Reasonably Catholic: Keeping the Faith

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Smile! It’s tax day! We advanced “the common good”!

Click here to listen to an episode about Catholic social teaching on taxes:

Fr. Fred Kammer, SJJesuit Fr. Fred Kammer, a lawyer, author, teacher and retreat director based at Loyola University in New Orleans, where he is the director of the Jesuit Social Research Institute, explains Catholic social teaching on taxes and how US tax policy is too regressive and thus out of step with moral dictates dating back to ancient times which also have long been promulgated by the Catholic Church. Fr. Fred has advocated for social justice in many capacities, including as the president and CEO of Catholic Charities USA, the nation’s largest voluntary human service network. He now serves as director of the Jesuit Social Research Institute at Loyola. He is the author of  Doing Faithjustice: An Introduction to Catholic Social Thought (1991, Paulist Press);   Salted with Fire: Spirituality for the Faithjustice Journey (1995, Paulist Press, and 2008, Wipf and Stock Publishers); and Faith. Works. Wonders.—An Insider’s Guide to Catholic Charities (2009, Wipf and Stock Publishers).

Here is the excerpt Fr. Fred read from a favorite speech. It was given by the late Czech poet and president Vaclav Havel in 1986 at Liberty Hall in Philadelphia:

“Either we have hope or we don’t; it is a dimension of the soul, and it’s not essentially dependent on some particular observation of the world or estimate of the situation. Hope is not prognostication. It is an orientation of the spirit, an orientation of the heart … Hope, in this deep and powerful sense, is not the same as joy that things are going well, or willingness to invest in enterprises that are obviously headed for early success, but rather an ability to work for something because it is good, not just because it stands a chance to succeed … Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out. It is this hope above all which gives us the strength to live and continually try new things, even in conditions that seem as hopeless as ours do now.” [Father Fred notes that three years after Havel gave this speech the Berlin Wall fell.]


Also, salvaged from the cutting room floor (ran out of time!), here’s audio of Fr. Fred’s answer to the question, “How is New Orleans doing, economically?”

Click the link below to listen:


Big promotionsNEW SAINTS – Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII will be canonized on April 27.


Bria and StephNEW MYSTICS — UConn seniors and NCAA national basketball champions Bria Hartley and Stephanie Dolson were just drafted by the WNBA’s Washington Mystics.


Below: photos from the Hartford parade celebrating the UConn men’s and women’s basketball teams’ winning all the marbles. The only other time a school won dual national championships was ten years ago — and it was UConn then, too. Two-hundred thousand people turned out for the parade and rally at the capitol — twice as many as turned out for Pope Francis’ Palm Sunday homily in St. Peter’s Square. Word is his holiness is working on his jump shot.

parade 1 parade 2 parade 3 parade 4parade 5The band, the women, the men (Shabazz Napier with arms outstretched), and NBC 30′s sportscaster Kevin Nathan, who does a great job and happens to be Catholic!


Finally, with thanks and a hat tippo to my sister-in-law Sherry, here’s a video of an Irish priest serenading a bride and groom with his take on Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”:

Singing padreClick below to listen:


















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Our April Fools’ Day Catholic Joke Show: We kid because we love!

Click here to hear the episode, an hour of Catholic comedy:


Pope_in_a_clown_noseA CATHOLIC JOKE SHOW? Why not? We’re sure Pope Francis would bestow his blessing. Here he is in a photo from last November, donning  a red clown nose with newlyweds who volunteer with a clown-therapy charity.



Pope and PrezPresident's gift to PopeGifted Leaders

From the New York Times coverage of President Obama’s visit with Pope Francis:

The two men appeared to share a lighthearted rapport during an exchange of gifts. Francis, an Argentine and the first pontiff from the Southern Hemisphere, gave the president two medallions, including one that symbolized the need for solidarity and peace between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.

