JCS News


  • Cardinal O'Malley Delivers the 2014 Fall Lecture

    Posted September 10, 2014

    On September 9, 2014, His Eminence, Seán Cardinal O'Malley, Archbishop of Boston, delivered the Fall Lecture, entitled "Pope Francis and The New Evangelization," to a packed auditorium at The Newseum.

    To listen to a recording of the lecture, please click here.

    Cardinal O'Malley delivers the 2014 Fall Lecture Cardinal O'Malley responds to questions at the 2014 Fall Lecture Erik Causey, Elizabeth Meers and Msgr. Peter J. Vaghi present Cardinal O'Malley with a gift at the 2014 Fall Lecture

    To learn more about Cardinal O'Malley and his service as the Archbishop of Boston, click here. Also, the Cardinal's blog can be accessed here.

  • Cardinal Wuerl Addresses the John Carroll Society at the 2014 Annual Dinner

    Posted April 26, 2014

    At the John Carroll Society Annual Dinner on April 26, attendees were welcomed with a video address from His Eminence, Donald Cardinal Wuerl.

    Cardinal Wuerl had recorded the address before leaving for Rome, where he was at the time of the Annual Dinner for the Papal Mass and canonizations of Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII.

    In his address, Cardinal Wuerl thanked the John Carroll Society for its continued service to the Archdiocese of Washington, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year.

    The video can be viewed below.
    (Click on the "Full screen" icon in the lower right corner of the frame below to enable full-screen viewing.)

  • After Rose Mass, Cardinal Wuerl Thanks Carroll Society Volunteers for Reflecting "The Francis Effect"

    Posted March 30, 2014

    By Mark Zimmermann
    Catholic Standard

    Pope Francis’s style of sharing Christ’s love with the poor and sick – which has been characterized as “the Francis effect” in the pope’s first year – is a way of living and sharing the faith that members of the John Carroll Society in the Archdiocese of Washington have been demonstrating for many years, Cardinal Wuerl said March 30.

    Speaking after the annual Rose Mass at the Church of the Little Flower in Bethesda celebrated to pray for health workers, Washington’s archbishop thanked the John Carroll Society members for faithfully volunteering in Catholic Charities’ health care and legal networks serving the poor.

    “Francis doesn’t just tell us what the Gospel says – he shows us how to do it. Thank you for helping that resonate here in the archdiocese,” Cardinal Wuerl said at the Rose Mass brunch, where four lay volunteers with Catholic Charities Health Care Network, and a local priest serving as a hospital and nursing home chaplain, were honored.

    Cardinal Wuerl presented a special medallion commemorating Pope Francis’s first year to Elizabeth Meers, the society’s president; Dr. Thomas Winkler, the Rose Mass Committee chair; and to Msgr. Peter Vaghi, the society’s chaplain and the pastor of the Church of the Little Flower.

    The Rose Mass is celebrated annually to seek God’s blessings on the medical, dental, nursing and allied health care workers, and on the many health care institutions in the Archdiocese of Washington. Since 1992, the John Carroll Society has sponsored the Rose Mass in the Archdiocese of Washington on Laetare Sunday, the fourth Sunday of Lent, when the vestments worn by the celebrant are rose-colored. The rose also symbolizes life, whose care is entrusted to the healing professions.

    During the brunch following the Mass, the 2014 Pro Bono Health Care Awards were presented to Dr. Elizabeth Dugan, a dermatopathologist; Dr. Robert Murphy, an ophthalmologist and retina specialist; and to Dr. Joshua Yamamoto, a cardiologist. All volunteer with Catholic Charities’ Health Care Network, as does Dr. Salvatore Selvaggio, a dentist who received the 2014 James Cardinal Hickey Lifetime Service Award, named for the former archbishop of Washington who worked with a small group of doctors to found the Health Care Network in 1984. This past year, the 220 volunteer doctors, dentists and specialists in the network, along with participating hospitals and clinics, provided more than $6 million worth of charitable care to 1,915 patients.

    Also at the Rose Mass brunch, Father M. Valentine Keveny, the Catholic chaplain at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital in Rockville and Asbury Methodist Village in Gaithersburg, received the 2014 Msgr. Harry A. Echle Award for Outstanding Service in Health Care Ministry, named for a priest who served as a longtime hospital chaplain in the archdiocese.

