Archbishop's column

Before the Cross - Archbishop Robert J. Carlson's Column

'Before The Cross' by Archbishop Robert J. Carlson. Archbishop Carlson is the ninth Archbishop of Saint Louis. Listed below are the most recent columns written by Archbishop Carlson; click on the title to read the column. The Archdiocesan website has more information about Archbishop Robert J. Carlson.

Vocations to the consecrated life


On Aug. 4 and 5 of last week, I traveled to Chicago to take part in an inquirers’ conference for women who are hearing the call to consecrated virginity lived in the world.The conference is sponsored each year by the U.S. Association of Consecrated Virgins, to which many of the consecrated virgins in our nation belong. Since the mid-1990s, I have been the episcopal moderator of the association, which means that I represent the concerns of the Catholic bishops of our country to the members and, likewise, communicate their concerns to the bishops. For me, it has been an honor and inspiration to assist the consecrated virgins. I have been deeply edified by their love of Christ and of the Church.Any assistance which I have given to them has been much exceeded by the prayers which they have unfailingly offered on my behalf.

Since the vocation to consecrated virginity is very little known, I want to describe a bit the vocation and respond to some common questions about it.Also, I look forward to meeting with any consecrated virgins living in the Archdiocese of St. Louis, so that I can may carry out my spiritual responsibilities on their behalf.

Before discussing, in particular, the vocation to consecrated virginity lived in the world, it is important to reflect upon the meaning of vocation.Also, it is important to place the particular vocation to consecrated virginity within the context of the various vocations to which God calls men and women in the Church.

Vocation and vocations

From the moment of our baptism, God has a special plan for each of us.God calls us to life in Christ by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit into our soul, in order that, with Christ, we may offer our whole life in love of Him and our neighbor. At our confirmation, God strengthens and increases the life of the Holy Spirit within us, so that we will have the inspiration and strength to give public witness to Christ in the world.We are called to follow Christ in holiness of life.This is our vocation.We are called to follow Christ as a married person, a dedicated single person, a consecrated person or a member of the clergy: deacon, priest or bishop.These are the vocations by which we respond to our universal vocation to holiness of life.

Whether God calls us to the married life, the dedicated single life, the consecrated life or the ordained ministry, He asks us to make the gift of our whole life.Others see Christ in us, most of all, through our faithful response to our vocation in life.

We say in the Church that our vocation is our way to salvation, and it is true.It is through our vocation that we most fully express our life in Christ and fulfill our part in His mission of salvation.We are called to life in Christ, so that, when we reach adulthood, we may give our lives in response to God’s call.Therefore, it is important that children and young people pray each day to know their vocation in life, and that those of us, who have already responded to God’s call by embracing our vocation, pray each day for the virtues of goodness, fidelity and generosity in living our vocation.

During our childhood and youth, our education in the faith and its practice has as its principal end help for us in hearing God’s call and our preparation to respond with an undivided heart.During our adult years, our study of the faith and its practice assists us in respond to God’s call ever more faithfully and with the most generous heart possible.

Responsibility for vocational discernment

The whole Church has the responsibility to assist children and young people to hear God’s call and to prepare them to respond, and to assist all in the Church to live fully their vocation in life.The bishop as chief shepherd of God’s flock bears an especially weighty responsibility to assist children and young people in the discernment and pursuit of their vocation.
On the 25th anniversary of his election as successor of St. Peter, Pope John Paul II signed the Post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation Pastores Gregis, "On the Bishop, Servant of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the Hope of the World." Pastores Gregis is the fruit of the 10th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which was held in October of 2001.In it, our Holy Father underlines very much the responsibility of the Bishop for the promotion of vocations.He reminds all bishops that they are to foster "a vocational culture" in which young people will come to understand that our entire life is a vocation and that the various vocations are the way in which we live out most fully the one vocation of Christ, in which we have all been given a share (Pastores Gregis, No. 54a).

Our Holy Father instructs bishops to exhort families, parishes and institutions of Catholic education "to assist boys and girls in discovering God’s plan in their lives and in embracing the call to holiness which God from the beginning addresses to each person" (Ibid., No. 54b).The Holy Father goes on to remind bishops that the apostolate of vocations must permeate all pastoral activity.In particular, the bishop is to entrust the vocational apostolate to the priests who are his co-workers and to other members of the faithful "capable of passing on their love for Jesus by their enthusiasm and the example of their lives" (Ibid.).Priests and others who assist the Bishop in the apostolate of vocations are to help children and young people to pray to know their vocation.They are also to accompany patiently the same young people as they strive to know God’s will for them.It is especially important to encourage young people to participate in the Holy Mass as frequently as possible and to confess their sins regularly and receive God’s forgiveness in the Sacrament of Penance. By participation in the Holy Eucharist and by Eucharistic devotion, the young person comes to know his or her own deepest identity in Christ.No prayer to know one’s vocation is more powerful than prayer offered in the presence of our Eucharistic Lord.

Special attention must be given to helping young people know about the vocations to the consecrated life and priesthood, because these calls are difficult to hear in a totally secularized society. Within the apostolate of vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life, there is always to be an emphasis on missionary vocations.In this regard, the bishop is to make certain that the associations of the faithful in the Church "support the pastoral work of promoting vocations in the dioceses and foster an acceptance of all vocations, especially those to the ordained ministry, the consecrated life and missionary work" (Ibid., No. 51c).In the archdiocese, the Serra Club, the Knights of Columbus and other Catholic associations are strongly committed to the vocational apostolate.I am deeply grateful to them.

Office for Vocations and for Consecrated Life

As Archbishop of St. Louis, I fulfill my responsibility for the apostolate of vocations most especially with the help of Office of Vocations and the Office of the Consecrated Life.The steadfast work of both offices underlines the fundamental importance of the vocational apostolate to the life of the whole Church.

The Office of Vocations principally helps me in the promotion of priestly vocations.Under the direction of Father Michael T. Butler, the Office of Vocations is in regular communication with those who have expressed an interest in the priestly vocation and assists our seminarians as they respond to God’s call in their lives.The office also sponsors various activities throughout the year, which help young men to consider God’s call to the priesthood. I refer especially to the Annual Retreat of the Archbishop for young men who are hearing the call to the priesthood; Cardinal Glennon Days, which are held at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary during the month of June for young men of middle-school and high-school age; and other special events. Father Butler is also actively engaged in promoting visits of young men of the archdiocese to Kenrick-Glennon Seminary, our archdiocesan seminary for university studies and theological studies (the last five years of priestly formation). Please contact Father Butler regarding any question which you may have in the matter of the promotion of priestly vocations at (314) 792-6460.

Sister Eva-Maria Ackerman, FSGM, director of the Office of the Consecrated Life, works with Father Butler in promoting vocations to the consecrated life.Various activities are planned, inviting the participation of the different institutes of consecrated life.Events with the participation of the Archbishop are scheduled during the year for young women to raise in their minds the possibility of God’s call to the consecrated life.Please contact Sister Eva-Maria regarding any question you may in the matter of the promotion of vocations to the consecrated life at (314) 792-7250.

Kenrick-Glennon Seminary, under the direction of Msgr. Theodore L. Wojcicki, rector, and Father Timothy P. Cronin, director of Cardinal Glennon College, not only provides appropriate formation and education for seminarians doing university and theological studies.It also serves as a center which young people may visit, either individually or in groups, to seek a deeper understanding of God’s call in their lives. Father Butler will be happy to arrange for visits to Kenrick-Glennon Seminary.

For young women who are hearing the call to the consecrated life, Sister Eva-Maria will be happy to assist them in making visits to the convents of the many religious orders, both contemplative and active, in the Archdiocese of St. Louis and in other parts of our nation.Also, the communities of women religious in the archdiocese sponsor Camp Mater Dei each summer to assist young women during their middle-school and high-school years to consider the vocation to the consecrated life.

Vocations to the consecrated life

The Church distinguishes three states of life: laypersons, consecrated persons and the clergy.Within the states of life, the vocation in life is given by God.The lay faithful are called to the married life or to the dedicated single life.Consecrated persons are called to the monastic life, the eremitic life, consecrated virginity, apostolic religious life, contemplative religious life or consecrated secularity.The clergy are called to the diaconate, priesthood or episcopacy.

The state in life defines the form of the individual Christian life.In that sense, each state in life is founded upon a consecration, the gift of the Holy Spirit who configures the Christian life to Christ.In his Post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation Vita Consecrata, "On the Consecrated Life and Its Mission in the Church and in the World," our Holy Father Pope John Paul II gives the following summary of the distinct form of each state of life in the Church:

"For the mission of the lay faithful, whose proper task is to ‘seek the Kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and by ordering them according to the plan of God,’ the consecration of Baptism and Confirmation is a sufficient foundation. In addition to this basic consecration, ordained ministers receive the consecration of ordination in order to carry out the apostolic ministry in time.Consecrated persons, who embrace the evangelical counsels, receive a new and special consecration which, without being sacramental, commits them to making their own — in chastity, poverty, and obedience — the way of life practiced personally by Jesus and proposed by him to his disciples. Although these different categories are a manifestation of the one mystery of Christ, the lay faithful have as their specific but not exclusive characteristic, activity in the world; the clergy, ministry; consecrated men and women, special conformity to Christ, chaste, poor, and obedient" (No. 31d).

