Tag Archives: Pope Benedict XVI

Benedict’s legacy: charity and truth

Fr Shenan Boquet writes of Pope Benedict’s lasting legacy of charity and truth . . .

Father Shenan J. Boquet

Father Shenan J. Boquet

As the world waited eight years ago for the white smoke to emerge from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel, millions wondered not only who the next pope would be, but also how anyone could possibly follow the man who was already being referred to as “John Paul the Great.”

Of course, we now know the answer. The shy and brilliant theologian, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, was selected by his brother cardinals, and his papacy was one of persistent and clear teaching about the love of Jesus Christ. The man we now refer to as Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI, followed his unfollowable predecessor, not by trying to be like him, but by placing his own substantial gifts at the disposal of the Holy Spirit.

Though we cannot possibly consider all of Benedict’s work here, we can safely say that his three encyclicals alone have given us a wealth of material for reflection, effectively bringing the eternal truths, of which the Catholic Church is steward, into dialogue with the challenges of today’s culture.

In the last of these encyclicals, Caritas in Veritate (Charity in Truth), Benedict addresses the charitable efforts of the Church. First a little background: It is well known that billions of dollars go from the world’s wealthier nations to impoverished nations. Often in the form of loans or material aid, donations go through governments, through large multinational organizations such as the United Nations, and through charitable foundations and organizations.

Over the last few decades, some worthy projects have become progressively corrupted with the false premise that poverty would be alleviated if the poor would stop having children. This insidious lie has become practically impervious to contrary evidence, such as the fact that wealthier nations are quite often more densely populated than the poorest nations — and that wealthy nations became wealthy while they had higher fertility rates, and thus larger families.

Still, the belief that children are an obstacle to progress is now as much a shared assumption of international development efforts as is the need for improved education and infrastructure. Human Life International’s pro-life missionaries know that this destructive attitude is particularly difficult to overcome. Indeed, billions that could be spent on worthy projects go instead to legalize abortion in nations that do not want it and to promote contraception as a means of improving “reproductive health.”

Catholic charitable organizations, Benedict writes in Caritas in Veritate, have a particular responsibility to have a radically different approach to poverty. The good work done by these groups must be done in a spirit of true evangelization, unabashedly bringing the love of Jesus Christ — caritas — to the poor. We provide material assistance in an efficient manner with high professional standards, but we must see in our brother and sister who live in poverty not a problem to be solved, but the greatest resource for their own turn toward prosperity.

Catholics cannot pursue this essential work in the same way as secular organizations, but rather with the knowledge that every person is destined for heaven — and as such has needs beyond mere material assistance. When we recognize this truth, we see in the poor our shared dignity as we are made in the image of our Creator. This is what Benedict means when he calls for “the development of every person and of the whole person.”

Clearly, this is not the prevailing ethos of the international development community. For this reason, Catholic organizations must be very careful about how they pursue their missions. Faith formation of staff must be a high priority.

As Benedict says in Caritas in Veritate, “Openness to life is at the center of true development” (# 28). It’s sad that such common sense would be considered revolutionary, but in the field of international development, it most surely is. Benedict has called for a renewal of the Church’s charitable work, which is as much a part of her mission, he says, as is the liturgy and the sacraments. To ensure that he was not misunderstood, Benedict promulgated new articles within Canon Law this past December, expressly empowering bishops to ensure the faithfulness of the Church’s charitable organizations to the entirety of her social and moral doctrine.

The great work done by Catholic charitable organizations must continue. It can be a tremendous vehicle for sharing both the Gospel and the truths of the Church’s social and moral doctrine. For his eloquent and persistent articulation of these truths in Caritas in Veritate — and in dozens of other statements and documents — we can be very grateful for Benedict’s pontificate. And we pray that Pope Francis will continue to pursue this urgent effort in charity and in truth.

FR. SHENAN BOQUET is the president of Human Life International.

Philly: World Meeting of Families

Philadelphia archdiocese hopeful that Pope Francis will attend 2015 gathering . . .

