Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Victory in Massachusetts

Wow! A Republican won in the bluer than blue state of Massachusetts. I never thought I would see that happen; it may have truly been the people's seat, but for the last 40+ years, it was the Kennedy seat.

Brown's improbable victory highlights the discontent across America (though in this case as highlighted by the voters of the Bay State) on the economy, on our ever expansive government and on the government's attempt to nationalize 1/6 of the US Economy, the Health Care Industry.

Scott Brown is now the 41st Vote against Pelosi-Reid Care. Unless the House passes the Senate Bill (unlikely) or Reid goes nuclear in the Senate (Budget Reconciliation), the unmitigated disaster that is either the House or Senate Bills can be stopped. That means no more Louisiana Purchase ($300 million medicare carve-out for Mary Landrieu), no more Cornhusker Kickback (a special exemption for Nebraska on any increase in Medicaid), and the Union Bribe (Union "Cadillac" plans are exempt from a new 40% excise tax, but non-union plans aren't). He ran on that platform and was elected by the people of Massachusetts to stop this legislative travesty.

He ran on across-the-board tax cuts in the spirit of President John F. Kennedy. John F. Kennedy knew that an economy was stimulated by giving money back to its citizens, not by government spending.

He ran on a platform that called for an end to the ever burgeoning federal budget deficits and to belt-tightening in Washington (both parties should pay particular attention, since the GOP of the 2000s was nearly as spendthrift as Pelosi and Reid).

Like Bob McDonnell in Virginia, Scott Brown demonstrated to a Republican Party that is lost in the Wilderness, a road back to national prominence and success. The focus needs to be on jobs, economic freedom, and National Security. I'm not sure what the Republican party actually ran on in 2006 and 2008, but when you can't really tell the difference between the parties, one might as well go "all in".

Many commentators have asked if the Democrats and President Obama will listen to the result. I think a better question is will the Republicans.

1. The Democrats will not attempt a course-correction but will try to "damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead" with their far-left agenda.
2. The GOP will retake the House in the 2010 Midterms (that's going out on a ledge a bit because it calls for a significant capture of 40+ seats, but I think it can happen).
3. The GOP will capture a minimum of four Senate seats (I'm conservative here). I think Nevada, North Dakota (for sure), Arkansas, and Colorado will move Red. I think Delaware and Pennsylvania are strong possibilities as well and Indiana could be if Rep Mike Pence is serious about running. Connecticut, Illinois and California are really pipe dreams, but then, a week ago, so was Massachusetts. The Republicans most likely loss would be in New Hampshire (it's New England).

Monday, January 4, 2010

Milwaukee's New Archbishop

Bishop Jerome Edward Listecki was installed as Milwaukee's 11th Archbishop today. Archbishop Listecki will face a number of challenges in the coming years as he shepherds the Archdiocese and continues the task begun by Archbishop Dolan in repairing the damage done to the Church of SE Wisconsin by the former Archbishop Weakland. In that heavy task he faces a number of important challenges.

1. VOCATIONS -- While Ordinary of LaCrosse he greatly increased vocations to the priesthood and religious life. In fact the Diocese of LaCrosse had the same number of ordinations (five) as the much larger Archdiocese of Milwaukee. His task will be to continue the work of Archbishop Dolan in revitalizing the priesthood in Milwaukee. Archbishop Dolan made enormous progress in improving vocations within the area and Archbishop Listecki's will have to continue that work.

2. PRACTICAL THINGS -- Archbishop Dolan began an important capital campaign, Faith in our Future, that seeks to raise $105 million for the Archdiocese and its parishes. He will have to continue this campaign that will strengthen the finances of the Archdiocese. This campaign will also strengthen parochial schools and other Archdiocesan programs that serve the poor, the hungry, the sick, and the community of southeastern Wisconsin.

3. CLERICAL ABUSE -- The tenure of Archbishop Weakland was an unmitigated disaster when it comes to the shuffling of abusers and the hierarchy turning a blind eye to this sin. Archbishop Dolan began to heal those wounds and Archbishop Listecki will have to work to continue that healing. At the same time he must protect the Church and defend it from trial lawyers who smell blood in the water. The Wisconsin Legislature is even considering a law that will eliminate the statute of limitations for one year on clerical sexual abuse. This law would specifically target the Catholic Church with the goal of bankrupting the Church and silencing its voice. Archbishop Listecki will have to vociferously fight this challenge.

