Convovation format: part retreat, part pep-rally aimed to inspire leaders

By Carol Zimmermann
ORLANDO, Fla. (CNS) – From July 1-4 the main floor of the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Orlando was transformed into a huge parish hall with places for worship, prayer, discussion, and even coffee and doughnuts during the “Convocation of Catholic Leaders: The Joy of the Gospel in America.”

At the convocation 3,500 church leaders – men and women religious, bishops and laypeople – gathered to set a new course for the U.S. Catholic Church.
Following a retreat format, each day started and ended with group prayer. Mass was celebrated each day in the hotel ballroom, and there were plenty of scheduled times for the sacrament of reconciliation and private prayer in a large room turned into an adoration chapel.
Many of the keynote sessions took the form of pep talks encouraging delegates to share their faith boldly with the world at large and within their own families and parishes. The numerous breakout sessions provided the working aspect of the gathering: closely examining what the church is doing and where it can do more.
More than 155 bishops attended the gathering, sitting with their delegations for meals and breakout sessions. Cardinals and bishops who spoke at keynote sessions or in Mass homilies encouraged participants that this was their time, their moment, stressing the urgency to bring God’s message of love to a divided world.
At the final Mass, described as a “Mass of Sending,” Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston said the church is called to achieve great things in the face of the impossible – to unite people together by going to the peripheries of society and sharing the good news of Jesus through action rooted in faith.
“Sisters and brothers, we are in a very, very significant time in our church in this country,” said Cardinal DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and he urged the delegates to receive God’s grace for the work ahead.
None of the homilists or keynote speakers sugarcoated the challenges for the modern church and more than once speakers pointed out that Catholics are leaving the church in greater numbers, particularly young adults, than those joining the church.
But as Auxiliary Bishop Robert E. Barron of Los Angeles pointed out: “The saints always loved a good fight and we should like a good fight too.”
The bishop, who addressed the crowd through a video hookup July 4, told them it was an “exciting time to be an evangelist” but that they also should pick up their game to evangelize effectively.
Throughout the convocation Pope Francis was pointed out as a model for modern Catholics to follow in inviting others, especially those on the peripheries, to Christ. Speakers also were quick to quote his 2013 apostolic exhortation, “Evangelii Gaudium” (“The Joy of the Gospel”), which lays out a vision of the church dedicated to evangelization – or missionary discipleship – in a positive way, with a focus on society’s poorest and most vulnerable, including the aged, unborn and forgotten.
Two homilies during the convocation specifically quoted the pope’s admonition in “Evangelii Gaudium” that Catholics shouldn’t be “sourpusses” but should reflect joy.
Washington Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl acknowledged that Catholics are not always comfortable with the idea of evangelizing, but said they need to be willing to step out of themselves and talk with people about their faith as part of an encounter the pope speaks about.
Part of this simply involves listening to people, caring for them and leading them to Jesus, said speaker Sister Miriam James Heidland, a sister of the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity.
Delegates were repeatedly encouraged to reach out to the peripheries especially to immigrants and the poor, but also to all members of the church’s diverse family – people of all races, women and young people.
Hosffman Ospino, associate professor of theology and religious education at Boston College, said it is time for the church to start building a “language of communion” rather than dividing the church community into different groups and individually responding to those needs.
“It’s the church serving the church,” he said. “We all are the church.”
That message inspired Sister Kathleen Burton, a Sister of St. Joseph who is co-director of the Office of Faith Formation, Family Life and Lay Ministry Formation in the Diocese of Camden, New Jersey, who said: “The walls need to come down.”
“There’s a renewed sense of evangelization and re-evangelization,” the delegate told Catholic News Service. “We’re being challenged that we don’t wait for people to come to us, but we’ve got to go out to them.”
For many delegates, seeing the church’s diversity – Latinos, African-Americans and Africans, Native Americans, and Asians from across the continent at the convocation – was an inspiring sight, helping them better understand the idea of the church as family.
Vanessa Griffin Campbell, director of the Office of Ministry to African American Catholics in the Diocese of Cleveland, said the key to embracing diversity and going to the peripheries will be teamwork among laypeople, clergy and diocesan staff.
The church should “not just open the doors on Sunday,” she said, “but make sure our doors are open Sunday to Sunday.”
At the end of the closing Mass, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States, who attended all four days of the convocation, congratulated attendees for the invigorating discussion.
He called it a “kairos,” or opportune moment, in the life of the U.S. church and said he would tell Pope Francis: “the Spirit is alive in the church in the United States.”
“I will tell him of the commitment of many missionary disciples and their love for the church,” he added.
(See related stories on pages 3 and 6. Contributing to this report was Dennis Sadowski in Orlando.)

