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The Saints: “Who are those guys?”

Archbishop Paul S. Coakley

I am a classic movies’ fan. There is a scene in “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” in which the two hero/outlaws (Paul Newman and Robert Redford) are being tracked through mountains and deserts by a relentless band of lawmen. In spite of all of their efforts, they are unable to shake them. Sundance turns to Butch and asks incredulously, “Who are those guys?”

We might ask the same question as we prepare to celebrate the Solemnity of All Saints on Nov. 1. Who are these men and women to whom the Church extends such honors?

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A crisis of global proportions

Archbishop Paul S. Coakley                                             Oct. 4, 2015

One of the great humanitarian challenges of our time has been the migration and refugee crisis that has grabbed the attention of the whole world.

Until recently, many of us in the United States have thought about migration primarily as an American concern. We think of our own immigration crisis. Recent political debates have reminded us of the complex issues surrounding our own immigration problems.

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Pope Francis is coming to the United States

Archbishop Paul S. Coakley

 By all measures Pope Francis’s visit to the United States this week will be an extraordinary event. It’s hard to recall a time when the Catholic Church in America has received such a positive media “buzz” throughout both traditional and social media channels. Pope Francis’ personal charisma is largely responsible for the widespread interest his pastoral visit is generating even before he sets foot on American soil.

 Pope Francis will be in the United States from Sept. 22-27. This visit will include a number of “firsts.”

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What can we learn from the passing of Mark Costello?

Archbishop Paul S. Coakley

Last week, Oklahomans publicly mourned the death of Mark Costello, who was tragically slain by the hand of his own dear son, Christian. The governor ordered flags flown at half-staff in Mark’s memory in acknowledgement of his dedicated service to the people of Oklahoma as labor commissioner, an office he had held since his election in 2010. As became apparent in the remarkable media coverage throughout the days following his death, Mark was many things to many people.

Mark was a dedicated and loving husband and father. He was a Catholic, passionately devoted to his faith in Jesus Christ. He was a successful businessman and entrepreneur. He was certainly a committed Republican. He was a generous benefactor to many Catholic institutions and other causes that he believed in. Mark was a friend to many, including many who were often forgotten and overlooked.

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Youth sports and sportsmanship

Archbishop Paul S. Coakley

 Karol Wojtyla, the man who became Saint John Paul II, was an avid athlete. As a youth and young man he played soccer. As a young priest he took college students on kayak outings. After becoming pope he continued to ski and even had a swimming pool built in Vatican City.

 Reflecting on the importance of sports Saint John Paul II observed that many important human values such as loyalty, fair play, generosity, solidarity and respect are common to both sports and Christian discipleship: “Are not these athletic values,” the pope mused, “the deepest aspirations and requirements of the Christian message?” These values form the foundation of solid human virtues and strong characters.

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Valuing life: Priceless

Archbishop Paul S. Coakley

More than 40 years ago, the Supreme Court of the United States issued Roe v. Wade, its landmark ruling legalizing abortion throughout the United States. Case closed. End of discussion. Or was it? Obviously the Supreme Court decision has not put an end to the public debate on abortion. The conversation continues, often rather contentiously.

The recent and ongoing release of a series of clandestine videos obtained by the Center for Medical Progress demonstrating Planned Parenthood’s involvement in the trafficking of organs harvested from aborted fetuses (pre-born babies) has renewed this debate with an urgency not seen in quite some time.

The graphic videos and incriminating statements made by Planned Parenthood officials have put that organization and its allies in the media and the government on the defensive. They also have awakened the consciences of many good-willed people and galvanized many more in the pro-life movement by providing new evidence of the gruesome facts intrinsic to the harsh realities of abortion, which have often been disguised by sanitized euphemisms such as “pro-choice” and “reproductive health.” This justified outrage has led to a renewed call for the federal government to defund Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the United States.

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Summer, leisure and the Lord’s Day

Archbishop Paul S. Coakley

In the Gospel, Jesus invites us to “Come away … and rest awhile” (Mk.6:31). This is a timely summertime theme since now is the time that many of us acknowledge our need for rest, and look forward to a change of pace in our busy lives.

 Whatever the rhythms of our lives, from time-to-time we need to refresh ourselves. We need time away from our ordinary work and daily concerns to restore our energies, to enjoy the natural beauties of creation, to spend time with family and friends, to remember our Creator. The rhythm of a regular “Sabbath” rest is very much a part of God’s plan for our well-being: “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mk.2:27).

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A first pass at ‘Laudato Si’

Archbishop Paul S. Coakley

 There is no question that “Laudato Si,” Pope Francis’ encyclical “On the Care of Our Common Home,” has been the most widely anticipated papal document in generations, perhaps ever.

 Many media organizations, social and religious commentators, and political candidates prepared talking points even before they read what the pope actually said.

 Having finally had an opportunity to read the lengthy text, I would like to share a few of my own reactions and invite you to take time to read and reflect upon this remarkable text yourselves. It is beautiful. It is challenging.

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The future of marriage hangs in the balance

Archbishop Paul S. Coakley

 The recent media fascination with the “transition” of Bruce Jenner into Caitlyn has highlighted the tragic confusion about gender and sexual difference in society today. Rooted in both natural law and divine revelation, our Catholic teaching affirms that men and women are equal and different. Together they are created in the image and likeness of God. Man and woman are designed by God in relation to one another to form a conjugal union that brings forth children. The consequences of this affirmation are far-reaching.

 Sexual difference is essential to marriage and child rearing. Our bodies matter. We don’t just have a body. We are a body. Without this basis in sexual difference and complementarity, there is no limit to what “marriage” could mean.

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Solidarity with the suffering Church

Archbishop Paul S. Coakley

 At the beginning of the 3rd century, the ancient Christian writer Tertullian observed that, “the blood of martyrs is the seed of Christians.” If this is so, we have reason to hope for an abundant harvest as the Church continues its pilgrimage into this third Christian millennium. We are living in an age of martyrs.

 Though we have recently become keenly aware of the persecution of Christians around the world due to the proliferation of smart phones and social media, this phenomenon is not new. Though largely ignored by the media, by social and political commentators and even by history books, the last 100 years have produced more Christian martyrs than any period in history.

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