St. John Fisher Roman Catholic Church

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Catholic Daily News

ACI Prensa's latest initiative is the Catholic News Agency (CNA), aimed at serving the English-speaking Catholic audience. ACI Prensa (www.aciprensa.com) is currently the largest provider of Catholic news in Spanish and Portuguese.
  1. Vatican City, Aug 21, 2019 / 06:00 am (CNA).- Pope Francis decried hypocrisy and self-interest Wednesday, saying that Christian community should always be characterized by generosity and solidarity.

    "A life set only on profiting and taking advantage of situations at the expense of others inevitably causes interior death," Pope Francis said Aug. 21 in Paul VI Hall.

    “And how many people say they are close to the Church, friends of priests, bishops, while they are only looking for their own interest. These are the hypocrisies that destroy the Church,” he added in a departure from his prepared remarks.

    Pope Francis said he asks the Lord to “pour over us His Spirit of tenderness, which overcomes all hypocrisy and puts into circulation that truth which nourishes Christian solidarity.”

    The pope said that solidarity is “the inalienable expression of the nature of the Church,” which he called the “tender mother of all, especially the poorest.”

    “Being members of the body of Christ makes believers co-responsible for each other. Being believers in Jesus makes us all co-responsible for each other,” he said.

    “Among Christians we cannot say: 'Poor person, he has a problem at home, he is going through this family difficulty'. But, I must pray. I carry it with me. I am not be indifferent. This is being a Christian,” Francis explained.

    Throughout Pope Francis’ general audience, a young girl who appeared to have a mental disability, danced across the stage clapping her hands in front of the pope in Paul VI Hall.

    “We have all seen this beautiful girl - she is beautiful … victim of an illness and does not know what she is doing,” he said.

    Pope Francis asked the audience if they had prayed for this young girl and her family. “Whenever we see someone suffering we must pray,” he said.

    The pope stressed the importance of concrete acts of generosity in the life of a Christian, particularly with one’s time and money.

    “The sign that your heart has converted is when conversion reaches your pockets,” he said. “There  is where we see if one is generous with others, if one helps the weakest, the poorest.”

    In the life of the Church, there have always been Christians who stripped themselves of unnecessary things to give them to those who needed them, Pope Francis said.

    He pointed to the example of the early Christians described in the Acts of the Apostles.

    “A concrete example of sharing and communion of goods comes to us from the testimony of Barnabas: he owns a field and sells it to deliver the proceeds to the Apostles,” Francis said.

    “The Christian community is born from the overabundant outpouring of the Holy Spirit and grows thanks to the leaven of sharing between brothers and sisters in Christ. There is a dynamism of solidarity that builds the Church as the family of God,” he said.

    Pope Francis also pointed out that there were negative examples of hypocrisy and selfishness among this same community. He described the story of Ananias and his wife Sapphira described in chapter 5 of the Acts of the Apostles.

    Ananias and Sapphira sold a piece of property to give the proceeds to the apostles, but retained for themselves a portion of the purchase price.

    To which St. Peter responded, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart so that you lied to the Holy Spirit and retained part of the price of the land?... Why did you contrive this deed? You have lied not to human beings, but to God.”

    Upon hearing these words from Peter, Ananias fell down and died. “This cheating interrupts the chain of free sharing... and the consequences are tragic, are fatal,” Pope Francis said.

    “We could say that Ananias lied to God because of an isolated conscience,” he said. “Hypocrisy is the worst enemy of this Christian community, of this Christian love: that of pretending to love each other, but only looking for one's own interest.”

    “To fail in the sincerity of sharing … in the sincerity of love, means to cultivate hypocrisy, move away from the truth, to become selfish, to extinguish the fire of communion and turn to the frost of interior death,” the pope said.

  2. Vatican City, Aug 21, 2019 / 04:18 am (CNA).- The Vatican said Wednesday it respects the decision by the Court of Appeals in Victoria to uphold the conviction of Cardinal George Pell, while recalling Pell’s insistence of his innocence throughout the judicial process.

