Sunday, December 27, 2009

Homily for Feast of the Holy Family

A few comments about following God's will and being open to children :)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

New letter from Bishops to Senate on Healthcare

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
3211 FOURTH STREET NE • WASHINGTON DC 20017-1194 • 202-541-3000
WEBSITE: WWW.USCCB.ORG/healthcare • FAX 202-541-3339

December 22, 2009

United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator:

On behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), we strongly urge the Senate not to move its current health care reform bill forward without incorporating essential changes to ensure that needed health care reform legislation truly protects the life, dignity, consciences and health of all.

The Catholic bishops of the United States have long supported adequate and affordable health care for all, and insisted that providing health care that clearly reflects these fundamental principles is a public good, moral imperative and urgent national priority. In our letter of November 20 we urged the Senate to act as the House has in the following respects:

• keep in place current federal law on abortion funding and conscience protections on abortion;

• protect the access to health care that immigrants currently have and remove current barriers to access; and

• include strong provisions for adequate affordability and coverage standards.

Disappointingly, the legislative proposal now advancing to final approval in the Senate does not meet these moral criteria. Specifically, it violates the longstanding federal policy against the use of federal funds for elective abortions and health plans that include such abortions -- a policy upheld in all health programs covered by the Hyde Amendment as well as in the Children’s Health Insurance Program, the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program -- and now in the House-passed “Affordable Health Care for America Act.” We believe legislation that fails to comply with this policy and precedent is not true health care reform and should be opposed until this fundamental problem is remedied.

Protecting Human Life and Conscience
Despite claims to the contrary, the House-passed provision on abortion keeps in place the longstanding and widely supported federal policy against government funding of elective abortions and plans that include elective abortions. It does not restrict abortion, or prevent people from buying insurance covering abortion with their own funds. It simply ensures that where federal funds are involved, people are not required to pay for other people’s abortions. The public consensus on this point is borne out by many opinion surveys, including the new Quinnipiac University survey of December 22 showing 72 percent opposed to public funding of abortion in health care reform legislation.

The abortion provisions in the Manager’s Amendment to the Senate bill do not maintain this commitment to the legal status quo on abortion funding. Federal funds will help subsidize, and in some cases a federal agency will facilitate and promote, health plans that cover elective abortions. All purchasers of such plans will be required to pay for other people’s abortions in a very direct and explicit way, through a separate premium payment designed solely to pay for abortion. There is no provision for individuals to opt out of this abortion payment in federally subsidized plans, so people will be required by law to pay for other people’s abortions. States may opt out of this system only by passing legislation to prohibit abortion coverage. In this way the longstanding and current federal policy universally reflected in all federal health programs, including the program for providing health coverage to Senators and other federal employees, will be reversed. That policy will only prevail in states that take the initiative of passing their own legislation to maintain it.

This bill also continues to fall short of the House-passed bill in preventing governmental discrimination against health care providers that decline involvement in abortion (Sec. 259 of H.R. 3962), and includes no conscience protection allowing Catholic and other institutions to provide and purchase health coverage consistent with their moral and religious convictions on other procedures.

Immigrants and Health Care Coverage
We support the inclusion of all immigrants, regardless of status, in the insurance exchange. The Senate bill forbids undocumented immigrants from purchasing health care coverage in the exchange. Undocumented immigrants should not be barred from purchasing a health insurance plan with their own money. Without such access, many immigrant families would be unable to receive primary care and be compelled to rely on emergency room care. This would harm not only immigrants and their families, but also the general public health. Moreover, the financial burden on the American public would be higher, as Americans would pay for uncompensated medical care through the federal budget or higher insurance rates.

We also support the removal of the five-year ban on legal immigrants accessing federal health benefit programs, such as Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and Medicare. An amendment authored by Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), which would give states the option to remove this ban, should be included in the bill.

Accessible and Affordable Health Care
The Catholic bishops have advocated for decades for affordable and accessible health care for all, especially the poor and marginalized. The Senate bill makes great progress in covering people in our nation. However, the Senate bill would still leave over 23 million people in our nation without health insurance. This falls far short of what is needed in both policy and moral dimensions.

The bishops support expanding Medicaid eligibility minimally for people living at 133 percent or lower of the federal poverty level. The bill does not burden states with excessive Medicaid matching rates. The affordability credits will help lower-income families purchase insurance coverage through the Health Insurance Exchange. However, the Senate bill would still leave low-income families earning between 133 and 250 percent of the federal poverty level financially vulnerable to health care costs, while it does provide more adequate subsidies for households 250 percent over the federal poverty level. Overall, the average subsidy provided for in the Senate bill is $1,300 less than the average subsidy in the House bill. We urge that the best elements of both bills be included.

For many months, our bishops’ conference has worked with members of Congress, the Administration and others to fashion health care reform legislation that truly protects the life, dignity, health and consciences of all. Our message has been clear and consistent throughout.

We regret to say that in all the areas of our moral concern, the Senate health care reform bill is deficient. On the issue of respect for unborn human life, the bill not only falls short of the House’s standard but violates longstanding precedent in all other federal health programs.

Therefore we believe the Senate should not move this bill forward at this time but continue to discuss and approve changes that could make it morally acceptable. Until these fundamental flaws are remedied the bill should be opposed.

Regardless of the outcome in the Senate, we will work vigorously to incorporate into the final legislation our priorities for upholding conscience rights and longstanding current prohibitions on abortion funding; ensuring affordability and access; and including immigrants. We hope and pray that the Congress and the country will come together around genuine reform.


Bishop William F. Murphy
Diocese of Rockville Centre
Committee on Domestic
Justice and Human

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo
Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston
Committee on Pro-life Activities

Bishop John Wester
Diocese of Salt Lake City
Committee on Migration

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Homily for December 20, 2009

Those who have followed my blog for a while may find this homily sounds familiar. I used a large part of my homily from last Feb as the basis for today's homily

Here is the text for those who can't listen

The following story is quoted from the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission

As Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces in World War II, General Eisenhower had been given information about the Nazi concentration camp system well before he led the invasion to liberate Western Europe (June, 1944). Reports on the massive genocide inflicted on Jews, Gypsies, political prisoners, homosexuals, dissidents, and other groups by the Schutzstaffel (SS) had been circulated among all the Allied leaders. Very few of the Allied commanders, however, had an accurate conception of what is now known to the world as the Holocaust until their troops began to encounter the death camps as they marched into Western Germany.

On April 4, 1945, elements of the United States Army’s 89th Infantry Division and the 4th Armored Division captured the Ohrdruf concentration camp outside the town of Gotha in south central Germany. Although the Americans didn’t know it at the time, Ohrdruf was one of several sub-camps serving the Buchenwald extermination camp, which was close to the city of Weimar several miles north of Gotha. Ohrdruf was a holding facility for over 11,000 prisoners on their way to the gas chambers and crematoria at Buchenwald. A few days before the Americans arrived to liberate Ohrdruf, the SS guards had assembled all of the inmates who could walk and marched them off to Buchenwald. They left in the sub-camp more than a thousand bodies of prisoners who had died of bullet wounds, starvation, abuse, and disease. The scene was an indescribable horror even to the combat-hardened troops who captured the camp. Bodies were piled throughout the camp. There was evidence everywhere of systematic butchery. Many of the mounds of dead bodies were still smoldering from failed attempts by the departing SS guards to burn them. The stench was horrible.

When General Eisenhower learned about the camp, he immediately arranged to meet Generals Bradley and Patton at Ohrdruf on the morning of April 12th. By that time, Buchenwald itself had been captured. Consequently, Ike decided to extend the group’s visit to include a tour of the Buchenwald extermination camp the next day. Eisenhower also ordered every American soldier in the area who was not on the front lines to visit Ohrdruf and Buchenwald. He wanted them to see for themselves what they were fighting against.

During the camp inspections with his top commanders Eisenhower said that the atrocities were “beyond the American mind to comprehend.” He ordered that every citizen of the town of Gotha personally tour the camp and, after having done so, the mayor and his wife went home and hanged themselves. Later on Ike wrote to Mamie, “I never dreamed that such cruelty, bestiality, and savagery could really exist in this world.” He cabled General Marshall to suggest that he come to Germany and see these camps for himself. He encouraged Marshall to bring Congressmen and journalists with him. It would be many months before the world would know the full scope of the Holocaust — many months before they knew that the Nazi murder apparatus that was being discovered at Buchenwald and dozens of other death camps had slaughtered millions of innocent people.
General Eisenhower understood that many people would be unable to comprehend the full scope of this horror. He also understood that any human deeds that were so utterly evil might eventually be challenged or even denied as being literally unbelievable. For these reasons he ordered that all the civilian news media and military combat camera units be required to visit the camps and record their observations in print, pictures and film. As he explained to General Marshall, “I made the visit deliberately, in order to be in a position to give first-hand evidence of these things if ever, in the future, there develops a tendency to charge these allegations merely to ‘propaganda.’”

