Tag Archives: Pope John Paul II

WHAT TO SEE: Why the Wall came tumbling down

The Divine Plan
Robert Orlando (writer-director), Peter Reznikoff (narrator), Paul Kengor, George Weigel, Anne Applebaum, Douglas Brinkley, Bishop Robert Barron, Cardinal Timothy Dolan
117 min • Rated: PG

Pope John Paul II and President Ronald Reagan each lost his father in his youth. Each clung to faith to guide him through difficult times. Both were actors. Each recognized the evil of atheistic communism and its oppression of human freedom. Each became a world leader, and each was shot and nearly killed in an assassination attempt in the spring of 1981. Most importantly, each believed his life was spared because God wanted him to play a role in the defeat of communism.

The two men bonded over this common goal — and, in the end, they triumphed, having exerted significant influence in such victories as the rise of the Solidarity movement in Poland, the collapse of the Soviet Union, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the end of the Cold War.

That all might sound a bit like that oft-published list of coincidences surrounding the Lincoln and Kennedy assassinations, but it’s remarkably true. Most historians agree that this president and this pope played pivotal roles in bringing about popular and peaceful revolution across Central and Eastern Europe and liberating millions from the iron grip of communist rule.

That’s the premise of the documentary film The Divine Plan, which had a limited theatrical run in late 2019 and is now available on DVD, some streaming services, and through the Ignatius Press Parish Screening Program. By way of a retelling of the story along with the recollections and insights of historians, political figures, Church leaders, scholars, and journalists, The Divine Plan makes a rather compelling case.

Reagan and the pope both sensed they had a mission to fulfill, and that sense was only magnified by their near death experiences. In their private meetings, they spoke openly about this shared vision. Reagan himself was known to refer to the “DP,” or “divine plan,” of defeating communism. He felt he had a “rendezvous with destiny,” an apt term he borrowed more than once from FDR.

Reagan found the perfect ally in the Holy Father. Together, with help from above, they altered the course of history.

GERALD KORSON is a Legatus magazine staff writer.



Fighting the good fight

Alan Sears and Alliance Defending Freedom are changing America’s legal landscape . . .

cover-nov14Alan Sears found his calling in 1993 when a group of Evangelical Christians asked him to help found a legal organization to defend religious liberty in America. The fact that Sears, a member of Legatus’ Phoenix Chapter, was Catholic didn’t matter to them. They were willing to cross denominational lines to defend one of the fundamental pillars of America’s founding.

For the past 20 years, Alliance Defending Freedom — or ADF — has defended religious freedom, the sanctity of human life, marriage, and parental rights all the way to the Supreme Court. In the process, it has become the most influential network of Christian lawyers in the country.

Faith journey

Alan Sears first learned his faith from his Baptist parents.

“I had wonderful, faithful Christian parents,” he said. “They led me to have a love for my faith and respect for God.”

As he grew older, Sears became involved with the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). Throughout the 1960s and ’70s, the SBC had an identity crisis regarding social and biblical issues. Sears held two SBC executive positions during that time. Eventually, the more conservative faction won out.

“While I was involved in this fight, I began to read the Church Fathers,” he explained. “Then I came across the writings of Pope John Paul II.”

Alan Sears

Alan Sears

Around that time, Sears met and married his wife Paula, a devout Roman Catholic. At one point, Sears’ father-in-law asked him why he wasn’t Catholic. Sears remembers saying that he would never convert because of the Catholic Church’s “unbiblical positions.”

Time and study would prove his position wrong. Before long Sears was enrolled at the Kino Institute, a Catholic catechetical school in Phoenix where he studied one-on-one with a priest.

“First, there would be one hour of teaching and studying of Fr. Hardon’s catechism,” Sears explained, “then one hour of argument. At some point, I realized that there was nothing left to fight about.”

Sears entered the Catholic Church in the summer of 1988.

Building a coalition

Besides his personal journey into the Church, Sears was working hard on his legal career. He served the Reagan administration in several positions. Notably, he was staff executive director of the Attorney General’s Commission on Pornography during the Reagan administration.

“We were on our way to wiping out hard-core pornography in the nation, but then the administration changed,” said Sears, referring to the beginning of Bill Clinton’s first term as president.

After his work in government, Sears worked for 10 years in Arizona’s largest law firm. By the time ADF’s founders came looking for him, he had experience in all areas of law, including private practice, public policy and media work.

Alan Sears with Tom Monaghan.

Alan Sears with Tom Monaghan.

“The whole idea for ADF was not about dominance of one group,” he explained. “It was 35 Evangelical groups who came together. The founders understood that we are in a time when we must stand together to fight for things that matter most.”

