Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302
Compiled by Father Tom Caswell, for the Inland Register
(From the April 18, 2013 edition of the Inland Register)
50 Years Ago: February 15, 1963
Your Bishop and You: Phone call from Minnesota
by Bishop Bernard Topel
This afternoon a long distance call came from Rochester, Minn. It was from Bishop Hunthausen of Helena, now a patient in St. Mary Hospital, Rochester. He told me that tomorrow he would have surgery on his back, for the second time.
About five years ago he had had a fusion. After that for some years his back gave him no trouble. Then recently he had periods of pain. Last year his condition grew worse about the time of his consecration as Bishop of Helena. And all the while we were at the Council in Rome he was troubled with pain – sometimes more, sometimes less.
In spite of that, we made arrangements to go to Guatemala. He wanted to go there because of his interest in a diocesan missionary effort. A few weeks before the end of the Council his back became so bad that we decided that he should cancel his trip to Guatemala.
Instead, he went directly to Mayo’s. There he was given some hope that with sufficient rest he might recover. In spite of the rest, he did not. Tomorrow, there will be the operation.
Many people have said, “Isn’t it a shame that bishop Hunthausen hasn’t been able to work in his diocese, first because of the Council, now because of his back injury?”
The answer to that question is “No.” Let me go into that.
In his talk the day of his consecration, Bishop Hunthausen said he recognized that his most important task is his own sanctification and after that, the sanctification of the priests, the Religious, and the laity. If it is God’s will for him to suffer, then this is his way of sanctifying himself and his diocese.
Suffering, the Royal Road
Suffering has been called the royal road to sanctity. Suffering for suffering’s sake is bad, but suffering for Christ when he wants it is good, very good. We must make use of the usual means for recovery. That is God’s will too. We must take medicine to achieve that. If a pain-killing pill is needed for recovery, it should be taken; though if it is not needed for recovery, it can be a holy thing to refuse it and to accept the suffering.
On the night of Bishop Hunthausen’s consecration I attended the public reception. There were many people there whom I had not seen for a long time. I took this opportunity to meet them. A man who had been a classmate with Bishop Hunthausen through four years of high school and four years of college came up to me and said, “You must be very happy; your protégé has arrived.”
My answer was, “Arrived? You are wrong. Through the years it was never my purpose to help him become a bishop. I always wanted him to become a saint.” In God’s merciful providence, this suffering may plan an important part in that purpose.
Pray God’s Will be done
I write so that you readers will pray for Bishop Hunthausen. Neither he nor I ask your prayers for his recovery. Rather, we ask that you pray that he accepts God’s holy will with utmost generosity.
There is no question that he is anxious to see God’s holy will in this suffering and to accept it generously. But the degree of his dispositions will matter much, and the mount of grace he receives from your prayers will make his dispositions that much better. His dispositions will in turn bring more grace. This is what really matters.
P.S. Last spring the Diocese of Helena was without a bishop, so there were no confirmations. I have agreed to confirm in the Helena Diocese four successive weekends beginning Feb. 22. There will be 22 confirmation classes.
Twenty-five Years Ago: April 14, 1988
Dom Helder Camara: ‘A dangerous gift’
by Jim Thomas, for the Inland Register
When Dom Helder Camara, the retired bishop of Recife, Brazil, spoke at Gonzaga University recently, it was not so much what he said – although that was important, too – but rather it was that he was so clearly filled with the love of God as he danced across the stage.
The joy, love and freedom of Christ were very much apparent as this frail servant of God addressed the overflowing crowd of 500. With bright eyes and glowing face, he spoke with a dynamic power, accenting his points with illustrative gestures.
In introducing the archbishop, Kathy Finley, campus minister at GU, referred to Dom Camara as “a dangerous man and a gift.” His life of following Jesus in service to the poor led the Brazilian military dictatorship to ban him from public speaking for 13 years. This same devotion to be a voice for the voiceless has led others to nominate him several times for the Nobel Peace Prize and numerous other honors.
In his address, Dom Camara cited a United Nations study which decried that two-thirds of humanity live in sub-human conditions, no better than animals – his definition of misery.
When Dom Camara speaks out on behalf of the poor, it is not to incite hate or violent revolution. Rather, he is asking people to use their intelligence: “Is it right,” he asked, “for 20 percent of the people to use 80 percent of the resources, while the poor 80 percent of humanity must survive on just the remaining 20 percent?” The liberation being proclaimed in the Latin American Church is for both those oppressed and those oppressing, so that all might recognize that they are brothers and sisters.
While praying for those in the United States because of their “very big responsibility,” Dom Camara also criticized the wealthy people in Brazil. In his native country, the gap between rich and poor is even wider than it is worldwide. The top 10 percent control 90 percent of the land, while the 90 percent who are poor control only 10 percent of the land. This injustice is the cause of many deaths each day from hunger and malnutrition.
(Father Caswell is archivist for the Inland Register, and a frequent contributor to this publication.)
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