His prediction proved correct. When some groups, even today, attempt to deny that the Holocaust ever happened they are must confront the massive official record, including both written evidence and thousands of pictures, that Eisenhower ordered to be assembled when he saw what the Nazis had done.

I bring up this story because it relates to a similar story that is taking place in our country, right now. There is a holocaust in our country that has led to the legal killing of over 45 million persons since Jan 22, 1973. Sadly, it is not a holocaust that we are trying to hide, but many of us fail to take notice of it happening. Those who are promoting the killing post their tally on the internet and in their “professional” journals.

In preparing for this weekend’s homily, I went to the Guttmacher Institute’s web page. They have a page entitled, “Facts on Induced Abortion in the United States”. I’d like to share with you a few of the facts.

• Nearly half of pregnancies among American women are unintended, and four in 10 of these are terminated by abortion. Twenty-two percent of all pregnancies (excluding miscarriages) end in abortion.
• Each year, about two percent of women aged 15-44 have an abortion; 47% of them have had at least one previous abortion.
• Forty-three percent of women obtaining abortions identify themselves as Protestant, and 27% as Catholic

The sad reality about this holocaust in America today is that we have pictures of what is happening. Like many of those in Germany, we know the gruesomeness of the killings, but we try to bury our heads and pretend that they are not taking place. We refuse to look at the pictures because it might require that we step forward and do something about the violence that is taking place. I have copies of the pictures and would really like to pass them around, but it is not something our children should see. I just hope that by not passing these pictures around that I am not helping you in your denial of the reality of abortion in our society.

I have mentioned in the past that 3,000 to 4,000 abortions occur every day. The most recent statistics that I could find, which is 2005, point to approximately 3,300 abortions each day. We have about 6,600 people who die each day. That means that 1/3 of all deaths in our country each day are as a result of abortion.

In today’s gospel, we hear the response of Elizabeth when Mary comes into her presence. “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” Truly, every fruit of the womb should be seen as blessed.

I’d like to share the following from Mother Teresa,

"America needs no words from me to see how your decision in Roe v. Wade has deformed a great nation. The so-called right to abortion has pitted mothers against their children and women against men. It has sown violence and discord at the heart of the most intimate human relationships. It has aggravated the derogation of the father's role in an increasingly fatherless society. It has portrayed the greatest of gifts -- a child -- as a competitor, an intrusion, and an inconvenience. It has nominally accorded mothers unfettered dominion over the independent lives of their physically dependent sons and daughters"
And, in granting this unconscionable power, it has exposed many women to unjust and selfish demands from their husbands or other sexual partners. Human rights are not a privilege conferred by government. They are every human being's entitlement by virtue of his humanity. The right to life does not depend, and must not be declared to be contingent, on the pleasure of anyone else, not even a parent or a sovereign." (Mother Theresa -- "Notable and Quotable," Wall Street Journal, 2/25/94, p. A14)

Most of you are probably aware of the health care debate that is taking place in Washington, even as we speak. Even as it approaches a vote in the senate, the legislation will require Catholics to pay for abortions. From what I hear today, some states could opt out, but in those states who do not our taxpayer money will be subsidizing insurance payments for those wanting abortions. Now, I know, some of you are going to want to challenge me to say I am taking a political stand. In reality I am taking a moral stand in encouraging you to contact our senators and representative. As I’ve said before, as those who vote, we need to hold our elected officials accountable.

I also realize that some of you are wishing I would stop bringing up this topic. There are some who want to bury their heads in the sand so that we can pretend that this is not happening. Perhaps the priests who have served here in the past have tried to keep their homilies focused solely on God’s love and have not presented many challenges as we strive to live out our faith. We can’t ignore our obligations as Catholics to be active in the world to make a change for the good.

I’d like to close with quote from John Paul II.
"America you are beautiful . . . and blessed . . . . The ultimate test of your greatness is the way you treat every human being, but especially the weakest and most defenseless. If you want equal justice for all and true freedom and lasting peace, then America, defend life."

Friday, December 18, 2009

Sen. Casey's proposal still pays for abortion

The health care proposal by Sen. Casey still does not protect life to the extent life has been protected in the past through the Hyde Amendment.

in reference to: Sen. Casey says faith groups praise his abortion proposal, U.S. bishops not satisfied (view on Google Sidewiki)

Let's hope we can see some real prohibitions against taxpayers, and those required to join the government plan, from paying for abortions directly, or indirectly.

Fr. Barron comments on Abortion and Health Care

Fr. Barron came back from sabbatical to teach at Mundelein during my last two years there.

He's doing great things with

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Catholicism Project

Venerable John Paul II?

We've Waited Long Enough

Many of you may have heard about the petition going around encouraging the bishops and Vatican to wait on the translation of the Third Edition of the Roman Missal into English. Last month, the bishops of the US approved the final sections of the translation, with a little bit of drama brought up by those who do not agree with the text. The new translation should be ready for use in a year, or year and a half from now. Yet, there are still calls that 10 years of discussion is not enough.

A friend started this petition in response to the petition that wants us to wait longer. Please consider signing.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

December 13, 2009 Homily

Here's the homily I delivered in Geraldine last Sunday

Friday, December 11, 2009

Homily for Dec 6, 2009

I'm a little late posting this. I thought I had lost my cable that goes from the digital recorder to the computer. I then realized I was looking past the mini USB port on the recorder.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Bishops to Senate

A letter from our bishops to the Senate
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator:

On behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), we strongly urge the Senate to adopt essential changes to the health care reform bill to ensure that needed health care reform legislation truly protects the life, dignity, consciences and health of all.

Therefore we urgently ask you to support an essential amendment to be offered by Senators Ben Nelson (D-NE), Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Robert Casey (D-PA) to keep in place the longstanding and widely supported federal policy against government funding of health coverage that includes elective abortions.

Sadly, the current Senate bill fails to keep in place the longstanding federal policy against the use of federal funds for elective abortions or health plans that include elective abortions -- a policy upheld in all health programs covered by the Hyde Amendment, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program -- and now in the House-passed “Affordable Health Care for America Act.” We believe legislation that violates this moral principle is not true health care reform and must be amended to reflect the Hyde restrictions. If that fails, the current legislation should be opposed.

This amendment will have the same effect as the Stupak-Pitts-Ellsworth-Kaptur-Dahlkemper-Lipinski-Smith Amendment already accepted in the House by an overwhelming bipartisan majority (see attached fact sheet). Like that amendment, it does not change the current situation in our country: Abortion is legal and available, but no federal dollars can be used to pay for elective abortions or plans that include elective abortions. This amendment does not restrict abortion, or prevent people from buying insurance covering abortion with their own funds. It simply ensures that where federal funds are involved, people are not required to pay for other people’s abortions.

The bill currently before the Senate allows the HHS Secretary to mandate abortion coverage throughout the government-run “community health insurance option.” It also provides funding for other plans that cover unlimited abortions, and creates an unprecedented mandatory “abortion surcharge” in such plans that will require pro-life purchasers to pay directly and explicitly for other people’s abortions. The bill does not maintain essential nondiscrimination protections for providers who decline involvement in abortion. The Nelson-Hatch-Casey amendment simply corrects these grave departures from current federal policy.

We urge the Senate to support the Nelson–Hatch-Casey amendment. As other amendments are offered to the bill that address our priorities on conscience protection, affordability and fair treatment of immigrants, we will continue to communicate our positions on these issues to the Senate.

The Catholic bishops have long supported adequate and affordable health care for all. As pastors and teachers, we believe genuine health care reform must protect human life and dignity, not threaten them, especially for the most voiceless and vulnerable. We believe health care legislation must respect the consciences of providers, taxpayers, and others, not violate them. We believe universal coverage should be truly universal, not deny health care to those in need because of their condition, age, where they come from or when they arrive here. Providing affordable and accessible health care that clearly reflects these fundamental principles is a public good, moral imperative and urgent national priority.


Most Reverend William F. Murphy
Bishop of Rockville Centre
Committee on Domestic Justice
and Human Development

Daniel Cardinal DiNardo
Archbishop of Galveston-Houston
Committee on Pro-life Activities

Most Reverend John Wester
Bishop of Salt Lake City
Committee on Migration

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Creator of the Stars of Night

A little something for Advent.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Benedict XVI Invites Faithful to Confession

This is from Zenit

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 2, 2009 ( Benedict XVI today encouraged the faithful -- and particularly priests -- to trust in God's goodness and approach the sacrament of confession.

