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Posted on 09/20/2017 23:50 PM (CNA Daily News - US)
Lincoln, Neb., Sep 20, 2017 / 04:50 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- An Oklahoma priest martyred in Guatemala will be beatified on Saturday, and his life has much to teach us, Bishop James Conley of Lincoln has said.
“To trust God can be risky and even dangerous at times,” Bishop Conley said in a Sept. 22 column for the Southern Nebraska Register.
“It requires courage. To be courageous requires that we know the Lord. To know him requires that we pray. Not all of us are called to martyrdom, as Father Stanley Rother was. But each one of us is called to trust the Lord, and to know him, love him, and serve him bravely.”
The priest’s life “gives me pause to reflect on my own courage, or lack thereof, in following the Lord,” the Nebraska bishop said. “Fr. Rother was so confident in what the Lord wanted of him. He was unwavering in courage. He walked into danger, even when others warned him against it. At the heart of his courage and confidence was his intimacy with the Lord in prayer.”
Father Rother’s beatification Mass will be said Sept. 23 in Oklahoma City. Before his last Christmas, the priest wrote home about the dangers in Guatemala: “The shepherd cannot run at the first sign of danger.”
Fr. Rother, a priest of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, was from the town of Okarche, Okla. A few years after ordination, he became a missionary to Guatemala, where he would spend 13 years of his life. The dioceses of Oklahoma City and Tulsa had established a mission in Santiago Atitlan, a poor rural community of mostly indigenous people, largely Tz’utujil Mayan Indians.
Drawing on life growing up on his family’s farm, the mission priest would work the fields and repair broken trucks. He built a farmer’s co-op, a school, a hospital, and the area’s first Catholic radio station.
The dangers of Guatemala’s civil war approached the village in 1980, and Fr. Rother supported his friends and parishioners even as many were abducted and killed – “disappeared” in the local phrasing. In January 1981, his name was found on a hit list. He returned to Oklahoma for a few months, but after receiving his bishop’s permission he went back.
On the morning of July 28, 1981, armed men broke into Fr. Rother’s rectory. They were from the non-indigenous ethnic group called the Landinos, who had been in conflict with Guatemala’s indigenous people and rural poor since the 1960s.
The men intended to disappear him, but he resisted. He struggled but did not call for help, so others at the mission would not be endangered. Fr. Rother was shot dead and the attackers fled.
Pope Francis officially recognized his death as a martyrdom in December 2016.
For Bishop Conley, Fr. Rother’s life and death provokes many questions. The priest did not have to be in Guatemala and could have stayed in Oklahoma.
“How many of us would choose to follow the Lord to a near certain martyrdom? Or, if we heard that a friend believed God was calling him to serve in a dangerous mission in a violent country, how many of us might try to stop him?” he asked.
“It would be natural to do so, and reasonable. And yet Fr. Rother knew what the Lord called him to do, and he proceeded faithfully and fearlessly. His bishop, and his family, and his friends, had courage too: the courage to trust that the Holy Spirit was leading him, even when following the Lord into the violence of Guatemala was dangerous.”
“None of us should relish danger for its own sake. None of us should be reckless without purpose,” Bishop Conley said. “But the Christian life is about following the will of the Lord, without counting the cost. And to do that, we need to know and hear the Lord’s voice, and we need to understand the movements of the Holy Spirit.”
Bishop Conley will attend Fr. Rother’s beatification Mass with dozens of bishops, scores of priests, and thousands of other Catholics.
“We will remember the holiness of Fr. Rother, and thank the Lord for the gift of his selflessness,” the bishop said. “We will pray that we might have the same courage that he did, and the same love for our mission, and for the Lord.”
“May Fr. Rother pray for us, as we turn to the Lord, seeking the courage to do his will.”
Posted on 09/20/2017 19:00 PM (CNA Daily News - US)
Washington D.C., Sep 20, 2017 / 12:00 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Sistine Chapel Choir will perform in the U.S. for the first time in three decades, and will sing compositions that one expert says are an important heritage of the American Church.
Italian priest Father Massimo Palombella directs the Sistine choir, which will be singing works by Renaissance composers such as Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, Antonio Allegri and Tomás Luis de Victoria.
“As in Rome, this style of Renaissance polyphony would be adopted by the Churches of the New World as the standard style of music, especially for the Mass,” Dr. Grayson Wagstaff, dean of the Latin American Music Center at The Catholic University of America, explained to CNA.
