Remembering the murder of a Polish priest

A section of McCarren Park in Brooklyn, N.Y.,  is named for the late Father Jerzy Popieluszko, a popular priest who was outspoken in his support for the Solidarity movement in Poland and who was abducted and murdered by government agents in 1984. To commemorate the 25th anniversary of his death, a special ceremony was held at the park Oct. 19 and attended by, among others, members of the Polish American Congress.

Photo courtesy of Polish American Congress

Photo courtesy of Polish American Congress

The ceremony followed Mass celebrated at St. Stanislaus Kostka Church in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn by Father Marek Sobczak, pastor, who also led a prayer service at Father Popieluszko Square in the park. Each year there is a service to remember the death of the priest, who is memorialized in a bust in the park.

The Polish American Congress had a major role in getting the city of New York to agree to name a section of the park for the priest. It was dedicated by then-Mayor Edward Koch in 1986.

During the years the Solidarity movement rose to fight communism in Poland, Pope John Paul II told his countrymen, “Do not be afraid.” And as the Polish American Congress noted, “Father Popieluszko conveyed the pope’s words of guidance and encouragement to his Polish parishioners every month” during his popular “Masses for the homeland.”

In 1990 the Warsaw Archdiocese approved an official prayer for the late priest’s canonization and raised his church, also named St. Stanislaus Kostka, to the status of a national shrine. Father Popieluszko is buried there.

Cardinal Kasper on special arrangement for former Anglicans

VATICAN CITY — Presenting a book last week on the results of 40 years of dialogue with Anglicans, Lutherans, Methodists and members of the Reformed churches, the Vatican’s chief ecumenist was asked about rumors that special provisions would be made for Anglicans wanting to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church. The special provision was announced today.

Cardinal Walter Kasper

Cardinal Walter Kasper (CNS/Paul Haring)

Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, told reporters at the book presentation, “We are not fishing in the Anglican lake; proselytism is not the policy of the Catholic Church.

“But if there are people who obeying their consciences want to become Catholic, we cannot shut the door,” he said.

The movement of Anglicans to the Catholic Church is not new. And it’s not unheard of for Catholics to join the Anglican Communion.

Cardinal Kasper said, “I think there is an agreement between us and the (Anglican) Archbishop of Canterbury that we have to respect their freedom of conscience and freedom of religion.”

At the same time, he said, “we want to continue our dialogue with the Anglican Communion and there is no change in our policy, we go on in our dialogue and in November we will have our meeting” with Anglican representatives aimed at starting a new round of dialogue by the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission.

The question of Anglicans joining the Catholic Church is not a matter dealt with directly by the Christian unity council, but by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. A Catholic who wants to become an Anglican or an Anglican who wants to become a Catholic is dealing with “a matter of conscience, a question of faith that must be respected by all partners,” Cardinal Kasper said.

“Nevertheless ecumenical dialogue is not aimed at making proselytism, that is a personal decision for everybody and it’s a work of the Holy Spirit we cannot interfere with.”

Text of Vatican note on new structure for Anglicans entering Catholic Church

VATICAN CITY — The following is the “Note of The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith about Personal Ordinariates for Anglicans Entering the Catholic Church,” published by the Vatican today:

With the preparation of an Apostolic Constitution, the Catholic Church is responding to the many requests that have been submitted to the Holy See from groups of Anglican clergy and faithful in different parts of the world who wish to enter into full visible communion.

In this Apostolic Constitution the Holy Father has introduced a canonical structure that provides for such corporate reunion by establishing Personal Ordinariates, which will allow former Anglicans to enter full communion with the Catholic Church while preserving elements of the distinctive Anglican spiritual and liturgical patrimony. Under the terms of the Apostolic Constitution, pastoral oversight and guidance will be provided for groups of former Anglicans through a Personal Ordinariate, whose Ordinary will usually be appointed from among former Anglican clergy.

The forthcoming Apostolic Constitution provides a reasonable and even necessary response to a world-wide phenomenon, by offering a single canonical model for the universal Church which is adaptable to various local situations and equitable to former Anglicans in its universal application. It provides for the ordination as Catholic priests of married former Anglican clergy. Historical and ecumenical reasons preclude the ordination of married men as bishops in both the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. The Constitution therefore stipulates that the Ordinary can be either a priest or an unmarried bishop. The seminarians in the Ordinariate are to be prepared alongside other Catholic seminarians, though the Ordinariate may establish a house of formation to address the particular needs of formation in the Anglican patrimony. In this way, the Apostolic Constitution seeks to balance on the one hand the concern to preserve the worthy Anglican liturgical and spiritual patrimony and, on the other hand, the concern that these groups and their clergy will be integrated into the Catholic Church.

