This Monday Memo is coming to you on Tuesday because of yesterday's observance of July Fourth. I hope your extended holiday weekend was enjoyable and cool.
There are signs that the monsoon is on the horizon, and several times last week I likened the sound and fury of a monsoon thunderstorm to what we are experiencing as a diocese right now.
We are growing to understand that the monsoon and the thunderstorms it produces represent the coming together of a complex number of factors. Well, our situation too is the result of the coming together of a complex number of factors, some of which we have no control over, some of which we do. When a dangerous storm is approaching, you should seek shelter. In its own way, Chapter 11 reorganization represents an option for shelter for our Diocese. We have to be able to survive this "storm" in order to be able to respond to the needs of all the people who have been hurt by abuse and to continue the mission of the Church in our Diocese.
1. Consultation on the Possibility of Chapter 11 Reorganization -- I had an opportunity to meet with 60 of our priests last Tuesday and 175 of our lay leaders, religious and deacons last Wednesday. They joined me in response to my invitation to reflect together on the situation faced by the Diocese.
I left these two meetings feeling esteem for our Catholic community and with confidence that we can together work through these difficult times.
It was very clear that all have a deep concern for those who have been hurt within the household of faith. That concern for victims extends to those who are litigating against the Diocese and those who are not, to those victims whose lives have been drastically affected by the abuse they endured and to those victims who have achieved some measure of healing and peace. The concern also includes those victims who have already come forward and those who have not.
Our priests and lay leaders, deacons and religious were clear that if Chapter 11 were the best and only option for the diocese to provide an orderly way to respond to all victims, it would be the best path. People understood that this is a risky direction for the Diocese to undertake and that it would be an unprecedented action for any diocese.
Nevertheless, I felt their unanimous support in doing what needs to be done to heal hurt and to carry on the mission of the Church.
There were many concerns about what Chapter 11 reorganization means. Would it mean the liquidation of the Diocese and the closing down of our parishes and schools? No. On the contrary, Chapter 11 reorganization is a way our government provides for an organization to continue its work while responding to its creditors.
I experienced in those who participated in these two important meetings a deep and resilient faith. They see the sexual abuse of minors by Church personnel as a sad and tragic chapter in the life of the Church, but they know full well that it is not the only chapter and that the Church, even with more limited resources, will continue to spiritually care for people, continue to educate our young people in the faith, continue to reach out to the poor, the homeless, the immigrant, continue to be a prophet proclaiming the Church's conviction that all life is precious and to be treated with dignity.
There were fears expressed in the meetings by some about the possible implications of Chapter 11 for parishes and schools. I responded by saying I am confident that the work of our parishes and school would continue under reorganization and that the assets of our parishes and schools are not the assets of the Diocese. I said that if this is challenged it will need to be taken all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court for resolution.
I assured them and I assure you that my interest and desire, hope and preference is still to mediate the cases faced by the Diocese if that could be accomplished within the limited resources of the Diocese and in such a way that adequate resources would be available for any further victims who may come forward.
The last person who rose to make a comment at our meeting on Wednesday night spoke very passionately about the need for all of us to be united in prayer at this time.
As a way for us to pray together, I am sending this prayer to all our parishes this week:
"Merciful God, our hope in adversity, our comfort in sorrow, our strength in weakness, guide us, your people. Give us new life and hope. Lead us through this time to become a stronger, wiser Church that proclaims your word with ever greater courage born of ever greater trust in you. Help us to give greater encouragement to our brothers and sisters in their need. We ask this in the name of Jesus, the Lord."
I ask that this prayer be prayed after the Communion prayer and before the final blessing at daily Mass and on Sunday each week during this month and in August. I encourage our parishes to provide the prayer in the pews so that we can pray it together. This prayer will be posted on our diocesan website as well.
I also encourage our parishes to offer this prayer of petition during our Sunday Masses:
"That God will heal all those who have suffered from abuse; that we will be enlightened as to how best to respond to those who have been hurt; and that we will be strengthened in our efforts to continue to carry on the mission that God has entrusted to us."
2. Further Reflection on "Catholics in Political Life" -- I continue to hear from Catholics who have very strong feelings and opinions about how the Church should respond to Catholic politicians who act contrary to Church teaching on respect for life.
I urge you to read and to reflect upon "Catholics in Political Life," the special statement developed by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Task Force on Catholic Bishops and Catholic Politicians, of which I was a member. The full body of Bishops approved the statement at our meeting last month in Denver.
The statement is available www.usccb.org. Accompanying the statement is "Interim Reflections of the Task Force," which illuminates the consultation process and theological considerations of the Task Force.
