Topic: For the Public

Official Release: CMSM Sick with Grief and Disgust Over Ending DACA 

DACA Puzzle image

September 11, 2017

As Catholic religious leaders in the U.S., CMSM is sick with grief and disgust at the recent decision by the administration to put children and young people in abrupt uncertainty by ending DACA. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program provides work authorization and temporary protection from deportation to about 780,000 people who were brought to the United States as children. We have already heard reports of DACA students so disoriented by this decision that they have risked suicide. Further, the decision not only puts these children of God at risk of deportation in the near future but also even death in unknown, often dangerous countries.

Over 90% of these youth have graduated high school and nearly 90% are employed. If a legislative fix is truly desired then the administration should work with Congress rather than throw these children and young adults into turmoil. Our leaders should be asking what is justice rather than exact a narrow obsession with the apparent rule of law. It is simply not justice to further marginalize the vulnerable. God calls us to care for immigrants and treat them “no differently than the natives born among you.” (LV 19:34).

CMSM Executive Director, Rev. John Pavlik, OFM Cap. proclaims, “The President and Congress are playing the welfare and the lives of children, young people, and families against legislators who have shirked their responsibilities to provide the citizens of the United States an immigration policy worthy of the principles on which our society and our government are based. The moment to act justly and rightly is now.”

We see once again that we can no longer rely solely on phone calls, emails, statements, meetings with politicians, and spirited vigils or rally’s. We need to tap further into the creativity of prayer driven nonviolent resistance. In accord with our recent CMSM resolution on Gospel Nonviolence, we lift up our commitment to “solidarity and protection through accompaniment and nonviolent resistance for vulnerable immigrants.”

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Pope Francis Speaks to Columbian Priests, Religious in Recent Apostolic Visit

Pope Francis smiling

Pope Francis, who visited Colombia in early September, spoke on September 9 to priests, religious, seminarians and their families in Medellin. The Pope spoke of a “contagious apostolic zeal” that results from knowing and encountering Jesus, saying that “making him known by our word and deeds is our joy.” Comparing the Church of Colombia to “Jesus’ vine”, Pope Francis explained that the health of the vine is gauged by the harvest of genuine vocations despite today’s cultural crisis. This vine, he said, needs to be pruned of its imperfections through an “intimate and fruitful union with Jesus.”

Read the full text of the Pope’s remarks.

Father My Father: A Priest’s Son Takes His Case Directly to the Pope

As part of our ongoing effort to highlight important considerations in the ongoing work of child and youth protection in the church, we occasionally highlight articles about these needs.

From The Boston Globe (Part 2 of 2) – August 17, 2017

One bright morning three years ago, Vincent Doyle joined the thousands of Catholic faithful jamming St. Peter’s Square for a chance to see Pope Francis make his weekly public appearance and bestow his blessing on the crowd.

Unlike most of those standing in the searing Roman sun, Doyle was headed to a front-row seat in a reserved section very close to where the pope would emerge, and he was already silently rehearsing an urgent message in the pontiff’s native language.

“I am the son of a Catholic priest in Ireland,” he repeated in Spanish, praying he would not become tongue-tied or overcome with emotion when he met the Holy Father.

Read the full article.

Father My Father: Children of Catholic Priests Live With Secrets and Sorrow

As part of our ongoing effort to highlight important considerations in the ongoing work of child and youth protection in the church, we occasionally highlight articles about these needs.

From The Boston Globe (Part 1 of 2) – August 16, 2017

He carried his doubts and disappointment across miles and decades, from childhood to adulthood, and finally at the age of 48 to the kitchen table of a modest house outside of Buffalo. There, he would ask an elderly aunt and uncle to help him answer the question that had troubled him all his life: Why had his father always seemed to dislike him so much?

With his parents already dead, Jim Graham pleaded with his Aunt Kathryn and Uncle Otto to tell him the truth about his family. Finally, Kathryn unfolded a newsletter published by a Catholic religious order and slid it across the table. She jabbed a finger at a picture of a sad, balding figure wearing a priest’s clerical collar.

“Only the principals know for sure,” she said, “but this may be your father.”

Read the full article.

Religious brothers often overlooked in church life

from Catholic News Service, published in America, August 21, 2017

The church needs to look beyond ordained clergy for leadership, said Marianist Father James Heft during an address at the annual meeting of the Conference of Major Superiors of Men in Phoenix in early August.

