Welcome back to my blog!
There has been a significant amount of public dialogue concerning my statement yesterday (as copied below) about the proposed arrangement involving Caritas Christi Health Care with the Commonwealth Care Program.
To be perfectly clear, Caritas Christi will never do anything to promote abortions, to direct any patients to providers of abortion or in any way to participate in actions that are contrary to Catholic moral teaching and anyone who suggests otherwise is doing a great disservice to the Catholic Church. We are committed to the Gospel of Life and no arrangement will be entered into unless it is completely in accord with Church teaching.
Recognizing the complexity of the proposed arrangement, I will ask the National Catholic Bioethics Center to review the arrangement and to provide me their opinion.
My statement of March 5:
The Catholic Church’s teaching on the protection of human life from conception until natural death and its commitment to promoting a culture of life is clear and without ambiguity. Promoting a culture of life calls for us to protect life from attack and foster the welfare of all, especially the poor.
In recent days concern has been raised about the proposed arrangement involving Caritas Christi Health Care with the Commonwealth Care Program. I understand and support the desire of Caritas Christi to serve as a health care system collaborating with this program. If it can happen without compromising the Catholic identity of the system it would benefit both civil society and especially the poor in our community.
At the same time, as Archbishop I have the responsibility to insure that Caritas Christi Health Care adheres to the Ethical and Religious Directives established by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and that in every aspect of the hospital system the teachings of the Church are protected and maintained.
Consistent with this responsibility I want to confirm for the Catholic community and the wider interested public that Caritas Christi Health Care has assured me that it will not be engaged in any procedures nor draw any benefits from any relationship which violate the Church’s moral teaching as found in the Ethical and Religious Directives. Caritas Christi has been consistently faithful to these standards in the past and will continue to do so in the future.
These are principles of Catholic teaching on which we cannot yield. Our healthcare ministry is rooted in protecting the most vulnerable among us, including the unborn. Our embrace of the healing ministry of Jesus Christ goes back 2,000 years and is built on a foundation of Catholic moral theology and a desire to meet the needs of all through education, health care and social service.
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The Jews have a custom of celebrating, as we do, the Month’s Mind — a memorial one month after the death of an individual. Following that tradition, the Anti-Defamation League and the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center in Washington organized a memorial service for Rabbi Leon Klenicki last Thursday, which I was honored to attend.
As I mentioned in a recent post, Rabbi Klenicki was a great figure in the field of Jewish-Catholic relations. I knew him for many years. He was a man of God who was a friend of the Catholic Church and a bridge between the Catholic and Jewish community.
Rabbi Klenicki’s wife, Myra, and other friends and relatives were there along with a number of Catholic and Jewish leaders including Cardinal Keeler, Cardinal McCarrick and the Apostolic Nuncio.
After the service there was a reception and then a working lunch in which the leaders had a frank discussion on some of the recent events that have caused concern in the Jewish community.
Rabbi Irving Greenberg of the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership
At the end of the afternoon, the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center held a press conference announcing an ongoing dialogue that they will be hosting to promote better communication and understanding between the Catholic and Jewish communities. The dialogue will reach out to a number of communities that are not ordinarily involved in the Catholic-Jewish dialogue, to try to make it as broad a dialogue as possible.
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On Friday evening, I attended the monthly gathering of college students and young adults at Saint Leonard’s in the North End.
They had a Holy Hour and Adoration during which there were confessions and then I celebrated the Mass. Following the Mass, there was time for socializing and they served delicious North End pizza.
We took occasion of the event to announce the next Eucharistic Congress which will be held on April 3-4 and that will also take place in the North End.
The first Eucharistic Congress took place last year and it was a great success. In fact, these monthly gatherings with young adults are a fruit of that congress.
The theme of the Congress will be “No greater love” and will revolve around Eucharistic devotion and service to the poor.
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On Saturday Msgr. Joseph Lahoud, the Pastor of our Maronite Parish in Jamaica Plain, came for a visit and he brought a surprise visitor with him: Archbishop Edmond Farhat, the Apostolic Nuncio to Austria. We were able to give them a tour of our beautiful Cathedral before we left for the Hispanic Men’s retreat in Waltham.
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Some time ago I spoke with Father Michael Nolan, the pastor at St. Mary’s in Waltham, about doing an event there for Hispanics. I had suggested to him that he invite Father Mario Castañeda, who was my secretary in Palm Beach. He is a very fine preacher and has been very involved in the preaching ministry.
Our Episcopal Vicar for Hispanic Ministry, Bishop Emilio Allué, was there, as well as a number of the priests and deacons involved in Hispanic ministry in the diocese.
Four to five hundred men attended the conference — though the church is large it was quite full. It was a very successful day and as a result they are now talking about doing something similar for Hispanic women.
Perhaps one day this can grow into a Hispanic Men’s Conference and can be linked to our current Boston Catholic Men’s Conference. But, for now, it’s a start and it was a very successful day.
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In the evening, I went to Boston College for an Evening Prayer with the Sant’Egidio Community.
We celebrated a vespers service with the theme of the poor. Afterwards, there was a reception at which some of the members spoke about their outreach programs to children and the elderly in nursing homes in Jamaica Plain, Brighton and Cambridge.
In the evening there was a dinner during which we had an opportunity to talk about the work of Sant’Egidio. I encouraged them to involve more people in the group and become better known in the Archdiocese.
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This past Sunday was the first Sunday of Lent and so, as we always do, we celebrated the Rite of Election.
The Rite of Election is such an important opportunity for those preparing to be part of the Church to come to the cathedral and see that they are not alone in their spiritual journey.
As a matter of fact, about 150,000 people a year enter the Church through the RCIA program in the United States.
This rite helps emphasize the fact that, when you become a Catholic, you are not just joining a parish but you are becoming part of a larger community—the diocese and the universal Church.
The Rite of Election is one more teachable moment, showing that we are the body of Christ and that our mission extends back through the apostles to Christ.
In the early Church, the bishops celebrated all of the baptisms and it was a great sign of unity within the Catholic Community. That is no longer possible. However, in a Latin Rite it is still a custom for the bishops to celebrate the Confirmations as a sign of unity.
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And finally, as many of you may already be aware, this weekend we launch our Annual Catholic Appeal.
The Catholic Appeal theme this year, “Responding to God’s Grace, Renewing Our Church,” is an invitation for all Catholics to join in this renewal through prayer, service and sharing.
In recent months, I have had the opportunity to reflect on the blessings of my first five years as Archbishop of Boston. I am thankful for the spiritual renewal that is taking place throughout the Archdiocese and encouraged by an increasing confidence in the future of our local Church.
These difficult economic times serve to remind us of how essential the work of the Church is to our lives and those of our neighbors, Catholic and non-Catholic alike. During the Lenten season we are challenged to respond to our ongoing need for conversion and our mission to provide for the needs of so many people who rely on the Church for their physical, emotional and spiritual well-being.
May God bless you for your generosity!