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Doctrines & Beliefs Posts

Discernment Matters: The choices of a lifetime - LARGE AND IN CHARGE

Posted by: Alice L. Camille   🕔 Tuesday 26, December 2017 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Doctrines & Beliefs

GOD IS THE ALMIGHTY. Jesus is Lord. Christ is King. We use these phrases liberally in our tradition, but what are we really saying? The message is one of sovereignty—a creaky multisyllabic word that sounds at once old-fashioned and formidable. Sovereignty is the original superpower. No one is above the sovereign. No authority can limit and no voice overrule such a person. Sovereignty gets its way. 

Grandiose statements are generally the hallmark of arrogant individuals. Nations can be arrogant, too. Some claim that God, by one name or another, is on their side, blessing all their deeds and rooting for their success. To be honest, we may hear some of our neighbors say “God Bless America” in a tone that’s aggressive toward and dismissive of the fate of other nations. This possessive attitude about God’s favor is as old as the Bible. “God Bless Israelites,” some ancient stories positively recommend, “and divine wrath befall the rest of you!” 

The sovereignty of God, however, is by definition the biggest superpower there is. It can never be a gun in your arsenal or mine, pointed at our opponents. God can’t be controlled. Those who imagine they have the wrath of God on a chain, to be unleashed on their enemies at the appointed time, are kidding themselves. God is always large and in charge. No earthly authority, no army, no superpower nation merits our ultimate allegiance.

Pope Francis calls for an end to the death penalty

Posted by: Katie Loftus   🕔 Sunday 21, February 2016 Categories: Doctrines & Beliefs,Pope Francis

CNN reports that Pope Francis called for an end to the death penalty, asking Catholic leaders to recognize the Year of Mercy by placing a moratorium on the practice for a year. 

In St. Peter's Square, he said, "I make an appeal to the conscience of all rulers, so that we can achieve an international consensus for the abolition of the death penalty, and I propose to those among them who are Catholic to make a courageous and exemplary gesture: that no sentence is executed in this Holy Year of Mercy."

The pope's remarks come as an international conference on "A World Without the Death Penalty" begins in Rome on Monday. Ministers of justice from more than 30 countries will attend to discuss the issue.

Pope Francis hopes the conference will help efforts to end capital punishment. "The commandment 'Thou shalt not kill' has absolute value and applies to both the innocent and the guilty," he said.

Students gather in Capitol to push pope's message

Posted by: Katie Loftus   🕔 Monday 16, November 2015 Categories: Mission & Evangelization,Doctrines & Beliefs,Pope Francis,Catholic culture

The Christian Post reports that hundreds of Catholic high school and college students met in Washington, D.C., last week and urged Congress to stand with Pope Francis and his message on climate change, immigration, and human rights in Central America.

The students also heard from Sister Simone Campbell, S.S.S., a Sister of Social Servie and Executive Director of NETWORK, a Catholic social justice lobby group. “Faith through justice," said Campbell, "takes care of our earth, takes care of our people, takes care of our politics. So you all, use this moment to build bridges and transform our nation and give people hope.”

Over the weekend, the students met with members of Congress and discussed policy. At the end of the conference, the Ignatian Solidarity Network hosted a day of advocacy on Capitol Hill, the largest Catholic advocacy day of the year.

Plenary indulgence for Year of Consecrated Life decreed in Boston

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Tuesday 29, September 2015 Categories: Doctrines & Beliefs,Consecrated Life

The Boston Pilot reports that Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley has issued a decree to allow Catholics to receive a plenary indulgence during the Year of Consecrated Live through Feb. 2, 2016. 

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, a plenary indulgence is: "a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain prescribed conditions through the action of the Church which, as the minister of redemption, dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfactions of Christ and the saints."

Effective Sept. 10, Catholics in the Archdiocese of Boston can receive the plenary indulgence in the following ways:

1. make a pilgrimage to Boston's Cathedral of the Holy Cross and St. Clement Shrine during the Year of Consecrated Life; or

2. attend Year of Consecrated Life celebrations such as the one held at the Cathedral on Nov. 29 or any open church in the archdiocese that day after 2 p.m.; or

3. worship with Franciscan women and men at their places of worship and/or, where invited, at their residences on Oct. 3, the Transitus of Saint Francis, or Oct. 4, the Feast of Saint Francis.

