been misdirected and like fools we see our happiness in this or that—in the accumulation of gold or of power or in the union with another creature, when in reality it is in God alone. The love of God is the true quest of man. ‘Love and do what thou wilt,’ said St. Augustine. And our Lord said: ‘Seek ye therefore first the kingdom of God and His justice, and all these things shall be added unto you.’”


Published this morning by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith under the name of American Cardinal William Levada are several "responsa ad dubia".

The ecclesiological questions addressed in these responsa, which are the result of confusion caused by Vatican II's Constitution on the Church "Lumen Gentium", are of inestimable importance. Finally the Church is interpreting Vatican II! I believe the doctrinal interpretation of the Council is the only way to end the era of confusion that generally follows a council. If you look at history, such was the case after Trent.

Just so with these responsa (my emphases, red comments):

"First Question: Did the Second Vatican Council change the Catholic doctrine on the Church?
"Response: The Second Vatican Council neither changed nor intended to change this doctrine, rather it developed, deepened and more fully explained it. Compare this to many diocesan newspaper commentaries which, in an attempt to simplify, talk about doctrinal "changes." Read here the doctrinal exorcism of what Pope Benedict called the "hermanuetic of discontinuity".
"This was exactly what John XXIII said at the beginning of the Council. Paul VI affirmed it and commented in the act of promulgating the Constitution Lumen gentium: 'There is no better comment to make than to say that this promulgation really changes nothing of the traditional doctrine. What Christ willed, we also will. What was, still is. What the Church has taught down through the centuries, we also teach. In simple terms that which was assumed, is now explicit; that which was uncertain, is now clarified; that which was meditated upon, discussed and sometimes argued over, is now put together in one clear formulation.' The Bishops repeatedly expressed and fulfilled this intention.

"Second Question: What is the meaning of the affirmation that the Church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church?
"Response: Christ 'established here on earth' only one Church and instituted it as a 'visible and spiritual community', that from its beginning and throughout the centuries has always existed and will always exist, and in which alone are found all the elements that Christ himself instituted. 'This one Church of Christ, which we confess in the Creed as one, holy, catholic and apostolic. ... This Church, constituted and organized in this world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church, governed by the successor of Peter and the Bishops in communion with him'.
"In number 8 of the Dogmatic Constitution 'Lumen Gentium' 'subsistence' means this perduring, historical continuity and the permanence of all the elements instituted by Christ in the Catholic Church ea sunt "one, holy, catholic, apostolic , in which the Church of Christ is concretely found on this earth.
"It is possible, according to Catholic doctrine, to affirm correctly that the Church of Christ is present and operative in the churches and ecclesial Communities not yet fully in communion with the Catholic Church, on account of the elements of sanctification and truth that are present in them. Nevertheless, the word 'subsists' can only be attributed to the Catholic Church alone precisely because it refers to the mark of unity that we profess in the symbols of the faith (I believe... in the 'one' Church); and this 'one' Church subsists in the Catholic Church.
"Third Question: Why was the expression 'subsists in' adopted instead of the simple word 'is'?
"Response: The use of this expression, which indicates the full identity of the Church of Christ with the Catholic Church, does not change the doctrine on the Church. Rather, it comes from and brings out more clearly the fact that there are 'numerous elements of sanctification and of truth' which are found outside her structure, but which 'as gifts properly belonging to the Church of Christ, impel towards Catholic Unity.'
"'It follows that these separated churches and Communities, though we believe they suffer from defects, are deprived neither of significance nor importance in the mystery of salvation. In fact the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as instruments of salvation, whose value derives from that fullness of grace and of truth which has been entrusted to the Catholic Church.'

