Youth news

COLUMBUS – Kindergarten students – Mary Hayden Morgan, Cali Bradley and Miller Graham stomp the hallways of Annunciation School on Sept. 25 to “scare” the older students during the annual kindergarten dinosaur parade. (Photo by Katie Fenstermacher)
CLARKSDALE – St. Elizabeth school parent, Rone Walker and St. Elizabeth alum Patrick Montgomery, load spaghetti meals in the Fair-Drive-Thru on Tuesday, Oct. 6. (Photo by Mary Evelyn Stonestreet)
NATCHEZ – Father Mark Shoffner, parents, youth and adult mentors participated in a fun kickball tournament at Cathedral School on Sunday, Oct. 4. (Photo by Carrie Lambert)
MADISON – St. Anthony third grade student Evelyn Spellings creates a mobile from her favorite parts of 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. “Love is patient, love is kind …” (Photo by Michele Warnock)
JACKSON – Third and fifth grade students attended in-person Mass at St. Richard Church with Father John Bohn on Wednesday, Oct. 14. Pictured is Christopher King delivering part of the Prayers for the Faithful to his classmates. (Photo by Joanna Puddister King)
VICKSBURG – Landon Stanchfield recently celebrated Confirmation at St. Paul parish with Father Rusty Vincent. (Photo courtesy of St. Paul Vicksburg)
JACKSON – Father Nick Adam celebrates Mass at Millsaps College on Sunday, Sept. 20. About 20 students joined for Mass and fellowship. (Photo by Rhonda Bowden)
JACKSON – Father Nick Adam celebrates Mass at Millsaps College on Sunday, Sept. 20. About 20 students joined for Mass and fellowship. (Photo by Rhonda Bowden)

Purple Dress Run draws attention to domestic violence awareness

The best dressed group at the event: Trip Davis made it third in the men category through the finish line, his partner Jessica Diamond placed first in the women category and their dogs Mark and Rowdy were a huge hit at the event.
The race winner was Rob Oates (on right), second place went to Georgi Manolov of Bulgaria, his second year in Mississippi. This year the event was limited to 100 registrants, with many others participating at home for the virtual event.
Campbell Hardy and Cece Stansell were the youngest runners at the Purple Dress Run and showed great enthusiasm for all of the participants.

Called by Name

I want to thank everyone who was a part of making our first annual Homegrown Harvest Gala and Fundraiser a huge success. With the help of over 120 sponsors and donors, we reached and surpassed our goal of $75,000 to go toward our Seminarian Education Trust.

I hope that those who joined us for the livestream got to see the fruit of their donation in the men who are studying for the priesthood for our diocese. I put together a short video featuring all six seminarians, each of whom brings important gifts and a dedication to their own formation. They are also the fruit of families full of faith that supported and nurtured a care for the Lord and His church at home. Next year, I hope that we will be able to gather and celebrate these men and their families in person, but the livestream element provided its own opportunities and advantages.

Father Nick Adam
Father Nick Adam

I especially want to thank Father Jim Wehner, Rector of Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans, who provided an incredible talk about seminary formation for our event. The best thing about this format is that you can still watch this entire event! You can go to or to our diocesan YouTube page where I have posted the two videos featured at the Gala.

I also want to thank the diocesan staff that helped me pull off this even seamlessly. Rebecca Harris and Julia Williams in our development office took the initiative in learning about online fundraising, did software training, and helped me in so many other ways. Joanna King, our fearless director of communications always came up with great ideas to get the word out about this event, Rhonda Bowden of St. Jude in Pearl helped me put together a great event at St. Jude, and Rusty and Yvonne Haydel for helping me promote the event in many different ways. Thanks to Father Lincoln Dall for his hospitality, as we used St. Jude to present the livestream, and to Bishop Joseph Kopacz for encouraging me to keep going even when we had to move to an online gala. A special thanks to our sponsors and parishes who gave large gifts that really fast-tracked our fundraising. We continue to strengthen our culture of vocations, and God is bringing forth laborers for the harvest as we speak. Please keep praying for more holy priests and see you next year!

