Tag Archives: Archbishop John Vlazny

What is your position on immigration?

According to my Archbishop, John Vlazny, we Catholics enter into National Migration Week (Jan. 8-14) with open arms and hearts. Yet, the layman below states within his own article that despite what the U.S. Bishops say, church doctrine is not pro-immigration. The Archbishop declares that immigration laws are unjust, and the layman puts forth a compelling argument that declares such laws are supported by the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Okay. So which is it? And what’s your position? (I recommend reading both commentators. And remember, please be charitable in your comments, lest you force me to boot your electronic butt out of this part of the universe…)

Catholic Layman Says: Despite The U.S. Bishops, Church Doctrine Is Not Pro-Immigration!

By AW Morgan on January 10, 2012 at 10:59pm

Think about this:

If a fellow shows up at your door, penniless, starving and thirsty, and beaten by thugs, the Catholic Church says you have a normative Christian duty to help him. Consider the rancher in Arizona who gives drink to the thirsty illegals who cross his path in the desert.

But if the same fellow shows up at your door with 25 relatives and demands food and water and threatens you if he doesn’t think you provided enough, then you bolt the door and grab your rifle.

You have a greater duty to protect your family. The Church says they are your primary obligation.

The latter, not the former, describes immigration, legal and particularly illegal.

Of course, to hear the Catholic Left tell it, Church teaching demands that you surrender your house to the mob—i.e. throw open the borders, regardless of the effect on the federal and state treasuries, crime rates and American cultural coherence. They quotebiblical texts, from the Infant Savior’s flight to Egypt with Mary and Joseph to the teaching of Christ on welcoming “strangers,” in a way that resembles the irrational fundamentalism of erroneous Protestant scriptural exegesis. And they ask the clichéd question:WWJD?

As a Catholic myself, I say: bunk. Whatever the radical left and their feminist nuns, collarless priests or mitred mandarins in the sexually corrupt Catholic chanceries may say, Catholic teaching does not demand, and has never demanded, that a country open its borders to limitless numbers of immigrants.

Nor does it confer upon “migrants” an unfettered right to travelwherever they wish, whenever they wish.

Far from suggesting that a nation must throw open its doors, the Church says political authorities can control and even stop immigration if they judge it necessary.

Here are the relevant passages in the Catechism—the official text of the Church’s teaching:

The more prosperous nations are obliged, to the extent they are able, to welcome the foreigner in search of the security and the means of livelihood which he cannot find in his country of origin. Public authorities should see to it that the natural right is respected that places a guest under the protection of those who receive him.

Political authorities, for the sake of the common good for which they are responsible, may make the exercise of the right to immigrate subject to various juridical conditions, especially with regard to the immigrants’ duties toward their country of adoption. Immigrants are obliged to respect with gratitude the material and spiritual heritage of the country that receives them, to obey its laws and to assist in carrying civic burdens. [Emphasis added]

Similarly, the U.S. Catholic bishops in their official teaching (as opposed to what they lobby for) outline three principles of immigration. The first is that “People have the right to migrate to sustain their lives and the lives of their families.” The third: “A country must regulate its borders with justice and mercy.”

But the second principle we don’t hear much about. Here it is:

‘While individuals have the right to move in search of a safe and humane life, no country is bound to accept all those who wish to resettle there. By this principle the Church recognizes that most immigration is ultimately not something to celebrate. Ordinarily, people do not leave the security of their own land and culture just to seek adventure in a new place or merely to enhance their standard of living.Instead, they migrate because they are desperate and the opportunity for a safe and secure life does not exist in their own land…

Because there seems to be no end to poverty, war, and misery in the world, developed nations will continue to experience pressure from many peoples who desire to resettle in their lands. Catholic social teaching is realistic: While people have the right to move, no country has the duty to receive so many immigrants that its social and economic life are jeopardized.

For this reason, Catholics should not view the work of the federal government and its immigration control as negative or evil. ‘[Emphasis added]

When was the last time you heard that “[m]ost immigration is not something to celebrate”?

But the U.S. Conference Of Catholic Bishops’ Justice for Immigrantscampaign website does not even mention “respecting the law”—let alone “the material and spiritual heritage of the country that receives them”. Nor do the bishops stress it in their endless public pontifications.

Authentic Catholic teaching on immigration is not leftist. Rather, it is rooted in human reason and reality, meaning the way things are versus the way we wish them to be —as is all Catholic teaching,which is conservative by its nature.

Indeed, in noting that “no country has the duty to receive so many immigrants that its social and economic life are jeopardized,” the U.S. bishops themselves acknowledge the right of a nation to defend itself—as well as the duty of the state to provide for the common good of its own citizens.

Thus, we may rightly and justly send illegal aliens home, not least because they have not obeyed American immigration laws.

Yet when the U.S. bishops discuss “justice,” they don’t often mention that—or this item in Catholic teaching on justice: the state’s duty “to protect its subjects in their rights and to govern the whole body for the common good.”

