Busted Halo
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Rev. Leo A. Walsh, S.T.D. :
51 article(s)

The Rev. Leo A. Walsh, S.T.D., formerly the Interreligious Affairs specialist at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, is now pastor of St. Benedict's Parish in Anchorage, Alaska. Photo Credit: Bob Roller, Catholic News Service (CNS).
May 4th, 2011

While I’m not sure exactly what you mean by a “secular prayer service” (since the phrase is an oxymoron), for purposes of discussion, I’ll assume that you mean a prayer given in a public setting such as a prayer breakfast or even a service where many differing religions are present such as an event marking “World AIDS Day” or the like. The fact of the matter is that Catholic chaplains, whether military or hospital or police chaplains are often asked to participate in prayer services where people of diverse religious traditions will be present. They can do so in good conscience. Obviously, the nature of the prayer will be dictated by the type of service in which it will take place. While, as Christians,…

April 27th, 2011

Yes, you may. While it may not be a sacramental marriage, a wedding is a wonderful time to share your friends’ joy. As you would at any other celebration with other Christians or people of other religious traditions, respectfully attend and participate to the extent that you can in conscience.
Most other traditions don’t have communion as a part of their marriage rite, but if they do, politely decline since it would be dishonest to participate in communion in a church with whom we are not in full communion. By the way, I find that a table setting always makes a nice wedding gift. That way they will always have a place for you at their table when you come to visit!…

April 13th, 2011

Not true. Catholics may donate their bodies to science. However, it does require some special logistics for the funeral and burial. This is not hard to do since most tissue banks are very appreciative of the donation and work very hard to respect the wishes of the family. The Catholic funeral rite has three parts: the Vigil, the Funeral Mass, and the Burial Rite. The Vigil and the Funeral Mass can happen soon after your death, with or without the body, depending on the type of donation. However, the Burial Rite may take place much later. It is required that when they have finished with your body that your remains be given a Christian burial. Bodies which have been donated to science are always cremated. As such, the cremated…

April 6th, 2011

Yes, you should. Your presence there is about paying your respects to your deceased friend. It is not about making a statement. Also, remember that it is HIS minister, not yours. Go to the service, be respectful, comfort the family and pray for the repose of his soul. Participate in the service to the extent that you are able to in conscience. Most Protestant traditions do not offer communion at funerals, but if they do, politely decline as it would be dishonest to participate in communion with a church with whom we are not in full communion. The best thing to say to the family is “I am very sorry for your loss.” Remember, at funerals the family will seldom remember anything you said, but they will never forget that…

March 23rd, 2011

The Taize Community, founded in 1940 by Brother Roger Schutz, is an ecumenical Christian monastic community with its roots in Catholic and Protestant traditions. The community also makes use of other Christian traditions such as the veneration of icons as in the Eastern Orthodox Church. There have always been Catholic members of the community, which today numbers about 100 men. Brother Roger himself became Catholic late in life.
Most of the lyrical chant which typifies Taize prayer was composed by Jacques Berthier or Joseph Gelineau. It uses simple phrases from scriptures, in four part harmony, usually repeated or sung in a canon (round). It is very appropriate for Catholic worship. The Taize chant, “Veni,…

March 11th, 2011

Yes, it is. Almost all world religions prohibit interreligious marriage or severely restrict it. They do this for several good reasons. First, it is necessary for the cohesion of the family. The old adage, “The family who prays together, stays together,” is more than just a nice platitude. When a family is united in faith, it is united at its very core. Interfaith families have to deal with this lack of cohesion which lies at the very foundation of the family. Second, and related to this, sad experience has shown that interreligious marriages fail at more than three times the rate of marriages where couples share the same faith. Third, experience has also shown that there is a real, grave danger that one or both…

