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Diocesan eNews

Archbishop points to 'troublesome' misuses of pope's teaching on family

PORTLAND, Ore. (CNS) -- Archbishop Alexander K. Sample of Portland has written a pastoral letter seeking to correct what he called "troublesome" misuse of Pope Francis' recent apostolic exhortation on the family and family life.

The pastoral letter, released Oct. 7, is titled "A True and Living Icon: Reading of 'Amoris Laetitia' in Light of Church Teaching." In it, Archbishop Sample said that Pope Francis' exhortation, issued in April, has rightly been lauded by Catholics and non-Catholics alike for its pastoral approach.

The image of the Church as a "field hospital," the archbishop wrote, is a potent reminder of the services provided by priests, deacons and parish staffs, as well as the wounded that they care for.

But the archbishop went on to write that media in particular have drawn false conclusions from "Amoris Laetitia." "While the exhortation does not contain any change in church teaching regarding marriage and family life, some have used 'Amoris Laetitia' in ways that do not correspond with the church's teaching tradition," Archbishop Sample wrote.
Archbishop Henryk Hoser of Warsaw-Praga, chairman of the Polish bishops' bioethics committee
Archbishop Alexander K. Sample, Photo (CNS)

Polish church vows to continue push for stricter abortion controls

WARSAW, Poland (CNS) -- Poland's Catholic Church has reiterated support for stricter pro-life controls, after parliamentarians voted down a law that would have sent aborting mothers to jail.

"Human life has such great value. It shouldn't be the object of political bargains," said Archbishop Henryk Hoser of Warsaw-Praga, chairman of the Polish bishops' bioethics committee. "This draft bill may have needed some corrections, but it was prepared solidly enough. Its rejection leaves us in the same situation as before," he said.

The Church leader's comments to Poland's Catholic Information Agency came after the Warsaw parliament's Oct. 6 rejection of the "Stop Abortion" bill, 352-58, with 18 abstentions. The legislation would have banned all abortions unless a woman's life was in danger.

Meanwhile, the Polish bishops' conference said the sanctity of human life had been stressed by St. John Paul II, but cautioned that the Church would not support laws that allowed aborting women to be punished. "Church institutions don't deal with civil law projects, although they use their right to express opinions on proposed legal regulations," the conference said in an Oct. 6 statement. "We encourage prayers for women who fulfill the motherhood vocation in their lives, as well as for those facing hardships," the statement added.

Catholics called to be active in the public square, live faith fearlessly

PHOENIX (CNS) -- Followers of Christ "do not walk into the voting booth by themselves, but "do it in Him and with Him," Phoenix Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted told those at a Mass celebrated before a legislative seminar on "Catholics in the Public Square."

Bishop Olmsted preached about the centrality of belief in the resurrection of Christ, a belief he said "has had to be defended throughout history," including today. This reminder of the power of the resurrection and Jesus' promise to be with His believers until the end of time should bolster our faith "no matter what may discourage us in being good citizens," the bishop told the congregation at St. Mary's Basilica.

Following the Mass, more than 350 packed a hall inside the Diocesan Pastoral Center for the seminar in mid-September leading up to the November elections. Speakers included Jennifer Roback Morse, founder of the Ruth Institute, and Alan Sears, president and CEO of the Alliance Defending Freedom. Both received standing ovations for high-energy talks that encouraged attendees to get informed, speak out and live their faith boldly in the public square.

Many of those gathered were parish representatives on hand to get copies of the fourth edition of Bishop Olmsted's "Catholics in the Public Square" booklet that examines the intersection of faith and civic duty and calls on the faithful to form their conscience "in accord with the voice of God" and to "defend the dignity of every human person."

Where policy, religion fail, sports can lift spirits, say speakers

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Wherever public policy, communities and even religions may have failed, sports and recreation are ready and set to lift wounded spirits and build cooperation and peace in the world, said a number of speakers at a Vatican conference.