The Pope spoke of this sacrament today as he concluded the general audience in St. Peter's Square. In his customary greeting to youth, the sick and newlyweds, he observed that today marks the 25th anniversary of Pope John Paul II's apostolic exhortation, "Reconciliatio et paenitentia."

The document "called attention to the importance of the sacrament of penance in the life of the Church," the Holy Father said. And he pointed to some "extraordinary 'apostles of the confessional,' tireless dispensers of divine mercy: Sts. John Mary Vianney, Joseph Cafasso, Leopold Mandic, Pio of Pietrelcina."

Turning to youth, he expressed his hope that the witness of these saints would be an encouragement "to flee from sin and to plan your future as a generous service to God and neighbor."

Read the whole thing

Bishop-elect of Cheyenne an outdoorsman from a faith-filled family

This sounds like my kind of bishop. His brother, Bernie, was ahead of me in the seminary.

Indianapolis, Ind., Dec 2, 2009 / 03:01 am (CNA).- Fr. Paul D. Etienne, the bishop-elect of Cheyenne, is an Indiana outdoorsman whose vocation was nourished by a faithful mother and relatives in the priesthood and religious life.

Fr. Etienne, 50, will become one of the youngest Catholic bishops in the U.S. when he is installed as Bishop of Cheyenne on Dec. 9. The Indianapolis Star reports that he celebrated his final Masses as pastor in his two parishes in Perry County, Indiana where he has been assigned since July.

. . . .

Archbishop of Indianapolis Daniel M. Beuchlein told the Star that he had submitted Bishop-elect Etienne’s name as a candidate fit to become bishop.

"I think the outdoorsman part probably caught the papal nuncio's interest," Archbishop Buechlein said. "They were looking for somebody like that for Wyoming."

Bishop-Elect Etienne said a friend has given him a new fly rod for trout fishing in his new home.

“I can’t wait,” he told the Indianapolis Star.

Read the whole article from the link above.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

St. Louis Archbishop responds to gay rights protest outside cathedral

From the Catholic News Agency

In a statement Monday, Archbishop Robert J. Carlson of St. Louis responded to a demonstration held outside the city's cathedral by a gay rights group protesting the use of archdiocesan funds to defend traditional marriage in Maine. Catholics have an obligation to “carry out Christ's teachings, whether in the privacy of our own home or in the public square,” stated the prelate on the Archdiocese of St. Louis website.

On Sunday, gay rights organization Show Me No Hate protested the donation of $10,000 that the Archdiocese of St. Louis made to the “Yes on 1” campaign in Portland, Maine earlier this year. The initiative, which supported traditional marriage between a man and a woman, was voted on and passed during the mid-term elections.

Check out the whole article. It seems several of those who have left comments do not agree with the Church's teaching. Perhaps we can help turn the tide of the discussion.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Bishops Voice Disappointment in Abortion-Funding

USCCB - (Office of Media Relations) U.S. Bishops Voice Disappointment in Abortion-Funding Provisions in Senate Health Bill, Urge Better Care for Immigrants and Affordability

WASHINGTON—The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops urged the Senate to make essential changes its health reform bill in order to keep in place federal law on abortion funding and conscience protection on abortion, protect access to health care for immigrants and include strong provisions for adequate affordability.

The bishops called the Senate health care bill an “enormous disappointment” that creates new and unacceptable federal policy for funding and coverage of abortions, as well as rights of conscience. Bishop William Murphy, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo and Bishop John Wester voiced their wish for better health care reform legislation in a November 20 letter to the Senate. They chair the bishops’ Committees on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Pro-Life Activities and Migration, respectively.

The letter, which was accompanied with a fact sheet on the House Stupak Amendment (, urged Senators to improve the Senate health care bill in the key areas of affordability, immigration, federal funding and coverage of abortion and conscience rights.

According to the bishops, the bill “does not live up to President Obama’s commitment of barring the use of federal dollars for abortion and maintaining current conscience laws.” They cited an “abortion surcharge” that would force insurance purchasers to pay for other people’s abortions, provisions that would allow the HHS Secretary to mandate unlimited abortion coverage nationwide, and that the bill does not even allow for religious institutions to offer their own employees coverage that conforms to their institution’s teaching.

“The Catholic bishops have advocated for decades for affordable and accessible health care for all, especially the poor and marginalized,” the bishops said. “The Senate bill makes great progress in covering people in our nation. However, the Senate bill would still leave over 24 million people in our nation without health insurance. This is not acceptable.”

The bishops encouraged expanding Medicaid eligibility for those living at 133 percent or lower of the federal policy level. They also urged an end to the five-year ban on legal immigrants for accessing federal health benefits programs and said that undocumented persons should not be barred from purchasing insurance plans with their own money.

“Providing affordable and accessible health care that clearly reflects these fundamental principles is a public good, moral imperative and urgent national priority,” said the bishops.

The text of the letter can be found online at and in Spanish at

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Congrat's to My Seminary Morals Prof

From the USCCB web site

WASHINGTON—Pope Benedict XVI has named Bishop Jerome E. Listecki of La Crosse, Wisconsin, 60, as Archbishop of Milwaukee. . . .

Archbishop-designate Listecki was born in Chicago, March 12, 1949. He attended Quigley South High School, Loyola University, and St. Mary of the Lake Seminary, Mundelein, Illinois. He was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Chicago in 1975, and named an Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago in 2000, and Bishop of La Crosse in 2004. He holds a Doctorate in Canon Law from the University of St. Thomas Aquinas and a Doctorate in Sacred Theology from the Gregorian University, both in Rome.

The Archdiocese of Milwaukee has 4,758 square miles. It has a population of 2,303,859 people, with 643,775, or 26 per cent, of them Catholic.

Good luck and God Bless you Archbishop Listecki.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

WITHOUT A DOUBT Dear Congressman Kennedy

Letter from Bishop Tobin I'm including the whole letter here.

Dear Congressman Kennedy:

“The fact that I disagree with the hierarchy on some issues does not make me any less of a Catholic.” (Congressman Patrick Kennedy)

Since our recent correspondence has been rather public, I hope you don’t mind if I share a few reflections about your practice of the faith in this public forum. I usually wouldn’t do that – that is speak about someone’s faith in a public setting – but in our well-documented exchange of letters about health care and abortion, it has emerged as an issue. I also share these words publicly with the thought that they might be instructive to other Catholics, including those in prominent positions of leadership.

For the moment I’d like to set aside the discussion of health care reform, as important and relevant as it is, and focus on one statement contained in your letter of October 29, 2009, in which you write, “The fact that I disagree with the hierarchy on some issues does not make me any less of a Catholic.” That sentence certainly caught my attention and deserves a public response, lest it go unchallenged and lead others to believe it’s true. And it raises an important question: What does it mean to be a Catholic?

“The fact that I disagree with the hierarchy on some issues does not make me any less of a Catholic.” Well, in fact, Congressman, in a way it does. Although I wouldn’t choose those particular words, when someone rejects the teachings of the Church, especially on a grave matter, a life-and-death issue like abortion, it certainly does diminish their ecclesial communion, their unity with the Church. This principle is based on the Sacred Scripture and Tradition of the Church and is made more explicit in recent documents.

For example, the “Code of Canon Law” says, “Lay persons are bound by an obligation and possess the right to acquire a knowledge of Christian doctrine adapted to their capacity and condition so that they can live in accord with that doctrine.” (Canon 229, #1)

The “Catechism of the Catholic Church” says this: “Mindful of Christ’s words to his apostles, ‘He who hears you, hears me,’ the faithful receive with docility the teaching and directives that their pastors give them in different forms.” (#87)

Or consider this statement of the Church: “It would be a mistake to confuse the proper autonomy exercised by Catholics in political life with the claim of a principle that prescinds from the moral and social teaching of the Church.” (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 2002)

There’s lots of canonical and theological verbiage there, Congressman, but what it means is that if you don’t accept the teachings of the Church your communion with the Church is flawed, or in your own words, makes you “less of a Catholic.”

But let’s get down to a more practical question; let’s approach it this way: What does it mean, really, to be a Catholic? After all, being a Catholic has to mean something, right?

Well, in simple terms – and here I refer only to those more visible, structural elements of Church membership – being a Catholic means that you’re part of a faith community that possesses a clearly defined authority and doctrine, obligations and expectations. It means that you believe and accept the teachings of the Church, especially on essential matters of faith and morals; that you belong to a local Catholic community, a parish; that you attend Mass on Sundays and receive the sacraments regularly; that you support the Church, personally, publicly, spiritually and financially.

