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National Eucharistic Congress ends with plans to keep movement going

No sooner had the 10th National Eucharistic Congress wrapped up July 21 here than Bishop Andrew Cozzens of Crookston, Minnesota, told 50,000 attendees at Lucas Oil Stadium that plans are underway for the next congress.

Cozzens, who served as the point man for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in organizing the July 17-21 congress, announced after the event’s closing Mass that the 11th National Eucharistic Congress could be held in 2033, which would mark the 2,000th anniversary of the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

« Two thousand years of redemption. That’s worth celebrating right, » said Cozzens, who also hinted, however, that the next congress could be held sooner.

« We’ll keep discerning and we’ll let you know, » Cozzens said.

With those words, which included an announcement that the bishops are organizing another eucharistic pilgrimage in spring 2025 where pilgrims will walk from Indianapolis to Los Angeles, the five-day congress ended.

For almost a whole week, tens of thousands of people descended on downtown Indianapolis for a gathering that featured liturgies, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, musical and dramatic performances, panel discussions, a procession, and individual presentations on various topics related to the Eucharist.

The U.S. bishops hope that the congress, the climactic event of their three-year National Eucharistic Revival, will revitalize the Catholic Church in the United States by reaffirming the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist and encouraging Catholics to become « eucharistic missionaries » in their everyday lives.

« The missionary is a gift. Mission is not just about work, but also about the gift of oneself, » said Filipino Cardinal Luis Tagle, the papal delegate to the congress. Tagle, who is pro-prefect of the Dicastery for Evangelization’s Section for First Evangelization and New Particular Churches, served as the main celebrant for the closing Mass on July 21.

Tagle said in his homily that, before traveling to Indianapolis, he asked Pope Francis if he had a message for the people attending the first national eucharistic congress held in the United States since June 1941 in Minnesota. 

« He said, ‘Conversion to the Eucharist! Conversion to the Eucharist!' » said Tagle, who added that the pontiff urged him to « behave well. »

In a letter that Francis also sent to Tagle, the cardinal said that the pope expressed his hope that those who attended the congress would be « fully aware of the universal gifts they receive from heavenly food and may impart them to others. »

« The presence of Jesus in the Eucharist is a gift, and the fulfillment of his mission, » said Tagle, who emphasized giftedness as a theme throughout his homily.

« Where there is a lack or a weakening of missionary zeal, maybe it is partly due to a weakening in the appreciation of gifts and giftedness, » said Tagle, who encouraged people to not think of their self-worth in terms of career accomplishments.

« If our horizon is only that of achievement, success and profit, there is no room to see and receive gratuitous gifts, » he said. « There is no place for gratitude and self-giving. There will only be a relentless search for self-affirmation that eventually becomes oppressive and tiring, leading to more self-absorption, or individualism. »

The cardinal also urged his listeners to follow Jesus’ example in offering the gift of self to the people they encounter.

Said Tagle, « Friends, what do you see in a poor person? In a homeless person? In a sick person? What do you see in a person, in someone who differs from you? Like Jesus, let us give a gift of presence to each other. »

The cardinal delivered his homily to a football stadium packed with an estimated 50,000 people that included 200 bishops, 500 seminarians and hundreds of priests who processed into the arena. The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra performed traditional and modern Catholic hymns during the liturgy. 

The Mass followed a morning speaking program where presenters urged attendees to take everything they had experienced during the congress back home to their parishes, families and communities.

« As we leave this congress, let’s go as missionaries, » said Mother Adela Galindo, foundress of the Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary, a religious community in the Miami Archdiocese.

« This wasn’t just a congress. It’s not just an event. It’s a movement, » said Montse Alvarado, the president and chief operating officer of EWTN News who served as an emcee for the event.

In its speakers and breakout sessions, which included several presentations on controversial topics like abortion and gender dysphoria, the congress was flavored in large part by the kind of conservative American Catholicism associated with Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio, and featured on the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN).

