Congratulations to ERP and Lay Witness!

Catholics United for the Faith is happy to announce that our outreaches Emmaus Road Publishing and Lay Witness magazine have been honored again this year with several Catholic Press Association awards.

Lay Witness columnist Emily Stimpson took the first place award for Best Regular Column in a General Interest magazine for her series “A New Evangelization.” Her book, The Catholic Girl’s Survival Guide for the Single Years, also won a CPA award in the Gender Issues category (third place).

Emmaus Road won two of the spots in the Family Issues category for books. William B. May’s Getting the Marriage Conversation Right: A Guide for Effective Dialogue won first place and Nancy Hume’s Bible study for engaged couples, Build Your House on Rock, took third place.

Congratulations to the winners! You can subscribe to the award-winning Lay Witness here  and browse through the great Catholic books available through Emmaus Road Publishing.

New Cathedral Plans for Steubenville!

This evening after celebrating Mass to kick off the second annual Fortnight for Freedom promoting religious liberty, Steubenville Bishop Jeffrey Monforton unveiled plans for the renovation of Holy Name Cathedral in downtown Steubenville.

“The Diocese of Steubenville was established in 1944,” the Bishop told those in attendance. “But we will comb through the archival records and ideally be able to acknowledge all parishes that existed within the diocesan pastoral footprint prior to 1944.” Bishop Monforton said that “all parishes have equal importance in building up the Kingdom” and said he hoped the renovated cathedral would serve as a “living archive” of each parish in the diocese.

Seeking to update the Romanesque architecture is only one part of the ambitious project. The bishop of this 40,000 member diocese expressed a desire that the renovated cathedral will also contribute to the renewal of the local community, and a “renewal of our commitment to personal holiness, sacred service, and unity of purpose.”

A CUF Patron for All Seasons

Tomorrow, June 22, is the feast of one of the patrons of Catholics United for the Faith: St. Thomas More. Most of us are familiar with the story of this English layman beheaded during the reign of Henry VIII.

When More refused to betray the eternal truth about marriage, he unknowingly became the patron of those in our culture today seeking to preserve and defend the institution of marriage. How providential that CUF’s founders had the inspiration to take More on as an intercessor and patron of this apostolate, especially when once again God’s plan for marriage has fallen out of fashion.

CUF continues to preserve and defend the institution of marriage, not only by assisting our members through our Catholic Responses department with questions regarding the sacrament, but also through formative articles in Lay Witness magazine (including a regular column this year by Dr. John Bergsma on the biblical understanding of marriage), and excellent resources from Emmaus Road Publishing (such as Getting the Marriage Conversation Right: A Guide for Effective Dialogue and Build Your House on Rock).

If you are committed to defending marriage, please consider joining CUF and assisting in our efforts.

St. Thomas More, pray for us!

A Conversion Story You Won’t Want to Miss!

Oklahoma native Father Ray Ryland, Ph.D., J.D., was an Episcopal clergyman from 1950–1963. In 1963 he was received with his wife, Ruth, and their five children into the Catholic Church. Twenty years later, he was ordained to the priesthood of the Catholic Church, with a dispensation from the rule of celibacy under the Pastoral Provision.

Fr. Ryland served as a naval officer in WWII, as professor of theology at the University of San Diego from 1969–1991, and as adjunct professor of theology at Franciscan University of Steubenville from 1991–1994 and 1998–2000. He has been chaplain and board member of Catholics United for the Faith and the Coming Home Network International for over a decade.

His exciting journey to Catholicism is detailed in his newly released memoir, Drawn from Shadows Into Truth, now available from Emmaus Road Publishing.

A fascinating autobiography in the spirit of Bl. John Henry Newman, Drawn from Shadows Into Truth: A Memoir is the captivating narrative of Father Ryland’s quest for Jesus Christ and the One Church He founded is a spiritual and intellectual adventure—from a poor Oklahoma farm boy to a naval officer to a Protestant minister to a Harvard lawyer to a married Catholic priest with five children, twenty-two grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Pick it up, and you’ll be unable to put it down!

St. Rita, Pray for Marriages!

Today is the feast of St. Rita of Cascia, an extraordinary woman of devotion and perseverance.

For almost 20 years, Rita (Born Margherita Lotti) patiently prayed for the conversion of her husband, who persistently abused her. After her husband was murdered, this saintly woman eventually entered a religious community in the Augustinian tradition. Rita died on this day in 1457 and was canonized by Pope Leo XIII in 1900.

Whatever our primary vocations may be, Rita’s example demonstrates prayerful long-suffering we would do well to imitate. But, in particular, those experiencing trouble in their marriages find a friend in this powerful intercessor. Let us ask St. Rita to intervene at the throne of God for all those struggling with difficult situations in their married life.

St. Rita, pray for us!

 

“Fulfillment of All Desire” Still Inspiring

More than half a decade after its publication, The Fulfillment of All Desire is still introducing readers to the spiritual treasury of the Church’s teaching on prayer. One of those readers, Brett Metzler, credits Ralph Martin’s book with leading him to the seminary.

Now a seminarian at St. Joseph’s in Covington, LA, Metzler learned how to articulate his desire for God and discern a call to the priesthood while reading Fulfillment during his college years.

CBS Dallas/Fort Worth published a lovely article on Metzler’s experience as a seminarian. Read the full story here.

Will Francis Reunite East and West? (Part 2)

In addition to the Patriarch Bartholomew’s presence, other Orthodox prelates similarly excited media comment with their attendance at Pope Francis’ installation.

