What’s New


President of the Pontifical Academy for Life and
Grand Chancellor of the Pontifical John Paul II Theological Institute for
Marriage and Family Sciences
Oxford, February 12, 2018

See full transcript of the lecture here.



President of the Pontifical Academy for Life and
Grand Chancellor of the Pontifical John Paul II Theological Institute for
Marriage and Family Sciences
London, February 13, 2018

See full transcript of the lecture here.

Week of March 8-14 honors Catholic women religious

By Catholic News Service • Posted March 7, 2018
MINNEAPOLIS (CNS) — Events around the country are marking National Catholic Sisters Week March 8-14. It’s the fifth annual celebration of women religious taking place during National Women’s History Month.

The weeklong celebration is intended to honor the nation’s 45,605 women religious and the sisters before them who founded schools and hospitals. These sisters were, and continue to be, missionaries, contemplatives, activists and spiritual leaders.

“To meet a Catholic sister is to be inspired,” said Molly Hazelton, director of National Catholic Sisters Week based at St. Mary’s University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. “Shining a light on their ministries can move the masses, and that’s what we’re aiming to do. In a time when there isn’t much good news, we need more than ever to hear stories of how they help and heal a fractured country.”

Women religious are hosting panel discussions, pilgrimages, dinners and retreats during the week. Many of the events are informal and local, others are formally organized, funded by 89 mini-grants of up to $1,000 each awarded by the National Catholic Sisters Week office. There is a website, www.nationalcatholicsistersweek.org, and the week’s events can be followed it on social media using #NCSW2018.

During the week the Sisters of Christian Charity in Mendham, New Jersey, are sponsoring a nun run for young women to tour different convents and the Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in New Orleans are participating in a service day at local soup kitchens and homeless shelters.
The Sisters of Mercy will celebrate the week with a series of videos and a Facebook Live streaming chat March 9 where Mercy Sister Patricia Donlin, a theology teacher at Gwynedd Mercy Academy High School in Gwynedd Valley, Pennsylvania, will answer questions about vocations and consecrated life at https://www.facebook.com/MercySisters.

Mercy sisters in the videos found here will share their vocation and ministry stories and their connections to critical concerns of the order such as care for the earth, nonviolence, immigration, anti-racism and women.

In Maryland, a religion teacher at St. Francis International School in Silver Spring is taking middle school girls to visit the Oblate Sisters of Providence in Baltimore to see Catholic sisters who share their ethnicity. “It’s important for African-American girls and other girls of color to see sisters that look like them so that, if they feel they might be called to religious life, they will believe they can achieve the vocation,” said the teacher, Kirk Gaddy.

This year, there has been a deliberate effort to engage diverse groups and introduce them to the possibility of religious life by fostering friendships with Catholic sisters. Spanish-speaking School Sisters of Notre Dame, for example, are hosting a canvas-painting party, “Pintar Y Orar” (“Painting and Pray”), in Texas to reach out to the Latino community and invite teens to paint and talk with the sisters.

Sister Bridget Waldorf, a School Sister of Notre Dame and the event organizer, said the influence of Catholic sisters is needed now more than ever as a balm for troubled times.

“Because so many consecrated sisters are engaged in ministries where deep reverence for others is fundamental to who they are in mission, they are ready to help heal and listen and engage,” she said.

She pointed out that the work the sisters do is varied — from contemplative prayer to working with the poor — but she said the “goal seems to be universal: to love one another.”

Since National Catholic Sisters Week was launched, Hazelton said, she has repeatedly heard from young adults who are impressed with the connections they have made with women religious.

“Many of the causes that drive Catholic sisters resonate with millennials: social justice, sustainability, simple living and authenticity, when your daily life matches your core values. Sisters have so much to teach us,” she added.

Material on the organization’s website points out that the weeklong initiative is “intended to amplify the rich legacy of women religious, to illuminate their current ministries and to spotlight the young women who are continuing to pursue religious life.”

According to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, based at Georgetown University, more than 100 women became sisters in 2017, ranging from 24 to 86 years old and the average age was 36.

National Catholic Sisters Week is a branch of the National Catholic Sisters Project based at Alverno College in Milwaukee and is supported by a grant from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation.

