Synodality and Oblates in the USA, Part Four

Posted on August 24, 2022

The Synodality report submitted by Fr. Jim Allen, regarding our Belleville Oblates, and the Synodality report submitted by Fr. Harry Winter, regarding the Diocese of Syracuse, may seem unrelated.  But we are putting them together to show the widespread interest in the Synodality process going on in every religious community and every diocese in the world.

Diocese of Syracuse Report

When I was assisting the ill pastor in my home parish of St. Paul, Norwich, NY, from July 25-Aug. 7, 2022, the diocese published in its newspaper The Catholic Sun, a summary of 42 listening sessions. What caught my attention was the addition of “special listening sessions,” three of which  were “for those who for whatever reason are estranged from the Church, with a particular focus on the LGBTQ Community.” Later in the report, when the top 10 themes were listed, “The LGBTQ Community” was #6. And when this was described, the authors explained “At one of our special listening sessions geared to the LGBTQ Community, several gay people spoke of their experience of being considered ‘possessed’ or ‘mentally ill.’ Their stories were heartbreaking.”

In a meeting with one of my high school classmates, the husband and wife both expressed their concern and bewilderment over a lesbian daughter and daughter-in-law.  This development already presented in “Synodality and  Oblates in the USA, Part Three,” continues to grow.

The report also described “one of the surprises was how quickly and how deeply the people entered into the sacred silence.  For the most part, the people listened carefully and attentively to one another, and seemed to act just as the Holy Father wished:  they spoke freely, boldly , and courageously …and respectfully (with a few exceptions).”

For the entire Syracuse Diocese report, dated July 6, 2022, but not made available until July 24, click here to see it as published by The Catholic Sun.

The Contribution of a Community of Religious Men Toward the Synod

St. Henry’s Oblate ResidenceBelleville, IL

On May 26, 2022, 13 of the 18 Missionary Oblates living in this community gathered prayerfully to express their thoughts on the preparatory questions for the Synod of 2023. The questions were adapted to the nature of this community of priests and Brothers , most of whom are retired or in Reduced Active Ministry.

  1. How is “journeying together” happening in this community?

The experience of community life has been a unique experience for each person, depending partially on their ministerial assignments: some have been in small communities; some, in large; some were basically alone for several years.

However, there is general agreement that community life here is a positive source of sharing and mutual support. Given the rather advanced age of most of the members, it has been described as “living while dying, making the best of our time together, aware of our mortality.”

Our shared identity as Oblates of Mary Immaculate affords us the opportunity to learn from one another as we move forward together. The Holy Spirit works differently in each of us and helps us to understand our differences and our gifts.

  • What is there about Jesus that draws me to him? What is there about Jesus that makes an impression on me?
  • Over the years the relationship with Jesus has changed and become more real in various ways.
  • Jesus teaches us by his own life to be more giving than receiving.
  • We can look at the concrete actions of Jesus as examples of how we can touch the lives of others.
  • We also can find images of Jesus in persons who have affected our lives (e.g. a parent or a teacher)
  • Jesus wants to be a constant presence in our lives; one who lives within us.
  • What is there about the Church that draws me closer to the Lord and to other people?

As “cradle Catholics,” it is difficult to imagine a life totally outside of the Church. But the idea and experience of Church has expanded through contact with different peoples and cultures. At the same time, we would find it difficult to experience God without being in contact with other people.

Most of us knew the Church before we even really knew God and Jesus. It was only through maturing in our faith that we began to realize the transcendence of God and the call to be of service to others.

At this point in our lives, given the experiences we have had in many places and with so many people, the Church is anything but an abstraction. We see the Church in the persons we serve, whether they are prospering or struggling.

  •  What are my hopes for the Church that will help to draw me closer to Christ?
  • To see a Church with living saints who live their Catholic faith in such a way that we too can be proud to be Catholic.
  • To see a Church that is willing to look at its way of presenting its moral teaching in a way that attracts and encourages people to walk the path that is sometimes hard. This should include an in depth and fresh look at the relationship between what is considered to be the “natural law” norm and the “lived experience” of people who are also living what they consider to be “natural.” So many people see some aspects of the Church’s moral teaching so stringent and demanding that they either give up or become pathologically scrupulous.
  • Some issues in the Church are not going to go away and they need to be discussed openly and without bias and preconceived answers. Among them stand out such areas as the role of the laity and especially women in the Church; obligatory celibacy of the priests of the Latin Rite; inclusivity, even of sinners (and that’s all of us).
  • How will the Church be present to the world in the face of climate change and a possible collapse of the environment?
  • How can the Church make synodality a normal way of being Church so that this current process not be mere tokenism? Are we going to take the faithful seriously in their own baptized role as “priests, prophets and kings”?
  • We need to meet people where they are and as they are.


For Ecumenism and Laity in the Oct. 2021 – Oct. 2023 Synod

Thank you for being here for the opening of the Synod. you have come by many different roads and from different Churches, each bearing your own questions and hopes. I am certain the Spirit will guide us and give us the grace to move forward together, to listen to one another and to embark on a discernment of the times in which we are living, in solidarity with the struggles and aspirations of all humanity. I wan to say again that eh Synod is not a parliament or an opinion poll; the Synod is an ecclesial event and its protagonist is the Holy Spirit. If the Spirit is not present, there will be no Synod. Click Here to Read More

Pioneer Catholic Feminist, (available on Amazon books)

Do you know who is in your own Clod of Witnesses (heb 12:1), the people in your life who have died but still influence you positively in a significant way? Fr. Harry Winter, O.M.I., Ph.D. traces the history of Virginia’s Governor John Floyd Jr. (1783-1837) and his pioneer feminist wife, Letitia Preston Floyd, *1779-1852) and their descendants to show how their influence is as important for the United States today as President John Adams and his wife, Abigail Adams and their decendants. Click Here to learn more

Superior General Describes Oblate Role in the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples

The Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate continue to play a significant role in many of the most difficult missions around the world. We are well known and highly regarded in the Church for our availability. although with good humor, we like to joke that we are specialists in making missions difficult, the simple truth is that Oblates are laboring with great zeal in many of the most challenging areas of the globe. Click Here to learn more

For the Muslim Response to Pope Francis’ Visit (March 2021)

Pope Francis’s recent trip to Iraq will undoubtably have a lasting impact on the country in ways that only time will tell, however, in the immediate aftermath, a few significant developments can already be seen. Click Here to learn more

“Ecumenical Vademecum” Statement Animating Christian Unity (December 3, 2020)

The ministry entrusted to the bishop is a service of unity both within his diocese and of unity between the local church and the universal church. That ministry therefore has special significance in the search for the unity of all Christ’s followers. The bishop’s responsibility for promoting Christian unity is clearly affirmed in the Code of Canon Law of the Latin Church among the tasks of his
pastoral office: “He is to act with humanity and charity toward the brothers and sisters who are not in full communion with the Catholic Church and is to foster ecumenism as it is understood by the Church” (Can 383 §3CIC 1983). Click Here to learn more

Oblate Missiologists includes at least one Oblate missiologist from each of our five geographical regions. First produced as a hard copy in 1997, it is now made available in two versions on the internet.   For a PDF version, click here. The type is smaller and you cannot edit it.

Vatican and World Council of Churches publish dynamite document on COVID

Serving a Wounded World in Interreligious Solidarity.
A Christian Call to reflection and Action During COVID-19 and Beyond Click Here to learn more

Commentary on Dynamite Document and Season of Creation

Commentary on the Statement “Christian Witness in a Multi-Religious World” by Harry E. Winter, OMI. Printed in Ecumenical Trends 46 (Oct. 2017, 9):10-11.
Insight by Fernando Velazquez, OMI, May 15, 2017: part of the neglect of this statement comes from the earlier document “Dominus Iesus” (2000). Mission exists in a difficult and creative tension with Unity/Dialogue. Click Here to learn more

Two Oblate Ecumenists on the Road to Glory

Fr. Waclaw Hrniewicz, OMIFather Waclaw Hryniewicz, O.M.I., an expert on the Eastern Orthodox Church, died on May 26 at age 83 in Poland. Fr. Jean Gueguen, O.M.I., a promoter of the Taize Community, died on May 24 at age 95 in France.

On March 20, 1995, Hryniewicz was the featured speaker at Oblate College, Washington DC, to open the Oblate Center for Mission Studies. Due to his friendship with Fr. George McLean, O.M.I., Hryniewicz had agreed to speak about developments between the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Churches.

Click Here to learn more

“Understanding the signs of Our Times”

Fr. George McLeanAn interesting article from: McLean Center Online Seminars
The current pandemic felt by the entire globe has brought not only deep anxieties and fears but also profound quests and search for root causes and answers for our challenging situations socio
political, cultural, ecological, etc. In order to understand the uniqueness and specificity of our times and to look for some resources that may help us deepen our understanding, this special research project intends to explore the philosophicaltheological writings of a special figure, Romano Guardini, one of most important intellectuals of the Catholic tradition in the 20th century. Click Here to learn more

New Biography on Fr. George McLean has been released!

If you wish to purchase a physical copy, give Matthew Martin a call 210-340-1366 ext 205 or email him at and he can sell you one for $17.50 plus $5.00 shipping and handling for a total of $22.50. We take VISA, MasterCard, American Express and Discover. an electronic version is available. Click Here to learn more (link is to large to upload)

Mclean Center Activities — Click Here

Fr. George McLean, OMI — Full Bio — Click Here

Oblate Missiologist, Tragic and Talented (2018)

His Irish parents and he endured the persecution of the English during his youth in Ireland and England. So when Con Scollen worked with the Native Americans in Canada and the United States, he bluntly told them any treaty from the national governments wasn’t worth the paper it was written on. An Oblate for 26 years, and a diocesan priest for the 17 remaining years of his life, he surpassed his teacher, Father Albert Lacombe, OMI, for his knowledge of Native American languages and culture. He is revered by them today. Click Here to learn more

Native Peoples indigenous art at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art (2019)

Thanks to Fr. Seamus Finn, OMI for this related piece. Click here to watch video

High Point of Bibliographia Missionaria (Dec. 6, 2017)

Thank you for being here for this important moment in the history of the University and our library. We present a volume, 70° c, a unique magazine, Bibliographia Missionaria. Begun in 1935 by Prof. Johannes Baptista Rommerskirchen, OMI, today presents itself as a significant contribution to reflection and research on all things related to the Church’s mission. Click Here to learn more

Witnessing to Jesus, and Ecumenism at Royal Wedding (May 19, 2018)

African-American Episcopalian Bishop Michael Curry’s sermon at the royal wedding is a marvelous combination of witnessing to Jesus, and Christian Unity. His quoting Jesuit theologian Teilhard de Chardin is unprecedented in such a world-wide event. However, he also is an example of the difficulty within the Anglican Communion, where many find his espousal of same sex marriage and other moral matters to be divisive. Click here to learn more