Read more about Fr. Heft’s address and the CMSM 2017 Assembly

CMSM Celebrates the Common Brotherhood in Religious Life, Elects Officers, and Approves Resolution on Nonviolence

SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA (August 16, 2017).   The annual assembly of the Conference of Major Superiors of Men (CMSM), whose leaders represent more than 17,000 Catholic religious brothers and priests in the United States, was held August 1–4, 2017, in Scottsdale, Arizona.  At the opening event participants heard the first of four spiritual reflections presented by the Brother Stephen Glodek, SM, of the Marianist Province of the United States in St. Louis, MO, who provided daily spiritual reflections on the theme of the assembly, “All Brothers – Mediators of God’s Love.” Beginning with a reflection on the foundational vocation of the Brother as men “abiding in God,” Br. Glodek asserted that brothers serve as doorkeepers of male religious life.  On each of the following days, he then referred to brothers as a face of the covenant with God’s people, to the identity and mission directly reflected in the very name “brother,” and to brothers encountering persons at the peripheries of grace who may “appear to us as the foreigner and the enemy.”

In the first of the two keynote addresses at the assembly, Brother John Mark Falkenhain, OSB, a monk of Saint Meinrad Archabbey, delivered a presentation entitled, “The Mission and Charism of the Religious Brother:  An Uncomplicated Witness.” Br. John Mark challenged major superiors to examine how they might put the charism of their institutes in the primary place as an “uncomplicated witness,” musing on the rightfully positive commitment of members both for identity and for mission and speculated about how institutes of both lay and clerical members might benefit if all special formation for ministry were delayed until new members make a final commitment to communion in the charism. He admonished brothers in institutes “to be aware of the dignity of your call as consecrated religious in the Church, but to strive to live it with the greatest zeal.”

Father James Heft, SM, formerly chair of the Theology Department at the University of Dayton and now president of the Institute for Advance Catholic Studies at the University of Southern California, was the second major speaker at the assembly. His talk was entitled “The Common Brotherhood of Religious Life.” With reference to the development of religious charisms, Father Heft provided the attendees with a reflection both upon the gifts of the Holy Spirit imparted to founders of institutes and upon the dynamic role of laity in the development of religious institutes for the sake of mission. He cited two recent influential Church documents, one from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on the importance of charismatic and prophetic gifts in the Church and a second document issued by the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life on the identity and mission of the religious brother. The second document strongly supported the importance of the quality of community life in the vocation of the lay religious. Fr. Heft concluded with reference to five areas pointing to a more positive future for religious brothers which single out the great charismatic gift that the brotherhood is for the Church: the centrality of Baptism; vibrant communities of prayer; prophetic ministries; uniform dress that distinguishes the role; and, a “Marian style of evangelization” which is both prophetic and contemplative.

In his address to the assembly as President of the Conference, the Very Rev. Brian F. Terry, SA, spoke of his conviction regarding the mission and purpose of the Conference as it serves leadership and thus enables strong mission in relation to a multifaceted, universal Church that embraces a “coessential charismatic dimension of faith” witnessed to in religious institutes. He invited two members of the Executive Committee, Very Rev. Joseph Rodrigues, SDS, and Brother Larry Schatz, FSC, to contribute their observations on the workings of the CMSM as a Conference in relation to the other dimensions of the Church.

Brother Sean D. Sammon, FMS, a Marist Brother of the Schools, facilitated a panel discussion at the conclusion of the assembly in which the theme of the assembly was explored in conversation with three young men who, having experienced education with Marist Brothers, articulated both what they saw and what they learned about this way of living discipleship. Their comments allowed a new generation of young Catholics to address leadership and share what they see in the Church, in their peers, and in the men committed to religious life who taught or interacted with them.

A pre-assembly workshop entitled, “Model Procedures for Review Boards: A Practical Application,” was led by Brother Patrick Sean Moffett, CFC, Ph.D., who facilitated a conversation between the participants and a number of panelists. The workshop sought to help assure consistency in the utilization of Review Boards and to insure the highest level of confidence that child-care industry standards regarding the protection and safety of children and young people are being utilized.

At the membership meeting of the assembly, the members considered and overwhelmingly approved a resolution on nonviolence entitled “Gospel Nonviolence: The Way of the Church. The resolution states: “The Conference of Major Superiors of Men (CMSM) resolves to use both our individual charisms and experience as religious leaders to 1) significantly build up nonviolent practices and a culture of nonviolence; and 2) to invite Pope Francis to offer an encyclical on nonviolence, which would include a shift to a just peace approach for transforming conflict.”

During the elections which were held at the membership meeting of the assembly, CMSM members chose the Very Rev. Mark Padrez, O.P., Provincial of the Dominican Province of the Most Holy Name of Jesus, as President-Elect of the Conference. He will be installed as President at the conclusion of the 2018 assembly. Brother Larry Schatz, FSC, Provincial of the De La Salle Christian Brothers of the Midwest Province, was chosen as Vice President and he immediately began a two-year term. The CMSM membership also elected an At-Large member of the National Board: the Very Rev. Michael Thompson, CJ, Superior General of St. Joseph’s Society of the Sacred Heart (The Josephites). He begins a three-year term.