Now that Pope Francis has been installed as the 266th successor of St. Peter, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia is hopeful the Holy Father’s first visit to North America is only two years away.

The Vatican officially announced on Feb. 25 that the City of Brotherly Love had been officially chosen to host the eighth World Meeting of Families in 2015.

Papal visit?

This marks the first time that the event, established by Blessed John Paul II in 1994, will be held in the United States. Hundreds of thousands of people from around the world are expected to attend. The event was last hosted in 2012 by Milan, Italy, where more than 1 million people from 153 nations gathered for a Mass with Pope Benedict XVI.

The announcement represents positive news for an archdiocese that has been unsettled recently by sexual-abuse scandals and Catholic school closings.

Archbishop Charles Chaput

Archbishop Charles Chaput

Faithful Catholics, Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput explained, long for an opportunity “to show their love of God and his Church to the world, to deepen God’s presence in their own families and to share Jesus Christ with a world that urgently needs him.”

The meeting, which seeks to celebrate the good news of the family and its intrinsic value to the good of society, will be held Sept. 22-27, 2015.

“The more we encourage and support the integrity of families, the healthier society becomes,” said Archbishop Chaput.

In a standing-room-only conference room crowded with cameras and media, Archbishop Chaput, in response to a question, stated that he fully expected the new pope to attend the meeting in Philadelphia.

Not just for Catholics

In 1979, John Paul II visited the Philadelphia region, which is home to an estimated 1.5 million Catholics. But, as the Philadelphia archbishop pointed out, the meeting isn’t only for Catholics.

“The World Meeting of Families is meant to be a gift not just to Catholics in Philadelphia, but to every person of good will in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and surrounding areas,” the archbishop said. “Everyone with a generous heart is welcome to be a part of it.”

Archbishop Chaput, in a lighthearted moment, said, “I’ve been asked why the Holy Father picked Philadelphia. The answer is simple. His Holiness didn’t tell me.”

But he quickly pointed out Philadelphia’s “uniquely rich” history as one of the birthplaces of the political ideals of human rights, religious freedom and human dignity. The issue of religious liberty was close to Emeritus Pope Benedict’s heart for many years, and he spoke about it many times throughout his pontificate.

“He’s always seen the strength of the family as a guarantee of human maturity and freedom,” noted Archbishop Chaput of the now-retired Pope. “The more we encourage and support the integrity of families, the healthier society becomes.”

He also pointed to Philadelphia as being home to two great American saints — Mother Katharine Drexel and Bishop John Neumann, whose legacies of Catholic education and service continue today in Catholic ministries.

Archbishop Chaput told reporters that the cost of the event in Milan was in excess of $15 million, and that a lay board would be working in coming months with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to raise funds for the expenses associated with the meeting.

The logo for the eighth World Meeting of Families was also unveiled on Feb. 25 — a bell with a cross and five distinct figures, designed to reflect “family unity, the city itself and also the city’s role as the birthplace of religious freedom in the United States,” according to a statement by the archdiocese.

MATT ARCHBOLD is a Philadelphia-based journalist. This article has been updated from the original version, published at NCRegister.com on Feb. 25. Reprinted with permission.

Well done, Holy Father

Pope Benedict XVI’s teaching will take the Church generations to unpack . . .

Patrick Novecosky

Patrick Novecosky

My hat’s off to him. Pope Benedict XVI sure knows how to make headlines. His Feb. 11 announcement that he would step down as the Church’s 265th successor of St. Peter was heard around the world.

The Pope’s decision took many by surprise — including New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan who said he was “startled” by the news. But after some reflection, many Vatican-watchers said they had noticed the Holy Father’s decline in energy and his loss of weight over the last couple of months — the very reasons Benedict gave for stepping aside. (Click here for a related story.)

The Church is now in a period of sede vacante (Latin for “the seat being vacant”). It’s a time of prayer and reflection — prayer of thanksgiving for Benedict’s papacy and prayer for his successor. A time also for reflecting on what Benedict taught us.