Grieving for an Oblate Accomplishment (2018)

For many years, Oblates were accustomed to seeing an annual photo of an Oblate missiologist presenting to the pope a comprehensive bibliography listing every book or article written the previous year on Mission, Ecumenism, Dialogue, Sociology of Religion, etc. Known as Bibliographia Missionaria, this book was of immense aid to anyone interested in a topic concerning the spread of the Christian faith. Click Here to learn more

Episcopalian/Anglicans Join Lutherans and Catholics in Reformation Document (2017)

On 31st of October 2017, the final day of the year of the common ecumenical Commemoration of the Reformation, we are very thankful for the spiritual and theological gifts received through the Reformation, a commemoration that we have shared together and with our ecumenical partners globally. Likewise, we begged forgiveness for our failures and for the ways in which Christians have wounded the Body of the Lord and offended each other during the five hundred years since the beginning of the Reformation until today. Click here to learn more

Four Articles on Oblates and the 50th Anniversary of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal (2017)

December 19, 2017 – Father John Morin, OMI, and the Haitian US Charismatic Renewal Click Here to learn more

December 10, 2017 – US Oblates and the 50th Anniversary of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, Part 3: Hispanic Charismatic Renewal Click Here to learn more

November 15, 2017 – US Oblates and 50th Anniversary of the Charismatic Renewal, Part Two Click Here to learn more

September 13, 2017 – US Oblates and the 50th Anniversary of the Charismatic Renewal, Part One Click Here to learn more

Controversial Article

An important Italian Catholic journal, La Civilta Cattolic, has an English version, and in the July 21 issue, there was a controversial article linking Protestant Fundamentalism with Catholic Integralism in the USA. An American bishop has responded with an easily readable article, agreeing with some of the author’s insights, by disagreeing with others. Click Here to learn more

Presbyterians join Lutherans and Roman Catholics (2017)

Five hundred years after the Reformation, one of Protestantism’s leading branches has officially said it now agrees with the Vatican on the main issue at the root of its split from the Roman Catholic Church. Click Here to learn more

Luther, Literacy, and Martin Luther King (2017)

(The Conversation) This year marks the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s famous 95 theses, which helped spark the founding of the Reformation and the division of Christianity into Protestantism and Catholicism. The Conversation Click Here to learn more

Four Oblates Praised; Vital Statement Examined at Ecumenical Meeting (2017)

During the National Workshop on Christian Unity, held May 1-4 in Minneapolis, MN, four Oblates were praised and a vital statement concerning Social Justice, Mission, and Ecumenism/Interreligious Dialogue was publicized. Click Here to learn more

Commentary on the Statement “Christian Witness in a Multi-Religious World” (2017)

As an ecumenist convinced that Mission is at the heart of Christian Unity, I was stunned at the May 1-4, 2017 National Workshop on Christian Unity (NWCU)to discover that the statement “Christian Witness in a Multi-Religious World” was published in November, 2011. I had never heard of this remarkable, vital and practical accomplishment of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, the World Council of Churches, and the World Evangelical Alliance. Click here to learn more

The 500th Anniversary on the Reformation: A Year of Unparalleled Opportunity (2017)

In his new book on Martin Luther: An Ecumenical Perspective, Cardinal Walter Kasper notes that our ideas about Martin Luther have undergone transformations in a number of ways over the past 500 years. Historically, for Catholics, Luther was the church father of Protestantism, the heretic to blame for the division of the Western Church. Click Here to learn more

Islam and Oblates

The 2017 De Mazenod Conference of the Missionary Oblate Partnership was held February 10-12 at the Oblate Renewal Center in San Antonio, Texas. The theme of this year’s conference: Christianity & Islam: Can We Talk? provided opportunities for enlightened conversations on a highly-charged and often emotional topic.  Click Here to learn more

Basics of Islam

The Basics of Islam, presented to Oblate Partners, Feb. 10-12, San Antionio, TX.  Scott Woodward, DMin, Oblate School of Theology
Click Here to learn more

Archbishop Hebda encourages homework in uniting Catholics and Lutherans (2017)

Most Rev. Bernard Hebda, Roman Catholic archbishop of St. Paul/Minneapolis, delivered these remarks at the joint serve led by two Lutheran bishops at Central Lutheran Church, Minneapolis, MN on Jan. 22, 2017. His remarks set the spirit, though, for the entire year to come when on Jan. 21, 2018, one of the Lutheran bishops will speak at Hebda’s cathedral. Read of his inspiring and joyful presentation. Click Here to learn more

Oblate School of Theology Reformation Achievement: (2017)

Rev. Paul Ziese, Pastor of San Antonio, Tx’s MacArthur Lutheran Church: “There is probably more openness among Catholics to the need for reformation, and more Protestants recognize the wound of the Reformation.” Click Here to learn more

Witnessing to Jesus, and Ecumenism at Royal Wedding of May 19, 2018

African-American Episcopalian Bishop Michael Curry’s sermon at the royal wedding is a marvelous combination of witnessing to Jesus, and Christian Unity. His quoting Jesuit theologian Teilhard de Chardin is unprecedented in such a world-wide event.  Click Here to learn more

Jim Holland, Praised Indigenous Oblate Missionary, to dismissed oblate, to Honary Oblate? 

When our superior general, Louie Lougen, wrote his article for the Catholic Digest on Oblate Spirituality, he mentioned how Oblates are not only specialists in difficult missions, but specialists in making missions difficult (see Dialogue/Islam Page for his article).  Click Here to learn more

For Lucien Bouchard OMI’s Ministry to Hmong in Laos

Im writing these notes about my missionary life in Southeast Asia and will relate especially about my 18 ½ years stay in Laos from Nov. 17, 1956 to May 8, 1975. After I was forced out of Laos by the Communist Lao regime in 1975, I then joined six French ex-Laos missionaries and went with them to Indonesia where we arrived at the end of January, 1977 in the city of Jakarta.  Click Here to learn more

Fr. Greg Gallagher, OMI Re-Elected Presiddent of U.S. Catholic Mission Association  (May 2016)

Fr. Greg Gallagher, OM, Administrative Councilor/ Office of Mission and Ministry/Assistant Treasurer for the U.S. Province has been I re-elected president of the U.S. Catholic Mission Association.  Click Here to learn more

Fr. Gallaher’s role in the choosing the new Executive Director of the US Catholic mission Association.

The Board of Directors of the United States Catholic Mission Association is pleased to announce the selection of Donald L. McCrabb, D.Min, as the new Executive Director for the USCMA, effective Dec. 7, 2015.  Click Here to learn more

The Manhattan Decoration, an Oblate Connection (2009)

For most Oblates of a certain age, “Manhattan” means either the island borough in N.Y. City, or the “project” which developed the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. But on Nov. 20, 2009, an ecumenical group released a statement pledging their commitment to defend human life, traditional marriage, and the rights of conscience.  Click Here to learn more

Buffalo New York, Holy Angels Church, 2 Bishops Statements

Personal Disclosure: the photo to the right shows Episcopalian then Father William Franklin with Father Harry Winter, O.M.I. and Father Franklin’s father-in-law, Joseph Vircillo, at the home of Joe and his wife Catarina Vircillo, in Fr. Winter’s Buffalo, NY parish, St. Rose of Lima, for the Christmas Eve traditional Italian fish dinner, 1998. Also at table but not in the photo is Father Franklin’s Catholic wife, Carmela Vircillo Franklin, a classical Latin scholar, who served as Director of the American Academy in Rome from 2005-10. During that time, Father Franklin served at several Episcopalian and Anglican Churches in Italy. They have two adult daughters.

Such marriages between leaders of two Christian Churches, once very rare, are becoming increasingly frequent. Are we Oblates prepared to work with such leaders?

Catholic and Episcopal Bishops of Western New York Issue Joint Call for Shared Prosperity   March 4, 2016 2:57 pm

The Right Rev. R. William Franklin, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Western New York, and Most Reverend Richard Joseph Malone, Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo issued am inspiring joint pastoral letter late last year, which we would like to share more widely. Our thanks go out to Fr. Harry Winter, OMI for bringing.  Click Here to learn more 

Priestless County Adapts (1977)

How does a former Oblate parish covering an entire county, adapt to being priestless? Several very significant elements have developed in Monroe County, West Virginia, to help the faith grow. Jim  MacGee OMI became the first resident priest in Monroe County, in 1977.
Click Here to learn more

Newman DeMazenod, Bede

In the last issue of VieOblateLife (68,#1),, Bishop Gilles Cazabon OMI explained that St. Eugene visited Blessed Newman in 1859, at Maryvale, England (p. 41). As in many things, St. Eugene was ahead of his time, recognizing Newman’s holiness and insights. Do we need to continue our ecumenical conversion as a congregation?  Click Here to learn more

November 22, 2013:  Ecumenical and Missionary Aspects of the Assassination of John F. Kennedy. 

From 1941 to 2006, Oblates ministered in Appalachia, especially in West Virginia. At that time, the Catholic population of the state was less than 5%; Protestants made up about 45% and were considered very anti-Catholic. John F. Kennedy could only win the presidency of the USA if he won his party’s primary election in WV.    Click Here to learn more

The following statement, Please click here, is not only a celebration of Maryknoll’s Centennial, but more importantly for Oblates, how to refocus with diminishing numbers. Please consider especially the fourth principal, Mission and the Mass

Vatican 2

Short and incisive explanation of why Vatican II is a “pastoral” council, in which John O’Malley, S.J., summarizes the impact of Vatican II.

From the moment the Second Vatican Council opened, it has consistently been described as a pastoral council, sometimes so insistently and unthinkingly that the expression has become a cliché. The word cliché implies that while the description might well express a truth, it at the same time trivializes the council and produces yawns. Click Here to learn more

For Pope Francis on Vatican II and Ecumenism See Pope Francis Page

Did Seminarians and Student Priest in Rome Influence Vatican II? For Fr. Harry Winter’s Documentation click on the following Chapter links:

Chapter 1                Chapter 2                Chapter 3                   Chapter 4

The Four Oblates Who Influenced Vatican II the Most

The first session of the Second Vatican Council began on Oct. 11, 1962 with 33 Oblates listed as “Fathers of the Council,” 5 as periti (experts) and 6 as theologians accompanying individual bishops.1 The number of “Fathers” would change only slightly during the next three sessions, but the number of experts would significantly grow, as each Council Father would change his expert for each session, so more priests could experience the Council. Click Here to learn more

Vatican II and Anti-Clericalism from Paul VI to Pope Francis by Way of the Catacomb Pact

The major helping professions, Medicine, Law and Religion, all face professional deformation. Doctors need a strong bedside manner, or they fail in improving the health of their patients. Lawyers need to be approachable, or they will fail in defending their clients. And pastors must “smell like the sheep,” to use a favorite expression of Pope Francis. Yet the lengthy training of all three professions leads to a separation between the helpers and the helped.

