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My Christmas letter

Archbishop Paul S. Coakley         December 25, 2016

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

As I write this message, we are drawing very near to the beautiful feast of Christ’s birth. I want to take this opportunity to wish each of you a very blessed Christmas season.

This time of year is filled with many celebrations and customs, which we observe with family, friends and loved ones. It is an especially rich time of year to celebrate with fellow believers. The liturgical celebrations of Christmas help us gaze more deeply into the wonder and mystery of the Incarnation.


Father Stanley Francis Rother, martyr

Archbishop Paul S. Coakley                       Dec. 11, 2016 

On Friday, Dec. 2, we received the long awaited news that Pope Francis had declared Father Stanley Rother, Oklahoma priest and missionary, a martyr of the Catholic Church. This official announcement paves the way for his eventual beatification, sometime in 2017, after which he will be known as Blessed Stanley Francis Rother. Once beatified, his name will be included in the Roman martyrology, the official list of saints and blesseds of the Catholic Church.

Though this news surely has been received with tremendous rejoicing here in Oklahoma, it is a gift and blessing for our whole country and for the universal Church.

Born in Okarche in 1935, ordained a priest in Oklahoma City in 1963, Father Rother eventually volunteered to serve the Oklahoma mission in Guatemala. He spent the remainder of his life, from 1968 until his death in 1981, ministering to his flock in the remote villages of Santiago Atitlan and Cerro de Oro along the shores of beautiful Lake Atitlan. Father Rother, or Padre Aplas as he was known to his Mayan parishioners, was murdered in his rectory at the parish church of Santiago Apostol on the night of July 28, 1981. 


A time to heal

Archbishop Paul S. Coakley         November 27, 2016

This is not the column I expected to write this week. Truth be told I expected to be writing about the prospects and challenges of a Clinton presidency. It would have been a notable first for the country had we elected our first woman president. That will have to wait. On the other hand, there would certainly have been many very serious concerns: the HHS mandate, same-sex marriage and transgenderism would have secured another powerful and influential advocate in the White House. Foremost in my mind was concern for the type of Supreme Court nominees that a President Hillary Clinton would almost certainly have proposed to the Senate. There would be little or no hope of turning back the expansion of abortion access for the next few decades.


Mercy and the four last things

Archbishop Paul S. Coakley         November 13, 2016

We are drawing near the end of the Jubilee Year of Mercy. Divine mercy offers the best context for meditating on what the Church calls the four last things: death, judgment, heaven and hell. 

During the month of November, the Church’s liturgy and popular devotion turn our attention to these matters of ultimate concern. This is no morbid fascination, but a sober reminder of the transitory nature of this world and a bold summons to Christian hope. We began the month celebrating the saints in glory on All Saints Day. On Nov. 2, we observed the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (All Souls Day), and later in the month, on the last Sunday of the liturgical year, we celebrate the triumphant Solemnity of Christ the King.


Voting is a moral act

Archbishop Paul S. Coakley         October 30, 2016

The presidential debates are now behind us and Election Day is looming large. One of the most common reactions to the astonishing developments of this election cycle is a troubling question: how did we get here? Are these really the best candidates that our nation has to choose from in electing the next president of the United States?


State Question 790: Helping the “least of these” while healing the past

Archbishop Paul S. Coakley        October 16, 2016

In all the turmoil surrounding the presidential election, many people overlook the fact that there are a number of other very important elections on the ballot in November as well. These could have profound effects on the lives of many Oklahomans, especially the neediest. One of these important issues is an Oklahoma ballot measure called “State Question 790.”

If State Question 790 passes, Oklahomans would remove a current major threat to religious organizations – including Catholic social service agencies – who serve the poor, refugees, the disabled, the homeless, the hungry and many other needy people in our state.


Election Day is approaching: what are we to do?

Archbishop Paul S. Coakley       October 2, 2016

In little more than a month, American citizens will be going to the polls to elect local, state and national leaders, and to weigh in on many questions that will help shape our society for years to come. The right to vote is a precious thing. It is a privilege that we never can take for granted. Even more than a privilege, however, voting is a moral responsibility for those who are eligible to vote.

Admittedly, like many other people, I am more than ready for the campaign season and Election Day to be behind us. It has been deeply disturbing. The quality of candidates that we voters have to choose from for certain offices is far less than we might have hoped and certainly far from consistent with many of the historic values and aspirations of this great nation. For Catholics who take seriously their public responsibilities and seek to integrate their deeply held religious beliefs with their civic duties, we are faced with a more difficult discernment than in any election in recent memory. At the top of each ticket, we are faced with deeply flawed candidates. (That shouldn’t come as a great surprise, however, since all of us are flawed and sinful human beings.) Some Catholics who I have spoken with are so disheartened by our choice of candidates for president that they are considering staying home on Election Day.


Open eyes, open doors, open hearts

Archbishop Paul S. Coakley          Sept. 18, 2016

During the week of Sept. 5-10, the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City hosted leaders from the National Catholic Partnership on Disabilities. Jan Benton, executive director of NCPD and Esther Garcia, NCPD manager of programs and outreach, were here to assist us in assessing the needs of families and persons with various types of disabilities and to formulate a more effective response to these important members of our parishes.


Life as camino

Archbishop Paul S. Coakley          Sept. 4, 2016

On Aug. 10, I set out from Oviedo in Spain with my friend and fellow pilgrim, Bishop James Wall, to walk the ancient Camino Primitivo. Over the next 14 days, we would cover 212 miles as we made our way toward Compostela. The Camino Primitivo is the oldest of the network of pilgrim ways that make up the Camino de Santiago (Way of Saint James), which for the past 1,100 has carried pilgrims to the tomb of Saint James the Greater in the cathedral of the city that bears his name, Santiago de Compostela.


Shaping a culture of life: what about the death penalty?

Archbishop Paul S. Coakley         Aug. 21, 2016

High profile mishaps involving the execution protocols in our state as well as exonerations of death row inmates resulting from DNA evidence and/or new evidence have many people reconsidering their support of the death penalty.