But the event had crosscurrents of other Catholic sensibilities, as a handful of speakers, exhibitors and musical performers presented other viewpoints and distinct expressions of Catholicity. During a large procession through downtown Indianapolis on July 20, a Native American folkloric group performed traditional Indigenous music and dance.

The American church’s growing and vibrant Hispanic community was well-represented among congress-goers, many of whom proclaimed, « Viva Cristo Rey! » during the procession as a truck drove by transporting the exposed Eucharist in a monstrance. 

In his opening remarks, Tagle greeted Mass attendees in several languages, including English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Chinese, Vietnamese and Swahili, among others. Congress organizers said attendees hailed from all 50 states and 17 countries, speaking 43 languages.

« We’re so lucky to be Catholic, » Diane Scheftgen of Milwaukee told NCR as she stood near a downtown sidewalk observing the procession, which she described as « amazing. »

« I feel so lucky and blessed to be here, » Scheftgen said. « How blessed are we to have Jesus? He’s always with us. »

While some observers of U.S. Catholicism expressed doubts that the bishops’ plan to promote a traditional and devotional form of the faith will attract new converts or appeal to fallen-away Catholics, several of those who participated in the congress’ evening revival sessions — which featured musical performances and testimonies along with eucharistic adoration — said they were personally moved by the proceedings.

« The beautiful presence of Jesus permeated the entire stadium so strongly and wonderfully and warmly, » said Briana Alece Jansky, who traveled to Indianapolis from her home in Tyler, Texas.

« Celebrating this historic moment with over 50,000 other Catholics together all focused on Jesus felt like a little slice of heaven. The presence of Christ permeated my entire existence, » Jansky said.

Turning to the Blessed Virgin Mary in prayer

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He Leadeth Me

(Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time-Year B; This homily was given on July 21, 2024 at Saint Augustine Church in Providence, Rhode Island; See Jeremiah 23:1-6 and Mark 6:30-34)  

Seeking the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary through prayer

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Fr. Norman Fischer, president of National Black Catholic Clergy Caucus, dies at 50

Fr. Norman Fischer Jr., a veteran Lexington, Kentucky, priest and the president of the National Black Catholic Clergy Caucus, died in Delaware July 14. He was 50 years old and had been on sabbatical.

The news was first announced by Lexington Bishop John Stowe, who noted that Fischer was at the Catholic Heart Work Camp in Wilmington at the time of his death.

Fischer celebrated 24 years as a priest this month and spent his final weeks in New Orleans at the Institute for Black Catholic Studies, where he was a student in the continuing education program.

No cause of death was announced, but Fischer’s family was known to have a history of heart problems.

« We gather today with a profound sense of loss … with more questions than we have answers, » Stowe said during a standing-room-only memorial Mass July 15 at St. Peter Claver Catholic Church in Lexington, the historically Black parish where Fischer had served since 2006.

« [There’s] a lot of heaviness in our hearts, » Stowe said. « A lot of concern about so many people that have been touched by Fr. Norman’s life, by his unique way of touching people and reaching people and healing people and involving people and bringing grace to their hearts. »

Raised in rural Perryville, Kentucky, Fischer answered the call to the priesthood after attending Centre College in Danville, where he majored in psychology and art. He received a Master of Divinity from Mundelein Seminary in Illinois and was ordained in 2000 as the first Black or Filipino priest in the Diocese of Lexington. It was during his seminary years that he first became involved with the IBCS, where he took graduate courses in Black Catholic studies.

After news of his passing reached the community in New Orleans, a series of memorial services were held on the campus of Xavier University of Louisiana, where his former classmates gathered to remember his wide-reaching legacy.

« Norman taught us a lot about holding hospitality, » said IBCS development coordinator Resurrectionist Fr. Manuel Williams during a prayer service at St. Katharine Drexel Chapel July 17.

« Not just welcoming people into our homes or our places of worship or our schools … but welcoming folks into your physical presence. Into that wealth of attention, and that gift of things so precious: time, that he took with everyone he met. »

In addition to his service at St. Peter Claver, where he recently headed up a $3.5 million campaign to construct a new church edifice, Fischer served for more than 18 years as chaplain at Lexington Catholic High School. There, he was known for his gregarious personality and founded the school’s first Black affinity group.

