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President of U.S. Bishops’ Conference Announces Effort That Will Involve Laity, Experts, and the Vatican as U.S. Bishops Resolve to Address ‘Moral Catastrophe’

August 16, 2018

WASHINGTON — Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, has issued the following statement after a series of meetings with members of the USCCB’s Executive Committee and other bishops. The following statement includes three goals and three principles, along with initial steps of a plan that will involve laity, experts, and the Vatican. A more developed plan will be presented to the full body of bishops at their general assembly meeting in Baltimore in November.

Cardinal DiNardo’s full statement follows:

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Two weeks ago, I shared with you my sadness, anger, and shame over the recent revelations concerning Archbishop Theodore McCarrick. Those sentiments continue and are deepened in light of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report. We are faced with a spiritual crisis that requires not only spiritual conversion, but practical changes to avoid repeating the sins and failures of the past that are so evident in the recent report. Earlier this week, the USCCB Executive Committee met again and established an outline of these necessary changes.

The Executive Committee has established three goals: (1) an investigation into the questions surrounding Archbishop McCarrick; (2) an opening of new and confidential channels for reporting complaints against bishops; and (3) advocacy for more effective resolution of future complaints. These goals will be pursued according to three criteria: proper independence, sufficient authority, and substantial leadership by laity.

We have already begun to develop a concrete plan for accomplishing these goals, relying upon consultation with experts, laity, and clergy, as well as the Vatican. We will present this plan to the full body of bishops in our November meeting. In addition, I will travel to Rome to present these goals and criteria to the Holy See, and to urge further concrete steps based on them.

The overarching goal in all of this is stronger protections against predators in the Church and anyone who would conceal them, protections that will hold bishops to the highest standards of transparency and accountability.

Allow me to briefly elaborate on the goals and criteria that we have identified.

The first goal is a full investigation of questions surrounding Archbishop McCarrick. These answers are necessary to prevent a recurrence, and so help to protect minors, seminarians, and others who are vulnerable in the future. We will therefore invite the Vatican to conduct an Apostolic Visitation to address these questions, in concert with a group of predominantly lay people identified for their expertise by members of the National Review Board and empowered to act.

The second goal is to make reporting of abuse and misconduct by bishops easier. Our 2002 “Statement of Episcopal Commitment” does not make clear what avenue victims themselves should follow in reporting abuse or other sexual misconduct by bishops. We need to update this document. We also need to develop and widely promote reliable third-party reporting mechanisms. Such tools already exist in many dioceses and in the public sector and we are already examining specific options.

The third goal is to advocate for better procedures to resolve complaints against bishops. For example, the canonical procedures that follow a complaint will be studied with an eye toward concrete proposals to make them more prompt, fair, and transparent and to specify what constraints may be imposed on bishops at each stage of that process.

We will pursue these goals according to three criteria.

The first criterion is genuine independence. Any mechanism for addressing any complaint against a bishop must be free from bias or undue influence by a bishop. Our structures must preclude bishops from deterring complaints against them, from hampering their investigation, or from skewing their resolution.

The second criterion relates to authority in the Church. Because only the Pope has authority to discipline or remove bishops, we will assure that our measures will both respect that authority and protect the vulnerable from the abuse of ecclesial power.

Our third criterion is substantial involvement of the laity. Lay people bring expertise in areas of investigation, law enforcement, psychology, and other relevant disciplines, and their presence reinforces our commitment to the first criterion of independence.

Finally, I apologize and humbly ask your forgiveness for what my brother bishops and I have done and failed to do. Whatever the details may turn out to be regarding Archbishop McCarrick or the many abuses in Pennsylvania (or anywhere else), we already know that one root cause is the failure of episcopal leadership. The result was that scores of beloved children of God were abandoned to face an abuse of power alone. This is a moral catastrophe. It is also part of this catastrophe that so many faithful priests who are pursuing holiness and serving with integrity are tainted by this failure.

We firmly resolve, with the help of God’s grace, never to repeat it. I have no illusions about the degree to which trust in the bishops has been damaged by these past sins and failures. It will take work to rebuild that trust. What I have outlined here is only the beginning; other steps will follow. I will keep you informed of our progress toward these goals.

Let me ask you to hold us to all of these resolutions. Let me also ask you to pray for us, that we will take this time to reflect, repent, and recommit ourselves to holiness of life and to conform our lives even more to Christ, the Good Shepherd.

President of U.S. Bishops Conference issues statement on course of action responding to moral failures on part of church leaders

WASHINGTON — Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, has issued the following statement noting the steps the U.S. Bishops Conference will take in addressing the failures of the Church in protecting the people of God.

