Category Archives: The Bishops

Cardinal Newman Society Thanks USCCB for Standing Against the HHS Mandate

The Cardinal Newman Society today thanked Cardinal Timothy Dolan and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops for pointing out the ways in which the Feb. 1, 2013, proposed rules from the Department of Health and Human Services still fail to address core concerns with the sterilization/contraception/abortion mandate of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Catholics are left no choice but to oppose the mandate and will be comforted and strengthened by the support and leadership of the nation’s Catholic bishops.

The current movement toward defining first-class religious institutions of Catholic education, Catholic health care, and Catholic charity as second-class institutions is unacceptable.  The Cardinal Newman Society stands at the ready to continue supporting the efforts of Catholic educational institutions to protect their God given Catholic identity and religious liberty.

The Cardinal Newman Society will continue encouraging its members to  pray for our bishops and all American citizens engaged in the struggle to uphold our constitutionally protected religious rights.

U.S. Bishops to Administration: HHS Proposal Falls Short

While the U.S. Bishops acknowledge that the Administration’s proposed Health and Human Services’ rule demonstrates some movement, they officially said that the “accommodation” falls short of addressing their concerns, a statement released today said.

“Throughout the past year, we have been assured by the Administration that we will not have to refer, pay for, or negotiate for the mandated coverage. We remain eager for the Administration to fulfill that pledge and to find acceptable solutions—we will affirm any genuine progress that is made, and we will redouble our efforts to overcome obstacles or setbacks,” said Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), in the statement. “Thus, we welcome and will take seriously the Administration’s invitation to submit our concerns through formal comments, and we will do so in the hope that an acceptable solution can be found that respects the consciences of all. At the same time, we will continue to stand united with brother bishops, religious institutions, and individual citizens who seek redress in the courts for as long as this is necessary.”

Cardinal Dolan listed three key areas of concern: the narrow understanding of a religious ministry; compelling church ministries to fund and facilitate services such as contraceptives, including abortion-inducing drugs, and sterilization that violate Catholic teaching; and disregard of the conscience rights of for-profit business owners. These are the same concerns articulated by the USCCB Administrative Committee in its March 2012 statement, United for Religious Freedom.

Cardinal Dolan said the new proposal seemed to address one part of the church’s concern over the definition of a church ministry but stressed that “the Administration’s proposal maintains its inaccurate distinction among religious ministries.”

“It appears to offer second-class status to our first-class institutions in Catholic health care, Catholic education and Catholic charities,” said Cardinal Dolan. “HHS offers what it calls an ‘accommodation’ rather than accepting the fact that these ministries are integral to our church and worthy of the same exemption as our Catholic churches.”

Cardinal Dolan also highlighted problems with the proposed “accommodation.”

“It appears that the government would require all employees in our ‘accommodated’ ministries to have the illicit coverage—they may not opt out, nor even opt out for their children—under a separate policy,” he said.

He also noted that “because of gaps in the proposed regulations, it is still unclear how directly these separate policies would be funded by objecting ministries, and what precise role those ministries would have in arranging for these separate policies. Thus, there remains the possibility that ministries may yet be forced to fund and facilitate such morally illicit activities.”

Cardinal Dolan also said the proposal refuses to acknowledge conscience rights of business owners who operate their businesses according to their faith and moral values.

“In obedience to our Judeo-Christian heritage, we have consistently taught our people to live their lives during the week to reflect the same beliefs that they proclaim on the Sabbath,” Cardinal Dolan said. “We cannot now abandon them to be forced to violate their morally well-informed consciences.”

Wyoming Catholic College to Host Cardinal Raymond Burke for Catholic Education Symposium

Cardinal Raymond Burke, Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, will be joining faculty, students, and a small group of Catholic men and women for the “Discover a New Renaissance: Celebrating the Revitalization of Catholic Education” symposium taking place at Wyoming Catholic College April 7-10, 2014.

Ecclesiastical Advisor to our Center for the Advancement of Catholic Higher Education

The symposium will offer guests the opportunity to learn more about Wyoming Catholic College’s distinctive program, attend classes in the college’s Downtown Center, dine with the students at Frassati Hall, attend a demonstration on the college’s Outdoor Leadership Program, visit the future home of the college at Broken Anvil Ranch, and participate in liturgies and an address on the revitalization of Catholic education by Cardinal Burke.

