Sunday, May 19, 2019
This is my commandment – Love one another as I have loved you.
Jim Caviezel, the actor who played Jesus in the Passion of the Christ, understood the meaning of that love.
Mel Gibson asked him to take the part – when he was 33 years old. He had the initials JC.
While playing this role:
- Was hit by lightning
- When the Whipping went wrong he had 14-inch gash on back
- It was so cold on cross suffered hypothermia – would later need heart surgery.
- While carrying cross his arm was pulled wrong way = dislocated shoulder – captured on film.
One scene – carrying cross – over 100 pounds – he falls to ground. Nearby the mother of Jesus is watching. She is so saddened by what she is sees, she is afraid to get closer. But then she has a vision of a young boy who is playing and falls. She runs to comfort her son Jesus. And now she understands what she must do, she runs to Jesus. She can’t save him from what he must go through, but she can be there! She can keep loving him!
Elie Weisel said that while they were in Auschwitz, the Nazi’s told them to forget family and friends – think only of yourself – this is the only way to survive.
The opposite happened. Those who lived only for themselves were more likely to die, while those who lived for a parent, a sibling, a friend or an ideal had the best chance of survival. Not selfishness but love. Love brings out the best in us.
Love is not for the faint hearted. It is not a feeling or an emotion. It is about a commitment. It is “willing the good of the other.”
You see, this is life, the carrying of crosses. Life is not easy. Life can be very hard. We are fragile. We have all sorts of challenges. We are limited in what we can do.
We can be filled with bitterness. We can be filled with anger and hate. We can lash out at people. We can hurt ourselves and others.
We can say – bring it on!
We can pick up that cross, those crosses, and follow Him. We can help others carry their crosses. We gathered last night at the Knights to have a benefit dinner for the Scampoli’s. Richie died too young, and that can fill us with anger. Or, we can do something, We can love – the hall was jammed, and over $20,000 was raised.
When Mary knelt before Jesus on the ground, he lifted his head and said – See, I make all things new!
Where there is hatred – now love
Where there is injury – now pardon
Where there is doubt – now faith
Where there is despair – now hope
Where there is darkness – now light
Where there is sadness – now joy.
I give you a new commandment – love one another as I have loved you!
Sunday, May 5, 2019
Two churches come to my mind today –
1st is on the shore of the Sea of Galilee – has a Rock inside called Mensa Christi – Table of Christ – where Jesus served that 1st Breakfast – simple, humble church
2nd – in Rome – great Basilica - built over the Tomb of Peter
Amazing – had come so far from Galilee! How did he get there?
Peter: Given name was Simon – called Petra – Rock, but also Scandalon – Stumbling Stone
- Leave me Lord, I am a sinful man – From now on catching people.
- Jesus walking across the water – Peter says if you wish, I could do it too – come! – walks but begins to sink – took his eyes off Jesus
- Who do people say that I am? – Whom do YOU say I am – You are the Christ!
But now things have changed – Crucifixion, then an empty Tomb - they were told to go to Galilee – there they would see him.
There were 7 apostles there that day - Peter says: I am going fishing
Strange - back to old ways – of course they caught nothing - without Christ!
Dawn had come – they hear a voice: Children - still spiritual children - have you caught anything to eat? You haven’t caught anything, have you?
Cast your net on the right side - do it his way - net full to the breaking point
153 fish - symbol of every species – St. Augustine: all nations
John - it is the Lord!
Peter - has no clothes on – strangely puts on clothes to jump in water
Adam - put on clothes after he sinned
Charcoal fire - last time - Peter denied him 3 times.
Come have breakfast - loaves & fish - Eucharist
Some unfinished business:
Simon son of John do you love me? Agape – self giving
Unwilling to say - I love you – look what he did! You know that I love you - Philia – friendship Feed lambs!
Once again – do you love me – agape?
You know that I love you – philia Tend sheep!
Do you love me – philia – to his level, accept what he can give.
You know everything – you know well that I love you – philia Feed sheep!
This has taken him from Galilee to Rome!
All has to do with Mercy – Peter committed a grave sin and denied Jesus. Three times denied now three times forgiven!
Despite his failures, Peter was the first to visit empty tomb – first to preach Resurrection – first Pope – and on the Vatican hill he was crucified upside down – not worthy
Like Peter, we are all sinners – we are imperfect – we commit same sins over and over again – we do not always trust – we struggle with faith
And yet - If Jesus could do all that with him – he can do it for us! And so, He says to each of us – FOLLOW ME!
Sunday, April 28, 2019
Last summer, I led a group of pilgrims to Greece and Turkey. We wanted to visit places associated with both St. Paul & St. John.
Ephesus in Turkey – where he preached, where he had a house to take care of Mary – Woman, behold your Son. Son behold your Mother – we offered Mass there - and where he is buried.
Island of Patmos – back in the time of John it was a Roman Penal colony where prisoners were sent. He was sent because he was teaching about Jesus. We drove up the hill overlooking the harbor and went into the “Cave of the Apocalypse” - the very place where John wrote – the Book of the Apocalypse – sounds like the end of the world – but means “unveiling” Revelation.
John heard a voice and saw 7 gold lampstands – Holy of Holies in Jerusalem – place of encounter with God.
Then he saw - One like a son of Man – an ankle length robe – gold sash – and John fell down. He knew who it was!!! John said - He touched me – Jesus said - Do not be afraid. I am the first and the last, the one who lives. Once I was dead, but now I am alive forever and ever! Another Resurrection appearance!