Cardinal DiNardo’s full statement follows:

“The accusations against Archbishop Theodore McCarrick reveal a grievous moral failure within the Church. They cause bishops anger, sadness, and shame; I know they do in me. They compel bishops to ask, as I do, what more could have been done to protect the People of God. Both the abuses themselves, and the fact that they have remained undisclosed for decades, have caused great harm to people’s lives and represent grave moral failures of judgement on the part of Church leaders.

“These failures raise serious questions. Why weren’t these allegations of sins against chastity and human dignity disclosed when they were first brought to Church officials? Why wasn’t this egregious situation addressed decades sooner and with justice? What must our seminaries do to protect the freedom to discern a priestly vocation without being subject to misuse of power?

“Archbishop McCarrick will rightly face the judgement of a canonical process at the Holy See regarding the allegations against him, but there are also steps we should be taking as the Church here in the United States. Having prayed about this, I have convened the USCCB Executive Committee. This meeting was the first of many among bishops that will extend into our Administrative Committee meeting in September and our General Assembly in November. All of these discussions will be oriented toward discerning the right course of action for the USCCB. This work will take some time but allow me to stress these four points immediately.

“First, I encourage my brother bishops as they stand ready in our local dioceses to respond with compassion and justice to anyone who has been sexually abused or harassed by anyone in the Church. We should do whatever we can to accompany them.

“Second, I would urge anyone who has experienced sexual assault or harassment by anyone in the Church to come forward. Where the incident may rise to the level of a crime, please also contact local law enforcement.

“Third, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops will pursue the many questions surrounding Archbishop McCarrick’s conduct to the full extent of its authority; and where that authority finds its limits, the Conference will advocate with those who do have the authority. One way or the other, we are determined to find the truth in this matter.

“Finally, we bishops recognize that a spiritual conversion is needed as we seek to restore the right relationship among us and with the Lord. Our Church is suffering from a crisis of sexual morality. The way forward must involve learning from past sins.

“Let us pray for God’s wisdom and strength for renewal as we follow St. Paul’s instruction: ‘Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect’ (Romans 12:2).”

Obituary: Father Frank Perkovich, 89

 

Father Frank Perkovich, 89, of Chisholm, died peacefully of natural causes on July 16, in his home. He was born on Dec. 24, 1928, in Chisholm, to John and Jennie Johanna (Lesar) Perkovich. He was a 1946 graduate of Chisholm High School and was ordained a Roman Catholic priest on June 5, 1954, by Bishop Thomas Welch.

Father Frank Perkovich
Father Frank Perkovich

Father Perkovich served in several parishes, including St. Michael, Duluth; St. Elizabeth, Duluth; St. Louis, Floodwood; St. Paul, Warba; St. Mary, Marble; St. Joseph, Taconite; Good Shepherd, Duluth; Resurrection, Eveleth; St. Margaret Mary, Duluth; St. Joseph, Gilbert; and St. John, Biwabik. He also served as diocesan director of youth activities; chaplain for the Knights of Columbus, Duluth Council; and Diocesan Presbyteral Council. He retired on July 15, 2004.

Father Perkovich was a Polka Hall of Fame Inductee in 2012. He celebrated his first Polka Mass in 1973, recorded with Joe Cvek and The Polka Mass-ters, and even went on to present the Polka Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. His life and ministry is the subject of a book entitled “Dancing a Polka to Heaven,” edited by Betty Vos.

Survivors include his nephews Michael (Jane), Frank (Jill), Robert (Vicki), and his niece, Mary Elizabeth (Skip Butterfield). He was preceded in death by his parents; brothers John and Louis Perkovich; sister-in-law Dorothy Perkovich; nephew John; and cousins in Toronto, Ontario; Slovenia; and Croatia.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to either of the following that Father Perkovich supported: 1) St. Mary and Joseph’s Log Church Restoration, 509 Sunrise Drive, Carlton, MN 55718 (for more information visit www.stkaterisawyer.com) or 2) the Chisholm Community Foundation, 4 S.W. Third Ave., Chisholm, MN 55719.

At Father Perkovich’s request, there will not be a funeral service. A visitation will be held from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, July 24, at Rupp Funeral Home & Cremation Service Chapel, Chisholm. 

 

Young Canadian indigenous celebrate beloved St. Kateri as ‘one among us’

MASKWACIS, Alberta (CNS) — Young. Indigenous. Committed to the Catholic faith.

Three hundred years after her death, St. Kateri Tekakwitha — North America’s first indigenous saint — has become a model for young people, especially in Maskwacis, a community that includes four First Nations south of Edmonton. Each year they celebrate the saint as one of their own.

Young people from Our Lady of Seven Sorrows Parish in Maskwacis, Alberta, perform a play based on the life of St. Kateri Tekakwitha. It was part of a July 14 Mass and celebration honoring North America’s first indigenous saint. (CNS photo/Andrew Ehrkamp, Grandin Media)

“It’s such a blessing to have a native saint. Most of our people don’t understand or know what is a saint; that’s one of the things we want to have out there,” said Karen Wildcat, who organized the fifth annual St. Kateri Gathering July 14 at Our Lady of Seven Sorrows Parish.

