The Cardinal’s Column
Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I.
December 16Welcoming the Prince of Peace
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace …” The Gospel according to St. Luke puts these lyrics into the angels’ song at Jesus’ birth, and we repeat them in the Gloria at Christmas and at most Sunday Masses. The prophet Isaiah said that the Messiah would usher in a Kingdom of Peace, and Christians believe that peace is a sign of Christ’s presence.
December 2To young Catholics on the Feast of Christ the King
Sometimes while talking to young people who are Catholic I hear someone say, “I’m not sure what it means to be Catholic.”
November 18Martyrs of today
A visitor this past week came from Italy. Don Angelo Romano, the priest who is responsible for the church of St. Bartholomew on the Tiber Island, was passing through Chicago after giving a talk at a conference at the University of Notre Dame. The conference was entitled “Seed of the Church: telling the story of today’s Christian martyrs.”
November 4Witnesses to the faith in the Year of Faith
In recent weeks, Pope Benedict XVI has proclaimed as doctors of the church two saints noted not only for their holiness but also for their learning. One of these is St. Hildegard of Bingen, in what is now Germany. She lived from 1098, the year after the calling of the First Crusade to free the Holy Land from Muslim control, to 1179. Her teaching and writings have become better known in recent years, largely because the breadth of her learning reached to music and medicine, and her vision of the faith in daily life and in the political currents of her time make her a model of the discerning spirit that bears witness to the action of the Holy Spirit. An article about her by Avis Clendenen of Saint Xavier University will appear in the next issue of the Catholic New World.
October 21The wrong side of history
October is the month of the Most Holy Rosary, a devotion associated in modern times with the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Fatima in 1917, during the First World War. Mary asked for prayer and penance, which she always requests in these private revelations that echo the public revelation in the Gospel: “Repent, the kingdom of God is at hand.”
October 7The October 2012 Synod on the New Evangelization
Every three or four years, bishops from around the world gather with the Bishop of Rome, the Pope, to deliberate about a subject of importance to the universal church. The last ordinary Roman Synod of Bishops considered the Word of God in the life and mission of the church. I was a member of that synod, and we began several initiatives to renew and deepen our understanding of Holy Scripture in the archdiocese based on the synod’s deliberations. In the nature of things, these initiatives gather steam slowly, but some elements of the strategic pastoral plan relate to the concerns of the 2008 synod.
September 23Living in compartments
To mark the 10th anniversary of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, in which the U.S. bishops promised that any bishop, priest or deacon who had ever abused a child would not be permitted to minister publicly, the Archdiocesan Office for the Protection of Children and Youth recently organized and sponsored a Mass for healing (see coverage on Page 36). The Mass, like others before it, was celebrated at Holy Family Church on Roosevelt Road because the Archdiocesan Healing Garden is adjacent to the church building. It was a beautiful and moving occasion.
September 9Prayer and the work of Christians
I begin this column with a sense of profound gratitude to all those who have written or called or let me know they are praying for me as I enter into a lengthy chemotherapy treatment to destroy cancer in my body. My own prayers are full of distractions these days, and it is a great comfort to know that I can count on so many to keep my needs before the Lord. Because I am Archbishop of Chicago, the needs of this local church are more important than my own, and I hope that every prayer keeps that in perspective: We should pray for what is best for this archdiocese and its mission.
August 26On death and other limitations
Last week on Aug. 15, the church celebrated the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven. In his homily for Mass that day, Pope Benedict XVI preached this beautiful passage:
August 12Deporting illegal immigrants
A week ago I was at the detention center in Broadview. Each Friday, rain or shine, cold or heat, at 7:15 in the morning, a group of men, women and children gather at the center and pray the rosary in both English and Spanish.
July 29“Like sheep without a shepherd”
Each summer we follow the statistics on street violence, including killings in Chicago. This summer, the news of the killings in a movie theatre in Aurora, Colo., have brought additional shock. We have grown used to patterns of violence and, when incidents occur, there is an almost scripted response on the part of government officials and the media.
July 1The Dallas Charter, 10 years later
Last week, the National Review Board established by the 2002 “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People” gave to the U.S. bishops their report on the current implementation of the provisions called for in the Charter.
June 17The Body of Christ and the heart of Jesus
Celebrating the feast of Corpus Christi on June 10 and, five days later, the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus would not make sense if we had not first celebrated the great feast of Easter. If Christ is not risen, he cannot be present everywhere in his own body; the Holy Eucharist would then remain only a psychological memorial. Instead, Christ’s real presence under the forms of consecrated bread and wine draws us into the joy of his promise: “I will be with you always” (Mt 28:20).