If John looked closer – he would have seen the holes – the wounds. He will mention them later – “the Lamb standing as though it had been slain.” Thomas was looking for them. “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nail marks and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”
He saw and said – “My Lord and My God!”
The Bible is clear – the same body, but now bearing the wounds. Both St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Augustine agree – the wounds have never been removed. Why would he continue to bear the wounds?
First – to show it was really him! This is how much He loves us!
Second, to remind us – this is the cost of following him. We all bear the wounds, don’t we? We are all wounded in some way – some wounds self-inflicted – some inflicted by others – the wounds of love – of caring – of service – of sickness – of pain – we all have them. And – having His own wounds - he understands!
It would have been an easy reaction – you all abandoned me – yet he was filled with mercy for Thomas and all of them. He walks in and says – Shalom – peace! – Divine Mercy!
Divine Mercy – ABC
Ask – Jesus, remember me – Father, forgive them. Forgiveness is always there, especially in the Sacrament of Confession
Be Merciful – If you are a follower – let’s see your hands – your feet – your heart!
Completely Trust – Do not be afraid. I am the first and the last, the one who lives. Once I was dead, but now I am alive forever and ever! And remember, I will be with you always, even unto the end of the world!
It was very difficult to watch! It was just unthinkable. Notre Dame Cathedral on fire. There was a real concern – would it be totally destroyed? Thank goodness for the heroic firefighters.
Among the heroes was Father Jean-Marc Fournier – he risked his own life to rescue the Crown of Thorns and the Blessed Sacrament. Why?
He said & I quote: “Everyone understands that the Crown of Thorns is an absolutely unique and extraordinary relic, but the Blessed Sacrament is Our Lord, really present in his body, soul, divinity and humanity and you understand that it is hard to see someone you love perish in the blaze. As firefighters we often see casualties from fire and we know its effects; this is why I sought to preserve above all the real presence of Our Lord Jesus Christ.”
One could not even speak of the Eucharist in this way unless – Jesus is Risen.
On this and every Easter we proclaim – the one who was dead now lives – and is still with us here in the Eucharist. How can this be?
What is the Resurrection?
- Some say it is a metaphor – Jesus was still alive in their hearts and minds. He lives on in memory.
- Some – another way to speak of nature after the death of winter, like caterpillars to butterflies and frozen earth to green shoots.
- Some – his legacy lives on. Jesus will live on, just like the writings of Shakespeare on the music of Beethoven.
Nice – but we believe in something more – That he physically rose from the dead – Why? What is the evidence?
1) The Tomb was empty. Where is He? If the authorities took His Body, why not show it? If robbers – why did they leave behind the cloths, the only things of value?
2) He was seen on 11 occasions, once by over 500 people. Some say a hallucination – for 500???
3) The disciples were never the same. They left the Upper Room never to return. All except John would die a violent death – John in exile. Would you give your life for a made-up story?
4) It is still happening! Over 1 Billion Catholics in the world. And the Faith is still being passed on. Paige will be Baptized and Sharon & William received into the church.
So now – each one must make a decision!
Was Jesus crazy or dangerous – or did He speak the Truth?
Is he who he said He is? – the Son of God?
And if He is, and He rose from the dead – what does that mean for my life?
1) Nothing can separate us from God – not sin, not even death!
2) I am called to live in His light – to live His teachings, to be a light to my brothers and sisters!
After Father Fournier found the Blessed Sacrament – he stopped – and blessed the Church with the Eucharist.
He said & I quote - “Here I am completely alone in the nave of the cathedral, in the middle of burning debris falling down from the ceiling. I call upon Jesus to help us save His Home. I did not want to simply leave with Jesus. I took the opportunity to perform a benediction with the Blessed Sacrament”
Why? – Jesus is Risen! He lives and He calls us to follow Him! – May the Risen Christ bless you and your family this Easter!
Monday, April 15, 2019
Friday, April 12, 2019
Saturday, April 6, 2019
Tuesday, April 2, 2019
Sunday, March 24, 2019
A few years back, a little change was introduced on Good Friday. The Cross is carried into church and everyone has the opportunity to reverence it. But first, the priest must remove his shoes. Remove his shoes.
As Moses approaches the burning bush, he hears a voice: Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you stand is Holy Ground. God who would save them from slavery in Egypt is revealed in a burning bush. Now, God will save us from Sin and Death by the Mystery of the Cross. Holy Ground!
Twenty five years ago I was given a crucifix by my Pastor, Msgr. Paul Andrews. It says: “Why should you want anything else? I never did!” “This is where you learn everything!”
I recently finished a book by Kate Bowler – a professor at Duke University – “Everything Happens For a Reason & Other Lies I’ve Loved”
She has spent much time studying the “Prosperity Gospel.” Great spokespeople include Joel Osteen & Oprah Winfrey.
God grants health and wealth to those with the right kind of faith.
If you have positive thoughts, you will have positive circumstances
If you have negative thoughts, you will have negative circumstances
Prayer, then, is a way to get God to say yes to you. Follow the rules and God will reward you. “I am Blessed.”
For many years – Kate believed this. Then she was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. What happened? She did not have enough faith? She did not believe? Did not pray the right prayers? She did something wrong – well no – sometimes, bad things happen.
Maybe my dad – who went to daily Mass – and was very sick at the end of his life – did not believe enough. Or my sister - who is now in cancer remission, and never misses Mass, somehow deserves what she is going through?
