Saturday, September 26, 2009

Me, too

From the dotCommonweal blog:

The Movement That Moves Me

Posted by Gregory Wolfe

I believe it was Matthew Boudway who a few weeks ago posted a couple quotations and asked us to guess who had penned them.

One of the two struck me forcefully. A brief excerpt: “It is false to the point of absurdity to see in a ‘belief,’ perchance the belief in redemption through Christ, the distinguishing characteristic of the Christian: only Christian practice, a life such as he who died on the cross lived, is Christian…. States of consciousness, beliefs of any kind, holding something to be true for example — every psychologist knows this — are a matter of complete indifference and of the fifth rank compared with the value of the instincts…. To reduce being a Christian, Christianness, to a holding of something to be true, to a mere phenomenality of consciousness, means to negate Christianness.”

The author was Friedrich Nietzsche, but the person it made me think of was Luigi Giussani (1923-2005), founder of the lay movement Communion & Liberation (CL).

All this by way of preface to the following statement: I’m coming out of the closet. I belong to CL.

I don’t know why I’ve been so shy about sharing this fact about me, given its centrality in my life. Part of it stems, I suspect, from an awareness that lay movements have occasionally been marred by scandals. Another element of my shyness probably has to do with the way that lay movements are so often interpreted in political terms — as being either conservative or liberal. A final element may simply have to do with the general ignorance on the part of most American Catholics about movements; they’re perceived by many still as somehow a church within the Church, a threat to parish life, etc.

In short, I’m afraid of being pigeonholed.

But back to Nietzsche. His words reminded me of these words from Msgr. Giussani: “Christianity is an event. There is no other word to indicate its nature: neither the word law nor the word ideology, conception, or project. Christianity is not a religious doctrine, a series of moral laws, a complex of rites. Christianity is a fact, an event: everything else is a consequence.”

This insight is what drew me to CL and makes the movement such a vital part of my life. It’s also what attracted Joseph Ratzinger, who became quite close to Giussani and preached his funeral in Milan. As Benedict XVI, he has regularly made statements that closely parallel those of Giussani, such as these words from Deus Caritas Est: “Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.”

There’s much more I could say, but I’ll leave it at that. I happen to think that lay movements are going to be an important part of the Church’s life in the coming decades, though individualistic Americans have been slow to understand and join them.

I’m curious what people thing, not so much of CL in particular, as of movements themselves. I welcome your thoughts.

Thank you, Scott, for mentioning it so that I could find it!

"we report, you decide."

"Racism," Cont'd.

So it seems, Memphis Bishop Terry Steib's flag-raiser of "racism" in the church got some brows raised after appearing in last week's edition of the River City's beloved Thursday Visitor.

Given the hubbub -- and after getting told that the Tennessee prelate "doesn't talk to the media" -- Religion News Service's Dan Burke landed a transcript of Steib's original comments courtesy of hometown freelancer Lou Baldwin, who broke the story in the Catholic Standard & Times.

Ergo, via Burke, according to Baldwin, here's the relevant portion:
"I ... know there is a subtle racism that still exists within our Church that leads to a mistrust of the Church among our young African American men and women. (snip)

"Slowly we are moving away from that mistrust to trust in our Church and thereby trust in the Universal Church. You may ask, 'What do you mean by subtle racism?' Well, recently and particularly because of the awarding of a degree to President Obama at the University of Notre Dame, the question [of] racism among the bishops of the country has been raised. I am only raising it because [retired San Francisco] Archbishop [John] Quinn in an article in the America Magazine said that continuing confrontation with President Obama and his administration sends the message that the bishops are insensitive to the heritage and continued existence of racism in America. Archbishop Quinn said that.

"When President Obama was inaugurated four buses full of African Americans Catholics drove for more than 19 hours to be present for the historic moment. But they felt that their celebration was muted because they had heard that so many of our bishops did not seem to understand the significant moment. They seemed not to understand what the whole world took to heart -- that President Obama's election was creating or beginning a whole new era that rejected racial stereotypes and it was opening the door to more embracing international relationships.