Pope envisions Cardinals as grandfathers

By Cindy Wooden
VATICAN LETTER (CNS) – The Catholic Church is not a “gerontocracy” ruled by old men, 80-year-old Pope Francis said; “we aren’t old men, we are grandfathers.”
“We are grandfathers called to dream and to give our dreams to the young people of today. They need it so that from our dreams, they can draw the strength to prophesy and carry out their task,” the pope told about 50 members of the College of Cardinals.
Celebrating the 25th anniversary of his ordination as a bishop June 27, Pope Francis concelebrated Mass in the Pauline Chapel of the Apostolic Palace.
Most of the cardinals present were officials of the Roman Curia or retired curial officials living in Rome. Many of them needed assistance up and down the small steps to the altar at Communion time.
The Mass was celebrated the day before Pope Francis was to create five new cardinals: Archbishop Jean Zerbo of Bamako, Mali, 73; Archbishop Juan Jose Omella of Barcelona, Spain, 71; Bishop Anders Arborelius of Stockholm, Sweden, 67; Bishop Louis-Marie Ling Mangkhanekhoun, apostolic vicar of Pakse, Laos, 73; and Auxiliary Bishop Gregorio Rosa Chavez of San Salvador, El Salvador, 74.
With an average age of 71.6 years, the new cardinals would lower by two months the average age of the entire College of Cardinals. However, the new members would increase slightly the average age of the cardinal electors, the group of those under the age of 80 and eligible to vote in a conclave to elect a new pope.
On the day of the pope’s anniversary Mass, the average age of the 116 cardinal electors was 71 years, four months and 15 days; the five new members would raise the average by 11 days.
Before the new members were added, the entire College of Cardinals had 220 members and an average age of 78 years, five months and 23 days. The five new members would lower the average to 78 years, three months and one day.
None of the new cardinals, though, are as old as the patriarch Abraham was when God called him to leave his home and set out for a new land.
The Bible says Abraham was 75 years old when he got the call, the pope noted at his anniversary Mass. “He was more or less our age. He was about to retire.”
At 75, “with the weight of old age, that old age that brings aches, illness,” Abraham heard God call him “as if he were a scout,” the pope said. God tells him, “Go. Look. And hope.”
God says the same thing to the pope and the cardinals, he said. “He tells us that now is not the time to shut down our lives or to end our stories.”
Instead, the pope told the cardinals, God continues to call each of them to keep moving forward and continues to give each of them a mission.
And every mission, he said, involves the three imperatives God gave Abraham: “Get up. Look. Hope.”
God tells Abraham, “Get up. Walk. Don’t stay still. You have a task, a mission, and you must carry it out walking. Don’t stay seated,” the pope said.
Abraham’s tent is a key symbol in the story, he said. The only thing Abraham built solidly was an altar “to adore the one who ordered him to get up and to set out.” His tent was his mobile shelter.
“Someone who does not like us would say that we are the gerontocracy of the church,” the pope told the cardinals. “He doesn’t understand what he is saying.”
The cardinals are not just old men, but are grandfathers in the church, the pope said. “If we don’t feel like we are, we must ask for that grace.”
As grandfathers, the cardinals should know that their grandchildren are watching them and looking to them, he continued. They must help young people find meaning in their lives by sharing their experiences.
For that to happen, the pope said, the cardinals cannot be focused on “the melancholy of our story,” but must be dreamers who continue to look to the future with hope, knowing that God continues to act in human history.    
(Follow Wooden on Twitter: @Cindy_Wooden.)