That segues into the duties of citizens, where I have recourse to the Catechism again:

Those subject to authority should regard those in authority as representatives of God, who has made them stewards of his gifts… “Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution. . . . Live as free men, yet without using your freedom as a pretext for evil; but live as servants of God.”[Pet 2:13,16]Their loyal collaboration includes the right, and at times the duty, to voice their just criticisms of that which seems harmful to the dignity of persons and to the good of the community.

It is the duty of citizens to contribute along with the civil authorities to the good of society in a spirit of truth, justice, solidarity, and freedom. The love and service of one’s country follow from the duty of gratitude and belong to the order of charity. Submission to legitimate authorities and service of the common good require citizens to fulfill their roles in the life of the political community.

Submission to authority and co-responsibility for the common good make it morally obligatory to pay taxes, to exercise the right to vote, and to defend one’s country. [Emphases in original].

Upshot is, citizens are enjoined to be patriots. They must love and defend their country, and are obliged to pay taxes, vote and rectify unjust laws and living conditions.

That raises a few questions about the millions of Mexicans who simply abandoned their country, not because they didn’t have work but because they wanted to improve their living standards, and even worse, endangered the lives of their children by dragging them across the desert.

Were they not obliged by Catholic teaching to stay in Mexico—to become active politically and to fight for economic justice from the ruling kleptocracy?

What of the Mexican authorities who never cease lecturing Americans about their duties to illegal aliens? Is the Mexican president and his legislature governing the country for the “common good” in surrendering to the depredations of the drug cartels?

Certainly, Mexican political authorities sin in permitting citizens to live in squalor, thus encouraging them to cross the border in defiance of American law. Certainly, they sin when they provide instructional manuals on how to evade the authorities. Certainly, they sin by instructing Mexican-Americans that they are Mexicans no matter what their citizenship.(“You’re Mexicans — Mexicans who live north of the border,” President Ernesto  Zedillo told Mexican-American politicians in Dallas in 1995..[Mexico Woos U.S. Mexicans, Proposing Dual Nationalityby Sam Dillon, NYT, December 10, 1995]

All these acts, whether by omission or commission, violate Catholic teaching.

As for the duties of illegals who are here, apropos of the Catechism and the teaching Pope John Paul II, they are obliged to obey the law—which just might mean surrendering to authorities and returning home.

Catholic teaching does not entitle them to stay forever as illegals. Catholic teaching mandates obedience to the law.

Most American Catholics, regardless of what they think of immigration, are unaware of these fine distinctions because of the way the U.S. bishops and their leftist allies systematically misrepresent Catholic teaching on immigration. (A notableexception, to my mind, is Catholic apologist  blogger Jimmy Akin)

Which brings us back to Christ.

WWJD? He would tell the alien: Render unto Caesar. Obey the law. Go back home and work in your own country. If you wish to come here, get in line with everyone else.

And, if Americans decide that they don’t need even legal immigration, respect that decision too.

A.W. Morgan [Email him] is fully recovered from prolonged contact with the Beltway RightHe now lives in America.

Archbsp. Calls Boycott: ‘Cancel subscriptions to Oregonian…’

First in nation… Response to media “Catholic Bashing”


Oregon Catholic Population:

12.1%  432,170

To Cancel Subscription Now:  Contact The Oregonian Customer Service Department By Phone, Call 503-221-8240 OR 1-800-452-1420, or by e-mail, homedelivery@oregonian.com

On the last day of March, Archbishop John Vlazny published a letter for the faithful encouraging them to give serious consideration to canceling their subscriptions to the Oregonian newspaper. His words come in response to the Oregonian’s publishing inflammatory and egregiously ignorant editorials, articles, and cartoons about the Church. His complaints are directed toward the secular media and the Oregonian in particular. In addition, he complains about the the lack of taste the publication has shown during our holiest season and the hostility it has supported in its editorials. Archbishop Vlazny goes on to reaffirm the ongoing efforts on the part of the Church, in particular, the Archdiocese of Portland, to seek out the protection of our children. Reflecting on the most effective way to reconcile with victims and the relentless bashing of the media, he writes:

Archdiocese of Portland, Oregon:

Statement from Archbishop John G. Vlazny March 31, 2010

It did not take long for me on the morning of March 31 to cancel my subscription to the Oregonian. This was not the first time I had contemplated such a move. When the “Catholic bashing” was principally local, I thought this was something I simply had to endure along with the rest of you. Why? The jury of public opinion seemed to conclude that the church deserved such punishment because it was no better than anyone else in handling the problem of child sexual abuse. But I was always suspicious that there was more behind all the attention given to our plight by the secular media.

Let me be specific about my complaints. In the column on March 29 by syndicated columnist, E.J. Dionne Jr., towards the end of his clever attempt to ridicule the Vatican, we find this bold assertion: “The church needs to cast aside the lawyers, the PR specialists and its own worst instincts…” If that’s not bad enough, try this: “The church will have to show not only that it has learned from the scandal, but also that it’s truly willing to transform itself.” Now you tell me, when you are served with a lawsuit for millions of dollars, is it malicious to seek a lawyer’s help? PR specialists? Dream on. As for “transformation”, ask anyone who works for the church or pays attention to church activities about all the efforts at victim assistance and child protection which have been incorporated into church policies both here and elsewhere.