"But many of our Church did not share that jubilation. And this, people, I will admit to you too. Nothing was done during other administrations, nothing was said when other presidents who favored the war in Iraq with its constant killing, or who favored capital punishment were given awards in the name of the Church, even though those presidents were not adhering to Catholic Right to Life principles. Because of his clearly unacceptable stand on abortion many who are leaders in the church are willing to pillory President Obama with direct confrontation rather than with clear moral teaching about abortion and public law."
So, there's the script... and as they say "we report, you decide."

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The essence of the Christian fact!

"Ever since the Church began, this has been her method: the most fervent Christians - as Saint Ambrose said - joined together so as not to be displaced by the more lukewarm Christians. It is not necessarily the case that those who do not join with others are less fervent - someone may follow a more personal path. To be sure, nobody can avoid communionality, because this is the essence of the Christian fact!"
Giussani, The Work of the Movement, 58

h/t Fred at la nouvelle théologie

Saturday, September 19, 2009

This is something WELL worth supporting

LAHH* (see below for more information) is participating in the “Share to Win “ contest launched by We need to collect the largest number of comments on a note describing why people should care about our cause in order to win the contest and collect a money prize that will help LAHH to continue to fulfill their mission of providing employment for persons with disabilities.

What we are asking takes two minutes of your time and few clicks!

To help us to win the contest follow these simple steps:

1) Go to where you’ll find our note

2) Click on "Sign up"

3) Fill the information to register

4) Cick on "comment" and leave your message

Make sure you see your comment below our note!

That’s it!
A little effort means a lot to us!

Los Angeles Habilitation House Mission

Creating and maintaining job opportunities for persons with disabilities that will help them to develop, express, and apply their talents and maximize their contribution to the community and society at large. In the future, we will provide support services for senior citizens.

LAHH Torrance Crew
LAHH Torrance Crew

"When I interviewed for the position I now hold with LAHH" - says Cris H. "I expected that I was walking into "just another job. On the first day of Boot Camp I realized I had found an opportunity that was golden. The training was delivered with a level of detail that ensured there was no confusion or miss-understanding about what it was I had to do. The training and methodology behind the OS1 system is such that it makes working as a janitor an enjoyable experience. When I began working with the team at the HRC in Torrance I realized that being here with LAHH was far more than just a job. It has proven to be exactly what a veteran facing so many challenges needed".

- Cris Hartsock, LAHH Employee

Theresa and Nancy
Theresa and Nancy

"The fact that LAHH uses the word 'house' in their vision statement sums up the nurturing, compassionate and often contagious warmth that you feel when you meet Nancy and Guido. You feel a sense of 'family' that often many individuals with disabilities long for, the sense of belonging to a family. The LAHH not only becomes a place for them to work, it also becomes a ‘home’."
- Theresa May de Vera, Commissioner, Commission on Disability

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Racism? Let's think about this

A Roman Catholic Bishop asserts that racism was behind the brouhaha surrounding Obama's invitation to Notre Dame

[...] Some racism still exists, [Bishop Terry Steib SVD of Memphis] said, and cited the recent furor in Catholic circles over the honorary degree awarded by Notre Dame University to Obama, who supports abortion on demand.

Other presidents have had disagreements with the positions of the Catholic Church, for example, in war policies and capital punishment, but have received honorary degrees without similar objection, he noted. It is the subtle racism that still exists which contributes to the lack of priestly vocations among young black men because “it leads to a mistrust of the Church among young black men and women,” he said. “Let’s acknowledge that.” .... [from The Catholic Standard and Times]

h/t Rocco Palmo at Whispers in the Loggia

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Catholic approach to universal healthcare...