“If they can only come to understand how important that is, that we do have a saint that we can pray to and offer sacrifices and fasting. We could help our community more to know the humble life she lived,” Wildcat said.

Known as the “Lily of the Mohawks,” St. Kateri was born in 1656 in upstate New York to a Catholic Algonquin mother and a Mohawk chief. After her baptism, she lived a faith-filled life until her death from tuberculosis in 1680 at age 24.

For five years now, Our Lady of Seven Sorrows Parish has been celebrating her life with Mass and a traditional lunch of soup and bannock. This year, kids in costume performed a play based on the life of St. Kateri, a visual display that Wildcat said is crucial for her community.

“For most of our native people, you need to see things to be able to understand. It’s important because she was canonized as our native saint, and she’s for Mother Earth and the environment, and our native people are really sacred about the land and the water and the air.”

Children said they were learning more about the young saint with a background similar to their own.

“She shows respect for everyone,” said Issac Ermineskin, a ninth-grade student who was taught about St. Kateri in his parish youth group and acted in the St. Kateri play with his 10-year-old sister, Bobbi-Ann. “Not all natives like Christianity, but I do.”

What did Bobbi-Ann learn from St. Kateri? “To love others and to be peaceful.”

Many indigenous people can relate to St. Kateri as they come to know more about her, said Father Susai Jesu, who led this year’s Kateri Gathering in Maskwacis.

“The indigenous people begin to feel ‘Wow, she is one among us.’ She went through all kinds of trials of life and she has been a model. They feel affiliated in their blood. She is a part of us,” said Father Jesu, pastor at Sacred Heart, an Edmonton parish with a large indigenous congregation.

Wildcat learned about St. Kateri at a conference in Ottawa nearly two decades ago. The event included a side trip to the St. Kateri shrine in Kahnawake, Quebec. Years later, Wildcat was asked by Mary Soto — the founder of the Kateri Gathering — to help organize the event in Maskwacis.

Miracles and answered prayers continue to be attributed to St. Kateri.

Father Glenn McDonald, a guest speaker at this year’s Maskwacis gathering, said St. Kateri’s intercession alleviated the depression of one of his former parishioners — and helped him heal from his own bouts of eye cancer.

“I asked St. Kateri to help me because I was scared, but I didn’t see how” she was going to do that, said Father MacDonald, who feared he would be blind in one eye. His last surgery was on St. Kateri’s Canadian feast day, April 17.

Father Jesu said he, too, relies on St. Kateri’s intercession. In 2012 he asked for her help in his attempt to get a traditional First Nations drum through customs. Jesu and 12 indigenous leaders from Pelican Narrows, Saskatchewan, were en route to Rome for her canonization ceremony.

“Kateri was there to help us go through this process and [we] eventually saw her guiding presence there,” Father Jesu said. “We drummed and sang. The whole world was watching it. There were lots of people singing, but nobody had a drum.”

On a larger scale, Father Jesu noted St. Kateri’s canonization continues to help heal the relationship between indigenous people and the church, after years of abuse in residential schools.

“I think Kateri herself, as a saint now, [is] interceding with our Lord Jesus Christ for reconciliation and to feel they are all part of the church. We all belong to one faith as a family of God,” he said.

For Father MacDonald, St. Kateri’s canonization bodes well for a future apology by Pope Francis for the abuse suffered by indigenous people. A personal apology from the pope on Canadian soil is one of the calls to action stemming from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which examined the legacy of the residential schools in Canada.

Father MacDonald said he’s confident an apology will happen soon, noting that St. Kateri — considered a model of holiness — was brought to the faith by Jesuit missionaries, and Pope Francis is the first Jesuit pope.

— By Andrew Ehrkamp / Catholic News Service
Ehrkamp is news editor of Grandin Media, based in Edmonton, Alberta.

Alvare: Society needs church’s ‘gorgeous prescriptions for human love’

Americans continue to pursue “this ridiculous path” of “unlinking sex and marriage and kids, while calling what is actually falling apart flying,” said one of America’s foremost Catholic feminist thinkers.

“All the while [they’re] hurtling toward a collision with the ground,” said Helen Alvare, founder of the activist movement Women Speak for Themselves and a law professor at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School in Arlington, Virginia.

Helen Alvare, a law professor at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School in Arlington, Va., speaks July 12 at the Napa Institute conference in California. Alvare, one of America’s foremost Catholic feminist thinkers, said that despite the ongoing fallout from the sexual revolution seen in serial cohabitation and plummeting numbers of marriages, there are signs of hope for solidarity in U.S. society. (CNS photo/Dan Rogers)

“Kids are hitting rock bottom with suicide and opioid use” as serial cohabitation and plummeting numbers of marriages signal the disintegration of a relational society, she said in a talk July 12 at the Napa Institute’s eight annual conference in Northern California’s wine country.