He also presented Mr. Obama with a copy of “Evangelii Gaudium,” or “The Joy of the Gospel,” the apostolic exhortation that Francis released last November as his call for a new era of evangelization and for a renewed focus on the poor.

Mr. Obama presented Francis with a custom-made seed chest featuring a variety of fruit and vegetable seeds used in the White House garden, noting that the box was made from reclaimed wood from the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Baltimore.

“If you have a chance to come to the White House, we can show you our garden as well,” the president said. Using a Spanish phrase that can be translated as “Why not?” or “For sure,” Francis quickly responded.

“Cómo no?” he said.



2014 Assembly Logo DRAFT Purple 102513Voice of the Faithful in Hartford

HARTFORD — On Saturday, April 5, Voice of the Faithful comes to the Connecticut Convention Center for a day of presentations, workshops, prayer, and collegial collaboration.
Guest speakers will be John L. Allen, Jr., Catholic news correspondent and analyst for The Boston Globe and founder of the Vatican beat for National Catholic Reporter; and Fr. Thomas Reese, NCR‘s Senior Analyst and author of The Vatican: The Politics and Organization of the Catholic Church.

Featured presenters in six afternoon workshops include Fr. Tom Doyle, noted survivor advocate; Michael Ryan, specialist in guidelines for parish donations security; and four “conversation starters” from pastoral ministries for the Female Voices workshop.

The Assembly begins with registration at 9 a.m., the opening prayer is at 10 a.m. and the workshops begin at 2.

The assembly will close with a panel on new pathways to healing and reform, featuring Fr. Jim Connell, a canon lawyer and retired pastor who also helped found the Catholic Whistleblowers; Prof. Tom Porter, a trial lawyer, mediator, and Methodist minister from Boston University’s School of Theology, and William Casey, coordinator of a restorative justice program and former chair of VOTF’s Board.

Here’s the full agenda. Lunch is included in the $80 per person registration fee.

You can register easily online, or print out this registration form and mail it to the office (P.O. Box 423, Newton MA 02464) with a check for $80.

Please complete one form for EACH person; it’s the only way to choose your workshops.

If you stay overnight in Hartford, you may make reservations at the Marriott Hartford Downtown, located right next to the convention center, for only $89 per night.



Q. No Fr. Guido Sarducci in the joke show?


fr guido sarducci  A. No, while the clerical garb, cigarette and accent are funny, his material’s kinda — meh. Doesn’t translate well to radio.


Q. What about Bill Maher?

BILL MAHERA. Nah. Not funny. Just mean.


Q. Who told that last groaner of a joke about the guy who paints the house?

fr. joseph martinA. The late Fr. Joseph Martin

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Cooled-out “Son of God”; fired-up Voice of the Faithful

Press below to hear the episode:

son-of-god-movie-posterThe new feature film “Son of God” has Commonweal critic Richard Alleva scratching his head over the filmmakers’ vision.

Mark_Mullaney_for_blogVoice of the Faithful President Mark Mullaney believes the Francis papacy presents new opportunities to work with bishops on a raft of reforms. The 12-year-old organization, born of the laity’s shock and disgust over the clergy sex abuse crisis, holds its annual assembly in Hartford on April 5. It is open to the public. The theme: Turning Talk into Action. Click here for details:

Archbishop L. BlairWill Hartford Archbishop Leonard Blair be at the Connecticut Convention Center to welcome VOTF? 

Former VOTF board member Jayne O’Donnell of West Hartford says in an email: “I wrote to Blair just before his arrival in Htfd. to welcome him and to invite him to meet with me and Mark (in Htfd.) I suggested that we had similar goals to protect children and that VOTF would welcome the opportunity to work with Blair. The AB never responded.  VOTF will continue to reach out to AB Blair but I believe it will not happen until after the April 5th Assembly.”