The statement makes clear that the obligation of Bishops at this time (meaning the election campaign and the issues that have arisen in respect to Catholic politicians) is to teach clearly the sacredness of human life. One of the ways in which I want to fulfill that obligation is to communicate to the Catholic people of the Diocese that "the defense of human life and dignity is not a narrow cause, but a way of life and a framework of action."
That quotation is from "Faithful Citizenship," the document developed by the U.S. Bishops that communicates the Church's teaching that "every Catholic is called to active and faith-filled citizenship, based upon a properly informed conscience, so that each disciple of Christ publicly witnesses to the Church's commitment to human life and dignity with special preference for the poor and the vulnerable." (From the introduction to "Faithful Citizenship.")
I soon will be sending to all our parishes a series of bulletin announcements, based upon the clear message of "Faithful Citizenship" that decisions about candidates and choices about public policies require clear commitment to moral principles, careful discernment and prudential judgments based on the values of our faith.
The announcement also urges our people to read and to reflect upon "Faithful Citizenship" and to "Vote your Catholic conscience."
In my continuing reflection on the issues that surround "Catholics in Political Life," I appreciated an interview that appeared in Zenit with Cardinal Avery Dulles, a distinguished theologian and highly regarded scholar. Zenit is a non-profit international new agency that reports on the Catholic Church.
Cardinal Dulles' main point of emphasis in this interview was what he called the Church's "prime responsibility" to teach and to persuade in such a way that citizens will have a well-formed conscience and will apply that conscience when they vote. He discussed abortion as an issue of serious moral gravity that while different than the other life issues is yet linked to them. His identified three risks in using the Eucharist as a sanction.
Cardinal Dulles' careful and clear comments may be helpful as we all continue to reflect on these important issues. The interview can be accessed at www/zenit.org, Daily Dispatches, June 29, 2004.
3. "Faithful Citizenship" Workshops -- I am very pleased that our Diocese will be sponsoring two workshops for our parishes on the Catholic teachings that call for "active and faith-filled citizenship." I urge the active participation of our clergy, religious and laity in these workshops.
Most Holy Trinity Parish in Tucson will host the workshops, which are scheduled for Sept. 9 from 7 - 9:30 p.m. and Sept. 10 from 8:30 a.m. to noon. Joan Rosenhauer, special projects coordinator from the USCCB, will present the workshops. There is no charge for the workshops, which will be an excellent opportunity to learn about Catholic teaching on participation in the political process. The workshops also will include ideas on how to share and promote "Faithful Citizenship" in our parishes during the coming months.
Registration information will be sent soon to parishes. In the meantime, please contact Joanne Welter in our Catholic Social Mission Office at 792-3410 (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information.
4. Concern over Ballot Initiative -- As this political season nears election day, many issues that are linked to the protection of human life and dignity will continue to arise.
One particularly alarming development has been the proposed ballot initiative in Arizona that would require voters and applicants for public services to show proof of citizenship. The true intent of this initiative is to prevent those migrating into our state from Mexico from receiving public services such as education and health care. The initiative also falsely claims that immigrants are voting illegally in Arizona in large numbers.
As reported by the local news media, there was immediate and vociferous opposition to the initiative. You can be assured that the Arizona Catholic Conference, representing the Bishops of the Dioceses of Tucson, Gallup and Phoenix, will be addressing this unjust and unnecessary initiative.
5. Call Your Senator -- Later this month the U.S. Senate will vote on the Federal Marriage Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. This action is being taken in response to the 4-3 decision of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court to allow same-sex marriages. There is every likelihood that this decision in Massachusetts will be adopted in other states, which makes a Federal Amendment critical.
I encourage you to call Senator John McCain and Senator John Kyle to elicit their support. It is easier to call their offices here in Tucson. You can find their phone numbers, e-mail addresses and mailing addresses on the Knights of Columbus website, www.kofc.org/news/legislative/index.cfm.
Last week, I called Senators McCain and Kyle to ask their support for the Federal Marriage Amendment. I also wrote to Senator McCain, who has yet to express his support, providing him with some of the reasons I believe he should support the proposed amendment.
As Catholics, we believe that "Marriage, as instituted by God, is a faithful, exclusive, lifelong union of a man and a woman joined in an intimate community of life and love."
Our support for an amendment is action we take to demonstrate that belief. It should not be an action that stems from any hatred or prejudice against those who identify themselves as homosexual.
Church teaching about marriage and same-sex unions is available at www.usccb.org/laity/manandwoman.htm.
6. "Cathedral Square" -- I thank Deacon Keating Ackerly and members of Cursillo and the Knights of Columbus for cleaning out the basement of the old Marist College behind St. Augustine Cathedral. We are ready to begin work to make the Marist College suitable for the housing of our diocesan Archives.