His ecumenical impact in the Lexington region was also widely felt, including efforts for racial healing in partnership with local ministers, churches and schools. Fischer was also active in the charismatic movement, which brought together Christians of different stripes — including recently during the Asbury revival in 2023, where Fischer was noted as one of the Catholic participants.

Outside his pastoral ministry, Fischer was also a talented singer and visual artist. He exhibited several recent paintings earlier this year at the Hockensmith Fine Art Editions Gallery, where his work remains available.

« His faith and love of others was like wildfire, » said gallery owner John Stephen Hockensmith. « He was my friend and mentor. We shared inspiration. My love for him will burn forever. »

For his work and impact in the community, Fischer was named this summer as one of several recipients of the 2024 Grassroots Black Leadership Award from the Blue Grass Community Foundation.

Local and statewide civic leaders are among hundreds expressing shock at Fischer’s death this week, including Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear and Lexington mayor Linda Gorton.

« Father Norman Fischer had a smile that would light up the room, and an ongoing passion to serve people, » Gorton said in a statement. « We had many opportunities to talk, and [I] loved his great sense of humor and ability to connect with others. His passion for people and service will be missed. »

On the national scene since his formation for the priesthood, Fischer was a former member of the National Black Catholic Seminarians Association, a constituent organization of the NBCCC. He was elected president of the latter organization in September 2023, and was likely the first Afro-Asian American to serve in the role.

« Fr. Fischer’s commitment to our mission and his tireless work for justice and equality have been a beacon of inspiration for us all, » said NBCCC vice president Fr. Kareem Smith in a statement July 15.

« His leadership, compassion, and wisdom guided our organization during this difficult time in our nation’s history, and his absence will be deeply felt by everyone whose lives he touched. »

Among Fischer’s survivors are his parents, and he was remembered with a livestreamed memorial Mass at Lexington Catholic High July 18.

The Diocese of Lexington has also announced that visitation services will take place at St. Peter Claver  noon to 6 p.m. July 27 and 3:30 to 8 p.m.  July 28.

A funeral Mass will be celebrated by Bishop Stowe at 11 a.m. July 29 at the Cathedral of Christ the King,  followed by interment at Calvary Cemetery. Memorial gifts in Fischer’s memory can be made to the St. Peter Claver Church Building Fund.

Turning to the Blessed Virgin Mary in prayer

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Speaker brings mental health expertise to eucharistic congress

 Holy Family of Nazareth Sr. Josephine Garrett says she has been invited to speak at some Catholic conferences where the organizers told her they needed a Black perspective for purposes of diversity.

When she received an invitation to be a keynote speaker at the National Eucharistic Congress, Garrett said the organizers told her that they believed she had spiritual gifts and insights that would benefit her audience. She appreciated the sentiment behind the invitation.

« This invitation had some consideration, » Garrett told reporters during a July 18 press conference in Indianapolis, a day before she was scheduled to deliver a keynote address during an evening « revival » session in Lucas Oil Stadium.

Garrett, an author and sought-after speaker who is also a licensed mental health counselor, said she has been praying about what she will speak on during the session, which organizers have themed « Into Gethsemane. » She was to speak on the third day of the National Eucharistic Congress. The five-day gathering in Indianapolis is presented by the U.S. Catholic bishops, who hope the event will spur a spiritual revival in the church.

A counselor for a Catholic grade school in Tyler, Texas, who also runs her own practice, Garrett was also scheduled to present a July 21 breakout session titled, « Healing Community: Encountering Brokenness in the Body of Christ. »

Speaking on the need to integrate the spiritual life with mental health, Garrett told reporters she has seen « a neglect of human formation » in Catholic spaces. Some healing ministries, she said, have taken to telling people that they have spiritually failed when they are still struggling with psychological wounds.

« That doesn’t match what the Gospel says, » Garrett said. She is just as opposed to the « constant navel-gazing » that some mental health professionals would have their clients do, which she said leads to people being « mopey » and inactive.

