Saturday, August 07, 2010

St. Maximilian Kolbe - On Marital Love

...The Son of God selects spouses from among souls; he unites himself with them in a conjugal love, and through him they become the mothers of many, many other souls...
From Day One Total Consecration A Nine-day Preparation which by the way, you can begin today.

Friday, August 06, 2010

First Friday - Sacred Heart of Jesus

From the writings of St. Mary Margaret Alacoque:

"What a weakness it is to love Jesus Christ only when He caresses us, and to be cold immediately once He afflicts us. This is not true love. Those who love thus, love themselves too much to love God with all their heart."

"Let every knee bend before Thee, O greatness of my God, so supremely humbled in the Sacred Host. May every heart love Thee, every spirit adore Thee and every will be subject to Thee!"

"One cannot love without suffering. He [Jesus] showed us this very clearly upon the cross, where He was consumed for love of us. And it is still the same every day in the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar... Since love makes lovers one in likeness, if we love, let us model our lives on His."

"Love keeps Him there [in the Blessed Sacrament] as a victim completely and perpetually delivered over to sacrifice for the glory of the Father and for our salvation. Unite yourself with Him, then, in all that you do. Refer everything to His glory. Set up your abode in this loving Heart of Jesus and you will there find lasting peace and the strength both to bring to fruition all the good desires He inspires in you, and to avoid every deliberate fault. Place in this Heart all your sufferings and difficulties. Everything that comes from the Sacred Heart is sweet. He changes everything into love."

"In order to be like You, who are always alone in the Blessed Sacrament, I shall love solitude and try to converse with You as much as possible. Grant that my mind may not seek to know anything but You, that my heart may have no longings or desires but to love You. When I am obliged to take some comfort, I shall take care to see that it be pleasing to Your Heart. In my conversations, O divine Word, I shall consecrate all my words to You so that You will not permit me to pronounce a single one which is not for Your glory.... When I am thirsty, I shall endure it in honor of the thirst You endured for the salvation of souls.... If by chance, I commit some fault, I shall humble myself, and then take the opposite virtue from Your Heart, offering it to the eternal Father in expiation for my failure. All this I intend to do, O Eucharistic Jesus, to unite myself to You in every action of the day."

Source for the quotes and more information on devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus can be found here.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

The snows of Saint Mary Major

The Unemployed and the Homeless

Prayer by John Henry Cardinal Newman - Radiating Christ

Picture Source

From Sue Cifelli:

Radiating Christ

A prayer originally composed by John Henry Cardinal Newman, chosen by Blessed Teresa of Calcutta to be recited by the Missionaries of Charity every morning after Holy Mass:


Help me to spread Your fragrance everywhere I go.
Flood my soul with Your spirit and life.
Penetrate and possess my whole being so utterly that all my life may only be a radiance of Yours.
Shine through me and be so in me that every soul I come in contact with may feel Your presence in my soul.

Let them look up and see no longer me but only Jesus!

Stay with me and then I shall begin to shine as You shine, so to shine as to be a light to others;

the light, O JESUS, will be all from You;

none of it will be mine: it will be You shining on others through me. Let me thus praise You in the way You love best: by shining on those around me.

Let me preach You without preaching, not by words, but by my example, by the catching force, the sympathetic influence of what I do, the evident fullness of the love my heart bears for You.


Von Hildebrand and West: A Theological Debate Heats Up

The following is a comprehensive history since that fateful West interview. It is being posted with permission by Dr. Moynihan.

Letter #33, 2010 -- Alice and Christopher Dr. Robert Moynihan Editor of Inside the Vatican.
Tue, Aug 3, 2010 at 6:03 PM

What is the right relationship between sex and sanctity? That's what many Catholics in the US are asking as a simmering theological debate over the "Theology of the Body" threatens to boil over and further test the unity of the Church in the US. The debate touches on issues ranging from the doctrine of original sin to the legacy of Pope John Paul II. And the hierarchy itself seems divided...

By Robert Moynihan

"It had never been their intention to set up a separate Church... To be a leaven within the lump, to be an enclave of holiness within the corrupt body of Christendom, was the aim... But the logic of facts was against them. The enthusiast always begins by trying to form a church within the Church, always ends by finding himself committed to sectarian opposition." —Monsignor Ronald Knox, Enthusiasm

Love and Lust, Sin and Holiness

Note: The subject matter of the letter below is human sexuality, a matter which traditional Catholic teaching advises should always be treated with great discretion.

And, in essence, that is the tragedy, and the problem, with this growing debate -- that matters which should be dealt with in privacy, and with discretion, are being dealt with in public, and without great discretion.

So I hesitated before embarking on this letter. But in the end, I felt it important to write it and send it because the controversy does touch on all the issues and questions concerning sexuality in our lives -- from love and courtship and marriage, to sexual relations and sexual pleasure, to contraception and homosexuality.

Such matters are relevant to all of us who are born into this world -- who have physical bodies -- and, since our Western culture, increasingly, is offering (often imposing?) views on these matters not in keeping with traditional Christian faith and doctrine, these delicate matters are, in fact, particularly relevant today.

But I still prefer to write little myself on this matter. Rather, I prefer to cite what others are saying, in order to give readers an insight into this important controversy.

I particularly draw attention to the text by Alice von Hildebrand, at the end, which is an eloquent presentation of traditional Catholic teaching. Her text, as well, may be criticized, but it is written in a careful, respectful way and with a remarkable focus on the true end of human life, which is, in fact, not pleasure in this life and in this world, but eternal life in the world to come, and a joy which passes all understanding, but is not for that reason less real than any earthly joy.

Sex and Sanctity

An unusual and intense debate over Catholic teaching on human sexuality and how sexuality relates to sanctity is continuing to unfold in the United States.

The debate is complicated, and nuanced, and this newsflash cannot hope to deal with all the complications and nuances.

But, it is important, I think, that Catholics, and others, be aware that this debate is occurring.

The Man in the Crossfire

The man in the crossfire at the moment is Christopher West a Catholic layman who has made a career out of preaching his version of John Paul II's "Theology of the Body."

Here is a brief summary of his life's work.