Congressman, I’m not sure whether or not you fulfill the basic requirements of being a Catholic, so let me ask: Do you accept the teachings of the Church on essential matters of faith and morals, including our stance on abortion? Do you belong to a local Catholic community, a parish? Do you attend Mass on Sundays and receive the sacraments regularly? Do you support the Church, personally, publicly, spiritually and financially?

In your letter you say that you “embrace your faith.” Terrific. But if you don’t fulfill the basic requirements of membership, what is it exactly that makes you a Catholic? Your baptism as an infant? Your family ties? Your cultural heritage?

Your letter also says that your faith “acknowledges the existence of an imperfect humanity.” Absolutely true. But in confronting your rejection of the Church’s teaching, we’re not dealing just with “an imperfect humanity” – as we do when we wrestle with sins such as anger, pride, greed, impurity or dishonesty. We all struggle with those things, and often fail.

Your rejection of the Church’s teaching on abortion falls into a different category – it’s a deliberate and obstinate act of the will; a conscious decision that you’ve re-affirmed on many occasions. Sorry, you can’t chalk it up to an “imperfect humanity.” Your position is unacceptable to the Church and scandalous to many of our members. It absolutely diminishes your communion with the Church.

Congressman Kennedy, I write these words not to embarrass you or to judge the state of your conscience or soul. That’s ultimately between you and God. But your description of your relationship with the Church is now a matter of public record, and it needs to be challenged. I invite you, as your bishop and brother in Christ, to enter into a sincere process of discernment, conversion and repentance. It’s not too late for you to repair your relationship with the Church, redeem your public image, and emerge as an authentic “profile in courage,” especially by defending the sanctity of human life for all people, including unborn children. And if I can ever be of assistance as you travel the road of faith, I would be honored and happy to do so.

Sincerely yours,

Thomas J. Tobin

Bishop of Providence

Monday, November 9, 2009

Living our baptism means staying united to the Church, Pope counsels

Another from Catholic News Agency

Pope Benedict XVI touched on the importance of the Sacrament of Baptism on Sunday, saying that “living our Baptism means remaining firmly united to the Church, even when we see her face darkened by certain shadows and stains.”

Speaking at the parish of St. Anthony in Concesio, Italy, where Pope Paul VI was baptized, the Holy Father recalled the words of his predecessor on the human tendency to dismiss the faith as useless or antiquated. There is “a temptation to believe that the faith is a tie, a chain to be thrown off, something old and outdated which serves no purpose,” Benedict quoted, adding that man can falsely begin to believe that “economic and social life is enough to respond to all the aspirations of the human heart.”

Homily for Veteran's Mass Nov 9, 2009 Great Falls Central Catholic HS

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Thinking about Thanksgiving

I submitted the following for our monthly Knights of Columbus newsletter.

In late September and early October I was able to accompany Bishop Warfel on a trip to India. It truly was an eye opening experience. I think it gives a whole new perspective of have vs. have not.

The area we visited had a literacy rate of about 30%. I visited a home for a family of four. The room was about 14 feet by 25 feet. One corner had a floor drain and a 1/3 height cement wall to cordon off the area for bathing and doing dishes from the rest of the house. They had electricity. This was nice compared to the rural areas where the houses were huts with no water or electricity. Water could be 100 yards away, or a half mile away. Bathing was often done at the local water pump, or in a river, or puddle of stagnant water. A lot of people walked, some used oxes or motorcycles to get around. A few had cars in the rural areas.

Sometimes we think that we are missing a lot in life. We have education. We have multi-room houses with running water and electricity. We have the ability to have hot showers in our private bathrooms. We have means to travel around town, around the state and even around the country.

As we look ahead to the end of the month, perhaps we should take a moment or two to think about why we should be giving thanks. If we think about things we want, it might again be a time to ask are they things that we need. As we look at what we have, perhaps we can think about helping those who have not.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Health Care FAQ's

I know, I'm busy this morning.

This is from the USCCB

Questions and Answers

Question: The Catholic bishops support health care reform. What are the bishops’ key criteria for health care reform?

Answer: The bishops have been consistent advocates for comprehensive, life-affirming reform to the nation’s health care system. Health care reform needs to reflect basic moral principles. The bishops believe access to basic, quality health care is a universal human right not a privilege. In this light they offer four criteria to guide the process: a truly universal health policy that respects all human life and dignity, from conception to natural death; access for all with a special concern for the poor and inclusion of legal immigrants; pursuing the common good and preserving pluralism including freedom of conscience and variety of options; and restraining costs and applying them equitably across the spectrum of payers.

Question: Why are the bishops so vocal about health care reform?

Answer: One out of three Americans under the age of 65 went without health insurance for some period of time during 2007 and 2008. Of these, four out of five were from working families. Sixty four percent of the uninsured are employed full time, year round. This state of affairs is unacceptable. In the Catholic tradition, health care is a basic human right not a privilege. It is a fundamental issue of human life and dignity.

Question: Are the bishops trying to promote an anti-abortion agenda through health care reform?

Answer: The bishops will continue to fight against the evil of abortion by all means available. But they have not demanded that urgently needed health care reform become a vehicle for advancing the pro-life cause, and they likewise believe it should not be used to advance the cause of abortion. In this sense, the bishops have asked that health care reform be “abortion neutral,” this is, that existing laws and policies with regard to abortion and abortion funding be preserved, allowing health care reform to move forward and serve its legitimate goals.

Question: Why are the bishops insistent that healthcare reform be “abortion neutral”?

Answer: Abortion advocacy groups are trying to use health care reform to advance their agenda, by having Congress or a federal official establish abortion as a “basic” or “essential” health benefit, guaranteeing “access” nationwide and requiring Americans to subsidize abortion with their tax dollars or insurance premiums. This would reverse a tradition of federal laws and policies that have barred federal funding and promotion of abortion in all major health programs for over three decades (e.g., the Hyde amendment, 1976), and have respected the right of health care providers to decline involvement in abortion or abortion referrals. This agenda would also endanger or render irrelevant numerous local and state laws regulating abortion. The bishops cannot, in good conscience, let such an important and pressing issue as health care reform be hijacked by the abortion agenda. No health care reform plan should compel anyone to pay for the destruction of human life, whether through government funding or mandatory coverage of abortion. Any such action would be morally wrong and politically unwise.

Question: Are the bishops promoting socialized medicine by advocating for universal access?

Answer: All people need and should have access to comprehensive, quality health care that they can afford, and it should not depend on their stage in life, where or whether they or their parents work, how much they earn, where they live, or where they were born. There may be different ways to accomplish this, but the Bishops’ Conference believes health care reform should be truly universal and genuinely affordable.

Question: Health care is already expensive. Why advocate for legal immigrants to be covered too?

Answer: Legal immigrants pay taxes and contribute to the U.S. economy and social life in the same manner as U.S. citizens do. Therefore, there should be equity for legal immigrants in access to health care. In the Catholic tradition, health care is a basic human right, like education, and having access to it should not depend on where you were born. Achieving equality in this case, for instance, means repealing the five year ban currently in effect for legal immigrants to access Medicaid, and ensuring that all pregnant women in the United States, who will be giving birth to U.S. citizens, are eligible along with their unborn children for health care.

Question: What kind of actions do the bishops recommend to make quality healthcare accessible for all and genuinely affordable?

Answer: Many lower income families simply lack the resources to meet their health care expenses. For these families, significant premiums and cost sharing charges can serve as barriers to obtaining coverage or seeing a doctor. Medicaid cost-sharing protections should be maintained and new coverage options should protect the lowest income enrollees from burdensome cost sharing. The bishops have urged Congress to limit premiums or exempt families earning less then 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level from monthly premiums; they also recommend limiting co-payments and other costs which could discourage needed care, and increasing eligibility levels for Medicaid and CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program). They have urged Congress to provide states with resources to expand coverage and ensure sufficient funding for safety net clinics, hospitals and other providers serving those who will continue to fall through the cracks even after the system is reformed.

U.S. Bishops To Vote On Revision Of Ethical Directive On Nutrition And Hydration At November Meeting

From the bishop's web site.

WASHINGTON—The full body of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) will take into account the most recent Catholic teaching on care for the chronically ill and dying when they vote on a proposed revision of the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services at their November 16-19 general assembly in Baltimore. The proposed revision states more definitively the moral obligation to provide medically assisted nutrition and hydration to patients in a “persistent vegetative state.”

