SSPX Bishop Fellay arrives at Vatican

UPDATE: Bishop Fellay, doctrinal officials meet for discussions at Vatican

VATICAN CITY — Bishop Bernard Fellay, superior general of the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X, arrived at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at 5 p.m. this evening for a meeting with U.S. Cardinal William Levada, prefect of the doctrinal congregation.

News reports earlier said Cardinal Levada would relay to Bishop Fellay Pope Benedict XVI’s response to his latest suggestions regarding a “doctrinal preamble” the Vatican wants him to sign in order to reconcile the SSPX with the rest of the church.

At this point, the meeting is still going on and we have no idea what is being said.

Bishop Fellay arrives June 13 at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. (CNS/Carol Glatz)

Bishop Fellay pulled up to the “Holy Office,” as the building housing the congregation is known, in a red, four-door Peugeot 260 with French license plates. There were two other people in the car with him. A French colleague asked Bishop Fellay if, after the meeting, he would speak to the handful of journalists gathered outside. The bishop responded, “We’ll see.”

Interestingly, on his way into the building, Bishop Fellay crossed paths with Swiss Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and president of the Pontifical Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews.

In May, Cardinal Koch had given a major address in Rome on “Nostra Aetate,” the Second Vatican Council’s declaration on relations with non-Christian religions. The Society of St. Pius X has voiced serious reservations about the teachings in that document, including Nostra Aetate’s recognition of the special place of the Jewish people in salvation history and it’s condemnation of anti-Semitism.

Video: Why Corpus Christi processions?

Is your town or parish having a Corpus Christi procession this weekend to mark the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ? This past Thursday, when much of Europe and other locations marked the traditional date of the feast of Corpus Christi, our Rome bureau prepared this one-minute primer on why the church holds such processions. You can also read our story on Pope Benedict XVI’s Corpus Christi homily and procession, plus you can see photos of Thursday’s Mass and procession in Rome.

CUA president pens columns about HHS mandate

CUA President John Garvey     (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)

John Garvey, president of The Catholic University of America in Washington, has been writing a fair amount on the contraceptive mandate in the new health care reform law.

He wrote an op-ed piece in the May 25 edition of The Washington Post and a commentary in the June 8 edition of The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Both columns outlined why Catholic University recently joined 42 Catholic dioceses, schools, hospitals, social service agencies and other institutions in filing suit in federal court to stop three government agencies from implementing a mandate that would require them cover contraceptives and sterilization in their health plans.

Catholic organizations have objected to the contraceptive mandate since it was announced last Aug. 1 by Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Unless they meet the four criteria of a narrow religious exemption or have a grandfathered health plan, employers will be required to pay for sterilizations and contraceptives as part of their health coverage beginning as soon as Aug. 1, 2012. Religiously affiliated institutions will be given an additional year — by August 2013 — to comply with the mandate.

Garvey, writing for the Chronicle, noted that if the federal government had provided a “genuine accommodation” to Catholic organizations with the health care law, it could have attained its goals “while respecting fully the constitutionally protected rights of our universities to remain true to our founding missions: the development of intellect and the inculcation of virtue.”

“Barring that, we feel compelled to seek relief from the courts,” he wrote.

In the Post, Garvey said Catholic institutions that filed suit against the HHS mandate “object that the rules force them to support activities — sterilization and abortion, in addition to contraception — that they view as immoral. It’s like compelling Jehovah’s Witnesses to salute the flag, or Quakers to fight or Jews to eat pork.”

UPDATE: Pittsburgh Bishop David A. Zubik has written a similar commentary in USA Today that appeared yesterday. He also co-wrote a June 8 column in the Pittsburgh Catholic, the diocesan newspaper, discussing the reason for the lawsuits.

Pope heading to USA? Next world families’ meeting in Philly 2015


The adoration of the Magi is depicted in a painting in the Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul in Philadelphia. (CNS photo/Nancy Phelan Wiechec)

MILAN, Italy — The Archdiocese of Philadelphia will host the next World Meeting of Families in 2015, an event attended by hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world. It will be the first time the event, established by Blessed John Paul II in 1994, will be held in the United States.

Pope Benedict XVI made the announcement June 3 after the five-day event’s closing Mass to some 850,000 people gathered at Milan’s outdoor Bresso park.

“I send my warm greetings to Archbishop Charles Chaput and to the Catholics of that great city, and look forward to meeting them there along with numerous families from all around the world,” he said. “God willing,” he would take part, he said.

The pope would be 88 in 2015 and it would mark his second trip to the United States, his first to Philadelphia, as pope.

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia, went on stage to greet the pope. The pope, who chooses the venue for each world families’ meeting, thanked the archbishop for his willingness to host.

The international gathering, which celebrates and aims to help families live their Christian vocation, is held every three years and is organized by the Pontifical Council for the Family.

