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An Urgent Cry from the Middle East

Archbishop Paul S. Coakley

Early this month, Pope Francis summoned his papal nuncios (ambassadors accredited by the Holy See) stationed in the Middle East for an emergency meeting at the Vatican. They met from Oct. 2-4. Their purpose was to discuss the deteriorating situation in the Middle East, especially the plight of Christians in that ancient land that gave birth to the Christian faith. The Christian population has plummeted in recent years as Christians have borne a disproportionate share of the burden in a region rife with conflict and a host of humanitarian crises.

From Oct. 7-12, I had the privilege of traveling to the Middle East with Catholic Relief Services (CRS). We visited Gaza, Jerusalem and the Kurdish region of Iraq. Our purpose was to observe, to listen and to learn from local church leaders, government officials and aid partners. But most importantly, we were there to put a face on a human tragedy and to demonstrate the solidarity of the Church in the United States and all Americans with our brothers and sisters who, regardless of their creed or ethnicity, are caught up in a crisis of catastrophic proportions.



Archbishop Paul S. Coakley

In a recent issue of the Sooner Catholic I shared a copy of the Aug. 29 letter I had submitted to Cardinal Angelo Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, concerning the Servant of God, Father Stanley Rother.

I had presented my letter personally along with an extensive document called the Positio, which summarizes the facts and testimony concerning the life and death of Father Rother. In that letter, I formally petitioned the Congregation to consider the merits of Father Rother’s Cause for Beatification and Canonization, and render an affirmative judgment that he is worthy to be considered a martyr of the Church. To that petition I added my own opinion that he is indeed worthy of such a designation.

In the course of a very cordial meeting, Cardinal Amato described the next steps in the process of advancing the Cause of this heroic priest from Okarche, who laid down his life while serving his parish of Santiago Atitlan in Guatemala on July 28, 1981.

Though there are numerous Causes submitted to the Congregation each year, and ours would have to be considered as only one among many, I went away from our meeting confident in the merits, strength and timeliness of our petition. My sense from the meeting was that this is precisely the kind of witness that Pope Francis wishes to offer the Church as a stimulus for the New Evangelization and to summon all Christians to heroic lives of missionary discipleship.

Apparently, that confidence has been well placed. In his Sept. 11 letter, Cardinal Amato informed me that the Cause of the Servant of God, Father Stanley Francis Rother, will be submitted the Theological Commission of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints early in 2015. To be very honest, this is a far more rapid response than I would have dared to imagine even after such an encouraging meeting with the Prefect.

What this means is that the members of this commission will begin their study of the Cause in the next few months. After completing their thorough analysis, they will submit their own findings to the Cardinals and Archbishops who constitute the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

The members of the Congregation will conduct their own study, make their own comments and ultimately submit their recommendation to the Holy Father. Should the Holy Father determine that Father Rother died as a martyr, a decree would be issued to that effect, thus allowing for his subsequent beatification.

Beatification, the final stage prior to canonization, permits public veneration and declares that the life of the Blessed is worthy of imitation among the Christian faithful.

More than 30 years have passed since Father Rother’s death. Many have prayed and labored that his heroic life might one day be lifted up as a beacon of holiness and pastoral charity for others. Now there is good reason to hope that the Church may soon acknowledge Father Stanley Rother as one of her martyrs. I am eager to share this news with you in order to urge you to renew your prayer for his beatification and canonization. What a blessing this would be for the Church in Oklahoma and throughout America, North and South.


Eucharistic Holy Hour - Homily

Archbishop Paul S. Coakley
September 21, 2014
St. Francis of Assisi Church

Praised be Jesus Christ!  It is my great privilege to welcome you to St. Francis of Assisi Church and to spend this hour together with the Lord in prayer and adoration.  Thank you for being here.  Your presence is a powerful witness of faith in the midst of what has been a particularly challenging time for our community.  I would like to gratefully acknowledge the participation of our Catholic people from around the Archdiocese but also those of you who have come from near and far to join us today.  I am especially grateful for the presence of my brother bishops (and their support), Archbishop Beltran, Bishop Slattery of Tulsa, Bishop Kemme of Wichita, Abbot Lawrence of St. Gregory's University and so many priests, deacons and religious women and men.  It is a special blessing to recognize here so many Christian leaders and believers from other churches and ecclesial communities who have come to join us in prayer as well.

We gather today in the presence of our Eucharistic Lord who is the source of our unity, imperfect though it might be, and our bond of charity.  We just heard our Lord proclaim:  “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” For Catholics these words from the sixth chapter of St. John’s Gospel are the very heart of our understanding and appreciation of the Holy Eucharist.  Jesus does not speak metaphorically when he says, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.  For my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink.  Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.”  It is truly Jesus whom we encounter and receive in the Holy Eucharist.




Archbishop Paul S. Coakley

On Sunday, Sept. 21, a local satanic sect apparently will be allowed to conduct a public act of blasphemy in the form of a so-called black mass at the Civic Center in Oklahoma City. In spite of an overwhelming outcry of alarm from around the world, our city leaders will allow this outrage to take place in a publicly supported facility. They will not accede to the reasonable requests of local citizens to stop this outright mockery of the Catholic Mass nor the reasonable concerns of so many that this satanic ritual invokes powers of evil and invites them into our community.

Even though our city leaders apparently do not take this threat seriously, I do. As a Catholic priest and bishop I have witnessed in my ministry the battle between forces of good and evil in both ordinary and extraordinary ways. It is not merely a struggle rooted in human weakness and ignorance, though these are certainly the source of much suffering and mayhem in our lives and in our world. Demonic activity and the chaotic forces of evil are very real. The madness of war accompanied by increasingly brutal acts of terror, the violence in our schools and communities are all evidence that something is terribly wrong.