"Fourth Question: Why does the Second Vatican Council use the term 'Church' in reference to the oriental Churches separated from full communion with the Catholic Church?
"Response: The Council wanted to adopt the traditional use of the term. 'Because these Churches, although separated, have true sacraments and above all - because of the apostolic succession - the priesthood and the Eucharist, by means of which they remain linked to us by very close bonds,' they merit the title of 'particular or local Churches,' and are called sister Churches of the particular Catholic Churches.
'It is through the celebration of the Eucharist of the Lord in each of these Churches that the Church of God is built up and grows in stature.' However, since communion with the Catholic Church, the visible head of which is the Bishop of Rome and the Successor of Peter, is not some external complement to a particular Church but rather one of its internal constitutive principles, these venerable Christian communities lack something in their condition as particular churches.
"On the other hand, because of the division between Christians, the fullness of universality, which is proper to the Church governed by the Successor of Peter and the Bishops in communion with him, is not fully realized in history.

"Fifth Question: Why do the texts of the Council and those of the Magisterium since the Council not use the title of 'Church' with regard to those Christian Communities born out of the Reformation of the sixteenth century?
"Response: According to Catholic doctrine, these Communities do not enjoy apostolic succession in the sacrament of Orders, and are, therefore, deprived of a the?????? constitutive element of the Church. These ecclesial Communities which, specifically because of the absence of the sacramental priesthood, have not preserved the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic Mystery cannot, according to Catholic doctrine, be called 'Churches' in the proper sense.

"The Supreme Pontiff Benedict XVI, at the Audience granted to the undersigned Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, ratified and confirmed these Responses, adopted in the Plenary Session of the Congregation, and ordered their publication."

More reader comments on the motu proprio

Here's a post from another reader interested in contributing to the "Is the motu proprio important?" conversation. In the future, let's have conversations like this taking place in the comments box. As of yet, I haven't put any restrictions on comments. And, until I learn the hard way, that's the way it will be. By the way, my inclusion of comments/posts from readers does not in any way indicate that I agree with them in their entirety.

Here are the reader's comments:

Strictly speaking, it is true that you "get out of it what you put into it" when it comes to either Mass. However, the crucial point is that the Tridentine explicitly makes it easier to get Catholicism out of it. Bold words indeed. Let me explain.

It isn't just the sacred atmosphere that is important at a Mass, but what you are actually praying. The very prayers of the Tridentine Mass explicitly reinforce over and over that the Mass is a sacrifice offered for our redemption. The priest in persona Christi is re-presenting the offering of the spotless Victim to the Father. Sure, Eucharistic Prayer I of the Novus Ordo Mass uses sacrificial language, but it is only one of the options and I can't remember the last time I actually heard it at a Novus Ordo Mass. The other options have a diminished use of sacrificial language that is more ambiguous This is not accidental. The Novus Ordo was specifically created to reduce obstacles to Ecumenism. Protestant theologians were brought in to consult on it. (you can read that in a positive light or a negative light depending on your point of view). The end result is that if you bring your Catholicism with you (assuming you are properly catechised to begin with), you can interpret it in a Catholic way. If you are a protestant, you can interpret it in a protestant manner. However, the Mass itself no longer offers the same explicit catechism.

An excellent illustration is provided by the complaint of the Simon Wiesenthal Center about the Motu Proprio.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center laid out the 1962 Good Friday prayers along side the Novus Ordo prayers and urged Benedict to publicly point out that such 1962 phrases "are now entirely contrary to the teaching of the church." (Interestingly, the Center has changed its original announcement to a condemnation of the SSPX and is no longer making this statement. Unfortunately, I did not save a copy of the original and Google doesn't have a cache).

Here are the prayers laid out by them which appear to be accurate:
***From the 1962 Good Friday Mass Liturgy:For the conversion of the Jews. Let us pray also for the Jews that the Lord our God may take the veil from their hearts and that they also may acknowledge our Lord Jesus Christ.Let us pray: Almighty and everlasting God, You do not refuse Your mercy even to the Jews; hear the prayers which we offer for the blindness of that people so that they may acknowledge the light of Your truth, which is Christ, and be delivered from their darkness…
From the Post-Vatican II Good Friday Mass currently in use:Let us pray for the Jewish people, the first to hear the word of God, that they may continue to grow in the love of his Name and in faithfulness to His covenant.Almighty and eternal God, long ago you gave your promise to Abraham and his posterity. Listen to your Church as we pray that the people you first made your own may arrive at the fullness of redemption. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
In the 1962 version the Church clearly teaches the need for Christ. In the Novus Ordo, no such need is present. If you bring Catholicism to the new prayer (eisegisis), you can interpret it as praying for conversion, though the phrase "fullness of redemption" implies an existing adequate redemption. If you are a Jew, you can interpret this prayer as a call to be a better Jew and to be faithful to the old covenant. No need to convert. No need to acknowledge Jesus as God. The Novus Ordo Mass has this type of weakness throughout. You need to bring the Catholic intepretation to the Mass.