Today, ADF has over 170 full-time employees and over 2,500 allied lawyers working in every U.S. state and 40 foreign countries.

Every summer, ADF runs its Blackstone Legal Fellowship Program — a nine-week program that takes about 150 of the country’s best law students who go deeper into natural law, government, philosophy and key legal doctrines. That includes six weeks of “field work.”

“I think ADF is doing outstanding work,” said Bernard Dobranski, founding dean of Ave Maria School of Law. “They get students from the best law schools across the country, and the students are paid well. ADF gives them instruction that is often neglected in law school.”

Dobranski credits Sears for helping build a new generation of well-equipped Christian attorneys who can defend religious and personal liberty in and out of the courtroom.

Wesley Hodges, who graduated from Baylor in May, participated in ADF’s Collegiate Academy in mid-July. The program provides upperclassmen an opportunity to learn from renowned Christian experts in legal and policy fields.

“The program transformed the way I act and see myself as a Christian in the public square,” he explained. “It allowed me to break through the worldly notion of barriers between a person’s private beliefs and public actions — and be trained to craft excellent moral arguments in the public square as a Christian.”

Conscience rights

Wesley Hodges

Wesley Hodges

Sears said he believes that ADF’s biggest accomplishment has been to “show up” in court on a large scale. From the post-World War II era until the 1980s, he said, people of faith became silent in public policy.

“We didn’t show up,” he said. “The body of Christ forfeited. We weren’t looking at the big picture.”

One of the things that ADF’s founders realized early on was that little cases no one was paying attention to became big cases. Today, ADF takes small cases very seriously. For example, Barronelle Stutzman, a florist from Washington state, had a customer ask her to provide flowers for his same-sex wedding.

“He had been her customer for nine years,” said Kristen Waggoner, ADF’s senior vice president of legal services. “She respectfully declined because of her Christian beliefs. She got sued by the state, which was unprecedented, by the ACLU, and by the homosexual customer.”

Stutzman’s cases are being litigated in state and federal courts.

Cathy DeCarlo was a nurse at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. At the beginning of her tenure, she told the administration she would not participate in abortions. DeCarlo was assured that her conscience rights would be respected. One day, a patient was wheeled in for a 22-week abortion. DeCarlo was told that if she refused to participate in the abortion, her career would be over.

“Our legal efforts led to a rewrite of the case,” Sears said.

In light of all the cases ADF handles, Sears says the No. 1 fight in America today is for the right of conscience. Although Catholics experienced religious persecution at various times in U.S. history, today’s battle is unprecedented.

Kristen Waggoner

Kristen Waggoner

“We really haven’t seen, in a modern sense, the deliberate and direct attack on the practice of the faith as we have now,” said Sears.

One of the most obvious attacks has been the Health and Human Services mandate, an Obama administration directive that most employers pay for contraception, abortifacients and sterilizations — regardless of the employer’s religious convictions.

“Never before has there been a time when you’ve had to choose between your conscience and your business,” said Sears. “We represented a Montana pharmacist who didn’t want to administer contraceptives. He was threatened with the loss of his license despite the fact there were other pharmacies in the area that provided contraceptives. We’ve won all these cases, but we shouldn’t have to fight these cases to begin with.”

Changing the culture

ADF and its allied attorneys are hopeful for the future. They’ve played various roles in 45 cases that have gone before the U.S. Supreme Court, and they’ve won 75% of them.

“We are about building alliances and changing the culture,” said Waggoner. “I don’t know of any other organization that does this with the spirit of unity we have. To be able to do what we do with our training and strategy component — this is Alan Sears’ greatest accomplishment.”

One common observation from those who work with Sears is his humility.

“I have been in private practice for 17 years,” Waggoner explained. “And with very accomplished people, you inevitably see very big egos. What really drew me to work with Alan Sears was his genuine humility and his love for God and people. He is always telling us that we have to make ‘stars’ of people, that we must build other people up.”

Not only is ADF building people up, but they are changing the culture of the legal profession from within. Perhaps one of the biggest changes ADF has wrought is for the lawyers themselves, Dobranski said. It’s not taboo anymore to talk about faith and defend it in court.

“People have been influenced and are more willing to make arguments on behalf of religious freedom,” he said.

And for people of faith, that is a welcome change.

SABRINA ARENA FERRISI is Legatus magazine’s senior staff writer.

Learn more:


Face-to-face with a saint

Legates recount meeting with Saint John Paul II and how he touched their lives . . .

As the world’s attention turned toward Rome for the April 27 canonization of Pope John Paul II, Legatus members reminisced on the profound effect the new saint had on Legatus’ founding and growth.

