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Apostolic nuncio to USCCB: be pastoral, not ideological.

As the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops prepares to elect its next president, the apostolic nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, delivered a remarkably pointed address urging bishops to be "pastoral," not ideological.

Pope Francis, Vigano said, "wants bishops in tune with their people." The pope

is giving us by, his own witness, an example of how to live a life attuned to the values of the gospel. While each of us must take into consideration our adaptability to the many different circumstances and cultures in which we live and the people whom we serve, there has to be a noticeable life style characterized by simplicity and holiness of life. This is a sure way to bring our people to an awareness of the truth of our message.

Vigano quoted liberally from Pope Paul VI's Evangelii Nuntiandi, which, he noted, Francis has called "the greatest pastoral document written to date." It was promulgated in 1975.

"The first means of evangelization," Paul VI wrote,

is the witness of an authentically Christian life, given over to God in a communion that nothing should destroy and at the same time given to one's neighbor with limitless zeal. As we said recently to a group of lay people, 'Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers. and if it does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses.'"

That witness, Vigano suggested, is what's required in order to carry on the work of Vatican II.

Vigano also cited John Paul II and John XXIII to highlight the constant "call to attentiveness, watchfulness, and preparedness for whatever proclaiming the gospel may mean for us as successors of the Apostles, who were called to give radical witness to their faith in Jesus Christ."

Noting that American culture is marked by a diversity of views, Vigano observed that "this is also true of the church." But, he warned, "we must take care that, for us as a church, this diversity does not grow into division through misinterpretation or misunderstanding, and that division does not deteriorate into fragmentation."

In conclusion, Vigano mentioned an article describing the past half-centuray of U.S. politics. Its subtitle: "The era of polarization began as Americans lost confidence in their leaders."

"Well said," Vigano continued, "since the Catholic Church will preserve her unity and strength as long as its people have trust in their bishops."




Commenting Guidelines

The alleged quote from Wojlyta is interesting. Putting it into the context of the Soviet threat  as some have done might explain it.

But I am curious about the source of the quote itself. Googling turns it up everywhere, but nobody provides a verifiable citation (perhaps from a journal or news article from 1976 or shortly following).  Wikiquotes has it on the JPII page, but of all the quotes provided there, it is the only one that is called "unsourced".

Does anyone have a primary source for this quote? Is it real or is it an urban legend?

I found a copy of the address given by Wojtyla at the Eucharistic Congress in 1976 in Philadelphia. The document can be found at the EWTN website and carries this information - " Taken from:
L'Osservatore Romano
Weekly Edition in English
26 October 1978, page 8

This address does not include the quote cited by the papal nuncio.  So where did this quote come from?  Is it a real quote at all? It has gone viral in Catholic cyberspace.


The four sources of morality are: Scripture, Revelation, Reason and Human Experience.

If you want to claim "authority" as your ultimate source, as the Magisterium and their interpretation of Scripture and Revelation, Reason and Human Experience, then this is the weakest of moral methods. The Church does not profess to adhere to a particular moral method to determine the morality of voluntary human action, but most would agree that they mostly follow the ethics of Thomas Aquinas, where there is no concensus of interpretations. Each school believes they are right. 

In the end, a person has to use their God-given reason and faith, continuing education, prayer, sacrament, and the advice of their spiritual advisor to arrive at "moral" decisions. This is expecially relevant today because the Catholic Church is divided across the entire sensus fidelium (clergy, theologians/religous, non-theologian laity), and we live in a crisis of truth. We are divided as to abortion (e.g, to save the life of the mother when the fetus is not viable), contraception (e.g., NFP is not the only licit means of fertility regulation pleasing to God), reconcilation and Eucharistic reception for the divorced and remarried, same-sex unions that reflect a committed, faithful and long-term loving relationship, and the use of reproductive technologies for couples that have serious fertilty problems and can conceive a child of their own genes by modern methods.