But there are signs of hope in the “huge growth of hashtags, movements … straining toward solidarity,” Alvare said.

“There are opportunities for the church to narrow the gap between our current contemporary situation and the church’s gorgeous prescriptions for human love,” she said.

Movements such as Black Lives Matter, those that work for immigrant rights, and #MeToo demonstrate we live in a “society that wants diversity and solidarity next to each other. I hope we can see these are a reflection of the radical need for solidarity, the need to love — a message we can endorse,” Alvare said.

“Where do we get the first message about solidarity and diversity? I don’t know — Genesis?” said Alvare, referring to the creation of man and woman in the first book of the Bible.

Effective Catholic communication needs to meet people where they are and it must discard “church talk,” arcane terms such as “procreative and unitive,” Alvare said in her keynote address at the July 11-15 Napa Institute conference.

“We have to give plainspoken answers,” for instance, about contraception, said Alvare.

“If you disassociate where God chose to put babies” from a committed marriage, “do you realize what that does to the relationship between you and the man — it severs tomorrow,” Alvare said.

“Contraception severs sex from tomorrow and that’s why we oppose it,” said the law professor. She noted that in reversing the Obama administration’s contraceptive mandate, the Trump administration lifted 30 paragraphs of her law journal article disproving the factual underpinnings of the mandate.

Alvare’s audience included German Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Muller, who was prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith from 2012 to 2017; John Garvey, president of The Catholic University of America in Washington; and Bishop Steven J. Lopes of the Houston-based Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, the Catholic Church’s U.S. ordinariate for former Anglicans.

The Napa Institute was formed to help Catholic leaders face the challenges posed by a secular America, according to its website. Alvare’s talk was inspired by the day’s theme of the 50th anniversary of Blessed Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical, “Humanae Vitae.”

There are signs all around that people are concerned about the fallout from the sexual revolution, Alvare said. “The sexual revolution is not itself a reasoned revolution. The people who invented it did not invent it out of reason,” said the married mother of three children, now teenagers and young adults.

“Children are speaking up,” wearing T-shirts “My Daddy’s name is donor,” she noted. “Hook-up” books are a genre of teen literature that talk about how bad it feels, she said.

Both the left-leaning Brookings Institute and the conservative Heritage Foundation acknowledge the harms of family instability, she said. “Too many smart academics have pointed out that family structure … is actually the largest part of the social and economic gap between rich and poor, between white and black,” and even between men and women.

Several recent academic studies indicate boys suffer more than girls if raised by a single mother, said Alvare, citing separate works by economists Raj Chetty of Stanford University and David Autor of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Autor found that especially black boys raised by a single mother in a poor neighborhood tend to fall behind their sisters by kindergarten and the achievement gap widens as they go through school, Alvare said, surmising “girls are looking at Mom and seeing Mom does it all.”

“Today we are seeing that Americans are not willing to adopt the claim that the sexual revolution was a complete hands down win,” Alvare said. “Nobody thought we would reach the possibility of a fifth justice with as much of the country on our side as we have,” Alvare said.

She was referring to the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh, of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, to replace U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, who is retiring.

To counter the falsehoods of the sexual revolution, “the winning argument is relationship,” Alvare said. To say: “You think that is the way to get there, but this is not going to get you there.” That is because, Alvare said, “ultimately our desire is for the love of an infinite God.”

— By Valerie Schmalz / Catholic News Service

Father Michael Schmitz: How do we live well in a world of constant change?

I have a somewhat strange question for you. I’m someone who has a very hard time dealing with change. I like to make sure that the things I have and the relationships I’m in with friends and family are long-lasting, even permanent. It saddens me greatly to think that one day I might not have these relationships.

Thank you for writing and for your question. I do not want to be too abrupt in my response, but I have to warn you, the upshot of all that I’m going to say is going to be, “Deal with it”. (How’s that for a kind and gentle answer? What a grump!)

Father Mike Schmitz
Father Michael Schmitz
Ask Father Mike

But what I mean is that you are going to have to truly “deal” with the reality of loss. I mean: engage with it. Reflect on it. Ponder what it means to live in this world that is so filled with meaning and with meaningful relationships, and how all of those will come to an end (at least in this life). Too often, we don’t engage with the certainty of loss until it strikes us in the face and pierces our hearts. At least you are asking about this ahead of time. And yet, to have anxiety over a loss that one will have in the future is not going to be helpful. Therefore, knowing that, in the end, everyone you and I know and love will die, how do we live well now?

Also, in your defense, your desire to hold on to the most important people in your life is a sign that we are made to seek healthy stability and long-lasting relationships.

