30 June 2012

Fortnight for Freedom - Day 10

Day 10 - June 30, 2012

Finally, government is to see to it that the equality of citizens before the law, which is itself an element of the common welfare, is never violated for religious reasons whether openly or covertly. Nor is there to be discrimination among citizens. It follows that a wrong is done when government
imposes upon its people, by force or fear or other means, the profession or repudiation of any religion, or when it hinders men from joining or leaving a religious body. All the more is it a violation of the will of God and of the sacred rights of the person and the family of nations, when force is brought to bear in any way in order to destroy or repress religion, either in the whole of mankind or in a particular country or in a specific community.

Declaration on Religious Liberty
(Dignitatis Humanae), no. 6
December 7, 1965

Because all human beings possess equal dignity, value, and worth, the government is to ensure that this equality is maintained both for the good of the individual and for the good of society as a whole. This equality specifically should not be violated on religious grounds. Each religious body and the members of that body have equal rights to religious liberty. This equality demands that there be no discrimination based upon one’s religious beliefs.

The Council Fathers now stress that, based upon this equality among its citizens, no government is
permitted to impose in any way “the profession or repudiation of any religion.” Such an imposition is a violation of the right to be true to one’s conscience. Because of the freedom of conscience, the government is also not permitted to deny a person the right to join or leave a religious body. The government has no right to stipulate what a person can or cannot believe.

If the above is true, then the Council states that it is all the more wrong when “force is brought to
bear in any way in order to destroy or repress religion.” This not only applies to governments but also
to religious bodies themselves. No religious body is permitted to harass or seek to eliminate another religious group.

Within our contemporary world, where is religious equality denied or religious discrimination tolerated? Are there instances where one religion violates the rights of other religions?

29 June 2012

Prayer for the Protection of Conscience Rights

Father, we praise you and thank you for your most precious gifts of human life and human freedom.

Touch the hearts of our lawmakers with the wisdom and courage to uphold conscience rights and religious liberty for all. Protect all people from being forced to violate their moral and religious convictions.

In your goodness, guard our freedom to live out our faith and to follow you in all that we do. Give us strength to be bold and joyful witnesses.

We ask this through Christ, our Lord.

Source: USCCB

Fortnight for Freedom - Day 9

Day 9 - June 29, 2012

The protection and promotion of the inviolable rights of man ranks among the essential duties
of government. Therefore, government is to assume the safeguard of the religious freedom of all its citizens, in an effective manner, by just laws and by other appropriate means. Government is also to help create conditions favorable to the fostering of religious life, in order that the people may be truly enabled to exercise their religious rights and to fulfill their religious duties, and also in order that society itself may profit by the moral qualities of justice and peace which have their origin in men’s faithfulness to God and to His holy will.

Declaration on Religious Liberty
(Dignitatis Humanae), no. 6
December 7, 1965

Once again, the Council Fathers turn to what they consider a very important issue. It is not simply that governments should not deny or impede the religious freedom of their citizens, it is also of the utmost importance that they positively, through just laws, be the guardians of religious freedom, so that no constituency—religious or secular—within society would seek to undermine the religious freedom of all. While few today would consider this, the next point that the Council Fathers make is also very significant. Governments should actually “help create conditions favorable to the fostering of religious life.” While governments do not control religions, they should recognize their value and so promote their well-being. This allows all religious bodies and their members to exercise their religious rights and “fulfill their religious duties.” The government’s fostering the religious life of its citizens not only benefits those citizens but also, the Council states, contributes to the good of society
as a whole. It helps society grow in its understanding and implementation of what contributes to justice and peace. This justice and peace find their origin in God, who desires the good of all.

How do governments protect and promote the religious life of their citizens? Do governments take
this into consideration today? In the U.S., how does the government foster religious life while respecting the principle of separation of church and state?

28 June 2012

Fortnight for Freedom - Day 8

Day 8 - June 28, 2012

Since the family is a society in its own original right, it has the right freely to live its own domestic
religious life under the guidance of parents. Parents, moreover, have the right to determine, in accordance with their own religious beliefs, the kind of religious education that their children are to receive.