West has a Masters in Theological Studies, Magna Cum Laude (1997) from the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage & Family; Washington, D.C. He is a Certified Catechist of the Archdiocese of Denver Catechetical School (1997) and a Certified Instructor of Marriage Preparation in the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. (1996). He received his Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology (1992) from the University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland.

He is a faculty member of The Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Marriage & Family, Melbourne, Australia and of the Saint John Vianney Theological Seminary, Denver, Colorado, where he has been an Instructor in the theology of the body for the Seminary Spirituality Year Program from 2000 to the present, and a Fellow of the Theology of the Body Institute (2005-present) in Denver.

West writes on his web site: "The Theology of the Body Institute is a non-profit educational apostolate with the mission of spreading an understanding of the theology of the body throughout the world. As a fellow of the Institute, I serve as a chief researcher, writer, educator, lecturer, consultant, and spokesman for the organization."

Since 1997, West has given approximately 1,000 public lectures on four continents and in more than 150 cities throughout the United States. These include keynote addresses and full-length seminars and retreats on topics such as Christian anthropology (especially John Paul II’s theology of the body), the Creed, morality, sacraments, marriage, sexuality, and family life.

From 1997 to 2001, he served as a full-time advisor to and educator for Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Denver on issues related to Church teaching on marriage, human sexuality, and family life.

His books include: Theology of the Body for Beginners: A Basic Introduction to Pope John Paul II’s Sexual Revolution (West Chester, PA: Ascension Press, 2004); Theology of the Body Explained: A Commentary on John Paul II’s “Gospel of the Body” (Boston, MA: Pauline Books & Media, 2003);
The Wisdom of John Paul II (London: Catholic Truth Society, Publishers to the Holy See, 2001); and Chapter 6 on the Holy Father’s theology of the body, Good News About Sex & Marriage: Answers to Your Honest Questions About Catholic Teaching (Ann Arbor, MI: Servant Publications, 2000).

Support from Leading Catholics

Here’s what prominent Catholic voices have to say about Christopher’s work:

"Christopher West is 'a prophet of the sexual counter-revolution.'" —The National Catholic Register

"Christopher West’s keen grasp of John Paul II’s theology of the body and his ability to make it accessible to others is changing lives, strengthening marriages, and renewing people’s faith in the Church across the country and internationally. He is on the front lines of the new evangelization and his message should be heard by all." —Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. Archbishop of Denver

"I am familiar with the excellent work Christopher West has done and continues to do promoting Catholic teaching on life and love, especially as given to us by Pope John Paul II in his 'theology of the body.' I am grateful to count him among the faithful of the Diocese of Harrisburg and to encourage one and all to listen with an open heart to the message of hope he brings." —Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, Diocese of Harrisburg, PA

"The vibrancy of Christopher West, his infectious enthusiasm and penetrating understanding of the thought of Pope John Paul II is well-known to those who have heard his lectures and tapes. The public needs to hear what the Holy Father thinks on issues of sexuality, marriage, and celibacy and West has generously committed his considerable talents to making this a possibility." —Dr. Janet Smith, Professor of Life Issues, Sacred Heart Major Seminary, Detroit

"With intellectual care, with the experience bred of long years of teaching this material in the classroom and the parish, and taking account of his own experiences as a husband and father, Christopher West has put us in his debt by making the ‘theology of the body’ available to a wide -- and, I hope, appreciative -- readership." —George Weigel, Senior Fellow, Ethics & Public Policy Center

So West is a highly regarded, prominent, world-famous Catholic lay theologian on the subject of Pope John Paul II's "theology of the body."

What has sparked the controversy over his teaching?

The May 7, 2009, Television Report which Sparked the Controversy

In recent years, West has increasingly treated sexual pleasure in an ever more graphic and positive way.

Traditional Catholic teaching holds there is an element in sensual pleasure which can easily lead to selfishness, to immoderate desire for that pleasure, which then draws us, sometimes unwittingly, away from the true end of our lives, which is the love of God and neighbor above all else.

This has traditionally been called "concupiscense," or "lust," not love, and it is not compatible with true love, no matter how much we may wish it to be.

West has for some time raised eyebrows as he has seemed -- seemed -- to downplay this traditional teaching.

But the entire matter might have remained, more or less, a relatively minor one, had West not given an interview to a national television network, ABC News, which was then aired to millions.

And in that interview, West paired Pope John Paul II  with Hugh Hefner , the founder of Playboy magazine, as two of the key inspirations for his work.

Pope Hefner?

In short, West went so far as to seem to "baptize" the father, or godfather, of modern pornography.

Here is a link to the interview where West makes such statements:


This ABC interview led first to some sparring between West's critics and supporters. It then sparked the decision of Alice von Hildebrand to write a long essay, just released, critiquing West's theology (complete text below).

Schindler's Critique

First to criticize West was his former professor at the John Paul II Institute in Washington DC, David Schindler, editor of Communio magazine -- the theological journal founded by Joseph Ratzinger and other 40 years ago shortly after the Second Vatican Council.

On May 23, 2009 -- more than a year ago -- under the headline "Christopher West ‘significantly’ misrepresents JP II’s thought, leading theologian says," Schindler said, essentially, that West had gone far beyond anything John Paul II actually said and taught.

Here are excerpts from a Catholic News Agency story on the matter. (Catholic News Agency is based in Denver, Colorado, in the same archdiocese where West has worked under Archbishop Charles Chaput.)

Washington D.C., May 23, 2009 / 07:21 am (CNA) — Continuing the reaction to Catholic speaker Christopher West’s ABC interview on the Theology of the Body, prominent theologian David L. Schindler has said that, despite West’s fidelity to the Church and his positive results for many Catholics, his approach significantly misrepresents Pope John Paul II’s thought and is “too much about sex and too romantic.”

Schindler recommended West subject his theology to “renewed reflection.”

On May 7, ABC News presented a story and a seven-minute interview segment with Christopher West on his interpretation of Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. ABC claimed West declared both John Paul II and Hugh Hefner to be his “two big heroes.” It also showed him saying that Christians “must complete what the sexual revolution began” and must bring God and sex “back together.”
In response to the story, West said that ABC tried to make his points understandable but “'sensationalized’ misrepresentations and distortions of his views and presentations.”