The characteristic of the consecrated life is a closer adherence to Christ, especially in His poverty, chastity and obedience, those virtues which mark most distinctively the way of life to which He calls us and along which He accompanies us.Those who are called to the consecrated life help everyone else in the Church to be true to Christ in living out the demands of their vocations.

Consecrated virginity

The consecrated life is like an orchard in the Church in which grow a variety of beautiful fruit-bearing trees.The most ancient form of the consecrated life is consecrated virginity lived in the world.It existed from the very first years of the Church.Because of the esteem in which consecrated virginity has been held from the beginning, the Church, very early on, developed a proper liturgical rite for the consecration of virgins.After several centuries, it was no longer used, except for religious sisters who wished to be consecrated as virgins.At the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, the Bishops called for the revision of the Rite of Consecration of Virgins (Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, Dec. 4, 1963, No. 80a).

On May 31, 1970, in response to the directive of the council, the Order of Consecration of Virgins was published.The first paragraph of the revised rite expresses the profound meaning of the vocation and the esteem which the Church has for it:

"The custom of consecrating women to a life of virginity flourished even in the early Church.It led to the formation of a solemn rite constituting the candidate a sacred person, a surpassing sign of the Church’s love for Christ, and an eschatological image of the world to come and the glory of the heavenly Bride of Christ. In the rite of consecration the Church reveals its love of virginity, begs God’s grace on those who are consecrated, and prays with fervor for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit" (Introduction, No. 1).

The virgin, once she is consecrated, is constituted a sacred person in the Church.She is a particularly striking sign of the love of the Church, the Bride, for Christ, Her Bridegroom.At the same time, the consecrated virgin is a faithful reminder of the life which is to be ours in the Kingdom of Heaven, life belonging completely to Christ.

The form of life of the consecrated virgin living in the world is a most intimate union with Christ, which is reflected in the ancient title given to the consecrated virgin, "bride of Christ." It is echoed in the beautiful refrain from the Rite of Consecration:

"I am espoused to him whom the angels serve; sun and moon stand in wonder at his glory" (No. 29).
The consecrated virgin offers the gift of her physical virginity to Christ, as a sign of the dedication of her entire being to Him.Through the Rite of Consecration, the Church receives the gift of the virgin and calls down upon her the grace of the Holy Spirit, that she may never fail in her resolve to live in perfect continence for the sake of Christ and His Church.

New flowering of the vocation

In our time, the vocation to consecrated virginity has experienced a new vitality as more and more women have come forward to their diocesan bishop for assistance in understanding and embracing their vocation in life.It is a phenomenon which brings renewed faith, hope and charity to the whole Church.Regarding the new appreciation of consecrated virginity, the Holy Father wrote the following in Vita Consecrata:

"It is a source of joy and hope to witness in our time a new flowering of the ancient Order of Virgins, known in Christian communities ever since apostolic times.Consecrated by the diocesan bishop, these women acquire a particular link with the Church, which they are committed to serve while remaining in the world.Either alone or in association with others, they constitute a special eschatological image of the Heavenly Bride and of the life to come, when the Church will at last fully live her love for the Christ the Bridegroom" (No. 7a).

Through the U.S. Association of Consecrated Virgins, I have come to know some 100 or more consecrated virgins from throughout the United States.There are also a fair number of virgins who do not belong to the association. Each year at the inquirers conference, a number of virgins seek to understand whether God may be calling them to request the consecration.

As in the first centuries of the Church’s life, when the order of virgins had its beginning, so also today the life of consecrated virginity is lived principally in the world.While women religious may also receive the consecration to the life of virginity, their consecration is intimately connected with their religious profession and is lived within the primary call for them, which is to the religious life (Order of Consecration, No. 7).

Consecrated virginity constitutes a distinct and proper vocation which is lived as the primary vocation for the consecrated virgin living in the world.For the consecrated virgin, her closer adherence to Christ is expressed in her day-to-day activities.While some virgins work full-time for the Church, the majority are professional women who profoundly sanctify their secular activities through the grace of the consecration.

The Rite of Consecration

The Rite of Consecration of Virgins Living in the World is ancient and beautiful. The consecration takes place within the celebration of the Holy Mass.The consecration proper takes place after the reading of the Gospel.The bishop calls forward those to be consecrated with the words:

"Come, daughters, that through me, his servant, the Lord may consecrate the resolution you have formed in your hearts" (Order of Consecration, No. 14).

The diocesan bishop who is the proper minister of the Rite of Consecration then gives the homily in which he sets forth the profound meaning of the consecration.

After the homily, the candidates are questioned regarding their resolve and their desire for the consecration.Then the whole congregation sings the Litany of the Saints.The candidate renews her intention "to follow Christ in a life of perfect chastity" (Order of Consecration, No. 22).The bishop then prays the Prayer of Consecration. After the Prayer of Consecration, the bishop presents the consecrated virgin with the signs of her consecration.She may be given a veil, which is a sign of her total espousal to Christ.The veil, if given, is worn during the Rite of Consecration only, much like the veil worn by the bride during the Rite of Marriage.The consecrated virgin is always given the ring which is the sign that she is a bride of Christ.Like the spouse in marriage, she always wears the ring to show that she is espoused to Christ.She is also given the Liturgy of the Hours, the books containing the public and official prayers offered at the various hours of the day by the universal Church for the salvation of the world.The praying of the Liturgy of the Hours by the consecrated virgin is the principal service which she offers to the Church, while remaining in the world.


Next week, I will conclude my presentation of the vocation to consecrated virginity lived in the world, and I will begin a presentation of other forms of consecrated life. May our reflection upon the vocation to the consecrated life, in all its forms, inspire in us a deeper love of Christ and of those whom He calls to follow Him more nearly in the Gospel virtues of poverty, chastity and obedience.

I close with words taken from the Order of Consecration to a Life of Virginity for Women Living in the World, which describe the deep meaning of the call to consecrated virginity and its relationship to the call to the married life:

"Among your many gifts you give some the grace of virginity. Yet the honor of marriage is in no way lessened. As it was in the beginning, your first blessing still remains upon this holy union. Yet your loving wisdom chooses those who make sacrifice of marriage for the sake of the love of which it is the sign.
They renounce the joys of human marriage, but cherish all that it foreshadows" (Order of Consecration, No. 24).

Natural Family Planning: service of life and love


From July 25 to 31, the Catholic Church in the United States has been observing Natural Family Planning Awareness Week, a celebration of great significance for families, for the whole Church and for society, in general.Natural Family Planning Awareness Week is always planned around the anniversary of the publication of Pope Paul VI’s encyclical letter Humanae Vitae (On the Rightly Ordered Propagation of Human Offspring) on July 25, 1968.This year marks the 36th anniversary of the publication of Humanae Vitae.

The family, formed through the marital union, is the first cell of the life of society. It is "the little Church," the Church in the first moment of her life.It is also called the "domestic Church" or the Church in the home, for it is in the family that the faith is first taught. It is in the family that prayer is first offered to God and that the members are led to the bigger family of the parish to offer worship to God. It is also in the family that the Christian virtues are first exemplified and instilled (Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, Nov. 21, 1964, n. 11b).

How evident is the importance of family life to the life of the whole of society and of the Church!Practically, we witness in society today the evil effects of the breakdown of family life.In a society in which an average of 50 percent of marriages end, and sometimes very quickly, in divorce, it is no wonder that there is a parallel and most serious breakdown in the practice of the faith and in civic morality.Of all of the legitimate concerns which are ours in reforming and building up the life of society and of the Church, the concerns regarding the family must rightly receive our first attention.

Second Vatican Ecumenical Council

In its teaching on marriage and family life, the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council called attention to the fundamental and irreplaceable role of the family in the life of each individual, society and the Church.It further noted the positive aspects of family life in the world of today:

"The well-being of the individual person and of both human and Christian society is closely bound up with the healthy state of conjugal and family life.Hence Christians today are overjoyed, and so too are all who esteem conjugal and family life highly, to witness the various ways in which progress is being made in fostering those partnerships of love and in encouraging reverence for human life; there is progress too in services available to married people and parents for fulfilling their lofty calling; ever greater benefits are to be expected and efforts are being made to bring them about" (Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, Gaudium et Spes, Dec. 7, 1965, No. 47a).

Certainly, the Church supports the ways in which society seeks to promote sound and enduring family life.What is more, the Church, faithful teacher of the perennial moral law, makes an invaluable contribution to all of society’s efforts to promote solid family life.

The teaching of the council rightly goes on to note, with deepest concern, the negative aspects of family life in society today:

"However, this happy picture of the dignity of these partnerships is not reflected everywhere, but is overshadowed by polygamy, the plague of divorce, so-called free love and similar blemishes; furthermore, married love is too often dishonored by selfishness, hedonism and unlawful contraceptive practices.Besides, the economic, social, psychological and civil climate of today has a severely disturbing effect on family life.There are also serious and alarming problems arising in many parts of the world as a result of population expansion.On all of these counts an anguish of conscience is being generated" (Ibid, No. 47b).

The writing and publication of Humanae Vitae was, in fact, a response to the concern, expressed at the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, about the dishonor brought to marriage by artificial contraception.In a prophetic way, Pope Paul VI cautioned against the destructive consequences of the use of artificial contraception (Pope Paul VI, Encyclical Letter Humanae Vitae, No. 17).