Then on March 30 there was the unconscionable cartoon on the editorial page which unfairly belittled our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI. It was a portrayal dripping with hostility, an attack against our high priest, our universal pastor, our faithful teacher, the one person who, in the eyes of the world, symbolizes all that we are and do as Catholics. I was insulted and I hope you were too. People called wondering what I would say or do. I’m grateful for the prod. Can you imagine the reaction people of other faiths or persuasions would have if their leadership were so publicly scorned? The Oregonian wouldn’t dare publish something so ugly about the Dalai Lama. Nor should they.

The last straw came on March 31. On the editorial page again, this time in the form of a prominent editorial, the editors arrogantly scolded the church for its past failures in handling this matter of child sexual abuse and, in an insulting and unfair attack, chose this most holy time of the year, during our church’s Year of the Priest, to connect the practice of celibacy among our clergy with the problem of child sexual abuse, when everyone knows that most abusers by far are married persons! Is every single person now under a cloud of suspicion? Or only single Catholic priests? If only the latter, don’t you wonder why?

For more than ten years as Archbishop of Portland, in one way or another, I have pondered these challenges and perhaps taken them more seriously than they merited.

But I knew that reconciliation and healing among those aggrieved would only be possible if we who are the church were truly repentant and serious about doing better. But the media could never be satisfied. Why? It’s a trick as old as the human race. “When you don’t like the message, destroy the messenger.” The Catholic Church, in exercising her prophetic role and responsibility, is sometimes a very lonely speaker when addressing reasonable solutions to problematic realities like abortion, devaluing marriage and family life, injustices in the economy which lead to unabated poverty demeaning the sacredness of human sexuality and the place of religion in the public forum.

The Oregonian is most likely no more guilty than its counterparts in other communities, but that’s the newspaper for most of us in Portland and other folks in western Oregon who like a paper with a “big city” feel. But the triduum of hostility, arrogance and ridicule that greeted readers during the early days of Holy Week, at the expense of the Catholic Church, is simply not tolerable and should not be condoned without some form of protest. The editors, of course, hold all the cards, so what to do? I canceled my subscription and urge others to do the same. Something will be missing while I sip my morning coffee, but with less time for breakfast, maybe I can jog a bit farther and eat a bit less. There’s inevitably something good that can be discovered in most unpleasant situations.

My friends, we Catholics are not perfect, but we are deserving of human respect. I had thought I should delay making assertions like these until later. Well, later arrived this morning with the last issue of the Oregonian that will be delivered to my home in the foreseeable future.

To Cancel Subscription:  Contact The Oregonian Customer Service Department By Phone, Call 503-221-8240 OR 1-800-452-1420, or by e-mail, homedelivery@oregonian.com

Archdiocese of Portland, Oregon, 2838 E. Burnside Street, Portland, Oregon 97214-1895 503/234-5334 Fax 503/234-2545

HT/St Anne Catholic Church

WRITE YOUR BISHOP TOO — (Your State Stats)


St. Damien and the Year of the Priest — A leper with the lepers

“The priests who serve you in our parishes across western Oregon typically attract headlines or prompt letters to the bishop only for their misdeeds, not for their faithful service…” 

Archbishop John Vlazny

A leper with the lepers

By Archbishop John Vlazny

During this Year of the Priest, I have taken advantage of opportunities to write about priests outstanding in their life and ministry whom the church has honored with canonization and/or beatification. On my recent trip to Belgium, I was privileged to celebrate the Eucharist at the tomb of one of these great men, Jozef de Veuster, who received the name of Damien in the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. Damien was canonized during this Year of the Priest by Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican on Sunday, Oct. 11, 2009. Celebrating his canonization and visiting his tomb within less than four months prompted me to write about him and showcase his pastoral zeal as an inspiration for the rest of us during these early days of Lent.

In his homily at the Mass of canonization last October, Pope Benedict had this to say about St. Damien: “When he was 23 years old, in 1863, he left Flanders, the land of his birth, to proclaim the Gospel on the other side of the world in the Hawaiian Islands. His missionary activity, which gave him such joy, reached its peak in charity. Not without fear and repugnance, he chose to go to the Island of Molokai to serve the lepers who lived there, abandoned by all. Thus he was exposed to the disease from which they suffered. He felt at home with them. The servant of the Word consequently became a suffering servant, a leper with the lepers, for the last four years of his life.”

All good disciples of Jesus eventually come to the realization that the more self-serving their lives seem to become, the less can they consider themselves friends of Jesus Christ. Young Jozef was born in Belgium back in 1840, the seventh child of his family. His dad was a grain trader and wanted Jozef to take over the business on their farm. But Jozef’s dreams lay elsewhere. His older brother was a priest, and at age 18 St. Damien wanted to be a priest, too. He became a member of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts, also described as the Picpus Fathers. He was sent off as a missionary. On the way he came down with typhus but eventually reached the Sandwich Islands (now Hawaii) in March of 1864. He became acquainted with the language and the customs of the Hawaiian people and was ordained a priest there in May of the same year.