Human Dignity and Bioethics Lecture

This lecture was delivered in Oxford at “Blackfriars” on February 12. Blackfriars is the historic Dominican presence at Oxford University, dating its original founding to 1221. It is a Dominican Priory, a House of Studies associated with the University of St. Thomas-Angelicum in Rome, and a “Permanent Private Hall” (equivalent to a “College”) of Oxford University. The lecture was co-sponsored by the Anscombe Bioethics Centre and the Las Casas Institute, two Blackfriars-related organizations concerned with the promotion of human dignity and bioethical research. It was given by: ARCHBISHOP VINCENZO PAGLIA President of the Pontifical Academy for Life and Grand Chancellor of the Pontifical John Paul II Theological Institute for Marriage and Family Sciences Oxford, February 12, 2018 Ladies and Gentlemen, Honored Guests, Dear Friends All First of all, I would like to thank you for your invitation and for choosing such an important subject for our time together. The question of human dignity is very much in the forefront of public debate, in the field of bioethics and in wider contexts that challenge social coexistence as a whole. It should be noted, however, that despite being widely discussed and encouraged, dignity itself is given very different interpretations, and the term is applied in situations where we find its usage strange, for example, with respect to euthanasia. For this reason, it is important for us to consider this question together so that we can reach a consensus on what is a particularly complex issue. Read the full lecture transcript here. Read more…

The Proclamation of Life in a Missionary Perspective Lecture

This lecture on preaching the Gospel of Life, was delivered on February 13 in London at the University of Notre Dame London Campus and was sponsored by “Catholic Voices,” an organized initiative whose purpose is to enable and provide effective media and public square communication of the Church’s belief and teaching, particularly in controverted circumstances. The lecture was given by ARCHBISHOP VINCENZO PAGLIA President of the Pontifical Academy for Life and Grand Chancellor of the Pontifical John Paul II Theological Institute for Marriage and Family Sciences London, February 13, 2018 Ladies and Gentlemen, Honored Guests, Dear Friends of Catholic Voices, thank you for coming here and for inviting me to consider with you how the mystery of human life can be proclaimed in the Church’s missionary activity today. Preaching the Kingdom, the Promise of Life. “What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we looked upon and touched with our hands concerns the Word of life, for the life was made visible; we have seen it and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was made visible to us—what we have seen and heard we proclaim now to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; for our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.” (1Jn 1:1-3). The first letter of John summarizes the whole experience of the revelation of Jesus Christ—the good news that life has been given back to us, through the Incarnation of the Word that is God’s life in his Son, Jesus. Read the full lecture transcript here. Read more…

