VOCATIONS--Sisters of the Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matara are seen after the ceremony where they professed vows at Holy Comforter-St. Cyprian Catholic Church in Washington, D.C., Nov. 1. National Vocations Awareness Week is Nov. 5-11. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)

Mass formally opens canonization cause for Chief Black Elk

PINE RIDGE, S.D. (CNS) -- During a Mass to formally open the sainthood cause for Nicholas Black Elk, the Native American was described as someone who merged the Lakota and Catholic culture in a way "that drew him deeper into the mystery of Christ's love and the Church." Black Elk's love for God and Scripture led him to become a catechist, fulfilling the mission of all disciples, said Bishop Robert D. Gruss of Rapid City in his homily at the Oct. 21 Mass at Holy Rosary Church in Pine Ridge. The bishop said that for 50 years Black Elk led others to Christ often melding his Lakota culture into his Christian life. "This enculturation can always reveal something of the true nature and holiness of God," he said, adding that Black Elk always "challenged people to renew themselves, to seek this life that Christ offers them." Bishop Gruss said Black Elk's life as a dedicated catechist, spiritual leader and guide "inspired many to live for Christ by his own story." With the formal opening of his cause, Black Elk now has the title "servant of God." Black Elk was born sometime between 1858 and 1866. He died Aug. 19, 1950, at Pine Ridge.

Bishop praises Lutheran-Catholic relations during Reformation program

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Retired Auxiliary Bishop Denis J. Madden of Baltimore offered an upbeat assessment that Catholic-Lutheran understanding in the United States is stronger than it has ever been and expressed hope that both churches will become closer after future dialogues. Speaking during an interfaith program Oct. 31 near Capitol Hill marking the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, Bishop Madden said the task to achieve full unity will require hard work and will only come through the grace of God. "I think the future is filled with hope and with opportunity. We must take full advantage of the opportunity we have before us," Bishop Madden said during a 25-minute discussion at the Lutheran Church of the Reformation with Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. "People are really hungering for sharing the Eucharist together," said Bishop Madden, co-chairman of the U.S. Lutheran-Catholic Dialogue. Bishop Madden said the positive discussions among the once-bitter faith communities serve as an example of what can happen when hearts and minds are open to God's wishes for the faithful.

Cardinal Wuerl urges Catholics to confront, help overcome sin of racism

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The sin of racism must be recognized, confronted and overcome, Washington Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl said in a new pastoral letter, "The Challenge of Racism Today." "Intolerance and racism will not go away without a concerted awareness and effort on everyone's part. Regularly we must renew the commitment to drive it out of our hearts, our lives and our community," the cardinal wrote in a letter dated Nov. 1, All Saints' Day, that was addressed to the clergy, religious and laity of the Catholic Church of Washington. The letter from Washington's archbishop comes at a time when racism issues and calls for racial justice have sparked protests on city streets, college campuses and even pro football fields across the country. "The mission of reconciliation takes on fresh emphasis today as racism continues to manifest itself in our country, requiring us to strengthen our efforts. We are all aware of incidents both national and closer to home that call attention to the continuing racial tensions in our society," Cardinal Wuerl wrote. He noted that the nation's Catholic bishops have established an Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism made up of clergy, laywomen and laymen "to speak out against this divisive evil that leave great harm in its wake."

Toronto cardinal urges Parliament to keep religious provisions in place

OTTAWA, Ontario (CNS) -- Parliament would be sending a "disturbing message" to Canada's religious community if it eliminates a law that currently makes it an offense to disrupt a religious service, Cardinal Thomas Collins told a parliamentary committee. "More than ever, we need to legislate protection for religious services taking place," the Toronto cardinal told the House of Commons Justice Committee. Speaking by video conference Oct. 30, Cardinal Collins expressed a "grave concern" shared by Canada's bishops over Bill C-51. It proposes to remove a section of the Criminal Code that currently makes it an indictable offense to threaten or obstruct clergymen or ministers from celebrating services or going about their work. Bishop Lionel Gendron of Saint-Jean-Longueuil, president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops who attended the Ottawa hearing, told the committee: "We believe attacks on religion are not like other attacks against public safety -- they are not only more grave but threaten the essence of democracy itself. ... This is because religious freedom is the cornerstone of human rights."