The revision draws from Pope John Paul II’s March 2004 Address to the Participants in the International Congress on "Life- Sustaining Treatments and Vegetative State: Scientific Advances and Ethical Dilemmas" and the Congregationfor the Doctrine of the Faith's August 2007 Responses to Certain Questions of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Concerning Artificial Nutrition and Hydration. The current Ethical and Religious Directives, which predate both documents,reference only the conclusions of "some state Catholic conferences, individualbishops, and the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities."

“It would be useful to update the Ethical and Religious Directives by inclusion of references to these authoritative documents as well as byincorporation of some of their language and distinctions,” said Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport, Connecticut, Chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Doctrine. “It is particularly appropriate to do so since the recent clarifications by the Holy See have rendered untenable certain positions that have been defended by some Catholic ethicists.”

The current Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services says, “There should be a presumption in favor of providing nutrition and hydration to all patients, including patients who require medically assisted nutrition and hydration, as long as this is of sufficient benefit to outweigh the burdens involved to the patient.” Along with other changes, the proposed revision says, “As a general rule, there is an obligation to provide patients with food and water, including medically assisted nutrition and hydration for those who cannot take food orally. This obligation extends to patients in chronic conditions (e.g., the ‘persistent vegetative state’) who can reasonably be expected to live indefinitely if given such care.”

To be adopted, the proposed revision must be approved by a majority of bishops present and voting at the November meeting. The revision has been undertaken with the collaboration of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities and in consultation with the Task Force on Health Care Issues, the Catholic Health Association, the Catholic Medical Association, the National Catholic Bioethics Center, and the National Catholic Partnership on Disability.

Priest’s new book challenges men to learn ‘true manhood’ by following Christ

Another story from Catholic News Agency

San Francisco, Calif., Nov 6, 2009 / 06:17 am (CNA).- Pennsylvania Catholic priest Fr. Larry Richards, aiming to clear up “gender confusion” and to challenge men to pursue holiness, has released a new book titled “Be A Man: Become the Man God Created You to Be.”

In the book, Fr. Richards recounts his own efforts to learn “true manhood” and shares inspiring stories from men he has counseled and served in his decades as a priest, a press release from Ignatius Press says.

He encourages men to appreciate the differences between men and women, to set the right goals in life, to acknowledge personal faults and limitations, and to be masculine without being “macho.”

“Would you take a bullet if someone was raping your wife?” is one of his provocative questions to men.

Be A Man looks at King David, St. Paul, and Jesus as role models for men.

“Jesus Christ Himself reveals to us what it is to be a man,” Fr. Richards said. “It is about taking the one life that God has given us and give it away. When men are invited to die for others, they put others’ needs above their own. To be like Christ, and like all great men, will cost men their very lives.”

“There is a difference in the way men and women were created,” he remarked. “Men are not called to be women and vice versa. We are different – not better, but different – and men are called to be fully men. This needs to be dealt with up front because it’s a problem – in the Catholic Church and in the world itself.”

Fr. Richards said he encourages men to become men of “true love and wisdom” and to pursue holiness and find strength in faith and love. Each chapter of his book ends with a list of tasks that must be accomplished and questions for discussion and reflection.

“Read the book. Accomplish the tasks at the end of each chapter, no matter how hard or how “hokey” you may think them to be,” Fr. Richards urged. “I guarantee that if a man commits himself to each task and challenge, in the end his life will be changed forever!”

Be A Man is published by the San Francisco-based Ignatius Press.

Traditional Anglican Communion of U.K. first to accept Pope's offer

This is from Catholic News Agency

London, England, Nov 6, 2009 / 12:24 am (CNA).- Members of The Traditional Anglican Church in Great Britain have announced that they will enter into communion with the Vatican under Pope Benedict XVI's Apostolic Constitution for Anglicans.

According to the group's website, members met on October 29 for their October 2009 Assembly. They scrapped their initial itinerary for the meeting following the Vatican's Oct. 20 announcement that an Apostolic Constitution was being prepared in response to requests from groups of Anglican clergy and faithful wanting to enter into full communion with the Church. Instead, the assembly focused on what the news from the Vatican meant for the small group of Anglicans who are part of the Traditional Anglican Communion.

Anglican Bishop David Moyer released a statement describing the October Assembly as “grace-filled,” noting that everyone in attendance became “aware of the movement of the Holy Spirit.”

“The bishops, priests, ordinands, and lay representatives were brought to a place of 'being in full accord and of one mind,' as St. Paul prayed for the Church in Philippi,” Bishop Moyer wrote.

Check out the rest of the story.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Hollywood Hypocrite

From "The Black Biretta" blog hosted by Padre Giovanni Trigilio

Director Roland Emmerich admitted that he has no time for organized religion. His latest movie 2012 is based on a pagan Mayan prophecy that the world ends that calendar year (December 21). Bad enough he gives credence to ancient folklore, worse yet he trashes Christianity, especially Roman Catholicism, while leaving Islam unscathed. One scene has Saint Peter's Basilica rolling onto the multitude of clergy and laity praying for divine assistance. Every national monument and religious icon is destroyed EXCEPT the the Kaaba, the cube-shaped structure located in the center of Mecca, the site of the Hajj. Why? Is the director a Muslim? No. But he fears offending Muslims and incurring a fatwa. So, no Islamic symbol is pulverized in the movie but Christian ones fall like dominoes. PATHETIC. Would a threat of excommunication saved the Vatican? I doubt it. Today, the atheists, agnostics and secular progressives and politically correct FEAR offending anyone of the Muslim faith. How about offending NO ONE, Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, or Muslim? How about not offending any religion? Either all are exempt or all are fair game. If the bishops and clergy called for a boycott of the movie, some Catholics would go just to be defiant; others out of pure curiosity. REMEMBER LOT'S WIFE !!! One thing you will NEVER see Hollywood ever depict: an apparition of the Virgin Mary calling all men and women on earth to pray the rosary to avert the great chastisement. Why? Just too Catholic. You can show the Devil and the Anti-Christ and aliens and now pagan mythologies but not anything too Christian and certainly not too Catholic.

Growing up, me and my younger brother Joe (who was killed at the age of 33 by a 19 year old underage drunk driver) used to watch the old Hammer Studios horror movies every Friday night. They were all B movies, no gore but plenty of scare (from your own imagination). Greats like Vincent Price (who died a Catholic), Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Boris Karloff, Peter Lorre, et al., would always have a battle between good and evil. Good always won and whenever Satan was being fought, the hero always turned to the local parish PRIEST (not the minister) since he needed Holy Water, or silver blessed in Latin (to make bullets), etc. Even Dracula was defeated by the town's Monsignor who knew that anything holy could destroy vampires or calling out the baptismal name could cure the werewolf. Crosses were good, but crucifixes were better and more efficient. Sure, all fantasy, sci-fi, horror film but the church and the clergy came off as competent authorities on how to defeat evil. That lasted through the gore of the Exorcist and the Omen but then Hollywood decided to make the priest and the Catholic Church the idiotic fools who no longer believe in the devil and diabolical evil OR who have no faith in the supernatural. The heroes now turn to the Evangelical pastor for wisdom and guidance. Then the university professor who is either agnostic or atheist becomes the next expert. He can help translate pagan languages and interpret the pagan rituals of pre-Christian cultures which now Hollywood portrays as the real saviors. Pagans or aliens or technology are held up as sources of hope in the battle between good and evil. Organized religion is seen as part of the problem, not part of the cure. So, movies now have Christians, particularly Catholic clergy being the first to die or mess up or be the token zealot, while the new college scholar or scientist or pagan shaman saves the day. Of course, never cast a shadow on anyone or anything of Islam lest you get a fatwa. But trash the Vatican, Opus Dei, priesthood, sacraments, etc. That is what is shown today on the silver screen. And I think the Devil quite enjoys it.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Denver bishop: Catholics must demand delivery from Obama on health care promises

Some thoughts on Health Care Reform

Denver, Colo., Nov 2, 2009 / 06:39 pm (CNA).- Stressing that “there is very little time to act,” Bishop James Conley, the Auxiliary Bishop of Denver, told CNA in an exclusive interview on Monday that now is the time for President Obama to prove his critics wrong and show them that he really meant it when he said abortions would not be funded in the health care reform bill.

Bishop Conley added, “If we don't demand honesty from our public officials and responsiveness to the serious concerns of the Catholic community, nobody will do it for us -- and we, our beliefs and our institutions will be the losers.” The full interview between CNA and Bishop Conley follows.