Blessed Solanus Casey Showed the Way for Us

Following is Fr. Bernard Healey’s homily for 11/18-19 liturgies.  Fr. Healey is the pastor of Our Lady of Mercy Church, East Greenwich, Rhode Island. Last night a great event took place at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan, the home field of the NFL’s Detroit Lions. Nearly 70, 000 people filled the stadium — but not for a football game. And while it barely got a mention by the mainstream media, it was the largest Catholic event to take place in Detroit area since St. John Paul II visited there in 1987. The event was the beatification ceremony for Venerable Solanus Casey. At Ford Field last night they celebrated a simple, humble working man who, against all odds, became a priest and now enters the final chapter on his road to being canonized a saint, an American-born saint. This simple, unpretentious man known as the “Doorkeeper”, Solanus Casey was the kindly priest who shed his ego so he might serve others. The sixth child of 16 children, Bernard Francis Casey was born to poor, Irish immigrants in Oak Grove, Wisconsin, in 1870. He had always felt the calling to the priesthood but it was delayed as he left school to go to work to help support the large family. Barney Casey did what he had to do to earn money. He worked as a lumberjack, a prison guard, and a streetcar operator and even as a hospital orderly. He did whatever job he had to the best of his ability, always with serving God as his primary goal.  Consequently, his education was put on hold and it took him five years to get back to high school. He spent five years studying before being able to join the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin. When he was accepted he took the name Solanus, after St. Francis Solanus. In 1904 Brother Solanus became Father Solanus Casey at the age of 33. He had to fight to get through his studies but he managed, though he was ordained as a “Sacerdos Simplex” — a simple priest, meaning he wouldn’t preach or hear confessions. Father Casey never complained. For decades Father Casey lived and served at St. Bonaventure Monastery in Detroit. His primary job was that of “doorkeeper.”   He became widely known for his service to the sick and the poor, and also for the sage advice he would give to the visitors who came by. After a while, people began attributing cures and other blessings to Father Casey’s interaction with them. He spent hours upon hours patiently receiving, listening to, and counselling the ever growing number of people who came to him. Father Solanus Casey died July 31, 1957, the anniversary of his first Mass. He was utterly normal and ordinary. He was a man who spent the majority of his life opening and closing doors for people. A man who in the view of our culture appeared to have no worldly talent, no marketable skills.   Solanus Casey couldn’t produce a movie, transplant a heart, throw an NFL touchdown, pick a stock, litigate a case, lead a political movement or build a skyscraper. His talents weren’t great, they were simple.  Greeting people with kindness and charity, serving people with generosity and compassion, treating people with patience and love. Blessed Solanus, the Doorkeeper, had no ego and was happy just to serve God in the simplest of ways.  He was always faithful to God in small matters as he opened the door to Christ’s abiding presence. Today’s parable is an instruction on how we are supposed to serve our God.  God has given each of us a certain number of "talents”, that is the abilities and blessings we have received from God. Each of us has been given a certain amount of talents; thus, we are expected to bear a certain amount of fruit. God has given them to us, and we are free either to squander our gifts, burying them in the hole of self-indulgence and selfishness, apathy and laziness, cold-heartedness and greed.  Or put them to use as Christ would have us use them, as we are called to do, building up his kingdom, as so many before us have done before us, and as the saintly Doorkeeper, Blessed Father Solanus Casey did. It is the secret to total happiness in this life and in the life to come. My friends, each of us is faithful to the degree in which we glorify God by using our talents!  After all you don’t need much talent to be kind and patient, generous and charitable, loving and compassionate, and to simply open the door to the loving and abiding presence of Christ with our words and in our deeds. The Gospel is the invitation to come share in our Master’s joy by loving, knowing and serving God. As Blessed Solanus Casey once said: “We should ever be grateful for and love the vocation to which God has called us. This applies to every vocation because, after all, what a privilege it is to serve God, even in the least capacity!” Blessed Solanus Casey, the Doorkeeper, pray for us. We thank you for your faithful and joyful witness of how to simply know, love and serve our God.   Read more…

An Evening with the
Daughter of a Saint

Dr. Gianna Emanuela Molla, the daughter of Saint Gianna Beretta Molla, is coming to St. Paul’s in Ellicott City on Thursday, March 30, 2017 At 7 p.m., in the church

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  • Hear Dr. Molla speak about her mother’s mission in the Church today.
  • Learn how we can help with the creation of a shrine to St. Gianna Molla in Italy.
  • Venerate St. Gianna’s relics.
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An opportunity to meet and greet Dr. Molla will follow the presentation You are invited to adore the Blessed Sacrament before the presentation, from 5:30 to 7 p.m.

Would you like to know more about St. Gianna? by the kind permission of Ignatius Press, Love is a Choice, a movie about the life of St. Gianna, will be shown in the Center for the New Evangelization at St. Paul’s at 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 16th St. Paul Catholic Church 3755 St. Paul Street Ellicott City, MD 21043 For further information, please contact Yvette Ridenour at 410-744-5751.

        Read more…

Archbishop Paglia is new President of Academy of Life

(Vatican Radio) It was announced on Wednesday Pope Francis appointed Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia as the new President of the Pontifical Academy for Life. Archbishop Paglia had previously served as the President of the Pontifical Council for the Family, which has been merged into the new Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life. At the same time, Pope Francis also appointed Archbishop Paglia as Grand Chancellor of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family. The Holy Father also appointed Msgr. Pierangelo Sequeri as the new President of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family. Msgr. Sequeri was previously Dean of the Theology Faculty of Northern Italy in Milan. Read more…

