Browsing News Entries

Browsing News Entries

Pope addresses Italian road and railway police

While commending Italy’s police force for ensuring the safety and security of those travelling by road and train, Pope Francis on Monday called on them to also inculcate humanity, uprightness ‎and “mercy”.  ‎  The Pope met some 100 top leaders and officials of Italy’s road police that celebrating its 70th anniversary and railway police that is marking its 110 years. 

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Road safety

Talking about road safety, Pope Francis told the group it is necessary to deal with the low level of responsibility on the part of many drivers, who often do not even realize the serious consequences of their inattention (for example, with improper use of cell phones) or their disregard.  He said this is caused by a hurried and competitive lifestyle that regards other drivers as obstacles or opponents ‎to overcome, turning roads into "Formula One" tracks and the traffic lights as the starting line of a Grand Prix race.  In such a context, the Pope said, sanctions are not just enough to increase security, but there is a need for an ‎educative action, which creates greater awareness of one’s responsibilities for those traveling ‎alongside. ‎

Beyond professionalism

The Pope told the police men and women that the fruit of their experience on the road and the railway will help in raising awareness and increase civic sense. Their professionalism not only depends on their skills but also on their “profound uprightness” which never takes ‎advantage of the powers they possess, thus helping develop a “high degree of humanity.”  The Pope said that in surveillance and prevention, it is important to ensure never to let the use of force degenerate into ‎violence, especially when a policeman is regarded with suspicion or almost as an enemy instead of a guardian of the common good.


In fulfilling their functions, the Holy Father suggested the police have a “sort of mercy”, which he said is not synonymous with ‎weakness.  Neither does it mean renunciation of the use of force.  It means not identifying the ‎offender with the offence he has committed, that ends up creating harm and generating revenge.  Their work requires them to use mercy even in the countless situations of weakness and pain that they face daily, ‎not only in various types of accidents but also in meeting needy or disadvantaged people.

Good vs evil

The Pope also asked the road and railway police to recognize the presence of the clash between good and evil in the world and within us, and to do everything possible to fight egoism, injustice and  ‎indifference and whatever offends man, creates ‎disorder and foments illegality, hindering the happiness and growth of people. 

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope on World Day of the Poor: they open for us the way to heaven

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis celebrated Mass on Sunday – the XXXIII Sunday in Ordinary Time and the first-ever World Day of the Poor – in St. Peter’s Basilica. The Holy Father announced the World Day of the Poor during the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, and entrusted its organization and promotion to the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization.

There were some 4 thousand needy people in the congregation for the Mass, after which Pope Francis offered Sunday lunch in the Paul VI Hall.

Speaking off the cuff to guests at the luncheon, the Holy Father said, “We pray that the Lord bless us, bless this meal, bless those who have prepared it, bless us all, bless our hearts, our families, our desires, our lives and give us health and strength.” The Holy Father went on to ask God's blessing on all those eating and serving in soup kitchens throughout the city. “Rome,” he said, “is full of this [charity and good will] today.”

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The World Day of the Poor is to be marked annually, on the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time.

In the homily he prepared for the occasion and delivered in St. Peter’s Basilica following the Gospel reading, Pope Francis said, “In the poor, Jesus knocks on the doors of our heart, thirsting for our love.” He went on to say, “When we overcome our indifference and, in the name of Jesus, we give of ourselves for the least of his brethren, we are his good and faithful friends, with whom he loves to dwell.”

Reminding the faithful that it is precisely in the poor, we find the presence of Jesus, who, though rich, became poor (cf. 2 Cor 8:9), and that there is therefore in each and every poor person, a “saving power” present, Pope Francis said, “[I]f in the eyes of the world they have little value, they are the ones who open to us the way to heaven.”

“For us,” the Pope continued, “it is an evangelical duty to care for them, as our real riches, and to do so not only by giving them bread, but also by breaking with them the bread of God’s word, which is addressed first to them.

“To love the poor,” Pope Francis said, “means to combat all forms of poverty, spiritual and material: and it will also do us good. Drawing near to the poor in our midst will touch our lives. It will remind us of what really counts: to love God and our neighbour. Only this lasts forever, everything else passes away.” 