Behind hatred, violence: an unloved heart

By Junno Arocho Esteves
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Violence and hatred often are signs that a person is unhappy and feels unloved and unwanted, Pope Francis said.
In today’s world, people – especially children and youths – often feel that unless “we are strong, attractive and beautiful, no one will care about us,” the pope said June 14 during his weekly general audience.
“When an adolescent is not or does not feel loved, violence can arise. Behind so many forms of social hate and hooliganism, there is often a heart that has not been recognized,” he said.
Despite a heat wave that brought temperatures close to 90 degrees, an estimated 12,000 pilgrims donning colorful hats and umbrellas cheered and waved as the pope entered St. Peter’s Square.
Pope Francis took a moment to greet the sick who were watching the audience from indoors because of the hot Roman weather.
“They are in the Paul VI hall and we are here,” the pope told the crowd in the square. “But we are all together; we are connected by the Holy Spirit who always unites us.”
In his talk, the pope focused on the certainty of hope that comes from feeling loved as children of God.
When men and women do not feel loved, he said, they run the risk of succumbing to the “awful slavery” of believing that love is based solely on one’s appearance or merits.
“Imagine a world where everyone begs for reasons to attract the attention of others and no one is willing to love another person freely,” he said. “It seems like a human world but, in reality, it is a hell.”
Feelings of loneliness, he added, often lead to “man’s many narcissisms” and can be conquered only by an “experience of love that has been given and received.”
God, who never needs a reason to love his children, has that kind of unconditional love for each person, the pope said. “God does not even bind his benevolence to our conversion; if anything that is a consequence of God’s love.”
Recalling his time as archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina, the pope said he saw God’s unconditional love reflected on the faces of mothers who went to the local prison to visit their children.
“I remember so many mothers in my diocese who would get in line to enter the prison. So many mothers who were not ashamed. Their child was in prison, but it was their child and they suffered so many humiliations, “the pope recalled.
“Only this love of a mother and father can help us understand God’s love,” he said, adding that “no sin, no wrong choice can ever erase it.”
Departing from his prepared remarks, Pope Francis asked the crowd, “What is the medicine that can change an unhappy person?”
“Love!” the crowd exclaimed.
“Very good, very good,” the pope said. Christian hope comes from knowing “God the father who loves us as we are. He always loves us, everyone, good and bad.”
    (Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.)

La pobreza requiere acción, no palabras, dice el papa

By Carol Glatz
CIUDAD DEL VATICANO (CNS) –  La gente no debe ser indiferente, ni faltar de responder ante la creciente pobreza en el mundo mientras una minoría privilegiada acumula “riqueza ostentosa”, dijo el papa Francisco.
    Dios creó el cielo y la tierra para todos; son los hombres, por desgracia, quienes han levantado fronteras, muros y vallas, traicionando el don original destinado a la humanidad sin exclusión alguna,” dijo el papa en un mensaje para la primera Jornada Mundial de los Pobres.
    La recién establecida conmemoración y el periodo de reflexión y acción que sigue tienen el propósito de ayudar a los cristianos a desarrollar y mantener un estilo de vida más consistente y sincero cimentado en el compartir, en la simplicidad, y las verdades esenciales del Evangelio, dijo el papa en un mensaje emitido el 13 de junio, día de la fiesta de San Antonio de Padua.

People receive food rations in 2014 at a community soup kitchen in a Buenos Aires, Argentina. World Day of the Poor, to be celebrated Nov. 19 this year, will focus on the apostle John’s call to love “not with words, but with deeds.” (CNS photo/Enrique Marcarian, Reuters) See POPE-POOR-MESSAGE June 13, 2017.

