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Krakow’s new archbishop talks St. John Paul II and Divine Mercy

February 1, 2017 CNA Daily News 0

Rome, Italy, Feb 1, 2017 / 03:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The archdiocese that once sent St. John Paul II to the papacy has a new archbishop: Marek Jedraszewski. The archbishop has special memories of the sainted Pope and the Divine Mercy devotion he brought to the world.

“Thanks to Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, later St. John Paul II, the message of mercy became very important for the world. And this is a message really close to Pope Francis, too,” Archbishop Jedraszewski told CNA.

Krakow is a major center of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy devotion, based on private revelations of Jesus Christ to St. Faustina Kowalska. It hosts Sister Faustina’s convent and a shrine dedicated to Divine Mercy. St. John Paul II was himself a devotee and a popularizer of the Divine Mercy.

But the devotion itself began in the Archdiocese of Lodz, Archbishop Jedraszewski’s previous assignment.

“It is really symbolic that I am coming from Lodz, where the Divine Mercy devotion began, to Krakow, where the devotion flourished. In the Lodz cathedral, Sr. Faustina saw Jesus who told her to enter the convent in Warsaw. The beginning of her spiritual life started in Lodz.”

For this reason, he added, “I feel committed to prolong this mission of mercy in Krakow, even to welcome all of the people coming to Krakow to pray over Sr. Faustina tombs, and actually touch the places Sr. Faustina lived.”

Archbishop Jedraszewski leads the archdiocese that at one time was headed by Cardinal Wojtyla, elected Pope John Paul II in the 1978 conclave. The archbishop recalled his friendship with the late Pope.
 
The new archbishop of Krakow said that their relationship started back in 1975, when he was living at the Polish College in Rome to study philosophy at the Pontifical Gregorian University.

“Cardinal Wojtyla used to come often to Rome, and stayed at the same college,” he said. “Cardinal Wojtyla was really interested in young Polish students, he spent much time with them, and so he did with me,” he recounted. “As I was studying philosophy, a subject he was very fond of, there were many possibilities to talk and discuss with him about philosophy.”
 
After Cardinal Wojtyla was elected Pope, Archbishop Jedraszewski kept a personal correspondence with him, “in particular when I was appointed bishop, since John Paul II always wanted Polish bishops who passed in Rome to spend a lunch or a dinner with him.”
 
The installation Mass of Archbishop Jedraszewski came in a favorable moment for Polish Catholicism. The latest figures of the Polish Church’s yearbook show a slight increase in the numbers of Sunday Mass attendance, as well as the number of communicants. About 40 percent of Poles attend daily Mass, while about 17 percent receive Holy Communion each Sunday.

The research also stressed the strong commitment of lay people in the Church. In Poland there are some 60,000 organizations involving about 2.5 million people.
 
Archbishop Jedraszewski told CNA that World Youth Day 2017 was “a convincing testimony that Poland cannot be considered a de-Christianized country.”

He noted that the statistics indicate growth not only in the traditionally devout southern Poland, but also in Lodz, a “highly secularized area.”

He concluded that “in the end, we may say that there is an increase of faith in Poland. On the other hand, it is true that challenges given from the secularizing trends are big.”
 
Archbishop Jedraszewski raised the issue of secularization with Pope Francis, during the Polish bishops’ meeting with the pontiff July 27. During that meeting, Pope Francis stressed the danger of gender ideology.

The archbishop also saw this approach to gender as a threat. He said Benedict XVI had affirmed gender theory as more dangerous than Marxist and Communist ideology because “it breaks with the anthropological vision of what the man his according the work of the Creator God.”
 
“God created the man as male and female, while gender ideology does everything possible to cancel differences between man and woman,” Archbishop Jedraszewski said. “This is absurd from a biological point of view, and it does not deals just with the human being: gender ideology has dramatic consequences in social life and in current culture.”
 
In the end “we cannot be open to this ideology, that is profoundly against God the Creator and against everything Christ himself taught us.”

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No Picture
News Briefs

How to watch the Super Bowl with a clean conscience

February 1, 2017 CNA Daily News 0

Washington D.C., Feb 1, 2017 / 01:59 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Super Bowl Sunday. It’s as American as apple pie, but in recent years, controversy has erupted over the beloved American pastime and – considering the risk it poses – whether or not the game of football is even worth it.