On Sept. 20, a free concert will be hosted at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington D.C., next to The Catholic University of America.
After attending Italy's prestigious conservatory and spending years as a theology and music teacher, Fr. Palombella became the director at the Pontifical Music Chapel, and began conducting the choir in 2010.
Dr. Wagstaff applauded the Salesian priest's efforts to use the Vatican's historic repertory and rejuvenate this style of music into the daily life of the Papal Chapels.
Fr. Palombella will be performing sounds iconic of the Mexico City Cathedral and the many works of the Spanish composers which had made their way to the “new world.”
“These works by Spanish composers would be the core of music transmitted, taught and copied in manuscripts in Mexico,” Dr. Wagstaff said. “Young boys from Mexico (then 'New Spain') would be selected to receive training in music and become boy choristers for the cathedrals.”
He added that this music is very significant to the “Church's artistic patrimony,” and now has the ability inspire “parishes to focus on quality music and learning about the Church’s legacy of art,” especially from Latin America.
Fr. Palombella studied philosophy and theology at the Salesian Pontifical Unversity, and trained under organ players Luigi Molfino and Bishop Valentino Miserachs Grau. He also attended the Conservatory of Turin.
Ordained a priest to the Salesian order in 1995, he began teaching dogmatic theology at the Pontifical Salesian University and the Language of Music at Sapienza University of Rome. He then succeeded Father Giuseppe Liberto as director of the Sistine Chapel Choir.
In his remarks to CNA, Dr. Wagstaff noted the importance that the upcoming concert has to the university.
“For us, this is a celebration of CUA's role as one of the great centers in the world for teaching and preserving this musical legacy of Catholic tradition as well as our wonderful tradition of musicology and research on the history of music in Rome.”
Posted on 09/20/2017 17:02 PM (CNA Daily News - US)
Washington D.C., Sep 20, 2017 / 10:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A Senate committee on Tuesday voted to advance a bill that seeks to ensure U.S. aid reaches Christian genocide victims in Iraq.
“The vote from this morning is an important step toward providing relief for those victims of the genocide committed by ISIS,” Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), one of the sponsors of H.R. 390, the Iraq and Syria Genocide Emergency Relief and Accountability Act of 2017, stated.
Christians in Iraq who were forcibly displaced from their homes by the expansion of Islamic State in 2014, and many of who have been living in Iraqi Kurdistan, have been dependent on the Chaldean Archeparchy of Erbil and aid groups like the Knights of Columbus and Aid to the Church in Need for basic needs like rent, heating, and food.
Although Mosul and surrounding towns on the Nineveh Plain have been liberated from Islamic State control by coalition forces, some families have not yet been able to return to their homes since they may not have the resources or security to repair their homes and resume their normal lives.
The U.S. has declared that Islamic State committed genocide against Christians, Yazidis, and Shi’a Muslims in Iraq and Syria but, despite being genocide victims, Christians in Iraq have also reported that they have not been receiving official U.S. aid. The aid from NGOs is “not enough,” Smith has said; the Christians need to have access to official U.S. humanitarian aid.
“We’re not asking for new money,” Smith said at a June press conference before his bill passed the U.S. House. “We’re asking to make sure the money that’s in the pot is provided to those who have been left out and left behind for about three years.”
Christians could have much greater access to the aid if it was allowed to go through churches and church organizations, who are able to reach Christian populations, Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), another sponsor of the bill, said at the press conference.
“The State Department would not allow any U.S. dollars to flow to church organizations. And this legislation allows for that,” she said.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted Sept. 19 to advance the bill out of the committee, moving it closer to a floor vote. Smith praised Tuesday’s vote, saying the bill provides much-needed support to the Chaldean Archeparchy of Erbil, which has hosted Christian victims of Islamic State for several years.
“Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Bashar Warda has been sustaining more than 95,000 Christians who escaped ISIS – almost one third of Christians remaining in Iraq,” Smith said.
“It is incomprehensible that the U.S. has not done more to help,” he said, noting that the bill should be passed soon, as “lives are depending upon it.”
And time is running out to ensure that Christians get the assistance they need. Since the Christian families have been away from home for three years and their children are going without education for another year, the Knights of Columbus said they received reports that families could leave Iraq for good by the fall if they do not have a viable way of returning home.
