Cross the Bridge for Life returns for first run post Roe v. Wade

Maura Baker, Staff Writer

With the month of May underway, the 2023 Cross the Bridge for Life is quickly approaching. This year, the event will take place June 4, at Festival Park, Newport. Festivities are set to begin at 1 p.m., with the namesake walk across the Purple People Bridge to begin at 2 p.m. Festivities for the 2023 Cross the Bridge for Life will include live music by Lee Roessler, face-painting and hot dogs donated by Bluegrass Meats. 

The first Cross the Bridge for Life was held in 2005. Despite missing a few years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event returned last year. 

“Every year it seems to get bigger, and we’re kind of rebuilding since COVID,” said Faye Roch, director of the Pro-Life Office for the Diocese of Covington and one of the event’s coordinators, “It did well last year, but we were in the midst of awaiting the Supreme Court decision (regarding the overturning of Roe v. Wade), so I think there was some fear with people attending last year, and it was a little bit harder to promote it.” 

This year, however, now that Roe v. Wade has officially been overturned and abortion legislation has been returned to the states, Cross the Bridge for Life is hoping to see if the “decision made a difference in the attendance of the event.” 

“We are trying to reach out ecumenically to a lot of the Christian protestant churches,” said Mrs. Roch, “to let them know about this event — because this isn’t about being Catholic. It’s not just a Catholic event. It’s about bringing our entire community together in support of the gift of life, at all stages.”

Register now for lottery to purchase discounted 2024 Eucharistic Congress tickets

OSV News — With contributions from Laura Keener, Editor

The Diocese of Covington has opened a lottery for its 250 discounted tickets to the 2024 Eucharistic Congress, July 17–21, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana. 

The congress is expected to draw more than 80,000 people, and organizers have compared the event to World Youth Day, with prayer and liturgies, catechesis for individuals and families, and a festival-like atmosphere. Registration is expected to fill quickly, Tim Glemkowski, executive director of the National Eucharistic Congress, told OSV News in an interview. 

In the Diocese of Covington, the cost of the discounted tickets is $100 each. Households may now go online — — to register their name and the names of household members for an opportunity to purchase tickets. Tickets are non-transferrable. Children under two do not require a ticket, so their names would not be required. Single adult households may include the name of a guest. Registering households must be located in the Diocese of Covington. 

Launched last year, the National Eucharistic Revival is a three-year campaign by the U.S. bishops to increase the Catholic understanding of and devotion to Christ’s real presence in the Eucharist. The Year of the National Eucharistic Congress and Missionary Sending 2024-25 is the third and final year of the U.S. bishops’ National Eucharistic Revival. 

Part of the impetus for the campaign was a Pew Research Center study in the fall of 2019 that showed just 30 to 40 percent of Catholics understand and believe in the Real Presence. A more recent study conducted by the Center For Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University found that 50 percent of Catholics know the teaching on the Real Presence in the Eucharist and only 40 percent believe this teaching. The study also showed that only 15 percent of Catholics attend Sunday Mass on a weekly basis. 

The revival opened June 19, 2022, on the solemnity of Corpus Christi, a feast that celebrates the Body and Blood of Christ. Many dioceses marked the day last year with Eucharistic processions. 

Speaking to the media in November about the revival, Bishop Andrew H. Cozzens of Crookston, Minnesota, said the beauty and diversity expressed in those processions “capture what is at the heart of this movement, which is a movement that we seek to invite people to a transformative encounter with Christ in the Eucharist that they might be healed, unified and sent on mission.” 

For additional information about the Eucharistic Congress and Revival or to purchase non-discounted tickets visit the Eucharistic Revival website, The Messenger contributed to this article.


‘Community Baby Shower’ offers assistance to moms, families in need

Maura Baker, Staff Writer

Curia staff loaded a Catholic Charities truck full of diapers, baby clothes, blankets and other necessities for moms and babies, April 26. The truckload of supplies was delivered to the Life Learning Center in Covington for distribution to families in need. 

These supplies were gathered from members across the diocesan community, from both parishes and schools at the urging of the diocesan Pro-life Office. 