READ THE REST OF THE STORY: A leper with the lepers | Catholic Sentinel


‘The Fish Rap’ by Run CCHD: Bait and Switch by Diogenes

img_2444.jpg     Editors Note: I was tipped by a friend to this article “Bait and Switch” by Diogenes found over at Catholic Culture. I’ve been personally struggling with my Archbishop’s column in the Catholic Sentinel this week entitled ‘Self-sufficiency for the poor’. I believe as so many concerned Catholics do that the CCHD is in need of serious reform (now) and I steadfastly promote such here… I also invite fellow Catholics to join me in “The Great ACORN Rebellion of 2008″.

Here’s the article:

Bait and Switch by Diogenes

Yes, it’s that time of year again. Thanksgiving is coming, and on the Sunday before the feast, Catholic Americans will be asked once more to contribute to the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), the bishops’ project to change the world through citizen activism.

Well, that isn’t exactly how the bishops would describe it. Nor is it the description you’ll hear before the collection baskets are passed. It’s more conventional to refer to CCHD as an “anti-poverty program.” But let’s make the pertinent distinction here. There are anti-poverty programs that ease the suffering of needy people through the altogether laudable exercise of Christian charity. Then there are other programs, more political in nature, designed to change society so as to abolish poverty. As I have explained earlier,the CCHD falls into the latter category; the program’s literature announces that it is “working to overcome poverty,” not alleviate it.

That’s a harder sell, in terms of fundraising. You might reach deep into your pockets to help feed a hungry family down the street; you’re less likely to pony up for their campaign to elect officials who, they argue, will raise the economic standards of society at large.

So the bishops have to work hard to keep the funds flowing into the CCHD coffers. This week, out in Portland, Oregon, Archbishop John Vlazny is doing his best.Along the way, the good archbishop acknowledges that there are cynics out there questioning the value of the CCHD approach:

Some of our fellow Catholics, sad to say, debunk the work of CCHD. They are quick to fault CCHD if one of the grantees unexpectedly and inexplicably strays from one of the sacred principles of Catholic social teaching. These things can happen when you offer someone help. They may misuse the gift.

Good point. We shouldn’t criticize CCHD if a recipient “unexpectedly and inexplicably strays” from Church teaching. But what of their straying is completely predictable? What if a recipient of CCHD funding has, say, endorsed abortion and same-sex marriage in the past, and allied itself with other organizations wholly dedicated to legal abortion and same-sex marriage? It’s one thing to give $5 to a panhandler, hoping that he’ll buy himself lunch, and learn with disappointment that he promptly spent the money on booze. It’s quite another thing to hand him the money as he stands at the doorway of the tavern.

The list of CCHD recipients is pockmarked with leftist groups whose aspirations clash with the basic principles of Catholic morality. The conflicts are inevitable. But that’s not the only problem. Because it was designed to promote social change– “a relic of early-1970s social activism,” as I put it recently,CCHD’s activities raise political questions even when there are no clear moral principles at risk.

When he cites “success stories” to illustrate the value of the CCHD program, Archbishop Vlazny mentioned minimum-wage increases and adjustments to the Earned-Income Credit– in other words, successful lobbying campaigns.

Citing an old adage, the archbishop summarizes the wisdom of the CCHD approach:

“Better to teach a young man how to fish than give him a fish.”

Good advice, that. But it’s not really an accurate description of the program. The CCHD is founded on the understanding that if you teach a young man to lobby the government, he won’t need to go fishing.

Hat/Tip: Diogenes, Catholic Culture, and J

“Harvesting and Voting” by Fr. John Cihak, S.T.D.

25th Sunday in OT (A)
Sacred Heart-St. Louis Parish, Gervais, Oregon
September 21, 2008

Fr. John Cihak, S.T.D. 

      It seems that now most of the harvests are in. Since this is my second summer as pastor here in French Prairie, I am beginning to learn the order of the crops. Something that has impressed me about the harvest is the beautiful technology that is the combine. As I understand it, a combine has a series of sieves, the first of which eliminates the largest and most obvious refuse, kicking the chaff back onto the field for baling. The rest goes through the other sieves until you have mostly seed. Now I also understand that even after combining the seed still needs to be taken to a plant and cleaned until there is a certain percentage of pure seed. The combine is truly a marvelous, though expensive, invention. (I’m also amazed at the sheer amount of cash that goes into farming. One farmer recently told me that during harvest has was spending $1,000/day in diesel fuel!) Well the harvest season is over, yet we find ourselves in the midst of another season, an election season. This is a season where we find people yelling at their televisions and it’s not some sporting event. In this election season, I think the image of the combine can help us sift through the issues and candidates of the complex political field, to help separate out the issues and candidates in order to produce good seed.

      Today St. Paul tells us, “Conduct yourselves in a way worthy of the gospel of Christ.” In everything we think, say and do, we are to conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ – in how we live, how we spend our money, how we raise our children, and how we vote. We are about to cast our vote for a new president. As Catholics, our allegiance to Jesus Christ and His Church is always first, yet because we love our country, we seek to enflesh His law in the laws of our country. Such a task reveals the heart of a true patriot – that our republic, this great experiment in democracy, would be enbued with the truth of natural law revealed through human reason and the revealed law revealed through faith.

