Thoughts on an invitation to grace
Later this month, on May 19, I’ll ordain new priests for our local Church. This is a special moment of joy for me, since these new brothers will be the first I welcome into the priesthood as Archbishop of Philadelphia. But every new priest is a source of joy and hope for all our people. In the wake of so many difficulties for our Church over the past 15 months, we need to pause and reflect. Every genuine love story is a great love story; and every great love story creates new life. Real love is always fruitful. The love of husbands and wives bears fruit most obviously in the lives of their children, but also in many forms of Christian service … and also in the witness which their love provides to other people.
Some thoughts on ‘Our First, Most Cherished Liberty’
On Thursday, April 12, America’s bishops issued one of their most important statements in years. Our First, Most Cherished Liberty is not just a compelling defense of religious freedom. It’s also a call to action no committed Catholic can afford to ignore. First, a little history and some background: In the vision of America’s Founders, God exists, and his sovereignty matters. God endows each person with freedom and rights so that we can fulfill our duties toward him and each other. Our rights come from God, not from the state. Government is justified only insofar as it secures, promotes and defends those natural rights.
Holy week, Easter and the beginning of new life
The late and much loved Cardinal Augustin Mayer, O.S.B., once wrote that, “Nothing great is ever achieved without suffering.” His words come back to me every year during Holy Week. They remind us that discipleship always has a cost. No Christian ever lives the Gospel without eventually encountering the cross.
The nature of the Church and the importance of lay action
In the next few months, at my request, The Catholic Standard and Times will publish a report on the financial condition of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, including its offices, ministry programs and many of its related agencies and non-profit corporations. Too often we think of the Church as an institution, and institutions are hard to love. The structures of Catholic life are required by canon and civil law, and they’re important. But they’re also secondary. At her heart, the Church is a family, a community of believers. Like any family, her members have mutual obligations of respect and accountability. This has practical consequences. We ask our people to be generous. As a result, they have a right to know that their resources, which the Church holds in trust for them, are used properly.
Where we are as a Church, six months later
Six months ago this week (March 8), I began my service as Archbishop of Philadelphia. One of the reasons I write this weekly column is to speak directly and freely to our clergy and people. Today is a good time to reflect on the work that’s been done so far to resolve the challenges facing the Archdiocese, and the work – a great deal of work – that still remains. As I’ve noted in the past, when I arrived in Philadelphia I began a comprehensive financial and legal review of our archdiocesan operations. That process has been thorough and sobering. It will continue for several more months. But today we do have a far better sense of our limited resources and the scope of our problems.
What’s next for Catholic Schools — The work isn’t over
One of the best moments in the recent life of our Church happened on Friday, February 23, as students at West Catholic, Conwell-Egan, Bonner-Prendie and St. Hubert’s learned that their high schools, originally slated to close, would remain open. I made the judgment to keep these financially challenged high schools open just a few hours […]
Re-orienting our lives to the things that matter
One of the defining moments of Jesus’ public ministry takes place before his work even begins. In the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, God’s Spirit leads Jesus into the desert for fasting and prayer. While there, Satan attacks him with temptations to vanity, worldly power and glory. In effect, Christ’s knowledge of who he really is and the nature of his messiahship are put to the test. Pressed by the devil to turn stones into bread, a hungry and weakened Jesus nonetheless answers: “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God’” (Mt 4:4).
It’s not a ‘compromise,’ and it needs to be rescinded
Creighton Abrams, arguably America’s best general in recent history, was an uncommon man. A biographer said that “he touched those who came to know him in a way they valued and would never forget.” It’s easy to see why. He led by example. He embodied the virtues of courage, honesty, dedication to mission, personal humility and unfailing fidelity to his wife and six children over a marriage of 38 years.
Catholic Charities and the Work of the Gospel
Every year at this time we embark on a critically important campaign for our local Church: the Catholic Charities Appeal. Here’s why it’s so vital — especially now. When we think of the Church, we usually think first of our own parish. That makes sense, because that’s where we live out most of our lives […]
Putting our house in order – on stewardship, accountability and the work that lies ahead
When I wrote to the people of the Archdiocese on December 8 last year, I said that we’d face a great many legal and financial issues in 2012. Last Sunday, January 29, one of those challenges made Philadelphia Inquirer headlines. A senior member of the archdiocesan staff stole more than $900,000 of our people’s resources before being discovered and fired last summer. Our normal outside auditing firm -- independent and nationally respected -- had previously found no evidence of criminal activity. The story is not new. In fact, news media first reported this story last July. But neither the Church nor the District Attorney’s office knew the scope of the loss until last fall. We’ve been silent on this matter until now for obvious reasons: to allow law enforcement to do its work. Circumstances have now changed.