La Jornada Mundial de los Pobres, que será observada cada año el domingo 33 del tiempo ordinario, se observará este año el 19 de noviembre y se enfocará en el llamado del apóstol Juan de amar “no de palabra, sino con obras”.
Hay muchas formas de pobreza material y espiritual que envenenan los corazones de la gente y perjudican su dignidad, dijo el papa en su mensaje, y “se debe responder con una nueva visión de la vida y de la sociedad”. Muy a menudo los cristianos han asumido una “mentalidad mundana” y han olvidado mantener su vista y sus metas enfocadas en Cristo, quien está presente en los que son frágiles y vulnerables.
“La pobreza tiene el rostro de mujeres, hombres y niños explotados por viles intereses, pisoteados por la lógica perversa del poder y el dinero”, él dijo. “Qué lista inacabable y cruel nos resulta cuando consideramos la pobreza como fruto de la injusticia social, la miseria moral, la codicia de unos pocos y la indiferencia generalizada”.
“Hoy en día, desafortunadamente, mientras emerge cada vez más la riqueza descarada que se acumula en las manos de unos pocos privilegiados, con frecuencia acompañada de la ilegalidad y la explotación ofensiva de la dignidad humana, escandaliza la propagación de la pobreza en grandes sectores de la sociedad entera”, dijo el papa. “Ante este escenario, no se puede permanecer inactivos, ni tampoco resignados”.
Los cristianos tienen que acercarse a los pobres como Cristo lo hizo y mandó, dijo el papa. Los pobres, de hecho, “no son un problema, sino un recurso” rico en dignidad y en los dones dados por Dios que pueden ayudar a los cristianos a entender la verdad esencial del Evangelio. “Si deseamos ofrecer nuestra aportación efectiva al cambio de la historia, generando un desarrollo real, es necesario que escuchemos el grito de los pobres y nos comprometamos a sacarlos de su situación de marginación”, escribió el papa en su mensaje.
Días antes que terminara el Jubileo Extraordinario de la Misericordia, el papa Francisco habló de su deseo de tener un día especial dedicado a los pobres.
El arzobispo Rino Fisichella, presidente del Pontificio Consejo para la Promoción de la Nueva Evangelización, le dijo a reporteros que el papa veía el día como una manera para que toda la iglesia piense en el sentido de la pobreza del Evangelio –  buscando y recibiendo solamente lo esencial –  y entonces actúe y comparta concretamente el tesoro esencial del amor y la misericordia de Dios.
Las iglesias locales deben dedicar la semana antes de la Jornada Mundial de los Pobres a iniciativas creativas que fomenten el encuentro, la amistad, la solidaridad y la ayuda concreta, dice el mensaje del papa. El consejo pontificio publicará en septiembre una guía pastoral para ayudar a las parroquias en su planificación, dijo el arzobispo.
El papa celebrará Misa en la Basílica de San Pedro el 19 de noviembre con los pobres y los voluntarios y después ofrecerá almuerzo para “por lo menos 500 pobres” en la sala de audiencias Pablo VI del Vaticano, dijo el arzobispo Fisichella, añadiendo que muchas iglesias y organizaciones católicas de Roma estarían ofreciendo gestos similares de una comida compartida.

Archbishop Gregory asks survivors for forgiveness

(Editor’s note: Bishop Joseph Kopacz participated in this Mass during the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishop’s gathering. See related stories on pages 1 and 3.)
WASHINGTON – As they began the spring general assembly, bishops from across the U.S. gathered June 14 at Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis for a Mass of Prayer and Penance for survivors of sexual abuse within the Church. The Mass was held in response to a call from Pope Francis for all episcopal conferences across the world to have a Day of Prayer and Penance for victims of sexual abuse within the Church.
The bishops gathered together in solidarity to pray for victims and to acknowledge the pain caused by the failures of the Church in the past. The Mass marked the opening for the June plenary assembly of bishops held June 14-15 in Indianapolis.
Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, was the principal celebrant.

Atlanta Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory delivers the homily during Mass June 14 at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis during the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ annual spring assembly. (CNS photo/Sean Gallagher, The Criterion)

Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory, of Atlanta, and former president of the USCCB, was the homilist.
Following is the full text of Archbishop Gregory’s homily.
In the very same chapter of his Gospel in which St. Matthew presents his rendition of the Beatitudes, Jesus tells us that He has not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it. Clearly, the Beatitudes are in fact a startling new edition of God’s Law. Jesus is Himself both the new law and the fulfillment of the old law. He calls us to see with new eyes how to live in a world so continually filled with sorrow, injustice and violence and how important it is to acknowledge our own share in causing or compounding the sorrows, suffering and violence that often seem to surround us.
We bishops have learned a great deal about the sorrow and pain of those we love and serve, even as we have to acknowledge humbly, publicly and pitifully our share in bringing much of that pain to bear. We feel, we see, we live with, as they do in much greater measure, the impact of behaviors, responses and revelations that have no place in Matthew’s Gospel, in the Beatitudes, or in the narrative of Jesus’ promise to fulfill God’s Law. And yet only there, by His Grace and His unwavering example, can we begin to learn to heal and to reconcile — to bind the wounds and to assuage the sorrow. We recognize this even as Paul reminds us that we have been qualified for this ministry only by God’s purpose and designation.
Pope Francis has summoned us as bishops to find occasions and opportunities to pray earnestly for God’s grace to bring about the healing and the reconciliation of those who have been harmed in this tragedy that has hurt far too many of His people and far too much of His Church. The Holy Father has called us respectfully to acknowledge our own share in causing the pain that so many are still enduring.
At this Mass, we bishops humbly and sincerely ask for the forgiveness of those who have been harmed, scandalized or dispirited by events that, even if they happened many years ago, remain ongoing sources of anguish for them and for those who love them. We humbly seek forgiveness from the faith-filled people of our Church and from our society at-large — and especially from those whose lives may have been devastated by our failure to care adequately for the little ones entrusted to us and for any decision that we made or should have made that exacerbated the sorrow and heartache that the entire Church has felt and continues to feel — for what we have done, and for what we have failed to do. We can never say that we are sorry enough for the share that we have had in this tragedy of broken fidelity and trust.