Schindler, who is also an editor of the international Catholic review “Communio,” emphasized that he agreed West intends to be a faithful Catholic. In fact, Schindler said he believes the speaker “would throw himself in front of a bus for the Church.”

Though remarking that West has had “positive results” in drawing many Catholics, Schindler said good will is not synonymous with sound thought.

“West’s work seems to me to misrepresent in significant ways the thought of John Paul II,” he wrote.

Schindler cited several instances where he said West was not only “vulgar and in bad taste” but also suggestive of “a disordered approach to human sexuality.”

He claimed that West has suggested spouses bless their genitals before making love, has blessed the ovaries of women in his classes, and has advised young men in college and the seminary to look at their naked bodies in the mirror daily “in order to overcome shame.”

(Note: This suggestion of West's strangely echoes the poem by American poet William Carlos Williams in his poem Danse Russe:

If I, when my wife is sleeping,
and the baby and Kathleen
are sleeping
and the sun is a flame-white disc
in silken mists
above shining trees, --
if I in my north room
dance naked, grotesquely
before my mirror
waving my shirt round my head
and singing softly to myself:
'I am lonely, lonely.
I was born to be lonely,
I am best so!"
If I admire my arms, my face,
my shoulders, flanks, buttocks,
against the yellow drawn shades, --
Who shall say I am not
the happy genius of my household?

West would have seminarians dance in such a way, it would appear. But can we imagine the apostles and saints so dancing?)

Schindler also claimed that West has used “phallic symbolism” to describe the Easter candle, has criticized “flat-chested” images of Mary in art, and has claimed there is nothing wrong with an unnatural act as marital foreplay.

An “objective distortion” in approaching sexuality is not eliminated simply because of theological overtones, Schindler wrote.

He said West misconstrues the meaning of concupiscence and stresses “purity of intention” in a one-sided way when talking about lust.

Schindler charged that West presents love in a “reductive bodily-sexual sense” and treats the Christian mysteries as “more perfect realizations” of sex.

“But sex is not even the most important part of human love, let alone the key to the Christian mysteries–the Eucharist, for example,” he wrote, adding that West misses the “radical discontinuity” between divine love revealed by God and sexual love or intercourse.

Schindler charged that West promotes a “pansexualist tendency” that ties all important human and supernatural activity back to sex without making necessary distinctions.

“If we could just get over our prudishness and sin-induced guilt, he seems to think, we would be ready simply to dispense with clothes and look at others in their nakedness,” Schindler said.

He added that West treats shame and reverence with “a too-male vision” that is “distorted.” This misses the differences between men and women’s different experiences of modesty and shame, he explained.

The theologian also remarked that styles of preaching are not simply differences in personality or taste but have theological consequences. He argued that West tends to treat resistance to his lectures as if it was resistance to the Holy Spirit and urges questioners to overcome the “fear” generated by their poor formation.

“Well-balanced persons have spoken of how West makes them feel a sense of guilt, of resistance to the Holy Spirit, if they experience uneasiness about what he is saying,” he continued.

Schindler then charged that West’s interpretation of the Theology of the Body is “too much about sex and too romantic,” warning that his “unquestionably orthodox intensions” make his theology appear more credible than it is.

“His work often deflects people from the beauty and depth of what is the authentic meaning of John Paul II's anthropology of love, and thus of what was wrought in and through the Second Vatican Council.”

“West has worked tirelessly on behalf of the Church,” Schindler’s essay concluded. “However, if his work is to bear the Catholic fruit he so ardently desires, he needs to subject basic aspects of his theology to renewed reflection.”

To read Schindler's full critique of West's theology visit

West's Self-Defense

West defended himself by publishing this text on his website:

Christopher West on ABC's Nightline

Christopher West and the Theology of the Body Institute are pleased that a wider audience has been exposed to their work through the segment which aired Thursday, May 7, 2009 on ABC News Nightline.

It is our hope that it will encourage people to take a deeper look at the Church’s teachings on the sacredness of human sexuality as God intends it. In an effort to correct any editorial comments which may appear misleading, the following few points will help clarify the actual teaching of The Theology of the Body:

Regarding the connection between John Paul II and Hugh Hefner, Christopher often points out the interesting historical “coincidence” of the work of these two profoundly influential men. In the early 1950s, as Hefner was founding Playboy magazine, Karol Wojtyla began to lecture and write about the need for Christians to experience a redemption of their bodies and sexuality.

In their respective work, both Hefner and John Paul II responded to a puritanical/Manichean approach to sexuality, but they offered completely different solutions to the problem. This is the historical "connection" of which Christopher spoke in the Nightline interview. ABC latched onto this point, but they failed to provide the larger context Christopher offered in his extended interview with Nightline’s correspondent. This lack of proper context has led some to misinterpret Christopher’s remarks as somehow endorsing Hefner’s views.

The point Christopher made—but which wasn’t included in the Nightline piece—was that, as Catholics, we agree with Hugh Hefner’s diagnosis of the disease (i.e., a puritanical rejection of the body and sexuality is utterly contrary to Catholic faith), but we radically disagree with his cure.

Christopher told the Nightline correspondent that the Theology of the Body is the true cure for the disease that Hefner diagnosed. These distinctions were lost in the seven-minute piece that ABC aired.

Indeed, Nightline made it sound as if West considered Hefner a "hero" of his, which he certainly never said. West has dedicated his life to fighting the terrible distortions of pornography. West's "love" for Hugh Hefner is a Christian love—a hope that Hefner would come to discover the riches of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the profound insights of the Theology of the Body. To see the full context of what Christopher said visit.

Christopher West is not a sex therapist. He is a Catholic educator, author, lecturer, and faculty member of the Theology of the Body Institute. The TOB Institute is an educational organization and does not engage in sex therapy.

John Paul II's Theology of the Body is intended for every human being, regardless of his or her state in life and regardless of what sexual tendencies one might experience in this fallen world. The TOB povides not only a vision of God's glorious plan for human sexuality and married love, but a vision of what it means to be human and what it means to love in the image and likeness of God.

From beginning to end, Sacred Scripture unfolds a glorious love story, a story about the "marriage" between God and humanity, Christ and the Church.