As for Polls, they are only important to determine reception and problems. These problems must be adequately addressed and only a convincing theology that rings true to the deepest levels of one's mind, heart and soul will increase reception and illuminate truth. For the vast majority of Catholics the fundamentals of our faith is not in dispute. What is in dispute is certain moral teachings, in particular marital sexual ethics.




Thanks, Anne, I have been trying to run that down and have not had any luck. Probably worth a post.

The statement attributed to Cardinal Karol Wojtyla was not solely influenced by the mystic Ann Katherine Emmerich.

One of Karol Wojtyla's great spiritual role models as a young man was Jan Tryranowski, and accountant who finished high school but, for reasons of health, worked as a simple tailor at his father's shop. Tyranowski was a mystic who with the Church authorities devoted his spare time to working with young boys at the Krakow parish of St. Stanislaus Kostka. Tyranowski invited Karol into a religuous study group focused on building faith and character among young men. He introduced Wojtyla to mysticism and to a program of daily self-improvement and spiritual care. He taught Wojtyla self control and responsibility for his thoughts and actions. It was the spirituality of Tyranowski that Wojtyla as a young man made a choice between theather and the priesthood. By 2008, Jan Tyranowski was being considered for beatification and eventual sainthood in the Catholic Church.

There were many other people that influenced Cardinal Wojtyla/JP II. However, I cannot emphasize the importance of polish natiionalism, et al, during the 1930s-1950s, as I have explained earlier.

Later in life, as Cardinal and Pope, Karol Wojtyla was greatly influenced by Dr. Wanda Poltawska, a psychiatrist and survivor of the Ravensbrook Concentration Medical Experiments, and the source of much of his misinformation about human sexuality, Western Culure and women, as well as Dr. Ann-Teresa Tymieniecka, a Polish born aristocratic woman and philosopher.




It seems that the quote is supposed to come from “Notable and Quotable,” The Wall Street Journal, November 9, 1978, page 30 (editorial page), which I was unable to access. I read that that source indicates that the then-Cardinal Wojtylamade this statement in his last speech during his visit to the U.S., in September 1976.



Anne Chapman:

The quote is not from the Eucharistic Congress but from the time when Wojtyla came to Philadelphia as Pope Oct 3,4 1979. It may have been at the outdoor Mass on the Parkway.


Anne C. --

Thanks for the research.  I'm wondering now whether JP II ever said it at all.  It does sound like a stronger statement than I'd expect from him.  In my opinion some of the devotion to him is downright cultish, and members of cults are often not the best balanced people.  Perhaps one of the screwyer JP II cultists misconstrued what he actually said in '76 and then repeated it "from memory" somewhere as a quotation.  That sounds more likely to me than a direct quote. 

Anne Chapman:

I want to correct my assumption that the quote came from Pope John Paul II's visit to Philadelphia as pope in 1979. I was influenced by a website (Children of Mary, an Emerging Semi-Contemplative Community of Sisters) that I visited that came up when I searched for the quote. 

I got carried away, since I have a memory of that event, although I don't have a clue what he said in his homily. or any other address that he gave at that time. I was working in the archdiocesan office for religious education and was given two complimentary tickets to the Mass in one of the front seats. I gave then to my best friend and her mother who were thrilled to death. To be honest, it was not that big a deal for me. But...

I got myself a place in front of the statue of Kosciuszko near the Cathedral, since I figured he would pass there after the Mass and I could give him a wave. (Truth be told, he didn’t look my way.)


"I read that that source indicates that the then-Cardinal Wojtyla made this statement in his last speech during his visit to the U.S., in September 1976."

Not all the references to the quote (and there are more thatn I would ever have expected) are specific as to the date in 1976.  One source I read puts the quote on November 9, 1976.  Could it be that he adressed the bishops at the annual November meeting of the USCCB? Perhaps that is why Vigano quoted it even though he was not correct that it was said at the Eucharistic Congress, which was August 1-8, 1976.

"If the moral truths asserted by the Church are shown to be the moral truths taught by Christ, then there is no "search for truth" that could upend them."


The big "if" is wherein lies a rather large rub.

