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Two Brooklyn priests named bishops


By Catholic News Service

Pope Francis has named two Brooklyn, N.Y., priests as auxiliary bishops for the Diocese of Brooklyn.

Father James Massa, 54, currently the diocese’s moderator of the curia and vicar for evangelization, and Father Witold Mroziewski, 49, pastor of Holy Cross Parish, were named in appointments publicized in Washington May 19 by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, apostolic nuncio.

Brooklyn has three active auxiliaries, Bishops Octavio Cisneros, Paul R. Sanchez and Raymond F. Chappetto. Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio has led the diocese since 2003.

Bishop-designate Massa is a native of Jersey City, N.J., born Sept. 3, 1960, who was ordained a priest in 1986. He attended the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in the Diocese of Rockville Centre, N.Y., and has a bachelor of arts in theology and history from Boston College, a master’s in divinity from Yale University and a doctorate in systemic theology from Fordham University.

In addition to assignments in parish and campus ministry in the Brooklyn diocese, Bishop-designate Massa has been a theology professor and from 2005 to 2011 was executive director of the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. From 2007 to 2015, he served on the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. He has held his current post as moderator of the curia for the Brooklyn Diocese since 2014.

Bishop-designate Mroziewski is a native of Poland and is pastor of Holy Cross Parish in Maspeth, N.Y., which for 102 years has been a home for Polish immigrants and the Polish-American community.

Born March 25, 1966, he attended the seminary for the Diocese of Lomza, Poland, and was ordained a priest there in 1991. His education includes master’s degrees in divinity and canon law and a doctorate in canon law from the Catholic University of Lublin, Poland.

He arrived in Brooklyn not long after his ordination, serving in pastoral services beginning in 1992, then at Czestochowa-St. Casimir Parish in Brooklyn in various capacities before being made pastor of Holy Cross in 2013. He also serves as a judge of diocesan tribunal and as a defender of the bond. He was incardinated into the Brooklyn diocese in 2001.



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500 Catholics gather to support San Francisco archbishop


SAN FRANCISCO — More than 500 people gathered for a family picnic at a San Francisco park May 16 to show support for Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone, who has faced a barrage of criticism from some Catholics, civic leaders and the media over proposed morality clauses for Catholic school teacher contracts and other policies.

“The Catholic Church has been under a coordinated attack from the power structure of San Francisco for at least the last 10 years,” said Eva Muntean, who helped organize a group called San Francisco Catholics, which sponsored the event at the city’s Sue Bierman Park.

“The attack has come to a head with the efforts of Archbishop Cordileone to ensure fidelity to the faith in his Catholic high schools under his jurisdiction,” she told Catholic News Service in a May 18 email.

Muntean is co-chair of the annual Walk for Life West Coast, the largest pro-life gathering on the West Coast. Held in San Francisco since 2005, the walk has grown from 7,000 participants to more than 50,000.

The San Francisco Catholics group and a website, SFCatholics.org, were launched in support of the San Francisco archbishop April 16, the same day a full-page advertisement appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle urging Pope Francis to oust Archbishop Cordileone.

“When people calling themselves Catholic, teachers, students and parents of students attacked the archbishop for nothing more than insisting on fidelity to the church, we knew we had to stand up. Jesus demanded of those who follow him a total commitment,” Muntean told CNS. “The followers of Christ don’t get to pick and choose what revealed truths we will follow based on our opinions of the day.”

The San Francisco archdiocese is adding detailed statements of Catholic teaching on sexual morality and religious practice to the faculty and staff handbooks of archdiocesan high schools to take effect in the 2015-16 school year. The statements cover church teaching on abortion, same-sex marriage, artificial contraception, and other tenets of the faith.

The handbook and contract changes reiterate more strongly what archdiocesan officials say is the responsibility of teachers and staff not to contradict Catholic teaching in school and in their public lives.

The Catholic Church upholds the traditional definition of marriage between one man and one woman and says that any sexual activity outside of marriage is sinful. The church also teaches that homosexual attraction itself is not sinful and that homosexual people “must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity.”

The Chronicle ad that appeared April 16 was signed by more than 100 local Catholics and took the form of an open letter to Pope Francis, asking him to replace the archbishop with “a leader true to our values and your namesake.”

The letter claimed the archbishop has “fostered an atmosphere of division and intolerance,” saying he “coerces educators and staff of our Catholic high schools to accept a morality code which violates individual consciences as well as California labor laws.”

In response, the San Francisco archdiocese called the ad “a misrepresentation of Catholic teaching.”