    The conviction of Cardinal George Pell on five counts of abuse was upheld by the Court of Appeals in Victoria Aug. 21. After an appellate panel announced its decision at a court proceeding, the cardinal was returned to prison.

    “While reiterating its respect for the Australian judicial system... the Holy See acknowledges the court’s decision to dismiss Cardinal Pell’s appeal,” Matteo Bruni, Holy See press office director, said Aug. 21.

    Bruni stated that “as the proceedings continue to develop, the Holy See recalls that the Cardinal has always maintained his innocence throughout the judicial process and that it is his right to appeal to the High Court.”

    Pell’s legal team has said it will thoroughly examine the over 300-page judgment before deciding whether to petition the Australian High Court in Canberra. Such an effort is expected by legal experts to offer very slim chance of success, given the appeal court result.

    Pell’s lawyers have said that he will not petition for a shorter sentence.

    Bruni concluded his brief statement Aug. 21 by expressing the Holy See’s closeness to victims of sexual abuse and confirming its commitment to carry out appropriate ecclesiastical procedures against clergy who have committed abuse.

    The Vatican announced in March the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith would carry out a canonical process against Pell at the conclusion of the judicial process in Australia.

    In response to questions, Bruni confirmed to journalists Aug. 21 that the CDF is “awaiting the outcome of the ongoing proceedings and the conclusion of the appellate process prior to taking up the case.”

    Bruni also referenced the precautionary measures imposed on Pell on his return to Australia in summer 2017, per Vatican norms: “the prohibition from exercising public ministry and from any voluntary contact whatsoever with minors.”

    The cardinal was convicted Dec. 11, 2018, on five charges that he sexually abused two choristers after Sunday Mass while he was Archbishop of Melbourne in 1996 and 1997.

    He was sentenced to six years in prison, of which he must serve at least three years and eight months before being eligible to apply for parole.

    The cardinal, 78, who remains an archbishop and a member of the College of Cardinals, was returned to prison immediately after court adjourned. He has been held in solitary confinement for 176 days. Pell is not permitted to celebrate Mass in prison.

    He may now be transferred from the intake and evaluation facility at which he is currently being held to a different prison in Victoria.

    Pell’s lawyers have said that he will not petition for a shorter sentence.

    A statement from the Australian archbishops’ conference Wednesday said the bishops “believe all Australians must be equal under the law and accept today’s judgement accordingly.”

    The statement also noted the Australian bishops’ commitment to bringing healing to those who have suffered abuse and to ensuring Catholic spaces are always safe, especially for children and vulnerable adults.

    Individual Australian bishops also released statements Wednesday, including Archbishop Anthony Fisher of Sydney, who said “reasonable people have taken different views when presented with the same evidence” in Pell’s case, urging people “to maintain calm and civility.”

    “I know that there are many in the Catholic community and beyond who will find it difficult to come to terms with this judgment,” Fisher said, “especially those who know the Cardinal and will struggle to reconcile this outcome with the man they know. I thank them for persevering in faith, hope and love.”

    “As we wait to hear whether the legal process will continue, I will seek to provide pastoral support to those Catholics who may have found their faith tested,” the archbishop added.

    The current Archbishop of Melbourne, Peter A. Comensoli, said in his statement that he knows “the complexity of the search for the truth in this matter has tested many, and may very well continue to do so.”

    He expressed his prayers and support for the man who brought the case against Pell before the courts, offering “pastoral and spiritual help, should he seek it.”

    Comensoli also said that he will ensure “Cardinal Pell is provided pastoral and spiritual support while he serves the remainder of his sentence, according to the teaching and example of Jesus to visit those in prison.”

  3. Minneapolis, Minn., Aug 21, 2019 / 04:00 am (CNA).- Archbishop Bernard Hebda of St Paul and Minneapolis reflected in a recent interview on several major milestones: his 60th birthday, 30 years as a priest, and 10 years as a bishop.