This “Community Baby Shower” was hosted by the Northern Kentucky Pregnancy Care Network, a network of non-profit agencies and ministries collaborating to improve the health and well-being of childbearing families in Northern Kentucky. Around 160 people registered to attend the event. But, Faye Roch, one of the collaborators for the shower and director for the diocese’s Pro-Life Office, estimates over 200 people in attendance. 

In addition to providing the physical necessities for infants, members of the Pregnancy Care Network also set up tables at the shower, where families could walk around and learn about the multitude of services provided by these agencies and ministries — such as St. Elizabeth Healthcare, the Rose Garden Home Mission, Catholic Charities and Care Net. 

“It was a huge success,” said Mrs. Roch about the shower, “I think probably bigger than anticipated.” 

While challenges were faced, they were also overcome — and the Pregnancy Care Network intends to meet again to streamline the process; and intend to hold more community showers in the future, looking towards other counties in Northern Kentucky to host them in.

Sawdust carpets, 40 Hours, Eucharistic procession — you’re invited

Laura Keener, Editor

The three-year Eucharistic Revival makes a major shift on the solemnity of Corpus Christi, June 11. On that day, the Year of Diocesan Revival will end, and the Year of Parish Revival begins. 

In November 2021, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) called for a National Eucharistic Revival, “To renew the Church by enkindling a living relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist.” This is a three-year effort, which began June 19, 2022, on the Feast of Corpus Christi and will culminate with a National Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis, Indiana, July 17–21, 2024. 

To celebrate the transition to the Year of Parish Revival (June 11, 2023–July 14, 2024) in the Diocese of Covington, parishes are being encouraged to participate in the diocese’s annual Corpus Christi services and procession and a subsequent 40-Hour Devotion. 

Beginning the morning before the feast, Father Jordan Hainsey, bishop’s administrative assistant, invites parishioners to assist with making sawdust carpets. This centuries-old tradition was reestablished in the Diocese last year. Several hundred pounds of sawdust are dyed and fashioned into large carpet-like squares along the route of the Eucharistic procession. The colorful carpets feature designs and symbols inspired by the Cathedral’s decoration. 

Everyone is welcome to join in the creation of the sawdust carpets beginning at 5:30 p.m. in the gardens of the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption, Covington, June 10. 

On the day of the solemnity, June 11, Eucharistic adoration will begin following 10 a.m. Mass at the Cathedral. Confessions will also be heard. At 2 p.m., the priests, deacons and faithful of the Diocese will begin a liturgy of the Word service that culminates with Bishop John Iffert leading the Eucharistic procession. 

This year’s First Communicants are encouraged to wear their dresses and suits in the procession. To accommodate the expected crowd, the Diocese is asking the City of Covington and State of Kentucky to close the streets of the procession route. 

The procession will exit the Cathedral through its front doors on Madison Ave., travel one block down Madison and turn right on Robbins Street, then right on Scott Street, re-entering the Cathedral campus through the Scott Street parking lot adjacent to Covington Latin School, traveling past the North side of the Cathedral and re-entering the Cathedral back through the front doors on Madison Ave. 

Later that evening 40-Hour Devotion will begin after 5:30 p.m. Mass and continue until Vespers, 6 p.m., Tuesday, June 13. Confession will also be available Monday from 6–9 p.m. To ensure that the Blessed Sacrament is never left alone, adorers are asked to select a time using the online link on the Diocese of Covington website, Private security detail will be present at the Cathedral during the overnight hours, 9 p.m. to 6 a.m., Sunday and Monday. 

To assist parishes in their participation of the Parish Year of Revival, the National Eucharistic Revival website has made available a Leader’s Playbook, online at

During discernment, the priesthood always came out ‘on top,’ says Deacon Elmlinger as he prepares for ordination

Maura Baker, Staff Writer

On a Lenten evening, at around eight years old, Deacon Michael Elmlinger recalls his parents walking in through the front door. “My dad said to all of us,” Michael Elmlinger said, “it would be nice if there was a priest in the family.” 

While Deacon Elmlinger, as one of four boys in his family, knew that the comment wasn’t “singling him out,” the words stuck with him. 

