Without a Doubt Tidbits – Random Thoughts

Bishop Thomas J. Tobin - Without a Doubt

A few random thoughts before I take a little break for summer . . .

** It’s just two years since the publication of Laudato Si, the historic encyclical of Pope Francis that calls us to a renewed commitment to the protection of the environment and the care of the earth, our common home. It’s a serious challenge we should all understand and embrace because it is, after all, not just a papal preference, but a divine mandate, an important component of our Catholic Faith.

** Having said that, the negative reaction to President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord has been over-the-top, hysterical even. While we can agree on the need to control global warming and protect the environment, whether or not the Paris agreement is the best or only means of achieving that goal is a legitimate debate. In his encyclical, Pope Francis said, “The Church knows that honest debate must be encouraged among experts, while respecting divergent views.” (#61)

** It also seems to me that some of the liberal politicians and Hollywood types who attacked President Trump over his climate decision could do a lot more themselves to protect the environment if they would just forego their frequent international travels, private jets, splendid yachts, palatial homes, and lavish lifestyles.

** From many quarters today we keep hearing that the Church has to “listen” more – to millennials, the LGBTQ community, the transgendered, feminists, and lots of other groups with particular agendas. I get it. It’s important that we talk and listen to one another, and I know as well as anyone that consultation is an indispensable part of the life of the Church today. However, when Jesus commissioned the Apostles to go forth, he instructed them to teach, not listen, didn’t he?

** And while it’s instructive for the Church to listen to special interest groups, it’s also necessary that those groups listen to the Church, since the Church, guided by the Holy Spirit, preserves and promotes the truths of the Gospel and the teachings of Christ. Encounter and welcoming are virtuous practices, but not at the expense of the truth.

** Some clergy numbers in the Diocese of Providence to think about: Since the beginning of this decade we’ve lost 58 priests from active ministry in the Diocese, due mostly to retirement, and we’ve ordained just 18. That’s a net loss of 40 priests from active ministry in the Diocese. The median age of active priests is 59; the median age of all priests, including retirees is 67. There are just 21 priests under the age of 40.

** In commenting on the declining number of priests in the Diocese, a recent letter in the Providence Journal suggested that the answer to the clergy shortage is to allow married priests and women priests. “Evolve or become extinct,” the letter writer advised. In other words, the Church has to change its teachings if it is to survive and prosper. “Prosper . . . you mean just like the mainline Protestant churches?” I said to myself.

** While we often focus on the challenges we’re facing these days, we shouldn’t lose sight, for even a single minute, of the great work, the beautiful work, the Church is doing every day. The Catholic Church brings people together in communities of faith for worship and praise, proclaims timeless moral truths, accompanies families in their daily lives, educates children, and serves the poor and needy. Beyond the government itself, the Catholic Church is the largest provider of charitable services in our state. We shouldn’t underestimate the importance of that contribution. I’m so grateful to, and proud of, the clergy, religious and laity, the employees and volunteers, who enable the Church to accomplish so much good, every day!

** Congratulations to the Pittsburgh Penguins hockey team for winning the Stanley Cup once again this year, two years in a row, and three times in the last eight years. Can you say “dynasty?” Pittsburgh once again proves itself to be the City of Champions and the best sports town in the USA.

* I just saw a medical report that says, “those who consume French fries more than twice a week are at an increased risk of mortality.” That’s funny. It seems to me that our “risk” of mortality is 100 percent!

** A recent overnight trip to Pittsburgh reminded me why I don’t like to travel. In just that very brief trip I encountered: an overbooked flight, a broken jetway that prevented passengers from getting off and on the plane, a lost suitcase that contained everything I needed to celebrate Sunday Mass, a flight that was delayed by 45 minutes, and, finally, an obnoxious young woman sitting next to me, apparently impaired by some substance, who cried out as the plane took off: “We’re going too fast, we’re going too fast, this plane’s going down, this plane’s going down.”

** In this “Year with Mary our Mother,” remember that the summer contains some beautiful Marian feast days in which we honor our Blessed Mother, including – Our Lady of Mt. Carmel on July 16, The Assumption on August 15, and the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary on August 22.

** I hope that you’ll have a safe, relaxing and peaceful summer. But be sure to stay close to God during the summer, pray and go to Mass every Sunday. God won’t forget you during vacation – don’t forget him either!