    In an interview with the Catholic Spirit, the archbishop emphasized the importance of a pastoral heart in the priestly vocation.

    “Being a pastor of a diocese is a little bit like being a pastor of a parish. It’s the same desires that you have for being able to make Christ known, being able to serve people, being able to bring the presence of Christ not only through the sacraments but also through God’s word,” he said.

    The archbishop celebrated Mass on July 1 at the Cathedral of St. Paul in honor of the 30th anniversary of his priestly ordination. Hebda will also commemorate his 60th birthday on September 3, and 10 years of being a bishop on December 1.

    Born in Pittsburgh, Hebda entered Saint Paul Seminary after he graduated from Harvard and received his JD from Columbia Law School. He was ordained in 1989 and, seven years later, he began his role at the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, where he served until he was appointed bishop in 2009.

    He said it was initially tough to leave behind a college ministry, where he had been placed as Director of the Newman Center at Slippery Rock University two years prior to his assignment in Rome. However, he said a priest must have a pastoral heart no matter the assignment.

    “A priest has to bring a pastoral heart to whatever task is before him. Even if it’s an administrative position, he has to bring to that a pastoral heart,” he said.

    “I came to recognize, though, that it was in the work that I was doing (at the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, responsible for interpreting Church law), even though it was very technical, legal work, that I was being given an opportunity to really participate in Christ’s priesthood.”

    In any vocation, he said, the most important thing is to place God above all else. He said this fosters acts of service for others.

    “I think [God] wants us to put him first in our lives. We love God and we love our neighbor. It’s a way in which we’re also going to have our hearts expanded so that we can serve others, too,” he said.

    The archbishop has led Minnesota’s largest archdiocese through a turbulent period. The archdiocese filed for bankruptcy in January 2015 amid many abuse claims that had been made possible under Minnesota legislation that opened a temporary window for older claims to be heard in civil court.

    Hebda announced in May of last year a $210 million settlement package for victims of sexual abuse.

    He is also leading the archdiocese toward a 2021 synod to address pastoral concerns and discern the call of the Holy Spirit.

    In preparation for the synod, the archdiocese will have 20 prayer events and spiritual talks. The first one will kick off on September 24. Hebda expressed hope that the process will lead the archdiocese to a richer connection to the Holy Spirit.

    “My hope is that we might, together, be able to detect the presence of the Holy Spirit. That we would find reassurance in that. We would be reinvigorated by that realization, as well,” he said.

    “I also am trusting that the process will help us to identify priorities for moving forward in a way that’s reflective not only of my own thinking but also the thinking of the faithful of the archdiocese, whether it be our priests, whether it be our lay faithful, whether it be men and women in consecrated life, it will all have a chance to shape the next steps we take as an archdiocese.”

  4. Oklahoma City, Okla., Aug 21, 2019 / 12:01 am (CNA).- The shy and unassuming Blessed Father Stanley Rother, a missionary priest and martyr from a farming family, would likely be surprised to learn that the largest Catholic Church in Oklahoma will bear his name.

    On Tuesday, the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City announced that it will be breaking ground for the Blessed Stanley Rother shrine in November. The $40 million shrine will seat 2,000 and be the largest Catholic church in the state once it is complete.

    The project is the “signature element” of the archdiocese’s first-ever capital campaign, the archdiocese told Oklahoma News 4.

    Besides the main church, the shrine site will include a prayer chapel devoted to Bl. Stanley Rother, where he will be buried, religious education and ministry classrooms, and a museum and pilgrim center with artifacts and stories about Rother’s life.

    “Padre Francisco”, as Rother was affectionately called at the mission in Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala where he served, was shot and killed by masked gunman early in the morning on July 28, 1981, in the midst of the country’s civil war. Rother had refused to call for help, not wanting to endanger anyone else at the mission.