Government, in consequence, must acknowledge the right of parents to make a genuinely free choice of schools and of other means of education. The use of this freedom of choice is not to be made a reason for imposing unjust burdens on parents, whether directly or indirectly. Besides, the rights of parents are violated if their children are forced to attend lessons or instructions which are not in agreement with their religious beliefs. The same is true if a single system of education, from which all religious formation is excluded, is imposed upon all.

Declaration on Religious Liberty
(Dignitatis Humanae), no. 5
December 7, 1965

The Council Fathers now address the religious freedom that is enjoyed by the family. Families have the right to live out their faith within the family. Moreover, parents have a natural right to religiously guide their families. They are the ones who have primary responsibility for the care and education of their children, and this is especially true of the religious education of their children. Thus, while parents are primarily responsible for the religious education, they are also free to choose the kind of religious education their children receive.

From within the Catholic tradition, Vatican II stated that the family is a “domestic church,” that is,
it is within the family that children are first taught the Gospel, are taught to pray and to keep the Commandments. Together the members of a family live out the Gospel life of love. In keeping with this, the Council states that parents must be free to choose their children’s schooling. The exercise of this freedom should not be the cause of undue financial burdens upon the family. Likewise, children should not be forced to attend instruction that is contrary to the religious belief of their families. Lastly, if there is only one form of education within a country, this does not mean that all religious instruction should be forbidden. Accommodation is to be made. What we see here is the Church ardently wanting to assure a broad and extensive scope for families to live out their faith as families,
and this extends to the education of children.

Why is the above important for parents and their families? Are the above aspects of domestic religious freedom jeopardized today?

27 June 2012

Half Way through the Fortnight: What is Religious Freedom?

27 JUNE 2012. Today, the feast day of Saint Cyril of Alexandria, the Church in the United States reaches the halfway point of the U.S. Bishops' Fortnight for Freedom campaign. At this point in the journey, it seems an important question to examine what religious freedom is. I believe that it is in the definition of religious freedom, and religion itself, that our religious freedom is being most threatened.

Religious freedom is the ability to exercise one's faith in public and in private without government sponsored or government's direct coercion. It is the ability to live one's life in accord with one's faith and in accord with one's conscience that has been formed by that faith. Indeed, the Church has said that if one has no faith at all, government must not use its coercive power to require one to profess a faith. But, how can this work in a pluralistic society such as the United States, which is comprised of so many faiths and such a diversity of cultures and backgrounds?

The answer lies, in part, in the law's approach to freedom of speech. The courts, in interpreting the First Amendment in its guaranty of free speech, have generally worked from the premise that the marketplace of ideas must be allowed to operate, and that marketplace will ultimately and should utltimately determine the value of speech and its propogation or not--not government limitation on speech. There are, of course, exeptions to the rule, such as speech that poses a direct danger and can do harm to others (yelling "Fire." in a darkened theater) or speech that is clearly contrary to community norms of decency (such as obsenity). But generally the marketplace of ideas should be allowed to operate, so goes the jurisprudential theory, so that each idea, even if in the tiniest minority of the marketplace, can live or die on the merit the marketplace gives it. This protects minority interests. It ensures those of the minority view have the opportunity to inject their thoughts into the marketplace.

On the contrary, the courts and legislatures have for decades been working to free another minority--who wants no influence from religion whatsoever--from faith's shadow. The U.S. Supreme Court's interpretation of the Establishment Clause has been particularly damaging in this area. The marketplace of faith is not permitted to function. Instead, the minority has pushed, and the courts and legislatures have been complicit in the effort, to remove altogether the interaction of religion with the marketplace of ideas. That minority uses the law as a sword to prevent the most basic of religious expression from entering the marketplace. In many contexts, prayer is illegal. Under this approach, the minority becomes the tyrant. And, it is that tyranical march that has been pushed, ever with more ferver in the last 30 or more years, to exclude the minority's expression of faith from many aspects of contemporary life in the United States. And, they march on.

Coupled with this tyranny of the minority--with one leading the other or, at least, the two acting in concert--the popular culture has developed the idea that religious belief is a merely personal, private endeavor that has no place in one's workplace, school, or the public square. This idea, supporting the evolution of the law, is closing the noose around religious freedom and around the ability of individuals to freely live in accord with their conscience formed by their faith. Where religion is defined as being purely private, then is can be given no regard in one's public life.

This is, at its core, the approach that the HHS Mandate takes and why a true exemption to provide meaningful conscience protection is being fought so by the Obama administration. The administration seeks to further push religion into the private and individual sphere, which necessitates that it be given no space in public policy, in the workplace, in schools, in the law. Then, of course, religious truth can be ignored as a private endeavor and all that is necessary to control public life is the ability to garner and wield political power. It is brute political force that controls, and President Obama resides in the White House.

This is exactly the message that Mr. Obama brought to the University of Notre Dame, as he was honored by a Catholic University that ought to have known better. He said: our disagreement should be respectful, but I am in charge and it is my view that will control.

This is the true threat to religious freedom, and the reason that the Fortnight for Freedom campaign is so important, if only to push faith into the marketplace and public discourse.

Truth is not a private matter. All faiths that seek the truth must be permitted their place in the marketplace, indeed to the extent they are minorities in that marketplace, their point of market entry must be protected by law. If political speech of any stripe is given the highest protection by law in our country--where politics is nothing more than a common scramble to satisfy unlimited desires with limited means, and, so, the garnering of political power at the expense of others is the ultimate aim--certainly, the faithful search for truth through religious conviction and exercise, and the freedom of everyone to live in accord with that faithful search, must be given all the greater protection.

NOVUS (29.VI.2012 9:01 a.m.):

Given our country's preoccupation with the law and the courts in these recent days following the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling upholding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, it would be important to consider the U.S. Bishop's statement on the ruling. The Bishops urge Congress to fix the three significant flaws in the health care overhaul law, namely: no funding of abortion with tax dollars, directly or indirectly; the necessity of a proper and meaningful conscience protection provision that preserves religious freedom; and the fair treatment of immigrant workers so that they are not prohibited from purchasing health care coverage, which "undermines the [a]ct's stated goal of promoting access to basic life-affirming health care for everyone, especially those most in need."


Fortnight for Freedom - Day 7

DAY 7 - June 27, 2012

Religious bodies also have the right not to be hindered in their public teaching and witness to their faith, whether by the spoken or by the written word. However, in spreading religious faith and in
introducing religious practices, everyone ought at all times to refrain from any manner of action which might seem to carry a hint of coercion or of a kind of persuasion that would be dishonorable or unworthy, especially when dealing with poor or uneducated people. Such a manner of action would have to be considered an abuse of one’s own right and a violation of the rights of others.

In addition, it comes within the meaning of religious freedom that religious bodies should not be
prohibited from freely undertaking to show the special value of their doctrine in what concerns the organization of society and the inspiration of the whole of human activity. Finally, the social nature of man and the very nature of religion afford the foundation of the right of men freely to hold meetings and to establish educational, cultural, charitable, and social organizations, under the impulse of their own religious sense.

Declaration on Religious Liberty
(Dignitatis Humanae), no. 4
December 7, 1965
While the Council Fathers insist that religious bodies must be free to teach and bear witness to their faith, they equally stress that this freedom must never be abused. It is not only governments that can deny their freedom; in attempting to spread their own beliefs, religions should not force others, physically or psychologically, to convert. Rather, each person’s dignity and freedom must be maintained. The accepting of religious beliefs must be an act of freedom, otherwise it is done not because it is believed to be true but rather out of fear and force. The right to profess and
proclaim one’s own faith cannot violate the same right of another.

That being said, religious bodies should be free to provide reasons as to why their beliefs are true and
why it would be of value for others to believe whatthey believe. They should also be free to address how their beliefs contribute to the good of society.

What contemporary examples are there of religious bodies using coercion in an attempt to spread their faith or hindering others from exercising their faith? What contributions does the Catholic Church make to society and culture?

