Doctrina Social Católica basada en visión de Vida Humana

Por Obispo Joseph R. Kopacz, D.D.
En 2022, la Iglesia Católica marcará el 50 aniversario del Mes del Respeto a la Vida en los Estados Unidos, un año antes de la decisión de la Corte Suprema en Roe v. Wade que continúa ensombreciendo nuestra tierra y nuestras conciencias.

En realidad, las raíces de una conmemoración más formal del respeto por la vida en el mundo moderno se encuentran en los escritos del Concilio Vaticano II. Gaudium et Spes, la Constitución pastoral de la Iglesia en el mundo moderno, proporcionó un fundamento evangélico para lo que surgiría en las décadas siguientes como los principios de la Doctrina Social Católica.

Obispo Joseph R. Kopacz

“La Iglesia, al prestar ayuda al mundo y al recibir del mundo múltiple ayuda, sólo pretende una cosa: el advenimiento del reino de Dios y la salvación de toda la humanidad. Todo el bien que el Pueblo de Dios puede dar a la familia humana al tiempo de su peregrinación en la tierra, deriva del hecho de que la Iglesia es “sacramento universal de salvación”, que manifiesta y al mismo tiempo realiza el misterio del amor de Dios al hombre. Mientras persigue este objetivo señalado de llevar la salvación a todos, la Iglesia no solo comunica la vida divina a la humanidad, sino que también refleja en cierta medida la luz de esa vida en todo el mundo. Lo hace especialmente a través de su trabajo de restaurar y realzar la dignidad de la persona humana, de fortalecer el tejido de la sociedad humana y enriquecer la actividad diaria de hombres y mujeres con un significado e importancia más profundos. La Iglesia cree que de esta manera puede hacer una gran contribución para llevar una mayor humanidad a la familia de la humanidad y a su historia.”

En esta maravillosa sección de Gaudium et Spes que se traduce como alegría y esperanza, nos sentimos inspirados a mantener nuestros ojos en la meta de la vida eterna, pero nunca apartados del mundo donde trabajamos nuestra salvación.

La dignidad de la persona humana y el tejido de la sociedad humana son parte integrante del Reino de Dios y de la misión de la Iglesia. Esto se afirma con vehemencia en las primeras líneas de Gaudium et Spes. “Los gozos y las esperanzas, las tristezas y las angustias de los hombres de nuestro tiempo, sobre todo de los pobres y de cuantos sufren, son a la vez gozos y esperanzas, tristezas y angustias de los discípulos de Cristo.”

La Doctrina Social Católica se basa en esta visión de la vida humana, la actividad diaria y nuestro destino final con los principios de solidaridad y el bien común que promueven la vida familiar, el empleo remunerado, junto con los elementos esenciales para una vida digna: alimentos, agua, atención médica, educación, vivienda y seguridad, en el contexto de la sostenibilidad de la creación de Dios.

San José, como se reflexionó anteriormente, es un modelo ejemplar de alguien que acepta la vida de madre e hijo. Volvamos a San José y la Sagrada Familia para comprender algunas de las luchas que asolan a la familia humana hoy y necesitan redención. Desde el principio, su Sí a la voluntad de Dios y el don de la vida estuvo plagado de problemas. Se emprendió un viaje agotador desde el norte de Israel hasta Belén en el sur con María a punto de dar a luz con cada rebote en el camino sobre una bestia de carga. Les esperaba la descorazonadora falta de alojamiento.

Sin embargo, su resistencia se hizo evidente en la utilización del establo para traer al Hijo de Dios a la luz del día. Ni siquiera sabemos si tuvieron tiempo de inscribirse en el censo decretado por César Augusto, porque luego de un breve respiro se dieron a la fuga para evitar el veneno asesino del rey Herodes. Las sagradas escrituras nos dicen que José y María con su recién nacido pasaron dos años en Egipto antes de poder regresar a su amada tierra natal y comenzar a construir una vida de estabilidad en Nazaret para el Hijo unigénito de Dios.

Sus primeros años juntos nos ofrecen una dirección para nuestra fe católica y el mundo moderno. Como pareja casada, tenían una profunda confianza y respeto mutuos, una base sólida para superar las dificultades y el odio. Tenían una fe viva en su Dios amoroso, evidente en su capacidad para seguir los impulsos de sus mejores ángulos para aceptar la voluntad de Dios, los unos a los otros, y la urgencia del momento. Sin embargo, con todas sus fortalezas personales y relacionales, en su vulnerabilidad tuvieron que depender de algunos en Egipto que dieron la bienvenida al extraño y les dieron un punto de apoyo para sobrevivir.

Hay una gran cantidad de personas en movimiento en nuestro mundo de hoy, por razones paralelas a las de la Sagrada Familia. A los migrantes, inmigrantes y refugiados a menudo se les despoja de todo excepto de la ropa que llevan puesta. Muchos han demostrado una capacidad de recuperación notable y han sobrevivido. Pero en su vulnerabilidad siempre existe la necesidad de que los buenos samaritanos los acompañen y se recuperen.

Extendiendo la realidad de la vulnerabilidad, damos gracias durante la conmemoración de este mes de respeto a la vida a todos los que acompañan y sirven a quienes están al borde del colapso.

Las razones pueden ser innumerables, pero el objetivo es la restauración de la dignidad humana, el fortalecimiento del tejido de la sociedad humana y la construcción de un mundo más humano. Esta es la mentalidad que conviene a los discípulos del Señor Jesús al servicio de todos los hijos de Dios.