Vatican Radio interviews Bishop Farrell on new Vatican position

(Vatican Radio) Bishop Kevin J. Farrell of the Diocese of Dallas, Texas, said he was “humbled” when Pope Francis asked him to be the new Prefect of the new Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life. “I was obviously humbled by the fact that the Holy Father would ask me to go and do such an important work,” Bishop Farrell told Vatican Radio. Click here to listen to the interview of Bishop Kevin Farrell with Charles Collins>> “I have always considered myself to be just a bishop of the diocese and at service to the people here, so when you get a call from the Holy Father asking you to do something like this you cannot but be amazed and humbled at the same time by the whole venture,” he said. He takes up his new position in just a matter of weeks: The new Dicastery has a start date of 1 September, taking over the offices of the Pontifical Councils for the Family and for the Laity. “I look forward to it,” Bishop Farrell said. “It seems to me to be a great challenge, especially given the fact that the Holy Father’s letter Amoris laetitia is so important and so well-received by the whole world; and being in charge of what was the Council for the Family, obviously that is going to be my number one agenda,” – he continued – “And obviously to promote lay ministry, and to ensure that the lay people take their rightful place in the Church, and to promote the apostolate of the laity in the world. I see it as a challenge. I didn’t expect this at this stage in my life, but that’s where we are!” When Bishop Farrell arrives in Rome, he will become the second Bishop Farrell at the Vatican: His older brother, Bishop Brian Farrell, is the Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. “Yes, I do have a brother there that works there in the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity,” Bishop Kevin Farrell said. “I am looking forward to it,” – he explained. – “We have been priests for many, many years, but we have never worked together in the same city, so it will be unique, it will be change.” Read more…

The Synodal Document on “Love”

By Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia on the Apostolic Exhortation “The Joy of Love” For our Church, the Apostolic Exhortation “Amoris Laetitia” is one milestone on a long and winding journey. The Holy Father’s enthusiastic invitation to deal broadly, freely and openly with questions that are real and not just academic resounds throughout this Exhortation. With great respect for tradition, it reflects prior synodal documents, the 2015 Wednesday Audience catecheses, and the writings of recent Popes, especially St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI. In line with the development of the magisterium, from Vatican II till today, the document provides the basis for a new relationship between the Church and the family. For the Church, the lives of families are not to be primarily a series of moral questions the Church must answer, they are to be the wellsprings of a lively faith that brings God’s love to mankind. Tellingly, the Pope chose to comment about St. Paul’s description of love in 1 Corinthians 13. That choice shows how deeply and how concretely love – every love – springs from the highest love – the agape of God, a love that is far from being simply mystical and romantic. As the Pope describes it, following St. Paul step by step, love is solid, it is marked by interaction, by beauty, by sacrifice, by vulnerability and by tenacity (“love bears all...endures all”). God’s own love is like that and has no similarity with the individualism that shuts love up in an obsessive “just us” situation and endangers the joy of the marital and family bond. The vocabulary of family love is all about passion and fruitfulness. Overcoming the Separation Between Doctrine and Pastoral Care The Gospel of Jesus is the Easter message of God’s love that calls us to Him. This is the truth of our faith; and any interpretation of doctrine that excludes this Easter message from pastoral activity drives “faith” away from faithfulness to Divine Revelation. Sadly, there are those, even among committed believers, who would like the Church to be a sort of courtroom of life and human history, to be a Church that accuses, a prosecutor who gathers evidence of transgressions without taking into account the unfortunate circumstances of life or the difficult choices we have to make. That view is one-sided and it forgets that the Church has been commissioned by the Lord to be courageous and strong in its protection of the weak, in forgiving wrongs, in healing the wounds of fathers, mothers, children, brothers and sisters – starting with those who realize that they are prisoners of their own failings, and who are in despair for having ruined their lives. The Pope writes: “in no way can the Church stop preaching the full ideal of marriage, which is God’s plan in all its greatness.” (307) We must be more bold in presenting this ideal. For example, recognizing the societal difficulties faced by the youth of today, the Holy Father gives special emphasis to preparation for marriage and to staying close to young couples