LAST WEEK’S NEWS. A lot of interesting news last week. Let’s look at some of it
Vatican Summit. The Summit on child abuse ended last Sunday without
producing any important results. While it might have been helpful to bishops from
countries where child abuse issues haven’t been addressed, in my opinion it really did
nothing but waste time in solving the problem in the U.S.. Recall that the Pope had
ordered the U.S. Bishops wait to see what this Summit came up with before proposing
new rules to apply to lying and abusing Bishops. Okay, so with no results, the Bishops
have wasted the last 7 months or so. Now what?
Bishop Zanchetta. Under the cloud of allegations of sexual abuse Bishop Gustavo
Zanchetta resigned as Bishop of Orán, Argentina, in August 2017, and was appointed by
Pope Francis to a newly-created position in the Vatican. The Vatican has repeatedly
denied knowing about the accusations at the time of the appointment, but this week an
Argentine newspaper has published documents purporting to show the opposite. Did the
Summit really matter?
Cardinal Pell. It was announced this week that an Australian jury had found
Cardinal George Pell, (the Cardinal in charge of Vatican finances) guilty of sexually
abusing two 13-year-old boys in 1996. However, grave doubts surround the conviction,
which Pell is appealing. For example, it rested almost entirely on the testimony of one of
the alleged victims, the second alleged victim had died in 2014, after telling his mother,
that Pell had not abused him. Moreover, as an Australian priest writes, “The proposition
that the offenses charged were committed immediately after Mass by a fully robed
archbishop in the sacristy with an open door and in full view from the corridor seemed
incredible to my mind.” Also, this was the second trial on these charges: the first trial
ended with a hung jury, with 10 of 12 jurors voting to acquit.
If Pell is guilty, he’s guilty, and he should be thrown into prison for a long time.
But many Australians believe the conviction completely unfounded and rooted in anti-
Catholic bias, and that the verdict will be overturned by the higher court.
Monsters Among Us. The “Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act” was
rejected in the US Senate along a mainly party line vote, with only 3 democrats voting in
favor of the bill. The legislation would have required that "any health care practitioner
present" at the time of a birth "exercise the same degree of professional skill, care, and
diligence to preserve the life and health of the child as … to any other child born alive at
the same gestational age." It should be noted that all the Democratic Senators running for
president in 2020 voted against the measure, including Senators Sanders, Harris, Booker,
Gillibrand, Klobuchar and Warren. Imagine, voting to allow a doctor to just let born
babies die on the table, or even be killed. What kind of monsters are these Democrats?
Abortion Clinics. Meanwhile, the Trump Administration announced it will bar
groups that provide abortions or abortion referrals from participating in federal family-
planning program. The new rule will redirect money from Planned Parenthood and
toward faith-based providers.
LENT. The Season of Lent begins this Wednesday with Ash Wednesday. As you know,
this is my favorite time of year, as it gives us the opportunity to meditate on the immense
love of God that would lead Him to suffer and die for our sins. At the same time, then,
it’s also a time to consider our sins and to work to overcome them, through our diligent
efforts and cooperating with His grace. In short, it can be a time of intense growth in our
personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Lent, of course, brings a much busier parish schedule, which we’ve laid out in
detail in this week’s “Lenten Schedule” insert. Please keep this insert in a central place
in your home—maybe on your fridge door—to remind you of the many opportunities for
spiritual growth the parish offers this Lent.
Ash Wednesday. Ashes will be distributed at all Masses on Ash Wednesday (see
below). Since ashes are merely symbolic (a “sacramental” not a “Sacrament”) they may
be received by anyone who wishes to repent their sins, Catholic or not, in “good
standing” or not. Note: There are no confessions scheduled on Ash Wednesday.
Fasting and Abstinence. Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are days of both
fasting and abstinence, and every Friday in Lent is a day of abstinence. Failure to
“substantially” keep these penances is grave matter (e.g., potentially a mortal sin). The
law of abstinence requires that no meat may be eaten on these days, and binds all
Catholics who are 14 years old or older. No other penance may be substituted. The law of
fasting binds those who are between the ages of 18 and 59. The Church defines “fasting,”
for these purposes, as having only one full meal a day, with two additional smaller meals
permitted, but only as necessary to keep up strength and so small that if added together
they would not equal a full meal. Snacking is forbidden, but that does not include drinks
that are not of the nature of a meal. Even though these rules do not bind all age groups,
all are encouraged to follow them to the extent possible, including children. The sick,
pregnant and other folks with special physical circumstances may be partially or totally
exempt from these rules.
Doing Penance. Of course, all Catholics are encouraged to do personal acts of
penance throughout the season of Lent, traditionally of three types: almsgiving
(including acts of charity), sacrifice (what you “give up”), and prayer. Please choose
your penances carefully, considering your health and state in life. Challenge yourself, but
pick things you can actually do, rather than things that are so difficult that you may easily
give up on them.
Sacrament of Penance. Confession is key to a fruitful Lent. I strongly encourage
that you take advantage of our extended Lent confession schedule—confessions are
scheduled every single day in Lent, except Ash Wednesday and Holy Thursday (see
today’s “Lenten Schedule” insert for exact times—they’re a little different this year).
Lenten Series—A Little Different. When I was thinking about my topic for this
year’s series, “The Agony in the Garden,” and Jesus’ question to His apostles in the
Garden came to mind: “Could you not keep watch for one hour with me?” So it occurred
to me to give my talks in the church during a Holy Hour of Exposition of the Blessed
Sacrament, so we could “watch for one hour” in prayer and meditation with the Lord.
We’ll begin with Exposition, then I’ll give a half-hour talk, followed by praying the
Rosary and then Benediction.
Please join us every Thursday during Lent, beginning next Thursday, March 14,
and continuing through April 11, from 7pm to 8pm. If you’ve never been to a Holy Hour
or one to the Lenten Series, please come—you’ll be glad you did.
Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles