Rosary rallies promote prayer in the public square

Melissa Keating

A rosary crusader and Catholic Charities are teaming up to bring rosary rallies back to Denver.

Sam Perry, a member of the board of trustees for the Catholic Foundation, is the man behind Prayer in the Square, a new initiative that aims to renew devotion to the rosary.

Perry’s grandmother inspired his love for the rosary, praying it every day. He even attributes the rosary to saving lives in his family, as he was cured of rheumatic fever and sister from polio under their grandmother’s care.

Perry became determined to spread the devotion by simply giving away rosaries. To date, he estimates he has handed out over 25,000 rosaries to parishes throughout Northern Colorado. Then he read a book about rosary rallies and was inspired to make the devotion even more public.

“I read about rosary rallies and thought we should resurrect them,” Perry said. “If they can get a million people downtown for the Bronco’s game, why shouldn’t we be able to do it?”

Perry approached Catholic Charities CEO Larry Smith with his idea.

“The whole point of Prayer in the Square is to bring people of good will into public spaces to pray for the innocents who are being killed around the world,” Smith said.

While Prayer in the Square events have taken place around the archdiocese for months, a large one will take place at the Capitol in downtown Denver on April 2. Those present will pray a rosary and a Divine Mercy chaplet, alternating between English and Spanish.

“I’m looking forward to the sight of a bunch of people, many of them kneeling, getting people’s attention,” Perry said.

Prayer in the Square will focus on praying for all the innocents being slaughtered around the world, with a special emphasis on Christians in the Middle East and the unborn.

“We want to get as many people to pray for life as we can. We want to honor life and Mary,” Smith said.

Perry said that the Capitol made logistical sense, as it can hold many people. He said the location is also optimal because of its visibility and frequently used symbolism.

“I see all those other rallies for all these various causes, and none of them include God, or very few,” Perry said. “Our country needs the prayers. I’m hoping the participants experience something like Lourdes or Fatima—just an overwhelming sense of peace.”

For more information, visit http://prayerinthesquare.com.

COMING UP: Nothing about us without us

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The slogan “Nothing about us without us” was used by Solidarity in the 1980s in Poland, borrowing a royal motto from the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in the mid-second millennium. Then, it was expressed in Latin: Nihil de nobis sine nobis. Later, it appeared in Polish on the banners of 19th-century Poles fighting their country’s partition by Russia, Prussia, and Austria: Nic o Nas bez Nas. Today, it’s often used by disability activists asserting their claim to be fully participant in society.

“Nothing about us without us” also applies to the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon Region, which will meet in Rome in October.

That Synod will involve seven bishops’ conferences from nine Latin American countries who will consider their pastoral situation under the theme, “Amazonia: new paths for the Church and for an integral ecology.” As is usually the case in these meetings, the bishops at the Synod will work with materials drafted in Rome. Early indicators from the Synod’s preparatory document suggest that the Amazonian Synod will be longer on environmentalism than on theology. International media attention will doubtless focus on the Synod’s discussion of climate change and its relationship to Amazonian deforestation.

Recent synodal history suggests, however, that more will be afoot at the Amazonian Synod than what its announced theme suggests.

The 2014 and 2015 Synods were called to consider the crisis of marriage and the family throughout the world. Yet they became the occasion for powerful churchmen to try to deconstruct Catholic moral theology and sacramental discipline, according to the tried-and-failed theologies and pastoral practices of the 1970s. The 2018 Synod, summoned to discuss youth ministry and vocational discernment, began with an effort by the Synod general secretariat to enshrine the world’s language of sexual plasticity (and the lame understandings of happiness that underwrite that language) into an official Church document. When that failed, Synod-2018 became the occasion for the Synod general secretariat to promote an ill-defined notion of “synodality” that struck more than a few bishops present as a prescription for local-option, choose-your-own-doctrine Catholicism on the model of the (imploding) Anglican Communion.

This pattern seems likely to continue at the Amazonian Synod. There, the deeper agenda will be the ordination of mature married men — viri probati — to the priesthood. Proponents will argue that this dramatic change in the Church’s longstanding tradition of a celibate priesthood (which, contrary to much misinformation, antedates the early Middle Ages by hundreds of years) is necessary because Amazonia is a Catholic area deprived of the Eucharist by a lack of priests. One hopes that the counterclaims — that Amazonia is mission territory requiring wholesale evangelization, and that Amazonia’s lack of priests reflects racial and class divisions in Latin American Catholicism that discourage priests of European pedigree from working with indigenous peoples — get a serious hearing.

Proponents of ordaining viri probati in Amazonia, including retired Brazilian Cardinal Claudio Hummes, OFM, have insisted that any such concession there would have no implications for the universal Church. That cannot be, however. Should the Amazonian Synod request the Pope to grant a dispensation from the discipline of celibacy for that region, and should he grant it, it will be just a matter of time before bishops conferences elsewhere — Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, and Austria come immediately to mind — make similar requests, citing pressing pastoral needs. On what ground would those requests be denied?

In a year-end interview with Vatican News, the Synod’s general secretary, Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, insisted that the Amazonian Synod would not discuss environmental issues only, but would also confront “ecclesial themes” — and would do so in a way that Amazonia could be “a model for the whole world.”

We can be grateful to the cardinal for his candor in, however unintentionally, letting the celibacy cat out of the synodal bag. Any decision to ordain viri probati in Amazonia would inevitably have major consequences for the entire Church. A decision of this magnitude cannot be taken by an unrepresentative segment of the Church and then turned into a “model” for everyone else.

That is why the principle of “Nothing about us without us” must apply here. Whatever else “synodality” may mean, it surely must mean that decisions bearing on everyone should involve as broad a consultation and as global a reflection as possible. Bishops who agree should make their concerns known now, not after the Amazonian synod meets.

Featured image by Vatican Media | CNA