Clergymen pray during Mass at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ annual spring assembly June 14 at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis. (CNS photo/Mike Krokos, The Criterion)

With hearts that are contrite we ask the forgiveness of God, our Almighty Father, under whose purpose and designation we are entrusted with this ministry, and whom we disgrace most profoundly when we fall so woefully short.
There have been many procedural and educational expressions of our commitment to reform and renewal that have been put into place in the past 15 years. They are sincere, state-of-the-art, and effective. Nevertheless, this expression of our sorrow is far more important at this time, in this place, than any administrative process or training effort, however beneficial to the Church and to the world.
While we have had many opportunities to pray in our own dioceses with survivors, their families and our people, we gather this evening as a community of bishops to pray together for the grace of healing and reconciliation that only the Lord Jesus Himself can bestow upon His Church. While there is still more, always more, that must and will be done to assure our people of our dedication and commitment to safeguarding the innocent lives of our young and vulnerable faithful, this evening we acknowledge that ultimately it must be the Lord Himself who heals and reconciles the hearts of those who live with the pain of God’s law unheeded.
For that Grace, with sincere hearts, with contrite spirits and with a renewed promise to protect, we simply pray this evening. Amen

Clergymen pray during Mass at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ annual spring assembly June 14 at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis. (CNS photo/Mike Krokos, The Criterion)

Bishops also address religious liberty, healthcare, sacramental guidelines

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) tackled a number of issues during its spring meeting in Indianapolis. Here is a brief outline of some of their actions other than the safe environment report.
• The bishops voted June 15 to make the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty a permanent standing committee. The bishops’ action came less than a week before the start of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ fifth annual Fortnight for Freedom June 21-July 4. It is a two-week period of prayer, advocacy and education on religious freedom.
• Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, New Mexico, and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace, briefed his brother bishops on the sobering topic of international persecution and human rights violations, and what his committee has been doing the prelates behalf to improve the situation. Bishop Cantu’s trips are called “solidarity visits.” His mandate as chairman “includes sharing and promoting the social teaching of the church, especially human rights and religious freedom.”  
• As the country awaits the U.S. Senate’s plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act in the coming weeks, the U.S. bishops made it clear that their efforts are focused on “ensuring the fundamental right of medical care” for all people. The Conference also reinforced its stand that the American Health Care Act passed by the U.S. House May 4 needs major reform – to provide quality health care for the “voiceless,” especially children, the elderly, the poor, immigrants and the seriously ill. “Within two weeks, we may see a federal budgetary action with potentially catastrophic effects on the lives of our people, most especially children and the elderly, the seriously ill, the immigrant and our nation’s working poor,”said Bishop George L. Thomas of Helena, Montana, in his remarks to his fellow bishops.  
• The body overwhelmingly approved revisions to the guidelines governing the celebration of sacraments for people with disabilities that take into account medical and technological developments. The revisions in the “Guidelines for the Celebration of Sacraments with Persons with Disabilities” updates a document that was adopted in 1995. The guidelines were developed as a tool to improve access to the sacraments by persons with disabilities and reduce inconsistencies in pastoral practice.