Posted on 09/20/2017 10:23 AM (CNA Daily News - US)
Oklahoma City, Okla., Sep 20, 2017 / 03:23 am (CNA/EWTN News).- When Fr. Stanley Rother, a missionary priest from Okarche, Oklahoma, was killed by rebels in Guatemala, his body was transferred back to the United States to be buried by his family.
But his heart remained in Guatemala.
The native Guatemalans loved their pastor so much that they enshrined his heart at the mission parish in Santiago Atitlan.
On Sept. 23, that heart will go from being a disembodied remain to a first-class relic, a sacred artifact of someone who has been beatified by the Catholic Church.
The keeping and venerating of relics is perhaps one of the more bizarre Catholic practices, but it’s a scripturally-backed practice of the Church since its beginning.
There are three classes of relics recognized by the Church. First-class relics are bodily remains of a saint, such as bones or flesh or hair. Second-class relics are belongings of the saint, such as clothes or other personal items. Third-class relics are items that have been touched to a first- or second-class relic of that saint.
When Archbishop Paul Coakley was installed as head of the Oklahoma City Archdiocese in 2011, he inherited the task of the cause of canonization for Fr. Stanley Rother. As part of this undertaking, he also inherited the task of his gathering relics, a process that officially commenced once it was clear that the martyred priest’s beatification was imminent.
The second-class relics were easy. Over the years, the archdiocese had collected a handful of personal items of Fr. Stanley, donated by friends and family, including some of his clothes, and a pipe that he smoked. Once he is beatified, these things become second-class relics.
But when it came to exhuming the body to collect first-class relics, Archbishop Coakley admits he was a little lost.
“We had to do a lot of research,” the archbishop told CNA. “This happens so rarely, we didn’t know how to go about preparing for this.”
First, he obtained permission and rights to Fr. Stanley Rother’s remains from the priest’s two surviving siblings.
Then, according to Vatican protocol, he gathered the proscribed team of witnesses and medical experts who would help with the canonical exhumation and examination of Fr. Stanley’s body.
The medical team consisted of a pathologist and an orthopedic surgeon, both local Catholics. They helped examine and describe the remains, and compile a report sent to the Holy See. Among other things, the Church looks for signs of incorruptibility, when a body does not decompose. The condition has been found among some saints, although by itself, it is not enough to prove sanctity.
“They had expertise that would be helpful in describing what would be found when his tomb was opened, because we didn’t know what we could find,” Archbishop Coakley said.
Both the exhumation and examination are done “with great dignity and reverence, and there is a process by which we exhumed his body from the family plot at the parish cemetery in Okarche,” the archbishop added.
“And in that process we took one of his ribs, and that’s what we used for preparing first class relics,” he said.
His body was then transferred to a temporary resting place in Resurrection Cemetery, a Catholic cemetery next to the pastoral center in Oklahoma City, while his rib was sent to Rome.
“There is an Augustinian monastery of St. Lucia in Rome, and they are custodians of relics and have experience in preparing relics, so we sent our relic of Fr. Rother to them,” Archbishop Coakley said.
The sisters there will divide the rib into many tiny fragments, which will be encased in reliquaries, available to bishops who wish to obtain relics of Fr. Rother for public veneration. First-class relics are no longer distributed to lay persons, in order to protect the relics from negligence or abuse.
Meanwhile, the task of preparing the third-class relics (sometimes referred to as “touched relics”) of Fr. Stanley fell to the Carmelite Monastery of Rochester, New York, a congregation of 11 discalced, cloistered Carmelite nuns.
Mother Therese, the prioress of the convent, told CNA that while the sisters had done smaller “touched relic” projects for Carmelite saints, this was the first major relic project the convent has undertaken.
“A sister from Oklahoma City mentioned to me that the archdiocese was looking for someone to put together relic cards for Fr. Stanley’s beatification,” she said. “I said, ‘Well we’ve not done this on a huge scale but we are familiar with this process’...so that’s how it came about, a simple question from one of our Carmelite nuns.”
Often, third-class relics distributed at beatifications come in the form of a little piece of cloth embedded in a holy card.
“When the body was exhumed, the bones were wrapped in a very large and special cloth,” Mother Therese said.
This cloth was signed and dated by Archbishop Coakley during the exhumation in May and then sent to the nuns, who are punching small holes in the holy cards of Fr. Stanley and affixing the pieces of cloth – which will become relics once Fr. Stanley is beatified – to the cards.
