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August 31, 2015 | Volume 90 Number 22


Catholic Scouting encouraged in diocese

I always appreciate when Scouting and the Boy Scouts of America are featured in The Catholic Virginian as the Scouting program helps prepare our youth for life — including their faith lives.

Scouting is alive and well in the Diocese of Richmond, made up of 2,700 Scouts, served by 1,000 adult volunteers, and sponsored by 73 Boy Scout Troops and Cub Scout Packs in Catholic churches and organizations (like the Knights of Columbus). Scouts learn about leadership, the outdoors, responsibility, and their faith, through religious emblems programs, Catholic Scout retreats, attendance at ordination and Scout Masses, and even a recent 10 mile Scout hike through the heart of Richmond to visit six historic Catholic churches.

Unfortunately, the article on Scouting included in the recent CV (August 17, 2015 issue) does a disservice to Scouting. It reports on the decision made by the Bishop in Bismarck, North Dakota to direct his Catholic parishes to disassociate with the Boy Scouts of America in reaction to the BSA’s recent change to its adult membership standards not to exclude homosexual adults from membership.

While many in Scouting are upset with this change, it is in fact in keeping with the teachings of our Catholic faith, whereby we welcome all to our church.

Our own Bishop DiLorenzo provides very different guidance to the Catholic parishes and churches in the Richmond Diocese that sponsor Scouting. His guidance — supported by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and the National Catholic Committee on Scouting (NCCS) — encourages Scouting to continue in our Diocese.

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Nita Grignol thanked for her tireless service to disabled

The details provided in the August 17 CV article, "This is how you evangelize," highlight only a portion of the incredible work Nita Grignol has accomplished through the years as director of the Diocesan Office for Persons with Disabilities. Her strong advocacy and leadership efforts on behalf of people of all ages with disabilities, their families and the professionals in service to people with disabilities go well beyond the hours this office is funded. It is hoped that our diocesan leaders will not only sustain the projects Nita has established but will expand this vital ministry.


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Pope Francis calls our church “to reach out to those who find themselves in the existential peripheries… and to show solidarity with the most vulnerable of our brothers and sisters: the poor, the disabled …” (Message to the 10th General Assembly of World Council of Churches, October 4, 2013). By continuing to have a dedicated Office for Persons with Disabilities at the diocesan level, the Church of Richmond may more effectively address our Holy Father’s call.

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Divorced Catholics face pain, public scrutiny

I commend you for addressing the subject in Commentary, “Divorced Catholics” in the August 17, 2015 issue of The Catholic Virginian. I offer the following thoughts.

To parse what excommunication is or isn’t begs the question. The reality is that the Church deprives divorced individuals the opportunity to receive the Body and Blood of Jesus, the highlight of a Catholic’s life, to be the tabernacle of the Almighty.

We don’t attend Mass to greet friends, shake hands and sing songs. We come to Mass to witness the Consecration and to partake of the eucharist. To require divorced individuals to stand back while the vast majority of attendees receive Communion, asks those left behind to subject themselves to unwarranted public scrutiny, adding insult to injury.

We should remember that marriage is a contract between two individuals, the husband and the wife: two human beings who are not infallible, who can, and sometimes do, make mistakes. Contracts are able to be amended, or cancelled. However, the Church says that the marriage contract is an exception and can only be dissolved by the Church.

But I reiterate, the couple didn’t make a contract with the Church, they made it to each other. Certainly the Church should do all in it’s power to celebrate long and faithful marriages, but tenderly recognize the situation in which divorced individuals find themselves.

The divorced couples I know deeply feel pain from the divorce, including the chasm that is often created between them and their children. It isn’t fun and games. It is often very traumatic.

But when mistakes are made we are told to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and start all over again. And that is what divorced people often do. They try again to build a life with a different partner, have children and live their lives.

For this I think they deserve praise and support; not condemnation and disrespect, especially not from the Church they dearly love.

Will the Church change? Who knows? But when the statistics are that half the marriages end in divorce, Church leaders should recognize the human condition and ask themselves, “What would Jesus do?”

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Little Sisters faced with major dilemma

The Little Sisters of the Poor (LSP), among the devout darlings of Christianity, bless us each day with their selfless service to the elderly poor through their maintenance of hundreds of nursing homes throughout the world.

Quite rightly, they vehemently oppose our government’s infringement of their right to provide their employees’ healthcare in a manner which is keeping with their faith, and which excludes coverage for contraceptives.

Our government disingenuously offers the Sisters the right to exempt themselves from the requirement of contraceptive coverage, in which case the administration (the taxpayers) would provide the coverage; the Sisters contend this does nothing to remove their own complicity — in violation of their faith.

They are to be applauded in their continued legal battle to the highest court in the nation. And every earnest plea to the Divine is to be made for their legal success.

But LSP has indicated they cannot, and should not, be forced to choose between their faith and their service to the poor. I am no less than frightened, in the case of an adverse decision of last resort by the Supreme Court, that LSP may be forced to make this choice.

Is it possible, based on their current statement, that loyalty to their faith would require the Sisters to forfeit their mission to the poor in this country? What a despairing eventuality!

While praying for their success in the Supreme Court, it is also appropriate to pray for prudent acceptance of an adverse court decision should it come, and integration of that decision into the mission of LSP.

It would be my entreaty in that instance, that a prayerful discernment by the Sisters would enable them to conclude a complete dedication to their faith does not require them to assume a disproportionate role of policing the federal government’s actions. This would be the effect of their refusal to “opt-out” of the government’s healthcare directive — thereby causing them to incur ruinous penalties which would in turn force them to walk away from the mission which defines and names them, and graces us.

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