It said in a statement the ad also was “a misrepresentation of the nature of the teacher contract, and a misrepresentation of the spirit of the archbishop. The greatest misrepresentation of all is that the signers presume to speak for the Catholic community of San Francisco. They do not.”

Muntean told CNS that Archbishop Cordileone, Pope Francis “and the entire church have to know that faithful Catholics are behind him, support him and are ready to go to the mat for him. … (We) are saying that Catholic schools must teach in accordance with the Catholic Church.”

She added, “As many have pointed out, the whole church in America is watching what is happening here.”


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Church needs women’s voices, input, experiences, pope tells religious

May 18th, 2015 Posted in Featured, National News Tags: ,


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Women can be appointed heads of some offices of the Roman Curia, Pope Francis said, but that will not be enough to “recover the role” women should have in the Catholic Church.

“Women should be promoted,” he said May 16 during an audience with an international group of men and women religious working in the Diocese of Rome. But assigning a certain number of women to leadership positions is “simply functionalism,” he said. Read more »

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Reaction mixed to Tsarnaev death sentence in Boston Marathon bombing


Catholic News Service


WASHINGTON (CNS) — Reaction was mixed to the May 15 jury sentencing of death for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev for his role in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.


Tsarnaev had been convicted April 8 of all 30 counts lodged against him in the bombing, which killed three people and injured hundreds. Of those 30 counts, 17 carried the death penalty, and jurors imposed the death sentence on six of those — all in connection with placing a bomb on Boylston Street along the marathon route. Read more »

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LCWR goes on with ‘normal life’ after mandate ends, official says


Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON — The president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious said the organization is pleased to be “going on with our normal life, so to speak,” now that the Vatican’s mandate to reform the group has concluded.

Sister Sharon Holland told Catholic News Service that the leaders of the organization and Vatican officials reached agreement on several key issues under a mandate for reform issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in an atmosphere that promoted understanding and respect.

The mandate emerged from a doctrinal assessment by congregation representatives that began in 2009.

“The whole experience has allowed us to see the fruitfulness of a process that was carried out in a sort of contemplative way,” said Sister Sharon, vice president of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Monroe, Michigan. “It takes time to be quiet, to pray and reflect. We’ve seen both the power and the potential of respectful honest dialogue. We hope that we’ve all learned a good deal about the importance of listening well.

“Hopefully we’ve both experienced and shown the possibility of dealing with tension or misunderstanding or difficulties in a way that helps resolve, rather than allowing them to develop into polarization,” she added.

Sister Sharon’s comments came a month after the April 16 announcement at the Vatican that the reform process had successfully concluded. The announcement at the Vatican came the same day LCWR officers met with Pope Francis at his office for 50 minutes discussing his apostolic exhortation, “The Joy of the Gospel.”

Both parties released a two-page Joint Final Report the same day that outlined several reform steps already completed or that were to be undertaken by LCWR. Both also agreed to a 30-day moratorium for comment.

No immediate word was released by the Vatican May 15.

In a statement posted on the LCWR website May 15, the organization’s leadership said that when the findings of the assessment were issued in 2012, its board of directors decided to place all discussions in a context of communal contemplative prayer in order to discern how best to respond.

The statement was issued by Sister Sharon as president; Sister Marcia Allen, a member of the Congregation of St. Joseph, president-elect; Sister Carol Zinn, a Sister of St. Joseph, past president; and Holy Cross Sister Joan Marie Steadman, executive director.

The assessment of LCWR, whose 1,500 members represent 80 percent of the 57,000 women religious in the United States, was initiated after complaints were lodged by unnamed U.S. Catholic leaders.

Led by Archbishop Leonard P. Blair of Hartford, Connecticut, the assessment took three years to complete. Citing “serious doctrinal problems which affect many in consecrated life,” the Vatican announced a major reform of the conference in 2012 to ensure their fidelity to Catholic teaching in areas including abortion, euthanasia, women’s ordination and homosexuality.

Archbishop J. Peter Sartain of Seattle was appointed to oversee the reform. Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois, and Archbishop Blair were named to assist him.

Three years of what Sister Sharon called “intensive dialogue” with the congregation and the three bishops followed along with annual meetings with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Faith, which oversees religious life.

The LCWR leadership in its statement said all interactions with the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith the U.S. prelates “were always conducted in a spirit of prayer and openness.”

The leadership team credited Archbishop Sartain for his “sincerity and integrity” for encouraging the organization to continue in dialogue over the findings of the assessment.