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope Francis: homily for World Day of the Poor

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis celebrated Mass on Sunday – the XXXIII Sunday in Ordinary Time and the first-ever World Day of the Poor – in St. Peter’s Basilica. Below, please find the full text of his homily on the occasion, in its official English translation


We have the joy of breaking the bread of God’s word, and shortly, we will have the joy of breaking and receiving the Bread of the Eucharist, food for life’s journey. All of us, none excluded, need this, for all of us are beggars when it comes to what is essential: God’s love, which gives meaning to our lives and a life without end. So today too, we lift up our hands to him, asking to receive his gifts.

The Gospel parable speaks of gifts. It tells us that we have received talents from God, “according to ability of each” (Mt 25:15). Before all else, let us realize this: we do have talents; in God’s eyes, we are “talented”. Consequently, no one can think that he or she is useless, so poor as to be incapable of giving something to others. We are chosen and blessed by God, who wants to fill us with his gifts, more than any father or mother does with their own children. And God, in whose eyes no child can be neglected, entrusts to each of us a mission.

Indeed, as the loving and demanding Father that he is, he gives us responsibility. In the parable, we see that each servant is given talents to use wisely. But whereas the first two servants do what they are charged, the third does not make his talents bear fruit; he gives back only what he had received. “I was afraid – he says – and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours” (v. 25). As a result, he is harshly rebuked as “wicked and lazy” (v. 26). What made the Master displeased with him? To use a word that may sound a little old-fashioned but is still timely, I would say it was his omission. His evil was that of failing to do good. All too often, we have the idea that we haven’t done anything wrong, and so we rest content, presuming that we are good and just. But in this way we risk acting like the unworthy servant: he did no wrong, he didn’t waste the talent, in fact he kept it carefully hidden in the ground. But to do no wrong is not enough. God is not an inspector looking for unstamped tickets; he is a Father looking for children to whom he can entrust his property and his plans (cf. v. 14). It is sad when the Father of love does not receive a generous response of love from his children, who do no more than keep the rules and follow the commandments, like hired hands in the house of the Father (cf. Lk 15:17).

The unworthy servant, despite receiving a talent from the Master who loves to share and multiply his gifts, guarded it jealously; he was content to keep it safe. But someone concerned only to preserve and maintain the treasures of the past is not being faithful to God. Instead, the parable tells us, the one who adds new talents is truly “faithful” (vv. 21 and 23), because he sees things as God does; he does not stand still, but instead, out of love, takes risks. He puts his life on the line for others; he is not content to keep things as they are. One thing alone does he overlook: his own interest. That is the only right “omission”.

Omission is also the great sin where the poor are concerned. Here it has a specific name: indifference. It is when we say, “That doesn’t regard me; it’s not my business; it’s society’s problem”. It is when we turn away from a brother or sister in need, when we change channels as soon as a disturbing question comes up, when we grow indignant at evil but do nothing about it. God will not ask us if we felt righteous indignation, but whether we did some good.

How, in practice can we please God? When we want to please someone dear to us, for example by giving a gift, we need first to know that person’s tastes, lest the gift prove more pleasing to the giver than to the recipient. When we want to offer something to the Lord, we can find his tastes in the Gospel. Immediately following the passage that we heard today, Jesus says, “Truly I tell you that, just as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me” (Mt 25:40). These least of our brethren, whom he loves dearly, are the hungry and the sick, the stranger and the prisoner, the poor and the abandoned, the suffering who receive no help, the needy who are cast aside. On their faces we can imagine seeing Jesus’ own face; on their lips, even if pursed in pain, we can hear his words: “This is my body” (Mt 26:26).

In the poor, Jesus knocks on the doors of our heart, thirsting for our love. When we overcome our indifference and, in the name of Jesus, we give of ourselves for the least of his brethren, we are his good and faithful friends, with whom he loves to dwell. God greatly appreciates the attitude described in today’s first reading that of the “good wife”, who “opens her hand to the poor, and reaches out her hands to the needy” (Prov 31:10.20). Here we see true goodness and strength: not in closed fists and crossed arms, but in ready hands outstretched to the poor, to the wounded flesh of the Lord.

