Several have asked what is the Catholic response to the withdrawal from the Paris agreement. Deacon Walter Ayres recently sent the following to the parishes in our Diocese. You may find it helpful. "Catholic leaders have not reacted positively to President Trump’s announcement yesterday that the United States will not honor the Paris climate agreement on climate change. The following information may help you respond to questions about the Church’s position on climate change. Before the decision was announced, Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, director of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences told the Italian daily La Repubblica: “If Donald Trump really decides to pull the U.S. out of the Paris accord it will be a disaster for everyone.” Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace, stressed that, although the Paris agreement is not the only possible mechanism for addressing global carbon mitigation, the lack of a current viable alternative is a serious concern. He said, "The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), along with Pope Francis and the entire Catholic Church, have consistently upheld the Paris agreement as an important international mechanism to promote environmental stewardship and encourage climate change mitigation. The President's decision not to honor the U.S. commitment to the Paris agreement is deeply troubling.”
The Catholic Climate Covenant issued a statement signed by representatives of several Catholic organizations, including Catholic Charities USA, Franciscan Action Network, Conference of Major Superiors of Men, Leadership Conference of Women Religious, and Sisters of Mercy of the Americas. It said, in part: “Catholic teaching insists that climate change is a grave moral issue that threatens our commitments: to protect human life, health, dignity, and security; to exercise a preferential option for the poor; to promote the common good of which the climate is part; to live in solidarity with future generations; to realize peace; and to care for God’s good gift of creation.”
The statement went on to state, “We, the members of Catholic Climate Covenant, believe there is no justification for his decisions and we implore President Trump to reconsider this path. We will continue to raise our voices against climate policies that harm the planet and people while we will advocate for policies that respond to “both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor” (Laudato Si’ no. 49, emphasis in original).”
I read an interesting article and interview with Cardinal Cupich as he reflects on how Pope Francis is "giving new life to Vatican II reforms". Read the interview by clicking on the picture of Pope Francis.
Donna Munafo from UpstateNY Ministry Network recently joined us for our 8:30 am Sunday liturgy. She wrote - "I enjoyed my visit, and I am sharing here the blog I wrote. I hope you enjoy it." Our thanks to Donna for her kind words and for the invitation she extends to many in our region to come pray at historic St. Mary's. (You can click on the image to go to her blog)
The noted Jesuit author Father James Martin, S.J., wrote this and while his words might make us uncomfortable, the question raises challenges each of us needs to consider. Originally a post on Father James Martin's public Facebook page, this reflection on the call to treat migrants and refugees as Christ went viral, and the accompanying video (see link above) has been viewed by over 3 million people and shared over 50,000 times. “I was a stranger and you did not welcome me.” President Trump has announced that he will order the construction of a Mexican border wall, the first in a series of actions to crack down on immigrants, which will include slashing the number of refugees who can resettle in the United States, and blocking Syrians and others from what are called “terror-prone nations” from entering, at least temporarily. These measures, which mean the rejection of the stranger, the rejection of the person in need, the rejection of those who suffer, are manifestly un-Christian and utterly contrary to the Gospel. Indeed, last year, Pope Francis said, "A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian. This is not the Gospel." But maybe you don’t want to listen to Pope Francis. Maybe you think that he was being too political. Or maybe you think Pope Francis is too progressive for you. Maybe you think that you have a right to refuse a person in need. And that you have the right to protect yourself. Well, we do have the right of self-protection. But refusing the one in need because you want to protect yourself, especially when the other is in desperate need and obvious danger, is not what Christianity is about. It’s about the opposite. It’s about helping the stranger, even if it carries some risk. That’s the Parable of the Good Samaritan in a nutshell. But if you still don’t want to listen to Pope Francis, then listen to Pope John Paul II, St. John Paul II, who wrote dozens of times about refugees and migrants. “Seek to help our brother and sister refugees in every possible way by providing a welcome…Show them an open mind and a warm heart,” he said. And as if predicting our current situation, he said, "It is necessary to guard against the rise of new forms of racism or xenophobic behavior, which attempt to make these brothers and sisters of ours scapegoats for what may be difficult local situations.” For this is an issue of life or death. Migrants flee from profound poverty, which causes suffering and can lead to death. Refugees flee from persecution, terror and war, out of fear for their lives. This is, then, one of the church’s life issues, so dear to St. John Paul II. But maybe you don’t want to listen to St. John Paul. Maybe you’re not Catholic. Then listen to the voice of God in the Book of Exodus, speaking to the people of Israel: “You shall not oppress the resident alien [i.e, the refugee] for you were aliens yourselves once, in the land of Egypt.” Every American heart should be stirred by that. Other than the Native Americans, all of us are descendants of immigrants. We were aliens ourselves once. But maybe you don’t want to listen to the Old Testament. Then, in the end, listen to Jesus. In the Gospel of Matthew, he provides a litmus test for entrance into heaven. At the Last Judgment, he will say to people, “I was a stranger and you did not welcome me.” And people will say, “When were you a stranger and we did not take care of you?’ And he will say, “Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” Jesus himself is speaking to you from the Gospels. It is Christ whom we turn away when we build walls. It is Christ whom we reject when we slash quotas for refugees. It is Christ whom we are killing, by letting them die in poverty and war rather than opening our doors. “Today,” St. John Paul II said, “the illegal migrant comes before us like that ‘stranger’ in whom Jesus asks to be recognized. To welcome him and to show him solidarity is a duty of hospitality and fidelity to Christian identity itself.” So, reject these measures and welcome Christ. Call your local legislators and tell them to care for Christ. Write to the White House and ask them to protect Christ. Show up at town hall meetings and advocate for Christ. And pray for our brothers and sisters who are refugees and migrants. Because if you do not, and you reject Christ, then it is their prayers that you will need.