The discernment of Deacon Elmlinger’s vocation to the priesthood was a “buildup throughout the years,” he said, but, now, years later, the diocese prepares to welcome him into the presbyterate with his ordination to the priesthood scheduled for Friday, June 2, at 6 p.m. 

Throughout high school and onwards, Deacon Elmlinger said that whenever he would consider what he wanted to do with his life, the idea of the priesthood always would “come out on top, even if it seemed that I was going in another direction.” 

“It just seemed like there was a tug of war going on between the priesthood and whatever other vocational path I was thinking about,” he said. “And then, going into seminary that tug of war just continued.” 

Despite this, Deacon Elmlinger said that as he began to go through seminary, “slowly over time”, he began to feel more at peace with the decision. 

Going through seminary, one of the most difficult challenges was the lifestyle adjustments he had to go through, he said — such as daily Mass and Holy Hour. “It was very different from what I was used to, and I think there was a little bit of an adjustment period there in the beginning … and discernment in the very beginning of seminary was very difficult.” 

“It was really hard at first to know where it was God was trying to lead me,” he said, “It took a lot of time. But, luckily, I had a great spiritual director while I was in Columbus, and a great spiritual director up here. They really helped me to discern where it is that God is calling me.” 

Deacon Elmlinger began his seminary studies at the Pontifical College Josephinum, Columbus, completing them at St. Vincent Seminary, Latrobe, Penn. 

His father’s death also proved to be a challenge. “That was one of the hardest points in my life,” he said, “There was a brief moment where I had considered stepping away from seminary.” 

“But, as I continued to pray about it, it just didn’t seem like the right decision— the person who planted the seed of my vocation was gone like that,” but he stuck to the seminary and continued his studies to the priesthood. 

Two saints will be included in the litany at Deacon Elmlinger’s ordination: St. Dymphna, and St. Peregrine. 

“St. Dymphna is the patron saint of people with anxiety and mental disorders,” said he said about the saint, “Which, anxiety is something that runs in my family, so she’s been a great intercessor for us.” 

“And St. Peregrine, being the patron of those with incurable diseases and cancer,” and, since Deacon Elmlinger’s father had died due to lung cancer, “St. Peregrine also became a major part of our devotional life and my family.” 

Deacon Elmlinger’s family will also be participating in his ordination Mass, with his siblings presenting the gifts to Bishop John Iffert. 

“I’m very excited,” Deacon Elmlinger said, “because this is something that I’ve been preparing myself for, for the last seven or so years. It’s also kind of surreal, in the sense that it (the ordination) is about here. I remember when I first entered seminary, it seemed like it was a long time away, and all of a sudden, here we are.” 

“There are so many people I have to thank for getting me to this point. I would not be here without the support of the people of the diocese or the support of my family,” he said, “It’s really encouraging, especially in those difficult times when it feels like you’re not really sure what you’re supposed to do. It’s really encouraging seeing all the support that comes your way, amidst it all, and I don’t think I could thank people enough for everything they’ve done.”

With praise and thanksgiving to the eternal Triune God, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Covington requests the honor of your presence at the ordination of 

Michael Kenton Elmlinger 

to the sacred Priesthood of Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit and the imposition of hands by the Most Rev. John C. Iffert, Bishop of Covington 

Friday, June 2, 6 p.m. 

Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption, 1130 Madison Avenue, Covington 

Getting to know the chimeras that have been atop the Cathedral for many years

Maura Baker, Staff Writer
It has been over a month since the iconic chimeras from the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption, Covington’s, roof were removed from their perch. After years of damage from the elements, the statues known as chimera (or gargoyles), will be recreated in terra cotta to preserve their iconic image for years to come as part of the Cathedral’s “Restored in Christ” initiative to maintain its outer beauty. 

After being safely and tightly secured in plastic and lowered via a crane, the chimera will soon be loaded onto a truck for their destination — Boston Valley Terra Cotta in Orchard Park, New York, who will be responsible for this restorative project.t 

As the “Restored in Christ” initiative unfolds over the next several months, thanks to the cataloguing of Stephen Enzweiler, Cathedral historian and archivist, the Messenger will illustrate and introduce many of the chimera. This week we meet the Shrouded Bird. 

