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The faithful venerate the Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe in the sanctuary after an annual Mass for the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe on Dec. 12 at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Hartford. 

Archbishop Leonard P. Blair was the celebrant.

The archbishop also blessed the image, which was carried into the cathedral by members of the Grupo Guadalupano, an organization of Mexican Americans. (Photo by Aaron Joseph)

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Luke Nugent, a student at St. Rita School in Hamden, takes part in the international initiative called Hour of Code on Dec. 11 at the school.

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Faith and Evangelization Congress attendees browse through materials in the hallways at St. Paul Catholic High School in Bristol on Nov. 15. (Photo by Maria G. O'Donnell)

BRISTOL – The Archdiocese of Hartford Office of Religious Education and Evangelization (OREE) presented its annual Faith and Evangelization Congress on Nov. 15 at St. Paul High School in Bristol. This year’s theme was titled “Making God Known: Sharing the Stories of Faith.”

20141222cnsbr7338 webPope Francis greets U.S. Cardinal Raymond L. Burke, patron of the Knights and Dames of Malta, during an audience to exchange Christmas greetings with members of the Roman Curia ll at the Vatican Dec. 22. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis' Christmas greeting to the Vatican bureaucracy this year was an extended warning against a host of spiritual ills to which he said Vatican officials are prone, including "spiritual Alzheimer's," "existential schizophrenia," publicity-seeking, the "terrorism of gossip" and even a poor sense of humor.

Shawnee award 4495 a webShawnee Baldwin (Photo by Jack Sheedy)

Shawnee Baldwin, coordinator of youth and young adult ministry for the Office of Religious Education and Evangelization, was honored with a regional leadership award Dec. 6 from the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry.

20141216cnsph042 webMother Mary Clare Millea, superior general of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, speaks at a Dec. 16 Vatican press conference for release of the final report of a Vatican-ordered investigation of U.S. communities of women religious. At right is Archbishop Jose Rodriguez Carballo, secretary of the Vatican's Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – The apostolic visitation of U.S. communities of religious women, though initially met with some resistance, ended up promoting a greater sense of unity in the church and helped the women become more aware of how God is working in their lives, said the prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.

"May the self-assessment and dialogue sparked by the apostolic visitation continue to bear abundant fruit for the revitalization and strengthening of religious institutes in fidelity to Christ, to the Church and to their founding charisms," said Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz, the prefect, at a Dec. 16 news conference at the Vatican.

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HAMDEN – Sacred Heart Academy students recently toured nearby Sacred Heart Manor to learn if a career in a construction-related field was right for them.

20141212cnsbr7179 webA man carries a large statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe during a celebration in her honor in Mexico City Dec. 10. (CNS photo/David Agren)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Preceded by a procession of flags from the nations of the Americas and the recitation of the rosary in Spanish, Pope Francis and thousands of Catholics from across the Atlantic celebrated the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe in the Vatican.

coats webTwo boys are fitted with jackets at the Knights of Columbus Coats for Kids distribution on Nov. 28 in New Haven

NEW HAVEN – As many headed out to shop on the day after Thanksgiving, hundreds of area children received a free and much-needed gift as the Knights of Columbus distributed new winter coats to children in need at seven sites throughout Connecticut on “Black Friday,” Nov. 28.

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MsgrLiptak_TNEven "the Catholic Left" (the phrase is not mine) is expressing outrage about President Barack Obama’s "war on the Catholic Church." An op-ed piece in the 24 Jan. Wall Street Journal included the President of Notre Dame University, which awarded the United States President with an honorary degree not too long ago. He has reportedly manifested "alarm" for the way Mr. Obama is now "shamefully" treating "those Catholics who went out on a limb" for him.

Retired Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles wrote in his blog that he cannot "imagine a more direct and frontal attack on freedom of conscience."

The issue here is obviously most grave. Morality directly reflects doctrine, and Catholics especially affirm the truth of Sacred Scripture as read within the Church. No administration has ever dared to trample so overtly on the First Amendment, which in part safeguards the innate right of religious freedom.

George Washington’s unforgettable words are quoted by New York’s Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, in another recent (25 Jan.) WSJ op-ed article:

"The conscientious scruples of all men should be treated with great delicacy and tenderness; and it is my wish and desire that the laws may always be extensively accommodated to them."