She adds: “Sadly, I learned that the Archdiocese of Hartford vis-a-vis the AB has filed an appeal in a recent case that granted the plaintiff ³Jacob Doe $1 million and it asks the CT Supreme Court to find CT¹s current SOL [statute of limitations] unconstitutional. He want to severely shorten the window. This would allow perpetrators to go scott free in many cases. And it would impact ALL children who are abused, not just Catholic ones. Not to mention that the battery of expensive lawyers are being paid with monies that parishioners put into the collection basket each week.”

Brooke (Fraser) LigertwoodThe snippet of a song heard just before Richard Alleva’s review of “Son of God” is from Brooke (Fraser) Ligertwood’s cover of Hank Williams’s “How Can You Refuse Him Now?” Click here to hear it in its entirety:

Michael ReynoldsIs there anything you wish the Catholic Church understood about you or your LGBT loved ones? Michael Reynolds, a parishioner at St. Patrick St. Anthony in Hartford, is collecting stories to share with local pastors, to help them create more welcoming faith spaces. Email your thoughts to Mike by March 31 at; include as much or as little identifying information as you’re comfortable with.

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A Fat Tuesday Feast of Film and Faith: Commonweal critic Richard Alleva on the Oscars

Click below to hear the episode:


Richard AllevaRichard Alleva has written film criticism for the progressive Catholic journal Commonweal for 25 years.

Michael ReynoldsWhat do you wish the Church understood about your LGBT friends and family? Gay Catholic Michael Reynolds, a parishioner of St. Patrick St. Anthony Church in Hartford, asks you to put it into words, using as much or as little identifying information as you’re comfortable with. He plans to disseminate the information to Connecticut Catholic pastors. Send your contribution to by March 31.

The Great BeautyFYI: La Grande Bellezza (The Great Beauty), discussed on today’s show, is playing through Thursday, March 6, at Real Art Ways, 56 Arbor St., Hartford. Go to for info.

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Not out, but about: the true adventures of a seminarian in Vatican City

Jacques_Lamarre_for_web“I had no idea I would be confronted with my sexuality so immediately,” says Jacques Lamarre, playwright and communications director of the Mark Twain House in Hartford. He spent a year and a half pursuing the priesthood in Rome in the early ’90s. Most of his classmates were gay, and half left without becoming priests. “It was just a very weird, weird culture.”

Click below to hear the episode:

In the news:

UN to Vatican: Do the Right Thing

Real life Philomena meets Pope Francis

The Sisters Speak

Frank Bruni column: “A Pope You Can Eat”

Sr. Megan, 84, sentenced for anti-nuclear activism

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Knock over those pedestals: “We want our saints to look too pretty.” An exploration of holiness.

Click below to hear the episode:

saint of the dayMcCloskeyPatnewPat McCloskey, OFM, revised the latest edition of Saint of the Day (Franciscan Media). Find more — including a Saint of the Day app — at the website, Also see Fr. Pat’s article, “Pope Francis: Why the Name Fits”:

barbaraBarbara Pivarnik, who puts her Catholic faith in action by sitting with the dying and reaching out to prison inmates.

Fr. John bfast 1 smallFr. John bfast 2 smallReasonably Catholic‘s spiritual director, Fr. John Baptist Pesce, quoting St. Teresa of Avila: “When I pray, I pray. When I eat, I eat.” At the top of today’s episode, he shares some reflections on holiness and how he can recognize a “living saint.”

In the news:

pope francisBut perhaps a mixed blessing? Pope Francis calls the internet a “gift from God”:


Will he visit the U.S. in 2015?:

Phyllis ZaganoCongratulations! Hofstra University Prof. Phyllis Zagano, a National Catholic Reporter columnist and frequent Reasonably Catholic guest, wins a social justice award. The story and her acceptance speech can be found here:

Rosa at SOTURosa rocks! At the State of the Union address, U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) reacts to President Obama’s call for equal pay for equal work for women.

