The teaching authority of ‘Amoris Laetitia’

VATICAN CITY — Jesuit Father Antonio Spadaro, editor of the journal La Civilta Cattolica, interviewed Cardinal Christoph Schonborn about Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation “Amoris Laetitia” and reaction to it.

The journal provided Catholic News Service with an English translation of the interview and its website — www.laciviltacattolica.it — was scheduled to post selections in English from the interview at 3 p.m. Rome time today.

Here are two of the questions and answers:

Father Spadaro: Some have spoken of AL as a minor document, a personal opinion of the pope (so to speak) without full magisterial value. What value does this exhortation possess? Is it an act of the magisterium? This seems obvious, but it is good to specify it in these times, in order to prevent some voices from creating confusion among the faithful when they assert that this is not the case …

 Cardinal Schonborn: It is obvious that this is an act of the magisterium: It is an apostolic exhortation. It is clear that the pope is exercising here his role of pastor, of master and teacher of the faith, after having benefited from the consultation of the two synods. I have no doubt that it must be said that this is a pontifical document of great quality, an authentic teaching of sacra doctrina, which leads us back to the contemporary relevance of the Word of God.

Austrian Cardinal Schonborn of Vienna arrives for morning session of synod

Austrian Cardinal Christoph Schonborn of Vienna arriving at a 2014 session of the Synod of Bishops on the family. (CNS/Paul Haring)

I have read it many times, and each time I note the delicacy of its composition and an ever greater quantity of details that contain a rich teaching. There is no lack of passages in the exhortation that affirm their doctrinal value strongly and decisively. This can be recognized from the tone and the content of what is said, when we relate these to the intention of the text — for example, when the pope writes: “I urgently ask …”, “It is no longer possible to say …”, “I have wanted to present to the entire church …”, and so on. AL is an act of the magisterium that makes the teaching of the church present and relevant today. Just as we read the Council of Nicaea in the light of the Council of Constantinople, and Vatican I in the light of Vatican II, so now we must read the previous statements of the magisterium about the family in the light of the contribution made by AL. We are led in a living manner to draw a distinction between the continuity of the doctrinal principles and the discontinuity of perspectives or of historically conditioned expressions. This is the function that belongs to the living magisterium: to interpret authentically the Word of God, whether written or handed down.

Father Spadaro: I have the impression, therefore, that this stage is an evolution in the understanding of the doctrine …

Cardinal Schonborn: The complexity of family situations, which goes far beyond what was customary in our Western societies even a few decades ago, has made it necessary to look in a more nuanced way at the complexity of these situations. To a greater degree than in the past, the objective situation of a person does not tell us everything about that person in relation to God and in relation to the church. This evolution compels us urgently to rethink what we meant when we spoke of objective situations of sin. And this implicitly entails a homogeneous evolution in the understanding and in the expression of the doctrine.

Francis has taken an important step by obliging us to clarify something that had remained implicit in “Familiaris consortio” [St. John Paul II’s 1981 exhortation on the family] about the link between the objectivity of a situation of sin and the life of grace in relation to God and to his church, and –- as a logical consequence –- about the concrete imputability of sin. Cardinal Ratzinger had explained in the 1990s that we no longer speak automatically of a situation of mortal sin in the case of new marital unions. I remember asking Cardinal Ratzinger in 1994, when the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith had published its document about divorced and remarried persons: “Is it possible that the old praxis that was taken for granted, and that I knew before the [Second Vatican] Council, is still valid? This envisaged the possibility, in the internal forum with one’s confessor, of receiving the sacraments, provided that no scandal was given.” His reply was very clear, just like what Pope Francis affirms: There is no general norm that can cover all the particular cases. The general norm is very clear; and it is equally clear that it cannot cover all the cases exhaustively.

Elie Wiesel: ‘We must bear witness’

The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, which opened in 1993 in Washington has the words of Elie Wiesel carved in stone at its entrance: “For the dead and the living, we must bear witness.”