Church teaching on the conjugal union

Critical to the stability of family life is the right ordering of the sexual union of husband and wife, the full expression of their faithful and lifelong love of each other.Through the sexual union, which has its rightful place solely in marriage and is, therefore, also called the "conjugal union," husband and wife become "one body" (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:5; Ephesians 5:31).Unless the conjugal union is understood in its deepest meaning by a couple, that which, by nature, expresses their vocation to marriage can, in fact, betray their vocation and lead to division between them, and even separation and divorce.On the other hand, when God’s plan for the conjugal union is understood and fully respected by a couple, their bond of marriage grows in beauty and strength.

The Church has the solemn responsibility to teach God’s plan, His moral law, in accord with the mandate which our Lord gave to St. Peter and the other Apostles, when He sent them to preach the Gospel to all the nations (Matthew 28:18-19).Teaching the plan which God has revealed to us includes not only teaching the divine law articulated in the revealed Word of God but also the law which God has written in our nature itself, what we call the natural law (Catechism of the Catholic Church, Nos. 1950-1974).

The Church’s teaching regarding the transmission of human life and the education of human offspring has been constant down the Christian centuries. In fact, until 1930, all of the Christian churches and ecclesial communities shared the Catholic Church’s teaching on the immorality of artificial contraception.In 1930, the Episcopalians, or Anglicans, accepted artificial contraception as moral. Since that time, a number of ecclesial communities have also accepted the morality of artificial contraception.

On July 25, 1968, the perennial teaching of the Church regarding the full meaning of the conjugal union was strikingly presented in Pope Paul VI’s encyclical letter Humanae Vitae. Examining thoroughly all of the reasons given for accepting artificial contraception as moral, Pope Paul VI concluded that the Church cannot change her teaching in the matter without betraying the law of God, written in our very nature and confirmed by the Word of God.

God’s plan for the conjugal union

According to God’s plan, sexual intercourse or the conjugal union has two inseparable meanings.On the one hand, through sexual intercourse, the married couple give themselves fully to each other, affirming the goodness of the other and the full commitment of each partner to the good of the other.On the other hand, by the same act, the couple accept the highest mission possible to mankind, that is, the procreation of offspring, who are "the supreme gift of marriage and greatly contribute to the good of the parents themselves" (Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, Gaudium et Spes, Dec. 7, 1965, No. 50a).

Not every act of conjugal union is, in fact, procreative.God has placed in nature the means by which the conception of new human life is spaced.By coming to a deeper understanding of the natural means of spacing births, husband and wife can cooperate with God and nature in the planning of the birth of their children.In this way, in every act of sexual union, husband and wife will express the full meaning of the act, accepting the life-giving power of the other and being generous in readiness to accept the gift of a new human life.

When, for some natural reason, a couple is unable to conceive their own child, they express the procreative dimension of their conjugal union by their dedication to the care of children and youth, especially those with specials needs, and by their adoption of children whose parents are not or cannot care for them.

The two meanings of the conjugal act are inseparable; they are essentially related to each other.There can be no complete conjugal union, when the fertility or capacity for procreation of the spouse is excluded.At the same time, the procreation of new human life is the proper fruit of the exclusive and indissoluble love of a man and a woman united in marriage.Pope Paul VI wrote:

"Indeed, by its intimate structure, the conjugal act, while closely uniting husband and wife, makes them apt for the generation of new lives, according to laws inscribed in the very being of man and woman.By safeguarding both these essential aspects, the unitive and the procreative, the conjugal act preserves in its fullness the sense of true mutual love and its ordination to man’s most high vocation to parenthood (Humanae Vitae, No. 12b).

It is God’s will that the conjugal act both unites husband and wife in one flesh and, at the same time, makes their love fruitful in the procreation of new human life.We are called to respect God’s plan and cannot presume to rewrite the order which He has placed in our very being.

Confusion in our time

Many of the faithful in our time have become confused regarding the Church’s teaching on artificial contraception.Part of the confusion is caused by the above-mentioned abandonment of the Church’s perennial teaching in the matter by the Episcopalian, or Anglican, and other Christian bodies.Also, the concern about the growing population of the world, to which the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council referred, has led some to the false conclusion that artificial contraception is the answer to the concern.We have seen the same argument used to urge the use of artificial contraception to prevent the conception of children through illicit sexual union, that is outside of the marriage bond, and to prevent the spread of certain dread diseases communicated through the misuse of sexual intercourse.

Also, a false feminism has concluded that a woman must have absolute control over her body and, therefore, must be able to control artificially whether she conceives a child or not.According to this view, artificial contraception is seen as an essential instrument of woman’s freedom.But our nature, including our human body, is God’s gift with its own integrity which must be respected.

Here, one must note that, once we believe that we can separate the unitive and procreative aspects of the conjugal union, the way is opened to a general fear of human life, as if conception were an illness associated with sexual union, and to the taking of other immoral measures to eliminate the procreative meaning of sexual intercourse, for example, contraceptive sterilization and procured abortion.In this line, it should also be noted that some devices and chemicals which are called contraceptive are, in truth, abortifacient, that is they prevent the implantation of the newly conceived human life in the endometrium of the womb and so cause death.

As a result of the strong movement in society to promote contraception and a certain failure in the Church to present clearly and insistently her teaching on the transmission of human life, many Catholics have also been confused and have believed themselves to be morally justified in practicing artificial contraception.As in every matter, we are morally obliged to inform correctly and fully our conscience.Natural Family Planning Awareness Week provides a good occasion to engage in such conscience formation, which touches the very foundations of family life.

Clearly, it is essential that the consciences of children be formed correctly regarding the twofold meaning of sexual union, so that they grow in the virtues of purity, modesty and chastity.Children learn these virtues, most of all, from the example of life of their parents.As Pope Paul VI reminded Christian husbands and wives, the grace of baptism in them has been further defined and strengthened through the grace of matrimony (Humanae Vitae, No. 25b). Therefore, they should never give way to doubt or fear about their ability to fulfill the duties of the their vocation.

Natural Family Planning

Natural Family Planning (NFP) assists couples to be responsible parents by respecting fully God’s plan for the conjugal union.Through NFP, couples come to know more deeply the full meaning of their sexual union and of their mission of procreation.Understanding more fully how God has made them to share with Him in the creation of new human life, they cooperate with their God-given nature to conceive children and to space the conception of their children, so that they may fulfill their responsibilities for the upbringing of the children God gives them.At the foundation of NFP is a generosity of cooperation with God in the conception and birth of children made in His own image and likeness.

NFP contributes significantly to the depth of communication between husband and wife.It should come as no surprise that, in a world with a very high rate of divorce, divorces of couples who follow NFP are very rare, less than 1 percent, according to one scientific study.

Sometimes, it is said that NFP is no different than artificial contraception in that they both have the same end in view.Pope Paul VI responded to this argument in his encyclical letter Humanae Vitae:
"The Church is not inconsistent when she teaches both that it is morally permissible for spouses to have recourse to infertile periods and also that all directly contraceptive practices are morally wrong, even if spouses seem to have good and serious reasons for using them.These two situations are essentially different.In the first, the spouses legitimately use a faculty that is given by nature; in the second case, the spouses impede the order of generation from completing its own natural processes" (No. 16c).

The Holy Father goes on to underline how NFP requires mutual respect and discipline on the part of both spouses, and provides for them the occasion to grow in holiness of life and to witness to God’s plan for procreation.The care required by both partners in following NFP is an unmistakable sign of their self-sacrificing love for one another.It draws them closer to God and closer to one another.


The Archdiocese of St. Louis is blessed to have an outstanding program of education and assistance in NFP, coordinated through the Office of Laity and Family Life, under the direction of Susan Edwards, and developed and presented by K. Diane Daly, RN, CFCE, archdiocesan coordinator.Through their work and the work of many generous couples, the teaching of NFP is available in every part of the archdiocese. I take the occasion to thank Edwards, Daly and all of our teaching couples for their outstanding service of life and love.

May Natural Family Planning Awareness Week be the occasion for all of us to grow in our understanding of God’s plan for the transmission and education of new human life through the love of man and woman in marriage.Let us all pray daily for those whom God has called to the married life, that they will be good, faithful and generous in carrying out the high mission of their vocation of life and love.

Heroic Native American holiness


On this past July 14, the Church in the United States had its annual celebration of the memory of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha. The celebration of the memory of Blessed Kateri is the occasion to reflect with wonder and gratitude at the work of God’s grace among the Native American peoples. The example of her life is an inspiration to us all and especially to young people, for she attained heroic holiness of life by the age of 24.

Blessed Kateri was born in 1656. Her father was a Mohawk chief in the village of Ossernenon on the banks of the Mohawk River in upstate New York.

Tekakwitha is her Native American name; Kateri or Catherine is the name she received at her baptism. Her mother, of the Algonquin tribe, was baptized a Catholic, but her father was not. When Kateri was 4, an epidemic of smallpox struck her village. She lost both of her parents and a baby brother to the dread disease. The disease left her physically weak, with impaired eyesight and a scarred body.