“We engaged in long and challenging exchanges with these officials about our understandings of and perspectives on critical matters of faith and its practice, religious life and its mission, and the role of a leadership conference of religious,” the statement said. “We believe that because these exchanges were carried out in an atmosphere of mutual respect, we were brought to deeper understandings of one another. We gained insights into the experiences and perspectives of these church leaders, and felt that our experiences and perspectives were heard and valued.”

The statement also said that preparation for meetings with church officials was time consuming and “at times difficult.”

“The choice to stay at the table and continue dialogue around issues of profound importance to us as U.S. women religious had its costs. The process was made more difficult because of the ambiguity over the origin of the concerns raised in the doctrinal assessment report that seemed not to have basis in the reality of LCWR’s work. The journey in this unchartered territory at times was dark and a positive outcome seemed remote,” the LCWR leadership said.

The Joint Final Report outlined several steps that had already been completed or that were to be undertaken by LCWR. They included a change in one of the organization’s governing statutes, an agreement that its publications will be reviewed to “ensure theological accuracy,” and that programs sponsored by the conference and speakers chosen for its events will be expected to reflect church teaching.

In addition, the report said the bishops and LCWR leaders had “clarifying and fruitful” conversations about “the importance of the celebration of the Eucharist; the place of the Liturgy of the Hours in religious communities; the centrality of a communal process of contemplative prayer practiced at LCWR assemblies and other gatherings; the relationship between LCWR and other organizations; and the essential understanding of LCWR as an instrument of ecclesial communion.”

Sister Sharon explained that some of the concerns raised by the Vatican were being addressed by LCWR even as the discussions continued.

For example, she cited review of the organization’s publication as a positive step because “we want the highest quality of publication we can have.”

“I’m very hopeful for our relations going forward,” she said. “We’re all trying to build community with the church and one another. That’s the hope.”

The LCWR officials’ statement concluded by saying that they hoped the positive outcome of the assessment and mandate will lead to “additional spaces within the Catholic Church where the church leadership and membership can speak together regularly about the critical matters before us.”

“The collective exploration of the meaning and application of key theological, spiritual, social, moral and ethical concepts must be an ongoing effort for all of us in the world today,” especially in a period of change in a world “marked by polarities and intolerance of difference,” the statement said.

Sister Sharon told CNS the reform effort and its outcome will be discussed at LCWR’s annual assembly in Houston Aug. 11-15.

LCWR’s full statement is online at http://bit.ly/1EKah4d.


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Survey shows increase in Americans who aren’t part of any religion — 12 percent of U.S. adults are former Catholics


Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON — A major study of the religious landscape of the United States shows a continuing decline in the number of people who consider themselves part of any religion, with the largest shift occurring among the “millennial” generation.

The Pew Research Center survey of 35,000 people, conducted in 2014, found that the percentage of Americans who identify themselves as Christians declined by 8 percentage points since the last religious landscape survey in 2007. The first data from the survey, released May 12, dealt primarily with religious affiliation. Future reports will address other parts of the survey, such as religious beliefs and practices.

A Pew Survey has found that the percentage of Americans who call themselves Christians has declined. (CNS file/Sam Oldenburg/Catholic Courier)

A Pew Survey has found that the percentage of Americans who call themselves Christians has declined. (CNS file/Sam Oldenburg/Catholic Courier)

The phenomena of people changing religions also has become more pronounced, the survey found, and said that is especially true for people who were raised Catholic.

“Nearly one-third of American adults (31.7 percent) say they were raised Catholic,” the report said. “Among that group, fully 41 percent no longer identify with Catholicism. This means that 12.9 percent of American adults are former Catholics, while just 2 percent of U.S. adults have converted to Catholicism from another religious tradition. No other religious group in the survey has such a lopsided ratio of losses to gains.”

The report said the number of people who define themselves as religiously unaffiliated changed from 16 percent in 2007 to 23 percent in 2014.

Among those, the 51 million Catholics represents a decrease of about 3 million, or from 24 percent of the population to 21 percent. The study noted that the figure might be somewhat explained by the statistical margin of error, and could be as little as a decline of 1 million people.

It also added that Catholics’ percentage share of the population has remained relatively stable over decades, in comparison to Protestants, who have steadily declined.

A quibble with Pew’s numbers on Catholics was posted by Mark Gray, who studies Catholics for the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University. Gray said Pew’s figures for Catholics don’t reflect what other polls by Gallup, Public Religion Research Institute and the General Social Survey have found. Those consistently find between 21 percent and 26 percent of the U.S. population is Catholic, Gray said in a post on CARA’s “1964” blog.