4. TEACHING -- Archbishop Listecki must be a Catholic Voice for southeastern Wisconsin. He has already begun to do this, by confronting the heterodox Catholics for Choice. He has had the courage in the past to speak about the Truth of the Catholic Faith and he must be that voice. He must be pastoral like Archbishop Dolan, but at other times he must be the shepherd like Bishop Tobin or Archbishop Chaput.

Rocco Palmo has excellent coverage on the Installation including his analysis that Archbishop Listecki was likely picked by Pope Benedict XVI personally for this position. If that is true, Milwaukee has truly been blessed.

The Catholic Herald of Milwaukee also has excellent coverage on Milwaukee's new Archbishop. He also has the text and some analysis on the homily of Milwaukee's new Archbishop which I include below:

Homily of the Most Reverend Jerome Edward Listecki

Eleventh Archbishop of Milwaukee

Mass of Installation

Cathedral of St John the Evangelist

Feast of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, 4 January 2010

Thank you to my family and friends for wintering with me in Milwaukee. However, I know that you will find the spirit of hospitality and friendship easily providing the warmth that would rival Miami.

The gospel of John places Jesus in a dramatic confrontation with St. Peter. In what is often referred to as the post resurrection narratives, Jesus confronts Peter with a question “Do you Love Me?” The question must have ripped deep into the spirit of Peter, for this was the Peter who vowed never to leave the Lord’s side, yet it was Peter who did in fact abandon Jesus in His darkest moments on the cross.

Peter was asked the question three times, reminding him through this questioning of his need to confront his personal failure in denying Christ, and to seek reconciliation from our Lord.

As a Church we have experienced the devastation of sin and its effect on us personally and as a community. We acknowledge that, at times, we too have failed to be witnesses of Christ. However, it is only in our true commitment to love that healing can occur and the Lord Jesus may be exalted.

The direction to Peter is to demonstrate His love for Jesus by feeding his lambs, tending his sheep, feeding his sheep. Jesus is asking Peter to care for His Church. The love for Jesus will be in the very sacrificial acts offered in service for the faithful. The service of Peter himself was destined to identify with the sacrificial cross of Christ’s love, “Amen, Amen I say to you when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted: but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.”

The inspired word of God, although centered on the figures in the event depicted in Sacred Scripture, actually speaks through Peter to all of us. It is as if we are standing with Peter and Jesus is asking us, do you love me more than these?

Today the three repetitions of the Lord’s question might easily address the three responsibilities of Episcopal office -- governing, teaching and sanctifying.

Do you love me enough to stand with me in unity and feed Christ’s lambs? No one governs alone, but rather in collaboration with those he serves. Our strength as a Church comes from our union with our Universal Shepherd Benedict the XVI. In professing our union with the Holy Father we make it clear that this unity is a reflection of our desire to follow Christ in His Church. After His ascension into heaven and the sending of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost the Lord Jesus Christ remains present as the invisible Shepherd of His Church (1Peter 2:25) until appearing once more at the end of ages (CCCB 1974).

The office of the bishop is the link between the particular church which is entrusted to him in hierarchical communion with the Universal Church. In our own American society we must present a clear alternative to the established secular religion which permeates our daily lives. We need to acknowledge mystery and our dependence upon God. It is in our faithfulness in reflecting the mind and the heart of our Church that represents the singular voice of Christ to our community and the world.

Do you love me more than these? Then tend my sheep. The teaching office of the bishop helps to form and inform the faithful in their relationship to Christ and His Church. The goal for most teachers is that their students come to know and appreciate the subject matter they are presenting. In the teaching role of the bishop, the task is literally to come and to know the subject Jesus Himself, so that He the Christ may be taken into their lives.

As St Paul said so well, it is no longer I that lives but Christ who lives in me. The truth of the Church’s teaching is to draw us into a relationship with the Lord.

The Church presents the Truth in Charity. It is the truth of the teaching that maintains our right relationship with Jesus. Our teaching on the dignity of the human person embraces life from the moment of conception to natural death. It reflects the love of life entrusted to us. This sacredness, which reflects the “imago dei.” The image of God. It is this very life for which Christ came into the world, to suffer, die and rise. In our social principles our care for the poor and neglected is mandated out of a love of neighbor grounded in the love of God.