Nonsense, of course -
Having faith does not mean that bad things will not happen. Our bodies are delicate. Life is fragile. Things do happen.
As Kate explains it – a reminder that life is precious – a gift to be lived each moment!
I would say – it is the mystery of the cross. We all share in the cross. And, at the core of the mystery - where there is death, there can also be life!
You see - We are standing on Holy Ground – and by sharing in the Cross this Lent – by our sacrifices of Prayer, Fasting and Charity - we can transform our lives and the lives of others - Why should you want anything else, I never did? This is where you learn everything!
Friday, March 15, 2019
How does a worm get inside an apple? Dig’s it’s way in? No, the insect lays an egg on the apple blossom. Sometime later, the worm hatches in the heart of the apple, then eats its way out. It begins on the inside.
Shakespeare wrote in “Julius Caesar” “the fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars but in ourselves.” Left unattended it can destroy us – break homes – shatter hearts – ruin bodies – all because we have failed to recognize sin.
The First Sunday of Lent, we always hear about the temptations of Jesus in the desert. In some way, we also face the same temptations:
1) Temptation Not to Fast
We have all been there. I looked in the cupboard on Thursday and there they were potato chips. Didn’t we clean all the junk food out? Where did that come from? We may have given up alcohol, social media, our favorite food. But Lent is long, and maybe we are having a stressful day. Well, what’s the point, giving up such a small thing? It really doesn’t matter. Have just one – just an hour – just a day – just a week.
Why should we fight it?
It is important to fast – so we will not be slaves to our appetites – we must be able to control ourselves.
We also fast to remind ourselves who our real master is – and where real happiness lies! Jesus said – “One does not live on bread alone.” Like happiness my brothers dog Yogi got when he discovered a big bag of food and no one around. Best happiness is uniting ourselves with God!
2) Temptation Not to Pray
The devil shows Jesus all the kingdoms of the world – they are yours, just do not worship God. The devil does not have to go so far with us. Just show us our smartphone. Or maybe this project must be done, or this game must be played on Sunday morning. Or, there is a new series on Netflix that I must binge watch.
Jesus said: “You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him alone shall you serve.” – not our curiosity, busyness or our laziness. Only way to serve – Life up our hearts and minds to God – pray!
3) Temptation Not to Give Alms - presume God will take care of everything
Devil takes Jesus up to the top of the Temple – throw yourself down – God will save you. “Do not put the Lord your God to the test!”
He refuses to fall into presumption. It’s like I sin and tell myself – I can go to confession. Of course, we can – but we take advantage of His mercy and use God.
We are also asked to do our part. God will do it, the government will do it, my parents will do it – what about me? Love in action means being of service to others, not being served. Remember Jesus at Last Supper – knelt and washed their feet. As I have done you also must do!
The real Temptation this Lent is to go through the motions. The word is near to us, waiting for us to reach out so that he can transform us! This is the time – do not wait!!!
Thank you Laura for including Father Connolly and I in Rich’s last days.
We always loved seeing Rich – Just a month ago he was sitting next to me at Parish Council – not knowing it was his last Council meeting.
Interesting phenomena on Ash Wednesday – local church was doing drive through ashes – imagine – not even time to get out of your car and say a prayer. Take and go, it costs you nothing.
Rich was the opposite – how can I give? Helping us figure out how to grow the parish at Parish Council. With us at Mass. Picture him at the Parish Picnics – at our God Squad Picnics – at the Knights of Columbus –
Despite all his challenges he could usually be found at St. Joseph’s Men’s group at 7am Saturday mornings. It was a comfort to see him. He had a powerful presence – a deep, faith filled man.
So, Laura let Father Connolly know Rich was back in the hospital – little did we know it was the last time. Father Connolly heard his last Confession, last Anointing.
On Sunday, he received his Last Communion – Viaticum – Food for the Journey.
I sat down with him – how are you doing Rich – he said how are you doing? How’s that foot? Wasn’t he something?
Told him I loved him – that he was a good, good man – and I thanked him for all he was and all he did.
He was surrounded by his family – his beautiful family – mom & dad and all the rest. Still joking with you – hey – guess what I’m giving up for Lent? Cancer! You should have done that last year! If only he could.
Pancreatic cancer in the news – Alex Trebek – my mother’s favorite show – recited statistics – 9% survival after 5 years. Pray end to cancer – maybe a young person here will find a cure?
Rich had long Lent – fought for 2 ½ years – he loved Laura and his girls, and he wanted to live with all his heart.
Monday came and the fight was over – now we stood at the foot of the cross – the cross he carried without ever a complaint - standing by his side until the end.
At the moment of Jesus death – centurion cried out – surely this was the son of God.
Rich’s mom took on the role of the centurion and reminded us – I am not saying this because I am his mother, but my son is a saint.
Isn’t that the purpose of life – not to have the most money, power or influence – but to become a saint?
Those who knew Rich could say – he had 1 foot here on earth – and the other foot in heaven. And what poured out from him always was love.
So that is my prayer today – that we might love as God has loved us – who gave his only Son for us.
That we might love as Rich taught us to love.
That God’s love might be poured into the hearts of Laura, Kyra, Kate, Julia and Jena and all the Scampoli’s – and fill your empty spaces with the deepest and most powerful love.
Thank you, Lord, for the gift of Rich - and Rich, until we meet again, have peace!
