Tag Archives: Catholic

Over 1,000 Catholic Educators to Participate in Faith Conference

BRISTOL — On March 28 and 29, more than 1,000 Catholic school educators in the Archdiocese of Hartford will gather at Saint Paul Catholic High School in Bristol for the Catholic Educators Faith Conference, which will include faith formation, and a series of discussions on current issues important to Catholic school education.

Archbishop Henry J. Mansell and Superintendent of Catholic Schools Dale R. Hoyt will present service awards and certificates to more than 200 teachers and administrators who are marking milestone anniversaries, or who have completed a rigorous course of studies, in the Catholic faith. Over 170 teachers will receive recognition for ten or more years of service, including eight who will be recognized for 40 years of ministry; and 44 educators will receive certificates for having completed a prescribed course of study through the University of Dayton’s Virtual Learning Community for Faith Formation.

Hoyt values the chance to acknowledge these elementary and secondary educators saying, “Besides the opportunity to enhance the educators’ faith formation, we recognize the significant contributions and accomplishments of Catholic school educators at this conference.  It is through their teaching, role modeling and commitment that we graduate students prepared to become productive, virtuous citizens, and church leaders who will fashion a more humane and just world.”

Conference attendees will enjoy a keynote address by Rev. Michael J. Dolan, Vocation Director for the Archdiocese, as well as music presented by St. Paul Catholic High School students, including SPLASH, a praise rock band and CANTATA, a select group of vocalists.

Mansell will celebrate Mass on both days of the conference.

Previously known as the Teachers Institute, the Catholic Educators Faith Conference was initiated 106 years ago by Rev. Patrick J. McCormack, former Supervisor of Schools for the Diocese of Hartford.

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Bishops’ point man on ‘religious liberty’ gets a promotion

By David Gibson
Religion News Service

Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport, Conn., testifies on President Obama's proposed contraception mandate before the House Committee on Government Oversight and Reform. RNS photo courtesy House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight.

BRIDGEPORT — If there is any Catholic bishop in the U.S. who probably didn’t need a bigger platform, it would be William E. Lori, who was named Tuesday (March 20) by Pope Benedict XVI as the next archbishop of Baltimore.

For the past decade, Lori has led the Diocese of Bridgeport in Connecticut’s Fairfield County, but in recent months he’s become the public face of the hierarchy’s new signature issue: the fight for “religious freedom.”

It’s a fight that has defined Lori’s career — and is likely to define the public face of the church in the months to come.

In political terms, Lori has been tasked with coordinating the bishops’ opposition to the White House’s birth control mandate as well as opposing gay marriage and a host of other hot-button controversies.

Last September, Lori was tapped to lead the bishops’ new Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty in order to sharpen the bishops’ message and raise their profile after years of playing defense in the clergy sexual abuse scandals.

In recent months, Lori has testified in Congress three times, and the bishops’ fight with the White House has dominated the headlines and even seeped into the 2012 presidential race.

“To tell you the truth, I feel a sense of urgency about it,” Lori said, with some understatement, in an interview a few days before his promotion. “But at the same time it’s a work that’s important and fulfilling and I enjoy it.”

Quiet and soft-spoken, Lori nonetheless brings a single-minded focus to defending sacred principles while also deploying the kind of double-edged humor that a religious leader needs to do battle in the public square. He can be sharp to the point of sarcastic but also self-effacing in regards to his own career.

“They say timing is everything,” Lori said with the quiet laugh of a man who tends to see the irony and absurdity of so many aspects of modern life.

Now, with the move to Baltimore — the oldest archdiocese in the U.S. — timing is again Lori’s ally. At just 60 years old, his new post will put him that much closer to the action, and now he’ll have a papal imprimatur to bring with him.

Unlike the gregarious Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, who is president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Lori is slightly-built and almost shy. He likes nothing more than reading history, and loves books so much that he named his pair of sibling Golden Retrievers “Barnes” and “Noble.”

“I am dialed-down quite a bit from Cardinal Dolan, no doubt about that,” Lori said during an interview in the chapel at Sacred Heart University.

Lori learned the virtue of hard work from his immigrant family, especially his Sicilian grandfather, who arrived in America in the depths of the Great Depression and managed to launch a successful fruit and vegetable store. Born in Louisville, Ky., and raised in nearby Indiana, Lori watched his grandfather work in his garden until he was 87, and it was a lesson he never forgot.