Este es el logo en español del Mes del Respeto a la Vida 2021 que la Iglesia Católica de EE. UU. Celebró en octubre. Como parte del Año de San José declarado por el Papa Francisco, la celebración de este año “destaca el ejemplo de ese gran santo”, dijo una declaración del 27 de septiembre del arzobispo Joseph F. Naumann de Kansas City, Kansas, quien es presidente de la Comité de Actividades Pro-Vida de la Conferencia de Obispos Católicos de los Estados Unidos. (Courtesy RespectLife.org)

Catholic Social Teaching builds upon vision of human life

By Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz, D.D.

In 2022 the Catholic Church will mark the 50th anniversary of Respect Life Month in the United States, one year before the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade that continues to cast a shadow over our land and consciences.
The roots for a more formal commemoration of respect for life in the modern world are found in the writings of the Second Vatican Council. Gaudium et Spes, the Pastoral Constitution of the Church in the Modern World, provided a Gospel rationale for what would emerge in the decades to follow as the principles of Catholic Social Teaching.

“While the Church helps the world and she receives much from the world, she has one object in view; the coming of God’s Kingdom and the salvation of the whole human race. As she pursues this appointed goal of bringing salvation to all, the church not only communicates the divine life to mankind but also in some measure reflects the light of that life over the whole world. She does this especially through her work of restoring and enhancing the dignity of the human person, of strengthening the fabric of human society, and enriching the daily activity of men and women with a deeper meaning and importance. The church believes that in this way she can make a great contribution toward bringing a greater humanity to the family of humankind and to its history.”

Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz

In this marvelous section from Gaudium et Spes that translates as joy and hope, we are inspired to keep our eyes on the goal of eternal life, but never aloof from the world where we work out our salvation.

The dignity of the human person, and the fabric of human society are part and parcel of the Kingdom of God and the mission of the church. This is ardently stated in the opening lines of Gaudium et Spes. “The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men and women of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way are afflicted are the joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the followers of Christ.”

Catholic Social Teaching builds upon this vision of human life, daily activity and our ultimate destiny with the principles of solidarity and the common good that promote family life, gainful employment, along with the essentials for dignified living: food, water, health care, education, housing and safety, in the context of sustainability for God’s creation.

St. Joseph as previously reflected upon is an exemplary model of one who accepts the lives of mother and child. Let us return to St. Joseph and the Holy Family to understand the some of the struggles that plague the human family today and are in need of redemption.

From the outset his “Yes” to God’s will and the gift of life was beset with trouble. A taxing journey was undertaken from northern Israel to Bethlehem in the south with Mary about to give birth with every bounce along the way atop a beast of burden. The disheartening lack of lodging awaited them.

Yet, their resiliency became apparent in their utilization of the stable to bring the Son of God to the light of day. We are not even certain if they had the time to register in the census decreed by Caesar Augustus, because after a brief respite they were on the run to avoid the murderous venom of King Herod. The sacred scriptures tell us that Joseph and Mary with their newborn spent two years in Egypt before they could return to their beloved homeland and begin to build a life of stability in Nazareth for the only begotten Son of God.

Their early years together offer us direction for our Catholic faith and modern world. As a married couple they had a deep trust and respect for each other, a solid foundation to overcome hardship and hate. They had a living faith in their loving God, evident in their capacity to follow the promptings of their better angles to accept God’s will, one another, and the urgency of the moment. Yet, with all of their personal and relational strengths, in their vulnerability they had to rely on some in Egypt who welcomed the stranger and gave them a foothold for survival.

There are a whole host of people on the move in our world today for reasons that parallel those of the Holy Family. Migrants, immigrants and refugees are often stripped of everything except for the clothes on their back. Many have demonstrated remarkable resiliency and have survived. But in their vulnerability, there is always the need for Good Samaritans to accompany them and get them back on their feet.

Extending the reality of vulnerability, we give thanks during this month’s respect life commemoration to all who accompany and serve those who are on the brink of folding. The reasons can be legion, but the goal is the restoration of human dignity, the strengthening of the fabric of human society, and building a more humane world. This is the mindset that is befitting of disciples of the Lord Jesus in service of all of God’s children.

Act on behalf of life

By Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz, D.D.
The fundamental truth of our faith in Jesus Christ was proclaimed in last Sunday’s first reading with the creation story from Genesis, so fitting to begin Respect Life Month in the Catholic Church throughout the United States.

From the encyclical Evangelii Vitae (The Gospel of Life) of St. John Paul II we read that God made the human person with the capacity to love and reason, and to live in relationship with the Creator. The human person, male and female, bears an indelible imprint of God, made in God’s image and likeness, the foundation of all human dignity. However, the struggle to elevate the dignity of human life over and against a culture of death, decried in Evangelii Vitae, requires courage and compassion, perseverance and encouragement. To proclaim Jesus is to proclaim life itself.

Evangelii Vitae encourages a spirit of mission because gratitude and joy at the incomparable dignity of the human person impel us to bring the Gospel of life to the hearts of all people and make it penetrate every part of society. We are therefore called to reverence and love every human person, loving our neighbors as ourselves. It is our privilege and responsibility to care for and protect human life, especially the lives of the most vulnerable among us.

At the outset of Respect Life Month we rightly direct our gaze to the foundation of life, the wellbeing of the unborn. During this year of St. Joseph, Pope Francis has brought the beloved patron of the Universal Church to the forefront as a model for righteous living. In his splendid pastoral letter, Patris Corde, (With a Father’s Heart) we hear the pope’s encouragement. Each of us can find in him “an intercessor, a support and a guide in times of trouble.” (PC, Intro)

Joseph shows us how to say “yes” to life, despite our own fears, frailties and weaknesses. For it is Joseph who was chosen by God to guide the beginnings of the history of redemption. He was the true ‘miracle’ by which God saves the child and his mother.” (PC 5) The infant Christ “came into our world in a state of great vulnerability. He needed to be defended, protected, cared for and raised by Joseph.” (PC 5)

The humble and often hidden carpenter of Nazareth accompanied Mary in her pregnancy, assisted at the birth of the Messiah in a stable, presented Jesus in the Temple, fled with his family far from their homeland to protect them, and lovingly raised Jesus as his own son in the years to come. May we, too, be miracles in the lives of those who are most in need, especially at the beginning and end of life.

Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz

Dear St. Joseph, you who were “able to turn a problem into a possibility by trusting always in divine providence” (PC 5), help us to imitate your faithful trust and courage.”

Prayer, outreach in ministry, and advocacy on behalf of mothers and their unborn children is not only the work of the church. For example, our diocese has had a strong partnership with the State of Mississippi through our Born Free, New Beginnings program for nearly 30 years.

Catholic Charities is the guardian of this ministry which is snugly housed at the former Norbertine Priory. The promotion of life, justice and peace is well grounded in our Catholic Social teachings, but this world-view is embraced by many who belong to other faith traditions, or by those with no religious ties. Respect Life Month serves to highlight the labor of love that occurs on behalf of the unborn throughout the year.

Advocacy on behalf of the unborn will occur at the highest judicial level on Dec. 1, less than two months out, when our State’s Attorney General, Lynn Fitch, will argue the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization before the Supreme Court. It is commonly referred to as the fetal heartbeat bill that could have landmark consequences. It is a substantial document, but one that is largely readable.

Grounded in our nation’s legal tradition and rule of law it fundamentally seeks to overturn Roe v. Wade and Casey v. Planned Parenthood and return this life issue back to the 50 states. “The Court should hold that the Act (Bill) is constitutional because it satisfies rational basis review.” Or, it is reasonable because it seeks to provide greater protection for the unborn, and authentic concern for women, and to restore integrity to the medical profession whose fundamental standard is to do no harm.

The fetal heartbeat bill is a serious step to advance protection for the unborn. Underlying all of its rationale is a profound respect for life, from the outset to the end. This vision of human life requires an ongoing conversion toward all that is true, good and beautiful about God’s creation, most notably, all of us created in the divine image. We all have had and will have our St. Joseph moments compelling us to dig deeper to discern, decide and act on behalf of life. We give thanks to all who labor on behalf of the unborn and their mothers, and for all who labor on behalf of human dignity throughout life, seeking greater justice and peace at every step on the journey.

Actuar en nombre de la vida

Por Obispo Joseph R. Kopacz, D.D.
La verdad fundamental de nuestra fe en Jesucristo fue proclamada en la primera lectura del domingo pasado con la historia de la creación del Génesis, muy apropiado para comenzar el Mes de Respeto a la Vida en la Iglesia Católica en los Estados Unidos.

En la encíclica Evangelii Vitae (El Evangelio de la Vida) de San Juan Pablo II leemos que Dios hizo al hombre con la capacidad de amar, razonar y vivir en relación con el Creador. La persona humana, hombre y mujer, lleva una huella indeleble de Dios, hecha a imagen y semejanza de Dios, fundamento de toda dignidad humana. Sin embargo, la lucha por elevar la dignidad de la vida humana por encima y en contra de una cultura de muerte, denunciada en Evangelii Vitae, requiere coraje y compasión, perseverancia y aliento. Proclamar a Jesús es proclamar la vida misma.

Obispo Joseph R. Kopacz

Evangelii Vitae anima el espíritu de misión porque la gratitud y la regocijo por la incomparable dignidad de la persona humana nos impulsan a llevar el Evangelio de la vida al corazón de todas las personas y hacer que penetre en todos los ámbitos de la sociedad. Por lo tanto, estamos llamados a reverenciar y amar a toda persona humana, amando a nuestro prójimo como a nosotros mismos. Es nuestro privilegio y responsabilidad cuidar y proteger la vida humana, especialmente la vida de los más vulnerables de entre nosotros.
Al comienzo del Mes de Respeto a la Vida, dirigimos correctamente nuestra mirada a la base de la vida, el bienestar de los no nacidos. Durante este año el Papa Francisco ha llevado a San José, amado patrón de la Iglesia Universal, a la vanguardia como el modelo para una vida recta. En su espléndida carta pastoral, Patris Corde, (Con Corazón de Padre) escuchamos el aliento del Papa. Cada uno de nosotros puede encontrar en él “un intercesor, un apoyo y un guía en tiempos de dificultades.” (–PC, Intro.)

Jose nos muestra cómo decir “sí” a la vida, a pesar de nuestros propios miedos, fragilidades y debilidades. Porque es José quien fue elegido por Dios para guiar los comienzos de la historia de la redención. Él fue el verdadero ‘milagro’ por el cual Dios salva al niño y a su madre.” (–PC, 5) El niño Cristo “vino a nuestro mundo en un estado de gran vulnerabilidad. Necesitaba ser defendido, protegido, cuidado y criado por Joseph.” (–PC, 5)

El humilde y a menudo oculto carpintero de Nazaret acompañó a María en su embarazo, asistió al nacimiento del Mesías en un establo, presentó a Jesús en el templo, huyó con su familia lejos de su tierra natal para protegerlos y crió a Jesús con amor como si fuera hijo suyo. Permita Dios que nosotros también seamos milagros en la vida de los más necesitados, especialmente al principio y final de la vida.

Querido San José, tú que supiste “convertir un problema en posibilidad confiando siempre en la divina providencia” – PC, 5 ayúdanos a imitar tu fiel confianza y valor.