Catholic high school teacher views an exhibit at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum during a 1998 training program for Catholic teachers. (CNS photo by Bob Roller)

Catholic high school teacher views an exhibit at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum during a 1998 training program for Catholic teachers. (CNS photo by Bob Roller)

Wiesel, the Holocaust survivor, Nobel Peace Prize recipient and prolific author who died July 2 at the age of 87, was passionate about helping people not only remember atrocities but to take responsibility for them by making sure evil does not get the upper hand again.

He did this not only with his writings — most famously through “Night” — the autobiographical account of his time in concentration camps as a teenager —  but also through helping found the Holocaust museum , which he envisioned as a “living memorial” to serve as a warning about the fragility of democracy and the dangers of unchecked hatred.

When the museum opened 23 years ago, Catholic News Service reported:

The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum not only recounts the deaths of millions of victims of World War II, but it presents a lesson for all people, according to Jewish and Catholic leaders.

“It tells a crucial story, summing up the underside of the 20th century,” said Eugene J. Fisher, associate director of the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops.

He called the new museum’s role “extremely important” in “helping all Christians remember what can happen if we’re not extremely vigilant.”

The museum, near all the other museums along the National Mall, deserves to be visited, and perhaps Wiesel’s death is a poignant reminder of that.

I had the chance to tour it before it officially opened and wrote this for CNS:

Once inside the museum, the visitor has stepped into another world. And for the few hours it takes to see the entire exhibit, that world closes in. There are no hallways where one can escape; no opportunity to go back and forth among displays. The museum is designed to make one feel pushed along, almost forced, as were the concentration camp prisoners.

Amid the discomfort, there is also a connection with the persecuted. Visitors are immediately given a computerized identity card of a Holocaust victim who matches their own age and sex. The card includes a short biography which is updated at stations along the exhibit’s route. Only at the end does one learn the fate of the person on the card.

Other displays also depict the humanity of each Holocaust victim. There is a case of rusted silverware, umbrellas, hair brushes, scissors and kitchen utensils taken from inmates upon their arrival at a camp.

Even more disturbing is a display of 4,000 shoes, browned with age and smelling of dust — taken from prisoners before their deaths.

Nothing prepares the visitor for this scene. It comes up suddenly, around a corner, and speaks of the senseless killings of men, women and children, none of whom knew what would happen that day when they buckled their sandals or slipped on their loafers.

Through each exhibit the dark museum with its grey walls not only tells the story of the Jews, but it speaks of all who were victims of the Nazi regime, including persons with disabilities, Gypsies, homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Catholics.

The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum also has something to say about continued atrocities and genocide.

Shoes confiscated from prisoners at Majdanek, on loan from the State Museum of Majdanek, Lublin, Poland. US Holocaust Memorial Museum photo.

Shoes confiscated from prisoners at Majdanek, on loan from the State Museum of Majdanek, Lublin, Poland. US Holocaust Memorial Museum photo.

Servite Father John T. Pawlikowski,  director of the Catholic-Jewish Studies Program at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, who served on the museum’s board  wrote in a July 3 commentary for the Crux website: “We must continue to mourn the victims of genocide and terror attacks, as well as the killing of so many in our urban areas. Otherwise such human destruction can easily become the ‘new normal.'”

In this way the museum’s role becomes two-fold — looking back and forward.

That’s exactly what Rabbi Leon Klenicki, director of interfaith affairs for the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, said when the museum opened.

The rabbi, who died in 2009, said at the time that Holocaust museum is a “testimony of the evil potential of what humans can do to other humans” with a particularly important lesson at the time with what was happening in former Yugoslavia.

 “We must be aware of the ever present presence of diabolical evil” and “we must be alert and fight” against it, he said.

But he also said the horror of the Holocaust is not completely dark. “Beyond tears it manifests the strength of the human spirit that comes out of a relationship with God.”

It recounts “people saying ‘yes’ to God despite everything,” he said, which is something Wiesel also touched upon.