26 June 2012

Fortnight for Freedom - Day 6

DAY 6 - June 26, 2012

The freedom or immunity from coercion in matters religious which is the endowment of persons as individuals is also to be recognized as their right when they act in community. Religious bodies are a requirement of the social nature both of man and of religion itself.

Provided the just requirements of public order are observed, religious bodies rightfully claim freedom in order that they may govern themselves according to their own norms, honor the Supreme Being in public worship, assist their members in the practice of the religious life, strengthen them by instruction, and promote institutions in which they may join together for the purpose of ordering their lives in accordance with their religious principles.

Religious bodies also have the right not to be hindered, either by legal measures or by administrative
action on the part of government, in the selection, training, appointment, and transferral of their own ministers, in communicating with religious authorities and communities abroad, in erecting buildings for religious purposes, and in the acquisition and use of suitable funds or properties.

Declaration on Religious Liberty
(Dignitatis Humanae), no. 4
December 7, 1965

The Council once more addresses the public nature of religious belief. Religious communities have a right to act as a community of faith, for this is inherent within the social nature of human beings and religious belief itself. Provided that the just civil and religious rights of others are not transgressed, religious bodies must possess the freedom to live out publicly what they believe. They must be free to gather for worship, to instruct their members, and to develop institutions that further the religious life of their members. From within the Catholic tradition this would include religious institutes and orders, schools, fraternities and sodalities, prayer groups, and Bible study groups.

Likewise, religious bodies must be free to appoint and train their own ministers. For Catholics, that means the Church’s freedom at least to appoint bishops and ordain priests. It also means that Catholics are free to be loyal to their church and its leaders while also being loyal to their country and its leaders. Religious bodies should also be free to govern themselves financially.

Consider examples in contemporary life where governments—federal, state, or local—fail to respect the above rights? What is the relationship between the religious freedom of individuals and institutions?

Prayer for the Protection of Religious Liberty

O God our Creator,

Through the power and working of your Holy Spirit,
you call us to live out our faith in the midst of the world,
bringing the light and the saving truth of the Gospel
to every corner of society.

We ask you to bless us
in our vigilance for the gift of religious liberty.
Give us the strength of mind and heart
to readily defend our freedoms when they are threatened;
give us courage in making our voices heard
on behalf of the rights of your Church
and the freedom of conscience of all people of faith.

Grant, we pray, O heavenly Father,
a clear and united voice to all your sons and daughters
gathered in your Church
in this decisive hour in the history of our nation,
so that, with every trial withstood
and every danger overcome—
for the sake of our children, our grandchildren,
and all who come after us—
this great land will always be "one nation, under God,
indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Source: USCCB

25 June 2012

Fortnight for Freedom - Day 5

DAY 5 - June 25, 2012

There is a further consideration. The religious acts whereby men, in private and in public and out of a sense of personal conviction, direct their lives to God transcend by their very nature the order of terrestrial and temporal affairs. Government, therefore, ought indeed to take account of the religious life of the people and show it favor, since the function of government is to make provision for the common welfare. However, it would clearly transgress the limits set to its power were it to presume to direct or inhibit acts that are religious.

Declaration on Religious Liberty
(Dignitatis Humanae), no. 3
December 7, 1965

What the Council Fathers teach in this short paragraph is very important. They previously stated that governments should not deny religious liberty. Here they state what governments should positively do with regards to religion. Since people, through their religious beliefs, direct their lives toward God, governments are positively to take this into account. Not only should governments not hinder religious life, they should also “show it favor.” Since religious belief is a good within culture and society, governments should foster and aid the good that religion brings to the commonwealth. This does not mean that a government should favor one religion over another or that it should attempt to direct what religions should believe or do. Rather, governments are to create an environment in which religious life flourishes for the good of all. In providing such an environment where religious life prospers, governments contribute to the good of individuals as well as to the good of society as
a whole.

How does religion contribute to the good of society? In what ways might it hinder the good of society? Do contemporary Western governments view religion in a positive or negative light? How can governments today foster or aid the good of religious belief?