      The first thing we should be doing for the election is engaging in the necessary spiritual work. In other words, this is a season where we Catholics should be praying and fasting for the good of our nation. We can accomplish no good deed without the help of divine grace, and prayer and fasting help to open up channels of grace in the world. We Catholics can obtain many graces for the good of our country. Because we live in a democratic republic, our vote is also important. It may not seem like much, one vote among so many millions, but it is our exercise of political power and it is a sacred duty – not one to be taken lightly. This exercise of political power is not for ourselves or for special interest groups, but for what is objectively good for our country. Therefore, we don’t vote according to our pocketbooks, and we don’t vote simply based on party affiliation. We vote according to the Truth as thinking human beings who follow the dictates of reason (natural law) and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (revealed law).

      As thinking Catholics we approach a political scene which does not completely reflect the Catholic position. Moreoever, two very prominent Senators who identify themselves as Catholics have greatly misrepresented the Church’s teaching in the media. And the bishops of the United States have responded to these misrepresentations in a statement by Cardinal Rigali of Philadelphia and Bishop Lori of Bridgeport. The Supreme Knight, Carl Anderson, has also published an open letter in many secular newspapers across the nation to one of those senators calling him to task for his position on abortion. How are we to navigate through the issues in voting for a new president, and how as your pastor can I help to clarify some of the political issues? Well, I think the image of a combine helps us. Through human reason, we can set up some “sieves of logic” which can filter the issues and candidates, and help to identify a candidate who most closely resembles the truth of the natural law and our Catholic faith for this would be what is objectively good for our country. There are two basic sieves, or categories, of issues. Not every issue holds the same weight as others.

      The first sieve screens the candidates on issues having to do with life itself; the second sieve screens the candidate on issues having to do with the quality of life. The first and most important category contains those issues having to do with life itself: that human life has an inherent dignity given by God from the moment of conception until natural death and would receive equal protection under the law. We cannot begin to talk about the quality of human life until we have first established life itself. To disregard the issues regarding life itself and to go directly to issues concerning the quality of life doesn’t make any logical sense. It is also important to remember that the issues that form the filter of the first sieve come to us from the natural law and are reinforced in the revealed law. In other words, we can know the truth of these matters through our human reason. It doesn’t matter whether we are Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim, agnostic, humanist or even atheist. If we exercise our rational capacity, we can come to know these non-negotiable issues having to do with life itself, and in the current political scene they are five: 1) Abortion; 2) Euthanasia; 3) Embryonic Stem Cell Research; 4) Human Cloning and 5) Homosexual “Marriage”. Why are they non-negotiable? Because they involve intrinsically evil acts that are never, under any circumstances permissible.

      So the issue of abortion is part of the mesh of that first sieve. Abortion is the deliberate killing of an innocent human life. In this country on average, more than 4,000 children are killed everyday by abortion. At the risk of sounding dramatic, I must tell you that even Hitler and Stalin cannot claim such numbers. Just to give you an idea, every day more children are killed in this country than in the 5-year war we’ve had in Iraq, as terrible as it is (about 4,200 US lives lost to date). War is always terrible, and I think most everyone believes we should be seeking a way to end it as justly and safely as possible. I have a stake in the war myself. I have a friend who just finished his third tour in Iraq; I know of another who in his first tour was clearing mines for a civilian area and things went terribly wrong. He never came home. War is terrible, but sometimes it can be justifiable, especially to stop on unjust aggressor. Abortion, euthanasia and the destruction of innocent children in the name of research (embryonic stem cell research) is never justifiable. Without the first category of life itself, we cannot guarantee any of the issues having to do with the quality of life. That first sieve must clear out the obvious stuff before reaching the second sieve. Life must first exist and receive protection by the law before any other rights are guaranteed. 

      The second sieve has to do with issue of the quality of human life, sometimes called “social justice issues” (although we should recognize that the right to life is the first right and issue in “social justice”). Once there is human life, then we talk about the important issues that help human life to flourish. These are important issues like immigration, health care, education, employment, fair trade, economic exploitation, the environment and other similar issues. Notice, however, that they have to do with the quality of human life. They flow from the first category; they presume that life already exists and is protected. Logically these issues cannot supercede the issues of the first sieve. As a thinking human being and as a thinking believer, these are the two logical sieves to help us sort through the issues as a thinking person and as a follower of Jesus Christ. With these sieves we can help to identify the candidate that most closely resembles the truth of the natural law and the revealed law among the available choices.