“We are greatly privileged to have Cardinal Burke come to Wyoming Catholic College,” said President Fr. Robert Cook. “He understands the nature of Catholic education in a comprehensive and profound way, and we are confident he will appreciate the unique Catholic educational model and mission that we provide to our students. We look forward to hearing his insights into what we can do to further the renaissance of Catholic education in America today.”

Cardinal Burke serves as Ecclesiastical Advisor to The Cardinal Newman Society’s Center for the Advancement of Catholic Higher Education.

Former Bishop to University of Notre Dame Passes Away

Bishop John M. D’Arcy, bishop emeritus of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, died Sunday after a battle with lung and brain cancer. He was 80.

D’Arcy passed away on the 56th anniversary of his first Mass as an ordained priest, according to a statement from the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend.

“I am filled with deep sadness at the death of a dear friend and brother bishop,” said current Bishop Kevin Rhoades. “We mourn the death of a good shepherd after the heart of Christ, a bishop who loved the Lord and his people with all his heart.”

Bishop D’Arcy was ordained a priest on Feb. 2, 1957, and installed bishop of the diocese on May 1, 1985.

While fond of Notre Dame, Bishop D’Arcy was also publicly at odds with certain decisions made by the University of Notre Dame, especially concerning the University’s annual performance of The Vagina Monologues.

In 2004, Bishop D’Arcy issued a strong statement opposing the University’s decision to present the Monologues. At that time, Bishop D’Arcy wrote:

Indeed, it can truly be said that woman, like man, can only find herself by giving herself to others. This has always been a welcome theme at Notre Dame. The theme, however, finds no place in the text in question. In that text, the physical is separated from the spiritual. The body is separated from love. The woman is separated from the man and is even placed in opposition to him. There is nothing of beauty here, nothing of love. There is much here which Notre Dame has stood against and has opposed in recent times, both in administrative decisions and in pastoral work. It is especially painful that this play is being performed at Notre Dame, the school of Our Lady, as many of her graduates call her.

The Vagina Monologues is offensive to women; it is antithetical to Catholic teaching on the beautiful gift of human sexuality and also to the teachings of the Church on the human body relative to its purpose and to its status as a temple of the Holy Spirit. The human body and the human person, in the tradition of the Church, must never be seen as an object.

This play violates the truth about women; the truth about sexuality; the truth about male and female, and the truth about the human body.

It is in opposition to the highest understanding of academic freedom. A Catholic university seeks truth. It is never afraid of truth, but it seeks it with respect for both reason and faith. Each gives light and guidance to the other. How has the light coming from faith, or indeed from right reason, been brought to bear on this decision?

Despite Bishop D’Arcy’s, alumni, student and parent protestations, the University continued to present the play. In 2008, Bishop D’Arcy responded with a lengthy public statement to President Father John Jenkins’ decision to continue to allow the performance on campus.

“I must publicly and respectfully disagree with Father Jenkins’ decision. I am convinced that permitting performances of “The Vagina Monologues” is not consistent with the identity of a Catholic university and not comparable to the long accepted academic tradition through which a wide variety of authors are read and discussed in classes at Notre Dame and in all institutions of higher learning.”

In 2009, Bishop D’Arcy boycotted the University’s commencement ceremony where President Barack Obama was to deliver the commencement address and receive an honorary degree, due to the President’s pro-abortion policies. In a statement released by the Diocese at the time, D’Arcy said he would not attend the event because “a bishop must teach the Catholic faith ‘in season and out of season,’ and he teaches not only by his words — but by his actions.”

Bishop D’Arcy stepped down from his office later that same year. Funeral services for Bishop D’Arcy have not yet been set, according to the diocese.

Bishop Joseph McFadden Describes Catholic Schools as Centers for New Evangelization

In a statement commemorating Catholic Schools Week, Jan. 27 – Feb. 2, Harrisburg, Pa. Bishop Joseph McFadden, Chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Education Committee acknowledged the vital work of Catholic schools and described them as centers for New Evangelization.

“Catholic schools are centers for the New Evangelization for families of a variety of socio-economic backgrounds and diverse cultures,” said Bishop McFadden. “The unique atmosphere of our Catholic schools is a space and place where the New Evangelization can reach out to parents and children in a way that is respectful of the human person, presents the teachings of the Church, and supports family life.”