in their first years as anew family: “Today, pastoral attention to strengthening marriages and preventing breakdowns is more important than pastoral assistance in failed situations.” (307) But on the other hand, the Church is also familiar with weakness, with the “law of graduality,” and with the certainty that the Lord never abandons anyone. The synthesis that the Pope proposes in the Exhortation calls for a change of pace and style that transforms the face that the Church presents to the world. He emphasizes that the structure and ministry of the Church is dedicated to the faith life of families and not vice versa. Thus, the Church cannot fulfill its family mission from the Lord without calling families themselves to share in that mission. This basic ecclesiology of the family is the very air that the Exhortation breathes; it is the horizon toward which the Church wants to lead believers in this new age. If the transformation called for in the Exhortation is welcomed with faith, it is destined to renew decisively the way in which the community of believers perceives itself. The key to this transformation is not found where some thought it to be, that is, in the dispute that marked the beginning of the recent synodal process, namely, the presumed conflict (or necessary choice) between doctrinal rigor and pastoral flexibility. Rather, the Church is rediscovering the moral responsibility involved in the way it interprets doctrine. It must discern rules in a way that takes into account the lives that its members are living and that ensures that they never lose sight of the fact that they are loved by God. That love can be made plain only by the way the Church treats each of us, even with all the weaknesses that our lives suffer. There are at least two clear signs of this change of direction: (a)Marriage is indissoluble, but the bond between the Church and its sons and daughters is even more so, because it is like the bond that Christ has established with the Church, which is full of sinners who were loved by God even while they were still sinners. They are never abandoned, not even when they sin again. (b)The Bishop has full authority and responsibility for maintaining and protecting the bond between the Church and its members, with the knowledge that the salvation of souls is what is most important. The Bishop is a judge because he also is a shepherd, and a shepherd knows his sheep even (or especially) when they go astray. His most important task is always to lead them home, where he can care for them and heal them; and he cannot do that if he leaves them where they are, abandoning them to their fate because “they brought it on themselves.” Care for Wounded Families-Process In the next-to-last chapter of the Exhortation, the Holy Father traces out the path the Church is to follow. He uses three words: accompany, discern and integrate. But in reality the whole document is a guide to a new approach to the pastoral activity of the Church, which, as set out clearly in Evangelii Gaudium, has mercy as its guiding principle. The Church is fully committed to staying close to all its members, to accompanying them throughout all of life, in all circumstances; and itis committed to their full integration into the Christian life, with no one left behind. In that process, the role of discernment is to discover, wherever they are, the “signs of love that reflect in some way the love of God” (294) in order to “integrate all” (297) into the Body of Christ. Everybody is to find a place in the Church where he or she can grow to become fully a part of that Body; and as we help each other to achieve that full integration, we remember that no one in this life is ever “condemned once and for all.” (297) In the Exhortation, the Holy Father does not see any need for “a new set of rules.” (300) Rather, he is calling for wise and serious “personal and pastoral discernment in individual cases.” (300) Our shared faith and love for our brothers and sisters can work miracles, even in the most difficult circumstances. Access to God’s grace which, once welcomed, results in the conversion of sinners, is a serious matter. The Catholic doctrine of moral judgment, somewhat neglected perhaps, is restored to a place of honor: the moral quality of a process of conversion does not necessarily coincide with the legal definition of the state of life of the sinner. In this process of accompanying, discernment and integration, the Bishop has primary responsibility. The role of the parish priest or chaplain is to guide the sinner to where he or she becomes open to discernment by the Bishop and to reintegration into the community of believers. In all this, it is important to realize that discernment and integration is not a do-it-yourself job. Itis not a legal formula that gets applied automatically, but neither is it an unprincipled individual choice. The path traced out in the Exhortation has clear mile markers: interpret Church doctrine, discern individual consciences respect moral principles and safeguard communion among individuals. Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia is president of the Holy See’s Pontifical Council for the Family Read more…