    The five-foot-ten, red-bearded missionary priest was from the unassuming town of Okarche, Okla., where the parish, school and farm were the pillars of community life. He went to the same school his whole life and lived with his family until he left for seminary.

    In June 2015, the Theological Commission of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints voted to recognize Fr. Stanley Rother as a martyr. Pope Francis recognized his martyrdom in early December 2016, and on Sept. 23, 2017, Rother was beatified at a Mass in Oklahoma City.

    “The groundbreaking for the shrine will be a significant moment in the life of the Church in Oklahoma and for the broader community,” Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City told News 4.

    “The shrine is being built to honor Blessed Stanley Rother, an Oklahoma original and the first U.S.-born priest and martyr ever beatified. It will be a place of pilgrimage where the faithful will come from near and far to honor Blessed Stanley at his final resting place and to seek his intercession for their many needs. It will be a place of welcome, serving all people.”

    The groundbreaking for the shrine is set to take place at 3 p.m. on November 3 in Oklahoma City.

     

     

  5. Melbourne, Australia, Aug 20, 2019 / 06:31 pm (CNA).- The conviction of Cardinal George Pell has been upheld by the Court of Appeals in Victoria. After an appellate panel announced its decision at a court proceeding Aug. 21, the cardinal was returned to prison.

    “By majority (2 to 1), the Court of Appeals has dismissed Cardinal George Pell’s appeal against his conviction for the commission of sexual offences. He will continue to serve his sentence of 6 years’ imprisonment. He will remain eligible to apply for parole after he has served 3 years 8 months of his sentence,” Chief Justice Anne Ferguson said in her opening remarks in the Supreme Court of Victoria.

    “The offences in respect of which Cardinal Pell was found guilty by a County Court jury were one charge of sexual penetration of a child under 16, and four charges of indecent act with a child under 16. The trial lasted for five weeks. The jury deliberated for several days. The jury’s verdict was unanimous,” Ferguson noted.

    Pell stood stoic in the prisoner's dock while the decision was explained. His hands were not cuffed, but he was flanked by four security guards. He was dressed in clerical garb, rather than the prison uniform which he is now likely to wear for at least the next three years.

    He faced the bench as the judges explained their decision, with his hands at his side. In a break from his usual custom, Pell did not take notes as his conviction was upheld.

    In a statement released hours after the decision was announced, Pell's spokesperson, Katrina Lee, wrote that “Cardinal Pell is obviously disappointed with the decision today.”

    “However his legal team will thoroughly examine the judgement in order to determine a special leave application to the High Court,” Lee added.

    “While noting the 2-1 split decision, Cardinal Pell maintains his innocence.”

    “We thank his many supporters.”

    For her part, Judge Ferguson noted that: “Cardinal Pell’s conviction and this appeal have attracted widespread attention, both in Australia and beyond. He is a senior figure in the Catholic Church and is internationally well known.”

    “As the trial judge, Chief Judge Kidd, commented when sentencing Cardinal Pell, there has been vigorous and sometimes emotional criticism of the cardinal and he has been publicly vilified in some sections of the community.”

    “There has also been strong public support for the Cardinal by others. Indeed, it is fair to say that his case has divided the community.”

    The cardinal was convicted Dec. 11, 2018, on five charges that he sexually abused two altar servers after Sunday Mass while he was Archbishop of Melbourne in 1996 and 1997. CNA reported last year that his initial trial, bound by a gag order, ended in a mistrial; this fact was confirmed by Ferguson in the Aug. 21 proceeding.

    The cardinal, who remains an archbishop and a member of the College of Cardinals, was returned to prison immediately after court adjourned. He has been held in solitary confinement for 176 days. Pell is not permitted to celebrate Mass in prison.

    He may now be transferred from the intake and evaluation facility at which he is currently being held to a different prison in Victoria.

    Pell’s appeal was dismissed on all three grounds the defense presented.