24 June 2012

Fortnight for Freedom Daily Reflections

24 JUNE 2012. Today is the fourth day of the U.S. Bishops' nationwide campaign to teach and provide witness to the importance of the religious freedom in the United States. Each day of the Fortnight (two weeks), the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has prepared a brief reflection to highlight the teaching of the Church on religious freedom and provide an opportunity for specific prayer and reflection. The Reflections for days 1-4 are below. Beginning tomorrow, AS will republish the daily reflections until the conclusion of the Fortnight on July 4.


The Vatican Synod declares that the human person has a right to religious freedom. This freedom means that all men are to be immune from coercion on the part of individuals or of social groups and of any human power, in such wise that in matters religious no one is to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his own beliefs. Nor is anyone to be restrained from acting in accordance with his own beliefs, whether privately or publically, whether alone or in association with others, within due limits.

The Synod further declares that the right to religious freedom has its foundation in the very dignity of the human person, as this dignity is known through the revealed Word of God and by reason itself. This right of the human person to religious freedom is to be recognized in the constitutional law whereby society is governed. Thus it is to become a civil right.

Declaration on Religious Liberty
(Dignitatis Humanae), no. 2
December 7, 1965

In the opening chapter of Declaration on Religious Liberty, the Council Fathers at Vatican II forthrightly declared that “the human person has a right to religious freedom.” This right is founded upon the intrinsic dignity of the human person. From God’s revelation we know that the dignity of human beings resides in their being created in the image and likeness of God (Gn 1:27). Like God we are intelligent beings with free will. Because of this we can know the truth and perform God-like actions, such as being loving, kind, forgiving, etc. Reason itself, in knowing what a human being is, confirms that we possess a dignity and worth that exceeds the rest of creation and that cannot be violated, but rather needs to be protected and fostered.

What human beings believe concerning God is of supreme importance. Religious belief lies at the very center of who we are in relation to what is most central and cherished in our lives. Therefore, the Council insists that the religious convictions of individuals or groups should never be coerced but must be held freely, protected by a civil constitutional right.

What challenges to religious liberty do you see within our contemporary world? When the Council says that religious liberty must be upheld “within due limits,” what would fall outside of “due limits”? What religious belief would seriously offend the moral order or a just law?


It is in accordance with their dignity as persons—that is, being endowed with reason and free will and therefore privileged to bear personal responsibility—that all men should be at once impelled by nature and also bound by a moral obligation to seek the truth, especially religious truth. They are also bound to adhere to the truth, once it is known, and to order their whole lives in accord with the demands of truth.

However, men cannot discharge these obligations in a manner in keeping with their own nature unless they enjoy immunity from external coercion as well as psychological freedom. Therefore, the right to religious freedom has its foundation, not in the subjective disposition of the person, but in his very nature. In consequence, the right to this immunity continues to exist even in those who do not live up to their obligation of seeking the truth and adhering to it. Nor is the exercise of this right to be impeded, provided that the just requirements of public order are observed.

Declaration on Religious Liberty
(Dignitatis Humanae), no. 2
December 7, 1965

The Council Fathers note that it is precisely because human beings are “endowed with reason and free will” that they naturally seek what is true and good and also, then, have “a moral obligation” to search for the truth. This is especially the case of seeking religious truth. Moreover, the truth they believe they have come to know binds them to that truth. Even if the “truth” they believe is not actually true, yet, because they believe it is true, they are bound to follow their conscience. As long as what they believe does not infringe the just rights of others, they cannot be coerced into giving up or changing what they believe.

Moreover, the Council states that in order for human beings to fulfill their obligation to seek the truth and live by it, they must be free to do so. No one or no authority is to force them to believe something to which they themselves have not freely given their consent.

Why does the Council stress the need to seek freely religious truth? Why do those who believe what is actually false still possess religious freedom?


Further light is shed on the subject if one considers that the highest norm of human life is the divine law—eternal, objective, and universal—whereby God orders, directs, and governs the entire universe and all the ways of human community, by a plan conceived in wisdom and love. Man has been made by God to participate in this law, with the result that, under the gentle disposition of divine Providence, he can come to perceive ever increasingly the unchanging truth. Hence every man has the duty, and therefore the right, to seek the truth in matters religious, in order that he may with prudence form for himself right and true judgments of conscience, with the use of all suitable means.