"Sport is the medicine my mother couldn't give me" to counteract the bullying and exclusion growing up in York, Penn., one Special Olympic champion said. Despite growing up poor, partially blind and mentally challenged, "I could do Double Dutch like no one else" with jump-ropes and could run faster than the others, Loretta Claiborne said during a global conference on "Sport at the Service of Humanity," hosted by the Pontifical Council for Culture Oct. 6-7.

Advocates celebrate that climate change agreement will take effect soon

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- With a global agreement that addresses climate change now ready to go into effect, advocates took a moment to celebrate the milestone, but called for further actions to reduce carbon pollution.

Approval of the agreement negotiated in Paris last December reached the threshold of 55 countries accounting for at least 55 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions Oct. 5 when European nations, Canada, Bolivia and Nepal backed the accord. The deal goes into effect Nov. 4, four days before the U.S. presidential election.

Democrat Hillary Clinton supports the agreement while Republican Donald Trump opposes it.

"It's a big step," said Dan Misleh, executive director of the Catholic Climate Covenant. "It moves the world in the direction of having to try to lower greenhouse gas emissions and get commitments from the major polluting countries, China, India, United States. It pushes the rest of the world to take seriously steps to reducing their emissions."
Franciscan Sister Ilia Delio, the Josephine C. Connelly chair in Christian theology at Villanova University, also hailed the agreement coming into force, but cautioned that the world must continue to act to reduce the threat of climate change. "My only concern is will the agreement take force in the operative level in our daily life ... in our consumptive culture. We have these great moves forward, but then it's thwarted by consumerism and the culture we have created where big business is against implementing the policies," she told Catholic News Service.

On Sin

By Father Thomas Mattison, pastor of Christ Our Savior Parish in Manchester Center and Arlington

Let’s look at the various meanings that we give to the word sin, because how we think of sin will determine how we react to it and what we do with that reaction.

I suppose that the most obvious way to think about sin is not to think about it at all. This is, in large part, the approach of a number of ‘eastern’ philosophical schools. Words like ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, ‘good’ and ‘bad’ have no real meaning; they are just terms that we apply to things, people or places that make us feel happy or sad and, as a result, angry or hungry or lonely or wanting more.

Obviously, the thing we need to do is to get our emotions and appetites in hand so that we can have the same sort placid relationship with things as they are as have the things that are (that sentence is not obscure, it is just circular). In another age, this would be known as the ‘get feeling good when you’re feeling no pain’ approach to all sorts of activities!

These approaches – embracing, as they do, the idea that things are neutral in themselves – are in sharp contrast to the two extreme views that everything is wrong and everything is beautiful.

The summit of ‘everything is wrong’ thinking is to be found in the classical reformation ideas of the ‘bondage of the human will’ (Luther) and the ‘total depravity of human nature’ (Calvin). These gents would have us believe that ONLY God can rescue us from the wrongness that inescapably infects our every thought,
word and deed – no matter how hard we may try to be and do ‘good’. This being the case, the notion of personal sin practically disappears. There is, in fact, only one sin: not to entrust oneself totally to the loving care of Jesus, our personal Lord and Savior. Those who accept their own moral hopelessness understand why it
is that others cannot or will not just let them begin all over (and over and over and over) without demanding or expecting, even, real amendment.

This is so ironic. The notion that everything is sinful has given us the notion that everyone is sick or victim, but there is really no one to blame!

Politicians and plutocrats and professional athletes put this approach into practice every time they ‘apologize most sincerely for the inadvertent harm or hurt they caused to whomever’. And we endorse this view when we let them go on running things, making millions and carrying on in the same old way! After all, wouldn’t – don’t – we want to be let off the hook because we are off the wall?

If you take God out of the ‘only God can help’ mentality, you wind up with sardonic cynicism about the world and them that dwell in it – or you go into therapy to change yourself, since you can’t change anyone or anything else.