« Stop limiting the places where God can reign, stop creating blocks to what God is about, where his grace can be about at work, » Garrett said.

‘I’m worried we’ll leave here thinking ourselves so devoted that we forget we still need to continue to grow, and that requires the cross.’
—Sr. Josephine Garrett

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That is a familiar message to anyone who has Garrett speak or read her book, Hope: An Invitation.

Raised in Houston as a Baptist, Garrett entered the Catholic Church in 2005. She has been active in vocations ministry, hosts a podcast and serves on the boards of Life Teen and the Laboure Society.

A former banker who was once a Bank of America vice president in its home loans division, Garrett in 2011 began her formation to be a religious sister. She professed her final vows as a Sister of the Holy Family of Nazareth in 2020.

With a social media following that includes almost 12,000 followers on X — the platform previously known as Twitter — Garrett has emerged as a leading voice on several issues about Catholic life, including spirituality, mental health and wellness.

Regarding divisions in the church, Garrett quipped, « We love to entertain ourselves with them. They give us a break from the Cross. »

She expressed concern that many of the estimated 50,000 people who are attending the National Eucharistic Congress will fall into the trap of Catholics in the « Holy Huddle » — those who become too comfortable and satisfied with their level of personal piety and devotion.

« I’m worried we’ll leave here thinking ourselves so devoted that we forget we still need to continue to grow, and that requires the cross, » Garrett said. « Love is about sacrifice. If there isn’t anything going on in my life that’s asking a sacrifice of me, then something may be off base. »

Commenting on the importance of relationships to spiritual and psychological health, Garrett said she is proud of and impressed with Generation Z  — people born from the late 1990s to the early 2010s — for how they approach relationships.

« They have a strong desire for relationship, for longing, » she said. « They’re more welcoming of differences. They show genuine interest. They’re not alarmed by differences as we are. If someone approaches them, they will respond. »

Garrett said she prays Catholics will leave the National Eucharistic Congress with a renewed devotion to the Eucharist and the sacrament of reconciliation, and that they will stay focused on carrying out the saving mission of Jesus in the world.

As for the discomforts and hunger that often accompany pilgrimages such as the congress, Garrett said, they should be a reminder that « we’re supposed to remain hungry until the day we die. »

Turning to the Blessed Virgin Mary in prayer

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Voter protection training begins as clergy, secular groups look toward election

Faith leaders are making plans to provide a de-escalating presence at the polls months ahead of another deeply contested presidential election in an increasingly polarized country.

Faiths United to Save Democracy, a nonpartisan multiracial group with roots in Black church voter mobilization efforts, is expanding its outreach so participants include clergy and lay people of a variety of religions as well as people with no faith affiliation and members of secular organizations.

On Monday (July 15), Catholic nuns, rabbis and community and labor leaders gathered online to hear a Bible-based introduction in the first of seven « poll chaplain/peacekeeper » virtual training sessions aimed at equipping volunteers to keep the environment calm at polling places, especially in battleground states.

Sister Eilis McCulloh is a member of the grassroots mobilization team of Network Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, an organization that has partnered with the Faiths United to Save Democracy campaign in the past, but she was a first-time trainee and « loved that it was an interfaith mix » working toward a « common good » goal.

« We can’t do that in our silos, » said McCulloh, a member of the Sister of the Humility of Mary order. « We’re much more effective when we all come together to do that. »

More than 80 people attended the 90-minute online training, which included breakout groups with practice scenarios, ranging from someone holding a gun to a bystander shouting obscenities outside a polling place. Trainees were given tools to help build trust with people in line to vote, as well as a special phone number to call if they witness intimidating behavior.

The week prior, the coalition had hosted « an urgent call to prayer for our troubled and divided nation, » featuring Black church leaders and a diverse range of officials of national groups, after the first presidential debate and before the shootings at a rally at which former President Donald Trump was speaking.

The prayers and the strategizing continued with the Monday night training, said the Rev. Barbara Williams-Skinner, the group’s coordinator.