My name is the Shrouded Bird— in French, Osieau Enrubanne, as my cousin on the roof of Paris’s Notre Dame would be referred to. Much like my fellow rooftop friend, the Vampire, my design was originally a creation by French architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc for the Notre Dame — but I was recreated by the hands of artist Edward Johnston, and brought to life by the Carl Brothers in Cincinnati, Ohio, between the years 1908 and 1910. 

Unlike some of my fellow chimera, some of which weigh well over 500–600 lbs., I can brag that I did not “strain the crane” this March when I was brought down from the Cathedral rooftop, as I am on the lighter side at 312.5 lbs. After all, a bird needs to be light in order to fly. 

For information visit

First Friday Veneration of the True Cross to begin May 5 at the Cathedral Basilica

Staff report
The Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption will begin offering First Friday Veneration of the True Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ beginning Friday, May 5 from noon to 1 p.m. in the sanctuary of the Cathedral Basilica, Covington. A relic of the True Cross will be shown for veneration in a special throne in front of the main altar for both faithful and pilgrims to venerate in prayer. 

The First Friday veneration is brought to the Cathedral Basilica through the combined efforts of Father Ryan Maher, Cathedral rector, and Msgr. Gerald Twaddell, prior of the local section of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem. The relic has been made available by Father Jordan Hainsey, a Priest Knight of the Order and custos of Relics for the Diocese of Covington. 

The relic will be shown in a new reliquary donated to the Cathedral Basilica for the monthly veneration. The cross reliquary features the traditional implements of the passion. 

“People have prayed before the Cross of Jesus ever since the earliest days of the faith,” said Father Hainsey. “It is one of the oldest and most devout practices in the Christian tradition.” 

“This is a great way for the faithful to continue to receive graces we received during Lent and at Easter,” said Father Maher. “In praying before the True Cross, we are paying the highest honor to the Lord through the instrument of our salvation. The Cross is inseparable from his sacrifice, so in reverencing his cross we, in effect, adore Christ himself.” 

From the very beginning of Christianity, the cross of Jesus has been an object of special veneration. The Apostles considered it the most important object in their lives and in the life of the world. 

“O precious Cross!” cried St. Andrew as he was being martyred, “How long have I desired thee! How warmly have I loved thee! How constantly have I sought thee!” 

Saints throughout history have all identified the cross as the only path to salvation. “Apart from the cross, there is no other ladder by which we get to heaven,” wrote St. Rose of Lima. 

St. John Vianney, patron of priests, observed: “Everything is a reminder of the Cross. We ourselves are made in the shape of a cross.” 

Even St. Paul, patron saint of the Diocese of Covington, wrote to the Galatians: “But far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” [Gal 6:14). 

“The cross is the symbol of our Order of the Holy Sepulchre, but more importantly, the cross is at the center of our faith,” said Msgr. Twaddell. “Whether one is able to spend five minutes or the whole hour praying before the True Cross, we hope people will come and take advantage of the opportunity to get closer to the Lord.” 

The relic to be used in the First Friday veneration is from the same cross found in 324 A.D. by St. Helena, the mother of Constantine. Tradition holds that she found three crosses buried at Golgotha but didn’t know which was the one on which Jesus had been crucified. To test and see which was the true cross, members of her courtiers searched for a leper at the outskirts of Jerusalem. Once one was found, they returned to the site of Golgotha, where the leper was instructed to touch each of the crosses one by one. He touched the first one and then the second, but nothing happened. When he touched the third cross, the leper was instantly healed of his leprosy. From that time on, the cross was known as “The True Cross.” 

As the years passed, tiny fragments were distributed to the care and protection of many Catholic churches around the world. 

“The First Friday veneration will be held at the same hour as we have confessions,” said Father Maher. “I’m so pleased we can provide this opportunity for people to partake in both the Sacrament of Confession as well as be able to pray before the True Cross where they can unite not only their sufferings with the Lord, but also their joys and hopes.”

Content provided by the Messenger.