La oración, el ministerio y su alcance y la defensa en nombre de las madres y sus hijos no nacidos no son solo el trabajo de la iglesia. Por ejemplo, nuestra diócesis ha tenido una fuerte asociación con el estado de Mississippi a través de nuestro programa Born Free, New Beginnings (Nacido Libre, Nuevo Comienzo) durante casi 30 años.

Caridades Católicas es el guardián de este ministerio que se encuentra cómodamente ubicado en el antiguo Priorato Norbertino. La promoción de la vida, la justicia y la paz está bien fundamentada en nuestras Enseñanzas Sociales Católicas; pero esta visión del mundo es adoptada además por muchos que pertenecen a otras tradiciones religiosas o por muchos que no tienen vínculos religiosos. El Mes del Respeto a la Vida sirve para resaltar la labor de amor, que ocurre durante todo el año, en nombre de los no nacidos.

La defensa a favor de los no nacidos ocurrirá al más alto nivel judicial en menos de dos meses, el próximo primero de diciembre, cuando la fiscal general de nuestro estado, Lynn Fitch, argumente el caso de Dobbs vs Jackson Women’s Health Organization ante la Corte Suprema de los Estados Unidos (SCOTUS). A este proyecto de ley se lo conoce comúnmente como la ley del latido del corazón fetal y que podría tener consecuencias históricas. Es un documento sustancial, pero muy legible.

Basado en la tradición legal y el estado de derecho de nuestra nación, este proyecto to ley busca fundamentalmente revocar Roe vs Wade y Casey vs Planned Parenthood y devolver este asunto de vida a todos los 50 estados. “El Tribunal debe sostener que la Ley (Proyecto de Ley) es constitucional porque satisface una revisión de base racional,” o que es razonable porque busca ofrecer una mayor protección para los no nacidos y una preocupación auténtica por las mujeres, y restaurar la integridad de la profesión médica, cuyo estándar fundamental es no causar daño.

El proyecto de ley del latido del corazón fetal es un paso importante para promover la protección del feto. Detrás de todos sus fundamentos se encuentra un profundo respeto por la vida, desde el principio hasta el final. Esta visión de la vida humana requiere una conversión continua hacia todo lo que es verdadero, bueno y hermoso acerca de la creación de Dios, sobre todo, todos nosotros creados a la imagen divina.

Todos hemos tenido y tendremos nuestros momentos de San José que nos obligan a profundizar para poder discernir, decidir y actuar en nombre de la vida. Damos gracias a todos los que trabajan en nombre de los no nacidos y sus madres. Y damos gracias a todos los que trabajan en nombre de la dignidad humana a lo largo de la vida, buscando una mayor justicia y paz en cada paso del camino.

Love of learning linked St. Thomas More and Sister Thea Bowman

Thomas More, saint and martyr, and Sister Thea Bowman, Servant of God and prophet for our time, both had a deep love for learning. Both placed their scholarship in service to their brothers and sisters while witnessing to the eternal love of the Lord Jesus.

By Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz, D.D.
During the time that the Diocese of Jackson was preparing to introduce Sister Thea Bowman’s Cause for Canonization in 2018 I discovered that she had done her doctoral dissertation at Catholic University, Washington, D.C. on St. Thomas More’s final masterpiece while imprisoned in the Tower of London for 15 months prior to his execution.

There are more than a few blessings in this discovery, and one in particular is to celebrate the universality of the Catholic Church. A preeminent Englishman of the 16th century, who had reached the heights of the legal and political professions of his time before becoming a saint and martyr, captured the imagination of a 20th century Servant of God, Sister Thea Bowman.

In the previous edition of Mississippi Catholic we featured Sister Thea’s Cause through the lens of the documentary film that is in the making with a Fall, 2022 release. In this column I present the lens of her doctoral dissertation to feature her scholarship that permeated her charismatic and prophetic voice.

What is the bond that linked these two disciples of the Lord Jesus from over a span of 400-500 years? The English barrister died in 1535 and the Religious Sister was born in 1937. Some historical background is needed to set the stage.

Thomas More was a confidant and favored companion of Henry VIII until he refused to take the Oath of Allegiance to the King who was declaring himself as the head of the Catholic Church in England. His refusal earned him lodging in the Tower of London for 15 months, but his imprisonment was not time wasted.

In the Spring and Summer of 1534 while he waited in the Tower for formal trial and sentencing More began the writing of A Dialogue of Comfort Against Tribulation. He wrote A Dialogue to stir and prepare the minds of Englishmen to withstand courageously and not to shrink at the imminent and open persecution which he foresaw and immediately followed, against the unity of the church and the Catholic faith.

Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz

When Thomas More was in the Tower of London monasteries were still intact, Catholic Churchman were still held in honor, and wholesale persecution had not yet begun. More however knew Henry VIII better than most men did. He also knew the political world with its grappling for power and wealth, and he foresaw what was to come. His formal trial, condemnation and sentencing on July 1, 1535, provided the public forum to state that the issue that concerned him was the king’s undermining of papal authority. On July 5 he wrote his last letter to his daughter, Margaret. On July 6 he was beheaded, not because he was being forced to give up his faith in Jesus Christ, but because this faith was inextricably implanted in the Catholic Church.

More died in physical poverty and worldly disgrace. In A Dialogue of Comfort Against Tribulation he left his last testament and the final legacy of his wisdom. Following the example of Jesus at the Last Supper when he consoled his apostles in anticipation of the tribulation to follow with his crucifixion, this intrepid martyr understood the power of words as a lasting legacy when coupled with witness.

Sister Thea removed from the shelves of academia A Dialogue of Comfort Against Tribulation in order to breathe new life into a masterpiece, whose pages still reach out to us, urging enduring solutions to perennially recurring human problems, she stated at the conclusion of her thesis in 1972.