Monday, November 2, 2009

All Saints Day Homily

Again, this is not a professional recording, but was recorded during Mass at the University of Great Falls.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

USCCB Bulletin Insert on Health Care

Bulletin Insert - actual document


Tell Congress: Remove Abortion Funding & Mandates from Needed Health Care Reform

Congress is preparing to debate health care reform legislation on the House and Senate floors.
Genuine health care reform should protect the life and dignity of all people from the moment of
conception until natural death. The U.S. bishops’ conference has concluded that all committeeapproved
bills are seriously deficient on the issues of abortion and conscience, and do not provide
adequate access to health care for immigrants and the poor. The bills will have to change or the
bishops have pledged to oppose them.

Our nation is at a crossroads. Policies adopted in health care reform will have an impact for good or
ill for years to come. None of the bills retains longstanding current policies against abortion funding
or abortion coverage mandates, and none fully protects conscience rights in health care.

As the U.S. bishops’ letter of October 8 states:
“No one should be required to pay for or participate in abortion. It is essential that the
legislation clearly apply to this new program longstanding and widely supported federal
restrictions on abortion funding and mandates, and protections for rights of conscience.
No current bill meets this test…. If acceptable language in these areas cannot be found,
we will have to oppose the health care bill vigorously.”

For the full text of this letter and more information on proposed legislation and the bishops’ advocacy
for authentic health care reform, visit:

Congressional leaders are attempting to put together final bills for floor consideration. Please contact
your Representative and Senators today and urge them to fix these bills with the pro-life amendments
noted below. Otherwise much needed health care reform will have to be opposed. Health care reform
should be about saving lives, not destroying them.

ACTION: Contact Members through e-mail, phone calls or FAX letters.
 To send a pre-written, instant e-mail to Congress go to
 Call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at: 202-224-3121, or call your Members’ local offices.
 Full contact info can be found on Members’ web sites at &

“During floor debate on the health care reform bill, please support an amendment to
incorporate longstanding policies against abortion funding and in favor of conscience rights.
If these serious concerns are not addressed, the final bill should be opposed.”

“Please support the Stupak Amendment that addresses essential pro-life concerns on abortion
funding and conscience rights in the health care reform bill. Help ensure that the Rule for the
bill allows a vote on this amendment. If these serious concerns are not addressed, the final bill
should be opposed.”

WHEN: Both House and Senate are preparing for floor votes now. Act today! Thank you!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Manual for proper celebration of the Mass officially presented to the Pope

Just found this on Catholic News Agency. I'll be waiting for the English edition.

Manual for proper celebration of the Mass officially presented to the Pope

Just a hint :)
L’Osservatore Romano also explained that the Pope’s desire is that the compendium will help both priests and laity in “believing, celebrating and increasingly living out the Eucharistic Mystery.” The Holy Father also hopes that it will stimulate “every faithful person to make of their own lives a spiritual worship,” the paper added.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Pope Benedict XVI has approved a structure for admitting large groups of Anglicans wishing to come into communion with the Catholic Church

It's going to be interesting to see where this leads. The Church could grow rather quickly.

Pope Benedict XVI has approved a structure for admitting large groups of Anglicans wishing to come into communion with the Catholic Church

Just a quick quote

The Apostolic Constitution, which Cardinal Levada said “provides a reasonable and even necessary response to a world-wide phenomenon”, will be a “single canonical model for the universal Church which is adaptable to various local situations and equitable to former Anglicans in its universal application.”

The new canonical structure will allow former Anglicans to enter into full communion with the Church while “preserving elements of distinctive Anglican spiritual patrimony,” said Cardinal Levada. He added that it will allow married former Anglican clergy to be ordained however, in common with Catholic and Orthodox Churches, married clergy will not be allowed to be ordained bishops.

Update 7:27 am MDT

Additional information is available from the Vatican Information Service

Monday, October 19, 2009

Whispers in the Loggia: A-Train's Next Stop: Cheyenne

The new bishop of Wyoming. I went to the seminary with his younger brother. :) I'm glad our neighbors have their new bishop.

Whispers in the Loggia: A-Train's Next Stop: Cheyenne

Shared via AddThis

Friday, October 16, 2009

Pastoral Letter from the Bishop of Souix City

I started reading this and thought it was worth sharing.

Here is but a taste:

My brothers and sisters, let me say this clearly: The “hermeneutic of discontinuity” is a false interpretation and implementation of the Council and the Catholic Faith. It emphasizes the “engagement with the world” to the exclusion of the deposit of faith. This has wreaked havoc on the Church, systematically dismantling the Catholic Faith to please the world, watering down what is distinctively Catholic, and ironically becoming completely irrelevant and impotent for the mission of the Church in the world. The Church that seeks simply what works or is “useful” in the end becomes useless.

Our urgent need at this time is to reclaim and strengthen our understanding of the deposit of faith. We must have a distinctive identity and culture as Catholics, if we would effectively communicate the Gospel to the people of this day and Diocese. This is our mission. Notice that this mission is two-fold, like the Second Vatican Council’s purpose. It is toward ourselves within the Church (ad intra), and it is to the world (ad extra). The first is primary and necessary for the second; the second flows from the first. This is why we have not been as successful as we should be in bringing the world to Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ to the world. We cannot give what we do not have; we cannot fulfill our mission to evangelize, if we ourselves are not evangelized.9

Vocation videos from the Knights of Columbus

Here is a new video from the Knights of Columbus promoting vocations to the priesthood.

There are also videos for religious life for women and for men.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

New Webpage and Blog

I've started a new web page and blog to promote the restoration efforts we have underway for the Old Immaculate Conception Church in Fort Benton. The church was built in 1907 and used for 60 years before they moved into the new, larger church. The church has been basically unused for the past 40 years. We hope to restore it to its former glory.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Preparing for Winter

I made a batch of chili today from some of my elk burger. Wonderful!!! Now if only I didn't have to travel the next couple of days, I could wrap up in a nice blanket, kick back in my recliner and do some reading.

I received a Public Information Statement via e-mail from the US weather service this afternoon.

Just a few highlights

Looking at the upcoming cold weekend from an historical perspective...cold outbreaks occur in early to mid October in north central Montana about once every 25 years or so.

Low temperatures below zero have occurred in early October in southwest recent as 1985. During this cold air outbreak...lows dropped as low as -12 at Denton...-10 at Cascade...-8 at Wisdom...-2 at Cut Bank...-1 at Lewistown and Havre...and 6 above at Great Falls. During this period...high temperatures remained in the 20s. Usually...below zero low temperatures are not expected until late October or November.

For this upcoming weekend...several low temperature records are likely to be broken. Record low temperatures for October 10-12 are shown. Some record lows may also be set on the 13th. Additionally...cold high temperatures during this period will also likely set new records.

For Fort Benton they shared the following:

Oct 10, forecast low 10, record 9/1987
Oct 11, forecast low 9, record 14/1881
Oct 12, forecast low 17, record 2/1881

Oh, and did I say there are some football games to attend. Homecoming this weekend for Great Falls Central Catholic High School. Go Mustangs!!! (This also is good for the GCDHS Mustangs celebrating homecoming in Jordan) I'll have to make sure I have some extra warm things to wear to the GFCCHS game.

So much for the theories on global warming. We might be in for a long winter at this rate. Wrap up and stay warm

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


I got the following from the Vatican Information Service


VATICAN CITY, 29 SEP 2009 (VIS) - Made public today were the contents of a video Message from the Pope to participants in an international spiritual retreat for priests at the French shrine of Ars for the 150th anniversary of the death of St. John Mary Vianney. The preacher of the retreat, which is taking place from 27 September to 3 October, is Cardinal Christoph Schonborn O.P., archbishop of Vienna, Austria, and the theme of the spiritual exercises is: "The joy of being a priest, consecrated for the salvation of the world".

"The priest", says the Holy Father in his Message, "is called to serve human beings and to give them life in God. ... He is a man of the divine Word and of all things holy and, today more than ever, he must be a man of joy and hope. To those who cannot conceive that God is pure Love, he will affirm that life is worthy to be lived and that Christ gives it its full meaning because He loves all humankind".

Benedict XVI then turns to address priests who have to serve a number of parishes and who "commit themselves unreservedly to preserving sacramental life in their various communities. The Church's recognition for you all is immense", he says. "Do not lose heart but continue to pray and to make others pray that many young people may accept the call of Christ, Who always wishes to see the number of His apostles increase".

The Holy Father also invites priests to consider "the extreme diversity of the ministries" they perform "in the service of the Church", and "the large number of Masses you celebrate or will celebrate, each time making Christ truly present at the altar. Think of the numerous absolutions you have given and will give, freeing sinners from their burdens. Thus you may perceive the infinite fruitfulness of the Sacrament of Holy Orders. Your hands and lips become, for a single instant, the hands and lips of God".