The war on child sexual abuse: The most powerful weapon is education

Julie Feinauer, Contributor

Did you know that nearly 10 percent of children will report being victims of sexual abuse before they reach 18? Unfortunately, it is estimated that only about 38 percent of victims ever report. This means that the true impact of the problem may not be known. Also, those who are victims of voyeurism, exposure to pornography, sexting or other types of grooming where there is no touch but are harmed none-the-less, are not counted here, and would only raise the numbers of those affected. 

Recently the CDC stated that child sexual abuse is a national public health crisis due to the lifelong impact to health, opportunity and well-being. They state that the estimated lifetime economic burden of child sexual abuse in the United States alone is around $10 billion. These numbers are staggering, but together we can fight to bring about change. 

In the prevention of child sexual abuse, education and training are powerful weapons. When communities are educated about the tragic epidemic of child abuse, a new group is armed to aid in the protection of God’s most precious gifts. 

The Diocese of Covington Safe Environment Office is proud to share that nearly 34,000 employees and volunteers have completed VIRTUS — Protecting God’s Children training. These individuals have been instructed on how to identify deceitful grooming behaviors, how to calmly listen to a child who discloses abuse, and how to make a report of abuse to the proper authorities. 

These skills are invaluable and may save the life of a child. This training, followed up by the monthly bulletins and “refresher” modules help keep each user of the VIRTUS system up to date on the latest issues in child protection. In addition, principals, counselors, teachers, and Parish School of Religion teachers are further trained to educate children using the VIRTUS — Empowering God’s Children program (EGC). 

EGC, the children’s training platform, has made safe environment education equitable across all classrooms, Catholic school, Parish School of Religion (PSR/ CCD) and home school (by request and with their pastor’s approval). The lessons are designed to help children learn boundaries and safety in a non-threatening way that meets the needs of each grade level. 

The spiraled curriculum ensures that children learn about important topics over the course of their time in schools and PSR programs. We know that no child is responsible for their own safety; that is why a vital part of the program is assisting them in identifying those trusted adults in each of their lives. Children then know who they can turn to if they need to discuss difficult issues like physical or mental health issues, bullying or abuse. 

In addition to the EGC program, schools and PSR programs are encouraged to conduct training on (age appropriate) related issues such as bullying, drug and alcohol use, suicide prevention, and internet safety. 

Community programming is an important part of education. The Safe Environment Office kicked off the year with two outstanding presentations by Steve Smith with “A Wired Family.” Mr. Smith spoke about not only the dangerous predators that lurk behind the screen, but the illicit material that is easily attainable with just the click of a key. By discussing difficult but timely topics, everyone is better prepared for difficult situations that may arise in the community and maybe even in our own homes. The Safe Environment Office looks forward to providing additional community speakers and workshops in the coming year. 

Do your part to help win the war on abuse. Get educated about the topic, take the VIRTUS Protecting God’s Children training, attend a community program, or do some research on reputable websites like RAINN, The National Center for Victims of Crime, Darkness to Light, or the CDC. Support agencies that help children and families dealing with abuse, especially those in our area — the Family Nurturing Center, Northern Kentucky Children’s Advocacy Center, or the Diocesan Catholic Children’s Home are just a few of the places that work to ensure brighter futures for everyone. 

Above all, don’t be afraid to talk to others about what you have learned. Enlist others to the call of advocating for children. When we join in the army to protect God’s children, we are becoming allies to create a better world and a safe environment for all. 

Julie Feinauer is the director of the Safe Environment Office for the Diocese of Covington, Ky. 

Content provided by the Messenger.

Social Media

‘A Wired Family’ presentation helps adults navigate social media for teens

Maura Baker, Staff Writer

 In an age where technology is becoming increasingly prevalent, teens have more access to online content than ever before. 

Around 2009, Stephen J. Smith recognized how children and families were adapting to the ever-changing technology, and what he thought it was ultimately leading to. 

“As far as initially, their mental health, but just as important, how their privacy was being invaded, how they were being judged by people that will never meet them,” said Mr. Smith. 

Apps like many popular social medias have a business model that entices all people, not just children, to stay on as long as possible, Mr. Smith reports, having spent much of his retired life dedicated to education on social media and how it affects children and teens through his LLC, A Wired Family. 

“What that’s doing is it’s creating these surges of dopamine and cortisol, which is playing with the brain chemistry. Now for an adult, that’s one thing, but for children … while the brain is just being developed, it’s creating issues,” he said. 