By inviting men and women to particpate in this love, Scripture shows us the "path of love" -- including the path for spouses in their sexual intimacy. However, in a cultural climate fixated on the mechanics of sex rather than on authentic marital love, to describe the Bible as the "ultimate sex guide" can be misleading. It is certainly a guide to love, and, indeed, to the "ultimate" love: the love revealed in Christ.

The Song of Songs presents an unabashed biblical celebration of the chaste love of a husband and wife, including multiple references to the intimacies of "tasting" the goodness of the other. To construe this as an endorsement for "oral sex" (as the culture uses that term) can be more than misleading. Please see Christopher West's book Good News About Sex and Marriage (chapter 5) for the full context of his answer to this question...

...But In Rome, A Theologian Still Sees Problems

Nevertheless, the debate still seemed unfinished, especially considering that an important Roman theologian was arguing that there were srious problems with West's teachings.

Here are excerpts from an interview with Fr. Maurizio Faggioni, OFM, published on July 3, 2009.

Rome, Italy, Jul 3, 2009 / 02:33 pm (CNA) — Fr. Maurizio Faggioni, OFM, a professor at the top pontifical institute for moral theology, the Pontifical Academy “Alphonsianum,” said in a recent interview with Catholic News Agency that the teachings of the Church suggest “far more prudence” in approaching some of the issues raised by Christopher West in his presentation of the Theology of the Body.

Faggioni, a Franciscan who teaches at the Alphonsianum, an academy named upon the father of modern Moral theology, St. Alphonsus of Liguori, is one of the most consulted moral theologians and is an advisor to several Vatican dicasteries.

In a conversation with CNA, Fr. Faggioni explained that some of the issues discussed publicly by West, such as the appropriateness of anal sex or other forms of sexual “foreplay” in married relationships, have to be dealt with using great care, since “the risk is of displacing the attention from marital love and the anthropologic meaning of lovely gestures to merely the genital aspects.”

“Sexuality,” Fr. Faggioni said, launching into his analysis of West's presentation of the Theology of the Body, “is the language of love and this language is authentic only when it is respectful of the meaning of human love.”

According to the moral theologian, “the traditional moral theology certainly does not prohibit intimacy among spouses, but it never regards them as a substitute for the marital embrace and accepts intimacy only as a path toward a complete sexual union.”

Moreover, Fr. Faggioni said that “it is simply not true that the traditional Catholic moral supports the use of acts that Thomas Aquinas call contra naturam — against nature — (such as anal sex) as something ordinary.”

“Catholic moral theology calls us to be very discrete in discussing these issues, and encourages being particularly respectful to the sensibilities of persons and couples,” the Italian Franciscan explained.

“Regarding this type of intercourse or others, no one can pretend to accept from another person something that offends that person’s sensibility on sexual issues or that does not respect the structure and natural complementarity of the bodies of man and woman.”

The moral theologian warned that “today’s youth, in a special manner, have to be protected from unnecessary exposure to sexual-genital issues that can lead to a morbid curiosity.”

“This is not prudishness, but the wisdom of the Church that has time and again demonstrated the importance of discretion and prudence when it comes to sexual issues,” he added.

“When we make these types of assertions in an indiscriminate manner, we are actually getting into the beds of married couples, and that is something the moral teaching of the Church does not encourage at all.”

Regarding the practice of blessing the genitals before a sexual relationship, Fr. Faggioni expressed “real perplexity.” “Without doubt, all the body in each one of its parts is God’s creation and deserves honor. We precisely respect our private parts by surrounding them with greater respect and modesty.”

“In itself,” he continued, “nothing forbids thanking God for the sexual body of oneself or the spouse, but from the perspective of Christian anthropology, it is not right to emphasize the genitals as if our sexuality could be reduced to them.

“Love is made with all the body, with the entire person’s humanity, not only with the genitals.”

Fr. Faggioni also explained that Pope John Paul never intended to specifically address the sexual Puritanism of the United States. “Pope John Paul wanted to distance himself equally from the moral relativism that trivializes sex, as much as from the Puritanism that considers sex as taboo,” he explained.

The late Pope, the moral theologian also said “exalted the beauty of the body and sexuality, but also taught that the body cannot be used as an instrument, as if it would not be the bearer of a meaning and values that man and woman are called to embrace and live with gratefulness and fidelity,” he said on ending.

You can read this entire piece here.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Cardinal Newman Society Experts on Ex corde Ecclesiae

Patrick J. Reilly
President & Founder, The Cardinal Newman Society
In addition to founding and leading The Cardinal Newman Society for 17 years, Reilly has much experience with education issues. He has served as Executive Director of Citizens for Educational Freedom, higher education analyst for the U.S. House of Representatives education committee, and Program Analyst for the Postsecondary Division of the U.S. Department of Education.

Reilly was an editor and research fellow at the Capital Research Center, a Washington, D.C. think tank that promotes responsible philanthropy and monitors nonprofit activity. He is a contributor to Mandate for Charity: Policy Proposals for the Bush Administration (Capital Research Center, 2001). From 1993 to 1995, he was a media consultant for the National Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Reilly has written numerous articles on Catholic higher education and other education and Catholic issues for Catholic World Report, ZENIT, Legatus, Chronicle of Higher Education, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, Los Angeles Times and other publications, and he has appeared on FOX News, MSNBC, EWTN and numerous radio programs. He is co-editor of Newman’s Idea of a University: The American Response (Newman House Press, 2002) and The Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College (Cardinal Newman Society, 2009).

David B. House, Ph.D.
Executive Director, The Center for the Advancement of Catholic Higher Education

Dr. House has more than 30 years experience in higher education, including 12 years as President of St. Joseph’s College in Maine, where he was responsible for institutional growth and for strengthening the college’s Catholic identity. He previously served as Vice President for Academic Affairs at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Kentucky; Associate Dean and Director of the Division of Arts and Sciences at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland; and Director of the Master of Liberal Arts Program at the University of Southern California.

Dr. House’s career move to Catholic higher education was directly inspired by Pope John Paul II’s apostolic constitution, Ex corde Ecclesiae.

Dr. House is the author of the book Continuing Education, as well as numerous articles, op-ed pieces, and papers on liberal education, Catholic higher education, and institutional change. He has appeared on EWTN and several Catholic radio stations.