One thing I’ve pondered is the remarkable complementarity between Blessed John Paul II and Benedict. One was a philosopher and poet, the other a theologian and teacher. One an extrovert, the other an introvert. Effortlessly charismatic, John Paul was a natural communicator. Benedict, on the other hand, didn’t shrink from the spotlight, but he didn’t crave it either.

While the two men may have differed in temperament and personality, they were of one mind and one voice when it came to proclaiming the Gospel and the teachings of the Church. Benedict was the natural successor to the man who unpacked and implemented the teachings of the Second Vatican Council. John Paul gave us the new evangelization and Benedict gave it shape and substance — then made it one of the Church’s top priorities in the West.

In the final months of John Paul’s life, he gave serious thought to stepping down. After prayer and reflection, he opted to live out his final days publicly. Who can forget his Easter Sunday 2005 appearance at the window of the papal apartments? Aides had readied a microphone, and he tried to utter a few words but was unable to speak.

While John Paul the extrovert showed us how to die with grace, Benedict the introvert taught us a lesson in surrendering, of not clinging to power and things of the world. This prayerful servant of God knew it was time to hand the Keys of Peter to a younger man. Now let’s beg the Holy Spirit for his guidance for the next Vicar of Christ.

PATRICK NOVECOSKY is Legatus magazine’s editor-in-chief. He will be in Rome to report on the conclave to elect a new pope.

Pope Benedict XVI stuns the world

Holy Father resigns, conclave to elect 266th Pope will take place later this month . . .

Pope Benedict XVI

Pope Benedict XVI

It had been nearly 600 years since a successor of St. Peter resigned from his post. After months of reflection and prayer, Pope Benedict XVI became the third pope in the last 1,000 years to resign from the Chair of Peter.

The Feb. 11 announcement that shook the world has now given way to speculation as to who will become the 266th successor of St. Peter. The 115 cardinals who will choose the next pope (including 11 Americans and three Canadians) have already begun to assemble in Rome for meetings, prayer and discernment.

The Resignation

While the surprise announcement took everyone by surprise, Pope Benedict gave several hints at his decision that most Vatican-watchers missed or dismissed.

On April 29, 2009, Pope Benedict stopped in Aquila, Italy, and visited the tomb of an obscure medieval pope named St. Celestine V (1215- 1296). After a brief prayer, he left his pallium, the symbol of his episcopal authority as bishop of Rome, on Celestine’s tomb.

As Scott Hahn pointed out, Pope Celestine V was elected “somewhat against his will, shortly before his 80th birthday (Ratzinger was 78 when he was elected pope in 2005). Just five months later, after issuing a formal decree allowing popes to resign (or abdicate, like other rulers), Pope Celestine V exercised that right. And now Pope Benedict XVI has chosen to follow in the footsteps of this venerable model.”

Pope Benedict also indicated his inclination to step down in an interview with German papal biographer Peter Seewald. The writer told German magazine Focus that when he met with the Pope in December, he appeared to have lost vision in one eye, was losing his hearing and looked emaciated.

“I had never seen him so exhausted, so worn out,” Seewald said. “He did not look unwell, but the fatigue that had taken over his whole being, his body and soul could not be missed.”

Seewald quoted Benedict as having said, “I’m an old man, and the strength is ebbing. I think what I’ve done is enough.” When Seewald asked if he was considering giving up the papacy, the Pope responded, “That depends on how much my physical strength will force me to that.”

The Conclave

Pope Benedict acknowledged his impending retirement during his first public appearance after the announcement. “I did this in full freedom for the good of the Church, after having prayed at length and having examined my conscience before God, well aware of the seriousness of the act, but equally conscious of no longer being able to carry out the Petrine ministry with the strength that it requires,” he said during his Feb. 13 general audience.

The resignation became official on Feb. 28 when the Pope left the Vatican for his summer residence at Castel Gandolfo. He will live there until remodeling work is completed on the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery in the Vatican Gardens.

In his Feb. 14 address to thousands of priests from the diocese of Rome, in what turned out to be a farewell address in his capacity as their bishop, the Holy Father described his retirement plans.