The Safe Environment Office of the Diocese of Covington, responsible for training such as VIRTUS, will be sponsoring Mr. Smith for two presentations for adults in the upcoming weeks. The first will occur at 7 p.m. at St. Henry District High School, Erlanger, on Feb. 27, and the second will occur at 7 p.m. at Bishop Brossart High School, Alexandria, on March 7. Both talks are expected to continue until around 9 p.m. Presentations are free and require no reservations, but these specific presentations will be adult only. 

The presentations, titled “Social Media & the Adolescent Digital Tribe: Navigating the Teen World State,” are based on a book of the same name authored by Mr. Smith himself. 

“Stephen Smith has been doing this work for decades in our area,” said Julie Feinauer, director of the Safe Environment Office. “We’ve heard from all of our schools and have noticed a pretty big problem with social media and the kids.” 

The goal is to “pack people in” for the presentation, said Ms. Feinauer, selecting St. Henry and Bishop Brossart as locations to try and reach people in both the Northern and Southern reaches of the Diocese. 

“It’s mainly for parents, to foresee what’s upcoming with kids, as younger ones and then into their teen years, how to monitor what’s out there and what to be looking for,” she said. 

While Mr. Smith has presented in the past to various schools in the Diocese, with programs for both adults and students alike, Ms. Feinauer says that “we’re trying to bring the whole community together because we know that there are parishes and schools who might not be able to afford to have him come. We believe it is important to have equity as far as getting this information out.”

TMU Institute for Religious Liberty — defending religious liberty is an all or none proposition

Laura Keener, Editor

Dr. Ray Hebert, executive director, Thomas More University’s William T. Robinson III Institute for Religious Liberty, welcomed students and guests, Feb. 16, to Mary, Seat of Wisdom Chapel for a discussion on “Political Partisanship and Its Impact on the Future of Religious Liberty.” 

Asma Uddin, a religious liberty lawyer and scholar, was the keynote speaker, with Dr. William Madges, chair of Theology Department, Xavier University, as commentator. Dr Catherine Sherron, chair of TMU’s Philosophy, Political Science & Interdisciplinary Studies, was the moderator. 

Ms. Uddin introduced herself as “an American Muslim and I fight for the rights of Christians.” Among the high-profile cases that Ms. Uddin has argued include: Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, a case asserting Hobby Lobby’s religious exemption against the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate; Carson v. Makin requiring the state of Maine to fund religious education at private religious schools as part of its tuition assistance program; and Kennedy v. Bremerton School District, determining that high school football Coach Kennedy’s First Amendment rights were violated after he lost his job for praying at the 50-yard line after games. 

“I have defended the rights of Christians across the world … I have been motivated by a single principle: that religious liberty for some is religious liberty for none,” Ms. Uddin said. 

Addressing the evening’s topic, Ms. Uddin said that to understand political polarization, it’s good to understand polarization in general and group identity. 

“The idea is very simple. Each of us has our group. Our group is the ‘in group,’ and those outside our group are the ‘out group.’ Our attachment to our group is so significant that loyalty boosts self-esteem. On the flip side, studies have shown that if we are isolated from our group, the stigma acts on us psychologically and, also, triggers a physical assault on our bodies. What this means in practice is that, on an evolutionary level, humans are programmed to signal their allegiance to their tribe as a way of avoiding the loneliness and stress that comes with being cast out.” 

Out groups, she said, can be seen as threatening and may elicit fear and hostile reactions, especially when the status gap begins to close between the in group — the group that is larger in numbers and holds the majority of power — and the out group. 

“In America today, many of us have allegiance to our political tribes in a way that’s not very different from the usual intergroup interaction or competition,” she said. “Tribalism affects how we interpret and respond to information. Our desire for our group to win makes us less interested in finding the right answer to a particular question or debate and more interested in locating and shaping the information that will help us win the argument.” 

Political tribalism, she said, is having an impact not only on political campaigns but among members of society. “Unfortunately, in today’s tribalized political environment it is becoming harder and harder to be civil,” she said. Defining civility as “clinging and caring for one’s identity, means and beliefs without degrading someone else’s in the process. It is about disagreeing without disrespect.” 