After her parents’ death, Kateri was raised by an aunt and uncle, who were not Christian. Also, there was hostility to the Christian faith among many of her people. Nevertheless, she received the gift of faith and baptism, made her First Holy Communion, and a year before her death made a private vow of chastity, giving her life completely to Christ. She died on April 17, 1680, at the age of 24.

Blessed Kateri and Our Lady of Guadalupe

I begin my reflection upon the life of Blessed Kateri by relating her heroic holiness, as a Native American, to the apparitions of Our Lady of Guadalupe in 1531 to the Native American St. Juan Diego on Tepeyac Hill, now part of Mexico City. The Mother of God showed her great love for the Native American peoples by her apparitions to St. Juan Diego.

On July 31, 2003, I gave a presentation on Our Lady of Guadalupe to the annual meeting of the Tekakwitha Conference. The Tekakwitha Conference, named after Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, was founded for the evangelization of Native Americans, especially through the promotion of the cause of sainthood of Blessed Kateri. The conference requested my presentation because of the most special relationship which Our Lady of Guadalupe has with Native Americans.

Recall that our Blessed Mother appeared on our continent, from Dec. 9-12, 1531, when there was great danger of a bloody conflict between the Native Americans and the Spanish explorers and settlers in what is today Mexico City. The Mother of God appeared to a devout Native American, St. Juan Diego. As a result of the apparitions of the Mother of God, more than 8 million Native Americans were baptized in nine years; the Spanish were led to respect fully the human dignity of the Native Americans; a remarkable harmony of life between the Native Americans and the Spanish was achieved; and the practice of human sacrifice among the Native Americans of that place was ended.

Recall also that Our Lady of Guadalupe miraculously left her image on the tilma or mantle of St. Juan Diego as a sign of her abiding presence with all the nations of the one continent of America. Her features are both Palestinian and mestizo, that is the features of a person of both Native American and European ancestry. Our Lady of Guadalupe is truly an image of the communion of life between Native Americans and the Spanish, which has its origin in Christ, the Son of God and her Son. The remarkable harmony between Native Americans and the Europeans in Mexico, foreshadowed in the face of the Mother of God, continues today. All Mexicans refer to Our Lady of Guadalupe as their mother, and she, as their common mother, draws them together in unity and peace. The harmony in Mexico is an example for all nations, in which peoples of different race and national background live.

The special interest of Native Americans in Our Lady of Guadalupe is most natural and understandable. She reveals in a most striking way the love of God for all the peoples of America, but especially for the Native American peoples. St. Juan Diego, her messenger, is the great sign of God’s love for Native Americans.
In my presentation, I observed that Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, who lived just a century after the apparitions of Our Lady of Guadalupe and more than likely did not know about the apparitions, had a deep sense of the special love of the Mother of God for the Native American peoples. Blessed Kateri was known for her love of praying the holy rosary. Throughout the profound suffering which she experienced in her brief life, she trusted always in the intercession of the Mother of God. There can be no doubt that Our Lady of
Guadalupe, even if she was not known to Blessed Kateri by that title, led her to a deep love of Christ, which was manifested in an extraordinarily holy life.

The early life of Blessed Kateri

As I mentioned above, Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha was born in 1656 in the village of Ossernenon, present-day Auriesville in New York, along the Mohawk River. Just 10 years earlier, from 1642-1646, Ossernenon, or Auriesville, was the site of the martyrdom of the Jesuit missionary Fathers Jean de Brebeuf and Isaac Jogues and their companions, popularly known as the North American Martyrs. Blessed Kateri’s father,

Kenhoronkwa, was a Mohawk chief of the Tortoise Clan. Her mother, Kahenta, was of the Algonquin tribe and had been baptized Catholic, but, after her capture by the Mohawks, was not allowed to practice her Catholic faith. Although she could not practice her Catholic faith, Kahenta sang the hymns, taught the prayers and told the stories, which she had learned from the missionaries, to her daughter Tekakwitha.

When Blessed Kateri was 4 years old, there was an outbreak of smallpox in her village, which took the lives of her parents and of her only sibling, a younger brother. Tekakwitha survived the epidemic but her face remained pockmarked and her eyesight was greatly impaired. After her parents’ death, she was given into the care of her uncle, her father’s brother, who succeeded her father as chief in the village. As she was growing up, she loved to spend time alone in prayer, seeking the solitude of the surrounding wilderness.

As Kateri reached adulthood, the women of the village sought to arrange her marriage. Even though she was disfigured by the smallpox, she was the daughter of a chief and, therefore, desired for marriage. She adamantly refused marriage and, thereafter, was scorned by the women of the village, who assigned the most demeaning chores to her.

Kateri’s baptism and holiness of life

In 1667, three Jesuit priests came to her village and, because of a peace treaty signed by the Mohawk chiefs, were received into the very lodge of the chief,
Tekakwitha’s home. Blessed Kateri had heard about the missionaries from her mother. She had a certain knowledge of the Catholic faith and was in the habit of saying prayers and singing hymns which she had learned from her mother. But she lacked a full instruction in the faith and, most of all, she lacked baptism, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit into her life.

Eventually, Father Jacques de Lamberville came to her village, learned of Blessed Kateri’s background, and, at her request, gave her full instructions in the Catholic faith.

Tekakwitha was baptized on Easter Sunday of 1676 at the age of 20, and was given the Christian name, Catherine or Kateri. Her patron saint was Catherine of Siena, whom she strove to imitate with all her might.

She enjoyed a spotless reputation and was known especially for spending long hours in prayer. She would go into the woods, make a cross from the branches she found and then kneel down to pray. One of her favorite prayers was the rosary. In her devotion, she showed the strong connection between meditating upon the Passion of our Lord before the cross and praying the rosary, calling to mind the mysteries of God’s love for us in the life of our Lord and His Blessed Mother, which mysteries have their fullness in our Lord’s passion, death and resurrection.

Kateri became the Lily of the Mohawks and the Mystic of the Wilderness, as she is popularly known by us.

Because of her fidelity, she suffered greatly at the hands of her fellow villagers who mocked her and called her cruel names. Because of her observance of the Sundays and holy days of obligation, her own family even refused her food.

Through the care of Father de Lamberville, Blessed Kateri was taken to the St. Francis Xavier Mission at Sault St. Louis. One day, when an Oneida chief who had converted to Catholicism and a relative of Blessed Kateri’s mother were visiting her village, the good priest convinced them to take her back with them to the mission where she could live her Catholic faith in peace and grow in the holiness of life, which she had already so strongly manifested.

It is not difficult to imagine how happy Kateri was at the mission. She lived with a devout Catholic woman, Anastasia Tegonhatsiongo, who had known her mother before her capture by the Mohawks. Kateri participated in daily Mass, spent long hours in prayer, and carried out many acts of penance in reparation for her sins and the sins of her people. On Christmas Day of 1677, she made her First Holy Communion.

Blessed Kateri came to know about the life of women religious and, when her request to join or form a religious community was refused, she asked to make a vow of perpetual virginity. On the Feast of the Annunciation in 1679, Blessed Kateri consecrated her virginity to Christ and the Church.

By 1680, Blessed Kateri, always of delicate health, had become critically ill. Having received the Anointing of the Sick and Viaticum, she died on April 17, 1680, with the names of our Lord Jesus and His Mother on her lips. Her last words were: "Jesus, I love You." She was only 24 years of age.

Signs of heroic holiness

After the body of Blessed Kateri was placed on a pallet in preparation for burial, her fellow Christians witnessed an extraordinary sign of her holiness of life. The pockmarks from smallpox disappeared from her face, and her skin became radiant and white, that of a beautiful young maiden.

Another sign followed soon thereafter. Her spiritual mother, Anastasia Tegonhatsiongo, was absent from the village at her death and mourned very much the loss of her beloved Kateri. Just one week after her death, Blessed Kateri appeared to Anastasia. Blessed Kateri was radiant and was holding an even more radiant cross. Kateri spoke these words: "Mother, behold this cross. How beautiful it is! It was the source of all my happiness during my life, and I counsel you to make it yours, too." Her apparition to her spiritual mother is a striking example of the importance of our devotional life to our eternal happiness. It is precisely the devotion of Blessed Kateri to the passion of our Lord, manifested in her early and simple practice of praying in the wilderness before a cross of her own making, which led her to an ever deeper love of Christ and service of Christ through prayer and many good works. There are many more stories of favors granted through the intercession of Blessed Kateri.

Kateri was declared venerable on Jan. 3, 1943, by Pope Pius XII. Pope John Paul II beatified her on June 22, 1980. Please, pray that she will soon be canonized.

Conclusion: Kateri Circle

The Tekakwitha Conference carries out its work of evangelization in our nation through the formation of Kateri Circles. The Kateri Circles meet regularly, promote knowledge of the life of Blessed Kateri and the imitation of her holiness of life. The Kateri Circles pray especially for the canonization of Blessed Kateri. The highlight of each year’s activities is the solemn celebration of the Mass of Blessed Kateri on her feast day, July 14.

I invite all Native American Catholics of the archdiocese to become members of a Kateri Circle. Catholics who are not Native American also may join the Kateri Circle as a means of growing in imitation of her virtues. If you would like to become part of a Kateri Circle, please contact me, and I will send you information.