The holy cards also have a picture of Fr. Stanley on the front, and a prayer for his canonization on the back – some in English and some in Spanish. The sisters have already made 10,000 and are expecting to make several thousand more.
“It’s a very great privilege for us,” Mother Therese said. “It has brought us very close to Fr. Stanley...we feel that he will intercede for us and that he will bless our community and the Church in the U.S. as well, because he’s the first American-born martyr.”
Archbishop Coakley said working on Father Stanley’s cause has been an honor, especially as someone who graduated from the same seminary as Fr. Stanley (though years later) and has been interested in his story for quite some time.
“I took that as a great privilege to be coming into the Oklahoma City Archdiocese at such a time,” he said.
“I...entrusted my ministry to him and prayed for his assistance and intercession as I undertook this ministry, I’ve felt a very near kinship with him since I was a seminarian and a priest and as the archbishop now.”
Posted on 09/20/2017 07:03 AM (CNA Daily News - US)
Washington D.C., Sep 20, 2017 / 12:03 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A research paper that depicts the growth of Catholic health care as a threat to reproductive health ignores the attraction of Catholic hospitals and downplays the ethical concerns about procedures like abortion and sterilization, one commentator has said.
The number of hospitals that are Catholic-sponsored or Catholic-affiliated has increased 22 percent from 2001 to 2016, including through mergers or changes of ownership. This growth is the focus of a September 2017 working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research, “Medically Necessary but Forbidden: Reproductive Health Care in Catholic-owned Hospitals.”
“The ‘problem’ that the authors of this study are examining results from the fact that Catholic hospitals and Catholic healthcare systems have been remarkably successful in America's competitive market,” Edward Furton, an ethicist with the National Catholic Bioethics Center, told CNA Sept. 18.
“Catholic hospitals tend to be better managed, are governed by a sense of social duty, perform greater amounts of charitable care, and have strong ethical safeguards in place to protect their patients.”
Furton attributed the growth of Catholic healthcare to patients’ appreciation for these features.
The National Bureau of Economic Research is an influential domestic policy think tank based in Cambridge, Mass. Its working paper estimated that the expansion of Catholic hospitals reduces by 30 percent the annual rates per-bed of inpatient abortions. The rates of tubal ligations or sterilizations drop 31 percent.
Elaine Hill, a co-author of the working paper, is a professor of health economics at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. She said access to procedures is part of how to “reduce unwanted pregnancy.”
“Policies addressing the ways in which ownership of hospitals might impede access could be very beneficial to the population of women affected,” she told STAT, a health, medicine and scientific research publication from Boston Globe Media.
Furton, however, said the working paper was written by “a group of economists, not healthcare workers.” He questioned the paper’s use of the phrase “medically necessary but forbidden.”
“Neither abortion nor permanent sterilization can be properly described as a medical necessity. They are typically chosen for reasons other than maintaining health,” he said.
“Often times, studies such as this are designed to highlight supposed impediments to health care access within Catholic institutions. In other words, they suffer from an inherent bias,” he added. “In this case, the authors assume that all Americans want unlimited access to abortion and sterilization. That is obviously not true.”
He also defended the presence of Catholic ethics in health care.
“Many people see the reduction in abortion and sterilization as positive goods. The authors assume that denying access to these ‘services’ represents a moral failing of some sort, but not many people would agree,” he said.
“Abortion is obviously of great concern to most people, and few among the general public are fooled by the claim that the lack of sterilization procedures in Catholic hospitals is going to affect contraceptive use among American women,” said Furton. “Contraception is widely available and the refusal to offer permanent sterilizations in Catholic hospitals is not going to change that fact.”
The study estimated that there are about 9,500 fewer tubal ligations each year because Catholic hospitals do not perform them. It charged that this represents “a substantial cost to women, who must subsequently rely on other, more inconvenient suboptimal forms of contraception.” It claimed that black and Hispanic women were disproportionately affected by these restrictions.
The same working paper found that Catholic hospitals showed no statistically significant increase in complications from miscarriages or sterilization procedures.
Data used in the study came from the states of Arizona, Florida, New Jersey, California, New York, and Washington.
The study said that Catholic ethics are not always followed or it would have found a 100 percent reduction in abortions and sterilizations.
Furton said it is regrettable that not all Catholic hospitals follow Church teaching. However, he suggested that some of the procedures cited in the paper’s data could reflect actions that would not violate Catholic ethics.