NCCF trustee appointed to U.S. bishops advisory council

Jim Delaney, a trustee of the National Catholic Community Foundation, has been appointed to a four-year term on the National Advisory Council of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Formed by the USCCB after the close of Vatican II, the National Advisory Council is designed to be a functioning advisory council whose membership reflects the multi-faceted dimension of the Catholic Church in the United States. The Council includes bishops, priests, deacons, men and women religious, men and women monastics, and laity of every age of each of the 15 regions of the USCCB. The resulting Council has been described as “the Church in miniature” not only because of its racial, ethnic, occupational and geographic diversity, but also because it often reflects the tensions within the Church. Meeting twice a year, Advisory Committee members review reports and supporting documentation from all 47 standing and ad-hoc committees of the USCCB and, following the deliberations of the NAC, the USCCB Executive Committee may change the final composition of the reports provided to all bishops of the United States. And although the National Advisory Committee is largely reactive, responding to action items proposed by the bishops and their committees, the NAC members may also develop individual resolutions that will be reviewed, critiqued and voted upon by the full NAC membership.     Read more…

Vatican exhibit open during World Meeting of Families

By Shannon Bowen Catholic News Service PHILADELPHIA - Works of art including paintings, sculptures and rare artifacts from the Vatican will be on display just in time for the World Meeting of Families and the visit of Pope Francis to Philadelphia this September. More than 200 works of art, 40 percent of which have never been shown publicly anywhere, are part of the "Vatican Splendors" exhibit opening Sept. 19 at Philadelphia's venerable Franklin Institute and running through February 2016. Officials with the families meeting and the institute announced the arrival of the exhibit during a news conference June 5. Philadelphia is the only East Coast destination for the exhibit in a two-city North American tour. The second city has not yet been announced. "We are going to make Philadelphia shine its brightest in September," said Donna Crilley Farrell, executive director of the World Meeting of Families. "Vatican Splendors" will be "a showstopper for visitors and Catholics in our region," she said. "This is a beautiful opportunity that will connect them." The nearly 10,000-square-foot exhibit, organized into 11 different galleries, will consist of significant objects collected by Vatican Museums over the span of 2,000 years. The exhibit includes objects from the ancient St. Peter's Basilica and tools used in the construction of the 16th-century basilica and the Sistine Chapel; artwork by Michelangelo; historical maps, signed documents and a bas-relief sculpture; works by Baroque masters such as Bernini and Guercino; intricately embroidered silk liturgical vestments; uniforms of the papal Swiss Guard; artwork that dates to the first century; and bone fragments of SS. Peter and Paul as well as relics discovered at their tombs. From underground catacombs to the sights and sounds of the grand St. Peter's Basilica, the goal of the exhibit is to make visitors to feel as if they were transported to the Vatican. Organizers of "Vatican Splendors" hope to illustrate the evolution of the Catholic Church by highlighting important developments, people and events in history. After the tour, the items will return to the Vatican, from which they may not be absent for more than a year. The only object in the exhibit that visitors may touch is a bronze cast of St. John Paul II's hand, which Farrell said she was looking forward to seeing and suspects many families in the city for the September events will also enjoy. "The World Meeting of Families will bring Catholics closer to their faith in two ways -- the celebration of family and also the laser focus on the role of the family," said Farrell. "We are so blessed for the beloved Pope Francis to come to our area. The 1979 visit of St. John Paul II, 36 years ago, is still talked about. This will influence the Philadelphia area because it's something that will be talked about for decades. It may encourage those who have been away from the church to come back, and this is something that will transform us." "Vatican Splendors" is a gift to Philadelphia, Farrell said, because visitors will "have the ability to see firsthand what you would normally have to travel to another continent to see." Between the events of Pope Francis' visit, the World Meeting of Families and cultural highlights such as the Franklin Institute's exhibit, the eyes of the world will be on Philadelphia for a once-in-a-lifetime experience.      
Read more…

Meeting with Archbishop Paglia

Summary of the May 22, 2015 meeting in Washington, DC, at the Metropolitan Club, 1700 h Street, NW attended by a representative cross-section of American Catholic Laity and Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family. The meeting was organized by the National Catholic Community Foundation and hosted by Vincent Burke, Esq., of Brown Advisory.

