December 14, 2016

Some Items that Have Come to my Attention Lately

By Msgr. M. Francis Mannion *

1. Pope Francis never fails to surprise—and, in my view, always for the good. Recently, as part of the Year of Mercy, he made a surprise visit to several men who had left the priesthood. 

The Pope went to an apartment on the outskirts of Rome where he met seven men who had left the ministry. They were accompanied by their families.
Priests who have left the priesthood often lose all contact with the Church and feel alienated and disconnected. 

The Pope expressed his “closeness and affection” for the men—five Italians, one Spaniard, and a Latin American.
It is this kind of bold gesture that will make Francis one of the greatest of modern Popes.

2. McDonald’s, perhaps the worst offender when it comes to destroying the family dinner, plans to open a store in a Vatican building within sight of St. Peter’s basilica.
Cardinals who live above the proposed store are aghast at the idea—and, in my opinion, rightly so; the symbolism of having a culturally low-grade institution close to the Vatican is unseemly.

McDonald’s, whose patron saint is the irritating Ronald McDonald, symbolizes all that is the worst about our culture by promoting worldwide junk food, destroying traditional eating habits, and popularizing unhealthy diets. In short, McDonald's is a symbol of American cultural imperialism.

I hope the Cardinals win!

3. Recently, the Canadian bishops of Alberta (Canada) and the Northwest Territories issued a document which said that pastors may refuse funeral rites to people who have chosen euthanasia.

Quebec’s Cardinal Gerald Lacroix (from a different province) objected to the document and said that “The Catholic Church accompanies people on every step of their life. We do that in dialogue with every family that wishes to be accompanied.”

Similarly, Archbishop Christian Lepine of Montreal said that he does not intend to ask his priests to refuse funerals for those who choose medically-assisted euthanasia.
The stances of Cardinal Lacroix and Archbishop Lepine are courageous, and they exemplify the theme of mercy promoted by Pope Francis.

4. Among the seven corporal works of mercy is “visiting the imprisoned.” Given the tight regulation policies of the American prison system, it is difficult to implement this admonition.

The formation of prisoners in the faith is, for many reasons, a great challenge. Now English priest Fr. Eddie McGhee, in cooperation with the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, has produced a catechetical resource specifically designed for prisoners. 

Fr. McGhee said, “In this Year of Mercy, I hope that one of the outcomes of the publication of this resource will be that prisoners will come to understand that God is a loving and forgiving father and that faith communities will extend a welcome to those who are trying to turn their lives around.”

This resource might work well for inmates of American prisons. Priests, deacons, and lay chaplains who would like to obtain a copy of the publication can contact the English episcopal conference at [email protected]

5. I am always fascinated to hear of the vastness of outer space. Here is one description published recently: “The Explorer spacecraft, which we sent out in 1977, only in the mid-2000s will begin moving outside our heliosphere—the realm of the sun—into massive, seemingly infinite space. Where will its end be? Is there a wall? Who built the wall? The spacecraft has been traveling a million miles a day for decades. It is now approaching the outer edge of our heliosphere, and yet it will be forty thousand years before it again approaches another galaxy.”

God is great!

Msgr. Mannion is pastor emeritus of St. Vincent de Paul parish in Salt Lake City. He holds a Ph.D in sacramental theology from The Catholic University of America. He was founding president of The Society for Catholic Liturgy in 1995 and the founding editor of the Societys journal, Antiphon. At the invitation of Cardinal Francis George of Chicago he founded the Mundelein Liturgical Institute in 2000.

* Catholic News Agency columns are opinion and do not necessarily express the perspective of the agency.

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