« We opened emphasizing that we denounce all forms of political violence (political violence has no place in our democracy/nation) and lifting up our prayers for the full recovery and health of former President Trump and others who were injured, » she said in a Tuesday statement to Religion News Service. « We affirmed that the reality of political violence makes the presence of Poll Chaplain in clergy collars, lay leaders, and peacemakers of all backgrounds even more critical during early voting and on election day. »

The Rev. Jim Wallis, one of the core leaders of Faiths United to Save Democracy and the director of Georgetown University’s Center on Faith and Justice, said the training session attendees did not need convincing to participate in the peacekeeping efforts.

« People were really wanting to do this, » he said of the trainees, some who hailed from battleground states where they would be working, such as Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. « Their questions were not, ‘Should I do this?’ But ‘OK, how do I do this? When do I show up?' »

In interviews ahead of the training, clergy who had volunteered as poll chaplains in past elections described experiences that ranged from threatening to uncomfortable to welcoming during their shifts outside polling places.

The Rev. Steve Bland Jr., one of the co-leaders of the voter protection campaign in Michigan, recalled a Black grandmother who was at first put off from voting because she spotted a white driver circling her neighborhood near the polling place, making her anxious about voting. A white clergywoman serving as a poll chaplain and visiting from another part of the state approached the car and « asked the guy who he was, what he was doing, etc., and the guy took off. »

The Rev. Dontà McGilvery, one of the co-leaders for the voter protection campaign in Arizona, said he stepped in when Pastor April Hawkins, another clergy colleague and poll chaplain, was confronted by a voter who made assumptions based on her collar and the color of her skin, telling her, « You’re not a real Christian if you don’t align with the values of the Republican Party, » McGilvery recalled.

McGilvery, who said he considers who people vote for a « nonexistent » topic for poll chaplains, usually merely congratulates people for voting. But after a 10-minute back-and-forth with the voter, nearby representatives of civic organizations intervened to end the situation.

Bridget Moix, general secretary of the Friends Committee on National Legislation, traveled from Washington, D.C., to her home state of Ohio to serve as a poll chaplain. Wearing a « Love Thy Neighbor (No Exceptions) » button, she welcomed a young Black man. He entered the doors of a polling place with trepidation and left surprised at how easy it was.

The man had feared the threatening presence of guns and was relieved to find none, Moix said.

Moix, who gave the closing prayer at Monday’s event, said the young man’s experience « spoke to me of the situation we’re in as a country, and also the importance of having just a friendly, calming presence at the polls that people can feel safe going to the polls. And I hope he’ll be back again this election season. »

Other organizations are encouraging actions and making statements that support voter protection. For example, Interfaith America’s and Project Democracy’s « Faith in Elections Playbook » notes ways to support voters, including bringing food and water to people standing in line if local laws permit them.

Citing rising levels of political violence over recent election cycles, Faith in Public Life issued a June 24 open letter to « Those With the Power to Lead Us Toward Peace » that said, in part: « As leaders who are invested in interrupting violence and working toward a culture of peace, we urge you — and all people in positions of authority — to cease using your power to advance political violence and to instead leverage your influence toward love and liberation. »

Although much of the focus for the poll chaplains and peacekeepers is on supporting voters, their work may not conclude on Nov. 5, Williams-Skinner said, but rather could last « until somebody is inaugurated. » Their tasks could include prayer vigils, nonviolent protests and post-election monitoring of vote counts.

« When you sign up for this, you realize that you’re not signing up for just Election Day, » said Arlene Holt Baker, the District of Columbia-based executive vice president emerita of the AFL-CIO, who joined the training on Monday and said she signed up for the FUSD’s buddy system and is willing to go where she’s needed along with another peacekeeper.

« You’re signing up for Election Day and beyond. »

Turning to the Blessed Virgin Mary in prayer

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Vatican approval of apparitions would now be ‘exceptional,’ doctrine chief says

Vatican rulings on allegedly supernatural phenomena, such as Marian apparitions, will continue to be released publicly, but official validation of an event’s supernatural status — as has happened at Lourdes, Fatima and Guadalupe — would be « exceptional, » the Vatican’s doctrine chief said.