Truth, however, is to be sought after in a manner proper to the dignity of the human person and his social nature. The inquiry is to be free, carried on with the aid of teaching or instruction, communication, and dialogue. In the course of these, men explain to one another the truth they have discovered, or think they have discovered, in order thus to assist one another in the quest for truth. Moreover, as the truth is discovered, it is by a personal assent that men are to adhere to it.

Declaration on Religious Liberty
(Dignitatis Humanae), no. 3
December 7, 1965

God is the author of all truth and all good. All of what is true and good in our world and cosmos finds its source in God, the Creator of all. Moreover, what is true and good about ourselves as human beings finds its source in God in that he created us in his image and likeness. Thus, for the Council Fathers, all that exists is in conformity with the divine law, the providential plan of God.

Because of this, the Council emphasizes that truth must be “sought after in a manner proper to the dignity of the human person and his social nature.” This means that human beings must be free to seek the truth. However, human beings do not seek the truth as isolated individuals. The search for the truth is common to all, and so all share in the finding of truth and all share in the receiving of truth from others. Because the search for truth, the finding of truth, and the sharing of truth is a social exercise, human beings must not only be free to search for truth in the hope of finding it, they must also be free to communicate and discuss together the truth they believe they have found. It is through our free assent that we each personally lay hold of the truth.

What are the contemporary means of seeking, finding, and sharing truth? In what ways can this freedom to seek, to find, and to share be inhibited?


On his part, man perceives and acknowledges the imperatives of the divine law through the mediation of conscience. In all his activity a man is bound to follow his conscience faithfully, in order that he may come to God, for whom he was created. It follows that he is not to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his conscience. Nor, on the other hand, is he to be restrained from acting in accordance with his conscience, especially in matters religious.

For, of its very nature, the exercise of religion consists before all else in those internal, voluntary, and free acts whereby man sets the course of life directly toward God. No merely human power can either command or prohibit acts of this kind.

However, the social nature of man itself requires that he should give external expression to his internal acts of religion; that he should participate with others in matters religious; that he should profess his religion in community. Injury, therefore, is done to the human person and to the very order established by God for human life, if the free exercise of religion is denied in society when the just requirements of public order do not so require.

Declaration on Religious Liberty
(Dignitatis Humanae), no. 3
December 7, 1965

It is through their consciences that human beings perceive the requirements of the divine law. Human beings must follow faithfully their conscience if they are to grow in their knowledge of and union with God. Again, the Council restates that, because of this, no one should either be forced to act contrary to his or her conscience or be forbidden to act in accordance with his or her conscience. This is especially the case when it involves one’s religious beliefs. The Council Fathers note that this applies not only to one’s internal private religious acts but also to public communal religious acts. Human beings hold religious beliefs within a community of like-minded believers and so have the right to publicly live out their beliefs. To forbid the just and proper public expressions of religious belief would be contrary to the order that God has established for human beings as social and religious beings.

The Council Fathers want to ensure that religious liberty is understood to be both private and public. It cannot be limited to what takes places in houses of worship. Rather, since religion is by its nature a social phenomenon, its presence within the broader society and culture should not be hindered or forbidden.

In what ways is religion being reduced to the merely personal and private? Why should religion have a voice in the public square?

19 June 2012

Litrugical Reform of Vatican Council II

19 JUNE 2012. With a nod of appreciation to the good folks over at New Liturgical Movement, below is a video from Catholic News Service, featuring comments from Father Jeremy Driscoll, OSB on the liturgical reforms of Vatican Council II. Father Driscoll's points are well said, and I would only take issue with one use of language.

At the end of the video, Father describes the Mass as a "product." In our consumer driven world, the term "product" may give the impression that the Mass is something there for the assembly's consumption. Indeed, the Mass is a sacrament--an external reality of an internal grace--but, the purpose of the Mass is to worship our loving God and creator and savior of mankind; not to have a deep connection with person your holding hands with. If I could suggest any change to Father Driscoll, it would be to replace "product" with "expression of the sacrament." Otherwise, kudos to Father Driscoll. This is well said.