      The USCCB has issued voting guidelines in a document called Faithful Citizenship which is available online, and will be provided in the back of church. Like any document, it is open to interpretation. Recently the other bishop in Oregon, Bishop Robert Vasa, gave a talk at the national Catholic Leadership Conference in Charlotte, North Carolina, in which he clarified two important aspects of Faithful Citizenship. He noted that according to the document, a pro-abortion stance would disqualify candidates from consideration by faithful Catholics. He said, “When we were working on the document ‘Faithful Citizenship’, and the issue of whether or not a person’s adamant pro-abortion position was a disqualifying condition, the general sense was ‘yes that is a disqualifying condition’.” However, during the discussions mention was made of the letter written to the US Bishops by then Cardinal Ratzinger just prior his elevation to the pontificate which noted that Catholics may in good conscience vote for a politician who supports abortion in the presence of “proportionate reasons”. Bishop Vasa explained the notion of proportionate reasons. He says, “The conditions under which an individual may be able to vote for a pro-abortion candidate would apply only if all the candidates are equally pro-abortion.” He added: “And then you begin to screen for the other issues and make a conscientious decision to vote for this pro-abortion candidate because his positions on these other issues are more in keeping with good Catholic values.” In that case, he said, “It doesn’t mean that you in any way support or endorse a pro-abortion position but you take a look in that context at the lesser of two evils.” Notice, however, how a “proportionate reason” works. It only comes into play if the candidates are equally pro-abortion.

      But what about the relationship between abortion and another important issue like the war in Iraq? Let us reason it through with Bishop Vasa. “If we had a candidate in favor of a war in Iraq in which we decimate the entire population and we kill as many civilians to impose as much terror on everybody as possible, if that was in opposition to a pro-abortion person then we would have a real conflict of conscience. Why? Because you would have a direct and intentional killing of innocent persons on one hand and the direct and intentional killing of persons on the other hand. But we do not have that issue with capital punishment, and we don’t have that issue with the war in Iraq. In this election we do not have candidates with equally pro-abortion positions.”

      Through this logic, the logic of reason and the logic of faith, the first sieve would eliminate pro-abortion candidates from our consideration. Their position would not make it through the first sieve because these non-negotiable issues have to do with intrinsically evil acts. Abortion is always the direct killing of innocent human life. It is the defining issue for a rational person who understands the natural law; it is the defining issue for a Catholic who knows Jesus Christ and His revealed law. Certain acts and political positions are always wrong, and no one may deliberately vote in favor of them. Those with a direct vote (legislators) may not support these evils in legislation or programs. Those who elect politicians (citizens) indirectly support these evils if they vote in favor of candidates who propose to advance them. Abortion is the taking of innocent human life, and to support that and to vote for those who support it and promote it means that one takes at least indirect responsibility in the deaths of those children.

      Back in the last election in 2004, our own Archbishop Vlazny also clarified the issue of pro-abortion candidates and the reception of Holy Communion. He writes, “Let me say this. Catholics who publicly disagree with serious church teaching on such matters as abortion or same sex marriage should refrain from receiving Holy Communion. These women and men need to understand that what the reception of a sacrament means in the life of the church. The reception of Holy Communion is a sign that a person not only seeks union with God but also desires to live in communion with the church. Such communion is clearly violated when one publicly opposes serious church teaching.  Reception of Holy Communion by such public dissenters betrays a blatant disregard for the serious meaning and purpose of the reception of the Eucharist.” If you are struggling with these words, pray for illumination; pray for conversion.

      So we have our two basic “sieves of logic” to help us sort through this election and every election. We are rational persons who can know and follow the natural law, and we are Catholics who know, love and strive to follow the Lord Jesus. We have our rational combine to cut through and sort the political landscape. Jesus tells us today that it doesn’t matter whether we come to the harvest at the very beginning or in the twilight of the day. He wants us working there nonetheless, and will reward us with the “daily wage” he longs to give us, eternal life.

      I think we now live in a time when we have to choose. We have to choose between being a Catholic in communion with Christ and His Church and supporting a pro-abortion position. This I know is difficult for some people because some Catholics have never before been explicitly asked to choose. But now we have to choose between those two. We cannot adhere to both. St. Paul tells us that there is nothing in common between Christ and Belial. Now the request that we choose is an invitation to conversion. I don’t know about you, but the pro-choice position will not bring me to heaven. Jesus Christ will bring me to heaven. When we go to vote in November, I would ask that you think of final judgment that will determine our eternal destiny. We will be judged according to our deeds in this life. How do I want to stand before God and the millions of little children in His arms? I know when push comes to shove, I want to be where Jesus Christ is because for me “For me life is Christ.”  


Cihak, John, excerpts from a previously preached homily at St. John the Baptist,

      Milwaukie (23 May 23 2004).

Vasa, Bishop Robert. http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2008/sep/08091203.html

Vlazny, Archbishop John, “Public Dissenters Should Themselves Refrain from

      Communion,” Letter of May 6, 2004 [ecolumn@sentinel.org].

Vlazny, Archbishop John, “Political responsibility among Catholics”, Catholic

      Sentinel, 15 August 2008 (http://www.sentinel.org/node/9327).

USCCB New Missal Debate: Divine worship update By Archbishop John Vlazny

By Archbishop John Vlazny 

          As a member of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, I usually am a member or a consultant on some of our conference committees. This past year we downsized our operation considerably and bishops are encouraged to belong to no more than two committees. Presently I serve as Chairman of the Committee on National Collections and a Consultant on the Committee for Divine Worship. Even though I assumed these responsibilities only this past winter, it has been an interesting experience, especially on the Divine Worship Committee.