As an aside, however outrageous the original demand of the Center is, quite frankly the Center has real cause to ask this. Cardinal Kasper, President of the Commission for Relations with the Jews, has written that the Old Covenant is salvific for Jews and that the dialogue with the Jews is not intended to convert them.


"Therefore, the Church believes that Judaism, that is, the faithful response of the Jewish people to God’s irrevocable covenant, is salvific for them, because God is faithful to his promises."

"In a similar way, the term mission, in its proper sense, refers to conversion from false gods and idols to the true and one God, who revealed himself in salvation history with His elected people. Thus mission, in this strict sense, cannot be used with regard to Jews, who believe in the true and one God. Therefore – and this is characteristic – there exists dialogue but there does not exist any Catholic missionary organisation for Jews."
Hopefully, the Gentle Catholic Reader will recognize for themselves the problematic aspects of these statements. McBrien's article on converts from Franz's previous post is right on track with Cardinal Kasper and the Pontifical Council.

I affirm that the Novus Ordo Mass can be said reverently and solemnly. I know this for a fact--I saw it said reverently once on TV. But it does not provide, in and of itself, the same degree of Catholic instruction. You must bring your own. Worse, still, the rubrics of the Novus Ordo Mass do not provide the same protections against abuse that the rubrics of the Tridentine Mass do. The same rubrics, depending on the priest, can provide a wide variety of experiences for the Novus Ordo. The Tridentine Mass, too, can be abused. But it is significantly more difficult to make this evident to the faithful if the priest follows the rubrics.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Is the Motu Proprio a big deal?

A reader's question:

Hey, Franz:

Great blog. I read it almost daily, but I really don't get what the big deal is over His Holiness' new lettter, as I was under the impression that it was up to the local Bishop to decide whether or not the Old Latin Mass was offered or not in their Diocese. As far as I know, it has been available/offered going back as far as Bishop Treacy in our Diocese, and as for me personally, Mass is Mass is Mass, regardless of language or rubric or whatever.

So help me out, is this just a case of people making a mountain out of a mole hill or what? Actually, I was under the impression that Vatican II made "today's" Mass the norm.... am I wrong? I've never been one real keen on rules for rules sake, but you know me, obedient to the end, even if I disagree.....


Why is the Motu Proprio a big deal? I'm trying to think of a way to write this in a paragraph. I certainly don't think it's people making a mountain out of a molehill. Instead, I think there is a certain sacredness that should exist in worship and in liturgy. Much of that sacredness seems to be lacking in the celebration of the New Mass, while certain elements present in the Old Mass are very conducive to creating a sacred atmosphere -- ie, Latin, chant, symbolism, silence, etc. I myself am more of a supporter of these elements than I am of the Old Mass. Latin, chant, symbolism, silence, can and should be part of the New Mass, too. It's just that they don't seem to be present very often. Their absence, I think, is directly responsible for the general decline in people's belief in the Real Presence, in our absolute need for God's grace, and even in belief in God. You are right, though, about a licitly celebrated New Mass being the norm; according to the Holy Father's letter, the Old Mass is to be considered an "extraordinary" form of the Roman Rite.

Come to think of it, Franz, can't it be said for either Mass, that you "get out of it what you put into it"? It seems to me that those who insist on all the elements you cited below for the sake of having them, contradict what Jesus' intent truly was, and could be interpreted as turning them into modern day Pharisees, which, as I understood New Testament at Mundelein, Jesus sought to "prevent" people from becoming and doing in their own lives.