Thursday, March 7, 2019
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered for the repose of the soul of Rich Scampoli on Friday, March 8 at 10:00 a.m. Rich is the President of our Parish Council. Please pray for Rich and his family, especially his 4 young children.
Friday, March 1, 2019
Monday, February 25, 2019
HOLY SEE PRESS OFFICE 23 February 2019 PREPARED TEXT WORKING TRANSLATION Communication: for all people Valentina Alazraki Introduction First and foremost I would like to introduce myself. I am a correspondent in Rome and in the Vatican for Televisa, Mexican television. I followed the end of the Pontificate of St. Pope Paul VI, the 33 days of the Pontificate of John Paul I, the entire Pontificates of St. John Paul II, Benedict XVI and now Pope Francis. I have covered 150 journeys with the latter three Popes. They invited me to speak to you about communication and, in particular, about how transparent communication is indispensable to fight the sexual abuse of minors by men of the Church. At first glance, there is little in common between you, bishops and cardinals, and me, a Catholic lay woman with no particular position in the Church, and moreover a journalist. Yet we share something very powerful: we all have a mother; we are here because a woman gave birth to us. Compared to you, perhaps I have an additional privilege: I am a mother first and foremost. Therefore I do not feel that I am a representative just of journalists, but also of mothers, families, civil society. I would like to share with you my experiences and my life and — if you will allow me — to add some practical advice. HOLY SEE PRESS OFFICE 2 My point of departure, motherhood I would like to begin precisely with motherhood in order to develop the topic entrusted to me, which is to say: how the Church should communicate about this topic of abuse. I doubt that anyone in this hall does not think the Church is, first of all, mother. Many of us present here have or have had a brother or sister. Let us also remember that our mothers, while loving us all in the same way, were especially devoted to the frailest, weakest children, to those who perhaps did not know how to move ahead in life on their own feet and needed a little push. For a mother there are no first or second-class children; there are stronger children and more vulnerable ones. Nor are there first and second-class children for the Church. Her seemingly more important children, as are you, bishops and cardinals (I dare not say the Pope), are no more so than any other boy, girl or young person who has experienced the tragedy of being the victim of abuse by a priest. What is the Church’s mission? To preach the Gospel. But to do so she needs a moral guide; coherence between what one preaches and what one lives is the basis of being a credible institution, worthy of trust and respect. For this reason, in facing criminal conduct such as the abuse of minors, do you think that to be true to herself, an institution like the Church can have another way if not that of reporting this crime? That she can have another way if not that of being on the side of the victim and not that of the oppressor? Who is the weakest, most vulnerable child? The priest who abused, the bishop who abused and covered up, or the victim? You may be certain that for journalists, mothers, families and the entire society, the abuse of minors is one of the main causes of anguish. The abuse of HOLY SEE PRESS OFFICE 3 minors, the devastation of their lives, of their families’ lives, worry us. We believe such abuse is one of the most reprehensible crimes. Ask yourselves: are you enemies, as determined as we are, of those who commit abuse or who cover them up? We have decided which side to be on. Have you done so truly, or in word alone? Allies or enemies If you are against those who commit or cover up abuse, then we are on the same side. We can be allies, not enemies. We will help you to find the rotten apples and to overcome resistance in order to separate them from the healthy ones. But if you do not decide in a radical way to be on the side of the children, mothers, families, civil society, you are right to be afraid of us, because we journalists, who seek the common good, will be your worst enemies. I have been covering the Vatican for almost 45 years. Five different pontificates, extremely important for the life of the Church and of the world, with lights and shadows. In these four decades I have really seen it all. How many times have I heard that the scandal of abuse is “the press’ fault, that it is a plot by certain media outlets to discredit the Church, that there are hidden powers backing it in order to put an end to this institution”. We journalists know that there are reporters who are more thorough than others, and that there are media outlets more or less dependent on political, ideological or economic interests. But I believe that in no case can the mass media be blamed for having uncovered or reported on the abuse. Abuses against minors are neither rumours nor gossip: they are crimes. I remember Pope Benedict XVI’s words during the flight to Lisbon, when he told us that the greatest persecution of the Church comes not from external enemies but arises from sins within her. HOLY SEE PRESS OFFICE 4 I would like you to leave this hall with the conviction that we journalist are neither those who abuse nor those who cover up. Our mission is to assert and defend a right, which is a right to information based on truth in order to obtain justice. We journalists know that abuse is not limited to the Catholic Church, but you must understand that we have to be more rigorous with you than with others, by virtue of your moral role. Stealing, for example, is wrong, but if the one stealing is a police officer it seems more serious to us, because it is the opposite of what he or she should do, which is to protect the community from thieves. If doctors or nurses poison their patients rather than take care of them, the act draws even more of our attention because it goes against their ethics, their professional code. Lack of communication, another abuse As a journalist, as a woman and mother, I would like to tell you that we think abusing a minor is as contemptible as is covering up the abuse. And you know better than I that abuses have been covered up systematically, from the ground up. I think you should be aware that the more you cover up, the more you play ostrich, fail to inform the mass media and thus, the faithful and public opinion, the greater the scandal will be. If someone has a tumour, it is not cured by hiding it from one’s family or friends; silence will not make it heal; in the end it will be the most highly recommended treatments that will prevent metastasis and lead to healing. Communicating is a fundamental duty because, if you fail to do so you automatically become complicit with the abusers. By not providing the information that could prevent these people from committing further abuse, you are not giving the children, young people and their families the tools to defend themselves