While making pilgrimage or attending a special Year of Consecrated Life celebration, those seeking indulgence must:

1. recite publicly the Liturgy of the Hours or for an appropriate amount of time dedicate themselves to pious thoughts;

2. pray the Our Father, recite the Profession of Faith or Creed and make "pious invocations" to the Blessed Virgin Mary;

3. pray for the intentions of the pope and make a sacramental confession and receive Communion as soon as possible. 

Read more about The Gift of the Indulgence from the Vatican website today.

Sister Helen Prejean testifies for Boston Marathon bomber

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Tuesday 12, May 2015 Categories: Catholic culture,Prayer and Spirituality,Doctrines & Beliefs
 The mission of the Sisters of St. Joseph, Sister Prejean's congregation,
is to work toward the union of God and neighbor without distinction. 

Death penalty opponent and activist Sister of St. Joseph Helen Prejean made headlines and was a trending topic on Twitter Monday for doing what she does best: social justice ministry. Sister Prejean was called to testify for the defense in the sentencing of the convicted Boston Marathon bomber. She said she had met with Dzhokhar Tsarnaev five times and that "he expressed sympathy for his victims during their talks," according to The jury is deliberating a sentence of death or life in prison for Tsarnaev.

Last November at the University of Michigan, Prejean challenged students to ponder the question that calls her to continue to advocate against the death penalty: “Are people worth more than the worst thing they have done?”

Prejean's story has become the subject of movies (including the Academy Award-winning Dead Man Walking, starring Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn), books, and even an opera. She has inspired national debate on the death penalty and helped drive the Catholic Church’s opposition to state executions. Prejean divides her time between educating citizens about the death penalty and counseling death row prisoners, which has included accompanying six men to their deaths. She also travels around the world giving talks about her ministry.

Read more about her ministry and challenge to college students here.

Pope Francis to UN nutrition conference: ‘We ask for dignity, not charity’

Posted by: Katie Loftus   🕔 Tuesday 25, November 2014 Categories: Doctrines & Beliefs
Pope Francis addressing the United Nations Conference on Nutrition.

Pope Francis spoke out about the problem of waste in our society during the United Nations Conference on Nutrition in November. He said that having access to an adequate amount of food is a human right and should not dictated by profits.

Pope Francis warned against the ‘paradox of plenty,’ a term Pope John Paul II used during the first conference on nutrition in 1992. This paradox, in which there is enough food for all, but not all get to eat, remains true today, according to Pope Francis.

He urged people to work against waste and the commercialization of food, saying, “It is painful to see that the struggle against hunger and malnutrition is hindered by 'market priorities,' the 'primacy of profit,' which have reduced foodstuffs to a commodity like any other, subject to speculation.”

Read more here.

The church exists because of—not despite—our differences

Posted by: Patrice Tuohy   🕔 Tuesday 10, March 2009 Categories: Doctrines & Beliefs

I stumbled upon this comment from an address given to vocation directors about the diversity in mission and ministries among religious communities, but it certainly has a wider application for all Catholics and Christians:

“The church exists today because of the contentiousness of Paul and the impetuousness of Peter. It exists today because of the gentleness of John and the passionate love of the Magdalen. It exists because of the diplomacy of Timothy and the generous hospitality of Lydia. It exists because of the capable leadership of Phoebe and the eloquent wisdom of Stephen. As the early church had them and their contributing gifts and charisms, today it has us. Saint Catherine of Siena wrote in her Dialogues that God said to her: ‘I could well have made human beings in such a way that they had everything, but I preferred to give gifts to different people, so that they would all need each other.’ ”

—Brother Paul Bednarcyk, C.S.C., from “Empowered by the Holy Spirit, let’s work together to build our future,” the 2009 Winter issue of Horizon.