She entitled her scholarly work, “The Relationship of Pathos and Style in A Dialogue of Comfort Against Tribulation: A Rhetorical Study.” This became her successful doctoral project to elevate pathos into the realms of logos and ethos.

She contended: “More’s attempt to reach the needs of his audience, to reach their hearts as well as their minds, to fire their imaginations with images of Christ’s suffering, yelping devils, damned souls, or the protective care of God, and to delight them so as to make them more receptive of his message, is conscious and deliberate. Pathos, the endeavor to stir the emotions of his hearers, in large measure determines the distinctive character of A Dialogue.”

She further elaborated: “He graphically juxtaposes good and evil, pleasure and pain, life and death. He compares temporal joys and sorrows with those that are eternal. He dwells on the cruelty of the monarch, the folly of worldly vanity, the shame of disloyalty, the fear of hell, the hope of salvation, and above all the love of a suffering Christ, and a provident God. He offers a choice between fidelity to God and the loss of temporal goods, and submission to the king at the risk of eternal salvation.”

Thomas More, saint and martyr, and Sister Thea Bowman, Servant of God and prophet for our time, both had a deep love for learning. Both placed their scholarship in service to their brothers and sisters while witnessing to the eternal love of the Lord Jesus. Both offered comfort and encouragement to overcome tribulation, and in their brightest and darkest hours they did not falter. Both lived until they died, and then went home like a shooting star. They are part of that Cloud of Witnesses who teach and inspire in every generation within the Catholic Church, and far beyond its visible structures.

Amor por aprender unió a Santo Tomás Moro y a hermana Thea Bowman

Ambos, Tomás Moro, santo y mártir, y la hermana Thea Bowman, sierva de Dios y profeta de nuestro tiempo, tenían un profundo amor por el aprendizaje. Ambos pusieron su erudición al servicio de sus hermanos y hermanas mientras testificaban del amor eterno del Señor Jesús.

Por Obispo Joseph R. Kopacz, D.D.
Durante el tiempo en que la Diócesis de Jackson se estaba preparando para presentar la Causa de Canonización de la Hermana Thea Bowman en 2018, descubrí que ella había hecho su tesis doctoral en la Universidad Católica de Washington, DC sobre la obra maestra final de San Tomas Moro mientras estuvo encarcelado durante 15 meses, en la Torre de Londres, antes de su ejecución.
Hay más de unas pocas bendiciones en este descubrimiento, y una, en particular, es celebrar la universalidad de la Iglesia Católica. Un inglés preeminente del siglo XVI, que había alcanzado las alturas de las profesiones legales y políticas de su tiempo antes de convertirse en santo y mártir, santo Tomas Moro, capturó la imaginación de una Sierva de Dios del siglo XX, la hermana Thea Bowman.
En la edición anterior de Mississippi Catholic, presentamos la causa de la hermana Thea a través del lente del documental que se está haciendo, con lanzamiento en otoño de 2022. En esta columna, presento la lente de su tesis doctoral para mostrar su erudición, que impregnó su voz carismática y profética.
¿Cuál es el vínculo que unió a estos dos discípulos del Señor Jesús durante un período de 400 a 500 años? El abogado inglés murió en 1535 y la religiosa nació en 1937. Se necesitan algunos antecedentes históricos para preparar el escenario.
Tomás Moro fue un confidente y compañero favorito del rey Enrique VIII hasta que se negó a prestar el Juramento de Lealtad al Rey, en el que este se declaraba a sí mismo como el jefe de la Iglesia Católica en Inglaterra. La negativa de Moro le valió alojarse en la Torre de Londres durante 15 meses, pero su encarcelamiento no fue una pérdida de tiempo.
En la primavera – verano de 1534, mientras esperaba en la Torre su juicio formal y sentencia, Moro comenzó a escribir “Diálogo de Consuelo contra la Tribulación.” Escribió Diálogo para conmover y preparar las mentes de los ingleses para resistir con valentía y no amedrentarse ante la inminente y abierta persecución que Moro previó y que inmediatamente siguió contra la unidad de la Iglesia y la fe católica.