Blessing of the animals for Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi

Blessing of the pets ceremonies are part of the celebration for the Feast day of St. Francis of Assisi, in rememberance for his love of all creatures. This time of year, people bring a procession of animals, everything from dogs and cats to snakes, lizards to our churches and schools for a special blessing cermony. The love we give to pets and receive in return from pets draws us into the circle of life and our relationship to God.

SOUTHAVEN – Father Greg Schill, SCJ blessed a wide variety of animals at Sacred Heart School on Friday, Oct. 2 – including this bearded dragon. (Photos by Bridget Martin)
PEARL – Father Lincoln Dall of St. Jude parish blesses the pet goat of the Jose Varela family. (Photos by Rhonda Bowden)
OLIVE BRANCH – Queen of Peace parishioners brought their animals to get a special blessing in honor of the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi on Sunday, Oct. 4. Father Ardi (Hendrick Ardianto, SCJ) blessed a number of pets as members drove through. (Photo by Laura Grisham)
HOLLY SPRINGS – In honor of the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, Holy Family School held a special blessing of the pets Friday, Oct. 2. Father Ardi (Hendrick Ardianto, SCJ) extended a special blessing on the student’s furry friends during the afternoon car pool line. Pictured is Principal Tunia Sangster with her new puppy, Diesel. (Photo by Laura Grisham)

Faithful Citizenship and our political responsibility

“In this statement, we bishops do not intend to tell Catholics for whom or against whom to vote. Our purpose is
to help Catholics form their consciences in accordance with God’s truth. We recognize that the responsibility to make
choices in political life rests with each individual in light
of a properly formed conscience, and that participation
goes well beyond casting a vote in a particular election.”
– Faithful Citizenship

By Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz, D.D.
JACKSON – With the elections on national, state and local levels on the near horizon, the Catholic Church in the United States once again is active in the political process to foster the common good: a culture of life, justice and peace. There is obvious division in the church and in the nation over the candidates and the issues, perhaps more strident nowadays, but certainly nothing new. Social media and the 24-hour news cycle incessantly heap coals on the fires of partisanship that burn no less intense that those consuming millions of square miles in the western states. Unfortunately, then, politics in our country often can be a contest of powerful interests, partisan attacks, sound bites and media hype. Yet, as Pope Francis reminds us, “Politics though often denigrated, remains a lofty vocation and one of the highest forms of charity inasmuch as it seeks the common good.” In this spirit the church seeks to be a trustworthy compass for voting in November, an appeal to faith and reason in the stillness of one’s conscience.

Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz

Included in this issue of the paper is the introduction to the bishops’ document, entitled “Faithful Citizenship.” It is a document, refined over decades of election cycles, that has been forged in the fire of Gospel truth and the church’s teaching for nearly 2000 years. The bishops state: “The Catholic community brings important assets to the political dialogue about our nation’s future. We bring a consistent moral framework, drawn from basic human reason that is illuminated by Scripture and the teaching of the church, for assessing issues, political platforms and campaigns. We also bring broad experience in serving those in need and educating the young.” From this abundant and fruitful tradition of faith, social action and education, the Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us, “It is necessary that all participate, each according to his position and role, in promoting the common good … As far as possible citizens should take an active part in public life.” CCC 1913-15

“In this statement, we bishops do not intend to tell Catholics for whom or against whom to vote. Our purpose is to help Catholics form their consciences in accordance with God’s truth. We recognize that the responsibility to make choices in political life rests with each individual in light of a properly formed conscience, and that participation goes well beyond casting a vote in a particular election.” Faithful Citizenship further states: Conscience is the voice of God resounding in the human heart, revealing truth to us and calling us to do what is good while shunning what is evil.

Finally, prayerful reflection is essential to discern the will of God.” Clergy and laity have complementary roles in public life. We bishops have the primary responsibility to hand on the church’s moral and social teaching, and as Pope Benedict taught in Deus Caritas Est, “The direct duty to work for a just ordering of society is proper to the lay faithful.” #29

To form consciences and to promote a just ordering of society the church’s teaching rests upon four pillars: the dignity of the human person made in the image and likeness of God – fostering the common good which is a commitment to establishing conditions where all can thrive — solidarity, springing from the conviction as children of God, that unity built upon cooperation and collaboration wherever possible is the goal — subsidiarity, the empowerment of individuals, families and local entities. Based on these principles we pray, work, serve and vote to do good and avoid evil.