In a 2013 interview he said: “I believe in humanity against humanity, I believe in God against God, because what else do I have? ”

And in a 1997 op-ed piece  for The New York Times, Wiesel wrote that his relationship with God had been difficult he never lost faith “not even over there, during the darkest hours of my life.”

This three-story tower displays photographs from the Yaffa Eliach Shtetl Collection. Taken between 1890 and 1941 in Eishishok, a small town in what is now Lithuania, the photographs depict a vibrant Jewish community that existed for 900 years. In 1941, an SS mobile killing squad entered the village and within two days massacred the Jewish population. US Holocaust Memorial Museum photo.

This three-story tower displays photographs from the Yaffa Eliach Shtetl Collection. Taken between 1890 and 1941 in Eishishok, a small town in what is now Lithuania, the photographs depict a vibrant Jewish community that existed for 900 years. In 1941, an SS mobile killing squad entered the village and within two days massacred the Jewish population. (U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum photo.

Pilgrim cheat sheet for World Youth Day in Krakow

St. Leonard's Crypt below Wawel Cathedral dates to the 11th century. It holds the tombs of Polish royalty and military heroes. Father Karol Wotyla (St. John Paul II) celebrated his first Mass as a priest in the crypt. The city, once the royal capital of Poland, will host the international World Youth Day in July. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)

St. Leonard’s Crypt below Wawel Cathedral dates to the 11th century. It holds the tombs of Polish royalty and military heroes. Father Karol Wotyla (St. John Paul II) celebrated his first Mass as a priest in the crypt. The city, once the royal capital of Poland, will host the international World Youth Day in July. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)

There’s so much to experience in Krakow and its surroundings that it’s difficult to parse a list of helpful tips and favorites. However, while traveling with Poles around Poland last year, CNS contributor Nancy Wiechec was able to come up with a short list to pass on to World Youth Day pilgrims. Print out or save to your phone for quick reference.

Key Polish words

Dzień dobry (Jeyn dob-ry) Hello or good day, formal

Cześć (Chesht-sh) Hello or goodbye, informal

Spoko (S-poko) Cool, no problem

Dobrze (Dob-sheh) Good or well

Dziękuję (Jen-koo-yeah) Thank you

Magiczny Kraków (Ma-geech-nih Krah-koof) Magical Krakow

Obwarzanki for sale in central Krakow. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)

Obwarzanki for sale in central Krakow. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)

Foods to try

Pierogi: These Polish dumplings come filled with savory meats, cheese or seasoned cabbage and mushrooms. There are also fruit-filled varieties. They come boiled, fried or baked.

Kabanosy: Thin, dry smoked pork sausages that are a good on-the-go snack. Think jerky. Krakowski Kredens Tradycja Galicyjska in Krakow sells them and other Polish delicacies.

Obwarzanki: These chewy dough rings, sometimes shaped like a pretzel, are sprinkled with salt, poppy and/or sesame seeds. Get them fresh in the morning from street carts across Krakow. At about 1.5 Polish zloty (40 cents), they are a bargain.

Zapiekanka: A toasted half sandwich roll topped with melted cheese, mushrooms and ketchup was a Communist-era omnipresent street food. It’s made a comeback with better quality and a seemingly infinite variety of toppings.

Zurek: Poles love a good soup. This savory broth of soured rye meal and herbs is often made hearty with fresh Polish sausage, hardboiled eggs and bacon.

Kremówki papieskie: A favorite of St. John Paul II from his hometown of Wadowice, papal cream cake is now a sought-after sweet across the country.

This is an interior view taken in early September of St. Mary's Basilica in Krakow, Poland. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)

This is an interior view taken in early September of St. Mary’s Basilica in Krakow, Poland. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)

 

Must-see sites

Main Market Square and St. Mary’s Basilica

Wawel Castle and Cathedral

Jewish Quarter

St. Peter and Paul Church

Sanctuary of the Divine Mercy

Just in time for Independence Day: Learn about Catholic patriots of the American Revolution

(CNS photo/Mike Crupi, Catholic Courier)

(CNS photo/Mike Crupi, Catholic Courier)

“The Archivists’ Nook” on the website of The Catholic University of America’s libraries has a great lesson for us all about “Catholic contributions to the national cause.” Most of us may know well that Charles Carroll of Carrollton, Maryland,  was the only Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence — and he was a cousin of Bishop (later Archbishop) John Carroll of Baltimore, who in 1789 became the first Catholic bishop of the United States.