As Benedict the XVI teaches: It is first and foremost a responsibility for each individual member of the faithful, but it is also a responsibility for the entire ecclesial community at every level: from the local community to the particular Church and to the Church universal in its entirety. As a community the Church must practice love. In our protection of marriage and family life an environment is created for the responsible transmission of the faith.

Adherence to the Church’s teaching is not always easy. However, one must sacrifice for the truth. In this sacrifice we demonstrate our love. It is interesting to note that John Paul the II was applauded by the Western societies when he critiqued the godless communism of the east for their lack of individual rights and freedoms, yet those very same western societies turned a deaf ear to his warnings of the destructiveness of radical individualism, consumerism, materialism and relativism.

Given our situation today perhaps we should have paid more attention. The truth is at times difficult but the Church does not follow the Lord’s request to tend his sheep if it fails to teach the truth with love.

Do you love me? Then feed my sheep. The role of the sanctifying office is one joined uniquely to our common vocation to holiness. The sacraments are signs of grace in our lives. The Lord gives to us the gift of himself in the Eucharist. The centrality of Eucharistic celebration unites us to a sacrificial act of Jesus’ love. In the very beginnings of the Church in the Acts of the Apostles we read of the disciples devoting themselves to the teachings of the apostles and to the communal life, the breaking of the bread and to the prayers. The symbol of the cross is no longer a sign of death but has been transformed to represent hope. The cross now declares just how great our God’s love is for us that he did not even spare His only Son for our sake. This sacrificial act continues through the exercise of the priestly office, the priest who in persona Christi offers the bread and wine which becomes the body and blood of our Lord. We, the poor and hungry, come to be fed again and again so that we might take this real presence into the world. John Paul II in his work “Duc in Altum,” his reflections on the Third Millennium of Christianity offered that the great renewal in the Church would come from the two sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist -- Mercy and Sacrificial Love. Our participation in the sacraments and our personal devotional life will demonstrate the transformative power of prayer and will begin the great renewal of our faith life.

Do you love me? In Governing, Teaching and Sanctifying together we will answer that question with lives placed at the service of His Church.

We are fortunate to celebrate today the feast day of Elizabeth Ann Seton the first American-born saint. There was nothing easy about her life. The sickness and death of her spouse, her conversion and rejection by her family, a single mother educating her children and raising them in the faith.The world would easily have justified her cursing her lot in life. Yet this woman, armed with her faith, begins the Catholic School system, establishes a religious order and shapes the Catholic Church in the United States for the next century. What generates this kind of dedicated commitment? It is a confidence in God. In Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton’s own words: “What was the first rule of our dear Savior’s life? You know it was to do his Father’s will. Well, then, the first purpose of our daily work is to do the will of God; secondly, to do it in the manner he wills. And thirdly, to do it because it is his will. We know certainly that our God calls us to a holy life. We know that he gives us every grace, every abundant grace; and though we are so weak of ourselves, this grace is able to carry us through every obstacle and difficulty.” (From the writings of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton)

I am now installed as the eleventh bishop of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. There are many bishops and priests more intelligent, more talented, and more deserving of this position than me. I say this not with a false sense of humility, but merely as fact. However, His Holiness, Benedict the XVI has made his selection and I accept his decision as God’s will. Please know that I will use every ounce of my being to serve this great Archdiocese of Milwaukee. I have already been formed by some of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee’s former leaders.

Archbishop Michael Heiss was the first bishop of La Crosse and established the Catholic Identity for the region of central Wisconsin.

Samuel Cardinal Stritch was the first bishop in my experience as a Catholic grammar school student, his gentleness and charity was held as a model for all.

And of course Albert Cardinal Meyer whose American leadership at the Second Vatican Council was legendary.

What is it that makes this Archdiocese great? The bishops, priests, religious, deacons, parish directors, lay ecclesial ministers and all the faithful who allow the Lord to use them as instruments of His presence. I now proudly add my name to your list as we go forward building on the traditions of the past, witnessing to the present and placing our confidence in Him, who is the hope for our future. Let us together by feeding and tending to His Church answerthe question that the Lord poses: Do you love me more than these? Yes, Lord you know that we do.