Cardinal Martino applauds universal health care initiative

Cardinal Renato Martino

Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, speaks at a press conference Dec. 11, 2008. (CNS photo/Emanuela De Meo, Catholic Press Photo)

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican hasn’t weighed in very much yet concerning the fierce debate in the United States over health care reform. Some of the opposition in the U.S. centers around whether the government should have such a dominant role in providing affordable coverage for all Americans.

Cardinal Renato Martino, who is head of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, lived in the United States for 16 years when he served the Vatican’s permanent observer to the United Nations from 1986-2002.

When I interviewed the cardinal today at the end of a Vatican press conference, I asked him what he thought of the current health care debate in the U.S. and whether the government should be offering universal coverage or if it should just be left up to private businesses. Here’s what he said:

The health of their own citizens belongs to the authorities, to the central government. And so I have been 16 years in the States and I was wondering why a big portion of the American people is deprived, have no health assistance at all. I could never explain this… [read the rest here]

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

No detachment, please

"The split between the Gospel and our culture is the drama of our times. But one does not free persons by detaching them from the bonds that paralyze them: one frees a person by attaching them to their destiny." Emmanuel Mounier

h/t Karen Kaffenberger

...and Robert George at the Meeting in Rimini

From Mirror of Justice:

"Elementary Experience" and Natural Law

At the urging of my pals Mary Ann Glendon and Joseph Weiler, I accepted an invitation to speak (in a tag-team partnership with Mary Ann) at the 30th annual "Meeting for Friendship of Peoples" hosted by Communion & Liberation in Rimini, Italy. The meeting, which I had often heard about but never before attended, is quite remarkable. Over the course of a week, several hundred thousand people crowd into an Italian beach town to hear academic and religious lectures, attend concerts and other performances, and socialize. Mary Ann and I were assigned the topic "Elementary Experience and Natural Law." I'm revising my reflections on the subject to present as a lecture at the University of St. Thomas Law School in a few weeks, but in case MoJ readers are interested, here are the opening paragraphs of my presentation.

One’s knowledge of natural law, like all knowledge, begins with experience (one might even say “elementary experience”) but it does not end or even tarry there. Knowing is an activity—an intellectual activity, to be sure, but an activity nonetheless. We all have the experience of knowing. But to know is not merely to experience. Knowing is a complex and dynamic activity. The role of experience in the activity of knowing is to supply data on which the inquiring intellect works in the cause of achieving understanding. Insights are insights into data. They are, as Bernard Lonergan brilliantly demonstrated by inviting readers to observe and reflect on their own ordinary intellectual operations, the fruit of a dynamic and integrated process of experiencing, understanding, and judging... [read the rest here]

Saturday, September 5, 2009


We killed [Christ] by enclosing him in the shell of antiquated modes of thinking, by banishing him to a piety devoid of reality, which becomes a devotional slogan or archaeological curiosity. We killed him through the ambiguity of our lives that obscured him.

From "The Sabbath of History" by Cardinal Ratzinger with artworks by William Congdon:

"School of Mercy"

"The School of Mercy"

Even before Boston's cardinal-archbishop published his own rebuttal to the harsher reactions that accompanied last week's death and funeral of the Senate's "last lion," another hierarch celebrated for his orthodox bona-fides had already sounded a call for calm... and, indeed, a call to conscience.

Published in yesterday's edition of the Madison Catholic Herald, here's the fulltext of Bishop Robert Morlino's column for his diocesan weekly....

Emphases original:
Dear Friends,

As I complete my time of rest and recuperation, I found myself unpredictably (at least had I been able to predict six months ago) with time available to me to watch on the television most of the events surrounding the funeral and burial of Senator Edward Moore Kennedy. For myself, the time was prayerful and well spent because I knew a lot about Senator Kennedy when he was still fairly young and, of course, I was younger still.

Senator Kennedy and I, many years ago, were, according to the common understanding, not quite ready to get in line to go and meet our Judge. There was plenty of time available, we presumed, to prepare ourselves to take our place in that line, and to welcome that part of our humanity which is experiencing the mystery of suffering and death. [the rest here]

Even MORE from the Meeting...