Former doorman closes the door on criminals

Posted by:   🕔 Thursday 01, January 2009 Categories: Doctrines & Beliefs

"He's just the doorman." With those words residents of an upscale co-op in Manhattan dismissed the young Patrick Fitzgerald, who spent his summers working as a doorman to help pay for college. This Catholic schoolboy turned tough prosecutor on some of the past decade's most high profile cases is not now so easily dismissed. Fitzgerald, who holds the position of U.S. Attorney for the Eastern Division of the Northern District of Illinois, was once again in the spotlight with the recent of arrest of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who was charged with selling the Senate seat left vacant by President Elect Barak Obama.

Fitzgerald has a reputation as a workaholic and uncorruptible who fights mob bosses, terrorists, drug lords, and double-dealing public servants.

Friend Richard Phelan, a Chicago lawyer, says of Fitzgerald "If he were not a prosecutor, he'd be a priest. He's totally and completely dedicated." (Time, Oct. 30, 2005).

His parents, who were born on opposite sides of County Clare, Ireland, met in the United States and raised their son in the Midwood-Flatbush area of Brooklyn. After attending Our Lady Help of Christians grammar school and Regis Jesuit High School, he was a Phi Beta Kappa math and economics student at Amherst College and received his law degree form Harvard Law School in 1985.

"I'm very indebted to my parents. They were very hardworking, straight, decent people,” Fitzgerald said in a 2005 Washington Post article by Peter Slevin. “The values we grew up with were straight-ahead. We didn't grow up in a household where people were anything but direct. I'm hoping that if you're a straight shooter in the world, that's not that remarkable."

This onetime doorman has made a career of showing the prison door to an array of criminals. In addition to being the special prosecutor investigating the leak of the name of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame, Fitzgerald convicted Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and the defendants in the bombings of U.S. embassies; the staff of the 9/11 commission called him one of the world's best terrorism prosecutors. He also extracted a guilty plea from Mafia boss John Gambino and successfully prosecuted former Illinois governor George Ryan and associates of Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley on influence-peddling and corruption charges.

View Fitzgerald’s press conference announcing the arrest of and criminal complaint against Blagojevich:


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Test your faith

Posted by: Patrice Tuohy   🕔 Tuesday 16, September 2008 Categories: Doctrines & Beliefs

I'm a long way away from the days when Sister Firmina would test us third graders on our weekly catechism, but I remember learning the four marks of the church from her. She would be proud that I got question #7 right on the "What's your Catholic IQ" quiz I came across in the current issue of Catechist, However, none of my high school and college New Testament professors will be pleased to learn that I missed #3. Better get back to my scripture studies!

Anyway hope you enjoy it. Let us know what stumped you and what you learned. Or better yet send us some of your questions, and we'll create our own Vision Catholic IQ quiz.

What's your Catholic IQ Quiz

Answer key


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When it comes to sex . . .

Posted by: Dan Grippo   🕔 Friday 15, August 2008 Categories: Doctrines & Beliefs

When it comes to sex, students at Catholic colleges apparently aren’t making choices that are much different from students at secular institutions, according to a new study. A large percentage of college students see no connection between their sexual behavior and their religious faith, says Boston University religion professor Donna Freitas in Sex and the Soul, published recently by Oxford University Press.

Despite the seemingly casual exterior, however, when given the chance to talk about their feelings many of students involved in the “hook-up culture” report feeling “awkward, used, dirty, regretful, empty, alone, miserable, disgusted, ashamed, duped,” Freitas said at a recent symposium. “They wanted to change the culture.”

Students at Catholic institutions, much like their counterparts at secular schools, seem to divorce their sexual practices from their spiritual life because they believe religious teachings on sex are outdated, potentially even laughable, said Freitas, a Catholic theologian and assistant professor of religion at BostonUniversity.

According to an article in the National Catholic Reporter (NCR), Freitas’ research grew out of a class she taught on dating at St. Michael’s College in Burlington, Vermont, in which students opened up with her and with each other about their dissatisfaction with the predominant “hookup culture” on campus. It eventually led her and five research assistants to survey 2,500 students online, read 500 journals, and individually interview 111 students.

“With the exception of evangelicals, American college students see almost no connection between their religious beliefs and their sexual behavior,” says Freitas. “This radical separation of religion and sex tells us important things not only about the power of the college hookup culture but also about the weakness of religious traditions in the face of it.” 

