We’ve been back for a little more then a week from World Youth Day, but the many wonderful experiences we enjoyed there will be long-lasting in our memories – probably even for a lifetime – for our young people who attended. I thank all of you who contributed in some way to make this possible for them. They have been sharing many of their memories with family and friends and will continue to do so for a long time to come. Thank you, Jesus, for a safe and unforgettable pilgrimage!
Our trip began in Germany, took us to Salzburg in Austria for a “Sound of Music” tour along with an overnight stay in a 900-year old monastery. Then we drove through the Czech Republic to enter Poland, where we lodged for the next 3 nights in the Catholic Youth Retreat Center that was built by my friend, the late Archbishop Zimowski. We offered Mass for him at the high altar near his tomb in the same Cathedral where he was consecrate bishop in 2002, by Pope Benedict XVI. Then, we visited Warsaw, the National Shrine of Our Lady (the Black Madonna) in Częstochowa, Auschwitz, the Shrine of Divine Mercy and St. Faustina’s tomb, the Royal Castle and Cathedral in Kraków, and the renown salt mine of Wieliczka. We also enjoyed kayaking on the Pilica River and a 11-mile raft ride on the Dunajec River separating Poland from Slovakia. I think the highlight for so many was seeing Pope Francis ride by in his “popemobile” as close as 15 feet away. We also saw/heard him at rallies in the parks of Kraków. The closing Mass was attended by hundreds of Cardinals and bishops, thousands of priests and religious, and 1.5 million people, all enthusiastically singing and praising the Lord during the Mass on a hot, sunny day. You’ll find pictures elsewhere in this bulletin.
Our new seminarian, Marc Gustinelli, who travelled with us to Poland, began his studies this week at St. John Vianney Seminary in Miami. Please pray for him, that God will steer him faithfully toward the priesthood he so earnestly desires and keep him close to Himself.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * An Associated Press story that ran in newspapers nationwide on July 7, is greatly misleading in saying that the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Philadelphia, Charles Chaput, “is closing the door opened by Pope Francis to letting civilly remarried Catholics receive Communion, saying the faithful in his archdiocese can only do so if they abstain from sex and live ‘as brother and sister.'”
The Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Francis, issued on April 8, states, “There are no changes to Canon Law or Church doctrine introduced in this document.” Impromptu in-flight press conferences on an airplane, as well as apostolic exhortations and footnotes, ‘by their very nature’ are certainly not vehicles for introducing or even amending legislative texts or making dogmatic pronouncements.
The Bible clearly teaches about the proper disposition to receive Holy Communion in St. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians, where he wrote, “Whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself (1 Cor 11:27-29). This biblical teaching is reflected in canons 915-916 of the Catholic Church’s Code of Canon Law.
So, the guidelines issued by Archbishop Chaput are certainly correct when they say, “Every Catholic, not only the divorced and civilly-remarried, must sacramentally confess all serious sins of which he or she is aware, with a firm purpose to change, before receiving the Eucharist. . . . With divorced and civilly re-married persons, Church teaching requires them to refrain from sexual intimacy. This applies even if they must (for the sake and care of their children) continue to live under one roof. Undertaking to live as brother and sister is necessary for the divorced and civilly re-married to receive reconciliation in the Sacrament of Penance, which could then open the way to the Eucharist.” This applies not only in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, but in each and every diocese of the land, as it does throughout the universal Church.
Catholics in these circumstances, therefore, have a free choice: if they persist in sexual activity outside of valid marriage, they must refrain from taking Holy Communion; if they wish to receive Holy Communion, they must refrain from sexual activity outside of valid marriage. The latter may seem impossible to those steeped in our sex-saturated culture, but “with God, all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).
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Please keep me in your prayers as I finally undergo foot surgery this week. I will be “out-of-commission” for the following week or two; then comes the rehabilitation. This will give me more time to pray for you and your needs as well as for success in our Capital Campaign.