U.S. bishops urged to be vigilant, never complacent, in stopping abuse

By Catholic News Service
INDIANAPOLIS (CNS) – Francesco Cesareo, chairman of the National Review Board, urged the U.S. bishops June 14 during their spring meeting in Indianapolis to continue to keep their commitment to stopping clergy sexual abuse and supporting victims of abuse “at the forefront” of their ministry.
He said sexual abuse of minors by clergy is “not a thing of past” and stressed the bishops have to always be vigilant and be sure to not “let complacency set in” in their efforts to stop it.
The review board is a group working with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to address and prevent sexual abuse of minors in the U.S. by clergy and other church personnel.
Cesareo pointed out there was still work to be done in this area, but he also praised the bishops for what they’ve accomplished and stressed that dioceses in the United States are among the safest places for children and are also models for rest of the world.
In his report to the bishops, he presented some of the key points of the recently issued 14th annual report on diocesan compliance with the U.S. Catholic Church’s “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.”
The report – based on audits conducted between July 1, 2015, and June 30, 2016 – shows that 1,232 survivors of child sexual abuse by clergy came forward with 1,318 clerical abuse allegations in 132 Catholic dioceses and eparchies. The allegations represent reports of abuse that occurred from the 1940s to the present.
The review board chair said he was pleased with the high number of dioceses participating in the audit, noting that only two did not participate, down from six the previous year. He said all dioceses have indicated that they will participate in the next audit.
The value of participating in the audit “can’t be overemphasized,” he said.
One weak spot he noted in the audit process is the overall lack of parish participation, which he urged bishops to do something about to provide full transparency.
Cesareo, president of Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts, stressed that the review board wants to help the Catholic Church by providing tools to implement the charter and even to work on improving the charter by making it more specific.
Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, has appointed four new members to serve on the review board. The new members, announced June 14, are: Amanda Callanan, director of communications for the Claremont Institute, a California-based think tank; Suzanne Healy, victims assistance coordinator for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles from 2007-2016; Dr. Christopher McManus, who practices internal medicine and is an active member of the Northern Virginia Guild of the Catholic Medical Association; and Eileen Puglisi, former director of the Office for the Protection of Children and Young People in the Diocese of Rockville Centre, New York.
Cesareo will continue to chair the review board until his term expires in 2020.
Prior to his presentation to the bishops, Margaret Simonson, chair of the U.S. bishops’ National Advisory Council, a group of laypeople who advise the bishops, gave her report.
She said the council supported several items on the bishops’ agenda for their June 14-15 meeting, particularly discussion about religious liberty, which she said was so important in “this particular time in history.”
She also said the council supported the “Mass of Prayer and Penance” being celebrated in the early evening June 14 for survivors of sexual abuse within the church, the discussion of revised guidelines for people with disabilities and an update on the upcoming convocation for Catholic leaders taking place in Orlando, Florida, July1-4.
(Editor’s note: Bishop Joseph Kopacz has joined the committee for the protection of children. Read more about his appointment and child protection efforts in this diocese on page 3 and 16.)

Pope: make sure heart pulsates with Holy Spirit

By Carol Glatz
VATICAN CITY (CNS) –  Never speak, act or make a decision without first listening to the Holy Spirit, who moves, troubles and inspires the heart, Pope Francis advised.
A cold and calculating heart that is closed to the Holy Spirit results in a faith that is “ideological,” he said May 29 during a morning Mass in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae.
Knowing God and his commandments, and being good are not enough, the pope said. One must also receive God’s gift of the Holy Spirit and let him “trouble” the heart.
If people were to get a “spiritual electrocardiogram,” the pope asked, would it be flatlined because the heart is hardened, unmoved and emotionless or would it be pulsating with the prompting and prods of the Spirit?  
“Am I able to listen him? Am I able to ask for his inspiration before making a decision or saying something or doing something? Or is my heart serene, without emotion, an immobile heart,” much like the doctors of the law had, he asked.
“They believed in God, they knew all the commandments, but the heart was closed, immobile, they didn’t let it become troubled,” the pope said.
A Christian cannot just listen to their head and calculated reason, he said. They must learn to listen and discern what the Holy Spirit is saying to their hearts, too, “because the Holy Spirit is the master of discernment.”
“A person who does not have this movement in the heart, who doesn’t discern what is happening, is a person who has a cold faith, an ideological faith,” he said.
The pope asked people to reflect on their relationship with the Holy Spirit and pray that the Spirit guide them in the choices they make. “I ask that he give me the grace to distinguish the good from the less good because good can be distinguished from evil easily,” the pope said.
At morning Mass the next day, May 30, Pope Francis reflected on how pastors and bishops must be ready to leave their flock and follow God’s call to head somewhere completely unknown.
A real pastor, he said, knows how to let go of the church he once served because he knows he is not the protagonist or “central focus of the story.”
He must see his life as having no importance to himself, and do everything to serve God and his people “without compromise” and with courage, the pope said.
Priests and bishops must be open to and obey the Holy Spirit because “the pastor knows that he is on a journey.”
Ministers will be like Paul, who was called to leave the church at Ephesus and head to Jerusalem, where “what will happen there I do not know,” except that he had been warned hardships and trouble would await him.
Every apostle of Christ must guide his flock without compromise, being ready to leave everything behind and head into the unknown, the pope said. He always must serve the people without ever misleading or improperly using them by making them think he is the “central focus of the story.”
A pastor who does not learn to leave his post well does not have a good relationship with his flock and has formed “a bond that is not purified by the cross of Jesus,” the pope said.