Bishop Joseph McFadden

Bishop Joseph McFadden

“Catholic schools have a rich history in supporting the work of on-going evangelization of the Catholic community in the United States,” he said. “For more than two centuries Catholic bishops, pastors and parents have educated children in parish and private schools with the intention of offering the life giving Word of the Gospel in an environment that shows respect for the human person, the virtues of good citizenship and academic excellence.”

Catholic schools in the U.S. educate over 2 million students every day. There are 151,395 teachers in over 6,841 K-12 schools.

Bishop McFadden said that “based on public school per pupil cost, Catholic schools save the nation more than $20 billion dollars a year.”

“99% of Catholic high school students graduate each year, 84% of those students go on to graduate from a four-year college,  and 15% of students are from non-Catholic families,” added Bishop McFadden.

Bishop Finn Recognizes that National Catholic Reporter Isn’t “Catholic”

Writing on the mission of Catholic media, Kansas City-Saint Joseph Bishop Robert Finn expressed his disappointment with the National Catholic Reporter’s failure to live up to its name. Bishop Finn wrote:

“In a different way, I am sorry to say, my attention has been drawn once again to the National Catholic Reporter, a newspaper with headquarters in this Diocese. I have received letters and other complaints about NCR from the beginning of my time here. In the last months I have been deluged with emails and other correspondence from Catholics concerned about the editorial stances of the Reporter: officially condemning Church teaching on the ordination of women, insistent undermining of Church teaching on artificial contraception and sexual morality in general, lionizing dissident theologies while rejecting established Magisterial teaching, and a litany of other issues.

My predecessor bishops have taken different approaches to the challenge. Bishop Charles Helmsing in October of 1968 issued a condemnation of the National Catholic Reporter and asked the publishers to remove the name “Catholic” from their title – to no avail. From my perspective, NCR’s positions against authentic Church teaching and leadership have not changed trajectory in the intervening decades.

When early in my tenure I requested that the paper submit their bona fides as a Catholic media outlet in accord with the expectations of Church law, they declined to participate indicating that they considered themselves an “independent newspaper which commented on ‘things Catholic.’”  At other times, correspondence has seemed to reach a dead end.

In light of the number of recent expressions of concern, I have a responsibility as the local bishop to instruct the Faithful about the problematic nature of this media source which bears the name “Catholic.” While I remain open to substantive and respectful discussion with the legitimate representatives of NCR, I find that my ability to influence the National Catholic Reporter toward fidelity to the Church seems limited to the supernatural level.”

Canonist Edward Peters, at his “In the Light of the Law” blog, said that the National Catholic Reporter’s use of “Catholic” in their title is canonically illicit per canons 216 and 300.

“There is simply zero question about this assertion, for they ‘claim the name Catholic without the consent of the competent ecclesiastical authority.’ Second, once one is shown to be acting illegally under canon law, a number of canonical responses to illicit activity come into play including precepts, the invocation of penal law, and certain sacramental consequences for organizational leadership,” Peters wrote. Peters serves as professor of canon law at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit.

Bishops Issue Ten Year Report on Ex corde Ecclesiae

Ten years after Ex corde Ecclesiae was formally implemented in the United States, the U.S. bishops’ education chairman is reporting increased cooperation with Catholic colleges over the last decade and announced a new committee to address Catholic higher education.

A one-page “Final Report for the 10-year Review of The Application of Ex Corde Ecclesiae for the United States” was released by Bishop Joseph P. McFadden, chairman of the Committee on Catholic Education of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), with few details but a positive outlook on the improving relationship between Catholic colleges and their bishops.

Bishop McFadden recommends the formation of a working group of bishops and college presidents under his committee “to continue the dialogue about strategic subjects on a national level.” That working group would, according to the USCCB website, be tasked with gathering information on best practices, offer suggestions for local conversation, and, as needed, develop resources.

Areas to be studied include:

Continuation of dialogue between bishops and presidents toward greater cooperation in advancing the mission of the Church

Hiring for mission

Formation of trustees, faculty and staff regarding Catholic identity

Addressing the need for improved, accurate and deeper theological and catechetical knowledge through curricular and pastoral means.