Clericalism is the term applied to clergy who climb higher up than their people. Anti-clericalism is the effort which from time to time the Church develops to return pastors to being one with their people. One important warning: there are Catholics who want their clergy to be clerical, making all their decisions for them, and making their lives easier. As we speak about anti-clericalism, it is important to be on one’s guard against such parishioners.

Pope Paul VI during Vatican II, begged the bishops to simplify their life style and to become more approachable. He himself led the effort.
Walter Abbott SJ, in his edition of the Documents of Vatican II, has observed, in the discussion of the Decree on Bishops, that “During the Council, there was much criticism of the sign of pomp and wealth seen in the lives of bishops. The subject was as delicate as the proper age for episcopal retirement. But as the fourth session closed, Paul VI made an adroit gesture, full of his own generosity, but pointedly symbolic of this ‘humility and simplicity of life.’ He gave each bishop a ring, simple in form and tasteful in design, bearing no jewel nor decoration except a small engraved miter. The ring spoke more eloquently than a hundred decrees” (commenting on #15, p. 407, n. 45).
The final text of the Decree on Bishops, promulgated during the fourth session on Oct. 28, 1965, did contain the expression Abbott refers to: Bishops “should also be mindful of their obligation to give an example of holiness through charity, humility, and simplicity of life” (#15, p. 407). In retrospect, the effort for simplicity was buried in more theological questions in the decree: the relation of bishops to the pope, the development of episcopal conferences, and the compulsory retirement of bishops at a certain age.

One of my close childhood friends, a lieutenant colonel in the USA Armed Forces, arrived in Rome with his wife on Nov. 20, 1964, the day before the third session ended. Word had gone around the seminaries (I was in my fourth year of theological studies and my seventh year in Rome ) that Pope Paul had told the Council Fathers in no uncertain terms to “approach the people.” So when J.J. and Helene and I went to the Basilica of St. Mary Major for the pope’s visit in the afternoon of Nov. 21, after the third session had closed that morning in St. Peter’s, we found cardinals standing uncomfortably in the piazza, waiting for people to approach them. Unaccustomed to this, many Italians stood at a respectful distance.

Helene was the niece of the superior general of a small religious order, and had no awe of cardinals. With American directness she walked up to one of the cardinals and instead of kissing his ornate ring, shook his hand and started chatting with him. Quickly others followed. It was a great lesson that change could happen. Sadly, the next great step forward in declericalizing the Church, the Catacomb Pact, seems to have been forgotten until the cardinals chose Pope Francis. On Nov. 16, 1965, 40 bishops descended into the Catacombs of Domitilla and signed a radical pact: they vowed to forego expensive limousines, glorious palaces and even honorific titles. In internet items concerning a documentary made in 2012 for German tv and called “Pact of the Catacombs–The Secret Pact of Vatican II,” we learn that 500 council fathers would sign the pact and present it to Pope Paul VI as the council ended. Dom Helder Camara, Archbishop of Olinda and Recife , Brazil , seems to have been the inspiration, joined by Cardinal Giacomo Lercaro of Bologna , Italy .

The only complete text of the pact is furnished by Boaventura Kloppenburg OFM, in his book The Chronicle of Vatican II. (Kloppenburg was an expert at Vatican II and later a bishop in Brazil ). In six paragraphs, the signers not only pledge themselves to personal simplicity, but to remake their diocesan administration into social works based on charity and justice for all and led by competent laypeople.

Is there a direct connection between Helder Camara and the former archbishop of Buenos Aires , now Pope Francis? Attempts are being made by Oblates in Brazil to see if either Camara or Bergoglio mention each other in their writings.

A final piece which shows the great interest in this matter was begun by the Franciscan columnist for the national USA Catholic review America , edited by the Jesuits. Daniel P. Horan OFM never expected in his one page article “Lead Us Not Into Clericalism” to stimulate the discussion he did (Oct. 21, 2013, p. 33). There was an explosion of blog responses, letters, and a status update in the Nov. 18 issue, pp. 6-7. Another blog response was printed in the Nov. 25 issue, p. 7; Horan responded in general in the Dec. 9-16 issue, p. 7. He has touched a nerve, and Pope Francis keeps exposing that nerve, in order to address the issue.

As with so many advances, new questions are raised. What does professionalism mean and how does it differ from clericalism? Is the number of pastors who value parish councils increasing? It would seem to be in the monthly parish council meetings that both the substance and style of a new relationship between the pastor and the parish are shown. Reports on this are very mixed.

It would also seem that the leadership of the pope is crucial. Bishops will follow his example; priests will follow the example of their bishops. May Pope Francis, guided by the Holy Spirit, show us what Jesus would have us do regarding clergy lifestyle and example
It would also seem that the leadership of the pope is crucial. Bishops will follow his example; priests will follow the example of their bishops. May Pope Francis, guided by the Holy Spirit, show us what Jesus would have us do regarding clergy lifestyle and example




I. John Allen, “Support for “Healthy Secularism”
During Benedict XVI’s Sept. 2008 trip to France, he endorsed what French President Nicolas Sarkozy has dubbed “positive laicite”—a French term for which there is no exact English equivalent, though the usual translation is “secularism.” The basic idea is that religious freedom and church/state separation are positive things, as long as they mean freedom for, rather than freedom from, religion.

The emergence of Islam as the church’s central interfaith preoccupation has turbocharged support for “healthy secularism.”

Proof can be found in the Middle East. Squeezed between two religiously defined behemoths, Israel and the Muslim states which surround it, the tiny Christian minority has no future if fundamentalism prevails. Their dream is to lead a democratic revolution in the region. That outlook reflects a basic law of religious life: secularism always looks better to minorities who would be the big losers in a theocracy.

Momentum towards healthy secularism in Catholic thought has implications well beyond the Middle East.

In both Europe and the States these days, there’s considerable debate about the political role of the church. Critics, including many Catholics, sometimes argue that bishops are “too political.” Americans, for instance, are still chewing over the role the U.S. bishops played in the health care reform debate.

If there is a force in Catholicism capable of balancing the scales, it’s likely to be the relationship with Islam, and the perceived need on the Catholic side to offer a credible model of the separation of religion and politics. That points to a keen irony: The specter of shariah might do more to give Catholic leaders pause about blurring church/state lines than a whole legion of liberal Western theologians. National Catholic Reporter blog, “Pondering Islam and its discontents,” Nov. 5, 2010.

II. May 27-30, 2008 Forum was partly to help the Secularity Team in Indiannapolis develop its program.
Click on Mission with Secularity for the link to more information on the team.
III. The following document was submitted to the participants in the May, 2008 meeting.

Missionary Ecumenism and the May 27-30, 2008 Forum on Secularity
by Harry E. Winter, OMI,, May 4, 2008

…The division among Christians damages the most holy cause of preaching the gospel to every creature and blocks the way to the faith for many (Vatican II, Decree on Missionary Activity, #6; Decree on Ecumenism, #’s 1, 4; Catechism, #855).

…As Oblates with many scattered resources in missionary ecumenism, how can we bring these resources to bear on the challenge of secularity? The recent statement of Cardinal Walter Kasper that “certain features of the Christian mystery have at times been more effectively emphasized by other Churches or Ecclesial communities ” (A Handbook of Spiritual Ecumenism, New City Press, 2006, #10, highly recommended) applies to both Eastern Orthodoxy and Protestantism.

I…Eastern Orthodoxy
…..A friend who visited a state-owned art museum in Moscow not long ago was surprised to observe people kneeling, bowing their heads and praying reverently in public before the icons and other Christian works on display. Some worshipers left a flower or a candle on the floor beside a work. Apparently such gestures are commonplace. That these Christians had encountered the art outside a church seemed to matter not at all, since the art itself was seen in that culture and among the Orthodox as worthy of veneration (Karen Sue Smith, “Artful Contemplation,” America, March 3, 2008, p. 16).
…..With the recent thawing of contact with the Orthodox (“Ravenna Was ‘Breakthrough’ in Orthodox-Catholic Ties,” Zenit, 2/19/08), we need to take advantage of our Oblates who are bi-ritual. In the past two years, the Polish-Canadian pre-novices in Buffalo, NY have shown a great interest in the work of Father Waclaw Hryniewicz, OMI, the Polish Oblate who served for many years on the International Catholic-Orthodox Dialogue. Our Oblate College in Washington, DC, trained many priests of the Maronite and Ukranian Rites.
…..Many Eastern Orthodox leaders have recently indicated a new interest in working with Roman Catholics on secularity. The Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I has a special concern for environmental issues. “The Green Patriarch” and his actions in this area have the support of the Vatican. Environmental concern is an area where secularists and people of faith can work together.

II. Protestantism
…..”It seems that the evangelical and Pentecostal movements have the most energy in our time” (Dean Hoge, “Challenges Facing the Priesthood in America,” Origins 37 [April 17, 2008, #44] :710). Catholic charismatics have led an amazing convergence with Pentecostals and evangelicals. Although some Pentecostals (and fundamentalists) would still not be caught dead with an RC, the amount of cooperation today is growing by leaps and bounds. Oblates have a strong presence within the charismatic movement, and within earlier movements which also stress the same adult conversion experience (Cursillo and Marriage Encounter, for example).
…..One cannot forget how the Presbyterian Reformed centers of Taizé and Iona have resulted in greater cross-fertilization, for mission and evangelization, especially among the young. Even the late Francis Schaeffer’s center at L’Abri, Switzerland, took the lead in cooperation on reducing abortion, in addition to attracting thousands of young people to its various centers on different continents.
…..Hispanic bishops Ricardo Ramirez CSB (Las Cruces, NM) and Placido Rodriguez CMF (Lubbock, TX) have shown initiative in working with Hispanic evangelicals and Pentecostals. Efforts by World Vision International to build bridges to Catholicism are slow in Latin America, but they are trying. Pentecostal leader Juan Sepulveda has written movingly of ecumenical progress at the Fifth Latin American Bishops Conference (Aparecida, Brazil, 2007): Ecumenical Trends 37 (April, 2008, #4): 9/57-11/59.
…..Ron Rolheiser’s sketching of conservatism versus liberalism (Secularity and the Gospel, pp. 49-50, 85-87) reminds us of the phenomenon of red states and blue states. Red states not only tend to vote Republican and have conservative values; they also have higher rates of religious practice and are rural oriented. When Harvey Cox wrote his classic Secular City, he explained how urbanization is related to secularity (rev. ed., 1966, pp. 3-12). Can our three person secularity team, residing in Indianapolis, IN, also alert Oblates working in more rural and small town areas, to the differences between faith practices in red and blue states?