Note especially Father Driscoll's explanation that the history of the Mass is not expressive, but impressive. It forms us, and is always bigger than any community that celebrates the Mass.

07 June 2012

Laying on of Hands

Archbishop Wenski lays hands on Bishop Gregory Parkes during his ordination of 5 June 2012. Bishop Noonan, Bishop of Orlando, is seen in the background.

IMAGE: Catholic News Agency.

05 June 2012

Habemus Episcopum!

5 JUNE 2012. Today, the Memorial of Saint Boniface, in the presence of Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganό, Apostolic nuncio to the United States, Gregory Lawrence Parkes was ordained to the Order of Bishop and installed as the Fifth Bishop of the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee. Praise be to God for His goodness and to the Holy Father for the favor of his consideration of our mission church. Archbishop Wenski, Archbishop of Miami, was the principal consecrator with co-consecrators Bishop Felipe Estévez, Bishop of St. Augustine, and Bishop John Noonan, Bishop of Orlando.

Bishop Parkes has taken as his episcopal motto: "Nomini Tuo Da Glorium." ("To Your Name, Give the Glory"). And, certainly we shall under Bishop Parkes' pastoral guidance and care.

Truly our diocese is blessed to again have a shepherd of this pilgrim flock, and we pray that Bishop Parkes will be, as Bishop Ricard was before him, a good and caring and faithful pastor of our North Florida Catholic community.

A complete copy of the celebration guide (the libretto) can be found here. Bishop Parkes' Libretto.

A complete replay of the Ordination and Installation Liturgy can be heard tonight on Divine Word Radio at 9:00 p.m. Divine Word Radio can be heard online here.


More than 2,000 of the faithful, including 22 bishops, 120 priests, and 54 deacons were on hand today to worship our Lord in the Holy Eucharist and celebrate the ordination and installation of Bishop Gregory Parkes. An FSU alum and self-proclaimed "die hard Nole," Parkes' ordination today required tents and a closed circuit television broadcast to accommodate the faithful at St. Paul Catholic Church in Pensacola. Certainly one of those on hand was Father Stephen Parkes, the older brother of the bishop and a priest in the Diocese of Orlando.


In a liturgy that touched several times on the legacy of Saint Boniface, whose memorial the universal Church celebrated today, two themes were woven into the words addressed by the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Viganό, and Archbishop Wenski. The first was a lighthearted needling of Bishop Parkes for his imposing 6' 8" frame. As Archbishop Wenski put it, "As Bishop Parkes assumes his role I can assure you, with God's grace and your support and prayers, he will not be in over his head."

The second theme, though more serious, addressed the sanctity and nature of the call to the fullness of the priesthood as a bishop. Again, Archbishop Wenski stated: "A call to the order of the episcopate is a complete abandonment to the mystery of the Cross; the mystery of Love." The second reading of mass, from the Second Epistle of Saint Paul to Timothy, provided the sounding for Archbishop Wenski's words to echo: "I am not ashamed, for I know Him in whom I have
believed . . . ." (2 Timothy 1:12)


From Bishop Parkes' statement at the end of his ordination and installation liturgy.
And so, the work continues now. This year provides us with a wonderful opportunity to continue to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ.

. . . .

It is my hope and my prayer that this will indeed be a year of faith here in the Diocese of Pensacola and throughout the Universal Church. And, in this local diocese, which has such missionary roots and still continues to be a missionary diocese today, that each of us will accept the challenge of spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ--the eternal truths of our faith--in new ways: the new evangelization. As our Holy Father says, and I think most effectively: by witnessing to our faith and teaching our faith through the witness of our lives.

It is my hope and my prayer, as your shepherd here, that I will help to lead you and to guide you in that effort.

. . . .

Again, it is my hope and my prayer that all that we do here in the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee, that all that we do as a church, may always be for the glory of His name. 
May God bless you.