I invite all the faithful of the archdiocese to come to know the life of Blessed Kateri and to imitate her virtues, especially her devotion to the passion of our Lord and her faithful praying of the rosary. In a special way, I present Blessed Kateri to the youth of our archdiocese. In her life, we see how God calls young people to heroic holiness of life. Sharing with young people all of their doubts and struggles, she is a powerful example and intercessor for them.

Please write to me, and I will be happy to send you the prayer for the canonization of Blessed Kateri. If you have special intentions to confide to the intercession of Blessed Kateri, the prayer card will help you in doing so.

If you would like to read more about the life of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, a fine biography by Margaret R. Bunson was published in 1992. The biography is titled: "Kateri Tekakwitha: Mystic of the Wilderness." It is available through the publications office of Our Sunday Visitor.

Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha is a sterling example for us in the work of the new evangelization. She, with Our Lady of Guadalupe, prays for us in carrying out the new evangelization of our society and culture.

O God, who, among the many marvels of Your Grace in the New World, did cause to blossom on the banks of the Mohawk and of the St. Lawrence, the pure and tender Lily, Kateri Tekakwitha, grant we beseech You, the favor we beg through her intercession: that this Young Lover of Jesus and of His Cross may soon be counted among the saints by Holy Mother Church, and that our hearts may be enkindled with a stronger desire to imitate her innocence and faith. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

Of the pallium, Pando and the Archdiocesan Development Appeal

The Pallium

On Tuesday, June 29, the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles, His Holiness Pope John Paul II imposed the pallium upon me.The pallium is the official vestment of the metropolitan archbishop. A metropolitan archbishop has the pastoral care of an archdiocese or metropolitan see. In the universal Church, the individual dioceses in a geographical area are gathered into provinces.In each province, one of the dioceses is the archdiocese or metropolitan see.While each bishop cares for his diocese in a direct relationship to our Holy Father, the archbishop fosters the unity and mutual care among the bishops within the province and leads the appropriate coordination of pastoral activities in the dioceses of the province.

In his Post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation Pastores Gregis, "On the Bishop, Servant of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the Hope of the World," our Holy Father observes the following about the organization of the Church into provinces:

"One concrete way of fostering communion between the bishops and solidarity between Churches is to restore vitality to the ancient institution of ecclesiastical provinces, in which the metropolitan is an instrument and sign both of fraternity between the bishops of the province and of their communion with the Roman Pontiff.Given the similarity of the problems encountered by individual bishops and the fact that their limited number can enable greater understanding, common pastoral undertakings will certainly be better planned in meetings of bishops from the same province and especially in provincial councils" (No. 62a).

Meeting as a province, bishops are able to encourage one another, and cooperate with each other in addressing common pastoral challenges.

The Archdiocese of St. Louis is the metropolitan see for the Province of St. Louis, which encompasses the geographical territory of the state of Missouri.The other dioceses within the province, which are called suffragan sees, are the Diocese of Jefferson City, the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph and the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau.

The pallium, the proper vestment of the metropolitan archbishop, is a kind of collar or yoke which rests upon the shoulders.It is a circular band, about two inches wide and is made of white wool.It is worn over the chasuble. It has two pendants, one which hangs in front and one which hangs in back.It is adorned with six black crosses: a cross on the front and the back, one each of the sides and one on each of the pendants.

The pallium is made from the wool of two lambs which are given each year to the Holy Father on Jan. 21, the feast of St. Agnes. They are presented at the celebration of the Mass in the Basilica of St. Agnes on the Via Nomentana in Rome.After the Mass, religious sisters care for them.Eventually, the sisters have them shorn and make the palliums from their wool.The Holy Father blesses the palliums on the eve of the solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, and they are kept in a silver case, enclosed in a cabinet near the tomb of St. Peter in St. Peter’s Basilica.During the Mass on the solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, the palliums are brought from the tomb of St. Peter to be conferred upon the new metropolitan archbishops.If an archbishop is unable to travel to Rome for the Mass on the solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, the Holy Father may grant permission for the pallium to be conferred in the archbishop’s see.

The pallium is a symbol of the close union of all the bishops in each province throughout the world with the See of St. Peter.The pallium signifies the special responsibility of the metropolitan archbishop to foster the communion with the Roman Pontiff among all of the bishops in the province. Once the pallium has been received, it is worn over the chasuble within the territory of the archbishop’s jurisdiction or province, whenever he is celebrating a stational or, at least, a Mass with special solemnity and when he carries out ordinations, blessings of abbots and abbesses, the consecrations of virgins and the dedication of a church and altar.Connected with the pallium is the archepiscopal cross which is used when the archbishops arrives at a church for the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy.

The pallium may not be lent to another archbishop.It is to be buried with the archbishop. If he has been archbishop of more than one metropolitan see, like our former archbishop, Cardinal Justin Rigali, then the pallium of the see of which he is archbishop at death is placed over his shoulders in the usual manner and the other pallium or palliums are folded and placed under his head in the coffin.

The prayer which is said, when the pallium is conferred by a delegate of the Holy Father, expresses all of the beauty of the symbolism of the vestment:

"To the glory of almighty God
and to the praise of blessed Mary every Virgin
and the blessed Apostles Peter and Paul,
in the name of the Roman Pontiff, Pope John
Paul II, and of the Holy Roman Church,
for the honor of the See of St. Louis, confided
to you,
in the sign of the metropolitan power,
we hand over to you the pallium taken from
tomb of St. Peter,
in order that you may use it within the limits of
your ecclesiastical province.

May this pallium be for you the symbol of
and the sign of communion with the Apostolic
may it be a bond of charity and an incentive to
so that, on the day of the coming and revelation
of the great God,
and Prince of Shepherds, Jesus Christ,
you, with the flock entrusted to you, may attain
the stole of immortality and glory.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son and
of the Holy Spirit.
Amen" (Ceremonial of Bishops, n. 1154).

Please pray for me that the pallium I receive may always rest on shoulders which are worthy and that I may faithfully be a servant of the unity of the Church in the Province of St. Louis with the See of St. Peter.

Be assured that all of the faithful of the Archdiocese of St. Louis will be in my prayers throughout the days of pilgrimage to Rome and Assisi and, most especially, during the Mass for the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, celebrated by our Holy Father Pope John Paul II, the Successor of St. Peter.The whole of the archdiocese will be represented by the pilgrims who will be accompanying me to receive the pallium.

The Apostolic Vicariate of Pando

On June 24, the solemnity of the birth of St. John the Baptist, I had the pleasure of a visit from Bishop Luis Morgan Casey, Titular Bishop of Mibiarca and the Vicar Apostolic of Pando in Bolivia.Bishop Casey is a priest of the Archdiocese of St. Louis who grew up in St. James Parish at Potosi.He was ordained a priest in 1962. After three years of parish ministry in the archdiocese, he was sent to our archdiocesan mission in Bolivia.Since that time, he has remained a missionary priest and bishop in Bolivia. He was consecrated a bishop on Jan. 28, 1984.

Bishop Casey has the jurisdiction of an apostolic vicariate, a certain territory of the Church which is on the way to becoming a diocese. His apostolic vicariate of Pando is in the jungle area of Bolivia and comprises 86,261 square kilometers. The Code of Canon Law describes an apostolic vicariate with these words:
"An apostolic vicariate or apostolic prefecture is a certain portion of the people of God which has not yet been erected as a diocese by the Supreme Pontiff due to special circumstances and which, to be shepherded, is entrusted to an apostolic vicar or apostolic prefect who governs it in the name of the Supreme Pontiff" (Canon 371, No. 1).

Bishop Casey has some 142,000 faithful in his care, and is assisted by 15 priests: nine diocesan priests and six religious order priests.Given the immense territory of the Apostolic Vicariate of Pando and the very difficult traveling conditions, you can imagine some of the hardships which the Bishop faces in serving the faithful entrusted to his care.

Bishop Casey has many active members of the lay faithful, who help to build up the various communities throughout the Apostolic Vicariatae. He was also pleased to tell me about their very fruitful program for the promotion of vocations.

Notwithstanding the difficult circumstances of his episcopal ministry, Bishop Casey is filled with hope and confidence. It is most edifying to visit with him speak about his pastoral care.He is a true shepherd to the flock in Pando.

Clearly, there are many needs in the carrying out of the pastoral ministry in the Apostolic Vicariate of Pando.I am pleased that the Archdiocese of St. Louis, through its missionary works, provides for Bishop Casey’s compensation and health care.Also, the faithful of the archdiocese are able to help him in his work by making contributions to the Apostolic Vicariate of Pando through the Archdiocesan Office of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith.Certainly, I encourage the faithful of the archdiocese to support Bishop Casey with your prayers and financial offerings.

Bishop Casey and I were discussing the need of more priests to help him in his extensive and challenging pastoral responsibilities.At present, the Archdiocese of St. Louis finds itself ever more constrained in the appointments of priests because of the fewer number of priests ordained in recent years. In order that our younger priests may get to know better the work of our missions in Bolivia, I want to arrange a meeting for them with Bishop Casey when he next visits St. Louis.It is important that our younger priests who do not know Bishop Casey from his time in the archdiocese have the opportunity to meet him and speak with him.I am confident that one or another young priest will be inspired to ask to serve in the missions.