“For example, some of what the authors of this paper would call abortions are in fact actions in which the child is unavoidably lost while the medical team is performing a procedure that has some hope of saving either the child, the mother, or both. These should not be classified as abortions. They are justifiable under the principle of double effect.”
Some opponents of the expansion of Catholic hospitals that operate according to Catholic teaching include the American Civil Liberties Union and the group the MergerWatch project. They co-authored a 2013 report that claimed the growth of Catholic hospitals was a “miscarriage of medicine.”
Posted on 09/19/2017 23:55 PM (CNA Daily News - US)
St. Louis, Mo., Sep 19, 2017 / 04:55 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Archbishop of St. Louis led an interfaith group of religious leaders in prayer for peace and justice on Tuesday, after protests over the weekend turned violent.
“It is in this humble spirit of peace that we gather together as one human family this afternoon to both pray and reflect. Each one of us brings a heavy heart, but also a faith-filled heart,” Archbishop Robert Carlson of St. Louis said at the Ecumenical Prayer Service for Peace in downtown St. Louis.
Archbishop Carlson led the prayer service after several days of protests took place in the city over the acquittal of a former police officer in a 2011 shooting.
St. Louis Circuit Court Judge Timothy Wilson on Friday acquitted former officer Jason Stockley of first-degree murder charges, stemming from a 2011 shooting of 24 year-old Anthony Lamar Smith after a car chase.
According to a court document reported by the Washington Post, the district attorney charged that Stockley was heard threatening to kill Smith during the car chase, and, once he drove into Smith’s car, got out and shot five times into the car, killing him.
“This Court, in conscience, cannot say that the State has proven every element of murder beyond a reasonable doubt, or that the State has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant did not act in self-defense,” Judge Wilson said, reported by CNN.
After Friday’s ruling, Archbishop Carlson called for prayer and forgiveness, and exhorted members of the community not to react with violence.
“We must ask God for peace in our own hearts and share it with those around us,” he said. “Violence does not lead to peace and justice – they are opposing forces and cannot coexist. I implore each of you to choose peace!”
Protests of the ruling began on Friday evening, and also occurred on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. Protests on Saturday and Sunday reportedly began peacefully, but turned violent after dark when buildings were damaged and police officers were assaulted. Reports claimed that a small contingent of the protesters were violent.
The city’s police department reported making 123 arrests on Sunday, after orders to disperse were ignored by some individuals who blocked street intersections.
At Tuesday’s interfaith prayer service, Archbishop Carlson thanked those in attendance for showing a “sign of your commitment to peace,” and thanked other religious leaders present for their “leadership” and “moral witness.”
According to St. Paul, “we are one in the Lord,” the archbishop said, exhorting the audience to remember their “truest identity as children of God, capable of bringing God’s peace to every corner where division and violence would seek the upper hand.”
He said that “peace is not an unrealistic dream that would blind us to the sin and brokenness of humanity,” but rather that peace and justice go together.
“One cannot cry for peace and ignore justice, and vice versa,” he said. “We do not demand justice without peace in our hearts.”
Other religious leaders from Christian denominations, as well as a Jewish rabbi and an imam, cited long-standing issues in the city of “endemic racism,” poverty, gun violence, and inequality of education, as well as the history of slavery in the area in the 1800s.
Fr. Ronald Mercier, SJ, Provincial superior of the Jesuits USA Central and Southern Province, also cited the need to address the roots of injustice.
To “seek only an end to violence without addressing its roots” would be “dangerous,” he said. “The fruit of injustice is violence.”
“For too many people,” he said, “justice is an unfulfilled reality.” He noted that “the sin of racism” present in the area “deprives all of us of an inability to feel at home.”
“Yes, we need to pray today for the gift of peace,” he said, “a peace that God wants to give us.”
Posted on 09/19/2017 23:09 PM (CNA Daily News - US)
Washington D.C., Sep 19, 2017 / 04:09 pm (CNA).- Have compassion and empathy: especially for those dealing with struggles which are different than yours.
This is the message Dan Mattson hopes all believers will take from his book, which encourages a new sense of compassion for those who have same-sex attractions.
“I’d encourage them to have compassion and empathy,” Mattson said of his message to believers. “Maybe they can’t empathize, but they can have compassion.”
In his book, “Why I Don't Call Myself Gay,” Mattson discusses his objection to the use of the term “gay” – as well as the term “straight” – in reference to human sexuality.
