24th Sunday of the Year

Dear Friends in Christ,

1. I am delighted to announce that our new organist is Dr. David Rhyne, a master musician who is the Artistic Director of the South Carolina Bach Choir and an instructor at Furman University and the South Carolina Governor’s School. David will play on Sunday mornings during Mass at 9 and 11 am, at all celebrations of Vespers, and during special occasions throughout the year, and he will also assist Arlen Clarke with our choirs in a variety of ways. His work begins officially on 1 November 2015, though you’ll hear him at the keyboard a few times before then. Please join me in welcoming Dr. David Rhyne, Organist of St. Mary’s Catholic Church.

2. On Monday afternoon, Bishop Guglielmone will dedicate Holy Family Chapel in Charleston, one of the three buildings at our new Diocesan Pastoral Center. The chapel, the chancery, and a hall for meetings of various kinds have just been completed, and for the first time in years beyond reckoning, all of our diocesan staff in Charleston are located in one place. The new pastoral center has been years in the making and will serve as a wonderful resource for the priests and people of the Diocese of Charleston.

3. Two weeks ago in Rome, an announcement was made of a decision by Pope Francis to give every priest in the world the faculty of absolving the sin of abortion during the coming Jubilee of Mercy, but media reports of this decision created great confusion in two ways. First, every priest in the world already had the faculty to forgive the sin of abortion; what many priests around the world lacked was the authority to remit the penalty of excommunication that is often incurred by the sin of abortion, and that is what the pope extended to all priests. And the second misleading dimension of the report was this: nearly every priest in the United States – including all priests in the Diocese of Charleston – have had the faculty to remit the penalty of excommunication attached to the sin of abortion for many years. This means that the pope’s gracious gesture added nothing to what we have already had for decades; it was, rather, for the benefit of the rest of the world.

4. Then last week in Rome, another announcement was made about changes in the canonical procedures that govern how bishops and their tribunals decide whether or not marriages that have ended in civil divorce were ever true sacraments of Christ and the Church. A declaration of nullity means that what was once thought to have been a sacrament is now known not to have ever been a sacrament but was a civil contract only, and such declarations are no “easier” to obtain this week than they were last week. The procedural changes announced last week are intended merely to simplify and expedite the ways in which tribunals do their work, and these changes to canon law in no way modify the teaching of the Lord Jesus on the nature and indissolubility of marriage which is part of the revealed truth of the Gospel and which no one may ever change.

Father Newman