John Paul’s prophetic call for the New Evangelization — one of the hallmarks of his 26-year papacy — has led Legates to think of creative ways to live out this call in the workplace, as well as in their families and communities. Often a meeting with the late pontiff confirmed a Legate’s Catholic faith or inspired a deeper commitment to Jesus Christ.

Holy Spirit moment

Legatus founder Tom Monaghan looks on while  St. John Paul II greets his wife Marjorie on May 7, 1987

Legatus founder Tom Monaghan looks on while St. John Paul II greets his wife Marjorie on May 7, 1987

In the case of Domino’s Pizza founder Tom Monaghan, his first meeting with St. John Paul II inspired him to create Legatus. Monaghan had always been a great admirer of the Holy Father because of his Polish background.

“I was brought up in an orphanage with Polish nuns and lots of Polish kids,” he explained. “Because of this, I always felt an affinity for all things Polish.”

Monaghan met the new saint for the first time on May 7, 1987. At the time, Monaghan was in Venice, Italy, for an international meeting of YPO — the Young Presidents’ Organization.

Cardinal Edmund Szoka, then-archbishop of Detroit, asked Monaghan if he wanted to attend a private Mass with the Pope, so he made the hop from Venice to Rome.

“During Mass, I received the Host directly on my tongue from Pope John Paul II, and he stood 12 inches away from me,” Monaghan said. “His eyes looked into my eyes. I will never forget that moment.”

After Mass, the 30 people who had attended Mass went to the papal library. The Pope greeted each person, spoke to them and gave them a rosary. About 45 minutes later, Monaghan got the inspiration to create Legatus based on the YPO model.

Holy encounters

Nancy Gunderson (in white, beside the Pope) places her hand on St. John Paul II’s hand, while Lynn and Michael Joseph (directly behind the Pope’s chair) look on.

Nancy Gunderson (in white, beside the Pope) places her hand on St. John Paul II’s hand, while Lynn and Michael Joseph (directly behind the Pope’s chair) look on.

Bob and Nancy Gunderson, members of Legatus’ Milwaukee Chapter, went on a Legatus pilgrimage in 1999. During a Wednesday general audience in St. Peter’s Square on Oct. 6, the Legatus group was brought forward for a photo with the Pope. Nancy was placed right next to the Holy Father.

“I knelt down to be at his level,” she said. “His arm was on the arm rest and I grabbed his arm.”

When he looked up at Nancy, she told him that everyone in Milwaukee was praying for him and that they all loved him. He smiled at her.

“It was such a thrill to be in the presence of someone you knew to be a saint,” she said.

Mike and Lynne Joseph, members of the Orange County Chapter, were standing right behind John Paul that day. Lynne reached out and put her hand on the Pope’s shoulder.

“It was a thrill just getting close enough to him to be able to pat him on the shoulder as he sat in his chair under a canopy looking out at the throngs of worshippers who filled St. Peter’s Square,” Mike said. “John Paul’s health was definitely in decline at this point. He didn’t say very much, but being in his presence was a very moving experience.”

Fr. Joseph Cocucci holds hands with St. John Paul II in 1983

Fr. Joseph Cocucci holds hands with St. John Paul II in 1983

Father Joe Cocucci, assistant chaplain for Legatus’ Wilmington Chapter, met John Paul as a young priest in 1983 during a general audience in St. Peter’s Square. When the Holy Father came down to shake hands, security called the young priest forward.

“I grabbed my friend Dr. Henry Bender, and we moved to the front row,” Fr. Cocucci explained. “When the Pope got to me, I got nervous and began to speak in Italian.”

His friend Henry and his wife had foster children back in the U.S., including a little girl with developmental problems named Sara. Doctors were having a hard time helping her.

“When the Pope got to Henry, he asked him to please pray for ‘my daughter Sara.’ The Pope replied slowly, ‘I will pray for Sara,’” Fr. Cocucci said.

Over the next year, Sara’s condition inexplicably improved — astounding all doctors. “We attributed her improvement to Pope John Paul II’s prayers,” said Fr. Cocucci.

The name of Jesus

Prominent author and speaker Ralph Martin, president of Renewal Ministries and a member of Legatus’ Ann Arbor Chapter, met John Paul half a dozen times. In the late 1970s, Martin spent an evening with the Holy Father at the invitation of Brussels Cardinal Leo Suenens. The conversation revolved around renewal in the Church, Martin explained. The Pope asked each of those present to share their testimony.

St. John Paul II embraces Legate Ralph Martin in May 1981

St. John Paul II embraces Legate Ralph Martin in May 1981

“Then, at the end, he gave his testimony, saying that when he was a little boy, his father asked him to pray to the Holy Spirit every single day and ask God for guidance,” Martin explained. “He said he had been praying to the Holy Spirit every day just like his father taught him.”