    Judges were divided on Pell’s first ground of appeal, regarding the question of whether the evidence presented against Pell was unreasonable and impossible.

    At particular issue was the question of whether Pell's liturgical vestments could have been moved or lifted in the way described by the complainant, who alleged that Pell exposed himself and forced two boys to commit sex acts while he was fully vested in his Mass garb. While the defense argued that such an action would have been physically impossible, two of the appelate judges decided that was matter legitimately decided by the jury.

    The judges were unanimous in dismissing two other grounds, regarding procedural matters: one that alleged Pell’s arraignment did not follow protocol, and the other raising a complaint that an animation of the cathedral where Pell was alleged to have sexually abused to choir boys was not permitted to be shown during closing arguments.

    Ferguson, Justice Chris Maxwell, and Justice Mark Weinberg, delivered their verdict in a packed Courtroom 15 at the Victoria Supreme Court.

    Twenty-six accredited journalists and some 60 members of the public heard the judges’ decision announced Wednesday morning. Pell’s brother David, the cardinal’s former communications director, Katrina Lee, and the chancellor of the archdiocese of Sydney, Chris Meaney were all among the crowd.

    Ferguson said the judges had reached the decision after each of the them had watched video of the evidence given by 12 of the 24 witnesses who appeared in the trial.

    “Each of the judges has read [the trial] transcript, some parts of it multiple times,” Ferguson added, referring to the more than 2,000 pages of documents related to the trial.

    The session opened with Justice Wienberg registering his dissent from the majority opinion, saying that while he agreed with the other judges in rejecting the second and third grounds of appeal, which were technical and procedural complaints, he did not agree that the jury’s finding of guilt could have been beyond reasonable doubt on the evidence presented.

    Ferguson and Maxwell concluded otherwise.

    “Where the unreasonableness ground is relied upon, the task for the appeal court is to decide whether, on the whole of the evidence, it was open to the jury to be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the accused was guilty,” Ferguson explained.

    “Having reviewed the whole of the evidence, two of the judges… decided that it was open to the jury to be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt,” Ferguson said.

    “In other words, those judges decided that there was nothing about the complainant’s evidence, or about the opportunity evidence, which meant that the jury ‘must have had a doubt.’”

    Ferguson said that Weinberg's dissenting opinion found that the evidence of the single accuser “contained discrepancies, displayed inadequacies, and otherwise lacked probative value so as to cause him to have a doubt as to [Pell’s] guilt,” and called the accuser’s account of the second incident of abuse “entirely implausible and quite unconvincing.”

    “In Justice Weinberg’s view there was a significant body of cogent and, in some cases, impressive evidence suggesting that the complainant’s account was, in a realistic sense, ‘impossible’ to accept.”

    “Nevertheless," Ferguson concluded, "the appeal on the unreasonableness ground was dismissed because the other two judges took a different view of the facts.”

    Since Pell was first accused of sexually abusing minors, the cardinal has maintained his innocence.

    Pell has one further avenue open in petitioning the Australian High Court in Canberra. Such an effort is expected by legal experts to offer very slim chance of success, given the appeal court result.

    Pell’s lawyers have said that he will not petition for a shorter sentence. The cardinal, 78, is expected now to face a Vatican proceeding regarding the possibility that he has committed canonical crimes.

    This story is developing and has been updated.

  6. New York City, N.Y., Aug 20, 2019 / 04:00 pm (CNA).- A new commitment by business leaders to move past pure profit, and commit to employees, communities, and the environment, echoes what the Church has been teaching about business for years, a Catholic scholar has said.

    On Monday, chief executives on the Business Roundtable—181 CEOs of corporations like Apple, Amazon, Wal Mart, banks and other businesses from various industries—issued a new joint Statement on the “Purpose of a Corporation.”

    The updated statement alters more than 20 years of policy that previously held that the primary duty of a company is to provide profit for its shareholders. The Business Roundtable has issued regular statements on corporate governance since 1978, and in 1997 stated that “the principal objective of a business enterprise is to generate economic returns to its owners.”