My visit with Bishop Casey filled me with special pride in the Archdiocese of St. Louis, which has given such a fine priest and bishop in the service of the missions and has faithfully supported.Once again, I urge you to pray for Bishop Casey and his flock of the Apostolic Vicariate of Pando, and to support his work financially through the Archdiocesan Office of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith.

Archdiocesan Development Appeal

In April, I wrote to every Catholic home in the archdiocese to ask for a sacrificial gift to the Archdiocesan Development Appeal which supports the many charitable, educational and missionary works carried out by the Church in the Archdiocese of St. Louis.In these coming weeks, we will bring to a conclusion this year’s Appeal.

In order to meet the needs of the Church in the Archdiocese, the goal of this year’s appeal was set at $11.6 million.At the present, we have raised $10.7 million.It is key that we reach the goal of the Appeal, so that our programs of education of children, of care of the homeless and the many other programs supported by the Appeal are able to continue and to serve our brothers and sisters in the Church, who are most in need.

As we approach the closing weeks of this year’s Appeal, I need your help.I ask that, if you have not yet given a sacrificial gift to the Appeal, you do so now. I am happy to report to you that many faithful, who have not given in the past, have made a generous gift this year.

Also, be assured that many of our young families, with children in our Catholic schools, have joined the ranks of the generous stewards of the archdiocese. Because of the generosity of so many over the years, I am confident that we will reach our goal.

If you have not given to the Archdiocesan Development Appeal for this year, please make a gift now.By your gift, you will strengthen our schools, our charitable works and social service agencies, and our parishes.Your pledge will insure that our seminarians, our future priests, have an adequate education and formation to equip them to meet the challenges in the priestly ministry in our times.Your gift will also help provide for the retirement needs of our priests, and equip us to care for immigrants and refugees, so that they find a welcoming home in the Archdiocese of St. Louis.Your sacrificial gift will help to protect the unborn from the attack of procured abortion and it will provide much needed funds for programs for couples preparing for marriage and are seeking the grace needed to build a happy and healthy home life.

During the coming time, I will be sending reminders to those who have not yet made a pledge.If you have not made a pledge, I ask you please to respond generously to my letter.Please join the thousands of faithful in the archdiocese who have already made a sacrificial gift to the appeal.Please be one with the whole Catholic community in our archdiocese as we seek to serve, in the name of Christ, both our brothers and sisters within the Church and persons of other faiths, who need our assistance.

We do not want to be like the rich man in the parable of Lazarus and Dives, who ignored the hunger of the poor Lazarus.Nor do we want to be like the priest and Levite in the Parable of the Good Shepherd, who saw a brother in desperate need and passed by him without giving him help.Let us, rather, follow the example of the Good Samaritan who provided care for his brother in need, even though he was from a different and even enemy nation. Let us give from our substance to love our brothers and sisters as Christ loves them.

Please be one with me and all the faithful in the archdiocese in meeting the goal of our Archdiocesan Development Appeal.I thank you for your faithful and generous practice of Christian stewardship.I thank you, in particular, for your help in meeting the needs of the Church in the archdiocese through a sacrificial gift to the Appeal.


The above reflections fill me with gratitude to God for the many, truly incalculable, ways in which He blesses us each day.They fill me with new enthusiasm and new energy to carry out the mission which He has entrusted to me and which is symbolized by the pallium. They also remind me of how much we depend upon one another in the Church, in order that the universal Church respond faithfully to the call of Christ Who dwells within us through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

I thank God for calling me to St. Louis to serve as your Archbishop.I thank God for all you do to assist me in carrying out my responsibilities as the shepherd of the flock here, after the Heart of Christ. Finally, I pray for you and I ask your prayers for me, that the Church in the Archdiocese of St. Louis will be always a faithful bride of our beloved Bridegroom, Christ, generous in love of Him and of the members of His mystical Body, both near to us and in every place in the world.May our generous love of Christ and our service of Him obtain for us "the stole of immortality and glory."

Finally, do not forget to pray for our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, who expresses his love for us all in the Archdiocese of St. Louis through the imposition of the pallium upon me, your new Archbishop.May God conserve him in wisdom and strength for his pastoral care of the Church throughout the world.

O Sacred Heart of Jesus, of whose fullness we have all received, have mercy on us.

Amendment No. 2 and safeguarding the sanctity of marriage

On June 28, the Missouri Catholic Conference published a letter written by the bishops of the Province of St. Louis, which is made up of the state of Missouri. The letter is addressed to all of the faithful of the province regarding an action of the legislature of Missouri.The action in question has profound implications for the future of marriage and family life.

The legislative branch of the state government has decided to place before the citizens of Missouri a serious question about the requirements for a "valid and recognized marriage."On Tuesday, Aug. 3, the citizens of Missouri will decide whether to amend the Missouri Constitution, in what pertains to marriage.The question posed to us on the ballot will be: "Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended so that to be valid and recognized in this state, a marriage shall exist only between a man and a woman?"So serious a matter demands the attention of us all.For that reason, the bishops of the Province have deemed it important to write to you in the matter.

The letter of the bishops of the St. Louis Province, together with a helpful document prepared by the Missouri Catholic Conference, "Questions and Answers on Proposed Marriage Amendment" (see page 1) will be distributed in the parishes of the archdiocese on this coming weekend, July 17-18, in order that you have sufficient time to consider both documents. If you have need of a copy of these documents, please do not hesitate to request a copy from my office.

Duty to vote

Before addressing the substance of the question, I urge you to exercise your right and fulfill your duty to vote on Aug. 3.We can have various reasons for excusing ourselves from voting.We need to consider carefully the validity of these excuses, in the light of our moral duty to serve the good of our brothers and sisters through responsible citizenship.

Some think that their individual vote does not matter within so large a voting population.The truth, however, is that every vote counts.Failing to vote means failing to do my part in promoting the common good.How many elections and referenda have been decided as much by those who have failed to vote as by those who have voted?The responsibility for the outcome of elections and referenda falls upon all of the citizens of a democratic republic.We cannot excuse ourselves for failing to fulfill our responsibility because we are falsely convinced that our vote does not count.

Regarding the question at hand, some say that the right response to the question is clear and, therefore, will surely be sustained by those who do vote, thereby excusing themselves from the bother of going to the polls. The right response should be clear to us as Catholics, but we must realize that the question would be not be presented to us, if there were not some, including Catholics, who are confused in the matter.It is our responsibility as Catholics to fulfill our responsibility to vote, in accord with the moral law.In other words, if we do not exercise our right to vote for an amendment to the Constitution, which upholds the moral law, then we fail to safeguard the good of the individuals and families of the state of Missouri.

I urge you to make every effort to vote on Aug. 3.Also, please encourage family, friends, neighbors and co-workers to exercise their right to vote on so important a question for us all.If you know of persons who find difficulty in getting to the polls, for whatever reason, I ask you to offer them assistance, so that they, too, can exercise fully their civic responsibility.

Sanctity of marriage

The truth regarding marriage is written in human nature as it issued from the hand of God at Creation.From the study of human nature, it is clear that God has made man and woman for each other, in order to provide for them a faithful and lasting relationship of love and to provide for the procreation, that is creation with Him, of offspring.By marriage, a man and a woman promise faithful and enduring love, giving to each other, exclusively and for life, the right to the conjugal act by which married love is blessed with its highest fruit, the conception of a child.

Marriage is not an institution which was established by society or culture.Rather, it is inherent to our human nature and is found in all societies and cultures.Down the centuries, marriage has undergone changes in certain societies and cultures.The goodness of these changes depends upon the fidelity of the society or culture to the natural moral law, which reveals to us the essential requirements of marriage.The "Catechism of the Catholic Church," in setting forth the Church’s teaching on marriage, first acknowledges the teaching on marriage, which human nature itself provides:

The vocation to marriage is written in the very nature of man and woman as they came from the hand of the Creator.Marriage is not a purely human institution despite the many variations it may have undergone through the centuries in different cultures, social structures and spiritual attitudes.These differences should not cause us to forget its common and permanent characteristics. Although the dignity of this institution is not transparent everywhere with the same clarity, some sense of the greatness of the matrimonial union exists in all cultures (No. 1603).

The Second Vatican Ecumenical Council provides a most helpful presentation of natural law regarding marriage (Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, Gaudium et Spes, Nos. 47-52).It articulates more fully what the "Catechism of the Catholic Church" states in summary form.

The natural law regarding marriage is also revealed in the Sacred Scriptures.In the two accounts of Creation, given in the Book of Genesis, the essential characteristics of marriage, revealed in the natural order, are presented (Genesis 1:1-2:4a; and Genesis 2:4b-25).God creates man in His own image and likeness as male and female.He creates man and woman to be suitable partners for one another.So intimate is the relationship of male and female in the creation of man, that woman is formed from the very rib of man. Male and female are so created that a man and a woman leave their own families, in order to form a new family, to become "one body" with each other. God gives to the union of male and female in marriage, to the "one body," the grace of fruitfulness. The fruitfulness of the new home, the new family, formed by marriage is expressed either in the procreation of offspring through the conjugal act or in the adoption of children into the family.

The good of the whole of society depends upon fidelity to nature’s requirements for marriage.The teaching of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council aptly reminds us:

"The well-being of the individual person and of both human and Christian society is closely bound up with the healthy state of conjugal and family life" (Gaudium et Spes, No. 47a).

