I recently sent a letter to U.S. Representative Mike Conaway (R – TX 11), offering my reflections on the across-the-board federal budget cuts that went into effect on March 1, 2013, also known as sequestration.
In the letter, I asked Rep. Conaway to craft a balanced, responsible, and thoughtful alternative to the sequester and urged him to draw a “Circle of Protection” around federal programs that help people at home and abroad lift themselves out of poverty.
I further presented these observations:
The continuing budget debate jeopardizes many programs that reduce poverty and help people live in a manner worthy of their human dignity. Sequestration will cause many mothers and their children to lose health and nutrition benefits; thousands of households to lose housing security; and thousands more around the world to be denied access to clean water and life-saving medicine.
In a period of persistently high unemployment and underemployment, sequestration will also eliminate job training for thousands of unemployed workers and reduce vitally important financial assistance for long-term unemployed people and their families.
Recently, close to 100 Christian heads of denominations and organizations--including three Catholic bishops and numerous other Catholic leaders-- sent an open letter to President Obama and Congressional leadership. They challenged Congress to return to respectful dialogue and find an alternative to sequestration that protects programs that serve poor and vulnerable people.
I support their effort and I signed the letter, because I agree that responsible deficit reduction can and must protect “these least ones” (Matthew 25) and create economic opportunities for them. In the words of the Catholic Bishops of the United States, “The Catholic way is to recognize the essential role and the complementary responsibilities of families, communities, the market, and government to work together to overcome poverty and advance human dignity” (A Place at the Table).
The Catholic Church is one of the world’s leaders in providing life-giving services to poor and vulnerable people at home and abroad. By crafting a bipartisan alternative to sequestration, Congress can help us reduce hunger and poverty by expanding opportunity and justice, promoting economic growth and good paying jobs, stabilizing family life, and protecting the well-being of children.
After further health medical consultation, I am happy to give you the good news that I am granting permission to restore the use of the Communion Cup at all of our masses beginning with Saturday, March 23, 2013. Please bring this announcement to the attention of our people. Thank you and may you have a grace-filled Lenten Season. God's peace.
By Jimmy Patterson
Editor / West Texas Angelus
I am not a scholar. Nor a theologian. I have occasionally had thoughts of being a deacon one day, but for now I simply sit in the pews next to a billion other people. When all of us heard the news that Jorge Mario Bergoglio had been elected pope Wednesday, replacing the brilliant theologian Benedict XVI, most of us likely did not have an immediate response. Like the many millions who sit with me in those pews, I had to be told who he was, where he was from and what his charism was. Google was no doubt atwitter yesterday with exorbitant numbers of people checking out who this Pope Francis guy was.
It would not be long, though, before we would all learn much about him. Humble. Loves the poor. A Jesuit. Takes the bus to work as a cardinal. First Latin --- ... wait! What? A cardinal who takes the bus to the chancery every day? Now, there's something we hadn't heard before. When we learned these things our collective response was, yes, please, by all means, lead us. Renew us. Show us how to walk in Christ's footsteps with the humility he instructed us all to possess.
My Protestant friends and family have been most kind and indulgent, clicking "Like" wherever and whenever necessary as I went on about “the new guy,” and it is in those small gestures that we exhibit not just our tolerance but our acceptance of the myriad faith practices in this world. Clicking the "Like" button can truly be a tiny example of God's grace.
There are no doubt many well-meaning Protestants who have spent these past couple of days saying, "I don't get it? What's the big deal?"
So, here's the big deal:
-- First the obvious: Pope Francis is our Church's spiritual leader. He is a lot like your pastor, only with a much larger congregation. He is chosen not only for his ability to govern and preach, but to show us The Walk. We can all talk (and talk, and talk), yet not as many of us billion Catholics can walk the way we should. And so the leader of the world's Catholics sheds light on how it should be done as handed down by God and his Son.
So many people in this world have chosen other kinds of leaders to guide them in their daily walks, and secularism's grip grows with each passing hour. If these "things of the world" had their druthers, they would all join together to bring down our pope. And your pastor. And our churches. And your Sunday night fellowship. And our Wednesday night visitations. And your meals with the elderly. And our Christmas in Action project. Not just mine. Everyone's. That's why it is important to look to a responsible and godly leader rather than one who will be today's secular savior and tomorrow's mug shot on Entertainment Tonight.
-- Your church, in comparison to mine, is small. Mine is often hard to wrap your arms around because of its enormity. That's why we have a pope. To give us the unity that we all enjoy in smaller churches around the world; churches that are just like yours. The only difference is that within the next few days, a picture of Pope Francis will hang in every Catholic Church on the planet. Through the direction and guidance Catholics receive at individual Churches, or parishes, our priests serve as our pastors, ministers and spiritual directors. People just like those who lead Protestant churches.
-- Every day, Catholics remember that we believe in one holy, catholic and apostolic church. The word "apostolic," too, explains a lot. The Church views the Pope as a direct apostolic descendent of St. Peter. Or, the Apostle Peter as you may refer to him. One after another — 266 times since Peter (aka The Rock) — the papacy, with its discipleship and witness to Christ, has been handed down from one pope to another, all the way through Francis. That's another reason it is such a big deal.