Catholic leaders welcome more troops in Central Africa, but want weapons

OXFORD, England (CNS) -- Catholic leaders in the Central African Republic welcomed the strengthening of U.N. peacekeeping operations, but also said the U.N. should lift an arms embargo so government forces can defend themselves. "Some of the peacekeeping contingent has lacked equipment and been hindered by bureaucracy, so this reinforcement is an important step," said Bishop Nestor-Desire Nongo-Aziagbia of Bossangoa, vice president of the nation's bishops' conference. "Armed groups are going around our country, killing and maiming people. Unless concrete action is taken to disarm and resist them, nothing can be achieved," he told Catholic News Service Oct. 30. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres visited the Central African Republic in late October and met with Muslim and Christian religious leaders. Bishop Nongo-Aziagbia told CNS the secretary-general had promised tougher action on U.N. resolutions and a more effective role for its 12,500-member military mission, MINUSCA, which is to be increased by 900 troops when its mandate is renewed Nov. 15.

Assisting victims of war is a work of mercy, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Members of the military and of humanitarian agencies who risk their lives to save others or to alleviate their suffering are precisely those for whom Jesus will say, "Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me," Pope Francis said. For decades, the Geneva Conventions have tried to establish rules to protect innocent civilians in times of war, yet "atrocious crimes" and shocking violations of human dignity continue to occur, the pope told participants at a conference on international humanitarian law. The conference was sponsored by the Italian Ministry of Defense and the Carabinieri, Italy's military police. Pope Francis met Oct. 28 with the 150 conference participants and with 100 officer candidates from the Carabinieri. Despite the ongoing, "praiseworthy attempt" to codify humanitarian law to protect noncombatants, religious and cultural monuments and the environment during periods of strife, the pope said, so many atrocities continue around the globe that it leads to "a certain saturation that anesthetizes and, to some degree, relativizes the seriousness of the problem."

On contraception, church must continue to defend life, cardinal says

ROME (CNS) -- The acceptance of artificial contraception by some Christian churches and communities beginning in the 1930s has led "to the monstrosity of what is today known as procreative medicine," which includes abortion, said German Cardinal Walter Brandmuller. Inaugurating an Oct. 28 conference anticipating the 50th anniversary of Blessed Paul VI's encyclical "Humanae Vitae," Cardinal Brandmuller told participants that in ignoring traditional church teaching men and women today have seated themselves "on the throne of the Creator." In "Humanae Vitae," published in 1968, Pope Paul underlined the responsibility that goes with human sexuality and marriage. While he taught that couples can space the birth of their children for valid reasons, they must use only natural methods of avoiding fertility. Birth control, he said, causes an "artificial separation" of the unitive and procreative aspects of married love. In his speech at the Rome conference, Cardinal Brandmuller said that after the Second Vatican Council, the church faced significant pressure -- including from within its own ranks -- to endorse contraception as "morally justifiable" just as the Anglican Church had done at the 1930 Lambeth Conference and the U.S. Federal Council of Churches, the precursor of the National Council of Churches, did in 1961.

Priest resigns as consultant on doctrine after letter to pope

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- After publication of his letter to Pope Francis questioning the pontiff's teachings, Father Thomas Weinandy has resigned from his position as consultant to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Doctrine. The Capuchin Franciscan priest is former executive director of the U.S. bishops' Secretariat of Doctrine and Canonical Affairs, serving in the post from 2005 until 2013. He expressed loyalty to the pope but told him that "a chronic confusion seems to mark your pontificate." He released his letter to several Catholic and other media outlets Nov. 1, including Crux. The priest told Crux, a Catholic news outlet, he did not write the letter in an "official capacity," and he was alone responsible for it. James Rogers, chief communications officer for the USCCB, confirmed Father Weinandy resigned his position as a consultant to the USCCB Committee on Doctrine. In a separate statement, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, USCCB president, said the priest's resignation "gives us an opportunity to reflect on the nature of dialogue within the Church." He said it should be acknowledged "legitimate differences exist," but he urged all involved in Church debates exercise "Christian charity."