Catholics are represented strongly among immigrants, however, the survey said. About 15 percent of those surveyed were born outside the U.S., and two thirds of those are Christians, including 39 percent who are Catholic. About 10 percent of immigrants said they belong to a non-Christian faith, including Islam or Hinduism.

However, among millennials, the survey showed sharp differences in the percentage of people who say they’re Catholic, in comparison to older generations. In the three older generations the survey considered, 20-23 percent of adults said they are Catholics. Among millennials, the percentage was 16 percent. Pew counted as millennials those who were born between the early 1980s and the mid-1990s.

Pew also considered how the people who say they have no religious affiliation define their beliefs. Between the surveys in 2007 and 2014, the number of “unaffiliated” people who say they are atheist or agnostic grew from 25 percent to 31 percent. Those who said religion is unimportant their lives also increased slightly.

Religions are also becoming more ethnically and racially diverse, the survey said.

Minorities now account for 41 percent of Catholics, it found, up from 35 percent in 2007. Among evangelical Protestants the increase was 24 percent, up from 19 percent seven years earlier, and 14 percent for mainline Protestants, up from 9 percent in 2007.

Religious intermarriage was found to be more common. The survey said 39 percent of people who said they had married since 2010 are in religiously mixed marriages, compared to 19 percent of those who married before 1960.

Other findings of the survey:

  • The state with the highest percentage of Catholics is Rhode Island, with 42 percent. Other states on the high end include: Massachusetts, New Jersey and New Mexico, each with 34 percent, and Connecticut, with 33 percent. These states each have 25 percent Catholics or more: California, Illinois, Louisiana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, North Dakota and Wisconsin.

On the low end, Mississippi has the fewest Catholics, at 4 percent, Utah has 5 percent and West Virginia has 6 percent. Each of these states has fewer than 10 percent Catholics: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, North Carolina and Oklahoma.

  • The age group with the most Catholics remained the same in the seven years between studies, but the percentages shifted a bit. The largest number of Catholics are still in the 30-49 age range, but now that age group makes up 33 percent of Catholics, compared to 41 percent in 2007. Now 20 percent of Catholics are over 65, compared with 16 percent seven years ago. The number of 18- to 29-year-old Catholics is about the same, 17 percent; it was 18 percent in 2007. And the percentage between ages 50 and 60 increased to 29 percent, up from 24 percent.
  • Race and ethnic composition among Catholics changed most significantly in the percentages of whites and Latinos. In 2007, 65 percent were white and 29 percent Latino. In 2014, 59 percent were white and 34 percent Latino. In 2007, 2 to 3 percent of Catholics were and still are Asian, black or “other/mixed.”
  • A higher percentage of Catholics in 2014 were lower income. In 2007, 31 percent of Catholics earned less than $30,000 a year, and 30 percent earned between $50,000 and $99,999. In 2014, 36 percent of Catholics earned less than $30,000 and 26 percent earned between $50,000 and $99,999. The other income categories remained about the same, with 19 percent of Catholics earning more than $100,000 and a similar percentage earning between $30,000 and $49,999.
  • Fewer Catholic adults are married. In 2007, 58 percent of Catholics said they were married; in 2014, 52 percent were married. Slightly more Catholics said they are divorced, 12 percent in 2014, up from 10 percent in 2007. The number of those never married was 21 percent, up from 17 percent.


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Philadelphia archbishop asks prayers for victims of Amtrak derailment

May 13th, 2015 Posted in National News


PHILADELPHIA — Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput May 13 urged prayers for all affected by the Amtrak train derailment in the city’s Port Richmond neighborhood that left at least six people dead and injured more than 200 others. Read more »

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Bishops call for dismantling U.S. immigrant detention system — ‘Goes against values of our nation’


Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON — A scathing new report on the conditions under which immigrants are detained concludes with the U.S. bishops’ recommendation that the current system be dismantled and replaced with less drastic approaches for keeping track of people whose immigration cases are pending.