EDUCATION/ The Teacher as Benefactor: Thoughts on Education as an Event from St Thomas Aquinas

Fr Andrew Davison delivered the following paper for the Meeting for Friendship among Peoples last August in Rimini. The theme of the Meeting was “Knowledge is always an Event”.

You have chosen an excellent title for your meeting. Knowledge is always an event. Knowledge is always something specific and historical; it is always linked to particular people and places, particular experiences and objects. This afternoon I offer you an example so that you can illustrate this from your own history. It is drawn from the topic for this session: education. I give you the example of our teachers and the debt we owe to them. [read the rest here]

San Carlo seminarian's judgment: Meeting in Rimini

Seminarians from the Priestly Fraternity of the Missionaries of St.Charles Borromeo
(The author, John Roderick, is to the far right in the picture).

By John Roderick:

[...] We have all been given the mysterious gift of life and ought to be good stewards of this gift by becoming protagonists and seeking out the full truth and knowledge of ourselves, the people we have been given to accompany us on this journey, and of the wonder of the material world. The Rimini Meeting sought to make this proposal to all of its attendees, that man is capable of arriving at true knowledge of himself, others and the world, and it is an exciting and worthwhile mission. We ought to make this journey as friends, and friendship is the heart and form of what we are called to live, to discover the truth of ourselves, others and the world through a loving companionship. As the 30th International Rimini Meeting for Friendship among Peoples winded down and came to a close, its attendees returned to their families, homes and work environments with the desire to continue and deepen the experience lived together during the days together in Rimini. We can live the experience of the Meeting in our respective circumstances and life situations if we remain faithful to the proposal and method of acknowledging and following the exceptional presences we stumble upon. And through them to seek out the full knowledge of ourselves, the friends and people we have been entrusted in our daily lives, and the mysterious world around us, and to remember that we can only do this work and mission together as a people. [Read the whole thing here]

And here's the program for this year's Meeting


Celebrated by His Excellency Msgr. Francesco Lambiasi, Bishop of Rimini. Live on RAI 1.


Participant: Harry Wu, Laogai Research Foundation Founder and Executive Director. Introduced by: John Waters, Columnist at The Irish Times.


In collaboration with Unioncamere. Participants: Simona Beretta, Professor of International Economical Politics at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart of Milan; Mara Carfagna, Italian Minister for Equal Opportunities; Ivan Guizzardi, General Secretary FeLSA CISL; Lorenza Violini, Professor of Constitutional Law at the University of Milan and Director of the Department of Public Administration of the Foundation for Subsidiarity. Introduced by: Dario Odifreddi, Director of the Department for Work and Formation of the Foundation for Subsidiarity.


Participants: Carl Bildt, Foreign Minister of Sweden and current President of European Union; Franco Frattini, Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs; Mario Mauro, President of the Members of Parliament of the Popolo della Libertà Party at the European Parliament; Bernard Kamilius Membe, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Tanzania; Amama Mbabazi, Minister for Security of Uganda and NRM Secretary General; Raila Amollo Odinga, Prime Minister of the Republic of Kenya; Alhaji Abu Bakarr Sidique Sam- Sumana, Vice President of the Republic of Sierra Leone. Introduced by: Roberto Fontolan, Director of the international Center of Communion and Liberation. On this occasion greeting speech by Antonella Mularoni, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of San Marino.


Presentation of the exhibition. Participants: Aldo Trento, Missionary and curator of the exhibition; Luis Federico Franco Gómez, Vice-President of the Republic of Paraguay; Darko Sustersic, Professor at the University of Buenos Aires. Introduced by Jesus Carrascosa, member of the Council of the Presidency of Communion and Liberation. During the encounter there will be a greeting by Liz Cramer, Minister of Tourism of Paraguay.