-- Yes. We have our problems. We have hope, as there always is with new leadership, that those problems will be righted. And so we remain prayerful today. The honeymoon for Pope Francis will not last long. By tomorrow, perhaps even today, you will begin hearing stories about his "radically conservative agenda" and his stances on the hot-button issues our society faces. I am left only to know that I would rather be guided through those issues by a descendent of Peter rather than by the anchor of the week explaining to us all how we need to change to fit the societal mores of the day.
We would all do well to seek the guidance and example from the Gospel and the traditions that followed, which have stood the test of 2,000 years as opposed to a view so fleeting and changing that you have to go to a search engine to find out what popular culture is espousing with each passing week.
The stability of our faith is about all we have that remains reliable. With the new pope, it should be our duty, whether Catholic or Protestant to, in the words of Pope Francis, “Go out.”
"Go out and share your testimony. Go out and interact with your brothers. Go out and share. Go out and ask. Become the Word in Body as well as in spirit," the former Cardinal Bergoglio said as archbishop of Buenos Aires.
To all my Protestant friends, I assure you it is the hope of all Catholics that under this new leadership, you will see and hear good things about us and the way we practice our Christian faith.
In Pope Francis' words, "We have to avoid the spiritual sickness of a self-referential church. It's true that when you get out into the street, as happens to every man and woman, there can be accidents. However, if the church remains closed in on itself, self-referential, it gets old. Between a church that suffers accidents in the street, and a church that's sick because it's self-referential, I have no doubts about preferring the former."
Those are words from a Catholic pope that should apply to all Churches, both yours and mine.
Go out. Be kind. Share with others the light your walk can provide.
That is why this news is so important.
“This joyful phrase we use to proclaim as of March 13, 2013, we have a new Pope for the Catholic Church – Pope Francis, SJ, who is replacing Pope Benedict XVI, who retired several weeks ago because of age and related issues. It is with great joy that I, as Bishop of the Diocese of San Angelo, received this news, and I know this is also a special joy among all the people of the Diocese and throughout the Catholic world as for many other people on planet earth.
“As Pope Francis begins his new shepherding of the universal Church, I, along with the people of the Diocese of San Angelo pledge our loyalty to him and assure him of our prayers. We thank him for accepting. Pope Francis stands as the figure of unity for all Catholics wherever they reside. This is a new beginning for our Catholic Church and a time for all of us to recommit ourselves to living our Catholic faith with new joy, confidence, new meaning and in a new spirit of service to others, striving always to promote justice and peace in our world and especially reaching out to the poor and needy.”
Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, archbishop of Argentina, a Jesuit, has been elected Pope Francis I, has been elected by the College of Cardinals as the successor to St. Peter, the 266th leader of the Roman Catholic Church. He is the first Jesuit, the first Latin American, the first Pope of the Americas and the first Pope Francis.
New pope to appear on balcony at St. Peter's square within the hour. Will publish details as they are made available.
Lubbock, Texas will be the first of only three cities in the United States to host an exhibit featuring artifacts of the life of Blessed John Paul II.
The Blessed John Paul II Exhibit -- "I Have Come to You Again" will open at the Diocese of Lubbock’s Catholic Renewal Center at 4620 Fourth Street in Lubbock on March 15. National Exhibits Association announced the debut in November 2012.
“We are very blessed to be able to host this exhibit in Lubbock,” Most Rev. Plácido Rodríguez, CMF, Bishop of Lubbock
said. “So much work has gone into the preparations, and we are very happy to be a part of it.”
Professor Francesco Buranelli, the Secretary of the Pontifical Commission of the Cultural Patrimony of the Catholic Church from the Vatican City State, is serving as curator and historian. Rev. Malcolm Neyland, M.C.L., J.C.L., Executive Director of the National Exhibits Association is coordinating the venue.
The exhibit will include a Relic of Blessed John Paul II. Rev. Malcolm Neyland, a Diocese of Lubbock priest and executive director and president of the National Exhibits Association, said the blood-stained shirt John Paul wore when he was shot in 1981 in St. Peter's Square will be displayed.
The artifacts, from the Vatican collections and the Pope John Paul II Center in Krakow, will be divided into four sections. The four sections include artifacts and art from the childhood and adolescence of Karol Wojtyla (1920-38), his years as a laborer, priest, bishop, archbishop and cardinal in Poland (1939-78), his tenure as the Catholic Church’s first Polish pope (1978-2005), and a reflection on the years since his death in 2005 through his May 1, 2011, beatification.
“Never before has the church offered this many artifacts of a pope,” Rev. Malcom Neyland, said. “This collection represents the empowerment of John Paul II’s spirit, and it will bring deep insight to many things about this extraordinary man.”
Tickets are available for "I Have Come to You Again." Visit www.catholiclubbock.org and follow the link for more information on the exhibit and for ticket information, or call 1-800-585-3737 or visit www.startickets.com
Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for senior citizens 60 years old and over, and $10 for students. A $5 Interpretive Audio Tour will also be available and may be purchased in advance by calling 1-800-585-3737. There is no admission fee for children less than 5 years old, but a ticket is needed to attend.