    Earlier at the Rose Mass at the Church of the Little Flower, Jesuit Father James Shea noted in his homily how Pope Francis at a general audience at the Vatican this past November kissed and embraced a disfigured man, who later said, “I had never felt so peaceful, so accepted.” The priest said that grace is what Mother Teresa was talking about when she described serving the sick and dying as recognizing “Christ in distressing disguise.”

    Father Shea, the provincial of the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus who earlier served as director of medical center ministry at Georgetown University Hospital, reflected on that day’s Gospel reading about Jesus healing the man born blind, a man who was the object of scorn, begging by the side of the road. He noted that Jesus explained that the man’s blindness was not a result of sin, but “so that the works of God might be made visible through him.” (John 9:3)

    “Can it be that illness and suffering can be a spiritual journey that can draw us deeper into God’s love?” the priest asked. “Can it be that human brokenness is holy ground? Can Catholic physicians, nurses and others who serve the sick have more than a profession, but a vocation, a holy calling?”

    The priest noted that on a more profound level, the story of Jesus healing the blind man “is a story of coming to faith in Jesus.” After he was healed, the man recognized Jesus as his Lord and savior, Father Shea said. “We all need to be healed of blindness and see Christ as our light and the light of the world.”

    And as with the man born blind, that new way of seeing can come about by encountering Jesus, and seeing the world, our sick and needy brothers and sisters, and our own brokenness “with new eyes,” Father Shea said. “This morning, we meet the Lord, in church community gathered, in Word proclaimed, (and) in Eucharistic meal shared.”

  • The John Carroll Society Commemorates the 30th Anniversary of the Catholic Charities Healthcare Network

    Posted March 30, 2014

    During the Rose Mass luncheon on March 30, the John Carroll Society unveiled a video commemorating the 30th anniversary of the Catholic Charities Healthcare Network.

    The video recounts the founding of the Network by Cardinal Hickey, describes the continued support for the Network by the John Carroll Society and its members, and highlights the impact of the Network both on those receiving medical care and those providing it.

    The video can be viewed below.
    (Click on the "Full screen" icon in the lower right corner of the frame below to enable full-screen viewing.)

    For more information about the Catholic Charities Healthcare Network, including volunteer opportunities, please visit http://www.catholiccharitiesdc.org/cchcn.

    For more information about the Rose Mass, please visit http://www.johncarrollsociety.org/jcs-membership/the-rose-mass/index.aspx.

  • Msgr. Vaghi Delivers the Homily at the Baptism of the Lord Mass

    Posted January 12, 2014

    Baptism of the Lord Mass
    Msgr. Peter J. Vaghi
    St. Patrick Church
    January 12, 2014

    Jesus went directly from that thirty year period of hidden life at His home in Nazareth, His period of formation for His ministry, to the banks of the Jordan River. Upon arrival at the Jordan to be baptized by John, He encountered a crowd. They were sinners, tax collectors and soldiers, Pharisees and Sadducees and prostitutes, His future constituents. Each was waiting to be baptized by John the Baptist. They were there to repent of their sins. And Jesus joined them and waited His turn as we so often wait in line in church, waiting our turn, for the healing sacrament of confession.

    For Jesus, His Baptism marks the visible beginning of His public ministry, how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power. The mission of Jesus opens a new hope-filled chapter in the history of God's saving action. Yes, in the words of Isaiah, He is a light for the nations. As he ascended from the Jordan River, Scripture tells us that the heavens opened and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove upon Him and He heard a voice from heaven saying: This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased, a profound expression of His Father's love for Him and an affirmation of Jesus' preparedness to begin His mission, a mission which the Father sent Him to accomplish.

    In effect, Jesus' Baptism also triggered in Him an irrevocable acceptance of His mission to be our Savior from that point forward. You might rightly ask why Jesus, who is without sin, would gather and stand in line with repentant sinners in the waters of the Jordan to be baptized, waters that wash away sin? Pope Francis said a few days ago: God became mortal, fragile like us, he shared our human condition, except for sin, but took our sins upon himself as if they were his own. St. Maximus of Turin writes: Christ is baptized, not to be made holy by the water, but to make the water holy, and by his cleansing to purify the waters which he touched. St. Hippolytus writes: This is the water that is linked to the Spirit, the water that irrigates Paradise, makes the earth fertile, gives growth to plants, and brings forth living creatures. In short, this is the water by which a man receives new birth and life, the water in which even Christ was baptized.