"This thought", the Pope added, "should bring you to ensure harmonious relations among the clergy so as to form the priestly community as St. Peter wanted, and so build the body of Christ and consolidate you in love".

"The priest is the man of the future. ... What he does in this world is part of the order of things directed towards the final Goal. Mass is the only point of union between the means and the Goal because it enables us to contemplate, under the humble appearance of the bread and the wine, the Body and Blood of Him Whom we adore in eternity".

"Nothing will ever replace the ministry of priests in the heart of the Church", the Pope concluded. "You are the living witnesses of God's power at work in the weakness of human beings, consecrated for the salvation of the world, chosen by Christ Himself to be, thanks to Him, salt of the earth and light of the world".

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

New Vocation Website

I'm sure some of you have heard about this already, but I thought it was worth sharing for those who have not heard about it.


September 22, 2009 – As the global push to increase vocations to the priesthood intensifies, Vocation Boom! on September 14 – the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross – launched its first contribution to that important effort – a new website devoted to encouraging young men to consider a priestly vocation. Visitors to are raving about the site, while prayer support has poured in from around the world.

Founded by Jerry Usher, creator and former host of Catholic Answers Live, Vocation Boom! is a global support community for young men discerning a call to priesthood, as well as for priests, educators, and families and friends. is dedicated to fostering a positive perception of the priesthood and culture of priestly vocations. In what Pope Benedict XVI has deemed the Year for Priests, Catholics across the globe are being called to encourage vocations and to pray for the future of the priesthood.

Vocation Boom! has drawn the special interest of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity in San Francisco and Sacramento, California. The sisters recognize the critical mission that Vocation Boom! has undertaken and are praying for it to successfully increase vocations to the priesthood. According to Jerry Usher, “Since God is the source of all priestly vocations, we feel it’s crucial to garner as much prayer support as possible for the Vocation Boom! initiative. And who better to pray for it than holy brides of Christ like our beautiful consecrated nuns?“

He added, “We are deeply grateful for the generous daily prayers being offered by the Missionaries of Charity. We know the Lord will hear and answer them. And, of course, we invite all men and women to join the sisters in praying for Vocation Boom! to bear abundant fruit and help to bring about an increase in vocations to the priesthood.”

It looks like the sisters’ prayers are working. The Vocation Boom! website has already attracted visitors from all corners of the United States and Canada, and from as far away as the Philippines and New Zealand. Log on to discover the newest frontier in the quest for increasing vocations to the priesthood.

Show your support by becoming a member today at!

Monday, September 21, 2009

26th Week in Ordinary Time Year B Homily

This is the homily I delivered at the University of Great Falls at the 9 pm Mass. I was a bit tired. WARNING!!! This is not a professional recording

Thursday, September 17, 2009


From the Vatican Information Service

VATICAN CITY, 17 SEP 2009 (VIS) - This morning in Castelgandolfo the Holy Father received a group of prelates from the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil (Northeast 2), who have just completed their "ad limina" visit.

Highlighting the functions of the various members of the Church, the Pope explained how "the particular identity of priests and laity must be seen in the light of the essential difference between priestly ministry and the 'common priesthood'. Hence it is important to avoid the secularisation of clergy and the 'clericalisation' of the laity".

"In this perspective", he went on, "the lay faithful must undertake to give expression in real life - also through political commitment - to the Christian view of anthropology and the social doctrine of the Church. While priests must distance themselves from politics in order to favour the unity and communion of all the faithful, thus becoming a point of reference for everyone".

Benedict XVI indicated that "the lack of priests does not justify a more active and abundant participation of the laity. The truth is that the greater the faithful's awareness of their own responsibilities within the Church, the clearer becomes the specific identity and inimitable role of the priest as pastor of the entire community, witness to the authenticity of the faith, and dispenser of the mysteries of salvation in the name of Christ the Head".

"The function of the clergy is essential and irreplaceable in announcing the Word and celebrating the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist. ... For this reason it is vital to ask the Lord to send workers for His harvest; and it is necessary that priests express joy in their faithfulness to their identity".

The Pope made it clear that "the shortage of priests must not come to be considered as a normal or typical state of affairs for the future". In this context he encouraged the prelates "to combine efforts to encourage new priestly vocations and find the pastors your dioceses need, helping one another so that all of you have better-trained and more numerous priests to support the life of faith and the apostolic mission".

Referring then to the 150th anniversary of the death of the "Cure of Ars", which the Church is currently commemorating with the Year for Priests, Benedict XVI indicated that St. John Mary Vianney "continues even now to be a model for priests, especially in living a life of celibacy as a requirement for the total giving of self, expressed through that pastoral charity which Vatican Council II presents as the unifying centre of a priest's being and actions".

The Holy Father concluded by assuring the prelates of the existence of "many signs of hope for the future of particular Churches, a future that God is preparing through the dedication and the faithfulness with which you exercise your episcopal ministry".

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Health Care - A Bishop Speaks

The following is from Bishop Aquila of Fargo, North Dakota

Dear Priests, Deacons, Religious and Faithful of the Diocese of Fargo,

At this time in our nation’s history, we continually face new challenges as we witness to the Gospel in an ever increasing secularized society. Currently our civil leaders are discussing different proposals to provide greater access to health care in our country. Indeed, the Church has officially manifested her teaching, since Pius XI to Benedict XVI, in the recognition of the great importance of ensuring that all peoples have access to health care.

In principle, the Church ought to always promote wider and more complete access to health care; however, that does not mean that in practice the Church ought to support each and every plan which is proposed by civil leaders. At this time, I want to offer you some key principles that should always be used when evaluating the moral value and justice of a given plan to provide health care. The following is a brief summary of these principles, after which I will offer further explanation and application:

1. Any provisions for actions which deny the dignity of human life, especially abortion, euthanasia, whether passive or active, and embryonic stem-cell research must be excluded from all health care plans.

2. The freedom of consciences must be safeguarded. The moral voice of individual doctors, nurses, health professionals, as well as the general public, deserve reverence and respect.

3. Access to health care ought to be available to all people, including the poor, legal immigrants, the handicapped, and especially the elderly and unborn members of society.

4. The means of providing access to health care should be governed by the principle of subsidiarity, being reasonably and equitably distributed among members of society.

The Dignity of Human Life
Made in the image and likeness of God, each and every human person bears the mark of the Trinity’s own character and life. Because of this inherent dignity, each man and woman is to be reverenced with great care from the moment of conception through every stage of their life. From the right to life flow all other human duties and rights, including the duty to preserve and protect one’s own life and health with the right to the means of achieving this goal.

Any attempt to provide greater access to health care without safeguarding human life from the moment of conception is inherently inconsistent. Pope Benedict XVI shares this great wisdom of the Church in his latest encyclical letter, Caritas in Veritate, when he recalls the words of John Paul II, “A society lacks solid foundations when, on the one hand, it asserts values such as the dignity of the person, justice and peace, but then, on the other hand, radically acts to the contrary by allowing or tolerating a variety of ways in which human life is devalued and violated, especially where it is weak or marginalized” (Caritas in Veritate, 15; Evangelium Vitae, 101). True health care begins with the unborn child in the womb. When a given plan to provide care fails to protect that life, it is no longer animated by a source of truth and justice, thus it will not, and cannot, flourish. The killing of unborn children through abortion or as a means to do research has nothing to do with promoting health. Both encyclicals make clear the teaching of the Church that the destruction of human life by abortion and other evils can never be a neutral question or one that is promoted by any faithful Catholic.

Conscience Rights
One of the important developments that resulted from the Second Vatican Council is found in the document on religious freedom, Dignitatis Humanae. “Nobody may be forced to act against his convictions, nor is anyone to be restrained from acting in accordance with his conscience in religious matters in private or in public” (DH 2-1). In the arena of health care, this statement applies both to those who work directly in health care, as well as to the general public who participate in health care plans through insurance premiums and taxes.

The practice of medicine is a tremendous gift whereby the seemingly endless illnesses and maladies that afflict the human body can be studied, known and healed. This in-depth knowledge which serves the progress of human health can also be used to promote death and destruction. The doctors, nurses and health care professionals who possess such medical expertise are prime candidates for coercion from those who would destroy the most vulnerable human lives. The right to follow one’s conscience, as informed by God, must be guaranteed. It is imperative that health professionals and institutions have the freedom to refuse to perform unethical procedures and even to refuse to refer a patient to another professional or institution for treatments they believe, according to the natural law, are immoral.