The following excerpts from Faithful Citizenship go to the heart of the matter for voting citizens. “Catholics often face difficult choices about how to vote. That is why it is so important to vote according to a well-formed conscience. A Catholic is not in good conscience if voting for a candidate who favors a policy promoting an intrinsically evil act, such as abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide, unjust war, subjecting workers to subhuman living conditions, torture, racist behavior, e.g. if the voter’s intent is to support that position. In such cases a Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in grave evil.” At the same time, “there may be times when a Catholic who rejects a candidate’s unacceptable position, even on policies promoting an intrinsically evil act, may responsibly decide to vote for that candidate for other morally grave reasons. Voting in this way would be permissible only for truly grave moral reasons, not to advance narrow interests or partisan preferences or to ignore fundamental moral evil.”

It is in our DNA as Catholics to be “all in” in every dimension of life, including the political realm. The Lord Jesus calls us to be “salt and light,” in order to create societies of life, justice and peace. Pope Francis reminds us. “An authentic faith always involves a deep desire to change the world, to transmit values, to leave this earth better than we found it. We love this magnificent planet on which God has put us, we love the human family that God has put here, with all its tragedies and struggles, its hopes and aspirations, its strengths, and weaknesses. The earth is our common home and all of us are brothers and sisters.”

Ciudadanía fiel y nuestra responsabilidad política

“La conciencia es la voz de Dios que resuena en el corazón humano, nos revela la verdad y nos llama a hacer el bien mientras rechazamos lo que es malo.”
– Ciudadanía Fiel

Por Obispo Joseph R. Kopacz, D.D.
Con elecciones en el horizonte cercano, a nivel nacional, estatal y local, la Iglesia Católica en los Estados Unidos, una vez más, participa activamente en el proceso político para promover el bien común: una cultura de vida, justicia y paz. Hay una división obvia en la iglesia y en la nación sobre los candidatos y los temas, quizás más estridente hoy en día, pero ciertamente nada nuevo. Las redes sociales y el ciclo de noticias de 24 horas avivan incesantemente sobre los fuegos del partidismo las brasas que con tanta intensidad arden, tal como los fuegos que consumen millones de millas cuadradas en los estados del oeste. Desafortunadamente, entonces, la política en nuestro país a menudo puede ser una competencia de intereses poderosos, ataques partidistas, fragmentos de sonido y exageración de los medios. Sin embargo, como nos recuerda el Papa Francisco, “la política, aunque a menudo denigrada, sigue siendo una vocación elevada y una de las formas más elevadas de caridad en la medida en que busca el bien común”. Con este espíritu, la iglesia busca ser una brújula confiable para votar en noviembre, un llamado a la fe y la razón en la quietud de la conciencia de cada uno.

Obispo Joseph R. Kopacz

En esta edición del periódico, usted puede encontrar número la introducción al documento de los obispos, titulado “Ciudadanía Fiel” (Faithful Citizenship, por su nombre en inglés). Es un documento, refinado durante décadas de ciclos electorales, que se ha forjado en el fuego de la verdad del Evangelio y la enseñanza de la iglesia durante casi 2000 años. Los obispos afirman: “La comunidad católica aporta importantes activos al diálogo político sobre el futuro de nuestra nación. Traemos un marco moral consistente, extraído de la razón humana básica que está iluminado por las Escrituras y la enseñanza de la iglesia, para evaluar problemas, plataformas políticas y campañas. También aportamos una amplia experiencia en el servicio a los necesitados y la educación de los jóvenes.” Desde esta abundante y fructífera tradición de fe, educación y acción social, el Catecismo de la Iglesia Católica nos recuerda: “Es necesario que todos participen, cada uno según su posición y función, en la promoción del bien común… En la medida de lo posible los ciudadanos deben participar activamente en la vida pública.” CCC 1913-15

“En esta declaración, los obispos no pretendemos decirles a los católicos por quién o contra quién votar. Nuestro propósito es ayudar a los católicos a formar su conciencia de acuerdo con la verdad de Dios. Reconocemos que la responsabilidad de tomar decisiones en la vida política recae en cada individuo a la luz de una conciencia debidamente formada, y que la participación va mucho más allá de emitir un voto en una elección en particular.”