Completely off topic, but anyone living in NYC, I just got an interesting e-mail about a Talking Transiton event this Saturday:

"Hi friends, maybe you've heard of this interesting project in Manhattan in which people are gathering to discuss what they want the future of the city to look like under a new mayor. Different constiuencies (housing advocates, senior citizens, pedestrians) are getting together to envision a different future. It's all happening in an open to the public, come by and speak your mind space downtown. There's a Catholic one on Saturday at 4. 

Title:    A Faithful Discourse – NYC Catholics Discern the Next Administration 

Sponsor:   The Jesuit Collaborative

One sentence description:  Opening with a prayerful reflection, the session will consist of small group discussions on Catholic Social Justice teachings. Tables will focus on policy issues including: homelessness, housing, education, health, and workforce development using the recent messages from our current Pope on those in the margins of society.

When:   The date for the session is November 16th  beginning at 4:30 

Where:   The Transition Tent (a structure created just for these events) is located at the corner of 6th  Ave and Canal Street.


In their own words: "TALKING TRANSITION will pioneer the first “open” transition in New York City. It will transform the usual closed-door process between Election Day and Inauguration into an opportunity for broad public engagement. Thousands of New Yorkers will join public conversations about policy issues, ideas, and questions that affect their communities.”

Ann O, I find the quote to be slightly off - the kind of thing that flies around the web, but turns out to be a misquote of some kind.  That's why I am looking for an original source. 

Here is a link to all of John Paul II's talks/speeches/homilies in the 1979 visit to the US.

The quote is not found in the address to the bishops in 1976, either.

I have tried to find the reference to the Wall Street Journal quote and can't find it in the Nov 9, 1979 nor in the Nov 9, 1978 issue -both dates are referenced by third party sources.

I will keep looking when I have time. Finding the source of this quote seems too elusive - if it is an accurate quote. 

John Paul II needs a website, like the one for Mother Teresa, to combat false quotes.

What a hoot if the nuncio is quoting something JPII never said! 

I've been puzzling about how and why the apocalyptic note was sounded here. I suspect the reason is political, because it's certainly not logical. There are people who take an extreme view of the dangers we face as a church. The party of extreme anxiety about President Obama for instance takes an apocalyptic view of this presidency. Hasn't Cardinal George predicted that he will die in jail for his faith? We are mounting "fortnights for freedom" because some bishops are deeply anxious, and feel desperately threatened. Anyway, the point is that the prophets of doom are alive and well and right there among the bishops. So, after praising Pope Paul VI, whose role in implementing Vatican II has made him a villian among traditionalists and their natural allies, Vigano probably felt he had to throw them a bone. 

I find the JPII quote, if authentic, appalling. We'll all die of the sea rising before we'll see the sort of thing he purportedly warned us about. Fear mongering legitimates a more inflexible use of authority, and suppresses dialogue. It also leaves us with "the boy who cried wolf" when the wolf actually shows up at our door.

Nothing could be more different from fear-mongering than Paul VI's brilliant post-synodal exhortation, Evangelii nuntiandi. It breathes an entirely different spirit. 

With a little help from my friends, I've tracked down the quote. It appeared in the "Notable & Quotable" section of the Wall Street Journal on November 9, 1978. But the Journal itself cites another source, an "interim strike newspaper" called the New York City News. The speech is identified as "his last speech in the United States in September 1976."

Grant, you beat me to it. I was just going to provide that information. So far I have looked in vain for both the "interim strike newspaper" (New York City News) and for Wojtyla's "final speech" in September 1976.  Was he really still in the USA in September, given that he gave the speech at the Eucharistic Congress which was held during the first week of August, 1976. According to the document on the EWTN site, he gave the speech on August 3 and the Congress ended on the 8th. Perhaps he continued to travel in the US for another month, but I can't find information about it.   

Curiouser and curiouser. 

FYI: Anne and Grant:


July 23-Sept.5 Visit to the United States and Canada.

I bet the archives of the Catholic Standard and Times under editor John Foley has a lot of information.



