Conference to provide battle plan for pro-life warriors

This year’s Gospel of Life Conference aims to educate, encourage and equip soldiers on the front lines of today’s culture wars.

The conference themed “Mission Possible: Battle Plan for a Society in Crisis” will be hosted by Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Denver, in conjunction with the Catholic Medical Association, Oct. 25 at Risen Christ Church. The day begins at 8:30 a.m. with the White Mass to honor doctors, nurses and other health-care professionals, celebrated by Bishop Paul Etienne of the Cheyenne Diocese.

Following Mass, keynote addresses will be delivered by Peter Kreeft, Ph.D., professor of philosophy at Boston College since 1965, speaking on “How to Win the Culture War;” and John Suthers, Colorado Attorney General, who will cover “Dissecting Obamacare II.”

Kreeft is the author of more than 75 books including one with the same title as his talk.

“Three most necessary things we must know,” he said in a past talk to his alma mater Calvin College. “First: that we are at war; second who our enemy is, and (third) what weapons or strategies can defeat him.

“We cannot win a war if we are blissfully sewing peace banners on a battlefield,” he continued. “Or if we too busy fighting civil wars against our allies, or if we are using the wrong weapons.”

Kreeft will provide concrete strategies for facing the culture war, according to Lynn Grandon, program director for Respect Life Resources of Catholic Charities and executive director of Lighthouse Women’s Center.

“People are unsettled,” she said. “There’s tension, despair, fear. I believe we should address these current hot topics head-on.”

Also among hot topics are the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), often referred to as “Obamacare.” Suthers was part of a panel discussion at Holy Ghost Church last March to help Catholics understand and navigate the Affordable Care Act.

“People who attended said it was the best explanation they’d heard,” Grandon said of Suthers’ comments during the panel.

Along with some 20 other attorneys general, Suthers signed a brief opposing Obamacare and the HHS mandate, arguing that it’s unconstitutional.

Tickets for the Gospel of Life Conference are $35, which includes meals, or $40 at the door. Medical professionals are invited to wear white lab coats to the White Mass. Risen Christ Church is located at 3060 S. Monaco Parkway. To register, click here. For more information, call 303-742-0828 or email AMeyer@ccdenver.org.

Gospel of Life Conference & White Mass
When: Oct. 25
White Mass: 8:30 a.m., honoring health-care professionals (wear white lab coats)
Celebrant: Cheyenne Bishop Paul Etienne
Conference: 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
Where: Risen Christ Church, 3060 S. Monaco Parkway, Denver
Speakers: Peter Kreeft, Ph.D., andColorado Attorney General John Suthers
Cost: $35, $40 at the door
Register: Click here
Questions: Call 303-742-0828 or email AMeyer@ccdenver.org

Respect Life Month
October is Respect Life month as designated by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Throughout the month, Catholics are called to renew their commitment to defend all human life through liturgies, prayer vigils and other events.

Respect Life Sunday
When: Oct. 5
Information: www.usccb.org/RespectLife

40 Days for Life
What: Prayer and outreach to end abortion
When: Sept. 24-Nov. 2
Information: www.40DaysForLife.com

COMING UP: Collegiality and eucharistic integrity

Sign up for a digital subscription to Denver Catholic!

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.