There, in the poor, we find the presence of Jesus, who, though rich, became poor (cf. 2 Cor 8:9). For this reason, in them, in their weakness, a “saving power” is present. And if in the eyes of the world they have little value, they are the ones who open to us the way to heaven; they are our “passport to paradise”. For us it is an evangelical duty to care for them, as our real riches, and to do so not only by giving them bread, but also by breaking with them the bread of God’s word, which is addressed first to them. To love the poor means to combat all forms of poverty, spiritual and material.

And it will also do us good. Drawing near to the poor in our midst will touch our lives. It will remind us of what really counts: to love God and our neighbour. Only this lasts forever, everything else passes away. What we invest in love remains, the rest vanishes. Today we might ask ourselves: “What counts for me in life? Where am I making my investments?” In fleeting riches, with which the world is never satisfied, or in the wealth bestowed by God, who gives eternal life? This is the choice before us: to live in order to gain things on earth, or to give things away in order to gain heaven. Where heaven is concerned, what matters is not what we have, but what we give, for “those who store up treasures for themselves, do not grow rich in the sight of God” (Lk 12:21).

So let us not seek for ourselves more than we need, but rather what is good for others, and nothing of value will be lacking to us. May the Lord, who has compassion for our poverty and needs, and bestows his talents upon us, grant us the wisdom to seek what really matters, and the courage to love, not in words but in deeds.

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope to Ratzinger Prize-winners: a symphony of truth

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis received the recipients of the 2017 Ratzinger Prize in Theology on Saturday morning. Catholic Professor Karl-Heinz Menke of the Theological Faculty of the University of Bonn, Lutheran Professor Theodor Dieter of the Institute for Ecumenical Research in Strasbourg, and Orthodox composer Arvo Pärt, share the Prize this year, which Benedict XVI established in 2010 as the leading international award for research in Sacred Scripture, patristics, and fundamental theology.

Broadening horizons of the Ratzinger Prize

This year, therefore, marks the first time in which the Prize is given to someone not engaged in strictly theological endeavor.

When the prize-winners were announced in September, the President of the Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI Vatican Foundation, Fr. Federico Lombardi SJ, said, “Benedict XVI’s appreciation for the art of music and the highly religious inspiration behind the musical art of Pärt, justified the attribution of the prize also outside of the strictly theological field.”

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In remarks to the roughly 200 guests, including the prize-winners and officials of the Ratzinger Foundation on Saturday morning in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace, Pope Francis said, “I welcomed with joy the idea of ​broadening the horizon of the [Ratzinger] Prize to include the arts, in addition to the theology and sciences, which are naturally associated with it.” He went on to say, “It is an enlargement that corresponds well with the vision of [Pope emeritus] Benedict XVI, who so often spoke to us in a touching manner, of beauty as a privileged way of opening ourselves to transcendence and to meeting God.”

Ecumenical focus

The Prize this year also had an ecumenical element.

In addition to Pärt’s Orthodoxy, the year, 2017, is the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Lutheran movement in Christianity, and Lutheran Professor Theodor Dieter one of the three recipients.  “The truth of Christ,” said Pope Francis, “is not for soloists, but is symphonic: it requires docile collaboration, harmonious sharing.” The Holy Father also said, “Seeking it, studying it, contemplating it, and transposing it in practice together, in charity, draws us strongly toward full union between us: truth becomes thus a living source of ever closer ties of love.”

Pope Francis concluded, saying, “[C]ongratulations, therefore, to the illustrious prize winners: Professor Theodor Dieter, Professor Karl-Heinz Menke and Maestro Arvo Pärt; and my encouragement to [the Ratzinger] Foundation,” so that, “we might continue to travel along new and broader ways to collaborate in research, dialogue and knowledge of the truth. – a truth that, as Pope Benedict has not tired of reminding us, is, in God, logos and agape, wisdom and love, incarnate in the person of Jesus.”