The review process began in January 2011 when bishops were asked to hold conversations with college and university presidents in their dioceses. More than 100 bishops reported on their conversations at regional meetings during the November 2011 USCCB meeting and, the report says, “the prevailing tone was positive and the news was good.”

Bishops reported that they believe our institutions of Catholic higher education have made definite progress in advancing Catholic identity. The relationship between bishops and presidents on the local level can be characterized as positive and engaged, demonstrating progress on courtesy and cooperation in the last ten years. Clarity about Catholic identity among college and university leadership has fostered substantive dialogues and cultivated greater mission driven practices across the university. In acknowledging that much progress has been made, we recognize there is still work to be done.

In 1990, Pope John Paul II issued Ex corde Ecclesiae. The reaction in America was divided, with vocal opposition from many leaders and faculty of leading Catholic universities who declared it “unworkable.”  With that tension in mind, the U.S. bishops in 1996 issued guidelines to implement the apostolic constitution in American colleges. Those guidelines were long on pastoral approach and avoided strict mandates.

The Cardinal Newman Society was a leading voice in support of clear guidelines. The Vatican rejected the 1996 document, and the U.S. bishops continued their work under the leadership of Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua of Philadelphia. Finally, in 1999, the bishops approved clear guidelines which were approved by the Vatican. The USCCB recommended procedures for the theologians’ mandatum in 2000.

Last year, The Cardinal Newman Society issued a report on non-compliance with the mandatum requirement, and it has documented numerous scandals in Catholic higher education. But the Society has also reported a lot of good news, especially among colleges recommended in The Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College, and the bishops’ report is another sign that the long process of renewal is underway.

Bishop Morlino Bans Workshops by Professor, Campus Minister

Two women with long-standing ties to a Catholic college in Wisconsin have been banned by Bishop Robert Morlino from holding workshops or providing spiritual direction at any Catholic churches in the 11-county diocese for diverging too far from Catholic teaching, according to news reports.

Paula Hirschboeck, a philosophy professor at Edgewood College in Madison, and Sister Maureen McDonnell, who formerly served for 21 years on the campus ministry staff at Edgewood College, were banned along with another nun and lay woman affiliated with Wisdom’s Well, an organization that offers spiritual retreats and guidance.

The memo reportedly says Bishop Morlino has “grave concerns” about the women’s teachings, specifically that they “espouse certain views” flowing from such movements as “New Ageism” and “the belief that no one religion or philosophy is superior to another.”

Wisdom’s Well was founded in 2006 and offers workshops and retreats on topics such as nonviolence, contemplative living and Christian meditation. The website states that the group is “grounded in the Christian tradition, while embracing the wisdom found in other religious traditions, we offer resources for the journey through spiritual guidance, educational programs, retreats, and the teaching of contemplative practices.”

The women “may not share an authentic view of the Catholic Church’s approach to interreligious dialogue,” the memo reportedly said.

According to Edgewood’s website, Hirschboeck teaches courses in “environmental Philosophy, feminist Philosophy and Buddhist philosophy.” News reports identify her as one of the founders of Wisdom’s Well but no longer on its staff.

Her bio at Wisdom’s Well states:

Interfaith spirituality has been my path since my college years.  While a Dominican student sister at Rosary College (now Dominican University, River Forest IL), I discovered that the wisdom of Zen stirred my soul.  Zen supported the mystical yearnings which drew me to the Dominican Sisters of Sinsinawa WI in the first place.   Both of these spiritual lineages or ‘threads’ have guided me on the Way.  They are both woven within the celebration of a sacred, evolving Universe.

McDonnell, a founding member of Wisdom’s Well, served in campus ministry at Edgewood for 21 years before founding Wisdom’s Well.

She states on Wisdom Well’s website, “I see life now more in the context of the Universe Story, which leads me to profound gratitude for all the gifts of creation.  I feel a greater sense of responsibility to live justly and simply, study important issues, and encourage others to join me in those efforts, widening the circle of compassion to care for Earth.”

Edgewood College, according to its website is “a Catholic college in the Dominican tradition” that is “committed above all to the lifelong search for truth, pursued by men and women of all nationalities and backgrounds. All of us — regardless of our personal spiritual beliefs — are partners in the pursuit of a just and compassionate world.”

Faculty Blasts USD President, Bishop Defends

The University of San Diego’s Faculty Senate passed a resolution blasting the president of the University for creating “a climate of apprehension and distrust” and accusing her of damaging the University’s reputation by upholding its Catholic identity and rescinding an invitation for an honorary fellowship to dissident British theologian Tina Beattie.

Earlier in the week, USD President Mary Lyons defended the disinvitation in an open forum with more than 75 students, citing Beattie’s public support for civil same-sex “marriage” as the reason. Lyons said that the donors who helped to create the Center for Catholic Thought and Culture, which had initially offered the fellowship, wished the Center to be “one place perhaps where faculty and others could encounter what the Church teaches.” She felt that the invitation was incongruent with the donors’ wishes.

The faculty resolution took that point head on, saying in effect that those who donate money to the University should have no say about what goes on in the University. The resolution stated plainly:

The wishes of donors or benefactors —or the stated interpretation of said wishes by the university administration — must not limit or impede in any way the full exercise of academic freedom in teaching, learning, scholarly activity, or academic decision-making in the university community.

The fallout, according to the resolution, has been extensive including The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) threatening to place USD on its censure list of institutions that “are not observing the generally recognized principles of academic freedom and tenure,” the national Executive Committee of the Academic Honor Society Phi Beta Kappa stating a “concern” about the campus’ commitment to diversity of speech and perspective, and Professor Mike Davis of the University of California, Riverside, resigning his appointment to the Knapp Chair of Liberal Arts at USD in response to Lyons’ decision.

In its resolution, the Faculty Senate accused Lyons of creating “a climate of apprehension and distrust in which self-censorship has the potential to hinder independent thinking.”

While the outrage and backlash has been strong, Bishop Robert Brom of San Diego has voiced his public support for Lyons’s decision, according to The National Catholic Register. “Academic freedom is an essential component of a Catholic university, but it means observing and submitting to the teaching authority of the Church,” Bishop  Brom reportedly said. “That principle has to be respected as much as institutional  autonomy.”

Bishop Brom reportedly pointed to Pope John Paul II’s 1990 apostolic constitution on Catholic higher education, Ex corde Ecclesiae which states, “In particular, Catholic theologians, aware that they fulfill a mandate received from the Church, are to be faithful to the magisterium of the Church as the authentic interpreter of sacred Scripture and sacred Tradition.”

The vote of the Senate was 17 to 4  in support of the measure with three abstaining. It did not advise any action other than a recommitment to their version of academic freedom.

Archbishop Makes the Case for Theology Departments

Theology should be at the heart of Catholic universities, Vancouver Archbishop J. Michael Miller recently told an audience at the University of St. Michael’s College at the University of Toronto.

Abp. Miller, former president of the University of St. Thomas in Houston and former Vatican Secretary for Catholic Education, said that following Vatican II some theology departments became more neutral “religious studies” departments. He said that while religious studies is a fine avenue for study, it should not replace theology at a Catholic university.

Miller outlined a number of reasons why theology departments are crucial, according to The Catholic Register:

Theology teaches students the art of service to the Church and society, and it should be accessible to every student attending a Catholic university, he said. Theology, and not religious studies, he continued, teaches sound moral discernment, preparing students for the life challenges that they will face. Students’ introduction to theology should be proportional to their general education, he added.

Theology combats secularism in the academy as well as society in general, said Miller.

“Christianity cannot be reduced to the world of myth and emotion.”

Theology also keeps the academy searching for truth, said Miller.

“A university is at the service of the truth” and a theology faculty has a “genuine passion for the absolute truth itself.” Miller explained that through the marriage of theology and philosophy, the truth can be discovered. “Learning is not only about the search for the truth, but its joyful discovery.”

Theology is also where reason and faith meet, neither of which is sufficient alone.

“Faith seeks understanding, and understanding seeks faith,” he said.

The “mutual complementarity of faith and reason in the search for truth” is possible in theology. Miller said that theologians believe in a God of reason and that a theology department will broaden the academy’s understanding of reason.

Theology is an irreplaceable discipline, the archbishop concluded, one that is essential to Catholics, Protestants and others. It is needed to keep other academic disciplines balanced and vice versa.