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“Be it resolved…”: a Congressional resolution lauding Pope Francis. Also, on not loving the Bill and Melinda Gates model: how Millennials give away wealth

With the wealth gap in the news, we hear from two people who walk the economic-justice  talk. Rep. John B. Larson, D-Conn.,  discusses, among other topics, the Congressional resolution he’s co-sponsored celebrating Pope Francis for being an example of compassion and humility; and Sarah Abbott, a wealthy 20-something, offers an unconventional approach to philanthropy.

Click below to hear the episode:

Rep.-Larson_for_blog Rep. John B. Larson, D-Conn.

Full text of H. Res. 440, introduced by Congressmen John B. Larson, D-Conn., and Peter King, R-NY, congratulating Pope Francis on his election and recognizing his inspirational statements and actions:

Whereas on March 13, 2013, Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, Argentina was elected Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church;
Whereas his election marked the first time a Pope from the Americas has been selected;
Whereas he is the first Jesuit to become Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church;
Whereas he took the papal name of Francis, becoming the first pope to take the name of St. Francis of Assisi, who was known for his devotion to humility and the poor;
Whereas he has demonstrated his humility by choosing not to live in the lavish Apostolic Palace, living instead with the clergy and lay people in the Vatican guesthouse;
Whereas on March 28, 2013, he broke from tradition during the washing of feet, when he washed the feet of 12 criminals, including two women, becoming the first pope to include women in the rite;
Whereas on November 6, he displayed his charity by caressing a man with severe disfigurement, drawing comparisons to the actions of his namesake, St. Francis, whose kiss of a leper forever changed his life by solidifying his commitment to the poorest among us;
Whereas when asked to describe himself during an interview with a Jesuit magazine, he replied ‘‘I am a sinner’’;
Whereas his emphasis on humanitarian efforts to alleviate suffering serves as an inspiration to Congress and all Americans;
Whereas his humility, his commitment to economic justice and improving the lives of the poor, and his outreach to individuals from all walks of life have been universally praised and are living examples of Jesus Christ’s message;
and Whereas his call to end inequality has echoed across the globe and brought millions together in solidarity:
Now, therefore, be it Resolved, That the House of Representatives congratulates Pope Francis on his election and recognizes his inspirational statements and actions.

Sarah-Abbott_for_blogSarah Abbott, national organizer with Resource Generation, helps trust-fund progressives put their inherited money toward grassroots causes and structural change. An enlightening book she mentions is called Classified: How to Stop Hiding Your Privilege and Use it for Social Change, by Karen Pittelman and Molly Hein. Learn more at

Pope Francis in the news:

U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan on “the guy”:

President Obama will meet with Pope Francis in March:

Pope names 19 Cardinals, focusing on the poor:

Pope baptizes baby of unmarried couple:

Pope blesses animals on feast of St. Francis:

Pope tells moms to go ahead and breastfeed in the Sistine Chapel:

In other Catholic news:
Chicago sex abuse cases revealed:

UConn women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma on the separation of Church and Sports:

Our new closing feature: Did You Know?

Did you know that the CT senate passed a bill on May 23 that increased the minimum wage to $8.70  and will increase it to $9.00  next year? This changes minimum wage workers’ salaries to $18,096 this year, and to $18,720 next year. The national poverty line for a family of four is $23,050.

 Did you know that  the average cost for a 2 bedroom apartment in Connecticut ranges from $1560-$2660/month or $18,720-$31,920.  This is why many minimum wage earners need to work 2 jobs, 6 days/week just to maintain shelter for their families.

 Did you know that Catholic Social Justice teaching states that ”every person has a fundamental right to life and a right to those things required for human decency”?

 Catholic Social Justice teaching also supports a living wage for people which is enough to live in dignity vs. a minimum wage which is not.  A living wage in CT is $46,100 for a family of 4.

 Action:  As Catholics, should we do more?  If your senator supported this bill, positive feedback to them would be helpful to let them know that others support poverty issues.

Fr-John-with-dove_smallPassionist Father John Baptist Pesce’s Christmas homily:

Why I can’t get my novel finished:


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