As I mentioned to you previously, the case filed against the Diocese of Crookston and against me personally was originally scheduled for a hearing on August 3, 2017. We chose the earliest of the options we were given. Now, the hearing date has been changed by the Court due to scheduling conflicts of the attorneys. The new hearing date is September 20, 2017. Again, this hearing is a first hearing, not the trial. We have made a motion for dismissal on the grounds that there was failure to state any viable claim. I remain committed to keeping you informed regarding this matter as the case progresses through the judicial system. Please continue to pray for a quick and fair resolve to all our lawsuits and for all harmed by the matter of sexual abuse.
A NEW PRIEST
Since the June 17 ordination, this is the first opportunity I have had to write and congratulate our new priest, Father Matthew Schmitz!
“So it was that Christ sent the apostles just as he himself had been sent by the Father. Through these same apostles he made their successors, the bishops, sharers in his consecration and mission. Their ministerial role has been handed down to priests in a limited degree. Thus established in the order of the priesthood, they are co-workers of the Episcopal order in the proper fulfillment of the apostolic mission entrusted to the bishops by Christ. Inasmuch as they are connected with the Episcopal order, the priestly office shares in the authority by which Christ Himself builds up, sanctifies, and rules His Body.” (Presbyterorum Ordinis)
What a wonderful blessing it is as a bishop to administer the Sacrament of Holy Orders and ordain a young man for service as a priest. We thank Father Matt for the gift of his life for priestly service to God’s people here. Please continue to pray for our priests and pray that the Good Lord will continue to bless us with the priests we need.
Parents and grandparents, please continue to help your young sons as they discern what God wants them to do as his disciples. Help them be unafraid to consider being a priest. We look forward to the next General Synod of Bishops at the Vatican this fall. The topic will be about young people in the Church and vocational discernment. How can we accompany all our youth in their faith journey and help them be truly missionary minded disciples of Jesus Christ in our day?
OUR NORTHLAND DIOCESE
Congratulations are in order once again for our great diocesan newspaper. The Catholic Press Association has awarded OND a third place award in the category of “Best Coverage of the Year of Mercy” by Janelle Gergen, Associate Editor, and Katrina Genereux, Staff Writer. Deacon Mark Krejci is our Editor. We congratulate and thank him, Janelle and Katrina for their great work.
At the June meeting of the nation’s bishops, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops heard a rather sad report on the state of refugees in our world. We were told there are about 65 million refugees in the world. This is the largest number of refugees ever! At no other time in the history of the world have there been as many people fleeing their homelands, leaving most – if not all – of their possessions behind. These 65 million people are in need of food and clothing and housing and care! How do we see these refugees? As aliens? As workers? As dangerous? How about as our brothers and sisters, people made in the image of God?
In 2012, the Catholic bishops of Minnesota issued the statement “Unlocking the Gates of our Hearts.” We spoke of the need for immigration reform in our country, reform which respects the dignity and inherent human rights of every person and which also respects the rights and obligations of a country to protect its citizens and to control its borders. This need continues today. Some people might want to come to our country to do us harm, but that cannot stop us from reaching out a helping hand to those who genuinely need our help and care. The USCCB continues to work for comprehensive immigration reform with leaders at the federal level. May all of us continue to call on our legislators and leaders to work hard for comprehensive, good, just and merciful immigration reform.
We have once again celebrated our Independence Day on the Fourth of July. We Catholics of the United States have finished our Fortnight for Freedom, our novena thanking Almighty God for the freedoms we have in America and asking that our religious freedom not be lost.
At the June meeting of the USCCB, we heard a report on the work being done in our nation’s capital on health care reform. In America, we not only have the freedom to worship but we also have the freedom to follow our conscience and the freedom from interference of government in the practice of our religion. Currently, our government leaders are considering health care legislation and we need to urge our leaders to respect our rights of religious freedom as they do. Any health care legislation must contain conscience protections, not only for recipients of health care, but also for health care providers – that is, for doctors, nurses and hospital systems – who find themselves being asked to provide services they believe are immoral. Health care legislation must avoid the use of federal funds for abortion. Health care legislation should provide for quality, affordable, and accessible health care for all, especially for the poor, while providing protection of conscience and protection of life in all its stages. Again, the staff of the USCCB continues to work with federal legislators on forming good health care legislation. May all of us continue to call on our legislators and leaders to work for good health care legislation. We also need to continue doing all we can in defense of our religious freedoms.