The Archbishop also cites the great James Madison’s admonition:

"Conscience is the most sacred of all property."

Direct abortion, which is primarily a right-to-life topic, is, in Catholic doctrine, thoroughly evil; no justification is possible. To require a Catholic to help fund such a procedure is profoundly repugnant to her or him. Nor can such barbaric duress be tolerated by Constitutional reference. Indeed, the argument goes in the very opposite direction, as the U.S. Declaration of Independence proclaims in the first paragraph.

Mandatory insurance costs for sterilization and contraception, both birth prevention modalities, are also crude violations of religious freedom. Since when are Catholics required to pay for contraceptive procedures or means that are morally unacceptable in conscience?

Surely this "latest erosion of our [America’s] first freedom," argues Archbishop Dolan, "should make all Americans pause. When the government tampers with a freedom so fundamental to the life of our nation, one shudders to think what lies ahead."

How "ObamaCare" impacts religious liberty is an issue that will not – indeed, cannot – fade away; it is too explicit and deep an assault on human dignity. It is an assault about which faith and reason warn us many times over. That it could occur in a pagan society, wherein human dignity is minimized, is somewhat understandable. But for it to happen here, in the United States of America, is incomprehensible, especially since our great nation has a unique Constitution, which secures the God-given right of religious freedom.

What is especially disturbing about reported versions of "ObamaCare" is that the federal government itself is intruding into an area in which it totally lacks not only jurisdiction, but also competence. Many a martyr has been made by a similar intrusion; St. Thomas More, the Patron of Lawyers, is a classic example. Efforts to compel conscience, we tend to think, belong largely to the past, however; but certainly not within our great nation, many of whose original colonies were literally established as sanctuaries for conscience; e.g., Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Maryland.

Again, though, isn’t America still a home where conscience is respected by the government; where, indeed, religion is at the base of our Way of Life? As Will Herberg argued in his highly influential book, Protestant-Catholic-Jew (1955), "German unity, it would seem, is felt to be largely racial-folkish, French unity largely cultural; but neither of these ways is open to the American people, the most diverse in racial and cultural origins of any in the world. Americans believe in religion in a way that perhaps no other people do. It may indeed be said that the primary religious affirmation of the American people, in harmony with the American Way of Life, is that religion is a ‘good thing,’ a supremely ‘good thing,’ for the person and the community."

Here the famed Professor Herberg (whose lectures I had once hoped to hear while working on a doctorate at a university in central New Jersey; he became ill and died shortly after my arrival there) cited President Dwight D. Eisenhower:

"Our government makes no sense unless it is founded in a deeply felt religious faith…" Eisenhower was convinced that the "three great faiths" of our land were really affirming the same thing about the "spiritual ideals" and "moral values" holding up, as it were, the "American Way of Life."

To threaten these noble ideals and values constitutes an unprecedented abomination.

As Archbishop Henry J. Mansell wrote in his column in our last issue, "the future of all of us and our country as well is at stake." (Feb. 2012, p. 2)

 

Msgr. David Q. Liptak is Executive Editor of The Catholic Transcript and censor librorum for the Archdiocese of Hartford.

Events Calendar

December 2014
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12:00 AM
Knights of Columbus Museum, New Haven, New Haven, United States
The Knights of Columbus Museum’s 10th annual Christmas crèche exhibition, “Buon Natale: Crèches of Italy,” opened Dec. 1 and remains on view until Feb. 1 with [...]
Date :  December 22, 2014
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03:15 PM
Cathedral of St. Joseph, Hartford, Hartford, United States
There will be a children's concert at 3 p.m. and children's Mass at 4 pm at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Hartford.
04:00 PM
Holy Family Retreat Center, West Hartford, United States
Masses will be celebrated at 4 and 5:30 p.m. Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, at Holy Family Retreat Center. They [...]
05:30 PM
Holy Family Retreat Center, West Hartford, United States
Masses will be celebrated at 4 and 5:30 p.m. Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, at Holy Family Retreat Center. They [...]
11:00 PM
Cathedral of St. Joseph, Hartford, Hartford, United States
A Sacred Sounds Concert for Christmas Eve, "Bach at the Cathedral," will be performed at 11 p.m. Dec. 24 [...]
11:59 PM
Mass will be clelebrated at midnight at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Hartford.
Date :  December 24, 2014
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