The talks at the U.S. Bishops’ retreat

The National Catholic Reporter has provided a link to all the talks the Preacher of the Papal Household Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa gave at the recent retreat he offered for American bishops at the invitation of Pope Francis.

The NCR’s Tom Roberts writes:

Texts of the 11 talks delivered to the U.S. bishops who gathered for a week’s retreat at Mundelein Seminary outside of Chicago show a heavy emphasis on traditional themes, a robust defense of celibacy, a severe criticism of attachment to money and an endorsement of new lay movements as a replacement for declining numbers of clerics.

I hope to set aside some time to read these talks.   Interestingly, I would say most of the Catholics I know personally have a great affection and respect for Fr. Cantalamessa.  He is especially beloved among charismatic Catholics.

Among traditionalists, however, there are reservations.  Some have to do with his participating in ecumenical charismatic events like the one in 2006 in Buenos Aires, where then-Cardinal Bergoglio received a blessing from Protestant pastors.   I used to be all for this kind of thing.  Now, I am having reservations about these ecumenical events because it’s always the Catholic side that seems to be yielding ground, never the Protestant coming to an greater understanding of the Church, but I still think Fr. Cantalamessa is well–worth heeding.

Here’s what I would wish—that those of us who love tradition in the Church would also work extra hard to reflect the heart of the Gospel.   If we have all the truths of the faith and a liturgy helps us to worship God rightly, then we must be the most loving and holiest of all, shouldn’t we?   It saddens me to see so much division, so much critical spirit, so much rancor, and basically lack of love out there among those who purport to hold the right beliefs, especially those who have public ministries.

That does not mean one cannot criticize, correct, or make important distinctions.  Nor does it mean having the right intellectual faith is unimportant.  It is of crucial importance.  But the divisiveness, disputes over tactics, the unwillingness to give a benefit of a doubt . . .   what a counter-witness.

My oh my, some who are so brilliant and knowledgeable fail to put into practice even the most elementary Christianity 101 when it comes to not judging (note I am not saying one must  not discern—but judging with the rancor and moral superiority that goes along with it—no! Don’t do that!).

I also see such criticism of some other ministries in the Catholic Church that may be more basic, more geared to seekers, when maybe all of us need a return to basics from time to time, such as how forgiveness is an imperative.  Alpha, for example, often gets panned, because it is not Catholic enough, but people do have to start somewhere.

Catholics should be exhibiting the fruits of the Spirit in their daily lives:  love, joy, peace, patience and so on.  Especially love.   And yes, sometimes love must offer correction.  But let’s make sure we do so in such a way that we are not in need of correction ourselves.

If one is not experiencing these fruits and instead is feeling depressed, discouraged, angry, hard-done-by because other Catholics don’t believe or say or act the right way, it’s time for an examination of conscience, a trip to the Confessional and a renunciation of the various spirits of division, criticism, rash judgment and so on, so as to be free.

Then, by all means, uphold Tradition, defend right doctrine,  make distinctions, discern the difference between truth and error.

Be a happy warrior.








9 thoughts on “The talks at the U.S. Bishops’ retreat

  1. A GREAT PRIEST, a wonderful Franciscan preacher, a real man of God the Holy Spirit. A priest who has served the Vatican household for many years under differing Popes. A priest most certainly worthwhile listening to. God Bless Fr. R.


  2. “and an endorsement of new lay movements as a replacement for declining numbers of clerics”.
    I was with him on his first 2 points and then he ruined with this. Eucharistic ministers already do most everything the priest used to do. What more is there.


    • What does that even mean? Are we to expect to look like Anglicanism? Maybe we should make the vocations process more open, encourage vocations alongside devotion to the church. Instead they make it easier and more and more people flee. how do they not see a correlation? We should be reinstituting the minor orders and bringing more people into the clergy, not further eroding the role of the clergy.


    • YES MATTHEW, us Eucharist ministers do most of the work priests use to do, like counting the collection money, collecting the mail, helping with duties that involve non-clerical matters within the parish such as dealing with government matters, banking jobs, building requirements for parish property, and the list goes on and on and on!!!!! Yes our priest can now get on with his real priest calling. God bless, Come Holy Spirit.


      • P S. I note today the new Chancellor of the Brisbane Archdioceses is a lay person. The first in history in this role, the former Chancellor, a priest, held this position for the past ten years, has now been appointed as parish priest in one of our country parishes. I wonder, just wonder, if the new lay Chancellor is a minister of the Eucharist in his local parish!!!!!! GOD BLESS, “Come Holy Spirit”


      • It is not exactly novel for the chancellor of a diocese to be a lay person. Here in the Archdiocese of Boston, which is one of the largest Catholic dioceses in the United States, we had a lay chancellor over thirty years ago.

        Perhaps it’s time for some of us to review Canons 224-231 of the Codex Juris Canonici pertaining to the rights and obligations of the LAY Christian faithful.