Religious leaders, including Catholic and Lutheran bishops, met outside St. Joseph Church in Pearsall, Texas, March 27. After visit to a nearby detention facility, After visit to a nearby detention facility, the group called on U.S. government to halt the practice of family detention and to adopt humane alternatives. (CNS photo/Jordan McMorrough, Today's Catholic)

Religious leaders, including Catholic and Lutheran bishops, met outside St. Joseph Church in Pearsall, Texas, March 27. After visit to a nearby detention facility, After visit to a nearby detention facility, the group called on U.S. government to halt the practice of family detention and to adopt humane alternatives. (CNS photo/Jordan McMorrough, Today’s Catholic)

Drawing on international law, analyses of who is detained, how the mostly for-profit prison industry manages detention and bishops’ personal experiences with people in detention, the report called instead for more supervised release, better case management and community support programs to ensure that people show up for court appearances or deportation orders.

The report released May 11, “Unlocking Human Dignity: A Plan to Transform the U.S. Immigrant Detention System,” was a joint project of the Migration and Refugee Services of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Center for Migration Studies, a Catholic migration policy think tank.

In a teleconference about the report that same day, two bishops said they expect Pope Francis will address the topic when he visits the United States in September. Among the events on the pope’s agenda are speeches to a joint meeting of Congress and the United Nations.

“The pope will certainly address this issue,” said Auxiliary Bishop Eusebio L. Elizondo of Seattle, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration. The pope has spoken several times about immigrants who are drowning as they try to cross the Mediterranean to reach Italy and Greece, he noted. The pope is also concerned about the situations people are forced to live in after they flee famine or war in their own countries, he said.

“I’d be surprised if Holy Father did not address this. It is close to his heart,” said Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn, New York, a member of the migration committee and chairman of the Center for Migration Studies.

The bishops said the report outlines unacceptable detention practices, especially for mothers and children.

Bishop Elizondo said the use of detention for entire families must end and that the detention system “goes against the values of our nation.”

Bishop DiMarzio said the vast expansion of immigrant detention centers, up to 250 nationwide, which cost $1.7 billion to maintain, amounts to corporations making money out of “the misery of other human beings.”

“No one should be locked up,” he said. “There are more effective and cheaper ways to ensure court appearances.”

Don Kerwin, executive director of the Center for Migration Studies, said the report’s main findings include replacing the detention centers with different types of supervision — such as ankle bracelet monitoring and other systems for checking in — and putting immigrants in the least restrictive settings.

While efforts in the Obama administration to reform the immigrant detention system have had some success, Kerwin said, it’s not enough and the number of people in detention has continued to rise.

The report described the current backlog of immigration cases in the federal court system, typically 18 months, and the conditions under which tens of thousands of people are being held. Meanwhile, the immigration court system is severely underfunded, which means immigrant detainees, most of whom do not have criminal records and are charged only with civil violations of immigration law, spend that time in prisonlike conditions, the report noted.

Among the report’s findings and recommendations:

  • Immigrants awaiting adjudication of their cases, ranging from applications for asylum to charges of being in the country illegally, are held in more restrictive prisonlike situations, with less recourse to judicial review, than some people who have been convicted of crimes. “No other U.S. legal system permits a deprivation of liberty without review and oversight by an independent judiciary,” it said.
  • Detention has been proven to not be an effective deterrent to illegal immigration and “the vast majority of families would appear for removal proceedings with appropriate orientation, supervision and community support.”
  • Congress should repeal its mandatory detention requirements for all but “the most egregious criminal and national security cases. U.S. mandatory detention laws cover lawful permanent residents, asylum-seekers, petty offenders, and persons with U.S. families and other enduring ties to the United States.” This prevents the release of people who have family ties, jobs and housing which tie them to the community.
  • The report said people charged with immigration-related crimes have the highest rate of being jailed pre-trial of all criminal defendants, including those accused of violent crimes and weapons charges.
  • “Private corporations should have more limited, regulated and modest role in a shrinking detention system.”

The report noted that the companies running immigrant detention centers under contract with the government reported revenues in the billions of dollars in 2014. Those companies have strong lobbying efforts including those encouraging “draconian immigration enforcement laws (like Arizona’s S.B. 1070) that have been opposed by the Obama administration and for funding for services that government agencies do not need or want.”

Carol Zimmermann contributed to this report.


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Cardinal Dolan calls for Catholics and Jews to build unity through God


Catholic News Service

NEW YORK — Catholics and Jews risk losing their hard-won interfaith amity if they take ecumenism for granted and fail to pass it along to a new generation of seminarians and laity, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York said in an address at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America.

The cardinal spoke May 6 about 50 years of substantive interactions that began with “Nostra Aetate” (“In Our Time”), the Second Vatican Council’s declaration on relations with non-Christian religions promulgated by Blessed Paul VI in 1965.

Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York is kissed by Rabbi Burton L. Visotzky, a professor at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in New York City, after Cardinal Dolan gave the annual John Paul II Center Lecture for Interreligious Understanding at the seminary May 6. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)

Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York is kissed by Rabbi Burton L. Visotzky, a professor at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in New York City, after Cardinal Dolan gave the annual John Paul II Center Lecture for Interreligious Understanding at the seminary May 6. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)

He told the audience at the annual John Paul II Center Lecture for Interreligious Understanding that St. John Paul II realized the dream of Nostra Aetate by trusting the Jewish community enough to invite it to become an ally in “the number one priority of his pontificate, to recover the primacy of the spiritual.”

The late pope believed, Cardinal Dolan said, “the most mortal toxin affecting the human project was the denial of God’s sovereignty, even his existence.” St. John Paul believed the Jews were the church’s most natural ally and shared his sense of urgency, he said.

As a young man in Poland, Karol Wojtyla, the future pope, “lost everything by the time he was in his early 20s,” and mourned the wartime disappearance of friends and the enforced absence of God from the country’s public expression, Cardinal Dolan explained. Catholics and Jews survived the World War II and postwar communism by relying on the wisdom of the psalms, specifically, “Only in God is my soul at rest,” he said.

“John Paul II saw today’s children of Abraham, Isaac, Joseph, Moses, David and the prophets as essential to recovery of the primacy of the divine in a world drugged to forget its Lord,” the cardinal said.

“Nostra Aetate tells us that all of us comprise a single community and have a single origin” and share a single goal, which is a union with God, he said.

Catholics and Jews have in common, he continued, an understanding of the dignity of the human person, the sanctity of every human life, an allegiance to God’s law, a solidarity and a mutual world view. “Human dignity in life is enhanced, not shackled, when we proclaim, ‘We want God,’” as crowds did during St. John Paul’s first visit to Poland after he became pope, the cardinal added.

Nostra Aetate inspired St. John Paul, Cardinal Dolan said, not just to tolerate Jews or have theological discussions with them, but to invite a “providential and urgent partnership flowing from a mutual faith, love and biblical roots, where Jews become like their prophets of old and Catholics like the Twelve Apostles, calling the world away from the worship of false gods, false idols, into the arms of the one true, eternal God who persistently and passionately loves us.”

In remarks to the audience, Arnold M. Eisen, Jewish Theological Seminary chancellor, said at a time when some use religion as a justification for killing others, Nostra Aetate and the seminary continue to demand that “religious voices in service of interreligious respect have a responsibility to be as loud and persistent as those that seek to drown out this commitment with bombs or bullets.”

Citing 20th-century Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, Eisen said Jews and Christians need one another to face the challenges and expectations of a living God.

Such good relations between Catholics and Jews would not have been possible before the release of Nostra Aetate, Cardinal Dolan said, yet most Catholics do not remember that time. He said bishops and others worry that seminarians, for example, raised in a climate where “ecumenism and interfaith cooperation was taken for granted,” may think “you don’t have to work at it because it’s just there and it’s going to stay.”

“But we all know the hard way. If it’s not something you constantly work at and constantly remind yourself of, it will quickly dissipate.”

A strong effort to maintain good relations is “particularly incumbent on Catholics and Jews in the United States, because we live in a laboratory of ecumenical and interfaith amity. We really take it for granted and we know it works,” Cardinal Dolan said.

He said Pope Benedict XVI in particular insisted that the letter and spirit of Nostra Aetate be included both in catechetical materials for laypeople and seminary studies.

Cardinal Dolan also said Pope Francis is eager to learn about Americans during his upcoming visit but is a “little nervous” because he has never been to the U.S. and is “very shy about not knowing conversational English.”

He said a substantive interreligious meeting will be a high point of the pope’s time in New York, and that the pope told him and Archbishop Bernardito Auza, the Vatican’s permanent representative to the United Nations, such a visit would be an essential element of his trip.

The lecture was sponsored by the John Paul II Center for Interreligious Dialogue at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome, the Russell Berrie Foundation and the Jewish Theological Seminary of America.


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Virginia bishops urge Catholics to shift focus of death penalty debate

May 7th, 2015 Posted in National News Tags: ,


RICHMOND, Va. (CNS) — Virginia’s bishops called on Catholics in the state’s two dioceses to step up to change the debate about the use of the death penalty.

Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo of Richmond and Bishop Paul S. Loverde of Arlington said it was time to shift the conversation from who should be executed and how to execute people to why the death penalty continues to be applied, especially when other means to protect society without taking a human life exist. Read more »

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