…..Cox’s ch. 9 “Sex and Secularization” has this marvelous view:
…..If Americans had consciously set out to think up a system that would produce maximal martial and premarital strife for both sexes, we could scarcely have invented a more sexually sabotaging set of dating procedures than we have today (p. 180).
…..Modesty, chastity, and a mature Christian view of sex are important elements in our exploration of secularity.
…..Since Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical on social Justice Rerum Novarum (1891), observers have noted that the papacy is liberal in matters of Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC), and conservative in matters of doctrine. On the Protestant side, Jim Wallis and his journal Sojourners is the latest in a line of evangelical liberals, conservative in doctrine and liberal in JPIC.
…..Here in Buffalo, NY, a growing number of African-American Protestant pastors are discovering the courses in spirituality at the inter-diocesan seminary. Our resources in spirituality at Oblate School of Theology, and Lebh Shomea should be attractive to Hispanic evangelicals and Pentecostals.

III. Proclamation and Dialogue exist in creative tension. The following article from Columban Missions, Nov. 2007, p. 11 challenges us. See the Assisi Page for this article


Oblate Missiologists

February 2020 Revised Edition of Oblate Missiologists

By Harry Winter, OMI

Feb. 2020 edition of Oblate Missiologists, A Workbook, features the mention of the first Oblate martyr, Brother Alexis Reynard (1828-75).

Our first Oblate martyr died defending a young 14-year-old orphan girl, Genevieve Duquette,  from their guide, Louis Lafrance, on a journey in the Arctic in 1875. Brother Alexis Reynard (1828-1875) and the girl both were murdered by Louis. Details are given by Ileana Chinnci, COMI (Oblate Missionary Cooperator), in Oblatio Studia 8, “Oblation and Martyrdom,” pp. 161-64.

Click here for more details on Bro. Alexis Reynard

For the Feb. edition of the Workbook, with a further contribution by Bishop Wieslaw Anthony Krotki, O.M.I., of Hudson Bay,  CLICK HERE.

Information about Bibliographia Missionaria

With disappointment and great regret, I want to inform you that after eighty-three years of activity the publication of the Bibliographia Missionaria comes to an end. Despite having the right staff and editor, the Rector of the Pontifical Urban University has taken the decision to conclude this important work for missiology. One of the few missiological journals published for so long, appreciated by many specialists, thus ends. As one of the publishers, I feel to remember the story of this publication. Read More Click Here

Brother Alexis Reynard, OMI

The Story of Brother Alexis Reynard, O.M.I., Our First Oblate Martyr.  2019/2020

Feb. 2020 edition of Oblate Missiologists, A Workbook, features the mention of the first Oblate martyr, Brother Alexis Reynard (1828-75).  Click Here to Learn more

Oblates Preserving Hmong Culture in Minnesota (February 27, 2018)

How does a church named after the patron saint of Ireland, located in St. Paul, Minnesota, become the focal point of outreach to an ethnic group from Laos? It’s a testament to the diversity of ministry of the Missionary Oblates.  Click Here to learn more

A Love Letter to One Oblate and all Oblates, as the Hmong language is Constructed.  (June 6, 2017)

On behalf of the Catholic Hmong congregation here at St. Patrick, I want to Thank you Father for bringing us to this church. Without you, we might not be here today. So thank you so much for everything that you have done to find us a home.  Click Here to learn more

Oblate Yves Bertrais and others construct the Hmong language.  (October 4, 2018)

Although multiple attempts were made to spread the gospel to the Hmong in Asia, the most well known and successful was that of an Oblat of the Immaculate Heart priest namesed Yves Bertrais (Txiv Plig Nyiaj Pov).  Click Here to learn more

For Lucien Bouchard OMI’s Ministry to Hmong in Laos

Im writing these notes about my missionary life in Southeast Asia and will relate especially about my 18 ½ years stay in Laos from Nov. 17, 1956 to May 8, 1975. After I was forced out of Laos by the Communist Lao regime in 1975, I then joined six French ex-Laos missionaries and went with them to Indonesia where we arrived at the end of January, 1977 in the city of Jakarta.  Click Here to learn more

Fr. Anatole Baillargeon, OMI

Fr. Anatole Baillargeon, OMI (1914-2008) was among the many Oblates who have been involved with US Catholic Mission Association (USCMA), Executive Research Assistant, U.S. Catholic Mission Council. For more information, click here.

As the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate and the Pontifical Urbaniana University Library discuss dropping the hardcopy annual edition of Bibliographia Missionaria, or perhaps ceasing publication entirely, it is helpful to review this priceless contribution by our community to the study of missiology.

Not only has the yearly issue been of immense help to missiologists of every denomination, but it has shown that German missiologists could work in a then French religious order, to be succeeded by Polish, and most recently, a Madagascar missiologist. Consult “Bibliographia Missiologia: Thermometer of Missiology,” for a sketch of this accomplishment:Click Here.
Based on the pioneering work in missiology bibliography by Oblates Robert Streit and Johannes Dindinger, the first volume of Bibliographia Missionaria was published in 1935 by Johannes Rommeskirchen, OMI. He edited the annual volume for the next 20 years.

In 1977, Willi Henkel, OMI assumed the role of editor. He was assisted by Josef Metzler, OMI, Nickolas Kowalski, OMI and Werner Rorig, OMI. For a detailed explanation of his predecessors by Henkel, see his 1982 “Bibliographers in the Service of Mission,” Oblate Missiologists, pp. 37-45, Click Here.

Marek Rostkowski, OMI, assumed the editorship in 1998, and published it until 2016, when Alphonse Rakontondravelo, OMI, took that position. Alphonse has been involved with the 2017 edition, which may be the first and last to be published online.

As the Urbaniana University decides whether an internet edition is possible, let us thank God for the 78 issues so far published. What an accomplishment by our Oblate missiologists! May the Holy Spirit help all concerned in the decision.

For a unique contribution by the Oblates to the study of Missiology, Ecumenism, and World Religion Click here to learn more

National Workshop on Christian Unity May 2017 praises Oblate Missiologists, Click Here Use link for OMIUSA Four Oblates

Letitia Preston Floyd: A direct descendant, Austin Floyd, has found many more unedited letters of the Floyd Family, at West Virginia University Library. More about this in the future.

It is fitting that this most spirited defense of a Catholic being able to serve in American politics, was written by the son of Letitia Preston Floyd (see below for our calling her an Oblate missiologist). Benjamin Rush Floyd penned this in 1852, See how far Catholics have come (and Jews and Southern Baptists and members of other faiths): Click Here to Learn More

Corona Virus: An Opportunity to Work with Fundamentalists, click here.

Ron Rolheiser OMI notes that the Oblates of Mary are the best kept secret in the missionary world. May this booklet help us become more grateful for the great witness God has enabled us to make.

Roman Catholic and Episcopalian Bishops of Buffalo, NY: Ecumenism for Evangelization. Some Oblate Reflections.

For Archived Oblate Missiologist Articles Please Click here

For June 3rd article on Letitia Preston Floyd Click Here; for more see below:

Letitia Preston Floyd Rediscovered (see third item below). Dr. Jim Glanville has recently publicized the importance of Letitia Preston Floyd, with three articles in The Smithfield Review, vol. 19, 2015. Working with Ryan S. Mays, he published “A Sketch of Letitia Preston Floyd and Some of Her Letters,” (pp. 77-120), and “Governor John Floyd, Letitia Preston Floyd and the Catholic Church” (pp. 121-36). He worked with Fr. Winter and edited the article Fr. Winter originally wrote in 1990 “Letitia Preston Floyd: Pioneer Catholic Feminist” (pp. 137-45). Copies of The Smithfield Review may be obtained:

Much information on Letitia and her family is available on the website maintained by Dr. Glanville:

Update on “Thermometer of Missiology”: the accomplishment described at the end of this paragraph is now edited by Marek Rostkowski, OMI, and the 77th volume, for the year 2014, has now grown to 4,727 bibliographical entries, 41 reviews, and 301 journals indexed. Any publication regarding ecumenism, interfaith dialogue, and social justice, as part of evangelization, is recorded. It has its own website: Bibliographia Missionaria. Please Click Here

Greg Gallagher OMI; Robert Schreiter, CPPS – 2014

The following article from the Summer 2014, Mission Update of the United States Catholic Mission Association (USCMA) explains why the ecumenical American Society of Missiology is so important. Twice Robert Schreiter, CPPS, is presented. Schreiter has taught many Oblates who have studied at the Chicago Theological Union.

Greg Gallaher, OMI, is currently President of the USCMA    Click Here and look for pages 6 and 7.

An Oblate Missiologist: Letitia Preston Floyd (1779-1852)?

In what sense is this woman an Oblate missiologist? Her influence on spreading Catholicism in the States of WV, Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee is enormous, through her children whom she encouraged to become Catholic at a time when Catholicism was despised and rejected. She was the sister of a governor of Virginia, James Patton Preston; the wife of a governor of Virginia, John Floyd; and the mother of a governor of Virginia, John Buchanan Floyd.

When Fr. James MacGee OMI became pastor of Monroe County, WV, he discovered St. John’s Chapel , Sweet Springs, WV, built by Letitia’s daughter Letitia Floyd Lewis. When I succeeded MacGee as pastor, I took up the story of the Floyd’s and Lewis’. Below is an article describing the high point, on Aug. 15, 1990, when the bishop of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, Bernard Schmitt, dedicated the marker on Mrs. Floyd’s grave.

Recently a Virginian historian, Jim Glanville, has discovered the article and is mining the correspondence between Mrs. Floyd and Bishop Vincent Whelan, for her actual entry into the Catholic Church. We hope to post his article soon.

Thus Mrs. Floyd is an Oblate Missiologist in the sense that she led many into the Catholic Church, and in the sense that Oblates have discovered her influence. Click here for the Aug. 15, 1990 article. Click here for article

April 18th 2013 Oblate Convocation. The interest group on Missionary Ecumenism was presented twice. Fr. Ron Rolheiser OMI introduced it Harry Winter OMI facilitated and Dan Nassaney OMI concluded each session. Click here for introductory material

We now have the first doctoral dissertation (1983) done on Father Andre Seumois, OMI. Click here for the PDF version.

This article of Marcello Zago has appeared in the June 2012 issue of Ecumenical Trends. click here to view BONDING PROCLAMATION, ECUMENISM AND DIALOGUE

Mary & Unity

Mary and Mission:  Not Only for December 8, 2019.