    Standing on the shores of the Jordan a few years ago, Benedict XVI proclaimed in a moving homily: Jesus stood in line with sinners and accepted John's baptism of penance as a prophetic sign of his own passion, death and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins, that which was to come. In effect, then, at His Baptism, Jesus began to take upon Himself the weight of all of humanity's sin. It was the beginning His salvific work, Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

    By that most memorable and humble action of our God, Jesus makes the waters of baptism holy and ready for you and me. Jesus gives us an unforgettable example, a picture we will never forget--His bowing down in a river to be baptized. Importantly, it is you and I whom He identified with in the Jordan River--people like us then and now--sinners. And the Baptism of Jesus has consequences for us in our day! There is not a moment or day in this world or ours when someone is not being baptized. Unlike this beautiful feast when we ponder the mystery of Jesus' specific day of baptism, the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, typically we do not celebrate our own baptismal day. Yes, I speak of the concrete day the Holy Spirit anointed you and me, making us into temples of His Spirit, the day we were each reborn--recreated--as children of the Father forever, the day when we became united to the body of Christ, the Church--and to each other in and through Him (and I wonder how many here know the precise date of your Baptism).

    And yet, for Christians, this second birthday (in the words of Pope Francis) is the most important day of our lives, the beginning of our spiritual lives and journeys, the day when the Lord opened the door of His Church to us. It is the day when we were plunged into the very life of God for Baptism means: to plunge or immerse--in this case--into the life of God, who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. For us, as baptized Christians, our baptism triggers a life-time adventure, a day which initiates us into a life-long vocation of self-gift, of dying and rising with Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit and as children of the Father. It is not a one-day experience as important as it is. By Baptism, we share thereafter each and every day in the concrete mission of Jesus. In the words of Pope Francis this past week: Our baptism has changed us, given us a new and glorious hope, and empowered us to bring God's redeeming love to all, particularly the poor, in whom we see the face of Christ.

    Our baptism has also given us a share in the Church's mission of evangelization; as disciples, we are also missionaries. And every day! At its root, then, Baptism is a most marvelous gift of God, a gift of newness of life, a life that is at the basis of our vocation to holiness. It is a call that we are challenged to live each and every day of our lives. In the words of Father Rosica, our speaker today, the acceptance of the call to holiness places God as our final goal in every aspect of our lives and it envelops and sustains our relationship with other human beings in our homes, workplaces, places of leisure or wherever we are.

    On this particular Sunday, this Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, we celebrate and give thanks for our own baptisms and our vocation to live holy lives. We give thanks to Jesus for making the waters of Baptism ready for you and me and for giving us an unforgettable example standing in line with sinners to be baptized as he inaugurated His public life! With enthusiasm, then, we embrace--as baptized men and women the challenging words from the prophet Isaiah, words which we are empowered to live precisely because of our baptisms, words that speak to each of us concretely in this holy place: I formed you and set you as a covenant of the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes of the blind, to bring out prisoners from confinement, and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness.

    How grateful we are to be baptized into Christ Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit and grateful for our new status as children of God our heavenly Father, trusting that we too continue to be identified by Him as His beloved sons and daughters after the example of Jesus, the Christ!


    Msgr. Vaghi delivers his homily at the Baptism of the Lord Mass.
    Msgr. Vaghi delivers his homily at the Baptism of the Lord Mass.

  • Father Thomas Rosica Addresses the Society at Brunch following the Baptism of the Lord Mass

    Posted January 18, 2014

    Father Thomas Rosica, C.S.B, president of Assumption University in Ontario, spoke to Society members at the Brunch following the Baptism of the Lord Mass. Last winter, the Vatican invited Father Rosica, who also serves as the CEO of the Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation, to join the staff of the Holy See Press Office. While there, he appeared daily at news briefings explaining the historic papal transition that included Pope Benedict’s resignation, and election of the new pope.

    A video of Fr. Rosica's talk can be viewed below.
    (Click on the "Full screen" icon in the lower right corner of the frame below to enable full-screen viewing.)