against new crimes. The faithful do not forgive the lack of transparency, because it is a new assault on the victims. Those who fail to inform encourage a climate of suspicion and incite anger and hatred against the institution. HOLY SEE PRESS OFFICE 5 I saw it with my own eyes during Pope Francis’ journey to Chile in 2108. There was no indifference: there was indignation and anger for the systematic concealment, for the silence, for the deception of the faithful and the suffering of victims who, for decades, had not been listened to, were not believed. Victims have first and foremost the right to know what has happened, what you have done in order to distance and punish those who have committed abuse. Even if the guilty party is dead, the victim’s pain is not extinguished. Although the guilty party can no longer be punished, at least the victim, who perhaps has lived many years with that hidden wound, can be consoled. Additionally, other victims who remain in silence will dare to come out, and you will promote their healing and their consolation. Take the initiative In Spanish we say that he who strikes first, lands three strikes. Obviously, it is not a matter of striking but of informing. I think it would be healthier, more positive and more helpful if the Church were the first to provide information, in a proactive and not reactive way, as normally happens. You should not wait to respond to legitimate questions from the press (or from the people, your people) when a journalistic investigation uncovers a case. In the age we live in, it is very difficult to hide a secret. With the prominence of social networks, the ease of posting photos, audio and video, and the rapid social and cultural changes, the Church has only one path: to concentrate on awareness and transparency, which go hand in hand. Report things when you know them. Of course, it will not be pleasant, but it is the only way, if you want us to believe you when you say “from now on we will no longer tolerate cover-ups”. The first to benefit from transparency is the institution, because the focus is on the guilty party. HOLY SEE PRESS OFFICE 6 Learn from past mistakes I am Mexican and cannot fail to mention perhaps the most terrible case that happened in the Church, that of Marcial Maciel, the Mexican founder of the Legion of Christ. I witnessed this grim case from beginning to end. Aside from the moral justice over the crimes committed by that man, who according to some was mentally ill and to others an evil genius, I assure you that at the basis of that scandal, which did so much harm to thousands of people, to the point of tarnishing the memory of one who is now a saint, there was unhealthy communication. One need not forget that in the Legion there was a fourth vow according to which if a Legionaries saw something he was uncertain of regarding a superior, he could neither criticize much less comment about it. Without this censure, without this total concealment, had there been transparency, Marcial Maciel would not have been able, for decades, to abuse seminarians and to have three or four lives, wives and children, who came to accuse him of having abused his own children. For me this is the most emblematic case of unhealthy, corrupt communication, from which various lessons can and must be learned. Pope Francis told the Curia that in other eras, in addressing these subjects, there was ignorance, lack of preparation, and disbelief. I dare say that there was also corruption. Behind the silence, the lack of healthy, transparent communication, quite often there is not only the fear of scandal, concern for the institution’s good name, but also money, compensation, gifts, construction permits for schools and universities perhaps in areas where construction was not permitted. I am speaking of what I have seen and thoroughly investigated. Pope Francis always reminds us that the devil enters through the pockets, and he is absolutely right. Transparency will help you to fight economic corruption. HOLY SEE PRESS OFFICE 7 In processing internal information, from the ground up, we have learned even from various nuncios, and I can testify to this, that there have been cases of coverup, obstacles barring access to the Pope of the time, underestimating the gravity of the information or discrediting it, as if it were the fruit of obsessions or fantasies. Transparency will also help you to fight corruption in the government. It was also thanks to some courageous victims, several courageous journalists and, I think I must say it, to a courageous Pope like Benedict XVI, that this scandal was made public and the tumour eradicated. It is extremely important to learn the lesson and not to repeat the same mistake. Transparency will help you to be coherent with the Gospel message and to put into practice the principle according to which in the Church no one is above the law: we are all accountable to God and to others. Avoid secrecy, embrace transparency Secrecy, in the sense of an excessive tendency toward secrecy, is strictly tied to the abuse of power: it is like a safety net for those who abuse power. Today our societies have adopted transparency as a general rule, and the public believes that the only reason not to be transparent is the desire to conceal something negative or corrupt. My sensation is that within the Church there is still more resistance to recognizing that the problem of abuse exists and it is imperative to address it with all the instruments possible. Some believe that it happens only in certain countries. I believe we can speak of a generalized situation, to a greater or lesser extent, which in any case must be dealt with and resolved. Those who hide something are not necessarily corrupt, but all corrupt people are hiding something. Not all those who keep secrets are committing an abuse of power, but all those who abuse power are generally hiding things. Of course, transparency has its limitations. HOLY SEE PRESS OFFICE 8 For this reason, we do not expect you to inform us of just any accusation against a priest. We understand that there can and must be a prior investigation, but do so quickly, comply with the laws of the country you live in, and if envisaged, present the case to the civil justice system. If the accusation is shown to be credible, you must provide information about the ongoing processes, about what you are doing; you must say that you have removed the guilty party from his parish or from where he was practicing; you must report it yourselves, both in the dioceses and in the Vatican. At times, the Bulletin of the Holy See Press Office provides information about a resignation without explaining the reasons. There are priests who have gone immediately to inform the faithful that they were ill and not that they were leaving because they had committed abuse. I think that the news about the resignation of a priest who has committed abuse should be released with clarity, in an explicit way. In Camera Caritatis, silence on these topics is permissible only if it injures no one, but never when it can do harm. Three practical tips for living transparency I have already told you that I think communication is indispensable to resolving this problem. Now allow me to suggest three ways for you to put transparency into practice at the moment of communicating about the sexual abuse of minors. 