Bishop Of Fort Wayne-South Bend Releases Statement on Notre Dame

Bishop Kevin Rhoades of Ft. Wayne-South Bend issued a statement that was obtained by The Cardinal Newman Society concerning Notre Dame University’s recently announced plan entitled Beloved Friends and Allies: A Pastoral Plan for the Support and Holistic Development of GLBTQ and Heterosexual Students at the University of Notre Dame. The plan includes recognizing a homosexual student organization as well as a full-time student development staff position focused on LGBTQ issues.

Bishop Rhoades said:

One of the essential characteristics of a Catholic university is “fidelity to the Christian message as it comes to us from the Church” (Pope John Paul II, Ex corde ecclesiae).  In its recently released Pastoral Plan, the University of Notre Dame clearly affirms its fidelity to Catholic Church teaching on human sexuality by affirming that “sexuality is ordered to the conjugal love of man and woman” and that the fulfillment and proper context of human sexual love is to be found in the marital covenant.  It affirms the teachings of the Church on the commandment and vocation of love, the virtue of chastity and its expression in friendship, the importance of self-mastery, and the call to holiness.  The Plan affirms Catholic teaching that men and women who have homosexual tendencies “must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity.”

It is vitally important that the Foundations of the Pastoral Plan, which express Notre Dame’s fidelity to Catholic teaching, inform and guide the implementation of the Plan, including the vision, programs and activities of the new student organization that is being formed.  The Pastoral Plan states that “the organization’s purpose arises directly from the University’s Catholic mission and its aspiration to create a community where all may flourish and feel welcome, where we aspire to an even deeper understanding and appreciation of Catholic teaching, and where the human dignity of each Notre Dame student is valued.”  It is my hope and prayer that the rich Catholic teaching on sexuality, teaching that serves the true good and happiness of the human person, will be embraced by the students and all involved in the implementation of the Pastoral Plan.   I hope that the organization will be helpful in providing support for the students, thus preventing the experience of isolation and alienation which are “risk factors for an unhealthy life, including unchaste behaviors” (USCCB, Ministry to Persons with a Homosexual Inclination). I also hope that the Pastoral Plan will be of support to all students at Notre Dame in living a chaste and holy life according to the teachings of Jesus and His Church.

+Kevin C. Rhoades

Bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend

Fr. McBrien of Notre Dame Says Long Arm of Bishops Can’t Reach Catholic Colleges

Many “progressive Catholics” remain in the Church only because they have found refuge on college campuses “where the long arms of a bishop cannot reach,” writes Fr. Richard McBrien, the Crowley-O’Brien Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame, in his latest screed against the Vatican and the U.S. bishops.

Father McBrien writes in The National Catholic Reporter that “ultra-conservatives” are staging a “wholesale assault” on nuns for the soul of the Church. And McBrien is also looking forward to the next pope who, he predicts, will lead the Church more in line with his own progressive vision for the Church.

Oh, and he compares himself to Moses.

“The nuns have been in the forefront of the struggle to keep the spirit and the letter of the Second Vatican Council alive” writes Father McBrien. “Unfortunately, LCWR is a scapegoat for everything the right wing in the Catholic [C]hurch loathes. One should recognize that ultra-conservatives exist in the highest ranks of the Vatican, excluding no ecclesiastical office in the [C]hurch.”

He writes that while “the nuns” celebrate Vatican II, ultra-conservatives have staged a “terrible backlash” on Vatican II and are currently waging a “wholesale assault” on the nuns in the United States.

He blames Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI of undermining the Council by appointing of bishops and archbishops “unfriendly” to it. Among those responsible for the “terrible backlash” McBrien includes:

Examples of such bishops are (with the diocese and year they were first ordained a bishop): Thomas Welsh, Arlington, Va., 1970 (now deceased); Thomas Daily, Brooklyn, N.Y., 1974 (now retired); Nicholas DiMarzio, Brooklyn, 1996; David Ricken, Green Bay, Wis., 2000; Richard Lennon, Cleveland, 2001.

Examples of such archbishops are: John Myers, Newark, N.J., 1987; Joseph Kurtz, Louisville, Ky.,1999; Jose Gomez, Los Angeles, 2001; Francis George, Chicago, 1990; Charles Chaput, Philadelphia, 1988; Edward Egan, New York, 1985 (now retired).