          Those of you who touch base with the Catholic press probably learned that we bishops had a rather public disagreement during our June meeting about the Committee’s recommendation that a proposed translation for the new Roman Missal be given our approval. In fact, it was not approved! The text at issue was the second of twelve units of material into which the content of the Roman Missal had been divided for the purposes of translation. The bishops approved the first section, the Order of the Mass, back in June of 2006. If all goes well, and it didn’t go very well this past June, we won’t even complete the new process until the fall of 2010. I encourage pastors to keep patching the aging Sacramentaries they are presently using, because the new Roman Missal, which is supposed to replace the present Sacramentary, won’t be ready for quite a while.

          In many ways we bishops are involved in a dispute that has plagued church governance almost from the very beginning. The same struggle was engaged after the Decree on Liturgy was approved during the Second Vatican Council. Who would oversee its implementation? Would this be the work of the Holy See? Or would local bishops have more of a say with respect to worship in their own territory?

          The process we are presently pursuing is fully consultative on the part of diocesan bishops and the Holy See. But it is also quite tedious because we are attempting to produce a text that will be used in eleven different nations. The United States is obviously the biggest and most influential, but we still must collaborate with our brothers in other English-speaking territories. The particular section we discussed in June had been sent in early 2006 by the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) to the English-speaking conferences of bishops, including the USCCB. We bishops reviewed the first draft of the Proper of Seasons and offered 550 particular suggestions for revisions. Our Committee on Divine Worship organized and summarized all of this and sent a report about our concerns to ICEL.

          What were some of the concerns? Well, questions were raised about the form of English-language conclusions to prayers, the use of certain words and phrases that we considered arcane, and also difficulties we foresaw in the proclamation and the memorability of some Latin prayers that had been translated into English by ICEL. ICEL then provided a second draft trying to maintain a balance between fidelity to the original Latin text and some of the problems that we noted in syntax and vocabulary in the translations presented to us. This second draft was then sent to the bishops this spring and only seven chose to offer further amendments. Hence it was a surprise that strong protests were raised on the floor of our recent meeting.

           In order for this second of the proposed twelve sections of the new Roman Missal to be approved, two thirds of the Latin church members of our USCCB must approve the recommendation and this must then be confirmed by the Holy See. Some of the bishops were already considering the possibility of asking for a translation that would be uniquely American and thereby separate ourselves from the ten other English-speaking countries of ICEL.

          In all fairness, I would say that two years ago I might have sided with those who were leading the protest. I was fearful that the expertise found in the local churches outside Rome was not being heeded. I knew that ICEL and the Congregation for Divine Worship in Rome had had its differences. But I also learned a lot more about the work of ICEL and the wonderful collaboration now taking place between the members of ICEL and a special committee which the Roman congregation has established to facilitate and expedite this important work of translating the Roman Missal from the approved Latin version into acceptable English. Our own Father Jeremy Driscoll, OSB, a monk at Mount Angel Abbey, works with Vox Clara, the Roman committee established by the Congregation for Divine Worship to deal with these matters. In addition to Father Driscoll, four American bishops have also been members of Vox Clara.

           All of these efforts continue in the church today because of a sincere desire to be faithful to the implementation of the liturgical renewal called for back on December 4, 1963 by the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council. In fact, there have been five subsequent instructions from the Roman Congregation to assist the local churches in the correct application of the teachings of the Council. The fifth instruction, promulgated on April 25, 2001, entitled Liturgiam Authenticam, prompted this present retranslation of the Missal and offered specific guidelines for these translations, somewhat different from guidelines that had governed the work of ICEL since 1969.

          In all of these matters it is important for us to remember that the celebration of the Eucharist is the central action of our Catholic community. When Jesus was to celebrate the Passover meal with his disciples wherein he instituted the sacrifice of his own body and blood, he gave some very specific instructions. The church has always considered his command as something she should take to heart when she gives directions about the many and varied details that are part and parcel of our Eucharistic celebrations. It is a true grace to be a member of a Catholic, “worldwide” church, but it is also a challenge at times, especially when we are called to collaborate with all our sisters and brothers in that which is most important to us, in spite of our differences.

          We all love the Eucharist. We feel its absence in priestless parishes across the globe. In today’s instamatic culture, we have little patience for prolonged deliberations. But the church and the Eucharist belong to all of us, those who have gone before us, Christians today and those who will come after us. Please pray that the Holy Spirit will continue to guide us in all these deliberations about the Eucharist which is the principal source of our nourishment and guidance on our faith-filled journey to heaven’s glory.

Source: Catholic Sentinel

Sacramental Integrity: Archbishop John Vlazny on Women Priests, Same-Sex Marriage, Inclusive Language, False Confession, Phony Anointings and Eucharistic Abuse

Sacramental Integrity

by Archbishop John Vlazny/Archdiocese of Portland, Oregon

At heart we Catholics are a sacramental people. The whole liturgical life of the church revolves around the Eucharistic sacrifice and the sacraments. These sacraments have both a visible and invisible reality. The visible reality is the way in which they are administered and received. The invisible reality is God’s grace, the precious gift of God by which we share in his life and through which he shows us the way to salvation.