Pope Benedict did not attend the Sixth world meeting in Mexico City in 2009 and spoke to families after the concluding Mass via live satellite link-up. Blessed John Paul did a similar satellite broadcast message at the concluding Mass when he could not attend the event in Manila in 2003 due to his limited physical mobility at 82.

The first world meeting was held in Rome in 1994. Since then it has taken place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1997; Rome in 2000; and Manila, Philippines, in 2003; Valencia, Spain, in 2006, Mexico City in 2009. Almost every meeting has drawn more than a million people.


‘For Greater Glory’ is a ‘strong film with a timely message’ about religious liberty, says archbishop

Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez at premiere of “For Greater Glory.” (CNS photo/Reuters)

It’s not every day a Catholic archbishop welcomes a host of Hollywood celebrities at a movie premiere, but that was the scene on the red carpet May 31, when Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez greeted the stars of the new movie “For Greater Glory,” among them Andy Garcia, Eva Longoria and Eduardo Verastegui. The film, opening yesterday in theaters, is about the 1920s Cristero Rebellion in Mexico.

“The anti-Catholic persecutions in Mexico in the 1920s and 1930s are long forgotten, it seems. The reality is hard to believe,” the archbishop wrote in his May 29 column for The Tidings, newspaper of the Los Angeles Archdiocese. “Just a generation ago, not far from our borders, thousands of men, women and even children, were imprisoned, exiled, tortured and murdered. All for the ‘crime’ of believing in Jesus Christ and wanting to live by their faith in him.

“So I welcome the new film, ‘For Greater Glory.’ It tells the dramatic story of this unknown war against religion and our church’s heroic resistance. It’s a strong film with a timely message. It reminds us that our religious liberties are won by blood and we can never take them for granted.”

Catholic News Service reviewer John Mulderig echoed that sentiment in his review: The Mexican government’s tyrannical interference with religious liberty, while obviously far more extreme than anything taking place north of the border today, nonetheless carries a sobering resonance with current events.

“If the film can be taken as a cautionary tale about where excessively zealous, overweening secularism can lead a nation, the warning is a stark one.”

The Catholic Church has canonized 25 martyrs of the rebellion and beatified even more. The most famous of the martyrs is St. Toribio Romo Gonzalez, a popular patron of Mexican migrants. On March 25,  the second full day of his two-day visit to Mexico before he traveled to Cuba, Pope Benedict XVI celebrated Mass in Silao, in the central state of Guanajuato, the country’s Catholic heartland and a stronghold of the 1920s Cristero Rebellion.

Video: Why the pope is in Milan this weekend

Pope Benedict XVI arrived in Milan late this afternoon for the World Meeting of Families, where he plans to show his deep concern for bolstering the family during troubled times.

In this video from our Rome bureau, correspondent Carol Glatz, who is covering the pope in Milan, explains why the pope sees the family as a basic building block of society, talks about some of the global challenges facing the family, and shares the pope’s vision for the family as a crucial part of the “new evangelization.”

Did you know that you also can gain special indulgences this weekend in connection with the meeting? Details on that are here.

High school grads get some advice for building up social network for ‘kingdom of God on this earth’

Bishop Robert N. Lynch of St. Petersburg, Fla., with Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican in May. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano)

So just what kind of social network did the fishermen who followed Christ have? Bishop Robert N. Lynch of St. Petersburg, Fla., posed that question in the homily he delivered May 28 at the 2012 baccalaureate Mass for the graduating seniors of Jesuit High School in Tampa, Fla.  The next day he put the homily in a  blog posting titled “Tweet, Tweet.”

In a commentary leading into the text of his homily, he writes that he understands full well how young people, like the graduates he addressed, are all about social networking and how they have learned the art of  creating 140-character tweets for Twitter. Social media is here to stay, he acknowledges, but he also wonders how much meaning can one impart in such a message.

“Communicating and living the full message of our Christian life requires far more than tweeting and texting,” he writes. “To focus on one or the other to the exclusion of developing those conversational skills necessary to fully convey and proclaim one’s faith in Christ Jesus requires far more.” He says that in his homily, “I try to make the case for expanding beyond the social media while still acknowledging that even the church can use it.”

The disciples “did not have Facebook or Twitter. They could not spread the good news of Christ’s resurrection and ascension and the coming of the Holy Spirit by posting a video to YouTube. They could, however, let it shine through their lives and their speaking, and this is precisely what they did,” he told the graduates.

“You have been nourished in faith, given a magnificent education in the arts and sciences, and formed in the tradition of St. Ignatius Loyola to do all things for the greater glory of God and be truly men for others,” he continued. “As you go forth … I pray you will communicate far more through your actions than simply 140 characters in a tweet. That is how you will build up a social network for the kingdom of God on this earth.”