Cardinal Burke, Archbishop Aquila call Catholic laity and clergy to be ‘faithful echoes’ of the Church

Faithful Echo campaign aimed to energize priests, laity at Oct. 31 event

Roxanne King

Last week the Archdiocese of Denver served as a launch-pad for a movement to rally Catholic laity and clergy in rekindling their zeal for holiness and evangelization in response to the controversies and abuse crisis dominating media headlines about the Church.

“The Faithful Echo movement … is directed to drawing clergy and the lay faithful in ever closer unity to combat the darkness of the present confusion, error and division in the Church,” Cardinal Raymond Burke told more than 200 laity and priests attending the Faithful Echo Dinner Oct. 31 at the Grand Hyatt in downtown Denver. “[We] are all called to recognize the purity and beauty of the doctrine and discipline of the Church and to work together as living members of the mystical body of Christ, to safeguard and defend our Catholic faith.

“All of us … are called to be a faithful echo. A faithful witness of Our Lord in the world.”

Cardinal Burke is a member and prefect emeritus of the Apostolic Signatura, the highest judicial authority of the Church. He keynoted the dinner, which followed a three-day priest conference attended by 80 clerics. The conference included talks by Cardinal Burke, by Cardinal Gerhard Muller, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, by Father John Trigilio, president of the Confraternity of the Catholic Clergy, and by Curtis Martin, founder and CEO of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students. Cardinal Burke also addressed Denver’s seminarians. Dr. Gianna Emanuela Molla, daughter of St. Gianna Beretta Molla for whom the saint gave her life, was a special guest of the dinner and conference.

Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila also addressed the guests, telling them that the Church today has the “same mission the apostles had in the early Church when they were commissioned to go out and make disciples of all nations…” (Photos by Brandon Young)

The events were co-sponsored by Catholic Action for Faith and Family, the Napa Institute, the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy and the Archdiocese of Denver.

In today’s climate of rampant relativism, it is critical for Catholics to faithfully carry out the Church’s mission, which is to give witness to the truth of Jesus Christ and the Gospels by word and action — to evangelize, Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila said, addressing the dinner guests.

“We have the same mission the apostles had in the early Church when they were commissioned to go out and make disciples of all nations and to teach them all that the Lord has taught,” he said.

Thomas McKenna, president of Catholic Action for Faith and Family, served as emcee for the dinner.

“The response God always gives to a suffering Church is the holy people who are striving to be saints,” McKenna said in his opening comments, quoting a Denver seminarian whose remarks McKenna asserted capture the spirit of the Faithful Echo campaign. “The challenge is for [the] laity to become saints and [for the] clergy to become saints. With that we will overcome this crisis we’re experiencing today.”

McKenna said the seminarian, Deacon Christian Mast, was speaking to youths and young adults following the recent release of the independent review by the Colorado Attorney General’s Office of the Denver, Colorado Springs and Pueblo dioceses on clergy sex abuse going back to 1950.

Father Trigilio, who is also an author, EWTN personality and director of pastoral formation at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md., affirmed those remarks.

“We want holy priests, we demand holy priests at the seminary, and we want holy faithful. Because that’s what our faith is about — the sanctification of souls,” he said. “And it’s a team effort [of] the mystical body of Christ.”
After last year’s grand jury report on clergy sex abuse going back 70 years in six Pennsylvania dioceses, Mount St. Mary’s expected a drop in seminary enrollment, Father Trigilio said. The opposite occurred as men of all ages enrolled.

“Lots of young, middle-aged, older men with zeal,” Father Trigilio said. “They were afraid that if they didn’t step up to the plate, who would take their place?

All of us … are called to be a faithful echo. A faithful witness of Our Lord in the world.”
– Cardinal Raymond Burke

“As I mentioned to the priests this week: The two things that are important for the priests are important for the faithful: You must have clarity of thought; know what the Church teaches and defend it. We also need sanctity of character.”

Cardinal Burke described the crisis in the Church today as one of “general confusion and error,” likening it to the fourth-century Arian heresy, which denied the divinity of Christ.

“Without doubt the Church is presently experiencing one of the most serious crises she has ever known,” he said. “There is a strong perception that Rome herself is no longer secure and firm.”