For the PDF version click here. The purpose of the meeting was to provide Archbishop Paglia an opportunity to hear the hopes and concerns of American laity with respect to the family in preparation for the upcoming Synod of Bishops meeting on the family in October 2015. The National Catholic Community Foundation will be pleased to coordinate expected continuing dialogue between the participants and Archbishop Paglia   Archbishop Paglia opened the conversation by stating that we are in a great and critical moment within the Church, a time when the family’s role as the fundamental cell of society is threatened.   He emphasized that he had come to listen and to learn, and that he would bring the concerns of the participants back to Rome with him so that the Pope and Synod Fathers could have the benefit of them.   The meeting lasted for two hours and was attended by approximately fifty persons The following is a summary of the points raised by the participants and Archbishop Paglia’s responses.   Comments by the Participants   Parish Life
  • There is inadequate support for families in homilies from the pulpit.
  • The quality of homilies is very low.
  • Parishes have tremendous potential for evangelization and need to learn to be more effective.
  • Parishes are not sufficiently present and visible within communities. They should not be just “Christ the Teacher’ and limit themselves to a catechetical perspective. They should also be “Christ the Healer” who welcomes all and who knows how to be close to all.
  • Young believers are “shoppers”; a parish-centric model may no longer relate to them.
  • Pastors are overworked. They may want to welcome new pastoral initiatives but have conflicting emotions about starting initiatives.
  • Parish programs and initiatives must but able to survive changes in parish leadership and staff.
  • Succession planning in parishes should be studied and improved.
  • The laity must be more involved with the leadership of the parish and the diocese.
  • There is a general need for increased pastoral sensitivity.
  • Evangelical Protestant churches are more supportive of families than Catholic parishes. They provide child care; they assist families in need. They have structural support at the congregation level.
  • People need to be ministered to for their whole lives and not just when preparing to receive the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Matrimony.
Family Life
  • Raising children is stressful.
  • ‘Family’ is an experience, not a concept.
  • Poverty, and violence are major detriments to the formation and duration of families.
  • Poor families fall apart. The divide between rich and poor is growing.
  • The definition of ‘family’ is evolving and our youth are affected.
  • The Synod should recognize new family structures and be more embracing and welcoming, especially with same-sex attraction, abortions and the divorced.
  • The disappearance of families is a societal problem, not just a religious problem.
  • Income limitations discourage having children.
  • The Church needs to do more to teach families how to deal with different faiths within the family.
  • The Church needs to find a way to address the needs of the elderly, to encourage respect for them and to involve them more fully in the life of the Church and the lives of families.
The Church
  • The Church should address the needs of young adults (20+) and not wait until they have children of their own.
  • The Church has a conflicting message in her teaching about charity and her treatment of same-sex couples. It shows hypocrisy in preaching love but teaching rules.
  • The Church seems afraid to be visible.
  • The image of Holy Mother Church used to be powerful but seems to have diminished since the 1960s. The Church is less visible in the lives of her people and seems more concerned about the preservation of assets than caring for her people.
  • Divorced Catholics are discouraged by the Church.
  • While the Church is Christ with his arms outstretched in a welcoming way, the Church needs some boundaries.
  • We need to discuss fellow Catholics who cannot marry traditionally because of their same-sex attraction.
  • It is not right that Catholic institutions should fire workers involved in same-sex unions. When we act out of intolerance, we are not being Catholic.
  • We have lost a sense of the sacred. Young people are not given the opportunity to experience the transcendental.
  • Young people have lost confidence in the Church.
  • Birth control teaching leads to disenchantment. The teaching must be accompanied by honesty.
  • Many people do not value marriage. Half our children are born out of wedlock.
  • The message of Pope John Paul II on the ‘Theology of the Body’ should be taught. Love and sexuality should be understood in the context of sacrament and of fullness of being.
  • There is danger in identifying sentiment with love
Faith Formation
  • There is a need for better faith formation. The laity should play a greater role in faith formation, should be better formed themselves, and should be adequately compensated when they serve as formators.
  • The Church’s marriage preparation courses are “ludicrous.”
  • The Church has a serious challenge in its catechesis.
  • Catholic social teaching is the Church’s best kept secret and excites young people when they are exposed to it. It evangelizes.
  • Technology can be distracting but also very effective in proactive evangelizing.
Archbishop Paglia's Responses In response to comments made by the participants during the meeting Archbishop Paglia offered the group much to think about. He emphasized that:
  • We need to reflect more deeply about the theology of the family.
  • In our world today we have a crisis: the loss of the dream of having a family.
  • We have to focus on the preparation of young people for marriage, especially when the marriage is between people of different faith traditions.
  • We must realize that the basic sacrament is the community, and communities are composed of families.
  • We are a Church that is too clerical. The laity need to play a more important role, especially from a pastoral point of view.
  • Today people don’t want to marry. The current cultural attitude is not in favor of the family.
  • Until now, women were the real pillars of the family. But now women are doing the same things that men, and this is the reason sometimes people delay marriage. Catholic women in the United States must show others how to be good mothers and good career women.
  • After creating the world God’s first gift to Adam was the gift of Eve, the gift of family.
  • Culture today pushes us to be alone. Without strong marriages we will have a feeble society.
  • If each family had only one child, the population would be cut in half in a generation.
  • Pope Francis is providing a new impetus for strong families. We have to change from just proclaiming moral doctrine to being more inclusive of all families – without judgment and with love.
  • The love of the Church is the love for all people, including the weak and the hurting. The parable of the Good Samaritan teaches us not to walk away from the wounded but rather to stay with them.
  • Three pillars that create a real link with God are: rediscovering the importance of the Bible in our lives, rediscovering the poor, and rediscovering the Mass.
  • It is better to be together in an imperfect way than to be alone. This is not as good as marriage, but it is better than being alone. People in this situation should be in the Church and not outside it. The Synod needs to emphasize this attitude.
  • The Church must encourage society to respect the elderly. Being elderly should be a kind of vocation.
  • People from different cultures and perspectives can be united by friendship, by love and by hope.
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