Excitement is mounting at Our Sunday Visitor for Friday's centennial symposium and Mass in Fort Wayne, Ind.
The day will include talks from the following people: Cardinal Francis George, archbishop of Chicago, speaking on Catholic apologetics; Helen M. Alvare, associate professor of law at George Mason University School of Law, speaking on religious freedom and women’s equality; and Scott Hahn, professor of Theology and Scripture at Franciscan University of Steubenville, speaking on Scripture, the Eucharist and the New Evangelization.
The symposium will be followed by a 5 p.m. Mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, with Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, chairman of Our Sunday Visitor's board of directors, leading a grand procession using OSV founder Archbishop John F. Noll's chalice and crosier.
Can't make it to Indiana to attend these events? No worries. Redeemer Radio in Fort Wayne will broadcast the events live beginning at 1 p.m. Eastern time, and you can listen to them online.
Thursday, September 27, 2012
Monday, September 17, 2012
By Russell Shaw
Listen to Archbishop Rino Fisichella and at first you might suppose that the new evangelization was a pretty simple affair. Declaring the “path” of evangelization to be clear in Scripture and tradition, he puts it like this:
“We are called to renew the proclamation of Jesus Christ, of the mystery of his death and resurrection, to stimulate people once more to have faith in him by means of conversion of life.”
But is that easy to do? Certainly not today. For, as Archbishop Fisichella adds, for many of our contemporaries, “God is not denied but is unknown.”
The archbishop’s views carry weight. As president of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization, he will be a key figure during next month’s assembly of the world Synod of Bishops, which, at the direction of Pope Benedict XVI, will spend Oct. 7-28 pondering how to spread the faith today.
Coming as it does in the closing days of a heated American political campaign, the synod is unlikely to attract much attention in the U.S. media, except for the faithful Catholic press. That’s a shame, since if Archbishop Fisichella is any indication, the 250 or so bishops and other Church leaders from around the world could have a pretty interesting discussion.
Among large numbers of people in the secularized West, he told a new evangelization conference in Australia in August, there is little interest in religion any more and even less in the idea of a “true religion.” But it doesn’t follow that the religious instinct is dead.
On the contrary, the archbishop said, what apparently counts with such people are “religious experiences.” They are looking for “different modalities of religion” corresponding to “their needs or interests at the moment.”
If that is so, then it seems to follow that the essence of new evangelization will be found in showing these people that faith in Jesus Christ is what best corresponds to their real needs and interests—at this moment and every moment. Easy to say, not so easy to do.
It’s significant that soon after the synod starts Pope Benedict will inaugurate the long anticipated Year of Faith for the universal Church. The date chosen, Oct. 11, has symbolic resonance as the 50th anniversary of the start of the Second Vatican Council. What Pope Benedict evidently wishes to tell us is that the new evangelization can only succeed through a renewal of faith among many Catholics — and that any such renewal today must be rooted in the teaching of Vatican II, which so many have yet to absorb.
Here’s one thought about that.
Among the achievements of Vatican II was its vision of the laity and their place in the Church. (You’ll find it in the council’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church and Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity.) Departing from the old Catholic Action model that had defined lay apostolate as sharing in the apostolate of the hierarchy, the council said that in and through the sacrament of baptism God directly summons people, including the laity, to enter into the mission of the Church. No more waiting to be asked — everyone’s been called.
Much more could and should be said by way of exploring what it would mean for the laity to accept their responsibility — in partnership with their bishops and priests — in the great work of evangelization. Here it’s sufficient to say that there will hardly be any new evangelization worth the name of without them. I look to the synod to make that point. Strongly.
Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Update: In a bench trial today, Bishop Robert W. Finn was found guilty of one count of failing to report suspected child abuse and was sentenced to two years of probation, which were then suspended. Click HERE to read his defense team's statement.
By Russell Shaw
By Russell Shaw
Thanks to the media, American Catholics will soon be treated to another sad chapter in the scandal of clergy sex abuse and cover-up. Starting Sept. 24, Bishop Robert W. Finn will be on trial in a Kansas City, Mo., courtroom for supposedly not moving fast enough to tell the authorities about a troubled priest.
In case you wonder, it gives me no pleasure to write about these things. I do so now because I believe it’s better to be forewarned than to be taken by surprise. In outline, then, the unhappy tale we’ll soon be hearing told and re-told goes essentially like this.
Although there had been rumbles earlier about possible trouble involving a Kansas City pastor, Father Shawn Ratigan, it was only in December 2010 that Bishop Finn, the local ordinary, learned that disturbing photographs of young children had been found on the priest’s laptop computer.
With his secret discovered, Father Ratigan on Dec. 17 attempted suicide by shutting himself in the garage with the engine of his motorcycle running. Bishop Finn sent him out of state for psychiatric evaluation and, upon his return, assigned him to a sisters’ convent as a kind of chaplain, with strict orders to stay away from kids.
Despite that warning, the priest was seen at public events involving children. Based on this new information, Bishop Finn notified the authorities, and the police arrested him on May 19. Next day, the bishop went to Father Ratigan’s former parish. There, in a grueling session with parishioners, he said, “I should have done differently in this regard, and I’m sorry.”
In federal court last month, Father Ratigan entered a guilty plea to five child pornography counts. As this is written, he’s awaiting sentencing, with several other lawsuits against him pending.
Because of those five months, December to May, before reporting the priest, Bishop Finn and the Kansas City diocese are charged with failure to meet the notification requirements of the law.
This Kansas City case is very different from that of Msgr. William Lynn, former secretary for clergy in the Philadelphia archdiocese, who July 23 was sentenced to three to six years in prison on a single count of child endangerment for his role in giving new parish assignments to abusive priests. An appeal of the decision is said to be likely. Msgr. Lynn is currently the highest ranking Church official in the United States to be tried for an abuse-related offense. As of Sept. 24, Bishop Finn will claim that dubious distinction.
So what are concerned Catholics to make of all this? Here is a partial, preliminary, tentative answer.
Ten years ago, responding to a barrage of disclosures of abuse and cover-up, the U.S. bishops overwhelmingly adopted a policy of what was called zero tolerance for abusive priests. That policy was subsequently approved by the Holy See. Evidently. Zero tolerance is also the policy now in place in the American legal system — at least, where the Catholic clergy are concerned.
From the point of view of a non-lawyer, Bishop Finn’s mistake seems to have been hoping Father Ratigan might be rehabilitated if given a second chance. Under “zero tolerance,” it appears, Church authorities aren’t allowed to make that mistake.
There was a time when the Church handled human problems like Ratigan on its own. That time passed, largely because, instead of handling problems, religious authorities sometimes swept them under the rug. But its passing also has human costs, as the news from Kansas City will soon be reminding us.