He says that many bishops “overemphasize the abortion issue” over social justice issues and the needs of the poor.

He also looks forward to a new pope. “A new pope will be elected who the electors think is only a seat-warmer (just as they once regarded John XXIII), and the pendulum will swing the other way,” he said. “It always has.”

McBrien does not have a great track record in predicting popes however. As George Weigel pointed out, McBrien declared Joseph Ratzinger’s chances of ascending to the papacy as electorally impossible a mere 24 hours before it happened.

And then he compares himself and his fellow naysayers to Moses. “Some of us will never see the change, like the saintly Moses, but it will come.”

Earlier this year, Fr. McBrien cast doubt on papal authority, saying it’s “an incorrect assumption” that “the Bishop of Rome is free, by the will of Christ, not only to appoint all bishops in the Roman Catholic church, but to dismiss them as well.”

Faithful Catholic Education Key to New Vocations, Study Suggests

A new study suggests that the key to solving the Catholic Church’s vocations crisis may be Catholic schooling. The study also offers some indication why America’s most faithful colleges report high numbers of vocations.

According to the study commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University, attendance at a Catholic high school is the single most important indicator that a man will seriously consider the priesthood. For women, attendance at a Catholic grade school is a strong indicator of interest in the religious life.

CARA surveyed unmarried men and women aged 14 and older. Current and former students of Catholic schools and colleges reported greater interest in vocations to the priesthood or religious life.

Whereas 12 percent of men reported considering the priesthood, the number climbed to 22 percent of those who attended a Catholic primary school, 24 percent a Catholic high school, 27 percent a Catholic college, and 39 percent all three.

Whereas 10 percent of women surveyed said they had seriously considered a vocation, interest grew to 16 percent of those who attended a Catholic grade school, 18 percent a Catholic high school, 17 percent a Catholic college, and 20 percent all three.

When CARA isolated the impact of several factors, the impact of Catholic education became even clearer. Of all factors considered—including Mass attendance, prayer life, participation in parish activities, and various demographics—attending or having attended a Catholic high school best indicates that a male will consider the priesthood.  Catholic high school students and graduates are nearly seven (6.7) times more likely to seriously consider the priesthood or religious life than are those who have never attended a Catholic high school.

For women, those who attended Catholic grade schools are more than three (3.2) times more likely to consider religious life, when controlling for other factors.

Catholic college attendance, however, does not appear to have a significant impact. The study indicates other determining factors that may correlate with enrolling at a Catholic college—for instance, Catholic colleges are likely to have large portions of students who attended Catholic schools or participated in parish youth programs, both factors that indicate serious interest in vocations.

On the other hand, The Cardinal Newman Society has seen very encouraging numbers of vocations at the very faithful Catholic colleges recommended in The Newman Guide.  Christendom College, Thomas Aquinas College, Benedictine College, Franciscan University of Steubenville and others report significant numbers of students entering the priesthood and religious life.

So what’s going on here? Why the apparent insignificance of Catholic colleges? For one thing, the CARA study doesn’t differentiate between faithful colleges and those that have greatly secularized—a study that we suspect would find a difference at The Newman Guide colleges. No doubt it is true that students attending these colleges are more likely to seriously consider vocations for reasons unrelated to the college experience—the very same orthodoxy and religious practice that leads many to apply to Newman Guide colleges. But what occurs at these institutions, both inside and outside the classroom, also has to have a real impact.

The CARA study suggests some reasons why this might be so. For instance, among factors indicating interest in a vocation, one of the strongest determinants is encouragement from others to consider the priesthood or religious life. According to the study, both men and women are nearly twice as likely to consider a vocation if one person encouraged them to do so, and more than five times as likely if three people encouraged it. One would expect more enthusiasm and encouragement for vocations at a faithful Catholic college, as opposed to one that emphasizes secular careers and displays a weak Catholic identity.

Also, CARA reports that an unmarried Catholic is more than 1.5 times as likely to consider a vocation if they know someone else who has become a priest, seminarian or religious. Attending a faithful Catholic college seems much more likely to put students in proximity with others who may pursue a vocation, as opposed to generally larger institutions where students are more career-oriented and taught to be suspicious of the Vatican and Catholic teaching.