The Church’s traditional view of sexuality – which does not define persons by their attractions – presents a fuller vision of human identity and life, he said. Taken alongside other teachings on suffering and chastity more broadly, this vision for sexuality leads to true happiness for all persons, including those who experience same-sex attractions.
His writings have gained the support of Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles and Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of Sacraments, who wrote the foreword for the book and mentioned his support for the book in a recent op-ed in the Wall Street Journal.
Mattson encouraged those who experience same-sex attractions, along with their family and friends, to have faith in the Church and the Gospel. “Have confidence that the Church is the place for all of (your) loved ones, on any teaching on these issues of such contention these days,” he said. “It’s the source where we’re going to find freedom and true joy. We really have to believe that chastity is the Good News.”
He also encouraged people with loved ones experiencing these attractions “to journey along with them, accompany them in love.” He advised family to “listen to their story” before talking about morality. “Trust that God, in the fullness of time, is going to bring this person back, but equip yourself with good ways to talk about the Church’s teaching as Good News and trust that God will give the opportunity and give you that chance to help bring them home.”
Mattson explained that he wrote the book as a way of making sense of his own experiences with same-sex attraction, and questions he had when he was younger. “Hopefully it will help some other people who love God and want to follow him,” he offered.
He said that, in his experience, the modern way of talking about sexuality in which people are considered as either “gay” or “straight” misses the context the Church provides, which looks at a person as a whole. The same element of Church teaching which deals with sexuality also says “that we all have challenges to growth,” Mattson explained. “Well, this is a challenge to growth for me, but the Catechism tells me what to do and the Church is there to guide me, just like everyone else.”
One of the challenges to growth that Mattson hopes his experience can illuminate is the challenge of loneliness – “a fundamental question that anyone with same-sex attraction has to ask.”
He explained that readers of all backgrounds have offered that they found his testimony to the experience of loneliness fruitful and enlightening, and said that the struggles of loneliness faced by those with same-sex attraction can help others who may be single or widowed or divorced facing the same battle.
“I have found that I write quite a bit about friendship and how good, healthy friendships have helped me, but also I’ve come to realize that loneliness can be a gift we can enter into,” he said.
Posted on 09/19/2017 22:53 PM (CNA Daily News - US)
Menlo Park, Calif., Sep 19, 2017 / 03:53 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- People need to learn how to argue better on the internet, especially about religion, Catholic media personality and Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop Robert Barron said in remarks at Facebook's headquarters on Monday.
“Seek with great patience to understand your opponent’s position,” he advised, adding that it can be “very tempting just to fire back 'why you’re wrong.'”
Instead of going after what’s wrong, he said, one should seek also highlight what your opponent has right. This is an “extraordinarily helpful” way to get past impasses.
Bishop Barron’s Word on Fire website and media content reach millions of people each year over the internet. The bishop spoke to Facebook employees Sept. 18 at the company's Menlo Park, Calif. headquarters on the topic “How to have a religious argument.” The event was live-streamed to around 2,500 viewers.
“If we don't know how to argue about religion, then we’re going to fight about religion,” he said.
For Bishop Barron, argument is something positive and “a way to peace.”
If one goes on social media, he said, “you'll see a lot of energy around religious issues. There will be a lot of words exchanged, often angry ones, but very little argument.”
Bishop Barron praised the intellectual tradition of St. Thomas Aquinas and his time's treatment of disputed questions. A professor would gather in a public place and entertain objections and questions.
“What's off the table? Nothing as far as I can tell,” the bishop summarized. He cited the way St. Thomas Aquinas made the case for disbelief in God before presenting the arguments for rational belief in God.
“If you can say 'I wonder whether there's a God,' that means all these questions are fine and fair,” Bishop Barron continued. “I like the willingness to engage any question.”
Aquinas always phrases the objections “in a very pithy, and very persuasive way.” In the bishop's view, he formulates arguments against God's existence even better than modern atheists and sets them up in the most convincing manner, before providing his responses to these arguments.
Further, St. Thomas Aquinas cites great Muslim and Jewish scholars, as well as pre-Christian authorities like Aristotle and Cicero, always with great respect.
Bishop Barron said authentic faith is not opposed to reason; it does not accept simply anything on the basis of no evidence.
He compared faith to the process of coming to know another human person. While one can begin to come to know someone by reason, or through a Google search or a background check, when a relationship deepens, other questions arise.
“When she reveals her heart, the question becomes: Do I believe her or not? Do I trust her or not?” he said.