“I’m happy, and I love working,” he said. “Happiness and hard work go hand in hand.”

It was also a lesson Lori took to the seminary, and it paid off. After studies in Kentucky, he earned a master’s degree from Mount Saint Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md., and was ordained in 1977. He earned his doctorate from Catholic University five years later, and after a brief stint as an associate pastor in suburban Washington, he went to work for the late Cardinal James Hickey of Washington.

Lori wound up working for Hickey for 18 years, serving in a variety of posts and learning even more about what it meant to work hard: “There are two words that I feared most at 10:00 at night from the cardinal: ‘Second wind.’ That would mean you were going until one in the morning.”

In 2001, Lori was appointed to Bridgeport. Knowing that he could be made a bishop, he says he checked to see which dioceses had vacancies, and saw two: Bridgeport and Fairbanks, Alaska. “I said a little prayer that it might be the former. I’m just not that good at ice fishing and flying a Cessna,” he said.

Within months, Lori was facing two huge crises: the 9/11 attacks that claimed many of his new flock, and the clergy abuse crisis that has continued to dog the hierarchy.

While Lori is known for his orthodoxy on doctrine and social issues, he was praised by many for taking a hard line in dealing with abusive priests, and in dealing with subsequent financial scandals that emerged. On the other hand, Lori also fought all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court to keep documents on private settlements with victims — reached before he became bishop — sealed. He argued his case on religious freedom grounds, but eventually lost.

But two other episodes helped shape his outlook. One was a proposal by a pair of state senators to change the structure of Catholic parishes to have lay people, rather than priests and bishops, in charge. Critics suspected it was legislative mischief prompted by Lori’s vocal opposition to Connecticut’s gay marriage law.

Lori rallied the state’s bishops and thousands of Catholics in a public campaign against the bill, which died fairly quickly. But it provided a template for Lori’s current national approach.

“If it’s just bishops speaking, in a democracy, we understand that as charming and as reasonable and as innately delightful as we all are, we’ll have a better chance for a hearing when there’s a lot of people out there saying, wait, this is a problem.”

Another case, however, showed that Lori also knows the value of a strategic retreat. In 2007, Connecticut mandated that all hospitals provide emergency contraception to rape victims, a mandate that Lori and the other Connecticut bishops resisted much as they have the White House’s current contraception mandate.

Within months, Connecticut bishops said they had undergone “an evolution in thinking” and now believed that the Plan B pill would not necessarily cause an abortion and so could be used at Catholic medical facilities.

Lori says the decision was a prudent one, based on the facts, and that the current Obama mandate is different because it includes other pills that are closer to abortion, as well as sterilizations. Despite the White House’s assurances, he also doesn’t believe that compromise proposals will not force the church to pay for contraception.

In that view of President Obama, Lori is voicing skepticism shared by the bishops but not necessarily their flocks. That sort of disagreement is the kind of thing that really gets his “dander up,” as he said in explaining why he wrote a “nippy” response to an editorial in the Jesuit magazine America that had critiqued the bishops’ wisdom in the religious freedom battle.

“I felt that an ironic — some would say sarcastic — little piece was a knife to cut through the fog,” Lori said, relishing the memory of the exchange. “I enjoy a good piece of writing that has a bit of an edge to it, and other people do, too. We’re all big boys and girls.”

Lori believes that exuding joy as a bishop, not to mention displaying a sense of humor, is key to preaching the gospel. But if Lori’s approach and sense of humor isn’t to everyone’s liking, he insists that too much is at stake to let personal feelings get in the way.

“Once you have preached the principle that a government can define a church and tell a church what to do, well, it could tell us about contraception today, it could tell us about abortion tomorrow, and physician-assisted suicide the day after that. It is the principle of the thing,” he said.

“We certainly have to speak reasonably and civilly. But we also have to speak prophetically. And sometimes prophets are thought to be strident.”