ND and BC Theologians Undercut Bishops

In a story in the National Catholic Reporter, two theologians from Notre Dame and Boston College seem to undercut a number of bishops who have publicly stated that Catholics could not in good conscience vote for pro-abortion and pro-gay “marriage” candidates when alternatives are available.

Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois, recently told Catholics in The Catholic Times that their salvation was in “serious jeopardy” should they vote for such a candidate. He pointed out the “intrinsic evils” in the Democratic Party’s pro-abortion and pro-gay “marriage” platform. He wrote that “a vote for a candidate who promotes actions or behaviors that are intrinsically evil and gravely sinful makes you morally complicit and places the eternal salvation of your own soul in serious jeopardy.”

Archbishop John Myers of Newark, N.J., warned Catholics that disagreement with the Church’s official teaching on same-sex “marriage” “seriously harm[s] their communion with Christ and His Church.”

But the Reporter found two theologians at The University of Notre Dame and Boston College to undercut and obfuscate the bishops’ statements.

M. Cathleen Kaveny, a professor of law and theology at the University of Notre Dame, said that a potential problem with bishops’ statements on same-sex unions is that they address the issue in the abstract — not taking into consideration a number of other questions about how candidates would act while in office, or if the issue would even come up.

“I don’t know if they can say this has to be the priority that you’re voting on … without any consideration of what the alternatives are and how likely electing someone is to actually make those things happen,” Kaveny said.

“Treating issues in an abstract way and just tying a candidate to a position on an abstract issue doesn’t go far enough in considering who’s going to be the best leader of the country,” she said.

Jesuit Fr. James Bretzke, a professor of moral theology at Boston College’s School of Theology and Ministry, questioned the perennial arguments that a candidate’s reluctance to criminalize abortion should necessarily mean he or she loses Catholics’ votes.

Even though a candidate may be unwilling to push for the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion, Bretzke said, she or he may support policies that would reduce the number of abortions “in the composite.”

Notre Dame Invites President Obama Again

[NOTE: This post has been updated on 9/26/12 in the last paragraph to clarify Mitt Romney’s position on embryonic stem cell research.]

Despite Catholic outrage over the University of Notre Dame’s 2009 invitation to President Barack Obama to address its graduates, the University has again invited the President to speak on campus as a candidate for reelection.

From the Notre Dame news release:

The University of Notre Dame’s president, Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., and student body president Brett Rocheleau have joined in inviting both President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Gov. Mitt Romney to speak at the University during the fall election campaign.

Continuing a long-standing tradition, Father Jenkins and Rocheleau addressed letters to each of the presidential aspirants, offering Notre Dame as a “forum for serious political discussion” on important issues facing the nation. The intent of the invitations, which include the candidates’ running mates, is to provide the campus community a firsthand impression of the contenders and their messages.

The tradition of election-year invitations to presidential and vice presidential candidates was established 60 years ago by Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C., in his first year as Notre Dame’s president. That year, both Dwight Eisenhower and his Democratic opponent, Adlai Stevenson, spoke at the University.

Other candidates who have accepted the invitation through the years include Richard Nixon, Henry Cabot Lodge, Warren Miller (a Notre Dame alumnus), Edmund Muskie, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Joe Lieberman.

More than 367,000 individuals signed The Cardinal Newman Society’s petition opposing President Obama’s 2009 commencement address and honorary degree from Notre Dame, and 83 Catholic bishops publicly criticized the honor.  In 2004, the U.S. bishops approved a policy banning Catholic honors and platforms to individuals who oppose fundamental Catholic teachings.

The invitation will seem inappropriate to many Catholics, as the Church struggles with the intransigence of the Obama administration on a Health and Human Services regulation forcing Catholic institutions to provide employee and student health insurance coverage for sterilization, abortion-causing drugs, and contraceptives.  The University of Notre Dame is in the awkward position of having invited to campus the target of the University’s pending lawsuit over the HHS contraceptive mandate.  President Obama has supported legal abortion, funding for Planned Parenthood, homosexual “marriage” and embryonic stem cell research — all considered by Catholics to be highly immoral.

The invitation to Governor Romney also could raise concerns. He opposes the cloning of human embryos but has in the past supported embryonic stem cell research that is privately funded and uses “surplus” embryos from in vitro fertilization. The Romney campaign has not responded to The Cardinal Newman Society’s requests for clarification of his current position.