Another profound meeting came in 1994. Martin had an audience with the Pope and presented him with his new book, The Catholic Church at the End of an Age: What is the Spirit Saying?

“When I gave it to him, he said, ‘I read it already,’” Martin said. “I almost fell over at that point, and then he said, ‘Ralph what is the Spirit saying to the Church?’

“I knew he didn’t want the whole 300-page answer, so I said, ‘Holy Father, I think what the Spirit is mainly saying to the Church is Jesus.’ And then the Holy Father took my hand and he said, ‘Jesus.’ I said, ‘Jesus,’ and he said, ‘Jesus.’ We just stood there for a couple of minutes saying the name of Jesus together, and it was just a moment of profound communion in the Lord.”

Doctor to a saint

Dr. Vincent Fortanasce, a member of Legatus’ San Juan Capistrano Chapter, went to Rome in August 2000 to volunteer as a doctor with the Knights of Malta. During one of the general audiences, he noticed how bad John Paul’s health was. As a neurologist, he wondered if the Pope’s Parkinson’s disease was being treated correctly and voiced this concern to a friend, Monsignor Vittorio Formenti.

Dr. Vince Fortanasce poses with a portrait of St. John Paul II in his office in Arcadia, Calif.

Dr. Vince Fortanasce poses with a portrait of St. John Paul II in his office in Arcadia, Calif.

The next day, a group of Swiss Guards found  Fortanasce at a clinic near the Vatican and asked him to follow them. Within minutes, he was introduced to John Paul’s doctors.

“We spoke for half an hour and went over the Pope’s X-rays and medications,” Fortanasce said. “As I was walking out the door, I was motioned to go up a corridor. I walked into a room and found Pope John Paul II sitting by the window, reading a book.”

John Paul asked Fortanasce about his mission. The Legate told him that his life’s mission was to defend life — stopping things like human cloning and embryonic stem-cell research.

“The Pope told me that the real problem was that man believes he is God, and that man is afraid of death because he didn’t have God,” said Fortanasce. “And so people want to do everything possible to postpone death, even at the cost of taking another person’s life.”

John Paul told Fortanasce not to give up and not to expect people to listen.

Fortanasce ended up recommending another medication and an appropriate exercise regimen. The Vatican “paid” him by sending him holy water blessed by the Pope.

All of these Legates said they knew Pope John Paul II would be canonized one day.

“He was my No. 1 hero in the world,” said Monaghan. “He had a presence. He was a man’s man, an intellect and an actor.”

SABRINA ARENA FERRISI is Legatus magazine’s senior staff writer.

Understanding Pope Francis’ writing on economics

Legatus chaplain Fr. Chas Canoy writes on the Pope’s recent apostolic exhortation . . .

CanoyAt a recent Legatus chapter event, we had some lively dinner conversation at our table concerning the pope’s view on economics. The question came up of some ways to respond to friends and family who may ask or have asked you about it, given all the commentary out there like Rush Limbaugh’s. If you too are wondering, please continue to read on.  If not, then I wish you and your family a blessed Advent and a beautiful Christmas season!

First of all, I would first encourage you to take some time over the holy days to read Evangelii Gaudium (EG).  Until you get that chance, I think it’s important to keep in mind what the Pope is NOT saying. He did not say, for example, that capitalism is in and of itself an unacceptable economic system. We also know, from past Church teaching such as John Paul’s Centesimus Annus, that this is far from the truth.

What Pope Francis is pointing out are the abuses that exist or to which free market economies can be inclined if the agents of capitalism neglect or have little or insufficient regard for the common good and the dignity of the human person, particularly the poor. It’s important to note that he has also spoken against Marxist thought and liberation theology. Given his South American background, he has observed corruption of both types firsthand.

Pope FrancisThis leads to three essential points that outlines the necessary context to understand better Pope Francis’ comments:

1.  Protecting the dignity of the human person and fostering the common good are two fundamental principles of any just society (see Gaudium et Spes).  Consequently, every sector of society, including economics, should have as its object and aim the flourishing of its people, with these two elements particularly in mind.
2.  Thus, the pope said, “Money must serve, not rule” (EG 58). In other words, just as the Sabbath is made for man and not man for the Sabbath, so the free market is for the benefit and flourishing of man, not man for the free market. The one who sees it as the latter may be culpable of what Pope Francis calls the “idolatry of money” (EG 55).
3.  The pope is not an economist. The Church is authoritative in faith and morals, not economics. Whatever the pope’s private views are on the economy, he recognizes that economics and all secular fields have their own proper autonomy. At the same time, economics is not amoral. There are ethical dimensions to economics and every sector of secular society, and in these dimensions the pope acts as pastor and guide.