Obispo Joseph R. Kopacz

Cuando Tomás Moro estaba en la Torre de Londres, los monasterios aún estaban intactos, miembros de la Iglesia Católica todavía eran honrados y la persecución generalizada aún no había empezado. Sin embargo, el conocía mucho más a Enrique VIII que la mayoría de los hombres. También conocía muy bien el mundo político y su lucha por el poder y la riqueza, por eso previó lo que sobrevendría. Su juicio formal, condena y sentencia, el 1 de julio de 1535, proporcionó al foro público el afirmar que el tema que más le preocupaba era la usurpación, por parte del rey, de la autoridad papal. Moro escribió su última carta a su hija Margaret el 5 de julio. El 6 de julio fue decapitado, no porque lo obligaran a renunciar a su fe en Jesucristo, sino porque esta fe estaba inextricablemente implantada en la Iglesia Católica.
Moro murió en la pobreza física y la desgracia mundana. En “Diálogo de Consuelo contra la Tribulación,” dejó su último testamento y el legado final de su sabiduría. Siguiendo el ejemplo de Jesús en la Última Cena, cuando consoló a sus apóstoles anticipándose a la tribulación que seguiría con su crucifixión, este intrépido mártir entendió el poder de las palabras como un legado duradero cuando se este se combina con un testimonio.
La hermana Thea sacó de los estantes de la academia “Diálogo de Consuelo contra la Tribulación,” para darle nueva vida a una obra maestra, cuyas páginas aún nos llegan, instando a soluciones duraderas a problemas humanos perennemente recurrentes, según afirmó al final de su tesis en 1972.
A su trabajo académico lo tituló “La relación entre patetismo y estilo en ‘Diálogo de Consuelo contra la Tribulación,’ un estudio retórico”. Este se convirtió en su exitoso proyecto de doctorado para elevar el pathos (patetismo) a los reinos del logos (Palabra de Dios, o principio de razón divina o segunda persona de la Trinidad encarnada en Jesucristo) y el espíritu.
Ella sostuvo que “El intento de More de llegar a las necesidades de su audiencia, de alcanzar a sus corazones al igual que a sus mentes, de encender su imaginación con imágenes del sufrimiento de Cristo, demonios aulladores, almas condenadas, o el cuidado protector de Dios, y deleitarlos para hacerlos más receptivos a su mensaje, es consciente y deliberado. Pathos, el esfuerzo por despertar las emociones de sus oyentes, determina en gran medida el carácter distintivo del Dialogo.”
La hermana Thea, además, afirmó “Moro yuxtapone gráficamente el bien y el mal, el placer y el dolor, la vida y la muerte. Compara las alegrías y las tristezas temporales con aquellas que son eternas. Se detiene en la crueldad del monarca, la locura de la vanidad mundana, la vergüenza de la deslealtad, el miedo al infierno, la esperanza de salvación y, sobre todo, el amor de un Cristo sufriente y un Dios providente. Ofrece la posibilidad de elegir entre la fidelidad a Dios y la pérdida de los bienes temporales y la sumisión al rey a riesgo de la salvación eterna.”
Ambos, Tomás Moro, santo y mártir, y la hermana Thea Bowman, sierva de Dios y profeta de nuestro tiempo, tenían un profundo amor por el aprendizaje. Ambos pusieron su erudición al servicio de sus hermanos y hermanas mientras testificaban del amor eterno del Señor Jesús.
Ambos ofrecieron consuelo y aliento para superar la tribulación y en sus horas más brillantes y oscuras, no flaquearon. Ambos vivieron hasta que murieron y luego se fueron a casa como una estrella fugaz. Son parte de esa Nube de Testigos que enseñan e inspiran en cada generación dentro de la Iglesia Católica y mucho más allá de sus estructuras visibles.

Our lives are labor of love in God

By Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz, D.D.
After God set the world in motion through the work of creation, he fashioned man and woman from the dust of the earth in the divine image and likeness and entrusted them with the task of developing this grand handiwork. Then and now, God intends that we not lose sight of his divine presence when we apply our talents to building a world that gives glory to the creator, dignity to human life everywhere and a profound awe for the beauty of our planet. For further motivation and inspiration, we, as disciples of the Son of God, recall the words of sacred scripture that proclaim, “for in him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible … all things were created through him and for him. (Colossians 1:15-17) Through faith we know that love is our origin, love is our constant calling and love is our fulfillment in heaven.

We also know that for as long as we live there is much to be done. Perhaps this Labor Day more than ever reminds us that throughout our lives the work of building and rebuilding is constant.

Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz

Recall the sobering yet hopeful words from St. Paul’s letter to the Romans. “We know that the whole creation has been groaning with labor pains together until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons and daughters, the redemption of our bodies.” (Romans 8:19-23)

Are we ever groaning these days, as the pandemic grinds on in many corners of our society and world, whether it be over our children, academically and developmentally, or the loss of life and the suffering that ensues. Considerable rebuilding will be necessary.
Blessed Mother Teresa understood well the lifetime task of building a religious community to serve the dire needs of the present moment, and to endure for generations to come in a world where there are no guarantees. In a poem attributed to her entitled, “Anyway” she mused, “What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.”
Clearly, what she is saying is that when necessary, rebuild and create something better. We can apply her wisdom to the destructive drives inherent in humanity or to the overwhelming power of nature. It seems that wherever we turn, too many are caught between a rock and a hard place, Scylla and Charybdis, the rocky shoals or the churning whirlpool.

On the one hand, there is the destructive power of nature in the virus silently stalking, in raging fires, in howling hurricanes, in unforeseen flooding or in heaving earthquakes. On the other hand, destruction boils over from the abyss of human nature, alienated from our loving creator, in acts of violence, terrorism and war. What once was, is no more and people are pressed to choose. Look ahead and rebuild in one form or another or look backward and wallow in inertia. The Book of Ecclesiastes reminds us that in the cycle of living, “there is a time to break down, and a time to build up.” (3:3) As God’s children we want to be busy about living.

This weekend is the 20th anniversary of 9/11 that obliterated many lives, destroyed iconic structures, wreaked havoc upon our nation’s psyche, and unleashed a 20-year war whose official ending is still spilling blood. Indeed, all of creation groans. Yet, this crisis immediately revealed the goodness and courage of first responders and many others who put aside concern for self in the hope of rescuing their neighbor and the stranger. It took 14 years for the majestic One World Center to be built on the spot of the Twin Towers that were destroyed. It will take a lifetime or more for those who directly experienced this horror to heal. We pray that the work of reconciliation will never cease.

The Son of God, the one through whom and for whom all creation came to be, revealed life’s inevitable vulnerability on Calvary. Yet, on Easter Sunday the dawn from on high broke upon us and we who walk in the shadow of death, now walk by faith and labor with a purpose everyday of our lives, because Christ lives.

In the big questions about our lives and in our daily and familiar tasks, may we know that in God our lives are a labor of love, whether we are building something new with great confidence, or rebuilding in the face of loss. In the prologue of St. John, we know whence the power comes to regain our footing and our hope. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God, all things were made through him. In him was life, and the life was the light for all. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

Diocesan ministries depend on generosity through service appeal

By Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz, D.D.
Dear friends in Christ, due to the pandemic many diocesan, parish and school events and programing were derailed, postponed or curtailed. One of the casualties earlier this year was the parish in-pew process for the 2021 Catholic Service Appeal.

Consequently, our goal of $1,153,654 is down approximately $344,000. All things considered; this shortfall is directly related to the cancellation of the in-pew process over health concerns surrounding the spread of the COVID-19. But as the contributions to the appeal slowed to a trickle by early summer, I and other diocesan officials realized that we had to arrange for one final push to overcome the deficit that will surely have a negative impact on our ministries.

The best approach would be to conduct the in-pew process as the cornerstone for this 11th hour drive, which is now scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 28 and 29. A seven-month delay is unprecedented with this critical step for the success of the service appeal, but then again, we are navigating through unprecedented times.

Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz

The service appeal is an essential component of our annual diocesan budget, funding approximately 20% for our ministries and programs. To put a human face on this deficit, a 25% shortfall of $344,000 is most of what it costs to educate our six seminarians for the academic year ahead. Or this is most of the annual contribution to our Catholic Charities that each year is an unrestricted flow of income that can be used for shortfalls in programing. So much of the work of Catholic Charities is accomplished off the radar, but we are serving vulnerable populations throughout Mississippi, and the vast majority of our sisters and brothers whom we empower are not Catholic. We do the work because we are Catholic, and so we lift up the victims of domestic violence, those weighed down under the yoke of drugs and alcohol, homeless veterans who put their lives on the line, children and young people in foster care and adoption services, young people afflicted by mental health issues and family turmoil, disaster relief, counseling and immigration services, academic enrichment for underserved children and much more. Through all of these programs we fulfill our mission to be a visible sign of Christ’s love.

Fittingly, we are concerned about the gaping deficit in this year’s goal, because all of our diocesan ministries that serve the Lord depend upon your generosity through the service appeal. The office of communication, including our Mississippi Catholic publication, Faith Formation and Evangelization, Youth ministry and Campus ministry, and more, will be adversely affected unless we can substantially or totally erase the deficit.

We are grateful to all who have contributed to this year’s appeal so far. Some even went the extra mile and made a second contribution, realizing that regular donors might not be able to give due to the setbacks of the pandemic.

Currently, we are down 1,470 donors for this year’s appeal. Clearly, the postponement of the in-pew process is the major culprit.

If you are able to contribute at the 11th hour of the 2021 appeal, please know that each and every gift will be a blessing. Whether you can take the opportunity through the in-pew-process on Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 28 and 29, through the mail or online giving, be assured that you will be supporting the mission of the Diocese of Jackson to serve others, to inspire disciples and to embrace diversity. Sister Thea Bowman would be so proud to behold each little light glowing together to become a beacon of hope for all in need, and for the glory of God.

Ministerios diocesanos dependen de su generosidad con Campaña de Servicio Católico

Por Obispo Joseph R. Kopacz, D.D.
Queridos amigos en Cristo, debido a la pandemia, muchos eventos y programas diocesanos, parroquiales y escolares fueron cancelados, pospuestos o restringidos. Una de las víctimas a principios de este año fue la colecta parroquial en persona para la Apelación del Servicio Católico 2021.

Obispo Joseph R. Kopacz

En consecuencia, nuestra meta de $ 1,153,654 solo llega aproximadamente a $ 344,000. Con esto en consideración; este déficit está directamente relacionado con la cancelación de la recogida de donaciones personales en las bancas de la iglesia, debido a problemas de salud relacionados con la propagación del virus.
A medida que las contribuciones a la Campaña se redujeron a un goteo a principios del verano, yo y otros funcionarios diocesanos nos dimos cuenta que teníamos que hacer arreglos para, en un último empujón, superar el déficit, que seguramente tendrá un impacto negativo en nuestros ministerios.
El mejor enfoque sería realizar el proceso en las bancas parroquiales, como piedra angular de esta unidad de 11 horas, que ahora está programada para sábado y domingo, próximos 28 y 29 de agosto. Un retraso de siete meses no tiene precedentes en este paso crítico para el éxito de la colecta para el Servicio Católico, pero, de nuevo, estamos atravesando tiempos sin precedentes.
El llamamiento de ayuda para el Servicio Católico es un componente esencial de nuestro presupuesto diocesano anual, que financia aproximadamente el 20% de nuestros ministerios y programas. Para poner un rostro humano a esta diferencia, es bueno explicar que un déficit del 25% de $ 344,000 es la mayor parte de lo que cuesta educar a nuestros seis seminaristas para el próximo año académico. O puede ser ésta la mayor parte de la contribución anual a nuestras organizaciones benéficas católicas, y que cada año es un flujo de ingresos sin restricciones que se puede utilizar para las suplir las deficiencias en la programación.
Gran parte del trabajo de Caridades Católicas se realiza fuera del radar, muchas veces sin hacerse notar, pero estamos sirviendo a poblaciones vulnerables en todo el estado de Mississippi, y la gran mayoría de nuestras hermanas y hermanos a quienes empoderamos no son católicos. Hacemos el trabajo porque somos católicos, porque levantamos a las víctimas de la violencia doméstica, a los que sufren el yugo de las drogas y el alcohol, a los veteranos sin hogar que arriesgaron sus vidas, a los niños y jóvenes en hogares de acogida y adopción, en servicios a jóvenes afectados por problemas de salud mental y/o disfusión familiar, ayuda en caso de desastre, servicios de asesoramiento e inmigración, enriquecimiento académico para niños desatendidos y mucho más. A través de todos estos programas cumplimos con nuestra misión de ser un signo visible del amor de Cristo.
Oportunamente, estamos preocupados por el enorme déficit en la meta de este año, porque todos nuestros ministerios diocesanos que sirven al Señor dependen de su generosidad a través del llamamiento de servicio. La oficina de comunicación, incluida nuestra publicación católica de Mississippi, Formación de fe y evangelización, ministerio de jóvenes y universitario y más se verán afectados negativamente, a menos que podamos eliminar sustancial o totalmente este déficit.
Agradecemos a todos los que han contribuido hasta ahora al llamamiento de este año. Algunos incluso hicieron un esfuerzo adicional e hicieron una segunda contribución, al darse cuenta de que es posible que los donantes habituales no puedan contribuir debido a los reveses de la pandemia.
Actualmente, hemos perdido 1.470 donantes en el llamamiento de este año. Claramente, el aplazamiento del proceso en las bancas es el principal culpable.
Si usted puede contribuir en la undécima hora de la apelación de 2021, sepa que todos y cada uno de sus donativos serán una bendición. Ya sea que pueda aprovechar la oportunidad a través del proceso en persona, en las bancas el sábado y domingo 28 y 29 de agosto, por correo o donando en línea, tenga la seguridad de que apoyará a la misión de la Diócesis de Jackson de servir a los demás, a inspirar a los discípulos y abrazar la diversidad.
La hermana Thea Bowman estaría muy orgullosa de contemplar cada pequeña luz brillando juntas para convertirse en un faro de esperanza para todos los necesitados y para la gloria de Dios.