“Even if I am withdrawing into prayer, I will always be close to all of you, and I am sure that you will be close to me, even if I remain hidden to the world,” he said in his mostly extemporaneous remarks.

According to current rules, established by Blessed John Paul II, a period of sede vacante (Latin for “the seat being empty”) follows a pope’s death or resignation. A conclave of papal electors (cardinals in good standing under the age of 80) must convene between 15-20 days after the Chair of Peter is vacated. Benedict altered those rules, allowing cardinals to shorten the length of the sede vacante.

Presiding over the conclave will be the most senior cardinal-bishop under age 80, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re. Two secret ballots are held each morning and two each afternoon in the Sistine Chapel. A two-thirds majority is required. Ballots are burned after each round. Black smoke means no decision; white smoke signals that cardinals have chosen a pope and he has accepted. Bells also signal the election of a pope to help avoid possible confusion over the color of smoke coming from chimney of the Sistine Chapel.

The presiding cardinal, if not elected himself, is charged with asking the elected candidate to accept the papacy. If the candidate accepts election, the presiding cardinal will ask what the new pope’s name will be. The cardinals may elect any baptized Catholic male, but since 1389, they have always elected a fellow cardinal.

PATRICK NOVECOSKY is the editor of Legatus magazine.

The Year of Faith and the Christian moral life

Christian Brugger explains why the Year of Faith, which marks Veritatis Splendor‘s 20th anniversary, calls for a renewed effort to evangelize. Pope Benedict, he says, is aware of the loss of Christian faith in formerly Christian Europe and the Americas. For years he’s been saying that Europe’s loss of faith spells the ultimate end of its culture . . . .

Christian Brugger

Christian Brugger

A comment on the New York Times’ website is rather telling: “I am tired of the Catholic bishops interfering” (11/24/12). The writer was worked up over the Wisconsin bishops’ statement issued last July criticizing a new type of living will for fear it might open the way for passive euthanasia.

People don’t seem to care much about the doctrines of Catholic faith. Unlike in the fourth or 15th century, beliefs such as the two natures of Christ or the power to confer the sacraments don’t elicit much protest. But the Church’s stance on moral issues brings out the fight in people: Keep your religion to yourself; get your hands off my body parts; stay out of my bedroom, etc. Catholics are told that they oppose “marriage equality,” that they wage “war on women,” and that they “condemn people to die from AIDS.” Moral issues are the battlegrounds of our age.

We’ve just begun the Holy Year of Faith. It’s called “holy” because its purpose is to encourage holiness among Christians. Holiness is more than professing beliefs, even true beliefs. Holiness is the integration of all one’s thoughts, plans and actions around the truths of the Christian faith so that our whole person expresses and serves charity. We might say that holiness is living faith — faith perspicuously and coherently alive in action.

But what is faith? Faith, the Catechism teaches, is our response to divine revelation. Divine revelation is God’s self-communication to humanity — God’s gift of himself to us. Through this gift, he invites us into a personal salvific relationship with himself.

Faith is our acceptance of God’s invitation. Our acceptance has two chief dimensions: a cognitive one and a moral one. The cognitive one — believing in the truths of revelation — is responsible for shaping our understanding of reality, how we think. The moral one is responsible for shaping how we live our lives in light of reality. It includes all the implications of the truths of faith for Christian living.

Faith and life. It sounds simple. And yet the temptation to separate the two, to detach what we believe from how we live, is strong. When he observed that temptation increasing in the Western world 20 years ago, Pope John Paul II issued his great encyclical on moral theology, Veritatis Splendor (1993). The Pope wrote the document in response to the raging crisis of dissent from the Church’s authoritative moral teaching in Europe and North America. Traditional norms in sexual ethics and the ethics of human life were being systematically denied by large numbers of Catholic theologians, including those teaching at Catholic universities and seminaries.

In the encyclical’s first chapter, John Paul reflects on the dialogue between Jesus and the rich young man in Matthew 19, reasserting the inseparable connection between faith and life. Jesus says to the young man who wishes to know what he should do to gain eternal life: “Go, sell all your possessions and give them to the poor, then come follow me.” John Paul notes that Jesus here inextricably links discipleship to conduct.