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope calls for common good, ethical responsibility in science, technology ‎

"Science, like any other human activity, has its limits which should be observed for the ‎good of ‎humanity itself, and requires a sense of ethical responsibility,” Pope Francis said on Saturday.  “The true measure of progress, as ‎Blessed ‎Paul VI recalled, is that which is aimed at the good of each man and the whole man,” the Pope told some 83 participants in the plenary assembly of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Culture.  The participants met the Pope at the conclusion of their Nov.15-18 assembly which discussed the theme, “The Future of Humanity: New Challenges to Anthropology.” 

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Incredible advances

The Pope said, the Church wants to give the correct direction to man at the dawn of a new era marked by incredible advances in medicine, genetics, neuroscience and “autonomous” machines.  Speaking about the incredible advances in genetics, he noted that diseases that were considered incurable until recently have been eradicated, and new possibilities have opened up to “programme” human beings with certain “qualities”. 

Not all the answers

The Pope said that "science and technology have helped us to further the boundaries of knowledge of nature, especially of the human being,” but they alone are not enough to give all the answers. ‎“Today,” he explained, “we ‎increasingly realize that it is necessary to draw from the treasures of wisdom of ‎religious ‎traditions, popular wisdom, literature and the arts that touch the depths of the mystery of ‎human ‎existence, without forgetting, but rather by rediscovering those contained in philosophy and ‎theology.‎”

Church teachings

In this regard, the Pope pointed to two principles of the Church’s  teaching. The first is the “centrality of the human person, which is to be considered an end and not a means.”  Man must be in harmony ‎with creation, not as a despot about God's inheritance, but as a loving guardian of the work ‎of the Creator.‎

The second principle is the universal destination of goods, including that of ‎knowledge and technology. Scientific and technological progress, the Pope explained, should serve the good of all humanity, and ‎not just a few, and this will help avoid new inequalities in the future based on knowledge, and prevent widening of the gap between the rich and the poor.  The Holy Father insisted that great decisions regarding the direction scientific research should take, and investment in it, should be taken together by the whole of society and should not be ‎dictated solely by market rules or by the interests of a few.‎  And finally, the Pope said, one must keep in mind that not everything that is technically possible or feasible is ethically acceptable. 

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope prays for sailors aboard missing submarine

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis is offering his “fervent prayers” for 44 Argentinian sailors aboard a submarine that has been missing since Wednesday.

In a telegram sent addressed to the Bishop Santiago Olivera, the head Military Ordinariate of Argentina, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin noted the Pope’s concern for the sailors and expressed the Pope’s spiritual closeness to the families of the sailors, and to the military and civil authorities of the nation. He also noted the Holy Father’s encouragement for the efforts being made to find the vessel.

“His Holiness entrusts them to the maternal intercession of the Blessed Virgin, “ Cardinal Parolin said, and “he asks the Lord to instill in them spiritual serenity and Christian hope in these circumstances, in pledge of which he cordially imparts the comforting Apostolic Blessing.”

(from Vatican Radio)

Father Michael Schmitz: When not liking the liturgy leads family to stop going to Mass

Question: My family refuses to go to Mass because there are too many “extras” (like baptisms), too much singing, and too many announcements. Why can’t we have a “low Mass” without all of that stuff? Isn’t the church supposed to adapt and keep up with all the people?

Answer: There are a couple of elements in your question that I would like to address individually.

Father Mike Schmitz
Father Michael Schmitz
Ask Father Mike

If you are asking whether or not it is possible to celebrate a beautiful and reverent Mass without music, announcements, and other sacraments, then the answer is very straightforward: yes. A number of parishes I am familiar with offer a more “simple” Mass like you described. Sometimes this is the Saturday evening Mass or the early Sunday morning Mass.

Of course, not all parishes are able to offer this, since there are an increasing number of situations where a pastor is responsible for more than one parish. Because of this, there are sometimes fewer Masses offered on the weekend. In those cases, it would make sense that, due to the reduced number of liturgies, a parish would want to celebrate as full and as beautiful a Mass as possible for the Lord and for the people.