Solemn Vespers for Bishop Parkes

4 JUNE 2012. Tonight, in the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart (fitting especially in this month dedicated to the faithful's devotion to the Sacred Heart), our local diocesan community began the liturgical celebrations that will mend together this pilgrim see and her new shepherd. With Archbishop Wenski as the principal presider, tonight's Solemn Vespers kicked off this community's liturgical welcome for our new Bishop Gregory Parkes.

With faithful gratitude and acknowledgement to Father Richard J. Vigoa.

04 June 2012

Ordination Week

4 JUNE 2012. For a host of visitors and for the locals in this mission diocese, today kicks off Ordination week in the Panhandle and Big Bend of Florida. Of course, the highlight of the week will be the ordination of FSU alum Bishop Gregory L. Parkes as the fifth Bishop of Pensacola-Tallahassee. As many in this area of the Catholic world have not personally seen the ordination of a bishop (all of the diocese's previous bishops had already been ordained to the Order of Bishop prior to arriving in our Gulf-side see), there is a good deal of excitement in the Catholic community, and tomorrow's ordination promises to bring a tremendous crowd that will stretch both the host Church and overflow areas' capacity.

Here is a rundown of the liturgical celebrations for Bishop Parkes' ordination:

Tonight: 4 June 2012, 7:00 p.m. (CDT)
Vespers, Cathedral of the Sacred Heart

Tomorrow: 5 June 2012, 2:00 p.m. (CDT)
Memorial of Saint Boniface
Ordination and Installation Liturgy, St. Paul Catholic Church

Saturday: 9 June 2012, 5:00 p.m. (CDT)
Mass of Thanksgiving, St. Dominic Catholic Church
Panama City

Sunday: 10 June 2012, 11:45 a.m. (EDT)
Mass of Thanksgiving, Co-Cathedral of St. Thomas More

Sunday: 24 June 2012, 11:30 a.m. (CDT)
Mass of Thanksgiving, St. Mary Catholic Church
Fort Walton Beach

03 June 2012

Act of Consecration to the Sacred Heart

To be made every day during the Month:

O Lord Jesus, I consecrate my heart to Thee;
place it in Thine.
It is therein I wish to breathe,
to love, to live unknown to men,
and known only to Thee.
It is in this Sacred Heart
I shall derive those loving ardours
which should consume mine;
it is there I shall find strength, light, courage,
and true consolation.
When sad, it will rejoice me;
when languishing, it will animate me;
when troubled and disquieted, it will encourage
and uphold me.
O Heart of Jesus,
may my heart be the altar of Thy love.
May my tongue publish thy bounty,
my mind meditate on Thy perfections,
my memory preserve forever
the precious remembrance of Thy mercies.
May all in me express my love for Thy Heart, O Jesus,
and may my heart be disposed to offer Thee
every sacrifice.

O Heart of Mary, the most amiable, compassionate
and merciful after that of Jesus,
present to His Divine Heart,
my love, my resolutions, my consecration.
It will be moved by my miseries:
it will deliver me from them;
and, O Blessed Mother,
having been my protectress on earth,
thou wilt be my Queen in heaven.


02 June 2012

Devotion for June: The Sacred Heart of Jesus

2 JUNE 2012. In the month of June, the Church celebrates and commends to the faithful the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

In our devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which is in substance identified with devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, the faithful focus on the Heart of flesh that beat within the chest of Jesus: the Heart that was formed at the moment of His incarnation in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary; the Heart that was pierced on Calvary; and the Heart that now sits enthroned in Heaven at the right hand of the Father for all eternity.

Christ, the Word of God that was present in the beginning, humbled Himself to take on human flesh through the adorable and Blessed Virgin Mary. Taking on a heart of flesh, He gave of Himself in His very nature, by descending to the depths of humanity, in our very existence in the flesh, so that He may exalt humanity to heights of heaven: out of love for us. Love that is unblemished, unconcerned with self, unfailing, and unalterable. This love is and was the focus of the Sacred Heart, which is still the salvation given for humanity today and forever.