    Below are excerpts from Fr. Rosica's remarks at the Brunch, where he spoke of both Pope Benedict's resignation and the new direction of the pontificate under Pope Francis.

    (On the legacy of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI)

    The February 11, 2013 announcement of Pope Benedict’s resignation caught many in the Roman Catholic Church and the world by surprise. But perhaps it shouldn’t have. Pope Benedict XVI submitted his resignation freely, in accordance with the Church’s Code of Canon Law. It was an unprecedented decision in modern history and offers the church and the world a profound teaching moment. It is perfectly in line with one of the greatest teachers of the faith that the church has ever known.

    * * * * *

    For eight years on the chair of Peter, Pope Benedict turned to Scripture far more than doctrine, making connections between the early Christians and people of our time struggling to live their faith. He tackled contemporary social and political issues by emphasizing a few main principles: that human rights rest on human dignity, that people come before profits, that the right to life is an ancient measure of humanity and not just a Catholic teaching, and that efforts to exclude God from civil affairs are corroding modern society. “A world emptied of God, a world that has forgotten God, loses life and falls into a culture of death.”

    Ultimately, for Benedict, Christianity is an encounter with beauty, the possibility of a more authentic, more exciting life. His mantra was about friendship with Jesus and with God.

    The momentous occasion of his resignation stands as an important moment in the life of the Catholic Church and in the life of the world. If today we are basking in the Franciscan light, I cannot stress enough how grateful we must be to Joseph Ratzinger, Benedict XVI who made Francis possible for the Church and the world. We owe Benedict immense gratitude.

    (On the election of Pope Francis)

    With the “Habemus Papam” came the name of a stranger, and outsider, who instantly won over the crowd in the Piazza and the entire world with the words, “Fratelli e Sorelle, buona sera!” (Brothers and sisters, good evening!) Who would believe a pontificate beginning with those simple, common words? Never in my wildest imaginings did I expect a Pope to be called Francis! Nor could I comprehend the scene of well over one hundred thousand cheering people suddenly becoming still and silent as Papa Francesco bowed and asked them to pray for him and pray over him. It was the most moving moment I have ever experienced at a Vatican celebration. His words “Pray for me…” still resound in my ears.

    From the very first moments, Pope Francis stressed his role with the ancient title of “bishop of Rome” who presides in charity, echoing the famous statement of Ignatius of Antioch. Francis has brought to the papacy a knack for significant gestures that immediately convey very powerful messages.

    (On the papacy of Pope Francis)

    Standing before the face of Christ is a call to repentance, to conversion of life and to costly solidarity with the innocents marked for death, just as it is a call to receive God’s fathomless mercy. Pope Francis speaks naturally on the level of vision and intuition. His rhetoric of the image will both attract and perplex. There are no explanatory footnotes. It is an unvarnished call for the church and every Christian to undergo reform by standing under the gaze of Christ. In the transforming light of that face, the rest will follow.

    But there is also another reason why the world may stop and listen to this Pope. Why is this man so disturbing to our conscience, our mind and our heart? While so many love being in his presence, many more are left very uncomfortable when they realize what he is asking of us. Francis is speaking powerfully to each of us about how we let patterns of materialism captivate our lives and distort our humanity. The pope disarmingly makes us deeply uncomfortable in a way that allows us to recognize and confront the alienation from our own humanity that occurs when we seek happiness in objects rather than in relationship with God and others.

    * * * * *

    Pope Francis’ daily mantra can be summed up in one expression: “Go out to the peripheries.” He calls us out of our cocoons to go to "the existential peripheries." Think outside the box. Go to uncharted places on the fringes. You will be surprised who you find there! For the Pope, the Church is Missionary or she will die. Do we really want to go to these "existential peripheries"? How many times do we feel assaulted and challenged by them?

    * * * * *

    Let us never forget the deep continuity between Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and Pope Francis, Bishop of Rome. It is manifested in their outlook on faith and their awareness that it is the Lord who leads the Church, not the Pope. Francis teaches the doctrine identical to that of his predecessors. He reminds us of the words of his predecessor Blessed John over 50 years ago at the beginning of the Second Vatican Council: "The substance of the ancient doctrine of the Deposit of Faith is one thing, and the way it is presented is another."

    Fr. Rosica delivers his remarks at the Brunch following the Baptism of the Lord Mass.
    Fr. Rosica delivers his remarks at the Brunch following the Baptism of the Lord Mass.