“The claim, at least of the great biblical religions, is that God has not become a great distant object that we examine philosophically,” the bishop said. “Rather, the claims is that God has spoken, that God has decided to reveal his heart to his people.”
Bishop Barron addressed several other mindsets that he said forestall intelligent argument about religion.
The mentality of “mere toleration” keeps religion to oneself and treats it as a hobby. However, religion makes truth claims, like claims that Christ rose from the dead.
“Truth claims, if they really are truth claims, cannot be privatized,” he said. "A truth claim always has a universal scope, a universal intent."
“The privatization of religion is precisely what makes real argument about religion impossible.”
While science has created great knowledge that should be embraced, there is the mindset of “scientism” which reduces all knowledge to scientific form.
“It results in a deep compromise of our humanity, it seems to me,” he said, contending that religious truths are more akin to those of literature, poetry and philosophy. The scientistic mindset would have to argue that Shakespeare’s plays or Plato’s philosophical dialogues do not convey deep truths about life, death, faith, and God.
Scientism also mistakes its subject when attempting to consider God. “The one thing God is not is an item within the universe,” Bishop Barron said.
The bishop also faulted a mindset that is “voluntarist,” which believes that the faculty of the will has precedence over the intellect. In a religious context, this holds that God could make two plus two equal five. This gives rise to a view of God as arbitrary and even oppressive.
In response, some people believe humanity’s will trumps the intellect and determines truth through power. According to Bishop Barron, they see God as incompatible with human freedom and, in the words of Planned Parenthood v. Casey, see freedom as the inherent liberty to determine the meaning of one’s own concept of existence, the universe, and human life itself.
Addressing the Facebook employees about their work, he said that their company’s social media network shows an “extraordinary spiritual power” in connecting all the world.
“I think that it’s a spiritual thing that you’re bringing everybody together,” he said.
Posted on 09/19/2017 10:04 AM (CNA Daily News - US)
Denver, Colo., Sep 19, 2017 / 03:04 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The intersection of art, medicine, and faith in the Catholic tradition has a lot to teach today, especially if you’re a doctor.
“Catholic art has a long history of demonstrating the beauty of the human person, beauty both in its health as well as its disease,” Dr. Thomas Heyne, M.D. told CNA. “Catholic artists have been very effective observers and demonstrators of that dual beauty.”
“In looking closely at artwork, we’re able to have a window into what disease looked like many centuries ago as well as how our patients still look today.”
Heyne, who works in the internal medicine department of Massachusetts General Hospital, spoke at a breakout session “Did Michelangelo have Gout?” at the Catholic Medical Association’s annual educational conference, held in Denver earlier this month.
Reviewing historic artwork helps doctors review the presentations of forgotten or rare diseases, he said. It helps improve their observational skills, and remember how patients behaved when lacking simple treatments like pain-relieving ibuprofen.
Citing several studies on medical training, he said that medical examination of art can help make doctors better through honing their observation skills, tolerance for ambiguity, mindfulness, communication skills, and empathy.
Heyne also contended that teaching medicine through art also advances a deeper appreciation for Catholicism’s role in both art and medicine, indicated that looking at classical art is a unique opportunity through which a secular audience can encounter the beauty of Catholic history, especially with regard to care for the sick and poor.
“To me, this is a pretty helpful thing for the new evangelization.”
His presentation drew on many studies and arguments from doctors and art scholars, including his own research.
Among his examples of diagnosing health conditions in art was Giovanni Lanfranco’s work from about 1625: “St. Luke healing the Dropsical Child.” It shows St. Luke taking the pulse of a child with a distended belly, as a woman looks on. A book of the ancient medical writer Hippocrates rests on a nearby table with an icon of a woman saint.
Heyne suggested that the child’s symptoms as painted by Lanfranco could be the earliest known depiction of congenital heart disease.
At the same time, any interpreter must take into account the interplay between realism and stylistic convention. Despite the child’s stomach, the child appears to have a healthy musculature. Lanfranco tended to paint all children beautifully, Heyne explained.
Even the standard iconography of saints can show Catholic awareness of medical problems. St. Roch, a patron saint of plague victims, is often shown with the tell-tale bulba of plague.
In Istanbul’s Chora Church, a fourteenth century mosaic depicts Christ healing a multitude. One person depicted has crutches, another is blind, another appears to have rickets.