As that work begins, we continue to look at the renewal of "Cathedral Square," the one-square block area that contains St. Augustine Cathedral, Cathedral Hall, Immaculate Mary Chapel, the Marist College and all the grounds and parking lots. St. Augustine Cathedral Parish has done a wonderful job in rehabilitating the old Chancery Office, which is now home to the Cathedral's offices.
We are seeking donors who have specific interest in giving restricted gifts for the renewal of "Cathedral Square." There is much to be done, but the Cathedral remains central to Tucson, to our Diocese and to our faith, and I hope the future will mean an even more beautiful space for prayer and spiritual renewal in the midst of downtown Tucson. The mission-style architecture of the Cathedral reminds us that we are a mission diocese and that despite our limited means we continue in the spirit of Padre Kino to make the faith come alive in our community.
7. New Rector for the Cathedral -- I take this occasion to welcome Father Pat Crino as rector of St. Augustine Cathedral. Father Pat brings to this position a great deal of enthusiasm and energy and desire to serve. He also has considerable knowledge of our Diocese, both as a pastor and as a former Director of Vocations.
I will be installing Father Pat as rector on Sunday, Aug. 29, during the 10 a.m. Mass.
I express my thanks to Father Francisco Maldonado, who served for six years as rector of the Cathedral. I know he will be of great assistance to Father Joe Lombardo in his new assignment at Our Lady of the Valley Parish in Green Valley.
I wish all the new pastors beginning their assignments this week my prayers and support. The role of pastor remains a powerful responsibility in a parish community. Pastors create the environment and set the tone for a parish, and I pray these new pastors will create welcoming environments and Spirit-filled liturgical experiences for their people.
8. Moderator of Curia -- Father Al Schifano has begun his responsibilities as Moderator of the Curia. In this position, Father Al will represent me in the day-to-day administrative operations of the Diocese at the Pastoral Center. He is delegated by me to act in my name with regard to the work of the Pastoral Center.
Also this past week, Father Raul Trevizo and Father Van Wagner began the new responsibilities of their position as vicars general. They are responsible in my absence for assisting and guiding the ministries of our parishes and schools.
9. Living Stones -- I enjoyed the opportunity the weekend before last to commission the Living Stones lay ministry candidates in Cochise County. They have worked hard over these past three years and now look forward to using their new knowledge and skills to build up the Church.
I am grateful to Margaret Lordon of our Formation Office for guiding the process of the Living Stones program. I also thank Father Henri Capdeville, O.S.B., and community of Holy Trinity Monastery for hosting this program, and I am sure the community shares in the joy of these lay ministers as they begin their work.
10. Vocation Retreat -- Also at St. David Monastery the weekend before last, seven possible candidates for priesthood and two possible candidates for religious life participated in a special vocation discernment retreat. I am grateful to our seminarians and our religious women who organized the retreat. We continue to pray for vocations to serve the Church in our Diocese. All of us have the responsibility to invite, encourage and support vocations.
11. Father Miguel Hits the Books -- I am grateful to Cardinal Francis George and the Archdiocese of Chicago for providing a scholarship to Father Miguel Mariano, our Vocations Director, to study at the Liturgical Institute toward a degree in liturgy.
At the present time there is no Liturgy Office in the Diocese. Liturgy is the structure for our celebration of the Eucharist, the source and summit of our life in Christ. My hope is that Father Miguel's preparation will be the foundation for establishing a Liturgy Office.
Father Miguel will be working for the degree over five summers. Getting back to studies after 10 years away from the academic world of seminary must be a challenge, but I am sure Father Miguel is even more empathetic with the academic challenges our seminarians face.
12. Summer Break for Monday Memo -- The memo is now officially on summer break, to return Aug. 9.
I appreciate the continued positive response to the Monday Memo. It is very important to me to have this channel of communication to our parish and school staff and to our parishioners. I am always open to your ideas and suggestions for issues and matters to address.
I am going to be out of the Diocese for the next three weeks: out, but not out of touch. I am taking some time for rest and reflection. There is a lot to reflect about, to pray about.
Taking time away to be renewed is not easy for many of us. The pressures and cares and concerns that go along with the responsibilities of ministry always seem to amount to a thousand good reasons not to take time off. But putting yourself in a place where you can rest the body and rest the spirit so that you can be open to the Lord and be renewed to answer His call is the best good reason to get away.
I will be taking with me all the input from the consultations of the past few weeks about the critically important decisions that need to be made for the future of our Diocese. Please pray for me.