Studies on intergroup bias show that an in group will react with hostility towards an out group when it finds the out group threatening. “Solving that problem requires us to lower the temperature to lower perception of the threat,” she said. Working together on shared goals, no matter how small, is a place to start. 

In his commentary, Dr. Madges focused on the Catholic understanding of religious liberty by a quick historical look at the evolution of Catholic teachings. “In this exposition three interrelated concepts are extremely important — human dignity, conscience and then religious liberty,” said Dr. Madges. 

The medieval and early modern Church for centuries held the idea of “extra Ecclesia nulla salus,” or “outside the Church there is no salvation.” 

“The Church claimed that it alone possesses the truth necessary for human wellbeing and salvation,” said Dr. Madges. 

The 19th century, he said, “was the century of revolutionary upheavals.” Intellectual revolutions — Immanuel Kant, “think for yourself”; scientific revolutions — Darwin’s theory of evolution; political revolutions – the French Revolution and Marx Revolution. 

It is in this context on Dec. 8, 1864, that Pope Pius IX issues his encyclical “Quanta cura” (“With how great care”), where he spoke out against the erroneous ideas that were gaining currency in the modern world. “In short, Pius was asserting the notion that error and falsehood have no rights. Only truth should be promoted and the Catholic Church had the truth.” 

Fast forward 100 years, after the Second Vatican Council pope’s have continued to affirm the principle of religious liberty very different from the 19th century, said Dr. Madges quoting extensively from Pope John Paul II 1991 World Peace Day message: “No human authority has the right to interfere with a person’s conscience. Conscience bears witness to the transcendence of the person, also in regard to society at large, and, as such, is inviolable. Conscience, however, is not an absolute placed above truth and error. Rather, by its very nature, it implies a relation to objective truth, a truth which is universal, the same for all, which all can and must seek. It is in this relation to objective truth that freedom of conscience finds its justification, in as much as it is a necessary condition for seeking the truth worthy of man, and for adhering to that truth once it is sufficiently known. This in turn necessarily requires that each individual’s conscience be respected by everyone else; people must not attempt to impose their own ‘truth’ on others. The right to profess the truth must always be upheld, but not in a way which involves contempt for those who may think differently. Truth imposes itself solely by the force of its own truth. To deny an individual complete freedom of conscience — and in particular the freedom to seek the truth — or to attempt to impose a particular way of seeing the truth, constitutes a violation of that individual’s most personal rights. This also aggravates animosities and tensions, which can easily lead to strained and hostile relations within society or even to open conflict. In the end, it is on the level of conscience that the difficult task of ensuring a firm and lasting peace is most effectively confronted.” 

From Pope Francis address at the “2014 International Conference on Religious Freedom and the Global Clash of Values,” Dr. Madges quotes, “Legal systems, therefore, whether state or international, are called upon to recognize, guarantee and protect religious freedom, which is an intrinsic right inherent to human nature, to the dignity of being free, and is also a sign of a healthy democracy and one of the principal sources of the legitimacy of the State. Religious freedom, acknowledged in constitutions and laws and expressed in consistent conduct, promotes the development of relationships of mutual respect among the diverse Confessions and their healthy collaboration with the State and political society, without confusion of roles and without antagonism. In place of the global clash of values, it thus becomes possible to start from a nucleus of universally shared values, of global cooperation in view of the common good.” 

In closing, Dr. Madges quipped that, “coming from a Jesuit institution, I cannot stop myself from making a Jesuit reference.” Quoting Ignatius of Loyola’s Presupposition: 

“… it should be presupposed that every good Christian ought to be more eager to put a good interpretation on a neighbor’s statement than to condemn it. 

Further, if one cannot interpret it favorably, one should ask how the other means it. 

If the meaning is wrong, one should correct the person with love; 

If this is not enough, one should search out every appropriate means through which, by understanding the statement in a good way, it may be saved.” 

Image: Dr. Sherron, Dr. Joseph Chillo, president, TMU; Dr. William Madges, commentator from Xavier University; Dr. Ray Hebert and Ms. Uddin, gather for a group photo before the presentation.