Ciudadanía Fiel afirma, además, “La conciencia es la voz de Dios que resuena en el corazón humano, nos revela la verdad y nos llama a hacer el bien mientras rechazamos lo que es malo. Finalmente, la reflexión orante es fundamental para discernir la voluntad de Dios”. El clero y los laicos tienen roles complementarios en la vida pública. Los obispos tenemos la responsabilidad primordial de transmitir la doctrina moral y social de la Iglesia, y como enseñó el Papa Benedicto en Deus Caritas Est, “El deber directo de trabajar por un orden justo de la sociedad es propio de los fieles laicos.” #29

Para formar conciencias y promover un ordenamiento justo de la sociedad, la enseñanza de la iglesia se basa en cuatro pilares: la dignidad de la persona humana hecha a imagen y semejanza de Dios – fomentando el bien común que es un compromiso para establecer condiciones donde todos puedan prosperar – solidaridad, que nace de la convicción de hijos de Dios, que la unidad construida sobre la cooperación y la colaboración siempre que sea posible es el objetivo: la subsidiariedad, el empoderamiento de las personas, las familias y las entidades locales. Basándonos en estos principios, oramos, trabajamos, servimos y votamos para hacer el bien y evitar el mal.

Los siguientes extractos de Ciudadanía Fiel van al meollo del asunto de los ciudadanos votantes. “Los católicos a menudo enfrentan decisiones difíciles sobre cómo votar. Por eso es tan importante votar de acuerdo con una conciencia bien formada. Un católico no está en buena conciencia si vota por un candidato que favorece una política que promueve un acto intrínsecamente malo, como el aborto, la eutanasia, el suicidio asistido, la guerra injusta, someter a los trabajadores a condiciones de vida infrahumanas, tortura, comportamiento racista, p. Ej. si la intención del votante es apoyar esa posición. En tales casos, un católico sería culpable de cooperación formal en un mal grave.” Al mismo tiempo, “puede haber ocasiones en que un católico que rechaza la posición inaceptable de un candidato, incluso en políticas que promuevan un acto intrínsecamente maligno, puede decidir responsablemente votar por ese candidato por otras razones moralmente graves. Votar de esta manera sería permisible solo por razones morales verdaderamente graves, no para promover intereses estrechos o preferencias partidistas o para ignorar el mal moral fundamental.”

Como católicos, está en nuestro ADN estar “muy adentro” en todas las dimensiones de la vida, incluida la esfera política. El Señor Jesús nos llama a ser “sal y luz” para crear sociedades de vida, justicia y paz. El Papa Francisco nos lo recuerda. “Una fe auténtica implica siempre un deseo profundo de cambiar el mundo, de transmitir valores, de dejar esta tierra mejor de lo que la encontramos. Amamos este magnífico planeta en el que Dios nos ha puesto, amamos a la familia humana que Dios ha puesto aquí, con todas sus tragedias y luchas, sus esperanzas y aspiraciones, sus fortalezas y debilidades. La tierra es nuestro hogar común y todos somos hermanos y hermanas.”

