Archive of May 11, 2014

Catholic foundation leaders meet in Chicago

Chicago, Ill., May 11, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - Leaders of Catholic community foundations and related special purpose foundations met for the first time at a national convocation in Chicago from May 6-8 to discuss their ministry.

Cardinal Francis George of Chicago told the gathering that Catholic foundations “play a key role in the mission of the Church.”

In his welcoming remarks, the cardinal said he hoped the event would be an opportunity for “fruitful dialogue” among foundation leaders that would “strengthen the partnership between foundations and the Church.”

He emphasized the importance of trust as a central component in successfully managing charitable efforts.

The convocation, titled “Many Ministries – One Heart,” brought together presidents, board chairs and executive directors of 37 Catholic community and special purpose foundations whose ministry includes managing Church funds. Organizers said it was the first gathering of its kind in the U.S.

Most of the organizations present at the meeting are canonically considered “autonomous pious foundations,” making them public juridic persons and consequently independent organizations.

Cardinal Robert Sarah, president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, praised the work of the foundations.

“Each of you in your own way is dedicated to serving the local Church in different forms as responsible stewards,” he told the foundation leaders in his keynote address.

The gathering had been convened by the Council Cor Unum, which provides papal support for humanitarian relief and promotes projects and initiatives for human development. The council also encourages Catholic initiatives worldwide.

The event was organized by the Christian Brothers Investment Services of Chicago and the Archdiocese of San Antonio’s Catholic Community Foundation / Catholic Fraternity Fund.

The gathering discussed foundational ministry in the context of Pope Benedict XVI’s 2012 apostolic letter “On the Service of Charity.” The letter set the canonical framework for the Church’s charitable works. Its new legislative norms define the structure of Catholic charitable institutions, their operation under canon law, and their accountability to their local bishops.

Operational issues were also a focus, including the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ socially responsible investment norms, the legal structures needed to comply with state and federal law, fiduciary responsibilities and asset protection.

At the gathering, 37 foundation presidents and their board chairs signed a letter to Pope Francis assuring him of their prayers and expressing “our love, support and fidelity along with our most sincere and warmest greeting.”

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New film illuminates Catholic view on same-sex attraction

Indianapolis, Ind., May 11, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - Catholics with same-sex attraction talk about their personal struggles and the comfort they find in Church teaching in a new documentary that shows Christian love as the “third way” in controversies about homosexuality.

“Those with same-sex attraction aren’t being asked to do anything different than a heterosexual,” one Catholic man, David, said in the movie “The Third Way.”

“We're all called to chastity, every single one of us,” he said.

Melinda, a Catholic convert, said that she gave up her same-sex relationship when she became Catholic. “I knew that if I became a Catholic the homosexuality thing was going to have to go,” she recalled.

“And I told God I was okay with that, because I was falling in love with my Creator. My identity and my relationship with God just seemed more important than my identity and my relationship with my girlfriend.”

The 38-minute documentary was directed by John-Andrew O’Rourke of the Indiana-based Blackstone Films. Father John Hollowell, a priest of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, was its executive producer.

The film features Catholics with same-sex attraction alongside commentary from Catholic speakers like Sister Helena Burns and Chris Stefanick.

Joseph, a Catholic layman, said he first opened up about his life and his experience with same-sex attraction in the Catholic confessional. He expressed his gratitude for the priest who responded to him.

“He made himself available to me in a way that nobody else ever has. He was very truly a father to me, and continues to be one. There is nothing I can do to ever repay him for that.”

Fr. Michael Schmitz, a priest serving in Michigan’s Diocese of Duluth, explained in the film that Catholicism follows a different path that rejects both the total condemnation of people and the affirmation of same-sex sexual activity.

“We do not in any way hate or condemn or fear or want to isolate you,” Fr. Schmitz said in the film. “At the same time we can’t embrace everything that you choose. So we’re going to choose this third way. And that third way is love. We’re going to love you.”

“You belong here with us. You can share with us your struggle, you can share with us your attraction, and we’re still going to love you.”

The Catholic men and women with same-sex attraction talk in the film about their faith and their lives.

Some talk about their problems fitting in while growing up, feeling different and experiencing significant loneliness or harassment from peers. Some recount a difficult past, including parental or sexual abuse.

Fr. Schmitz emphasized church condemnation of unjust discrimination and bullying, saying the “Church makes it very, very clear. All men and women experiencing same-sex attraction must be treated with compassion, dignity, respect.”

Fr. Hollowell, the documentary’s executive producer, told CNA that the film aims to tell the stories of “people who experience same-sex attraction and yet nonetheless find great comfort in the Catholic Church's teachings on that topic.”

He said that Catholicism rejects both the “hedonist culture” that says “do whatever you want, have sex with whomever you want, you’ll be fine,” as well as the approach of “the Biblical fundamentalists who say simply having a same-sex attraction means you are a sinner.”

The priest said he was motivated to make the film because of his experiences as a new priest teaching theology at Cardinal Ritter High School in Indianapolis.