"Before becoming pope in 1978, Cardinal Karol Wojtyla visited the United States twice. In 1969 he traveled to 12 cities in 12 days. He spent six weeks in the United States in 1976, visiting 13 cities, lecturing at universities and attending the 41st International Eucharistic Congress in Philadelphia."

"Although toiling in the shadow of the more prestigious daily newspapers, Hagedorn has had a fling as a big-time publisher. During the three-month newspaper strike in 1978, the City News expanded to a daily paper with a circulation of over 300,000, the largest interim paper in New York."

Anne: the communist who dies in September 1976 was Mao Zedong.

I never doubted the quote attributed to Cardinal Wojtyla/JP II for it reflected his thinking.

Nevertheless, it is important to note that Karol Wojtyla-John Paul II was not an extreme liberal or conservative, not an enemy of feminism nor a supporter of it, and not a blind advocate of democracy nor someone who entirely rejected it. He was a liberal Catholic bishop during Vatican II, liberal in terms of social ethics and ecumenism, but a strong conservative in terms of sexual ethics.

As bishop and cardinal there is much to admire in Karol Wojtyla. He helped free Poland from communism and his theology offered Catholics a way to act reverently with respect to their bodies and relationships. Nevertheless, his philosophy and theology were not free from serious misunderstandings about the world, especially Western societies, women and human sexuality.



Helen and Claire, we're getting there.

Does whoever finds an original source giving the date, place, and audience of the talk  win a prize?


Michael, I'm sure you are right, because you know more about John Paul II than anyone I know of, including, probably, the professional bloggers on this website.  But, it's still a strange quote and I would love to read it in context of whatever talk he gave.


On Monday, November 18, a vial of the blood of John Paul II will go on display at Saint Mary's Cathedral in Peoria, IL.  I hope this does not mean that he is the new San Gennaro, and that the festival in Little Italy in NYC will be discontinued.

As hard as it is to believe, wonders never cease!

Anne and Helen and Grant -- thanks for all the sleuthing

Claire -- thanks for the Mao Tse-Tung date.  I was really muddled on that one.

Alan -- let's hope the blood and all the sainly left-over corpses eveentually all get buried.  Ugh!!!

US bishops again reaffirm health care mandate opposition

From NCR. See also Whispers in the Loggia.

A statement unanimously approved by the US bishops at their meeting in Baltimore, but with a fleeting reference to each bishop's being free to grapple with the best approach in his diocese. Recipe for confusion, if not chaos? And the statement clearly evidences a hope for a solution to the bishops' continuing objections to the HHS mandate either in the Congess or the judiciary, religious freedom, including for individual Catholic business owners, being the paramount claim. 

Perhaps this deserves a separate thread.


@Alan Mitchell.  It can be a highlight at the annual fair at the shrine to Our Lady of Czestochowa in Doylestown

(and the Feast of St Anthony in the Bronx is way better anyway)


As a student at Fordham, I always enjoyed the feast for Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. Could not get enough of those zeppoli.

@ Alan C. Mitchell:  A totally personal reference:  Back in the Jurassic period, I taught at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel School right there on Bathgate Avenue.  Some days if I close my eyes I can still smell the zeppoli and bread baking somewhere in the neighborhood.

"You can take the boy outta the Bronx, but you can't take the Bronx outta the boy!"

Found this short video about the Mt. Carmel School, which is just one block across from Fordham University on Fordham Road, right next to George Washington High School.  The school facilities look almost unchanged from when I was there.  I noticed that students are much more ethnically diverse now than it was then dominated by Italian American kids.

As Brother John DeLucer would have said, this is for your edification


Jim Jenkins,

Thanks for the video.  Brought back memories.

In those days I lived at Murray-Weigel Hall on the corner of Bathgate and East Fordham Road.  It was just a short trek to Arthur Avenue.  

I remember the high school as Thomas Jefferson.

Jim Jenkins,

Strike that last sentence. I meant Theodore Roosevelt High S