1) Put the victims in first place If the Church wants to learn how to communicate about abuse, her first point of reference must be the victim. Pope Francis has asked the participants in this meeting to meet the victims, to listen to them and to be available to them before coming to Rome. I will not ask you to raise your hand to see who has done so, but answer silently to yourselves. HOLY SEE PRESS OFFICE 9 Victims are not just numbers; they are not statistics. They are people whose lives, sexuality, emotions, trust in other human beings, perhaps even God, as well as the ability to love have been ruined. And why is this important? Because it is difficult to inform and communicate something about which we have no direct knowledge. In the case of abuse it is even more obvious. We cannot speak about this subject if we have not listened to the victims, if we have not shared their pain, if we have not touched by hand the wounds that abuse has caused not only in their bodies but also in their minds, in their hearts, in their faith. If you meet them, they will have a name; they will have a face, and the experience you have with them will be reflected not only in the way in which you confront the issue, but also in the way in which you communicate and resolve it. The Pope has told us that he meets them regularly, at Santa Marta, that he considers them a of his priority. You should do the same; I do not believe you have less time than the Pope. Remember, transparency is showing what you do. Only if you put the victims in first place will you be credible when you say you have decided to eradicate the scourge of abuse. 2) Allow yourselves to seek advice The second thing is to let yourselves seek advice. Before making decisions, seek advice from people with sound judgment who can help you. There should always be communicators among these advisors. I think the Church should have, at all levels, communications experts, and should heed them when they tell her that it is always better to inform than to keep silent or even lie. It is an illusion to think that a scandal can be hidden today. It is like covering the sky with a finger. It cannot be done. It is no longer acceptable nor permissible. Thus, HOLY SEE PRESS OFFICE 10 all of you must understand that silence is far more costly than facing reality and making it public. I think it is essential that you invest in communications in all your ecclesiastical structures, with highly qualified and experienced individuals in order to address the demands for transparency in today’s world. The figure of the spokesperson is fundamental. Not only must it be a highly trained individual, but he or she must also be able to rely on the full trust of the bishop and have direct access to him 24 hours a day. This is not a 9 to 5 job. Everything can happen at any moment, and at any moment there can be a need to react, although, I repeat, it would be better if you were the first to provide the news. We journalists prefer to speak directly with the boss. But we accept speaking with a spokesperson, if we know that he or she has access to the boss and passes on what the boss, fully apprised, is thinking. 3) ‘Professionalize’ your communications In the third place, you must communicate better. What kind of transparency do journalists, mothers, families, the faithful, public opinion expect from an institution such as the Church? I think it is fundamental that, at every level, from the parish up to here, in the Vatican, there be structures perhaps standardized but very agile and flexible, that quickly offer accurate information. It may be incomplete for lack of a deeper investigation, but the response cannot be silence or ‘no comment’, because then we will seek answers by asking others, and thus it will be third parties informing people in the way they wish to do so. If you do not have available all the necessary information, if there are doubts, if there is already an investigation, it is better to explain it in the best way possible so as not to give the impression that you do not want to respond because you are hiding something. It is important to follow up on the information at all times and it HOLY SEE PRESS OFFICE 11 is especially important to react quickly. If information is not given in a timely manner, the response is no longer of interest; it will be too late and others will do so, perhaps incorrectly. The risk is high and the price of this kind of conduct is even higher. Silence gives the impression that the accusations — be they true or false, partly true and partly false — are totally true and that there is fear of giving a response that can be immediately contradicted. I have seen with my own eyes how bad information, or inadequate information, has caused tremendous damage, harmed the victims and their families, not allowed justice to be served, caused the faith of many people to waver. I assure you that investing in communications is a very profitable matter, and is not a short-term investment; it is a long-term investment. Conclusion I would like to conclude this speech by mentioning a different topic than that of the abuse of minors, but important for a woman journalist such as myself. We are at the threshold of another scandal, that of nuns and women religious as victims of sexual abuse by priests and bishops. L’Osservatore Romano’s women’s magazine has reported it and, during the return flight from Abu Dhabi, Pope Francis acknowledged that work has been underway on this subject for some time, that it is true that more needs to be done, and that there is a will to do more. I would like that on this occasion the Church play offense and not defense, as has happened in the case of the abuse of minors. It could be a great opportunity for the Church to take the initiative and be on the forefront of denouncing these abuses, which are not only sexual but also abuses of power. As I take my leave I thank Pope Francis for having expressed his gratitude, before the Curia last December, for the work of journalists, who have been honest and objective in uncovering predatory priests and have made victims’ voices heard. HOLY SEE PRESS OFFICE 12 I hope that after this meeting you will return home and not avoid us, but instead seek us out. That you will return to your dioceses thinking that we are not vicious wolves, but, on the contrary, that we can join our forces against the real wolves. Thank you.
Couple of nights ago, walking across Times Square – on my way to see musical “Come From Away” - when I heard them.
I stood listening for a few minutes – I realized – it’s them – Black Hebrew Israelites – same group that gave the kids from Covington HS such a hard time. They claim to be the true Israelites. Although they speak of Jesus – they deny the Trinity and the divinity of Jesus – in a word – they preach hate.