But the simple answer is: Yes, it is possible to have Mass without the elements you described.

If you are asking why we occasionally have baptisms as a part of Mass, I would say that it is because a human being becoming an adopted son or daughter of God is something worth celebrating! And not merely with that child’s family, but with the entire community. This is obvious, unless I don’t care about the other people who make up the Body of Christ or if I dislike the extra five minutes it takes to witness the miracle of a person becoming a child of God.

I truly understand liking less singing. I prefer less singing, as well. I will rarely use chant at Mass, because it doesn’t help me pray and because I think that there are other ways to pray the Mass that are just as beautiful. I can find it annoying or excessive.

Yet I wonder if the issue has less to do with the “extras” and more to do with something deeper. While I don’t know your family members, I would say that the issue has more to do with their minds or hearts than it does with singing or announcements.

As you briefly described it, the issue is one of two deficiencies. Either your family doesn’t care that much about God, or your family doesn’t understand what the Mass is. I write this tentatively, since I know neither the mind nor the heart of your family members. I have been to plenty of Masses where I was annoyed by the homily, the music (why do you insist on singing all of the verses, choirmaster?), or some other element that I found distracting or distasteful. I, too, have found it difficult to focus, to pray, or even to appreciate the efforts of those involved during those times. I think I know where you are coming from!

But here is the critical piece: That doesn’t lead me to refuse to go to Mass. If a person refuses to go to Mass because they don’t like the style, there is a serious problem. There is a difference between not liking the “extras” and refusing to go because of the “extras.” Your email did not describe the case of people who love God and desire to worship him at the Mass, but who wrestle with certain elements of the liturgy. You said that your family refuses to go to Mass.

If I know that God has commanded that we worship him in the Mass, but I refuse to do it because I don’t like singing, what other conclusion is there? Either I don’t love God much or I don’t understand what the Mass actually is.

I wonder where the idea that Mass should be “an hour or less” originated. If the Mass is truly divine worship, and if it truly is “heaven kissing earth,” why do people get antsy when it lasts longer than 60 minutes? As Saint Josemaria Escriva said, “You say the Mass is too long …. I say your love is too short.” He went on to say, “Isn’t it strange how many Christians, who take their time and have leisure enough in their social life (they are in no hurry), in following the sleepy rhythm of their professional affairs, in eating and recreation (no hurry here either), find themselves rushed and want to rush the Priest, in their anxiety to shorten the time devoted to the most holy Sacrifice of the Altar?”

We all need to be reminded at times that the Mass is not about us. It is worship. And worship must always be directed towards God. But how many times do we hear someone complain that they just “don’t get anything” out of Mass? Now, aside from the fact that we get the Word of God proclaimed to us, we get to receive the Jesus himself in the Eucharist, and we get the chance to worship God (which is no small privilege!), I always want to stop someone who makes this complaint to highlight the fact that that is literally the point! The point of worship isn’t to get anything; it is to give!

When there are added elements of the worship that Sunday by way of singing or baptisms that are annoying, you get to give God your annoyance and those extra five minutes as another sacrifice of love for the One who died and rose for you.

Father Michael Schmitz is director of youth and young adult ministry for the Diocese of Duluth and chaplain of the Newman Center at the University of Minnesota Duluth. Reach him at

Father Richard Kunst: Learn from St. Hubert — don’t skip church to go hunting

If you are an outdoorsman, November is the most wonderful time of the year! Hunting is in the air, and although hunting is an interest of both sexes, I certainly see more wives alone at Mass during this time than I see husbands. Often, women will refer to themselves as hunter’s widows.

Though I was born and raised in northeastern Minnesota, I was never a big hunter. For several years, I would hunt pheasant on my family’s property, but I personally never got into big game like deer or bear. But I sure appreciate hunters, and I have to admit I am attracted to the idea of going hunting more often than I do. (Last time I went, I got a tick with Lyme Disease.)