Speaking to Alfa y Omega, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Madrid, Cardinal Víctor Manuel Fernández, prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, said that a Vatican ruling of whether an event was truly supernatural « does not seem necessary, because it has long been clear that not even a declaration of supernaturality obliges believers to accept such phenomena as of divine origin. »

Still, the dicastery will continue to publish its rulings on permitting devotion associated with allegedly supernatural phenomena, he said in the interview published July 17, noting that « one will come out in the next days » while others « will need to wait two or three months because they require greater study. »

Since the dicastery issued new norms for discerning alleged supernatural phenomena in May, two rulings have been issued on Marian apparitions by the dicastery and two previously made judgments have been made public.

Rather than seek a validation of an event’s supernaturality, the norms make a « nihil obstat » the most positive ruling issued by the dicastery, effectively ruling that devotion associated to an allegedly supernatural event is licit without making a judgment on its authenticity.

Fernández said that official validation of an event’s supernaturality « would only occur if the pope, due to special interest, were to solicit it and personally decide it. »

He added that the dicastery is now able to publish the rulings quickly since previous cases would be held up in the discernment process because of the need to declare whether events and phenomena were supernatural or of divine origin, but « with the new method that burden does not exist anymore and the analysis becomes easier. »

The cardinal said that the criteria for an allegedly supernatural event to receive a « nihil obstat » include the « spiritual and pastoral fruits » resulting from the event together with « the absence of critical elements that can negatively affect the people of God. »

If messages are associated with a phenomenon, « their content is carefully analyzed in order to highlight what is beautiful, positive and a reflection of the Gospel, » he added. « If some of them, even if they are not contrary to faith and morality, can cause confusion, clarifications are offered to be published together with the messages. »

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Like British peers, prominent US figures ask pope not to further restrict traditional Mass

Following the example of a group of British cultural icons, a group of American « Catholics and non-Catholics » and prominent cultural and intellectual personalities asked Pope Francis in an open letter July 15 not to further restrict the traditional Latin Mass.

« We come to you with the humility and obedience but also the confidence of children, telling a loving father of our spiritual needs, » wrote signatories of the letter called « An Open Letter from the Americas to Pope Francis, » inspired by Dana Gioia, former chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts.

« To deprive the next generation of artists of this source of mystery, beauty, and contemplation of the sacred seems shortsighted, » emphasized the signatories, including composer Morten Lauridsen, international religious freedom advocate Nina Shea and Blanton Alspaugh, Grammy award-winning classical music record producer.

« All of us, believers and nonbelievers alike, recognize that this ancient liturgy, which inspired the work of Palestrina, Bach, and Beethoven and generations of great artists, is a magnificent achievement of civilization and part of the common cultural heritage of humanity, » they said, adding that « It is medicine for the soul, one antidote to the gross materialism of the postmodern age. »

Earlier in the month, 48 respected and widely known British signatories asked Francis the same in a July 2 letter published in The Times, praising the traditional Mass and warning against moves to unravel its « spiritual and cultural heritage. »

« Although we don’t know how it’s been received in Rome, this letter has met sympathetic reactions from bishops in Britain, » said Joseph Shaw, chairman of the London-based Latin Mass Society.

« While some have accused its 48 signatories of treating the Latin Mass as a museum piece, they’re actually doing the opposite — seeing it as something of spiritual value to the world. We hope this will have wider echoes, » Shaw said of the British letter.

In an OSV News interview, Shaw said he hoped the British prefect of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Cardinal Arthur Roche, would recognize the signatories and resist pressure to « crack down on the Mass » by « those opposed to it on principle. »

Meanwhile, a leading British priest said he believed new rules on the Latin Mass had « worked well » since « Traditionis Custodes, » a July 2021 apostolic letter from Pope Francis.

« This left it to local bishops to decide where and when the Latin Mass could be celebrated, in consultation with the Vatican, » Father Jan Nowotnik, mission director for the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, told OSV News.

« Although it’s sometimes been a focus for culture wars elsewhere, it isn’t causing any great tension at present. Nor are traditionalists taking over lots of parishes or exerting some big influence, » he said.