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US men’s religious orders commit to working for papal encyclical on nonviolence


from the National Catholic Reporter

The umbrella group of the leaders of U.S. Catholic men’s religious orders has committed to working to persuade Pope Francis to write a new encyclical letter focused on shifting church teaching away from just war theory towards Gospel nonviolence.

In a resolution adopted Aug. 3 at its annual assembly, The Conference of Major Superiors of Men declared it would “use both our individual charisms and experience as religious leaders to … invite Pope Francis to offer an encyclical on nonviolence, which would include a shift to a just peace approach for transforming conflict.”

View the article.

View the full resolution from the CMSM 2017 Assembly.


In Memoriam: Fr. Michael Crosby, O.F.M. Cap.

Fr. Michael Crosby

We commend to your prayers the late Fr. Michael Crosby, O.F.M. Cap. Crosby died August 5 at age 77, following months of battling cancer of the esophagus. A distinguished theologian and friar for over 50 years, Crosby’s books and lectures on church reform and biblical discipleship made his name known to Catholics across the country. He also proved a familiar and formidable figure in the boardrooms of corporate America through his dogged pursuit of socially responsible practices. The National Catholic Reporter’s Brian Roewe has offered an obituary tribute to his life and work.

CMSM National Assembly Overwhelmingly Passes Resolution on Gospel Nonviolence


On August 3, 2017, the national assembly of the leaders of U.S. Catholic men’s religious institutes overwhelming approved the resolution “Gospel Nonviolence: The Way of the Church.” Extending the fruit and work of the Nonviolence and Just Peace conference in Rome 2016, this resolution commits and calls members of the CMSM to “use both our individual charisms and experience as religious leaders to 1) significantly build up nonviolent practices and a culture of nonviolence; and 2) to invite Pope Francis to offer an encyclical on nonviolence, which would include a shift to a just peace approach for transforming conflict.”

Many of our members have religious brothers courageously serving and creatively practicing nonviolence in zones of violent conflict in the U.S. and around the world, such as South Sudan, Syria, Iraq, and El Salvador. We see the violence in our streets, the structural violence of massive inequality and preparations for war, and the cultural violence of some political discourse, all white supremacy, and lack of basic respect for others who disagree with us.

CMSM President, Very Rev. Brian Terry, SA says “We need always to remember the words of Pope Francis which reminds us that if we are not giving witness to the Gospel of Christ we are giving testimony to something else.”

The resolution celebrates Pope Francis’ 2017 World Day of Peace Message which affirmed that “true followers of Jesus embrace his teaching about nonviolence” and called us to “make active nonviolence our way of life.” The resolution commits members and calls the broader Catholic Church to regularly pray for conversion and confess our own violence; to educate about Gospel nonviolence and a just peace approach; to train, advocate, and invest in building up nonviolent practices such as restorative justice, unarmed civilian protection, nonviolent resistance, and nonviolent civilian-based defense; as well as to offer solidarity and protection through accompaniment and nonviolent resistance for immigrants, oppressed religious and ethnic minorities, and other marginalized persons. Finally, it commits us and calls the Catholic Church to de-legitimate war by building up alternatives to the violence of lethal force and moving away from justifying war. Further, it commits us to advance Vatican II’s call to “outlaw war” by moving away from just war reasoning and toward a just peace approach for transforming conflict.

Read the full resolution text.

Download a copy of this media release.

Priests’ Prophetic Roles

Fr. John Pavlik, OFM Cap.

A recent article by CMSM Executive Director Fr. John Pavlik, OFM Cap. in Our Sunday Visitor reflects on the importance of the exercise of the prophetic vocation in the ministry of the priesthood.

Is it possible or desirable for priests more deliberately to manifest a prophetic dimension of our vocation?

Would people who know you say that you are prophetic in your ministry?

Recently, I conversed with a fellow priest of a large Southern U.S. diocese as we awaited the commencement of a long liturgical procession. Anglo-Caucasians, he and I stood among the marvelous ethnic diversity of the presbyterate in a vibrant local church set among an economically thriving mixed urban-suburban-rural metro region. This priest told me that he pastors a parish huge in both numbers of parishioners and in territory.

Obviously perceptive and well-studied, this pastor replied thoughtfully to my question about issues confronting his congregation. In conversation he named a few: immigrant families attending to their offspring becoming acculturated to U.S. society; youths somewhat disaffected from the regular exercise of religion; religious education needs for all parishioners stretching the constrained resources of the congregation; uncertainty and fear regarding a new phrase in national leadership; and a norm for families of long hours of labor to provide sufficiently where cellphone packages can cost $500 or more per month, coupled with a recognition that strong family life demands personal presence and shared affection.

Thinking about this article on the prophetic dimension of our priesthood, I wondered how he would respond to these reflections examining a dimension of our ministry that our complex responsibilities might seem variously to take for granted, honor and/or ignore.

Read the full article.