    Now, the roundtable lists several other commitments of business leaders in addition to shareholder profit, including investing in employees through training programs, dealing ethically and fairly with suppliers, and caring for the environment and for local communities.

    “I think it’s a really good move,” Professor Andrew Abela, Dean of the Busch School of Business at the Catholic University of America, told CNA.

    “Church teaching has been, I think, some of the most sensible teaching on the role of a business anywhere,” he said, to “make a profit as well as to serve society.”

    The statement reflects those principles, Abela said.

    “It’s something that the Church has been saying for decades,” Abela said, noting that the new announcement is not an “about-face” on the priorities of corporations, but is rather “an expansion of the understanding of the purpose of the firm.”

    The statement will need to be put into action to be effective, but it gives “cover” to any business owner who claims that a company has duties to employees and local communities along with shareholders, Abela said.

    A Vatican document from May of 2018 explained the role of shareholders in ethical business dealings. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued its “Considerations for an ethical discernment regarding some aspects of the present economic-financial system,” saying that a business operates as “a true intermediate social body” within a “social fabric.”

    When a business pursues profit at all costs, the document said, “every ethical claim is really perceived as irrelevant.”

    This mindset leads to the promotion of “greedy and unscrupulous” executives, the document states. Furthermore, primacy is then given to shareholder profit and not to the well-being of employees, consumers and stakeholders, producing “a profoundly amoral culture—in which one often does not hesitate to commit a crime when the foreseen benefits exceed the expected penalty.”

    What the Church teaches is not a set of rules for business but “a way of life,” Abela said.  “Running a corporation well” involves various duties both “effective” and “ethical,” he said, including “taking care of your employees, taking care of your customers, taking care of the communities in which the corporation works.”

    Shareholders “are the owners of the corporation” and have property rights, he said, but other duties must be looked to as well. “And if you don’t do that, you’re not going to be long-term successful as a corporation, as a business.”

    The Church teaches private property rights in conjunction with the “universal destination of goods,” Abela said, “the idea that the goods of this world are for the good of all.”

    “What that means is if you own property, you ought to use that property to serve others,” he said.

    A New York Times article on the statement noted that it did not address the pay of executives being tens or even hundreds of times greater than lower-level employees.

    “It’s a controversial issue,” Abela acknowledged, saying that unjust pay is wrong and that executives should not be paid exorbitant salaries if a company is performing poorly.

    However, he said, “if a firm is doing well and paying its employees fairly, and making tons of money for its investors, then I don’t think anyone should put any limits on how much the CEO is being paid. It’s a rare skill to run a large corporation, a large complex corporation, especially in this litigious age.”

  7. Melbourne, Australia, Aug 20, 2019 / 04:00 pm (CNA).- Update: Cardinal George Pell's conviction has been upheld. Full story here.

    Cardinal George Pell is set to receive a decision in the appeal of his conviction for criminal sexual abuse of minors. CNA is livestreaming the decision here and liveblogging the proceedings below:



    Pell was convicted in 2018 for acts of sexual abuse committed against two choristers, while he was Archbishop of Melbourne.

    Following his convicted in the County Court of Victoria, Pell was sentenced in March to six years in prison, of which he must serve at least three years and eight months. Pell has remained in prison since that time.

    The cardinal has appealed his case on three grounds.
    This first ground of appeal is that the unanimous decision of the jury could not have risen to the level of “beyond reasonable doubt” because of the unchallenged exculpatory evidence of 20 witnesses during the trial.

    The second ground concerns the decision of the trial judge, Peter Kidd, to exclude a video presentation by defense lawyers which would, they maintain, have illustrated to the jury the implausibility of the victim’s narrative.

    The third ground is a procedural appeal concerning Pell’s arraignment, which was not properly carried out in front of a jury, which the defense argue was a “fundamental irregularity.”