Reflecting upon our own experience, we know the critical importance of the relationship of father and mother to the growth and development of the child.At the same time, we recognize how much the state of society depends upon the soundness of life in individual families.The most important lessons of life are learned in the relationship of the child to father and mother, in the child’s experience of their relationship as husband and wife.Lack of harmony and violence in the marital relationship lie at the root of so many ills in society.

For us, as Catholics, the sanctity of marriage is seen, above all, in the teaching of our Lord, recorded for us in the Gospel and handed down to us in the Magisterium of the Church.Christ taught the original plan for marriage and, with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Easter and Pentecost — the great fruit of His Passion, Death and Resurrection — He gave to married persons the gift to live in relationship to one another, as God intends.Christ instituted the Sacrament of Marriage, making Himself the source of the grace of the Holy Spirit for the married, so that they may live in faithful, enduring and procreative love of each other, and so attain eternal life (Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 1642).

Respect for the sanctity of marriage requires that we do all within our power to safeguard its essential elements, so that marriage can serve the good of all in society, as it alone can. Respect for the sanctity of marriage means the recognition of God’s plan for marriage and the rejection of any intervention by ourselves which violates God’s plan.

Marriage and same-sex attraction

The present need to define clearly the nature of marriage arises from the efforts of persons with same-sex attraction and others, who wish to have same-sex relationships recognized as marital.In other words, they wish civil authority to recognize as marriage the relationship of a man and a man, or a woman and a woman.To do so would be to treat marriage as an institution created by man, instead of God, and to violate what nature itself teaches us about the marital relationship.

Same-sex attraction, that is "an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex" may have various causes, but it cannot be attributed to God’s plan for man and woman, as it is clearly revealed in their bodies and in the Sacred Scriptures (Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 2357). Persons suffering from same-sex attraction are endowed with the same dignity as every man and woman, and, therefore, "must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 2358).But, accepting each other with respect does not mean failing to recognize our disordered tendencies and defects.

Respecting individuals who suffer same-sex attraction means honoring their call to lead a chaste life, a call which is inherent in our dignity as sons and daughters of God.It would be wrong, on our part as individuals and on the part of society, to give institutional recognition to same-sex relationships by giving them the status of the marital relationship.Rather, we, as individuals, and society, in general, should assist persons with same-sex attraction to lead a good and chaste life by recognizing their same-sex attraction as disordered and disciplining it, so that the inclination does not express itself in immoral actions and the affections of the individual are purified and express themselves in good and chaste friendships.

The protection of the institution of marriage by means of a constitutional amendment is not discriminatory toward persons with same-sex attraction. It does not offend their dignity or foster any unjust attitude or action toward them.It simply provides assurance that all in society will respect the true nature of marriage as the foundation of the life of the family, of society and of the Church.As Catholics, we must respect the moral law in all of its dictates, opposing homosexual acts and opposing any unjust attitude, word or action directed toward persons suffering with same-sex attraction.

There is a tendency to accept same-sex relationships because we do not want to deal with the embarrassment and hurt of recognizing same-sex attraction as disordered.We find various excuses for failing to address a matter which lies at the foundation of our nature as man and woman.As with any anomaly or affliction in life, our human weakness leads us to pretend that it does not exist or to act as if it were other than a difficulty.By giving in to the tendency or temptation to treat same-sex attraction as equivalent to the attraction of man to woman and woman to man, we serve neither the good of persons who struggle with same-sex attraction nor the good of the family and of society.The fact that our American culture more and more fails to make any distinction between same-sex attraction and heterosexual attraction does not justify our failure to make the distinction, respecting God’s gift of human life in its integrity and helping others to attain the perfection to which we are called as true children of God.

Necessity of constitutional amendment

The Missouri General Assembly has already safeguarded the nature of marriage by the state law which declares that marriage can only be between a man and a woman.Some have asked why, then, is it necessary to have a constitutional amendment treating the exact same matter.

Constitutional Amendment No. 2 is needed in order to provide the fullest legal safeguard of the sanctity of marriage. The constitutional amendment safeguards marriage against the action of the courts which could declare the current state law to be unconstitutional, as has happened already in Massachusetts.

The extent of the confusion in society regarding the nature of marriage is reflected in court decisions which have given way to the celebration of so-called marriage between persons of the same sex.It behooves society to safeguard marriage from such court actions.

In a similar vein, some hold the constitutional amendment as unnecessary and oppose it on the grounds that permitting others to have their same-sex relationships recognized as marriage by the civil law does no harm to their marriages between a man and a woman.To reason thus is to refuse to deal with the need to safeguard the integrity of marriage, which most certainly is violated by giving the name of marriage to non-marital unions.The detrimental effects upon individuals and society, in general, of the institutional violation of the nature of marriage are clear.


Once again, I urge you to fulfill your civic responsibility on Aug. 3. Please vote in favor of Constitutional Amendment No. 2, so the institution of marriage may be safeguarded in its integrity. Also, please encourage and assist others to vote.The good of individuals and of society depends upon our safeguarding the sanctity of marriage as it has been given to us by God.

Please pray, especially through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph, her most chaste spouse, that the citizens of Missouri will provide for the greatest possible safeguard of the sanctity of marriage.

I close with words from the teaching of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, which, I hope, will inspire us all to work for the good of marriage and the family, also by voting on Aug. 3:

"The family is the place where different generations come together and help one another to grow wiser and harmonize the rights of individuals with other demands of social life; as such it constitutes the basis of society. Everyone, therefore, who exercises an influence in the community and in social groups should devote himself effectively to the welfare of marriage and the family.Civil authority should consider it a sacred duty to acknowledge the true nature of marriage and the family, to protect and foster them, to safeguard public morality and promote domestic prosperity.The rights of parents to procreate and educate children in the family must be safeguarded.There should also be welfare legislation and provision of various kinds made for the protection and assistance of those who unfortunately have been deprived of the benefits of family life" (Gaudium et Spes, No. 52b).

May this solemn teaching of the Church inspire us with new hope in our every effort to promote marriage and family life in our society.

Sacred Heart of Jesus, wellspring of all virtues, have mercy on us.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, mother of America and star of the new evangelization, pray for us.

St. Joseph, husband of Mary and guardian of the Holy Family, pray for us.

To the See of Peter


On Friday, June 25, I will depart from St. Louis on pilgrimage to Rome for the reception of the pallium. Several priests and some 115 other faithful of the archdiocese will accompany me on the pilgrimage. Also, a pilgrim group of about 45 priests and faithful from the Diocese of La Crosse, in which I formally served as bishop, will be journeying to Rome. Our pilgrimage will include the celebration of the holy Mass at the four patriarchal basilicas in Rome — the Basilica of St. Peter in the Vatican; the Basilica of St. Mary Major; the Basilica of St. John Lateran, which is the cathedral of the Diocese of Rome; and the Basilica of St. Paul-outside-the-Walls; and at the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi. It will also include a visit, with prayer, to the Catacombs of St. Callixtus on the Ancient Appian Way.

The high point of our pilgrimage will be participation in the Mass celebrated by our Holy Father on Tuesday, June 29, the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, during which His Holiness will confer the pallium upon me as Archbishop of St. Louis. Some 44 other metropolitan archbishops from around the world also will be receiving the pallium.

It is always a singular privilege to assist at the Mass of the Holy Father on the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, for he is the Successor of St. Peter in an unbroken line from Christ’s choice of Peter to be head of the Apostles. It is a special gift from God to celebrate the memory of St. Peter, head of the Apostles, by participating in the Holy Mass offered by St. Peter’s successor.

The conferral of the pallium, worn only by metropolitan archbishops, fittingly takes place during the celebration of the Mass for the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, for it is the Holy Father alone who confers the pallium as a sign of the close union of the Holy Father with all the metropolitan archbishops from throughout the world.

Once a metropolitan archbishop has been named, he travels to Rome on pilgrimage for the celebration of the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, to receive the vestment which is the sign of his office in the Church.
In preparation for the celebration of the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul and for the reception of the pallium, let us take time this week to reflect on the service of our Holy Father as Successor of St. Peter. Then, in my column for next week, we will reflect upon the significance of the pallium and the particular service of the metropolitan archbishop in communion with the Roman pontiff, the successor of St. Peter.

To understand deeply the office and service of St. Peter within the group or college of the Apostles, it is important to study three texts from the Gospels. They uncover for us the intention of our Lord in constituting the Church under the universal pastoral care and governance of St. Peter, His Vicar on earth.

‘You are Peter’

The first text is from the Gospel according to Matthew and recounts the clear and striking profession of faith in our Lord, which St. Peter made at Caesarea Philippi (Matthew 16:13-20). It is a text which reflects very much the Aramaic language and the manner of speaking employed at the time of Christ. Therefore, it is held to be a text which the Apostles and disciples who were with our Lord had repeated from memory from the first days of the Church.

In the text, our Lord asked His disciples about the people’s opinion concerning His identity. The disciples began to report various opinions: "Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets" (Matthew 16:14). Our Lord, then, inquired about the disciples’ own opinion regarding His identity. Without hesitation, Simon Peter replied: "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matthew 16:16).

Christ replies to Peter’s clear profession of faith with words which indicate Peter’s distinct mission in the Church:

"And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven" (Matthew 16:18-19).