Cardinal William Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith which has prepared this provision, said: “We have been trying to meet the requests for full communion that have come to us from Anglicans in different parts of the world in recent years in a uniform and equitable way. With this proposal the Church wants to respond to the legitimate aspirations of these Anglican groups for full and visible unity with the Bishop of Rome, successor of St. Peter.”

These Personal Ordinariates will be formed, as needed, in consultation with local Conferences of Bishops, and their structure will be similar in some ways to that of the Military Ordinariates which have been established in most countries to provide pastoral care for the members of the armed forces and their dependents throughout the world. “Those Anglicans who have approached the Holy See have made clear their desire for full, visible unity in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. At the same time, they have told us of the importance of their Anglican traditions of spirituality and worship for their faith journey,” Cardinal Levada said.

The provision of this new structure is consistent with the commitment to ecumenical dialogue, which continues to be a priority for the Catholic Church, particularly through the efforts of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity. “The initiative has come from a number of different groups of Anglicans,” Cardinal Levada went on to say: “They have declared that they share the common Catholic faith as it is expressed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and accept the Petrine ministry as something Christ willed for the Church. For them, the time has come to express this implicit unity in the visible form of full communion.”

According to Levada: “It is the hope of the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, that the Anglican clergy and faithful who desire union with the Catholic Church will find in this canonical structure the opportunity to preserve those Anglican traditions precious to them and consistent with the Catholic faith. Insofar as these traditions express in a distinctive way the faith that is held in common, they are a gift to be shared in the wider Church. The unity of the Church does not require a uniformity that ignores cultural diversity, as the history of Christianity shows. Moreover, the many diverse traditions present in the Catholic Church today are all rooted in the principle articulated by St. Paul in his letter to the Ephesians: ‘There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism’ (4:5). Our communion is therefore strengthened by such legitimate diversity, and so we are happy that these men and women bring with them their particular contributions to our common life of faith.”

Background information

Since the sixteenth century, when King Henry VIII declared the Church in England independent of Papal Authority, the Church of England has created its own doctrinal confessions, liturgical books, and pastoral practices, often incorporating ideas from the Reformation on the European continent. The expansion of the British Empire, together with Anglican missionary work, eventually gave rise to a world-wide Anglican Communion.

Throughout the more than 450 years of its history the question of the reunification of Anglicans and Catholics has never been far from mind. In the mid-nineteenth century the Oxford Movement (in England) saw a rekindling of interest in the Catholic aspects of Anglicanism. In the early twentieth century Cardinal Mercier of Belgium entered into well publicized conversations with Anglicans to explore the possibility of union with the Catholic Church under the banner of an Anglicanism “reunited but not absorbed”.

At the Second Vatican Council hope for union was further nourished when the Decree on Ecumenism (n. 13), referring to communions separated from the Catholic Church at the time of the Reformation, stated that: “Among those in which Catholic traditions and institutions in part continue to exist, the Anglican Communion occupies a special place.”

Since the Council, Anglican-Roman Catholic relations have created a much improved climate of mutual understanding and cooperation. The Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) produced a series of doctrinal statements over the years in the hope of creating the basis for full and visible unity. For many in both communions, the ARCIC statements provided a vehicle in which a common expression of faith could be recognized. It is in this framework that this new provision should be seen.

In the years since the Council, some Anglicans have abandoned the tradition of conferring Holy Orders only on men by calling women to the priesthood and the episcopacy. More recently, some segments of the Anglican Communion have departed from the common biblical teaching on human sexuality—already clearly stated in the ARCIC document “Life in Christ”—by the ordination of openly homosexual clergy and the blessing of homosexual partnerships. At the same time, as the Anglican Communion faces these new and difficult challenges, the Catholic Church remains fully committed to continuing ecumenical engagement with the Anglican Communion, particularly through the efforts of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity.