Sacraments are not simply holy rituals that people of faith have devised over the centuries. We do have such actions but we refer to them as sacramentals. Holy water, blessings with ashes and veneration of sacred objects fall into this category.

Sacraments are different. Again, the Catechism of the Catholic Church instructs us that “the sacraments are efficacious signs of grace, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the church, by which divine life is dispensed to us.” The old Baltimore Catechism definition which many of us learned in our youth was even simpler, “Sacraments are outward signs instituted by Christ to give grace.” My generation will never forget that definition. The present generation may not be acquainted with any definition. No wonder there is confusion at times.

Because of this confusion and consequent uncertainty, all-too-often there are sacramental celebrations which lack integrity. In fact, many of them are not even sacraments. But their agents pretend they are and gullible people go along. Good Catholics become frustrated with us pastors who don’t speak up and condemn such practices. Most of us aren’t very good at condemnation because we know our own failings. But clarification about important matters is very much a part of the responsibility of us pastors. I would like to offer some clarifications.

In recent years the media has informed us about the so-called “ordination of women priests.” There are those who proclaim that it’s a matter of justice that women be allowed into the priesthood. Jesus was clearly an agent for justice in his time and he did not call women to the apostolic ministry as he did the twelve apostles. Priests share in that apostolic ministry with their bishops.


Certainly a woman can pretend to be a priest. There are also many men who pretend to be priests but who are not ordained validly, let alone legitimately. But because they claim to be priests and are talented and generous, many choose to accept them as priests and participate in their alleged sacramental celebrations. This is a serious blow to the sacramental integrity which is a hallmark of our church.

In recent times marriage as we know it has been challenged to the limit. People presume that civil marriage can be whatever civil society wants it to be in this present age of secularism and relativism. But that is not how marriage has been understood over the centuries both by civil society and by the church.

This matter is all the more significant for us Catholics because in our community marriage is a sacrament, the love of husband for wife mirroring the love of Christ for his spouse, the church. Even if civil society acknowledges same-sex marriage as legitimate, this is impossible for the church. Because we also see this as harmful to family life, we speak out against such civil marriages and we certainly work to preserve the integrity of sacramental marriage.

Recently the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome had to offer a clarification about Baptism. Because of the concern some folks had about exclusive language, there were actually some church ministers who were baptizing “in the name of the Creator and of the Redeemer and of the Sanctifier.” But that is not the form for the sacrament of Baptism. Remember! What is a sacrament? A sign of grace instituted by Christ and entrusted to the church. It is not entrusted to individual Christians. It is entrusted to the whole church under the leadership of its pastors. People who take these matters into their own hands cause problems for others. Sacramental integrity requires that ministers of the sacraments follow the rituals as defined by church authority.

Even the sacrament of Reconciliation has been too often misunderstood. I heard about a Reconciliation service where participants were instructed to go and confess their sins to any adult, priest or lay person. Yes, we can all confess our sins to whomever we wish but only an ordained priest is able to confer sacramental absolution. Confessing sins to a friend or neighbor may be helpful. But it is not a sacrament, not a sign which produces the effect of forgiveness from God through the action of the church.

The Anointing of the Sick is also something which is at times non-sacramental. Because priests are not always available, some folks take it on their own initiative to anoint sick persons as a sign of their prayers for healing. This can be a gracious gesture, one that leads people to a closer union with God at a difficult time. But it is not a sacrament. It is not that sacred sign entrusted to the church through which God confers physical, emotional or spiritual healing.

The celebration of the Eucharist is our central action as a Catholic people. Over the past forty plus years many changes have been introduced into the rituals of the church. Unfortunately, because some things changed, there were people who thought all things were about to change and they themselves would decide what to change. Other Catholics who do not appreciate the Novus Ordo, the new rite proposed by Vatican II, have chosen to participate in schismatic liturgical celebrations presided over by ministers not in union with the local Catholic bishop.

From the earliest days of the church, there has been a principle which defines integral catholicity, “ubi episcopus, ibi ecclesia.” In other words, the true church of Christ is one that serves the mission of Christ in union with the local bishop. A bishop is the chief shepherd, the chief catechist and the chief liturgist in the diocese. It is his responsibility to define sacramental integrity. His teachings may be challenged, but when they are clearly in union with those of the Bishop of Rome and the other members of the college of bishops, it is more than likely that the challenger is way off base.

In this local church it is my duty from time to time to insist upon sacramental integrity where abuses may occur. Overall, I am greatly impressed with the liturgical life of this local church. But I am also aware that there are those who think they can do things better and as a result cause great harm to the integrity of our sacramental life. When all is said and done, it is important for all of us to remember what the Catechism of the Catholic Church instructs, namely, that “liturgical services are not private functions but are celebrations of the church.” Enough said. I thank God for the good Catholic people among us and those who have gone before us whose good works and holiness are attributed to the power that comes from prayer and especially from the sacraments.

The Catholic Sentinel