It is worth noting something about our culture that can be seen in what you are going through. We live in a culture that is hyper-mobile and hyper-disposable. I don’t know of any other time in human history when leaving one’s family and closest relationships when one “grows up” was the norm. Of course, almost all people in the United States are here because our ancestors left home and came to the New World, but they often traveled with their family or made plans to rejoin their family of origin at a later date. In our current situation, it is expected that people will leave their hometown and family and all of their friends in order to “start a new life.” This is so strange. It is so incredibly foreign to much of the human experience.

We long for stability. We long for permanence. This hyper-mobility doesn’t do us much good. It leaves us without roots and isolated. Of course, there are exceptions, but an outgrowth of such instability is that we have become more and more prone to disposable relationships. Since we are constantly leaving the relationships that are the most important to us and (hopefully, if we are lucky) forming new meaningful relationships, friends (and even family, it seems) have become more and more expendable. You seem to be indicating that this instability and expendability has affected you.

What can you do with it? The answer will not be to feed the anxiety, but to turn your anxiety into action — to transform your worry into wisdom. Often, anxiety is the result of feeling powerless in the face of some future catastrophe.

But you are not powerless. You can act. You can choose. You can learn. Yes, change and loss are inevitable. Part of maturing is reconciling with the reality of that uncertainty and change. What can they teach you now?

I submit that there are two ways you can act in the fact of the certainty of an uncertain future: live with gratitude and grow in wisdom.

The fact that all of our relationships will come to an end could hopefully help you to appreciate their incredible value. How often do we take other people for granted? If we have people who are close to us, so many of us can assume that that will always be the case. We can see this with many people and their parents. Simply because their parents may have “always been around,” folks can get it into their heads that their parents will always be around. But when you know that your time with them is limited, it can elicit a massive amount of gratitude and hopefully encourage you to live more wisely.

The temporary nature of this world and the relationships in it will hopefully make you wise as well. As noted, this knowledge will hopefully inspire you to spend more time with the people who matter the most to you. In addition, the fact that they will pass away will hopefully also encourage you to not place all of your hope or promise of happiness in another person (or group of persons). Rather, you can place your hope on God who desires a relationship with you. One of the prayers from the Mass asks that we may “deal with the things of this passing world as to hold rather to the things that eternally endure.”

It seems that by “dealing with loss” in a way that grows gratitude and fosters wisdom, one would become more and more engaged with the gifts of this life while always having an eye on the next life.

Father Michael Schmitz is director of youth and young adult ministry for the Diocese of Duluth and chaplain of the Newman Center at the University of Minnesota Duluth. Reach him at fathermikeschmitz@gmail.com.

Father Nick Nelson: Does God ‘make’ people gay?

It was recently reported that Pope Francis told a man who identifies as “gay,” that God made him “gay.” According to Juan Carlos Cruz, an abuse victim of a Chilean priest, Pope Francis told him, “Juan Carlos, that you are gay does not matter. God made you like that and he loves you like that, and I do not care. The pope wants you like that, you have to be happy with who you are.” This was not a direct quote but the recollection of Juan Carlos, and the Vatican did not confirm that the Holy Father actually said it.

But the questions remain, does God “make people gay”? Does God “love them like that”? These are very important questions that must be clarified, because the wrong answer has harmful implications.

Father Nicholas Nelson
Father Nick Nelson
Handing on the Faith

So first, does God “make people gay”? Meaning does God intentionally create people with a deep-seated attraction to those of the same sex? Does God create them with that desire, and want them to act on that desire? We have to say “no.” God does not make people “gay.” Because if God did make people with homosexual tendencies, it would mean either one of two things:

1) It would mean that he created another type or kind of human person that didn’t exist at the beginning. This means he has changed the plan for humanity and he didn’t bother to tell us. Divine revelation expressed in Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture is clear that God made man for woman and woman for man. This is the plan for humanity, the complementarity of the sexes. In the beginning we read, “God created man in his image; in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27). And, “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body” (Gen 2:24). If God now makes people “gay,” then there must be another plan, another set of rules for humanity. It would suggest that God has created a different plan for happiness and fulfillment that didn’t exist at the beginning. But the problem with that idea is that God doesn’t work that way. He doesn’t change the plan for humanity.

2) If God didn’t change the plan for humanity, and the original plan of the complementarity of the sexes is still in force, then it would mean that God intentionally makes some individuals to be permanently frustrated. If God intentionally makes some people with homosexual desires, but the plan for happiness and fulfillment based off of the complementarity of the sexes hasn’t changed, then that means that God intentionally created some people with unfulfillable desires. And that is not God. God is not vicious like that. He does not intentionally create people whose fulfillment is an impossibility.

Does God love them like that? Well, God loves everyone. He loves us with our disordered passions (“disordered” means not in accord with the “order” or the plan God built into the world). He loves us when we are in the depths of sin, whether that be homosexual sin or any other sin. But that is different from saying that God loves the disordered desire, or that he loves that we commit the sin.

God does not love that our passions are disordered. That was not God’s design but the result of original sin. He does not love that we engage in sinful acts that are contrary to our human nature. Therefore, he does not love that some people have a strong sexual desire for those of the same sex. He does not love that some people engage in sexual acts with members of the same sex. How could he love something that goes contrary to purpose he made us? How could he love something that harms us?

The infallible teaching of the ordinary magisterium of the Catholic Church is clear that homosexual acts are “intrinsically disordered” and that every human person is called to chastity. This includes homosexual persons. This is stated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraphs 2357-2359.

To suggest that God made homosexual persons “gay,” or that God loves them like that is wrong and harmful. It gives those who struggle with same-sex attraction the wrong message. It says they should not trust in grace and they should give up the fight. It tells them that their disordered desire is good and should be acted upon. And like any other sin, this sin only leads us to more emptiness and more pain and more suffering.

The common Christian response is, “Hate the sin, love the sinner.” I think it’s even more correct to say, “Hate the sin, because you love the sinner.” This is because the sin is contrary to our good. And to love the sinner means you desire their good, i.e. their relative fulfillment and happiness here one on earth and eternal beatitude in heaven. Therefore, we should hate what is contrary — what leads them away from their good.

I am not attempting a comprehensive article on homosexuality, I’m only attempting to shed some light on the supposed remarks of our Holy Father that have caused some confusion. For a more comprehensive volume on the subject, please see “Made for Love: Same Sex Attraction and the Catholic Church” by Father Mike Schmitz.

Father Nick Nelson is pastor of St. Mary, Cook; St. Martin, Tower; and Holy Cross, Orr. He studied at The Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family in Rome

Father Richard Kunst: If you’re prideful, don’t mess with Jesus

There are a lot of things I am OK at, fewer things that I am good at, and very few things I am great at. But there is one thing that I am super great at: foosball.

You know that table soccer game that is often found in rec-rooms and bars? Well I am super great at that game. When I was in high school, I had access to a foosball table, and I was never far away from it. You might say that I squandered my high school years on foosball, but by the time I got to college no one could beat me.

Father Richard Kunst
Father Richard Kunst
Apologetics

I hadn’t played foosball in years until recently, when I was at my sister’s house for a family gathering, when a foosball tournament broke out. No one in my family had a chance; no one even came close. I was the last man standing, and unscathed at that.

I recently brought all of this up at one of the school Masses at Stella Maris Academy, and then I posed this question to the kids: “Do you think Jesus could beat me in foosball?” They all screamed out with a hearty “YES!!” I replied by informing them that there were no foosball tables during the time of Jesus, so do you really think Jesus could beat me? To which they screamed out even louder, “YES!!!”

Why? Because Jesus is God, and you cannot beat God. Amen! Of course we cannot beat God at anything; the last thing in the world anyone should ever want is to have God up against them in anything, because we will always end up the loser, even if it is in foosball.

This interaction with the kids came as a result of the readings we had at that Mass from the First Letter of St. Peter, when our first pope said, “Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility towards one another, for God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (5:5b). St. Peter was actually referencing a quote from the Old Testament book of Proverbs, which says, “When he [God] is dealing with the arrogant, he is stern, but to the humble he shows kindness” (3:34).

So as Peter says, “God opposes the proud,” and nobody wants God opposing them — not in foosball, not in anything. In fact, if we ponder those words from St. Peter, they are pretty sobering. How do these words apply to us? Well the first thing that comes to my mind is that I am pretty proud of my foosball skills. (Full disclosure: Since I wrote this column, one of my brother priests in the diocese beat me in a game, but I am not saying who.) But I was talking about my skills to make a point in a homily.

There are clear practical examples in our day-to-day life as to how we exhibit being proud. When we talk behind someone’s back and gossip about them, whether it be a coworker, classmate, neighbor, family member, or whoever, in our gossip we are making ourselves out to be better than the person we are disparaging. As I told the kids that morning, if you make fun of schoolmates or do not let them into your circle of friends, you are in essence making yourself out to be better than your classmates, and that is being proud. And if we are proud, God is opposed to us.

Many saints and spiritual authors over the centuries have written about the virtue of humility as the one virtue that ties all other virtues together. If we are not humble, then we cannot excel in any other virtue either. But no words are as compelling as St. Peter’s words, that God actually opposes those who are proud.

Being proud of our country or sports team or even our children and grandchildren is not the same as thinking yourself better than other people. Some pride, like patriotism, is healthy; it is when we start to think that we are better than others that we start to run into serious problems.

So the moral of the story is that you never want God opposed to you in anything, so just be humble.

Father Richard Kunst is pastor of St. John the Evangelist in Duluth and St. Joseph in Gnesen. Reach him at rbkunst@gmail.com.