In the meantime, many individual Anglicans have entered into full communion with the Catholic Church. Sometimes there have been groups of Anglicans who have entered while preserving some “corporate” structure. Examples of this include, the Anglican diocese of Amritsar in India, and some individual parishes in the United States which maintained an Anglican identity when entering the Catholic Church under a “pastoral provision” adopted by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and approved by Pope John Paul II in 1982. In these cases, the Catholic Church has frequently dispensed from the requirement of celibacy to allow those married Anglican clergy who desire to continue ministerial service as Catholic priests to be ordained in the Catholic Church.

In the light of these developments, the Personal Ordinariates established by the Apostolic Constitution can be seen as another step toward the realization the aspiration for full, visible union in the Church of Christ, one of the principal goals of the ecumenical movement.

Vatican announces new structure for Anglicans joining Catholic Church

(UPDATE: More complete story here.)

VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI has established a special structure for Anglicans who want to be in full communion with Roman Catholic Church while preserving aspects of their Anglican spiritual and liturgical heritage, said U.S. Cardinal William J. Levada.


Cardinal Levada at a 2007 Vatican press conference. (CNS/CPP)

The cardinal, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said a new apostolic constitution would establish “personal ordinariates” — similar to dioceses– to oversee the pastoral care of those who want to bring elements of their Anglican identity into the Catholic Church with them.

Anglican priests who are married will be ordained Catholic priests, although married Anglican bishops will not be able to function as Catholic bishops in keeping with the longstanding Catholic and Orthodox tradition of ordaining only unmarried clergy as bishops, Cardinal Levada said.

The cardinal announced the new arrangement during a press conference today at the Vatican. He said the pope’s apostolic constitution and norms for implementing were undergoing final revisions and would be published in a couple of weeks.

The new provision does not weaken the commitment of the Vatican to promoting Christian unity, Cardinal Levada said, but is a further recognition that many Anglicans share the Catholic faith and that Anglicans have a spiritual and liturgical life worth preserving.

Families called on to help evangelize society

Back in early September, John and Lauri Przybysz of Severna Park, Md., and other representatives of the Christian Family Movement were invited to make a presentation to the Pontifical Council for the Family, which is headed by Italian Cardinal Ennio Antonelli.

What they told the international gathering was that Christian families are called to participate in the evangelization of society, according to a story in The Message, newspaper of the Diocese of Evansville, Ind., by editor Paul R. Leingang.

“We agree with Cardinal Antonelli that the family can be more than an object of evangelization. The family can be an active agent of evangelization,” said the Maryland couple.

‘All work done by students’

Kyle Belcher, who headed up the architectural design of the house for the “Team California” (Santa Clara University and California College of the Arts) entry in the Energy Department’s Solar Decathlon, said there were many “aha” moments in the construction phase, since architecture students rarely get to see their designs move from the drawing board to building while still in school.

It reminded me of a college I used to visit, but one where students had lots of real-world practice: City Barber College in Detroit, where signs for the dozens of chairs read (or is that warned?): “All work done by students.” It was the “buyer beware” in return for getting a haircut at a low price.

Once as I was waiting for my turn in a chair, another customer left quickly. It seemed he had wanted his hair to go “over” his ears. But “over” turned out to be a highly imprecise word in the milieu of student barbering. Does “over” mean covering the ears, or does “over” mean above the ears? The student barber interpreted his customer to mean the latter; the customer had intended the former. When handed a mirror to examine the tonsorial artistry, the man was so upset he nearly threw a punch at the young barber — or so the barber-in-training said. Suffice it to say the man did not leave a tip.

‘Our house is a very, very fine house’

As I strolled along the National Mall Tuesday during the Energy Department-sponsored Solar Decathlon, I saw 20 student-built houses that stress energy efficiency and sustainable usage.

Photo courtesy of Stefano Paltera/U.S. Deptartment of Energy Solar Decathlon

Photo courtesy of Stefano Paltera/U.S. Deptartment of Energy Solar Decathlon

There was a constant parade of visitors checking out the houses, with dozens in line at any one time, and hundreds over the course of a day.

Allison Kopf, the project manager for Santa Clara University’s entry in the Solar Decathlon — the Catholic college joined up with the architecture school at the California College of the Arts to create “Team California” — said that, even from the outside, it was easy to recognize the geographic origin of the house designs. “You  can look at that house and say, ‘Oh, that’s an Illinois house’ or ‘That’s a Puerto Rico house,'” she told me minutes before a new day of open houses for the public took place Oct. 13.

The California house? Redwood exterior paneling.