  • Pope Francis - A Light for All Catholics

    A letter from Donald Cardinal Wuerl
    Posted October 16, 2013

    October 15, 2013

    Dear Friends,

    From the moment he stepped out onto the balcony of Saint Peter’s Basilica, Pope Francis has captured the hearts, imagination and vision of growing multitudes of people. To be sure, many were already cheering even before they knew who the new pontiff was because they knew that, as the Successor of Peter, the Pope is our living continuity with the Apostles and therefore Jesus. And ever since they have come to know Pope Francis, the excitement among active Catholics has only grown. But even more important, he has become a light that has drawn inactive Catholics and non-Catholics as well.

    How might this example and new enthusiasm in the life of the Church inform us in our own journey of faith?

    What we have come to know and love in these rapidly passing six months is not a new Gospel – it’s the same heritage, the same message passed on for 2,000 years. No, what we are seeing and hearing is a new way ofdoing the Gospel, that same wondrous message that came to us from Popes Benedict and Blessed John Paul II before him, and now comes to us through Francis in the Church. It is very heartening as we prepare for our Archdiocesan Synod on Pentecost next year.

    By what he does and how he does it, by what he says and how he says it, Pope Francis is offering a whole new moment of grace, outreach and renewal. I encourage you to read his homilies, addresses or interviews (such as the one which recently appeared in America magazine), and see how our Holy Father is presenting the ancient teaching in a whole new way. And note, if some are perhaps confused about what the Pope is saying, especially if they hear his remarks mediated through the secular media, it is beneficial to read his words in the context of everything he says, as well as the whole of Catholic teaching.

    Watching the Pope these last several months, I’ve thought to myself, his papacy is the New Evangelization in action: presenting the Gospel in ways that are “new in ardor, methods and expression” (see Blessed John Paul II, Address to CELAM, March 9, 1983), while urging that our re-proposing of the Good News of Jesus be more simple, profound, and radiant. “At times we lose people because they don’t understand what we are saying, because we have forgotten the language of simplicity and import an intellectualism foreign to our people,” Pope Francis said during his trip to Rio. “Proclamation in a missionary style focuses on the essentials, on the necessary things,” he implores, adding, “The most important thing is the first proclamation: Jesus Christ has saved you.”

    In all humility, our Holy Father makes the remarkable assertion, “I am a sinner,” prompting us to admit that we too are sinners. But, “we sinners are called to allow ourselves to be transformed, renewed, sanctified by God,” he says further. “The Church, which is Holy, does not reject sinners; on the contrary, she receives them, is open also to those who are most distant, she calls all to allow themselves to be enveloped by the mercy, the tenderness and the forgiveness of the Father, who offers all the possibility of encountering him, of walking towards sanctity.”

    This pastoral message strikes me as precisely what the Church needs today – the eternal message in new and exciting words and action that can warm the hearts of people and heal wounds. It also echoes the pleas of the general congregations before the conclave and the Synod of Bishops for the New Evangelization, which met last year at this time, to speak to the issues that people are struggling with, but first and foremost to bring them an experience, a sense of God’s saving and life-giving love (see Propositions 9 and 33).

    Pope Francis puts the person first, not in some abstract fashion, but in a very real, intensely human way. In his outreach to those in physical poverty or intellectual poverty, his visits to the slums and embrace of refugees and migrants, his calls for a culture of solidarity to counter the throwaway culture, we see his passion for those who are on the outskirts of society.

    Now it’s our turn. Pope Francis calls us to take the Good News and go out to people where they are, to go out especially to those on the peripheries and build bridges, not walls, to establish a dialogue with all people, including those who do not share our faith or embrace it in its fullness, and even those who oppose the Church and her teaching. “We must always consider the person,” he said in the America interview. “Here we enter into the mystery of the human being. In life, God accompanies persons, and we must accompany them, starting from their situation. It is necessary to accompany them with mercy.”

    In doing this, in walking through the dark night with others, Pope Francis tells us not to be afraid that we might make mistakes. Jesus goes ahead of us and the Holy Spirit is at work.

    It’s our turn now. We are called to go out to our brothers and sisters in the Lord. Like Francis, as new evangelizers, we must be bold and joyful, urgent and connected to the Church, confident bearers of hope to others, helping to build a civilization of inclusion and love in Jesus Christ.

