Catholic Transcript Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

As we celebrate the 175th Anniversary of the Archdiocese, we look back… on July 22, 1960 when ground was broken for St. Philip Church, East Windsor.
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“Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel,” says St. Paul (1 Cor 9:16). You and I believe in Jesus Christ because Catholics over the last 2,000 years have not failed to hand on the Christian faith. Christ has been “preached,” as St. Paul says, and not just in words but in the “living gospel” exemplified by believers, including our own ancestors, relatives, friends and associates (and hopefully us, too), whose lives bear witness, even heroic witness, to Jesus and the truth of the Gospel.

The Christian faith has been handed on not only by individual believers, but by the very society and culture of peoples for whom the faith was part of their ethnic or national identity. Many things we take for granted in Western civilization were profoundly shaped by Judeo-Christian faith, whether it be the arts and sciences, political life and law, our calendar and customs, even our very names. You could say that traditional culture was not only evangelized, but also evangelizing. 

Today in our Western world, we witness the dismantling of this older social culture, a separation of secular culture from the practice of religion and the destruction of a certain balance between the social and religious dimensions of the human person. Religion is relegated to the private sphere, and is even blamed for oppression and conflicts. Christian beliefs are no longer formative of culture, and no longer have a decisive influence on the arts and sciences, public life or moral and ethical issues. Blessed Pope Paul VI said, “The split between the Gospel and culture is undoubtedly the tragedy of our time.”

A world which builds its culture without reference to God, and chooses to become what Pope Francis describes as “self-referential” eventually becomes an inhuman world, a spiritual desert.

If our world is to be truly human, and not a spiritual desert or a technical machine; if it is to be a place of justice and peace where human beings can flourish spiritually and morally, as well as materially; and if the world is to be redeemed for eternal life, then we have to rise to the challenge. To use one of Our Lord’s own images, we cannot let the Gospel “salt,” which preserved the world from corruption, get trampled underfoot. Nor can we let the light of Christ be hidden under a bushel basket. To us, he says: “You are the salt of the earth … You are the light of the world!” (Mt 5:13 ff)

Today, there is a new urgency for each of us to be personally engaged, to profess the faith, in fullness and with renewed conviction, confidence and hope. How and when and where we do this is determined by our state in life. The laity, in particular, are called to live their faith “in the world” in all the circumstances and endeavors of life, beginning with the family.

What the Gospel brings cannot be reduced to an ethical humanism or a mere philanthropy. Those who live a kind of secular humanism — ethically and charitably — may not be far from the kingdom of God, but only Christ, in all his mysteries, is the kingdom. He is “the way, and the truth and the life,” and he continues to teach, sanctify and shepherd his flock, in fullness, in his holy Catholic Church. To those people who are sincerely searching, you and I are called to be “good angels” of grace, inviting them into the fullness of that truth.

The unfamiliar word “evangelization” should not put us off. Evangelium is the Latin (and Greek) word for “gospel,” which is the old English word for “good news.” Evangelization simply means sharing with others the “Good News” of Jesus Christ. 

Evangelization cannot be reduced to being a crusader against a godless world. There are many positive values of American culture that, rightly understood, can lead people to the Gospel, such as equality, freedom, openness, participation in decision-making, communication and social responsibility. People need to understand that Christian faith is not opposed to these values — or to human happiness. As Pope Francis often points out, the Catholic faith is not a list of prohibitions, but Gospel truths that lead to human flourishing in this life and in eternity.

If we believe that Jesus is the world’s savior and that the Church is his sacramental Body, and if we really love our neighbor, we will want to bring that “Good News” to everyone we meet. That’s the evangelization for which we need to work and pray.

alertAt the Spring Assembly of the U.S. bishops, Cardinal Joseph Tobin suggested that a delegation ofbishops go to the border to see for themselves what was happening to newly arrived immigrants, families and children. On July 1 and 2, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. bishops conference, and five other bishops conducted a pastoral visit to the diocese of Brownsville, Texas. Stops included Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle with the community, a visit to anHHS/OBR Shelter and Mass for the families there, a visit to the Customs and Border Patrol processing center in McAllen, TX, and a press conference at the end of their visit. Catholic News Service accompanied the bishops on their border trip. 

  1. Backgrounder and analysis of the bishops’ trip to the border: Cardinal DiNardo told CNS, “You cannot look at immigration as an abstraction when you meet” the people behind the issue.
  2. At final press conference, Cardinal Daniel Dinardo said the church was willing to be part of any conversation to find humane solutions because even a policy of detaining families together in facilities caused “concern.”
  3. Bishops serve soup to immigrant families at a center run by Catholic Charities and listen to their stories. Scranton Bishop Joseph Bambera said he found hope in hearing the people in the room talk about what’s ahead. They didn’t speak of making money but of finding safety for their children, he said, driven by “the most basic instinct to protect your family.”
  4. At an opening Mass he Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle-National Shrine near McAllen, Texas, Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville told Massgoers, “The bishops are visiting here so they can stop and look and talk to people and understand, especially the suffering of many who are amongst us,”

A delegation of U.S. bishops goes on a fact-finding mission at the U.S.-Mexican border to learn more about Central American immigration detention.

Following their visit to an immigrant detention center, U.S. bishops said they are even more determined to call on Congress for comprehensive immigration reform.