Betsy Kneepkens: Admitting when we’re wrong is powerful. Humanae Vitae’s dissenters should do so

Admittedly, I don’t like to be wrong; ask my husband. A while back my son and I had a long disagreement about when I authorized permission for his older brother to leave campus during lunch. I was extremely confident that it was late in his senior year. My younger son believed differently, so he shared incidental evidence over and over again in an attempt to prove I was wrong, and I would not concede.

It was not until that younger son retrieved school documentation with my signature on it that I acknowledged I was wrong. I am horrible with details, so I should have known better than to count on my memory as fact. It is intriguing how evidence can be right in front of me, and I still feel a desire to deny the truth.

Betsy Kneepkens
Betsy Kneepkens
Faith and Family

I try not to be insistently correct, but the sin of pride is challenging, and I have a fallen nature. I find it mindboggling when a simple “I was wrong” has the power to end negative energy and others’ discomfort, yet people, like me, are often reluctant to set the record straight. Unfortunately, at times, an unwillingness to admit you are wrong can dramatically affect the lives of others, and worse yet the sin of pride can have damaging consequences long term.

You can see times when misjudgment had undesirable consequences at the time and changed the course of history. For instance, the music of the Beatles was rejected by their first production company, because the company was confident they would never make it in the music industry. Even more recently J.K. Rowling was turned down by her first 12 publishers, because her work was not deemed worthy of print.

In both of these cases, the decision makers were arrogantly confident in their judgment, which ultimately came at a high cost to the respective organizations. Other misjudgments had dire outcomes. One of the more notable goes to the owners of the “unsinkable” Titanic, whose confident decision to purchase just 20 lifeboats because you would never need them was later responsible for the demise of over 1,000 travelers. This decision is particularly heartbreaking since the owners knew that the designer of the ship made room for 64 lifeboats, the capacity of which was more than enough to bring all passengers to safety.

This month Catholics celebrate the 50th anniversary of what I think is one of the richest and most prophetic encyclicals of modern times, Humanae Vitae.

Because of the insistent decision of a small group of men, mainly theologians and clergy, Catholics either don’t know this document exists or have ignored the message altogether. The teachings found in this document, however, ought not to be overlooked. Humanae Vitae beautifully articulates the reasons to be faithful to God’s plan for man, woman, the meaning of marriage, the conjugal union, and the fruits of this union.

In a logical and pastoral way, Pope Paul VI explains to the faithful the propose for the church’s prohibition of artificial contraception. The pope also illuminates the importance of respecting God’s design for responsible parenting by managing family planning effectively in accord with the nature of our natural reproductive systems. Pope Paul wants us to know that God has a plan for married couples to manage their fertility and that God’s design of the human person permits that.

These men, confident and dare I say shortsighted, proclaimed in churches and to the media before the document was officially released that the children of God could dissent from this particular teaching. The dissenters focused the conversation on how the faithful could reject this doctrine and paid very little attention on what the encyclical had to say.

In a somewhat unprecedented way, Pope Paul VI included in his writing what the cultural consequences would be if society ignored this message of the church. Unfortunately, these leaders of dissent avoided Pope Paul’s notice of social ills, and nearly the whole world has adopted a lifestyle that ignores God’s plan for the regulation of birth and accepts without question horrific consequences that are now our reality.

In chapter 17 of Pope Paul’s work he proclaimed that ignoring God’s design for marriage and the conjugal union will create suffering. He mentions that accepting artificial contraception will “lead to conjugal infidelity and the general lowering of morality” and decrease the respect for the woman, treating her as an “instrument of selfish enjoyment, and no longer as his respected and beloved companion.” He went on to say governments will use contraception as a weapon for governing or their authority. Furthermore, Pope Paul talked about how the culture will decide that the individual has the total domain of their bodies to the exclusion of others, their children, and their spouse.

The gravity of these men’s dissenting decisions has had a devastating impact on our culture that is undeniable. We live now with a divorce rate over 50 percent. The number of children born in a single parent home has skyrocketed. Two hundred babies are aborted for every 1,000 children that get to live. Sex trafficking, domestic abuse, pornography, hooking up, sexually transmitted disease, and infidelity are commonplace. Overwhelmingly families are smaller. As a result, support systems are diminishing, entitlement increasing, and loneliness with a high rate of depression plague so many lives. The list sadly goes on and on, all foretold in that teaching written 50 years ago.

That group of men who thought their decision to teach people to dissent from church teaching half a century ago was right have almost all died. There are just a few those individuals still alive, and I wonder if they ever think about the connection of their decision and the suffering people endure. I also think about what sort of impact it would have if those last few men got together to discuss the long-term effects of their decision and if they could have been wrong.