Time: 15:00

Participants: Andrew Davison, Lecturer of Christian Doctrine at the Faculty of Theology of Oxford University and Junior Chaplain at Merton College in Oxford; John Milbank, Professor in Religion, Politics and Ethics at the University of Nottingham; Adrain Pabst Lecturer in Politics and Religion at the University of Kent in Canterbury. Introduced by: Stefano Alberto, Professor of Introduction to Theology at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Milan.


Workshop, Non Profit magazine. In collaboration with Unioncamere. Participants: Salvo Andò, Rector of the Kore Free University of Enna; Giulio Boscagli, Lombardy Region Assessor for the Family and Social Solidarity; Giorgio Fiorentini, Director of the Masters in Management of Non-Profit Cooperatives and Non Profit Social Firms at the Bocconi University in Milan; Carlo Fratta Pasini, President Banco Popolare; Giorgio Vittadini, President of the Foundation for Subsidiarity. Introduced by: Damiano Zazzeron, Manager of the portal and Gianfranco Fabi, Director of Radio 24.


Time: 19:00

Participants: Alberto Contri, President Pubblicità Progresso; Gabriella Mangiarotti, Professor of the Sociology of Cultural Processes and Deputy Rector for the Orientation at Iulm University in Milan; Susan Pointer, Google Director of Public Policy and Government Relations for Europe, Middle East and Africa. Introduced by Roberto Arditti, Director of Il Tempo.


A Supernatural Work. My Life in Opus Dei
Presentation of the book by Pippo Corigliano(Ed. Mondadori). Participant: the Author, Spokesperson for Opus Dei.
WILLIAM CONGDON. The Adventure of a Gaze
Presentation of the book by Pigi Colognesi (Ed. San Paolo). Participant: the Author, journalist.
Right Now, 365 Days to be Lived with Gusto
Presentation of the book by Paolo Massobrio (Ed. Comunica). Participant: the Author, President of the Papillon Club.
Introduced by: Camillo Fornasieri, Director of the Cultural Center of Milan


The Crisis of the Gift
Presentation of the book by Claudio Risé. (Ed. San Paolo). Participant: the Author, psychoanalyst and writer.
The West: The Ineludible Encounter
Presentation of the book by Javier Prades López. (Ed. Cantagalli). Participant: the Author, Professor of Dogmatic Theology at the Theological Faculty San Damaso of Madrid; Vittorio Emanuele Parsi, Professor of International Relations at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart of Milan.
Introduced by: Camillo Fornasieri, Director of the Cultural Center of Milan.


Review of international reportage, presented by Roberto Fontolan and Gian Micalessin. Guantanamo. An exceptional document. For the first time the television cameras inside the most famous and debated prison in the world. In collaboration with Sky. Production: National Geographic.


Live – “Spirto Gentil” Series: CD 47
Paolo Forlani guitar and speaker: Villa-Lobos Works for Solo Guitar



Time: 21:45 Admission by ticket only

Inaugural show based on Miguel Mañara by O. Milosz. Project and direction by Otello Cenci, with Gigio Alberti, Giovanni Battaglia, Matteo Bonanni, Teodoro Bonci del Bene, Stefano Braschi, Ruggero Dondi, Giovanni Franzoni, Alberto Mancioppi, Alice Torriani. Original music by Roberto Andreoni and Marina Valmaggi, pictorial work by Franco Vignazia.



Time: 07:00 Partenza da Rimini Fiera

Mario Vicini Long-distance Bicycle Race and Middle- Distance Touristic Cycling Tour
16th Italian Championship UDACE. 5th Italian Championship among bank workers B.C.C. World Cup 2009. Romagna Challenge.
Organized by: Meeting di Rimini, A.S.D. Team C.B.R.-Cicli Vicini e CRAL Banca Malatestiana,
in collaboration with M.S.P. San Marino e Centro Sociale S. Andrea (RSM).


Time: 11:00

This is a pavilion dedicated to sports, supported by CSI and CdO Sport.
Many activities, exhibitions and introduction to various sports: FIVE-A-SIDE FOOTBALL, VOLLEYBALL, BASKETBALL, TABLE FOOTBALL, CLIMBING, as well as a SPACE FOR CHILDREN TO PLAY AND TRY NEW SPORTS, providing children with an area for free play as well as organized matches and tournaments.

