Distinctly Catholic



Yesterday was the fifth anniversary of my mother's death. She died on the vigil of the Feast of St. Joseph, patron of a happy death and, indeed, her death copuld not have been more peaceful when it came. What preceded it was far from peaceful: She had been battling Parkinson's for years and then, in August of 2006, she and my dad were in a horrific accident in which she broke both arms, her neck and one leg. She never really recovered, and never spoke again, although after the first few days, she re-gained consciousness. She was certainly aware that I was at her bedside each and every day and that my dad, once he recovered from his injuries, was there each and every day for the entire day.

Obviously, the readers of this blog did not know my mother. But, you have come to know me, and mindful of e.e. cummings words - I am first the son of my parents and whatever is happening to him - I share the eulogy I delivered at my mother's funeral with you:

Eulogy for Claire McDermott Winters
Our Lady of Lourdes Church
25 March 2007, Feast of the Annunciation

Abp Williams To Resign


Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams announced today that he will be stepping down as the Primate of England by the end of the year. Williams is, by all accounts an extraordinary man with an extraordinary intellect and a deep faith. When he received the Campion Award from America magazine, Fr. Drew Christiansen, S.J. called Williams "a prophet to a post-Christian age." Williams and the Holy Father have developed an especially close friendship. He will be greatly missed.

Dillon on Contraceptives & Expectations


Dana Dillon's voice is one of the most provocative among the next generation of young theologians, and in this very thoughtful essay at CatholicMoralTheology.com, she looks at the way contraception raises expectations for women and their place in the world that they may not wish to raise. It is provocative and thoughtful, just the kind of essay we have come to expect from Dillon.

Evil In Our Midst


I think we can make an educated guess that more people in Syria were killed by their own government in hte past day, or week, or month, than in any other country. I confess I do not know what is to be done. But, I do know what is not to be done, and that is to support the Syrian regime in anyway. At the New Republic, Nick Robins-Early details how some American companies are doing precisely that.

Lapsed Catholics


A few weeks ago, I was at a dinner and one of the people present told me that she had stopped going to Mass. My heart sank. Lord knows, there are often good reasons for people to be frustrated with the Church, but, still, the thought of not going to Mass on Sunday is so incomprehensible to me that whenever I hear of someone leaving, I can’t get my mind around it and my emotional response comes to fore. It makes me very sad.

Sadness may be an appropriate feeling, but it is not a moral, still less an ecclesial, response to this phenomenon. Next week, on March 22 from 3-6 p.m. Catholic University’s Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies (where I am currently a visiting fellow) will be sponsoring a symposium on “Lapsed Catholics” to examine this sad phenomenon. The event is co-sponsored by Villanova University’s Center for the Study of Church Management.

RCIA Shout Out


Last night, I gave the talk on the Triduum for the RCIA at St. Matthew's Cathedral in Washington. I confess, whenever I talk about the Triduum, about putting ourselves into the event that is the Paschal Mystery, I get choked up at times. And, I also get choked up seeing all these people who want to join the Church: They put in lots of hours thinking about this, learning the catechism, and they are so enthusiastic. I know the neo-phytes think that it is us old folks in the Church who are giving them something by teaching them about the faith, but it is really they who give us old-timers a much more valuable gift: Their faith, in all its freshness, reminds us all that when we hear the Easter Gospel, and the words, "Why do you seek the living amonst the dead? He is not here," we must hear those words as words freshly spoken. So, thank you RCIA neo-phytes and sponsors. It was a joy to share a few hours with you and I look forward to witnessing your baptism at the Great Vigil.

Father Guarnizo Takes On Cardinal Wuerl


This morning's Washington Post contains quotes from Rev. Marcel Guarnizo, the priest who made headlines for denying communion to a woman at her mother's funeral because she was a lesbian. Late last week, he was stripped of his faculties by Cardinal Wuerl because of what the archdiocese termed "credible allegations" of "intimidating behavior" towards parishioners since the event.

Guarnizo not only challenges the woman's accounts of the underlying event. He challenges the archdiocese, arguing that no subsequent activity of his warranted his being stripped of his faculties and that this is all really about his initial decision not to give communion to Barbara Johnson. So, he is calling everyone, except of course himself, a liar. Nice.

The USCCB's Statement on Religious LIberty


The Administrative Committee of the USCCB, at the close of a two day meeting yesterday, issued a statement on the much-debated subject of HHS mandates and how those mandates are applied to religiously affiliated institutions.

The good news is that there was no extended metaphor about a ham sandwich. I do not say in this jest, although you are permitted to chuckle. The most relevant point of comparison for the statement issued yesterday is with the congressional testimony of Bishop Lori on this subject in the past few weeks. Certainly, the statement issued yesterday is an improvement, although it still has too much political and legal analysis and too little theology for my taste. And, its promise of continued negotiation with the White House, the lack of harsh “war on Catholicism” rhetoric, is all to the good.


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In This Issue

June 16-29, 2017