March 2nd, 2011

Sadly, yes. In an article by Naomi Schaefer Riley, in the Sunday, June 6, 2010, edition of the Washington Post, she notes that the American Religious Identification Survey of 2001 indicates that couples in religiously mixed marriages are three times more likely to get divorced than couples who share the same religious faith. There are also variations, usually more tragic, for those of differing degrees of religious belief.
The basic reason cited by Schaefer Riley is that most people don’t realize what a profound impact their religious heritage has on their approach and expectations of all relationships, including marriage. Often the degree to which they are influenced by their faith, even if they do not…

February 23rd, 2011

No, this is never a good idea. If you truly want to explore other religions, it is best to do so from a point of view which is firmly grounded in your own Catholic Faith. This is to avoid the problem of relativism which leads to synchretism. Relativism is the attitude that all religions are basically the same. Distinctions are minimized and what is unique about each one becomes diminished to the point of obscurity. Synchretism is the attempt to take different elements of the various faith traditions and combine them into some amalgamation which is truly representative of none of them.
The fact of the matter is that you cannot validly assess another faith tradition unless you are firmly rooted in your own first. So, take…

February 16th, 2011

Since you are writing a Catholic website, I’m assuming that either you or your fiancé is Catholic, so I’m going to answer the question with that in mind. You also don’t mention whether the proposed marriage is between two Christians or between a Catholic and someone from another religion, so I’ll answer both.
It’s important to remember that strictly speaking, the Church prohibits mixed marriages (between a Catholic and a Christian of another tradition, also called “interchurch marriages”) and interreligious marriages (between a Catholic and an unbaptized person). Dispensation from this prohibition by the competent diocesan authority is possible, but is certainly not guaranteed (it…

February 9th, 2011

Words are very important here. Because of very real differences in faith, it is not possible for Christians to pray with those of another religious tradition. However, we may, and in fact are encouraged to respectfully be in the presence of people of other religious traditions when they are at prayer, just as we would encourage them to observe us when we pray. A very helpful book in this regard is How to be a Perfect Stranger: A Guide to Etiquette in Other People’s Religious Ceremonies (Arthur J. Magida, ed., Jewish Lights Publishing, 1996, 3rd ed., 2003).
The same principle applies with saying grace. You may certainly respectfully observe while someone from another tradition blesses the meal. Likewise, if they…

February 2nd, 2011

It depends on what your wife’s religious tradition is. If she is Christian, then there are many things which you already hold in common which you should celebrate such as your common baptism, common scriptures, belief in Jesus as Lord, etc. In short, what you can do together in conscience, you should do together, refraining only from those things which cannot be shared in conscience, such as reception of the Eucharist. It is also important that you have a good knowledge of your spouse’s religious tradition since it’s part of who she is.
If your wife is not Christian, then it’s important to keep two things in mind. First, because of the great differences in faith, strictly speaking, it is not possible for us…

January 26th, 2011

No, not true. Even better than true. What your friend is referring to is the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification which was signed by the Vatican and the Lutheran World Federation on October 31, 1999. See: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/chrstuni/documents/rc_pc_chrstuni_doc_31101999_cath-luth-joint-declaration_en.html
The document represents the culmination of decades of ecumenical dialogue at the highest levels of our two traditions on the very doctrine that was the primary dispute which many say actually caused the Reformation in the first place. It’s important to read the document to appreciate the richness of the text, but in short, it says that…

January 19th, 2011

This is a very insightful question. Sometimes the differences in interpretation of Scripture and Tradition seem overwhelming. However, unity is possible because Christ prayed for it at the Last Supper “that they all be one…so that the world may believe.” Thus, as John Paul II said in Paragraph 20 of Ut Unum Sint, “the movement promoting Christian unity, is not just some sort of “appendix” which is added to the Church’s traditional activity. Rather, ecumenism is an organic part of her life and work, and consequently must pervade all that she is and does.” (See: http://www.vatican.va/edocs/ENG0221/_INDEX.HTM)
So unity is possible, it’s just a matter of how. The principle…