Whether one is a devoted football fan, or only watches once a year, Super Bowl Sunday holds a place as a major event for people across the country. However, some say that aspects such as commercialism, graphic content, and the life-changing injuries sustained by players should make Catholics think critically about the game they’re seeing, even as they cheer on the teams before them.

“I love football and in fact it would be difficult to find someone who loves football more than I do,” said Charles Camosy, professor of ethics at Fordham University. He even credits football for his existence, given that his parents met on a train to the Notre Dame-Alabama Sugar Bowl game in 1973. 

But despite his love for the game, Camosy said there are a variety of potentially troubling aspects about the Super Bowl. From the often lewd commercials and halftime show to the sometimes cult-like intensity of the fans and violence of the game itself, viewers must take care in how they view the Big Game, he said.

“The key is to be hyper aware of what this is, what you’re doing, and where you stand,” Camosy told CNA. “Be aware that we need to resist those things. Even call it out as you’re watching.” 

While the Super Bowl is the most-watched television event in the U.S., there is growing concern that behind the screen and underneath the helmet, the brains of the players competing in the Super Bowl are sustaining potentially life-altering damage. 

Within the past decade, researchers at various institutions have noted a link between repetitive brain trauma sustained in football – including hits that produce no immediate symptoms – and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. Also known as CTE, the degenerative brain disease triggers progressive brain damage, and symptoms include memory loss, impulse control, depression and progressive dementia. The mental health problems created by CTE have also been linked to suicidal thoughts and attempts by former professional football players. 

CTE has been found in 96 percent of NFL players whose brains were submitted for a 2015 analysis by the Department of Veterans Affairs and Boston University. The disease was also found in 71 percent of all football players – including high school players – whose postmortem samples were submitted for research.

This risk for life-changing brain damage, Camosy said, is “built into football.” 

“There are certain things built into football, at least the way we play the game now, that aren’t built into soccer” and other sports, he suggested. 

“Given what we now know and given how central violence is to the game, that gives another reason perhaps to resist this.” 

Camosy has written several essays on the morality of America’s football culture. He suggests that it is “morally problematic” to support a game that is so deeply intertwined with violence and connected to long-lasting damage for those who partake in it.

He pointed to the criticism voiced by Church Fathers including Tertullian for the Roman gladiator games and the Christians who went to see them. In his treatises, Tertullian slammed the games’ idolatry, the justifications for their bloody nature, the public’s addiction to watching them, and the violence of the matches themselves.

Many of these criticisms of the gladiatorial games, Camosy continued, are relevant to the way football is played today. “We prefer not to look at the violence. We somehow make it compatible with the non-violence Jesus calls us to,” he said.

Chad Pecknold, a professor of Historical and Systematic Theology at The Catholic University of America, had a different perspective.

While the gladiatorial games of the Roman Empire and American football today have some similarities – and can provide insight into the respective cultures that created them – there are also important differences, he said.

Most obviously, imminent death was a prominent characteristic of the gladiator games, in a way that is not characteristic of football.

“The Roman gladiatorial games were a by-product of war, and in this sense they were a potent cultural expression of Rome’s ‘lust for domination,’” Pecknold said.

While theologians such as St. Augustine taught that in some circumstances, the violence of war could be justified, they criticized Rome’s approach to war and found that when the “horrific violence” of war was turned solely into entertainment in the gladiatorial games, that the games “were more pernicious than war itself,” he continued.

American football, Pecknold suggested, does not carry the exact same significance the early Christians cautioned against.

Still, he said, there is reason for caution with football.  

“I am not sure if we should worry about football in the same way that the early Church fathers worried about gladiatorial spectacle, but we should pay attention to how easily the goodness of sports can be disordered.”

Both Camosy and Pecknold acknowledged positive aspects to the game of football – including the God-given athletic talent, strategy and teaching of virtue, as well as the game’s ability to bring together families and communities. 

“If it can serve the common good of the family, the neighborhood, the community, then it’s really terrific and we should thank God for it,” Pecknold said.

But that affection can quickly become disordered and occupy a disproportionate place in people’s lives, he cautioned. And the commercial aspect of football, which grows out of the economy, can also be concerning because of what it reflects about the culture.