        Can. 224 In addition to those obligations and rights which are common to all the Christian faithful and those which are established in other canons, the lay Christian faithful are bound by the obligations and possess the rights which are enumerated in the canons of this title.

        Can. 225 §1. Since, like all the Christian faithful, lay persons are designated by God for the apostolate through baptism and confirmation, they are bound by the general obligation and possess the right as individuals, or joined in associations, to work so that the divine message of salvation is made known and accepted by all persons everywhere in the world. This obligation is even more compelling in those circumstances in which only through them can people hear the gospel and know Christ.

        §2. According to each one’s own condition, they are also bound by a particular duty to imbue and perfect the order of temporal affairs with the spirit of the gospel and thus to give witness to Christ, especially in carrying out these same affairs and in exercising secular functions.

        Can. 226 §1. According to their own vocation, those who live in the marital state are bound by a special duty to work through marriage and the family to build up the people of God.

        §2. Since they have given life to their children, parents have a most grave obligation and possess the right to educate them. Therefore, it is for Christian parents particularly to take care of the Christian education of their children according to the doctrine handed on by the Church.

        Can. 227 The lay Christian faithful have the right to have recognized that freedom which all citizens have in the affairs of the earthly city. When using that same freedom, however, they are to take care that their actions are imbued with the spirit of the gospel and are to heed the doctrine set forth by the magisterium of the Church. In matters of opinion, moreover, they are to avoid setting forth their own opinion as the doctrine of the Church.

        Can. 228 §1. Lay persons who are found suitable are qualified to be admitted by the sacred pastors to those ecclesiastical offices and functions which they are able to exercise according to the precepts of the law.

        §2. Lay persons who excel in necessary knowledge, prudence, and integrity are qualified to assist the pastors of the Church as experts and advisors, even in councils according to the norm of law.

        Can. 229 §1. Lay persons are bound by the obligation and possess the right to acquire knowledge of Christian doctrine appropriate to the capacity and condition of each in order for them to be able to live according to this doctrine, announce it themselves, defend it if necessary, and take their part in exercising the apostolate.

        §2. They also possess the right to acquire that fuller knowledge of the sacred sciences which are taught in ecclesiastical universities and faculties or in institutes of religious sciences, by attending classes there and pursuing academic degrees.

        §3. If the prescripts regarding the requisite suitability have been observed, they are also qualified to receive from legitimate ecclesiastical authority a mandate to teach the sacred sciences.

        Can. 230 §1. Lay men who possess the age and qualifications established by decree of the conference of bishops can be admitted on a stable basis through the prescribed liturgical rite to the ministries of lector and acolyte.

        Nevertheless, the conferral of these ministries does not grant them the right to obtain support or remuneration from the Church.

        §2. Lay persons can fulfill the function of lector in liturgical actions by temporary designation. All lay persons can also perform the functions of commentator or cantor, or other functions, according to the norm of law.

        §3. When the need of the Church warrants it and ministers are lacking, lay persons, even if they are not lectors or acolytes, can also supply certain of their duties, namely, to exercise the ministry of the word, to preside offer liturgical prayers, to confer baptism, and to distribute Holy Communion, according to the prescripts of the law.

        Can. 231 §1. Lay persons who permanently or temporarily devote themselves to special service of the Church are obliged to acquire the appropriate formation required to fulfill their function properly and to carry out this function conscientiously, eagerly, and diligently.

        §2. Without prejudice to the prescript of can. 230, §1 and with the prescripts of civil law having been observed, lay persons have the right to decent remuneration appropriate to their condition so that they are able to provide decently for their own needs and those of their family. They also have a right for their social provision, social security, and health benefits to be duly provided.

        The time is NOW for those of us who constitute the lay faithful to stop expecting our clergy to be superhumans who can do it all and to start pulling our share of the weight.

        That said, many of the duties described in this post have nothing whatsoever to do — “counting the collection money, collecting the mail, helping with duties that involve non-clerical matters within the parish… ” have nothing whatsoever to do with the ministry of an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion (distribution of communion within mass, bringing communion to the sick, and, in case of necessity, leading lay communion services in the absence of clergy).



  3. NORM, Your final paragraph, I suspect or hope “tongue in cheek’. I made the remark regarding work by priests that were NOT of real priestly vocation, to indicate that these mundane, but necessary jobs could hinder a priest in carrying out his real calling as a priest. They could be done by laity, as I did for many, many years, prior to my being given the call of my Parish Priest in co-operation with our Archbishop to be a minister of the Eucharist. I really DO KNOW, Norm that such work, has NOTHING TO DO, with my call to the Ministry of an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion. The contents of the said final paragraph is certainly uncalled for and really unnecessary. I am happy to report that now, age 80yrs , in my new parish, I continue to be able to serve my beloved Catholic Church as I have over the past many, many years. “Praise the Lord” . GOD BLESS. BILL H.


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