    If the judges find in favor of the first ground, concerning the fundamental injustice of the jury’s verdict, Pell’s conviction would be overturned and he would be released from custody.

    A successful appeal on either of the other two grounds could result in a second trial for Pell.

    Should the court reject all three grounds and his conviction be allowed to stand, Pell’s legal team has confirmed that he will not be seeking to appeal the length of his prison sentence. There would also remain the possibility of a further appeal to the Australian High Court.

  8. Norwich, England, Aug 20, 2019 / 03:00 pm (CNA).- A controversial amusement park ride erected in Norwich Cathedral has come down after an 11-day installation. 

    Rt. Revd. Johnathan Meyrick, the bishop of the Church of England’s Diocese of Lynn, delivered a sermon midway down the helter-skelter slide during the final liturgy held in the cathedral with the ride present. 

    "God is a tourist attraction," Meyrick said, claiming that God would be “revelling” in the joy it brought to visitors. During the time the helter-skelter was installed, over 20,000 people came to visit the nearly thousand-year-old cathedral. 

    While an estimated 10,000 people rode down the 50-foot-high slide, the move drew criticism from Anglicans and Catholic alike. 

    The Right Reverend Dr Gavin Ashenden, former chaplain to the Queen - who is head of the Church of England - called the event a “mistake,” and misjudged “what a cathedral is good for.”

    "For such a place, steeped in mystery and marvel to buy in to sensory pleasure and distraction, is to poison the very medicine it offers the human soul," Ashenden told the BBC.

    In the sermon, Meyrick defended the decision to place the retro carnival ride in the cathedral, saying, that God wants to be “attractive” for humanity, and “for us to enjoy ourselves, each other and the world around us and this glorious helter-skelter is about just that."

    "Enjoying ourselves is a good thing to do and God will be revelling in it with us and all those people who have found fun and joy and laughter here,” he added.

    A Dominican priest told CNA that the slide, along with another carnival attractions brought in to a different English cathedral, was a sign that the Church of England has misplaced priorities. 

    Fr. Thomas Petri, O.P., vice president and academic dean of the Dominican House of Studies, disagreed with the Church of England bishop, saying that his rhetoric is “just close enough to be dangerous.” 

    “I would not say that God wants to be attracted to us. He is attractive to us. He is everything that is attractive in the world, everything that is good and lovely and desirable and pleasurable,” said Petri in an interview with CNA. 

    Petri characterized the implication that God had to lower himself in order to be attractive to humanity as “absurd.”

    “Everything God does He does perfectly, because He already is attractive,” said Petri. “It's we who cannot see this because of our sinfulness.”

    The helter-skelter was one of two unusual installations placed in Church of England cathedrals this summer. 

    In July, the Rochester Cathedral placed a nine-hole miniature golf course in its central aisle. The holes feature models of bridges, and the course will be open until September 1.

    Petri criticized these efforts by the Church of England to draw people in to the scared buildings, calling them suggestive of a warped sense of priorities for church buildings created to direct people towards God.  

    He told CNA that while God is present everywhere, including at the carnival, the construction of places of worship--whether it be a church, temple, synagogue, or other building--was one that was ordered by God and are special places specifically for that purpose. 

    The construction of houses of worship was “not something that we’ve invented,” said Petri. “This is something that God revealed, revealed in scripture, that there are to be sacred places where we are to worship Him and give Him praise. We don’t have the right or the option to do something other than that in those places,” he said. 

    “And so that's why when you try to bring the profane, the carnival, into the church and into the place built directly to worship God and to raise the mind and heart to God, not only is it confused, it's scandalous,” said Petri. 

    “It's a reversal of its priorities.”

    Norwich cathedral was built in the 11th and 12th centuries, with work beginning in 1096. Like many historic church buildings in the United Kingdom, it was Catholic for many centuries, until the foundation of the Church of England during the Protestant reformation.

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