As you may already be thinking, none of these are inimical to capitalism, properly understood. In fact, I would propose, as I’m sure many of you would, that capitalism, properly ordered to the good, is indeed the most conducive at achieving human flourishing and fostering the common good. While the free market has some natural or innate correctives within its system, the Pope however wants us to understand that it’s not impermeable to the exploitation of the powerful and that in fact no economic system is adequate to ensure sufficiently the protection of the dignity of every human person. Systems ultimately don’t do that; people do.

FATHER CHAS CANOY is a priest of the Diocese of Lansing, Michigan. He is the chaplain of Legatus’ Ann Arbor Chapter.

Pope Francis’ Muslim outreach

Paul Kengor gives a nod to the Pope’s remarkable, successful outreach to Muslims . . .

Paul Kengor

Paul Kengor

If you listen to the media, you’ll catch takes on Pope Francis on everything from reforming the Curia to analyses of his comments and interviews. Look deeper and you’ll also find a surprising amount of material on his outreach to Muslims.

This openness is something that few expected, but given the pontiff’s past — as well as the papal name he chose — it shouldn’t be a shock. In retrospect, we had some hints to this outreach seven years ago, back in 2006. Recall Pope Benedict XVI’s “controversial” Regensburg address. Benedict quoted a learned 14th century Byzantine emperor: “Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.”

Benedict was speaking in a scholarly forum and didn’t openly endorse this particular observation. Nonetheless, there was significant worldwide backlash — and not just the Islamic world.

In Argentina, a cardinal named Jorge Mario Bergoglio was notably displeased. “Pope Benedict’s statements don’t reflect my own opinions,” said the then-archbishop of Buenos Aires. “These statements will serve to destroy in 20 seconds the careful construction of a relationship with Islam that Pope John Paul II built over the last 20 years.”

Upon assuming the reins of the papacy, Bergoglio has sought a decidedly different tone. Pope Francis has consistently and repeatedly reached out to Muslims. Here are just a few examples:

• In one of his first papal speeches, given on March 22, Francis announced he wanted to “intensify dialogue among the various religions. And I am thinking particularly of dialogue with Islam.” • Just days later, celebrating his first Holy Thursday Mass, Francis broke with tradition, washing the feet of a Serbian Muslim woman — an inmate from a prison in Rome. • In an Aug. 2 message, Francis took the rare step of extending a personal message to Muslims preparing to celebrate Ramadan. In the past, such ecumenical greetings came from the Vatican’s office of interfaith dialogue. This time, the Bishop of Rome took the personal initiative, extending his “esteem and friendship” to Muslims. • Francis again reached out at the end of Ramadan. In an Angelus message, he urged Christians and Muslims to strive together to “promote mutual respect.” • Two weeks later, the Holy Father made another eye-opening move when he bowed to a smiling Queen Rania of Jordan who was visiting the Vatican. Rania, wife of King Abdullah II, presides over the largest Palestinian population of any country. Why Francis chose to bow to her isn’t entirely clear, but it certainly was noticed.

Amid the many such gestures in such a short period, Francis has also been staunch in his calls for peace in the conflict in Syria, which is a matter of Muslims killing Muslims in a terrible civil war. He opposed President Barack Obama’s desire for a military strike against the Assad regime. Then he went further, calling for an international day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria on Sept. 7.

Ahmad Badreddin Hassoun, the Grand Mufti of Syria, who is the spiritual leader of Syrian Sunni Muslims, was so affected by Francis’ appeal that he publicly expressed his wish to join the pope in St. Peter’s for the vigil. The mufti asked his fellow Muslims to “welcome the appeal to pray for peace.” He invited them to pray on Sept. 7, simultaneously and in communion with Pope Francis, and to do so in mosques throughout Syria. In striking language, speaking of the Pope as a “father,” the mufti said that Syrian Muslims view the Holy Father as a “true spiritual leader … who speaks for the true good of the Syrian people.”

In all, this is quite remarkable. Should we be surprised at this outreach to Muslims by Pope Francis? I don’t think so.

When Cardinal Bergoglio looked to St. Francis for his papal name, it wasn’t to witness to birds and trees. Many forget that the 13th century saint stepped off the battlefield of the crusades to reach out to Muslims. In 1219 AD, a time of terrible religious strife, Francis headed by foot and horse to Egypt where he hoped to win over the world’s most powerful Muslim: Sultan Malik al-Kamil.

For the record, that voyage did not convert the sultan, but it impressed him greatly, giving him a much more positive view of Christians and their faith — and their representative. Pope Francis has thus far done the same. Here’s hoping he has even greater success over the months and years ahead.

PAUL KENGOR is professor of political science at Grove City College. His books include “The Judge: William P. Clark, Ronald Reagan’s Top Hand” and “The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism.”