The traditional, or Tridentine, Mass, last presented in the 1962 Roman Missal, was restricted in favor of vernacular translations by St. Paul VI, in line with reforms at the 1962-1965 Second Vatican Council.

However, it was reauthorized in England and Wales under a Nov. 5, 1971, papal indult, or dispensation, following a petition from 105 British politicians, writers, artists and musicians, including novelists Agatha Christie, Robert Graves and Iris Murdoch, as well as composers Vladimir Ashkenazy and Yehudi Menuhin.

Permission to celebrate the Mass was widened by St. John Paul II in 1984, and was extended to all priests by Pope Benedict XVI under a 2007 apostolic letter, « Summorum Pontificum. »

In « Traditionis Custodes, » however, Francis ruled that post-Vatican II liturgies were the « unique expression » for Latin-rite Catholics, and said traditional Masses should be allowed by bishops only if their adherents did not deny « the validity and the legitimacy » of Vatican II liturgical reforms and the papal magisterium.

Francis added in a letter that accompanied « Traditionis Custodes » that bishops should not establish new groups or venues devoted to the Latin Mass, and said the situation « preoccupies and saddens me, » referring to the fact that some traditionalists rejected Vatican II « with unfounded and unsustainable assertions. »

Both the American and British open letters came after a traditionalist website, Rorate Caeli, said June 17 that opponents of the traditional Mass, « especially in the United States and France, » were seeking a « wide, final and irreversible » ban in a document under preparation by the divine worship dicastery, although the claim was contested by other Catholic news media saying that no such document was under preparation in Rome.

In their July 2 Times letter, arranged by composer James Macmillan, the British public figures said they worried the Latin Mass faced being « banished from nearly every Catholic church, » adding that their appeal was « entirely ecumenical and non-political. »

The traditional liturgy is a « cathedral of text and gesture » — developing as venerable buildings did over many centuries — and to « destroy it seems an unnecessary and insensitive act in a world where history can all too easily slip away forgotten, » said the signatories, who included Julian Fellowes, award-winning writer of the « Downton Abbey » TV series, and Andrew Lloyd-Webber, creator of musicals « Jesus Christ Superstar » and « Evita, » as well as human rights campaigner Bianca Jagger and writers, historians, musicians and film stars from religious and nonreligious backgrounds.

A former government minister who signed the letter, Rory Stewart, told OSV News the traditional Mass was a « rare and precious connection to the deep history of the church, » extending right « to the church fathers, to the whole community of past believers and communities of worship linked through the language of the liturgy. »

Meanwhile, the editor of Britain’s Catholic weekly, The Tablet, Brendan Walsh said what was « at risk or under threat » was not the Latin Mass, which was allowed « all over the Catholic world, » but parish celebrations of older Roman rites, which were « flecked with queasy reminders of the anti-Judaism the post-conciliar church is still struggling to disinfect itself from. »

In his OSV News interview, Novotnik said concerns about the traditional Mass raised « deep theological and ecclesiological issues, » amid fears that groups favoring « an older form of liturgy » also opposed other current reforms.

However, this was rejected by Shaw, the Latin Mass Society chairman, who said « small discontented groups » existed throughout the church, adding that Francis had faced criticism not just from « traditionalist Catholics » but also from « angry liberals. »

Although bishops varied in attitudes to the traditional Latin Mass, many had « become more open-minded and reassured » after visiting more traditionalist communities who « respected their authority, produced vocations and made sense financially, » Shaw said.

« Opponents of the traditional Mass have expressed fears about a parallel church — but if we’re now pushed out of parishes, this really will create a parallel church, » Shaw told OSV News.