The consciences of participants in health care plans must also be respected. In no way should taxpayers or policy holders be forced to participate in plans, whether private or public, which fund procedures that violate the moral precepts of the faith. In his August 11, 2009, letter to the House of Representatives, Cardinal Justin Rigali addresses this very issue as he writes, “By what right, then, and by what precedent, would Congress make abortion coverage into a nationwide norm, or force Americans to subsidize it as a condition for participating in a public health program?” The protection of the freedom of conscience is a concern not only for those directly involved in medicine, but for all members of society. No health care plan managed by our government or funded by taxpayer money may include provisions to provide for abortion or other evils without violating the rights and consciences of citizens. The right of individuals to contest the inclusion of such provisions in privately managed or funded plans must be also safeguarded.

Access to All
One of the basic messages of the Gospel is that the love of God has no bounds or conditions. Many of the parables and actions of Jesus Christ illustrate this foundational truth. We share in this unrestricted outpouring of divine life through the infused virtue of charity in our souls. In friendship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the Christian receives the ability to love all people, especially those in the greatest need.

Therefore, as John Paul II wrote, the love of the Church must “embrace the immense multitudes of those…without medical care” (Solicitudo Rei Socialis, 42). In our day, when many times utilitarian values overlook the most vulnerable, we must ensure that the poor, the elderly, the handicapped, legal immigrants and the unborn, together with all citizens of our nation, have access to health care. Called to be the living presence of Jesus in the world, finding ways to provide medical care to those who have none is a perennial priority for the Church. In fact, health care was a chief concern of the Church in North Dakota when in the 1940’s, Msgr. Anthony Peschel, who wrote extensively on the duties and rights of individuals with respect to health care, played a major role in the establishment of health insurance programs in North Dakota.

Subsidiarity is the principle that states “a community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the latter of its functions, but rather should support it in case of need” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1883). As a society seeks to bring about any good such as health care, there are many organic and intermediate groups which cooperate together to reach the desired goal. There is a danger in being persuaded to think that the national government is the sole instrument of the common good. Rather, according to the classic principle of subsidiarity in Catholic social thought, many different communities within society share this responsibility. These various strands of community life within society build up a strong and cohesive social fabric that is the hallmark of a true communion of persons. States, towns, fraternal organizations, businesses, cooperatives, parishes and especially the family have not only legitimate freedom to provide the goods they are rightly capable of supplying, but often times do so with far greater efficiency, less bureaucracy and, most importantly, with personalized care and love.

This is especially the case in the tremendous work that the Church has done in successfully bringing health care, from early hospitals to modern research centers, to more and more people. We see this truth vividly in the Catholic health facilities in our rural areas. As our society seeks to achieve the goal of ensuring access to health care for all, the federal government surely has a role to play, but definitely not the only role, or even the primary role. Working together with individual states to foster an environment where greater insurance options are available to all, fostering the formation of new and creative associations and finding ways in solidarity to assist financially and coordinate, when necessary, local and private entities are all desirable starting points for a task of such great scope. Honoring the principle of subsidiarity will enable all men and women to be true participants in contributing to the goal of providing greater access to health care.

These four principles provide a foundation for a fruitful discussion about health care reform and must be considered carefully as changes in health care policy are drafted. I encourage all of our Catholic health care facilities, medical professionals, parishes and lay faithful to become engaged in promoting genuine health care reform. I am sure this debate will not subside soon, so I also encourage you to continue to periodically check the Web sites of the North Dakota Catholic Conference ( and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops ( in order to stay up to date.

Finally, may we be joined by the Holy Spirit in fervent prayer to the Father with our savior, Jesus Christ, who has said “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). He is the Lord of history who continues to guide and direct our world with the power of his truth and love. May we trust in him who continually inspires us to arduously work for the health, well-being and flourishing of all human life from the moment of conception through natural death.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

†Most Rev. Samuel J. Aquila
Bishop of Fargo

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Our Youth

I submitted the following for our state Knights of Columbus newsletter:

How many of us have gotten excited because we've got tickets to the big game? Our favorite NBA team, NFL team, college is playing and we can't wait to be there in person. We are excited about sports. We don't personally know any of the players, but we know all about them because we've followed the news of our favorite teams. Tickets to the big game are a real highlight. The teams use the proceeds from the sale of our tickets to pay big money to the players and to build huge, expensive edifices to honor their teams and major donors.

How many of us, other than parents of the players, get that excited about our local sports teams? We often think a $5.00 ticket is expensive. Some of us might argue that we don't know any of the players, but the question might have to be asked "Why don't we know the players?" They are the children of our neighbors. We live in the same town and in some cases our kids attend the same schools. We should have a closer connection to these kids than we have with any professional or college team.

We read in the Gospel of Matthew:

The disciples approached Jesus and said,“Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven?” He called a child over, placed it in their midst, and said, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the Kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me.

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father.”

As Knights of Columbus, we make it part of our mission to reach out to the youth of our communities. I ask the question, are we doing our part as individuals? Are we supporting the efforts of our schools to assist these young men and women to excel, not only at athletic events, but school plays, concerts and other activities. The presence of carrying people, such as the Knights of Columbus, can have a great impact on our youth.

Until next month, God bless each of you

Fr. Leo

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Committee on Divine Worship Introduces Roman Missal Formation Website

This speaks for itself:

WASHINGTON—A new Website from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops will educate Catholics about the forthcoming English translation of the new Roman Missal.

The site,, launched August 21, includes background material on the process of development of liturgical texts, sample texts from the Missal, a glossary of terms and answers to frequently asked questions. Content will be added regularly over the next several moths. The bishop’s Committee on Divine Worship hopes the site will be a central resource for those preparing to implement the new text.

“In the years since Vatican II we have learned a lot about the use of the vernacular in the liturgy and the new texts reflect this new understanding,” said Bishop Arthur Serratelli of Paterson, NJ, in a welcome-to-the-site video.

“The new texts are understandable, dignified and accurate,” said Bishop Serratelli, who chairs the Committee on Divine Worship. “They not only strive to make the meaning of the text accessible for the listener, but they also strive to unearth the biblical and theological richness of the Latin text.”

After more than five years of consultation, study and reflection, the bishops are expected to conclude their review and approval of the final portion of the translated texts at the end of this year. Final approval (recognitio) of the text from the Holy See for the complete translation will be the last step before the publication of the texts for use in the liturgy.

Bishop Serratelli sees this time of waiting as an opportunity to learn and prepare.

“We have a great opportunity during this period not only to learn about the changes, not only to learn about the revised texts, but also to deepen our own understanding of the Liturgy itself,” he said. “We encourage priests, deacons, religious, liturgical ministers, all the faithful to avail themselves of the information that we are making available.”

In May 2002, the Vatican published the Latin text of the Third Edition on the Missale Romanum. Since 2003, the bishops of the English-speaking world have been working to prepare an English translation of the Roman Missal.

For information visit

Friday, August 14, 2009

Health Care

It's been a while since I've posted. I've been pretty busy trying to get things figured out in my new parish.

I did want to share the following from We at least know where this Congresswoman stands on the issue.

Washington, DC ( -- While abortion advocacy groups like Planned Parenthood and NARAL, with help from their friends in the mainstream media, have attempted to explain away how the government-run health care plans would pay for abortions, one of their own finally admitted that to be the case.

During a Monday town hall event, pro-abortion Rep. Zoe Lofgren, a California Democrat, acknowledged that the Congressional bills include abortion funding.

"Abortion will be covered as a benefit by one or more of the healthcare plans available to Americans, and I think it should be," she said.

In a video provided to by pro-life advocate David Schmidt, local pro-life advocate Ignacio Reyes asks Lofgren about the health care plan.

He says he wants to know if the plan would be "covering abortion, which we know that 90 percent of abortions are purely elective, not medically necessary. Why is this being covered when abortion is clearly not health care."

After applause from the audience for the question, Lofgren said the Congressional proposal was "a basic benefit plan developed by health professionals" and then added that she felt abortion should be covered under the legislation.

That the health care plans will lead to abortion funding has been one of primary reasons Americans are increasingly opposed to the bills.

The Associated Press had issued a news story claiming that abortion funding and insurance mandates would not be included, but released a story last week flip-flopping after put pressure on the news agency in an expose'.

Last week, exposed how CBS News is covering up the abortion funding tucked away in the government-run health care plan.

Douglas Johnson of the National Right to Life Committee says an amendment the House plan includes would pave the way for abortion funding.

"In reality, under the Capps Amendment, the federal government would run a nationwide insurance plan that would cover abortion on demand," he explained. "Abortionists would perform elective abortions on government-insured clients, send the bill to the government plan, and get checks from the government to pay for the abortions."