For more information, go to www.christoursaviorvt.com.

World Mission Sunday

The World Mission Sunday collection will be taken on the weekend of Oct. 23. Support of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith through the collection is vital to the missionaries serving in 1,111 dioceses throughout Asia, Africa, parts of Latin America and Europe and on the islands of the Pacific. Donors’ generosity makes it possible for local priests, religious and catechists to reach out to communities, families and children in desperate need, bringing the light of Christ to the darkest of circumstances.

The World Mission Sunday celebration highlights the outreach of local churches through priests, religious and laity among the poor and marginalized half a world away. Life-changing help is provided to mission churches in territories covering more than half the globe.

Priests’ Benefit Fund collection

BURLINGTON—The Priests’ Benefit Fund annual appeal will take place throughout the Diocese of Burlington on the weekend of Oct. 29-30.

The Priests' Benefit Retirement Fund originally was established in the 1950's to provide a retirement pension for senior priests, as well as for the healthcare expenses of the priests of the Diocese of Burlington

The Priests' Benefit Retirement Fund benefits are intended for diocesan priests who are incardinated into the diocese and belong to the Priests' Benefit Retirement Fund.

The fund's goal is to cover its' pension liability to the retired priests, enabling them to live their senior years with a suitable income, not contingent upon having to do supplemental work, as many of them are unable to do so because of health issues.

The annual collection for the Priests' Benefit Retirement Fund was established as a way for the faithful of the diocese to contribute toward their parish priests' pension in gratitude for the priestly ministry rendered by these dedicated priests to the faithful whom they served in parishes and continue to serve in sacramental ministry.

The Priests' Benefit Fund needs generous gifts to cover the future liability and to cover the pensions of the senior priests into the future.

            Donations can also be made directly to: Priests' Benefit Fund Trust, 55 Joy Drive, South Burlington, VT 50403.
            Bequests are also welcomed.
            For additional information, contact the fund’s administrator at 802-658-1338.

Free Domestic Violence Workshop

ESSEX JUNCTION—There will be a free domestic violence workshop on Thursday, Oct. 20, at Holy Family Parish Center.

In observance of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the Diocese of Burlington is presenting the free workshop to help develop tools to help victims of domestic violence.

This workshop is open to all priests, parish administrators, parish staff, directors of religious education, youth ministers, other interested lay people and the wider counseling and medical community.

It will take place from 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m.

The presenters are: Burlington Bishop Christopher J. Coyne; Tom Mott, a clinician with Vermont Catholic Charities Inc.; Dr. Sharon O’Brien, director of Catholics for Family Peace at Catholic University of America; Phil Lawson, director catechesis and evangelization for the Diocese of Burlington; and "Nicole,” who will offer victim testimony.

RSVP at www.vermontcatholic.org/domesticviolence/rsvp.php.

High School Youth Retreats

JACKSONVILLE—There will be two high school youth retreats at the Dumaine House Retreat Center.

The retreat for girls will take place from Friday, Nov. 4, at 7 p.m. until Saturday, Nov. 5, at 7 p.m.

The retreat for boys will be from Saturday, Nov. 5, at 9 a.m. until Sunday, Nov. 6, at 1 p.m.

This is a time for young people to grow in relationship with God.

All high school teens are welcome to participate.

The cost is $50, which includes meals and lodging.

Bring a sleeping bag, pillow, toiletries, journal, jacket, good hiking shoes and change of clothes.

For more information about the Dumaine House Retreat Center go to www.mellosretreatcenter.com.

For more information on the events or to register call Bill Gavin, director of youth and young adult ministry, at 802-658-6110 ext. 1240.

Marriage Encounter

ISLE LAMOTTE--Worldwide Marriage Encounter will sponsor a retreat at St. Anne’s Shrine Nov. 18-20.

For more information and to register, go to www.wwmevt.org.
  • Written by Cori Fugere Urban
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Bishop's Fund Annual Appeal