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.

Freedom fighter

A 2013 Legatus Summit speaker, Baltimore’s Archbishop Lori engages the culture . . .

Imagine picking up your morning paper and reading these headlines: “Priest Fined for not Marrying Same-Sex Couple,” “Catholic Hospital Closed for Refusal to Perform Sterilizations,” and “Notre Dame University to Close, Refuses to Offer Employees Abortion Coverage.”

Though these headlines sound far-fetched, they’re not. Archbishop William Lori, Baltimore’s newly appointed archbishop, has been working day and night to make sure these headlines are never printed. He is the U.S. bishops’ point man on religious freedom — an issue that grows more pressing by the day, despite the fact that it’s all but ignored by the mainstream media.

Secular erosion

Archbishop Lori has been the chairman of the bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty since September 2011. He led last summer’s “Fortnight for Freedom” and speaks regularly to Catholics and the news media. He has testified before Congress several times.

“In the past, there was much more overtly anti-Catholic activity in this country,” he told Legatus magazine. “Today, things are more under the surface. The dangerous things happen behind the curtains. This is why it’s so important for us Catholics to reveal what’s going on and to hold officials accountable for making rules which are anti-Catholic and anti-religious.”

The issue of religious liberty affects an enormous array of human activity, which is why Archbishop Lori believes it’s so important to engage the culture.

“There are challenges to religious liberty in every state with same-sex ‘marriage,’” he said. “Catholic social services are being discriminated against because they don’t offer contraception. Student groups are being decertified because of their Christian principles. There is also the ever-present battle to take all religious symbols out of the public square. Individuals sometimes find their professional licenses revoked because of their Christianity.”

Archbishop Lori, who will be speaking on religious freedom at the Legatus Summit in February, said the threats to our first freedom take place on many levels, especially the judicial and legislative. But the biggest challenge is cultural.

“As secularism takes hold, more and more people marginalize the faith,” he said. “This is when religious liberty is imperiled.”


As the bishops’ leader on religious freedom, Archbishop Lori offers various solutions.

“First, like the pro-life movement, we need to pray,” he said. “This must be the engine that drives the protection of religious liberty. Right now we have a rosary novena going on, and there is a national prayer for religious liberty. I foresee that this fight is going to take a long, long time.”

He also believes that Catholics must continue to engage their elected officials. They must write to members of Congress and demand legislative relief.

“It’s good for bishops to testify before Congress, but it’s better for them to hear from the faithful,” he said.

Archbishop Lori believes that Catholics must also become better informed about the issues affecting the Church in the public square.

“It’s sadly apparent that many Catholics are not informed [of the government’s hostility to the Church] because schools and hospitals are still open. It’s not as if these buildings are being burned. But this is a fight which is below the surface through subtle instructions. When you analyze it, it’s a sea change. It’s a real alteration of the way in which the Church and state interact.”

In addition, Catholics must better understand Church teaching and then impart it to others. “The new evangelization takes stock of the new situation in which the Church finds herself, how people find happiness, how they communicate, what they regard as important, where there is brokenness. It’s helping to see how the Gospel responds to our questions, concerns and emptiness.”

Archbishop Lori recalls how Pope John Paul II said that we must show how Jesus is the answer to every person who comes into the world: Jesus is the answer to the needs of every heart.

There are a number of good books, he said, that explain limited government and religious freedom — such as Archbishop Chaput’s Render Unto Caesar. Catholics must equip themselves to speak knowledgeably on this issue.

Catholics can also join legislative networks — like their own state’s Catholic conference. And the U.S. bishops have a text message campaign for religious freedom. If you text the word “freedom” to 377377, you will receive regular texts directly from the USCCB.

Tackling the Issues

The Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate is enemy No. 1 for Catholics who value religious liberty. The mandate demands that all businesses offer employees health insurance that provides contraception, sterilizations and abortion-inducing drugs. Religious organizations are exempt if they serve only members of their faith and exist only to propagate their faith’s doctrine.

“The HHS mandate goes too far,” said Chris Gunty, associate publisher of the Catholic Review, Baltimore’s archdiocesan newspaper. “Because Catholic Charities hires people who are not Catholic and serves people who are not Catholic, they are not exempt.”

In fact, every Catholic hospital, university, and charity could be fined excessively under the mandate, forcing them to close.

More than 100 plaintiffs in more than 35 lawsuits are fighting the mandate in court, said Kim Daniels, co-director of Catholic Voices USA. “Archbishop Lori has been a tremendous leader in defending religious freedom. He’s been involved in this issue for a long time, and he’s really engaged.”

Maureen Ferguson, senior policy advisor for the Catholic Association, agrees. “He has been everywhere on this issue. The bishops have called for lay people to get involved in this fight, but the flock needs a shepherd. And he has been an incredible shepherd. His leadership has been stellar and invaluable.”

Archbishop Lori also led the fight to defeat Maryland’s same-sex “marriage” ballot measure. However, it failed on Nov. 6, losing by a narrow margin (52-48%). “We will continue to witness to the values of marriage … the union of one man and one woman, as the most sound, secure and loving way to bring children into the world,” he said in a statement.

Though Maryland law allows religious organizations to opt out of renting property or performing services for gays, Archbishop Lori knows there are deeper problems. Once a state allows gay “marriage,” religious liberty begins to erode.

Gunty, a member of Legatus’ Baltimore Chapter, concurs. “There was a bed and breakfast in Vermont that refused to rent their location for a same-sex ‘marriage’ ceremony. They were sued. The ramification is that they can’t rent out their facility for anything anymore.

When same-sex ‘marriage’ becomes the law of the land, then to hold another opinion becomes politically incorrect, and people will take action against you.”

Archbishop Lori says the fight for religious liberty will be an ongoing battle — and it will require lay leadership, and Catholic business leaders will be invaluable.

“People are looking for leadership,” he said. “If a person is a leader in business, for example, and a totally committed Catholic, they can give a reason for their hope. The way we overcome indifference is by a burning love for Christ and by asserting that faith confidently.”

Sabrina Arena Ferrisi is Legatus magazine’s senior sta“ff writer.


Your invitation to the 2013 Summit

Jeb Bush

The clock is ticking down to Legatus’ 2013 Summit — and excitement is building toward the Feb. 7-9 event at the Phoenician Resort in Scottsdale, Ariz. Because a capacity crowd of more than 500 participants is anticipated, organizers suggest booking a room as early as possible.

“The schedule is full of speakers that will entertain, educate and enrich our spiritual lives,” said Laura Sacha, Legatus’ conference director. “Even though we will be in Arizona with the desert as our backdrop, we will be immersed in the Louisiana culture as our host, the Baton Rouge Chapter, brings their flavor to the Summit.”

Jose H. Gomez

The Summit’s theme, “The Door of Faith: A Summons to a Deeper Conversion,” takes its inspiration from Pope Benedict XVI’s apostolic letter Porta Fidei (The Door of Faith). The roster of speakers and special guests is impressive. Confirmed faculty include:

• Gov. Jeb Bush, former Florida governor and convert to the Catholic faith

Matthew Kelly

• Baltimore Archbishop William Lori

• Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gómez, Legatus’ ecclesiastical advisor

• Legatus’ international chaplain Bishop Sam Jacobs, Houma-Thibodaux (La.) diocese

• Phoenix Bishop Thomas Olmsted

• George Weigel, papal biographer and author of Witness to Hope and The End and the Beginning

Ken Cuccinelli

• Catholic author and motivational speaker Matthew Kelly

• Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb), author of the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act

• Ken Cuccinelli, Virginia’s attorney general

• Tommy Lasorda, former L.A. Dodgers manager

• Mother Miriam of the Lamb of God, formerly Rosalind Moss, a convert form Judaism and foundress of the Daughters of Mary, mother of Israel’s Hope

• Mike Piazza, former Major League Baseball catcher with the New York Mets, L.A. Dodgers, Florida Marlins, San Diego Padres and Oakland A’s

• Fr. Frank “Rocky” Hoffman, executive director of Relevant Radio

• EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo, master of ceremonies


Legatus 1987-2012

This coffee table book charts Legatus’ first 25 years of drawing CEOs to Christ . . .

Legatus 1987-2012
Donning, 2012
200 pages, $150 hardcover

Founded a quarter century ago, Legatus is a gift to the Church. So say Cardinal Raymond Burke and Cardinal Timothy Dolan. Both prelates endorsed this book, which relates how the Holy Spirit inspired Tom Monaghan to develop Legatus after meeting with Blessed John Paul II in 1987. Learn how the idea for a “Catholic YPO” developed into one of the most influential Catholic lay organizations in the world.

Each of Legatus’ 75 chapters is profiled. Hundreds of new and historic photos are included along with endorsements and congratulations from Pope Benedict XVI, President George W. Bush, bishops, and dignitaries.

Order: Click here or call (239) 867-4904.

Tom Monaghan and the Catechism

Kathy Schiffer writes that Tom Monaghan helped make the Catholic Catechism a reality . . .

Kathy Schiffer

Before we begin,” said Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, “I want to thank Tom Monaghan for funding the Catechism.”