From Father Thomas Mattison

When thinking about childlessness and celibacy and voluntary renunciations of various sorts, let us take note, too, of those deprivations, hurts, injustices and differences that seem to be visited so unjustly on so many.
Even the most basic human concern asks: Must one suffer these lacks? When so posed, the question begs the answer: One must not so suffer. In an age that worships technology’s – medical, pharmacological, legal – ability to ‘fix’ what is judged to be broken. The clear implication of that response is that one who suffers has a right to be fixed, to be changed, to have others changed, to have the whole culture changed and to have the ‘justice’ system arrange for the costs to be borne by someone else. And if that cannot be arranged, then they right to be helped to die!
There are so many remedies for those who suffer unjustly that we have begun to imagine that suffering itself is wrong. Worse! We begin to think that those who suffer willingly or without complaining must be ‘sick’ or uninformed or, maybe, getting what they asked for when they didn’t take care of themselves at some earlier time. In a fixable world, sufferers lose any right to compassion!
Those of us who are of a certain age learned a different answer: Offer it up! We may want to laugh at that, but it holds a profound spiritual truth. Compared to what others can and have, I may be impoverished. But that impoverishment does not diminish the reality of God’s love for me. Nor does it rob me of the ability to be brave, to be generous, to be patient, to be forgiving, to be compassionate, to be loved, to be grateful. Some impoverishments may even provide me with that ability to inspire others; isn’t that what a support group is about?
Suffering can make me more aware of my need for God and more willing to trust his love. Suffering so that his love can reach others makes me more and more like Jesus, even if I look more and more like the ‘losers’ of the world. Karl Marx lampooned Christianity as ‘the opiate of the masses’. A cult of entitlement has led us to an epidemic of opiates.
There are those who, with greater and greater frequency, are beginning to ask if fixing the different and leveling all disparities is actually a good idea. If all difference is abolished – maybe even made illegal – what will be the fate of the truly exceptional? Will they, too, be banned because they make others feel inadequate?
We know that state-sponsored collectivism produced a loss of incentive, a loss of healthy competition and a precipitous cultural regression. It did not stop greed or repression or persecution or torture or murder – either private or judicial. The tyrannical few and the tyrannical many are all dyed in the same blood.
‘Offering it up” may sound quaint or old fashioned when we can make someone else pay for our happiness. On the other hand, the poor in spirit are promised the Kingdom of God and those who mourn are promised comfort and those who make peace are called children of God.
Father Mattison is pastor of Christ our Savior Parish in Manchester Center and Arlington. For more about his parish, go to christoursaviorvt.com.

Catholic Radio launched

“Catholic Radio is up and broadcasting in Burlington, Winooski, Essex and South Burlington! Congratulations to Donna McSoley and all who helped her make this happen,” Burlington Bishop Christopher Coyne enthused on social media.
The station went live Sept. 29, the Feast of the Archangels.
Tune in to WRXJ, 105.5 FM for Our Lady of Perpetual Help Radio, dedicated to helping listeners grow in holiness in Jesus Christ.
The low-power radio station is owned by St. Francis Xavier Parish Charitable Trust; it broadcasts from St. Francis Xavier Parish in Winooski.
A member of the parish, Donna McSoley, landed a permit with the Federal Communications Commission to build the radio station. She now serves as its president.
An Oct. 1 post on the non-profit station’s Facebook page noted, “We are on the air! Tune in to 105.5 FM to hear Our Lady Of Perpetual Help Radio — your prescription for joy.”
Our Lady of Perpetual Help Radio’s programming purpose is evangelization and catechesis. Broadcasting from Winooski, it reaches communities in the Burlington area with its signal reaching across Lake Champlain into New York.
McSoley said she was relieved, excited and happy to have the station on the air. “I love listening to it in the car,” she enthused. “Now the fun part can start.”
She would like to include homilies of local priests, some local programming and talks on topics of Catholic interest and on topics of social issues.
Programming currently includes EWTN Live, Mornings with Mother, Sunday Night Prime and Women of Grace. “The EWTN content is so excellent,” McSoley said.
Through broadcasting scripture, sound doctrine and pastoral advice, the station is committed to helping listeners understand the Catholic faith, increase hope by preaching truth and bring about the interior conversion that is demanded of the Gospels.
According to its website, Our Lady of Perpetual Help Radio Inc. is faithful to the teachings of sacred Scripture, sacred tradition and the magisterium: “We hope that our encouragement will bring people in deeper union with God, and in doing so, strengthen our community. In a world that has lost its way, we offer hope and invite all to know clarity, wisdom and truth through the lens of the Church that Jesus founded, in order to bring it peace, love and light.”
“I want to support the Diocese to evangelize and proclaim the Gospel,” McSoley said.
For programming information, go to wrxj1055.org/programing.
--Cori Fugere Urban

Save the date for Jan. 19 March for Life

The annual March for Life will take place Jan. 19, 2018. The Diocese of Burlington is planning to have a bus trip for pro-life groups, individual adults and families to show their support for life at this annual event. The bus will leave Jan. 18 in the evening and return on the morning of Jan. 20, travelling through the night in both directions. The cost is $75. This bus is not for youth groups or minors travelling without parents. A youth group bus is being organized separately by the Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministries. Online registration will be announced soon. Online sign up through constant contact at
For more information contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 802-658- 6110, ext. 1176.

Annual Women’s Retreat

ESSEX JUNCTION—Women from throughout Vermont will gather for a day filled with prayer, fellowship and encouragement focused on the teachings of St. John Paul II on the gift of being a woman. This annual women’s retreat will take place on Saturday, Nov. 18, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Holy Family Parish Center, 28 Lincoln St. The keynote speaker will be Mother Mary Catherine, founder of the Missionaries of the Word. For more information, contact Lori Daudelin at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 802-658-6110 ext. 1131.
Vermont Catholic Magazine © 2016 Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington