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 18, 2010 when a Centennial Mass was celebrated in honor of St. Margaret of Scotland (Waterbury) Church.
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This editorial first appeared in Our Sunday Visitor, a national Catholic newsweekly based in Huntington, Ind. It was written by the newspaper’s editorial board.

The Vatican announced Jan. 25 that Pope Francis will travel to Sweden in October to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the start of the Reformation, which begins in 2017. The event will be ecumenical in nature, and Pope Francis will be joined by leaders of the Lutheran World Federation and other representatives of Christian faiths. According to Vatican Radio, the event will “highlight the important ecumenical developments that have taken place during the past 50 years of dialogue between Catholics and Lutherans.”

In the 50 years since the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council, the church has made great advancements in terms of ecumenical and interreligious dialogue. They continue today, both at the Vatican level and also here in the United States.

For Pope Francis, ecumenical dialogue continues the pattern of his predecessors, especially Saint John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI. John Paul greatly advanced Christian unity, establishing the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and issuing the encyclical “Ut unum sint” (“On commitment to ecumenism”). Pope Benedict carried on this effort toward unity, both outside of and within the church, urging the commitment of all.

“The full and visible Christian unity that we long for demands that we let ourselves be transformed and that we conform ever more perfectly to the image of Christ,” Pope Benedict said. “The unity we pray for requires an inner conversion that is both common and personal. It is not merely a matter of cordiality or cooperation, it is necessary above all to strengthen our faith in God, in the God of Jesus Christ, who spoke to us and made himself one of us.”

Pope Francis brings ecumenism to a personal level. During the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity at the end of January, Pope Francis called the “sins of our divisions” an “open wound in the body of Christ.” Modeling the way, he, too, asked “for mercy and forgiveness for the behavior of Catholics toward Christians of other churches, which has not reflected Gospel values.” He encouraged all Catholics at the same time to forgive other Christians who may have at one time offended them. “We cannot cancel out what has happened, but we do not want to let the weight of past faults continue to contaminate our relationships,” he said. “God’s mercy will renew our relationships.”

Christian unity has a natural tension, and to ignore it would be to make light of some very real challenges. Pope Benedict’s careful teachings reminded the church that, while dialogue between faiths is critical, it’s essential for this dialogue to “aim at something more than a consensus regarding ways to implement practical strategies for advancing peace. The broader purpose of dialogue is to discover the truth,” he said. While the church is a strong proponent of ecumenism, it also must be honest. The challenge is to continue to find points of convergence, while at the same time honestly recognizing differences. The church desires a unity, but unity must rest in truth.

All signs point to ecumenism as a main theme of Pope Francis’ pontificate in 2016 and beyond. For Catholics in the pew, in a more practical way, ecumenism is a challenge, but a challenge first presented by the Lord himself, “that all may be one.” This mindset is especially needed as affiliation with religion continues to drop in both the United States and Europe. Now is the time for people of faith to band together in prayer and to work together in friendship and faith.

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.