Very Rev. Louie Lougen’s insights for the feast of the Immaculate Conception, Dec. 8, 2019, are even more needed as we cope with the corona virus and racism.  Click Here to learn More

Rolheiser on Mary of Scripture and Mary of Devotions (June 25, 2018)

There’s an axiom that says: Roman Catholics tend to adore Mary while Protestants and Evangelicals tend to ignore Mary. Neither is ideal.
Click Here to learn more

Cardinal Newman’s Import Way for Non-Catholics to appreciate Mary.  (2018)

During our May 22-30, 2018 Novena to Our Lady of Pontmain, here at Immaculate Heart of Mary Residence, Tewksbury, MA, the homilist on May 23, Father Frank Demers, OMI, reminded us of Cardinal Newman’s original and most important distinction between faith and devotion.  Click Here to learn more

100 Years of Mary at Fatima:  Eamon Carrol Rosary Story

The apparitions of Mary at Fatima, on the 13th of every month from May to October, 1917, very much influenced Catholic life. Pope Francis’ recent visit (May 12-13) attracted a great deal of attention. Many non-Catholics witnessed the Miracle of the Sun, on Oct. 13, 1917. The Wikipedia article on the Miracle of the Sun has a notice that “the neutrality of this article is disputed.”  Click Here to learn more

“Mary (Stands) Under the Cross” (Ron Rolheiser) (April 1, 2015)

One of the most popular images in all of scripture (an icon that’s been endlessly painted, sung, put into litanies, written up into poetry, and used to triggered every kind of pious feeling) is the image of Mary, the mother of Jesus, standing silently under the cross as her son dies.  Click Here to learn more

Mary ponders.  (2016)

The church has found many reasons to mark the importance of today’s feast. Aside from marking the calendar’s turn to the new year, an appropriate time for prayer and thanksgiving, this day is also the eighth day after the birth of Christ.  Click Here to learn more

Official Page of Our Lady of the Snows, Belleville, IL.  Click Here


Our Lady of Hope 150th

150th Anniversary of the Apparition of Our Lady of Pontmain

January 17, 2021 was the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the apparition of Our Lady to four children in Pontmain, France.    Click Here to learn more

Click Here for the Official Page of the Shrine of Our Lady of Pontmain

Mary, Evangelist and Ecumenist

When one looks at the New Testament, St. Paul is the outstanding missionary. But a story told by Cardinal Leo Suenens (1904-96) shows that Mary has a vital role too. Suenens reminds us that the Three Wise Men found Jesus in the arms of His Mother. Then Suenens asks “Who are the Three Wise Men Today?” He responded: “Let one be the Bishop of Rome, another the Patriarch of Constantinople, and the third, the Archbishop of Canterbury, representing the Anglican and Protestant Churches. Where will they find the Christ whom they seek together?   Still in the arms of His Mother.”

On this page we will do two things. First is a message of Mary at one of the many places she has appeared.   This will change about every six months. Second are ongoing developments in Mary’s role in Evangelization and Ecumenism.

Video below explains how Our Lady of the Snows journeyed from Rome to Belleville, Illinois.

Our Lady of Hope The message of Mary at Pontmain, France, on Jan. 17, 1871, is that of Hope as she shows a blood-red crucifix. Oblates of Mary are especially interested in this apparition because one of the children to whom Mary appeared, Joseph Barbedette, OMI, (1860-1930), became an Oblate. The Oblates administered the shrine for many years. We still have a retreat center next to the shrine.

The website of Our Lady of Pontmain ( has a very developed section in English because English Catholics discovered the shrine, which is close to the English channel, and now visit it in large numbers.

There are two very interesting signs that Mary is bringing Christians together, to make us better evangelists. First is the Ecumenical Society of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the second, the statement of “Evangelicals and Catholics Together” on Mary.

Founded in 1967, the Ecumenical Society of the Blessed Virgin Mary-USA (there is also one in the United Kingdom) has done much to bring main-line Protestant Churches, and the Catholic Church closer together on Mary’s place in Christian Unity. See the website

The movement “Evangelicals and Catholics Together” has done more in the area of joint evangelization with Evangelical Protestants. Their statement “Do Whatever He Tells You” (2009) agrees that Mary is “the first to give faith’s assent” to Jesus, and that she “is powerfully pertinent to our time.” The entire statement may be googled.

Pope Francis

Muslim Response to Pope Francis Visit (3/10/21)

ROME – Pope Francis’s recent trip to Iraq will undoubtably have a lasting impact on the country in ways that only time will tell, however, in the immediate aftermath, a few significant developments can already be seen. Click Here to learn more

Aposolic Journey of his Holiness Pope Francis to Iraq (3/5/21 – 3/8/21)

This blessed place brings us back to our origins, to the sources of God’s work, to the birth of our religions. Here, where Abraham our father lived, we seem to have returned home. It was here that Abraham heard God’s call; it was from here that he set out on a journey that would change history. We are the fruits of that call and that journey. God asked Abraham to raise his eyes to heaven and to count its stars (cf. Gen 15:5). In those stars, he saw the promise of his descendants; he saw us. Today we, Jews, Christians and Muslims, together with our brothers and sisters of other religions, honour our father Abraham by doing as he did: we look up to heaven and we journey on earth. Click Here to learn more

Pope Francis and Charismatics join Evangelization, Christian Unity and Service of the Poor (2019)

When Pope Francis joined 6,000 people in Rome on June 8 for the launch on Pentecost eve of a new Vatican body to serve the 115 million charismatic Catholics around the world, they made sure to perform his favorite Latin-American “praise” song, “Vive Jesús el Señor” (“The Lord Jesus lives”) (pp 18-23) . Click Here to learn more

Pope and Orthodox Patriarchs Pray Together

Pope Francis on Saturday denounced the “murderous indifference” that has allowed violence to consume the Middle East and drive tens of thousands of Christians from their homes, calling out global powers for seeking power and profit at the expense of the region’s people during a remarkable gathering of Orthodox patriarchs and Catholic leaders. Click here to learn more

Vatican National Catholic Reporter columnist on the Pope’s Visit to Geneva (2018)

June 21 one-day trip is being styled as an ‘ecumenical pilgrimage’ Click Here to learn more

Further Insights on the Pope’s Visit (2018)

Pope Francis Visit to Geneva, update
The French Catholic magazine La Croix International published an interview of a World Council of Churches (WCC) leader on May 31, to update their readers on Pope Francis’ June 21 visit. Pastor Martin Robra, co-secretary of the mixed working group between the World Council of Churches and the Catholic Church, “credits Pope Francis with ushering in a new springtime for ecumenism.” This working group, set up in 1965, is the answer to the continually discussed challenge of the Catholic Church formally joining the WCC. Click Here to learn more

Pope Francis and 50th Anniversary of Catholic Charismatic Movement (2017)

Click Here to learn more

Pope Francis updates: January 25, 2017
Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Encountering Jesus on the road to Damascus radically transformed the life of Saint Paul. Henceforth, for him, the meaning of life would no longer consist in trusting in his own ability to observe the Law strictly, but rather in cleaving with his whole being to the gracious and unmerited love of God: to Jesus Christ, crucified and risen. Paul experienced the inbreaking of a new life, life in the Spirit. By the power of the risen Lord, he came to know forgiveness, confidence and consolation. Nor could Paul keep this newness to himself. He was compelled by grace to proclaim the good news of the love and reconciliation that God offers fully in Christ to all humanity. Click Here to learn more

Finnish January 17, 2017

I joyfully welcome all of you, members of the Ecumenical Delegation, who have come as pilgrims from Finland to Rome on the occasion of the feast of Saint Henrik. I thank the Lutheran Bishop of Turku for his kind words… in Spanish! For more than thirty years, it has been a fine custom for your pilgrimage to take place during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which calls us to draw closer to one another anew through conversion. True ecumenism is based on a shared conversion to Jesus Christ as our Lord and Redeemer. If we draw close to him, we draw close also to one another. During these days let us pray more fervently to the Holy Spirit so that we may experience this conversion which makes reconciliation possible. Click Here to learn more

Pope Francis on Vatican II (2015)

When Pope Francis announced the Jubilee of Mercy, on April 11, 2015, he spent two long paragraphs
describing his view of Vatican II. Consider prayerfully the following… Click Here to learn more

Pope Francis Triple Play (2015)

In baseball, a triple play is rare. It occurs when the team in the field can eliminate three opponents in one play, and that team
wins the inning. They may not win the game, but it certainly helps. Click Here to learn more

Pope Francis’ Letter, “The Joy of the Gospel”, and Ecumenism

In over fifty years of studying papal documents, I have never come across one as unique as Pope Francis’ Apostolic Letter, The Joy of the Gospel. Here I hope to sketch its importance in our search for unity with other Christians. In a future article, I hope to indicate its ground breaking value in our dialogue with our Jewish older brothers and sisters. Click Here to learn more

Pope Francis Meets US Televangelists (7/9/2014)

(RNS) “The prosperity gospel seems to be fundamentally opposed to the message that Francis has been spreading. But he has shown that he’s willing to meet with just about anyone,” said Michael Peppard, a professor of theology at Fordham University. Click Here to learn more

Pope Francis: The Miracle of unity has Begun – God will Finish It! (3/1/2014)

Pope of a New World (10/1/2013)

Jorge Mario Bergorglio Francis The Council Fathers knew that being open to modern culture meant religious ecumenism and dialogue with non-believers. But afterwards very little was done in that direction. I have the humility and ambition to want to do something.” Pope Francis to Eugenio Scalfari, editor of La Repubblica, Oct. 1, 2013.

Personal contact is so important for Christian unity. Pope John Paul II’s personal contact with Jewish people during his youth and his friendship with Billy Graham; and Pope Benedict XVI’s contact with Lutherans during his military service, have shown us that all ecumenism begins at home.

An article in the evangelical magazine Christianity Today quotes Argentinian evangelicals’ view of Pope Francis as “Answer to Our Prayers” (3/14/2013, website only). He “played a central role in Argentina’s CRECES (Renewal Communion of Catholics and Evangelicals in the Holy Spirit) movement over the past 10 years.”

Regarding the Eastern Orthodox, on Wednesday, March 20, the day after his inauguration, he received several dozen representatives of the various Christian Churches and other world religions who had attended. Vatican Radio, on its website, showed him embracing Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, and calling him “My brother Andrew,” after the Apostle Andrew, who is venerated as the founding apostle of Constantinople. Bartholomew was the only one to accompany Francis to the tomb of St.Peter the day before. Vatican Radio also reproduced the text of his discourse on March 20, in which Pope Francis assured his listeners of his “firm wish to continue on the path of ecumenical dialogue.”

In his inspiring inaugural homily, he asked the help of all to “protect the whole of creation, to protect each person, especially the poorest.”

May Christians see more than ever the need we have of each other to accomplish this.

Pope Benedict gave Pope Francis an unexpected legacy in Christian Unity. Click here for the photo and one page summary from the latest edition of Foreign Affairs. My thanks to Seamus Finn OMI for sending me this item.