June 3Memorial Day in a Catholic Cemetery 2012
This past Memorial Day, I celebrated the outdoor Mass at Queen of Heaven Catholic Cemetery on the South Side. It is right next to Mount Carmel Catholic Cemetery, where Archbishop James Quigley (1903-1915) built the crypt that holds the bodies of most of Chicago’s archbishops.
May 20Clarifying what’s at stake in the health care debate
Since 1919, the Catholic bishops of the United States have taught that universal access to basic health care is a component of the common good in a fair society. In the church’s teaching on social justice, concern for universal health care takes its place with concern that everyone have sufficient food and decent shelter and an opportunity for a job with a family wage.
May 6Living in the kingdom of God
Our political, social, ecclesial and often even our family lives seem divided and fractured these days. What the church puts together in a seamless way — respect for human life at every stage of development or vulnerability, justice for the poor and the migrant, condemnation of oppression and violations of human and religious freedom, the rejection of violence as a means of solving conflicts — fits into no political platform. Many seem purposely to create division or exploit divisions already separating people. The resurrection of Jesus from the dead, celebrated during the 50 days between Easter and Pentecost Sunday, is the antidote and the cure for the present impasse that destroys lives and separates people; but living with the risen Christ in the universal kingdom of God entails a huge shift in perspective, a displacement of the horizons that form habitual ways of living and thinking.
April 22Easter homily
The Gospel just proclaimed brings us to the scene of an empty tomb on the third day after Jesus’ crucifixion and death. We see and hear Mary of Magdala, John the Beloved Disciple, and Peter, the head of the 12 apostles. Each had been part of Jesus’ life before his execution; each had been part of the recent story of his passion and death.
April 8Through private suffering to public glory
Death and Resurrection, the story of Holy Week, is everyone’s story, a universal story. It is a story at all because Jesus, truly God and truly man, died to deliver from their sinfulness all those who would come to believe in him, and win for them eternal life. Our death will probably not be like Jesus’ death; crucifixion is no longer used to impose the death penalty, which, thank God, is now abandoned in Illinois and more and more rarely imposed anywhere. Our resurrection, however, will be very like his, although delayed until he returns in glory to judge the living and the dead.
March 25Dwell in my love…
As the church moves through Lent to Holy Week, phrases from Jesus’ farewell discourse to his Apostles in the Gospel according to St. John are proclaimed in church and recalled in our memory. The words are powerful and should resonate in our souls. “Dwell in my love,” we hear Jesus telling the apostles and us as well. Dwelling in love brings our inner experience into line with Jesus’ external command: “Love one another as I have loved you” (Jn 13:34).
March 11How would the Pope decide to vote?
The season of voter primaries is upon us in Chicago and elsewhere. Voting is a moral act, so considering how to vote requires moral deliberation. What are the principles and the issues that help a person of faith decide how to vote? Can the Pope be of help? Since the Pope is sovereign, the question of how to vote doesn’t apply to him personally. But the Holy Father’s Lenten Message for 2012 gives us the framework for shaping our thoughts and honing the considerations we should have in coming to a morally responsible decision on how to vote.
February 26What are you going to give up this Lent?
The Lenten rules about fasting from food and abstaining from meat have been considerably reduced in the last forty years, but reminders of them remain in the fast days on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday and in the abstinence from meat on all the Fridays of Lent. Beyond these common sacrifices that unite us spiritually to the passion of Christ, Catholics were and are encouraged to “give up” something voluntarily for the sake of others. Often this is money that could have been used for personal purposes and instead is given to help others, especially the poor.
February 12Bishop Wypych reflects on role of a bishop
Editor’s note: Cardinal George is in Rome for the ad limina visit with the bishops of Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin (see story on Page 5). He asked Auxiliary Bishop Andrew Wypych to write a column in his place for this issue.
January 29What’s in a name?
The third edition of the post-Vatican II Roman Missal now being used to worship God in the Mass has a wider choice of Eucharistic Prayers and Prefaces and includes the feasts of saints canonized in the last 20 years. It also restores to the liturgical calendar some feasts that had been dropped in the first and second editions of the Missal after the Second Vatican Council. Among these restored feasts is that of the Holy Name of Jesus, now celebrated on Jan. 3 each year. This restoration is important for the Archdiocese of Chicago, because the Holy Name of Jesus is the titular feast of our cathedral church and parish.
January 15Religious liberty and its discontents
In a TV interview on Christmas Day, I said that I feared the Chicago Gay Pride Parade this year might grow into a demonstration disruptive of Catholic freedom to assemble and worship God in the local parish church. My words surprised many and wounded others.
January 1Christmas homily, 2011
Welcome to the celebration of the Midnight Mass of Christmas! Together, we pause and pray, we gather and open our hearts to God’s love and the love of our families and friends. We open our hearts, as well, to all those whom God loves, to the world saved by the child whose birth we remember this night.