The crucial battleground for the forces of good and evil is the human heart. As a Christian, I believe that Jesus Christ came to conquer the power of sin and to cast out demons. This was an essential part of his mission and ministry. It continues in his Church. Through his death and resurrection, Jesus Christ has gained the victory. He has destroyed the power of Satan, the Prince of Darkness and Father of Lies. The war has been won, though skirmishes will continue until Christ comes again in glory. As people of faith we dare not lose hope. Victory is assured.



Archbishop Paul S. Coakley

On Wednesday, Sept. 3, I had the privilege of presenting the Positio on the Servant of God, Father Stanley Rother, to the Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in Rome. The Positio is the distillation of all of the historical research and testimony that was painstakingly gathered to examine the course of Father Rother’s life and heroic death while serving as a parish priest at the Oklahoma mission in Guatemala. 

The Positio will be studied by the members of the Congregation, who then will recommend to the Holy Father whether Father Rother can be justly honored as a martyr for the Faith. This is a very important step in the process, which we hope will lead toward Father Rother’s beatification and canonization. I am including the text of my letter to Cardinal Amato that accompanied the Positio at its formal presentation. Please continue to remember this important intention in your prayers!




Archbishop Paul S. Coakley

In my last two columns I wrote about the so-called “black mass” that has been scheduled at our Civic Center in Oklahoma City. I do not want to write about it again. A quick scan of the alarming threats to peace and stability around the world might make all the attention we are focusing on this “black mass” seem incredibly myopic. 

We have all seen the troubling images and heard the alarming reports. The accounts of Christians being beheaded and crucified by ISIS in Iraq are raising concerns about genocide. Christians have now been expelled from the city of Mosul in northern Iraq where they had lived peacefully for more than 1,500 years. 

The simmering kettle of unrest throughout the Middle East seems ready to boil over with unthinkable consequences. Civil war in Syria rages on. Hundreds of thousands of persons have been displaced, flooding neighboring countries with refugees and creating a humanitarian disaster in the region.


Archbishop Coakley Calls for Prayer and Penance to Avert the Planned Sacrilege

August 4, 2014
The Memorial of St. John Vianney

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

By now you are probably aware that a Satanic group has scheduled a so-called Black Mass for Sunday, September 21 at the Civic Center Music Hall in Oklahoma City. 

Even though tickets are being sold for this event as if it were merely some sort of dark entertainment, this Satanic ritual is deadly serious.  It is a blasphemous and obscene inversion of the Catholic Mass.  Using a consecrated Host obtained illicitly from a Catholic church and desecrating it in the vilest ways imaginable, the practitioners offer it in sacrifice to Satan.  This terrible sacrilege is a deliberate attack on the Catholic Mass as well as the foundational beliefs of all Christians.  It mocks Our Lord Jesus Christ, whom we Catholics believe is truly present under the form of bread and wine in the Holy Eucharist when it has been consecrated by a validly ordained priest.


Arzobispo Coakley llama a la oración y la penitencia para evitar el sacrilegio planeado

4 de agosto de 2014
Memoria de San Juan María Vianney

Queridos Hermanos y Hermanas en Cristo,

Ya probablemente saben que un grupo satánico ha programado una llamada Misa Negra para el domingo, 21 de septiembre en el Salón de Música del Centro Cívico en Oklahoma City.

A pesar de que boletos se están vendiendo para este evento como si fuera simplemente algún tipo de entretenimiento oscuro, este ritual satánico es realmente algo muy serio. Es una inversión blasfema y obscena de la Misa Católica. Usando una Hostia consagrada obtenida ilícitamente de una Iglesia Católica y profanarla en las formas más viles imaginables, los practicantes lo ofrecen en sacrificio a Satanás. Este terrible sacrilegio es un ataque deliberado a la Misa Católica, así como las creencias fundamentales de todos los cristianos. Se burla de Nuestro Señor Jesucristo, a quien los Católicos creen que está realmente presente bajo las especies del pan y el vino en la Santa Eucaristía cuando ha sido consagrada por un sacerdote válidamente ordenado.


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“Deliver us from evil. Amen.”

Recently I came across a schedule of events for the Civic Center Music Hall in Oklahoma City.   Imagine my astonishment upon reading about a ticketed “Black Mass” performance that will be presented at this public institution! 

I am willing to give the benefit of the doubt and assume that this event was scheduled without knowledge of what was going to be taking place.  The so-called Black Mass is an occult ritual normally carried out in secret among those initiated into its dark mysteries.  It is astonishing that this is being performed in such a public way and in public space.  In a Black Mass a consecrated Sacred Host, obtained by stealth from a Catholic Mass, is corrupted in a vile and sexual manner and then becomes the sacrifice of this pseudo Mass offered in homage to Satan.


"Libranos del Mal. Amén”.

Recientemente me encontré con un programa de eventos para el Teatro del Centro Cívico (Music Hall Civic Center en inglés)  en Oklahoma City. ¡Imaginen mi asombro al leer acerca de boletos para una función de una "Misa Negra", que se presentará en esta institución pública!

Estoy dispuesto a darle el beneficio de la duda y asumir que este evento estaba programado sin el conocimiento de lo que se va a llevar a cabo. La llamada Misa Negra es un ritual oculto normalmente llevado a cabo en secreto entre los iniciados en sus misterios oscuros. Es asombroso que esto se esté realizando de manera pública y en espacio público. En una Misa Negra una Sagrada Hostia consagrada, obtenida por  sigilo de una Misa Católica, es corrompida de una manera vil y sexual y luego se convierte en el sacrificio de esta falsa Misa ofrecida en homenaje a Satanás.