Media Contact: Adam Wilson, Communications Manager
The Cardinal Newman Society
9415 West Street
Manassas, Virginia 20110
703-367-0333 ext. 102
703-595-5574 (cell)
Ex corde Ecclesiae and the Renewal of Catholic Higher Education

1967: Land O’Lakes Statement
In the “Land O’Lakes Statement,” presidents of leading Catholic colleges and universities declare independence from all authority outside of the institution itself, including the Catholic Church.

1990: Ex corde Ecclesiae
Pope John Paul II issues Ex corde Ecclesiae (From the Heart of the Church), an “apostolic constitution” which defines Catholic higher education and establishes guidelines for Catholic colleges and universities. The constitution reaffirms the authority of each local bishop over matters of Catholic identity and doctrine, and it requires that all official actions and commitments of a college or university must be in accord with the institution’s Catholic identity.

1993: Cardinal Newman Society Founded
The Cardinal Newman Society (CNS) is founded by alumni of Catholic colleges and universities to facilitate the implementation of Ex corde Ecclesiae and help renew and strengthen Catholic identity in Catholic higher education.

1995: Accreditor Backs Off Abortion Training
CNS and several other Christian and pro-life organizations fight proposed rules forcing graduate obstetrics-gynecology programs at Catholic and other medical schools to teach abortion and sterilization. CNS founder Patrick Reilly works with the U.S. House of Representatives education committee to organize hearings on the Accreditation Council of Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) guidelines. ACGME backs away from the guidelines, following Congressional hearings and opposition.

1996: CNS Assists U.S. Bishops with Guidelines
The U.S. bishops approve guidelines for Catholic colleges to implement Ex corde Ecclesiae, but without strong directives. The Vatican shares CNS concerns about the non-juridical approach and rejects the guidelines. CNS is invited to advise the bishops on the development of a new document.

1999: U.S. Bishops Application of Ex corde Ecclesiae
The U.S. bishops approve new guidelines—later accepted by the Vatican—that are much stronger and consistent with CNS proposals, including requirements that college presidents and a majority of faculty must be Catholic, theologians must receive a mandatum from the local bishop, and colleges must recognize the authority of the bishops over Catholic teaching and the colleges’ Catholic identity.

1999: Commencement Scandals Protested
Protests by the CNS Campus Speaker Monitoring Project and Philadelphia-area pro-life groups cause New York Times columnist Anna Quindlen to withdraw as Villanova University’s commencement speaker. Protests also encourage Bishop Daniel Reilly of Worcester, Mass., to boycott the commencement ceremony at Assumption College in Worcester, featuring pro-abortion Lt. Gov. Jane Swift of Massachusetts.
2000: U.S. Guidelines for Mandatum

The U.S. bishops approve guidelines for the mandatum, a requirement of Canon Law and Ex corde Ecclesiae by which Catholic theology professors must pledge to the local bishop that they will teach in conformity to Catholic doctrine. The bishops reject opposition from the Association of Catholic Colleges & Universities and associations of Catholic theologians. CNS publicly defends the bishops’ action and remains the nation’s leading proponent of strict enforcement of the mandatum.

2003: Catholic College Student Survey
CNS releases an eye-opening report commissioned from UCLA’s Higher Education Research Institute, showing that Catholic college graduates become significantly more pro-abortion and pro-gay marriage than when they were freshmen.

2003: Bishops Boycott Commencement Ceremonies
The CNS Campus Speaker Monitoring Project encouraged Worcester (Mass.) Bishop Daniel Reilly and Scranton (Penn.) Bishop James Timlin to boycott commencement ceremonies at the College of the Holy Cross and University of Scranton because pro-abortion MSNBC host Chris Matthews was commencement speaker at both institutions.

2003: Marist College Abandons Catholic Mission
In response to the CNS Campus Speaker Monitoring Project—in this case, opposing then-NY Attorney General Eliot Spitzer as a commencement speaker—Marist College declares itself no longer Catholic rather than endure inquiries from the Archbishop of New York. Marist College had, in fact, been minimally Catholic for a long time, but it was still officially recognized by the Archbishop as Catholic.

2004: U.S. Bishops Policy on Honors, Platforms
After 11 years of CNS protests of scandalous speakers and honorees at Catholic colleges, the U.S. bishops mandate in their statement “Catholics in Political Life” that “Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.”

2004: Campaign Against The Vagina Monologues
CNS leads a nationwide protest against Catholic college performances of the vile play The Vagina Monologues with full-page ads in USA Today, National Catholic Register and The Washington Times national edition. By 2010, the campaign reduces Catholic campus performances to 14, from a high of 32 in 2003.

2005: Bishops Boycott Commencement Ceremonies
The CNS Campus Speaker Monitoring Project encourages Cardinal William Keeler of Baltimore and Archbishop Alfred Hughes of New Orleans to boycott commencement ceremonies at Loyola College of Maryland and Loyola University of New Orleans. The commencement speaker at Loyola was pro-abortion Rudolph Giuliani. One of the honorary degree recipients at Loyola was pro-abortion Sen. Mary Landrieu.

2005: Marymount Manhattan College Abandons Catholic Mission
In response to the CNS Campus Speaker Monitoring Project—in this case, opposing pro-abortion Sen. Hillary Clinton—Marymount Manhattan College declares itself no longer Catholic rather than endure inquiries from the Archbishop of New York. Marymount Manhattan College had, in fact, been minimally Catholic for a long time, but it was still officially recognized by the Archbishop as Catholic.

2006: Pro-Abortion Website Referrals Removed
Several Catholic universities—including Boston College, Georgetown University, Loyola University of New Orleans, Santa Clara University, and others—remove website referrals to pro-abortion organizations and clinics following CNS complaints.

2007: Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College
After two years of research and production, The Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College arrives at bookstores. The unique Guide identifies 20 Catholic colleges—about 10 percent of the Catholic colleges in the United States—plus one in Canada where students can reasonably expect a faithful Catholic education and a campus culture that generally upholds the values taught in their homes and parishes.

2007: Commencement Speaker Scandals Decline
The CNS Campus Speaker Monitoring Project and local protests lead Robert Wilhelm of the pro-abortion Girls Inc. to withdraw as commencement speaker at the College of St. Mary in Omaha, Neb. The Campus Speaker Monitoring Project has significant success, with the number of scandalous commencement speakers and honorees declining by nearly half, from 24 in 2006 to 13 in 2007.