“As I went through my first year of teaching, I was surprised to see how open most of the young people were to the teachings of the Church. However, I'll never forget how hostile most of my seniors were when it came to the Church's teaching on homosexuality.”

At first he had no compelling material that would help his students understand Church teaching. He soon discovered essays by Catholics who live with same-sex attraction.

“I realized that I needed to put these stories on screen since so few people read essays anymore,” he said. “I set out to look for a way to let the people who live with same-sex attraction and yet nonetheless embrace Catholicism tell their stories.”

The documentary was a crowd-funded project, drawing 879 contributors over a 20-day fundraising period.

Bishop Christopher Coyne, the auxiliary bishop of Indianapolis, gave guidance to the film, Fr. Hollowell said. The film has the endorsement of Fr. Paul Check of the Courage apostolate, which ministers to Catholics with same-sex attraction.

Bishop Patrick Dunn of Auckland, New Zealand, the secretary of the New Zealand Bishops’ Conference, has said he plans to use the film in his country to minister to Catholics with same-sex attractions.

“The initial response has been overwhelmingly positive, especially for such a controversial topic,” he said.

“The Third Way” may be pre-ordered on DVD. It is viewable online at the website of Blackstone Films,

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Pope to newly ordained: always be merciful

Vatican City, May 11, 2014 (CNA) - In his homily at an ordination Mass this morning, Pope Francis urged those becoming priests to follow Christ’s example of mercy in the sacrament of Confession.

“Never grow tired of being merciful! Please! You have the capacity to forgive as did the Lord, who did not come to condemn, but to forgive! Have mercy, a lot!” he urged the 13 men being ordained to the priesthood in St. Peter’s Basilica on May 11.

“If you come to have concerns about being too much of a ‘forgiver,’ think of that saintly priest...who went before the tabernacle and said, ‘Lord, forgive me if I have forgiven too much. But you have given me the worst example!’”

As Bishop of Rome, Pope Francis ordained 13 men to the priesthood, 11 from the diocesan seminary in Rome and two missionaries from Pakistan and Vietnam.

Concelebrating with him were Cardinal Agostino Vallini, vicar general of the Diocese of Rome, and Archbishop Filippo Iannone, vicegerent of Rome. They were joined by the auxiliary bishops of Rome along with the rectors of the seminaries and the pastors of the newly ordained.

The Holy Father spoke to the men of his sadness at hearing of people who had the experience of being “thrashed” or “yelled at” in the confessional and never returned because they felt that “the doors of the Church were closed in their face!”

“Please, don’t do this!”

Priests should rather follow in the way of Jesus, the good shepherd who acts as the gate to the sheepfold. “The gate of mercy is the wounds of the Lord: if you don’t enter into your ministry through the wounds of Christ, you will not be good shepherds,” he cautioned.

Pope Francis also reminded those seeking ordination to be faithful to the Gospel they were taught rather than creating their own ideas.

“Teach that which you have learned in the faith, live that which you have taught. A nourishment to the people of God will therefore be your doctrine, which is not yours: you are not owners of doctrine! It is the doctrine of the Lord, and you must be faithful to the doctrine of the Lord!”

The Pope continued reflecting on the theme of priests as shepherds and pastors in his Sunday Regina Caeli delivered soon after the mass from the window of the apostolic palace.

Only Jesus, “the risen one, is the true shepherd, who gives us life in abundance,” he told the crowds filling St. Peter’s Square.

On the day marked as the world day of prayer for vocations, “this Sunday we pray for the shepherds of the Church,” he said.

“In particular, we pray for the new priests of the Diocese of Rome, who were ordained a little while ago, in St. Peter’s Basilica. A greeting for these 13 priests!” the Pope called out as the crowds cheered and applauded.

The Roman Pontiff then recounted an image of the priesthood told by an early father of the Church, St. Caesarius of Arles, who explained how the “people of God must help the pastor.”

“When a calf is hungry it goes to the cow, to the mother, to get milk,” he explained. But often the cow does not give milk immediately, and so the calf must knock on the mother’s udder with its nose, “and then the milk arrives.”

“It’s a beautiful image! ‘Thus you’ - says the saint - ‘must be like with the pastors (of the Church): always knock at their door, at their hearts, because they must give you the milk of doctrine, the milk of grace and the milk of guidance,’” Pope Francis encouraged.

He urged the faithful to consider this image: “And I ask you, please, to pester the pastors, to bother the pastors, all of us pastors, because we must give you the milk of grace, of doctrine, of guidance.”

The Pope also noted the importance of praying for those who might be called to the priesthood or religious life, especially for the “many young people hearing the voice of the Lord, that always risks becoming stifled by other voices.”

“Maybe here in the square there is someone who hears the voice of the Lord calling him to the priesthood,” he suggested. “Let us pray for him, if he is here, and for all the young people who are called.”

Pope Francis led the crowds in praying the Regina Coeli, and then greeted many of the pilgrim groups present.

He also invited everyone to join in a Hail Mary for mothers, as Italy celebrates Mother’s Day today.

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