Pope calls for politics to rediscover its vocation to work for common good

By Cindy Wooden
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – People who think politics is sinking to new lows may find comfort in knowing Pope Francis also is concerned about the debasement of what church teaching has described as a “lofty vocation.”
“Political life no longer has to do with healthy debates about long-term plans to improve people’s lives and to advance the common good, but only with slick marketing techniques primarily aimed at discrediting others. In this craven exchange of charges and countercharges, debate degenerates into a permanent state of disagreement and confrontation,” the pope wrote in his new encyclical.
The encyclical, “Fratelli Tutti, on Fraternity and Social Friendship,” was published Oct. 4 and urges Christians and all people of goodwill to recognize the equal dignity of all people and to work together to build a world where people love and care for one another as brothers and sisters.
Building that world, he insisted, requires “encounter and dialogue,” processes that allow people to speak from their experience and culture, to listen to one another, learn from one another and find ways to work together for the common good.
“Today, in many countries, hyperbole, extremism and polarization have become political tools,” the pope wrote. “Employing a strategy of ridicule, suspicion and relentless criticism, in a variety of ways, one denies the right of others to exist or to have an opinion.”
The “social aggression” often found on social media has spilled over into mainstream political discourse, he said. “Things that until a few years ago could not be said by anyone without risking the loss of universal respect can now be said with impunity, and in the crudest of terms, even by some political figures.”
Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said in a statement that “in analyzing conditions in the world today, the Holy Father provides us with a powerful and urgent vision for the moral renewal of politics and political and economic institutions from the local level to the global level, calling us to build a common future that truly serves the good of the human person.”
“For the church,” he added, “the pope is challenging us to overcome the individualism in our culture and to serve our neighbors in love, seeing Jesus Christ in every person, and seeking a society of justice and mercy, compassion and mutual concern.”
In the encyclical Pope Francis had particularly harsh words for politicians who have “fomented and exploited” fear over immigration, ignoring the fact that migrants and refugees “possess the same intrinsic dignity as any person.”
“No one will ever openly deny that they are human beings,” he said, “yet in practice, by our decisions and the way we treat them, we can show that we consider them less worthy, less important, less human. For Christians, this way of thinking and acting is unacceptable, since it sets certain political preferences above deep convictions of our faith: the inalienable dignity of each human person regardless of origin, race or religion.”
Pope Francis often has insisted that he is not calling for open borders and unregulated migration and, in the document, he again insists on the right of people not to be forced to migrate.
International aid to help people overcome extreme poverty in their homelands is essential, he said, but if such development takes too long, people do have the right to migrate to ensure the good of their families.
“Certain populist political regimes, as well as certain liberal economic approaches, maintain that an influx of migrants is to be prevented at all costs,” he wrote. “One fails to realize that behind such statements, abstract and hard to support, great numbers of lives are at stake.”
For Christians, he said, the answer cannot be to simply bow out of political engagement. Instead, they must act at a local level to build relationships of trust and assistance and support politicians and political platforms that promote the common good.
“Whereas individuals can help others in need, when they join together in initiating social processes of fraternity and justice for all, they enter the ‘field of charity at its most vast, namely political charity,’” he said.
Getting practical, Pope Francis explained that “if someone helps an elderly person cross a river, that is a fine act of charity. The politician, on the other hand, builds a bridge, and that too is an act of charity” but on a larger scale.

Stop, Look and Listen: Three ways to prevent domestic abuse

Domestic abuse is an awful and often deadly cycle. Rarely does it start with actual violence.
It starts with a more subtle form of control.
It kills the spirit and smothers the soul way before it leaves bruises and broken bones.

By Reba J. McMellon, M.S.,LPC
Stop – Stop and think. Sounds simple but our culture promotes an approach to love commitment that involves more falling than planning. Pump the brakes. Slow down. Hold the phone.
Hormones and commitment should be two separate things. Oftentimes people find themselves in too deep by the time they realize their relationship has warning signs of domestic abuse.
Stop and ask yourself: How is this person when he or she is angry? How do they handle not being in control? What is their relationship history?
The only way we can accurately predict behavior in the future is by patterns in the past.
Are you committing to a flawed ship? Not getting on the boat in the first place is the best way to prevent drowning.
Stop and pay attention to body language and other expressions of anger, control or selfishness.

Reba J. McMellon, M.S.,LPC

Look – Look for signs of problems with anger management.
Does a person get defensive, shift blame or offer excuses? The number one problem with people who engage in domestic abuse is their lack of ability to take responsibility for their own actions and reactions.
There are important differences between those who make excuses and those who take responsibility.
Responsibility implies that fault is sincerely recognized and accepted; and that you take accountability for your actions.
An excuse exists to justify, blame or defend a fault … with the intent to absolve oneself of accountability. An excuse will never be followed by positive, goal-directed or solution-oriented behavior.
Lack of responsibility in the large and small areas of life is a huge warning sign.
Look for red flags. Keep your eyes open and your brain engaged.
Listen – Listen when other people tell you they see red flags. It never hurts to listen.
One of the ways domestic abuse perpetuates itself is through isolation. Listen for patterns that may set you up for domination and isolation. Particularly from family and friends.
If you have to plan conversations with family or friends when the partner is away, that’s a warning sign. If there are demands for all or nothing, listen carefully for what it is the partner is asking you to give up and how often you are expected to blindly give in.
Domestic abuse is an awful and often deadly cycle. Rarely does it start with actual violence. It starts with a more subtle form of control. It kills the spirit and smothers the soul way before it leaves bruises and broken bones.
If you come from a family where an abusive imbalance of power and control existed, you are 75% more likely to fall into the same pattern in your own committed relationships.
To be triumphant in a successful God centered relationship, study what the catechism says about theology of marriage and respect. Then study it some more.
Study narcissism so you will be able to recognize a web of deception before stepping into one.
If you are aware of someone who is trapped in a cycle of domestic violence, quietly tell them you are there when they are ready. Then love them steady.
There is nothing domestic or loving about abuse.