Pope Francis names bishop for Pensacola-Tallahassee

By Catholic News Service
WASHINGTON (CNS) –  Pope Francis has named Holy Cross Father William A. Wack, who is a pastor in Texas, to be the bishop of Pensacola-Tallahassee.
Bishop-designate Wack, 49, has been pastor of St. Ignatius Martyr Parish in Austin, Texas, since 2009. He succeeds Bishop Gregory L. Parkes, who was named last November to head the Diocese of St. Petersburg, Florida.
The appointment was announced in Washington May 29 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
The date of Bishop-designate Wack’s episcopal ordination has not yet been determined.
“Now I know for sure that God is merciful, having called this sinner to serve in this capacity,” Bishop-designate Wack said May 29 in a statement about his appointment. “The first words which came to mind when I heard of the appointment were, ‘Lord I am not worthy … but only say the Word … .’ With joy and zeal, I accept this appointment, and I am thrilled to begin service to God’s people as a bishop.”
“While I am very sad to be leaving the parish of St. Ignatius Martyr in Austin … I couldn’t be more excited to move in and get to work here in the diocese,” he added.
He said he has always loved being a priest. “For me there is nothing higher than the privilege of celebrating the Eucharist and the other sacraments,” Bishop-designate Wack said. “Over the past 23 years I have grown tremendously in my faith, through the very mysteries I have served.”
As a Holy Cross priest, he continued, “I know of the power of the cross of Christ, and the hope that it brings to all creation. We in Holy Cross strive to be ‘educators in the faith’ wherever we go, and I am happy to continue to do this in the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee.
Bishop-designate Wack added: “While I embrace a leadership position in the church once again, I believe that I stand to learn much from the very people I will serve. We are all God’s children, for we have been given God’s Spirit. It is our sacred duty to celebrate and practice our faith together, and to make God known, loved and served in all that we do.”
“Father Wack is an exemplary priest who is well respected by his brother priests and loved by those he serves,” Bishop Joe S. Vasquez of Austin said in a statement. “Father Wack has been of great help to me, and I express my deep appreciation to him for his years of service in the Diocese of Austin.”
“As the people of Pensacola-Tallahassee come to know him, they will see his love for the church and his desire to serve his flock with warmth and compassion,” he added.
Holy Cross Father Thomas O’ Hara, provincial superior of the U. S. province of the Congregation of Holy Cross, called Bishop-designate Wack “a gifted pastor and administrator who possesses an extremely welcoming personality.”
“He is quick to reach out to all, is strong enough to lead and humble enough to listen. Above all, he is an outstanding priest who is passionate in his faith and absolutely dedicated to serving the people of God,” Father O’Hara said.
Bishop Parkes said he shared in the joy of Catholics of Pensacola-Tallahassee getting a new shepherd, who with the diocese “will be in my prayers during this time of transition.”
Since Bishop Parkes’ appointment to St. Petersburg, Msgr. James Flaherty has served as Pensacola-Tallahassee’s diocesan administrator.
Born June 28, 1967, in South Bend, Indiana, Bishop designate-Wack is the second-youngest of 10 children. His younger brother also is a Holy Cross priest, Father Neil Wack.
William A. Wack entered the novitiate for the Congregation of Holy Cross in 1989. He earned a bachelor of arts degree in government and international relations from the University of Notre Dame in 1989. He earned a master of divinity degree in 1993, also from Notre Dame.
He professed his final vows in 1993 and was ordained a priest April 9, 1994. His assignments after ordination included associate pastor at Sacred Heart Parish in Colorado Springs, Colorado, from 1994-1997. He was associate director of vocations for his congregation from 1997-2002 at Notre Dame; at that time, he also was with the Holy Cross Associates, 1998-2002.
He then spent six years, from 2002 to 2008, as director of Andre House of Hospitality in downtown Phoenix, which is ministers to the city’s poor and homeless. It runs a soup kitchen, which serves more than 200,000 meals per year, and provides a small transition shelter for men and women; clothing and blanket distribution; and showers and lockers for its clients.
The Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee covers about 14,000 square miles in Florida’s panhandle. Out of a total population of 1.46 million people, about 5 percent, or 67,316 people, are Catholic.