2007: Vatican Eucharistic Miracles Exhibit
CNS is selected by the Real Presence Association as the national coordinator for displays of the Vatican’s International Exposition “The Eucharistic Miracles of the World” on Catholic and secular campuses across the country.

2008: Pope Benedict XVI Addresses College Presidents
Pope Benedict XVI reasserts key principles of Ex corde Ecclesiae while laying out a hopeful vision for Catholic education in his address to Catholic college presidents at The Catholic University of America. Soon afterward, CNS launches its research division, The Center for the Study of Catholic Higher Education, to study critical issues and advance “best practices” in Catholic higher education.

2009: Notre Dame Commencement Scandal
CNS leads a national protest of the University of Notre Dame’s invitation to President Obama to deliver the spring commencement address and receive an honorary law degree. More than 367,000 people sign the CNS petition against this at Eighty-three Bishops protest Notre Dame’s action as a violation of the U.S. Bishops’ 2004 mandate on awards, honors or platforms at Catholic institutions.

2009: Newman Guide Goes Online
CNS launches the second edition of The Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College reaching out to many thousands of Catholic families and students interested in a faithful Catholic college education. This edition, which is also available as a free online resource at The Newman Guide, contains a new section on international and online Catholic institutions of higher education.

2009: EEOC Ruling Against Belmont Abbey College
The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission rules that Belmont Abbey College discriminates against women by refusing to cover birth control pills in its employee health insurance plan. CNS launches an effort to advise Catholic colleges how to protect religious liberty from government infringement in healthcare, student aid, etc.

2010: Center for the Advancement of Catholic Higher Education
Under the leadership of Dr. David B. House, former president of Saint Joseph’s College of Maine, CNS retools its research division as The Center for the Advancement of Higher Education with a new focus on advising and assisting academic and religious leaders in efforts to strengthen the Catholic identity and academic quality of Catholic colleges.

2010: Beatification of John Henry Cardinal Newman
CNS leads the Official U.S. Pilgrimage to England to Cardinal Newman’s Beatification by Pope Benedict XVI in September 2010. Newman authored the classic work The Idea of a University while founding a Catholic university in Ireland, and his writings were a major influence on Pope John Paul II and Ex corde Ecclesiae. The CNS Newman Legacy Project helps promote Newman’s work, especially as it relates to the unity of faith and reason and Catholic education. CNS partners with the Birmingham Oratory in England to preserve and protect more than 10,000 of Newman’s original manuscripts.

Ex corde Ecclesiae: A Backgrounder
August 15, 2010, 20th Anniversary of Ex corde Ecclesiae

What was going on in Catholic higher education before Ex corde Ecclesiae?

In the 1967 “Land O’Lakes Statement,” several presidents of leading Catholic colleges and universities declared independence from all authority outside of the institution itself, including the Vatican and Catholic bishops. In the late 1960s and 1970s, most of the approximately 250 Catholic colleges in the U.S. legally separated from the Church, transferring ownership from their founding religious orders and dioceses to primarily lay boards of trustees.

Driven by the desire to excel academically, gain social prestige and compete with secular institutions for taxpayer funding—all worthy goals in themselves—Catholic college leaders turned attention away from Catholic identity. Catholic colleges increasingly conformed to prevailing trends in American higher education: disintegration of coursework, minimal attention to students’ social and moral development, relativism, and disregard for religious truth. Professors and staff were hired without consideration of their support for the Catholic faith or the distinctive mission of Catholic higher education.

The subsequent drift of Catholic colleges ushered in an era of theological dissent, moral confusion, unfamiliarity with the Catholic intellectual tradition, and rejection of the authority of the Vatican and bishops over Catholic doctrine, practice and identity.

The 1986 dismissal of Father Charles Curran from the theology department at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., drew worldwide attention to the problems in U.S. Catholic higher education. Father Curran was a prominent dissident from the encyclical Humane Vitae on sexual morality, and he was removed by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of the Vatican, who later became Pope Benedict XVI. Curran’s lawsuit against the university was unsuccessful.

What is Ex corde Ecclesiae?

On August 15, 1990, Pope John Paul II responded to the crisis in Catholic higher education by issuing the apostolic constitution on Catholic higher education, Ex corde Ecclesiae (From the Heart of the Church). An apostolic constitution has the binding effect of Church law; it is analogous to U.S. federal regulations to implement laws passed by Congress. Although the first major European universities were established with Catholic sponsorship or support, Ex corde was the Church’s first official document defining a Catholic college.

The constitution’s guidelines for Catholic colleges include:

Whether a Catholic university is established by the Holy See, a bishop, a religious community or lay people, it is “linked with the Church either by a formal, constitutive and statutory bond or by reason of an institutional commitment made by those responsible for it.” Every Catholic university, therefore, shares the same respect for Church authority over Catholic doctrine, practice and identity.

“A Catholic university, as Catholic, informs and carries out its research, teaching, and all other activities with Catholic ideals, principles and attitudes. …Catholic teaching and discipline are to influence all university activities, while the freedom of conscience of each person is to be fully respected. Any official action or commitment of the university is to be in accord with its Catholic identity.”

Professors’ academic freedom is guaranteed “within their specific specialized branch of knowledge, and according to the methods proper to that specific area.” Research and teaching must not intrude upon “the rights of the individual and of society within the confines of the truth and the common good.”

“All teachers and administrators, at the time of their appointment, are to be informed about the Catholic identity of the institution and its implications, and about their responsibility to promote, or at least to respect, that identity.”

Catholic theologians “are to be faithful to the Magisterium of the Church as the authentic interpreter of Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition.” Every professor of Catholic theology must have a “mandate” (mandatum) from the local bishop, as required in the 1983 Code of Canon Law.

“[T]he number of non-Catholic teachers should not be allowed to constitute a majority within the institution, which is and must remain Catholic.”