(Reba J. McMellon, M.S. is a licensed professional counselor with 35 years of experience. She worked in the field of child sexual abuse and adult survivors of abuse for over 25 years. She continues to work as a mental health consultant and freelance writer. Reba can be reached at

Pope Francis’ new encyclical

By Father Ron Rolheiser, OMI
On Oct. 4, the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, Pope Francis released a new encyclical entitled, Fratelli Tutti – On Fraternity and Social Friendship. It can appear a rather depressing read because of its searing realism, except it plays the long game of Christian hope.

Father Ron Rolheiser, OMI

Fratelli Tutti lays out reasons why there’s so much injustice, inequality and community breakdown in our world and how in faith and love these might be addressed. The intent here is not to give a synopsis of the encyclical, other than to say it’s courageous and speaks truth to power. Rather the intent is to highlight a number of special challenges within the encyclical.
First, it challenges us to see the poor and to see what our present political, economic and social systems are doing to them. Looking at our world, the encyclical submits that in many ways it is a broken world and it names some reasons for this: the globalization of self-interest, the globalization of superficiality and the abuse of social media, among other things. This has made for the survival of the fittest. And while the situation is broken for everyone, the poor are ending up suffering the most. The rich are getting richer, the powerful are getting more powerful, and the poor are growing poorer and losing what little power they had. There’s an ever-increasing inequality of wealth and power between the rich and the poor and our world is become ever more calloused vis-à-vis the situation of the poor. Inequality is now accepted as normal and as moral and indeed is often justified in the name of God and religion. The poor are becoming disposable: “Some parts of our human family, it appears, can be readily sacrificed for the sake of others. Wealth has increased, but together with inequality.” In speaking of inequality, the encyclical twice highlights that this inequality is true of women worldwide: “It is unacceptable that some have fewer rights by virtue of being women.”
The encyclical employs the parable of the Good Samaritan as its ground metaphor. It compares us today, individually and collectively, to the priest and the scribe in that parable who for religious, social and political reasons walk past the one who is poor, beaten, bleeding and in need of help. Our indifference and our religious failure, like that of the priest and the scribe in the parable, is rooted both in a personal moral blindness as well as in the social and religious ethos of our society that helps spawn that blindness.
The encyclical goes on to warn that in the face of globalization we must resist becoming nationalistic and tribal, taking care of our own and demonizing what’s foreign. It goes on to say that in a time of bitterness, hatred and animosity, we must be tender and gracious, always speaking out of love and not out of hatred: “Kindness ought to be cultivated; it is no superficial bourgeois virtue.”
The encyclical acknowledges how difficult and counter-cultural it is today to sacrifice our own agenda, comfort and freedom for community, but invites us to make that sacrifice: “I would like especially to mention solidarity which is a moral virtue and social attitude born of personal conversion.”
At one point, the encyclical gives a very explicit (and far-reaching) challenge. It states unequivocally (with full ecclesial weight) that Christians must oppose and reject capital punishment and take a stand against war: “Saint John Paul II stated clearly and firmly that the death penalty is inadequate from a moral standpoint and no longer necessary from that of penal justice. There can be no stepping back from this position. Today we state clearly that ‘the death penalty is inadmissible’ and the Church is firmly committed to calling for its abolition worldwide. All Christians and people of good will are today called to work not only for the abolition of the death penalty, legal or illegal, in all its forms, but also to work for the improvement of prison conditions.”
As for war: “We can no longer think of war as a solution, because its risks will probably always be greater than its supposed benefits. In view of this, it is very difficult nowadays to invoke the rational criteria elaborated in earlier centuries to speak of the possibility of a ‘just war.’”
The encyclical has drawn strong criticism from some women’s groups who label it “sexist,” though this criticism is based almost exclusively on the encyclical’s title and on the fact that it never makes reference to any women authors. There’s some fairness, I submit, in the criticism regarding the choice of title. The title, while beautiful in an old classical language, is in the end masculine. That should be forgivable; except I lived long enough in Rome to know that its frequent insensitivity to inclusive language is not an inculpable oversight. But the lapse here is a mosquito bite, a small thing, which shouldn’t detract from a big thing, namely, a very prophetic encyclical which has justice and the poor at its heart.