Ultimately, he said, when approaching the Super Bowl and its content, “Christians can watch football with a clean conscience, but they might want to turn off the halftime show.”

Camosy agreed that it is possible to watch the Super Bowl with a clean conscience, but suggested that Christians avoid being drawn into the negative elements, perhaps by openly “(making) fun of the commercials and what the half-time show is all about.” He also warned Catholics who watch the Super Bowl to be wary of their own focuses and care for the game, and to be careful, when cheering for teams, “that we don’t create another source of ultimate concern here – that this isn’t another god.”

And Catholics should speak up about the violence that plagues the game, Camosy said.

“What I call for is a similar kind of shift that happened almost a hundred years ago,” he said, recalling Teddy Roosevelt’s reforms to the game when college students were dying during matches.

“Leave the good – get rid of the bad.”

This article was originally published Feb. 6, 2016.

[…]

No Picture
News Briefs

Boy Scouts accepts gender identity as new standard for admission

February 1, 2017 CNA Daily News 0

Dallas, Texas, Jan 31, 2017 / 05:19 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Citing legal and community changes, the Boy Scouts of America have said self-declared gender identity now determines youth eligibility for its scouting programs. The move could add new difficulties for Catholic sponsors of scout troops trying to adapt to the organization’s relatively new policy on homosexuality.

“Starting today, we will accept and register youth in the Cub and Boy Scout programs based on the gender identity indicated on the application,” the Boy Scouts of America said Jan. 30.

The statement said its local councils will “help find units that can provide for the best interest of the child.”

The statement said Cub Scouting and Boy Scouting are “specifically designed to meet the needs of boys.” In previous years, the organizations have used individuals’ birth certificates to determine whether they are eligible for single-sex programs.

“However, that approach is no longer sufficient as communities and state laws are interpreting gender identity differently, and these laws vary widely from state to state,” the statement said.

The new policy comes after a transgender child in New Jersey was asked to leave the Cub Scouts late last year. The child’s pack was hosted by Immaculate Conception parish in Secaucus. The child had told CNN that “it’s not fair because my friends get to do it, but I can’t.”

CNA contacted the National Catholic Committee on Scouting for comment but did not receive a response by deadline.

The Boy Scouts of America had announced in July 2015 that it would adopt a non-discrimination policy allowing homosexuals to be scout leaders and volunteers. The decision promised that churches with objections to homosexual behavior could set their own standards for affiliated organizations.

Bishop David Kagan of Bismarck, himself a former boy scout, in summer 2015 reluctantly told his North Dakota diocese to disaffiliate from the Boy Scouts of America due to the legal risks and the moral confusion its leadership policy could cause for Catholics.

He said the policy could risk lawsuits for church-sponsored troops that attempt to hold their leaders and volunteers to Catholic moral standards.

Bishop Kagan lamented the goals of those who sought the policy change to “redefine what is acceptable and unacceptable in society.”

At the same time, the bishop suggested that the Boy Scouts of America would not be able to defend the previous policy in court given trends in the American legal system.

However, Bishop Robert Guglielmone of Charleston, a leading member of the National Catholic Committee on Scouting, had recommended “cautious optimism” towards that policy change, voicing hope that Catholic churches could still use Boy Scouts of America programs in a way consistent with Church teaching.

He said Catholic-chartered scouting units are “the only way we can have a direct influence” on Catholic youth involved in scouting.

At the same time, the bishop acknowledged there is no way Catholics can control the material in Boy Scout programs, merit badge material, and its Boys’ Life magazine.

Bishop Kagan recommended alternatives to the Boy Scouts, enumerating the Federation of North American Explorers, the Columbian Squires, and Trail Life USA. He also recommended alternatives to the Girl Scouts, listing American Heritage Girls, Little Flowers’ Girls Clubs, and the Federation of North American Explorers.

There are about 2.3 million members of Boy Scouts of America groups between the ages of 7 and 21. President Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of State, Rex W. Tillerson, is a past national president of the Boy Scouts of America and served on its executive board in 2013 when it voted to lift the ban on homosexual scouts, The New York Times reports.

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History

A papal tutor of heroic virtue

February 1, 2017 George Weigel 0

On January 20, Pope Francis authorized the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to publish decrees acknowledging the “heroic virtues” of six men and one woman: two diocesan priests, three priests in religious orders, the […]