This was particularly true of the Metropolitan Hilarion Aleyev of Volokolamsk, who represented the Patriarch of Moscow, Kyril, and has been in charge of the Russian Orthodox Church’s ecumenical affairs. He is well known in Rome and had often met with Pope Benedict and given important addresses encouraging Catholics and Orthodox to become allies in a common struggle to recover Europe’s Christian patrimony. He has spelled out in realistic terms the common ground that exists for Catholic-Orthodox cooperation:

They are first and foremost the challenges of a godless world, which is equally hostile today to Orthodox believers and Catholics, the challenge of moral corruption, family decay, the abandonment by many people in traditionally Orthodox countries of the traditional family structure, liberalism in theology and morals, which is eroding the Christian community from within. I would like to stress, once more, that there are well-known doctrinal differences between the Orthodox and Catholic faiths, but there are also common positions in regard to morality and social issues which today, are not shared by many of the representatives of liberal Protestantism…Therefore, cooperation is first and foremost necessary between the Orthodox and Catholic Christians—and that is what I call a strategic alliance. (quoted in Inside the Vatican, March 2013)

It is the doctrinal differences between the Catholic and 15 or so Orthodox Churches marking a formal Schism developing since the 13th century which have impeded hopes for Reunion. The patriarch Bartholomew disappointed Catholics and many ecumenical observers when in an address at Georgetown University he spoke with some exaggeration of an “ontological difference” between Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy.

In Rome for the installation of the new Pope, Metropolitan Hilarion joined Patriarch Bartholomew in expressing his pleasure for “the positive momentum that we have had with Pope Benedict XVI and will continue under Pope Francis.” Yet he has also expressed traditional Russian suspicions of the Jesuits (Pope Francis is a Jesuit) who were defamed by the great novelist Dostoevsky and other Russian polemicists. He also expressed the standard Russian resentment of “Uniatism” and any Vatican approval that might be given for the expansion of Byzantine rite Ukranian Catholics into the Eastern Ukraine and for the establishment of a patriarchate long desired by them.

Significant progress towards resolving the question of the Papacy as the major dogmatic impediment to the Reunion of the Churches may be said to have occurred at the Conference of the Joint International Catholic-Orthodox Theological Commission that took place at Ravenna, Italy, in 2007.

Though refusing to admit that the Petrine Primacy was of divine institution (as held by Catholics), the Orthodox delegates by majority vote admitted in a draft-document that the Pope from the earliest centuries of the Church exercised not only a primacy of honor as the “first of bishops” but one of leadership over the Eastern Churches that was conferred and sanctioned by conciliar canons.

However, the draft-document was immediately subjected to criticism by the largest of the approximately15 unique Orthodox Churches. Russian Orthodox representatives insisted that a primacy on the level of the Universal Church is necessary but could only be one of honor and not of jurisdiction as claimed by the Pope.

The Conference was also marred by Moscow’s representatives abruptly walking out of the Conference because of a continuing jurisdictional dispute with Constantinople over an Orthodox group in Estonia. Moscow delegates also sharply rejected the notion widely spread in the media (and even in some Orthodox circles) that the Patriarch of Constantinople known for his ecumenical efforts was the “spiritual leader” or “head” of all Orthodox. As Metropolitan Hilarion later repeated, “We respect the Patriarch of Constantinople as the first in honor, but we are against viewing him as ‘Pope of the East.’”

 

There has been resentment by Russian Orthodox spokesmen at what they consider to be Constantinople’s uncanonical interference with parishes in Estonia, Hungary, England, and North America. Other Orthodox voices have joined to assert for the benefit of Western observers believing the “ecumenical patriarch” was the Eastern counterpart of the Pope that Bartholomew has no authority whatsoever over the other autocephalous Churches; he is only the “first among equals.”

It should be recalled that a number of Greek Orthodox theologians and monastics have for years denounced Patriarch Bartholomew for trying to “drag the Orthodox into union with Rome “and have rejected the Ravenna document for “concessions” to Papal Rome. The Patriarch Bartholomew was accused of “pouring forth love on heretical Rome” and furthering the “ecumenist heresy.” There is little doubt that the Patriarch’s ecumenical overtures are in part due to attempts to enhance his influence. The Patriarchate of Constantinople exists in a sorry political situation with its Greek population reduced to 3,000 in number and constantly harassed by a hostile Turkish government betraying an increased Islamist presence. This calls for the sympathy and moral support of Catholics.

Catholics can only welcome efforts on the part of various Orthodox prelates and theologians seeking to respond with some objectivity to Bl. Pope John Paul II’s famous call for a “patient and fraternal dialogue” on the nature and exercise of his Petrine primacy in the Church.

The various meetings of the International Theological Commission of Catholic and Orthodox theologians have resulted in real theological progress that is promising for the future. Previous doctrinal issues such as the Filioque and the use of Unleavened bread are no longer seen as obstacles to Reunion. However, there is the painful matter of ethnic tensions and jurisdictional conflicts existing among them which prevent common action and doctrinal agreement. The patriarchates of Constantinople and Moscow each accuse the other of “self-aggrandizement” and wishing to extend its authority over other Churches.

The key problem remaining for all the Orthodox Churches is how lacking a coherent and accepted ecclesiology concerning authority in the Church, they can even arrive at common and “official” agreements for future dialogue with Catholics concerning the Roman Primacy.