Don't get me wrong, I understand where you are coming from, and I can agree that there are Masses where the sacredness of it (Mass) has been non-exisistent. But, I think, too, that you can have a very reverent, sacred, New Mass that incoporates some (but not all) of these points and still retain the solemnity and sacredness that is deserving of Mass.

My response:
I agree that there are many liturgical Pharisees, but being a stickler for the rules doesn't necessarily make one a Pharisee. Rather, the rules exist to prevent abuses from occuring. If the rules are safeguarded, then the liklihood of reverence increases dramatically. I also agree completely with your "you get what you put into it." Remember, though, that, in addition to the people attending the Mass, there are also the celebrant and the other ministers. True, if you attend a validly celebrated New Mass, regardless of how it's celebrated, you will receive Jesus Christ. At the same time, no matter how much you put into it, you by yourself can't make the Mass a sacred moment, which makes it harder for people to enter into the mystery being celebrated, and subsequently to get less out of having attended. Mass is a communal event that depends on everybody -- especially on the priest, who act in the person of Christ. As such, you yourself can only put in so much. The rest depends on the priest and how he celebrates. And yes, as I said originally, a New Mass can be celebrated reverently, worthily, and with a great deal of sacredness. I simply haven't seen it done often!

Pro-life Song

Here are the lyrics to an interesting song -- apparently number one in Quebec right now -- posted on Catholic Exchange:

Your great-great-grandmother had 14 children
Your great-grandmother had almost as many
And as for your grandmother three were enough for her
And your mother didn't even want you
You were just an accident
And as for you, my girl,
you go from partner to partner
when you make a dumb mistake
you escape it by aborting.
But some mornings you wake up crying
after dreaming at night
of a big table surrounded with children.

As the oldest of 13 children, maybe my future family can buck this trend :-)
Breaking news: La Crosse Shrine Welcomes Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate

I'm currently reworking this press release, which we received earlier today from the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe here in La Crosse. It seems that the Shrine will finally have a sacramental staff, which is great news in a diocese strapped for priests like La Crosse. While I don't profess to be an expert on the Friars of the Immaculate, I am aware that they have care of Santa Maria Maggiore Basilica in Rome, and that Archbishop Burke has a special love and devotion for that basilica. However it came to be, their arrival at the Shrine is an occasion for rejoicing.

Without further ado, here's the press release in full:

The Most Reverend Raymond L. Burke, Founder of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe and Chairman of the Shrine Board of Directors, has announced that the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate will open a new foundation of Priests and Brothers to be resident and serve at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wisconsin. In announcing the new foundation of the Friars of the Immaculate, Archbishop Burke expressed deepest gratitude to Father Stefano Maria Manelli, F.I., Superior General of the Friars, and Father Peter Damian Maria Fehlner, F.I., an esteemed American member of the Friars, who has been working with Archbishop Burke in preparing for the new foundation at the Shrine in La Crosse.
With the approval and blessing of the Most Reverend Jerome E. Listecki, Bishop of the Diocese of La Crosse, the initial foundation of two priests and one brother will provide for the sacramental and other pastoral needs of the pilgrims to the Shrine. They will also conduct retreats and give spiritual conferences.
The Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate is a religious institute of consecrated life of pontifical right, which is devoted to the apostolate. It was founded in Italy in 1970 by two Franciscan Friars, Father Stefano Maria Manelli and Father Gabriel Maria Pellettieri. As noted above, Father Manelli is the current Superior General of the Order.
The Friars live the radical life of Saint Francis and are dedicated, in particular, to the apostolate of the communications media, under the protection and inspiration of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and her devoted servant, Saint Maximilian Maria Kolbe. They wear the Franciscan habit. In addition to the profession of the three traditional vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, the Friars profess an additional fourth vow of unlimited consecration to Mary Immaculate, that is, a vow to cooperate without reserve in the mission of the Mother of God for the universal salvation of souls.
The Friars of the Immaculate have houses in several countries, including Italy, the United States (at New Bedford, Connecticut and Bloomington, Indiana), the Philippines, Brazil, Russia, Australia, and Nigeria. At present, the religious institute has about three hundred members.
The residence for the Friars is under construction adjacent to the Shrine Church and should be ready to receive the Friars by July of 2008.