The American reaction to Ex corde was divided, with opposition from many leaders and faculty of leading Catholic universities who declared it “unworkable.” Recognizing the tension, the U.S. bishops in 1996 issued guidelines to implement Ex corde Ecclesiae in America, but with a pastoral approach that avoided strict mandates. The Cardinal Newman Society was a leading voice in support of clear guidelines as required by Ex corde Ecclesiae. The Vatican rejected the 1996 document, and the U.S. bishops continued their work under the leadership of Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua of Philadelphia. The bishops approved clear guidelines in 1999 (subsequently approved by the Vatican), as well as recommended procedures for the theologians’ mandatum in 2000.

While largely echoing Ex corde Ecclesiae, the U.S. bishops’ guidelines of 1999 added the expectations that the president and a majority of trustees at Catholic colleges should be Catholic, and the president should make an oath of fidelity to the Catholic faith upon assuming office.

What has followed Ex corde Ecclesiae?

Although there has been no formal, nationwide assessment of Catholic colleges’ adherence to Ex corde Ecclesiae, it can be safely stated that Ex corde Ecclesiae has not been fully and strictly implemented at most Catholic colleges in the U.S. The Cardinal Newman Society continues to report on scandalous activities and other concerns about Catholic identity.

Nevertheless, there has been a hopeful and marked shift away from knee-jerk opposition to Ex corde Ecclesiae and toward strengthening Catholic identity throughout U.S. Catholic higher education. Certain high-profile scandals like pro-abortion commencement speakers and performances of The Vagina Monologues are declining. Meanwhile, a growing minority of Catholic colleges have fully embraced Ex corde Ecclesiae; many of these are new institutions established within the last 40 years. (Many are profiled in The Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College at

Among the most visible scandals is the problem of Catholic colleges choosing commencement speakers and honorary degree recipients who publicly oppose Catholic teaching on abortion, embryonic stem cell research, gay marriage, etc. In their 2004 statement “Catholics in Political Life,” the U.S. bishops mandated that “Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.”

In 2005 and again in 2007, Archbishop Michael Miller, then Vatican Secretary for the Congregation for Education, urged U.S. Catholic colleges to develop measurable “benchmarks” to measure their Catholicity. He also called for fidelity in Catholic theology departments, public disclosure of theologians who have the mandatum, and renewal of campus life consistent with Catholic morals.

Most bishops have worked quietly to urge renewal of Catholic identity, but increasingly bishops are publicly airing frustration with some Catholic colleges. Recent examples include Archbishop Raymond Burke and Saint Louis University, now retired Bishop John D’Arcy and the U.S. bishops’ Doctrine Committee and the University of Notre Dame, Archbishop Jose Gomez and St. Mary’s University, and Bishop Robert McManus (chair of the U.S. Bishops’ Education Committee) and the College of the Holy Cross.

In 2008 Pope Benedict XVI convened a meeting of the presidents of Catholic colleges and universities at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. where he echoed key themes of Ex corde Ecclesiae on the importance of Catholic identity. The Holy Father has repeatedly expressed concern about an “educational emergency” in the West, and he followed upon this theme by noting a “crisis of truth” that is rooted in a “crisis of faith.” Pope Benedict reinforced his predecessor’s embrace of academic freedom “within the confines of the truth” (Ex corde Ecclesiae): “Yet it is also the case that any appeal to academic freedom in order to justify positions that contradict the faith and the teaching of the Church would obstruct or even betray the university’s identity and mission.”

In 2009, 83 bishops publicly protested the University of Notre Dame’s choice to honor President Barack Obama with an honorary law doctorate and a prominent platform as commencement speaker, despite his aggressive support for abortion rights and embryonic stem cell research. Bishop John D’Arcy of Fort Wayne-South Bend boycotted the commencement ceremony and chastised the university, citing the 2004 U.S. bishops’ statement against Catholic honors for pro-abortion proponents. When the U.S. bishops convened for their summer meeting after the commencement ceremony, they issued a joint statement in support of Bishop D’Arcy’s actions regarding Notre Dame.

In 2011, the U.S. bishops are scheduled to conduct a review of the implementation of Ex corde Ecclesiae over the past 10 years since the bishops’ American guidelines went into effect. Details for the review have not yet been released.

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen: Servant of All - Movie Trailer

Feast of St. Jean Marie Vianney

The simple priesthood of St Jean Vianney changed a town and a world

On Tuesday evening, 9 February 1818, Antoine Givre, a boy herding sheep in the Dombes region, had an unusual encounter. He met a priest striding towards him, like a peasant on the road from Lyons. He was pushing a rickety cart heaped with objects, among which he could make out a wooden bedstead.

The priest called to the boy and asked him if it was much further to the village of Ars. Antoine pointed out to him the modest little town before them which was disappearing into the darkness. "How small it is!" the priest murmured. Then he knelt on the frozen ground and prayed at length, his eyes fixed on the houses.

'I will show you the way to heaven'

As he rose and set out again with his cart, the boy was at his side. When they arrived in front of the poor church, the priest said to him: "Thank you for showing me the way to Ars... I will show you the way to Heaven".

You can read the rest of the story of the Cure of Ars at EWTN's The Life of St Jean-Marie Vianney

Catechism on Sin

SIN IS the executioner of the good God, and the assassin of the soul. It snatches us away from Heaven to precipitate us into Hell. And we love it! What folly! If we thought seriously about it, we should have such a lively horror of sin that we could not commit it. O my children, how ungrateful we are! The good God wishes to make us happy; that is very certain; He gave us His Law for no other end. The Law of God is great; it is broad...

...The good God wishes, then, to make us happy, and we do not wish to be so. We turn away from Him, and give ourselves to the devil! We fly from our Friend, and we seek after our murderer! We commit sin; we plunge ourselves into the mire. Once sunk in this mire, we know not how to get out. If our fortune were in the case, we should soon find out how to get out of the difficulty; but because it only concerns our soul, we stay where we are...

...Some people offend the good God every moment; their heart is an anthill of sins: it is like a spoilt piece of meat, half-eaten by worms. . . . No, indeed; if sinners were to think of eternity - of that terrible forever - they would be converted instantly.
From Chapter 14 which can be found at the Catechetical Instructions-St John Vianney
On the Blessed Mother:
"I loved her (the Blessed Virgin) even before I knew her it was my first affection. When I was quite little I had a pretty little rosary, to which my sister took a fancy; she wanted to have it. This was one of my first troubles. I went to consult my mother about it. She advised me to give it up for love of God. I obeyed: but it cost me many tears."