Ecumenical leaders call for context, nuance in Catholic-Lutheran dialogue

By Colleen Dulle
WASHINGTON (CNS) – Swiss Cardinal Kurt Koch, renowned for his ecumenical efforts, addressed a Washington gathering of Catholic and Lutheran leaders striving for unity.
Cardinal Koch’s speech took place May 30 at “The 500th Anniversary of Martin Luther’s Posting of the Ninety-Five Theses Conference: Luther and the Shaping of the Catholic Tradition,” held at The Catholic University of America.
In his address, Cardinal Koch called for a new understanding of Martin Luther that takes into account his historical and religious context.
The cardinal, who leads the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, outlined how Luther was grounded in the monastic and mystical traditions of late medieval Catholicism, like Christ-centered theology.
He also pointed out that the reforms Luther called for were not extraordinary in their time: similar reforms were gaining traction elsewhere, like the “devotio moderna,” or “modern devotion,” movement in the Netherlands that called for humility and simplicity in the church, or the first multilingual edition of Scripture that was published in Spain in 1515.
Luther, the cardinal said, never intended for his reforms to divide the church, just as medieval reformers such as St. Francis and St. Dominic never intended to found new religious orders. They only intended to reform the church from within.
Cardinal Koch said the Catholic Church of the Middle Ages was partly to blame for the division.
“If Martin Luther’s call for reform and repentance had found open ears among the bishops of the time and of the pope in Rome, the reform intended to be initiated by him (Luther) would not have become the Reformation. For the fact that the original reform of the church became instead a church-dividing reformation, the Catholic Church of the time must bear its share of the blame,” Cardinal Koch said.
He pointed out that it wasn’t until later in his life that Luther began to call into question the role and structure of the church. Because of this, he said, it isn’t fair to see the posting of Luther’s theses as the moment the church split into Lutheranism and Catholicism.
Koch stated that political leaders in Germany were largely responsible for the formation of a distinct Lutheran Church about 100 years after Luther wrote his theses.
Still, he said, Luther’s essential question about the role of the church remains important and must be addressed in the dialogue between Catholics and Lutherans going forward.
Additionally, reconciliation must be a guiding theme in the conversation, the cardinal said, referencing Pope Francis’ words in Sweden last year.
Cardinal Koch said that Catholics must continue to apologize for their sometimes-violent offenses, like wars, against other religious groups, just as Lutherans must apologize for the way it has painted the pre-Reformation Catholic Church over the years.
The cardinal also called for a consensus between Catholics and Lutherans on Luther’s doctrine of justification –  the idea that a person is saved through faith rather than actions. “After 500 years of division,” the cardinal said, “we must strive for a binding communion and put it into effect already today.”    
Retired Lutheran Bishop Eero Huovinen of the Diocese of Helsinki responded to the Cardinal Koch’s address, saying he agreed with everything the cardinal had said.
Bishop Huovinen focused his response instead on the 2015 Catholic-Lutheran joint “Declaration on the Way: Church, Ministry and the Eucharist,” which attempts to reach common theological ground between the two groups.
Both speakers praised the progress already made to reconcile Catholics and Lutherans. They called for the 500th anniversary of the theses to be a jumping off point for a more nuanced effort toward reconciliation going forward.
The May 30-June 1 conference at Catholic University was co-sponsored by Metropolitan Washington, D.C. Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Catholic University’s School of Theology and religious Studies, the Vatican’s Pontifical Committee of Historical Sciences, and the U.S. bishops’ Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs.

Martin Luther, a German monk, is depicted in this painting at a church in Helsingor, Denmark. The issue of papal authority was the one point that led Luther to break from the Catholic Church, according to a Catholic University of America professor who will speak at a May 30-June 1 symposium on the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation co-sponsored by the university in Washington. (CNS photo/Crosiers)