The “Nook” posting highlights many other Catholics who had a role “in the front ranks of freedom’s struggle” it says:

— Two Catholics who signed the U.S. Constitution were Thomas Fitzsimons, an Irish-born Philadelphia merchant, and Bishop Carroll’s older brother, Daniel, who served in the Continental Congress and also signed the Articles of Confederation.

— Others included Stephen Moylan, also an Irish-born Philadelphia merchant; Casimir Pulaski and Tadeusz Kosciuszko of Poland; and the Marquis de Lafayette of France.

These Catholic leaders did all this despite the prejudice that existed against Catholics and the civil and legal restrictions on them.

A story in the CNS archives on Charles Carroll notes that he returned to Maryland, after getting a Jesuit education in Belgium, where his studies on the writings of Thomas Aquinas, Robert Bellarmine and Francisco de Suarez helped shape his political philosophy, and he began lobbying for repeal of the Stamp Act in 1765. But he was prohibited from voting on any issue because he was Catholic.

According to Scott McDermott, who wrote “Charles Carroll of Carrollton: Faithful Revolutionary,” it was ” a profound victory for Catholic Americans” when he was elected to the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, and “the beginning of religious tolerance on this continent.”

Word to Life — Sunday Scripture readings, July 3, 2016

"Your heart shall rejoice and your bodies flourish like the grass; the Lord's power shall be known to his servants." -- Isaiah 66:14

“Your heart shall rejoice and your bodies flourish like the grass; the Lord’s power shall be known to his servants.” — Isaiah 66:14

 

July 3, Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

      Cycle C. Readings:

      1) Isaiah 66:10-14c

      Psalm 66:1-7, 16, 20

      2) Galatians 6:14-18

      Gospel: Luke 10:1-12, 17-20 or Luke 10:1-9

 

By Jean Denton
Catholic News Service

Using Jerusalem as a metaphor in this week’s Scripture, Isaiah presents God as a mother providing her children with comfort, nourishment and nurture, and proclaims that “the Lord’s power shall be known to his servants.”

Confidence in God’s power and care are indeed essential to Jesus’ disciples, we see in today’s Gospel, when he sends them forth to pave his way in “every town and place he intended to visit.”

This passage offers us valuable instruction in the ways and means of evangelizing. Warning his disciples that they will face opposition “as lambs among wolves,” Jesus also tells them to be free of material comforts and rely instead on the hospitality of whatever community they visit.

Stay as long as you are accepted, he says, and respond by ministering to the people there. Further, he directed, pray for others to join the effort.

A present-day disciple I know, Adele, followed this very formula when she and two fellow women religious ventured forth from New Jersey to minister to migrant farmworkers in the American South. Welcomed by a community in Virginia, she stayed for more than 30 years.

In visiting the migrant camps, Adele and her colleagues discovered the workers, Haitian immigrants, were underpaid and living in squalid conditions. When they explained the situation to the pastor of the nearby church, he brought the men to live in his rectory temporarily while parishioners helped them find stable jobs in town.

The parish lent additional support while the men transitioned to independent housing and also gave the nuns part-time staff positions, which covered their living expenses.

Over the years, Adele’s ministry increased. She prayed for more laborers, and the harvest has indeed been abundant.

As the Haitians and the community embraced each other, local parishioners became interested in the families they’d left behind and in the country whose dire conditions had forced them to flee. A new mission to serve the impoverished people of Haiti was born and spread throughout the diocese with more than 40 parishes partnered, spiritually and materially, with communities in Haiti.

Follow the instructions: While we are sent forth by Christ, we mustn’t underestimate the call also to welcome, empower and join those who come among us to spread the Gospel.