When the Covington story first broke – I like many of you – watched the video on You Tube. Little did we know that there was much more video to come.
But apart from any right or wrong - the comments – the hate, the cruelty – calling everyone to destroy this kid – who turned out to be 17! Then someone published his address – the email of his parents – his school – get him!
The way of the internet - we disagree with someone – we jump on line – we create rage – and we attack.
The internet breeds this – and it is carried over into our culture.
What has happened to us?
And yet we are capable of so much more!
I was hesitant about the show “Come From Away.” I mean a musical about 9/11? I had a college classmate die – Firefighter Frankie Palumbo father of 10 – parishioners die – Lieut. John Ginley, Chief John Williamson
But it’s the story about the planes - when all planes were told to land – immediately. 38 International planes landed in Gander, Newfoundland, population 7,000. The “plane people” numbered 7,000. Where were they, what was happening? And, so many different languages!
The people of Gander and surrounding communities – jumped into action – prepared food – set up shelters – brought them home – it is a great story – the triumph of good over evil.
We are capable of so much good!
Now remember this Gospel passage?
A woman was brought before Jesus caught in the act of adultery – stone her! Bury her in hate!
Master, what should we do? Wrote on the ground – will not cooperate – What did he write? All their sins? - Let the one among you without sin be the first to cast a stone – where are your accusers? – They accused her – another word for Satan – the Accuser. No one left to condemn you? – neither do it – go now and avoid this sin.
It’s called the test of love: willing the good of the other. Don’t have to like – but love! Before we write that comment, before we say something: do we wish to accomplish something good? Are we trying to move the person to a better space?
Now we know why he said – love your enemies – do good to those who hate you – turn the other cheek!
We as Church called to bring about the Kingdom of God!
And, as hard as it is, love is the only way!
Tuesday, February 19, 2019
Sunday, February 17, 2019
Popular series on Netflix – Marie Kondo – “Tidying Up.” Marie has written 4 books selling millions of copies. People have too much stuff and she helps them get rid of thing using her Con-Mari Method: keep only those things that bring joy.
So much stuff! We have become buried in stuff!
What are we full of?
Some say worries. So many things to worry about. And yet we have an amazing standard of living compared to generations before. Jesus said: “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to their life?” Accept that thing will not always go as we plan and let go!
Some say responsibilities. Things to do, places to go, jobs to complete, money to make and families to raise. My sister Susan says – feel the Pressure?! How about try stopping and living! Jesus said – “Come to an out of the way place and rest a little.” This is why Sunday is called a day of rest. Slow down, spend time with family and friends – so to remember WHY we exist – why we are here. Even God rested!
Some would say we are full of ourselves – our needs – our feelings and desires. Think about how magazines have evolved: LIFE – LOOK – PEOPLE – US – SELF – all about me.
Jesus said – “If anyone would come after me, let them deny themselves, take up their cross daily, and follow me.”
Bishop Barron always says – It’s Not About You.” And he is right! Life is a gift from God – with purpose and meaning!
What has happened? Four years ago, Harvard University welcomed its freshman class – for the first time – atheists and agnostics outnumbered professed Christians and Jews.
Two weeks ago, it was signed into law in New York that babies have no protection until AFTER a WANTED birth. These two things are not unrelated.
If there is no God – then our lives do belong to us, and we can do with them what we want. If there is no God, life has no ultimate purpose or meaning. We can choose the meaning or purpose. And when things do not go the way we want, then end the life.
Woody Harrelson said not long ago: “I’ve been nursing an emptiness far too long. I made a huge mistake turning my back on religion, because I lost my soul in the process. Now, I am beginning to find a bright new reason for being.”
A man was speaking to a monk – I need spiritual advice. Here, have a drink of water. He took a pitcher and began to pour – and the glass was filled – then it began to overflow – but he kept pouring – hey, what are you doing? Teaching you a lesson. You want spiritual advice, but you are already full. There is no room for anything else. You need to empty yourself to make room for God.
That’s Why – blessed are you poor – the hungry – weeping – because, you have made room for God!
Friday, February 15, 2019
Sunday, February 10, 2019
Put out into deep water.
Master, we have been hard at it all night and caught nothing, but at your command, I will lower the nets.
The nets began to tear, and the boats were in danger of sinking.
Peter says – leave me Lord, I am a sinful man.
Who is this man Jesus? Great Question!
A miracle worker? – wise teacher? – prophet? – holy man? – good man? Perhaps all of these, but is there something more? He identified himself as one with God, the Son of God. Could it be true?
Certainly, most people agree that Jesus was an historical figure:
He existed - he lived – he taught – he died on a cross.
But the core Jesus question is Resurrection – did he rise from the dead? If he did – it changes everything – if he did not – what’s the point of this Church? Why do we bother having funeral Masses – if death is the end? Or, did he conquer death?
Proofs for Resurrection – worth learning
Empty Tomb – the tomb was empty. There were all sorts of explanations –
The authorities took his body. Well, why did they not produce it to prove it was all a lie?
Robbers took it – but why and leave behind the only things worth something – his burial clothes.
Disciples took it – but how did they do this in face of the Roman guards assigned by Pilate?
Bible recounts 11 times. St. Paul says this: first Cephas – Twelve – 500 brothers – James – all the apostles – lastly to me – on the road, the great persecutor of the early Christians – arresting and putting then to death.
Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting ME? How can this be? Did he hallucinate this? – 500 at once? Did they hallucinate? – impossible.