Every day, the Lord invites us to say “Here I am,” and to “talk” with Him. According to Vatican Radio, Pope Francis stressed this to faithful during his daily morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta, as he urged faithful to realize that their relationship with God must be a true one so that when we eventually tell him ‘here I am’ it is for real. Commenting on today’s readings, particularly a Letter to the Hebrews, Francis said when Christ came into the world, Jesus said: ‘Sacrifice and offering you did not desire. In burnt offerings and sin offerings, you took no delight. Behold: here I am, I have come to do your will, Oh God.’ Jesus’ words here, Francis said, “sum up a concatenated history of ‘here I am,'” the history of salvation. After Adam hid out of fear from the Lord, the Pontiff pointed out, God called and heard the answers of many men and women who said to Him: “Here I am. I am willing,” including the positive responses starting with Abraham, Moses, Elijah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and finally those of Mary and Jesus. It’s a real dialogue, the Pontiff explained, not just a series of automatic responses, because “God speaks to those whom He calls”. Always in Dialogue, Very Very Patient “The Lord is always in dialogue with those whom He invites onto this path,” the Pope noted, stressing, “He has a lot of patience, lots of patience.” To illustrate this, the Jesuit Pope referred to the Book of Job which contains a long dialogue between Job, who does not understand, and the Lord who answers his questions and “sets him straight.” “At the end, what does Job say to God?” the Pope asked. Job’s response, he recalled, was: “Ah, Lord, You are right: I knew you only by hearsay but now my eyes have seen you: Here I am!” Christian life, Francis stressed, is a string of “Here I am,” of seeking to continuously do the Lord’s will. Our ‘Here I Am’ Today’s liturgy, Pope Francis said, invites us to reflect on our own way of saying “Here I am” to the Lord. “Am I going to hide like Adam and not respond? Or, when the Lord calls me, instead of saying ‘Here I am’ or ‘what do you want from me?’ Do I run away like Jonah, who did not want to do what the Lord was asking him? Or do I pretend I am doing the Lord’s will, but only superficially, like the doctors of the law that Jesus condemned because they were pretending; or do I look the other way like the Levite and the priest did before the poor injured man who had been beaten by robbers and left to die…” “What kind of answer is my answer to the Lord?” “Often,” the Pope also observed, “people tell me that when they pray they get angry with the Lord… this too is prayer! The Lord likes it when you tell Him to his face what you are feeling because He is the Father,” he reminded. Before giving in to our temptations to hide, be fake, or look away, Pope Francis suggest, let us learn our way of saying “Here I am” to the Lord and of doing His will in our lives.
There are three stages of the priesthood of Christ: He offers Himself; He intercedes for us; He will return to bring us to the Father. According to Vatican Radio, Pope Francis pointed this out to faithful during his daily morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta, as he reflected on the day’s reading from the Letter of Hebrews, which speaks about Christ as the Mediator of the Covenant that God has made with human beings. Speaking on these stages of His priesthood, the Jesuit Pope noted that the first is the redemption. While the priests of the Old Covenant had to offer sacrifices every year, “Christ offered Himself, once for all, for the forgiveness of sins.” With this marvel, “He has brought us to the Father… He has re-created the harmony of creation,” the Pope noted. The second wonder is what the Lord is doing now, namely praying for us. “While we pray here, He is praying for us, “for each one of us,” Francis stressed, and “intercedes.” “How often, in fact, are priests asked to pray,” the Pope reflected, because “we know that the prayer of the priest has a certain force, especially in the sacrifice of the Mass.” Unforgivable Blasphemy The third wonder will be when Christ returns; but this third time will not be in relation to sin, but rather, it will be “to establish the definitive Kingdom,” when He will bring all of us to the Father: While there is this great wonder of the three stages, Francis warned, “there is also the contrary: the ‘unforgivable blasphemy.’” “It’s hard to hear Jesus saying these things, but He says it, and if He says it, it is true. ‘Amen I say to you, all will be forgiven the children of men’ – and we know that the Lord forgives everything if we open our hearts a bit. Everything! The sins and even the blasphemies they speak – even blasphemies will be pardoned! – but the one who will have blasphemed the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven in eternity.” Lord’s forgiveness To explain this, the Pontiff referred to the great priestly anointing of Jesus, which the Holy Spirit accomplished in the womb of Mary. “Even Jesus as the High Priest received this anointing. And what was the first anointing? The flesh of Mary with the work of the Holy Spirit. And he who blasphemes about this, blasphemes about the foundation of the love of God, which is the redemption, the re-creation.” “‘But the Lord does not forgive that wickedness? [you might ask].” “No!” Francis responded, stressing, “The Lord forgives everything!” However, he lamented that the one who says these things is closed to forgiveness. “He doesn’t want to be forgiven! He doesn’t allow himself to be forgiven! This is the ugliness of the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit: It does not allow itself to be forgiven, because it denies the priestly anointing of Jesus, accomplished by the Spirit.” Pope Francis concluded, inviting those present to consider that here on the altar the living memorial is made” and to ask for grace from the Lord that our hearts might never be closed – might never be closed! – to this wonder, to this great, freely-given wonder.”
This is a modest effort at a "blog" my attempt to offer some brief reflections each day that come from various sources that I find interesting - primarily the daily reflections of Pope Francis as found on Zenit and Rome Reports. Fr. John