It was September 2003, and the group gathered at the archbishop’s palace in Vienna gasped. Despite occasional snippets in the press, Tom has always been modest about his personal philanthropy, and even his office staff had never heard this story.

On this 20th anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, I join Cardinal Schönborn in extending my thanks to Tom for this singularly important gift to the Church — and I offer you an inside look at the

I was working as conference director for Legatus and leading the group’s annual pilgrimage to Rome. Each year there is a side trip to another European destination. This time we had planned a pilgrimage to Vienna. Our itinerary included tours of palaces and galleries, and a Danube River cruise ending in a heurigen — a traditional Viennese celebration of the harvest, replete with the new unfermented wine.

On this late September afternoon, though, we were at the archbishop’s palace on the north side of St. Stephen’s Square. There we attended Mass in the archbishop’s private chapel, followed by an address from Cardinal Schönborn, archbishop of Vienna, ending with a reception and dinner. It was an evening to cherish.

We sat on narrow chairs in a small room near the chapel, waiting for the cardinal to complete his tasks in the sacristy and address our group. Finally he arrived. A popular figure, he received a standing ovation from our group of American business leaders.

Tom Monaghan speaks with Cardinal
Christoph Schönborn in September 2003

And as we took our seats, he began as I wrote above: “Before we begin, I want to thank Tom Monaghan for funding the Catechism.” He explained that in the mid-1980s, Pope John Paul II had indicated an interest in developing a catechism for the worldwide Church. A commission of 12 bishops and cardinals had been put in charge of the project. But for several years, it had not moved forward.At the end of each fiscal year, various Vatican departments looked at their budgets but could not find room for such a large project.

That was, he explained, when Tom stepped in and offered the necessary sponsorship for the research, travel, staff and equipment necessary to complete the project. Without Tom, Cardinal Schönborn explained, the Catechism might never have been published.

John Paul II approved the text on June 25, 1992, and promulgated it Oct. 11, the 30th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, with his apostolic constitution Fidei Depositum. It was published in French in 1992 and was then translated into many other languages. In the U.S., the English translation was published in 1994.

In Fidei Depositum, the Holy Father declared that the Catechism is “a valid and legitimate instrument for ecclesial communion and a sure norm for teaching the faith,” and stressed that it “is not intended to replace the local catechisms duly approved by the ecclesiastical authorities, the diocesan bishops and the episcopal conferences.”

Thomas S. Monaghan — who grew up in an orphanage, founded Domino’s Pizza, bought and sold the Detroit Tigers baseball franchise, then took what he called a “rich man’s vow of poverty” — has done much to advance the Catholic faith in the modern world. He founded Legatus, provided the seed funding for the Ave Maria Radio network, and he established a Catholic university and law school, which are now graduating men and women well qualified to effect change in the culture.

He supported Catholic elementary, high school and preschools in the Ann Arbor area; he helped to institute the Thomas More Law Center; and he provided constant support for many pro-life initiatives, nationally and locally.

But this one project — the Catechism of the Catholic Church — has implications which reach beyond our era, offering guidance and unpacking difficult theological issues for the common reader far into the future. For his part in bringing this to fruition, and for all he’s done, we are grateful to Tom Monaghan. May God continue to bless him!

Kathy Schiffer served as Legatus’ conference director from 2001-2005. She is Ave Maria Radio’s director of publicity and special events. She blogs at Patheos.com.

Pope John XXIII (1881-1963)

Pope John XXIII was known for his charm, wit and for inaugurating Vatican II  . . .

Pope John XXIII

Feast Day: October 11
Beatified: September 3, 2000

Born Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli near Bergamo, Italy, the future pope was ordained a priest in 1904 and became a scholar in Church history. In 1925, Pope Pius XI named him nuncio to Bulgaria, and he proved a brilliant diplomat. He went on to serve as nuncio to Turkey, Greece and France. In 1953, Pope Pius XII made him cardinal and patriarch of Venice. He was popular, known for his wit, cordiality and approachable style. While not considered a strong papal candidate, he was elected pope at 77.

His brief pontificate (1958-63) included numerous reform efforts and several notable encyclicals including Pacem in Terris (1963), which preached “universal peace in truth, justice, charity, and liberty.” But the chief event of his reign was convoking the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) to implement his vision of aggiornamento (renewal) — a new and vibrant presentation of the unchanging truths of the faith to the modern world.

He fell ill and died on June 3, 1963. When John XXIII was beatified in 2000, Pope John Paul II said of him, “The breath of newness he brought certainly did not concern doctrine, but rather the way to explain it. Christians heard themselves called to proclaim the Gospel with greater attentiveness to the signs of the times.”

This column is written for Legatus magazine by Dr. Matthew Bunson, senior fellow of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology, and author of “John Paul II’s Book of Saints.”