Perhaps it was a professional failure on my part, but I did not check out which college in which state designed the house that looked like a silo.

Never so serious …

Robert Frost may (or may not) have said, “I am never so serious as when I am joking.” But whoever rightfully deserves credit for the quote knew what he was talking about. People use humor to make points.

Such was the approach of a speaker at the Oct. 7  initial session of  “A Common Word Between Us and You: A Global Agenda for Change,” a Christian-Muslim dialogue forum held at Georgetown University. Riz Khan, a program host on Al-Jazeera English, said those not in the know fear any Arabic word preceded by “al” in part because of their familiarity with the terrorist group al-Qaida and Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir, who has been charged with war crimes.

Not to worry, Khan said; “al” is merely the Arabic equivalent of “the.”  To laughter from the crowd, he noted a couple of significant “al” occurrences in English, “Al Gore and Al Capone.”

He also told the tale of three children at a nursery school who were instructed by the teacher to play in the sandbox. Afterward, the teacher summoned them one by one.

“Michael, did you play in the sandbox?” “Yes, ma’am.” “Good, Michael. If you can spell ‘sand,’ I’ll give you a cookie.” Michael thought. “S-A-N-D, ma’am,” he answered. “Very good, Michael, here’s your cookie.”

Next came little Catherine’s turn. “Catherine, did you play in the sandbox?” “Yes, ma’am.” “Good, Catherine. If you an spell ‘box,’ I’ll give you a cookie. It’s a little tricky, but I think you can do it.” Catherine gave it her best try. “B-O…,” she said, pausing to think of what letter could come next before triumphantly saying, “X, ma’am!” “Very good Catherine. Here’s your cookie.”

Now came young Mohammed’s turn. “Mohammed,” asked the teacher, “Did you play in the sandbox?” “No, ma’am,” he replied. “Michael and Catherine called me names and pushed me away.” “How terrible,” said the teacher. “That sounds like blatant racial discrimination. Now, if you can spell ‘blatant racial discrimination’….”

Oblate Father Carl Kabat: ‘A fool for Christ’

Oblate Father Carl Kabat, 76, prepares to hang a banner on the fence around a nuclear armed missile in northern Colorado Aug. 6. (Courtesy St. Louis Catholic Worker)

Oblate Father Carl Kabat, 76, prepares to hang a banner on the fence around a nuclear armed missile in northern Colorado Aug. 6. (Courtesy St. Louis Catholic Worker)

Spending time behind bars is nothing new for Oblate Father Carl Kabat. So on his 76th birthday Oct. 10, he could think of no better place to be than a jail cell.

The St. Louis priest has spent more than 15 years behind bars as a “fool for Christ” for numerous faith witnesses challenging U.S. nuclear weapons policy.

Father Kabat’s latest arrest came Aug. 6. Dressed in his usual colorful clown suit, he cut a hole in a fence surrounding a missile silo in rural Weld County, 40 miles north of Greeley, Colo. The fence was decorated with banners decrying the pursuit of nuclear warfare and a clown doll.

His symbolic action came on the anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Japan. The statement he issued prior to his arrest can be read here.

Father Kabat spent his 76th birthday in the Weld County Jail, where he is awaiting trial on misdemeanor charges of trespassing and criminal mischief for his latest protest. His trial is set for Dec. 9.

When he’s not engaged in faith-based protests, Father Kabat resides at Karen House, a Catholic Worker house for homeless women and their children, in St. Louis. Ordained 50 years ago, he was a missionary in the Philippines and Brazil in the 1960s and 1970s.

Father Kabat can be reached at the Weld County Jail, 2110 O St., Greeley, Colo., 80631.

St. Damien’s ceaseless care for the suffering inspires

Joining in the celebration of the Oct. 11 canonization of  St. Damien de Veuster is Council 11411 of the Knights of Columbus in the Diocese of Rochester, N.Y.  The Blessed Damien of Molokai Council is among a handful of Knights’ councils across the country named after the Belgian-born missionary priest who ministered in Hawaii, caring for those who had leprosy, or Hansen’s disease as it is called today.

“Basically, our mission is to reflect Christ as a servant. Damien reflected that very well,” Angelo Guzman, warden of Council 11411, said in an interview in the Catholic Courier, Rochester’s diocesan newspaper. “To be the right arm of the church — this is what Damien did. He wasn’t afraid to to get his hands dirty, and neither are we.”


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