He then goes on to write, “The Church is in fact a communion both of faith and life; her rule of life is ‘faith working through love.’ No damage must be done to the harmony between faith and life.” He then warns: “The unity of the Church is damaged not only by Christians who reject or distort the truths of faith, but also by those who disregard the moral obligations to which they are called by the Gospel” (# 26). Authentic Christian faith always expresses itself in a Christian way of life.

Pope Benedict XVI is well aware of the fact that the Year of Faith coincides with the 20th anniversary of Veritatis Splendor’s publication. He is also keenly aware of the loss of Christian faith in formerly Christian Europe and the Americas. For many years he’s been saying that Europe’s loss of Christian faith spells the demise of the continent’s 1,500-year-old culture. When a people loses its faith, the culture that their faith built goes with it.

There are two types of holy years — ordinary and extraordinary. An extraordinary holy year marks some outstanding event or theme; an ordinary one marks the passage of years. The Year of Faith is an extraordinary holy year. And extraordinary it is! The post-Christian Western world badly needs extraordinary grace to throw off the fatal mistress of disbelief with whom she’s danced now for over a century.

More than ever we need to pray for the new evangelization!

E. Christian Brugger is the J. Francis Cardinal Stafford Chair of Moral Theology at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver. He is also a Senior Fellow in Ethics and Director of the Fellows Program at the Culture of Life Foundation in Washington, D.C.

Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives

This is Pope Benedict XVI’s final chapter in his Jesus of Nazareth trilogy . . .

ratzingerJesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives
Image Books, 2012
144 pages, $20 hardcover

In the final installment of his three-part series on Jesus, Pope Benedict XVI focuses exclusively on Christ’s life as a child. The Pope presents Jesus’ birth as not merely a matter of history, but as an event of “unfolding significance” for people today, with implications like the limits of political power and the purpose of human freedom.

It’s a story of longing and seeking, as demonstrated by the Magi searching for the redemption offered by the birth of a new king. It’s a story trusting completely in God as seen in the faith of Simeon when he is in the presence of the Christ child. Ultimately, Jesus’ life and message is a story for today — one that speaks to the restlessness of the human heart searching for truth.

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Fifty years since Vatican II

Pope Benedict XVI opened New Evangelization synod and Year of Faith in October . . .

Pope Benedict XVI

Catholic Church of 2012 possesses “a more sober and humble joy” compared to the optimism that marked the Second Vatican Council’s opening 50 years ago,” according to Pope Benedict XVI.

“Over these 50 years we have learned and experienced how original sin exists and is translated, ever and anew, into individual sins which can also become structures of sin,” the Pope said during a candlelight vigil in St. Peter’s Square that marked the opening of the Year of Faith on Oct. 11.

“We have seen how weeds are also always present in the field of the Lord,” he added. “We have seen how human fragility is also present in the Church, how the ship of the Church is also sailing against a counter wind and is threatened by storms; and at times we have thought that the Lord is sleeping and has forgotten us.”

Year of Faith

The Holy Father spoke from the window of his study in scenes deliberately reminiscent of the opening day of Second Vatican Council on Oct. 11, 1962.

“On this day 50 years ago I was in the square looking up at this window where the Good Pope, Blessed John XXIII, appeared and addressed us with unforgettable words, words full of poetry and goodness, words from the heart,” Benedict recalled.

A young priest, he had participated in the Second Vatican Council as an academic adviser to Cardinal Joseph Frings of Cologne. The Pope also recalled how the happy and enthusiastic crowds of 1962 were certain that “a new springtime for the Church was in the offing.

“Today too we are happy. We have joy in our hearts but, I would say, it is perhaps a more sober and humble joy,” he said.

Over the past half-century, he said, the Church has repeatedly witnessed “how the Lord does not forget us” but, instead, has brought forth new signs of life throughout the Church that “illuminate the world and give us a guarantee of God’s goodness.”