Organized by Fondazione ANIA per la Sicurezza Stradale (the ANIA Foundation for Road Safety). Young people can learn from qualified instructors the primary notions of road safety.

Shows and tests of inline skates. With Hockey in line Progetto Romagna-Riccione


Time: 16:45

Everyone is welcome to come and try this sport. In collaboration with Federazione Italiana Badminton. Activity promoted by CdO Sport.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Why I think an American Meeting will be tough...

...40,000 volunteers. FORTY thousand of them.

A brochure for the Chicago Humanities festival recently arrived in our mail box. When we lived in Chicago, we enjoyed going to many of the presentations and concerts -- my good friend Margaret organized most of the events, and she was able to get us free tickets to some things -- for the kids' events, sometimes they needed kids to introduce the speakers, and she invited mine for the job. But Margaret organized these events because she was paid to do it -- it was her job. Then her job ended, and someone else was hired to do the same tasks she did. And now, leafing through the brochure this year, I can't help but notice that each and every event has an admission price -- even to hear professors speak about their academic work. So, my question is, how on earth could we possibly get enough volunteers together in this country?

Here is what Joseph Weiler says about the organization of the Meeting:

It is beautifully organized from beginning to end! That wonderful organization is because of the volunteers who for weeks and months suppress their ego and work for something that is not about themselves or their immediate gratification. This in large part produces the organizational marvel which is, too, the Meeting (Il Sussidiario)
Even if we start small, 40,000 volunteers for one week means roughly 6,700 per day? But forget the numbers -- where are we going to find Americans who will "suppress" their egos?

"A higher form of respect."

Joseph H. H. Weiler, professor of Law at New York University

WEILER/ In Celebration of the 30th Anniversary of the Rimini Meeting in Italy

The Meeting is not a “place”, an “event” – it is an “Experience” unlike any I have had, and I assure those of your readers who have not attended, unlike any you are likely to have had either. Any person of culture should make a point of attending the Meeting – at least once.

What is the secret of its success? After all, 700,000 visitors in one week, repeated year after year – and many, many of them not particularly religious persons – must have some reason to go, and clearly only a small fraction of them are Members or adherents of CL.

When I was invited the first time in 2003, and I knew it was going to be interesting because many of my Italian friends said to me, “How could you accept to go to that “Meeting?” organized by those people. And then, in the same breath they said, “How does one get invited?”... [read the rest here]

- From Il Sussidiario

Dumbstruck by the Mystery

...our temptation is always to impose our prejudices or our measure on reality -- except when we are faced with a fact that leaves us dumbstruck, and instead of dominating the fact ourselves, we are dominated, overcome by it. If there were no moments of this kind, the Mystery could do anything, but in the end, we would reduce everything to the usual explanation. But not even a Nobel Prize winner can stop himself from being dumbstruck before an absolutely gratuitous gesture. If there were not these moments, we would find answers, explanations, and interpretations to avoid being struck by anything. It is good that some things happen that we cannot dominate, then we have to take them seriously, and this is the great question of philosophy. If the conditions for the possibility of knowledge (see Kant) impose themselves on reality or if there is something that is so powerfully disproportionate that it does not let itself be "grasped" by the conditions of possibility, then the horizon opens. If this were not the case, then we could dominate everything and be in peace, or at least without drama. Instead, not even the intelligence of a Nobel Prize winner could prevent him from coming face-to-face with a fact that made him dumbstruck -- instead of dominating, it was he who was dominated. Here begins the drama, because I am called to answer. It is the drama that unfolds between us and the Mystery, through certain facts, certain moments, in which the Mystery imposes itself with this evidence. These are facts that we cannot put in our pocket, which we cannot reduce to antecedent factors.
-- Julian Carron in "Friends, that is, Witnesses."