January 12th, 2011

Wait a minute! You if you reading this, you are already logged into one of the most popular Catholic websites on the planet! Throughout our history the Church has been at the forefront of social communications. There are several popular figures who come to mind just in the last century. In the 1950’s, Archbishop Fulton Sheen’s television show, “Life is Worth Living” was more popular than the Milton Berle. In 1952, Sheen won an Emmy for Most Outstanding Television Personality. Sheen continued to be on the airwaves in one way or another until 1968, garnering millions of viewers. Arguably, the most recent and most popular of Catholic media personality is Mother Angelica who founded the Eternal Word Television…

January 5th, 2011

Secular Humanism is a particular worldview based on the principles of the Enlightenment. Typically, it dismisses religious affiliation or faith as beneath the dignity of the human person, who by reason and intellect alone, is capable of self actualization. Two of the most quoted phrases in this regard come from the 1973 Humanist Manifesto: “No deity will save us; we must save ourselves,” and “We are responsible for what we are and for what we will be,”
The principles of Secular Humanism can be found in the three “Humanist Manifestoes.” The first was published in 1933 by its principle authors, Roy Wood Sellars and Raymond Bragg, with 34 original signatories. It had fifteen principles…

December 1st, 2010

Catholics liked him…a lot. And rightfully so since, even though he was a Hindu and not a Christian, he embodied much about what the Church stands for in her moral teaching. As the Second Vatican Council said in Nostra Aetate, the Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions:
“The Catholic Church rejects nothing that is true and holy in these religions. She regards with sincere reverence those ways of conduct and of life, those precepts and teachings which, though differing in many aspects from the ones she holds and sets forth, nonetheless often reflect a ray of that Truth which enlightens all men.”
Ghandi’s use of non-violent civic disobedience was especially revered. Ghandi…

November 24th, 2010

There are three principle ways in which one can be involved in the ecumenism, the cause of Christian Unity.
The first is Prayer. On the night before he died, Christ prayed for his disciples, “May they all be one…so that the world may believe that you sent me.” (Jn 17:21) So first, we must join our prayer to that of Christ. Since all Christians share a common baptism, we can pray for unity as individuals, in groups, and even in certain liturgical settings such as the Liturgy of the Hours. Sadly, because of the very real differences in faith and understanding, we cannot yet share the Eucharist with other Christians.
The second way to be involved in ecumenism is to work with other Christians in projects or programs…

November 17th, 2010

On the night before he died, as he instituted the Eucharist, Jesus prayed for the unity of his disciples when he said,
“I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me.”
- Jn 17:22-21.
Jesus prayed for a unity in the Church. We must take this prayer very seriously. For if we do not take seriously the Son who suffered and died for us, then we do not take seriously the Father who raised Him up in the Spirit. The credibility of the gospel depends on a unified witness.
Well, quite frankly, we blew it. Over the last 20 centuries, the Church as seen several major…

November 10th, 2010

Yes, indeed, the two most notable in the United States are Islam and Judaism. In Islam the daily prayers and recitation of the Qur’an is most properly done in Arabic. This is because Muslims believe that the Qur’an was revealed to the prophet Mohammed in that language. However, sermons and instructions are almost always given in the local language. The practice is more varied the Jewish world, depending on what strand of Judaism one belongs to. According to halakha, the collective body of Jewish religious law, all individual prayers and virtually all communal prayers may be said in any language that the person praying understands. Nevertheless, most Ashkenazi Orthodox synagogues use the Ashkenazi…

November 3rd, 2010

The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopalian Church is the Most Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori, previously Bishop of Nevada. Dr. Jefferts Schori was elected at the 75th General Convention on June 18, 2006 and invested at Washington National Cathedral on November 4, 2006, as the twenty-sixth Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church. As Presiding Bishop, she is chief pastor to the Episcopal Church’s 2.4 million members in 110 dioceses in sixteen countries. She also enjoys the title of “Primate,” along with the leaders of the other 38 Provinces in the Anglican Communion.…

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