Transformed – Saul became Paul – great preacher of the good news – 11 were hiding in the Upper Room but now telling people Jesus is Alive! 10 out of 11 became martyrs – gave up their lives – for a made-up story???
Good news spread – even to Hopewell Junction. Jesus still impacting lives – 1 Billion Catholics – 2.4 Billion Christians.
Our faith is not a series of doctrines or teachings – but it is a person – Jesus, who broke the power of death and opened the way to eternal life for all of us. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life!
When I figured this out – as I struggled with the idea of being a priest - my reaction was much like Isaiah – Paul – Peter – leave me Lord, I am a sinful man – you want to use me? – yes – so OK here I am send me! Put out into deep water, and you will never be the same!
Tuesday, February 5, 2019
February 3, 2019 Feast of St. Blaise Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
My Dear People of the Archdiocese:
Rarely do I intrude on your Sunday Mass, our most sacred time of the week, but in light of the events of the past two weeks, our priests have asked me to share some reflections on the radical abortion expansion bill, recently passed by our state legislature and signed with fanfare and celebration by our governor.
This chilling law, if you have not heard, insists on the right to an abortion up to the moment of birth; drops all charges against an abortionist who allows an aborted baby, who somehow survived the scissors, scalpel, saline, and dismemberment, to die; mandates that, to make an abortion more convenient and easy, a physician need not perform it; and could be used to suppress the conscience rights of healthcare professionals not to assist in the grisly procedure. All this in a state which already had the most permissive abortion climate, and one of the highest rates of abortion, in the nation.
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you.” Can there be any clearer statement of God’s eternal love for each one of us from the womb to the tomb, than these words from the prophet Jeremiah in today’s first reading?
In the “throw-away” culture that Pope Francis so often decries, we saw actual celebrations at the passage of a bill that makes it even easier to dispose of a life that someone might find inconvenient or troublesome, for any reason at all. Those who told us that abortion had to remain safe, legal, and rare, now have made it dangerous, imposed, and frequent.
We also had to watch and listen as our governor proudly proclaimed his dissent from this and other clear Church teaching, as if it were a badge of honor, and used an out-of-context quote from Pope Francis as an applause line.
I’m a pastor, not a politician, and as a pastor, I am obliged to challenge our political leaders, to urge them to re-examine their priorities, and to respect and protect the unborn baby in the womb as strongly and passionately as we should the undocumented immigrant, the single mom worrying how she will feed her family, our dying grandparents, or the poor struggling to make it.
At the same time, we can recall the words of Saint Paul in his moving letter to the Corinthians, from today’s Bible readings, “Love is patient, love is kind…It is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury. It does not rejoice over wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.” No matter the hurt, frustration, the disappointment, and yes, even the anger we may feel now at the passage of this horrific and grisly bill, we should not respond with more bitterness and divisiveness, but continue to put our trust in the Lord and ask for his guidance and inspiration.
Thank God we have the promise of Jesus that “not even the gates of hell will prevail.”
With gratitude for your attention, and promising my prayers as I ask for yours, I am,
Faithfully in Christ,
+Timothy Michael Cardinal Dolan Archbishop of New York
Sunday, February 3, 2019
Thursday was Jackie Robinson Day in Brooklyn. He was born 100 years ago on Thursday. Born in Georgia, he was raised in California. He was a great athlete -basketball, football, baseball. He hoped to play major league baseball – but he could not, because of the color of his skin. Can you imagine? He ended up playing for the KC Monarchs of the old Negro Leagues.
The President of the Brooklyn Dodgers was Branch Rickey, a man of deep Christian faith. He said “There was something wrong at the heart of the game I loved – and I ignored it. But I can no longer do that.” He heard that Jackie was also a man of deep faith and inner strength & he asked to meet him.
Do you want to play for the Dodgers? You must be strong. But - you must be strong enough NOT to fight back. They will call you every name in the book, try to hurt you – but you must live out the Sermon on the Mount – turn the other cheek.” Mr. Rickey, I have 2 cheeks.”
April 15, 1947 played his first game. It was terrible how he was treated – remember – love your enemies. Dorothy Day would say – love is a harsh and dreadful thing in action compared to love in dreams.
A turning point – that May - first game in Cincinnati – yelling terrible things – a man from the south SS Pee Wee Reese came over and put his arm around Jackie – I want everyone to see who I really am – maybe one day we will all wear 42 so no one can tell us apart. On April 15 – once again everyone in baseball will wear 42.
Because of Jackie, the color barrier in baseball was destroyed forever.
St. Paul writes . . . love is patient, love is kind, is not jealous . . .
What love is this? Greeks knew one word cannot contain all meanings:
Eros – attraction – like I love pizza or car
Storge – family – special relationship with my brother and sisters
Philia – friendship – that grows over the years
Agape – self emptying – Aquinas – willing the good of the other as other. It’s not about me – it is about you! JESUS!
That’s why: love must be patient & kind. Love must not be jealous or rude. It does not seek self-interest, is not quick tempered.
Believes all – faith in God and faith in humanity.
Hopes all – even when there is evil, goodness will triumph.
Endures all – even when there seems to be no hope left – does not return evil for evil.
This is telling us what God is like – that God is love, and if we want to become like God, we must love as God loves.
Jackie was one of the best people of our time “A life is not important except for the impact it has on other lives” In the end remain only faith, hope and love, and the greatest of these is love!