Inspiring Letter of Pope Francis to Families (12/26/21)

In this “Amoris Laetitia Family” Year, I am writing to express my deep affection and closeness to you at this very special time. Families have always been in my thoughts and prayers, but especially so during the pandemic, which has severely tested everyone, especially the most vulnerable among us. The present situation has made me want to accompany with humility, affection, and openness each individual, married couple and family in all those situations in which you find yourselves. Click Here to learn more

Migrant Ministry to Hmong in the USA: Fr. Umberto Nespolo, OMI

From 1977 to mid 1980 there were about 12,000 Hmong immigrants living in Fresno CA. Beside Hmong Animism, Catholicism was the primary faith among the Hmong hence the works of the Missionaries in Laos (Oblates and MEP Missions Étrangères de Paris).
Click Here to learn more

Madeleine Delbrel and Oblate Father Jean Guegen (2016)

Father Jean Gueguen, OMI, died yesterday, May 24, in the 96 year of his life. For 20 years, he was at Pontmain. In the beginning he was named vice-postulator for the cause of beatification of Madeleine Delbrel, in 1993 by Bishop Francois Fretelliere. Click here to learn more

Cardinal van Balthazar and Others on Madeleine Delbrel (2011)

Madeleine Delbrêl, the French laywoman who at the age of seventeen penned a remarkably lucid atheist manifesto entitled “God is dead . . . Long live death!”1 knew the pitiless suffering of the world of unbelief. In 1960, shortly before her death, she would describe what she held to be the most “profound misfortune” that can befall a man: “The inner support that holds all things in being crumbles from within . . . and all things are swallowed up in nothingness.”2 Click Here to learn more

Latest from America magazine on Madeleine Debrel, thanks to LauraRose Paradis (4/24/20)

Click to learn more.

Delbrel and French Oblates (5/28/19)

On Jan. 26, 2018, Pope Francis declared Madeleine Delbrel venerable, setting this woman who has been called the Dorothy Day of France, on the first step to canonization. Click Here to learn more

Pope Francis regarding the need for expanding the relationship of the clergy to the laity, in his Letter to Priests for the Feast of St. John Vianney, Aug. 4, 2019: “Our people have a ‘nose’ for things. They sniff out, discover, new paths to make; they have the sensus fidei (the sens of the faithful, citing Vatican II’s Constitution on the Church, 12). What could be more beautiful than this? Jesus Himself is the model of this evangelizing option that leads us to the heart of our people.”

Brother Pat McGee, OMI and I were able to attend, on Jan. 5, the fantastic exhibit “Martin Luther: Art and the Reformation,” which ran at the Minneapolis, MN Institute of Art from Oct. 15, 2016 – Jan. 16, 2017. Not only were Luther’s insights dependent on the invention by layman Johannes Gutenberg of the printing press, but at the end of the exhibit were a display of small hourglasses. The docent told us with a smile that the sermons by the first reformers could be very long. So a layperson was authorized to watch the hourglass and when the promised time was over, to declare the sermon by the clergy ended.

Lisa Hunke Recommendation (this lay youth minister’s reflection for Advent applies to any season of the year). Thank you, Lisa, for forwarding it Click here to learn more

2018 Servant of God Madeleine Delbrel’s writings

Click Here to learn more

Spiritual Reading for Family-Laity

There are two classics about the Family and Laity written by clergy, and one written by an English layman. St. Francis de Sales’ Introduction to the Devout Life is required reading by any lay person wanting to progress in the spiritual life. Fr. Eugene Boylan (1904-64)’s This Tremendous Lover has been issued in several editions; the original hardcover has an excellent reading list.

Donald Nicholl (1923-97),, an Englishman who was a close friend of Mother Teresa, taught in the US for many years, and wrote Holiness in 1981, second edition 1987. Fr. Richard McBrien praised it highly.

Trail-breaking Vatican Document regarding the importance of the Laity

In 2014, Pope Francis approved the text of the International Theological Commission “Sensus Fidei in the Life of the Church.” In many ways it is revolutionary. But rather than breaking totally new ground, it recovers the importance of the laity in proposing what we believe. No longer are church leaders to consider the laity as simply praying, obeying and paying. In the early church, and in different historical periods, the consent and leadership of the laity was critical in passing on the teachings of Jesus.

The text is 53 pages, with about 3 more of footnotes. If you find it hard reading at the beginning, I recommend going to #’s 44-74, or 85. One might begin with the conclusion: #127. Click Here to learn more

Laity and Oblate Spirituality

Third Year of the Oblate Triennium:
Mission, Vow of Obedience and Evangelii Gaudium
Click Here to learn more

What about the Single Vocation

Click Here to learn more

  1. Our thanks to Lisa Hunke for forwarding JEff Cavins’ article “A Road Map for New Evangelization”. The Pastoral Letter from Bishop Paul Loverde, which they highly recommend and include, means a great deal to Oblates of Mary. Bishop Loverde spent a great deal of time as a youngster at Holy Angels Parish, Buffalo, NY, conducted by the Oblates. And he invited me to celebrate at First Mass in the chapel of the North American College, Rome, Italy, with and my parents and himself, on Dec. 26, 1964.

Lisa Hunke also recommends New Evangelization Ministries. Click Here

During the unprecedented time of world peace and relative prosperity following the end of World War II in 1945, it has become evident and urgent that Mission (Evangelization), Ecumenism, and Dialogue need to be rethought with the Family and Laity as both the main subjects and objects. Pope Francis is pushing this, culminating in his analysis of the two synods on the Family, when he writes: “The family lives its spirituality precisely by being at one and the same time a domestic church and a vital cell for transforming the world” (Amoris Laetitia, #324; see also 200, 201)

One of our young Polish Oblate missiologists stated this during the Oblate Charism Convocation of August 2015, when he wrote about “a field of mission in accompanying families, which are training sites for becoming gift, schools of deeper humanity” Click here for 3 pp. document.

Besides Lisa Hunke’s items on Catechists and Faith Formation teachers (Click here for the first), we will also present the accomplishments of catechists in Third World countries.

There have been some significant developments in our understanding of “sensus fidei” — how does the understanding of the faithful laity affect the entire Church? With Pope Francis pushing hard against clericalism, this is especially important. More on this in future updates.

Eucharistic Hospitality

Explanation of German Bishops on Eucharistic Hospitality

From its early days the Association of Interchurch Families has been curious about the situation of interchurch families in other countries and over time links have been established with similar families, groups and associations in other parts of the world. Click Here to learn more

One Bread, one Body: Further Reflections: (1999)

Although Published in 1999, by Our good Friend Ruth Reardon, for the Association of Interchurch Families in England, the Article is still very relevant: Click Here to learn more

Ron Rolheiser, OMI, on Communion with Protestants: What Makes for Christian Communion? (2019)

The question of intercommunion within our churches today is a big one, an important one, and a painful one. I’m old enough to remember another time, actually to remember two other times. Click Here to learn more

July 20, 2019: 50th Anniversary of Buzz Aldrin and Communion on the Moon. Click Here to learn more

Father John Crossin, OSFS, the outgoing Executive Director of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, wrote in the June issue of Ecumenical Trends (pp. 2/82-3/83) that we should give more attention to “an ongoing relationship (e.g. a sacramental marriage) rather than the current emphasis on episodic events” for increasing Eucharistic hospitality.

He noted that this consideration would give rise to improving the approach of the 1993 Vatican Ecumenical Directory.

Two Authorities Lessen the Rigidity Against Eucharistic Hospitality

Father Thomas Rausch, SJ, recently observed that under Pope Benedict, the first principle of the Eucharist as a sign of unity “almost completely eclipsed the second,” the Eucharist as a means of grace. “While intercommunion depends on formal relationships between churches, Eucharistic hospitality is personal, occasionally welcoming those non-Catholic Christians who share a Eucharistic faith and want to live in communion with us” (Ecumenical Trends 46 [April, 2017,4] 10/58.

The cardinal in charge of interpreting authoritative statements, Francesco Coccopalmerio, wrote that the competent authority for deciding if Catholics in irregular marital situations can receive Communion, is the parish priest, consulting if necessary with the bishop (Gerard O’Connell, ” ‘Amoris’ opens the door to Communion for Catholics in irregular unions,” America, March 20, 2017, p. 17). Until now, most believed it had to be the bishop who made such decisions.

For the story and photo of Rev. Martin Reardon (Anglican) and Dr. Ruth Reardon (RC) and their influence in this matter, see the click on within the January, 2016 Eucharistic sharing article on the home page.

Archbishop Hebda and Eucharistic Hospitality

During his presentation of Jan. 22, 2017, at Central Lutheran Church, Minneapolis, MN, (described on our home page), Archbishop Hebda explainedhow he had visited the exposition on Luther and the Arts, at the Minneapolis Institute of Art on Jan. 2. He related that his docent was a Lutheran woman married to a Roman Catholic, who told him how difficult it was for her to be denied Communion when she attended Mass with her husband. Hebda said very clearly “We have to work on this.”

Update, October 1st. 2015. Ron Rolhieser, OMI, Column for April 26th 2015 : Praying for Other Christians Click Here to learn more

Convergence of Protestant Sunday Worship with Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Worship

For Eucharistic Ministers, and All Christians Concerned about Sharing in the Lord’s Supper/Eucharist

On July 20, 1969, a Presbyterian elder, Buzz Aldrin, celebrated the first Communion service on the moon. It was actually the first liquid poured and food eaten on the moon. Many Christians found this surprising; Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox have a Sunday Eucharist, but what were Presbyterians doing carrying the consecrated species to the moon?

The amazing truth is that all Christian Churches have been converging regarding the importance of the Sunday Lord’s Supper, and its twofold form of the Table of the Word and the Table of the Sacrament. This fact should influence the hospitality which especially Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox show to members of other Churches when they participate in the Lord’s Supper.

For Roman Catholics, the blunt reality was stated in the Decree on Ecumenism, #8: the fact that common worship should signify the unity of the Church generally rules out common worship; the gaining of a needed grace sometimes commends it. Note the word is “commends,” not “tolerate,” or “allow.”

Since these two almost contradictory principles were first stated in 1964, the convergence of practice and belief regarding the Lord’s Supper has been remarkable. Cardinal Ratzinger, at the funeral of Pope John Paul, extended the Eucharist to the Protestant members of the Taize Community. John Paul II had done the same thing with Taize members earlier.

For a complete treatment, please click here for Ecumenical Trends, Sept. 2013, p. 14/126.