New Evangelization

A few days earlier, the Holy Father inaugurated the Synod for the New Evangelization. Bishops from around the world gathered in Rome to discuss and plan ways to implement the new evangelization in the Church and in their dioceses.

Two Legates attended the synod. Curtis Martin, Denver Chapter, attended as a consultor and Ralph Martin (no relation), Ann Arbor Chapter, attended as an expert. Both men are members of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization.

The Pope officially opened the synod, under the theme “The New Evangelization and the Transmission of the Christian Faith” with the celebration of Mass in St. Peter’s Square on Oct. 7.

In his homily, Benedict reflected on Christ’s call to announce the Gospel around the world. He stressed the role of the Catholic Church, saying that the “Church exists to evangelize.”

“Such renewed evangelical dynamism produces a beneficent influence on the two specific ‘branches’ developed by it, that is, on the one hand the missio ad gentes or announcement of the Gospel to those who do not yet know Jesus Christ and his message of salvation, and on the other the new evangelization, directed principally at those who, though baptized, have drifted away from the Church and live without reference to the Christian life.”

The Pope reiterated the synodal assembly’s purpose to evangelize those who have strayed from the faith, saying its rediscovery can be a “source of grace which brings joy and hope to personal, family and social life.”

In recalling the Second Vatican Council’s call to holiness for all Christians, Benedict said the call to holiness also helps us to contemplate the fragility, and even the sins of Christians. He emphasized that it’s not possible to speak of the new evangelization without “a sincere desire for conversion.”

The Holy Father concluded his homily asking the intercession of the saints and “great evangelizers” — particularly his predecessor, Blessed John Paul II, referring to the late pope’s pontificate as “an example of the new evangelization.”

This article contains reporting from the Catholic News Agency

Year of Faith: A call to love

Legatus chaplain Bishop Sam Jacobs writes that now is the time to activate our faith . . .

Bishop Sam Jacobs

Pope Benedict XVI is inviting Catholics around the world to grow deeper in their understanding of the faith and to fall more deeply in love with our Lord Jesus Christ. To accomplish this, he has invited the Universal Church to a Year of Faith.

This special year begins on Oct. 11, 2012 — the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council — and ends on Nov. 24, 2013. (See related story on page 16.) This is not the first time that the Church has celebrated a Year of Faith in recent memory. In 1967, Pope Paul VI called for such an observance in commemoration of the 19th century since the martyrdom of Saints Peter and Paul.

In writing about the current celebration, Pope Benedict said: “This will be a good opportunity to usher the whole Church into a time of particular reflection and rediscovery of the faith” (Porta Fidei, #4). He goes on to say that the Year of Faith “is a summons to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord, the one Savior of the world. In the mystery of his death and resurrection, God has revealed in its fullness the love that saves and calls us to conversion of life through the forgiveness of sins” (#6).

Our faith is not a matter of verbal or mental assent to statements. Faith centers on the person of God. To say “I believe in One God” is to assent to a personal commitment to the One God who has revealed himself to the world. It is a commitment to accept who God is and to follow him with one’s total being. In the words of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “Faith is first of all a personal adherence of man to God. At the same time, and inseparably, it is a free assent to the whole truth that God has revealed” (CCC, #150).

As children, most of us were baptized into the faith, which was revealed by Jesus Christ to the apostles and their successors. It was the faith of our parents — even if it was limited — that brought us to the saving waters of regeneration and new life. We became sons and daughters of God. Over the years, our parents and others have taught us the fundamental aspects of our faith as we progressed on the journey of faith from Baptism to first Penance to first Eucharist to Confirmation to Marriage or Orders.

For the most part the message was mere words that we heard and accepted but for some time may not have been fully appropriated in the core of our being. We were sacramentalized and catechized but not fully evangelized. We may have known the teachings, but did we fully know and accept Jesus as the Lord and Savior of our lives? We may have recited the creedal statements in a memorized, rote manner while never living their full meaning in our daily lives. There may have been a disconnection between what we professed and how we lived.