Taken from The Life of the Curé d'Ars [St. J.B.M. Vianney] from the French By Alfred Monnin, p. 7-8.

On the Holy Eucharist:
"All the good works in the world are not equal to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass because they are the works of men; but the Mass is the work of God. Martyrdom is nothing in comparison for it is but the sacrifice of man to God; but the Mass is the sacrifice of God for man."
On Prayer:
"When you awake in the night, transport yourself quickly in spirit before the Tabernacle, saying: 'Behold, my God, I come to adore You, to praise, thank, and love you, and to keep you company with all the Angels,' "
On Purgatory:
"How dearly we shall pay for all those faults that we look upon as nothing at all, like those little lies that we tell to amuse ourselves, those little scandals, the despising of the graces which God gives us at every moment, those little murmurings in the difficulties that He sends us!"
Quote source

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

The Sins of Detraction and Calumny

Very good article by Father Hardon:

...A good reputation is the esteem that one person has formed and entertains about another. It may regard his moral qualities, such as honesty, chastity, or truthfulness; it may regard physical and mental qualities or attainments. In either case, reputation is the object of an acquired right, and consequently to take it away or lower it becomes an act of injustice. Not only the living but also the dead have a right to good esteem. During life we wish to remain in the grateful memory of mankind, and such an expectation can lead us to great exploits.

What needs to be stressed, however, is that a person's good name is something he cherishes even though we may not think he deserves it. No matter; it is his good name, not ours. We may, if we wish, forfeit our good name provided no harm is done to others. But another person's good reputation belongs to him, and we may not do it injury by revealing, without proportionately grave reason, what we know is true about him...
Read it in its entirety here.

Monday, August 02, 2010

St. Peter Eymard- On Eucharistic Adoration

The oldest illustrated Christian works dated to before 650 A.D.

Newspaper: Damien of Molokai film from Vatican archives shows reality of the saint

The above poster can be seen at the St. Francis Church's visitor center in Kalaupapa. A big mahalo to Carlos for sharing the story with me.
A newly digitized 1950's film on Fr. Damien of Molokai still offers a relevant message for today, remarked L'Osservatore Romano (LOR) on Friday. According to the Vatican newspaper, the film’s images not only show us the priest's life, but reveal "timeless and fundamentally human themes."

Titled “Molokai, la isla maldita" (Molokai, the damned island), the black and white film was made in 1959 by director Luis Lucia. It won awards in Spain for best film and for best director. LOR reported that the now-digitized movie is of interest not only to the library, as one of the first films filed in its film archives, but also to religious cinema as a whole.

Using the cinematic techniques typical of religious films of the mid-20th century, the film remembers Fr. Damien and his 16 years of work with lepers on Hawaii’s Island of Molokai until his death from leprosy in 1889. The Belgian priest, reported LOR, "represents a universal example of humanitarian aid and solidarity," battling "not only against leprosy but against prejudices."
Read the rest here.

The Portiuncula Indulgence today!

A reminder from Father Vince Inghilterra:

I received this information from the Catholic Community Forum as well as the Divine Mercy Podcast.

What is Portiuncula? The following is an excerpt from Major Life of St. Francis by St. Bonaventure.

" The Portiuncula was an old church dedicated to the Virgin Mother of God which was abandoned . Francis had great devotion to the Queen of the world and when he saw that the church was deserted, he began to live there constantly in order to repair it. He heard that the Angels often visited it, so that it was called Saint Mary of the Angels, and he decided to stay there permanently out of reverence for the angels and love for the Mother of Christ.

He loved this spot more than any other in the world. It was here he began his religious life in a very small way; it is here he came to a happy end. When he was dying, he commended this spot above all others to the friars, because it was most dear to the Blessed Virgin.

This was the place where Saint Francis founded his Order by divine inspiration and it was divine providence which led him to repair three churches before he founded the Order and began to preach the Gospel.

This meant that he progressed from material things to more spiritual achievements, from lesser to greater, in due order, and it gave a prophetic indication of what he would accomplish later.

As he was living there by the church of Our Lady, Francis prayed to her who had conceived the Word, full of grace and truth, begging her insistently and with tears to become his advocate. Then he was granted the true spirit of the Gospel by the intercession of the Mother of mercy and he brought it to fruition.

He embraced the Mother of Our Lord Jesus with indescribable love because, as he said, it was she who made the Lord of majesty our brother, and through her we found mercy. After Christ, he put all his trust in her and took her as his patroness for himself and his friars."

Today the chapel of Portiuncula is situated inside the Basilica of Saint Mary of the Angels roughly 5 km from Assisi, Italy.

The Indulgence:

"The Portiuncula indulgence is the first plenary indulgence that was ever granted in the Church. There were indeed indulgences at all times, but they were only partial, and only a partial remission of the temporal punishments could be obtained by them. But, as already remarked, he who gains the Portiuncula indulgence is freed from all temporal punishments and becomes as pure as after holy baptism. This was also the reason why Pope Honorius was astonished when St. Francis petitioned for the confirmation of this indulgence, for such an indulgence, up to that time, bad been entirely unknown. It was only after he had come to the conviction that Jesus Christ himself wished it, that he granted the petition of the saint and confirmed the indulgence" (Source)

August 2nd is the feast of Portiuncula. A plenary indulgence is available to anyone who will

1. Receive sacramental confession (8 days before of after)

2. Receive the Holy Eucharist at Holy Mass on August 2nd

3. Enter a parish church and, with a contrite heart, pray the Our Father, Apostles Creed, and a pray of his/her own choosing for the intentions of the Pope.

Please tell every Catholic person you know that remission of the punishment for all sins committed from the day of baptism to the reception of the indulgence is available.

More Information:

If you want to read more about the feast of Portiuncula, please visit this website: Catholic Under the Hood.

Fr. Seraphim Beshoner is a third order Franciscan priest who does the podcast, Catholic Under the Hood, and he recently discussed this feast on one of his shows. Please check it out and pass the word along to everyone.

May the Merciful Jesus fill your heart with His gentle peace!

Note: An indulgence is the remission of the temporal punishment due to sin. More information can be found at Indulgences.