June 21, 2009

Father’s Day: Loving as a man

Cardinal George's Schedule

  1. June 21: 11 a.m., 100th Anniversary Mass, St. Aloysius
  2. June 23: 1 p.m., Administrative Council Meeting, Quigley Center; 7 p.m., Catechetical Ministries Graduation and Certification Ceremony, St. Bede the Venerable
  3. June 24: 10 a.m., Mass, Sacred Music Colloquium, Madonna Della Strada Chapel, Loyola University; 4 p.m., Senior Priests’ Dinner, Mundelein
  4. June 25: 6:30 p.m., Muslim and Catholic Evening of Conversation, Quigley Center
  5. June 26: 6 p.m., Mass, Knights of Malta, Ignatius House, Loyola University
  6. June 27- July 3: Crossing Over Project, Münster, Germany
Cardinal's Crest

Cardinal's Appointments

May 22, 2009

His Eminence, Francis Cardinal George announces the following appointments:


Rev. Jacek Dada, from extern priest from the Archdiocese of Przemysl, Poland, incardinated into the presbyterate of the Archdiocese of Chicago, to continue to be the associate pastor of Holy Cross Parish, Deerfield, effective immediately.

We celebrate Fathers’ Day, 2009, with the news that nearly 40 percent of children born in the United States this past year were not born to parents married to one another. This means that 1.7 million children were born to unmarried mothers last year, a figure 250 percent greater than the number reported in 1980. Most of these children were desired, and their mothers will not give them up for adoption. But the economic and social future for unmarried mothers and their children is statistically bleak. Marriage is not a real possibility, because the men who generated the children are often described as boys: immature at best, irresponsible and selfish at worst.

What makes a boy a man? Not the ability to generate a child; that is only a sign of biological maturity. A man’s vocation is to be a husband and father. The ability to be a father demands fidelity, responsibility, strength of character, a desire to protect a wife and children, prudent judgment and an ability to create a home, to govern a family with his wife. A husband gives his wife strength and she gives him purpose. While traditional family roles are contested today, both common experience and statistical reports support a child’s need for a mother and father devoted to the child and to one another in order that the child may learn how to live, in turn, as a mature human being.

Being a father means exercising authority; and that is another concept much contested, because if one person has authority, then others are to be obedient. Both authority and obedience might seem to diminish an individual’s freedom to choose. No matter how much they might at times be resented, however, both authority and obedience are necessary in order to live freely. No one is born alone; we are born into family life, where we learn how to obey and when to command. A husband who cannot take responsibility for his children and direct them with love stunts their lives and his. If the social nature of human life is ignored or put aside, the result is not freedom but death, both spiritual and physical, for individuals and for society as a whole.

Jesus sought always to do his Father’s will, even to death on the cross. In the family of God that is the church, Christ gave authority to the apostles and continues to give it to those appointed to take their place. They are Fathers in God. The apostles were told to preach the truth, to forgive sins and to make disciples. Bishops are responsible for the family that God has given them to love. They are to protect the church and make decisions wisely and prudently. They are not ecclesiastical bachelors but true fathers, married to the church as is Christ himself. If they are unable or unwilling to exercise authority, the church withers.

The church is a communion that participates in the life and love of the Blessed Trinity. Without orthodox belief and obedient practice, there is no church. As I look at the church today, it seems to me that the bishops have taught clearly; but it is less clear that we have governed effectively. Our beliefs, shaped by God’s self-revelation, have been explained even when they are not understood or not accepted. Our behavior, however, how Catholics and Catholic institutions are expected to act, is less clearly defined. Some seem unsure of what is expected when one describes oneself as Catholic; they are uncertain how to obey. In the network of relationships that is Catholic communion, no one is independent; but what we can expect from one another is not as clear as it should be.

The church loses her freedom to govern herself when bishops are unwilling or unable to govern or when the church is captured by political powers or by pressure groups on either the left or the right. Without her freedom, the church cannot fulfill the mission Christ gave her; and therefore the church has always and everywhere guarded her freedom to teach and to act. Since the church is Catholic, she is always more than a particular country, culture or race and can therefore be open to them all. She never fits neatly into any social arrangement that is less than universal, and her beliefs never correspond to any sectarian ideology. Those who cannot think beyond narrow political categories always misunderstand the church, which is why her history is consistently marked by persecution. Those who oppose the church’s mission for whatever reason try to divide bishops among themselves or portray them as enemies of the people, so that the church is paralyzed. These are tactics common throughout history and they are at work in our day as well.

The bishops who govern the dioceses in this country will be meeting this week in San Antonio. We will be praying for fathers and for stronger family life in our society, and we will be deliberating about how we should exercise the authority given us by Christ in order to strengthen the life of the church.

This week, please pray for the bishops when you pray for your natural fathers. We’ll pray for you. Thank you.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Francis Cardinal George, OMI

Archbishop of Chicago