Father Richard Kunst
Father Richard Kunst

Some of the more rural parishes in our diocese have special hunters’ Masses — Masses that are added or scheduled in such a way to make it easier for the hunters to make it to church. I like this idea. One of the parishes I used to be pastor of had such a practice, and we would pack the church every year with blaze orange. A lot of venison would come my way because of it!

Now, at this point in the column, I have a message to those readers who are hunters: Do not skip Mass to go hunting. It is a bad idea.

The story of the patron saint of hunters makes this perfectly clear. St. Hubert, whose feast day is fittingly in November (the 3rd) had his conversion due to a stern and miraculous warning from God after the future saint skipped church to hunt.

Because the story is ancient and legendary, there may be different versions, but the gist of it is as follows: Hubert (656-727 A.D.), when he was a young man, was very fond of hunting. One Good Friday, the most solemn day of the Christian calendar, he skipped church to go hunting. It is one thing to skip Sunday Mass frivolously, but to skip Good Friday was just plain dumb. As he was chasing a stag, they reached a clearing in the woods, and when the stag turned around to face its pursuer, Hubert was amazed to see a crucifix between the horns of its rack!

As if that weren’t enough, the crucifix started to speak! The voice from the crucifix said, “Unless you turn to the Lord, Hubert, you shall fall into hell.” What do you suppose the young Hubert did in response? He dropped to his knees and probably even wet himself! Then the future saint asked the crucifix what he should do, and the voice told him to go to the local bishop, named St. Lambert, who would guide him as a spiritual director.

Not long after this encounter, with the spiritual guidance of the holy bishop, Hubert divested himself of noble family honors, as well as giving his money to the poor. Eventually he became a priest. According to the legend, St. Lambert encouraged Father Hubert to go on pilgrimage to Rome, and during the time he was away, St. Lambert was killed. The legend states that at the time Lambert was killed, the pope had a vision of his death and was told by God to make Hubert his successor bishop.

As bishop St. Hubert became known for many miracles and his evangelization of the pagan population in his diocese. Soon after his death, he was considered a saint by the local population, but the story of the stag and his conversion experience made his popularity extend far beyond his native Netherlands.

St. Hubert’s popularity continues to grow all throughout the world. This otherwise obscure saint has had many new devotees as the popularity of hunting continues. It is fairly easy to find new holy cards and medals being produced of St. Hubert because of his being the patron saint of hunters. The emblem of this hunting saint is also found on bottles of the liqueur Jagermeister, which literally means “master hunter.”

So as you plan your hunting trips this month, make sure you do not repeat the mistake of the young Hubert, who thought it was a good idea to skip church in order to hunt. And while you are out on your deer stand, maybe say a little prayer for the hunting saint’s intercession. Who knows, you may end up bagging the legendary 30-point buck.

St. Hubert, pray for our hunters!

Father Richard Kunst is pastor of St. John the Evangelist in Duluth and St. Joseph in Gnesen. Reach him at

Betsy Kneepkens: Hefner death, NFL controversy show that our bodies reflect our souls

I can’t help but get excited when the secular world unwittingly reports beliefs imparted by the Catholic Church and does an exceptional job proving those teachings true.

This past month, two entirely different news stories were widely published, frequently discussed, and commented about on social media: the ongoing story of NFL players who have opted to kneel during the National Anthem and coverage of the death and legacy of Hugh Hefner, the founder of Playboy and a progressive in the area of what has been termed “sexual freedom.”

Betsy Kneepkens
Betsy Kneepkens
Faith and Family

These stories share common threads that reflect something the church has been saying since the beginning, but about which the world refuses to listen. Specifically, the church has taught what we do with our bodies speaks a language, and that language impacts others.

The first news story has to do with the reports surrounding NFL players kneeling or standing for the National Anthem. Whether a football player stands or kneels for the anthem is undoubtedly a social statement, but it is not a Catholic issue. However, the fact that the country seems to be obsessing over what these players do with their bodies indeed reflects a reality claimed consistently by the Catholic Church.