First of all, our Lord changes Simon’s name to Peter or "Rock," a name attributed only to God by the people at the time. Peter is the only apostle to have his name changed, and it is changed to reflect a particular mission of stable and sure leadership within the college of the 12, given to Peter by Christ.

Because of Peter’s profession of faith, Christ established him as the solid foundation upon which to build up His Church. How is Peter the solid foundation? By his leadership, his teaching, his celebration of the sacraments and promotion of the life of prayer, and by his governance of the Body of Christ. St. Peter was given the task of providing for the whole community, throughout the world. He was called to be the principle of unity and steadfastness of faith among all of the disciples.

Christ gave Peter "the keys of the kingdom of heaven," a sign that he is the Vicar of Christ on earth, the faithful steward of the manifold gifts of Christ to the Church. Since "the keys" were confided to Peter alone, we understand that our Lord conferred upon Peter a particular authority within the whole company of the Apostles. Christ gave Peter the office of determining what the faithful were to believe and how they were to comport themselves as members of the Mystical Body.

Closely connected to the power of the keys is the authority to bind and loose. In one aspect, the power of binding and loosing, distinct from the power of the keys, is shared by all of the Apostles. By God’s grace, through the instrumentality of St. Peter and all of the Apostles, God forgives our sins. In another aspect, the power belongs to Peter alone as head of the Apostles. Only Peter and his successors can give disciplinary rules which bind all and can make authoritative decisions regarding the deposit of faith. It is through Peter and his successors that bishops, successors of the Apostles, receive the jurisdiction over the many portions of the flock of Christ throughout the world.

The story of St. Peter’s profession of faith in Christ as the Messiah, the Savior of the world, uncovers for us the distinct dignity and responsibility of St. Peter as Vicar of Christ on earth. As keeper of the keys of the kingdom of heaven, St. Peter and his successors bind and loose in a proper sense; the successor of St. Peter proclaims the doctrine of faith and provides the rules of discipline for the universal Church.

‘Strengthen your brethren’

The second text is from the Gospel according to Luke and recalls words of our Lord to St. Peter at the Last Supper. At the conclusion of the Last Supper, a dispute arose among the Apostles about "which of them was to be regarded as the greatest" (Luke 22:24). In response, our Lord teaches them that greatness is measured by humble service; the leader, He tells them, is the one who serves.

Facing His cruel Passion and death, our Lord confided to His Apostles that they would suffer greatly in carrying out the apostolic mission. Referring to all of the Apostles, He tells Peter: "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat" (Luke 22:31). The image of sifting like wheat portrays the confusion and testing which Satan was to work on the Apostles, to discourage them from trust in Divine Providence and, therefore, from carrying out their apostolic charge. One has only to recall the response of the Apostles to Christ’s arrest, His trial and condemnation, and His Passion and death to understand the full force of what our Lord was saying.

In the context of speaking about the severe trials faced in carrying out the apostolic mission, our Lord speaks tender and encouraging words to St. Peter: "[B]ut I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren" (Luke 22:32). We know, especially from the wonderful extended prayer of Christ before His Passion and death, recorded in the Gospel according to John (John 17), that Christ prayed for all of the Apostles that they might be one with the Father and Him, and one, therefore, with each other. But, these words directed to St. Peter alone, much like the words directed to him when he made his profession of faith at Caesarea Philippi, indicate his particular mission. Our Lord prayed that Peter, in the midst of all the trials and temptations, would remain confident in God’s grace, in Christ’s victory, in which he had been given a share.

The particular grace of St. Peter, for which our Lord prayed, was given to him for a particular mission. Peter, by his office, is to strengthen his brothers. When the teaching, sanctifying and governing of the flock by the Apostles and their successors is threatened by Satan’s "sifting," then Peter and his successors support them, in virtue of a special grace given to the office of Peter.

The grace of his office was experienced by Peter in a most powerful way through his own conversion, his "turning again" (Luke 22:32). We recall Peter’s weakness during the time of our Lord’s Passion. He denied three times that he knew our Lord (Luke 22:56-60). Unlike Judas the betrayer who was unrepentant, Peter, as soon as he recognized his sin, at the crowing of the cock, "went out and wept bitterly" (Luke 22:62). With the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, Peter became courageous and steadfast in carrying out the apostolic office.

‘Feed my sheep’

The third text is taken from the Gospel according to John. It recalls an appearance of the risen Lord to the Apostles at the Sea of Tiberias. The Apostles, at Peter’s invitation, had spent a night fishing without any success. Our risen Lord appeared on the shore and instructed them to cast their nets to the starboard side of the boat (cf. John 21:6). The scene recalls an earlier and most important encounter with our Lord, involving a miraculous catch of fish at the time of the calling of the first Apostles and confirming the apostolic mission to which the Apostles are called (cf. Luke 5:1-11).

After the miraculous catch, our risen Lord invited the Apostles to have some breakfast with Him. After they had finished the breakfast, our Lord engaged in a most striking conversation with Peter. Three times He asked Peter: "[D]o you love me more than these? ... [D]o you love me? ... [D]o you love me?" To each question and with increasing fervor, Peter professed his love of Christ. To each expression of love, our Lord responded with words which indicated Peter’s special office and mission in the Church: "Feed my lambs ... Tend my sheep ... Feed my sheep" (John 21:15-17). The threefold question of Peter underlines very much that the foundation of his service in the Church is Christ and his love of Christ. The threefold question reminds Peter of his frailty, manifested most of all in his threefold denial of Christ. It is the grace of Christ which enables Peter to overcome his human frailty and to serve as chief shepherd of the flock.

The threefold question also mirrored a practice of the great teachers of the people in handing over authority. In His conversation with Peter, our Lord signified the handing over of the care of the flock. Peter is indeed to be the Vicar of Christ on earth. From His glorious seat at the right hand of the Father, our risen Lord gives to Peter and to his successors the grace of shepherding the flock throughout the world. The whole language of feeding and tending the lambs and sheep reflect the participation of Peter in the office of Christ the Good Shepherd.

After the threefold questioning, our risen Lord speaks words to Peter, which indicate the full import of shepherding the flock, after the Heart of the Good Shepherd. Peter’s shepherding, no less than that of our Lord Himself, means laying down his life for the sheep. Our Lord tells Peter:

"Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you girded yourself and walked where you would; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish to go" (John 21:18-19).

The Gospel comments that our Lord’s words refer to the manner of Peter’s martyrdom for love of Christ and Christ’s flock.

The Basilica of St. Peter at the Vatican is built over the tomb of Peter, which was very close to the arena in which he was put to death for the faith by crucifixion. Peter, who considered himself unworthy to die the same death as our Lord, insisted that he be crucified upside down. Christ’s words were fulfilled in Peter’s arrest, suffering and dying.

Successor of St. Peter

The texts from the Gospels help us to understand the reality of the grace given to the successor of St. Peter for the pastoral care and governance of the universal Church. They make clear Christ’s intention, in constituting His Church, that one among the Apostles should be His Vicar, defining for the brethren the doctrine and discipline of the faith, holding them together in unity during the inevitable times of trial and temptation, and giving his life for them.

In celebrating the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, these texts from the Gospels help us to enter more fully and deeply into the celebration, the mystery of our life in the Church, the mystery of God’s immeasurable love for us in the Church, as we see it reflected in the mission of Peter and of his successors. The teaching of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, found in the Dogmatic Constitution "Lumen Gentium," or "On the Church," expresses the profound truth of Christ’s abiding presence with us in the Church through the service of the Roman pontiff or Holy Father:

"The Roman Pontiff, as the successor of Peter, is the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful. The individual bishops are the visible source and foundation of unity in their own particular Churches, which are constituted after the model of the universal Church; it is in these and formed out of them that the one and unique Catholic Church exists. And for that reason precisely each bishop represents his own Church, whereas all, together with the Pope, represent the whole Church in a bond of peace, love and unity" (n. 23a).

Reflecting upon this teaching, we recognize the great gift which is ours as Catholics to receive the pastoral care of St. Peter through his successor, Pope John Paul II.

In the service of Pope John Paul II, we see his response to the call of Christ, first given to Peter. Our Holy Father teaches us the doctrine of the faith in all of its riches, visits us in every part of the world to celebrate the sacraments and lead us in prayer, and he guides us in following Church discipline. Especially in this last period, his giving up of his life for the flock is so visible and the source of so much inspiration to us all in living our faith with the enthusiasm and energy of the first disciples of our Lord.


I ask you to keep in your prayers me and all the pilgrims to Rome for the celebration of the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul. Please pray that, through our pilgrimage, we will grow in our knowledge and love of Christ, and of His holy Church. May our pilgrimage bring special blessings to the Church in the Archdiocese of St. Louis and throughout the whole world.

As I receive the pallium, I will express your gratitude and deepest love to our Holy Father. Please join me in these days in special prayer for the intentions of our Holy Father.

Let us pray for our Sovereign Pontiff Pope John Paul II.
The Lord preserve him and give him life, and make him blessed upon the earth, and deliver him not up to the will of his enemies ("Enchiridion of Indulgences").

Editor’s note: Archbishop Burke will return from Rome after the trip concludes July 3. The Review through Catholic News Service will have coverage of the bestowing of the pallium in its Friday, July 2, edition.

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