I often contemplate what impact these few men could have on society now if they would go public and proclaim they made a mistake. To me, the evidence is extremely clear. The path these men encouraged went a direction they did not calculate. The good they thought they could bring to the human condition is woefully overestimated. What a bold and courageous statement it would be if these last few living men stood up and said they were wrong and the church was right. I am just left imagining what kind of impact their words would have and the potential to change the course of history.

Betsy Kneepkens is director of the Office of Marriage, Family and Life for the Diocese of Duluth and a mother of six.

Father Anthony Craig: How to live the truth of Humanae Vitae

To say that the Encyclical Letter Humanae Vitae was controversial would be a gross understatement. Blessed Pope Paul VI wrote Humanae Vitae (“of human life”) on July 25, 1968. It was addressed to “all men of good will” and was subtitled “on the regulation of birth.” The encyclical did not teach anything new but reaffirmed Catholic teaching on the relationship of human persons to God and one another as manifested within Christian marriage. Nevertheless, it became the spark that ignited widespread dissent, especially on its reaffirmation of the constant teaching of the Church on artificial birth control (i.e. contraception).

Father Anthony Craig
Father Anthony Craig
Guest columnist

What led up to this widespread dissent was a perfect storm of social and political factors that challenged man’s dignity. Up until 1930, there was a constant moral rejection of contraception across the board among Christians. There were concerns of over-population stemming from Anglican scholar Thomas Malthus’ book entitled, “An Essay on the Principle of Population.” This work predicted that the world’s population would grow faster than the means to support it.

Malthus himself opposed contraception, favoring rather delayed marriage. Debate began immediately after its publication, especially in Britain. Pressure was laid upon the Church of England to make a response to these concerns. The Anglican Church’s Lambeth Conference in 1930 approved contraception, but under strict conditions. When this became public, the Catholic Church also needed to respond to this question about regulation of birth.

The same year as the Lambeth Conference, Pope Pius XI issued the encyclical Casti Canubii, which reaffirmed the traditional teaching on marriage. It also rejected abortion, eugenics, and contraception, stating: “Any use whatsoever of matrimony exercised in such a way that the act is deliberately frustrated in its natural power to generate life is an offense against the law of God and of nature” (56). Later, Pius XII in 1951 reiterated that couples within marriage could regulate when they had children by having sex during those times when the wife is naturally infertile. This led to a question about the use of the Pill to prevent ovulation and simply extend the infertile period.

In 1963, Pope John XXIII established a commission to study the question of birth control. After his death, the commission was expanded by his successor Paul VI. In 1966, the commission produced a majority report that endorsed artificial contraception and a minority report that did not. These reports were not to be published, but to put pressure on the pontiff’s response, they were leaked to the press in 1967. This attempt to pressure Paul VI did not work.

Humanae Vitae came out in 1968 reaffirming church teaching that within marriage, sex has two purposes. One was procreative and the other unitive. By God’s design, these purposes were to always go together. He acknowledged that couples can use the gift of reason to decide on having more children, but this must ensure that the means they employ be in harmony with God’s plan. While this was meant to reaffirm church teaching, it clashed with the spirit of “free-love” rampant in 1968.

The reaction to the encyclical was widespread, contentious, and immediate. As a result, Paul VI spent the rest of his ten years as pope never to write another encyclical. Despite this reaction, he displayed his courage in regards to this encyclical in his homily on the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul on June 29, 1978.

The homily consisted mainly of the resume of the major documents of his pontificate. He was sitting in front of the altar of St. Peter and reading from his prepared manuscript. He announced the name of each of the various documents that he issued. When he came to Humanae Vitae, he put down the papers he was holding, he looked up, and with an enormous amount of sincerity said, “Humanae Vitae. I did not betray the truth. I did not betray the truth.” Then he picked the papers up and continued his discourse.

Loyal to his memory, how can we be faithful to the truth and not in any way diminish the integrity of the moral principles and teachings embedded in that encyclical?

In this 50th anniversary of Humanae Vitae, one opportunity to understand better the way a Catholic married couple can remain faithful to the truth is an event this summer entitled “Celebrate ’68.” Natural Family planning is the way a couple can remain faithful to the truth of marriage and family life. Here in the Diocese of Duluth, Northland Family Programs seeks to assist women and couples in their reproductive health by sharing the wisdom found in the Creighton Model FertilityCare™ System. The event “Celebrate ‘68” will be at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Crosslake on July 21 at 4 p.m. This event will be filled with live music, dinner, and great speakers. This is co-sponsored by the Diocese of Duluth Office of Marriage, Family, and Life. Thus, it will be a way to faithfully follow God’s plan. This is one way to emulate the courage Paul VI displayed in issuing Humanae Vitae as he was a great herald of the truth of God’s plan for marriage and the family.

Father Anthony Craig, S.T.L., is assistant director of the Diocese of Duluth Office of Marriage, Family, and Life.