Proposed DC Amendment on Same-Sex Relationships

 The Archdiocese of Washington issued the following statement yesterday concerning an ammendment introduced in the City Council aimed at recognizing “Same-sex Marriage.”

The Archdiocese of Washington is deeply concerned over the amendment introduced today by the District of Columbia City Council to equate same-sex relationships with marriage in the District of Columbia by recognizing these relationships from other states.

Marriage is a natural institution established by God and written in the very nature of man and woman and is therefore endowed with its own proper laws.  The equality of men and women and the dignity of their coming together as husband and wife is not merely a fact of religious faith or a creation by civil authorities, but a fundamental reality rooted in human nature and experience.  Civil marriage is reserved to the union of one man and one woman because of its unique ability to bring children into the world and its role in forming a stable and secure foundation for our society. By legally equating unmarried couples with married couples, this bill erodes marriage.

It also is of great concern that an issue that has such significance for the families of our city was introduced in a manner that preempts discussion. We would expect differently in a democratic society.

We urge our elected officials to respect the definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

 If you who read this blog might permit me a couple of quick observations.

  1. Marriage is fundamentally orientedto the pro-creation and rearing of Children. Hence, by nature it should have special prerogatives and protections, enjoying a unique position in our communities.
  2. You will note that the statement makes no reference to Sacred Scripture. This is because, when the Church addresses the world which has many pluralistic religious views, she makes use of natural law in advancing her arguments. Discussions must be advanced using shared and agreed upon principles and this explains the lack of reference to Scriptures: chapter and verse.
  3. However, since I largely presume that the readers of this blog have something of a religious reference or at least read because they seek to further understand the Catholic view I would like to make a few references to Scripture. Note that when God set forth marriage he made Adam and Eve. (cf Gen 1 – 2). Thus his design in marriage is one man for one woman. Neither same-sex relationships nor polygamous situations are in conformity with this design. Further Scripture says that “For this reason a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife and the two of them become one flesh(Gen 2:24). From this we have confirmed again God’s plan that marriage is for one man and one woman. Further that it is to be until death do them part. Hence marriage is to be a stable, lasting, life-long union. This makes eminent sense given what else God told Adam and Eve. He said, Be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it (Gen 1:28). Here then is another central teaching on marriage: that Children are the expected fruit of every marriage. This indicates the need for stability and for the fact that sexual complementarity is integral to any definition of marriage. (i.e. a man and a woman).  
  4. Ultimately, the attempts of the City Council and other governing bodies throughout the country to overturn the traditional definition of marriage amounts to a rejection of many centuries of human experience. It also disreguards the sincere religious views of large numbers of Christians, Jews and Muslims who hold this understanding.

There are some who say that all this redefinition of marriage stuff is really no big deal and that no one should really care how others live their lives. But, fundamentally Marriage is NOT a private matter. It is a basic pillar of any society and how that society understands and supports this most basic institution has serious and far-reaching implications. The Diocese of Portland Maine recently encountered similar legislative attempts and produced a series of short videos wherein Bishop Richard Malone addressed a number of issues. Among them the claim that this is really “no big deal.”

Another charge is often  leveled at the Catholic Church due to our teaching and position on this is that we are “intolerant.” Bishop Malone also spoke to this claim in this brief video:

Resurrection Meditation

Art and music come together in this video as a meditation on the Resurrection. The Latin Hymn to our Lady is Regina Caeli Laetare Alleluia. Quia quem meruisiti portare, Alleluia Resurrexit sicut dixit. Alleluia (Translation: Queen of Heaven rejoice, Alleluia. For He whom you merited to bear Alleluia has risen as he said. Alleluia).

Don’t You Want to Be a Servant for the Good God Almighty?

At the lakeside in Galilee the Risen Lord Jesus told Simon Peter “Feed My Sheep.”  So, it’s time to consider vocations to the priesthood and here’s one of the more unusal calls to the priesthood you’ll hear. There’s an old Appalachian Gospel Song (a.k.a. “Stained Glass Bluegrass’) about the call of Simon Peter called “Don’t you Want to Go to Heaven When You Die?”  It depicts Peter’s call to “go and feed my sheep.”  The song is a toe-tapper and I’m sure you’ll enjoy. Also toe tappers are called for now that Jesus is Risen. 🙂

Men if you’ve been waiting for a bluegrass song to call you to the priesthood there here it is! The song is fun but the call is serious. Think about the priesthood! I hope you’ll pay special attention to the line: “Don’t you want to be a servant for the good God Almighty, Don’t you want to go to heaven when you die?”

Office of Priestly Vocations for the Archdiocese of Washington: 301-853- 4580. Msgr. Rob Panke Director.

In celebration of the ministry of priests



As Msgr. Pope’s blog says, tonight is the night that the Church celebrates the ministry of priesthood. It is an opportunity for us to give thanks for the blessing that so many priests have been in our lives. Many of us can think of a time when the words of a homily, or a visit with a priest in a moment of crisis or a conversation we had as we were leaving church made a huge difference in our life.