The work also shows a sitting man with a bulge nearly the size of a basketball in his groin area. According to the doctor, this is likely a massive inguinal or scrotal hernia.
“This artist put a giant scrotum on the top of a church. This is pre-Puritan,” said Heyne, interpreting the art as saying, “Jesus came to save everyone.”
“I think this is remarkable: ‘No shame: come out and you will be healed’,” he said. “I think it is a remarkable testament to what the human body was back then.”
The mosaic could be the first depiction of a hernia.
The art history of European Christianity shows diseases now associated only with the developing world.
Other artworks show signs of longstanding diseases like leprosy, while others trace the arrival of diseases new to Christian Europe. A 1496 sketch from Albrecht Dürer shows a man with syphilis, just four years after the disease is believed to have spread to Europe from the New World.
Some figures in famous paintings show signs of finger deformities suggesting rheumatoid arthritis, like the hands of the nude women in Peter Paul Rubens’ 1639 painting The Three Graces.
Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa portrait shows the famous subject in great detail. The 25-year-old woman appears to show an accumulation of cholesterol under the skin in the hollow of her left eye. Her hand shows a fatty tissue tumor. She is known to have died at age 37.
Heyne took these conditions together and asked whether Mona Lisa died of a cardiovascular event.
As for master artist Michelangelo, his training in anatomy helped give deeper artistic significance to his work. For instance, his statue Night from 1531, depicting a bare-breasted woman personifying Night, and perhaps death, appears to show signs of a breast tumor.
Heyne did criticize some interpretations of Michelangelo’s Last Judgment. While some suggested the bulging of some figures’ eyes was intended to represent disease, he said it rather simply represented astonishment at the arrival of the apocalypse.
Review of art also helps doctors understand how patients with particular diseases or health conditions were viewed throughout history.
There is the example of the seventeenth-century Spanish painter Diego Velazquez, who painted at least ten portraits of people with dwarfism. These show their “dignity and beauty,” and don’t depict them as “court buffoons,” Heyne said, suggesting this is another role for Christianity in art.
Posted on 09/18/2017 23:29 PM (CNA Daily News - US)
Washington D.C., Sep 18, 2017 / 04:29 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Archbishop of St. Louis called for prayer and peace after a judge acquitted a former St. Louis police officer in the shooting of a man in 2011.
“If we want peace and justice, we must come together as a community through prayer, mutual understanding, and forgiveness,” Archbishop Robert Carlson said Sept. 15. “While acknowledging the hurt and anger, we must not fuel the fires of hatred and division.”
On Friday, St. Louis Circuit Judge Timothy Wilson acquitted former officer Jason Stockley of first-degree murder charges in the shooting of 24 year-old Anthony Lamar Smith in 2011. Stockley, a white officer with the St. Louis Police Department, fatally shot Smith after a car chase.
The case received special attention in the wake of another high profile case in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014, where police officer Darren Wilson fatally shot 18 year-old Michael Brown. Riots occurred in the area, pointing to longstanding racial tensions and alleging a history of police abuse.
Over the weekend, demonstrations in protest of Friday’s ruling took place in the city’s downtown area. Marchers called for reforms to the justice system and called attention to racism. The mayor’s house was reportedly damaged in the protests.
Demonstrations on Saturday began peacefully but turned violent after dark, the St. Louis Police Department reported on its Facebook page on Saturday night. Nine officers had been injured by late Saturday night, and tear gas was deployed after officers had been pelted with bricks and other objects, the department said.
On Sunday, the police reported making arrests after protesters blocked street intersections and orders to disperse were ignored; the department reported over 100 arrests made, according to the Washington Post. The Guardian reported that a group of police officers in riot gear chanted “Whose street? Our street” on the side of a street on Sunday. On Monday morning, the demonstrations were peaceful and no arrests were made, the department said.
Archbishop Carlson said that prayer and solidarity are the answers to the verdict, not violence and discord. “We must ask God for peace in our own hearts and share it with those around us,” he said.
“Violence does not lead to peace and justice – they are opposing forces and cannot coexist. I implore each of you to choose peace! Reject the false and empty hope that violence will solve problems. Violence only creates more violence,” he said.
An interreligious prayer service for peace has been planned for 3 p.m. on Tuesday at Kiener Plaza, led by Archbishop Carlson and other religious leaders.
“We must work together for a better, stronger, safer community, one founded upon respect for each other, and one in which we see our neighbor as another self,” the archbishop said.