(Oblate Father Ron Rolheiser, theologian, teacher and award-winning author, is President of the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, Texas. He can be contacted through his website

The moral necessity of voting with a well-formed Catholic conscience – especially this election!

So, our difficult job, if we are to be faithful
Catholic voters, is to carefully examine which candidates’ positions are closest overall to the Gospel and Catholic social teaching – and vote for them.

Making a Difference
By Tony Magliano
Put your political party, your conservative/liberal leanings, your wallet and your self-interest on the back burner. And instead, vote with a well-formed Catholic conscience – which requires moving to the front burner of your mind and heart the Gospel of Jesus Christ and Catholic social teaching!
In the Gospel our Lord is crystal clear that while he deeply desires what is best for each one of us, he especially teaches in his words and actions that the poor and vulnerable require his attention in a most special way – because their need is the greatest. And so likewise, our words and actions must imitate the Lord’s. We need to stand in solidarity with all those who suffer. In fact our very salvation hinges on this.
Near the end of Matthew’s account of the Gospel, Jesus proclaims with both hope and warning that he will judge each one of us according to how well we reached out, or failed to reach out, to those who were hungry, thirsty, strangers, naked, sick, imprisoned – essentially anyone and everyone who was in need (see: Matthew 25: 31-46).
Building on the rock-solid Gospel foundation of love for all people – even including enemies and especially the poor and vulnerable – a love for all of creation, and the call to be peacemakers, the Catholic church in the last 125 years has developed a rich comprehensive body of in-depth teachings called Catholic social teaching which emphasizes care for creation, as well as the protection of all human life and the promotion of human dignity from womb to tomb. Here’s a link to an excellent and enjoyable introduction to Catholic social teaching
So, what does all of this have to with the elections? A lot!

Tony Magliano

Most unfortunately, very few politicians are committed to consistently enacting legislation and public policy which is Gospel and Catholic social teaching based. So, our difficult job, if we are to be faithful Catholic voters, is to carefully prayerfully examine which candidates’ positions are closest overall to the Gospel and Catholic social teaching – and vote for them.
It would be morally and politically ideal if we had politicians who were committed to protecting the lives and dignity of all – from conception to natural death – as well as the planet we all share. But we don’t. So, we need to choose politicians who will overall do the most good and the least harm. This is messy business. However, at present this is the best moral approach we have.
The U.S. bishops in their voters’ guide document “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship” write, “There may be times when a Catholic who rejects a candidate’s unacceptable position even on policies promoting an intrinsically evil act may reasonably decide to vote for that candidate for other morally grave reasons. Voting in this way would be permissible only for truly grave moral reasons, not to advance narrow interests or partisan preferences or to ignore a fundamental moral evil.” (see:
Whether it’s abortion, war and peace, nuclear weapons, poverty, hunger, climate change, homelessness, immigration, unemployment, healthcare or COVID-19 the easy temptation is to pick candidates who line up with our one pet moral issue. But single-issue voting is both simplistically harmful and unfaithful to Catholic teaching. (see:
We absolutely need to do our best in caring for all. For as St. Pope John Paul II said so beautifully: “Where life is involved, the service of charity must be profoundly consistent. It cannot tolerate bias and discrimination, for human life is sacred and inviolable at every stage and in every situation.”

(Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated Catholic social justice and peace columnist. He is available to speak at diocesan or parish gatherings. Tony can be reached at )