Many Americans want us to believe we can do whatever we wish with our bodies, and those activities are our own business. Our preoccupation with this anthem issue says that this is just not true. Our human form embodies our soul, or, put another way, our bodies share the message of our soul.

A significant part of this controversy is the perception that the body is showing disrespect. Our souls can undoubtedly be disrespectful, and the only way to reveal the message of our soul is through actions of our body. Similarly, our souls can be respectful, and that can be reflected in the body as well. The substantial connection between the body and the soul is shown by society’s outcry, which knows that these players’ souls are speaking.

This brings me to the second story in the news, which goes deeper into this subject, with the death and legacy of Hugh Hefner. According to reports, society saw Hugh Hefner as a significant force behind the sexual revolution, starting with his publication of Playboy Magazine. Hefner’s concept basically treats the body as separate from the soul and therefore suggests what we do with our bodies does not affect the soul. When reporters covered the life of Hugh Hefner, they celebrated his financial accomplishments and credited his industry with a litany of women he made famous. Hugh Hefner was a leader in making pornography mainstream.

Hefner’s pushing of the sentiment that bodies are tools for carnal pleasure opened the way to making it acceptable to use the body as an object for a profit, because without the matter of our soul, the actions of our body are inconsequential. Furthermore, this division that Hefner promoted allowed the intimate union between a man and woman to become “freed” from the sacredness that ultimately demands responsibility and obligation to another. Hefner typically appeared in the media as happy, surrounded by doting women, while displaying a sense of peace with all that he created.

In the many stories that covered his life, reporters listed numerous women who “got their start” by being centerfolds for his magazine. The stories of these women, like Marilyn Monroe and Anna Nicole Smith, I think better suggest that Hefner’s concept was wrong and even harmful. Hefner’s campaign for sexual freedom left a trail of centerfolds who had lifelong issues with alcoholism, addiction, multiple marriages, disease, abuse, premature deaths, and suicide. Many of these women had fruitful careers and had financial riches, but it appears the suffering of the soul was insurmountable, leading them to what most consider troubling lives.

Not surprisingly, several clippings which covered the last part of Hefner’s life told stories of his loneliness, isolation, and attachments to material items. You can only be left wondering if he too suffered. I can only surmise that since you cannot separate the body from the soul, when Hefner’s soul talked, his body may have been lying. Years of lying with your body undoubtedly wreaks ruin on your soul, and suffering will follow.

The NFL and Hugh Hefner never went out to teach concepts espoused by the Catholic Church. For some, it can be difficult to understand why the church teaches what she teaches, but using current events certainly makes these teachings more clear. The Catholic Church may be the last ray of hope insisting and proclaiming that the human body is a composite with our soul, no matter what an individual or an industry push.

As Catholic parents, we are surrounded by contemporary issues to be used to teach our children. Sometimes, reporting unknowing proves the Catholic Church gets it right again. Especially in these cases, we can show our children the importance of living chaste lives, where our bodies speak a language that tells the truth of our soul’s dignity.

Betsy Kneepkens is director of the Office of Marriage and Family Life for the Diocese of Duluth and a mother of six.

Four permanent deacons to be ordained Nov. 26

Bishop Paul Sirba will ordain four men, Kyle Eller, Daniel Goshey, Michael Marvin, and Steven Odegard, to the permanent diaconate at 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 26, at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Rosary in Duluth.

The ordination takes place on the Solemnity of Christ the King, as has been the custom of the Diocese of Duluth for many years.

Eller and his wife Sandy are from St. Benedict’s Church in Duluth. They have three children, Elisabeth, Anna (deceased), and Maria.

Goshey and wife Julie are from St. Joseph’s Church in Crosby. They have two children, Nellie and Joseph.

Marvin and his wife Carrie are from the Lakes Area Parishes, Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Pine River. They have four children, Anna, Christa, Lara and Joe.

Odegard and his wife Mary are from St. Patrick’s Church in Hinckley. They have five children, Jessica, Melissa, Joel, Kimberly, and Sarah.

All the Catholic faithful are invited to witness the sacrament and to celebrate.

— The Northern Cross

Correction: The headline has been corrected from the print edition of this story.