Eucharist sustains on path of life

By Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz, D.D.
On the 25th anniversary of his election as the Successor of Peter, and early in the new millennium St. John Paul II on April 17, 2003 bestowed upon the church the Encyclical Letter, Ecclesia de Eucharistia. On this day, the church throughout the world was celebrating Holy Thursday, the beginning of the Paschal Triduum, the institution of the Eucharist, and the foundation for the sacrament of Holy Orders. Instituted at the Last Supper and fulfilled in the death and resurrection of the Lord on Easter morning, “the Eucharist stands at the center of the church’s life” from the beginning.
In this document St. John Paul ardently expressed his hopes and dreams for all of the Lord’s disciples in the Catholic Church throughout the world. “I would like to rekindle this Eucharistic ‘amazement’ by the present Encyclical Letter, in continuity with the Jubilee Year in 2000. To contemplate the face of Christ and to contemplate it with Mary, is the “programme” which I have set before the church at the dawn of the new millennium, summoning her to put out into the deep on the sea of history with the enthusiasm of the new evangelization. To contemplate Christ involves being able to recognize him wherever he manifests himself, in his many forms of presence, but above all in the living sacrament of his body and blood. The church draws her life from Christ in the Eucharist; by him she is fed and by him she is enlightened. The Eucharist is both a mystery of faith and a mystery of light.”

Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz

We recall that in 2002 St. John Paul instituted the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary that begin with Jesus’ Baptism in the Jordan, and continue with the Wedding at Cana, the Proclamation of the Kingdom, the Transfiguration, and culminate with the Eucharist, “the source and summit of the Christian life” the iconic statement from Lumen Gentium, the document on the church from the Second Vatican Council.
The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is a boundless fountain of new life where each generation of the faithful is called to be renewed in Eucharistic “amazement,” from the Successor of Peter in Rome to communities of faith on all points of the compass in the universal church. In recent months, the raucous rhetoric surrounding the prospective document on the Eucharist from the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops has misrepresented the goal of the Conference’s strategic plan for renewal in the church in the spirit of St. John Paul’s Apostolic Letter, Ecclesia de Eucharistia. The following is an overview of a deliberative process that was well underway independent of any political distortion.
“The 2021-24 USCCB Strategic Plan will guide the Conference during the uniquely challenging times we face as a church and nation. The theme chosen for the 2021-2024 USCCB strategic plan, “Created Anew by the Body and Blood of Christ: Source of Our Healing and Hope” emerged as the result of listening sessions with Bishops, the National Advisory Council and USCCB senior staff who were asked to reflect on the challenges and opportunities facing the church in the four years ahead. The need for healing and renewal through a reinvigorated focus on the Blessed Sacrament emerged as the theme most commonly discussed and embraced among the groups; as such, it naturally evolved and was adopted as the theme of the 2021-24 USCCB strategic plan that will guide the Conference over the next four years.”
Moreover, the dispersion of the faithful brought about by the pandemic gives even greater impetus to the wisdom of the strategic plan. The extensive dialogue among the bishops at the recent June meeting appears to have righted the ship and the forthcoming document on the Eucharist will align with the strategic plan for 2021-2024.
Worthiness to receive the Body and Blood of the Lord, or being in the state of grace, has been part of the church’s tradition from the beginning as we read in the words of St. Paul. “Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord. A person should examine himself and so eat the bread and drink the cup. For everyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on themselves.” (1Corinthians 11:27-29)
Obviously, worthiness is a critical element that cannot be dodged because sin and scandal weaken the Body of Christ and compromise the church’s mission in this world. Worthiness and the essential call of the Lord to repentance and conversion are ever ancient and ever new, will be integral in the impending document. For sure, there is a rightful time and place for disciplinary action in the life of the church in every generation, but this publication of the Bishops’ Conference does not have the authority to address personal situations. This is the realm of a particular pastor or bishop.
Coming soon in a church near you, we will have the opportunity this summer to hear, contemplate and celebrate for several weeks the Bread of Life discourse of Jesus from the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John. In the words of St. John Paul II may the proclamation of these gospel passages, our Lord’s own words, be a source of Eucharistic “amazement” spiritual food to sustain us on the path of life, and the pledge of eternal life.