One Tough Job


Arguably the ministry of the priest is one of the hardest jobs there is. It is 24/7, the phone does ring in the middle of the night, lots of people want a piece of your time, and everyone wants excellent preaching every week. The pastor is shepherd, CEO, CFO, CIO and maybe even the IT guy. We expect excellent homilies, the perfect prayer for every occasion, and that they are at the office when we need them. We’re happiest if they like everything in the parish that we like and not like all the things we don’t like. We want them to be human “just like us” and we want them to be just like Jesus.


I am fortunate to be able to say that some of my most favorite people in the world are priests. It was a priest, over pizza at Domino’s who first suggested that I might have a gift for parish ministry and theology. He helped me find a theology program that was right for me and was present when I defended my dissertation. In my first job in parish ministry when I told him that I went to visit a woman in the hospital and she asked to pray the Memorare, and I had to admit I didn’t know it, he made me a palm size copy of the prayer so that it would never happen again!


Sharing the Love


I’ve studied with priests, I’ve worked with priests, I’ve taught priests and so I’ve learned a lot about what they most like. With a nod to the more famous Top Ten list, here is a Top Ten list for sharing some love with our priests.


10 For no good reason drop off their favorite snack or a fresh cup of coffee

9.  Before you tell them it was the wrong decision ask how they came to that    decision    

8.  Write a thank-you note

7.  Support a new initiative Father wants to try in the parish

6.  Invite Father over for dinner or to a family celebration

5.  For every criticism you have to share, share a compliment

4   Help Father be faithful to taking a day off, going on retreat and getting   away

3.  Offer to meet a need before Father needs to ask

2.  Know that they are holy and let them be human

1.  Pray often for your pastor and for all of our priests

Retreats: The Silence of Our Hearts

The Catholic faith has a long tradition of offering retreats to clergy, religious, and lay members of the Church. Just as Jesus retreated in the desert for 40 days before beginning his public ministry, we often go on retreats to regain focus, jump-start our prayer life, or seek comfort following a hardship.


There are many different kinds of retreats: solitary or group retreats, thematic retreats, self-guided or directed retreats, single sex or co-ed retreats, day retreats, weekend retreats, etc. No matter what type it is, it’s a time to focus solely on our relationship with God. It often involves prayer, quiet reflection, meditation, reading spiritual books, Mass, and Eucharistic Adoration.


Could you take an afternoon or a weekend to separate yourself from the everyday hustle and bustle and just be with God? You might be thinking, “Sounds great, but I’m too busy.” At a retreat I went on a few years ago, I remember our director saying, “If you’re too busy to come on a retreat…you’re too busy, period.” That stuck with me.


When we talk about priorities, I’m reminded of the oft-quoted line: Don’t let the urgent get in the way of the important. With only 24 hours in a day and 7 days in a week, sometimes spending time with our Creator doesn’t make the cut. But if making a retreat is important to you, set it at the top of your priority list.


The Easter Season is a wonderful, joyous, Spirit-filled time to go on a retreat. A simple Google search will bring up many Catholic retreat houses and the Archdiocese of Washington’s Catholic Standard also lists some upcoming retreats. If you’re a member of a parish, check the weekly bulletin or ask your pastor for recommendation.    


I leave you with this quote from Mother Teresa’s No Greater Love.


Silence of our eyes.

Silence of our ears.

Silence of our mouths.

Silence of our minds.

…in the silence of the heart

God will speak.



Shameless Plug: The Office of Young Adult Ministry will be offering a Half-Day Retreat for Married Young Adults on May 16th 2009. For more information, click here.

Making Holy Week Holy–Preparing Your Heart

A clean heart create for me, God: renew in me a steadfast spirit.”


Taken from Psalm 51, it is the prayer of repentance and sets the tone for our entry into the celebration of the Triduum(the three day celebration of Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Vigil). It is a reminder that God’s grace is like a river of cleansing water. It is not too late to receive the grace of forgiveness in the sacrament of reconciliation. Your local parish probably has special times posted. The Shrine of the Immaculate Conception is offering the sacrament from 10:00 a.m-6:00 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday with four priests available. See The Franciscan Friars have confessions on the hour between 9:00 and 4:00 p.m. See


Another practice of the heart is to calculate how much money you saved if you “gave up” something for Lent. In my case that daily cappuccino adds up to about $135.00. That makes a very nice contribution to my favorite charity or the poor box at church. I read something very interesting today. The fast of the Triduum is not so much the fast of a penitent but rather the fast of anticipation—of looking forward and readying ourselves for the celebration of Easter. It made me ask myself what should change in how I fast the next couple of days. What does an anticipation fast look like?  If God is promising a steadfast spirit, what might a steadfast spirit look like for me?


A special tradition follows the celebration of the Lord’s Supper on Thursday. It is a period of adoration inviting people to do what the disciples who were with Jesus in the garden could not do—to stay and pray with him. Can we be different and pray with our Lord? Most churches will be open until 9:00 p.m. or 10:00 p.m. Why not plan to stay? There was a practice a generation or so ago to visit seven churches on Holy Thursday evening. Why not choose two or three near you to visit?                                     


This blog began as part of our campaign to extend invitations to people we know who have been away from the Church to come back to Mass. If you’ve been meaning to ask someone, why not consider inviting that person to one our Holy Week services.


“Restore my joy in your salvation; sustain in me a willing spirit.”