Bishop hopes to restart White House contraception talks

By DAVID GIBSON
c. 2012 Religion News Service
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (RNS) The Catholic bishop leading the push against the White House’s contraception mandate says the bishops hope to restart contentious talks with the Obama administration, but cautioned that church leaders “have gotten mixed signals from the administration” and the situation “is very fluid.”
Bishop William E. Lori of Bridgeport, Conn., who chairs the religious liberty committee of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, told Religion News Service that Catholics have to stay united if the hierarchy is to have any chance of prevailing in negotiations with the White House.
Ever since President Obama bowed to growing pressure and shifted the mandate to provide contraception mandate to insurance companies and away from religious employers, the White House has been hosting talks with various religious groups about a plan to modify the regulation.
Catholic institutions like hospitals, universities and social service agencies are most directly affected by the regulation because they are the biggest faith-based employers. They have also been much more amenable to the Obama accommodation than have the bishops.
Many bishops are upset with Catholic groups that have dealt independently with the administration, and some have also accused the administration of trying to divide the church.
“I think the hardest thing is that the administration deals with us in a segmented way,” said Lori, who has testified before Congress three times in opposition to the mandate.
“If there is really going to be a solution to things, we ought to all be in the room,” he said.
Lori said the bishops “do not have a monopoly on the church” but are nonetheless “responsible for a large part of how this works and for the Catholicity of all the institutions. So there ought to be an attempt to have an inclusive conversation with the Catholic Church, and not a segmented one. And I think that is in part why we are in a fairly unhappy spot right now.”
Lori and some 40 other leading bishops will meet in Washington on Tuesday and Wednesday (March 13-14) for discussions expected to focus on relations with the White House and, in particular, the contraception mandate.
Lori said that the bishops “are not looking for a fight with the administration.” The bishops, he said, “are painfully aware that it is awfully difficult, in an election year and in the culture we have now, to have that conversation” about birth control.
“Are we doing it perfectly? No, of course not. But that’s certainly our intent.”
He reiterated earlier criticisms by New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, president of the USCCB, who charged the administration with acting peremptorily in negotiations, and with wielding statements from Catholics that are critical of the bishops’ stance.
Administration officials have rejected those charges, and say the White House “has sought the views of bishops on resolving difficult policy problems, only to be rebuffed.”
Lori said that if there are “the conditions for the possibility of success,” then the talks can move ahead.
“All of us want to have a civil and productive conversation here,” he said. But he agreed with Dolan that “it isn’t looking good, and that’s too bad.”
Lori said that barring an advance in talks with the White House, the bishops see hope of modifying or overturning the contraception mandate through the courts. He added that rallying Catholics “and public opinion in general” around the theme of religious freedom remains the church’s best chance for changing the mandate through legislation or by giving the bishops political leverage.
One problem for the bishops, however, is the shifting and unsettled political terrain. Thanks in large part to the ugly comments about women and contraception by conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh and others, public opinion seems to be swinging in favor of the administration’s policies.
Congressional Republicans seem less eager to push legislation against the mandate, and the White House is exploiting this shift by courting women voters by reiterating the president’s support for contraception coverage and abortion rights.
Lori noted that “there are points of agreement” between the administration and the bishops, such as on the need for health care reform.
“I think if we see the whole relationship only through the lens of the … mandate, we will probably get a skewed view of it.”

Students to Receive iPads and interactive white boards at Catholic school

Wikipedia photo

TORRINGTON — St. Peter / St. Francis School in Torrington, will announce its plan to rollout a comprehensive technological education program during a celebration in the school’s gymnasium on March 8.

Each of the school’s sixth, seventh and eighth graders will receive the use of a dedicated iPad, opening up a world of educational opportunities to them. According to Principal Jo-Anne Gauger, Apple has made great strides in creating applications for education, and has a variety of textbooks available. In addition to the iPad technology, every classroom (pre-k through 8) will be equipped with an interactive white board, which will give students the opportunity to interact with the content of the lessons electronically.

Gauger says that the faculty will be trained in the new technology in order to have the greatest, most positive impact on the students’ learning. The entire school is in the process of being equipped with Wi-Fi access. The technology will be up and running for the students at the beginning of the 2012-2013 school year.

The celebration of the announcement will be attended by Superintendent of Catholic Schools Dale R. Hoyt, Retired Auxiliary Bishop Peter A. Rosazza, a graduate of St. Francis School, along with the entire student body, staff, parents and parishioners. Refreshments and a pep rally are planned.