Additional information on the Franciscan Friars is available on their website



Summorum Pontificum cura ad hoc tempus usque semper fuit, ut Christi Ecclesia Divinae Maiestati cultum dignum offerret, «ad laudem et gloriam nominis Sui» et «ad utilitatem totius Ecclesiae Suae sanctae». ...

Latin text of the motu proprio; unofficial English text of the motu proprio; the pope's explanatory letter.

Unfortunately, and surprising to me, given the more upbeat pre-event coverage, much of the secular press coverage has been negative, even citing bishops' pessemistic negativity. Zenit News Agency, however, has provided a series of upbeat and helpful articles.

More later!

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Motu Proprio mania

Yes, I know the text of the motu proprio has been obtained and analyzed in the blogsphere. But no, I will not link, nor will I comment on that analysis or the text itself until the motu proprio is officially released on Saturday. Visit the site of someone with lesss journalistic integrity if you want to know more.

Enough said.

Until then, here are some "rules" of engagement for lovers of the Old Rite:

Fr. Z’s 5 Rules of Engagement for after the Motu Proprio is released:
1) Rejoice because our liturgical life has been enriched, not because "we win". Everyone wins when the Church’s life is enriched. This is not a "zero sum game".

2) Do not strut. Let us be gracious to those who have in the past not been gracious in regard to our "legitimate aspirations".

3) Show genuine Christian joy. If you want to attract people to what gives you so much consolation and happiness, be inviting and be joyful. Avoid the sourness some of the more traditional stamp have sadly worn for so long.

4) Be engaged in the whole life of your parishes, especially in works of mercy organized by the same. If you want the whole Church to benefit from the use of the older liturgy, then you who are shaped by the older form of Mass should be of benefit to the whole Church in concrete terms.

5) If the document doesn’t say everything we might hope for, don’t bitch about it like a whiner. Speak less of our rights and what we deserve, or what it ought to have been, as if we were our own little popes, and more about our gratitude, gratitude, gratitude for what God gives us.

McBrien on Converts

Father Richard McBrien's column is published by several diocesan newspapers, but thankfully not the one I work for. I've read a good deal of his work on ecclesiology, and his intelligence makes it difficult to point to one single thing that's heretical; but there is always something a little fishy in his analysis, especially when it comes to the place of the Catholic Church and other Christian communities.

Now, in a response to one of Father McBrien's latest columns on Catholic converts, Msgr. Barr of Rockford, Ill., has summed up perfectly on his blog my disquietude regarding Father McBrien's ecclesiology:

Thanks to Amy Welborn of Open Book for pointing me to Fr. McBrien's latest article on converts to Catholicism. Check McBrien on Converts. What a thing to come back to after vacation! Of course, McBrien believes that Vatican II rejected "the one, true Church" teaching--which it did not--and therefore all these new Catholic converts of the famous variety, like Robert Novak, Sen. Brownback, Larry Kudlow, etc. are converting to a Church and Faith that no longer exist. He blames "conservative church folk" for pushing an antiquated view of Catholicism on these poor, unsuspecting--and apparently, non-reflective--non-Catholics. As usual, he prefers the opposite way of "doing Church": he's happy as a clam to see Catholics sink into a soup of mediocrity such as afflicts many main line Protestant communities.
Too bad he doesn't look instead at why a book of famous converts converted by liberal churchmen would be a thin volume indeed. Or, more seriously, why anyone would choose to be Catholic if it's simply the same as being a member of another denomination or as sure of a path to salvation as, say, the Unitarians.
Not long ago, (see April 21 post below), he was willing to embrace Pelagius and take Pope Benedict's clarification about Limbo as a reason for the non-efficacy of Baptism. Here, he's just being so 19th century Anglican, donning the professorial air, leaning back to take a cynical view of faith and society, comfortable with his own academic profession, all the while oblivious to the need of the Church for a mind like his that would be charged with zeal of St. Paul and the Passion of St. Peter to preach the Gospel like the world's salvation really depended on it. It does, you know, Fr. McBrien--the world really needs a Savior and there is only one: Jesus Christ preached by the Catholic Church he founded.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Yours truly on the airwaves

I've made it big time now! This past weekend, I was a guest on Relevant Radio's Connecting with the Bishop program, which is aired weekly on the stations located within the Diocese of La Crosse. Here's the announcement:

Connecting with the Bishop
Friday, June 29, 2007
This Week's Program
It's the second annual "summer reading show!" Bishop Jerome Listecki talks Catholic Times reporter Franz Klein, writer and teacher Joseph O'Brien, as well as Ben Nguyen, Mike Strub and Jack Socha about their suggested reading.

For streaming audio, click here. To download an MP3 file, click here. (If these links don't work, you can go the Relevant Radio site and find it under archives.

Happy Fourth of July!

Visa problems chase priest away

I was surprised to read in the bulletin of St. John the Baptist Parish, Marshfield, that their associate pastor and good friend of mine (we studied together in Rome), Father D. Joseph Redfern, a native of Australia ordained for the La Crosse diocese last June, is in Canada evading immigration authorities!

In the words of pastor Father Stoetzl:

Fahter Redfern was made aware last fall that he might have a problem with his visa this June. He had been working with the immigration office, and had been led to believe all is fine as long as he didn't travel outside the United States. On Friday June 22, he was informed that there was a problem. He had to leave the United States and go to the nearest foreign country (Canada) before his visa expired. He will be working there and hopes to return as soon as possible. The process can take from a matter of several days to weeks or more. We hope he returns as soon as possible.

Goodness! You would think that the immigration authorities would have enough problems on their hands without picking on priests!

Monday, July 2, 2007

More on Bishop-elect Christensen

Found on the website of Nativity Parish (http://www.nativity-mn.org/) in St. Paul, Minn., where he has heretofor been pastor, here's a light-hearted biography of Bishop-elect Peter Christensen, who will soon take the helm of the Diocese of Superior, Wisconsin:

Archbishop Flynn has appointed Father Peter Christensen as the fifth Pastor of Nativity Parish. Father Christensen is an outstanding Catholic priest. He loves the Church and the sacraments, he sought after a parish with a strong Catholic school, he is a fine preacher and compassionate confessor, he enjoys people young and old, he is a proven administrator and fundraiser. And yes, he can draw. Father Christensen was born in 1952, grew up in Southern California, then moved to the Twin Cities in 1975. After obtaining his undergraduate degree from the University of Saint Thomas, he worked as a commercial artist. Father Christensen was ordained in 1985 from the Saint Paul Seminary and served as Associate Pastor at Saint Olaf's in downtown Minneapolis until 1989, when he was assigned as a spiritual director at Saint John Vianney Seminary.

In 1992, Archbishop Roach appointed him Seminary Rector. As Rector, Father Christensen took a moribund Seminary and brought its enrollment from 30 or so seminarians to its current enrollment of more than 100, making it the largest college Seminary in the United States. He revamped the formation program, instituted Eucharistic Adoration, built up a $3 million endowment, and beautified the Seminary Chapel. I don't know if he is taking credit for the fact that the seminarians' intramural football team has won the championship two of the last three years, but they certainly have changed their previous reputation around the campus.

"I am thrilled with the news of my assignment at Nativity," says Father Christensen. "I have a deep admiration and respect for your parish, and I look forward to being an integral part of your community."

Father Christensen will take some well-deserved vacation in June and July, beginning his duties at Nativity the first of August. (By the way, no word at this time on a possible new Associate Pastor.) I am counting on the good people of Nativity to offer him the same warm welcome that you extended to me three years ago. God has answered many people's fervent prayers, giving us a Pastor after His own heart. Welcome home, Father Christensen