QUESTIONS:

How have you reached out to spread Jesus’ message? How have you welcomed and supported others doing the same?

New blog celebrates first anniversary of ‘Ladauto Si”

Nicolette Paglioni

 (CNS photo/courtesy U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops)

(CNS photo/courtesy U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops)

WASHINGTON (CNS) – The Center of Concern has a beautiful blog called Integral Voices dedicated to raising awareness of social justice and environmental issues.

Inspired by Pope Francis’ encyclical “Laudato Si’,” the center hopes to use the blog to bring experts, leaders, and readers together to discuss a huge range of environmental, political, social, and economic concerns.

“Integral Voices will introduce our readers to the sophisticated and nuanced observations of leaders with the range of experience and wisdom to inspire us to think differently and to act differently, to imagine a globalization of hope,” said Dr. Lester Meyers, the president of Center of Concern.

Writers Franciscan Sister Ilia Delio and John Friedman, who is on the center’s board of directors, published the two inaugural blog posts about the pope’s encyclical and the unseen consequences of well-meaning environmental activism.

Sister Ilia has written 17th books and lectures concerning Christianity and evolution, and currently holds the Josephine C. Connelly Endowed Chair in Theology at Villanova University.

Friedman is an expert of communications and sustainability, has managed both of these offices for several businesses, and hosts Sound Living on MusicPlanetRadio.com, an online radio station featuring a charming combination of rock music and tips for living a more environmentally friendly life.

Other writers for Integral Voices include Jesuit Father John P. Langan and Mercy Sister Mary Alice Synkewecz.

Father Langan is the chair of the board of directors of the Center of Concern and a professor of Catholic social thought at Jesuit-run Georgetown University.

Sister Mary Alice is the director of the Collaborative Center for Justice. These writers were chosen by the Center of Concern for their knowledge and expertise on the wide variety of subjects that Integral Voices hopes to discuss.

Integral Voices, which was launched June 20, will be updated on a semi-monthly basis.

Word to Life — Sunday Scripture readings, June 26, 2016

"'Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?' Jesus turned and rebuked them." -- Luke 9:54-55

“‘Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?’ Jesus turned and rebuked them.” — Luke 9:54-55

June 26, Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Cycle C. Readings:

1) 1 Kings 19:16b, 19-21

Psalm 16:1-2, 5, 7-11

2) Galatians 5:1, 13-18

Gospel: Luke 9:51-62

 

By Jeff Hedglen
Catholic News Service

When I was in high school I signed up for a special district-wide class on criminal justice. The idea was to gather from every school students who were considering a career in law enforcement.

I had to travel across town to another school for the course and it turned out all the other students in the class went to that school. I was the only outsider. For an entire year the whole class treated me rudely, made fun of me and called me offensive names. Looking back, it was one of the best years of my life.

I had been taught by my family and my faith to turn the other cheek, and I strived all year to do just that. I never lashed out at these other students; I just took their insults and did my best to be the better person. This experience has had a lasting impact on me.

It came to mind when reading this week’s Gospel. Jesus wants to visit a Samaritan town, but the local people refuse to welcome him. Jesus’ disciples ask him, “Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?” But Jesus rejects this idea.

To be sure, when I was in that class daily with students who refused to welcome me I wanted to “call down fire from heaven,” but by the grace of God I was able to lean more heavily on the message from St. Paul this week: “Live by the Spirit and you will certainly not gratify the desire of the flesh.”

So often we are in danger of letting our worldly passions rule our life. But Jesus and St. Paul in unison reject this idea and call us to live by the Spirit.

Living by the Spirit does not mean that we cannot have passion; rather, it means we have surrendered to the will of God and have allowed his will to guide our passions.

As with most things in the spiritual life, it’s simple but not easy. We must be steeped in the things of the Spirit and avoid the thoughts and activities mired in the flesh if we are to have a fighting chance. But fight we must, lest we call down that fire from heaven and end up singed by our own wrath.

QUESTIONS:

Do you remember a time when you wanted to “call down fire from heaven”? What are some things you do to strive to live in the Spirit?

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