The technology program is being funded through the partial use of three large bequests to the school including a gift from Father John Castelanni, the first principal of St. Peter School. In his will, he left a portion of his estate to the school. Maureen Shugrue, a longtime educator in Torrington also left a bequest to both St. Francis School and St. Francis Parish, and Frances Ducci, a longtime trustee and finance council member of St. Francis parish made a substantial donation to both the parish and the school.

According to the Rev. Christopher Tiano, the pastor of the Torrington cluster of parishes, who was instrumental in implementing the program, the bequests were put aside by the parish and school administration in order to invest in the future of the school. The cost of the project is approximately $90,000.00.

“This is an extremely exciting project, one that was supported by our school board, and received the approval of Archbishop Henry Mansell. I think it will put our school in the forefront of education in Litchfield County and beyond,” said Tiano.

For information on St. Peter/St. Francis School, visit: www.Spsfschool.org.

Lori’s Kosher Deli

By Mark Sillk
Religion News Service

Mark Silk

As noted in this space, some Catholic thinkers have been favoring us with some serious theologizing as they make their respective cases for how to respond to the Obama Administration’s contraception coverage mandate. And then there’s the Most Rev. William E. Lori, Bishop of Bridgeport, CT. Yesterday, His Excellency showed up at Rep. Darrell Issa’s religious-opponents-only hearing on the mandate to deliver himself of the Parable of the Kosher Deli, an exercise of the analogical imaginationfit to make David Tracy wish he was a Protestant.

The parable imagines a new government order requiring kosher delicatessens to sell pork. The Orthodox Jews are up in arms, and the thing limps along in rough parallel to the current tale of the mandate. Yes, the government adjusts the policy a bit, but this now affects the kosher meat suppliers, and they’re not happy. You get the idea. What’s interesting about Lori’s little jeu d’esprit is not how inept the analogy is, however, but how a proper Parable of the Kosher Deli would prove the opposite of what he’s seeking to demonstrate.

In fact, the rules of kashrut forbid Jews from eating pork, not selling it or otherwise being involved in its provision. No doubt, a mandate to sell pork would be resisted by the deli owners, but the point here–and it’s not a trivial one–is that Orthodox Jews have no objection to non-Jews eating pork, or to doing anything to help them to do so.

 Read full post here.

Mansell: Health Care Insurance Mandate Declares War on Religion

On WJMJ, Catholic radio, Archbishop Henry J. Mansell stated that, “Some would say that the war on religion was formally declared,” when the federal government passed the health care insurance mandate requiring that all employers (with few exceptions) pay for health coverage that covers sterilization, contraception, and medication that induces abortion – all practices that go against Catholic moral teachings.

“This development runs clearly in the face of the Bill of Rights, providing in its First Amendment freedom of religion. Never before in the history of the United States has the federal government forced citizens to pay for health insurance that violates their religious principles,” said Mansell.

The archbishop made his feelings known during a two-hour broadcast moderated by the Rev. John Gatzak, general manager of WJMJ, on Wednesday evening.  He said that Catholic relief services, colleges, universities, schools and hospitals would be impacted. He noted that 16 percent of the nation’s hospitals are run under the auspices of Catholicism.

“If this goes through, we would have no Catholic hospitals or Catholic charities, said Mansell.

The archbishop was joined by Michael Culhane of the Connecticut Catholic Public Affairs Conference, the public policy and advocacy office of the Catholic Bishops in Connecticut.

“This is an affront to our religious liberties,” said Culhane.

Listeners flooded the broadcast with phone calls voicing their comments and questions. An 82-year-old woman called to say that she was appalled by what was happening. In her lifetime, she couldn’t remember the government being so intrusive. A caller from Meriden said that all religions have to band together, because there is “strength in numbers,” while an atheist commented that although he didn’t practice a religion, he certainly believed in the Constitution of the United States. And, while some are viewing this as a controversy over contraception, Vincent McCarthy, a constitutional lawyer, called in to say that the mandate was clearly unconstitutional, because “It is forcing the Catholic Church to pay for policies that they believe are wrong.” “I see this going all the way to the Supreme Court,” he said.

Mansell and bishops across the nation are urging people to call their local legislators in opposition of the mandate. “Votes make the difference,” he said.