The article below, even though published in 1970, is unfortunately more relevant than ever.
THE EUCHARIST: Ecumenical Preaching

LIMITED INTERCOMMUNION probably will not be allowed by the hierarchy in the immediate near future” (The American Ecclesiastical Review, CLXIII. [Dec . 1970]. 389). Few, especially the author, expected these words to he qualified so quickly. The “Instruction Concerning Cases When Other Christians May Be Admitted to Eucharistic Communion in the Catholic Church, issued on June 1, 1972, by the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity is another cautious and noteworthy step by the Holy See in promoting Eucharistic hospitality with Protestants. Click Here to learn more

Preaching Ecumenically on the Eucharist

“In THIS ECUMENICAL business, we Catholics have been the only ones to give in. The Protestants haven’t budged an inch.” One hears such observations rather frequently, and it does seem true in certain matters. For example, some new Catholic churches have carried the advice of the Constitution on the Liturgy regarding statues (#125) to such an extreme that a bareness reminiscent of older Protestant churches has set in. Click Here to learn more




Eastern Christianity

International Eucharistic Congress Features Russian Orthodox Speaker (9/6/21)

A Russian Orthodox leader said on Monday that belief in Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist unites Catholics and Eastern Orthodox believers despite their divisions. Click Here to learn more Follow on Facebook

Virus and Sharing the Eucharist with the Eastern Orthodox (5/25/20)

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Pope Francis March 27 characterized the worldwide trauma as: “God’s call on people to judge what is most important to them and resolve to act accordingly from now on.” Can this occasion also be a time of deeper communion among us? Click here to learn more

For the Life of the World Document

Introduction to the Eastern Orthodox Statement ‘For the life of the World’ (5/16/20)

Editor’s Note: Aristotle Papanikolaou is professor of theology, the Archbishop Demetrios Chair of Orthodox Theology and Culture, and the Co-Director of the Orthodox Christian Studies Center at Fordham University. He is also Senior Fellow at the Emory University Center for the Study of Law and Religion. Click Here to learn more

For the life of the World Document

The Orthodox Church understands the human person as having been created in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26). To be made in God’s image is to be made for free and conscious communion and union with God in Jesus Christ, inasmuch as we are formed in, through, and for him (Colossians 1:16). Click Here to learn more

For the Ecumenical Trends October issue explaining the Life of the World document (2020)

It is just our personal calling, but our corporate destiny, through our participation in the community of Christ’s body, to enter into union with God. Therefore, our spiritual lives cannot fail also to be social lives. Click Here to learn more

Eastern Christians and the Laity (2019)

The North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation has released a new agreed statement entitled, The Vocation and Mission of the People of God: “A Chosen Race, a Royal Priesthood, a Holy Nation”. The document was finalized at the most recent meeting of the Consultation which took place in late May of this year at the Saint Methodios Faith and Heritage Center in Contoocook, New Hampshire. Click Here to learn more

For Pope Francis to the Ecumenical Delegation of the Patriarch of Constantinople, (June 28, 2019)

I offer a cordial greeting and a warm welcome to you, the distinguished members of the Delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate whom my beloved brother Bartholomew and the Holy Synod have sent on the occasion of the Solemnity of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul. Your presence manifests the solid bonds existing between the Churches of Rome and Constantinople, and our common effort to journey towards the fullness of communion for which we long, in obedience to the clear will of Jesus (cf. Jn 17:21). The feast of Saints Peter and Paul, which falls on the same day in the liturgical calendars of East and West, invites us to renew the charity that generates unity. Click Here to learn more

Also see June 28th, 2021

I greet you with joy and I welcome you with affection to Rome for the Solemnity of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul. I thank Metropolitan Emmanuel for his kind and brotherly words. This annual exchange of delegations between the Church of Rome and that of Constantinople for the feasts of our respective Patrons is a sign of the communion – real, albeit not yet full – which we already share. Click Here to learn more

Fundamentalism and Eastern Christianity: The following item contains some good data about current developments withing the Eastern Orthodox Church. however, the item is written by Protestant Fundamentalists, and they insert some very harmful interpretations of the data. Most of our readers will see the slanting; you are welcome to contact me if you have questions. Click Here to learn more

Christian Churches in the Ukraine; halfway down, see other items on a common date for Easter, joint meeting of Putin and Trump, etc: (2018)
(My thanks to Fr. Dan Nassaney, OMI, for providing this and the item below) Click Here to learn more

In this file photo taken May 25, 2010, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople left, and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill tour the Kremlin durig a meeting i Maoscow, Russia (Dmitry Astakhov, Sputnik, Government Pool Photo via AP, file)

For Story of June 27, 2918 attached to the photo on the right:

Within the span of a week, Pope Francis met with the spiritual head of Eastern Orthodoxy, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, and the representatives of the Russian Orthodox Patriarchate of Moscow. Click Here to learn more

The Sign of the Cross Unites Eastern Christians with US (2017)

At midday today, the Holy Father Francis received in audience the members of the Joint Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Assyrian Church of the East. The following is the Pope’s address to those present: Click Here to learn more

Two recent developments

  • First, we have two interesting descriptions of the Great and Holy Council (see third paragraph below). Martin Marty, who maintains a blog at the University of Chicago, where he teaches, put it this way: “A Holy and Small Great Council” (July 5, 2016).
    But Archdeacon John Chryssavgis, theological advisor to Patriarch Bartholowmew, writing in the Melkite journal Sophia, noted: “The Holy and Great Council is entirely without precendant in the history of Christianity” (Summer, 2016, p.19).
  • Secondly, a very interesting article by Ms. Rosanna Rodriguez, a member of the Ecumenical Commission of the Archdiocese of Newark, NJ, “An Ecclesiology of Rapprochment: Catholic and Oriental Orthodox Churches as Sister Churches,” Ecumenical Trends 46, #5 (May 2017): 5/69, quotes Fr. Robert Taft, S.J.: “This new ‘Sister Churches’ designation represents a startling revolution in how the Catholic Church views itself. We Catholics are no longer the only one, whole, true Church of Christ, but one sister Church among others” emphasis in original in Worship, “In faith and Worship Can Orthodox and Catholics ever be One?” 89, #1 (Jan. 2015:5).

Chrysostom: Our Common Ground, as Greek Orthodox and Melkites Cooperate in the USA: (Please scroll down to page 30) (2017)

I am writing this message from our west coast Cathedral of St Anne in California, having arrived here on 3 January hoping to make pastoral visits to all the west coast communities and a few possible new outreaches in Las Vegas NV, Portland OR, Mission Viejo, CA, and Bakersfield, CA. Click Here to learn more (need to link)spring newsletter (large file)

November 30th message of Pope Francis to Patriarch Bartholomew. Especially for the Patriarch at Asisi. (2016)

At the end of his General Audience on Wednesday, Pope Francis greeted the church of Constantinople, and the “beloved Patriarch Bartholomew” on the occasion of the Feast of the Apostle St Andrew, traditionally held to be the founder of the See of Byzantium, which later became the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Click Here to learn more

Bartholomew, Patriarch of Constantinople, and Ieronymos II, Archbishop of Athens and All Greece, left the Great and Holy Synod of Orthodoxy, June 17-26, on Crete, and proceeded to Rome, where the Patriarch has either personally or through a high representative, attended the Feast of Sts Peter and Paul, June 29. (On November 30, the Feast of St. Andrew, Rome reciprocates with a delegation to Constantinople). Pope Francis’ moving address to the Orthodox delegation. Click Here to learn more

The presence of the Archbishop of Athens is especially noteworthy. St. John Paul II had wanted to visit the Greek Orthodox Church, but because of the ancient hostility towards Roman Catholicism, he received an invitation only from the President of Greece. The archbishop was notably absent during John Paul’s visit of May, 2001, but his attitude changed remarkably, when during that visit, John Paul asked God to pardon the sins of Roman Catholicism towards Orthodoxy during the last millennium.

The presence of Ieronymos, successor of the archbishop of 2001, is very noteworthy, and marks a great progress in Christian Unity

The absence of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia did hamper the Synod on Crete. But much was still accomplished. For the official English final document, called an Encyclical.

The offer by Pope Francis to give up our date for Easter and use the date of the Eastern Orthodox Churches (Click Here to learn more)

2015 Letters Orientale Conference, June 15-18 (for 2013 Conference, scroll to the bottom of this page)

It was my privilege last week June 15-18, 2015 to participate again this year in the Orientale Lumen Conference in Washington, DC. The theme was: The Bishop of Rome: Past, Present and Future. Click Here to learn more

Ron Roberson CPS, The Eastern Christian Churches, A Brief Survey (Washington, D.C. U.S.A. Catholic Conference 7th ed. 2008) is available in paperback for $19.95; For Roberson explains lucidly the complexity of Eastern Christianity.

To experience Holy Week in a Russian Orthodox setting is unforgettable. As we approach Easter this year, the following article may be helpful. Please Click Here to view the article

There are two tendencies to avoid as we witness to the love of Jesus. One tendency is described in the very short article below by Catholic missiologist/ecumenists Stephen Bevans, SVD, and Roger Schroeder, SVD, as they review Ralph Martin’s book Will Many Be Saved? Martin wants to restore to our witness the wrath of God and the narrowness of salvation which he thinks Vatican II neglected. Your reaction to Bevans and Schroeder’s rejection of this is welcome. Click Here to learn more

PopeFrancisHolylandLogoThe words on the picture to the right are Latin and Greek for “So that they may be one,” from St. John’s Gospel 17:21. The explanation given on the official website: “This is to commemorate and renew the commitment to unity expressed by Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras of Constantinople 50 years ago in Jerusalem.”

Very importantly, for all Christians, the authors continue: “This gives expression to the desire of the Lord at the Last Supper: ‘I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one (bold in original)….so that the world may believe that you sent me'” (20-21).

The authors then explain the symbolism: The two brothers, Peter and Andrew are “the first two disciples called by Jesus in Galilee. Saint Peter is the patron of the Church in Rome and Saint Andrew is the patron of the Church in Constantinople. In Jerusalem, in the Mother Church, they embrace. The two apostles are in a boat that represents the Church, whose mast is the Cross of the Lord. The sails of the boat are full of wind, the Holy Spirit, which directs the boat as it sails across the waters of this world.”


PopeandPatriach After both kissed the tomb where Jesus lay, they proceeded to the adjacent chapel. The Gospel account of the Resurrection of Jesus from John was chanted in Greek, and the Patriarch gave his address in English. He cited Jo. 17:21 in Latin (which the official translation doesn’t notice). His address deserves to be carefully studied, especially his rejection of religious fanaticism and fear of the other.

The Gospel account of the Resurrection from Matthew was read in Latin next, and the Pope gave his address in Italian, including in Greek the Easter greeting “Christos anesti!” (Christ is risen).

It seemed that each went out of his way to praise the Church of the other. When Bartholomew finished his address and returned to his chair next to Francis, Francis reached for his hand, kissed it and then Bartholomew bent over and warmly embraced him. When Francis finished his address, Bartholomew stood and embraced him warmly.

It was evident that the 77 year old Francis was having difficulty rising and going down steps; the 74 year old Bartholomew assisted him. As I watched the live broadcast, the example of these two leaders was even more expressive than their startling addresses.

Their two addresses and their Common Declaration are being thoroughly examined by Christians, Jews, Moslems, People of Other Faiths, and All People of Good Will. As the authors of the Motto and Logo express it: “the unity of Christians is a message of unity for all humanity, called to overcome the divisions of the past and march forward together towards a future of justice, peace, reconciliation and fraternal love.”

So the Common Declaration of May 25 states that in a time “marked by violence, indifference and egoism, many men and women today feel that they have lost their bearings. It is precisely through our common witness to the good news of the Gospel that we may be able to help the people of our time to rediscover the way that leads to truth, justice and peace” (#9). Click here for the Common Declaration.