« People signed this letter because they care about the Latin Mass and believe spiritual traditions have value and can’t just be crushed under the mortar of stupid, incomprehensible arguments. The way to deal with diversity isn’t to marginalize an already marginalized minority even more. »

In a Times article accompanying the July 2 letter, composer James Macmillan said the 48 signatories had acted « in defense of religious freedom. »

American signatories of the July 15 letter said that the traditional Latin Mass « cannot be understood as a mere refuge from modernity, for some of the most creative minds on our planet are inspired by the Latin Mass — its beauty, its reverence, its mystery — to make new works of art and also to serve the least among us. »

Turning to the Blessed Virgin Mary in prayer

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BREAKING: Trump names Vance, Ohio’s Catholic senator, as his 2024 running mate

Former President Donald Trump on July 15 named Ohio Sen. J.D. Vance, a Catholic, as his running mate on the Republican ticket in November.

Trump was widely expected to name his running mate at the Republican National Convention, which began the same day.

« After lengthy deliberation and thought, and considering the tremendous talents of many others, I have decided that the person best suited to assume the position of Vice President of the United States is Senator J.D. Vance of the Great State of Ohio, » Trump wrote in a post on his social media platform Truth Social. « J.D. honorably served our Country in the Marine Corps, graduated from Ohio State University in two years, Summa Cum Laude, and is a Yale Law School Graduate, where he was Editor of The Yale Law Journal, and President of the Yale Law Veterans Association. »

Vance, author of « Hillbilly Elegy, » was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2022 after a contentious primary election in the Buckeye State, in which he got Trump’s endorsement. Vance, who is Catholic, is married to Usha Vance, a litigator. The couple has three young children.

Trump said Vance « will be strongly focused on the people he fought so brilliantly for, the American Workers and Farmers in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Minnesota, and far beyond. »

Vance, was at one time a staunch critic of Trump, but became a closer ally of the former president as he campaigned for the U.S. Senate, and is ideologically aligned with Trump on issues like foreign policy.

If elected, Vance would be just the second Catholic to serve as vice president in U.S. history. The first is President Joe Biden, who served vice president for two terms before his own election to the White House in 2020 made him the second Catholic to serve as U.S. president.

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(Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time-Year B; This homily was given on July 14, 2024 at Saint Augustine Church in Providence, Rhode Island; See Amos 7:12-15, Ephesians 1:3-14 and Mark 6:7-13)  

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Vatican says Trump assassination attempt ‘wounds people and democracy’

The Vatican on July 14 expressed « concern » over the assassination attempt on former President Donald Trump and said the attack « wounds people and democracy, causing suffering and death. »

The statement, issued by the Holy See Press Office, said the Vatican joins with the U.S. bishops in prayers for the victims, for peace in the country and « that the motives of the violent may never prevail. »

The Vatican’s response comes one day after a 20-year old gunman fired multiple shots at the former president and current Republican presidential nominee during a July 13 campaign rally in Pennsylvania, one of which pierced the upper portion of his right ear. While the president was safely escorted away from the scene, the incident killed one spectator and critically injured at least two others The shooter was also later killed by U.S. Secret Service personnel. 

In the immediate aftermath of the attack, U.S. Catholic leaders offered their prayers for Trump and other victims of the attack, while condemning the rise of political violence in the United States.

« We also pray for our country and for an end to political violence, which is never a solution to political disagreements, » said Archbishop Timothy Broglio, president of the U.S. bishops’ conference, in a statement.

Bishop David Zubik of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which includes Butler County, where the shooting took place, pleaded for the country to « join together in prayer for the health and safety of all, for healing and peace, and for an end to this climate of violence in our world. »

« Our nation has once again witnessed another deadly and tragic shooting today, » Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston said in a statement.

« As a nation, we must come to grips with the incessant violence that has too often become the norm. It must stop, » the cardinal continued. « We must find peaceful ways to resolve our differences and avoid all political violence of any kind. May the Lord bless our country and all who seek a just and peaceful society. »

In a statement, Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago described the assassination attempt as « horrific. »

« This is a moment of great risk in the history of our democracy, » he wrote. « May God the Father enfold all his children in his loving embrace, encouraging us to listen to our better angels, to break the cycle of violence, and choose peace. »

As of earlier this month, some 277 people have been killed and more than 1,130 people injured in 261 recorded mass shootings in the United States this year.

Turning to the Blessed Virgin Mary in prayer