A time to pray

Bishops call for day to observe sacredness of life

Horrific videos revealing Planned Parenthood’s dealings with aborted baby parts moved Colorado’s bishops to call for a day of prayer.

“We call on all people of good will in Colorado and beyond to pray that those involved in research and medicine will fix their sights on recognizing the sacredness of life and refrain from putting human life at the service of science,” the bishops stated July 31.

A just society should protect the most innocent, they continued.

“A society can only be considered socially just if it protects the most vulnerable among us,” they stated.

The bishops—Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver, Bishop Michael Sheridan of Colorado Springs and Bishop Stephen Berg of Pueblo—together called for a statewide day of prayer and penance Aug. 28.

The day is meant to call prayerful attention to those involved in Planned Parenthood’s alleged collection and sale of aborted baby organs and to seek an end to the abortion giant’s destruction.

The bishops are asking for a day of prayer for an end to abortion and for those involved in the dealing with baby parts.

The bishops are asking for a day of prayer for an end to abortion and for those involved in the dealing with baby parts. Denver Catholic File Photo

The series of videos released by the nonprofit Center for Medical Progress, who posed as fetal tissue buyers at Planned Parenthood facilities, caused a reaction across the country. The undercover footage hit close to home when a Denver abortionist at Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains was shown.

“One of the reports includes a video of Planned Parenthood’s senior director of medical services casually discussing how their clinics extract the organs of aborted babies and make them available to researchers through procurement companies,” the bishops commented.

Some evidence revealed the abortion provider supplies baby parts to procurement companies that in turn sell the tissue. Colorado State University in Fort Collins is one entity suspected of purchasing baby organs.

The bishops urge clergy and faithful to observe the day and offer reparation for the offenses against life.

Some suggested observances include attending Mass, meditating in Scripture, spending time in adoration, praying the rosary, reciting the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy, praying the Way of the Cross, and fasting and abstaining from meat.

 

Adoration

The following churches offer 24-hour eucharistic adoration for those wishing to join the archdiocese in prayer on Aug. 28.

Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, Northglenn
Light of the World Church, Littleton
Our Lady of Loreto Church, Foxfield
St. Augustine Church, Brighton
St. Catherine of Siena Church, Denver
St. Frances Cabrini Church, Littleton
St. Joan of Arc Church, Arvada
St. John the Evangelist Church, Loveland
St. John XXIII Church, Fort Collins
St. Stephen Church, Glenwood Springs
St. Thomas More Church, Centennial

 

COMING UP: Collegiality and eucharistic integrity

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The concept of the “collegiality” of bishops has been sharply contested since the Second Vatican Council debated it in 1962, 1963, and 1964. That discussion was sufficiently contentious that a personal intervention from Pope Paul VI was required to incorporate the concept of episcopal collegiality within the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church in such a way that the pope’s primacy and universal jurisdiction were safeguarded. The debate about collegiality has continued ever since. Now, however, it’s focused more on what kind of collegiality exists within national conferences of bishops. Is it an “affective collegiality” of mutual support and encouragement? Or is episcopal collegiality within bishops’ conferences “effective,” such that a conference has real teaching and legislative authority?  

Whether collegiality is “affective,” “effective,” or some combination of the two, it ought to be clear what truly “collegial” behavior isn’t.   

It isn’t individual bishops attempting end-runs around their national conference, appealing for Roman interventions that would forestall debates that their brother bishops wish to engage. It isn’t bishops trying to browbeat the conference chairman into changing an agenda to suit the tastes of a distinct minority — and misleading their brother bishops as to what they’re about when soliciting support for such a gambit. And it isn’t trying to filibuster a conference meeting so that no action is possible on an agenda item that the great majority of bishops wish to consider and act upon. 

If any of those three maneuvers qualifies as collegial, then “collegiality” has no more meaning than the claim that my poor Baltimore Orioles have a great starting rotation. 

For years now — and by “years,” I mean long before the idea of a “President Biden” entered the stream of national consciousness — the bishops of the United States have been concerned that ours is becoming less of a eucharistic Church than Vatican II called us to be when it taught that the Eucharist is the “source and summit” of the Church’s life. Pope St. John Paul II reaffirmed that conciliar summons when, in his final encyclical, he taught that “the Church draws her life from the Eucharist,” which “recapitulates the heart and mystery of the Church.” Yet all around us we see declining Sunday Mass attendance: a sadness that preceded the pandemic but has been further exacerbated by it.  Moreover, surveys suggest that too many Catholics think of Sunday Mass as essentially a social occasion, rather than an encounter with the living God in which Christ is offered to the Father and is given back to his people in holy communion — a communion in and through the body and blood, soul and divinity of Christ, received under the forms of bread and wine.

If the Church lives from the Eucharist and yet the people of the Church don’t participate in the Eucharist as often as they should, or don’t understand what they’re celebrating and receiving when they do, then the Church suffers from a serious eucharistic deficit. Those ordained to leadership in the Church are obliged to do something about that. 

That is why the U.S. bishops have been determined for some time to undertake a comprehensive program of eucharistic education throughout the Church. For the great majority of bishops, that determination has been intensified by the fact that our eucharistic deficit is being compounded by the eucharistic incoherence of public officials who, rejecting authoritative Catholic teaching based on both revelation and reason, nonetheless present themselves for holy communion as if they were in full communion with the Church. The longstanding episcopal failure to address this incoherence exacerbates the eucharistic deficit in American Catholicism by implying that the Church really doesn’t mean what it teaches about the sacred nature of the Eucharist. 

Those suggesting that this is all about “politics” are either ill-informed or deliberately misleading the Church and the gullible parts of the media. Concern for the eucharistic integrity of the Church includes, but goes much deeper than, concerns about the eucharistic incoherence of Catholic public officials who act as if the Church’s settled convictions on the life issues and on worthiness to receive holy communion don’t exist. That is why the U.S. bishops are forging ahead with developing a teaching document that will clarify for the whole Church why we are a Eucharistic community, what the Eucharist truly is, what reception of the Eucharist means, and why everyone in the Church should examine conscience before receiving Christ in the sacrament. 

The wheels of collegiality may grind slowly. In this case, however, they are grinding truly, and for the sake of the Gospel.

George Weigel is an independent columnist whose weekly column is syndicated by the Archdiocese of Denver. The opinions and viewpoints expressed by Mr. Weigel therein are his alone and do not necessarily reflect those of the Archdiocese of Denver or the bishops of Denver.