As committed Christians, we know that Christ is the only way. True to the New Evangelization, we do not hit people over the heads with that truth.

Oblates of Mary note how the Common Declaration and the Address of Pope Francis conclude by commending us to Mary.

The Pope and Patriarch met four times during the weekend visit. The scheduled one from 6:15-7 on May 25 went 45 minutes longer. So we will continue in future items to examine this most crucial development for New Evangelization, Ecumenism and Dialogue.

No one knows how long the official website with all the addresses, with photos, and with so much material on the background of the trip, will stay posted.

Polish Oblate Bishop helps Ukrainians and Russians live together

STATEMENT OF THE ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP IN CRIMEA Since many weeks now the Roman Catholic Church with her prayers accompany whole of Ukraine praying for the peaceful solution of the problems, which the country is struggling with. In our prayers we ask God for his mercy for all Ukrainian people and we also offer voluntary fasting on bread and water in the same intention. Today when the unrest has encompassed the Crimean territory we want to pray especially for our peninsula. With our prayer we reach out to all the people without concern for their religion, political views or ethnic background. We pray that the people, who for tens of years live in peace – do not start fighting today and that the bloodshed of the kind we have seen in Kiev Maidan may be avoided here. I am calling on all the people both faithful and the others that in the name of the solidarity with the heritage of our Fathers, who cared for the development of our Autonomous Republic of Crimea, to stay away from extremisms and in this hard time do not let the brotherhood among Crimean people to be broken. In ARoC we have Ukrainians, Russians, Crimean Tartars, Armenians, Poles, Germans, Czechs and many others living peacefully together. For many centuries we had the Orthodox, Muslims, Protestants, Catholics, Jews, Caraims, people of other denominations together with atheists living in Crimea. We cannot let our ethnical background nor our religion to divide us now. We are children of the same God; the only God, who is our common Father. The motto of the Republic of Crimea which is inscribed into our coat of arms is „Процветание в единстве” (Blooming in unity) and may this words be our motto for the difficult time now. I would like to reach out with my words to the faithful of all denominations that they keep praying for peace, and those who has decided so keep voluntarily fasting. May the Good God free our hearts from all evil temptations and may he bless our good intentions.

+ Jacek Pyl, OMI Auxiliary Bishop of Odessa-Simferopol Diocese

Historic Statement of Aug. 17 between the Christians of Poland and Russia

Patriarch Kirill I (Cyril) of the Russian Orthodox Church (the largest of all the Eastern Orthodox Churches) and Archbishop Jozef Michalik, Chairman of the Bishops’ Conference of Poland, signed this emotional and historic statement of reconciliation, in Warsaw, Poland, on Aug. 17, 2012. Zenit has furnished the actual text, from the Vatican Radio translation. . Waclaw Hryniewicz OMI, an Oblate theologian who spent many years as a member of the Catholic-Orthodox International Dialogue, made the following reflection:

Personally I have devoted to the dialogue with the Orthodox more than forty years of my life. I am very glad and grateful that Polish and Russian hierarchs, Catholic and Orthodox, have taken this significant and concrete step towards reconciliation among our Churches and nations. But this is only the beginning. One has to work hard on it, to change the mentality of both clergy and lay people towards more openness, benevolence and mutual trust. It is not an easy task. Already there are opponents who reject this historic initiative. May God give us the courage to change what should be changed—our own minds and hearts.

(Father Hryniewicz made a marvelous presentation at the former Oblate Center for Mission Studies, Washington, DC, on March 20, 1995: “Contemporary Issues in the Dialogue between The Orthodox Church and The Roman Catholic Church.” George McLean OMI was the promoter of this meeting).

A short explanation form Ecumenical News International, with Pope Benedict’s praise of the Russian-Polish statement, follows here.

Russian, Polish churches sign reconciliation agreement
By Sophia Kishkovsky, 20 August 2012

(ENInews). Patriarch Kirill I of the Russian Orthodox Church and Roman Catholic Archbishop Jozef Michalik of Przemysl signed in Warsaw on 17 August a statement of reconciliation meant to overcome historical and religious differences and focus on the churches’ common stance on traditional values.

Kirill’s 16-19 August visit was the first to Poland by a head of the Russian church.

The document referred to a shared experience of totalitarianism, saying it is something that can bring the nations together.

Although not referred to specifically, relations between the two countries were strained over the 1940 Katyn massacre in southwest Russia in which Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin’s secret police killed thousands of Polish army officers and intelligentsia. At the time, the Soviet government ascribed it to Nazi Germany. In the post-Soviet era, Russia refused to call the Katyn massacre a crime or acknowledge its scale.

The text of the churches’ memorandum called on Russians and Poles to forgive, but not to forget, saying that historians and specialists must continue to search for “un-falsified historic truth.”

“We call on our faithful to ask forgiveness for the hurt they have caused one another, for the injustice and all evil. We believe that this is the first and most important step to the restoration of mutual trust without which there can be neither a strong human community nor true reconciliation,” said the document.

The memorandum has been compared to a 1965 letter sent by Polish bishops to their German counterparts that paved the way for improved relations after the atrocities of the Second World War.

“To forgive means to reject revenge and hatred,” states the memorandum, which adds that Russian and Polish Christians can created a united front against the moral challenges of the secular.

In a greeting to Polish pilgrims at his summer residence at Castel Gandolfo near Rome on 19 August, Pope Benedict XVI described the reconciliation statement as “an important event, which gives us hope for the future” and expresses “the desire to cultivate the fraternal union and to collaborate in spreading Gospel values in the world today,” the Vatican website reported.
Source: ENI (which has been taken down)

Melkites and Oblates of Mary: Help

The Eastern Church which descends from Antioch with Byzantine/Greek heritage, including an Arabic dimension, and is in union with Rome, is the Melkite Church. The current Patriarch, Gregory III Laham, is known to many Oblates from his days as a student priest in our International (Roman) Scholasticate, when he was Lufti Laham (1959-61). Part of his responsibility then was to provide Divine Liturgy for the 7 seminarians of his order, the Basilians of the Holy Savior, who lived with the Oblates and studied at the Gregorian University.

The editor is attempting to find out what happened to these seminarians and three more who arrived in 1961. His classmate, Fr. Said Abboud, was tragically killed in the bombing of his church (Lebanon or Syria) in the 1980’s, but what has happened to the following is very difficult to learn, despite several attempts: Arsene (Sami Bechara) Dagher, Euthyme (Emile Rizcallah) Moussa, Elie Assaf, Nakle Makoul, Saba Fakouri, Georges Nachef, Georges Abou-Zeid, Adil Fakouri, and Jean Frejatte. Any information may be directed to the editor of this website.

Most people who view this website are Western Christians, i.e. belonging to a Church with its main roots in Western Europe or North America such as Protestant Churches and Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic Church. By Latin Rite, we mean those Catholics who used Latin at Mass until the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) encouraged the use of the vernacular. Although fewer in number than Latin Rite Catholics, Eastern Catholics (who do acknowledge the pope’s authority), and the Oriental and Eastern Orthodox Christians (who do not acknowledge the pope’s authority), have a rich and precious heritage which we Western Christians desperately need.

Pope John Paul II expressed it this way: “The church must breath with her two lungs” (That All May Believe, #54). We cannot be effective missionaries or witnesses to Jesus’ love, unless we have both the Eastern and Western lungs healthy and working together.

If you have a friend who belongs to one of the Eastern Churches ask them to take you to their worship. You will find a vital expression of Christianity which goes back to the earliest days of our faith.

Peter and Andrew
The icon of the brother apostles Peter and Andrew embracing, given to Pope Paul VI by Patriarch Athenagoras when they met in the Holy land in 1964. On display in the Vatican.

The Icon of Peter and Andrew embracing symbolizes the growing unity of the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches. Andrew, brother of Peter, is the patron of Constantinople; Peter of Rome. On the feast of St. Andrew (Nov. 30), each year a high papal representative travels to Constantinople to take part in the observance. On the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul (June 30), each year a high patriarchal representative travels to Rome to take part in the observance.

Let us join in prayer and action that all Christian Churches may converge without compromise for the sake of better witness to the message and person of Jesus Christ.


The Catholic Near East Welfare Association produces a remarkable magazine six times a year, ONE. The issue for September, 2010 (36, 5) is a marvelous summary of the religious and economic situation in each of the 11 countries of the Middle East and Jerusalem.

Annual Orientale Lumen Conference (XVII), Vision of a United Church, June 17-20, 2013, Washington, DC Retreat House

(I’m indebted to Dan Nassaney, a bi-ritual USA Oblate [Latin-Melkite] for his insightful summary).

The conference was excellent; the theme centered on steps toward a Reunited Church. Melkite Patriarch Gregory III (ed. Note: an old friend of the Oblates; he lived as a student priest in our International Scholasticate) sent an address, in which he described the efforts of Middle East Churches in Iraq, Egypt and Syria to work together and create Councils of Churches. The Patriarch quoted the newly chosen Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, John X, to a press conference: “We are very concerned with relations with the other Christian churches and we will work on this with our Muslim brothers in this county …I ask for the prayers and love of all, just as I ask for us to be as one hand in this country.“

Most of the presentations were excellent. The talks are available from Lumen Orientale in both CD and DVD form. I recommend especially those of Father Thomas FitzGerald, from Holy Cross Greek Orthodox College, Brookline, MA, (to better understand the real history of Catholic-Orthodox division) and Archimandrite Robert Taft, SJ, (for a candid and knowledgeable look at the state of Catholic-Orthodox ecumenical efforts).

If some conclusions can be drawn: our theological differences need not separate us. Modern theological and historical studies show that we are misunderstood more than divided. The theological differences no longer justify division.

Basic problems center on how Roman primacy may be of service to the Church and the use of authority and power in the various Churches. Catholic Church structures facilitate ecumenical decisions. The synodal character of the Orthodox union of Churches makes it more difficult to come to common decisions.

Ecumenical realities in the Middle East, where catholic and orthodox peoples and Churches have suffered under local governments, have progressed to common actions and recognitions. The home of the first Christian Churches is again leading the way and giving examples of mutual love.

This Conference is an excellent yearly meeting to not only learn what is happening and has occurred but also to grow personally, witness to the importance of Catholic-Orthodox ecumenism, and encourage our own local communities to commit to a reunited Church of East and West.

(When we had our national Oblate Convocation at Belleville, IL, April 15-19, 2013, Dan took a major part in the Interest Session on Christian Unity, which was held twice. At the end of the second session, Dan turned to Ron Rolheiser, who had also taken a major part, and urged Ron to look at the offerings of Oblate School of Theology, San Antonio, where Ron is the president, and see if Eastern Christianity has the part in all the courses which it should have. He also recommended that there be a chapel on the grounds for Eastern Christians.) Click Here to learn more