We’d like to hear from you on this subject. Here are a few questions you might consider responding to:
Would you agree that a “hook-up culture” exists on college campuses, and if so, how widespread do you think it is?
How do you feel about the sexual values and attitudes on campuses today?
Are you personally familiar with the Catholic Church’s teachings on sex and sexuality? If so, how important a factor are they in your own decision-making about sex?
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What Catholic voters care about

Posted by: Patrice Tuohy   🕔 Thursday 07, August 2008 Categories: Doctrines & Beliefs

Catholic voters—47 million strong—are being wooed by Democrats and Republicans alike in the upcoming election cycle. “The trick,” says Amy Sullivan in a recent Time article, “is figuring out what Catholics want.”

That is no easy task. But here are the issues that should be of concern to Catholics as they weigh and measure the candidates, according to the United States Conference of Catholic bishops’ website

The Right to Life and the Dignity of the Human Person: Human life is sacred. Direct attacks on innocent human beings are never morally acceptable. Within our society, life is under direct attack from abortion, euthanasia, human cloning, and destruction of human embryos for research. These intrinsic evils must always be opposed. This teaching also compels us as Catholics to oppose genocide, torture, unjust war, and the use of the death penalty, as well as to pursue peace and help overcome poverty, racism, and other conditions that demean human life.

Call to Family, Community, and Participation: The family, based on marriage between a man and a woman, is the fundamental unit of society. This sanctuary for the creation and nurturing of children must not be redefined, undermined, or neglected. Supporting families should be a priority for economic and social policies. How our society is organized—in economics and politics, in law and public policy—affects the well-being of individuals and of society. Every person and association has a right and a duty to participate in shaping society to promote the well-being of individuals and the common good.

Rights and Responsibilities: Every human being has a right to life, the fundamental right that makes all other rights possible. Each of us has a right to religious freedom, which enables us to live and act in accord with our God-given dignity, as well as a right to access to those things required for human decency—food and shelter, education and employment, health care and housing. Corresponding to these rights are duties and responsibilities—to one another, to our families, and to the larger society.

Option for the Poor and Vulnerable: While the common good embraces all, those who are in greatest need deserve preferential concern. A moral test for society is how we treat the weakest among us—the unborn, those dealing with disabilities or terminal illness, the poor and marginalized.

Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers: The economy must serve people, not the other way around. Economic justice calls for decent work at fair, living wages, opportunities for legal status for immigrant workers, and the opportunity for all people to work together for the common good through their work, ownership, enterprise, investment, participation in unions, and other forms of economic activity.

Solidarity: We are one human family, whatever our national, racial, ethnic, economic, and ideological differences. Our Catholic commitment to solidarity requires that we pursue justice, eliminate racism, end human trafficking, protect human rights, seek peace, and avoid the use of force except as a necessary last resort.

Caring for God’s Creation: Care for the earth is a duty of our Catholic faith. We all are called to be careful stewards of God’s creation and to ensure a safe and hospitable environment for vulnerable human beings now and in the future.

Responsible citizenship is a virtue, and participation in political life is a moral obligation, the bishops tell us. So, above all, VOTE!


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Global climate changes ahead

Posted by:   🕔 Monday 30, July 2007 Categories: Clergy,Doctrines & Beliefs
After leading a team of 20 Catholic men and women religious to a United Nations conference on climate change last November in Nairobi, Kenya, U.S. Maryknoll Father John Brinkman said that "global climate change is not about economic theory or political platforms, nor about partisan advantage or interest group pressures . . . but protecting both the human environment and the natural environment," following God's command to "take care of other created beings with love and compassion.”

Mentioning the words of the late Pope John Paul II, Father Brinkman, a member of Maryknoll's commission on ecology and religion, said, "God has endowed humanity with reason and ingenuity that distinguish us from other creatures," and "ingenuity and creativity have African churches urge industrialized nations to remedy emissions debt enabled us to make remarkable advances and can help us address the problem of global climate change. It is very unfortunate that we have not always used these endowments wisely," he said.
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