Group tickets may be purchased for $10 each for groups of 20 or more people. Group tickets may be purchased by calling 1-800-585-3737. To plan a group visit to Lubbock, contact the Lubbock Convention and Visitors Bureau by calling 1-800-692-4035 or visiting www.visitlubbock.org
The exhibit will be open from 9 a.m. – 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 12 p.m. – 7 p.m. on Sundays. The exhibit will be in Lubbock from March 15 through May 31, 2013 at the Catholic Renewal Center. Citibus will offer service from the S-1 parking lot on the Texas Tech campus to the Catholic Renewal Center, visit www.nationalexhibits.org
By Francis X. Rocca Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Cardinal electors assembled in Rome will begin voting for the next pope March 12.
Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, announced the date for the start of the election, known as a conclave, in a message to reporters March 8.
The first session of voting inside the Sistine Chapel will begin in the afternoon, following a morning Mass "Pro eligendo Summo Pontifice" ("for the election of the supreme pontiff") in St. Peter's Basilica.
Rules governing papal elections state that a conclave must start between 15 and 20 days after the Holy See falls vacant; but shortly before his resignation Feb. 28, Pope Benedict XVI issued a decree allowing cardinal to move up the start date if they choose.
The College of Cardinals decided the date on the fifth day of its pre-conclave meetings, after waiting for the 115 cardinals eligible and expected to vote. The last to arrive in Rome was Cardinal Jean-Baptiste Pham Minh Man of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, who joined the others March 7.
At the morning session March 8, before announcing the scheduled vote, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, told the assembly that with the changes made by Pope Benedict, the cardinals would not have to debate on whether they were authorized to begin the conclave before March 15, Father Lombardi said.
During the same session, the cardinals chose 87-year-old Cardinal Prosper Grech, a Maltese expert in the early church fathers, to give the meditation at the beginning of the conclave.
The Vatican spokesman said that 18 cardinals spoke during the morning session. As people around the world observed International Women's Day, one of the cardinals spoke about the role of women in the church.
Other topics included interreligious dialogue, bioethics, the church's role in promoting justice, collegiality in the church and the need for the church's evangelizers to proclaim God's love and mercy.
Contributing to this story was Cindy Wooden.
DIOCESE ANNOUNCES CLERGY REASSIGNMENTS
-- Fr. Prem Thumma is assigned parochial vicar at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton-Odessa with its mission of Our Lady of San Juan-Odessa effective March 4, 2013
-- Fr. David Herrera is assigned as parochial vicar at St. Stephen’s-Midland to do weekend ministry from March 18, 2013-June 30, 2013. Then effective July 1, 2013 assigned pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe-Midland.
-- Fr. Joey Faylona is assigned as pastor at St. Mary’s-San Angelo effective March 18, 2013
By Jimmy Patterson
There was good news and bad news at the 2013 Diocesan Conference Day, February 9, at the San Angelo Convention Center.
First the bad news: The winter storm that entrapped the northeast like a locked freezer spread its wrath a half-continent away February 9 when Sister Maureen Sullivan, OP, the scheduled guest presenter at Diocesan Conference Day, was unable to travel because of the storm.
The good news is that the 369 registered conference attendees were equally receptive to the presentation provided by Dan Mulhall. Mulhall is the Director of Consultant Services for RC Benziger, one of the sponsors of Conference Day and for more than 40 years a supplier of Religious education tools, books and materials to dioceses across the country.
Mulhall spoke predominantly of change: the change of our country and the change that was necessitated in the Church because of that secular change.
“The Second Vatican Council did not change the world,” Mulhall noted. “The world had already changed and Pope John XXIII called the council because he recognized theat the world was in fact changing tremendously. We as a Church had to understand that the world was changing tremendously.
Pope John XXIII, while not necessarily a visionary, Mulhall said, was intelligent and saw the changes wrought by World War II, in which he served. Those changes, the pope knew, were now leading the Church to ask itself: How do we as a Church proclaim the gospel when our traditions and values are no longer assured?
“John believed fuindamentally that all Christians should be united and that God would speak to all members who listened to and heard his voice. His question was how could a church so completely entrenched in its current model -- since the 4th century -- introduce God’s word to a modern world?”
Mulhall’s solutions to help us to better spread the word today are four-fold. We must:
-- become Scripture solid;
-- share the faith with others;
-- accept the call to do the work of the Lord,
-- and witness to young people.
Mulhall also said only 13 percent of parishioners at the average Catholic Church are engaged in their parish. Perhaps his most revalatory point during the day long session dealt with giving witness to young people.
“A National Study of Youth in Religion shows there is a one-on-one correlation from adult to young people and whether those young people will have faith themselves. That means if one adult who has faith shares that faith with one young person, that young person is one time more likely to develop faith. If there are five adults witnessing to one young person, that young person is five times more likely to develop his own faith. Twenty adults? Twenty times more likely.”
Photo: Sue True, left, and Margaret Robson, of St. Stephen's Church in MIdland, share at the annual Diocesan Conference Day February 9 in San Angelo.