To confront the gravity of the situation, on May 31 Cardinal Burke was among a group of cardinals and bishops to sign an eight-page “Declaration of Truths” reaffirming Church teachings in response to confusion that has occurred under the current pontiff.

“In the quite alarming situation of the Church, I’m frequently asked by both priests and the lay faithful who love the Church and the truths of our faith transmitted to us by Christ alive in the Church, What ought we be doing?” Cardinal Burke said. “My response is simple…pray with all your heart and give witness to the truths of the faith in the Church and in the world.

“With the help of Divine grace,” he added, “let us go forth, let us fight the good fight, let us stay the course, let us keep the faith.”

COMING UP: Why did the Wall fall, 30 years ago?

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November 9 marked the 30th anniversary of the peaceful breach of the Berlin Wall — the symbolic high point of the Revolution of 1989, which would be completed seven weeks later by the fall of the Czechoslovak communist regime and Vaclav Havel’s election as that country’s president. A few days before the actual anniversary, German foreign minister Haiko Maas penned a brief essay on the reasons why the Wall came down, which was striking for what Mr. Mass didn’t mention.

He did not mention NATO steadfastness against a vast Soviet campaign of agitation and propaganda over western military modernization in the 1980s.

He did not mention President Ronald Reagan or Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher — he didn’t even mention West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl.

From my point of view, however, the most glaring omission in Mr. Maas’s essay was his complete lack of attention to the pivotal figure in the Revolution of 1989, Pope St. John Paul II. Just as oddly, the foreign minister neglected to mention the moral revolution — the revolution of conscience — that John Paul II helped ignite and that gave the Revolution of 1989 its unique human texture. This is bad history. And bad history always raises warning flags about the future.

Professor John Lewis Gaddis of Yale University is America’s most distinguished historian of the Cold War. He is not a Catholic, so he could not be accused of special pleading or sectarian bias in writing that “when John Paul II kissed the ground at the Warsaw Airport on June 2, 1979, he began the process by which communism in Poland — and ultimately everywhere — would come to an end.” My friendly amendment would be to note (as the Polish pope did) that a lot had been happening in east central Europe before John Paul’s June 1979 pilgrimage to Poland; so the Pope did not so much begin, as he did accelerate, the process of dismantling European communism through an effective nonviolent resistance based on the assertion of basic human rights. And he did that in part by giving the Catholic components of the resistance new courage, rooted in the conviction that “Rome” now had their backs (as it hadn’t in the 1970s).

But I will happily accept Professor Gaddis’s citation of June 2, 1979, as a signal moment in this process. What happened that day? Unbelievably, after more than 30 years of communist repression, a pope from behind the iron curtain celebrated Mass in Warsaw’s Victory Square. And during that hitherto unimaginable event, a vast crowd chanted, “We want God! We want God!”

That dramatic scene was the curtain-raiser on nine days of national renewal in which John Paul, in dozens of speeches and addresses, never mentioned politics or economics once and ignored the Polish communist government completely. Rather, he played numerous variations on one great theme: “You are not who they say you are. Remember who you are — reclaim the truth about yourselves as a nation formed by a Christian history and a vital faith — and you will eventually discover tools of resistance that communism cannot match.” The demand for religious freedom, in other words, was at the center of the John Paul II-inspired Solidarity movement in Poland, even as it became an increasingly prominent part of the human rights resistance to communism in Czechoslovakia, Lithuania, and what was then the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic.

Getting this history straight is important, not just as a matter of intellectual hygiene but for the future. Public officials who do not grasp the centrality of religious freedom to the collapse of European communism and the emergence of new democracies in central and eastern Europe are unlikely to appreciate the centrality of religious freedom to free and virtuous 21st-century societies and to 21st-century democracy. It is a sadness to note that Foreign Minister Maas is not alone in his ignorance, and in what one fears may be his insouciance about the first freedom.

A few days before the 30th anniversary of the Wall coming down, former Irish president Mary McAleese gave a lecture at Trinity College in Dublin. Did she celebrate her Church’s role in liberating a continent? No. Instead, she made the bizarre claim that infant baptism and the consequent obligation of parents to raise their baptized children in the faith may violate the U.N.’s Covenant on the Rights of the Child.

Hard to believe, but true — and an urgent reminder that bad history makes for bad public policy.

Featured image by Raphaël Thiémard | Wikicommons