Faith is a gift from God, but a gift that needs to be developed and acted upon. The muscles in my arms are physical gifts that enable me to lift and move things. But if my arm is strapped to my body for 10 years, those muscles unexercised will atrophy and become almost useless to me. Just to know something in my head and not live it in my heart and in my life will end in spiritual atrophy. Just as a child’s body in an adult frame is very limited and may be more susceptible to disease, so a child-limited faith in an adult is very weak indeed and susceptible to many threats to one’s faith.

Our faith is not a private component of our lives. My faith is to be witnessed by others as something real and authentic, not just mere words. Because of their faith in Jesus Christ, millions of Christians throughout the centuries have endured suffering and even death. Their faith and love, their commitment and trust in the one who gave His life for them, motivated them to choose life with Jesus rather than life without Jesus. At the same time there are examples of people whose faith was weak and undeveloped and, because of this, gave in to the threats of their persecutors in order to save their human lives.

During this Year of Faith we are called to become more conscious of what has been handed down to us and to fully embrace it both in our head and in our heart. We are called to deepen our understanding and ability to express and defend our faith. We are invited to live our faith in a public way, so that our light may shine before others.

Bishop Sam Jacobs leads the Houma-Thibodaux diocese in Louisiana. He is Legatus’ international chaplain.

A great time to be Catholic

Patrick Novecosky: Challenging times produce saints, so we must embrace our faith . . .

Patrick Novecosky

One of the great things about editing this magazine is that I get to live and breathe Catholicism 24/7. It also brings with it a great challenge: God expects me to live my faith visibly.

Being recognized as a “public Catholic” means that I must model myself after Christ and conform to the Church’s teachings. As “ambassadors for Christ,” members of Legatus have committed themselves to this same standard. Legatus’ mission statement — to study, live and spread the Catholic faith in our business, professional, and personal lives — makes that abundantly clear.

And what a time to be “public Catholics”! It’s during times of persecution and challenge that we have the opportunity to become heroic Catholics. We recently celebrated the feast of one of my heroes — St. Maximilian Kolbe. The courageous Polish evangelist was formed under fire. Anti-Catholicism was at a fever pitch in Europe in the 1920s. In response, he organized the Militia Immaculata to work for conversion of sinners and enemies of the Catholic Church. Ultimately, he gave his life in exchange for another man at Auschwitz, the Nazi death camp.

The Obama administration’s HHS mandate requiring employers to provide contraception and abortion-inducing drugs in their health care plans is a clear sign that we are in a new time of religious persecution in America. A courageous witness to the truths of our faith is required. It’s a teaching moment for Catholics who are unclear on the Church’s teaching on abortion and contraception — and it’s a moment to boldly witness to non-Catholics the truth we profess in these teachings.

A radical sacrifice may be required of us. Earlier this year, Cardinal Francis George of Chicago said, “I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison, and his successor will die a martyr in the public square.”

Pope Benedict XVI is also quite concerned about the erosion of religious liberty in America. In a letter to the Knights of Columbus last month, Vatican secretary of state Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone quoted the Pope saying, “At a time when concerted efforts are being made to redefine and restrict the exercise of the right to religious freedom,” the Holy Father exhorts the lay faithful to “counter a reductive secularism which would delegitimize the Church’s participation in public debate.”

Just as St. Maximilian boldly evangelized in his day, we must do the same by studying, living and spreading the faith. We must do so courageously and with great humility — even if it means the ultimate sacrifice.

Patrick Novecosky is Legatus magazine’s editor-in-chief.

The Environment

Who knew? Our own Pope Benedict XVI is the world’s No. 1 environmentalist . . .

The Environment
Our Sunday Visitor, 2012
222 pages, $14.95 hardcover

Pope Benedict has never been shy with regard to environmental issues. He has spoken about the real meaning of progress and development — and what that means for our planet of limited resources.

He has discussed the connection between science and nature and how the path of cultivating peace is directly linked to protecting creation. An unprecedented collection of excerpts from what the Pope has had to say regarding the environment, this book is a treasure trove of insights and inspiration.

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