    With every good wish I am,

    Faithfully in Christ,

    Donald Cardinal Wuerl

    Archbishop of Washington

  • Msgr. Vaghi Gives the Red Mass Homily in Diocese of Springfield

    Posted October 16, 2013

    Red Mass Homily
    Diocese of Springfield
    October 14, 2013
    Msgr. Peter J. Vaghi

    It is a high honor and distinct privilege for me to offer the homily at this second annual Red Mass in the Diocese of Springfield. I especially thank your bishop, and my good friend, Bishop Thomas Paprocki, for inviting me for this great occasion.

    Originating centuries ago in Rome, Paris and London, the Red Mass has a rich tradition of invoking God’s blessing on judges, lawyers, professors of law, governmental officials and all people involved in the administration of justice. This tradition continues annually and increasingly in many dioceses around our Nation. I applaud you for beginning this tradition here in your diocese.

    In one month’s time, we will be commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg address. It was given by President Lincoln on the occasion of the dedication of the cemetery at Gettysburg a few months after that decisive battle there, with over 50,000 Federal and Confederate soldiers dead, wounded missing or captured, a battle that preserved our Union and the freedoms we continue to cherish. There could be no better place in our Nation to remember the words given there than in this land of Lincoln and at this second annual Red Mass in Springfield, Illinois, where Mr. Lincoln lived for a quarter century.

    In that most brief yet highly memorable and celebrated speech, President Lincoln reminded us that “our fathers brought forth upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” And in paying tribute to those who died in the battle, he expressed the hope: “that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

    We continue to ponder the foundational principles of this great Nation-- principles mentioned on that auspicious day in President Lincoln’s address. I speak today, as he did 150 years ago, of liberty, equality and a government of the people, by and for the people. And he spoke 87 years after the Declaration of Independence laid the foundation for the kind of country we were destined to become, a Nation based on certain “self-evident” “truths.” These are the same “truths” President Lincoln had to have had in his mind at Gettysburg and that we reflect on at this Red Mass.

    And we do this as we call upon the Holy Spirit to enlighten us, to enlighten in a special way each of you who serves the cause of justice and works for the common good. Yes, we call again and again for that “new spirit” to be placed within us, the same spirit prophesized by that great Jewish prophet Ezekiel in our first reading where he promised that the Lord God would give us “a new heart and place a new spirit within” us. It is the same Holy Spirit who came upon the Church on Pentecost “like a strong driving wind which was heard all through the house where the [apostles] were seated.”

    The Holy Spirit is referred to in today’s gospel as “the Spirit of truth.” With the yearning for the “Spirit of truth,” then, we hear today at Springfield the moving words of our 237 year old Declaration of Independence unanimously passed on July 4, 1776. We continue to aspire to be “a government of the people, by the people, for the people.”

    That foundational document of our democracy speaks of the "Laws of Nature and of Nature's God" and "We hold these truths to be self-evident." Included in these "truths," the document--protected and enshrined under secure green glass in the National Archives-- speaks of "rights," "certain unalienable rights" endowed to each of us by our Creator: "that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

    These are memorable words. These “truths” helped bring our great democratic experiment into existence and have sustained us as a Nation. And we know from that fifth century father of the church, Ambroiaster, that “anything true by no matter whom said is from the Holy Spirit.” So we call upon the Holy Spirit to help us deepen our understanding of these “truths” referred to in our Declaration of Independence, “truths” which had to have inspired those courageous soldiers at Gettysburg 150 years ago who preserved our union.

    In our land today, however, there are some who regrettably interpret these "truths," truths whose origin is the Holy Spirit, in varying ways—almost and sometimes with the effect of denying them. At a minimum, they are not seen by all as self-evident--these truths which from the beginning of our national experiment helped define us as Americans--these truths of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness--once the basis of a clearer American consensus.

    Liberty, for example, cannot for long exist without truth, especially the transcendent truth of the human person. Nor is pursuit of happiness for any one of us furthered if the life of each of us--including the weakest in our midst-- is not protected. I speak of life from the womb until natural death and every aspect of life in between.

    As our late Holy Father Blessed (soon to be Saint) John Paul II stated in his 10th encyclical letter, Veritatis Splendor , (the “Splendor of Truth”), “the root of modern totalitarianism is to be found in the denial of the transcendent dignity of the human person who, as the visible image of the invisible God, is therefore by his very nature the subject of rights which no one may violate--no individual, group, class, nation or state" (V.S. 99).

    Or as the late Father Richard John Neuhaus has eloquently written:

    "When truth itself is democratized--when truth is no more than the will of each individual or a majority of individuals—democracy, deprived of the claim to truth, stands naked to its enemies. Thus does freedom, when it is not 'ordered to truth' undo freedom" (Wall Street Journal, October 8, 1993).

    Our Catholic tradition is a tradition of natural law, revealed by God, but accessible to unaided reason. Our perennial challenge, a challenge for this Red Mass, is to help this Nation see again more clearly, according to reason if not from revelation, that certain unalienable rights do exist--the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. These rights are immutable and universal, not “values” created by the passing electoral plebiscite of any particular moment in time and history.

    These “unalienable rights” include most importantly the freedom of religion, religious liberty, a certain cherished liberty at risk in some quarters today. The right to exercise our faith and follow our conscience in all aspects of our lives, privately and publicly, and not just in our places of worship, are viewed with hostility by some in our society today and have experienced a steady erosion.

    We view religious liberty as an unalienable right, one given to us by God and the natural law. It is forever enshrined in the Declaration of Independence and protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution.

    “Life, liberty and pursuit of happiness,” truths upon which this Nation was born 237 years ago, are not man made or changeable but truths endowed by our Creator. They are the truths that have sustained our country and will help this wonderful Nation continue to grow as our forebears envisioned -- if only we do not grow weak, if we, especially as Catholics, continue to speak, and not give up hope, when the life of the weakest among us is imperiled, when our religious liberty, ever so subtly is threatened and when our happiness and its pursuit, especially the happiness to live lives of faith is made more difficult or impossible to embrace because of any and all efforts which impinge that pursuit.

    At this solemn Red Mass, we rededicate ourselves to insuring that our freedoms and liberty are never taken for granted. Only through constant study and vigilance will the vision of our forebears remain a reality today and in the years to follow. And in the words of President Lincoln at Gettysburg, we are reminded that “It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they (the soldiers at Gettsysburg) who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.”

    As we have called upon “the spirit of truth” today to enlighten us in the truth, those self-evident truths upon which our country has been formed, we pray now as we return to the altar of this holy Mass that that same Holy Spirit will transform the bread and wine into the body and blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Strengthened with this gift from heaven, then, we go forth to love and serve the Lord and each other, and so guided, serve our Nation that we might be instruments of renewal in the service of justice and the common good.

    And I conclude in the words of our Holy Father Pope Francis, appropriate words for this Mass of the Holy Spirit: “Let us renew our trust in the Holy Spirit every day. The trust that He enacts in us, He is in us, He gives us courage, confidence and peace! Let us be guided by Him, men and women of prayer, witnessing the Gospel with courage, becoming instruments in our world of God’s unity and communion (May 22, 2013).


  • Bishop Kevin J. Farrell Delivers Red Mass Homily

    Unity in Diversity
    Posted October 9, 2013

    His Excellency, Bishop Kevin J. Farrell, Bishop of Dallas, delivered the homily at the Red Mass on October 6, 2013.

    To view the text of his homily, please click here.

    To listen to an audio recording of his homily, please click here.

    Bishop Farrell delivers his homily at the Red Mass.
    Bishop Farrell delivers his homily at the Red Mass.


    Catholicism and our Challenging World Today
    Posted September 13, 2013

    His Eminence, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, joined Bret Baier, the anchor for Fox News Channel’s “Special Report with Bret Baier,” for the John Carroll Society’s Fall Lecture.

    The interview, held at the Newseum on Tuesday, September 10, 2013, addressed the topic “Catholicism and our Challenging World Today.

    Cardinal Wuerl and Bret Baier at the John Carroll Society Fall Lecture.
    Cardinal Wuerl and Bret Baier at the John Carroll Society Fall Lecture.

    To listen to the audio from the full interview, click here.

    To watch a clip of the full interview, click here.

    A 10-minute clip of highlights from the interview can be viewed below.
    (Click in the lower right corner of the clip to enable full-screen viewing.)